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I’m cleaning this weekend, albeit slowly and with some caution because I have a screaming headache that won’t go away. Slow or not, though, I’m cleaning. I just vaccumed the kitchen, living room, hall, and hall bath. Soon, I’ll be shutting myself in the back room with Eve Dallas in my earbuds and a slew of plastic totes.

As I did the kitchen, I moved the four-foot-tall red shutter that I use as a standing screen aside, and vaccumed the sawdust out of the doormat in front of the catboxes, and marveled at the brilliance of the whole setup.

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(My dining area, about a year ago. Much the same today, though the table and desk have been shoved around some.)

A friend, upon coming into my house, once commented on the shiny red screen with the half-moon cutout. (I got it from my uncle Pat’s grandmother’s restaurant when he was cleaning up the estate – I actually have two of them, but when I moved to this house I spraypainted one of them ruby red to go in the kitchen. The other is in the garage.) When I said “the catboxes are behind it”, she said, “Oh, you gave them privacy!” Well, sort of. I mean, yeah, they get privacy, if you consider pooping in an open air cubicle to be privacy, but really, it’s so I don’t have to watch. Or look at it after. It works for me.

And then when Justin and I were at Lowes one day, I was studying door mats and explained to him that I wanted to put a rug under the boxes so that it would catch some of the sawdust that comes out of the boxes when they kick and cover. (I use cedar sawdust litter; nothing neutralizes ammonia as well as it does.) He helped me pick one out – super-deep treads, 2′ x 3′. And then he engineered Catbox Corner. The two boxes sit behind the rug, the rug makes a sort of a landing pad, and the screen sits just so that the cats are forced to walk across the rug coming or going. It’s a traffic cone for pooping cats.

It works, man. There’s way less sawdust on the floors, the chance of a random rolling cat turd has become virtually nil, and I can vacuum up the sawdust when I do the floors with no problem.

And, yes, I know… I just wrote 300 words about the litterbox. I know. I know! But really, a house free of escaped dessicated turds and with 95% less sawdust on my feet is a HAPPY HOUSE AND DESERVES RECOGNITION. CAPS LOCK IS HOW I FEEL INSIDE, RICK.

Plus, the cats have their privacy. Very important, that.

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I was, just now, worrying about Jack. He’s been very sneezy today, and I was greeted by a rather remarkable pile of cat puke on the rug by the garage door this morning, and as I was sitting here, he tried to get into the closet, crawled under the yellow chair, and is currently sitting between the wall and the wicker chest, covered by the bottom of the curtain.

My brain thinks, “Sick cat. Hiding. Oh dear.”

So I leaned over, and said, “Jack?” twitched the curtain. He meowed, and slithered over to me, headbutting my hand. And looked up at me.

That’s when I noticed that his tail is lashing a bit at the tip, and he’s got… well, the best descriptor is “crazy eyes”.

He’s not sick.

He’s BORED.

No wonder Miles is sitting on the back of my chair, with his tail wrapped around my neck. He’s hiding from the I’M BORED WANNA HUNT OKAY I’LL HUNT MILES THAT WILL WORK *POUNCE* cat.

Hiss

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I should be sleeping.

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It’s 1 am.

I have to be up by 6:30 at the latest.

I am wide awake.

Life stress, my second wind, and the night owl tendencies I inherited from my maternal grandmother are conspiring to kill me through sleeplessness.

Tomorrow? Is going to be hard.

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It’s autumn.

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I really love autumn.

The trees change color, the air crisps up, everything smells sweet and dry and clean.

My boyfriend once said that October is when he can clear his head and really think about life. I feel the same. He’s moving in sometime in the next ten days, and I need to sit down and spend my weekend organizing and cleaning the house so that there’s somewhere for him to move in to. My brain could use the same treatment.  So I have plans for some escape into Mass Effect 2 — while Shepherd’s saving the galaxy, I’ll try to release some of my own concerns. I have plans to go for a walk down Pleasant Valley to check on the trees, see what’s turning orange, and maybe think about what’s next for me this fall. And I have plans for mastering the arm part of my current Tai Chi lesson, so that I don’t feel so foolish at Monday’s class, and while I’m at it maybe I can find my center.

