About a Bag Lady

When my son told me yesterday there was a homeless person sleeping on the lawn in front of our building it made me wonder what their story was, as it always does whenever I see someone in their situation. Everybody living outside of the normal societal spectrum has one, and some have even made it into our pop culture – remember ‚The Fisher King‘ starring Robin Williams and Jeff Bridges? It’s one of my favorite movies ever.

When I was cleaning up our balcony yesterday, getting rid of the sad shriveled stalks that were my plants last summer, I suddenly thought – what if they’re dead, or sick? So I peered over the railing to check whether the person had moved, and found that it was a woman who looked Latin American, with beautiful long black hair. She had made herself as comfortable as she could on a thermo picknick blanket, her backpack, sneakers and a paperback novel neatly arranged next to her. It felt weird looking down on her like that, as if I were intruding, so I didn’t stare once I had established she was alive.

Today, my neighbors from downstairs went out to take her a drink, which didn’t really go well. She lost it, yelled at them for their trouble, and finally they had to ask her to leave. They said she seemed pretty tweaked out on some drug. She’s gone now, and I hope she found another secluded (and safe) place to crash.

A friend pointed out to me recently that in Germany, nobody really has to sleep on the streets if they don’t want to. He said it’s always a choice people make, probably to do with some psychological disorder more often than not. Or even with a profound need to be alone, to the point of preferring a patch of front lawn to being crammed into a shelter, sharing space with a group of strangers.

I’ve said it before – I enjoy solitude a great deal myself, but unlike the bag lady, I’m privileged enough to be able to be alone in comfort rather than having to sleep on a park bench. Suddenly, being alone up here in my comfortable, central heated apartment with a bathroom, food in the fridge and WiFi seemed special and not something I should be taking for granted. In the end, we may not be that different, she with her paperback novel and me with my e-book, I thought.

It made me appreciate my life, which is always a good thing. My family have gone to the country for the long weekend, I’ve stayed back to do some work, and now I’m ready to welcome back the noise, the laughter and the mess that is my sweet kids and husband.

Did I do any crafts the past week? Well, it was a busy few days work-wise, also there were parents‘ meets, and my sweet girl J. came to stay with us for a couple days after winning the award for Best German Computer Game 2017 – a major achievement she can be soooo proud of! If you’re a gamer, you absolutely need to check out Portal Knights, it’ll be out for XBox on May 19th.

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As you can see, I have been knitting over the past week: another pair of stripy socks in the coolest shade of rockabilly baby blue. These are for my girl A. whose birthday is coming up in 2 weeks.

IMG_2158Remember when I was so bamboozled with my many color choices for my friend S.’s socks? The blue ball of yarn was one of the ones I bought that day. These are the ones for S., all wrapped up pretty, and modeled by myself.

When I’m done with the socks, I want to finish the Zig Zag crochet cushion I started over Easter. Without realizing, I included the pansexual colors (and a few more), what do you know. I was really just using up leftover yarn, not trying to make a political statement! But I think it’s going to be so pretty, another spot of brightness on the dark Grey that is our new couch.IMG_2228.JPGAnd now I have go check what to make my people for dinner. Have a good week, everyone!

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So many Things to Do, So Little Time

Sometimes I wonder if I wouldn’t have made one heck of a housewife. You know, cooking (check), bringing up kids (check), community work (check) but no job (well…) and a few lovely hobbies (check) instead. I very much doubt I’d have been bored. A solid liberal arts education gives you a wide enough horizon to be an interested human being, after all. Maybe I’d practice piano again. Or sign up for Arabic classes like I’ve been wanting to do. Ha. I bet the very thought of a stay-at-home-mom daughter would have made my brainy mother and her women’s lib generation shudder. But as my fabulous and equally brainy sister-in-heart A. pointed out, that generation fought for us having the choice as well as the opportunities. She’s right – and it was what I needed to hear when she said that, as I’d been struggling with the whole ‚OMG why did I not make more of the chances I was given in life‘ … in connection with the big 5-0 approaching. Anyway, that isn’t how things have worked out for me, and that’s fine. I get to do things that I love, which is anything but a given.

