Monday, January 31, 2011

My brother is nicknamed "Gumby"

I feel relieved. Upon researching a genetic condition that affects collagen, which two of my friends have, I realized that I probably have it too. Yes, I am known to be a hypochondriac, and a wee bit psychosomatic. However, I cannot make my skin stretchier or my joints partially dislocate (sublux) just by imagining that they do. I can, however, make my joints sublux by something as simple as shrugging, rolling over in bed, or standing still. Tonight at Stitch & Bitch, people remarked at how often and loudly my joints cracked. Last week, we discovered that my jaw clicks loudly enough for others to hear. Awesome.

Here are some characteristics of this disorder, called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. I have bolded the symptoms that I have, as well as symptoms that my eldest brother and my mother have, as I am suspicious that they have this too. I've taken this from Wikipedia. Not a medical source, to be sure, but still helpful.

  • Highly flexible fingers and toes
  • Loose, unstable joints that are prone to: sprain, dislocation, subluxation (partial dislocation) and hyperextension (double jointedness)
  • Flat feet
  • Joint pain without inflammation
  • Fatigue, which can be debilitating
  • High and narrow palate, resulting in dental crowding
  • Vulnerability to chest and sinus infections
  • Easy bruising
  • Fragile blood vessels resulting from cystic medial necrosis with tendency towards aneurysm (even abdominal aortic aneurysm)
  • Velvety-smooth skin which may be stretchy and is often translucent, with blue veins clearly visible on limbs and particularly in the hands
  • Abnormal wound healing and scar formation (scars may appear like cigarette burns)
  • Low muscle tone and Muscle weakness
  • Early onset of osteoarthritis
  • Cardiac effects: Dysautonomia typically accompanied by Valvular heart disease (such as mitral valve prolapse
  • Unexplained "pins and needles" or numbness in extremities
  • Difficulty regulating own body temperature, resulting in a vulnerability to the cold and heat. Many patients suffer fatigue and dizziness when exposed to hot conditions, eg. having to sit outside on a hot day
  • Severe mouth ulcers. Many patients complain of having several mouth ulcers at any one time. This is believed to be due to tissue fragility and vulnerability to infection
  • Food allergies and intolerances are very common
  • Sensitivity to medications. One of the cruelest aspects of EDS is that many patients experience bad reactions to medications, such as pain killers, making it very difficult to find safe, effective pain management
  • Migraines and headaches
  • Fibromyalgia symptoms: Myalgia and arthralgia
Other, less common signs and complications may include:
And now, for the fun bit. Photos!

I use my pinky to scratch my ring finger.
I usually do this unconsciously.

This is what a friend has dubbed "The EDS Gang Sign"

Apparently hypermobile fingers. Seems normal to me.
Thumb at rest.

Indent = Sulcus Sign. Partially dislocated shoulder.
Notice the road map of veins due to thin skin.

If I were you, I wouldn't trust my bendy fingers,
but that hole is where my shoulder bone is supposed to be.

How I usually stand to feel stable. Partially dislocated knee, unstable ankle.
That blue tinge is from my veins showing through my skin. I also thought that was normal.
This is how I hold a pen because my index finger is super bendy.

Holding a thick marker is easier than holding a thin pencil

I can use my stable thumb to support the marker.
My fingers are "boutonairre" and unstable.

Arm is more than 90 degrees backwards from my torso. I can extend it backwards to about 145 degrees.
Shoulder is partially dislocated at the back.

Inside of elbow up, palm up, dog up.

Inside of elbow up, palm down (and rotated to the right), dog down.

Inside of elbow up, palm up, fingers extended.

Right thumb touching forearm. (Other hand holding camera)

Right arm straight at 180 degrees. It's hard to hold it steady here.

This is how my right arm usually bends - past 180 degrees.

Left thumb touching forearm. This wrist might be partially dislocated. I dunno.
 I have what is considered to be abnormally stretch skin, too, but photographic evidence will have to wait until I

A: get photo booth to work again
B: fish out my awesome DSLR, tripod, and remote, or
C: Solicit someone to help

So. Yeah. According to medical sites, both genetic and orthopedic, I definitely exhibit signs of hypermobility, which isn't necessarily Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, but add in my stretchy see-through skin, which scars oddly, and it's more likely that I have EDS. Probably a mild case of Type 3, which classified as the hypermobility type (confused yet? You should be.) rather than a classical type.

