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frazzled and bedazzled
I may have mentioned before that my family enjoys watching A&E's Bad Ink. It never fails to amaze and amuse us to see what people will put on their bodies. It's not the act of tattooing that gets us, it's what people choose as the subject matter. Many of the stories seem to start with, "Well, I was drinking..." or "Well, I was mad..." or "I had just turned 18...", so I imagine if one avoids making a permanent choice when in a truly transitory state of mind, you significantly enhance your ability to choose something you won't hate in 10 years. (Or sober up.)

Anyway, all of that was to say that when I therefore caught the Oh No They Didn't headline today having to do with fixing a tattoo, I HAD to click that link. That stuff is like catnip to me.

Amidst the chatter are lots of pictures of bad tattoos, a few of which had me howling with laughter. I've seen some of them before, but it's fun to have a nice collection all in one place.

So this is now saved for some future day when I can really use a laugh. And for you to enjoy today, if you haven't already.

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Am back from the funeral and some weird mixture of being out on a Monday-that-felt-like-a-Sunday and, I don't know, the moon's position in the sky or something, has my brain whizzing around in my head like a 3 year-old on a sugar high.

A combination of avoiding drama and travel to one of the most gawd-awful corners of Oregon meant it had been a lot longer than we realized since we'd been over to see this side of the family for a visit. The week-end was full of those lovely, embarassing moments that happen when you haven't seen people for 15 years and only hear about their lives second-hand and don't see pictures. Such as meeting a cousin and completely mistaking him for the spouse of someone else. (Which was fine because he completely mistook me for my daughter, so we were even. Kinda'. Because I really can't see how he could have taken me for a teen-ager even if he didn't remember me, specifically.)

For the most part, one of the cousins - the calm, collected one with whom we have the best rapport and spent the most time with when we did visit back in the day - was the one who arranged a lot of things and who we hung out with the longest. It really was great to catch up on his life, meet his wife, and get the reasonable version of his mom's illness and manner of dying.

It kind of seems like there's a possibility that future generations could be moving in a much more positive direction than past ones, provided a few things work out. We really are hoping those things work out. Sometimes it's extremely difficult to understand how people think through things and come to a conclusion that's the opposite of what you would conclude, but I guess so long as only the ones making seemingly terrible choices suffer the results of those choices, life feels like it has some fairness to it and you don't mind all the unfair aspects quite so much. (Still, I reserve the right to say, "Really?" to myself as I shake my head in exasperated confusion.)

The funeral service itself was pretty nice and included a military send off. I've been to a few services that include military bits and it always strikes me as a little weird to have a segment that's essentially the glorification of nationalism in the midst of a ceremony for death. I wondered if other countries do that - have speeches and flags and gun salutes for people who were in the military 50 years ago and didn't die as a result of their service - or if it's just the U.S. where you find that. But we need rituals of some sort to help ease us through big things like death, so maybe this is just the result of how a country founded on the concept of separating church and state handles death when there is no single religious ceremony that all attendees can use as a touchstone.

Theoretically, things are back to normal life today, but I'm really suffering from some sort of...I don't know...malaise or ennui or feeling of discontent because while I had a break from work and routine, it wasn't the right kind of break (and it wasn't nearly long enough to work through my I-need-a-vacation issues), so it's almost like I'm worse off than before as respects being able to successfully tell myself to just put my head down and work through it and think about planning a real break later.

It's as if I've had a tiny taste of getting away from home and work and now my brain is obsessed with having a full meal of it, whether that's convenient right now or not. My pre-existing restlessness, added to the thought I have every time I attend a funeral ("don't let time just go by and miss out on living while you can"), is kind of adding up to a recipe of a disaster of the drain-your-retirement-account-and-let-the-future-take-care-of-itself proportions.

So yeah, I really need to get on the vacation brainstorming thing. In the meantime, it would be fantastic if I could just get my brain to cooperate and just stinking concentrate on something for awhile. Pick a lane, brain, pick a lane!

