31 July 2007

Good enough.

"There are two types of people in this world, good and bad. The good sleep better, but the bad seem to enjoy the waking hours much more." ~Woody Allen

I have Google set up with a bunch of different gadgets, so when I'm signed in to my Google account (which I use for e-mail, instant messaging, here on Blogger and to write the book...) and I click on Google, I get a personalized version of Google. Which is nice. But the quotes gadget has been making me laugh a lot lately and occasionally sparking some creativity.

I think that most people think of themselves as "good people." I do; don't you? There are times and places where I say, "I'm not a nice girl!" but overall, I think of myself as a good person. I wonder lately how strong of a person I am since I apparently need an anti-depressant to function, but that's really a separate issue.

I haven't been able to run lately with the shin splints getting worse instead of better, so I've been back on the elliptical machine. The running websites that talked about the "psychic pain" of not being able to run? So right. But my gym has some pretty high-tech elliptical machines, so while I don't love it, I don't hate it either. It does burn more calories, for whatever that's worth. Today I was watching a Kanye West video while moving along and I plugged in to the headphone jack to hear the lyrics and it was as if I was smacked in the face by a snippet of the song:

To whom much is given, much is tested

and I think that's a biblical quote, or at least it sounds as if it should be. But I searched a few bible websites and came up empty. Googling the phrase just gets me results about Kanye West. I decided that it doesn't matter where it comes from, I find it helpful and inspiring.

Have I been given a lot? You bet. Stable two-parent family, close siblings, a roof over my head, enough food to eat, a good relationship, great friends, (online and off) clothes to spare, enough money to play around with...and I don't have much to complain about, do I?

Without the support of the people around me, I wouldn't have survived the winter's depression. Another bit of another Kanye West song:

That that don't kill me, can only make me stronger

which is hardly original to Mr. West, but is timely and pertinent to what's been happening to me. And if I wasn't a good person, I would hardly get the support of those I love and those that love me.

So why can't I sleep?

Listening to: Kanye West "Stronger" and "Can't Tell Me Nothin'"

30 July 2007

What do you see in your head?

On Sunday afternoon, DH and I and a few neighbors sat around outside after a meeting of our homeowners association wrapped up. We talked about all sorts of things and nothing in particular. My in-laws pulled up in their van, and my mother-in-law was sitting in the passenger seat just like I used to when I was a teen, with a foot propped up on the dashboard.

I smiled, because I suddenly remembered driving around in a friend's jeep, summer, pop music loud on the radio, singing at the top of our lungs, windows down....

A little while later, we were out to dinner with our neighbors, and talking about time passing and our various ages, and I remarked that often, when I run into someone I've not seen for a long time from my school days, the first thing I think is, "Man, you look OLD! I don't look that old. Do I look that old? No, of course I don't." Of course, most the time I remember to not say that sort of thing out loud. Most of the time.

But that conversation got me to thinking. When I look in the mirror, I'm surprised by the adult reflected there. Because in my head, when I picture myself, I'm still 17.

We then talked about Neil Strauss's book, The Game, which I fully intend to pick up today because I'm curious about it. My neighbor's friend was telling us about the premise of the book, which is a community of pick-up artists. This is non-fiction, and I want to read it because it sounds like it would be a fascinating look at human psychology. I minored in Psych @ University, and I've never stopped being interested in it.

We got to chatting about confidence, and traits that men and women both find attractive. Self-confidence is sexy, there's just no two ways about that. I didn't have much when I was a teenager, but 'round about the time I turned 20, I started pretending that I was very confident, acting a part. When I met DH, I said some very outrageous things to him, because I thought he was cute and I wanted him to think I was interesting. (Guess that kinda worked, seeing as we've been married now for 7 years and all.) But they were things that I wouldn't have normally said if I'd been retreated into my little shell as I usually was.

I started learning how to play that game while I still lived in Europe, which is a funny thing. I had to go to Europe to learn how to be a brash chickie. The reputation of Americans worldwide is that we're brash, loud, obnoxious...and I learned how to do all that while I wasn't in America. Life's funny like that.

I've said this before, but it seems such a truism to me. If 17 year-old girls had the confidence that 30 year old women have, 17 year-olds would rule the world. Because I've got confidence in spades now. Except for this: I gave the link to my book to someone new, an online friend, for a critique, because I'm stuck and feeling like it is worthless. So a real-life friend encouraged me to share it, and now that I have, I'd like to hide in the corner after I delete the site that's hosting the book. Instead, I'm going to stay offline for a while (if I can, you know my addiction is baaaad) and wait to hear what she says. I was awake at 2.30 this morning worrying about what she will think of it.

Of course I'll still write a Tuesday Brain Dump post tomorrow....guess you can see right there what my resolve is worth. At the very least, I make myself laugh, so that's something.

How do YOU picture yourself when there's no mirrors around?

Listening to: the voices in my head that tell me I'm not a good writer. Oh, and Amiee Man's Voices Carry.

28 July 2007


Once upon a time, I had terrible heartburn. In my early twenties, I had daily heartburn so bad that I took 2 prescriptions for it, even had a gastroenterologist (that's a tummy doctor) that I visited on a regular basis. I had 2 stomach procedures done, where they were trying to determine if I had stomach cancer or an ulcer or any other reason that I might be having such awful heartburn. Nothing, and I mean NO THING helped, really, when it was bad. The prescriptions eased the pain a bit, but every single thing I ate or drank gave me heartburn.

Then I quit working for the bank, and wonder of wonders, it got better. Enough so that I quit taking the prescriptions. Hm, it just might have been stress after all that was causing the heartburn. Well, that, and the nearly 70 extra pounds of weight I was carrying around.

I figured out when I was seeing the tummy doctor that certain things ARE in fact triggers for me, will give me heartburn, so I avoid those things. Too many red onions; immediate pain. Eating even one small bite of a bell pepper, be it red, yellow, orange, green, or purple, raw or cooked in any fashion at all, even just added to a sauce or a stew gives me heartburn for about 2 days. I like both of those things, but I avoid them like the plague. So too must I avoid a few types of cheap red wine, because those will also make me ill.

The other day when I was complaining about pain in my delts, it ended up being heartburn. And I've got it again today. Bad, really bad. Bad enough that moving my upper body around is painful. I've tried to describe the sensation of bad heartburn to people who don't suffer from it before. About the best I can do is this. Imagine that you've got a huge sack of air pressing upwards and outwards from your diaphragm to your chin. And then someone lights it on fire. Pleasant, yeah? No, not so much.

