Archive of ‘unquiet things’ category

How To Wear ‘Feeling Some Kind Of Way’

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I don’t think I really need to explain this one, do I…? There have been feelings lately, and I am muddling through. This is a look that matches my mood. I’ve got a lot on my plate right now, and some of it should actually be exciting, but I am terrified; between this and the thing I wrote about last week, and some other work-related things, I really don’t know whether I am coming or going right now. I’m simultaneously ecstatic and and electrified with possibility. but also frustrated and angry and utterly paralyzed.

Pairing together clothes and jewelry that I’m only pretending to have seems a silly thing to do with my time, but it’s doing something, and having done one thing, it may easier to do the next, and then another. Progress will be made, I know it will, because it always is.  I just have to start somewhere.

This is a look for that foggy somewhere place of vague starts and stops; where the ideas are buzzing and whirling around your head like hungry flies; you just need to reach out and snatch one of them out of the air with the tips of your fingers. It doesn’t matter which one you grab. This is where you start.

Yohji Yamamoto Asymmetric Layered Dress // Else Boomerang II Underwire Longline Bra & thong // Nutsa Modebadze NM0062 boot // Alexander Wang Roxy hobo bag // Hvnter Gvtherer Whipsnake Accessory // Hagerskans Jewelry moth ring // KimyaJoyas herkimer diamond ring // Arcana Obscura sword necklace // Stacy Hopkins Design Odontolabis Femoralis ring // Lauren Wolf Sea Urchin bangle // Valley Eyewear Gravestone sunglasses // Chantecaille Celestial Nail Sheer // Punker mascara // Moth & Rabbit Perfumes, Enter The Void

 

You Don’t Always Get The Gold Star

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I don’t know exactly what I want to write about this. I’m tempted to be vague, but I’d rather go into as many details as I can muster, because while I had wanted to write about this once it was over, looking back and being able to say, “Finally!” and “whew, thank goodness!” and details would have been okay at that point…including them now, when I am feeling less than ecstatic about it all feels a little gratuitous and petty and “oh woe is me.”

Also, I am not certain this is a thing anyone really wants to read. You’ve probably got some version of this in your life already. Or if you don’t now, or haven’t experienced it yet–just wait it out a bit. It’s coming. What follows is a timeline of resentments and stress that have been building up over the past 8 years, and last night I had a monumental eruption. But it was a silent, violent, ugly-crying kind of breakdown, the kind which you’d never even know is happening if you were in a different room of the house. There’s probably a German word for this silent maelstrom, this noiseless onslaught of hysterical paroxysms whistling and hitching with impotent rage and helplessness.

I’m just writing it out because it might make me feel a little better. All these years I have telling myself “it hasn’t been so bad”. But I think maybe it has. I think maybe it’s been really bad. And I didn’t want to admit it, I thought I was handling everything, and muddling through the best I could. But I am guessing that it’s going to look and feel pretty bad once I type it all out and read back over it. I don’t want to feel guilty, or ashamed, or “lesser” for admitting that it’s been pretty bad… and yet I do feel that way…and so I’ve admitted nothing all this time.

You’ll probably want to come back another day, once I get this out of my system.

I moved back to Florida from NJ in October of 2011 after finally getting out of a long-term, and long-terrible relationship. At this time, I had moved in with my sister and her husband, who lived an hour or so away from my grandparents. I almost immediately began driving to visit them every Sunday; I’d bring them lunch and afterward, do their grocery shopping for them, as my grandmother was nearly immobile and this task was becoming too much for my grandfather. They were in their 90s and had been pretty independent up until then. And as I had just started dating someone who lived nearby, this was a nice arrangement; I’d spend Saturday with him, Sunday with the grandparents, and then head back home to Orlando. This was a practice I would keep up for the next year or so.

In late 2012, my mother, who also lived a little over an hour away from me now, collapsed in the street one night after exiting a cab home from working her night-shift job. A jogger found her some hours later and she was rushed to the hospital. The diagnosis was late stage lung cancer that had spread to her brain. They operated immediately, removed the cancer from her head, and she shortly thereafter started chemotherapy treatments for the rest of it. I will never forget visiting her in the hospital pre-surgery and seeing how crazed and confused and volatile and violent she was acting. It was terrifying. Post-surgery, she was just… confused. She sat up in bed and tried to eat some soup, and then held up the utensil she had been trying to spoon the soup out of the bowl with–a small, disposable comb. “I guess you can’t eat soup with a comb,” she laughed.

What my sister and I had to do next was not so funny. My mother had been living in a tiny house that she had filled with a hoard of cats and dogs and made no provisions for them when she was not around. We knew that she could no longer stay there–she was probably going to be transferred to a rehab facility–and we also knew we could not count on her for any sort of assistance in getting the place cleaned up. She was renting, and unfortunately, this house was beyond trashed. Animal filth all over the place, the smell permeated the very walls. And the walls, aside from stinking, of course, were all torn up. As were both the bathroom and bedroom doors. To bulldoze this house, I think, would have been an affront to the bulldozer.

We did the best we could to haul out all the trash and broken furniture, to clean up all the grime and foulness and filth, to re-home all of those pitiful animals, of which there were between twenty and thirty, most of them very sick by this point. It was disgusting and utterly heartbreaking work. I recall more than once my sister and I crumbling into each other’s arms and sobbing hopelessly.

My mother was transferred to a nursing home and then, once discharged, found another place to rent. From the same landlord who had rented the last house to her! What! To this day I do not understand this situation at all, but apparently these people loved my mother, despite the fact that she utterly trashed their property. She was very charming, and I think many people fell under her spell. I saw glimpses of this myself from time to time, but to me, and in my memory, that is not who she was. She was mostly just… troubled and troublesome. I was surprised to learn that she had the foresight to have gotten cancer insurance and other coverages, and so she didn’t have to worry about working while she recovered in her new home, a peculiar little cottage near the beach, with crooked floors and cramped rooms which she somehow filled with new things and, unbelievably–new animals. This vexed me to no end, but there was no point in saying anything because my mother would do whatever she wanted to do.

