Unwound

4-ish, Sunday afternoon, end of a three day weekend. The house is clean, the shopping done. My clothes are laid out for tomorrow. Between now and when I go to bed all I have to do is make my lunch and ask Wayne (a.k.a. my human alarm clock) to get me up early enough to spend some time at the gym before work. It’s been a weekend, for sure.

I am finding myself in a place where I am not doing anywhere hear as much as I normally do. Mostly, I’m sleeping a lot and reading a ton. But I’m not getting much knitting done, I haven’t exercised since Thursday, I haven’t tracked my food, I’ve been eating like I’m carrying sextuplets and they’re all destined to become sumo wrestlers. There have been times in my life where this combination of things represented a real problem, a need to get my meds adjusted or the beginning of a slow roll downward into one of those nasty depressions. But I feel okay, actually I feel pretty good. I’ve made the decision not to worry.

Some things that have happened this weekend:

  • I watched 5 Flights Up, loved it, cried so much I couldn’t knit.
  • I watched If I Stay with the Squirrel. I started out bashing how it wasn’t 100% accurate (I read the book not too long ago). But then… I loved it and cried so much I couldn’t knit. Seeing a theme here?
  • I watched the 2013 Carrie with the hubs & the Squirrel. I may have gotten a little snippety at all the questions – I was the only one in the room who had read the book and seen the original movie. It was okay and I’m glad I watched it. I didn’t cry. I got about 20 rows of the grandbaby’s blanket knitted.
  • I fixed my Goodreads account so it has my name on it and not Wayne’s (long story short, he got my Kindle for me as a birthday gift and it was pre-configured on his Amazon account…)
  • I finished Gangsterland, read Empire Falls, read Water for Elephants, worked on A History of Loneliness, started The Things They Carried. All of it amazing. It’s been a rather good reading week all in all.
  • I had a dream about a way to take feelings from one person and give them to another and started writing a story (book?) about it.

Tomorrow it’s back to the real world, the world of counting calories and eating salad, of sweating like a pig and not eating Edie’s Butterfinger, a world of the job that still feels new (and is still kicking my ass) and apps to build and meetings to attend and drama-attitudes-etc. Tomorrow is shoes that aren’t flip flops and no afternoon nap and answering emails. Tomorrow it’s being that other Karen, the one who isn’t told “That’s okay hon, just get your read on, I can take care of this myself.” Love that man.

Speaking of loving him, Tuesday is our first anniversary. I’ve purchased a suitable gift, one made of paper, that I really hope he loves. We both took the day off. We have a half-made plan to ride our bikes to Cambridge and split an order of seafood nachos at Jimmie & Sooks, then ride back. It would be about a 70 mile ride round trip so we would totally swing a second meal out – maybe Plaza? All I know for sure is that we’ll spend the whole day together, just like we did last year. I’m really looking forward to it. 🙂

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Crazy!

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.

Anyway!

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.

Knitting group!

I’ve been strongly encouraged by my dear and loving husband to get out of the house more. I was fighting it, let me tell you. There is little I like more than curling up on the couch with a book and my knitting (super easy if the book is on the Kindle) for an evening. But then…

A couple months ago, I talked Wayne into joining me at a program at the library. He was miserable but he hid it well and did it for me. I, however, felt that I had found my people. The lady sitting next to me commented on my knitting and asked if I was part of the knitting group that meets at the library. I said no, but the question sort of layered itself on top of Wayne’s encouragements and I thought this might be the thing. I could knit with others, right? Surely the knitting would not suffer from being done at the library?

Well yesterday, I went. And I am over the moon! I thought the book people were my people; I was wrong. The knitters are my people (to be clear, it’s a knit and crochet group – I don’t want to denigrate any of my fellow fiberistas!). They welcomed me with open arms. About two minutes after I sat down, I felt as if I’d been hanging out with those women for months. The stories! The yarn! The patterns! The jokes!

The pizelles!

I copied down the address for the next meeting. I put it on my calendar. I squeed and shook hands and barely restrained myself from hugging every one one them. I’m a hugger, what can I say? But even I know better than to hug people I met two hours earlier. I’m saving that for next time.