The hypermobility type, unfortunately, doesn't have a particular genetic test that can be done to get a positive diagnosis, unlike the other types, which do. Even without a positive EDS diagnosis, I'm definitely hypermobile and walk funnily, so I should at least be able to get a referral to physio to learn how to build up my muscles in ways that don't aggravate my joints.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Honest to blog, I'm exhausted.

I haven't been sleeping well, since Anxiety, Vague Sense of Unease, and their friend, Depression, have been keeping me up all night, and half-awake during the mornings. Let's pay some attention to them separately, shall we? so that they can perhaps be content and bugger off. Hurrah.

I was anxious enough for a few days last week to start taking my Ativan regularly. I've been craving nicotene, so I figured that Ativan would be a reasonable supplement - without all of the awful extras.
In small doses, Ativan can stop a panic attack from starting, or make my body immediately slow down until my mind follows suit. It'll keep my heart from racing, my palms from sweating, my arms and legs from shaking, and my teeth from grinding. It's what makes my brain say, Oh, body, if you're not so worried that our death is imminent, then maybe I shouldn't be so insistent that Cara run away from this situation.
In larger doses, Ativan is used to alleviate insomnia, to calm people before surgery, and, in even larger doses, to stop seizures. It's handy, but also highly addictive because of its ability to tell the brain to not be afraid, even in situations where it is reasonable to be afraid - such as when you're committing arson.
I usually take Ativan once a week, but I've also gone weeks without its seductive calming effects. I had to take it two or three times a day this past week, which is within my prescribed dosage, but it's often enough that I start to worry that I'm taking the anti-anxiety med too often.

So, my increased use of Ativan was a red flag that something was bothering me, but, funnily enough, that doesn't help me to narrow down the possible triggers. It's not like I take it everytime I see a spider, so I should know that I have arachnophobia. It's more like I'm about to walk into a jungle and there will be so many things to be afraid of that I panic and do something stupid, like running frantically and falling into a big pit of quicksand. (That's depression, which I'll get to in another post.)

It took a few days, but I determined that I was anxious about:
A: turning twenty-five, which I will do on Saturday
B: credit card debt, and general lack of funds
C: my partner's hesitation to move in with me this very minute
D: being a generally awful person

That's all, eh? Easy. Sigh.

How am I trying to rewire my brain so that it will be able to be productive - bake bread and
edit a scholarly journal - rather than obsess over that list? With lots of hot chocolate, puppy snuggles, easy reading for school (Ohai, Jane Austen!), and trying to look at these problems in other ways. Let's see what I can move around.

A: Can't keep from turning twenty-five. The age thing is inevitable. However, I need to stop thinking about what I haven't achieved and instead look at what I have accomplished. I also need to stop comparing myself to others. It could also help to stop thinking of twenty-five as some enormous benchmark. It could be a pivotal and positive moment in my life, but it certainly won't get that way if I'm too busy crying to bother eating.

B: I paid off my credit card, completely, thanks to my student loan, and am going to leave the credit card at home from now on. If there's an emergency - such as a vet bill - that I need it for, I'll go home and grab it. Sure, now I'm broke (I have money for rent from now until April, but that's about it), but I don't have that debt staring at me. I have options that don't have such awful interest rates as the credit card does. I could get a line of credit with a lower interest rate, or find a job for the weekends. I'm probably too busy to take on a part-time job right now, but it is an option to consider.

C: I talked to my partner. His hesitation was completely reasonable, and I totally respect his decision. He doesn't have a lease, but he still has to give his landlord two months' notice, so he couldn't move in until April anyway. There's little sense in moving in April when I'm doing my final papers and exams, so May would be the earliest. Also, he won't know until March or so if he'll be staying in Ontario for school next year, or if he'll be heading out to BC for school for September, or earlier to find an apartment. So, realistically, no informed decision can be made until March, and then it'll be for a May moving date. So what's ado right now? I have at least two months to wait, and perhaps another two after that to plan things, so that's not what I need to be using my brain power on right now. He loves me. He wants to make a home with me. He is hoping we'll be able to move to BC for the autumn, as he misses his family (he's been away from them for half a decade). And I want those things too. So, Cara, chill.