Where did this train of thought come from anyway? It’s my friend A.’s fault. She asked me for a lasagna recipe earlier today, and since I already wrote mine down a while back, all I needed to do was point her here. And then she said, Jeez, when do you even find the time to write all this stuff? Which made me feel like a weirdo. I’m certainly not an artist by any stretch. I don’t feel compelled to tell stories like I imagine authors do, I have no fictional characters in my head, I’m not plotting any story arcs, and I don’t think my musings and pics posted here are of great importance. And yet I find the whole blogging experience gratifying, and when I’ve done a good job with a post, I feel reasonably proud of it, in much the same way I feel happy with a piece of knitting or crochet that turned out well. Obviously it’s a time-consuming hobby, and sitting my butt down to write a post seriously cuts down on my free time, for unlike with crafts, I can’t really do anything else while writing. I guess you’d have to be a blogger yourself to understand why I do it. I certainly didn’t get it before I started this blog, even though there were a few bloggers I was following. It’s a mystery I won’t be solving tonight, that’s for sure, as I need to go put my kid to bed, stat.

IMG_2102.jpgAn hour later. Kids. When you have them, they rule your life. Seeing that my mood has changed completely in the meantime, I’ll just continue this post with remembering one of the coldest Easters in years. But the crazy weather did make for some amazing light – magic, right?

IMG_2034My current crafts WIP is a pair of socks, for my friend S. in Frankfurt. Yesterday was her birthday, and I was going to finish the socks before that. I bought the yarn in good time, but I swear it took me 3 days to decide on a color scheme. I even did a color survey on Instagram because I just couldn’t make up my mind: IMG_2158.JPGDespite sound advice, I still wasn’t happy with any of the choices. I ended up trying out quite a few things – I don’t think I ever ripped up so many swatches. When I’d had it with that, I decided that stripies were the way to go, and here’s what that led to: IMG_2178I’ll finish the socks tonight so I can mail them to my friend tomorrow. She’s an alternative medicine practitioner, with beautiful long honey-blond hair and amazing eyes, blue and green and some grey – and I seem to remember she wears white to work, so I hope the socks will go well with her coloring. They’re made of a soft merino mix (mint green) and the downiest baby merino yarn (off-white). I think they’re really pretty in a retro kind of way, and also they feel really snuggly. Handmade socks warm your heart from the feet up, don’t they ;-)?

The rest of my week looks kind of crazy, wish me luck with not dropping too many of the balls I need to juggle. I guess that’s what you get for being brought up with the notion that since you can do it all, that’s what you’re supposed to do, too … No wonder people all suffer from burn-out syndrome these over-achieving days!

Stay sane, stitch readers, and remember to breathe.

The Day It Was Spring …

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… was Saturday last week. This picture was taken after an extraordinarily busy week during which I translated a huge number of pages, participated in two parents meets, worried about my mother in law who underwent major surgery and tried planning our summer around three book projects, one wedding, a trip to France and two families‘ (located on different continents) schedules …

The week after that was basically more of the same, and therefore mostly remarkable for offering the perspective of a Week With No Alarm Clock to follow. Not that it means I have a week off, but sleeping in is usually only happening on weekends, and I’m taking full advantage.

Unfortunately, the weather has been more rain than shine, less degrees than we hoped, and a chilly Easter to look forward to :-/. But we get to be in the country, so we can run outside as soon as the rain stops. Also, we’re here with our friends, and that is a treat whether the weather be good or bad.

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And now for something completely different! People have mentioned that I never really talk about my work on here. It’s sort of true, I mostly discuss crafts and cooking and stuff that’s on my mind. This may give the impression that that’s all I’m about, and since nothing could be further from the truth, let me put that in perspective a bit.

As you guys know, I’m a copywriter turned translator. My former and my current jobs are similar in terms of requiring you to become familiar with a new subject matter in record time, enough to be able to credibly pretend you know what you’re talking about anyway. In copywriting, that’s usually all you really do. Obviously it helps if you love words and know how to be witty, but it rarely goes any deeper than that, mostly because lot of bomb-ass ideas get trashed before they ever see the light outside of the dungeons of the art department.

