Wednesday, February 26, 2014


So, you can see I've been working out. This is on the new side for me. I'm pretty uncoordinated and have never been good at sports.

My parents were actually anti-sports. I think in their youths they had problems with bullying and the entitlement and aggression that success in athletics can bring people if they aren't careful or trained properly. I understand that. It's probably happened to everyone at some time in their life. I think my parents might have gone a little too far in the opposite direction. They never said "No! You can't play volleyball!" They just didn't encourage athletics. I did play volleyball in high school. I was even pretty not that terrible at it. I was MVP my JV year. I have a silver plate to commemorate it. Go me!

I've gone through fitness phases in the past though. Fencing club in college (hi John!), aerobics in the late 80s. I started running in 2000 but let it slide for a while.

Then came the hard times and the mid-life crisis. I wanted to get fit and strong so I'd have stamina for what Life brings. So far so good. I'm enjoying it. This morning I was trying to figure out what my sport could be.

This sounds really lame but I decided that Life is my sport. I'm not trying to minimize life by saying it's a sport. I'm not trying to see it as less dimensional. Life is everyone's sport. It's the multi-dimensional obstacle course we all engage with every day. Our team mates are everyone, whether we (or they) know it or see it that way or not. We're all playing together. I don't mean playing like a fun game, I mean engaging with our surroundings in an attempt to triumph over them.

At this time I don't think my efforts to train need to be more directed than that. Life is a perfectly acceptable sport.

What am I saying??? Life is THE  sport. Everything else is just a mini-game.

Friday, February 14, 2014

I'm Telling You About My Gym Bag

I use a retro '70s era gym bag.
Contemporary gym bags might be more ergonomic and better designed but look at the locker I use:
My shoes don't even fit in there side by side if I don't flip one around, toe to heel, to optimize space. I wonder if the men's lockers are wider? I'm on the larger side for a woman but most men are bigger than I am.

I am LOVING going to the gym. I work with a trainer once a week and she KICKS MY ASS. It feels great. I feel euphoric after wearing myself the hell out. I can barely walk (carrying the ten tons of crap I haul around - sweaty gym clothes weigh more too) to the T afterwards but I feel FANTASTIC.

One of my favorite things is being able to shower at work. They have clean towels there you can use. I don't know how I'd fit a towel in that gym bag along with my other stuff. 

I've never been athletic and was completely unfamiliar with the ins and outs of gym-going and locker room etiquette. I'm feeling less self-conscious now. I go to the sleepy, old locker room where you'll maybe see two other people at a time. There I can be dorky in peace and figure out how to manage at my own pace.

I'm still not sure about nudity though. After art school nudity isn't a big deal to me. So many naked people in art school.  I'd never sit on anything without pants on of course, but standing without clothes in the women's locker room doesn't bother me. I guess some people get weirded-out by ever seeing someone else naked outside the bedroom. Hell, we all have bodies, people.

Why am I telling you this? Maybe I shouldn't. I have a cold today and I'm kind of out of it. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Now What?

I should have gone to bed already.

Things got really bonkers crazy last Wednesday. Something kind of big and unexpected happened. Not necessarily important, just unexpected and time and thought consuming. My plans have gone off the rails again.

You know how I'd been looking forward to having my normal, non-Christmas time back so I could live my life and do my stuff? How my plan was to try to keep myself sane? Well it kind of didn't work. I felt pretty depressed. I had time to do the things I was looking forward to doing, but I didn't enjoy them.*

Now all this weird stuff has sprung up (which I'll probably end up explaining later) and I'm pressed for time again and I've had to put off some of the things I've been wanting to do. But now I'M EXCITED. I'm not depressed. My mind is occupied by something that seems urgent but is probably less important than some of the other things I need to think about.

