Accidental Fudge

Updates Thursdays

Resisting Misery

It’s a pretty miserable day in Chicago. It’s raining hard: streets and sidewalks are flooded, and despite my umbrella, my pants are completely soaked after walking the four blocks to the bus. It’s so dark it feels like I’m heading to work at 5am instead of 8am. This is quite possibly my least favorite weather to be out in. 

On top of that, I’ve been inexplicably nauseous for most of the week. I don’t know if it’s anxiety or a stomach bug or something else entirely, but it’s been annoying and exhausting and demotivating. 

Still, I’m trying to push past my inclination to succumb to the miserable weather and my miserable stomach and get lost in a sea of misery. I don’t know how much of it is optimism and how much is pragmatism: there’s life that needs getting on with, and misery isn’t really conducive to that. 

So here are a few happy things that have happened this week:

  • I got to have a Skype date with my best friend and catch up for the first time in too long. We’ve both been busy lately, so the moments when we get to connect feel particularly special. 
  • We went to a preview reading of The Civility of Albert Cashier. Chicago folks, you want to go see this when it premiers here in September. It’s an incredible (and true!) story, with a great cast and music by our friend (and folk musician hero) Joe Stevens
  • I’m finally getting a new work computer! This seems like a silly thing to be excited about, but I’m the IT guy and my computer is at least five years older than the computers of most of my coworkers who I’m assisting. It should’ve happened months ago but kept getting pushed off. I’m tentatively hopeful that this new machine will freeze less often and be a less frustrating user experience overall. 

It’s been a bit of an off week. My partner got sick at the end of last week with a nasty summer cold, and while I never developed all of his symptoms, I definitely got the fatigue side of it (along with some sniffles and a sore throat). It meant weekend plans had to be canceled, and I missed work Monday. I still feel like I’m a few steps behind in everything, I’m still tired, and I’ve had a pretty persistent headache that has not been helped by whatever the weather is doing here in Chicago this week. 

That said, it hasn’t all been awful. There is a certain sense of relief that comes with being forced to slow down. On Monday, since I stayed home, I was able to craft and watch movies and play some guitar and take naps, and that was all a nice break from the stress of work. 

This week at work has seen the (mostly expected) onslaught of complaints about the new project that we launched last week, mostly by people who didn’t read their (many) emails about the changes that were coming and then found themselves scrambling to catch up. It’s frustrating, but again, not exactly unexpected. I’m now trying to pick up the threads of other, smaller projects that were put on hold as we pulled together the final details of the big project, which has been a challenge, since I’m still not feeling great and the persistent headache has made it hard to concentrate on anything for very long. 

I’m looking forward to the weekend, not for any particular plans, really, but just for a chance to hopefully kick the rest of this cold. Right now I feel like I could sleep for days. That’s not an option, but even a couple of extra hours here or there might help.  

Stressed

I almost didn’t write anything this week. Life has felt a little overwhelming lately in ways that don’t lend themselves to very interesting blog posts, and I feel like all I have to say is, “Overall, things are okay in my life, but I am extraordinarily stressed.”

Monday morning we went live with the project I’ve spent the last few months on at work. It didn’t go off entirely without a hitch; there have been some minor road-bumps that we’re still working through. But overall I’m really pleased with and proud of the work I did, and I’m calling my first project as project manager a success. 

The stress of the last couple of weeks continues to make me wish our August trip to Song School was closer. At the same time, there are still details we need to nail down about the travel there and back and some of the stuff we need to bring with us, so perhaps I shouldn’t be wishing for the time to pass so quickly. 

This weekend is the Square Roots Festival put on by the Old Town School of Folk Music. I’m volunteering for part of it, and I’m looking forward to it despite feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.

I feel like I’ve gotten better at managing anxiety about some things lately, but not others. It might be time to review the coping mechanisms I have at hand and try to be more consistent with the things I can do daily. I don’t like feeling caffeinated all the time, especially when I’m not drinking regular coffee anymore. 

A Handful of Happy Thoughts

It’s been a week. Work is overwhelming (my first big project of my still-newish project management job launches into our live environment on Monday, and I’m scrambling to get the last-minute details nailed down). I feel like I’m barely keeping my head above water. In theory, things will lighten up next week, but that doesn’t really make me feel less overwhelmed right now. 

Still, the past week has brought with it some happy moments. A lot of what’s kept me relatively sane has been music. 

Last Thursday we saw Minnesota duo The Home Fires. It was a great show. 

Friday we saw another musical group hailing from Minnesota: The New Standards. My partner’s parents bought us tickets for my birthday, and it was so much fun!

