Lasting for a Very Short Time

What happened to the young woman who cleaned her house from top to bottom once a week? Who if she saw a repair necessary, fixed it immediately instead of walking by it for weeks or months before getting around to it? Who finished moving into a place within two days, TWO DAYS! including putting all the photos on the wall? Who made dinner every night, or most every night?  Who always sent real paper cards for every birthday and every holiday to everyone in her address book and sent thank you cards in under 48 hours? Who even into adulthood had so much to say on this blog, she was typing late into the night or during the day when she was supposed to be working? Who had time to read other blogs and even made pen pals with other bloggers? Where did she go? I know she’s in here. Somewhere.

I would not trade my children for the world. I wouldn’t trade their littleness for anything either. Milla’s early childhood passed so quickly, like a breeze, or a hummingbird flitting by. Here, here, try to catch it, then not, and gone like a sigh. Now I want to hold onto every second of Isabel’s babyhood, but I find I’m losing that battle and not getting anything done in my own life either. The day passes. Have I learned any more Spanish or French? Not enough. Have I practiced my cello? Not enough. Have I written anything that is truly what I need to express. No. Gone, gone. Life is so short. I am grateful I finally realized about ten years ago that I could not waste my life watching television. It’s too ephemeral, time. I don’t want to have spent it on something as useless as t.v. Yet there in the cupboard sits the knitting project I started and didn’t finish, the fur ball guinea pig I was going to make, the sewing I haven’t completed, even without television, again. And the days were not filled with productivity. I did not save the world. I didn’t make a difference in any life except perhaps that of my children, and that doesn’t seem enough. Maybe my standards are too high. Maybe I too much know the limits of our existence. Maybe maybe, but I just don’t think I am doing it well enough.

Here I am again at the end of a long day and the enthusiasm I felt in the morning for all I could accomplish has filtered off, as I sat waiting at that light, as I drove through traffic, as I returned to the pet store yet a fifth time in as many weeks in an attempt to find a water bottle for my guinea pig that would not leak. And the bathroom wall did not get repaired. And the floors are still gritty. And the pictures are still not hung And the dust is that much thicker on the shelves in my living room. But Isabel is asleep beside me, and I did read three books to her before bed, and she is content. And I did run. And I did write these words and the word “and” more times than I probably should have in order to turn out elegant prose. But such is life. Maybe I need to stop trying to ascribe a grade to it. Maybe the young woman who could do all those things before is still here, she just doesn’t feel like bothering to get an A+ anymore when B or even B- seems adequate. As long as it’s not an F, I suppose I can live with that.

This is Life and How it Goes Sometimes (hopefully without a bad soundtrack)

I wish when movie makers make movies and they want their movies to seem “fresh” and “modern” that they wouldn’t use music that will be dated in under a decade, especially when the movie really isn’t that bad, but the music makes the whole thing distracting. A couple examples of this? Top Gun. Oh gawd, that music is rotten and dated. Roxanne, same thing. Reality Bites. Yep, you got it. Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad. A theme in these three actually is bad saxxy jazz. Not good saxxy jazz, but baaaad jazz. It’s so distracting. All of these films have okay music mixed in, usually classics that stand the test of time. But those transitional melodies that aren’t really any songs anyone listens to, that were probably made just for the movie, long horn solos to show us this is a place to feel something? The worst.

And now for the non sequitur from my musings about lame movie music. This has been an interesting week. Guess all those astrological prognostications about funny business in the sky maybe apply to me. When faced yesterday with the realization that certain people in my life were capable of Machiavellian treachery, my initial response was disbelief. I finally decided late in the evening that continuing to chant “I don’t believe it,” was not going to remedy the situation, nor was “why me?” In an effort to root out all personal hypocrisy, I asked myself when I have been less than honest, what I have done that might make another shudder in disbelief. I do not want to make anyone feel the way I felt upon this discovery. The goal, going forward, is to behave as honorably as possible in all circumstances because all I can only control is my behavior and my reactions. So now I pick up the pieces and move ahead, knowing what I know and knowing who I’m dealing with. It certainly makes life interesting.

During all this, somewhat in a dither, I called my counselor. She pointed out that when people are operating from fear, they do some mighty unpleasant things. Fear and greed, maybe? In any case, she asked if I was feeling afraid and I had to admit that yes, I am. Part of me is fine, moving forward, setting up shop. The other part of me is scared shitless. How do we root this out of ourselves? Maybe it isn’t possible. Maybe it’s just enough to go ahead anyway in spite of being afraid? I don’t know the answer. I’ll go read my Pema Chodren book on such things and see if she has any advice. I don’t like the unpleasantness of it all, though. Not a bit. But this is life and how it goes sometimes.

Princess Slaying Dragons

I had a dream and it opened my eyes. So funny how this happens sometimes, during sleep or its edges our brains open and admit ideas we cannot consider during the day when the mind is wearing a suit, playing the daytime role and maintaining its vigilance. Yes, it keeps us operating, but in its watchfulness it keeps up walls that can block out the useful too.

