Monthly Archives: March 2022

poop on my shoe

photo of a kitchen counter near a back door. counter is clear except for vintage light aqua containers and a fir green kitchenaid mixer and some notes in the corner.

I crave clear counters but am not immune to clutter. So long as a few key surfaces gleam, visual chaos elsewhere doesn’t bother me. The area by the kitchen window can turn into an archeological site before I start getting twitchy.  But because I cannot ignore odds and ends on the back door counter, it’s my last line of defense against forgetfulness.

I am still more of a list than plan maker. And I’m not even consistent with my list- making modalities, toggling between bullet journals and apps and place-based reminders such as post-it notes in my office. And, wait a second, this is a legit epiphany…. I guess I also use my memory.

I have never, in the last 40 years, given myself credit for the things I *do* remember to do in spite of my poor self management systems. (I picked 40 because I think my insecurities about organization, self-disciple and productivity started around 3rd grade.)

This insight doesn’t have major practical implications. It’s just sort of nice to know that my brain has occasionally stepped into the breach to make sure shit gets done without having an exoskeleton of written reminders.

OK so this is where I wonder about other people’s brains. I have terrible short term memory. Was at a coffee shop today that required a code to access the restroom. I was almost more confident in my ability to hold my pee during the hour commute home than to hold 4 numbers (plus star!) for the 10 feet to the door. Given off-peak transit service, I decided not to risk option 1. Thankfully, I dodged the test bc someone was leaving as I walked up.

How easy is it for others to remember 4 numbers? I’m sure it’s all over the place but I think it’s cool that some of us have water tight brain bags and others of us may be leaking all over the place but our permeability is a strength in other situations.

I reckon this is neurodiveristy 101 kind of stuff but I also think about the shame so many folks have about  their brains so….

Oh FFS I am so far away from (but also at the exact same place as) where I started. I wanted to say something about the note reminding me that there’s poop on my shoes.

And really??? snow??? April Fool’s Eve, I see you.

photo from window of backyard with dusting of snow. tree has string of white lights. it's evening

This might not be the year

OK, as things stand today, I am about ready to ditch this project, let go of this idea that I will somehow be in a better place by the time I hit a new year. Maybe I just need to start planning for 51.

It’s hard to feel motivated to write here  when I can’t get into what’s really going on, share what’s most real and pressing.

I wonder about all the unwritten stories others hold close.

It’s hard to feel motivated to write here when I keep sanding down the edges.

If I’m only going to nibble at the margins, what’s the point? But just doing this one thing, keeping this one small promise to myself, is giving me something to hold on to.

close up of a woman's face, light complexion, half way in shadow, sad expression

Loaded Transit

photo of subway signage hanging on tunnel wall across platform. main sign says logan square.

(freewriting from today’s commute)

Writing during today’s trip downtown. Kimball bus to the Blue line. Didn’t have anything in mind as I left the house, so tried to remember my go to prompts from when I taught.

  • remember /forget
  • remember /reflect
  • I wonder
  • ode
  • pebble
  • grateful for
  • angry about
  • the important thing is

Mid day service can be spotty, especially with Covid, so I felt some urgency. But when I saw the bus pulling away, I didn’t panic because I knew one was close behind. Put the transit tracker app on my gratitude list.

Maybe bus bunching falls in the I wonder why category. Eh, I kind of know why. Maybe that’s a better prompt for younger writers. Maybe worry is better but I already pick at that thread plenty. Or maybe why can’t we? Like why can’t we provide better funding for transit and housing… or why won’t we… and why haven’t I… and while these are all good questions, I need more knowledge and screen real estate to write about them.

My teen recently insisted we exit from the back of the bus. I usually go for the exit closest to where I’m sitting and/or where I’m going. They reminded me that the recorded announcement asks passengers to exit from the back which makes sense for traffic flow. Got me thinking about the little choices we make in public space… as well as how I don’t notice the announcements anymore. Just the background music. Even though it doesn’t matter as much when it’s not crowded, it’s a good habit and reminds others to do the right thing. Kind of like masking early on in the pandemic.

