Monday, December 24, 2012

I sweat, therefore...

If you've ever wondered, "Does May really work out or does she just make this shit up?" Well, here I am. This is how I kicked off Christmas Eve. I'd like to say that working out is having a marvelous impact on my body, but it's not. Still very much obese with very little change in weight. Here, in two pictures, the enormity of me working out today.

Single leg hamstring presses.
That is not a shadow on my arm. It's the bruise from my pneumonia vaccine. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Ouch, this sucks

I had my annual physical a couple of days ago. Because of my history with respiratory infections, the doctor suggested I get a TDaP vaccination (Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis) and a pneumonia vaccination. Because I know that the vaccine has worn off in people over 40, there is currently a whooping cough epidemic in the western states, and my friend Jolie had it a couple of years ago, this seemed like a good idea to me. Well, that and I know how badly it sucks to have pneumonia. I don't want it again, as the last go around left me with asthma for life.

It has been about 57 hours since I got the vaccinations. That Pneumovax 23 is a real nasty bitch. Thank you, Merck Pharmaceutical. Here's a picture of my arm at the injection site. From all I've read online, this is well within the parameters of a "normal" reaction to the Pneumovax 23 vaccine. It hurts like hell, and it's actually making my right breast hurt. Um, ow.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

I know it's the thought that counts, but was there really any thought involved by the 100-lb. person who just gave me a "gift" of a pound of Danish butter cookies?

Perhaps I just haven't been vocal enough regarding my struggles with my weight, body image, food journaling, and my efforts at the gym. These will be going straight to my husband's office.

When someone gives an overweight, dieting, fitness-focused friend a gift of butter cookies, it a nice gesture or a passive-aggressive one?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Oh, admit it

You miss me when I'm not here.

The truth is, I miss being here. My brain has been full of thoughts these last few months. The election made me so crazy I couldn't even write about it.

Someone told me that everyone should think of a gratitude statement for each day in November. I was slow to get started, but I came up with a list I'm thankful for.

First of all, today is World Toilet Day. That should be a pretty big deal, but aside from CNN, it has been mostly ignored by mainstream media. If you want to know what it is and why it matters, click here.

I am thankful for toilets. Not just for toilets, but for toilets that function well and for good water pressure and for sewage systems that work without a glitch. Amen.

I'm thankful for 
  • corrective lenses, 
  • modern dentistry, 
  • antibiotics,
  • gas stoves,
  • extra-firm mattresses, 
  • unscented lotion, 
  • Breathe Right Nasal Strips, 
  • 27-gear Campagnolo derailleurs, 
  • cinnamon flavored toothpaste, 
  • Coolmax fabric, 
  • Kleenex, 
  • supportive insoles, 
  • Nike Dri-Fit socks, 
  • albuterol, 
  • books, 
  • low VOC paint
  • tampons
  • adult formula Clearasil, 
  • Advil, 
  • Xanax, 
  • SADD lights, 
  • 49-strand jewelry wire, 
  • birth control pills, 
  • the Jeep Liberty, 
  • Tronex pliers, 
  • red wine, 
  • cheese,
  • sun, 
  • calculators, 
  • traffic lights, 
  • Q-tips, 
  • wheeled luggage, 
  • self-adhesive stamps, 
  • Costco,  
  • olives,
  • Polartec fleece,
  • pedicures
  • hardwood floors,
  • clean water,
  • And the automatic transmission.
 This is not an exhaustive list by any means.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

It sucks being a girl

My vajay-jay hurts. I've been battling this problem for awhile. I haven't been to the doctor because there's a very good chance there is no infection, no anomaly. I know the difference. It's probably the return of pelvic pain syndrome. I try to ignore it, but damn. Ow. My vajay-jay is not happy.

TMI? Probably, but it's my blog so I don't care.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Not so dreamy

What do you dream? Do you know? Do you remember?

I remember many of the dreams I've had throughout my life. Some are terrible, but most of those that I remember were happy dreams.

For at least a decade, I don't think I've had any "good" dreams, the kind that leave you disappointed by the interruption of waking up. My dreams are anxiety-filled, confusing, serious, and full of confrontation. The settings and topics vary widely, but they are never, ever good dreams.

It's not that I have nightmares or night terrors. Those do come along, but infrequently. There was a time about six or seven years ago when I would often wake up during the night, terrified from a frightening dream, but eventually my mind calmed itself and those dreams stopped coming.

Sleep itself is a problem for me, but I know I've finally slept when I wake up from a dream. The dreams I have now--and I dream vividly every night--would best be described as dark, disturbing, and overwhelming in their detail.

I don't believe that dreams have representational or clairvoyant meaning, but I do think that dreams tell something about the mind of the dreamer. What do my unsettling, anxiety-filled dreams say about me? Maybe I'm just disturbed.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The wrong diagnosis question

I often wonder how many adults with ADD/ADHD are walking around blasted out of their minds on the wrong drugs because they were incorrectly diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I would imagine there are a lot.

Saturday, October 20, 2012


The changes caught you off guard, didn't they? Did you think you were in the wrong place? You're not. Same old brain full of nonsense empties itself here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


I haven't said this in a very long time, but most days, I really just want to blow my fucking brains out. I thought I should clarify that this seemingly never changes.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Thinking that maybe

Thinking that maybe the title of this blog should be "Solipsistic." Or not.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

My body and my mind

Exercise is supposed to be good for the mind. It's supposed to make moods better. Maybe that's true.

I don't like exercise very much. In fact, I hate it. It's a lonely, self-contained experience. And it's really hard. And I get hot. Sweating is so...unpleasant.

I've been exercising a lot, about eight hours a week, but sometimes more. My workouts start with either 30 or 60 minutes of cardio done on an elliptical trainer, a Concept 2 rower, a treadmill, or a wave machine, or a combination of any or all of those. Following the cardio session, I do at least 30 minutes of strength training with weights.

Since I started this self-improvement effort in July, I've lost seven pounds. I was hoping to have lost 20 by now, since I had it in my head that if I ate a calorie-restricted diet and diligently worked out, I'd lose weight at a rate of two pounds a week. Unfortunately, it has turned out to be more like a half-pound or less per week.

Exercise is boring. Don't get me wrong--I work really, really hard at the gym. It's just that the task at hand poses no intellectual challenge nor is it stimulating. My workouts are an act of both mental and physical endurance. The physical is obvious, but the mental challenge lies in not becoming so bored that I just walk away from what I'm doing.

