Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Moustache To Believe In

I am watching a second viewing of Layton's funeral on TV. I don't have a lot to say about the service other than I'm sad and I'm wondering where Canada's going to go without him in charge of the NDP. I'm unfamiliar with state funerals. I've only been to private ones and I prefer them for their intimacy.

However, I'm glad for the large-scale ceremony. Despite the lack of intimacy, it's only fitting. He wasn't a private person. He was very public. He took great joy in being out there creating change. There's a clip of him speaking for women, the LGBT community, the homeless, and more. Privacy at this time would be unpardonable, not when there could be more focus to his favourite causes in his name.

I went to the memorial at Roy Thompson and left my own message. I wasn't sure how to word my feelings, so I left this:

God, I'll miss that guy. It's hard to really like politicians, and somehow Jack made it easy. I was just going to write something about love just now, and Jack's words just came to mind. Love is stronger than hate. Politicians take note. People want someone to believe in, someone who will speak for everyone. They want a decent human being to speak for them. He was a rare guy.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Fake Prom Ahoy

Tonight I'm going to Fake Prom! I had a colonic yesterday to assure I'd be able to attend in comfort and peace, and it was the best session I've ever had. My stomach has deflated to normal size, the gas has left the building, I'm feeling energetic and the sadness and lethargy that accompanies my IBS symptoms has been alleviated. I have no idea how long I'll get to enjoy this, but tonight I'm good to go and that's all that I hoped for.

I decided to come out, as it were, to my boss about my condition. She knew I had it, in general, but not the level that it affected my work. I explained the nature of it, how when my symptoms are in full swing I am often kept up at night, about my frequent need to leave my desk for the bathroom for extended periods of time, how I sometimes need to lie down on my stomach or nap from being robbed of sleep, about how the idea of apprising her or creating a notice for extended absences from my station was going to create a long series of emails or notifications sometimes.

She was very understanding and offered a helpful solution to allow me to better manage my time around my IBS needs. It was like a weight had been lifted and the stress I'd been experiencing fell away from me. And now that I'm out about how bad it can get, I don't think it'll actually be as bad.

I'd just been too embarrassed to talk about it to my work. My friends all knew, but getting into your bowel dysfunction with your superiors, no matter how kind you know them to be, is a daunting prospect. But keeping her in the dark to assuage my pride and fears about it was only hurting me. When you start to appear like you are slacking at work and don't take communication seriously, it's time to pipe up.

I'm really hoping with this recent colonic I'll get some quality time to relax in my own skin. I never know how long my reprieve will last, so I have to savour each day and every hour I get.

I'm totally doing it before my wedding, too. Already booked my appointment.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

IBS at Work

IBS is still busy ruining my life.

It's hard to chart the severity of this bullshit, but it really feels to me like it's getting worse over time. I used to take the odd day off from work to quietly manage my symptoms in peace and let them pass, but now that I'm working from home, doing that feels wrong. So I try to work around my bad days.

But this is very difficult. IBS is something that keeps me up at night. By the end of the day, I'm usually riddled with gas. It's like it gets trapped in there and doesn't want to come out unless it's en masse. The belching can actually force itself out of me and it can be painful. And it's something that will keep me up.

And if that's not happening, I'm often backed up, pardon the expression, which inherently steals my energy and robs me of rest due to rumbling discomfort.

So sometimes, being unable to sleep until 3:00 or 4:00, I don't wake up in time for 8:00 to start work. I figure I can get at least another hour or two, and then skip a break and work late if my work assignment sheet will allow it, and it usually does. At least then I don't have to be thoroughly exhausted, only rather tired.

But when the, shall we say, gates open, the day is shot. But I still work. Why? Because I work from home and feel too foolish to call in on these days and say my bowels are malfunctioning again, I need the day off. It's embarrassing.

Occasionally these open-gate days coincide with a late night. It's a terrible whammy of suffering. And I have taken the day off a couple times, but not as often as they happen.

