Just Getting Started - Tony Bennett/"Cheek to Cheek" - Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga

JustGettingStarted"It is hard for us to appreciate the courage of our families when they came over to America (and every American family, save for Native Americans, has 'come over' at some point).  To be from a small town where everyone knows everyone, then leave everything you know and cross an ocean, and then to arrive and try to make new lives in a place where you don't even speak the language, with people from all over the world brushing up against one another - that's truly courage.  That's why my heart is with immigrants we see all over the world today" - Just Getting Started - Tony Bennett

I started reading this book on vacation, three weeks ago, and I'm still reading it.  I've read numerous chapters out loud to my family, but I only read a chapter a day.  I'm trying to stretch out reading it since it's so good!

Each chapter is about a person in his life and what he learned from them - from his parents, to earlier 20th century performers such as Fred Astaire, artists such as Picasso, musicians such as Count Basie, and more recent performers such as Lady Gaga, with whom he recorded a whole album, Cheek to Cheek, in 2014.  He occasionally mentions negative traits, but doesn't dwell on them.  This is the opposite of a "kiss and tell" memoir - it's a celebration of talented people in his life.  

Here are Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga performing Irving Berlin's "Cheek to Cheek" at the 57th Grammy Awards where they won the award for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album.




One of my favorite places

We've rented two different houses in Black Mountain, NC (near Asheville) for vacations.  One of them is one of my favorites of all the vacation houses we've rented.  The view is beautiful, the house is nice, it's not too far out, and it's filled with books.  

This is my favorite room.  It's wonderful to sit here, read, and look at the view.  The're's a lovely cross-breeze when you open the windows.  


The Forgotten Books

Summer BookI could remember what I was reading on vacation because I always put the book(s) in the same place(s).  The ones I was reading I left either on the dresser or on the bedside table.  This isn't the case at home so I end up with books that I forgot I was reading.

This afternoon, I read another chapter of The Summer Book by Tove Jansson (author of the Moomin books).  It's a beautiful book, and I only read a chapter at a time so that I can slowly soak it in.  I started it in July, and put it next to the chair in our bedroom.  

The chair is placed in the bedroom so that we can see the flowers in the backyard.  It's in the space that the bedside table used to be, and there isn't room next to it for a table.  I put the book in the small space between the chair and the wall, and forgot about it.  I notice it every few weeks, sit down and read a chapter, and then forget it again (this afternoon, I took the other book off of it).


I'm finding that Goodreads occasionally reminds me of the books I've forgotten because of the "Currently Reading" list on the home page.  Sometimes I go back to reading them, and other times I just delete them off of the list.  

For instance, I was getting allergy shots last year, and you have to wait for 20 minutes to see if you have a reaction (or longer if you have one, as I often did which is why I eventually stopped).  I had a bag with three books in it that I took to the shots.  When I stopped going, the bag sat in the playroom for a long time until I finally admitted to myself that I wasn't going back and put the books away.  I'll get back to them someday, but I deleted them from the "Currently Reading" list.  

On vacation, I started reading Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore.  It's the sort of book I only read when I'm awake and attentive enough to really appreciate it.  It keeps getting lost since I don't read it every day.  Currently, it's ended up under a pile of really cute t-shirts that all three kids wore.  I'm going to take pictures of the shirts and then give the shirts away.  Maybe then I can get back to the book.




About two weeks ago, I started reading The Song of the Quarkbeast, a fun, Young Adult, fantasy book (the sequel to The Last Dragonslayer).  It's the sort of book I could read at bedtime so I put it on the ledge to remind myself to bring it upstairs.  It's gotten covered by lots of other things.  Someday it will ascend.  

 You would think that I'd remember a book on the end table next to the chair where I usually sit in the living room.  No...


I still have had Listening Below the Noise:  A Meditation on the Practice of Silence on my Currently Reading list.  It's another book that I only read a chapter of occasionally so that it sinks in. Unfortunately, It got buried in the pile.  I still had four or five chapters left to go when it had to go back to the library.  I just rounded up and marked it as read.  I really should own a copy because I'll go back to it over and over.

Some are much older.  I started reading a chapter a day of Inspiration from Pope Francis as a Lenten practice.  I put the book in the desk shelf right next to the computer - and forgot it halfway through the first month.  The chapters are in alphabetical order, and I got as far as "Education."


