Home for Christmas

We’re on our way back to Chicago today, but we’ve been in Minnesota since Sunday celebrating Christmas with our families. It’s been a good week. Here are some highlights:

We learned that the coffee shop where we had our first date is closing at the end of the year. We tried to go to say goodbye, but they were closed until Friday, so we went for a selfie outside.

Outside the Dunn Bros. where we had our first date just over nine years ago

We made the questionable decision to go shopping on Christmas Eve. Found this giant moose made of lights at the mall.

Merry Christmoose!

We celebrated with my partner’s extended family, and his aunt made me a stocking like she’s made for everyone else in the family. His family has always been welcoming, but this was an extra sweet reminder that I belong.

A beautifully cross stitched stocking from my partner’s aunt

We celebrated with my family, and my nephew was very excited to see us. We got many hugs, which were the best presents (which is saying something, because the other presents were also lovely)!

My nephew helped us open the present he gave us.

We had a smaller celebration on Christmas Day with my partner’s immediate family. I made the Yorkshire puddings this year from a recipe by Nancy Birtwhistle of Great British Bake-off fame, and they turned out so great!

Gluten-free Yorkshire puds!

It’s been a lovely week. I’m writing this Christmas night and feeling very loved and content. I do NOT want to go back to work on Friday, but that is what it is.

I hope you’re all having your own lovely winter holiday season, whatever that looks like for you. If you’re not, I hope you can take comfort in the fact that we’re slowly returning to the light now that we’re past the Solstice.

Joyful Travels

As I write this, I’m sitting at my kitchen table, getting a little work done from home before heading to the airport. By the time this goes live, I will be in Minnesota.

With all the darkness in the world this week, it’s nice to have something to be really, genuinely happy about – one of my best friends from my bible college days is getting married, and I’m so glad my partner and I are going to get to celebrate with her and her soon-to-be-husband.

Here are a handful of the things I’m most looking forward to over the weekend:

  1. The wedding. I’m not always the most excited about weddings, but I’m looking forward to this one. This friend and I have been through some things together, and I’m happy to bear witness to anything that is making her happy.
  2. I’m getting coffee with one of my professors from bible college (the only one I still talk to at this point), who I haven’t seen since before I moved to Chicago five years ago. She’s been through a lot recently, and I’m grateful that she’s taking the time to see me.
  3. I get to see my dog and my nephew. My little old lady dog is 15, and she’s slowing down. Every time I’ve seen her this year has felt like the biggest gift, because it was only a year ago that I thought I would probably never see her again (since I wasn’t back in communication with my family yet). I am painfully aware that every time I see her from here on out may be the last, so I’m not taking any opportunity for granted. Our visit to my parents happens to coincide with the time that they’re watching my nephew, too, so I’ll get to hang out with him a bit. From what little contact I’ve had with him, he seems like a bright, creative kid, and I’m looking forward to seeing him again.
  4. This might be the least-packed weekend in Minnesota we’ve had in…well, in a long time. I’m sad that we can’t see everyone, but I’m also looking forward to just relaxing a bit. And I’m hoping it’ll make going back to work on Monday a little easier.
  5. On Sunday, after we get back, we’re going to meet up with a friend at an apple orchard in Wisconsin. Despite my allergies to almost everything outdoors, I love autumn, and apple picking feels like the quintessential autumnal activity.

Weekend Adventures

As many of you may know, I work for a Jewish organization, and one of the best things about this is the fact that I end up with lots of extra days off throughout the year for holidays I don’t personally celebrate. Passover was this past week, and because of where it fell this year, we ended up with a couple of days off last week, and Monday and Tuesday off this week. I had just enough Southwest miles saved up for a free trip to the Twin Cities, so I decided to use my long weekend to catch up with family and some friends I hadn’t seen in a very long time.

I flew into MSP Saturday afternoon, and dropped my stuff off at my partner’s parents’ house, where I was staying for the weekend. That evening, I got dinner with my parents and brother (which went more-or-less okay – sometimes it’s hard to find things to talk about), and then got drinks with an old friend from church youth group. Catching up and reminiscing was a lot of fun.

Sunday I went over to my parents’ house, where we were joined by my brother, sister-in-law, and nephew. The time went well (better than I was expecting, to be honest). I was able to modify the Yoda hat I’d knit my nephew when he was just 7 months old so that it will continue to fit him for at least another couple of seasons (it was still big enough around, but was no longer covering his ears), and deliver the blanket I’d knit for him as a belated birthday gift. We enjoyed watching my nephew (who is three) and my parents’ dog (who is almost fifteen) chase each other around – they are best friends. We went for a walk to the park. All-in-all, it was a nice way to spend the day.

