friday nite peace

Last week was Not So Good.  Let’s just say the Not-So-Good part started at Sudden Onset of Extreme Dizzinesss, went directly to Extreme Panic, made a bee-line for the ER with help from the serendipitous timing of a visit from my dearest long-long-time friend, and then ended with the realization that I am a Mo-ron.

This realization made me feel a lot better right away.  Although to arrive at it, I had to ride my spinning carousel of a living room while trying to focus my spinning eyeballs long enough to research my predicament on my spinning computer.

Now, after almost two weeks after fixing the Mo-ron part, which means going back on the SSRI I had inadvertently stopped taking cold-turkey, which was the cause of the dizziness, I am feeling like My Old Self,  Which is, as you know, mostly OK with some not OK parts.  Bottom line:  Drugs are good, at least for now.

So this week I have been spending a lot of time just being thankful for my life. For being able to watch summer evening sunsets from my front porch, work at a job that is enjoyable and pays me well enough to afford my front porch and drugs, have my lovely Mommy close by and willing to come babysit me anytime I need her, have a great big, sweet horse to ride, and have the comfort and support of my dear friend who I have just simply adored for about 42 years or so now, exactly when I needed her here, even though she lives 3000 miles away.

Tonight, Friday, the end of a busy and so-much-better week, I am reminded of something I wrote a few years ago while in a similar state of under the influence of gratitude.

About 25 years ago, when I was more of a City Girl, I used to go with a friend to the Sacramento Symphony on Friday nights. We would get all gussied up in fancy dresses and jewelry (hers) and drive a red BMW convertible (hers) and act like Real Women of Culture And Sophistication. I loved the symphony.

At that time, I was also wearing suits and pumps to work, studying piano, taking college courses at night, buying my fingernails, living in a townhouse, and probably smelling better overall.

Fast forward to now. I still consider myself to be a Real Woman, but it occurs to me that the Culture and Sophistication parts have officially hightailed it out of here, as far from my present being as my feet are from their next pedicure.  The little black dress, good jewelry and convertible replaced by riding pants, boots, and my dusty beater SUV, I head out on a Friday night to different sort of symphony — dusty old Garth Brooks hits blaring from a loudspeaker.  I sit on a garage sale-quality dinette chair, eat a home-made pulled pork sandwich courtesy of Daisy’s Chuck Wagon, and watch local horse people do team penning.

  • Team = 2 or 3 riders and their horses
  • Penning = separating a single young cow from a herd at one end of the arena and moving it down to the other end, into a pen.

The team sits waiting at one end of the arena.  When given the go-ahead by the announcer, they start walking, trotting, loping or galloping (depending on the horse and/or rider’s desire to actually get close to those cows) toward the herd of terrified or bored (depending on the cow) cows at the other end. The cows are wearing numbers, zero to 9. There are several of each number. The announcer calls the number of the cow to be penned when the riders have started down toward the herd.

The teams have to find one cow with the correct number, cut that cow out of the herd and then make it go by itself to the other end of the arena. Since the cows know by Herd Instinct that they are safer if they stick together (safer from what, one wonders, when the closest thing to a cow predator within miles is Daisy herself, and she’s busy with pork), the cut cow will try its hardest to get back to the herd, in which case the rider’s job is to yell “HAH HAH HAH YIP YIP YIP” and jerk their horse’s head around trying to get them to track the cow and scare it down the arena and into the pen.  The horse’s job is to either to be obedient to the rider’s jerking or jerk the rider around in a bucking frenzy. Which is way more fun to watch if you are the audience. Definitely more fun if you are the horse.

Or, the cut cow just won’t care anymore since it has been doing this team penning crap every Friday night for 6 weeks in a row and the outcome is inevitable — it gets driven down to the other end of arena, goes into the pen, waits for the applause, and then toodles on back to the herd. So the cow just plods along resignedly in a Just-Shoot-Me stupor, infuriating the rider who wanted to show off his riding skills and giving the horse a much-needed break from getting his head jerked around by those same riding skills.

And this goes on for hours, as long as there are teams that want to pen, and the cows are still awake. Long past sundown, and into the wee hours possibly. I don’t know, I didn’t stay until the end. But when I left, Garth was still singing and I thought this was just a way cooler Friday night than the symphony ever was.

