Sunday, February 21, 2021

Low-Down Gritty Me, Age Shock, Gym Bag Redux

For reasons, I felt gritty and low-down and wicked this weekend, so I set about downloading “Grand Theft Auto 5.” I didn’t realize the process was going to take ten years. This game is a monster. I kept checking on the download throughout the day, but it wasn’t until 9:00 p.m. that it fully propagated on my system, and by then I was too tired to figure out how to get through the tutorial. I’m going to try again today. So far it’s quite loud and violent, and I’m stuck in the tutorial because I can’t figure out how to “take cover.” But I’m looking forward to playing someone mean and crooked. I want to steal cars and blow things up. I want to be bad and sultry and quick and criminal. I want to zip around L.A. in a flashy stolen vehicle and bask in the blazing California sun. I am tired of living a grim, responsible life in a cold, gray respectable city. I’m bustin’ out, folks. If the Feds kick my door down, it’s been nice knowing you.

I have been lamenting with one of my friends via text this weekend over our Terrible Medical Experiences of late. I don’t want to get into too much detail, but I suspect that a certain amount of age discrimination has been at play for both of us. I normally just go about my life, bopping along with my job and my workouts and my crafting pursuits, not thinking much one way or another about my age, until I run into a medical authority who wants to point out that it’s an issue. And ever since, I’ve been spinning out about it, mentally honing my knife and obsessing over the fact that this is now something that I have to be on constant guard against with every medical visit, and worrying that I am going to be dismissed and disdained because I am now officially an old. I am very on edge right now over an upcoming minor procedure, (everything’s fine) and it’s possible that I’m just being being hyper-sensitive, but it’s a little bit shocking to go around thinking of yourself as young and then have reality pointed out to you in a stark and less-than-sensitive way. Aging sucks.

I mentioned a few posts ago that I was in the market for a cool gym bag, and as much as I have looked and looked, I have been unable to find one that meets my arbitrary standards of hip and practical. There are a lot of ugly gym bags out there. I want the nice pink one the blonde lady at the gym had, but I can’t find anything close to it. Now I am wondering if I just imagined this glorious, long pink gym bag in my fevered workout dream. But I will keep looking. It has to be out there somewhere. And with it, I shall sail to great heights of gym success, and finally be able to achieve that elusive pull-up. Because it’s well-known that a cool gym bag is the key to one’s first pull-up. 

Speaking of that, this is probably not riveting content for most, but I though this video on how to achieve a pull-up was pretty interesting:

 --Kristen McHenry


Sunday, February 14, 2021

Box Set Bonanza


Folks, I am so excited I can barely see straight. Guess what I got in the mail last week? Drum roll please…A Nancy Drew Mystery Series Box Set! A box set! I was completely delighted and have already burned through “The Secret of the Old Clock” and started in on “The Hidden Staircase.” How, you may be asking yourself, did Ms. Typist find herself in possession of a Nancy Drew Mystery Series Box Set? Well, it’s a funny story. I was talking to my Mom on the phone and she said that my librarian sister sent her a Nancy Drew Mystery Series Box Set as something to read during the endless lock-down, and I was immediately overwhelmed with both nostalgia and envy. Like many young girls, I loved those books when I was a kid. Nancy Drew was a hero of mine, and those books were a big part of my literary development, not to mention my dream to become a private detective. (The private detective thing hasn’t happened yet, but there’s still time.) Mysteriously, a few days after the phone call, I got an unexpected package from Amazon and within, to my utter enchantment, was the cheery yellow box set complete with the first five books in the series, including the original cover art and line drawings. (Remember those?) I immediately texted my sister inquiring about the Mystery of the Yellow Box set, but she said it wasn’t her who sent it. It turns out, it was my mom. She heard my yearning and answered with Nancy Drew.

