Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009: The Year in Books

I kept a better and more accurate record of my readings this year than I have in the past. I am pleased to see there are a few more books on the list than there were last year when I was in grad school for the entire year. Once again I have included re-reads (rr) and listed the books in the order they were read. So without further ado, I give you my reading list for 2009:

Journey to the South by Annie Hawes
DragonHeart by Todd McCaffrey
That Summer in Sicily by Marlena de Blasi
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
What We Keep by Elizabeth Berg
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah
Girls in Trouble by Caroline Leavitt
Firestorm by Nevada Barr
Love the One You're With by Emily Giffin
Adventures in Natural Childbirth by Janet Schwegel
Promise Not to Tell by Jennifer McMahon
The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin
The Doula Book by Klaus, Kennell, & Klaus
Endangered Species by Nevada Barr
Frog Haven by Mary Taitt (rr)
The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer
The Guy Not Taken by Jennifer Weiner
Dancehall by Bernard F Conners
A Lady in the Lake by George Christian Ortloff
Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner
Knit the Season by Kate Jacobs
A Live Coal in the Sea by Madeleine L'Engle (rr)
Family History by Dani Shapiro

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Tis the Season

I finished reading my advance copy of Knit the Season by Kate Jacobs last night. This is the third book in the Friday Night Knitting Club series. It follows the first two nicely, keeping with the feel and tradition. Some of the club members get less face time in this novel, which focuses mostly on now 20 year old Dakota.

The novel picks up at Thanksgiving and runs through the New Year's holiday. It does a lovely job of bringing the festive season to life. Even though it's only early November, it got me into the holiday frame of mind. This was a delicious book in more ways than one. Not only was it a fun and familiar read, but Bess' butter tarts sound divine, and I'm almost tempted to try creating my own holiday garland (although I'd have to crochet it, not being a knitter like Georgia).

This book delivers just what it offers: good friends, knitting, and happy holidays!

Friday, October 30, 2009

A Great Escape

As I've gotten older my attention span has gotten shorter. Does that sound backwards to you too? When I was younger if I started a book I made myself finish it no matter how much I hated it. These days, not so much. I just don't have the patience anymore to slog through page after page of boring or poorly written crap. I forget now which book it was that was a break through for me. I think it was Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson, but it might have been On the Road by Jack Kerouac or Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. All books that came highly recommended from my sister. Fortunately over the years, she and my mother have gotten better at recognizing what I might like and what it might be best to not try to foist upon me. Sometimes I myself err when picking up a book. Just the other day I had to abandon a mystery in the Anna Pigeon series, of which I'd already read many, in favor of Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner. Judge all you'd like, but I read to escape from my life, so I'd prefer something more interesting and possibly more exciting than I'd be able to offer. I have no interest in reading about the horrors of our world. I know they're out there, and it's just not the escapism I have in mind.

And all I can do is read a book to stay awake

And it rips my life away, but it's a great escape


No Rain, Blind Melon.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mountain Climbing

Head over to Lake Loop for a brilliant rendition of our recent hike up Whiteface & Esther. Peaks #4 and #5 for me!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Doula-ing Update

As I mentioned in the previous post I am mid-way through my fourth book off the required reading list for doula certification. I have one more to read after this one.

Last night I attended a breastfeeding class to meet another requirement. It was pretty neat to be in a room full of beautifully pregnant women. I'm not sure how much I learned though, having already read the material in much more detail in Breastfeeding Made Simple. Next month I start a five week childbirth education series at one of the other hospitals in the area. I decided to split the classes up at different hospitals in hopes of meeting more folks in the field.

Tonight after work I will tag along with one of my doula mentors on her initial meeting with a potential new client. It will be good to see the whole process from the get-go. If the mom chooses to work with us, she should deliver in December.

At the beginning of this month I attended my first birth with another doula mentor. It was the most amazing experience imaginable. It absolutely confirmed that this is something I want to do. I hope that after a couple more mentoring births I will feel ready to go out on my own!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Knit the Season

My advance copy of Knit the Season arrived yesterday. It's the newest edition of the Friday Night Knitting Club novels by Kate Jacobs. I'm midway through my fourth required reading book for doula certification, but now I have extra motivation to finish that. It's funny to me that I enjoy the Friday Night Knitting Club books so much considering I don't even knit. I do occasionally crochet though! It's the characters and storylines that really grab me, of course. But I can't believe it's time for holiday stories already!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Red

