Monday, August 3, 2015

The Gym

I work heavy construction. Which is not in the least bit easy at the tail-end of 5 decades on earth, let alone 120+ pounds overweight. Well, I went to work, and work peeled 25 pounds from me. Mind you, the arthritic knees that I must have been developing over a period of time decided to announce themselves with awful clarity the first full week I was working (we told you 6/10s? We really meant 7/12s! Go zero to one hundred sixty in nothing point flat!), and my feet may never talk to me again (truly. What isn't hurting has gone rather numb.) But 25 is 25 and I mean to never become reacquainted with those pounds again.

However. What the winds of fortune bring they often take away again. My job, projected to last 6 months, lasted a little better than 5 weeks for me. That's the story of "field" construction, a classification of work that is inherently unstable for a whole slew of reasons, only some of which have anything to do with actual job performance. I'm at peace with the whole I'm unemployed again bit. What I'm really agitating about is A) Maintaining exercise pace, B) Continue weight loss (hey, still got 100 pounds to go!), and C) Get This House Decluttered so I can get it clean.

I've got an exercise schedule mapped out, check. Fell off the bandwagon a little nutritionally but climbing back aboard (the plate, by the way, was a good idea. I continued it by getting little Lock&Lock containers, 6 ounces apiece, for more help in the portion control department.) What is driving me batguanocrazy right now is the horrendous clutter in my house. Now I have to develop a strategy to get rid of what it's necessary to get rid of, not an easy thing when I get so ridiculously attached to things. Stuff. Inanimate objects that I've imbued with some memory, so that throwing away the object feels perilously close to throwing away a memory. Gah. Then there is the whole oh my goodness gracious there is just so MUCH stuff to deal with paralyzer. There. Is. Just. So. MUCH. To deal with, that I can't even begin to wrap my brain around it all.

Well.

One step at a time.

One room at a time.

One corner of a room at a time, if need be.

I think I'm going to start with my sewing table and then go through Stash Mountain. Then I'm going to have deal with the piles of paper that have been accumulating through the last 18 years or so. Just 'cause Mom held on to every piece of parchment she ever laid hands on doesn't mean I have to. Some things just need to be gone through and let go of already. While doing this I have to arrange the woodworking area into a working shape, because MB has done what I asked of him (cleaned his room and kept it clean) and now it's time to build that loft bed for him. Since we're going to be tearing his room apart anyway, we're going to clean, patch, and paint his walls for the first time in more than a decade.

I have patterns of behavior that have lasted for decades and Oh My will it be difficult to alter.

Monday, May 25, 2015

I Bought A Plate Today

I bought a plate today. It doesn't sound like much, but I'm hoping it will be.

It's hard to explain the inside of my skull at this moment. Part of me is working on digesting breakfast, another is thinking that my teeth feel mossy and I could go brush them but I might wake up DBS and I don't want to do that. A bit of my brain is groggily asking why in the heck we didn't stay in bed until we got the full eight hours, but it lost the argument to the section that said we really need to get up right now, because it's an emergency. 

Some time this week I tipped the scales at 280 pounds. That would be slightly overweight for my 6' 4" brother, who has always been built like a redwood, but it's disastrous for my past-middle-aged 5' 7" (and shrinking) frame. It is an emergency, and right now I'm doing battle with myself on more than one front. I have this tendency to be extremely binary when confronted with something I want to get done yesterday: I'm either all in, planning obsessively and trying to accomplish in two days what other people might take a few months or even a couple of years to do, or I'm sitting on the sidelines moaning about what a miserable failure I am for not being able to establish and maintain that pace. However, when it comes to the weight, I've always known that it was going to take a permanent lifestyle change. I've balked. I haven't really wanted to acknowledge that I can't eat like a teenager anymore. I didn't really want to look the requirement for daily exercise in the eye. So much cozier to curl up with the computer and a warm mug of denial. 

Also, and this sucks to admit, I am lousy at creating and sticking to routines. It feels as if there is something unstuck in my brain, some circuitry that didn't get wired correctly. Everybody else that I know seems to be able to get routines in place and stick to them. What is wrong with me that this simple little task seems so completely beyond my abilities? I've been able to create a healthy lifestyle but I've never been able to stick to it past a few months. No matter what I want to be doing with my life I always manage to get derailed. 

I need to lose approximately half my current body. 

I suck at creating and maintaining routines.

I need to set up an accountability system that works for me, even if it looks like the weirdest thing on the planet to anybody else. 

