Seasons and Scarves

Back in February of 2018 I did something that I’d toyed with for a very long time – I started covering my hair. (Note: I typically cover tichel-style, not hijab-style.) I can’t really explain why I did that, or what I was hoping to achieve. Some of it was playing with beauty expectations. Some of it was an acknowledgement of the ritual and spiritual work I was doing. Some of it was because I’d followed Wrapunzel for years and been interested in scarves and covering and just finally got up the guts to try it out.

Altogether, though, it’s been an interesting process and one that I’ve gotten a great deal of satisfaction out of. I’ve flown with my head covered (no shaper), driven across the country, gone to Jury Duty – it’s just been my life.

And then, suddenly, sometime around last fall, I stopped. Part of that was because I was doing yoga, and it’s hard to do yoga with more than a very basic scarf on. Also I was feeling a lot of pressure to “blend in” at my yoga studio (which… is problematic but that’s a story for another day), and that meant looking as much like everyone else as possible – which didn’t include scarves except as loose flowy wraps that accentuated how boho my style was (eyeroll). Anyway, from yoga and then to a couple of trips where I wasn’t feeling up to covering and then I was only wearing scarves when I was getting “dressed up” to go places.

That lasted close to a year, with my scarf wearing dropping to maybe 30% of the time at some points.

And then… all of a sudden, a few weeks ago, I got dressed and put a scarf on again. It felt right to do so – probably again as a symbol of my increasing spiritual and sovereignty work. I’ve always covered sporadically at home, but now I’m back to scarfing-up most days, even getting out some of my bigger shapers for that poofy look that I love so much.

I even ordered a few solid, DYT Type 4 colored scarves, one of which I’m wearing today. Bold hues look great on me, and I’ve settled into a few styles (crown wrap, shira tails, fan wrap) that I think are most flattering.

Will it last forever? Who knows! But right now covering feels better than not covering, and it definitely lets me get away with bad COVID hair, so there’s that too.

Saying Goodbye to a Piano

I’ve played the piano since I was 5, though I haven’t played in the last almost 15 years. For complicated reasons. But this winter I decided to try to play again, and it turns out that the piano I learned on is no longer able to be maintained as a playable instrument. It’s 100 years old, and that’s just longer than a factory made piano is really meant to be in service.

So I made an appointment, set a date to have it hauled away and disposed of, and they’re on their way.

This morning I sat down as best I could, and (quietly) played the bits I could still play of Gerswin’s 3 Preludes for Piano (and cried a little). It wasn’t much, it’s been a long time, but it’s the one piece I used to be able to play that I most miss playing. Listen to it this morning for me? (I mean, if you hate Gershwin, don’t listen of course.)

Farewell, my old friend. Your service has been faithful for almost 100 years. May you always be remembered.

“Just One” Tabbouleh Salad

Note: I make my tabbouleh with quinoa, because I like it better and because it’s gluten free. You can easily use whatever your preferred grain is for this!

Tabbouleh is a staple in my kitchen in the warmer months – made with quinoa, it’s a complete meal, it’s cold and refreshing, full of vegetables, and vegan! (Which is always useful when you have a vegan best friend!) This is not a recipe that I got from anywhere, but one that kind of evolved over time. It’s a pretty lazy recipe too. You need “just one” of everything.

  • One bunch scallions/green onions, finely chopped
  • One pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • One large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
  • One bunch mint, finely chopped
  • One bunch parsley, finely chopped
  • One cup uncooked quinoa, prepared
  • Salt, lemon juice, olive oil to taste

Basically you cook the quinoa and then toss it in the fridge to cool. While it’s cooling, chop up everything else. Dump it all in a big bowl, season, and it’ll keep for several days in the fridge.

I like it best the second day, after the flavors have melded.

The Anxious Scroll

I saw a thing on a Vlogbrothers video recently, where Hank was making his usual Friday video for John and it was 2am and he was doing a lot of what he called “the anxious scroll“. I feel that so hard right now. I’m an anxious bunny on the best of occasions (it’s one of the reasons I identify so much with bunnies – all bunnies are, as prey animals, a little on the hypervigilant side).

