Tuesday, December 31, 2013

And don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.....

Goodbye, 2013.

You were a shitty year, and I am glad to see you go.

When you leave, you will take with you the last time my family was whole.  You will take my illusions that certain things matter.  You will drag behind your bedraggled ass my innocence, my ability to blame things on an earlier generation, and my desire to be something else.

So tonight as I spread out the Tarot cards to see just what I was supposed to learn from this fucked up experiment called 2013, I am not going to miss you.  I will not mourn your passing.

You are a bitter old bitch.  I can't wait until you are gone.

Monday, November 11, 2013

It's been a long time since I have blogged.  Life has strewn me thin and thinner in places and much has happened.
Much of this blog has been discussion of my struggles with life, whether it be my depression, my physical health, or whatever.  And some of it has been my struggles with expectations of those around me and involved in my life.  Life has tried very hard to teach me not to have expectations of others.  That way, when someone else does the right, responsible or ethical thing, I can be pleasantly surprised on those rare occasions, rather than being in a dull state of disappointment continuously.  Often I forget this lesson and then feel devastated by life, et al, all over again.
In the past year, I have watched cancer take my mother's life.  I felt helpless as I continued to beat my head against the work post, giving too much of my life and energy to maintain status quos.  For this reason, I lost many opportunities to work out lifelong issues and spend time with mother before she died.  Sure, she lived in my house, and my husband stayed with her so she was never alone, but I owed her more than that.  I owed her myself.  And I failed.
In the past 10 years I have spent an astronomical amount of time trying to be a wife and mother.  Because my husband has never been much of a provider, and for 8 of those years has made little or no contribution to the family financial situation, I have been forced to work a great deal harder than the typical wife and mother. This has added even more stress to my life.  And I am not graceful under pressure.  So my home life has been less than idyllic.  All I can say for sure is that I have loved my children fiercely, and sacrificed whatever was necessary to take care of them.  My health.  My happiness.  My own interests.  My friendships.  My sanity.  My time.
All the same, I did the best I could.  I was not always able to spend as much money on them as I wanted to.  I was never able to spend the time I wanted to with them.  Since marrying my husband, I have often had to take his part of responsibilities in addition to my own.  My older daughter resents the last 10 years, when I stopped being a single parent and started doing something besides working and then coming straight home and focusing only on her.  So now she has told me that she has not been happy since she has had to share my focus and is moving out as soon as she legally can.  This happens to be the day after tomorrow.
So back to expectations.  I expected that if I sacrificed whatever I could, I would be the recipient of gratitude, not resentment.
So when I look back on my life, it's not real impressive.  It's full of dull aches, unrequited caring and compassion.  I am a warrior with fatigue that permeates ever part of my being, My health, emotion, physical, mental, spiritual, is teetering.
So now, having lost a mother, I am now losing a child.  Life has decided to do this to me in the space of 7 months.  I fear for my younger daughter, who is feeling abandoned.  My husband spends his time on the couch, watching football and sitcoms, and playing on his computer or iPad.  No job, no job prospects.  No financial support.  And is apparently incapable of providing emotional support, focusing long enough to have a conversation.  More expectations on my part, I suppose.
I feel that I am living in a nightmare.  This weekend I spend two days attending the estate auction of my grandmother, who died 4 years ago.  I keep waking up and wanting to call my mother and talk to her, cry to her, and be heard by her.  Only she was the one who could understand me.  Only she was with me from the beginning of my life.  Then my firstborn hates me, denies the 18 years I have spent taking care of her, and leaves me as well.  Meanwhile, the dead weight of my husband doesn't budge, seems blissfully unaware that anything is going on at all, and is only impacted by running out of cigarettes or me asking him to do anything other than lie on the couch.
I worry.  I worry about what is going to happen to my youngest when I finally work myself into a state where I can no longer take care of her.  I worry what will happen to her if I am not able to fully function as both sole responsible parent and sole breadwinner until she is fully an adult and can take care of herself.

In regards to the Bukowski quote above, I know my original dream was to become a fusion of mind and soul, spiritually attuned while being grounded and stable.  However, lately I have felt like a soul who has lost her mind, and definitely her moorings.  Insanity does not feel good.  If I could choose to change my course - and I will fight like hell to do so - I regain my mind, and intellectualize my life.  I feel most comfortable with this.  It's as if the emotional shock has caused a gigantic regression in all my Aspergian traits and I need to disengage.  Problem is, I don't have the strength to do so, unless forced to do so.  I am scared of what is going to rip off that band-aid.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Updates on my life...

I dropped off the blogisphere after my attempt at the topic du jour exercise, and I do have the desire to drop back in.

At this point in my life I need a distraction from the stress and overwhelming, oppressive responsibilities in my life.

Yet I don't want blogging to be yet another responsibility, another "have to" in a long, long list of have-tos....

Yesterday I spoke with my mother's home health nurse.  She suggested that we look into Hospice at this time for my mother.  In the back of my mind, ever since I learned of her diagnosis last June, I have known this is a possibility.  I knew that people get cancer, that cancer can be fatal.  I knew that mother had this thing called cancer.  But I consciously fought against making that connection.

The home health nurse stated that people who get discharged from home health and into Hospice sometimes do get better and get discharged out of Hospice and back into home health.  The thing is, I don't consider home health to be for the healthy.  So Hospice, to my mind, are the people who are even farther removed from health.  She said she had this conversation with my mother two days ago.  My mother has not brought it up in conversation with me.  Of course, we don't have too many long conversations as she usually falls asleep when she is talking to me.  Staying awake is not her strong suit since she is now taking Percocet and morphine.  So I have no idea what to do or where to go from here except into the dark night with her.  And hope one of us keeps from losing her mind to guide the other.

In the midst of all this, life goes on.  Work demands more than ever.  If 12-14 hours was the accepted minimum, it is demanding 16-18 hours now.  I just don't have it anymore.  So I rush and I delegate more than I ever have, then I stress about what I delegate, so I stay awake worrying away and not sleeping the hours that I am not there.

My oldest is getting ready to go to her first prom this year.  She has fanagled  going to a prom as a sophomore, and she - with typical self-centeredness and lack of concern for others that marks all humans her age - is characteristically hateful and cutting whenever she does not get her way.  She wants the last money for the family's groceries to be spent on her nail polish.  When she decides she doesn't like that $8 nail polish after all, she wants fake nails bought for her.  Then she breezes in and has a meltdown because I won't give her my only decent make-up.  Then I have to keep an open ear, because whenever she is denied her way, she turns around and says something cutting and cruel to her little sister, passing on the misery.

My youngest reels from being a victim of her sister's hormonal maelstrom to watching her beloved grandmother sink farther and farther away from her to spending less and less time with me as I try to support the household financially single-handedly, show her the love kids need to grow up at least somewhat functional, and make sure she has clean clothes that match somewhat (her father is color-blind).  It is a testament to her strong personality that she takes each day as it comes, expresses her emotions clearly and appropriately, and keeps her spirits up.  I want to be like her when I grow up.

So pardon me while I regroup.  My posts, I hope, won't always be dark.  I will try to keep managing my depression while pretending to be Super-Boss, Super-Mom, and the part of Supportive Daughter.

And in the back of my mind, I will dream of the day I will be a real writer.

If I live through this.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Nano Lexington Write In

Prompt: "A meal at an unusual time."

Snowflakes blew in to dot her eyelashes and make the white world even harder to navigate.  She looked down at her reddened knuckles, blooming in the pale of her cracked hands.  She winced as the bitter cold bit through her wraps, blustering under her coats as she bent down to pick up each piece of gnarled wood.

The woolen scarf rubbed not unpleasantly against her mouth as she breathed frozen crystals into its nap.   She inhaled, exhaled, thinking only of completing this task of gathering wood so she could go back into the small house and bank, once again, the guttering flame of the woodstove.

