~~ "She has so many aliases, you'd think she was a spy!" ~~

Monday, December 31, 2012

The slow progress back towards the light

I started this blog post about a month ago, which tells you how difficult it’s been for me to write. But despite how hard it is to look back at the bad, it’s also proving cathartic, because it’s making me celebrate the good and look forward to the…um, gooder. More goodness. Better goodness.

So, here goes:

Roughly a year ago, I…
  • was still recovering from the death of my father in January 2010
  • was continuing to deal with my oldest sister’s severe aneurysm in December 2010 and the resultant cross-country travel (four times in seven months, and counting…)
  • was reeling from Ken’s near-fatal motorcycle accident, major surgery, and recovery (which necessitated my being his primary caregiver for several months)
  • assumed I was just dealing with stress, and didn’t know that my perimenopause had turned into menopause and that my hormones were, quite frankly, FUBAR
  • was so wound up in perfectionism that when I tore a tendon in my left hand and it hurt to do dishes and my acupuncturist suggested I use paper plates and disposable tableware, I almost levitated off the table in horror
  • not to mention that I’d just torn a tendon in my left hand and had been told not to type for four months, meaning I couldn’t do much of anything work-wise
  • continued to do the jobs I’d volunteered for because I didn't want to let anyone down, fully convinced I could do them despite the energy I was putting into taking care of my loved ones (and not putting into taking care of myself)
  • wondered why some people I’d long called friends had seemingly abandoned me
  • was seriously wondering if I’d ever write again, given that I couldn’t find the enthusiasm for even stupid only-I-would-ever-read-it fun stuff—which then made me wonder WTH I was going to do with the rest of my life and, honestly, who I was if I wasn’t a writer, which I’d identified myself as and worked towards since I was 12 years old
There was probably more, but you get the picture.

I’ve been pondering, over the past month or two, how different my life is now. How much better it is. How I didn’t realize how fucking awful it was a year ago, how depressed and anxious and screwed up and lost I was.

The irony is that in public—on my blog, on FB/Twitter, even to anyone except close friends/family—I put on a good face. (As good a face I could, anyway. I know my stress manifested in less-than-positive ways.) I asked for help, and when I didn’t get it, I shrugged and soldiered on, because that’s what one does.

My goal here isn’t to garner sympathy (in fact, responses to that end would probably make me feel bad at this point). It’s more to chronicle the changes for myself, to be able to look back and say “Yes, it was horrible, but I got through it, and if/when things get horrible again, this will remind me that I can and will get through it again.” (Although I’m putting the positive out there that it’s not going to get that horrible again.)

Things are so, so, so much better. My health isn’t perfect, but it feels like a 180 in some areas. December’s month-long cold notwithstanding, I have energy, I have strength. I ran my first full 5K a month ago. I can do double suspension exercises in the TRX bands. I go up and down the stairs without thinking about it (as opposed to when my back was so bad, if I forgot something on one floor, I simply went on without it).

I have my brain back, and I have some of my creativity back, and it’s coming back more and more, and I know that eventually I’ll get my focus back (I see that as something to work on, not wait for, at any rate).

I’m excited about moving my business into the upstairs office, where I’ll have more room to both write and publish, and I’m excited about doing some more fun work on the house in the process (e.g., the downstairs office).

I’ve let go of the so-called friends who had already let go of me, and found great joy in the amazing friends who stood by me through the worst of times. I’ve spent quality time with family, and rejoiced in my sister’s slow but steady successes.

I was reminded, time and again, how music heals me, how it reaches into my soul and helps me find the light. It’s my sacred circle, my way of connecting with the divine.

All of this spirals down into the tattoo I got in the middle of all the darkness: The Good Catches Up. Sometimes it takes a little while, but in the end, it does.

I’m going to keep putting the good out there into the world, and tomorrow I’ll talk about my plans for the beginning of 2013 and beyond.

A magickal New Year’s Eve to you all. Leave the bad behind in 2012, and embrace the good!