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I'm at one of those phases where there's a plethora of projects to choose from, yet I'm having difficulty in choosing a lane and getting on with things. There are a few projects where I just need a little more info to be able to finish and be done with them, so I guess maybe I'm just nervous to get too involved in anything else knowing that I'll just have to drop it should what I need arrive.

I am too methodical for this multi-tasking world. I find it difficult to get fully engaged in many things at the same time - I work much better concentrating on one thing, then moving on when that thing is done. Through training, I've learned to be able to have multiple balls in the air at the same time. However, being able to juggle doesn't mean I *like* to juggle.

::Sigh:: I've probably been a 75 year-old codger in a younger person's body my whole life, so I can't say I'm surprised to know I'm out of step with yet another aspect of today's reality.

Meanwhile, there's a corner of my mind chewing on something unrelated to work. A friend discovered Chinese astrology and she's been introducing people to their element + animal. I found it much like other astrological descriptions I've seen - about 85% correct and 15% wrong. I know it's got to be like those mind tricks that magician's play where they ask the audience to think of a number, have random people stand up and say numbers aloud, then show you cards where he's written down the numbers the audience members say before he even asked people to stand up. So I know it's not "truth" in that way we like to know truth in this scientific age, yet I still can't see how it's done!

Anyway, the thing my brain latched onto was something about how my sign has a way of being secretive about the full extent of the things they are most interested in/passionate about and only letting others see tiny glimpses of those things. I had never realized it before, but that's totally something I do. I'd guess that my family is the most clued in as respects the direction or theme of the majority of my interests, but there really is no one person who truly knows about/shares all of the things I love to think about, read about, talk about, dream about, want to do and actually do... It's not necessarily that I intend to be secretive about things, it's that for the most part I figure it'd just be a bore to others.

I've become so used to having different groups of people satisfy those different sides of me that now I don't know if it's even possible to find all of the same interests aligned in one person. Even if it is possible, I don't know that I'd actually like it all that much because one of the things I like to do is find out what other people love - if I was with someone who only liked the same things as me, that could be fantastic fun, but it could also be a colossal bore.

I suppose marriage is maybe the place one expects to find "the one", but my husband and I both found early on that we liked one another better when we maintained a bit of space to entertain ourselves with things that were truly our own. I know some people can work with their spouse, do lots of activities with their spouse, and happily see them day in and day out at home and never get tired of it, but that's not us.

So. I don't know that there's anything to *do* about this new bit of self-knowledge, but that doesn't mean my brain will stop chewing it over when it would be better served just picking a damned project and working on it, even if I do have to stop 10 minutes later.

(Speaking of pre-occupied minds, this article about insomniacs gave me one of the biggest "Well, duh!" moments I can remember. People can't sleep because their brains won't turn off? You don't say! Sheesh!)
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Next Monday I’ll be attending the funeral of a family member of my husband. I didn't really know her myself, so it's not a personal loss to me so much as a loss I just need to help others get through.

Oregon contains a lot of pretty real estate. A lot. Really pretty. We’ve got everything from the ocean to ancient forests to alpine environments to deserts. And almost all of it is fantastic, a real joy to drive through and look at. Unfortunately, the place we’re headed for this funeral is…well…let’s just say it’s the kind of town people LEAVE, not the kind of town people GO TO. Since my husband’s family isn’t originally from that corner of Oregon, it’s a real mystery as to why so many of them are there.

Anyway, in addition to the usual feelings about, you know, attending a funeral, there are the additional sad thoughts about the long, boring drive there and the long, boring drive back, all done in the company of my father-in-law. (Who will probably be chain smoking while I wheeze out the window for fresh air because I can imagine that a stressful event like a funeral is just the thing to get him smoking twice as much as usual.) I’m not really looking forward to any of it. I’m not even partially happy at the thought that this means I need to get a new dress or clothes in general because everything’s all happy and spring-like in the stores and I’ll be foregoing all of that.