Having just finished “The Secret of the Old Clock” I have learned many astonishing things, among them that cinnamon cake topped with hot apple sauce is a thing that exists. Another is that we were once brave and hardy and healthy and wholesome. We knew how to do basic things like a change a tire, operate a motor boat and alter a garment. (Nancy does all three in the first few chapters alone.) I won’t go too far down the “we were better people then” rabbit hole, but it was a bit of a culture shock. The early Nancy Drew books were published in the 1930’s, and obviously it’s a whole other world now. We have lost a lot of competencies that used to be a given part of adulthood. Speaking of adulthood, it never occurred to me reading the books as a kid that Nancy is eighteen years old and living at home with her father with seemingly no plans for college or getting a job. For someone with nothing to do, she certainly manages to keep busy. And her Dad…can we just talk about her dad for a minute? I guess it must have been lost on me as a kid because I didn’t recall much about him, but Carson Drew is the best dad ever. He’s a kind and indulgent father, but he’s always pushing Nancy to think logically and to be courageous and make bold moves. And he raised Nancy as a single dad when her mother died.

Along those lines, I found it interesting how many of the characters in “Clock” had alternative living arrangements to the nuclear family. There were two cousins who lived together on a farm and made their living selling crops, sisters who were raising an orphaned child together, and Nancy herself, who lives with her father and his housekeeper. In fact, I don’t believe there was a single character in a nuclear family in the entire book. Most of the characters were struggling financially to some degree or another but they were getting by and they embodied stoicism. I can feel another bout of “we were better then” nostalgia coming on so I better wrap this up. The bottom line is, I have a Nancy Drew box set and I highly encourage you to obtain a box set as well...any box set. They are a thing of joy, no matter what your reading preference.

There are a ton of Nancy Drew shows and movies, but I couldn’t find any good clips, so here is an old Simon’s Cat classic, in honor of the foot of snow that was dumped on Seattle this weekend:

--Kristen McHenry

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Gateway Peanut Can, Book Musings, Gym Bag Envy

Im a destester of clutter to the point that I tend to throw things away that I end up needing later, so I was surprised to find myself fishing a peanut can out of our recycling bag this week and setting it possessively on the kitchen counter, like someone who grew up in the Depression. In my defense, it’s not just any peanut can. It’s really nice, big, wide vintagy-looking can with a solid lid. That can has infinite possibilities. It could hold screws or rubber bands or coffee beans or embroidery thread. It could be used as a grease can or a spider trap. I could fill it with marbles or hard candy or make it into a planter. It would be an absolute shame to let a fat, shiny vintagy can just go to waste. It’s been sitting there for over a week now, but I’m undaunted. Its purpose shall be revealed in time and I will ensure that its mission is fulfilled. In the meantime, I’m watching myself for further signs of incipient hoarder-dom in case it’s a gateway can and I’m just this side of making a fort in our living room out of newspapers and toilet paper rolls. This is how it starts, folks. You rescue one can and the next thing you know there’s a camera crew at your house and a nice lady is asking you to choose which of those six hundred Gatorade bottles you can bear to part with.

I’ve been blogging on this site since 2008. (I have a limited reserve of consistency, and what I do have I use up on this blog and the gym.) Lately I’ve been kicking around the idea of putting together a book of essays from some of my posts, but there is a huge amount of material to comb through and I don’t know if it would be interesting to anyone. I don’t know if my yammering about nonsense and complaining about the shoddy state of retail is enough to warrant an entire book. Also, it seems a little grandiose, as though I think that what I have to say is so riveting that it all needs to go into book so that the whole world may have easy access to all of my amazing thoughts. (This attitude is probably why I never gained much traction as a writer.) Nonetheless, I’m still considering this book thing. There are certain Big Themes that have emerged over time that I could work with. Or I could just go full fluff and make the entire book about my exploits in Stardew Valley. Stranger things have sold.

I was touched with bag envy recently at the gym. This blonde Amazon was in there doing insane dead-lifts, and she had this big showy pink ultra-feminine gym bag filled with accessories. I was quite taken with this bag, (not to mention how much weight she was lifting) and I became convinced that a showy pink gym bag is a must should I continue to make progress. I’ve since changed my mind on the pink, but I am going to go gym-bag shopping online soon. I now have a barbell cushion for the squat rack, so I need a bag to transport it in. A quick glance online so far has not yielded any ultra-feminine looking gym bags, but I did find a leopard-print one, and strangely, one with elaborately-costumed elephants.

I’ll post a pic of what I finally land on. (I know you are all waiting with baited breath.) In the meantime, enjoy this bit of fluff from wholesome Midwest comedian Trey Kennedy making fun of art majors like myself. 