Killing Me Softly (a.k.a. Yoga)

Yesterday was a Red Letter Day.

I think.  I have always thought of a Red Letter Day as a day chock full of pleasant surprises, but just to make sure what I write is as accurate as my wisdom-wrapped-up-in-nonsense can be, I looked up the meaning of the phrase.

I love Wikipedia for this sort of serious academic research, but this time I chose instead some obscure UK site.  Because I thought the British description would be more interesting. Because of their penchant for misspelling common English words over there.

Red-letter day*


In earlier times a church festival or saint’s day; more recently, any special day.


This comes from the practise (see, told you) of marking the dates of church festivals on calendars in red.

The first explicit reference to the term in print that we have comes from America. This is a simple use of the term “Red letter day” in the diary of Sarah Knight – The journals of Madam Knight, and Rev. Mr. Buckingham … written in 1704 & 1710, which was published in American Speech in 1940.

(aside:  wondering what Madam Knight had to say in her journal about her red-letter day with the Rev. Mr. Buckingham in 1704 and/or 1710.  historical novel fodder.  Oh Wait.  Dim memory of an English lit class.  The Scarlet Letter.  Dang, Hawthorne beat me to it.)

The practise is much earlier than that though. William Caxton, referred to it in The boke of Eneydos, translated and printed in 1490:

 “We wryte yet in oure kalenders the hyghe festes wyth rede lettres of purpre.”  This makes no sense to me whatsover, assuming purpre = purple.  I am now too lazy to look it up.  But it doesn’t have to make sense to me —  I am studying Spanish, not Olde English.

Back to My Hyghe Fest Day

First, I got to work at home instead having to go in to the office.   This is good because I didn’t have to drive my always-a-potential-adventure-in-panic  commmmuuuuuuttttttteeeeeee, all the way from my little ranch in the boonies to midtown Sacramento.  Plus I get to play music as loud as I want while I’m working.  Plus I get a lot of work done while The Black Thing (my beast of a bloodhound) snores contentedly on my feet.

Then I went to visit my horse “Big”, who, having had some joint injections the day before, needed some bandages removed.  This was good because Big stood still while I used scissors around his hooves, which is always a potential adventure, especially when the horse is, well, big.

Then I went to Walmart.  Always a potential adventure, but I was on a mission — to get a Walmart manicure inside of 40 minutes (40 being the maximum manageable number, even though I was already reliably Rx-ed, in anticipation of the onset of panic to be caused by the enjoyable relaxation of a manicure countered by the crowd of Women of Walmart already packed like large, interestingly dressed mani-pedi-ing sardines in the little salon) by my favorite manicurist Kevin.  Who is Vietnamese.  No surprise there.  Except for his name.  He has a different given name I’m certain.  I asked him what his real name is, and he just smiled,  shook his head side to side, said “No No No” as if he was already suffering my butchering of his name in an attempt to pronounce it.  What Kevin doesn’t know is [1]  I work hard at pronouncing correctly the proper names of all cultures, and [2] if I can say Merry Christmas in correctly pronounced Korean**, then I can surely not butcher his name.

40 minutes later, manicured in hot flamingo coral to honor today’s 4th of July fireworks that are an Extreme Fire Danger and therefore against the law in my county, I headed to my first ever yoga class.  At a training stable.  During a warm evening after a 90-plus degree day.  In a barn.  Upstairs in a loft that was behaving suspiciously like a sauna.

Even though it killed me temporarily, I loved LOVED loved the yoga stuff.  I could not actually do any of it.  Well, hardly.  I could do the sitting cross-legged while breathing position and the laying down while breathing position.    But I loved the quiet confidence, reassurance and encouragement of my friend and fella horse rider Jackie who was instructing the class — I’m wondering if I call her Sensei or something like that — I’ll text her and ask — and I loved the trying to do it.  Even though most of it was pretty much torture, I liked it and I kept trying.  And I really liked that I kept trying.    And I was introduced to some of the position names which I now forget.  Get Down Dancing Dog, Wonder Woman, Warrior One (maybe that’s Wonder Woman), Surfer (maybe that’s Warrier Two, or Three), and Child something, among others.  Each of the positions were very hard for me to do,  but I can see how with practice I could get this (I don’t know if I have that many years left on the planet but surely it is good for me and should extend my planet time, dontcha think?) and be just as graceful as Jackie.

