Archives for category: autumn

I woke with a wicked headache this morning. I’m in an absolutely shit mood, too. I woke irritable and cross with the world – on Thanksgiving. For fucks sake. What a… headache. I snarled a warning at my partner, and took my coffee into my studio and closed the door on the world. I put on a video of rain – maybe the sound will sooth me somehow? Fuck this headache. Fuck having a headache on a holiday.

…Omg… so much cooking to do… fuck.

I went to bed looking forward to today, and yeah even looking forward to the cooking. Right now? Right now I am not “looking forward” at all. I’m sitting here in my moment, with this fucking headache.

The sounds of rain are usually so soothing… this morning this video just isn’t getting me there. Headache is that bad. What I find myself listening to is the sound of my computer’s fans spinning up to deal with the high resolution video. I pause it and leave the picture up on the screen. I have no fucks to give. I leave my padded noise-canceling headphones on. They don’t do that much to cancel the very nearby sound of the computer fans, or my fingers on the keys of my mechanical keyboard, but they provide a muffled perspective on everything else. Quieter. My tinnitus is very loud.

I try listening to music. All the songs I usually enjoy are just annoying me right now. So I turn that off, too. I alternate sips of coffee with sips of water. I make a specific point of not looking at the news at all; there’s no chance that will be actually helpful, and some chance it could make things worse (by way of anxiety).

It is Thanksgiving. I’ve got a lot to be grateful for in spite of this headache. I focus on that, bringing my thoughts back to things I am grateful for each time they wander back to this fucking headache. (It can’t last forever…so I’ll just keep at it.) What am I grateful for, sitting here right now, headache and all? I think it over and drink my coffee, which is quite good in spite of my crappy mood.

…I’m grateful for this cup of excellent coffee made from good quality Ethiopian coffee beans. I don’t really know how long coffee will continue to exist, so I enjoy it while it is available and make a point of buying from roasters that are at least trying to source their beans sustainably and also paying the farmers a fair price.

I’m grateful to have a secure roof over my head, a home to call my own, and amenities like indoor plumbing, potable drinking water, and heat. I know there are families that don’t, not only in far away places but also right here in my country, my state, my county, and my community. (Pretty appalling, frankly – use your vote wisely.)

I’m grateful to be so fortunate as to have the luxury of beefing about a fucking headache on Thanksgiving; I know I can head to the kitchen any time and start preparing an ample holiday meal of wholesome good quality ingredients. I have numerous excellent cookbooks for inspiration, and highspeed internet to catch the latest cooking videos from favorite content creators. I am fortunate indeed. Even with the headache.

I’m grateful to have electricity. Like… seriously grateful. I sip my coffee for a minute thinking about how different life would have to be without electricity… and how many of our luxuries (that we mostly take for granted) are entirely dependent on having electricity in the first place.

My sleep has been filled with nightmares for a couple weeks now. I’m not sure why. I’m grateful af though that I am at least getting enough sleep (and rest) to start each day fresh in spite of the content of my dreams. That’s not a small thing. Getting enough actual rest means that I can generally expect that my dreams will not linger in my consciousness for long, once I wake. That’s actually a pretty big deal.

I’m grateful to have so many friends. Sure, most of them are quite distant, geographically, and we often go years without seeing each other. Doesn’t stop us from caring and connecting in between times. I could be a better friend, though… I pause this writing and send some emails to friends, wishing them a festive holiday meal. I miss them – particularly on Thanksgiving. When we were younger and living closer together, we’d often get together for a holiday meal. I do miss that. I’m grateful to have enjoyed it whenever we could. Good memories.

I’m grateful to have a partner who – after waking up irritable himself over not being able to sleep – can drop everything to be comforting and to try to be helpful, when I alert him of my vicious headache and shitty mood, in spite of where he’s at himself. Not one word of doubt that we’ll have a pleasant holiday, either; he knows that we’ll both get our shit together as the morning wears on, and go ahead and do the needful. Good partnership. We’re both entirely made of human, and god damn do we love each other. (I feel tears start falling, streaming down my face… I don’t know why, and I just let them fall. We’re mortal creatures, and sometimes that is reason enough for tears.)