In the dream, drifting there in the foggy place before I was awake, I saw her wearing a ninja scarf and holding out a sword, ready to battle with me. I stood and looked at her, then turned and walked away. She stood there holding out the sword as if in protection, but I had no business with her, and her sword would not protect her. I took up the hands of my children and we walked a path up the side of the mountain.

She says she is certain that with a tiara and cape she could conquer the world. She says that she is fierce, a ninja of the good and awesome. She sees herself as a brave warrior, protecting victims and innocents, and that she is doing so from strength. Yet I understand that all this external valor really masks of an almost pathological, fundamental sense of insecurity, which may be so buried she isn’t even aware it is there. Deep down, in the places she may not even visit, she does not believe that she is worthy. As long as she maintains the facade, as long as no one else can see this truth, perhaps she too can forget what she really feels, deep in these hidden crevices of her soul.

Recently, I communicated directly with her and she did not like this at all.  She believed that I was delusional and therefore cut off any communication, believing that she did so from power, from strength. I am superior and you are not worthy of my time, the action said. I am better than you.

The truth though, was that I made her uneasy because I had already been somewhere she has not yet been willing to go. At a level she cannot comprehend with her mind, she knew this. Yet the hidden place deep within her understood. It knew that I was facing this fear, was staring it down, was climbing the mountain and learning to ignore the battles that do not matter, and this knowledge terrifies her in that fundamental, unconscious place. She does not understand that I was not challenging her at all, and would turn away from unnecessary battles with her because real power comes from the realization of inner strength, not from the slaying of a perceived adversary. What she truly needs to understand is that I am not her foe, and that her only true enemy is herself, that a cape and tiara will not give her the power to conquer the world, but that really loving herself will give her the strength to realize she doesn’t even have to fight.

I wish her well on this journey.

Softening the Edges of My Rage

Have you ever wished for someone’s demise?  Have you ever hated with such intensity that if the object of your derision were to meet with an untimely accident you would have to hope there would be for you an alibi, because such an accident would draw suspicion upon you?  I have been there twice.  It is not a comforting place to be.

The first was the sociopathic girlfriend of my ex.  She wanted to destroy me and in her attempts, I would imagine my revenge to help me cope.  There were moments where I would fantasize her death, giving myself the satisfaction of picturing a silvery knife so sharp, its blade razor thin slipping along the surface of her neck, aligning with skin and veins, blood seeping and pooling around her nape.  At other moments I divined her foot, uselessly pressing a brake line that had been cut, her car careening helplessly over a guardrail and smashing into a tree.

Eventually I learned to circle the wagons against this woman and she turned her attentions elsewhere, but not before making my life a living hell.  After a time the revenge fantasies ceased and life continued not quite as before; I carried a little cloud about me for a while.  I needed redemption.  I’m not sure it ever came, but I did move to a new place where I could remove her from my head. She took up too much space there for a time.

In recent months I move in and out of hatred again.  This one certainly takes more space than is deserved or warranted.  For every moment it is in my head, I leave no space for love or creativity.  It doesn’t come often, but when it does, it fills me with the intensity of a raging conflagration, burning and spitting and roiling.  No wonder hell is described as fire; hating someone is a sort of hell and it blisters and scalds.  I know enough pop psychology to know that such intense hatred only harms the one who is feeling it.  On an intellectual level I understand its ramifications, and so I bend my body into yogi poses, pound my feet in Nike sneakers, force my mind away from conversations that can have no solution, breathe down into the soles of my feet.  It works–most of the time.  But then it doesn’t and with it I must contend again.

Into this hatred happened a very young, very naive and stupid girl.  She was like some desperate and obsequious puppy, hoping to be liked, having no idea what the hell she had stumbled into.  I wanted to kick her.  I had no desire to befriend this naive creature trying so hard to be nice.  I wanted to fold her in half, destroy her hopefulness, rub her face in the anguish and rage she could not know or understand.  She tripped along, coy and carefree, like a puppy with her tongue lolling, tail wagging between her legs, hoping I would be friendly. Because she came from the one I so despised, I hated who she was and what she represented before she ever said a word.  I wanted her to back away, to get out, to leave what she had found.  She was not welcome.  She had no business.  I wanted her to go and to take her syrup with her.  After I aimed several poison darts in her direction, she started to get the idea.  For a moment I felt sorry for her and tried to warn her against where she was headed, but she wanted none of that, and nipped at me.  For this nip, I bit.  Hard.

I have been advised to write, to rend this vitriol from my veins.  Write she says.  Write.  It doesn’t matter what you say, just write.  If you can place this things that are in your head in a place outside of you then you will come to a place where they no longer matter.  Write.  Remove them from you.  Link them to someplace else.  And so I do.  I have for today for this moment softened the edges of the rage.