Why? I just feel like they need me. I know they do. My sudden absence (anyone's really) throws off the whole schedule. The other two people who do what I do could be overloaded. I feel immense pressure to work through it.

My health is suffering, though. My mind is frazzled. I'm getting very burnt out. I feel anxious about work now, because I feel like I'm falling behind, always needing a nap I can't take, always bloated and cramped. Unfortunately, stress is a major trigger, and this whole thing is stressing me out.

And I am pretty sure my work doesn't understand. And this is my fault. I just loathe the thought of calling in and explaining this. Who wants to talk to their bosses about their bowel dysfunction and explain why it's impairing ability to work? I try to make it sound like it's not a big deal when I do mention it. I don't want to complain and get honest about it, because when I do I cry.

And now I'm at a crossroads. I had a terrible day at work, where I had to admit I was well behind because I spent so much time in the bathroom. And I know they were frustrated with me. I'm harder to get a hold of via email, which makes their job harder. Well, I'm away from my desk frequently to use the toilet or lie on my stomach or do some stretches to ease my discomfort.

I'm not sure what to do. Do I sit down with my boss and give her a doctor's note and explain my situation? It feels so needy and whiny. And I've recently had a separate health concern regarding the computer. But what I've been doing is catching up to me. I feel emotionally drained from this whole thing.

I have good months, the sort where I actually tell myself I just don't have IBS anymore, just to feel free, but I haven't had a symptom-free stint in awhile. And I long for that, I really do.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Bon Jack

I can't believe Canada lost Jack Layton. He was passionate, he was the sort of man who you really could believe in. I think he was the best chance we had for the sort of Canada I wanted to live in. I voted for his party. I'm a Green at heart, but I was won over to NDP because of Jack.

I mean, this man really cared about social justice. He wanted fairness for people at all levels of the spectrum. He was tireless. I mean, the guy campaigned through cancer and only a month ago said he needed to take a break. How far gone he must have been for it to have taken him so quickly after that announcement.

The man was a politician, but unlike so very many I've seen, he didn't seem like he was in it just for personal glory and prestige. With all the causes he championed, the sort of issues ordinary people needed leaders to care about, I was able to have some faith that Canadian politics would rise to the levels I dreamt of, where people and not corporations, the environment and not special interest groups, evidence and not ideology, progression and not stagnation would have a chance to thrive.

Who will speak for us now? I don't know. Elizabeth May perhaps, who now is considered as unimportant and irrelevant as Jack used to be less than 10 years ago. Like Jack said, optimism is better than despair. I'll choose faith. This country is capable of beautiful things; not glory, but true humanity and thus greatness. We'll get by, and someone will rise to speak on behalf of those who can't buy political leverage and need a voice in parliament.

But today, I grieve. I had no idea how much I was emotionally relying on Jack Layton to weather what I've been seeing as a dark blot in our political history. Today I mourn.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Summer Days

The Dude is home from a quick business trip, but his work schedule is still maniacal. This is good for our bank account; all that overtime now will translate into a stress-free fall this year. But it's a bummer for me on a personal level because I miss his company, and for him it means his time not working is spent resting and waiting for tomorrow, instead of being up for fun. There were some wedding DIY projects we were going to do together, however I've decided to take that off his plate. My time is free and I enjoy crafting, anyhow.

I'm planning for us to take a couples day at the spa to get massages. My body is creaky and my hands and arms have significant issues; the Dude is stressed and exhausted. Massages together is something we've done once before a couple years ago, but I think it's high time we did it again. Poor soul needs a little rejuvenation. We usually go up to his dad's for Labour Day weekend for a horseshoe tournament, but he can't bear the thought of using any of his days off travelling on the highway.

I think I've enjoyed this summer, though it's not been the sort of summer I had originally envisioned. I haven't swam once, didn't go to Canada's Wonderland, or even sit out on a restaurant patio, so all the normal summery things haven't gone down. But I have grown a backyard garden, hosted BBQs with the Dude, spent time with friends and had three lovely showers. I've also been to the AGO, seen some movies and started a high tea Sunday with my pals. And of course, I've been planning a wedding.

