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Posts Tagged ‘writing through my feelings’

I need a root canal. Deciding that the tooth pain was bad enough to warrant a dental appointment wasn’t super fun. Confirming that I needed a root canal – first at my dentist’s office, then at the endodontist – was agony. 

The dentist kept saying he was sorry for causing me pain, even though the whole point of the tests he was doing was to elicit pain. It was kind, but I have that reflex where I say, “that’s okay” or “it’s not that bad” in response to someone apologizing, which felt a) silly and b) untrue. 

The endodontist did not apologize; not in a sadist-y way; he was kind, but just sort of stood there watching me clutch at my jaw as tears leaked from my eyes. He also offered me an Advil. His tests – which were very similar to the ones my dentist had done, just 30 minutes earlier – elicited a MUCH higher pain response. One test – he put liquid nitrogen or something on a swab and swabbed my tooth – hurt so bad that I cried. And then I felt ridiculous for crying. I tried to comfort myself by thinking that I couldn’t be the ONLY person to ever cry in that office; that must be why the assistant had tissues at the ready for me to dry my tears.

My dentist thinks, based on how nervous I get for dental work, that I need some sort of extra medication. Either something like V@lium or @tivan prior to the appointment, or conscious sedation during the procedure. He said, kindly, “That’s what I would recommend for my wife; she gets nervous about dental work. But I’m just telling you the options – you don’t need it. I wouldn’t do it, myself. Dental work doesn’t bother me.” Which made me wonder: ARE there people who are unbothered by dental work??????? This was a wholly novel concept to me. I figured that there was a spectrum, of course, from moderately nervous to requiring sedation just for a simple cleaning. But I never once imagined that there exist human beings who don’t mind dental work. 

(As for my spot on the spectrum: I get nervous for a simple dental cleaning; I clench my hands into fists, my arms and legs are rigid the entire time, I have to do anti-anxiety breathing while I’m in the chair, waiting for the exam to begin. I did a LOT of focused breathing today, let me tell you. And then cried in my car all the way home.)

The thing is, for me to do any sort of pre-medication, I need someone to drive me to and from the appointment. And my husband is unlikely to be able to do that anytime in the near future, if at all. And I don’t know that I have any friends who I would feel comfortable asking. So I am feeling very sorry for myself indeed. I suppose there is always Uber, but I have never once used Uber so that’s another hurdle to surmount.

Part of the reason I cried in the car (aside from the lingering tooth pain following the swab) was that I felt so ridiculous about crying. The crying was bad enough on its own. But then I couldn’t stop crying. And even when I finally got the actual tears under control, I still had Wobbly Voice. Ugh. I couldn’t stop thinking of that awful anesthesiologist who commented on my ability to withstand pain when I was in labor. Maybe I have a very low pain threshold, and other people are going around dealing with similar or worse pain without being fazed one bit. And maybe everyone thinks I am a huge baby who is making a mountain out of a molar pain. And I am FORTY YEARS OLD for floss sake, why can I not just GET IT TOGETHER like the adult I supposedly am instead of acting like a whiny child? 

This is just the latest in a run of negative self-talk that I can’t seem to squash. It started with my writing and has since spilled over into every other aspect of my life. 

I am suspecting – and hoping – that it has at least something to do with the calendar: both the monthly calendar, which has spun right around to canker sores and chocolate cravings, and the annual calendar, which has turned once again to the anniversary of my friend’s death. Not to mention, we are now sliding down the dark slope of fewer hours of sunshine each day and facing the looming pressures of the holiday season. 

While I do my focused breathing and wait for the calendar to flip a few pages forward, if you have any advice for how you pull yourself out of this kind of self-talk tailspin, I would greatly appreciate it. For now, I have self-medicated with Trader Joe’s macaroni and cheese and some of my only-on-the-weekends good tea. And, of course, I am blabbering it all to you. (Thank you for listening.)

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Carla has begun third grade and by all reports, it is going swimmingly so far. While I miss having her sunshiny presence in the house, I have been eager to get my days back. I have writing to do and edits to make and housework to complete. 

But I haven’t quite been able to get my sea legs yet. I feel a little directionless, drifting on an ocean of possibility, but not finding anywhere to drop my metaphorical anchor. 

Part of my aimlessness, I think, is that the house is a mess. It’s cluttered with all the flotsam and jetsam a busy eight-year-old produces. So, I think, start there: clear the house of clutter and you’ll feel accomplished and free to sit down and work on all the other items on the to-do list. I did a first pass, pulling things off the walls (Carla’s long-abandoned reading tracker, an old poster from second grade, a few pictures she’d taped to her door) and wiping down the whiteboards that held our summer schedules and to-dos. I did a bunch of laundry and folded much of it. My husband, without being asked, went through the towering pile of mail that clings barnacle-like to the little sideboard near the garage door. 

