Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Creative Bone in My Body is Healing!

I have not worked on The Thesis for a bit. I have a meeting with Former Thesis Advisor #1 Soon-to-Be Thesis Advisor #3 in one week. With Thanksgiving and a trip to Utah (Tabiona, if you are interested) to see my grandmother in between.

Ha ha ha ha. Oh, shit. HA HA  HA HA HA HA.

It is my own fault. I am able to concentrate and whatnot, I just haven't forced myself to work on it.

I am having a hard time sitting down at the drab desk in the overcrowded home office. It almost feels like a punishment. I feel lonely in that room. I don't even like to update my budget or mess around with photos in that room. I feel badly saying that, as A. has tried reorganizing it for me on more than one occasion in hopes of me clicking with the room. No luck, so far.

I'd rather be hanging out in the living room, teaching myself how to knit and crochet. And maybe even sew.

Because, you see, I am starting to feel the creative in me again. Ever so slightly. I have long hidden it, for some reasons I understand, and for reasons that are currently too vaporous for my mind to wrap around. I am not quite ready to start painting again. But soon. Soon.

Part of it, I believe, is just that I am actively a part of my life, my world again. And the way I interact with the world is creatively, with imagination. I am not saying I am wonderfully creative or that my imagination is all that, just that those are my points of intersection with the world. Where my mind, my heart and my spirit find connections with the world in which I live. I suppose you could say these are the avenues of my reality.

I can't believe how much of my life was taken by depression and anxiety. I am thrilled to have it back. For a while, I was so protective of it, and terrified the depression would gradually sneak back in and steal it away.  I am finally starting to trust that I am learning what my depression was and that I will recognize it if it resurfaces. A. keeps an eye on me, too. If I start to slip, I know he will approach me about it. I am so, so, so grateful for that.

Maybe I should tackle the home office as a project? Make it a space that I create, and therefore, as space I can create in?

Perhaps I will take some pictures and upload them. I will need lots and lots of help. Lots of ideas on how to do this with an itty bitty budget. Also, I like the idea of reusing existing materials or used furniture as much as possible. You know, save it from the landfill, yadda, yadda, yadda.

 I don't have a lick of interior design talent -- or hell, even competency. I do, however, think I want to go with this color scheme:

That is supposed to be brushed steel on the right and wood grain on the bottom. Heh.


Thursday, November 19, 2009


I have a huge report due by the end of the day today and I am avoiding it like a champ. My blood pressure ought to be fantastic around 4:50 p.m.


I returned Monday from a road trip with my sisters and nephew. My youngest sister and I met our other sister in Omaha, and from there we drove to Fargo for a cousin's wedding. We had not seen that side of the family in close to 20 years. There were a lot of new little people to meet.

My grandmother was able to attend. She is in her late 80s and has been in pretty good health until the last couple of years. She suffered a stroke nearly a year ago and her speech is affected. She can still talk, but what she is thinking in her head doesn't come out quite right. She is learning how to handle her frustrations.

She actually communicates much better than I was anticipating, and we were all able to catch up. Her mannerisms are all intact, and for whatever reason that comforted me. She would run her hands through her hair when she was talking about my little nephew. She couldn't get enough of his curls. Oh, his curls!

Her funny little mannerisms acted like a balm, as I was really shocked at how frail she has become. I always thought of her as a stubborn ox. Now she looks like a little bird. It is hard to acknowledge that soon she will pass on. But as hard as that is, I am so grateful to be a part of the journey with her.

All of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren -- except one -- were together at the wedding. She absolutely beamed.

It was pretty awesome.


Spending nearly 32 hours in a car over the long weekend was not as awesome. I love road trips, but this one was packed a bit tight.


However! I was trapped in a car with this little cutie for 14 of those hours! 

I defy you to find a cuter kid.


The weather in Fargo, North Dakota was wonderful. At home, however, A. got nearly eight inches of snow and temperatures below zero for three days straight.

What the hell?

Also, the mercury hasn't risen above freezing yet.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Forgive Us

Six hours from the time I am typing this post, John Allen Muhammad will be executed.

John Allen Muhammad was the mastermind behind the DC Sniper shootings.

I was genuinely scared when he and his young partner, Lee Boyd Malvo, slipped in and out of the DC area, seemingly invisible, shooting people indiscriminately. I felt like game for a hunter. A hunter I didn't understand, so I didn't know how to hide. First, there were reports of a white van at all the shootings. Of course there were; every service company has a white van. That didn't stop my heart from beating faster when I saw a white van parked on my quiet little street, however.