That evening, I went back to my partner’s parents’ house and was able to spend some time with them. We watched Moana, which was great, and I’m a little ashamed I didn’t get around to seeing it until now.

Monday I ended up seeing two of my best friends from college: one for breakfast, and one for dinner. It was wonderful seeing both of them and catching up. I also got to unexpectedly go out to coffee with my best friend in the middle of the day, after she texted me saying her afternoon meetings were canceled. I spent the evening watching baseball with my partner’s parents while we all talked to my partner on speakerphone. It was easily the most delightful Monday I’ve had in ages.

Tuesday morning I got up for an early breakfast with my best friend before leaving town. My flight out boarded on time, and then sat on the runway for an hour – evidently, because of some crosswinds, they were using just one runway for all arrivals and departures, and didn’t really communicate this to anyone ahead of time. But I made it home eventually, and was ridiculously happy when I did. As much as I loved seeing people over the weekend, packing that many visits into such a short time frame really drives home the point that I am an introvert. Being social can be fun, but it is also exhausting.

Thanks to everyone who made time for me this weekend, and apologies to those of you I didn’t see – there are so many of you that I just couldn’t get to everyone!

Pause and Reflect

I’ve been in an introspective sort of place this past week.

Yesterday marked the last session of the songwriting class I’ve been in for the past eight weeks at the Old Town School of Folk Music. I’m 99% certain this is the first class where I haven’t missed a single day, and 100% certain this is the first class where I’ve done the assignment every single week. It’s been an incredible growing experience. I’ve tried new things, challenged myself…and I am overall very pleased with what I’ve written over the past two months. There were weeks where the first song I wrote was okay, but not as good as I thought I could do…so I wrote another one. I feel like I’m really finding my voice as a songwriter, and that’s a fun place to be in. Sue Demel has my eternal gratitude for teaching such a transformative course. It’s been a truly magical eight weeks with our little class of five. I’m excited to head back to Steve Dawson‘s class next week to continue this process of growth!

I’ve also been reflecting on less happy things. My nephew’s birthday is next week. It’s been almost a year since I’ve seen a picture of him or heard anything about how he’s doing, and that hurts my heart more than I can say.

I feel a little bit all over the map emotionally, between those two lanes of reflection, but I’m trying to take concrete steps to take care of myself physically, mentally, and emotionally. It’s a slow road, but I’m making progress. My goal for 2016 has been integration of the various parts of myself, and while that involves some hard work, I can feel the effort paying off in some ways already.


Having an internet presence is a constant balancing act.

I love having this blog. I love that it makes me slow down long enough to write every week, often about things I might not otherwise take the time to think about.

But it’s always a balancing act. How much do I put out into the vast expanse of the internet? How much of my life am I willing to share with friends and strangers? When can I let myself vent about specific people or situations, and to what extent, and when do I need to just keep quiet?

I’ve been dealing with some pretty major emotional stuff lately, and I haven’t known how much to share here. But I think I need to say something, because I have a feeling it’ll come up on its own sooner rather than later, and I want to give some context before it does.

I haven’t spoken to my family of origin since March.

I just wrote 1000 words of explanation, but I am not going to post them, because this is part of the balancing act: I do not want to contribute to further drama. Suffice it to say that right when things seemed to be getting a little better, they turned around and got a whole lot worse, and I had to cut ties in order to maintain my sanity.

I don’t regret the decision to establish some distance. (Boundaries are a thing I’ve always struggled with, and it’s become very clear that I came by that honestly.) But it hasn’t been easy.

I’ve also recently realized that I’ve been avoiding dealing with how I relate to my body. Dysphoria, for me, has mostly manifested in me being very detached from my body…of course, once I realized this, remaining detached got harder, and now I’m painfully aware of my discomfort with my body.

Starting next month, I’ll be on an insurance plan that will make it a lot easier for me to see a therapist, so that’s my plan at this point, because I have a lot of feelings about family and about my body that I need to process, and my partner shouldn’t have to be the only person in the world to listen to me blather as I try to work through those things.

So that’s where I’m at: seeking balance. Whether I achieve it is still hit or miss, but I think I’m getting there. Thanks for coming along for the ride.