It's not been a typical summer, basically. But a summer spent planning a wedding and being with people you love is pretty great.

But I need a vacation. The other day I went to the doctor's on my day off, to see about my strained arm and wrist. Leaving the hospital, I felt a sense of urgency to get home and go back to work. But I was off. The sensation was a pleasant shock. I realized I need, and quite badly, some real time to enjoy life. I've taken some long weekends, but I need a week. Hell, two weeks would be wicked.

And I have the time banked. I'm taking the week before my wedding off. It won't be with the Dude, who was coaxed and convinced to at least take off the day before. But my bridesmaid from California is coming and I'll be able to hang out with her and show her the city. I'll be free to handle last-minute wedding concerns. I'll be able to have plenty of time to think about the big decision I'm making and let it sink in.

And then there's the potential for winning a free honeymoon via the show. I try not to think too hard about that. I don't want to want it too bad. I want to just enjoy the ride and see what happens. But damn, some free relaxation/travel/yayness would really hit the spot. We could both really use it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

IBS Strikes Again

IBS is a cruel beast of a condition. I currently look about five months pregnant from abdominal distention, I'm belching like I just won a hot dog eating contest, and the combination of the two has made me a highly unattractive pile of disgruntled sadness.

This has been going on for days. Symptoms haunt my steps everywhere I go, each and every day. But the constant issues are typically mild. Moderate issues are less frequent and don't last more than a couple days. Severe symptoms are, thankfully, uncommon and don't linger longer than a day or so.

Well, this is a moderate issue and it's been on my case for three days and my patience is wearing thin. I tried to enjoy some quality time with the Dude before he leaves on a business trip and all I could do was burp at various volumes and generate odours from my dinner.

I have a colonic scheduled the day before Fake Prom so that I can assure I'll fit comfortably in my costume, no distention, no nonsense. When you have IBS you pretty much accept defeat when it comes to living comfortably every day. You just handle it as best you can and throw in the towel as needed. But for special events, you really want to be able to enjoy them without your body getting in the way, and Fake Prom is one of those evenings. My pinup outfit isn't really going to have the effect I'm hoping for if I look like I'm going to give birth.

I can imagine what life is like without this condition. I see people with flattened stomachs, eating normally, and I feel wistful and envious. I look at my torso, which often resembles a trunk to me, expanded and riddled with gas, and I get bummed out.

As it is right now, I'll be up for awhile. I'll watch I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant, and remind myself it could be worse.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

So Etsy

I've been putting my new Kitchen-Aid mixer to good work, and have already made two delightfully tasty desserts in one week: butter tarts and cheesecake. I may need to slow the pace or I'm going to get wicked chubby. But now that I have the tools at my disposal, it's hard not to think about the things I could be making.

Looking around this place, it's hard also not to be thinking of things I could be cleaning. The bags, the boxes, the clutter is looming large in my office, spilling into the hall. And there's so much more to come, mostly from Etsy. I am pretty much having an Etsy wedding.

Here are some bitchin' wood chip flowers I'm going to leave as favours.

I don't really care much for "branding" at people's weddings. A little touch here and there to let you know where you are, fine. "X & Y, Insert Wedding Date" is okay on one or possibly two things. But I really don't care for favours or gifts to guests that are branded with other people's information. So a plain flower it is, just because it's neat.

In lieu of rice or confetti, here are some ribbons and a bell on a wand.

I was looking for something kind of special and fun, and found these neat-o items for guests to wave instead of throwing things. We won't be going outside anywhere for people to toss specks of whatever into the breeze, so this is a charming option. It wasn't necessary, but it's a twist on an old favourite tradition. It's coming in pink and two shades of blue. Again, no branding.

This is possibly my favourite, simply because of the keepsake value.