Happy New Year Musings

I got a headline in my email inbox that said It Will Never be 2008 Again.  Well, it will never be this moment again, or this one, or this one.  We have all these silly human traditions to mark the passage of time, yet time passes every moment. Each one is a new beginning and an ending.  That moment is the future, now it is now, now it is over.

And on and on.  Every year I mull over this curious holiday celebrating what is essentially the same moment as previous, but we label it as new, give a party, scream and shout, and have another method of categorizing our time.  It does its job, to some extent anyway.

Obama and the Palin Effect by Deepak Chopra

I just had to post this here because it is so well written:

Obama and the Palin Effect
by Deepak Chopra
http://www.chopra.com/node/1064

Sometimes politics has the uncanny effect of mirroring the national psyche even when nobody intended to do that. This is perfectly illustrated by the rousing effect that Gov. Sarah Palin had on the Republican convention in Minneapolis this week. On the surface, she outdoes former Vice President Dan Quayle as an unlikely choice, given her negligent parochial expertise in the complex affairs of governing. Her state of Alaska has less than 700,000 residents, which reduces the job of governor to the scale of running one-tenth of New York City. By comparison, Rudy Giuliani is a towering international figure. Palin’s pluck has been admired, and her forthrightness, but her real appeal goes deeper.

She is the reverse of Barack Obama, in essence his shadow, deriding his idealism and turning negativity into a cause for pride. In psychological terms the shadow is that part of the psyche that hides out of sight, countering our aspirations, virtue, and vision with qualities we are ashamed to face: anger, fear, revenge, violence, selfishness, and suspicion of “the other.” For millions of Americans, Obama triggers those feelings, but they don’t want to express them. He is calling for us to reach for our higher selves, and frankly, that stirs up hidden reactions of an unsavory kind. (Just to be perfectly clear, I am not making a verbal play out of the fact that Sen. Obama is black. The shadow is a metaphor widely in use before his arrival on the scene.) I recognize that psychological analysis of politics is usually not welcome by the public, but I believe such a perspective can be helpful here to understand Palin’s message. In her acceptance speech Gov. Palin sent a rousing call to those who want to celebrate their resistance to change and a higher vision

Look at what she stands for:
•    Small town values — a nostaligic return to simpler times disguises a denial of America’s global role, a return to petty, small-minded parochialism.
•    Ignorance of world affairs — a repudiation of the need to repair America’s image abroad.
•    Family values — a code for walling out anybody who makes a claim for social justice. Such strangers, being outside the family, don’t need to be needed.
•    Rigid stands on guns and abortion — a scornful repudiation that these issues can be negotiated with those who disagree.
•    Patriotism — the usual fallback in a failed war.
•    “Reform” — an italicized term, since in addition to cleaning out corruption and excessive spending, one also throws out anyone who doesn’t fit your ideology.

Palin reinforces the overall message of the reactionary right, which has been in play since 1980, that social justice is liberal-radical, that minorities and immigrants, being different from “us” pure American types, can be ignored, that progressivism takes too much effort and globalism is a foreign threat. The radical right marches under the banners of “I’m all right, Jack,” and “Why change? Everything’s OK as it is.” The irony, of course, is that Gov. Palin is a woman and a reactionary at the same time. She can add mom to apple pie on her resume, while blithely reversing forty years of feminist progress. The irony is superficial; there are millions of women who stand on the side of conservatism, however obviously they are voting against their own good. The Republicans have won multiple national elections by raising shadow issues based on fear, rejection, hostility to change, and narrow-mindedness

Obama’s call for higher ideals in politics can’t be seen in a vacuum. The shadow is real; it was bound to respond. Not just conservatives possess a shadow — we all do. So what comes next is a contest between the two forces of progress and inertia. Will the shadow win again, or has its furtive appeal become exhausted? No one can predict. The best thing about Gov. Palin is that she brought this conflict to light, which makes the upcoming debate honest. It would be a shame to elect another Reagan, whose smiling persona was a stalking horse for the reactionary forces that have brought us to the demoralized state we are in. We deserve to see what we are getting, without disguise.

mary jane white and red

Mary jane red and white, smoke a grape through a pipe. Mary jane white and red, eat a chocolate chip instead.

These days have been filled with beautiful moments. I keep forcing myself to live in the moment because I do not want to lose them. I will miss these moments when they are gone; I do not want to spend them thinking about a time that has not yet arrived.

I am in a room next door to a room where Man is playing music. Good music. Tight. I like it. It’s nice to be able to sit in here and play around on the computer and write while simultaneously hearing music. He’s doing a little piano solo now on keyboards. He’s got it set to an organ sound, plus he’s playing some left handed key bass as well. This appears to be a good and appreciative crowd. Their applause seems genuine and interested. I peeked in and saw some heads bobbing. That’s always a good sign. I just can’t get it when I see people listening to music and they seem not to feel it at all, especially a swinging jazz quartet with an amazing piano player.  Actually, all the players sound really good.  I’ll go in and listen from there in a few, but being in here is nice too.  Mellow.

