Monday, September 26, 2011

Mid-life crisis

I turned 35 this week.  It would have been just another birthday, except for several other events that happened at the same time.

One, after many years of ignoring my health, I finally scheduled a comprehensive physical exam, and the most convenient date for the exam happened to be the morning of my birthday.  Two, around 2am the night before, I woke up with a pretty bad migraine and took the usual high dose of caffeine that knocks out the migraine for me.  By the time of my appointment, the migraine pain was gone, but my blood pressure was really high, probably due to the caffeine.  I had to get a follow up visit scheduled to check on that.  Third, I got poked in the arms three times with needles during and after the appointment.  I came away feeling bruised and mortal.

Fourth, the day before my birthday I had dinner at my mother's house.  She mentioned that her 35th birthday was one of her worst.  My paternal grandfather had just died at the age of 70.  She had to face the fact that her life might be half over.  Fifth, I've been feeling kind of low.  Part of that is the migraine.  But part of that is an inability to keep myself interested in tasks that I used to find enjoyable.

Anyway, I have decided the fix for all this is to have myself a really nice, big, whopping mid-life crisis, and so I've set out to plan a good one.

Unfortunately, I've already run into several snags.  Many typical mid-life crises involve the purchase of large toys, but I'm not very interested in a new sports car, since I don't really like to drive and the freeway is totally torn up here.  I missed the season for a boat, and frankly I don't want the hassle of getting it licensed and hauled around.

I've also considered and discarded the idea of having an affair with a younger man.  That just sounds really creepy.  Ew ew ew.  I don't know how all those middle age men stomach the idea.

I looked into a possible career change, but apparently it will be more difficult than expected to sell my first novel.  And even if I sell the novel, there's still a small chance that I won't reach the best-seller list immediately, and somehow the bills have to be paid in the mean time.

So anyway, I'm feeling kind of stuck, which isn't helping (see feeling low, above).

For now, I'm going to settle with folding laundry and then doing some homework.  But meanwhile, if you have any good ideas for a fabulous mid-life crisis, I'd be happy to hear them.

Monday, September 19, 2011


Tim cleaned the garage over the summer.  It looks spectacular.  And what do you know?  It really can fit two cars.  After all.  The garage hasn't been this clean since it was built.  No, it wasn't cleaned out by the previous owner when we moved in.  In the freezer that was left for us, for example, we found steaks dated 1976.  There was also a box of the former owner's photos, a box of toys with the name of his 44-year-old daughter on the outside, and some old fabric.  To this collection and more, we added our stuff over the past three years, including construction supplies, boxes, bikes, windows, wood, paint....

Cleaning out a garage involves several trips to Habitat for Humanity, and a couple of trips to the dump.  But when you're finally done, you can take out the patio chairs and just sit out there and gaze at the clean-ness. Wow.  That was a project.

Me, I've been processing fruit again since July.  This year, I tried making more jam.  Cherry, black raspberry, plum, blackberry.  I've also made a lot of fruit rolls, in cherry-apple, black raspberry, plum, apricot, and pear.  In late July, I dried sour apples, and made some dried apricots.  It's lovely to live in a former fruit orchard, but there is a price to be paid.  The price is in time, evenings and weekends.  Taking care of fruit is a huge project.

Oh, and guess what Tim found when cleaning out the garage?  A massive fruit dehydrator, much like the one we purchased last year to deal with all our fruit.  Maybe I'll clean it out and we can use two massive dehydrators in parallel, but frankly, that sounds too exhausting.  I am ready to move onto other projects now.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Not remembering

Some things ought to be remembered.  But I don't want to be the one to do the remembering.  I've been avoiding images, articles, analyses, reflections on that date 10 years ago.

I was a graduate student in California.  I had been married just over two years, and Tim and I lived in a small, 600 square foot apartment.  On the west coast, we didn't even wake up until the tragedy had happened.  It didn't unfold for us.  It had already happened.  We woke up, tried to get online to read the news, but found our favorite news site phenomenally slow.  We showered, dressed.  The online site showed a picture and a headline, and that was all.  We thought it was a hoax, and tried to reload.

I didn't sleep well that night.

Do you remember how we all wondered what to do with ourselves for many days afterwards?  When would it no longer be disrespectful of the human victims to carry on our normal lives?  We used to read daily comics on a website, Tim and I, and for a few weeks nothing changed -- the writers had all submitted their daily comic strips several weeks in advance.  One by one over several weeks, each of the writers of the daily comic strips replaced their usual silliness with a tribute, now days late.  

The skies were empty of airplanes for several days, except military aircraft.  Once, within a few days, a huge military helicopter on unknown business flew near our apartment, and I worried.

I only had nine classmates in my class in graduate school, and only four were born in the US, and only three to US parents.  The other woman, Yu, was from mainland China, and had recently been investigating spirituality and religion.  She would go running around a campus track in the evenings, and I remember going with her one day, not long afterwords, in the light of a sunset.  The moon was high and full over us as we ran, around and around in circles, and we talked about religion and God and why.  She told me that in China, it was the festival of the moon that night.  Her loved ones were gathered far away from her to celebrate the full moon of autumn, and eat moon cakes.  It was my birthday.

When we were living in Texas, several years later, a beloved woman in our ward suffered a head injury in a bike accident, miles away.  We women flocked to the relief society president and asked if there was anything we could do.  The answer was no, everything had been taken care of.  Don't worry.  And I realized in that moment that when tragedy strikes, people want to be allowed a meaningful way of showing their love.  Please don't tell me there is nothing I can do.  If I do nothing, how will I let you know how much it hurts me, too?  Your loss?  Give me a toilet brush and some cleanser and let me scrub out the bathroom, please.  I know you don't need it, but I do.

There was nothing I could do, in California, except hold Tim a little tighter and run around that track with Yu.  And I still feel helpless.  I don't want to think about it, being helpless.  Hold my family a little closer, harass the neighbors with a toilet brush and cleanser.  Hope it doesn't hurt too much, to die, when my turn comes.

I don't want to think about it.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Stress related

My gums were swollen this morning.  After several conversations with my dentist, I now know that for me, swollen gums are an indication of too much stress in my life.  It's actually pretty handy.  Everyone else has to walk around wondering if they are suffering from too much stress.  Me, I just run my tongue around my gums and I know immediately.  

So let's think for a minute about stress. 

Has it been a minute?  

My thought is that I don't deserve to be suffering from stress.  How can I be feeling stress, when my country is not suffering from catastrophic famine?  My family is healthy.  I have a good job that pays the bills on time.  I am happily married.  I am a member of the dominant race, religion, and sexual orientation in my neighborhood.  My accent matches their accent.  My life is a model of middle class harmony.  There is something selfish and deranged about a woman who suffers stress related gum disease while living such a life.  

And yet the gums are swollen.  

I need a therapist.  (Oh, and still looking for a good hairdresser, too.)