--Kristen McHenry

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Panty Thief, Trainer Redeux, Sunflower Metaphor

I needed a good laugh this week, and I was blessed with one. I was both horrified and delighted to come across an article about a gentleman in Las Vegas who cooked up an ingenious scheme to meet the ladies by stealing their underpants from their hotel rooms and holding said panties hostage in exchange for their cell phone numbers. He was caught and arrested, and I do not know what fate awaits him, but I have chuckled numerous times recalling the story. I think it’s funny that this person is apparently unaware that women’s panties are renewable resource. It’s as though he thought that all women are issued seven pairs of underwear at the age of 18, and that is it. That’s our lifetime supply, and should they get stolen and held for ransom, well, we have no other option but to give in to the demands of the kidnapper. It’s not like there’s a Victoria’s Secret at every mall in the US. I have to give the guy credit for being enterprising, if not smart. And bonus points for including a hand-drawn heart on his ransom notes.

Argh. I am now on my third trainer at the gym. My second trainer departed just when I was starting to bond with her, and I was once again left bereft. I get close to these folks and I have abandonment issues as it is, and I do not like having these trainers vanish on me willy-nilly. I never got over the departure of my first original trainer who I adored, and now I have to go through the five stages of grief all over again. But this new chick is cool. I was a little bit worried at first because she is new to personal training and she is a Yoga instructor, and I detest Yoga. No offense to any of my readers who do it; I know it’s wonderful and has enormous health benefits and blah, blah, blah, but I’ve tried it on more than one occasion and my body just doesn’t take to it. I don’t like being lectured by instructors about my food choices, I don’t like sitting still, and my body just does not want to do Yoga things. I’m long-limbed and I don’t stretch easily. But what I thought were going to be disadvantages have turned out to be assets. Being relatively new to personal training, she is very gung-ho and has “beginner’s mind”, she showed me some great post-work out cool-down stretches, and she’s hip and cheerful. My other two trainers were great, but they both had a bit of a dark streak. This new person is light-hearted and fun. I hope it works out and that she sticks around.

Being a person who both finds social gatherings mortifying and dislikes being the center of attention, oddly, I find myself deeply missing the Big Stressy Event I have referred to here before that I put on each year for our hospital volunteers. It was nixed last year, obviously, and the possibility of holding it in the Spring of this year is not looking good. The space we normally have it in packs us in like sardines so social distancing is not possible, and family-style communal eating is not returning any time soon, vaccine or not. It’s too bad, because I had a really beautiful vision of a sunflower theme, and I had all my scientific sunflower metaphors worked out in my speech, and now it looks like there will be no sunflowers and no speech. I am going to tentatively re-plan the event for October, but a sunflower-themed event doesn’t make sense for that time of year, so I will have to come up with something else. But just so you know, sunflowers engage in heliotropism, meaning they follow the sun. A sunflower faces east at dawn and greets the sun, then slowly turns west as the sun moves across the sky. During the night, it turns back east to begin the cycle again. Sunflowers embody hope and renewal, rebirth and optimism. These are not qualities native to my personality, but I find them comforting nonetheless. Enjoy these sunflowers in action and maybe get some optimism out of it if that’s your thing.


--Kristen McHenry

Sunday, January 24, 2021

The B-Word, Medical Have-Nots, Death by Pessimism

First of all, do not worry one iota. It turns out that I am totally fine, I don’t have anything, and I am absurdly healthy. I wouldn’t even go so far as to say I had a “health scare” recently, but something unusual was going on, so to be on the safe side I e-mailed my doc’s office to inquire whether or not this was something I needed to worry about. I was fully expecting them to shrug it off, but instead I received a restrained but firm directive to get in for an appointment “soon.” By the time I got to the appointment, I was quite riled up with anxiety, although my attitude about my personal health is usually pretty cavalier. I’m the opposite of a hypochondriac. I rarely go to the doctor and I usually skip the things they tell you you’re supposed to do every year. This is from a combination of lack of faith in the medical establishment, and years of experience of my body resolving most of its issues on its own. I’m firmly anti-interventionist when it comes to most mundane medical stuff. But the fact that they were so adamant about me getting in to be seen spiked my anxiety. I had been willing myself not to think about the c-word, and less than fifteen seconds into the office visit, the doctor said the word “biopsy.” At my panicked expression, she tried to soothe things over by helpfully explaining that this sort of cancer is “very treatable if caught early.” Then she backtracked again and said that maybe a biopsy would be overkill and we should start with a medical imaging procedure first. Then, as I was near bursting into tears, she patted my arm in what I fully believe she thought was a motherly, comforting gesture and told me I was more than likely going to be “just fine.”

