Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Mood Music

Every year in forensics, we pick a "team song." In addition, Karen (the DoF) puts together a "team tape," which used to be an actual cassette tape that took hours to put together, but is now a CD. In the spring, the senior class is charged with putting together a new team tape. It still starts with the team song, but the rest of the musical choices are up to the seniors.

This year we have just one senior, but dang did he ever do a fantastic job of putting together the spring team tape! There are so many songs I'm falling in love with and trying to learn the words to! But there is one that I am completely enamored of. So enamored, I have it playing on repeat in my car. I can't help but be HAPPY when I listen to it.

Driving home today, I was listening and singing and car-dancing. Stopped at a red light, I glanced to my right, only to find a car full of high-school kids mimicking my car-dancing moves and laughing hysterically. I should have been embarrassed, but this song makes me so happy I didn't even care!

If you need to get to a happy place, listen to this . . . Gonna Have a Good Day!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

And the Oscar goes to . . .

One of the items on my 50 before 50 list is to watch all the movies that have won the Academy Award for "Best Picture." To begin, I dug up a list of them. There are 85 on the list. As of yesterday morning, I had seen 31 of the movies, which are crossed out below. (I've also given them my ranking on a scale of 5 stars.) As of yesterday evening, I've now seen 32. With 53 movies left to watch, I'm going to need to watch 2-3 per month in order to check this off my 50/50 list. Time to get crackin'!

The first movie to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, "Wings" is a silent film. At 2 hours and 20 minutes, it is also a looooooong film. Ufdah.  The basic plot (from IMDB) is: "Two young men, one rich, one middle class, who are in love with the same woman, become fighter pilots in World War I." I was bored through 85% of it. Lots of long, dramatic reaction shots - tons of footage of planes flying and crashing - and then, of course, there is all that reading that has to happen if I'm to follow the plot. When I watch movies, I usually crochet, because then I feel like I'm not wasting time. This was kind of hard to do because of, you know, the reading!

Though I was kind of annoyed (for lack of a better word) watching the movie, it managed to surprise me, in the end. There was quite an unexpected twist. If the movie were made today, it could be well done with a running time of 1:30, but the budget would be through the roof because of all the flying scenes required. I give "Wings" 2/5 stars.

I have "The Broadway Melody" ordered from the library to watch next. I think this will be an interesting experiment. When I was checking off the movies I'd seen, I was surprised - both at those I'd already seen, and those I haven't. I know the plot to Rocky and Kramer vs. Kramer, but have never actually watched them.

1927/1928 - "Wings" 1/24/2014 **

2012 - "Argo" 2/5/14 ****

2013 - "12 Years a Slave" 3/9/2014 ***

Friday, January 24, 2014


Today I have successfully completed 3 tasks: 1) I did my taxes. 2) I got our new forensics treasurer set up on the checking account. 3) I did dishes.

This shouldn't be newsworthy. But my get-up-and-go has gone-off-and-left. So accomplishing even one task made me happy. Three tasks? Ecstatic! So what's my problem? I have no idea. There is a part of me that thinks there may be some depression rearing it's ugly head. I usually fight with it this time of year, and blame the short days. This year I think it's worse because I'm still having anxiety issues.

And ya'll - Anxiety is dumb dumb dumb. It makes me feel dumb. Because logically, I can reason through things. But the anxiety makes it nearly impossible to find my logic. Example? I am terrified nearly every! single! day! that when I come home from work I will find I either have frozen pipes or my house will be flooded from a burst pipe. Some days I don't want to leave the house because I feel like if I stay here, nothing will happen. Other days, I don't want to come home because I'm terrified of what I will find. NONE of these thoughts are logical. And as I sit here writing this, I am reminded of just how ridiculous the scenarios are. But when I am in the moment with them, I can't find my way out of them.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why I'm in therapy. I had my first appointment this week, and like my therapist, B, very much. It's funny, though - I like the idea of therapy, but find the practice of it to be weird. B has suggested that when I realize I'm obsessing over something to yell "STOP!" in my head and distract myself with something else. So far, I've managed to recognize an obsessive episode just once while it was happening (after the fact, I can point them out, but have trouble recognizing them when they are happening.) I was at home and actually yelled "STOP!" out loud and scared the crap out of the cats. Their reactions made me laugh so hard that they distracted me from the anxiety-producing thought. So, I guess it worked?

It pisses me off that I can't make my brain work the way I want it to. It's irritating that I have to "work" at having a brain that doesn't get caught in a loop of anxiety. It makes me feel weak and needy - two feelings that I absolutely hate.

