Monday, September 27, 2010
My favorite blogger, Steff of kOs, has once again provided me with what I'm considering might be the best band ever, along with causing me to reminisce about my favorite place ever! A few months ago, she introduced me to Eleveitie, a Celtic metal band. I was immediately in love with them and their sound. Now, I'm completely enthralled by the Israeli band Orphaned Land. By completely enthralled, I mean that not only have I ordered two Cd's but that until I get them I have been constantly playing their youtube videos. I didn't even do that with Eleveitie, and I thought they were beyond fabulous. So yeah. Con. Stant. Ly. I wonder if I can break either my computer or youtube. The number of views for these videos has seriously increased in the past week thanks to moi. Orphaned Land has combined metal with Middle Eastern instruments and sounds--I'm pretty sure I even heard what sounded like a shofar blast at one point. I really love the combined effect, plus they do an incredible job at putting ancient texts to music. Love, love, love them. And I just happen to love their country.
One of the things on my bucket list was checked off four years ago when I went on a 2-week journey through Israel. It will probably rank as the highlight of my life. I would go back in a heartbeat if I could. Israel is a country of contradictions and diversity, and it affects all the senses. There are lush, abundant gardens and dry, sparse deserts right alongside barbed wire fences and bunkers. Certain cities are a combination of ancient ruins and bombed buildings. Yet despite all of the obvious signs of conflict, Israel remains one of the most beautiful places on earth. I can't begin to explain how much this trip meant to me. I really was fortunate to be able to go there considering the politics of the area. At the time, I was involved in a study whose leader was able to plan a better tour than most because of our guide and his contacts. The lady in charge of the study had been to Israel earlier and met him, and together they arranged what might be the perfect tour. The guide was knowledgeable about the political situation and decided that our dates of travel were well-timed. We traveled the length and width of the country. We landed in Tel Aviv and headed north to Mount Hermon, right at the border with Lebanon. The Hezbollah would attack six weeks later. Yes, this trip could have been dangerous, and my hubby and family certainly thought so, but quite honestly I was never afraid. Our guide was a Palestinian Christian, so we even made it through several Palestinian checkpoints without incident. We did have to exit the bus and walk in a line set up like a ride at Disney. The main difference was the grated ceiling and the uzi toting guards watching us from above. We saw armed soldiers almost everywhere we went, and we did find ourselves in the midst of gunfire at one point. We ducked. As for the guide, he was considered to be one the best in the area, known to almost everyone, and he was a serious scholar of history and religion. He must have memorized everything he read because he could quote for hours and would give us the detailed history of whatever site we were getting ready to see. As for the places we toured, I can't begin to recount all of my thoughts and feelings. Okay, so I'll try, but take all the usual touristy spots and multiply by ten. Maybe twenty. It was really intense. I got re-baptized in the Jordan River, crossed the Sea of Galilee in a replica of an ancient boat and walked knee-deep in the Dead Sea and got caked with the clingy mud. I stood in the ruins of the city of Masada and felt the silence. I walked quietly uphill along the narrow Via Dolorosa amidst the chattering merchants in their market stalls. I climbed the exact steep steps to Caiaphas' house that Christ would have climbed as He was taken to the high priest. I prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, on the slope of the Mount of Beatitudes and at the Wailing Wall. My Jewish neighbor sent a "tefilah," or prayer, she had written on paper and rolled into a scroll for me to insert in a crack in the Wailing Wall, which of course I did. I knelt reverently before a small grotto in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem where Christianity had its beginning and stood quietly on Mount Meggido looking down on the plains where Armageddon, or the end, is prophesied. I grieved at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial, and wept at the candle-lit Children's Memorial with its endless, quiet recitation of names of the Jewish children who died in the Holocaust. I saw the oldest arched city gate in existence, which as a ruin still stands two stories high, in the ancient city of Ashkelon and shivered to think that I was standing where the Canaanites lived almost 4,000 years earlier. I visited Jericho, Qumran, Caesarea, Mount Carmel and Beit Shean and marveled at the old cities and the ruins. I saw Jews, Muslims and Christians together in one place. I ate some of the best food I've ever tasted. So how to top a trip to the Holy City? Why, with a tour of several Greek Islands, the city of Athens and the ancient city of Corinth and Ephesus in Turkey, of course! We had one free afternoon in Athens that wasn't planned to the absolute last second, and wouldn't you know it but that afternoon, the students had an organized riot and we got caught up in it! We did our best to stay out of the way, but there were several city blocks of students battling the heavily armed αστυνομία, or police, and tanks! We even got tear gassed, but we loved every second of it!
