Tags: volunteering

hide, headache

Life is a bowl of cherries? Um … what?

I totally fell apart at Ben & Jerry's with Shannon tonight. I just feel like I've had nearly 2 years of shit, and I never get a good chance to get mty feet under me before the next shit storm hits me.

August 2009 - August 2010: I had terrible, frequent, unpredictable digestive problems. Really really terrible. Eventually, I figured out that egg was causing it, and I was able to control it.

Sometime in 2010: I started noticing an unusual amount of fatigue, unable to comfortably do many of the physical activities that had previously been normal for me. It became gradually worse over the next couple years.

March 2011: Cobweb became ill with kidney disease, and we started giving her daily pills and subcutaneous fluids.

October 2011: My anxiety began to get slowly much and much worse. Over the next 2 years, I gradually withdrew from many activities and commitments: leading writing groups, participating in book groups, literacy tutoring at the library, volunteering at board-and-care, etc. At this time, I also started having noticeable lack of appetite and occasional nausea, which slowly became more frequent and severe.

November 2011: I injured my thumb/wrist and started physical therapy. I couldn't really bike at all, and I had a lot of pain when using my hand.

February 2012: Munchkin became ill with kidney disease, and we started giving her daily pills and subcutaneous fluids.

April 16, 2012: We had Cobweb put to sleep.

August 2012 - October 2012: Contractors tromped in and out of the house nearly constantly as they remodeled our bathroom. This remodel involved almost daily disasters and ended up making me pretty much loathe the contractor in charge of the project.

August 27, 2012: I tripped, fell, and hurt my knee pretty badly, which lasted until around the end of the year. It made walking and biking very painful.

October 21, 2012: Munchkin died traumatically here at home.

October 2012 - February 2013: I had bronchitis off and on, often very severe.

April 2013: My anxiety began to become very bad. I started having trouble being in public places. This continued and worsened dramatically during the next 3 months.

June 2013: I was diagnosed with kidney disease. Anxious weeks were spent awaiting information.

August 21, 2013: I learned I have a cataract in my left eye.

August 22, 2013: I found out that this Babinski Response means very bad stuff for my central nervous system. I'm now once again in the position of anxiously awaiting information.

I'm ready for my break now. I'd like a few months with no significant problems, please. I'm having trouble staying afloat these days.
run away


For the past couple weeks, I've been working with my therapist to try to understand and identify my anxiety more effectively, since it tends to just bowl me over with no warning. So my homework this week was to try to think and pay attention and catalog what I feel when I'm anxious, and how it differs from how I feel when I'm not anxious.

So … this is how I feel when I'm anxious:
  • My heart pounds -- not fast, necessarily, but hard. It feels like someone could actually see my chest moving if they looked at me.
  • My mind spins in circles, coming back over and over again to the same one or two ideas in rapid succession.
  • My thoughts tend to be expressed as actual words in my mind, sentences like "I can't do this!" are most common, but I actually hear them in my head in an increasingly panicky tone.
  • I breathe more quickly, though not to a "hyperventilating 'til I pass out" extent.
  • My stomach feels tight, "in knots," and kind of nauseated.
  • I feel trapped, like there's no way out of whatever situation I'm in.
  • I feel a tightness/pressure in my chest.
  • I feel a lack of control. I feel incapable, unable, powerless, not enough, like I'm failing, like I should be able to do something I'm not able to do.
  • I feel a strong, purely visceral need to run away.
  • My thoughts are disorganized, making it nearly impossible to figure out what's happening and what to do about it. I just keep going back to the frantic "I can't do this!" kinds of thoughts, instead of being able to think of any problem solving.
  • I can't deal with other people pretty much at all. I don't want anyone talking to me or asking me questions. I feel overwhelmed by other people's problems. I especially don't want to be in any way responsible for their health or happiness or anything. I just want to hide.
  • I can't do much planning. I can't think about a situation, analyze what is needed, and come up with a plan. It all feels too overwhelming and I can't keep all the pieces in my mind at the same time.
  • Information overload. When trying to read the instruction manual for a new item (phone, vacuum cleaner, digital watch, etc.), I become easily frustrated and give up. I can usually only manage 2 or 3 pages at a time, so I can't really get a grasp on the big picture or how the different pieces/functions/ideas relate to each other.
  • This information overload also often influences how I interact with books, tv shows, news articles, and sometimes even emails. Reading more than a few pages of anything more complex than a romance novel or an already-very-familiar fanfic (and I usually skip around in these, reading only the best parts) usually ends in frustration and leaves me close to tears.