I like my doctor. She’s a good, diligent doctor and she is a nice and caring person. I understand that she was just thinking out loud as she worked through her clinical decision-making process. But words have impact, and perhaps saying “biopsy” right out of the gate wasn’t the most sensitive approach. I work around a lot of nurses and medical-type folk, and I am constantly astonished at the casual way they talk about medical maladies and blood-spurting and “impacted colons” and God knows what other disasters that befall the human body with upsetting regularity. (How on earth does one get an impacted colon? Do you eat a brick?) I’ve been working in hospitals for almost ten years now and I’ve never gotten used to it. It’s great for them, the “medical haves” who understand that things can be fixed and who have the clinical knowledge and know-how to heal the sick, but for the rest of us, the “medical have-nots,” that stuff freaks us the eff out. I don’t care if my theoretical, non-existent cancer was treatable or not. Just because my doctor knows it would have been treatable does not mean that this was not a potential catastrophe for me. I cannot get cancer. Cancer is for plucky housewives in Lifetime movies. I am too crabby and too negative to survive something like that. I do not and will not have a positive mindset and I would be punished for my pessimism by a swift death. Everyone understands that principle. It’s the law of karma.

At any rate, my imaging results were totally normal and everything is fine. It was just a weird anomaly, and now I regret even having said anything because I probably shaved a few years off my life with the cortisol spike this caused.

Whew, okay. It helped to vent. Here’s something pretty to listen to from a time when there were choruses. Enjoy!

 --Kristen McHenry

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Battle Ropes, Naval Engagements, Tiger Punching

After I told my trainer I needed to back off a little bit on the heavy lifting, she created a body-weight lesson plan for me for last week’s session. And it involved battle ropes! Battle ropes! I was so excited. I hadn’t seen the battle ropes since COVID hit, and I discovered that they moved them to the now-defunct day care room in the back, so you can do them in private without being gawked at by everyone. I never used them before because I was intimidated by them, and also I did not wish to make a spectacle of myself in the heavily-trafficked front area where they previously had the ropes. She showed me how to do them correctly, then promptly transformed into a Marine drill Sargent as I was gasping for breath and my arms were about to fall off: “Push through it!! Push through the fatigue! Go, go, go, go!!!” It was a total blast. You use your whole body to stabilize yourself, including your abs and quads, so basically one session of battle ropes is a full-body workout. If that’s all I ever did at the gym, I would be in amazing shape. 

However, I was crushed when I was told couldn’t go back there and use them on my own—I had to have a trainer with me. It’s some weird, irrational COVID rule that I don’t understand. I had gotten hooked after one session only to find that they were not accessible to me during my regular gym runs. Knowing that the staff are lax disciplinarians, I figured I had a good chance of wheedling an exception out of them, so the next time I came in I asked the kid at the desk if could “just sneak back there and discreetly use them for a few minutes.” After a brief consultation with a more senior employee, he agreed to let me do it “just this once, because it’s not very busy in here right now.” So I got my one extra battle-rope session in. I don’t have the heart to ask again. I don’t want to be a pest and make things difficult for the nice folks at the gym. If I didn’t have downstairs neighbors, I’d install my own darn battle ropes in the living room.

At first Mr. Typist didn’t believe that they were called “battle ropes” and then wanted to know why they were called that. I theorized that perhaps ropes were used in sea battles, at which he fell out of his chair laughing. “Sea battles?” “Yes, sea battles. They needed lots of rope. For the sails and such.” He then sternly informed me there is no such thing as a sea battle, as they are called “naval engagements,” to which I responded that sounded like a meditation session wherein one stares at one’s belly button. The conversation pretty much fell apart after that.

