Saturday, August 30, 2014

Summer Recap

So long time no post.  We've been traveling for my work, and busy with Hannah, and she's started sleeping through the night (yay) but winds up getting up at around 6 most mornings (not yay).  Which means that I kind of have to rethink my whole sleep schedule, getting up early to write, how I'm going to fit in The Artist's Way etc.  Our babysitter likes to talk about how she "puzzles" things together, and that's what I'm trying to do.

I was thinking back on the summer, and how it didn't work out at all the way I'd planned.  I had planned to go to Sweden for my best friend's wedding, and North Carolina for my stepbrother's wedding.  Neither of those things happened.  Instead, the following happened.

Memorial Day Weekend: the Saturday morning of Memorial Day Weekend I went to the doctor and got meds for my bipolar disorder.  I took them that Saturday night, felt like a freight train hit me, and slept for 13 hours without waking up once.

Hannah moved into her own room Memorial Day Weekend as well.  It was a big weekend all around.

The week after that I was in New York for BookExpo where I met a lot of publishers, took lots of long walks through the city, revisited some of my old haunts, and ate a lot of Pret a Manger sandwiches.

In mid-June the shit hit the fan with our neighbor when he came pounding up our steps swearing at us (he has some anger issues).  We should have called the cops for disorderly conduct, but we were too shellshocked.  Next day the County comes out and says that:
- we have to tear down the cat shed
- we have to get an inspector out about the home office
- we need to rehome half our cats.

That night I escaped to Seattle for the launch of the Amazon Fire phone and met Jeff Bezos the next day.

When I got home we decided that we were moving back to Pennsylvania by the next summer.  We would swing seriously into Moving Mode, which meant getting rid of stuff, fixing up the house, and yes, rehoming our cats.  I stopped feeling safe in our home thanks for the asshole next door, who also started coming up more often.  Before The Incident we'd seen him twice in 7 years.  Now he's up like every week.

Ok, so we spent tons of time and energy calling cat places and trying to find homes for older cats, which is a tough sell.

Then I went to Vegas for ALA Annual.  It was hot.  That's all I can say about that.  Oh, and the Bellagio fountain show is amazing.

We started Mommy & Me swim lessons the last week in June.  Hannah had a blast with the kids in the water, and even went off the diving board.

By the 4th of July we had homes for the cats lined up, and we were delivering them.  J took down the cat shed, but it took a week because he was doing it carefully since we might wind up reassembling it in our driveway.

The inspector comes in mid July and says that J has to tear down the home office, and has 2 weeks to do so.

I work part time so he has time to disassemble, and Hannah and I spend a lot of time together in the afternoons.

We had our first yard sale on August 2, and made around $70, and got rid of 2 carloads of crap.

The home office was mostly torn down by her birthday, on August 7.  Which she spent in the ER with strep throat.  A 15 hour overnight ER visit.  I'm still recovering from that.

Sometime in there I went up to San Mateo and got pissed off at the summertime tourists clogging up the airport.

After all this, the idea of going to Sweden - just the idea of it - made me nauseated.  I just couldn't do it.  So I bailed on my best friend and his wedding.  So sad.  I also bailed on my stepbrother's wedding.  Too many people got married in August.

Hannah took her first steps August 9.  She was really seriously walking by around the 19th.  Now she's a pro.

This past week we were up in Santa Clara for a big event I do there each year.  The drive through the Central Valley with an antsy 1 year old who can walk was pretty rough.  I had told my boss back in mid July that I was moving, and was going to be working for myself.  I might still stick around with my current job on a consultant/contract basis (and in fact I think it makes sense for me to do so, at least for a year or two), but I'm also hustling for other work next year, and will be going to the Pa Library Association meeting at the end of September.

And today, to nicely wrap up the end of summer in a neat little package, we had our second yard sale and made around $250.  I sold the Asus tablet I bought in 2011 at Best Buy in Upland.  J sold his first guitar.  We're seriously getting rid of everything.  It's awesome and freeing and amazing.

This summer I also started practicing daily meditation, daily writing, and using the loseit app.  I'm within 7 pounds of my pre-pregnancy weight.  I walk around the lake at least 4-5 days a week, with smaller walks the rest of the days.  It's great to start feeling healthy again.  I'm fairly well adjusted to my meds - they don't make me feel like I was hit by a freight train anymore, though I do still need 8 hours of sleep each night to not feel like death.

Hannah is on a good schedule, and I get time in the evenings to myself these days.  Also the mornings, if I can drag my ass out of bed early enough.  Now that it's getting light so much later, the 5:45 alarm seems even more like a medieval torture instrument.

