Archive | September 2010

Homework

I have an assignment in my English class that’s driving me nuts.  When it was first handed out, I thought that it would be simple–that the paper would be fun to write and pretty much write itself.

Yeah, not so much.

The paper is a personal narrative.  It’s supposed to encompass a single point in time, and have a point beyond “one time, I got bit by a shark.” type of deal.  My professor warned against doing anything too emotional, because people tend to get upset when they’re graded on the quality of their writing rather than the emotion that the story encompasses.

This paper is supposed to be descriptive–which is what I’m really stressing about.  I’m not one who’s prone to using purple prose (light lilac alliteration, on the other hand…)

So the story I want to tell is basically this:  When I was seven, we were at a family reunion on  Cedar Mountain.  My extended family is huge, to the point where amongst the first cousins alone, there are about 13 girls all born within about 5 years of each other, with my sister and I smack-dab in the middle of it

Photographic proof, even if this is taken several years after this story…

I’m on the right with the pink shirt, big glasses and even bigger hair.  Sis is on the left with the pink pants and white tee-shirt.  Ahhh, that awkward age.   Which has somehow followed me to the brink of my 30s.

Anyway, when I was seven, Something happened with this big group of girls, and I got irritated and offended, and decided I had had enough.  I wanted to be alone, and needed to find a place to hide.  I was smart/well-trained enough to know better than to go wandering off in the woods by myself.  I could go to our camp trailer, but Mom would be in and out, and that would probably be the first place anybody would look for me.  While I loved (and still do) my extended family, I didn’t feel comfortable hiding in someone else’s tent or vehicle.  And so, the only logical place was the back of Dad’s pick-up truck.

This has nothing to do with my story, except to show that I’ve always been a little off.

The truck had a camper-shell on the back, so it wasn’t obvious to the casual observer that there was a little girl hiding in there.  I had a book, and a few toys, and the truck had a mattress in the bed, along with lots of blankets, where my sister and I could sleep.  I contented myself with reading and playing.

I don’t know how long I was there before I realized that people were starting to call me.  I ignored them, because my feelings were hurt because of what my cousins had done, or hadn’t done, and I thought they wanted to tease me some more.

Eventually, I fell asleep.  I woke up slightly when the truck started moving, but I was still smarting from whatever slight may or may not have happened, so I didn’t let the driver, my dad know I was there, and fell back asleep.

yeah, just… yeah

The next thing I knew, Dad was waking me up, and pulling me out of the back of the truck.  Night had fallen–and it was mid-afternoon when I went to hide.   All the aunts and uncles and cousins were standing around, and I was informed that everybody had thought I was lost (I was incensed by that.  I didn’t get lost, I knew exactly where I was the whole time.) that’s why they were calling me.  Dad had taken the truck out to look for me, and they were on their way to the ranger station to report a missing child when my cousin Seth (just older than the gaggle of girls) noticed my hair in the back of the truck.

I just can’t quite seem to get things right…

Simple enough, right?  Except I can’t stretch it to make it the length of the paper required, and I’m having a hard time tying in the “moral” of the story.

I know a lot of this has to do with the fact that I didn’t do as well as I expected on my last paper, I’m stupidly upset because I only got a B+, not to mention the fact that I had a panic attack before class last week, and ended up having to run out of the classroom in tears.  And a big part of the problem is that I feel like I shouldn’t be having a problem writing this paper.

Anyway…

I’ve been so stressed out by this, that I’ve been losing sleep.  This morning at 3am, after tossing and turning for a couple of hours, I decided to start cleaning my bathroom.  After de-cluttering and washing the counter-top and sink, I went back to bed and fell asleep.  Today, when the stress got to be too much, I cleaned the bathroom floor.  At that point, I figured I might as well do everything else–so I scrubbed the toilet and tub as best I could (I need a pumice stone to really get things clean, but I don’t want to go shopping just for that) got the bath mats washed, and even washed the walls (gasp!).

I’m still stressing about my paper, but I feel really good about getting the bathroom cleaned–if not spotlessly, then at least to the point where I wouldn’t be embarrassed to have my grandmother see it.   Instead of the mystery smells that tend to come with dogs, neighbors and two roommates who both like to cook, my house smells like Mr. Clean.  It’s really rather soothing.