But recently I find myself staring aimlessly at the computer, scrolling through but not really actually absorbing anything, simply feeding and amplifying the weird cognitive dissonance that stretches between the fact that my day-to-day life is really largely the same today as it was a month ago, and yet also that there is this unmitigated global emergency going on, and it’s affecting people I know. I have a coworker in the ICU in New York. Hell, the telehealth line says I had the stupid virus myself (and that sucked a lot, even if I did bounce back from it).

This is going to be part of my lexicon from now on, because it really does talk to how I’m feeling and how I’m (badly) coping with everything.

Are you doing the anxious scroll too?

Balance versus Perfection

So I tend to be the kind of person who has two speeds – 0 and 110. There is no in-between, it’s all-or-nothing. This is how I can be a person who so desperately craves order, stability, and tidiness and still have a messy apartment. If I can’t do EVERYTHING, I just don’t do ANYTHING, and then I marathon clean.

Through the years I’ve tried a number of “methods” for dealing with this. Some, like FlyLady, made me absolutely batshit, from the gender essentialism and the Jesus talk to the idea that I should be spending 15 minutes 3-5 times a day cleaning… it wasn’t a good fit. Especially now that I work from home. Some, like The Organized Mum Method (TOMM), were clearly designed for someone who wanted to be cleaning way more than I do, and who was working around little kids as the primary caregiver (though with less gender essentialism, thankfully).

The only one that’s ever really made a dent is UnFuck Your Habitat, by Rachel Hoffman. Hoffman makes no bones that cleaning kind of sucks, but that everyone has to do it. She vehemently speaks out against gender bullshit, actively advocates for those of us with mental health issues, and is generally speaking someone whose advice I have gotten a lot of good from.

The problem? It still relies on my doing a little bit of something every day, and while I’m slowly getting better at that, I’m still not good at it.

Enter my current life situation – I’m moving on May 9. That’s 66 days from today – nine weeks from Saturday. And I’m kind of thoroughly ensconced in this little apartment, and the place I’m moving to is smaller and has less storage, so I’m needing to declutter a lot. I could ignore this until April 15, pack in a whirlwind, stress myself to kingdom come, get it all done in a fit of furious work, and end up being just fine, but the last time I did that, I was getting divorced and it was frankly really traumatic.

So instead I’m trying a different method. I’ve committed to spending at least 20 minutes, six days a week (I get one day off) doing SOMETHING that will make moving easier. Decluttering, boxing things up, moving clothes from my closet into my chest of drawers, taking out trash, taking trips to goodwill, whatever. As long as it is taking steps towards moving, it counts. And so far (I’m a little over a week in) I’m actually sticking to it.

It’s not fun exactly, but it is fun to see my apartment coming together, especially as I clear out layers of clutter that I haven’t really looked at in three years. (Also I’m astonished how much STUFF I still have, for living in a one bedroom apartment.)

So here’s what I did with today’s 20 minutes:

  • went through my earrings and pitched all the ones that I didn’t love (this was most of them, as they’d all gotten very tarnished and most were cheap)
  • packed up all my RPG stuff that isn’t my actively-in-use 5E books
  • discarded some old shoes that I don’t like/don’t wear/etc

It’s not the most organized process, and that’s a bit unlike me (normally in the past I would have spent three hours making a spreadsheet), but I’m slowly making a dent in the “moving sucks” pile, and it’s felt really good. Depression is kicking my ass, but I can still do 20 minutes on a break from my work day – I find if I don’t do things early in the day I run out of spell slots and end up not actually getting anything done.

I’ll check in with more progress as we go, but for now this feels like I’m at least chipping away at something instead of ignoring it until the last minute and then doing it all in one fell swoop (and hating myself the whole time).

The Moody Blues

Note: this is not about the English rock band

So most of you who’ve been around for any length of time know that I have bipolar disorder. I’m not quite true Bipolar I, but it’s more intense than Bipolar II. I’m Bipolar 1.5 (lol).

For the last 10 years I have gotten meds stable, gone to therapy every week, revamped my entire life, and generally spent a lot of time and energy ensuring that I could still do what needed to be done. I live alone; I work a regular 9-5 job; I have pets; I have a 401K. I’m largely a successful adult – and I do a lot of work to maintain that.

