Nothing Much But Love

So there’s this guy I know, and today is his birthday, and it occurs to me that something should be said about him. But all the things I want to say have already been said; so I apologize in advance if this seems a little copy/paste-y, but y’know, when someone else already found the right words, sometimes it’s best just to shut up and let them steer the ship.

So this guy.

They say that you can tell the quality of a man by the company he keeps, and I reckon that’s true. So what do you say about a guy whose friends include social workers, musicians, poets, playwrights, costumers, service personnel (both active-duty and retired military, police, fire, and EMS), parents (whose children include biological kids, adopted kids, fur kids, step-kids, and kids who aren’t even technically in their lives anymore but they still check in on ’em from time to time), sign language interpreters, doctors, healers, domestic violence survivor advocates, suicide prevention hotline volunteers, and–fer cryin’ out loud–people who foster puppies?

They say a man’s character is revealed by how he treats those less fortunate, or those who have nothing to offer him in return. So what conclusions might you draw about a guy who, with a group of friends, adopts a needy family every year at Christmas and then completely loses his mind and all self-restraint when shopping for their presents? Or who also sponsors a Back-to-School Buddy each year, providing new clothes and shoes and school supplies and so many “fun extras” that it usually takes a half-dozen bags just to bring in all the stuff he tossed in the cart? And who does “just because” food deliveries for a widow a couple towns over, and donation drives for the local pantry, and takes cases of cat food to the local pet shelter, and chips in whenever possible for families who need a little cash boost to get through a tough time? He offered to buy a gal a house, y’all; to be fair, the idea is that it’ll be a duplex and we’ll live in the other half of it, but still. A house.

They say dogs can spot the good people a mile away, so you should trust a dog’s judgement. Behold:

*swoon*

*swoon*

They say you can tell a lot about a guy by how he treats animals in general:

The kitten booped him on the nose, so of course he adopted her.

The kitten booped him on the nose, so of course he adopted her.

They say you can tell a lot about a guy by how he does with kids:

We're not going to talk about how old the baby in this picture is now. *cries*

We’re not going to talk about how old the baby in this picture is now. *cries*

They say the good ones help their neighbors:

The fact that this particular neighbor lives 45 minutes away is't anyone's fault.

The fact that this particular neighbor lives 45 minutes away is’t anyone’s fault.

I guess a good way to sum up this guy is by quoting a friend of his, who said that “he’s the Higgs particle of human awesomeness – he not only has awesome in and of himself, he makes us all more awesome by his presence” (love ya, R. Hope you don’t mind my outright theft just there). This guy builds people up. He believes in them even when they don’t believe in themselves. He is kind and gracious and generous and funny and smart and sweet and sure, sometimes he’s thoughtless or forgetful or sticks his foot all the way in his mouth, but when that happens he apologizes and makes sure it doesn’t happen again. He is impeccable with his word, honest and clear, says the things that needs saying and lets the little things pass. He works hard to see everyone’s side even when he can only understand them academically, and he goes out of his way to make other people’s lives better.

Also he's dead sexy. Which doesn't say much about his character, but still. YUM.

Also he’s dead sexy. Which doesn’t say much about his character, but still. YUM.

Basically, he’s the sort of guy you can’t help but love…and the fact that I get to love him every day makes me officially the luckiest woman I know. Which is totally bragging, and I’m not even a little bit sorry.

So happy birthday, Moon Man. I flatly refuse to imagine life without you, and I am so, so honored to be married to such an incredible human being. Thank you, on behalf of all of us who know you, for being you. I–we–love you more each day.

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Filed under General Musings and Meanderings, Play Nicely

Liar

Depression is a damn dirty liar.

(Oh, by the way, pottymouth warning.)

Depression is a damn dirty lying liar who lies.

I know this about depression. I know that it twists things, distorts them, hides things, takes pictures from the least flattering angle with terrible lighting against a background that makes you look all sallow. I know that it misremembers things on purpose, pulls things out of context, finds details that distract from the truth and fixates on them. I know this. I have fought this battle many times, and I know its tricks.

