Saturday, January 31, 2009

Winter Notes

The winter season has never been a vast favorite but I can find it charming nonetheless. I am not a fan of the cold like some, the winter outdoor activities have never appealed - I have never even put on skis (cross country or otherwise), as I mentioned to a friend I find no reason to sled, though I like speed. I do wish to learn to ice skate but have no desire to do it outside on icy ponds.

Still I delight in watching snow fall, marvel at how beautiful bare trees are when encased in ice, particularly when the sunlight alits and makes the limbs sparkle. Shoveling is not a favored activity but I do like some physical labor and really like it when there is enough snow that one must move it in order to navigate the sidewalks and such. The Thursday before last it was delightfully warm, in the high forties to low fifties giving everyone a thin ribbon of spring fever very early in the year. After some of the brutally cold single digits, even going negative, we had just had this was a welcome reminder that it would not always be that cold. Then began the predication of much snow. Since moving to Ohio I have not seen what I consider a lot of snow, and no major ice storms so despite my less than graceful adaption back to winter temperatures I have not found winter so bad. On Tuesday we had snow, not a lot but it was pretty. Then came a freezing rain or sleet, or whatever it's called that adds that terribly frustrating layer of ice atop everything. This was followed by more snow. On Wednesday we had what I consider a reasonable amount of snow, maybe 6-8 inches here in our neighborhood; north of us got 9+ inches which I would have loved, except for the shoveling. The other thing I have noted is the snow here is usually light and fluffy. Not once have we gotten the heavy slushy type of snowfall that feels like one is moving wet cement from around their car - I consider this a plus to living in this area.

I love the quiet that snow brings with it. Cars move slower with more attention, fewer people are bounding about, and there is something about the particular winter sky right after a snow fall that is ethereal and still. All the usual sounds are either in hiding or muffled by the layer of crystallized water covering everything. The sun glints off the fresh sun fooling us into thinking there is mica mixed in with the frost. Except for walking the dog I have remained homebound delighting in the quiet, secreting loving that the cars are covered by a snow-ice-snow layer. It has been with a mix of sadness and thrill that I walked on untreaded snow on the greenway while I alternatively walk inside of others' footsteps and strike out on virgin territory. Because of the ice that fell between the snows sometimes my footstep sink, crushing the false shelf of stability; other times, where it is thicker, I feel inches taller as my perspective changes with the added height.

Yesterday I noted how similar snow can be to sand - it polar opposite in one's ideas of ideal landscapes, vacations and temperatures. In the street, where the walking is some of the easiest the snow has been churned up by tires and has the gritty texture of dampened sand. The soft crunch under my feet is satisfyingly dense and reminds me of beaches on both coasts, though in truth it probably more similar to the collection of sand on the boardwalks, bathroom stations and other sites further from the water's edge. From there I head to the greenway and walk the virgin area where the snow now resembles the sand dunes on Cape Cod - weightless and easily blown about by wind, my foot gently submerges briefly before kicking up a wisp of snowy crystals as I step.

This morning I woke, knowing by the way the light was falling that it was before 8am though I had no clock by my head to confirm it. I had given up on falling back to sleep despite how I love and crave sleep because it just seemed to beautifully quiet to miss. As I walked the dog this morning I watched my breath as I exhaled but this time carefuly noted as the breeze carried it to and from. I wondered how I had failed to notice this before after all the times I seen my breath but never bothered to watch it dance on air.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

It's A New Day

Two weeks ago today I was nervous. At 11:00 that morning I had an appointment with the psychiatrist at the crisis center I had been to the Monday before and given what a treat (NOT) that had been I was hesitant despite the so-called therapist and the apparently competent nurse telling how wonderful this doctor was.

Happily they were right, the doctor was calm, efficient with a kind face. I was also in much better spirits and better able to present myself, which no doubt helped her assessment of me - "You clearly have a good handle on your issues and know what you need to do to take care of yourself". That is very true, I just forget to actually take care of myself sometimes. As we were going over my medication she noted that the therapist (what a peach, again NOT) had written a different one. Smiling, I said, after correcting her three times I gave up. The doctor nodded. In that visit I also learned that my medication had gone generic and would only cost me $4 for a 30 day supply. I was doing proverbial cartwheels for hours about that information. One of the things I had been dreading was figuring out how to pay for happy pills that I expected to run more like $100 a month on no income. Did I mention we are both still out of work?

