Lukewarm

Although I’ve thrown my hands up about the whole religion issue, there are several Bible verses that stick with me. One of them I use when I am borrowing trouble and worrying about what will happen tomorrow and the next day and the next. One is the second half of Matthew 6:34 in the KJV rendering: Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

And then there’s Revelation 3:15-16: I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.

I feel so lukewarm. And by that I don’t mean that I am apathetic (although lately I’ve been having spates of apathy). I mean that in so many ways I have completely competing desires, and I find myself flailing in the middle.

  • Ethically, I would far prefer to be a vegetarian. But I don’t find a vegetarian diet satisfying; it’s much harder to plan meals; and then there’s chicken, which I love love love. My wishy-washy solution to this is to eat only chicken and, very rarely, some fish. The fact that I don’t eat mammals (or ducks) is probably not a lot of comfort to chickenkind.
  • About that not eating mammals. I do wear/carry leather. I guess at least the animals’ sacrifices are much more long-lasting than a meal, but OTOH, do I need to have a leather purse? Shoes are harder — you can’t find many comfy, breathable, decent-looking non-leather shoes in 10WW. Still.
  • I wish with my whole heart I’d been born and raised in Europe — the UK or France for preference, but anywhere in the EU really.  I can’t read accounts of people who get to move there (unless this is pre-WWII stuff), because it breaks my heart in pieces. I tried to move once and failed miserably and I became discouraged. That was 24 years ago. Now I am firmly ensconced here, with a secure job and a house and animals, and if someone handed me an EU passport tomorrow I would be paralyzed with fear and might not even go. This is my biggest “I want two mutually exclusive things” issue.
  • For a long time, that’s where I was with religion — part of me wanted to be a pious Roman Catholic or Orthodox Christian, while the rest of me was an extremely liberal feminist. At least I’ve finally given up that struggle.
  • I struggle between believing in Fat Acceptance and saying, “I’m me; get off my back” and applauding people who embrace their lives and bodies…and wishing I weighed 130 pounds. The last time I weighed 130 pounds I was ten. It’s never going to happen.

Of course I have normal conflicts like “I wish I were a morning person so I could get up, have coffee and breakfast before I leave instead of rolling out of bed 12 minutes before I’m in the car,” “I really should get up off the couch, off the computer, and do something around here,” and “I should go to the farmer’s market and get locally grown, cheaper stuff, but the time window for that is so small and the grocery store is open until 11 PM.” But that’s not the same thing, because I don’t really want to get up early, do chores around the house, or…well, maybe the farmer’s market one works.

I’m really not sure what to do when I want two completely mutually exclusive things, especially when both choices are equally attainable. With the Europe thing, I should probably just learn to live with staying in the United States, since one choice is my current reality and the other is seriously difficult to get (even if I could get over my paralysis).

Somehow I think I thought by the time I was this age I’d have more things figured out. My bedroom seems like an apt metaphor for this — when I was growing up, parents’ bedrooms looked like something out of a hotel or, at least, a motel. Neatly made bed, a dresser or two, nothing strewn about, only actual tasteful framed stuff on the walls. My room? I never make my bed, ever — never have. My dresser has random stuff dotting it. My nightstand is piled with books, and the floor next to my bed has more books, whatever purse I’m carrying, and a laundry basket on it. Often the rocker has clothes tossed over it. I do have only framed art on the walls, but one corner has no art on the walls, a big mirror propped against the wall, a chair, a foot pedaler, and a big floor fan. It looks like the room of a twentysomething.

Yeah. It’s an apt metaphor. Now if only I moved and looked like I was still in my twenties!

 

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Get Your Pre-Monday Right Here

Ye gods and little fishes, it’s Sunday night again.

My current job assignment has sent me to the doctor twice in four months for stress-and-anxiety-related stuff. Tomorrow I have to go for something else, and I am so miserable with work that there is an awful voice inside half-wishing it were something serious because then I might get a break. How terrible is that?!

I am looking for ways to have some energy in the evenings, so that I don’t end up in bed at 7:45 after being gone from 6:15 to 6:15. So far I’ve come up with: Have a cool shower as soon as I’ve fed the cats, to invigorate me and help me stay vertical; have a cup of espresso; do some gentle yoga. I know exercise is supposed to be good but the walking I have recently incorporated into my days has actually made me more exhausted at night (I know that’s just short-term adjustment). Having said that, when I go abroad I walk everywhere and it wears me out, so I need to do more of it here in order to be in some semblance of shape then!