D: This is just ridiculous. How does one quantitatively or qualitatively determine what makes someone an awful human being? And if one could do that, I certainly wouldn't be able to assess myself - the results would be skewed due to bias and a severe conflict of interest. Sure, I feel like a terrible person, but I already know that my brain is unreliable in the feeling-processing area. I can feel ashamed without there being anything innately shameful in my actions. I can feel guilty without having done anything wrong. I can feel angry about things that I have no ability to control. So, I might feel awful, but that doesn't mean that I'm an awful person, or even that anything particularly awful has happened. More ridiculousness and inaccuracies. Awesome. Something else to stop worrying about.

If I can circulate through these thoughts rather than the ones in my initial list, then I should stand a chance of getting out of bed, eating, showering, and maybe even doing some schoolwork. If I slip back into my old list, then it doesn't mean that I've failed, I am a failure, or that I should fail to try anything. It just means I need to read over my new list, snuggle the puppy, pet the cat with my socked foot, and have some juice and peanut butter to help my brain and body work. I should do that, and then go back to whatever I was doing. And if that doesn't work, then I should distract myself by knitting, baking, or stamping my books with the awesome personalized Ex Libris stamp that my partner got me for Christmas. Yes. That's the game plan.
Thursday, January 20, 2011


Here's a follow-up to yesterdays post concerning bagels.

I bet that if you're an authentic Jewish baker in an authentic Jewish bakery, you'll make the dough by hand. However, I do not claim to be a baker, nor a Jewish one, and above all of that, I am intimidated by baking (with a dash of lazy). So, I made the dough in my breadmaker.

Here's the recipe I used, from
Pizzorno, Lara. The Complete Book of Bread Machine Baking. Prima Lifestyles, 1997. Print.

For a 1.5-lb loaf (my machine makes 3-lb loaves, but this was enough to fill my machine)
1 1/4 cups water
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups (10.8 ounces) whole wheat flour
1 cup (5.2 ounces) unbleached flour
2 teaspoons active dry yeast

I put the ingredients in my machine in the order listed, since my machine calls for wet ingredients before dry. If yours calls for the reverse then, well, do the reverse. Put it on dough setting, or whatever your machine calls for, and turn 'er on. Easy-peasy.

When the cycle is complete (mine took an hour and a half, so I read Austen's Sense and Sensibility while I waited), take out the dough and cut it into 12 even portions and roll into nice evenly-sized balls (teehee). If you'd like larger sandwich-sized bagels, then make fewer portions - say, 8. Don't worry about getting them perfect right now, or, well, ever. Just relax - preheat the oven to 400F and then get yourself a drink, play with the pets, argue with your beloved, whatever, for about 15 minutes. It doesn't have to be exact. When you return, the balls should be puffier and begging to be poked at.

So, poke at them. Er, poke holes in them. Most recipes call for rolling the dough into small cylinders and then sticking them together to form circles, but I found it easier to just poke holes in the balls of dough. Yep. But do whatever you prefer. Make the holes at least twice as large as you'd like them to appear. Get a pot of water on its way to boiling, and let your dough rest for another 20 minutes or so until they look like puffy little doughy bagels. Lightly oil a baking dish, or get parchment paper ready on baking trays. Whatever you like.

Carefully put a few bagels in the boiling water - 1 minute on each side - and then scoop 'em out with a slotted spoon or anything other than your hands and put them on the baking tray. Do that for all of your bagels, and then pop 'em in the oven. After 10 minutes, rotate the tray or trays so that you outsmart your oven and your bagels will be cooked evenly. Cook for another 10 minutes, then take the bagels out, let them cool a bit, and then enjoy.

Remember, they don't have creepy preservatives in them like store-bought bagels, so you'll want to keep them in sealed bags in the fridge or freezer unless you plan to eat all of them in one sitting. That is totally allowed. My book estimates that each bagel will have 4 (grams?) of protein and 2 (grams?) of fat. It doesn't include units, so I'm guessing it's grams.

Oh - and you can dress them anyway you like. I kept mine plain to please my adoring fans with different palates, but you could put whatever you like in them - sesame seeds, fried onions, whatever "everything" is, blueberries, or chocolate chips. Nom nom.

