Memories of us…

Honey has been out of town on a business trip. And last week, he made a long awaited trip to visit his mom and dad. We are happy to report his mother is finally out of the hospital after a monthlong stay.

We get a little lonely up in here, in our version of the Eyrie (we’re on the top floor), though thankfully I am no Lyssa Arryn, and can assure you I don’t breastfeed the cat.

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One thing I am thankful for this summer has been the time spent with this guy. He is 14 now. I can’t believe it! I had him two years before I met and fell in love with honey. I don’t know how much longer we have together, and he’s slowing down a little bit. Although he still wants to eat everything in sight. But my time with him this summer has been precious, and I’ll take all the scrimping and saving and not having enough for that.

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This is him when he wants what I am eating. A buttered bagel. A bowl of cereal with almond milk. A turkey sandwich. Doesn’t matter. He wants it.

I am also grateful to be vending at Stitch Rock again. Once I saw the artwork by Danny Brito, I knew I had to.

994456_818260804873680_945334871735075166_nAlthough my hair isn’t blue and pink (yet), nor do I have quite that many tattoos (okay, I only have two!), I love that she is knitting. And since I’m the only knitter there, I think it fits. There are other vendors who crochet, but not many knitters through the years. Which is one of the main reasons I did it to start with. I am experimenting with some men’s things this go-round, including skinny ties and hats.

This is the soundtrack to our summer, though we are listening to Bach now.

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Oh, we listen to lots of stuff. I’ve had Bryan Ferry’s “The Bride Stripped Bare” on repeat this week. But I listen to the soundtrack to Elvira Madigan so much because it CALMS ME THE FUCK DOWN. And I need it. Love the movie too, even though it is one of my depressing Danish (Danish! Why must they all be Danish?!) flicks that honey won’t watch with me.

POP QUIZ: After honey left, do you think I queued up a French flick on Hulu? If you answered yes, you can collect $200 and pass GO.

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Right now, in addition to Stitch Rock articles, I am working on this, a Norah Gaughan pattern called Blish. I am doing it in Lion Brand Fisherman’s Wool, which, with coupons, I got for under $20. It is for a friend from college who lives in the paradise known as Boone, N.C. It’s cold right now, for crying out loud! I am so jealous. I ran errands today in 100 degree heat indexed Florida sun. Thank God I wear sunscreen.

If you’re wondering  if I got my pattern in, the answer is YES. I am even receiving e-mails from the tech editor now. I pray none of them are accompanied with hysterical laughter. I feel she is much smarter than I could ever hope to be, that’s the truth. Math. Iz. Hard.

I am selling some things on Ravelry and Half.com. Back to that again! But the money is running out, and making even $45 this past few weeks is food money I desperately need. I kind of hope my Wong Kar Wai film doesn’t sell. It’s my highest priced item, I guess because it’s rare. If it does, expect to see #wongkarwaitears on my Twitter feed.

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Because it’s my birthday on Sunday, I bought myself a present for under $5 today. Rimmel Kate Moss collection No.8 lipstick. Surprisingly, it doesn’t smell like cocaine and heroin-addicted rock stars. It is the perfect matte rosewood shade, pretty much matching my natural lip color. When you have bigger lips, using a color that matches your lip tone helps play them down, or if you want to play up your eyes instead, it’s a good balancing measure. Although we all know I am no Angelina Jolie, she does this I have read….

Yes, it is my birthday on Sunday, and to call it low key is an understatement. I won’t be seeing my mother. Don’t ask? My mother is going through something right now that I find very disturbing and difficult to talk about. So, I won’t. The only thing I will say is this: I had hoped my father’s passing could bring my mother, sister and I closer together. Sadly, it has done just the opposite. I’ll let you analyze that how you see fit.

Add to the fact that honey is working on Sunday, and that my former best friend and I have sort of….drifted apart, and it will be a big deal if I go to Sephora for my annual free birthday present.

Oh, one more thing: I am actually going to Cross Fit now. For the month of August, my friend and knitting partner (who will sadly be sitting out Stitch Rock this year) has given me a free Groupon to her “Box.” I have been twice. I think every muscle in my body hurts. But I plan to continue attending for the rest of August, and when I get a job again, I think I’ll keep it up.

Don’t look so shocked. But believe me, if I posted the photos of me deadlifting and looking like the Stay Puft Marshmellow Woman, you would. Look shocked.

Nowhere to go but up, right?

 

 

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Have a little sympathy for Paul Sorvino…

Today I went to the grocery store to get a few things to last me the next few days while honey is out of town. As I was standing and waiting in the checkout line, as one does, I looked at the National Enquirer’s “Worst Beach Bodies!” issue. And there in the top right corner was…Paul Sorvino. Yep, that’s right. Big, round Paul Sorvino.

