Doctor

So, this thing has a name–viral sinus infection. There isn’t much to do for it other than what I’ve been doing. Just suffer and drink lots of liquids.

Now I want to talk about something hard and weird. Since I last went to the doctor, I’ve lost twenty pounds. Before that, I lost twelve. So, since the Butcher moved out, but also since I’ve got my meds straight, I’ve lost thirty two pounds.

My whole life I have tried so hard to lose weight. I have starved myself. I have exercised like a fiend. I have tried this crazy thing and that crazy thing. I have been called a liar by doctors. I have had symptoms of serious conditions ignored because the “obvious” solution was that I needed to lose weight.

I have loathed my body. I have felt utterly unlovable and unworthy of love because this is my body. I have felt crazy because all the “just”s people say–just eat less, just exercise more, it’s just physics, etc.–never worked for me. And when I said they didn’t work for me, the fault was mine. I was doing something wrong or lying.

I wouldn’t say I’ve ever had an eating disorder, but I’ve had very disordered eating over the course of my life. And it was only when I was like “okay, fuck it. I just can’t hate myself any more. I can’t punish myself all the time. I just don’t have the energy for it.” that I started eating in less fucked-up ways and finding doctors who would, even as they nagged about the weight, would also take my symptoms seriously.

Here’s the thing. I’m not doing anything. I’m not trying to lose weight. I don’t walk Sonnyboy more or farther than I walked Mrs. Wigglebottom. I eat a little differently than I did when the Butcher lived here, but I eat what I want–cookies regularly included.

Okay, here’s the thing that concerns me. Last night, before dinner, I had the thought, “Well, if I’ve done this well without trying, what would happen if I skipped dinner?”

And I hate every part of that. I haven’t “done” anything. “Well” is a shitty word there, like being thinner is intrinsically better than being fatter. And, obviously, “what would happen if I skipped dinner?” is not healthy.

Thankfully, I’m on drugs, so my brain forms destructive thoughts more slowly which gives me an opportunity to head them off at the pass.

But my body is just doing a new weird thing that, frankly, goes with all the old weird things it’s done in the past. I’m not causing this. I’m going to try very hard to not put a lot of faith in it, because it seems to me very unlikely that I’m going to continue to lose weight or not find myself back at my normal weight in the future.

And I feel weird about it because I don’t have some great success story. I haven’t done anything. My body is just doing a thing.

The thing that concerns me is how easily I am ready to accept suffering if I think it will work.

Also, just as a last stupid thing, while we’re playing True Confessions on the Internet, I’m still really fucking fat. My clothes all fit the same. I still look exactly the same. All this vanity and self-undermining bullshit literally over a number.

I hate it.

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I Have Become Boring

Worse, I don’t mind it. Last night, I sat around listening to podcasts and working on this blanket. Tonight I will listen to podcasts and finish it up.

I don’t even feel bad about it. I think it’s curious to see how boring I can be and still be content, but I don’t feel like it signals anything’s wrong with me.

This morning, the dog and I walked through the most beautiful fog. It was very thick and dark gray, but it left a large area of visibility in any direction. So, like, clear for fifty feet around us but then almost impenetrable beyond that. So, it had the effect of being the only real things in a bubble of unreal nothingness.

Perhaps there’s a metaphor in there for how things are now.

I have moved from not being able to imagine the grace it would take to say “I am with you in Rockland,” to understanding that I am in Rockland and not sure what can be done in here.

Do you have to know and accept your circumstances in order to provide comfort to others, or is just being there, with someone, enough?

Inception

This past week, I’ve been having really vivid dreams that seemed utterly real. I dreamed, for instance, that I was told by the editor of the Scene to come to a Scene editorial meeting in the new coffee shop downtown before I went into my actual work. When I got to the coffee shop and stood around waiting for my coffee, I realized that no one was showing up for this editorial meeting. Then I realized, I hadn’t talked to the editor in person the day before, that I had, in fact, dreamed our talk and the existence of this meeting.

I got my coffee, went to my car, headed toward work.

My alarm went off. I woke up. There is no coffee shop in the place I dreamed it was. I still felt a nagging fear I was late for work.

I’m hoping that this is just my brain slowly rewiring itself for narrative. I miss writing.

