Birthday

Today’s my birthday – yay! I get to eat as much cake as I can! And also reflect on what’s happened in a year …

I’m in such a different place  mentally; last year I was still recovering from something that happened in January and still struggling with drinking. I took my last drink in July, so I know I was craving it badly on my birthday – how else was I supposed to celebrate than to let loose? I’m happy to say I don’t feel that way this year. I can let loose any time, I just need to give myself permission to do so. I don’t need alcohol to relax, I can do that on my own in a number of ways, including fiber art stuff (knitting, spinning, even my nemesis, crochet).

I was also still playing roller derby. I was on two travel teams and the captain on one. The pressure I put on myself to be a good captain was really bringing me down last year. I had a hard time focusing and being happy about the things I was doing well and only focused on the things I was doing badly, and that applies to my derby skills as well. I think I hit my peak skill level at the end of 2014 and 2015 was a slow descent into still okay but not as physically strong as I was in November & December of 2014. I stopped getting MVP Jammer awards (I have 9 or 10 from my 4 year derby career) and also stopped playing in as many jams, partly because my endurance was down after January and partly because my anxiety was shooting through the roof. I decided to quit the team I wasn’t captaining in May and take a step back after the season was over in June. What I didn’t realize is that I’d be done (for a while or for good, I haven’t decided yet).

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All 100 of my 100 Day Project pictures

Last year I was also in the middle of my 100 day project. I designed and released two new patterns: Feathermoss and The Double Rainbow Scarf. I finished two hats, a sweater, two scarfs, three shawls, and did a lot of spinning. Luckily the project overlapped a bit with Tour de Fleece, so I got two birds with one stone. I also made felt and dyed it with false indigo; it’s the bright green felt I beaded & embroidered as the Moss Garden and this shmancy upcycled Sucrets box. And I felted one of my husband’s store bought wool sweaters (it no longer fit him) and embroidered on that with handspun naturally dyed singles (also what I used in the Moss Garden & the box).

This year, I was on the lookout for the start of another 100 day challenge but it seems that there are a number of them; I might as well start a new one on my own any time. Rather than being so formal about it, I’ve just been trying to do something every day either with knitting, reviving my etsy shop, writing this blog, or keeping up with social media. I feel really good about reviving the etsy shop even though I haven’t had any recent sales. I’m positive I’ve paid etsy more than I’ve made off the shop, but my traffic and favorites are up thanks to working on my SEO so I still have some hope.

I also feel good about designing – I will eventually move away from cowls to something else – and I’m looking into ways to expand my reach and become a little more professional about it. I found another designer group on Ravelry, one that actually has calls for submission. I’m working up the courage to respond to one of these and see where I can take this design thing.

My family is doing well; my oldest will be graduating from high school in June and has decided where he’s going to college next year. My middle son has his learner’s permit & is doing really well with driving. He’s also running track this spring and breaking his previous PRs. And he thinks he just aced the AP Psychology exam. My youngest son has adjusted really well to middle school and I’ve been squeezing in all the hugs and kisses on the cheek that I can before it gets too weird/embarrassing for him. My husband is stressed in his job and travels every week and I wish he had time to look for a new one that’s local, but overall I suppose he’s doing okay – our marriage is more solid than it’s ever been.

Lastly, pet-wise things are a lot different than they were last year. We had to euthanize our smallest dog, a toy fox terrier mix, last June. She badly ruptured a few disks in her back, lost control of her hind legs, and was in a lot of pain. Poor chick – she was a good dog, much more like a cat than our other two dogs. In November I started talking up cats to my husband (and myself – I wasn’t sure if I was ready for another pet) and in December we found the perfect cat for us thanks to some friends who foster cats for a rescue organization. Jeffrey Lebowski (aka The Dude) was just under a year old, is very calm/chilled out, and has fit in with our family so well – I post a lot of pictures of him to Instagram.

All in all, I’m happy with where I am and what I’m doing! If you made it this far into my post, congratulations – I’d share my birthday cake with you if you were here, but you’re not, so go find some cake and have a happy Tuesday!

