An Explanation is In Order

The short of it is simple: a combination of continued medication adjustments and then also a total lack of motivation contributed to my posting nearly nothing in two months. I am doing better now, and then I also wanted to hit 50 posts here by the end of the year, so here I am again.

The long of it… is hard to remember. I don’t really know what I was up to all that time. I mostly just existed. I got obsessed with amigurumi (crochet dolls and toys, basically). I had my birthday, which was uneventful as heck. I saw a couple movies. I felt happy and depressed and sometimes both in the same day. I have nothing to say for myself, and yet everything.

I don’t know what I’ve been up to. I know I haven’t been posting and that’s not great, but I can’t explain why I didn’t post almost anything over two months. It just sort of happened. I didn’t have anything to write about. My motivation was shot. I was doing NaNoWriMo, and then eventually failing at it. I was baking things like pumpkin snickerdoodles and apple crisp. I was failing to read any books or watch any other movies. I basically did a whole lot of nothing.

That isn’t very interesting, but it’s the truth, I suppose. I will try to be more present in the future. I want to be more present. I am doing better now that I’m not wallowing in self-loathing. Things are still iffy from time to time but I am getting better. Kinda sorta.

I don’t know. I’m here now, at least.

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The Indelible Joy of Making

I made beignets this past Sunday (my parents bought me a Cafe du Monde mix when they were in New Orleans in April). There was something about the making of them–mixing the dough, rolling it out, cutting it, and frying it up–that put me in an extraordinarily good mood. I can’t identify what it was, exactly, but it stayed with me almost all day, and I loved it.

I get this feeling whenever I bake something, or when I finish a doodle or a knit piece, or anything like that, really. I like doing things with my hands. It’s a lot of work, sometimes, but it’s always worth it, and I love when people compliment what I do complete. Gratification keeps me going, and I love that, too.

I was talking with my therapist recently about all my life stuff, and how I set high expectations for myself almost all the time, and she brought up the fact that a lot of my activities–writing, big knitting projects, and so on–are very long term things. I don’t get that sense of gratification until much, much later, and that means that the activity turns into work, and the work becomes something I avoid, and the avoidance sends me spiraling into depression. So she’s asked me to work on finding things that are short term to get done in a day, so I can feel accomplished instead of depressed.

I’m probably going to bake something today. I’m thinking an apple crisp, since I have a bunch of apples sitting around, and I also was thoroughly disappointed by Arby’s new cinnamon apple crisp earlier this week. (It was more of a cake with some apple crumble on top than a crisp.) So I’m probably going to google a recipe here in a moment and get that made up, because I like making things. It’s work, but the end result is a delight, always.

I like to make things. My whole life has been a series of making things, whether abstract or concrete, and it’s something I want to continue into the future. So at the least I will make things now and then every week, to capture that feeling once again, and hold it tight to my chest like a candle flame in a dark and dreary world.

That Time I Played Dungeons & Dragons (And Had a Lot of Fun)

So a week ago I visited my brother and sister-in-law, who live about an hour from me. I was bringing them their anniversary gift, and just hanging out, because my parents were out of town and I highly dislike spending vast quantities of time alone. So I went for a visit.

My brother and SIL have both recently gotten into Dungeons and Dragons; they play a game with friends of theirs, and my brother recently began DM’ing for some of his work friends. I’ve been kind of interested in it, but I don’t have any local friends to play with, so… yeah. Then my brother asked me, when I arrived last Saturday, if I wanted to play a game while I was here. Just a one-shot, he said, no pressure. I agreed.

I had, by unlucky chance, been awake since 4am that day, which meant when it was time to start our post-dinner game, I was very tired. I kind of half-understood all the mechanics of character creation, and as it complicated, I was wondering if I’d even be good at playing. I’m not a great improviser, to be honest, so I wasn’t sure how this was going to go. Nevertheless, I created a wood elf sorcerer named Thia Galanodel, and that was that. My SIL created a half-orc rogue named Lucius, and my brother had a brief adventure written up already (I believe he used it for the first session of his work friends’ game).

