Mountain Climbing

I am beginning to think about shutting down my blog. I started it at a very different time in my life. I have since climbed many mountains, and have fallen off many steep cliffs. And while I remember what life was like in the foothills, wind blowing my hair about, cheeks rosy from exertion, these eyes are not those naive eyes of yesteryear. I am another person. Back then, I discovered that when I wrote for an audience, I found a voice. The words poured forth from my fingers and brain. I couldn’t get enough. Then, as the mountains grew steeper and more treacherous, it became more and more difficult to find that voice. For a long time it was time that kept me from writing here.

Now it is something different. I no longer have any desire for an audience. Sometimes when a person climbs many mountains, and they fall off many cliffs, clinging to the edges with a lone finger, barely hanging on, each breath a tremor that could make them tumble to their death on the stones below, pieces of them don’t make it. Parts of them are not able to climb up onto that ledge when they manage to find their way back onto their path. In my case, I lost whatever part of my ego felt the need for an audience.

And so, here I am. When I write, I don’t want to share it with the world. I write for myself. When I write for an audience, I feel such an urge to censor that the writing becomes stilted and confined. I don’t like stilted and confined. It does not agree with me.

I have until October to make this decision. It is then that the annual renewal is due. I am mulling it over. I shall see.

Stuff and Things

It occurs to me that most people in our culture have lost sight of the fact that in chasing money, we are essentially chasing things. Someone wants a thing, and their desire for more money is the desire to have as many things as they want, when they want them. That’s what having more money brings. I’m not talking about the people at the very bottom of our capitalist triangle who have to struggle just to survive, those for whom a few dollars would mean the ability to stay very basically comfortable. I’m talking about any level above having what one needs to survive easily: a safe place to sleep, food, and health well-being. “Security” as it has been sold to us, is theoretically having enough money in the bank to ensure the safe place to sleep, food, and health. Yet for most it goes beyond that into wanting to have things. Ask anyone with dreams of riches and it is the lying on the beach or yacht anytime that they want, the clothes, the jewelry, the gadgets, the cars, and on and on, that fill their dreams. Pinterest is filled with photos of all the things that humans want. People will spend hours creating these online photo albums of all the stuff they desire. (In the meantime, while posting these things and dreaming about them, the interactions with humans and other non-human animals around them are limited.)

Yesterday I dropped off some stuff at the donation center. We are moving so we are getting rid of stuff. I have felt this immense urge to purge. What is all this stuff? The line at the place was cars deep, everyone ridding themselves of things, some of which had to have been wanted at some point. Either that or or they were ridding themselves of stuff someone gave them either out of a sense of duty to give, some obligation, or some other self-serving necessity. Perhaps for some the thing was given in love and received as such, but at this point, the thing is now being discarded, filling a warehouse, filling a landfill, being sold into places where the abundance of things is not as profuse as it is in the good, ol’ USA. Stuff, stuff, everywhere. In the meantime, we destroy the earth to build enormous buildings to house the things. We rape and pillage the land to carve roads and fill the land with things, things that will rot in piles long after we are gone.

A Dispiriting Decline

When one hits the age where things begin happening to their parents in the decline of old age, it is dispiriting. I see my mother declining and I’m not sure she will last the year. I can’t tell her this. She actually believes she is going to live into her hundreds, as many of our older relatives have. The difference between those long-lived ancestors, though, is that they were very active. My mother is not. She is not active. She has arthritic knees. She sits a lot. She ignores advice that tells her movement is better for arthritis and general well-being. She also has sleep apnea but refuses to wear her sleep apnea machine. She has now had a stroke. They say it came from plaque in her arteries. They want to give her drugs (after scraping the arteries clean), but tell her exercise is best. She won’t exercise. The sleep apnea may also have contributed, but she won’t use the machine. What was the point of going to the sleep clinic and figuring out she has sleep apnea if she won’t use the machine to help the sleep apnea? They said she had some of the worst sleep apnea they had ever seen. Not treating it can cause heart attacks and strokes. Does she want another stroke? Is she trying to kill herself by doing nothing?

I stand aside and watch this decline. It is disheartening, and as I said before, dispiriting. One cannot control another or make them do what they won’t do. I want to scream: Just get up and walk down your driveway, already! (The driveway is a mile long.) Yet this would be futile.