Tomorrow, my goal is to again accomplish 3 tasks. First, however, I'll have to get out of bed in the morning. And sometimes that is the most difficult task of all.

Monday, January 20, 2014


Last week, I had the oddest, most amazing, most humbling thing happen. I've been trying to figure out how to blog about it, but that means I have to figure out how I feel about it. And that's the difficult part. Now that I've mostly recovered from the flu, I want to do this experience justice and document the array of emotions and lessons this event drew me through.

A benefactor, who wishes to remain anonymous, told me last week that s/he wanted to make a donation to pay off some of my plumbing/water heater bills. This took me by such complete surprise, I was literally breathless. I didn't know what to say. I was touched and honored, but my first reaction was to refuse. I told this friend how amazing the offer was, but that there were people in much needier situations and I would be so happy to have the money go to someone in true need. After assuring me that s/he donated to some very needy causes, it was made clear that this wasn't something that I would be allowed to easily refuse. And so, with as much grace as I could muster, I accepted the gift.

And here's where the emotions get tricky. There is no question that this financial act of kindness is needed - I am literally more relaxed because this makes my budget infinitely less scary. But to accept this gift means I'm admitting need. I find that to be incredibly humbling. Why is it so very easy to give to others, in large and small ways, but so very hard to graciously accept a kindness that comes our way? It has gotten me thinking about the bravery it must take for a parent to step into a food pantry and ask for help in putting food on the table. Or how hard it must be to maintain a sense of self-worth when public assistance is the only thing keeping a roof over your family's heads. To be a receiver of kindness and charity is overwhelming and humbling.

I don't know that I can every fully express the depth of gratitude I have for this incredible kindness. I hope my benefactor can know the joy their gift brought to my life. I hope they experience that joy 10-fold. I do know that I will strive to honor the kindness by paying it forward every opportunity I get. And I will never forget the courage it takes to accept kindness, whatever form it comes in.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The plague

Monday I had coffee with a friend I hadn't seen in ages. I've always jokingly called B my "first friend" in Eau Claire. She is an alumni of the forensics program, and I met her my first fall at UWEC. Even though we hadn't seen other in, literally, several years (and we should be ashamed because we live in the same city!) conversation with her is always easy. We talk, we laugh, we analyze. She is married with 2 kids and I'm single with 2 cats - our lives are so very different, but we have so much in common.

After a great morning of coffee & conversation followed by a doctor's appointment, I headed home to do some class prep. I had a headache come on in the late afternoon and ended up going to bed early. Around 2am, I woke up shivering with chills. I turned up the electric blanket and tried to go back to sleep. At 4am I was all the way awake because the chills were worse, my head was pounding, and any position I slept in ached unless I moved every 3 minutes. I finally got out of bed and took my temperature. 103. Great. I took some Tylenol, cozied up in the lazy-boy with a pile of blankets and finally dug out some frozen peas to put on my forehead. My body wouldn't stop shaking, but I was burning up. I dozed a bit, but by the time 7am rolled around, I knew I was fully in the grip of the flu.

And the flu sucks. But it sucks even more when you got the damn flu shot, but STILL ended up getting the flu. To make matters even better, it was snowing out. Hard. There was no way I was going to get to the doctor because I was plowed in. Repeated advice on FB was to get to the doc so I could get a course of Tamiflu started. I could barely walk from the bed to the bathroom - there was no way I could shovel my drive.

I slept off and on through the afternoon with my temp fluctuating between 101 - 103. And the body aches - oh my gosh, they were horrid. When I nap in the lazy-boy, the cats usually come snuggle on my lap. But I wouldn't let them because their weight (all combined 18 pounds of it) was agony on my joints. At one point I really had to go to the bathroom, and I didn't know if I had the strength or balance to get out of the chair.

At about 4pm, I heard my neighbors start up their snow blower. And an hour later, they had completely cleaned out my drive and walk-way of the 9" of snow we had received. (1-3" was predicted - whatever) I would have run out and kissed them but I was barely able to stand up-right. I called Urgent Care and got an appointment right away. The drive across town was painful, but uneventful. I got right in to see the doctor and he confirmed I had the flu, one of the strains NOT covered by the flu shot. He prescribed Tamiflu, and said it should help shorten the course of the flu.

When I got home, I was exhausted - completely, utterly, totally exhausted. I got in the first dose of Tamiflu and went to bed. Wednesday morning, my temp was still hovering around 101, but I was able to move a bit more easily. My body aches were a bit improved, though my eyes were killing me. Reading or watching TV just made them hurt more. As the afternoon wore on, my headache was getting better, and my fever slowly came down. For a couple of hours in the evening, I was sweating and agitated - but then, the fever was gone. Man, that is a good feeling!

