geographically temporary

A long time ago, someone I thought was a good friend turned out not to be when she said that friendships are “geographically temporary”. Because we no longer lived in the same town, there wasn’t any point in staying friends. That was in another country, and besides, the wench, while not dead, is long unlamented. But I’ve staunchly argued for years the error of her ways.

Of course friends aren’t geographically temporary, not necessarily. Real friendship transcends barriers. Two of my best friends and I have not lived in the same zip code since 1994. Others have moved away and I’ve moved nearer to them. Some friends very dear to my heart have always been an Internet connection away. Distance makes things difficult, but it doesn’t make feelings nonexistant. I met and fell in love with my husband from across the state. And the three years we spent dating long distance was a heck of a lot harder than I could have imagined, but I never once thought of giving up on how I felt for him. Sometimes you have to make an effort when you’re not seeing each other every day, every week, or every month. You have to adjust, but you don’t have to let go.

It doesn’t always work out, though, I guess. Moving here to Long Island has been a little challenging in a number of ways I didn’t expect (oh dear god the accent) but the one I didn’t see coming at all was the way some friendships have started to fade away. It’s 2014, after all, and it’s easier to stay in touch with people than it’s ever been. You’ve got email and text and Skype and Facebook and Twitter; there’s still no teleportation, but it’s damn close. When I was in my twenties I had to keep in touch with my friends through very expensive long distance phone calls, or through — brace yourself — actual real written and mailed letters. While of course we’re all a little relieved it’s easier and cheaper to stay in touch now, I’d venture to say we’d do it again if we had to, because those friendships are invaluable. So when someone stops keeping in touch with you now, when it’s easy, when it takes so little effort… well, the reverse is clearly true, isn’t it?

I’m no saint, and I’ve probably dropped the ball on staying in touch with someone, myself. Maybe I was thoughtless, or maybe, in complete honesty, I meant to. Maybe I’ve put effort into maintaining friendships that mattered the most to me, and let others fall by the wayside. I probably have. We probably all have. Still, while it might be only human, it still hurts. It’s that age-old feeling you get in your stomach when you realize someone meant more to you than you meant to them. It’s a universal experience we’ve all had, from grade school on up — whether it’s a kid in your class, a boy, a girl, a friend, a date, a colleague or anything in between, it always feels exactly the same way whenever you realize that the object of your affection returns the favor with less enthusiasm than your own, and most likely always has.

I don’t think friendship is geographically temporary. But I’m forced to admit that some friendships don’t last and probably weren’t meant to, whether you stayed put or not. Sometimes geography is an easy out, and if that’s the case, then it’s for the best. Happily, though, the reverse is true, and a good friend stays with you no matter how far you go or how long you’ve been away. So thanks, my non-geographical friends, for hanging in there.

only in my dreams

sandman05Today we’re having a vet come to the house to microchip our two cats. It’s a good thing to do, but not one that gives me as much comfort as it should. I’m terrified of them getting outside in the first place, which is part of why we’re using a housecall vet. Fred joins me in this terror: ever since the move he’s been leery of windows, even. George, on the other hand, is a fledgling escape artist.

Last night I dreamed that both cats had gotten lost. The part where they were missing was actually very short. I found them and was holding them clutched to me (a feat only possible in dreams, as that’s about 30 pounds of cat, and Fred squirms a lot when you pick him up). They were clinging to me tightly, but I didn’t know how to get them to safety. I didn’t have a car, or a phone, or anything. I couldn’t find the person I’d arrived there with. I walked a long, long way to where I thought they were, but they still weren’t there. I decided to walk back as I’d come and just hope for the best — hope I saw someone I knew, someone who could help. About ten steps later, I saw my mother. She was walking toward me and had on a white top with little flowers and a blue hem, a shirt I’d forgotten about until today but one she wore often. I told her what was going on and she said yes, she had a car. In a dream-flash we were there. I put the cats safely in the car and felt a great wash of relief. We were parked outside of the place she liked to get ice cream and, burden resolved, we decided to go inside for something to eat. And that was it.

I’m not a trained psychologist but it doesn’t take one to understand what that was about. Sometimes, I want my mother. My mother was a champion fixer-of-problems, her kids’ problems most of all. When there was a crisis, she didn’t get panicked. She didn’t freak out. Car accident, failed class, computer broken, bad situation as work, whatever. She just helped you fix it, and that was that, and you didn’t have to worry anymore. And I miss that. I miss it. Does anyone ever stop missing that?

Sometimes dreams are weird and stupid and scary. Sometimes they’re silly. Sometimes they’re obvious. Mine tend towards the latter. Not scary, exactly, but an obvious manifestation of my fears. So in the meantime, then, kitties stay home whenever possible, and that means Fred’s personal physician comes to him.

to the person who tried to steal my identity

hacker-cartoonTo the person who tried to steal my identity, or hack my online account, or whatever it was you were trying to do, a few things:

1.) In case you didn’t notice, you failed. You failed because you were stupid, you failed because you did a sloppy job of whatever it was you were trying to do, and you failed, mostly, because I’m smarter than you are. I got notice of your attempt about 8 seconds after you made it, and I’d put a stop to it about 30 seconds after that. You may think your kung fu is awesome, but mine is better.