This gives my mind a lot of free reign to roam. My thoughts fill my head, swirling around to the beat of whatever is on my iPod and whatever set of reps I'm counting to. I think about myself. I think about the situation at work. I think about the election. I think about how awful people become in a political year. I think about drone strikes, refugee camps, the horrors and bad behavior caused by religion. I think about human trafficking, forced child labor, the erosion of abortion laws and the travesty of that considering that a woman's right to an abortion is constitutionally protected. I think about the evangelical wingnuts who are trying to cram their religious zealotry and conservative views down my throat and up my crotch. I think about the truly awful people who comment on stories online. I think about how Ted Nugent wants to murder Barack Obama and he isn't even afraid to say so. I puzzle over all of the other people who hope to help him do that and I worry a lot about the president and his family. I think about money. I think about loneliness. A lot. I think about how I would kill myself if I felt bad enough and it came to that. I think about the futility of being a good person in a world largely ruled by mean rich people.

I push through the mechanics of exercise, I breathe, I sweat, I think and I process and I write long, articulate blog posts in my head. Eventually, I come home, but I'm so exhausted the blog posts have evaporated in the ether of my thoughts, and most of what I want to say goes unsaid.

My thoughts may not be recorded here, but they are still filling the Brainucopia.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Plant update

At the beginning of this summer, I posted a photo of what had become of my banana leaf plant over the winter. In an attempt to revive the plant, I gave it some new soil, fertilized it, and put on the back patio where it would get full sun exposure for months. Click here to see the picture and read the post.

I am pleased to report that after a summer of constant nurturing, the plant did, in fact, make a comeback. Here's the photo I promised so many months ago.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

This again

It's 12:30 a.m. and I'm wide awake. When I started working out eight weeks ago, it occurred to me that one of the supposed benefits of regular exercise is improved sleep and mood. I have yet to experience either.

I have a really long week ahead of me, so I'd appreciate it a lot if those exercise perks would kick in. I could use a good night's sleep. And a better outlook.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Oh, I'm fatter than that

Today was a weigh-in day. Forget what I said yesterday. As it turns out, I didn't lose a half-pound; I actually gained weight. Now I weigh more than I did before I started working out and really honing the finer points of my diet.

I thought about bagging the whole healthy lifestyle thing, but I went to the gym anyway and worked out for almost two hours. As I left the gym, I kept thinking about how much I hate--seriously loathe--exercise. I thought about how hard I've been working. It's so frustrating to have no tangible results.

I walked out the door and burst into tears. I sobbed the whole half-block trek to my car and the whole way home. Because yeah, the reality feels that bad.

I came home and had some fat-free, sugar-free yogurt and a little watermelon for dinner. I've lost my appetite, if not my will to live.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

May by the numbers

  • 51: My age
  • 61.5: Number of inches of my height
  • 173: My weight
  • 39.2: My body fat percentage
  • 32.2: My BMI
  • 39: Waist measurement in inches
  • 45.5: Hip measurment in inches
  • 14/16: My clothing size
  • 105/75: My blood pressure
  • 67: My resting heart rate
  • My cholesterol is normal. 
  • 1200: number of calories in a normal day for me
  • 4: Number of days I usually make it to the gym
  • 75: Average length in minutes of my workouts
So, I am clinically obese, fucking enormous--embarrassingly so. My body holds almost 70 pounds of fat squeezed under the skin and around my organs. After the first month of working out (which included two weeks of going to the gym almost every day for three hours a day to jump-start the process), I lost a sum total of a half-pound. I've since lost another half-pound.

Based on the metrics above, I am in the high-risk health group for my age, despite the fact that I don't smoke, I don't have high blood sugar or high cholesterol, my resting heart rate is good, and my blood pressure is just fine. I eat a low-fat, very low-cholesterol diet, and other than drinking red wine on a daily basis, I limit sugar. Doesn't matter. Nope, if you're fat, you're doomed. I keep reading it again and again.

Yesterday I spent my morning at the gym. I did an hour of cardio, a full leg and butt workout, plus a lot of situps. I was there for two-and-a-half tedious, sweaty hours of very hard work. I am no slacker at the gym. Trust me on this.

I suppose at some point, my body will respond. My pants will fit. I know I should really work on slashing that calorie count, but it's hard. I figure, the human body requires 700 calories a day just to run its systems. I burn about 400 calories per workout. That leaves me with 100 calories unaccounted for, so if I want to finish each day having burned all of the calories I took in, I either need to work out longer every day or eat even less. Neither option appeals to me, but since I hate how I look, I really need to choose one of those solutions. And if that doesn't work?

I don't know. Here's what I know: The knee I had surgery on is killing me and has been since I started working out. Everything I do makes it worse, but like they always told me in physical therapy: "Pain is weakness leaving the body." That and it's really unacceptable to cry when you're exercising. That's a problem because I cry during my workouts at least twice a week. It's usually brought on by frustration and the overall loathing I have for being in a gym (or realizing that I am consistently the fattest person there). I just don't get how people enjoy it. It's so painful and tedious. It's hard to believe that something that feels so overwhelmingly awful is actually good for you.

They tell me it is good for me, so I soldier on. No pain, no loss. I'm all about the loss.

I had hoped to hit my goal of 108 pounds in a year, but at a weight loss rate of a half-pound per month, I'm unlikely to meet my goal before 2023. Sigh.

Maybe that nice Chris Powell from Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition could come and stay with me for a few weeks and help me because although I believe I'm doing the right things, apparently, something is very off.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The sick feeling in the pit of my stomach

Sonja quit. Now I don't have to keep pretending that she's a good friend. She was profoundly unsupportive during the years I had the what-would-later-turn-out-to-not-be-BP. When I was suicidal she went ballistic and then told me that made her angry because it showed I was a quitter and she expected more from me.

I never got over that. I couldn't completely distance myself or ever really rip into her about it because she had become my boss. I could have viewed it as a sticky situation, but instead, I tried to be an adult, although a wiser and more cynical version of the one I had been earlier.

We worked well together, but I would never buddy up or refer to her as being my friend. I honestly don't think she ever got it. I came to understand that she liked a very specific version of me, and no behavioral variances had a place in her version of me. So, that's the May that I brought to work every day, no matter how far from the truth that version may have been. In many ways, it is a relief to me that I no longer have to pretend that nothing happened or that Sonja was there for me when I needed her (she believes she showed "tough love" and that's what I needed to "snap out of" the suicidal state and severe depression).

There are other implications to her leaving the job, though. From a professional standpoint, this could be a disaster. Sonja was very good at her job--a job that proved to be demanding and filled with paradoxes. It was a political minefield, but she was able to negotiate it more or less unscathed. She grew a lot as a professional and had the ear of some very influential people in this city.

More than that, she brought innovations and positive changes to the entire organization. She knew how to lead--and was mentored in that through programs she was selected to participate in by the chamber of commerce and the state government.

The place where she worked, this place where I have been helping refugees and engaging the receiving community in broader discussions about refugees, human rights, and the value of empowering disadvantaged people to establish self-sufficiency (instead of continuing in the twin vortexes of poverty and despair), this place where lives and outlooks are, quite literally, transformed, is in turmoil.

