Identify what is most important )0( Eliminate everything else
The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world. Dr. Paul Farmer
The suffering of others is not alleviated when no one knows about it.
There is no one right way to live. Daniel Quinn Ishmael
The only thing that you need to start an asylum is an empty room and the right sort of people.
We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be. Kurt Vonnegut

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


¡Viva la Revolución!

Bite me. 

I have had it.  Whatever it is.  I am sick and tired of being cold all the time.  Yesterday was a turning point of some kind.  The car needed jump-starting and a long visit to my car guys.  Once the car was running I was unable to turn off the engine until they could replace the battery.  Since it was an hour until they were available, I had to drive for a bit, then went through a drive-through (for which I was very grateful, having this excuse for fast food...full-bore-greasiness and total yum factor) for lunch, then into the service bay.

 During that time I froze in the car because the heater does not work.  Then when I returned home I froze because I have to  be able to pay the utility bill next month.  CoolCat was buried under the covers, as usual, and that just does me in, that he has to suffer along with me.

Anyway.  A quick trip for groceries on the way home, and a drive through the worsening storm.  Zero visibility.  More than two inches of snow falling every hour.  High winds.  Slick road surfaces.  Idiots who think they are driving in June, high-noon, sun shining, birds singing, unicorns eating butterflies and pooping rainbows.  Traffic came to a standstill several times when it was difficult to even see the car in front of you.  Thank god and blessings for those drivers behind me who were paying attention.  Pretend curses (do not do real ones) for the afaforementioned itdiots who sped out from who knows where, flashes of vehicles shooting through tiny spaces between cars, causing untold fright.  Idiots.  Not that I am the teeniest bit judgemental, of course.

Shoveled some truly heavy snow so that I could keep ahead of the storm spew and be able to make it to work in the morning.  I work/volunteer at a city agency and they never close, no matter how bad the weather and road conditions are.

 Man, that stuff was heavy.  I managed to do the porch, both sets of stairs, a short path to the sidewalk, the sidewalk, the area where I park the car (so I could actually get in there) and the six-foot end of the driveway, especially the part where the plows had thrown up all these ginormous, sodden chunks.  Then salted everything.

Not too bad.  My back hurt and I was exhausted, but I have to say that doing that, the shoveling, makes my heart sing.  I quite like doing it.  My landlord lives in another city and he waits, justifiably so, until the storm is over before he does any snow removal.  Unfortunately, some people need to be able to get off the property before he can do that, so it is my pleasure to shovel.  It helps me, it helps him, it even helps the other tenant.  

By this morning my back felt better, but it was so freaking cold and, well, I just snapped.  I went to the thermostat and changed all of the settings to 57F, except for the 10:00 p.m. one, which is staying at 52F.  Then, a bit later, I needed to go into the bedroom and CoolCat was cuddled up the the heating vent and if I could cry, I would have.  

 There is not any reason why he should have to suffer so, and whilst I knew he was feeling the cold, I had no idea.  Just did not.  So, fuck the heating bills.  When I run out of money,  I will deal with that then.    

The heat is flowing as I write this and it pleases me, even though I am not there to enjoy it.  The roads are too bad for my morning clients to make it here and in a little while I am going to noodle around for directions on making a mailing envelope wallet.  Maybe I will watch videos, cats, or little boys being silly, or spiders.  Maybe I will on-line search for a job, one that pays actual money to people who are just thaaaat much crippled.   If nothing else, it will be interesting and I will come across jobs that would be perfect for some of my clients.

I feel different today.  Weary of the crap, I still have to have it, deal with it (why does someone think that he can just keep violating court orders?) (why can I not just get the heck over how much this bothers me), but I do not need to let it defeat me.    I am saving my angst for the arrival of next month's utility bill.  Until then I will shovel and play with CoolCat, luxuriate in the heat wave at home, watch DVDs and have chocolate.  

I am declaring an angst-free zone.

 Bite me.  

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


We all have it.  I sympathize.  Gonna complain about mine.

The utility costs here are outrageous.  I should have know that when heat was not included in the rent fee.  My warm weather bills were for the non-use monthly charge for gas, but mostly for electricity.  Even using two window air conditioners it was low during those months.  My first winter bill was $70.00, an amount that my landlord assured me was what I should expect. 

Shortly afterwards I had a conversation with the upstairs tenant, which she initiated.  She told me to expect gas bills of $300.00 during the winter.  That the insulation was crappy and her flat was impossible to heat, so she turned her furnace off and used a small space heater in her bedroom. 