What followed was, in short, a great deal of fun. There was much joking around, and I had a very good time. The game started, as such adventures do, in a tavern. Thia and Lucius were grudgingly sharing a table in a dark corner of the barroom (one of many such tables; we decided the tavern had at least a dozen dark corners with occupied tables). And then a human farmer burst in, exclaiming that his son had been kidnapped by goblins. Thia and Lucius tried to make an exit, but the farmer lit upon us before we could. (Good old railroading.) The farmer promised us a considerable sum (60,000 GPs, because we cannot resist an Adventure Zone reference, it seems) to bring back his son, and we agreed.

Soon we found ourselves tracking the goblins through a forest. We settled down for the night, only to be attacked by a pair of wolves. It was a short-ish battle, not without its casualties. Mostly here I mean the wolves, but we lost some HP ourselves. After the wolves were dispatched, we continued our rest, recovered, and followed the track to a mausoleum in the heart of the forest. A single goblin guarded it. Lucius hit upon the idea of talking to the guard rather than fighting straight out, which I thought was dumb, so Thia left him to it while she faded into the trees.

While Lucius’ idea did not end in disaster, it did end in the goblin going into the mausoleum for reinforcements. Lucius returned to me, and when the goblin reemerged with two fellows, we decided to give this talking thing another go. The goblins were nervous, but Thia, with her high Charisma and +5 to Persuasion, managed to convince them to take us to their leader. (The goblins’ names were, hilariously, Dishrag, Soaprag, and, uh, Ragrag.)

We were taken into the mausoleum and into the crypt, where we saw that the goblins had, in addition to the farmer’s son, kidnapped quite a few halflings and gnomes as well. Their leader, Grishnak, who was trying way too hard to be a badass. He had a ruby-encrusted eyepatch that he didn’t even need, and he apparently had “bad motherf*****” tattooed on his arm in Goblin (not that our characters knew this, since neither of us spoke the language). He demanded from Ragrag to know what was going on, and what we were going to do about his bounty.

Thia and Lucius exchanged a look. “Just give us the boy and we’ll get out of your way.”

Grishnak was stunned. He didn’t want a couple of pragmatists only in it for the money, he wanted heroes! He wanted a nemesis, dammit! It had taken him forever to gather up all these folk and cage them! He was going to sell them for a lot of money, too!

We politely inquired how much Grishnak expected to get for his haul.

“Three silver pieces,” he replied.

Thia and Lucius exchanged another look. “We have ten gold pieces between the two of us,” Thia said. “How about we give you that gold in exchange for the boy? Would that be amenable to you?”

I rolled a heck-a high persuasion check, and Grishnak agreed. Our adventure seemed to be done, and we headed out of the mausoleum with the boy, heading back through the forest to return him to his father.

Until.

As we made camp that night, we were set upon by none other than Grishnak, who cried out, “I CHANGED MY MIND!!” as he attacked. Thia fired Magic Missile at him, with the three bolts going right through his ridiculous eyepatch. He was dead in an instant. Being the pragmatists we were, Thia and Lucius searched his body. We got our money back, and Lucius gained a better weapon while Thia took the goblin’s Bag of Holding. We also took the eyepatch so we could pawn the jewels on it.

And that was basically that. We returned the boy, got our considerable reward, and a good time was had by all, both in-game and out.

***

Obviously this was just a for-fun game with no real consequences or anything like that, but hot damn was it fun. I definitely want to play DnD again sometime, but it’s hard to tell when I’ll be able to. In the meantime, I’m going to at least work on my character when I’ve got some spare time, and get her figured out so maybe I can do something with her in the future. I’m not ruling anything out.

An untitled post about losing a pet.

We had to euthanize my cat, Lily, yesterday. It was the right thing to do. We’d found out a couple months back that she had cancer, and unfortunately we couldn’t afford surgery to remove the tumor. So the tumor grew, and Lily shrank, until her belly was gone and you could feel her vertebrae when you pet her. She walked unsteadily, climbed carefully, and lost a lot of the fire she’d had when she was healthy. No more picking fights with the other cats, just… sleeping and cuddling.

This might have all been okay, if not for the fact that she was only seven years old.

We have two senior cats: Norman is 15 or 16, and Smokey (who due to her anxiety lives in my room with me) is about 14. It’s funny, because I would have been almost okay with this happening to either of them. It would have been understandable if one of the older cats had gotten sick and enfeebled. But no. It was the middle-aged cat, and it was just so goddamn unfair.

