In the raw

The past couple days have been rough for me. And I think I’ve figured out why I’m feeling so sad and raw the past couple days. I’m adding it all up:
  • A brief experience in bed where I awoke thinking I was touching a person and it ended up being one of the dogs and how disappointed that made me
  • A dream in which I was symbolically separated from a man I want in my life (even if he doesn’t want to be connected with me)
  • My envy of a TV character and her relationship with her husband (Allison and Joe on Medium)
I’m missing the feeling of partnership and having someone to “catch my back.” I’m under a lot of pressure at work and have no one at home to whom I can vent or turn to for help. There’s just me. Me and the dogs, who can share some physical comfort but rely on me for care, so aren’t really a help at all.
So, essentially I’m lonely. And I wonder: over time, does it get easier to be alone? Does one get to really relish the quiet nights, the weekend days perennially open until and unless I decide to take on a commitment for myself?
I spent last night working late and then speaking to a friend as I tried to process through my feelings. I kept feeling like I wanted to cry, so I would give myself permission to do so, but the tears wouldn’t come.
It wasn’t until today that they finally did, which wasn’t ideal since I had to go into the office today. At certain points during the day, I’d start to tear up and would go off to the restroom to cry. I did this a few times until I finally got through most of my meetings and was able to leave early. I knew I could finish the rest of my meetings from home and desperately needed to lay down for a bit first.
Maybe it was the klonopin I finally took in the afternoon that made me feel so tired, or maybe it was the crying, or maybe it was just the interrupted sleep last night. (Hannah dog hates the rain and thunderstorms and refused to go outside before bed, so of course she needed to go out at about 1:30 AM when all had finally been calm for several hours.)
I got home and took a short nap and then finished my calls. And I cried some more. Then I opened When Things Fall Apart (which I think of as my “buddhist book” now) and went back to scan the chapter called Six Kinds of Lonlieness.
Usually we regard lonlieness as an enemy. Heartache is not something we choose to invite in. It’s restless and pregnant and hot with the desire to escape and find something or someone to keep us company. When we can rest in the middle, we can begin to have a nonthreatening relationship with loneliness, a relaxing and cooling loneliness that completely turns our usual fearful patterns upside down.
After reading through the chapter again, I started to feel more calm and centered. I welcomed in the cool loneliness and tried to relax with it.
But still, I realize that I want a partner. Someone who values me for more than just my work ethic and ability to get things done, as they do at work. Someone who gives me comfort and touches me. Someone who makes love to me in the real sense of what that means: tenderly, passionately, and with deep feeling.
So for now I’ll sit my my cool lonlieness and my desire. I don’t think they’re in conflict, but they are both equally new and raw and soft.

Back to normal?

Except for an occasional cough and bit of wheeziness, it appears that the bronchitis is finally gone, as is the pityriasis rosea. Fingers crossed!

I’ve been keeping away from the gym because of these two problems that make getting out of breath and really sweaty a bad idea. But now that they’re gone, well, unless I want to backslide into poor shape again getting back to the gym is important.

Last Wednesday I went to work out with the trainer. There was a mix up, though, and the trainer wasn’t yet back from his vacation. So I worked out for 30 minutes on the elliptical and then went back to work more at home.

While he’s been out of town, I was supposed to follow a plan my trainer carefully put together for me that invovled 30 minutes of cardio and then some toning stuff to do for upper body, lower body, and core (although not all in one session). Of course I haven’t done any of them because of the bronchitis and the rash.

Today I decided to follow one of the routines and dutifully went to the gym where I did my 30 minutes of cardio on the elliptical then decided to just do the core routine. On the first attempt I made to use one piece of equipment [I can’t recall what this thing is called, but its just a support type thing where you do all sorts of core things like lower back, obliques, etc.] it was occupied, so I went to do some other core training stuff on the list. When I came back to the equipment, it was free so I started in on my routine.

This is where the real weirdness happened. [Folks who follow me on Twitter or Facebook will be glad to finally found out what I meant by that tweet about seeing weird stuff at the gym…I’m speaking to YOU Betsy. ;-)] I was on this whatchamacallit doing up-down-side-twist thingies (again, hard to explain, but a *really* good workout for the obliques, glutes, and outer thigh) when I notice about 3 guys standing in the corner about 10 feet away from me. One of them has his shorts pulled down and is in his tiny briefs showing himself to the two other guys.

I don’t know exactly what this guy was trying to show, but it involved a certain amount of gesticulating around his groin area. And it took them a good 5 minutes or so to finish this display. All the while, I’m doing my routine just a few feet away.