Now, if only I can get this stupid paper written…

Fighting Perfection

Last week, Dan Pearce from over at Single Dad Laughing posted an amazing entry called “The Disease Called Perfection“.  I came across both his post, and subsequently his blog yesterday after one of my friends posted a link to it on Facebook.

Today, Dan followed it up with a post titled “The Cure for Perfection“.  In it, he begins what he calls “The Perfection Project” where he encourages his readers to share the biggest mistake, trial or struggle they’ve ever survived, and how it changed them.

It struck me that I’ve turned into a terrible hypocrite.  When I started this blog, I told myself that having major depressive disorder is nothing to be ashamed of, and, maybe if I’m completely honest with what I’m experiencing on a daily basis, as well as what I’ve gone through in the approximately 20 years since I was diagnosed, then maybe I can help someone else.   True, there are things, like the Experiment, that are still too painful to talk about, but on the whole, I planned to be completely honest.

Then, being completely honest, life happened.  I got concerned about appearing perfect.  Certain family members kept telling me that “it’s not very nice to read” when I write about being depressed.  Well, no, it’s not.  It’s not very nice to be me when I’m in a low point.  I write about it because it’s a) therapeutic, and b) because if nothing else, maybe I can let someone else who’s brain doesn’t work right know that they are not alone in their suffering.

I wish I had someone let me know that I wasn’t alone in my suffering years before it actually happened.

A good part of my anxiety is, I think, linked to the ideal of perfection.  I was talking to a psychologist recently, and mentioned my anxiety and agoraphobia.

“What are you afraid of?” she asked me.

“People”  I said.  “There might be people [at church/in the movie theater/at Wal-Mart]”

“What is it about being around people that makes you anxious?”

I couldn’t answer that, but upon reading Dan’s post, it hit me–it all has to do with the fear that I might say or do something that will reveal to the world that I’m not perfect.

Logically, I know how stupid that is.  Just looking at me–I’m more than 100 lbs overweight, I rarely do my hair and almost never wear makeup, people can tell that I’m not perfect.   And besides that, perfection is boring. Perfect is annoying. Think about fiction–books or movies or TV shows.  Think of a character who always says and does the right thing at the right time.  You hate that guy, right?   I do.

Our flaws are what make us real.  Being less than perfect is what makes us human.

I guess we all need to be reminded of that.

I know I do.

Blogging? do I still do that?

What?  It’s been  more than a week since my last post?  How’d that happen?

Somehow, now that I have class and studying and junk, and my mind is filled with things other than the randomosity that makes blogs worth updating.

It hasn’t helped that this last week has been difficult, what with the car trouble and the panic attacks and the freaking out because I “only”  got a B+ on my English paper (who’d’ve thought that I’d ever be one of those people)… oh, wait, that was all on Friday and Saturday.   What’s my excuse for the rest of the week?

So, yes, I’m still alive.  I’ve just been trying to avoid spreading the crazy around too much.  ‘Cause it’s been the bad kind of crazy, the kind that makes my mom call therapists and set up appointments for me without my knowledge or consent  (Kidding!  Mom, it was a joke!) not the good kind that makes me (hopefully) worth reading.

Speaking of spreading the crazy around…for some reason, WordPress wants me to add the tag “War on Terrorism” to this post.

I wonder what side it thinks I’m on?

The effects of a caffeine deprived mind on the artwork of Arnold Friberg

I made a decision yesterday.  I was wondering if my massive panic attack earlier in the week was aggravated by caffeine, so I decided to cut out caffeinated beverages for a while and see if it helps me calm down.

In retrospect, it might not have been wise to make that decision the night before my 8 o’clock  Saturday morning class.

I realized this at about 2 o’clock  last night, when my neighbor’s apartment kept blowing up.

Now, I realize that I have dogs, and they tend to bark when I’m not around to shush them, so I feel like I have to be tolerant of noisy neighbors, but really–if you’re going to turn on a loud, action-packed movie at midnight, please be aware that just because it’s Friday night doesn’t mean that you don’t have neighbors that need to get up early the next morning.   The worst part was I’m not even sure which neighbor it was–there didn’t seem to be any difference if I had the windows closed or open.