Some of this is acute (the pounding heart, the spinning thoughts, the hyperventilation, etc.), but a lot of it is more chronic. Not constant throughout my life, but often present for long periods of time when my anxiety is flared up. So, for example, my anxiety flared up more than a year ago, in October 2011, and never really got a lot better. Since then, I haven't been very comfortable dealing with people, and attempts to volunteer have been emotionally disastrous (leading to the previously described sobbing in public more than once). I've spent a lot of time metaphorically hiding (and yet, paradoxically, often feeling trapped), feeling like I'm powerless/unable/a failure/not enough, having trouble with organized thinking, and having trouble planning. I gave up facilitating the writing group at CWC, even though Crystal and I had been the ones to actively and repeatedly advocate for it for months before it was created, because planning and leading it (being responsible for giving everyone constructive feedback, dealing with attendees who are in some way disruptive, etc.) was way too much. I've even been having trouble just attending support groups, because I get so upset listening to other people talk. It often makes me want to just run out of the room, and sometimes I've actually done so.

As for how this all differs from how I feel when I'm not anxious … well … in pretty much every way. When I'm not anxious:
  • I usually feel calm and capable, with organized thoughts that allow me to solve problems in efficient and creative ways.
  • My thoughts are fairly linear, except when I don't want them to be (such as when I'm brainstorming or doing something else creative). The linearity or lack of linearity of my thoughts is generally under my own control. If anything, my thoughts tend to be more linear than I would prefer, pretty much the opposite of when I'm anxious.
  • I feel confident that I can solve problems myself or find the appropriate help to do so.
  • I like to be around other people, like to be social and friendly, and particularly enjoy helping others. I'm generally comfortable, confident, relaxed, and happy around people, even if I'm not "the life of the party." I have a tendency to be self-conscious in groups, but I usually overcome it pretty well when I'm not anxious. I make friends easily, often making the first move to get to know people better, listening to people to learn who they are and what they like, and suggesting outings with individuals or with groups.
  • I juggle multiple close friendships simultaneously.
  • I am very organized and enjoy planning. I like tangling with complex problems, even just books with convoluted plots or elaborate language or movies/tv shows with multiple intertwining sub-plots.
  • I like research. I'm good at finding relevant material, teasing apart various threads of information, and forming them all into cohesive ideas.
  • I have a great attention span and often read for hours at a stretch, watch movie marathons, organize and write stories or papers, and the like.
  • I juggle multiple projects, such as simultaneous schoolwork, paid work, and volunteer work. This led to big problems in grad school (my big initial "crash and burn" that started all this mental health difficulty), but it was common for me as an undergrad and in my first 5 or 6 years after college.

I'm going to continue thinking about this, but this is a good start. It's great that my therapist suggested this, actually, because I've discovered a couple of things since I started working on it on Wednesday:
  • I have significant anxiety more often than I realized. Now that I'm watching for the acute symptoms, I've noticed them pop up at least a few times every day: tight chest, pounding heart, breathing fast, etc.
  • Many of these symptoms, though I recognize them now that I'm watching for them, were pretty much invisible to me before. For example, when my chest got so tight, I immediately thought, "Aha! That's anxiety!" … and then immediately afterward thought, "I never consciously realized that that was a sign of anxiety for me." It's been like a voyage of discovery, however cliche that sounds.
Chunky Rice: chorus to the verse

(no subject)

Sooo tiiired ...