This is actually a card box, something I was rather ill at ease buying. A receptacle for monetary gifts? But if you don't have one, people will just give you whatever cards they may bring, and that's not terribly practical. So I found this box, which is a small suitcase, and though you can't see it, there is a slot carved into the side for cards. After the wedding, I'll have a wonderful keepsake box for little souvenirs from the wedding: the invitations, a wood flower, my hair accessory, a table number, cards, things like that.

And they're all en route. More boxes, more clutter, fewer days to go.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Dresses for weddings

Today will be a day of many things, like finishing the floor and making butter tarts. But I put those homey thoughts aside while I mull over dresses.

I was contacted by the show again and they shot me some dates. Looks like my wedding will be at the tail end of the others. I'll be using these shindigs as an excuse to get some new dresses. But alas, I need wedding-appropriate dresses and some of the items on my current wishlist just aren't up to snuff, like this one:

Obviously I can't wear a white dress to a wedding.
But it's so dang cute! No, no, I won't do it.

They say you can't wear red to weddings either. But why? Why?
Up close there's embroidery and I heart that sort of detailing.

This one is more wedding appropriate.
A splash of white is okay, isn't it?

This little number would be perfect,
if it were still in stock.

This dress is the most practical, really.
I'll probably wind up getting it.

I think I have somewhere in the neighbourhood of 35 dresses. I really believe everyone collects something. I know people who collect shoes, scarves, purses, guitars (There's an expensive venture), makeup, pet stuff, bar accessories and all sorts of things they technically don't need. The Dude collects junk he finds on the side of the road. I have my dresses.

Which is funny because I spend so little time, compared to most people, out of my house.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Floor Pt 2

Today is day two of the floor laying extravaganza. We decided not to kid ourselves with the giant linoleum rolls and went the vinyl tile route, which required yet another mystical journey to Home Depot, which sticks on the floor and is easy to cut to shape. It's actually quite perfect for a rental addition space. Regardless, it looks significantly better than grody carpeting from school portable hell.

Here is a view of the work in progress from the kitchen.

Here is the view from the middle landing.

There is the Dude measuring away.

It's been a banner day at the Jendra residence. The floor isn't the only new addition. My work delivered a new computer for me to replace my 10-year-old model. What prompted this was my wrist pain and the fact my old clunker no long ran my dictation software, and that I was slowly crippling my hands from all the straight hours of typing. When you do what I do for nearly seven years, these sorts of issues crop up.

But now with my new beaut of a computer, I can work safely again. I like that I can count on my department to take care of me in these ways when I need it. All I had to do was call and my needs were met. It's nice. I know that's what they're supposed to do, but not all places actually care.

But back to the floor, come tomorrow, things should be better. The kitchen can be cleared of clutter and junk and the (bleh) cat litter again, and resume its normal duties of just being a kitchen. The Dude will put the finishing touches on the new flooring while I try out my new Kitchen-Aid mixer and bake some happiness. The kittens, of course, will go on being kittens with fewer things to poke their noses into. And all will be well.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Home Improvement

The Dude and I are undergoing a major home project. We're property managers at our apartment, so on top of the Dude handling garbage duties, snow removal and general upkeep of common areas, we also give our landlady options to improve the place. She pays materials, we (meaning the Dude) provide the labour. We live in a better home, she has her property maintained.

So we thought (meaning I thought) the carpeting on the stairs leading to the basement was grody and had to go. It smelled, was constantly dirty and it was the sort of crummy threadbare rush job you see in school portables.

Day 1 was the day of my shower. The Dude attempted to get the materials, the bank card didn't work in three separate locations and he came home totally aggrieved and nothing got done that day.

Day 2 was yesterday. We bought the materials: vinyl flooring rolls, adhesive, adhesive trowel, a crowbar-like tool for prying nails, and a vinyl knife.