Meanwhile, my grandparents were having more and more issues. I learned that my grandfather’s sight was leaving him; he had taken to bringing my grandmother along on his appointments so that she could tell him what color the traffic lights were! When she confessed this to me I was horrified. But he was a very proud, independent man, and he was clinging to what small freedoms he could. This was the time for me to start doing more, though, so I moved in with the man I had been dating for over a year now, and as luck would have it, he lived less than 10 minutes down the road from them. Now I was able to stop by a few times during the week and bring meals, or take the odd lunch hour here and there to bring them to appointments. It was a good thing for everyone. I was flush with the glow of a new relationship and was thrilled to be spending more time with my beau, and I felt a little bit more secure about my grandparents, as they were only a short trip away.

I did not, however, tell my mother that I was living closer to her. I was afraid that she would manipulate me and take advantage of me, and my grandparents, fearing the same thing, begged me not to tell her, either. So I did not. If I agreed to take her to her treatments (which I did, frequently) or spend the weekend with her (which my sister and I did, several times), I just let her believe that I was coming in from Orlando to do so. The knowledge that I was much in much closer proximity to her now was not something I wanted her privy to, and my entire family agreed on this point.

2013 was a-whirl with all of these things, appointments and treatments and errands and grocery shopping, and really, none of it mine. I let so many personal things–health-wise, growth-wise, normal-stuff-you-gotta-do-wise, etc.–slide during these few years because I had no time or energy to even think about it for myself. And even though the year was drawing to a close and many people might be reflecting on these things, they were not at the forefront of my mind. It was a few weeks before Christmas, a Sunday night, and my mother called to tell me that her cancer was gone–everything was OK, that she planned on coming for Christmas dinner at my grandparents, and she’d like us to have prime rib. I may have been rolling my eyes at this point, because one: we never really did a whole year of seasonal family dinners, it was usually just Thanksgiving, and so for my mother to assume we were doing Christmas dinner was sort of weird, and two: most of the time she didn’t even show up at the one Thanksgiving dinner we had each year! But whatever. My mother was well, she wanted a dinner, and it was to be prime rib. I would make it happen.

The next day my sister phoned to tell me that my mother was dead.

Apparently she had passed away sometime during the night; there was coffee in the coffee maker, so I guess she had filled it with water and grounds the night before, and set the timer for the next morning, fully expecting to be having a cup with Sweet-n-low and Coffee-Mate. But it was so strange. She’d just told me the night before that she had a clean bill of health–was that even true? I don’t know why I question this, but I don’t remember what the autopsy said, or if there even was one, and well, my mom was weird. Who knows why she ever said the things she said or did the things she did. It didn’t matter, I suppose. Dead is dead.

She of course left no last wishes, no will, no funeral arrangements. Between the three of us, my sisters and I came up with the cremation costs and we got it taken care of, along with re-homing all of the new pets. Fortunately for us, the landlord took care of getting rid of most of the furniture and such. I am not sure why…maybe they felt sorry for us, maybe they could use those things for their various properties, maybe they just really loved my mother? Maybe all three. I didn’t question it; I was just so glad not to have to go through all of that all over again.

As we went into 2014 I was able to focus more on my grandparents, who weren’t getting any younger. More appointments, always with the grocery shopping. That July they lost power; just their house, no one else on the block was affected. My grandfather couldn’t figure out what was going on and seemed to be freaking out about it (he was a pretty stoic guy, so for him to seem distressed was alarming for me) so I rushed over, spent the majority of the afternoon on the phone with the electric company who said that they couldn’t get someone out until the next day. I spent the remainder of the afternoon there, clearing out their freezer and refrigerator and putting everything into coolers so their food wouldn’t go bad; I spent the night there, so that there would be no dark-house night time weirdness. Eventually the power company did some work and the issue was resolved, but somehow this spelled the beginning of a very long and drawn out end for my grandparents.

Emergency phone calls became more and more frequent; my grandmother was prone to spills, but now my grandfather was having them too. In January of 2015 he discovered an infection and was hospitalized for a week; I spent that whole week and then the next at their house while he was gone, and once he was back. Shortly thereafter there was an incident with some stolen mail; at that point he and I went to the bank together and put my name on their accounts so that I could write out checks and pay bills for them and they didn’t have to worry about money being stolen from their mail box, or forgetting to pay a bill all together. I think this was incredibly demoralizing for him, and he never quite seemed to bounce back. In April he had a small stroke and fell again; he was rushed to the hospital, and I hurried over to their house, around 9pm or so, so that my grandmother wouldn’t be alone. All that night I dreamed I heard him opening up the garage door that led into the kitchen, and announcing that he was home, but those were only dreams. And the truth was that my grandfather would never come home again.

After a few weeks in the hospital, he was transferred to a nursing home, where he would stay for another two weeks. We had gotten notice that they were releasing him on an afternoon in late May; hospice had just come out to the house and set up a hospital bed and oxygen tank. As the techs were leaving, we received a call from the nursing home. My grandfather had just died.

Breaking this news to my grandmother was gut-wrenching. They had been together for over seventy years and she was devastated, but as it turns out, she would go on to live another two years before she would join him. Things were getting  more difficult to handle now: with him now gone, she would need full time care. She was still able to get around with her walker–just barely–but it had been years since she had driven anyway or done any cooking or cleaning. So at this point, aside from my grandfather’s final arrangements (they had pre-paid cremation plans, so at least that was somewhat taken care of) now we had to figure out the dilemma about what to do with my grandmother. For the first month or so, I was living there full-time. This, however, was unsustainable. Though I work from home, I have a very intensive full-time job. Granted, there are days when it is slow, and if I am being honest I might even sneak in an episode of whatever show I’m currently into, or some knitting. Most days though, I am on the phone from before 8am to after 6pm; I am handling operational and admin duties, I act as a personal assistant to my boss, and I am doing the support work for three other people.  I am constantly at my desk, and it’s difficult to walk away from anything, at any time.

We tried hiring the services of a well-known home care company, and that didn’t work out so well. I should have known better. I actually worked for this same place while I was in college, in both an admin and a care-giving role, and so I knew more or less what to expect. For the most part the people that these places hire are not the most caring, conscientious, or reliable employees. They would leave my grandmother alone, forget to feed her, sometimes leave the house entirely. We had to constantly switch out people because they were consistently so awful. And the bills were adding up. One month of full-time care alone was nearly 15K, and after several months of this, I was seeing a rapid decline in terms of their finances. This money had to be able to last as long as she was going to last, and at this rate, we’d be out of options within less than two years–and my grandmother was pretty tenacious thing, so we had to plan for much longer than that.

