One-day Olympics clearance sale – everything must go!

Pick up one of these little goodies for yourself, but hurry, they’re going fast!

I loved the Olympic opening ceremonies.  I thought they were dark and strange  – and really cool:

The nurses and the poppies reminded me of the movie “Tommy,” and some of it reminded me of a Pink Floyd show, before the fans started crawling around on the floor and up the stairs during the concert (a story for another time).  And a segment on health care in an Olympics ceremony? Danny Boyle must be daft! God save the Queen! And speaking of the Sex Pistols, I noticed that during the music medley, NBC chose to cut away when “Pretty Vacant” started playing (excerpt below is from the  website http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/us-news-blog):

Punk goes pop

The Sex Pistols have long passed away from being subversive and instead become quintessentially British. But perhaps not as far as NBCwas concerned. Their song Pretty Vacant only made snatches of the broadcast either side of a break and was largely cut.

NBC did have to cut away for commercials; I just find their timing to be very interesting. I wonder if John Lydon had to give permission for the song to be used, or if he even owns the song any more, or if he even cares about it at all:

John Lydon – the man always has an opinion, even if it’s that he doesn’t give a rip.  Good thing he’s calmed down and become more dignified:

*****

I decided to stop worrying 24/7 a couple of days ago, and it’s going pretty well. I am a gold-medal worrier; I will worry about stuff that hasn’t happened yet, stuff that is going to happen, and if you ask me, I will worry for stuff that is happening or is going to happen to you, for no charge!  A couple of days ago, I surprised myself with a couple of non-worrisome hours (not in a row; baby steps!), and I felt great in a way that I hadn’t felt for years; being able to admit that I worry ALL the time actually makes me cry; it’s exhausting, and I finally figured out that I don’t want to do it anymore.  One of the side effects of not worrying is that my concentration has returned, so I’m not all over the place, and I am able to focus on what I’m doing, without wondering if I should be doing something else. For me, practicing not worrying involves a little self-talk and relaxation, as well as my understanding what needs to be worried about, and what doesn’t; it’s going to take some conscious effort, but I’m already feeling better, and I’m encouraged that in a few weeks, I will feel even better.

*****

This is kind of a neat little list, and I’m lucky in that I have all three:

Happiness is not a word that I throw around lightly – I like that this list makes happiness into something real and recognizable, for me, anyway.  Happiness doesn’t always wear a name tag, does it?  But this song might help you pick it out of the crowd of emotions in your day (sang it in sixth grade Glee Club, and never forgot it):

Dark Knight – the rising and the aftermath

I went to see “Dark Knight Rises” on Saturday with my husband, and although I know this  probably isn’t going to win me any friends, I didn’t think it was that good. Too much exposition, no grand cinematography, and exactly two scenes near the end that were close enough to what I was expecting from the movie to make me think that the last half hour had been directed by someone different than the first two hours, but I was wrong. The movie settled right back into its half-way long shots that didn’t astound me, and so much dialogue to build the story, instead of action to illustrate the story, that I got up and left twice, just to get a break from the endless stream of yammer – (not like Tarantino yammer, which I eat up like jellybeans; this was more like, oh, you need to know all of these details or you won’t know what’s happening, which makes me squirm).

I have seen every Batman movie from the first one with Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson, and liked them in varying degrees.  I wonder about myself so often, and even now I wonder if what happened in Colorado affected what I thought of the movie.  I don’t think that it did, but I still wonder. And I wonder what was going on in James Holmes’ mind that night, and what had been going on his mind for so long that led him to the theatre that night. I think helplessness and rage are just two of the emotions that I’m feeling about what happened, along with being terribly sad.  My heart goes out to the victims and their families – there are no easy answers here,  just pain. I won’t stop going to the movies, and from the looks of the packed houses on Saturday night, most other people won’t stop, either.  The irony (for me, anyway) is that now one of the places that we could go to escape the pain of life has become another reminder of that pain.

Summer’s knitting, inside and out

Here’s what I’ve been doing recently instead of writing:

These are all in various states of completion (two are actually finished); at last, a clear illustration of either my tenacity or my OCD – it’s a tough call.  They do look kinda cool all lined up like this, though…I’m knitting like a fiend, hoping to have these ready for the Christmas season.  I might have to throw some hats in there as well, dunno –

I can add the Turtles, and Micky Dolenz to my concert list – went to see the Happy Together tour at the Pacific Ampitheatre last night, and it was wonderful.  The Turtles, the Grass Roots (saw them at Magic Mountain when I was 13!), Micky Dolenz,and the Buckinghams; and when the Turtles launched into the beginning of “Peaches En Regalia,” which I determined was their way of saying “Hi, Frank (Zappa),”  I thought I was going to pass out from joy. Being surprised in life is….well, surprising, and I love when it happens. Well done, guys, well done.