Still…this is one hellish rotation for this here introvert with general anxiety!

Today has been a day of knitting, reading, a lot of black coffee, and The Day I Saw Your Heart. Is it just me, or does Mélanie Laurent look like a cross between Scarlett Johanssen and a young Rosanna Arquette? It was a good movie, and I caught quite a bit of the language, which makes me happy, but a bit wrenching as well. Nonetheless it was good to spend ninety minutes in France this afternoon.
And now I think I am going to be a totally irresponsible person and get fast food for dinner. If I were in France I might go to the local brasserie — like the one at Place de la Nation where I had my last lunch in Paris in 2012, the yummy Alsatian butter noodles and chicken — but since I’m not, and since I have not got cooking mojo today, I’m defaulting to lowest common denominator here.

Next Year in Budapest

…and Vienna, and of course Paris.

Finally I can see my way clear to getting on an international flight. Whew. April 2015, I am outta here for three weeks. First call will be Budpest for four days, then a train to Vienna for a four-day stop, and then on to France for the remainder. I know, I know. On the one hand, I think I should explore other places. On the other hand — France!

Having said that, I’m going to take some pages from Ina Caro’s From Paris to the Past, and get out of the city at least a few times. If I’m going to be there for about ten days, I have time!

Until then, I have to attempt to save my vacation time, which is difficult, given my hellish current work assignment, which is wreaking havoc on both my mental and physical health; and also my money, which is difficult because what with the crappy work situation, retail therapy beckons. But I have to simply bear down, grit my teeth, and do it.

 

 

 

 

Space (the Elbow Room Kind)

I was talking with a friend of mine recently. He’s as much of an italophile as I am a francophile; he hopes to retire to Italy one day. (I think he has a better chance of doing it than I do of retiring to France, but we shall see.) To make ourselves feel better, we made a list of things we actually prefer about the United States, since we can both go on all day long about what we prefer about Europe in general and our favorite countries in particular.

The biggest thing, no pun intended, was space. He and his partner have a big house and I have a pretty darn big condo and while homes of these sizes do, indeed, exist in Europe, they’d be way, way, way, way out of our price range, or possibly very far into the countryside (or both).

Tonight I was watching Rachel Khoo’s Little Paris Kitchen show (I bought the cookbook on my Powell’s jaunt last June). I am amazed by what people in tiny kitchens can do —  I saw it in action in 2012 at my friend S’ place in Paris as well. I was just looking at her web site, and she says her entire apartment is 21 square meters. That’s 226 square feet. My condo is 1752 square feet, or almost 163 square meters.

So, yeah. Space.

Having said that, I have always had a secret dream of paring everything down and living in a totally efficient and cozy tiny place. My problem would be my books, although again my friend S squeezes tons of books into every corner of her Parisian apartment, so maybe I’d just have to be creative!

Besides the fact that it’s, well, in Paris, I’m also envying her kitchen tile, seen in the photo here. I am considering whether I could do something like that under my cabinets. Another thing to add to my maybe-to-do list!

Panic Hangover

This last week was a roller coaster — started in Member Services, where I love my cozy, surrounded-on-three-sides cubicle and my coworkers are lovely, but I’m still terrified; then went to hear David Sedaris read in Marin (he was hilarious and touching); had a blissfully lazy Thursday off; back to work Friday where I sort of froze and didn’t do so well; got an affectionate text from someone I once sort of dated, meant for whomever he’s dating now, which was awkward; screwed up a lace scarf three times before I realized I just wasn’t ever going to enjoy this pattern; and then spent Saturday trying to catch up on NaNoWriMo.

This was problematic. I had chosen for my November writing a quasi-autobiographical thing, because I thought it would be the easiest to zoom through in thirty days. No research or anything. While that is true, I am also disliking the narrator (hi! that would be me!) and finding reliving some unpleasant things (yay! divorce!) kind of harrowing.

