It’s rainy and blowing.

I  love to be cozy in bed when it raining and am extra delighted by the wind.  It’s just a feeling of cozy safety to be inside and warm in such weather.  It touches on that deepest hindbrain feeling that comes from ancestors who had to deal with weather directly, living out in it.  To know I am not out in it, but safe inside is lovely.

I have a tin roof over my balcony area.  Rain on tin roofs is also a lovely sound.  It seems to hit a note in my head that resonates nicely.  Happily the place I work also has a metal roof and so I get that lovely noise quite often.

I had a lot of anxiety dreams last night.  And woke up to one that kept it’s hand on my chest even after waking.  In those moments, finding a thing I can deliberately delight in, is a path away from from the anxiety.  I usually have to look for it.  Because my mindset was already in anxiety, a significant portion of my brain wanted to consign the noise of this rain into the anxiety.  But I know that I have always enjoyed that noise while in bed.  So I recalled and considered that past delight until it arrived in the present.

This post is part of the process.  Sometimes the delight does not come spontaneously.  Sometimes it needs to be pulled out of the ground like a paleontologist pulls out a dinosaur bone.  Much digging into my memory, much slow and deliberate brushing off of that remembered feeling, much consideration of where the delight belongs in the moment I’m living right now.

It doesn’t always work.  But it seems to have done today.  The pressure is off my chest.

 

 

Creepy And Accurate

So I don’t use Instagram much, but I do have an account.  I just clicked on it out of boredom and began scrolling.  Almost immediately I was presented with ads that were decidedly well aimed.  Very well aimed.  I clicked on 3 ads in a 40 minute scroll through my instagram feed.

I think I’ve intentionally clicked on 3 ads in the previous 3 years before that.  Maybe longer.  I just don’t click.  In fact I mostly don’t see them because I have an addblocker extension in Chrome.  Sometimes I unblock on creator’s website and see their ads.  Google ads are nearly always reminder ads of places where I shopped.  It’s super easy to resist because that decision was already made and I’ve already seen the things.

But Instagram is an app on my phone, so no ad block.  It’s a Facebook company,  and their ad targeting is much more insidious.  They know who I am.  They put things in front of me that I’ve never seen before. Things that intrigued me and made me go look at the product.  A portable microscope camera that you can attach to your phone and look at stuff in microcosmos – like right out in the real world!  A clean key that can be used to press buttons on credit card machines and ATMs and also has a hook that will let you use it to grab some door handles. – a practical and useful thing in this day and age.   A tablet that is geared toward writing rather than typing made an appeal to the old person inside me.

On the one hand, I guess it’s nice to see something new that fascinates me.  On the other hand, it just knew me way too well.  That portable microscope – so niche.  But I was within an ace of spending money on it despite it being an utterly useless thing in my life and me being short of money due to a cut in hours.   I bought the clean key though.  It was expensive but I have to use a keypad to get into my apartment building.  I’m constantly aware of how many surfaces I touch when I’m out in the world.  I think it’s going be necessary to find ways to mitigate this in the next year.  This feels like a good option.

The truth is I’m more pleased to be seen by the computer overlords than upset that algorithms snoop so much.  I’m not even on Facebook.  I only have instagram.  But the people I follow on instagram are apparently a big clue as to who I am.   Sigh.  I’m pretty sure I should be outraged.  That’s what everyone else says.  But, hell.  It wasn’t a bad experience.  It was kind of good.

Music in Headphones

There is something transformative about music when you listen to it in headphones.  I suppose it’s because there is no other noise that can come in.  But it seems to make the music so much richer and deeper.  If you didn’t want to dance to  an upbeat song, put on your headphones – it will slip inside your brain and you will be nearly unable to stop the movement your body wants to make.

I love how headphones just wall off the world.  When I’m experiencing anxiety I feel like I am clawing out of my skin. But I can put on headphones and my brain will recalibrate.  It doesn’t have to be music, but music is best.  A podcast or novel will also work though.  I think a great deal of my anxiety is triggered by sounds.  Happily, it can also be silenced by sounds.

I recall reading an article about how you can see the rhythms of music in someone’s brain MRI (or perhaps it was a different sort of scan) But they could see the brains activity sync up with music.  It’s an actual thing that’s happening in my brain when I retreat into the headphones.

I think when anxiety is crawling around inside me – it’s like my brain is experiencing the static that used to be seen on TVs back in the day of antennas and 4 or 5 local channels.  When you turned the dial to a channel that didn’t exist locally – the screen would be this garbled and skewed grey scale chaos and the noise was a harsh static.

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But when I tune into music through the headphones my brain is adjusts itself to that and the static disappears.  And that uneasy crawling of unreasonable aprehension ceases.

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Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

I am lucky to live in a time of headphones.