*And my apologies, for I do not currently have a gluten-free recipe. I made these while chatting with a GF friend of mine, though, so I'll let you know if either of us find a good GF bagel recipe. And for those of you hoping to try the GF recipe - remember that you'll have to scrub scrub scrub your bread maker and any pots or utensils especially well if you've previously had gluteny stuff come into contact with those tools. And stay away from wooden spoons and cutting boards - they especially trap gluten, which could mean that all of your hard work making yummy GF bagels to delight and impress a GF loved one could go to waste if you accidentally make that person sick. It's best to make GF stuff in a GF kitchen, for gluten is sneaky and even a crumb or two can make someone with celiac sick for a week. Ick.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Mid-week return

I was looking forward to today. I don't have classes on Wednesdays, and I was eager to get some schoolwork done. However, I think I missed my meds yesterday, and maybe the day before, which has made today rather unwelcome. I can't remember taking my meds, and this afternoon's nap rivaled last night's sleep - long, but not restful or deep. I'm having difficulty remembering what I've read, and as Jane Austen isn't by any means a tricky read, I should be devouring it.

Speaking of devouring, I'm making bagels. Well, er, my bread maker is making the dough, and then I've got to shape, boil, and bake the bagels. I'm not very excited about them - I'm mostly nervous - so, again, that's a sign that I need to catch up with my prescribed friends. I'm going to make plain bagels this time, but if they turn out alright, then I'll try some sesame seed or maybe blueberry next time. Nom nom.

Also - the lack of updates since Sunday is an indicator that I'm not feeling like I have anything of importance to say. Sure, I know that's nonsense - that you, dear readers, will forgive me, as long as I write something that's not half as self-deprecating and tedious as this entry is - but it seems to make perfect sense in my head. Silly head. It'll be right as rain after a chat with the partner, my evening meds, and a good night's sleep. Oh, and the homework I still have to do: rewrite one of Shakespeare's sonnets in modern English. Hmm. That doesn't seem like it'll be too painful.

Bagelllllls, hurry up. I want to eat you!

Last night's meatloaf turned out pretty well. The recipe was from Epicurious and only called for a glaze overtop. Next time, I'll put the ketchup glaze (with my secret additions) into the main part of the loaf so that it'll be more flavourful all the way through. Yep. And as a former vegetarian, I was surprised that I didn't get sick either from making or eating meatloaf. A pleasant surprise, I say. Hurrah. And it was cheap - so I think I'll make it again next week.

Back to Austen while I impatiently watch this bagel dough rise.
Sunday, January 16, 2011


It's cold here. So freakin' cold.

Yeah, yeah, there have been other days when it's been -15C (5F. Yes, single digits, Americans.), but today, I'm really feeling it. I holed up in bed for most of the day with the puppy and my schoolbooks, even after taking my energy-boosting morning meds. I had a lovely breakfast with my partner after church, but I still  haven't technically gotten out of my pyjamas. I put other layers on underneath them, but, honestly, my sweatpants are far warmer than any of my jeans or cords. That's the story that I'm sticking to, anyway.

I ventured out into the cold for my radio broadcast this evening, but I didn't bring the dog. I usually bring the pup since she loves the other people at the station on Sundays, and she'd much rather be with me than alone at home. I couldn't bear to bring the mini dachshund out with me in -15C though. It just wasn't fair - even with a sweater, jacket, and boots on the poor little thing. Also, it would have taken us 40 minutes to walk to the station, rather than the 15 that it took me. That wouldn't have been pleasant in the least.

So, the show was successful, and I'm currently ripping some Canadian indie albums for use in future shows that I'm looking forward to.

I'm also looking forward to getting home and crawling back into bed with the tiny hound and three mugs of hot chocolate. Oh, yes.
Saturday, January 15, 2011

A perfect Saturday.

I had an absolutely perfect day.

Well, sure, that isn't accurate. If pressed, I could find a few things to change or maybe even furrow my brow at. But, you see, there were hardly many of these things to change, and usually my days feel so cluttered with them that it's difficult to tell where one awful thing ends and another begins. Even the good things feel painful, usually.

But.. not today.

It was standard Sunday stuff with the partner, except we moved our Sunday to Saturday. Our Sundays will once again be filled with broadcasts in various types of sanctuaries, so we moved our one day free of obligations to Saturday. Hurrah!

