Random Thoughts of a Disordered Mind


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Life in the Slow Lane

12108756_10208073611423764_1885628941810349569_n (1)Four months ago today I arrived in Texas after a 1,658 mile drive from Connecticut. My sister-in-law flew up to share the drive and Tessie was good as gold on the trip. We stayed in pet-friendly hotels but didn’t make reservations except for the first day, since that gave us more flexibility depending on road and traffic conditions.

Our route took us through the Poconos and down through Scranton, PA and continuing down through the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, just a short drive from my former home in Charlottesville. We skimmed through Tennessee and cut across Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana into Texas, completing the drive in 3.5 days. My furniture arrived within 24 hours, much to my shock and delight.

The past months have been nesting time. Figuring out where things go and what things we don’t need. My pre-move cleanout made the move cheaper than estimated and also meant fewer items to find homes for in my new house. We ended up taking quite a lot of kitchen things and books to Goodwill, including my dad’s 40-year-old stereo system that took up way too many shelves in the bookcases. I replaced it with a new Bose system with CD-player. We’re loving our Amazon Echo in the kitchen and listen to NPR and music over meals.

Dad and I joined the local community church and I’m singing in the choir, which is like breathing for me.  I’ve also been taking Mah Jongg lessons and am starting to play regularly. It’s a strange game but an important social activity here so I’m meeting lots of people.  And the parties! I’ve been to more parties in the last 3 months than in the past 10 years!

It’s been a big adjustment to go from living solo (plus Tessie) to sharing a house, meals, errands, etc. with my dad. We’re figuring things out as we go and the space is large enough that we’re not falling over each other, especially now that we have a second TV in the den. He watches Fox News in one room and I watch anything else in the other!

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Thanksgiving 2015

 

 

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Requiem for a Nativity Set

Spanish nativity setIn 1974 I came home from my semester in Madrid with a nativity set, or nacimiento as they are called in Spain.  I first bought a “starter set” of Mary, Joseph and little baby Jesus (on a white fuzzy cloth) plus an angel to hang overhead, a donkey and a cow.  As the weeks passed and we got closer to Christmas, I added a set of 3 kings on camels (with camel drivers in matching garb), several shepherds and a few fuzzy sheep.  I used some of my last pesetas buying a stable in the Plaza Mayor the day before my flight home.

Every year for 36 years I’ve set up my nacimiento, carefully placing the figures in appropriate relationship to each other.  The donkey is behind Mary, the cow behind Joseph to her right, and baby Jesus on the ground between them (my stable didn’t have any managers; it was a cheap model).  The angel hung from a sewing pin stuck in the stable.  The shepherds and sheep were scattered around to the left and front, while the kings and their color-coordinated camel drivers were in order to the right, moving closer each day until it got to Epiphany.  Oh, and I had two little plastic palm trees for ambience.

I have loved this nativity and setting it up every year reminded me of that time in a distant place (pre-Internet, no less) and the friends and world I was part of.  I see my landlady’s little grandson showing me how the figures should be set up, and watch myself shopping in the Plaza Mayor to add to my growing little family.  I see my roommates smiles as we sat in our room gabbing with the then-stable-less nativity set up on one of the bookshelves.  I remember finally getting home and setting it up under the Christmas tree for my family to see in the morning.

The figures have not held up very well, but then they’re 36 years old and weren’t all that well made in the first place.  The stable is starting to fall apart, the shepherds are losing arms, the sheep’s legs fell off, and the kings and Holy Family have paint chipped off their faces.  Baby Jesus looks fine, though, but the rest looks …. shabby.

So this year when I set up my Christmas decorations, the nativity won’t be part of it.  It feels disrespectful to put it up when it’s so worn out and tattered.  After so many years, I’ve said goodbye to it.  I don’t need to see it to remember Christmases past, the places and the people that were part of it.  Vaya con Dios, nacimiento mio.