Fue Tile. Futile. Dispiriting. Disheartening. All these magnificent little words. I love the words. I do not love how their meanings affect me.

After I wrote this, I asked my mom directly about not using her sleep apnea equipment. She said that her sleep apnea went away because she slept on her side. I asked my friend Debbie, who is somewhat of an expert on sleep apnea, and she said that if she didn’t have the central system sleep apnea, it is possible that it did go away. I hope this is true. I know my mom did not get told my a physician that it was gone, but perhaps it did. Perhaps it did not cause her stroke.

Bummer

I love eggs. I ate two eggs this morning for breakfast. My body does not love eggs. It actually despises them. It is mad at me for eating the eggs. It is giving me hell for eating the eggs. I should not have eaten the eggs. My body is winning in deciding whether or not I get to eat eggs. Even though I love them, it says I cannot have them or it will rebel and I believe it. So no eggs.

Bummer.

What is a “Friend” Anyway?

I have a friend, I’ll call him Edward. We have been friendly for about five and half years now. We had a mutual friend, a woman named Jill who originally suggested I pursue Edward as a romantic partner. “He’s single. You’re single. You’re the same age. He’s a really nice guy. Go out with him.” I think she must have been telling him the same thing about me because he started asking me to go to lunch, etc. However, there was no love connection and that was fine with me. We never did anything that could be constituted as a “date” per se, just lots of lunches or meetings at coffee shops over the years.

I have enjoyed having Edward as my friend. We were both bankruptcy attorneys and connected around this. We would dabble in talk about other areas of our lives. We had lunch on a semi-regular basis. We used each other to bitch and complain sometimes when something made us mad, especially in bankruptcy. One trustee in particular kept us in conversation. I went through a boyfriend or two over the years. Sometimes I would complain about them too. He told me all about his nasty divorce, especially because a mutual lawyer friend had helped him out with it.

Edward traveled a lot to faraway places by himself. I would ask him, “You went to (exotic city) alone?” He would tell me that he had and that he preferred it this way. Because of work travel and these travels, he had many airline miles saved up and could get upgraded. I told him about a boyfriend I had had a few years ago who was in the Million Mile Club and how we traveled together and would get upgraded.

Last year, Edward got a job in Montana, moving him away from the Northwest. I knew he had been looking for something outside of the self-employed bankruptcy world because he called me from the road on the way to an interview up near Seattle. He did not want this job and was talking himself into the interview. Actually, I think when he called me on the way there, he had no preference one way or another. He was indifferent enough that he was not nervous about the job. He had applied on a whim and if he got it, great, he would consider relocating, but if not, no big deal either. He called me immediately after the interview to tell me just how horrible the job seemed and to laugh about the interviewers and their bland questioning of preprinted questions. We talked his whole way home.

Shortly after that, he really did get another government job, as an administrative law judge in Montana. He closed his law practice and moved away. We have maintained contact, mainly through texts, but sometimes calls. He had a judge training in Reno and called to tell me about it. It sounded funny to me, the subjects judges have to learn about. I send him screenshots of the Map App on my iPhone looking like a coronary the roads are so dark red, blood vessels twisting and covering the screen. He commiserates and thanks his lucky stars he is far away in Montana.

I did have coffee with one of his bankruptcy attorney friends a few months back. He had mentioned that Edward had been in town a couple of weeks before and the two had had lunch. This stung. I felt slightly hurt that Edward had been in town and had not called to have lunch or coffee with me. Then I reasoned that he had probably had limited time and couldn’t fit it in. I was planning to ask him about it, but then got busy and forgot.

Basically, we have had this friendship and I have considered him my friend, in spite of not having lunch when he was in town. Sometimes we communicate several times a day for a few days. Other times we go several weeks without communicating. If I’m with a client who is taking particularly long to read their documents, I will send him a text like this: Reading. Every. Single. Word. He knows what I mean. We have shorthand texts for stuff because we have sent so many texts over the years.