Finally, her arms could hold no more.  She trudged the last mile back to the dark blot on the landscape, the rough-hewn cabin built so many years ago by an anonymous antisocial, graying now in the twilight.  She shook her head again, shrugged the snow from her shoulders.  She hated how this whiteout world made the division of day and evening hard to discern.  Today of all days, she would have liked a few more moments of daylight.  But like so many things, it was not to be.

At the threshold, she yet lingered.  Desiring to get out of the stark frozen outdoors, yet not ready to face the truth of what lay inside waiting for her.  Summoning her courage, a mystical idea that she had been assured of by her foremothers, she pushed through the heavy oak door.

Once inside, she dropped the sticks in the coal box, long empty of the black ore, and half-fell backwards, closing the door behind her and collapsing against it, eyes closed before she looked through   damp lashes into the dim oil lamps that half-illuminated the cabin.  She inhaled slowly, steeling herself for the evening before her.

The stove was giving off a low heat, and she opened the iron door to insert only the driest of the twigs into the dancing flame.  Groaning, she straightened up and rubbed the small of her back with her splitting hands.  Living out among the wild had aged her past her thirty years.  Days, hell, nights like this brought this fact into sharp relief.  Again she shook this thought off and walked to the water basin.  Laid out next to it were the last of her root vegetables from the cellar.  This surprise spring blizzard postponed her setting out the seedling she had sown in the past six weeks.  She knew the wait for harvest of any sustenance would be delayed further into the summer as a result.  If there even was a summer.  Tonight she was not certain of anything.

No matter, she thought.  It won't change what I have to do tonight.  She sunk the knife deep into the flesh of a shriveled carrot, a dessicated onion, a darkened potato.  All she scraped into the warming pot on the wood stove.  Having dispensed with the rote mundane chopping, she sighed.  Her shoulders sagged as she willed herself to have resolve and move forward.  She moved towards the dark back entry of the cabin and stretched out her hand, feeling her way by memory in the dark.  She walked slowly forward leading with her hands, fingertips outstretched, until she encountered the smooth worn wood of the axe handle.

Even now, in the semidarkness of her home, she hesitated.  If there was any other way, she would choose differently.  She closed her eyes, shutting out the vision of choices she could have made years before.  She could not go back.

She hefted the axe and moved back into the lamplight.  In the next room she could hear her daughter, mewing like a weak kitten, waking up from a hunger-fueled nightmare.  No doubt she was reliving some version of what had happened the day before.

Two days earlier, the small creek by the cabin was roaring.  Spring had flirted with their hopes, melting the snow and coaxing green shoots of daffodils and wild onion from muddy ground.  Her daughter had laughed, jumped and run, despite having spent most of winter sick with cold, flus, pneumonia even.  She had smiled to see the child so happy, even while warning her not to overdo, not to go too far from the house, to stay in sight in case she had trouble breathing again.  She herself sat in the watery sunlight, allowing herself to lean briefly against the bark of a tree that had been there as long as her family.  She closed her eyes, lulled into thinking that they may just make it, they just may survive.  The weather would grown warmer.  She would plant again.  And the rest of her family would return.

She must have fallen asleep, as the cold, settling into her legs, awakened her.   She listened for her daughter's laughter, her voice, and heard nothing.  Startled, she sprang up, almost tripping by the uselessness of her numb limbs.  She called her daughter's name, again and again, and heard nothing.  She raced through the woods, the skeletal trees mocking her as she looked frantically for the child.

Out of breath, she stopped, leaning forward and trying not to be sick around the sinking stone in her stomach.  As she gasped, she heard a small rustle.  She rushed in the direction of the sound, adrenaline both propelling and sickening her.

At a small clearing she stopped.  Her daughter lay on the ground, bleeding from a gash in her leg.  As the crimson flowed, a creature stood above the child, lowering its gaping maw to feed from her wound.

The woman went cold.  Her own blood thundered in her ears as she grasped a jagged rock at her feet and leapt towards the creature, her makeshift weapon making contact with the side of the creature's head.  The creature went limp and the rock came crashing down again and again until there was no more movement.

At this her daughter began crying in a slight wheeze.  The child's body was wracked with each breath.  The woman went to her daughter, keeping the creature in her peripherial vision as she tore her own shirt and bandaged her daughter's wound, which was turning black and charred where the creature's saliva had touched it.  Pulling on her daughter's arm, she coaxed her to stand and carried her back to the house.  Once in her own bed, the child began to cry and clutch her abdomen.  Neither had eaten in days.

The mother tucked her child in and told her to stay in bed.  She made her way back to the woods where the creature's gray form lay in the gathering twilight.  She bound the creature's limbs with strips of cloth torn from what remained of her shirt.  And she began dragging the creature through the woods and back to the shed behind the cabin.

Once in the dark shed, she felt for a stub of candle her father had left there.  She lit a match from a book and pulled the chains from the eaves.  Once in a more prosperous time, her family had hung venison and other game from these chains.  She wiped away frightened tears as she thought about the being she was about to chain.  What would her father say if he could see what wild game she had captured?  What would he say if he could see how far she had fallen, how desperate she had become?

She turned back to the creature and choked back the bile that filled her throat.  Swallowing her disgust, she reached and grabbed two limbs, manacled them with hooks and links, and then pulled the chains taut.  The creature's gray countenance winced and then went still.  She located the rope and tied the lower limbs tightly together too.  A small voice in her head, not unlike her mother's, whispered not to make the knots so tight that it cut off circulation.  She almost laughed, scorned this voice.  Circulation?  Do these creatures have circulation?  No, she could not care.  She could not feel.  This was survival.

Then why did she have no stomach for it?  She turned abruptly and made her way to the cabin.

In the dark, holding the axe, she cannot bear hearing her child cry for hunger any longer.  It was time.

She lifted the axe and walked outside to the shed.  She could see the silhouette of the creature in the moonlight reflected from the snow.  She almost faltered, then she thought of her child's charred limb, the angry slash of crimson gaping even now.  She lit the candle, and the creature's countenance, came into view.  She stepped forward, not thinking of mercy or forgiveness.  She had to do this.  It was time.

The creature turned its face to the mother.  Its eyes sought her eyes.  A single tear trickled from the wrinkled eyelid.

The woman shut her eyes.  And brought the axe down.  It was time.

(c) 2013 Terre Brothers Johnson, short story from writing prompt.  Rough draft.  No edit.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Life, it's how it goes

Well, the blog has been on hiatus since last Wednesday, when I worked a record 23 hours.  Since then I have just been trying to get caught back up in breathing, eating, and sleeping, and of course, working at least 12 hour days, so I've once again had to put writing on the back burner.

My solution is try to play catch up at some point this week.  As I am still behind in most things, I can't make any promises of when this will happen.

Most of my life is me trying to complete tasks that are imposed on me from without - so I don't want to approach this in the same way.  I want writing to be something that I do unencumbered, not something I cram between babysitting people who don't want to meet their own obligations.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

TdJ: My children's health.....

I am so glad that this topic falls on a day that both girls are relatively healthy.  Hopefully this will limit the kvetch to a tolerable level.

At the moment my daughters are in a weird position.  The older daughter's father has been court-ordered for 15 years to provide health insurance for her.  He started doing this about 18 months ago.  So she actually has health insurance.

My younger daughter has only me, and since my 60-100 hour per week job does not provide health insurance she goes without.  Unfortunately, she is the much more sickly of the two.

My oldest daughter has no allergies, has had two or three stomach bugs and one ear infection in her entire 17 year life.

My younger daughter is only 7, but has had 20+ ear infections, 100s of stomach bugs, and has had to have two teeth pulled, when she had a severe allergic reaction to the anesthesia.  She's also allergic to 2/3 of the antibiotics that have been prescribed to her.