So damn worried
We lack funding. That's not nearly as big an issue as the fact that we lack leadership. The person who was hired to come in and lead this organization two years ago has proven to be an arrogant bully. He focuses on the "big picture," which in practice means he's superficial. He doesn't understand--or want to understand--what most people here do. He delegates liberally, and as a result, has no grasp of just how much work goes into keeping this organization running. We have always lacked resources, but lacking leadership has led to a significant exodus of talent and people with immense institutional knowledge.

Sonja had no qualms about pointing out what needed to be done and what new policies were causing dysfunction. Rather than listen to what Sonja had to say, the director simply made it more and more unpleasant for Sonja to stay. It took nearly a month before Sonja's job was posted.  When the posting was finally made public, many of us in my department were shocked to see that it had been consolidated with another open position and yet the pay had been reduced by about 20 percent.

In the meantime, in the last two years, the director has been upgrading our slum of a facility while also cutting programs and eliminating staff (robbing Peter to pay Paul). These aren't people who had poor performance records; they are people who have been here for a long time and simply earn more money than the director feels the jobs are worth. Most of those positions have been replaced with job-share type arrangements, so anyone hired is part-time and can be compensated with much lower pay and no benefits.

The jobs that have been hit hardest are those that the director (who has no background in social work, social enterprise, or most of the other things we're involved in), does not comprehend very well. This leaves me in a vulnerable position. It is quite difficult to articulate what I do and how I do it, unless you shadow me on the job or you're a part of the process. I am not young or low on the pay scale, which also puts me at risk for elimination. This director has been very keen to hire what he calls "high energy." What that means is he approves new hires who are young, but well-educated and underemployed. Think 26-year-olds with graduate degrees who haven't been able to find work in their preferred field. They'll settle, but they aren't particularly dedicated to the type of work we're known for. There is a distinct lack of passion creeping through the employee population.

To complicate matters, my department gets half of its funding through the federal government's refugee services program. This money is managed by the state and we bid for it every two years. We have to show positive outcomes and meet a dizzying array of benchmarks in our work. The grant is complicated and requires a lot of hands-on management and interaction with the state. Sonja excelled at this. The organization director doesn't even comprehend our relationship with the state and federal offices, let alone why someone needs to maintain the daily flow of communication between entities. If the state office that oversees our work feels that they aren't able to monitor or manage what we do, they will do something else with that grant money next year.

We are screwed.

So, I worry. I am a 51-year-old woman who does a a very specific job in a somewhat obscure field. There aren't very many places I can go, and even if I could, it would involve slashing my pay. I can't afford that. Besides, last I heard (again and again and again), no one is hiring frumpy middle-aged, do-gooder women these days--at least, not at a living wage.

I am still $13,000 in debt, largely the result of challenges sent my way by the not-actually-BP years. That number used to be many times what it currently is, but I've been digging out steadily. Even without that debt, I have a mortgage to pay, food to buy, insurance, utilities, car maintenance, and myriad other expenses just like any other adult. At this point, I cannot afford to be unemployed for even a month.

When I think about it all, I feel a little sick. I had my personal issues regarding Sonja, but professionally, her departure is a huge loss and has left at least ten other people in a very vulnerable position.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Watching and waiting

Earlier this summer, the nurse midwife who cares for my lady parts decided it was time for me to stop taking the wonderful birth control pills that resulted in only four periods per year. She switched me to Lo-LoEstrin, which is apparently as low as you can go. There was no question of going off of the Pill completely because Jackie was afraid my mood would be adversely affected.

I'm not happy about going back to having periods every month. That in and of itself is enough to make my mood tank. I've never been one of those women who gets bitchy when her period comes. Instead, I just get sad. The problem is, there have been times when I couldn't snap out of it--as if there were no counter-acting hormones to lift me back into a normal part of the mood spectrum.

Hormones, moods, me. All so unpleasant.

Later this week I'll find out what life is really like on a new hormone mix. I've been sweating less, but that was least of my problems. Mostly I'm afraid of the debilitating pelvic pain that I had when I got monthly periods. Time will tell how much of a mess I"m going to be.

I wonder

I wonder where half the world got their pictures of Yoda meditating before I posted one on this blog. The thing is, I lifted it from someone else's blog. Who knows how far removed that picture is from a Lucas Films source...I do wonder what everyone else is using it for, though.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I don't play the lottery very often, mostly because I either forget or I'm too lazy to go out and make the purchase.

There was an interesting article on the CNN website today about why people play the lottery when their chances of winning are so minimal. I can tell you that I do it because I have seen that sometimes people do have a lottery win. It's improbable, but not impossible. There's a whole series about it on The Learning Channel.

I am married to a statistician. He also buys lottery tickets, for much the same reason I do.

I've heard that your chances of getting hit by lightning are higher than the chance of winning the lottery. Well, my house was hit by lightning and caught on fire. Oddly, the house wasn't even close to being the highest object or structure in the area when it got hit. Years later while out on a walk, I was shocked on the foot by lightning that hit nearby and traveled across the ground. It hurt like hell, but it was the sound of the deafening bang that accompanied that lightning that made me nearly wet my pants.

I've also had three incredbly rare medical conditions, and my dad died of an illness that fewer than 30,000 people in all of North America have at any one time. I figure, given that history, playing the lottery could pay off for me.

If it doesn't, I'm OK with that. I live in a state where lottery proceeds go to a very good cause, a cause near and dear to my heart, so, yes, I'll be buying a Powerball ticket later today. If I remember. And if the line isn't too long.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Sometimes, no.

I had a long blog post composed in my head, but now I'm on my fourth glass of wine, so writing is just not going to happen tonight. Cheers.

Monday, August 13, 2012


I'm pretty sure that either my head or my heart is going to explode from stress, frustration, fatigue, hormones and whatever other forces are simultaneously crushing me. No assistive, self-destructive force is going to be needed. I'm pretty sure my body is going to spontaneously self-destruct if this keeps up. It's OK, because I'm not sure how much I can take.

It's totally external, out of my hands, not in my control, and not really about me. I'm stuck in the middle of a terrible circumstantial tornado.

And also repeatedly swooped down upon by idiots, which just adds to the challenges.

I need to win the lottery, because seriously, the way things are going, I'm not going to have an income by the end of 2012.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

I think about it every day

Did you know that there is not one day that goes by--not one--that I don't spend some time thinking about suicide? This may be the only consistent thing about me, and it has been going on since 2004.

I can't say that I consider suicide on a daily basis, although, there are those days, too. Every day, at some point, I just...weigh my options. Some days, I simply wonder what effect my death would have on the world (little to none). Other days, I think about what details of my adult existence would need to be taken care of, what affairs put in order, before I could let myself go.

Having ruminated on this for eight years, I think it is safe to say that I am not having a mental health crisis, nor is there a chance of an imminent event of self-release. That being said, I'm very comfortable having these discussions with myself. I see nothing wrong with that, but it's not something I can talk to anyone about. Who would ever feel as comfortable as I do having this discussion?

