Perhaps I should have mopped the floor, for it is rather dirty. Instead, though, I did half a dozen loads of laundry, and got out the wrapping paper. 'Tis the season.
I like to wrap presents: it is an opportunity to reflect on the presents' receivers -- what they are like, what might be meaningful to them, whether they will be pleased with the offerings. It brings me hope and joy.
This is my favorite part of the holidays: giving gifts.
As we go into the third day in a row that I have attended scheduled social gatherings, I find myself longing to just stay home and mop my kitchen floor.
The people involved all are quite pleasant; and there has been enjoyable conversation and plenty of good humor. Nevertheless, I am tired. I can only use the "small talk and careful attention to unfamiliar people and conversations" portions of my brain for so long, before they become fatigued. It has been described as Introvert Hangover, and I want nothing more than some Alone Time in familiar surroundings.
This December, the country music station has been more appealing than the Christmas music station. While normally I enjoy holiday songs, I am not quite in the mood right now.
Perhaps it is because the nest is so very empty. Offspring the First spontaneously ventured forth and obtained her own apartment recently; and Offspring the Second and Offspring the Third are still away at school. And when Beloved Husband works late, as he frequently does (we admire his dedication and perseverance), it is just me, the chihuahuas, the elderly hamster, and the voice of Jim Dale narrating the Harry Potter audiobooks, as we dine alone in the kitchen. I do like to imagine what the Great Hall of Hogwarts would look like with its twelve Christmas trees, magically adorned.
In these times, we tune in to country music. (It is, I realize, much like disco for heartache.) I prefer the sentimental songs and the sad songs, right now. There might be a touch of winter melancholy creeping within the silence of the house.
Tonight's earworm: a quiet song from Miranda Lambert: Over You.
Today marks the beginning of the final year of there being a teenager in the nuclear family, as Offspring the Third turns 19. Kind of heart and generous of spirit, he brightens the world around him, every day. Happy birthday, Offspring the Third. I love you.
Once, on a family trip, a bird sat atop Offspring the Third's hat.
He was quite pleased.
The picture tugs at my heart, now that he is all grown up.
I have received results from the first step of the Task. I am relieved to report that it went better than I expected. Relief.
I think back to the moment a month ago when I finished the first step. I sat in my car, thoroughly dismayed. As I contemplated breaking my general self-imposed taboo against making phone calls -- so much was I in need of a reassuring voice -- I cast my mind forward to the larger steps of the Task, and was overwhelmed by the difficulty of it all. Could I even express my doubts and fears without my voice breaking? So uncertain, the future. So tired, my mind.
I allowed myself a half day of sorrow and dismay; a further day of non-thought; and then it was time to move forward. So much to do.
Today:the results came in. On a strangely calculated scale scored between 50 and 150, I needed a minimum of 85 to move forward.
I received 127.
I will not rest on this success; there is much work yet to be done. For a shining moment today, though, the future of the Task seemed to speak of possibilities, rather than of impossibilities.
A fragment from On Love, by Kahlil Gibran (from The Prophet)
When love beckons to you, follow him, Though his ways are hard and steep. And when his wings enfold you yield to him, Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you. And when he speaks to you believe in him, Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.
For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning. Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun, So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.
Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself. He threshes you to make you naked. He sifts you to free you from your husks. He grinds you to whiteness. He kneads you until you are pliant; And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God's sacred feast.
All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life's heart.
I feel as though I ought to talk about all the somewhat complex yet mundane happenings of the past few weeks -- yet I do not feel up to going into detail, somehow. I shall give the nutshell version.
There was a lot of physical minutiae -- the recovery from the MOHS surgery (which is going well, I am glad to say); endoscopy and colonoscopy to investigate and ensure nothing more sinister than IBS is brewing in my innards (the results did not reveal anything significant, mercifully, and so we assume IBS and proceed accordingly); plus additional doctor visits to address other uncomfortable issues (which are improving, I am happy to report). I am mentally exhausted from the necessary physical invasions, and still experiencing occasional flashbacks of previous unpleasant medical occasions. I need more quiet, tender touch, to balance out the unpleasantness.