Still, all this is nothing (nothing!) in comparison to the pain and suffering the person who died had to endure, so all my angst-ing and negativity is making me feel like the worst kind of Speshul Snoflake today.

You see, it’s not just the thought of next week that’s on the Argh List. There are also a few work things in the mix. The end result is that things that normally roll right off me are sticking like prickly burrs today. The whistling, the multi-person conversations right by my desk, the person who responded to a really specific question with a totally vague and useless email, the person who was absolutely gung ho to do something who is the opposite now that’s it time to actually do the work, the complex project that came to me in a large stack of mostly off-topic documents, the guy who’s holding up a big project by seemingly calling back only when he knows no one will answer, the person asking for something she was given already (and only about a week ago, too), the guy who asked me to hold the elevator for him when he didn’t really plan to use it…these little things that are usually forgotten a split second after they happen are getting to me today.

I dunno, maybe I just need a nap. Or to be told a good joke. (Or heck, even a bad one.) Anyone got a joke to share? A funny kitten video? A happy baby picture? I guess, if all else fails, there’s hope that the exercise I’m planning to do tonight will get me back closer to being a decent person who isn't bothered by idiotic little things.

Blech - now I just have to make it through a few more hours without snapping off someone's head. It's so annoying to be annoyed for no good reason. It's bad enough being annoyed for a good one. And right now, I'm annoyed with myself - that's probably the worst annoyance of all.

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I don't like it. (<--Said in an Andy voice a la Little Britain.)

I mean...if it were given to me, I'd probably warm up to it (even while cursing the insurance premiums). But generally, nah, I'll pass.

Just goes to show how personal a thing real estate can be, I guess...
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As of Friday night, my plan for Saturday included running a couple of errands plus going down to our local Saturday market to possibly catch up with some people while also buying locally produced honey (it works great for helping with pollen allergy symptoms) and looking for something art-ish.

Instead I slept. I slept a lot. I slept about 34 out of the 48 hours of the week-end, and felt like all I wanted to do was sleep most of the hours when I was awake.

I really don't know where that came from. I was feeling fine, really good, actually (the best I've felt since January when I came down with the ick), so I don't know why that much sleep was necessary. But apparently it was.

I spent most of Sunday fighting off the tiredness and did chores around the house with occassional tv-viewing and book-reading breaks.

Though the week-end certainly didn't go like I wanted it to go, I can't say it was a total waste because I feel well-rested for the first time in... Wow...it's kind of weird to think that I've felt tired in some way every day for years, but it's true: I'm pretty sure the last time I felt this way was when I went through a similar period where I just couldn't stop sleeping, then finally felt great, and that was about 6 years ago.

Jeez.

Now that I feel really well-rested, it seems a double shame that I have to waste all of that goodness at work, doesn't it?

