Saturday, May 27, 2017

It was 20 years ago today

This is a true story.

May 27, 1997. I am standing in my house with my dog, looking out the back window, watching the low, heavy clouds over my backyard coalesce into a swirl. A shaggy funnel dips down and back up, down and back up, over and over. My hand is on the dog's collar. We have no basement.

I stare out the window for a full five minutes after the last funnel sign, then I call my mother, who is watching my one-year-old son at her house ten miles away. We are moving to an interior room, she tells me. We'll get into the bathtub.

I walk out the front door of my house, locking it behind me with the dog inside. I worry whether she and it will be here when I get back. On my way to the car I meet a neighbor coming home who tells me I'm crazy. She tells me to get back inside. I tell her I can't. I tell her I have an appointment.

As I'm driving east, I look to the north and see a fully formed funnel cloud skipping over the horizon. I can't tell how far away it is. It doesn't look real. It looks like a cartoon. It's early afternoon but the sky is black as night. My hands tighten on the wheel.

I pull into the parking lot of a building that is made entirely of glass. Every wall is a black window, three stories up. Black windows against a black sky. The air is still as I get out of my car. There is no birdsong, but there's a distant howl. A sound of rushing.

I walk inside. I make my way down a glass-fronted hallway in this building made of glass and turn a handle, but the door is locked. I can see there are people inside, so I knock. A woman hurries over.

What are you doing here, she says. We're all going home, she says. Have you looked outside, she says.

I say No.
I say Listen.

I have been bleeding through my entire first trimester. I have hyperemesis so severe that I have to take Phenergan suppositories just to keep down water, much less food or prenatal vitamins. I have read the books and I'm pretty sure this is a molar pregnancy, an ectopic pregnancy, twins, dead twins. I have an appointment today, right now, to hear the heartbeat for the first time. I'm going to hear that heartbeat.

The truth is I only said some of those things. The truth is that being taken out in a shower of glass and rebar was the least of my concerns right then.

I say Please.

She takes me back to a room. The exterior wall is glass. I lay on the paper-lined table and turn my head to the right. I watch the still air outside give way to shrieking gusts as I pull my top up to my bra and slide my pants below my hipbones. She tucks paper into my waistband and squirts cold jelly just above my pubic bone. Stunted trees whip in a frenzy outside the wall-window as she slides the wand across my abdomen and after an eternity during which I'm sure my house and dog and son and mother are obliterated by an angry or worse apathetic god I hear it: lublublublublublub. Faster than fast. A herd of frothing horses.

That's a good, strong heartbeat, she says.
Be careful out there, she says.

I say Thank You.
I say You Too.

I rush to my car. I drive home in a downpour so thick I can't see beyond my windshield. If there are funnel clouds to my north, ich kenn ihnen nicht. If there are funnel clouds to my north, I can't worry about them now. I am carrying a baby with a good, strong heartbeat. I am carrying an alive baby.

The 3.4 miles between the hospital and my house take thirty minutes.
My house, which is still standing.
My house, with my alive dog inside.

I call my alive mother. Later, she will bring my alive son home. Later, I will insert a Phenergan suppository and take a prenatal vitamin and try very hard keep them both inside.

Six months and two days later, I will look into the face of my beautiful alive H for the very first time.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Nolite te bastardes carborundorum

We are on the downhill slope of my second-least-favorite season and the weather has been damp and ooky and my mold allergies are killing me and apparently this happens every year in May, which probably means I've complained about it every year in May, so let this be a lesson to you: don't live in the past, you guys. It deprives you of the pleasure of complaining in the present.

