Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Saying good-bye to 2013

It's been quite a year. I have to admit, I'd rather have a year where lots of things happened rather than a year that is so simple and easy that, years later, I can't tell one year from the next. I will always remember this year, and I am grateful for that.

We did a lot this year. We got engaged, we moved to a new city. We traveled plenty. We welcomed two wonderful kittens into our lives.  I started a new job. It been busy. I feel like we've been running, running, running all year, but I also feel like we've accomplished so very much. I can tell you some things I wish I had accomplished (more writing, less eating), but, overall, I'm okay with 2013.

I cried a lot this year, but plenty of those tears were happy tears. I'm a crier, and I held my own on that front this year. Things did not always go as planned, and sometimes a gal has to release some emotion. I've been discovering some things about myself and not all of them have been pleasant. I am coming to terms with all of this. It will all be fine in the end, but sometimes the getting-there is a challenge.

I am looking forward to 2014. It's going to be a great year. I can just feel it!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

And I'll sing, once more

You know I've got opinions about "The Sound of Music -- Live!" A bit of a disclaimer: I don't really like "The Sound of Music." In fact, I don't like much of anything Rodgers and Hammerstein put out there. But I will try to put aside all of that and focus on the event itself.

I love a musical. I love the event of a musical. For this reason, I hope that NBC (and other networks) put aside the snarking and the complaining about this one, and they try it again in the future. I do believe that most of the negativity comes from a place where people really wanted something like this to work, and they were disappointed at what didn't work. (That said, with the ratings they got, I can't imagine they won't try this again.)

My main issue with the whole thing is that they picked "The Sound of Music" in the first place, not because I personally don't like it but because it's too iconic. Even though I'm not a fan, I still know all the lines and can sing along, because it's such a part of the culture. And, like everyone, I agree that no one could be Julie Andrews. Here are some other reasons why it didn't work:
1) Unlike other musicals, there's not really any character who can make up for weaknesses in Maria. (I'm not going to go into why Carrie Underwood didn't work as Maria. You can find loads of comments about that easily enough.) "The Sound of Music" is Maria's story, and f you don't have a solid Maria, you are screwed. I mean, who are you going to go to for relief: Rolf? The Baroness? Maybe Mother Superior, but most people are not relating to a nun on a hill. The Captain might be able to save some of it, but you'd have to have one super-charming, amazing Captain (which Stephen Moyer certainly was not) to make up for a not-so-charming Maria. 

Most other musicals have minor characters that can really add a lot or they're more of a full-cast kind of thing. In fact, I can't think of a musical that falls so heavily on one person's shoulders. You need to divide up the heavy lifting. 

2) It's a loooooong show. I know most musicals are, but this one takes a lot. And you can't really cut too much. I wonder if it would have helped to make it a two-night event. 

3) The Broadway version (which they used) is different in ways that don't help the story, at least the love story. I know that the tow of them had no chemistry, but there's almost no opportunity to develop any. You don't see the Captain and Maria interact except when she meets him and the children (where she tells him she doesn't answer to whistles) and when he brings the Baroness home (when Maria tells him his kids are wearing the curtains and they are afraid of him). All of a sudden, they dance and Maria realizes she's in love. That seems abrupt. The movie added some scenes which had the Captain see Maria in a different light, which made you believe they could fall in love. 

4) If you're gonna do it live, having an audience to play off of is needed. If you ham it to no one, it just seems awkward. 
I have a few that I think could work so much better: "Annie," "Anything Goes" (Tap! Dancing!), "Guys and Dolls," "Chicago," "Music Man" (I can even see Carrie Underwood pulling off Marian the Librarian), "Gypsy," "West Side Story." These are not my favorite musicals. These are musicals I think would work nicely in this live tv setting. These are musicals familiar enough to get ratings, with roles juicy enough to get stars. Yes, some of them have plots that might be a bit sketchy, but what musical doesn't? Isn't that why we love them?

I do hope that doing a musical becomes an event. I just hope that the event is other musicals with other casts, not a rerun of a taping of this one.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Put your feet up

I've started therapy again. Am I supposed to tell people things like this? Personally, I believe that most people would benefit from some therapy now and again. I also don't really like that mental health is treated as this weird, separate arm of your well-being. So, I'm coming out and saying it: I'm seeing a therapist.