One of many things I keep to myself.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Any anonymous blogger will tell you that staying anonymous isn't a way of avoiding the truth, but rather it allows a much greater freedom to tell a very full truth. I could never write about myself the way I do if I used the everyday name that people associate with me. For the most part, everyone's names have been changed here, but essentially everything else about them has remained intact in my writing.

There are only four people who know me in person who know that I am the author of this blog. As far as I can tell, only one of them reads it, and only occasionally at that. The fact that anyone reads this blog at all amazes and delights me. My head is a very lonely place, but if anyone wants to take a peek at what's going on in there, it's always nice to have help with the processing.

When I started this blog in 2007, a couple of people found it almost immediately. I was stunned, having expected to blog in virtual solitude indefinitely. This turn of events made me curious about how many people might be taking a look at the Brainucopia, so I installed a hit counter that let me see exactly how many times my blog was accessed. And that was that. For years.

What I didn't know for a very long time was that the hit counter actually collected all sorts of data, both fascinating and inane, about the traffic on my blog. In all honesty, the only statistics I ever take a look at are the one that tells me the general geographic location of readers (and some of you are fibbing in your Blogger profiles about that) and how visitors ended up here. I can see if someone came via a Google search, and if so, what they were looking for. Most likely, it was a picture of Yoda meditating.

I can also see if someone came here directly with no referring link and no Google search. These are the visits that capture my attention because it means coming here was the visitor's intention all along. You there, in Pinellas Park, I thought you lived in Clearwater. And did you know my mom lives in Pinellas Park? You there, in the Sonoran Desert, you always tell me when you've been here, but I would figure it out anyway, except when you use your other modem which puts you a couple of states away.

Here's where my heart catches in my throat and I panic a little: It's when I see that someone who lives in my same city has typed into his or her browser, but I have no idea who that person is.

Have I been found out? Did someone I work with or someone I know find out that May has a blog filled with painful honesty and unflinching observations that may tell unflattering truths about barely-disguised associates? Are they telling other people? The first couple of times this happened, I stopped writing and started obsessing.

It happened again yesterday. Someone from my city visited the blog directly and stayed for some time. Quite some time. This prompted me to look at the boring stats I never think about: device and browser. Who are you, Android user in my city? How did you find me? Why are you here? I hope you don't know me. Did you tell other people? There were 99 page loads on this blog today instead of the usual half-dozen. Someone was doing some reading. Page after page of it. If people who know me--apart from the four who were invited--find out I write this blog, I'll have to shut it down. I can't risk exposure.

That would be a shame for all of the people who want to know my thoughts on subclinical shingles, 45 Mercy Street, The Handmaid's Tale, and pictures of Yoda levitating.

Monday, August 6, 2012

It's times like these

I wish I had someone to talk to. Such a bad day at work. There's so much going on. Frank just goes on and on bitching about his tooth, his job, his upcoming surgery, blah, blah, blah... And I stand alone. There's so much going on and I have no one to talk to. No one to listen.

I didn't go to the gym today. I opted to just go straight home and drink liquor.

Life is complicated and I lack the emotional intelligence to manage it well.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

So, that's weird

The other day after working out, I glanced down at my upper left arm and noticed a cluster of dusky spots under my skin. It gave this little patch of skin a bit of a mottled effect. I rubbed it, and observed there was no texture difference and no pain.

Now, three days later, the spots are darker and slightly raised. They have a texture similar to smooth, flat scabs. The shapes are more defined and more brownish-red than the original purple. There is still no pain, no itching, no irritation, and no different sensation, but it seems that what originally appeared as bruising or bleeding under my skin has made its way to the surface.

I can only conclude that when I worked out, I somehow caused my blood vessels to rupture. This is truly a strange moment.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Reviewing the vacation list

There is only one day left of my vacation. I've enjoyed not going to work. I have slept well for two weeks straight, and that's very insightful in and of itself. Frank said that as soon as I got up this morning, he could see that my whole demeanor had changed and I was obviously struggling with the reality of going back to work on Monday. It's not that I don't like my job; it's more that I'm overwhelmed by everything that goes with it, from the commuting to the politics.

As staycation comes to an end, it's time to review the list of things I had planned to do during this two week period:
  1. Get a manicure.
  2. Get a pedicure.
  3. Change my hair color (best to hire a professional)
  4. Read at least one of the dozens of books residing on my Nook.
  5. Make one piece of jewelry every day. Well, maybe every other day. OK, maybe three or four pieces over the two weeks.
  6. Sew something. A bag. Curtains. Something.
  7. Go to the local art museum.
  8. Keep a food log. Daily. It's only two weeks.
  9. Get my teeth whitened.
  10. Go to one live music or theater performance. Buskers don't count.
  11. Clean the bathroom.
  12. Cook at least once.
  13. Write my will.
  14. Decide once and for all if life is worth the effort and proceed accordingly.
I actually did some things not on the list: I didn't just go to one live music performance, I went to three. I went to the city's botanic gardens. I traveled a bit and made my way to the top of a very high mountain. I got a massage. I joined the gym and went almost every day. I taught some Bhutanese women how to make necklaces. I did some gardening. There was some shopping. I did some reading, but no books--just magazine articles. I took a lot of pictures. I played a lot of Scrabble on my Nook and Words With Friends with my sister-in-law who is in Pennsylvania.

Tomorrow morning, Frank and I are getting up at dawn to go birdwatching at a nearby federal wildlife preserve. After that, I'm going to have a busy day if I'm to finish up the rest of my list, above.

As for number 14, no decision yet but it's looking more and more likely that I don't plan to stay all that long. On the other hand, I still need to pay off $13,000 in debt, and no final decision can be made before the debt is gone.

And that's May's vacation update.

Here are some photos from my two weeks off:

A goldfinch in my back yard. The first ever for us.

jewelry lesson

Water lilies are my favorite thing at the city gardens.

On top of a very high mountain.

I successfully grew a vegetable in my garden.

I call these my Zen earrings. Made during vacation.

A live music performance.

Another live music performance.

And another live music performance.

Spent some time at the gym.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


Last night I had a dream, and in my dream, someone complimented me on my tattoo. In real life, I don't have a tattoo, but I've always wanted one.

Back to my dream: In my dream, I said to the person paying me the compliment, "It's pretty, isn't it?" At that point, I looked over my shoulder and behind me. The tattoo was stunning--vibrant flowers in a cluster at my back upper thigh, tied loosely with a colorful green, pink, and blue ribbon that ran all the way down the back of my leg, ending in a curl at my ankle. It was spectacular.

Mostly I'm amazed that my imagination is that good.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


My hormone transition has begun, and so far, I cry a lot. I suppose that's OK, considering the alternative. This weepy disposition and feelings of sadness are self-directed. I'd rather have it all on me than being full of menopausal rage that is inflicted on everyone else.