I know that forgiveness is a key part of a generally happy life, and I practice it as much as possible; but I also know that depression keeps excellent records of the things you have forgiven people for–the things you’re so, so sure you’ve forgiven people for–and trots them back out to hurt you again. It will recite the things the school bullies shouted at you or whispered to you or passed you in a folded-up note or etched into your binder that time they stole it from your locker. It will tell you that if you’re going to argue that having a bunch of friends who all say you’re awesome must mean that you’re awesome (you’re outvoted, after all), then having a bunch of people tell you you’re worthless must be equally true for the same reasons. Even if they’re people whose opinions are usually valueless to you; even if they’re people who have been dismissed from your life because they were never going to be people who helped you be your best self. It will call you every name you’ve ever heard, and invent a few new ones along the way. It will become your new worst friend and your new best enemy.

I know that activity is a way to combat depression, and I try to stay busy; but I also know that depression will sap you of your energy and your motivation to do things. It will remind you of the things you’ve tried and failed at–we can’t all be experts at everything, but it will tell you that you’re particularly good at failing and will flatly refuse to acknowledge any successes you’ve had. Or it will chalk them up to teamwork, or someone else’s help, or dismiss them as a fluke. It will tell you that nobody believes in your ability to succeed at anything, and that they’re completely gobsmacked if, by some unlikely miracle, you accidentally don’t suck at something sometime. It will tell you that any accolades or praise you’ve received have been people’s attempt to encourage you to keep trying, that they come from the exact same place as a parent going batcrap crazy with excitement over a toddler peeing in the potty. It will do everything it can to block you from doing things–anything, any thing–that distract you from its insidious voice.

I know that exercise is a way to combat depression, and I have over the last several months added near-daily exercise to my lifestyle. In this particular instance I am recovering from a Medical Thing That Happened(TM), so exercise is on the “do what you can, and that might not be very much yet” list; but depression will tell you that you’re not doing anywhere near enough, that you should be over it by now, that you’re being a huge wimp and should be pushing yourself more…all while it’s siphoning off what little energy you physically have and suggesting that instead maybe you should in fact just lie there a bit longer, because maybe you’re not up to going for a walk and besides it’s all hot outside and the doctor said to take it easy and to take your time with recovering and ha ha ha you’ll just take any excuse at all to keep being a disgusting lump, won’t you, because that’s all you are and all you’ll ever be. It will tell you that you’re this close to losing everyone and everything you have ever loved because you’re so disgusting, so you may as well settle in with the Doritos and the trash tv and try not to look too surprised when you die alone of a heart attack and nobody notices because everyone has left you.

I know that reaching out to people can help combat depression, and I have somehow managed (despite some social anxiety and self-image drama) to build a circle of beautiful, wonderful friends; but I also know that depression will tell you that you’re being a tremendous inconvenience to them if you try to make contact. It will tell you that they only like you because of what you do for them–that you are at best a convenient and capable assistant who can be replaced by an unpaid intern at a moment’s notice–so if you dare to ask them for anything they will immediately drop you and never look back. It will tell you that when they go out of their way to offer help, they are counting on you never taking them up on that; or that what they are secretly saying is that they want you to emotionally validate them, to congratulate them for being Such Very Nice People(TM) but that they don’t actually want to do anything (remember, you’re the giver here, never the receiver) so you have to put on your happy face and fall all over yourself about how wonderful they are and send them a thank-you note and a fruit basket but never–good god, never even once–actually accept any of the things they’re offering. Not time, not company, not assistance. It will tell you that you must never let them see you cry, then remind you that the Very Nice Doctor called you “stoic” and got all mad at you (in reality, she very kindly suggested that you give yourself time to grieve, but depression lies, remember) when you didn’t fall apart in her office.

It will tell you that you lost the baby because you are a failure at being pregnant, and it will tell you that you may have to have a D&C because the ultrasound found residual tissue in there and unless it sheds itself by next Friday that’ll mean you can’t even miscarry right. You’re a failure at being pregnant and a failure at not being pregnant. And you’re a failure at recovering physically from the miscarriage, and a failure at grieving because you’re not crying all the time and a failure at recovering emotionally because you do cry sometimes, and it’s only been a week but you should be over it by now except that you’re a failure there too because you shouldn’t be over it by now and what kind of monster would even think about being over it after only seven days; and you’re a failure at activating your support network and a failure as a wife and let’s not even get started on the state of this house, shall we, but if anyone even hints that they’d be glad to come help you will seriously consider moving to a cave in the mountains because of the shame–the SHAME, I say–of letting anyone see you as anything other than perfectly composed and capable at all times.