A nice weekend. On Saturday, I had a training session at the nursing home where I'm volunteering, and it was great to interact with the other 10 (or so) volunteers who were there, nice to hang out for a few hours with a bunch of people who care about serving the same demographic.

On Sunday, Shannon and I hung out together a lot, including taking a semi-long walk (it probably seemed longer than it was, because the first half was almost entirely uphill) up to the Berkeley Rose Garden, Codornices Park, and onward up to the little "secret" waterfall above Codornices Park. It was a great afternoon together.

Today, CWC, which was good. I've started work on this year's holiday cards, since my collaging is soooo slow. If I just bought cards in a store, it would take a few minutes, but instead I'll spend the next 4 or 5 months doing the collagey thing. But, then, much of the reason I made my cards last year, and am making them again this year, is that I enjoy the *process* of making them as much as I enjoy the social aspect of *sending* them.

This year, though, I'm going to make cards in envelopes, since last year Annie's holiday postcard arrived entirely blank, because all the collaged bits just fell completely off while in the hands of the USPS. At least this way, if pieces fall off, they'll still be in the envelope, and the recipients can just creatively decide for themselves how the bits were supposed to fit together. They'll be interactive holiday cards! Heh.

Then today I discovered that my backpack has holes in the bottom. Not quite large enough for stuff to fall out, but once there are holes in something, those holes tend to multiply and grow and just generally go to town. Holes lead to rips lead to loss of your stuff. So I'm shopping for a new backpack. Yes, this is news in my life, people, because my backpack is a major daily resource. Those of us with no cars need such things. Anyway, so I'm probably going to get this backpack, which has all kinds of snazzy stuff for bicyclists, such as a front pouch that will fit a bike helmet inside, a loop at the bottom of the front that's intended as a place to clip on a rear bike light, reflective strips here and there, etc. Pretty cool!

Aside: How cool is it that Zappos does all kinds of videos demonstrating the merchandise they sell on their website? I watched their videos about three of the different backpacks I was considering, and it was extremely useful to see someone wear one, unzip all the compartments and show inside, point out nifty features, etc. I've never shopped Zappos, but I'm feeling quite fond of them at the moment.

I talked to our contractor guy (the one who did our garage, our upstairs deck, etc.), and it looks like he's going to do some work on our downstairs bathroom for us. How exciting! In particular, I will be extremely enthused about having a deeper tub, because the one that came with the house is very shallow, and so I can't really have a relaxing bath in it. If I'm going to soak in the tub, I really prefer to be more than half submerged! The contrast of hot and cold might be nice for hot fudge sundaes, but not for bubble baths. So someday soon we will have a bubble-bath-appropriate tub, and I can soak to my heart's content. Huzzah! Well, first there will be much noisy tromping and crashing and banging and plaster dust and general inconvenience, but I like to focus on the assumed exciting conclusion.

In very minor and slightly embarrassing news, I've been watching a tv show called "Kyle XY" on Netflix streaming. It's really quite bad, but I find it almost hypnotically relaxing. I just keep watching episodes and enjoying them, even though I know snooty people would frown upon this low-brow entertainment. Hm. Perhaps I should make sure to eat Spaghettios and Ding Dongs (both of which are in the kitchen right now) while I watch it.

Okay. Off to bed. Stuff to do tomorrow.
art crayons

(no subject)

I've been busily working on a couple different art projects lately, and so I seem to be always peeling glue off my fingertips. The full-length mirror project -- I've been decoupaging the frame, with many mistakes and hiccups along the way -- is nearly finished, after weeks of sporadic work. I think I should put on one more layer of Mod Podge to protect it, particularly as it will be hung in a room where showers will be taken, which will result in moisture, and so I want the decoupage paper to be protected. Mod Podge isn't waterproof, but it's fairly water resistant, so as long as we don't actually take the mirror into the shower with us, it should be fine, but I want to make sure there's enough Mod Podge from the get-go.

