Monthly Archives: December 2013

Happy New (Solstice) Year!

Happy New Year!

Wow. According to archaeoastronomy.com , the 2013’s winter solstice occurs in the central US region at 11:11am. The “make a wish” time of day. I have no idea if the site is reputable, but in keeping with one of my few New Year’s resolutions, I am not going to spend the next hour digging around for other resources. OK, maybe I’ll look for just one. . .

A quick trip to good ole Wikipedia (have you donated a few bucks lately?) captures my resonance with our ancestors.

  • The winter solstice may have been immensely important because communities were not certain of living through the winter, and had to be prepared during the previous nine months.
  • Starvation was common during the first months of the winter, January to April (northern hemisphere) or July to October (southern hemisphere), also known as “the famine months”.
  • In temperate climates, the midwinter festival was the last feast celebration, before deep winter began.
  • Most cattle were slaughtered so they would not have to be fed during the winter, so it was almost the only time of year when a supply of fresh meat was available.
  • The majority of wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking at this time.

Don’t get me wrong, I am more than grateful to not have to worry about overall survival (at least to date—part of me does fear the end days). But what I sense underneath these observations is an overall uncertainty. Will the sun come back? Will the ground come back to life? How long do we have to wait to take off these stinky sheep goat skins?

Otzi the Ice Man A 5,300 year-old (Neolithic) mummified corpse (nicknamed Otzi) found in the Austrian-Italian Alps in 1991 was discovered wearing “leggings, loincloth and jacket made of deer and goat hide; a cape made of grass and the bark of the linden tree; a hat of bearskin; shoes insulated with grass, with bearskin soles and goatskin uppers.” (McKie, Robin for The Observer Sunday May 4, 2003)

Uh-oh. That was not a quick trip. 20 minutes or so later, I dug up some information about the clothing of Neolithic agrarians, the purported first builders of Stonehenge. I wanted to check on the veracity of the sheep skin claim. I found no mention of sheep skip, but did read that tanned goat hides were used. So were capes woven from grass. Read more at a Brief History of World Costume. Again, no guarantees on source validity.

Time to wrap up. I had intended to write about resolutions for this year, but I could not help falling down the rabbit hole. I will force myself to stop and just post without going back to scrutinize. Because my biggest goal of all is to temper my “maladaptive perfectionism”* which so often compromises my ability to bring projects across the finish line—small and big, trivial and important.

*Must. Resist. Urge. to look up maladaptive perfectionism to check my usage.

Marathon Prologue (or, I need to start somehow)

The marathon ended nearly two months ago, and I still have not finished this post. Writing about it has felt harder than those last tortuous miles. Not that I *need* to write about it. There’s no assignment to complete, no deadline to meet. But I guess the same can be said of running. They are both something I enjoy, even when the steps and words plod and slog along.

I also write to record, because memories tend to slide off my Teflon brain. [1] Without journals, family, friends, and colleagues to fill in the blanks, my past would feel like grocery store shelves before a major weather event.

But why write about this event? For me, the marathon was not a Big Deal. With a solid résumé of moderately impressive physical feats (such as riding a mountain bike nearly 100 miles loaded with camping gear on a hot summer day with the Midwest version of Montezuma’s revenge), I have approached the distance with a mixture of confidence and respect. Confidence that I can handle the distance due to mental tenacity and baseline/latent fitness. Respect for those who train intensely to meet ambitious time goals, as well as those for whom simply crossing the finish line, or even just lining up at the start, is, indeed, a Big Deal.

I want to write about the marathon because it:

1)      yielded some funny stories

2)      kicked my butt and schooled me, big time

3)      made me want to approach next year’s marathon as my own Big Deal

4)      might be of interest to others considering the race, cough, Clare, Megan, Jessica, and Joe

Well, it is time for bed, and I am just going to post this, without a picture or even much of a point. At least I am at the starting line. (Only took me about a year to finally write about it!)


[1] Does Teflon date me as a child of the Reagan era? Do people use that as a reference point anymore?

Dash to 2014

Awake at 6am on a Sunday: an auspicious start to my 2014 dress rehearsal. I am ready to start the new year, or maybe it is more accurate to say that I am eager to end this one. 2013 has not been particularly bad, especially compared to the years of freefall depression I used to have before being treated for bipolar disorder. Thanks, I think, to the trifecta of meds I am on, the elevator cable doesn’t snap. The metaphor is a little safer, and more nuanced now.

I see a bank of elevators. Perhaps one is related to parenting, another to our home, another to community involvement, etc. I can see that I am not stuck or bottomed out in all areas. I feel like I am doing a pretty good job being Miguel’s mom. I have worries and insecurities of course, but I know our love and trust is steel-strong; for once, I am ok with these simple measures. Though I get frustrated with what seems like two steps forward, one back progress on the home front (which includes the building, garden, and parkway project), I love the work, we’re always checking things off the never ending to-do list, crises are rare, and when they do occur, we have so far had the resources to address them. No matter how bad things get in my brain, gratitude for our home and full table is always close to my heart.

My community involvement goals get stuck in between floors. I have backed off from some projects I care a lot about (Bike Winter, Kidical Mass, the Goethe website), and am not thrilled with the quality of my contributions to those I have committed to (Goethe’s LSC, the 26th Ward Transportation Committee, Friends of Kimball Park, and I am sure I am forgetting something, which is not a good sign!)  This is compounded by the overall feeling that I should be doing more in terms of local politics (I love you Elise!), education reform (you too, Cassie), social justice issues (and Michael, Eric, and Julie) and Goethe’s Holiday Bizarre (Jessica and too many others to mention).   I take some solace knowing that at other times of my life, I did more. And I give myself some credit for smaller, closer to home contributions, such as taking over the parkway and trying to be a good friend.* To keep the metaphor going, this elevator is kind of slow, lurching, and sometimes simply out of order.** It makes other people take the stairs more often than I would like. But, once I put some money in the budget for the overdue maintenance, I hope to carry more of the load.

I am grateful to be able to see some positives. So much of my life was spent with dark cloud vision and toxic inner voices.

But I still have bottomed out elevators, stuck below the basement. Important ones. Some are missing parts, others just need repairs. A few might need to be replaced.

The other day, I skimmed through my journal from this year. I noticed a few things:

1)      I am obsessed with the weather. From April to June, I consistently bitched about how cold and wet it was.

2)      I had a lot of fun times with friends. Many reports of great meals, outings, and adventures.

3)      I have been really low and generally disgusted with myself due to consistent, perhaps persistent, perhaps sometimes perceived, failures in the following areas:  work, weight, writing, wishes, and my word

Well, now it is 10pm, and one thing I want to do better in 2014 is go to bed early. Maybe I should add waking to my w list of woes, warts, and worries.

* Not sure I should count raising money for Girls on the Run via the Chicago Marathon since 1) my friends and family are the ones making the main contributions and 2) there is some self-interest due to the marathon entry.

**Kind of reminds me of some of the old buildings downtown that rent to non-profits, such as Michael’s office when he worked at the Statewide Housing Action Coalition.  Hmmmm.