Walking in the rain

Read-write-make-move is a sort of daily goal thing going on. It started on New Year’s Day, 2013, when I decided that goals beat the pants off resolutions. It’s hard to fail at a goal because it doesn’t have any real stopping spot. If I don’t meet my daily goal today, I have tomorrow. Goals are gentle and forgiving, goals are reachable. Goals give me a reason to reward myself.

My daily goal does a few things for me. It keeps me on the upside of my lifelong battle with depression and anxiety. It’s a harbinger of my downslides, which I am not always able to recognize until I’ve slid all the way to that place where I have panic attacks at work and can’t get off the couch for a week or two. Doing them makes me feel good and I cannot do them when I don’t feel good, in other words.

Reading, well it’s a given. I read everything. I read real paper books and fake books on my Kindle. I read other people’s blogs, essays, news stories. I read signs and boxes and instructions and the small print. Reading is a thread through my whole life. It connects me to afternoons in my Mommom’s rumpus room and Nancy Drew, to the pine tree next to the armory in Georgetown and Madeleine L’Engle, to candy striping and the volunteer book cart, to memorizing my general orders in basic training. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t read, or a time when I wasn’t excited about books and the wonders they are holding, just waiting for me to discover.

Writing is a little more complicated. I have a dream of being a real writer. I want to be paid to write, and paid enough to live on. I know, it’s crazy to even think that, isn’t it? But it’s my dream. To that end, I have several books in progress and I try to do at least a chapter of new stuff or twenty pages of revisions every week. I also journal daily and write blog posts occasionally. Some days, the only writing I can do is my journaling. Some days, I have to write in my special, paper journal – the one where I can vent all the really bad stuff and then burn it up. Sometimes I think I have brain gas and I just have to get the words out of me to relieve the pressure.

Making is probably the most generalized of these goals, and it has no rules. I carry a small knitting or crochet project in my purse and work on it when things are slow at work but I still need to keep my eye on stuff (can’t do that if I’m reading). I always have one or two bigger projects going on, too, and I usually set a daily row or section goal for them. Right now, I have a dishcloth on my desk from my purse and Multnomah at home, waiting for its one (or more) daily rows. I’ve also bought the yarn to make a gift for a couple of crazy kids I know and that may be started in the next day or so. Making might also be gluing some plastic bits to earring posts or weaving plastic loops into bracelets or adding a crochet lace border onto some Walmart pillow cases. It all counts!

Moving is really the only daily goal that I cannot afford to skip. I have to exercise every day. No medication will ever be enough for me without a daily influx of endorphins. I can’t be happy without it. I can be okay without it but not happy. I want to get up an hour early every day and do a workout video, walk at lunchtime, walk or bike in the evening. I aim for a number of miles every week, thirty in the winter and sixty when it starts to warm up. If I am feeling particularly generous to myself, I will put an audiobook on my iPhone and go for a walk then tell myself I’m walking and reading at the same time.

This week, I took a walk in the rain. Delmarva forgot that it was springtime and gave us a gray and rainy Thursday. I went to work in a sleeveless dress and flipflops. It was so cold out that I didn’t bother changing out of my work clothes and into my exercise clothes. I just tied on my sneakers, put on my cardigan, grabbed my umbrella, and left. Twenty minutes later I was damp from the waist down and happy. Happy is good.

Since my last post, I:

Before we talk again, I hope to:

  • Get to the lace border of Multnomah
  • Make five or so dishcloths (new pattern of course)
  • Clean the craft room
  • Take in my favorite dress, or at least move it out of rotation so I stop wearing something two sizes too big for me
  • Do three Sun Salutations in a row without pain
  • Start the new project for the two crazy kids
  • Eat less cake
  • Get my walking splits consistently under sixteen minutes (I can do this if I listen to music and not Knitting Pipeline, but I have so many old episodes to catch up on now that I’ve found it, I don’t want to stop!)
  • Finish uploading my “read before I die” list into Goodreads
  • Wag more

Memories and roles

I’ve been imagining my life laid out on a timeline, where each role I play or have played is blocked out over its span. I could compare them, look at the overlaps, do some serious study that might reveal amazing things about myself. The idea of it has popped into my front-head wanderings and into my dreams more than once over the past few days. I have even found myself going over towards where we store office supplies with the thought of grabbing the graph paper and crayons (yes, crayons, don’t judge) so I could get this out of my head and just move on, already.

But then, then. I find myself asking some questions that cannot be answered and that my mind would need answered in order to complete this project. For instance: If I outlive all of my siblings, would I still have the role of “sister”? My mind tells me no, I can only be a sister if I have siblings. I am okay with that answer, but it leads to the idea that I am no longer anyone’s granddaughter. The last of my grandparents passed away years ago. The idea that my Mommom’s lack of life would erase her existence, at least as far as I am concerned, is one that does not sit well with me. Every time I knit or crochet, things I do daily, she is there because she taught these things to me. Every time I write, I hear her voice when I was seven or eight telling me that I have words in me and I really need to be a writer. I will always be her granddaughter.