I’m getting some good afghans out of my hiatus, though, I guess.

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Soft

One thing I can’t get over is how soft my new clothes are. This may be why rich people are so happy. It’s not the money itself. It’s that every time your hand brushes your thigh, whew! I mean, I could legit rent myself out to people who just want to touch soft things.

So… um… babies, mostly. And you can’t let babies carry money, because they’ll put it in their mouths. So, maybe not the brilliant idea it seemed at the beginning of this post.

But my point is that I’m enjoying the fuck out of my new clothes.

Sitting Around, Thinking Thoughts

I spent yesterday sitting around waiting for the chimney guys, sitting around while they decided if the chance of rain was too great for them to do what they needed to do, and then sitting around after they left.

Later, there was a car accident out front. No one was hurt. My poor neighbors’ beautiful truck was destroyed. I called 911 and it felt like it took forever for the police to arrive, but I’m sure it was just ten minutes or so.

So, here’s the thing. It doesn’t have anything to do with those things, I just wanted there to be some words on my screen before I got started. I bought some new clothes. In a perfect world, there’d be some kind of office uniform and I’d just wear the same thing every day and not worry about it. But in this world, it is the individual’s responsibility to try to figure out what the fuck to wear every day.

I was pretty much like “I will wear this t-shirt and this skirt and if anyone at work looks askance at it, I’ll say that it’s summer time.” But then I feel like I only have two outfits that are genuinely work appropriate.

Anyway, this is a long way of saying I bought some grown-up clothes. But I bought some grown-up clothes.

I think they look nice. But since my strategy has previously been to dress like a bland tent, looking in the mirror, I just felt like I was looking at my belly, my enormous, round belly swathed in different, nice clothes.

I feel like there is no moment where my feminism and my trying to accept myself and my desire to be a happy person fails so utterly as when I’m trying on new clothes.

The thing about having been all different kinds of fat is that I know, from personal experience, that there is no size at which I feel happy and confident in my body, no way it looks where I feel aesthetically pleasing and desirable.

Still, I look in the mirror and just feel like, ugh, fuck. And then I feel bad because I don’t feel fine and happy with what I see there. And then I feel bad because I feel so fucked up that the mirror has never shown me something I felt fine and happy with. In other words, I know from experience that being thinner wouldn’t make that moment in front of the mirror any less grueling. The thing that would seem to promise an end to it is just another way to feel bad and failing.

Usually, what I end up asking myself is, “Fine, but what am I supposed to do in the meantime?” In other words, if I’m going to feel more confident or more socially acceptable when I “internalize my self-worth” or if I magically loose a bunch of weight or somehow stumble upon clothes that make me look so awesome that the bad thoughts are kept at bay, that’s great. Bring on that future day. But today I have to leave the house and I have to wear clothes and I have to go by reflective surfaces. So, I have to have something now or I have to do something now or I just have to accept that this is what it is right now.

This is life, right now.

So, anyway, I bought some great new clothes which I love, and I feel bad about it, but admitting it makes it suck less.

Chewed on by a Baby

Yesterday I went to a baby shower where there was a baby. She showed me how she can pull herself up and lower herself back down. She squished my belly and she chewed on my fingers.

I think babies like me because I’m easy to see and soft. I have dark eyebrows and blue eyes, so there’s contrast. And I have a very expressive face, so, again, there’s stuff going on to look at.

But here’s the thing. I was driving home from the shower thinking about how obvious it was that the baby thought I was awesome. This looks like a good finger to chew on. This looks like a good lap to climb in. And I realized, I don’t think I ever otherwise experience my body as good.

I’m trying really hard to just have neutral feelings about it, so that I can live in the world without constant despair. But I so rarely feel like this is great.

And you can’t argue with a baby or question its judgement, because they’re not really developed enough to have discernment or wrong opinions. If a baby experiences your body as pleasant, well, in some inarguable way, your body is pleasant. A baby isn’t out here trying to improve your self esteem.

I would like to be able to hold onto that.

Frustrations

I’m ready for this red afghan to be done. These last squares just take a while to make. They’re not hard, but they don’t go fast. I’m trying to make sure I do two a night just to keep moving forward on it. I think it’s going to be gorgeous, though.

I read this terrific book for Chapter 16. My review is due Friday and I’m just having a really hard time pulling anything coherent out of my head about it.