Depression is a goddamned dirty lying liar who lies, and it is an abusive douchecanoe who cannot be trusted, and it is a jerk with no soul and it is everything that is wrong and everything it says is wrong (even when it sounds really reasonable) and it will lie out of its lying mouth and it is a stupidhead and its face is stupid and it really, really sucks.

…And knowing all of that doesn’t fix it, so today I am coloring in my coloring book and I am petting the dogs and I am breathing, just breathing, and waiting for it to pass. It will pass. It always passes.

Dammit.

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Filed under Don't Make Me Come Down There, General Musings and Meanderings

Buffalo Tantrum: Imma Let You Finish

Ok, look.

Last week SCOTUS ruled in favor of marriage equality (if you hadn’t heard that yet, spoiler alert: last week SCOTUS ruled in favor of marriage equality. Also, I’m sorry you’ve been entirely cut off from the news recently), and I. Am. Miffed.

Not about the marriage equality itself–I was actually one of the folks who got all sniffly when the news came down, who fought off the urge to send congratulatory messages to everyone I knew whom this would personally impact. I danced around the house. I changed my Facebook profile picture to the one with Moon Man and me grinning like fools with George Takei (yep, the George Takei. There aren’t a lot of people I’ll pay money to meet, but he was/is absolutely one of them, and those were dollars well spent). I had fun conversations with people about Where We Were When History Was Made, and how excited we are that our kids will someday say to us, “Mom? Were you really alive when gay people couldn’t get married?” and we’ll say “Yes, honey, I was, and I was so proud on the day when that changed”. I was elated, because by god, love wins.

And since going to social media about these things is what we do nowadays, I went to social media to celebrate with the rest of the world. People changed their profile pictures to have a rainbow overlaid on ’em. People used hashtags in excited ways. People posted videos and articles and links. People were thrilled, and rightfully so.

But then there were the outliers. Not the ones who were opposed to marriage equality: I actually don’t have a beef with them, because we’re allowed to disagree. I prefer it when the discourse stays civil and respectful, but I get it that some emotions were running high that day and people are allowed to express opinions. This was a ruling that hurt some people’s hearts, and I get that. That’s ok. Play nicely and share the toys, and y’all can disagree all you want.

No, the people on my short list right now–and the reason I’ve finally come back to blogging after just ages and ages–are the ones whose response was various shades of “Wow, marriage equality is a thing! That’s great, but here are all these other problems that still exist. Should we really be celebrating this thing when there are still issues to solve?”

*blink blink*

YOU’RE DARN TOOTIN’ WE SHOULD BE CELEBRATING THIS THING.

Here’s the thing, kids: yes, there are still problems to solve. Racism is still a thing. Gender issues are still a thing. Climate change is still a thing. I live in Brownbackistan; so my life is a more-or-less constant state of mild disgust. There are still kids who don’t know when their next meal will be, models are still getting Photoshopped into physically impossible shapes, the wage gap is real, and people are still eating shark fin soup.

But on this one day, an amazing, historic thing happened. On this one day we declared that love is love regardless of the swimsuit areas of the people involved. On this day we made progress–yes, progress that will still need work so it actually functions, but progress of any sort.

And some of y’all want to ignore that because your pet topic wasn’t the one that got the momentum?

Let me put this differently: all y’all who did the “yay marriage equality but OMG WHAT ABOUT THIS OTHER THING” posts are like that parent whose kid has been flunking all their classes for the last two years, is this close to getting thrown out of school, who got a tutor and worked his tuckus off all semester long and quit hanging out with his friends and gave away his Xbox and finally–finally–got his math grade up to a C and brought home his report card all glowing and happy and you said “well, that’s better, but you’re still only getting a D in chemistry and let’s not even get started on this English grade”.

You’re the kid whose parents scrimped and saved and worked overtime to get you the iPhone for Christmas, and you threw it across the room because it wasn’t the color you wanted.

You’re Kanye interrupting Taylor Swift’s VMA acceptance speech.

Look, I’m not saying that you’re not allowed to have things that you care about. Please do; and in many cases, that’s a big part of why I love you.