I need to get over feeling ridiculous and ashamed. That I'm lugging around 130 extra pounds doesn't change the essential me - who, for the record, is pig-headed and proud-minded and also immovable once I've planted my flag and raised the battle-cry.

I'm also the one that took 25 years to learn how to knit. And the better part of a decade figuring out how to spin yarn. Which, if I only looked at the pattern dead-on, means that I do master the skills. It just means my learning curve looks more like a series of brick walls that I run into repeatedly until they fall over. I'm fairly convinced that this characteristic may be my true immutable nature. I learn a lot of things quickly and painlessly, and the stuff that is difficult for me I just bloody myself on until I get it right. 

So I've set a goal of three hours of exercise a day for the rest of my mortal existence. I don't have to have a particular exercise, it just has to get my heart rate up at least 3 hours out of 24. My goal today is to walk 2 miles.

My second goal is to reconfigure my eating habits for the rest of my life. My goal for today is to work on portion control. Which is why I got myself a plate. Just one. Just one plate that is 20% smaller than the dinner plates I usually eat off of. Less surface space, less food, and if it's just psychological sleight of hand, so what?

One step at a time. 

One brick wall at a time.

I'll get there.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Well Then

It looks like it was my mistake, but one in I.D., not necessararily math. We'll know more when the amended paperwork comes through. Whew.

Also, hurrah for professionalism. I think the I.R.S. needs more money, not less, if only to give a raise to the employee who helped me straighten out this kerfluffle. Which reminds me, I need to compose a note of thanks and send it off.

Put me down as that rare breed of folks who's had nothing but positive experiences with both the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Internal Revenue Service. Now mind you, that might change in the future - crud happens, even the best employees have down days, etc. - but they do a job that we as a society have deemed necessary, and they're often doing it after their higher-ups have played politics with both budget and p.r.. As somebody, and I'll have to check out whom, once said, Getting mad at the I.R.S. is like getting angry at the grocery store clerk because the price of eggs went up. Ya wanna get peeved at the way the whole tax code is bonkers? Go growl at your congresscritter. They made the laws that the I.R.S. is bound to enforce.

Monday, April 13, 2015

expletives deleted

IRS says we're only entitled to half of what my math said we're entitled to. Actually, I'll take their word for this because presumably they understand the forms better than I do. But ouch, that hurts. My crazy is because I've been doing our taxes for years and they've just been getting more complicated. I'm a reasonably intelligent human being but this has gotten ridiculous. Our money flow doesn't change that much from year to year but the paperwork for handling not-making-much-money has gotten multiplied. I wish the Feds would just do the taxes for people under a certain income since they already have the information (seriously, if they've got enough info to know I didn't dot an i or cross a t and I didn't carry the 1 or subtract the 0, then they've got enough info to do my taxes without me having to do the April 15th Hokey Pokey).

Gah. Feel miserable. DBS was so counting on that money :(.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Plans For Saturday: Get Wrapped Up Like A Mummy

I'm not sure how much this is going to cost me, though.

I am too large to fit the dress forms I can afford. Heck, even if I were fighting fit and at my doctor's preferred weight for me I probably wouldn't be able to use a conventional form, since I'm unconventionally shaped (i.e. like a real woman).

So, the solution appears to be that I make my own. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, the last time I tried it my husband got really bored half-way through the process. Who could blame him? Wrapping your spouse in paper tape is just not as much fun as it sounds. Also, this is when I realized that I really had gained a huge amount of weight and that the shape that I was carrying around in my head did not match the shape that emerged from that first round of dress-form making. I won't say I cried, but it certainly shook me up quite a bit.

That half-formed form got thrown away. It's a small house, and already cluttered, and if I wasn't going to use the thing, then it needed to go away, so away it went.

Well, my January of Project Expectations decided that sewing-for-me was going to be a priority. If that's going to be the case, then a dress form is needed. And if I can't afford a professional dress form, then a dress form must be made. I'm not going to make the poor spouse go through that again, so I'm going to have to bribe Banshees. I'm not sure my budget is up to it.

Branching

Since most of my deep dark ugly gripings are going to be confined to the 3k A Day Project - which is purely personal griping and therefore nonbloggable - I thought I would branch out to other subjects that I can talk about without annoying myself unduly.

I did not make a single New Year's Resolution. No, I waited until the end of January before realizing that I had, in fact, collected a whole bunch of projects that I wanted to get done this year. Because life is short and, if I'm lucky and remain in good health the whole time, I might have two and a half decades left. If I'm unlucky I could get hit by space debris this afternoon and the whole thing will be moot anyway. But between this afternoon and 25 years hence, there are a few things I'd like to achieve.

