Christmas Plans

The day has been grey, and as I sit here at my laptop I can only be thankful to be indoors. The combination snow and rain is making my bones chill, even though my heat is on full blast and my cats are warmly tucked at my feet and behind my back as I type.┬áIt officially feels like winter now, as I can watch the sun sink a little earlier in the day. It’s only 4pm and nearly dark out, accompanied by clouds looking stern and cold through the water droplets on my window pane.

My husband and I set up our Christmas Trees last weekend. This year we set out only 3 instead of 4. Our little 3 ft white tree in the living room, our 2 ft frocked tree in the bedroom, and a 3 ft metal frame “tree” my husband keeps in the basement with the rest of his nerd ornaments. This year we have no travel plans and no required places to be. We’ve not committed to anything at all.

I’m actually looking forward to Christmas this year.

As I’ve posted in the past, I do not often like Christmas. I dislike the commercialism, even though I do enjoy shopping to a fault. I struggle between wanting things and wishing I didn’t want things, as I think most people my age do. We’re raised by TV and Internet to be consumers and then we we are adults, we realize we cannot afford to consume as much as we want, and more than half the time, we can’t even afford what we need. So while I love shopping, I shouldn’t, and while I would love to give Christmas Gifts to people I love, I usually can’t.

One of the remedies I have discussed in past posts has been to alternate Christmas gift giving between making handmade gifts, and giving gifts that support greater causes like Charities or a small family-owned business. By doing this, I find either I give something a little more thoughtful and custom made, or I’m giving a gift that gives back in some way or another. That way my family gets gifts, and my gift giving feels more meaningful than just buying the lasted gadget at a large corporation that doesn’t do that much for it’s community or the charities it claims to support. Plus, I leave with less buyers remorse than usual.

A few of the Charities I’ve given to and supported this year I posted in a previous blog post and have been supporting for a while either with my money or my time (or both).

Another reason I’ve been enjoying Christmas more this year, is because I’m doing more to celebrate. My husband and I are starting to formulate and investigate Christmas traditions, which we hadn’t done last year because we were only celebrating our first Christmas and didn’t quite know what the other thought about the holiday, much less what we thought about traditions. One of the traditions we decided on, that also works as a personal goal, is that we’ve decided to attend every Advent sermon at church this Advent season to help us reflect on not only the positivity we should feel for the season, but also the greatest Gift of all…The birth of Jesus Christ.

Another tradition my husband and I are starting this year, is we’re throwing a small Krampus celebration, where we have invited friends over on Dec. 5th (Krampusnacht) to watch the Dark Comedy Film based on the old lore of Krampus, the Christmas Demon. Apparently an old European tale of a demon who took care of the naughty children in a way that St. Nick didn’t (usually kidnapping and eating them). A little dark and ridiculous, but all the same a fun little something that we can look forward to every year.

What are your holiday plans? What traditions do you celebrate in the winter months?

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A Confession: Failing

I was supposed to be a friend’s plus one at a wedding this evening. “Supposed to be” being the key term. Tonight, during a bought of freezing rain, my car slid a little and threw me into a panic attack induced by a car accident I had a few months ago, where my husband and I hydroplaned into a cement divider on the interstate going 70 mph. I was driving at the time and totaled the car.

The panic attack I had this evening forced me to pull into a parking lot to calm down, and when I did, I had to call my friend and tell her I was struggling to make it the 45 min drive to her place, and told her I had to flake out on her. She understood and told me to go home and stay safe.

I was really disappointed when I got home. Disappointed at how much the anxiety from my car accident made me fearful and prevented me from living my life. Before the accident I didn’t have issues with minor things like sliding. I knew how to control slide. I was able to push through them. I wasn’t paralyzed by them. But since the accident, I’m afraid to even drive in rain during the summers.

So I flake out on my friends and fail myself and them. I wish I knew how to get over it. How to not be afraid.

Diabetes Awareness Month…is a joke.

So November has been diabetes awareness month, and I have to say I haven’t done much posting about it. Why? Because I fucking hate it.

I don’t want to be a diabetic. I hate this disease. I hate being obsessed with food and with counting carbs and needles and all the complications of everyday diabetic life.

I don’t want to make people aware of my disease…I want my disease gone. I want it eradicated like polio and small pox. I want it destroyed.

The problem is, I don’t think there will be a cure in my lifetime. Why? Because insulin is the sixth most expensive liquid in the world. The fifth most expensive is Chanel perfume. If that doesn’t tell you the priorities of common man, then I don’t know what does. Big Pharma makes money off my plight, and I for one am sick and tired of being sick and tired.