After my successful execution of the bluebird punch-needle wall hanging over the holidays, I’m amped up about doing more, but I’m out of monk cloth and they don’t carry it in the craft stores anymore. I was planning to order some online, but then I came across a beautiful piece on my Facebook punch needle group that was done on denim. It never occurred to me to punch on denim. I have a fancy adjustable needle that I got a while back, so I know I can set it to be able to punch through denim, and I think I might try that. I also found a tiger pattern that I really like, so I’m thinking a tiger on denim will be my next project. I’m up for something punk rock like that.

Speaking of things artistic, Mr. Typist showed me this video this morning about how artists are using Minecraft. There is an astonishing sculpture depicted here that is truly a feat of design and determination. Cutting into mountain in Minecraft is a big project, but to do what this sculptor did is jaw-dropping. Watch and be amazed!


--Kristen McHenry

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Adventures in Basket Weaving, Parrot Mafia, Gym Ambition

I got some basket-weaving kits for Christmas and only just this weekend had the energy to break one of them open and have a go at it. Only there hasn’t been any “go” so far other than spreading the components over the living room floor and squinting in confusion at the enormously complex and detailed instructions. There’s also a grid-like chart that purports to show you when to switch from the beige raffia to the black raffia, but that just makes it all the more incomprehensible. I cannot for the life of me figure how following these directions is going to result in the end product of a cool-looking turtle-pattern basket. I do know that I will never again deride basket-weaving with that old joke about people majoring in it. It turns out it’s really hard, and if any of my readers did major in it, I salute you. The instructions reassuringly tell me that “starting the basket is the hardest part”, so maybe there is hope yet, once I can figure what the heck I’m supposed to do. Ironically, included in the instruction packet is a missive about the spiritual lessons turtles teach us, including patience and persistence. I’m going to need both, otherwise I can see exactly where this is headed--towards me sobbing with frustration and covered head-to-toe in blood-stained raffia.

The Stardew Valley developers recently did a big update that everyone was all excited about, and I was too at first, but it’s starting to drive me crazy now. They added a tropical island to the map called “Ginger Island”, which seems to be run by some sort of parrot mafia. The parrots control all access to the most desirable areas of the island and their preferred currency is Golden Walnuts. Want to cross that bridge to get to the mine? BRAAWWWK!! Five Golden Walnuts. Want to get into the mushroom cave? BRAAWWWK!! Ten Golden Walnuts. You get the picture. I’ve had it up to here with trying to find these stupid Golden Walnuts in the deep bushes and jungle, but I’m not going to get anywhere on the island without them. Additionally, they added a Beach Farm, which does not allow you to use sprinklers, which means that trying to make any money off of crops is going to be nearly impossible. I decided to just go with the flow and created a hippie ‘toon for my beach farm. She has no ambition whatsoever. She’ll be my chill, anti-capitalist character that I’ll play when I just want to zone out and fish on the beach. Overall, the update was a good effort with mixed results. Good on them for trying to freshen up the game a bit.

Speaking of ambition, my gym re-opened right around the time I started to recover from my vacation-induced illness, so I’ve been easing back into it again, but I can tell I’ve lost some of my previous oomph. It took a toll on me to have the gym yanked out from under my nose again just when I was starting to get back to where I was, and now I don’t fully trust it will continue to be there once I get back to being able to do a hundred pounds on the leg press again. (I was this close to getting to one hundred and ten pounds, and now I’m stuck at around seventy-five and trying to build back up.) I told my trainer I wanted to back off a little bit on the heavy weight training. I realized while I was ill that I had been doing more than my body could handle. I’m no athlete, I’m not entering any competitions, I just loved the feeling of being strong and physically competent for the first time in my life, and perhaps I got a little carried away. So I’m backing off a bit. At our next session, we’re going to do body weight exercises, and I’ve asked her to show me how to do a proper push-up. Back to the basics.

In keeping with the theme of chillness, here is video of one of the very sweetest moments in Stardew Valley—the Dance of the Moonlight Jellies, that takes place on the eve of the last day of Summer. It’s such a sweet, simple, yet captivating event. I think we could all use one of the moments right now. Enjoy!


