Saturday, July 31, 2010

up and down

it is no longer a mystery vacation; ihave landed in gorham, nh. i have lots and lots of nice pictures to show you, but the wifi here at the motel won't support posting them.

today i got up in the morning and made my way slowly (by way of several geocaches) over to the mt. washington auto road. twenty-three dollars maybe seems too steep (unintended pun erased and then allowed to stand), but it was five different flavors of awesome and i ended up spending pretty much the whole day at it.

it turns out i'm still pretty exhausted on top of being in general not up to my best conditioning, so even though i didn't go for a long hike, it was plenty hike for me.

from the top of the mountain i walked a half mile down the tuckerman ravine trail as far as the crossover and then it was three-o'clock and time for my turnaround.

back up at the top i hung around for a while and only started down around quarter past five.

that's quite some road, the toll road.

on my way down for a while i had a guy from new jersey riding close on my butt. i can't figure out why. i'm in a line of traffic on a very steep twisty road and it seems prudent to me to leave plently of space between me and the car ahead, but i guess it's a matter of taste.

strikes me that if you're in a hurry to get somewhere, the mt. washington toll road is not for you.

talk to you later.

Friday, July 30, 2010

pharmacy phun

ok, so i've been released and my mom thinks it would be a good idea to send me on a bit of a mystey vacation.

i know, it sounds scary, but it's only a mystery vacaction because i haven't decided where i'm going yet. when i decide, my mom is picking up he tab, which will be very nice. get me away from home and have a little fun.

i'm taking neurontin again, or at least its generic version, gabapentin.

i used to take it a long time ago and it worked pretty well for a while and then (as so often happens with psychiatric meds) it stopped working for me. sometimes when meds stop being effective, a break of a few years will give it enough of a rest to make it effective again, and if you have a lot of useful meds available you can go through the rotation every so many years.

when neurontin stopped working for me was right about when i changed psychiatrists, which was right about the time that the justice department went after pfizer.

see, neurontin is the kind of drug (it's classed as an anti-seizure med) that has a lot of useful and sometimes unpredictable side effects, and one of its side effects is mood stabilization.

now, it's perfectly legal for doctors to prescribe medications for off-label purposes, but it is not legal for drug company reps to recommend these drugs to doctors for off-label purposes, so when it came out that the pfizer reps were recommending to doctors this potential goldmine of useful medication, the justice department went after them.

and my new psychiatrist wasn't all that anxious to pull out her scrip pad to write a new scrip for a drug that the justice department is all over, especially since it wasn't doing much for me.

so i stopped taking it.

now, of course, my choice is pretty much this drug or no drug and we don't know yet if it will help me. it's not very expensive, and i didn't have any bad side effects with it, so even if it doesn't work, it's worth a try.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

halfway home

well, if you're following my story it's pretty evident even if i don't tell you that i'm some kind of manic-depressive. the official diagnosis is bipolar I, rapid cycling.

a lot of the time i'm just fine or i'm just crazy around the edges, and even when i'm very crazy i have a very good assortment of coping skills and friends and family who take care of me and even when things get really bad usually all that happens is i need to be babysat for a day and then i take things easy for a day or two and then i return to being fine.

over the past few weeks, there's been no returning to fine. every couple of years i run into a patch like that. it's kind of complicated by my allergies to pretty much every drug that works, so that's difficult.

our operating assumption this far is that sometimes even with good supervision and management the illness gets the best of me and it needs a good thumping back before the cycling breaks and i regain my tenuous hold on sanity.

for now i'm living in a sort of halfway house which is a story in and of itself, and we're going to try a medication that i was on a long time ago (another story i'll tell you later) but for now the increased supervision seems to be doing the trick. i'm letting it be someone else's problem for a few days.

right now i'm out visiting my home, which is kind of instructive in terms of how stable i'm still not, but information is power. i'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

trip the light fantastic

it's been over ten years since i went to a contradance, and brain damage has taken a lot from me, so i wasn't sure how much i would or would not remember but somewhere in the last couple of weeks as i've been slowly sliding off into the deep end toward heavy antipsychotics, i got it into my head that i HAD to go to a contradance, and SOON.

if you know me or if you've been following along, you know that i am sometimes bothered by irresistible compulsions or sticky, insistent thoughts and some of them are harmless and some not. for instance, i am not capable of putting my left sock on first. i also sometimes really need to put my pants on both legs at once (you know the old expression?) and i do not think i am capable of starting the dryer without patting it twice.

in terms of compulsions, those are fairly benign and there's no use wasting valuable energy resisting them. why bother with the anxiety?

more serious is my compulsion to show up at EVERY tuesday night run and EVERY wednesday night mountain bike race, and while those compulsions are fairly severe, they fit into my overall fitness plan and also add to my stability and get me out with my friends on a regular basis.