Long story short, er, shorter, I missed my class this morning.  My alarm went off, and, in a state of half-wakefulness, I turned it completely off.

Now, not all was lost, here.  I would have forced myself out of bed, but my Art History Professor teaches the same class I have from 8 am to 10:30 am again from 10:35 to 1:15ish, so I made it to the second class–she did tell us we could do that, as long as we let her know we are enrolled in the 8am class.

I have to say, much to my surprise, I think I prefer the 8 am class.  I like the students more, at any rate–if you’re going to drag yourself out of bed to go and sit in a darkened room to listen to a lecture about the difference between ionic and doric columns  at 8am on a Saturday, it’s because you really want to be there.  If you make it at 10:35 on that same Saturday, well–I noticed more people falling asleep and goofing off in the later class then I generally see in the earlier class.

Plus I missed the cute (but unfortunately married) redhead that sits in one row over and two seats up from where I usually sit.

As I was making my way to class this morning, I was laughing at myself.  I’m an art major.  I was going to an art class.  I kept seeing signs pointing the way to the “Friberg Event”.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I knew this was probably an exhibit of the works of Arnold Friberg, who taught us that the prophets in the Book of Mormon were all 350 pounds of pure muscle.  (I’m not seeing anything on the UVU website to either confirm or deny this suspicion)  but I was also reflecting that “Friberg Event” sounds like an astronomical anomaly first observed or described by someone named Friberg.

Yeah.  I know.

Aftermath

It’s been a strange, rough day.

I’m still feeling the effects of the panic attack yesterday–I was able to go out to make it to class, and to get some grocery shopping done, but besides that…

I’ve spent the day alternately crying, and hyperventilating.

This is really strange, because sleep is a giant ‘reset’ button for me, if I get a good night’s sleep (which I did, once I managed to fall asleep at about 3am) whatever I’m dealing with emotionally seems to melt away–at least, the emotional stuff that comes from inside my head.

I’m so tired of being a crazy person.  I hate the way my brain and emotions betray me.  I hate that I’m doing everything I should to make it better, and it’s not helping.  And mom, I don’t need to hear that it’s time to go back to see a therapist.  I can’t afford it, and I don’t want to make you pay for it.

Above all, I wish I could understand why, in the past three years or so, my depression has turned into more of an anxiety disorder.

And I wish I could make it go away.

Panic

I passed an important milestone today–I had my first bona fide panic attack since starting school.  Yay?

I’ve talked about how nervous I’ve been about going back, but it’s been more of a “I feel so out-of-place” nervousness, not a “if you come any closer I’m going to hurt you” nervousness.

The really strange thing is said panic attack didn’t happen while I was getting ready to go to school, commuting to school, at school, commuting back from school, driving to Salt Lake to see my family, while I was with my family, or driving home from seeing the family.  No, this particular panic attack chose to strike just as I was going to bed.   So now I’m too freaked out to go to sleep, thus the updated blog.

The really crappy thing is I can usually pin-point the trigger of my anxiety, not so much today.  I don’t think it’s school–I’m not going so far as to say I’m over being nervous about school, but I don’t have anything overly stressful happening right now.  It could be family issues–Mom and Dad were in Salt Lake to consult with a doctor, who told them to come back on Monday, then again on Thursday (I like to drive, but I’m glad I’m not doing all that chasing.)

The most likely culprit I can find is money.  And not even real money, I’m talking hypothetical money–the money I’m saving to make a big-ish purchase hopefully before the end of the semester.  You know, the kitty that only has $25 in it?   The one that I’d like to see grow to at least $200 before I make a firm decision on which of the three technology-based items I’m considering would be the wisest purchase?

Yeah…

On an unrelated note, I’ve discovered something quite encouraging to me.  I’ve discovered on the days that I’m not updating the blog, I’m writing, or attempting to write, actual stories.   So, I feel less guilty about not updating every day, because (and please don’t go through the archives and find where I’ve stated anything differently) the whole point of “The Storyteller Chronicles” isn’t to post every day, it’s to get me to write every day.  Somewhere in the past few months, the distinction between the two got lost on me.