The worst ones are e-books.  I started reading Nine Goblins by T. Kingfisher (who is really Ursula Vernon, one of my favorite authors and bloggers) back in April.  I put it on both the laptop and dear husband's Nook.  There's absolutely nothing, besides the Goodreads listing, to remind me.  The Nook is on the credenza (to the left of the pile of shirts in the photo above), and its case does not tell me that there's an unread book inside.   Putting a yellow sticky note on it won't help because yellow sticky notes mean "work" so I'd ignore it when I'm ready to read.

The two best places to remind me to read are the eye level shelf on the most accessible bookshelf downstairs.  I usually put current books on the left side on top of the stack.  If other books end up on top of them, however, they descend into oblivion.  

The top of the bedside stack(s) is(are) also best, although I forgot about Damiano for most of the summer because of other books.


I'll often start a new book because I'm not in the right mood for one of the current ones.  I usually have at least a non-fiction or two, a sci fi/fantasy or two, a romance, and a general fiction going at the same time.  I end up being in the middle of ten or more because I forget some of them.  

A happy problem.  

Lent this year

A few weeks before Lent started, I read a comment on a religious discussion board that said that people with allergies and asthma should just endure their reactions to incense (no matter how severe) in order to fulfill their religious duties.  Basically, incense was too important to change its use for a bunch of whiners.*  

Since I have asthma (back under control now, but it was really bad in November & December) and it was the height of seasonal depression, my first reaction was that maybe God just doesn't like asthmatics (& other people who have reactions to incense).

My second reaction was that I needed to stop reading things that made me feel like I couldn't be a Christian.  That's what I should give up for Lent!  

I've never seen the point of New Year's Resolutions - if you want to make a change, make it!  Why wait until New Year's?!  The same with this.  A few weeks before Lent, I gave up reading things that looked like they would make me feel like I couldn't be a Christian.  Basically, this means that before I start reading articles or discussion boards, I pause and really think about the possible results of reading them.  

This was so useful that I'm also doing the same thing with articles & boards that have nothing to do with religion.  Is this article really going to give me any useful new information or is it just rehashing the same arguments?  Does it give a new perspective?  I read far fewer articles now.

The wonderful thing is that I'm reading more books.  

I also decided to try reading more things that actually encourage my faith!  While this seems like a fairly obvious thing to do, I've spent lots of time reading things that other people recommend because they encourage their faith.  I've never tried to focus on thing that will help my faith because that seems like cherry-picking - maybe I'll only focus on the easy stuff.  However, with my bout of not-being-sure-of-what-I-believed a few years ago,** I decided that it would be good to nurture my faith for a while.  I've been listening to Father Phillip's homilies online, and I've been reading Inspiration from Pope Francis.

The thing is, unlike the usual Lenten changes, I don't see a reason to change back when Lent is over.   

*  I tried to go back and find the link, but my internet history doesn't go back that far.  

** During the Nicene Creed, I would mentally add "I would like to believe" at the beginning of every section. 

[The photo is of the mother and baby dolphins that we watched in the harbor in Charleston, SC a month ago.  The photo is only loosely connected to the post (I bought the book about Pope Francis from the Pauline bookstore in Charleston).]

Bookshelves and The Ikea Song by Jonathan Coulton

We have a lot of books.  There are these two bookshelves in the library (there used to be more, but we moved the piano into the library and the bookshelves into the playroom, and we added a CD cabinet):



and these three bookshelves in the playroom:


and these stacks of books on the floor in the playroom.  They're from the last trip to the used bookstore in Mebane - their most recent 4-paperbacks-for-$1 sale:*


 Most of the paperback shelves are double shelved, and the science fiction/fantasy section is triple shelved:


We're thinking of making the wall that the three bookshelves are on into a wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling bookcase - something like what Centsational Girl does in From Billys to Built-Ins, except going all the way to the ceiling.  We looked very seriously at what she built.  She uses Ikea Billy bookcases and then builds around them to make them built-in.  It turned out very well, and she says it only took a weekend and less that $400.  We would want the larger shelves on the bottom for large books - and we could maybe even get our record collection out from the floor of our closet!

However... I've been looking at the room at various times over the last week.  The playroom has two windows on the front of the house.  Compared to most of the other rooms, particularly the living room, it seems like a bit of a black hole.  It's darker than the rest of the downstairs, and it almost seems to absorb light.  