Right now is one of those moments when I wish I drank coffee and could. I feel like lying down and taking a nap. I feel like I’ve had a sugar crash, but I haven’t eaten much sugar. I’m sleepy. Well this is a crappy post. It’s my pitiful attempt at showing up, but I’m too tired so I think I’ll go take a nap on the indoor outdoor carpet and dream of the sun.

Brain Robber

Insomnia is cruel.  Like an invisible burgler it crawls through the window of your brain robbing you of sleep.  The parts for sleep may all be there, but insomnia has stolen them.  You can try the tools, valerian root, guided imagery, good hard exercise during the day, earplugs, white-noise machines, eye covers, making certain not to drink any liquid before 8, but they operate like an average casino against Danny Ocean.  They just don’t work.

I manifest stress as insomnia.  I have for years.  Sometimes it feels as if I have spent as much time staring at the walls and ceiling in the dark as I have during the day.  I have learned to manage stress and all the techniques for its alleviation.  Above all, I have learned not to sweat the small stuff because it’s the small stuff that makes the big stuff even bigger.  Because I have had insomnia off and on for years, I have of course read all about it, in books and on the internet.  I have swapped stories with my other insomniac friends.  I learned there are two primary types of insomnia:  one in which the insomniac cannot fall asleep and the other where the insomniac has little difficulty drifting off, but awakens in the middle of the night and cannot go back to sleep, then finally falls into a deep sleep right before it is time to get up.  This makes getting up and getting moving extremely difficult.  I have the second type.

I recognize different facets of insomnia.  If my brain is running in circles, I hear the same song over and over and over like a broken record, and I know I have to find some way to break the cycle to get back to sleep.  An insomniac friend told me of a technique whereby you roll your eyes back and forth while closed, mimicking REM sleep. This works in some instances, but only for the brain running kind of insomnia.  Other times my brain isn’t running in circles, it is just awake, moving from thought to thought.  In this instance, I try to focus very heavily on where I am:  the pillow, the blankets, being comfortable, being warm.  The only problem with this method is that if I have to go to the bathroom, it becomes immediately obvious.

I normally have a vivid, photographic and strong audial memory, but it disappears when I have not been able to sleep.  I turn into a zombie after a few days of this misery.  Staring into space, missing words, forgetting things.  It’s terrible.  Because I knew this about myself, I knew that if I was able to sleep while taking the bar exam, I would pass.  If I did not sleep, I would not pass.  It was as simple as that.  I had the experience of hundreds of tests prior to go on, as well as horse show competitions.  I knew my performance depended on my ability to sleep.  Because of this, I went to a hypnotist three times before taking the bar exam.  It worked.  I slept.  I passed.

Insomnia has not been nearly as big a problem for me for some time as it used to be.  I think my body just became so used to outside stressors it gave up even bothering to respond to them.  I’m sure my cortisol levels were through the roof.  But at some point, stuff really didn’t bug me anymore.  Some person pulls in front of me in their car.  Ah well, it’s not me, it’s them.  The dog tracked in poop?  Okay, guess I’ll clean that up.  I don’t know.  I suppose it just did not seem worth it to ruin a moment getting all worked up about something meaningless, something that would increase my stress level, and ultimately impede my ability to sleep.  I have even learned to relax about insomnia, and that step alone seems to have been the biggest contributor to ridding myself of it.  I wake up in the middle of the night.  Okay, fine.  Guess I’ll lie here.  I’ll be fine tomorrow.  And so it’s been.

Only now I have insomnia again and it is different.  First of all, I can’t go to sleep.  Falling asleep has never been so consistently difficult for me.  Then once I do fall asleep, it’s fitful.  I awake easily and also awaken at my old insomnia wakening time of 3 or 4 a.m.  And it is like I have multiple facets of insomnia manifesting at the same time.  The brain is running in circles and active.  Plus I have been getting anxious about having insomnia, and I haven’t been anxious about insomnia in years.  Last night for instance, I finally reached that relaxed point between sleep and wakefulness when my brain interceded with the thought, What if I don’t fall asleep? With that, I was instantly awake.  Damn brain.  Shut up already!  What is that?  Why did it do that to me?  And so it went for what felt like hours.  Time always feels longer when you are trying to go to sleep.  I finally did fall asleep, but I woke up several times.  This morning when the alarm went off it was torture to struggle out of bed.

So here I am.  I know what is going on.  I have a pile of bills and I can’t pay them.  I have dozens of outstanding job applications, even for mundane positions, and no one is calling.  My house is for sale and I need for it to sell so I can leave here.  I try not to get too excited about leaving, but it is hard not to want to escape when it feels like nothing works.  It doesn’t matter if the approach is to lay low for a while or go gung ho for a while or somewhere in between, nothing works.  Maybe I have been cursed.  But I don’t go around feeling that way.  I figure life hands you stuff, you deal with it.  It doesn’t help to go all martyr and negative and lament a lousy life.  I can want to leave more than anything and see if it’s better somewhere else, but I’m not going to ruin this moment hating it.  Only it seems my body hasn’t gotten the message.  It’s freaking out on me even as the mind says no.

