The Yellow Terror

So Matt got a hat that scares the cats. I swear, my desire to share this story was not based entirely around that first sentence its copious rhymes.

The hat in question is this Pikachu hat that is super adorable and I immediately called dibs on it because every year I either try to knit or find the perfect winter hat but this was The One. Granted, calling dibs wasn’t too satisfying in this case since he had got the hat as a present for me but it’s the thought that counts.

It’s super comfy and very silly and I was wearing it while playing Dragon Age II. That’s when my cat, Shy, came in. I didn’t notice until Matt pointed it out, but she was peeking over the edge of the bed with pupils that took up the entirety of her eyes and a tail that looked like a bottle brush. I reached out to her and said, “Shy, it’s just me.” But she ducked away. When I reached further, she shrunk to the floor, all of her fur poofy and her ears were even folded back. Funny enough, removing the hat off of my head made the fear go away. She would sniff the hat and sniff me and even let me touch her but the second the hat got on my head again she was afraid of me once more.

“You should call Monty,” Matt said. “See if he’s afraid of it too.”

Now Monty is not the bravest of cats. He is a big grey and white kitty who has a tendency to run and hide whenever someone new comes over. After enough time has passed that he feels it is safe, he slowly ooches out and investigates them. If they manage to rub really roughly on his face (his favorite way to be pet) then they’ve made a friend for life. But considering that closing a cabinet too loudly makes him run and hide, courage is not exactly his forte.

So I called to Monty who has this delightful habit of meowing back to you when you call him as he makes his way to you. (Sometimes if I’ve spent too long in my room and he forgets where I am he stands in the living room and calls desperately until I answer.) So the scene played out like this:

“Monty!”

“Meow!”

“Monty!”

“Meow!”

“Monty!”

And as he rounded the corner, into the room, he looked up at me and froze. His eyes went wide and his tail slowly started to fluff. He went so rigid that part of me wondered if he thought I was a T-Rex and he was hoping that I wouldn’t be able to see him if he stayed still.

“Monty!” I called to him again but this time he just stayed as still as a statue. I went up to pet him and that’s when his brave facade of courage broke and he ran like hell to hide in the living room.

The hat remains in the dresser drawer I put it in and I’m still here, searching for a new winter hat.

Knitting at the end of the Tunnel (Carpal Tunnel, that is)

I FINALLY started knitting again today! WEEEE! I am very happy. I’ve been itching to just pick up the needles, throw on some Archer, and knit for like HOURS. Which is a shame because I don’t think I can ever really do that again.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. It is such a BITCH.

There’s nothing quite like that first moment you feel it. One minute, you’re idly doing something (probably something you enjoy) and then you start to gradually feel a tingling pain in your hand, especially around the index finger and thumb. Or at least that’s what happened to me.

It really is the most annoying trouble my hands have. It’s like something that specifically prevents me from doing the things I love. Or at least keeps me from doing them the way I used to.

I mean I LOVE knitting. I really do. Sitting down, absorbing the scene around me, whether it’s on a road trip or in a park or just at home, watching a favored movie, it gives my restless hands something to do and lets me put my anxious energy into something useful. And since I am an obsessive type, I have a tendency to remain at my post, knitting, for hours at a time. After I got diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel (in both wrists because OF COURSE) I was told not to knit or do anything that aggravated the condition for six WEEKS.

Just for the record here is a brief list of things that would aggravate my condition:

write

draw

type

spend more than five minutes at a time on my phone (texting, scrolling, playing app games, etc.)

bend my wrists like, at all

play video games

Basically everything I love doing with my life was shut down. I read a lot of books. I also had to wear those very stiff wrists braces fairly nonstop the whole time (I even had a slight tan line on my arms from them). As soon as those six weeks were up I very stupidly decided to go back to living my life exactly the way it used to be, assuming that since I had done the time and followed my doctor’s instructions, I was officially CURED.

Turns out it doesn’t really work that way.

For anyone curious to know, CTS is caused by straining the tendons in your hands. Apparently all the blood vessels, nerves, and tendons that control your hands run through one narrow part of your wrist called the carpal tunnel. If you do a lot of repetitive motions with your hands without taking adequate breaks or stretches you cause the tendons to swell which puts pressure on everything else running through there. Hence the tingling and (when I was being really stupid about it) an inability to grip anything.

There is a surgery for it but the recovery time is something obscene (it’s like, five months or something with no using your hand(s) though you shouldn’t quote me on that because I am not a medical professional) and I don’t even know if my insurance would cover it. Plus I’ve heard from some people who had it but then ended up getting CTS again because they are being punished for something they did in a past life.