I've done everything I can - short of being able to afford to provide actual health insurance - to ensure their health.  I breastfed the oldest for 2 years, the youngest for over 3 years.  Neither child ever had to drink formula, and neither was started on solid food before 4 to 6 months.  I tried to feed them healthy food, and they did well until others started giving them starches, grease and junk food.  At some point I got too busy to fight all the bad influences, and so their diets aren't the best, but as long as  I am cooking, their diets are at least better than average.  At some point, I realized that genetics must play into it, and since I was fairly healthy as a kid, all their problems are probably the fault of their fathers.

Yeah, I like that theory.

This is something I am concerned about.  Since I am so limited in what I can do for them, I live in fear that they will get sick or hurt and I won't have any way to help them.  I guess this the fear of most parents, but in this household, one severe illness could mean homelessness for us.  We can do less than most people can do to prevent it, so I probably drive my daughters crazy with my herbal/nutritional/energy work/alternative medicine approaches.  They are all I have.

Yes, indeed, my daughters are all I have.

Monday, February 4, 2013

TdJ: Stress

Stress is one of those things that has been suffocating me lately.  Work.  Home. Finances.  My mother's health.  My health.  It's all been a bit overwhelming.

There is no cure for stress.

And I can see clearly the physical effects of stress on my body.  And my mind.

My cognitive levels are definitely affected by it.  I feel like about 100 people are demanding things of me hundreds of times a day, and I can't get anything done for the constant interruptions.

Tonight I actually came up with the idea of making a request form that each person at work who is demanding something of me has to complete.  That way I could track all the demands and they could see what priority their demands really are.

The bottom line is I am doing lots of things others can do for themselves.
And I am resenting them and myself for it.

So it is time to stop.

I mean, really.

I am so stressed that even writing this little piece on stress is too much.

So good night.  Sleeping will help my stress.  

Sunday, February 3, 2013

TdJ: Spirit

Another loving coincidence from the Universe:  today's topic.

For the past few days I have been trying to cultivate a morning routine of reading a chapter from Jacob Glass' "The Crabby Angels Chronicles" and the day's selection from Mark Nepo's "The Book of Awakening."  I love both of them, and consider them very spiritual beings who also just happen to be able to write, so this is a joy.

For the past two weeks I have been trying to steal time from work and housework and meeting every need of the people who live in my house to read Jean Houston's "The Passion of Isis and Osiris."  NOT light reading.  Great reading, but not light.  Not the kind of book that lends itself to being interrupted over 5 times every page.  (Which is saying something, because I have been known to devour a 300 page tome in less than 2 hours back when I could do something uninterrupted.)  So, needless to say, I haven't gotten very far in it.  However, I was able to read TWO ENTIRE PAGES this morning when I was using the bathroom, had the bathroom door locked, and the natives were asleep.

So today, this is what I gleaned from Jean Houston.
We have been isolated from myth and stories that help us make sense of our lives by industrialization.  I would go out on a limb and say that technology also does this.  Like the David Foster Wallace quote that I posted yesterday, we are alone.   We can't know what others are thinking.  However, myths used to serve as a bridge.  Unfortunately each generation is farther and farther away from being taught those myths.  They shouldn't be "taught;" they should be known.  My own children don't even know fairy tales.  They are unheard of at their schools, but everyone knows about Captain Underpants.  (Not to put down Captain Underpants, whatever gets them reading).
With this loss of story/myth that used to a be a common thread weaving us together in our lives, psyches and morals and ethics, at large in our communities, there is a disconnect.  We want to believe in something bigger, more substantial, and more permanent than ourselves.  It just isn't readily available in our culture.

And from what I see, lots of people are filling that void with religion.

This is not, in and of itself, a bad thing.

However, from what I have seen, this has served to divide rather than unite.  Many religionists are very sect-like in their approach.  I am learning that Christians and Muslims alike are very judgmental and convinced that their narrow view of their faith is The One True Path.  So we get suicide bombers. Holy wars, and constant bickering.  Not what the founders of their religions had in mind at all.  I do not claim to be a Christian, and I don't even know enough to formulate a sentence on Islam, but I can tell you, I bet today's extremists have missed the boat.

So what is my version?  It's mine.  It's not yours.  I do not want you to adopt it or convert to it.  I KNOW it is not The One True Path.
So I am not "praying" that you will convert to my beliefs.
I am not "praying" to "save your soul."
I am not going to argue with you or shove my beliefs down your throat.
I am not that sanctimonious or narcissistic to pull that shit.

I believe Jesus had it right when he said "Love One Another."  And when he could ask God to forgive those who crucified him, I believe he was acting as he spoke.  This is the standard by which I measure all things.  

I believe Buddha had it right when he said, "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who has said it, not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense."  I also believe the Buddha had it right when he purported that all life is suffering, that suffering comes from desire, that there can be an end to desire, and the eight-fold path (Right view, Right intention, Right speech, Right action, Right livelihood, Right effort, Right mindfulness, Right concentration) leads to the end of desire.

I believe Nietzsche was right when he said, "One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star."

I believe Henry Miller was right when he said, "The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware."

I believe Walt Whitman was right when he said:

“This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.”

Finally, I will close with a story from Jacob Glass and "The Crabby Angels Chronicles:"

Our dear Brother Jacob discovered this some time ago as he struggled to see the innocence in others.  As he tried valiantly to follow Jesus' entreaty to love others, he grew to resent them more than ever.  As with most of you, he thought it would be easier to love others if they would simply be more lovable.  On the sidewalks of Los Angeles he would try to practice love by mentally greeting each person wit h an inner "Namaste" - trying to see the Christ and Buddha in everyone.  Instead of bringing peace, it simply amplified his own feelings of guilt over the endless judgements that arose from within him as he failed over and over again.  
It was his concept of "love" which got in the way.  We encouraged him to simply silently greet each person with "Fuck you my brother - fuck you my sister" instead.  Immediately, a lightness came over him as he began to laugh at his own ego thoughts and in that moment he felt his one-ness with every person who he saw and his heart opened wide.  Infinite love is not about the words or your concepts of what "spiritual" looks like - it is an experience.  

"You can indeed afford to laugh at fear thoughts, remembering that God goes with you wherever you go." - A Course in Miracles

Finally, if after reading this, you are angered, I am sorry.  Please go pray, and don't tell me about it.  

If after reading this, you feel sorry for me because I am not a member of your church or of your faith, and you want to tell me about it, don't.  

If you want to pray for me, pray instead for yourself that your heart and mind be truly opened to accepting your fellow humans.  

And if you don't want to pray for that, feel free to pray for anything listed below (maybe you can turn it into a Prayer du Jour exercise!):

1.  True Peace
2. End to "Holy Wars"
3. Clean, non-engineered food and water for all humans
4. Cure for Cancer
5. Guidance
6. End to Addictions
7. That No Child EVER Go Hungry
8. That No Child EVER Be Killed
9. End to Judgment
10. End to Hatred


Saturday, February 2, 2013

DFW quote on aloneness and the function of writing

"We're existentially alone on the planet.  I can't know what you're thinking and feeling and you can't know what I'm thinking and feeling.  And the very best works construct a bridge across that abyss of human loneliness." 
- David Foster Wallace

TdJ: Wanting to Escape or Kvetchy Tune But I Can't Dance to It

If I didn't know better - and I do, so I know it is true - I  would think I was a broken record.  I AM a broken record.  The song is called, "My Life Sucks and I Want Out."

So instead of playing the broken record.... Since it is a Saturday, and I had planned to try to take a day off from the demands of others, I want to explore instead ways I CAN escape, if only for a moment.

