Bible Verse of the Day

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

I Went Back on Antidepressants/Tenth Year Anniversary of the Death of Dreams

Image courtesy of creozavr on Pixabay. Creative Commons licensed.

I went back on antidepressants, and it's not helping.

It's not the fault of the antidepressants. They work like a champ on my SAD--seasonal affective disorder. No, it's just that too damn much else is happening in my life. So I'm going to vent. Lucky you!

I post on Twitter under a pseudonym because it gives me some much-needed freedom to say whatever I feel I need to say. I don't abuse others, but I don't hold back when it comes to my opinions or my thoughts about life, the universe, and everything. Yesterday, I tweeted something like, "I think I might have just quit my job."

The reasons why and the story behind the tweet are complicated (still no resolution at hand), but my feelings are shifting all over the place about it. To know why, we have to rewind 10 years.

We are coming up on the anniversary of the day our lives ended, as I used to think of it. My husband's place of business died, Lehman Brothers was told, "no bailout for you," and the stock market began its months-long, extreme crash that killed our investments. I remember feeling like a deer in headlights, watching the approaching disaster, and not able to do a damned thing about it.

I'll never forget Monday, September 15, 2008. The panic had not yet set in. Eventually, it did.

Fast forward to Spring, 2015, and the job I landed. I've been there 3 1/4 years. If I leave, I know I'll feel that old panic about not receiving a paycheck. [OMG! We're going to starve! We'll lose the house!] So I'm feeling panicked about not working again. It's an emotional reaction. We are so much better off than we were in late 2008 that the panic is, honestly, irrational.

But who said emotional reactions were rational?

That unholy mess, plus an insane number of committments, including training for the Kentucky Senior Games for my shot at going to the National Games, and I am feeling an incredible amount of pressure. Nothing in my life feels right. (Except when I exercise, which exorcises demons.)

This, too, shall pass. At least, I keep telling myself that.

Back to work.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

I Don't Know What to Call This Post

Nietjuh on Pixabay. Creative Commons licenced.
Don't worry, this is not really a political post. It's more about class blindness and frugality and hungry people. If you consider talking about hunger political, well, bless your heart. The rest of you, bear with me, K?

Sometimes the best way to see the wealth divide in this country is to read what middle-class/up-mid class folks read in their off time. I imagine most of us would include NPR in that class group, right?

Recently NPR posted an article about how to reduce food waste.

"Here's advice from one family who significantly cut back on food waste for three months:
▪️ Plan out meals for the week to reduce excess food purchases ▪️ Know when food is actually spoiled ▪️ Stray from recipes ▪️ Study personal food waste"
Someone on Twitter reposted the NPR link with this rather savage comment:

Or, you could lose your job/income and need to eat everything you have, along with lots of rice and beans. Both have a great shelf life and are cheap as fuck....

These days, I'm probably considered middle class, though I grew up much poorer: I have a graduate degree, I own a home, I have health insurance, I own a paid-off car, I have a decent job, and I can go to the grocery story without flinching too much at the prices or counting my money before I get in the checkout line. (In the past, I have done the latter, however, hundreds of times.)

I live in a state with a high degree of what is called "food insecurity" these days. Nationally, as of 2016, "41 million people struggle with hunger in the United States, including 13 million children and 5 million seniors. A household that is food insecure has limited or uncertain access to enough food to support a healthy life."

The disconnect between those with plenty--the NPR audience, for the most part--and those who don't have squat really bothers me. When people are hungry, there is no planning meals, there is no "buying local," there is often no using recipes (you just throw crap together, BT, DT), and most of all, there is no "food waste." You eat everything you've got. You're hungry! (Disclaimer: I have been hungry because I did not have enough money to buy sufficient food for months at a time.)

Yes, if you have plenty, don't waste food, by all means. I do my best never to throw anything away. But get out of your own head now and then, and think about what the people down the street might be doing to get by. Yes, I'm talking about the folks who moved out in the middle of the night because they'd been foreclosed on. (Do you cluck over how they ran and that they had a better car than you?) Foreclosure is still a thing. Our neighborhood has one or two foreclosed homes almost all the time.

Give to your local food bank today. Do whatever else you can if your life is bountiful. And, again, if you consider talking about hunger "political," well, bless your heart. Sure hope you don't consider yourself a Christian.

Did I make you angry?

Good.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Tea Time

I'm sitting here with a mug of sweet, milky (decaf) tea while I ponder the events of the past couple of days.

Libertad on pixabay.
Creative Commons licensed.
Someone I once knew recommended hot tea with milk and sugar when feeling distraught or down. Because it's evening, my tea is decaf, but she was right. Something about the combination works to make one feel better.