The Blahs

Today is a blah kind of day. I woke up before my alarm but then after the kids left for school, I climbed back in bed and fell sort of asleep for an hour – a bad habit I started this winter on days when I just couldn’t face the day. I’ve had major depression at various points in my life, but last year was diagnosed with bipolar II, which looking back on everything, fits me better than major depression. But until last month I was in denial, thinking/hoping the doctors had gotten it wrong, not wanting to be bipolar anything because of the stigma around bipolar I, which is so much different from II. One of my best friends in high school had a really rough time when her mother tried to kill herself (again) – she was finally diagnosed with manic depression/bipolar I. And the things I do are a lot less extreme than similar things she had done, but still similar. I just didn’t want to be that. Accepting the diagnosis has helped me recognize the patterns of my moods and handle them better – it’s been easier for me to deal with depression and hypomania (which I definitely cycled into this spring) when you recognize the symptoms and can batten down the hatches. I also know to carefully evaluate my thoughts to see whether or not what my inner voice is saying is true; in depression, I think I’m a terrible worthless person undeserving of anything. And in hypomania, I start projects I’m not capable of finishing or get really irritated with everyone and everything for no discernible reason.

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I usually have a knitting project going so I’ve got a creative outlet & something tangible to work on other than my domestic engineering/housework/stay-at-home-Mom duties. Starting this blog and breathing life back into The Yarn Office were are also supposed to be projects that give me a creative outlet, accomplishing something, and moving forward. My therapist would say that I’m not giving myself credit for my accomplishments and that I need to remember that I’m raising/have raised 3 really good boys, keeping them fed & the house clean, and that my marriage is good, et cetera. I’m working on changing that mindset that I fall into when things aren’t going as well as I want them too.

Today I’m in between projects and although I treated myself to Barbara G. Walker’s first 3 treasuries of knitting patterns, I’ve been more likely to check Facebook, blog stats, etsy shop stats, Twitter, Instagram, etc. and cycle through them just in case I missed something. I need to come up with a new project though – my knitting group meets tomorrow. Maybe design an ouroboros scarf? Ravelry only has one in crochet. That’s what I’ve come up with so far in rifling through my Pinterest boards. Or I may just continue my search for a better WP theme and (maybe) pay the $ so I can customize one. Or maybe I’ll get lost in tumblr.

Blah. Time for more chai.

Taking Stock

What follows isn’t entirely proofed. If I wait to proof & edit it, it’s going to be 2012 and I’ll be writing about a hangover, which will be much worse than this, I think.

Last January when I started this blog, I was fighting through another bout with depression. I honestly don’t know that I’ve beaten it. I have good days (like today, where I have a plan & a purpose that I believe in) and bad days (when I get up but end up going back to bed or when I get up & stay up & can’t sleep the following night so that one day includes two sunrises & sunsets) and in between days (of course). Everyone has their ups & downs – I know that – I just don’t want my downs to affect my daily life, such as it is, quite so much.

Really, more than anything, I’ve been looking for a way forward, wondering what I’m going to be when I grow up, and looking for a way to be proud of my past & myself without having to agonize over things all the time. It’s helped to blog, email, and talk about it; I’m really thankful for everyone who’s reached out to me. I’m particularly amazed at how many people have told me their own story and how much talking about it can help us both.

The confrontation in November really threw me off balance. I’m still trying not to feel guilty about how strong my reaction was. I could have been more graceful about it, I wish I had slept on a few posts before making them public, and I sometimes wish I had confronted him with a warning of public exposure instead of just putting it all out there). But what’s done is done and I finally feel a taste of redemption, a way to be good again. (Khaled Hosseini pulled me into The Kite Runner with that idea and I haven’t stopped thinking about things in those terms since reading that first, very short chapter.)

I did a lot of new things in 2011. I’ll be 40 in 2012 and am trying to be nonchalant about it while hurrying to get myself to where I wanted to be in my 30s.

Aside from the blog, I went out of my usual comfort zone and took a class in the spring over 3 weekends at the Art League of Alexandria with Steph & Alana. I drove on the beltway and didn’t die. I met new people and, while I probably made a complete fool out of myself, people liked me, I had fun, I learned a lot, and I strengthened friendships with two strong, funny, intelligent women. I also discovered that beer is quite good if you know what to look for (hops=blech and Guiness is a good go-to in my case).

