Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tired

I have survived my first full day of Minnesota. I am far busier than I planned for, despite having had my hands on a full agenda and despite knowing that I would be hellabusy. I've only been here one day so far, and I'm honestly not sure how much more information my head can hold. I'm tired, I'm dirty, and I have a headache the size of the ten-thousand lakes.

Mr. J tells me my beloved Paper is mourning my absence by staring at the front door and behaving sadly. I don't know how Mr. J is mourning my absence, but I'm sure it involves throwing my pillow on the floor and watching the History Channel.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Out of town

I'll be out of town next week. I am traveling to Minnesota for training at my company's corporate offices; I am leaving tomorrow and won't return until next Friday. I expect to come home with a very full brain. Hopefully all my new knowledge won't push out any of my old knowledge ...

I bought a new notebook for the trip; since I won't have access to the normal distractions in my life that keep me from writing, I have decided to focus more on my writing in the hopes I can get that back on track. We'll see how that goes.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sue's Flowers

I tried to work out tonight, but my gym-ling is closed for reasons unknown. I haven't felt like working out, haven't felt well really for a couple of weeks. But when I stuffed myself into a previously-comfortable pair of pants and had to suck in my belly this morning, I decided it was time to maybe try that whole exercise things again. I went for a walk since I couldn't work out, and did some more exploring. I really like my new neighbourhood. I'm back together with Janet Evanovich and I had Stephanie Plum in my ear again while I scoped out the all the houses for sale and my neighbours.

I found a house tucked back into a quiet part of the area, a house with lots of big, colourful flowers. A woman stood at the corner staring at the flowers. She said hello to me as I walked nearby. I wasn't expecting it, am not accustomed to friendliness from neighbours. I said hello back, and complimented her flowers. She told me her name is Sue, and invited me to come back with my shears and take as many as I liked. I told her I had just moved here, and she told me all about the park nearby and the public tennis courts down the road a piece and the conveniently located 7-11 not far away.

She was very nice, and it surprised me. I'm a standoffish girl; I keep to myself for the most part. Sometimes I'm rude, but usually it's just that I don't like talking to people just for the sake of talking. But I liked Sue. She was open and friendly without being invasive. When I offered my hand in greeting, she shook it like a normal person with a firm grip, not all sissy-like how so many women shake hands. She was inviting and generous, and I was glad to meet her.

Tomorrow I think I'll head back to Sue's and avail myself of some of her flowers.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Colin's unearthly anger

I dreamt of Colin last night; we were in an apartment and we were fighting, in an absolute rage at one another. I don't remember what we were fighting about, but I recall feeling as though we had to stop or our relationship would be damaged beyond repair. He wouldn't stop, would not stop shouting at me. He was loud, unrelenting in his anger and accusations. He was like that in life, so very loud and bitter when he got angry at me. I became afraid in the dream, and suddenly Waltzer was there; he was trying to mediate between us, to help us understand. Colin became accusatory towards him as well, though I don't have a clear idea about what.

Then it changed and we were no longer fighting; I was hiding. Hiding from his towering anger and boiling hatred. He was looking for me, and was destroying everything in his path. I was afraid that he would destroy me as well. Waltzer helped me get away, get outside and running off down the street. But it was raining outside, and I was wearing a dress with tights and combat boots. My boots filled up with water, squishing and slopping with every step. I was cold and tired and confused. I had to turn around, go back to that apartment. I had to find an umbrella and change my clothes and put proper socks on.

When I got back to that apartment, Waltzer was also hiding from Colin. I snuck inside and managed to dodge Colin and creep back into my bedroom. It was in shambles. All the furniture was broken, bureau drawers turned out, clothes ripped from hangers and lying in crumpled heaps like empty corpses. I rummaged around until I found socks, but my umbrella was lost. I was frantic about this umbrella and it became terribly important that I find it.

I didn't find it, but I did find my car keys. I snatched them up and changed clothes, and ran out to my car. I managed to drive away, miles down the road, then had to go back. I don't remember what it was I needed that time, but the dream progressed like that through a series of events. I would manage to get away without calling attention to myself, get away clean and free, but then something would get stuck in my mind and I would have to go back. I couldn't get away, couldn't make the choice not to return to him and to his dysfunction.

