So this is Christmas

As of 4:30 PM (approximately) today, I will be on Christmas break for six weeks.  Six lovely weeks.  And they are already jam-packed with excitement and plans and I just know it’s going to fly by as if it never was.  But I don’t care, because it will be delicious, every minute of it.

The funny thing is, I love Christmas, but I can’t remember a time when I was less in the Christmas mood than this year.  And it has nothing to do with my mood; I’m happier than I’ve been in years.  I just have my brain going in every single direction lately, and it is impossible for me to pin it down and turn it into a Christmas mindset.   I can pretty much chalk that up to two things:

Time: I haven’t had any.  I’ve been so incredibly focused on thesis and just GETTING IT DONE, I haven’t even thought about Christmas or the fact that it is now two weeks away (*shudder*).  I haven’t baked, I haven’t even played Christmas carols in the car, I’ve seen two Christmas movies (“The Holiday” — which was okay — and “Home Alone”, which I love), and my Christmas shopping?  Well, I made a list today.  That’s progress, I suppose.

The book.  Or books, really, as there will be five eventually.  Two are finished.  Well, finished in the rough draft sense.  Book One has had two thorough edits done by me, and is waiting for Jess to get through it with her own editing.  Book Two is on the shelf for now until I finish Book Three, which is in progress.  Book One was written from August – October, Book Two was written (in part) for NaNoWriMo, though I had some chapters done already when I started (that I didn’t count towards my word count, lest any of you think I cheated at NaNoWriMo — I will assure you, I won on my own merits).  I am so thoroughly wrapped up in this series, it has become a massive part of my day-to-day life, and I’d much rather listen to the “book soundtrack” on my iPod than Christmas music (do other people have this?  I’ve heard it’s a thing, but I definitely do it — pick out “perfect” songs and put them on one playlist).

But I am seriously behind on Christmas and that ends today.  After the thesis meeting I am doing some serious Christmas shopping.  And I am doing more tomorrow.  And Christmas crafting is also happening.  Every year I tell myself that I am not doing Christmas knitting, I am not, and somehow, it always ends up happening.  I have two projects, both about three-quarters done, that need to be finished by next weekend.  Piece of cake, really.  And then a couple of other projects that need doing.

For those of you playing the home game, my lungs are still shit — I woke up gasping in the middle of the night last night, which is new and different — and all tests have come back normal.  Sweet.  Of course, I’m happy that there’s apparently nothing horribly wrong with me, but at the same time, it is frustrating when people say you are “Fine” and you feel anything BUT fine.  I’m on a new anti-inflammatory so I am hoping that does the trick.

I’ll leave you with a picture of the first Christmas tree I’ve had since 2011, and my little Fontanini creche from the early ’90’s.  I’m missing a couple of ornaments, which bums me out, and I need to search the house a little better, I guess.

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Start of the Holiday Season

I keep pinching myself every time I realize that it’s actually December.  I don’t know where this year went, I really don’t.  Looking back, I realize that I was intensely, insanely busy for most of it, so it’s not all that surprising that the last eleven months just flew.  But it’s hard to believe that in just four weeks, it’s going to be January and 2014.  Considering how crazy jam-packed this month is, I just know it’s going to fly.

It’s strange; this is technically my first year divorced, but it is my second round of holidays without David, since we stopped doing the family holiday thing last November.  David worked on Thanksgiving, and we were already living apart.  The last family events we went to together were David’s family Christmas party and his nana’s 80th birthday.  But we missed everything else, so fortunately I got all of that out of the way last year.  I was anticipating perhaps feeling some sadness on Thanksgiving — and let me tell you, there was no shortage of people saying “now, don’t go letting yourself get upset now” beforehand — but there was nothing.  Honestly, on Thanksgiving morning, I hugged my mom at one point and told her I was “so damn happy”.  I think she was a little surprised, but I know she liked hearing it.  Because it’s true.  I am happy.  I reshuffled my dreams and I’m working it out, and making the best of the hand I’ve drawn.  I think I’m doing more than okay.

The only real blights to my happiness right now are both things that I really can’t change.  The first being — I am fed the fuck up to HERE with my thesis, and with less than 30 pages to go, I’m just exhausted.  Really, done.  I know I have to do it, I have until December 20th but my own personal deadline is December 18th, and I’m just…done, guys.  I’m done.  I’m tired.  Finito.  I’m going to get ingloriously drunk the night that I finish the damn thing.  That’s a promise.  I have a bottle of riesling in my fridge and I’m not afraid to crack into it.