I'm drawn to red things designed for use during an emergency. Yesterday I rode a shuttle bus from my suburbs into the Fair. As I stood, swaying, and trying not to vomit, packed in like a sardine, I kept imagining pulling the bright red handle on the window nearest me. When I worked as a movie projectionist there was a giant bright red button that would shut down the whole unit. Every shift I would eye it greedily, so tempted to give it a good whack. I never did, and now I can't even remember if I was ever in the room when it had to be used (I was most definitely in the building). Sometimes I'm not sure how I've managed to resist these temptations.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Out Comes the Pedometer

Earlier this summer I set a goal for myself of a minimum four walks per week. That is my "official" goal, but my more obsessive minded goal is 5, or even 6, walks per week. I've reached my minimum nearly every week (I may have missed once when I was sick), and have often reached my ideal. Yet, I don't look any thinner or feel any fitter. I'd figured after many months of inactivity, any increase would reap the rewards. Alas, that has not turned out to be the case (or at least not in any way apparent to me). Obviously, I can't do much better with my frequency, so it must be my intensity and duration that are lacking. Both of those are a bit tricky because I prefer to bring the dogs along for my walks, and Small Dog can't do much more than 30 minutes at a steady clip.

So today I dusted off my pedometer and clipped it to my capri pants to see if I could find new ways to encourage more activity. Every little bit must help.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Pregnant in America

This morning I started my day with a big mug of tea and the documentary, Pregnant in America. I first learned about this film through a review in International Doula, the quarterly publication of DONA International. The film covers many current trends in maternity care in the United States, including epidurals and cesarean sections. It also gave a brief glimpse into the birth process in Holland and Germany. I was particularly impressed with the percentage of home births in Holland. I would recommend this film to anyone interested in learning more about pregnancy in the U.S. It is both interesting and accessible, requiring no prior knowledge on the subject.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Spontaneous, me?

Spontaneous or even fun are not words that can normally be used to describe me. I'm usually pretty serious, sarcastic, and predictable (stuck in my ways?). All of that changed, at least for one night, this past week.

Less than 24 hours before the concert in question an old friend called with an extra ticket. I hadn't seen him in years, and I hadn't gone to a show with him since 1996. I called my boss and begged off work. At the show I rediscovered music I've loved for almost half of my life. I also was reminded that I can have great fun if I just let myself (even while completely sober!). It was also amazing how comfortable I felt with him after all these years. I am far from easy-going and unfamiliar people and settings tend to make me feel tense, but there was none of that on this night.

It was, by far, the most fun and best time I've had in a long, long time.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Random Bullets of too Lazy to Write More

* Note to self: When going on a trip that will include hiking and canoeing, pack a hat and your Tevas! I had to borrow a hat to protect my head from the deerflies and wear my sneakers canoeing, which made getting in and out so much more complicated.

* I just used baking soda to clean my bathroom sink. It was my first experience using baking soda to clean something, and hello! I'm a convert! The sink hasn't looked this good in years.

* I have finished book #2 from the required reading list for doula certification. I have the next book, but I'm taking a break to read a mystery. My brain needs a rest from having to think. I also started the resource list the other day. I have to prepare a list of at least 45 resources in at least 30 different categories for my area. These include birth centers, lactation consultants, maternity clothes, and addiction services, among many others.

* I've done very well with not sleeping on the couch, better than even I expected. I'm still not getting enough sleep though. I really think my body needs nine hours each night, which is only really practical on the weekends. I would've gotten more than nine last night if a certain loud dog hadn't woken me with his bark.

* I'm still seeing the chiropractor 3 times a week, but I can't really tell if it's helping. I was hoping for dramatic improvement. I won't be able to keep going like this too much longer. It's just too expensive.

* I do love rain on a warm day, but I also need to mow the lawn. Maybe tomorrow? I guess today I will focus on the indoor portions of my to-do list (like the bathroom sink!). I've got laundry in the dryer, and next up grocery shopping!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Kid Again!

