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One day I’ll fly away

My first New England autumn that first year of college was something like a miracle. Growing up in West Africa and Southern California, autumn color is one of those things you only ever see in magazines and movies. Massachusetts in autumn must be something like a golden-crimson heaven, where life gives one last, brilliant flare before falling asleep for a season. Seattle color isn’t anything like comparable but I still feel that same rush of joy on a day when the autumn wind wants to pick me up and swirl me into the sky. I imagine that if I held out my arms, or leapt off the top of a building, it would catch me and take me somewhere joyful, somewhere so beautiful and exotic that even I can’t imagine it.

That autumn wind started today and I can feel it tugging at my very bones, especially this year that has been so full of grey depression and, occasionally, miserable despair. At 33 I feel like I’m 21 again, just out of college and not sure if my unhappiness is my own fault, the fault of factors out of my control, or both. And I really, really don’t know how to fix it, or even if I can.

I want to be swept away by the wind. I want the unknown ahead to be something joyful that I can jump into, instead of a dull slog that makes me question everything about myself. I’m an autumn baby and this season always reminds me that there is so much more that I want to be doing and seeing – the leaves are always more golden on the other side of the fence and I want to be there. Not here.

I’m not a procrastinator, most of the time. I’ll get things I don’t want to do and on those I may procrastinate for a while but I always get to them in the end. Knock on wood (a week and a half before the last paper of my MSLIS career), I have never turned in a project late without advance approval. Never spent an all-nighter. And yet, sometimes the (do not want) To Do List builds up to a howling crescendo and I realize that my much-neglected procrastinating side is showing her sharp, cruel fangs because SHE DOES NOT WANT.

So here are the things I’m procrastinating on, in no particular order. Encouragement to accomplish one (or multiple) goals via inspiring commentary below much appreciated.

1. Seeing a gynecologist about my Bartholin’s gland abscesses. Warning: No link that you could possibly Google for these will be SFW. Just saying, before you look. Also, in the last couple of months said abscesses seem to be inviting apparently related, but not quite the same abscesses to visit my Private Areas.

Why am I avoiding #1? Have I mentioned that lancing/catheterizing a Bartholin’s gland abscess is the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced? It is. That includes 42 hours of labor and childbirth. It is my 10 on the pain scale of 10, because if there is something more painful, I want death to be the swift result (or Dilaudid, whichever arrives first). I’m not exaggerating on that either. The next step is marsupializing those babies and I do not anticipate that being any less painful, the healing process is somewhat extended, and I have a wedding that I’m flying out to on August 10.

2. Annual exam. This should not be painful, however, it involves seeing a doctor.

Why am I avoiding #2? Seeing a doctor. ’nuff said.

3. Trying on my bridesmaid’s dress for the-never-posting-TeacherMommy’s-wedding. It’s red. I ordered it from an Etsy seller who seemed very nice and competent. I paid a lot of money for it. I got it a week ago and have not tried it on.

Why am I avoiding #3?I hate trying on clothes and what if this dress looks bad on me? I’ll have spent a lot of money on a dress that looks bad on me and it will give me only a couple of weeks to actually buy one that fits. Because I’m so limited as to size options, that means I’ll have NO freaking dress for the wedding and I’ll either end up wearing the one that might not fit (and looking ugly) or not being a bridesmaid even though I promised. Oh, and let’s not forget that, regardless of whether or not it fits, I’m going to be the Fat Bridesmaid [tm] looking ugly in photos. Also #4.

4. I need a new bra for the dress that might not fit but that I haven’t actually tried on. I have comfy bras but their support is…less than stellar. I should buy a new bra or two to look better in the dress-that-might-not-fit-but-that-I-haven’t-actually-tried-on (TDTMNFBTIHATO)

Why am I avoiding #4? I hate trying on clothes. I hate trying on bras more, because I hate underwire and softcup bras don’t give me much support because I have a Chest of Doom. And then I panic more that TDTMNFBTIHATO won’t fit, because I start thinking about that.