Somehow, this did very little to free the house of its cluttery, oppressiveness. And even though I have settled in my writing chair, with a good idea about what to write, my brain feels unsettled and overcrowded. I keep thinking of things I could do that I don’t want to do: put the new fall schedule up on the whiteboards, finish folding the laundry, clean out the bucket that Carla filled with exploded water balloon fragments after last week’s playdate, tidy my desk or my bathroom, paint my toenails, take out the trash, get dinner started in the crockpot, finish unpacking the suitcases from our trip of two weeks ago, implement the edits I painstakingly made to my manuscript, exercise. 

I am fretting about a work thing, a family thing, a friend thing. The news is, once again, still, endlessly, terrible and disheartening. I am dreading Carla’s first soccer practice, during which I will surely be expected to talk to strangers. I keep trying to listen for the air conditioner, which decided to stop working yesterday for several hours, until our house was 82 degrees inside. (It came back on just in time for my husband to come home, ask why it was so hot inside, and then squint at me uncomprehendingly when I told him the air conditioner was broken.) I have a head cold, or a sinus infection, or something that makes me feel foggy and drippy and cranky all at once. I have a giant, inflamed mosquito bite smack in the middle of my forehead. Everything feels rumpled, troubled; ill-tempered waves lashing at me from all sides.

I think what I need to do is make an old-fashioned To Do List and start crossing things off. But the prospect of doing such a simple thing makes me feel limp with I don’t wanna. 

Surely you have felt adrift in this way before. What do you do to restart your engine and coax your ship forward, in any direction at all? 

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It’s a dreary, grey Sunday – the kind where the weather is obstinate and heavy but refuses to give into the relief of rain. Everything is Deeply Oppressively Gloomy. I feel like writing (actually, I feel like Avoiding Exercise), so let’s try some medicinal randomosity.