So, I mentioned to dear husband that it would be nice to have a window in that room, and build bookshelves around it.  I've always like the look of built-in bookshelves around a window.  

That would be a lot more expensive, though.  Adding a window actually doesn't cost as much as I expected, but it does add a lot to the price.  The shelves would have to be totally built so we couldn't save by using already made Ikea shelves.

We also talked about putting a garden window in, but that idea quickly disappeared once I found out how expensive they are.  

We're still discussing.

We've passed Ikea stores before - up North and while driving through Charlotte, but we've never been in one (the Charlotte one is two hours away, and we've never had a reason to go there).  However, I do enjoy this Ikea song (to buy, go to his website and page down to the song) by Jonathan Coulton:

 [Note:  If you're the sort of person who clicks on the photos in order to see what books are on the shelves (I am), please leave a comment.**]

* Plus older son has 2 bookshelves and many stacks worth of books in his room, but that's not MY worry!

** If you did look, the book is The Joy of X - it's a MATH book.

2013 End of Year Book Survey: Part 2

[Part 1 here]

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).
Temeraire and Lawrence in Empire of Ivory

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You’ve Read Previously: Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett

Leviathan20. Best Book You Read In 2013 That You Read Based SOLELY on a Recommendation From Somebody Else:  This is a difficult question.  I enjoyed the Bartimaeus books by Jonathan Stroud, which all three of my kids recommended, and I also enjoyed the Leviathan Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld, which they also recommended.  

21. Genre You Read The Most From in 2013?  Interestingly, this is due to the CPAP I had to get used to this year.  I ended up with lots of insomnia from it, and I read Regency romances when I have insomnia.  I find them (overall, but not always) easier to put down after a few chapters.  OTOH, I read Leviathan at bedtime once and stayed up half the night.  

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?

Alexia in Soulless by Gail Carriger.  Here's the beginning of the Publisher's Weekly review:

Carriger debuts brilliantly with a blend of Victorian romance, screwball comedy of manners and alternate history. Prickly, stubborn 25-year-old bluestocking Alexia Tarabotti is patently unmarriageable, and not just because she's large-nosed and swarthy. She's also soulless, an oddity and a secret even in a 19th-century London that mostly accepts and integrates werewolf packs, vampire hives and ghosts...

23. Best debut book you read?
The Night Circus (again)

24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?

The Leviathan Trilogy

25. Book That Was the Most Fun To Read in 2013?

LetsPretendI started reading Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson to myself, and then I went back, started at the beginning, and read it out loud to the guys.  It's hilarious!

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2013?
For Camelot's Honor by Sarah Zettel

27. Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out?

I would like more people to read Skater in a Strange Land by D.W. Frauenfelder.  In my blog review of the book, I described it as:  "... a sort-of-Steampunk novel about a hockey player, a phase-shifting continent, political intrigue bears, and a romance."   As I mentioned in the previous post, I'm not very interested in sports, but this book actually made me interested in the ice hockey games.  

28. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I stopped doing reading challenges last year because I focused more on reading books for the challenge than on reading the books I actually wanted to read at the time.

29. Bookish Events on your blog in 2013?

Going back through the list of books this year, I realized that I didn't blog as much about some of the wonderful books I've read as I would have liked.  With the exhaustion from the CPAP being the major feature of the year, however, blogging took a definite back seat.  [Actually, I just looked back at my book blog posts, and I wrote even fewer of them in 2012.]

30. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2013 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2014?

It won't be my #1 priority because I only read it when I have my full energy and attention so I'm not trying to finish it quickly, but I think I will probably finish Little, Big by John Crowley in the next month.  

31. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2014 (non-debut)? 
I have no idea what is coming out in 2014.

32. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2014?
More blogging.

 Last book note:  Two book activities are special luxuries for me.  One, in the winter, is a hot bath with a good book.  The other, which I do far less frequently, is reading something for fun before noon.  I have the most energy in the morning, but I'm usually using it on many other things.  This year, I was getting allergy shots two mornings a week, and I would have to stay in the allergist's office for half an hour to make sure I wasn't going to have a reaction.  I got a lot of enjoyable reading done those mornings!

2013 End of Year Book Survey: Part 1

I wasn't sure I'd write an end of year book post, but, I've been inspired by Books and Movies (who got this from Avid Reader).

Number of books read in 2013: 143

1. Best Book You Read In 2013? The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (my review here).  It was so good that, when I got 3/4 of the way through, I started over so I could have another experience of reading it without knowing the ending. 

