Monday, October 26, 2009

self control

I read this amazing book in one day. Titled "Precious" or "Push" by Sapphire, it was probably the most gut-wrenching thing I have ever read. Far worse than a gang rape of the different-ethnic-group boy in Afghanistan (ala Kite Runner) because it happened here in these United States, in my time, the late 80's. I don't have the words, just a warning: be prepared to cry, be disgusted, and to be so angry you cannot see straight if you take on the challenge of reading it. But it is ultimately a message of hope. Oh, and don't read it if you can't take swearing like a motherfucker, (of course, if you can't do that, why read my blog)?!
But the book really got me thinking about self control. Because Precious' parents had none. I mean NONE. No self control, no superego reining in the id, no self-aware sense of 'maybe I shouldn't do that,' basically no shame about the horrific things they had done. And then I had to think that the shame and self control really do go hand in hand.
Most people I know and are closest to have good self control up to a point, and then they have areas where it is not so good. I include myself in this group, although I have been less self-controlled in the past (*cough* swearing like a sailor for one thing), I am better than I was.
But if you perceive no shame with a particular action, you just don't have enough motivation to control the impulse to do that thing. Some people only experience shame when they get caught. Then, and only then, do they make the effort to control themselves and inhibit or modify the action that got them in trouble. Others feel shame at the slightest provocation, and go through quite a superhuman effort to squelch any hint of impropriety. There are a few (enlightened souls) who master their destructive impulses for the pure, logical benefit of themselves without being goaded by a sense of shame.
I have a hard time relating to people who are at either extreme of the spectrum. Honestly, how can you not be pathologically ashamed of yourself when you commit a really grotesque act? For example, I was reading a Newsweek blurb about a guy who recently was released from prison, his crime was for gunning down a chaperone who dared to tell him 'please leave my house' when he was roughhousing in it. How could you NOT be crippled by shame and remorse at this act? So stupid and senseless!
Neither do I relate well to those who have such an abundance of self control, who eat perfectly healthy foods all the time, exercise every day, volunteer, never say a bad word or gossip, get all their work done on time, keep a clean house, etc. They freak me out! How does someone have that MUCH self-control?!? Do they have that much self-awareness or self-imposed shame or are they truly one of those enlightened souls? I'm thinking of the Dalai Lama, here.
Maybe we have more self control about the things that are not too difficult to manage. Like, drinking alcohol, for me, is not something I lose control over. I can easily have one or none and stop. Sure, I would feel shame if I got too drunk , but that really isn't what stops me from overindulging. I haven't taken any drugs that might lead to indulgence issues, but what stops me there is a different reason entirely, more like a personal moral that I hold inviolate for myself, and has to do with the uncle I lost when I was young.
But how is it that I have so little self control when it comes to foods, particularly the non-nutritive ones? Its not like I don't feel shame if Ihave eaten too much. Not like I don't feel shame every time my pants are too tight or (God forbid!) I have to buy a larger size. And yet that shame is offset by the pleasure of the act. It doesn't matter how many times I am 'caught', I cannot seem to impose even moderation on myself. Maybe if there were more of a one-to-one correlation with eating and consequences, I could do it. But metabolism can be a tricky wild card. I can eat poorly for three days and not gain an ounce. Or I can eat really well for a week and not lose an ounce. For me, it is not clear what the magic formula is other than hunger. The more hours in a day I experience hunger the more weight I lose. But who can live that hungry?!?