She was on a wait-list for a local assisted living facility, but she really did not want to go, and it broke my heart to force her to do something she didn’t want to do. ALFs are expensive, too, but not as bad as home care, and we were hoping the level of care would be much greater. In November, after six months of spotty care, we had a bit of a break, and a minor miracle, really. Our sister’s best friend had some medical background, and was between jobs and schooling at that point in time. We hired her at much more reasonable rate (but one I still hope was very fair) to move in and care for my grandmother. This was a solution that worked for everyone. Our friend had a steady income while she studied and did things for licensure, my grandmother got to stay in her home, they both got along fabulously and my sisters and I knew she was being taken care of by someone we could trust. I still had to do grocery shopping and keep the house full of the things it needed, I still dropped in almost every afternoon for a visit, but finally I could breathe.

Though her health worsened, she remained lucid and feisty, with a tremendous appetite for gossip and junk food (Cheetos and Twinkies were often purchased grocery list items.) In January of 2017, sadly, she begin to rapidly decline. Our live-in friend called me in tears on New Years Day to tell me that our grandmother no longer recognized her. She was confined to a hospital bed that hospice had provided and was now getting facility-level care from our friend, who fed and clothed and changed and bathed her. I know this is terribly sad, terribly taxing work on both a physical and emotional level–I got a small taste of it on the days when I would fill in when our friend took a much-needed afternoon or weekend off. It takes an angelic kind of person to do this sort of work, and I am still amazed and grateful that we were able to have that for my grandmother.

My grandmother died on February 15, 2017. The day after Valentines Day. I was working from her house that morning, because our caregiver had a doctor’s appointment, and, of course, my grandmother couldn’t be left alone for even short periods of time. I peeked in at my grandmother, who was snoring softly, and sat down at the dining room table to begin sending out a flurry of emails. Ten minutes later, our friend walked out from my grandmother’s room and quietly said, “I had a feeling it was going to happen today...” I looked up from my screen, I didn’t think I heard her correctly. But I had. Part of me didn’t believe it,. “Are you sure??” I might have asked, running into the room to check for myself, as if my friend wouldn’t know the difference.

And that was the end! I grieved in a normal, timely way for my mother, my grandfather, my grandmother and my now tiny family absent of all beloved elders, and life moved on!
Just kidding!
That was in no way the end.

Once we carried out and collected her wishes for cremation, I contacted her lawyer, who, wow, wonderful, had decided that this was the time to retire and he was passing his 20 year client along to someone else entirely. Ok, fine. I met the new law firm, got the process started, and it was decided that I was to be the personal representative for the estate, as I was the only one local, the only one who had access to bank accounts and personal information, and who intimately knew what had been going on with my grandparents those last few years. It really couldn’t have been anyone else. But I wish it had been. Out of everything else I’ve talked about, dealing with the estate-related things is one of the worst things I have ever had to do.

Two years later we are still dealing with this estate business. Maybe these things always move slowly. Everyone I have spoken with says that it took them two or three years to get things resolved and closed. But I’m just tired. It’s like…my grandmother never died. In life, she hung on so long and although she passed two years ago it is as if she’s still here, fading interminably but hanging on, always in the background of everything I do every day, never moving on to the next world.

I want to move on. I want to properly grieve for my Mawga, whom I loved dearly, fiercely, as much at 42 years of age I did at 4. I don’t think of her or worry and fret and stress out about matters involving her any less now than I did two years ago when she was still with us.. Because I can’t. Because a huge chunk of her existence is still here. And I know the other people affected by this don’t mean me any hurt or harm, but every time I am questioned as to why things are moving so slowly, or what’s wrong with our lawyers, or why is this still dragging on, it crushes me more and more. I feel like I am failing everyone, I am failing my grandmother, and I just am stuck in this limbo of never fully being able to end this and move on, because it’s always one more thing.

So now here it is today. I had a terrible night last night. After a bit of correspondence regarding all of this, in which several instances of things I had said at various points in this process were cut and pasted and repeated back at me, I experienced what I can only think of as some sort of ….disassociation. At one point during the exchange, I froze; I went deaf, my vision blurred, I grew clammy, and suddenly I was somewhere else and it was a decade ago. That horrible man was waking me up at 3am, having dredged up obscure passages from the thousands of emails we had written to each other, for the purpose of throwing something in my face and screaming at me about it until the sun came up. No amount of concessions or apologies ever placated him. This was a common occurrence, and my life was fraught and fragile because of it.

Back in the present, when I realized what was happening, I was advised, in a separate conversation, to step away before I lost all objectivity. Before I did that, I agreed to what was being requested of me, and received a “thank you” for my consent.

Never in my life has “thank you”, or consent, felt so much like a violation. A rape.

I realize this is a revolting and offensive comparison to make, but also think I am in a position to make it.

It is now 1:30pm in the afternoon.This morning I have done what was asked of me.

And ever since I hung up that phone, I have been shaking. And angry. Livid.

[A WHOLE BUNCH OF REDACTED STUFF]*

I realize there are a lot of things, SO MANY THINGS, fueling my rage right now .

[MORE REDACTED STUFF]**

…well, I am not sure that’s my problem anymore. And I have to be OK with that.

Earlier this week I heard someone say something along the lines of, “Not everyone is going to give you a gold star. And you have to be OK with that.” But that’s hard for me. I want everyone to be happy with the work I have done, or just, well, pleased with me, in general. My sister reminds me that as adult children of alcoholics, this is a common issue, and I know it’s one I have struggled with my entire life.  But I can’t make everyone happy. Not everyone is going to feel I have done a good job, nor are they going to give me their approval or a gold star.  I can’t continue to let that sear my soul, and scar my vision, the way it’s done for as long as can remember, the way it informs every decision I make.

I think along the way here I have racked up a lot of stars. I don’t know if they’re all gold, but I at least get some stars for participation, I reckon. For showing up, doing the hard work, for seeing things through. I’ve done OK, I guess. We’re nearly at the end of it though, and I don’t need all the stars. I’ve done what I could, I have done my best. I just need to keep moving forward, and eventually this will pass… and maybe not everyone will be happy, but I am hopeful that I, at least, will have moved on to a better place. Not the same place as my grandmother, of course. Not yet.