I’m grateful even for the tears; I can feel. That’s kind of a big deal, too.

Rough morning. Still Thanksgiving and I’ve got a lot to be thankful for – this headache does not change that truth. I put on a playlist of love songs and begin again.

One thing I like about new beginnings, from the simplicity of waking up to a new day to the intensity of “starting over in life” entirely, is that if I embrace the potential and “hold the door open” for change allowing my experience to be different – it definitely will be. Generally. Barring obvious limitations to that kind of outcome (like being trapped within the confines of an unhealthy dynamic – in those situations, change can and does still occur, but the timing often does not feel “timely”).

I think what I mean to say is – I’ve got to be open to allowing a bad experience to change, evolve, or end, before it easily can. If the circumstances are shared, then it isn’t always up to me alone to see wrongs put right, or to find my way to a more enjoyable experience. It’s more complicated, for sure. It is far more likely that I’ll become mired in some terrible mess or abysmal case of the blues if I am not actually willing to move on from it, or unwilling to allow change to occur. As weird as it is – it’s very human to cling to misery and suffering, even to create and nurture it. I definitely recommend not doing that.

It is the evening before Thanksgiving. For me, it is the kick-off of the winter holiday season. A season of giving and of gratitude, of sharing and of community, of feasting and celebrating. What am I celebrating? Everything I am grateful for. Part harvest festival, part holiday party, and as much of it spent in the kitchen as at the table – it’s one of my favorite American traditions. No pilgrims at my holiday table, and also no genocide; that’s not the foundation of this holiday in my home. There’s no reason to keep telling old lies about first Thanksgivings, or try to use a fond holiday meal to whitewash brutal colonial history. It’s not about that. It’s about setting a good table, preparing a good meal, and sharing thankfully.

…It’s pretty easy to avoid strife when it’s just my Traveling Partner and I sitting down to our holiday meal, and I’m thankful for that, too.

So the menu is decided, and the recipes are selected. The “who does what” has been determined. Now it’s a long weekend and a day in the kitchen, then a day to get the Giftmas tree up and decorated, and a day for mixing up the plum pudding and steaming it (to be set aside to age until Giftmas). This particular weekend almost always feels like an actual vacation for me… well… I say that, but memory is a funny thing; I don’t much remember the confrontations or arguments of past family holidays at all. All that remains is the recollection of excellent meals, holiday lights, and the delights of “the season”.

Here’s wishing you a lovely holiday, and much to be grateful for. I hope every recipe is wonderful, and all your timing is quite right getting the meal to the table this year. ❤

It’s hard to read the news. Even the business pages are filled with articles that highlight how monstrous human beings can be. Our mythical monsters are no real competition for the actual human beings who likely inspired them, and continue to plague our daily lives at work, at home, and out and about. Some of us marry monsters. Some of us go to work for monsters. Some of us elect monsters. Some of us create monsters – or even become monsters. Pretty ugly. Take a good look in your mirror. Are you a monster?

Monster or not – do better. Seriously. We’re headed into the winter holidays one more time. Who knows how long humanity really has to fulfill it’s potential? Do better. Look at who you were yesterday. Consider the way you interact with colleagues, friends, loved ones – do better than that. Even one improved interaction today compared to yesterday is that much better. Each effort makes the world just a bit better. Each success results in you becoming a somewhat less shitty human being than you were. That seems worthwhile, doesn’t it?

Maybe you’re not a monster? Maybe you’re just a garden-variety troll, asshole, jackass, jerkwad, tyrant, bully, bitch, or douche-nozzle? Maybe you’re a well-intentioned fuckwit prone to saying or doing just the wrong thing at the wrong time? Do better. Give a shit. Make the attempt to improve. Be a bit kinder. Be more considerate. Really listen to people when they talk to you. Apologize sincerely and make amends when you fuck up or when you hurt someone. Set clear boundaries. Don’t make people guess what you need. You’ll still “get it wrong” – maybe a lot – but each time you do better, the world is a better place for it. That seems worthwhile, doesn’t it?

Maybe you’re reading this and thinking to yourself “well, none of this applies to me at all, really, I’m fine…”? You’re probably wrong. Do better. Do something better today than you did yesterday. Care – because it matters. We all have room to improve.