there's no point resisting those compulsions, either.

and last week i got it into my sick little head that i HAD to go to a contradance but missed last saturday's dance at the montpelier grange because i was home crying for most of the night. and thursday i was so depressed i lay in bed for nine hours, too depressed even to cry and i didn't eat or drink and at some point thursday night i figured it was time to get out of bed and force myself to do things whether i felt like them or not.

so i went for a mountain bike ride with crashco in the afternoon and in the evening we went to the mad robin callers collective contradance at the shelburne town hall, which was about seven different kinds of awesome. the crashcos had never been contradancing and it had been a long time since i'd been and it turned out that with the brain damage it might as well have been my first time but everyone was very sweet and they took care of us graciously and shepherded us through the dances.

now, we are accustomed to racing mountain bikes and fancy ourselves to be in pretty good shape or at least up to an evening of dancing, but i will tell you that the racecourse has nothing on these people and i was worn right out and today i'm sore in muscles i didn't even know i had.

but the really great thing about a contradance (and this i remember from before the brain damage) is that it's not about you finding a partner or you and your partner, but you and everyone in the room, because you move in and out of the figures with everyone around you as you progress up and down the sets and in some of the dances you dance more with your neighbors than with your partner and it is a polite social mixing at its best.

it's an old, old tradition and it's so beautiful and balanced that when you stand to the side and watch it, you could almost cry, it's so perfect.

every dance has in it a moment of such stunning geometry or physics of orbit so that it just takes my breath away; the repetition of simple patterns progressing and varying at small intervals and oh, my goodness!

the last dance before we left i was partnered with a young man who was very good at the dance, very handsome, charming, and flirty.  not flirty with any significance or intent, but flirty in that very genteel old-fashioned not-going-anywhere way.

he could have had a girlfriend or wife right at the dance even, but while he was dancing with me, i felt like the only girl in the room, which is a lovely measure of social artistry.

he swung me fast through moves i could not quite comprehend and the room just spun around me and i thought my face would break from smiling too broadly and he asked me if it was too fast and i laughed and said no, it was all kinds of AWESOME and so he swung me harder and gave me an extra spin to boot.

Friday, July 23, 2010

the race that wasn't

wednesday afternoon i was sitting at home thinking about how much i didn't want to get my gear on and go race, how miserable the race was going to be and a whole other host of unpleasantness but i knew i was going to go because i go every week. it's what i do.

it's what my friends do. we do it.

every week, no matter what.

so the filthy pouring rain is coming down and i get into my race clothes. regular short sleeves, but full-fingered gloves and i get to the venue and it's not raining, but it's pretty clear it's going to rain and that the rain is going to start at about our start time (we do this enough that we have a very good idea what distant clouds will get us, and how soon) and the crashcos arrive and park next to me and we're joking about how it's going to be another night when it's not going to be pleasant enough to be fun, but not bad enough to confer bragging rights.

so we get all ready and head over to the start. we're noticing some pretty strong surface winds blowing roughly northeast and watching the cloud layer blow very fast kind of south-southeast, and we're noticing that a cloud somewhere not too far away has some pretty big lightning in it and we notice that but by bit there are fewer and fewer people lined up to take starts.

furthermore, we notice that some of the people lined up to take starts are the people who normally start a half hour later and go more laps than us, so it looks pretty much like nobody wants to go around more than once.

and two minutes from start time the sky opens up. the rain comes down to such a degree that now the mood of the last remnant of the racers changes from grumpy to ebullient as the rain comes on full force and the wind whips up and we realize that it IS going to be bad enough to brag about after all and that tonight's race is going to be about shared suffering and the finish will not be judged by time but by attrition.

and the starter comes down the hill, waving us off.

"go home!" he shouts, over the wind. and faster than an actual race start, the riders are off to the parking lot. there is a general mood of celebration! we do not have to ride! we are not sure why we all feel like celebrating this event, the cancellation of this race, a thing we supposedly love, but celebrate we do.

some of us celebrate by going for a different, longer ride in the rain, and some of us celebrate by trooping off to local restaurants. the crashcos and i take pictures of each other, and then we head down to the bridge street cafe, where everything on the menu looks really, really good.

granted, everything on the menu typically looks good, but on this night everything looks REALLY good and for some reason i'm craving RED MEAT so i have the honey chipotle BBQ burger with fries and i ask for vinegar for my fries but the BBQ sauce that comes with the burger is so good i mop it up with my fries and nuts to the vinegar.

i am totally in love with the onion rings that come as part of my burger, and when the people at the next table are done, i notice that the lady leaves two of these onion rings on her plate. we laugh for a while about how funny it would be to just lean over and ask "are you gonna eat that?" and then we laugh about how funny it would be to wait until they leave and then take them. we laugh about a few other scenarios and then we laugh HYSTERICALLY when crashco casually reaches over and snags the onion rings before the table gets bussed. he puts one on his plate, and one on mine.

