The Great Clutter Clear Out Day 2

One of the worst things about fibromyalgia is the lack of consistency. I might feel great one day then feel like crap the next. In fact, that’s pretty much guaranteed. So while I managed to get a lot done yesterday, I got very little done today. However, what matters is that I at least did *something*. Even if I only manage to get rid of two things a day, that’s still 730 things in a year, right?

I thought for sure I would sleep like the dead last night, but I was oh so wrong. I slept for a little less than four hours. I managed to grab another couple of hours this morning, but I finally gave up and got moving at 9:30am. I tackled more coffee cups and the two drawers of spatulas and spoons. I assigned a shelf for the wine glasses and got them washed and put away. I loaded up the dishwasher, washed a few pans, then left for knitting. My 15 minutes was more than up, so I didn’t feel at all guilty.

I’ve been having major sensory overload issues since I’ve come back from Leigh’s. I love love love my knitting groups, but both Sunday and today left me with light and sound sensitive headaches. As part of “doing things differently,” I decided to be happy with what did get done instead of running myself into the ground and not being able to do anything at all tomorrow.

As Scarlett said, “Tomorrow is another day.”

On A Clear Day

I spent the last couple of weeks up in New England with my BFF, Leigh. Leigh’s house is magazine-worthy gorgeous. She does everything herself (with all the labor supplied by her wonderfully willing husband, Bill), from kitchen and furniture design to decorating. She is an amazing little fireball of energy and creativity. I love being up there, because it’s a retreat from my cluttered house of chaos.

While I was gone, I realized that if I came home and everything was gone (besides my luxury yarn…people would die if anything happened to my luxury yarn!!!), I would have no idea what was missing. Matt had joked that he was going to throw everything away while I was off at Leigh’s. Next time, I might take him up on that.

A few days ago, I somehow got sucked into Pinterest; not sure how that happened, as I try to avoid it. It’s sort of like that scene in Interstellar where every hour they spend on the planet is seven years on earth because of the gravity well. Every minute on Pinterest is an hour lost in real life, or at least that’s how it seems. Anyway, I was browsing through my “Pins For You” page and found a link to Home Storage Solutions 101. It is a life altering page that I highly recommend.

As anyone with clutter can tell you, the hardest part is knowing where to start. Looking at a room of disaster is overwhelming. It causes me to immediately shut down, close the door, and retreat to my knitting chair. Yes, I have a knitting chair, don’t you?? However, HSS101 truly is a solution for people like me. She breaks everything down into daily and weekly challenges. Even better, Monday challenges are just reading assignments to prepare you for the challenges of that week, because who the hell wants to clean on a Monday? No one! Daily challenges are a max of 15 minutes (unless you have serious hoarder level issues), so even the busiest person has no excuse.

Obviously, you can do more than one challenge a day, should you so choose. Today is my first day, but I wanted to get the first week of February done anyway. Since today’s challenge is reading, I figured I would take on Feb 1-8. I bribed Matt with breakfast tacos and since he’s still not working, he helped me git ‘er done. Most of those challenges have to do with recipes, although Feb 1 was to clean off the tops of the kitchen cabinets. OMG, what a mess! I tossed a ton of foil pans that I’ve had for over a decade and never used. I found a valentine cookie pop pan, just in time. I put all my melamine Christmas dishes in a garage sale box, along with various vases, pitchers, and teapots I don’t like. I also decluttered and cleaned my kitchen hutch and the top of my fridge while I was at it. Go me!

The challenge for Feb 3 & 4 is to gather, sort, and organize recipes. Feb 5 is to declutter cookbooks. That one was easily done, as I owned exactly three small ones, of which I used exactly zero. All three went into the garage sale box. I use allrecipes.com for just about everything that I haven’t come up with on my own, and even though I tend to modify the recipes from the site, I do refer to it for the basics of various recipes. I keep promising my kids that I will write my recipes down so they can have them, so maybe that will be my personal challenge for February.

We got everything done in about 45 minutes. I put off dusting the cabinet tops until the counters are cleared, otherwise I’ll have a big muddy mess that will make for more work. I stuck a pin in it though, so I know to go back to that part of the task. This evening, I’ll sit down and type in the few paper recipes that I have floating around in my junk drawer. I think the only thing in there that we use is for flourless peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.