I would have thought that being 30 pounds lighter would mean that I'm done with heartburn forever, or at least unless I eat something that's going to make me ill. Ugh.

And then THIS is depressing beyond belief. I was wondering what I should be shooting for as my goal weight, because even though I'd like to be about 120 pounds I think that's pretty unrealistic, and possibly unhealthy, and I wondered what the BMI calculators would say. Turns out to have a "healthy" BMI, I need to weigh between 115 and 154 pounds, meaning that I've got between another 15 and 50-some pounds left to lose. I'm doubtful in the extreme that I'll be satisfied with the way I look with just another 15 pounds gone. I don't want to look anorexic, you understand, which I think I would at 115 pounds, but I'd like to look hot. Sigh. Underneath this tough-as-nails feminist exterior is a little girl who still just wants to be "pretty."


Think I'll go back to bed.

26 July 2007

Learning to BE rather than DO

I took a new (well, new to ME, anyway) yoga class this morning, Core Yoga. It was completely awesome, I enjoyed it a lot. Almost as soon as I left the gym, however, I got a stabbing pain in my left deltoid muscle. For a while it hurt to breathe, but it seems to be easing off. Hopefully is just something I slept wrong on and not a serious injury.

At the end of most Yoga classes that I take, the instructors do something called Savasana, a little meditation. In English, Savasana is Corpse Pose. You're supposed to relax completely. Sometimes the instructors do a guided meditation for this part of the class, sometimes not, you're just supposed to concentrate on your breathing.

Today the instructor gave us our direction while we were still in the final pose of the sequence, which happened to be boat pose. "Imagine something, something relaxing," she trilled. (She was pretty sing-song-y throughout the whole class, it entertained me a lot.) "A child's smile, or a butterfly, floating along, just that and nothing else. Then, when I tell you to, clear your mind and think of nothing, nothing at all."

Living in the moment is very, very difficult for me. When I'm trying to sleep (and this is the biggest reason that I take a sleeping pill) my mind is busy making lists of things that need done tomorrow, or the next day, or just in general. Trying to meditate is a bit like trying to pick one instrument's sound out of a vast symphony for me. So I tried to focus on the memory of a butterfly that I followed around Lily Dale for about a half hour on my last day there, trying (unsuccessfully) to get a picture of the darn thing with its wings wide open. It was a delightful few minutes, I almost felt the wonder of being a child again, chasing after it.

I'm laying on the floor in the exercise studio of my gym, trying to remember the wind off of the lake, the butterfly bobbing along with the breeze, the flowers it landed on, and into my mind pops Jensen. So I pushed him out (blasphemy, no?) and went back to the butterfly. Then my closet with its heaping piles of stuff on the floor that I'm supposed to get into reasonable shape while I'm off pops up. Pushed that out as well. Then the laundry that isn't done, Jensen, the floors that aren't scrubbed, Jensen, the car that needs washed, Dean, the dishwasher that needs unloaded, Jensen, the weeds that need pulled, Dean, the flowers that I haven't planted, Jensen, a conversation I had with a fangirl friend about Jensen, (are we seeing a pattern here at all? No? Must be just me, then.) the mess that needs cleaned up in my bathroom, Dean, the bed that isn't made, GAH!!! Butterfly, dammit, butterfly!!!

Each time I managed to bring myself back to the meditation, only to have it disrupted with something non-related. So much disruption that I never heard her tell us to clear our minds, the next thing I knew she was having us sit up into Lotus position, exchanged "Namastes" with each student, and the class was over. It occurred to me after I left that perhaps next time I ought to choose something else to concentrate on, that whole butterfly thing wasn't really working out for me.

Being in the NOW, right this moment, has always been very tough for me. I'm always thinking ahead to what's next. But as I walked to my car, I realized that this time I've had away from work is making it easier for me to just BE, that I've got a sense of almost serenity that I've never had before. Is it the medication? Probably. Maybe. I don't know.

I finished reading "Is It Me Or Is It My Meds" and I hadn't really thought a lot about it until I cracked that book, and read about others who think the meds make them less creative people. The meds are stifling my creativity. I think. I'm having trouble writing the book. Blog posts, these rambling bits of what runs around in my head are no problem, but the book, that's a problem. Knitting, too, I'm not very interested in doing.

I feel so much better, mentally lots more stable, and I don't ever want to go back to where I was in February/March of this year. But at what price? Taking away my ability to write may just not be worth it. The last time I felt able (and excited) about writing was after that mediation class I took at Lily Dale. Perhaps I need to incorporate that into my daily routine to get "it," whatever "it" is, back.

The only reason I'm not giving up on the writing completely and saying "forget it. move on. find something else." is because I love my little story and having had at least one other person read it, I know it is worth it, there's something there, that could just turn out to be the most amazing thing I do in my life. And if Rowling could write the first Harry Potter book whilst she was unemployed AND a single mom, well, damn. I can manage it too.

24 July 2007

A Sad Goodbye

FAIR WARNING: If you have not yet read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, do not read this post, because the ending will be spoiled for you.

I was a latecomer to the Harry Potter craze. On our honeymoon, DH and I took an Alaskan cruise, and I struck up a conversation with a woman who appeared to be in her 60s, who was reading HP and the Prisoner of Azkaban as we made our way through Glacier Bay. I asked her why any adult would want to read those books, it was my seriously uninformed notion that the books were 'just for kids.'

"Oh my dear," she admonished me, "you simply must read them. They are wonderful. Have you read Bridge to Terebithia? The Chronicles of Narnia? Lord of the Rings?" At my affirmative nod to each, she continued, "If you liked those, you will LOVE this. It is wonderful. Wonderful. My students love it, and the teachers do too."

Turns out she was a school librarian, and we had a nice chat about all sorts of books. By the time DH wandered by (the boy can NOT sit still) about an hour later, we were fast friends. I promised to pick the books up when I got back home.

I read the first three books in about a week, and then had to wait along with everyone else for book #4 to be released. And 5. And 6. My sisters, my mother and several other people became fans all at the same time. The anticipation each time was a big part of the fun. I never did go to a bookstore and wait in line at midnight to purchase a copy; I wish now I had. I ordered each book online, and it would appear on my doorstep on the release date. No lines, but no chance to dress up in my HP costume, either.

A fangirl friend told me that she felt as if it was the end of an era, that she was almost bereft, knowing that there wouldn't be another Harry Potter book. Almost as if there was a mourning period. I feel the same way. I have read each book (the first time, anyway) in one sitting, usually in 4 or 5 hours, unable to put it down. Knowing what happens at the end does not diminish the pleasure of re-reading them, and I've probably read each book about 10 times over the years.

