Hanten Mantra

an older progress picture of my Hanten by Cheryl Oberle.

One of the hardest parts knitting for me is sustaining interest in projects. As a product knitter, I want the result of my knitting. Unless the knitting itself is engaging, I have difficulty maintaining my focus and dedication on the work until the end.

I want this sweater.

I know my Hanten will be a favorite once I finish it. I can already tell that I will reach for it again and again because I like its organic nature. I like its imperfections, and it’s simple shape.

I want this sweater.

It’s the right color. It fits my aesthetic. It fits my style, Classics with a Twist. In this case, two twists: It’s kimono – traditional Japanse clothing vs. a straight up western piece -, and it’s knit, which is not usual for this kind of piece at all. (I’m not sure that it’s actually a hanten in the strictest sense of the word, but it was inspired by the shape of the hanten, and that’s the name of the pattern, so that’s what I’m calling it.)

I want this sweater.

I just need to finish knitting this sweater, and that’s what’s proving problematic. My subversive instinct isn’t working in my favor for self-motivation. I need to kick it in on myself. I’m bucking “The Man” by finishing this sweater. Big Fashion doesn’t want me to succeed. They want me to give them money for a sweater that’s their vision, not mine. This is my sweater, my vision.

I want this sweater.

I just really kind of want it to knit itself and be magically finished already. Oh, for a pair of self-knitting needles, like Mrs. Weasley had in the Harry Potter books and movies! Now that would be an excellent gift.

The Mouse In the Cupboard

Sometimes I wonder what the mouse in the cupboard, the silent observers in all our lives, must be thinking. I spend a pretty high portion of my life trying to keep everything together and running, trying to be high functioning and independent despite the number of factors that seem to be conspiring to take that independence from me.

In April I see a pulmonologist for my asthma. I’ve never had to see a specialist for it before, but I’ve never really had a winter as hard on my lungs as this winter has been before, either. Since Symbicort rather quickly proved it wasn’t helpful to me, I don’t know that I have much in the way of choice in the matter. A more expert opinion might give me more options. (I do so like the breathing, after all.)

My primary care physician is trying to convince me that I might want to see a rheumatologist for the fibromyalgia, too. I’m not sure I’m ready to admit defeat on that front. Defeat and specialist means potentially beginning another round of using myself as a test subject and potentially having another round of awful side effects and the less than stellar mood that goes with that. 

I’d rather get my lungs back under me so I can exercise more. I’ve always had better luck on that front than with throwing meds at whatever was acting up.
Yes, I’m still a little cranky about both the Symbicort (side effect: instant asthma attack – just add trying to take Symbicort) and the Tamiflu (side effect – all the stomach problems and a side of dizzy to remind me that I’ve been taking not being dizzy for granted lately.) What the actual hell, Big Pharma? Do none of you bastards in the finance end of things saying “Push the anti-viral. We’re stuck with it.” ever have side effects?

And then there’s the thing that lurks in the background. The thing we’re watching and that scares me the most. The thing that I don’t say on this blog – that I don’t tell most people. 

When I go for my follow-up with my primary care physician (also in April) we’ll check on that, too. She says not to worry. She says to follow my diet and be judicious and that I can hold the line where things stand. Things don’t have to progress.

Does the mouse in the cupboard see it all? Does he see the face I want him to see? The mostly happy, confident woman who is grateful for all the loving people and good things in her life. 

Or does he see how afraid I am underneath it all that I’m not going to be able to hold this all together? That I fear the day is coming when there won’t be enough red lipstick and carefully curated clothing to hide behind. The dam will burst and everyone will see the truth: none of this is easy. I may not be missing a limb, but I’m not an able person. I’m chronically ill with multiple coexisting conditions and I’m having more days where that’s showing. 

I’ve been very lucky to be as able as I have been my adult life and I’m scared as hell that I’m losing my hold on that. I’m afraid of what will happen if that happens. How will I support myself? How do I keep from becoming a burden to society? Will I be able to maintain my level of maintenance medical care?
Should I just stop trying to act like everything’s normal and fine for the benefit of the mouse in the cupboard? Days are good and days are challenging. They’re going to be that way whether I pretend I’m fine or not. Maybe gracefully dropping the act would give me more energy to focus on the things that matter most: Friends. Family. Being a benefit in the world.

Pretty much everything but that mouse in the cupboard, who likely has their own business to mind anyway.