Alarmed?  Vast understatement. 

So, when next I saw my landlord, I mentioned it to him and he denied that any such thing could happen. 

So, I contacted the public utility company and asked for information about the previous winter's bills.  They would not help me because I am not the person who paid those bills.  I explained that this was a rental unit and I was trying to plan for those expenses and they insisted that only the person who lived here then and paid those bills could have access to that information.  Even the landlord would not be able to get any of that information.  I asked if general information could be shared, like maybe the highest and lowest bills for the past year or something.  Anything.  The person with whom I was speaking said that she could do that, and the range was from $68.00 to $215.00. 


I called all over the place to find someone, someplace, that could do an energy audit.  I am not the owner of the building, but a couple of the places said that they could do the audit if I paid for it and obtained written permission from the landlord.  The least expensive option was $500.00, and would have to include the entire building.  I was pretty sure that I could get permission from the other two tenants to do this because it would benefit them and I would be paying the bill.  That went nowhere because there was no landlord permission.


So, I determined that I would be as careful about using these resources as possible.  I immediately turned the thermostat down to 55F and bought a tiny heater to warm up the bathroom for showers.

Feeling confident.

The next bill was $166.00.  Sure, it was pretty cold, but the heat in here never got over 55-freaking-degrees.  I stopped using the heater for showers.  I started wearing two pairs of socks, a second t-shirt, my robe, slippers, gloves and a blanket around my shoulders.  I raised the thermostat twice, to 59F, when the boys were here.  They complained about how cold it was. 

When the old thermostat went all kablooey, I mentioned the bills to my landlord when he was here.  He told me he used good insulation and new windows and on and on.  I did not query him about any of that, he just shared on his own.  He told me that he keeps the thermostat at his house set to 58F and that he bought an infrared heater that keeps the place (close to 2000 sq. ft) warm and that his furnace hardly ever goes on.  He suggested that I get one and that it would work beautifully because my flat is only 1000 sq. ft. 

I bought one on the weekend, $75.00 on sale.  I turned the thermostat to 52F, ran it during waking hours, only when I was home, not at night.  I used only an up-light at night so that it was not totally dark, which is not a great hardship because it still makes me feel too vulnerable to have lamps on at night anyway.

The heater did a great job, maintaining a generous and comfortable 57F-59F temperature.  It was bliss. 

So, the new utility bill arrived last week.  For using the heater for only a week and a half of the last billing cycle, the bill increased by $3.00.


So, thermostat still set at 52F.  The furnace cycles on during the night, but there is nothing I can do about that.  Both the kitchen and bathroom (no heating vents anyway) are on an outside wall and I cannot have them freeze, so I cannot go lower on the temp.  Really cannot do that anyway.  I am managing, but CoolCat is, well, he has all that lovely fur, but it really is too cold for either of us.  I just want to cry.  I would, but I no longer know how to do that.

This place is drafty and there is not any way to economically weatherproof it myself.  It meets all of the housing regulations and standards, so no help there.

The frustration comes from living in the cold and the dark whilst my ex lives in luxury, gobbling up the investment he was court-ordered to divide with me.  I have an excellent attorney.  Unfortunately, there is no enforcement of these kinds of court orders unless one has money to make filings with the court, and the most recent copies of stuff from the ex show that a third of the investments are already gone somewhere.  Just to pay the bills I have had to use more than half of my share of the proceeds of the house sale.  I have been ill, CoolCat has had health needs, the stupid car required expensive repairs, new tires and insurance, and gas prices are insane.  I use it only to get groceries and use the laundromat, to go mentor and to go to my volunteer gig when it is unsafe to walk, but as soon as the weather improves I am getting rid of it. 

I can do all of this.  I am surviving.  I am just a person who is ungrateful for what I do have, which is my life, CoolCat, enough food, all that jazz.  That all of this seems so unfair is only because I sometimes forget how truly lucky and fortunate I am.  Damn, I work with people who would give anything to have what I have.  Hell, I see even more of them walking around downtown.

I have nothing to complain about, and yet, here I am.  Big girl pantie pulling time.  I suck.

Sunday, February 24, 2013


I am still deciding if I will do that here.  The recent utility bill changed all of my weekend plans to finally start taking stuff out of boxes and creating order and relative permanence here.

So, I am cleaning and looking for stuff to divest from some of those boxes.  There are not a lot of them, and I could completely do everything in a couple of days, which was supposed to be yesterday and today.  The disorder is uncomfortable.  And, yet, here I sit, checking the upcoming weather.