The second would be my stupid lungs.  Which still haven’t improved, despite a battery of steroids.  Jess keeps nagging me to call the doctor and I think I’m going to have to.  I’m still having trouble breathing, get winded ridiculously easily, and get chest pains most evenings.  Bullshit.

Right now I’m trying to balance thesis, work, social life, and Christmas shopping, all while trying to spend some time with myself.  I got some beautiful Dream in Classy yarn for FREE yesterday at WEBS — my dear high school friend Rob gave me a $30 GC for my birthday, and the yarn was $30, so score!.  And I’m planning on making myself a pair of fingerless mitts with it.  Just something small for me.   I’m foregoing most of the Christmas knitting this year.  I’m making a single hat for someone, but everyone else is getting other stuff.  Every year I kill myself with the Christmas knitting, but with school I just do not have the time to dedicate to it.  It’s all right, I’m going to be fine with other stuff.

The yarn, for those of you who like yarn pron, is Dream in Color Classy with Cashmere and is incredibly soft (merino/cashmere/nylon) and I love it.  This is the color: Chocolate Night.  LOVE.

I’m getting there.  Just two more weeks until the end of the semester.  This, I can handle.

Little Victories, Week 47

Welp, we haven’t done one of these in a while!

Reached 75 pages on my thesis.  Over halfway there, with about 45 pages to go before the chapters are completed!  I can do this!

Finished the rough draft of Book II of “Fallen Beyond Salvation”.  Guys, I am so in love with this book series.  You don’t even understand.

– Started hard editing Book I.  Editing SUCKS.  I’ll tell you that for free.  I get myself through it by telling myself, over and over again, that it will be worth it, that after the hard edits are done, I can send it off to beta readers and we can actually START getting feedback.  I’m nervous as hell, but hopefully it will go well.

– Completed NaNoWriMo!  This is something I’ve wanted to do since I first heard of it in 2006, and I managed to do it!  I hit 50,000 words yesterday.  So very happy with that.

– ALMOST finished a baby hat for a shower I’m going to tomorrow.

I’ve done pretty well this week, guys!  I’m getting stuff done, and I’m making myself happy.  And as a nice change from the last, oh, month or so, I’m sleeping a lot more and drinking less coffee.  That realization, a few weeks ago, from Dr. LW, that I was not going to finish my thesis by December (and that it was insane of me to ever think that I would) was really a wake-up call that I could not keep putting myself through this.  I needed to slow down, try to enjoy life and take care of myself a little better.  Fortunately, I’m learning, and it’s getting a little easier.  I’m going to be great.  Gonna get it all done, balance everything in my life, hit every deadline, and make it all happen.

I’ve got this.  In the end, my grandfather was right.  2013 was my year.

Yarn Along! – February 20, 2013

Thank you for your kind thoughts and comments on my entry about depression.  I don’t want to say that I feel 100% better today — I feel much better, but still fragile, like there are tiny cracks along the edges that could rupture at any minute — but there’s sun out, both outside and in here, and I do feel some sort of improvement.  Plus today is a Crazy Bruce day.  Which generally means good things.

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The good news that I haven’t shared yet?  I finished The Behemoth on Sunday!  Yes, yes!  817 pages DONE!  A review will be forthcoming (aren’t you excited?  I used to post “Book Reviews You Won’t Care About” on my old blog as a joke; maybe I should bring that back), but for now I’m just slogging ahead.

The book that I’m currently reading (for fun) on my Kindle is still Why You Think the Way You Do: The Story of Western Worldviews From Rome to Home by Dr. Glenn Sunshine.  According to Lenore, my trusty Kindle Fire (I name my electronics after Edgar Allen Poe characters; my old Kindle is Annabelle Lee), I am 53% finished with it.  I am really enjoying it; although it is nonfiction history, Dr. Sunshine writes with the same dry wit that he uses during his lectures in our classes.  When I read it, I am reading it in his voice, which is pretty funny.

I am also reading Jean Plaidy’s The Rose Without a Thorn, a piece of historical fiction about Katherine Howard, the fifth wife of Henry VIII of England.  So far, it’s pretty good — I’m a little turned-off by her botching of Katherine’s age (it is widely believed that she was between age 15 and 17 when she married Henry; in the book she is 18 when she first comes to court).  But I am liking Plaidy’s choice to make Katherine a deeper, more sympathetic character than she is usually portrayed in media (thank you, Philippa Gregory).