I’m going to see “Savages” this afternoon; Oliver Stone is always over-the-top, so looking forward to some scenery-chewing, lurid, gory good times. “Moonrise Kingdom” was one of the two movies that I liked this summer; “The Avengers” was the other one.  We’ll see if I can add “Savages” to the short list – off to the movies I go!

1967 – How much is your childhood worth?

I’ve been fooling around on my laptop tonight, and for some reason, thought about the first thing that my mother let me send for through the mail – it was 1967, and I really wanted the Yellow Pages dress, so she let me mail a dollar bill with the order form, and reminded me that it would take “six to eight weeks for delivery.” When I got the dress, I was a little dismayed to realize that it was paper, and I ended up tossing it after a botched styling attempt with scissors. I was unbelievably shy when I was a kid, and there would have been no way that I was going to wear a paper dress out in public, especially one that I had cut to micro-mini status. (And I know that this conflicts with being an introvert, but  I was also a tomboy who loved to play kickball and get into fights with boys, and if I was going to do either of those things in a paper dress, it was certain that my day would end badly.)

In 2007,  “Antiques Roadshow” had someone on the show who decided to bring their version of the paper dress to have it appraised; the appraisal value was from $1800-$2200. Now, if I had been a savvier little girl (or psychic), I would have put away the scissors and kept the dress in a Zip-Lok bag for 40-plus years.     I would have also kept my metal Slinky, except that my brother and I were bored at daycare one morning, and decided that we would stretch the Slinky out completely to see if it would go all the way around the playground (it did), and my Click Clacks:

If I remember correctly, Click Clacks were found to be dangerous, as they tended to crack and sometimes shatter – it’s a wonder I survived my childhood at John A. Sutter Elementary School, although I was more in danger of getting beat up than anything else.  I had no problem squaring off with boys, and girls, too – I did get smacked a few times, and a girl stabbed me in the leg with a stick in the bathroom, but otherwise, I got out of grade school intact.  (Only one boy socked me in the stomach, and as it turned out, had a crush on me, and got into trouble for carving my name and his into a tree. Cute.)

If I were to gaze into my crystal ball, or check my Magic Eight-Ball (which is still sold today, so no reason to have held on to that toy), what little gadgets would we pay large dollars for in 2046? Maybe you have an idea – I’m going to go check my steamer trunk for those Click Clacks.

Black Hole Monday

On vacation this week, and instead of doing something fun, I decided to have a meltdown. I ended up sitting on the pier at Huntington Beach, feeling as if I was finished with everything, and that there was nothing to look forward to in life. I don’t know if I can explain the feeling adequately; it’s more than being down. I felt overwhelmed, my self esteem took a nosedive, and I was drowning; this just didn’t happen on Monday, but has been building for a few weeks. That Monday morning, when I couldn’t stop crying, I called my therapist and left a message, and after that was when I got in the truck and went to the beach.

To review, I have seen a therapist for a period of time at two points in my life; after my niece passed away in the hospital from a botched surgery, and recently, after my mother died in 2010. I was diagnosed with major recurring depressive disorder in 2004 (I found out the diagnosis code, and looked it up in the DSM-IV), and was on antidepressants for about a year from 2004-2005. I stopped taking them when I felt better, which, as I understand it, is the way it’s supposed to work, although I know not everyone has a good experience with taking them.

I decided on Monday that, instead of going another twelve rounds in therapy, I would make a list of the things that are making me feel bad, and then make a list of what I’m doing (or could be doing) to make myself feel better. Here’s the list:

What makes me feel bad:

  1. I feel exhausted and out of shape
  2. I am overwhelmed at work and home
  3. I’m not looking forward to anything
  4. I don’t like to leave the house and try new things anymore
  5. I have a lot of fear
What I’m doing (or going to do) about all of it:
  1. I have started running, and signed up for a yoga and meditation class
  2. I intend to narrow my focus to doing one thing at a time
  3. I am going to make plans, and follow through on them
  4. I am going to make myself leave the house, and try new things
  5. See number 5
Making the list helped immensely, because it made me identify exactly what has been bothering me, and also helped me figure out if the solutions were within my control.  I think I’ve written this already, and it is important enough to repeat – depression isn’t romantic, it’s frightening.  If you’ve had it, you know.  If you think you have it, ask for help; I finally did, and getting help made all the difference.