I suppose you want to know why (or perhaps you know me well enough to think, "oh, yeah. Definitely.") The first time I went to therapy (roughly 8 years ago) was because of this low-level depression I was struggling with. Nothing terrible, but I was finding that little things would keep me down for too long, and good things were easily dismissed. My balance was off (maybe it always was), and it was time to start sorting this out.

I'm not going to share intimate secrets here. Sorry to disappoint, but, while I will tell you that I am in therapy, I am not spilling the details. I can tell you that I have discovered a lot about myself through this process. Over time, I have learned that my "depression" is more a result of my anxiety, which is true and constant. My anxiety is a low-level buzzing that is always there, but I've grown to manage it better. Not perfect (not even close), but better.

This is therapist #5. That sounds like a lot, doesn't it? But moving, insurance, etc, have lead to this. I think it has worked to my favor. I have a better sense of what I want. I don't need someone who constantly tells me that I am making the right choices, or that all my behaviors are perfectly justified. I need someone who questions me a bit. If I were doing everything right, I wouldn't be there. Of course, if I were doing everything right, I wouldn't be human.

I know I am different as a result of all of this. I think I am better, but I still have struggles. These are for me to battle. I'm looking forward to it.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Take nothing on its looks; take everything on evidence.

The above is a quote from "Great Expectations." I was going to call this post simply "Great Expectations," but then I thought I'd get clever and find a quote from the book. I must admit, I found some beautiful ones on-line. In fact, I don't remember thinking much of the book when I read it, but these bits and pieces are lovely.

The plan was to write a piece about my expectations for my writings, specifically related to this blog. That my intentions are always greater than what I actually produce. I have great expectations, not necessarily of quality but of quantity. Recently, I've been lacking in both, mostly because if you produce very little, there is no quality to be had. This is simply the fact of the matter.

It's funny, but I picked the quote, just because I liked it and it wasn't too long. But now I see that it fits my intention of this piece perfectly. I may intend to write, I may even sit in front of the computer, but if there are no words, I need to be doing more. I am not saying this in a sad or upset manner; I am saying this to push myself. You are witness to my own sort of cheerleading.

I should explain the picture. This is a part of a display found in the American Art Museum. It is made of foil and cardboard and found objects. It was made by a man in his garage to prepare for Christ's return to Earth. When you first see it, it hits you with a mix of "holy cow!" and "what the...?" and "what is that?" You have to really look to see what it is. It's one of my favorites.

I plan to commit more to my writing. I need to push. I need to get up early and commit to it. I have done it before, but I need to produce the evidence.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Getting there is half the fun, come share it with me

"I live in Boston." I said this to myself yesterday. I do that, now and again, to try to make it feel real. When I say it, I feel like I'm play-acting or making something up, like a high school kid trying to impress someone. "I have a boyfriend! You wouldn't know him; he lives in Canada." But it is true, I do live in Boston now.

Have you moved? Most of us have moved from one house to another, but have you left the easy comfort of one place to start over in an entirely new location? The adjustment is somewhat overwhelming. It took me a couple of weeks to be able to drive to work without a map or the GPS handy. Finding a new grocery store, another bank, where to get a haircut, there are a thousand little details. "I live in Boston," this is true. But I am still wondering where a good coffeehouse might be.

Moving gets harder and more drawn out as you get older and have more things and details. When you make the decision, you aren't aware of all the moving parts that need to be in place for the move to be complete. For us, these are still on-going but every day, another piece falls into place. It feels like forever, but, I hope that like my last move, these annoyances will one day be mostly forgotten. HWM is helping so very much, and I am so incredibly thankful for that. I could never do all of this alone. But the details of moving isn't what this is about.

I long for the day when I don't have to plan my trips in the car. Some day I will have my favorite spots, my places that I love to visit, maybe even a tradition or two. I will be able to recommend a good place to eat or a museum that someone simply needs to visit. I will say, "We live in Boston" just as easily as I say that I am from Toledo.

Today I went grocery shopping, but it felt different. Today I bought actual supplies, instead of enough to get through the next week or so. I smiled to myself when I realized this, but I needed to get all these things. After all, I live here now.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

I'm a little lamb who's lost in a wood

I am thinking about those who watch over us. Those who are away but are still with us, in one way or another. They're our angels, our guardians, our protectors. They help us hold onto our dreams, they prop us up when we feel weak. They take care of us.