I'm not normally a tea drinker. I'm mad for strong coffee. I've loved coffee since I started drinking it at 15 (instant with evaporated milk while listening to moody protest songs way back when--instant because that's all my parents drank).

However, decaf tea later in the day (Twinings Irish Breakfast decaf) hits the spot with me. Especially with a European-style, not too sweet cookie like Biscoff.

Work has been tough the past couple of days, lots of brouhaha, which is unusual for my employer. Unfortunately, I've gotten very little real work done and am feeling the pressure of how much I need to do this week. Today we went to the neurologist in Lexington to see what might be going on with my husband. So far, any dementia illness has been ruled out. They took blood to check a couple of things and sometime soon there will be a brain scan to rule out things like tumors and lesions. I suspect we'll end up with a "it's just one of those things, we can't find anything wrong" diagnosis. As frustrating as that can be (I have one of those in my past), it's better than having a tumor.
Kitty

My Kitty weighs on my mind a lot these days. She's old and sick and not doing as well as she had been. Sunday night she got under my feet and I stepped on her. When she screeched, I tried to get off her paw, lost my balance, fell, and put a nasty scrape on one forearm, the whole length of it. That wasn't the worst part. The worst was that Kitty wouldn't get near me for hours, looking upset that I'd hurt her. Man, I hated that. Thankfully, 24 hours later, we were all made up.

Just sitting at my desk, writing this blog while having the tea and cookie is calming. Tomorrow is another day. Things will work out. Think I'll have another cookie...


Saturday, August 18, 2018

No Words. Well, Some.

Courtesy of rwayne307 on Pixabay. Creative Commons licensed.
I'm taking a deep breath, astonished that it is already Saturday. The last time I posted here was Sunday. Six days ago. WTF.

It's been a week filled with meetings at church (4 at last count), work, seeing people I needed to see, fighting fires of all types, working out like a fiend for the Kentucky Senior Games, and playing bridge (it's a card game, for those who don't know) for the first time in probably 30 years.

Honestly, last night I was toasted, and not in the good way.

The coming week looks to be similar. My husband goes for a consult on Tuesday regarding memory issues. I'm nervous about it--more another time. There's a big picnic I need to attend. There are people I need to reach out to who are in distress. I'm trying to figure out the best time to see an old friend from my salad days who is a delight (we recently reconnected). Of course, there's always work. Of course, there will be fires of all types to fight. Did I mention I volunteered to be on the search committee for a new music director at church? Holy crap, what was I thinking? I don't need one more thing to do!

And yet, it was a good week. I felt needed and that I did useful stuff, especially when brainstorming worship themes for September. It was wonderful to spend time with my old friend. It was cozy to feel (re)connected with people at church. I enjoyed some positive feedback regarding my work. (How nice to feel appreciated!) I received support from friends about my husband and his possible medical outcomes.

And it was especially, especially good to play bridge again.

I'm not much of a player--my husband has won tournaments playing bridge, while I'm mediocre--but it was a real stretch and probably good for my brain. I was astonished at how much I remembered about the game. And I had a thoroughly smashing-good time. Last night I fell asleep early, exhausted by the week and the mental energy expended at bridge, but it was that good kind of tired.

So, while at times this past week I felt like the tree surrounded by rocks (above), notice that the tree is green and apparently thriving. I can't keep up the pace for long, being a staunch introvert, but for a short while, it's all right. It might even be good for me.

But I don't like that it has cut into my blogging and thinking time.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Runner

Courtesy of intographics on Pixabay. Creative Commons licensed.
Not me in real life.
I began running a little over seven years ago as a way to lose the last ten pounds or so after I'd already lost perhaps 45 pounds. I was walking a lot and eating properly, but no weight was disappearing, so I decided to jog a little. At first I lasted only 30 seconds. But I persisted.

I never, ever counted on falling in love with it.

How wrong I've been in life, repeatedly. (See previous post, "But What If We're Wrong?") These days, although I don't run every step of the way, I can put in four miles and am running much of it at about a 10 minute pace. It is an enormous achievement that I am proud of. Not everyone starts running at 60.

I was never an athlete, you understand. I was the high school brain and ended up salutatorian without trying very hard. (Not a brag--I loved schoolwork and it simply happened. I didn't know my class position until the beginning of my second semester senior year.) I've traditionally enjoyed intellectual pursuits and artistic endeavors, not getting all sweaty. I thought sweaty was gross. While I've always liked to walk and used to run a lot just for fun as a kid, I was definitely not an athlete in HS, except for part of one season spent as a second-string basketball guard. (Got kicked off the team for smoking cigarettes. Poets often smoke, you know.)