I was never like that in our relationship. Sure, there was anger. We broke furniture and threw things around and hurt each other physically and emotionally. But I was never afraid of him. I never had to run from him, never needed anyone else to protect me from him. As awful as he would get, as awful as we would get together, I could hold my own against his anger and I never backed down in the face of his towering rage. I had my own rage, and I think mine scared him much more than his scared me.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Green tea cakes

I managed to get out of bed early enough this morning to do a little wedding ritual for a friend who got married today on the other side of the country. Mr. J promised me shopping for the last ingredient for green tea cakes, "matcha" (green tea powder). We journeyed to the Stash tea store and paid far too much money for a few ounces of green tea powder and a bag of red rooibos tea (but I got a free container!).

The tea cakes turned out very nice. It's my new favourite dessert. The green tea powder gives it a very faint flavour; if you didn't know it was there, you might not pick up on it. These are very dense little tea cakes, and I am looking forward to enjoying some tonight with my new tea and the latest copy of combat handguns magazine.

I need more exercise

I first started running in earnest about a year ago. I bought myself a Walkman to play cassette tapes so I could listen to the books on tape I enjoyed so much. Only not one of the fancy ones; it's a brand I have not heard of and it doesn't have rewind. It's clunky, and awkward, and only plays cassette tapes. It was exactly what I wanted, though, so I loved it. It cost me $9.67 plus tax.

I went to the library and found a book on cassette that sounded interesting. I came home, put my running clothes on, loaded up the first cassette of Janet Evanovich's One for the Money and took myself off down the road. I had been on the South Beach Diet for a few weeks and was looking great. I was so sexy, men watched me hungrily as I ran by. Women pushing strollers paused to bite their lips in envy as they watched me flounce past. I was charged! I was motivated! I was running! I was so sexy it hurt.

I was so fooling myself. I was not sexy, I was floppy. All my bits were moving around, and not in the good way. My ass was flying up and down as I ran and I'm quite sure I made a baby cry. My ankles hurt, my hips hurt, my breasts hurt, my eyelashes hurt. It was truly an awful experience, that first time, and I hated the book I was listening to.

The next day, something sort of funny happened. After work, I wanted to run again. I can't imagine why as I was horrible at it the first time and it has ever been my trend to never again do things I am horrible at once. But, I put my running clothes back on, grabbed my cassette player with the awful book loaded in it, and started over. I waited a bit longer that second day, waited until it wasn't quite so daylight out. I was hoping the men washing their cars and ladies pushing strollers wouldn't be out. I alternated walking and running (less moving around on me that way) and was able to keep at it a bit longer the second time.

I carried on this manner for several days, listening to my book-on-tape and running at night. It was really awful, that book. The female character, Stephanie Plum, seemed to epitomize everything I hate about "being a girl". She was afraid of guns, she worried about breaking a nail, she had girly hair and spent too much time on her makeup. I thought she was a twat, a real dunce of a girl. And she made stupid choices. She had a dumb family, from a dumb town, and had a dumb job. I really hated her, and wished she would get killed by a bad guy.

I did this for several weeks, using my dislike of this book and this character to fuel my energy for running. Soon, I began to like the book. It became part of my routine, and it helped me. When the book ended, I zipped off to the library to get the second book. When I ran out of books, I didn't want to run any longer. The act of running is tied in with those books now, and I have reached the end. Ms. Evanovich isn't writing them fast enough. So, I'm starting over. I've upgraded from my junky Walkman to my shiny iPod. I've got the first book queued up again, and tonight I'll take myself off for a run. I'm no sexier today than I was then, but maybe I won't make babies cry this time.

Friday, July 18, 2008

I'm glad this week is over

I had a rough week. I am preparing to be out of the office for a week at the end of the month, and I'm a bit frazzled. I deserve green tea cakes.

I talked to my work-mom on the phone today; she's getting married tomorrow, and I want so badly to be there with her. I'll have to settle for a small ritual for her and her partner at the time of their wedding. It's not the same though, and I'm a little sad.

But then I'm making Mr. J take me out to breakfast and buy the ingredients for green tea cakes.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Always wanting

I'm restless just now; I need sorting out but I'm not sure how to get it.

For as long as I can remember I have missed living in Sacramento. When I was much younger it was because my friends and family were all there. After I realized my family was un-good and didn't like me very much anyway, and that the friends I had back then wouldn't even know me today, I just missed the city. I missed the weather, I missed the proximity to San Francisco. My mom and her husband used to take me on trips to Frisco, shopping trips or trips to see shows.