Although my kitchen is still quite the disaster, it’s only noon! I had to rest for a bit and I have an appointment with my rheumy this afternoon, but Matt will continue while I’m gone. Our goal is to get the kitchen completely emptied so we can do a deep cleaning. I desperately need a plumber to come replace the pipes under the sink and install a new garbage disposal, but I’m too embarrassed to have anyone come stick their head in that scary spot even if I am paying them. Fortunately, I have a great plumber, so I don’t have to research for that. I promised my husband that I would have all the kitchen repairs done by the end of next week. That and a clean kitchen is his valentine and anniversary present (12 years on Friday, the 13th!).

The weekly challenge is to create a home recycling center and devise a routine to deal with trash. The first part of that is easy, as our city has a recycling program. Everything recyclable goes into a brown bin and trash goes in a blue one. We have two large bins in our kitchen; a black one for trash, a white one for recycling. They get emptied into the city bins every other day or so.

Devising a routine to deal with trash is the hardest out of all the current challenges for me. I am terrible about throwing away mail. One friend suggested keeping a trash bin on the front porch so the mail never comes in the house. That may be the solution, but I am going to work on putting it directly in the recycling bin the instant I bring it in the house, rather than setting it on the table to go through it later. As for the rest of the house, I just need to remind Matt to empty ALL the trash cans every other day, not just the kitchen trash.

Some of you may remember that last year at this time, Ron and I were on the verge of divorce, yet here we are a year later, more happily married than ever. Once we started communicating, he said that one of his issues was how messy and cluttered the house was. Over the last year, I’ve decluttered a lot and we’ve all gotten a LOT better at day to day stuff. But it’s still not CLEAN clean. He’s much happier with the way it is now, but I know it could be a million times better. My goal this year is to get it to the best it can be. We’re about to have our house to ourselves (just a few more months and then Matt is moving to the Seattle area!), and I want it to be fabulous.

Will my house ever look like Leigh’s? I doubt it. For one thing, she has access to things I don’t, since she regularly gets an influx of furniture for free (Bill owns a moving company and gets free stuff all the time). For another, she has skills I don’t have. She is an artist in every sense of the word. I have an eye for color. My hands don’t cooperate with my eyes the way hers do. That being said, I do have one resource…Leigh herself! So while I may never make it onto the cover of Good Housekeeping, I have hopes that this hideous crap shack will eventually be transformed into a super cute cottage with a functional kitchen and a second bathroom. Wish me luck!

Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing

Even as much as I try to enjoy the small things, sometimes I lose focus. This weekend started out with my being passive aggressive and bratty. Ron’s given me a smidge of a free pass because I’m about to have surgery on the 11th, and we’re not sure what’s going to happen with that. The plan is for a relatively minor ovarian cystectomy and a double salpingectomy. When my previous OB/GYN did my hysterectomy, he left my tubes; now they are full of fluid and have to come out.

What’s funny is that I switched doctors because my old one wouldn’t take my ovarian concerns seriously. Because he also took my cervix, there’s no way to reach in and palpate the ovaries, making it difficult to screen for cancer. While I’m not at high risk, other cancers run in my family so I try to be vigilant. My new doctor agreed that I needed a more thorough exam because I do have abdominal pain, although I tend to attribute that to my interstitial cystitis. I am ALWAYS in abdominal pain. Just to be on the safe side, she ordered an ultrasound and found all the little issues.

Of course, just because the plan is for minor surgery doesn’t mean she won’t find other stuff while she’s in there. My right ovary is scarred and looks like a battlefield. My doctor suspects I may have endometrial adhesions. The cyst is on my left ovary. She’s committed to saving my ovaries if possible, but if not, it’s instant menopause for me. Between the post-op pain, recovery period, and possible hormonal fluctuations, I’m worried about how and for how long this will affect my sex life.

Ron’s been feeling burnt out lately and decided to take a couple of days off, giving him a four day weekend. I wanted to slip away to a B&B, no kids, dogs, work, knit groups (dire, I know!), or housework; just us, a big fluffy bed, and food delivered in. Ron said no, especially since we’re going off to New Mexico for a few days this fall. I pouted and moped for most of the first three days, railing against the unfairness of it all. Poor me, right?