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Visits and Leaks and Weight Loss, Oh My!

My nephew came down for a quick visit this weekend from the New England Patriots training camp.  I saw him last November when I went up for a quick visit to see him and my brother.  His muscles in his arms and legs have muscles that are as hard as rocks, and he’s in wonderful shape.  As he said during the visit, it’s his job to eat healthy and work out in one way or another 5+ hours a day.  After practice and after some supper, he heads back to the gym for additional time.

I made him a home cooked meal (the most exotic thing in it was green bean casserole, which he loves) and was astounded by the amount of food he eats – but then, he has to fuel that body for hard physical work.  For a special treat, I made a sour cream coffee cake using an old family recipe.  My mom makes these for holidays and special family gatherings, and he was shocked that I not only knew how to make it, but had been doing so since before he was born.

We spent Friday night looking at boxes of old family pictures and telling stories.  On Saturday after a leisurely breakfast of coffee and an enormous pile of scrambled eggs, we went out to explore Yale.  It is over 300 years old and the buildings and campus layout are totally different from anything he’d seen in Texas or Utah.  We wandered the law school, old campus, the main library (which he recognized from the Indiana Jones movie that filmed there just as I started working), and checked out Skull and Bones.

We finished the visit with a relaxed lunch at an Irish pub before he had to hit the road to get back for a charity event that night.   We are the only family members in this part of the world and being able to get together without the hassle and expense of plane tickets is priceless.

While he was here, we discovered a water leak from the apartment above.  The toilet tank seal had broken and water was flooding their bathroom and dripping down through my ceiling and down the walls, getting the carpet and pad beneath it soaking wet.  It happened fast and having Rob here was a blessing, since he found the damage more quickly than I would have here on my own.

Maintenance came and fixed the upstairs problem, wet vac-ed my rug and carpet pad, and set up a dehumidifier to suck water out of the walls and carpet as well as fans to help dry things out.  They’re coming back this morning to do some repairs and I’m sitting here waiting for them, since I want to be sure I know what they’re doing.

Last but not least, I’ve now reached the 100 lb milestone and am only 10 lbs away from entering ONEderland for the first time in over 25 years.  I’m not there yet and am not celebrating in advance.  But I know I can do it now and am content to let it arrive when I’m ready.

I’m very happy with my progress and accomplishment.  I am also painfully aware that people who don’t know me see a fat woman who needs to lose a ton of weight, has no tone and obvious fat pockets.  I’m lumpy from the saggy skin, though people don’t necessarily know that’s the reason when I’m covered up.  Time is running out for that as the temps rise.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember when reading other people’s weight loss blogs that we are in very different places in our journeys and that their words and observations are not about me at all, since they’ve never met or even seen me.  They just hold up a big mirror to the things I still have to deal with – or not.  My goal is not to have a lean, trim, toned body. My goal is to be healthier, fitter, smaller, but it also needs to be a place where I know I can maintain without looking out for the fitness police to knock me into a different place just because it works for them.  I have enough to process for now.


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The Parents Have Airline Problems

The Maids Working InsideAlmost everything on my to-do list is done, except polishing a few silver pieces that came from Mom’s family.  Yesterday was very busy.  The Maids arrived as a team of 2 instead of 4 (people were sick) but they cleaned up a storm and everything looked and smelled fresh and beautiful.  I’d tidied everything in sight before they arrived, partly for them and mostly because my parents are coming and I want things to look uncluttered.   I might even be inspired enough to keep this up on my own for more than a week 🙂

After The Maids left, I did a run down Dixwell, ticking things off my list:  1. Get gas.  2. Carwash (which undoubtedly caused the torrential rain later).  3. Buy wine.  4. Stock up on groceries.   And after all of that, I did three loads of wash, leaving me clean towels, sheets and clothes.  Phew.