--Kristen McHenry

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Lessons I Learned from 2020

I got horribly sick again shortly after getting last week’s post up, and have now spent the vast majority of my vacation unable to move from the couch and needing long naps after even minor exertion. As such, I have had a lot of time to think, reflect, and come to some realizations. In keeping with the journalistic tradition of end-of-the-year lists, here’s a listsicle of hard-earned lessons I’ve learned in 2020, in no particular order:

As I was lying on the couch angsting about not being able to weight-lift or work out, I came across a post from a Facebook friend who is avid runner and recently injured her knee. She doesn’t know when she will be able to run again, but she is making the best of it by doing mindful walking and using this as an opportunity to heal her “adversarial relationship” with her body. Her post brought me to tears of sorrow. I realized that my relationship with my body has been adversarial too, and while I was fooling myself into thinking this was a form of strength, it is not. It has served only to deplete me. There is a difference between pushing yourself and pushing against yourself.

90 percent of my speech is not about expressing my truth but about soothing the feelings of other people. It does no favors to others to hide our truth from them. It is not up to us to protect others from our truth in order to create false harmony. The price is too high, and I’m not doing it anymore. I’m okay with losing friends now.

We must learn to become chaos-competent. When the pandemic ends, there will still be chaos and unknowns in the world and in our lives. Being able to stand grounded within it is what matters.

Healthcare innovation tends to move at a turtle’s pace, but this year has shown us that we can in fact mobilize at lightning speed when it’s demanded. Telehealth and research goals that were slated for years in the future were reached in a matter of weeks. There is no reason why healthcare needs to lag behind other industries.

The smallest expressions of appreciation have meant everything to people during this time. People are starving for it. A hand-written card, a little gift, a simple thank you, have been received like gold.

I am grateful to those who have taken the time to ask after me when my stress was at its peak it and was clear that something was off, as much as I tried to hide it. I have been surprised at the number of people who care about me. This surprise is something that bears deeper scrutiny.

Humans can become deeply selfish when in fear, but we also have an innate desire to serve. I was amazed at the number of people who e-mailed me wanting to volunteer during the height of the pandemic. And there were so many donated meals being delivered to our hospital that it became a logistical issue.

For a while, every night at 8:00 p.m., there was a minute of shouting, pot-banging and whooping in thanks to the health care workers. I dreaded this every night, because it filled me with guilt that I was not doing direct patient care and didn’t “deserve” it. Now I would feel okay about it. My role counts, too, and so does everyone else’s.

And finally, humans are gonna human. Within the walls of my institution, I have seen the full spectrum of human behavior play out, from the atrocious, unhinged and self-centered to the profoundly selfless and heroic. There’s nothing I can do about the former except hold myself to my own standards and not take bad behavior personally.

For whatever it’s worth, those are my insights after being forced to lie on the couch for almost a week and half, stuck with my own thoughts and staving off PTSD-like flashbacks from the Year of COVID.

Happy 2021!

 --Kristen McHenry

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Body Gone Haywire, Mug Madness, Imaginary CEO

After only a few days of vacation, I collapsed into a helpless heap of myalgiac pain and exhaustion and was functionally unable to move from the couch for two days straight. I e-mailed my trainer with a TMI list of my symptoms and told her that I had to put off any further online workouts for a while. She e-mailed me back, musing that perhaps I was “detoxing” from stress. I think she is right. There was no discernible illness going on, just extreme exhaustion, muscle pain, and a total lack of appetite (which thankfully has now resolved, and I was able to to eat a big breakfast today.) I felt 90 percent better this morning, but I still have some residual fatigue and muscle soreness. When I got my afore-mentioned massage, the therapist kept mentioning “adhesion”, which I definitely felt. All of my muscles and interstitial tissues were gluey and sticky and sore. One massage was not going to resolve a year and half’s worth of extreme stress and weightlifting. As much as I want to keep going and trying to make progress with the home workouts while the gym is closed, it’s clear that I need an extensive break from heavy lifting, as well as just plain rest. It has not been easy to wind down and I think my body just went haywire trying to cope with coming off of a prolonged diet of stress hormones, sleep deprivation and lactic acid build-up.