Once I had figured out what has going on there (“Yes your brain has intrepreted that correctly. There is a man standing in the gym in his undies with his shorts around his ankles.”) I kept my eyes averted and just tried to be sort of non-chalant. But WTF? What could he have possibly been showing these other 2 guys?

The “displayer” was quite buff, so I guess he was trying to give advice to the others about how to get good muscle definition in a certain area. But still, dude, take it to the locker room! 

Yeah, the guy was muscular and not unattractive, but this was a big turn off for me. Which was actually a good thing, ’cause I’ve been “running hot” the past few days and need a little cooling down so I can be more functional.

Maybe I’ve been reading too much Penelope Trunk these days, but I’m gonna just give fair warning that after all I’ve been through lately, I’m inclined to just write about all sorts of stuff that I never would have done in the past.

When I started blogging years ago, it was just to share my gardening and my knitting. Then I started writing about my chickens, too. So this has always been a pretty tame blog. But lately I’ve had a hard time resisting the urge to get much more explicit about stuff that occupies my mind.

I know some people have more than one blog so they can keep separate their thoughts about different subjects or aspects of their life, but I’m just not inclined do to that. It seems too much work to me.

So, fair warning to those who are more faint at heart: I’m giving myself free rein here from now on.


When you read this, you’ll realize why I couldn’t even think about it until today, much less record it.

6:00 – 7:30 AM — Get out of bed; head outside with dogs to open coop and feed/water chickens; shower and dress; feed dogs; pack lunch and afternoon snack; make coffee and eat some breakfast.

7:30 – 8:00 AM — Conference call with India team reviewing work done in past 24 hours, and assigning priorities for next 24 hours.

8:12 AM — Walk to train.

8:30 – 9:15 AM — Commuting to office on the train while on a conference call about resourses/staffing in India.

9:15 – 10:00 AM — Catching up on email and fielding IMs.

10:00 – 10:30 AM — Conference call about status of an open project; have to juggle the deadline due to higher priority, “all-consuming project.”

10:30 – 12:30 PM — Catching up on email and fielding IMs; meeting with a local team member to provide feedback on her deliverable; working on deliverables to send to India; heating up and eating lunch.

12:30 – 1:00 PM — Conference call discussing several open projects; multi-task by continuing to work on deliverables.

1:00 – 2:00 PM — Continue to work on deliverables and review the re-work of local team member.

2:00 – 3:00 PM — Project status checkpoint meeting. Continue to work on deliverables while meeting going on.

3:00 – 4:00 PM — Review/assign work to local team members, making sure all is clear and accountability/timelines established.

4:00 – 5:15 PM — Continue to work on deliverables, emails, IMs and field questions from local team members.

5:15 – 6:15 PM — Catch train home and use the downtime to do a bit of knitting; let dogs out in yard; set up laptop and get on the phone with my boss to review status of “all-consuming project.”

6:15 – 8:08 PM — Discuss deliverables, resources, record feedback for priority setting with India, and troubleshoot problems with boss; mix up a double martini as we talk since I *really* need it; feed dogs; eat some peanuts as I drink.

8:15 – 9:30 PM — Change out of work clothes; shut up chickens for the night and collect eggs (a 4 egg day! woot!); fix some dinner (bagged salad and homemade salmon patties from the freezer); sit down at laptop to eat and write up notes; take a bit of extra time away from laptop screen to watch 30 Rock (funny!), but otherwise just leave TV on as background noise.

9:30 – 10:30 PM — Decide have done enough work for the day and stop; wash dishes and clean up kitchen; knit for about 20 minutes as I decompress in front of TV and listen/watch local news; go to bed.

10:45 PM — Thunderstorms start outside; Hannah dog begins quivering/quaking, shaking the bed as I fall off to sleep, exhausted.

If I wrote one of these up every day, it could certainly help me with my time report…

Earth day’s end

Another long day today, and I didn’t even have time to fit in a nap. But it’s Earth Day and the weather cooperated wonderfully.

A sunny blue sky with fluffy white clouds to admire. Warmish temps: not too hot, not too cold. It was a perfect time to bring out the bicycle for my errands today. And riding your bike around town to run errands is just what one should do on Earth Day, too.

When I finally escaped from my home office this afternoon for a gym appointment, I got there on my bike. Later, I treated myself to a facial (it’s been way too long…over a year!), and I rode by bike to the salon.

In between I found a bit of time to collect eggs, feed the hens a treat (some bread ends, limp mustard greens, and past their prime grapes), and check out the garden.