This book was different from the others, and I'm happy with the way that it ended. Sad that it has come to an end, but pleased with the way it turns out. I'd have been devastated if she killed Harry off, as was widely rumored. Ron and Herminone and Harry and Ginny ending up together was perfect, and I know I'm probably not the only fan who thinks so.

The Muggle Registration stuff that shows up about midway through was strongly, STRONGLY reminiscent of WW II and Hitler's Germany. The whole culture of fear surrounding Voldemort and the Death Eaters made me think of many repressive regimes, from Romania in the 1980s to Stalin, Mussolini, and some of the more recent terrors in Iraq and parts of Africa.

Although I doubt seriously that she was making an intentional political statement, Rowling does live in Scotland, part of Great Brittan, and the Brits are talking about all sorts of initiatives to report on your neighbor's suspicious activities.

Love her or hate her, one thing she has managed to accomplish that no other author has ever been able to do is to get kids into reading. My librarian friend told me that she would have kids bring the HP books back to her and say, "This was GREAT! What else ya got?" Kids who wouldn't be readers otherwise, kids who were more interested in Playstation than anything else, became readers because of Rowling and Harry.

If I were her, I'd be proudest of that accomplishment.

23 July 2007


I've always said that if I wasn't working full-time, I'd bake and bake and bake, and end up being 300 pounds. I'm not 300 pounds, but I did spend the day baking. After my usual workout, of course, so I'm not too worried about gaining more than 100 pounds in a few days.

It is blueberry season in Oh-hi-ia. I don't like many, many things about living here, but one thing I do like is the availability in the summer time of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. A friend and I visited a farm market last week, and I bought far more blueberries than I actually needed. I'd eat blueberries morning, noon, and night if they were available all the time. So they were about to be past their prime in my fridge, and today I decided to use them up.

I have an old, old recipe for blueberry muffins, from the matriarch of a big clan that my family has been friends with for a very long time. She was 90 the first time I met her, when I was 12. She lived to be over 100, and was a wise woman. The recipe was taped inside the kitchen cupboard of the cottage we used to visit, and one year, I remembered to copy it down before we left for the summer. Over the years, I've not been satisfied with the results, because the blueberries sink to the bottom. I'd like my blueberries evenly distributed through my muffins, thank-you-very-much. They taste great, but presentation is important to me, and so I've tinkered with the recipe, but until today, have not been able to get the berries to co-operate. A friend suggested sprinkling the berries on top after the muffins were in the oven for a few minutes, and I couldn't resist trying just one more time to get it to work properly.

As I said, this is a very old recipe, and so the format is a bit odd. My alterations to the original recipe appear in italics. But bear with me, it is well worth the trouble. Use a stand mixer, if you have one.

Whole-Wheat Blueberry Banana Muffins

Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Beat 2 eggs until foamy (I beat the eggs until they doubled in volume, which takes about 5-6 minutes at top speed on a stand mixer. It would take for-freaking-ever by hand.)
Add 1 cup sugar, and combine well.
Add one heaping tablespoon shortening, mixing until distributed evenly. (I think softened butter would work well here, but didn't have any to try.)
Add 4 mashed bananas
Mix in 2 cups flour, (whole wheat) alternating between folding in 1 cup milk (skim) with the flour. Finish by adding 3 teaspoons of baking powder.

At this point, if you're using a stand mixer, remove the bowl from the machine and mix by hand. Fold in 1 cup four-dusted blueberries, scraping the bowl down to ensure even mixing. Fill 12 regular sized greased muffin tins 3/4 full. Sprinkle an additional 1/2 cup blueberries (NOT flour-dusted, they'll look moldy) over the filled muffin tins.

Avoid over-mixing because the finished product could be tough if you do. The muffins will need about 20 minutes in the oven and will get huge, because of the amount of baking powder. I checked mine every five minutes after they'd been in the oven for 10 minutes, my oven runs far too hot and does not heat evenly, so constant vigilance is required. I had over 4 cups of blueberries, so I tripled the recipe, and made some regular size and some mini muffins. They're yummy. The banana addition was because I have about 6 pounds of over-ripe bananas in my freezer. I buy them, I eat a few, and before I know it, the rest are nearly black, so in the freezer they go, with plans to use them for banana bread or....something...but they end up staying in the freezer until inspiration like this strikes.

Whole-wheat flour is tricky, sometimes not working at all as I plan for it to. If you don't like it, at least use unbleached, un-bromated flour. I might also try turbinado sugar, because I don't really care for processed white sugar, but I was out.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that I've read all of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which in case you live under a rock was released on Saturday. I plan to write about it tomorrow.

22 July 2007

Who'da thunk, 7 years

DH and I are celebrating our wedding anniversary this weekend. Seven years ago today, we got married, after a nearly two year engagement and having actually met and started dating in 1994. I'm not going to tell the story of how we met (too personal) or how he asked me to marry him (again, too personal) or even tell the story of our wedding day.

Instead, I'll tell you that last night we celebrated the anniversary by taking a dinner cruise in Pittsburgh, which was fun. The food wasn't wonderful. It was billed as a dinner dance, and the music wasn't fantastic either, (too heavy on stuff like The Electric Slide, ugh) but it was a beautiful night and we had a great time. Spent the night in the city, at a fantastic hotel, and plan to spend the remainder of the day doing not much of anything. A nearly perfect weekend.

20 July 2007

The devil in the sweet, sweet kiss

I managed to miss two day's dosages of my anti-depressants. Forgetful and, it turns out, both a stupid and a smart thing to do. Lest I think that I was getting better, that the depression was waning and that maybe I'd be OK without the drugs, I know now that the meds are pretty much the sole reason for my feeling not depressed.

Isn't it odd that it takes 4-6 weeks for the meds to kick in and make you feel as if you were human again, and yet two days without them and I'm feeling like I want to sleep 24/7 and like I've been kicked in the teeth? I hope sincerely that it does not take so long before they make me feel better again, and that I have not fucked up completely their effectiveness by not taking them for a few days.

I say that it was both a smart and a dumb thing to do because I feel like complete garbage, and I know I wouldn't if I'd continued with the proper dosage. Smart because I have been nagging both the shrink and the family doctor to get off of them, and now I know that they're right, I'm in no shape whatsoever to discontinue them. Good to know.