But never as tall as Jackie.  She is very tall and very lean and very limber and exceedingly graceful, both in yoga and on horseback.  I hate her.  But I adore her.  I am guessing Jackie has the perfect physical conformation for yoga.  My present physical conformation is only perfect for writing while seated super comfortably in my big super comfortable leather chair.  And, maybe, for riding my big Big.

Now, I’m typing my hot flamingo coral fingernails over to an on-line Yoga Mart to order a good yoga mat and some cute, short-round-person yoga clothes.  And some East Indian jewelry.   And some incense.


**당신에게 크리스마스 축하!  (Tang-shin-eh-geh ku-ri-su-ma-su chuk-ha!)

stepping outside of my head for a moment to ponder rice

I think too much. Therefore I have too many thoughts.  A perpetual frenzy of mostly nonsense sprinkled with smart bits, ping-ponging around in my cranium 100% of my waking time.

So I have decided to lose my mind for awhile, with intent.

This occurred to me recently as I spent a solid hour in one of the most brutal full blown panic episodes I’ve had, while driving home from an enjoyable dinner with former work buddies.  Although I knew it was “just” panic and nothing else, as I always know, I couldn’t rationalize it away, as I never can.  And none the tools in my emergency panic toolbox were working.  I couldn’t take the usual Rx since I’d had a small bit of alcohol.

I did deep slow breathing and cowboyed my way through hell on the freeway.

On the fast downside of the roller coaster, my head chants “It’s bad, it’s bad, it’s bad, it is really getting very bad …”  Adrenalin rushes in to fight the bully.   I begin to  imagine I cannot feel my legs anymore, I will not be able to accelerate or brake when I need to.   I don’t know for sure if my hands are still on the steering wheel, even when I can see them there, since I know my mind can play tricks of the wickedest order.   I wonder if I am actually still conscious.  I become more terrified, more terrorized.  More adrenalin.  More and stronger physiological symptoms. The bully is growing, bigger and meaner.  More panic.  More adrenalin.  More, more.

,On the slower upside of the roller coaster, I have periods where I can think more clearly, probably just from exhaustion, a mental time-out.  Tears come.  I’m still in panic but the bully has backed off momentarily, no doubt gathering strength for the next round.

During these sort of “quiet terror”  periods, I search the day’s events for potential triggers.  Still driving, not quite sure I’m still driving.

The workday preceding dinner that evening had been normal, non-stressful, even fun. I am working in a great job in a great company. Nothing there to rev up the anxiety motor to a 50,000 RPM attack, probably.  Unless it had something to do with the foos-ball games that happen twice daily, at noon and 5:00 pm, right next to my cube.  (I kid you not. Foos-ball, vintage machine even.  I like listening to the flipping of the plastic men, the banging of the metal poles that bayonet through the plastic men and make them flip and spin, and the slamming of the ball that has to get wherever it is supposed to go to earn whoever a point,  and the good-natured, competitive but mostly curse-less banter of my co-worker players.  I have even brought in my portable sound system to give them a soundtrack for the game from time to time.  If they get to make noise in the office, I get to play Tower of Power. What Is Hip.  Live Version).

Aside:  I have asked the company owners to add a ping-pong table and a vintage Pac-Man machine to round out the Arcade Department of our open-floor-plan office.  Next I will volunteer to be Arcade Department Head.

Another aside:  At our company, there is beer on tap and wine in the break room, and a liquor bar in one owner’s office.  This is a small company in California on the 2nd floor of an inconspicuous office building in mid-town Sacramento.  The first floor of the building is occupied by a real estate agency, no doubt perturbed by the foos ball banging around while they are trying to do escrows or whatever they do down there.  Which may explain why the real estate agency people keep stealing our parking spaces out back.  Out of spite.  Out back, incidentally, is an alley, and on the other side of that, directly behind our building, someone is building a Beer Garden restaurant.  A Beer Garden that we can overlook, while holding beers we got from our break room.  So we can be drinking beer at work for free while watching the Beer Garden customers pay for their beer and look up at our building in annoyance,  wondering what the f is all of that banging around on the 2nd floor in the building across the alley and why do the people up there get to have Beer in their cubes.  Maybe they will want to come  and contribute to our profit sharing by buying beer from us.  Maybe even play us in a foos ball tournament.  And Pac Man and ping-pong as well , if I get the promotion to Arcade Department Head.