Translating is different. When I translate nonfiction, I learn so much from my authors – and if I’m lucky enough to translate something I love, like a cookbook or a crafts book, it all adds to my own expertise. This past month has seen me buckle down and learn about sewing. And it’s great! All the yummy new words I learned, all the insight on fabrics and patterns and needles and utensils. I had FUN!

When translating fiction, it’s great to transpose a whole world, a culture, the main characters, and to make the readers get them, or even like them. When the readers don’t really notice they’re reading a translation, I’d say I did a good job.

As I’ve mentioned before, I have a weakness for (gay) young adults fiction, and the millennials in particular. So far, I’ve translated two novels by Santino Hassell, both set in the very diverse gay culture of New York. The first book, Sutphin Boulevard, was well received and got good reviews, even a little love for the translator, which was such a relief because as a hetero cis-gender female translator, I was apprehensive as to whether I had done the work justice. It’s a deeply romantic love story, but in parts kind of dark. Not an easy read at all, but it’s got great protagonists, interesting character development and (because it’s Santino) some very explicit and highly emotional sex scenes.

The second book, Sunset Park, came out mid March, and oddly, it seems the reviewers have little patience with the woes and struggles of younger people. Why then would they even buy a book like that, I wonder. Just go for the grown-up books section and skirt everything that reeks of coming of age, finding out who you are and what you’d like to do with your life, falling in love and discovering your (sexual) identity… I’m sure Sunset will find its readers anyway, because it’s a great story, and very very funny.

When translating the first book, I struggled with finding the right tone for the sex scenes – ultimately, in German, we don’t have the playful and fun vocab English has for anything sex related. German tends to be either overly romantic, off-puttingly clinical or flat out vulgar. It was a challenge, but in the end I guess I pulled it off. The second book taught me (among other things) about Grindr, the gay sex dating app. I liked the pragmatism, the acronyms, the lingo … the whole system was fascinating to me. And since Santino doesn’t do sex for sex’s sake in his novels, there’s a very intense Grindr chat in one of the first chapters that is absolutely crucial for the whole story arc, and I just needed to nail that (no pun whatsoever intended). So now I know my way around that (not entirely sure what good it’s going to do me – again, straight cis-gender female – but it was cool to explore that parallel universe anyway.) And of course, translating two characters who are both funny as all hell, snarky and sweet, one with a Latino background who sounds a little ‚hood, and the other a clean-cut white boy from Connecticut who went to Brown. I found both of them equally lovable, and they’re my favorite couple in that ‚verse so far.

I’m supposed to work on the third book over the summer. It’s about two guys who’re both almost 40, so the most adult people he’s written about so far. We’ll see how I do with them.

Until then, I have the great honor of chipping in on the translation of a true cookbook classic – not supposed to say which one yet, but it’s huge, and I’m loving it SO MUCH!

So there, now I have talked about work – to those of you who thought all I do is bring up kids and crochet and knit, sorry to disappoint, not that kind of lady.

But I do do these things all the time anyway, because I’d go insane if I didn’t. Here’s some things I made over the past few weeks:
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Look, the soft pink socks for Sweet C. are done :-).

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As are two new sofa cushions to add a splash of color to the solemn grey.

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Voilà, the latest glittery sock creation for my daughter.

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This was enlightening – can you believe I made all of those…?

Signing off tonight (for it’s late!) with a series of my teenager creating street art with garbage. Love the way his mind works :-).

Happy Easter, everyone – let’s hope the Easter Bunny will be generous this year!

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It’s Not About You

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Depression sucks for everyone involved. The patient is suffering, and if they’re not careful, friends and family will exhaust themselves in vain attempts to ‚do something‘. Trying to cheer the other person up, attempting to make them feel better and look on the bright side – it can get frustrating because that’s just not how it works.

When one of my closest friends got sick, my own approach (after silently freaking out for a while) was to detach myself enough to be able to be or do what she needed. It took 3 very long weeks of allowing her space to find out for herself what the heck that even was. I found a way of letting her know I was thinking of her without pressuring her, but the incommunicado was not easy for me. What helped me was to tell myself every day that it wasn’t about me. In the meantime, I learned that there will be good days, and there will be very bad days. It gets more complicated the more you love the depressed person, because you’ll see them fall apart, and there won’t be a damn thing you can do but listen, hold them, be there and pray they’ll eventually find it in themselves to climb out of that bottomless pit.

