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 —

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?

Mom

Mom,

I miss you today, more so than usual, since it’s Mother’s Day.  You left two years ago, while in the hospital; you waited until I walked outside to make a phone call, and when I came back, the look on the nurse’s face as he walked toward me was all I needed to know. If you were still here, you would have been without a foot, as they wanted to amputate it when the sore on it from being bandaged got so bad that nothing else could be done, and it wasn’t healing because you had no circulation in your leg from the stroke, and your skin was so fragile.  I was told that even if the decision was made to amputate the foot, that you still might not make it, as you had an incredible amount of blockages in all of your arteries.

There was no one else to help me with deciding what to do, and when I asked you what you wanted to do, you said you wanted to keep your foot.  I still don’t know if it was the right decision, but it was the one that I made.

My earliest memory is of you singing to me when I was in my crib; you  usually sang “Would You Like to Swing on a Star?” I think I remember that because it had so many verses, and choices; I could be a mule, or a fish, or a pig, and that was pretty neat.

Would you like to swing on a star
Carry moonbeams home in a jar
And be better off than you are
Or would you rather be a mule

A mule is an animal with long funny ears
Kicks up at anything he hears
His back is brawny but his brain is weak
He’s just plain stupid with a stubborn streak
And by the way, if you hate to go to school
You may grow up to be a mule

You loved Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, and Dean Martin, among other crooners.  I grew up with music, dance, art, and books, because of you and Dad, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I’m all right most days;  and I miss you when the going gets rough, like it has been today. I like to think that you are with Dad, and Steve, and Naomi – give Asia a big hug for me. I love you, Mom.

Marching forward for common sense

Next weekend, I will be driving to Sacramento to participate in the We Are Women march from the state capitol to Fremont Park.  You can find the details at www.wearwomenmarch.net; marches are planned to take place throughout the United States, and in California, there will be events in San Diego and Los Angeles, as well as Sacramento.

When I think of how women fought for the right to vote a hundred years ago, and that now we are having to go out and fight for equality AGAIN, to let these politicians know that they are going down the wrong road, and that if they think that we are going to sit still for idiotic legislation that downgrades women without doing anything about it, they need to pay close attention, and watch what happens on the 28th – the GOP is acting as if it’s 1910, so ladies and gentlemen, let me remind you, if you’ve forgotten….women have the vote, and we intend on using  it. As Lori, my partner in protest says, “You can’t shut us up!”  Stay tuned for news from the front –  and if you can’t make it next weekend, there is a march on Washington D.C. planned for September: http://www.wearewoman.us/.

Being wise in time

I was driving back from the movies today (saw “The Hunger Games, and stopped for the book, because I need to fill in the gaps), and thinking about nothing and everything, when this hit me like a runaway truck: what I would like, and what I need, is more wisdom and less judgment in my life, both for myself and from the people that I love.

I’ll repeat – more wisdom, less judgment.

I think my parents were wise in lots of ways; they both went through hell when they were young, got away from it, and came to California to start new lives.  They didn’t have a lot of parental wisdom to draw from, as they each lost one of  their own parents fairly early in their lives (in my mom’s situation, both of them; Grandma Sperou was alive, but permanently hospitalized and really not present in my mother’s life), but they did their best, I think.  I always felt like they never gave up, no matter how difficult life got for them. I miss that, and I miss them.  They were comforting to me, and sometimes saying nothing was the wisest thing they ever did.

I was thinking that we have all gotten pretty judgmental in our lives, and I know that if you read my last post, you’re saying, “Wait? What? You just wrote a whole thing on judging what people wear!”

Exactly – clothing; I’m digging a little bit deeper than that today.  (And if you didn’t read my last post, go read it now. I’ll wait.)

I know how to be judgmental, but lately, I feel like I have no idea what wisdom means.  I looked up both “wisdom” and “judgment” in the dictionary, and apparently, they are listed as synonyms for each other.  Not sure that I agree;  I would add one more idea, and make it an equation:

Judgment + compassion = wisdom.

Our lives have gotten too fast – we only have seconds to spare for most everything, including other people.  Theodore Roosevelt said, “Nine tenths of wisdom is being wise in time.”  If we slow down enough to really listen to what people say, or to think about what they might have been through in their lives, or what they might need right now, maybe we can stop judging and start understanding them. I’ll keep working on it….