I've also been decoupaging the front of the drawers in this little 12"x12" 6-drawer chest that sits on my desk. Some drawer fronts are decoupaged with designs that relate to what I store inside, but others -- ones that I keep random stuff in, or ones that are used for different stuff at different times -- are just covered with pretty hand-made papers. I've got 5 of the drawers done, but I left the paper for the 6th at CWC on Monday, and they're closed tomorrow, so I won't be able to finish the project for another few days. It's kinda annoying to get a project 5/6 done & then have to wait, but patience is a valuable skill to practice.

I tried to take a picture of the mostly-finished set of drawers, so that I could show you what it looks like, but I couldn't get our digital camera to work. Hrmph. I will have to investigate this difficulty when I'm more awake than I am at the moment.

I'm also planning another project which is a troubleshooting effort. It drives me crazy that the remote control for my computer is always sitting on my desk. So untidy! So I'm going to make a little container for it that will attach to the front of my computer, below the screen, so that the remote will always be readily accessible, but will also be out of the way. I was sure someone must sell something like this, but apparently not. I'm sure what I make will be prettier than anything I'd buy, anyway.

I also discovered somehow or other that fanfiction.net now gives authors the ability to attach a pic to each of their stories, and so I wasted about a million years this evening, just searching for the right images, editing them to make them appropriate for the size at which they'd be shown, editing them more extensively where necessary (to combine different images, use filters, etc.), uploading everything, attaching them to the appropriate fics, etc. I love organizational stuff like that. It can totally obsess me for long periods of time. But now all my fics have appropriate pics attached, and I am pleased.

My volunteer visits to play Scrabble with Barbara haven't been very successful lately. When I went to visit her two weeks ago, I was told that she'd been sent to the hospital and so wasn't in the facility. Last week was the 4th of July & they had other stuff going on, so I didn't see her. And then yesterday when I went, her schedule for the day had been thrown off for some reason & she sent me away without wanting to Scrabble or chat.

Well, at least I've been getting some good bike rides in on Wednesday afternoons, even if I don't accomplish anything while I'm out.

Speaking of exercise, I spent some time today perusing the schedule of classes at the downtown Berkeley Y, since I'm planning to rejoin soon, and they have quite a bit of stuff that interests me. I'm particularly curious about this "Zumba" thing. I know my mother-in-law does it and seems to like it, and I like the classes' attitude of total acceptance and encouragement for "people of all shapes, sizes and ages" (quote from their website), an emphasis on having fun ("accessible fitness, without the strain, without the sacrifice"), and frequent references to improved fitness, with no references (that I've seen) to losing weight. I like the attitude, and I'm looking forward to giving the classes a try in practice.

Volunteering and Decoupage

Today I went to check out a west Berkeley nursing facility for the elderly, to see if I might want to volunteer there. The population is less physically able than some of the other seniors I've worked with, but they're in a similar age range (mostly 80's and 90's). The facility is a couple miles away (down by where Shannon and I saw the unicycling basketball team a couple years ago, which I did write about in this journal), in a not-great neighborhood, and I didn't see anywhere safe to lock a bike, so I guess I'll be walking both ways once a week.

What their volunteer coordinator was primarily looking for right now was someone to play Scrabble one-on-one with one of their residents, a woman named Barbara. She has MS and has become physically unable to get around as much as she used to, and so she hasn't been making it to the group activities, such as the Scrabble she enjoys, so they were looking for someone to play with her in her room.

I didn't really get a feel for her when I met her today, since it was fairly brief, but I'll be going back next week for our first game, and I assume we'll get to know each other better then.

It'll be strange to play Scrabble again, since I haven't in several years, and for the last year or so I've played Words With Friends (which is similar but slightly different) pretty much every day. I'll have to readjust. But the volunteer coordinator warned me that Barbara has some "unique" rules when she plays, so perhaps I should just abandon what I learned in the past and let her explain the game to me afresh.