This morning, I woke early and refreshed, still feeling a bit of the warm-and-fuzziness from yesterday. I did some yoga and a bit of meditation. I wrote in my journal. And then I went upstairs, pulled out the plastic tub that holds my yarn stash, sorted, and dreamed. Noel followed me up and sat on a box across the room, watching me and making the little cheep-purr noise that she makes to remind us that she’s there and happy. I re-rolled balls and thought about what I want to make next (a pair of toe-up socks, a pencil skirt made from granny squares, a toy for Breccan, baby booties, fingerless gloves – all of them at once!).

Sometimes I just need to feel my fingers plunging into yarn, what can I say?

I closed up the tub and put it in a new spot; front and center so I can see all that yummy yarn waiting to be made into beautiful and warm things. I picked Noel up (she butted her nose against my chin – kitteh kisses), and carried her downstairs. I got ready for work, feeling this wonderful combination of excitement and calm, sort of like I have my feet so well grounded that my head is able to go exploring. I’m catching myself smiling, thinking about the yarn, the knitting group, and how smart my husband is. Life really is good.

Lazy Sunday mornings

We had planned a bike ride today, forty or more miles. We only have a few weeks left before the Century to train. But life and weather decided not so much. 

It started earlier this week, when Wayne picked up a particularly nasty cold. He’s one of those people (bless them) who goes to work sick unless he is really too sick to work. I am not. Of course he passed his illness to me. We really do share everything. I started feeling bad on Wednesday and when I woke up Thursday morning with the simultaneous feelings that I could not catch my breath and that my throat had been cheese-grated in my sleep, I called off work. Wayne was still sick; he called off as well. I spent the day either snoozing on the couch or curled under a blanket with my Kindle. No exercise of any sort happened.

On Friday, I woke feeling a little better but far from good so I called out again. When Wayne left to go to work, I went back to bed and slept until he got off at 11. There was lunch and there was more resting and the consumption of copious amounts of ibuprofen. I propped myself up well enough to take a shower (you’re welcome) and get dressed so I could go with Wayne to his eldest daughter’s wedding rehearsal. I cried, a lot. I could blame it on still being a bit under the weather but that would not be entirely true. I’m just a crier, plain and simple. We went to the groom’s parents’ house for a little buffet dinner party, where we met a lot of their family, most of whom I won’t remember – I am terrible with names – and then it was home and bed, pretty early for a Friday.

Saturday I lazed around in my jammies for hours before deciding I needed to do something outside of the house. I trekked to Goodwill and picked up some stunningly cute dresses (I did a super job choosing them if I do say so myself). Then I picked up my son to have some mama-mama’s boy time. I took him to the mall to help me pick a couple pairs of shoes. I took him to Barne’s and Noble where I got iced coffee and he got a Frappaccino. We went to a drug store and he helped pick a card for the wedding and we picked up some random stuff. Then I dropped him home, went home myself, and got ready for the rest of the day.

And then it was time for the wedding. My husband looked amazing in his suit, and he did his job of giving his daughter to one of his close friends with grace and humor – basically as he does most things. I got to meet some of his relatives for the first time. I gushed over his beautiful daughters; the bride was stunning and her sisters/bridesmaids were heart-breakingly lovely. I drank beer and champagne and wine. I danced a little bit and gave out hugs. I ate amazingly good food and talked to a bartender who reminded me of my daughter. I snapped pictures, first with one of the girls’ digital camera and then with my phone. I smiled so much my face ached. I drank so much that I started stealing cigarettes. I had a wonderfully good time.

When we got home, we barely managed to get into jammies before falling into bed and sleep. I have no idea what time it was. I woke at 2 AM with a dry mouth and a pounding head. I got a glass of water and a handful of ibuprofen and went back to bed. After lying there for a few minutes, feeling the pain pulse in my temples in time with my heartbeat, I realized that I would not be quickly going back to sleep and got out my Kindle to start reading. A couple hours later (I saw 3:45 when I went to get my third glass of water), I went back to sleep to the sounds of thunder and the the steady drum of rain falling.