we laugh some more.

and we eat them.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

running late

well, now that july is nearly over, i'm pleased to announce that i  have finally clocked my june photos.

if you're following along, you already know that i take a picture every thirteen hours, wherever i am, no matter what i'm doing. yesterday i got the brilliant (i thought) idea to compile some data about my daily activities based on the photos, now that i have six months of my life documented at handy thirteen hour intervals.

i guess i could make some cool charts or graphs and answer the question "what exactly do you do with your time?", as if anyone had asked.

still, while i'm compiling photos, it does give me pause. snapshot life is not life, and it is not the moments we think of. it is not all the best moments, nor is it the important moments, nor the moments we necessarily want others to see.

for better or for worse, here's june:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

here, kitty.

yesterday i had a CAT scan. it's about that mountain bike crash i had a month ago and from which i still have localized abdominal pain. we don't think i'm going to die from it, but we think maybe i could'a' hurt something and maybe we ought to check.

anyway, they don't want to give me the IV dye contrast, because not only do i have multiple drug allergies and fall in the high-risk group with regard to this dye, but i once had a severe reaction to IVP dye and although they wouldn't be using that exact dye today, it places me in the crazy high risk group for a deadly reaction, although they don't phrase it quite that way.

nobody has any worry about giving me a whole buncha vile quasi-banana flavored barium shake, and i have to drink two of them. it's not bad enough i have to drink them, but they want me to drink them slowly over the space of an hour, a half hour each, so chugging the horrid things to get them down while they're still cold and therefore less, uh, objectionable is out of the question.

i wanted to take a whole bunch of pictures of the machine for you, because if you are reading this blog you probably have at least a passing interest in things that interest me, and i am naturally attracted to big, clean looking machines (but phobic about big rusty, clanky ones), big smooth holes, things with buttons, whirly things, and things with patterns of lights.

an EEG is almost a dream come true for me. a CAT scan is still pretty cool.

if i'd have pressed the issue they may have let me take pictures of the machine, but i had already asked if i could keep an empty barium shake jar as a souvenir and i was already on their list of odd.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

down the road

here's the elevation profile of a trip from the church to my house:

last week i told you that i would test out a new toy and let you know if it was cool or not.

it is.

that "en" on the end is very important if you are an english speaker, because you will not enjoy sorting out the instructions in the main language of the site, which appears to be polish.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

li'l 'splosion

if you've been following along, you know i spent most of the month of may on the road. you may also know that i spent memorial day weekend in central new york, which is a place i like to be and when it came time to guess where i might touch down for the weekend and make reservations at a campground (try getting a free site or even a paid one on short notice), i guessed there.

of course i was wrong. i ended up in northern maine, but that gave me an opportunity to come home and tidy up a little and go out more leisurely, since i had reservations and everything.

and it was warm out there during the day. my ice held out and my cooler was cold except for a very brief period on monday, which is when the brand-new half gallon of milk curdled.

it did not go sour; it simply went largely solid, which was a little bit of a surprise to me, but i'm interested in this sort of thing and once kept a half gallon of milk unrefrigerated for many months and even moved it to a new home, finding a place to enjoy my "science experiment".

i guess if you have no real purpose and no real observations other than "huh. that's cool.", you can't really call it a science experiment. at some point my mom was tidying up here a few years ago and found it under the sink and threw it out.

"hey! where did my milk go?!?" i asked, irritated.
"what milk?"
"the jug under the sink."

i got that look that i assume moms everywhere give.

"it was a science experiment," i whined.

anyway, i had this brand-new jug of suddenly curdled milk and i didn't have the energy to dump it out so that it wouldn't clog the plumbing, so i just set it out on the porch figuring i could decide what to do with it later.

it sat there quite unremarkably until one day there was a loud POP and when i went out later i saw that the lid had blown off. it wasn't growing mold or anything, though, so i pretty much let it be and i have enjoyed watching its progress over the past several weeks as i go in and out of the house.

nothing to write home about; a lot of whitish clotty-looking stuff.

and then yesterday i went to put out some recycling and my whole front stoop was wet and smelled powerfully of expired cheese and there were bits of curd blown out on the lawn.

apparently it involved some fermentation and the thing had blown up quite spectacularly, jetting its water (whey?) out in some kind of geyser across the porch. i regret that i did not see the explosion, but i did manage to take pictures of the inside of the container, now once again peaceful.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

my streak is over.

i hold the all-time record for most consecutive last place finishes in the tuesday night running series at catamount, at twenty consecutive starts in the series and twenty consecutive last place finishes.

that's a season and a half of showing up to every race, running my best, and finishing last.

when i first believed i was the record holder in this category, i went back many years in the records to find that for the most part last place finishers or even those finishing in the last dozen places or so come every now and again, but they do not generally come every week.

