Random Thoughts of a Disordered Mind


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




I’ve Been More Interested in Living My Life Lately than Writing About It

I wrote this last Sunday but somehow it stayed as a draft rather than publish to the blog. Oops 🙂

Buddha and a child

As of last weekend I’ve lost almost 10 lbs and am feeling in the zone of following my plan.  More than that, I actually WANT to follow it which makes things so much easier than when I was fighting with myself every step of the way.

I’ve been working with Weight Watcher points for so long that reading recipes and food labels doesn’t require major brain twisting to understand whether something is a good choice or not at any given time.  The best part is that I don’t have to give up anything, just get comfortable with eating less while balancing what I actually do eat.

It’s a quiet time of year if you work in academia and especially in a law school, where there is no summer school.  The building is deserted of the usual hustle and bustle of students and staff members are taking vacations so the office is emptier, too.  Economic uncertainties with budget cuts and potential layoffs have made this a stressful spring and it’s a relief to see this fiscal year coming to a close.

The Maids are coming to deep-clean my apartment the day before my parents arrive later this month.  In a way it feels like cheating; I know how to clean and really should be doing it better than I do.  I just hate it (that summer as a hotel maid kind of backfired).  On the other hand, they send a team of 4 people who clean everywhere at the same time, including the floors on their hands and knees.  My knees can no more contemplate that than fly to the moon.  So the apartment will be sparkling clean – and as I told my mom, I’m not doing it for HER, I’m doing it for ME.  I think it’s probably a bargain and a service I may want to outsource a few times a year.

Tessie is waking up earlier and earlier, along with the sun which starts streaming light way earlier than I want to get up.  Yesterday she sat on my back, played with my hair, and meowed at 5am so I’d get up and keep her company – and feed her, of course.  It was not my idea of the best way to wake up on a weekend day and today was not much better.  Good thing I’m not on vacation or I’d be really cranky.  She desperately needs to have her claws clipped but I’m trying to hold out until closer to my parents’ visit so she doesn’t accidentally puncture the Aerobed if she happens to jump on it. Although we plan to keep the door closed, she is tricky so we need to expect anything.

Today is a quiet day with chores and errands to run and probably a walk outside in the warm sunshine.   Maybe a nap, if the kitty will allow it.


You know Martha Stewart has Been Stalking Your Cat

My friend MB sent me this and I simply had to share:

You know Martha Stewart has been stalking your cat when:

* there’s potpourri hanging from her collar.

* her nails have been cut with pinking shears.

* her toys are all stored in McCoy crocks.

* the pooper scooper has been decorated with raffia bows.

* there is that tell-tell lemon slice in the new silver water bowl.

* you find liver and whole wheat kitty treats stamped out with copper cookie cutters and decorated with royal icing using a #2 rosette tip.

* her cat hair has been collected and put into wire baskets for nesting material for the birds.

* a seasonally appropriate grapevine wreath adorns the front of the cat carrier.

* your cat disappears for a bit and comes back wearing a thyme colored virgin wool hand-knitted sweater with matching boots.


* The poo left in her litter box has been sculpted into swans.


Tessie on the Offensive

Along with warmer weather comes the chance to open the sliding door to let in the outside air, and the kitty is loving the chance to get the scents and sounds of the outdoors. She hangs out staring at the yard, waiting for Something To Happen. Tonight that Something was a visiting Other Kitty, the big black one that’s been by before and gone nose to nose through the glass with Tessie (see photo). Being able to smell each other was something quite different.

Tessie went into offensive mode, ears pricked and low growling with the tail flicking back and forth, while they had a staring contest. Then the other one started to prowl closer and Tessie let out a sound I’ve never heard her make, a loud, angry, piercing cry as she stood up and her tail got the size of a bottle brush. She completely rocked and the other cat ran away down the side of the building. Tessie’s been prowling and stalking, making sure he didn’t come back. It was quite something to watch her transform into furry fierceness.


Appreciating Sunlight

Hot sunAhhh, Saturday. I am so ready for the weekend, for the chance to putter around and wake up slowly and be in the sunlight. Yesterday was cold, dark, and heavy with rain that left big cold puddles, leading in turn to cold wet feet. On the other hand, it wasn’t snow.

I have seasonal affective disorder and days without sunlight make me all lethargic and squirrely, with short attention span and crankiness. I leave for work at 7:15, just about when the sun is rising, and I come home around 4:30, which is lighter now than it was a month ago (yayyy!). My office is in the basement of our building and it does have a small window up top that looks out at people’s feet as they go by. On a dark gray day, though, it doesn’t help much.

By the time I get to Saturday, especially in mid-winter, I’m feeling light-deprived and ready to soak up the sun. Even in the cold of winter, when hanging around outside isn’t high on my list to do, the sunlight matters.

So here I sit, sipping a cup of coffee and looking at the sun highlighting the tree outside my big windows, watching Buffy on cable. Tessie let me sleep in an extra hour before she decided it was time for breakfast and the curtains in the study are now open so light is pouring in from everywhere. It’s definitely worth the extra $50 to have a corner unit that feels more like a house when the sun comes in.

We played Bird already, Tessie’s new favorite toy. She loves chasing dangly things and this one is amazing – a 3′ long slender rod with a stretchy string attached and at the end, a feather contraption that sounds like wings flapping when it moves. Tessie loooooooooves it and she runs and jumps like a kitten as she plays. Her eyes get all black – “Stepford Cat” as one of my friends calls it – and she quivers and then pounces or leaps to catch this thing that’s invaded her house. It’s fun to watch.

Time to go make breakfast – scrambled egg on a potato roll with pudding yogurt on the side – and then get dressed and go out to enjoy the sun.