5. I need new makeup. I think I finally tossed the makeup I bought for my wedding eight years ago because, well. It was pretty old.

Why am I avoiding #5? Money. Also time. Also shame being girly. Also, makeup irritates my skin. But if I don’t have makeup, then I’ll be the even more unattractive and pale girl potentially wearing TDTMNFBTIHATO in photos.

Did I mention that I was even more of a wreck about all of this stuff before my own wedding? Third time’s the charm when it comes to bridesmaid-ing. I swear I’m never doing this again, even when my sister finds her Own True Love [tm] and begs me to be a bridesmaid. I will say no and point to this post as proof of my insanity.

I want to just weep sad, sad tears of first world woe that these, THESE, are the issues that I’m getting worked up/procrastinatory over.

Today the BBC is running a story claiming that tall people are more likely to develop cancer. Apparently, ‘[f]or every four inches (10cm) above five feet a person was, the researchers said they had a 16% increased cancer risk.’

The article is no more or less detailed than most BBC news stories on medicine – they include a run-down of the story and a few expert opinions and quotes. No big deal.

On Tuesday, the top Health headline was Obesity ‘leading driver’ of breast cancer, with a similar story structure.

Let’s compare:

Story A (on height): The study of more than one million women, published in The Lancet Oncology, suggested chemicals that control growth might also affect tumours.

Story B (on weight): One in eight women in the UK develop breast cancer in their lifetime, data shows, and the majority of these tumours are “hormone sensitive” meaning their growth is fuelled by hormones.

Heidi thinks: Okay, no problem. Tumors appear to be linked with hormones in some way.

Story A: The study followed 1.3 million middle-aged women in the UK between 1996 and 2001.

It linked 10 cancers to height – colon, rectal, malignant melanoma, breast, endometrial (uterus), ovarian, kidney, lymphoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and leukaemia.

Story B: The Oxford University team, funded by Cancer Research UK, studied the health records of nearly 6,300 post-menopausal women, looking for factors that might explain why some developed hormone sensitive breast cancer when others did not.

Heidi thinks: Based solely on the way that this story is reported by the BBC, both were statistically significant groups of people. Story A, mind you, used 1.3 million women and Story B only 6,300, but both are dramatically more than, say, the 60 women you might see in a “study” done by a cosmetics company on whether their mascara is more waterproof.

Story A: Those in the tallest group, over 5ft 9in, were 37% more likely to have developed a tumour than those in the shortest group, under 5ft.

Story B: No specific figures given in this story on how many of those 6,300 women developed cancer or the statistical increase in cancer among fat women vs. thin women.

Heidi thinks: Ah…

Story A: Dr Jane Green, lead researcher and from the University of Oxford, told the BBC: “Obviously height itself cannot affect cancer, but it may be a marker for something else.”

Story B: Experts have known for some time that factors that influence hormone levels – like pregnancy, the oral contraceptive pill and the menopause – can change a woman’s breast cancer risk.

This latest work, published in the British Journal of Cancer, suggests obesity should go at the top of this list, not least because it is a lifestyle factor that women can have some control over. (emphasis mine)

Heidi thinks: The hell, you say?

Story A: “Higher levels of growth factors could do two things. They could result in more cells – taller people are made of more stuff so there are more cells which could mutate and become tumours. Alternatively, they could increase the rate of cell division and turnover, increasing the risk of cancer…

The researchers suggested that height could also have contributed to increasing cancer incidence. In Europe, average height is thought to have increased by around 1cm every decade during the 20th Century.

They argued that the height increase in that time could have resulted in a 10-15% more cancers than if heights had remained the same.”

Story B: “Dr Julie Sharp, of Cancer Research UK, said: ‘This is an important study as it helps to show how alcohol and weight can influence hormone levels. Understanding their role in breast cancer is vital and this analysis sheds light on how they could affect breast cancer risk.