Paul has always been big and round! He has the body of an Italian opera singer! Didn’t he even try his hand at the opera singing? I seem to remember that he did.

My point, and I do have one, is I would EXPECT Paul Sorvino to be a round mound of man at the beach. This is not shocking, National Enquirer! You are slipping if you think it is newsworthy.

“Older Italian Man at Beach is Hairy and Overweight”

There’s your headline, geniuses.

Hey, good news. Tom Petty, avec Heartbreakers, has a new album coming out tomorrow and I pre-ordered it from Amazon with my AmEx points credit, because I HAVE NO MONEY.

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I love TP like I love sleeping, kitty cats and color pink. Oops, those things don’t go together. Oh well. I love TP so much I have seen him in concert more than 10 times. That’s a lot! I love TP so much I have a concert T-shirt from the “Damn the Torpedoes” tour. When I wear it in public, I get a lot of jealous looks. Yes, beyotch, I was there when I was a mere tadpole. And I kept my shirt in good condition! (Hint: don’t over wash blacks).

I love TP so much I toured the studio (Ocean Way) where he recorded a bunch of stuff, and saw the room he worked in. There were photos of it in the She’s the One soundtrack album art. Hey, that movie blew, but the soundtrack didn’t. TP’s cover of Lucinda Williams’ “Change the Locks” is the stuff dreams are made of.

I love TP so much I once made a friend on a TP forum back in the Bravenet days (did I just date myself?). She was good friends with…Stan Lynch! And she visited me and called him on my phone, because she was going to visit him on the way back from my place. I always thought that was kind of cool. So was my friend, if memory serves.

I love TP so much I once saw him in SoFla, and then a week later I flew to Reno, Nevada to see him AGAIN. Same tour! But guess what — entirely different sets! That’s a true performer. Plus, I hung out with another friend from the Bravenet forum, who took me on a tour of the Ponderosa (yes, THAT Ponderosa, I even had a Hoss burger!) and now he’s a reporter who was on CBS’ 48 Hours, which was kind of trippy to see when I came across him channel surfing one night. I always remember him buying me noodles in the casino. He also had to drive me to a Walgreens to buy tampons, because the hotel gift shop didn’t have them. Have I said too much?

I love TP so much I have a tattoo to prove it, but you knew that. The only good thing about the past few days of my life is that Sirius FM has launched a TP channel that runs until August 4. Nothing but TP, all the time! I could die and go to heaven. And I might, while I’m driving in Florida. Today a semi couldn’t make the turn at a stoplight (where I was clearly behind the line) and almost knocked my Kia off the planet. And he honked at me, because CLEARLY, I was the one in the wrong. ASS. Then, when I exited I-95, and waited at the stoplight by the overpass, someone decided they needed to get back ON I-95 and decided to, oh, just carve himself over in my lane and almost knock me out.

But hey! It’s okay, because MY FAVORITE TP SONG was on the radio! Not “American Girl,” though that’s my tattoo. No, it was obscure-ish album cut “Shadow of a Doubt (A Complex Kid).” I love a song where part of the title is in parentheses! Word nerd alert!

I love TP so much I say that God told Florida it could do ONE THING right, and so it gave us TP. That’s it! Florida has never done anything else worthy. I’m a fucking native. Trust me on this.

The album (well, CD) will arrive from my UPS man tomorrow. I did not buy it as an iTunes MP3, because I have all my TP on vinyl or CD. I don’t trust the cloud when it comes to TP! Nope. I have lost some of my music in the cloud. Let that be a lesson to you.

And the last TP album I got was Mojo, which I got for free when I worked at Barnes and Noble in 2011. When a CD was done in the rotation (and believe me, the rotation often took MONTHS, as the Adele CD proved), we could ask/sign up to get it. And since no one ever wanted the things I did, I got Mojo. And Willie Nelson. And Robert Plant. And Air. You get the picture. Nothing anyone under the age of thirty would consider. They were fighting over that Adele CD, though!

So, TP comes tomorrow, and I am happy.

I put my sample in the mail to Knitscene today. I am not putting up photos because I don’t know that it is allowed, and even though approximately 5.5  people visit this blog a week, I figured I should be a good girl.

I went through hell at the finish line. Is it my fault for procrastinating in June? Yes. But I had a tear-soaked meltdown on Friday, and had to reknit an entire bottom cable band. Which I did on Friday night and Saturday. Then, I melted down AGAIN last night in my grafting from hell session. I finally got it and did it, but I’ve seen better. Then, I found this incredible site today, and he has a left-handed grafting video! Oh had I but seen in earlier. But better late than never, right?!