Geeking Out

Dear Brain:

I thought we were going to do better about blogging, right?  What happened?

Ahem.

So, I made a couple of vaugely disturbing discoveries about myself since the last time I wrote.  Don’t worry, Mom, nothing you didn’t see coming.

The first one came after tripping over half a dozen dog toys between my computer desk and the bathroom door.  I’ve turned into the crazy dog mom.

Well, okay, not really.  What’s happened is I’ve discovered that for all the money I spend on toys, Max likes the ones I make better, so I’ve made a couple of toys for him, and re-purposed some others.  I’ve been dabbling with the idea of opening an Etsy shop to sell hand-made dog toys, but I’m not sure enough that it would be profitable to actually take that plunge.   Either way, I’ve made a lot of toys lately, and Max is in heaven.

The second discovery is me basically throwing off any notions I have of myself being anything less than a geek.  See, my sister lent me a couple of her old textbooks, one on medical ethics and one on environmental responsibility, to help me research an English paper I have to write.   While I’ve used the books as research, I’ve been enjoying just reading them.  It struck me as a bit absurd, yesterday, that I’m 200 pages into a textbook that I don’t have to read because I find is incredibly fascinating.   Sure, it’s ten years out of date, and things have changed since Sis took those classes, but it has me thinking, which should be the ultimate goal of everything I do, right?

So, yeah.  Things have been pretty quiet for me, at least.  I’m clinging to the idea that that is a good thing–blog fodder not withstanding.

Hypochondria and other adventures

The problem with knowing that you are a hypochondriac is that it’s often difficult to know where there’s an actual medical emergency, or if your worst case scenario drive is kicking in.

This morning, for instance.  I ran down to my car to get the crock pot that has been sitting in the trunk since Easter (the trunk of my car is a little like a black hole.  Once something goes in, there’s a good chance it’ll never come out again).  The dogs were acting like they needed to come out too, so I brought them along to attend to their own needs.

Whatever happened to Lulu happened while I had my back to her, so I don’t know what it was.  All I know is that I turned around, and she wasn’t using one of her front paws.  I tried to examine it to see if there was a piece of glass or a splinter of a bee sting in it, but she whimpering and crying and wouldn’t let me look at it.

After picking her up the first time, she didn’t want to walk (not that I can blame her, poor girl,) so I ended up carrying both her and the crock pot upstairs.  Upon reaching the safety of our house, she relaxed a bit, but was still not using her paw, and trying to follow me around while I got ready for class, with a “mommy make it better” look on her face.

After watching her for a bit, I decided that I needed someone a little less hysterical than myself, so I called both Mom and Sis to ask for advice–I didn’t want to call a veterinarian because I knew they’d say to bring her in.  Sis said take her to the vet just to be sure, but maybe wait until after class.  Mom reminded me of my limited funds, and counseled waiting for a few days.   While I was on the phone, Lulu started putting more weight on her foot, and moving around a little better–even if she was still whimpering and limping.

So, off to class, then back home again.   And guess who greeted me at the front door happy and bouncy and ready to play?

that's my girl.

Her paw looks fine, it’s not swollen at all, and she’s letting me handle it.

So, I have no idea what happened, except that I had my own little mini freak-out.   All in all, Lulu handled the whole situation better than I did.

And Max just sat back and laughed at the both of us.

Cooking with Children

For all my talk about doing better on the blogging thing, I still missed yesterday.

But then, I didn’t really have access to a computer and time at the same moment, so there’s that…

Anyway, the bread was a huge success–to the point where we’re going to make some more today–the batch wasn’t big enough to satisfy me, my sister’s family, and still have enough to share with my sister’s neighbor from Winnipeg.

The whole rye berries–well, cracked would have been better, but oh well.

G had a lot of fun “helping” make bread, even when I wouldn’t let him stand on the counter any more.  Even though he’s a confirmed carnivore–no  superfluous starch products for that kid!  He was excited to taste it, and even more excited to make some more today.

