Wednesday, April 06, 2016
When I revived the blog I said I was doing it because there were things that needed to be written. That remains true. Writing has always been cathartic for me, it was a way to get the swirling thoughts out of my head in a way that made me process emotions, ideas, aspirations, fears, anger, etc. Everything that happened last year should have been accompanied by heavy bouts of writing but I was so out of habit, not just with blogging, but with actual writing that I didn’t do it. As a consequence, all of these words continue to live in my head.
The problem is, I don’t want this to be the cancer blog. I don’t want to have entry after entry of just depressing content. Because, that’s the thing about writing in public, isn’t it? It isn’t just a therapeutic exercise. It’s the creation of “content”; the understanding that the words, once given life outside of myself, are going to be processed by others and that changes things. This isn’t a bad thing, this isn’t a condemnation of living our lives, part of our lives, in public spaces. It’s just a layer. How much that matters is up to each of us.
As I chafe against having every entry be about the cancer, and, hell, if I’m honest the cancer isn’t what I think about or cry over on still a very regular basis. It’s the infertility, stupid. That’s the root of the sadness. So, because I don’t want this to be entry after entry about how that has affected me, I don’t write. I don’t write despite knowing I need to write.
So, for now, I’ll just do a bit of a brain dump:
- Thing one: I finished A Tale of Two Cities. I had a hard time finding a groove because of the style of writing. The story itself I enjoyed very much so I know I’ll go back and reread it at some point. I also greatly enjoyed having the chance to discuss the book with someone; so the mini-bookclub was a success in that regard. I realized that while I was aware of the famous first line (It was the best of times…) I wasn’t attributing another famous line to this story. When I read the last line (It is a far, far better thing that I do…) I gasped and thought, “Oh! That is from this book?!?” I know know exactly why I find that note worthy and yet I do. Next up for the mini-bookclub is Atlas Shrugged. It’s one of those books that people reference a lot (especially lately) but that I can’t speak to having never read it. From the little I know about the book the reading and discussion should be interesting.
I am so close to being done with the cross stitch project that I intend to give to my mother on Mother’s Day. I’m generally happy with the way it’s come out. It has been a few years since I worked on a project this big (it’s an 8x11 cross stitch) so it’s given me ample time to become aware of the short cuts I take. I imagine that may improve if I stick with the plan of stitching on a more regular basis. Though I don’t want to impose such a tight deadline on myself for anything else. Getting this done for May has meant putting aside other activities and that’s definitely not a sustainable way to live my life.
Hmm. I thought I had a third thing but maybe the beginning of this entry was thing number one. This will do for now.
Sunday, March 27, 2016
After reading a blog post on Bookriot about reading rules I started thinking about mine.
- Never dog ear a book. I tend to not use bookmarks and if I do, it’s something thin, like a receipt or even a square of tissue.
- Related to the above, if the book is new, I endeavor to not break the spine. For quick reads, it appeals to me to be done with a book and still have it look good as new.
- That said, if a book requires thought and time to finish and understand, having it gently show wear also appeals to me.
- I like to have more than one book going at the same time. They have to be of different topics so it’s easy to keep track of each book’s progress. I move between books as the moods strikes but inevitably one book will rise above the rest and compel me to devote my time to only it. I let the stories tell me how to read.
- I’ve tried to get into reading books on the Kindle but I find that I still prefer reading paper books best. Although I’ve been reading A Tale of Two Cities on the Kindle, progress is so slow. I blame the ability to be distracted so easily. No matter how engrossed I think I am in a story, when I hear a ding or feel the buzz of the phone in my hand, I am pulled away to check emails or make a move on a game. I wish I were better able to ignore the notifications but that seems to only happen when I’m holding a paper book in my hands.
- If it’s a series, I have to read the books in order.
- I try to end at a chapter but that’s sometimes difficult if I’ve read long into the night and have to admit that sleep is more necessary than getting to the end of a chapter.
