Tags: organization

art, collage


A quote I came across recently:
Love doesn't die a natural death. Love has to be killed, either by neglect or narcissism. Those guilty of these two crimes of the heart always hide behind excuses convenient; too ashamed, lacking in integrity and courage to face the truth. To them, it is always something other than their own actions, desires and self-importance that dictate circumstances. For these people, so blind to truth, true love can never be fully experienced for they have never really given of themselves all that they are."—Frank Salvato
From what I can tell online, this guy is a complete ass, but this particular quote speaks to me, in light of my recent life events and emotions.

Shannon and I went out to brunch together today at IHOP, which was a tremendous treat. Shannon is rarely interested in going to brunch, but I've been feeling very emotional lately (for no reason I can determine, except perhaps the prospect of the gum grafts in the all-too-recent wake of the cataract surgeries) & so he suggested it as a treat for me. I had french toast with strawberries and bananas, and it was fabulous.

My right foot has been continuing to hurt a lot, but Shannon points out that I haven't been doing the calf stretches (the ones recommended by the podiatrist) for all that long. It's been nearly 2 weeks, and I am impatient. I love walking, and it's annoying to have to take the bus all the time instead. Also, it makes me feel like an old person as I limp along, stepping gingerly on my right heel. I would ride my bike more, but it seems like I'm always going from CWC to some sort of doctor appointment, and the distances and road safety often make it difficult enough that I prefer to take the bus. Tomorrow I have nothing planned but CWC, so I plan to ride my bike, barring unexpected drama.

For the past couple weeks, I've been doing tremendous reorganizing (or perhaps simply organizing, since it was never particularly organized before) in my office. This includes most of my personal stuff: not only the obvious office supplies, but also all of my art supplies, all of my jewelry and headbands, my health paraphernalia (medications, physical therapy tools, etc.), and all that sort of thing. I loooooove organizing. This is a large project, involving a lot of sorting and classifying, finding appropriately sized containers to keep like items with like (and away from unlike), deciding which types of like things should go into which size containers for best efficiency, etc. It's taking forever, and it's totally fun.

I've also been doing a lot of coloring in my very detailed "Secret Garden" coloring book. I've been enjoying the hell out of gel pens, because the colors are deeply saturated. It's possible to achieve really bright colors, densely solid metallic colors, etc. I now understand why Crystal and Julia have been so addicted to gel pens for the past several months. I keep shopping for more gel pens & adding more to my Amazon wish list & buying more so that I have an even wider variety of subtly different shades. The pens run out of ink pretty quickly, so I predict a lot of my disposable income going to gel pens in the foreseeable future.

Coloring with the gel pens has been the one thing that is most often distracting and enjoyable for me when the headaches are bad. It doesn't require any actual thinking, but it still absorbs my attention. It helps me stay alert when Shannon is reading to me or when we're watching tv. The coloring and the organizing have been my chief joys lately, but the office organization is very thinky & so I can't do it when the headaches are bad.

I've also taken to eating coffee ice cream upon occasion, when the headaches are bad but I can't take any more Tylenol #4 yet. Medically necessary ice cream ... it's a hard life, I know.

There was something else I was going to write about, but my head is hurting (yes, a familiar refrain) & so I can't think of what it was. I'm sure it was crucially important. Not.
hide, headache

Headache meds today

Today's Tylenol + Codeine Usage
1 Tylenol #3 tablet at 6:00 pm
1 Tylenol #3 tablet at 1:00 am

If you read that, you may have guessed that I was able to get my Tylenol #3 prescription filled today. Huzzah!

I've been feeling incredibly incredibly stressed lately, because the next 4 weeks are just so frantically crammed full of doctor appointments that I can't grasp the enormity of the busyness in my brain all at one time. I discussed this with my therapist today, and eventually decided that it would be best for me to print up some week-long calendars & just tape them up over my monthly calendar on the wall, encouraging me to just look at things week-by-week. If I want to, I can flip them up and look at the month as a whole, but I think this might help me feel less overwhelmed.

I saw my primary care doc today for the pre-surgery assessment, and I forgot to bring the paperwork she needed to fill out. Her assistant phoned the cataract doc's office & asked them to fax over the forms, and they did so, and my doc filled them out, but when I got home & looked at the forms I was given, they don't match. So I'm not sure if the form my doc filled out will work or if I will need to go see her again so she can fill out the correct form. Also, I need to speak to the cataract doc's office to make sure that it's okay to fax the forms just once to one office, even though I'm having two surgeries. Also, I need to phone my insurance to find out why I've only received notification of approval for one surgery instead of two.