But then around 8pm, my mom called to say that the airline had cancelled their 6:30am flight and rebooked them on Sunday, putting them into Hartford at 5:45pm, almost 18 hours after their planned time.  I know they are upset and confused, but at least they weren’t stranded in an airport for days (visions of my Christmas trip delays at Newark Airport flashed through my head).  They can relax today and leave tomorrow at a humane time instead of having to wake up at4:30am.

AirplaneThe airline reassigned them to new flights but they don’t have seat assignments and were in a tizzy beccause online the seats showed as full.  At least I knew to tell them that seats are held back to be assigned at the airport, but I made some calls to American and confirmed some info, which I passed along, as well as the 800 number for customer support. I have it programmed into my phone and I’ll make sure Mom has it in her cell phone when she’s here (she hasn’t figured out programming in numbers yet).

So instead of having a packed morning ending with a run up to BDL to pick my parents and a full day with them tomorrow, I have today and most of tomorrow to myself.  Not what was planned but I can enjoy the very clean and tidy apartment and my kitty, who is mostly recovered from the trauma of having a team of loud people invade her little space.  Maybe I’ll throw in a trip to BJ’s which isn’t exactly a visitor’s destination, but fun for me.


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Obsessed with Jon and Kate Even Though I Don’t Like Them

Jon and Kate Plus Eight (image from TLC)I have become obsessed with Jon and Kate Plus Eight, and not in a good way.  It’s a show I knew was on TLC but didn’t really watch because, well, watching 8 small children with stressed out parents just isn’t my idea of fun, even if the kids are adorable.  Every once in a while I’d catch a glimpse when nothing else was on or I was waiting for another show that I did watch.  Last weekend there was a marathon of what must have been every show, gearing up the season premier of these wounded, angry, bitter adults with children who need to be enjoying their lives without cameras in their faces every minute.

Every tabloid at the grocery store (which is the only place I see them because they’re not things I seek out) had a picture of Kate on there somewhere, and even papers as reputable as the NY Times have had articles about the show and the unraveling of a family.  There’s even a Gosselins Without Pity blog with armloads of comments from outraged viewers.  The consensus there is that Kate is a witch, Jon is abused but not without responsibility, and the kids need to have the cameras stop now so they don’t have to have wall-to-wall coverage of the dissolution of their family.

I don’t know why this has hooked me.  I don’t have children and don’t want any other than my kitty.  Watching candid reality shows is not on my list of fun things to do.  Watching people of any age or sex be picked on and belittled pushes buttons inside and my heart hurts for them – so it’s not something I voluntarily do.  I don’t have any plans to watch any other episodes of the show (I broke down and watched the premier but it was awful and I don’t want to support the show in any way).  I even wrote to TLC to tell them what I thought, which is something I rarely do.

But yet I do care about the kids and in a train-wreck way, want to know what happens.  I’m not proud of it but will probably do Google searches (or just look at tabloid covers) to keep up with the story.  Let’s hope something more distracting comes along soon.

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In other news, I spent part of the weekend decluttering, inspired by Lori’s success.  I lugged a bag of clothes and some books to Goodwill but this is a particularly congested time there with students moving out of apartments following local college graduations.  I have other things in mind to take down when it’s a bit easier to get a parking space.  I also figured out that the way to get bill paying done more efficiently was to download Quicken to the laptop and move the whole operation to the dining table.  Going to the study to use the old desktop, which is usually turned off, just wasn’t happening.  I’m caught up on reconciling statements and paying bills which isn’t a sexy thing to do but definitely necessary and I like the tidiness of knowing everything is in order.

My parents are coming to visit at the end of June and I’m also debating whether to hire a maid service to do a thorough cleaning.  I hate to clean and somehow need to have things very clean and everything in place when the parents come.  Cat hair will, of course, still adorn everything but perhaps not in a thick layer.  They haven’t met their grandkitty yet so we want the first impressions to be good ones.  Let’s hope she doesn’t hide under the bed the whole time!