Sometimes, though, I get reminded that no matter how much I do all the things, my brain is still going to kick me sometimes, and the brain chiggers (thanks Ursula) are just a thing that happens. These aren’t “weasels” – brain weasels are usually something I identify as part of my brain that is trying to help but that, because it is a weasel, doesn’t have the frontal cortex to do a good job. Depression is not like that.

So this is me saying it out loud – I had four incredibly intense months of over-functioning, finished off by an exceptionally intense weekend, and when that was over I crashed off the side of the cliff.

My (very wonderful) boyfriend tanked a total meltdown last Monday night, and things have kind of lingered around there since then. Stuff I’ve been looking forward to for months just seems like work, or worse. In fact, that’s a good descriptor of how things feel right now.

Everything just feels like work.

Got a birthday package in the mail? Finding the scissors is work. Opening the present is work. Yeah there’s a little dopamine hit when I get to the new thing (in this case, a Patreon present from an artist I support), but now I have to dispose of the box, and that’s just work.

Work is, of course, still work. But even the joyful things are work right now, and my brain is actively sabotaging my attempts to help make things better.

But I know that. Oddly, knowing that this is a bipolar mood episode makes dealing with it easier. It makes my perspective shift from “why is everything in my life suddenly awful?” to “oh, here we go again.” Mindfulness is a hell of a thing, and just being aware of the thoughts and what they are takes away a lot of their power, especially the dangerous, intrusive thoughts. It changes the story from “wow, why does everything suddenly suck?” to “nothing is different, your brain just needs defragmenting.”

My life isn’t miserable, my relationship didn’t suddenly tank, I’m not suddenly surrounded by people who hate me. My brain just took a trip to chigger-town, and it’ll take about a month to get back.

And that, I think, is a pretty amazing thing. Thank you Donna, Christina, Connie, and Russ (my four therapists). It took me a week to put it together, but once I did, I’m living a better life despite being pretty critically depressed. I might not get out of my pyjamas today, but I ate lunch, I made tea, and I’m going to play video games with my boyfriend tonight.

I can do this. It’s only a month. I will be okay.

Morning Pages and Morning Blogs

A Patreon I support has started a new sub-community for artists that involves The Artists Way practice of morning pages. I’m not sure I want to commit to 750 words longhand every day, but I would like to try blogging every day. Most likely it’ll be “some days” because sometimes I post private posts here and don’t care to share them, but otherwise I think it’d be a good exercise for me to get back in the habit of writing and sharing on a regular basis.

Posts will either be on Little Druid on the Prairie (for religion and spirituality) or here (for everything else).

A gripe about recipe commenters

If, by chance, you are perusing a blog that is dedicated to Instant Pot recipes, it is really really pretentiously shitty of you to say something like “I don’t ever intend to buy an Instant Pot. Please convert this recipe for a Slow Cooker.”

DOES GOOGLE NOT WORK FOR YOU?! Do you not know how many slow cooker blogs are out there? I PERSONALLY know of at least four recipes for red beans and rice that you can get for a slow cooker. Google probably can get you seventeen more. This blogger is dedicated to perfecting recipes in an Instant Pot. WHY ARE YOU EVEN ON THIS BLOG.

Ugh.

Product Review: Shapermint Shaper Shorts

Okay – so the ads are ALL OVER THE GODS DAMNED INTERNET. And I had a fancy party for New Years. So I bought a pair of the Shapermint High-Waisted Shaper Shorts to see how I liked them.

For reference, I am a fat woman. I am 5’6″ tall, and weigh about 210lbs. I wear a size 18 in most clothing, or a 2X, but of course we know sizes are bullshit so sometimes that’s wrong.

I took my measurements, and ordered a size XL-XXL, which is the first thing you should always do when you’re ordering shapewear. Do not be a dingus and order a smaller size, thinking it will make you slimmer. It will just cut off circulation to your legs and you’ll get deep vein thrombosis. Also swollen ankles aren’t stylish.

Anyway, I helpfully ordered my correct size in “tan” (which is darker than my skin color, I am so very very white), and waited for them to arrive. Reader, I was VERY dubious about this. Because shapewear the last time I wore it was at my wedding (in 2007), and it was SHITTY and rolled down and didn’t fit and I was a skinny-minnie anyway and only weighed about 145 pounds so I really didn’t need it.