We knew pretty much from the diagnosis that euthanasia was going to be the end for Lily. As she got sicker, the death date drew ever closer. Last week we were saying it would probably be this week. And even just a couple days ago, we were saying it would be this week. And then yesterday it was sort of decided: it was going to be yesterday. And I was… okay with it, almost. I tend to be unfeeling and strange when it comes to death. The last two pets we had to say goodbye to were elderly and sick, and I didn’t cry when they went to the vet for the last time.

But Lily was different. We got her as a kitten on May 19th, 2010, I think? I would have to check my journals for the exact date, but that seems right. I was still in university, having just finished my first year away. The daughter of one of Mom’s coworkers had a cat who had just had kittens, and we had put one of our much older cats to sleep several months before. Mom wanted another cat, because we only had two at the time. So the daughter brought the kittens to the office after work one day (I worked in the same office, scanning papers), and we picked out Lily.

She was sweet and playful. She hit it off with Norman right away, but unfortunately did not get along with Smokey, who wanted to be left alone when Lily wanted to play. But she was a nice cat. She grew into a large, beautiful kitty. She didn’t really like being picked up or handled very much, and hardly ever purred for us humans, but she did sometimes purr for me. Her fur was soft as anything, and on her belly was a gorgeous patch of fluffy orange fur.

She was a good cat, for all that she was something of a bully (she was much larger than Smokey, and when we took in a litter of feral kittens, she turned up bigger than them as well). I loved her. I thought she was sweet, when she wanted to be, and isn’t that always the way with cats?

So finding out she had cancer was a blow. And realizing, yesterday, that I would never see her again, never coax her into purring, never give her the chin scritches she loved so well… hurt. I cried a lot. Sending her with my dad to the vet hurt, and I went from having an okay day to being miserable because I had lost a friend.

I’m doing better today. I’m probably going to talk about this in therapy next week. I have to remember not to let this ruin my week. But it hurts. It hurts in an awful way, and I just wish I knew what to do with all this pain.

I know we did the right thing, but it still hurts, and it’s still unfair and awful.

I’ll get through it. Maybe in a few years, after our seniors have passed on, we’ll get another cat (we have five–Norman and Smokey, and three of the kittens we rescued). But for now, it hurts, and I just wish I knew what to do.

Lily
2010-2017
May you rest in peace

General Life Update: A Treatise on Goals and Accoutability

I’m doing okay. It could be better, but it could always be better. I’m paying as best attention as I can to my moods and my productivity. I had therapy yesterday, and we went over some stuff I’m going to work on over the next few months. I got my meds adjusted a little so I can hopefully sleep through the night. (Though I will say the first night on the adjustment did not go very well. Having anxiety dreams did not help.) Just little things happening so I can hopefully make big things happen.

I don’t really know what else to update you on. I’ve just about gotten through Series 5 of Doctor Who, so that’s good news on the reviewing front, though I’m going to have to rewatch some episodes so I can write about them properly. I am trying to write, but it’s not going that great. It’s the worst when the words don’t want to come, because you know you are capable of this thing, you ARE, but the words are like “lol nope” and hide from you. I’m reading a lot more than I was, but it’s still not enough, because I keep checking out books from the library’s digital collection, and it’s doing me no good at all. My knitting is actually going the way I want it to right now; I’m about on track to finish the first three rows of this afghan I’m making by the end of the month.

But there’s just so little to write about and report. Life goes on. It isn’t terribly interesting, but it’s going. Always going. I saw a nurse practitioner the other day who gave me some advice on losing weight, which is something that’s been bothering me for last few months. Or years, really. So I’m going to try to start exercising and eating better and smaller portions. That’s for next week, though. This week still has some days left in it, so I’m going to do what I can to enjoy it.

I suppose it’s mostly a matter of making space in my schedule. We have a recumbent bike at home, so I think I’d be perfectly capable of reading while I work on that. I also have WiiFit, but you can’t really multitask doing that. Still, any movement is good movement, especially compared to where I am right now (which is no movement at all). I know if I actually put in the work–like with everything else–good things will happen and I’ll start to accomplish things.

It’s just hard to work. Maybe it’s a mental problem, but I’m not so sure. It’s probably just a result of being a semi-prodigy in my formative years, where I didn’t have to work very hard to accomplish a great deal. Unfortunately, you can’t lose a lot of weight by doing it all three days before your weigh-in. It has to happen over time. Ditto writing, ditto knitting, ditto everything. You have to do the work. And rushing it will result in sloppy finished products, and this is why you don’t procrastinate, kids.