Saved by the Gravy

I decided to make a meatloaf.  Not my mother’s meatloaf, which is officially the best meatloaf on the planet, but a made up one, because I can’t remember my mom’s recipe.

It was fine.  It was saved by the gravy, which honestly, what isn’t?

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I’m considering how to fry it up for a nice meatloaf sandwich tomorrow.  I sort of recall my friend’s mom used to slice hers up cold and then do a breading on it and fry it.  Which…. hmm.  Maybe?  Anyone have leftover meatloaf ideas?

My mom’s meatloaf was not conducive to that sort of thing.  It was juicy and crumbly and while it generally hung together it wasn’t committed to it.  But this mess I made is probably going to meld itself into hard pieces when cold.  And so I think it should do fine in a bit of a fry up.

Still.  I’m glad I made it.  There is a good sort of satisfaction to making a true and full meal.  I rarely ever do it.  The closest I come is curries or casseroles.  Usually I just have my potato and veg.  Or a burger.  Or a sandwich.  But meat, veg and starch is not common for me.  It always feels like too much bother for just me.

So I guess, despite it being a fairly meh meatloaf, I’m rather pleased with the meal.

The smell of bread baking

Is there anything quite so lovely as the waft of yeast bread filling your nose and then your soul?  It seems to have so much unspeakable meaning.  Home and Wellness and Love and Joy and all of it in a swirling of delight.

Sadly, it’s not my bread that is baking right now.  One of my neighbors has taken to baking.  I’m just pleased to have had the gift of the smell.

I’m quite excited now for the flour I ordered from Janie’s Mill to arrive so I can bake some for myself.   I was feeling deeply guilty about buying it.  It costs the moon.  And considering the unstable state of my job, I shouldn’t have done it.  But there isn’t a bag of flour anywhere in the Grocery.  And I am supporting Celi from Kitchens Garden and supporting a small business by doing it.  And I love bread.  And it’s excellent flour that didn’t strip the land of all it’s goodness.  And those are my reasons.  So.

I will try to remember to take some pictures and post them for you all when I get the flour and bake my bread.

EEEEEEK.  My flour arrived just now.  I’m soooo pleased.

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Hello Spring!

It’s here!  Its really here.  Don’t even try to point out weather forecasts.  I saw THIS in my front yard.

That’s right, skeptics.  That’s a tiny purple clover and a tiny yellow – something I don’t know but it was definitely a flower.  The landlord here has committed ONLY to mowing the lawn and so it’s a happy conglomeration of weeds.  Clover, dandelions, tiny white flowers and a morning glory infestation.  And all of that just cheers me up so much.  I cannot wait for all of it to burst forth.  I really have no idea why we have idealized a monoculture lawn of grass.  Because this lawn is gorgeous.  And requires so little effort.

Those little flowers combined with a beautiful sunny morning in the mid 50s gave me a feeling of delight, gratitude and hope.  It’s been a rather yuck winter.  Not because the weather was particularly bad.  It was a very mild winter here.  But my mood was bleak.  And those tiny burst of color just drained all the bleak out of my mood and filled me with light.

Even The Great Toilet Paper Panic of 2020 couldn’t kill it, despite things being quite scary at work.  Our business went into the shitter in a huge way.  We do transportation for people and all the corporations cut travel out.  All the schools cancelled.  All the big events we service cancelled.  It’s weird to watch a thriving business suddenly teeter in on itself.  Hopefully we can weather the storm.

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The delight of a cat’s fur

To be clear, the delight is when it’s still part of the cat.  When it exits the cat, it’s something else we won’t be discussing.

My cat, her Calico Highness Bijou, has the kind of fur that I delight in. img_20180721_151556883 It’s short to middling long, very fine and very very thick on her body, giving her a sort of soft fluff.  Petting her is a combination of sensations.

There is the softness that comes from so much fur that it squishes a bit when you stroke her and the silky softness that is inherent to the fineness of it.  When you pet her, she is particularly pleased by rubs around her ears, which means you also get the lovely low vibration of her purrs.  img_20200207_105352

All in all, it’s a tiny moment of delight when she comes up to receive her homage from me.  I can be in a deeply ugly place in my brain and if I can just switch it into being present enough to feel and enjoy the moment with Bijou, life gets just the little bit lighter, that little bit that comes from the delight.

 

The Joy of Buster

Last week was a particularly craptastic week but was relieved by one moment of light.  A tiny very brown puppy with floppy ears and enormous eyes arrived in a box sitting on a red tea towel and looking slightly worried.

Buster Brown, as he was later christened, had been temporarily part of one of the dispatcher’s households but the extant dog was violently against the puppy and it was deemed safer for the puppy and the children playing with said puppy if it did not stay.  So, an empty nest couple who work evenings agreed to adopt Buster.  Consequently, he arrived in his box looking a bit nervous and cowed.

