Thursday, May 15, 2008

Olivia Newton John notwithstanding

This morning I find myself in front of the computer at zero dark thirty. And why? Because I cannot sleep. Why's that? Because my back has woken me up, yet again, after approximately six hours of sleep. For the zillionth time.

About 10 weeks ago, James and I rescued two new cats. Oh the pictures! Oh the cuteness! But for the first two weeks: Oh the stress! New Kids had to be sequestered from the Old Kids, since New Kids had never even seen a veterinarian on tv before. So we bundled them into our bedroom, our only choice for an actual closed door.

For about three days, the boy, Toby, hid under the bed, while his sister Heather bothered us every time we stepped into the room. "Hi! Pet me! Pet me! Hi!" On Day Three, Toby came out, looked around, and said, "Okay fine. I'm in." And immediately became the most boisterous-bordering-on-obnoxious cat you've ever seen. His nickname is Galoot, because he is just that: teenaged long-legged awkward which-way-did-he-go demeanor. Nothing fazes him, and he's happiest when he's playing. Or being petted. Or being manhandled. Or fighting with his sister. Or just breathing. Y'know, whatever.

Keep in mind that this obnoxious boy had a 8x10 room to play in. Our bedroom. Where the bed is. Where we....sleep?

Yeah, as if. Each night we'd try, but after the hundredth run across the bed and jump on the legs and beat up Heather right next to our heads, I'd bail out to the couch, and James would head for the air mattress in the living room. This went on for a couple of weeks, until we got them fixed, spayed, vetted, immunized, microchipped, and slowly introduced to the other kitties. The day we got to use our own bed again, I thought I was going to cry. We still had some rock 'em sock 'em action, but the ricochets decreased hugely, now that they weren't confined to such a small space.

About a week later, I started attending all day meetings for a project at work. Switching to a new payroll system, boring boring but good for the company, TCB. No problem. Except sitting in a chair and thinking for six hours a day didn't exactly help my back out. And two weeks ago I sat in a broken movie theater seat and watched Iron Man, which was worth it, but gave me shooting pains in my leg for the next couple of days. Um, Sarah? Yes. This is your body. Get some help down here, dammit!

Okay fine. I found a chiropractor, and I've been working with her for a week now, and things are definitely getting better. I'm going once a week for the next month, and she wants me to see a massage therapist every week as well. Damn. Didn't know I was that broken.

Well, I guess I really did, because for the last month, I have not been able to sleep more than 6 hours at one time without dull aching pain waking me up at 3 in the morning, forcing me out of bed. It's made for some really entertaining days at work. I can't complain about timing, because at this point most of our meetings for the Very Important Project are done, and I don't need to sit for hours at a stretch very often. I have insurance that covers this very well, and we're financially at the point where we'll survive just fine even if I need to pay for it. The synchronistic action works great for me.

What doesn't work is the new reality of my life: I'm not as smart all the time. I used to be able to count on my intelligence as a fact of my life, and of course, I had my dumb days; everyone does. But I was quick and I was smart and I could play the quiz show games faster than anyone else at work. Someone asks a question over the cubicles? I have the answer, and faster than anyone else. I called it a sickness, knowing all the details, but I was proud and happy to be the mind freak.

This change, this lack of sleep, has forced me to slow down. I no longer assume I'm able to do something quickly. I have to plan my day a little more carefully. To some extent, I've started depending on caffeine to get me functional at times, which is bad, but humbling. I don't like coffee, and I've always had a secret disdain for those who depend on it too much. My parents drink maybe 12 cups a day to keep them going, and I never thought that was good or healthy. But here I am, downing a Red Bull every other day just to outlast the day. Which brings me to work hours. Time was I could work 10 hours a day to get things done, and come back for more on the weekend. Now? Not so much. I've been working less than 40 hours a week at times, and I have to stifle my overachieving spirit and convince myself that no one will hate me just because I'm unable to work myself to the bone.

Again, timing-wise, I can't complain. Right now nothing's on fire, and I'm getting things done. But not being able to overachieve anymore is hitting me where it hurts, and forcing me to develop some compassion for those who aren't built like me. Quite honestly, my ego could do with the curtailing in that regard, so I'm glad this learning curve was pitched to me.

The other lesson I've been handed lately is all body stuff, coupled with the overachiever in me. But I think that waits for another post. No, really. This one's too long already.