Phew. Just reliving this amazing trip was tiring. I think I slept for a week when we got back. I was jet-lagged and just plain exhausted from going full speed for 14 days. So now back to the subject that got all of this started! Orphaned Land is coming here!! I happened to check their tour schedule and saw that they will be right here in less than two weeks! Here within 20 miles of my house!! I am way passed excited, but guess what? I can't get anybody to go with me. I'll admit to having very few friends who would be interested in listening to a metal band, but then again, I'm not the biggest fan of old-style heavy metal, either. But since Steff opened my eyes (really, I should have said ears here, right?), I've learned that the genre has expanded to include folk metal, viking metal and symphonic metal. Come on, there's gotta be something for everybody in the list of subgenres, right?
So, tell me Steff, are you up for a trip to visit me if I can't persuade anyone else to go?
(Image used is from the newest release by Orphaned Land, "The Never Ending Way of OrwarriOR," a "concept album" with their "unique brand of exotic, heavy music." Their wish is for people to rise above their cultural and religious beliefs and be united by the universal language of music. This image actually combines Hebrew and Arabic lettering. The band had a calligraphy artist to create this for the album. Read more about them at www.orphaned-land.com. Watch and listen to their single, "Sapari," at www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUi1yf97paw. Steff's amazing blog is at www.musingsofbuffyleigh.blogspot.com .)
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Good news on every front! Dad is doing great after his surgery from over a month ago. Mom's lab work on the mass removed from her breast was negative! Yay!! Maris recovered from the vertigo eight days after she got it. Woohoo!! Now she is trying to recover her strength. For the duration of the vertigo, she stayed in her "safe" place--the recliner--and didn't move unless we picked her up to take her out. Now she is actually trying to go up and down the steps on the deck and is jogging around the yard trying to keep up with the others!! She does have the head tilt the vet said she might get. Funny how that happens. My other half is just happy she is now willing to be back on her usual bed so he can have the recliner back! In other news, the cars are not in the shop, I am not having any more panic attacks and I got a thank-you note from my boss for doing the extra work! Also, since I went to my internist three months ago, I had blood work done to check on my progress. All of the high "bad" numbers were down below half of what they were, and the low numbers--primarily Vitamin D--was well above the "good" range!! I have even lost eight pounds. I wouldn't say that I can tell a huge difference, but I did manage to zip up and wear a pair of jeans that I haven't worn in almost a year when I went in for the appointment last week. Of course, slow and steady is the best way to lose, so eight lbs in three months isn't too bad. Last time I lost weight, it was soooo slow to start with and then it seemed like I was thinner overnight. Hopefully that will be the case now. Since hubby was diagnosed with diabetes this summer, we have really changed our eating habits, which is a good thing for us both.
Whew. Now that all of the craziness of the past six weeks is over, I'm working through emotional fatigue and the resulting physical fatigue. With the panic attacks and anxiety and the "tied-up-in-knots" feeling, my insides are exhausted. I'm basically feeling "flat" now--too tired to have any emotions. But I'll take that over the roller coaster ride any day! I'm pushing through to the other side.
