Category Archives: General Musings and Meanderings

Kindness Is Free

Ordinarily at this time of year I throw a fit about Thanksgiving Day shopping. It probably won’t come as an overwhelming surprise to you that I’m not a fan–it takes all my concentration to deal with the concept of Black Friday (I’m down with the sales, but think 4:00 AM is too early to be doing anything and people getting into fistfights over a television is exactly what’s wrong with the world today), but starting the Christmas shopping on Thanksgiving Day itself is just beyond the pale. It is one day–one day–when the idea is to spend time with people you love, expressing gratitude for the things you already have. And apparently that’s too much somehow; apparently being grateful is just a thing to check off the list on our way to our next bout of relentless consumer frenzy.

I digress.

I usually throw a fit around this time of year about the whole Thanksgiving Day Shopstravaganza, encouraging people to opt out and stay home and remember that 10% off towels is no excuse for taking people away from their own families to come open a cash register for you. And every year I get howled down by the legions of dedicated Turkey Day Shoppers–interesting how this phenomenon has only been happening for a few years, and already there are people who cannot bear the thought of going without the opportunity to carb-load then grab a shopping cart–so this year I’m giving up. I surrender. Behold my white flag.

Instead I’ll say just this: if you’re going to shop on Thanksgiving Day (the advice applies to Black Friday shoppers, too), please be unbelievably kind.

Not like “say thank you to the cashier” kindness, or “minimize the number of people you kick in the face over a Lego set” kindness. No, we’re talking about “go out of your way to be the nicest person in the history of niceness”-level behavior here. Be so kind that you become a legend among the store employees who interact with you. Be so incredibly, spectacularly, overwhelmingly, relentlessly, unfailingly kind that everyone around you gets a little kinder just by association.

Here’s the thing:

A frequent argument for Why It Is Our Civic Duty to Shop on a Federal Holiday is that some store workers are getting paid overtime for working that day, so they sign up voluntarily to work for the extra pay. Even overlooking the fact that it’s a little sad that we live in a first-world nation where there are still people struggling so hard that they will surrender holiday time with their families for a few extra bucks, there’s also the fact that many companies have a rule that for every X employees who are working, there must be Y number of management on-site as well. There must be Z number of janitorial staff, or maintenance crew, etc. There must be W number of folks at the customer service desk, or the customer support call center. I can guarantee you with 99.999% certainty that not all of them are there voluntarily–somewhere in that chain is a person who is only there because corporate policy requires it and their choices are either to show up or to lose their job right in the middle of the holiday season. So since you have, in your undeniable need to save 30% on linens, forced someone to give up time with their family so you can come pick out new pillowcases, then the absolute least you can do is be supremely pleasant.

And in addition to the employees you’ll meet, the fact that you exist in the world and are out and about means that emergency personnel must be on duty. Someone has to be there to resuscitate your slap-happy self when you get all loopy on your DEALS DEALS DEALS and wrap your car around a parking meter. Someone has to hose down the toy aisle when you find the PERFECT GIFT OMG NOW THEY WILL FINALLY LOVE ME and spontaneously combust in the middle of the Barbie section. Someone has to come break it up when you get into a full-tilt West Side Story-style rumble in the parking lot over who gets the space closest to the door. So since all of those people also have to be away from their families to come save you from yourself, the absolute least you can do is be conscientious of that and behave accordingly.

And remember, we’re not just talking about throwing people the barest crumb of human politeness here. We’re not going to stop at doing the obligatory mumbled “thank you” or “happy whateverdays”. No, we’re going out of our dang minds with graciousness.

For example:

You can park at the whee lordy end of the parking lot and hike. It’s good for your health, and completely eliminates the parking lot rage aspect of your day; plus it lets someone else get a really good spot, which means they’re in a slightly better mood going in.

You can wipe down the sink in the restroom after you wash your hands. You don’t have to steal a bottle of Lysol from housewares and scrub the place down, but we all know how irritating it can be to have no place to set your purse because the counters all look like they’ve just emerged from the bottom of the sea. Take two seconds and give ’em a little dry-off.