Sometimes, I am visited in my dreams. One of my guardians comes to me in the night. We might be in a place I've been to hundreds of times: a former home, perhaps. Or we might be in a new place, but the presence of someone familiar makes me feel that everything is okay. Sometimes even when I am awake, I think of my angels, just to feel an extra bit of protection. I need to know that my protectors are there.

I am here, thinking about my angels. Right now I have three of them in Maryland: two kitten angels and one HWM. HWM has his angels. He has so many. He teaches me about angels.

There are times I hope for strength. Maybe I just need to be reminded that I don't need extra strength, but I need my angels. Maybe it's better to have guardians, to have others that watch over you. I will trust my angels.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

What's been going on

It's been a crazy couple of months. Some of you know some of the story, but, boy oh boy, it's been nutty around here. Here's some of what is going on:

Obviously, the big thing is the engagement. Truly, it's wonderful! It's wonderful to say "fiance"! It's wonderful to think of the future together! Yes, I am very happy about all of this. I still feel like a princess.

The other big thing is I got a new job. I'm very excited about it! There are loads of reasons I'm moving on to something new, and this new position is right up my alley. I'll be doing something I really do love to do, and I'm looking forward to starting. However, this job is not where we (used to) live. So, we're picking up and moving to Boston.

I am in Boston now. HWM is still in Maryland until September. It's for good reasons, but that means I'm here on my own for a bit. And he is taking care of the kittens, who I miss more than should be allowed. (They will all join me soon, but not soon enough, for I wish they were here this minute!) I'm in our new apartment, trying to make things feel normal. The furniture and other things (dishes, coffee maker, books) I've moved are on a truck somewhere, and so I'm sleeping on an air mattress, watching tv using a lawn chair. (Oh, how I miss real chairs.) I do have internet: we're not animals here! But until I get used to things and have a real bed again, it's definitely a weirdness to the system.

I came up here on Thursday, hoping to get the lay of the land, etc. On some level, it has worked. I have found a few stores, I've done a test-drive to work, I have groceries in the cupboards. These are good things. But it's hard, being alone. I was at lunch today and it came over me that I didn't have anyone I knew anywhere near me. Not a person a might run into from work (I haven't started yet), not a cashier who usually waits on me at the store, no one. It was really jarring to consider.

This is hardly a terrible problem to be having. And I know, it is a "problem" that will go away soon.  I will meet people at the job, in the neighborhood, at my (to be) regular places, etc. But at this point, every time I get in the car, it's a check of the map, punching things into the GPS, and hoping things start to look familiar. I know they will, but I hate that they don't yet.

When I started this blog (about 5 years ago) (!), it was right before my last big upheaval. I didn't know it was coming at the time, but it did arrive, and I survived. I did better than survived. I came out ahead. I know that things will move forward, and things will be amazing. I do know this. But is there any way to fast-forward to when I feel a bit more pulled together?

Friday, June 14, 2013

True Love

I never wanted to be average or normal. I didn't want to be like everyone else. As a kid, I wanted to go to the library and read on my own, not play outside. I didn't play house. I wasn't a cheerleader; I played bassoon. When I was in my twenties and some of my friends started "settling down" by getting married, buying a house, taking that "real" job, having kids, there was a part of me that was happy that I was in grad school, unsure of where my future might take me. I would be different!

Sometimes thoughts like this make me feel like I'm being a snob or some sort of elitist. And, sometimes, when I'm feeling especially down, I wonder if there is something wrong with me because I feel like I couldn't be happy with the "average" things. I look around and so many people are happy, and I don't know what is missing in me. Why do I feel like I need to go on a different path?

Just to clarify, my life isn't really that unusual. I have a regular job; I have a house and cats and bills and a car. But I know that my life isn't typical either (not that anyone has a "typical" life). Last month I was in Europe twice! I live in a city (okay, the suburbs) that the 12-year-old me dreamt about! In so many ways, I am lucky. But I wondered if maybe I lost out on some things because I wanted things that were different. Why wouldn't I let myself go down certain paths? Maybe being what I would consider "normal" might have certain joys that I am missing.

It should be no surprise that Liz Lemon (of "30 Rock") had the answer for me. I identify with Liz Lemon, a nerdy girl who just wants to feel like she's got it all together but is struggling in many ways. She mocks weddings and girly things and wants to be admired for being smart. This season, she got married. She insists that she would get married in a sweatshirt ("no bra!"), and she insisted this was the right thing to do as the wedding industry is kind of evil. I was, "You tell 'em, sister!" But something was wrong. I felt it and she felt it. And she broke down and said it:

"I have been sure for a long time that this was never going to happen, and I was fine with it! Ergo, it couldn't matter! ...[But] a tiny part of me that I hate wants to be a princess!"