This morning, my core muscles are really stiff and sore, probably from shaking when I was chilled. My balance is wonky, so I'll be traveling with my tacky cane until I'm more sure on my feet again. I've continued to feel better throughout the day. Fever is gone, headache is gone, body aches are gone. It's amazing how good a person feels after a bout with sickness. Tomorrow, I take the forensics kids to a tournament in Iowa. Without the Tamiflu, I'm pretty sure I'd still be fighting with the 103 fever!

I'm trying to be grateful that if the plague had to hit my household, at least it chose before the semester! Here's to feeling back to normal soon!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

11 things . . .

11 Things . . .

1. I have running and working drains. I've successfully washed the 347 coffee cups and 18 spoons that accumulated over my plumbing debacle. I've also washed 2 loads of laundry. So far, the plumbing seems to be working. Given that it cost me $450, it really should.

2. I have spent the morning scrubbing floors since the roto-rooter guys made kind of a mess unclogging my drain. That's OK, because they fixed the problem.

3. I have become completely addicted to Drop Dead Diva. Why am I just now discovering it? I've been binge watching it through the Great Plumbing Debacle of 2014 and I'm going to be so sad when I run out of episodes.

4. I'm also addicted to "Beautiful Creatures," which I started listening to on my drive back from Ohio. It is a bajillionty CD's long, and sometimes I take the long way home just so I can listen to it longer.

5. My mum gave me Dunkin Donuts Pumpkin coffee in my Christmas stocking and it is freaking amazing.

6. I'm back to counting points on Weight Watchers online. How do I feel about this? Meh.

7. I am thrilled beyond belief that the Polar Vortex has finally passed and the temperatures aren't dangerous.

8. My joints are super-pissed at the changing temps. I have an appointment on Monday to get a cortisone injection into my right shoulder. While I'm not looking forward to a needle in my shoulder, I am looking forward to the pain relief.

9. I've been on a crocheting binge to go along with my Drop Dead Diva binge. I don't feel as guilty watching TV if I'm doing something productive.

10. My mum and sister are coming to visit during my spring break in March and I'm So! Freaking! Excited!

11. My cousin Shawn sent me the sweetest gift, just because I was having a horrid week. It's perfect and made my day! The cats think it's cute as well.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Waiting . . .

I still have a clog between the kitchen & the bathroom. This means I have approximately 347 coffee cups accumulated over the last 6 days, just waiting to be washed. And I haven't been able to cook all week, which means I'm getting really tired of sandwiches. To make coffee, I first have to pour the old coffee out in the shower. Run back to the kitchen to fill the coffee pot half-way with water to rinse it out. Run back to the shower to empty it. THEN run back to the kitchen to fill it with water and finally make the coffee. The good news is I'm getting in cardio without even realizing it.

The bad news is I've been waiting for the roto-rooter guy to show up since 10am. It's now 12:30. I'm going to call him at 1pm to make sure he's still coming. Because if he's not? I'm going to throw a temper tantrum. Then I'm going to get really, really drunk.

To say that my anxiety has been through the roof is an understatement. I'm hanging on by a thread, which is connected to the fucking clog in my sewer line.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


Why can't I have simple, easily-fixed problems?

I waited all day for the plumber to get here. Finally, at 3:15, he showed up. Melting snow to have water to flush the toilet got really old, really fast. I had to restrain myself from hugging Greg, the plumber, when he knocked at my door.

After crawling under the trailer, he located the cause of my problem pretty quickly - 2 places in the water line that had frozen. He got them thawed out and added some heat tape. Problem solved, right? I wish.

While Greg was finishing up under the trailer, I went through the house turning all the taps off and on, flushing toilets, etc. I let the kitchen sink run for a while, rinsing out the mountain of coffee cups that had accumulated in the 3 days since I did dishes. I ran back to put something in the bathroom and discovered a minor disaster . . . water EVERYWHERE. It was coming from the bathroom sink, which was overflowing and dripping down the cabinets and flooding the bathroom. What. The. Fuck. I grabbed every towel I could find and just started flinging them everywhere. Where was this water coming from??? Through the process of elimination, I figured out it was water from the kitchen sink. Wait, what??? How does that happen???

These are the questions I asked Greg. He checked the sewer lines for both toilets, and they were empty - which is a good thing! That means they weren't frozen. Greg's best guess is that the kitchen and bathroom sinks dump into the same line, that eventually dumps into the main sewer line. He thinks there may be a frozen section that is preventing the sinks from dumping into the sewer line. He said the frozen bit may "break loose" on it's own as it warms up over the next few days. Given that he had already been here 2 hours and I was ready to cry with frustration, I didn't ask him to stay.