Also: there was Thanksgiving, which entailed some very enjoyable cooking, and a house full of my very favorite people. Lovely -- yet also a wee bit mentally taxing, as each person has their own individual needs to which to attend. I now need some quiet, alone time, in which to reflect fondly upon my favorite people, to appreciate them, and to miss them.
I am not sure how to self-care right now. I would spend some time organizing my abode to quiet my mind, but there is much work at Work to be done. Alas.
Some wee little rodent-like animal chose to dig itself a new back door immediately adjacent to our campsite this past weekend. We enjoyed watching it pop in and out of the ground, throwing piles of earth and dragging the occasional bit of plant matter back into its lair. I wish I could have gotten a good picture of the varmint, but alas, it was far too speedy to do so.
Good luck wintering in the wilds, wee critter. Thank you for your amusing and entertaining appearance.
Beloved Husband, Cherished Friend, and I spent the past weekend camping in the wilds of New Mexico. It was decidedly... primitive camping. with not even an available latrine. The temperature dropped significantly at night, to the point that I actually took a warmed rock from the campfire ring into my tent to keep my feet warm. (It was decidedly helpful to do so.) The campsite was wonderfully remote -- hardly another person to be seen or heard -- and the night sky was just lovely.
Part of me feels I might deserve a small round of applause for managing to maintain a pristine surgical scar, as well as to follow the low-FODMAP (anti-IBS) diet suggested by the GI doctor and to take care of all associated bodily functions in the woods, for the weekend. Yet another part of me needs no applause, but rather is quite satisfied that we did not treat me as a fragile incapable flower, but instead went about our business and pursued simple adventures in spite of my temporarily-increased physical neediness.
I did not go for a hike -- though I would have enjoyed it -- because I did not want to push myself too hard at that time. Instead, I took a close look at all the lichens and trees in our camp, and surveyed the number of small animal burrows in the vicinity. Simple pleasures.
I also enjoyed watching the two Menfolk make their way up the side of a big hill as they hiked. Snatches of their conversation drifted over the valley, indistinct, yet clear enough for me to hear the comforting tenor of their voices. It warms my heart to see the two of them together, taking some time to relax and enjoy the out-of-doors. Good for them.
"You have a very small nose," the doctor said, as he put in the sutures. Apparently a larger nose is better for such things, but he managed to work well with the small nose just the same.
As expected, MOHS surgery was necessary for a second time. It was not terrible, all things considered, though the sensation of having skin manipulated this way and that was distinctly unpleasant. It is a two centimeter line, and in time, it will likely fade just as the first one did.
My face hurts. There was only one day of significant pain last time, though, so I am hoping that by this time tomorrow, things will improve.
(I was warned that my eyes might swell shut two to three days later. Oh, dear. Let us hope that does not happen.)
I am the designated Remover of Insects at work. Just the other day I relocated a very pretty spider from a stack of papers in the copy room to a bush outside. 'Twas a pity I did not have an opportunity to take a picture of it first. Perhaps next time.
I have taken on a task (henceforth known as The Task) - it is a lengthy, challenging, onerous task, but for reasons that are best left unexplained, it must be done. It will take a full year before we know whether I am successful at The Task. We shall see.
Tomorrow is a small step within the much larger Task. Am I sufficiently prepared? How will this piece of The Task go? I will be glad when this piece is (momentarily) over, at any rate.
All will be revealed, in due course. Have patience.
I thought I had reached the pinnacle of rage-overload from the politics of today, but found myself enraged anew today.
By whom? Actor Kevin Spacey.
Mr. Spacey responded to the revelation of another actor, Anthony Rapp -- who was subjected to an inappropriate sexual advance by Mr. Spacey when Mr. Rapp was fourteen years old, and Mr. Spacey 26 -- in a manner that not only was a self-serving non-apologetic "apology", but also will be harmful to the LGBT community.
