Tuesday, September 27, 2011

idiot whisperer need not apply

Sometimes, just when everything is going well - when work is ticking along, and there's no immediate BB emergency to focus on, and my sweetie is being his sweetest, and there are things to look forward to - some teeny tiny little nothing ... a tweet, an unexpected ex sighting, something on Facebook ... will tweak my 'people - ugh' response and the avalanche begins. 

I love people. I really really do. It's been a problem for a lot of my life that I truly love people and want the best for them, and get easily hurt because I think they don't give a rip about me. And so I've learned to choke it back a lot because I don't want my concern rejected. Blahdy blahdy blah boo hoo. 

But, there's this other side. A less loving side. A side that finds stupidity tiresome. A side that wants to flip off ignorant drivers and yell at people who talk in the theatre. A side that rolls its eyes so frequently and dramatically that it causes headaches. And, more to the point, a part that sometimes really doesn't like people, as much as I love them. It's like, I love the idea of people - the amazing good that humanity is capable of - and the reality of it makes me want to shove a sock in a loud-mouth's face. I am not the idiot whisperer. But oh so very very often I wish I were. 

And then, I'm disappointed in myself. Disappointed, and eventually disgusted. The gap between who I really truly am, who I think I should be, and how I show up in life sometimes throws me into such a mind-tangle that I forget where it started. A song starts looping in my head ... she ain't pretty she just looks that way!.It plays loud. And often it plays long. 


Tonight it was obvious - the leap from spark to wanting to avoid a person so much that I'd consider not doing something I want to do because they might be there, to hating myself for that reaction was so close to simultaneous that I could see it and interrupt the slide. It helps when the slide is fast and obvious. It's easier to rein in. 

But man it would be nice if it didn't start. If I wanted to help rather than judge people when they struggle with what seems simple to me. If I was sympathetic instead of impatient when I listen to the unrelenting chatty Cathys. Yes. That would be nice. And maybe I'd even like me. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

one hundred years of solitude: review

When I started reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez' One Hundred Years of Solitude, I was completely swept away by the damp poetry of Marquez writing, the immersive descriptions, the believable connected characters. And yet, for some reason, it took me six weeks to finish reading it. Somewhere between Jose Arcadio Buendia & Ursula Iguaran founding Macondo and the second or third generation, it got hard to read. And not just because this was the first book in I can't remember when to challenge my vocabulary, but because it was unpleasant. 

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I find it disorienting, in life or in literature, when something is both beautiful and repellent. It happens more often than I expect, and normally at those times we choose which side we see. Oil slicks on water. A moss-softened gravestone. The pristine white of dry bones. Richly textured descriptions of paradise polluted with the basest of human impulses. Stunningly beautiful women with hearts of stone. Tightly knit families with no ability to connect. Tropical paradises devoured by unrelenting hordes of insects.

I'm not really sure what to say about this book. It's a modern classic for a reason, and Marquez writing is entirely worthy of The Nobel Prize for Literature he won in 1982. Read it for the whimsy, the poetry, the flights of imagination. Or don't. Don't read it because of the murder, the mayhem, the insanity and the incest. 

But ... the beauty ... it's hypnotic. And everyone should experience hypnotic beauty at some point in their lives. Go out. Find it in a seashell. In a worn piece of beach glass. In the hand of your lover. And if you can't find it there, perhaps read One Hundred Years of Solitude and practice seeing it amid the ugliness of life. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

turn and face the strange*

I noticed over the past couple days, growing - really - since the big release last week of fear and my realisation that everything is as it should be and we will be okay, that there's a fluffy light cloud of melancholy following me around. Just a tinge, off to the side of my my day, that I couldn't quite nail down. I wouldn't even say melancholy, really, more like the sharper edge of nostalgia. 

Life ... is good. I have work that matters to me, a boyfriend who continually blows me away with love and laughter and adventures and fun and solidity, BB2 is making his life work with a great partner and a job he enjoys, and BB1 is getting ready to move on to his next step, again. We've been here before. And this time is different. 

