There’s a Tiny Child Buddha that lives on my desk

To misquote Sheldon Cooper on Big Bang Theory, “Tiny Buddha. Save me.”

It is the Pocket Buddha of prosperity. It lives there because it makes me smile, but also because it reminds me that every day I need to take a moment appreciate how fortunate I am, because all things considered, I am quite fortunate. It’s there to remind me to appreciate the little things. Breathing, for example.

Breathing is a privilege in my world, not a right, and I get to do it.

My new asthma medication is Breo. We tried every other less expensive medication available to get my asthma back under control. This was the only one medication that we found that’s worked.

Per GoodRX.com It has an average cost of $399.80 for a month’s supply as of today’s date. Because I have a manufacturer’s coupon and insurance, I’m only seeing $10 of that cost out of my pocket. The rest is being covered by my insurance company. If I didn’t have insurance, that coupon would be $100 off my medication.

$100 off of an average of $399.80. That’s still $299.80. Who has $300/month for a maintenance medication?

What’s the alternative, really?

The coupon lasts for a year. It feels like the drug company is standing on a street corner saying “Try a taste, baby. You know you’ll like it. First one’s (practically) free.”

Now, we’re retesting my lung function in August. Spirometry costs: $1100. My portion of that is $482, which I know because we did it once already this year. That’s $482 to breathe in a tube and possibly have an asthma attack during the test because I have exercise induced asthma. Who wants to spend $482 to spin the Wheel of Asthma? No one, but there’s no other way to measure lung function.

With any luck, I’ll be able to convince my pulmonologist that my asthma is controlled again we can try to go back to my old care regime, which was two puffs of albuterol before exercise. With any luck, my asthma will go back to being controlled in the first place, and I won’t just be trying to convince her that I can’t afford to be on this medication because of what it’s doing to the overall cost of health care.

Then I can go back to just worrying about how I’m going to afford the proposed $4000+ asthma surcharge that insurance companies would like to add to my insurance costs because I lost the genetic lottery and I have asthma. Heaven help you if you have had a heart attack or cancer.

Insurance companies only make money when you’re well. Pharmaceutical companies only make money from the sick, in part from insurance companies who are trying to preserve their profit margins by passing more and more of the cost to the consumer.

All I want to do is breathe.

Something’s gotta give

Something’s gotta give and that something is this blog. This blog will be moving to a once-a-week update. New posts will publish on Thursday mornings starting next week.

The discipline of writing regularly, if not every day, has been good for me. The problem becomes the limitations of time itself. I spend too much time trying to come up with a topic to blog about on the days that I don’t have a hot topic burning in my brain. Those days are usually “I talk about the knitting I don’t do enough of” days.

Those days are usually “I talk about the knitting I don’t do enough of” days and they’re as much of a drag to write as they are to read if you’re not a knitter. Sometimes they’re “pictures of the dogs” days and I Can Has Hotdog does that better. I’d rather put out one high-quality piece of writing than a week of mostly drivel with a chance of something more meaningful.

I’d rather put out one high-quality piece of writing than a week of mostly drivel with a chance of something more meaningful. Also, If I’m going to make real progress forward on my other writing, I need to take time out of writing that isn’t giving me progress toward my goal. I need to put it on the goal itself.

 

Updated: The sweater list

As I’ve been cleaning out the sweater queue, I’ve started putting together the sweater list: things that I absolutely want to wear and thus find worthy to make. As I’ve been putting together this list, I’m following a few rules:

  1. The pattern must be one already in my collection, custom-fit (since I have the subscription) or available for free. I’m watching my budget and I have the blessing of an extensive library of things to knit.
  2. The yarn must be something already in my stash. This is in part because I’m watching my budget, but it’s also because I have lots of great yarn just waiting to be sweaters. I’m worthy of using it now.
  3. It must be a realistic style for me to wear. This is both a style and a weight of the sweater issue. If it’s not my thing, I won’t wear it. If it’s too heavy and I could only wear it as a coat, I won’t wear it, either.

It’s proving more difficult than I originally thought it would be. I’m doing a great deal of searching through both my stash on Ravelry and my Ravelry library. So far it’s not going well, at least from the “something to blog about” standpoint. I have a lot of “I didn’t understand my most usual colors” and a lot of “that’s a cool pattern, but not practical/flattering/reasonable to think I’ll actually make” to sort through.

It leaves me with a lot of questions about what I’m going to do with this yarn if I’m not going to make a sweater with it, too. I need to get serious about figuring out that problem, too. Some of the yarn I have, I still want to make other things with. Some of it, however, would be put to better use sold to another knitter/crocheter or potentially donated to somewhere that could do some good.

Some of the yarn I have, I still want to make other things with. Some of it, however, would be put to better use sold to another knitter/crocheter. Some other skeins I have would be better donated to somewhere that could do some good and I have a venue in mind for that.