- At some point in a story, I find the need to know the ending. I don’t fight this; sometimes all I need to do is read the last page, sometimes it’s the last chapter. Only once has this actually ruined a book for me. Knowing how a book ends detracts not one bit from wanting to know how it got to that ending.
- No marginalia on quick reads. But I do make rare exceptions on school books, history/philosophy books, etc. Basically any books that I a) intend on keeping and b) require significant thought to understand.
- Unless I am sure that I will be reading the book multiple times, I gift/donate the book so that others can enjoy it.
I think those cover my rules. Though it does feel as if I’m missing something. I’ll add to it if I remember anything. So, the question now is, do you have any reading rules?
Friday, March 11, 2016
For as long as I can remember, I’ve experienced sharp, lucid dreams; dreams in which I am aware that I am dreaming. In doing some reading about this, I’ve read that some people have reached the point where they can direct the dreams. I’ve never tried to accomplish this. One, because I’m not sure how one would go about doing that. Two, while they happen often enough, they don’t happen so often that this is top of mind for me.
Some of the dreams can be fun. There was the one where I was a superhero and was kicking badguy ass left and right. I had a super cute superhero suit and super speed. The part of me that was aware that I was dreaming thought, “Cool. It’s like my own little comic book movie!”
While other dreams are emotionally intense and leave me quite disoriented upon waking. Like the dream within dream where my dream baby died. I remember thinking, while dreaming, that it was an awful dream and I wanted very much to be able to wake up so I tried to do that. I woke up relieved that the awful dream was done and that my baby was well. The part of my brain that knew all of this was just a giant mind game knew things were still not right. So when I finally woke up from this multi layered brainscape I had to work hard at understanding my reality. “Wait. Do I have a baby? Is my baby dead? No, right. I don’t have a baby. Thank god that was a dream.”
There I lay in bed, both relieved and sad that I had no baby to lose but still wishing my life wasn’t child-less. Can I tell you how hard it is to process that many feelings and sense of confusion so early in the morning and still get up with some energy to get to work? I probably don’t have to tell you. You can probably guess.
I was told I had cancer on a Friday morning, as I’ve previously shared. Friday, January 22nd to be exact. And from that day on, for about two months, I woke up every day with the feeling that that call had been a dream. All of the fear, the tears, the confusion, the anger, the grief; it all seemed surreal. So surreal that I was certain at any moment I would wake up thinking, “My god. That was the most detailed dream I’ve ever had!”
Each day there was the waking up with the confusion and the slight hope that this horrible thing would magically go away. Each day I was forced to accept that this was my life now. It’s gotten better; I don’t wake up every day believing the cancer was a dream but it would be a lie to say that, even a year out and with a clean bill of health, I don’t sometimes wonder when I’m going to wake up and be able to put this nightmare behind me.
Sunday, March 06, 2016
I turned 43 yesterday. For as long as I can remember, I have enjoyed my birthdays. Even when I didn’t have anything planned and spent the day alone which made me a bit sad, I still managed to feel generally happy about the day. This year there was no anticipation, there was no joy, just sadness.
It’s a strange place to be in to have to feel grateful that the fertility assessments were the things that made it possible to catch the endometrial cancer. There’s no way to know if I’d feel any less sad, any less lost and grief stricken if a regular doctor’s visit had caught the abnormal results. I just know that I spent a long time thinking that maybe this year would be the year that I’d have a baby or be trying for a baby. Instead, I’m just one year older, infertile, and living under a cloud of sadness. Which isn’t to say there aren’t good moments. Oh, there are. Thankfully a good many of them. Underneath those moments, however, are always the undercurrent of grief, sadness, and this vague sensation of being without purpose.
But, I’m still here, right? I’m a few months away from paying off a ridiculous amount of debt I’d racked up in the last decade and by this time next year I expect to be living on my own again. In the summer or early fall I’ll make appointments with the appropriate people and start exploring my adoption options so that too is something to be hopeful for. So there are things to look forward to. I just have to keep reminding myself of that and things will be - if not fine - at least okay.