Whatever “better” is, I’d like to find it. I just need to get myself there. And I think I definitely get a gold star for that.

* and ** were typed out to get it off my chest initially, and then deleted. Which I realize makes that section a little difficult to parse, but that’s ok. I wrote all of this out because I was having a “fight or flight” reaction today; my adrenaline was up, but I was frozen. My brain was fogged. I had to do something to break the paralysis, and writing helped a little. After reading over it, however, I decided it was best that some things not remain in print.

image credit: dancingmandy96 on redbubble 

Unpopular opinions

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Instead of…the annoying banality of “Living my #bestlife”

Let’s try the more widely experienced, though the less commonly used and perhaps less hashtag friendly (but certainly less smug):

Living my #stressedlife
Living my #depressedlife
Living my #immunosuppressedlife
Living my #obsessedlife
Living my #possessedlife
Living my #housearrestlife

image credit: me

How Bad Crab Leads To A Giveaway

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[GIVEAWAY CLOSED! A WINNER IS CHOSEN! CONGRATS SUSAN, CHECK YR EMAIL!]

After a ruthless bout of Swedish Death Cleaning, this morning while I had time on my hands after rescheduling my counseling appointment due to some bad crab last night (why have you betrayed me, crab legs? I love you so!) I have whittled my unruly collection of fragrance samples down to about twenty five.

What to do with the other hundreds? Would you like them? There are lots and lots of of lovely niche and indie scents in here, manufacturers samples, and samples from places like Lucky Scent, and Twisted Lily, and decants from Surrender To Chance and The Perfumed Court, and probably only a tiny amount of boring Sephora perfume sprayers, which I feel I need to point out, because who really wants those? Fuck off, Marc Jacobs Daisy! Well, there are a few of those, too. There are also some vials and tiny bottles that were given to me by this friend or that, who gave me samples from their own collection, or perhaps passed something on that didn’t work for them. Maybe they will work for you? There are so many fragrances here to sniff and sample and fall in love with, or pass on!

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If you’d like this GLAD bag full o’ samples*, and whatever else I’ve got lying around that I might throw in a box for you, leave a comment below and tell me something interesting. Could be something you learned, could be a piece of news, it could be something about yourself–whatever! I’m spending a lot of time on the toilet today and need some interesting links to click! I will choose a winner on Monday morning!

It probably doesn’t need to be said, but these are vials and sprayers and bottles that I have sampled, myself; some are completely full, some might be halfway full, some might only have a drop or two left. If you’re weirded out by free stuff that someone else has used, well, now you are forewarned!

*Friends outside the U.S. I love you dearly, but I really don’t want to pay for that kind of shipping or deal with the hassle, so this little giveaway is for in-country only.

Links Of The Dead {February 2019}

How Sweet To Rest by Ally Burke

How Sweet To Rest by Ally Burke

A gathering of death related links that I have encountered in the past month or so. From somber to hilarious, from informative to creepy, here’s a snippet of things that have been reported on or journaled about in or related to the Death Industry recently.

This time last year: Links of the Dead {February 2018} | {February 2017} | {February 2016}

💀A Whale’s Afterlife
💀How To Widow
💀Valentine’s Day When You’re Grieving
💀What Medical School Doesn’t Teach About Death
💀Letters To The Dead: Shadow Writing For Grief And Release
💀See a Rare Visualization of Grief in the Art of Jennifer Rodgers
💀Play This At My Funeral: Interview With Jezebel Jones Of Bye Bye Banshee
💀Once forgotten, this historic African American cemetery now houses a poignant memorial.
💀Academy Award-nominated film ‘End Game’ examines end-of-life care
💀A reminder that our definition of death is man-made.
💀Why you never really die: A microbiologist explains all the ways the body lives on

You Do Not Have To Be Good

You Do Not Have To Be Good from ghoulnextdoor on 8tracks Radio.

Feel Nothing by Health | Glass Candy by Naked City | Bury A Friend by Billie Eilish | Alone Together by Ritual Howls | Concerning The White Horse by Jozef Van Wissem & Jim Jarmusch | Gorgon Madonna by Yugen Blakrok | We Appreciate Power by Grimes | Buried In The Sand by HÆlos | Hope Is A Dangerous Thing For A Woman Like Me To Have But I Have It by Lana Del Rey | Be Still, My Tongue by Snorri Hallgrímsson | Burning Sea (feat. Tomasz Mreńca) by Daniel Spaleniak | Adorations by Burial Hex

Dr. Klemperer’s Cheese Sandwich

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Last week I resigned myself to paying $5.99 for the privilege of watching 2018’s Suspiria film on Amazon. When I first heard about the remake, what feels like ages ago now, I struggled with the idea of it. The original holds a special, lurid, hyper-saturated place in my heart, and though I’d only seen it once and didn’t recall many of the details, I held its memory close, a hazy, disturbing delight.

The more I began to hear about this new version, though–the swoony addition of Tilda Swinton to the cast, the eerie soundtrack by Thom Yorke, the sharp focus on the art and ritual of the dancing, itself–the more intrigued I grew. I’ve a funny relationship with reboots of beloved stories, anyway; part of me always wants more of a thing I adore, but the other part of me is skeptical that you can really bring anything new or more perfect to the table, where these beloved celluloid favorites are concerned. I was conflicted, as I am sure many folks, were, but I’d heard enough hints and whispers and seen enough teasers to allow myself to become convinced.

Well. I won’t spoil anything for you, but I did not love this new Suspiria. It’s as if they took the parts and pieces from the old Suspiria that the film didn’t really focus on or spend much time examining or exploring: the dancing, for instance; the era, the current events at the time, a good look at the witches and their intentions, maybe even the city of West Berlin itself. And they somehow took all of these elements, which could rightfully be very fascinating – – I understand why someone would want to take them and play them up or play them against each other – – but they somehow made them all very seem very dull.