People, people, people!

(I miss George Carlin – he always said what needed to be said.)

As this year moves forward, I find that I’m having a recurring thought about the state of the people in my state (California).  I would really like to get this out in one breath, so here goes:

We have lost our courtesy, our compassion, and our intelligence. We all walk around in the same sloppy clothes, watch the same movies and television programs, read the same books, and think the same thoughts. Rudeness is the new standard of behavior; rewards go to the rudest on television,so we mimic what we see so that we can be rewarded. There is no individuality, no critical thinking, and no creativity. Everything is programmed, curated, and manipulated for our maximum enjoyment by a corporation with a computer program.  Everything is slick, and cold, and neat – no holes, no mistakes, no passion.  Everything is boring, and from the looks of it, Americans have given up on taste, manners, and style.

Ok, back to the post. I am aware that there are intelligent, clever, interesting, fun, down to earth people out there. I am fortunate to know many of them- however, it is a little discouraging to go out into the general population and observe the behavior that is now appears to be acceptable.  It’s not so much what people are wearing, although that is part of it – what you wear is important in determining how you feel, and how you feel can have a huge impact on how you behave.  It’s really more about how people act towards one another; a few weeks ago, I was at Target, pushing my cart up and down the aisle, shopping for…everything, and a woman turned down the aisle that I was in, pushing her cart.  Rather than backing her cart out so I could get through, she just stood there and stared at me, waiting for me to move out of the way for her.  People don’t move out of the way for you; you are always expected to go around them, no matter how many boxes or bags you’re carrying.  And if children are out with these adults, they are usually screaming, crying, or being generally obnoxious (to be fair, the well-behaved children usually don’t capture my attention, so my observation is a bit skewed.)

I was out at breakfast with my girlfriends last week, and we were catching up on our lives, when it occurred to us that there was some background noise that didn’t seem to subside. We realized that there was a screaming child at the next table, and the adults at the table weren’t making any attempts to make the child stop; not only did they not do anything, they were laughing.  This went on for a good ten or fifteen minutes, until one of them finally took the child outside.  I won’t get started on what I observe in the way of , or substantial lack of, parenting skills; I will say this: just because a couple is biologically capable of having children, that doesn’t mean they should.

I have no solutions for what I’m seeing; it’s like the ATTACK OF THE STUPIDS in 3-D, and it’s playing everywhere, in malls, movie theaters, and restaurants.  I love where I live, and I know I sound a little discouraged about it all; maybe it’s different where you live. I hope so, because there are days when the Golden State seems a little tarnished.  Maybe we can all put down our smartphones (at least something is smart in life these days; eventually all of our intelligence will be sucked into our smartphones, and we won’t be able to make a move without them), and start talking to one another to find ways to be…better, damn it, just better than we are now.

Working it out

Time to put on the (pink) weighted gloves, the pink and charcoal Asics, and get my rear end off the couch.  I’m back in Weight Watchers, as the scale won’t go down, and I don’t want it to go up any more; today was a LOT of vegetables, salad, egg whites, bananas, and water, and I consider it a good beginning. I have felt the shadow of eventual weight gain hanging over me like a sword ever since I got to my goal weight in 2009, so I’m not all that surprised, since I think something like 99% of those who lose weight gain it back.  (I hear you out there: “Self-fulfilling prophecy?’ Nope; barbecue potato chips and cheesecake bites, along with workouts that decreased from five a week to one or two.)  I have the behaviorial aspects of weight loss down, and what I always need to remember is that the emotional piece of this puzzle needs to be acknowledged, and removed.  By that I mean that my success in the weight loss area hinges largely on my being able to take emotion out of the picture.  So the puzzle might look like this:

Part of my removing emotion is writing about what has happened here; I used to stay quiet whenever I gained weight, as if that would keep it from being real.  Now, I’m talking about it, to make it real – it’s not a lot of weight (eight pounds), but it is a stubborn eight pounds, to be sure. Ugh, just the idea of having to do this again makes me want to lie down and eat a pound of chocolate-covered cherries, but I won’t.  There are foods that I just cannot eat, and I won’t ever be able to eat them with any amount of control, and I’ve gotten used to that, and don’t think about it often (except for moments like now.)