On top of that, I’ve been writing in the dining room, when I normally spend more time in my room or in the TV room, and so I am near the cats’ water dish. I don’t know if my older cat is drinking more than usual or if I just never knew how much either of them drank because I was rarely in here. Coupled with reading on another blog about the death of a much-beloved old cat, and the depression engendered by my NaNoWriMo project, I spent last night following my cat around and actually catnapping her and making her come upstairs to sleep with me. She’s fine, really, she’s just 11.

But I lay in bed last night with my heart pounding and my stomach aflutter with worried butterflies. And today I have a hangover from it.

And it’s Sunday, which is its own day of anxiety and dread. GOOD TIMES.

I’ve been making a concerted effort to read happier things online, to avoid all but the most important news, to surround myself with uplifting things, because between work and my natural tendency toward depression and anxiety, I certainly don’t need any help being downcast.

It works, to a certain extent. Any suggestions for fun, bright, intelligent reading material or other entertainment welcome.

Lighting Advent candles soon should help too. i just bought these gorgeous handrolled beeswax candles:

 

You can buy the sheets to roll them yourself, if you're the handy sort.

You can buy the sheets to roll them yourself, if you’re the handy sort.

Now I’m off to have coffee with the same ex-sort-of-boyfriend who mis-texted me the other day. At least there’s a latte in my future, no?

Tomorrow, back to work, where I am going to try to steel myself and do better. At least I get to be ensconced in this cozy corner:

No one can pop up behind me and startle me anymore.

No one can pop up behind me and startle me anymore.

And, as always, I start the day by getting there early and making a strong cup of coffee. Whatever bribery works, eh?

Craptastic Week

It is no secret that I am not driven by career ambition. I work to support myself because I am single and not possessed of an independent fortune. That’s the only reason.

I started working full time in 1990. From that year until April 2010, I was miserable. Sometimes I was acutely miserable. Sometimes I was vaguely miserable. There were short bouts of optimism (the four times I started new jobs and thought maybe this time I will like it!), bracketed by unhappiness.

When I started my current job, there was a rough patch during probation when I was worried things might not go well. But they did, and for three and a half years I have been … content. Seriously! It was a miracle, and I do not use that term lightly. I didn’t cry every day. I didn’t contemplate wild escape plans. I didn’t dread every waking weekday moment. It was glorious!

And then this week happened.

Unlike everywhere else I’ve ever worked (or heard of), my office does rotations. They periodically blow up everything and almost everyone changes into a different unit, regardless of their talents. If I ran the universe, people would be put where they’re good and left there to excel, but that’s not how it’s done.

I liked my quiet, very-little-interaction, routine job. I got rotated into Member Services. Strangers all day every day. They’re going to make me do presentations — me, who bribed my high school government teacher by offering to do two reports for every one everyone else did as long as I didn’t have to do oral reports; me, who speaks at lightning speed when she has to speak in public; me, the most introverted person anyone knows.

I cried throughout the entire department meeting and then sobbed in the bathroom for a half hour.

Later, I did talk to HR and to the Assistant Director and they’re being compassionate. My coworkers are being great. I am still sick to my stomach.

The flip side of this disastrous coin is that this, too, is temporary. Eighteen to thirty-six months and then, God willing, I will be rotated out of there, back into the back, away from the flood of strangers and public speaking.

The HR director, who is amazed that I can travel alone, asked the other day how I could do that if Member Services terrifies me. I told her that when you’re traveling, you are working within certain parameters. You know how airports work — SFO is different from Prague’s Ruzyne, yes, but they’re airports and they function essentially the same way. Cabs, hotels, museums, restaurants — all pretty standard. (Notice that I don’t go trekking through Nepal. I go to Europe.) Sure, there can be curve balls, but basically they’re within the limits you know and understand. When my luggage got lost, or when I got the 24-hour bug and was throwing up alone in Paris, then yes, I wanted someone with me. But even then, you know how it goes — luggage shows up eventually; you feel better eventually.

Also, in these cases, you’re the stranger someone else must assist. People will generally be nice to you, or at least neutral. In Member Services, though there are some parameters, I am not the person people need to be nice to. I’m the person who needs to be nice. I’m the person who needs to take it (to a certain extent) if people are nasty or difficult, when I shut down completely during confrontation. I either get furious or I want to cry, and in either case I am speechless.

The good part is that everyone is committed to making this as non-horrible as possible. I have awesome, awesome coworkers, for whom I am genuinely grateful. They were all deeply concerned and kind; no one was saying “Pfft! She needs to get the hell over it!” Thank God.