  • Speaking of medicinal remedies: I plan to make a batch of chocolate snickerdoodles with Carla at some point this afternoon. If the weather clears up, we will have a farewell “party” tomorrow with the three friends she’s been doing an afterschool activity with for the past couple of months. The weather has to clear up because the “party” involves pizza and cookies and will take place outdoors. The cookies will take place either way. 
  • One reason I feel so gloomy is that I am in a phase of poor sleep. I know it’s a phase. I have been in poor sleep phases before. And yet knowing it is a phase does not prevent me from being absolutely certain that I will never get a good night’s sleep again, that this is my life now, and I will live out the rest of my days feeling tired and groggy and cranky, craving carbs and thinking of nothing but strategies for finally breaking the poor sleep pattern that will surely fail.
  • I am not having trouble falling asleep, which is the issue that plagues me when I am stressed. Instead, I fall asleep just fine, but then either a) wake up five hours later as though that is an appropriate amount of time to sleep night after night (it is not) or b) wake up multiple times throughout the night, ensuring that I never get the deep restorative rest I need. The other night, I counted and I woke up eight times. Twice to pee and six times because my husband did something obnoxious like turning over or breathing.
  • My normal get-back-to-sleep strategies are failing me. Nonetheless, I doggedly keep at them. Maybe THIS is the night I will sleep. I keep trying to remember that lying in bed and resting has value, even if it is not as MUCH value as actual sleep. I also keep wishing that my husband – a real live doctor – would say, Wow, you should go see your doctor about this. He does not, which I think indicates that there’s nothing I can do about it except wait for the phase to end. 
  • Things I have tried: Sleeping in the guest room. Making my husband sleep in the guest room. Exercising in the morning. Exercising in the afternoon. Taking melatonin. Taking Benadryl. Eliminating screens for an hour before bed. Taking a warm shower before bed. Wearing socks to bed. Wearing squishy ear things in my ears (they have a name, but all I am coming up with is “ear phones” and that isn’t right; the lack of sleep is already setting in as mental decay). Eliminating soda. Eliminating alcohol. Not eating too close to bedtime. Cutting out all liquids at nine pm. Drinking warm herbal tea right before the nine pm cutoff. Doing soothing stretches right before bed. Going to bed early. Going to bed late. The only thing left to try is giving caffeine up entirely (I drink tea every morning), but I don’t wanna.
  • Okay, I am done talking about my sleep struggles now. 
  • If you are a fan of at-home exercise routines, I would like to recommend Lindsey of Nourish, Move, LoveI found a few of her exercise routines on YouTube, and enjoyed them. And then I found out she has free challenges on her site. I’ve been doing the April challenge, which has a great mix of routines. None of them is too long, and they require very little equipment – maybe a yoga mat or a chair or a set of hand weights if you have them. If you have no equipment, she recommends workarounds. She suggests variations you can do if you want low impact or higher impact, so I never feel like I have to push myself to do things my body can’t handle. I find her routines to be challenging but doable, and they make me sweat and they make my muscles sore and I always feel good when I’m done. And she seems like such a lovely person – she does the entire workout along with you, and makes “oh my gosh this is hard” faces and sweats and shouts motivational things at you. She doesn’t really talk at all about weight loss, at least not that I’ve noticed – she will mention eating a balanced diet once in a while, but really she’s all about feeling strong and powerful. I love that message. Sometimes she has other people join her for the routines, and sometimes she’ll invite advertisers to come work out with her. Like there is one exercise routine where she works out with a representative from the Minnesota Pork Board, or something like that, and I find that so charming – both that she would get a sponsorship from Big Pork and that they would send a representative to work out with her. And so she’ll mention pork a few times during the routine, about how it’s a lean protein that’s great for building healthy muscles. It’s very low pressure and I find it amusing and sort of sweet. Anyway, it’s all free and available on her website or on YouTube and if you want to switch up your at-home workouts, you might want to give her a try. 
  • I am still on the lookout for The Perfect Summer Dress. I have rejected every dress I’ve tried on. Once again, I’m confronted with the fact that I do not look good in a maxi dress. Apparently this is a lesson I am forced to learn annually, because it never sticks from year to year. I really WANT a maxi dress – they seem like they would be comfortable and cool and look cute with a denim jacket – but they are not for me. Really what I want is the T-shirt and jeans equivalent of a dress. But with a waistline. And the sad fact is that I am too lumpy for jersey, which is what most of those dresses are made of. So. The search continues. Lauren says my perfect dress is at Boden, so I am looking there.
  • Reading Lauren’s latest post reminds me that I need to get cracking on my seed starters. So far I have purchased the seeds and seed starter and moved a seed tray into my dining room. That FEELS like progress, but I am really no closer to growing pepper plants and sugar snap peas than I was before. 
  • In an effort to Treat Ourselves (and also treat me, by removing a large something from the freezer), we made schnecken for breakfast. My in-laws had sent us the schnecken some time ago but they ordered us an enormous quantity, so we had some left over. If you have not ever experienced schnecken, it is similar to a cinnamon roll… but with less cinnamon. It also has raisins, which I pick out. It tastes like eating cooked cinnamon roll dough made out of butter. A very decadent treat indeed.
  • Would you like a non-update on my housecleaner situation? As you may know if you read Swistle’s recent post on the topic, I have been eager to call my former housecleaner to see if she wants to return to cleaning our house. Now that I am fully vaccinated, and Carla is out of the house all day, IT IS TIME. After Swistle posted on the topic (and also sent me a very nice, reassuring email), and I read all of the lovely comments, I gathered my nerve and placed the call. She sounded genuinely happy to hear from me, which was such a relief; I had worried that she would be mad that we had discontinued her services (after paying her not to come for several months, it started to feel weird to keep doing so).  When I said, all in a rush, that I would love for her to come back now that my husband and I are vaccinated, I could HEAR the smile in her voice as she said, “I would LOVE to come back!” But of course, you know, it wasn’t as simple as all that. She has, understandably, taken other jobs. And I think she had just placed a new ad for her services. So she said she needed to check her schedule and get back to me. This was nearly a week ago and my confidence in that “I would LOVE to come back!” is now wavering. Also, when we spoke, she said “I think I still have your number” and I SHOULD HAVE said, “Oh, just in case you can’t find it, here it is” but I DIDN’T and so now I am fretting that she has no way to get in touch with me. Plus, I forgot to say that I would want to know EITHER WAY – even if she can’t work me into her schedule now, I would ask her to put me on a wait list for next time she needs to fill a spot. And also, I was so overwhelmed by making the call and talking with her after so many months that I completely forgot to mention that I’d prefer her to wear a mask. Well. There’s nothing I can do about any of it NOW. I suppose I could call back after a couple of weeks go by just to check in. I really REALLY do not want to find and vet and train another housecleaner, especially when my old one is so lovely and wonderful. 
  • Meanwhile, the house creeps further and further toward squalor. Some sort of mental switch flipped, I think, when I heard my housecleaner’s voice. And I just felt Done with housecleaning. Carla is doing her best to contribute, having renewed her interest in various toys with thousands of tiny parts/crafting projects that require her to pull multiple supplies out of the craft cupboard and strew them all over every available surface. My recent clothes buying craze hasn’t helped either; I have “to try on” and “to return” piles all over the place.
  • What are you watching right now? My husband and I just finished Bodyguard, which, in case you are operating under the same misapprehension, has nothing whatsoever to do with the 1992 movie The Bodyguard starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner. I got over my disappointment pretty quickly because it was a great series. It was very action packed and made me EXTREMELY stressed, though. Like, heart pounding, gripping my husband’s hand tightly kind of stress. So keep that in mind if you plan to give it a try. The lead – Richard Madden, of Game of Thrones fame – was fantastic, and should probably win an Emmy for his jaw-muscle acting alone. There was also some good hair acting in the last third of the series, but maybe we should award THAT Emmy to his hair styling team. Prior to Bodyguard, we finally watched Little Fires Everywhere, the TV adaptation of the best-selling Celeste Ng book. It starred Reese Witherspoon and Joshua Jackson and Kerry Washington and a whole host of child actors and it was excellent and thought provoking. I am telling you this as though I am not the last person in the universe to watch it. It was one of those rare TV shows that, to me, was even better than the book – but in a way that made the parts of the book I loved really shine… and in a way that made me appreciate the book anew. Reese Witherspoon is one hell of an actress, is one of my takeaways from the show. Also, Joshua Jackson is Full On Dad Mode in this series, which may be upsetting if you are accustomed to seeing him as a teen heartthrob; I never watched Dawson’s Creek so it didn’t bother me, but I could see how it MIGHT. Anyway: two great shows in a row, and now I am at a loss for what to watch next. 
  • Speaking of shows, the next season of Ted Lasscomes out July 23! I don’t know how the second season could possibly stand up to the quality of the first, but I am excited nonetheless. Have you watched the trailer? Ted Lasso (and Ted Lasso) was a real bright spot in the past year and I am really looking forward to having MORE Ted Lasso in my life.
  • Every single time I type “Ted Lasso” I type “Lasson” instead, and then have to erase the terminal N.
  • Earplugs. They’re called earplugs.

