Sunday, January 31, 2010

Winter Wonderland

My favorite part of moving to the South was leaving behind cold, grey, icy, slushy, freezing, depression-inducing, cloudy, sleeting, bone-chilling, nasty Boston winters. But I do have beautiful memories of magical snowfalls, where the city transforms into a silent, peaceful snow globe. Those moments are pretty much the only thing I miss about Boston from November through April. So when snow was forecast for this weekend I was happy that I was going to feel snow under my shoes again, once, briefly. Here I don't expect a real good Boston-type snowstorm - a couple feet of snow that falls on top of old snow, lingers for a week, lots of shoveling, maybe even a snow day if you're really lucky.

The frenzied hubbub about this snow forecast left me a bit confused. Because it wasn't a couple feet of snow, it was a quarter of that, maybe. And I felt bad for kids... it's going to snow once all season and on a weekend! No snow day even. Oh well. Friday night I had to run to the supermarket because I was all out of contact solution. Imagine my surprise when I looked at the egg section:

None left! Bread and milk were equally picked over. Why? Because local news had sent people out to stores with a list of necessary items for involuntary confinement. Saturday it did snow, and I stayed in my pajamas all day long and made a fire and watched movies. By the end of the day we got about 4 inches of snow, and some parts around us got about 6. We took a walk around our apartment today and kids were enjoying it. Here's a neighbor making a snowman....

When we came back the snowman seemed to have two extra heads on top... poor kids around here have such little snow they don't even know how to make a proper snowman. We saw another one that was just two giant blobs of snow with sticks coming out all over the top.

I've never seen a sled for sale, but people have them somehow. Perhaps they're generally used for the 'Winter Wonderland' festival each year, which brings in tons of fake snow. It was cancelled last week due to rain, and this week due to REAL snow. Imagine that.

Gabe and I enjoyed a nice walk in the woods....

Today I unthinkingly called a co-worker to arrange our 2 1/2 hour round trip car ride tomorrow, because where I come from four inches of snow two days later is not a blip on winter's radar. But things are different here. I've learned tomorrow IS a snow day. Roads are still unplowed, and apparently 1300 cars got in accidents on Saturday alone. I suppose everyone will sled, then come home for their bread, milk and eggs. Of all the things that are different here, reaction to snow is possibly the biggest culture shock so far.

Friday, January 22, 2010

easily our best wedding decision

was our choice of photographers. we're getting our pictures in, and seriously...unbelievable!! we've already reserved them for future children photo shoots :) they are wonderful people as well, and we're happy to let you know how to contact them if you need photographers. you can see more of their work here.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

new job

I've been idling on the sidelines a bit at my new job - waiting for training, teams to be formed, etc. But recently I feel like I've been thrown in the deep end of the pool. It's only one family I'm really working with and the levels of dysfunction are mind-boggling. This work is so different than hospice. In hospice, your work ends when the patient dies. From the beginning you know the end. There's not such an emphasis on change. I rarely had impulses to 'help', or tell people what is best. You respect their journey... you simply witness, and that can be transformative.

In this job working with families, I witness, and I just seem to open Pandora's box...layers and layers and it just gets deeper and deeper. People look at me like I have answers, and I don't. Or if I think I do, that's a good sign I'm not being a good therapist. So I'm having trouble balancing that disposition with the situations that are just screaming out for some change. How do I witness, empower and work through these deep patterns in people's lives (which takes time by the way), when the environment most resembles a flaming cauldron of crisis?

These are my questions today. And it will balance out, and I'm glad for the questions because it means some learning is coming my way. But I had a dream about this family last night, which is a sign for me to watch my boundaries. Even more of a sign is the dream's content, which doesn't require a Freud to analyze: I was using their bathroom during a visit, and the house shook like a turbulent airplane (ever try to pee when that's happening?)... and then it got so windy that the door blew open and I'm there with my pants down feeling helpless and stupid.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

domestic bliss > robin thicke creepiness

I may have been premature in declaring the end of my attraction to my husband due to that music video. Because the next day I looked in the kitchen and behold!

Most women would probably be concerned about the apron, but in my opinion that just shows commitment to the task at hand. That task was not only preparing pizza dough, but rearranging the ENTIRE kitchen. Because he couldn't find corn meal. The engineer decided our kitchen was not optimally organized to find corn meal efficiently and suddenly the cookbooks were in the living room, the cups and plates in the pantry, baking stuff where pans were, and a vacuum in the midst of it all. Of course, the whirlwind and vacuum remained three days later, and I had to clean it all up, but I'll give an A for initial effort. (Because of course when you cook 2% of the time the kitchen should be rearranged how you see fit. Ahem.)