There. That’s the awareness I’m spreading. That diabetes awareness only educates people more on how to care for diabetics…care for….not cure. While I appreciate people being aware that I have a disease that causes me to need special attention…what I really would appreciate is a cure and making people aware of how much that probably isn’t going to happen.

Still I hope for it in my lifetime. Not for my sake, but the sake of so many others like me.

End rant.

Panic

As I sat in the waiting room, I suddenly realized that I was the youngest person in the whole room, between the usual patients, some of whom I recognized from the same waitingroom several months prior. We must all be on similar schedule routines.

The scent of musk perfume was overwhelming as more patients entered the small room, which I suspected was once some kind of hospital room now converted. Probably the kind that had 2 patient beds and a curtain between them. The room felt smaller as walkers and wheelchairs piled in with their owners. An elderly gentleman and his wife sat near me, and while they were friendly and made small talk with me, I began to feel a slight sense of panic. The room was filling up, and I began to be uncomfortable in my own skin, suddenly realizing how many of the people there were probably on their last legs with the same disease I had.

I pushed it down. I had no reason to panic. There was plenty of space to walk and move. I wasn’t going to die from diabetic complications. That’s why I was here. To do everything I could to prevent that issue. Besides, people, especially the elderly, are nothing to be afraid of. This social anxiety thing had to stop. I swallowed hard and sighed. Breathing my way through it all.

Thankfully, moments later a nurse came in, and realizing how many people were in the room moved me into another room where I could comfortably take off my insulin pump and fill out paperwork. “This should do just fine until I can get you an exam room.” I looked around. The room I was in now had a table with chairs around it and an examination table in the corner, and I wondered why this room was never utilized as a typical exam room since it was already set for it.

I was glad for the moment to gather my head before seeing the doctor.

The doctor was positive about my progress. My organs were behaving normally. My A1C was high, 9.4, but was positively lower than my last one. I was exercising every day at least a half hour to an hour and while I had gained weight, she seemed positive about me losing it once I got my A1C down and ate more low carb.

For once in my life, I left the doctor feeling like I could actually make even more progress. My goal was to get my A1C down to a 7 in 6 months. I could do that. I knew I could do that. I just had to eat lower carb meals and exercise like I was. All manageable.

I’m going to do it.

I Voted

“My husband told me he doesn’t want me to get a job because we’ll lose our state health insurance.”

She poured out the sorrowful story I had once known all too well. People having to work a broken system to stay alive. In her case it was behavioral medications she and her family needed, with several members on the spectrum, and herself with severe mood disorders. All of them with suicidal tendencies, and the youngest of them 9 years-old.

It’s days like that that I feel so deeply we should have socialized healthcare, being chronically ill myself and knowing so many others who also are in situations like his, where woman can’t contribute to her own home an society by remaining unemployed to keep their public healthcare. It just breaks my heart.

I wouldn’t mind helping others stay alive and healthy given the opportunity. I pay for sidewalks I’ve never walked on, and parks I’ve never visited with my tax dollars, how much more important is the person who HAS walked on those sidewalks and visited those parks, clearly we give enough to help them enjoy those perks of our tax dollars, so why not help keep them alive and healthy?

It’s all I could think of when I voted yesterday.

While some have reason why they’d rather not have socialized healthcare, my heart only broke as I recalled listening to my friend talk on her situation. I too know that fear. I too hated the idea of having to abuse a system to stay medicated and alive with insulin costs only on the rise. I too was tired of paying high copays and deductibles, having more than half my paycheck going to keep me alive and very little else. I recall giving up food, internet, showers, and heat at different points in my life as I lived alone, just to make sure I could get my insulin. How much better would it have been if I could get more help and have reasonable payments on insulin? That would be nice.

Alas, while only time will tell, there is so much resistance to fight.

Therapy

“My first therapy appointment is Nov. 6th.”

“I’m so proud of you!”

I was too. I was so proud of her for finally taking a step towards dealing with her issues and setting goals. It was about time she started seeking more professional help in her situations, instead of coming to me for advice all the time.

My thoughts turned to myself then, and wondering why I don’t just buck up and go? I’ve been wanting to for a long time, and since getting married and navigating my relationship, I began feeling the depression worsen slightly, but not enough to alarm me.

Overall, my real issue is I’m too depressed to go.