I ran behind the lawnmower, pushing it as fast as we both could go. Showers were on the horizon and weekend plans will prevent lawn mowing from occurring. I strategically mowed the front parts easily viewable from the road and then zipped into the shady corner where things always grow lush and quick. The sprinkles started to come a bit more frequently as I pushed the mower back into the garage. I was about to kick off my grass stained sneakers when my eye caught the dust-covered bike I had recently unburied and had borrowed my dad's bike pump to fill the old tires. Hastily, before I talked myself out of it, I grabbed a nearby pair of work pants to wipe the grunge from the big, wide seat. I pushed it down through the stones and swung my leg over. Then I was pumping madly up the hill, speeding through the cool raindrops, my hair streaming out behind me. Once around the double block I went and never stopped smiling. I picked up speed down the slight hill and, just like I used to in the old days, came bouncing up through the side yard towards the garage. I must do that again soon!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Amazingly enough I did not die

The part of the adjustment that seemed strikingly like when people are killed in movies by having their necks broken did have me doubting my survival. There was lots of strange noises, pressure, and twisting. He said I was nice and relaxed, which is far from how I felt, but certainly what I was aiming for. He wants to see me three times a week to deal with a variety of things including uneven hips and curvature in my lower spine. I have reservations about the cost but not about chiropractic care. In some ways I wish I'd never gone because then I wouldn't have to decide between money and health.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Really, what happened to common courtesy?

Dear Neighbor,

If I put out some orange traffic cones, will that stop your daily guest from parking on my lawn?

Sincerely yours,
Assuming Your Mama Didn't Teach You Any Manners

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear Neighbor,

Couldn't you at least carry some plastic bags to give the appearance that you intend to pick up the dog poop?

Sincerely yours,
Next Time I'm Flinging the Sh!t Across the Street and Into Your Yard

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear Neighbor,

Must you give me the hairy eyeball every time we cross paths?

Sincerely yours,
Trust Me I Have No Desire to Speak With You Either

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

**inspired by the wonderings of Jenny F. Scientist

Monday, July 13, 2009

Definitely Not Female

I broke my own rule of female-only medical staff today. After losing sleep last night due to my continuing back pain, I decided to call a chiropractor. The older brother of a high school classmate practices in Hometown near where I live, so I called his office and they got me in late this afternoon. Today was just about background information and x-rays. I'll go back next Monday to review the x-rays and set up a plan of attack. In the meantime I'm supposed to be icing my back and not sleeping on the couch. Er, I'll try. I don't have an ice pack (I know, I should've just bought one while I was there) and I hate anything cold. And I sleep on the couch EVERY night for at least 2-3 hours.

I've never been to a chiropractor before, and I don't know how I feel about this. It seems like a bit of a racket. He'll say I need this and that just so I'll have to come every week. That doesn't sound cheap. Plus, he's hot. Let's all imagine how red my face must've been when I told him about the IBS. Maybe I would've been better off with an anonymous woman doctor in the city.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Frustration

I made an appointment to give blood this afternoon before I knew that today would be our only day of summer weather. I made sure to get outside for a hike yesterday because I'm often too weak after donating to do much at all. The donation experience was pretty wretched. It took almost two hours, most of which was waiting for open beds. The staff just stood around doing nothing. Why didn't they bring more beds? Apparently they also had different bags than I've ever encountered, which drain twice as slowly as the regular bags. So even after I finally got the needle in my arm, I was still there longer than I should've been. I try to donate blood regularly because I know it's important, but they don't make it easy for donors. They call me almost daily, even on holidays and Sundays, at any hour of the day. And then the blood mobiles often appear to be the most disorganized events imaginable. It does not make me anxious to sit through that again any time soon. Plus, now I'm hungry for dinner and lack the motivation to go out and get some food.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Le Tour

I think I've mentioned my love of Le Tour de France at some point in the past. I love the drama and dynamics of the peloton. I love seeing the countryside and villages that they race through. I love the bunch sprints at the finish line. The mountain climbing amazes me. I have so much respect for the riders. I watch each and every stage year in and year out. It's one of my favorite things about July.

I'm not a bike rider myself, but watching the race still inspires me to get up and outside. To get active and aim for a higher level of fitness. So far I've been doing a good job of meeting my 4 walk minimum per week goal. Next up, I'm going to try adding some free weights. I will aim to incorporate those a minimum of 3 days a week. Hopefully, that will help speed up my metabolism, which I fear may be slowing as I near my mid-30s.

Friday, July 03, 2009

On Yoga and Friendship

This morning I went to my first ever yoga class. I went with a woman that was one of my temps this past busy season. She and I have been slowly developing a friendship. We were chatty at work, but it's different translating that into a real bond of friendship. I find her a fascinating, generous, and intelligent person and hope that we continue to get closer.