Two weekends ago, I worked for my friend on the Saturday of her anniversary sale. It's always a zoo but can also be a lot of fun. And although I didn't start off the day so well, it ended up being good. Part of that was seeing people I haven't seen for a long time, one of whom was Linda. She lost her husband a little over a year ago, and I met her at last year's sale. She and I hit it off, and I was so happy to see that she looked good and has been working through her own issues. She told me that she has started journaling to help with the process, and she had recently decided that she was a warrior and was battling to become her best self. Sounds familiar, I said. I immediately pointed to the "braids" in my hair. I got my hair cut shorter about three weeks ago. It was the first time I've had anything done to my hair in a long time. I think the gal cut about six inches off. Anyway, I've been twisting some of it and letting it dry so that the braid-looking bunches wouldn't come apart. I guess I could actually braid it, but this is so much quicker! I've read that Scottish warriors often braided two plaits, one on each side, before going into battle, so that was what I was calling these--my warrior braids. I purposely did these on Saturday, and I also wore my "armor" jewelry--some spoons that one of the sellers on Etsy made for me. One is hammered and the other has small holes in the length of it. They both pretty much cover my fingers. I also have a finger-long twisted-fork ring and bracelet. I wore all of these together (too much??) when I went in on Saturday in an attempt to keep a visual as I worked. My job was to write up the sales, so it was easy to see them and remember that I could do it. I could make it. I would make it cause I am a warrior. It was so comforting to know that Linda and I were there for one another that day, that we could give each other a thumbs-up and feel good instead of anxious or sad. Another friend, Sandra, stayed several hours after the store closed to help me balance out the day. She also gave me a ride home and told me several times how much she had missed seeing me since last year. It felt good to know that so many people hadn't given up on me. Looking back on it, I'm glad that I didn't throw in the towel and stay home that day. I fought the battle and won the day.
Here's to winning the war...
(Image is a grant winning limited edition digital photo-montage print by artist Suzanne Gonsalez. It is entitled "Mayan Princess" and combines scanned fabric with vintage photographs. She sells her work on Etsy at her shop ravenwolf. More of her work can also be seen at ravenwolfgallery.com)
Monday, September 13, 2010
It started with the emails and phone calls about returning to work. I was anxious about going, but I went. Then Dad had surgery. I took the projects home from work so I didn't have to go to the office, but I was still feeling the stress of the deadline. Lost several nights' sleep. Found out Mom's mammogram showed an unidentifiable mass. Tried to work every day but got so anxious that I never got far. More sleepless nights. Feeling more stress. The transmission in my hubby's car blew up. Took it to the shop. Went a week without transportation since he was driving my car. Had to cancel several appointments. Boss is calling because he thought I would be back within a day or two and what's up with why the work isn't finished. A few mild panic attacks.
Stress gets worse. Mom's doctor scheduled her for surgery. On the day of Mom's surgery, Maris, my precious little angel baby, woke up and ate breakfast, then collapsed. We found out that she has a severe case of vertigo, but we thought she had had a stroke. For two hours that morning, I'm a complete wreck. I've never heard of dogs having vertigo, but according to the vet, it is rather common. I've never actually known a person who has had it, either; however, the symptoms are exactly the same--dizziness, nausea, vomiting, uncontrolled eye movements, difficulty standing or moving, etc. Maris spent the entire day at the vet's office. Find out that her recovery will take two to three weeks. That same afternoon, hubby had a doctor's appointment, I was supposed to deliver the work to the accountant, his car was ready to be picked up and Maris had to be picked up at the vet. Super stressed since I couldn't get the work delivered. I thought hubby was going to have a heart attack because of the cost of getting the car fixed as well as the vet bill. I was anxious because he was. He didn't sleep Thursday night. I spent all day Friday crying because Maris was in such a pitiful state. Had hubby deliver the work to the accountant. By Friday night I thought that I was going to have a heart attack.