Cooking.  Last night I made couscous with saffron and chives, vegetables in a garlic butter sauce and tofu Korma.  Chloe was out with friends, but Tim acted like I had fed him dog shit.  He shoved the food around on his plate, and before even sitting down to take the first bite, said, "I'm not going to eat that shit."  Never mind that I had to clean the kitchen before I even started cooking (and I have not cooked since last Sunday, so none of it was my mess).  Never mind that I had worked 13 hours yesterday alone (I know, it was a short day for me).  Never mind that I am the only one who has been buying the food for the household since 2010. Never mind he hadn't even tasted yet.  Never mind that he could have gone down around the corner to the men's homeless shelter to eat if he doesn't like what I serve.

The thing that really bothered me is that I let him take away the enjoyment I had in cooking a healthy, balanced meal.  Not too many of these get cooked in my house unless I am the one doing it.  And I really do love to cook.  I just let him take me from a small moment of enjoyment in my long, shitty day of working to support him and my children, and make me bitter and hateful and miserable.  And then I let his actions make me sit there and try to choke down my healthy food past a lump of hate in my throat.

I know that alcoholics are incapable of feeling gratitude and that asking an alcoholic for love/support/acceptance is like going to the hardware store for a loaf of bread.  I know that expecting - even for a second - that an alcoholic could meet any emotional need I have is setting myself up for disappointment and failure.  YET I still let it make me angry.

In this situation, I let him short-circuit my escape.  It's almost as if my greatest need can be answered by an emotion-Tardis (for all you Dr Who fans out there), and he - and others - keep fucking with the wiring and software.

I mistakenly thought that someone would have gratitude that after 13 hours of working to support everyone, an hour of cleaning up after everyone and cooking, that I was making them dinner.  My grave error.  My fault for having an expectation for gratitude, or at least acceptance  (and quiet).  

Another escape I love is reading.  I don't get to do it near enough.  When all my other responsibilities at work, home and with the kids are done, there is nothing left of my energy to do it.  I am going to try to read a book that I have not gotten past the introduction for two weeks because of work.

Interruptions also keep me from my escape of reading.  I get interrupted to be asked to perform repugnant tasks, answer work calls, answer other calls, fork over money for cigarettes for the alcoholic/canned dog food for the dog/social life (movies, dinner with friends, etc.) for the 17 year old/school events for the 7 year old/reminders that my bills are all due and shut off of utilities from my mother (who cannot fathom why I can't take care of a household of 5, work 65-90 hours a week, and financially support it all on a salary that comes out to minimum wage when you do the math), or look at something on facebook with a laptop thrust in my face.

I have been able to afford 2 massages in the last 10 years.  But I love it.  It really helps the fibromyalgia, and if I could get massage regularly I think I would feel better.

Al-Anon meetings.
I try to get to as many as I can.  It's hard, because they are at 6:30PM on weeknights and usually I am still going strong at work at 6:30PM, especially if I started work any later than 4AM.  (My days are scheduled where I try to do paperwork, emails and scheduling between 4AM and 7AM, take calls and work in office or in the 10 counties our company spans now from 7AM to 7PM, and then do emails and paperwork from 7PM to 10PM or 12AM.)
Sometimes I feel like I am dragging a 1000 pound ball and chain with me up those stairs and then trying to saw through the chain for a hour in the meeting.  Sometimes a few links fall off, but the weight is never entirely gone.  It is lighter for a little while - sometimes hours, sometimes just a few minutes, depending on what text messages, emails and phone calls my phone has received during that hour while I was trying to escape.  Most of them include a chastisement or haranguing for not being immediately available when the caller or inquirer contacted me.

It's funny how everyone thinks every desire they have is a royal emergency.  It's also funny that most of their desires are simply desires to not do what they should or what is their responsibility to do.

Many days I feel like I am surrounded by people who are simply looking to dump their tasks on me, and that my main task is to say, "Grow up and take responsibility for yourself.  It IS your job to do your job, or to get a job, and support yourself."

Simply mystifying for a person like me with an overdeveloped sense of responsibility.

Which is why I want to escape.  Which is what I want to escape from.

I can escape.  Just for a moment.  If I want the moments to be longer, I let others wait.  I don't let their opinions uproot what I know to be true.  I don't even give a moment's attention to stupid comments like I heard last night: "Junk food is a matter of opinion."   I know in my common-sense, non-alcoholic heart and brain that junk food like snacks and fast food or greasy empty carbs are not a matter or opinion, it's just what the alcoholic wants to eat.  I don't worry about other's desires - they are CERTAINLY not concerned ONE IOTA with my mine.  I let other people take care of themselves.  There are resources out there for them.

Don't like what I have to offer?  Go elsewhere.

And then, and only then, will I have time to breathe and take care of myself.

Nothing remains as it was.

“I give you this to take with you:
Nothing remains as it was.   If you know this, you can
begin again, with pure joy in the uprooting.” 
― Judith Minty

Friday, February 1, 2013

TdJ: Physical Pain

The beauty of the Topic du Jour technique is that there are only thirty topics.  So on months, like the last one, that have thirty-one days, the reader is spared the evil kvetch for a day.  Alas, February is only 28 days, so the reader gets no such reprieve.  However, it will spare the evil of the last two topics, so maybe....

Hmmm, physical pain.  I've already said so much about this, it seems redundant to go further.

I am no stranger to physical pain.  I have at least two chronic diagnoses that over 90% of other people I have met are on complete disability for.  I always get the reaction, "How can you work?"  from these people when I admit that I too share their disease.  In all actuality, it never ended my mind that I can't work.  In the early 1970s, I remember seeing a comical paperback book title: "It's Been Down So Long It Looks Like Its Up To Me."  I have no idea where I even saw that book.  But I do know that almost 40 years later, that phrase sticks in my mind.  (I don't even know what the book was about.  I didn't read it.  I sight-read signs and the spines of books when I was three and four as my  bored English teacher mother was on bed-rest with her pregnancy with my sister and taught me to read as a lark. Hence, I read alot of things I did not really delve into further.)  That phrase kind of sums up what life is like in my nuclear family.  If I don't do it, it doesn't get done.  Occasionally it gets done, but grudgingly and haphazardly.

So, while I would like to give into the physical pain, or give myself a break at times, I am too much of a worrier and control freak and not willing to be homeless or live in utter filth.  Which, without my efforts, no one else is really invested in preventing.  I am aware of this.  I have no choice but to accept it.  As a result, I work through the pain.

The ripple effects from this are bitterness (Hello?  You have read this blog?) and exhausting (ditto) and increased pain.  I have aged 25 to 30 years in the last 10 years.  And basically little concern for my own self-care.  Simply put, I am too exhausted/bitter to do the things I know I need to do to take care of myself.  If no one care enough to help me, why should I bother?  And of course, on any given day, I have at least 50 other people demanding my attention, diverting it from any type of need I personally may have.

Compassion fatigue coupled with physical pain.  Wow, I may have found the cure for codependency.

Or not.

(image from http://talking2mymoon.wordpress.com/

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

TdJ: Travel

For someone who has never been anywhere, I am obsessed with travel.  I often fantasize that "some day" I will have a chance to go where I want to go and the list goes on and on.

My top choice is Ireland.  My mother's father's family is from Ireland, departure points from Dublin to the US in the years spanning 1850-1870.

Insomnia, wanderlust and a subscription to Ancestry.com can be a dangerous thing.

I am not sure what I expect if I were ever able to get to Ireland.  Having a friend who lives there now, I do know that I would get health care when I needed it.  I know the country is also having an economic crisis.  And that I probably wouldn't make  a living wage with my educational background there either. At this point, air fare and lack of energy are still the only reasons I don't pack up and move there.