I cried. I cried because that was it. I am afraid to wish for things that might never come true, so I have to tell myself that it can't matter. Maybe I get to go on nice trips for work, but I'm not the girl someone wants to marry. It would be a trade-off; life evens things out.

But there is HWM. Wonderful, sweet HWM. He is my partner, in the truest sense of the word. He shows me shooting stars. We are together and he makes me incredibly happy. He shows me a part of myself I didn't know I had. And, in Paris, he made me a princess.

When we went to Paris, he requested a day. He wanted a day where he could plan all our activities. He had a schedule of sites to see. I thought it would just be an adventure, but on that day, he asked me to marry him. I won't go into all of the details (because those are ours), but it was lovely and romantic and a bit different and perfect. Yes, we both cried.

I look at the beautiful ring on my finger, and I smile. Someone wants to marry me. A wonderful, amazing man asked me a question I thought I wouldn't hear. And every time I look at it, I am a princess.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Allie Brosh and having it all

You probably don't know who Allie Brosh is. I discovered her a few years ago, through her blog "Hyperbole and a Half." Here's a piece about her dog: Dog. I laugh at loud at her stories. They get me every time. I consider her a story-teller rather than a cartoonist. A while back, I heard she got a book deal, I was so happy for her. Shortly after this announcement, the blog postings more or less disappeared, but that wasn't a surprise. No doubt she was working on that book.

Except that wasn't the case. Allie Brosh was dealing with her depression. Or at least trying. She's posted again recently, and she tries to explain what was happening. It's heartbreaking and real and amazing. If you know someone who has struggled with depression, you must read about it: Depression.

When I read about it, I feel sad and helpless. I am the person who wants to fix things, and she explains how depression is so hard because you can't just "fix" it. I think about the people I know who struggle with depression (and the people who are struggling that I don't even know about), and I hate knowing that this is what they are going through. I hate that there is nothing I can say or do to help. I'm embarrassed to think that I am powerful enough to break through something like this, but I also hate that there are people I love that I couldn't break through to. We want to protect and help the people we love, and I hate seeing that I can't do that.

I think about someone like Allie Brosh. I don't know her, but I know she's talented. I know she has an amazing heart and that she's incredibly gifted. I know she's funny and sweet. And with all of this, she's struggling. How could this be? How does something like this happen? I want to shout that it simply isn't fair! It isn't right. If someone with so much talent and a book deal can be depressed, what about the rest of us? But that's kind of the point: there's no logic to it. It just happens, and you hope that you can deal with it, but there's no vaccine or magic or trick to keep it away.

I hope she's okay. I hope the people I know who struggle with depression are okay (better than okay) as well. I wish I could fix them, but all I can do is try to understand. I hope it's enough.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

I'm down to my last cigarette

Today is my Nana's birthday. She would have been 98. She's been gone for over 16 years, but I still miss her. I wish I could have just one more conversation with her. I still have so many questions.

Grandparents are just always there in your life. They're the host of family dinners and the babysitter that can always be counted upon. They've always been old, fully formed. Even though we grew close, I wish I would have asked her more about her life.

I grew close to Nana after my parents moved to Pennsylvania, when I was still living in Toledo. My mom asked that I call her every day, a task I did not want to do at the time. What 22-year-old wants to be stuck calling her grandmother every single day? But it turned out to be wonderful. We got to know each other, beyond just grandmother and granddaughter, and we got to depend on each other. It must have been that year that I started calling her at midnight every New Year's Eve. I usually would wake her up, but she'd tell me how happy she was to hear from me. I knew that I'd start every year with someone who loved me.

I drove her to Philadelphia and back home a number of times. I loved those trips. I knew she needed to stop more than I would; she needed to grab a cigarette and make a rest stop. She would tell me that I didn't really need to stop for her, but I would insist that I needed to grab a Diet Coke or put gas in the car. She'd say, "well, if you have to stop..." We had an understanding.

I realize now how much she must have gone through in her life. I want to ask her about when she was young. I imagine that she was the pretty, party girl. I know she got in trouble, and then she was rescued by my grandfather. I wonder what that was like for her. I wonder what the Depression and World War II were like. I remember how sad she was when my grandfather died, and I wonder how she dealt with that, and I wonder what made her break out of that depression.