Things that have been happening around these parts:

  • In February I replaced my ancient clock radio with a clock that is not a radio, so I bought a cheap battery radio and I'm a little embarrassed by how much I've been enjoying it. I have satellite radio in my car and I've been listening to streaming playlists pretty exclusively when NOT in my car for a number of years now and hey, radio is a thing that still exists and that makes me happy. Also there are no Tejano stations in my XM subscription, but there are like 47 of them just on the FM band alone. So yay.
  • In March we stripped C's room down to the studs and completely re-did it in a fit of "you're an adult now and your outer environment reflects your inner environment and vice-versa" and I'm not sure it changed anything for him in any substantial way, but it was a badly needed clearout so we're counting it a win.
  • In April C turned 21 and P turned 52 and I did something weird to my foot that required (inconclusive) x-rays and crutches but got completely better on its own after a couple of weeks, so April was kind of exhausting. Also in April my hair finally became long enough for a ponytail, and I cast on for a Berroco Vine in Madelinetosh.
  • So far in May: I got a new grill for Mother's Day (yay!), I removed the Facebook app from my phone (best decision EVER), and daughter H moved out of my house and into an apartment with some friends (OMG). She's only about five minutes away, so close and yet so far. Also in May son C got his learner's permit for driving a car (he already has a full-blown motorcycle license) and I don't have a photo of the used car P bought him earlier this year (2010 convertible VW bug because he needs to feel the wind in his hair, man) but yeah, he's learning to drive a car now. So that's happening. Maybe the room remodel DID work.
I have been reading lots of really good books and I have accomplished this by discarding books that aren't excellent within the first 100 pages or so. In the fiction realm I can recommend without reservation Erika Swyler's The Book of Speculation (especially if you liked The Night Circus), Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible (can you believe I'd never read it?), Paulette Jiles's News of the World (excellent), Emily Bitto's The Strays (fascinating), and Rachel Joyce's The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (which was not at all what I was expecting, in a good way). 

In the non-fiction genre, I loved Mychal Denzel Smith's Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching, Bryan Stevenson's Just Mercy, Scott B. Christmas's Washington's Nightmare: A Brief History of American Political Parties, Saroo Brierley's Lion, and Rebecca Skloot's The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

Right now I'm re-reading The Handmaid's Tale for the first time in decades (I don't have a Hulu subscription so I'm not watching it, but the movie with Natasha Richardson and Faye Dunaway is seared into my mind). Next up? Probably Joyce's The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy. Which normally I wouldn't go near based on the title alone because I'm such a fucking elitist, but it's a companion volume to Harold Fry and now I kind of need to know.

Pursuant to the article above re: Facebook, I'm hoping my abandonment of that medium will encourage me to write more often in this particular medium, so we'll see what happens. Meanwhile I most definitely am not abandoning Twitter or Instagram; you can find me there at @saltycrunchy for my personal accounts (my personal Instagram is private so if I don't know who you are, I'm afraid you're out of luck there) or @kmshealthcoach for my professional accounts (which are public AF, as the kids say). 

Any and all food blogging type stuff is now happening on my professional Instagram account, if that tempts you at all. If foul-mouthed liberal rantings are more your thing, I recommend my personal Twitter (which is public). Or, you know, check back here occasionally. There's bound to be all SORTS of foul-mouthed liberal ranting in the weeks and months to come.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Now get in the pit and try to love someone

My Grandpa R would have been 97 years old today, and four years ago today I returned home from attending his funeral. I'm pretty sure that was the last time I saw all my cousins and aunts and uncles and snow, and maybe also my sister-in-law if you don't count Skype, and that was the first AND last time I ate for-real-honest-to-God Cincinnati chili IN CINCINNATI because we're from Canton, yo.

I don't know what else to say about today except that for most of the world it's St. Valentine's Day, but for me and mine today is, was and always will be Grandpa's Birthday.

Speaking of saints, did y'all watch The Young Pope and if so, did you like it? Because I did. I watched it and I liked it. Yep. I've enjoyed most of Jude Law's work (whatever with those Sherlock movies) since I saw him years ago in a weird little vampire flick called The Wisdom of Crocodiles and I don't care what anyone says, he killed it in this. So there.

Also liking, on the tee-vee: Victoria. Turns out I DON'T hate Jenna Coleman, I just hate Clara Oswald! So ... glad we got that worked out. I very much hope they're eventually going to cover all the attempts made on Queen Victoria's life because I have a whole book about that which I haven't yet read.

