Skip to content

All Thoughts Fly

My son turned 20 recently. Today we’re attending a shower to celebrate with friends who are having their first child. We are at very different stages of the journey. I’ve always felt a little out of step with my peer groups. For years I’ve been trying to accept that without judgment. It feels awfully lonely at times. But I do enjoy the freedom that comes with having an adult child, and with being single and not having to compromise. I do what I want when I want.

Five items of interest:

A few years ago I started reading Tana French’s gripping Dublin Murder Squad books. Murder mysteries are not my usual genre. I generally go big on speculative fiction, sci-fi, urban fantasy, etc. But she’s a fantastic writer. I have my reservations about this adaptation though. And it seems I’m not the only one:

Dublin Murders Makes a Murky Mess of Tana French’s Lyrical Crime Novels
Combining In the Woods and The Likeness breaks both books’ delicate spell.

Though I’ll likely give in at some point over the coming winter. We’ll see. I’ve already got the new Watchmen and His Dark Materials series to keep up with, along with Stumptown. And I haven’t gone back to Preacher or Legion for their latest seasons. I’ve had too much non-fiction living to do.

Into the woods on a wintry day

From Darkness Into Darkness

Daylight saving time always messes me up. Doesn’t matter if it’s springing ahead or falling back. My internal chronometer has trouble reconciling the new reality with the time my body thinks it is. It’s worse than jet lag. At least that involves the adventure of a journey - instead of staying in the same place while collectively agreeing on the fiction of a new time. Not the sort of time travel I find compelling. I’ve been flailing all week. And trying not to drown in the dire news cycles. But there have been some random beacons of hope in the murk.

Five glimmers of light in the gloom:

I’m closing out this weird week with some pretty big news. Something I had been cautiously optimistic about. And I’m curious how it will continue to unfold. But I can’t go public with that just yet. Though I may be squeeeeing on the inside a bit.

Olive knows she is not supposed to be on the table

That’s How the Light Gets In

October was strangely eventful and uneven. Full of change. Mostly beneficial. The cultivating of calm is going fairly well and I’ve had some lucky breaks. I’ve already been teaching on Tuesday nights, after my day job. I was scheduled to teach on Thursday nights as well, starting next week. That would have made for two 14 hour workdays per week instead of one. Thankfully, too few students enrolled in the class so it was canceled. I’m not even mad (hugely relieved). And somehow it is November already. The next two months will be the usual blur of the holiday season then boom, I’ll be vacationing in Lisbon. It is so lovely to have this Portugal trip to look forward to. Past Sharyn did me a solid there.

Five fabulous things for Friday, music edition:

In other news, my kid doesn’t have class on Fridays but he’s going down to the college today anyhow, for his first meeting with the anime club. I’m a proud nerd mom.

The adorable tabbies who won't let me make my bed
A sunflower, still hanging on
The last of the Fall leaves still hanging on

Reboarding My Train of Thought

My anxiety can make it difficult for me to focus. For years, I’ve been wearing over the ear headphones while working. And while walking, listening to podcasts on my daily treks. My weak points are stillness and mindfulness. I’m working on it. Recently, I cut off contact with someone I care about because I find him to be exhausting. If he takes steps to take care of himself I will happily revisit this relationship. Until then, I don’t want that kind of chaos in my life. It’s draining. But I will miss his companionship. Last year we came together for “cuffing season” and it was mostly comforting and comfortable (but not without its ups and downs). This season I will be partnerless. Again. But probably for the best until I get a better handle on my anxious attachment style.

I’ve also begun using the Calm app for guided meditation, at the recommendation of my therapist. I’ve been following through daily but I’m still fidgety. I can feel the difference after one of the 10-11 minute sessions but during them I find myself yawning, sometimes nearly drooling - while trying to focus on my breath - and my mind definitely wanders. A work in progress but a worthwhile one to help manage my anxiety.

Yes, I’m trying to focus but I do love my distractions. Here are five of them:

Bonus: It’s that time of year again! “5 Hours of Edgar Allan Poe Stories Read by Vincent Price & Basil Rathbone.” We love Halloween around here. I’ve posted an ode to All Hallows Eve on my photoblog and now I can’t get Werewolf Bar Mitzvah out of my head. Spooky scary.

Sunday selfie, walking around Lake Harriet

Unlawful to Pass

Lately, we’ve had plenty of good-to-great in our lives but that’s been mitigated by the downright draining. Falling into Fall. I’m working on reframing my reality so I don’t feel exhausted all of the time but it’s been an uphill battle. We took a weekend road trip recently, which was lovely, but left me feeling like I’d gotten that much more behind on all the tasks I need to manage. My To-Do list is overloaded. Trying to give myself frequent pep talks though.