Of course, if we’d gone away, I would have missed out on Matt losing his keys, tearing the house apart, then finding them on top of a bookcase about a foot above his head (he put them there). I would have missed Aubrey spending the night on Saturday and fixing pancakes with Ron on Sunday morning, then watching Aub shovel them in her mouth in giant quarters. I wouldn’t have enjoyed Ron bringing me wine and making me rest while he did dishes and laundry. There would have been no ridiculous dinner prep conversation, one of my favorite times of the day. Pinky wouldn’t have had a bath, and I wouldn’t have seen her prancing around like a puppy, all excited to be clean and brushed.

Life happens in the day to day stuff. Feeding the kids, washing the dog, cooking meals. Ron still managed to sneak in plenty of alone time, in spite of all the other goings on… and I didn’t miss a thing.

Fade To Black

Yesterday was my first Thursday night knitting group. Several of us from my Sunday group decided to start one on our side of town, just so we’d have something midweek. While I was there, my mom called me twice, but my phone was in my bag and on silent. Matt’s like a toddler whose mom goes to the bathroom: they can be fine for hours and hours, but the instant mom has to pee, they suddenly NEED attention. Yup, Matt does the same thing to me while I’m knitting.

Anyway, I called my mom thinking she wanted to ask/tell me something about my step-dad’s birthday party on Sunday. Instead, she told me my dad died. Technically, he was also my step-dad, but he adopted me when I was a toddler, so he was the only dad I really knew. He was a pretty shitty one, and I hadn’t talked to him for at least four years. Now I’m trying to process and getting nowhere, because I just don’t feel anything. No sadness, no regret, nothing. At the most, I feel bad that I didn’t have the kind of dad, or the kind of relationship with my dad that would make me sad that he’s dead.

I never met his new wife. I haven’t talked to my sister in seven years. It’s been even longer since I talked to my aunt, after she screwed me over on my inheritance from my grandmother (which my dad did nothing about…but I’d already stopped talking to him long before that point). The only reason my mom even found out was because a friend ran into a friend who knew a friend who saw my dad while he was in hospice. My mom wasn’t even sure what day he died, but it was sometime this week.

Maybe I’ll feel something later, though I doubt it. I spent decades getting past the not so lovely job my parents did. I look around at my life now, my wonderful husband, amazing children, and good friends, and I am grateful for what I have, but… On the plus side, I’m obviously past all my anger issues, because I’m not happy that he’s dead. I used to dream of dancing on his grave, but that mostly went away by the time I hit thirty-something.

I’ve tried to think of the good things, and can only come up with six. He taught me to snorkel. He stayed in the hospital with me when I had my tonsils out. He got my tuition refunded when I had to stay in the hospital for a week with a kidney infection while I was pregnant with Matt. He went to as many of Matt’s football games as he could and taught me about football. He taught me how to make spaghetti.

That’s my eulogy.

What Love Is

I have a cold. There’s not much in this world that is worse than a summer cold in Texas, except for having a summer cold in Texas on top of fibromyalgia. My head feels like a thousand pounds, my neck and shoulders ache, and everything in my body hurts. On top of all that, I somehow ended up in an interstitial cystitis flare that makes that whole Texas cold thing seem like a longed for Christmas gift.

IC is a chronic inflammation of the bladder. When I first started researching for treatments, one doctor at Tufts University was using hydroxyzine pamoate in a clinical trial. The brand name is Vistaril, and although it is technically an antihistamine, it’s mainly used to treat anxiety. His theory is that IC is caused by an overgrowth of mast cells; in other words, it’s like an overblown allergic reaction in the bladder. At the time, everyone thought he was pretty crazy and no one outside of Boston was following the protocol. He got the last laugh though, because it’s now one of the standard meds for IC.

Recently, I added benadryl to my regimen along with the hydroxyzine because it just wasn’t cutting it alone anymore. The benadryl seemed to be working fine, and when I ran out of my hydroxyzine, I upped the benadry to make up for it, and I didn’t have any problems…until Tuesday night.