Building another professional relationship with a therapist feels overwhelming. Becoming a better person takes a lot of time and investment, and I’ve invested a lot of my time in other things, like my friendships, hobbies, and work. You know, those things every human needs to survive and feel functional.

Most days I hardly feel functional at all, but that doesn’t mean I don’t look it.

I find any free time I do have is spent wishing for other things. I used to be such a content person, but since getting married I find I spend more time wishing things in my life could be different. Wishing that I had better things, prettier things, better health, better home, better everything. I’ve spent most days having the “I wants” instead of focusing on the “I needs” in my life. Really, I’d rather put my money to retailer than to my own health, because I’m sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, and the fewer specialists I have to see, the better. I’d rather have my money go to things I want instead of my needs. Thus, I retail therapy. A lot.

I feel terribly guilty after making purchases though, which makes me wonder why I enjoy buying things so much. Heaven knows how it got his way. The things I buy don’t make me a better person. They don’t make me feel better. They don’t really do much for me when it comes to self gratification.

Still the cycle continues, and I wonder why I don’t just do the right thing and go to therapy?

Because, I guess I really don’t want to.

Nostalgic for Another Age

The Lady in Gold by Anne Marie O’Connor holds my thoughts a lot lately as I’ve been reading it. In a time where wealth, elitism, and a hostile environment towards modernism in art and Jewish culture become a chaotic romantic period all its own. I continually think about what it must have been like to be part of high society. To live with papers writing about you and to see painters display portraits of yourself commissioned and hung on gallery walls. To live during a time of revolution and oppression all at once.

I often think about the way things were then. About what being a young woman in society looked like. The oppression of the feminine sexuality in the brink of its liberation. A time when social standing could be both a blessing and a curse to the private and social life depending on the pastime you chose as a lady. The more I read about it, the more I find myself wishing to ah e lived it. To be part of the golden revolution of sexuality and modernism. To go to fashionable parties and meet the artists of the time, talk to hem about their artistry, to speak on political climates and to spend time bejeweled in gowns at operas with friends.

Most days I wish I was born in another era.

What I both love and loath about the time is he way men treated women. Male callers would respectfully call on you and show you a good time, but to be seen as anything but virtuous while out with the male caller would mean the complete destruction of your eligibility were things not to work out. If you were less fortunate, you’re marriages would be arranged, with wealthy older men who probably had mistresses and STDs. Still, the glamor of the wealthy lifestyle would have been nice. To own palaces and fine jewelry. To attend social events regularly at salons to exchange new and exciting ideas. To get dressed to the aces and go out dancing as a single debutante. The thrill of being chased after, and the thrill of knowing you had a chance against all chances to sense the changing tide of female liberation.

Of course, the book I’m reading takes placed during both WWI and WWII. With political anxiety at its height threatening the liberation you so desperately were seeking and the research of Freud was so nearly honoring, only to be swept under the rug of war along with racism. What a trying, terrifying, and anxious time it would be to live in, if we are being realistic. Not something to envy.

Still, I romanticize the idea of living high society life in those days at its glamorous height. I envision myself much like the rebellious women of the time. Sensually dressed in the latest forbidden fashions. Frequenting salons to talk on the artistic and political climate (which only means talking about men, which I would be a considerable advocate of being young, single, and allowed my forgivable ignorance). Sipping champagne and tea on hot afternoons in galleries, alone and mysterious…and stubbornly unchaperoned. Loudly fighting for women’s suffrage and rights at the turn of the century.

Yes, I’ve been daydreaming about it a lot. Wondering why such things no longer take place? Though, to be realistic once again, such lifestyles require not just wealth, but elitism, something most Americans, myself included, would cringe at. That is the unfortunate issue with fantasies like this…they have so many negatives about them that at the end of the day you wonder how good could anyone in high society, then or now, really have it? Still, the shallow part of me wishes being able to dress up and go to respectable house parties Gatsby style wouldn’t be too bad if one could avoid the drama and times were fairly peaceful.

Cluttered Brain

As I stared at the papers strewn on my desk, carelessly threatening to thrust themselves violently to the office floor, I began to realize how bad I was getting again. Lost in my own sad thoughts as I felt the coffee go cold in my hands, I listened to the hum of quiet voices. My manager, and one of our newest IT employees attempting to figure out why I had been constantly kicked out of the server over the last year and a half with no solid connection.

Their language was their own as my thoughts were mine.