I asked my counselor about this.  Why is it, I say, that my body is rebelling?  My mind is cool with this.  I’m getting these trials to become a stronger person.  I’m growing. I’m fine.  She says it is an enormous amount of stress not to be able to pay your bills because it goes to fundamental security.  Okay, fine.  I get that.  But if I’m not stressing about it when I’m awake, I don’t need to when I’m asleep either.  What is the point of getting to the point where you don’t sweat the small stuff when you are awake if your body freaks out when you’re supposed to be asleep?  I suppose it is something to do with the stress not necessarily being small stuff, but I just don’t want to sweat that either.  It’s not fun.

So I’ll keep on keeping on.  I’m sure this is a rambling incoherent post because I am kind of like a drugged person, I’m so tired.  I stop periodically and stare at the lamp.  I pause because I’ve forgotten a word.  I actually had to spell check thief.  That’s sad.  For me it’s sad. And then I come to the end and have nothing further to say.

All the Wittle Animals and Adam

My friend wrote this.  I thought it was such a funny story, I had to post it.

Once upon a time, God got an itch to create himself some little planet.  Yeah.  And on the planet he put all the wittle animals, some shrubbery, and Adam.  Oh, and then he turned on the light.  And then he rested.  Yeah.  And Adam was lonely so he ripped out a rib and created a woman.  Yeah.  And then God made sure that Adam and Eve were stupid and wouldn’t question anything.  Yeah.  So then, there was a snake, a talking snake, that persuaded Eve to eat an apple.  Yeah.  And then, well, then everything went to hell (woman’s fault, you know).  And then, God wrote the bible and told everyone that this was the Bible and that it was the word of God and that you had to obey it all.  Yeah, even the parts where you stone your own children to death if they profess non belief.  — CW, 2008

My choosing to publish this story represents a perfect microcosm of a little problem I have been dealing with lately.  As cliche’ as it sounds, on some level my blog is my own personal therapy session.  I come here and spout and think and muse and make shit up no one cares about.  Part of the deal for me is that I have to be brutally honest.  But also, no censoring.  And lately, I have wanted to censor.  I have been worrying way too much about who might read this and their reaction.  As a result, I have not been the happiest little camper lately.  Part of it, I’m sure, is that I’ve not been sleeping well.  Not sleeping makes me turn into a rather cranky little monster, if you know what I mean.  Lack of sleep will do that to a person.

But another part of my angst has been wanting to write stuff and then not doing it because of my perceived expectation of a reaction or concern over what others will think of me.  I even went so far as to delete the post I wrote on toxic work places because I was worried someone at the old workplace would read it.  I also worried about what I wrote yesterday about wanting a boyfriend, all concerned the man I’m going on a date with might read it, realize I’m bananas, and run screaming for the hills.  I worried a parent in Milla’s class might discover what a foul-mouthed hooligan I can be.  Then there were a few days where all I wanted to write was a bunch of negativity because I was mired in a sleep-deprived, hormonally-induced, mini depressional psychosis and I didn’t want people to think I’m that much of a mental health disaster.  For over a week now I have not written much at all because of concern over someone reading what I had to say.

Then last night I was reading and taking a nice bath to relax before bed in the hope I would fall asleep when I realized what I have been doing.  I realized I was censoring myself and I had to ask, what in the world is going on here?  I am not writing for the audience, I am writing for me, regardless how stupid, opinionated, depressed, or ridiculous I may be.  I want to have an audience, that’s why I put it out there.  But I can’t write with the audience in mind.  So I had this little epiphany and resolved to go back to being my usual blabber-mouthed, opinionated, cussing sometimes self, regardless if I was having a good day and regardless what anyone else might think or say.

Then this morning I received the story my friend wrote and wanted to post it because I think it is hilarious.  I cut and pasted it and put it into my wordpress window, then when it came time to tag it and categorize it, I started to worry about offending someone or the neo-nazi religious types that might read it and send me hate mail and I got a little flutter and almost didn’t put anything in the tags and only a couple of categories to ensure no one would read it.  Then the lightbulb went on and I realized I was doing it again, censoring, worrying about the reaction, and I knew then that I had to post it and add all the tags and categories I would have if I knew no one was reading it.  I had to put it out there, regardless of the reaction.  Because ironically enough, I honestly don’t care whether someone likes it or not.   I’m just too tired right now to deal with the possible reaction.  And that is the crux of it, I suppose.  I have been feeling so lousy from lack of sleep that I do not have my usual strength and resolve to put up with someone else not liking what I have to say.  I’ve regressed back to the person in my teens and early twenties who had zero confidence in her writing or her self.  I suppose it is normal to make these regressions when I’m overly tired, but it doesn’t mean I have to stay there.