You can try generally to avoid your phone, or at least get off your calls as quickly as possible; sure you may need to check a size or something, and we get that, but be done by the time you hit the cash register and for the love of all that’s holy, don’t be the person wandering aimlessly down the middles of the aisles, chatting away about their personal medical history while inexplicably cart-blocking every single thing anyone else in the store could possibly want.

You can observe the people around you, and take little opportunities to do things to make their lives easier. Move your cart if it’s between them and the toy they’re eyeing. Pick up the mitten their toddler gleefully threw down. Offer to let the guy carrying a 10-lb sack of potatoes at Target cut ahead of you in line–he’s probably on a WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DIDN’T GET POTATOES YOU SOLVE IT OR I WILL MURDER YOU RIGHT NOW mission, and your cart full of stocking stuffers can wait.

Be kind, is what I’m saying, and then be a little kinder. Start being holiday festive now–if you can start your holiday shopping now, you can also start your holiday cheer. Be so full of peace on earth and goodwill to all that it makes people around you stand a little taller. Be the person who is so ludicrously kind and sweet that you leave a trail of kindness behind you wherever you go.

Be the loving, gracious, glorious you that I know you can be, gang. I’d prefer that you not shop at all on Thanksgiving Day, but if you absolutely must, please be so amazing that the stores you visit send you a thank-you note and a personal invitation to come back and shop again next year.

You’re amazing and we both know it; now get out there and show it. Kindness is free, gang. Go fling it around like you’re in a little one-person shopping parade.

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Filed under Don't Make Me Come Down There, General Musings and Meanderings, Play Nicely

Have a Seat at My Table

First a little background information: I used to work in childcare. Specifically, I was the lead teacher in an after-school classroom; my kids ranged from kindergarten to 12 years old, so while they were generally past the “how to function at a survival level” stage (how to eat, use the restroom etc), they were firmly in the middle of the “how to be human” stage. You remember what elementary school was like: half dumping in facts and data, the other half figuring out how to interact without too much bloodshed.

As a result, most of the disciplinary incidents could be resolved with a brief rules reminder or a bit of clarification–“walking feet, please”, or “we keep the cars on the carpet so people walking past don’t trip. Please take that one back onto the rug”. But every once in a while someone would have a super-rough day and need a break; you could call it “time out” if you want, but really the goal was something less punitive and more just removing the kiddo from the situation until they could cool off. The table nearest my supplies cupboard worked best for that–it was farthest from everything else in the room–so when someone was Hulking out, they were instructed to go “have a seat at my table” until I could clean up the calamity, stop any bleeding, console anyone left weeping, and come see what had set off the shenanigans.

Now here’s why I told you all that: yesterday some truly awful things happened in Paris. You’ve probably heard about them, and folks around the world are responding admirably and beautifully. But as with any truly awful thing, there are also some staggeringly insensitive responses coming from people who should absolutely know better (can you pick your own words to form a sentence? Then you can pick better ones and make better sentences. Try again, jerkfaces).

And initially, this post was going to be a full Buffalo Tantrum about that. I was going to scream and holler about people making racist statements, refusing to fact-check, lumping together groups of people who are literally on exact opposite sides of the problem, and so forth; and my rallying cry was going to be “All of you may have a seat at my table”.

But then I stopped and listened to those words: all of you may have a seat at my table.

And it occurred to me that I was about >this< close to committing the same sins I was railing against–lumping people together, refusing to hear where other people were coming from, declaring that any viewpoint other than my own was automatically wrong–when the truth of the matter is that I actually don’t understand what’s causing folks to say some of these things. At a guess there’s no small amount of fear at the bottom of it; but I don’t know backstories, don’t know histories, don’t know whether they (for example) lost someone on 9/11 and are now deeply scarred and reactionary about these sorts of things.

But perhaps if we have a seat at my table and talk about it, we can sort some of it out. We can brainstorm different solutions. We can look for similarities among the differences. We can pass the cookies and juice, and figure out why we’re using such angry words and whether there’s a better way to express the things we truly need.

