Sunday, June 29, 2008

I recognize that this kind of negligence is unforgivable.

So, if I still have any readers left after having neglected to post some real content for this long, I am updating again. I'm going to divide this up by topic.

Quite a bit has been going on, but notably, one of them has been dealing with my heart. You may recall that I have sinus arrhythmia built into my heart, which means that I have an abnormal heart rate that is just outside the realm of normal. It doesn't pose any danger unless I let my life get out of hand and don't get any down time, in which case I tend to have things bordering on panic attacks in the form of tachycardia (really really fast heart rates above 100 beats per minute).

One trigger is menstruation. Annoying, but there it is. I am on some new hormones, and haven't had tachycardia for the past month, which is great. I had a bout with a medication my doctor wanted me to try to treat the accelerated heart rate, but they only exacerbated the palpitations and had horrible side effects (short term memory loss -- I lost my debit card, forgot my wallet on my desk at work, and had to write everything down or I'd forget it instantly). I decided to stop taking them (they were beta-blockers) given that the side-effects were worse than the reasons I was taking them. So, my doctor recommended that I wear a holster heart monitor again for another 24 hours (which I had done a few years back). Aside from the fact that it was uncomfortable and annoying (YOU try keeping those sticky electrode thingies in place while it's 90 degrees and humid and you sweat as much as I do), it yielded positive results. Whatever is going on with me is not in fact cardiac (based in my heart), so I am no in danger. I think it has to be endocrine system driven (hormone) because of the predictability of its rise around my period, and when I am so stressed out that I go into fight-or-flight mode. I have looked on health forums, and this problem is startlingly common to women. There has been no research done on it, but the good news is that I'm not some freak. Intriguingly, there were some accounts of other people with IBS suffering from these symptoms, so it's possible there is some nervous system connection (IBS is a disorder of the enteric nervous system, also affected by hormones.)

Grad School
No real news there, except to mention that I'm still gung-ho about cultural anthropology and applying to grad school. The plan is to pick out and edit writing samples this summer and visit the campuses this fall (when professors and grad students are actually on campus to talk to) -- and then complete the applications and submit them then.

Boy, oh, boy -- am I chafing under my lack of time off. I really hate having only 10 days in the entire year. Ten days doesn't go very far when you think need to divide it between going to the RMV, moving, time off around the holidays, and things like weddings and reunions. I even have to take Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve as vacation days! God forbid I should manage to take a little time off for myself. I started crying yesterday morning when daN made a joke about how he needs more time off (he's actually suffering from too much time on his hands since he is trying out being a teacher with no summer job). I hit burn-out a couple of months ago and couldn't do anything about it.

That being said, we're actually taking vacation in August! We're going to California! We'll be flying into San Francisco, and checking out what that area has to offer (Muir Woods and Wine Country are on the list, too) -- and then renting a car and driving south to L.A. to see Kal-El, Gilly, Jon and Judy in their digs out there. Should be a good time. I suspect that I will like San Francisco and not L.A., but I'm trying to be open about what Los Angeles has to offer -- for example, the fresh produce and juice bars.

As an aside, I also plan to take French classes again this summer. It's been a long time, and I need some refreshing.

Last but not least, there is a class reunion coming up -- August 9. Whoa, that's soon!

The other night I had a profound experience getting caught in one of Boston's latest: crazy thunderstorms every afternoon! I'm telling ya, we're on our way to becoming a rainforest. The climate is changing. The Rain was so intense that I couldn't see and couldn't breath unless I covered my mouth and pointed it downwards so that I wouldn't breathe in water. Breathing through the nose was simply not an option, because I would have got water up my nose no matter what. The Rain came on so quickly! As it has been every afternoon. One second, it's sunny. Ten seconds later, it's dark as 4am. Ten seconds later, there are a couple of large drops of rain -- still few enough to run between. Ten seconds later, it's a torrential downpour like you've never seen. Every day. Streets are flooding instantaneously, and people are getting soaked. Caught in the rain. Umbrellas are defenseless against it.

On this one particular occasion, I was on my way to pick up the car from being serviced at Herb Chambers in Allston. I was one of the few on the train who had been caught in the Rain. The B-line, you might recall, is an old enemy of mine, and it greeted me with all the stops and jerks that it could. It was also air-conditioned. I was freezing. And did I mention that I was wearing white? Fellow passengers looked at me with a mixture of disdain and pity for the whole 35 freezing minutes that I was on the train. When I got off the train, the sky was lighter, but it was still raining. So I ran to Herb Chambers, where I was able to use their bathroom. I was so cold that it hurt to pee. At that point, I was beyond misery. The whole experience had taken its toll on me.