I've been putting off all this cataract surgery stuff, but the first surgery is 3 weeks from today, so I need to get on the ball.

Wacky idea. I wonder if I could put off the physical therapy until after the cataract surgery. It would lessen my stress enormously. Unfortunately, the neurologist who prescribed the physical therapy has left the country for a few weeks due to a family emergency, so I can't really consult him about the advisability of this. It would certainly make my life a gazillion times easier, though.

Diagnosis Confirmed: Bipolar II

Well, at least my recent questions are answered: I am definitely bipolar. Lately I'd been wondering (and so had Shannon) whether I might be hypomanic, because it seemed like some of the symptoms might be present, but we weren't sure. I worried that I was prejudiced against identifying it, since I've been questioning the Bipolar II diagnosis for the past year or so, so I thought about it seriously, but I still just wasn't certain one way or the other.

Well, last night I slept 5 hours, woke up around 6:30 a.m., and immediately started writing lists of things to do, organizing art supplies, etc. I guess going off the lithium had an effect after all. It just took a while.

Now that I look back, especially at the past week or two, I see a lot of hypomanic symptoms (quotes are from Mayo Clinic, WebMD, and About.com):
  • "decreased need for sleep" (only 5 hours last night, and raring to go this morning)
  • "enhanced creative thinking and/or behaviors"
  • "expansive mood" / "abnormally elevated mood" / "euphoria"
  • "increase in goal-directed activity" (see list below of my current projects)
  • "inflated self-esteem"
  • "overexcited"
  • "restlessness"
  • million things to do (lists)
  • million simultaneous projects

Though it now seems obvious in retrospect, I think it was difficult to identify the hypomania largely due to the fact that I'm still having a lot of fatigue (presumably caused by the kidney disease and medications), so I'm all energetic and excited and active early in the day, then I get just absolutely exhausted later … but even when exhausted I keep working on my numerous simultaneous projects.

Here are my current projects (I think this is all of them, but I might be forgetting something):

Massive Reorganization

Reorganization Project 1: Office

A few days ago, I decided that I wanted to reorganize the books and art supplies in my office. I've been keeping "Books I Want to Read Soon" on a big bookcase right next to my desk since forever … but I can't really read much right now. So I had all these books right next to me all day every day, reminding me of the big reader I used to be and my current loss of that joy in my life. At the same time, my art supplies (which I was keeping in the closet in my office) kept overflowing onto the floor in the main part of the room, and I was having trouble finding things because they were all stacked on top of each other, so I had to dig through a gazillion things (especially magazines).

So I had this sudden revelation: I could switch them! I could take all the books off the bookcase next to my desk (except for two shelves of the stuff I would most like to read (and find most likely that I would be able to read), and put my art stuff there instead! I could organize things so that my magazines were divided into separate categories, I could have the binders for my current projects readily accessible, etc. Amazing! I'm currently more of an artist than a reader, and I could organize my workspace accordingly!

So I got started on it Thursday night, and I've been working on it ever since. It's involved a lot of sorting and carrying of books, purchasing of supplies to organize my art supplies properly (more about this later), and other organizational tasks. I hate being in the middle of a project -- I just want to get it done done done! -- and so I've been having trouble letting go. I keep just wanting to do this one more little thing … and then maybe this one, too … and maybe that one. Then I'll stop. Well, one more thing, then I'll stop. Well, wait …

Reorganization Project 2: Collage Papers

My most important collage supplies -- the clippings of papers and such that I will paste together when I make a collage -- had become terribly disorganized over the last couple years, so I decided that I needed to organize the images and words into categories such as these:
  • colors (blue, green, purple, red, black, yellow, pink, and multi-color)
  • concepts (here are some examples)
    • Comfort/Protection
    • Imagination (which includes the concepts of reading, writing, art, inspiration, dreams, magic, etc.)
    • "Emotionally Up"
    • "Emotionally Down"
    • Silly/Funny

Then I make a folder for each category, so that I can easily find what I need when I'm wanting to express something in particular.