In the beginning, it was such a paradigm shift to understand that what is troubling her has absolutely nothing to do with me, or with what I did or didn’t do. This is probably even more difficult if you’re a spouse or a parent, because these relationships are more codependent than a friendship by definition. Not that friendships never are, and not that it’s necessarily a bad thing. Depending on friends is what they’re there for, thick and thin, good times or bad. Right now, my job is to be there for my friend while being mindful of my own needs at the same time. And while it seems illogical to detach yourself in order to stay close, it seems to me that that’s one of the few things that can work.

I’m not entirely new to this. An ex-boyfriend of mine was both depressed and drinking. Our relationship was an absolute train wreck, but at the time, I genuinely believed he needed me, so narcissistic of me. In the end it was him who ended it, which, from today’s perspective, was the sanest thing he could have done. It broke my heart, but it was clear we really had nowhere to go – and I wasn’t even helping him with his issues. He did what he needed to do.

Then, there was a friend who became depressed over the course of a brief marriage that ultimately failed. There was really not a lot I could offer but a couch, a friendly ear and encouragement to seek professional help. She did, and she got better, and she learned to be happy again. But it took me years to accept that there was nothing else I could have done, and to be OK with that.

Interestingly, it was only recently that I understood the difference between feeling empathy for someone and trying to absorb their pain. It’s probably the secret weapon that enables therapists to do their jobs without going crazy themselves. This may be a bunch of BS from a professional standpoint, but for the current situation with my friend, it’s my strategy for standing by her to feel her sorrow but not own it.

Sorry for dumping this heavy business on you, stitch readers. I know you probably came to see some crafts projects, or check for new recipes.

If any of you know more about depression though, please let me know, I’m sure I still have a lot to learn. I read that doing crafts is being offered as a part of therapy in psych wards – guess we’ve come full circle there. Anyway, here’s my current WIPs:

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Birthday socks for my friend C., mom to my Most Excellent Godson R., in a lovely shade of soft pink called ‚Winter Sorbet‘ – poetic name, right?

The Dotty Granny Blanket may or may not, depending on my stamina, become a cushion instead. It’s a lenghty process, making all those pretty dotty granny squares. We’ll see.

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The one above is definitely a cushion front – a color explosion in rows of half double crochet, complete with bobbles that add to the Seventies lava lamp feel of the piece ;-).
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The back will look like this – a deep shade of blood red, also in HDC but without bobbles.

That’s all I got for today. Thank you for dropping by and reading.

OK, you asked.

If you’re like me a firm believer in chicken soup for basically any ailment from germs to a broken heart, you tend to have excess meat on your hands once the dregs are slurped up. Sick people (especially the little ones) don’t usually have huge appetites, and all they really want is the broth anyway. As a rule, I’ll be saddled with 1 leftover chicken breast and thigh minimum. There are a number of ways to put that meat to good use. Chicken fricassee (I just don’t love it, there, I’ve said it), enchiladas (yum), chicken-tomato sauce pasta with lots of basil (yum again) … or you make a chicken salad, one of my husband’s all-time favorites. Here’s how I do it:

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Chicken Salad for G.

Leftover boiled (or fried) chicken (1 chicken breast and 1 thigh, for instance), meat boned, skinned and cubed

1 shallot, chopped

1 apple, cubed

1 egg yolk

4-6 TBSP Cooking oil

Dash of olive oil

1 TBSP white Balsamic vinegar

1 TBSP Dijon mustard

Pinch of sugar

Lemon

Salt

Black pepper

125 g plain white yogurt

Watercress

1 TBSP pink peppercorns

Home-made Mayonnaise

Never made mayonnaise from scratch before? Well, it’s really easy if you pay attention to a few little things. I assure you that, once you’ve got the technique down, if you’ll ever look at the Miracle Whip jars at the store again, it will be with well-deserved, snobbish foodie disdain.

When it comes to making your own mayonnaise, there’s a lot to be said for some really anal prep – it’s most annoying when you have to hunt in the back of the fridge for your jar of mustard, cup of yogurt or lemon while your mayonnaise may begin to curdle. I usually start out with setting out all my ingredients on the counter, plus a bowl large enough to hold the salad later on, and my flat wire whisk, the one I also use for stirring sauces. (Which is of course what mayonnaise really is, albeit cold.)