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Now that I am older, I find that I am anxious about fewer and fewer things. I don't know if it is just age and experience or if it is my that I am not in a nine to five job, trying to balance work and home and time crunching the whole time. So many things used to make me very anxious when I was younger, and even envisioning trying to juggle my old job and a new baby was enough to make me break out in nervous hives. However my current life in not filled with anxiety. If money becomes a big issue, I will just go back to work. If things go wrong, I will just figure out how to fix it. It is a more practical mindset, and I enjoy and appreciate having it.
There are some things though that still make my heart race and fill my dreams with dread. Besides roaches, I mean. Even roaches don't inspire the venom in me that I used to emit, but something else does...people. Specifically strangers. I still really worry about meeting new people. I have terrible new person anxiety, and that has not improved much. It came to a head recently because I picked up my surfboard.
I hate making cold phone calls,. I loathe trying to sell anything. I love the anonimity of ebay and online catalogues where you don't have to actually know the person you are buying from. Why? Because people can be so random! You don't know when you might be trying to break the ice by making a little joke only to have it slice into a stranger's sore spot causing pain and humiliation everywhere. And then there are the people you just don't like. The ones you would cross the street to avoid on any given day or never talk to even in you were in the same long line. But now you are thrown together in a situation, and you just don't know how this is going to turn out.
So the surfboard, wisely, is pick-up only. So I have to go meet this person selling it to retrieve it. This brings out all my old anxieties. The only thing I have to go on is some amazingly poorly spelled emails and the sense of dignity one holds by being a buyer who has already paid. I had to go to a flea market to pick up the surfboard. Talk about a nightmare for anyone with stranger anxieties. My dreams had all been about arguments with these unnamed people with whom I must conduct business, ranging from haggling over price to the dreaded phrase "Oh, someone else already came to get it - its gone!" So when the day finally came to perform this errand, I was not very rested or calm.
However, I found the seller without a hitch, and retrieved the board which was the perfect size although not in the perfect condition as i hoped. It is going to need quite a bit of repair work. The good news is, I have all winter to do this! And it is not difficult work, just tedious, to sand all the dings, tape them off, and fill them with epoxy. The nose and the tail of the board are the worst, and I think I will actually have to re-fiberglass them to make them watertight. However, I am hopeful. Thanks to the internet and the knowledge of perfect strangers, I have seen blogs and youtube videos on exactly all the repairs I need to do. Hurray information age!
Now if I can just get out of meeting anybody else... Scratch that! I still have to buy the supplies to do the repairs!
The weird thing is that sometimes the strangers that you most fear are the ones that become your good friends. It is a magical transformation, like falling in love, where suddenly you just connect on a deeper level. You just 'get' each other and suddenly you are not so alone anymore. It is miraculous in my view that all the anxiety can just flush out like releasing a breath.

Friday, October 16, 2009

sneak peek

Here is your sneak peek for Halloween. Too much cuteness!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

updates on everything

Surfboard... I bought one! I will pick it up this weekend. It has a few dings that need repairing, so I will be playing with epoxy soon. SOOOOOOO excited, and so is daughter.

Chiggers....really suck. We still have itchy scabs

Washer...still works like a charm

James Joyce...wrote at least one awful book. Yes, I finally finished "Portrait..." and my main complaint is this: Nothing actually happened. There was no plot. There were a lot of discussions and dialogues. I guess it is famous for this aspect, and its title does accurately reflect the fact that nothing fucking happens in this whole dumb book, but still...forewarned in this case did not mean fore-armed. There is a whole middle section about the Catholic Church's vision of Hell, and how awful it is. I would consider banning this book for children of a certain impressionable age, but then, they would never have gotten past chapter one, so there's really no need to ban it. However, it did make me realize one (of the myriad) ways in which the Catholic Church's religion is totally crazy and why people brought up Catholic are so mental the rest of their lives. That description of Hell is a lot of shit to deal with! Ninety percent of it is not even in the Bible...its just made up by priests who have nothing better to do but think up all the ways Hell could me made worse than the apostle John described in Revelations. No wonder I am not a Christian and I hate what the church (particularly Catholic) has done to people, information, and books.

Biting...well you know how 'cutting' is out and more mainstream now. Back in middle school, one of my friends was a 'cutter'. She totally fit the profile: perfectionist, quiet, smart, anxious. Well, I didn't cut myself, but I did bite my own arm on occasion back then. Its just a release for anxiety when you don't perform as well as you expect yourself to and you are so mad you literally don't know what to do with yourself. I never have urges to do this anymore, but something about reading that book brought up all those self-damaging emotions of adolescence. Hey! Maybe THAT was the point of the book. Its all so clear mud!

Halloween costume for my daughter... Is so CUTE! I sewed it myself, and it is a cat costume in the most luxurious leopard print imaginable. Now we just need a cold front for the end of October.
Hey, speaking of cold fronts...where the fuck is it?!?! GAWD I am tired of the heat and most especially the humidity. We have fleas and roaches all over the place because of the damp, hot, moist, close air. I swear October is the worst month in Gainesville. It is no hotter than July. Its just that it feels so wrong! Many leaves are turning brown, the Sycamores and Tulip trees have already shed their leaves. You know that it should be cool and crisp with the smell of apples, cinnamon and squashes in the air. But its NOT!