Tuesday my partner and I set aside time to play music together. It was fun to work on some songs and start to get a feel for how our voices work together. 

I’m taking this session off from classes at the Old Town School of Folk Music, because I knew I’d have to miss the last couple of classes. In August, my partner and I are going to Song School, a week-long songwriting summer camp for adults out in Colorado. Knowing that trip is coming up is a large part of why I’m managing to hold it together at work. Just a month and a half until a creative vacation!

One of my short term goals is to start setting aside regular time each week to work on music. Particularly when other areas of my life feel unmanageable, music is a really great grounding activity. 

Things I Wish I’d Said

Tuesday, on my way to pick up the rental car I would be using to drive six hours round trip on Wednesday for a meeting in Dixon, I was stopped on the street by a man selling banana bread for Jesus.

Well, okay, that’s not the whole story. He was part of an organization that aims to get people out of substance addictions and into religion of the evangelical Christian variety. (His t-shirt literally said “Addicted to Jesus” on the back.) The banana bread was to raise money for the organization. 

Despite the fact that he said repeatedly that he wasn’t trying to start an argument or to save me, his actions told quite the opposite story. I tried to gently tell him I was truly happy that his beliefs worked for him (which was true), it wasn’t for me (also true). He insisted on asking what I believed, and when my Minnesota nice kicked in and prevented me from speaking because I didn’t have kind words in the moment, he gave me the advice that, “Now that you’re an adult, maybe you should try Jesus on your own terms instead of how he may have been forced on you as a kid.” As if I hadn’t spent several painful years of my life doing just that. 

So, without further ado, here is a list of:

Things I Wish I’d Said to the Man Selling Banana Bread for Jesus

  • The fact that you are grouping atheists together with the majority of the world’s belief systems into a category of “atheists or nonbelievers” is incredibly disrespectful. I don’t call you a nonbeliever because you don’t share my beliefs. 
  • I know you mean well, but your enthusiastically evangelical verbiage is making me flash back to my own evangelical days, and that’s triggering a panic attack that I’ll be fighting for the rest of the night. Thanks for that. 
  • I believe in banana bread with chocolate chips.
  • Please don’t assume that the fact that I’m not a Christian now means I just didn’t try hard enough at it when I was one. You know nothing about me. I’ve probably forgotten more about the Bible than you’ve learned yet. 
  • I don’t do gluten or repressive social systems. (Thanks for that one, N!)
  • I believe that if there is a God, then they’re capable of connecting with different people in different ways. To say you have the only answer is to put God in a human-imposed box. 
  • Jesus and I are cool. I have no problem with him, and frankly, I’m pretty sure he has no problem with me. We’ve just decided to see other people. It’s a great arrangement for everyone involved. 

A Quick List

I am writing this post on the bus on my way to work. This is mostly because I had no idea what to write about yesterday. I still don’t, but it’s Thursday, and therefore I need to write something. So how about a quick list of things from the past week?

  1. I saw Wonder Woman. Again. This time, my partner joined me. It was just as great the second time around. 
  2. I’m almost done reading a book I bought last week – The Library at Mount Char. To say that I like it would be…if not inaccurate, then an oversimplification. It’s a weird book, and I’m pretty sure it’s crossed my usual threshold for book violence several times. But it’s riveting. There have been a few times this past week that I completely lost track of my surroundings while I was reading, because I was so deeply engaged in the story. It’s definitely well-written. It’s weird. It’s pretty gruesome a large part of the time. I haven’t felt this unsure of my opinion of a book in a while. I guess we’ll see how I’m feeling in another 65 pages, when it’s over. 
  3. I am extraordinarily grateful for our little window unit A/C. It’s been hot and humid in Chicago all week, and I am not enjoying it. If we didn’t have that window unit, I’d probably be a super cranky mess all the time. 

Birthday Reflections

As I mentioned in last week’s post, my birthday was on Saturday, and as a present to myself, I took a five-day weekend. I feel like I managed a pretty good balance between packing in the things I wanted to do and taking time to take it easy. Here are some thoughts and highlights from my birthday week:

  1. I got a ton of things done around the house. Not quite as many things as I was initially planning on, but I still made some significant progress. I’m pleased with and proud of the work I did.
  2. Friday was the day of celebrating with friends. I got breakfast with a friend from work who had also taken the day off. In the evening, I met up with some friends for drinks, and then some more folks joined us for pizza and sangria. It was fantastic, and I felt (still feel) very loved.
  3. Saturday was the day of celebrating with my partner. It didn’t go quite according to plan (the weather was threatening thunderstorms that never came but that made us want to stay closer to home), but it was a really lovely day.
  4. Sunday, I went to see Wonder Woman. I have so many feelings about Wonder Woman, but a lot of them are summed up in this lovely tweet that’s been floating around the interwebs:

    18881965_10101501193224038_4932193380804183827_n

    “I’ve lived to see my childhood princesses become generals.”