Three Happy Moments

My schedule remains ridiculous, I feel like I’m never going to feel rested again, and life marches on – truly, things are going well, and I have very little to complain about. To stick with that theme, here is a short but sweet list of three particularly happy moments from the past week:

  1. I knit my nephew (who just turned one the beginning of this month) a Yoda hat for Halloween last year. I made it plenty big (both because he has a big head and because I wanted him to get a lot of use out of it), and from what I can see of pictures my sister-in-law puts on Facebook, it’s something he wears a lot, which is excellent. Last Friday, my dad was babysitting and sent me a video of my nephew, wearing the Yoda hat, wandering around out on their back porch and watching his shadow move as he shook his head and made the ears wiggle. It was pretty much the cutest thing ever, and I’m still giggling about it, and also super impressed that a one year old could make the connection that moving his head in a certain way made the shadow move.
  2. On Sunday, my partner and I went over to a friend’s apartment, and that friend gave us fabulous haircuts. I was feeling pretty scruffy and a little gross pre-haircut, but after the haircut (and the shave I gave myself that evening, because hey, that beard is starting to come in more), I’ve actually been feeling pretty okay about myself. It’s been a nice confidence boost, particularly coupled with the new binder.
  3. On Tuesday, before my songwriting class, I was hanging out around the Old Town School and knitting a hat. I got some inquisitive looks from children and adults (dudes knitting is not altogether uncommon, but uncommon enough that it tends to turn heads), but mostly people were walking by without noticing. At one point, two young sisters walked past, slowed down, and the older said to the younger (in that stage whisper of childhood that I’m sure she thought was inaudible to the adult she was referencing), “Do you think he’s better than Grandma?” The younger one answered, “Maybe…” It was all I could do to not bust out laughing.

Sick, Tired, and Uninspired

It’s turning into one of those weeks.

Thanksgiving was lovely. We cooked an impressive amount of food in our tiny kitchen and spent the evening hanging out and stuffing our faces with one of our dear friends. I “worked” from home on Friday (which turned out to be a good call, as I got one solitary help request the entire 8 hours I was signed in…I got a lot of knitting done). It was a pretty low-key, relaxing weekend.

But Monday rolled around, and work has been less-than-great, and we’ve had friends in crisis, and I feel like my body is falling apart, and every day has seemed to drag on for an eternity, and all I want to do is hunker down under some blankets and close my eyes and hide until it all blows over.

So I don’t really know what to write about this week.

I’ve been trying to find some bright spots, and this is what I’ve come up with:

  1. I finished sewing together the sweater I knit for my nephew for Christmas. It turned out very cute, and I really hope it fits him.
  2. My nephew just turned 9 months old. I heard from my sister-in-law earlier this week that she expects him to be independently mobile by the end of the week. She sent me a picture of him smiling ear-to-ear next to a pile of stuff he’d just pulled out of one of his dresser drawers. It’s fun to see him develop his little personality, even if it’s from a distance.
  3. I’ve gotten some really appreciative feedback from various people at work this week, which has been encouraging, especially since our network has been wonky and everyone’s been pretty cranky about technology in general.

Post-Vacation Musings

Vacation was, on the whole, lovely (though I more or less forgot to take pictures, so I can’t show you how lovely it was). Here are some things I’ve been reflecting on when looking back at the weekend:

  1. Driving through Wisconsin in the fall is actually a pretty great things to do. The trees were gorgeous, and there wasn’t as much construction as we’ve run into on some other trips, so it was a pretty relaxing drive. Being a Minnesotan, I tend to poke fun at Wisconsin quite a bit, but this trip made me think that maybe it’s an okay state after all. 😉
  2. I completely adore my nephew. Every time I see this kid I get more excited about being an Uncle Ommer and about knitting him all sorts of cozy things. (The Yoda hat was a smash, and I will shortly be starting a sweater for Christmas and a blanket for his birthday.) I was quite nervous going in, because I know he’s at that age where stranger anxiety is a thing. But though he wasn’t immediately sure of me, he never got upset, and warmed up to me pretty quickly. We were buddies for the handful of minutes I got to hold him, and that makes me unspeakably happy.
  3. While there were some frustrating things surrounding spending time with my family, none of them were so egregious that they couldn’t be outweighed by time with my partner’s family or with friends. We didn’t fit in visits with as many people as we often try to do, but the time we did get with friends felt extra special and left us feeling refreshed. Deep conversations were had, and I was able to vent when I needed to and move on.
  4. I’ve been working meditative time back into my schedule (not quite on a daily basis yet, but close). Making that time on vacation helped me feel much more centered and grounded, and I hope I can continue developing that habit.
  5. I have truly wonderful people in my life. I’m incredibly lucky.

On the Road Again…

It’s road trip time!

When this post goes live, my partner and I should be a little over halfway to Minnesota, where we’ll spend the weekend running around like mad people getting caught up with friends and family as much as we’re able to in the space of three days.