What I really need is someone to hold me accountable. I have all these goals, but it’s easy to just set them aside, because no one is standing over me yelling at me to get it done. I’m hoping my mom and I can hold each other accountable regarding exercise, and maybe my online writing group can hold me accountable with writing (I want to have a finished short story by the end of October). It’s just a matter of willpower, but sometimes having other people in on it helps, too.

I actually managed to go on about this a lot longer than I thought I could. Well, that’s rambling for you. You start out not knowing where you’ll end up and in the end you find you’ve gone quite a ways further than you thought you could.

What about you guys? What do you do to hold yourself accountable to your goals? Do you get friends and family involved? Or do you have another system in place? Whatever it is, I’d love to hear about it.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: No One Actually Cares If You Don’t Shave Your Legs

I am a woman living in Western society, which means said society dictates that in order to be socially acceptable and more attractive, I must be as hairless as possible. Some people couch it in terms of hygiene–having all that hair in all those places gives bacteria places to grow! Isn’t that disgusting? Don’t you want to be the opposite of disgusting?

When I was younger, I let this dictate how I dressed, especially in the summer. I hated shaving my legs (still do), so I’d spend the hot Kentucky summers wearing jeans most of the time. Society had made me self-conscious of how I looked, and it wasn’t until some time later that I learned to stop giving a damn.

For one, the hygiene argument is patently ridiculous. I can’t believe I let my middle school health teacher con me into thinking that was true. As long as you bathe regularly, having hair in, say, your underarms is not going to make you more gross or smelly or whatever. And anyway, if it is such bad hygiene, why exactly are men allowed to have as much hair as they like in their armpits? Shouldn’t they shave as well, to be less gross and smelly and disgusting?

(Double standards: the bricks on which the patriarchy is built.)

The same double standards applies to the hair on our legs: men should have hairy legs because virility and etc., but on women??? GROSS. There is literally no difference between men and women’s hair. It’s just keratin. We’re supposed to be hairy; we’re mammals for crying out loud! From what I’ve read, women only started shaving their legs when skirts got shorter in the early to mid twentieth century, and that was mostly because advertising companies convinced them that such hair (on the legs and the armpits) was “objectionable.” To who, exactly?

And really, in this day and age, who cares? It’s just hair. It’s keratin. It’s exactly like what’s on our heads.

I could certainly expound on how it’s rather creepy that society (i.e., mostly heterosexual white men) wants women to look as prepubescent as possible, but instead I’m going to talk about my personal experience this summer.

As I said above, I hate shaving my legs. It takes forever, it’s a pain in the ass, and I always, always miss a spot or three, which nags on my perfectionist tendencies. For a long time I just haven’t seen the point. As I said before, my laziness and distaste for the whole process had led me to mostly wear jeans in the summer, or wear shorts for a week at a time until the hair was “visible” enough that I felt uncomfortable wearing shorts.

This year, I finally decided to stop giving a fuck. I have worn shorts almost all the time since late May, I would say? And I’ve only shaved my legs maybe three times. I shaved them today, for example, and they were quite hairy. I wore shorts yesterday, out in public, and no one cared.

In fact, I’m pretty sure the last time I shaved my legs was at least two months ago, and I’ve worn shorts nearly every day. No one has walked up to me to say that I’m disgusting, or that I’ll never get a man, or anything like that. No one cares.

I know I’m making it sound kind of revolutionary, but to me, it kind of is. In high school I was asked by a bunch of… well, preppy girls how often I shaved my legs. I admitted that it wasn’t all the time, and they laughed. I tried to shrug it off, because I wore jeans all the time even then and no one ever saw my legs, but it still hurt.

So it IS a revelation: NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOUR HAIRY LEGS. If you think it’s going to repel future partners, worry not! Remember that phrase, “If you can’t handle me at my worst, then you don’t deserve me at my best”? EXACTLY THAT. As far as I’m concerned, people who put so much stock into the stupid subtleties of physical appearance are not worth my time.

So yeah. I’ve stopped caring about my body hair, because it turns out no one else cares, either! Most decent people in the world have bigger things going on in their lives than some random lady’s hairy legs. And that’s just the way I like it.