In any case, this fall I was at a hearing waiting for my client’s turn, my head buried in a book. I keep one ear attuned during my reading at hearings so that I can hear when they call my client’s name. At some point I became aware another attorney said Edward and Montana and engaged. I perked up my ears to listen. I thought perhaps they meant my friend Edward. His is a relatively common name (his real name is much more common than Edward). What other Edward would be in Montana? Unfortunately, they didn’t say any more. I finished my hearing and left. Was Edward engaged? I sent him a text and said hi. We chatted a bit and then I said I heard you were engaged. He didn’t respond to that one. I then said, If you are engaged, then congratulations. He said nothing in response. We texted a few days later about something else and it never came up again. I thought this was weird, but actually forgot about it during the busy holiday season and living my life.

Then I was in court again reading a book, half paying attention to the hearings, but mostly occupied and focused on my book. It’s been snowy off and on in Portland. I heard Edward’s name, and Montana. I half listened. Oh yes, the weather in Montana is worse than here so they deal with it better. Yada yada. Haven’t heard that 8 million times. We get it. Portland spends less on snowplows than places where it snows all winter. That’s fine with me. They should spend that money in other places. Old news. Then…Edward is a judge. He has a cushy job. He gets holidays paid. He leaves at five. Again, old news. I pulled out my phone and texted Edward: “They’re talking about you in court this morning.” Him: “Why?” Me: “You have winter weather and a cushy government job.” Him: “LOL” I turned back to my book.

Then… “His wife got a job with the state, too, so they both have the same days off.” Umm, what? His wife?!? I heard that. His wife got a job with the state, too??

I was completely taken aback upon hearing this. Clearly they were talking about my friend Edward in Montana. What made me feel taken aback was the fact that Edward is married and he never told me about it. And the guy who said this about the wife getting the job with the state too, said TOO, which means also, which means that Edward had had this girlfriend-fiance-wife before he left and moved to Montana over a year ago. She got a job too.

Not only did Edward not tell me about his wife, he didn’t ever mention he had gotten a girlfriend, or gotten engaged to her (and he ignored my texts about it), and then married her, and never once in our many, many conversations did he bring her up. Not once. He had a wedding. Weddings aren’t generally small affairs, and considering Edward is close to his family, I doubt it was an elopement, but even then, why not share?

Why?

Seriously. Why is this? I have been mulling over the existence of this wife ever since I heard about her. In the meantime, Edward has texted me. I haven’t brought it up because I don’t know how to. I’m not jealous that Edward has a wife; I am confused as to why Edward never told me. Is it because I’m female too? Does he think I want him for a husband? Does he want to keep his options open? I just don’t know and it’s weird.

I called a friend yesterday and described my friendship with Edward to her and then described what happened in the hearing. She was as baffled as I was and understood completely my confusion. She believes that he didn’t mention this wife (or the girlfriend and then the fiance’) because he wants to keep his options open, however slim. Maybe I’m naive, but that just seems ridiculous to me. He has to know we aren’t going to have a romantic relationship. We haven’t in our five and half years of knowing one another made any attempt at a romantic relationship. We live three states apart. Really, this can’t be it. And if this isn’t it, what is it?

Edward texted me this morning about the weather in Portland (it’s snowing, profusely). He then asked if I have hearings today (today is hearing day in Vancouver). We texted a bit. Throughout it all I kept thinking about his wife and wondering if she knows he’s texting me and if she is cool with it. Maybe that is why he doesn’t mention her, she would be jealous? But if she is jealous, why not tell me she exists? I can’t figure it. I thought about bringing it up, but I’m not sure how. It doesn’t seem to be the sort of thing to bring up via text, but it would be weird to call, too. “Um, hi, Edward. I have something to ask. Are you married?

How do I make him understand that isn’t the fact of the wife that bothers me, it’s the fact he didn’t tell me about the wife that bothers me. Why didn’t he tell me? It’s weird now. I thought we had the sort of friendship where we would tell each other about these kinds of things. We don’t have super deep, level 4 conversations, but we are beyond the weather, even though it’s mostly what we have talked about recently.

Maybe I’ll send him this blog post. Hey, Edward! What’s up? Why didn’t you tell me about your wife? Did you think I would throw myself on a pyre in grief that you were no longer available to me as a romantic partner? Do you want to keep your options open? Did you just forget to mention it and now it seems weird to bring it up? (Did it ever occur to you that I have had a couple of boyfriends in the last few years and even mentioned them on occasion so mentioning a girlfriend and then wife would be okay?)