The finished product LOOKS like my original sketch. But there’s a little lumpy part at the graft (under an underarm seam). Is it very noticeable? No. But to me, it is. I was going to attach a note apologizing for said imperfection, but honey reminded me that I always tell him you shouldn’t call attention to your flaws.

So I guess I am flaunting the imperfection?

I am still in fear this will get rejected. But we’ll see. I did everything I could. I still have to write up the damned thing tomorrow, and if you saw my scribbled notes, you would laugh and point at me. This is why I haven’t posted any humble brags at Facebook yet. And probably won’t, ever.

So, wish me luck. Now that this is done, I have to get a job, and fast. I plan to find out my status in regards to returning to my temp one after my birthday, which is early August. If the answer is no, I at least want to lock down a recommendation.

I have told you how tough this summer has been for me (broken toe, hospitalized mother-in-law, no money, etc.). And it has been. It’s not getting any better. I have enough money to last me into September. That’s it. I have learned to be frugal and accept that buying stuff isn’t the path to happiness. I always sort of knew that, and I’m no hoarder or shopaholic, but there were times when I could have pulled the throttle back. I get that now.

And despite the fact that I haven’t lost a pound this summer, I have come to a truce with my appearance. I am good enough. I don’t need to compare myself to others all the time  — being home alone will help with that! But seriously. I spent my entire pre-teen and teen years feeling ugly and frankly, being TOLD I was ugly. Kids are awful, and in a way I’m glad I don’t have any, because if I did have a daughter and anyone insulted her I would kick the shit out of that person like a spider monkey on Mountain Dew, and you know it.

Maybe my workout level wasn’t what I wanted — hello, broken toe?! — but I have started using the My Fitness Pal app, and it’s helping me see where I can adjust portions. Because I am never going Paleo. I love bread like I love TP. Get it?!

So forgive all the selfies I’ve been posting. But I’ve been having fun taking photos with no makeup but a slash of lipstick and realizing at 47 (well, not QUITE yet) I look pretty good. That’s got to count for something this summer, right?

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Reading, writing and procrastinating

It’s 9:03 a.m. and I have A LOT to do today. The procrastination train keeps on rolling into the station and I have not finished my pattern or sample. I will finish the back today, and block the front and back. Then I have to figure out how I’m going to do the band. I have a few ideas. Time to figure them out!

In the meantime, I’ve been reading a lot. Almost too much? But when you consider I have approximately 200 paid for books on my e-Readers, and almost 50 in my real book tbr stack, I’m in too deep. I also keep checking out books from the library because, reasons.

I signed up to do a 52 books this year challenge, and I am actually….wait for it….ahead of schedule! I have read 32 books this year. So, there is that. It’s not generating money for me, or a 401K or insurance plan, but I am proud of it. I always say I would rather read a book than work out, and although that is not a good thing, it’s true.

I plan to return to the gym this afternoon, but only on the bike. My broken toe is still…broken, but for the first time in three weeks it is feeling a little better.

Instead of working on my pattern, I took a few days off to make a silly hat.

20140717_082049-2I mean, come on, right? A simple striped slouch. The yarn is Takhi Tweed, and I had one ball each in the opposing colors you see. I bought them online for a design submission I never did. When I found the necklace and earring set at a local thrift store, I had to have them. They are made from abalone shells. I plan to cut the beads off the pendant and sew it to the hat. The earrings are my free gift to whoever purchases this bit of pirate/deadhead goodness. That’s assuming I even get in a craft fair this fall.

I want to tell you I have been happy this summer, but it has been difficult. I have delayed on an important project which, if I had just buckled down, could have been done in June. I could have been temping this whole month. So, I am a little mad at myself. Nothing new there.

There are things going on in our lives that I don’t talk about on social media. Family stuff that gets me worried, gets me down. I worry that I will not get this job back, and will have wasted a summer on foolishness. As the days tick by, the worry grows until it is an insurmountable thing that I build up even bigger in my mind, until I am convinced that we won’t have a place to live come December.

Although these are irrational thoughts (I hope?) I can’t help them. Couple that with the fact that I have been seriously ruminating on finding my natural parents before it’s too late. I have all the info I need to fill out for the Florida Children’s Home Society to do a search. But the money is the problem. Yes, they charge. A lot. No, it is not fair or right to be part of a closed adoption in the 1960s with no recourse but to hand over cash to the state to get any info. But there it is.

And it’s tough when your money trickles down to almost nothing. The fear is terrible. I can’t afford to go to the doctor, to get my eye drops I need, and I’m afraid I won’t be able to afford my blood pressure medication. As soon as I finish and mail this project, I am going to Martin County where’s there’s a new store, Style Encore. It’s like Plato’s Closet, but for adults (not teens). I can sell a bunch of my clothes that I can’t wear and never could. We are talking price tags still on them! That should get me a week’s worth of food.