I have not yet finished reading "Is it me or is it my meds?'" but I can identify with the author when he talks about physiological vs. psychological dependence on the meds. The seductiveness of them. Should we need them to cope with depression? Shouldn't we all be strong enough to fight it without them? Does it make me weak to 'need' them to function? How much easier to just take the pill, take the easy way out. Because as tough as it is to admit that you need help for your mental illness, it is fairly easy to just swallow that pill. Seductive, because you know that the pills will help, will make it easier for you to function, if you'll just give in.

I haven't finished reading the book because I left it at the Y on Wednesday after working out. Oops. I did my usual stint on the treadmill, then tossed the book into one of the cubbyholes in the cardio studio. In the wintertime, the cubbies are filled with coats and scarves and bags. In the summer, mostly just keys. I left the book, lifted weights, went back to the locker room, showered and went on my merry way, leaving the book there. I did call and ask them to look for it, but so far it hasn't turned up. Smart, Lucy, very smart.

17 July 2007

If I don't understand it myself, how can I explain it to you?

"So," says a friend on the telephone yesterday, "How was Lily Dale?"

"Really interesting,"I tell her. "It is a very strange little place."

And then I tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to explain how I felt while I was there. There are places on this earth that have a certain feel to them, I can't explain it any other way. When I was a kid, we would spend summers in a small place in the Manistee National Forest, in Michigan. A cottage, a lake, a sailboat, a motorboat, a rowboat, and not much else was there. We would swim, sail, waterski, lounge about in the sun, have evening bonfires where we would make s'mores, and rarely did we leave the cottage. It was as if the place cast a spell on you, that once there, you didn't want to leave. When our time there was up, at the end of every summer, there would be tears as we took our leave of the place. Returning the following year always felt like coming home, even though it never was home, never could be occupied in the winter; the place had little insulation and no furnace, so you'd freeze to death.

Lily Dale felt a bit like that to me, as if it was a place I'd come 'home' to. I spent a lot of time sitting on the porch of the Maplewood Hotel in a rocking chair and reading, time walking around the unusual settlement, some small amount of time taking pictures with my real-film camera. I found it soothing. Very soothing. I spent time in contemplation, took a class on meditation, participated in a Native American sweat lodge ceremony. (Which was awesome.) I did not want to leave. Places like our summer retreat and Lily Dale make me feel like the rest of the world, outside of those communities, does not exist. As if the whole wide world is comprised of this spot, and this spot alone.

Lily Dale is a Spiritualist community. Spiritualism is a religion, widely practiced in the late 1800s. Like other fads, its popularity faded, and Spiritualist communities these days tend to be small. But these folks believe hard. From Lily Dale's website, here's a definition of a Spiritualist.
One who believes, as the basis of his or her religion, in the continuity of life and in individual responsibility. Some, but not all, Spiritualists are Mediums and/or Healers. Spiritualists endeavor to find the truth in all things and to live their lives in accordance therewith. Sounds all right, not too kooky. I mean, yeah, Mediums, all right, not so sure about that part, but religions outside of my own Catholic experience fascinate me.

There are several books about Lily Dale, I picked up Lily Dale; the True Story of the Town that Talks to the Dead at my local bookstore before I went there. Many Mediums are Christian, but identify primarily as Spiritualist. Lily Dale has daily free "readings" twice a day, given by both members of the community and visiting Mediums, as well as student Mediums from time to time. Curiosity is either one of my greatest strengths or one of my big weaknesses, depending on what I allow it to lead me to, so I went to two of the daily readings just to see what it was like.

And it was weird. The Mediums either identify a particular person in the crowd and ask them, "May I come to you?" for which the proper response is NOT a head nod, but a spoken, "Thank you." Or they begin to describe a person that they "see" and wait for someone in the crowd to identify that spirit as someone they knew, who has passed on. Could be mother, aunt, cousin, whatever.

I have a belief in the supernatural, (obviously, witness the fangirl stuff) in that which is beyond our daily perception. Ghosts? Possible. Telepathy? Maybe. Telekinesis? I wish! Teleportation? Wouldn't that be cool! Vampires, ghouls, all of that, as Sam and Dean point out each week, every culture in the world has some lore for each creature. Do I truly think it is all real? Not really. I tend to believe that which is tangible, that which I can touch, see, smell, and hear all on my own. But I do believe that there are folks who have psychic abilities. I don't really count myself among their number, but things do happen to me that I can't explain.

So watching these public sessions with the mediums was both hilarious and hair-raising, by turns. In general, the Mediums who approach a particular person and begin telling them things that the Medium could never just "know" were far more credible to my mind than those who stood at the front of the crowd and began random descriptions.

One of those random descriptions went like this, (I took notes, of course) verbatim.

"I'm seeing a woman in a hospital bed, long illness that she died from. Long time in hospital, in hospice. Older."

And from that very, very vague description, a woman directly in front of me began waving her hand wildly. "That's MY mother!" she nearly shouted. "She had cancer."

The Medium's face lit up and she said, I shit you not, "Oh, wonderful. Lots of love from her to you."

It was all I could do to not crack up. If YOUR dearly departed mother was to appear to a Medium, wouldn't love be the first thing she expressed? The Medium went on to say that the mother was no longer hurting, no longer in pain, she was out of that hospital bed and dancing. Now, isn't that precisely what you would WANT to hear about your mother who died of cancer after suffering for a long time? It seemed to me that so many people were so desperate to be comforted, to believe, that they took the most vague things and turned them in to meaningful messages.

You can also sign yourself up to visit any one of the town's 45 or so "registered" Mediums, a private session, for a fee. I resisted the temptation. I have been to see a psychic, once, about 6/7 years ago, and she scared the shit out of me. She used ordinary playing cards to tell me all kinds of things that I have no idea how she could have known any of. I refused to tell her my name, I refused to tell her how old I was, any identifying details. I left there shaken, and frightened. She knew things that I never, ever, ever talk about, that I've never told anyone. She wrote notes, I still have them. They're a bit rambling, but most of it? She was dead on. It happened. One thing that she was 100% right about? She told me that I should start writing. That I had it in me to be a writer. I did not begin writing until several years after I saw her, but I remembered her prediction with a jolt when I was accepted to write for FitFare.

If I go back to Lily Dale, and I think I will, I might sign up to see one of them. But my natural skepticism just might prevent me from taking any of it as anything more than entertainment and bull.

16 July 2007

Since he's the decider and all...

I was listening to the BBC today and heard President Idiot say something unfortunate. Well, really something unfortunate comes out of his mouth every time he speaks, so that's not unusual, is it? But this in particular riled me up.