I will not bore you with too many details, internetland, as, well, you will be bored. And, really, we all know how the dialogue will progress.

Oh, he let you sleep in and then made you breakfast in bed, eh? How nice. you might say.

Well.. not in bed, because that would be messy, but.. yes. I might reply.

And I suppose you talked rosily of the future.

Uh.. kinda. We joked about how little money I shell out for the lovely two-bedroom all-inclusive (with laundry!) apartment in a lovely century home in our current town, and how that amount would get us a one-bedroom without utilities in the shiftiest parts of Vancouver or Toronto..

You worked together on chores and the time went by quickly.

Yeah, but we also watched a fantastic movie about George III, read novels, worked on a crossword, dined out, and were in bed by 10 pm.


So we won't do that at all. Instead, I will plug my radio show. It's on from 6pm-7pm EST in Canada. You can listen online and send me messages at the station, which is Trent Radio 92.7 CFFF in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.

I'll be playing only original songs by independent Canadian songwriters and musicians. This week the theme will be transportation, so tune in and hear all about planes, trains, and automo.. biles? That doesn't sound right. I'll research that before Sunday's show. I promise.

So, sleep well, readers, spammers, and trollers. I hope you had as lovely a day as I did. It was absolutely splendid.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Dearest Internet,

I am exhausted. I'm sure you are too, what with all of the bytes you have racing along the information highway. I feel for you, Internet, I do. I don't know how you do it - you never seem to rest. Maybe you'll have the weekend to relax a little, stream some Netflix movies and have people catch up on blogs, rather than the workweek e-business busyness.

Thank you for your assistance, Internet, in posting some photos of my dog rummaging about in the blankets. She loves cozying up on my bed, but thoroughly dislikes the (probably) antique chenille bedspread that I have at the foot of the bed.

The photos are very blurry, as I was unable to stop laughing, and the dachshund certainly wouldn't stop moving as she hunted for badgers, I presume. She is slowly learning how to be a dog again, after three years spent as a breeder in a puppy mill, and I like to encourage these canine behaviours as much as I can. Sure, I was quite annoyed that the pup stole my pizza crust yesterday, but I couldn't scold her - it was my fault for leaving it beside her and not giving her a command to leave it. Silly dog.

Internet, I hate to leave you right now, but I must get back to my reading. Sure, I can probably find a copy of Northanger Abbey over at Project Gutenberg, and then read it while I chat with you, but with all of the millions of people online, I'm certain you won't be lonely. Plus, printed pages are easier on my aging eyes. I know, I know, you've come a long way with typography and screen resolution, but you really should learn to delegate in case the power goes out or the cats chew up the modem cords.

I've also got to eat something, and although you're great at locating places to dine, you know that I'm on a budget, since I do all of my banking with your help, and I really need to eat at home more. I'll still look up recipes on you, though, since Epicurious makes me happy.

So, Internet, so long for now. I'll be back to visit you shortly, I imagine, and I'll have more blog posts for you this weekend. Try to take it easy, eh? That's a good Internet.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Victorian Show & Tell

Yesterday, my prof brought in a few items for a sort of Victorian Culture Show & Tell. I love when profs do that - especially when it's kinda creepy stuff that I also love. My favourite was one of these:


It's a jar that was used to apply leeches to the skin and to collect blood in. Luckily, I wasn't having that procedure done today. Also, not so much luckily as hurrah-for-medicine: local anesthetic is loverly. Yep. I wish I could get some of that for my brain. And also wish that the brain-lidocaine wouldn't be terribly addictive and wreck my entire life, all Repo: The Genetic Opera. Watch it. It's a great horror musical starring Anthony Steward Head (you know.. Giles from Buffy). Seriously - watch it.

And now, a few of my favourite Etsy items in the same vein.


I can barely believe that I found this scarab beetle bracelet. I'm going to email the link to my prof, since the novellas we're reading this week are part of A.S. Byatt's collection Angels and Insects. We're reading Morpho Eugenia, which I have been having trouble putting down, for it is so well crafted and researched. This bracelet definitely speaks to the unique fascination that Victorians had with insects and artifacts from overseas. In the upperclass, this would have been seen as a fashionable piece of jewelery without much thought being given to the scientists and other people who risked their lives to retrieve these specimens.