I’m selling a ton of knitting books on Ravelry. DVDs like Chungking Express (to think I am selling a Wong Kar Wai…) on Half.Com. Some clothes on EBay. I hope some of it pans out.

I am not writing about these things to sound depressing or to further sadden myself. I’m trying to relate that I’ve at least done it, managed on less this summer. I haven’t bought much of anything for myself. I stocked up on my skincare and haircare items – which are inexpensive drugstore brands anyway – before the summer started. That was smart. God bless CeraVe and Walgreens bogo special.

I have also come to the realization that I’m over Facebook, completely. I have curtailed my posting and will cut down even more in the future. Sadly, I still need it for craft fair publicity, and I do love keeping in touch with my college sisters. But I am frustrated by all the ads, by everyone posting the same memes over and over again, and by the thing a co-worker and I used to call “Assaults of positivity.” I don’t want or need your inspirational message on a picture of fucking flowers or some lady sitting at the beach. Ugh!

And I’m sick of the fitness brags, for that’s what they are. I’m so happy your workout works for you. But unless you are telling me about a fun song on your gym playlist, I don’t care. It makes me want to exercise less!

Okay, deep breath. That is enough venting. I have to shower and get to work. But I will leave with this: These are the two best movies I’ve watched this summer. The first is on Netflix streaming, the second on Amazon Prime. I highly recommend both.

 

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How to save money!! (well, sort of….)

I’m not going to lie to you. Much like Bananarama sang once upon a time, it’s been a cruel summer. I broke my toe. My “computer reading” glasses broke, and can’t be fixed. Our ceiling started leaking — I mean, really leaking. And it took them a week to fix it. My mother’s beloved dog is dying. My mother-in-law has been in the hospital for weeks with severe complications from diabetes and a probable mini stroke. And much like Simply Red sang, money’s too tight to mention.

So if you will forgive me that opening paragraph of doom and gloom, I want it to be known that I’m still here. Every day is a challenge. I feel a little like I’ve been under house arrest this summer. I have given my car to my husband four out of five workdays a week. The rest I am here. I have, with the exception of the two days a week I go out in cute shorts and T-shirts and sandals (three sets), worn the same three ratty ripped T-shirts and shorts (and don’t forget the forgiving yoga pants!) around the apartment all summer.

And though I have less than three weeks — I mean, a LOT less, to get my pattern and sample in the mail to Knitscene, I’m sitting here attempting to be the avatar of penny pinching. Now, THAT’S a laugh! But this is mainly for the one person who reads this. Gina, this one is for you.

I regret all the years I spent money on things I didn’t need, and never used. I am mainly talking books, DVDs, records (or CDs or MP3s, call them what you will) and clothes. It’s sad that it’s taken me being in my mid-late 40s to see the errors of my ways, but better late than never, right?

My number one tip: LIBRARY.

The library has been my one comfort this summer. I joined a reading program that gives me a free umbrella (I don’t have one. Seriously.) and free tickets to one of our minor league baseball games in August. All I have to do? Read five books. DONE.

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The first one is a manwha (Korean manga) trilogy, so I did actually make it to five. Now, here’s the thing: If you saw the stack of books I own and have to read, and then add to it the ones I have on my Kindle AND Nook (I know. I know I had a problem.) you would realize I will never finish them all. It’s really bad.

But I’ve learned from my mistakes. Every .99 cent book I purchased just because it was……99 cents. It adds up. BUT. What I do now is go to the library, read what I have, and get free books on Friday for Nook (if they are any good) or with the Kindle First program (one book a month, at the beginning of the month — this month I got a new book by one of my favorite authors, Megan Chance. Woohoo!). I have also discovered Open Library, which once you go down THAT rabbit hole, you will never return. All the 1970s gothic romances I read to distraction? Most of them are there. Yes, they are scanned in or uploaded and translated with tons of mistakes, so it’s kind of like reading Esperanto, but I. Don’t. Care. If you have an e-reader, check it out, as Dr. Steve Brule would say!

Also good at the library? Music and videos. Here is what I picked up two days ago, along with FREE samples from Sephora.

