Gorgeous Lilacs close up

There’s a few things you end up missing when you move everything and go live in another state. After moving from PA and living in TX for over a decade I still miss the spring flowers of the Northeastern US…

Thanks to Summer for sharing these pictures. She periodically posts more flower pictures on her Instagram (and cats, and life, and stuff).

I thought it would be nice to throw the pictures up here based on Instagram’s limitations. Especially since I’ve had “a day” and these are so pretty! <3

Please don’t share these pictures without giving credit to Summer via her Instagram.

Working on setup for my new Bullet Journal 

Every time I move to a new journal I make my journal a little more stream lined and I’ve learned a lot in the past journal. I think I started this October 2015 and this is my third journal. Since I’ve learned there are definitely some things better tracked long term or monthly instead of daily or weekly this journal might last longer too. 

Here’s my new one. 

Some things I’ve noticed. The elastic band closure for the notebook is wider and stronger. The paper isn’t exactly smooth but it’s very strong and sturdy. The book itself feels sturdy. I made sure to go thru and try to stress the spine evenly so the book won’t fall open to the same pages all the time. Can’t tell (yet) how to describe how it feels to write on. It handles the Faber Castell PITT artist pens well. The ghosting from the brush size pen is very obvious but not unpleasant enough to annoy me. I’ll have to check different colors of my uniball pens to see how the ghosting varies by color. 

I think I really like the grid lines. 

And the stickers came from Michaels. I bought them 50% off. Even though these are for the specific Create 365 brand of journals I think I can use most of these to add some variety to my bullet journal. 

I’ve been using a slip over the front cover pen/pocket holder thing but I might switch it to my doctor appointment tracking journal instead and keep my pens for my bullet journal in one of two other holders. The slip cover makes it difficult to write on the left side of the journal when there are pens in it which wouldn’t be an issue with my appointments tracking since I only write on the facing/right page. The green case will hold my ruler but the pens would knock around. The blue case holds pens or pencils more securely. 

They all have their own advantages and disadvantages. 

Goodbye Carrie Fisher

I grieve for what she didn’t get a chance to do. In the next few days we are going to get flooded with people talking about Carrie Fisher. She made such an impression, I can’t even imagine. I realized I’d like to search Google for some good pictures of Carrie Fisher so that led to a blog post! One of the reasons why I loved Episode VII: The Force Awakens so much is that Carrie Fisher came back to Hollywood, she wasn’t young or pretty or skinny enough. She just was. And the scene where GENERAL Leia hugs Rey? I’ve always seen it as them making a connection, immediately. Kind of the way Chewie and Rey seem to make a connection when they are in the cockpit of the Falcon together.

I know/knew of Carrie Fisher’s work/advocacy for mental illness and always meant to look into one of her books but somehow never did. Priorities? Being too busy? I’ll probably get one now. I’m glad to know that filming on Star Wars Episode VIII was finished before Carrie’s death. That’s something at least. I’m sure I’ll be a mess when we go see it in theaters next year.

Now I’ll just rely on pictures being “worth a 1000 words” and leave it at that. I know, there could be tons more pictures. The first picture is the most powerful because it bridges generations.

Life is intense: Another medical post

Earlier today I was hit with a realization, a moment of clarity if you will. I realized how much I have gone through in — less than a month — and actually had to sit down under the weight of it all. And that was only in terms of the doctor appointments, procedures, and tests I’ve had to deal with. It didn’t include fun things like brunch with a bunch of good friends or the wonders of FaceTime.

All within the last few weeks I’ve gone through multiple GI tests including an endoscopy, a multiple day “study” to check my stomach pH and see if I really am having acid reflux, and a gastric emptying study. All of these provided useful but slightly conflicting information. I have collected yet another diagnosis. I don’t want more diagnoses but it seems, lately anyways, that answers bring diagnoses.