I found that exercise in general, but especially running, was exceedingly beneficial in the dark years after September 15, 2008. It helped me feel better about myself at a time when I had a shitty self-image and too many feelings to contain inside me, including some extremely toxic ones. Running helped me expel frustration and fear and anger--no, make that rage, not merely anger. I often worked out listening to Green Day's "Twenty-First Century Breakdown" and "American Idiot." (And still do...)

Yesterday, I did four miles. Today, I went to the gym and ran on the indoor track, then exhausted myself on the rower and weight machines because of the sadness I felt. The music director of our church, probably 40 years younger than me with his whole life ahead of him, is leaving for a Big City Up North. I'm certain this man will go far and make a name for himself in the music world. I am completely happy and excited for him and his new opportunities. But I am, quite selfishly, sad for us at my church, and for me. It's going to suck without him and his snarky wit around. Hands down, he's the best choir director I've ever known, and I've known a few. He's also a damn fine human being.

Thankfully, running is my friend. It helps me unwind the spooky energy that builds in me when I am overfull of feelings. It quite literally has saved my sanity at times. I've occasionally cried while running. Today was one of those times.


Saturday, August 11, 2018

Friday, August 10, 2018

Grrrrr

Courtesy Tumisu on Pixabay. Creative Commons licensed.
I am angry today. Too many things need fixing that aren't getting fixed and I am simply livid over the state of the union.

I will breathe. I will act where and how I can. I will not take out my bad mood on anyone else. And I will remember that the day holds work, wine, bridge, exercise, and other things I enjoy. I have love and a home and plenty of food, clean water, and air conditioning/heating.

It's Buddha time.

I hope you have a tranquil Friday.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

But What If We're Wrong?

If someone had told me 40 years ago that I would truly love Japanese food at some point in the future, I would have laughed and asked what they'd been smoking. When I was just short of 24, I had gone to a Japanese restaurant for someone's birthday and did not understand what all the fuss was about. Didn't like the flavors at all. I didn't eat Japanese food again until 1988, when I was in NYC on business and decided to see what all the fuss was about re: sushi. (Sushi was big in the Eighties.) I tried a vegetarian variety, and liked it a great deal, along with sake. Still, it was a few more years before I began seeking out sushi on a regular basis. Then I tried other Japanese food, such as udon noodle soup (yasai udon, at a lovely hole in the wall north of Watertown Square, near Boston, long gone I suspect). Then it was Vietnamese food and pho. Now it's just about anything Japanese (and Vietnamese) I can find, IF it's good quality--not a lot of that when it comes to Japanese and Vietnamese food in east central Kentucky. (I admit I have not tried raw fish--but if I could go to a reputable sushi place in a big coastal city, I'd ready for it.)

Photo courtesy of langll on Pixabay.
Creative Commons licensed.
The point of all this is not to give you an exhaustive tour of my food obsessions, but rather to segue into a book I began reading: "But What If We're Wrong?" by Chuck Klosterman. Like my first foray into Japanese food, in the beginning I couldn't see what all the fuss was about re: this book. It meanders all around and makes me impatient. CK spends a lot of time talking about what makes something "great" (for lack of a better adjective). First it's literature, then it's 20th century rock music and its evolution into hip-hop. He's got me now, I admit, with the last topic.

The book takes a skewed look at how none of us can predict what will be popular or considered "great" in the future. I recently read something (God knows where or when or by whom) about how humans are notoriously poor at predicting the future, even the near future. The book nails this statement to the wall and insists you study it and accept it.

When I look back at my life, I see now that I could not have predicted most of it--practically all of it, honestly.

So what makes me think I can predict the future? Why do I keep trying?

That's hard for me to swallow, because I am a planner. Boy, am I a planner. Plans often change, but in the planning, I've found, I've come up with ways to deal with the unexpected. That's the real value of it. ("Plans are worthless, but planning is everything." -- Dwight D. Eisenhower, general and US president)

One thing I could have never predicted was that I would end up retired in Kentucky. Or that I would live for 13 years in NJ between Massachusetts and here. Or that Japanese food would end up being my favorite Asian cuisine, more than Thai, far more than any type of Chinese. (And if I could have predicted the 2008 crash, well, let's just say my life would be way different.)

Keep planning. But watch out for life along the way. And always have a backup plan, even if it's crap.

P.S. Korean is the one cuisine I'm still trying to love, at least dishes like bibimbap, which leaves me cold. Those who have eaten bibimbap will get the wordplay.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

TCB Finally

No, not the old yogurt chain TCB(Y). We're taking care of business today.