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So yeah, I’m kind of bummed that Bong Joon Ho’s Snowpiercer (a.k.a. the only movie I want to see this summer) isn’t playing, but I can watch Mother thanks to the library. Thor the Dark World was decidedly NOT good, but at least it was free? Right? Sorry, not enough Loki or sense. And I really did like the first one. As for Master and Commander….it’s a movie I’ve been wanting to see for ages, and it’s not on any streaming service. It was on BBC America the other day, but I like my movies without commercials every five minutes. I have seen so many bits of this movie, but never the whole thing. I love Peter Weir, I used to adore Paul Bettany before he started making godawful science fiction movies, and I can deal with the killer whale farting in a wind tunnel – which is how I kindly refer to Russell Crowe.

I also got Vampire Weekend’s latest from last year, some Bach and Michael Kiwanuka. You can actually upload these to your iTunes, and if that’s illegal, frankly I don’t care. When I count up all the money I’ve given to recording artists over the years, it adds up. So there. I would also stress if you have an iTunes account, get their “Free Song of the Week.” Are they all winners? NO. But I’ve gotten enough good stuff to make a really fun playlist for work. I mean, for work when I have it. I really want to work again, can you tell? You can also get the free songs (and apps) at Starbucks. And you don’t even have to buy anything!

My point is, if you want to try new music, you’d be amazed at what the library has. So far this summer I’ve checked out St. Vincent’s latest, Tegan and Sara, Lucius, The Head and the Heart, plus lots of classical. It’s a great way to take a chance on something new without forking over the money, esp. if you don’t have something like Spotify. Which I also recommend.

I think I will leave it with my LIBRARY tip today, because I covered a lot of ground. But remember: Knitting books (I never should have bought), magazines (I never should have bought, but I’ve been good with this), audiobooks (if you are so inclined) — they are all there. Never buy these things again. If you want to buy a book, I’m not saying not to. I want The French Cat for my birthday, for goodness sakes!
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I just mean, save your shekels to get something you really want.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Time to stop procrastinating and watch Master and Commander while knitting furiously. I’ve given links to all the things I talked about above (just hover over the colored text), so I hope I’ve given you some usable tips from a voracious culture junkie.

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July Flame

July starts tomorrow, and clearly I’m down to posting once a month. That’s okay. Most of the thoughts that run through my head all day aren’t fit to print.

I am ashamed to say I wasted the entire month of June. I DID start my pattern, but didn’t get far. I have less than a month to finish it and ship it off now.

Can I do it? I don’t know. I know I have to, but beyond that…..Understand, my middle name is Procrastinator. And no, my first name ain’t Baby.

I do this all the time, and I know it about myself. I was soooo bad in college; understand, I was that person staying up all night on Jolt Cola and No Doz. I should have just mainlined crank. But it seemed to work, so I’ve stuck with it.

But today, I will work. And tomorrow, too. And I will cross it off my to-do list. I think my biggest problem was deciding on the construction of the garment. I believe in seams – I hate in-the-round knitting, because seams really stabilize your work and give it a definite shape. But so many people are on the in-the-round bandwagon.

However, I got an e-mail (just a newsletter I subscribe to) from one of my favorite designers last week. And she confirmed my belief that seams are the way to go. Why do I question myself all the time? Why do I care so much what other people think even though I say I don’t?

That’s a discussion for another time.

Last week was actually Busy! and Eventful! I went to one of those wine-drinking and painting classes with my old BN friends last Thursday. I had no idea what to expect, and even though they didn’t give us our promised wine (looked like you had to BYOB – oh well, I was driving anyway), I came up the the sunflowers on the right:

The picture on the left is one someone painted of me in college.

The picture on the left is one someone painted of me in college.

I think the coolest thing about the class was that for the two hours you were there, you really had to concentrate on what you were doing. There wasn’t a lot of chatter between my group, we were all engrossed in our work. Everyone ended up with something totally different, and when I say everyone I mean the entire 50+ people there. I will tell you in all honesty that I consider myself creative, but I am by no means a painter. However, I found out two interesting things during the class. I paint ambidextrously, and I was more interested in texture and color than in getting my picture “just right.” Bottom line, I am actually proud of my picture!

In other news, I have not lost any weight this summer, I have actually gained a pound or two. Or two pounds. Say it however you like. I have been going to the gym, but I am not burning calories at the rate of my friends who use the same Polar watch heart rate device I own. They show off their 300 to 1000 calorie burning sessions, and I can barely get the the 200 mark. But I’m trying.

I also broke my toe last week, which has slowed me down, but it’s getting better. Then, the A/C stopped working. It was fixed, but then my ceiling started leaking. And a tropical storm is expected today and it’s not fixed yet.

I am trying to keep it together but I find I am getting stressed out about the small shit. It has always been so with me. But seriously: A leaking ceiling in hurricane season is BAD.

Understand: I have enough money to take me to the end of September if I’m lucky, but if I don’t get this job back I am fucked. And though I’ve been trying to be positive, the nightmares about unemployment are starting up, and fear is creeping in.