So I’ve put on the story and I put back the toxic workplace post and I’m leaving the relationship post and if there is anyone reading it who doesn’t like it, well, I guess that’s too bad.  Go read something else.  I’m not trying to change your mind.  I’m not trying to make other people hate my ex boss.  I’m not trying to troll the blogs hoping some Prince Charming will read my relationship posts and come sweep me off my feet.  I’m writing because I have to and it keeps me sane.  It is part of my spirituality.  I know that’s a useless psychobabble reason, but it’s true, and that’s all there is to it.

Truly Random Thoughts of a Stream of Consciousness Insomniac

My brain is normally overflowing with words.  I can hardly exist sometimes with all the words leaking out my ears and nostrils.  But for the last few days, my brain has been remarkably quiet.  I’ve thought of a few things, but nothing like usual.

Okay, non sequitur here.  But I’m sitting and typing this and my little dog, Piper, is lying down next to me with his funny little back legs stuck out straight behind him and he’s licking his front paws.  Oh!  Now the greyhound started snorting (she does that periodically, kind of gags and snorts like she has something caught in her throat) so Piper just jumped up to warn her with a couple of throaty little barks that he’s here so that snorting better not come any closer.  Oh she’s warned all right.  She’s lying across the middle of the floor taking up that half of the room.  I’m sure she plans to trip anyone who wants to come after me.  Dogs.  They are so present.

So anyway.  Last night I was pondering the fact that my brain has not been very active recently and I had a few interesting thoughts I wanted to write down, but I was too tired.  The brain wanted to sleep.  Sitting here, I almost wonder if it’s the insomnia that’s shut down my brain.  I have not been sleeping well.  It’s been over a week.  I know why.  I have no job.  I’m not making much on the contract work I’m getting.  I’m not sure how I’m going to pay the mortgage next month.  I got a shutoff notice from the city for water.   So I lie there in the middle of the night when I wake up and force myself into the moment, try not to worry about the future, try not to plan how to bring in cash.  I keep focusing on the pillow or the comforter or my dogs snoring or Milla’s arm across my head.  Bonk.  That brought me back to the present all right!

It’s funny how difficult living in the moment can be.  But I find that my days are much more stress free than they used to be, even if I’m not the best living in the moment person.  Compared to how I used to be, I really shouldn’t be so hard on myself.  Now I have to figure out how to stay in the moment at 3 in the morning when my brain wants to consider all the possibilities having no money brings.

So sitting here contemplating this now I am certain that the empty brain is just trying to sleep.  It does not function well without rest.  It loses its verve.  I yawn a lot.  I know this place.  Stress has always manifested as insomnia for me.  Insomnia makes it hard to be awake, in every sense of the word.  It is kind of nice for stream of consciousness, useless blogging though.

I’m selling my house.  I am moving somewhere warmer.  Or at least sunnier.  Milla’s dad wants us to move to Boulder where he lives.  He says it is sunny there 300 days a year.  I have a friend here who is from Denver.  She says it is sunnier there too, even though it’s cold.  I’m curious whether the sun alone will cure me.  I long for heat as well.  In the heat I can wear wispy dresses and flip flops.  In the heat I can pull on a t-shirt and cutoffs and I’m ready for the day.  In the cold I have to go searching for layers that won’t be terribly uncomfortable but will keep me warm.  And the choices!  It’s overwhelming.  So today, I can wear a maroon turtleneck, or hmmm….a black turtleneck?  How about grey?  And let’s see, should I wear the Levi’s for when I’m bloated or am I sufficiently watered that I’m not retaining anything and can wear the skinny ones?  Gee.  I’m not sure.  I could wear khakis, but that would require ironing and I really don’t feel like ironing.  So Levi’s it is.  There are those who tell me it’s because I’m so skinny that I’m cold all the time.  I don’t have enough padding.  So I should just gain a bunch of weight then I won’t be cold?  Not sure that would work.  I’m not the sort who gains weight easily.  And too much sugar makes me insane.  So I could try eating a lot more than I do, add sugar, and I’ll be chubby and meaner than hell, but I’ll be warm.  You know?  I think I’ll move instead.

Well off I go to try and earn some money so perhaps I can sleep.  That would be nice.  At the moment, I would really like a nap.

Derek

So today handed me my first how well can you deal with this new mentality of living in the moment when the moment is shit event.  I knew all along that the real test whether I got it with the living here and now and watching the thoughts but not acting on them would be when something really shitty happened.  So now something shitty has happened and my brain would really like to revert back to its old tricks of getting depressed and worried that life will be fucked up forever.  So I pick up my dog and nuzzle the fur in the back of his neck with my lips and feel its warmth and realize I’m here and right now, this moment I’m okay.  So maybe it will work if I don’t worry how long I have to keep doing it, knowing I’m just staving off the thoughts for now.  I don’t know, it isn’t tested.  But I don’t know what is going to happen the other way either, it just feels worse.