The depression had worsened again, and I hadn’t realized the true nature of the beast until I observed my spaces. My desk was more untidy than it had ever been, strewn with printouts of projects long since over, pens found homelessness in the wide open of that rough and cluttered cityscape of papers, or found themselves makeshift homes between curls of white. They seemed oddly arranged, as if you could follow the trail of my indecision and anxiety. Each pen had been lost between thoughts and revisions, and in my unfocused stupor, replaced only to be displaced. My own basket stood empty, naked, and ironic amidst the battlefield of fallen soldiers. A lonely survivor of a brainstorm gone wrong and wild.

Wrong and wild. Like all my thoughts and actions had become.

When I arrived home and collapsed into bed, I noticed a similar scene on my dresser. Copious amounts of makeup was strewn across the black surface of my dresser. Vitamin and pill bottles accompanied it. All stood motionless and telling. The story of a young woman, struggling to wake up in the mornings, take her pills and vitamins, and look presentable at work with only five minutes left to spare. Eye shadows and glitters piled and overlapped like bodies in trenches after a melee between my face and my brain. Diet pills littered between the brushes told the rest of the tale. The war was tiresome between my perception of self and societies perception of beauty. It was never ending. Hopeless.

Never enough.

The clutter was only the physical sign of my depression. The sleepless nights and tired days were more of a silent and unseen / unnoticed battle. I would often lay awake watching my husband sleep and wonder if he would even care or notice if I went into another room for the rest of the night and tried harder to rest without distraction.

If only my brain wouldn’t betray me.

Vacation: Good Afternoon

The bookstore was located in a cabin just on the edge of a lovely little creek. Each space was full of shelves and specially selected literature for its genre. The soundtrack of “Le Miserables” was playing and between my husband and I, ten books were purchased in the lovely place and as we walked out amidst the trees and bustle of the road, we felt like we had accomplished our duty to the community having played patron to the local bookstore.

The galleries up the road were beautiful. One displayed a textile exhibit of avant-garde abstracted pieces. Another had unique tiles and ceramic art. Another was beautifully handcrafted furniture and lamps, made in a modernized mission style. There were expensively handcrafted jewelry stores and my favorite, besides the bookstore, a tea tasting room and shop, where I gladly spent over $50 dollars on several black and herbal teas. All these things appealed to my artistic eye and lifestyle, but alas, while beautiful, were expensive.

When we arrived back home, my mother and I decided to take a nap in the king size bed before dinner. Speaking dreamily of buying a home in the area if we could as we drifted off to sleep. Though realistically we knew that my aunt had spent a fortune having purchased the two cottages she now owned in the community. There wasn’t a home less than $500,000 in the area. I can’t even imagine the taxes on these waterside properties. But still, we could drift off to sleep and dream of that kind of wealth and be thankful that we have family willing to share their spaces with us.

While we slept my brothers jumped into the freezing cold bay in nothing but swim shorts. My mother and I swallow to them yelling in painfully frozen confusion and jumping into hot showers. We laughed at their antics and curled up even tighter under the warm covers. My husband in his tall lanky glory, draped himself over me adding even more warmth to my already warm state, and I was glad to know my brothers had not pulled him into their antics while I had slept. I snuggled sandwiched between him and my mother, warmly nested and content.

Vacation: Good Morning

Lack of coffee. There were two coffee makers and no coffee, and since my triumphant return to coffee drinking after a hiatus with a heart condition scare, I desperately needed coffee. I laid on the couch like a petty child, begging my family to find us coffee somewhere near by. The nearest grocery store was 20 minutes away, and we were warned that it was expensive. Very expensive. I didn’t care. It was a necessity that had been overlooked.

My brain was working overtime trying to process the trip. I was sleep deprived, and over stimulated from the long day and night before. At work, we had a new manager starting for our department, but being an introvert it felt like I was hung over after the first hour of meeting him. There was the welcome lunch which was overwhelming because my supervisor is a hand, eye, and ear full. Then there was the debriefing on the projects I had unfinished, why they were held up, and where they were located on the server, then my day was over and we drove in darkness and rain to our vacation destination.

The trip took 8 hours, 4 close calls with deer, and one wild wolf sighting. We finally arrived at 2:30 am central time in complete darkness. We unloaded our copious amounts of gluten free food and suit cases full of clothing….and medical supplies, which between my mother and I was also extensive with mutual and additional autoimmune issues.

We went to bed in darkness, and woke up to beautiful fall clouds over a bay less than 100 ft from the house, trees surrounding us, and a brisk fall breeze to set the picturesque mood. It was beautiful, and our vacation felt like it could finally start.