Look, I’m not saying all responses are appropriate to share right out there in front of god and everybody. I’m not saying there aren’t people floating around who are just plain racist, just plain hateful, just plain malicious, just plain trolls. But I am saying it’s unfair of me to assume that everyone who has expressed an opinion that made me grate my teeth is automatically a bad person.

So maybe I should invite them to have a seat at my table. Maybe I should be willing to dialogue with people instead of dismissing them out-of-hand because of something they said during a frightened moment. Maybe I can insist on a model where my table is for cooling off and talking, not for sending people to sit in time-out until I’m tired of being mad at them.

And for the folks who have a seat at my table, and we talk, and I find out that they’re the sort of vitriolic hate-mongering fear-mongering jerks who will never be part of the solution?

Well, I guess they can go back to playing with the other kids, and I can keep on watching ’em like a hawk and praying that their grownups will come pick them up soon.

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Filed under Don't Make Me Come Down There, General Musings and Meanderings, Play Nicely, Share the Toys

I’ll Sit With You

So there’s a thing going around Facebook these days, which I think is super nifty:

 

(I know, it’s pretty large, but the next size down was basically unreadable.)

And y’know what? I love this. But here’s the thing: I’m not entirely sure it’s quite clear enough, or provides quite enough information. So if you’ll bear with me, I’m going to expand on it just a touch.

First off, here’s what Moon Man and I look like:

As of March 2015.

As of March 2015.

Here’s Moon Man and Yours Truly with sunglasses, bein’ all swankylike right before a road trip:

Total rock stars.

Total rock stars.

I post these both because MAN do I ever have a cute hubby, but also because while it’s great to know that nebulous folks in the void are willing to be support systems, I think it’s a bit more helpful if you know what those people look like. So there we are–those are the faces you can look for. And here’s my promise to you, regardless of your gender, sexual orientation, race, religious belief, etc, etc, etc:

If you are in the situation in that first image, where Creepy McCreeperpants won’t leave you alone at the bar (restaurant, coffeeshop, bookstore, etc), and you happen to notice that we are in the same room, come sit with us. My name is Tricia (or you can call me “BW” if you want to signal me that you’re cashing in the I Saw Your Offer on Your Blog and Wish to Take You Up On That card), and hubby’s name is Nate (or, y’know, “Moon Man”). We’ll be glad to play along, escort you to your car, wait with you for a ride, or just sit and chat until Captain Creepalot creeps on down the road.

Here’s what I look like when I’m out walking:

Stern face for fun contrast.

Stern face for fun contrast.

If you’re out and about and feel unsafe/uncomfortable, come walk with me. As fair warning, I don’t really run; so you may have to slow your pace a bit if you’re one of those people who inspire me while I’m out trundling along. But if you’re cool with going a little slower than usual, I will gladly walk with you. For that matter, if you’re out exercising and get those self-conscious back-of-the-neck “oh man, they’re all gonna laugh at me” prickles (you know the ones), come on over–we can laugh and chat and compare sweat stains and distract ourselves until we’re feeling comfortable and triumphant again.

In related news, here’s what I look like when I’m goin’ on a hike:

Inasmuch as you can really hike in Kansas, the flattest land this side of Flatland

Inasmuch as you can really hike in Kansas, the flattest land this side of Flatland

If you’re out hiking and feel unsafe/uncomfortable, come hike with me/us (Hubby Hubbington and I usually hike together). Ditto if you’re out having adventures and find yourself in a bit of a pickle–we’re totally glad to share our water (with you or your dog), help your twisted-ankle self get back to the populated world, or use our phones to get help for you. We’re perfectly happy to pretend that you’re our old pal from the wayback machine and that we’ve finally made it to the completely intentional rendezvous point, that meeting up with you is not an accident and you’re not a total stranger, and we’re absolutely down to have you hike along with us until we all get safely back together.

And yes, the We’re Long Lost Pals offer stands in bars and cases of Creepington WontTakeAHint, but it also applies in broader circumstances. For instance:

If you’re in an unsafe situation at home and need help and spot me in a public place, come to the bathroom with me. Just come over, all smiles, say “BW! I haven’t seen you in ages! I’ve only got a few seconds but would love to catch up–I’m on my way to the bathroom, can you come with?”, and once we’re there I’ll call for help for you and wait with you until it arrives.