As for knitting, I’m still plugging away on the Honey Cowl.  I never have enough time to do more than a couple of rows a day, so it’s taking much longer than it should.  However, it’s an easy pattern to memorize and I am enjoying the mindlessness of it.

Hooking up with Ginny at Small Things…

Yarn Along! – February 13, 2013

Happy Ash Wednesday!  I guess it seems sort of odd to wish someone a “happy” Ash Wednesday, since Lent on a whole isn’t a very cheerful season of anticipation, the way Advent is.  And it seems like we JUST finished Christmas a few weeks ago.  I am really hoping, after the disaster which was Easter 2011 (D acted like a jerk all weekend) and Easter 2012 (D told me he wanted to separate), that Easter 2013 is a resounding success and a reminder of just why I used to love the holiday so much.

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I am working on a Honey Cowl on US 8’s with a skein of Noro Chirimen that my friend Drea bought for me last year at a closeout sale for $5 a skein (I know, Noro for $5!  It’s unheard of!).  It’s a very soft blend of cotton, silk, and wool — not very stretchy but still nice and soft.

As for what I am reading?  Well, of course, The Behemoth, but at over 1,000 pages (including notes and bibliography) it’s not exactly something I take with me to work, so I leave it at home.  On my Kindle, I am reading Why You Think The Way You Do: The Story of Western Worldviews from Rome to Home by Dr. Glenn Sunshine, who just happens to be one of my professors.  Dr. S. is big into the whys and wherefores of worldview, and the book is (thus far) very good.  I’m only into like…chapter five, I think?  But I am enjoying it.

Random bonus picture of me with Tabby, my little kitty:

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She was not thrilled to be part of the picture.

Hooking up with Ginny over at Small Things

Anywhere but here

It is Monday.  I had three days off this weekend, but it went by in a blur of snow, shoveling (so much shoveling), and body aches.  Seriously, my everything hurts.  Shoveling 24 inches of wet, heavy snow sucks big-time.

And now I’m back to work.  The state is still technically closed to all non-essential employees, but apparently I am considered essential, so here I am.  My back and shoulders ache, as do my thighs, and all I want to do is go home to my apartment, crawl into bed, and sleep away the rest of the day.  It doesn’t help that I had to catch a lift into work at 7 AM (an hour before I’m supposed to be here) and this day is dragging like crazy.

Did anything good happen?  Well, I started a cowl.  It’s really good, relatively mindless knitting.  I memorized the pattern in about two seconds, just knits, slips, and purls.  I love mindless knitting.

Chipped away a little more at The Behemoth.  It’s just dragging at this point.  I’m telling you, once you get past the Battle of Gettysburg it’s all downhill from there.  The author goes from great battle descriptions to arguments between foreign diplomats, and as much as I love history, I just can’t bring myself to care.

I also watched the entirety of the BBC’s The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1970).  I was…slightly disappointed.  It’s supposed to be the television adaptation of the life of Henry VIII, but after the excitement and drama of The Tudors I just couldn’t get as excited.  I also wasn’t a fan of the way they did the episodes out of chronological order.  I’m going to write a review on my other blog, Historical Anachronism, at some point today.  If you’re a fan of ripping apart historical inaccuracies in films or TV, come over and take a peek.  I’ve also reviewed such “historical” classics as Gettysburg, Anastasia, and Marie Antoinette.

Maybe it’s the metric ton of snow we got, maybe it’s just something in the air, but I am aching for spring right now.  If I talk metaphorically, I feel I’ve been living in winter for so long…and my heart aches for something more, something like a spring.  Flowers, sunshine, warmth, life.

I have to believe it’s coming.

Little Victories, Week Six

For 2013, I’m going to have a Friday post every single week, for positive victories in my life.  They may not be big things, but they will be things that I am proud of, things I did in the past seven days.  I’m hoping this will keep me focused on the positive, all the good things that are going on in my life.

– After wrestling with COMCAST all day last Saturday, I finally managed to get my (UNLIMITED) internet up and running!  It’s fantastic.  It had been a very, very long time (almost three months) since I had experienced the absolute joy of not having to worry about every single page click.  Having this again is like heaven.

– Had a great second meeting with my thesis adviser.  Who is really pleased by my progress, even though I still haven’t finished The Behemoth.  I am on page 508 (I thought I was further, I am not) of 817.

– I got some really good feedback from both Dr. W (Civil War historian at my school) and Dr. LW (thesis adviser) about sources/research for my paper.