Five things I have enjoyed:

  • I missed the bulk of this year’s Arab Film Fest but did make it to opening night, for Elia Suleiman’s It Must Be Heaven. It was a delight. Sparse on dialogue but overflowing with visual humor and absurd vignettes. So glad I saw it on the big screen.
  • New music from Trentemøller has been in my rotation so much it’s become the soundtrack to daily life. Soothing. But there’s been a surplus of other great new releases lately from a number of artists I enjoy. Kim Gordon. Uranium Club. Nick Cave.
  • Speaking of Nick Cave, I was lucky enough to catch his music + Q&A show at the Pantages recently. Seated shows can be a bit of a bummer for me, as a mostly unattached/single person. I’ve gone to many alone in the last year or two but it can be an isolating experience. Thankfully, I was able to have my adult step-niece join me and we had a lovely evening out. I’ve also seen Darsombra, Stereolab and William Tyler in the past couple of weeks.
  • The television adaptation of Stumptown (originally a great comic book) is easily one of the best things I’ve watched lately. So far just three episodes are out but I watched them all and was left wanting more, STAT.
  • Last weekend I took the kid to the MCBA FallCon, like you do. And he suited up in his cosplay, like he does. What was unusual? A good friend had flown in unannounced from the Bay Area and surprised me out front. It was so great to see her I nearly burst into tears.

I’ll admit, I have been overextending myself with obligations. So in my limited downtime, I need to focus on what brings me the most joy. To that end, I bailed on all plans today other than staying home in pajamas. And showering, only to change into fresh pajamas. Stress baking may have been involved as well.

Middle Eastern comfort food
single leaf
Maria and Me, cheek to cheek
Son with sunflowers
bumblebee, coming in for a landing
Fall colors
milkweed pods

Darkness Around the Edges

The last week has been death by a thousand paper cuts. So many gripes!

  • Somehow I deleted the last post I published, a few days ago, and I can’t seem to find it.
  • The return of sticky-hot summer weather increased my irritability exponentially. And yes, I do miss the central air conditioning we enjoyed in our last two homes. We no longer have this. Instead, I have an ancient window unit in my bedroom. And when I tried using it? It tripped the circuit breakers. And I haven’t sorted that out just yet.
  • I was tired all day Monday but marched myself through the workday. And dragged myself to therapy after. Only to find my therapist wasn’t there. She had forgotten to tell me she would be at a conference. Which ensured I was driving home at peak rush hour in thick stop and go traffic. Cool.
  • My auto loan lender still owes me $304.26. It took no less than six phone calls to get to the bottom of it. And it sounds like it will take a while before I get it back.
  • Woke to the sound of breaking glass at 3am. Thankfully, it wasn’t an intruder. It was a framed print falling off the kitchen wall. The adrenaline rush stayed with me for hours.
  • There’s a dead squirrel decomposing below my kitchen window but across the property line. I would like the neighbors to deal with it.
  • I purchased a ticket to see comedian Ron Funches next month. It was inexplicably refunded. The date still appears on his tour calendar but his page has been removed from the comedy festival’s site.
  • My Fitbit died but I’d left the proprietary charger at work. I took a long walk around the lake but for a minute I was thinking “but it won’t count! All those lost steps!” Ludicrous, of course, but proof that gamification works.
Looking for ways to turn this funk around.
Cat, about to jump into a windowsill

The Psychology of Waiting

The first podcast that hooked me was 99% Invisible. They’ve just celebrated their nine-year anniversary (congrats!) with yet another engrossing episode. This time about the psychology of waiting. And - one of my favorite things - the notion of radical transparency. Which helps reduce anxiety, among other things. For the frustrated worker sitting behind a slow computer, the commuter waiting for a train or a resident wondering when the city will tear down an abandoned property. Definitely worth listening to.

Five more items that have inspired me recently:

On the home front, we have settled in nicely. Nearly everything is already in its place. We continue to refine. Reorganizing cupboards and closets. Today I unpacked a few more bins (there aren’t many left) and hung the remaining art that was waiting for its wall spot. It’s strange to think I spent the bulk of the summer wishing I could fast forward - through all the tough work of moving - to this very week and here I am! Home. Where I may have binge-watched Carnival Row this weekend.

Olive the cat, checking out all the new and exciting window sills

Begin the Begin

It felt like I limped to the finish line but I did it! Friday night I got our old place cleaned out (with the assistance of a professional house cleaner) and cleared the remaining junk out of my old garage. Then slept for a solid eight hours. A rarity. Saturday I was so wiped out I allowed myself to stay in pajamas and indoors all day long. But I was basking. My last go at homeownership was a complete nightmare. I hadn’t expected to choose this path again. But I am older (20 years older) and wiser (I hope) and this place feels so right. I feel it in my bones. I made such a solid choice and am equal parts overjoyed and relieved. The entire household is settling in nicely. The cats are enjoying all of the open windows to perch in - the last place was on a busy street and it was too loud to open the windows. My son and I are both thrilled with our lovely new kitchen. We’ve made multiple meals and batches of baked goods and have already run the dishwasher at least four times. After being deprived of one for over a year. I’ve already got some of our art hung along with curtains. And plans in the works to replace the tacky light fixtures. But the big things are out of the way. The walls were repainted before we moved in and our important items have been unpacked and put in their places. I honestly can’t recall the last time I felt so at home.