I visited Sacramento with Mr. J several years ago and saw the radiant, shiny, sweltering, muggy, beautifully dirty city that I remembered from childhood. I didn't misremember it all, the way people forget details or glamourize things in their minds. The Catholic school I went to was just as big, just as imposing as I recalled it. Sutter's Fort was just as interesting as it was during my grammar school field trips all those years ago. The trees along L Street were just as big as back then.

For twenty years I have lived in the Northwest. For twenty years I have bemoaned the climate here, complaining about the rain and the constant overcast and the mud. Oh lord, the mud. Everything here is covered in mud. People are covered in mud.

For the past couple of weeks the weather here has been typically sunny and bright, as it gets in Oregon in July, and I couldn't be more unhappy with it. Just last year I made a commitment to myself not to be so damn negative about living here. I would feel absolute hatred boil in my veins when it rained; the anger I felt would be so thick, so tangible, I could simply walk into a room and people would scatter. I was unhappy, being so unhappy. Since I couldn't change the weather, I decided to change how I felt about it.

So I made a list of all the things I could do in the Northwest, and all the good or nice things about rain that aren't true of hot, sunny places. For instance, running in the rain is just fine but you can't really run in 90 degree heat with 80 percent humidity. At least, I can't. Also, I like tea and hot chocolate, both of which are best enjoyed when it's cold and rainy out, and not at all preferable when it's hot. My list got long, and without realizing it I changed how I felt about the weather.

And now ... now I want it to be rainy. I want to put a fire in the fireplace. I want to put on the big, fuzzy, soft red socks my stepdaughter bought me last Christmas. I want to put the kettle on and listen to a Janet Evanovich book on my iPod and knit something nice in my super-soft blood red Caron yarn that has been sitting in my knitting basket waiting for a day when my hands won't sweat at the thought of touching it. When I wake up and check the web for each day's forecast and see hot and sunny again I throw up a little bit inside. Some days I can't just be happy with what I have, I have to have something different.

I haven't had dinner; I cannot possibly choose among all the options. My apartment is a mess, dishes are piled in the kitchen. I need to go to the market. I need to meditate, or do yoga, or run, or work out, or finish the payroll I brought home from the office. But I'm too hot to do any of that stuff.

I really wish it would rain.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The library wastes my money

The library in my town sends out notices when ordered books come in. I don't understand why this is; they send me emails when my books are about to become overdue, yet they can't send me an email when my library books arrive. No one can explain it to me. I think it's a waste of resources. I got a new book from the library: CSS Web Design for Dummies. I ordered this book weeks ago and have been waiting in a breathless fashion to get my silly slip of paper advising me that my book had arrived for me. I zipped myself there and came home with a shiny new book. I have been quite excited to get this book, in fact I've been on pins and needles waiting for it. I want so badly to learn about web pages so I can write a style sheet and make my website for the whole world to see and awe over.

And I haven't cracked that book once. Oh, I think I read the copyright page; it's like foreplay for me, the copyright page. I got that far then I got thirsty, or got tired, or got dirty, or something. Between work and not feeling all that well I haven't done anything that I really want to do. Even knitting is a chore for me lately, and I can't seem to shake a sort of restless, un-good feeling.

Also, I hate the For Dummies series of books. Yes, they're terrifically easy to follow even for us simpletons. But, dummy? Really? Does that have to be me? I don't want to be a dummy. I want to be a smarty, like the candy.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Blog birthday

Last year, on this day, I was on vacation. In fact, I think it was my first day of vacation. Mr. J and I didn't have the money to go anywhere; I had also just assumed management of my branch at work and couldn't be out of touch with my office, but we needed a break. So we took two weeks off with no plans beyond day trips.

The blog I had at the time had been broken, with no hope of repair, and I missed that outlet. So I made this blog. At the time I intended it to be mostly a place for me to talk about my religion; I called it "To Walk a Pagan Path" and I was going to explore my inner Wiccan and be super-duper spiritual girl. It has turned into much more, and admittedly much less, than that for me.

To take a page out of the lovely Aerolin's book, I thought I'd talk about what I've learned about me:

  • I am not Wiccan
  • I haven't done as much healing as I thought I had in some areas
  • I have done a lot of healing in areas I thought were still raw for me
  • I am learning to let go
  • I lack compassion in a general sense
  • I love people I have never met in person
  • Personal stories of growth and courage can move me to tears
  • I feel that experiencing my emotions to their fullest is intrinsic to my own sanity
  • I love change
  • I love challenge
  • I enjoy poking at my own emotional bruises
  • My writing sucks
  • I still build emotional walls around myself, even after telling myself wouldn't
  • I no longer believe in God nor Goddess as sentient beings, but as opposite forces of the same energy
  • I do not believe in a creator
  • I still struggle with balance
  • I enjoy looking inward and of examining my Self
  • I no longer miss Colin's presence in my life
  • I am a solitary person, and in general do not enjoy spending time with other people

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Found it!