I was confused when they said people don’t move to the back of the bus because of the stairs. What stairs? The realization that despite years of taking the “new” style of bus, my muscle memory puts the stairs at the front. I’m rembering struggling to wrangle a stroller up those stairs. And don’t I have an unfinished post from a few years ago about the green limosene?

Odes were my signature. I could give CTA the Neruda treatment.

Can’t believe it took me 15 years to figure out the Spaulding entrance. Thinking about insider transit knowledge and all the micro decisions and tricks. To be closest to the station exit at Clark and Lake, board the front car. But if you decide to go one more stop, perhaps to access the pedway because we are still in why do I live where my face hurts weather, the front car leaves you so far back you are basically in the subway tunnel.

These plus 100 other threads were dangling before me as I hit the first step down. By the bottom they were Chem trails

Happy Birthday, Sprocket

I’m taking this as a cheat day. Just gonna copy and paste what I posted to FB earlier today.

tree bare of trees in front of the back of a three story brick building

This is a year of benchmarks for those in the base 10 universe. Closed on our building 20 years ago and I think it may have been almost this cold. We biked from Wicker Park to Hyde Park for a cashier’s check and then to Jefferson Park to close then to Logan to wander around our new home in daze.
I’ll be turning 50 in June. 20th wedding anniversary in August.

Lots of complicated feelings about where I am in life but gratitude always remains top of the pile.

brought to me by the letter H

When my vision is hazy, alliteration often helps me harness and hone my thoughts.

A quarter of the way into this 100 day countdown, I have been hand wringing about my lack of focus, direction and ‘progress.’ Part of the problem is that I haven’t clearly hammered out my goals , let alone hashed out a plan for meeting them.*

It’s tempting to wave off the last 25 days of writing as hollow, haphazard, hapless (to further prove that I am an inchoate mess), but I can see the threads. I’ve been writing about healing and healing through writing.

That’s all well, good, hunky dory, but my sights are a little higher. Improve my health, declutter (there’s a lot of stuff I don’t need to carry into the next decade)

healing, health, home….

figure out professional next steps (head?)

Now I had a letter to hang ideas and hook some more…

hobbies, honor (living according to values), hands (OK this is a stretch…. stands in for community), heart (family)

Domains are much easier for me to work with than goals! Speaking of health, I’m going to choose sleep over polishing this right now)

*One of my goals is to be able to make and follow a plan (the elusive competence)

Putting Christmas Away (plus anger)

Winter rarely leaves without a fight so I shouldn’t be surprised but 20’s in late March? Low blow!

large boxes, one overflowing, full of Christmas ornaments at bottom of stairs in a building's foyer.

While it’s unlikely that my housekeeping has any effect on the weather (besides being a consumer who contributes to climate change), I decided to put away the Christmas decorations just in case. Maybe they were serving as a temperature tether. They have been down for awhile, but hadn’t quite migrated to the basement (glacial movement strikes again).

I’ve always felt curious and tender when passing homes with remnants of holidays that have long past.

From late September to early December, I am all about the Halloween to winter solstice decorating continuum. Knowing my tendency to be glacial about putting things away. . .

OK. so I started writing this afternoon and then some life happened and I would like to keep writing but I am so angry right now. Like top 1% of my anger odometer.