– Finalized plans to meet with some internet friends I met on a message board before I got married, for a weekend in March!  I’m super-excited for this; it’ll be my first time meeting most of them.

– Good meeting with Crazy Bruce on Wednesday.

– Started a new cowl today with some Noro yarn I got for my birthday.

Items added to my jar: none this week.  That’s okay, I have a lot going on next week!

Happy Friday everyone!  If you’re in New England and Canada, stay safe!

Yarn Along! – January 23, 2013

I am pretty much the slowest knitter ever.  I am still working on the Noro Silk Garden off-the-cuff hat that I was working on a week ago.  I know.  A better knitter would have done like two or three of them by now.

But I think I have an excuse.

yarn along

This BEHEMOTH of a textbook is World On Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War, and it is the first of many, many secondary sources I’ll be using for my Master’s thesis.

Because I started my research yesterday!!!!

It’s ridiculously exciting, but also quite daunting.  The book clocks in at 1,008 pages, but fortunately, only 816 of those are actually writing, the rest is just notes and bibliography.  I did what I usually do in cases like these where the actual length of the book is deceptive: I stuck an extra bookmark where the notes begin, so I could see how much I actually had to read:

book

The top bookmark is where I am (page 13).  The second bookmark is where the notes begin (page 817).

…Yep, not making me feel much better!

But it’s a good read, and so far it’s entertaining, so I’m enjoying it thus far.  My goal is to read 100 pages a day, and if I can do that, there’s no way I won’t finish this behemoth by the deadline.  Yes, there’s a deadline.  By February 5th.

Halp.

Hooking up with Ginny on Small Things

Little Victories — Week Three

For 2013, I’m going to have a Friday post every single week, for positive victories in my life.  They may not be big things, but they will be things that I am proud of, things I did in the past seven days.  I’m hoping this will keep me focused on the positive, all the good things that are going on in my life.

Week Three:

– The Patriots won the AFC Divisional Title on Sunday, which was a nailbiting, scary-as-hell, total blast to watch.  I don’t know if this is a victory for me, per se, but it made me happy so I count it.

– Started the semester with a bang; I love my class and I love the teacher and I am just full-on enjoying myself.

– Got within 30% of finishing World Without End, and with any luck, I’ll complete it this weekend so I can get down to required reading for the semester.

– Decided “the hell with it” and spent about half of my Christmas money and a $50 GC on a Kindle Fire.  This I totally blame all of you for; nobody threw up any roadblocks to my post about it and so I figured, there are no real cons worth worrying about!  And just did it.

– Made a real attempt to eat and cook healthier by shopping organic at Trader Joe’s and making myself some healthier meals, like quinoa and sauteed chicken.

– Had a wonderful Knit Night at my friend Drea’s last night, where I put to rest a lot of my anxiety that my friend(s) were annoyed or fed up with me (anxiety disorder is a constant battle against common sense, I know).

Items added to my 2013 jar: 1.

Let’s hear it for the weekend!

Yarn Along! – January 16, 2013

I haven’t done a Yarn Along in months, and I don’t think I’ve ever done one on this blog, but two years ago I would quite frequently hook up with Ginny over on Small Things for her weekly blog post.  Since I am both reading and knitting right now, I thought I’d do it again, and hopefully try to get back into doing it weekly.

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I am still plugging along on the Noro Silk Garden hat that I started last week.  It is ridiculously simple and easy, but with school and work and whathaveyou I just haven’t really had the time to sit down and really plug away at it.  Though I was watching She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth on Youtube recently, and getting some knitting done.  Female monarchs fascinate me; female monarchs in the time before feminism was recognized even more so.  It’s amazing what these incredible women had to overcome in order to take their rightful places as rulers of one of the most dynamic and sophisticated courts in Europe.

Unsurprisingly, I am reading a novel that takes place around the time of one of these notorious women’s reigns — Queen Isabella — and it’s Ken Follett’s World Without End, the sequel to his epic novel The Pillars of the Earth, about the people who live in the small village of Kingsbridge, England.  Like all of Follett’s fiction, it’s long…over 1,000 pages, and I’m about 51% of the way through with it, according to Goodreads.  It’s very good, but slow-going — it’s not quite up to the standard set by Pillars, which I read in January of 2011 and fell in love with (review can be read on my old blog, here), but it’s still an excellent book.  I admire the way that Follett seamlessly blends historical fact with historical fiction, and the way you can never quite tell if his characters are good, evil, sympathetic, sociopathic, etc.  He is a great talent.
Do you read or knit?  What are you working on today?