I'm not on HRT yet. I'm on Lo LoEstrin, which is a big step down from the Pill I was on until now. I can't imagine what a mess I would be if the estrogen had been cut any more dramatically than what has been prescribed.

I can do sad. I know what that's about and how to live with it. It could kill me, but at least I won't piss anybody off.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A brief, but sweet reminder

Olympian swimmer Missy Franklin reminds me so much of Joanna. It's bittersweet watching her on TV.  Frank just walked by, and an interview with Missy was on the news. His comment: "Man, she really reminds me of Joanna."

So, it's not just me.

I miss Joanna. Lately I miss Jolie, too.

Being on vacation at home for two weeks, alone, has been a stark reminder of how profound my loneliness is.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Gym

Day Before Day 1:
I wash and organize the $300 worth of fitness clothing I purchased so I could work out. All of the fitness wear I already owned was too small, so I needed to start over with size XL. Black knee-length stretchy pants, a pair of sneakers, eight sports bras, and seven feather-light, high-wicking tops. There are not enough black fitness clothes and bras available. I would like to wear only all black when I exercise. It's a statement.

Day 1:
I pull on stretchy black knee-length pants, a robin's-egg blue Moving Comfort bra, and a Nike tank top in the same color as the bra. New white socks. New sneakers. I stand at the entrance to the workout room, a fat girl dressed in sparkling new clothes and pristine white sneakers. I look like an idiot and feel very dorky. It's like the first day of school, but much, much worse.

I spend 30 minutes on the elliptical trainer, the only piece of machinery I know I can manage. Within five minutes, sweat is running down the sides of my face in rivulets. My chest is also drenched. By the end of 30 minutes, it looks like I have gone for a swim. I drag a mat from the pile near the wall and position it on the floor in front of an over-sized oscillating fan. I spend ten minutes doing situps and push ups. I can only do the girly kind of pushups--ten of them. I hear a creaking noise and realize it's me, wheezing.

Day 2:
I make my way into the gym for a morning Power Pump session. I took Body Pump classes years ago, so I assume this is similar if not the same thing. There are six people in the class. I am by far the youngest. I am the only overweight person in the room. Awkward. I lift my weights, do my crunches, and lurch through lunges. So many lunges. I fight the urge to cry, but I am grateful to realize there are no mirrors in the gym. After class, I mop up the floor around my area and walk over to the fitness room for another half-hour session with the elliptical trainer. I perk up when I realize the data screen on the elliptical trainer is also a television, but am quickly reminded that daytime television sucks.

Day 3:
It's upstairs to the Studio for Tai Chi Chih. There are again only a half-dozen participants in the class, and again I'm the only one who is not retired. One 70-something-year-old woman introduces herself and welcomes me to the group. She asks what brings me to the class. I explain that I had wanted to go to Biggest Loser camp in Utah, but it was far too expensive, so I'm spending my vacation at this gym. Everyone laughs, thinking I'm making a joke. The instructor talks a lot. We do a lot of Tai Chi moves named after pulling taffy. It seems cruel to bring up sweets at a time like this.

After Tai Chi, I stick around for Zumba Gold, the class for seniors. I have zero dance ability, no sense of rhythm, and a near-total lack of coordination, so I figure that the class for seniors should be well within my ability. It's not. I find a new appreciation for running in place while baffled.

Day 4:
Back to Power Pump, but the teacher is a sub who lays off the lunges and practically skips the abs part of the workout. I make up for this by heading into a mat Pilates class immediately following the Power Pump class. Pilates and I go way back, but I always forget why I've abandoned it...until I try it again. It's just too much information to process and too many body processes to coordinate all at once.

Since I'm not in much pain after the first two classes, I stick around the studio for something called NIA. The catalog description says it's fun. Before I can even consider that possibility, I'm horrified to realize that we'll be facing the massive wall of floor-to-ceiling mirrors during this class. The instructor says to focus on the mind-body connection. I make it my task to focus on keeping myself positioned behind the instructor so that I cannot see myself in the mirrors.

Halfway through class, my eyes well up with tears and I fight the urge to sob. God, I hate exercise. I'm just so bad at it.

NIA does not live up to its applied adjective of "fun," but it does make me sweat. Everything makes me sweat.

Day 5:
I planned on Core Challenge, but skip it when I remember that I'm supposed to pick up a prescription at the doctor's office. I eventually arrive at the gym, change my clothes, and realize that I've left my sneakers at home. Shoes must be worn in the workout room and while using machines. Shit. I put on my sandals, grab the car keys, and drive home for my shoes and my yoga mat. Once at home, I pet the dog, use the bathroom, grab the shoes, and return to the gym, only to have it dawn on me that I still forgot my yoga mat. Sigh. I attribute the absent-mindedness to all of the exercising. Surely so much chest-heaving heavy breathing has left my brain deprived of oxygen.

I enter the Studio for a Hatha Yoga class. I'm early, so I pass the time doing squats and lunges and then agonizing wall sits. Standing in front of that imposing wall of mirrors, I can barely look at the puddle of fat around my middle. I'm reminded of why, exactly, there are no full-length mirrors in my house.

The instructor arrives along with more skinny, muscular people, except this group is also impressively stretchy. I am a blob. Most poses are beyond me, except for the one where you just lie on the floor on your back not staring at the ceiling because your eyes are supposed to be closed while you focus on breathing, your "practice," and your "intention," whatever that's supposed to mean.

After yoga, I have an appointment with a staff member to introduce me to the equipment in the fitness room. She asks me about my fitness goals. I tell her that my immediate goal is not to cry in public or to crash into anyone during a workout. I explain that my long-term goal is to be skinny. She seems surprised that I have no interest in improving my health. She says, "You only have one body and you have to be good to it."

I explain that I used to be very fit and health-conscious. Without giving much in the way of details, I tell her that despite my clean living, my body went on to reject and betray me no fewer than six different ways. I tell her I am living proof that being good to your body doesn't mean anything. I tell her that now I'm really bitter and my body must be punished and shown that there are consequences for such betrayals.

The trainer thinks I should be doing standup.

Day 6:
I get on the scale. I have gained a half-pound. I go back to bed and stay there until almost noon.

Day 7:
Screw this.

Saturday, July 28, 2012


Yes, it's that time of year when I would normally be posting pictures of the Sonoran Desert or some other place I like to go. But I'm not there. That's right, I really did go with the staycation. For all of my whining, in the end, I really didn't have the energy to go anywhere out of town. It seemed somehow more prudent to gather my thoughts and restore my energy by staying in town.

That being said, this is a lonely, lonely stretch. I'm essentially alone all day, every day. I mean, I go out and I interact, but business transactions don't count. I posted a notice on Facebook inviting local people to let me know if they were up for a lunch or dinner out, or just wanted to get together and do something fun. Cue sound of crickets chirping on a dark summer night.