A Weekend to Relax and Unwind

MassageWhat to write, what to write. It’s been a quiet weekend here in gray and chilly Connecticut and my biggest accomplishment has been sleeping until I woke up both days. Of course, since I usually get up at 5:45 am, sleeping until 7:30 is a huge luxury.

Tessie stays curled up on the bottom of the bed, on top of the warm electric blanket, until I start to stretch and take off the CPAP mask. Then she climbs on my tummy for about a minute, and then we’re off. It takes me a good hour to wake up and I prefer to do it in my robe with a cup of coffee or a can of Diet Coke (depending on the day), watching the news and petting the kitty. It’s a nice way to start the day.

Yesterday afternoon I indulged in a full body massage, something I treat myself to as often as the budget allows. I like the background music – I think all massage therapists get theirs from the same catalog, with the sounds of water or quiet Celtic singing that we don’t understand – and the scent of the oils and lotions. I was so cozy and warm with a heating pad on the table beneath me and the chance to be very quiet and present in my body while A worked on my knots. There are always more than I realize and usually the ones that the therapist finds are worse than the ones I went in knowing about, which was true yesterday.

Today we had visits from strangers. I listed an old DVD player on Freecycle, which was picked up two hours after I posted it. Boy, was that fast! More than 10 people contacted me about it and I love that it was able to go to a good home so quickly, with just a single post and no lugging involved.

After lunch the pet sitters arrived for our consultation visit. It’s a young couple who share the responsibility of all the animals they care for, so both of them came to meet me and Tessie. I had called some references and they were recommended by my vet – and Tessie lasted about 5 minutes before she slipped away to my room to hide. Usually she’s gone the minute she hears voices other than mine. I’m comfortable with them and think they will take good care of her until I get back. They’re even going to send me email updates!

Food has been a little iffy. I’m journaling everything and trying to get in more, if not all, of the basic food groups. The essential oils are the hardest because I resent having to use points on them when they don’t seem to be real food. I’d rather have bread – but too much bread isn’t a good thing either. I did make a batch of pudding yogurt, something I haven’t done in a while. It makes a good evening substitute for ice cream plus it counts as dairy, which ice cream doesn’t. I used up odds and ends of three different bags of frozen fruit, so that also cleaned up the freezer some, too.

I made some poor choices – picking up a single serving pack of Entenmann’s donuts, for example – but even then I ate one and squished the other. Why do they think two donuts make a good portion? I succumbed to buying snacky crackery things today but got a small box of wheat things instead of a sleeve of fig newtons or peanut butter and cheese crackers. Mostly, though, I’m writing my food in advance which provides me guidance on what I will eat and know what extra I can have.

Tomorrow it’s back to work for a short week; Monday will actually be my only full day to do real work. Tuesday afternoon I have two meetings, one on electronic resources and the other on Web 2.0. Wednesday there is an all-day e-resources planning retreat from 9-4:30, followed immediately by WW. Somewhere in there, probably Tuesday, I’ll pack up for my trip to Texas. Leaving for the airport at 2:30am means I won’t get much sleep Wed. night so packing earlier gives me a head start.

I’m off to play “feather on a string” with Tessie. Hope you all had a good weekend and that your week is off to a good start.


I am in Love with My Cat

Tessie In a Christmas BasketI’ve lived alone for over 20 years and am used to my own company. I don’t miss a roommate or a man or children but I never knew what a difference it would make for me to have a cat own me.

Tessie has been with me for just about 6 weeks and I am totally in love with her – and comforted and de-stressed by her furry presence. When I’m home, she keeps me within sight, following me from room to room, though she isn’t interested in trying to shower with me, thank heavens. Her toys litter the floor and I don’t care – why pick them up when she plays with them? It’s not as though I entertain lavishly and need to provide a tidy place for other people to walk.

When she first came home, Tessie wanted to sit on me almost every time I sat down. Now that she’s more settled, she lets me pick her up to cuddle and sits on her little stool next to my chair where I can reach down and stroke her but she has some space. Much as I’d love to hold her more often, having her sit close by instead means I can do other stuff like read and type on the computer.

I have friends whose cats wake them up in the mornings or who hog the bed. Tessie is well behaved and has her spot at the foot of the bed near the door so she can look out (not that there’s anything to see but then, what do I know about what she finds interesting to look at?). In the morning when the clock goes off, and I pat my tummy, she climbs on top to purr and knead her little paws and we have a few minutes of bonding time. Since it’s 5:45 am and I not awake – and the light is still off – this is a pretty intimate time that lasts, oh, about 2 minutes. Then it’s time for me to get up and feed her.

When I get home at the end of the day, she’s waiting for me and hops on the bed before I can get my coat off so we can go nose to nose and tell each other about our day. I love that her first move isn’t to the food bowl, although that definitely comes next.

I can’t really imagine leaving her but of course I know I will, to travel for business and vacation, and I’m trying to figure out that best way to have her cared for. Possibly a cat sitter rather than trying to board her, though I haven’t decided yet. My first trip will be in February so I have some time to decide how to manage. I know that I’ll miss her terribly – and I’ve only had her for 6 weeks out of what will hopefully be many years together.

What I didn’t really expect was how much having Tessie be part of my life would make me feel more settled, more calm. She listens to me patiently when I talk, and purrs when I hold her and cuddle her close. Tears are absorbed in her fur and she senses when I need her nearby. She is a warm live furry person to keep me company and touching her reminds me that I’m not alone in the world, something I know but it’s nice to have a physical reminder. Tessie doesn’t judge me, she just is there and loves me back.

We woke up this morning to the sound of sleet pelting the windows and will go to sleep warm in/on the electric blanket. We are a little family.