Last year when we were at this point, with the BBs on their own and me learning to take care of myself and starting anew as a single empty-nester, it felt like a trauma had gotten us there. And in fact, as a family, we had been suffering the death by a thousand cuts and finally had said 'enough.' And now, after a little more trauma and some slow recovery, this is where we should be. This time it's time. 

So why the sadness? Because change is always a move away from the familiar, and the familiar had its own comfort in it. In these last few months, awkwardness aside, it's been nice to have BB1 close by. I'll miss him, like I have been missing BB2 for months.

And that's not the only change I've noticed - again, it's good change, but the constellations of my friendships are shifting. Old friends are moving forward in my life, others are fading away, and some new friends are shining bright. It's all apart of how life goes, and I've learned a lot this year about what I value in friendships, and what it means to me to be a friend. 

As my home status changes again, for the first time in my relationship with STG one of us won't have a roommate. That's exciting. And it's yet another change for me, and for us. Maybe it's a natural growth for where we're at.

Maybe that little cloud isn't melancholy. Maybe it's fatigue after what has been almost 18 months of change. I'm pretty sure there's some aphorism about the only time we aren't changing is when we're dead. And so, since change is unaviodable, I figure why not just find out how fun it can be to 'turn and face the strange'*!


* A little disclosure: I always thought the lyric in this song was 'turn and face the stage' - because obviously David Bowie wants people facing him when he's singing ... ha. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

am so

I said a while back in the Trust 30 posts that I'd start breaking down into eatable chunks the elephant that is finishing my novel. I have indeed been working on that, as well as a new non-fiction project. Somedays it feels like jogging in mud, but somedays I hit a river of clarity and it flows. The balance is encouraging.

I shared an older snippet in that July post, and I figured maybe I'd update you and share something from what I've been working on recently ... just for fun. And because I really like it - it kinda makes me giggle:
She broke suddenly. The overwhelming weight of his absence, hidden so long behind the shroud of his silence, did her in. It started with a quiet influx of air, and then a giant whooshing engulfed all she had thought she was, sweeping violently across the floor, removing his tattered, fart-smelling futon, the furry dog bed, the stain where she'd spilled her wine kissing him. It turned out, once the space dried and healed, she hadn't been swept away at all ... she'd just been cleaning the house some.
So ya. That's all I really wanted to say. Just in case you were wondering, what with all the super dramatic naval-gazey posts of late - yes, I am writing - I'm not as far on the novel as I said, but I had to get the non-fiction stuff out of my head. And I'm working. And I'm trying now and then to have a life.

But ya. I'm writing. And it feels good.

Friday, September 16, 2011

bad air out

I saw my counselor the other day for the first time in about a month. A lot of life has happened since we last chatted - more than I could catch him up on fully - and it was good to check in. To say out loud there has been good and bad but definitely more good, and that I'm learning again that the good is real too. 

We talked about some impending changes that, although I am trying to believe they are the right steps at the right time, still have me slightly terrified. He let me go on for a bit about what's scaring me, and then he said "You do know these are all good things, right." And I said I wasn't so sure. And he said "But, you do know you'd be okay, right? That even if the worst you can imagine actually happened, you'd be okay. That people live through terrible terrible tragedies and end up being okay?" 

And I had to be honest - I didn't that I'd be okay. And I honestly didn't know, until he asked the question, that I didn't think I'd be okay. That if the worst I can imagine came true, I wouldn't actually die - or worse, go on living and never get over the pain. And when I realised it ... my entire body shifted. 


I sighed from the very marrow of my bones. I let out months of stale air and tension and stagnancy. He just smiled until I was settled, and then he explained to me how the nervous systems work and why that sigh is a physiological response that signals the reaching of some soul truth (no, he didn't use such airy-fairy language ... I did) and that anytime I'm working through a fear or an anxiety or dismantling a thought I use to beat myself that big sigh is the signal I've found the truth. 