I found my ring! I'm so pleased I could throw up.

My grandpa

I am the eldest of three grandchildren. Being the eldest, I had a little more time with my grandfather than my younger cousins did. I called him "Papa", and he doted on me. He didn't play favourites after the other two came along; Papa always gave special time to all three of us and treated us all the same. Even so, I've always felt special to him. Not in a spoiled, bratty sort of way, but just special; when Papa made jokes, it was always me he winked at. He didn't talk stupid to me, the way people do to small children. He talked stupid to my cousins, but he always talked to me like I was an adult. He made me feel smart.

My youngest cousin, Michael, drowned when I was a girl, and my family blamed me for it. It took a long time, but eventually my relationship with Papa changed; I loved him, but when I got old enough to realize he blamed me for something that should never have been my fault, blamed me for something that was a mistake of his own daughter and not me at all, I started to feel differently about him. I didn't feel special or smart, I felt discardable. As such, I have not been close to my Papa in a number of years and spent several years estranged from my entire family.

A few years ago my grandparents got in touch with my mom and, by extension, me. My grandmother asked me back then if there was anything I wanted when they died; they have all manner of collectible things that my mom's sisters have been dividing up for years, planning for their death. I wanted Papa's dog-tags. He was in the Army, and I remember them so clearly. I remember being young and sitting in his lap while he read or watched TV and playing with the dog-tags around his neck listening to the sound they made when they clanked together. I remember begging him to take them off so I could wear them around the house; he always told me no, told me they never came off.

Papa retired from the Army years ago, long after I was interested in wearing his dog-tags. So when my grandmother offered me anything I wanted, that's what I chose. She sent me one of them, in a box. He has the other still, but I've got one, and I'm wearing it on a chain around my neck. I remember what life was like before my cousin drowned, before my family was angry at me for so many years; a time when I was still the oldest, still the smartest and most clever.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Exploring the neighbourhood

Mr. J and I went for a walk around our neighbourhood tonight. We walked to a c-store a block or so away, then continued on to my office. The air is cool, but it's been so warm here the past few days. We stopped by a lake and watched ducks float around; maybe it's a pond, I don't really know. Ducks are not the same as chickens; I called them chickens by mistake, but I don't think he noticed because he didn't tease me about calling them the wrong thing.

Last fourth of July, when we were in our old house, we also walked up to the closest c-store; we bought ice-cream that night and wandered around that neighbourhood. It's very different where we live now. Quiet, and more urban. I wasn't expecting it to be quieter; there are more people per capita here so I was expecting more partying and loud explody things. Maybe people are quieter here on account of the laws regarding fireworks; maybe people here aren't as patriotic as folks in Vancouver. Whatever the reason, it's nice that it's so quiet tonight. I'm glad not to have such loud explosions going off for hours and hours.

Fort Vancouver puts on a fireworks show every year. It's supposed to be huge and amazing and exciting. I don't find it so, stopped going when I was a teenager. Traffic is terrible, people lose all manners, and the noise is ever-lasting and deafening.

I don't miss Washington. It was very rural in our old neighbourhood in Vancouver, and I wasn't particularly attached to it. I like it here, like the urban feel to it; I like the supermarket across the street and the office complexes just blocks away. I grew up in downtown Sacramento, in an old mansion that had been converted to apartments off of J Street near Sutter's Fort. I went to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic school, and my mom and I walked everywhere. Beaverton is nothing like Sacramento, but living here reminds me of where I grew up, and I love it here.

Buddhism and acceptance

In reading my favourite blogs today ran across the theme of acceptance over at MPJ's and found a blog that I hadn't seen before thanks to her. The perspective on acceptance reminded me of a story I read by Ajahn Brahm about acceptance, especially as it relates to a negative thing, in which he described the ways people attempt to achieve acceptance before they actually accomplish it.

One of the ways he described is bargaining. Bargaining with the negatives is not accepting them, it is trying to trade something for what we want.

Another was denying. Trying to talk ourselves out of the negative by attempting to deny its existing. "I don't really feel this anger, it has no effect on me."