Arugula and lettuce are coming along nicely and it’s nearly time to sow another row of each.  Asparagus is also coming up and I’m contemplating cutting a few spears already. I may have to replace a couple crowns, but only time will tell.

My big excitement today, though, is that the peas are definitely sprouting. I saw just the barest tips peeking through the soil, but now that they have tasted sunlight, they will be sure to grow more rapidly. I was starting to worry that I’d need to get some new pea seeds and re-sow them.

The sun is fading now, but I took time to enjoy this wonderful day despite the demands of work and such. Tomorrow promises to be another fine day, too.

Good things and impermanence

Today is a day of good things so far!

First, I got to enjoy an evening out with Betsy last night at The Matchbox. We went straight from work and got the good seats near the front door where all the regulars congregate. About 3 hours and 3 margaritas later, we had to head out ’cause I was hungry and Betsy was at her limit as a driver. And even though I hadn’t been primped to go out last night and had no makeup on, I got asked for my phone number. I had to politely decline as the guy wasn’t really the type I want to date, but it was flattering nonetheless.

My original plans for last night (before Betsy called me up at the office and proposed an impromptu outing) were to do a bit of shopping. I had some stuff to return and wanted to check out the jeans at Old Navy. Annette had recommended a particular kind, and I really need to get some smaller jeans. Since I went out last night, though, I had to run the errands this AM instead.

I did not like the jeans at Old Navy, though. I don’t think they fit me very well and I didn’t want to buy something that I wasn’t liking very much. So, instead I drove a bit further to Kohls and hit the jackpot: Levi’s Curvy Boot Cut 529s.

These are the PERFECT jeans for me. I was able to find 2 pairs in my size in different washes: a dark wash and a medium wash. And they were on sale, too.

Not only did I find that Levi’s has *finally* paid attention to the fact that some of us women actually have curves and booties, but I found some Dockers cut this same way. (Actually, I think Dockers is owned by Levi’s so that would make sense.) I went a little overboard and bought a pair of full length Dockers chinos, a pair of capris, and a pair of shorts. All on sale, too. I had to do it because I’ll likely never find these things again, of course!

Then, as I was finally heading home, I took a route that brought me along the edge of the forest preserve. And what do I spot dotting the ground under the still naked trees? Ramps. Lots and lots of ramps, people!

Ramps are a perfect example of the fleeting delights of spring. Here one day, gone the next. So, even though I think I’m technically not supposed to do so, I’m going back out shortly with my long weeding tool to get a bunch of ramps. I’ll figure out a suitable recipe once I have them in hand.

The most recent chapter of When Things Fall Apart I’ve read covered impermanence and egolessness. I think finding the perfect jeans today and spotting ramps in the forest preserve are excellent examples of impermance: neither will be around for very long, and so I will enjoy them while I can.

A missed connection

Sometimes I spend too much time trolling around Craigslist. It’s almost like a nervous tic or something and is one way I sort of fill in time on conference calls that are not catching my attention.

I like to look at the different categories to see what sort of stuff is available (farm+garden and free are favorites since they feature so many things I envision uses for in the garden/yard), and just to see what the “market” is like for used items. After all, I have a few odds and ends around that I just may want to sell or barter some day soon.

One of my favorite sections to scroll through just for the hell of it is “missed connections.” The Chicago Reader has had this feature for years, too, but I don’t necessarily get a print copy of the Reader every week and I feel the need to look at the Reader stuff the old-fashioned way (in other words: not online). This is obviously not the case with Craigslist which is only available online.

These “missed connections” are often very sweet and touching. Here’s one I spotted today:

You were knitting and we made eye contact and smiled at one another as I got off the redline at loyola at around 8:50 this morning. I thought you were cute.


I like it because it is charming and not pushy, but also because it shows that knitters can too get noticed as objects of attraction and not “grannies.” Yep, amongst us knitters there are many that are “cute.” Here’s hoping this “missed connection” works out.


Am I moving forward here or going backwards? For a few days there I thought my health was improved, but over the past week that has not proven to be a permanent condition.

I worked out 2 days last week and 2 days the previous week, after taking off nearly 3 weeks from my typical routine. I didn’t do the one hour cardio sessions I had been doing, and instead narrowed those down to 30-minute sessions on my solitary days and just strength training sessions while working with the trainer.

Still, I found myself dragging quite a bit after the work outs. I was very tired, and during cardio I sometimes experienced some pain in my right lung. Then, last Friday as I was getting ready for bed, I noticed that the dreaded rash (Pityriasis rosea) was back again. I guess this means it never really went away 100%, as it’s supposed to be the sort of thing that doesn’t recur.

