Tuesday, December 27, 2016

I Appear to be Surviving December

It's only the third day of Christmas, but the big day, of course, is over. And I've survived. I made it through all the Girl Scout stuff, Anne's birthday, her birthday party a week later, and Christmas. There were a few teary, crazy moments here and there, but overall I appear to be doing well.

This is such a big deal. The me of five or ten years ago would be a depressed mess curled up in a corner, scared to leave the house. It's been an extremely social past few weeks; we've had a lot of people in our house between the Girl Scout float project, Anne's birthday party, and dinners with friends. There were three times in December that we had over 15 guests at a time. This, friends, is an introvert's nightmare. But ...

I've been okay. I know I'm not turning into an extravert, but it's been okay. I'm not sure why, but I'm not going to think about it too much.

So, Christmas. It was such a good Christmas for our little family. Santa was quite generous; Anne asked for books, crafts, and stuffed animals, and she got some of each. She also got several games--Battleship, Clue, Mille Bornes, and a chess set. The big present was an air hockey table that converts to a ping-pong table. That's down in our basement, which Dan and I have decided to convert into a game room. Not that we had any games at the time, but the table and an electronic darts set are a good start.

My big present was a guitar. Miraculously, I remember a lot of what I learned back at my week-long guitar class at Singin' River Ranch in the mid-80s. (That would be a D chord, an A chord, a G chord, a C chord, and an F chord, along with a few minors and dominant sevenths--enough to play several hundred songs!) So yesterday I started toughening up my fingertips, playing "This Land Is Your Land," "You Are My Sunshine," "Magic Penny," "Rock My Soul," "Puff the Magic Dragon," and several other songs that make me dream of folk-singer stardom.

Dan got some good stuff, too, but nothing too exciting. I think his favorite thing is the ping-pong table. We played two out of three last night and I whupped him. I think we have a lot of fun ahead of us with that table.

So it was a good Christmas. Dan and I are happy, which isn't something I've been able to say the past few Christmases. It seems like a lot of people who were unhappy earlier this year--people whose marriages have crumbled, people who have lost their homes to fire and flooding, people who have had serious money problems--had good Christmases, surrounded by family, living in borrowed homes, benefiting from the generosity of friends. That's been good.

This is just a check-in since I left my journal at the office, which is why it (like many of my recent posts) is pretty ho-hum. Not that I need to apologize for my three readers. but there it is. I hope all three of you had a good Christmas and are enjoying your holidays. More later. (Maybe I'll even do a "year in review" post next week!)

Monday, December 5, 2016

December Stress

These past few weeks I've been feeling increasingly stressed. There are several situational/environmental reasons for this, but it hasn't helped that physical exercise has been sporadic for me, and quiet timejust me and my notebook in a coffee shop or libraryhas been nonexistent.

So, I'm going to write out all the stressors in my life of late and hope that it helps to see it all in front of me. This is something I'd normally do in my journal, but if I'm going to revive this blog, I need to post every now and then. Now seems as good of a time as any.

All right. I'm just going to blurt everything out, and then pick through it all and add details.

Anne's birthday Christmas work knee pain hip pain groin pain money fires politics work money sleep too many people no quiet time can't exercise pain

Whew. There. That doesn't look so bad now does it.

Time for details and headings and all that.


Anne's Birthday

This kid. I just love this kid. I want her to have a fun birthday party that she'll remember for years to come. I remember my seventh birthday partywe went to Frumbrussel's ice cream in Baton Rouge. It wasn't an exciting party, but I remember it, and I remember having fun. I want that for Anne.

So why am I stressed? Hm. I think it's time for a subheading.

The Guest List

For starters, the guest list, which is too long. I've already arranged to have a mini-party at her school on her actual birthday, so that she can celebrate with her school friends without feeling obligated to invite every single one of them to our house for her birthday party the following Saturday.

She still has a million friends, particularly if you add Girl Scouts, family, and her neighborhood friends. (And then there are the moms and kids whose feelings may be hurt because we invited this one and that one but not the other one.) We have 25 people on the list. I tell myself, "Well, we can invite everyone, and half of them probably won't show up since it's the Christmas season, they're on Christmas break, etc." Which could happen. But we've always had good attendance at her birthday parties in the past, so I expect we'll get most if not all of the kids we invite. So. We must cut the list by at least five, and preferably ten, people.

The Location

We're having this thing at our house. Our modest-sized house in our cookie-cutter neighborhood. I'm not embarrassed by the house or anything like that—it's just that it's not a very big house, and a party of even 15 kids is going to be crowded. We also have a tiny driveway in a cul-de-sac, so there's nowhere to park. People have to park at the neighborhood community center a block away and walk. I hate having to tell people this. There's one perk to it, though: Parking is easy. I even reserved the community center so people could use the parking lot. I just hope it isn't, say, 30 degrees and sleeting on the day of her birthday.

Presents

I have put exactly zero though into what I'm getting my dear child for her birthday. And do you think I've even started thinking about Christmas? Ha! I've bought a couple of small presents here and there, but I haven't put much thought into Christmas at all. Which brings me to my next heading ...

