Monthly Archives: January 2015

Start the Countdown

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The spouse and I are going out of town tomorrow until Monday. To Santa Fe, my favorite place in the world so far. About halfway there I will be so excited about where we’re going to eat I won’t be able to stand it. Then I’ll also want to stop in Albuquerque on the way so I can hit Buffalo Exchange and see if there are any thrifting scores waiting there for me. Once I walked in, spotted a pair of Italian-made, distressed leather ankle boots that are so pointy they are practically poulaine. But Western. They were in my size, and I galloped towards them and snatched them up like two lovers rushing toward one another on the beach. My spidey sense is certain there are good things waiting for me.

This is the second year that I have had the audacity to announce that I will be taking leave and cancelling my classes entirely because that’s what I feel like doing. There’s a lot of “we don’t ever take time off” and “we never take lunch breaks” and “have NEVER cancelled a class” attitude in my workplace and I realized last year that I don’t really care about winning the martyrdom contest. There is no reason I can’t go to Santa Fe and take two days off to do it. That’s why they give us leave. So, I am. And this time, even though the timing means I am missing two major departmental events, it wasn’t even that hard to do it. I can get used to this taking care of myself business.

Which is not to say that my anticipatory anxiety hasn’t spoken up (or nattered unceasingly) while planning the get away. I have worried that I will get my period this weekend (which I undoubtedly will) even though if my husband were to be the sort who would say that would “ruin” the weekend, he wouldn’t be my husband. But I guess, all things being equal, I’d really prefer not to have my period in a hotel room with a fireplace. I’ve worried that since snow is predicted, we won’t get to do anything except sob quietly into our hankies about my period. I’ve worried that the house sitter won’t be up to the task of my house, my dogs and, oh, my child. I’ve worried about money, about the child and child-minder picking the house up adequately for the maid, about the child eating enough, about falling down on a snowy sidewalk in Santa Fe, about whether or not it was a good idea not to take my car since I don’t drive the truck (and wouldn’t want to drive anything in the snow, anyway), about spending too much money, about my MIL dying before we get there or while we are there, etc, etc, etc.

Because let’s face it, worrying is what I do. But, each worry is punctuated by squealing because we really need a getaway and even if it does snow, that just means I get to wear a fabulous coat that gets worn about once every two years here. I will look good, and that comforts me.

So, The Dentist.

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Remember this?

Withdrawn.

Okay, conditionally withdrawn. I went for the “chat” last week, and he had researched EDS and was very interested in the EDNF.org patient resource guide for dentistry. He agreed orthodontics would be bad. He suggested that a splint that would level my bite at night would help take some strain off my jaw and hopefully slow down the deterioration. So they took impressions and scheduled me for today to try the thing on and adjust it. He said that he wanted me to try it for a month before I paid anything for it; if it doesn’t work for me he said there would be no charge. If it does work for me, it would run about $300.

This morning I got up and worried about leaving work and not being able to park when I got back (this is something I worry like a dog worries its favorite bone, Parking At Work, because I work at a university and parking is an Olympic sport). I told my husband that maybe I should blow off the appointment and buy shoes, since I *know* shoes make me happy.

O PROPHETIC WOMAN.

I truly thought I’d zip in and zip out. I sat down, the dentist told me that his assistant would put it in, check my bite, adjust it, and then I’d be finished. So, she went to put it in and then said she didn’t want to hurt my jaw so she had me put it in. It snapped in, but then, it wouldn’t come out. On the inside, I am instantly freaked out. It gets worse as she tries to pull it–and seemingly all my lower teeth–out. It fits over my bottom teeth, so she was pulling upward, really hard, on my lower jaw. Then she asked me to see if I could get it out again, but I could not budge it. I pointed out to her that I don’t have a lot of hand strength (see: ED-fucking-S). She kept trying, gashing my gum in the process so now the thing is stuck, my jaw is popping and I’m bleeding. She goes to get someone else, who “has smaller fingers than I do.” Smaller Fingers comes in and starts also trying to tug the thing upward. I hear the dentist go by and say he could cut it out if he had to and around about then the thing came out–surprisingly leaving my teeth in place.

At this point I probably should have had the balls to say, “I will come back another time.” But I was wanting it over with, and I am working really hard at not being such a people pleaser but it is especially hard where medical things are concerned. The dentist came in and apologized, “You are the worst person for this to have happened to, I am really sorry.” I forced myself not to apologize for being difficult and said, “Yes, that was not good.” They cut the thing way down, then we had to put it in and take it out a billion times. Finally I said, “I can do this one more time and then I’m going to have to come back another time.” They felt it was okay. The assistant said, “Um, I know you can’t take any pain medication, but I think you’ll probably be sore tonight so , uh, try to take it easy and relax, okay?” I wonder how she would feel if it were *her* going home knowing she would be in pain?