I've been buying various supplies to make all this extensive organization possible: magazine boxes, file folders closed at bottom and both sides so that tiny pieces of paper (such as fortunes from fortune cookies) won't fall out, a box to hold the files, 3-hold-punched envelopes for organizing materials for each project into categories, etc. It's all starting to come together, but it's a huge project in and of itself.

And then there are the art projects (not the rational organizational stuff, but actual creative works of art I'm currently working on) ...

Multiple Concurrent Art Projects in Progress

  • Since I ruined a pair of pants by getting Mod Podge on them, I've been using fabric paint to create a customized work apron for myself at CWC. It's got (or will have) my name on it, crude paintings of some of my most-often used art supplies (Yes paste, Mod Podge, scissors, paint brush, etc.), hand-prints on the bottom part of the apron (where I will usually be wiping my hands), and some van-Gogh-Starry-Night-type stars and swirls here and there. It's partway done, but sitting at CWC, so I can't currently work on it, but it's sitting there waiting for me to do the next step. (I can only paint one layer at a time or the colors will get all mixed together.)
  • I've been recently working on finishing a small decoupaged box that I began before I got bronchitis at the end of October. Like the apron, it is sitting at CWC, waiting for me to do the next step. It's almost finished, though.
  • Okay, maybe this doesn't count as a true current creative project, but I decoupaged a mirror quite some time ago (maybe even year ago?), but I wasn't happy with a bit of it and planned to do more work on it, but now I've decided to call it done, and I need to hang it on the wall in the bedroom. This requires considerable physical effort, though (and possibly some 16" screws), so I've been putting it off. Maybe I'll ask Lisa to come and help, so she and Shannon can do it and I won't have to expend so much physical energy. I'd love to have it hung up after so long!
  • More Collage Books

    I'm working on more collage books, inspired by recent therapy issues. I've decided to call the first one, the collage book that was inspired by the kidney diagnosis, "THIS IS MY DIS EASE," but these are the ones I'm currently working on:
    • New Collage Books

      • THIS IS MY DAD
    • Tasks for Each Collage Book

      • going through magazines and cutting out relevant images and words
      • going through loose old photos and pulling out those that are relevant (then going through them again … and again … and again … pulling out more each time, because I forgot to look for x or y the previous time(s)
      • going through old scrapbooks, pulling out the photos that are relevant, and making color copies of them (to place back in the scrapbooks) so that I can use the original physical objects in my collages but still keep a copy of the content
      • going through old letters written by me or to me, pulling out the ones that are relevant, and Xeroxing them so I can use the original physical objects in my collages but still keep a copy of the content
      • going through old poems and such that I've written in the past and pulling out those that are relevant
      • going through old documents (such as my dad's enrollment form when he signed up for the Navy and his death certificate) and pulling out those that are relevant

      Of course, I'm doing these tasks simultaneously ... for all 4 books simultaneously. Piles upon piles upon piles as I sort and organize and re-sort and re-organize.

      So … yeah. Hypomanic. There's little doubt. But it feels so good!

      Hypomanic and it feels so good
      Hypomanic but I've understood
      It can lead to bad
      Hospitalizations I've had
      But I am so ecstatic
      'Cause I'm hypomanic, hey hey.
hide, headache


A neurologist's office phoned me today to make an appointment … and the soonest they offered was October 14, nearly 7 weeks away. My primary care physician had told me that she wanted me seen within 2 weeks, so I've emailed her and asked if she can help somehow.

I've been becoming increasingly nervous about multiple sclerosis, since I seem to have quite a few symptoms of it:
  • numbness in my left thigh, which I first noticed about a year or so ago
  • delayed urination, which I told my doc about a couple months ago
  • lack of vaginal lubrication, which I first discussed with my gynecologist about a year ago
  • clumsiness, including frequent falls, for the past couple years
  • cognitive problems such as impaired concentration and memory, which I've always previously attributed to anxiety
  • trouble finding words and organizing my thoughts in the last couple months
  • and, of course, the constant fatigue and the Babinski Response my doc saw last week.

I'm hoping I'm just experiencing "medical students' disease," and getting worried about nothing, letting my imagination run away with me.

I guess I might not know for at least 7 weeks.
blah (artist: Alma-Tadema)

Our house is made of cake

Our house is now pretty much made of cake. Yesterday, on Shannon's birthday, we stopped by Berkeley Bowl on our way home from Shannon's San Francisco Birthday Adventure, because there was a need for birthday cake. Shannon and I don't, in general, prefer the same flavors of cakes, so he chose a mint/chocolate cake and I (since my birthday is in 3 days) chose an "island coconut" cake. So we each had an entire cake to polish off this week.