And I've read a ton of books on Oyster.  I heart Oyster.

So that's where we are.  Nothing went as expected, but that's kind of how life goes, and I'm really excited about the future.  Working for myself, however that will go.  Moving back home (which sort of fills me with dread, but is also exciting at the same time - plus J is really excited, so it's great to see him like that).  Really committing to a number of big changes, which I think will be for the best for our family, and for Hannah.  It's been a crazy summer!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well

I've had several signs pointing me to the writings of Julian of Norwich lately.  She was a fourteenth century anchoress and Christian mystic, who, when she was 29 years old, was deathly ill.  While on her sickbed, she had sixteen visions of Christ, starting when she saw the garland wreath in her room literally bleed, the way Christ's crown of thorns would have made Him bleed.

After she had her visions - and survived her illness - she wrote about them, and was the first woman to publish a book in the English language, right around the same time as Chaucer, Revelations of Divine Love.  She also devoted her life to meditation on her visions, and became an anchoress in Norwich.

Another famous anchoress was Hildegard von Bingen, who is famous for being the first woman to publish her music compositions.  Anchoresses were nuns who wanted to completely shut themselves away from the world, and devote their lives solely to meditation and prayer.  So they literally walled themselves in a small room attached to the abbey, and there was a little slit where they would receive meals, and communion, and they could view the services.  They were regarded as very wise and learned women, and people would often stop outside and ask them for advice, or a blessing.

There is a festival in Norwich celebrating Julian now, Julian Week, which features lectures and information about this amazing woman.

I've been reading her Revelations (there are several versions in print, and available at my favorite place, Oyster) and I'm struck by something really wonderful, and I think, part of the reason why I was led to her (there are no accidents in life - or books).

In all her visions, she saw all kinds of stuff - she saw Jesus, she understood sin, she got her divinity, but she never saw hell.  There was no hell at all that she saw.  There was only everything being Well.  That was the key message that she got: All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

This wasn't particularly a popular opinion with the Church, the Pope, etc.  But she saw what she saw, and even though she had moments where she doubted how real her visions were (between Showings 15 and 16 especially) she never doubted that she was spoken to by God, and what she was was a Divine message.

So here's how she came to understand it, after meditating on it for 20 years.  There is a part of all of us that is connected to God, that is part of God, the infinite energy of the universe, the Source of life, etc etc.  God would never send part of Himself to hell, and anyway, even Satan himself (if he even exists, which I haven't seen in her writings yet) had once been an angel, and is still part of God.  Then there's the part of us which is human, which messes up, and which hurts people (and ourselves).  That part suffers enough from our actions.  The part of us that is part of God is what is sustained after we die.

I like Julian.  She articulated answers to some of my most burning questions like 750 years ago.

“[God] is our clothing. In his love he wraps and holds us. He enfolds us for love and he will never let us go.”
 “The soul is immediately at one with God, when it is truly at peace in itself.”

Monday, August 11, 2014

Project Fitness Update

So here we are, another Monday.  Oh man, this is painful.  So you know, we were at the ER on Thursday night into Friday.  And it's so interesting how I deal with stress, which is by eating.  I've noticed it so much this week.  I have a stupid fight with J, and I run out to the kitchen and grab a handful of malted milk balls to calm my nerves.  On Thursday night, I had a screaming baby on my lap for hours - I wasn't about to let her crawl around in the ER with all the who-knows-what on the floor.  So I just held her on my lap while she flailed and screamed.  And she sat in her stroller sometimes, and I'd walk with her.  But mostly it was her on my lap, flailing.  Until she finally started to pass out.  So guess what I did?  I hit the snack machine.  Grape soda.  Orange soda.  Diet coke.  A giant pack of vanilla cookies.  Chocolate.  You name it, I guzzled it.

I didn't choose to meditate and channel my inner silence.  No, I inhaled sugar.

This is not particularly healthy.

Even worse, I justified it because I did spend a ton of time walking her in her stroller in circles.  So I was like, "well, I'm walking her around for hours, that must be burning some calories, no?"  Uh, no.  Not that many.  

I've also gotten out of the habit of using the loseit app, which I started rectifying today.  I'd also been sliding on my meditation (mostly because I noticed that whenever I would meditate, I would start thinking hateful thoughts about my asshole neighbor, but that's a different story).  Which doesn't seem to be the point of meditation.  So I meditated today and pushed past that and started thinking no thoughts at all.  For about 6 seconds.

So that's where we are.  Stopped by stress eating.