Sigh. That came out a little more bitter than the actual amusement I feel about the whole situation. Now I am learning my new kitchen and getting ready to launch my belated new blog. Here's a big hint as to the theme....

Sunday, January 17, 2010

1st anniversary

It's the first anniversary of my blog! I posted half the days of the past year, so that is one surprisingly consistent thing in my life. It's also been exactly one year since Gabriel proposed to me...awwwww. It also marks the official end of our sex life. Booo.... Last night started out innocently enough. Gabe was browsing through music videos and we were laughing at Right Said Fred remixes, I was marveling at the awesome cowboyness of George Strait, and we realized Weird Al still makes funny videos. But then it happened. He played Robin Thicke's "Sex Therapy". This video so creeped me out. I don't know if it's the overly sexual, unironic lyrics set to no melody, how he sings from between a woman's legs, or the mustache. Or how Gabe keeps singing it and trying to do his moves.

Play this video only if you're trying to practice celibacy!

more about "Robin Thicke - Sex Therapy", posted with vodpod

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Fiddle, Banjo & Kazoo

If I ever adopt 3 dogs at one time, that would be their names. They're just so perfect, I can't believe 3 dogs haven't rung my doorbell tonight to claim them. I suppose it's because I have no doorbell.

Tonight we went to see a band that played those instruments and a dozen others at Blue Bayou in Hillsborough. Gabe's co-worker played piano. I'm not sure what you call the genre but it was great music. The percussion guy had a long beard and washboard - attached to the washboard were a cymbal, a bottle, a couple other things, and he played a drum with his foot. There was a little stage, and a little dance floor, and the first dancers were unexpected. A big pregnant lady and her husband, a bearded guy in sneakers and a hooded sweatshirt. They did the most graceful Cajun Waltz all by themselves while everyone watched. She was smiling and glowing the whole time, and you couldn't help but stare at her belly, this unseen third that was participating in the dance. It made me wonder where I was before I came into the world.

The music was great, but loud, and the crowd was big, and loud. Combined with the lights, my recent stressors and weird sleep, lack of yoga...I just felt so weird. Restless and exhausted at the same time, like I just wanted to leave my body. I had trouble processing all the sensory information, the music, the lights, the voices (I just know I'd get some diagnosis for that if bothered to try) and so told Gabe 'Hey, I think I have the beginnings of psychosis.' He said 'Alysa sometimes you say the most ridiculous things.' And certainly, I've never had psychotic episodes, and now that I'm in my 30s the risk of schizophrenia is pretty low. It wasn't exactly a valid statement. But I explained to him then, and now, I don't know why, am divulging it in a public forum, that sometimes I think I'm just as close as you can get to a mental illness without actually having one. Because I can really imagine losing touch with reality, because if you think about 'reality' too much it seems so ephemeral, and I think too much about nearly everything. I don't have the stable, in-the-body experience that I assume most have. I hardly go a day without injuring myself or falling. I have periods of brooding and inactivity that I like to think of as more 'dark nights of the soul' than depression, and periods of ambitious hyper-driven activity that I think of as 'being productive and creative' rather than mania. I am always amazed at how well I drive, because I'm fully aware of all the faculties that takes. But I've also developed panic attacks on bridges, and I'm just waiting for one day where I can't make it over - so far that day hasn't come.

Don't get me wrong, I'm very functional! I have strong relationships, did great in school, have had no problem holding a job. (And let's not forget that I'm a competent therapist, not sure how that all fits into the picture, either.) It's not so much I'm worried about having a mental illness, it's just that I'm so surprised I'm so "sane." So after I tell Gabe about my narrow escapes from mental disintegration on a day to day basis, he simply shrugs and says "I think that is just part of being human."

What an answer! I love its simplicity. So now I'm very curious. Is everyone secretly like me, but puts on a front of being solidly on earth? Is it all part of the human experience? Perhaps it's just a matter of good imagination, or reading too many novels. I've always thought of mental illness as a spectrum, instead of the black and white diagnoses we give in our modern culture. So maybe I've walked a couple steps down the spectrum along my travels. (I was also going to start a conversation about nature vs. nurture and mental illness but that will take too long. Has anyone else read "The Myth of Mental Illness?")