I hate to go out on a sad note, so I will say that though I am not going to do it now, I do want to write a post about ways I have found to save money this summer. I am becoming quite the thrifty girl. And one them is just this: go to the park. You heard me, go to the effing park!

We have so many local parks, and even though it is hotter than Satan at a barbecue in the summer, if you go in the evening and there is a breeze, it is heaven. Jon and I went on Friday night for a food truck invasion event, and we’re going to do it again, but with our own picnic. We sat and ate and I told him about a depressing Danish movie I watched with Mads Mikkelsen. Well, Mads was IN it, he didn’t sit and watch it with me. Sigh. I think THAT alone would cure my depression!

So in a nutshell, this is what my summer has constituted of thus far: Depressing foreign movies!

And Jersey Boys, but I had to take mom to something.

I’m going to close now because I haven’t much else to say, and just sitting here tapping these keys is a form of procrastination. But the selfie onslaught continues. I just can’t seem to stop. Once you find your good angles, you never want another person to take your photo again, because nobody does it better….than you.

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Where May Went

When I look back and see I haven’t posted anything for the month of May, I am not surprised. There were many times I wanted to (I know I say that ALL the time), but I had told my husband at the end of April that I needed May to be by myself. To figure some things out, to get organized.

So, it’s June 5, how’d I do?

It’s funny, but I find it hard to believe it was just a little more than a month ago that went to my college reunion. I was still on a post-reunion high for several weeks in May. I am so glad I went, so glad I had the opportunity that was denied me five years ago.

I always believe that people will surprise you, and they do. During my three-month tenure back at the paper, one person came up to me in the cafeteria and told me she had heard that my dad passed, and she wanted to offer her condolences. Someone I had seen in the building for 17 years prior to my eight-year absence, but who I had never talked to before. Not an enemy, certainly, but not a friend either. I was extremely touched and thanked her. But how funny is it that people who had been my close co-workers, who had gone to my goodbye drinkathon party eight years before, said nothing.

After the reunion, I got an e-mail from a member of my class. Again, not a close friend, but certainly not otherwise. She is very successful, and lives a much different lifestyle than I do. But she wanted to tell me she wished she had more time to talk to me at the reunion. It was very sweet, and I was a little shocked. She probably reached out to others, too, but again, people will surprise you.

But I haven’t seen many people the past month. The lifestyle I have chosen for the summer is fairly solitary. I am not complaining. I do get a little lonely sometimes, but Ringo is always here to keep me company. Yes, he sleeps about 20 hours a day, but he’s an old cat. I get it.

Before I left my job, I had a lunch date with the two women I worked for. I felt so uncomfortable at the pricey restaurant on Palm Beach, because I hadn’t been there in years. And I was feeling down on myself while I dined with two very skinny girls. When one asked what I was doing for the summer, and I told her, she seemed shocked. I don’t think either of them understood what it is like to live on a VERY fixed income. The one who originally asked then wanted to know what I wanted to do. I told her how much I had enjoyed my job these past three months, and how I wanted very badly to return in the fall. Brown nosing, you understand. But she practically shouted at me, “What do you REALLY WANT TO DO WITH YOUR LIFE?”

Well damn, girl, first, it’s none of your business. You haven’t spoken three paragraphs to me since I’ve been here. But I told her instead I wanted to design knitwear, and had a few irons in the fire. But I couldn’t make a living from it!

Fast forward to last month. I got an e-mail from Knitscene that my design for the Spring 2015 issue had been accepted.

Inlet

I don’t mind putting my sad sketch in here, because no one reads this anyway, and I am not scared of being copied.

To be honest, I was gobsmacked when I got the acceptance e-mail. I feel like I’ve been trying to get in Knitscene FOREVER, but this is only my second attempt. I guess I should be proud, and excited, and I am. I’m also a little scared to death, because now I have to make this thing! Truth: I haven’t knit a garment since 2009. Once I put on 30 pounds, it just didn’t seem prudent anymore.

I have until the end of July to do this, and I have to get started TODAY. Yes, today. Today, I will figure out some maths and cast on. Or so I tell myself. I think I can. I think I can.

You see, when you’re home alone you have no one to answer to but yourself, and you’re a procrastinator with wandering attention like me, you get bored easily.

So what did I do in May? I watched a lot of movies from the library and Netflix. I read a lot of books that I have stacked in my closet and need to finish and donate. I cleaned obsessively, and I cooked a ton of vegetables. Roasting in the oven is my thing.

I said I would exercise, and I did. For one week. Then I quit and now I actually sit here in my gym clothes again, determined to go after I finish this missive. I think I can. I think I can.