Apparently, President Doofus would like the Palestinians and the Israelis to get started on peace negotiations again. Fantastic. Progress, finally, after he completely abandoned the whole process shortly after taking office and destroying the progress that Clinton had managed to make. So, yes, I'm thrilled that he's finally interested in doing something.


Here's an excerpt from his speechifying, copied and pasted directly from WhiteHouse.gov.

I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror. I call upon them to build a practicing democracy, based on tolerance and liberty. If the Palestinian people actively pursue these goals, America and the world will actively support their efforts. If the Palestinian people meet these goals, they will be able to reach agreement with Israel and Egypt and Jordan on security and other arrangements for independence.

And when the Palestinian people have new leaders, new institutions and new security arrangements with their neighbors, the United States of America will support the creation of a Palestinian state whose borders and certain aspects of its sovereignty will be provisional until resolved as part of a final settlement in the Middle East.

In the interest of truth and fairness, I will admit that I don't really completely disagree with him here. Or, not exactly. Here's the thing. The Palestinians elected Hamas in free and fair elections. Let me say that again. No one is contesting the elections that made Hamas the majority leaders in Palestine. It is a tad, just a tad, silly for President Idiot to suggest that the Palestinians need to elect new leaders when the ones they have were freely elected. Like Hamas, don't like Hamas, that really isn't the point. The fact is that these ARE the leaders chosen by the people.

If you truly are interested in the whole world having democratic governments, then you can't suggest to them that hey, y'know those folks that you elected? Well, see, yes, there's a problem. We don't like them.

Get a grip. You do the best job that you can with the resources that you have available to you. In this instance, it means negotiating with the PLO, Hamas, Israel, and any and everyone else that will get the peace process working again. Do you have to like it? No. Does it need done anyway? Yep. Get to it!

13 July 2007


"Wouldn't it be great if people could get to live suddenly as often as they die suddenly?" ~Katherine Hepburn

I spent a few days this week alone, trying desperately to figure out what my next step should be. Reading, some, yep, can't deny that. Silly, silly trash, that I will pick up as brain candy reads. I also walked a labyrinth, several times, doing walking meditation. While I found that somewhat soothing, it was supposed to answer questions for me and it did not.

I spent no small amount of time contemplating belief. Labyrinths were around before Christianity, according to what I read about them. Scandinavian sailors would walk labyrinths that were angled to face the sunset at the summer solstice to insure a good catch and safe passage. The Catholics, who co-opted and attempted to incorporate many pagan beliefs into Catholicism, encouraged followers to pray the rosary while walking labyrinths.

I remember hearing an NPR report sometime in the 90s about old cathedrals discovering labyrinths hidden under floors of sanctuaries when they attempted restoration or refurbishment. The trend then was to allow them to be used again. I've never walked one before this week, though.

There was a suggested meditation for this labyrinth, which was slightly spiritual, but wasn't religious. Each time I walked it, I couldn't help but think, "This is stupid. Who believes this shit, anyway?" The repetitive motion of walking the circles was soothing, but didn't provide the answers I was hoping for or perhaps expecting.

But I did have several moments while walking and thinking that were flashes of insight, bursts of creativity. I saw Katherine Hepburn's quote above on Google, and it seemed to fit so well with all that I've been thinking. One of my favorite movies of all time is The Shawshank Redemption, starring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins. Freeman has a monologue at the very end of the film, where he says, "...get busy livin' or get busy dyin'." The entire monologue tears me up, every time.

So, life? What are you going to throw my way next?

12 July 2007

Back to my (blogging) roots.

I have not been writing massive missives on the Idiot Administration lately. Likewise, I've avoided diatribes filled with dire warnings about the dismal state of women's rights in America. Since I have so much time on my hands, what with being unemployed and all, I've been instead looking inward, and amusing myself with writing about things that are fermenting in my head.

And then today I checked out Twisty, on I Blame The Patriarchy, a woman who I admire greatly. Twisty's a far, far better writer than I will ever be, her style is much more scholarly and I envy what I perceive as the incredible ease with which her posts flow. Maybe she agonizes over every sentence as I do, I'll never know. Today her post is about a woman in India whose case is equal parts tragedy and something else....what word do you use for something that makes you so angry you can't see straight? Infuriating? How about equal parts tragedy and resignation, that the state of women's rights all over the world will never improve enough, enough so that it no longer needs to be a battle?

Twisty's last sentence, particularly, "Violence against women is a fucking global humanitarian crisis, yo." made me sit up, scowl at the computer, and say, "Damn!" And "Wow!" Because I never really thought about it on such a large scale. I frame my feminist ideals mostly around what needs to be changed here, things like equal pay for equal work, access for all women to abortion rights, the things that hit my radar because that's MY backyard. I don't often think about women forced into arranged marriages, girls forced into prostitution in Asia, simply because I don't think about them. There's no excuse, just kind of a benign apathy. That apathy is so dangerous. Because until we all pay attention and do something about it, it won't change.

When will it change? To quote another idol, U2's Bono, "How long? How long must we sing this song?"

I am enough of a geek that I will read all the comments people write on blogs like Twisty's. So one of her commenters left a link to an Amnesty International report that I would like to share. I'm also adding another "sticker" on the right hand side of the blog, where people can link directly to Amnesty's campaign.


11 July 2007

I was tagged back.

My TAG post of a week or so ago got me this back from John on The Shepard's Staff. I actually enjoyed this, I don't usually do memes and the like. It was time consuming, but very interesting. Since I tagged a bunch of people recently, I'll resist the urge, but check out the site if you're so inclined.

My personalDNA Report

10 July 2007

A Meditation, NOT transindental.

I took a class today about meditation. The reason for the extremely late posting of the Tuesday Brain Dump post is that I was in class until 10pm, and it is likely that although this post will have the date of 10 July, it won't go live until the 11th. It will take me too long to write all about it.

Imagine my big surprise when I discovered that several things that I do almost daily are considered meditative. I walked into the class knowing almost nothing at all about meditation, and don't know all that much more now, but I'm pretty astonished to know that my running is meditative. Who knew? The fact that I can't concentrate on anything at all except putting one foot in front of the other while I'm running is sort of a meditative state. How 'bout them apples?

The Sun Salutation that I do every single day is also meditative. Huh. I'm in "a zone" when I'm moving through those yoga poses, and darned if that doesn't count.