It makes me wonder if I somehow became chemically dependent on intense emotion and stress over the last year (or so.) I learned to manage and expect a certain level of emotional effort and when that slacked my system couldn't handle it. I felt depressed because I didn't have anything concrete to fight. Is that possible? That I wasn't depressed, I was just having trouble readjusting to a less intense level of emotional demand?

I don't know. A lot has happened that I do need to recover from. I could just really need to heal from our recent losses. Maybe having time to think meant having time to face those losses without distraction. Maybe now I'm excited because what's happening is exciting. Maybe it's simple, not twisted. Maybe this is a glimpse of a new and more fun future? I can't tell.

My mind is too blown by surprise and I can't tell what's happening.

So now there's this big explosion of intense activity and I feel vital again. I wonder if this is something akin to compulsive shopping - treating a problem with the wrong medicine, getting a distracting shot of excitement that won't help in the long term? I feel less crazy now but I wonder if it's just that my head is more accustomed to this heightened level of stimulation?

Maybe I should not think about it too much and just enjoy not feeling crappy. That is an option.

*Some of the things I thought would encourage a good attitude: regular exercise, healthy eating, keeping a reasonable schedule, getting enough sleep, having enough time to myself, giving myself treats when I felt like it, getting up to Vermont to be with nature, seeing friends when I could. I was doing that. I still felt lousy.

Okay, I didn't have the balance quite where I wanted it but it was close. It wasn't far off. Feeling crappy in spite of that made me wonder if it's even possible to intentionally effect one's mood. I felt like I was doing all the right things and my moods were still completely arbitrary. I didn't even want the treats.

So now I have a mood tracker notebook. I'm tracking barometric pressure, weather forecast, everything I eat and drink and when, physical activity, general activities (everything I do throughout the day) mood changes. Did I leave anything out? We'll see where that all gets me.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Migraine In Process

I get migraines. I'm writing with one now. There could easily be typos. I can't really see reliably. Mostly I can't think reliably.

Everyone knows that migraines hurt. By God, yes they do. The most aggravating thing about them for me is that they steal your brain.

I'm lucky in that I don't get them often - just four to six times a year I guess - and that I can mediate them by taking a few Advil the minute I know one is coming on. The fact that I get a warning is lucky too because not every migraineur gets a warning. I get what they call a halo - a visual effect that I can best describe as jagged, jangly colored bars of light that sort of fizz around my field of vision in a curved line. Really hard to explain. Maybe I can draw it someday. And animate it, because it moves. And it prevents me from seeing.

You know, I'm not going to re-read this as I go because that is too difficult and painful. I'm going to come back after this thing has passed and make visible edits to make sure you understand my meaning.

So my first tip off that I'm getting a migraine is that I can't see all of whatever it is I'm looking at. Faces work best. They're usually big enough with a familiar, regular pattern so it's easy to notice that the pattern is messed up. Then I close my eyes to double check. If I see a sparkly area with my eyes shut then I know I need to find my Advil.

Of course if you're going to take three Advil at one time you'd better do it with some food in you. This is where things can get tricky. If you have a banana hanging around that's perfect. Banana then Advil and then you can find something else to pad your stomach.

I didn't have a banana today so, first challenge, I had to use my hobbled brain to think of something else quick to eat. This is where the brain stealing comes in. I settled on a bagel. Then I had to think for a bit on how you prepare a bagel. Oh yeah, you cut it in half. How do you do that? You find a knife. Where are the knives? Oh yeah, they're over there. Cutting board. Okay.

Wait, this is taking too long. You need to find something more immediate. I cut the bagel and put in toaster oven. I still want the bagel.

Oh, yeah - I also have a croissant. I could have the croissant. Non-brain-stolen me would have just seen and chosen the croissant right away. See what I mean?

So while the bagel toasts I jam down the croissant. I would have liked to enjoy the croissant more while it was going down but time is short. If I don't take the Advil soon enough I can't avoid the migraine and then the sh!t really hits the fan.

Croissant down, I need to find my Advil. Oh.

