little shop of horrors (or the doll dismemberment project)

My latest greatest idea: doll dismemberment. But first a breif history. My grandmother and great aunt collected dolls from all over the world. When I was little my grandmother would let me play with the dolls whenever I visited. I was a girl who loved dolls. I played with dolls until I was about thirteen.  Eventually I inherited the dolls but I never had a place to display them so they remained in boxes for years. Except for a few of my favorites which are displayed in random places in my house. 

 A couple of years ago I got the idea to make some dolls. I got as far as the heads.  I wanted something different for the bodies, something that did not involve tedious sewing and stuffing of tiny hands and feet, and attachment of limbs. Way too much work. So the heads sat in my sewing room patiently waiting for  bodies. Then the other day it came to me. I happened to see some very interesting sculptures that incorporated doll parts, mostly heads with other vintage items, mostly tin. Teapots, spice cans, egg beaters, spoons. Since I don’t weld I knew  tin “bodies” were out of the question. Then I remembered my doll collection. I am surprised that I let this idea take shape. I did have a moment where I thought, “Sarah, you can’t do this. It’s just not right. Your grandmothers will be turning in their graves.”  Then I remembered my grandmothers don’t have graves (they were cremated), and even if they did neither of them were the type that would turn in them. And also, it’s not like I think they are watching me from heaven or anything. And it’s not like I believe in heaven.  And so I called my mother instead, or just in case, to get her “permission” knowing she would say “go for it”. Which she did. She is not one to cling to things. So I went about the task of dismembering my dolls. I did not have a plan really. It was more like a vague idea of something that might be interesting. Some of the heads came off easily with a few tugs. Some had to be twisted and pulled, a few sawed off with a kitchen knife. Still others cracked in my hand, rendering them useless. The dolls were old, very old. They were in bad condition. That’s what I kept telling myself as I seperated their heads from their bodies. I appogized a lot. It’s not like I think the dolls care. But dolls can be scary, especially decapitated ones.  I think of dolls as vengful creatures. Even the sweet looking ones. Especially the sweet looking ones. But I could not let fear stand in the way of art.  “Art” is probably not the right word here.  Maybe I just couldn’t let fear stand in the way of me needing a new project, a new way to mess up my house, or keep me from balancing my checkbook.  What ever the reason the results were nothing short of disturbing.

My doll dismemberment project is not over. I’m just taking a break. I decided to try writing again. Maybe that’s what this project was all about. Something new to write about. Oh, the lengths I will go to for a story.

For all the gory details check out the Sew Crafty page

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getting a life

I have not been a consistent blogger. And I feel I owe my audience an explanation. I also feel that it is a stretch to use the word audience in this situation. But, I never said big audience and I think that an audience of three or four is still an audience. I also think very highly of my small audience, naturally I think they, and by they I mean you, are the best audience. This is evidenced by their (your) fabulous comments and very good taste. You (they) should read all of your (their) blogs too. At this point you should  be very confused and by you I mean you.

The reason I have come up with for my poor blogging etiquette is that I just recently got a life. There a lot of really good things about having a life (more on that later) but right now I am going to concentrate on the not so good things about having a life. I do this because I am much more comfortable talking about negative things than positive things. Looking on the bright side just makes people who have truly hard lives feel worse, I think. I have no evidence to back this up, but it just makes sense to me. And I am all about making people feel better, not worse. Also, I have a hard time finding the humor in happiness, so when ever I try to write happy it just comes out sappy, and nobody benefits from that.

Any who, back to getting a life. Thanks to a delicate balance of four different drugs, I find that I am back in the game. I can do things now, real things. I can make appointments before 2:00 in the afternoon. I can make impromptu dates at 9:00 at night. I can go gluten free again without going crazy. I can lose five pounds without losing my mind. I can get up from my cozy spot on the couch to straighten a crooked picture (why?).  I can balance my checkbook without taking a Xanax. I can get up at 7:00 without crashing three hours later. I can make my bed every morning and put all my clothes away. On top of all this I have two very part-time jobs that I am actually getting paid for. And two jobs that I am not getting paid for, just to even things out. I’m still not actually making any money but I’m assuming that will come after I get the swing of having a life. Or maybe not. Money is not my thing. Let me clarify, making money is not my thing. I just not good at it. Spending money is where I really shine.