Well That Was an Adventure From Start to Finish: The Joys of Temporary Work

This week started out on a hopeful note: I got a call from the temp agency telling me I’d been selected for a new position at a distribution plant in town. I had to go in and update my paperwork and take a drug test, but I had a job again! That was great.

Less great: the actual job. I made it through orientation all right, but then we (there were three of us temps starting that day) were thrown into the work. We were put in order consolidation, where the orders are put together for the packers. We were given some very basic training that I don’t feel adequately covered everything? But I’m one to talk. It didn’t help that there were lulls between the pickers arriving with the product to consolidate, and if there is anyone worse at looking busy, I would love to meet them, because I am terrible at it.

So that, coupled with the fact that I still wasn’t really sure what I was supposed to be doing, meant that I spent the first half of my shift having a mini panic attack. I probably should have taken one of my anxiety meds, which I had brought for the express purpose of staving off a panic attack, but it’s surprisingly hard to think about such things when you’re panicking. I still didn’t do all that great with the second half of the shift, either.

It was no surprise, therefore, when I got home and checked my phone to see that I had a message from the temp agency. Telling me that the company did not want me back the next day. I had a feeling I hadn’t done well generally, and it stung a little, but it wasn’t surprising. I’m not very quick on the uptake. I’m shy and sometimes afraid to ask questions. And I’m prone to panicking when I don’t know what I’m doing. Those things do not combine well with a fast-paced work environment.

So yes, that was an adventure. Not a great one, but it happened. I’m back on the list of available people at the temp agency, and hopefully something that’s more my speed will come up. I’m beginning to doubt it, but I live in hope, I guess.

On the Road

As I mentioned in my previous post, I had to go to California this past weekend for a funeral. Since I live in Kentucky, this involved a very long ride in a car with my family. (We might have flown, but alas, unlike some people, we are not made of enough money to buy plane tickets for four adults and two children at what is relatively the last minute.) My dad makes the drive in pretty good time – about 48 hours when one includes a stop for one night – but it is in many respects interminable and a little boring.

These are the kinds of road trips I’ve been on. I haven’t really been on that idealized, spur-of-the-moment cross-country trek with college friends. (I didn’t have many college friends, for a start.) My cross-country trips have only been with family, and these days we don’t have a lot of time for sight-seeing on the way there or back again, though sometimes we fit in a stop at a national park or two. A couple years back we stopped at the Grand Canyon, and this summer past we hit up Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks.

I should make clear that these trips have a singular destination – Los Angeles, California. Most of my extended family lives out there, in particular my elderly grandfather. The trips are mostly to see him,  but we fit in other fun stuff as well, like trips to Disneyland. When I was younger and my parents had more vacation time (or rather, the ability to take consecutive weeks of vacation), we went to other places, like Yellowstone National Park and Boston and Niagara Falls. But I’m okay with only going to L.A., because at least then I get to see my family, whom I don’t see often at all.  (Also Disneyland. I love Disneyland.)

But enough about destinations; this is about the journey. Sitting in a car is not the most exciting way to spend most of two days, but that’s how we do it. The latter half of the trip out is usually the most interesting, because the landscapes become breathtaking in New Mexico and Arizona. The first half… not so much. It’s mostly forests, farmland, and prarie, which is nothing to really write home about. Still, sometimes the sky gets big and beautiful, and I enjoy looking at it al the same.

I mentioned how boring sitting in a car can be. I manage to keep myself entertained, usually with books or else writing and video games. I’ve only recently acquired a tablet with which to watch movies, but I’m sure that’ll become a staple of my travel time soon enough. This most recent trip, though, I’ve found I’ve been sleeping a lot, which I don’t know whether to be happy or miffed about. I’m miffed because I could have been using that sleeping time to write or read or even, yes, watch movies. I’m happy, though, because I more usually have enormous trouble sleeping on these trips, so any shut-eye is fine with me.

All in all, I enjoy our yearly trips out to California. As boring as it is to be on the road for two days, there are perks. I get to see beautiful parts of these United States, parts I would probably never venture out to on my own. I spend some time mostly unplugged, able to do “offline” things I don’t always manage in my day-to-day life. It’s not a “traditional” road trip by any means, but it’s still a road trip to me.