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*I've been having trouble sleeping lately, including last night when I clocked about 3 hours of it. As a consequence, I'm feeling like a stroppy toddler today: punch drunk laughing at absurdities one minute and grumbling expletives under my breath the next. (To be fair to myself, it ALWAYS makes me grouchy when someone asks me to do something, I do it, then that person inserts themselves into the process in a way that adds confusion, not value. Grrr! It's kind of a work pet peeve of mine: either have me do it or do it yourself. Don't insert yourself into the middle when you have no idea where things stand. It pretty much never works out. Double grrr!) Given my...moodiness...I should probably just plan on going home directly after work even though there is a part of me that's thinking a drink with a friend would be nice.
*In honor of pi day, I'm waging an epic internal debate as to which sort of pie to consume. Because, you know, this is *important*. Decisions, decisions...
*My husband and I followed most of the Jeopardy! episodes featuring Arthur Chu as the returning champion. For the record, I found his strategy of trampling the board in search of Double Jeopardy answers to be highly irritating (not to mention illogical). Anyway, on his next-to-final appearance, there were three instances throughout the game when both Arthur and another player weren't awarded points based on a technically incorrect question. Thus, I was a bit confused by the fact that Arthur Chu had a technically incorrect response for his final Jeopardy! answer, yet there was no discussion of it. Arthur would have won the game regardless, so it wasn't a matter of snatching victory away from him or anything - it was just puzzling to me that it was a feature a few times during the game, yet it wasn't caught for final Jeopardy! The next day I was telling my husband (before the game started) that I was curious to know if they would address it then: but, no they didn't. My husband just laughed and said, "Boy, when you don't like someone, you REALLY don't like them." Well. Yes. Guilty as charged. But in this instance it wasn't a case of disliking the player (I was irritated by his playing strategy, but he seemed nice enough), it was a case of frustration over an uneven application of the rules. All of which is to say that sometimes I can let the biggest things go, but I'll completely obsess over the little details.
*Decent-ish weather is forecasted for the week-end and I was realizing during this morning's dog walk how much I'm looking forward to just being outside. It's almost a case of not even caring specifically what I do out there - I'm apparently suffering that strain of spring fever which propels you out of doors just because you can be out of doors. (You'll notice I'm not suffering the strain which is telling me I really need to get on task with cleaning stuff like windows and under my bed.)
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• The sun has been competing with the rain this week and the sun is mostly winning. Sunday was fantastic: I got to see a friend’s brand new baby and catch up with friends, the weather was lovely, and it made me feel happy, happy, happy. Such a nice change!
• The other night I left work and the sun was still shining and the temperature was mild and I just stood there for a moment, soaking it in. It felt quite literally like that visual representation you see when you plug in an electronic device and a little lightning bolt shows you that the battery is re-charging. I guess I really missed the sun!
• I feel so dramatically better this week compared to how I felt just two weeks ago, it’s blowing my mind. It’s making me wonder quite seriously whether 1) the seemingly never-ending illnesses that I pick up every January and/or February isn’t really just some normal thing that gets dragged out and enlarged thanks to depression and 2) if I need to pull up stakes and move somewhere that’s sunnier during the winter. Also, I’m not certain about this, but it also seems like the troughs are deeper in the winter than they were even 10 years ago – another “fun” side effect of aging?
• Downside to the extra sun: I got into my car and noticed that the windshield is about 200% dirtier than I thought it was. I have a theory that part of what makes spring cleaning feel so necessary is that it’s the first time in months that we can actually see the dirt. Prior to the sun showing itself again, we’re happily oblivious to the dirt’s existence.
• I came up with what I believe is a brilliant plan for future spring forward/fall back clock changes: do the spring forward on a Monday afternoon (because no one minds losing an hour on a Monday) and the fall back on a Friday night (in order to maximize the week-end). It can work, right? Personally, I always seem to *feel* that lost hour the most on the Monday or Tuesday afterwards, so changing the loss of that hour to a Monday and feeling it Tuesday/Wednesday would work just fine for me.
• We went out to lunch to celebrate a colleague’s birthday this week and I started counting up all of the Pisces (past and present) in my life. I’ve got:
o Adopted mom (birth mom was either an Aries or a Taurus)
o Older Sister
o Younger Sister
o Younger Brother
o Nephew
o Father-in-Law
o Grandmother-in-Law
o 1 Former Colleague I keep in touch with
o 2 Current Colleagues
What I find a bit strange about it is that, apparently, people of the Pisces and Sagittarius persuasion are supposed to get on like a house on fire. In reality, the only one out of these ten people that I’ve ever had any true connection with/seek out to spend time with is the former colleague. I also find it interesting that I seem to have clusters of certain astrology signs in my life (the people I’ve been closest to have been Libras, Sagittarians, and Capricorns), and there are just a handful of all other star signs represented. (I’m guessing there are likely a few not represented at all.) This life-long pattern is one of those things that intrigues and puzzles me because while the logical side of me would say, “What does a person’s astrology sign really have to do with who a person is?”, the instinctive side of me acknowledges that while it shouldn’t make a difference, it seems to be important all the same.
• My baby girl will be graduating high school in mere months (weeks, even!) and is starting to figure out what she wants to do. Nearly all of the options include moving away from home. There’s a part of me that’s saying, “Noooooooooo, don’t go! It can’t be time yet, surely?” while another part is excited for her to be moving on to college and taking steps to form her adult life. It’s such an exciting while scary time in her life and it’s kind of impossible to believe that it’s already here. Seeing that infant on Sunday highlighted just how many phases have come and gone since my daughter was born, but through all of them she’s been her own person with a unique personality who dances to the beat of her own drum. She has been delightful to know every step of the way and I am happy for her sake that quite soon she’ll be able to feel a sense of power and control over what happens next.
• A few friends and I were discussing trying to organize a brunch outing in the near future. With everyone having their own family life, it’s hard getting more than 2-3 people together at any one time – we always have to plan weeks-to-months in advance to pull it off. It’s been so many years since I’ve gone to brunch that I don’t really know where to go. I guess this means I’m going to have to take one for the team and try a few places in the near future? Yes! I can taste the Bloody Marys while sitting on a sun-soaked deck already!
• I was realizing the other day that I need some event to look forward to, like a couple of days off or even a small trip. The state of my finances means I can't do anything too elaborate, but surely I can do something? I'm really going to have to set aside some daydreaming time to ponder this one...