Who do you most want to be? What do you want to be remembered for?

I’m not going on and on about this because I’m a perfect human being looking outward on a world of chaos, trauma, and nastiness. I’m on and on about this because I am committing myself to doing better today than I did yesterday. Every day. I don’t always get it right. Sometimes – even in the context of a loving partnership – I sometimes feel like I’m alone in the attempt. (That’s an illusion; most of the time, most of us are at least thinking that we’re “doing our best”, even when we are able to acknowledge that “our best” in that moment is a very dim light in a very dark place.) What we’re able to do isn’t always “enough”. It’s part of the human struggle, isn’t it? I still see caring about the attempt and the outcome as something important. I still have shitty days. There are still times when I am callous or clueless, inconsiderate or terse, impatient or frustrated – I don’t even expect that to change. I just want to do my best, and have part of that be to succeed in doing just a bit better today than I did yesterday. Every day. It’s not easy. There are verbs involved. I fail a lot. In failure there is growth. When I falter, I begin again. It’s a process.

…We could choose to build a better world. Some of the choices are very difficult. Seems like one of the easier choices is simply to seek opportunities every day to do just a bit better than we did yesterday. Every day.

Each day I have a chance to begin again.

I am sipping my coffee – an eggnog latte, my fond seasonal weakness coffee-wise each autumn as the Yule season begins. Thanksgiving… holiday parties… Hannukah… the Solstice… Giftmas (more commonly called “Christmas”)… Festivus… Boxing Day… Kwanzaa… it’s a season rich in celebrations and merry-making. Oddly, it wasn’t what I was thinking about over the weekend, in spite of Thanksgiving being just days away…

I sit in the stillness of a local co-work space, alone with my coffee. It’s quiet. The usual background music is not playing, and the stillness feels complete, interrupted by occasional trucks passing on the street outside. I came into “the office” early this morning to avoid waking my Traveling Partner. He’s put in some heroic hours laboring in the shop, making it ready for the new (larger) CNC machine that will arrive soon. He was obviously exhausted by the end of his day, yesterday, and I sometimes rattle about rather noisily in the mornings. It’s not any particular inconvenience to go into the office and give him a better chance at deep sleep, and when he actually asked me if I would, I readily agreed. So… here I am. 😀 Getting some quiet time to write, and sipping on a delightful holiday beverage. It’s a promising start to a Monday.

There have been a lot of items in the news (I’d say “lately”, but truly it’s a relatively common thing) about various celebrities, sports figures, cultural icons of one sort or another, and some problematic tidbit – something they’ve said, or not said, or some bad act (some such are fairly petty or trivial, others quite horrible). We lament the fall of our heroes, when we’re honest enough to accept their human failings at all. Other times, we can’t accept what we’ve seen/heard… and we make excuses for their shitty behavior, or seek to explain it away. We do it for star athletes. We do it for actors. We do it for politicians. We do it for friends and loved ones. We do it for the gods we created in our own image.

I didn’t link any examples, and that’s intentional; we all experience this toppling of our heroes at some point, even if only in the discovery that our own parents do not know everything and don’t get everything right, or perhaps that first time we correct a teacher on some small detail of a subject we study passionately, that they were simply incorrect about.

…It’s hard to separate the art from the artist, isn’t it?.. To separate the author from their story? To separate the musician from their music? The soldier from their service? We are each so human…

Why the hell do we so often set ourselves up – and each other – for failure by creating a heroic caricature that no one could possibly measure up to? Why is it so difficult to “hate the sin” and still deal with one another entirely humanely? Why are our expectations of one another so complicated and often so unreasonable? What are we even doing here??

I only have questions on this one. Catchy bon mots and conveniently pithy slogans of one sort or another came and went with my thoughts over the weekend. I never really got anywhere besides “human beings are not heroes and neither are the gods they create”. We begin life with no perspective, experience, or wisdom, but commence judgment and decision-making immediately… we age and our thinking changes over time as we do, but entirely too late to change our previous decisions or actions based on flawed thinking. If we’re fortunate, we get somewhere good with all that mess. More often, it’s … complicated.