I started playing roller derby thanks to Misty/electricsoup/Loudoun Dirty. I’d never even considered derby and started mainly because I loved skating in elementary school and wanted to start again. Skating is even more fun when you skate in a circle, work as part of a team, and get to hit people who’re expecting/prepared to be hit. I haven’t felt this good physically for a long time. I’ve also met a lot of people, made new friends, found new heroes. I also learned, again, that not everyone is going to like me and that I’m not going to like everyone – that I don’t have to like everyone and vice versa. It doesn’t mean that something’s wrong with me or the other person and it also doesn’t mean that we are arch enemies, although sometimes I think maybe I should have those too (yup, still working that one through).

I briefly had a real job and was a real adult, until I realized that after 7 years of setting my own schedule, a 9-5 job in a windowless office is more than I can handle. After quitting, I vowed that this time, I would start something on my own, something that might eventually make money, not just involve me being parked at a keyboard, and that would allow me to see outside (not that I’m claustrophobic, the windowless office was more demoralizing & dehumanizing). So I started The Yarn Office, which has been hanging over me like a chore instead of my future – I need to put more time & thought into it and really get it going in 2012.

I also volunteered to be the webmistress/admin for NOVA Roller Derby and took it from a cookie-cutter site to more customized HTML (Dreamweaver) to slightly-customized-yet-cookie-cutter WordPress. I took entirely too long to figure out WordPress (& the template files) and was reassured when I finally understood at least the basics. I finally grokked more of PhotoShop & Illustrator this year too and installed OpenOffice on my MacBook so I can stop complaining about how much MS Word sucks.

Then there’s my gig as mother & mate to that guy on the other side of the bed. I could blab endlessly about marriage, motherhood, and the boys, but I don’t want to join the legions of mommy-bloggers. My kids are happy, doing well in school, laugh often, help each other, and are good, responsible people.

While Mr. Q and I have our ups and downs, we’re doing just fine and I don’t feel the need to write about it or get/give advice here,  though he is still exploring permanent employment while consulting: anyone looking for a hard working, highly intelligent, pretty technical VP, look no further.

So 2012: bring it. Whether I’m ready or not, things keep happening to me and I keep waking up every day, breathing and all that – I might as well live, really live, procrastinate and dwell less, laugh and sweat and jump for joy more. And take more pictures! And throw more balls for the dogs! And kiss the boys while they still let me, even if it’s just on the cheek these days! And eat more Smarties because I can never have enough Smarties.

Next?