There's none in the drawer where we usually keep it. That's okay, there's some in my purse. I never leave home without Advil or earplugs (longtime rock wife) Where is my purse? Uhm... Okay found the purse. What am I looking for now? Grey bag with pillbox in it. Oh yeah. Where's the grey bag? Got it. Where's the pillbox? Rummage, rummage. Got that. ADVIL!!!! Ta-dahhh! I down three and I can relax a little now.

Coffee helps with migraines and I have some already made. I want to warm it up in the microwave. How do I work this microwave again? It's different than the one at work and the one in Cambridge and it's different from pretty much every microwave oven there ever was because they all have completely different control panels. So I stare at the keypad on the microwave for a while until by chance I notice that the last person who used it left a perfect 36 seconds of coffee reheating time on the timer. Yay! I can just hit "start." Phew.

You know, this thinking thing kind of hurts. It literally feels uncomfortable in my brain to have to think.

All of that accomplished I can get on with making the rest of my breakfast. It no longer matters how efficiently I do that, what logic problems I fail while attempting it, because I've taken my Advil and that's the only thing I can really do to help the situation.

Because I've taken my Advil in time I won't get the pounding head, the pain of which makes me want to run out into the road in front of a logging truck. I won't puke my guts out. My arms won't go numb and curl up (I don't know why they curl up - it's really weird) I won't feel like I'm probably going to die in the next hour or so. It's even possible that I won't need to sleep away then next eight hours.

Hell, I'm typing right now. That's very impressive. I feel pleased with my reasoning abilities too. I can't prepare a bagel but I can construct a paragraph. Go me! I can't go back and re-read what I've written but I think it's going pretty well as written. I'm fixing the typos that spellcheck shows me as I go. Looking up at the big wads of text above that I've already written is overwhelming though. My brain won't go there.

At this point the halo is gone and I can mostly see everything. It's a little overwhelming to see anything though. It's like the aperture to my brain is too big and there's too much light and everything is too big to fit and it's stretching the inside of my head uncomfortably. I will probably have to go to sleep until I get over that.

Migraines make it really hard to concentrate on reading a line of text so reading is out. T.V. is out. Crosswords are out. Exercise is out (jiggles the achy head), using tools is out, doing anything that requires any kind of accuracy or concentration is out. DO NOT TRY TO BALANCE THE CHECKBOOK. That would be a laugh. Video games are waaay out. No looking at moving things on a screen! Bad! There's too much light everywhere. I might as well go to bed because otherwise I'll just have to sit here and do nothing at all with my eyes shut.

I get migraines when I relax. I had big plans for today. Big, helpful plans that I was excited about. I stocked up on food so I wouldn't have to think about what I was going to eat. (Why didn't I get bananas?) I was going to catch up on some business that I'd fallen behind on. I was going to make myself a checklist to help me evaluate each week whether I'm staying on track to stay sane and to reach my goals. (One of my goals is to determine what my goals are.)

This morning is lost. Good for nothing (though I like my blog post, I think) If I go back to sleep for a few hours I might feel well enough and get enough brain power back to be able to work on the checklist. Maybe I can do the business stuff early tomorrow morning or later tomorrow evening.

There is a temptation to blame myself for getting migraines. There's a temptation to think, "if you didn't let things get so bad that you got so stressed, if you were better at time management and set more realistic expectations for yourself, if you could just stay reasonably relaxed all the time, then this wouldn't happen. You wouldn't lose this time you fought so hard to find. You wouldn't need to fight for your time." Well I did the best I could. I don't see how I could have done anything differently. I just have to get through this and move on when it's over.

I'm trying to figure out a way to do things differently and I think I'm really close. A lot of things go into triggering migraines. Actually, I bet the barometric pressure today has a lot to do with it. Everyone has stress in their life. Everyone stores it in their body and manifests it differently. That's part of being alive. Even plants deal with stress. So I'm not taking on the blame.

I will take a nap though.