Friday, January 27, 2012

The 3 Rs

This isn't my usual subject matter. I'm applying for scholarships, and has asked its applicants to share how we reduce, reuse and recycle. It would be my pleasure.

I've been fortunate enough to have recycling be a major part of garbage handling since I was very young, so it's been a habit for as long as I can remember to separate plastic, glass and paper.

As a child, I was responsible for can-crushing and storage. This laborious chore was rewarded every few months with a trip to our local recycling center, which would give me a few dollars in my hot little hands. Cash is such as excellent motivator when you're twelve and detest any chore that your parents deign to assign.

As an adult, I recycle everything I can, without really thinking about it. Garbage, yes, but also, I donate my old clothes and prefer to buy used for personal and household items.

I discovered a new way to reuse plastic grocery bags a while back, and even made christmas presents for friends and family. I'd fold the bags lengthwise several times, cut them into loops, then string the loops together to make a chain. From there, I crocheted that chain into new, more durable, but still fully recyclable shopping bags! Giving these as gifts was a hit and made me feel better about all those times I'd forgotten my cloth bags while grocery shopping.

As for reducing, I try not to buy items that come in a plastic container, and if I do, I reuse the package until I destroy it. I've also taken to making my own yogurt, which cuts way down on the amount of plastic tubs that I buy. I think it's important to use what we have to its ultimate potential, then find a way to make it useful again.

This planet is a bounty of resources, but they won't last forever. I like feeling like I'm doing my part to make those resources last as long as they can.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Dressing Myself

These migraines don't just stay in my head. No, they travel down my neck, stiffening my spine, then reach out into every fiber of my being. Even my skin becomes so sensitive, I find everyday clothes rather difficult to wear. So, I've developed some tricks to making clothes more comfortable, because it's too cold to go naked.

#1 Hateful Item of Clothing: Bras.

I wear about a 34-36 D. My breasts are not small, and not only does society tell me that I need a bra, but my breasts hurt when they swing freely for more than a few minutes. But bras, with their underwires that pinch and straps that dig, are not a good solution for me. I have a few sports bras that are better, but while they're an alternative on days when underwire is nightmarish, they also constrict and dig, and have a tolerance time limit. My most frequent, and successful, solution to bra-wearing woes is to tuck a piece of cotton between my skin and the underwire parts of the bra. It doesn't stop the aggravation, but it usually dampens it long enough for me to appear in public with boobies properly constrained.

At home, however, I'm a shelf-bra tank-top kind of lady. The straps still dig a bit, but this is the most comfortable answer I've found yet.

#2 Hateful Item of Clothing: Real Pants.

By which, I usually mean jeans. I'm not at all into the skinny styles, I've always preferred a more relaxed, usually slightly flared fit, so it's really just the waistbands that are a comfort issue for me. If the waist pinches, even if only when I sit, I start feeling hot, uncomfortable and claustrophobic. So, I can no longer wear pants that fit me. They must be a size too big, and if I wear a belt (which, always, because hiking up my pants all day isn't fun) it also has to be set at a size too big, so it will barely rest on my hips and butt when I stand.

The at-home solution to this is: stretchy pants! I have pajama bottoms and workout pants and leggings galore, and that's pretty much all I wear lately. Oh, and last summer, I was really into loose, long, flowy skirts. So comfy.

#3 Hateful Item of Clothing: Heels.

If I felt more pressure to wear heels, this would be higher on the list, but I'm firmly rooted in sneakers, flip-flops and my own bare feet, so I don't find this one as difficult to avoid. But, boots, y'all. I love me some boots with heels and they are no longer my friend, at all. Besides the obvious comfort issue with wearing high heels, I also tend to lose my balance a lot. With flat shoes, I can usually catch myself, I'll just stumble a bit and maybe look drunk while I find something (or someone) to grab onto. With heels on, however, the likelihood that I could snap my ankle or totally face plant is much higher. Therefore, I avoid.

#4 Hateful Item of Clothing: Hats.

I wear a hat every day I leave my house. Unfortunately, the tension that a normally-fitting hat exerts on my head is entirely too much to bear. Discomfort-wise, this one is actually the worst, and can be quite painful, even on good days. But between the sun and impossible lighting everywhere I go, I have no choice. And, the extreme pain I would encounter as a result of not wearing a hat means the discomfort of wearing one can feel like a personal affront. (Or maybe that's just my migraine talking, it does seem to take every little thing personally.) To try to overcome this problem, I've taken to searching for hats as big as I can find them, and then stretching them with my awesome hat-stretcher. They eventually go back to their original size, particularly after washing, but a quick re-stretch and we're back in business.

#5 Hateful Item of Clothing: Jewelry.

Is jewelry clothing? Eh, today, it is. Earrings, even studs, make my ears ache. Rings trigger that same hot, claustrophobic feeling as waistbands, unless they're too loose to stay on. Bracelets and necklaces are only ok if they are light, quiet and not too fussy.

I have a few items I can wear, for example, at my birthday party I managed a long beaded necklace and a few light bangles. But if it's a bad day, I can't even tolerate that much hanging off of me.