I’m almost positive that my cold has screwed with my bladder, considering a cold sets off a histamine reaction in the body (hence the sneezing and runny nose). It’s not like that stuff decides to just screw with your nasal passages and sinuses. It attacks everywhere. By Tuesday night, I was hurting, but it wasn’t unbearable. I took some pain meds, an extra benadryl, and drank a bunch of water to clear out my bladder, then went to bed.

I got about an hour or so of sleep before the nightmare started. I woke up to my entire urinary tract spasming. If you’ve ever had a urinary tract infection, you’ve got a vague idea. Now imagine that you are trying to give birth through your urethra. It feels like a combination of desperately having to pee while having excruciating labor pains. Except labor pains come in waves with at least a minute between them. IC spasms just keep going. and going. and going.

I got out of bed to take more benadryl, and added in a couple of other pain meds. Then I laid in bed and rocked. I sat in bed and rocked. I sat on the edge of the bed and rocked and tried not to scream. I stood up next to the bed and cussed under my breath so I wouldn’t wake up Ron. I rocked and cried and finally, I took one of my knock-out pills in an attempt to just sleep through the pain.

The next morning, I told Ron about my miserable night and he said, “Why didn’t you take any AZO?” AUGH! Why *didn’t* I take any AZO? I could have sent Matt to get some hours before. I told him we didn’t have any, but I would wake Matt up and send him. Ron was running late for work, but by the time I got Matt up, Ron had already texted him to say he had the AZO and was on his way back home.

My sweet, sweet, wonderful husband (who is NEVER late to work) stopped at the store just to get the AZO and brought it to me right away, just so I wouldn’t be in pain any longer than necessary. Pay attention people. This is what love is.

Today I’m sore and achey, but it’s not excruciating. I feel like someone kicked me in the abdomen with steel toed boots, and I still feel like I have to pee every second, but I’ll take the small favors.

That’s What Friends Are For

I know it’s been a while, but with all the anti-feminist crap going on in the world, I’ve been too livid to write anything. Today is really the first day that I’ve been able to really organize my thoughts without being spitting mad. I’m still angry, but I’m not sputtering quite as much.

This blog post isn’t really meant to be a political statement (seriously, if it were, you’d have stopped reading by now, I’m sure!). This entire blog is about finding the happiness in crappy day to day situations, and that’s what this post is all about.

In the last two weeks, I’ve been unfriended, I’ve unfriended others, and I have been publicly vociferous. This is such a polarizing issue, but what has been awesome is that I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the friends who have come out as on our side. Considering the people that I’ve unfriended are generally not important to me, while the ones who surprise me ARE important to me, it makes me feel somewhat relieved about my friend choices.

I’ve also become friends with some really amazing people, both male and female. One thing that I’ve happily discovered is there ARE a few other liberal women in Texas, and they KNIT! While I usually hesitate to make generalizations, my limited personal experience is that the people I know who only crochet seem to be less intellectual than the people I know who knit. Perhaps that’s just a southern thing? I don’t know.

Last Sunday, our regular group was quite loud and angry while we knitted at a local Panera in a very Republican neighborhood. We were thrown dirty looks by little old white women, but as our militant quasi-leader said, “Life’s tough for everybody. Get over it.” She’s from the hippie generation, so she’s already fought this battle once before. That evening, I sent her a message on Ravelry asking if she’d be my roommate at next year’s fiber retreat and she said yes. I’m super excited to have a friend who not only knits, but has a doctorate and is a feminist.

For most of my life, I’ve felt really alone, especially in my adult life. While my husband and kids are fabulous and wonderful, and my daughter truly is one of my best friends, it’s not the same. It’s hard for a liberal woman in Texas to make friends, especially friends with similar interests. It’s been the main reason I’ve wanted to move to the northeast, where friendship comes easily. Suddenly, I find myself surrounded by like-minded women and it is glorious! It is definitely making my time in Texas more pleasant and way less depressing.

While Saudi America goes to shit and the Constitution dissolves before our very eyes and the Supreme Court ignores decades upon decades of precedent, logic, and reason, I’ve found the good. More importantly, I’ve found hope. I think that is what friends are meant to give us: hope. The feeling that we are not alone in this dark universe.

So screw Hobby Lobby. We are women, we are crafters, and we shop…but we don’t shop at Hobby Lobby. Even more than all that, we freakin’ VOTE. And there are more of us than I ever imagined.

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