2.) As a side note, geez, you picked a crappy target. Not just because it was never going to work, but also because, dude, there was hardly any money in that account. This is like the time someone stole my backpack at the Theatre Arts building on campus, only to learn there was a notebook, a pen, and fifty cents inside. They actually ditched it about 50 feet away from where they’d taken it — probably totally disgusted at the slim pickings. I have to imagine you felt the same.

3.) You’re still a scumbag, though. A lazy, sitting in front of their computer and trying to find ways to take other people’s money scumbag. For the record.

4.) You didn’t get a cent of my money, and you weren’t able to compromise any of my accounts. I’ve stepped up encryption, initiated fraud protection on my credit report and there isn’t a thing you or any other run of the mill thief could do to me at this point. But — thanks a lot, loser. Because of you I spent a lot of my quality time on the phone with customer service agents, waiting on hold, taking notes, arguing with various institutions, and being aggravated in general. You didn’t steal any money (not for lack of trying) but you stole my time, which is even more valuable, so you pissed me off pretty good.

5.) Lastly, I have a suggestion. Try not screwing over your fellow man, or if you must, do us all a favor and use your pathetic skills to go after bigger, more reprehensible fish. Instead of trying to steal from your brothers in the trenches, next time go after some morally corrupt corporation. Preferably one of the ones that kept me on hold the longest over the past week. One of those under-taxed, given-personhood-status, total scum of the universe ones that have plundered our economy, spoiled our environment, or tried to get involved in the day-to-day operations of my uterus. Next time, screw over someone who deserves it, not someone who has $77.25 in a savings account and wasn’t born yesterday.

calgon, take me away

turtleI’ve been swimming pretty much every day lately, which is notable just because I’ve never been much of a swimmer. I didn’t grow up with a pool and in fact didn’t learn until I was about 11 years old — I taught myself, at the town pool (back in the days when an eleven year-old could get on her bike and ride a mile or two over to the town pool and go in the pool alone). Even so, I’m utterly and deathly and irrationally afraid of going under water, to this day. (And no,that’s not going to change. It wouldn’t be an irrational fear if I could just pull myself together, would it?)

However, now I have a pool where I live. Dave loves the pool. It’s where he spends the summer, every day he can. And I love it too, when it’s sunny and hot and there aren’t screaming children making sounds like mewling goats. Or grown-up Real Housewives of Longuyland talking at a volume that can reach New Jersey. (But I digress.) It’s nice, though, enjoying the water, reading a book by the side, swimming around.

I’m also swimming laps every day, for exercise. I’m trying to get my legs stronger, especially the left leg which has nerve issues. There’s not much you can do about nerve pain, aside from some drugs that I find scary, but if I can build up the leg muscles around that nerve, my pain should be less. I do half my laps propelling myself as much as possible with just my legs, letting them do the work. And it’s great exercise in general, which goes along with my other big project of late.

Truth be told, though, what I really like to do, when it’s not crowded, is float. Just float. I’ve never been a great swimmer, but I can float on my back for as long as I like, with no effort at all. I don’t know why. People who weigh more, they say, float better — fat is less dense than muscle — but that can’t be it, because I’ve always been able to do this. Skinny, heavy, eleven years old or forty-two, it’s always been the same. And it’s the most peaceful, most wonderful thing in the world, floating on top of the water, eyes turned up to the sky, arms stretched out or even clasped behind my head, the clicking noises of the pool filter loud in my ears and every other noise muffled away to nothing. Maybe everyone has one little skill and this one’s mine — if so, I’ll take it.

(Mind, I’d still like teleportation, too, if it’s available.)

here I go again

funny-scaleOnce upon a time, I decided to lose some weight. I started counting calories, I started exercising. I was tenacious. And it worked. I lost 108 pounds, and it felt terrific. And… I’ve gained it all back. Every single pound, and then some.

What happened? Well, a lot of things. The first answer, and we’ll come back to this: I ate too much. I also stopped exercising, and that, to be fair, wasn’t my fault. After I hurt my back, and then the surgery that followed, the sciatic pain in my leg took away the walking I loved. Outside on Amherst’s bike paths, my mix going on my iPod shuffle, walking sneakers on, workout clothes always with me, I loved to walk. A lot. The treadmill will do in the winter, but walking those paths, or the ones at the museum, that was fulfilling. Sometimes joyous. But it’s not a real possibility now. My leg muscles are tired and weak, and the pain recurs too often and too strongly. So this time I’m focusing on swimming. I’ve never been a great swimmer — I taught myself when I was 11 or so, and I’ve never learned to swim underwater (long story). But I can swim laps, and I can exercise in the pool, and it’s the best thing possible for my back.

But back to the eating too much part. Well, that was all me. Why? I don’t know, why does anyone eat too much? I wanted to, for one. I was home a lot more. I had time on my hands. I like food. It tastes good. I like a big comfy meal that makes me feel warm and fuzzy and full. I like salty things and cheesy things and ice cream. A lot of people do. I like them too much — a lot of people do that too.