We’re still flea-riddled, even with everyone being treated. I’m going to have to bomb the house.

I don’t think my Roomba is broken. I think the wall outlet has a short. The house should be rewired. I don’t even want to think about how that would go with the quarter inch of sidewalk on the walls. But at least, when I plugged it into a different outlet, it came back to life.

Also, my chimney is fucked up and I have to get that taken care of.

I’m going to feel much better as things start getting done, but I feel like I’m doing an exceptionally bad job of getting them done.

Therapy

Hard day at therapy yesterday. But one thing I really like about this form of therapy is that it’s not so much focused on talking about feelings until there’s some catharsis, because, frankly, I know how to do that. Welcome to my blog, for instance.

But it’s a lot of “here’s how I feel. Here’s how I’d like to feel. How do I get there?” It gives me shit to do. Steps to take.

 

I Have Good Friends

One thing that I hate most about anxiety is that, even when good things are happening, I don’t always appreciate them. I feel like good things are happening to me right now, but they just seem so inconsequential.

I’m an anxious mess about, in no order, getting the lawn mowed, getting the kitchen ready for the guy to come in and fix the floor and the steps, coordinating getting to the therapist with getting the guy fixing the floor paid, how little progress I’ve made on the bombing story in recent weeks, whether I’m supposed to be doing something but just don’t know it with the secret project.

And there’s madness at work. Most frustratingly, me trying to pay people who won’t return my calls and emails so they can get paid.

I was supposed to have lunch with a friend today and I just had to cancel because I was feeling so overwhelmed and anxious–like, if I work through lunch, maybe I can leave early and get the house in order. The dude comes at 7 in the morning!

I’m just ranting here.

I feel helpless, like the country is going to shit and there’s nothing to be done about it. I have so much I need to do in my private life, but everything is anxiety producing. I need to get the kitchen floor fixed, but what if the economy tanks and I lose my job and then I don’t have that money because I chose to fix the floor?

So, anyway, that’s my headspace today.

On the other hand, I think I may have solved the dog’s flea problem.

Paella

The guys came over last night and I made paella for them. They were a little dubious at first. And then they went back for seconds. Huge piles of seconds.

It made me feel like I had powerful magic.

It also made me a little sad because I was planning on leftovers for dinner tonight.

New kitty has taken to pooping in the bathroom (on the floor, not any place useful) when there are fireworks. The litter boxes are clean but she doesn’t seem to care. She must register her displeasure, though there’s nothing I can do about it.

Still

I think I made the dog and myself a little sick yesterday by walking too far in the heat and humidity. Well, not just the head and the humidity. It’s that there’s no breeze. You sweat but it doesn’t do any good, because there’s nothing to evaporate the water off you.

Today we just took a shorter walk and the dog is still sleeping hard.

I’m making a Batman cowl for my step-nephew, which I might finish up today. I ordered the yarn for my next two projects–another mermaid tail, this one for my niece, and yarn for this what I’m hoping is a really cool afghan. I’m supposed to have an afghan before these, but the recipient wants a colorful scrap afghan and my stash is low.

And then I went and bought the yarn for another afghan, which I want to immediately start making. It’s a kind of complicated flower design and I’m going to do it all in this amazing red I found. I hope it will really be striking.

I got rejected this weekend, too, which kind of ruined my dad for a minute, and then it make me laugh because it was a rejection that took a long, long time. The sure sign of “This made the short list.” And I was going to let that ruin my day after my secret good news? No.

Okay, maybe a little.

The Thing

Welp, something may be happening, which I can’t talk about. At least, outreach has been made and plans have been alluded to and time-frames referenced. And I know these kinds of vague posts are annoying, but this is literally all I’m thinking about and I want to have some signpost, should I ever come back this way, that this was the moment I was like “What? Yes. God, okay, yes.”

Sadly, though, it doesn’t involve Cocktapusses or Jason Statham, so those dreams are still unrealized.

I mean, I really only have one question for Jason Statham: What is the cutest thing you could make scary merely by glaring while holding it? Like, Jason Statham holds a brand new born thirty seconds ago baby and gives you a look that says, “This baby and me are going to fuck you up.” Do you believe it? Or he’s holding your grandma’s hand. Or 500 Beanie Babies. How far do his menacing powers extend?