I was in a bit of a hurry last week to mail a package, drop off a return, and pick up a suitable birthday present for Mr. Typist, and on my quest I went to Bartell’s and grabbed some of those “genius” puzzles in the games section and then at the last minute decided to get him a big mug, because he likes his tea in a big mug. I found a big mug in the tourist-junk section, and I swear to God that I thought the mug graphic said “Pike Place Market” and I bought it thinking that it was a nice homage to his hometown. But when he actually unwrapped it, he looked at it with befuddlement and pointed out that it actually spelled out “Seattle Market Center,” only in the similar logo and red lettering as the famous “Public Market Center” sign that lights up Pike Street. To our great hilarity, upon further examination of said mug, we discovered a teal-colored salmon with a very put-upon expression, the Seattle-obligatory cup of steaming coffee, a plethora of roses, and quite puzzlingly, three heads of garlic. Additionally, it pictured a giant clock similar to the one at the Pike Place Market, but weirdly distorted and with both hands equally as long so we couldn’t tell what time it was actually set on. It was as though it was designed by someone who was briefly shown a flashcard photo of the Pike Place Market and then asked to do sketch of it from memory with their non-dominant hand. And whoever this person was somehow vaguely associates Seattle with garlic and roses, which is not a thing. It’s also a very lumpy mug, so whoever cast it could not be bothered to finish the job properly. Basically, it’s the most half-assed mug on the planet, and Mr. Typist absolutely loves it.

Because I’m crazy and there has been yet another Steam sale, I decided that a great thing to do on my vacation from the hospital would be to download a game about operating a hospital. So far, I have hired a front desk receptionist and general practitioner who hasn’t done much but wander around aimlessly. I think he needs a proper office, which I will build for him, but then he needs to start making me some money. I have expensive imaging equipment to buy and a fancy golf club membership to secure. So much for vacation!

 --Kristen McHenry

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Vacation All I Ever Wanted, I’m Worried about Katie and Peter

It’s official! I am On Vacation, my chickadees, and not a minute too soon after the hellacious work year I’ve had. Due to my prevaricating, it almost didn’t happen. I had vague plans to “take some time off around Christmas”, but with everything going on and being the sole person overseeing our screening checkpoints, planning for my departure felt completely overwhelming so I kept putting it off. My boss casually said to me last week, “You’re out of here after Friday, right?” to which I responded with a panicked, deer-in-the-headlights stare and stammered that I hadn’t done any planning for taking time away and that I “couldn’t just leave.” She wasn’t having any of my baloney. She found some people to take over the checkpoint duties and I spent the afternoon in a whirlwind of Out of Office messages, door signage, e-mail wrapping-up and preemptive plant-watering. Then I locked my office door and left the building, triumphant and exhausted. I’m not going back until January. It’s been almost two years since I’ve taken any significant time off, and I had no idea how tired I’ve become. I would love to say that I learned and grew from my experiences and blah, blah, blah but I think mostly what I did was just survive and develop a stress-related disorder as a fun bonus. I need this time. I can feel my whole body needing it, not to mention my brain and my soul.

This morning Mr. Typist said to me, “You are booked for a massage in one hour. Get there early.” I actually teared up. I needed that massage too, and I wouldn’t have scheduled it for myself. A tall, tatted-up lady worked my neck and back and hips and feet and I was almost too limp to walk home. I haven’t felt this much space between my neck and my shoulders in years. I can barely type right now. The bottom line is, vacation and massages need to happen in my life with far more frequency.

After eleven years, I finally upgraded to a new Kindle tablet, and I’ve been using it properly to continue making my way through The Fountainhead. Right now, I’m worried about Katie and Peter. They love each other and want to get married, but Peter’s mother is interfering in the most insidious way possible, telling Peter that Katie is not good enough for him and that she won’t impress the other architects and she will be bad for his career. I do not like Peter’s mother. She is overly-invested in her son and has an exaggerated sense of his talent. Peter is nothing special; he’s just a follower with a good education and some moderate skill. She should leave him alone and let him marry Katie and be happy, but she insists on meddling. I do not like meddlers. In the meantime, Roarke keeps turning architecture projects down. At this rate, he’s going to end up homeless. I’ll keep you posted.

It’s a little on the nose, but enjoy this 80’s flashback with Belinda Carlyle. I need to go take a post-massage nap.



--Kristen McHenry