Monday, February 27, 2012

My Bad Patch

The other day when I was walking with Spike, I remembered a scene from the movie, Dolores Clairborne 

Bad patch--that's how I describe my past three weeks. That's also how Dolores described Selena's nervous breakdown. Now I'm not trying to obliquely say that I'm having a nervous breakdown or make light of nervous breakdowns. But I got thinking about the past few weeks. It was a bad patch for me--I lost my way.

I can pinpoint when it started. That Monday when I had to get up at 4:30 am to take my mother to her cataract surgery. My sleep was disrupted for a week. But it didn't end there.

I just couldn't get it back together. I couldn't pick up where I left off. Here I am three weeks later wondering just what happened to me.

I'm running through a bunch of suggestions and techniques I've heard over the years. Break the project into small pieces so it doesn't seem so overwhelming. Just commit to doing some task for a half hour. Take the first step. Just do it.

Unfortunately, all I want to do is go back to sleep.

Friday, February 17, 2012

States I've Visited

My recent blogposts are pretty light on lists. So here is one I started at a writer's retreat. I don't remember if I wrote it to procrastinate or if I was trying to jumpstart some writing.

Minimum requirements to make the list: I have to have stayed overnight in the state.

Note on Wyoming: When I was about 12, I went on a cross country auto trip from Pennsylvania to California with my aunt, uncle and cousin.  I remember going through Nebraska, Utah and Nevada but my memories are vague.  I do remember loving Laramie, Wyoming. I remember something about Brown and Gold. I thought it was a restaurant. I guess it could have been--brown and gold are University of Wyoming colors.  

Here's my list in alphabetical order:
1. Arizona
2. California
3. Colorado
4. Connecticut
5. Delaware
6. Florida
7. Georgia
8. Illinois
9. Indiana
10. Maine
11. Maryland
12. Massachusetts
14. Minnesota
15. New Hampshire
16. New Jersey
17. New York
18. North Carolina
19. Oregon
20. Pennsylvania
21. Rhode Island
22. South Carolina
23. South Dakota
24. Texas
25. Vermont
26. Virginia
27. Wyoming

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Stupid Now

I consider myself a smart person. I also realize that being smart won't stop me from doing stupid things. But I hate when I do stupid and careless things

Yesterday Jeff and I went out to lunch. I decided to check my email as we were walking from the restaurant to the car. Somehow in the process I managed to erase the entire contents of my in box.

I didn't realize the extent of the problem until we got home. I didn't just erase emails from my phone, I erased them from the server. Neither my internet nor my cell service provider could undo my action and fix the situation.

One of the to-do's was to clean out my emails, copy things I need, delete things I don't. I've done this in bits and pieces but wanted to do a comprehensive sweep. Guess I should have put that higher up on the list. Today I had to send a few emails requesting copies of previous emails. Tomorrow, I guess I'll start reviewing my sent box and see what I can recreate from there.

Painful lesson learned.

Valentine's Day

I've always liked the story behind Valentine's Day: a priest who defied the law to marry couples in love. I loved Valentine's Day in grammar school--making construction paper mailboxes decorated with hearts and giving and receiving little Valentines. If I recall correctly, we had to give Valentines to everyone in the class. We didn't have problems like Ralph Wiggum in the "I Love Lisa" Simpsons episode

Checking out wikipedia, I read that the story of Valentine's Day is bogus  American Greetings even embellished the story to add the card giving aspect of the holiday.

Now I consider Valentine's Day as more of a marketing gimmick than anything else. Prices of chocolate, flowers and restaurant meals spike. Couples feel pressured to buy fabulous gifts or make elaborate plans. Singletons are treated or feel like freaks because they don't have significant others to share the day with.

So why do I like this holiday? For one thing, I'm lucky enough to be happily married. We ignore some of the bullshit aspects of the holiday and choose to celebrate the parts we like.  This year we went out for lunch, had filet mignon for dinner, exchanged cards and watched the latest episode if AbFab. It worked for us.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

My Screwed Up Schedule

On Monday, I had to get up at 4:30 to take my mother to her cataract surgery. Even though I tried to prepare for that early start, it messed up my sleep for the rest of the week.

When I got home Tuesday afternoon, I vegged instead of trying to do something productive. Strike two.

It wasn't that I gave up on my week at any particular point. But with each little challenge or setback, I gave up on something: I didn't make it to the gym or I didn't clean the bedroom.

Then giving up on one thing, then another snowballs into a shitty week when nothing gets done.

A friend once told me I'm very hard on myself. Sometimes that's true. Sometimes I get down on myself for all the things I didn't do, shouldn't do, did do or should do. It can be paralyzing.

That's where I am this Saturday night. Time to channel Scarlet O'Hara: I won't think about that now. I'll think about it tomorrow. Tomorrow is another day.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

What Do You Expect?--A Song of Ice and Fire Edition

As I've written before, I love Game of Thrones, the HBO series, which led me to the books Now I'm loving the books. But loving the series and the books doesn't mean I can't have any problems with them.