So what’s the down side you ask? The down side is that I cannot stop myself from doing. Now that I am back to doing I cannot not do. I must force myself to sit down and take a load off. I have not read a book or a whole magazine article in a month. I can’t remember if I used to be like this. I never thought of myself as a type A person. But looking back on my life before I got really sick and tired I was kind of obsessive or at the very least determined. I never thought of it that way though. I never noticed it. Not like I do now. I never stopped to think about the fact that I was falling apart while I went to law school at night when my children were in grade school, and I was in a back and leg brace and my hand was in  a cast and my marriage was  in the toilet. I just kept ticking.  Not like the energizer bunny. More like a bomb.

So here I am with a life that is powered not by real energy but by drugs. And some of these drugs have obsessive compulsive qualities (as discussed in a previous post). The result is a highly functioning, very busy, slightly obsessive, people pleaser who is precariously perched on the edge of  her life.

And so my dear audience, all of this is just my way of saying that  I’m too busy to update my blog.

tick, tick, tick……….

march of the emotions

A flyway is a flight path used in bird migration. The specific routes may be genetically programed, but that’s not the whole story, I’ll get to that later later. No, I am not writing a research paper, I am trying to make the analogy between human emotions, chronic pain, migratory flight patterns and the march of the penguins. Not entirely sure it is worth exploring further. In fact, almost certain that it is not. But I shall march on none the less. Because, like the penguins, that’s what I do.

I read somewhere that our life history is recorded in our nervous system. Our thoughts, emotions and activities create neuropathways. The pathways communicate information to the central nervous system and we experience it and our brain interprets it. The experience of pain, like all other sensations, is recorded in these neuropathways. One theory about fibromyalgia is that is the result of over active nerves. Our brain keeps getting a pain signal even when there isn’t anything externally causing the pain. The more pain you feel, the more pain you feel. It’s a vicious cycle. The neuropathways are like the grooves in a rock where the water has run in the same place year after year. It becomes a pattern that it is hard to break. The second we feel stress, or fear or pain there is a map showing us the way to go. It’s almost like we don’t have a choice. It’s almost like we are stuck in a flyway. Or maybe we are like the emperor penguins marching on and on, through freezing blizzards; with ineffective legs and wings that don’t work because that’s what emperor penguins have always done.

My brother loved penguins when he was little. Because of that I have always had an affinity for them too. That was before I saw the movie, March of the Penguins, now I find them depressing. Maybe it is all part of some intelligent design. But from where I sit it seems pretty stupid. I think of them rolling that egg back and forth until the father penguin can “catch”the egg and store it semi safely somewhere under him. Then off goes the mother waddling seventy or so miles to the water. I just have to say those legs were not made for walking. It just doesn’t seem right, what with evolution and all, that something like this is happening in this day and age. Maybe it just reminds me of how slowly I plod along in my life. Plodding, plodding, occasionally getting to slide a little on my belly down a hill, but mostly walking slowly toward something. It’s frustrating to say the least.

Even so, there is something comforting about patterns and lists and familiar routes. It helps to make sense of things. I suppose that is why we humans latch onto ideas like the twelve steps or the Ten Commandments or the five stages of grief. We like to know what we’re in for. We like to have some guideposts. Maybe denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are our flyway through grief. But do all of us go through the same steps?  Does everyone who has loved and lost suffer in the same way? Possibly, but maybe it’s just an invention; a way to make sense out of nonsense.

Birds may be genetically programmed to fly south in the winter, but they have to be flexible; they know enough to have an alternate route in case of bad weather, lack of food or other changing conditions. I’d like to say the same about myself. I’d like to think that I could change my course if I could see a better way, a less painful route. I know from experience that it takes a lot to find a new rock and start a new groove. And some things may never change no matter how hard we try.

fat and happy (sort of, maybe)

Yesterday I bought five inch high heels and a Bollywood dance/exercise DVD. What is wrong with me? Really, I want to know what is wrong with me. Of course I have a theory and of course I’m going to share it with  you in the hopes that it helps one of us. I think I’m afraid and when I’m afraid I do things that don’t make sense. What are you afraid of? you ask. I’m afraid that if things keep going the way they are that in about two months I will weigh about 200 pounds.