Ebay...I had special eBay luck yesterday. I just love it when that happens. I got bargains on things I wanted, and now I just have to wait for them to show up in my mailbox. Such Bliss! Its almost as good as ordering from Amazon. My husband is enthralled with our latest Amazon splurge... Burn Notice seasons 1 and 2. That is really a good show - even from the very first episode. We also got Disney Fairy chapter books this last purchase, and they are surprisingly good and well written too! My daughter is not quite quick enough at reading to do the chapter books herself. However, she can read the level 4 (2nd to 4th grade) steadily. It is so amazing! I am so proud of her progress and how well she is reading, and I just know she is going to be one of those who stays up until midnight with the flashlight on under her covers. Maybe as early as next year. That puts a smile on my face

One last Gainesville flashback for all you wanderers. I heard on the radio this morning:
'Its Magical
Its Wonderful
Its all right there!'

(can you guess it yet?)


(sing it with me now...)

' The Alachua County Faiiiiirrrrrrrrrrrre
We're goin' to the Faiiiiiirrrrrrrre'

Repeat ad infinitum.

Actually, I have never made it to the fair, but I sure hope that chick who sings that commercial on the radio has gotten dividends and royalties for the last twenty years because it is still the SAME song Every YEAR!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

my mind rebels...

I am reading the boringest book ...EVER
And it is called
The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
By James Joyce
Why did anyone publish this enormous festering pool of mental pus?
Let alone laud it?!?
I am so restless, I could bite myself.
But last time I made a mark
and that was embarassing
so I won't do that again
Not because of the pain but because of the mark
Throw in a few more big words and arduously looping comments
and I could be published and lauded too.

Monday, October 12, 2009

surfboard dreams

I have noticed that I obsess about one thing for a month and then its on to the next thing. So inopportunely, in October (although it is a HOT one), I am lately obsessing about having a surfboard for myself and daughter. We may have permanently given up hiking due to the chiggers, as even I cannot muster the enthusiasm to have a nice walk in the woods after looking at my scabs. However, I do love the beach, and I do love the waves and I recently saw the coolest Dad ever. He was on his longboard with his three year old son on the nose. He didn't even get up, but he was able to catch the wave so his son could do some nose-riding. I thought, "Hey, even I could do that!" Daughter is game, too. She is enamored with the new Toon network series 'Stoked' about six teens working at a surf resort and catching waves in their very spare time. Its like 6-Teen but way cooler, funner, and has some really beautiful (although simple) graphics that just make you want to smile and...SURF! Plus a kickin' theme song which I sing to her every so often just to make her grin. Do I think I have a real surfer girl on my hands? Will she turn pro at age 15? I seriously doubt it, but this would be a fun thing to do together that doesn't involve bug bites, whining, or anything more expensive than a tank of gas and a mcdonalds lunch. Well, except for the
Yeah, I don't have one anymore. I DID have one about ten years ago. Okay, it was 1994. I was a lot more phat and a lot less fat back then. I had a seven foot pointed-nose board that I bought used with a few duct-taped dings and tried like hell to ride...and I never managed to stand up on it even once. I was so upset that I couldn't make it work in the waves off Crescent Beach. I had learned to surf like every other tourist - in Hawaii, off Waikiki beach on a ten-foot wooden board that would have floated a sumo wrestler. So, I didn't consider that a performance board would require a lot more effort to catch a wave and would sail like a kite when caught by the repetitive pounding surf and offshore breeze that is hallmark of the Matanzas inlet. I never managed to paddle, push or drag it past the break point of the waves. Again and again I was rebuffed and humiliated. It didn't occur to me that I didn't have to go that far out or even stand up to have a fun ride. I saw a pair of surfers having a great time surfing the mild breaking waves and basically using their logs as oversized boogie boards. Why didn't I think of that before?!? No, I got sick, bought a house, grew up and yard saled the old board for 20 bucks.
And, now I am shopping for a new one. Actually, specifically, not a new board, not a board with a pointed nose, not a short board at all. I am haunting craigslist, garage sales and everything else I can think of to see what I can find. Maybe its the time of year, the weather, or something, but there are some longboards out there and interestingly, there are several other longboard-seekers too.
I figure I will find the perfect log...just in time for a cold front and twenty-degree drop in ocean temperature. And, I will have to put my current obsession on hold for six months, and jump with both feet into some other thing that will probably cost some money, singing the famous chant, "Just wait til next year!!!"