He gave many examples of the ways we attempt to deal with negatives that we call acceptance, that only cause us more suffering. It reminded me of the five stages of grief, wherein acceptance is the last* stage. The example of acceptance is similar to what I think Indistinct was talking about; acceptance as taken from the Kubler-Ross model: I can't fight it, so I might as well prepare for it. I'm a fan of the model, and of Kubler-Ross, but this definition of accepting doesn't quite sit well with me. Maybe it's just the way I look at it, but acceptance is not negative for me. It is a struggle before I achieve it, but it doesn't feel like weak acquiescence when I manage acceptance.

Brahm spoke of achieving true acceptance by opening the door within our hearts (though I personally like the idea of opening the door within my mind a little better - my mind has a lot more capacity than my heart) to that negative thing. Not in an attempt to bargain with it, or deny it, or make deals with it, but to truly open the door to it and let it in. Allow it room to do what it will, and that is when we can achieve acceptance. We have accepted that thing on its own terms and not tried to change it or influence it.

I don't know how well this concept will work for the recovering addict, but in my spiritual evolution I love this idea. The idea that my pain and anger is such a struggle for me because I am not truly accepting them resonates within me, makes sense to me when I look back over my life and the struggles I have engaged in because of how I dealt with adversity. When I open my mind to those things that I used to struggle against and allow them to nest inside me, it has the opposite effect I thought it would. I used to think allowing those things in would make them grow and fester, would make anger consume me, and hatred would rise to a bloody boil. I have found that this isn't the case for me. When I allow them in, allow them to do what they will, they lose power. Like the rising flame of a candle just before it goes out, they burn hot and bright, and then they dissipate. They don't consume me as I thought they would. Acceptance feels good in that regard, but it takes me a long time to get there, to understand that I cause myself suffering before I can accept. No matter how many times I learn this lesson, I still go through the same struggles each time.







*It is my experience that the stages of grief are not linear, and are not always experienced in this order. One can experience them in any order, and can also experience more than one stage at a time. I don't believe that "acceptance" halts the process of the grief.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Old wounds

I have talked a little bit about Colin here. I've talked of how his death changed me and how I feel about life now. There is a lot there that I have not talked about, and don't talk about with anyone. There were a lot of sides to Colin that were not especially pleasant; there were many aspects of our relationship that were not happy. Colin had the ability -if it should be called an "ability"- to bring out the very worst in my personality.

I chose not to talk about a lot of the negatives about him and our relationship after he died; partly I think because I wanted him back alive so badly that I couldn't bear to think of the bad parts. I didn't want him to be dead, so it seemed only right that I talk about how perfect he was. Those who knew him, and knew us, were kind enough not to challenge me about the perfection I talked about. They graciously never brought up the alcohol-induced fights they witnessed between us, or the level of dysfunction we brought out in each other.

I have continued to choose only the good or funny or witty parts to tell others about; only the very closest of my friends know about some of the yuckier parts. I like it that way; I like remembering him as funny and larger-than-life and charismatic because he was all of those things.

The lovely JW invited me to a terrific community, and I've been talking and thinking a bit more about Colin as an 'addict'. I didn't realize until I started posting about him in that regard that I have chosen not to think too deeply about that side of him anymore. I didn't think too deeply about it back then, either. I knew it was bad for us, and for me; I knew it was dangerous and couldn't last. I knew that one of us would go off the deep-end, or I would out-grow him. But I didn't admit that stuff to myself; and I certainly didn't tell anyone else. We "partied", if I said anything about it at all.

I have done a lot of healing since he died, and a lot of personal reflecting on my life before and after his death. But there is still so much that I choose not to think about, or talk about. I find myself wanting to tell people that he was a good husband, even if he was possessive and mean when he drank too much; I find myself wanting to minimize the bad parts so people didn't think he was terribly unhealthy. But that feels so silly, since healthy individuals don't commit suicide.

It has brought up a little bit of the pain in my relationship with him; I am a little surprised at myself for still having this pain. I feel like the pain of dealing with his drinking was replaced by the pain of his death; feeling anger or sadness over his problems seems silly. Since I have managed to heal this far from his suicide, why should I feel that old pain from the dysfunction of our relationship?

Even as I feel so uncomfortable talking about the bad sides of Colin, I also like the challenge of doing something that makes me squirm emotionally; like the way picking at a scab feels good because it itches even though you know you're tearing your own wounds open, I want to do this because I want to see how much I can scratch at this wound before it bleeds.

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