And, here's a brooch that reminds me of Zoe's contemporary work over at her Etsy store. You can also find her and some cute cats at

 Here's the vintage brooch that I found. I'd love to receive a similar one (hint, Zoe, hint) as part of the Pay it Forward awesomeness that I'm a part of. The Pay it Forward link'll show you how to get free loot from me, such as:
 - a handmade tote bag
- a personalized handknit scarf
- a half-dozen mug cozies to keep your beverages warm
- a wool hat

..or whatever we collaboratively decide on. Seriously. Free stuff. You just have to pass on the love in an awesome non-STI kinda way. Yep. Because I can't afford to buy you a scarab beetle bracelet, and I want to hoard all of the vintage and contemporary broaches for myself. I'm greedy like that. But after today's run-in with the medical system, I don't feel the least bit guilty. And.. well.. I just offered you free stuff.

Monday, January 10, 2011

I wish I didn't have to leave the pup tomorrow.

I can hear the laundry spinning around and around, drying in the machine in the foyer. The pup has the hiccups again, but is trying to sleep through them. I'm curled up in my pyjamas, counting down the minutes until the boy finishes his day at work. And, well, I'm trying not to think about tomorrow.

As much as I'm fascinated by medical stuffs, I also feel like I'm a big wimp about it, like I'm looking for the attention. Maybe I am, but I certainly don't get any pleasure out of it. I just feel guilty for making people worry, and especially for making people worry when there's nothing seriously wrong.

See, I have some tests I have to get done tomorrow, and the next day. Tomorrow, I'll have a regular run-of-the-mill appointment with my GP, during which he'll tell me that I have to take my meds more regularly, and I'll tell him I'll try again and then get more bloodwork done to see if I've succeeded. But every time.. I feel like I'm failing my doc and my family, rather than failing myself. I feel awful that I don't have a solution and that I can't fix my compliance issues, and that my health is suffering when it shouldn't. And. Arg.

I also have to get a procedure done at the hospital tomorrow. It's just a scope, and I get local anesthetic, so it shouldn't hurt. Shouldn't. But I'm scared that it will and that I'll be a coward even though I should be all grown up and not afraid of these things. Because, well, it's nothing really. Just something small. It'll bring me one step closer to fixing whatever's the matter, and that could mean less - or no! - pain. I'm not sure I believe that not being in pain is an option, and if it is, I certainly don't believe that I deserve it. Which, well, sounds insane.  Sigh.

Oh, and on Wednesday I get to take another test that'll probably be superfluous. That one's more inconvenient than anything. It definitely won't hurt at all. But still.. I hate being poked and prodded because.. what if they don't find anything the matter? What if their tests all say that I'm fine, and.. this is what fine is? This is as good as it gets, and I should be grateful. And I'm not.

Well.. enough worrying, at least in written form. I'm gonna crawl into bed with the dog and a novella for school.

And tomorrow will be fine. Really. I'm just worn out right now, is all. I'll be brave. I promise.
Saturday, January 8, 2011

Pay it Forward 2011

Ooh, I am excited about this.

Caren over at was kind enough to give up her spot in Zoe's Pay it Forward so that I could be fortunate enough to receive one of Zoe's fine works. You can check out some of Zoe's stuff over at her Etsy shop. Buy something, eh? She puts a metric tonne of time and effort into the cross-stitched items, and I'm sure she's just as particular about the other items she makes, too. Caren's a sweetheart, too, so if you're looking for something vintage, make sure you check out her Etsy shop. She's currently on vacation, but will be restocked soon. I found the perfect gift for my partner there. Yep. Perfect.

So, the first five people who comment on this post will receive handmade items from me sometime in 2011. You may request whether you'd like something knit or sewn, and we'll combine our efforts to find something you like and something that I can make. I'm good with anything knit - as long as it's not a huge garment - and I'm decent at square things that are sewn - tote bags, placemats, pillowcases, etc. We'll figure something out.

The catch is that you have to Pay it Forward and commit to either posting this on your blog, if you have one, or using some other type of lottery system - perhaps Facebook or Twitter or a banner outside of your house or something. Whatever you like.

Oh - and Caren is also getting a handmade gift from me for being so sweet, regardless of whether she comments or not. Because she's just that kind of awesome. Also awesome = Jackson Creek Press in Peterborough. But that's another blog post.. It's in the works. I pinky swear.

