I saw a picture this morning on the Internet that gave me daymares and is still quite vivid in my head. Turns out it was some sort of lotus blossom photo-shopped onto human skin. It was beyond horrible and has since caused me to get Wayne to check my heels for weird holes and to look it up again. Because why not make myself nearly vomit, right?

Actually, I think it’s called research. Or something.

As far back as I can remember, some things with holes have freaked me out. I remember in elementary school, there were two types of lunch trays. One kind was smooth and plastic, top and bottom. The other was made of something like fiberglass and had all these irregular holes on the the bottom. I couldn’t use the holey trays because the feel of those holes under my fingers made me ill. The photo-shopped picture made me feel like that.

And so the research. It turns out that (quel surprise), I’m not the only person who spends hours trying to make their skin stop itching after touching (and it turns out, in some cases, seeing) things with holes. Some British scientists are trying to get trypophobia, or fear of holes,  recognized as an actual phobia. I’m just glad I am not alone – it actually makes me feel a tiny bit less crazy.

I did discover that my issues aren’t the same as everyone’s. Regular holes (honeycomb, a handful of straws, etc) don’t bother me at all but they are on the list of ick-inducing for others. Coral is a little bad. Plucked bird skin is worse. I saw a picture of a tree with all these irregular holes that had nuts in them – that one was shudder-creating. Anything on human skin (the aforementioned photo-shop deal, a picture of knees after kneeling on frozen peas [why???], one of stretch marks right after giving birth) gives me the very strong feeling that things are crawling all over me and the almost-real fear that those things are making clusters of irregular holes. In my skin. Oh my gosh.

It’s been a couple hours since I looked at the last picture. I tried doing a bunch of things to reset the oogie feeling. I folded and put away a load of laundry. I looked at pictures of kittens. I renewed the registration on Wayne’s car (yay for online MVA). I got myself a drink. I started typing. And I can still feel the crawly feeling on my head and my arms. Oh and one more weird thing – artificial sponges don’t bother me at all, and they have irregular holes. Only the natural ones. But loofahs – those things are nightmare-inducing. Just imagine all the creepy-crawly things that could pop out of those holes!

Okay okay stop, Karen. Just stop. 🙂

Subject change! We rode almost 45 miles today, ten of them accidental because someone took a wrong turn and someone else followed. I was a tee bit grumpy around mile 35 because it was humid, I was out of water, and the voice in my head that I have all but banished popped in for an encore and told me he did this on purpose. It took getting home, half a bottle of G2, a shower, and Edy’s chocolate peanut butter cup to shut that b*tch up. I bet she grew up in a sponge. Or a loofah.


Fibery stuff is not happening lately. The new job is taking up a lot of time and is requiring a good deal of depressurization that I’ve found happens best when I play stupid, mindless games like Candy Crush and dump my entire brain contents on Wayne. By the time I’ve talked it out, it’s usually time for bed. I’m not sure how many active projects I have (baby girl C’s blankie, a Clapotis, a Now in a Minute, C’s afghan – and I’m sure there’s more, like a sock or something?). I did bookmark a couple patterns today before the whole freak-myself-out session, though, so obviously it’s in my head, just not demanding too much attention.

Reading is…. happening. I’m working my way through Columbine by Dave Cullen (Kindle, library book). It’s really good but it was depressing me so it’s taking a break while I read Gangsterland by Tod Goldberg. Folks I love this book. I’m about halfway through and it’s just awesome. I’ve been listening to Tod on Literary Disco almost daily for the past few months – I discovered the podcast when they were already several years in and started at the beginning – and I hear his voice while I read. Normally, I don’t hear any voice at all, so this is an interesting, albeit strange, experience. Perhaps I should get one of the books of poetry that Rider recommends on the podcast to see if I hear his voice, or maybe try Joan Didion in Julia’s. I also started A History of Loneliness by John Boyne on the Kindle (not sure if it’s a library book or Bookbub). I’m only 5% in so I can’t really give a firm opinion yet but it’s wonderfully Irish and fraught with angst so far. I’m expecting it will be quite good.