  5. Monday night, I had the privilege of playing an Acoustic Explosion show at Sylvie’s here in Chicago, along with three of my songwriting classmates and a couple of other cool acts. Four of the seven performers had June birthdays, which added to the fun. I went last (at 10:30 pm – way past my bedtime), which meant I was two drinks into the evening before I got up on stage; apparently, that is the magic number for me to relax enough to perform my songs at a reasonable pace. I actually had to cut a song out of my set because I hadn’t blasted through all of the things I’d prepared! Below are the two new songs I played in my set; the rest of the set was older material that’s already elsewhere on my SoundCloud page.

Homemaking

It’s Shavuot, which means that this week, in addition to getting Monday off for Memorial Day, my office is also closed Wednesday and Thursday. Since my birthday is on Saturday, I decided working Friday was for chumps, and am taking it off as well.

I didn’t make any official plans for my five-day birthday weekend, but I went into it knowing that, in addition to taking time to relax, I wanted to spend some time tidying the apartment. My partner is fantastic at envisioning ways we can make our space more homey and inviting, and while I am, in theory, more than willing to help those visions along, I have historically not done the best job pulling my weight in that regard.

I’ve never been great at cleaning. Past roommates could tell you stories of my mild hoarder tendencies. When I lived alone, I mostly managed to keep my apartment from falling into complete chaos, but I rarely vacuumed, tended to put off the dishes until they were spilling out of the sink and over the counters, and ended up throwing out a fair number of what should have been reusable food containers, because the food in them had probably developed sentience and I didn’t have the mental space to deal with it. On more than one occasion, I decided to go to Target and buy underwear and/or socks to avoid doing laundry. The only time I remember dusting my old apartment (aside from when I was moving out) was the night my partner came over to my place for the first time, and my nerves demanded I do something while I waited for him to arrive.

When my partner and I moved to Chicago and into our first official shared apartment, I was determined to do a better job of housekeeping. I had visions of equally divided labor around the house, and was convinced I’d be able to develop new habits in a new space.

It didn’t happen. I had convinced myself long before that I functioned better in a cluttered space, that a tidy home was a home that didn’t feel lived in, and that wasn’t what I wanted. (I have all sorts of theories about why I had such a major mental block against cleaning, but that could be a whole blog on its own, so we’ll skip it here.) There were all sorts of reasons things didn’t work out the way I was hoping, of course – for the first nine months we were in Chicago, I was underemployed and miserable at my job, and while my partner was kind enough to share his (already established) friends with me, it took a while for me to feel like they were really MY friends, too, and not just putting up with me because they liked him. My mental health was in shambles, I was increasingly dysphoric, I was wracking up all sorts of credit card debt just trying to get by. By the time things got better, I was even further entrenched in my bad habits.

Eventually, though, I started to realize that having a tidy space actually felt…nice. (I wouldn’t have figured this out without my partner’s Herculean efforts to keep up with housekeeping when I was being less-than-helpful – neither of us are perfect, but I wouldn’t have experienced “tidy” on my own.) When my partner read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and suggested that we actually go through all of our stuff, I decided to go along with it, ostensibly to make my partner happy…but I also realized that a lot of the stuff I had acquired over the years had stopped bringing me joy (or had never brought me joy in the first place).

It’s been a couple of years since we started the process of going through everything we own, bringing a greater intentionality to our purchases, and trying together to keep the house tidier. I still feel like I’m not great at housekeeping, but I’m basically a different person for how much I’ve changed and grown in that regard.

So this week, since I have so many days off, I decided to make a departure from what I often do with long weekends (read: overpack my schedule and/or avoid responsibility), and actually try to tackle some areas of the apartment that have felt neglected recently.