For some reason knowing there's a scientific fact behind what is otherwise just an unusual breath was somehow reassuring. But even more reassuring was the realisation that spawned the sigh: I'm going to be okay. No matter what else happens - and really, it could all be good from here on out - who am I to say? - I will be okay. 

And who knows - the changes coming up could be exactly what we all need. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

white cotton

There's a luxury to white that entices me.

Dare I wear a white sweater and eat carrot soup, or slurp saucy spaghetti, knowing as I do my clumsiness and white cotton's magnetic powers. It's tempting fate in a casual cottony kind of way.

Lush white towels - fluffy and broad - hang in my bathroom, but I fear sometimes to use them. Instead I wipe my face that might still have traces of mascara on the thread-worn yellow towel to the side, convinced that it's roughness is a good form of exfoliant.

A crisp white sheet of paper contains all the possibilities of the universe, the emptiness itself is an invitation. (I suppose I almost never write on paper made of cotton, but the possibility is just as present on tree pulp).

And bedsheets. Oh for the splendour of crisp white bed sheets, dried in the sun and fresh air, floating down over my body at bedtime.

One could never have nightmares on a bed like that.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

removing the wall

So I've started work on a new offline project, and even though it's offline, and I'm not even deciding what shape it's going to take until I get the words out, it seems I can't stop censoring myself.

The document I'm drafting it in is password protected. No one has access to this computer but BB1 and I, and he can't access the file. Yet I can't stop censoring myself. I know what I want to say ... and I know it wants to be said ... but something keeps getting in the way.

Even when I was talking about the project with Dive Moe I was more open than I'm being in my writing. It's frustrating, really. There's no point in writing my story if I can't even admit the truths to myself. It's like my default way of communicating has become ... filtered.

Then again - there's no deadline. I can write what I can write today. And tomorrow I can peel back another layer. Maybe that'll work. Maybe step by step I'll remove the dam.

I know this isn't much of a post. I just wanted to tell y'all what's up.


Monday, September 12, 2011

in praise of spontaneity

This morning STG and I woke up, looked outside at the already blue sky, and let our respective bosses know that we were pulling an audible - a last minute request to use some of our remaining holidays and spend a day in the sun. It'll be fall soon, we'll trade our shockingly blue skies for months of gray. It's great to have the freedom to choose a day like today instead. 

It was glorious - we hopped in the car and headed out on the beautiful 'Pacific Marine' circle, a regional highway that ranges from the oceanside, past quaint small towns, through extensive parks, and active logging areas, by rural farmlands, and a beautiful lake/river side all in a day's drive that starts and ends at home. 

I can sometimes be an over-planner, so a day like today is a great relief for me. Instead of going to work we laughed. We chatted. We explored. We shared some of our fears and more of our dreams. We kept our eyes peeled for the usual island wildlife - deer, a raccoon, a seal. We picnicked by the lake, after which STG swam while I laid on a rock in the sun. We lived, for 12 hours, without an agenda or maps or our smart phones or Twitter updates. 

And then, on a side road, on a path less taken to a place I'd not normally end up on my 'get in the car and go straight until you get there' way we experienced magic. STG pulled over just because it was a particularly pretty spot in the river, and as he was stopping we saw sleek dark shapes in the water - river otters. A family of 4 of them swimming, fishing, coming ashore - just going about their lives, until they noticed our rapt attention, two cameras clicking and whirring and recording everything from the minute splash of their tails to the crunch of their  fishy dinner. 

Eventually they tired of our stares and let us know it was time to move on. In fact, one hissed at STG. So we got back in the car, amazed at our luck, and headed down the road for dinner. By the time we were re-fueled, a stunning moon was climbing into the sky. We continued down now dusky side roads holding hands and savouring a day that was fast becoming a special memory the closer we got to my door.  