My brother, my baby brother who isn’t a baby anymore, but young enough I remember holding him and carrying him as an infant, I remember my mom’s entire pregnancy, started getting in trouble with drugs when he was a teenager.  He would get in trouble then my dad would pay to fix it and he’d be fine for a while then go back to my parent’s house then get in trouble again then dad would pay to fix it and he’d be fine for a while then he’d get in trouble again and on and on and on ad nauseum.  He’s been to treatment about five times.  He never really gets into it.  It started to be obvious that the key to Derek getting into trouble was going back to my parent’s house.  He’d get in a fight with my dad who likes keeping Derek the bad guy because that’s the only role he’s comfortable with.  Then Derek would use that as an excuse to go find his local idiot druggie friends and go do something stupid and he would get in trouble.

He was so smart as a little boy.  He built a robot from scratch when he was like four years old.  It walked and had blinking eyes.  He made a little motor and hooked it up to the legos and made it move.  But he had Tourette’s and the teachers were annoyed by him and he hated school.  I think he was genuinely ADHD too, but this was before that was the popular label for any kid who didn’t fit.  Luckily the Tourette’s faded by high school.

Anyway, Derek was the kid all the other kids worshiped.  They followed him around like he was the Pied Piper or something.  He is the sensitive sort, but he doesn’t want anyone to know it.  He loves animals like they are babies.  And loves babies.  But he acted tough around all his friends.  They thought he was God.  And he had one special friend, one who looked up to him, a friend he adored.  They were best buddies.  They worked on the farm of this man who was a teacher in Derek’s school, Mr. K.  Mr. K was a kind man and good for Derek because he made him act responsibly.  By the time Derek was 17, he was a foreman in the summer working on Mr. K’s farm.  But Derek had started smoking pot and would get into trouble.  Mr. K would try to guide Derek and get him to make better decisions, but Mr. K was too late on the scene.  Since Derek came along ten years after the rest of us he was handed anything and everything he ever wanted. This meant that when Derek wrecked a car, he got another one.  When he wrecked that one, he got yet another one (I wasn’t even allowed to use my parent’s cars, let alone get my own).  Anyway, so this is how it was.  Derek dropped out of school and passed the GED.  He worked on Mr. K’s farm.  And him and his best buddy Brad were the kings of the dipshits who followed them around like they were gods.

Then one morning Derek spent the night at his girlfriend’s house.  The clock radio woke him up and he was lying there listening.  The DJ told the story of a boy who had been four-wheeling outside town on one of the logging roads.  The logging company had put up a cable across the road up the hill to keep four-wheelers out of there, but neglected to put ribbons on the cables.  A local boy had been riding up the hill and was killed the day before by one of these cables.  Then they said his name and it was Brad, Derek’s best friend in the world.  This news destroyed Derek.  He was never the same after that.  It was like a sadness settled in and became a part of who he was.

Derek told me a story.  He went to the funeral home.  They were not having an open casket.  Brad’s head had been nearly removed by the cable.  The funeral director let Derek go in to be with his body after the funeral.  He told Derek he could open the end with Brad’s feet if he wanted to.  Derek did, but he opened the wrong end of the casket.  He said Brad’s eyes were open and he was crudely stitched together.  He said the image is a part of his brain.  I can’t even imagine.

So after this, Derek kept going to work, but he was darker.  He wasn’t the happy kid anymore.  He got arrested for a DUI and had meth in his truck.  Plead guilty, got his probabtion.  Then about 10 months later, Mr. K was going through the drive thru at McDonald’s and had a heart attack, his car hit a tree, and he died.  They didn’t know if the heart attack or tree killed him.  Derek seemed to quit caring after that.  He quit going to work and started always using drugs.  Of course, my parents would not admit he was using.  He would sleep for days then turn mean then leave.  On and on and on and on.  Then he’d get caught.  Then he’d get ordered treatment.  Then he’d be fine.  Then back on.  In between he married a woman he met online and had a couple of kids.  This came with its usual drama.  Somewhere in there Derek went to jail for the first time.  Then again.

The last couple of years Derek has really seemed to want to stay off drugs.  He took himself to Central City Concern, a treatment program here in Portland, and was doing well, got a job, then went back to my parent’s (there is a whole dynamic there too where my dad asks Derek to “come work for him” that helps keep this going on), then he used drugs again.

Finally, after the last episode, his PO told him he couldn’t go to Marion County.  That was the only place Derek had ever gotten into trouble, and that’s where my parent’s house is.  I allowed Derek to move into my basement until he found his own place, something he planned to do this weekend.  He got a job.  He did not go anywhere near my parent’s house.  The DA wanted to throw him in prison for six months.  The judge gave him probation with a zero tolerance order.  This meant he could not touch any intoxicant.  He could not go where intoxicants were served.  He had to stay in treatment.  He had to keep a job.  Derek was doing all of these things.  He was doing remarkably well.  He would help me with my house and play Clue with my daughter.  His girlfriend annoyed me, but not in any major dysfunctional way, she just isn’t very bright and gets on my nerves sometimes.  He worked graveyard and would come home in the middle of the night and sleep until he had to go to work again.

