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Anxiety Woman celebrates 4th of July

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4th girl

Yes! That’s me. I don’t look anxious! I am a gorgeous American woman on the French Riviera, not a person who worked all day eating just an apple and several cookies then arrived at a BBQ and proceeded to eat three hamburgers.

4th boy

Yes, That’s me too!  I made these cutouts for work and brought them to the BBQ. My 4th of July leggings look like coordinated knee braces! See the hula hoop in the background? I had fun with this after the three hamburgers and wound up running to the restroom three times as well. Also I had a Klondike bar, rhubarb cake, sticky rice treat and homemade lemonade. I might have overdone it.

I am very enthusiastic about the 4th. I blew up a wading pool by hand at work. We rolled people under the sprinkler, (not like burritos but in their wheelchairs). We had a parade.  Eventually my body gave in and I had an allergy attack. No big deal. I took a Benadryl which my nurse friend informed me is Diphenhydramine. I seriously thought Benadryl was the generic name for the last 40 years or so. But then Southerners call every soda a Coke. I’m just another marcher in the long parade of American consumers of brand names.

Luckily, my difficulty breathing resulted in a retreat to my friends’ very cool basement to watch Team America: World Police. I highly recommend this as a 4th of July activity. Who doesn’t love fighting marionettes and singing  along with the theme song “America Fuck Ya!”

team america

It is a surprisingly timeless film. One could almost imagine this particular gentleman taking over a revolutionary era airport. In the movie he just destroys the Eiffel Tower and maybe The Louvre.

I went to a garage sale and got this painting that was kind of dark and stained but I spruced it up with a dose of anxiety.

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My fear about blinking, or not keeping an eye out at all times, is that I will miss something fun. I like fun, but it’s no use being anxious about fun because that defeats the point, kind of like Team America defeating the world, even if the world does include Matt Damon.

I also chose the book for book club this weekend. I hoped everyone liked it as much as I did. I found it so entertaining I am going to start reading it again right after I write this. As I feared, no one else found it quite as amusing and they collectively wondered how it won the Pulitzer Prize. A book addressing anxiety about aging, love and artistic success in America not worthy?  They considered it lightweight but that was what they  asked me for “Please Joan – This time no holocaust or books containing torture.”  I highly recommend “Less” by Andrew Sean Greer for an well written laugh inducing read that you can finish in a weekend if you wish. Feel under no obligation to award it a prize.

less

From a review by Patrick Gale in The Guardian:

Novels about novelists are always a risk, but Less is about anyone who has allowed their calling to define them at the expense of their humanity. Writers may blush in the mirror it holds up to them, but many readers will find it as endearing as the very best of Armistead Maupin.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jun/01/less-andrew-sean-greer-review

Please don’t be jealous of my fun filled weekend as I have no children and plenty of time to amuse myself. I can only hope that you ate as much as I did and sneezed a bit less.

 

 

 

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Summer in Anchorage!!!!

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sky

9:30 pm, Weds 6/6/19 on Anchorage’s Coastal Trail.

Yes it’s finally here.

Everyone is sweating. It was 68 degrees today. People were cranky. Why don’t we have air conditioning?  Why are there so many bugs?

It’s raining now. That’s what happens when you get out of work. It’s 730 pm so the sun could come out at 9 pm like it did last night and people will pop out of their houses  with their dogs, their babies, their cigarettes, bicycles and dancing/drinking clothes.

I was just out walking in the rain and passed a man BBQing chicken wings in the downpour. I complimented him on the smell and was hoping for a taste but his lady friend appeared and I moved on.

The streets clear out in the rain. People run, bike, walk, in the snow but they hide in the rain even after they have been complaining about the heat all day. I was incredibly grateful for the smell and the thunder. I had wanted to go swimming in a lake but the water has not warmed up to the high 40’s yet. I prefer the low 60’s for swimming water but will jump in just about anything that hasn’t crystallized. Also there is lightening.

I haven’t blogged recently because I’ve been obsessing about the possible shortage of avocados.  I grew up avocado-less in Ye olde New England and have been frightened of returning to that state of tasteless ignorance. You could say the potato is the Irish equivalent of an avocado. It tastes good with butter and you can incorporate it into almost any meal. But whereas a potato famine could actually cause death, an avocado shortage causes only an awareness of entitlement which is miserable in a completely different way.  Young people might revolt as they do in hot summer weather but no one will die over an avocado . At least I don’t think so.