‘We know that the risk of the disease can be affected by family history and getting older, but there are also things women can do help reduce the risk of the disease. Maintaining a healthy body weight and reducing alcohol consumption are key to reducing breast cancer risk.’”

So, in conclusion, what we can take from this is that the sample size of women involved in the study on breast cancer was substantially smaller than the study of tall women. We know that tumors are probably linked to hormones and, when it comes to tall people being more at risk, researchers are willing to conclude that if growth hormones affect height, they might also make tumors grow more too. However, tall people shouldn’t worry (even though women over 5’9″ are supposed to be 37% more likely to develop tumors!!!) because it’s not under their control and it’s medicine’s job to figure out how to fix the problem.

Fat women, on the other hand, can totally control their weight (how, we don’t quite know, since science hasn’t given us a foolproof method that escapes the 97%-weight-regained stat anyway, but science says it, so it must be true). Therefore, even though we have absolutely no evidence on how much more likely we are supposed to be to get breast cancer, we need to get to losing weight NOW.

Now, it’s fairly evident that weight is based on genetics and that people with metabolic disorders can be more likely to be fat. If hormones are linked to fatness, which they probably are in at least some people, and hormones are linked to height also, why is it that the tall people get a pass because hormones are out of their control, but fat people don’t?

I’m not a scientist and I know that media reporting of obesity-related stories is biased anyway but can any of you tell me if the flaws I’m seeing in these two stories, set out side by side, actually ARE serious flaws or if I’m just hallucinating? Does this piss off anyone else?!

Still Swimming

Finally, finally, summer is here. There’s a saying that Seattle summer doesn’t start until July 4th weekend and this year, at least, that is true. Today we’re looking at 82 degrees as the high and the sky and sea outside the office window are both perfect clear blue. I had to actually water my deck garden for the first time yesterday, as my white astilbe was drooping, and despite the fact that I spent the entirety of Saturday working on a class assignment, this weekend was more relaxing than I had expected. I think I must have SAD in some form or another, because as much as I like grey, cloudy weather, my mood shoots up when there’s sun (and I hate heat), so…something to investigate with my GP when I see her for my annual in a few weeks.

So, here’s a confession. I’m a terrible, terrible housekeeper. I watch Hoarders and Clean House with fervent passion because I can actually say that those people are messier than I am. A lot messier and that pleases me. What do those of you who are CLEAN people do about clutter? How is it that you seem to have boundless energy for cleaning, dusting, putting things away…I get home from work in the evening and just crash. I don’t want to spend a half an hour washing dishes, or vacuuming/mopping the bathroom floor. I don’t want to dust all my knick-knacks, beloved as they are (how DO you dust knick-knacks without knocking them over and, therefore, having to pick up every single one in order to dust them?) It exhausts me and I’m just bad, bad, bad at it. How do you people do it (and don’t suggest FlyLady – her “body clutter” e-mails were the nail in the coffin of the DOZENS of e-mails that she spammed my inbox with)? Seriously? How?!

What I realize I envy is not people’s lives in the lovely photos I see on crafting/parenting blogs, but their orderly houses. I see a pretty shabby-chic house full of antiques and I wonder how the hell they keep it looking nice. Do they keep it looking nice? How?!

I’m hanging in there – at least I can say I have a pretty deck garden, even if my house is a nightmare.

Present

It’s been a roller coaster here the last couple of weeks. Work changes and turmoil (don’t worry, no firings or anything, just lots and lots of change in the air) along with personal busy-ness and, probably, delightful female hormones have thrown me off quite a lot, but I’m doing okay. Mostly.