If you’re at the grocery store and having one of THOSE days and are >this< close to weeping in the spice aisle, come shop with me. We’ll talk about whatever has pushed you to the Sobbing Over Saffron stage, exclaim over good sales in the produce section, and make ridiculous combinations at the Jelly Belly display.

If you’re at a big event–concert, festival, state fair, etc–and are having sensory overload and need a break but don’t want to hang out alone, come eat nachos with me. I get overwhelmed in crowded/noisy situations too, so I’m perfectly happy to get us some sodas and find us a nice out-of-the-way corner to go sit quietly. We don’t even have to talk. (The nachos are only sort of negotiable, though. Mmm, nachos.)

I will sit with you in the waiting room until the doctor comes; I will stand with you at the bus stop  so you’re not alone; I will text you with an emergency so you can get out of a situation (you’ll need to slip me a note with your number and “please text with fake emergency” on it, or a similar cue); I will let you join our group through the haunted house or help you find the toothpaste aisle or tell you whether that shirt is a good color on you.

The world can get scary sometimes, is what I’m getting at, and occasionally we could use a little backup. So here’s my face; if you see it, and you need to push the Buddy System panic button, come find me. I can’t fix your life and I won’t hold your jacket while you commit a crime, but I’ll gladly sit with you.

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Filed under General Musings and Meanderings, Share the Toys

Nothing Much But Love

So there’s this guy I know, and today is his birthday, and it occurs to me that something should be said about him. But all the things I want to say have already been said; so I apologize in advance if this seems a little copy/paste-y, but y’know, when someone else already found the right words, sometimes it’s best just to shut up and let them steer the ship.

So this guy.

They say that you can tell the quality of a man by the company he keeps, and I reckon that’s true. So what do you say about a guy whose friends include social workers, musicians, poets, playwrights, costumers, service personnel (both active-duty and retired military, police, fire, and EMS), parents (whose children include biological kids, adopted kids, fur kids, step-kids, and kids who aren’t even technically in their lives anymore but they still check in on ’em from time to time), sign language interpreters, doctors, healers, domestic violence survivor advocates, suicide prevention hotline volunteers, and–fer cryin’ out loud–people who foster puppies?

They say a man’s character is revealed by how he treats those less fortunate, or those who have nothing to offer him in return. So what conclusions might you draw about a guy who, with a group of friends, adopts a needy family every year at Christmas and then completely loses his mind and all self-restraint when shopping for their presents? Or who also sponsors a Back-to-School Buddy each year, providing new clothes and shoes and school supplies and so many “fun extras” that it usually takes a half-dozen bags just to bring in all the stuff he tossed in the cart? And who does “just because” food deliveries for a widow a couple towns over, and donation drives for the local pantry, and takes cases of cat food to the local pet shelter, and chips in whenever possible for families who need a little cash boost to get through a tough time? He offered to buy a gal a house, y’all; to be fair, the idea is that it’ll be a duplex and we’ll live in the other half of it, but still. A house.

They say dogs can spot the good people a mile away, so you should trust a dog’s judgement. Behold:

*swoon*

*swoon*

They say you can tell a lot about a guy by how he treats animals in general:

The kitten booped him on the nose, so of course he adopted her.

The kitten booped him on the nose, so of course he adopted her.

They say you can tell a lot about a guy by how he does with kids:

We're not going to talk about how old the baby in this picture is now. *cries*

We’re not going to talk about how old the baby in this picture is now. *cries*

They say the good ones help their neighbors:

The fact that this particular neighbor lives 45 minutes away is't anyone's fault.

The fact that this particular neighbor lives 45 minutes away is’t anyone’s fault.