But what I am saying is that people stop inviting you to their birthday parties when you’re the guest who comes, looks around, and declares that the party is fine and all, but your own birthday is coming up so maybe people should be starting to shop for your present instead of spending quite so much time on today’s birthday girl.

Why can’t we just have today, is what I’m getting at. Why can’t we celebrate a big, joyous, important moment? These other issues will still be there tomorrow. And no, I’m not trying to say your Issues Of Choice should be swept under the rug; I’m saying that the new baby doesn’t mean we love you any less. I’m saying you’re allowed to be happy when something good happens, full stop, and that you can go back to your righteous indignation tomorrow.

I’m saying that a lot of folks had waited a very long time for their relationships to become legally recognized, and some of y’all came to the party and Kanye-d all over their wedding toasts.

So if you’re one of those folks, I reckon this would be a good time to go sit in a chair someplace and think about your life choices. It’s Monday now and the marriage equality news is no longer quite so immediate, so by all means, go back to Fighting the Good Fight for whatever you’re fighting for, and I’ll go back to supporting you in your endeavors…but first, maybe you’ve got an apology or two to offer, for spitting in the rainbow punch because somebody else was being the center of attention at their own party.

Just don’t be surprised if you’re not invited to the party at all next time.

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Filed under Don't Make Me Come Down There

Not My Croissants

Ok, I have to confess something here, and I’ll totally, totally understand if you come after me with pitchforks for it: I’ve been holding out on you guys. I have been selfish and un-sharing, and I’ll turn in my Commie ring if I need to. I get it. Mea culpa.

See, there’s this blogger whom I ran across a while back. And by “ran across” I mean “with whom I survived Introduction to Practical Self-Loathing and Applied Fat-Shaming 101, aka high school gym class”, and by “a while back” I mean “approximately 1994″. We’ve drifted through each other’s orbits every so often since then, and since I’d recently decided that what I needed to do was take up bellydance (this is also a thing that drifts through my orbit every so often, so don’t start marking your calendars for my grand dance debut anytime soon or anything like that) and I was given to understand that she had also done bellydance and perhaps would have some Helpful Resources for People Looking to Shimmy Their Jiggly Bits, I did a bit o’ googlin’. And found her bellydance videos (she’s got two of ’em! SCORE), but also found her vlogs.

Which I have been watching for like the last three days straight.

And not telling you about, until now.

/hangs head in shame, sends self to corner forever

But here’s the thing, y’all: I found this video of hers today, and … well, look, just watch it, ok?

/blinkblink

/notices hand is numb, looks at it, realizes it’s been raised to Jeebux for the last 5 minutes

/notices tongue is dry, realizes jaw has been hanging open for the last 3 minutes

For those of you who couldn’t watch it right now for whatever reason, here’s the jist: Krista was eating her breakfast and noticed her husband’s savings-club-sized box of croissants on the table. Without really paying much attention, she opened it and started eating from it…then realized that these were her husband’s  croissants. They weren’t her croissants–she didn’t pick them out–and she didn’t even particularly want one. But they were there, so she was absentmindedly eating them, because that’s what you do when there’s a Tasty Foodstuff(TM) right there in front of you. And it hit her that she was participating unconsciously in someone else’s habit–that she was letting her day’s diet include a choice someone else had made–and that maybe she didn’t need to do that. Maybe she could just, y’know, not eat her husband’s croissants.

/goes fully Shug Avery walkin’ to her Daddy’s church and singin’ “Maybe God Is Trying to Tell You Something”

Here’s the thing, y’all: how many times (lord, lord) have I eaten someone else’s croissants? How many times have I let someone else’s choices become part of my day without it ever occurring to me that I had full control over whether I wanted to be part of them? How many times (glory, hallelujah) have I let old versions of my own self determine what I would do today (you better preach, sister)?!

I get antsy sitting at stoplights, because I used to have a car that in its final days would just, y’know, up and die sometimes. Particularly at stoplights. And since my then-fiance had failed to pay the bills for several months, taken all the money I’d given him for said bills and spent it on god knows what, then run off with a 19-year-old voice major, I couldn’t afford to do anything about it. Eventually the car completely died for real, and we sent it off for scrap and I was on foot until I could (with my parents’ assistance) get another cheap beater lined up. Stoplights made me nervous because if the car died there, there wasn’t a dang thing I could do except push it to the side of the road and pray that it started again. But now my husband has a good job, and I have a good job, and we both got raises within the last 6 months and have roadside assistance and reliable vehicles. If the car dies at a stoplight, we can afford to get help. But somehow I’m still antsy about them because I useta couldn’t afford to fix the car 10 years ago? A decade later and I’m still eating the same old croissant?