Well. Now that I’ve made myself hungry for pancakes and eggs and hash browns and bacon and fresh-squeezed juice and tea with lemon, I guess my work here is done. (Why do I do this to myself?!?)

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My office was hit with a ransom virus yesterday. I had thought it was my fault because I opened a file from another office of my company where the virus had hit and the problems started soon after that. That is apparently not the case, though. Whew! They've cleaned things up, but boy did it mess up yesterday and today. Ugh.

To add some whipped cream to yesterday, it started pouring rain relatively close to the start of the evening commute time. Even here where it rains all of the time, that kind of rain snarls traffic. The cherry on top of the whipped cream was the car troubles I had on the way home. It turned out to be an easy and inexpensive fix, but being stuck in the middle of the road when there are masses of vehicles behind you that are impatient to be on their way isn't exactly stress-free.

However, I was helped in putting things into perspective a little later in my commute by an accident that happened on my route home: a steel beam had fallen onto a semi-truck. Yep. That actually happened. Thankfully, the driver wasn't injured. Not so nicely, a road that is busy and bumper-to-bumper even when things are going smoothly was absolutely miserable last night.

All in all, my 15-20 minute commute took over an hour. I was pretty danged happy to get in the door, drop my stuff, and proceed to elevate my ankle on the couch. It was also a tiny bit consoling to know that, thanks to the traffic issue, I couldn't have made it to the class at the gym that I like to take, so not making it because of my ankle didn't sting like it would otherwise.

In other news, I was brought to a halt by this statement in an online article about another salmonella outbreak at Foster Farms: "the firm has reduced the prevalence of salmonella in chicken parts to less than 10 percent, well below the industry benchmark of 25 percent".

THE "INDUSTRY BENCHMARK" FOR KNOWING THERE IS SALMONELLA IN THE FOOD IS 25%?!?!?

I just...whut? My mind is blown. Totally blown.

In further news of things that have been whirling 'round my brain, I read this article about What Really Happened to Michael Rockefeller awhile back and I can't get it out of my head. I'm completely fascinated by the headhunting culture that Carl Hoffman describes and his theory for what he thinks happened totally makes sense to me. Of course, it's not proven with any certainty, but if one puts themselves in the mindset of the islanders, the motivation and logic add up - at least to me.

And finally, I've been browsing some of the video uploads by NASA's crew that is orbiting the earth. I'm totally mesmerized by many of them. What a cool time I'm living in to get to experience something like that, even vicariously by viewing it on a computer (or phone) screen.

