The heart of the matter

I have old lady knees. Also old lady eyes. I do old lady-type crafts and have old lady habits.

So it shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise that my heart isn’t all that spry.

I’ve been dragging my old lady ass to the doctor on and off for the last few years to refill prescriptions and get the occasional testing of the lady parts. They started monitoring my blood pressure as one time it read as a bit high, so they put a note in my file to check it whenever I came it.

With my doctor on mat leave, it fell to a nurse practioner and the walk-in doc to finally send me for an ECG and order me to start walking and cut out salt and drop some weight otherwise I’d be going on meds.

OK, fine. I started walking for 30 minutes five times a week, I reduced my salt intake, and since I was already working on losing weight to take the pressure off the aforementioned old lady knees, I just kept going with it.

I figured, I’ve done all the things a medical professional said I should do, it should go down right? Of course it will. I’m 36, this shouldn’t even be an issue.

Oh, except it is.

The ECG came back with a regular heart rhythm (yay) but a dialted left chamber (uh, what?).

See, only the bottom (diastolic) number was high, the top (systolic) number was usually within a normal range.

Again, uh, what?

How does that even work?

Apparently it’s not super common, and it has a big name (dialted cardiomyopathy), is more common in men, and can be caused by obesity, alcoholism, thyroid disease, diabetes, and doing an excessive amount of cocaine.

I really need to cut back on the *cocaine.

So since the doctor doesn’t know what is causing this condition for me, we’re playing the elimination game to try and find out.

I’m switching my birth control from the pill that has two hormones to an IUD that only has one. I’m taking off weight for both my knees and my heart now (down 15 pounds, yay me), I’m still going for walks and cutting back on the salt. I’ve also been put on water pills to try and lower my blood pressure in the meantime. Day one on those had me peeing every 45 minutes… I lost two pounds just from peeing.

I went for another ECG and blood work yesterday, have my IUD appointment next month, and will likely have a follow-up regarding the testing at some point.

Can I just say that this is kinda bullshit?

I’m 36, I’m not even at the mid-life crisis point of my existence…like what the actual fuck nonsense is this?!?

Anyway…

I’m gonna go back to my old lady crocheting because I’m pretty sure that’s one of the only things keeping me chill at this point.

To end this post on a high note, look at this super cute bunny stuffie I got myself for Easter instead of a chocolate bunny:

-A.

*This is totally a joke, I don’t do cocaine. Please don’t think I’m on cocaine.

Back at it

It’s been far too long since I wrote anything, and I’m clearly overdue for something resembling an update.

The last several months have been trying. I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in both of my knees, which goes a long way in explaining why they have hurt so fucking much over the last couple years. It was going to happen eventually, what with both my mother and grandmother having it, but a lifetime of random knee injuries (thank you softball, cross country skiing, and roller derby) and my weight gain over the years meant it just happend a lot earlier than expected.

Since knee replacements only last about 10 years, and you can only do so many of them before you run out of leg bone, and I’m only 36, surgery is an absolute last resort. I’m going to physio when I’m actually in town (with exercises to do at home and out in the field) and I’m working on taking some weight off to take the pressure off the knee joints. I’d like to not hear that gross bone-on-bone grinding sound if at all possible.

I also have to start moving more. I stopped going to the gym because of the pain, but apparently I need to keep moving even though it hurts to do so… total catch-22 over here.

So that’s me health-wise. Not great, but working at doing better.

I’m marking my one-year anniversary with my new career as an oilfield medic, and it’s been a pretty great year if I’m being honest. Working with people that actually respect you and care about your wellbeing is weird, but also kinda nice? I actually got a mini-lecture from a coworker about not letting people know I was OK when I got back from the field on Monday, because they were worried when no one had heard from me.

I had a whopping TWO incidents on site, and both times the guy just needed a band-aid. So the rest of my time was spent devouring books, watching Netflix, and crocheting the shit out of everything.

I set a New Year’s goal for myself last year to master the Magic Ring for crochet. It took forever, but looking at the things I’ve made this year, I think I definitely succeeded. Take a look here to see my first attempt at amigurumi and here to see how far I’ve come over the year. I’m pretty impressed with myself.

I’ve even managed to sell a few things, so maybe that should be the goal for 2019? Get myself set up with a Facebook page, get a good supply of stock together and try to make some bank on this little hobby. Couldn’t hurt, right?

I’ve already started to turn the spare room into the offical Craft Room so I have a specific place to crochet and write, as I’m doing now. When I’m actualy at home, I intend to spend at least an hour in here doing something creative, whatever that may be.

So yeah, that’s it for now. I’m planning to get back into my weekly rants again, but we’ll see how that goes. Keep an eye out if you’re of a mind.

-A.

I Believe You

I keep watching all the shit going on in the U.S. right now and I just want to throat punch someone.

