Monday

. Is my wattle getting bigger? I’m still on my nice, graceful slip down the scale – I haven’t had to worry about food for almost two years now. Things don’t usually tempt me. Mind you, I’m being reasonable. But for some reason I’m not tempted to binge on anything, I’m full without seconds and sometimes without finishing what’s on my plate. In other words, I eat like a normal person, which of course makes me worry that I have a dread disease. But I don’t – my interest in food has simply changed. Now why it couldn’t have happened when I was in my twenties or thirties is another question, but I have a suspicion it has something to do with … gasp … aging. Funny how we don’t like to talk about getting older, getting old. I started out thinking I should come up with a funny euphemism for getting older, but changed my mind. Avoiding the term is admitting it has power over you, and I’m so enjoying turning myself into an eccentric old lady. Then again, I always was an eccentric old lady, just in a younger body. Now I can let my freak flag fly and people will just chuckle and nod and say “old Krissie is at it again.” Hell, maybe they’ll just say “Krissie is at it again.” Coz I am.

As I approach 70 I’m thinking that it might be good to decide who I’m going to be when I grow up. I’d love to be some slim, gorgeous woman who’s active, has long, thick gray hair and beautiful crinkly eyes, one who travels and does yoga etc. etc. I think you need a strong interest in self-care for that, and I’m afraid that’s always been my failing. I know so many women like that – Judith and Cilla and so many others. But that’s not me.

And there’s Granny. The women who retire into grandmother-hood – their life is their family and it’s full of joy and frustration and love. My BFF Sally has done that, but she gives up anything of interest to her, like writing or sewing or travel. In that case the interest in the children trumps the interest in her own life, and that’s good. I love my grandchildren to pieces, but the idea of doing daycare for them is not me. (Love to babysit, just not every day). I still have too much life I have to live.

And then there’s the wispy character from a novel, with bizarre clothes and scarves and strange statements out of nowhere and a naive delight in the world with a strain of deep cynicism beneath it all. She’s usually called something like Great Aunt Minnie in movies and books. That’s my jam. Richie says we live in a Booth cartoon (if you don’t know the cartoons of William Booth go on a search – he’s wonderful!). I say outlandish things (I always have) and float through life with great kindness unless someone is hurting someone, and then the Goddess of Doom emerges.

Yeah, I like that one. It’s like a nice pair of ancient jeans – it fits so welland it doesn’t constrict.

So who do you want to be when you grow up?

All About You and Me and All That Stuff (Krissie)

I grew up with that travel poster framed on our walls – my grandmother had them done for my mother and my aunt, and she had one in Danish, and I have great fondness for it. Though that’s not precisely the one – ours was from before Queen Margrethe (the latest one in the phenomenally ugly red dress) was crowned. It’s a great poster – I remember looking at Gorm the Old and Harald Bluetooth in fascination. Jesus, I’m old.
So how have you all been? I’ve been bustling around, but here’s what I’ve accomplished.
1. I finished the first draft of the Book that Would Not End
2. Finished my taxes (and found I overpaid!!! Yippee!)
3. Made what I thought was an autumn purse but instead it was an autumn tote-bag which wasn’t worth the effort since I have a million tote bags. Sigh.
4. Watched tv with Sally and Alex (the grandson). Sally’s in Michigan and we watched the final episode of a K-drama, Bride of the Water God, and Alex (in New Mexico) and I watched Phineas and Ferb which was surprisingly funny. They turn the iPad on the tv and then we talk while we watch – it’s actually a lot of fun.
5. I visited Crusie, came back with a lovely haul of yarn and goodies. We mostly just hung around the house and talked and talked and talked. Good times. Oh, and ticks do not drop out of trees onto people’s heads (my crazy-ass mother told me that)
6. I rescheduled my knee surgery for spring – I have too much writing work to accomplish and I can’t afford to waffle for the months it takes to get one’s brain back after a major surgery like that
7. I’ve had lovely, realistic dreams about Tom Hiddleston two nights in a row (no, not sexual, you naughty people! Sex is for my heroines – at least, sex with Hiddles is). Sigh.
8. Changed my sheets and am ready to attack the bedroom. I have horrifying photos for the before shots.
9. I’ve cleaned up my sewing room quite a bit because I have a million quilts I want to make
10. Tim got approved for SSI, thank God. Now we just have to wait until they decide whether I can be payee or not.