Ready? Set? Go!
Friday, January 7, 2011

Surprise! You're not entirely awful!

I can feel my meds working.

It's nothing as significant as being eager to get up and start the day, or feeling content, or even being hungry. I'm still exhausted all of the time and am having troubles both sleeping and waking, and I still have to read a page in a book four times before any of it sinks in. I still feel like there's a pharmacy on my nightstand and that it's all that's keeping me together some days.

However, the meds are working.

In the morning, I can't seem to remember why I don't want to get up. I know that there's a very important reason for me to stay in bed all day, but.. I can't recall it. This vague feeling rests behind my eyes. It starts out as a dull ache, but sharpens as I try to remember my nightmares, or the many reasons why I couldn't fall asleep. Those were important and awful too, I'm certain, but I can't seem to locate the evidence. This nagging feeling lasts until the afternoon, at which time I become preoccupied with fighting off a nap.

Also, I'm accomplishing things. Little things, sure, like finding a place for all of my sewing stuff. Or putting my laundry away. Or washing the dishes. Or starting books for school.

Sometimes, I have to do a bunch of little things in order to accomplish a larger task, which seems far too taxing. I nearly give up completely. But.. I now start one of the tasks, and say, Just this one. I'll just do this first part, and then I can stop if I really want to.

For example, I couldn't fathom knitting another sock that isn't out of worsted weight wool. It's thick and hangs onto the bamboo needles really well. I've tried knitting with a fingering weight so I could knit a nice dress sock or something, but it kept slipping off of the needles. I got frustrated and gave up. I was looking forward to the return of Stitch & Bitch meetings so that I could ask for help from some knitting friends. I was intimidated, though, and I didn't want them to see how defeated I felt. So, I told myself that I would at least prep my materials. I certainly didn't want to show up to Stitch and Bitch to ask questions about knitting socks and then only have a big hank of wool in my bag, like this one.

It's a gorgeous hank that my partner's mother sent me from the west coast. She also sent me some lovely bamboo needles and a sock pattern to go with them. I'll probably be visiting her in February, and I want to have a pair of finished socks to show her by then. Or.. at least one. So, I had to wind the wool into a skein (ball) so that I could knit it. Trust me, trying to knit from the hank will only end in tears.

I wound the hank into a skein, gathered the pattern and my needles, and felt like I had at least prepared myself for the tough knit ahead. But.. the puppy was sleeping soundly, and I didn't really feel like reading or getting back on the computer until after dinner, and I still had a good hour or two to kill. And, well, I was determined not to nap.

So, I started the sock.

I said that I would just see how the wool worked with the double-pointed needles, and that if it was a miserable failure like the previous attempts with different wool, then I would switch to the circular needle. Nobody else had to know about the defeat with the double-pointed needles. Nobody had to know that I tried, again, and failed. The puppy was still sleeping, after all, and she wasn't going to tell anyone without getting a tummy rub first.

So, I tried again. And.. well.. it didn't fail. I didn't fail. It worked. Somehow, this time, it actually worked. I was able to knit two entire rounds of the sock on the double-pointed needles, and not a single stitch slipped off.

I don't know what I'm going to tell the Stitch & Bitch group now, since I've already told them what an impossible task it is for me to do. But, well.. I guess it'll be a good kinda surprise. This certainly was. And that's also how I know my meds are working, for I hate surprises. And I hate failing. And I hate knitting on double-pointed needles. Or.. maybe I did. We'll see.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Oh, and my father's totally a Jewish Gangster.

I've been meaning to make a case for my iPod for awhile now, as I haven't found any in stores that I love, and I figured I could knit one. I could, and I still might, but on Tuesday I decided to sew one out of scraps. I also needed to get the hang of my sewing machine again, after a tune-up, so a small project was just what I needed. Here's the finished product:

I'm fairly pleased with it. If I had to do it again, I'd definitely change a few things, but just for ease of construction. I would still keep the unfinished seam down the centre of the case, though, (the side seams are properly turned in and finished) as I like how it turned out.

I had a hell of a time with the new thread that I got from Santa, though, as I can't find the end, and making an end was nearly disastrous. Bleh. I hope the other colours of thread are easier to work with. Also, I left all but one of my bobbins at my mother's house. She'll return them next week, but by then my classes will have started.