(this image of Wicklow Mountains from Ireland Chauffeur website) 
Another place I dearly want to go is Jamaica.  When it was younger I just wanted to go for the spliffies, mon.   And then I started doing some research into the culture there and Rastafarianism.  No, I am not Rasta, mon.  But every friend I have ever known who has vacationed there loved it.  Also pretty sure I could not make a living wage there doing what I do.  Alas.  But I do believe the overall climate is warmer and there would be way more access to the coast (and hopefully easier breathing) for me.  
(this image from http://wandermelon.com/2010/05/27/jamaica-violence-escalates-in-kingston/ and courtesy of Jamaica Tourism)  

I think that the urge to travel is part escapism and part thirst for new sights and experiences.  Workaday world can be awfully landlocked, both mentally and emotionally.  Travel signifies for me the ability to get a break from all the daily demands of the average of 100 people at work and the family that depends of me for everything.  Given the chance to travel "some day,"  I might be able to reinvent myself into someone who actually enjoys life for a few days. 

Some people I know enjoy travel.  Some see it as a chore.  I can understand that it could be tiring.  I have friends who fly across the country to see their families a couple of times a year and I can see that it wears their kids out.  

An aside: My 17 year old pointed out to me last week that she had never been on a plane.  She was very accusatory, and stated that I would not let her go anywhere or enjoy anything.  It breaks my heart to know that this is true - financially I have never been able to take her anywhere or go anywhere.  I know the resentment that builds from being tied down to oppressive burdens of responsibility. (Just take a look at my daily life.)  When I was her age, I graduated from high school and wanted to travel so much, but my mother chose my college (telling family members if it was good enough for her, it was good enough for me, even though it did not offer any of my top 5 career interests in majors and I had at least partial scholarships to a couple of good [Vanderbilt and Duke] schools).  Thus my downward spiral began.  I have told my daughter that if she can make the money work, she can go to an out of state school.  My parents did not pay one cent of my college education, so I really hate to do that to her.  However, the Republicans refused to sign the bill which would have saved them from capitalized on my student loan interest that had already been capitalized, so the $79,000 I borrowed for my Bachelors and Masters degrees has now been made into $127,000 and will be over $140,000 soon.  So there is no way I can sign on for her student loans too.  If I live, I will be paying on my own until I am between 80 and 85.  Since I have no retirement and no health insurance, I am hoping I don't live that long.  What a conundrum.  I want to live long enough to see my children grow up but not long enough to pay my student loans or have to be put in a pauper's nursing home.  

Then there is the ultimate travel.  I would love to go tramping about this planet.  I actually hunger to do so.  But the only trip any of us is guaranteed is the Underworld.  I think this is why I am so drawn to reading about different forms of spirituality.  When I was younger I was afraid of death and dreaded it like I was running up the down escalator.  Now I can think about passing through into another destination.  There's too many Books of the Dead that illustrate it.  Even if it all myth, it can be my myth, until it ceases to matter.  

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

TdJ: Priorities

This will be a short post this evening.  Yesterday was long.  Today was not near as long.  But I am still exhausted.

Today's topic is priorities.

I am happy to report that I am better than I used to be when it comes to priorities.

I still set too many, but I do know, more than ever, what is important to me.

Reading.  Writing.  Spending time with my daughters.  Spirituality.

So tonight, I am going to go to bed early - it's not even 10PM yet - and read and relax.

Because this is going to be a new priority.

Monday, January 28, 2013

TdJ: Balance

This topic falling on this day is a very nifty cosmic joke.  And yes, I am laughing.  Because I have been at it for about 15 hours of work and am just now taking a break to write my daily blog entry.  The ironic part is that I also went to an Al-Anon meeting tonight and asked that we talk about the topic of insanity.  And then I come home, finally get a chance to look at the Topic du Jour list - and the topic for the 28th is BALANCE.  Yummy.  As soon as I complete this blog entry I am going to get to spend another 3-6 hours catching up on typing up paperwork.  The good times, I got 'em.

Balance is something I do NOT have in my life.  This actually falls into the worry category, as I am very concerned that I may some day lose my mind.  If not go actually crazy, I am pretty sure I will have a stroke.

Today I felt so overwhelmed by everything, everyone making demands, that I almost cried.

I have no idea if it's because my mom is so sick she can't sit up at the moment.  She apparently has some stomach virus and throws up every time she tries to sit up.  I came home tonight and cleaned her bedroom.  She didn't want me to, but it needed it badly.  It's hard to know when she is sick if it is from the cancer, the chemo after effects, the radiation, the diabetes or if she has this damn rotovirus that is going around.

It may be that my youngest is sick too.  She hasn't been able to go to school in almost a week.  I don't deal with her - or my oldest either - being sick very well.  My first ten years of motherhood were lucky; Chloe is preternaturally healthy.  She is 17, has had three stomach bugs and one ear infection her entire life.  Tara gets sick constantly, is allergic is Zithromax and Omnicef, and has had like 20 ear infections and at least ten stomach viruses, in her 7 years.

It may be that financially I can never catch up.  A couple of weeks ago the gas was shut off.  Now I have a disconnect notice for the electric and water.  The rent is paid, thank goodness, but we've had a car I haven't been able to afford to get out of the shop in months.  At some point they are going to sell our car or whatever it is that they do.

It may be the physical pain just draining on me.  Hurting every single day for the past eight years has taken its toll.

It may be that I am just exhausted.  Spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically.

It may be that it just doesn't matter.  Because sooner or later, the Universe will make me find balance.  This usually happens when I get too ill to work or move or participate in society.  It hasn't happened in almost 6 years.  But it has happened.

I really don't want it to get to that point again.  So I try, little by little, to relax my standards.  The housework can wait.  I can only do so much for other people.  I start saying NO more and more.  (That part feels pretty good, I cannot lie.)  I go to Al-Anon meetings and I listen to my straight-talking, smart as hell sponsor.  I read and I pay attention to great writers and I really feel, not just look at, their words.

I write my ass off.

And I seek truth, learn lessons when they present themselves to me.  According to Mary K. Greer, the High Priestess is my Soul Card.  Sometimes I gotta shut up and listen to the High Priestess.  And she rarely teaches me with words.  For some reason, I think she could guide me in balance.  And I am so ready to learn.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

TdJ: Friendships

And not to be outdone, get out of order, I burden you with yet another blog post.  Since I missed yesterday, today requires two.
Since it is Sunday, I am tap these out on the laptop at home in my bed, and only get interrupted occasionally.  People here are up and out of bed before noon today - who would have thought it? - simply because I wanted to some quiet time to write.  When I want them to socialize with me (see last post) they are too tired or must stretch the week's small tasks into weekend tasks that support the agoraphobia.

Friendships.  I have a few.  By that I mean, I have people I know for whom I hold positive regard and enjoy time spent with them.  However, I do not have a "best friend," or anyone to confide in (hence this blog is an insane ramble of vomited emotion, good times) that can listen without judging me harshly.  There are people who I am sure could fulfill that role, but I haven't seen them in months or years.  We keep in touch through facebook, basically.  I am happy beyond belief that they exist at all, and would walk over hot coals for them.  However, by the time I realized that the hot coal walking was needed, those coals would be ashes, because our communication is not immediate or daily.

So why do I not have friends?  Well, friendship takes a time commitment, and I have to work long hours with no breaks, sick days or vacations.  When I do get time, it is tiny increments and I am so exhausted that I just want to be alone to rest.  Friends deserve more than I can give.

When I was young, I had no model for social boundaries of friendships.  My mother had no friends.  She was consumed by my father.  My father had friends and as soon as he was finished with work he lit out for parts unknown to go fishing or hunting or gun shopping or motorcycle shopping with them.  With my father gone, my mother would grade papers or watch television holed up in her room.  I was not allowed to have peers inside the house.  I call them peers, because kids my own age scared the shit out of me.  (Come to find out later, it was a good thing.  Every kid my age on the street where I grew up ended up in juvenile detention sooner or later.  Some made it into a career gig up at various penitentiaries.)  My sister had better luck with a younger crowd.  In later elementary school years, I had one friend.  I always went to her house, she never to mine.  On my 11th birthday, my parents let me have 4 people over for a slumber party.  One was mean to another, while the other two looked at me as if to say, "Oh hell, make it stop."  My solution was to turn to the nastier of the two, the one who had instigated the petty nastiness, and say, "Stop being a bitch."  Artful negotiator, I was!
Throughout puberty and high school, I made two more friends.  Nothing major.  They were good people.  One disappeared from my life almost instantly.  The one I do know the whereabouts?  Also facebook friend.