I'm still re-reading the Harry Potter books for pure escapism, and reading other stuff for the opposite of that. Like Jane Meyer's Dark Money (terrifying/infuriating), Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now (look, I was trying something, okay?), Christiane Northrup's The Wisdom of Menopause (stop making that face) and Mychal Denzel Smith's Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching (so far fantastic). Next up: Bryan Stevenson's Just Mercy. And the rest of The Order of the Phoenix.

After taking half a year off of health coaching, trying to come up with a way to do that and get the work/life balance I originally wanted, giving up and considering myself retired, a deregulation-inspired light bulb finally went off and I have now shifted my focus from direct coaching back to advocacy/activism/education around food. Pretty excited about it. Still in the process of rolling it out via social media and whatnot.

So yeah. Life goes on. We endure. Resistance and persistence, y'all. Resistance and persistence. Now go hug your grandpa, if you've still got one. And your grandma, too.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

We can be heroes

Well hey, there. We haven't spoken since early November. That's because  since November 8th, 2016, a date which will live in infamy, my inner monologue has sounded a little something like this:

It's not really conducive to blogging. Or to anything else requiring any concentration whatsoever.

In December I lost the ability to read books. Like, I still knew HOW to read, but books just weren't happening. I'm happy to say that went away after Christmas and I've since read and LOVED Alfred Lansing's Endurance, Ben H. Winters's Underground Airlines and Solomon Northup's Twelve Years  a Slave (this assumes the word "loved" can be applied to engaging, well-written books with horrific subject matter, in which case it would be accurate to say I'm currently loving Jane Miller's Dark Money).

Interspersed with the above, I've also been re-reading all the Harry Potter books because my privilege allows me not to think about horrible things every single second of every single day and my suicidal ideation requires that I occasionally indulge that privilege. I'd forgotten how different the books are from the movies, which I also love, but Peeves really got the shaft, eh? Whither Peeves?

This week is really really hard for more than half of us, if the numbers are correct, and I don't really know how to cope beyond donating money to the ground troops in the war for peace and equality and decency and science-based everything. And reading about wizards.

I'm trying to avoid social media but I crave connection but I don't want to leave my house. I want to say everything will be okay but I don't believe that's true but I don't want to bum everybody out.

Here's what I know:

  • The sun is out today for the first time in more than a week (of rain and gloom and damp) and I intend to enjoy it.
  • Homemade soup is the bees knees.
  • I can and will lose all the weight I put on over the holidays. So can you.
  • I can feel all the bad feelings and still put more love and kindness out into the world. So can you.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Triangle man hates particle man

I am doing this thing now where I wake up at like 3 or 4 in the morning to pee and then I can't back to sleep and it is not fun, let me tell you. My head is full of words at that time of day and I compose lengthy, eloquent blog posts for you all, but they evaporate right out of my head -- poof -- in the conversion from horizontal to vertical. So lucky for you, I don't have a lot to say today except to tell you about some things I am super duper loving right now.

1. Knitting! I still get it! I don't know why this foreign language suddenly started making sense to me at the ripe old age of 49, but it did and I am glad. I'm still working on the parallelogram wrap and also I made the Selkie Hat from issue #17 of Taproot Magazine (pictured up there just after I started decreasing and just before I had to rip out said decreasing because I lost a stitch somewhere along the way)(hey, I said I understood it, I didn't say I was good at it)(I did finish the hat, though)(and if it ever stops being in the 90s, I may even get to wear it). If you're on Ravelry and got a friend request from saltycrunchy, that's me! Hello! Please be my friend. Don't make me beg.

2. Those pants up there are the Barcelona Pants from Earthbound Trading and I have three pairs in three different colors and I love them so so much, the end.

3. Claire Robertson of Loobylu fame has a new email newsletter, the Small Batch List, and it's one of the highlights of my week.

4. Alice Bradley of finslippy fame ALSO has a new email newsletter and it's one of the OTHER highlights of my week. (Seriously, I have been unsubbing newsletters willy-nilly the past couple of months but these two are keepers. You will love them.)