There are doubtless tons of other things. Here’s the stuff I now have to do:
1. Finish revisions on HEARTLESS
2. Write a Christmas novella
3. Get to work on OOOPS (working title)
4. Start swimming again
5. Clean the bedroom
6. Clean the living room
7. Bake bread more often
8. Cook more often
9. Sew more often
10. See what I can do about the crushing student loans (Daniel hasn’t been working – in fact has never paid anything on his loans and we, unfortunately, co-signed. Daniel also has mental health issues).
And a thousand more things to do, not necessarily in that order.

Ah, the golden years. But the utterly fabulous thing is the longer I’m off that creepy Neurontin the better I feel. Depression really had been closing back around me, and god damn the doctor who prescribed it without noticing that it’s contra-indicated for someone with a history of depression. But I’m feeling good and energetic and ready to slay dragons, which is the way I like to be.

Hmmm. Tomorrow I’ll get on the scale.

And tomorrow I start the great bedroom attack. I’ll post one before picture and then an after picture. It’ll keep me honest.

And we’re having lovely weather, which makes all the masses of outdoor projects you have to do in Vermont (get the firewood together, put away the outdoor furniture, cover things with tarps, cut back plants, put stakes up for the snow plows, etc. etc.) easier, plus cuts back on fuel use.

So I am woman, hear me roar.

What’s on your agenda? Anyone else filled with energy (I always tend to be in the fall, my favorite season)? Tell me what you’ve been doing.

All About You (Krissie) Labor Day Edition

It’s starting out as kind of a Mournful Monday. Funny the stuff that can set you off – for me it was a dress shirt of Tim’s. It just brought back the time when things seemed relatively normal and there was a future ahead.
But weeping is a waste of time (though maybe occasional little weeps are all right – you can’t just ignore loss) as long as I put on my big girl panties and move forward. Though trust me, even keeping almost 30 pounds off, my panties are always big girl.
It’s a cool, glorious day in the north country. I have a lovely cup of Sumatran coffee, my children are stable, I’ve had fun with my heritage BFF (Sally) and I get to spend time with my indie BFF next month (that’s Sally and Jenny), and I get to spend a week with my grandchildren due to unforeseen circumstances. I have a pretty close relationship with my almost-DIL, which is lovely, so I get to help out, etc. Sometimes DILs can make it hard to see the grandchildren, and God knows Erin’s family tries to keep me away, though I think they’ve finally begun to accept that we’re part of the kids’ family (grudgingly).
So, tell me what your week looks like. (No, this isn’t a stupid, disinterested (I just accidentally spelled disinterred) writer on Facebook trying to drum up hits, this is me and community wanting to know). Do you have one thing of joy you’re looking forward to? One thing you’re dreading?
My joy is seeing my grandchildren on Saturday. Beyond joy.
Am I dreading anything? Not crazy about the flight. Oh, I know. I only have a 55 minute layover in Atlanta, and I can’t move fast (leg gives way). Kinda dreading that.
But most of all I soldier on, and even on a Mournful Monday I taste the Sumatran coffee and watch the the bright orange and red leaves dance in the breeze..
Amen.
So, tell me about your upcoming week.

All About You (Eclipse Edition)

Here I am as Lorene VanderPelt, a combined character in The Time of Your Life. That’s my cousin’s husband John beside me – he played Mac … something, a longshoreman. We had a great time – it was a bit ragged but loads of fun, and I even grew to love the play (with reservations). Sean Haberle came up from NY to play the lead – he was Claudius in Hamlet and Atticus Finch, plus he directed Annie Get Your Gun, and I adore him. He’ll try absolutely anything on stage – he’s fearless, and an absolute sweetheart as well. Like many actors, he’s also IATSE (the stagehands union) to support himself, and right now he’s working on the Colbert show, which he says is lots of fun. He had a couple of Colbert ID cards on his backpack and all of us wanted to steal one (or at least I did and a 16 year old stage crew wanted to, which is about right. I’m like a teenager). Funny thing – the NY stagehands aren’t suppose to make eye contact with the talent. He says Colbert seems great though, and all the people who work with him love him.