Evil Kvetch: Alert:  I can close my eyes and picture a some day.  Some day I will have time for friends who come over for tea and share their work and their writing.  Friends who can be supportive and not judge my awkwardness.  For most people my age, they allude to this "some day" as retirement.  Alas, at 43, I also have no retirement and see only that I will have to work at this pace until I die.  Or until I am unable to drag my broken self to work 18 hours a day and I get slapped into the worst nursing home available, as I have no long term financial future or long term care possibilities either.

Best not to think about it.  It only depresses me further.  Best to instead pray for an instantaneous death while I am still able-bodied, right after payday, so my children will be able to survive another two weeks financially.

It's not like they could pack up and go to one of my friends' homes, is it?

Okay, end of Evil Kvetch.

To end this on an upbeat note:
I do want to introduce one of my old friends.  She was of the furry variety, and could be very entertainingly rude (a quality I apparently adore in friends).  She was wonderful and loyal and convinced me I could be a good mother.
And there is my friend of fur now, who greets me at the door almost every time I walk in (unless he is eating something tasty, and then I don't blame him).  He cries and mopes when I leave.  He always comes when I call him.  He is the very definition of unconditional love.

TdJ: My Temper

Ironically enough, I did not not post yesterday on MY TEMPER because I was in a shitty mood, in a severe amount of pain (headache,year-long toothache, and sinus infections as well as fibro noise).  I spent most of the day doing the bidding of the people who live in my house that I support, and what time I did have to my myself, I took OTC pain killers (like I do every day), and I slept.  I actually took a  2 1/2 hour nap, but the older kid woke me up and told me to get up, drive her and her friend to the movies (which I paid for).  I got up, did so, and then lingering, bought a third ticket and went to see a movie by myself.  The husband refused to go to dinner with me Friday night, as being unemployed is exhausting apparently, and then refused to go to lunch or to the movies with me yesterday.  There won't be a fourth invitation.  At any rate, I went to see a movie alone yesterday.  It was fine.  The movie was "Gangster Squad."  It wasn't earth-movingly good, but it was entertaining and I didn't hate any of the characters.  It had an actual plot.  There was some good acting.  (Sorry, apparently, my temper makes me a shitty movie critic.)

So on to temper.  I have quite the temper.  Although, from all accounts, I have earned it.  I've had the great fortune to have been raised by, grown up with, and married into situations where I was the last priority - or no priority - for the people around me.  I learned early to keep quiet, not raise a fuss, be the model child, what everyone wanted me to be.  This was a matter of convenience for them, and set a pretty high bar of being neither seen nor heard as a pinnacle of perfection.  Everyone's needs trumped mine, even as a child.  My sister's sickness, illness, whatever, meant she needed more care and attention.  This created a bonding between her and my mother which, however dysfunctional, will never be broken - and fortunately for me, I am not a part of it.  This is a blessing as it simplifies things for me greatly.  Then my mother's horses, my dad's hobbies, all came before me.  It was perfectly acceptable to go care for horses miles away on a daily basis, but driving me to orchestra practice one a week was a pain in the ass, not to be endured.
All this is in the past and cannot be changed. But it did set the stage for me to enmesh myself with other users, marry a couple of them, and to this day wear myself out doing what they are unwilling, too lazy to do or what they find repugnant.  Like work a job.  Support themselves.  Take responsibility for anything. Plan and cook a decent, balanced meal.  

Much of the time I trudge through my life working 12-18 hour days, occasionally going to an Al-Anon meeting when I can finish work before 6:30PM, and then eating and trying to sleep 2-4 hours between bouts of excruciating physical pain where I wish to be delivered by death - which I find more likely to occur than health insurance or health care I can afford, before I start the day all over again.

Forgive my lack of Pollyanna cheer most days.

Being in physical pain makes me a bitch.  Pure and simple.  Chronic physical pain makes my temper much worse.  My fuse is shorter when I hurt.
This apparently defeats the ideal that was instilled in me from childhood - to be angry, or demand any attention at all makes one imperfect.  Wrong.  Repugnant.  Bad.


I work now with people with disabilities.  I teach a 10-12 hour training at least quarterly on Crisis Prevention and Intervention.  In doing that, I make a huge priority to explain that anger can be a reasonable reaction, and sometimes the only way people can get their needs met.  And that to prevent angry outbursts, maybe we should get to know people and understand their needs.  And help, where we can, to assist them in getting their needs met.  Because then there would be less use or need for anger.  I honestly believe this.

Wish I was smart enough to use it in my own life.

Ah, in 2014, when the government here is supposed to sponsor/offer/promote health care, maybe I will have less of a temper because I won't be in physical pain.  That is, unless the ultra-Conservatives/Republicans who only want the rich to live and the poor to die from lack of health care once again have their way.
Maybe my temper will be lessened when Republicans stop trying to kill us (sorry, maybe some hyperbole there.  What I mean was "stop trying to let us die.").  

Maybe not.

Friday, January 25, 2013

TdJ: My Mother's Health

On my Topic du Jour List, this was listed as a worry.  Since the middle of last year, this is a daily worry of mine.  Prior to that, it was one of those nagging, ever-present but sometimes-pushed-aside-for-crises worries.

My entire life I was somehow certain that my mother's health was not good.  She herself traces it back to being pregnant and giving birth to my sister - one of the greatest joys of her life, ironically - in 1972.  That's just over 40 years of (not so) silent suffering for my mom.  She had a Cesarean birth for my sister, then had to feed my sister through a tube for the first few months of her life.  Then she had an appendicitis which ruptured in the late 70s.  Then she developed septicaemia from that.  Then she had an ovarian tumor which was benign when I was in high school and had a total hysterectomy.  Then she broke her foot or ankle or some shit.  Then she was in an automobile accident about 2 or 3 years ago and broke her back.  Add to this an absolute addiction to Coca-Cola and Type II diabetes which she wouldn't stop drinking Cokes for so she has to shoot herself up with two types of insulin.  She has always been, in one way or another, a fucked up little pup.

Then this past spring and summer she started urinating blood.  She ignored it, being too focused on babysitting my nephew (who happens to have autism) to schedule and attend a medical appointment.  The quack she calls a primary care physician is fond of just calling in an antibiotic for her without actually seeing or examining her.  However, the day she finally made the call, at the urging of some woman at her church (having ignored my sister's and my suggestions/urgings/pleadings/veiled threats), luckily her quack was unavailable.  She ended up being placed that day in the care of a nurse practitioner, who actually made her come in, give a urine specimen, and who immediately referred her to a urologist.  The long and short of it is my mother had kidney and bladder cancer.  One kidney, ureter and part of the bladder was surgically removed in August, 2012.

She spent the fall and winter of 2012 in chemotherapy, 12 days in all, (four sets of three days for you math whizzes out there).  A scan on the last few days of 2012 showed that the chemo was effective in getting rid of the kidney cancer, but there is still a "dark shadow" in what remains in her bladder (cue vampire music here).  On the 14th of January, she began radiation treatments for this.  She hates radiation as much as chemo.  Other than her trips to get the radiation and a stop to buy more junk food on the way back if she isn't too tired, she does not leave her bed.  She has even lessened her obsessions.  She is reading more, and even reading more than magazines and newspapers, so that is a good thing.  But other than that, it is hard to watch her consciously make decisions in her lifestyle that are working against her healing.  She has always been a junk food junkie, and has sneaked and rationalized drinking Cokes all throughout her diagnosis of diabetes, even through being placed on insulin.  She is a pessimist about her own life, always has been.  There is no magic wand or formula for me to get her to eat a real fruit or vegetable, even when I guilt her into drinking one of my protein fruit smoothies (22g protein, 3 servings of fruit).  There is no way she is ever going to drink water instead of carbonated beverages.