But even this question is not enough to distract me from my happiness.

Here’s an unrelated thing, this week Radley Balko quoted me in the Washington Post. I was thinking about that this morning as I was walking the dog, how weird it is to find myself here at this late date. I mean, I’m 43. And I’m the same old person I’ve always been, I think. And yet, now, suddenly, sometimes, people say “Well, Betsy Phillips said…” or “Betsy Phillips found…” and that matters, carries weight.

And I don’t really know what to make of that. I mean, I like it and I’m proud of it, don’t get me wrong. But I haven’t done anything except be curious in public for a long time. And, like, I know that’s not nothing, but…

I guess here’s the thing. For a long time, I was not a person for whom this stuff happened. I tried and I tried, but stuff didn’t congeal or it congealed in small ways and then petered out and that was awesome, but I thought that was as good as it got for me. I wasn’t raised to believe that things like this happened to people like us. There was cool shit out there, being done by cool people, but we didn’t get those opportunities. We just did our own thing and tried to live small, interesting lives that somewhat satisfied us.

But something happened. Some barrier was crossed. And I know it because here I am on the other side of it, but I don’t know when or how it happened.

Weight, Weight, Don’t Tell Me

There’s a window of about 20 lbs where I’ve lived every since my PCOS diagnosis, which I am relieved about because before the diagnosis, I was just gaining and gaining and gaining and having the joy of my doctor acting like I was lying when I told him what I eat.

Anyway, I’m at the lower end of my 20 lb window these days and my trips to the doctors have taken on a weird tone. I get all this praise for “working so hard.” And then when I’m like “Um, no” they seem disappointed. Like, if I’m not going to tell them a story of suffering, they’re not interested in hearing it.

I don’t think they know that. Of course. But it is weird to me how often doctors seem okay with fat if you’re suffering from trying not to be fat.  How much praise they’re ready to heap on you if you have some tale of misery to recount.

Which is not to say that I don’t sometimes make myself miserable over it. I do worry that no one could ever really love this body, myself included. I worry that people are staring or grossed out or whatever. I worry about being confronted by assholes in public.

But when I can quiet those voices, I don’t suffer from being fat. I don’t like it, but I don’t dislike it. I mean, yeah, I wish I were pretty and everyone loved me. But I also like how soft I am and I think my toes are adorable and I like having gigantic boobs.

And I like not suffering. I don’t think there’s any virtue in suffering. And I think it’s a trap to believe that your good life starts when you’re thinner or prettier or I don’t know. Some other thing. This is your life, now, what you make of it. And I don’t believe that my life would be improved by me “working so hard” and suffering.

I mean, I assume people who hardcore diet and exercise do it because ultimately they like it. I don’t think Jason Statham looks that way because there’s virtue in suffering. I think he looks that way because he really likes to look that way and he really enjoys the things he does to look that way. I mean, if his trainer said, “Jason, you can do one hundred pull-ups and have shoulders like a god OR I can kick you in the nuts one hundred times and you can have shoulders like a god” he’s obviously doing the pull-ups, right? Even if the pull-ups kind of suck, there’s the suck of “Yeah, this bit’s not going to be fun” and then there’s the suck of “I am in pain and can’t move and want to die.”

So, it’s fun and he likes challenging himself and he likes how he looks in the end.

I don’t know. I lost the thread once I brought up Jason Statham and started thinking about his shoulders. If he were a cocktapus, you know somehow he’d be glaring at you with his face and each of his eight dicks.

In a fight between The Rock and a cocktapus, who would win? Tell me in the comments below.

Okay, I think I remember what my point was. I would not be a better person if I accepted more suffering into my life. But I am disturbed by how much of an assumption medical professionals have that I would be better off if I were suffering more.

How Far?

Thanks to therapy, the dog and I have been walking to school every morning, even though the hill is steep and scary. When we get back, the dog is exhausted. I feel really proud of that–that I’m able to wear out the dog.

I don’t know if we’ll keep up going that far when the weather turns hot again, but man, when it’s lovely like today? I feel so lucky.

I pissed a dude off yesterday. He called me at work to complain. I don’t know if he was satisfied by the exchange. It didn’t seem like it. You ever talk to someone and where they’re coming from just makes so little sense that you can’t exactly even tell what’s happening in the conversation? I felt like that was happening to both of us.