Five more items that spark joy:

Living near the lakes is so wonderful. Yesterday - Labor Day - I took a nearly two-hour stroll around them after stepping out of my back door. I’m excited by the prospect of our first Fall here, watching the leaves change. And I may want to travel less for a while, as we settle in here. But oops. I already booked a solo trip to Lisbon for January.

Cats in a window

The Age of Impatience

Simultaneously wanting to fast forward to September (just next week) while panicking that I don’t have enough time. We are moved into our new place. And I love it. But we aren’t completely moved out of the old one. I took a vacation day yesterday. The idea was to clear out more clutter in the old place. I managed one carload before food poisoning struck me down. All my days’ plans had to be scrapped. But I rested in my new bedroom, listening to the rain while reading a good book. That wasn’t so bad. Other positives?

  • We’ve had lovely, cooler than usual weather, perfect for moving and unpacking.
  • Our new kitchen has a dishwasher and garbage disposal. Oh, how I missed both!
  • Our new bathroom has a shower with an amazing shower head. Bliss.
  • We’re much closer to many of our favorite restaurants, people, places, etc.
  • Our new neighborhood is so quiet and peaceful and my bedroom is a beautiful sanctuary.

The cats seem to be settling in nicely. Olive, in particular, has been enjoying all of the open windows to hang out in. We’ve made a few meals here already. We haven’t had a chance to settle in and watch a movie, but soon. I am looking forward to all the new memories we’ll make here. And to not moving again for a very very long time.

Moving Truck

Fight, Flight, Freeze, or Fawn

Aging is an interesting process. Some people seem to get stuck. I’ve been trying to get unstuck. Four or five years ago I found a therapist. I experienced a lifetime of serious trauma that I hadn’t processed but never realized to what extent it impacted my life. I’m sure my therapist was very aware right away and she’s been helping me slowly uncover more and more of it in manageable portions. But she’s had a strange summer and hasn’t been around much. I’m taking things into my own hands a bit more. I know a lot of what I need to do but I have trouble getting out of my own way. I’m not big on a lot of woo-woo business. Evidence-based approaches resonate with me (which is one reason I really gel with my therapist). But there’s something to be said for ideas like vision boarding (I blame/thank Ron Funches for that). And that’s how I found Christie Inge and her site. I knew I was on to something when everything I read on her site caused me to burst into tears. Why yes, I would like to work on “transforming unprocessed feelings, limiting beliefs, bad habits, and self-sabotaging patterns.”

Coincidentally, a close friend gave me the heads up about “fawning” and we both had the same reaction to it (IT ME). 7 Subtle Signs Your Trauma Response is to ‘Fawn’ and, from the same author, People-pleasing can be a result of trauma. It’s called ‘fawning’ — here’s how to recognize it. TOO REAL.

To avoid conflict, negative emotions, and re-traumatization, people who “fawn” when triggered will go out of their way to mirror someone’s opinions and appease them in order to deescalate situations or potential issues. For me, this meant that the more invested I was in an emotional connection, the less likely I was to criticize that person, vocalize when my boundaries were crossed, express unhappiness with their behavior, or share anything that I felt might damage that relationship. This could come across as being excessively nice and complimentary, overly-concerned with another person’s happiness

Again, that is so close to my own experience it feels like I could have written that myself. But knowledge really is power here. Understanding how and why we respond the way we do can help us break bad habits. That is a work in progress for me. I’ve gained a lot of insight so at least I can recognize when I’m falling into unproductive patterns. Now I just need to be kinder to myself when I do backslide. And to realize that some of my coping skills have been beneficial. Sometimes I beat myself up about splurging on travel but I know it’s critical to my well-being. And reading this helped reinforce that: How to Plan Your Most Joyful Trip, According to a Happiness Expert

Why is unscheduled free time so important to our well-being?
There are studies showing that people who have unscheduled time, and who commit to unscheduled time, tend to be happier overall than people who don’t. Overly scheduled time can make us feel anxious. Unscheduled time allows us to have more of a journey.

And I will close with Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies (subtitled Over One Hundred Worthwhile Dilemmas). It was a card-based method for promoting creativity. I don’t have the cards (if only) but there is a web-based randomizer version. My last pick yielded “turn it upside down.” That’s a pretty good one!

Goldenrod Soldier Beetles