And so. With questions that cannot be answered, this timeline of my life’s roles will just continue to live in my head and provide me amusement when needed, like during meetings or when I am counting reps at physical therapy. I will think about how interesting it is that there was a period when I was mother, sailor, technician, estranged wife, girlfriend, daughter, sister, granddaughter all at once. It’s the technician and the sailor in the middle that makes that one interesting to me, because it defines the short period after active duty when I was in the Naval reserve. And I find the defining of these periods act like opening doors to memories.

And now you get one of my favorite memories from then. Brian, a man I worked with and dated, sort of (long story short – he had too much going on in his life and I was a hot mess so it didn’t work), did this amazing thing for me. I was a newly single mom, living a lifetime away from my family, struggling to make it on my own with two very young children. In the middle of a life that was often scary and seldom easy, Brian showed up on Mother’s day with a gift. He had found a cabinet at a yard sale, then he had taken my kids and helped them paint it. It was pink, yellow, red, green, blue. It was messy and sloppy and drippy and gorgeous. He brought that thing over to our apartment and placed it in the living room, then put a television on it and gave us a ta-da. What a thoughtful and beautiful gift, and what a wonderful memory.

Do you see how this will amuse me until something else comes along to take its place? And how much better is it if I don’t create this timeline physically? In my mind, right now, I see it laid out. I see the time when we lived in Tampa, and the memory of Brian and his gift is up above it in a little window, bright and shining and beautiful. I lack the talent when it comes to creating things on paper to create anything even close to what lives in my head. I’m sure you noticed the word “crayons” above, and that should give you a really good idea of the tools I have available to me when it comes to paper. Graph paper exists to map out filet crochet or simple cross stitch patterns and crayons are for coloring in my Hello Kitty coloring books. Don’t judge. It’s quite calming.

Last week I:

  • Finished Baby Emily’s blanket
  • Ate amazing seafood in Cambridge at Jimmie and Sook’s
  • Bought alpaca yarn
  • Discovered the glory that is Panera’s tomato basil bread
  • Met an amazing local cottage farmer and dreamed about being her friend
  • Discovered ESWA and re-kindled a dream
  • Started A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
  • Added four library e-books to my Kindle
  • Got more shots in my shoulder that don’t seem to be working all that well
  • Worked at UMES graduation (it was wonderful)
  • Ate in the student cafeteria

This week, I hope to:

  • Write a chapter in the untitled book
  • Add the next ESWA event to my calendar
  • Figure out what to make with that alpaca
  • Work on Multnomah
  • Get the DR server live and off my to-do list
  • Eat a little bit better, or at least eat fewer calories
  • Ride the newly discovered seven mile ride again

Just another Tuesday

If this were a podcast, I would be recording Episode 0, in which I tell everyone about me and what to expect from my blog. I think I shall do the same thing here.

My name is Karen. I am forty-four years old, twice divorced, engaged to a wonderful man named Wayne. We live in a sweet little house in Maryland with our spoiled cat, Noel. Between us, we have seven children, and it seems that one of them is always staying with us. Currently it is my daughter K. Wayne’s youngest, who lives with her mom, is on a visitation cycle so we see her pretty often, too. The rest come and go as adult children tend to do.

I work in the IT department at a local University. So does Wayne. But we work at different schools, which makes things more interesting. I am a Windows Systems Administrator, which basically means I am a generalist who does stuff on Windows servers. I dabble in Windows, MS SQL, Exchange, IIS, and a slew of applications that allow me to administer the Windows servers and that allow the University to function.

I have a plateful of hobbies. I read copiously. I write, not well but with great joy. I knit, crochet, sew, cross stitch, and embroider. I’ve dabbled in jewelry and lace making, refinishing furniture, gardening. I love to bake but am always dieting, or watching what I eat if you will, so baking has become an exercise in making things that taste like chocolate healthier.

When it comes to this blog, I plan to talk about my crazy fun life. I would like to share some of my writing, occasionally rant about things like poor customer service and welfare fraud (two of my biggest pet peeves), talk about interesting and cool tech stuff that is probably only interesting and cool to nerds, and occasionally discuss crafting. I suspect the most common theme will be life. Because it’s awesome.

Today, I:

  • Worked out
  • Updated tickets
  • Wrote documentation
  • Forgot about my to-do list
  • Cast on Multnomah
  • Did two rows on the blanket I am making for Baby Emily
  • Went to three doctor’s appointments
  • Ate pork and asparagus that Wayne cooked
  • Counted calories
  • Drank wine

Before I go to sleep, I will:

  • Pack tomorrow’s lunch
  • Read at least a chapter of my current book (The Book Thief)
  • Brush my teeth with prescription strength toothpaste (I have braces)
  • Snuggle with Wayne
  • Pray, which happens a lot more often than I let on

I’m happy to be blogging again. We shall see how it goes from here.