5. Yesterday C and I were talking about how we both need math refreshers (calculus for him, um ... long division for me, shut up) and long story short, we re-discovered Khan Academy and holy cats is free education ever super cool. (I know that for some of you revisiting high school -- or elementary school, in my case -- math is your idea of hell and I get that but they have LOADS of other stuff, too. Art history! Computer animation! Macroeconomics AND microeconomics! Astronomy! This is good shit!)

6. I haven't managed to read many books since last we talked, but I did like the new Tana French and I'm currently reading and biting my fingernails through The Forgetting Time which is so so good. Just today I bought the Kindle version of The Good Girls Revolt because I tried watching the show but it gave me an anxiety attack and I had to turn it off halfway through the first episode just like with Mad Men, argh. (Have we talked about how I used to be a journalist and how my actual degree is in advertising and what the job market was like in Texas in the late '80s and early '90s and about Good Old Boy culture? Well, let's not. I've expended rather a lot of effort in the direction of drinking away those memories.)

7. Mostly because of the knitting I've been listening to audiobooks and other audio-type media products. Amazon has some kind of deal going now with Audible (because the former owns the latter, from my understanding) such that Prime members have access to Audible Channels and I can't figure out how to link to it for the life of me but Nick Offerman has this Bedtime Stories for Cynics channel and it's so great. Just don't play it with your kids in the room. Unless they're already jaded adults like mine are.

8. My state has early voting and it's pretty much the best thing ever. Enough said.

Okey-doke. Off to take a nap. Happy Friday, everyone!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

And I like to kick, streeeeetch, and KICK!

I turned fifty years old last month, holy shit. There was a time when I didn't think I would make it.

I have suffered from depression with suicidal ideation off and on for pretty much my entire life. Certainly all/most of my adult life. It was particularly bad in my 20s and 40s for some reason, and for real, I thought it would kill me. I really did. I never was able to picture myself at fifty and I just couldn't conceive of it ever happening. But it did!

I don't know whether my diet, yoga, meditation, etc. are the cause -- all of that certainly helped with my depression and anxiety -- but Death no longer is my seductive imaginary lover. Death and I are more like an old married couple now. The fascination/obsession stage is over and now we're just comfortable companions, Death and I. We've learned each other's habits. We have boundaries. Every now and then, Death says, "Now?" And I say, "Nope, not today."

We're all going to die someday, but I can say with 98% certainty that in my case, it won't be on purpose. Or at least not on purpose by me. I could be murdered, I suppose. So yeah. I'm FIFTY!

I'm fifty years old and I have learned a few things, you guys:

  1. Some people believe it is their God-given right to drive in the left lane and there is nothing you can do about that.
  2. Pursuant to Article 1, some people are going to drive 10 m.p.h. below the posted speed limit even in perfect weather/road conditions and there's nothing you can do about that, either.
  3. Sometimes #1 and #2 are the same person. Just breathe through it, you guys. Breathe the fuck through it while you putt-putt along behind these fucking assholes fellow citizens of the planet.
  4. Hollywood doesn't have any new ideas. They're just going to keep re-making shit and adapting books from now until the zombie apocalypse. You can't do anything about that, unless you (a) come up with a new idea and manage to sell it, or (b) figure out a way to hasten the zombie apocalypse.
  5. It's okay to stop reading a book you don't like, stop watching a TV series that has become terrible, leave food on your plate, throw away leftovers, quit a job that sucks your soul right out of you, leave a relationship that isn't working, and block, unfriend or deny friend requests from people on Facebook. Really. It's okay.
  6. Molding yourself into something you think a specific person or group of people will like is fun for about a month. After that it sucks and is terrible and you will come to hate that person/persons and to blame them for your own disingenuous bullshit. So just be yourself and make peace with the fact that only a VERY few people may get what you're about and like you. Each of those people is worth, like, a HUNDRED people who just sort of tolerate you.
  7. Never buy sushi from a gas station, a hamburger from a seafood restaurant, or pre-made chia pudding from anywhere at all.
  8. Fifty absolutely is not the new thirty and THANK GOD FOR THAT. Fifty is its own thing, and for real, you guys, it's pretty damn great. I'm not sure anyone in the history of turning fifty has been as happy about it as I am. I made it! I'm fifty. Holy shit.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

I'm worth a million in prizes

Look at me, I don't blog at you for ages and then I only pop in to tell you about my trip to Ireland, like an asshole. Well, Ireland only took up a week, you guys. Plenty of other stuff has been going on!