My father was a smoker. There were always cigarettes in our house. When I became an adult, I started smoking, because smoking was a thing adults did. To be fair, there’s an element of addiction here…but at the core, 18 years later I am still smoking my father’s cigarettes (fewer now than before–I’m babystepping to being nicotine-free). 18 years of eating the same smoky croissant? Really??

Doctors scare the bejeezus out of me–not because of the sticky-poky-pinchy part, but because of the judgey-shamey-belittling part. I got the Your Problems Would Go Away If You Just Lost the Weight lecture when I was being seen for a broken finger. I got the “you are clearly exaggerating for the sake of drama” response when I was underreporting how spectacularly bad my menstrual cycles could be. I threw my back out once, saw a chiropractor, then got a lecture from a General Practitioner about how chiropractic is straight-up quackery and how if I wasn’t going to make my situation better (read: lose the weight immediately, preferably via bariatric surgery) the least I could do is stop making it worse. So I have tended to avoid doctors, because I don’t need to hear again how I’m a horrible person…but I’m not a horrible person. I’m a mighty fine person, and my body is just my body, and if the doctors I’ve seen historically have had epic fat-hatred issues, that’s pretty much their own damn croissant to eat.

So y’know, it occurs to me that maybe I can do something about this. Maybe I can just, y’know, not eat somebody else’s croissants anymore. Maybe I can sit at the stoplight or go see a doctor or leave the cigarettes at the gas station and say “actually, those are somebody else’s croissants, and it is not my place to eat them”. I can say “I don’t even really feel like eating a croissant right now, thanks”. I can say “I am full and do not need this croissant”.

I can just not eat other people’s croissants.

Holy cow. I can not eat other people’s croissants.

Krista Kubie, you’re a genius and I love you. And to those of you who are just finding out about her for the first time, I am so, so sorry. You can pelt me with croissants later if you need to. And I can choose not to eat a single one.

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Filed under Don't Make Me Come Down There

Will You Go

I need to tell you about this friend of ours.

The first time I met him–or I suppose I should say “the first time I remember meeting him”, because there was a period there where I met a lot of people in very rapid succession and tend to jumble things up a bit–he was sitting in the corner of Star’s living room with a guitar.

(Side story: I went to Nerd Camp–not its official name–during the summer between my junior and senior years of high school. The year I attended it was held on a college campus in the middle of nowhere, and the first several people I met were variations on the Cheerful/Perky/Chipper/Future Greek Pledge theme…and at that point I was firmly into my grunge-angst-meets-hippie-DamnTheMan period, so I felt pretty out of place. So I went on a walk, and ran into another attendee–a long-haired guy who looked like Jesus, wearing an ankle-length crushed velvet skirt, sitting under a tree and playing the guitar. We became fast friends and are friends to this day, some 20 years later. I have good luck with Guys With Guitars.)

…So this guy was in the corner of Star’s living room with a guitar. I was there because Star was throwing a party, and while I now look back on Star Parties with a great deal of nostalgia and fondness, at the time they were a source of full frontal terror: everyone there knew each other, most of them having been friends for periods ranging into the decades, and I was the new kid. The new, socially awkward kid. The new, socially awkward kid who doesn’t like to be in situations where she doesn’t know most of the people (but they sure do know each other), in a new place, in a new city that was about 10 times bigger than her comfort zone really allows for and apparently populated by drivers who believe it’s Thunderdome all day every day around here, who gets overwhelmed pretty easily by a) large groups, b) new places, c) loud situations, d) heavy traffic (did I mention Star lived right off one of the main roads?), and e) being the odd man out. Whee!