I’ve been questioning my lists a lot lately. I keep looking at the time available after I leave the Day Job all the things I have on my lists. This blog. The knitting. The stack of books on my nightstand. The Craftsy classes I own and haven’t taken. The gym I’m not going to enough. The story writing that goes in fits and starts at best. Each of them silently judging me because I have so much on my plate and so little progress on any of them, especially the gym and the story writing.

I’m just wondering, is doing it all unrealistic for me at this stage in my life? Do I need to let go of a few things? Or do I just need better priorities and more efficient use of my time?

I can’t listen to an audio book when I’m at The Day Job due to the nature of my work. There are too many interruptions. What if I go to the gym and walk on the track and listen to a book on Audible, will that let me do more?

Should I knit and watch TV when I get home from The Day Job to unpack my brain after a long day?

Do I give up the blogging time and trade it for time directly on my novel? Is this even worth doing? If it is, do my general ramblings make the most entertaining reading or should I put a timer on my blog time and use a writing prompt related to what I’m trying to write about in my stories to help prime the pump?

on my to-do list from December

I still have items on my to-do list from December:

  1. Listen to Christa’s Mix Tape
  2. Send Christmas cards

I know. It’s terrible. I just can’t let either of these items go.

Christa’s mix-tape is the more pressing of the two. She sends it out around Festivus and I usually listen to it somewhere between Christmas and New Years Eve, often when the roommate heads off to spend holiday time with her family. This year I just didn’t manage to find the private time to listen.

The mix-tape is a private listening event. I know she sends it out to The Usual Suspects, the people on the invite list to the Annual Escape from your Family Christmas Party, but it always feels like it’s meant to be a special event. It’s a mix-tape, after all, a carefully curated list of songs that the giver wants to the recipient to experience.

Obviously, I need quiet time with just me and my headphones to devote to experiencing the music. Maybe a glass of wine and the fireplace going and a fluffy blanket pulled up to my chin to complete the setting. I haven’t found the right time to devote to that just yet. I will, I keep telling myself, and the mix-tape will be there.

It’s not like it will spoil. Christa’s musical memory of 2016 will stay fresh until I decant it. Maybe this weekend, even.

The Christmas Cards are another story. It is well past time to send Winter Holiday cards, even ones as generically non-committal as the ones I buy. You know the type. They have evergreen trees, snowflakes, and cardinals and a non-religion specific greeting:

Wishing you and yours
Peace and comfort in this
Very best Winter Holiday Season
And the Happiest New Year.

At this point, if I were to get any sort of card in the mail, it should be green and St. Patrick’s day themed (because somehow turning a de-canonized Saint’s day into American National Drink Green Beer and Promote Irish Immigrant Stereotypes Day isn’t offensive?) or I have to go for the spring holiday and there’s no “Happy Spring Holiday” card despite the fact that several holidays happen in the spring. Holi and Passover come to immediately to mind.

Apparently, winter is a time for generalities and spring is the time for specificity. Maybe I should hold off and send Fourth of July cards instead.

Seems like a plan to me.

The cultural experience

The Paramount before the Marsalis In Iowa concert

I got us tickets to the Marsalis in Iowa concert because I wanted a cultural experience. I was hoping for some orchestral jazz. I thought maybe I’d be able to expand my ability to enjoy jazz in general and support the local orchestra.

What I discovered were the limits to my ability to appreciate sound for its own sake. I could not get past my thoughts about what music should be just because I heard it an artistic performance venue. In particular, the selection that did me in and made it impossible for me to sit through yet another listening of Copland’s Symphony #3 (which I don’t particularly care for because I think people overplay it) was this number: Saxophone Concerto No. 2, “Under the Wing of the Rock”.

It is a technically difficult piece for saxophone. Branford Marsalis played it brilliantly. I could not understand it as music, only as an intellectual exercise.

It struck me as the sort of thing composers write to prove that a particular instrument is capable of atypical sounds when in the hands of a true master. As the roommate put it, it’s the sort of thing that’s written on a dare.

It’s the sort of composition that true masters learn while cursing the name of the composer. When/If you learn to play it, it shows both the true range of the instrument and your skill as a musician.

Oh, the cursing!

I could hear the technical difficulty of the piece, but I realized I was supposed to believe that I heard music, too. I looked at the beautiful venue. I looked at the intensity of the performers. I tried to internalize what I heard as music.

I failed.

I could not make my brain recognize the music of the piece. All I heard were technically difficult sounds to make. All I saw were people performing their hearts out and making nothing but noise.

We left at intermission because I couldn’t make the mental leap required to make the experience anything more than a cultural experience that I didn’t have the combined experience and education to do more than appreciate on an intellectual level at best.