Yesterday, on the way home, we’d gotten off at the park ‘n ride and were headed for the car when I did what I do every few months or so – my ankle gave out, for no apparent reason, and I fell. Usually I can catch myself but for some reason my body was just not interested in regaining balance, thankyouverymuch, so yesterday I went almost entirely spreadeagled on the sidewalk. My palms stung, my wrist was aching, and I was a bit sore but nothing hurt as badly as my wounded pride. My ankle has been doing this since I was ten or eleven – somehow, while walking, it votes no on the next step and I go flying. Apparently this happens to other people too, fat and thin, and I was a lot thinner when it started, so there’s no reason to think it’s anything to do with my weight, but the inner critic shrieks, “FAT CLUMSY IDIOT!” and I picture all the worst possible things that people could be thinking about me.

Mortifying.

Two guys stopped to ask if I was okay, and I was, except for the damage to my ego. My husband helped me up and we went on our way; a day later, I have bruised palms and a bit of an ache in my right ankle, probably from twisting it, but it’s no big deal. Just a balloon-puncturing moment that makes me wince out of embarrassment and old tapes in my head than actual discomfort.

***

Summer is slowly, ever so slowly, coming to Seattle. I’ve been making it a goal, now that I only have one class this summer, to craft something with Ciaran every weekend. We’ve done Waldorf window stars, a painted, button-bedecked photo frame, and a tissue-paper-decoupaged glass jar votive holder. He loves it, the process compels me to step out of my comfort zone and let go of control over the process as much as I can, and I feel like I’m actually giving him some good Mummy-Ciaran moments, rather than just depressed-homework-doing-Mummy.

I try.

Nights of insomnia aside, I’m doing better – tentatively poking my turtle-head out of its shell to figure out whether or not it’s worth looking out at the world after all.

I do fun things too. Really. Don’t faint from shock…

This post is image-heavy, so click on through for the good stuff!

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Familiar fragility

See, the thing about NOT being on hormonal birth control is that now I know, when a bad day pops up its hideous head and I start to realize that I’m caught in the incoming tide, that the sadness and nonsensicalness (yes, I know that’s not a word, right? right?) and lazy give-it-all-up-because-you-fail-at-life-ness is creeping up my waist, my stomach, my breasts, my shoulders…is that it’s probably hormonal. Nasty abscess in Female Places [tm] earlier this week plus moodiness now = PMS, and probably my period next week, because that’s how my body rolls when it’s not being tinkered with.

It doesn’t roll back the waters, though, so much as act as a snorkel that I can draw oxygen through to breathe as I desperately chant it’s-okay-it’s-okay-this-too-shall-pass-just-keep-breathing-just-keep-breathing.

The daydreaming turns into self-loathing as, instead of being inspired by other people, I envy them and hate myself for not being them. Not a good enough mother. Not creative enough. Stupid. Failing your son. Ugly. Fat. What ever, ever convinced you that you might be more than an office peon struggling with tens of thousands of dollars in school debt, and for what? You’re not smart, not artistic, not funny, not a good enough friend, not deserving of love. Someday you’ll be all alone, forever, because people will figure out that you’re not worth it and they’ll leave you.

On the Fatosphere we talk a lot about the fantasy of being thin…but what happens when you know, know that being thin won’t bring you any of those things you want, but nothing else seems to either, because you can’t quite find that place where you want to move and be fit, or can afford to have nice clothes, or even know what looks good on you and what doesn’t?

Crazy fractured post, I know.

I read blogs about horrible things that happen to other people, like the incredible Lori, or all the moms who have lost children, or parents who have real struggles, and I find myself just hating what feels like weakness on my part. I have nothing really traumatic to be whining about. I’ve never lost a child, or a spouse, or anyone but my grandfathers, who lived long, full lives. I live in a comfortable home, even if it’s not beautiful. My family is not starving. I have a happy, healthy little boy. What the hell is wrong with me?! What is this stupid, stupid brokenness and what right do I even have to feel broken?!