When we were in the midst of moving I was outrageously stressed. The whole situation was as unfun as could be and I had my car accident then too. I coped by doing a lot of knitting. And I mean, A LOT. I was knitting fairly nonstop for about a week, making huge progress on one long term project and cranking out a few shawls.

Then, when Matt was getting gas, my right hand started having spasms. It curled up on itself like a claw and it took a huge amount of effort to try to lay it flat. You could watch the muscles on top of my hand ripple and shake, like little fleshy earthquakes. And it HURT. As you probably guessed. I couldn’t pick anything up. My whole hand was tingly with lovely sensations of fuzz and pain (kind of like when something falls asleep but worse) shooting up my arm to my elbow. It was BAD.

Red helped me ice it and told me point blank that if he saw me knitting at all in the next few weeks he would hide all my knitting supplies. It was a hard few weeks. And since I am the kind of person who can’t ever give up EVERYTHING they love, even when it is literally hurting them, I went into a huge video game binge (wore wrist braces the whole time so it was sort of okay; I would wear them while knitting but it turns out that knitting with a straight wrist is really hard and the yarn kept catching on the Velcro).

LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES! You love to knit a lot? That’s grand. But please, please be careful with your hands. Especially if you’re like me and also love lots of other things that require minute, repetitive hand movements.

How can you be careful? TAKE BREAKS. It seems so obvious but I apparently wasn’t bright enough to ever think about it before and it’s still something I have to be careful with. I would recommend a good 15 minute break every half hour to an hour. Put down the needles, do some wrist stretches (here’s some great ones specifically for preventing CTS), and if you start to feel any symptoms that begin to trouble you, DOCTOR ASAP. You can also always buy a wrist brace to wear when you kind of hurt but it is super helpful to wear when you sleep. I dunno about anyone else but I contort my wrists all kinds of ways when I sleep and guess what? Bending your wrists while you sleep is a super bad thing! Well it is if you’re trying to avoid Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

These tips kind of sound annoying, huh? I agree entirely and unfortunately for me I have to follow them to the letter or I can’t really knit at all. It’s always better to follow these sorts of guidelines as a preventative measure instead of because you have to. So heed my words! I’m like, Jacob Marley from the Christmas Carol! Haunting you all with tips because I care. And if you do get CTS it’s not the end of the world or even the end to all your fun times. Just, be sure to use the timer function on your phone cause if you’re anything like me, remembering to take a break is HARD.

Now, if you’ll all excuse me, my break is up and I’m off to go knit a few more rows on this project.

One Inch at a Time

I am not a very good gardener. Heck, I wouldn’t really even consider myself an actual gardener at this point since I just have a few herbs in pots on the front porch. I always like the idea of a garden or growing a lot of plants (indoor or out) but since plants tend to not be very vocal when they need things like water or more sunlight, I have a tendency to forget about them until about 11pm at night, while I’m in bed, some eight weeks after the last time I watered them. (At which point I’ll bolt straight up in bed, shrieking, “I FORGOT TO WATER THE PLANTS!” Before bolting to the sink to get a cup of life saving water, stumbling half awake through the dark only to find a shriveled dried corpse of a plant that I now have the option of rinsing with my *ahem* “life saving” water.)

So the fact that I have been keeping these current plants alive is a very proud accomplishment for me. It’s only mint, rosemary and lemon thyme but I feel almost divine when I look over the growth and repress my girly squee of joy because I’m doing it! I’m actually growing plants! And they’re still alive and everything!

The pride is pretty quick to dissolve when I remember that well, hey my rosemary isn’t actually all that unchanged from when I bought it at the store (no, I did not use seeds because that is like Hard Mode for me and I am struggling on the Easy levels) and yeah while my mint is flourishing, mint is easy. Easy as in, “I have had friends who planted mint, never watered it, never did anything to it, never cared and it still grew just as much as mine has.” So I don’t really feel like I can take credit for the perseverance of another organism. And my thyme? Well… It looks really small and stumpy right now because I totes thought I had killed it and then it rose like a phoenix from the ashes of its own corpse. (The only instance where my grief watering a dead plant actually paid off!)

But I try not to dwell too much on either my positive thoughts or my negative ones. I just try to enjoy the plants while I have them and wonder if it’s possible to keep them inside over the winter even though we don’t have many windows and the ones we do are all north facing so we never get direct sunlight indoors.