I was a little nervous and anxious at the start of class. I was perhaps overly concerned with getting the poses "right," but it was a beginners class in the first week of a new session so there were other novices present. I liked it quite a bit! I wasn't sure if I would, so I'd paid the drop-in fee as opposed to signing up for the entire six-week session. Of course now I'm quite tempted to go buy my own mat and sign up for the whole thing.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Becoming a Doula

I have long been interested in midwifery and natural birth. I love reading birth stories of any kind and can't wait to be present at my first birth. The medical side of being a midwife never appealed to me, but as I learned more about the role a doula can play in birth it felt right for me.

These three books helped to lead me to my decision to start the certification process to become a doula:

A Midwife's Story by Penny Armstrong & Sheryl Feldman
Baby Catcher by Peggy Vincent
Adventures in Natural Childbirth edited by Janet Schwegel

As well as this documentary:

The Business of Being Born

Yesterday I finished the first of my required readings:

The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin

In a couple weeks I'll be participating in a DONA approved training workshop for birth doulas. I'm going to try to read at least one more of the required reading before then. I'm very excited about this process. I feel like after the last few years of being in grad school and not having time for myself and my interests that now I can breathe again. Come alive. I knew that I hated being in grad school, but I hadn't been fully aware of how miserable I was and how I barely existed outside of it. It wasn't healthy and it wasn't living. Now it's time to do what I want.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Summer Plans

Now that school's out and the weather's nice I've got plans. Big plans.

I plan on walking at least four times a week, with a minimum of three of these walks with the dogs. We all need the fresh air and exercise.

I've been coming up with a list of places I'd like to visit in my general vicinity. So far they include an art museum (for a rainy day), a waterfall, and a mansion with lovely gardens.

I'd like to visit my mother who lives several states west of me.

And I'm planning on starting the certification process to become a doula. My long-range hopes are to serve as a doula during summer break when I'm a teacher. Hey, it never hurts to dream, right?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Purging

I have a lot of clothes. Even when you don't consider the t-shirts from Second Home Nature Center that could fill up their own dresser and will never be let go. Lately I'll be wearing something (usually a shirt) when I realize that it is either uncomfortable or unflattering (or often both). When it comes out of the wash, it goes straight in the donation bag. I've now collected two small bags to give to the Salvation Army. I'm always afraid I'll change my mind so I've been giving these items a waiting period before I take them away. Plus, I'm sure I can find a bunch more stuff to get rid of in the meantime.

It never ceases to amaze me how much stuff I have. The house is full, and it's all mine. The two small bedrooms and basement need some serious attention, but yuck. Who wants to spend their summer sorting and sweating surrounded by dusty crap? Not me.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Junk in the Trunk

Yesterday evening when I picked up my parents at the airport, I popped the trunk to load their luggage and was amused with what lives in there year round. Atop needles from my Christmas tree from two years ago is:
  • a pair of snowshoes
  • a pair of rollerblades
  • a folding padded bleacher chair
  • several old towels for the dogs
  • a sunhat
  • a picnic blanket
Do you have permanent fixtures in your trunk?

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Reading

Adventures in Natural Childbirth ed. Janet Schwegel

So far it's quite good. I love reading all the various birth stories. I'm amazed that every one of the women was terrified of labor before they began their journeys toward having a natural childbirth, and most of them continued to hold on to that fear until after the baby was born. Maybe I'm crazy, but labor and delivery don't scare me in the least (all you moms out there, stop rolling your eyes). I've had the baby bug for more than five years, and this book makes me want to be pregnant even more. I will be reading more on the subject for sure because it is just so fascinating.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

One of those days

And yet not all bad.

It started with an early morning trip to take the dog I'm dog-sitting out for a walk. On said walk, I discovered said dog had diarrhea. Upon return to his house said dog shook big old droplets of poop all over the entry way. Which I had to sniff out and wipe up. Then I retreated, quite sure I would return to a house full of poop. Fortunately, that was not the case.

I enjoyed a pleasant trip to the farmer's market where I exercised restraint and didn't buy any more plants to add to the still unplanted primrose and oregano I purchased last week.

Once home I raced inside and quickly changed into lawn mowing clothes. I needed to take advantage of the first and last dry day for a while. But alas, bad mower karma is making the rounds and the mower would not stay running. After three unsuccessful attempts, I was out of ideas and energy. My motivation sapped, I elected to spend the next several hours basking in front of the boob tube while every single other one of my neighbors mowed their lawns to rival professional golf courses.

After another trip to let out Diarrhea Dog (who you'll be pleased to know experienced no further bowel movements, indoors or out) I decided on the spur of the moment to head out to Second Home Nature Center for short walk. Clearly, I could use some fresh air.