All right, Internet. Time for me to go make some cookies and then get through Leg Day. How are you on this, the final Sunday of April?

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I live in a part of the world where the sun rarely shines in the winter, and this winter is doing its level best to shift “rarely” to “NEVER.” Our local paper published an article in early January about how we hadn’t had any clear skies since NOVEMBER, and I think we’ve had only a day or two at best since then.

Yes, I see that sunshine coming up for the weekend. But I will bet anything that it means, like, 30 minutes of sun each day. Don’t get my hopes up, 10-day forecast.

The glimpses of sun are rare and fleeting and I never know how to properly address them. Do I interrupt whatever I’m doing to run outside in the snow and soak up the rays? I have been trying to go outside when the sun peeks out from behind the clouds, but it’s not always convenient and it is also cold, which means adding layers. And by the time I’ve gotten properly mummified the sun is doubtless hidden behind the relentless grey once again. (I do force Carla to go outside, sun or no. She has been doing a lot of work making snowballs and/or pulling ice sheets off our deck and stacking them on the lawn.) Carla and I have started doing an outdoor sport on weekends, together, which forces us both to be active AND outside, no matter what the sun is choosing to do, and that helps, but still: persistent gloom.

Why is it so hard to remember that, as with lack of sleep, lack of sunshine can cause its own dreariness and isn’t necessarily a reflection of How Things Actually Are? (Sheesh, my faulty shift button sure makes it difficult to use as much Emphasis Via Capitalization as I prefer.) Instead of remembering this – even if I just literally reminded myself of this phenomenon a sentence ago – I feel sunk in a gloom so heavy that it feels as though this is how it always was and always will be and I might as well let go and surrender to the abyss or move to Florida which is tied with abyss as far as my personal preferences go.

Even FOOD isn’t helping right now, so you know things are really grim. But we have to eat, yes? So let’s think about some delicious meals that might ignite at least some spark of light amid these unyielding clouds.