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Random Sunday Things

Apartment update — throwing around “my brother the lawyer” was very helpful in working with management.  They are implementing his advice, at least most of it, and have said they are commited to doing the repairs to my satisfaction.  Which is a big improvement over what they said on Wed.  Friday they chopped out the wet wall and baseboards and patched in new, covering a much bigger area than I expected, and Monday I’ll get paint.

I don’t know what’s happening with the carpet but they ripped out enough carpet pad that I know SOMETHING is happening.  Whether that ends up being both whole rooms or just pieced sections, I don’t know.  I’ll probably have to move the poor kitty to the study again on Monday so she doesn’t get in the middle of the noise and activity and freak out.  For now she’s curled up on her little footstool next to mama, making us both happy.

Friday I had an appointment with the sleep doctor, the first since I moved last summer.  Although I’ve been on CPAP for over 3.5 years, I’ve been having problems in the last year waking up in the night and not waking up as refreshed as I did when I first got the CPAP.  Since I am an expert diagnostician with a medical degree from Google, I was pretty sure that my air pressure needed to be adjusted up higher.  I’ve gained back so much weight since the pressures were set that it was a good bet, and the doctor concurred.

What was annoying was the conversation about my weight problem.  Did I know that it would be helpful for me to lose weight and that lowering my BMI would have an effect on my required air pressure, not to mention improve my health?  Noooooooo, no one has ever mentioned it.  Would I be interested in information about weight loss program in a neighboring town that only costs $1200 for personalized plan?  No, I wouldn’t.

It makes me so mad that they tell me this every time I see a doctor, even when I volunteer up front that I know I have a weight problem and that it’s not helping.  See?  I’m Self Aware and have listened to people tell me in the past that I am a failure and need to work on this and then everything will be fine.

I grumbled loudly about it to the sleep tech who did a mask fitting after I saw the doctor.  She’s doing WW herself and we commiserated about it.  But then she did say that the doctors have to tell us if there is a weight-related factor to any physical problem, because otherwise they are open to liability for NOT having said anything.  So I should expect to keep hearing it.  In a funny way, that did help.  It’s not pointed at me for being stupid and a failure, it’s just doing their job.  I can listen and get upset, listen and get motivated, or listen and ignore the stress levels.

We also talked about WLS and the effect on sleep apnea.  Her experience with patients is that there’s a big improvement quickly, not just from the weight loss, although that’s certainly a major factor.    I may not get to a place where the apnea is completely gone but it could get low enough that the CPAP isn’t really needed.  It would be great to not be tied to the hoses and masks every night.


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Given Away to a Good Home

Today I gave away my grandmother’s rocking chair.  I’ve had it for 25 years, bringing it back from North Carolina in the back of my car after I mentioned that it was one thing that I’d like to have after she died.  She had a habit of frequently talking about dying and who was going to get what, so I thought I’d just put in a request.  She insisted on me taking it home that very trip and for years it’s been sitting around, reminding me of her.

But it hasn’t been used.  I don’t fit into it comfortably and lately all it’s come to mean is clutter.  I was afraid to get rid of it because it was my grandma’s and I didn’t want my dad to be upset.  Turns out he didn’t know I had it and didn’t care about it in the slightest.  We both have other physical touchstones to remind us of her, along with our memories.

So today I took a few pics and put it up on Freecycle.  I could have tried to sell it but it didn’t seem like the right thing to do, and I’ve had good experiences with Freecyle in the past.  It’s also insanely speedy.  I posted the offer at 3:16 and the rocker was picked up at 5:35.

I knew it had gone to the right home as I talked with the woman who picked it up, the mother of the person who contacted me.  The mom turns out to be from Houston and we were at UT at the same time (along with 45,000 other students).  Her daughter wanted the chair to rock her new baby who actually has the same name as my grandmother.  So it seemed like symmetry and karma for the chair to go to them.  I think Grandmama would be pleased.