You may remember that we had to pull H out of school just before the end of her senior year for reasons that are too complicated to go into, but I am happy to tell you that she worked her ass off and completed all of her graduation requirements over the summer, and one evening last month we got to see her cross the stage in her cap and gown to receive her high school diploma. Proud doesn't even begin to cover it, y'all. She's taking a semester off from school to work full-time and will be starting college in January if all goes according to plan.

C decided that getting around town via an electric bike and whatever crappy excuse for public transportation exists out here in the 'burbs wasn't really cutting it anymore, but he still felt that driving an actual car would be way too anxiety-inducing, so long story short, he's now the proud owner of a Class M driving license and a new street-legal scooter.

When he and P first discussed doing this, I was picturing, you know, a little moped scooter. Like this:

But what he actually got was one of these:

I know, right? Did you know that a scooter is just a motorcycle with automatic transmission? Because I did not know that. But I do now.

I finally found some books I like! When did we last talk about books? Holy shit, I think it was in December? When I did my yearly wrap-up? That's just wrong. Here are the books I've loved so far in 2016:

  • Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel - LOVED LOVED these books. Thomas Cromwell, who knew?
  • The Snow Child and To The Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey - not series/sequel type books; they are unrelated apart from both taking place in Alaska and having the same author, but they are so, so good. Gorgeous storytelling.
  • Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith, aka J.K. Rowling - the third Cormoran Strike book. My husband doesn't love these as much as I do, but I do, oh I do.
  • In the Sounds and Seas by Marnie Galloway - incandescently beautiful graphic novel that explores the nature of myth and humanity and community and creativity and all sorts of big topics but in such a beautiful and approachable way.
  • The Rook by Daniel O'Malley - it's like a grown-up Harry Potter, y'all! So great. He writes female characters so well, it's nuts.
Right now I'm re-reading all of Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad books because (a) I've actually been to Dublin now! It's not at all how I pictured it. And (b) there's a new one coming out in October.

After trying to knit in fits and starts for approximately the past decade and a half, I had some weird cosmic knitting breakthrough a few months ago and yeah, I knit now. I am a knitter type person. Really what I am is a pedantic pattern-follower, and when the patterns actually work out it gives me an inflated sense of my own competency, but whatever, it counts. I spent late winter and early spring of this year knitting a layette for my cousin's new baby girl and it was BANANAS; at one point I was holding stitches for this teensy little cardigan on two different sets/sizes of circular needles while knitting another bit on straight needles and I had NO idea how it was all going to come together, but it did and I felt like a superhero. So yeah. Knitting!

While knitting that layette I managed to watch 10 seasons of Bones on Netflix, heh. Now I'm knitting another thing, this weird parallelogram wrap with double moss stitch and chevron stitches and stairsteps and all kinds of weirdness, and I had thought I might watch all the seasons of Gilmore Girls (which I never saw when it was on TV) while knitting it but about halfway through the first season I decided I REALLY  hated Lorelei and toward the end of the second season I started hating Rory too, so I had to stop. And I've still got like a million pattern repeats left on the wrap. What should I watch, you guys? I've already seen Stranger Things and didn't love it as much as the rest of you did, so ... yeah.

In other news, my most recent pedicure (pictured up there somewhere) left me with a nasty case of onycholysis in both big toes, so now my knitting will smell like tea tree oil (antibacterial) and coconut oil (antifungal) because I knit with my feet. (Not really. Just wanted to see if you were paying attention.)