This post might throw you for a loop; read my posts from winter 2011 if it does. 
One of my uncles, the one who will never change, the one born with fetal alcohol syndrome (which wasn’t exactly recognized in 1965 – look at me, making excuses!), the one the same age as my oldest cousin on that side, the pedophile, the incestuous piece of shit, called me a month or two ago. I recognized the area code – New Hampshire’s 603 – and picked up the phone. My mother lives in that area code and while it wasn’t her phone number, I thought it might be my stepfather’s cell phone.
Imagine my surprise when it was Joel, calling from work for my address, he’d found my Dad’s baby book, and to catch up after Hurricane Irene had blasted through Vermont. I am a reasonably good actress in such situations; I can make it seem like everything is okay or (more likely, based on what Mr. Q tells me) that I am pissed, but I will keep talking about normal things, things that don’t matter. It’s the old familial urge to maintain that everything is fine, normal – nothing is wrong – gained from two parents who experts in covering up the sometimes-bad people their parents were.
In such situations, I will also go along with pretty much whatever you’d like to say and I will tell you that I will do what you’d like me to (in this case, email my address even though you probably still have it from when I was still talking to you or you could probably get it from, say, someone else in the family).
I will be cordial.
We will have a pleasant conversation. We will talk about how Hurricane Irene blew through and tore up the town we grew up in, but the trailer that your Dad, my grandfather, fought to place in the middle of a field on the banks of the normally calm Ottauquechee (no joke- it’s basically maybe 200 yards from the river) made it through with minor flooding while the trailer park, down in a narrower part of the valley maybe a mile a way as the river flows, had several homes swept away and many more flooded. Oh, family – I remember you, and miss you, when I was young and we were all together and everything was okay. Except it wasn’t, but I didn’t know that outright until I was older.
You see how the history comes flooding back? My longing to belong, to trust and have family again?
I never emailed him my address. I mulled the phone call over for a few days and then decided that a baby book wasn’t worth renewing contact, just like getting a table that my Dad left me isn’t worth being back in contact with my Stepmother.
Even if this package hadn’t shown up with more evidence that for my Dad’s family (Ben and Betty and Johnnie and Suzy, and later Scottie and Joel) there was a definite before and after (before Betty became an alcoholic, before one Ben or Betty was a pedophile – no evidence, but I strongly suspect one of them must have been up to something to have half of their children do the same – [edited 11/17/11 to cross this out after reassurances that this was not the case, rather more that they were people of their time, with Ben providing for the family financially while Betty took care of the house & kids as well as an alcoholic can] before they moved off the farm, before they moved to VT, so many before & afters to chose from), I have already been thinking about the whys of what happened to me and the price I was ready to pay to keep family in my life.
I’ve been deliberately avoiding news – lately it all seems the same or at least predictable, cyclical. I heard rumblings about the sexual abuse scandal at Penn State, but not the specifics. Then I made the mistake of watching CNN for a little while the other night and my faith in humanity crumbled even more. My heart is broken for the victims – my heart is broken for every one of my friends who read this blog and told me that they had also been molested as children.
I am angry that more wasn’t done to punish Sandusky earlier or help his victims, that more wasn’t done to help my friends or me. I am angry that as a young adult and now, an adult, that I haven’t do more to defend myself or to prevent more children from dealing with things that I’ve dealt with, things that will stay with me my entire life. Lamely, this – writing and posting in a semi-public place – is my vengeance.
So first I get this phone call. I talk to him like everything is fine. I tell him I’ll email my address to him, but I never do it. Then yesterday a package showed up, from him of course. And in it is my Dad’s baby book, dutifully filled out by Betty from 1944-1957 for her firstborn (of course I looked through the whole thing immediately). All of my issues – everything that fucks me up – come rushing back. Everything I’ve tied up, resolved, and set aside – how many times now? – have come undone and are fresh again. I’m struggling to tie the knots back up and set them aside again.
And now today, I have an email from Joel asking me to at least acknowledge that I got the package and that I’m okay. I am not okay, I am undone again. Last fall my therapist recommended that I cut him out of my life again, what I did in high school, what I did by going to college as far away as possible. When my Dad got sick, him back in, thinking that 20 years might have changed things.
Why couldn’t he send the baby book to my brother? Why couldn’t he drop it by my mother’s house? This is deliberate and I don’t know why. I don’t know what his goal is here. Renewed contact? More of what happened in 08? Access to my children?
I don’t know what to do. Part of me wants to drive 10 hours and have it out – a final confrontation. Part of me wants to avoid the situation completely and drink, like my grandmother did, lose myself. I could use my default strategy for everything – carry on like nothing is going on, ignore the situation until it goes away. I should respond to the email and explain how this is fucking with me. I should respond to the email and tell him to leave me alone, that I don’t want any more baby books, any more family stuff, that I’m done because nothing in the world is worth this. Nothing physical in the world is worth my sense of well-being, which has now gone to shit anyway.
Yes, I’m a little crazy and for some understandable reasons.
Yes, you’re probably right – I do have a little too much time on my hands, but remember: I may not have an office job, but I should be moving The Yarn Office forward or at least vacuuming up the dog hair dust bunnies, which are getting as big as the dogs.
Yes, yes – you, too – you’re right that I probably shouldn’t be airing my dirty laundry.
And you too – I am a derby girl these days and we’re supposed to be tough as nails. I can take a physical hit, bruises – whatever. But this?

There are so many reasons for me not to post this, probably the most disjointed of all my posts, (a big huge part of me is embarrassed & ashamed to have this hanging out there) but what I need is a lifeline, plan. I’ve lost the path again and I need some help finding it again.

Edited to Add:

The email I got earlier today, along with yesterday’s package, set me off. Here’s the email and my response, sent a few minutes ago:

Hi there…. Did you get John’s  Baby Book? Sorry it took me so long to get it off to you…it rode around in my truck for a good 2-3 weeks.
I hope this finds you well I also hope you drop me a line at least to let me know you got the book and that you are OK….
Talk later….
JTK

And my response, fat lot of good it will do:

Oh, I got it and it ripped me apart, like your phone call did.

