Monthly Archives: April 2022

April Showers

patch of garden surrounded by concrete with spring flowers and emerging perennials
The scrappy, shady, tree root congested, parkway in front of our building.

I don’t think I have ever been so relieved for a month to end. Which is sort of silly because there’s nothing stopping tomorrow from being like today besides the extra minute or so of daylight.

We closed with a flourish. Heavy rain. Lighting flickering. We used to have a front seat row for big storms, but now crane our necks for slivers of sky around the outlines of the new houses next door.

grassy parkway with small patches of yellow and pink tulips
These tulips are vestiges of the sunny parkway gardening I did before the houses were built (we are the yellow building).

A cryptic weather alert tried to fill in the gaps. When the emergency broadcast whistle? static? interrupted the last few minutes of Weekend Edition, my interest was piqued.  The  recording was both long winded and tentative. At first it sounded very serious, going on about tornados that have already touched down followed by talk of a tornado watch that included Cook County.

After being told to  brace for hail, debris, and downed trees, I listened carefully to the long list of specific spots considered high risk.  I expected to be instructed to head to the basement (this happens occasionally), but then the whirring static signaled the end of the message. What were we supposed to do with this information? Though we are not far from the listed spots, we are not close either. So I shrugged and  returned to my window perch. If we were danger, I was confident the local alarms would be  blaring.

close up of outside  low mounding plant , green blue leaves holding rain drops
Lady’s Mantle, catching some rain

This is probably not an accurate description of the call, but I’ve got  the gist and it is all too familiar to what we’ve been weathering all year. Big storm. Vague warnings. No directions. Me sitting on the radiator looking out the window with furrowed brow, knees hugged to chest.

And that sounds passive but the thing is that I was outside right until the storm hit. Watching. Yanking out old tulips that have been  all leaf no bloom the last few years. Moving a few plants. Doing what I can in small moments.

Taking deep breaths, maybe  trying to vacuum up this month to exhale hope for better days ahead. For the first time, the dampness smelled ever so slightly of spring.

garden close up, puriple bloom, purple and green leaves
I can never get enough purple.

willful, wanna, willing

black and white photo, close up of  top half of a woman's face. Light complexion with curling bangs and a small bun.
disobedient bangs

I am a hair and shoes person. Before I was tuned in to how problematic it can be to offer unsolicited comments about a person’s appearance, I was generous with compliments (yeah that is an ugh sentence but I am not going to try to fix it otherwise I’ll just get stuck). On the bus, “sharp hair cut!” at the store, “love those shoes!”

figured hair and shoes are less fraught. OK this is not what I was intending to write about. I do want to do a hair and shoe piece but not tonight

I wanted to write about the well worn topic of behavior, self regulation, discipline, whatever we are calling the whole “do the thing you said you were going to do” skill. And I thought to use my new bangs as a symbol of defiance. Just a little hook. Here I am 30 minutes in to writing (including farting around with a photo) and again I’m stuck on the tarmac and my thoughts are already fading into a dot in the sky.

failing to board the plane is appropriate to the topic of self regulation I guess. does that even make sense? am I supposed to be passenger or pilot?

I’m vexed that I so frequently retreat to this comfy meta self aware digressive mode of writing.

It’s fake productivity. Avoidance. Splashing around in the shallow end.

OK so what was on my mind earlier?

DBT therapy uses willfulness and willingness to frame our approach to behavior. Willful is on the negative side, where we are obstinate, rigid, resistant, etc. I call it my inner 3 year old. Willingness is well, self explanatory. Even if you are a hot mess, you can still choose to be open, flexible. Halfway smiling. Not toxic positivity. Just not doubling down on negativity.

(This is a gross simplification which is why I get all fretful about writing.)

The point is that I wonder where “wanna” fits it.

The toddler stomps. I don’t wanna behave and *you* can’t make me!

The adult stomps. I wanna behave so why can’t *I * make me?

I don’t want to be willful. I wanna be willing. I guess that’s what all the skills are for, sly ways to move us into willingness.

But so much of my willfulness is due to lack of urgency and immediacy. I have two speeds, sloth and super hero. I need to save embers from the fires I put out to keep me warm and limber for the less dramatic days.

This is apparently a classic ADHD trait. Insert recognition that many most all folks drag their feet sometimes (hence my imposter syndrome). However, there are degrees of severity and whether it’s due to adhd or something else, *egads * I have a serious Jekyll Hyde situation when it comes to productivity.