I'm not one to believe in such things, but, if I have an angel watching over me, I choose to believe that she is my angel. I'm lucky to have her.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Reaching out, shutting down

There are so many ways we can reach out to each other these days, and a lot of it is on-line. I use twitter, flickr, and facebook regularly, and I've dabbled in loads of other places: google+, pinterest, blip, instagram, and no doubt a few others I've forgotten. There's also email, phone calls, and text messages to reach out. I've also been known to write a real letter that has to be delivered to a mailbox.

I do all this to try to connect to the people in my life. Some people use facebook, others use twitter. I even know some people who prefer an actual phone call. There are so many options these days that we all get to pick our favorites. Which, at first, sounds wonderful, but there's some definite drawbacks.

One issue is a sort of snobbery about what kind of communication is the best. "You twitter? Isn't that for kids?" "I don't understand why you'd ever think sending a text is better than leaving a voicemail." "Can't you just email those pictures instead of posting them on facebook?" Personally, I try to not make judgments, although I can see differences. Twitter (at least the people I follow) seems to be more about the witty quips whereas facebook is more about actual life events. I might know a bit more about my facebook friends' kids and families, but my twitter friends actually make me laugh out loud. There are days I'd rather get a well thought-out email rather than a chatty phone call. Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words, and I am always happy to see what my friends on flickr are posting.

But it is overwhelming. When something is new in my life, where and how do I share it? If I put it everywhere, am I boring people? But how do I know who knows what's happening in my life? In the other direction, how do I keep up with all of it? It takes me a while to catch up every morning, and there's something tiring to feeling like you have to connect so much, even though I am always glad to hear from people.

I've noticed that some friends are dropping out of certain places, and, while I hate to see them go, I understand. Maybe we all need to get a bit selfish about our communication. Maybe it might force more community if we're not all scattered to our different places. In theory, I like that idea, but I am afraid of missing certain people. I think about the people I know who have left certain places: a friend (temporarily, thank goodness) left twitter and I missed her so much. Another person I follow on twitter left flickr, which is a huge shame because his photos are amazing. I feel it when people leave, and I don't like it. I am also grateful for the people I have connected (or reconnected) with via these different outlets.

I know I need filters, but, even as I write this, it sounds snobby or dismissive. "You're not interesting enough/funny enough/whatever enough to make my cut." Which is, of course, not what I would mean at all. Maybe it comes from my own fear of not being interesting or funny. Where do you make the choice between hurting someone's feelings and giving yourself a break? I am still struggling with that. I hope to get a balance, but, for now, I am leaning towards being overwhelmed.

Monday, April 15, 2013

I get that all the time

What celebrity do you look like? Have you ever been asked this? Has anyone told you that you look "just like" someone? Sometimes it takes you by surprise, sometimes you can't see it at all.

I don't recall anyone telling me I look like anyone famous. But I do get one thing all the time: "You look just like a girl I went to high school with!" I got it when I joined state-wide bands and when I went to college. I got it once on a date, followed by "She was such a bitch!" There was no second date. I got it from someone I went to high school with, who pointed out another girl in my graduating class  he thought I looked like.

I thought it might go away as I got older, and on some level it did. It's no longer immediate. These days I get the look of puzzlement, and the question about if we'd met before. I'll joke around and say, "I'll bet I look like a girl you went to high school with," and there will be that lightbulb: "Yes! That's it!" It shocks me how often it happens. I suppose it might be why people feel comfortable stopping me in the street to ask for directions. I look just familiar enough.

I do sometimes wish I were more glamorous. I wish someone would stop for a moment and point out that I could be Jennifer Aniston's sister or that in this light, I really do look like Gwen Staphani. But I'm also glad that, in the end, I just look like me.

Friday, March 22, 2013

A moment on the lips...

I've been on a diet lately. This is not an unusual thing for me. I am not built to be a skinny girl. I crave carbs; I have no interest in vegetables. I view serving fruit for dessert as a cruel joke. My body clings to every calorie like a great famine is coming. (I like to think that, from an evolutionary perspective, my body is ideal, being built to lose nary an ounce of body fat, no matter if you starve it for days. It's a bit of a comfort.) I hate exercise: no, I don't get any sort of "high" from it; I get sweaty and tired and hungry. So very hungry.