We fight about oil, racism, immigration, water, and money but I hope it doesn’t come down to avocados.  There are substitutes for avocados just as there are substitutes for petroleum but no one is really pursuing them. Pureed peas or asparagus make a passing guacamole.  Hummus is good on toast. Ice cream tastes as rich if not as warm.

We white people will live through this, as we have lived through our cold winters and too hot summers, using our wits and our privilege to keep ourselves supplied with food that other people pick for us until those other people decide we are not worth it. Perhaps Trumps tariffs might be a good thing after all.

I have been thinking for a long time that life in Alaska is not environmentally responsible unless one has the skills and time to produce/hunt/fish/pick their own food.  Just the cost of shipping up avocados, cashew milk and ice cream that I consume in bulk makes me an abuser of resources. Then there are my trips of enormous distances by plane.  Maybe I will leave, but not yet. Not while I can have the streets to myself in a summer rain.  We shall see what happens on June 10th!

 

 

Rites of Spring

I arrived in Alaska, like many people do, in the spring. It was April 29, 1997. My roommate Fred and I got off the plane sometime between 10 and 11 pm. It was not dark, but not light. It was weird. Today it feels less weird.

After twenty odd years I am getting the hang of it. Spring begins with snow. Last week, it snowed everyday, for most of the day. Then it melts and there is trash and dirt followed by neighborhood clean up days. Neighborhood clean up days are followed by the arrival of the pirate regatta. No boats, just tents of men from somewhere else set up in the city greenbelt.

They are indeed pirates. They steal anything that isn’t nailed down. They’re mostly snowbirds, taking advantage of the warmer weather to live the wild rule free life afforded by stolen bikes, cars and the checks from unlocked mailboxes. Your trip to Anchorage would not be complete without a visit to the unsanitary dwellings of these scallywags which are conveniently located right off the Chester Creek trail, only 10 minutes walk from the myriad of downtown gift shops also waiting to rip you off.

But besides the arrival of flocks of humans we have the birds. First come the gulls, ducks, geese, swans, and grebes. I saw my first arctic terns of the season today. I have not seen a bear yet but they have been seen by others. They are probably watching me right now.

No green. In case you are wondering. Tiny buds on trees, but the bloom will happen soon. Maybe in a couple of weeks and it will be overnight, instant spring. Dandelions will pop up along with rhubarb. Perhaps the pebbles which kept my car from skidding in the winter will finally wash away instead of spitting tiny stars onto my windshield. One can only hope.

On the subject of rites, tomorrow is Walpurgis night. You may pray to St. Walpurgis to protect you from the partiers who build bonfires to keep away scary folks who gathered at The Brocken. Why gather at the Brocken? Why at Chester Creek? Who knows? Here is a photo of The Brocken Spectre, a optical illusion which surely had something to do with the fears surrounding it. Apparently the shadow of a climber can cause this.

800px-Solar_glory_and_Spectre_of_the_Brocken_from_GGB_on_07-05-2011

By Brocken Inaglory, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15799557

I have yet to see a Chester Greenbelt spectre but I will keep my eyes peeled.

I have my rituals to keep away the spectre of the spring blues, different from the winter blues in that they are more agitated and hateful instead of hopeless and sleepy, I walk, attempting to see the tiniest bit of spring. I ride my bike. I try to do theatre in the spring to remind myself of joy, art, and that I am not dead yet. I will be performing a small part in Anchorage Community Theatre’s production of The Giver starting this week. The pay as you can preview is this Thursday at 7 pm. We play Thursdays through Saturdays at 7 pm and Sundays at 3 pm for three weeks. All the actors are talented and committed, the crew is extraordinarily creative and it’s a very meaningful show. You can purchase tickets here:

https://www.actalaska.org/tickets

If you are not familiar with the play, it looks like Anchorage in the spring – very gray. The Giver is a thoughtful examination of rules, sameness, safety and the erasure of history for the greater good, or not so good. There was a movie made of it with Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges. Here’s a trailer.

The play is simpler but that makes it even more frightening. One doesn’t need an orchestral score and movie stars to be shocked at how close we are to a dystopian future. Just like I don’t need to be bowled over by flowers and warmth to know it’s spring. Come by and check it out. You won’t be disappointed. Happy spring!

Painting as an anti-anxiety/anti-depressant

Sometimes blogging makes me think too much and I need a break. Sometimes exercise is impossible due to injuries. The Salvation Army has saved my butt during several dark Alaskan winters by sponsoring an arts and crafts project called Transformed Treasures.  They give participants $50 worth of Salvation Army coupons in order to transform 3 items from their stores and then they are auctioned off in the spring. I have completed my three just in time to start rehearsals for a show.

