Thursday, July 29, 2010

Teaching and petsitting and weddings, oh my!

It's been a busy few months, and as we all know, time flies. (I would like to point out that time flies whether you're having fun or not. Which is not to say that I haven't been having fun, but time would be flying regardless.) Anyway, Summer's here--almost over, in fact--and I've been a busy bee.

Starting in mid-May, I taught an ESL class at NVCC. It was Monday, Tuesday, Thursday 9:00-12:00. After class, I'd go straight to my full time job at PRD. It made for long days, but I LOVED my class, and it was totally worth it. The class was an advanced reading class, so I was teaching academic reading skills, vocab, and general college reading stuff. We went through two text books and a novel in 8 weeks. I felt sorry for my students, because they had so much to keep up with! The novel we read was Ernest Gaines's A Lesson Before Dying, which is one of the most beautiful & moving stories ever. Anyway, I had a lot of fun teaching. Class ended on July 12.

On July 3, I had a Very Important Event--Kara's wedding! It was beautiful, and a TON of fun. The weeks leading up to the wedding were busy, not surprisingly. One of the highlights was our trip to Doukenie Winery on the Tuesday before the wedding. It's a really nice place, and the wine was excellent (this is from me, a non-wine drinker). As bachelorette parties go, I have to say, this was a winner! It was a great day.

After the wedding, we had a small family gathering on the 4th. After the recent Big Events, it was quite lovely to have some quieter time. The evening of the fourth, I started a couple of pet sitting jobs (I pet sit through a pet sitting agency) that went through the next week. The week after that, I was on staycation, but had two additional pet sitting jobs to keep me from being too lazy. I've had pet sitting gigs consistently through the whole month of July (and it should keep going into August). Whew!

Now that life is slowing down a little bit (maybe), I've started some behind-the-scenes volunteering for Homeward Trails (that's the organization that Rachel & I fostered through when we roomed together. Rachel still fosters dogs with them). HT works with several shelters in the area, including King William County's Regional Animal Shelter. What I'm doing is reposting animals from RAS's petfinder listings to HT's petfinder listings (and then posting on Craigslist) to get the animals more exposure--and hopefully help them find fosters or adopters. It's a bit heartbreaking to see all of the homeless, helpless, abused, abandoned, etc. animals out there (and to know that many of them won't make it out of the shelter), but knowing that I might help a few of them makes it totally worth it. And frankly, it's easy. I just have to go to the library (or Starbucks, if I have my laptop with me), go online, and essentially copy & paste info. I hope I make a difference in some animals' lives!

So, that's me. What's new with everyone else?

Monday, April 26, 2010


This is from Sara and Brian Brandsmeier's blog, Ephphatha Poetry, originally from Tim Wise. It's incredibly thoughtful, not to mention thought-provoking. It's also very true. I believe whole-heartedly in freedom of speech, as well as the other freedoms protected in the First Amendment, but I also believe in respect, tolerance, and love. The behaviors that Wise addresses in this essay, while protected under the First, fall short of respecting, tolerating, and loving our fellow humans.

But isn't it great that we live in a culture where we can protest, say offensive and objectionable things, disrespect others--and call each other out on that behavior? I can't approve of saying or doing these things (I can, however, approve of protesting against them!), but thank God that we have that right. 

Imagine if the Tea Party Was Black

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Seek the Fashionisto

Seek likes climbing in my closet. It turns out, he also likes "helping" me fold laundry.
Or maybe he just puts up with me folding laundry on "his" bed.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Continuing Kitten Antics

Not surprisingly, Hide and Seek are still silly, energetic, and curious. The result is sometimes...hmm. Interesting may be the word.

Exhibit 1: I have a dangly mousie that hooks over the door on my bedroom door. The cats go crazy for it. On the other side of the door, I have my ironing board on a door-hook-thing. One morning recently, I woke up to a thunderous noise. Thinking the house was falling down around me, I jumped up to investigate. It turns out that Hide had managed to bat the mousie over the door. The cacophony was the sound of him climbing the ironing board to retrieve his toy.