The instructor for the meditation class led us through several guided meditations, and as she was speaking, instructing, in between each meditation, my mind was going 1000 miles an hour, spilling all sorts of ideas, a burst of creativity that I haven't felt for a few weeks. I plan to spend some time working on my novel tomorrow, updating and changing something from a flash of inspiration I got during class. I'm so energized, I can't explain it. I scribbled notes all over the handouts she gave us, pages and pages of stuff.

My favorite meditation she did with us is copyrighted, so here's the gist. Close your eyes. Breathe deeply. Sit or lie down or whatever makes you comfortable. Imagine a time and place where you felt "at home," whenever and wherever that may be. "At home" in your own skin, with who and where you were/are. In your mind's eye, see it clearly. Remember all the smells, sounds, colors, even tastes if there are any. Take yourself to that time and place, lose yourself in it.

If you know me at all, or read this blog regularly, you know EXACTLY where I went. Sweden. Of course. I felt more at home there than I ever have before or since. It is something that I have a very difficult time explaining to anyone. I loved it there, and from the first minute I just felt that I had 'come home.' Someplace that my soul remembered, even if my eyes and ears did not.

The first time I went to Stockholm, Sweden's capital, I was with a boyfriend. Who turned out to be a complete loser, but that's neither here nor there. He isn't important to the story at all, except that he was the first person to show me many of the places I'm going to tell you about. We drove, unusual in itself, instead of taking the train. He parked the car, and we walked from some random, generic parking lot to a part of Stockholm called Gammla Stan, literally, Old Town.

You cross a stone bridge to get in to Gammla Stan, a bridge that may well be more than 300 years old. Gammla Stan has been occupied for somewhere around 800 years. Cobblestone streets, narrow by-ways, no cars, this is old Europe even before Europe was old. The second, the INSTANT, that I set foot on those cobblestone streets, I felt like I'd returned after a long absence, that this was "home" and that I belonged, truly belonged there.

My great-grandmother was a full-blooded Swede, left the old country in the early part of the 20th century in search of work and a better life. We have pictures that bear a photographer's mark from Eskilstuna, a town that was only 30 kilometers from my 'hometown' in Sweden of Kungsor. I know that great-gran was in Stockholm at one point, but I do not know if she ever called it home. It is very likely that she walked the same small streets in Gammla Stan that I did. Over the years and many visits to Stockholm, I've walked every single street in Old Town. I love it there. It is as expensive to live there as it is to live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, so it is unlikely in the extreme that should I ever live in Sweden again (and the chances for that are pretty slim too) that I'd live in Gammla Stan. It is the province of Old Money, OLD, OLD Money. But I did stay there, a couple of times, once in a hotel and another few times in a borrowed apartment.

The second time I visited Stockholm was with an exchange student pal whose last name means "LittleFlower" in its original language. I called him that, too, really, I did. Good goddess, I was an obnoxious teen. I digress. LittleFlower's host family was money, M-O-N-E-Y, and in addition to their primary residence in Sweden's far north, they owned this Old Town flat, plus a home in the south of France and a place on Sweden's equivalent of Martha's Vineyard. Like I said, money. Really, really great folks, just rich. LittleFlower and I stayed in the Old Town flat a couple of times, and each time, I slept like a baby, felt as if I was Queen for a Day or Weekend.

The sounds of Old Town are the babble of many languages, not just Swedish, as visitors from all over the world visit the Riksdagen (Parliament) and the palace that are located there. Carts being pushed, as cars can only travel through very limited parts of Old Town. The footsteps of thousands. The commands shouted by the guards at the palace as they go through that familiar ritual of the changing of the guards. But there are also quiet places, I have a picture of an alleyway, really, not a street, although there are apartments on it, where you could reach both walls simply by stretching out your arms. The sense of history, of age, presses in on you from all sides in places like that.

The smells are of the sea, the treats that are typically Swedish, salt licorice and cocoa-balls. Each time I'm in Stockholm, I indulge in a very typically Swedish thing, mashed potatoes purchased from a street vendor drizzled liberally with a spicy mustard. I know how strange it sounds, but yum, trust me. Hey, don't knock it till ya try it. The smell of the mustard and mos, as mashers are called for short in Swedish, takes me straight back to my very first visit with the boyfriend, where he insisted that I had to try it. It was part of his family's ritual every time they visited Stockholm, and it is now mine as well.

I so lost myself in this meditation, that when the instructor called us "back," it took me a few minutes to re-adjust. I love that I was able to do that, to quiet the endless loops in my brain that have plagued me with the depression, the fact that I was able to get a sense of peace for a while. The hours of the class flew by. I can't wait to try it again.

09 July 2007

Summer Reading

Anytime I have time on my hands, I like to cruise the bookstore and the local library, looking for new reading material. Lately, anything I've picked up in the sci-fi/fantasy genre has disappointed me. That's why I started writing a novel of my own, it is something that I would enjoy reading. I don't know if I will ever finish it, but I have enjoyed the process of writing it thus far.

I went to the library last week. Oh-hia-ia's libraries are tax-funded, so there are always new books on the shelves, all kinds of things to explore. I picked up about 10 books, fiction and non-fiction. One non-fic caught my eye, "Is it me or my Meds? Living with anti-depressants" The cover is a soothing light blue, and there's a yellow smiley face in the middle.

Of course I picked it up and checked it out. That question, "Is it the meds?" has been something that I've been struggling with. I'm in so much better shape than when I wrote the first blog post about my depression in the spring. And I know that the meds are a major part of that. But I worry about taking them, I worry about ending up dependent on them for life. I have discussed this with both doctors, Dr. H and the shrink. Dr. H essentially said, "Why mess with what's working? Give it a year, minimum." The shrink said, "You must consider the very real possibility that you may have to go back on the medication at some point in the future. Relapse happens often with depression. I'm not saying that you'll be dependent on them for life, but you may need them for longer than you think. Let's re-evaluate where you are with the meds in October, OK?"

Turns out, as I have worked my way through "Is it me or my meds?" that my concerns are shared by the vast majority of those taking anti-depressants. And many, many psychiatric patients stop taking them, self-medicate, or mess with the dosage without the doctor even being aware of it. The horror stories I'm reading in this book scare me, but my experience has not been the same as many of the folks profiled in the book.

For many people, the meds don't work at all, the side effects are horrible, and when they do work, it is only for a short period of time. They talk about the half-life of both Xanax and Klonopin, both of which I have taken only at dire need. They're both anti-anxiety meds, and no, I do not have a current prescription for either of them. Xanax makes me calmer, better able to handle something very stressful. Klonopin makes me giddy. I would probably not agree to having a regular prescription for either unless things got much, much worse than they were for me.