As an unmarried woman without children I am conscious that I can not make my job or my blog or my home or my hobbies my life. I am an amateur at everything. Many people frown on this but it is my credo that if I stop loving something I should take a break from it. If I feel that something is taking on too much significance in my life, in that I am making it more important than my recovery, then I need to step back.  Obviously I can’t give up on everything. That’s what depression wants, so I have lots of alternative interests.   As an over active person, painting allows me to sit down and pursue something that has much more process than endgame.

In the past, I have painted sneakers, (trainers for you Brits) and  lamps in tribute to women artists. This year was just a fun bit of steampunk and Doctor Who. I have never painted reverse on glass so this was a great process of making mistakes and living with imperfection. Everything used was non-toxic. I especially liked aging the letter holder with acrylic paints added to watered down isopropyl alcohol and applied with a hand pump sprayer. What fun, and it looks like mold and patina.

Here is the distressed steampunk letter holder. The internet is great for finding old bills of lading and dirigible pictures to decorate with.

distressed steampunk letterholder Jcullinane Transformed Treasures

Old School is new school again. Get off line. Write notes and letters.

Here are my Doctor Who plates. Who knows why I love this show so much? The multiethnic cast? The great British actors? The broad themes of human struggle and humor that echo the original Star Trek?

DoctorWhoDarlekplateJcullinanetransformedtreasures.jpg

I’m not really sure if there is a market for a Darlek dinner plate. I believe a child or diehard adult fan would appreciate it. It looks a little angry but perhaps angry dinner plates can be a new thing? It’s therapeutic to make something that speaks to oneself and hope that the spirit moves someone else. Even though it is not a terribly original idea, it’s still an odd one and I am proud of that.

The first piece I made is the Tardis plate which is a bit rough around the edges as I was just learning to paint on the reverse and get the lettering right.  But it does have transparent windows which are cool.

DoctorWhoTardisplatejcullinanetransformedtreasures

It looks like the Tardis is falling rather than flying but she often does that. I believe it will be a nice plate for fish sticks and pudding dip.

I’m happy to be giving these away.  I just hope I spelled everything right. If not they don’t have my name on them. I feel a bit less anxious but that could also be all the chocolate I’ve been eating. Bon Appetit.

Advice from Alaska on how to deal with a Polar Vortex

 

It is generally colder here in Alaska than in your backyard so we would like to help you survive the next few days of POLAR VORTEX. We don’t have POLAR VORTEX here but we do have The Arctic Circle and the record for the coldest temperature in the United States, (-80 degrees F in the 1970’s.)

Chances are you SHOULD NOT GO SWIMMING TOMORROW, EVEN AT THE POOL.  Your hair, if not dried completely, will get all frozen when you walk out and you will look like Doc Brown. At some point, dry thirsty hair will bite back by shocking  you with static electricity which could kill you, when and if it is the form of lightening, so LOOK OUT!

Your lips will get incredibly chapped. DON’T LICK THEM! Your tongue may stick to them, no just kidding. Slather on the lip balm which your grocery and drug store will run out of in 35 minutes from this posting. Also your legs will itch uncontrollably and you WILL break out in a weird rash of red bumps on your torso. I would show you a picture of my cold weather rash but it is all gone because it is a balmy 32 degrees and snowing here in Anchorage. Slather on the moisturizer or shortening or lard if necessary.  Do not go to the emergency room. This is not Shingles.

The freezing point is  the weather we prefer here. It is perfect. You will soon agree.  Although 20 degrees is better for ice skating which is only done outdoors here. If you go ice skating in minus 20 degrees F, as I have done on occasion, you may find your nose is running and wipe it on your mitten. Only you will find blood all over you as your nasal membranes may burst. This is not a medical emergency, just poor judgement.

I saw this  headline posted online

Experts Are Warning People Not To Breathe Deeply Or Talk Outside Ahead Of The Polar Vortex

I traced it down to this website:

Experts Are Warning People Not To Breathe Deeply Or Talk Outside Ahead Of The Polar Vortex

Uproxx

who in term attributed it to The National Weather Service in Des Moines, Iowa.  I combed through the NWS Iowa site and saw no mention of silence or walking backwards while throwing salt over your shoulder in order that the POLAR VORTEX shall not strike you dead with its Mighty Ice Scythe.

Truth be that this map was also featured on the Uproxx site:

I’m not so sure I can take this site seriously as Alaska and Hawaii are not even accounted for. Hawaii and Alaska might just say, ” Yo! You want those Smallpox blankets back?”