Last week I was discussing the first two books (A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings) with a man. I mentioned that I didn't like reading about all the rapes. First, he said there weren't many rapes; I disagreed. Then he asked, "What did you expect?"

I hate that response; it's pointless. I just wanted to give my opinion. 

The other day I was reading some blogs and came across two posts about Game of Thrones, the series The first discusses the first season:  The second focuses on hope for less sexism in the second:

I agree it would be a nice change to read about a fantasy world that isn't steeped in sexism and misogyny. A comment on the first post by Eric N. Samuels expressed my misgivings about how one of the rapes is just mentioned in passing in A Clash of Kings. It shows how rape is accepted in Westeros.

Maybe if rape wasn't so accepted in our own culture, the Westeros culture wouldn't bother me as much.

Deal of the Genes

I stayed overnight at my mother's, and yesterday morning washed and dried my hair there. Mom's hairdryer was a basic model with two settings: blow-on-your-soup and sirocco. Using the first setting meant I would need a long time to dry my hair; using the second meant I could dry my hair relatively quickly but it would be difficult to style with my hair blowing all over the place. I used a combination of the two settings with air drying and didn't bother much with styling.

I usually take my thick hair for granted. But yesterday I started wondering how I ended up as the only member of my immediate family with thick hair. That got me thinking about genes. My mother jokes that we three kids got the all the worse genes--my father's bad eyesight and her bad teeth.

Hair, eyes and teeth are things we can see and then attribute to our genes. What about other characteristics that are harder to see or measure?

Learning more about specific genes can be both a boon and a curse. My sister died of breast cancer. A few years after that, my mother received the her diagnosis of breast cancer, raising the issue of whether we carried one of the two breast cancer genes (BRCA1 and BRCA2.)

While I worried about getting the disease, I was more concerned about testing positive for those genes and becoming uninsurable. My doctor assured me that current laws would protect me but I still worried about what people and companies could do with that knowledge.

Ultimately, my mother underwent the genetic testing and results showed that she did not carry BRCA1 nor BRCA2, and I didn't inherit the genes from her. While that's no guarantee I'll avoid breast cancer, it was a relief to learn I won't have to deal with that genetic hand.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Responsible Adult

6:30 Monday morning, I took my mother to a surgical center for cataract surgery. I sat with her as she was prepped and later joined her in the recovery room. I read a sheet of after-care instructions that said someone (the responsible adult referenced in this post title) should stay with her for 24 hours. My mother reminded the nurse that she lives in a retirement community with access to assistance as needed, but the nurse still supported the original recommendation and even had me sign the after-care instructions.

It wasn't a problem for me to stay with my mother. I rescheduled a tutoring appointment and Jeff was able to bring up some clothes and toiletries for me. But I think it was hard for my mother to rely on me--she seemed to feel guilty that I had to re-arrange my schedule.

It's a weird change in our relationship. I wouldn't call it a role reversal--she doesn't want to give up decision-making and I don't want to take it on. I've helped her out (as I did on Monday) and we've discussed her major decisions. I hope that's all I have to do.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Martha Stewart's One Percent

When I recently wrote about magazines I'm reading, I mentioned that Jeff was gifted with Time, The Week and Smithsonian. The latest gift is Martha Stewart Living.

One of Martha's ideas to make everyday tasks easier is a housekeeping room. Yes, a frigging housekeeping room. Martha took a charming stable/garage, one of the many buildings on her farm, added two bathrooms, a two-car garage, home gym, etc.  But never fear--she reserved the central area for her dream housekeeping room with help from her merchandising department and home editor of her magazine.

Now, I didn't expect to find much in Martha Stewart Living that relate to my life. But a housekeeping room?  How many people can relate to that? Who is Martha's target?

The whole thing annoyed me--she's so tone deaf and clueless. She should just stay in her frigging housekeeping room and live her dream.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Soup's On

As I journaled this morning, I was wondering what to have for dinner. It seems like I've been in a bit of a rut lately. I was thinking of chicken parm but wanted to wait for another night--we already had chicken fajitas for dinner and chicken samosas for lunch this week.

I decided to make some soup using what I had on hand. I sauteed some onion and garlic, threw in vegetable and chicken broth, canned pumpkin, mung beans and carrots. We also had salad and naan.

My soup was not a success; Jeff and I both pronounced it "meh." I'll have to try something different next time.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

January Check-In

Last weekend I made a list of goals and things-to-do. Then I took the short term items and made a to-do list for this week. I categorized the longer term goals: health, writing, other creative, professional, finances, miscellaneous.

I'm doing best with my health goals because they are the most SMART goals. I'm not drinking (until Valentine's Day); I've exercised 27 days in January and I'm back into a gym routine. My goal to eat more vegetarian? Well, I haven't made the goal specific enough to measure, but at least I'm more aware of my diet and the need to make some changes.

Onto my writing goals. I've been writing my morning pages daily and I've been fairly active on this blog. I will submit a poem this week and research a place for another. Six of my writing goals are fairly specific, but I am still struggling with the most important one. Do I set a time or word goal and should it be daily, weekly or monthly based?

I still have 11 months to try to figure this all out.