Then this evening we got together with the Wiedlin side of Shannon's family (his mom, step-dad, two brothers, and sister-in-law), and they brought an additional cake. A gigantic additional cake. Six slices were removed and eaten, and the cake was still not even half gone. They left the cake with us, of course, as it was a birthday cake, and it is our birthdays.

So I cut up my coconut cake into slices and froze the whole thing (minus the single slice I had yesterday). It will make me very happy sometime, weeks from now, when I pull it out of the freezer, one slice at a time. We have much chocolate cake (with cherries in the center, and with a dense whipped cream "frosting") to consume before that happens, though.

In other news, we had a fairly relaxed Sunday today, aside from biking to the grocery store in the morning and dinner with the family. Good thing, too, because I woke up feeling decidedly sluggish and hermit-like. I kinda felt like shuffling around the house all day in my sweatpants and slippers, not moping or anything, but getting things done without facing the rest of the world. It was an "I wish everyone would leave me alone and I could just do my own thing" kind of morning.

Actually, I did get a bit done. Shannon and I both spent some time moving bookcases around and getting stuff organized: he in the closet in the dining room, and me in the closet in my office. There was quite a bit of rearranging piles and such. A lot of Pandora music was played. Also, I took time out in the middle of the process to Photoshop some attractive labels (complete with relevant images) for my plastic containers of "Small Art Supplies" and "Empty File Folders." So now my office supplies and art supplies are much more organized than they were this time yesterday. I like organization. I like things that are organized, I like the process of organizing them, and I like contemplating how to organize them. I am a giant nerd. But, after some work with closets, bookcases, and various small items that require storage, I am a happy nerd.

Oh, also, the other thing we did today was watch the last two episodes of "The Walking Dead." What a great show! Not the kind of thing to cheer you up and make you want to do a happy little dance, but still a great show. Things can be great without being happy. (Though Pee Wee Herman, too, is great, and he is happy.)

In other other news, we've been dealing with a very minor health issue lately, resulting from a biopsy my dermatologist did on a mole on my back about a week and a half ago. My dermatologist instructed me (not only this time, but every time, and there have been far too many times that she has done biopsies) to clean the wound, treat it with Neosporin, and cover it with a Band-Aid ... and to do this twice a day. Twice a day? That's a lot of Band-Aids! We've been running into the same problem that we have on previous occasions, which is that Band-Aids just aren't made to be removed after only 12 hours, then new ones applied to the same location, which are then removed after 12 hours ... and for this process to be repeated for 2 entire weeks. The glue on Band-Aids (and some generics actually have stronger glue than the name brand, surprisingly enough) is extremely strong after only 12 hours. I mean, not strong enough to hold up a car or anything, but strong enough to rip a decent amount of skin off an innocent woman's back. So my back is getting pretty torn up. It's ridiculous. When I was at the drug store, I actually asked the pharmacist if she could recommend which adhesive bandages had the weakest glue, but she just looked at me like she'd never imagined being asked that question, and she had no advice for me. Luckily, we get to stop flaying my back on Tuesday, so I'm looking forward to my imminent release from (admittedly very minor, but still annoying) pain.

(The biopsy, by the way, showed that the mole in question was "dysplastic" -- there was abnormal cell growth -- but benign.)

Oh, and the in-laws gave us some money for our birthdays, so I got on Amazon tonight and bought some stuff (including an incredible-looking waterproof cover for my backpack, so I can go for long walks when it's raining and carry library books or whatever and not worry about stuff getting ruined), and also bought a funky necklace from Etsy. Buying stuff is fun. I'm a good little capitalist (even if I do tend to make many of the presents I give).

Almost bedtime. I plan to sleep late tomorrow before getting up to dive into the "To Do" list I've neglected over the weekend. Once more unto the breach, dear friends!

(no subject)

I did a pretty good job of staying awake today, only napping for about an hour around lunch time. To keep myself awake, I did a fair amount of walking (around 6 miles total) while running errands, going to appointments, etc. One of my tasks was to find design examples to bring to class tomorrow, including a line of advertising pamphlets and fliers at Whole Foods. I think they will be interesting to discuss. I also went to Berkeley Bowl to buy blueberries (for having with oatmeal) and cantaloupe (which has been a recent obsession of mine). Berkeley Bowl, however, did not have any slick advertising materials. Not surprising.