The good news is that I’ve stopped the madness before all of my good work was undone, and I have the good habits in mind, and can start down the right road pretty easily.  I will continue to write about my progress (and my lack of, although I will strive for progression, not regression), and if all goes well, you will be seeing less of me in a few months. Stay tuned…

P.S. Check out “Diet Bytes” at foodismydrug.wordpress.com for more on the subject —

Daddy, what did you really do in the war?

This is how I learned that my father was in the war: every year in August, when my parents had two weeks off work, we would load up the car with the yellow suitcases, books and snacks, and drive to a motel with a pool, where we would swim all day until we couldn’t breathe from all of the pool water we had swallowed, and then get out of the pool, go to the motel restaurant for dinner, go to bed, get up, and do it all over again.  I always woke up earlier than everyone else, so I would put on my bathing suit and read until everyone else started moving around.

I remember a few times waiting in the dark, listening to my father yelling out in his sleep; he would also do it at home, but I remember that it seemed more intense when we were on vacation. I knew that he had been in World War II, and that he was a medic (recently, I learned his true classification, which was pharmacist’s mate, second class), and that he had gone to Japan, but hadn’t left the ship.  This was very interesting to me at the time, as I was in the fourth grade, and studying Japan; I was truly impressed that my dad had gotten so close to the country, and disappointed that he didn’t actually set foot on land.

What I have learned about my father in the twelve years since his passing has been like opening a door into a part of his life that I never really knew. He kept a journal while he was overseas; from that, I know this:

My dad served two tours of duty with the 128th Naval Construction Battalion (Pontoon), and among other events, was involved in “bringing aid to the wounded during military operations resulting in the capture of a beachhead on Bougainville Island, in the British Solomon Islands.” (Quote taken from a letter by Major S. Geiger, commanding general of the first Marine Amphibious Corps – part of a news clipping my dad saved, must have been from the local paper in Iowa; the headline, or the part that wasn’t torn away, says, “Thorpe Member of Medical Unit Meriting Praise.”)

For his efforts, my father received a commendation in November 1943, a field citation in December 1943, and a Good Conduct medal in 1945. According to the card he received that authorized him to wear the ribbons, he received two stars for the Asiatic-Pacific ribbon (I think that must have been the field citation).

The Good Conduct medal makes me laugh a little, because in his journal, he describes how he was arrested in Okinawa for looting tombs and caves, having contraband (doesn’t say what; hmmmmm), and misusing a government vehicle, and being out of bounds: “April 23rd – It started out as souvenier hunting…picked us up coming out of a hut and warned us against taking stuff. Let us go and said we could search caves and tombs.  Arrested two hours later – same guy!  Taken to POW camp and treated rotten.Turned over to C.O. this morning.”

“April 24th – Railroaded out of Okinawa; best bet.”  Apparently, he did make it to Japan; I guess that little episode isn’t one you’d want to tell your eight-year old daughter. It’s OK, Dad – I like knowing it about you now.

My father never talked about what happened in the war, so it came out when he was sleeping. He was born in a time when you handled your own problems, and didn’t talk about any of them.  My dad was always a hero to me; what I know now is that he was a hero for his country, and that is a great thing to know. I’m going to remember the heroes today, both here and gone – and wish a good Memorial Day to you.

Out for repairs

Perfect May evening, and I feel about as imperfect as I’ve felt in a while; tired, tense, out of shape, and mentally exhausted; Club Petaluma is upside down with unfinished projects and clutter, and I’m writing cranky poetry, which usually makes me feel better, but that isn’t even doing the trick.   I don’t feel like I’ve completely gotten over being sick from a couple of weeks ago, and I wound up in the ER earlier this week with severe back pain. I never knew that the phrase “pain management” would come to be so familiar to me; I’m well-acquainted with my “regular” pain, but this was new, persistent and scary.  It turned out to be a strained thoracic muscle, but I am glad that I got it checked out, since heart attack symptoms for women can show up as back pain. My mother’s heart attack started out as a bad backache, and resulted in triple-bypass surgery for her, so I’m on the job when it comes assessing back pain.

Being a cranky mess is not the way that I want to spend the summer, so here’s a visual list to get this camper back into happy mode:

When I practice all of these, I feel like this:

Instead of this:

As always, my friends keep me in the game, and this week was no exception.  I was excited to see my friend Tischel receive her Master’s in Education on Saturday at Cal State Long Beach, and it turned into a nice reunion of CSULB work friends:

This week, friends asked about me, called me when I was in the ER, texted me, and made me laugh.  You are gold to me, all of you, and I don’t ever forget how fortunate I am to know you. And now, let’s roll out summer, why don’t we?