It has been almost two weeks since I started back on the medication, and a few days on the full dose (side effects required me to build up to the appropriate dosage). Yesterday I noticed that I was feeling happy in a way that had been largely missing for what feels like forever, but in reality has been a few months. The other day I noticed that my food cravings have changed. This was a positive side effect that I remember the strongest from the very first time I went on anti-depressants - I lost my food cravings which are clearly most emotionally driven and some of my appetite. It was an enormous revelation to me as someone who has battled with disordered thinking around food and my weight for the majority of my life. The other day I went to pick up some soda for Her Geekyness and thought "hm, ice cream sounds good". However the reality was that was patterned thinking because I walked away from the ice cream case empty headed. Me, no ice cream! Seriously for those who don't know me in real life, I consider ice cream a food group. I have since bought ice cream to have on hand but I recognized this moment as a sign that the pills are doing something positive.

This morning I got up first and took Puppyman for his morning stroll and damn if it wasn't beautiful out. The sky was all shades of light blue with cloud ranging from wispy white to deep pearl gray. The light was bright despite the sun being largely covered by a band of gray. The trees were bare, their silhouettes looking elegant in the morning light. It was a perfect winter morning except that the recent warm days had melted away the snow. There was a barest suggestion of snow falling, so slight one could think that were seeing things. The air was still and no one else was out but us. Everywhere I looked the sky was beautifully different in it's shading and clouds, the sunlight lit the house and tree limbs subtly.

It is a new day.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Holding my breath with hope

The television is on, it's early, nothing is really happening but yet everything is changing. My heart randomly seems to stop, tears well up at nothing in particular. The last time I watched an inauguration was Clinton's with his promises and charm; what I remember was hope and Maya Angelou. Now I am glued to the television. I am moved and fearful.

"The people we are waiting for is us". That piece of Obama's message was just stated again and it was projected that it will be a theme in his speech. That would certainly echo Kennedy's "ask not what your country can do for you but what will you do for your country" theme. It is a far cry from Bush's style of engagement with this country. We will just leave it that.

This is a day I always hoped for, very much tied in my mind with the hope of a woman president for this country, since I was a child. Raised in a democratic household, an academic household, and a feminist household gave me a sense of the injustice in the world but also they somehow managed to cultivate my innate hopefulness in humanity. That hopefulness, my optimistic nature has been scoffed even by my father who said a number of times that I would outgrow what he called my naivete. I would like to think that I have not.

My mother's first political activism was campaigning for Kennedy even though she was not old enough to vote (one had to be 21 years old at that time). She felt so connected to him that she sent him a birth announcement when I was born. it is had for me to imagine, even today doing the same with any president. I suppose it was a different time, or perhaps it was more about how connected one can feel to a public figure. It is true that I feel like I could actually have a conversation with Obama, but my mother's act feels like a stretch and yet I can imagine people sending birth announcement to him as she did all those years ago. She also received a formal acknowledgement from the White House. It is postmarked 11 days before he was assassinated.

Growing up my parents marched for civil rights, the women's movement, and against the Vietnam War. I went to a number of these events, though I remember little of them I am certain that they contributed to who I am today. I have no conscious memory of King's or RKF's assisnations but they too shaped me as they were topics that ran our kitchen table. Vocal condemnations rang out again Nixon and his politics. When Shirley Chisholm was campaigning her image littered our home, buttons on labels, and words of hope whispered, shouted. Stories that though my grandfather was a white European, an escapee from Dachau, he was so dark (helped by lying in the sun at every opportunity) that he and my grandmother were refused service. Even looking not white enough left one vulnerable to prejudice.

Today we have an African-American president. How did we get here? I don't actually know the answer, on a really deep profound level. I really don't. I am awed that we are but I also do not think this changes everything. Not even close but what a start to the potential new world. Now my heart has regulated, the tears have stopped (mostly), and my breathing is easier (again, mostly) because he is now officially our president and it does change everything regardless what happens next.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Enter? I think not.