But I digress. Happy eclipse day. Don’t look at the sun. Easiest way to see it is look at the reflection in a bucket of water – assuming the sun is out. I intend to float in the pool with my eyes closed, basking in the energy. Except it’s possible that energy might be negative – who knows.

Didn’t write much last week – I had only a few days to spend with Sally, sewing, so I did, and then I was tied up in rehearsals. Today I’m taking an eclipse day, tomorrow I finally go to the big city and do what I need to do, and Wednesday I go straight through to the end of the book.

I’ve said this before, but my main problem is I have too many things I’m dying to do. So many things on the computer I want to watch, so many things I want to sew, books I want to listen to, organizing and decluttering (because I find all sorts of cool stuff), things I’m dying to write. Plus I have to grab the time when it’s limited to spend with Sally (who’s basically the only family I have left from the old days – we grew up together, we knew each others’ parents intimately). Everyone else in my family of origin is gone, and the only one left is Mini-me, who’s now having a lovely if sad time on Martha’s Vineyard (her SIL just died).

So my week is planned. I’m happy. It’s interesting – to someone I might seem bipolar, since I have Major Depression but I’m feel such joy in life. But I don’t have any of the bad things with Bipolar illness (which runs in my family so I know it well). I don’t go on spending sprees. I don’t get nasty (which they often do when they’re on a high). I don’t run on at the mouth. I’m not impulsive.

I see the world full of glorious things, but I think that’s part of my basic nature, and intervals of depression hit sometimes. The thing is, I want to be happy. So I try to notice beautiful and good things, I try to let go of things I can’t change, I’m not a perfectionist (thank God), and being a Taurus (or being me) I love Things. Shiny, bright, dark, rusty – there’s just such a feast of things in this world (which I have to stop collecting but I love passing on things, plus I find ways to use them). Everywhere there’s a richness of life that I don’t have time to get to.  I can’t change my son’s illness or worry about the future when there’s nothing I can do (I think a lot of the last 15 years have been spent weeping and worrying about my children). I can let go. I can grieve and it won’t destroy me.

I’ve always taken Auntie Mame as a role model – “Life’s a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death. Live!”

So that’s my goal for Eclipse Day. I’m just gonna live.

Next week I’ll try to organize my life so I can start doing all the things I want to be doing without feeling like I should be doing something else, but that’s next week. For now my way is clear.

So – any of you in the path of the Eclipse.? (We’re getting 60% – in other words, a typical cloudy day in Vermont). Any of you doing anything to mark it? If I’d thought earlier I would have come up with something significant we could all do. But maybe’s it’s significant enough to live well.

So tell me, what’re you doing for the Eclipse, are you celebrating it in any way, spiritually or otherwise?

All About You (and Politics)

I may look cheery there but I’m not. And for God’s sake, this isn’t political! It’s human. It has nothing to do with Republican or Democrat or Trump.
I’m just so angry and heartbroken about Charlottesville. That such things can happen in our country, that they’re happening more and more. That somehow that kind of evil has become part of our society worries me deeply.

I don’t understand where evil comes from. Those screaming white nationalists are good men, I know they are. How did such vile hatred become there identity? How does this sort of thing ever happen? In general I don’t believe in evil, I believe in sickness – of the soul, of the mind. Does adversity drive most people to these kinds of terrible beliefs and behaviors? Sorry, but it’s just so deeply upsetting.

On to better things. I’m almost finished the book. I’m doing massive stuff on my sewing room. Today I’ll get to sew with Sally, and the weather is good (though still cool). I find I can float in my pool and listen to audiobooks (I’m on the new Sarah MacLean and it’s excellent) if it’s 68 or above and the sun in shining. If the sun goes away and there’s a breeze it gets a little nippy. But I am going to wrest some summer out of this too-short non-summer or die of pneumonia trying.