Needless to say, for most of my adult life, I have been battling my weight. I am lucky in the fact that when I gain, I gain proportionally, so I can "hide" a certain amount, but there's a limit to anyone's ability to finding clothes that hide your sins. Lately, I have crossed that limit. (I'm always embarrassed to admit that I've gained weight, but being overweight isn't like a secret drinking problem; anyone with eyes can see that, yes, I could stand to lose a few pounds.) Maybe I should learn to be happy with my curves: I see plenty of ladies who are larger than me and rock it. But I'm not there yet.

I've tried a number of diets. When I was at my highest, I joined Weight Watchers, which I followed to the letter. I lost over 40 pounds, but it took me over a year. I kept it off for a while, but it creeped back up. (Unfortunately, dieting is one of those stupid things you need to do your whole life.) Now that I have a metabolism of a lady in her mid-40s, my metabolism is even worse than that.

Four years ago, I gave up carbs for a while and that worked quite well for me. Of course, I had a few extra factors to help out: I was living alone, going through the tension of a marriage falling apart (being stressed actually helps me eat less). I was working on a project at work that was so crazed, people still talk about it. Eating was not a priority. It actually worked! I got as thin as I had been in 15 years. But, eventually I started eating carbs again, bread was back in my life, and once again, the pounds creeped back. These days, I'm much happier, but that's not helping the waistline.

This year, I decided to revisit the no/low carbs thing, at least for a while. Lent was about to start, and I find that's a good time to diet. It's a long enough chunk of time that (with luck) one can see some results, but it's also a set amount of time. No trips were planned during this period, which makes it easier as well. I had my yearly physical right before Lent started, so I took that weight as my starting weight (sure, I was dressed, so my weight surely wasn't that high, but that meant the first few pounds were easy.)

A few things I'd like to point out: I get that no diet is actually *no* carbs, so, please, don't be telling me that "fruit has sugar!" I just say "no carbs" because it's easier when I explain to someone why I'm taking apart my sandwich. I don't actually believe that this type of diet helps you lose weight because it alters how your body recognizes food. I think it works for me because I am no longer eating a loaf of bread with chocolate on top. I don't believe in magic ratios of olive oil or amount of protein in each meal or a handful of nuts. I do believe that different people have slower or quicker metabolisms, and that's just the hand you're dealt.

I've modified the "no carbs" diet slightly. Here are my exceptions. Sauces are ignored. I am not trolling through a list of ingredients for spaghetti sauce or having my Chinese food cooked in a special way. I am not counting anything. I am not figuring out how many carbs are in a teaspoon of Splenda or whatever. I will allow the Atkins snacks, but no more than one a day. Here's the big one: I allow myself one "cheat" carb every other day. Once a day is too much (I've tried that), but I need something. This also allows for some needed flexibility: you're at a work lunch and there's nothing that you can have, etc. I end up using it on oatmeal for breakfast a lot, because I am a weirdo.

It's been going pretty good. I'm getting close to that 10-pound mark, which is enough to prevent me from giving up in a fit of frustration. It's probably not that noticeable to most people, but I can feel it. For that reason, I'll probably keep it up after Lent is over. I feel more in control, and my clothes are fitting better. I'm looking forward to things getting loose. I still am not so sure about fruit, but, for now, it's all I've got.

Friday, March 8, 2013

How do you sleep?

About a year or two ago, a thing started happening. I wake up, an hour or so after I first fall asleep, I wake up in a panic. I am convinced that I have medication I need to take. I need to take it immediately. If I don't take it, it could be fatal. In fact, I'm a bit worried that I've actually waited too long to take it.

Some nights when I wake up, I just wake up, have the thought, then realize it's not real (In real life, I don't have any life-or-death medications I need to take. The worst thing I can do is forget my synthroid, and that simply results in me being a bit woozy that day.) I'm panicked, I'm confused for a moment, but then I realize that I don't truly need to take anything, and I go back to sleep.

But then there are nights that I actually get up out of bed to get the medicine. I sometimes just walk across the room; sometimes I make it all the way to the bathroom, and I stand there, confused, wondering where the medicine could be. In fact, I can't remember which medicine I need to take, but it must be here somewhere. After all, it's critical that I take this! It always surprises me how long it takes me to figure out that there is nothing I need to take.

This happens to me at least once a week. I am awake, my heart is racing, my mind is struggling with what I need to do. I feel a rush of adrenaline. It always takes me a while to calm back down and get back to sleep.