Influenza A

has hit our house. My flu started Saturday morning, complete with body aches, headache, fever, and full mucus offloading. I got the test on Monday and the test results on Tuesday with a prescription for Tamiflu.

Tamiflu is not something I’ll be taking for the flu again. I didn’t have any nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, or dizziness before taking my first (and last ever) dose with dinner on Tuesday night. Nausea and stomach pain started within ten minutes of taking my dose. $90 for feeling like I have norovirus on top of the flu, and a chance of making my illness last a few hours less (if I’d managed to get the prescription on Saturday?)

Thank you, but no. Whoever invented this might be helping some people, but earns two kicks in the shins from me if I ever meet them. By the end of the night, I was sitting up waiting for the last wave of diarrhea to pass so I could drink some warm tea to soothe my stomach and try to sleep.

Poor sleep meant today I got to have my headache back all day long.

The roommate began showing signs of the flu same Sunday night. She did not go for a prescription of Tamiflu. She seems to be doing about the same as I am with it, only without a trip down Side Effects Lane for good measure.

If someone could send a the Plaguelands equivalent of an old priest and a young priest with a full set of quarantine gear and some Lysol, I think we’d be much obliged.

What I learned this week: 2017 02 11 Edition

  1. My blog site colors are currently the same as my wardrobe colors. (Specifically, Navy, Plum, and White.) This was not intentional. I just really like those colors.
  2. I’m so used to feeling terrible (Thanks, fibromyalgia, a cold that was taking forever to go away, and an asthma flare up) that it took me actually running a fever, having a constant headache and a sore throat to realize I now have the flu. Grr.
  3. Sometimes the only answer for things is to just go to bed.
  4. My people really love me. Thank you to both of you for taking such good care of me.

Headless

One way to refer to a computer without a monitor is “headless.”

I mention this specifically because at The Day Job I’ve been asked to house a headless computer which we use for automated metrics runs under my desk since I’ve got “plenty of room” at my desk. The person who currently houses the Metrics Computer is moving to a new area, so the metrics computer needs to be moved to a new home.  

Apparently word of my frequent refusal to allow my desk to be used as a storage area has gotten out. It’s the reason I have plenty of room at my desk: I don’t allow people to use my tiny cubical as a storage area for miscellaneous items and I keep my desk tidy.

The fact that the computer is headless was promoted as a bonus to me because it wouldn’t suck up as much room. That wouldn’t have mattered. If it didn’t fall under my rule, I would have protested it being stored at my desk. My rule is only “reasonable” items may be stored at my desk. 

I classify the metrics computer as reasonable because I use the metrics the computer generates for my weekly metrics publishing tasks, so I surprised the co-worker who was trying to convince me to take ownership of the headless computer by saying, “Bring it here. I use it’s metrics. I should have it,” before he finished his well thought out arguement to convince me that it wouldn’t be any bother.

“Just one condition. It may live under my desk so long as we call it Marie Antoinette.”

“Marie Antoinette?”

“Because it’s headless. Like Wednesday Addams doll and the historic French Monarch.”

“Oh. Okay. Whatever you like. But why not Icabod?”

I shrugged. “Icabod Crane wasn’t headless. He was chased by the Headless Horseman, who didn’t have a name in the story.”

My coworker looked amused. “Then it’s settled.”
“Yes. Marie Antoinette shall live under my desk starting as soon as it’s convenient for you to move her here.”

The new person popped her head around the corner. Apparently she only heard the last of the story. “That’s a really odd thing to hear over the pod wall.”

I know. Dear coworker. I know. And that is why I gave a name to Headless.

Five Questions | Skincare/Makeup edition

I saw this over at Gretchen’s Closet and desperately needed a writing prompt for today, so here it goes.

  1. Why do you (or don’t you) wear makeup?

    I’m okay the way I look without makeup, but makeup makes me feel more like myself, and makeup can be fun. I can experiment with different looks without the permanency of new hair color, for example. My current red hair is going to be something of a pain to get back to my natural blondish shade, and I’m going to start that process on my next trip to the hair stylist.

  2. When do you wear makeup? Do you put it on every day, no matter if you’re just going to be at home or going to the grocery store, just for yourself? Or do you save it for special occasions?

    I should wear it every day and not save it for special occasions. I like wearing it. I just tend not to most days, probably due to the perception of fuss that I sometimes associate with it.