From my Metro stop, I had to walk through a crowded shopping area. Then my route became isolated. Abruptly.  I had to climb 86 stairs that crossed a large, tree-filled park. The stairs and path were brightly lit, the park was dark and the trees provided adequate camouflage. At the top of the stairs was a road that lead to entrance ramps to three different major freeways, only 100 yards away.

It seemed a perfect location for an attack.

I stopped staying at home. I packed a suitcase and stayed at my boyfriend's.

I put my life on hold on account of terror.

This time, an execution feels personal.


I am positively sick. I do not, absolutely do not, want this man to be killed. I think it is nothing short of barbaric that we as a collective, as a government, as a people, condone killing someone, anyone.

It is no less righteous if we call it execution. It is still exerting power over another and deeming it lawful to take someone's life.

I will always believe that every life is divine and deliberate. Perhaps that is simply the stronghold Catholicism still has over me. Maybe not so Catholic, I extend this to non-human life, as well.

Obviously, I think the lives Muhammad and Malvo took were also divine. Do not think that I don't care for the families and friends who lost someone dear to them. They weigh heavy on my heart -- my soul -- as well.


Today is a dark day. I feel connected to it. I was more frightened by the Sniper than I was on 9/11 or the weeks following the 9/11 attacks. I have a visceral memory of my heart beating wildly the night I walked up those steps, and then later back down, with a packed suitcase, fleeing from my home.

Forgive us for we know not what we do.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Puppy Steps

Well, I was leaning quite heavily toward crate training Buster and Belle, and holy cow, you all pushed me the rest of the way. Thanks for all of your suggestions and support. Much of your advice echoes the plan we have in place and that makes me rest a bit easier. It certainly makes A. feel better. I think he finally believes me that we can introduce the crates to the pups and it won't be a prison.

I wasn't a part of the pups lives when they were "trained." In fact, I've never taken part in training a dog - ever. So, this is all kind of new for me. I am just lucky that I have really well-behaved pups (for the most part). Really, the only time they cause trouble is if we leave them alone in the house.

My ultimate goal is to crate train the ding dongs and use that training to then train them to be in the house alone. You know, introduce them to being home alone much the same way as we will introduce the crates - a bit at a time and with plenty of positive reinforcement. All the while, taking steps to ease any anxiety. So! There will be much watching TV with our coats on and keys in hand! Plus, then they will have the crates as their established "safe place." I'd really rather not keep them cooped up in the crates all day. They are active dogs. I doubt they'd like to be in a crate for four hours at a time.

We haven't purchased the crates yet. We are trying to figure out where, in our itty-bitty house, to set them up. We would like to set them up in the living room/kitchen area, as that is were we spend most of our time. But damn, I have no idea how to reconfigure the living room to accomodate two very large crates. (I am kind of re-thinking my Will Always Have Two Dogs philosophy.) Eek!

Since we will be taking this training slowly, the introductions to the crates will happen during the day. We may or may not eventually use them overnight. The dogs are always calm and never get into anything at night. However, it would be nice to know the dogs can sleep in their crates calmly overnight should we find ourselves in a place/situation that calls for it.

To kick start this all off, I purchased two Extreme (!?!?!) Kong's. Now, you need to understand something. Our dogs don't play with toys, dog or otherwise. They look at you like you've lost your fool head by throwing a ball and then chattering at them in high-pitched voices like an idiot. There is not tug-of-war. There is only wrestling between the two of them, and occasionally A. will join it.

I was hoping the Kong's would work as something to occupy their wee little brains for a bit and could be used as a part of crate training. If they took to them, instead of ignoring them completely. (My other fear, of course, is that Buster will get so damn anxious to get The! Food! that he will eat the entire damn Kong.)

You guys! My dogs acted like dogs! They love those things! Of course, they have both figured out how to flip it over and get the kibble out already. So now we are using a combo of kibble smeared in peanut butter and homemade treats that are a bit bigger and have to be maneavured inside. They love them! It keeps them occupied for a good 45 minutes and then they are wiped out. They have completely forgotten about their J-E-R-K-Y night-time snack! So! Wiped! Out!  And! Buster is so SMRT! He has not eaten the entire toy out of frustration.