Seriously, I mean I just cannot begin to fathom would possess anyone to okay this design. It is not as though I ever thought the Bratz dolls were an ideal toy, and certainly they wound up being desired and purchased for much younger children than the presumed market. Or were they? So hard to know what toy is really geared to what ages given the number of "spa" and make up like products geared to the under 8 years old set. I did kind of dig their weird proportions, so clearly not life like versus Barbies who look more like (on first glance) and designed as a "realistic" body ideal (though they are not). Mostly I thought the look reminded me of the lollipop heads label being thrown on women (mostly starlets and stars) who are scary thin. Not any better I grant you.

In the comments in the article were not surprising, especially the people who said the woman quoted in the article deserved the dilemma since she was unconscious enough to buy the doll in the first place. While there is that high and mighty piece of me which agrees wholeheartedly, a large piece thinks of that saying which includes words like: stone, cast, first. Really is there anyone who's parenting we totally agree with? I mean assuming you could live on their shoulder for a couple of weeks, not just what you see during visits or what they write about on their blogs. Probably no one. Would I buy any of these dolls for my child? My niece? No I would not. Would I ascribe to all my philosophies full on given the stress of life, the whine of the child (because though my parenting skills so far are stellar, children are born with their own personalities which means we only have so much control), lack of private time to regroup? Sadly, I am certain I would not. As much as I would like to do otherwise I know I would use the television too much, I would not read to my child every day, and would not go for walks every day talking about the species of trees, the migration habits of birds, and collecting autumn leaves to preserve in wax later while sipping warm cider.

However given the realities of the world today I would be tempted to sew all of her clothes, think hard about homeschool networks, and give up cable. And I would not be buying or receiving toys of this nature. Mostly because you know, I don't want strangers making comments on internet about what a slacker feminist parent I am.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Are You There Blog, It's Me Dharma?


I know it's been awhile. Too long really. Okay first thing that I need to tell is that I am no longer employed. Yes, it's true. No, I didn't walk. On New Year's Eve I was informed that this understaffed company was going to take three positions into two so I was out. On some level I must have tasted something in the air. I had decided to take Friday, January 2nd off and give myself another 4 day weekend so I was clearing up my desk, tidying up. A lot. I had even tucked the Moderator Training manual in my bag to move it to home since I had gotten to keep a copy after setting up that event. Given the new situation I wrote to the powers that be that I would come in briefly on Friday to finish cleaning up email and leaving a status report on my various projects. I was fully assured it was a "it's not you, it' me" type of break up. They are very happy with my performance, my decision to come back in fit with the level of professionalism I had display, blah, blah. The temp agency is totally happy with me. The job was stressing me to the max so except for the lack of income thing, this is pretty good.

It's not like I had any problem telling dear blog that I was let go, I think it was a lot of exhaustion and perhaps that I treat you sometimes like my dearest friends - I don't talk when I am depressed and going through a lot. Don't get me wrong I am still a bit depressed though without the stress from this job, it's better.

Monday I jumped through a series of fiery hoops in an effort to procure my happy pills. This acrobatic adventured culminated in a visit to the local crisis care center which is probably the most surreal experience of my entire life, which includes tripping on mushrooms and taking the NYC subway system to the East Village. We shall leave it at that as I am not sure I can write it in any way that can convey how warped an experience it is and that some people should not be in counseling.

This week I have also applied for five jobs. So far one is a bit of scheme which purports to turn you into a business coach, giving you all the tools it cost about $29K. Ha, yeah right. The other was one I had written off, but my friend Maria Niles nudged me about told me she wouldn't listen to my protests that I was under qualified. My friend Jennie graciously edited my cover letter into something wonderful and amazing. Withing minutes I received a "thanks for playing" response. Sigh. I suppose it was at least good for me to brave my insecurities and go for it. In that same vein I asked the trainer from the Moderator training to join my Linked In network, which he did. Again, something I usually would think about but never really do. So I am breaking my boundaries, challenging my insecurities and putting on a good face.

More later.