So much was I not enjoying all of these, in fact, that it took me about three hours to slog through the first bland fifty minutes, and three days later when I tried to pick up where I left off, I became aware of Amazon’s rental policy wherein once a movie is rented, it is only available for three days. So I was cut off before I even had a chance to finish it! But…that’s OK. I had seen enough.

I will say, though, the one character I was rooting for was Dr. Klemperer’s omnipresent cheese sandwich, which stole the scene in at least two instances, and for all I know, could have saved the entire film (had I been able to finish watching it.) Thanks for that, Amazon. Anyway, little cheese sammie–as far as I am concerned, you were the star of the show!

For as perfect as the original film was, it surely did not boast a cheese sandwich!

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A Funny Question; An Honest Response

Johan Deckmann, 2018

Johan Deckmann, 2018

A few months ago a friend asked me if I make money with my blog, and if so, how. They followed it up with the statement that they “can’t imagine” that I don’t.

That’s hilarious! Because I surely do not!

I have been writing online and off, for most of my life. I have never been paid to write anything. I might be given a gift or a freebie for something I have written, after the fact. I might be supplied with products that I did not have to pay for, in order to write reviews about them.  These things happen occasionally, and I’m generally not one to turn down free stuff! I also feel compelled to mention that almost 100% of the time, these are places I have already purchased items –perfumes, tee shirts, candles, soaps, whatever–from, previously. I would certainly never write about stuff that I would not actually use my own money to buy. But back to the “getting paid” part– I cannot think of one single time when one single person* has paid me one single, solitary penny for something I have written or to write something for them.

…and if I am being honest, I wouldn’t want them to.

I am coming from a place where I feel like when I start accepting money for something I enjoy doing, that’s going to create expectations and obligations and it’s going to cast a grim pall over the very thing I enjoy. And I very loosely use the word “enjoy” here. I do not really take pleasure in writing. It’s uncomfortable and sometimes downright agonizing for a number of reasons. One, I’d really prefer to be doing anything but writing. Sure, I’d rather do the fun things I love, like knit, or read, or watch a movie– but sometimes I am avoiding the writing process so intensely that I will manufacture chores and tasks and errands which don’t even need doing, let alone doing now, instead of writing whatever it is that I am supposed to be writing, Also, it’s a mortifying, humiliating process. There’s nothing like seeing the nebulous thoughts and ideas and emotions that have been percolating murkily in your brain, exposed to the light and pinned down to the page or the screen in front of you…and then realizing that those unwieldy, imprecise words don’t match up with anything you thought you were thinking, and don’t even begin to convey any of the rich nuances of your, you know, really important opinions. And then of course you compare yourself to others, and you say cruel things to yourself, and it’s just this entire process of dashed expectations and self-loathing, and it’s all rather fraught, and dammit, you knew you should have been scrubbing that toilet, why did you even sit down to write in the first place? So I guess, if I were being honest, I would probably rather be doing anything but writing.

Which is funny…because I simply cannot remember a time when I wasn’t writing. As a child I often wrote stories about a girl my age named Jenny. She didn’t have adventures, she didn’t get into scrapes. She woke up for school in the morning, she played with her dolls (these stories had …just bizarrely elaborate lists detailing Jenny’s Barbie doll collection), she planned parties; Jenny was incredibly dopey and boring, but hey, those were the things that interested me at the time. As I grew older, I would write many unfinished horror stories in the style of Stephen King, and in my late teens and early twenties, I fancied myself a bit of a poet. In between those years there were always journals and diaries and letters and notes passed back and forth in high school, and let me tell you, my notes were epic. God help the poor boy who had to respond to one of those.

Though I haven’t been blogging at Unquiet Things for a long time, I have been weblogging for a long time. Maybe not as long as some, granted. It took me a long time to be OK with, and not freaked out by, computers and the internet. It wasn’t until a job I had while I was in college that I began to get comfortable with typing my thoughts as opposed to scribbling, which was pretty great timing, because this was in the latter half of 1999 and Livejournal had been founded earlier that year. Also in attempting to pinpoint a date just now, I am looking back and realizing that I graduated high school in 1994, and four years later, in 1999, I was still in community college. Full disclosure: it would be another three years before I actually graduated with my two-year degree. Yep.

Livejournal took my obsession with journaling to a new and interesting level. I never diaried my thoughts hoping to keep them private–I actively wanted people to read them. Sadly, no one actually wanted to, or cared about my not-so-carefully concealed notebooks. And why should they? It was, at its basic level, just highly legible but profoundly mundane personal drivel and daily gripes that were interesting only to me. But now, people all over the world were going to read my dumb thoughts and opinions–and they did! And they commented on them! It was everything I ever wanted.

My interest in fiddling with the LJ code to customize and tart up the look of my page led to me learning some html–nothing fancy, just enough recognize the basics and be able to tweak things if needed, which was especially useful when website design software like Dreamweaver became available to me. So now I could build my own website and blog! And I did! I even called myself myself an amateur web designer and I built a website for that purpose, too (and believe it or not, I made some money doing it, but that is a super weird story for another time.)

My blog has gone through many iterations over the years, beginning as a small purple thing on geocities, which few but a certain gormless ex-boyfriend may remember, as I had built a little [name redacted] insult generator on one of the pages as a spiteful side activity. And over the years it’s had many names…I was akissofshadows (Anita Blake shoutout!) on LJ, along with myblogskip, and then several other Lovecraftian or MRJamesian names that I’d cycle through in order to escape detection by another ex, this one must nastier and more awful than the previous, and who monitored my online activities like a hawk, because was a a snoopy asshole. And no, that’s not even fair to the snoopies out there, it was more than that; he had no sense of boundaries or privacy and thought he was entitled to every piece of me. Nosiness is one thing. His abusive behavior was something else.Yeah, I’m still mad about that. Never not gonna hate that guy.

Anyway! I digress! The point is, I have had a lot of journals and blogs over the years. But I never started writing with the idea that I think a lot of bloggers have now , a sort of “I’m going to make a living off of this! Where my sponsors at??” type of mentality. Hey, if that describes you, great. Good luck to you, and I wish you much success. But that was never me. I don’t write for money, I don’t have sponsors, I don’t have ads on my sites, I don’t even have a “donate” button, for pete’s sake. Never have, never will.