And that brings us to today. I slept in and woke up with the headache gone but still feeling oddly shaky and uncoordinated. Wayne said we weren’t going to do the 40 miles; it is too wet out there. We may do a short ride later today. I’m fine with all of that, really. I have a lot to do today: working out, cleaning, preparing for the upcoming work week. But not just yet. I’m going to enjoy this feeling of being languid and slow for a little while longer. I’ll write a bit, read a bit, and maybe look at pictures of cats. For a little while longer, I will let myself be lazy.

Almost September

Was it just a week ago that I was complaining about how hot it is? It’s still hot, but my brain has caught up with my body and reminded me that summer is oh so fleeting. The mornings are getting cooler – I wore a cardigan yesterday and was not overly warm. The afternoons are still in the 80’s but they are breezy, as if the warm air is scurrying around and packing up, ready to move south to make room for the chilly dryness that is winter on Delmarva. Part of me is already mourning sandals and flowing skirts, sundresses and tank tops. Another part of me is eager for afternoons in front of the fire, hand-knit hats and scarves, the smell of autumn that poofs up when I walk on crunchy leaves.

Now that I am in no way involved in back to school, well beyond avoiding stores like Kohl’s from mid-August till early September, I am looking forward to this wonderful transition month. There’s something fascinating to me about wearing a warm sweater in the morning and running around in short sleeves in the afternoon. September exists, I think, to remind us that change is not really a bad thing.

This September is shaping up to be bigger than many (any?) that have come before. It starts with my oldest step-daughter’s wedding and ends with my first ever Century bike ride. I don’t know yet what will happen in between but I am ready for whatever change September chooses to bring.


 

Have I mentioned the problems I’ve been having with my eyes? Oh, I remember now. There was that rant about The Man, in the guise of the insurance company, sticking it to me. Well, it turns out that the new glasses are so amazing that it just might have been worth it, the whole getting it stuck to me or however that works. The frames are the best compromise I’ve ever worn between my desire to be flashy (Wayne used a great word to describe me that we can’t pull out of our heads right now, flashy is a poor substitute but it’s the best I can do) and my abnormally small nose. My nose loves those little nose pad things that you get on wire framed glasses, but my showiness longs for fat, plastic frames. The new frames are a gorgeous dark red color, not quite maroon, with red tortoise shell arms, that sit in the right place on my nose.

And then the lenses – WOW. They are the size of a normally nearsighted person, and believe me my nearsightedness didn’t improve that much. I am pretty sure they aren’t any sort of plastic, rather they are hardened unicorn tears, or maybe fairy sweat – magical. They’re light and wonderfully clear and so thin. Is it possible to fall madly in love with a pair of lenses? If you’re me, yes it is.

But the very best part is I CAN SEE. Yes, I know, it’s amazing and awesome and wonderful. I don’t have to strain. My eyes don’t feel like they’re bulging out of my head when I switch from looking at a monitor to something over there (you can see where I’m pointing, right?). The joy that comes from seeing clearly when you haven’t been is something I don’t have the words to explain, and it’s been an awfully long time since I’ve felt it. Suddenly things are clear again. The world has detail again. Black letters on a white page are little soldiers standing at attention rather than fussy, wobbly toddlers who are still getting their legs under them. Roofs have shingles, trees have leaves (or pine needles, of course). Gravel is made up of little, distinct pieces. The very best part is switching from close to far vision. It’s effortless, perfect, no strain at all.

I am considering sending flowers to the eye doctor.

 


I am planning, and expecting, a wonderful weekend. I have to do some work, but I don’t have to wear a bra to do it so it’s not so bad. I am going to be creative. I’m going to move and sweat. I’m going to see my parents and get Mom and Dad hugs (and hopefully a hug from my baby brother, he has the best hugs in the world). I’m going to do some cleaning, scratch Noel’s ears, talk to Wayne. I’ll write some, read a lot, walk fabric under the presser foot, go gaga over how gorgeous this man who chose to marry me is in a suit. I’m going to call my children and remind them that their Mom loves them. And maybe, if I am feeling particularly daring and chichi, I’ll get a pedicure. I am suffering from a deep and pronounced longing for dark orange toenails to hurry the next season along.

Change is good.