  3. What are your 2-3 can’t-do-without skincare/makeup items?

    Lipstick and a moisturizing foundation. That’s it. Eyeliner, if you push me. I’d say Mascara, but finding the right mascara that stays put and doesn’t make my eyes tear up is always a challenge, so I go with eyeliner instead and often skip the mascara.

  4. How have you changed your routine over the years? Or haven’t you?

    Mostly I’ve been bolder with lipstick colors. When I first started wearing makeup in my teens, my mother was adamant that all I could wear was pale pink or nude shades. Since Mama was providing the makeup, I wore what I had.

    As I’ve gotten older, I’ve branched out and tried more colors. Coral, plum, rose, and red, even black back in the day, though that didn’t work for me.
    I’m an unabashed fan of red lipstick. It has a punch that can bring you up when the world is trying to bring you down. Nothing says confidence quite like a bold red lip. There’s a red lip for every occasion, even work. You just need to experiment with color a bit to find the right shades for you.

  5. Do you do your own nails? Or have manicures? What products do you use if you do them at home?

    I do my own nails. I’ve always been very utilitarian about what I need to do with my hands, and the fact of the matter is that I admire glorious long nails, but they’re just not practical or practicable for my life. I am for neat, nicely kept nails for every day, and paint my nails or use Jamberry wraps for special occasions. I count special occasions as things like “Ooh. Look. Today is National Pizza Day. I should have pretty nails.”

    No, really. Today is National Pizza Day.

    I tried red nails for the first time this year. I really liked them, but it’s a look for when my nails are at their best. Currently, I’m regrowing from a batch of breaking, which happens with clock-like regularity. Sadly, my nails peel and split or shatter outright which makes wanting to do more than the most basic care difficult to muster.

Minimalism and wardrobe

I have a love of Minimalist blogs, especially Minimalist Wardrobe blogs. The aesthetic of Less Is More and William Morris’s admonition to “have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful” appeals to me on a deep level despite the fact that minimalism can be seen by some to be classist.

After all, it’s easy to say it’s pride to have fewer things when it’s a choice.

When I was first starting out, I was living far enough under the poverty level to qualify for the maximum Earned Income Tax Credit as a single person with no children. I didn’t feel like I was missing anything by not having cable TV, or for that matter a television. I took my lunch to work every day. I went for walks, read, and wrote to entertain myself. Other than wanting to be able to have money in the bank for things like car repairs, health care expenses, and emergency expenses, I didn’t think my life was lacking.

I’d like to take some of that simplicity back into my life.

I have several things on my list for doing that. Cut back Facebook time to no more than half an hour daily. Eliminate mindless surfing. Find time sinks and reclaiming time. Root out bad habits and replace them with better ones.

This weekend I took on the task of going through my wardrobe and figuring out why I consistently believe I have nothing to wear. I did it first because getting dressed in the morning is one of my most hated chores because I’ve tended to feel like I dress in the manner of a potato wearing a feed sack to the opera. Also because when I’m feeling depressed, I tend to use the floor of my bedroom as a closet, which is counterproductive to my room being a space of zen-like calm where I can decompress and hide from the world when I need to recharge.

The task took the better part of the weekend, partly because I needed to do laundry too, partly because I have too many clothes, and partly because I’m still operating on under-powered lungs. (Note to self: the fact that a Mucinex made breathing easier this evening suggests that maybe the tail end of that cold is still hanging on.)

I started by reading The Curated Closet to put everything I knew into my mind. I decided on my color palette for my wardrobe using the author’s advice.

Yes, I know I maxed out my choices. I like colors.

I ended up settling on Olive, Navy, Plum, and Charcoal Gray as my focus colors, mostly because I had the most items in those colors. I find myself drawn to things in Plum and Olive, so discovering that I’ve got enough things in those colors to build a solid wardrobe around isn’t surprising. Charcoal Gray has always been my “See? I’m not wearing black.” color, so the number items I own in this color is also unsurprising. Navy is a bit aspirational in this list if I’m not counting my denim items in this category, so I’m counting them.

White, Khaki, and Black became my neutrals due to the number of basics I own in those colors. In theory, Navy and Charcoal Gray are neutrals, too, but since they’re counted under Main Colors, they don’t count here. They do give me more options for mixing the other colors. White is mostly blouses (worn with scarves in colors that make me not dead looking like white does). Khaki is chinos and cardigans. Black is everything because Everything Comes In Black For Fat Girls.