Peel and chop the shallot, cut up the apple and meat, then set aside.

Now for actually making that mayonnaise. Separate the egg and put the yolk in your bowl, saving the egg-white for something else (whether you use it – and another 7 or so – for a supple cheesecake or for making a modest egg-white omelet is entirely up to you!). Add salt, pepper, sugar and mustard. Beat vigorously – the yolk needs to absorb all those ingredients, as well as the oil you’ll be drizzling on it in a minute. Keep beating until you’ve incorporated all the oil. Your mayonnaise should now be pale, yellow and thick – the consistency not unlike the store-bought variety you’re familiar with. Now add vinegar and lemon juice to taste, keeping in mind that you’ll be diluting the mayonnaise later on with yogurt (or cream cheese, should you find it too liquid after all), so it’s OK if the flavor is tangy and intense. Keep stirring, then add the yogurt and pink pepper. Taste frequently but don’t double-dip, you’re dealing with raw egg after all, and don’t want any bacteria in there. Add more salt/pepper/lemon juice/sugar/mustard/vinegar to taste. And, of course, other spices, if you want. Some people like curry powder or chili powder or even smoked paprika in this.

When you’re happy with your mayonnaise, add the chicken meat, chopped shallot, apple and pink pepper. Sometimes you need to add more yogurt at this point, in case you have too many solid ingredients. It’s a matter of taste, really, how much mayo you like in your chicken salad.

Cover your bowl and place it in the fridge. Only add the watercress shortly before serving with some really good bread. This is perfect for sandwiches, as a starter, as a dish for brunch, or as a late-night snack – my husband would probably say that there’s no such thing as a bad time for a good chicken salad.

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There is little else to report from the past few weeks. I was editing the heck out of the latest translation project, a cookbook, and it was a big deal to me (even more so than all my translation projects are anyway), because I was working for a new client, one of the Big Publishing Houses, and of course I want them to be happy and come back with more work. Fingers crossed – I submitted the translation yesterday, and as per usual, I’m feeling a bit brain-dead in the aftermath of such high-level concentration over a longer period. Battling a bladder infection at the same time did _not_ help.

But I did manage to watch a few shows with the 2 dudes, and you know that means I needed something to do with my hands. Here’s what I made:

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Another pair of SUCH PINK socks, this time for the little squirrel burrowing under my duvet on a lazy Saturday morning. And, while waiting at the doctor’s office on Monday, I started on these: IMG_1704.JPG

Yarn was picked by my glitz and glam loving daughter (Lurex!) a while back, for practicing her crochet skills. She did that for a while, too – but doesn’t seem to find it as fulfilling as I do, and the yarn was abandoned soon after the first enthusiasm had worn off. So I grabbed it and let muscle memory do the rest while I was waiting to see the doc. The colors are interesting, and the socks will turn out gorgeous, I think. You can never have too many pairs, living in this climate, that much is certain.

I’m signing off today with a very cool shot of gracefully executed Double-Dabbing by my daughter and her friend S.

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Enjoy the first days of March, and the rays of sunshine peeking through. Spring Is Coming!

My First Crochet Pattern

A small step for all seasoned DIY people out there, I’m sure, but to me it feels huge to actually feel brave enough to do this. But here we go: Today, I’d like to share my first ever crochet pattern with you, stitch readers.

Seeing that it’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow, and seeing that my three chocolate monsters will expect something for their stashes, and seeing that I’m kind of more into the flowers and anything handmade, I’ll do a combination of both. Check it out: IMG_1627.JPG

Cute, right? It will look so pretty on any chocolate box or bag or bar … kind of like this:
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This little heart takes about 5 minutes to make, tops, and here’s how to do it:

Chain 4

Crochet 3 TC (triple crochet) into the first stitch of your chain, another 3 DC (double crochet) into the same stitch.

Chain 1, crochet 1 super-tall QC (quadruple crochet), chain 1

(That’s half of your heart shape made, already. See how easy that was? Now for the second half.)

Crochet 3 DC into the first chain stitch, then another 3 TC, also into the same stitch.