I have never struggled with my site’s image or branding. I know many bloggers who have started their site focusing on one type of thing, and perhaps they’ve built their whole personal brand or whatever around it. But then they become burnt out, or their interests change, and then they experience a great deal of angst and teeth-gnashing when it comes to blogging about something different or shifting their focus, and subsequently feeling the need to change the whole look and feel of their blog/website and online presence. I have never experienced this. I write about the things that I think are weird, or sad, or funny, or beautiful. That’s basically all it is, and it encompasses a broad spectrum of things–I will never be at a loss of food for thought and the resultant blog fodder. And even if, let’s say, I made a big change, like a super major change, say, oh, I don’t know–maybe I wanted to start writing about Christian parenting and scrapbooking. So what? What’s to agonize over? This is my space on the internet, no one is paying me or expecting things from me, so I can write about whatever shit that takes my fancy!

And that’s another thing. Sometimes I will see bloggers post things like “what do you guys want to see more of on the blog this year?” Fuck that shit. I don’t really care what anyone wants to see. They’ll see what I write about, that’s what they’ll see. And I know that sounds a little harsh, and I don’t mean to sound unkind or like I don’t appreciate all of the folks who have tuned in over the years (I love all 5 of you!) but I think that if you have followed my writing for any amount of time, whether we are real life friends, or if you know me from LJ or tumblr or polyvore or from my time writing at Coilhouse or more currently at Haute Macabre–I think you understand where I am coming from, and have a basic idea of what I’m about. And you probably don’t care! So if I don’t care and the people who count don’t care, then I’m not particularly worried. Everyone else can either get with the program or peep on over at another blog! The internet is pretty great like that.

So, no. I don’t make any money here. I don’t actually make any money writing anywhere else, either, and I never have. Ever.  And that’s OK! I have a full time job. I don’t love it, I don’t even particularly like it, but I’ve never been under any illusions about the the need to like what I do for a living. That’s crazy talk. Work is dumb, don’t fool yourself into thinking otherwise. I work to make the money to be able to do the things I really want to do. Which brings me back to a point I was initially making, which was this: I do not necessarily want to get paid to write. I reserve the right to change my mind about this one day, but when someone says they want to pay you to do something**, they will of course have certain expectations of you and your work product. And then you feel obligated to meet those expectations. Do I want to feel obligated to work on something I am doing in my spare time, in my not-work time, in my obligation-less time? Fuck no. FUCK NO.

So this is my ridiculously lengthy answer to what might appear at the outset to be a very simple question. Anonymous friend who initially asked this question, I hope that you do not take this response as a personal attack or perhaps me passive-aggressively fuming about an innocent question that you had asked two months ago. It’s not like that at all! And, I promise, you’re not the only one who has asked this***. You were just the one who inspired me to type out this massive dump of rambling thoughts about it. I bet you’re sorry you asked, though!

*I do use Amazon associate links from time to time in my blog posts; every once in a while Amazon will send me a $5 gift card. Does that count? I don’t really think it counts.)

**Although if someone wants to pay me for something I have already written, that’s cool.

*** Who does she think she is, even writing this response, you might be wondering. No one even cares, no one thinks you SHOULD be paid to write anything! You may be right to think so. You probably are. I’m the little person, a nobody. Just one among millions of mediocre bloggers. I am not pretending otherwise. But more than one person has asked me this question, I swear. Maybe even three or four! But probably less than ten.

 

 

5 Breakfasts

Willem Clasz Heda Breakfast Table with Blackberry Pie

Willem Clasz Heda Breakfast Table with Blackberry Pie

I’m a morning person. (“Booo! Hisssss!!” Don’t think I can’t hear you!) No, but really, I am. Once I’m awake, I’m not really the sort of person to lie in bed scrolling through facebook until my limbs feel like moving in human ways again. But the key here is, “once I’m awake”–because I can very easily roll over and go right back to sleep, and perhaps even sneak back into the same dream I was dreaming before the alarm interrupted my slumber. But once I am actually out of bed, there is no going back, and I honestly prefer it that way. Mornings are the best. The earlier the better. I’m not even the sort who can lounge around in my pajamas once I’m no longer burrowed under the covers; nope, once I am out of bed, I am committed.

And it’s not because there’s “a whole day of possibilities” before me (barf! and also, they’re probably all bad) but because at 5 o’clock in the morning, no one is calling you on the phone. That’s right. I hate phone calls so much, I will wake up at five in the morning just to enjoy some ring-free quiet time.

I don’t typically want breakfast within these first few hours of waking; that would feel too much like rushing things along, and I don’t think my digestive bits are even ready to clock in at this point. During this pre-dawn time of day, I prefer to take things slow. I like the still, quiet atmosphere of a world just beginning to regain consciousness, and I softly make my way through this world on tiptoes so as not to alert it to my presence. No teevee, no radio or music or news, and for god’s sake, don’t talk to me! I have my small routines at this time, and they are undertaken in utter silence.

Upon waking, I either immediately 1. throw on some ratty exercise clothes and go for a brisk walk, or, 2. splash water on my face and spend about ten minutes with my morning skincare routine. Both are activities that cause my brain to start working, albeit in different ways, maybe even on different levels An early morning constitutional, while the blood is pumping to my brain, is when I often get my exciting “aha!” ideas. The less active routine of my six or seven steps of cleansers and toners and serums and gels and whatever else, gently generates the brain and starts it to slowly ticking and whirring as I go through my process of morning ablutions.

At this point I may have a small glass of aloe juice and get the coffee started. I may curl up on the sofa to read a book, or work on a knitting project. I definitely don’t start checking emails or plugging into the world just yet. This is time just for me, to do the things I like to do, uninterrupted, sans any other obligations. Responsibilities don’t even come into picture during this time. And finally, around 7:30 or so is when I start thinking breakfast-y thoughts.

After Breakfast by Elin Kleopatra Danielson Gambogi.

After Breakfast by Elin Kleopatra Danielson Gambogi.