Dinners for the Week of January 26-February 1

  • Simple Salmon Bowls: Did we just have salmon bowls last week? Yes, we did. Do I care? No, apparently not.
  • Spicy Miso Chicken Katsu Ramen: When feeling gloomy, add spice.
  • Chicken Tinga TacosThis one makes me a little nervous because it calls for a can of fire-roasted tomatoes… I am not sure if I should blend them or if I should leave them out. Blending would keep the flavors in the dish, but it would make the tacos much saucier than they should be. But I’m wary of leaving them out entirely because they might be a key ingredient. Choices, choices. 
  • Slow Cooker Lemon Garlic Chicken with steamed broccoli

This “plan just a few meals” thing is freeing, in its way, but also kind of weird. That list above feels so unfinished, and I don’t like leaving loose ends. We also have some steak in the freezer and some bell peppers in the fridge, so a stir fry could be in the offing. We still have not eaten the asparagus, which seems perfectly content in its jars in the fridge. And I have some romaine in the crisper as well, just ready for some sort of salad to spring into being. Takeout is always an option, or there’s always the option of something hearty and mood-boosting, like spaghetti with meat sauce.

How are you staving off the gloom this week, Internet?

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My brain is doing that thing where it won’t settle on one thing for more than about 6 seconds before it leaps, hiccuping-jack-rabbit style to the next topic. So let’s have some randomosity, shall we?