Am I okay? I’m still breathing – that counts for something. I’ve been writing a lot too, since last winter, actually. Your secret is out, at least to people who are friends with me on Facebook, follow me on twitter, or follow my blog, some of whom are family & classmates that live in VT or NH.

I never sent you my address because my sanity is worth more than my Dad’s baby book, it’s worth more than having extended family again. You might as well be dead. You and Julie are in the same category here – she has the table that Dad left me, but I’d rather slit my wrists than talk to her to get it back.

I’m sorry your life has been what it’s been and believe me, I sympathize. We all have choices – for example, I was molested by you and Scott, but I’m not a pedophile. Your choice to be a pedophile and engage in incest is not my fault or my responsibility, but because I have been a coward in confronting you about what you did to me, because my parents were cowards before me, I have no legal recourse against you. The only way I can make this right, warn other people about you, is via semi-public opinion, thanks to the almighty Internet.

You should feel as shitty as I do – that you don’t is amazing to me and tells me that you are basically a sociopath, along with all the other pedophiles. I hope you’re not doing anything to Susan’s granddaughter, but since I know that you did something to Kelly also, I don’t have high hopes. I hope your next victim and her family have more courage than I and my family had.

Don’t write, don’t call, but know that there are people in your area that know about you,

M

#TheGoldenStallion

It’s surprising how little there is to watch on TV on a Friday night. We stopped subscribing to the premium movie channels in favor of Netflix streaming through the Wii, which lately has not been working well (or really, at all). So last night, I was back to my old entertaining favorites: channels without commercials (PBS, TCM, etc) and what I think of as junk food TV (E!, MTV, VH1, etc.). I couldn’t find anything I could switch between to avoid commercials (the Geico guy really pisses me off), so I ended up watching The Golden Stallion on TCM.

The Golden Stallion was released in November 1949, Roy Rogers’ 3rd and final movie of the year. Three movies in a year seems like a lot, but in 1948 he was in 8 movies, 5 in 1950. So what happened in ’48? He was either concentrating on his radio show (1944-1955) or his marriage to Dale Evans (12/31/47), his co-star. In November 1949, my Dad was 5 years old, the first grandson of my great-grandfather. My grandparents lived in a house very close to the family dairy farm in Rehoboth, MA, with my great-grandparents living in the Big House on the farm. Dad told me his grandfather welcomed his company any time – at home, in his office, in the barn. He gave Dad a pony at some point and spoiled him as any grandparent would. My great grandmother subjected Dad to the finer things in life, like getting cleaned up for church and piano lessons, which he hated and was terrible at.

I don’t recall Dad ever talking about Roy Rogers – he did say that when he enlisted in the Marines after high school in 1962, eventually ending up in Vietnam (July 1965-July 1966), that he had John Wayne in mind – I am positive, though, that Roy Rogers was among his heroes as well:

Exhibit A:

Dad.misc01

Exhibit B:

Donnie, Johnnie, Duke Aug 1951

(Look closer; you’ll see the horse. Also, Dad is sitting in front. Also #2: click the pictures to see them on flickr.)

I imagine also that Great Grandpa Kinne – or my grandparents – probably took Dad to the movies and that he probably saw The Golden Stallion. So last night, I watched the whole thing with a glass of wine and live-tweeted it, included below. Ethan has been my late-night buddy; he was on the computer behind the couch watching something online or so I thought. When I skipped back to catch a line to tweet a quote, he said “Hey! Didn’t we already watch that twice?” letting me know that he was watching it with me. My kids surprise me by being the people I need them to be when I least expect it and need it the most.

(Note that I really just want them to be the people they need to be, as long as they don’t hurt anyone physically/emotionally and love life, I’m good. Because of my relationship with my parents, I walk a delicate line between being interested and friendly, but not a friend – I neither want to ignore them or use them intentionally for emotional support.)

Going my own way, again

First there was roller derby and then came the new job: two of the biggest changes in my life since 2009, the year I went back into therapy & back on meds for depression. Well, one of those new things turned out to be not quite what I hoped for and instead of sucking it up (which I did do briefly, for the record), I decided – was able – have the luxury – to be honest with myself, my family, and my employer: I quit.