Tomato red, Robin’s egg blue, Teal, Orange, and Dark Periwinkle serve as accents because I adore the items I have in those colors. I love how I look in those colors. Those colors mix well with my main colors and my neutrals. Also, for those into the seasonal color theory thing, they’re very firmly Autumn colors (except for black and white, which are pretty much inescapable in clothing, especially plus sized clothing.)

Anything not one of those colors was evaluated for re-usability and either thrown out or donated. That put me down to a more manageable closet. I understood what I like, what I don’t like, and what works for me, but it still didn’t feel like I had style.

I had clothes – the same clothes (kind of boring) clothes that I had before I started this exercise, only fewer of them. Still, I set to the task of giving my personal style a name with the hope that naming the collection of clothes in my closet. I told the roommate my dilemma (no actual style) and that I was jealous of her style.

She said she believed the same thing about herself that I thought about myself: that she had no style. The roommate? She’s got style, and it surprised me that she thought she didn’t. She rocks sporty menswear inspired classics, and I told her so.

“You’re kind of artsy. You can’t do anything straight. You have to put your spin on it,” she said and dubbed my style “Classics with a Twist,” which is good enough for me. That covers my little denim Japanese style inspired jacket or the A-line skirt with the paper airplane print, or the artist made scarves I love as much as it includes the small skull necklaces I wear or my fun narwhal socks that match one of my work polos.

I had a neat closet. I had a name for how I dress. I was reading “classic” as “kind of boring” and “comfortable” as “slouchy,” which is not at all what I do. I was also reading “I like interesting and artistic things” as “I dress kind of weird,” which is also not the case. I just wear what I like and needed to edit what I had for maximum effect.

I looked through my closet to see if I had any holes in my wardrobe.

I do, actually, despite having two full kitchen garbage sacks of clothing to donate. I tend to over buy for work and underbuy for non-working hours. Work’s dress code is “dress for your day” which for me ranges from business casual to smart casual with the occasional full business day thrown in for good measure. I don’t need as many purely work clothes as I think I do.

Because I over buy for work and under buy for non-working hours, I end up thinking I don’t have enough clothing because I’m missing a couple of key pieces of weekend wear. I like to wear button front shirts layered over t-shirts or tanks as my weekend uniform. Specifically, I need an additional collared long sleeve button front shirt to wear over t-shirts like a jacket or by itself (I currently have a chambray shirt), a linen button front casual shirt, and a short sleeve button front shirt. A band collar shirt might be an excellent add-in if I can find the right one.

I also need to assign a few items as double duty items between my work and weekend wardrobes. My store-bought cardigans and sweaters are fair game, as are my leggings. I hesitate to put any of my dress shirts in that category, though my striped dress shirt might make a good weekend shirt/jacket. This needs some careful consideration, so I don’t end up making myself feel like I have no clothes to wear to the day job after all this work curating my closet.

As for the goal of making some sweaters for myself, I have some ideas. A lighter weight, more fitted, pullover sweater is a needed addition to the work wardrobe. Something like the sleeved version of Atlantique appeals to me. Making myself a cardigan or two would also be a good and useful addition. Pedal Pusher or Gearhead are on my short list because I need early spring biking gear. Replacing my two pullover sweaters with hand knit sweaters is also a goal. They’re already starting to show signs of wear. Turning something like Winter Doldrums into a sweater coat is also appealing. I’ll be putting some further thought into this before I finalize the list.

Overall, I’m pleased with the results of this project. It’s not a minimalist wardrobe in the pure capsule wardrobe sense or the Project 333 sense, nor are either what I was going for. It is, however, appropriate to my life and well curated. I have nothing in my wardrobe that I do not know to be functional or believe to be beautiful. I can pull pretty much anything out of my closet and feel assured of having something appropriate to wear that I feel happy about putting on.

That’s exactly what I wanted.

That breathing thing

I like to think there’s a moment in everyone’s life where they realize that there’s some aspect of their health they cannot get under control without medical intervention. Maybe it’s critical, acute illness that sweeps them to the emergency room. For me, it’s that breathing thing that everyone else seems to do without any problems.

I went back to the doctor again with this bronchitis/asthma loop that I’m stuck in and asked for a controller medication. It felt like a defeat to do it. I mean, it’s breathing. How hard can it be?

Pretty damned hard, actually.

I don’t smoke.While I do have allergies and live with four fuzzy allergens, I take an allergy med and don’t let the pets sleep in my room. I take my rescue inhaler before exercising. It shouldn’t be that hard. It’s been really hard. I spent the night before my doctor’s appointment using every trick I know for holding an asthma attack at bay because I knew I had an appointment in the morning and I didn’t want to pay for a trip to the emergency room.