I have written versions of this so many times. So frustrating.

not a competition

A friend shared something wise and pithy about how it’s OK to acknowledge our crises and scars. Need to dig it out. In the meantime, this is the best I can do.

Just because others may have much worse situations doesn’t mean we have to minimize ours. It’s not a competition. I strive to maintain perspective and count my blessings.* Definitely try not to play the “woe is me” Olympics.

All that preample to say…. today was just wow. Really hard. Called forth strengths I didn’t know I had. I can go to bed knowing that I  did  my best

*I have yet to find a secular alternative to counting blessings. Fortunes feels heavy on the tongue and has a whiff of materialism. Lucky stars might work but that phrase is more about the forces that produce the postive outcomes, not the outcomes themselves. Blessings can be both the force and  the result. The  word itself is also light and cheerful.

what’s in a name

Today we took a big Uber downtown for a long awaited court date. Needed room for 5 people: my parents, Michael, and my child. The occasion: to add legal heft to the name our child has chosen for themself.

It was a bit of an adventure with some suspense. Turns out the hearing was supposed to be via Zoom. One of Michael’s coworkers is a lawyer and she had offered to shephard us through. Thankfully we had built in a buffer and  she lives two blocks away from the county building. We scampered to her apartment, reminiscing about the “I am not a cat” pandemic courtroom snafu, and logged on via her laptop just in time.

lots on my mind, most better for more private writing for now

hearts

close up of a hand holding 7 cards. A man is across the table, holding cards up to face

Was feeling stumped and Michael suggested I write about playing cards. An excellent topic for a couple of reasons  but I’m not sure I’m up to the task.

It has been a hard day in a hard week. Hard is an overused word (cousin to good and nice) but I appreciate its sound/ meaning match. D is a powerful letter, expressed through clashing of  tongue and  pallet.

The thing with me and Hearts is that I’m often  tempted to shoot for the moon, Usually the goal is to score low, but if you get all 26 points in a round, you can either add points to your opponents or take them away from yourself. Alas, my working memory is terrible. If you want to pick up all the hearts, it behooves you to keep track of which ones have been played. Which is why I often end up with 25 points… the worst outcome.

Sometimes I feel like I am looking for new ways to lose or  to confirm a bad strategy. Like, yup, it’s risky to  shoot the moon when you have a low heart, even with a lot of  high cards across suits.

I need to tbc this.

all nighters

picturing time like silly putty, stretching until snap and how that breaking point varies by person and situation.

Don’t know why that’s the image accompanimg my desire for looooong stretches of quiet solitude. Maybe it’s the smoothness. Blank slate that blank slates.

I am feeling all kinds of ways, including, unfortunately, tired. I just want 6-8 hours of pure, focused, self directed, uninterrupted time. Why? I already have more alone time than most folks, at least of my age and situation.

Right now, what I want to say is not public suitable.

87% glum

Gonna give myself permission to be brief because I just spent time editing what I wrote yesterday and I can barely keep my eyes open. If I was going to spend time properly writing, I would talk about the dreaded 87% mark,   ie where I tend to get stuck.

I’ve been wanting to share this project with more folks but I won’t do it until I have alt text for photos, have fixed the categories, etc. Stuff I should have been doing with each post from the beginning.

added 4/25

It’s related to perfectionism, paralysis, hyperfocus, scope creep, haste, transitions, insecurity… the familiar stew that fuels my work? the creaseworn map that directs my movements throughout a day?

When I take on a project, I inevitably make it more complicated than it needs to be, especially given real or created barriers to execution. I start to falter or fall behind. Guilt and overwhelm take over, sharpening an edge of doubt?  slowing mometum like ankle weights?

Then the snowballing follows but I guess it’s the opposite of snowballing which evokes movement and force. Maybe more like a dam  that thickens  as distractions are less able to flow through. Ugh these metaphors.

I am remembering making a photo album for a dear  friend’s  wedding. Not ready by the big day. Technically have a year, right? And this way I could include pics from the wedding. First anniversary passed. Embarrassment took over. Then it was time for a baby shower and a reunion. I buckled in, probably stayed up all night before the flight. Had to be worthy of the delay. But there were gaps. I had wanted to do more. A gift delivered with apologies.

Of course it was well received with befuddlement about how heavily it had weighed on my consciousness.

I have so many examples of that creative process.

basking

Sunshine, high 70s, dirty nails, and a baseball win with football numbers. A perfect day made so much sweeter by how raw this spring has been.