Now I have two things to deal with that make it nearly impossible to keep up my stress-relieving and health-building exercise regime. *sigh* Plus I’m so darn tired most of the time.

I seriously think I may have something like walking pneumonia considering that I’m still coughing (mostly in the mornings and evenings), still have swollen lymph glands in my throat that have me popping ibruprofen every 4-6 hours or so, and besides the nearly inescapable fatigue my lungs are starting to hurt more on a daily basis. Guess it’s time to back to the doctor, although I don’t that there’s much to be done here other than rest and try to destress as much as possible.

The pace at work has not been helping. We are under incredible pressure to get a lot done over the next 6 weeks, and I’m in charge of keeping about 10 people motivated and all pulling together to get things done, as well as put together plans and designs myself. Hard to do when I find myself feeling the need for a nap every afternoon.

I did get some good news this weekend and had some fun stuff going on. The contractors came through on Friday (3 of ’em!), plus a cabinetmaker who was going to see if he could adapt the solid wood, custom cabinets in my 1950s kitchen to accept modern updates like a dishwasher and a slide in range. I hope to get some better news on the bids now that they’ve seen the place. I know at least one of them mentioned he had quoted so high thinking he was going to have redo the electrical panel in the house, and when he saw that it was OK as is, he thought it would make a big difference.

Jamie, Rachael, and Valerie all came over for dinner Friday night and we had  a great time knitting and talking. Then on Saturday night I went over to Rachael’s to hang with her and Jamie, each some pie (the last of Rachael’s pie of the month club winnings), and (finally!) watch Changeling, a movie I’ve left sitting around in it’s Netflix envelope for weeks now.

I baked a rhubarb cake on Saturday during the day to take to my mom’s for Easter Sunday dinner, and did my grocery shopping. In an attempt to get *some* exercise while not irritating the rash too much, I took the dogs out for a walk and threw in a few minutes of jogging here and there.

We walked through the Forest Glen neighborhood and while the day was colder than normal, it was very sunny and dry. I think the dogs enjoyed the exercise and I was happy to find out that the guy in Forest Glen who originally advised me on where to get chicken feed still does have chickens;  they’re just not left to roam all the time like in the past, which is why I thought he had gotten rid of them. He has what looks like 2 Buff Orpingtons in a pretty cool homemade coop bordering the alley. A local kid saw me looking at them and told me that the hen was sitting on baby chicks. I love that! Too bad the guy wasn’t around so I could talk to him.

Easter Sunday in the morning I made a blueberry crisp to bring along, since mom doesn’t care much for rhubarb. I drove down to mom’s place with Annette and the niece and nephew, so it wasn’t a solitary ride. Dinner was great, the rhubarb cake was a big hit (even mom tried a piece and seemed to like it), and I got to visit with her flock of Rhode Island Red hens. It’s quite obvious their RI Red rooster is keeping his flock of ladies busy, as many of them have bald patches on their backs.

Despite having what may sound like a light weekend I was exhausted every night and today found myself having to take a long afternoon nap just to get enough energy to finish my work day.

Today is another cold day, with the addition of grey skys and rain. I actually am not complaining about the rain since we needed it and I was getting tired of watering the pea bed so often. I did manage to make a pot of soup tonight, and it’s a perfect night to enjoy that soup, a hot cup of tea, and then get into bed early with a book.

Such is life these days.

Rebel and revolt!

That’s what I’ve felt like doing a good part of the day. Why do I spend so much of my energy on work? I feel like I should be able to spend more of my time enjoying my life.

I started my day with a 5 AM call with my team in India and just ended it a few minutes ago when I sent my last email for the night. I’m supposed to be taking the day off tomorrow, but I’ll have to be checking email starting bright and early just to make sure that things are getting done.

I suppose I shouldn’t whine since I make good money and I *do* have a job, which can be considered a special thing these days.

I’ve thought of a hundred things to write about today, but then I lost them as I had to concentrate on other things. All I can remember is this: I’d like to run away this summer and go to Sock Summit.

Why not?

And then it snowed

It’s been a busy weekend for me! Here it is Sunday night already; the past few days have gone by much too quickly.

On Friday night, I had a dinner with an old friend from high school, Holly. We met up at Cousins, where I again enjoyed a very filling raw food dinner and smoothie. I returned home, had a cup of herbal tea, and then turned in early because I was incredibly tired.

Saturday morning I was up early to take care of the chickens (per usual), but instead of returning to sleep I got busy. I started some laundry, did some general tidying in the house, and had some breakfast and coffee while beginning a new book my therapist had recommened to me, When Things Fall Apart. (More on this later.) Then it was off to the gym to work out for an hour.