Yesterday, I tackled the kitchen and dining room. I don’t have before pictures, because I didn’t think to take any, but I did all of the dishes, completely cleared and wiped down the kitchen table, cleaned the stove, and swept the floor, and when I was done, I was actually surprised at how much better I felt about our apartment.

clean stove, empty sink

Clean stove, empty sink

The kitchen table hasn't been this clear in at least a month

The kitchen table hasn’t been this clear in at least a month

I have other things I want to get done this week/end – particularly laundry and cleaning up some areas of the apartment that are distinctly mine (and distinctly disorganized) – and I know there is more I could do in the kitchen, but I feel really accomplished. Not just because I kicked ass and cleaned a bunch of things, but because I actually recognized an area of the apartment that was stressing me out because it wasn’t tidy, and I did something about it instead of pretending it wasn’t there.

Last week I ran across the idea of the “hearth” for the first time in a while, and how most modern homes don’t have a hearth in the traditional sense of a fire in the center of the house, but there’s still an area that is the gathering place, the metaphorical center of the home. Our kitchen is tiny, and our dining room has not always been the most comfortable place, but it felt like an important (and perhaps even necessary) place to start what will hopefully be a more extended cleaning spree than I usually go on. Of course, the trick is to keep it tidy once I’ve lost steam, but I’m less worried about that than I used to be. Because I’ve learned that I really do like my space tidy. I like knowing what stuff I have and where it is in my home. I can be creative without clutter. It may not seem like much, but right now it feels like a huge victory to be able to say that.

Intentions

It’s a new moon today. For those of us who tend toward the more “woo” end of the spiritual spectrum, new moons are often seen as a good time to set intentions for the next month (until the next new moon).

Now, I’ll be honest: while I’ve been aware of this practice for a while, I haven’t really participated. I think I’ve generally felt about new moon intentions like I feel about New Year’s resolutions, which is to say they seem like a lovely idea, but I don’t like setting myself up for failure. However, about a month ago, when the last new moon happened, I was invited to join some folks for tea and intention-setting, and I decided to go. I’d been feeling rather fragmented, and while I wasn’t sure how I felt about my chances of seeing an intention through to fruition, I figured it couldn’t hurt to try.

And you know what? It was a lovely evening, and I set my intention (to be fully present in myself), and went home and did a little new moon tarot spread, and I felt a little more at peace. And as the month went on, I found myself coming back to that intention, using it as motivation. And yesterday, as I looked back on the month, I realized that yes, I had made substantial progress in feeling more at home in my skin. And that had more to do with choices I made and actions I took than anything. However, I do think that if I hadn’t taken the time out to think about what I wanted to accomplish, I probably wouldn’t have done as well.

So for now, I think I’m going to keep up this practice of setting myself a bigger-picture goal each month. Because I think that’s really the takeaway here: it’s easy for me to just sit back passively and let life happen. There was a long time when I was dealing with some pretty substantial mental health stuff, and thinking beyond the next week (or day, or hour) was more than I could handle. I got out of the habit of planning long-term. A lunar cycle might not be particularly long-term, but it’s a bigger chunk of time than I’ve been working with in a long time, so it seems like a good place to start.

Where Did the Week Go?

It’s been a busy week. Possibly not much busier than weeks usually are, but the fact that it’s been in the upper 80s and humid in Chicago the past couple of days has made everything feels pretty overwhelming. In any case, here are a few of the highlights from the past week, complete with photos:

  • I got a tattoo on Saturday! An apprentice tattooer I’ve been following on Instagram had posted some flash that I thought looked great, and now I have a happy little plant on my ankle:

    Screen Shot 2017-05-17 at 7.28.23 PM

    It’s my first color tattoo, and the first one somewhere other than my forearms. I’m quite pleased with how it turned out, and it’s healing nicely.

  • We got to see one of our favorite folk duos twice last week! Wednesday night, we went to a songwriting workshop put on by Mouths of Babes titled The Political is Personal. It was inspiring and got me halfway to finishing my assignment for my regular songwriting class. Then on Sunday, we got to see them play at SPACE in Evanston. It was (predictably) a fabulous show.

    Screen Shot 2017-05-17 at 7.33.35 PM

  • I finished another nearly-two-year-old knitting project, though this one was much smaller than a sweater. A couple of summers ago, I bought a tiny owl kit from MochiMochiLand at our local yarn store. I knit the body of one owl at knit night the evening I bought it, and hadn’t picked it back up since. Over the weekend, I dug it out. I finished the first owl, and then started on another one:

    Screen Shot 2017-05-17 at 7.37.05 PM

    I finished the second owl last night, and found a spot for them with my favorite old wooden owl (that used to belong to my grandparents) on the shelf we refer to as our owlery:

    Screen Shot 2017-05-17 at 7.39.19 PM

    They were a lot of fun to knit, and I’m glad to finally have them done!

« Older posts

© 2017 Accidental Fudge

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