So this guy was in the corner of Star’s living room with a guitar, and because I was about ten seconds from shutting down completely and maybe going to the bathroom to cry for a little while but because I knew from experience that Guys With Guitars are usually safe places for me, I went and sat down. And Moon Man came and joined me, and someone called for a tune, and somehow or another (there’s a certain amount of grey, Overwhelmed Just Existing Please Don’t Ask Me Anything time in here) the guy with the guitar ended up playing “I Don’t Want to Live on the Moon” from Sesame Street. Doing a passable Ernie impression to boot, I should note. And I sat there and listened and within about two bars had sunk beneath the surface of the music and shut out everything and was mouthing the words and holding back tears and holding Moon Man’s hand and the only things in the world that existed were the sound of the music and the pressure of Moon’s hand and suddenly, easily, everything was ok. There was a Guy With a Guitar and a voice that resonated at exactly the right frequency to open the peaceful places–carefully, oh so carefully guarded–in my heart, and everything was ok.

Eventually we became friends with this guy and his family, and we get together sometimes to do social things or we go see him perform. And while he’s not exactly playing Shea Stadium–he’s more in the “coffeeshops and occasional private parties” circuit, including playing at our wedding because he’s also a damn good sport about driving 45 miles to Topeka for a tiny private ceremony on the day after Thanksgiving–his music always, always takes me to that place where everything is ok. Even when everything is most decidedly not ok–I went to see him once a couple of weeks after Dad died, and those two hours were the first time in 14-ish days that I believed that I might actually be able to get through this. I played his CD for Little Bit, my feline best friend of 16+ years, while Bit was dying–it calmed him down, and calmed me down, and didn’t change the fact that I was holding my little buddy while he died, but it made it possible to believe that things might be ok again later.

And y’know, it’s just this thing this guy does. He just, like, plays the guitar. And sings some things. He also makes clothes and builds decks and does something complicated with computers and fixes dinner and raises children and, I dunno, tells inappropriate jokes sometimes and grumbles about the price of things. He’s just a guy with a guitar, doing what Guys With Guitars do.

But as it happens, he was the guy with the guitar in the place where I was at exactly the time I needed a Guy With a Guitar. And he’s been that for me more than once, which makes me a little extra glad we both happened to agree to go to that Star Party in the first place.

And here’s the thing, y’all: being a guy with a guitar is just part of his day. If he’s going somewhere, he takes his guitar with him just in case there’s some music that needs playin’. And it occurs to me that a lot of us have That Thing We Do–we have words, or we have music, or we have interpretive dance or underwater basket weaving or being a kung fu master or being a rocket scientist, that Thing We Are Made Of that we do just because it’s in our soul to do it–and I think that sometimes the most important thing we can do is to do that Thing. Even if we’re not making money at it, even if it’s not our main occupation, even if we never get more than a few hundred hits on our blog post or a slightly overfilled coffeeshop for an audience.

Because you never know when someone in the room is going to be in desperate need of a Guy With a Guitar…and if she’s there, and you could fill that need, why the hell would you leave the guitar at home?

Love ya, brotherman.

Love ya, brotherman.

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Filed under Play Nicely, Share the Toys

5×12

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I present to you my great and secret shame:

IMG_20150107_123527331

Shown with small enthusiastic ferocious terrier and larger loving but ultimately pretty useless Border Collie mutt for size comparison:

"When do we get our cheeseburgers for being such good models?"

“When do we get our cheeseburgers for being such good models?”

That, gang is a bag of t-shirts. A big bag of t-shirts, which has been sitting in the closet/Moon Man’s office/the basement for…lordy, two years now? Three? Long enough that I no longer have any idea what t-shirts are in there, and had completely forgotten he ever even had the red dino one on the top.

Now hold on to my Great and Secret Shame for a minute; we’re gonna circle back around to it.

Yesterday I was talking with a Very Dear Friend; she’d checked in to see how the Smoking Cessation Plan of 2015 was coming along (for which she gets 10 billion karma points, as she was the first non-Buffalo Moon Ranch resident to do so), and we were chitchatting about how one of the most challenging bits for me is figuring out what to do with myself. It’s not just about the nicotine addiction, y’know; it’s about the habit, the repetitive action, the thing you do to fill gaps in the day. What do you do when you’re a nonsmoker who gets to the restaurant before your friend does? What does a nonsmoker do when she has 10 minutes before her next meeting, since that’s really not enough time to, say, watch an episode of Friends? These are roughly 10-12 5-minute increments through the day, y’all, nearly an hour of time; what do nonsmokers do with that hour?