I do sometimes feel like I have gotten way off the beaten path and not noticed. I will say that.

 

Here Comes the Rain Again

It feels like it’s been a while since we’ve had any kind of tropical storm blow through, but today we’re starting to see Cindy, who I guess will be here through Saturday?

I will never not be awed by the size of these storms, the fact that something that is still churning in the Gulf reaches me, way up here.

Mouse Wars

I was so busy this weekend that I don’t feel like I really had much of a weekend. I went to war with the mice in the kitchen, which involved emptying three cabinets, washing most of my dishes, washing said cabinets, and then stuffing the holes I think the mice are coming through with steel wool. I also had to run to Target and the grocery store and do a bunch of research at Special Collections and then, as you know, I’m also trying to get a very rough draft of this story together so that I can see where holes are and where I need more research. Plus some out of town friends were in town and I got to see them.

Also, the stupid orange cat bit me on Friday and I yelled so loud that he exploded off my bed and hid from me for two days. Then, on Sunday, when he finally did come out–though let me also be clear that his “hiding” still involved sleeping with me. He just left my bed when he realized I was awake.–and he seemed kind of stiff and sore and wobbly and I was like, Christ, if that dumbass cat hurt himself leaping off the bed, I’m going to feel so damn terrible.

But he wouldn’t let me touch him to feel if he was in any pain.

So, I sent a text to the Butcher asking him to come by when he got off work. That damn cat was fine. “Oh, hi, The Butcher. You want to give me some head rubs? You want to see me scampering across the house? You want I should leap up on your lap?”

And then, after the Butcher left, the cat came and sat on my lap, like now that I saw how things were, we could be friends again.

I’m like, dude, I’m the one who texted the Butcher! You didn’t bring your big mean man over here to put me in my place and teach me a thing or two about loud yelling. I brought my soft-hearted brother here for a second opinion about your squirrelly behavior.

But you can’t convince him of that.

Hard Work

I just want to reiterate how working on this baby blanket compared to the spiral afghan is…god damn. Like, I’m almost done making squares. On a blanket I started on Thursday. Granted, what I have in mind for the border will take a while, but the spiral afghan was SO HARD!

I’m glad I did it, but I don’t want to forget that it was tough and I probably don’t want to make a thousand of them.

Also, on another subject, can I just say that going grocery shopping on the first day of your period is stupid unless you want to come home with seventeen pounds of pasta and two expensive chocolate and caramel candy bars and some cookies you both want to eat and kind of want to throw up to look at?

I mean, I also got some protein and some vegetables, but I got home and emptied my grocery bags and laughed. And then damn straight ate one of those candy bars.

I’m slowly working on my draft. I’m trying not to freak out by how large it is. I’m already at 1,000 words and nothing’s gotten blown up. But I feel like I just need to vomit out everything I know and then I can work on shaping and trimming it. In other words, I know this draft is supposed to suck, but I’m still worried about it sucking.

I also had this dream that the Butcher told me a secret about one of his friends and I then went on a trip with her and blabbed her secret–which she did not know I knew–to everyone and she found out and was pissed. And all day I was like “Oh man, I really fucked up with so-and-so.” And I felt so bad and then remembered, no, it was just a dream. Everything is fine.

Ah, brain, you sure are fun.

Obsessive Thoughts

–I have been trying to figure out what the significance of the April 19th date for the Looby bombing is. The Hattie Cotton bombing took place the evening of the first day of school. The JCC bombing was coordinated with a bunch of other bombings of Jewish buildings across the south. But why blow up Looby’s house then? The sit-ins had been going on since February. The school desegregation lawsuits were on-going.

If something had provoked the bombing, it’s hard for me to figure out what.

So, does the date mean something? If a black man’s house were bombed on April 19th, 2017, we sure as fuck would think it did, but I don’t know about then.

–I have a weird rash on my arm, so I spent a great portion of my weekend washing everything in the house I could find to wash–bedding, couch slip covers, clothes, towels. I’m also trying very hard not to scratch it. When it itches I rub it, but I try not to use nails. It kind of works. It also kind of is not fooling me.