But recently I noticed Something. Something Unsettling. There were starting to be a heck of a lot of holes in my mint leaves. Only in the center of the leaves too, like whatever it was didn’t like the “crusts” so to speak and was eating like a picky child with a PB&J. I wasn’t too worried at first because, well, I have already harvested a metric shit ton(ne) of that mint and it is still growing like a beast. So I kind of figured it wasn’t a huge loss or anything and ignored it.

In the span of two days, the holes in Some leaves became holes in Every leaf. I felt the perspiration gather on my forehead as I looked down at my new Swiss Cheese Mint. What the heck was eating it? I knelt down to look and it wasn’t long before I had a culprit (literally) in hand.

Inchworms. Well, a quick internet search taught me that these little, loping caterpillars are the offspring of geometer moths and they just LOVE to eat green leaves. I dug through my mint some more and quickly found four more culprits. Gah! No wonder my mint was being demolished! These little guys were having a reunion supper in my garden! I got rid of all the ones I could find (I threw them onto a patch of greenery a good distance away; mint destroying or not, they were too cute to squish) and researched for some sort of solution (in both senses of the word) I could apply to my plants.

Fortunately Red was already out and about and picked me up a bottle of some sort of chemical that’s supposedly guaranteed to stop the caterpillars in their disjointed little tracks. Downside is no mint harvesting for at least 14 days after spraying and I’m gonna have to wash the bajeeses out of it or risk eating something strong enough to make inchworms curl up and die on impact.

So I lost my organic badge today (something I didn’t know I cared about until it was gone) but my mint may live another week. For now I keep my eyes trained on the mint whenever I come home or leave, trying to see if there are any survivors of the Great Inchworm Invasion in there. And if they’re planning a retaliation.

Katie’s car…. ROLLOUT!

I FINALLY GOT MY CAR BACK!!!! HAAAAAAAA!!!!

Yes, a mere 20 days since my accident and a scant 18 days since I gave my car to the body shop I FINALLY can drive myself places again like an independent person and everything! Even though I am an extreme homebody it was unbelievably frustrating to have to rely on other people to go places.

One of my friends joked that I was acting like a dog because you could practically see my ears perk up whenever I heard someone say that they needed to run somewhere. If I had been stranded a few more weeks, who knows? I may have graduated to running to the door and jumping up and down while pawing at the doorknob and whining.

But now my lovely vehicle has been returned in near pristine condition! (The completely crunched in left rear from when someone hit me in a parking lot is still there.) I swear hitting that log is a perfect example of how completely unfair life can be sometimes. The whole accident took less time than it would take to heat up a microwave burrito but it was close to a month of work to get my car fixed (and caused over $2,000 worth of damage. Thank god for deductibles, amiright?).

The body shop gave me frequent calls along the way and always encouraged me to call if I wanted to know what was what. I tried not to abuse that power because nothing makes people give less of a shit about your car than hounding them with calls demanding to know, down to the second, when your car will be ready. So I, being the ever Paranoid Patty that I am, did my best to be the Cool Customer who doesn’t freak out, or nag and just generally Gets It.

I’m not sure how successful I was in that endeavor. It didn’t help that I was told 3-5 different “definite” end times for the work being done on my car and NONE of them were right (no, not even the one for today because they said it would “for sure” be done at 9am and I was stuck there for over an hour and a half waiting. Though by that time I was so grateful to get my car back that I had no desire to Sass them, lest they should decide my car needed more work after all and make me wait another week). The guys at the shop eventually stopped telling me it would be ready by a certain date and instead switched over to it should be ready. At least they were honest!

The delays seemed innocuous at first but after a while it started feeling like a 3 Stooges sketch. On Tuesday I was told they had ordered a part and expected it in that day so it would be ready Wednesday. On Wednesday I was told the part hadn’t come in so they would have it done Thursday. On Thursday I was told that the part came in but it came in broken so now we’re looking at Friday. On Friday I was told that they finally got the part in but when they were putting it in they found like, three more broken things so now we’re looking at next Tuesday and et cetera.

God help anyone who needs suspension work done on their car. I’m not sure if I understand it at all but the way they explained it to me made it sound like they put your car on the thing that says, “Hey, something’s wrong.” So they fix the most obvious wrong things and hop it back on there. Repeat until the thing says, “Yay! It’s all better now!” My car had front and back suspension trouble which I don’t think would normally be such a big deal but it turns out the body shop I went to (chosen courtesy of my insurance) could not physically do rear suspension work. So my loverly car got to be shipped elsewhere in the city so another shop could fix the rear and then I had to wait for my car to be sent back.