Most breakfast items seem to be geared toward people with a sweet tooth. I can’t eat cereal; it has too many associations of my mother sitting at the table, bleary-eyed, chain-smoking and drinking coffee, while I choked down a bowl of Wheat Chex before elementary school and was almost on a daily basis immediately struck afterward with a stomach ache as I contemplated the dread and ultimate futility of the day as it stretched out before me. Existence felt grim to me from a young age, and to this day, I can only eat a bowl of cereal late into the night in mid-summer, as a snack, maybe because it was too hot for dinner. I’m not a fan of pancakes or waffles or french toast or muffins or donuts* or yogurt or granola bars or any kind of breakfast bar, really. They’re all too sweet. Blargh.

*not gonna lie–I do eat donuts–I like them, even!–but they have to be an afternoon snacks-with-coffee type thing. I can’t do a donut as a first meal of the day. I really can’t do sweets on an empty stomach, period. It makes me feel a little ill and weird.

I have, however, found a handful of savory, and one or two barely-sweet options that I enjoy and are staples in my breakfast-time rotation! They’re not necessarily appropriate for every day (either they’re a little too rich or time-consuming) but between these five options and a few bonus quickies, I’ve pretty much unlocked the secrets of the most important meal of the day.

full japanese

1. Japanese style breakfast, which I know I have mentioned before, but it’s amazing, and I would eat it every day if I could. Unfortunately, it’s a little bit involved, so I generally only do this one on the weekends.  Generally I include rice and miso soup, broiled salmon, homemade pickled vegetables, and tamagoyaki (rolled japanese omelette). You could also serve natto alongside this meal, but I can’t get past the stinkiness/sliminess factor, so it’s never on my table! There’s something about this combination of foods that is wonderfully savory, and perfectly balanced to fill you up while at the same time you feel like you are eating something light.

Here are a few of my favorite recipes for creating such a meal:

rice and eggs

2. Rice & egg. This is a hearty-soothing breakfast. I don’t think I’d eat it more than once a week, but if I am being honest, the BEST time to prepare this meal is when you are experiencing the head-throbbing, sorta-nauseous-but-you-still-wanna-eat misery of a hangover. It works best if you have some leftover rice to start with; this way you don’t have to spend any extra time cooking up a batch. Heat a portion of leftover white rice (you could probably use brown, but I prefer white) in the microwave, and while that is going, fry an egg on the stove. Keep it yolky. Once your rice is hot, stir in soy sauce and a butter product of your preference to taste–you may want slightly more butter than soy sauce, but not a lot of either–top with your fried egg, and sprinkle liberally with furikake (rice seasoning.) Devour with a comically oversized wooden spoon.

toast and jam

3. Toast with peanut butter and preserves. This is more of an every day type breakfast for me. It’s quick, it’s filling, it’s only slightly sweet if I pick a jam with a little bit of tartness. The best bread for this is Ezekial* because it’s dense and study and crunchy and it doesn’t flop under a generous smear of peanut butter. Of course, I am not sure I’d eat the Ezekial bread any way other than toasted. I’d venture that it’s a mite unpalatable, cold. I typically just keep it in the freezer until I need a slice or two, then I just pop it straight into the toaster. Once browned to your liking, spread with your favorite peanut butter and jam. I happen to like Peanut Butter & Co.’s The Bee’s Knees and bilberry jam. Enjoy on a tiny Bride of Frankenstein tray.

*I just ignore the scripture on those Ezekial bags; I save then up and use them to scoop up dog poop during when we have visiting puppers.

porridge

4. Porridge. This is actually steel-cut oats, but I call it porridge because it makes me feel like I am eating fairy tale food and not a gruely bowl of slop. It’s another everyday go-to, especially when it starts to get cold out. We cook up a huge batch of oats at the beginning of the week, and I generally eat it thusly: portion out a bit, stir in some of your preferred sort of milk, cinnamon, golden raisins, chopped dates, chopped pecans, slivered almonds, and the barest drizzle of maple syrup. Heat in the microwave until hot, and top with a spoonful of ground flax seed. I like my porridge on the thinner side, so I err on the side of more milk, but that’s totally up to you.

fake bagel

5. Fake bagel! Obviously, real bagels are preferred, but those are a weekend treat and I feel like I can get away with eating “fake bagels” far more frequently. And whereas porridge is standard fare in the winter months, when it starts warming up again, you know, like February (because Florida), I start leaning toward fake bagels for morning eats. Start with some sort of “sandwich thins”–I think mine are Arnold brand, but I just grab whatever is in the store–and here’s the thing. You may want this untoasted. Those sandwich thins sort of frizzle up and get stuck in your toaster, and honestly, I think this tastes better cold. Spread with one wedge of Laughing Cow cheese split between two sides of the bread, sprinkle with Trader Joe’s Everything But The Bagel seasoning blend (this stuff is a marvel!) and top with thinly sliced tomatoes and red onions. This is the vegetarian version, but you could also add a few slices of smoked salmon, and that’s also delicious. Having made it both ways, I can share that while the salmon version is very good, you really don’t miss it if it’s not there. It may not be the healthiest thing in the world, what with the shelf stable cheese and all, but I think it’s remarkably tasty! And after eating this you’ll probably be remarkably stinky, but it’s totally worth it.

Some quick bonus bites, for when you don’t have the time/energy for any of the above:

  • a hard-boiled egg sprinkled with Penzey’s Fox Point seasoning
  • EPIC salmon jerky (sounds weird, but SO GOOD)
  • Gardein Breakfast Pockets (these are probably “vegan junk food”, but still excellent)
  • KIND Bar, Pineapple Banana Kale Spinach (strangely funky-nasty addictive)
  • Make ahead, freezer friendly breakfast sandwiches –okay, so this is not exactly a quickie, you will have needed the forethought to make these ahead of time. But if you have done so, it’s super quick to heat it up and jam it in your mouth as you’re running out the door in the morning. Or maybe even take it to work and heat it up when you get there. This a WW recipe that I have linked to, but the idea could be adapted to a higher calorie diet, or perhaps veggie-fied, or whatever fits your lifestyle.

So, wow. I’ve just written nearly 1800 words about breakfast. I’m really tackling the hard-hitting stuff here, aren’t I? Do you folks have any favorite savory breakfasts? (Sorry sweeties and sugar fiends…you know I love you, but I don’t even want to hear about your cinnamon raisin bagels –GACK– or your Special-K bars.) Tell me all about your favorite weekend and weekend morning meals and maybe I’ll enliven my breakfast agenda with a new addition!