–One of the most personally embarrassing things about going to therapy is having to admit to myself how I have these weird, obsessive thoughts, which are sometimes paranoid. A few weeks ago, I woke up and a cat was in my bed and I became overwhelmingly convinced that it was not one of my cats. I get overwhelmed sometimes by the thought that I am fat and ugly and no one will ever love me and the people who like me only like me out of pity. And this shit is hard to talk about  because it’s not low self-esteem. Because low self-esteem would mean I felt bad about myself all the time.

But I’m really proud of the stuff I’ve accomplished and, sure, while not in love with the way I look, I like how I look in pictures and I’m kind of in awe of how, when I smile, I can see that it radiates. Like, okay, it must feel nice to be smiled at by me.

And I have a lot of friends who love me and they have big and interesting lives and they have other stuff to do beside be someone’s friend out of pity.

I say all this to try to make clear that these are obsessive thoughts. They don’t go away because they’re disprovable. They’re not satiated by being true–in the case of me being fat. They come out of nowhere, hit hard, and leave me reeling. There are some things that make them more common–me being tired or stressed or upset about something else but not dealing with it. But it is like being swept up in a storm my brain is having.

So, on the one hand, the medicine helps a lot because it seems to slow down the storm and, if I can recognize what’s happening before it blows up into the emotional hurricane, I can usually dissipate it. Oh, that’s just the anxiety.

But another thing we’ve been working on is that I like to have order and schedules. If I could keep my whole life by calendar, I would. And that’s great when it helps. Setting a recurring task of cleaning the litter boxes on Monday evenings means I get into the habit and the poop goes in the garbage can the day before garbage day. The schedule works for me and makes my life easier. Why wouldn’t I then schedule everything?!

Because I also sometimes, okay, often, then get caught up in the ritual of the schedule. In other words, I do scheduled things because those are the “rules” and I don’t want to break the rules or my life will be infinitely harder, whether or not I need to do the things.

And here I think you can see how close kin anxiety is with OCD. “I have to check the door five times to feel confident that it’s locked” is not the same thing as “I have to go to the grocery store on Sunday morning because… um… that’s when I’m scheduled to go to the grocery store.” But you can see they’re cousins.

So, I’ve been working really hard on separating what I feel compelled to do from what I need to do from what I want to do. So, Sunday, I was reading a book. I didn’t want to go to the grocery store. Did I need to go to the grocery store? Actually, no. I have enough stuff in the house that I can skip a week. But it still felt really weird and like I was going to regret not going to the grocery store.

The thing is that I think I like schedules because it lets me kind of put my life on autopilot. I can zone out through stuff I find boring or unpleasant, trusting on my schedule, my to-do list to keep me productive even while my brain is checked out.

But I think that coping mechanism has soured for me and I have to find ways to be present more in my life.

And a thing I find baffling and funny is that, without the checklist, I often don’t know what I want to do. I’m 43 years old but when faced with a truly empty day, I often don’t know how I’d like to fill it. And I pride myself on being so insightful and shit. And I don’t even know what kinds of small ordinary things bring me pleasure.

But I am having fun figuring it out.

Busy

I’m having the kind of week where I’m getting a ton of stuff done, but it’s none of the stuff I was hoping to get done.

I feel like this afghan will never be finished because I just don’t have time to work on it. Which, of course, is not a problem that will necessarily last.

One of the things I’m trying to put into practice from therapy is being present in the moment and not just going on autopilot. But man, weeks like this, I kind of want to put my head down, power through, and not think about things too much.

Another Year Older

I had a really nice weekend of birthday activities. I even failed to get to the grocery store because I was busy making spontaneous decisions to do other things. I don’t know if I could live that way all the time, but it felt nice for a while.

One question I keep asking myself that has grown out of therapy is “If I could be doing anything right now, what would I want to be doing?” And the answer a lot of the time is “I don’t know.”

That, I guess, sounds a little depressing, but from the inside, it feels kind of freeing to admit.

Anyway, here’s to another trip around the sun. I hope it’s a good one.

Po-tay-toe Sa-lad!

My birthday’s not until Monday, but the Butcher’s family had me over for birthday lunch today. We had bratwurst, corn on the cob, delicious potato salad, and cake. And then Mrs. Butcher let me take home some potato salad. I’m going to eat it for dinner and I’m not even going to pretend like it’s healthy.