I remember how I felt upon learning that John Lennon mistreated women. “Heartbroken astonishment and disbelief” describe the initial feeling, but it quickly morphed into just disbelief, and from there? Apologist nonsense. Took me awhile to get to a place in life where I could both enjoy his music and also accept that he was a flawed human being, possibly even one I could not personally respect and might not wish to hang out with. Some of his music remains personally meaningful to me, in spite of who he was or may have been. This is just one example. There are so many others! (You, too?) In some cases, I couldn’t get past the human being behind the art, and I avoid it altogether. It sort of depends on how great the art, and how terrible the failure, sometimes. Over the years, I’ve become much less inclined to make excuses for human failings, and also much more inclined to be compassionate. It’s… complicated. I do think that when we insist on super-gluing our heroes to their pedestals in spite of their failings, we set ourselves up to treat people around us more callously – because we’re insisting on preserving the lie of heroism. There are no heroes. Only people. Some people are pretty fucking horrible. Other people are damned nice. No people are living embodiments of perfection in life (don’t argue, just look closer), and we’re each having our own experience. We’re walking our own paths, doing our own best, and generally hoping the outcome will be good more often than not. Can we each do better? Yeah, probably. Having a “role model” feels helpful sometimes. Making our role models over in the image of a god or a hero is probably not. (It’s also probably a lot of weight to have to carry, being someone’s hero…)

What do you value? How do you live that value in your life every day? What do you need a hero for? You have the path ahead, you have the choices in your hands, you have this day. Topple your heroes, then… become the person you most want to be.

Begin again.

I am sipping my morning coffee, thinking about my afternoon tea. lol It’s a bit meta, isn’t it? I’m okay with that – I do some of my most personally useful thinking in this way.

This has been a good weekend of self-care and partnership. My Traveling Partner and I spent time in his shop together working on a project – the first “from nothing to something” project to come off this new CNC machine. Exciting! It’s a small thing – a trivet. I needed one in the kitchen, though, to avoid setting very hot pans on our countertops, which are not stone, or made from stone, just some ordinary enough surface that could be at risk of damage from excessive heat. I like to take care with things.

A useful reminder of my partner’s affection.

This morning, I slept in – like, properly actually slept-in later than I might ordinarily, and also quite late considering when I crashed for the evening (and without even reading for a few minutes!). I woke feeling not only “well-rested”, but also feeling that my “mental buffer” was entirely cleared out of things needing to be processed from recent events. Lovely. Self-care win. A big one. If the only reason I’m “sleeping in” is that I went to bed very late, or slept very poorly, it’s not particularly worthwhile – it’s just me trying to get enough rest. This time, I definitely got enough rest, and a little more than that. 😀

I see a sunny autumn day beyond the window. My coffee tastes good. I feel loved. There is a smile on my face.

My partner ducks in for a moment to see how my morning is going so far, and asks me to check my oxygen on a pulse oximeter. I use the one on my phone and quickly verify that my oxygen level is “in the green zone” – I’m breathing. Yay! 😀 When my anxiety flares up, even “in the background”, the resulting experience of “hyper vigilance” sometimes finds me “holding my breath” without intending to, after some in-breath or another, as if alert for a threat, waiting, watchful… for some reason, my partner is very sensitive to this detail in my experience, and at some point when a change in my chemistry or pheromones becomes detectable (this is our theory, not confirmed through convincing medical research, so please don’t change your life over it) and if we’re in the same room he’ll fairly reliably have an allergy attack over it. We’re ruled out other more obvious things, so this is where we’re at with that. It vexes us both. For me, it’s mostly an irritating circumstance that breaks my focus when I’m asked to check my oxygen, which is … annoying and also saddening (to potentially be a cause of my partner’s allergies). For him? For him it’s worse, I think; he suddenly, unexpectedly, can’t fucking breathe. Crazy. I hope we figure it out. I don’t talk about it much, but it’s one of our day-to-day challenges. People have those. lol

It’s the last day of a lovely long weekend. I’ve got some errands to run, and a plan to make baked ziti for dinner. Life being lived. Lovers loving. Time passing. There’s still time to get into the garden… to read a book… I’ve got a list of inspired work to get started on in the studio, too…

…It’s time to begin again. Pick something. Do the thing. Repeat.