When I woke up to temps already in the 50s, I grabbed some coffee, offered a hasty good morning to my family, and made a beeline for the bloodwort.* In recent days, they have looked expectant. Leaves tucked in firmly, blooms peeking out above. Bundled up and cross armed like stoic commuters waiting on a blustery platform.

What a sight! Blooms open throated to the sun, leaves hitched up like skirts above immodest stems.

same short plants, white blooms fully open. also a mounding plant with apricot leaves

If the gloomy forecast holds, I suspect they will close up tonight. How does that work? Makes me think of a retractable roof. What are the molecular levers? Or maybe the  petals will just drop. Once a bloom has tasted the 70s, how does it weather a plunge back into the 30s?

If I had been born farther back on the evolutionary tree in anything but a tropical climate, I doubt I would have survived into adulthood.

*I’m a little delighted that I remembered to check. Even with all the work I’ve been doing for an embarrassing amount of time, I still default to thinking that I am incompetent and a failure. This irrational, unfounded core belief is as hard to dig out  as gout weed. My budding (sorry) botanical knowledge provides reassurance that there’s hope for me yet.

scrabble

close up of a scrabble board, completed game. scrap paper with score on side

Michael and I have been playing Scrabble for over 20 years. Scraps of paper jumbled in the  tattered  box hold all the scores.

We are  well matched and for the last few years  have played a very friendly game. If we aren’t sure if our hopeful arrangement of letters is a  word, we look it up before putting tiles down. Our latest cheat is to keep a list of acceptable two letter words handy. I guess we could memorize them, but we value creativity over recall. Knowing that er, re and ae are acceptable opens up a lot of big plays.

We used to be purists. Don’t play words you don’t already know and can’t use in a sentence. But it’s fun to take a reasonable stab. Jxawlu? Probably not gonna fly though it could be a bird and wow imagine it on a triple. But sortine? That’s using some lexical? phonemic? knowledge. If it’s a word, you score points and learn something new. (Alas, not a word. Turns out I could have played stonier, tersion or a few other words I don’t know.)

My lopsided victory tonight  was due in part to lopsided luck with letter selection. We abide by the code of not belly aching about what we pull from the bag, but a few rounds of aeeiouu can be frustrating. (I guess we could make a list of vowel heavy words but we are already so lax…)  The good thing about playing for 20 years is knowing the luck tends to even out.

But I will also take credit for skill. Made some clever plays and eventually dropped a seven letter (rations).

ugh I’m tired

I wanted to say something about Charles and Emma Darwin’s backgammon games (they also kept the scores) and old baseball rivals. ( Cubs and Pirates have played over 2500 games since 1887.)

But maybe another day. Zzzzz

halfway through

So according to my countdown widget, I’m 50 days away from my 50th bday and 51 days since I started this project which was going to be all about healing and changing and nailing the landing at the end of my private half century and yeah, nope, I feel as, if not more, demoralized as I did in late February.

Boo Hoo.

OK. Enough boo hooing.

close up of a woman with light completion wearing large red headphones
About as authentic as I get. Listening to the Cubs lose on noise canceling headphones with a built in am/fm radio wearing a sweatshirt I’ve had for 20 years (no longer covers my belly eek)

Let’s see. I’m walking more. Sure it’s out of necessity but commuting is how I used to get a lot of passive activity.

I am working hard to be the best parent I can be.

I am paying the bills (well Michael pays the bills because he is currently the only breadwinner but I take care of logistics which is an accomplishment seeing as my mom once had to help me tackle 4 months of unopened mail. Yeah that was the year i also didn’t take the garbage to the alley for, er, weeks. it was stacked up in the pantry. it was winter. I lived alone so didn’t produce a ton of garbage but I also didn’t compost, so … not good. Depression? Adhd? Being a young adult? But it was also a magical time and I hosted killer parties where we planned the bicycle revolution so no shame.)

So yeah, I’m keeping the hearth fires from going out (although for the first time ever we did not submit our taxes on time nor did we send a payment and we owe big time so I need to remember to throw a check in the mail but, well, the problem there is mail…. sending mail is even worse than opening it. The only reason I’m on top of bills is that I do almost everything online. The last time I saw our stamps, I was drying them out on the radiator because my wallet was tea-drenched due to not having tightened the lid on my travel mug.)

So yeah I’m demoralized because I’m still me but that’s also kind of BS bc I know I’m not all that awful.

What’s the worst that can happen between now and June 11? Um. A LOT. Me staying me is not one of them and there’s no need to tempt fates.

close up of a plant with green sliver leaves close to the ground and a small purple flower
This sweet thing popped out today. First warm and sunny day in a too long while.