The side effects that I've had with Wellbutrin have largely disappeared. Dr. H and the shrink both told me that they were glad that I continued taking the medication despite the side effects, that many patients don't stick it out. The daily headache was a pain in the ass, frankly, but it disappeared after about 10 days. The shakes, which made me look like I had Parkinson's, are much diminished, although they're not gone completely. Dr. H gave me the full medical explanation for what's happening to my body with the shakes, but since I did not write it down, I can't share it with you. Basically, he said that my body is overcompensating for something that the medication has introduced to my system. Whatev. All I know is that I feel much more like myself, and that things that were bothering me enough to induce near-hysteria are no longer worrisome.

I'm not even worried that I'm unemployed. I feel like it is no big deal, that something will come along, and it will all be all right. There is no basis in reality for this belief; I know that in order to find another job, I will need to actually look, something I have not bothered to do.

So in the meantime, I'm going to finish reading the books that I got from the library, await the release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in the theater and Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows in hardback on July 21. I may even write a book report or two. And I've got all kinds of free time for fangirl silliness too.

06 July 2007

Happy Blog-Birthday To Me!

Today marks two years since I started blogging. So much has changed in my own life. And so little has changed with the Idiot Administration.

A woman's right to choose is more tenuous than ever, thanks to the resignation of Sandra Day O'Connor and the death of Chief Justice Rehnquist. The court made a big shift to the conservative side with President Idiot's appointment of John Roberts and Sam Alito.

We still have more than 500 days left in the Idiot Administration. Thank whatever you hold holy that he's not eligible for a third term, I'd have to emigrate. The lasting damage that he's already done to the environment, our civil liberties, the standing of the United States in the rest world and women's rights is quite enough.

How ironic is it that my blog anniversary is also President Idiot's birthday? I'm fairly entertained by that.

05 July 2007

Unemployment kinda.....rocks, acutally.

This is the first time in my life, ever, that I have not had a plan. Through my school days, I was hyper-focused, got excellent grades, had my eyes firmly on the prize. Which was, of course, a good education, good job, fulfilling career at the end of the schooling.

I structured my high school curriculum around my desire to be an exchange student, having almost every requirement needed to graduate in Oh-hi-ia finished by the end of my 10th grade year. What few requirements weren't "done" at the end of my sophomore year the administration assured me that they would count either classes in Sweden as credit, or that I could easily finish them my senior year of high school.

Overseas, I focused on learning the language, being the "best" exchange student that I knew, the example held up to other exchanges as in "Why can't you be more like Lucy?" Obnoxious, I know that now, but my drive and desire to be #1 has always been a big part of who I am.

When I came home to the states, reluctantly, because I loved Europe and wanted to stay, I skipped my senior year of high school and started college immediately. I was in such a hurry, to grow up, to get on with my life, to be an adult, to be out on my own and working full-time. If I could talk to that girl now...I'd tell her to slow down a bit. But hindsight is 20/20, and a time-machine has not been invented yet.

It took me a while to finish up my college career, but that isn't because I wasn't a focused student, it was because of the dizzying array of options available to me at University. I took a little of this, a little of that, ending up with minors in German, Accounting, and Psychology, because I kept taking classes in each that interested me, even though they weren't my major.

Once out in the working world, I discovered that I didn't really like working full time, but then, really, who does? And part time employment doesn't really pay the bills, so what choice do we all have? Not much of one. At the bank, I worked on climbing the corporate ladder, and by the time I left there, I was on track to be an AVP, assistant vice-president, a title which the bank hands out like penny-candy, but it is the way up the ladder.

When I went to the non-profit job, I discovered a passion for the work, and I loved working there full-time. I loved the fact that I was doing different things every day, I loved having my fingers into every single pie there, I loved the challenge of keeping the doors of the place open. I said often that I was truly blessed to have a job that I loved so much. Even when it could be the most heartbreaking thing in the world, days when I drove home sobbing, it was still an amazing thing to be a part of.

And now it is over. Doors closed, a part of my past, relegated to "when I did thus-and-so." Which should be devastating, especially considering the depression that I've been fighting. But it isn't devastating, it is instead somewhat freeing, because at the end, it was a huge dragging suck, and it was making me miserable.

I'm at a loss without a plan, though. Everyone, every single person from casual acquaintances to lifelong friends has asked me, "What's next?" and I've responded, "I don't know. For the first time in my life I don't have a plan." And their come-back to me? Every single one of them? "That's good."

Is it? It certainly does not seem so to me. What the hell am I supposed to DO now? Babysis, most UN-helpfully, suggested that I have a baby. Um, no. Wait, let me say that again. No. Hell, no. Dear, merciful goddess, NO. Bad idea.

For me, it has been more important most of my working life to enjoy what I'm doing for a living than to be making huge amounts of money. Life is too short to hate what you do. But I don't know what I want to do. I don't know where to go. I don't know how to take the next step, and that is a bit more paralyzing than being unemployed is.

It is only Thursday of the first week of being unemployed. And there was a big holiday in the middle of the week, so it feels much more like I'm just on vacation. A vacation where DH is not also off, but nonetheless, it seems more like I've just got some time off. Each day this week, I've had a specific goal in mind, and not been able to accomplish much more than that one thing. Each day has slipped by so quickly that I look at the clock at 3 pm and wonder where the whole day has gone. How come no one has ever told me that NOT working is quite a lot of fun? I don't have to be up at an ungodly hour, I can spend hours at the gym if I so desire, I can go to the grocery store whenever I want, I can be on the computer until 3 am if I want to. This is incredible fun!

The downside of being one of the grown-ups is that no one can make these decisions for me about what my next step should be. One of the problems with the depression is that you're so concerned about making a "wrong" choice that the inertia can paralyze you. So I want someone to tell me what to do, but I also want that answer to be perfect, something I can get excited about, something that ignites my passion.

I'm trying very hard to not panic about it yet, but I do need to make some decisions and decide what is next. I have some time. But I have never had any patience.

03 July 2007

I'm Entertained.

I went to the doctor's today. Dr. H, my family doctor. I made the appointment several weeks ago at his request when he upped the dosage on my anti-depressants.

Have I mentioned that I adore Dr. H? Yeah, once or twice, I think. Besides the fact that he actually listens to me, and he's easy on the eyes, when you're in his office you get his complete, undivided attention. Which is why I don't mind waiting in his office for sometimes an hour or more.