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?  Tongues of Serpents - Naomi Novik (#6 in the Temeraire series).  I've loved all the others in this series (which is sort of Master and Commander with dragons), but this one, which takes place in Australia, didn't strike me as much.  

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013?  I didn't know anything at all about The Night Circus before I read it.  My daughter gave it to me for Christmas last year so I thought it would be good, but I had no idea that I'd love it as much as I do.  

4. Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013? The Night Circus

5. Best series you discovered in 2013?  Bartimaus series by Jonathan Stroud

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2013?  Erin Morgenstern.  I read her blog while waiting for her next book.

7. SummerlandBest book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you? I didn't read any that really fit this.  The closest I came was Summerland by Michael Chambon.  It's fantasy, but it includes baseball, and I'm not a sports person.  Still, I enjoyed it, and baseball was woven in well.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?  Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

9. Book You Read In 2013 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?  Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.  This one's kind of cheating because I read it about once a year.    

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?  Do you know how difficult it has been to NOT answer every question with The Night Circus?  It is now my favorite book.  Ever.  


11. Most memorable character in 2013? Bartimaeus from the Baritmaeus series

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013?  Guess.  It is beautiful. [Clue:  #'s 1, 3, 4, 5, and 10]

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013? Yes.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read?  Twisting the Rope by R.A. MacAvoy.  It's the sequel to one of my favorite books, Tea With the Black Dragon, which I first read many years ago.  I'm not sure why it took my so long to read the sequel.  

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2013?  I don't have the book in front of me, but I love the quote from Good Omens about all tapes left in the car long enough metamorphose into Queen's Greatest Hits.  

LivesofCaptainBluebear16.Shortest and Longest Book You Read In 2013?

Shortest:  Mount Mitchell:  Its Railroad and Toll Road (86 pages)

Longest:  The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear by Walter Moers (704 pages)

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? There were lots of these, but I'll choose the climactic scene in City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte.

I will post the rest tomorrow (hopefully).


"Skater in a Strange Land" - D. W. Frauenfelder

I've never been to a book reading at a bookstore before.  Driving somewhere, sitting in a crowded room, listening to someone read just a small excerpt of their book has never appealed to me.  Why not just sit somewhere peaceful at home and read large parts of the book?!

I understand book readings now.  Tonight, I went to one at the Purple Crow bookstore in Hillsborough (a very short drive).  D. W. Frauenfelder and Lyn Hawks were reading from their new books, and I really enjoyed it!*

Before I went, I hadn't thought about the authors voice-acting their own stories as they read, which was great.  I also enjoyed the introductions, interactions, and questions.  I think it was probably even more interesting because the two discussed their reactions to the other's work.  I'm also fascinated by discussions of the creative process.  What makes someone create something out of nothing?  Where do they get their inspiration?  How do they go about creating?

If you're interested, they're doing two more readings.  Here are the descriptions from his blog, Skater in a Strange Land:

Saturday, September 14, 2 PM, McIntyre's Books, Fearrington Village, Pittsboro, NC. We're doing a tribute to our mentor, brilliant, literary-medalled, late author and creative writing professor Doris Betts. McIntyre's is a great independent bookshop. We will have a couple of surprises for this one.

Sunday, September 15, 2 PM, Fullsteam Brewery, Durham, NC. A laid-back party with games, trivia, munchies, and beer. Come by to say hi and have a pretzel, a craft brew, a signed book. Perfect for your Hallowe'en (?) gift plans.

On to the book(s).  

SkaterLongtime readers of Moomin Light may remember my posts discussing posts on the blog, Breakfast With Pandora, by DF.  He doesn't blog as often as he used to because he's been writing Skater in a Strange Land.  

How to describe it... it's a sort-of-Steampunk novel about a hockey player, a phase-shifting continent, political intrigue bears, and a romance.  

I was absorbed in the book.  The characters are well-drawn, the interactions are vivid, and the plot... well, as you can tell from the description, the plot is complex, but it kept me engaged the whole time.  I really enjoyed the setting, which was a combination of totally alternate fantasy (with the phase-shifting continent), Victorian manners, and 19th century Europe.  