Monday, May 25, 2009

So easy even I can make it

If you like peas, I highly recommend this pea salad:

1 bag of frozen peas with pearl onions
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons lime pepper
10-12 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

Thaw the peas and onions and then stir all the ingredients together in a medium sized bowl. I don't really measure the mayonnaise. Just throw some in until it looks how you want it. It's a tasty and refreshing side-- perfect for summer!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Score!

One of the temps at my office is moving in with her boyfriend. In combining households she elected to put a handful of items up for sale on craigslist. I decided to buy the gliding rocking chair that had been her grandma's. I've coveted similar models at Target for years that cost about $140 (although that does include an ottoman). For $30 I got one that works perfectly and is quite comfortable. Plus, I helped out a friend and avoided buying new.

I enlisted my sister's help to pick up the chair. How I wish I had a hatchback like hers. You can fit just about anything in there! After we'd loaded the chair into the car, my friend encouraged us to climb to the attic and look over her free garage sale items. I loaded my arms with five throw pillows, a purse, a counter-top wine rack, and a three hook rail to hang by the door from the garage into the family room. I threw her another ten bucks out of guilt and made off like a bandit.

Now I just have to find a place for the chair...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

And somehow the stress continues

Silly me, I thought it would end with the last final. But alas, now my boyfriend is piling on the pressure for me to move out to California, or at least to establish a time line. Stress.

I found out that my host teacher who'd promised to write me a letter of recommendation back in November never did. I sent her a groveling email to which she has yet to respond. Stress.

There are virtually no teaching jobs in my field with openings in either my state or CA. Stress.

Not that I could apply for them anyway without 3 letters of rec. Stress.

OK, even I'm sick of my whining. To tell you the truth, it is the first item that is currently the biggest source of stress for me. So much so that I have gotten to the point where I'm dreading his phone calls. That's no kind of fun.

In better news, I installed my new shepherd's hook and hanging basket of candy cane striped geranium after work tonight. The shepherd's hook leans something awful. I stuck it in the ground about 47 timed and each time it looked worse than the time before. I don't get it. I used to hate geraniums because of their smell (there was one in the window behind my chair at the kitchen table as a kid). My nose lost some of its sensitivity as I aged and my love of geraniums continues to develop. I also purchased two Martha Washington geraniums at the farmer's market, which coordinate nicely with the hanging basket. Gorgeous! (See, now don't we feel better after talking about flowers?)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Flex

Now that school is over (both for me! and for the institution I work for), I've adopted a flex schedule of four tens. I work Monday through Thursday and have Fridays off. I'm tired all the time and have no time to accomplish anything in the evenings, but I love having a long weekend every week. I really think Americans spend too much time working. We're missing out on life by spending our days parked behind a desk. I also save money on gas because I don't have to drive into the city on Fridays. That's about 30 miles round trip. I wish we could flex all year long. I am surprised at the number of people in my office that have no interest in flex time. Some of them live much closer to the office, so perhaps commute time and gas money have less of an impact on their decisions. Tomorrow on my flex day I plan to mow the lawn and maybe make a trip to Second Home Nature Center. Much better than working!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

The Business of Being Born

If you haven't seen this documentary film, you should.

I am not good at writing reviews. Generally speaking either I like something or I don't. In high school English class I always hated deconstructing stories or poems after we'd read them. For me, it would lose its magic when broken down into a million pieces.

For years I've had an interest in midwifery and a desire for a natural birth should I ever be fortunate enough to find myself pregnant. I think anyone with an interest in learning more about birth practices in America will find this film fascinating.

The Business of Being Born gets 5 out 5 stars from me!

Friday, May 08, 2009

Waiting

My classes are over. My finals are a thing of the past. I am not walking in the ceremonies this weekend. I am waiting for my grades to post. I need to see them posted on-line to know I did well enough. Well enough for this whole grad school experience to be behind me. Two years of stress, exhaustion, and very little in the way of pleasantness. It feels anti-climatic. I need some sort of closure. I need someone to say that I am officially done. I'm waiting for it to sink in.

Please send my diploma quickly.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Hooked




I am now officially hooked on mushroom hunting. I've collected two varieties in the past, but I'd never gone after the morel before today. We didn't find tons, but it was quite addicting. And delicious!
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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Bubble Tea


I found out yesterday that there is a teahouse in my city. Who knew? Apparently it's been there almost five years! Sis and I had to pay a visit to sample the bubble teas. I've always enjoyed tapioca, so I couldn't resist having it in my tea. How could you go wrong? You can't! So tasty! I can't wait to go back and try some of their other teas and maybe that coconutty dessert.
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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Summer in April

It's that time of year again. Farmer's market time! Although the farmer's market is open year round, we wait for the warm weather and the greenery to arrive. Many plants were for sale, but I try to avoid planting until late in May. Instead I picked up locally made yogurt, handmade raviolis, and free-range eggs. It was great to be back, and it will be even better once the locally grown veggies start showing up.