Back to the panic — dinner after work had been in a well-known, around-for-ages downtown Sacramento icon of a beautiful old Chinese restaurant, featuring fabulous food, half of an adult beverage, and energetic and interesting conversation with known-quantity, non-scary people in a non-scary quantity of four including me.

…. fabulous food was Chinese chicken salad, walnut something shrimp, kung pao chicken, sweet and sour something, soup maybe?  , and brown rice. Remember the rice part even if you don’t remember the rest of the menu.

… the half of an adult beverage was half of a mai tai.  Against my personal company medication policy, yes,  but i let it get very watered down and i nursed the half drink for the entire evening.

… conversation was with women i had worked with and admired and enjoyed for various reasons.

So later, in my car, an interminable one hour drive home, on the upside of the roller coaster, full terror subsiding just enough so I can reflect.  Fabulous food included some sweet stuff and rice.  The Mai Tai was, although watered down, sweet, and alcoholic. The conversation was animated and stimulating.  About 30 minutes before we left the restaurant, I began to feel the jitterbugging in my toes, the start of the weirdness — soon after, on the freeway on-ramp, heart racing, limbs tingling, shallow breathing, minor vertigo.

So here is where the panic started I’m pretty sure:  the rice.  Overload of carbs against insulin resistance.  Heart races in response to my little tiny insulin supply trying to beat up the big grizzly bear rice.  Tiny bit of alcohol, but enough to light a flambe on the panic sauce.  Sensory overload – my neurotransmitters encountering about 30 minutes more of stimulating conversation than they can normally handle.

All of this == physiology.  My psyche was the responder, not the instigator. This realization has set me on a new course — absolutely minimal sugar, no starches of any kind whatsoever — limiting refined sugar to my first oh so good and necessary cup of coffee in the morning.  lotsa lotsa water.  salad/veggies and protein for lunch, same for dinner if I have any.  protein smoothes with unsweetened almond milk.  all that stuff they have told me to do to lose weight on a low carb plan, coincidentally.

Followed this for a few days and felt pretty good for me.  Then test drove the concept and deliberately relapsed — had a half Subway sandwich a few days ago.  Did not have a very strong reaction but I definitely felt uncomfortable, with a twinkling of anxiety following soon after I ate.  I went directly to Clonazepam.

Flicker of an Ah-hah, maybe.  So I’m continuing the experiment. — not focused at all on the weight loss aspect,  just on the keeping the motor running, well hydrated and without spikes in blood glucose.

But also keeping Clonazepam close by..

btw, I am off all SSRIs completely — no Paxil for over a year.  Tried Pristiq, no.  Tried Celexa, no.  So I know my serotonin levels are going haywire but the water and diet thing seems to be enough stabilization to pursue.

The moral to this story — eat rice, go crazy.






I love science. except when it is gooey and smelly.

I have my very own Museum of Natural History right here in my home.
Normal people might call it a refrigerator.
I discovered the Museum when I started to clean the fridge, after I came home this afternoon with brand spanking new groceries. And found an ancient Museum artifact taking up the space where I wanted the brand spanking new eggs to go.
The complete evolution of food —
1. Real food = future expiration date. Or, I’m sure it’s still food because I just put it in there yesterday.
2. Questionable food = past expiration date but not quite ancient history. Yet. This category includes what might be considered real food except it is elk meat, or fish with heads/eyeballs intact. Expiration date notwithstanding. Whatsoever.
3. Produce that has composted. Inside the fridge. Which is a phenomenon worthy of a museum, since normal planets require heat to make compost.
4. Ancient history food = still looks something like food but only because it is petrified. Expiration date > 3 yrs ago.
5. Bug corpses. I count them as food since there are lizards in the kitchen who would consider them food.
6. Unrecognizable congealed globs of brown, mossy green and black liquid. Or, basically, the lowest form of food. Or, basically, how all living things end up.