It was awful. I got to work, looked in my rear view to put on my lipstick and found a bruise at the corner of my mouth. It looks like I put an odd dot of lipstick there. There is a corresponding blood blister on the inside of my lip. My gums feel raw and shredded. My jaws are tightening and throbbing. I had that feeling that I had once again gotten on a ride that I have already ridden enough times to know that I hate it and I get hurt. Yet, there I was, with this thing that’s worth at least two pair of nice boots or one pair of Free People boots stuck in my mouth and someone trying to rip it out. Always, I want to hope that THIS TIME the thing we are doing will help, and once again, the thing we did not only didn’t help, but I got hurt.

It’s the crappiest carnival I have *ever* been to again.

“Why?” Is Probably a Useless Question

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Sometimes I wake up feeling low. I’m not in any more pain than usual, but I feel like I am defeated anyway. My brain reminds me that I live with this level of pain all the time, and do okay with it, so what’s the deal today? I review, as I lay in bed,all the things that are good:

We had friends over (impromptu) last night and clicked with them (couple friends are SO hard to find, it’s a tricky dynamic). We did not stay up too late, we did not over-imbibe, I didn’t eat too much, my stomach didn’t demand my attention at 3:00 am (Not much. All it needed was a glass of cold water to put it to bed). I did not wake up with my internal judge saying, “I can’t believe you said/did that!”

I have the next three days off work, I will have time to draw and sew, I feel inspired creatively.

So, then, what gives? My brain; really, my ego, could spend hours trying to figure out why I feel down and also judging me for feeling down and criticizing me for being down, running back to the above and demanding why I would be so perverse as to dare to feel down after a nice night? What the hell is wrong with you, my inner judge demands.

I try sometimes to imagine if someone else were telling me this, and what I would say.

Your pain level doesn’t have to change for you to have a day where even though you’ve carried this load well for X amount of time, you don’t have a moment where you are tired and resentful of the burden. If someone pinched you everyday, even though you know that it will hurt for a moment and feel better, you’d still probably have days where you felt like if someone pinched you even one more damn time, you might lose your mind—or even feel sad knowing that you’re going to be pinched every single day and fearful that someone might start pinching you two or more times a day, but there won’t be a day with no pinching ever again. 

The husband half of the new couple friends was interested in my gluten free status, and I said that I had tried it for joint pain, which hadn’t worked, but it did help my gut. This is my general very vague explanation. Later he asked me more about this joint pain, what was it, and I explained the whole EDS thing. His sister is an internist and rheumatologist who practices in a nearby (3 hours away) city, and sounds like a possible candidate to manage me. The wife half has a brother with an unusual genetic condition that the husband’s sister has helped with, so they are a bit familiar with my world.  My ego is like, “DUDE, that is seriously good news, what the hell is wrong with you?”

The fact that maybe finding a doctor is good news doesn’t also mean that you can’t wish you didn’t need a doctor and that you didn’t have anything so unusual wrong with you and that you don’t want people to feel sorry for you even as you know of course they would, who would want their friend to have this crappy disorder? They probably don’t view you as an object of pity, they just want to help–but it’s okay to wish you didn’t need any help in the first place. 

Also I hurt my thumb yesterday, doing something that I judge as being not a valid thing to hurt yourself doing. I was turning a piece of fabric that would be a tie on a dress, and the pinching and pulling action of doing that suddenly hurt like hell and made it feel like I’d torn my thumb out of the socket. Which, maybe I did, that can happen. It’s a small thing, though, and there are better ways to accomplish what I was doing so that it isn’t as painful but dammit, there is a lot riding on my hands not breaking down, even as I know they are.

Of course you are going to feel upset by being defeated by what seems like a small task–we know the big things we can’t do, but when we run into these tiny things it’s terribly frustrating and scary. Also, given that you can’t take anything for pain, *any* new pain feels a little bit like it’s just way too much to deal with. That’s perfectly understandable. 

But, I do not have time for this feeling. I need to be steaming forward on my life, not sitting around feeling like crying over things I can’t do anything about. I’ve got stuff to do, and I want to do it. I haven’t got space in my life for moping.

Maybe you should take it easy on yourself. Let yourself feel how you are feeling. Crying isn’t the worst activity in the world, you know. Give yourself a break. 

Ah, yes. Give myself a break. So much harder than it sounds.

Honestly.