Migraines have definitely altered my outward presentation, I don't dress to impress anyone but myself anymore, and comfort is my biggest priority, the latest styles be damned. I still put effort into my appearance; of my oversized and very comfortable clothing, I've tried to buy and make pieces that are interesting, flattering and attractive, but it's absolutely not the priority. I will go out in my shelf-bra and comfy pants, if that's the kind of day I'm having, and I'll have no shame about it.

Have I missed any other torturous clothes? Do you have any tips for dressing yourself comfortably? Please share!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Left-Handed Cooking and Whisper-Singing

I feel like I'm constantly struggling to catch up. The dishes are never all done at the same time. There's always a basket of laundry looking at me, either waiting to be washed or folded and shelved. And a blog post, there always seems to be a blog post that needs writing, but hardly ever enough simultaneous creativity, mental acuity, and time with which to craft something interesting with minimal typos.

I've still not recovered from the holidays, you could say. On about the 7th or so, I was chopping wood with a migraine that I'd had since christmas and took an axe to my right index finger. I was lucky that I only required six stitches, but my right hand has been mostly unusable since. And I'm not great with my left hand. I can write backwards with it, use a mouse, and eat with chopsticks like a pro, but when it comes to buttoning my pants, wiping my butt, or cooking dinner, if I don't have my right hand, I'm clumsy at best. Yesterday, finally, I was able to do dishes and today I'm typing again with very little pain. So, that's good.

My birthday was on the 12th, and I let myself get talked into a small family lunch to celebrate. My very loving and well-intentioned family started singing happy birthday when they served the cake and my head exploded, so I clapped my hands to my ears before they'd gotten past the first syllable and I'm not sure why, but I was just so embarrassed when they started whisper-singing. I'll blame it on migraine-related disorientation, since we'd already been there an hour, the house was mildly scented and all six of my lovely family members seemed to be talking at the same time in a room with hard-wood floors. Really, I was pretty much useless five minutes in.

I've been wanting to sew lately, but half of my sewing supplies are still in the city. I'm not happy about it.

Instead of sewing, the past few days I've been focused on cooking. I made pierogi, my first ever, and they came out really nice, but kind of enormous. I made some bean-based veggie burger/meatballs and they came out pretty good, too. The key to success there is mushrooms, I think. Then I made some kickass chili and a polenta cornbread that came out gorgeous, tasty, and charmingly dense. Then, I decided to make some spinach ravioli and oh hey, rolling out dough for ravs is a serious endeavor. It doesn't help that we don't have a proper rolling pin, just a little one that's always been fine for small projects, but ravioli are some manual labor. Also, my finger still hurts when I bother it, and it seemed to dislike the dough-rolling very much. And I'd already been standing and cleaning and cooking for hours so then my head chimed in and I only managed to get about 10 ravioli done before I started crying and my boyfriend had to take over.

And then I was in a sour, migrainy mood and kept wandering into the kitchen to criticize how he was rolling the dough (too thick! are you mad!?) until I realized I hadn't eaten in a while, so I nommed on a little leftover aloo palak, rested, and then managed to whip up a nice mushroom cream sauce for the ravioli dinner my boyfriend made. So, it ended up ok in the end, but I don't think I'll ever attempt to make them by hand again.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Sex and Pain

So, here it is. The obligatory sex post. Every blog has its moment, whether it's a watery allusion to making love or an ode to kink, at some point every blogger has to consider what sex means, in the context of their lives and blog. Not everyone actually writes about it, of course, but I like to think everyone wants to.

My boyfriend and I don't have as much sex as I'd like. My chronic migraines and probable interstitial cystitis (IC) and his long-term, chronic, serious back pain don't lend themselves to the sexytimes. We cuddle. We hold hands in bed. We talk about everything, say I love you, hug and kiss freely, and I would consider our intimacy to be better than it's ever been. But, when we have sex, our combined pain and disabilities can make it awkward or frustrating and sometimes one of us has to stop and cry because something has gone painfully wrong. But we continue to try anyway because when it works, it's still pretty fantastic.

The benefits of sex are fairly obvious to most of us in pain, some really nice endorphins start pumping (heh), which lessen pain and improve mood. Then, there's the distraction element of physical intimacy; concentrating on feeling pleasure, and other sensations in general, can dull or even obliterate pain, at least temporarily.

But, the risk for both of us is high. If he angers his back, he could be flat for a week, or worse, he could require surgery again. If I anger my head, I could be flat for a week, and if I wake up the monster that is IC, it might trigger a fiery flare that could last months.

Still, I would like more sex. Everything hurts my head anyway, so why not have a trigger that's awesome? As for the IC, if I'm very, very careful during sex and don't EVER eat or drink anything caffeinated, acidic or high in refined sugars, I'll be fine! Probably!

My boyfriend, though, his back is a bigger issue. We can get creative with pillows and positions, but it's a huge risk for him every time. Degenerative back issues run in his family, so there's no easy fix here.

It's funny that I used to think sex was all about passion, fire, lust and spontaneity. Now, it's more a matter of patience, caution and calculated risk-taking.

Still hot, though.