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.)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

We found the craic

They say it's the same sky the world over but it isn't, not really. I'd never been so far north and east of home before and my body was in shock for one full day of the seven that we spent in Ireland this summer, husband P and me, half a world away from everything we knew and everyone we loved.

Nearly seventeen hours of daylight per day but temperatures like our winter back home. The softest rain I've ever felt against my skin. Everything in Texas wants to kill you; the sun cracks you open and the rain leaves welts and the insects sting and the reptiles drip venom and the scrubby vegetation holds no sustenance or comfort. But Ireland seduces. It promises soft rain and succulent grasses, hot whisky and peat fires, a woolen blanket of heartstring-thrummed music. It catches your eye and then glances away, brushes against you then shows you its shoulder, caresses and then draws back with a sharp slap.

We arrived in Dublin on a Sunday morning, brilliant and crisp, church bells pealing, giddy with lack of sleep. P had told me we would fly over land almost the entire way, right up the Eastern Seaboard and across Canada to Greenland, up and over, hardly any water at all, but that was a lie. We flew up the Eastern Seaboard and Canada until we ran out of Canada and then we shot straight across the Atlantic. I have a phobia of heights and depths and the shock of having done that left me feeling completely reckless and outside of myself. I didn't even think about punching the cab driver at the airport when he called me "sweetheart".

I was left to my own devices in Dublin as P was attending a conference, the whole reason for our trip. The furthest I walked on any one day was from Christ Church Cathedral all the way back to our hotel near Upper Leeson with stops at Dublin Castle and St. Stephen's Green on the way. I sat in the Long Room in the Old Library at Trinity College for an hour with its soft light through the vellum-covered windows, perfume of old books and comfortable rustling of faded ghosts while French tourists whispered to one another over my shoulder and tried not to get in the way of my photos. Nice happened three days later.

I wandered across the stunning tilework at Christ Church Cathedral, gawping at the beauty of it all, and snorted down the ancient stone smell of the crypt like a line of coke, trying to draw every last particle of it into my body to keep it a part of me forever.

I wandered the grounds and gardens at Dublin Castle, home of Tana French's fictional Dublin Murder Squad. I inhaled my way through St. Stephen's Green, startling tiny ruffled birds in the undergrowth. I stomped my Keens up and down Grafton Street until tourists started asking me for directions.

I spent an entire day in bed in our hotel sure that I was dying, lifting the "Do Not Disturb" sign just long enough to accept cups of rooibos tea and bowls of beef and Guinness stew from room service.

I ate rashers of that odd hammy bacon that only exists outside the US, I ate black and white pudding and the most delicious little crisp-skinned  pork sausages, I ate salmon and hake and smoked mackerel at Farm and Hatch and Sons and The Sussex. I ate the most gorgeous flourless cakes with clouds of whipped cream. I forgave Ireland everything all over again -- the spitting rain and wind and sentient, malevolent gloom -- every single time I put a fork in my mouth.

And just like that, P's conference was over and we were on a train to Limerick.

We stayed in the Medieval Quarter on King's Island, within walking distance of St. Mary's Cathedral and King John's Castle and the Milk Market. All of which were absolutely spectacular.

And then one day we piled into a van with another American named Arthur, a lovely English lady named Carol and four nameless-to-us Italians while an Irishman named Frank drove us around County Clare, through The Burren, up to Black Head and around to the Cliffs of Moher and it was quite possibly the best day of my life.

I can't explain quite what it was about County Clare that burrowed deep inside me and has stayed there ever since. A good many of my ancestors came from Ireland and I have no idea whether any of them ever even set foot in County Clare, but walking through The Burren and wandering Caherconnell and Poulnabrone, driving through Ballyvaughan and Lisdoonvarna, seeing those karst domes razed down to bumps in the last ice age and the erratics left scattered around Galway Bay by the glaciers -- something about that felt familiar. Not in a past life sort of way or anything woo-woo like that. It felt like something I didn't even know was missing had been returned. It mended something in me that I hadn't realized was broken. I don't have any other words to describe it.

I don't sleep when I travel. It doesn't matter whether I'm in the same time zone as home or six time zones away. In Dublin the view out our hotel window looked like this:

And so in Dublin I spent long hours staring toward the ceiling in the pitch dark, listening to Hindu devotional music through my earbuds, conjugating German verbs and otherwise trying not to wake P before his long days of conferencing.

In Limerick, though, we were right on the River Abbey.

And so every morning when I inevitably woke before sunrise, I'd carefully insert myself between the curtains and the glass and just sit in the window for the hour or so before P woke up, watching the eastern sky for signs of light and the water for signs of life. And then the final morning we were there, just a few hours before we hopped a cab for Shannon Airport and home, this:

Two swans somehow made their way up the Shannon to the Abbey to just below my window in the paper-thin morning. And as corny as it sounds, it felt like Something. Like a gift. Like a promise.

Oh, and if you're looking for the craic? It's at the Locke. You're welcome.