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It’s raining. It’s been gray for oh, I don’t know, the last five days or seven hundred years or anyway, I’ve had enough. Yeah, sure, like all my friends growing up in the desert Southwest I said, in high school, “WHEN I CAN I’M MOVING TO SEATTLE WHERE IT RAINS EVERY GODDAMNED DAY BECAUSE.”  Then, I got to move to upstate New York and one day my mother in law called me and said, “You might have Seasonal Affective Disorder, get some plant lights.” I had NO IDEA how much I needed the sun and how depressing a dark house is or how wrong it was to plant those plant-light nurtured gardenias in the front bed as we left military housing. I bet they were dead before we even got off post. I’m sorry, gardenias, please let the sun come back.

But this grayness, it is too much. As I sat through a three and a half hour meeting today in an entirely glass room (the curtains were mostly closed) where I could see all that gorgeous weather, I could appreciate it, yet still I wanted to crawl under the table with my blankie and take a nap. Instead my coworker and I texted each other about how awful the meeting was, how awesome my new purse is, and I doodled a billion odd women and a few men on the agenda. I mostly stuck to my resolution to observe and find humor, so when my other coworker The Director made his stand on an issue and began speaking in slogans I giggled quietly to myself, and when Mr. Wonderful who is, like, 14 (I am that age now where everyone seems too young to drive or even tie their shoes yet they seem to have jobs and can prescribe medication) misunderstood the question and gifted us with wise ideas for fundraising that were right up there with “bake sale” I tittered softly. When Ms Amazing (this is not a sarcastic title, unlike Mr. Wonderful, which is TOTALLY sarcastic) filled a plastic coffee mug with leftover sweet potato salad I pointed out that it looked like she’d just puked in her mug at a frat party and she was not particularly happy with my imagery but I found myself pretty damn funny.

The meeting is over, which is awesome, although it is still raining, which is decidedly not awesome. My body does not like the cold at all; my internal thermometer and thermostat are unregulated like the 1929 stock market and I am frequently suddenly FREEZING and my hands go numb and I can’t warm up and then suddenly I am ROASTING my god it’s so hot, etc. This is not optimal for a person who is almost always dressed to the point of wearing a costume and wants to look cool and otherworldly instead of old and vaguely weird. Vaguely; ha ha, VAGUELY is not part of my presentation. WEIRD, on the other hand, plays a strong role.

Tomorrow is the first day of classes and I need to be ready to sling some amazeballs at those hungry college students so that they fear, respect and admire me all at once. This is generally doable, but I swear ta gawd I’m going to need some SUNLIGHT.

Collecting. No, Seriously, Hoarding.

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I collect a lot of things. Ball pitchers, vintage clothes, vintages shoes, mannequins, tea cups, creamers, buttons, vintage aprons, 50s tablecloths….A lot of things.

The other day I violated several of my restrictions and got a stepladder and hauled down a bin of mystery things. In there I found the rest of my vintage aprons and a very large number of vintage handkerchiefs. They have been in a box for over three years, which means I don’t guess I have a lot of plans for them. Thus, it’s probably time to liquidate it down to only the very most fabulous.

I started today with the white handkerchiefs:

This set of seven. 

These two lovelies. 

Virginal white-on-whites.

The hardest to part with. 

I am really trying to manage this Etsy business better, but the key thing is that stuff needs to sell. Gotta get that part moving.

Because Not Everything Sucks All The Time

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Last time I went to the dentist, my jaw tried to slip out on the right side and got about halfway there before I made it go back. That was just because I had experimentally opened my mouth before hygienist put anything in there. Long story short, I couldn’t eat anything solid for five days afterwards, and asked to be put on a 9-month recall. So it was with no small amount of anxiety and concern that I approached my dental appointment yesterday. I told the hygienist straight up that I was pretty freaked out about it, too, and had arranged my massage for immediately afterwards in the hopes that the massage therapist could help if anything had completely gone to hell.

Also, I would add, I HATE having my teeth cleaned. The scraping means I have goosebumps running up and down my body the entire time. The hygienist offered small bite blocks, that meant I wouldn’t have to work to hold my mouth open, which was brilliant. She gave me rests between each step. My dentist listened to the story afterward and we played the EDS Patient Game.

Dentist: Let’s get her some Ibuprofen

EDS Me: I can’t take any NSAIDS.

Dentist: Oh, okay, let’s get her some valium.

EDS Me: I can’t take anything in that world, my PCP hooked me on them and I spent the summer withdrawing.

Dentist: Have you tried Physical Therapy?

EDS Me: They routinely injure me. It’s a no-go.

Dentist: Let’s set up a consult where we aren’t rushing, okay? I’m leaving you a bottle of wine at the front desk.

I’ll get back to that consult in a sec, but the positive thing is that while I was not pain-free after the appointment, between their measures and my massage therapist, I can eat and nothing is subluxated or dislocated. That’s a win.