ANYWAY.

It arrived, and I put it on, and I was pleasantly surprised! It came all the way up to my bra-band, and the legs were around mid-thigh. It stretched comfortably, and felt snug. It did not appear to be cutting off circulation to my legs. It was – dare I say it – comfortable.

So I put on a dress, admired my shapelier figure in the mirror and set about wearing it for the rest of the day. I was comfortable. I worked at my desk. It improved my posture because it was slightly constricting, but it did not roll down, the legs did not roll up, and altogether I was feeling very happy about my purchase.

And then I burped.

I burped FIRE and DEATH.

You see, dear readers, I have acid reflux. I take Pepcid for it, twice a day, and on your average day I have zero problems with it. I can even eat hot peppers on my pizza and so long as I take my little pill twice a day I am fine.

Except, apparently, if my guts are all squished in, making my silhouette much more svelte but my stomach considerably constricted.

I took it off – pleasantly surprised to see only the lightest of elastic marks on my skin – and ate half a box of Pepto Bismol. The reflux did not calm down until after I’d taken three doses of Pepto, my evening dose of Pepcid, and drank a bunch of water.

So this is my review:

If you want well-made, well-constructed, comfortable shapewear that does exactly what it says it does in the advertisements, I cannot recommend the Shaper Shorts highly enough. Unless your stomach is made of FIERY DEATH. In which case, they’re pretty good still, but I wouldn’t wear them for more than an evening out.

**Note: I did wear them to the New Years party, for about 3 hours total. At that party I delicately sipped seltzer with lime, sat precariously on a bar stool, did not slouch, and was fine. But I think I would have had a better time if I’d been jigglier but able to have a couple of mojitos.

Style Grumbles and Thoughts

So I mentioned in an earlier post that I was doing this Dressing Your Truth thing, and that I was a Type 4 – Bold Striking Woman in that system.

Which – okay. I definitely have a lot of Type 4 tendencies, and there’s lots of expressions of type 4 energy that seem very familiar.

Thing is, I’m getting to where I struggle with how I look again, this time just with better clothes and makeup. Type 4’s are “stunning” and “striking” and “classic” and “refined” and those types of keywords. And I’m a dumpy looking fat woman 95% of the time. I’m learning to wear makeup differently, which has been … sometimes a little scary (but every experiment will have failures), and that does help. And I’m learning to appreciate contrast in my face with bold lip colors to match the bold hues in my clothes.

But I don’t feel “stunning” most of the time. I just feel… like me, just maybe with better clothes.

Car buying selfie. This lip is fantastic.
Pearls are the wrong color, but everything else is good. Well, maybe not the eyeshadow.
Substantial necklace. Hot pink lip gloss. Fuzzy, unkempt hair.
Ready for Yule. This lip is hot pink, but looks neutral on me.
Okay, here I look stunning. The neon orange and black, and the orange lip? Yeah.

So I guess when you come down to it, I can see it sometimes, but most days I’m the “nothing” side of “all or nothing”. I work from home, so it’s not really a thing for me to get dressed to makeup every day – I live alone, and it doesn’t make enough of a difference for it to feel worth it when the only people who will see it are the cats and my reflection in the mirror.

Thankfully, “classic” and “simple” and “reflective” are all Type 4 style words. The words I’m mostly trying on for myself are “competent” and “simple” and “refined” and maybe “deliberate”. As I look through my old Pinterest board (which is not DYT compatible at ALL), I see that I like comfortable outfits that go easily to many levels of dress, but which are not too fussy and yet still pulled together – they look like outfits, not like just a shirt and jeans.

And I think that’s what I need to perfect. I’ve often just worn a dress and a coordinating head scarf and called it good. I often wear the same jewelry for years on end. But that doesn’t lend itself to “outfits” that feel like I’m put together in any meaningful way.

What I like about all of the pictures I featured in this post is that they feel like they’re pulled together – even if it’s just by a neon orange scarf. So I think that’s what I’m going to shoot for more of the time. Not every day (some days I barely manage to get out of my pyjamas), but I’d like to start feeling like I have on clothes that look competent and pulled together.

Maybe that’s my expression of Type 4, rather than “striking” or “stunning”.