It's also lawn mowing time once again. I finally dug the mower out from under many months of clutter in the garage and fired it up. Bright sun and high 80s made it feel more like August than April. I had to take a cool shower just to recover.

Late in the afternoon I went out for some cookie dough ice cream. All in all, it felt like a summer day!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Alive Again

I felt alive yesterday for the first time in months. I've been feeling much like a zombie, but yesterday was a whole different story. It was sunny and breezy for my walk. There were spring wildflowers in bloom and the trees even had a hint of color to their aura. I walked so long that I tired all three of us out. Clearly we are all out of shape from this long winter. At home I read, as in recreationally! I finally finished the book I started on my flight back from California over spring break. I had somewhere in the neighborhood of 250 pages left! It felt so good to read something of my choosing.

Walking and reading, all in one day. What could be better?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Day Off

I have today off. Off from work and off from school stuff. I had class this morning, of course, but now that that is done I am taking the rest of the day off. I've taken a handful of days off in recent weeks, but they were all devoted to not-fun things like taking all day essay exams or working on a poster. The poster session is in the past, and I passed my masters intensive exam on the first try. In fact, all that remains of my semester is a one page paper and two final exams. So today I will do nothing school-related.

I picked up some sushi on my way home from class. I adore sushi but am fairly limited in my local selection. Grocery store sushi will suit me just fine for lunch though.

This afternoon I will load the dogs in the car and head to the nearby game management area, where I will try to avoid the scary men that lurk there without accidentally entering restricted areas or getting lost. I've been hiking there for almost two decades, but usually with one parent or another to serve as guide.

Tonight I will watch mind-numbing amounts of TV. And the rest I'll just make up as I go.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Back to Basics

I started writing in spiral notebooks the summer after college graduation. I had a lonely, miserable job in the middle of nowhere. That summer changed the trajectory of my whole professional life. The thing that I'd wanted to do for years became the last thing I could see myself doing. My mom sent me writing books and encouraged me to journal, and journal I did. I filled several notebooks that summer, discovering that I preferred wide-ruled ones because when I got into the act of writing my print got bigger and the college-ruled notebooks made me feel cramped and limited. I also realized that blue ink was my color of choice. Black ink has a tendency to make me feel darker and depressed just by its mere presence.

As much writing as I've done in my spiral notebooks over the years, it's never been about the process of creating. I'm not jotting down story ideas or first drafts of poems. I'm rarely describing scenes around me or even doing any people watching. Instead I barf my anger, my pain, my jealousy, my rage onto the page. I almost always only journal when I'm unhappy. If an outsider were to read my notebooks they would probably reach the conclusion that I am either homicidal or suicidal. Sometimes I think it does me good to get it all out. Other times I feel like it might be making things worse by giving me an unlimited space to dwell, dwell, dwell.

So if you're wondering where I am these days and why I'm not blogging much, it's because I'm filling the blank pages of another spiral notebook. It's better that I go back there right now. This venue just does not provide the same outlet for me.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Pass the spoon please

I love to see how people react to the first warm days of spring. Today is sunny and in the 60s. People are driving with their windows rolled down. They're riding bikes, and sitting out in lawn chairs or on their decks. Some of them are even wearing shorts.

I'm celebrating the warm temperatures by eating Ben & Jerry's. I haven't eaten ice cream since last summer when I didn't have to be concerned about getting cold. I even turned off my solar heat, although I'll probably turn it back on in a couple hours.