Sequence of my thoughts

  • I want to punch a wall (I already accidentally broke the meat thermometer while rage cleaning it.)
  • Of course, I am not going to punch a wall
  • Deep breath. I am not my emotions.
  • And it’s also OK to feel this way
  • What does anger feel like to other people?
  • How do my anger levels and management compare to others?
  • I wonder why more people don’t lose control of thelr anger. I think we could do a better job of complimenting people when they keep their cool. 0h goodness I just had an image of potty training. It’s all about the positive reinforcement of dropping the load where it belongs.
  • Why does anger sometimes want to manifest in such physical ways? I know I can ask the internet, heck go through my own files, but I’m going to sit with my own curiosity for a moment.
  • How much of my anger management is actually maladaptive supression?
  • Maladaptive or not, I think I do a decent job of not losing control. I really try not to blow up at people, esp my kid.
  • Then again, blowing up can take many forms. It can be a loud explosion or silent poison gas. It can be scatter shot bluster or a few sharp cuts. It can be flying fists or a jaw clenched under dagger eyes. Aggressive aggressive or passive aggressive. Just because I’m not a yeller doesn’t mean I don’t make my feelings known.
  • What’s so bad about anger anyway? Ideally it would be a signal. Hey, something is not right. Time to problem solve! But of course that’s not always easy. My anger often stems from feelings of real and perceived helplessness, uncertainty, and cowardice.
  • I guess anger is like fire. It can illuminate and it can burn. I want to use my anger to problem solve, not hurt.

Well. Tonight I didn’t punch a wall or lash out at my kid. After I reminded myself that I am not my emotions, I started to calm myself by counting objects hanging on the kitchen wall. Then I wrote.

I am still having feelings of anger, but I’m in charge of them.

Hmmm. I should bring this back to the beginning. Maybe I needed this day to remind me to keep my cool and manage my stuff?

close up of a plant with one deep pink bloom. a little snow is on leaves
Hellabores do a great job holding up to snow.

handwriting

photo of an ornate hanging light and  ceiling. sort of a honeycomb pattern. maybe stamped tin?

Took a break from phone pecking and wrote in a notebook while eating breakfast downtown in a beautiful old building I’d never stumbled into before. Maybe beautiful isn’t the word. Ornate to contemporary eyes, but more bread and butter back in the day.

I rambled a bit about perimenopause and started writing about wanting to be more focused with this writing project but hit a block and then was saved by the check.

Rumor and Meatball

Intense day so I think I’ll follow yesterday’s lead and stay light or at least avoid the introspection riptides.

Micheal suggested I write about Rumor, our slinky, nimble, clumsy, indefatigable, snugglebug. We adopted her almost year ago, somewhat impulsively.

It’s a good story, involving Texas, amateur pilots, nearly dislocated shoulders, heartworm, baby food, and soul searching.

But I don’t think I can write about Rumor without honoring Meatball, our family’s first dog, He died March 2nd last year. He was an anchor, a muse, a companion, and the star of most of our Airbnb reviews. His decline was unexpected, sudden, swift and devastating.

But I don’t think I can write about Meatball without weeping. Would be easier if I could find my brain /heart dump from the day he crossed the rainbow bridge. Was on a pile of scrap paper that I stashed in a “special place.”

Drat. So much for being light.

I could write for hours but should call it a night. Intense day.

heaving heuchera

Not gonna lean into stress and distress tonight.

Ooooooo, mmmmm, nor am I going to fall down the rabbit hole of researching the difference between stress and distress esp because my quick search introduced a new word, eustress, which sounds like something related to Brexit but I guess is the peppy, motivating counterpart to distress.

Instead I am going to spend some time on the garden which is actually maybe an example of eustress but I’m not going there. Must. Resist. Digressions.

I love heuchera, also known as coral bells and alumroot. Wait a second… h*eu*chera?? OK, there goes my willpower.

Pop quiz. I think “eu” means something like true, whole, essence. I looked it up earlier this year when my kid was learning about eukaryotes and prokaryotes.

heuchera near a front door. green/burgundy leaves with spires of milky white flowers

Just checked. Its primary meaning is good/pleasant. True works too. So I’ll give myself a B.

What’s the eu doing in heuchera?* Maybe because it is a really good plant, at least for me.  Thrives in most conditions, including neglect.  Foliage holds up nearly all year. Spreads but will not take over. Native to North America. Due to hybridization, comes in many colors, including my fave: burgundy (does

The only issue I have is winter heaving. Something about the freeze/thaw cycle pushes the crown of the  plants up so the root is exposed. Every fall, I add a little extra soil around their bases, tuck them in nice and snug, and every spring I find some crawling out of bed.