Tomorrow I have a phone interview with the volunteer coordinator at another facility for the elderly, though I'm less confident about that location, because it focuses on care for those with "the fewest options," e.g., the poor. I have no problem working with people of any financial status, but I worry that a facility that cares primarily for those of limited means will be more dehumanizing, and I wouldn't be able to deal with that very easily. But I'm keeping an open mind, and will wait to see. Maybe the facility and the staff are respectful and compassionate -- you never know. But since I'll only be with Barbara an hour or so a week, it might be kind of nice to have another visit to make with other folks at some other regular time. I had been hoping to put in more time in the same location, but Barbara's place seemed to only want someone for her specific purpose right now.

In other news, the last few days I've been working on decoupaging the top of a beat-up old dresser (well, a very small dresser, only two drawers high but normal width). I've been using it for years, and always wanting to do something to make it look nicer, but I never got around to it until now. For the past year or so, I've been covering it with an attractive scarf, but it made me always worried about putting the lube bottle directly on it (lest the scarf get slimed), and my bottle of hand lotion recently had a bit of an accident that resulted in an icky spot on the scarf. So I thought, "I really need to do something waterproof to the top of this thing." Hence, the recent decoupage. I'm using handmade papers I bought at an art store several months ago, and I've cut some in contrasting but complementary colors/patterns into strips of varying widths, so it's striped, but not uniformly so. When it's done, perhaps I will post a photo. Right now, all the paper has been applied, but I'm just applying successive layers of Mod Podge (a popular glue/sealer/finish for decoupage work) to protect the surface. I've done finishing 2 coats, and from what I've read I've got another couple coats to go. In the meantime, my office smells constantly of glue.

It's my first decoupage project ever, so I'm expecting that I will have made some mistakes I can avoid next time, but it's fun to finally be doing it! I've been thinking of decoupage projects for several months! Exciting!
angry, angry Elmer Fudd

Ah yes ... another almost-hour in the central library ... alone

Today I had an appointment to tutor Marisha at the library ... and she once again did not show up. This is ridiculous! When she was 15 minutes late this afternoon, I texted her to ask what was up, and she replied that she was running late. I asked her, "How long?" and she replied, "10 minutes." Half an hour later, I gave up and texted her that I was leaving. She didn't reply.

So I've had 4 appointments to meet with Marisha, and she has shown up for 1 of them. The first no-show wasn't her fault (as far as I know), because it was (as far as I know) the responsibility of an idiot Berkeley READS staff member, but the other 2 have been completely Marisha's fault, and she hasn't taken any responsibility or offered any explanations or apologies.

I'm thinking it's time to cut this girl loose, let Berkeley READS find her a different tutor who maybe really enjoys sitting around the library in fruitless, blind anticipation. I'm not sure if I should email Marisha to let her know that this kind of behavior isn't acceptable, or just vanish silently into the void and let the literacy program deal -- or not deal -- with instructing young women on the appropriate treatment of people who are volunteering to help them.

Seriously, Marisha! You don't even phone or text to let someone know that you're late, when you know they're waiting? You don't even offer an apology when you stand someone up for the second frickin' time in a row? Did she grow up in a zoo? She's 21 years old; she has a mainstream job; and she's a student at community college, so showing up places at specified times -- and behaving responsibly when you can't -- can't be an unfamiliar concept.

Man. My recent experiences in trying to volunteer have pretty much sucked.
me blue hair

(no subject)

I was telling my therapist this morning about some frustrating email exchanges I've been having with my new tutee as we try to plan a time to meet, and while I was talking, giving examples of how the student didn't respond in appropriate/useful ways to my emails, it suddenly dawned on me that this girl has reading and writing difficulties! That's why we're meeting in the first place! So it's not surprising that our emailing communication -- seeing as it's in writing -- doesn't go as smoothly as it could. Duh. I can't believe that didn't occur to me before. I'll just be sure to be as direct and explicit as possible in the future, and phone her instead of emailing when possible. Live and learn.
Wes dead, angel

(no subject)

I finally succeeded in fixing my compass necklace (the one I bought on Etsy which fell apart literally within 10 minutes of my putting it on for the first time -- luckily, the seller refunded my money) and wore it out into the wide world for the first time today. Within 20 minutes of my leaving the house, two different people had come up to me to get a closer look and asked me about the necklace. I'm not sure if people liked it, exactly -- though I definitely do -- but it was certainly a conversation piece. One woman just asked disbelievingly, "Is that what it looks like?" I told her yes, and that if I got lost in the woods on my way home, I could just take off the necklace and get my bearings. She looked at me kind of funny. But every time I saw it in the mirror, the necklace made me happy.