As far as not breathing deeply outside, you can accomplish that easily by inducing a panic attack which involves shallow breathing.  Start thinking about Trump or your retirement account, what’s left of it, or your diet before going outside.  Panic is your friend. Remember if you turn blue, faint and break your head open it probably isn’t from the cold but from your lack of breathing. God forbid you wear a scarf or face mask. JUST DON’T TALK. THE POLAR VORTEX STALKS PEOPLE WHO TALK! JUST SHUT UP FOR GODSAKES AND LIVE TO TALK ABOUT IT!

Here’s some more unsolicited advice from Alaska. DO GO OUTSIDE! IF YOU DO NOT, EVERYONE FROM WORK WILL HAVE A STORY ABOUT HOW COLD IT WAS BUT YOU AND YOU WILL HAVE NOTHING TO TELL YOUR KIDS WHEN THEY COMPLAIN ABOUT HOW HOT IT IS THIS SUMMER.  Best to walk to the store and buy some ice cream. That is something to be able to write on your tombstone.

Also there will be things you want to purchase for this event such as Touchscreen gloves. Do not even think of it. These do not work in Alaska, maybe because we have sketchy internet service or maybe because IT’S TOO COLD!!  Your fingers will fall off in those wimpy gloves. Touch screen mittens would be a better idea but then you would need a phone like this:

phone 2

which is traditionally used indoors.

In Alaska we do tend to wave conversations inside when it gets too cold. We wear layers or if you are pretentious you buy high tech polar clothing even if you don’t work outside.  We plug in our cars and the people with the high tech polar clothing have remote car starters and seat warmers. Most adults go outside each day no matter how cold it is because we are insane but recess is cancelled because little children don’t know how to slow down in the cold. We don’t do marathon training in that kind of weather but we also don’t call in sick from work or people will laugh at us. People have been know to go camping in minus twenty and sleep in snow shelters for fun.

Enjoy your POLAR VORTEX. Don’t die. Don’t stop breathing and remember that silence won’t save you. THE POLAR VORTEX CAN READ YOUR MIND! Alsoif you do happen to get the day off, consider pairing with a co-worker and driving to the store or foodbank or just to a local bus stop and offering folks a ride home or wherever. It will warm your heart if nothing else.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anxiety Woman tries every peppermint product of the holiday season!

BE MERRY!  The season demands I comply. Peppermint disappears from the shelves like eggnog and its predecessor pumpkin spice. It dies a cruel death even though you and I know it will bloom in every crevice of free soil come June.  I need PEP to get through the winter. PEP smells good and it comes with sugar and chocolate. It is spirited!

Although I do worry a bit about diabetes, I worry more about depression, Donald Trump’s impact on my life and my own sanity so this year I tried peppermint. Lot’s o’ peppermint.  Here are the results.

Product number 1:  Peppermint cocoa or mocha.

I make it at home with the cheapest cocoa packet, almond milk and peppermint extract.  I never used to buy the packets because I always have baking cocoa on hand but you  have to put 5 minutes of work into that.  When I buy it at a coffee stand it better be great because I make this all the time and I want a treat. Give me the Goddamn whipped cream please!

Kaladi’s Brothers hot chocolate was too sweet so I could not taste the peppermint at all. Steam Dot was not sweet enough, more like chocolate mud.

The winners:  Starbucks in Anchorage for its  “treaty-ness” and Peet’s Coffee overall because of customer service, ambiance and superlative everything.

Product number 2:  Peppermint ice cream

The overall winner is Tillamook. Both creamy and pepperminty, you can’t beat it.  I couldn’t even find it this year!  I tried others which were just bad. Peppermint oil is very strong and cheap but some places use artificial flavor anyway, yuck! It also doesn’t have to be pink, thank you!

Product number 3: Candy canes

The expensive ones are no better than the cheap ones but I stick with peppermint or crème de menthe. Then there are those gigantic gourmet canes they sell at ACE Hardware. Go expensive if you must get a fruit flavor, pumpkin pie or coffee flavor or make some kind of impression. All the flavored ones at Fred Meyer’s are just citric acid and run off from Monsanto. Look at this $1 pack off the sale rack.

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I also keep a pack in my Subaru for earthquakes and getting lost in the wilds of Wasilla. I must have bought them a long time ago as the price reads 19 cents!

19cents

Product number 4: Peppermint chocolates.