I rehearsed last week for a theater gala last night, and I joined a bunch of old friends singing the nun music from Sound of Music. This weekend we’re doing a staged reading of The Time of their Lives wherein I play the role of “an unattractive woman.” When I first read the play I said “I’ll play any role but that one.” Really, really didn’t want to play her because of my complex issues of feeling “un-pretty” most of my life.

But then I thought if I felt that strongly about the part (and it’s not a large one) then I should definitely play it, so instead I requested it, and we’ll be having rehearsals Thursday and Friday and perform Saturday and Sunday. So at least I get a taste of theater, which makes me happy.
And this is my sewing room mid-scramble. I’m slowly getting it organized – I’ll have more stuff on Wednesday to show you.

So this week. Deal with the situation in this country. Rehearse the play. Work on the book (finish the draft?). Sew with Sally. Play the guitar and sing. Maybe finally get my butt to the big city (I’ve been putting it off for weeks and weeks).

What’s on your agenda? Lots of you on vacation as “summer” winds down? Though many of you (including those in England) have more than their fair share of summer. Mini-me was over during a heat wave in … I think it was early July. She just landed again this morning – her SIL is dying and she and her Brit husband have gone to say good-bye.

It’s times like these that “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” by Monty Python comes so mind.

So, my children, what’s on your agenda?

Oh, and I had at least one typo and now I can’t find it (I think it was a homophone) so be generous with me. Yeah, I really do know how to write – I just type too fast.

All About You (Krissie)

I’m finally ready to move ahead on the book after absolutely months of rewriting. It would have been faster to write a whole new book, but I’ve loved this unusual (for me) process. I was so excited I almost forgot refab.

I’m excited about Working Wednesdays, but I’m doing so many interesting things I’m probably going to throw them up (not literally) at other times as well. I just passed day 201 of studying Danish (I’m using Duolingo as well as a number of other programs and Duolingo keeps track). Been working on my sewing room, attempting some order in the bedroom (you can barely walk through it) plus writing. I’m getting a little discouraged about the weather here – I’d just like it to reach 80, fer gawd’s sake! I want to float in my pool but it’s too effing cold! My floatie died and I got a new one from Amazon. Looks great, doesn’t it? And I’ve got one of those blow up pools, about 4 feet deep, with a ladder. Now I knew getting on that sucker was going to be difficult, so I climbed two steps up the ladder and tried to fling my leg over. Next thing I knew I was under water with the floatie on top of me. Mama don’t like going under water. I had my iPhone in a water-proof bag that wasn’t completely waterproof (I was listening to an old Georgette Heyer). Undaunted (though with water up my nose), I climbed up on the ladder again, flung my leg over and … you guessed it. I’m looking forward to watching Richie try to get on it but it was too cold for him yesterday. I think we’ll break 80 today.

Anyone who’s got extra energy could send out some healing light or prayer or whatever you do for my cousin Helen who’s going under the knife at 1 today. It’s not looking so good but I’m optimistic, or at least trying to be.

And I’ve been writing the loveliest book in my head about Tom Hiddleston. That man is just adorable, as far removed from my heroes as a human could be (though I use the actor part of him as hero material). The real man seems to be the kindest, sweetest man, and I’m doing this book in my head that would never work because all the tension is in the heroine, but damn, it’s fun! Also, a great way to fall asleep.

What’s on your agenda? I get to write!!!! I’m going to meditate for an hour at one (for my cousin) and float in the pool in the afternoon, and then write like mad the rest of the time. And that’s my plan for the week. At night I do a little work on my revamped sewing room, then I play the guitar and sing, study my Danish, listen to an audiobook, and then move on to  Hiddleston. My, it’s a good life (both kids are stable and content – no crises).

So what’s on your agenda? Who would you most like to f .. er, who would you be most likely to have sexual fantasies about if you didn’t have to be embarrassed or married or old or fat or skinny or whatever? If you could be anyone you want, and the love of your life wasn’t around, who would you choose?

I want answers! Surely I can’t be the only one who does this. Come on, don’t be shy. (And the person doesn’t have to be alive or old in your fantasies. I’d take James Dean in a flash). Or hey, if you’re feeling shy – who would you model your perfect hero on?