Because of my (new) gastroparesis (a word that my browser does not recognize), I have to adjust my diet again. I have to relearn how to eat. In some ways I started to feel better rather quickly once I started adjusting my diet. However, there’s a pretty steep learning curve to relearning how to eat at the age of 34. There are now more foods I am supposed to avoid. Before this I had a very restricted diet because of my allergies and intolerances. Now, I can’t think about the restrictions or I want to scream.

But that’s not all. I also went through an EMG “of my upper extremities” which just means my arms had electrodes attached to muscle groups and then needles poked in those muscle groups. Thankfully my doctor who performed this test is very gentle. Then yesterday I spent five hours with a psychologist going through neuropsychology testing. Five hours. You cannot even imagine the level of brain dead I was by the time I got home. The testing was mentally exhausting and also depressing when I stopped to think about all the times I struggled or ran into a (metaphorical) brick wall. Then there was also the back and forth to my GP doctor’s office for an infection. Because when you’re sick all the time, getting “normal sick” is even more difficult. And thankfully the allergic reaction to that antibiotic was not anaphylaxis that landed me in the ER. (Been there, done that, already have the tshirt.)

Yesterday, I decided any time I have to fill in the “occupation” blank on a doctor’s forms I’m going to say “professional patient.” It’s exhausting keeping up with all my doctors, appointments, and keeping my own medical records up to date. I need to find a way to make this a job where I can also provide doctors with feedback of their office and procedures.

I’m scared that I’m going to still load more diagnoses on top of everything else but I’m trying very hard to stop myself from falling into that deadly cycle of thinking. I cannot get stuck thinking like that. Still though, I wonder what a “normal healthy” person would do if suddenly faced with the amount of doctors and appointments that I’ve been dealing with. Every appointment meant sitting (or standing or pacing) in a waiting room and having little control over a number of events. You think it’s bad to sit waiting for a doctor for 15 minutes? Fifteen minutes is actually good! You think it’s annoying to have to go to the doctor? Try having two different five hour tests in a two week time period.

Sometimes I wonder how I deal with it all. I know my friends help so very much. My cats and my husband help more than I can really fathom…. but I also spend a great deal of time alone. Anxiety and depression continue to be very real and scary problems for me. I have no idea when “things” will “calm down” again. At this point in 2015 I’m happy I haven’t been to the ER (yet) this year. I really hope I can find some kind of normal in the next few months. Normal is having nothing out of the ordinary (health wise) happening in at least 2-3 months. That means nothing that I don’t already have a plan for coping with.

I’ve finally stopped asking “Why me?” but now I find myself asking “Don’t I have enough already?” It’s intense and overwhelming and the average person probably cannot even begin to imagine let alone actually understand what it’s like to live as someone with chronic disease and chronic pain.

Asking the cards

I’m (again) having questions of identity. Americans like to base their identity on their job/career. I don’t have a job or career. I want to write in a way that lets me share my thoughts with other people. Ultimately I want to write a book. I want to publish said book. Maybe I want to write more than one book. But I’m pretty sure I don’t want to write a series. I want to write different books about different things.

Today a question popped in my head out of the blue – in a my subconscious must be working on this way – “How do you refind yourself?”

So, I stopped what I was doing and decided that was a good time to lay out the tarot cards.

The first card, the one to represent me? The fool. I was sort of amused to see it. Before I was finishing with laying out all the cards one of the cats came over and purred in my face too.

 

 

I guess, ultimately, you refind, or redefine yourself one day – one action – at a time.

Karl Marx

The government shutdown has left me debating re-reading Marx. So far, I’ve resisted this craziness through knitting and fiction. I think what causes this idea was Marx’s idea of the workers’ revolution.* I feel like the current state of affairs in the United States needs a workers’ revolution. Unfortunately, I think the workers are too busy working to raise their heads and really see what’s going on. Current events could effect** us for days, weeks, and months to come.

*I’d read something besides The Communist Manifesto. (That looks like an interesting copy though.)

**I’m really bad at using effect vs. affect. I need to work on that.

Writing and Unemployment

So far I’ve been unemployed for 2 weeks. I quit my job willingly for a number of reasons. I felt the economy was better and I was safe to start looking for a job that uses my masters degree – instead of being stuck in a two parts customer service one part technical support job that was sapping the time and energy needed to search for a job. The job I quit was slowly sucking my soul – also for a number of reasons. I’m not going to gripe about the job I no longer have because I’m not going to dwell on the past.