I can't believe we grew this old without making any will or the usual proxies, etc., especially considering we are very much in the assisted suicide/DNR camp.

Today is the first step.

Why am I scared?

I think it must be facing my own mortality. And my husband's as well. That medical appointment is looming large.

Memento mori, all.
Courtesy of rottonara on Pixabay. Creative Commons licensed.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Second Post

Sometimes a news item is so evocative I must share it. I want to write a story about lonely people who sleep in 24 hour places.

Please read this article. It's worth it.

Why so many people sleep in McDonald's in Hong Kong


Antsy

“Things are going to get a lot worse before they get worse.” -- Lily Tomlin
Courtesy of johnhain on Pixabay. Creative Commons licensed
I'm not feeling down or depressed today. Nor was I yesterday. I simply feel... restless. Antsy. And I don't know why.

Perhaps I haven't exercised enough (although I have been walking pretty hard in the heat). Maybe it's because I desperately need to travel somewhere (it would help, I imagine, to get out of town). Maybe I'm tired of working (too bad on that one--I gotta suck it up). I'm sleeping ok. I'm eating pretty well. I'm not abusing any substances (5 oz of wine daily is not abuse). And I'm disengaging from crazy-making news and paying no attention to those who would diss me online. (I use Twitter under an assumed name to blow off steam when I can't take the madness anymore.) I miss my grandson--that affects me, too. So... why?

I did recently stop taking my antidepressants, but for a good reason: historically I don't need them this time of year. I have winter SAD, not summer SAD. And I should have stopped taking them a month ago. I just didn't think about it. But, somehow, I don't think that's it.

I believe what's happening is simply anxiety. Kitty is going downhill, and I love that little spitfire. She's noticeably less fiery these days. I'm not traveling because she is so attached to me that she visibly suffers when I'm gone--stops eating, hides, clearly grieves. So, no. My heart won't let me leave for days on end.

I'm concerned about a doctor's appointment that will happen in two weeks, although we probably won't learn anything at the initial visit. It causes all manner of thoughts. I try not to obsess. It isn't easy because Obsession is my middle name. And here you thought it was something beginning with L.

It's hard to sit in the chair and write. And I have a stack of work to do, unfortunately.

Right now, I'm saying, enough is enough. I'll go exercise and do some much-needed food shopping. It will help, I think, if I simply get my butt out of the chair and move.

Stepping away from the computer now in an effort to achieve some serenity. May today be a tranquil one for you.

(Just noticed the Bible verse of the day--Isaiah 41:13, in case you read this post later than August 7. What a kick in the pants. It's automated, so I don't control which verse appears. It's been claimed that "fear not" occurs 365 times in the Bible. I have no idea if that's true. Still a kick in the pants, regardless. Today I shall be fearless whenever possible.)
Courtesy of Pexels on Pixabay. Creative Commons Licensed

Monday, August 06, 2018

The Water of Connection

Berea City Park
I recently celebrated my birthday and found it interesting as to who remembered or wished me well. It came hard on the heels of reconnecting with a college roommate whom I first met... a lot of years ago. We had a drink and a snack in Lexington and have decided to renew the friendship.

A friendship from that long ago and since resumed is a little like a blurred photo--it's not in focus because some parts shifted, but it's still the same person. We're both going through a lot of changes at the moment and not sure where our futures will lead us--or even if one or both of us will stay in Kentucky. We first met at a college in northern NJ, and she's a New Englander, so to have both ended up in KY about 40 miles apart is rather astonishing.

I am very much looking forward to resuming our friendshipus interruptus.

One of my very oldest friends called me to wish me well a couple of days later. Our paths have diverged rather sharply when compared to who we both were in December, 1975, when we first encountered each other, and yet that connection remains. At one time we were close enough that he became my daughter's godfather.

Last week was also filled with (relatively) new friends. One dear person took me out to lunch--what a lovely time we had! Another friend shared wine and conversation with me twice last week. I also went walking with new acquaintances and it's developing into a weekly habit. It's all good.

So why do I feel so conflicted about a lot of things? Perhaps it's normal aging angst. Perhaps it's that my heart will always live in Massachusetts. Perhaps it's because I dearly miss my daughter, son-in-law, and grandson. Perhaps it's the health uncertainties facing my husband.

Connections are like water to me. They ebb and flow. They reflect the tears we sometimes shed. They can wash us clean or their steam can burn us. They can dry up as we enter the desert of one of life's seasons. But they are the reason we are human beings. We need community and connection to thrive.

As an extreme introvert, I do my best to remember this fact on days when I don't want to do anything but pull covers over my head.