We all know this weather isn't here to stay, which makes it that much more important to relish every second of it. When I'm done gorging on ice cream I'll have to get myself outside.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

On the First Day of Spring


Three crocuses managed to escape the hungry mouths of bunnies. The last couple years the bunnies have nipped off these same crocuses just above the ground. I'm glad they found their meals elsewhere this year so that I could enjoy these happy little flowers, in an otherwise brown landscape. I'm definitely ready to put away the boots and heavy coats. Hello spring, and welcome!
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Saturday, March 21, 2009

On the Mend


Little Pup had knee surgery on Tuesday. She was out of it and in a great deal of pain when I picked her up that afternoon. I made her a nest in this blanket (it's one I made) and there she stayed. She had a pain patch on her neck and two other types of pain meds that I've been administering, as well as an antibiotic. She was shaved in three spots for the surgery, the pain patch, and the IV. She looks pretty pathetic. She's starting to be a bit more alert now. She's jumping on and off the couch and climbing stairs, using her three good legs to maneuver. I had to take her in this morning to get three new staples because as the swelling went down they became too loose. Doc says she's doing well and had me bump up staple removal four days. I can't wait until she's all healed and feeling better!
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Monday, March 16, 2009

Good Weather Guilt

I have experienced good weather guilt for as long as I can remember. I'm not sure where it originated, but anytime the weather is nice I feel a constant sense of guilt if I do not get outside to take advantage of it. Perhaps it is related to the fact that our weather in these parts is rather foul- cold & snowy or hot & humid. Good days are sometimes few and far between.

Fortunately, today was another gorgeous day with sunshine and abnormally mild temperatures. After I dropped the little puppy off at the vet for her surgery tomorrow and picked up my car from the mechanic (am I made of money, people?), I took Older Dog for our normal neighborhood walk. Lots of people were out walking their dogs, washing their cars, and doing yard work. It felt great to get out and stretch my legs.

And yet, the guilt is returning. I really ought to be outside picking up sticks or trash from the yard instead of blogging. Sigh.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Back to Reality

I'm back from California. I had a nice time. It's beautiful there. Flowers are in bloom. We went to several parks and the aquarium. We watched three movies and I read three books. We also watched three great basketball games at a sportsbar.

I've returned home to sunshine and temperatures that rival (or best?) those I enjoyed in California. Unfortunately I haven't been able to walk or do any much-needed yard work. I spent most of the afternoon taking care of my car. I discovered, much to my horror, that my car was brakeless when I retrieved it from the parking garage at the airport last night. Now it's at the garage to be fixed tomorrow, and I've got my dad's sporty version of the same vehicle. He might even ride his bike to work tomorrow it's so nice out.

There's no food in the house and lots of dirty laundry. So that's what I'll be doing for the rest of the day...

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

A Good Trade Was Made

The last time I got my hair professionally cut was in mid-December. I wasn't exactly impressed, and parts of the cut have been irking me ever since. I didn't want to go to California with my hair the way it was, but I'm not having a lot of disposable income at the moment. When one of my temps offered to cut it for me, I decided to take her up on it. I know she would've done it for free, but I felt better giving her something in trade. So I got a haircut and she got my like-new corduroy blazer. I didn't like the fit or the color, but she'd admired it the one time I wore it this winter. Better to give it to her in exchange for a haircut than to donate it to strangers.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Taking a Step Back

I've been getting to work at 7:30 in the morning and leaving at 5:30 at night. My commute on each end is half an hour. Each day I have class sometime during work for either an hour or an hour and a half (plus about 15 minutes on each end for driving and walking to class). All in all, I'm out of the house at least 11 hours a day, assuming I don't need to go anywhere after work. I'm not getting enough sleep, I'm eating poorly, and both work and school are suffering. The only social life I have is talking to my boyfriend on the phone every couple days.

Something had to give. I've decided to cut off half hour on each end of my work day and use vacation hours to cover the balance. After I get back from my trip to California, I may take Fridays off for the remainder of March and all of April. I get a lot of vacation time, but I have problems letting go and stepping back.

I have to get over that though, or I'll be losing it soon. So that's my plan, and I'm sticking to it. (Maybe.)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Here and Not Here

I don't cope well with stress. This is not new information (remember the eye twitch?). My sister could confirm that even overtime at a basketball game is just about more than I can handle right now.

After spending the last two days obsessively surfing the internet for a new hairstyle that will work with my baby-fine, super-straight, limp-ass hair, I decided a glass of wine was in order. As it is a school/work night I will only have the one, but maybe it will slow down the anxious worrywart that is occupying my brain.

Saturday I take two of my three teacher certification exams. On Monday I have a test in one of my two classes. The week after that I have a mid-term and a 10 minute oral presentation. Don't count on seeing too much of me for the foreseeable future, unless I have more than one glass of wine on Saturday night and start drunk commenting. If I do that, please cut me some slack.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

The Carrot

I am flying to California for spring break. That is the carrot dangling in front of me. That is what keeps me slogging through hours of boring articles. It keeps me going through subarctic temperatures. The picture taken by my BF at the beach that I have set as my background on my work computer keeps me sane when I have four people lined up at my office door and 254 emails in my inbox.