20/20 vision but not in my eyes

I don’t see well, never have.  Discovered that I was nearsighted while in elementary school.

From kindergarten through fourth grade, my kid persona  was the epitome of the teacher’s pet — smart, obedient, studious, attentive, shy but friendly when friendlied-to.     My teachers called on me frequently and  I always knew the answers to their questions.  I basked in the little-kid glory of getting the best grades in most of my classes.  I loved loved loved school.

Then starting in fifth grade, I became inattentive and disruptive.   I didn’t know all the answers, didn’t raise my hand as much.  I got scolded by my teacher Mrs. Bryant for chatting with my neighbors.  And getting called out for bad behavior by Mrs. Bryant, who I adored and whose praise my nine-year-old self lived for, was utmost humiliation.  My young self-esteem was all about being the smartest and best-behaved kid in the class.  Suddenly I was becoming one of the kids that was always getting yelled at.  Soon I would join the ranks of delinquents in the walk of shame to the Principal’s Office.  What had happened?  How did I get started on a downhill slide to Kid Skid Row?

It was all because of where I was seated in the classroom. From grades one through four, my desk was always near the front of the classroom, close to the action at the blackboard.   In fifth grade, my desk was in the rear of the classroom.  Mrs. Bryant apparently got a clue, recommending that I get my eyes tested.  I couldn’t see the blackboard or make eye contact with the teacher from the back of the room.  So I disengaged.

A few weeks later, I was wearing winged cat-eyed montrosities that were the latest fashion in 1960’s eyewear …

fashion eyewear in the olden days

fashion eyewear in the olden days … mine were light blue frames topped with white wings

… and happily on a climb back up the teacher’s pet ladder.

Now my eyes have an even harder time.   Since I am old.  Each lens in my glasses contains three different prescriptions — long distance, medium distance for arm’s length, and short distance for reading.  I have no idea what my 20/whatever is, but it must be very bad.

I’m writing in this direction today because I got laid off yesterday.  Good for me,  because I hated that job and the organizational culture I was working in.  Scary for me, too, because I don’t have another job and I am not made of money (yet).

But, great again because God  has a way of leading me, whether I think His timing of particular events makes sense or not.  It can feel a bit like whiplash …. “Wait … what?” … but now I get to put my minds’-eye where my mouth is.   And my mind’s-eye vision is usually perfectly clear. In its landscape, I see 20/20.  In that clarity, I believe I see what God has in mind for my life.

So, time to put the visualization thing to work again.  It has worked before.  For example, from 1990-1996, I lived in a small, semi-dumpy townhouse.  My master bedroom window directly overlooked a busy street.  I lived 5 minutes from the grocery store and right next door to a pair of teenage brothers whose extracurricular activities included vandalizing cars.  Including mine.

I knew that place was not my real home.  I started visualizing where I wanted to live.  I journaled about it and kept the written pages with me at all times.

4 Jan 1996
My dreams come from God and God has the power to accomplish them.
My creativity heals myself and others.
There is a divine plan of goodness for me.  There is a divine plan of goodness for my work.
My dreams for my life are simple and achievable.  Sometimes what I want is so clear and so close.  I don’t know how to get there but I think if I see myself living the life I want, that is the only way to get started.  I seem to be able to create, to think creatively, to live beyond just existing.  But there is something missing — the real plan, the road.  I’m going to start seeing it, visualizing it every day, writing it down, telling myself over and over again what will happen, how I will live my life and place the inch pebbles that will get me there. 
My home is a small place in the country.  There are lots of trees, maybe an orchard.  The house has lots of light and a fireplace, not too many rooms but they’re large and there’s room for guests.  I have a good kitchen and a nice room to work in.  The animals have their own place, too.  The kitchen has a window that overlooks the yard, maybe a small pasture where there are 1 or 2 horses.  I don’t know how the house is decorated but it is comfortable and clean, not too dressed up, formal or silly.  Things I love and things I make are all over the house.  There is some kind of porch that I can watch sunrises or sunsets from.  I have a garden and I grow vegetables and flowers.  I keep the kitchen well-stocked with food and I cook!  I have lots of animals and people enjoy visiting my home, and best of all I enjoy sharing my home with them …”