I don’t know. I’ve been meaning to write about the discoveries I have been making about myself and friends. Too often I realize that people mean more to me than I do to them. People expect less from friendships than I do and I’m hurt and confused when they turn out to be less than what I thought. I know Edward and I have had conversations of depth, but we have had a lot of shallow ones, too. Maybe to him our friendship, or perhaps I should call it acquaintanceship, has been too shallow to mention major milestones like getting married. He discussed the pain of losing his dog with me. This is the sort of conversation that to me meant we were friends, but I should not have made such an assumption. I might not be the sort of person who would discuss my pain at the death of a dog with someone who is just an acquaintance, but that doesn’t mean that everyone is like that. I shouldn’t be hurt, but I am. Not because of the relationship he has with her, but because I thought I was more of a friend to him than I am. Add him to the pile. I’ve discovered it’s a theme in my life and he is just another piece of that puzzle.

A “Bowl”

When a restaurant puts the stuff patrons will eat in a bowl instead of on a plate, they call the dish a “bowl” and then charge more for it than if it had been on a plate.

Oh, another thing restaurants do, especially in Portland, is to sell “small plates.” They call them tapas so they and their patrons can pretend they’re multicultural. The idea behind “small plates” is to have a whole gang of people sit around a table with “small plates” and then take samples from each plate. It’s like one big Norman Rockwell painting or a movie where everyone has these big dinner parties and life is lively and splashy.

The only problem (well, one of many) is that most people eat in pairs or small groups that are not lively and splashy. Then you have this small table covered with a multitude of plates and there is nowhere to put anything. More often than not the plates have very little food on them, and certainly not enough to “share.” Also, if you’re like me and don’t eat a lot of what others eat, sharing isn’t really that appealing.

Basically the idea, I think, is to sell these “small plates” based on the marketing (you are a group of hip, culturally aware citizens eating together at a fancy restaurant with swiggles all over your plates!), knowing they can charge four times what the same four dishes on one bigger plate would have cost. You look at the menu and think, “Oh, it’s only $8.95 for a dish,” not realizing that it’s $8.95 per side, and you’ll end up paying 36 bucks for a plate of food. And since the portion sizes are smaller than they would have been on a bigger plate (allowing for fancy swizzling of sauce, etc.), you actually end up paying more because of that too. Overall, it’s just a big scam.

There was a restaurant we used to frequent frequently. They have gradually replaced all their meals in this fashion. They claim it gives “more choice” because you can mix and match your side dishes. No. All it does is make the whole enterprise vastly more expensive and the table more cluttered. We don’t like this. We don’t eat there anymore. Good for us and our wallets, bad for them. Or maybe not. Maybe they have other patrons who like the clutter and the cost.

Somehow this went from an observation on “bowls” to a diatribe on small plates. Funny how that goes.

Snark

Is it possible for people to admire someone for work they have done without being obsequious about it? Especially someone who has done work that is more famous than is common? It’s as if in an attempt to show respect, they become groveling fools.

I watched a video put out by an author/speaker whose work I admire. He is doing a series of them. I really enjoyed the video. It made me think about some heavy concepts in a new way. Good stuff, I thought. I thought to perhaps write a comment and express my gratitude to the author/speaker in the video. Then I read the other comments at the top of the thread and couldn’t do it. They were all so belly-baring submissive and unctuous, I couldn’t add my words to the list; I could not be so ingratiating and servile. Ick.

Another in the long line of perfect videos, FIRST NAME OF AUTHOR/SPEAKER! You just can’t say anything wrong! Your words are truly powerful! It’s too bad more people don’t agree with you and spread the word! The world would be a better place if everyone did! This is just awesome! Here’s a little anecdote from my own life to show how similar we are. Oh, and I hope you had a wonderful birthday back on December 8 (See? I know your birthday!). What would we do without you?

Find another victim?

The other part of these is the use of the first name of the author/speaker, as if the person is part of a first name relationship with them, and also to add a little story of their own to try and find such a connection. There is also the punctuating of every! single! sentence! with an EXCLAMATION POINT!! Because we are so EXCITED TOO!! A bouncing servility! That’s it.

I went back to the video that led to this diatribe and read through some of the comments for examples. I felt bad for the people writing them. For whatever reason they need to be this way. Who I am to rain on their parade? I realized I’m being snarky. I am. I’ll stop.