And thus I was introduced to him.  After spending a day in near tears, suddenly all the anxiety and exhaustion that had plagued my day fled in the face of a brown face with large eyes.

Buster is never going to be big.  He’s a dachshund/chihuahua mix.  He is a gorgeous chocolate brown color that I have rarely seen so perfectly and beautifully grown in a dog’s coat.  He has lovely soft ears and is calmer than I would have ever assumed any offspring from those two breeds could be.  And right now he is just about the size of a man’s hand.

Happily, Buster was surreptitiously brought back again the following evening, after the big bosses had left.  He’d had time to be recognize the safety and love that was his new home and had lost the sad worried look.  One of the girls in the office took him off his leash and ran him up and down the office space and he had all the spunk and happiness that is puppies.

I hope that Buster visits us regularly.  He is a boon to my mental health.  A temporary relief to anxiety and sadness.  Joy is his vocation.

I’m sorry I don’t have a picture of the Joy of Buster.  Perhaps I will remember to take one this week if he visits, instead of just enjoying him.

 

So that Christmas Sucked.

I had decided it was best not to go the family dinner.  I wasn’t upset about it.  But it bothered my coworker, so she got her brother, one of our bosses, to invite me to his house for Christmas dinner.

I would have been fine without going, but felt it would be churlish to say  no.  So I got in the car to drive to dinner and while I was driving my phone kept dinging with text messages.  I ignored them because I don’t pick up my phone while I’m driving.

I pulled up to the curb at my boss’s house and picked up the text messages.  My sister.  Telling me that my nephew had had a cardiac arrest on her kitchen floor and was being air-cared to a hospital near me.  They live in a small town about 40 miles outside of the city.  My nephew is 36.

I didn’t go to the dinner and spent the next week going to the hospital.  In the end he had a defibrillator-pacemaker put in for what the doctors think is a genetic electrical heart issue.  Long QT syndrome.

I cannot tell you how grateful I am that we live in an age with modern medicine and technology.  I’m fairly sure my grandfather died of this.  Just suddenly with no warning at the age of 59, while waiting for a train.   My nephew on the other hand will be able to live a long, reasonably normal life.  Because he had his experience 60 years later.   In a world with 911, and CPR and those shock machines and air care and finally – an implantable defibrillator-pacemaker.

Of course none of that would have mattered if my nephew had this alone.  His event was witnessed.  People were there to help.  It matters – having someone there immediately – matters tremendously.  No one in the room knew CPR, but the 911 operator just walked them through it until the first police officer arrived and took over.  The EMTs had to shock him 4 times to bring him back from the flat line.   My sister said his eyes were open the whole time.

4 people who loved him desperately had to watch that, and as horrible as that was emotionally, it was their presence and actions that saved him.  I hope that gives them some level of comfort when those horrible memories intrude.

If you know a first responder, give them a hug.  They matter so much.

 

 

The Incident of the Chicken in the Office

So yesterday afternoon, I heard a driver walk in and say – “Traffic is backing up because a chicken is crossing the road.”  I assumed he was being facetious about the way idiots drive in weather.  It had been raining all day.  For days.

But as it turns out.  Nope.  A chicken literally crossed the road and began wandering around our parking lot.   Across the road is an empty White Castle building and a check cashing place.  Behind them is a shopping plaza.  Yeah – who knows where the chicken came from.   Someone suggested that some homeless people were keeping chickens in the scrabble behind the check cashing place.  Seems… unlikely?  But then again a chicken had crossed the road.

We are a transportation company, so it’s not a good place for chickens.  At least not ones that wish to maintain their healthy well being. But this chicken would not be caught.  Several people chased it to much comic effect, but no one caught it.  Chickens are smarter than city people is my takeaway from that.

So, as we had work to do, we left the chicken to it’s own devices.  Or I did.  The rest of the office was on full chicken alert.  Calls were made, plans were devised, various people with “chicken experience” were consulted.  Meanwhile the chicken made itself at home by hopping on a window sill to roost.  img_20191210_172839

After much debate, animal control was called but they wanted money to pick up a chicken.  I was pretty sure the boss would pay for it, so I went in to tell her about the chicken.  I think other than watching a chicken chase around a bunch of young men, that was my favorite part of the chicken incident.  She, quite naturally, was incredulous.  We had to walk her out to meet the chicken.

In the meantime, someone remembered that we actually had a coworker who raises chickens.  So the animal control option was dropped.

A dispatcher walked out and caught the chicken with literally NO FUSS.  In complete contrast to the city slickers who ran around the parking lot like a bunch of idiots.  Spending as much time being chased as chasing the chicken.

Someone who lives a few blocks away had gone home and gotten a pet cage.  We put the chicken the pet cage with bird seed and water.  A Bus Driver who raises chickens was going to take the chicken home to add to her flock.  And then sadly all the chicken chaos was over.