In one month, I'll be winging my way towards warmth, relaxation, and good company.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Give me a few minutes please

I think it's interesting how different people require different things in the same situation. When I get home from work, I am stressed and tightly wound. I need to decompress. This could be eating, slamming things around, or checking my email. BUT it needs to be a solitary activity. My ex would try to smother me with kisses, and I love yous, and how was your days. That has to wait.

Around the same time I was ending things with him, I spent a good deal of time talking on the phone with an old friend. He said something that really struck a cord. How he would greet his now-ex-wife at the door every day when she got home and shower her with his love, but it hadn't been enough. If she was anything like me, perhaps it helped to drive her away.

I have a good friend at work who is clearly of the same make and model as my ex and my old friend. Every morning as soon as I get to work she's trying to chat my ears off. I'm usually running late and highly stressed. I need to get settled, check my email, and take a deep breath after driving in rush hour traffic. I hate shutting my office door because I want to be accessible, but for my own sanity I may have to try that.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Return of the Eye Twitch

It started during my junior year of high school, or wait maybe it was my sophomore year. It doesn't really matter, but I can remember sitting in whichever science it was (chemistry or physics) as the skin beneath my left eye pulsed. Ever since then, it's been a pretty good indication of my stress levels. Twitching eye equals stress.

Less than two weeks into the semester and I'm feeling it. It's busy season at work too. The upcoming certification exams loom large. The weather and lack of physical activity keep me feeling low.

And then I found out someone has made fraudulent purchases with my credit card account.

Twitch, twitch.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tears of Joy

Four of us group around a computer watching the start of the ceremonies. I can't commit to pulling up a chair, as I have to leave soon for class. I hurry to the kitchen for a sandwich, passing another computer tuned to the main event. I return and watch more, then hurry to the bathroom. The office is a ghost town, with more than half of the staff leaving in search of TVs. Outside of my suite I can still hear the coverage faintly, coming from other offices and the janitors closet. Back in my office I take another minute or two to watch the computer screen with my co-workers. As usual, things proceed slower than scheduled and I must give up. I turn up the radio in my office as I jam things in my backpack. It is as I am pulling on my snow boots that he takes the oath of office. I pull on my down jacket and wipe tears from my eyes.

Tears of joy.

Tears of relief.

Tears of hope.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

One Week Down

My first week of classes this semester was revealing. Both classes meet during the day, instead of for 3 hours one evening a week. I'd forgotten how short one 55 minute class seems. It is unsettling to go to work, then to class, and then back to work, especially since this is peak season at the office. The classes have between 40-70 students each. They are mixed classes of undergrads and grads, a first for me since I started my master's degree. I was amazed and horrified to watch my classmates texting during class. I am embarrassed for them that they think this behavior is acceptable. And do they really think the professor doesn't see them?

The biggest difference between these classes and the ones I've been taking for the last year and a half is that these are science classes, as opposed to education classes. Clearly that is what's been wrong with my classes thus far. This feels so much more RIGHT.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Trying New Things

For Christmas, Santa brought me a yoga DVD. I would like to take a class, but I don't have the time or money right now. The DVD has a set for morning and a set for evening. I've tried the morning one only so far, as evenings are filled with phone calls and staring stupidly at the TV. Once I get into a rut of activity (or inactivity) it becomes very difficult for me to adjust my schedule. For example, I fall asleep on the couch every night and stay there until 1-3 AM when I finally drag my butt upstairs and crawl into bed. Even though I know this can't be good for either my back or my quality of sleep, I just can't figure out how to stop doing it. Back to yoga, the dogs were confused and felt that the best course of action was to crawl all over my face when I was lying on the floor. They didn't seem to appreciate that it made it rather hard to focus on my movement and positions.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Come May I Will be Happy Again

I am feeling a great amount of hatred towards winter right now. It just keeps coming and coming. Snow, wind, freezing rain, repeat. Every winter I question my decision to move back here from Florida. I really, really hate winter. I'm not trying to sound like a whiner; I'm just trying to convey the facts. I have to say, I hope I don't get stuck here suffering these winters for the rest of my life.

On a different subject, classes start next week. Hopefully, this will be my last semester. Ever. I will be ecstatic if I never have to take another class for the rest of my life. I got fingerprinted yesterday, but I still need to register for my certification exams. But it's my master's intensive exam that terrifies me. An all-day essay exam is my idea of Hell. What ever happened to multiple choice?

Is it May yet?