Here's the Amazon description:

24-year old Sherman Reinhardt dreams of playing professional ice hockey, but after a disappointing career at a backwater Minnesota college, he's going nowhere fast. Nowhere, that is, until he becomes the first North American to play in the mythical Borschland Hockey League. Borschland is a place lost in time, where the locals ride in horse-drawn carriages, fly helium-buoyed airships, and go mad for their ice hockey. Making the team here turns into the least of Sherm's worries-- he's an overnight sensation and his team is skating towards a championship. But almost as fast he's hip deep in talking bears, political intrigue, the attractions of Rachael, a Borschic poetess-- and rumors that his hockey success is fixed. Is Sherm being used as a pawn in a grander game? Finding the truth, even if he loses Rachael, becomes this skater's ultimate goal.

A brief word about Lyn Hawks book, How Wendy Redbird Dancing Survived the Dark Ages of Nought, which I haven't read.  She describes it as a young adult novel for adults.  The excerpt she read is well-written, and she really gets into the head and the angst of a 15 yo girl.  Although I haven't experienced what this character has, the angst is painfully familiar.   

Two final compliments for Skater in a Strange Land:

  • Dear husband and I were beta readers about a year ago so, after being absorbed in the story the first time through, I picked it apart the second time through.  Now that I have the published version, I'm looking forward to reading it again! 
  • I don't generally care for spectator sports,** but this book made hockey interesting!

* Even though it was a very crowded room!  If you look at the Purple Crow website, that's the room it was in, and there were probably 30 people in it.  

**   I'm not much at spectating in general.  As much as I love musicals, I spend more time onstage in them than I spend watching them!

Skater in a Strange Land links:

The Power of Guilt

I was at one of my favorite Zumba classes last January, and I was looking at my watch every five minutes.  I wasn't enjoying it at all.  I had noticed this feeling creeping into Zumba classes over the previous few weeks.  Somehow, I had managed to make Zumba into a chore.  

This was not only sad because I love Zumba, but also because it was one of the few non-family things I still enjoyed.  I wasn't enjoying reading.  The only thing I was reading much of anymore were Regency romances - and those only because I need to wind down before going to sleep.  I had stopped listening to classical, jazz, and folk music.  All those CDs and tapes were dormant.  I listened to pop music on the radio just to have something to do while driving.  I didn't listen to any music in the house anymore.  If someone else wanted to watch a movie, I would, but there wasn't much that I was interested in.  

I enjoyed doing things with my family (I'd have to be really severely depressed not to do that), but I had almost no outside interests left.  Photography, blogging, etc. - I had no interest in anything creative.  

I was really upset during that Zumba class because I was losing one of the few things I still enjoyed!  Fortunately, I was able to realize why I was feeling that way, decide that it was stupid, and go ahead and enjoy the rest of the class.

In the middle of that class, I realized that I was feeling guilty about having moderately high blood pressure, and I was, subconsciously (I hope I wouldn't do anything this stupid consciously), punishing myself for my blood pressure.  

I said it was stupid.

Back when my blood pressure was higher, I got guilt trips - not from my doctor because she knew everything that I was doing to try to lower it - and not from the hypertension specialist because, when my blood pressure was measured correctly, it wasn't all that high - but from other doctors and nurses who were incorrectly measuring my blood pressure in bad situations.  You're supposed to measure your blood pressure when you're at rest; not when you're panicking because your throat is closing up as a reaction to an allergy shot, your husband is in another state, and you're wondering what will happen to your younger son if they take you to the emergency room; not when you're really light-headed as a reaction to a flu shot and you're wondering how you and younger son are going to get home; and not at an appointment which you've rushed to immediately after a Zumba class (not even having any time to stretch) and your heart rate is still up.  

Surprisingly, I'm not at rest in those situations.  The hypertension specialist doesn't even pay attention to readings from other doctors' offices because she can't be sure that the other doctors take blood pressure readings correctly.  The only readings that matter are the ones in her office.  

These other readings didn't do me any good, and the doctors and nurses only did harm. Unfortunately for me, other peoples' emotions affect me a lot.  If you know me in person you might say to yourself, "But she seems so calm."  


I try my hardest not to impose my emotions on others.  I know how much harm comes to me when others spray their emotions all over me.  

[Note: If you have any good practical advice as to how not to be affected by others' emotions, I'd love to hear it.  "Just toughen up" is not good advice.  If I knew how to do that, I wouldn't have this problem.] 