Then this morning, I woke up and was in the kitchen making tea and noticed the light blinking on my house phone indicating a message.  I did not have my glasses on or contacts in so I could not see the caller id to find out who had left the message, so I just dialed in.  It was a recorded message trying to get me to choose whether or not to accept a collect call.  I felt the flutter in my stomach.  I got my glasses and looked at my phone.  It said Inmate Phone.  I went to the front window and looked out.  Both Derek’s cars were parked there.  I walked down to the basement.  Derek was not in bed.  I called my Dad.  What is going on?  Oh, I just got up.  Not much.  No. What is going on with Derek?  Nothing I know of.  Well there is a call on my phone that says Inmate Phone.  Shit.  No.  My dad told me to call Sarah, so I did.

Man, she’s dumb.  That is the thing about her that annoys me more than anything is how damn dumb she is.  I’m trying to practice compassion, to accept each person as they are.  To love everyone, even if I don’t want to.  She is my biggest practice case.  I just can’t stand it because I don’t think she’s really that stupid, I think she is just used to people doing everything for her when she acts like she can’t do anything, and I don’t think she’s as dumb as she pretends to be.  So when she acts like she’s stupid, it drives me crazy.  And it’s not fair to her.  She can’t help it if she’s been treated like a baby her whole life so she doesn’t do much herself.  And I wouldn’t dislike a dog because it was dumb.  Hell, my dog Edna is dumber than a fence post, but I love her to death.  So anyway, this morning Sarah was as blase’ as ever, Oh Derek got arrested.  Why?  Drinking.  Why was he drinking?  Well we went to Gabe’s after he got off work and he had a beer.  Well the police wouldn’t just come up and arrest Derek for drinking a beer.  They would need some reason to know he had drank a beer.  It wouldn’t just come out of nowhere.  Oh well I was driving us home and I got a ticket and they smelled the beer and arrested him.  Fuck.

So I called my parents back and told them and the rest I guess will be whatever it is.  I don’t even know.  I’m trying not to be angry with Sarah for driving like she’s blind because she does and it’s annoying.  Hell, she totaled her car the day before while driving alone in the middle of the night.  More than likely she was sending Derek a text message.  I’ve seen her text while driving on too many occasions.  I won’t let her hold her phone when she’s driving with me in the car.  But the truth is it doesn’t damn matter how Sarah was driving because if Derek hadn’t been drinking, he wouldn’t have gotten arrested.  I told my dad this.  He wanted to be irritated at Sarah for how she drives and irritated at Gabe for drinking.  I told him none of their actions would have mattered if Derek hadn’t been drinking.  My parents would love for all this to be someone else’s fault, like laying blame will alleviate any of the pain.  It won’t.

I’m trying not to wonder how Derek could be so hopeless to get himself in this mess.  I keep reminding myself that he knew his limits, but he really has this “It won’t happen to me” mentality.  I know that in the journey that is Derek’s life there are many, many choices he could have made differently that would likely have resulted in something else.  I have known for a very long time that I cannot control this and that he is ultimately responsible for what happens to him.  And at the same time it breaks my heart.  I’m so sad that this is his path.  I wish he would choose something different.  It hurts to watch someone you love make choices that hurt them.

Two days ago Derek was sleeping.  I went down and gave him a big hug.  He asked me if everything was okay.  I said everything was fine, I just love him.  I’m so glad I did that.

Word Jail (or Lara is possibly a mental case, I’m not sure)

My words are being read.  Not by many, but some.  So how truthful will I be in what I say?

This life is surreal.  My new favorite word lately, surreal, because that is how life feels lately.  It is so unfamiliar.  This isn’t a bad thing, I just have no idea how to navigate this alien landscape that is my life.  I suppose I have the tools to figure it out and get wherever I’m supposed to go in this life, in fact I know I do.  But it still scares the crap out of me.  And right at the moment I wonder how much of my anxiety is the result of staying awake too long, how much is the result of doing things I’m not sure of, how much is just normal considering the newness of all of my life.  Maybe my friend Mark is right; maybe I took on too many new things at once.  But I like change.  I wanted change.  I guess I got it and now I have to figure out what to do with it.

Word press.  Pressing words.  Pressing in the sense of print media.  But for me it is more like words pressing the inside of my brain begging to escape, words that don’t have any meaning for anyone except me.  What is that?  What is that need to tap into that energy line and disappear into the void for a while and let the words out?

I guess the words are in jail if I don’t express them.  They are prisoners held captive by no will of their own, so if I don’t let some of them free, there will be a coup and I will be in trouble.  Actually, trouble has been brewing for years because I have not let them out when they needed to escape, just to breathe for a while.  And I paid for it.  Big time.