Friday, February 26, 2016
I have memories of being an avid reader so despite the fact that my reading levels have gone down steadily for several years now, I still think of myself as being an avid reader. I still love books. I still collect them despite putting myself on a book buying ban back in 2007. It was necessary, really. It wasn’t uncommon for me to buy a dozen books a month and simply put them on the shelf, to be read later. As a consequence, I’ve built a nice diverse personal library. This I consider an accomplishment and it pains me that the bulk of my books have been in storage for three years. I yearn for the day when I am once again surrounded by my books.
When I moved in with friends and was once again living in limited space I carefully chose 30-40 books that I swore would tide me over until I would be on my own again and reunited with my library. Of course, the bulk of those 30-40 books have gone unread as I’ve purchased more books. Due to the limited living quarters, however, I have delved deeper into the e-book market (though I don’t much like it. I do it simply for the convenience. A convenience that I actually dislike and resent so go figure.)
I lost the point of the post immediately after the first two sentences, I believe so let’s get back to it. Despite believing myself to be an avid reader, my reading levels have gone down. So, to do something about it, I convinced a friend to read A Tale of Two Cities with me. Believing that if I had a deadline and a promise of a book discussion I would be more dedicated to the reading.
This would have been, I still contend, a solid plan had I not decided to work on a cross stitching project for Mother’s Day.
As quick background, during the last two trips to El Salvador, I have completed a small, quick cross stitching project for a favored aunt. My mother, while appreciating that I am doing something nice for someone she cares for, has also expressed mild jealousy over the fact that I’ve never done something similar for her.
Still riding the nice mellow high of completing a project, making something pretty that someone really enjoyed, when we came back from our vacation this January, I had the brilliant though of starting a new project and why not kill two birds with one stone and make something for my mother in time for the May observance. But what to stitch for her, I wondered.
I quickly considered and rejected various themes and then I realized something religious would do the trick. Thankfully, Amazon came to the rescue with a cross stitch kit of Our Lady of Guadalupe who she has tremendous appreciation of. Perfect! I though, she’s going to love this. Or so the theory goes and I certainly hope I’m right or I’m going to be ridiculously disappointed.
So what does one have to do with the other you ask? Or maybe you’re not asking and you know exactly where I’m going with this.
The 8.5x11 cross stitch work has been taking up the bulk of my time and, honestly, also my interest. While I have started the book, I’m no where near close to being finished with it and the book discussion is this coming Monday. Trouble! I’m going to have to focus on the book over the weekend, a fact that leaves me wishing I didn’t have to because I want to really only focus on the cross stitch. Leading me to the title of the post, at first I found myself thinking, I wish I had more hours in the day so I could focus on different things, the reality of it is that I would probably still only focus those hours on the cross stitch project. I’m that obsessed with it right now. This is a good thing however. Because I’ve made great progress on it and I have no doubt that I’ll finish it way before the May deadline.
Because I’ve enjoyed working on this so much I’ve been thinking I should get back into the habit of doing one or two projects a year but if I do that, I’m going to need to figure out how to balance out the work because I can’t continue to ignore other things (such as focusing on exercise, reading, photography) simply to churn out cross stitching projects.
Wednesday, February 24, 2016
I saw the above a day or so after I wrote a lengthy post that I ultimately set to Draft status because it felt scattered but also slightly too personal. This is something I’ve always struggled with - trying to find the balance between writing what I’m feeling, what’s going on in my life and wanting to make it somewhat interesting for the few people who stop by to read my blatherings.
The quote is a good reminder that if I’m going to do this well (well being subjective, clearly) then I have to work through those feelings of discomfort and just accept that writing about some things is just going to feel scary.
Sunday, February 14, 2016
This will be a running list of tips, tricks I might use to tinker with the site.