I haven’t started going crazy, yet. It probably helped that my first week of unemployment was spent recovering from a double vaccination. I got the flu vaccination and the pneumonia vaccination at the same time. My knitting has also helped me. I’ve finished two small projects in the last 2-3 weeks.

The federal government shutdown is also making me nervous. I’m hoping to find a job in nonprofit – which could be hampered by this shutdown of government funds. I’m hoping – illogically? – that this will be taken care of before the United States defaults and so it will not hurt the economy and job market too terribly much.

I’ve been searching for jobs on multiple sites almost daily. I’ve applied for lots of jobs too – not all of them in nonprofit. I finally got around to reading this blog post on freelance writing earlier this morning, which affirms that I need to get back to writing daily. My blog is an easy way to do that!

Unfortunately that means I need content – unless I’m going to use writing prompts. Writing prompts haven’t worked for me in the past, so that brings me back to needing content. Content, content, content.

This first post was easy, writing and unemployment! Come November, writing daily will be easy because of NaNoWriMo. No reason to wait until then to write though! Reading that blog post also reminded me of my (old) idea to review a TV show through a sociological lens. I’m thinking that might work better with a current show though. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. perhaps?

Finally, I’m debating paying for this. I think I’ll go ahead and disable comments on this post because I see it attracting a lot of SPAM. Also, why did I say also so much here?

Self-medication

I think I’ve finally found the right words to explain to the doctor why I’m not so great now. The fibromyalgia diagnosis coming at the same time as the realization that I’m über sensitive to caffeine was good but also badly timed. With my asthma/allergies, I was self medicating pain, allergies, inability to focus, and fatigue with enough allergy medicine to knock out a grown man, caffeine, OTC NSAIDs, and alcohol. This also makes me assume I’m having trouble applying the right words and getting people to understand me…. So I have a typed out page of explanation of things that are bothering me or otherwise causing me additional pain, which I will provide my doctor with on Monday when we go over why she failed (?) to fill out the FMLA paperwork correctly the first time.

The caffeine was making my heart do all kinds of crazy shit but helping with focus while also helping my lungs to resist the effects of almost daily NSAIDs. The allergy medicine was helping to make the caffeine trips not so roller coaster ride esque while probably also alleviating asthma symptoms. Finally the alcohol well helping me relax so I could sleep while also numbing the pain.

House of Cards

I’ll try to keep this spoiler free. We’re watching the fifth episode of this show and it is awesome. The characters are strong. The modernization of the story seems well done. People use their cell phones as a natural part of the show! The paper is losing readership. Twitter is recognized. Burner cell phones. I’m curious how the original story and characters were too. Like the owner of the paper. Wow.

Zoe is such a strong independent intelligent WOMAN. Kevin Spacey has done an excellent job. I’m a little amazed. More by the author whose work this is based on… Or something/someone else. I’m also curious to know how much money Netflix spent on House of Cards.

I hope this show causes enough of a buzz that Netflix does this again.

My knitting project box really should have a latch

Bad cell phone pictures ahead. Ignore the quality…and the laundry baskets.

So, I walked in the door this afternoon and was greeted by cats.

greeting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is quite normal, but there was also another sight. One of those things that every crafty person doesn’t want to come home or wake up to. One of those things every knitter doesn’t want to ever see. I took a deep breath so I could stop the mental string of OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG from even getting up full speed, pulled out my phone and started taking pictures. (Especially since I’d come home alone and my husband wasn’t around to see it.) ….So of course I follow the yarn! From the kitchen….

number 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then the living room where I found my dumped project box.

number 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The kittens probably charged through and knocked it over…and I think it ended up further into the middle of the floor last night after I put away the last thing I was knitting… Here I took mental note of what was missing/not missing. I was glad to see only 1 bit of yarn that was amiss. What’s up with cats and sock yarn? And fuzzy yarn? And moving yarn? And that thing in the bottom right corner of the picture? I think that’s a cat. But, you see, the yarn continues!