I would love a weekend where my family went away and I could just be alone at home, getting things cleaned, NOT having to feel like I was failing everyone around me as a mother/wife/daughter/etc. I don’t want to go away on a vacation, because that involves the stress of packing (have I told you all about my recurring packing-too-much-stuff-into-too-small-a-space-in-too-little-time dreams, that leave me drained in the morning?). I just want to be at home. Alone. Without anyone for a few days.

Daydreaming

I’ve been struggling lately, in case my infrequent, depressed posts didn’t make that clear. It’s not that I’m perpetually unhappy; it’s that the black hole of despair seems to be so much closer than before and I have to work so hard not to get sucked in (yes, I have a therapist, although it’s been about a month since I’ve seen her because of financial issues for the next couple of months, and I’m on antidepressants, so I’m doing all I can, really – no need to suggest that as an option!). A couple of weeks ago, after arguing with my husband over something stupidly trivial, I had to run to my bedroom, shut the door, and plant myself firmly on my bed, because if I stayed in the kitchen, I knew I’d go for one of the knives.

That scared me.

So, I’ve been going back to my old log-in-the-river safety mechanism of eating more than I’m necessarily hungry for, although not as much as I would have expected (the process IS working, if slowly) and reminding myself that it’s okay to do what I need to do to cope. I’ve also been immersing myself in crafting blogs, not for all of my normal crafting vices, like mosaics and cross stitch, but kids’ crafts – things that I can do with my son that make him feel happy and leave me feeling as if I’ve accomplished something as a parent.

There are some incredible, incredible children’s crafting blogs out there. Garden Mama hasn’t posted in a while, but I covet her life (well, her house, her garden, her creative sense, and the time that she has to celebrate all of those things). It makes me want to cry with longing for a place of my own, an old house, not big or fancy, but full of light and surrounded by gardens, meadows, and maybe a brook or the beach.

This weekend, C and I made a little gnome catapult game, based on the one that link goes to, and there was nothing quite so sweet as hearing my son exclaim joyfully, as he held the first finished gnome, “Oh, look at the gnome! What a beautiful gnome!” I felt…full after hearing it, and spending twenty minutes or so helping him to catapult the wood-and-felt gnomes into a painted egg carton.

And, yesterday, amidst long bouts of data entry, I took a few minutes of break time to make origami flowers out of sticky notes. They’re sitting on my desk now, purple, orange, pink, yellow, and blue, reminding me that I do have a life outside of my job, that I can make lovely things and, most importantly, that I am a creator of beauty and not just a waste of the universe’s energy and atoms. I need that, when I think about the lure of the knife blade, or the throb of my perpetual headache, which only goes away for a few hours before returning, starts up again* and I just want to scream at my not-Garden-Mama life.

That’s the thing about these crafting blogs…I have to be careful about them. They can leave me feeling as if I fall very short of the gentle parenting ideal. My son has electronic toys (honking fire trucks, mostly) and he watches more TV than I’d like (I’m a TV addict and I try to limit him, and myself, but it’s HARD when I come home from a day at work and am just so, so tired that all I want to do is flop down on the sofa and enter a temporary vegetative state). We don’t do enough crafting. My house is full of crap (that is, extraneous Stuff, not actual crap) and my life seems so far from where I want it to be.

So, I try not to get overwhelmed with self-consciousness about the mother that I’m not, the person that I’m not. I’m never going to be Garden Mama, who makes something with her homeschooled kids every day, but I can work on planning a craft each weekend, and an outing of some sort each weekend, so that I spend time with my son. I can buy (when I have the money), creative toys, even if they’re OMG PLASTIC (can I just say, Playmobil is heaven-sent, even if it’s not made out of wood?) and I can encourage my little boy to embrace reading with all of his big, big heart (he’s getting Farmer Boy and the next two Magic Treehouse books for his birthday next month).

Little steps. Little steps away from the ever-present dark.

And maybe, just maybe, if I’m really, really lucky, I’ll get to live in that beautiful, old, light-filled house someday. It would be nice if the universe could give me that much joy at some point before I shuffle off the mortal coil.