Stuff

One thing I’ve noticed since the Butcher has moved out is that I feel like I have so much more time, which at first struck me as weird because it’s not like we socialized together or did housework together or whatever.

I think it’s really because I almost never turn on the TV. It’s not because I’ve become some virtuous hippie. It’s just that I listen to podcasts, which I can do while doing chores or crocheting, and so it feels like time has opened up. I mean, I had three days in a row off, most of which I spent at libraries and socializing and yet, still, the dishes are done, laundry is done, dog is walked, FOIA requests have been made, etc.

And I think I may have found the trick to making the off-kilter squares go faster–more stitch markers. It’s a little weird because in crocheting, before this project, I think I’d only ever used one stitch marker in a project. For a long time, I didn’t even have stitch markers because I had an old safety pin and then I lost it so I picked up a small thing of stitch markers and only ever used one.

But this project, once I figured out that three stitch markers would make it super easy, was eye-opening. So, when I got to these off-kilter squares and struggled so much through that first one, on the second one, about halfway through, I thought–what if I just marked every repeat? That way, when I get to the end of a row and the pattern has been “(2dc in stitch; dc in next 14 stitches) repeat 5 times; 10 dc” I can just look back and count my stitch markers and see, yep, did my five repeats. It’s super handy. I’m just going to stitch-mark the fuck out of it for the rest of the squares.

I may stitch-mark the fuck out of everything. Having a meeting to discuss a thing we’ve discussed before? Now we’ll know how many times we’ve had that meeting. Find a man with multiple penises, but you don’t want to be rude and ask him if he’s a cockapus? Just discretely count the stitch markers. I mean, I feel bad for the person with multiple penises who also goes to a lot of redundant meetings, because they’re just going to be awash in stitch markers, but whatever. It’s for the good of all humanity!

Setbacks

I woke up in the middle of the night last night, panicked because I realized I had forgotten to tuck in the ends on the middle of my last spiral, which, in real life, is not that big a deal. I also couldn’t remember if I’d approved my assistant’s timesheet–again, not a big deal in real life, because the system sends a reminder Monday mornings if you forgot to do it on Friday.

As I was laying there, the orange cat came over and demanded head scratches. I became convinced, utterly convinced, that this was not my cat, that it was some strange cat that had been coming into the house at night and sleeping with me and, if I turned on the lights, there would be this stranger.

I was completely panicked about it. And then I thought, this is insane. How would a strange cat be this comfortable? Why would the dog be so nonchalant about it? And then I was like, oh, yes! This is insane! You are having anxiety. And that dissipated it.

But a thing that’s been very hard and embarrassing for me to admit through this whole process is that I do have a lot of obsessive weird thoughts, which bother my life, and which I have just assumed were normal things everyone goes through, so, if I can function, why bother to worry about them? But waking up from a dead sleep and becoming convinced a strange cat is demanding head scratches from you is not really functioning.

Still, I find it deeply embarrassing, though I don’t know exactly why, to realize how much of my adult life was me being all “I’m utterly normal except for these few things, but I understand them and avoid them and all is well,” when really I have been fucked up in this minor but affecting way that I was just ignoring.

Anyway, I know part of it is that I fucked up my medication this weekend. And part of it is just the disappointment in getting rejected. But this weekend felt like backsliding. And that sucks.

Is Happiness Interesting to Me?

I like to think of myself as someone who has no great enjoyment of drama. But one thing I’ve been thinking a lot about as I’m doing my feelings journal is that I don’t analyze and dwell on and poke and prod at happiness the way I do other emotions.

I think part of that is that I worry that happiness evaporates under too much scrutiny–if you think about it too hard, you come up with reasons why you shouldn’t be happy.

But my goal for this whole hard process is not just to stop metaphorically jumping at shadows in the dark, but to learn to live not scrutinizing the dark for shadows. Ha ha ha. But I don’t know if “scrutinize the light” is the way to course-correct.

The Butcher and the Red-Headed Kid came over for dinner last night. We were watching TV and it said something like “Interesting people make jokes. That’s what makes them interesting.”

And the Red-Headed Kid said, “Is that true? What about people who make jokes to mask anxiety? I don’t want to be interesting.”