The good news is, I finally got to take a shower because I have water again. The bad news is I can't do dishes unless I wash them in the shower. I am praying (seriously praying) the sewer line thaws and fixes itself because I cannot afford to have the plumber come out again.

I'm ready for a problem that is easily solved. And doesn't cost anything.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


I am trying really, really hard not to whine. Or over-react and freak out. Because my pipes are FROZEN. When I got up this morning, I turned on the tap to pour water for coffee . . . nothin'. After googling "what to do about frozen pipes in a mobile home" I was reminded once again that a mobile home is a completely different animal than a bricks & mortar home. So I called the plumber.

Remember when I had the little incident where I had to replace my water heater? And I had to first find a plumber that actually works on mobile homes? Well, at least I still had their number. Unfortunately, I'm one of many with frozen pipes, so I was put on "the list" with an estimated thaw date of tomorrow. The very kind office lady (who we figured out was actually in my listening class several years ago - small world!) advised me to close my registers and crank up the heat so more warmth would be forced into the belly pan of the trailer, which might help the pipes thaw. I figure my heating bill is going to be a bajillionty dollars anyway, so why not turn my heat up to 72. (I usually keep it at 64.)

In the hour between discovering I had no water and getting through to the plumber, I had to work really hard at not having an anxiety attack. I breathed deeply. I prayed. I kept telling myself that I had done everything I could, so I needed to let it go. I had appointments for a chiropractic adjustment and the massage therapist, and so I headed out. (By the way, brushing your teeth with no running water is awkward.)

It wasn't until I got home from both appointments, I realized I had completely overlooked the biggest impact of having no water . . . I needed to flush the toilet. The good news was, my sewer line was just fine - not frozen! But I needed water to flush. There was no way I was going to buy a dozen gallons of water just to flush my toilet.

Then it hit me like a snowball upside the head. Snow! I had a whole freaking yard full of it! So, this happened:

That's right, folks. I melted snow so I could have water to flush my toilet. I felt very pioneer-Laura-Ingalls about the whole thing. And in case you were wondering, it took 5 buckets of snow, melted down, to fill my toilet tank.

Hopefully, the plumber will be here tomorrow and get everything thawed out. I'm going to keep my anxiety in check until then, perhaps with the help of some meds (definitely with the help of some meds.)

In other news, the cats can't stop talking about how pissed they still are over the car ride back from Ohio.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Westward, ho!

After a seriously restful, relaxing and amazing holiday in Ohio, I am grateful to be safely back in Wisconsin. I wasn't planning on driving back north until Sunday, but with a huge winter storm predicted for Ohio and bitter, bitter cold predicted for Wisconsin, I headed west. Thankfully, the traffic was light and the roads were clear so I made good time.

Tomorrow, I will probably have a ridiculously long post with pictures. But for the rest of today, I'm snuggling under the electric blanket with kitties curled up on each side of me and taking really good drugs to get rid of the chest wall pain the long drive triggered. I was warned costochondritis could take months to finally go away, and I'm starting to understand the doctor wasn't joking. Ufdah.

But it sure is good to be home!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A New Year

The first blog post of a new year is intimidating. I've decided to start with a change in my blog description. Instead of dating, this year I'm going to focus on health. Physical, psychological and spiritual health.

I don't like how I feel physically. The extra weight I'm carrying makes my joints hurt more than they should. Plus, it has a negative effect on my psyche. I want to be more conscious of putting healthy things in my body more often than not. I want to be more committed to exercising on a regular basis. That may mean changing my definition of "exercise" - which I have always thought of as heart-pounding, sweat-inducing vigorous movement. My joints simply can't handle that. I'm going to focus more on things like yoga and weight training.

As for my psychological health - I'm still struggling with anxiety after my car accident. On one hand, I feel like it's ridiculous and weak that I can't get a handle on it. On the other hand, I recognize that I need some help processing it. So - I've got an appointment scheduled in January to meet with a therapist.

Spiritually, I want to make a conscious effort to be more kind. I want to be more positive instead of getting stuck in a pattern of feeling sorry for myself. I want to remember to be thankful for the many, many blessings I have, and to stop worrying about things beyond my control.

None of these things are resolutions, because I've found resolutions are only ever temporary. These are simply the things I want this blog to focus on over the coming year. Of course, sprinkled in will still be stories of the crazy stuff of life.

I'm excited to see what 2014 brings. I'm hoping that whatever the year brings, I'm able to handle it with grace and humor.

And if the odd first-date comes along, you can rest assured, I'll still blog about it!