two seasons ago i was last in every race.

then last season in the opener betty (who was 81 years old and had just run a marathon on sunday) slowed a little to let me finish ahead of her, not realizing she wasn't doing me any favor.

my streak was still good and running strong until last night when a woman finished behind me.

i do not think anyone will ever break my record, but i'm still sad to see my streak come to an end.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

pickled peas

i told you i'd write later about the peas.

there's a lot i keep telling you i'll write about and i promise i'll get to it sooner or later.

i was reading some blogs and it was wednesday night or thursday morning and i was therefore about to do my grocery shopping and i happened to see a recipe for pickled snap peas which i thought sounded very tasty and a nice thing to make with friends coming over for the weekend.

as other people have noted, although the recipe calls for the peas to pickle for a couple of weeks, they are nicely lightly pickled after only a couple of days, and very good.

here's the recipe if you're interested.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

liquid sunshine

don't ask me how "let's get together sometime next week to finish watching a movie we were watching" turned into five people coming for movie night, but somehow it happened and i'm really happy it's going to happen, but i'm still just a little confused.

the heat broke enough to cook, which is good because i got to do all the stove-using prep work before people get here, which in the summer is a good thing.

it's a good thing cr is bringing the pizzas.

but i'm making (have made) a really nice VERY dark chocolate mocha custard that verges on bitter, but the dish is lined with caramel, so it's velvety and you can manage the sweetness yourself.

there's also a little number with some pickled peas that i'll talk about later, but what i wanted to tell you about was the simple syrup. tomorrow i'm going to make a nice fresh lemon/limeade and i like to use a honey-based syrup and i had it in the pan and it was so beautiful and sunshiny that i took a picture of it for you.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

online toys

it will be no surprise to you that i like toys.

for today i'm giving you a little list of a few online timewasters toys that i like and wish to share with you.

click on these links at your own risk; and not if you're on deadline about anything.

is a little thingy that lets you play with sound and rhythm ans it is totally addictive.

play with color and movement! this guy has some other cool graphics toys you can play with, too.

do you suspect that the person you're arguing with is not just a whack-a-loon, but suffers from stupid, bad argument? you can brush up.

i think i have mentioned this one before. i never get tired of it, though.

make cool little stereograms. then get obsessed with them and buy an inexpensive piece of software that will allow you to put your entire life on hold while you play with creating them, even though you never really could get them to work for you.

kind of like that colorblind guy i used to know who was obsessed with the color blue.

he was also heavily schizophrenic, so he was likely at odd intervals to hold up an object suddenly and shout loudly "is this BLUE???"

i have another thing i found but i haven't played with it yet, so i don't know how it works. if it's cool, i'll let you know.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

yes, i do.

all right.

it's tuesday night and still too hot to sleep and maybe tonight's numbers are already posted but there's no use checking my time; i know i was slower than molasses on a january morning, but i didn't care because i didn't expect to do any better than just finish, which by the way makes my awesome streak just about unbeatable.

nobody will ever break my record: i now have twenty -TWENTY- consecutive last place finishes to my credit in this race series, which is pretty close to a season and a half of showing up to every one, running my little heart out, and coming in last.

it is a badge of honor.

but what i wanted to say is that i know some of you have looked at my profile. at least i don't remember looking at it that many times and maybe i have, but i think i'd remember that.

anyway, for some reason or another i looked at my profile a couple of days ago and i realized: that's quite a list of blogs i follow.

so to answer your question, or the question i imagine you might ask, yes, i do read them all. i read them, and i read others that don't show up on the list. every honkin' entry. if you have nice formatting or good pictures, i even click through to your site instead of reading it in reader.

and if one takes the time to sort through the endless sea of randomly scattered stuff, one discovers real live interesting people. regular people with interesting lives, or regular lives that are interesting because the story is written well, or there are nice pictures, or -who am i kidding?

we all like to look.

i used to work as a storyteller. what people liked was that point where i opened up my chest and showed them that little place where i keep my heart and i think we're all a little like that.

if i'm reading your blog, chances are that i stumbled onto it by accident, just reading random blogs. i do that. i don't think any of my real life friends keep blogs, and i don't twitter or facebook, so i maybe wouldn't know.

but when i look at your pictures of your flowers, or your vacation, or i read about your dog's latest trick or your bike ride in the rain or the cookies you made or the class you're taking, you are showing me that little place where you keep your heart.

i'm an outsider and i don't have the privilege if i meet you on a bus or in line at the grocery store, but sometimes i think because i'm reading your blogs, i am looking at the people on the street as if they may have lives just as beautiful and interesting as yours.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

barbecue pit

this is what i did today, along with the rest of the folks from the williston federated church.

i think the smell of barbecue won't come out of my nose until tuesday.


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