After a fairly good workout, I tackled some yard work when I came home. I’ve been most eager to start my early veggies, but every weekend something gets in the way (like really icky weather or being sick ). This time, I was able to do a bit of general yard clean up, and get my planting done. So, I have sugar snap peas, arugula, and two kinds of lettuce in the ground now.

Peas, arugula, and lettuces seeded in this bed. Yay!

Peas, arugula, and lettuces seeded in this bed. Yay!

After a couple hours, it was back into the house to put a strawberry-rhubarb crumble together and into the oven, and then clean myself up a bit in preparation for Saturday evening’s fun. I found time for a bit of a nap, then went off to my monthly mani/pedi/waxing appointment before my big social time.

Saturday night I called on two friends at one location. I spent a few hours celebrating Laura’s birthday at her “Pie Party,” where I bent the rules a bit by bringing the strawberry-rhubarb crumble instead of a pie. Watching her dance the Charleston was a great treat. Laura is always up to something unique, that’s for sure. (Laura was also the friend that gave me the Mary Oliver poem.)

I then headed downstairs to sit with Betsy for a while and hopefully convinced her to take better care of herself. [Betsy is Laura’s landlady and I had the pleasure of introducing them to each other.] Betsy has been sick for over a month and really needs to stop pushing herself so hard. Well, at least that’s what I think.

I again returned home early and prepped for bed. I had a glass of sherry, talked with Rachael to arrange some plans for early today, and then went off to sleep.

Another early morning today, but this time after tending to the hens I went back to bed for a short rest before getting up to meet Rachael for breakfast at Milk and Honey. As the weather was looking a bit strange, we decided to do our grocery shopping together. By the time we were done, the weather was looking a bit better so Rachael could go out to do her training walk.

I headed back home to put away my groceries, finish up laundry, and mix up some muffins for my afternoon guest. While it may seem strange to have my lawyer come for a visit, she and I first met each other through the Windy City Knitting Guild and she has also been quite friendly to me in addition to helping me in a professional capacity. I gave her a tour of the house and garden, including a visit with the hens, and we had tea and muffins together with some of my homemade freezer jam.

Then it was off to the movies with Annette, Ashley, and Colin to see Adventureland, which was not what I expected but was a wonderful movie, nonetheless. Don’t expect this to be a comedy; it really is a serious flick that had me tearing up at the end.

I’m feeling so vulnerable now, that a sweet movie like this was a bit much for me. This book I’m reading, When Things Fall Apart, is written by a Buddhist nun and is subtitled Heart Advice for Difficult Times. It’s about not just exisitng in the pain and suffering we are experiencing but moving towards it to discover something deeper. I read a few pages, tear up, and then reflect for a while.

“This very moment is the perfect teacher, and is always with us,” is really a most profound instruction. Just seeing what’s going on — that’s the teaching right there. We can be with what’s happening and not dissociate. Awakeness is found in our pleasure and our pain, our confusion and our wisdom, available in each moment of our weird, unfathomable, ordinary, everyday lives.

Yes, there’s definitely a lot in this book for me and I’m trying to just let things happen and flow.

Tonight and perhaps even through tomorrow we have returned to winter with snow falling softly down and gently accumulating on the ground. This is true Chicago weather: we almost always have snow around Easter. I guess I find this comforting is some way.

Life happens

I’m in a much better mood today. Maybe it’s because I worked out yesterday. Or maybe it’s because I did a bit of tanning yesterday (thereby increasing my Vitamin D level). Or maybe it’s because I got some extra sleep.

Today, good stuff happened. I had lunch with a friend from work and had a really good conversation. I thought up some other options for my kitchen that just may reduce construction costs. I confirmed a dinner tomorrow night with an old high school friend. I saw my therapist and came up with an idea for how to deal with one of my personal angst issues, and got reassurrance that I really was a good wife to Mark and so I shouldn’t feel bad about what happened to our marriage.

Bad stuff happens, too. As I wrote all of this I just knocked over a glass of red wine onto an upholstered chair. Earlier this evening, the brass drain in one of double sinks in the kitchen caved in, making it impossible for me to plug the sink.

But this is life: a mix of good and bad. And the trick is to roll with it all and not get too overwhelmed with the bad or the good.

One of my friends gave me this poem by Mary Oliver a few days ago. I find myself carrying it around with me and tape it up next to the bed at night.

The Uses of Sorrow
(In my sleep I dreamed this poem)

Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.