I learn from STG every day about myself and how I relate to myself and to other people. How to love and be loved. How to hold on when the going gets tough and how to relax and appreciate when the way is smooth. And today I learned, once again, to go where our hearts lead. That plans can change. And that magic can be right around the corner if you just take a moment to look. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

rusted broken suffocating silence

Mrs. Lady came for dinner last night and it was a lovely evening - great food. Great wine. Great conversation. We were talking about trauma and moving past it, and I was shocked to realise that for some reason - even though my master's thesis uses trauma theory and bearing witness as it's theoretical model so really I should know this - I haven't been willing or able to tell my story. And I said to her, I wonder what it would be like to write what I really want and need to say instead of limiting myself to what won't piss people off. 

It's not a new theme. It's always been a better idea for me to round the edges off life's sharpness than to approach it straight on. I euphemise. I poeticise. I hide and  ambiguate. I lie, when it comes right down to it and I deem that it's in everyone's best interest. 

Only it's never in my best interest. Not really. I'm suffocating in words. Choking back the stories I can't tell. Buried under mountains of accusations and assumptions and fears and recriminations. And, nobody wants to hear it. Not really. People want me to suck it up. To move on. To stop taking things so personally. To not have my life be about me. They want me to focus on the positive. To share my happy shiny love story. To look forward instead of back.

Only none of the nightmare is in the past. It's in the corner of my living room. It's waiting in the dark when I turn out the light and lay in bed with my eyes wide open. It's in the garage rafters taunting me. It's wandering the street hungry waiting for the next time to strike. It's the squeaky voice of every lie, and the fearful ear of my believing them. It's the smile that never reaches my eyes. And while I'm busy protecting everyone from the truth, no one is protecting me - I can't escape it. It's the water I drown in. 
Change is coming. It has to come. I have to let the words out before my throat collapses from the strain of holding them in. If only I knew how. If only I had the lessons in honesty that I have in elocution. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

where do they keep the batteries?

Energy by Julia E (Trust 30 Prompt 30)

“The world belongs to the energetic.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • It’s easy to blame our failure to meet our goals or to live our dream lives on a lack of energy, and we don’t always stop to think about the quality of energy in our lives. Yet we can choose to create and manage our own energy flow.
  • Think of an instance when you’ve been so involved in an activity that you’ve lost track of time, and then identity the passions and energies you were feeding. Who was there with you? What were you doing? What will you do to make time for moments like that one more often?
It's my last Trust 30 post. Back to making things up and hoping for inspiration throughout the day. To be honest, there've been more than a few Trust 30 prompts that I kind of squished/selected/modified to say what I already wanted to say, but it's my blog and I can write what I want to, right?

This is a great take-away post though. One of the things that I am often lacking, and tend to blame on external forces, is energy. Energy to get up earlier in the morning. To practice yoga again. To walk more often to work. Energy to cook a good meal. 

I think it's because I don't eat well enough. Don't exercise enough. Because I spent too much time with other people. Or not enough. Because my job is stressful. Or boring. Or too much or too little. There's always something out there to blame on the lack of energy. 

A few years ago I took a seminar on fitness, and one of the key tenets was that you don't get energy by storing it up or waiting for it - you get it by going out and doing something. And that's certainly proven true for me - the more I do something, the more I want to do it. And the more energized I am by doing it. Until I'm not. I get tired of it ... not unlike Don Draper, I mostly like the beginnings of things. I bore easily, at least of activities. Usually, if it's a sport in particular, my interest lasts just long enough to buy the equipment. 

Anyhow, I know that at any given moment I have the ability to increase my energy level. Yes, taking better care of my body will help, but there's also a mental component that I can access at anytime. 

The real question, for me, is "why don't I?"

Friday, September 2, 2011

another kind of roller coaster

Overcoming Uncertainty by Sean Ogle (Trust 30 Prompt 29)

Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Write down a major life goal you have yet to achieve or even begin to take action on. For that goal, write down three uncertainties (read: fears) you have relating to each goal. Break it down further, and write down three reasons for each uncertainty. When you have three reasons for your fear, you’ll be able to start processing the change because you know where the fear stems from. Now you’ll be able to make a smaller changes that push you towards your larger goal. So begins the process of “trusting yourself.”
Blah blah blah about goals ... whatever ... but peace? Trust? Principles? Those are things I can sink my teeth into. STG and I are leaving in the morning for a weekend trip. No biggie, usually - spending time together is something we are very very good at. But this is a special weekend - his kids are coming with us and BB2 and his Sweetie are meeting us during the daytimes as well. It's my first overnight with the mini-STGs, and their first time meeting either of my BBs. We're going into high energy, high input, high traffic fun at the Vancouver Aquarium and the PNE.