Like most women I know, I have always wanted to weigh five or ten pounds less than I do. But most of the diets I have been on were to improve my health. There was the candida diet, the alkaline diet, the anti-inflammation diet, the gluten free diet and the no sugar  or refined carbohydrate diet. None of the diets made a difference in my health but it did leave me with some fun  food and deprivation issues  (long story, I’ll tell you sometime. Maybe next week).

Along with my food issues I have exercise issues. It has been a long time since I have been able run, jump, hike, dance, lift weights, jump rope, skip or do cartwheels. Actually, I have never been able to do a cartwheel just like I have never been able to dive. I hated PE and was that girl who got picked last for the softball team. So it’s fair to say that I’ve never been the athletic type. Still, I keep trying to find things I can do to keep my muscles a tiny bit toned and my skin and other things from going to the deep south. I joined Curves for awhile but I kept hurting myself (usually, it was just from getting on or off the machine. You have to be quick at Curves). When I am walking  in the redwoods and the sunlight is shinning through the tress I sometimes get this very strong urge to run down the hill. One time I did run down the hill. Mistake. Then I got the idea to just visualize running down the hill while I was walking. That takes a lot of mental gymnastics which I’m not very good at either. What I really want to do is dance. Dancing makes me feel happy and free. At least it used to. Now it it makes me feel sore.  Not just a little sore, hit by a truck sore. That may be a tiny bit dramatic. I’ll rephrase that. Hit by a VW beetle  sore. By the way, my next car is going to be a VW beetle, light blue, black top convertible (I think it will go well my stilettos and sound track to SLumdog Millionaire).

But I digress. Back to the facts. Fact: I’m afraid that in a matter of months I will weigh two hundred pounds. You may think my fear is unfounded. And I have tried very hard not to go all bat shit, monkey mind, crazy with this but the facts are stacking up in favor of massive weight gain. Over the past two years my weight has crept up very slowly. Part of this is age, part of it is  thyroid disease, part of it is not being able to exercise. Each time my weight increases I work very hard on acceptance. And just when I reach a new level of acceptance I reach a new level of weight gain.  If you are like me, and I hope for your sake you are not, you have a magic number on the scale. And by magic I mean scary, horrible and depressing. This is the number you swear you will not go above.  I am not saying what my number is, but guess what, I’ve reached it. I reached it almost over night. I’m not kidding. One day my skirt fit the next day it did not.  I have attributed this five pound overnight weight gain to Neurontin. I have only been on this drug for ten days. One of the side effects is weight gain, specifically water retention.  I am on a very low dose which will slowly increase along with, I fear, my waist, hips, thighs, stomach and upper arms. I have been in panic mode. I don’t know if the drug is working yet. If it helps my pain that would be amazing. But it occurs to me, and this in itself is disturbing, do I want less pain if it means more fat?  Yes, yes, yes, maybe, it depends on how much less pain and how much more fat.

I have a lot more to say but Bollywood is calling.

i have no idea what to call this mess

I so need to have my head examined. I mean seriously. What is wrong with me? I never noticed it before. Or at least not the way I am noticing it now. I so do not know how to relax. I have been blaming it on the medication. But if I am being totally honest (and I don’t know how to tell if I am because I am a really good liar) I think I have been this way for a long time. I think that is part of what got me into this mess. But back to me. I am so obnoxious. I don’t pay attention to my body. I do things I know I shouldn’t do like rearrange the entire house in one afternoon and then wonder why I can’t move. I just get so @#%# mad that I can’t do the things I think I should be able to do, because for the most part I don’t want to do big things (aside from rearranging the entire house in one afternoon). Mostly I want to do very small things. So I guess I think that I will get even with myself for not being able to do these little things by going totally crazy and walking five miles or driving to Petaluma. Yes, I think that’s it. I am punishing myself for not being able to do little things by doing dumb medium- sized or big (for me) things. I need to have my head examined. Oh, wait. I have had my head examined pretty much weekly for the past twenty-five years. “How’s that working for you?” you ask. “Not so much” I reply.