It’s been hard, too. I have such a limited budget, it is difficult to buy the food that I’m responsible for some weeks. I’m going to a movie with some of my old BN buddies this weekend, and I had to budget for it, too. Buying something for $1 at the thrift store becomes a treat.

But I’m doing my best. I will admit I live in fear everyday that I won’t get my job back in October. I have to know by August, because I only have enough money to get through September. Yes, my husband can help me, but only so much. I have bills that are my responsibility to pay each month. If August comes and I find out I have to scramble, then it’s time to punt.

When I went to that lunch date back in early May, the consensus seemed to be that everything would stay the same and I would be back. But things have a funny way of changing, and out of sight often means out of mind. I wish I could say I felt confident that things will remain the same, but when you’ve been through the work hell that I have these past years, you don’t know.

What I do know is this: If I had stayed at that awful place I walked out of, I would have an ulcer by now and would never have submitted to Knitscene. My confidence would have been shot.

I am learning, if nothing else, to like and accept myself more each day. Even though I shuffle around the apartment in old T-shirts and shorts, I’ve never felt more attractive, and less at odds with my looks. I think it has something to do with not having to compare myself to others every day.

Or maybe I’ve just learned my angles, and how to photograph myself better!

PicMonkey Collage

This is me. This is who I am, at almost 47 years of age. I have so much more to do, I have an uncertain future to plan for. But I’m doing the best I can, every day.

Okay, It’s 9 a.m. Off to the gym!

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Winging It

When I was more active in the writing game (being a member of Romance Writers of America, going to conferences, etc.) there were some terms that bugged the crap out of me because they were so twee.

“Are you a plotter or a pantzer?” was my public enemy number one. Plotters are planners who write everything down on Post-it Notes or outlines, they have huge corkboard maps of plot points and a dossier on every character. Pantzers fly by the seat of their pants. They wing it.

I have wung it all my life. I know it. I admit it. I am not ashamed of it, it’s part of my genetic makeup that comes from who knows where (as a child of a closed adoption, I have no clue). I had a full year to study for Jeopardy!, and instead I crammed the almanac two weeks before filming. I meant to lose 30 pounds before my college reunion, but the months kept turning into weeks and…..forget it. You know the rest.

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Time does have a funny way of passing….

My reunion went by too fast. If I calculate the math (hahahaha!) it comes out to 30 hours. That’s it. A little more than an hour per year to catch up. It wasn’t enough.

I sailed through four years of college by winging it. I always made good grades in school without much effort, so I thought I could do it in college, too. I was wrong. It took a lot of shit grades my freshman year to understand.

I graduated with a low B average. That was an accomplishment for me. If you saw the grades I got in algebra and biology, you would understand. But I did get an A in Deviant Behavior. Stop laughing. Really. Stop it.

arch collage

Can you see the squirrels playing in the first photo? I love the lions at the fountain. And honey was sweet to stand for a blurry photo.

I was sick a lot in college. I had kidney stones and lady problems that resulted in two surgeries my senior year. I had an operation two days before I walked on stage to get my diploma, and I could barely stand, let alone take steps.

I write these things not to say “poor, poor pitiful me,” but to show that even though I went through a lot and put myself through even more, those four years were the happiest of my life. I’ve said it for 25 years and I mean it to this day.

But my college experience was different than a lot of my classmates. In truth, we all have different experiences, and divergent perceptions of what happened. I am always fascinated by the idea of identity, how we carve out who we are and what we like, what we believe and what we stand for. And how we reconcile all the things we did in the past with who we are now.

For me, college was about hanging with boys in bands. Going to as many concerts as I could and making sure I was in the front row every time. It was drinking more than I should have, but not nearly as much as others, and doing stupid stuff when I did indulge.

Put aside all my endless nattering and philosophizing and what I’m trying to say is I’m glad I was there. Because I was, even though I found out this weekend I was NOT in the freshman class photo, or in the graduation one! Where in the HELL was I? I swear, I don’t know. Probably hiding in some nook or cranny listening to Echo and the Bunnymen on my Walkman. But I was sad this weekend, too, even though I hid it from everyone but my husband and one of my closest friends.

I was sad for all the professors who meant so much to me but were no longer there. I remember the one who passed away after my freshman year, but gave me a bunch of his records. I still have them. The one who put up with my flibbertigibbet behavior, like the time I spilled cherry Kool-Aid all over my completed paper on Mary Shelley. It was done on a typewriter, so there was no way I could replicate it – I had to turn it in all red and gooey. And she laughed at me and wrote a funny note on that hot mess, but still gave me a good grade.