*Yes, I also have migraine meds from my doc, which aren’t working well, and I’ll talk to her at my annual exam in July to follow up more on this whole headache thing. I’m seeing my usual (excellent) chiropractor, who says that I should *not* be getting headaches based on how my body feels when she does her adjustments and suggests that I reduce the stress in my life, although she knows that certain factors aren’t changeable right now. I can’t afford new glasses at the moment, in case that is triggering the headaches, but will check in with an optometrist when I can afford them. No, I haven’t had any dietary changes that would trigger the headaches either, so far as I know. Again, please no advice on my health stuff. I’m taking care of myself, really, and suggestions right now on that front are not helpful, even when well-intended. Right now they would just feel like more pressure.

Dear JK Rowling:

The Harry Potter books have brought me much reading enjoyment over the years and, as we begin to read them to my four-year-old (who follows along eagerly with every word), they are bringing him much joy also.

But Joanne, why do you hate fat people?

As I read from one of the first (possibly the first) chapters of Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets to my son, I found myself compelled to edit the word “fat” from your description of Dudley Dursley at least four times in three pages. This is not because I fear or loathe that word but because you use it in an odious, hurtful way. You see, Dudley Dursley is fat. He is also a reprehensible bully who enjoys tormenting his cousin. But in your mind, it would appear that his fatness is directly linked to his vicious nature. We are beaten over the head with the fact of his fatness over and over again. Dudley cannot just walk across the grass. He waddles. He cannot simply have a look of fear cross his face. He has a look of fear cross his fat face. He does not run as fast as his legs can carry him, but as fast as his fat legs can carry him.

I found myself omitting the word “fat” every time you used it, Joanne. My son can read and perhaps he noticed my editing but I couldn’t help myself, because Dudley’s fatness was not an incidental, neutral descriptor. In your books, it is inexorably coupled with gluttony (in all things, from food to possessions) and stupidity. In fact, in considering the Harry Potter series, I cannot think of one unambiguously good character who is also fat, except the Fat Lady, who is not even a real person, but a portrait. Slughorn is on the fat side, as gluttonous as Dudley (if in a slightly classier way), and wavers between good and evil. Crabbe and Goyle, who are also fat (I may be mis-remembering this because of the actors chosen to play this) are stupid and fat. Evil people are not necessarily fat in Harry Potter, but the fat appear to be necessarily evil, gluttonous, and probably stupid.

You paint the portrait of Dudley’s character as greedy, stuffing food down his throat as if it were his final meal (and, considering that he gets put on a grapefruit diet later, perhaps he had reason to worry). I assume that we are to conclude that this is why he is fat and yet, when you describe Harry and Ron’s demeanor at Hogwarts meals and banquets, their eating behavior is no less greedy or disgusting than Dudley’s, but neither Harry nor Ron is fat.

My son knows that I’m fat. If there’s a fat character, he’ll proclaim me that character for his perpetual imagination games – I’m Fat Sheep from Shaun the Sheep, Ursula the Sea Witch (ha!), and so forth (I’m Hermione, though, he says). We frequently talk about people coming in different shapes and sizes so, as far as I’m aware, he has no negative association with fatness. Reading those pages last night, I could not help but feel sick at the constant bombardment of negativity surrounding Dudley’s fatness.

The problem is not that Dudley is fat, Joanne. Fat people come in both good and evil flavors. That’s life. What bothers me is that your reiteration of Dudley’s fatness is so constant, so pervasive, that his fatness becomes indistinguishable from his bullying, his meanness, his greediness. Even as a baby, his “beachball”-shaped body is meant to be an object of hilarity and scorn. Presumably his fatness marks him for evil even then.