Here, you can read it in all its self-centered glory, before you move on to my diatribe:
Shame on you, Kevin Spacey, for conflating "gay man" with "assaulter of teenage boy". The two have nothing to do with one another, and by mentioning them together in a pseudo-apologetic statement (and simultaneously hiding behind the excuse of drunkenness), you have provided fuel for homophobic vitriol. And you have provided further ammunition by stating that you "choose" to live as a gay man -- as if one's biological drive is somehow a choice. You have fed into every single one of the oft-cited and thoroughly erroneous reasons for discriminatory and violent treatment of gay men. You are disgusting.
P!nk, one of my favorite pop stars, has a new album out, titled Beautiful Trauma.
The music is excellent. The title annoys me.
There is nothing beautiful about trauma. The idea that we are somehow made better, spiritually or otherwise, by undergoing pain and difficulty is a fallacy that we tell ourselves to help us to get through arduous circumstances.
We don't get a medal for suffering. We get nothing, except for suffering.
I am currently coordinating medical care for myself. I've reached an Age and state of health where there are certain physical systems that warrant periodic preventive/maintenance care, and there are other physical systems that (at the moment) spontaneously require additional care. It is frustrating for a number of reasons, the very least of which is the amount of time and mental energy and phone calls required to get everything lined up properly without conflicting.
(I do feel compelled to say as a side note that I am grateful for the health insurance I have. I am, very much so. Yet thoughts that "other people have it worse health-wise" or "other people don't even have insurance," though correct, do not much mitigate my current state of annoyance and frustration at all the minor bodily issues I am encountering. Perhaps this is self-centered thinking. Ultimately, though, this is about self -- the body I inhabit.)
I tend to want to avoid problems -- especially physical complaints -- in the hopes that they resolve themselves on their own. Sometimes, they do. Sometimes, they don't. And I have to fight against a strange yet deeply-ingrained idea, that to admit to a need for medical care is somehow a failure, a sign of personal weakness. To be vulnerable, especially physically, is so very intolerable a thought, that I push to the limits of my acceptance of things that aren't quite right, or are uncomfortable.
I have decided, though: enough.
I will put aside my fears of having to explain myself to a stranger with a stethoscope, in order to maximize the help this body gets. This body is not without flaws; yet the discomforts and questions of this body are deserving of comfort and answers, and it is up to me to do the best I can to find both. No one else can, and no one else will.
Today, I addressed errands/tasks for three of the four other people in the household, plus one of the dogs: the bank, a series of onerous phone calls, the pharmacy, and the vet's office. Tomorrow, I will tackle an errand for the fourth person in the household, plus follow-up on some of today's tasks: a different pharmacy, a different bank, more phone calls.
I do not undertake these chores for my household members begrudgingly. As the person who pays the bills and keeps track of medical information (both human and canine), I am best suited for these tasks. And I do, truth be told, derive a certain sense of satisfaction in being helpful to my Important People. Can I ease someone's burden by undertaking a chore for them? I am all over that.
I confess, though:
I wish I had someone like myself to undertake onerous tasks for me.
And I wish I were comfortable asking someone to undertake such onerous tasks.
The people nearest to me are all limited in their own ways -- time, availability, other Valid Reasons for being unable to assist. I do not hold it against them. They help when they can, if I ask: the floor gets mopped, the dishwasher emptied. I still must conduct the organization and the delegation. Someone must keep track of It All, and I am that Someone.
Just the mental labor is tiring. Yet, it is all part and parcel of being a responsible adult.
Sometimes, I wish for a reprieve from being the responsible adult.
Somewhere, in some mythical land, there is someone -- a house elf? -- who anticipates what needs doing, and handles things quietly in the background, and lo and behold things would get done without my assistance or direction. It would be a magnificent relief not to have to keep track, to plan, to make lists, to point out what needs doing, to follow through. Aaah. That would be lovely.
Perhaps I should check the wardrobes for doors to Narnia. One can always hope.
NinjaHead resides with a muffin-baking woman known herein as Herself. Herself has a Beloved Husband, with whom she shares three nearly-grown Offspring. When she is not writing Things, Herself nurtures a visceral fondness for small furry creatures. The household menagerie, which has varied in size and composition over the years, presently contains a minuscule middle aged chihuahua, a most mild-mannered senior chihuahua, and a very small hamster who, due to the prominence of his gonads, seems to need trousers for decency.