Day 3 was today. Today we lifted the carpet from the stairs. Holy merciful Jebus. The dust. The unimaginable dirt that had been sitting and living beneath this carpeting. And the nails in the runner were rusted-- and they were nails! Not screws, nails!

Here are the runners, rusted, dented

and now in need of replacing.

Here is a piece of carpet,

waiting to be disposed of in a land far, far away.

And a view of the stairs from the middle landing,

stripped of nasty carpet.

Tomorrow the real difficult work begins: the measuring and cutting of the floor, and renting a roller to lay the damn thing. But it'll be worth it. I hate that stupid carpet.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Tea Shower

I have now had three showers. The third was held yesterday by McPal and his fiance on a humid Sunday afternoon and it was the sort of day that makes you love life.

Now, these two are the sorts of people who embody all that is home and garden goodness. To that end, they held a tea party with sandwich squares: cucumber and smoked salmon, plus tuna melts. Then homemade scones with homemade cream and raspberry confit. Then petit fours and this ohmygoditssogood chocolate covered peanut butter cheesecake ball. From scratch.

They had helium balloons, white flower arrangements and we drank tea out of this charming china set on their patio, which had been decorated with white bunting.

I didn't realize they'd go to all this trouble and was even more floored to discover a group of them had gone in on a Kitchen-Aid mixer. Yeah. My friends are generous and incredibly kind people. Out of all the things I didn't see coming, that was somewhere at the top of a list I couldn't have conceived. I also received these lovely whisky glasses and chilling stones. Did you know those existed? I didn't! They're so neat!

I feel loved. Seeing my friends take pleasure in making me happy gave me a really wonderful feeling.

I held back telling the Dude about the Kitchen-Aid, wanting him to see it for himself. He was stunned. He took it inside, came back out, and snapped out of his shock enough to splutter a thank you. He was pretty touched.

And now that we're less than three months to go, things are really starting to move. There's still quite a number of things to be done, which is incredible to me considering how much I did in advance. And I'm pretty grateful I did them in advance now because although it's busier for me now, I can still take a moment to breathe and relax.

Not tonight, though. Tonight we're doing the property management thing, renting a Zipcar, and buying some vinyl flooring to replace the nasty carpet going down the stairs. Home project ahoy!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Two Showers

The showers came, the showers went and we have all the linens we'll need for years. That is, two showers are over, the ones courtesy of the Dude's family on both sides. We also got an amazing coffee maker. As I was writing thank you notes, which took quite some time for 14, it occurred to me that after the wedding, it's going to be quite a massive undertaking. Good thing I enjoy written correspondance in general.

The invitations arrived today, the boxes of the other wedding do-dads are piled up and the hall is still half-full of our new towels and sheets. What floors me is that if we still lived upstairs, we'd have nowhere to put any of this stuff. Where would it have gone? It's hard enough to store things now. These are high end problems, but damn.

But I digress. Back to the showers in our hometown. They were both done with love and were completely different from each other. On the father's side, it was an all-day potluck affair that doubled as a family afternoon on the lake. It was relaxed, there were kidlets running about, both men and women, and it was outdoors. On the mother's side, it was 2-3 hours, women only, full of laughs and indoors, with sandwiches and squares.

They were fun and generous, held Saturday then Sunday this past weekend, and was I ever beat by the time we got back into Toronto.

The next shower is a tea party McPal and his fiance are throwing for me. I'm really looking forward to it, just relaxing with friends and munching on goodies and drinking tea. I've made my feelings on afternoon tea quite clear, and I have wonderful friends.

One of the Dude's aunts said, "Enjoy your engagement. This is a magical time." I don't know how magical it is, though it's been pleasant and I was tickled by the sentiment. But I'm not a blushing bride needing instructions on her wedding night before I move into my husband's home and take his name. But I am making a formal commitment and hosting a big event. Marriage isn't quite the thorough life-changer it used to be, but going through these months and parties and making plans is kind of magical in its way. Milestones are few and far between in adulthood. It's exciting.
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