  • I was supposed to post a Dinners This Week post yesterday and I DIDN’T because arbitrary blog-scheduling needs don’t rule my life. And also because I have nothing new on my meal plan for the week. Not that a) anyone cares or b) anyone but me would even notice that I am once again scheduling us for tacos and chicken fajitas.
  • We are, however, having ribs this weekend. I bought a three-pack of racks – a three-rack-pack, a rack three-pack – at Costco, and, if I could only organize my freezer, I plan to freeze two racks and make/serve one as a Labor Day treat this coming weekend. Do I have a recipe for this weekend’s ribs? Not yet.
  • Speaking of ribs, have I sung the praises of Pig of the Month yet? If not, I am severely in the wrong. I ordered a rack a billion years ago (May?) and they were heavenly. I got the sriracha BBQ flavor (they have a bunch of options) and the ribs were SO GOOD. They came in a package with dry ice and included re-heating instructions and they were everything I want ribs to be. Tender, not fatty. Substantial and meaty. Great sauce. Easy to re-heat. Free shipping. Plus, they cost about the same for what you’d pay at a restaurant. I promptly ordered some for my father for Father’s Day, and have another rack coming our way for a September surprise and ordered ANOTHER three-pack for my mother-in-law’s birthday present. They are so good. I don’t know why I didn’t order some to eat on Labor Day, instead of making my own like CHUMP, but here we are.
  • Labor Day usually marks our neighborhood block party. We got the typical block party flyer over the weekend with a big CANCELLED on it. But also, the fine print read, maybe some enterprising neighbors will be serving treats and booze beverages, to be enjoyed SAFELY, just in case you want to check it out. My main question is: Does anyone really think this can be managed safely? Because I sure as hell don’t. AND my neighbors are all, as far as I can tell after more than a decade of living here, super nice and consicientious and respectful of other people. But anytime you mix alcohol beverages and a bunch of people who either a) have been cooped up with their college-age children for five months or b) are college-age children once again living at home with their parents, probably involuntarily, I think safety is going to go right out the window in favor of getting lit having fun.
  • Because our house is down at the boring end of the block, I have been toying with the idea of making cupcakes and putting them, bake-sale-style, in individual containers, just so we can take part in the block party. I could put them on a card table at the end of our driveway and wave at people from my front porch. We’ll see. Carla, of course, would be the rate-limiting factor because I don’t think she’d be able to keep herself from visiting the neighbors’ dogs. So we will probably watch a movie inside our house, in the dark, so it doesn’t look like we are avoiding our neighbors.
  • School starts soon and I am having ALL the feelings. Any feeling you can imagine, I am having it in relation to school starting. Terror? Check. Guilt? Yes. Delight? Absolutely. Relief? In spades. Fatigue? All the time. Sad that I won’t be with Carla as often? Shocked by how sad I am. Excitement about all the alone time I will suddenly have? Yeppers. Certainty about how I will fill all those hours? Sure thing. Anxiety about whether Carla will be sad/stressed/anxious/able to wear a mask all day/able to interact normally with other humans? Of course. Nerves about potentially seeing other parents? Totes. Irritation that I will have to wear a Real Bra and Hard Pants in the car twice a day? You bet. Concern about whether I’m making the right choice in sending her to school? UH HUH. Pre-cranky at the parents who don’t think this is A Big Deal? Yessir. Deep, soul-shaking gratitude for the teachers and administrative staff at Carla’s school? Oh, yeah. Resignation about the eventual and possibly quick return to remote learning? Yup. Hunger for foods that will fill the aching hole all these warring emotions have eaten in my heart? Obviously.
  • Is hunger an emotion? Hmmm. These are the real, important questions we should be asking.
  • I had a pre-school meeting with Carla’s teacher on Monday. She is pretty much the loveliest person in the universe. She was so kind and attentive and reassuring. I feel deep, all-encompassing gratitude for her — and for the school that Carla attends. The kids don’t need to bring anything to school besides masks and a water bottle this year. Not even a backpack. (My backpack angst was completely unfounded.) I am glad they have a plan and they have everything Carla needs at school, but I am also sad that they won’t have even these completely frivolous trappings of normalcy. The teacher wanted to be clear that the first few weeks of school would really be focused on safety and community, and that academics might take a backseat for awhile. The kids have been out of school for so long, and their sense of normalcy is by now so warped, and their ability to interact with their peers has been so stunted/different, and the school itself has been so drastically reconfigured and adapted to our current circumstances, they will all need a – probably lengthy – period of adjustment. I didn’t cry during our conversation, but that is only because I was holding back my tears by gripping my chair arms so hard it left indentations in my wrists.
  • Let’s immediately move on to less emotionally roller-coastering topics. You know my go-to topic is food. Or shopping for food.
  • There should be a long-German-noun type word to describe the bone-deep exhaustion one feels after doing the grocery shopping during a pandemic. Saturday, I went to both the grocery store AND Costco, which was a mistake on all levels. But it had been two weeks, and we had eaten the very last morsel of vegetable matter for dinner Friday night (zucchini). We had two grape tomatoes to our name, procured earlier this week from the other store that does curbside pickup. We had half a plum leftover from Carla’s lunch. Surprisingly, we also had two heads of iceberg lettuce, because apparently I overbought at some point. (Yes, I recognize that iceberg lettuce technically counts as “vegetable matter” so we had not technically consumed ALL of it. But I put iceberg lettuce and zucchini in two very different food categories.)