This part of the experiment has been most fulfilling. Ghirardelli?– NO!  Too much packaging, too little peppermint. Lindt white chocolate peppermint balls – YES! Know that handsome beardless chef they have on their advertisements? Somehow the chocolate is as smooth and shiny as his face!

lindt

Chocolate peppermint bark from Walmart – okay but chocolate bark from Alaskan Sweet Things – MUCH BETTER. Walmart’s bark tastes like it could have been almond bark or toffee bark and they had some left over candy canes. It’s not even cheap. Alaskan Sweet Things is less smooth- thus less corporate, beautifully colored, tasty and uses -GLACIAL WATER, (perhaps from Anchorage taps).

I confess I would eat any of the above laying around but making your own white and dark chocolate peppermint bark is the best. See’s used to have some white peppermint truffles but I could not find them this year. They are GREAT! Andes After Chocolate Mints and York Peppermint Patties will do in a pinch.  They don’t really say “Happy Holidays!” , more like, “All I could afford was these.”

Winners:  Tie between  Lindt White Chocolate Peppermint Balls and Alaskan Sweet Things White Chocolate Peppermint Bark.

Product number 5: Peppermint popcorn. Yes, it tastes good but it isn’t really worth it because as I get older everything sticks in my teeth.

Default winner: Boom Chicka Pop White chocolate peppermint popcorn

I have a headache now. Too much peppermint, sugar and Bold Italics. So much money and calories spent on research. I panicked and signed up for a “You can be a copywriter” website to increase my income and an Online Dating Site to improve my self esteem.  I wonder what the flavor of 2019 will be. Any suggestions?

Season’s Greetings from Quake Town U.S.A

I propose that Anchorage, Alaska change its name to Quake Town, U . S. A. Our current slogan is “Big, Wild, Life.”  In truth, “Big Moose/Many Gift Shoppes” would be more appropriate. “Quake Town” would capture the peril and uncertainty which most adventure travelers are seeking. Could we meet their expectations? If we have learned anything from the last earthquake I would say YES!  We could provide certificates authenticating quakes which occurred during your visit, conduct bracing earthquake drills at each hotel. auction off broken dinnerware or create desserts of ice cream with broken pieces of chocolate bark to illustrate the effects of seismic upheaval.

Perhaps this appeals to me because it is late and I can’t sleep, not because of earthquakes but because it is nearing the winter solstice.  My mind and body struggle to keep up with the increasing loss of daylight and the greyness of global warming. Yet I persist in attempting to create Christmas cheer. Behold my new lawn display:

pen 2

These exquisite creatures arrived in my driveway anonymously last week in response to my post searching for a light up snowman. Now that is the true holiday spirit! I did not know I needed penguins but now that there are three people living here and a need for both humor and earthquake detection I am convinced that there is a God.  I am the tipped over one. The sheet over the chairs is supposed to be a glacier since they looked a bit sad in the globally warmed greenery of my yard.  Here is a photo of them on active alert – triggered by the motion sensor I have them plugged into!

penguins

I also have a special aftershock detector installed in my bedroom which allows me to travel in time to a place of aliens, Time Lords and Daleks where earthquakes are the least of my worries.

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This suspended Tardis, also a gift, responds to settling tremors by absorbing the energy waves and swaying peacefully to transport my consciousness to another level. I enjoy the new Doctor very much and continued to be surprised how the writers get me to cry at the end of almost every episode.

I have tried some not so successful methods of cheering myself such as commenting on controversial posts on the internet. I do not advocate this unless you just want to wish them “Merry Christmas.” This is what I will be doing from now on so that when I receive emails telling me to “Shut up!” I will assume I have offended their religious beliefs and will apologize profusely instead of continuing an argument.

Also I attempted to make a holiday skirt out of a Christmas tree skirt which is now lying crumpled on my bedroom carpet.IMG_20181204_211620608

Although my waist is closer to 30 inches than 34, I cut the hole in the center to the latter dimension so that the skirt would hang longer and thus created a cascade of unraveling destruction. I may try to use my mini sewing machine to reconstruct the damage much as one might do after an earthquake.

Alas another fail, I attended a party yesterday and in my unbridled enthusiasm ate a wide variety of delicious foods, ignoring my previous experiences only to soil myself on the way home. Too much information?  May you all grow old a bit more graceful than I!

Here are a couple of more successful attempts at cheer.

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My new hat has met with nothing but compliments. $6 at Walmart well spent. I also purchased an outfit for my car which is modest but effective.car

I hope this will bring cheer to little children and those who are children at heart as they see it parked on the icy streets of Anchorage. ’til we meet again, take it one quake at a time!