Listening to: “New Year’s Eve,” Taylor Mills

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The holidaze

On Christmas Day we slept in, which nixed our plans of seeing an early show of The Hobbit, which we still have not seen. (I clutch my geek crown against my head and stubbornly refuse to let go, despite the truth.) We ate breakfast, exchanged gifts, as one does. The night before we opened one gift, and mine was a special episode of the British SF comedy show Red Dwarf. I had no idea they were still making episodes. On Christmas Day, I opened my next present and laughed and laughed and laughed: A boxed set of the first eight seasons! And apparently season nine is on order. Goodness. Or “smeg off, you smeghead.”

That afternoon we went to Ken’s dad’s wife’s son’s house (don’t worry, it confuses me, too, sometimes). We go there once a year, descending right about the time a sumptuous buffet dinner is served, and yet they greet us, near strangers, with warmth and hospitality, for which every year I am humbled. They gave us a bottle of merlot, and then Ken’s dad and wife gave us an automated wine bottle opener—once again, I laughed and laughed. They all swear they were not in collusion over this!

We then came home, watched the Doctor Who Christmas special (I’m liking Oswin/Clara/?? and am intrigued by her possibilities), and fell over.

We got up early this morning to work out with our trainer, although with both of us still being sick, wasn’t the most strenuous she’d ever put us through, but at least we were there and tried. We came home and dove into brunch preparations, as Ken’s brother and wife and three boys, along with Ken’s mom, were headed here for Boxing Day. (Although I’m apparently the only person who calls it Boxing Day, much to everyone else’s confusion.) Steve and Joelle haven’t had the chance to visit us since we moved here eight years ago, so this was quite a treat! We hauled out the china and I realized I had to polish silver (dammit), and we bustled around and thankfully they got a late start so we were able to get everything ready in time.

The menu:
  • build-your-own-breakfast-burrito-bar: wraps, scrambled eggs, spicy chicken sausage, hash browns, mushrooms, green onions, green pepper, kalamata olives, cheddar, feta, salsa, sour cream (I hope I’m not forgetting anything…!)
  • scones (delicious! made by Ken’s mom) with pomegranate jam and lemon curd and clotted cream
  • fruit salad (made by Joelle—so many nummy fruits!)
  • mimosas
  • bloody marys (nobody had any, which was fine)
  • juices
  • coffee and tea

I had an amusing moment when we decided mimosas were the drink of the day: I removed the foil and twisty wire bit from the champagne, then turned to fold a kitchen towel to place over the cork (because I know the proper way to open champagne is to hold the towel over the cork and gently twist the bottle). As I was turned away, the cork blew! It bounced off the ceiling, hit me on the head, bounced up again, landed on the floor, and rolled under a cabinet. I confess I shrieked in surprise. But nary a drop was lost, which is the important thing (that, and no light fixtures were damaged, unlike when Ken opens champagne).

The boys had brought their new Christmas bicycles, so the menfolk all rode to the beach (about 3.5 miles away) while I tried to give the house tour to Joelle (and Mom, but she’s been here tons of times), but we were drinking mimosas, so it took a little longer than usual.

When we opened presents, I had to laugh again—apparently the theme of this holiday was food and cooking and whatnot. Steve & Joelle gave us homemade spiced nuts, along with pizza oil and a flatbread pizza crust mix, and Mom gave us glass food storage containers (see my last post! but I overheard Ken suggesting this to her earlier, so…) and a garlic grater and a baked potato bag. (My sister Donna had given us an oil sprayer and a bottle of Carmel Valley oil, and then of course there was the previously mentioned wine and wine bottle opener.)

Eventually they had to head home, and I spent the rest of the evening doing rounds of dishes (lots and lots of my grandmother’s china and Ken’s grandmother’s silver), in between curling up to watch various things with Ken.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Food, glorious food!