Exhibit 2: Turns out, Seek likes clothes. If I open my closet door for more than a millisecond, both cats take advantage and go in to play (their names are appropriate, after all). Last week, I discovered Seek standing on my clothes. No, not on a pile of clothes on the floor or a shelf. ON THE CLOTHES ON HANGERS. I don't know how he got there or why he thought it was a good idea, but he's done it several times, so it must be fun.

Exhibit 3: They also, not surprisingly, like to jump up on the kitchen cabinets, where they can look down on me from their superior position. Typically, they jump to the counter next to the fridge (the only counter area they're allowed to be!), then up on top of the fridge, then to the cabinets. Okay, not abnormal, right? What is surprising is that, if I have the freezer door open, Hide will jump from the floor into the freezer. That's right, he jumps straight up about four feet into the FREEZER. Why? My only guess is that he likes surprising me.

That's all for now. I'm sure I'll have more ridiculous cat stories in days to come.

What is normal, anyway?

As I mentioned a few months ago, I started a new medication in December. It's made a remarkable difference. I feel...well...normal. Of course I still have moods, but the ups and downs aren't months-long, and they don't control me. I can be sad without it taking over my brain, and I can be happy without worrying about when it will end. How weird is that?

Another note about depression: one of the problems is that it can make you feel helpless and controlled by the condition. What I've discovered is that, in addition to therapy and medication, taking any concrete step makes a huge difference. Rather than wallowing, I just get up and clean the sink, or exercise for 10 minutes, or sweep the floor, or cook dinner. A small step makes a big difference! I guess Nike knows what they're talking about--just do it. 

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Book Junkie

I have a secret: I spent a bunch of time working on an exciting (to me, at least) project. I didn't tell anyone about it, because I didn't want any pressure or discouragement from anyone who might have thought I couldn't do it or that it wasn't a worthwhile use of my time.

So here it is: The Book Junkie! The Book Junkie is a website devoted to books--book reviews, book lists, book resources, book recommendations, etc. For anyone like me, who's addicted to books, I think it will be a lot of fun. In addition to my reviews, I've included several ways to interact with me/the site, including a discussion forum, where readers can critique my reviews. You can also follow the Book Junkie on Facebook (Yup! I set up a Facebook fan page) and on Twitter.

I'm very happy and excited to have completed the first stages of establishing my site--and even more excited at the prospect of keeping it up and running! I've found a way to do something practical with my love of reading and writing. Who'd have thunk it?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Updating the Fight

I wrote a couple of months ago about part of my experience with depression. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to talk with my family, my therapist, and my doctor. It turns out that my up-and-down cycles are not, in fact, normal. I can hear the well, duhs now. Of course it’s not normal, Kate. The thing is, it’s been so much better since I started on my antidepressant a few years ago that I assumed it was as good as it could get. My lows weren’t as low as they used to be, and the highs were longer and more stable. Until I talked with Mom, I never realized that I could feel better. That’s a big part of my problem—I don’t know what “normal” feels like, so I don’t have a good comparison for my version of normal. I was content with better.

Well. I talked with my therapist, Abbey (who is fabulous, by the way. If anyone needs a therapist, let me know & I’ll give you her contact info), describing the regular ups and downs. Keep in mind, I’ve been seeing her for about six years now, and I never mentioned this because I never realized that it was abnormal. Anyway, she said that it sounds like more than depression; it might be cyclothymia (mood cycles, essentially). Cyclothymia is actually in the bipolar spectrum, but it’s a very mild form. (And just so you know, I’ve never been suicidal, even though Mayo’s description includes that as part of the symptoms. So please don’t worry that I’m going to up & kill myself. I have way to strong of a guilt complex to ever do that.) So, after visiting my psychiatrist and talking with her, I started taking Lamictal in addition to the Celexa I’ve been taking for years. I’ve been on it for over a month now, and I think it’s making a difference. I still get sad sometimes, and I still get happy, but I don’t feel overwhelmed or controlled by moods—and they’re far less extreme. I feel…well...normal. Oh, and it’s cherry flavored!