Two more pictures.

hallway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s like the cats are following me, laughing. Like I said, ignore the laundry baskets.

bed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See how the yarn is wrapped around the foot of the bed frame?

I ended up with little damage done. The yarn dragged about wasn’t an actual project, I had 8 stitches cast on 1 needle. I might have to trim the yarn off that one because it got frayed up quite a bit, but I have enough for my intended project. The sock yarn that was chewed on was actually the end of the yarn, not the middle of the ball! There are worse things to clean up.

Taxes & this WSJ graphic with the made up people

I find this horrible graphic so horrible I’ve decided to list the problems I have with it.

1. All the people are sad. If I was making six figures a year I would not be sad. Technically the clip art people don’t even need to be here. With out the illustrations there could be more data, which leads me to #2 on the list.

2. It’s misleading. Based on the mention of deductions they are actually referring to Adjusted Gross Income but just say Income.

3. Why is there race here? It’s not necessary. The single person appears to be vaguely Asian and the retired couple is Black. Was the Wall Street Journal afraid to make the single parent Black? Is that why she’s blonde?

4. The Wall Street Journal must sit in some kind of interesting niche as far as its readers go. On what did they base these examples? I seriously doubt the average family with two parents is going to have FOUR kids. In 2005, before the economy got even worse, $167,000 and up was the top 5% of household income distribution.

5. How did these pretend people make so much in investment income when the market is still so volatile? I have a very small amount of investments in stock as well as rather small IRA, I’ve seen both lose lots of money in the past 5 years, like a roller coaster.

6. The household median income in the U.S. from 2007 to 2011 was $52,762. This is not even in the same tax bracket as the lowest income pictured here ($180,000). Furthermore, from 2010 to 2011, income inequality increased. (page 10)

7. What percent of retired couples actually have income over $100,000, let alone at $180,000?

8. What about people in poverty? Doesn’t the Wall Street Journal think its readers should be informed? In 2011, that meant, officially, 46.2 million people were living in poverty. (page 13)

9. The Wall Street Journal caters to the top ten percent of our country, obviously a very specific class of people. In 2011, 9.1% of households in the country had income of $150,000 or higher. (page 31)

10. I have no interest in reading the Wall Street Journal even though I’m rather well educated with my bachelor of arts and masters of science. My education makes me one of the 28.2% with a bachelor’s degree or higher in this country – as of 2007-2011. I did graduate with my masters in 2011 and received my bachelors in 2009. Also, I researched these statistics in less than a hour while writing this post so it would definitely not be hard for an employee of the Wall Street Journal to find the same information. This is one of the powers of the Internet. Just one.

11. Finally, this entire graphic looks like it’s relying on scare tactics. “If these people are sad, what is it going to do to me?”

Why Whole Foods needs to train their employees on food allergies

or: Why Chopped Beef is Vague Terminology

other titles include:

“Why people with food allergies must always be vigilant of everything related to their food” or “why people who are supportive to people with (multiple) food allergies are awesome” or “Why my husband is my hero” or “Why grocery stores that supply prepared food need to be better about identifying all ingredients” or “Even the grocery store can be stressful when you have food allergies”

Ok. So. I’m going to talk about my food allergies, if you don’t care, stop reading, go up to the top of your browser and close the page, continue on with life.

My husband and I went to Whole Foods after work on the way home for some light grocery shopping. We do this often. We decided to get food at Whole Foods for dinner, this happens depending on what’s available. I got to what I’d call the “barbecue counter” if I was me – and I am – and found out they still had baked potatoes. So I ordered a baked potato with chopped beef. I also gathered up a small salad at the salad bar. My husband collected much of our other purchases because my foot was sore and throbbing. No one wants to walk all over the grocery store on a sore throbbing foot.