Six months after writing that, I  bought the little house that is still my home … three bedrooms on five acres in the Sierra foothills …   kitchen windows look out over pastures and there are four horses out there now … the fireplace is a wood-burning stove … i have my large watercolor quilt and original artwork hanging on my walls … room for lots of  dogs and cats and they are everywhere now, usually where they aren’t supposed to be …   my front porch faces west to great sunsets  … a huge garden area …  I have learned how to cook …

Now, I’m putting the mind’s-eye to work again on something new.  Can’t wait to see what it comes up with.

physiology 101

My dear friend of 40 years and fellow blogger writes  about life-changes she is seeking, and how she is trying to pay more attention to her gut instincts and give the constraints of pure logic a bit of rest as she searches for new directions.

I liked her post and it made me think (as her writing always does, bless her) … I was reminded of something I have done and should do more of … so I post a rephrase of my comment to her here:

My instincts don’t lie in my gut, I don’t think. The things that thrive in my gut are panic, anxiety, dread. Also extra pounds. I would just as soon not know about my gut – where it is, what it’s doing or thinking, what it wants to eat, how it is getting along with the size of my pants, etc.  

My question is to my heart — the soul part, not the bloody pumping part. “Are you there? How do I make you grow? How do I live out your desires? ”

One thing that has helped me in moving along when I have been stuck is visualization. Draw the image of where I want to be, who I want to be, what I want to do. Make the image as real as I can. I write it out in words, draw and diagram pictures of it. Keep looking at it, keep it in my head at all times. It becomes part of me, my conscience, my sub-conscience. I start moving in the direction I visualize as if by magic.

I learned this awhile back from a friend who shares some of my fears around horseback riding … specifically the performance anxiety that comes with competing, and my huge fear of jumping. I started to ride the perfect dressage tests or hunter classes in my head, over and over. I even visualized burps in the rides and how I would ride through them. In my car during my commute, in the shower, during boring meetings at work, whenever I could let my mind safely wander away from reality, I would put in my head the vision of where I wanted to go.

Build the vision and live it in your head. What are you doing? What kind of person are you? How are you dressed? What is your daily routine like?


It is just like practicing for a speech or a difficult conversation, really.  Write the speech and then present it to an imaginary audience.  Have the audience throw some rotten tomatoes and then visualize how to deal.

I have my current passion, the Book, storyboarded on the wall of my home office — Will start posting pieces of it for my Fun with Murder Readers team …Googled images of landscapes and buildings and artifacts that figure into the story — timelines of events — an organization chart of the key characters’ interrelationships  — photos of people who look like my characters.    I am still looking for the character that will fit into Tommy Lee Jones.  Gotta have Tommy Lee Jones in the eventual movie screenplay, dontcha know.

I have been doing stuff, just not this

I have a lot of good reasons:

1.  I got myself a companion.  Nicest guy ever.  Came with the nicest dog ever (ok, second-nicest dog — my Golden Lily is the nicest dog ever).  So I have had to make some behavior changes.  Like try to be nice back.  Mostly.  Not trying so much in the morning.  Also, try not to spend so much time on the computer writing while we are together.  Mostly.  I give myself points for conversing with him at the same time I am spending so much time on the computer writing.

2.  My companion bought a new TV and DISH and put them in my living room.  I haven’t had TV for years.  Enough said.

3.  I got myself yet another job.  Way good money.  Way too much work and stress and too little job-well-done.  This yet another job is going to be replaced by yet another job as soon as I can manage it.  I am just happy I saved my “Just Shoot Me” Post-It note I used to stick on my forehead when I was having a bad day at my last yet another job.  

4.  I have been making friends with a new horse, who I believe has a tax-refund-friendly price tag.

5.  I did my taxes as soon as the W-2s and other tax stuff landed on my planet.  See #4.

6.  I got two new baby kittens around Thanksgiving.  Kittens are way too entertaining.

7.  I started a creative writing class (mystery fiction) so I can maybe learn how to write like a real writer.   Reader Team, go here.  This will be the writing focus for a bit,  but there will be blog.  I have missed it.