  • When I was at the grocery store, I tried valiantly to buy only enough food for one week. Despite having done every-other-week shopping since March, I have never gotten very good at buying the correct amount of produce. Last week was the worst. I had to throw away an entire head of perfectly good broccoli, two zucchinis, and half a bag of sugar snap peas. I mean, they were no longer perfectly good; the broccoli was moldy and the zucchini had developed deep, soft pockmarks, and the ends of most of the snap peas were brown and liquified. Gross. It made me really sad and frustrated. Money and food, right in the garbage. I think what has happened is that I plan the meals two weeks in advance, and then, by the time I get to the day on which I need to eat the planned meal, I (or my husband, or Carla) no longer want to eat it. I am feeling more comfortable with going to the grocery store during a pandemic, and I feel, overall, pretty good about our grocery store’s safety practices. And the people who also shop at my grocery store seem to be pretty good about wearing masks and keeping their distance. (Well, they are not GREAT at the latter, but what can you do.) So I think I am ready to resume once-per-week shopping. And I can always go back to every-other-week if I feel less comfortable, or if our county’s infection rate begins to rise again.
  • This is all to say that I TRIED to shop for just a week’s worth of food. It was hard; I have now developed a pretty serious feast-or-famine perspective on shopping, so it was really hard to not buy zucchini for the first time all summer, even though I have planned nothing with zucchini as an ingredient for this week’s meals. I lingered over the grapes for awhile, even though I already had peaches AND plums AND apples AND blueberries in my cart. And I… well, I did buy another head of iceberg, just in case the two (2) icebergs we have at home go bad before I can use them. And THEN pork was on sale, in many forms. My husband has recently decided he is no longer a fan of chicken. I know Very Well what that’s like, so I am cutting back on meals that feature chicken. But since we are meat eaters in this household, I need to buy SOME sort of meat to fill in for all the chicken we used to eat. Instead of buying enough for what we are going to eat this week, I bought… more. Well. Pork freezes very well and we will eat it. It was a relief to see the final bill, which was much less than what I have been spending of a typical shopping trip. It was a bit more than half, though, but we shall blame that on the pork sale.
  • A friend and I are doing a Burpee Challenge together. That makes it sound like my friend had a choice; what really happened is that I told her, “I’m doing this, please please please do it with me” and then just expected her to agree. We completed an Ab Challenge together earlier this summer (which took me two tries, because I suffered from excruciating back pain after Week 1 of the first try and had to take a three-week hiatus), and when I came across a PopSugar article about someone who did 50 burpees for 30 days, I knew that was the next thing to try. Sometimes I like to torture myself with physical challenges I am in no way fit enough to complete, just to see how much pain I can inflict on myself. Or endure. I don’t know. Let’s not delve too deeply into the psychology of the thing. I don’t know if my friend is, in fact, doing 50 burpees a day or if she is just going about her normal life, enjoying walking around without searing shoulder and wrist pain, but even the prospect that she might be doing 50 burpees a day is enough to keep me accountable. Well, except that I have already skipped a day. Whatever. I will make it up on the other end.
  • It is safe to say that my forties are LOOMING in front of me and I am dealing with it by being Very Concerned about my physical fitness level. (Not good.) I am achey ALL the time. Just sitting here typing, I have a headache (from neck/shoulder tension), my hand hurts (too much Toy Blast on my phone), my wrists ache (burpees), and my left knee aches (walking). I know that aches and pains are associated with age, but… this can’t just be How It Is from now on, can it? CAN IT? (If the answer is yes, then… can it. I don’t need the truth, I need HOPE.)
  • Speaking of forties: My husband is turning 40 in a few weeks and I want to do something special for him. Any ideas????? Based on knowing nothing about my husband aside from the fact he is a doctor and can apparently put up with my shenanigans for at least 19 years???? He wants a new desk for his home office, so we will get that for him – but it’s more than I can afford myself, so it doesn’t really feel like it’s coming from me. But he is notoriously difficult to buy presents for and I am also a TERRIBLE gift giver, so I am FLOUNDERING. He doesn’t want any sort of party and we aren’t going to restaurants and as much as I’d love to have an actual date with him, we have no family in the area and are not ready to try having a babysitter come into our home. I feel like I can’t just buy him another puzzle for his FORTIETH BIRTHDAY. Right? HELP?
  • STILL speaking of forties, I think I am finally nearing the point at which I want to try coloring my hair at home. My hair is now the color Streaked With Grey and I am not loving it. Instagram keeps serving me ads for Madison Reed, and a friend of mine just used that very company to color her own hair and it looks GREAT, so I am edging closer and closer to the DIY dye cliff.
  • Here is a satisfying follow-up to my satisfying shoe project: I had called my local DSW last week, to see if they did, in fact, accept donations. The very lovely woman I spoke to said that I could donate one pair of shoes per week for 50 (I think???) points (for what????) and was very confused when I asked if I could donate multiple shoes, and then, as a follow up, if I didn’t actually care about the points, could I then donate multiple pairs of shoes? She had warmed to me considerably by then, and told me that sure, I could donate a big bag of shoes! And yes, the donation center was right inside the door. So on Saturday, I drove to DSW, hauled my bag of shoes out of my car, pulled on my mask, and marched inside. The donation box WAS right inside the door. I was a little leery because the other donations were single shoe boxes with nearly-perfect-condition shoes in them. My shoes are in good condition, but they have been WORN. Well. I did not let it deter me. I put my giant bag of eight pairs of shoes into the donation bin and LEFT.