True to my word and original plan, I have been going to the gym. Of course, before I could start going to the gym, I felt compelled to go out and buy all new workout clothes. Nice ones. Every vacation should start with a wardrobe tune-up specific to the activities planned. It was actually quite a process that left me with these questions:

  • Who works out in low cut stretchy pants? Wouldn't your butt crack show every time you reached up or bent over? These pants are ubiquitous, so somebody must find them appropriate.
  • Is there anything more useless in this world than the shelf bra in a workout top? 
  • Does anyone actually pay $65 for a little synthetic fiber workout top? I like to keep it under $12.
  • Thong workout underwear? Seriously?

I don't get yoga

Yoga has been prescribed or recommended to me by almost every doctor I've seen in the last five years. That might just be them being polite in saying I need to calm the fuck down. I'm perceptive sometimes and I get that.

I hate yoga. I do not understand what it's supposed to be doing for me. It mostly invokes an inner rage I cannot articulate. I am uncoordinated. Very uncoordinated. Never is this more obvious than when I'm attempting to perform yoga poses. Observe, all, the big dork of yoga class.

Sometimes, I fall over.
Sometimes, I burst into tears.
No, I do not understand what part of this is supposed to be calming and soul-centering. Mostly, it just pisses me off.

My conclusion is that yoga is for people who are very skinny, muscular, fit, and have already achieved inner calm. I am the only fat person in the yoga classes I've tried. It's humiliating.

Don't get me wrong--I do try to get through those poses, but the only one I have mastered is the child's pose and the one at the end where you lie on your back pretending to be relaxed. The rest of them leave me sweaty and confused.

Here is what I think about yoga:
  • It's really hard
  • There's nothing relaxing about it
  • It frustrates the hell out of me
  • It's very painful. Every pose is painful somewhere.
  • It's not good for wobbly people with poor balance.
  • It makes me fall over. A lot.
  • It's incredibly slow and boring. Oh. Dear. God. It is so boring. And self-important.
  • It makes my feet hurt
  • All that focus on breathing--seriously? Have these people not heard of the autonomic nervous system? Breathing takes care of itself. When I do all of that focused, butt-expanding deep breathing, I wheeze. It has to be annoying to anyone around me.
  • Yoga leaves me sore and ultimately feeling bad about myself because it highlights my lack of balance and coordination.
  • Yoga induces enough anxiety in me to make me cry while I'm attempting (and failing) to do it
How do people find this relaxing or Zen? It's so awful. It's so difficult. It's so painful. It's so  full of impossible body contortions.

Why in the world was this recommended for me? Is it that my doctors have not-so-secretly hated me and this is their revenge joke?

I think I'll check in when I weigh 105 pounds and have developed solid muscle from normal workouts. Which will be never.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

I'll never understand

Oklahoma City. Gabby Giffords. Norway. Columbine. Virginia Tech. Tuscaloosa just last week. Aurora, Colorado.

I feel so discouraged. I spend every day of my life trying to make lives better, trying to help people see the possibilities of a better life. I try--I really try--to help people who have seen the worst that the world has to offer to reframe and focus on light and love and kindness.

Maybe I am just naive in thinking that love and kindness matter at all.

And don't get me started on the warped interpretations of the Second Amendment that make these events not only possible, but ubiquitous. More than 300,000 people have been killed in the U.S. as the result of gun violence since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, but nobody cares. There is no call to action, and just mentioning anything negative about guns will get the bible-thumping NRA zealots calling you un-American and ready to well, shoot you down. And they win. They always win. I'll bet most of them have never actually read the Second Amendment, and of those who have, they've chosen to be blind to the part about access to guns for the purpose of a well-prepared militia. I don't think the Founding Fathers meant every man and woman should be his and her own personal militia.

Not that we can undo the ubiquitous presence of guns in the U.S. There is no putting that genie back in the bottle.

Instead, those who are angry, impatient, ill, obsessed, insecure, or violent will always have access to that thing they worship. Guns have only one purpose, and that is to perpetuate violence, be it in war, in law enforcement, on the streets, or against nature's animals.

We can't undo the flow of guns, but among the information included in the reports of Thursday's violence was the bit about how the shooter had purchased about 6,000 rounds of ammunition in the last few months. And that was perfectly OK.

This reminded me of something Chris Rock said in his act several years ago. His modest proposal wasn't to eliminate guns, but rather to make them impossibly expensive to use. If you haven't seen this before, take two minutes. It's funny and smart. Even if you have seen it, watch it again.

Personally, I think he's onto something. Not that it matters. The crybabies in the NRA will always find a way to bully and shout down any voice of reason. It's what they do. I wonder if they get a collective hard on every time a mass murderer lets loose with an automatic assault weapon. I'll bet they do. They probably come all over themselves when they think about how it could have been them dominating and eliminating innocent people who weren't angry and insecure enough to be similarly armed. And they revel in knowing it's perfectly legal but, as they see it, maybe still a bit too regulated.

They win. They continue to win, and people like me, who advocate peace, kindness, and a more highly developed sense of human compassion, well, I'm not sure there's a practical place in the world for us anymore.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The biggest barrier

No, this isn't me.
I'm about that size, though
It has been four days since I joined the gym, but I still haven't gone. I fear workout clothes. Yes, I do. More than that, I am avoiding something that my house lacks but is ubiquitous in every gym: full-length mirrors.

The only time I use or dare to even look into a full-length mirror is when I'm trying on clothes in a store dressing room.

Having to even catch a glimpse of myself when I'm exercising is so repugnant to me that it's actually stopping me from going to the gym.

I know this is a mental problem, but I haven't been able to get past it for about 20 years. True.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I need help

I need help, but I couldn't for the life of me, if asked, tell you what I need or what the problem is.

I'm being dogged by a nearly overwhelming sense of dread and anxiety. Not worrying--that would imply something specific. It's more like the feeling that something terrible is happening but I just don't know what it is.

I've been told this is pretty common among women my age and is often a symptom of the onset of menopause. That would actually be great, because that's treatable with hormones and menopause is a process with an end to it.

Eh, I don't know. Maybe I'm just neurotic and too far gone to ever be rewired..

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Exercise in futility

Frank and I joined a gym today. Yesterday, we drove around and visited several fitness facilities close to our house. It started to feel like a parallel-universe version of "House Hunters."

Number 1: 24 Hour Fitness--not even up for consideration. Too crowded and too full of younger people looking for a hook up.

Number 2: Local Parks and Rec center--This one is close to home, affordable, has an outdoor pool, and gives us access to all rec centers in the city, but the hours aren't very good and the room with the machines is small.

Number 3: This is a smallish fitness facility that is about 1.5 miles from our house, but in a different municipality, which means we would pay the out-of-town rate. The place is only four years old, but despite top-of-the line equipment, it always seems to be mostly empty. Oddly, it has a dramatic and sweeping great room lobby that deserves mention on its own merit. There is a pocket branch of the local library in this part of the center. No communal showers. Alas, no pool, no hot tub, and parking is on the next block. Plenty of classes, though. Did I mention granite counter tops, stainless steel accents throughout, and cherry wood cabinetry in the locker rooms? Definitely not our cheapest option.