We get home, we’re putting away groceries, you know. Like you do. I explain to my husband what I purchased for dinner. A baked potato with chopped beef. He asked “Brisket?” No, I explained the beef with the sauce. Not brisket. I elaborated, pointing out how I thought all the meat at the barbecue counter was safe for me to eat. He said no, the chopped beef has Austin’s own barbecue sauce in it which has Worcestershire sauce in it. Worcestershire sauce commonly has fish in it so it’s off-limits for me.

Mentally I sigh and remind myself to be calm. Because I was tired and hungry and didn’t remember to bend over and check the very small print of the ingredients card I didn’t see that I shouldn’t have ordered the chopped beef which has the sauce in it. I was just happy to get a baked potato I guess?

So we debate and come up with options:

1. remove the beef and chance the potato, but the potato has also started soaking up the juices/sauces/etc so that’s not really a great option.

2. get something out of the pantry which would be canned soup or a cold sandwich or a noodle bowl like I had for lunch yesterday, none of these are all that fantastic either

3. just eating the salad is not a legitimate answer because it’d leave me hungry later

4. Call Whole Foods and try to get the ingredients

So phone number to Whole Foods found I call and ask to speak to someone at the barbecue counter. I get transferred. I explain I just purchased a potato with chopped beef and I’d like to know the ingredients of the chopped beef – not the brisket. I explain that by the words barbecue counter I mean hot food. I explain I just purchased it and want to know the ingredients. The girl puts me on hold. She comes back and says “Yes we still have some available.”  I’m thinking, “SERIOUSLY!?!?!? REALLY???” and just say Thanks and hang up. After I hang up I explain to my husband, “I give up, the conversation went from me asking what the ingredients are to yes they have some available.” He (rather calmly) asks for the phone and calls himself. He confirms the present of Austin Own’s barbecue sauce. So, because it’s 2013 I go look up Austin’s Own barbecue sauce on the Internet. They have a website. However they have no food allergy information and do not provide a transparent explanation of ingredients. (I filled out the Contact Us form asking that they post food allergy information on their website.)

Then my husband offers to go out to Jason’s Deli and get me a potato so I can still have a potato. I agree, because that sounds like a fabulous idea. I check the Jason’s Deli website and also ask that he order a cup of beef stew if it’s available since Jason’s Deli has all food allergy information (the major eight) as part of the nutritional information on their site.

So, because:

1. for a split second I wasn’t ever vigilant and missed one ingredients label

2. Austin Own’s doesn’t have a full ingredient list or food allergy information posted online

3. Whole Food’s employees seem to be mostly ignorant of food allergies (beyond other things like how to properly hold a knife when slicing meat)

4. chopped beef may or may not be beef with barbecue sauce

I got to send my husband back out into the cold so I could have a hot meal for dinner that didn’t come out of a can and I feel stupid. Ultimately I feel stupid because I forgot to read just one label. I’m so grateful he offered and was willing to go back out in the cold and get me dinner – before eating his own.

NaMoWriMo 2012: What I learned

Let’s keep this simple shall we? How about a list? In no particular order, what I learned from my first – successful – attempt at NaMoWriMo.