I also went to dinner at Venus, using the last of my birthday gift card from Katherine, Michael, Jay, Lois, and Mimi (received back in March or April). I ordered ribs (with mashed potatoes and a truly amazing cabbage/carrot slaw), but was only able to eat about 1/4 of the food on my plate, so I guess I'm covered for another 2 or 3 meals of leftovers. I'll have to work in some veggies and whole grains along the way, of course, because man cannot live on ribs alone. Well, unless he's on the Atkins Diet. Does anyone still do that?

I spent a fair amount of time this evening getting all organizational in my office, attacking the ridiculous number of bookshelves that are have been used (for the last few years) for growing piles of random crap. Jars of pens/pencils; spiral notebooks half-filled with notes from various past classes and projects; little decorative boxes filled with BART tickets, old necklaces, unidentified keys of various shapes and sizes, my class ring from 1987, and all kinds of stuff; old journals; candles; various art supplies; etc. I tried to arrange things more efficiently, set aside unnecessary stuff for donation, and just generally consolidate things so that they aren't just spread out all over the place. Put the books with the books, notebooks with notebooks, art supplies with art supplies, etc. It looks *much* better now, and I've got another pile of stuff to donate.

I had a strange dream last night in which I was at some kind of high school reunion (though I was hanging out with my family, who had no reason to be there), and someone showed me a yearbook, and in it my photos were all misidentified, marked with some name I'd never seen before. So I methodically tore the yearbook into orderly pieces, page by page, and then went looking for the paper recycling bin so I could throw it out. There was no recycling, so I just tossed the destroyed yearbook into the garbage. I remember also that I was wearing "capri" style pants, which rather defiantly displayed my unshaved legs, and I marveled (in the dream) that I didn't feel self-conscious about it.

I figure the dream was about people (in high school or since) not really knowing me, and about me working on discarding their impressions of me and not being embarrassed to be who I really am instead of who they want me to be. It felt like an empowering dream.
here I come to save the day!

(no subject)

Got *tons* of stuff done today. There was scrubbing the inside of the microwave, boxing up junk to give away, throwing away (or recycling) stuff that wasn't good enough to give away, taking out garbage, washing the bathroom rug, hunting up (and printing or requesting) various financial info for our upcoming re-refinance, attacking cobwebs (not Cobweb) in the corners of various rooms with a vigorous broom, and probably some other stuff I can't remember at the moment. There is still a lot that needs doing, but I feel that I've had a very productive day.

To celebrate, I took myself out for lunch (sweet-and-sour shrimp at King Dong, where I am very fond of the hot-and-sour soup), then wandered down to Berkeley Bowl, where I bought some berries. They even had blueberries for sale "loose" -- just scoop up how much you want and put 'em in a bag -- which I thought was cool. So I got blueberries and blackberries. I've been really enjoying having berries with my oatmeal in the mornings, so it seemed like a good way to spend $4. Also, I have some chocolate frozen yogurt, which might be nice with berries, as well.

Shannon lectured me for quite a while yesterday about how evil it is to download audiobooks off the Internet -- which I have only done a couple times, and then only when the audiobook wasn't available at any of the local libraries -- and insisted that I was risking criminal prosecution and huge fines, so I said I wouldn't do it anymore. I don't feel like what I was doing was "stealing," because it wasn't material I would otherwise buy ... it's just stuff I would either get from the library or not get at all. But I can see the slippery slope there, so I won't do it again. (I'm more persuaded by my own ethical argument than by Shannon's financial one, actually.)

We got some new blinds installed today, and Shannon seems rather giddy with the accomplishment. (It's something we've been saying, "We need to do that," about for years, but it just wasn't a high enough priority to actually get done. 'Til now!)

For the blinds to be installed, I had to move my desk away from the window in my office, and in the skinny space between the back of my desk and the wall I found all kinds of treasures, most notably my green gecko keyring flashlight (with dead batteries) and my Lucky Rock (found at Outdoor Ed when I was in 6th grade, when we were on a geology hike and our guide/counselor said that if you found a black rock with a white stripe that goes all the way around, and you keep it for 7 years, it will bring you good luck -- I've had mine for approximately 30 years now). Maybe my luck will improve.

Well, one lucky thing: I didn't get sick today!