Christmas

There is so much going on! Last year we took Anne to The Nutcracker and I wanted to make it an annual thing, but we're not going to have time this year—there's just too much other stuff to do. Tonight is her "Lessons and Carols" Christmas program at school. (It's also Girl Scout night, but we'll miss that.) Then we're getting a Christmas tree Wednesday evening (weather permitting), I have voice Thursday, and then Friday we'll have some Girl Scouts and their parents over to finish up the Christmas float they're riding in the Christmas parade on Saturday. Sunday I need to play Monday's Girl Scout meeting. Oh, and Monday's the day I'm going to her school to have the mini-party. Then I need to get ready for the real party, which is the following Saturday, but first we have my company Christmas party, and have I mentioned that I still need to do Christmas shopping for my co-workers? Oh, and my family? And then the following Monday is the Girl Scout Christmas party and awards ceremony ... so I feel tired just looking at this schedule. And it's not like I'll have time to prepare for any of this because I'm at work all day. So let's talk about ...

Work

I love work as much as ever, but it's gotten busy, as in no-time-for-lunch busy. It's probably the least stressful thing on my list, actually, because there is some semblance of order and expectation at work. Still, I have a full schedule this week—fuller than usual—and too many errands to try to run during lunch hours. I'm also having to miss some work here and there over the next few weeks—Friday for Anne's gingerbread house project at school, Monday for her mini-birthday party, the following Friday because she has a half-day, and the following Monday because I have a dentist appointment. Plus I need to leave a little early today so I can get her dressed up and at Lessons and Carols in time. So it's not work that's stressing me out—it's the way life is encroaching on my work time. I put in extra hours at home, but it still doesn't look good.

Let's Talk about Pain

I want to run. Running makes me happy. I can't run. I've been working the last few weeks to build myself up, walking and running alternately, and then yesterday I jogged three miles. Three miles is easy. I could run twice that if I were counting on aerobic strength alone. But I've developed so much pain in my knees, hips, and groin that even three miles puts me out for a few days. My walk/runs have not resulted in a great deal of pain, so I had hope for yesterday's run: Maybe I'd built myself up enough, worked slowly enough over several weeks, that I wouldn't have pain. No. I hardly slept last night from the pain, and this morning I'm limping. Today's pain is right hip and groin, and left knee. The left knee is the worst. It's an injury I first had in my late teens or early 20s, and it flares up every now and then and sidelines me until it decides to go away a week or a month or several months later. So I'm sad. Not only does it hurt, but I can't exercise. Even just walking or lifting weights hurts. Push-ups and sit-ups are about the only thing I can do without pain.

Current Events

There are the fires in western NC and Tennessee, which are mostly contained by now, but have brought a great deal of stress over the past couple of months. Of course there was the big Gatlinburg fire that killed 14 people and counting, and then there are thousands of acres of forest burned. We breathed smoke for weeks from fires that were miles away. It's a huge relief that we've had rain for several days now, but the stress of so many fires has taken its toll on everyone.

And then there is the election. I was not a Hillary fan but was even less of a Trump fan, and the thought of him being our president just depresses me. I also hate how this election has torn so many people apart. I haven't lost any friendships (that I know of), but that's probably because I (1) never talk about politics, and (2) practice tolerance of those who disagree with me (which leads to why I never talk about politics). But you know what? Practicing all this tolerance can be stressful, too.

And then there is my alma mater, Mary Baldwin University (originally Mary Baldwin College), announcing that it's going to go co-ed. I haven't been happy with some of the changes at Mary Baldwin, but I realize changes have to be made if it's going to survive. It's been stressful seeing the uninformed rants of some of the alumnae on various Facebook pages. A popular hashtag now is #notmyMaryBaldwin. I read their rants and think, "They are #notmyMaryBaldwin."

Too Many People

This is a weird one because I have enjoyed so much of my life lately, particularly regarding the friends that Girl Scouting has brought into my world. We have meetings every Monday and I'm in charge of the Daisies, and I honestly look forward to those meetings with great eagerness and anticipation. We had everyone to our house this past Saturday to work on their Christmas parade float. We all had a blast. I told Dan later how much I enjoyed being able to host everyone, to share our little cookie-cutter house with 20+ people.

But even as I'm still feeling the good-hospitality vibes, I start getting bitchy. I came close to yelling at my kid several times yesterday when all she did "wrong" was try to talk to me while I was making dinner. And it's not just my introverted nature being cranky from too much socializing--it's that, plus not exercising, plus not sleeping (because my leg hurts), plus having too much to do with Anne's birthday and Christmas. All of it.

I think if I could just have maybe four or five hours of alone time at a coffee shop, writing, I would be okay. I know that would help. It's what always helps. It's when I have alone time to write that I can remember all that needs to be done, schedule it all, and then let myself to what I love to do: think and write.

But I can't get there. As I just wrote, "remember all that needs to be done," I thought, "Email Kristin. Call Jonathan. Pay Verizon bill. Do Christmas cards. Remind Dan to call the heater repairman. And oh yeah, I forgot to include a 'money' heading in this post. Etc., etc., etc.,"

Next Time

By the time I post to this blog again, all of the events I mentioned above will likely be over, and maybe my stress level will have gone down a few notches. I don't like being stressed—I'm not one of those people who thrive on it. At least I don't want to thrive on it.

So Merry Christmas everyone. May your holidays be as stress-free as you can make them!