New week this week.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

People I'm Glad I'm Not: Tony Stewart

It's still a rough time in HannahLand, with her still sick, and being super fussy for most of the day.  We did have a few high points - she took her first steps by herself! - but for much of the day it's been rough.  We're even letting her cry herself to sleep - something I've been totally against from the get go - because she's fighting sleep so much, but she needs it desperately, and when we're in the room with her, she just cries to be held and won't lay down.  Poor baby.  It's been rough.

Still, it's better than what Tony Stewart is going through.  The bigwig Nascar racer (3 time champion) killed an unknown driver last night by freaking running over him.  He was doing some dirt track racing an hour away from the Watkins Glen speedway where he was meant to be racing the next day in NASCAR, and got into an altercation with a driver, spinning him out.  The caution flag came out, and the driver stepped out onto the track, and seemed to play a game of chicken with Stewart when he came around the next time, pointing at him and not moving.  Tony is famous for his anger (he's pulled similar moves himself, even throwing his helmet at the car of another Nascar driver two years ago) and while it's tough to tell from the cell phone video, it appears that Stewart did something before hitting the guy - revved his engine, swerved, something.  The investigation will have to determine what that something was.

In the meantime, we're sad about it here in the Teysko house.  Tony Stewart has always been J's favorite racer.  The year J and I met, 2005, Tony won the championship.  We bought a #20 car Christmas tree ornament (now Stewart is in the 14 car, but at the time, it was the 20 Home Depot).  In fact, for a long time, J refused to shop at any DIY store besides Home Depot, thinking it might jinx Stewart.  Only once he changed cars would J walk into Ace or Lowe's.

J identifies with Stewart in lots of ways, but especially his anger issues.  He doesn't get road rage to the same extent as Tony, but he gets pissed off and says really stupid shit that he regrets later.  It's cost him friendships, roommates, and often causes fights between us.  But at the end of the day, nobody dies.  Tony lost his temper, refused to yield, and a 20 year old kid's existence has been wiped off the face of the earth.  And even if Tony didn't hit him on purpose, he still has to live with the knowledge that his car caused the death of this kid, and he'll need to wake up to that every morning for the rest of his life.

And so, I will take a crying fussy baby giving me a migraine over what Tony's going through, any day.  I'll wake up tomorrow and take my baby to the doctor, and she'll probably be happier, and then I'll get a break while I work, and then we might walk at the lake, and eat dinner, and have a bath, and bedtime might go better than it did tonight, or I might want to gouge my eyes out with a spoon again.  But either way, it's a hell of a lot better than what Tony's going through right now, and I feel for him.  And the driver he killed.  What a freaking mess.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

I'm completely dysfunctional without a routine

I am a creature of routine and habit.  It's the Taurus in me.  Routines and regular rituals are comforting to me.  If I have my routines down for everyday things, it frees me up to be more creative and add more activity to my life because the basics are already sorted.  It's also incredibly comforting to know that when I wake up at 5:45, I have most of my activities sorted out and I don't need to spend a lot of time thinking about them.

The past few weeks my routine has gone to shit, and I'm really suffering from it.

Jonathan has been working on tearing down the home office (which we need to do because it violates a setback law).  I've been working part time in the mornings so he can tear down the building in the afternoon.  I haven't had much of a break for me-time because I know that I can't tear down a building, but what I can do is give J time to work, so I've been watching Hannah so he can work every extra second possible.

So I'm way behind on work.  No fun.  The upshot is that the deadline to have the building down is this Monday, so I know this will all come to an end then either way.

Thursday was Hannah's birthday, and we had fun for much of the day, but she also seemed kind of "off" - not eating right, not going to the bathroom, generally fussy...when I finally took her temperature, it was over 101, so I took her to the ER and spent the whole night there while they ran tests, waited to see if her fever would break (started at 102.9 taken rectally - which was really awful - in the hospital) and to see if she would eat and not get dehydrated.  The ER is pretty much an exercise in hell.

They got her in to get vitals and see a nurse practitioner really quickly, but then when they decided she needed to be seen by a doctor, and we had to wait for a bed to open up, the fun began.  We were told to go back out and wait for a bed at about 8pm.  We finally got called back at 1am.  During that five hours (which was way past her bedtime, of course) I walked her in giant circles in the parking lot, drank a ton of diet coke, played with her toys with her, carried her back and forth, practiced walking with her, and then, as the night went on, tried in vain to avoid the crazy people.  There was the homeless guy, Darren (named after the Bewitched character) who arrived at the ER with a broken rib, and also had seizures, but he was still waiting after 7 hours.  Then there was a lady, Sylvia, who wanted to sell me solar panels, and followed me around on our parking lot Circle Walk to extol the virtues and ease of solar panels.