By the time I battled with Boston rush-hour traffic back to our apartment in Jamaica Plain, I was out of words. I got through the door, put my stuff down, and raged. I experienced rage! Once that was over, I showered, and took my time about it. Shaving, hair-washing, ginger body salt, all were employed in my efforts to re-civilize myself.

After showering, I felt a sense of calm that I have not experienced since profound moments at Kripalu during my yoga training. I was quiet. I had no words to share. I had only a sense of peace. I did yoga. I ate. I sat with daN. I walked with daN. And I had been shaken to my core by this fast and furious Rain. And I experienced strong gratitude for the chance to be shoved back to center.

(Incidentally, as I wrote this part of my blog, it went from sunny humid to dark and pouring within three minutes. Rainforest, i'm telling you.)

As I was sitting at my doctor's office waiting to have my heart monitor installed, I picked up a copy of the magazine "dwell." I am in love. It was on renovating old spaces with modern interiors. That's perfect! I've always had a fascination with architecture, and have always loved old houses -- at least, the exterior of old houses. The fact is that most old houses are a bit choppy -- each room is blocked off. I've been chafing under such regimented spaces that define how we can use them recently. All our apartments have had quite defined spaces: kitchen, which is a different room from the dining room, which is a different room from the living room, etc. I am not complaining; I love our apartment and think we've really lucked out with apartments in this area. But I've been longing for more openness, more expanse, even without needing the same square footage. On the other hand, I'm also not in love with modern architecture's exterior appearances. Most do not impress me or interest me at all. So this particular issue of "dwell" inspired me. I bought it three days later.

Last weekend, daN and i were in Maine, and we got the chance to stop by Beth's farmstand in Warren, ME. There, I had the opportunity to purchase fresh Maine rhubarb and fresh Maine strawberries in the perfect quantity to make a strawberry rhubarb pie. Mmmmm! One of my favorites. And I have to say -- I've become rather good at making pie. I finally found a dough that is easy to work with, pieces back together well again after it breaks (inevitable) and is also tasty. Yay! I'm rather proud and happy.

Today, daN and i went to Newton to rent a canoe. For one hour of canoeing, it cost a grand total of $15.75 -- and it was beautiful. Yes, we could have gone to the Esplanade in Boston, but we were trying to get away from the city. And once we got away from that intersection of Routes 90, 95, and 30, it was rather peaceful. Check out pictures.

On Tuesday morning, my 1970 La Pavoni Europiccola chrome lever-pull espresso machine wouldn't turn off. And then it wouldn't turn on. Nooooo! I looked all over the internet to find someone in Boston who would touch one of them (since it's an Italian import, they're rather specialized, and most electricians won't go near them), and knowing that the nearest manufacture repair place is in New York City, I was a little saddened.

My internet searches yielded no results, so I decided upon a different approach. I walked down to the North End (read, Boston's Little Italy), strolled into Polcari's, and asked Bobby behind the counter if he knew someone. And he did. He was on the phone before I'd finished my sentence. The guy knew another guy, but he had moved, so Bobby got the new phone number. He called them. He told me to talk to Mary Lou at this phone number tomorrow between the hours of 8:30 and 4:00. I did. The following day, I was at a place called "Espresso Plus" located in the Accardi Brothers building in Medford's ugly Commercial Street district. I left it with them. It will be ready in about three weeks.

I'm sure the repairs will be hefty, but they'll be worth it. Let's not forget that I only paid $200 for this thing, and it retails for $700. Given how often I use it and how old it is, it's due some repairs, and I'm happy to shell out another two-hundred bucks to get it back into mint condition. While they're at it, I checked the "tune-up" box on the paperwork. I figured it couldn't hurt. In the meantime, my friend Patty is being kind enough to let me borrow her stove-top espresso maker so I can still have espresso in the morning. Drip coffee just isn't the same.

Monday, June 23, 2008

We (Heart) Superman!

Well, as you might know, I've been dusting off the acting skills and have been participating in a relatively low-commitment level but highly satisfying radioshow available on the internet!

I have been reading the voice of Lois Lane for a Play for Podcast called "We (Heart) Superman" (linked above). (If you don't have iTunes, there is a link to listen to it directly through your internet browser using Quicktime, as well -- or you can download the mp3).

It's not professional grade, of course, but the project is fun and the writing is funny. I'm enjoying myself.

The first two of six episodes are live and available for listening. We recorded the third episode last night, and it should be live in about two weeks. The shows are short and fun -- designed to run under 15 minutes. The second episode is near the top of the page. For the first episode, please scroll down. If you use iTunes, you can also subscribe to it just like other podcasts.

No obligations to listen to it, obviously, but I thought you might like to have the link. In the interest of full disclosure, the content leans closer to "PG-13" rather than "rated-G."