After the three I have going, I have two more physical library books to read (Gangsterland is a real book, much like the velveteen rabbit became a real bunny). They are Empire Falls by Richard Russo (recommendation of the wondrous Tod Goldberg by way of a Literary Disco episode) and Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen (my mom said I’d love it). And after those five books I think I will allow myself to read the third book in the Touchstone series. I don’t think I’ll be able to hold out much longer than that.

Now I think it’s time to read until I fall asleep. If I can stop itching, that is.


Once more into the breach!

I love Friday morning in the summer. Today I’m wearing my jeans and this awesome sleeveless shirt – it’s tan colored and dotted with camels. I just re-found it in my backup closet (don’t ask) yesterday when I was hunting for a black skirt. But this isn’t about clothes! It’s about Friday. At least that’s what it’s about right now.

It’s almost the end of an extremely busy work week. I’ve put in a bunch of extra hours, despite leaving early on both Wednesday and Thursday. I am not sure if it’s been a particularly productive week – I’ve been too busy to really notice if anything at all is getting done. It has been interesting, though. And I chose to cap it off with the first official team meeting for my new team, scheduled for 9 AM. I have a 10:00 remote webinar scheduled today, too, which will help keep the team meeting from going long. I suspect it will not go long for the first one, though, but better safe than sorry. The group has a tendency to not speak out a whole bunch, and since people higher than me in the food chain will be present, I imagine that will not change today.

I am nervous about it, though. It feels like another hurdle for me to get past, over, around, whatever.

And even though someone else is nominally in charge of our student workers, I think I may need to schedule a meeting next Friday with them. As a group, they are much more vocal. I’m actually looking forward to that one.

But back to today. I was awakened by the cat pouncing on my toes, which I am quite sure were not moving. She’s just evil. Because it’s normal hours today, I didn’t get the princess treatment Wayne’s been dishing out this week in his effort to get me ready and out the door early enough that he could stick with HIS routine and not be late. Instead, I made my own (too strong) coffee and my own breakfast. I finished off the strawberries because, well, desert. And then I sat with my coffee and finished my book. Of course I immediately started another, like the crazy person I am.

Right now, I am sitting at the kitchen table listening to a symphony of birds singing outside (the back door is open), accompanied by the hum of the refrigerator and the ticking of the kitchen clock. I’m typing on my resurrected Chromebook, which was returned from the repair depot earlier this week. My Hello Kitty travel mug of coffee is close at hand. I’m all packed up and ready to leave and longing to linger.

I’m thinking about sitting on the deck. It’s the perfect time of day, not yet breathe-through-a-sponge humid. I could take a cup of coffee out there with my Kindle and the cat. She would sit in my lap for a bit, purring and rubbing her chin on anything semi-firm. Then she’d go off somewhere and I’d turn my chair so I could prop my feet up on the next level of the deck and sink into a world painted by someone else’s words. I could stay out there until the sun creeps over the garage roof, or until I run out of coffee, or until the coffee revisits in the other direction (wink wink). The cat would run off to pounce on clover flowers and then come back and demand attention. I would read and sip and listen and relax.

I’m also thinking about the sofa. I’d curl up in my usual corner, again with coffee close at hand. Of course, I would close the back door and turn on the air conditioning first. Then I could curl under my favorite blanket and not feel too hot. I’d sit my Kindle on the coffee table, propped up by something, and grab the blanket I’m knitting for the granddaughter because it’s a simple enough pattern to knit while I read. I might find some awesome music on Pandora and cast it to the television and fill the room with something indie or maybe classical or even jazz, Coltrane-type jazz of course. I would knit, feeling and hearing the swish-click of the needle tips and the notes of the music. I’d sip my coffee. I’d relax.

But it’s Friday, not Saturday, so that means I need to hang my lanyard around my neck, get into the car, drive a bit south, and prep for this meeting. Relaxing, reading, and knitting will have to wait. I can, however, dial up some Coltrane in my office.

I think it’s going to be a good day.

It’s in the can

The first real week of the new job, that is. I found it extraordinarily frustrating. I spent many years doing the same work and now, at the ripe old age of 45, I have changed track, albeit just slightly. I’m still in IT but my role is definitely not that of a sysadmin. I am still not entirely sure what’s expected of me – we had a massive emergency crop up on Wednesday that kept the team on their toes for the rest of the week. It could have been really bad but instead I got a chance to see them in action and I must say I am more than impressed. They churned and burned and did a massive amount of work (work that should not have been necessary) in a short period of time, despite an obvious lack of appreciation from some quarters.