And I'm scared spit-less. Scared no-clothes-packed-yet avoidy. Scared ice-cream-for-dinner nauseous. 

What am I scared of? 
  • That I'll get over-peopled, eat crap food, not mind my mood and end up either screaming or crying
  • That somewhere over the course of the weekend the mini-STGs will admit that they really don't like me and want their dad to themselves
  • That BB2 will feel anxious or jealous or replaced and shut down and abandon the rest of us
Three reasons I'm afraid I'll get over-peopled, eat crap food, not mind my mood & end up either screaming or crying: 
  • it's all just a little bit of history repeating ;-) - I have a history of getting overwhelmed and forgetting what really matters in the moment - and what really matters is a great family weekend where we all relax, have fun, create some great memories, and get to know each other better
  • I know that when I forget to eat at least one protein rich meal, I get weeping & take things personally, and I'm not sure that the PNE has a wide selection of healthy gluten-free foods that'll stabilise my blood sugars
  • I really want everyone to have an amazing weekend, and the pressure of wanting to make it all perfect is always a great set-up for being upset with it's not perfect
Three reasons I'm afraid that somewhere over the course of the weekend the mini-STGs will admit that they really don't like me and want their dad to themselves. 
  • I've never dated someone with kids before and even though I'm a mom this is new territory and I feel like I don't know what I'm doing
  • I like these kids ... and nobody wants to be disliked by someone they like ... and I want them to be relaxed and have fun and enjoy the weekend without there being any awkwardness
  • I know how hard it was on everyone when I dated people the BBs didn't like ... I don't want any of us to go through that
Three reasons I'm afraid BB2 will feel anxious or jealous or replaced and shut down and abandon the rest of us.
  • We've had some good times as a family - but you can only get so much juice off of a trip to Disneyland that happened 11 years ago and there have been a lot of lean times in between and a lot of summers where no trips happened. If I was him I could resent being a day visitor on this weekend while I hang out at the hotel without him. On the other hand BB1 isn't coming at all ... 
  • BB2 and I sometimes spark each other. We're alike in some really really great ways and have some really fascinating conversations. We're also both stubborn know-it-alls who get offended when people don't just take our word for things. As in fear 2, it matters to me that he has fun, that he feels wanted and accepted for who he is, and that he enjoys being there
  • BB2 is 19. He lives in his own great apartment in another town. I don't get to see him often enough, and I hear from him even less. I don't want anything getting in the way of our time together this weekend - who knows how many more weekend like this there will be?
I know that STG will say "just be yourself ... relax ... it'll all work out" and I know it's actually easy enough to do that. Really, who goes to the Aquarium, where the giant pacific octopus has just given birth to 300+ baby octopuses, and get's cranky? Who wouldn't smile and laugh at the otters holding hands, and be awestruck watching the belugas in the underwater viewing chamber? Who could be upset on a giant wooden roller coaster or staying in a jacuzzi suite hotel room? I trust us - I trust the look in STG's eyes and his knowing when to pull me closer and when to let me breathe a little. And the principles behind this weekend - the family time, the memory making, the adventuring - well that's just what I'm about. It gives me peace to remember that. We could have done separate holidays, but we want this holiday. 

It's going to be an amazing weekend ... and now that I wrote out what I've been freaking out about today, and what in fact ate an entire pint of caramel pecan sundae ice cream for dinner just seems so silly now. Silly, and really good training for the food at the PNE! 

Wanna know one more thing I'm scared of and am TOTALLY going for this weekend? Riding the Corkscrew - even if it means digging my fingernails into STG's forearm and screaming until I pop a blood vessel in my face. 'Cuz that'll be fun for all of us, right? :) 
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