Unfortunately, I had agreed several weeks ago to help my friend at her annual anniversary sale on Saturday. She owns a clothing boutique at which I used to work. The anniversary sale is a wild and crazy day with a mob of customers and long lines for both the dressing rooms and the checkout counter. I always run the cash register--I am one of the few who can run the register and credit card machine, write out the handwritten receipts and talk to customers all at the same time without making major errors. Of course I do make some, but I apparently I make fewer than others. Or maybe it's because no one else wants to run the register on that day. Who knows. Anyway, it is always a 12+ hour day what with the set up, sale, break down and closing/settling the register. Part of me wanted to call her on Friday and back out, but I knew I wouldn't and couldn't. Feeling so anxious I can't get to sleep. Very bad since I know how hard the next day is going to be.
Got up on Saturday at 5:45 to feed Maris by hand. Later, while getting ready for work, I had a tremendous panic attack, one so bad that I hyperventilated. I was supposed to be at the boutique by 8:30am, but hubby drove me there around 10:00. Thankfully, I was okay once I got behind the counter and focused on the work. By the end of the day, my brain had stopped working. Although I had made a few errors, I had marked the register tape so I could correct them. I think we balanced within a few dollars, which normally is not acceptable to me, but on a day like Saturday, I'll take it! My dear friend gave me a ride home much later in the evening. I finally ate my lunch (?!) and went to bed. Slept until late Sunday afternoon. I went back to bed at 9:00 that night and slept like the dead.
This morning, Maris has shown a little improvement, and I'm the one who is dizzy.
(Image used is entitled "Carousel in Central Park" and can be found at beautifuldarklight at Etsy.)
Thursday, September 2, 2010
I did finally make it in to work yesterday afternoon. It was a little bit unnerving at first because they hit me with about four different tasks when I walked in the door. I explained that I had to concentrate on the taxes and anything else would have to wait. They were very gracious and told me several times how much they appreciated my help. One of them even made a point to tell me that I was not to get stressed--the situation wasn't my fault. I was grateful that he said that. Once I got into the project, I had about three uninterrupted hours to punch in numbers. Not at all like how it was when I was working full time. My whiteboard always had over 50 things that were in process and needed to be completed yesterday, and I was always being asked to move from one to another as priorities were changed. I'm really more of a tunnel-vision type worker or like the tortoise rather than the hare. I'm one-task oriented and for me, slow and steady means I do a really good job on that task. Too many things to do at one time and nothing gets done well. Having to work like the hare raced is why I was soooo stressed. Jumping and bounding from one thing to another without finishing anything.
I'm getting bent out of shape just thinking about it.
(Image is an abstract metal wall hanging by artist David Armstrong. He suggests it can be birds and fish or the tortoise and hare. I just happen to love metal, especially scraps! I'm the one you might see stopped by the side of the road investigating a strange looking metal object to use in one of my own projects! This beauty can be purchased in Mr. Armstrong's fairly new Etsy shop strongarmstrong. See more of his work at www.birdsflyfree.com)
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Bad, bad me. I didn't make it to work yesterday. I got showered and dressed and put on a few pieces of funky jewelry from a fav Etsy Seller. I even put on makeup, and that hasn't happened more than a handful of times in a year. Took my anxiety meds. Wrote yesterday's post. Listened to a frantic message from my boss.
Maybe I'm being stubborn, but I don't think so. I think I'm picking up their anxiety, and it's building on top of mine. Either way, getting to work ain't happened yet. I called this morning and told them I was trying again this afternoon. Trying. Again.
I mentioned that I got dressed for work and put on makeup, right? What I did forget to say was that I'm also taking my little pet monkey. He hangs out and eats bananas. And didn't we learn from Chiquita Banana that bananas have to ripen before eating? Ripen=progress=prepare. Hey, I'm preparing!
And here I thought being bananas was a bad thing.
(Image used is a print of an original collage that is mounted on a wood block. It is entitled "What's Wrong" and is available for purchase for the Etsy shop WicksomeMay.)
(The original Disney Studios commercial featuring Ms. Chiquita Banana has been out since the 40's. Do you remember the tune? Saying that I do really shows my age. See the entire minute-long video here www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFDOI24RRAE )