This has been a long, hard road for her.  Even more thankless, I would hazard a guest, than birthing me.  I do know that there is no way I can "feel her pain" or understand.  I don't have cancer and don't go to doctors.  I feign health even when I feel like shit, and I have no patience for illness in my own body.  I am not so naive that I think I am going to save her.  I may want to.  And I do feel like when all this is over, she will have a good prognosis.  At least I hope so.

The Serenity Prayer states, in my version:

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can, and 
The Wisdom to know the difference.  

My mother's health is a topic over which I need serenity.  Maybe courage to change my attitude and approach.  And wisdom to keep my mouth shut.  

Having said all this, I do ask for tonglen or groovy thoughts from you towards her health and healing.  If you are one of those Christian types, prayers work too.  She is Catholic, so she is all about the prayers.  

Thursday, January 24, 2013

TdJ: Reading

Slept late today due to taking medicine for the toothache that actually worked last night.  First time in a year!  I still woke up at 2AM, but was actually able to get back to sleep in a little over an hour, so was not up all night for the first time this week.

So today's topic is reading, my absolutely favorite way to pass the time.

Once upon a time I got a Bachelor's degree in English (literature) and often miss this field.  I went in a completely different direction when I got my Master's degree not quite 15 years ago - Counseling, and I have regretted it most days.  Not just because it has taken 15 years to get to a living wage, either.

Most days I have to make a real effort to steal a few moments to read.  I just feel sad when I cannot do the things I actually enjoy, reading being chief among them.

A couple of days ago, I finished a book about ACIM by Jon Mundy.  At the moment I am wrapping up Rachel Pollack's Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom.  I have a stack of books in my room that is both taunting and tantalizing.  And some day I hope to have time, without losing my livelihood that supports my family, to read them.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

TdJ: Vehicle Maintenance

Today's topic is one of those things I need to make a better effort to accomplish.

My entire life I have been the person who lets the car go way more than 3000 miles between oil changes.  I don't take care of cars - or other things, for that matter - like I should.

As I age, I am seeing this is a problem.  It doesn't mean I am undergoing a radical conversion, but it does mean I am valuing all things more and treating them a bit better.  Cars included.

I hope to continue to do better on this.  In the meanwhile, I introduce you to the cars that inspire me:

If you have one of these taking up space in your driveway, I will be happy to take it off your hands.  

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

TdJ: Marriage

Today's topic is a loaded gun for me.  So I will try to handle it well and carefully, with the safety on.

I've been married twice.  The first time was out of a sense of guilt and thinking it was what I should do. The second time was out of delusions of domestic bliss which is embarrassing, because I was way too old (34) for any kind of romantic illusions at that point.

In my mid-twenties, I had the urge to procreate.  As an afterthought, I thought I should get married.

Skip ahead almost 10 years later, I had the illusion that I wanted companionship and that marriage would supply that.  Apparently I had learned nothing from the first experiment.

The saving grace from the social experiments of my marriages are my daughters.  I am very happy with them and feel as if they justify my illusions.  However, it is ridiculous for me to have expected anything else from the institution of marriage.  In my experience, marriage does not guarantee companionship, financial security, intimacy, or much of anything else either.  There are those who will say that marriage is one of those bizarre set-ups where you get what you put into it.  That may be true, and I have two responses.  First, kiss my ass.  Second, I have so little left to give when I am doing all the work to support my family and make all financial decisions and handle all crises and issues that befall my family, I have nothing left to give.  Marriage is just one of those things that exhausts me in practice and irritates me in theory.  (And no, I have no desire to hear about your perfect marriage with a working partner.  I've heard that story already.  And no, don't pray for me or my evil heart to be turned.)

Since both the poor victims who have had the misfortune to be married to me are still alive, I am limited as to what I can say about marriage.  Let's just say I am no expert.  And I won't be doing it again.

Monday, January 21, 2013

TdJ: Music

Today's post was to be about music.  Well, it will still be about music, but it is being written at 4:30PM in the afternoon after I have trained new hires all day, so it may be less coherent that my other posts.

When it comes to writing, I am a morning person.  Who knew?

To simulate the morning experience, I am having the morning tea (sans milk, as I am at the office and milk is hard to keep at the office).

Music is one of those things I enjoy as a matter of course during the day.  After a particularly long day I have been known to blast some metal.  But most of the time, the music nearest and dearest to my heart falls into two categories: Classical (actually, Baroque, but this may mean nothing to most of you) and 1980s alternative.  I could - and do - spend hours enjoying this heavenly art.

Back in the day - meaning in my early teens - I played in orchestra and band.  And I don't mean marching band.  I enjoyed hanging with musicians even at that young age.  For a while I entertained thoughts of going to college on a music scholarship.  If I had stuck with it, I probably could have pulled it off.  But my parents moved us out to the middle of nowhere where the county high school had no orchestra and nothing but marching band.  I sang in the chorus, but my heart wasn't in it.  It wasn't like I was a child prodigy - I got started way too late for that.  Hell, even in elementary I failed "flutophone" class.  I hated that damn plastic whistle.  Strings were more my thing.  After all, my mother's Siamese and I shredded my mother's guitar when I was just a toddler.  Good times.

I still like listening to things I played in orchestra thirty years ago.  I find that calming and soothing, and - hello - if you have read my blog you know I need all the soothing and calming I can get.

I also like listening to things I liked in high school.  I was never much for the Top 40 or overplayed stuff.  While some were oohing and ahhing over Def Leppard, I was listening to Siouxsie and the Banshees.  I absolutely hated country music.  Still do.  And most Top 40.  Mention Taylor Swift to me and I throw up a little bit in my mouth.  I've only heard one song in the last year or so that got popular radio airplay that I liked.  Then they played it to death so people hate it.
I also had a major girl crush (which continues to this day) on Adam Ant.  I defy any red-blooded heterosexual (or bisexual) female to watch his "Wonderful" video and not be happy.  Sure, it's a sad story, but it is a beautiful thing.

And I think I will leave you with that for today.  I know this wasn't much of an entry, but this is all I have for the moment.  Watch this and forgive me:

Sunday, January 20, 2013

TdJ: Writing

Writing is the only topic that appears in this list twice.  On the 12th of the month, it is listed as a joy.  On the 20th of the month, it is listed as something to pay attention to.

So writing, something I need to pay attention to.

First, it made this list because it is something I enjoy, but do not do for pleasure -or non-work-related endeavors,  For the last week, this has changed, as I have blogged every day.  However, in the most recent past, I have been really lax about the blog, even about journaling, which I was doing only slightly more than blogging.  So at last week's Night of the Mothers, I had very little to give meat to my year.  Where had it gone?  It was lost in a soup of long days of work, bitterness, and physical pain.  My regular calendar was full of work events and days bills were due.  Even my We'Moon calendar just listed my useless menstrual calendar and my headaches, fibro flares, and toothaches.  Only two entries on the calendar about something wonderful.  So I vowed the next day to get a Slingshot organizer and therein to write things positive.  However, it has sadly sat empty this week.  It's time to change that.  I don't want to be looking on 2013 as a lost bitter year.

Second, writing made the list of something to pay attention to because I want to get MUCH better at it. In the last year, I have developed less obsession with my own words.  I can scratch out or hit the delete button with the best of them.  I can do what Natalie Goldberg instructs, just wild free writing and hate it all and not be saddened by it.  I am learning I have to exercise the writing muscle like any other and hopeful it will be lithe and limber some day, not arthritic and sedentary.