Eep. Classes. I have a full term, against doctors' orders, so that I can be done in April and graduate in May. On Tuesday, when I felt anxious about school, as I do again now, I curled up with the pup and a new book.

The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, originally Michael Chabon's master's thesis. My roommate gave me the book for Christmas, and I finished it in a day. If I were a man living in Pittsburgh in the 1940s, I feel that this character would quite accurately reflect me. Which may or may not be a good thing, but it was familiar.

Point: It's the first book that I've read for pleasure, and in its entirety, since probably this time last year. I've certainly been reading since then - a dozen novels or so, plus another dozen plays - but mostly for school. I haven't been able to get out of my head and to let myself fully escape into a book in a long time, and it certainly was necessary.

Next up is Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott. It's for my Victorian Lit class this term, so it's not the same kind of freeing read, but I'm thoroughly enjoying it so far.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I was going to write about the iPod cozy I made.

I'm still feeling well, but I do have to battle the anxiety, especially at night and in the morning. Especially at night. And especially in the morning.

I had an awful night. I was wide awake past 3:30am, I say to my lover, and I woke up every hour after that. This morning sucks.

He smiled and gave me a huge hug from somewhere beneath his many layers of wool and cotton. He still wore his new toggle coat and toque, inside, while I glared at my clean clothes and tried to will them onto me. All of your nights are awful. You never sleep well. It's nearly afternoon. Let's go get you breakfast.

I stopped, as if I had started before that. I hadn't.

I knew that what he meant was really I know you are scared, but you will carry on. I will help you. The worst part is over now. You need to get some fresh air, exercise, and you need to eat something.

That's why he leaves his jacket on, even though I tell him he can take it off. He doesn't budge for my illness. He waits for me to appear, even just a shadow, some small piece of evidence that I'm in there somewhere, and he holds on to it. That's the part he loves.

I think.

I don't know how he does it. But he does. And later, over breakfast, I ask him about Vancouver. He gets excited. He tells me about job openings and housing and of grassy places my dog could play in. Once I get out of bed and have a latte, the west coast doesn't seem so very far away.

It's just one possibility. But. There are possibilities.

I shall have to try to remember that.
Sunday, January 2, 2011

Fantastic Feeling

Internetland, I am feeling oddly. By that, I mean I have an odd feeling, not that my sense of touch is off. An odd tingling in my earlobes, and in the tip of my nose, and in my littlest fingers and in all of my toes.

I am uncertain, friends, for I rarely feel this way. But. I think. It just might be.

Glee. Stemming from a sense of belonging. And.. oh, maybe it's just happiness. I am unsure.

I'm incredibly terrified about what this last term at university will bring, but I'm looking forward to it. I feel like I now have a support system in place: an attentive partner, a few professor mentors to look up to and who are helping me as much as they can, a family that is giving and taking while letting me grow, and some really amazing friends - through my knitting group, and Twitter, and at the radio station.

I will not be cliche and say that things are falling into place. Because they are not. It is not gravity or nature or fate or luck. It is hard fucking work. I am working to help myself get healthier, and to keep people in my life who make me feel worthy of this odd gleeful feeling.

Helping myself and choosing to be social are both very difficult, sometimes even painful, challenges that I must work at. There have been times.. years, even.. when I was either unable to do that or I was just too afraid that I'd be unable to do that, so I didn't try. And sure, I've chosen to stay in various kinds of relationships that didn't help me. I told myself that I was being selfless in those situations, that I was making other people happy while my own happiness was not a factor. I didn't believe I was martyr - quite the opposite - for although I wasn't really present in these relationships, I wasn't sacrificing my own happiness since I didn't believe that I could be happy, or that I deserved to be happy. I've learned that I can do more, and that I am worth more, than existing solely to fill other people's needs. Also, that people are remarkable: they can adapt and grow too. They don't need me to be sick. Well.. most of them don't need me to be sick. And the ones that do.. I'm still learning to face that.

I still have a lot of work to do.

I will always have work to do on this. On me. But.. I'm beginning to think that I just might be worth it.

And for those thousands of times each day when I doubt that and I doubt myself, I have you, e-friends, to remind me that people are remarkable. Sometimes they offer you a letterpress case because people are surprising and generous and worth getting to know. But.. that's another blog post.

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