Living Life on the Edge

Many years ago, when I was a bride, my beloved was making hamburgers for us to eat while watching baseball. I got out my brand-new mandoline to make french fries.

The guard slipped on the sticky moist potato and my right thumb came sliding down onto the blade. It didn’t actually hurt, but it bled like a fountain. I sat with it above my heart, wrapped in a towel, while we ate just the burgers and watched the game. No dice. Off to the ER…which was packed on a Saturday night in Berkeley. We decamped to the small hospital in my hometown, where they stopped it with magic gauze, and then a sadistic doctor who looked like she could have been in a movie about the USSR scrubbed at it with gauze dipped in disinfectant, which was the single most painful thing I’ve ever had happen to me. There may have been a very loud obscenity shouted. Then — then! — they gave me Novocaine.

In the end, no stitches, and I have no scar or loss of feeling; it really just made a flap of skin and took some of the tip of my nail. But my husband made me sell the mandoline on eBay.



So I’ve been divorced nine years this month and damnit, it’s time to have a mandoline again. (I was thinking this while slicing the radishes for the tartines the other week.) I did get a safety glove, and the guard on this one is much better than the one I had circa 1999. I haven’t used it yet, but I’m excited just to have one again.


Square Peg

…which is always the first thing I think of when I think of Sarah Jessica Parker.

And it doesn’t exactly describe me, but I’ve been thinking about this sort of thing lately. I remember as a teenager reading magazines and I’d stress over them trying to pigeonhole their readership into things like athletic (no); studious (yes); romantic (sure); and various other slots. I never fit into any of them and it drove me nuts. I was insufficiently sophisticated to say screw it, these don’t apply to me.

That kind of thing segued into my “almost, but not quite” era. I went to a great women’s college — but unlike almost every other student there at the time, I didn’t live on campus. Unlike almost all the other commuting students, I lived with my parents.

Later I worked in Silicon Valley during the dot-com bubble — but I was paid less than anyone save the receptionist (maybe); I was certainly not buying houses or sports cars, and though I was married at the time, I was not honeymooning in Italy or sporting a big ring. Boy, did I not fit in there. (When we did buy a car — the cheapest model Corolla — people asked me “What does your husband drive?” Uh…the cheapest model Corolla. That Corolla.)

These days, it’s morphed again. I think about how my pretty traditional theological views clash with my very liberal politics; my deep-rootedness in the United States clashes with my visceral, painfully passionate desire to live in France, Belgium, or the UK; my loneliness clashes with my love of solitude; my firebrand feminism with my longing to be housewife.

To turn some of this tension to good account, I’m using this theme for my NaNoWriMo project. While I wish I could just freaking wholeheartedly commit to something already, I know I’m not the only one who is ambivalent about things, even important things. It’s at least something that gets under my skin, so I won’t be at a total loss on November 1. Which is Friday. Oy!

So Much Crazy, So Little Time

Unlike normal offices (to the extent that there is such a thing), we get rotated from unit to unit every so often. I love my quiet, kind of dull, almost-no-public-interaction job, where I know what I’m doing and I’m not anxious. The lack of anxiety is a first. This has been the best three years of my work life. In November — one of my favorite months! — we will have rotations. No matter where I go it will be less of a good fit than where I am now, and if I have to go to Member Services and deal with strangers all day every day face to face, there’s going to be a Klonopin Rx in my future. And a lot of alcohol in my evenings.

To say that I was full of dread is a bit of an understatement. OK, it’s a massive, massive understatement. I think it’s a terrible way to run an office — I think you should find out what people are good at, and leave them there to excel — but it’s entirely out of my hands. I just want to stay in my quiet corner under the radar, left alone, but that is not going to happen. So!

I was seeing my hynotherapist yesterday to work on the writer’s block, and she did some eye movement desensitization with me around that. So going from 10 on a 1-10 scale of terror to something around a 1 was good. I’m feeling resigned. I’m hoping that resignation is a way station on the way to finding a bright side. I guess learning something new will be good for my brain.  I can’t say what Member Services would be good for — learning to handle being stressed out and scared all day every day? OK, I need to stop that! It will be fine… it will be fine... nothing is forever, especially in this office.

Previous to this little work bombshell, I slipped on the stairs coming down to feed the cats on Wednesday, and bent my right leg to the side and back — so my foot was up near my hip as I slid down the stairs. OH JOY. I stayed home with ice and ibuprofen. I went to work Thursday but just getting around was exhausting so I took yesterday off. It’s better now but still uncomfortable and makes for slow going.

And finally, although I’ve lived here a year and it was here when I got here, apparently my AC unit is a violation of the HOA rules. It’s the only thing that makes my bedroom livable in summer. Much panicking ensued. I have a request in to the architecture committee to be able to have it up July – October. We shall see.

I would like a stiff drink and a long bath, but I’m a little worried about mixing vodka and ibuprofen, and about bending my leg to get into the tub.

This Right Here

Is why it breaks my heart I can’t live in Europe.

I feel about this roughly the same way an infertile couple who desperately wants children feels when they see pregnant women. Yes, I know there are Americans who live in Europe, and even Americans who live in Europe who aren’t married to Europeans. But I never managed to find a way to do it, and now I’m a homeowner with a secure job here in the US and my only hope is retiring there, since I won’t need to work by then.