Third, writing made this list of something to pay attention to because I would love to do it more.  I still have hopes that someday I will be able to make a little money at it and not have to work such long hours for someone else, or at least be in a life situation that supports me having time to write.  I don't want to be sneaking off furtively to do it forever.

Fourth, writing made this list for an interesting reason.  When I write, I am get along better with others. It makes me feel okay about truly being an introvert at heart.  When I write, it is perfectly fine to see human interaction as a social experiment, interesting but not devastating.  It helps me get distance between me and my temper, or my need to think aloud, or blurt out every thought that enters my head.  (This last habit gets me into alot of trouble, let me tell you.)  When I write, it's okay for me to be a curmudgeon or for me to like people globally but be misanthropic on a personal level.  Well, it may not be okay, but it can make for slightly entertaining writing product.  When I write, I can take time to parse and present my words, thoughts and intended deeds in a format that is more palatable, understood, and even more acceptable.  It shuts up my monkey mind in a kind way, and yet still lets my cerebral chimp have its say.

Yes, I need to pay more attention to writing.  I need to journal more, keep on blogging.  No one may ever read the blog, but at least I am actively putting words together.  And that, my friends, is like wordy sit-ups.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

TdJ: Weight

This may or may not be an emotional post for me.  I'm glad it fell on a weekend so I wouldn't have to get up at 4AM to have time to write it before dashing off to work.  As it is, I have gotten up and enjoyed a cup of tea while giggling through an episode of The Green Hornet and another episode of The Invisible Man.  Good stuff.

Okay, weight.  As a woman I have been conditioned to hate my body.  No surprises there.  The surprising thing is how seduced I, the chick who always wants to subvert the dominant paradigm, have become with the idea of being wafer thin (for Monty Python Meaning of Life fans, an allusion).

I was not overweight as a child.  I was not the most active child, always preferring a book to whatever else was going on.  I liked being outside, but if it was especially hot or cold, I liked being in air conditioning or heat with a good book more.

Sometime in my high school years I started thinking I was fat.  The first culprit was looking at fellow female classmates.  Some were thinner, some were the same, and some were heavier than I was.  But I couldn't get past the idea that some were thinner.  This became secondary only to grades where I felt the competitive edge..... Don't panic, it passed.  Not the desire to be thinner, but the desire to compete with others.

To put this in perspective, I submit the following photo from the evening of my high school graduation:
Funny, isn't it?  The dress was a vintage, one that had belonged to my aunt in the 1940s, I believe.  It was a size 8.  I felt 300 pounds.  But I was happy to be finished with the social experiment others called high school.  

Fast forward through almost 26 years, and my inner image of myself then is much closer to the outer reality.  No, I am nowhere near 300 pounds, thankfully.  But most days I feel like there is nothing I am doing or not doing that would prevent me from weighing 300 pounds.  Weight in general seems to be a mystery to me.  I don't feel fat, I don't feel thin.  All the same, I avoid photographs like the plague.  Case in point, I tried to take a "vacation" for the first time in 7 years this past summer.  It consisted of walking around the town I live in, as I had no money and still had to carry the emergency on call phone so ended up working at least 5 hours a day anyway.  Tim snapped a photo with Tara and me in the capital, which is less than a half mile from our house.  
I was horrified!!!! Who was that fat woman holding my child?  And the hair, oh lord, save me from that hair.

So I managed another six months away from the camera.  However, in the interim the scale says I weigh about 10 pounds less than when this photo was taken.  I feel thinner, as I try to stretch and be as physically active as the fibromyalgia will allow.  But who knows.  I still feel mushy.
The bottom line for me is that I am not about what is on the outside.  But at this stage in my life, I have to live with what is on the outside.  So I either make peace with it, or I go screaming into this good night.  And every time I try that, the phone rings or someone needs something.  So damn.  Here I am, deal with it.  Maybe this is MY grumpy cat photo?  

Friday, January 18, 2013

TdJ: Baking Bread

When Chloe, my 17 year old daughter, was a toddler, I baked my first loaf of bread.  I used the recipe found in the bread bible of my twenties, The Laurel Kitchen's Bread Book.  It was for a yeasted whole wheat, just the basic loaf.  I was one of those rare lucky ones, and my first loaf turned out almost perfect.  It had heft but also a crusty fluffiness as well, with an almost nutty aftertaste.  I was enamored. My ex-husband was intrigued but alas not sold, as he grew up with plastic white bread and to this day, well into his forties, will consume nothing else.  My little blonde, blue-eyed enigma however, toddled into the kitchen and devoured a slice slathered with herb butter.  Thus an informed, more nuanced palate was born. A fact which I am sure she both blesses and curses me for.

And like all meaningful events, that first loaf of bread has eclipsed all others.  My last loaf was born almost 7 years ago.  The last baby was just a baby, and her father was nonplussed (as he is only slightly more adventuresome in palate than the other one) and my heart wasn't in it.  I had baked it in response to drunken taunting from my husband, "You say you can do it, but I've never seen it.  You're probably lying about it."  In the midst of severe postpartum depression, I trudged into a cold kitchen with a baby tied to my hip and made that damn bread.  From the process emerged a hefty albeit tasty brick.  The husband staggered into the kitchen to cut himself a slice, pressing the loaf into a patty as he sawed through.  The brick was further decimated into an inch or so remnant.  I tossed it into the trash, never tasting it myself.

Baking bread is an exercise in faith.  In hope the ingredients are assembled.  It matters where and how long ago the flour was milled from the grain.  Science enters the picture as the yeast is dissolved in a bath of perfect temperature.  Like life, you have to get in there and get your hands dirty as you knead and knead again to form the dough.  There is also the time of hibernation, where the loaf proofs, the yeast working its magic, as your efforts rest under a clean dish towel like a little nap in a warm room.  And finally the risk of shoving all this work into the oven, like sending your child into the world, and not really knowing what will result when the loaf emerges from the fiery furnace.

One of these days I hope to have the time off work, a moment to myself, and some stolen moments from exhaustion and pain to bake bread again.  I'd like to exercise some faith.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

TdJ: Housecleaning

I assume this post should be entitled, "Housekeeping," but I am not sure this is a topic I can write much about.

There's not much housecleaning that goes on at Chez Terre.  With my current schedule and feeling crappy or exhausted most of the time, housecleaning is usually relegated to the weekends, where I cram 7 days of living in a day and a half.  It's a lackluster effort to be sure, but it is better than nothing.

If I used the Martha Stewart measurement to assess my domestic duties, I would be lucky to get a C-.  Fortunately, I grade myself on a steep curve.  In my head, I envision the family dynamic as measured against a sepia-toned 1950s sit-com, except in this version, I am the dude in the suit.  I'm the one who shoves off each day to work while the spouse stays home.  Just like Tim doesn't wear pearls or greet me at the door with slippers and a cigar, I don't often make it home in time for dinner - unless dinner is served at 9PM or later.  And I do way more housework than Ward, and nowhere near as much as June.  I do more housework than Carol Brady however, simply because Alice doesn't live here.  Ever.

When I close my eyes and picture my perfect household, it's not perfect.  It is clean, no tumbleweeds of dog hair.  And it smells good.  Like bread baking, or soup simmering, and clean wind sun-kissed from the clothesline.

So what would it take for the housecleaning to be all it can be?  Well, me to have a normal schedule for starters.  And then for me to manage what time I do have in such a way to dedicate more time more than once every 7 days.  For example, tonight I have slept one hour and then woken up in pain and can't sleep for the pain.  If I could clean through the insomnia, perhaps.  Or if I could sleep and then feel better so I have energy for cleaning as well as working and interacting with humans....  At this late hour, it all feels like fantasy.