I met with my Berkeley READS student for the first time today (after the debacle two weeks ago), and she's very sweet and very young. She's 21, but she just a couple months ago got her high school diploma, and she's now in community college, working toward transferring to a 4-year school. Her difficulty is that she writes like she talks (using words like "cause" instead of "because," for example) -- which is a common problem, regardless of your background -- and it's compounded by the fact that Black English seems to be her first language. So we talked for quite a bit -- I was feeling shy, but she talked a lot about her life, her family, her goals, etc., which was great -- and I got a bit of a feel for what kind of stuff we'll want to work on. I meet her for the first actual tutoring session next week.

In other news, my beloved iPhone will be leaving my hands in June (as it is only on loan to me until its service contract expires), and so I've been planning to buy an iPod Touch afterward, so that I could still play the games I like, use the apps I've bought, etc. But then I borrowed Shannon's iPad last night to read some fic without having to sit in front of the computer all evening, and I kinda fell in love with it. It was so comfortable to use! So now I'm considering getting an iPad, instead of the Touch. It's considerably more expensive, but it would give me all the things I want the Touch for ... plus the ability to actually read significant amounts of text comfortably. (Maybe even keep text files of some sort? I haven't researched that yet.) It wouldn't be as convenient for taking places -- it won't fit in my pocket, after all -- but it would still be possible, and not too difficult, to just pop it in my backpack, which I usually have with me anyway. I've got some money saved up, but certainly not enough to buy a new iPad. So I'm in the market for a used one. Something under $275 (the amount I currently have saved). So if anyone knows of someone wanting to sell such a thing, let me know! I'm pretty excited about it. If I can't find an iPad within my price range, I can still get a Touch, but I'm hopeful.

Tonight we've had some very impressive thunder and lightning, which seems to be freaking Lucy out. At a very young age, she was traumatized by an earthquake (and the heavy books that fell as a result), and she's been skittish ever since. Poor baby. Even if you just move too quickly around her, she hits the ground like she's expecting books to fall from the sky.

I'm totally into Spike/Xander fic right now, though I also spent some time today on YouTube, checking out Spike/Buffy videos, looking for a clip of Wesley's incredible death scene (Why has no one put this on YouTube? It's one of my favorite tv scenes ever!), looking for clips of Connor and Angel from "Not Fade Away" (such as when Connor admits that he now remembers his past, and that Angel is his father, and insists on helping with the world-ending stuff -- I couldn't find any of this, either.), etc. The best stuff I found, actually, was about Andrew, especially his video from the BtVS episode "Storyteller." Pretty hysterical stuff. Oh, and Angel and Wesley dancing:

Ha! I think I actually like Wesley's stiffly spastic dancing even better than Angel's dorky discoing. Wesley looks like he's actually going to injure himself, or perhaps someone else, with his rigid thrashing. I love when he actually falls down.
me blue hair

(no subject)

Well, first the big news: We've decided not to put Cobweb to sleep tomorrow. Instead, I am going to have a serious, pragmatic discussion with our vet about how to make that difficult and irreversible decision. The situation -- Cobweb's health and behavioral issues -- hasn't changed, but we didn't want to be hasty and regret it later. We want to make sure we're doing the right thing.