And my current life is not being made to seem more attractive by the news in the following post.


Finally Some FOs

I love colorwork. It’s so much easier to me than patterns made of knits and purls and increases and decreases. It’s instantly readable. Also, it’s fun to knit both Continental and English simultaneously.

Hannah cowl

Hannah cowl

It’s unblocked, hence being held down at the sides by books. Pattern on Ravelry.

My floats are pretty neat, I think,

My floats are pretty neat, I think.

Next up, a big cozy shawl.

This was a project I worked as stress therapy. I about doubled the number of skeins, because I am not a small person.

This was a project I worked as stress therapy


I about doubled the number of skeins, because I am not a small person. (It’s Noro and needs to be bathed in something softening.) Pattern on Ravelry; although I saw a prototype at Piedmont Yarn and Apparel and bought it in person. Nice shop!

Detail of shawl.

Detail of shawl.

Now I’m onto a new shawl.

The yarn may be hiding some mistakes.

The yarn may be hiding some mistakes.

Pattern on Ravelry. (It’s not a good name but it will be a pretty shawl.)

It’s been awhile since I’ve finished things, so I’m in a happy fiber place.

Getting Back into the Kitchen

Now that the weather is cooling down, I have much more energy and enthusiasm. Witness:


Small lemon cake with vanilla frosting.

Small lemon cake with vanilla frosting.

I made this for a friend who came over for birthday tea. It’s a blitztorte from The Joy of Cooking, with double lemon. The cake didn’t come away from the pan perfectly, so I tried to do a crumb coat before the proper icing, but it still was kind of rustic. Quite good though.

I have a friend who clips the cats’ claws and I feed him. This was what he got last week:

Tartine ingredients.

Tartine ingredients.

Please also note homemade garlic rosemary croutons in the Ziploc to the back left.

Tartines, assembled.

Tartines, assembled.

Lightly toasted French bread with 1.) European-style butter topped with sea salt and radishes (which I ate compulsively for days afterward — sooo good!) and 2.) Greek yogurt (standing in for the fromage frais I didn’t feel like going to Whole Foods for), cucumbers, tomatoes, and herbes de Provence.

Pretty pretty macarons.

Pretty pretty macarons.

I got two of seven different kind of macarons from Chantal Guillon. Bought them from a guy from Paris. I actually walked back to work smiling.

Tonight I will confess I am giving into a whim and having fish sticks for dinner. So gourmet, non? But it’s comfort food. This was mortgage payday last week so my cupboard is a bit barer than it would normally be. But I have plans for fall and winter cooking. I love this time of year.


So. Remiss. In. Writing.

But anyway.

From the mid-August through the end of September, I did six weeks of hypnotherapy. I wanted to stop being overwhelmed by the desire to EAT ALL THE THINGS. It wasn’t just that I have a big appetite (though I do) or that I like fattening things (ditto)… it’s that there were times when it was like I was possessed by something that drove me to quickly eat things in large quantities even if it made me ill (like how for some reason cheap chocolate gives me a headache) and even if I was consciously thinking, “This isn’t good for me; I shouldn’t do it.”

And for the most part, it worked. From the very first session I have not raided the snack cabinet at work once, though it is filled with Reeses Peanut Butter Cups and my favorite crackers. (Oh, so good.) Not once, not even a nibble, when I used to eat half a cracker package in an afternoon. The other people who use the snack cabinet are mystified because there’s so much food in there, going so slowly. I have not told them why.

I am also better in general about hoovering up all available edibles. Sometimes it’s been difficult because I can’t decide if I’m hungry or if I just want to eat, and I have to sit and think about it for awhile. Sometimes that backfires and I get really hungry and it’s a little harder to eat mindfully. But it’s so very, very much better. I need to keep doing some self-hypnosis at home to keep it going.

It’s not like I’ve lost a bunch of weight, although I think I have a little — some things are just not so snug anymore. I’m certainly not gaining any, which had been a problem since the advent of the snack cabinet. I knew I couldn’t ask them not to have it anymore just because I couldn’t control myself, and anyway that obsessed feeling overtook me elsewhere sometimes as well.

I do feel more in control, like I can actually decide what and when to eat instead of being totally overcome by a passionate drive I was at the mercy of. This is a good thing.

I’m going back for three sessions on writer’s block. I grew up intending to be a writer. I told my mom stories before I could write and she’d transcribe them for me. I wrote and wrote and wrote throughout childhood, and then I got to high school and started reading really good writers, which gave me pause. I still wrote well enough to win an NCTE award (though they don’t seem to give the exact one I won anymore) but by the time I got to college I was utterly stymied. I could write papers, but my ability to write fiction was gone. I think the last story I finished was for a creative writing class during my brief stint at UC Davis. I was 19.

But as part of an ongoing life project, I’m going to do NaNoWriMo this year, and I’m going to finish, and I’m going to keep writing. Thankfully, though we live in a world that over-values the accomplishments of the young, writing is still something a person can do, and excel at, at any age. I have wasted half my life being intimidated by really good writers,  worrying if someone will get mad at me for what I write, or feeling over self-conscious as I write. I’m going to do it. And if the result of the hypnotherapy on my compulsive eating is any guide, it will really help here. I finish the last session on November 1, the first day of NaNoWriMo. Good omen!