So, here’s the recipe with my adjustments, and what I’m planning to do today:

Winnipeg Rye Bread:  The Cori Version

1/3 c rye berries

1/3 c water

Soak the rye in the water until it is absorbed (I honestly don’t know how long this took.  Somewhere between one and three hours.  I’m upping this to 2/3 c for today’s batch)

3/4 c milk

1 c water

1 tsp salt

1/4 c packed brown sugar

1 egg

3 Tbs butter

4 Tbs gluten

1 3/4 Tbs active dry yeast

Mix together until blended

1/3 c rye four (’cause I have a bunch that needs to be used)

4ish cups flour

Starting with the rye, slowly add the flour until the dough comes together.  Knead.  Let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.  Punch down, let double again.  Form into two loaves, place on a baking sheet, and let rest for 10 minutes.  Bake at 350º f for 30 minutes.

I decided yesterday that I need to talk to G when I’m hesitant about going to church–except his ward starts before mine, so I can’t just call him…

However, upon finding out that I didn’t make it to church yesterday, he told me “You need to go to church.  You have lots of friends at church.  Like Aunt Cori, and pickles, and cinnamon toast, and Jesus, and fish, and dogs…”

Wry Bread

White rye-type bread

Image via Wikipedia

A very odd thing has happened.  Upon going back to school, and being asked to think all day long, I all of a sudden don’t have anything on my mind worth blogging about.  Unless, you know, y’all want to hear how I applied what I learned in my art history class this week to the little toy my nephew brought home from a friend’s birthday party.

So, I’m sorry I’ve been slacking on my blogging duties.  I will do better, I promise.

And now, on to the post.

If you ever find yourself in the Prairie Provences of Canada, first of all, I’m deeply sorry. (I say this as someone who loves the cities of Winnipeg and Saskatoon, and would move to either place in a heartbeat.  I just don’t particularly want to vacation there.)   Secondly, get yourself to a local bakery that sells a delectable treat known as Winnipeg rye bread.

Winnipeg rye is lighter than regular rye bread, and doesn’t contain the spicy caraway seeds, but it’s still hardier and tastier than white bread.

Once I set my mind to finding a recipe for Winnipeg rye, it didn’t take long (like this one, posted at food.com).  I didn’t take the time to compare the half-dozen or so recipes that I’ve found online, but I did think it was interesting that they were all “converted for bread-maker use”.

Having found a recipe, I began my search for ingredients–namely cracked rye and gluten.  Granted, this wasn’t a very active search, more of looking for specialty flours whenever I was at a new grocery store.

Last week, while doing my grocery shopping, I discovered rye flour in the bulk bins of a newish store that I’m still trying to decide if I like.  Because it had been a while since I had last looked at the recipe, I figured rye bread needs rye flour.  After working myself into a tizzy at the prospect of making my favorite bread, I pulled up the recipe to discover–no, not rye flour, cracked rye.

Crap.

So, never mind the past six years that I’ve been without Winnipeg rye, I decided that I MUST find cracked rye as soon as possible.

In talking to my sister earlier this week, she commented that it had been too long since we had seen each other (a whole week and a half!) and she thought I needed to come up.  I agreed, and headed up to her house after school this morning.   After abandoning G to the care of the Brother-in-law, (alas, he didn’t think that he could take both boys and still help his father with the project they were working on) we loaded the baby in the car and went on a wild goose chase across the Salt Lake Valley to find cracked rye.

Long story short–we didn’t find the cracked variety, but I did manage to get whole rye berries.  I also discovered that ‘miller‘ is not a viable career option for me.

Especially, you know, when trying to mill the seeds of my biggest allergenic foe.  It’s been two hours since we put away Sis’s wheat grinder, and the tightness in my lungs is just beginning to loosen up.

And I still didn’t manage to crack the rye.  So, I’m going to try it with my non-cracked but slightly scratched rye.

After church tomorrow, I’m going back to Sis’s house, mostly because she wanted to be involved in my bread project.  Which is fine, because it means that I’m not the one who has to clean the kitchen in preparation–although I better mention that I’m planning on cleaning up afterwards, if for no other reason than to keep Mom from getting mad at me.

I really do intend to do the clean-up tomorrow.  Really.

So, if things turn out, expect to see the un-converted bread maker recipe tomorrow.  And, if it doesn’t turn out, I’m sure I’ll have a good story then, too.

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