I had scheduled a sit-down with the people above me and lay out what is expected of me both in a day to day sort of manner and what they would like to see changed. I want a feel for where they see the priorities so I know where to put my focus. That meeting got delayed in favor of all-hands-on-deck, though, and then I was sort of bowled over by all of the other things that kept cropping up. It seems that purchasing computers and peripherals for the campus is one of my duties. This is a process that lacks a process, so to speak. There is no documentation, there is no real supply of spares or of equipment that can be transferred from our cost center to another. The lack of a process means that I am juggling requests and quotes, trying to prioritize, and spending far more time than I should on the whole thing. I can see that I am looking at purchasing taking at least half of my time until it’s all fixed, and that might take months. And it’s such a hot mess now, it’s hard to know where to start.

The next couple weeks will be dedicated to a major, campus-wide project and the answers to what is expected of me and how I am to organize and prioritize will not be answered until after that. Meanwhile I will become more and more lost. The campus has not been notified of the changes that have been made so things that should go to me go to the person I replaced, which is itself causing problems. I don’t know why that piece was forgotten but it is yet another bit of this experience that is frustrating me and making things harder than they have to be.

But I was told by one of the members of my new team that he was impressed with something I did. I got another team member to smile and talk about something other than the things that make her angry. I met some new people, shook hands with them, made them laugh (or at least smile). These tiny blessings make the struggle almost worth it. They make me believe that I can  do this, that I will  do this.

Plus, I put an owl on it, and called it art. Just saying.

Meanwhile, on the home front, our newest family member Bunny Foofoo is settling in to a life of overturning his litter box at 2 AM and harassing Noel, the kitty. One of the old, copper pipes that feed the upstairs bathroom burst and caused my sweet Wayne all sorts of stress and heartache (I am so glad he’s a worker and just jumped right in and started fixing things). The pipe has altered our remodeling timeline and we are both list makers and planners so timeline altering is not something either of us likes. This, too, shall pass though. As does everything else.

I’ve started knitting a baby afghan for Baby Girl C, Wayne’s second granddaughter. I’m so excited about the idea of a wee baby girl. Her mom-to-be just found out this week that she is, indeed, a girl (we sort of figured that she would be, considering that her mom is one of five sisters and her only cousin is a girl). It’s the only yarn-like thing I’m working on because it’s insanely hot and all I want to do is drink wine spritzers and read Chick Lit. Everything else will be hibernating for now, and I am cool with that. It’s a phase, and it will also pass. 🙂

Book wise, besides the aforementioned Chick Lit, I accidentally stumbled across some not bad good books recently:

  • If I Stay by Gayle Foreman (YA) A girl is in a car with her family when they’re in a terrible accident. She has to decide if she’s going to stay (i.e., live). It was quite readable and may have made me cry, a little bit.
  • Let’s Be Frank by Brea Brown (Chick Lit) The male protagonist, Nate, a nurse in a pediatrics practice and a lover of well-crafted chick lit, poses as an author named Frank at the behest of his domineering girlfriend. She wants to publish books as a man and finds Nate to have the perfect look. It’s very well-written and funny.
  • The Not So Secret Emails of Coco Pinchard by Robert Bryndza (Chick Lit) British author Coco Pinchard is a hot mess and I want to go out for a beer with her. She makes every mistake under the sun and makes you want nothing to be on the receiving end of one of her emails. Brit-chick-lit rocks. This one made me laugh out loud more than once and I might read it again,  it was so funny
  • Stray by Andrea K. Host (YA, Touchstone Book 1). This one I’ll be doing a full review on at some point, but as a synopsis: a Australian girl Cassandra Devlin who steps through something akin to a wormhole and finds herself in a strange, new world.

Right now I am reading a time-traveling book that I don’t love but that isn’t too bad. I’m trying to talk myself into spending the money to buy the second and third books in the series the Touchstone series. I guess since the first one was an e-library-book, I’ll buy them on Kindle – that way I won’t stress the imbalance of seeing books 2 and 3 on the bookshelf without a book 1.