Autumn. Change. Crisp. Clean. Progress.

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Yes, please.

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Last night I made cookies. It was fun and satisfying and oh, man, I love cookie dough. I eat it without remorse based on the theory that a) everything about cookie dough is joy and joy is good, and b) I use organic free-range eggs so I’m rolling the dice that the odds are okay they don’t have salmonella.

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And then today I got up and went to the gym. I did 100 crunches, and was planning to go do the leg machines to try to balance some of the muscles that I don’t build by walking. But then I thought, “No, to hell with that. Do it.” And I started with the C25K app again. I walked when instructed, ran when instructed, and sprinted the last minute of the run. And when I was done, I sat down at the arm bike and did five minutes forward and five minutes back, just like my physical therapist wants me to.

Here’s the thing. I was gonna do the weights because I’m trying to be smart and thoughtful and careful about building strength and balance and stability for my hyper-mobile joints (thus the Tai Chi, as well). But what I wanted to do was run. I was wearing my FiveFingers, and I wanted to run. Barefoot running, in short intervals: What better way to build stability and strength in underused muscles surrounding potentially compromised joints? Ditto the arm bike: I want my shoulders and arms to be strong and agile and able.

And it wasn’t hard.

None of it.

Well, okay, the crunches sucked because I had taken several weeks off, but I worked them until I hit muscle failure and then stopped, and they don’t (currently) hurt. But the rest of it did not suck. I can run one minute intervals at 5 mph, easy. I can do five minutes on the arm bike, easy.

That didn’t used to be true. I didn’t used to think that I could possibly run 5k, or that going back to the arm weights would be okay.

So even if I feel like I’m a slacker, like I’ve been not trying hard enough, like I should possibly regret the crab rangoon and sesame chicken from earlier this week… I’m wrong. I’m better than I was. I’m healthier, more fit, and thinner. I’m stronger. I have more endurance. And I’ve learned to find joy in things that I used to avoid like the plague.

That’s pretty damn cool.  Now, have a cookie.

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That’s my great-grandmother’s lovely Noritake. Isn’t it pretty? It makes me happy.

When Justin was here for 6 weeks this summer, he did the dishes. And the laundry. This morning I dug past the pile of my great-grandmother’s lovely Noritake that’s sitting, dirty, on the counter to find a cereal bowl to wash for my breakfast. Then I went and folded a load of laundry and put in a new one. I stripped the bed, too, so that when I come home tonight I won’t be tempted to not change the sheets AGAIN.

Because I have this problem with lazy after work. It’s not really lazy, if I’m kind to myself — yesterday I worked an 11 1/2 hour day, came home, and sat down to pay bills, sort the mail, and do my filing. Then I read for an hour, and went to sleep. Nowhere in there is there much room for being lazy. But I feel lazy — there’s still shit in my car from the weekend, the trash needs to go out, the catbox needs changing, the floors need vacuuming, and I need to make a run to BJs for things like plastic baggies and frozen meatballs. (Those meatballs. CRUCIAL.) And the dishes. And the laundry. But all I really want to do after work is lie down and stare at something. Like Warcraft. Or a book. Or the wall.

Instead, I’m going to tai chi two days a week after work, I have work obligations one evening a week from here to eternity, and I’m determined to stay on track with losing weight, so that means at least two other days where I carve out an hour for activity.

Somewhere.

But this morning I weighed in at 172.6 pounds. That’s the lowest I’ve been since I started this project a year ago. It’s about 15-20 pounds down from a year ago. This morning as I walked across the parking lot with 10 pounds of computer, lunch, and purse on one shoulder and 10 pounds of books and magazines for our popular reading shelf in the other arm, I thought about how hard it is to walk with a spring in your step when you’re carrying an extra 20 pounds.

Yeah.

So. I’ll keep eating as well as I can manage, I’m going to go exercise, and somehow, someway, I’ll figure out equilibrium where the clothes get clean, the dishes get washed, the floors aren’t gross, and I’m not exhausted and frustrated because I don’t ever do anything fun. It may take an act of will and a bloody miracle, but I’ll figure it out.