Very Dear Friend suggested blocking out that hour as “Time Formerly Known As Smoking Time Which You May Not Claim And Which I Shall Use For My Own Nefarious Purposes” (I may have changed the suggested title a bit there), but the problem is that a lot of smoking time was spent in the gaps between other things–having a meeting scheduled at 1:00 meant that I would pop out for 5 minutes around 12:45. Showing up to the movies early so we could get tickets and popcorn meant taking 5 minutes to grab a quick smoke before going inside. Et cetera. And since most of those things aren’t really movable times–they’re not going to agree to push all my meetings up to be back-to-back so I can spend a free hour in the afternoon, and they’re not going to just start the movie 5 minutes early because I’m ready before they are–those gaps still exist, still need filled with some small thing.

Enter the t-shirt bag.

While we were talking, it occurred to me that perhaps what I needed was a “fidget”, a little thing I could do with my hands that would mostly leave my mind free to wander/plan blogs/try to remember whatever it is I’m forgetting at the moment, that would take about 5 minutes or could be done in 5-minute increments. I thought about dusting–I always think about dusting–and added that to the Possible Options list, along with “tidying a small corner of the world”, “lovebombing someone out of the blue”, and “some small sort of exercise”…but then I remembered the t-shirt bag.

That bag, which has been sitting forlorn and forgotten, was originally destined to become a t-shirt quilt. Not that I know how to make a t-shirt quilt or anything ridiculous like that–there are a lot of tutorials online, and a lot of instructions, and goodness knows I have a lot of friends who quilt, but I’ve never personally made one and have only the dimmest idea where/how to start. (And no, that’s not a request for help or advice; one of the things I’m giving myself permission to do in 2015 is Trying Things Without Having to Get Them Right on the First Try. This could end up beautifully, or it may end with a pile of scrap fabric and me in tears. Who knows? We’ll see when we get there. And I’ll get to do some on-the-fly problem-solving, which is never a terrible thing to do.)

So I’ve dragged the bag up from the basement, where I found it after 10 minutes of playing “where was the last place I saw that dang thing?” around the house. I’ve gathered a bin to put the cut-up pieces in, and my fabric-only scissors. There’s a reasonable chance that I’ll set up a folding card table in my office so I can work between calls, and failing that, I’ve already picked a nice spot on the living room floor where it can sit and be an eyesore and probably eventually get peed on by one of the dogs or torn up by one of the cats.

And I reckon I can use my 5-minute increments to make babystep progress with the thing: cutting the shirts apart; trimming the pieces to…the right shapes? squares maybe? still pretty fuzzy on this step; stitching them together in a meaningful way TBD. Heck, for all I know I might be about to embark on an adventure of making the world’s saddest collection of potholders, dust cloths, and trivets. We might end up with 8 patchwork pillowcases that don’t actually fit any of our pillows. There’s a very real chance we’ll end up with a garbage bag of cut-apart t-shirts and half-formed quilt blocks that ends up going back in the basement for another two or three years.

But one thing I do know is that I’ll have a way to fill those 12, 5-minute gaps each day. With something that isn’t a cigarette, and which might just turn out to be productive and lovely.

I’ll take it.

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Filed under General Musings and Meanderings, Play Nicely

King Nosmo

/flails

/flops onto couch

/looks pathetic

You guys. YOU GUYS. Everything is wrong and nothing makes sense and it’s all TOO HEAVY and it’s all pretty ridiculous when you think about it but right now it is all 100% crisis all the time and how does anyone even live like this?!?

/flings pillow onto floor

/makes tragic face

So it’s 2015 now, yay cheers etc, and 2015 has the potential to be really amazing in some very groovy ways, and blah blah bright and shining future, blah blah loads of promise, blah blah living my best life owe it to myself am incredible and deserve a body that supports my blah blah blah so I’m quitting smoking. Like, right this second I am in the process of quitting. Quitting is a thing I am doing, right now, today, as we speak–not “going to do this year” or “am planning to try” or “have started thinking about how it wouldn’t be a terrible idea”, but am currently, immediately, present-tense-verb quitting.