Chain 3 and join with a slip stitch into that ol‘ first chain stitch, cut your thread and darn in the two tails you’ll have in the back.img_1626I totally forgot how much I love crocheting little motifs, haven’t done it in ages, what with all the socks I’ve been knitting lately. But this winter turned out to be a long one, so those were needed!

Here’s the last pair I finished during a movie marathon/teenage sleepover (Ocean’s 11-12-13, great choice!) my son hosted last Saturday night:img_1622May they keep my girl J.’s feet warm until the spring. I think they’re really funky. Neon Pink is an awesome color, which I never appreciated that much before, as a baby Goth/Punk Rock/Emo from the Eighties. Then, it was all about wearing Black, Black and more Black. And it’s kind of been my favorite ever since, creature of habit that I am.

Decades later however, when I had my daughter, I finally needed to come to terms with all things Pink and glittery. I’ve learned to embrace color, first for her, and then eventually for myself also. I must admit I still feel safest in Black and Grey, fashion-wise, but I do add splashes of brightness to it occasionally now.

Well, this has been a most lovely and productive lunch-break, you guys. Maybe you’ll read this before tomorrow, and if you do, please let me know how my pattern worked out for you – have fun trying your hand at these little heart shaped motifs :-). And of course have a happy Valentine’s Day tomorrow!

About Pain

 

img_1513As the daughter of a rheumatoid arthritis patient, I’ve been familiar with chronic pain from a very young age. I’ve seen it reduce my sophisticated, witty, creative gorgeous hunk of a dad to a barely hanging in there shadow of himself – until the next dosage of his meds would finally kick in, and there he’d be, back again, (almost) his old self.

So, I basically grew up with a firm belief in Daddy’s Little Helpers, because I experienced empirical proof for their effectiveness on a daily basis. No wonder I’m generous with the Ibuprofen myself. Gotta watch that, I know.

I also know pain isn’t necessarily a physical phenomenon only. At least, it’s not the actual pain that makes it horrible but the way it eats up who we are, the way it makes us crawl into ourselves and hide like a frightened young child. It’s scary to feel overpowered like that, and as a migraine patient I’m aware it can hit you out of nowhere at any given time, and hold you in its clutches for days if you’re too late in taking your drugs. Some might argue that migraines are the worst, but after a while, you learn that they have a certain dependable rhythm, and that they eventually will go away again, a perspective that makes them bearable.

This isn’t the case when you’re unlucky enough to have a condition like my dad did. I got a taste of what that might be like when I found myself with an aching jaw last week, which I first assumed was another symptom of the bad cold I was recovering from, and maybe due to the chilly first nights at our country cottage (I think we had 3 °C in there when we arrived. My daughter and I both wore our knit hats to bed!).

img_1534It wasn’t so much a toothache. My whole lower jaw was hurting, and it gradually got worse. Unfortunately, there was no doctor to see out there, and besides, I was busy with wood-burner maintenance, catering for the brood and occasional strolls through the snow-covered forest.

Also, I was mentally gearing up for my son’s 15th birthday, so didn’t have a lot of time to think about myself. Finding him a cool present the last minute because he couldn’t make up his mind which new bike to choose … left me with no present, which was unheard of. Thank God for amazon prime! Have you guys ever heard of Fidget Cubes? They’re awesome. One of my son’s teachers actually allows him to play with his in class because she thinks it enhances his concentration. Well, as long as it doesn’t drive the others bonkers, right? I’d certainly kick his ass if I were to sit next to him trying to work on my French grammar or a math problem while he was click-click-clicking away …

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We went back to town on Friday. Can you believe I really only see how beautiful it was out there now when looking at the photos? I’d been popping Ibuprofen for 2 days, and when we got back, I was barely hanging in there as the pain got more debilitating by the hour. But my husband made me use our infrared lamp, and that did help a little, so when midnight rolled around, I had baked a pretty cake, organized our folks to come over for brunch, made a very yummy chicken salad and when we toasted with champagne around midnight, I was tired, but doing alright.