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I went to bed about 2 hours too late last night for no good reason, but I dutifully set my alarm for 6. I had a long list of small tasks I wanted to do in the morning, and “Be at work by 7:30” was one of them.

I woke up at 6, and shut off the iPad alarm. And the iPhone alarm. And then I, apparently, promptly fell back asleep. Because I woke up at 7:14, listening to NPR on the radio alarm, and wondering why it wasn’t darker in my bedroom. Guh.

So. Shower, breakfast, pack lunch, get dressed, and go to work. That’s about half of what I wanted to get done. Unfortunately, one of the things that slipped off the list due to oversleeping was yoga/tai chi/meditation. Which is too bad, because I currently have this weird spasm under my left shoulder blade. It hurts worse when I sit up straight, which seems oddly counter-productive. I brought a good lunch today, but it’s heavy on raw veggies and light on … everything else. And what I really want right now is, like, a grilled cheese. Or mac and cheese. If only it were Friday. They have mac and cheese on Fridays.

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But it’s not Friday. Instead, it’s a Tuesday that’s a Monday. I have a 48-item to-do list, a faculty member making a challenging request that could set precedent if I accede, a personnel issue that’s like nothing so much as a bizarre communication rectangle that needs to have all the corners meet in the middle, an affirmation from my boss that A Potential Big Problem that I identified a few weeks ago appears to be A Potential Big Problem to her, as well, and a sexual harrassment complaint amongst several student workers brought to their rookie supervisor (nothing like learning about fire by sticking your hand in the flames).

So. To sum up: Cucumbers and hummus are not grilled cheese, my musculoskeletal system can bite me, I need a fourth alarm clock, and I’m management. Welcome to September.

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…to be a grownup today. Keep false starting on projects, getting distracted by stories about Irene or stuff on Facebook or dear god anything but this annual report.

Gotta get to work.

Reminiscing about this instead.

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Now I’m hoping Justin wants to do some sort of leather project this fall.

AND I REALLY MUST GET TO WORK. Ugh.

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I just stood in the kitchen, making myself a late-night snack of chopped apples and walnuts with a drizzle of caramel sauce, and thought, “I should prep breakfast, too.” So I chopped the rest of the apple into a bowl of oats, added the brown sugar and walnuts, and popped it in the fridge to wait for morning when I’ll add water and, voila, oatmeal.

And I realized that the brilliant idea of oatmeal-ready-to-microwave, however unwittingly, came from Tamara.

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Good friends. They’re always with you, especially at the odd moments.

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Once or twice a week I stop at either Dunkin Donuts for a large iced coffee, or I grab one of the various pre-packaged Starbucks caffeine vehicles in the cafe on my way across campus. I don’t think about it much — I’m sort of a black hole with money, particularly what I think of as “incidentals”. I’m pretty sure if I stopped and looked, I’d discover that my incidentals budget is the size of a small country. I’m vowing that this is the month I start to look.

Doubleshot

Because, today, my phone’s ringing. It’s a number I don’t recognize, one that’s rung through a few times this week, and my phone tells me it’s in LA. I don’t know anyone in LA. So it’s … something automated. In any case, today I answered it instead of ignoring it.

It was MSF. If there’s anyone who can call me and ask for money and not irritate me, it’s Doctors Without Borders. Those people are heroes. I give them a couple hundred dollars a year, in monthly installments, and have for years. And every now and again they call and ask for a one-time donation for a project, or for an increase in my monthly gift.  And I always, always, always say yes.

Because… well. They have the sucker punch of telling me about “refugees from Somalia… children facing malnutrition… outbreak of cholera…” and then asking, “can you give an additional $5 a month?” as I look at 3 dollars in snacks on my desk this afternoon… Yes. Here. $5 more a month is fine. I have to stop myself from babbling. “Also, take my car. Would a cat help? How about some cute shoes? I have a lot of those.”

And she closed the call with “bless you, dear. Thank you.” Jesus. DON’T THANK ME I’M A TERRIBLE FIRST WORLD AMERICAN DRINKING STUPID COFFEE DRINKS AND PEOPLE ARE DYING GAH.