So that was my week of deep unhappiness. I fled Friday night and was so happy that this weekend is one hour longer than the usual. Now it’s Sunday. The rotation isn’t official until a week from Tuesday, when we get back from Veteran’s Day, but there will be transitional things this week. I am going to look into getting a better doctor at Kaiser so I can get better anti-anxiety meds, and otherwise I think I need to function on autopilot for a bit.

I did, however, write my NaNoWriMo quota last night.

I get one for every day I write my quota. I forgot to take one Friday so I had two yesterday.

I get one for every day I write my quota. I forgot to take one Friday so I had two yesterday.

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.

Some Travel, Shared Backwards

Two weeks ago I went to LA; this last Thursday and Friday I went to Portland. I will recount LA second. Portland was a quick birthday trip to a) buy books at Powell’s and b) see some knitting friends and knit with them at their LYS.

My hotel was AMAZING. Thank you, hotels.com free night!

That's some headboard, eh?

That’s some headboard, eh?

...and the sitting area.

…and the sitting area.

This was some couch. Also comfy.

This was some couch. Also comfy.

This isn't a kitchenette, it's a kitchen.

This isn’t a kitchenette, it’s a kitchen.

...with a Keurig, just like home.

…with a Keurig, just like home.

kitchen-desk-tv

Kitchen/desk/mondo TV

I got in around 11, dropped my stuff off at the amazing hotel, and jumped into the streetcar to Powell’s. Ah, bliss.

Walking into nirvana:

Deep breath!

Deep breath!

 

Everything you see here, except the stuff facing you at the end, is knitting books. Just knitting books.

If it ain't here, they didn't publish it, methinks.

If it ain’t here, they didn’t publish it, methinks.

Part of the ceiling of the blue (literature) room:

I spent a lot of time in this room.

I spent a lot of time in this room.

And clearly they are used to tourists:

No need to hit the cambio!

No need to hit the cambio!

 

I spent a few hours and a bunch of money there and then went back, checked into the hotel, quaffed some coffee and a Luna bar (“why do I have a headache? Oh…I had a bagel at SFO this morning and nothing since!”) and then met some fibery friends for dinner at a brewpub. I had cider, being a non-beer-girl, and some fantastic salmon. Then we went to Pearl Fiber Arts, where I was welcomed into the Thursday night wine-and-knitting group. I also bought some pretties.

photo-5

My friends dropped me at my hotel; I luxuriated in the suite. I wished I could stay a few nights! There was no tub, which was the only drawback (I had a handicapped-accessible suite) but the doubleheaded showerheads at either end of the shower made up for it.

I packed:

What do YOU put in YOUR suitace?

What do YOU put in YOUR suitace?

There was also this pretty book for my great-niece:

Blue horse!

Blue horse!

Next day, back to Powell’s, where I had this conversation with the cashier:

Me: (Explained I was up for my birthday)

She: Thirtieth?

Me: Oh, you’re so cute! Forty-six.

She: You look good!

Aw.

Went and had lunch at a brewpub a couple of blocks away, where I had gone with a friend in 2009 when I was last in Portland. More ciders!

Local-ish cider. Yum.

Local-ish cider. Yum.

I had two. I reckon that if every Friday lunch had a couple of ciders, life would be much nicer.

There’s a sign to the bathrooms that points and says, “Over here.” When you turn in the direction of the pointer, you see:

Well, that's what they said!

Well, that’s what they said!

And you also get to see beer in progress on your way:

Fresh!

Fresh!

Outside, there are fleurs:

Pretty!

Pretty!

I hopped the streetcar back to the hotel, got a taxi, and went to hang at PDX for awhile. Bought a couple more books at Powell’s at PDX (last gasp!) and then got on the flight. Where the Indian guy in the middle was hitting up the girl by the window, even though she told him she was thirteen and going into eighth grade. I ended up buying beef jerky for her because she only had cash and they only took debit or credit cards (she paid me, of course). Got in a half hour early, my sister came and got me, and I didn’t leave the house for the next thirty-six hours. I’ve already finished one of the books I bought (Catilin Moran’s How to be a Woman) and am working on a couple more.

Back to work tomorrow. Alas!