And now, for your delectation:

Epiphanies at the Dentist (Krissie)

So I had a startling realization yesterday, an off-shoot of one a few years ago, and I haven’t been able to talk to anyone about it, so here goes. (Haven’t been able to talk about it because I had two back teeth taken out yesterday).

A few years ago things in my life were very very bad. I was in the depths of a depression, one grown child was nuts with no diagnosis and making our lives a living hell. Our money situation was ghastly (still is), our other child was a mess, everything felt horrible. I’d been down to visit Crusie, and I was driving back, weeping. Everything felt terrible, with no hope or joy in sight (remember, I was depressed) and I felt so empty, driving back to nothingness. And then I remembered the current story I was writing. And I thought of other things I wanted to write, and the book I was reading, and that was the one, undeniable hope I could hold on to and stop myself from crying . It always struck me that when I had nothing I still had the stories, wonderful books to read and write.

Of course, things got better, but I’ll never forget that when things were at their lowest, story saved me (as it’s been doing all my life – I would’t have survived my childhood without my incessant reading, and I know some of you are the same).

Fast forward to yesterday. I’ve been lucky enough never to have to have teeth removed as an adult. But on one side I had a root canal that had taken five or six visits and they’d never been able to finish it (shit-load of money thrown away on that). That was still bothering me. Then a few months ago I ended up with a huge abscess on the other side, in a tooth that was mostly filling and there was no chance of saving, and that had to go too. Fortunately both of them are at the back , I’ve had some difficulty chewing, so I was on board (though not happy). I got to the oral surgeon yesterday, a little edgy, but assuming I was going to have some kind of anesthesia. Uh, nope. Just novacaine. They could do other stuff but I’d need to come back for a consult and then have it done, and yes, it would cost more (we don’t have dental insurance). So, being a relatively tough cookie, I sighed and said “go ahead.”

It was freaking awful. The doctor was great, the aides were wonderful, but sitting in that fucking chair, having them yank and drill and yank and crack and pull was unbelievably difficult for me, and I started crying, which was really embarrassing. I told them I was very anxious and then closed my eyes, trying to keep the tears behind my eyelids, trying not to let it get worse which would involve hiccuping while they were drilling.

While I’d been waiting earlier (for the novacaine to take effect) I’d come up with a brilliant thing I could do with my revisions – where I could place my dreaded flashback scene. So as I was clutching the arms of the chair and trying to keep from sobbing (and it didn’t hurt that much it was just so … invasive) I cast around in my mind for anything to distract myself. Every time I thought that I shouldn’t cry it would get worse. So I thought about moving that scene, and suddenly I was calm. Like I’d had an instantaneous shot of something. I couldn’t really concentrate on anything, of course, and they’d yank, and I’d get weepy, and again I thought of the scene. Again, instant calm. It was amazing.

Unfortunately both teeth were difficult, in particular the one that had had the root canal, which apparently had fused to the tooth beside it, plus was a very large one, so they had to work exrtra long and hard on it, so I had plenty of time to keep observing the phenomenon. Each damn time it would work – tears would be sliding down my cheeks from my closed eyes (and of course any sign of sympathy, like Carol, the really nice nurse, putting a comforting hand on my arm, made it worse) and I ‘d think of my characters and the panic would just vanish for the moment. It really was extraordinary.

I remember when I was an adolescent I would leave the house in the middle of the night when my parents were raging and walk across town to our church, about two miles away. They didn’t lock it, and I’d hide in one of the back pews and recite the Lord’s Prayer or some of the psalms I’d memorized over and over again to soothe myself. I imagine it’s similar to that, and to Transcendental Meditation where you have a certain mantra that you can focus on to make things better.

Story is my mantra, my lord’s prayer, my escape from an awful childhood, the only hope when things are terrible. For me story is the only way I survive.

Having the physical proof of it, over and over again yesterday, was really enlightening.

Has anyone else gotten into a similar situation? And if things have been disastrous, what helped?

Mind you, I’m not comparing having a couple of impacted teeth out as the same as losing someone. When someone dies (or stuff on that level, like Richie’s heart-attack) you have to deal with it, work it through. But if you’re in the midst of a short-term, or even longer-term situation that’s unbearable, what do you turn to for calm, for relief, for succor?