I guess a good way to sum up this guy is by quoting a friend of his, who said that “he’s the Higgs particle of human awesomeness – he not only has awesome in and of himself, he makes us all more awesome by his presence” (love ya, R. Hope you don’t mind my outright theft just there). This guy builds people up. He believes in them even when they don’t believe in themselves. He is kind and gracious and generous and funny and smart and sweet and sure, sometimes he’s thoughtless or forgetful or sticks his foot all the way in his mouth, but when that happens he apologizes and makes sure it doesn’t happen again. He is impeccable with his word, honest and clear, says the things that needs saying and lets the little things pass. He works hard to see everyone’s side even when he can only understand them academically, and he goes out of his way to make other people’s lives better.

Also he's dead sexy. Which doesn't say much about his character, but still. YUM.

Also he’s dead sexy. Which doesn’t say much about his character, but still. YUM.

Basically, he’s the sort of guy you can’t help but love…and the fact that I get to love him every day makes me officially the luckiest woman I know. Which is totally bragging, and I’m not even a little bit sorry.

So happy birthday, Moon Man. I flatly refuse to imagine life without you, and I am so, so honored to be married to such an incredible human being. Thank you, on behalf of all of us who know you, for being you. I–we–love you more each day.

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Liar

Depression is a damn dirty liar.

(Oh, by the way, pottymouth warning.)

Depression is a damn dirty lying liar who lies.

I know this about depression. I know that it twists things, distorts them, hides things, takes pictures from the least flattering angle with terrible lighting against a background that makes you look all sallow. I know that it misremembers things on purpose, pulls things out of context, finds details that distract from the truth and fixates on them. I know this. I have fought this battle many times, and I know its tricks.

I know that forgiveness is a key part of a generally happy life, and I practice it as much as possible; but I also know that depression keeps excellent records of the things you have forgiven people for–the things you’re so, so sure you’ve forgiven people for–and trots them back out to hurt you again. It will recite the things the school bullies shouted at you or whispered to you or passed you in a folded-up note or etched into your binder that time they stole it from your locker. It will tell you that if you’re going to argue that having a bunch of friends who all say you’re awesome must mean that you’re awesome (you’re outvoted, after all), then having a bunch of people tell you you’re worthless must be equally true for the same reasons. Even if they’re people whose opinions are usually valueless to you; even if they’re people who have been dismissed from your life because they were never going to be people who helped you be your best self. It will call you every name you’ve ever heard, and invent a few new ones along the way. It will become your new worst friend and your new best enemy.

I know that activity is a way to combat depression, and I try to stay busy; but I also know that depression will sap you of your energy and your motivation to do things. It will remind you of the things you’ve tried and failed at–we can’t all be experts at everything, but it will tell you that you’re particularly good at failing and will flatly refuse to acknowledge any successes you’ve had. Or it will chalk them up to teamwork, or someone else’s help, or dismiss them as a fluke. It will tell you that nobody believes in your ability to succeed at anything, and that they’re completely gobsmacked if, by some unlikely miracle, you accidentally don’t suck at something sometime. It will tell you that any accolades or praise you’ve received have been people’s attempt to encourage you to keep trying, that they come from the exact same place as a parent going batcrap crazy with excitement over a toddler peeing in the potty. It will do everything it can to block you from doing things–anything, any thing–that distract you from its insidious voice.

I know that exercise is a way to combat depression, and I have over the last several months added near-daily exercise to my lifestyle. In this particular instance I am recovering from a Medical Thing That Happened(TM), so exercise is on the “do what you can, and that might not be very much yet” list; but depression will tell you that you’re not doing anywhere near enough, that you should be over it by now, that you’re being a huge wimp and should be pushing yourself more…all while it’s siphoning off what little energy you physically have and suggesting that instead maybe you should in fact just lie there a bit longer, because maybe you’re not up to going for a walk and besides it’s all hot outside and the doctor said to take it easy and to take your time with recovering and ha ha ha you’ll just take any excuse at all to keep being a disgusting lump, won’t you, because that’s all you are and all you’ll ever be. It will tell you that you’re this close to losing everyone and everything you have ever loved because you’re so disgusting, so you may as well settle in with the Doritos and the trash tv and try not to look too surprised when you die alone of a heart attack and nobody notices because everyone has left you.