I feel like a retarded maniac. I know I’m not supposed to use the word retarded, but I think it’s okay to use it on myself. Correct me if I’m wrong. But if there ever was a good use of the word I’m it. When I say retarded maniac, I’m thinking along the lines of idiot savant. Because really, I do manage to accomplish some really good things as a retarded maniac. Like, for instance (and I know I am using poor grammar/English throughout this charming little slice of my life) you should see what I’ve done with my living room, not to mention my central nervous system. Some day I will post a picture of my living room because a picture is worth a thousand words and I’m way too tired to type that many words right now. My central nervous system, well, I’ll give it a whirl because frankly, a picture of that would just be gross. Anyway, I’ve created a hot mess there. I think I started collecting junk without noticing and then when I finally realized that there was no place to lie down or put my feet up it was too late. It’s very cluttered in there. The electricity is all messed up. Nerves are firing  all the time, day or night. My brain is constantly leaving weird messages on the answering machine that no one else in there understands. Honestly, it’s just too much blabbering, we all just stopped paying attention after a while (you may want to refer back to post on multiple personalities). I think part of the problem is that my nerve endings have not been cleaned in ages. I should probably just get new ones at this point. I could literally go on and on like this almost forever due to the whole retarded maniac thing but I think I’m going to stop before this gets weird and I embarrass myself in front of hundreds of three people.

desperation is the mother of stupidity

When you are in pain, exercise is tricky. When you are sick and tired and you have a thyroid condition weight control is tricky. When you are on a gluten free, sugar free, alcohol free, toxin free diet eating less than you already do is unhealthy and tricky and having fun is out of the question. When all of these things combine forces sometimes you find yourself desperate.  You have tried all the physical therapy, swimming, chi gong, pilates, etc., that has been recommended and you end up feeling worse than before.  But this doesn’t stop you from coming up with some brilliant ideas.  Actually this is why you come up with the brilliant ideas.  You are desperate.  And desperation is the first warning sign that a particular thing may not be a good idea.  The second warning sign is the failure to communicate your brilliant idea to someone else. When I haven’t told my best friend, my therapist or my diary about my idea that’s a sure sign that it’s a bad idea.  That is what happened recently.  I walked up hill for an hour.  I didn’t build up to it I just decided one morning that that’s what I needed to do.  Ignore all my symptoms get moving, jump start my body.  It’s not like I hadn’t done it before, five years ago.  My friend was immediately on my case.  But I quickly reminded her about her most recent brilliant idea which she neglected to tell me about.  Had she consulted with me before she purchased the Malibu Pilates Machine that she had seen advertised on TV? No she hadn’t. Had she hurt herself the first time she used it? Yes she had.  But she wanted a Malibu body and who could blame her.  I want a Malibu body too.  In fact that is exactly how I got into this latest mess.  It’s one thing to feel bad, but it’s quite another to have it start showing up on your body in bold letters. THIS WOMAN HAS NOT EXERCISED IN 5 YEARSTHIS WOMAN HAS GIVEN UP. Tired, sick depressed people want to look good too.  So I didn’t tell a soul and headed up that hill.

They say that woman forget the pain of childbirth and that is what makes it possible for them to do it again.  I did it twice not because I forgot what it was like but because I knew the baby would be worth it. And after my babies were born I never once thought that they weren’t worth three days of labor (each) and a lifetime of therapy (theirs and mine). I guess I thought the baby would be worth it this time too.  The baby being a stronger, smaller me.  Let’s just say it wasn’t. Let’s just say I came very close to asking a complete stranger for a ride home.  Lets just say I started talking to a complete stranger, some of you know him as God.  But seeing as he had never heard of me that was pretty much a bust.  So I made it home on my own sheer determination.  Some of you may argue at this point that God may have had something to do with said determination, but I remain unconvinced.

whine festival

It might have been the shoes. I had picked out a comfortable pair, not my most comfortable pair.  I wanted to look nice but I needed comfort.  My closet is full of fabulous shoes.  High heels, wedges, flats with bows, red patent leather.  My own particular brand of denial.   But this is not a story about shoes it is story about art and wine and not knowing.