In other, less life-and-death news, we went to see a Berkeley Playhouse production of The Pirates of Penzance today, and it was loads of fun. I'd never seen or heard the actual Pirates of Penzance musical before this, but I saw the 1982 parody film The Pirate Movie (which most people, apparently, consider an abomination) many many times as a teenager, so I had a sort of twisted introduction to both the story and the music. It was weird to see -- so many years later, after seeing the parody so many times -- the original musical that inspired the movie with which I was so familiar. I was surprised to see some songs had been borrowed in a fairly straightforward way; others had been used purely for so that they could be mocked; and some had been used but significantly altered here and there (such as having the Major-General sing that he was "older than the Beatles, but younger than the Rolling Stones"). I absolutely must watch the movie again, so that I can view it from this new perspective. Right now, I still like the movie better, because it's so tongue-in-cheek, but everyone else seems to think it's horrible, so I'm bracing myself for disappointment.

The one thing I absolutely *know* that I like better about the movie is that the movie's Mabel is the undisputed hero of the story, while the original play's Mabel is an absolute ninny. In the movie, Ruth (the nurse) is also a much stronger, more independent, less ridiculous character. It doesn't ensure that the movie is good, of course, but it's an improvement as far as my feminist little heart is concerned.

On our way to the Julia Morgan Theatre for our musical experience, Shannon and I picked up sandwiches and had lunch in the park, watching dogs run around and have fun in the sunshine. It was a great way to enjoy the nice weather.

In other other news, I don't think I wrote earlier this week about my failed attempt at adult literacy tutoring. I found the woman with whom I was corresponding (via email) at Berkeley READS to be extremely frustrating, as she couldn't seem to give me any prior notice about what time I was supposed to meet my student, but just kept jerking me around. Finally, she gave me a time, and told me we would meet at the Central Library. Then I never heard from her after that. The day before the meeting, I realized she'd never told me where in the library I should meet them, so I emailed her. No reply, but I wasn't surprised, since it was so soon before the set time. So I went to the library at the appointed time -- after checking my email immediately before leaving the house, of course -- and checked in at the Information Desk, figuring that this would be the logical place where Esther (the Berkeley READS woman) would leave me a message, or even wait for me. No dice. After placing several fruitless phone calls, the Info Desk librarian sent me to the Reference Desk, where they paged my student by name, again with no success. Finally, I checked my email on the off chance that Esther had emailed me instead of actually coming to the library, and -- indeed -- there was an email from her, letting me know that she and my student were in the building next to the library. How does that make sense? You tell me to meet you at the library, and you wait in the building next door? You don't bother to leave any kind of message at the obvious places? It turned out that she called a different branch of the library to leave a message, because that's where the Berkeley READS office is located. Dude! You didn't tell me to meet you at the West Branch! You said Central! Why not leave a fucking message THERE? So I now have very little respect for the reasoning or organizational skills of the Berkeley READS staff. Where is the logic, I ask you?

So I wasted what turned out to be about an hour of my time. Sure, I don't have a job, but I don't like being jerked around, even so.

When I phoned Esther (which I hadn't done earlier, of course, because I was inside the library, as had been specifically requested), she was completely unapologetic, and we eventually agreed to reschedule via email, probably for this coming week. So when I got home I sent her an email with a lot of very specific questions about exactly where I should be, when I should be there, and what I would be expected to do. Sheesh!

Really? The building next to the library? Really? What kind of idiot thinks that's a good idea? Sheesh!

ETA: Also, Lisa and I went to the city yesterday to have afternoon tea at a new tea place I hadn't been to before, called The Secret Garden, right across the street from Golden Gate Park, near the Botanical Garden and the museums. It was fun, as high tea pretty much always is, but I think next time I'll suggest we go to Lovejoy's. The highlight of the afternoon actually was the Botanical Garden, where we roamed for quite a while. Afternoon tea is such a wonderful, luxurious treat for me that I would expect it to be the most exciting bit of the day, but the garden was fabulous. I definitely have to go back.
Chunky Rice: chorus to the verse

Mostly about friends ... and potential friends ... and kindred spirits

Ie ie ie! I haven't written in days!

Monday: I have no memory of Monday. Did Monday even occur? Were you there? Can you prove it? Perhaps I blacked out, or someone time-traveled to make it so Monday never happened. I don't know.