I know that reaching out to people can help combat depression, and I have somehow managed (despite some social anxiety and self-image drama) to build a circle of beautiful, wonderful friends; but I also know that depression will tell you that you’re being a tremendous inconvenience to them if you try to make contact. It will tell you that they only like you because of what you do for them–that you are at best a convenient and capable assistant who can be replaced by an unpaid intern at a moment’s notice–so if you dare to ask them for anything they will immediately drop you and never look back. It will tell you that when they go out of their way to offer help, they are counting on you never taking them up on that; or that what they are secretly saying is that they want you to emotionally validate them, to congratulate them for being Such Very Nice People(TM) but that they don’t actually want to do anything (remember, you’re the giver here, never the receiver) so you have to put on your happy face and fall all over yourself about how wonderful they are and send them a thank-you note and a fruit basket but never–good god, never even once–actually accept any of the things they’re offering. Not time, not company, not assistance. It will tell you that you must never let them see you cry, then remind you that the Very Nice Doctor called you “stoic” and got all mad at you (in reality, she very kindly suggested that you give yourself time to grieve, but depression lies, remember) when you didn’t fall apart in her office.

It will tell you that you lost the baby because you are a failure at being pregnant, and it will tell you that you may have to have a D&C because the ultrasound found residual tissue in there and unless it sheds itself by next Friday that’ll mean you can’t even miscarry right. You’re a failure at being pregnant and a failure at not being pregnant. And you’re a failure at recovering physically from the miscarriage, and a failure at grieving because you’re not crying all the time and a failure at recovering emotionally because you do cry sometimes, and it’s only been a week but you should be over it by now except that you’re a failure there too because you shouldn’t be over it by now and what kind of monster would even think about being over it after only seven days; and you’re a failure at activating your support network and a failure as a wife and let’s not even get started on the state of this house, shall we, but if anyone even hints that they’d be glad to come help you will seriously consider moving to a cave in the mountains because of the shame–the SHAME, I say–of letting anyone see you as anything other than perfectly composed and capable at all times.

Depression is a goddamned dirty lying liar who lies, and it is an abusive douchecanoe who cannot be trusted, and it is a jerk with no soul and it is everything that is wrong and everything it says is wrong (even when it sounds really reasonable) and it will lie out of its lying mouth and it is a stupidhead and its face is stupid and it really, really sucks.

…And knowing all of that doesn’t fix it, so today I am coloring in my coloring book and I am petting the dogs and I am breathing, just breathing, and waiting for it to pass. It will pass. It always passes.

Dammit.

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5×12

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I present to you my great and secret shame:

IMG_20150107_123527331

Shown with small enthusiastic ferocious terrier and larger loving but ultimately pretty useless Border Collie mutt for size comparison:

"When do we get our cheeseburgers for being such good models?"

“When do we get our cheeseburgers for being such good models?”

That, gang is a bag of t-shirts. A big bag of t-shirts, which has been sitting in the closet/Moon Man’s office/the basement for…lordy, two years now? Three? Long enough that I no longer have any idea what t-shirts are in there, and had completely forgotten he ever even had the red dino one on the top.

Now hold on to my Great and Secret Shame for a minute; we’re gonna circle back around to it.

Yesterday I was talking with a Very Dear Friend; she’d checked in to see how the Smoking Cessation Plan of 2015 was coming along (for which she gets 10 billion karma points, as she was the first non-Buffalo Moon Ranch resident to do so), and we were chitchatting about how one of the most challenging bits for me is figuring out what to do with myself. It’s not just about the nicotine addiction, y’know; it’s about the habit, the repetitive action, the thing you do to fill gaps in the day. What do you do when you’re a nonsmoker who gets to the restaurant before your friend does? What does a nonsmoker do when she has 10 minutes before her next meeting, since that’s really not enough time to, say, watch an episode of Friends? These are roughly 10-12 5-minute increments through the day, y’all, nearly an hour of time; what do nonsmokers do with that hour?