I got lucky and it worked.

That said, I don’t ever want to spend another night like that. It was like the plane trip back from Athens, trying to just stay calm and keep the hot caffeinated beverages flowing in because I didn’t actually have a rescue inhaler at that point. It was before I was diagnosed with adult asthma. Only this time, I was dosing with the rescue inhaler, too.

Air goes in and out. Blood goes round and round. Any deviation from that is a problem. That’s the first rule of Emergency Medical Services. The air was not going in. When I could get it in, it didn’t want to stay in. Stay calm. Lay propped up. Picture the ocean. Picture not drowning in the ocean. Picture a warm breeze going in and flowing out. Drink another cup of tea. Relax. Relax. Relax. Count to four in. Count to eight out. Relax.

Things are bad enough we started with Symbicort. That’s a pretty serious prescription. Normally I would fight against a prescription of this type, but I need to breathe. The breathing thing, it’s not something I can just do without. Not without a fight.

I’m Tired, Boss

Mostly I’m tired of people being ugly to each other. I’m tired of all the pain I feel and hear in the world every day. There’s too much of it. It’s like pieces of glass in my head all the time.
– John Coffey, The Green Mile

There’s a problem in the United States. It’s not the current POTUS. He’s just a symptom of the real problem.

The problem is that we’ve forgotten that we’re all in this together. We don’t talk to each other. We don’t wait to gather our facts before we form our opinions. We polarize behind “anyone but him/her,” without looking at what the other person is actually bringing to the table with them.

We’ve run our country on people voting for the lesser of two evils for a long time instead of trying to find the right person for the job at hand.

What happened to living life to a set of ideals? To taking the high road? To trying to find common ground with our neighbors? 

What happened to polite discussion? To trying to find the best solution for everyone? What happened to compassion and reasoned discourse?

I don’t know, but I’m tired. 

I care about the environment and keeping it clean, because this is the only home we have. Science isn’t a liberal conspiracy. It’s the reasoned study of the world around us. It’s a search for evidence and truth. 

Everyone should be able to live a life free from fear. People should have the same opportunity for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We should have a hand up for our neighbors in trouble, should treat each other with dignity no matter our backgrounds (race, creed, religion, national origin, gender expression, or sexual orientation), and should be able to work at a job that pays a living wage.

Health care shouldn’t cost so damned much. Cancer treatment, for example, shouldn’t be a one way ticket to poverty for the patient’s family. Being sick shouldn’t be treated like it’s a crime against the shareholders. 

High taxes.

The right to privacy.

Freedom of religion.

Gun violence vs the right to bear arms.

The struggling American family.

There are so many problems. I’m tired from trying to carry them all. I only have so much strength and energy. I can’t solve all the problems or save the world by myself.
The thing is, there are so many of us there should be a way to solve them all, but there’s no way that will happen until we stop polarizing behind slogans and ideology and start lining up behind the problems we individually worry about the most, find out who’s with us from all sides of the political spectrum, and put aside the politics and get to work on finding solutions.

The monthly goals check in: January 2017 Edition

The first month of 2017 is over. It’s time to check in on how this year’s goals are going and see where I need to improve and alter.

  1. Go to 3 cycling classes and two weightlifting classes every week in 2016.  I am still fighting with asthma lingering from the cold/bronchitis I picked up at the beginning of the month. My new goal at this point is breathe. I’m scheduled to go back to the doctor on Friday morning to see what else we can do to get the asthma under control better.
  2. Follow the dietary guidelines given to me by my doctor. Coming along. Always areas to improve, but this hasn’t been a huge challenge.
  3. Finish one existing WIP every month in 2016. Nothing finished. Nothing new started. No extra energy, really. See also: breathing is an issue.
  4. Develop a list of 12 handknit items to add to my wardrobe in 2016. Started. I need to finalize the list and blog about it.
  5. Finish one new project every month in 2016. See goal 3. Right now I’m focused on getting better.
  6. Write one short story a month in 2016. Behind schedule, but in progress.
  7. Finish a book by March 31, 2016. Outline written, but I’m not sure I’m going to make my writing goal of March 31 with the short story goal. I may need to rethink this.
  8. Read 12 books by December 31, 2016. Reading is progressing, but slowly. I need a vacation and some uninterrupted reading time.