Tuesday: Among other things, lunch with my friends Andrew and Katherine at Chef Jia's, a Chinese restaurant in San Francisco where we used to go often back in our halcyon days of youth. Or, at least, our twenties. We hadn't been there together (and I hadn't been there at all) in more than 15 years. It was just the same, though: great food, cheap prices, and a kinda charming hole-in-the-wall ambiance. Same owners. There was much thrilling conversation, much laughter, much sharing of tasty food, and much reminiscing. Katherine and I even burst into a duet of Weezer's "Pork and Beans" at one point, which reminded me of our antics back when we were housemates, reciting dialogue from So I Married An Axe Murderer and The Princess Bride. I had a fabulously relaxed, jolly time. We will definitely have to get together more often! I haven't seen Andrew very often in the last dozen years or so, since long before either of us was married, and I'd forgotten how fun it is to hang out with him. And none of this would ever have happened if Andrew and I weren't playing Scrabble together on Facebook! It had us interacting on a frequent basis, which inspired me to urge a real-life get-together. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Wednesday: Among other things, dinner at my friend Debbie's house. We've been kicking around the idea of making chile rellenos together for months now, and this week we finally got around to it. The food was wonderful -- as is always the case at Deb's house -- and we talked and talked and talked and laughed and just generally hung out and had a fabulous time. We'd considered the possibility of watching "Not Fade Away" (the amazing "Angel" series finale), but I just wanted to actually interact with Deb, after months of not seeing her, so we talked instead. If I could hang out with Deb once a week, every week, I would totally do it. Unfortunately, our schedules don't mesh very well, so getting together takes some finagling.

Thursday: Among other things, the orientation meeting that begins the training process for Berkeley READS, the adult literacy tutoring program through the Berkeley Public Library. While talking to people there, I became aware that I am ridiculously qualified for the job, but I think it will be fun. I also met a woman upon whom I rapidly formed what I usually refer to as a "platonic crush," of the "Wow, this person is so cool! I want to be friends!" type. Her name is Zoe (though I think she puts an acute accent over the "e"); she looks to be around my age; her hair is a few different colors, but mostly purple; she has never owned a car; she's an avid bicyclist; she walks long distances without thinking it in any way remarkable; she's a public transportation afficionado; she likes to peruse art stores and dollar stores and get excited over interesting finds; she's lived all over the country at various times, including some time in Southern California (which she didn't like much). We ended up getting on the same bus when we left (she lives a mile or so from me), and I'm afraid I talked her ear off about everything under the sun. If she hasn't already written me off as a nut-job, I'll have to let her get a word in edgewise at the next training session on Saturday.

Friday (today): Some of the people at CWC today were extra extra crazy, so I left early. Sometimes, my crazy cup overfloweth. But in the evening Shannon and I got groceries, then swung by KFC/Taco Bell to grab a casual dinner to take home. While we were there, I noticed that one of the women waiting to place her order was wearing two completely different socks, so I went up to her and told her I thought that was cool. She noticed that my socks don't quite match, though they are very similar. We bonded briefly, and then I returned to Shannon, whose socks do, in fact, match. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I do believe that every single person in my life for whom I have a strong and abiding love consistently wears socks that match. Still, I'm always excited when I meet someone who shares this particular idiosyncrasy of mine.

And now, this evening, I've been enjoying my new toy, which was inspired by Katherine and Andrew and their mutual techiness: I just bought a case/charger for my iPhone. It protects the phone like a case, and is not much larger than the phone itself, but you charge it up at night, and when the phone starts to run out of power at some point during the day, you press this button on the case and it charges up your phone! Wow! Like magic! I figure this will be especially handy when traveling on airplanes and such. I mean, I'll only have this iPhone through mid-June of this year, because it's only on loan to me from Shannon's work company, but I figure this charger will be worth the price, even if I can only use it for the next 4 months or so. 4 months of no unexpected phone death ... sounds good!

Tomorrow: Literacy tutor training 10-4 (and therefore no Lisa), and then perhaps catching up on some of the tv that's been building up on the Tivo, such as "The Vampire Diaries." Yay! TVD!