It might have been the wine I had been tasting all afternoon.  .  It was going to my head, but not in a good way.  It might have been the overpriced art; the photographs that looked like paintings, the brightly painted pottery or the over abundance of glass pumpkins, but an hour into the art and wine festival things were stating to go very badly for me.  Of course I knew this was a possibility.  Strolling is bad for me.  The leisurely walk, the stopping to look at a necklace or chat with friends, that’s what usually does me in.  But not always.  And that is, I suppose why I keep going.

It might have been the fact that I hadn’t exercised in weeks, or stretched in days.  It might have been the afternoon of baking.  Standing in the kitchen stirring, beating and whipping.  Maybe it was the fight I’d had with my husband.  I had cried a lot.  Maybe it was all those tears.  The sadness filling up and pouring out, a never ending flow it sometimes seems.  It might have been the nightly spasms I’d been having from a too high dose of medication, my body jerking so hard I thought I would throw up.  It might have been the other pills I’d had to take to calm my nerves.

It might have been the self pity; the unfairness of it all.  The frustration.  I didn’t want to climb a mountain or run a marathon. I only wanted to stroll.  It could be all the wanting, and the whining.  All the art I couldn’t make, not because I didn’t have the talent, or the desire, but because I didn’t have the stamina.

It might be that I haven’t tried hard enough, or that I’ve tried too hard. That I’ve held on too long or not long enough.  It might be karma.  It might be dogma, the bullshit I have laid on myself for forty-six years.

It might be mother’s fault, my father’s fault or some faulty wiring I was born with.   It could be God or me not believing in God.  Maybe it’s toxins.  They are everywhere.  It could be cancer, but it’s not.  It could be chronic fatigue, or chronic pain, or chronic lyme disease.  It might be fibromyalgia, or arthritis, or spinal stenosis.  Maybe it was law school or wheat or dairy or getting married too young. Maybe its multiple sclerosis or not enough multiple orgasms.

It might be chronic fear. Fear of failure or success, or too much time too think.  Too many symptoms felt then googled, googled then felt.  A chronic overload of internet sites and you tube videos.  Maybe it’s the lyrics in the songs I’ve heard too many times. “The Road Goes on Forever and the Party Never Ends.”  Maybe I’m too serious, over sensitive and needy.  Maybe it’s the lack of nurturing, the mother’s milk I didn’t drink.  Maybe there was something in the water.

It could be that I’m a hypochondriac.  Maybe it’s all in my head.  Maybe it’s because there are places in my brain where the blood doesn’t flow. Maybe this is true for everyone; they’re just not vain enough to have a picture taken of it. Yes, it could be vanity. It could be jealousy and envy.

Maybe if I had read The Artist’s Way, been an interior decorator, followed my bliss, figured out what color my parachute was, maybe then my body would be happy to stroll leisurely through the crowd, admiring the beauty of the world, the ocean right in front of me; the birds and flowers etched into a ceramic bowl.

And then again, maybe if I had done everything differently I would still be right where I am.

walk a mile in my shoes

My brother got married on Friday. But this is not about him. It’s about me. It’s always about me. I spent the past week  preoccupied with all things wedding; family coming to town, hotel reservations, which dress to wear, and most importantly which shoes to wear. It was a beach wedding. Not a warm Hawaii beach wedding, a cold Northern California beach wedding at 11:00 in the morning. All signs pointed to wind and maybe even rain. The bride would be  barefoot. Barefoot was not an option for me. I don’t like my feet and I don’t like to be cold. Shoes were a problem though. What kind of shoes can you wear on the beach? Or more to the point, what kind of cute shoes can you wear on the beach? Tennis shoes and flip flops were out of the question for me (not cute).  And I couldn’t wear the fabulous shoes that go with the polka dot dress I would be wearing, at least not until later at the reception. In the end I settled on cowboy boots. It was an interesting look, but I think I pulled it off.

Even when I am feeling bad I want to look good, or at least not as bad as I feel.  I shower every day, blow dry my hair and put my face on.  For me putting an outfit together is kind of like creating a collage or sewing a quilt. I love experimenting with color, pattern and texture. I especially enjoy putting unexpected things together. But shoes can make or break an outfit. You can be wearing the cutest outfit ever, but throw a pair of clogs on and the whole look is ruined.  Unfortunately for me clogs are the only shoes that I can wear for long periods of time that don’t make me hurt all over.  It’s not like you would ever see me wearing a five inch stiletto or some ridiculously pointy-toed thing, but there have been many times when I have chosen to be in pain rather than wear ugly shoes.