I’m glad my car is back and that I don’t have to rely on the whims of others to take where I need to be. I’ve celebrated by spending the whole day doing chores that kept being put off since Matt tends to come home from work and be like, “That’s it! I’m done! No more leaving the house for me!” Which is only bad for me ’cause I can’t drive a stick shift which his car is (of course).

But now I can leap and frolic and go where I choose! … At least until I remember how much I hate traffic and leaving the house and fall back to being a homebody once more.

Of Mint and Noodles (But not Mint Noodles)

Man almighty, it has been wobbly and weird getting back into the writing habit after so long at sea. Uh, that is to say, the turbulent sea of Moving and Grown-Up Responsibilities! I know I said I would try to write while we had no internet but THREE GUESSES AS TO HOW THAT WENT (it didn’t).

Turns out that I had a wee bit too much to do otherwise and now when I have free time my body wants to make up for all the loafing around it was deprived of and I end up laying in bed for eight hours reading webcomics. But don’t worry! I rotate every hour or so to prevent bed sores.

But I feel productive AS SHIT today. It has little to do with writing (though I AM typing this mofo out right now so that should change soon) but instead is linked to the fact that I have two cups of homemade mint simple syrup in my fridge and a table covered in flour and homemade noodles (waiting for chicken soup tonight). Awwww Yeeeaah it is getting crafty as FUCK up in here!

The mint simple syrup is made from mint I have been growing myself (it’s the only plant that has really taken off which is no surprise if you know anything about mint). I took a good whack at it last night, figuring I needed to start trimming some of the growth before it chokes itself out. I’m sure I made an interesting figure to all my new neighbors, hunched over in sweat pants and a pajama shirt at 10:45 pm on a Friday night, happily cutting off chunks of mint while humming show tunes under my breath.

What’s funny is if you didn’t see the huge swath of cuttings I took you probably wouldn’t have guessed that I pruned it because it is that huge and overgrown (being the mature folk that we are Matt, Red, and I were all making “bush whacking” jokes). Given my cornucopia of the herb I’m gonna have to find other things we can do with it (suggestions are appreciated!).

I’m super excited for the simple syrup though. Not only would it be good for things like mojitos or iced tea but I’m thinking just a smidge in hot cocoa for mint hot chocolate. The syrup itself is a lovely shade of green. Thanks to the miracle of food dye, that is. The mint did impart some of its coloring onto the syrup but the result was more, “someone really needs to drink more water cause YIKES” and not, “something I would actually want to mix into a drink.” So we “corrected” it with the smallest smidgen of food dye.

GEEZ you can tell I’m out of practice because here I am, blathering on about simple syrup and mint and other Pinterest-y crap. Well, granted, MOST of my writing is blathering parentheticals that ramble from subject to subject but I’m still gonna blame this on the moving hiatus. I’m gonna end this before I start rambling about my totally boss chicken noodle soup recipe and end up divulging all my delicious secrets. Katie is OUT! *drops mic*

I LIIIIIVVVVE!

Yessssss.  Finally have internet! Days later than I was told we would but still! INTERNET! The act of getting internet was a Sisyphean task that will probably be talked about later. For now having something that I wrote last Friday!

I’m so glad we have all our stuff moved over to our new place. I’m so glad most of it has even gotten unpacked though there is still a humongous pile of Tupperware sitting on the counter, waiting to be washed and there are still too many things that need to stay in boxes for right now because the thought of finding Happy Homes for their contents or having to do anymore organizing makes me want to cry.

I have had to be a Responsible Adult a LOT in the past week or so and I have hated every second of it. It’s like a prison sentence where I am just laying in my bunk, a giant bundle of nerves and anxiety, counting down the days where I can be free to be irresponsible and not have to care about any of this crap anymore.

It doesn’t help that even though I have been doing a pretty good job at being responsible and Getting Stuff Done there is a big voice in my head saying helpful things like, “YOU SUCK. YOU ARE SO IRRESPONSIBLE. YOU HAVE ACCOMPLISHED NOTHING. WHY DO YOU TRY? JUST GIVE UP AND PLAY SOME MORE SKYRIM.”

Like with my car. I have been doing all the good adult things that I need to do since my car accident but I still feel like I haven’t done anything.

Car accidents are never fun. Especially when you keep replaying the scenario over and over again in your head, trying to figure out what you could have done differently before ultimately accepting it was a situation you had zero control over, which sucks in its own myriad of ways.

So what happened? Well I was driving west on the interstate, heading back to the old place with Matt to try to get one last pile of stuff out. So we could be Done. Red had already gone ahead of us in his van and was expecting us at the house.