Very Dear Friend suggested blocking out that hour as “Time Formerly Known As Smoking Time Which You May Not Claim And Which I Shall Use For My Own Nefarious Purposes” (I may have changed the suggested title a bit there), but the problem is that a lot of smoking time was spent in the gaps between other things–having a meeting scheduled at 1:00 meant that I would pop out for 5 minutes around 12:45. Showing up to the movies early so we could get tickets and popcorn meant taking 5 minutes to grab a quick smoke before going inside. Et cetera. And since most of those things aren’t really movable times–they’re not going to agree to push all my meetings up to be back-to-back so I can spend a free hour in the afternoon, and they’re not going to just start the movie 5 minutes early because I’m ready before they are–those gaps still exist, still need filled with some small thing.

Enter the t-shirt bag.

While we were talking, it occurred to me that perhaps what I needed was a “fidget”, a little thing I could do with my hands that would mostly leave my mind free to wander/plan blogs/try to remember whatever it is I’m forgetting at the moment, that would take about 5 minutes or could be done in 5-minute increments. I thought about dusting–I always think about dusting–and added that to the Possible Options list, along with “tidying a small corner of the world”, “lovebombing someone out of the blue”, and “some small sort of exercise”…but then I remembered the t-shirt bag.

That bag, which has been sitting forlorn and forgotten, was originally destined to become a t-shirt quilt. Not that I know how to make a t-shirt quilt or anything ridiculous like that–there are a lot of tutorials online, and a lot of instructions, and goodness knows I have a lot of friends who quilt, but I’ve never personally made one and have only the dimmest idea where/how to start. (And no, that’s not a request for help or advice; one of the things I’m giving myself permission to do in 2015 is Trying Things Without Having to Get Them Right on the First Try. This could end up beautifully, or it may end with a pile of scrap fabric and me in tears. Who knows? We’ll see when we get there. And I’ll get to do some on-the-fly problem-solving, which is never a terrible thing to do.)

So I’ve dragged the bag up from the basement, where I found it after 10 minutes of playing “where was the last place I saw that dang thing?” around the house. I’ve gathered a bin to put the cut-up pieces in, and my fabric-only scissors. There’s a reasonable chance that I’ll set up a folding card table in my office so I can work between calls, and failing that, I’ve already picked a nice spot on the living room floor where it can sit and be an eyesore and probably eventually get peed on by one of the dogs or torn up by one of the cats.

And I reckon I can use my 5-minute increments to make babystep progress with the thing: cutting the shirts apart; trimming the pieces to…the right shapes? squares maybe? still pretty fuzzy on this step; stitching them together in a meaningful way TBD. Heck, for all I know I might be about to embark on an adventure of making the world’s saddest collection of potholders, dust cloths, and trivets. We might end up with 8 patchwork pillowcases that don’t actually fit any of our pillows. There’s a very real chance we’ll end up with a garbage bag of cut-apart t-shirts and half-formed quilt blocks that ends up going back in the basement for another two or three years.

But one thing I do know is that I’ll have a way to fill those 12, 5-minute gaps each day. With something that isn’t a cigarette, and which might just turn out to be productive and lovely.

I’ll take it.

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Filed under General Musings and Meanderings, Play Nicely

King Nosmo

/flails

/flops onto couch

/looks pathetic

You guys. YOU GUYS. Everything is wrong and nothing makes sense and it’s all TOO HEAVY and it’s all pretty ridiculous when you think about it but right now it is all 100% crisis all the time and how does anyone even live like this?!?

/flings pillow onto floor

/makes tragic face

So it’s 2015 now, yay cheers etc, and 2015 has the potential to be really amazing in some very groovy ways, and blah blah bright and shining future, blah blah loads of promise, blah blah living my best life owe it to myself am incredible and deserve a body that supports my blah blah blah so I’m quitting smoking. Like, right this second I am in the process of quitting. Quitting is a thing I am doing, right now, today, as we speak–not “going to do this year” or “am planning to try” or “have started thinking about how it wouldn’t be a terrible idea”, but am currently, immediately, present-tense-verb quitting.