Friday, October 9, 2009

Chigger washer update

There were at least thirty chigger bites on myself and fifty on my poor daughter. Talk about mother's guilt...I thought she had gotten away with nothing (and I was happy because it is a lot easier to suffer torture than to watch anyone else undergo it), but it turns out that her reaction was just delayed by two days or so. Finally, I have stopped itching right at the peak of my daughter's misery. The only thing that saved us was Aveeno oatmeal bath (can we sleep in it?) and Benadryl. I was taking four benadryls a night every night this week, and I have been keeping my daughter doped up on it too. Nothing else helped for very long. Fortunately the end is in sight because the severe itchy stage immediately precedes the scabbing-over and healing stage. (the first stage is pain, then a hard swelling, like a nodule). These symptoms in order are what differentiate chiggers from any other insect bites, but what a hideous progress.
Eight loads of wash later...
I love my new Kenmore. I got really worried because of course right after I signed the paperwork and confirmed the delivery of the new HE2Plus, I was reading all the terrible reviews on line for this washer. Leaks, bad computers, mildew smell, noise, 'walking', lost socks. You name it - anything that could go wrong was blamed on this model. So, I was super cautious at first, loading only towels and shirts I could afford to ruin. But dang, the very first load got everything whiter than they had been in three months. It uses very little water. It does spin at 1100 rpms so it wrings out the clothes so well that I do not have to use the dryer over 30 minutes for anything, any size load. It uses a fraction of the special HE detergent (yes I had to buy new and toss five bottles of the old stuff). I think a lot of the bad reviews are from people who don't want to shell out for a different style of detergent or don't want to make sure the washer is level. I did spend over an hour on the ground adjusting the legs so that the washer is almost perfectly level, but I also wanted the spinning parts to last as long as possible, and I didn't want it to 'walk' around. As for the smell, every manufacturer now recommends wiping the rubber door seal dry and keeping the door open to air the drum - common sense stuff for a moldy environment like Florida.
So far, so good, and I will be sure to post my favorable review in a few months.

Monday, October 5, 2009

chiggers and washers

I am totally zoning on double-dose Benadryl tablets, so if this post fails to make sense, well, now you know why...
Why am I on Benedryl (and double dosing, at that)? That is because I am covered with oozing itchy painful chigger mite bites. No, I am not 'drowning them by putting nail polish on the bites'. What I am doing is mentally kicking myself for agreeing to have a picnic with my daughter at O'Leno State Park in late September. The weather cooled and dried to perfection, it didn't even occur to me that there wouldn't be enough permethrin or DEET in the world to keep my skin intact this day. So, I was unarmed and unprepared, and never even saw them coming. We did see an alligator, several deer and many turtles, so that was good. My daughter got two deer ticks which I didn't see until two days later. So far no fever rash or any other indication of Lyme (knock on wood).
Plus also! The washing machine broke down after 14 years of hard service, it no longer agitates. So, now I cannot wash my chigger infested clothes. If in fact chiggers can infest clothes, I am in deep doo-doo, but I don't think that they can stay viable for long. I think all of them already found me, and sucked me dry.
My mom had a garage sale, but it was not very lucrative. At least it wasn't a whole lot of work, but I wish now that we hadn't tried to pull it off on short notice. She is going on a long trip to Europe soon, and it really could have been put off. I felt like I was working double, and I know she was, too. I have gotten so lazy about doing things. I am a born procrastinator, but it is not always the best way to get things done. So many things late or half-assed, that I wish I could have done over or differently.
On the up side, the new washer should arrive tomorrow. If it is not a lemon, it ought to work wonderfully and maybe even save water and electricity. Daisy Scouts should start soon and Dance class for daughter this week. I have started work on a Halloween costume that dear daughter loves, and I have a lot of minis to paint while Cynde is away at first a show and later visiting her beautiful newborn granddaughter. Also, I have chilled rum cream in my fridge....if I can't numb my chigger bites, I can numb my mind!