Erm, I wrote this before googling heuchera heaving. Heidi’s blog gives a thorough, expert overview. Notice how she can fit her hand under the crown. Heidihorticulture.com.

I am about as rule following and disciplined with gardening as I am with anything else… which means the other day I took a chance and replanted one of my favorite heuchera patches.

It’s too early in the season for messing around and it had recently rained, but the day was warm, the soil friable (by clay-ey Chicago standards), and the forecast showing rain for days. If I didn’t act right then, the next window for digging might not be for weeks (April showers). Plus, my spirits really needed some dirt under the nails.

I had to be careful due to last fall’s haphazard bulb planting. I’m forever  trying to arrange plants  so the vanguard of early ephemerals falls into the shadows of the next wave of blooms. (I am not going to get derailed by continuing to fiddle with that sentence.)

purple , yellow, blue spring bulbs (crocuses and lillies)
Ms. Teti’s Owl Bed is the first burst of color so far.

I don’t know why I planted bulbs in the heuchera seeing as it’s almost an evergreen (ever purple? ) and leafs out rather early.**  Maybe it’s just my squirrel tendencies.

Regardless. I managed to dig, divide, and replant with minimal disruption to the bulbs. And it’s been raining since! Sweet dreams.

*Turns out the plant is named for Johann Heinrich von Heucher, an 18th century German physician. Thanks, internet!

**Something about this winter battered the foliage into a slimy brown muck so I am not regretting my bulb planting zeal.

small garden bed with pink echinacea and chartreuse and burgundy heuchera
Our first major garden  project was in 2006, the summer before our child was born. The amazing Laurie Tanenbaum was our guide. I  am pretty sure the purple heuchera in the far right corner is the Eve of the 20 plus scattered around the building.

mind and body

black dog with a stuffed hedgehog staring into the camera

content warning: body image, depression

So tired and I still need to load the dishwasher and feed the cats. I can tell Rumor is also ready for bed because she is carrying around her big hedgehog.

I have been giving myself some grace because my child has been out of school a lot, including the last almost  two weeks. I have barely left the house or done much of anything besides doing the things that need doing for our kid. But those doings don’t take all day. I still could have been exercising, building my business, and putting away the Christmas decorations. It’s past the equinox!

Instead, my watch keeps reminding me I have been sitting for over an hour. I have apparently taken fewer than 2000 steps all day. The jeans that were just starting to fit again after a 5 month break from drinking are now riding below my belly. They will be returned to storage if I don’t start taking better care of myself.

As with so many folks, my physical  health concerns are intertwined with body image. I try to cultivate neutral feelings about appearance, but still cringe at photos.

Yesterday, I reminded myself that I am not my emotions. Today I need to remind myself that I am not defined by my productivity or pant size.

But I also don’t want to be reckless about my physical  health. Sitting is the new smoking. Aging bones require resistance.  I want my cholesterol to slide back into no flag territory. I  want to be strong and dexterous enough to scoop up my taller than me teen  in case of an emergency.

I have to remind myself that I have been in mental health survival mode.  Last summer I was so stubbornly and severely  depressed that my psychiatrist floated electroshock therapy.  While I think today’s ECT is mellower (that’s probably not the word) than days of yore, the prospect still spooked me.

Thanks to the IOP and medication tweaks, I am doing…. OK. Not great but it’s way better than the thin ice I was sliding on.  This is good given current challenges.

Maybe  the mental health persistence and strength I’ve been working so hard on will eventually transfer to other areas. If I can keep pushing myself to face each day,  shouldn’t I be able to face the floor and do some push-ups?

eta on 3/23. ugh it’s always awkward to write about this stuff considering all the suffering around the world. I have a rooof over my head, food at my fingertips, clean water, health care, free speech…. I don’t take anything for granted. And I also don’t share all the home front challenges out of respect for family privacy.