Until this started, I never had anything like this happen to me. Sure, I would have vivid dreams that would leave me momentarily confused when I first woke up. But this is different. When this weird thought wakes me up, I am absolutely convinced that I need this medication, and it truly is a matter of life or death.

I have no idea what brought this on. I wish I knew how to stop it or what triggers it. It freaks me out, while it is happening and afterwards, when I realize that my thoughts have tricked me again. It's sort of the opposite of waking up from a nightmare. I wake up with the thought that there is something I need to do immediately.

I am hoping it goes away, just like it randomly started. I really do wish I could figure it out. Until then, sweet dreams to all of you.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Another 365

I've just completed another 365 project. (If you want to see the whole thing, go here: Link to 365 project.) It seems simple: one photo a day for one year. It's tougher than it sounds. I did my first one in 2010, and I really loved it. I learned so much about how to take photos, the limits of my camera, getting over the shyness of taking a picture. But I needed a break.

At the beginning of 2012, I decided I wanted to try it again. I recruited a number of brave souls, and we had at it. (Want to see the whole group? Go here: The whole 365 group.) We started March 1, 2012. Most of the members are from parts of my life: friends from high school and college, aunts, a spouse of a friend from grad school. It's a small group, but there are people all over the country, which made for some lovely pictures during the seasonal changes. I love seeing everyone's pictures. I feel like I know everyone a bit better, and I'm so pleased to see the beauty they all captured.

There are a lot of things I love about the 365 project. I find I'm more aware of my world. I have to be looking for that picture. I want to find something interesting or unique about the day, and that requires paying attention. I like that I can look back on my year and be reminded of every single day. But it is a challenge. There are days that nothing came my way, and I would just wander the house, looking for a new way to take a picture of that candle or stack of books. Or I would forget completely.

The biggest challenge this year wasn't directly related to the project, but definitely affected me. In November, we lost my favorite subject, our beloved kitty Murray. He was always my go-to picture; at the end of the day, when I was scrambling for something, he could be counted on for some pose of kitty splendor, and, suddenly, he was no longer there. It threw me off, probably more than I realized at the time. I know I lost track of the days, and I just didn't want to take pictures, but I felt obligated. I'm not happy with the later pictures in the project, and I have to believe it was related to this. I miss my boy so much.

The project officially ended last Thursday, and Saturday we got two kittens. These events aren't necessarily related, but it seemed right. I am sure there will be thousands of pictures of the new kitties, but last year needs to belong to Murray. I will cry when I look over this 365, but I also see so many wonderful days, mixed with those pictures of Murray.

Thank you to all participated, even if all you did was look at a few pictures. I'll probably start up again in a few months, but there is a relief to not being obligated to my camera. Yesterday I walked home from work, and I realized that I could just walk. I didn't have to look for that next picture. I could just enjoy the sunshine.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

And you'll see me, somebody new!

"I Will Survive" just shuffled up on my ipod. It's a song that makes me smile. It makes me smile because of one incident when I was in the eighth grade.

Eighth grade was a big one for me. I went from a school of about 50 kids in my grade to over 1000 eighth graders. A lot of kids would hate that jump in numbers, but it's where I found myself. In seventh grade, I had been surrounded by kids who had known me since I was 5, kids who had judged me by my inability to play kickball and my social awkwardness. I had been picked on relentlessly by a group of boys that thought it was hilarious to make the shy girl cry. In later years, there would be a few a would reconnect with, but, at the time, my primary goal of the eighth grade was to avoid ever single one of those assholes.

When you have a sea of 1000 kids to disappear into, it's pretty easy to avoid 50. I stopped being so shy because I had decided that it was no fun. I fight my shyness almost every day, but in the eighth grade, I fought it like it was my job, and I was rewarded with friends and a new life. I couldn't have been happier.

The only downside was the bus. My bus route picked up primarily kids from grade school, of course, and I would get on and hope no one would even notice me. Luckily, we lived fairly close to the school, so most days we were on for barely enough time to get settled into a seat. This was fine by me. I was so sure someone would expose me, which, looking back, was a ridiculous fear. I wasn't the only one who had found new friends, new groups to hang out with, a new way of being. We were all scattered into the pool of 1000.