No, I’m not going cold turkey, because cold turkey is a thing I have tried before and I’ve got too much “shut your doodyheaded mouth, I’m a grownup and can do what I want” for cold turkey anything to work–it lasts about 15 minutes, and then I flip the table and go do whatever it is I’m trying not to do, but rebelliously this time. Instead I’m doing a self-directed stepping-down sort of thing: yesterday I smoked roughly once every two hours, which was my usual MO; today I’ve upped that to once every three hours, and will camp there for a day or two. Then every four hours, every five, every six, every as many increments as it takes to get me to the point where I forget an increment because the banshee screaming urge isn’t there anymore. Which means that today is my first real day of not just popping out for a smoke whenever I feel like it (I only smoke outside), so today is the first day that I’m having to battle the habit fo’ realsies.

And you know what I’m learning more strongly than anything else? That for me, smoking is tied to a lot of activities in my life. I got up from the computer earlier to refill my coffee cup, and my inner “smokeytime!” bell went off. Went to the restroom a bit later, noticed the dogs wanted out? Smokeytime! Thought about how I was not going to smoke yet, and maybe I should write a blog post about it, and thinking about writing the blog pinged the Smokeytime bell because I spend no small amount of time composing my thoughts over a nice cigarette before actually sitting down to write.

I smoke before we get in the car to go someplace; I smoke after meals; I smoke before bed; I smoke when I’m bored. I smoke when I take the dogs outside, and before you play the “well, just don’t go with them” card, I’ll note that our larger dog, Charlie, was a stray before he went to the shelter and was already microchipped with a defunct address so there’s about a 99% chance he was dumped by his former family and so he has profound trust issues and is perfectly happy to just pee right on the deck if I don’t go with him and watch him go down the stairs and stand there and reassure him that yes, he can come back in when he’s done. So I pretty much have to go out with them.

So I’m starting to find those niches, those places where a cigarette goes whether I’d noticed it consciously or not, as I’m brushing up against them throughout the day. And I’m finding that I’m not as murderous yet as I’d kinda expected to be–maybe that’s coming later, oh goodie–but I am confused. Like, what do you people even do if you’re not running out for a smoke every 90 minutes? How do you blog without smoking first? How do you refill your coffee cup? How do you leave the house?

It’s currently about 10 degrees here, because, y’know, January on the Great Plains. So you mean to tell me that y’all nonsmokers (I guess I’m working on joining you, so maybe I should change that to “we nonsmokers”) just, like, don’t throw on a coat and go stand outside in the arctic air ten times a day? You don’t go huddle under the overhang when it’s raining? We don’t find ourselves thinking “huh, I’m breathing awfully easily–must be time for a smoke”?

What do you do with all that free time, then? Where do you read your catalogs? What do you use your deck for, if not The Place Where You Go Smoke?

So far in my attempts to distract myself and fill those 5-to-6-minute gaps I’ve played a couple of silly little games on Facebook, read a bit of the book I’m working on, researched pear cake recipes (we have a box of lovely pears that are about to go bad, and wasting them is just not ok), and at one point just went and stood outside and did some deep cyclic breathing because how do you even measure the time if not by trips to the deck?

/sighs

/flops over

This is all just so terribly ridiculous, and so terribly difficult, and so terribly ludicrously hilarious. I’ve been a smoker for literally half my life–and for my entire “legal adult” life: one of the first things I did on my 18th birthday was buying a pack of cigarettes, just to try them, because I could. I have never been a grownup without also being a smoker. I have no idea how to make friends at the coffeeshop without striking up conversations at the smoker’s corner on the porch. I have no idea how to go to the airport without immediately identifying all the smoking-permitted zones. I have never learned how to not have a lighter in my purse at all times.

But this is a thing I am doing, because it is a thing I have decided to do, because reasons. This is a good thing to do, and I will be glad to have done it. This is a day I will be proud of–and a post I will chuckle about–later when I’m a firmly established Former Smoker Who Has Successfully Quit.

And in the meantime, I’m 7 minutes from my every-three-hours smoke break, so I’m going to go put on my jacket and get ready to go. Because while I am in the process of quitting, I’m not there yet; and for a person who craves routine, it’s nice to know for sure what I’m going to do with the 6 minutes between 12:00 and 12:06 PM.

Pray for me, y’all. And then pray for Moon Man, for strength in dealing with me.

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Filed under General Musings and Meanderings, Play Nicely