It was me, not the job.

It was the commute, not the job.

I haven’t worked since June of 2004, when I went on maternity leave with Henry. That’s 7 years that I have been doing the stay at home mom (SAHM) thing. I was only in the workforce for 9 years (9 years!), with 5 of those as a working mom. For me to go back to work was a sizable transition – a huge transition – one that I just can’t make right now, a transition I’m not willing to make right now. I thought I was, but I need to get my feet wet and get used to the water before I jump from the high dive into the deep-end of traditional employment. 

Traditional employment. You know, a 9-5 (or 8-4 or 10-6) job. You show up, do something there, and they pay you. What’s not to like?

I cannot stand the sensation of being a sheep/cow/stock animal of some sort as I fight traffic (or in Chicago, traffic then people for a good seat on the train) with all the other sheeple doing their duty by going to work. I am not sheeple. I don’t like to be stuck in traffic, cut off, beeped at. My reaction is to floor it when given the chance, like Thursday June 2, when traffic broke up on the Toll Road/Greenway and I went 90, weaving in and out of 3 lanes of lighter traffic to maintain my speed. I’m not sure what the solution is to congestion woes (public transport? alternate fuel/transport? telecommuting? an unrealistic utopian society based on discrete, self-sustaining communities?) but sitting in it makes me think about it (see previous parenthetical comment), which ultimately leads to me thinking about Humanity in general (it’s a blog: I’ll make humanity Humanity if I want to). We’re killing ourselves and the planet. [insert tree-hugger, crunchy granola rant here.]

Being stuck in traffic is like having insomnia: I tried podcasts, I tried playlists, I tried silence, I even knit almost 2 rows one night when the road I was on was shut down because a pedestrian was hit (and is reportedly doing okay) and traffic was more stop than go. It’s too much time to think, too much time when I’m not learning anything or doing anything physical (even mundane housework solves this problem for me).

Too much time on my hands. Wasted time. Time I can spend doing something entertaining, like theorizing the fate of my race. At least I was driving a hybrid car, which is like a smoker using the patch/gum/lozenge to quit.

I know a lot of people who would not be able to do what I did, who would love to do what I did. 1995-me couldn’t do it; I passed up grad school because I thought the people at my job needed me. But 1990-me did it when she got sick (really: I was throwing up, but definitely milked it) and couldn’t finish her last 2 weeks of waitressing shifts at Howard Johnnson’s before going to college. 1999-me couldn’t just quit either; but 1999-me wanted to work because she was an overwhelmed [too-]young mother looking for an escape. Even 2001-me had given up on her own career in favor of her husband’s (money won).

Wait – am I talking about myself in the third person? ::hangs head in shame::

I’m lucky for it to not be just about money, though having health insurance again would have helped all of us feel a little more secure. And I’ve just put a whole load of stress back on Mr. Q, who did an amazing job as Mr. Mom (no one’s woobie got sucked into the vacuum), who has been diligently applying for all the exec level IT jobs he can find and then some.

I don’t know ultimately where or how this will end, but I know I won’t be stuck in traffic or sitting at a desk when we figure it out, or if I am at a desk, it’ll be my Yarn Office desk.

I took over our formal living room and most of the dining room last year (or the year before?). All of my knitting books & girly doo-dads are in one spot, away from the boy-stuff that overtook the library/office. I have 4 windows in the living room, plus a bay of 3 in the dining room looking out over the backyard. My spinning wheel is here, along with an armoire with yarn & fiber. In trying to distinguish it from the other office/library, Ethan called it “your Yarn Office, Mom,” and so it is. And they all lived happily ever after. <— I still have hope.

Roller Girl?

Trying to come up with a roller derby name is hard. I’m not even sure sometimes if I’m really a derby girl/chick: am I fierce enough? Ten years ago: yes. Twenty years ago: definitely yes. So I’m going back to some of the music I listened to (and have continued to listen to all this time) for some inspiration. PJ Harvey’s first two albums really helped me work through some of my rage, if only while into walking angrily across the Cut (campus, basically, for non-CMU people) or glowering on the city bus to my first job at HealthAmerica.

Hardly Wait

Go get the albums and listen to them. Go.