I kept going up every hour and asking for the status, wondering whether I could go home without seeing a doctor, or if I should just wait it out.  They gave her Motrin, she seemed to be not so hot, and so a big part of me really wanted to just go home and make an appointment with her pediatrician.

Eventually we went back, though, and they ran a battery of tests including needing to get a urine sample (inserting a catheter), throat cultures, and lots of other fun stuff.  She was hooked up to wires, which meant that she couldn't move around the way she wanted, and she also just wanted to eat the wires, so I had to try to keep that from happening.  For some of the tests they swaddled her so she wouldn't flail around so much.  Also not a good time.

Finally at about 3:45 she fell asleep on my chest sitting in the chair.  She dozed like that until around 9 when we got released, though of course she woke up every hour when they took her temp with the stick up the butt.

We had decided that J would stay home and rest, and I would go alone so that one of us was rested.  So when I got home, I could just crash out and sleep all day.  During some parts of the night (the Circle Walk of Agony) I really missed him and could have used just 10 minutes to sit in the car in silence without a screaming baby.  But I really appreciated being able to crash at home, so that worked out.  When we finally got home (after a Jack in the Box breakfast) Hannah slept all day (and, blessedly, all night) and I slept for 2 hours, and then also all night.

So Friday was pretty much a waste.  And this morning I slept in until she got up at 7:15, so I lost my morning quiet time.  And we missed doing our 10K this morning.

Really, I'm just a wreck without my routine - I haven't been meditating, I haven't been doing Morning Pages, I haven't been writing... but I guess that's life, and hopefully I'll start to get some semblance of it back this coming week.

It never ceases to amaze me just how much I fall apart when I lose my routine.  I never thought I was a creature of habit or routine, but apparently I am.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Happy Hannah Week

I've been engaged in a game of Last Year at This Time because August 6 was when I went to my 38 week appointment and Hannah failed the nonstress test and the doctor decided to induce and the next day we had a Hannah Bear.  So all day we've been looking back at pictures and thinking about what was going on last year at this time.

I hadn't been thinking that it would matter whether I was here for Hannah's birthday or not - originally I had plans to maybe even be away from her on her birthday if I had gone to Sweden to my friend's wedding.  I mean, she's a year old.  It's not like she knows.  Right?  And it's just a day.  Days are days.

But now that it's here, I think I'd be really upset if I wasn't with her on her birthday.  It's not even so much for her, but for me, remembering what it took to get her, honoring the journey we took together, and looking back on it all.  Tomorrow and this weekend will be a time to celebrate the little miraculous (thanks to the miracles of modern fertility drugs) bundle of energy and life that she is.  But like all great feasts and celebrations, there is a time of quiet meditation beforehand, and so that's what we're doing now.  In the time I'd normally be blogging, we looked at pictures from her first few months of life.  Our goofy girl.

Today I gave her a shape sorter from Ikea.  It is a house with the shapes opened in the roof.  You put the little shapes in the holes, the shapes go in the house, and you've got a working system.  Except I showed Hannah how to do it, and then gave the toy to her, and the first thing she did was just lift off the roof, put it on her head, and put all the little shapes directly inside the house without putting them through the roof at all.  My kid is nothing if not efficient.  Then she looked at me like I was supposed to be the smart one, and she was extremely disappointed in me for not having thought of this option before.

Good point, Hannah.  I like that you don't play by the same rules as everyone else.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Week in Old Music: Voces8 and Purcell

Henry Purcell is a Grandaddy in the world of early music.  There are a couple of Big Names that most people who are into music, but not early music, have heard of, and Purcell is always one of them.  He lived in the late 17th century, and was right on the border, getting baroque music started in England.  He wrote the first English chamber opera, Dido and Aeneas, and wrote enough sacred music to fill about a hundred recordings.  He's influenced everyone from Elgar to Pete Townsend of The Who, who said that his harmonies are based on Purcell's.

This week I've been listening to A Purcell Collection from Voces8, a vocal group based in the UK that has a recording contract with Decca, and must receive the award for the Bass with the Most Unique Name in the world: Dingle Yandell.  Seriously, his parents thought that was a good name.  Who names their kid Dingle?  But I digress.  The guy's super-cute, and he can sing, so who care's what he's called?

I like Voces8 a lot (though sometimes I call them V8 and pretend they're vegetable juice).  Their new album is called Eventide, and has more modern music on it, but lately I've been in a Purcell mood, and this album from 2013 does it for me.  It was a Classic FM "Choice for the Curious" pick, so if you're curious, have a listen (and then download the album on itunes.  If you're into this stuff, it will be on regular rotation, I promise).