Should we end on that very random but surprisingly positive note? Yes, I think we shall.

What’s going on with you, Internet?

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(Content warning: death)

It’s hard to get back into writing when you’ve stopped abruptly. Harder so when you don’t feel like writing. Or when you try to write but only one thing comes out on the page. Well, writing is a muscle, like anything. So let’s exercise it. And, in doing so, hopefully exorcise the sadness that is blocking the words from flowing.

  • My friend died a few weeks ago. There’s no way to soften that statement or the impact it has. We were friends for twenty years and now she’s gone. I was able to fly to her state for her funeral, and I’m very glad my husband’s schedule enabled him to take Carla to school and pick her up and that we had plenty of airline points and that my life is flexible enough to allow for it. I got to hug her parents and sibling and see a couple of friends we had in common and grieve in a space filled with other people who truly understood my feelings and knew exactly what I’d lost. I got to say goodbye. I am very lucky she was my friend.
  • I’ve been spending a lot of time being mopey and tearful and engaging in very trite philosophizing about death and what it means to die, what it means to be left behind. Hard as it is to believe, there is something worse, though, than college-freshman-level meditations on the finality of death. My thoughts turn, of their own volition – believe me, I try to reroute them – to my own death, the death of my parents, the death of my husband, and the death of my child. The same creativity I depend on to write actual fiction is now eagerly developing detailed and gruesome ends for those near and dear to me, and my melodramatic brain is DISTRAUGHT at these entirely imaginary scenarios. It’s been delightful a) living inside my brain and b) living with me, I’m sure, although my husband has been very kind.
  • Carla has that particular first-grade pragmatism around the subject and she has been curious and sympathetic, both announcing to random people at unexpected moments that “mommy’s friend died” and asking me multiple questions about death, burial, cremation, etc. It’s been helpful to me, in that it reminds me that death is a fact. It happens to us all. There’s no reason we can’t have frank, matter-of-fact discussions about it.
  • I’ve never wanted to be buried. I’d much rather be turned into a tree when I depart this mortal coil. It’s good for the environment and it offers a nice shady spot for my loved ones to visit should they feel the need. Obviously, everyone has their own preferences, and each option has (I’m sure) benefits and disadvantages. We’re lucky we live in a time that allows for so much customization of the death ritual. I don’t think I’d want a wake, for instance – although I can definitely understand why it’s so important for many people. It was helpful for me to see my friend’s body, to say goodbye in person, but also to see that she wasn’t there anymore; the life force that made her her had so clearly left her corporeal self behind, and that was important for me to experience. It was also nice (“nice”) to have a space for talking and remembering and hugging that was separate from the somberness of the actual funeral. Maybe I am talking myself into a wake. Although perhaps wakes are more of a religious tradition than a funerary one; I’ve only been to two in my life and both of the deceased were Catholic. When my husband’s grandmother died, we sat Shiva with his relatives; this had the same feel as my friend’s wake, but there was no open casket. I’m guessing other religions have their own versions, and maybe there’s a non-religious option I can ascribe to. I know I can look this stuff up but I’m not at the actual planning stage; more still in the sad musing stage.
  • Another choice that I can understand going either way: I really want a program at my funeral/memorial service. As at a wedding, I think it’s helpful to the attendees to have something they can hold in their hands, something to distract them should the homily go too long or should they feel grief overwhelming them, something that lays out the details of the readings and the songs and the people presenting them and sheds additional light on the deceased and her life/loves/preferences. I can see how difficult that could be for the living, though, to have to prepare such a document in a time of staggering sadness; another reminder that it is helpful for the living if we plan for our deaths in advance.
  • I’ve also been contemplating friendship a lot lately. I don’t make friends easily and I have a very strong sense of boundaries, so I have only a handful of people I feel very very close to. My husband, mhigh-school best friend, my college best friend, my grad school best friend, and two or three others that don’t fall into quite such neat categories. All of them, with the exception of my husband, live in different states (from me and from each other!). Some of them, I haven’t seen for years. My friend who died (the college best friend) – I was fortunate enough to see her the summer before last; previously, we’d gotten together for lunch about a year before; prior to that, I hadn’t seen her since my wedding, in 2008. In the interim separations, we kept up via one- to two-hour-long phone calls every month or so, during which we downloaded everything that needed catching up on. (It was never enough time to truly hear everything.) This is true of my other close friends as well. We’re so far away that our friendship survives almost entirely via phone or email. It works for us, but I am feeling some urgency about getting in more regular face time with these dear people. And, as I’ve posted before, sometimes there are ebbs and flows of relationships – especially, perhaps, those that don’t have the benefit of frequent in-person encounters. I’m feeling more panicky about that, too. There’s so little time we have on this planet. It’s so precious. Why aren’t we sharing more of our lives with each other, more often? Should I be FORCING my long-distance friends into increased interaction? Should I be ramping up my search for an In Town best friend? Should I be insisting that we find a way to see each other, cost and vacation time and family priorities be damned?
  • To get out of my mire of sadness, I’ve been: Exercising  – there’s nothing like panting in a room full of women all working on their plank form to keep your mind off death (the cooldown at the end, where we lie in corpse pose and let our minds free-flow, not so much). I’ve been avoiding the news if I can help it; it’s all terrible anyway but the pull of the awfulness is stronger than usual. I’ve been trying to spend more time outdoors, because my city is glorious at this time of year; the leaves are changing and the sky is brilliant blue and you can wear the sunshine like an extra layer of clothing against the chill that has infused the air. I put up the Halloween decorations, which I enjoy almost as much as decorating for Christmas. And I’ve been especially busy with appointments and housework and Carla’s school activities and watching football, which helps to redirect my feelings from panic about loss and the everyone’s inevitable demise to panic about being over-scheduled.
  • Writing about my friend helps. She was a remarkable person, and if I weren’t so determined to maintain a semblance of anonymity here on this blog, I would write more about her because you would find her inspiring; everyone who knew about her felt that way. But I will stick to writing about my feelings. Thank you for reading, even if it’s not the light and fluffy absurdity-tinged day-to-day ridiculousness you normally expect from this site.
  • I’ve also been overdoing it on the comfort food and comfort wine. So I’ve been weaning myself off of that and am back to weekends-only wine and planning healthful meals. I think I will even have enough energy to do this week’s meal-planning post, which I have skipped for a couple of weeks now. I am slowly getting back to normal. Or, slowly building a new normal – one in which my friend can no longer participate outside of my memories. It’s not easy. I will continue to take it one day at a time.

Tell me something cheering or distracting, please, internet.

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