The sheer number of people who are all for giving men a free pass for shit they did as teenagers is absolutely appalling.

The bullshit coming out of the U.S. over Brett Kavanaugh and his alleged assaults and inappropriate behaviour towards women in his younger days should literally bar him from sitting on the supreme court, or any court for that matter. I don’t understand how this is even a question. How can you trust the judgement of someone that apparently had no qualms about attempting to rape someone and laughed their ass off while doing it?

Wouldn’t you think that he’d have his own biases when judging cases like that? That he’d be more likely to side with the accused because he himself did things like that and clearly the victim is just making shit up because it’s not that big a deal?

This is sending a horrific message to young girls – if a guy takes his dick out and trys to shove it in your face, you should just, I dunno, laugh about it? Or if he holds you down and tries to put his dick inside you, you should just chalk it up to being a youthful indescretion? What the actual fuck?

And then hearing the goddamn president literally dismiss the accusations as an attempt to ruin the life of his personal pick for SCOTUS when he himself has been accused of sexual assault…

Jesus Fucking Christ.

Girls, I know it seems like no one cares about what happened to you. Hearing the people in power dismiss your feelings or call you a liar is disheartening. It feels like you should just give up and try to forget about it because what good will it do if no one believes you?

But there are people that believe you. I believe you. Please don’t give up or give in to dispair. There are people out there willing to help.

I believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. I believe survivors of sexual assault.

If you have been assaulted, please tell someone. Doesn’t matter who, just find someone you trust. If you feel like you can report it to the police, please do so. Those that would harm you need to be held accountable for their crimes.

It’s going to be an uphill battle, but it can be won.

I have to believe that.

-A.

A Year of Yarn

According to Facebook Memories, it’s been just over a year since I picked up those crochet hooks at that Walmart in Montana and returned to Canada to root through that bin of yarn Mom had in her basement.

Oh what a year it’s been.

The whole reason I started crocheting was to stave off the likely inevitable osteoarthritis that runs in the hands of women in my family. Grandma has it pretty bad, and Mom’s got it started, so keeping the fingers limber and active seemed like a good idea.

Idle hands and all that.

We picked up a few different sized hooks and I pulled a bunch of yarn out. It turns out you can learn any damn thing by watching YouTube videos.

So I found a video for beginners and got started.

My first and second attempt. Good god these are awful.

I actually enjoy reptitive tasks; I find it meditative. It’s easier for me to think and I’ve come up with some of my most epic creative ideas while doing such repetitive tasks. Basic crochet is literally just repetition – row after row of the same motion for as long as you want.

Where has this been all my life?!

I started off easy – trying to make squares and maybe add a boarder – just trying to master the basic single crochet stitch.
I started gaining the confidence to try different stitches and patterns and my work started to get more and more esthetically pleasing. Hell, they were good enough that I started giving them away to friends.

At the same time I made hats and handwarmers and scarves, all fairly straightforward projects that were functional and could be worn and shown off.

The sheer number of hats and stuff I made over the winter, just to keep myself busy while sitting in the truck or the medic shack all day, was insane. Watch an instructional video a few times, get the pattern down pat, and go for it.

Then I got on a blanket kick and started doing infinite granny square blankets, which were a nice little project for sitting in the truck. They were square and large enough to cover one’s lap while reading on the couch or something.

And then I discovered amigurumi.

Making little animals and people and things that were small and cute was fun and fairly easy…once I got the whole magic ring down anyway.

I made cats and owls and octopi, I even found a pattern for Porgs! I love Porgs! You could crochet pretty much anything from nerd culture and it was amazing.

But I think I may have found my calling when I came across a patten for a spooky little Nightmare Before Christmas type doll. It had more pieces than anything I’d done before, but the stitches were basic so I bought the pattern and gave it a go.

This is the end result.

I want a kitty hat too, I should make one.

I look at this doll and I’m stunned that I actually made it. She tool three days and something like 15 hours, but it was so satisfying to finish, moreso than the other stuff I’d made.

The fact that I’ve gone from that first photo to the one above in a little over a year is pretty awesome, I think.

Looking forward to many more yarn years to come.

-A.

Tell me a story…

So as I wrote in another post a while back, I’ve been working on my fiction writing skills.

After several attempts to turn words into coherent sentences, I finally got a short story written, revised, edited and submitted to a lit magazine contest.

Pulp Literature’s Hummingbird Flash Fiction contest was for stories under 1000 words and could be about pretty much anything. Coming off a decade in journalism where you write clear, concise, and to-the-point articles, writing a flash fiction story felt more natural than trying to world-build and extensive character development.

Is that a cop out? I dunno, perhaps.

So I hummed and hawed and questioned myself and doubted myself and let my anxiety run away with me for a bit before hitting ‘submit’ on the website.