Reading what I’ve written, it sounds like I’m insanely busy, especially when you take into account that the new job is demanding that I work a lot more hours than I have been recently. And then I remembered that we are also bike riding regularly, around 60 miles a week most weeks. I’d like to step that up but it’s hot and I can’t seem to get any more hours out of a day. Wayne registered us for this year’s Seagull Century earlier this week, though, so I have to ride regularly or I won’t be ready. Maybe I should sleep less, or something.

Until next time….

Take a deep breath, and then take another…

Wayne and I are on vacation this week. We’d made tentative plans for a super long bike ride and a B&B, then a return ride, but canceled and used the money we’d set aside to help a couple of our kids through a rough patch. We could have gone to work when our plans fell through but chose to do some things locally and sort of re-center ourselves. Today is the halfway point of our time off and I think it’s working, this whole reboot thing. 

I’ve been doing a great deal of reading. Much of it has been light and easy, nothing that I will bother to review. I’m currently on the second Jack Finney Si Morley book (cited by my mother as among her favorites). I was sure I’d read these before but it turns out I haven’t. They’re rather interesting, if dated. I love time traveling books, and the male traveler/protagonist is unusual  so that’s cool. The first book was written in the 60s; what’s “modern” for the characters is like time travel for me, also cool. I should finish the second one tonight and am eyeing a Wally Lamb as the next selection. 

Creating-wise it’s been a slow one. With my youngest step-daughter’s design help, Wayne and I built a cool shelf with hanging pegs for the kitchen and I’m working on some knitted bowls for that (they’ll be felted). I’m also making a bag, my design, out of some yarn like stuff I found on sale at Michaels. It’s like tee shirt yarn only fleece. It’s my non-thinking project, good for the car and knitting group. I have a baby blanket going for my oldest step-daughter’s first baby that I think will get frogged on the 9th and redone in either pink or blue (that’s when she’s finding out the sex – we all think it’s going to be a girl). And there’s a shawl and sock languishing. 

But! I’m not working on any of those. You see, we went kayaking yesterday. I thought my arms or chest would be sore but it seems I’m in better shape than I realized. The only thing that’s sore is my hands. Go figure. I’d just recovered from the sore wrists caused by riding a metric century on a hybrid bike on Saturday. I know. Nuts. At least I’m moving some to try to make up for my vacation eating. Peanut butter toast for breakfast. Grilled cheeseburgers for lunch. Fritos and peach wine for dinner. I know!

I might try putting something on the TV tonight, maybe a movie, and working on something easy like the 2nd wool bowl. Then I can felt them tomorrow and take them to knitting group on Sunday for show and tell. We shall see. 

I’d also considered getting in some hardcore revising on HPS during this bit of downtime but my brand new Chromebook had to be sent off to the repair fairies. I have some sort of block about writing on my laptop. I think because it’s work-issued, I feel it is a work tool and my writing is separate from my day job. I like having a dedicated device, you know? I guess I’ll miss the free copies deadline of June 30 but it’s all good. There’s next year, right?

So I’m lazy. I’m relaxing. I’m eating. But even though I’m taking naps and sipping iced coffee and losing myself in endless novels and rounds of Candy Crush Soda, I am still trying to live intentionally. Each day is an opportunity to choose my mood and where I will spend my emotional currency. I’ve learned a lot in the recent past and am thankful for those around me who support the changes I’m trying to make, who hold me up whenever I’m not too steady on my own mental feet. 

When we go back to work on Monday, I’ll be starting my first full week in my new job and I’ll need all the calmness, coolness, and collected-ness I can muster. I hope to prove myself worthy of the faith my director and CIO placed in me when they offered me this opportunity. It’s exciting, nerve-wracking, and nail-biting awesomeness. As an old boss likes to say, “front row seats to the show!”

For now, though, I am still on vacation and there’s a certain lop-eared, wooly, silly bunny rabbit who needs his daily brush and a guy in 1912 doing crazy time traveling stuff that I need to read about. Those front row seats will still be there on Monday morning!