The other doctors and nurses didn't do me any good at all, but they did a great job at making me feel guilty for having moderately high blood pressure.  All the "serious talks" that they gave me just kicked the guilt into high gear.  None of them ever asked what I was actually trying to do to get my blood pressure down:

  • Two knee surgeries plus half a year of intense physical therapy so that I could exercise regularly again.  I did 2 - 3 hours of physical therapy every single day.  I watched most of Battlestar Galactiac sideways because I was doing PT on the floor.
  • Four crash diets (I spent last Thanksgiving saying, "No, thank you.")
  • Lots and lots of exercising.  That's one of the few things that actually helped.  
  • Stopping using salt in cooking.  After a few weeks, the guys weren't eating much for dinner, but they were having snacks later in the evening.  I eventually got the hypertension specialist's book out of the library, and the amount of salt she used in her heart-healthy recipes was  the amount I usually used before I stopped using it.  I'm still making smaller reductions now, but keeping the food edible.
  • Drugs.  One of them knocked me out for a month and raised my blood pressure to a consistent 175/100.  Nobody's been able to explain that one, which makes me wonder about how much they know.  All three of the drugs made my throat close up.  All of them gave me bizarre side-effects.
  • Visiting a throat specialist to see why my throat closed up - no results.  He sent me to a specialist in chemical allergies.
  • The chemical allergy specialist (regular allergists don't deal with drug allergies) was really enthusiastic about my strange case.  I actually took the last drug in his office, and he was amazed at the bizarre side effects.  Fifteen minutes after a 1/10 dose, I seemed drunk and couldn't sit up.  He told me that no doctor would  be able to accept that I have such bizarre reactions to drugs without actually seeing it.
  • That's when my regular doctor sent me to the hypertension specialist who said that she'd never seen a case like mine (allergic to 3 bp drugs)  
  • The hypertension specialist sent me to an integrative medicine specialist.  Unfortunately, the IM doctor was a crackpot so I never went back.  There's a long post about that that I never wrote.
  • The IM office does have a great yoga class (for people with previous injuries)* that a friend recommended.  That's another thing that gave an observable reduction in my bp.
  • The sleep study.  It turned out that I had severe sleep apnea when sleeping on my back.  I've been using a CPAP for the last five months, and it's brought my blood pressure down.  However, as I've complained in previous posts, it also made me exhausted for most of the first four months.  For the first two months, I couldn't drive in the afternoons or evenings because I was too tired to drive safely.  I didn't do any dance or Zumba in the evenings, and I was so tired that even walks were almost impossible.  I got so out of shape.  However, getting rid of the sleep apnea did bring my blood pressure down.  

It didn't matter that fighting my blood pressure had become not only my major focus over the last five years, it also dominated our family life.  The doctors and nurses still gave me guilt trips, which I didn't need on top of everything else.  It gave me the feeling that my not being successful gave them the right to emotionally beat me up.  It also made me feel constantly tense, which, SURPRISE, makes blood pressure go up. 

That's one way in which my discipline in not showing my emotions is bad for me.**  If I discussed blood pressure calmly with a medical professional, they thought that I wasn't taking it seriously, and they gave me a big guilt lecture.  Maybe I should have made myself panic so that they would have had to calm me down instead.

I can't even picture doing that.  

Anyway, I had stopped myself from enjoying more than just Zumba.  Because of the guilt, I wasn't enjoying music, reading, movies, blogging, photography - pretty much anything creative.  I'd made my life pretty flat and grey in response to the guilt.  

The wonderful thing is that, once I realized that I had turned these things off, I was able to start turning them on again.  I was too tired to enjoy things while I was getting used to the CPAP this spring and early summer, but, beside that, I've started enjoying all these things again!  It's been wonderful.  There are so many intersting things to photograph, so many wonderful books (recent post), great movies (just added a bunch to the Netflix queue), so many interesting places to go, a wide variety of food to try at Sunday's Food Truck Rodeo in Durham...

...and so much beautiful music!

Which, of course, is where I'm ending - with a song.  

I've loved folk music for years, and losing that the last year or two has been really difficult for me. I've been listening to lots of it lately.  Here's a current favorite song, Brighter from Here, by the folk duo, Martha's Trouble:


*  I can do just about everything else after my second knee surgery - hiking, Zumba, dance, etc. - (Duke Sports Medicine is fantastic!), but I still can't sit cross-legged for more than a minute or two which knocks out most yoga classes.  

** I've also read that women who don't display their own emotions and try to take care of everyone else's are more likely to have high blood pressure.