Today, after the nurse weighed me (woot, the Dr.'s office scale shows a number lower than the YMCA's!) I asked something I've been meaning to ask for several years now. "Can you measure me?" I asked her. "I have no idea how tall I am."

"Sure," she said, pointing out the heretofore unnoticed wall chart. I have been telling people for many, many years that I am 5'4", but the last time I know for certain that I was measured was when I was about 15. More years ago than I care to admit. So she had me remove my high heels, and stand up against the wall, urged me to press the small of my back more firmly into the wall, (twice) and announced that I am 5'6".

Really? I had no idea. But I am vastly entertained. My parents are tall people, Dad is 6', Mum is 5'8", the sibs are 5'8" and 5'9", and DH is 6'1". So I'm used to being the short one. Dad often teases me by encouraging me to "stand up" when we're taking group photos...when I am in fact already standing. (Either learn how to deal with the constant teasing in the household or learn how to STFU, them's the rules.)

My posture is really good, though, and people have been telling me for years that they thought I was taller than 5'4". My usual response to that is that I stand up straight, I carry myself well, and with my personality being as forceful as it is, people assume that I am taller. Plus I wear heels every single day.

Yoga and Pilate's have made my muscles longer, leaner, stronger, and made me think even more about standing up with my shoulders back. I can't slouch, it makes my shoulders sore. Sitting on the ground with no spinal support isn't painful anymore, and I can sit still longer without pain.

All of this makes me think about how far I've come in my quest to be in better shape, be thin like I once was, to avoid the familial legacy of hypertension, diabetes, and bad joints. And yet, how far I have to go. Thirty pounds lighter, in better shape than I've been perhaps since my early teens, and still, at least another thirty pounds to go. Discouraging.

The process of re-framing that the shrink was talking about last week means (looked it up, finally) that you turn things around, from negatives to positives, and so if I'm truly in that process, then I should be able to look at the additional 30-40 pounds that I need to lose as a challenge, as something that keeps me motivated. I'm not quite there yet, able to keep the motivation high by re-framing. But I am working on it.

In the news today, President Idiot commuted Scooter's sentence. This is something that DH and I actually agree on, wonder of wonders. Our political viewpoints are so diverse that we never talk politics. But when he noticed this news on Fox, he said, "You've GOT to be kidding me." I looked up from my MySpacing and read the ticker on the bottom of the screen and let out my own howl of frustration. I hate that I was right about what the Idiot Administration was going to do about this, although my timing was off. I thought W would do it right before he left office. But by doing it on July 3, he was clever, because the news cycle will move on to July 4th celebrations and fireworks, and Scooter will be forgotten.

Isn't that a damn shame? He should do the time. Herregud, if PARIS HILTON had to spend some time behind bars, then so should Scooter. God, I despise this administration.

If you're in the States, I wish you a wonderful 4th of July.

01 July 2007

Going to the chapel

...and we're gonna get married, going to the chapel of love!

A friend got married this weekend. Watching several of my high school friends with their spouses, or significant others, or just standing around the bar talking at the reception made me feel both sad and content. Sad, because we are all getting older. Someone reading this who is in their 50s or so would be annoyed with me, because we're all 30-something these days, and that isn't OLD unless you're a teenager. Content, because it is nice to see folks who I thought would never, ever, ever grow up doing just that. Sort of like, "well, I don't have to worry about *you* anymore, because that's settled."

Weddings usually make me cry. I missed the church ceremony of this weekend's wedding, which I am sorry about, but not too sorry because I don't know if I could have handled it in my current mental state.

I asked so many people so many times, "How ARE you?" wanting, of course, not the social pat answer that we usually give, "I'm fine" but getting not much more than that most of the time. I haven't seen many of these people since the last big wedding, which was I think in 2002. When we, people in general, not just my group of friends, gather at social events like this, so often we strive to be positive and upbeat when talking with old friends about what's going on in our lives, even if things aren't fantastic.

I wrote a post over on MySpace that should have probably been posted here about the walk that we took down memory lane a few days before the wedding, the shared language we have of "do-you-remembers" and the common experiences of our school days. These are old friends, some of them from middle school days, almost all of them from the same high school I attended. Scattered, now, from Arizona to Oh-hia-ia, with jobs diverse as can be imagined. But yet, with the commonality that we have of our youthful days, I honestly don't need to ask how they're doing, I can tell from a look in their eyes, a certain tilt to their smiles, decoding with ease the unspoken message.

I was honest and truthful when people asked how I'm doing; actually, each time someone asked me, "How ARE you?" I responded by saying, "I'm unemployed! *laugh* But all right. How are you?"

We talked about plans and dreams, goals and aspirations, kids, (who has them, who doesn't) cars, mortgages, houses, careers. What astonishes me, over and over again is that we're ADULTS, really, we're the grown-ups. I don't think of myself as an adult. I don't think of most of them as adults either. In my mind's eye, everyone remains perpetually about 17. Seeing them in person, then, is always a shock, because hey! No on really IS 17 anymore. When did that happen? How do the years slip away from us? Why isn't there a "pause" button for life?

I bought a dress to wear just about an hour before I left for the event, a silly set of circumstances that would only happen to me. I didn't need a new dress, but tagged along with a couple of friends just for the heck of it. I tried on sundresses, things that reminded me of 50's style party dresses, (it is true, nothing ever really goes out of style) and things that didn't fit, or fit me badly. Coming out of a dressing room, I saw a stunning light blue gown made of floaty sort of material hanging at a cash register, and I asked the salesgirl if they were holding it for someone. "No," she said, "We were looking for another size at another store." So I picked it up and checked the size, and wonder of wonders, it might fit me. When I tried it on, it was perfect. Everything else I'd tried on had been about $40, but of course this one was over $90. And a color that I have nothing else that will match it, no shoes, no purse, no wrap in case it gets cold.

So I wandered to the shoe department, and found the perfect strappy sandals to go along with it. More than $100 later, I was ready to party! It looked fantastic, though. I'm vastly entertained that the shoes bear the label "Jessica Simpson."

It was a late night, and I've had a slow start to the day. But the house is clean, the sun is shining, and the day calls out to me. Tomorrow is the first official day of my unemployment, and I have it planned so that I'm not sitting at home moping. I'm toying with the idea of going to a spiritual retreat up in New York state for a few days, as I try to figure out what the hell I'm going to do with my life. Seems like a good idea to go and meditate and reflect and plan. For now, however, I'm off to enjoy the sun while it lasts.

Listening to: Mix of Swedish pop including Per Gessel, Lisa Nilsson, Marie Fredrickson.