Monday, August 4, 2014

Deja Vu All Over Again (and baby news)

Things have been absolutely crazy here in HeatherWorld.  What with J tearing down the building (he has 6 more days), me trying to watch Hannah so he can have time to work while trying to keep up with my own job...there hasn't been much time to spare here.  Plus, on Saturday we had a table at a local flea market and got rid of oodles of stuff.  We're starting to think ahead to the move to PA, and are getting even more ruthless than we were before we had Hannah.  This was the first layer of skin off the onion.  Everything that didn't sell (except for the 'spensive electronics - like my Asus tablet - which I can sell on ebay) went to the thrift shop on the way home, and we got rid of about 8 boxes of junk.  That's 8 less boxes that we'll have to move.  And 8 less boxes in Hannah's closet so I now have space to think about the next layer of ruthlessness.

The reason it's been deja vu is because over the weekend the building was at about the same level that it was last summer before Hannah arrived, and looking at it brings back all the memories of pre-Hannah life; before I was bipolar, before I spent 5 months pumping, before I was so tired, etc etc.  The night before I was emergency-induced, I was sitting in there with the floors unfinished as they are now, while J was doing some wiring, and I posted on facebook that I was craving whoopie pies, and I read magazines on my ipad, and I felt Hannah kicking.  Now the building is back in the same shape, and we have a Hannah, and life is completely different, and the building is coming down rather than going up.

Fun with Boxes!
But in unrelated news, it rained all day yesterday, so we had Rainy Day Fun, which involved figuring out a gazillion things to do with a cardboard box while staying in our PJ's.  Examples: you can sit in it.  You can hide in it.  You can get pushed and pulled in it.  You can put things in it, and then take them back out.  You can put all your stuffed animals in it, and then sit on top of them.  You can sit in it and close it up so you have your own private space.  Who knew there was so much you could do with a cardboard box???

Hannah's birthday is this week, and I may have gone just a tad crazy on the toys.  But here's what I figure.  I figure that she won't really be getting more until Christmas, so this lot is going to have to do her for four and a half months, which, in baby time, is like forever.  So I got stuff that may be a little advanced for her (like a my first leggo-wannabee set of giant blocks, and organic edible crayons) because I figure that by November she might be totally into it.  She also got some more normal age appropriate stuff like shape sorters, pull toys, bead mazes, pounding things, some bath toys, and baby musical instruments.  We went to Ikea last weekend to get a baby duvet set for her crib (now that she's a year old, she can have blankets, and I wanted to make her crib more friendly and cozy looking than just the gross white sheet that seemed to always get stained with her drool).  But anyway, I had no idea that Ikea had so many kickass toys in their baby department.  I bought one of everything.  Even some things that she already has one of - like a ring stacker thing - because with toys like that, it's good to have variety (so she says, justifying it).  She's also getting some German baby books and I heard a rumor that her Opa (originally from Leipzig) has purchased some German cartoon kids' dvd's from, which will play in our playstation.  And she also got her little duvet and sheet set, which I gave her early, and she adores. She still moves around too much to actually sleep under the blanket; I just put her in her little sleep sack on top of the duvet, and then in the mornings sometimes I catch her kissing it.  It's very sweet.

To celebrate her birthday on Saturday (2 days late) we are doing a 10k at the lake (the Run Through The Pines, which they have every year) and then the grandparents are coming up, and maybe her little friend Neil (baby of Jason and Katie, born about 6 weeks after Hannah). I'll get some pre-made food at Costco to pop in the oven, and we'll have a nice meal, but I refuse to do a cake smash.  I got her a brand new sweet birthday outfit, and I'm not ruining it with a cake smash.  It is one tradition that I am not going anywhere near.

In fact, I am not baking a cake at all.  I have enough issues with food, and J has enough issues with alcohol that the chances are pretty strong that our babygirl is going to grow up with some addictive tendencies of her own.  I'm not going to start a precedent that happy occasions mean sugary crappy food, and so we will be having a nice healthy meal (post 10k) and perhaps the adults will have cupcakes.  Maybe.

And that, my friends, is how we do birthdays in HeatherWorld.  At least, it's how we're doing brithdays this year.  Next year it might not be so easy.  For one, I probably won't be able to keep her presents in a big Ikea bag next to her crib without her catching on to them being there... There's pros and cons to every age, I'm finding.  Right now she is teething and fussy, so that's crappy.  But I can keep her presents in her room, 3 feet from where she sleeps, and she has no clue.  Plus I don't have to wrap them.  Pretty awesome.