Random Thoughts of a Disordered Mind


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Taking a Break from Caregiving

13256291_10209796703980001_3438453961952806348_nFortunately for me, I now live only 2 hours from my brother, rather than half way across the country. Visits no longer require advance planning, plane tickets, and scheduled vacation time away from the office. Instead, it’s just a short hop on a lot of 2-lane roads.

After 7 months of living with my dad, I was ready for a break. I lived alone for my entire professional life and it’s not always easy to have someone around all the time. I prepared food, wrote out menus, did laundry and took care of house things. Then I made our family coffee cake traditionally made for gatherings, loaded up Tessie (who was none too happy about it), and headed out for two days off.

My niece and her two small children were visiting from Colorado and won’t be back until Christmas, so this was a chance to see them. Children change so quickly and the little guy is already starting to pull himself up. His big sister is smart as a whip and I so enjoyed making cookies and playing with her.

But I also really needed the time alone out on the front porch in the quiet of a rainy day, watching deer out in the pasture and grateful for the solitude. It can be lonely, being on your own, but for me, it’s restorative. My brother and I had some good conversations about Dad’s health and future planning. He’s in good shape now but at 88, anything could happen at any time. I’m glad that my brother and I see eye to eye on next steps.

Coming home was difficult. Tessie meowed almost the whole way, which is seriously annoying. Dad’s first comment was, “How many phones do we have? I can only find 3.” Gee, nice to see you, too. I’ve been impatient and stressed, and yesterday ended up with a wicked full-blown cold/sinus problem and feel as though an elephant is sitting on my chest. Okay, maybe just a cat. But still.

I want more space than I can have here, emotional space. It’s clear to me that taking time off for myself, including having Dad spend time away so I can be alone, is imperative to my long-term health and sanity. I don’t regret my decision to move here but sometimes I’m just losing who I am.


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Healing Power of Doing Nothing

I have done almost nothing over this 10-day recess break period, and this year especially it’s been a blessing I needed more than I knew.  Having this break is a major perk of working in academia. Some years I fly to Texas to be with family, but honestly, I miss them for about 30 min on Christmas morning and the rest of the time I’m happy on my own without the stress of holidays and expectations.

I slept until I woke up most days until I finally feel rested and my eyes look less bruised from lack of sleep.  My time was my own.  I did limited shopping, got a pedicure, had my hair cut and colored, and took Tessie to the vet.  I drove out to a consignment shop an hour away that I’ve wanted to go to for months, and did genealogy research for my 95-year-old neighbor. I bought furniture.

I went through drawers, boxes, closets and shelves to weed out what I don’t need/want to take to my new apartment, lugging bags and boxes to Goodwill – and even more bags to the dumpster or recycling bins.

But mostly I spent the time alone with Tessie and it was just what I needed.  I enjoy being with people but it tires me out, especially in the chaotic bustle of the holiday season.  I brought some work home but kept it in my bag without opening it – which made me really happy.  More to do when I get back tomorrow, but emptying my head of work was necessary.

I hope I can remember all the codes I need to know tomorrow.  But at least I will go in rested and ready to take it on.


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A Week or So in the Life

Have you missed me?  I seem to be spending more time living my life and chatting in short little spurts on Twitter and Facebook instead of posting here.  Let’s see if I can catch up.

I’ve been busy with work, learning new responsibilities since on 11/1 my job changes.  My best work friend is retiring at the end of November and her unit and mine are being merged into a single Acquisitions & Continuing Resources department, with me in charge. I’ll miss her like crazy because we’re good friends and I enjoy her company, knowledge, and wisdom.  We’ve been backups for each other these last 3 years and it will be hard to fly solo, but it’s also an opportunity to rethink job responsibilities and descriptions, and workflow.

I’m off to Chicago on Tuesday for a few days visit with my best friend and then a committee meeting over Halloween weekend to select the programs for next year’s annual meeting.  I’m in charge of it all so am feeling a bit stressed that we don’t make any false moves. But we will and it will all be okay. Trust me, though, I’ll be happier next Monday when the decisions are behind us and I’m home again.

Tessi went to the vet on Friday, much to her dismay, to get her claws clipped and have her anal glands checked. She’s had problems there before and I’d noticed she was licking her butt more than usual.  It seems that the glands were fine but she had some hard crystals in there that were irritating. Now she has a small shaved bit and short claws.  So far she hasn’t retaliated by throwing up but I’m sure she’s biding her time.  I’d better warn the cat sitter.

Weight loss has slowed down to a stop and to be quite honest, I don’t really care that much.  Except I do.  I’ve decided that my goal isn’t a point on the scale, it’s being able to fit into size 16 petite pants.  I’m having a terrible time finding pants to fit because I’m really an 18p right now and petite departments usually only go up to a 16.  Sure, I can get some online but I really want to be able to try them on in a store instead of paying for stuff I have to return because it doesn’t fit.

But it doesn’t really matter to me when that happens.  After losing 126 lbs, it’s hard to get excited about another 15-20.  Picking up the exercise pace will obviously help but I’ve been sick for 2 weeks and have been having continuing back problems that my doctor thinks are connected to that heavy apron of excess skin hanging in the front.  My balance is off.  At least the pool workouts are easier on everything than the ones “on land” as my trainer calls them.

Did you know that you can create 8×10 photo collages at Walgreens?  I’m sure you can do it other places, too, but I know it works there.  I uploaded some digital photos to have prints made, and discovered there was an option for photo collage.  You can select up to 20 photos (though I’d definitely recommend no more than 8-9 if you want to actually see them) and the system arranges them for you.  You can shuffle the images, add more, remove some, select the color background and width of the lines separating the photos, etc.  Price is $3.99 each.  I’m not sure if you can create them on the spot; I did this from home and picked up at the store.  They’ll make fun presents for the family and one of them will go into my new office.  Check it out!


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Quick Vacation Check-in

My parents arrived at 6:30pm, a day and a half after their original schedule.  We had a nice visit in the car (they loved my new little Prius and I was shocked to find out that Dad thought I had a blue one) and a late dinner of Crockpot Salsa Chicken.  Yesterday was a lazy day with lots of visiting and a driving tour that included a stop at the Union Station, where  Dad got a dry run for today’s train trip to D.C.  Word is that he was reassured and found today easy.  Good thing, coz we could just drop him off and keep going.

Mom and I drove down to meet an old high school friend of hers that she hadn’t seen in 61 years.  They met each other in kindergarten, which kind of boggles my mind.  They reminisced and told stories and had a great time.  It was fun to watch them.

The kitty is still pretty spooked by the company, spending a lot of time under the bed or crouched in meatloaf position on the floor of the bedroom listening to voices and checking out the situation.  I hope she gets comfortable soon coz they’re dying to cuddle her and I need a pic of us together!


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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.


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Last Things Before Travel

Tessie on a shelfOne last small load of clothes is in the dryer, the dishwasher is churning away, American Idol (“Girls Night”) is on TV, and my kitty is curled up on the stool next to me to be petted. I’m mostly packed with only my bathrobe, hair dryer and brushes to add to the suitcase in the morning, unless I forgot something.

I did stop at WW on the way home from work, in spite of that box of peanut brittle – or maybe because of it. I couldn’t leave for Chicago without facing up to the music of what I ate. And, of course, I was up. Again. The only good things about that are that it wasn’t a surprise and I know what happened. I guess those are really good things, actually.

The difficult conversation didn’t happen today, either, and now it’s delayed until after my return. I’m going to try to just leave it behind when I go jetting off in the morning. This weekend is about spending time with friends. I’m not even taking a laptop so won’t be blogging until I’m back. Stay out of trouble!


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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.