We were not a half mile from our exit when I noticed a highway maintenance truck backing up in the left shoulder. “Huh.” I remember thinking, “That’s pretty weird. I wonder what he’s up to?”

It was then that I noticed a large pile of chunks of wood in the road ahead of me. I leaned a little to the right to not run over all the wood. That’s when I saw the Log.

Or more accurately, that’s when I saw the Log get grazed by a car to my right, sending the Log directly into my path. I swerved left to avoid it but it was too little too late. I hit the log full on with the right side of my car, sending us flying (Matt banged his head pretty hard on the roof of my car).

I remember yelling, “FUCK!” when we hit and somehow keeping my head enough to keep in control and get to the shoulder. I sat there for a second, only aware that my hands were shaking so bad that I struggled to put my car in park and put on my hazards.

In my rearview mirror I saw the highway maintenance truck stop in the middle of traffic so the guy could leap out and get the log out of the road. It was thicker around than my thighs and was close to two feet long. I hadn’t even cracked it.

The maintenance worker pulled up behind us and he and Matt started discussing what looked like the damage to my car. There didn’t seem to be any frame damage but my right passenger tire was obviously shot. I managed to remain clear headed enough to remember where my spare was and how to access it and where my jack and jack spot were before I just sat back in the car and kept trying to call Red.

With the maintenance guy’s help (seriously, this guy was amazing) my spare got put on and my old tire was thrown in the back. Once we got it off we saw that not only was the tire split down the middle but almost an entire third of my wheel was destroyed as well. Metal sheared off as if it were Styrofoam. (Log: 1 My Car: 0)

Broken tire

He even followed me all the way back to the old house to make sure the spare wasn’t going to just pop off and roll away (a fun mixture of comforting and fear inducing to be honest. I mean, no one wants to be told that the person who just put your tire on is worried it might pop right back off after you start driving. But it’s the thought that counts I guess).

Technically as far as accidents go, that one was exceedingly mild and went as well as anyone could hope. But I still felt like such a failure that it didn’t even occur to me that I had done anything right until just as we were getting ready to leave the shoulder and rejoin traffic. Matt rubbed my shoulder and told me I had done such a good job keeping in control of the car. “We didn’t hit anybody, we didn’t fishtail, you kept us in our lane and you got us into the shoulder right away. You did really good.” I didn’t really believe him at the time.

We got to the old house and Matt heroically took on organizing and packing stuff while I did the Mature and Responsible thing to call my parents and ask them what the hell I was supposed to do now.

My very wise Dad pointed out that it was possible I had frame damage that we hadn’t seen or hurt my suspension so I needed to report it to our insurance so it could be fixed up proper and not cost us thousands of dollars. As he listed all the people I needed to call and things I needed to file, my chest felt tighter and tighter. I wanted to scream and howl and run away from the whole situation and leave it for the Grownups to fix. Except that I couldn’t because I’m supposed to be a Grownup now (a truly horrifying thought).

I remember hanging up the phone and telling Matt I needed a stress cry before bursting into tears and crying myself out. Then I just sort of laid on the floor for a while, telling Matt, “I just want to lie down here a sec and moan about the fact that everything sucks right now and the world is Poop. When I’m done I’ll get up and help you.” And I did.

I did the insurance song and dance. I filed a police report. I wrote and posted my very sad excuse for a post. And in between all of that I somehow managed to get boxes packed and loaded downstairs in Red’s van.

Monday I got my car to the body shop my insurance pointed to. The man looked over every inch of my car and said that my right “tire-arm” was very bent and I had probably destroyed my suspension as well. I dunno how long it’s gonna take to fix, but with our deductible I know exactly how much I’m going to have to cough up for getting it fixed.

In the meantime I have been sitting at home a lot, waiting for the internet installation to finally take place, and getting Red to drive me places like doctor’s appointments and blood work (where my new doctor reacted to the fact that I have anxiety and a therapist as if I had told her that I have a broken leg but am relying on the power of dance to cure all my wounds. “Best” part about it was that I walked out of there with two prescriptions for anti anxiety medication and antidepressants because I was too chicken to say, “Hey, actually I’m looking to get pregnant, are these safe for that?” Because the woman had made such a big deal about my anxiety that I felt like a selfish monster for wanting to have kids when I obviously have such a big mental health problem. BLARGH).

But yes, technically I am fine. Matt is fine. No one is hurt and we’re all Okay. That’s really the best I can hope for right now. Well that and for the internet guy to hurry up and get here already. I’m about ready to cut a bitch if it means I’ll finally get access to the web again.