I want to get better at sewing, and I want to sew stuff I'm going to wear, and I want to do it this year. This does, of course, mean taking me as I am now and not some hypothetical skinnier creature I might be in the future. Of course I might be skinnier in the future, but that's then, this is now, and if I lose weight then I'll sew myself new clothes. The hazy projects I have in my head include titles like Mrs. Claus and Edwardian Librarian - heck, I think I've liked late Victorian/Edwardian costume since before I even knew there was such a thing. I want to make nice dress shirts and sturdy work shirts and pajamas and other such fripperies. I ordered patterns for a corset and a bra, because I generally start with complicated projects and work my way into simpler things. (A corset?!? I'm still wondering why I have to do things the hard way.)

I want to learn how to draw, to work with polymer clay, and I want to learn how to make fences and gates. That isn't as non-sequitur as it may sound, but I'm not sure I have the terminology to explain myself succinctly. I am a metal worker. I like metal. It behaves itself around me, or it would if I could talk to it more clearly, but I like it. I'm more natural with metal than I am with wood. Wood argues with me and wins most of the time. I want to make forged metal gates and I want to make them art - so far I'm really attracted to art nouveau stylings, the simpler flowy styles, not the stiffer and busier and rococo bits. I don't have the money for the gear and I don't have space for the works and I don't have the freedom for a learning curve, but yeah, gates and fences in forged metal appeal. They go along with my Practical Artwork leanings. More on that anon.

I want to get my room, my house, and my yard decluttered and in working order, and in just about that order. I'll never be organized, but life will be simpler if I don't have to wade through several cubic feet of detritus to get to what I want. I'll probably have more workspace too, once I've gotten through the general noise.

Oh, yeah. I have 14 containers of yarn. I want to knit through half of that by December 20-something. I don't want my heirs to have to deal with Stash Mountain.

I want to soap more and make lipbalm and write.

Late in the day and fairly late in my life I think I've discovered that I'm a latent artist. Maybe not a full fledged one, or maybe just an unskilled one that needs a lot of practice, but I like to create beautiful practical things.

This is the year I've decided to actually get better at doing them.

The Tactile Equivalent of Coffee

I have been feeling unhappy with myself lately. And if you've read my last few posts, you've probably gotten that vibe loud and clear. I have, however, a few steps to take to clear my head of the cobwebs and, dear reader, writing is one of them.

Well, the first step is realizing that one of the reasons I'm feeling lower than whale dung is that I spend far, far too much time on the computer doing nothing much. Nothing like wasting most of a day, or a week, or a month to make you feel like maybe, just maybe, you could be doing something better. Staring at a monitor for eight to twelve hour days is marginally worth it if you're making money doing so, but if you're only making yourself miserable - well, one does have to question one's sanity at some point. Or at least the wisdom of certain life choices.

So. Half a pot of coffee and the tactile equivalent of caffeine, which for me means writing. It gets my brain going and gives me motivation to do things other than waste my life. I have a back yard to dig up, fer goodness' sake.

But yeah, one miserable gripe. I wish my spouse would either be on my schedule, or that I could give a few damns less about whether or not I wake him up when I'm working my routines. He has an online game that he just loves, but it basically chains him to a computer for weeks at a time, not counting work time. He goes to sleep at six in the morning and sleeps until whenever, which means I can't fully access part of my workspace. It's a small house, so there is no 'extra space' to clear out to have a place of my own. That bedroom is it, and he occupies it when he wants, for as long as he wants.

Part of the problem is that we're both introverts, him more than me (I still find that astonishing, by the way), and the way he gets his alone time is when everybody is asleep. The way I get my alone time is everybody is out of my room and when the door is closed, they leave me alone unless the house is on fire or there is a copious amount of blood to be dealt with. I think I'm going to have to be more open and insistent about my need while trying to accommodate his - this may mean a more sharply defined schedule (as in: I don't mind you playing until 6 a.m., truly, but you need to be out by 1 p.m. so I can have my cave back. This means that between 1 and 6 p.m. I am not available for any reason.)