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I believe it was about 4 years ago this month that I went to the gym on a Saturday morning prepared to undertake my routine at that time – abs class, step class, Zumba class, then weightlifting – and came home in wretched pain instead thanks to tripping and spraining my ankle during step class. The excruciating pain I felt at that time helped me sympathize with my husband when he broke his ankle over the summer, though thanks to allergies I had to endure it with no pain relievers while he had the benefit of morphine. (Though when comparing the pain of a sprain with no medicine and a break with liberal use of morphine, you probably get to about the same place). But eventually it healed, and approximately 18 months later that ankle felt strong enough that I could stop wrapping my ankle while working out.

It was maybe a week after I stopped wrapping the right ankle when I noticed that my left ankle was hurting. I figured it was probably due to the fact that it had an extra load to bear for 18 months and didn’t think much more about it – assuming it would self-correct relatively quickly since things were mostly normal with the right ankle again. It kept hurting, though, and I came to realize one thing that seemed to really set it off was Zumba classes by one particular instructor. She had a lot of bouncing in her choreography and thanks to the fact that she was teaching her own class plus subbing for another instructor, for a period of a few months I had been taking her classes 2-3 times a week. Once in a while it would hurt during class, but mostly I’d be filled with endorphins and adrenaline while class was in progress, then come down to earth with a jolt about an hour after it was done. I finally realized that because I couldn’t hold back during class, even though I adored that instructor, I was going to have to stop going to her classes.

However, by that point, the damage was done. I have had to wrap my left ankle for working out ever since. Every once in a while I will think it’s ready to go without that support and will not use the wrap. I can feel the difference immediately after class is over and end up going back to the wrap again for a few more months. Mostly, though, it’s relatively normal so long as I wear heels in moderation and use the right kind of shoes for walking and other exercise.

Last week-end I was in downtown Portland and parked approximately 10 blocks from my target area. The city has purposefully limited parking availability to encourage people to use mass transit, which is fine except for the fact that there isn’t really a mass transit option for most of the suburbs on the week-ends when a lot of people to go downtown for shopping, restaurants, some sporting events, and club hopping. But to me, walking 10 blocks in downtown Portland is not really a big deal so I didn’t think anything of it. As I told a friend who was complaining one time when we walked the 3 block distance from one club to another: I’ve walked a lot farther for a burrito. (It was a really good burrito.)

On the way to my appointment I was mostly focused on how freaking cold it was and though there were a few twinges in the left ankle, it wasn’t bad. On the way back to my car later, I came to fear I wouldn’t actually make it – my ankle got more and more painful with every step. I had to apply ice and keep it elevated for the remainder of Saturday.

The thing is: I don’t get it. There was no real event like how I sprained my right ankle that I can point to and realize, “oh, right, because of that”. It really strikes me as bizarre that bouncing around in some exercise classes 2-3 years ago would cause the kind of damage that could last this long, far longer than a really awful sprain. And it seems so random when it acts up. There was no pain at all when I worked out last week, so why would walking a relatively benign distance a day later be so troublesome?

All I know now is that it’s swollen and painful for seemingly no reason. It just…started hurting. Really hurting. On Sunday I was prepping food for the week, baking and cooking and chopping to make meals easier to prepare later on, and I had to elevate the ankle every so often just to get through the day. It made for a really long day doing something I hate, and in the end I didn’t have time to even touch other fun chores like cleaning the bathroom.

It’s really hard for me to sit in my chair at work for the whole day, but I had to yesterday because even trips for beverage refills hurt like the devil. Even with so little time on my feet yesterday, it absolutely ached through the night. It looks like it’ll be more of the same today.

It’s so stinking frustrating! And best I can tell after the many, many consultations we’ve had thanks to my husband’s situation, the things I’ve been doing like wrapping it for exercise and using ice and elevation for swelling are the best cures. Anti-inflammatory medicines like acetaminophen do help quite a lot, but I can’t take them. So I guess I just get to endure? I don’t like that option, though I don’t know what else I can do.

Any ideas?

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