Part of the joy of blogging for me was always about being able to tinker with the site, the behind the scenes stuff that makes things run smoothly. When I said I would start blogging again I determined that I would put up a bare bones site so that I could focus on the writing. That decision was based on my need to not use the technical aspects to procrastinate further. The fact that I haven’t had a personal computer since March of 2015 helped with that decision. It’s hard to try and be geeky when I no longer have all the applications that I used to use to play around and experiment.
Thankfully I discovered that I had installed a more up to date version of Expression Engine (which I use to power the site) on the server at some point before the Macbook died. I could have used the old version, of course, but it’s buggy and I decided I’d start with a clean slate. At some point I’ll see about importing some old entries but I doubt I’ll bring back every single entry. That’s a decision for another day, however.
By mid-January I’d coded the templates for the home page and individual entry pages but left the archives template for another day. Mostly because I couldn’t quite remember how to get it done. In the last week not having that set up has been bugging me. So, last night, around 9:30 p.m. I opened up the dashboard, opened up the help documents and started tinkering. Five hours later, I’m finally finished (for now). I’ve been aware of the late hour for several hours now but I was enjoying myself - despite the frustrations I encountered. I am geeky enough to install a content management system, figure out how futz around with the code, but I’m not geeky enough for all of that to not be work.
Still, this has me thinking that I really need to figure out when I’ll be able to afford a new computer so that I can really spend time getting this place looking and working like I want. For now, it’s way past my bedtime.
Friday, February 12, 2016
Years ago I had to park my car on the street for a good stretch of time. You’d think that that would have made me an even better parallel parker but it did not. Unless I could easily steer my car into the spot I would bypass it and go in search of something that wouldn’t cause me to have visions of bumping into all the cars ever made. Sometimes I ended up far away from home but that was preferable to struggling to park the car.
I saw nothing wrong with this habit. My father, however, did. On the way back home from lunch one day we drove past a spot he deemed perfectly acceptable. “No way I can get my car in there,” I said and drove on. We circled back around a few minutes later and the spot was still there. “Park there,” he said. “I can’t,” I replied and drove past it.
You’re smart cookies so I know you know I ended up circling back around and of course the spot was still there. Are you getting the picture of how tight this spot was? With obviously very limited parking in the neighborhood this spot had been left empty for a good while. “Park there,” he said. “I-”
He interrupted with, “You’re parking here.” The tone of his voice made it quite clear that despite my 30-some years he was pulling the dad card.
It took a lot of inching back and forth and a lot of careful watching as he guided me into the spot but I managed to wedge it in there.
“See,” he said, “it wasn’t that hard and now you know you can do it.”
Now that I have a car again and am back to having to parallel park the car in the city, boy, am I ever so grateful that my dad took the time to force me to improve my driving. That lesson comes in handy often.
Thursday, February 11, 2016
How is it that it’s been fifteen years since I discovered blogs and decided to start one and I’ve not quite figured out what should go here exactly? I distinctly remember pondering this question fifteen years ago; especially on the days when I was posting multiple times a day. What matters? What is interesting? What will I want to remember? Asking those questions curbed the many many posts about the day to day that is my life. But it also sometimes stalled me.
There’s also the added fact that we don’t always know what’s going to matter, do we? A random phone call or message easily forgotten in the moment can, after a time, take on more meaning. “Oh, if I’d known that was the last conversation I was going to have, I would have done it better-” Or, hell, sometimes angrier is the way to go. In this case I’m thinking specifically about a conversation I had on April 11 of last year. That call deserved some angry words. Not mean words, mind you, but a better, stronger articulation of my disappointment and emotions. But that’s a story for another day.
Enough rambling. (Why, hello, 2001! Didn’t think I’d see you again.) This really was just a poor way of saying, I know this space is here and I know I want to use it better. I’m just trying to figure out what better means. I’m open to suggestions.
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