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Family brunch was great and the Fidget Cube was delivered on time. But as I was relaxing into our Big Boy’s Big Day, the pain came back with a vengeance. It hurt when I had salty things, sweet things, apples, hot beverages – in fact, everything I put in my mouth made my whole jaw hurt. It was starting to wear me thin, and by nightfall, I was actually considering going to the ER – but then changed my mind when I thought about how I’d be sitting there next to stab wounds and broken bones and traffic accident victims – with what exactly? A toothache? Come on. So, more painkillers.

My son’s friends came over, we gave them his favorite Chili and cake, they gave him a cool teeimg_1579

and then they watched a Marvel movie, munching on popcorn. I have to say I really don’t like the Cap very much at this point. He seems very … um … Republican? I get how he would be a bit conservative, and thinking inside his little pre-war-values-do-the-right-thing-box, because he was frozen for decades, I really do. But screwing over Tony Stark like that? Who does that? Anyway, after a fascinating post-movie discussion of superheroes and Avengers and whatnot and whether Marvel was superior to DC (duh!), eventually the youngsters retired to my son’s lair for the slumber part of the party, and I went to bed too.

I slept OK, and it actually seemed I’d gotten better in the morning – that is to say until I had my first sip of hot tea. The pain flared back up, and from then on it only got from bad to worse, and it’s no exaggeration when I say I was a complete mess when I finally sat in the dentist’s chair on Monday. They checked out my teeth, which seem to be alright, oddly, in fact the doc said they looked great. Plus, there actually are no maxillary sinuses in the lower jaw, so the source of the pain remains a mystery. Neuralgic something or other. Uh-huh. But I left there carrying a prescription for high-dosage Ibuprofen and an antibiotic, and praise be for Sir Alexander Fleming: after taking my meds like a good little patient for 2 days, I’m actually better, and my brain is waking up.

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So why am I writing about all of this? Because I find it interesting. I couldn’t have put down any of this yesterday – although I’ve reflected on the subject a great deal. But my brain kind of shuts down when I’m in pain, to the point where all I can do is exist and wait for it to stop. I’ve had two babies the ’natural‘ way, the first one without an epidural and the second one with, and I can’t even put into words how different the experiences were – complete helplessness, pain and horror versus feeling in control and actively participating in giving birth. I know many women don’t take any drugs and they can handle the process, too. And while I admire that, I’m self-aware enough to know I simply could not have done it. I don’t know how I would have delivered my son without medical assistance and a vacuum extraction. After 19 hours of constantly increasing pain, I was completely exhausted and unable to do anything but say ow, ow, ow – I didn’t even have enough strength left to scream. I think a few decades back, one of us wouldn’t have made it, probably me. Or they would have given me a Cesarean, which would have been absolutely fine with me after hours and hours of labor pains ;-).

So, pain management – a fascinating topic. I just read a novel about a soldier who is captured and interrogated under torture – grim stuff. He is part of a special ops unit and actually trained to withstand pain. What makes him break in the end (for, as his torturer informs him in the beginning, everybody does eventually, and I believe it) is that they tell him the love of his life is dead, thus taking away the one safe place in his mind, the perspective of reuniting one day. It made sense to me, even though I don’t know how that whole mind over matter thing even works.

My therapist once asked me what pain meant to me, and I think I answered that it was the most powerful force in the world. It dictated my childhood because everything in our lives revolved around my dad’s pain. And it’s a thing I feel I have no control over. Dr K. helped me see that the unusually frequent migraine attacks I was experiencing at the time were actually code for my feeling overwhelmed by other issues in my life. Pain, to my subconscious, seems to be a way of telling me to slow the hell down. It was easily the most enlightening of all our sessions over the 2 1/2 years I was seeing her. And of course it has to be noted that the migraines actually stopped after that session. How’s that for successful treatment? I’ll bet I made it into being a case study for her own supervision ;-). And I’m so grateful she always knew which questions to ask.

So now that I’ve shared all that with the class, I’d like to know about your own perspective on pain. I’m sure you must have something interesting to add…??

Also, I’d like to show off socks I made over the last 2 weeks – the green pair was finished while I was getting all annoyed with Captain America ;-).img_1591

And the first Very Pink Sock for my girl J. is done – I like it. And of course, so does my daughter who told me I needed to make her a pair just like that when I was done with J.’s.img_1529

Wishing you a completely pain-free February, I’m off to catch up with writing I’ll be paid for, too!