But there was that day. Honestly, I can't remember the details. It had probably snowed some and there was ice and snow. They probably should have cancelled school, but they didn't. The big yellow bus full of eighth graders lugged around back roads that hadn't been plowed, and the drive that should have taken less than 10 minutes was pushing an hour. We inched along, kids got restless, it felt like we'd never get to school. We had time on the bus to reconnect and become what we were a year ago. I was almost in a panic. We couldn't get to the school soon enough.

And then, a few blocks from the school, a group of kids started singing. "At first I was afraid, I was terrified..." Gradually, more kids started singing along. We had gone our separate ways, but we all could sing along. I loved this so much because it was joyful and fun and everyone knew we were being a bit ridiculous, but it was beautiful. We pulled into the school parking lot, pumping our fists to the "Hey! Hey!" of the song. Other buses were also late, the other kids looking bored and restless, but we were all lifted that day.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

It's back!

"American Idol" is back, and I can't resist writing about it. In all fairness to the show, I will admit that I have only watched an hour or so of this new season. Of course, that speaks to how I feel about the new season. None the less, I have some opinions.

First of all, if you haven't heard about this, please give it a read and watch the video:
Do the judges actually decide?

For those who don't want to check it out, this person points out that the judges are being given signals from behind the scenes as to who to send through and who to dump. So, although there may be some back and forth during the auditions, the bottom line is that Mariah, Nicki, Keith, and Randy aren't really making any decisions here. This, of course, gets them off the hook for being a deciding vote or, frankly, even really thinking during this whole process.

If this is true, it explains a lot. It explains the "say it all together" judgments, which I hate. Why take away the most interesting part of the auditions? Will the girl who has a nice voice but is clearly nervous get through? What about the boy with the sad story and mediocre voice? Will they give him a chance? It's much more interesting to watch the judges struggle with this, but when they all shout, "YES!" there's no drama. Right now, there's so many unanimous proclamations, I have no idea as to what kind of singer speaks to each judge. Why have a panel of four with different backgrounds and ages, when all they're going to do is rubber stamp a nod from behind the camera?

This is why I watched the first half hour of the first night and decided I'd wait until Hollywood. I did catch it the other night, but it was boring, background noise. I think I'll like Nicki as a judge, but at this point, I don't know how much she's allowed to say. Mariah seems much more concerned about her hair than anything else. Keith may turn into something interesting, so I will be curious as to what might happen when (if?) they're allowed to voice their own views.

At this point, I really think that "American Idol" should just start their season in Hollywood. Make Hollywood "week" longer, with flashbacks to the auditions, backstories, all that nonsense. Let the judges do their jobs. The novelty of the bad audition has worn off, but they can still be woven into flashback segments. Hollywood Week is just good drama. Just cut to it, have us pick our favorites, and let's start voting!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Resolution Number One

This January, I am pushing myself to write. I'd love to tell you that I have a plan or a set goal for this task, but I don't. This is not entirely by accident. I know that They tell you that for resolutions to succeed, your resolutions should be specific and measurable, and for most resolutions, this is probably true. However, in this case, I am ignoring this advice.

I know I could set goals: the obvious one being a certain wordcount every day or over a period of time (5000 words per week or something like that), but I feel like at this point, this won't help me. I've done these sorts of things. I did the NaNoWriMo, and I've done the blog post a day for a month (in fact, I had quite the streak going for a while). I keep a journal that I write in every single day (just started Year 4!); I email, facebook, tweet, and text; and I write actual letters, not to mention that my actual job involves writing. This isn't to brag, but to point out that my issue isn't not writing. My issue is quality.

I feel like I have roughly 2743 projects going, at some stage of development. I don't hate any of them, but I'm not in love with any of them either. I know some of this is about finding a voice and making up for the fact that the last writing class I took was in high school. I know that I have to learn how to kill my darlings and push through and let go and all those things about writing you hear about. There are times I think about writing and am so excited about the possibilities and then there are times it scares the hell out of me. Sometimes this happens at the same time.

So, what did I decide? I resolve, in the vaguest of ways, just to write every day. No wordcount or time period will be set but I plan to work on something of mine every day, for the month of January. Maybe it doesn't sound like much, but I am hoping that this may help focus me a bit. I can see which projects I drift towards and which projects make me the happiest. Maybe I'll just write an interesting paragraph or sentence but I'm fine with that. Maybe I'll figure out a way to blend a couple of projects together or let one go. What I would like to achieve by the end of the month is a sense of purpose to my writing. Let's see how it goes!