Number 4: The nearby YMCA  is familiar and Frank gets a discount through work. Lots of classes, it has an indoor pool, plenty of regular folks, but it's also overrun with children, the showers are communal, and the parking lot can be tricky to enter and exit. Certified personal trainers are really inexpensive here, though, and intensive training program package deals are amazing.

Number 5: There's a swanky fitness club on the way home from my work and reasonably close to Frank's office. Lots of beautiful people and the most comprehensive yoga schedule we've ever seen. We're not yoga people, though. It has Reformer Pilates! It also has an outdoor pool (woot!), a juice bar, massage rooms and spa facilities. It's an absolutely gorgeous and serene(!) place, and it costs a fortune.

And the one we chose was...Number 3. It's really like a boutique facility and it's still within our budget. The fact that it has state-of-the art equipment and is usually mostly empty works in our (my) favor. The showers and locker rooms are spa-like. This particular municipality doesn't have much of a residential base, but has a ton of big-box stores and hotels in a single square mile. They have more tax revenue than they know what to do with, so they built--and subsidize--this beautiful facility. I wasn't lying about the granite and cherry, so this is still like House Hunters, even though it really had no bearing on our decision.

So, the next big decision is to actually, you know, go and work out. I friggin' loathe exercise with all the depth and breadth of my being. There's not enough state-of-the-art equipment on the planet to change how I feel about that.

Would it be wrong to work out w/chilled white wine spritzers in my water bottle? It's so refreshing and could make me feel better about exercise.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

And now back to our regularly scheduled program

I seem to be having a coronary artery spasm. It's that angina. That Prinzmetal's thing. I haven't had one of these in a year, since I started medication.

New and improved! Now comes with an instant-onset, splitting headache!

This isn't a bad episode, but damn, it still really hurts. How weird it is that I know what a heart attack feels like although I've never had one.

Let me fill you in: It's incredibly painful and scary as hell.

I can't figure out why I'm having this in the evening. It typically only happens early in the morning. Hmmm.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Bucket list item

Almost as good as when I was on NPR--at length--a couple of years ago. I was quoted in The Atlantic magazine! I was quoted in The Atlantic! MY words are in The Atlantic!

OK, then.

Unfortunately, what I said is incredibly pathetic. True, but pathetic. I used the name May Voirrey, but it looks like their fact-checkers figured out that May only exists here. So, I'm billed as "Anonymous." But it's still me, 100 percent, and goddammit, I made The Atlantic!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

I miss

I miss friends who will spend time with me. Those who can tough it out. Eventually, I wear everyone down.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Making a list, checking it at least twice

Things to do during the two-week break from work at the end of July:
  1. Get a manicure.
  2. Get a pedicure.
  3. Change my hair color (best to hire a professional)
  4. Read at least one of the dozens of books residing on my Nook.
  5. Make one piece of jewelry every day. Well, maybe every other day. OK, maybe three or four pieces over the two weeks.
  6. Sew something. A bag. Curtains. Something.
  7. Go to the local art museum.
  8. Keep a food log. Daily. It's only two weeks.
  9. Get my teeth whitened.
  10. Go to one live music or theater performance. Buskers don't count.
  11. Clean the bathroom.
  12. Cook at least once.
  13. Write my will.
  14. Decide once and for all if life is worth the effort and proceed accordingly.


I've fallen deep inside my head and I can't get out.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

I felt better saying it out loud

Today I stood in front of nine people to explain my part of our group-created vision board. It was for the nonprofit I helped to start five years ago. We were revisiting and articulating our vision on this, our fifth birthday as an organization.

After I had explained most of my contributions to the board, someone in the room asked me to explain a picture of many hands layered one over the other, under which there was a single word: Community. Very matter-of-factly I said, "I don't really have any friends. Not here, anyway, not in my day-to-day life. For the most part, I am not a person that other people choose to spend time with or even will spend time with outside of work situations. I feel very isolated, very lonely--and this is my culture, my country. It doesn't feel good. I imagine that the refugee women we serve must feel even more isolated, so I want our organization to help them build community across cultures and to have friendships that transcend this very specific context where we see them."

This reality of my dysfunctional relationship with the world is something I only share here, on this blog. It's not something I discuss with anyone. This was a first today. I didn't think about what I was going to say before I said it; I just spoke from my heart and spoke the truth. I can't say what anyone else thought at that moment or how they reacted. I imagine that what I said was not a surprise, although my coming out and identifying it openly may have taken those women aback. Or not.

Having explained myself openly and unapologetically, I feel better. I hate the thought that anyone might think I lack self-awareness.

First thought of the day

I woke up this morning with this thought: It doesn't matter that I have money and time for vacation. I just don't want to be on vacation alone--here or anywhere. That just feels so lame.

I researched going to fat camp. Wow. I'm about $7,000 short for that. How can they charge you $8,000 when you barely get to eat, there's no housekeeping service and no coffee? I realize they have trainers for the exercise sessions, but with, say, 20 people per group, I still think their overhead is more than covered. That's a crapload of profit. Anyway, scratch fat camp from my list of possible places to go.

I figure I'll get a mani-pedi, color my hair, get a massage, and go to the art museum. That leaves me another 13 days to pretend I'm having fun.

Grumpy, yes.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Where to go?

Vacation time is coming. Quite some time ago, I decided I didn't want to take any vacation that involved staying as a guest in someone's home. It's what I always do and it makes me feel like a loser mooch and I decided that I just don't want to do that anymore.

This has left me with nowhere to go. My budget is only $1,000 and I hate, hate, hate to drive, so given the high cost of airfare, I'm going to be stuck here at home for two weeks. That fills me with sadness and resentment. It will only reinforce how lonely I am and how little worth I have in the world.

Let me be clear: I do not "go camping," so that really limits the definition of cheap vacation. I need a clean, safe room, really good, modern plumbing that doesn't require a hike in the night, and relative relaxation. I also will be alone because Frank refuses to take a vacation. His idea of an awesome vacation is to spend all day, every day working on the house. This is not fulfilling for me on any level, not when my vacations are forced and unpaid, and I have no choice of when to take them. (My workplace shuts down for two weeks every summer to save money).

It's kind of sad if you do the research and see that $1,000--which feels like a lot of money to me--gets you essentially nothing. Maybe a mediocre, budget weekend in a Midwest city. Who the hell wants to take a "vacation" in Chicago or Kansas City in late July?

I feel like I've been emotionally withering for quite some time, and frankly, I'm so thoroughly consumed by boredom on every level, I was probably putting far too much thought into how my vacation was going to revive me or help me feel better.

Who was I kidding? My vacation is going to consist of cleaning the house and wedging my way in between the local inner-city kids cramming themselves into the municipal pool. Even if I had $5,000and somewhere to go, I would still be doing it alone.