Ironically, fat kids are highly likely not to be bullies, but to be bullied and writing that describes them as lazy, gluttonous, unpleasant, and stupid isn’t going to help this, particularly not when it features in books and films that are wildly popular. The kid who looks like Dudley in this video, where the bullied kid finally hits his limit? He’s not the kid doing the bullying. He’s the one being punched and taunted by his Harry-Potter-sized assailant (HP is frequently described, at least in the early books, as being small for his age). Fat kids are under pressure from all sides and, apparently, can’t even get away from it when they try to escape into fiction.

How many of the geeky, brainy kids reading your books, Joanne, are likely to be fat? If a significant percentage of American and British kids and adults are fat, chances are that a lot of the people who have paid a not-insubstantial sum to purchase your books (in some cases at record-breaking prices for children’s fiction), and to watch the movies based on them, are fat. When you appear to think that fatness and moral failure go hand-in-hand, this is offensive to a substantial portion of your readership.

I was really excited about reading HP to my son but it’s harder now that I remember what I’d forgotten after my first reading, namely, the way in which you portray fat characters as so disgusting, so evil, so greedylazygluttonousGROSS. The books are a minefield now – when my son is old enough to realize (and actually ask about) the fact that I’m leaving out the “fat” descriptor for Dudley four or five times over the space of a few pages, I’m going to have to apologize for you, Joanne. I’m going to have to explain that you are an intelligent, creative woman who has profited immensely from books in which you put out there, for the world to see, that you think fatness is a morally reprehensible physical characteristic. I’m going to have to say that I’m sorry, but that even intelligent, creative people fail to see that fatness simply is. Good or bad character is based on what one does, not on how one looks.

I should not have to defend myself against an author’s biases. My son should never have to be introduced to the reality that a hefty chunk of the population thinks less of his mother simply because she’s fat and that it is entirely acceptable (nay, celebrated) for this idea to be portrayed in fiction so popular that it’s made its author one of the richest women in the world.

It breaks my heart to have to censor any book of reasonable age-appropriateness that I read to my son for any reason whatsoever. Here’s hoping your next writing endeavor is free of fatphobia.

No love today,

-Heidi

Boring Readers Since 2008

Well, I THINK this blog was created at some point in 2008. I could check the Archives, sure, but what would be the fun in that?!

I’m still dragging. This has been Seattle’s coldest spring in nearly sixty years. Literally. It’s been rainy and grey for all of April but the Saturday before Easter, and was rainy and grey for the entirety of the months of 2011 before that, except for a couple of glorious days in February, now long forgotten. I don’t mind rain, really, and cloudy skies make the spring blossoms that much brighter but my body knows that it’s missing out on Vitamin D and I fight the good fight against what I think is a touch of SAD all winter here. Yes, I take Vitamin D (when I remember).

Mostly it’s just school, school, and more school. Trying to keep up with six projects in two and a half weeks (now down to four, having turned in one group project that added up to 54 PowerPoint slides, as well as a brief essay) is a lot when I’m also working. Thank goodness for my biweekly counseling sessions, in which I am currently exploring the concepts of “Heidi is not responsible for fixing every broken system,” “Heidi needs to be creative and do fun things too,” and “Heidi is not responsible for maintaining every friendship/personal relationship that she has without equal input from the other person too.” All three of these are very difficult for me, the brokenness/relationship issues being particularly sticky points because they tie SO very deeply to that TCK (third-culture kid) sense of loss and grieving. For me, as a TCK, I’ve spent my life losing people I love, not to death but to distance.

I can’t write any more about that, I find, without falling apart. We’ll leave it there for now.

The creative bits, well, I need little pieces of creativity sprinkled through my routine – not just a couple of hours of mosaicing on the weekends, as and when I can, but things like taking up art journaling and maybe, when I have the cash, purchasing my dream set of 132 Prismacolor art pencils, a couple of art coloring books, and coloring a page now and then. Little things.

Boring things to everyone else. Sanity to me. If I don’t find a happy medium between my must-do life and my want-to-do life, I will crack and shatter into a million silent, dead, broken pieces.

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