For my sanity and my productivity, we need to come to an accommodation. Either that or I build a hut in the back yard and live there.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Situational Blues tune

I am, I think, a tad depressed. Not the clinical sort, but the situational sort. There isn't enough money in the budget. There hasn't been enough money in the budget for a long, long time. As far as I can tell, there will never again be enough money in the budget. Which sucks, since I really like things like being able to paint the house and hire tree extraction specialists and put down carpet when the old one is so threadbare that it's entirely missing in places. It hurts, because the job my husband does is important and should be paid accordingly - not lavishly, but accordingly. And I wish I lived in a country that actually does value the family instead of just paying lip service to the idea and then snarling at people when they do have families to take care of. How do you find a well-paying job when the entire system is rigged so that only the CEOs actually matter? Everybody else is told that they're starving because they're lazy and/or undereducated when it's really just that they aren't a CEO of a major corporation. Be the CEO of a major corporation and you'll make out like a bandit, even if the company you're representing goes bankrupt and then goes under.

I can't fix the world. Not even one little corner. There are days when I can't even fix me, not even the slightest bit.

I do, however, know how to start. Little things, little pieces, little ways of doing things differently until something works. Staring at computer screen all day can make me crazy. Working with my hands makes me feel better. Thinking about all of the ways my life has gotten worse and doesn't ever look like it's getting better - well, no kidding that thinking that way is going to just spiral me down and out. So getting a project going that gives me something to show for my time, yeah, I know it isn't perfect and it won't solve everything but it will solve this one little thing for this brief period of time. Maybe, if I get lucky, I'll be able to string enough of those along to make it worth feeling better.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Pseudoscience Has Gotten Too Damned Deep

I have friends. I have acquaintances. Some are knitters, some are homeschoolers, some are something else. There are liberals, conservatives, and libertarians. There are Christians, NeoPagans, incipient Hare Krishnas, agnostics, and athiests.

And every single group has at least one member that never learned an ounce of critical thinking. They believe that vaccines are dangerous, that measles and other communicable diseases aren't, and that Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils are actually a thing.

They think I'm a goddamn moron for thinking that double-blind studies actually, like, tend to prove things. That epidemiology is an important field of study with a goddamn pedigree and a history of success.

They dismiss vast mountains of evidence in favor of massive malodoriffic amounts of vaporous anectodotal accounts. Yes, when I'm angry the alliteration proliferates.

They think that the opinions of scientists and pseudo-scientists actually carry the same amount of weight.

They couldn't begin to tell the difference between a scientist and a pseudo-scientist even after examples of both bite them on the asses and offer up proof. Want a rabies shot with that, or do you want to bet that your healthy eating habits will keep you from developing hydrophobia?

No, an "all natural" lifestyle isn't going to protect you from a virus. No amount of superdosing with any sort of vitamin is going to keep you from getting polio, or measles, or mumps, or whatnot. A virus does not care how healthy you live or whether you juice kale on a regular basis. A virus cares whether or not it can get a foothold on your system before your immune system can kick it out. A vaccine gives your immune system a heads-up on what the bug looks like so your immune system can gear up before the virus can get a foothold.

It ain't rocket science, people. It's immunology, and it's fleeking important.

Yes, modern waste management helped lower some disease occurrences - but after vaccines were introduced mortality dropped like a fucking rock.

No, these diseases weren't mild childhood contagions no worse than a cold. They killed, they maimed, they devastated, they did not take prisoners and they rampaged through populations without mercy or favor. Mine is the first generation to have virtually no first-hand memory of what these diseases could do, but my parents could remember the fear, and believe me, I had every shot known to mankind as soon as they were available to the general public. My parents may not have been perfect, but they sure as hell did not want to lose me to one of the childhood diseases this generation treats so cavalierly.

Go to old cemetaries. Read the headstones, and take note of how many of them were under the age of 10.

Read on the stones how many parents buried their children.

I am an imperfect parent. I have made mistakes, some of them dire, and I keep trying to learn and get better at the job. But job number one as a parent is to make sure that my children outlive me, and one of the earliest and easiest and best ways of ensuring that is to make sure they get their vaccines in a timely fashion. And because medicine is as much art as it is science, I want everybody who is able to receive a vaccination to receive that vaccination, because vaccinations are not 100%. Some people who get them will never, ever get ill with that disease. A small number will get a mild version of the disease. In a much smaller number still the immunization won't take and that tiny percentage will get the full-on disease. The more people who receive the vaccines, the less likely that the small percentage who don't receive full or even any protection against the disease will even encounter the disease. Those who can't be vaccinated are even more protected against the virus when those who can vaccinate, do so.

The numbers, the research, the science behind a vaccination might be difficult for some to understand, but JHC on a rubber-crutching chicken, the idea behind it is not.

Oh, and all y'all who believe in aroma-therapy? It isn't new. People carried bunches of flowers around to protect themselves from the Black Plague. History shows that didn't work out too well for them.