It’s a beautiful time of year for a road trip. I imagine as you’re reading this that we’re enjoying some gorgeous fall colors as we drive through Wisconsin. The weather’s cool enough to wear all the knitted things. Really, this might be my favorite time of year.

I tend to deal with a fair amount of pre-travel anxiety, and this week is no exception. There’s always too much to get done before we leave, and never enough time to do it all. But I know the payoff is always worth it.

I get to see my nephew this weekend. I get to give him his Yoda hat (which I finished Tuesday night, a whole 30 hours before our departure), and see in person just how much bigger he’s gotten since the beginning of August. I know he’s getting to the age where stranger anxiety is a thing, so I’m nervous that he won’t like me. I want us to be buddies.

This trip marks the last time I’ll be renting a car under this name. So that’s exciting.

It’s also the last time I’ll probably make it to Minnesota this calendar year…probably the last trip for quite some time. Starting next month, we want to really cut back on our spending (particularly what we spend going out to eat), and I want to start seriously paying down my credit card debt, so I don’t really know when our next trip will be. I hope I can keep that in mind this weekend and take full advantage of the time we have in our home state.

Hopefully next week I’ll come back with some interesting stories (and maybe even a few pictures)!

Hats! (or, ‘Tis the Season to be Knitting)

I haven’t posted much about it on this blog, but I happen to be a knitter.

My partner is also a knitter (and a knitting designer). Knitting was actually how we met. It’s a really important part of our lives. My partner is a much more dedicated knitter than I am, though. As part of an effort to decrease the amount of yarn we have stashed in our apartment, he’s been tracking how many yards he knits each month, and let me tell you, those numbers are impressive (over 16,000 yards for the year, he tells me). Particularly when compared to what my numbers would be, if I kept track. (I have finished a total of six projects this year. He’s finished at least forty-two. And no, I’m not exaggerating.)

See, I have this problem where I want to knit all the things. So I cast on one thing that I’m excited about, and within days (or hours…), I get excited about something new, and cast that on…which basically means I currently have about ten projects in varying states of completion on different sets of needles scattered about the house. I also knit a lot less in the summer (because we don’t have air conditioning, and it’s hard to get my easily overheated self excited about working with wool when it’s 90°F outside). The last project I finished was a super quick project in July that I finished in under 24 hours. Before that, it was a pair of socks in April. (This problem is not really isolated to just knitting. I have attention span issues with most creative things I pick up. Some of it has to do with Bipolar cycles, but a lot of it is just the fact that I want to do ALL THE THINGS, and I don’t have time to do them all.)

I am an extraordinarily selfish knitter. I can count on one hand the number of people aside from myself that I am willing to knit for. One of those people is my seven-month-old nephew. I decided before he was born that for his first Halloween, I would knit him a Yoda hat. After he was born, someone else brought that idea to my brother and sister-in-law (whose wedding was Star Wars themed), and I promised them it would happen.

Halloween is fast-approaching, and we have a quick trip to Minnesota planned in the next couple of weeks. I decided last Thursday (which is the day of the weekly knit night at our local yarn store, which I have not been going to nearly as often as I’d like) that I needed to get cracking on this hat. So I bought the yarn, cast on at knit night, got about halfway to the crown…and realized that the hat was not only going to be big enough for my nephew (who was easily fitting into 9 month hats at 6 months), but it would be big enough for me. (Possibly for me AND my nephew at the same time.) I ripped it all back and started over.

And then I got distracted. My partner had been worked on this great hat that’s made out of sock yarn, and as I was working on the baby hat, I realized I had the perfect skein of sock yarn for a hat of my own: purple and black stripes, in a fiber blend that I felt was too nice to use for something that would go on my feet, that was part of the boatload of yarn that came into our lives after one of our knitting friends passed away last year. And I got excited about the idea of a stripy hat for myself. So I put down the baby hat, pulled out the sock yarn, and cast on.

The great part about knitting something with stripes is that it’s easy to find motivated to do “one more stripe,” and therefore finish the whole hat. Long story short, I started the hat on Saturday, and finished about 1am this morning. And it looks great:


(I don’t have a picture of me wearing it yet, because the friend I inherited the yarn from had a cat at some point, and I am allergic to cats, and since just working on the project made me very sniffly, I decided to give it a bit of a wash before putting it on my head. It’s drying as I’m writing this; I’ll try to get another picture up later today.)

Thankfully, I have today and tomorrow off from work (hooray, Jewish holidays!), and tonight is knit night, so I’ve got plenty of time to get the Yoda hat for my nephew cranked out. And now that I’ve satisfied my selfish knitting impulse with a nearly-instant gratification project, I’ll be able to focus on the thing that has an actual deadline…right?

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