Like most things in my life it’s a balancing act. Looking good makes me feel better, but if I’m always hiding how I feel it can back fire. It can start to look like denial, or perfectionism. There is a fine line with chronic illness. It can become your identity easily. On the other hand if you try to ignore it, as I have done before, you can over do it and end up in worse shape. I have a constant push-pull when it comes to taking care of myself.

I recently came across this bit of writing that came from a guided mediation about a doorway. Somehow I went from the doorway right to the shoes. I guess I can make almost anything about shoes. Anyway, it kind of sums up this balancing act of mine.

I am standing in a doorway. There are beams of light behind me. In front of me is a field of flowers.  My legs are wide apart, my arms are out at my sides so that I am taking up most of the door way. I am wearing exactly what I am wearing today except that in my vision I am wearing Dansko clogs.  This is significant only because these are the only shoes that I can comfortably wear and I need to be strong and safe and comfortable in the doorway. The vision stops here because I am immediately more interested in shoes than anything else. I think about all the shoes I would wear if I could.  These shoes that I am dreaming of would not be clogs. I think about the price I would pay, physically for wearing these shoes. I think about the price I pay for all my small indulgences.  One day I wear shoes that are not clogs because a girl cannot live in clogs alone. At least not this girl. Then sometime later, I have extra pain everywhere. And I know it is from the shoes. And then, another time, I take a break from this diet I have been on for six months. It is too strict I decide. I need to loosen up I tell myself. And I do. I decide to go on a happiness diet.  It seems like a good idea at the time. I will only eat things that make me happy. But this is tricky because there is happy in the moment and unhappiness later in my body. And everything falls apart. And I realize the rigid diet was helping and the rigid shoes were helping. And it’s hard to live this way. Especially since I am already too rigid and too hard on myself and I don’t want to be this way. I am a walking contradiction. One foot in a sensible shoe, one foot in a stiletto. And it feels precarious. I don’t know which direction to go. I am afraid when I step out I will make a wrong move. It will be small, wrong moves usually are. But eventually it will catch up with me like bad posture and bad judgment and chocolate brownies and being too hard on myself and forgetting where my shoulders are and sticking my neck out too far and trusting a man or trusting the universe. And before I know it I’ve lost my way again and my legs are shaking and I feel smaller and the clouds roll in and the flowers have died.

p.s. the wedding was wonderful, the bride was beautiful and my brother was beaming.

stick this on your bumper

Yesterday I saw a bumper sticker that said “No bad days. ” I didn’t take it well.  It pissed me off. “What’s so special about you?” I wanted to ask. “How have you managed to go trough life with no bad days? What’s your secret? Is your secret The Secret?”  And another thing, without bad days there can be no good days. That’s the way life is. You can’t appreciate a good day if you have no bad days.  Maybe I’m overacting a tad. Maybe I’m jealous a tad. But really it just seems so arrogant to me. No bad days. I don’t buy it. Not for a minute.  But still I would like to meet this person, and maybe find out what they’re smoking.  This person would have to stoned all the time, don’t you think? Drugs, that has to be the secret.

No bad days got me thinking about all the other things that people say to make themselves feel better. It’s more like a rant then a bumper sticker, but maybe if I had a really big car…

Sarah’s rant

I don’t believe that things happen for a reason.  When bad things happen to good people, or when dumb things happen to smart people I tend to think it’s random, bad luck.   I don’t believe in God but I think that he often gives us more than we can handle.  I like the idea of karma but I’m not sure how far to take it. I guess I agree that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but often I think it just makes you stranger.  I try to make the best of a bad situation. I can sometimes see that every cloud has a silver lining.  But more often than not I see the glass as half empty.  I hate it when people tell me to look on the bright side; that things could always be worse. Is this supposed to make me feel better?  Things could always be worse is not a happy thought for me.  When I feel like there is a knife stuck in my back I do not tend to think how lucky I am that there is not another one stuck in my head.