  1. When your background is research, theory, or policy papers in an academic setting, fiction is hard. Fiction means you use as many words as you want to. Describing is more nebulous than getting your point across in a clear fashion.
  2. I spend a lot of time watching tv shows or looking at random stuff on the Internet. I don’t have to do that.
  3. It is worthwhile to prioritize your free time.
  4. Somewhat self imposed deadlines are damned useful. Especially if you buy yourself a t-shirt when you meet the deadline! Or reward yourself with bright fuzzy yarn.
  5. Writing can be done, even when you’re exhausted and just want to go to bed.
  6. Writing can be done when you’re feeling like the world has been shitting on your head.
  7. Writing is fun. If you let it be fun.
  8. Just like everything else, you need to find the right tools for the job. (I <3 Scrivener.)
  9. I would like to write regularly. I don’t know if this should be blog posts, short stories, or another novel.
  10. 2000 words is a lot in one day when you have to go to the real job too.
  11. Just because you can use your own life, self, or close and personal friends for inspiration or basis for your story doesn’t mean you’ll like it when you’re done.
  12. My book didn’t turn out quite like I expected.
  13. I can write plot. (I didn’t say I could write plot well, I just didn’t think I could write plot before.)
  14. I don’t like writing chronologically or in any other kind of order. With the right tools I don’t have to.
  15. It’s really cool to say: “I finished writing a book today, what did you do?”
  16. Inspiration might come at interesting times. Other times inspiration might leave you crying in a corner, or wake you up at 7 am on a Saturday.
  17. I want to do this again.
  18. I can write while sick. It might not work well, but if words happen, does it really matter?
  19. The first draft is the first draft is the first draft, no matter what you’re writing about.
  20. I think if I wrote more regularly it would be easier to write more in a fixed period of time.
  21. When it’s fiction, do whatever the hell you want. Seriously. Make up shit! It’s ok!
  22. Editing has a time and place. When you’re trying to get the story out on paper? No editing. When you’re trying make it better? Editing is fabulous!
  23. If I spend a month doing a lot of writing, I will miss knitting.
  24. Some people will think writing for the sake if writing and not for the sake of sharing is crAzy.
  25. I should balance tv and reading out a little more. Sometimes my book felt like the plot to a tv show. Or maybe that’s just because it was a little cheesy and predictable and I should watch as much tv and read as much as I want?
  26. I couldn’t have completed NaMoWriMo 2012 without some support.
  27. Writing buddies are good when there’s a deadline.
  28. It’s ok to use random stuff or people in the Internet for inspiration.
  29. You do not need to name a character to continue writing about the character. You can name the character LATER.
  30. It’s a really cool feeling to be aware that hundreds and thousands more other people in the world are doing what you’re doing.
  31. The No excuses part was hard sometimes.
  32. It’s ok to add in silly stuff to pad your word count, or add one more to your list. After all, life has silly stuff too.

Learning Code or Trying

I’ve been trying to learn again. Turns out I’m happier when learning something. Regularly. Turns out I’d also rather learn something that is an applicable skill – as compared to theory.

There are plenty of useful and free sources on the Internet – you just need to filter out the crap. There’s plenty of crap. I was thinking I want to learn html/css/javascript. That applies directly to my current job (which I’m otherwise overqualified for.) Turns out html is easy unless you specifically have something to WRITE or DO. I don’t. For now I pick up html as I got. Learning some CSS would be useful – but I haven’t found a source yet. Javascript is a better thing for me to attempt learning – outside of work. I think. Or more specifically, learning the logic of how code works is a good place to start. Maybe after this I’ll see about learning R.

So I’ve been learning off of a site called Code Academy. It has badges and achievements. That automatically makes it fun, right? I’ve also been trying to work through the exercises in Learning Python the Hard Way. I haven’t had as much time and energy as I’d like to spend on the Python book. If you have interest in learning code I definitely recommend either of these sources.

Current Knitting or Knitting Soon

So far my allergies have been causing my knitting projects to be kind of all over the place… And life happening has meant today will be the first day this week where we will both be home before the sun is down.

I feel like I have some many things rattling around in my head and I just want to have a day of knitting, comic reading, netflix, and the couch. Maybe in 2 weeks?

Current projects:
1. Socks for me in green tea
2. Socks for me in disaster at the Drycleaners
3. Red shawl for my mom – no deadline
4. Askew in looks like rain – moves pretty quick
5. Fingerless gloves in purple that might work as a gift – attempting to improve on style I want
6. Racing stripe scarf for hub – by the time it’s cold?
7. Shiny rainbow shawl in different lines – unknown if will be a gift
8. Stripe study in blue/black – but I haven’t worked on this for so long and I’m not sure I did switching colors so well, tempted to frog it
9. Purple shawl in crazy yarn started for SIL, might need restarted, could be for Christmas

Planned
1. BSJ for coworker, their baby is due in September
2. More sock weight socks for me for slip on shoes
3. Worsted weight pair of socks for hub
4. Sweater top for me

On hold
1. Hat for me
2. Something else I think