I’m finally starting to feel better from cold #2 (which came on the heels of cold #1, thanks to Ken bringing it home with him), which means food other than mac-and-cheese (albeit organic whole wheat mac-and-cheese) is sounding appealing to me. Plus we did a major shopping today because we’re hosting Boxing Day brunch for Ken’s brother and sister-in-law and their three boys and Ken’s mom.

I don’t enjoy cooking, but I enjoy eating, and it’s nice to be interested in something more than mac-and-cheese and fresh meals from Trader Joe’s and Fresh & Easy. I did make a huge vat of split pea soup last week; a good chunk of that is in the freezer (along with the vat of red sauce I made) and I even gave a goodly amount to our tenant.

Here’s what’s on tap for the next few days:

Tonight’s dinner will be Mongolian-type stir-fry with veggies, tofu, and noodles. I actually bought most of the ingredients last week but we’ve been way to tired to cook them, so I’m glad they’re still good.

Tonight I’ll also be throwing a mess of onions in the slow cooker to caramelize overnight, in preparation for a near-future slow cooker French onion soup. I’ve got the cheese to shred (a gruyere/cheddar mix), and an adorable tiny whole wheat loaf from TJ’s to go with it.

At some point there’ll also be a vat of sloppy joes in the slow cooker, some of which we’ll freeze. Freezer’s getting full…!

We’ve got a great two-bean soup with sausage (we use a chicken-herb sausage from TJ’s) and kale recipe that’ll happen soon, too. Now that the weather’s turned cold (and is so pleasantly overcast and sometimes even rainy!) I want hearty soups and stews, and soups in particular are a great way to load up on healthy veggies!

For brunch, we’re having a make-your-own-breakfast-burrito bar (TJ’s whole wheat olive oil wraps, scrambled eggs, hash browns, cheddar-gruyere and feta cheeses, mushrooms, chopped tomatoes, green onion, green pepper, salsa, sour cream…I feel like I'm forgetting something), scones (Ken’s mom’s bringing those) with clotted cream and lemon curd and jam, fruit salad (via Ken’s sister-in-law), and various drinks (coffee, tea, bloody marys, mimosas).

Right now, though, it’s time to stop thinking about food, continue sipping my Duchess Grey tea, and get back to work!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Question for my foodie and health-conscious friends

I think I’ve mentioned here a few times that Ken and I have revamped (and continue to revamp) our eating habits, cutting out processed foods as much as we can, eating as clean as possible, etc. I’ve cut out sugar and am frequently dairy free (barring milk in my tea). And so on.

Another step in that direction was to send all our old nonstick cookware off to a charity shop and replace it all with Pyrex (charity shops, ebay, and one of my sisters have been fabulous in that regard). Now I’m frowning at all the plastic cooking spoons, spatulas, etc., and wondering what to replace those with (especially since they’re starting to flake off at the edges. Ew!). That’s where I need your advice, my pets!

Wooden? If so, are there some that are better than others? I have one set of wooden spoons and one of them is developing splinters. I don’t want to eat wood…

Stainless steel? Or would this scratch the Pyrex?


And what about food storage? Are BPA-free plastic containers really safe? Or should we switch to glass (which has the downside of being pricey)? Our current containers are old and also flaking, and I’ve already gotten into the habit of transferring contents to a glass bowl before microwaving. I’ve also been slapping plastic wrap over leftovers on a plate or in a bowl rather than transferring the contents into a container. I don’t use the plastic wrap when I re-heat in the microwave, but there’s a part of me that doesn’t like the waste of plastic wrap (i.e., use it and then toss it).

Bonus points to suggestions that are eco-friendly as well. Thanks! xo

Come Together yet again!

Like to donate to worthy charities? Like super-sexy vampires? Then pick yourself up a copy of the new Coming Together: In Vein erotica anthology, proceeds from which will go to Doctors Without Borders!

To sweeten the deal, let me note that it contains a reprint of my story “Devouring Heart.” I’m always glad to donate one of my stories to the Coming Together series!