My despair right now isn't about money. It's about being far, far, far too alone. Vacations always remind me of how solitary I really am.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Updates from my head

My mom is OK. She was out of town when the terrible storms hit St. Petersburg this week. Her house is OK. I find it odd, though, to say the Hurricane got hit by a tornado.

That reminds me that I love Pass-a-Grille.

I'm in a pensive mood.There's a lot processing within the Brainucopia. More on that later. It's late and I need to go to bed.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


I have skin fungus again on the front of my neck and collar bone and under my eyes. It's gross. Easily curable, but nasty all the same. You can't really see it, thank goodness, but it creeps me out knowing it's there.

This happens when it's hot and I sweat a lot, but only if my immune system is not functioning well. That's what really worries me. Am I on a path to get walloped with something major? Hope not.

Monday, June 18, 2012

release valve

I find that if I use Twitter as a way to blurt out all of the things floating around my brain, I don't need to write very much. The thoughts don't get a chance to grow and develop, so there's less chance for rumination. I also consider Twitter's 140-character limit to be a worthwhile exercise in discipline and focus that can only benefit me.

I Tweet, therefore I don't blog so much. It's like a pressure relief valve.

And people actually follow me on Twitter, which I find as mind boggling as I find it puzzling.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Mood Vampires

I'm pretty sure that some type of vampires broke into my bedroom and sucked all of the serotonin out of my body last night. Whoever it was, I hope they're happy now.

It started with a dream. In my dream, I had a call from Joanna. Her voice, her warm, sweet, soothing voice almost caused a lump of emotion to rise in my throat.

And then, we were together, getting into a car and going to a restaurant. Joanna explained she had been busy, so busy, with the international toxic exposures working group, that it was nice to have some time for something different. She laughed.

I felt awkward, wondering how she could just reappear like this with no explanation. I broached the question, "Why didn't you answer my messages, my calls, or my letters?"

Joanna pressed her fingers to her lips, eyebrows raised, and shook her head with a mischievous smile. The topic, it seemed was off-limits and I wasn't going to get an answer. The dream ended with Joanna driving me back to my hotel, and then saying she needed to get something from the car, but instead of coming back, she drove away.

I woke up consumed by profound sadness. The alarm sounded, and I sat on the edge of the bed, blinking and just looking at my feet dangling over the side of the mattress. I made my way to the bathroom, not bothering to acknowledge Frank sitting at his computer. I took off my glasses and set them on the edge of the sink. I don't know why, but I just stared at them sitting there.

After my shower and breakfast, I told Frank that I felt incredibly sad. He told me to stop drinking so much wine at night. He felt that two glasses was one too many. I thought, "Drinking wine doesn't make me sad. I drink it because I feel sad."

I got in the car to drive to work, but just sat there, shoulders slumped, head down, keys in hand, unable to start the car. I was overwhelmed by the thought of putting in the effort  it would take to drive six miles through the city. I felt like I had lost my best friend. Again. Eventually, I took a breath and backed out of the driveway. A half-mile from home, tears started to well up in my eyes. Within seconds, I was sobbing.

I cried, hard, the whole way into downtown. I pulled into a parking space in the garage, and continued to cry. After taking a few deep breaths, I grabbed some Kleenex and mopped up my face, grateful for my over-sized, very dark sunglasses. The feeling of grief stayed with me all day.

I am mourning this loss as if it were new, and not something that has been evident for two years now. Why? Why did this particular sadness come back? What went wrong in the first place?

Actually, I know the answer to that second question. It was my neurosis, my need to talk, to be heard--my neediness, in general, I suppose. Isn't that always what goes wrong? Nobody wants to call me, spend time with me, talk to me. I talk too much, I don't always get the point, and even when I'm bubbly, I think people must know I'm wracked with anxiety and self-doubt. I am a person that other people like in theory, but not in large or sustained doses. There's a reason I'm the one who always has to do all of the reaching out, calling, contacting... I do get it; I just don't like it.

And so, I mourn Joanna. I mourn my loneliness and the fact that I am, essentially friendless. I have virtual friends--those 89 people on Facebook who wouldn't even blink if I dropped dead tomorrow because, truth be told, my being or not being does not get factored into anyone's day. It doesn't matter if I'm funny, or stupid, or clever, or insightful, or interesting, or sensitive, or a source of factoids, or anything. Would anyone miss me or even notice? No. The answer has always been no. I've worked so hard to be a better person, to do all of those things Dear Abby says you need to do to be popular and to have friends. Abby, it just hasn't worked in my case. I've tried, really, I have. Nobody wants to connect with me. I have social cooties. And now, now I'm sad, and that's as bad as giving off a very unpleasant, toxic odor. Dammit, May, take a pill for that, would ya?

Joanna hung in there for a really, really long time. I miss having that kind of friendship where I never had to be self-conscious or worry that I was a nuisance or just only being tolerated as a polite gesture. I miss her calls and her visits. I'll never know what the breaking point was, what I did that made her call it quits. I only know that I regret whatever it was and I miss her friendship terribly.

Monday, June 11, 2012

I love this

Nothing more to say, except I absolutely love this. I can't wait to see what else PBS Digital is working on. What have you grown in the garden of your mind?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Neither trash nor treasure, just practical

Last summer, I bought a pair of nightstands at my neighbor's yard sale. When I posted about it on Facebook, a couple of friends got into a discussion about how I was buying junk and this is a hoarding behavior. They wouldn't let it go. I was offended--really offended. Every room of my home has something in it that came from a yard sale or was trash-picked.

This does not make me a hoarder. My house is cozy and cute, and not particularly cluttered. I just hate to see nice things go to a landfill only because no one has the vision to see how a little care and attention could bring something back to life. Frank and I both do a very good job of fixing and rehabbing items that aren't trash at all--just treasures waiting to be revealed.

The day I bought them last summer, I cleaned up the nightstands and gave them a coat of primer before storing them in the garage for later rehabbing. In the meantime, I needed to find new hardware that was suitable for these pieces. I wanted something colorful with a vintage look. Anthropologie had exactly what I wanted, but the drawer pulls were outrageously expensive (hey, it's Anthropologie).

Time passed. The nightstands gathered dust in the garage, and winter set in. Then, Anthropologie had a big sale. The hardware went on sale at 70 percent off. I bought the drawer pulls.

This weekend, the weather was perfect for painting, so Frank pulled out all of the half-full cans of paint we had on hand. My original color choice, a sort of Southwest palette of muted yellow and dusty brick red, didn't work out. The paint had gone bad in the cans, so we rummaged some more and came up with a different color combination that would work.

Here are the before and after pictures. Fuck those people who think that buying old things at a yard sales means you're a hoarder. They lack creativity, and honestly, that's sort of sad.

The nightstands the day I bought them: Solid, well-built, and waiting for rehab.

Here they are after, painted and with new ceramic and brass hardware.