I'm curious about your thoughts on this if you'd like to comment. For now, I'm going to try to get a good night's sleep, empty my mind, and do some yoga tomorrow, before I start really floating away :)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Anyone who knows me recognizes my cringe when I see 'it's' instead of 'its'. Or 'your' instead of 'you're'. My editor button cannot be turned off. It's a built-in reflex. I don't seek it out just to expose others' lack of grammar knowledge. I really don't. And I understand it's not the epitome of human evolution to spell and write properly. If countless ads want to promote their company by saying, in quotes, they are the "best" something, and not realize that quotes are not for emphasis but instead make them look like a joke, that is okay. I'm not judging.

It's one thing to write an email, or a quick note and have misspellings. It's quite another to permanently record a misspelling onto your body. Yes, it's been done. Look here. It blows my mind how these things were not noticed by either tattoo-ee or tattoo-er. Yikes!

Friday, January 8, 2010

happy birthday

Today is my grandmom's birthday. It's her first birthday that she's not here. I miss calling her up on the phone and she can't hear me :) I miss a lot more than that.

I wasn't quite telling the truth when I said I threw out all of my old writing when I moved to North Carolina. I kept one page torn out of a journal, because I didn't want to forget it. In honor of my grandmother, here it is without edits:

January 1, 2003:

I've resolved to begin a diary. Memory is unreliable and cannot always be willed, so this is a place to store events, images, thoughts, ideas, which would otherwise dissolve. I think it will also help in mindfulness, paying attention to the days, to my story. It's also amazing how much drama, how many emotions, how much laughter gets distilled into the label 'day', and then in a matter of days even loses that distinction. So this, in essence, is a collection of moments. Here goes:

The year begins with no sun - a charcoal sky, rainy & cold. I got up late, at 1, at Grandmom's house since Katie & I went out yesterday for New Year's. Grandmom rambled on and on to me at the table and I felt such a warmth at her openness to talk. I want her stories, I want to see her experiences. She told me how Pop + her decided when they got married that they would never go to bed angry. And she said it always worked, except there were 3 days when they didn't speak. Neither one remembers what it was about or whose fault it was. She said nothing changed, he came home and she made dinner like always, they just didn't talk. And on the third day there were flowers on the table with a sign that said 'Peace'. Since they were from him she assumes it was his fault.

Wishing you Peace, grandmom, and thank you for all your warmth and stories.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


My husband said I needed to blog because he's had no idea what's been going on with me the past week. (To clarify, it's a joke.) I've been neglecting my blog a little in an attempt to get my new one up and running. It's required me to look at html code and try to make sense of it, which goes against my natural urge to throw my computer off the desk, scream and grab an advil. I plan to have it up by Monday, cross my fingers.

I got a new haircut - pictures to follow. But I'm going back next week to hack it all off. Even a bob feels too long right now. Perhaps it's these balmy winters.

Everyone is all abuzz here about the weather. It's a cold spell, the coldest winter in a long time, it's going to snow again.... This is what you hear around town, on the radio. The lady in front of me at the grocery store asked the cashier if she could even believe this weather. Today the sky was clear blue, the sun was shining, and it was 42 degrees. Yes, there are days in the mid-30s, yes the nights get into the 20s, and there's frost on the windshield in the mornings, nothing I was really expecting consistently here. But it's really not that bad. Certainly not bad enough to warrant Chapel Hill becoming a ghost town on nights that dip below freezing.

Tonight we're expected to get a coating of snow, up to an inch overnight - the second bitty snow of the whole season. It's all over the radio, with updates hourly. I'm not kidding!

This time of year in Boston is when the novelty of snow began to wear a little, your skin gets permanently dry and cracked, you wear boots daily, you can't believe your heating bill...and you still know you're in for it for a good three more months. Boston winters are icy and blustery - I haven't had one day here yet that felt icy or blustery, so thank you new town. I don't care what they're saying about you out there.

I have another bone to pick with Boston while I'm at it. Namely its expensive college tuition, that does not get along well with Southeastern median salaries. Why can't you both just play nice? Sigh. (I'll spare you my career downward spiral of mental chaos here.)

Pictures and new blog soon... for now I'm going to try to get to sleep before 5 a.m., for once this week.

Friday, January 1, 2010

What does 2010 have in store for you?

There are many ways to see the future: crystal ball, tarot cards, tea leaves, and......cheese. It's called tyromancy. So if you're looking for some insight into 2010 you don't have to look any further than your refrigerator!

And once you eat the cheese, listen to your stomach noises for more divination: that's called gastromancy.

In the past I've been guilty of this one - rhapsodomancy. Reading a random line of verse to predict the future. Using this method, here's my fortune for the year:

"No noise was to underline the notion of its being." John Ashbery

If you try let me know what it says!


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