I did set up the consult, but I have my doubts. My teeth only touch in two places, so I know a big piece of trying to help the jaw stuff is going to be braces. But I a) am about to put braces on the youngest child so $$$ and b) cannot take anything for pain so: suckage. I will hear him out but I suspect it will be kind of like the EDS Patient Game all over again. I like the hell out of my dentist and not just because he gives me booze, but I am WAY nervous, as usual, about attempting to do anything.

But I can eat food today, and that’s a hell of lot better than I expected.

In An Ongoing Series of Small Steps

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I mentioned in my December 31 post that I continue to be somewhat stuck artistically when it comes to drawing. Nothing will change overnight, and I doubt that sudden change would even be that healthy, really. However, I’ve started spending some time each morning pinning illustrations that I like to this Pinterest board. I zip through really fast, simply pinning anything that speaks to me at all, pushing away the little voice that says, “But that’s not consistent with what you have already pinned” or “You pick the same image over and over again” (this critic also likes to point out to me that I buy the same painting over and over again). I just pin. Pin, pin, pin, immerse, pin.

Immersion. Getting lost in it. This morning I read this post by Terri Windling, whose blog I follow and lurk at, and admittedly often skim because she writes a lot, and a lot of it is about writing, not drawing. I have long understood that perfectionism is, indeed, a problem for me. Starting my art journal late last year was intended to help with that–a completely secret thing where it doesn’t matter what I draw. Even then, I relentlessly critique it. I force myself to cross out a word I spelled wrong and NOT tear out the page and move on. I resist the voice that suggests that my composition lacks balance on the page. Somewhere, underneath that voice, I know that what is valuable; visually and otherwise, is the journal in its totality, not a page with a weird space at the bottom, or a crooked drawing.

As mentioned in her post, I also know exactly who I take into the studio with me; my father. Oh, my father, who encouraged me to make art and then relentlessly, endlessly criticized it and me. All of those events are taped and neatly filed in my brain and I can take them out and relive them anytime. I would like to stop doing that. I would like, very much, to un-invite my father to my work. To close the door before he steps into my studio. My secretiveness about my artwork stems from him pawing through it without permission, sometimes even taking things and adding to them. I drew all the time as a kid, sitting on the floor at the coffee table with a sketchbook and pencil, and my dad sniping constantly, questioning my process, my subject matter, my choices. Eventually he won, and I stopped drawing at the coffee table and took it to my room. And then years later, I would sometimes stop altogether, sometimes for months or even for years. I still do.

I have let go of perfectionism when it comes to sewing, though, so I sew all the time. My father doesn’t know a single thing about sewing, or about costume design, for that matter, and he knows very little about me as stitching artist, because he died before I found this world. He can’t enter this part of my life, he’s never been here before. Other critics, my co-worker who can sometimes be scathing, even, don’t bother me. I can see their jabs as simply their own insecurities, and I know I am very, very good at what I do, even as I have so much to continue to learn. Which is not to say that I don’t sometimes catch myself, particularly at work, wanting to start my project alone, secretly, so no one can question what I am doing, or apologizing for an imperfection before anyone else can criticize it. But I am much, much better at letting go of all of that where sewing is concerned.

Drawing is a lot closer to my core, it is a much more vulnerable process. I took so much of it into my own interior that now it has trouble getting out into the world. I think I took it prisoner when I meant to make it safe. That is something I would like to manage this year; I’d like to let it out of jail. My art journal, my other work, they are all little releases–a little work-release as it were–but the full-on jailbreak is still ahead of me. Terri’s post mentions several keys that might unlock some of the locks, which is very positive.

Tiny, Tiny, Tiny steps.

It’s Not Like I’m Not Doing Anything

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So far, I’m making good on my decision to try better attend to my Etsy store, because at some point it’s got to stop costing me money instead of making money.

Also, I had one of those thrifting days yesterday where everywhere I went I was golden. GOLDEN.

Newly listed patterns, including one that is worth A LOT according to the internetz:

Vogue Paris Original 1690 Yves Saint Laurent from the 1960s

Vogue American Designer Pattern from the 1990s with cover model who looks like Elaine on Seinfeld

A fabulous 1940s Advance pattern for a men’s rockabilly Western Shirt with very unusual construction

Beautiful 1970s Maxi/Mini Dress pattern combo with gorgeous cover art 

Some beautiful, one of a kind mini spats that I made and hand beaded myself

A mint condition 70s cotton velveteen blazer that would wake you up out of a coma

A seductively prim secretary blouse just waiting for you to untie her

The perfect 1980s Vintage Banana Republic blouse 

So, get with it and GO SHOPPING.