(BTW: Toby is the kitty in my userpic. The galoot!)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Yarn, Perception, Choice.

I'm working on a log cabin blanket, using some Plymouth Encore yarn that I got from Destash. I like the yarn okay, it knits up nicely, and I love having a log cabin blanket to work on while I'm watching tv or movies and relaxing on the couch. It takes very little thought and planning to knit a log cabin blanket that looks like it was way hard. So that's my default standby project. And I'm nearly done with it, but this blanket was just meant to kill this batch of yarn. And the yarn. will. not. dieeeeeee.

It's tough to estimate when you'll run out of yarn on a blanket. The sides get longer, the ball of yarn gets smaller, and I get more and more, nervous. So I limit the width of the strip, only to find that I then have enough yarn to do another one later! So now I have a bunch of skinny stripes, which is fine, but it's taken me twice as long to knit those stripes as it would have to knit a thick stripe of the same width (since casting on and casting off takes twice as long as knitting a new row).

So now let's talk about scarcity. Growing up, I learned to make do. I learned to accept what was in the room and not ask for more. True for food, clothing, books, cars, friends, etc. In my twenties, I had to learn to figure out, and then actually ask for, what I truly wanted. That was tough. "Why aren't these decisions being made for me?" I thought. "I thought Mom and Dad were going to show up and tell me what kind of car I get!" Was it nice having a car supplied to me? Yes. Is it still funny that I never knew what I liked because I didn't think I had any options? Also yes.

Yarn! I really love yarn. One of the things I love about yarn is that I've learned to make choices about yarn. I went through the many stages of yarn education/acquisition, which I'll list more specifically in a future post (note to self). One of those stages involves random and abundant acquisition, and before I learned what I really liked, I had already acquired a ton (metaphorically) of acrylic yarn, some good, some crunchy. (Note: when it feels like someone melted a plastic garbage bag to make the yarn, that's bad yarn.)

About three months ago, I went through my stash, which consisted of about six plastic bins - you know the ones, they're under your bed right now. Pop-top or snap-down lids, either way, there's a hyphen involved and they hold all that stuff that you don't want to keep in easy reach, but you don't want to get rid of. Could be clothing, sports equipment, climbing gear, or school papers - whatever. Just stuff. So picture six of these spread out on the floor, all jammed with different breeds of yarn. Oh, wait, did I mention the ten or so smaller versions that held specific projects or types of yarn, also spread around the perimeter? Oh yes. Allll mine.

Time to organize, right? (Mmmm. Organizing.) No problem. But as I sorted through the stash, I noticed that some of the yarns I loved to touch and feel, and some of them were just bad yarn. The acrylics were especially prone to this, as I'd purchased much of it over eBay prior to learning what comprised a quality yarn. I would chuck these bad yarns in the nearest bin, shaking my head.

Then the light went on. Duh! I, a grown-up, could choose to ... leave this yarn behind. I could ... divest myself of this baggage. I was allowed to ... get rid of what I didn't want.

I am not required to knit something with a yarn just because I made an error in judgment. (The first person to name the reference gets a knitted dishcloth.)

Yes, yes, you've reached the I will only choose to do what I love portion of the broadcast. I know it's all new agey and hippies have a bad name these days and now my hardcore rep has been sacrified to the gods of eureka. Okay. That doesn't change the fact that I had a revelation. I donated about two bins of yarn that day, and since then have not felt guilty at all. I've been knitting what I like to knit, and I love how the yarn I've chosen feels against my hands as I knit. It's a pleasurable, happy experience, and while I no longer feel dutiful and superior because I'm doing something for the Good Of Doing It, I'm choosing my projects based on what I want, and for no other reasons.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Here I am now, entertain me!

Oh wait, it's the other way around, isn't it? The cats are trashing the elastic mouse on a string that's hanging from our doorframe. I'm surprised they haven't done permanent damage to the door frames yet. We already replaced the elastic once with thicker, stronger, (faster), and I don't know if that was a good or a bad in the end. Maybe both, maybe neither. The cat will play, the truth will out, the truth is out there. So that's all the stream-of-consciousness I have time for today. Maybe I'm just too bushed after the whole 15 minutes it took to set up this blog. Time to set up: 15 minutes. Time to type the first post: <5 minutes. And the proof is in the pudding!