At least the piece allowed me to learn something. Recognizing my limits gives me greater insight into my own biases.

What I learned this week: 20170305 – 20170311

  1. I really need to get over falling for the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon. It’s a fallacy that inhibits my creative urges.
  2. For an alleged grown-up, I sure do like my toys. (AKA I’ma just going to be over here playing with my farm.)
  3. We have a wide variety of weather in Iowa, so it’s a thing we talk about. Thunderstorms in late winter. Tornadoes in late winter. All things we talk about.
    We even have a saying about the weather: If you don’t like it, wait five minutes — It’ll change.
  4. Taking the time to understand my personal sense of style is helping me understand why I still haven’t knit a sweater for myself: deep down, I know some of the things I like are things I won’t wear and so I avoid starting a task that will ultimately be useless.
  5. No is pretty much a curse word in my head.

The other N word

I have trouble saying “No,” especially at The Day Job. This has led me to a point where I’m working enough overtime that I’m finding it physically taxing. 

It’s bad enough I can’t compensate for (read: hide) it anymore. The roommate has taken me aside to talk to me about the fact that I need to take care of myself. I need to say no to things.

I don’t know how to do this. No is treated like a dirty word, especially when it comes from a woman. I don’t think it’s intentional. People say “you should say no to things,” but when you say no to them, it’s a different matter. 

I want to say:  No, I really can’t take on one more task for the program right now. I’m not eating lunch. I can barely get away from my desk to go to the bathroom because I’m so busy. Exactly when am I going to get just one more thing done? Staying late? You know I’m already here late, right?

I say: Just put it on my desk. I’ll figure out how to get it done. When do you need it by?

I read an article in Fortune that said women in leadership who say no are seen as cold and ruthless, but men who say no are strong and capable. It’s not just women in leadership. Saying no at work hurts a woman’s image, no matter what her role at work is.

I want to say: No, I don’t want to do anything tonight. This was planned last week and I’m just now hearing about it? I have other plans. Curling up on the couch with a cat and a book and drinking tea is a plan. It’s a mighty fine plan at that.

I say: I’ll dump more caffeine in the system to keep it running. Rest is for the weak anyway. 

Hell, I should be sleeping now, but I can’t. I’ve got a migraine because I’m so tired, but I can’t sleep because I have a migraine and I’m afraid to try to take a naproxen for it because naproxen is hard on the kidneys. 

For the past three nights I’ve been using the heating pad on the small of my back and Biofreeze at the base of my skull because I’m terrified of doing anything that might tax my kidneys too much.

It’s my kidneys that have me trying to sort this whole “No” thing out in the first place. It’s disheartening to feel like I’m living my whole life around protecting my ability to process the toxins out of my body. 

My roommate is right, of course. I need to say no to things in order to get the rest and recovery time I need to maintain my health.

It just feels like I’m Kryten trying to swear when I try to say no.


Damn you, kidneys. You’re not playing fair. The fatigue gets crushing far more quickly than it ever did. I can’t run on borrowed energy anymore. I don’t have any energy to spare.
If you need to find me, I guess I’ll be sitting in the canteen with flash cards practicing saying the other N word. 

Nnnnnnnnooo.

Idea Log: Norwegian Star

Fueled by my relative success at wardrobe curating, I’ve started cleaning out my Ravelry queue of things that I will never make, either because they don’t fit my style (Classic with a Twist) or they just aren’t practical. That practicality thing is killing me.

It absolutely pains me to throw  Winter Traveller Sweater by Julie Farwell-Clay, but I will never wear it. That enormous graphic Norwegian star speaks to me. I love the graphic quality of the huge star dominating the background. I want this sweater in my life, but it’s just not practical for me, even in Iowa. I find I’m too warm in pullovers on all but the coldest of days.

A big plain Norwegian Star motif, very much like this one I found on Gripping Yarns.

Cardigans are the best way to go for me. I can unbutton or unzip them as needed when I get too warm. I can button them up when I’m cold. A nice cardigan is what I need. Maybe something with a zipper, so I can minimize interrupting the motif and just let it flow across the field of the sweater. More thought is needed.

I bring you now the weather

My favorite song that’s been “The Weather” on Welcome to Night Vale.

It always strikes me just how mercurial the weather can be in Iowa.

The weather tonight has been amazing. First, there was the lightning light show and the rolling thunder. Then the wind kicked up. I walked inside mere moments before the sirens started, announcing straight line winds gusting up to 90 mph.

The cover for the gas in grill blew away in the first gusts. The hail and rain came mere minutes later. Tonight’s game was already over by this point, called so we could go outside and watch the lightning show. Everyone stayed until the worst of the storm passed, which was really no more than 20 minutes beyond when people might have normally left.