I miss the professor I worked for. We had some laughs. He’s not dead, but, still. I hand-cranked 500 mimeographed syllabus sheets for him, and sniffed every single one. You can bet my diploma on it.

But mostly, I missed my friends who weren’t there. I kept in touch with them for several years, even if I was the only one sending letters. Some of us even got together all the way into the 2000s. One of them passed away. But time happens and the tide rolls in and out and people lose touch. I blame myself a little bit for these things, even though they are beyond my control. I blame myself for a lot of things I probably shouldn’t.

I missed my friend the artist. The one I haven’t talked to since Hurricane Katrina. She was my best friend for almost 20 years. She hated school; made no secret of it. Disliked almost everyone, and thought they disliked her and laughed at her expense. But that wasn’t necessarily the case. I can’t count the times people asked me about her this weekend, or said how much they liked her and how outrageously talented they thought she was. Which is true. See what I mean about perception?

collage 2

There was an interesting art show display going on in the wings of the auditorium. I looked at the identification and it was done by a dude? Sorry, I lost his name.

The best part of my weekend was taking honey for a walk around campus. Showing him a few secret places I remember fondly. The theatre where I used to show the classic film series one year – I got the job when one of the above-mentioned professors leaned out of his office one night and asked me and some compatriots if any of us knew how to run a projector. I was drunk  and told him I was born running a projector. It was a lie, but I learned how on my own. I wung it.

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I used to show movies here.

I showed honey a photo of the women’s bathroom (because let’s get real, I couldn’t take him there!) where I would hide my books during exams, under the couch cushions. Then, I’d take a huge Coke to class and have to pee copiously throughout the test. I’d just sidle down to the ladies room, grab my book and stand on the toilet seat in a stall. Sort of an open-book test, know what I’m saying?

cheat collage

My couch and stall “open book” area.

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Why did I take a photo of a dripping sink? Because some things DON’T change in 25 years….

I showed him the hill I fell down, spraining my ankle and putting me on crutches for a week. I did not show him the pothole I stepped in a week later, finally breaking it. That thing is long gone, and on a street I don’t remember. Was bourbon involved? Maybe…..

We even drove by the site of my infamous car wreck. I still miss that red Thunderbird. I loved it more than most of my old boyfriends combined.

The lake I used  to sit in the middle of, on a paddle boat with a wine cooler and a Judith Krantz or Jackie Collins novel, was hard to see because they’re building a new chapel. Ahem. Clearly, I needed some Jesus back then, and more cultured reading material. But no – I love trash and I always have.

And my favorite place, the library. I remember falling asleep on the third floor couch when I was supposed to be cramming for a final. Waking up while the Japanese students hovered over me, laughing and pointing and trying to wake me up.

There’s a kitty in the library now. I think her name is Libris. She crawled right up behind my head and stroked my hair, just like Ringo. She found Jon and me in the magazine stacks, where they had lots of stuff from 1946 but no 1970 Vogue magazines. Did I read them when I should have been studying? Don’t judge me too harshly when I answer in the affirmative.

kitty collage

This is the library cat. Yes, as soon as I walked in I asked the librarian where she was. But she found us.

 

book collage

A thousand books and I couldn’t find the 1970s Vogues. DAMN.

 

And I got a little teary walking into the hall where all my English and history classes were. Thankful for all I learned, for the books I read, even the ones I hated (I’m looking at you, James Joyce). But missing those who are gone forever.

You can go back, and you can reminisce and you can get nostalgic. But I think of that episode of Mad Men, the finale of the first season. The Carousel, the one about the slide projector. How you can go back, but there’s such a painful ache when you do.

I felt it all weekend. I miss my friends. I miss the first man I ever loved, even though I’m happily married now. I miss my off-campus townie friends. The goths and the freaks and the wasteoids. Man, we had some fun.

Honey went on a little drive and took a photo of St. Joseph’s church, downtown. The giant spire reaching to the sky, the gorgeous stained glass. “Yes, I went there,” I told him. “My goth friends and I went to a production of Handel’s Messiah during Christmas. I’ll never forget it. A bunch of scary boys in black with crosses and earrings, and me.”

Who was I in college? I still don’t know. Was I the bad girl? The crazy bitch? The funny one? The dumb blonde?  Was I all of those things, and the me deep down inside, the one who still feels things too deeply, who internalizes every slight, who deflects every compliment? People told me they remembered me as confident and stylish, but in my mind I was foolish and awkward. Where does the truth lie?

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So much beautiful art on campus.

library birds

These embroidered birds are in the library lobby.

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My favorite picture, in the auditorium.

Jon calls these my “Admiral Stockton Moments.” Who am I? Why am I here?

I don’t know. All I do know is I had fun. I’m glad I can look back and say that.

 

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