No, I’m not going cold turkey, because cold turkey is a thing I have tried before and I’ve got too much “shut your doodyheaded mouth, I’m a grownup and can do what I want” for cold turkey anything to work–it lasts about 15 minutes, and then I flip the table and go do whatever it is I’m trying not to do, but rebelliously this time. Instead I’m doing a self-directed stepping-down sort of thing: yesterday I smoked roughly once every two hours, which was my usual MO; today I’ve upped that to once every three hours, and will camp there for a day or two. Then every four hours, every five, every six, every as many increments as it takes to get me to the point where I forget an increment because the banshee screaming urge isn’t there anymore. Which means that today is my first real day of not just popping out for a smoke whenever I feel like it (I only smoke outside), so today is the first day that I’m having to battle the habit fo’ realsies.

And you know what I’m learning more strongly than anything else? That for me, smoking is tied to a lot of activities in my life. I got up from the computer earlier to refill my coffee cup, and my inner “smokeytime!” bell went off. Went to the restroom a bit later, noticed the dogs wanted out? Smokeytime! Thought about how I was not going to smoke yet, and maybe I should write a blog post about it, and thinking about writing the blog pinged the Smokeytime bell because I spend no small amount of time composing my thoughts over a nice cigarette before actually sitting down to write.

I smoke before we get in the car to go someplace; I smoke after meals; I smoke before bed; I smoke when I’m bored. I smoke when I take the dogs outside, and before you play the “well, just don’t go with them” card, I’ll note that our larger dog, Charlie, was a stray before he went to the shelter and was already microchipped with a defunct address so there’s about a 99% chance he was dumped by his former family and so he has profound trust issues and is perfectly happy to just pee right on the deck if I don’t go with him and watch him go down the stairs and stand there and reassure him that yes, he can come back in when he’s done. So I pretty much have to go out with them.

So I’m starting to find those niches, those places where a cigarette goes whether I’d noticed it consciously or not, as I’m brushing up against them throughout the day. And I’m finding that I’m not as murderous yet as I’d kinda expected to be–maybe that’s coming later, oh goodie–but I am confused. Like, what do you people even do if you’re not running out for a smoke every 90 minutes? How do you blog without smoking first? How do you refill your coffee cup? How do you leave the house?

It’s currently about 10 degrees here, because, y’know, January on the Great Plains. So you mean to tell me that y’all nonsmokers (I guess I’m working on joining you, so maybe I should change that to “we nonsmokers”) just, like, don’t throw on a coat and go stand outside in the arctic air ten times a day? You don’t go huddle under the overhang when it’s raining? We don’t find ourselves thinking “huh, I’m breathing awfully easily–must be time for a smoke”?

What do you do with all that free time, then? Where do you read your catalogs? What do you use your deck for, if not The Place Where You Go Smoke?

So far in my attempts to distract myself and fill those 5-to-6-minute gaps I’ve played a couple of silly little games on Facebook, read a bit of the book I’m working on, researched pear cake recipes (we have a box of lovely pears that are about to go bad, and wasting them is just not ok), and at one point just went and stood outside and did some deep cyclic breathing because how do you even measure the time if not by trips to the deck?

/sighs

/flops over

This is all just so terribly ridiculous, and so terribly difficult, and so terribly ludicrously hilarious. I’ve been a smoker for literally half my life–and for my entire “legal adult” life: one of the first things I did on my 18th birthday was buying a pack of cigarettes, just to try them, because I could. I have never been a grownup without also being a smoker. I have no idea how to make friends at the coffeeshop without striking up conversations at the smoker’s corner on the porch. I have no idea how to go to the airport without immediately identifying all the smoking-permitted zones. I have never learned how to not have a lighter in my purse at all times.

But this is a thing I am doing, because it is a thing I have decided to do, because reasons. This is a good thing to do, and I will be glad to have done it. This is a day I will be proud of–and a post I will chuckle about–later when I’m a firmly established Former Smoker Who Has Successfully Quit.

And in the meantime, I’m 7 minutes from my every-three-hours smoke break, so I’m going to go put on my jacket and get ready to go. Because while I am in the process of quitting, I’m not there yet; and for a person who craves routine, it’s nice to know for sure what I’m going to do with the 6 minutes between 12:00 and 12:06 PM.

Pray for me, y’all. And then pray for Moon Man, for strength in dealing with me.

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Filed under General Musings and Meanderings, Play Nicely