I was also happy. I met this guy, as you know, and that worked out pretty well for me. :) And then you’re a couple and you’re going out to eat, and you’re sharing desserts, and you’re happy. I felt loved, and okay, and for the first time in forever, not so insecure. I’m lovable! I’m great the way I am! And there’s some value in just loving who you are and accepting it and so forth. But there’s a line somewhere that I crossed, and now I don’t love who I am. My clothes don’t fit. I don’t fit. I don’t like myself this way. So it’s time to do something about it, again.

For unrelated reasons, I’ve been tested six ways to Sunday by a veritable crew of doctors in the past few months. Enough bloodwork to satisfy a hungry vampire’s thirst. Ultrasounds and sonograms, some of them mighty uncomfortable. A couple of specialists. The upside of all of that is that apparently I’m actually pretty freaking healthy. I get nice numbers on everything, except for an underactive thyroid (and while yes, it’s true, that ain’t helpin’ the number on the scale go down, studies have shown that weight gain due to hypothyroidism is mild — in the 5-20 range, and I got a lot more than that to lose so I’m not hiding behind that). And we’re addressing that with medicine, so here I am, healthy as the proverbial horse, but just overweight. Again.

There were a few false starts this spring — I tried a couple of other diets, but none of them did much for me. And then, after another dismal rendezvous with my friend the scale, I finally conceded that I have to go back to what worked before, and will again, no matter how tedious. Calories, calories, counting calories. I started using MyFitnessPal, and I like it. Since I began last Sunday, I’ve lost 5.2 pounds — as an experienced dieter I know that’s just the initial water-weight jump, but it’s still nice to see that number on the scale going in the right direction.

So, here I go again. Wish me luck. :)

Created by MyFitnessPal – Free Calorie Counter

today’s the fourth of July

Two musical offerings for you this holiday — Aimee Mann and Katy Perry, in no order of preference or merit and with nothing to connect them to each other except for a tenuous holiday reference. Between the two, though, whatever kind of 4th you’re having, one of these is bound to suit your mood. (Just be careful of the sparks from the KP one. Apparently she can shoot them right out of her body.)

three little birds

Until the age of 32, I wasn’t an anxious person at all. I didn’t worry about anything other than the things anyone worries about — will I fall in love, will I be able to pay my credit card bill, will work suck tomorrow. Normal every day things. Then my mother died suddenly, and I was left with a legacy of anxiety — will something happen to me, too, something I don’t see coming. It’s turned me into a minor hypochondriac, unfortunately. I’m always worried. I’m frequently scared. Sometimes — a lot of the time — over nothing. Unfortunately, not always. Once my gall bladder nearly burst. They fixed that. And then my back pretty much broke. They sort of fixed that.

I had a spinal fusion of the L4-L5 vertebrae in the fall of 2012, after injuring my back in October 2011. In that preceding year I’d tried everything — PT, drugs, a chiropractor, cortisone — and none of it did any good. An MRI showed plain as day that surgery was the only other option. The day the neurosurgeon told me about the surgery, describing the hardware they’d install in my spine, I went out in the car and cried, totally terrified. But we went ahead, and a few months and some insurance hassles later, it was time.

The morning of my surgery, I was terrified. No one likes general anesthesia but each time I’ve had it I’m convinced I won’t wake up again. This time, I tried hard to stay calm that morning, even as I feared the worst. And as we got ready to go to the hospital, I thought of Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds”. The song ran through my head on the ride there, and as I was admitted and waited to be taken in. Over and over I heard it, and it must have helped because when they took my blood pressure it was surprisingly normal, given my agitated state, and I stayed calm through it all. As they wheeled me to pre-op, and as they put me on the table, I heard those lines –

Rise up this morning
Smile with the rising sun
Three little birds
Each by my doorstep
Singing sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true
Saying, “This is my message to you”
Singing “Don’t worry ’bout a thing
Cause every little thing gonna be all right.”
Singing “Don’t worry ’bout a thing
Cause every little thing gonna be all right.”

A few hours later I woke up and it was over.  The surgery was harder than I’d imagined it would be, and, in the long run, while not quite as entirely successful as I wanted it to be, enough so that I got my life back. My surgeon’s nurse, a kind and tireless person who never turned my calls away no matter how often I asked her the same questions over and over, told me once, “The goal of this surgery is not to fix your back. Nothing can fix it. The goal is to make it better, and to make you feel better.” And it did, and I do. I just don’t feel *completely* better, and that’s just the way it has to be. Sometimes I’m angry about that.

But that’s not what this post is about.

Since the day Dave asked me to marry him, and before, even, he’s always been there for me, taking care of me, and telling me not to worry. When he does that, I don’t stop worrying, of course — it’s not that simple — but he says it all the same, and each time something new scares me or makes me anxious, hearing him tell me it’s going to be okay helps a little bit more.

so, today I got this:

20140620-165724-61044127.jpg

on my shoulder, to always have that reminder with me, to remember the times Dave’s told me it’ll be okay and that it always is. Whatever happens, he says, we’ll work it out, and we always do. Maybe a time will come that I’ll remember that right away before the worry starts. But until then, and even after then, this will always be with me