And then it went to the back of my mind and I almost forgot about it.

In the meantime I worked on some other stories – I wrote three pages of a post-apocalyptic dystopian story that got wiped from my hard drive and started on a creative non-fiction piece, which is more in my wheelhouse – and just kept going.

Then I got an email one night saying my wee little story made the longlist for the contest. That means it was good enough to be considered for the top prize. That means it wasn’t terrible.

If that’s not pure validation I don’t know what is. Considering all I was expecting was a critique of the story, this was very exciting.

I didn’t make it any farther than the longlist, but I still feel pretty accomplished.

Now, I had a few people as to read to the story, because of course they do, why wouldn’t they? But I am reluctant to share the story at this point in time.

Why? Because it’s about a mass shooting in a grocery store.

You may have heard about a similar situation in the states at a Trader Joe’s in Los Angeles on July 21. This was a coincidence to the nth degree, though I suppose it was only a matter of time before mass shootings in the states went from schools, movie theatres, and churches to the local supermarket.

Another “why” folks may be asking is, why did I write about such a bleak subject? My short story ideas come from a list of nightmares I’ve had over the years. If the dream is vivid enough that I actually remember it, I usually write down the gist of what happened and use it as a story prompt. One of those was about hiding amongst the hot dogs while someone was holding shoppers hostage at some random store.

So, yeah. It would be a bit insensitive to post the story here where the public can see it. Maybe some day, but not right now.

For the time being, I’m just gonna keep plugging away on my little Chromebook and get some more of these ideas out of my head.

Wish me luck.

-A.

UPDATE: I received the critique on this story last night and it was positively glowing. A couple things to change, but beyond that all positive feedback. I really don’t suck after all!

History repeats itself

Well I definitely have to eat crow right about now.

Way back in the before time of 2016, when a so-called billionaire was running for the highest office of our neighbours to the south, I wrote a column about how everyone was comparing this sack of shit to Hitler. I wrote there was no way the United States of America would ever allow a modern Nazi party to take over and start putting people in camps and bringing about another Holocaust. Hyperbole, I scoffed. It’ll be OK, I wrote. It’ll be an amusing anecdote in a poli-sci textbook someday.

Oh, how wrong I was…Way to fail me and everyone else on the planet, America.

I honestly didn’t believe it could happen. I thought people were better than this. And yet, here we are. The leader of the free world wants to be just like some of the most ruthless dictators alive today, ones that starve and outright murder their citizens. He’s dehumanizing certain groups of people because they don’t look like him. His dumbfuck administration is taking migrant children away from their parents and putting them into camps.

Jesus Fucking Christ.

I can’t even fathom how traumatized these children are and how badly this is going to fuck them up for the rest of their lives. Granted this isn’t the first time America, or Canada for that matter, had broken families like this. Residential schools, Japanese internment camps…slavery, anyone?

You’d think people would know better by now, but clearly humans never learn a goddamn thing.

The most frustrating thing is all we can do-those of us outside the U.S.-is sit and watch the travesty unfold. All we can do it sit glued to our phones and tablets and laptops as the world’s superpower sinks to unimaginable depths.

Yes, we can boycott American products – Maclean’s has a nice little list of products with Canadian equivalents – while this ridiculous trade war goes on, but there isn’t much else we can do. Tweeting, Facebooking, even writing this post won’t change anything.

But we are a culture of venting our feelings and fustrations on the interwebs, so here we are.

All we can really do is hope that the Mueller investigation yields fruit and sees that P.O.S POTUS impeached and sent to prison.

One thing for sure…this will definitely be in all the poli-sci textbooks.

-A.

Showing some skin

It looks like it’s officially the warm season, which means I will be miserable for the next four months from a lack of sleep in my sauna of an apartment.

Warm weather and I don’t mix—never have, probably never will—but I have learned a wonderful way to cope.

Wanna know the secret? It’s called not giving a fuck.

lookatall

I’m a plus sized woman, and as such society has wanted us to remain covered up so as not to offend the delicate sensibilities of those who fit the appropriate mold.

Thankfully, the body positive movement has made it a little better for those of us deemed plus sized. However, getting past the whole, ‘I can’t show off my legs because they aren’t perfect’ mentality is hard to break.

I didn’t wear anything shorter than capris for YEARS, which could be sweltering and awful. Then I hit my 30s and said ‘to hell with this shit!’ and wore whatever the fuck I felt like. Including above the knee shorts.

I wear shorts and show off my big thighs; I wear tank tops and show off my big arms. Don’t like it? Offended by my body fat? Too fucking bad.

This feels like a good time to trot out this little track—consider it my body positive jam for the summer.

Miss Eaves is utterly amazing, do check out her other videos.

So here’s to the next few months of sweat, sunburns, and heat exhaustion. Ugh.

-A.