Planner Talk 2019: The Planninator

Planner 2019

Early last week I was in the heady throes of the honeymoon stage with my new planner…I was riding the high of having written down a thing AND done it, AND I went on to do the next thing, as well. And the next!

It was, as I said, I very heady feeling, and dare I say…empowering. I found myself taking care of something I had put off for six months (it involved a phone call…and not just an easy, 5 minute phone call, but the kind where they’d probably put you on hold and transfer you to six different departments, to which you would have to explain your problem six times over, and then they’d try to talk you out of whatever you want, or they’d have to get a manager…and then more hold time…you get the idea. I did not want to make this phone call.)

Last week I:

-called the bank to initiate a thing
-ordered new eyeglasses
-scheduled an eye doctor appointment
-scheduled a dentist appointment (it has literally been 20+ years)
-scheduled an appointment with the dermatologist
-scheduled a appointment with a new therapist (gonna give it another try!)
-canceled three services (I had to make phone calls for all three!)
-wrote a handful of things
-went to see my nail tech and got my claws removed
-participated in a monthly call for creative women
-went to Post Office (twice)
-went to library (twice)
-cleaned out closet and all clothing drawers, all without having watched or read Marie Kondo

If I am being honest, all this is probably more than I get around to doing in a year! I am basically the PLANNINATOR, crushing all goals!

Planner 1

So, you may be wondering, what brought about this flurry of productivity, is it sustainable and can we really chalk it up to the the acquisition of a new planner?

To backtrack just a little, this new planner was a gift from my youngest sister (see previous planner post from her, to give you an idea as to her dedication to planners and planning.) I had her asked if she thought that she was up to the task of picking out a planner for me and perhaps some fun accessories, as a holiday gift. As I expected, she was super excited about the possibilities! I think nothing would make her happier than to have all her sisters in the same room together, gleefully ignoring each other as they plot and plan and scheme their days away in their respective planners.

With a few guidelines from me,  that this new planner be:
1. undated, but with time slots, and
2. it’s gotta be black!, and
3. hard bound (as opposed to ringed)

…she said that  with all of my restrictions, I didn’t leave her a lot to work with and she ended up going with a Passion Planner. Here’s what they have to say about themselves:

“Passion Planner is the one place for all your thoughts. It’s more than just a planner—it’s a tool that helps you break down your short and long-term goals and incorporate them into your daily life. It has been designed to encourage you to plan for the future, reflect on the past, but most importantly, act on the present. Think of it as a paper life coach — ready 24/7 to challenge you to focus on what is most important, accept your thoughts and ideas without judgment, and prompt you to reflect on your everyday life. We hope that it becomes a place where you can declutter your mind, allowing you to focus on the present moment.”

planner 2 planner 3

I also asked her to feel free to include lots of fun accessories…even though I don’t really know how they work or what I am supposed to do with them and I’m actually convinced I don’t even know what “fun” is, or how it works. But it seemed important to include stickers! And washi tape! I mean but also what are you supposed to do with washi tape? I don’t know!

planner 5 planner 6

And I know I’m hard to shop for, I want “sort of, you know, “goth”, but not like, Victorian goth, or cutesy goth, or Halloween-y goth, or like 1992-era Spencer’s Gifts, goth.”
I guess what I am saying that I don’t want anything too cheesy or too “on the nose.”  So… that pretty much rules out everything on Etsy, because Etsy tends to be all of those things. So instead she went with something far easier to pin down–cats and Sailor Moon!

planner 8

…and a darling pouch for all of my accoutrements!

If you’re curious as to where she picked up the stickers, the tape, and the pouch, these are the three shops that she shared with me:

planner 9

The Passion Planner is much larger than the one I was previously using, seen here for comparison. But honestly, I like both sizes! I’m really digging the larger version right now, but that could be due to me being the kind of person who adapts pretty easily and I generally reach the conclusion that what I am doing now is better than what I was doing before. I like that I can really sprawl and ramble with my thoughts and ideas, but I do see how this larger one might be a little bit more challenging to travel with, but my planner stays at my desk all the time, so that’s not really a concern.

If you’re interested, I was previously using the undated planner from Ink + Volt, and I thought it was pretty great. I didn’t use it consistently, and it wasn’t exactly for planning and scheduling purposes (more like for ideas and brainstorming and lists) and because it’s undated, I think I have probably been using it for two years now. Highly recommended!

Planner 10

ALSO: because my sister is a marvel and she knows me pretty well, she DID find me some “goth but not really” stickers, and they are perfect. As an aside, I gotta find another word to sum up my “goth but not really” aesthetic. But the best I’ve been able to come up with, that doesn’t sound too long-winded, self-important, or cheesy, is “cats and darkness”. I don’t know that it’s an important distinction, I mean I know what I mean and I know it when I see it. And the more I belabor the point, the more it sounds like I’m putting down the stuff that doesn’t fall into my narrow criteria–which I don’t mean to do! If you like it, it’s very good! As the sample lady once told our other sister, when she was sampling some sheet cake or bagel bites or whatever at Costco on a Saturday afternoon. “If you like it, it’s very good!”

SO THEN. Week One of using my planner was a spectacular success! I wrote a lot of stuff down, and I crossed a lot of stuff off my list. Or I put a checkmark next to it. (Are you a crosser or a checker? What’s the difference, anyway?) This week I’m…well, let’s say I’m a tad less enthusiastic.I actually might have overdone it last week, and maybe made myself a little manic about it (I mean, I seriously did feel a little crazed) and I’m still recovering, heh heh. I mean to the point that, even after writing almost 1200 words about the thing and having taken a whole mess of photos of it today, I don’t think I have actually written a single thing in it..

Well, tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow! Which, I don’t think Macbeth was talking about his planner when he said :

“.To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;”

…but then again if Macbeth had all these stickers and washi tapes at his disposal, he might have been a PLANNINATOR too. Also if you look up #pashfam on instagram, you won’t see a lot of Shakespeare but you might find some layout ideas and different tips and tricks and suggestions for how other users put their Passion Planner to work. I am passing that tidbit on not having looked at it myself, because I’m stubborn and I am pretty sure I don’t need to see how other people do things, but wow, that sounds really bad when I see it in black and white like that. Maybe I’ll just take a peek.

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