And, I had to come to the computer anyway because the new thermostat was never programmed and I think that might be causing the furnace to go on more often.  That and the new heater might be part of the heating problems here.  Once here I noticed that my documents are a mess, with lots of them not even in folders. 

Ah, not exactly unpacking, but cleaning never the less.  I found some jokes I had been collecting and am putting them here because some of them made me chuckle, but also because it is a way to waste time and not do anything useful.

What did one snowman say to the other snowman?
"Smells like carrots."

Two atoms are walking down the street and one says "Stop! I lost an electron."
The other atom ask, "Are you sure?"
The first atom replies, "I'm positive."

Who's a bee's favorite singer?

What do you get if you cross a turtle with a porcupine?
A slowpoke.

Why are there fences around cemeteries?
Because people are dying to get in.

Why did God make only one Yogi Bear?
Because when he tried to make a second one he made a boo-boo.

What did the doctor say to the patient when he finished the appendectomy?
"That's enough out of you."

How many people are there in Rio?
At least a Brazilian.

What do snakes put on their kitchen floors?

What do you call donating your body to a medical school?
A Dead Give-away

Did you hear about the guy that stayed up all night to see where the sun went?
It finally dawned on him.

Who wears a black mask and always smells great?
The Cologne Ranger.

What did the clock say to the watch?
Tock to you later.

Which Knight makes pottery?
Sir Amic.

What did the fisherman say to the magician?
Take a cod, any cod.

Why don't you ever see chickens in the zoo?
Because they can't afford the admission.

Why are pirates so popular?
They just arrrr.

What knight has extra goods to sell?
Sir Plus

What does the gorilla call his girlfriend?
His prime mate.

What do you get when you cross a lobster with a baseball player?
A pinch hitter.

What do you call a stolen sausage?
A missing link.

What do you call a bunch of chickens playing hide-and-seek?
Fowl play.

What did the lobster major in at the police academy?
Claw enforcement.

Why did the watch stop?
It was running fast all week.

How are a tornado and an redneck divorce the same?
Somebody's gonna lose a trailer.

Are there blood banks in England?
I don't know. But there's a liver pool.

How do alligators make phone calls?
They croco-dial!

When you swim in a creek,
And an eel bites your cheek,
That's a moray.


1. Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
2. A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing well.
3. He, who laughs last, thinks slowest.
4. A day without sunshine is like, well, night.
5. Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.
6. Those who live by the sword get shot by those who don't.
7. Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.
8. The 50-50-90 rule: Anytime you have a 50-50 chance of getting something right, there's a 90% probability you'll get it wrong.
9. It is said that if you line up all the cars in the world end-to-end, someone would be stupid enough to try to pass them.
10. If the shoe fits, get another one just like it.
11. The things that come to those that wait, may be the things left by those who got there first.
12. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will sit in a boat all day drinking beer.
13. Flashlight: A case for holding dead batteries.
14. The shin bone is a device for finding furniture in the dark.
15. When you go into court, you are putting yourself in the hands of twelve people who weren't smart enough to get out of jury duty.

Not a joke, but it is something I wanted to remember and putting it here means that one more document goes to the trash.

The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.
Oliver Wendell Holmes

Saturday, February 23, 2013


It is still relatively early, sleep-wise, and I will not worry about throwing my entire sleep cycle off for a few days yet.  Barely after midnight, and even a boring book will not bring me any closer to falling asleep.  CoolCat keeps coming by to convince me to just give up/in, go to bed and let him cuddle.

We both like that, the cuddling, because it is cold here.  Even following the advice of my landlord about buying an infrared heater so that I will not have to use the furnace, my most recent utility bill, combined electric and gas, is two dollars more than last month's.  What the fuck?  We are still freezing our asses off and it cost me more money? 

I have no idea what I am going to do.  I cannot afford to live here.  I really cannot afford to live anywhere decent.  I will probably just stay here, hemorrhaging my savings until I am forced into doing something.  This past week, during therapy, I shared that I thought that I am finally ready to start unpacking my stuff and settling in.  Seven months here and I seem to feel safe enough to consider not fleeing somewhere else.  Where that could be, I have no idea, but I was starting to not worry about it.  Then, there was that support group thing where safety and self-defense are going to be part of the program and I thought, well, baby, you can get stronger and feel safer and all of this forward-movement stuff is just what you need.

The day was going well.  I awoke to a large snowfall and spent a very pleasant and heart-supportive few hours clearing the property of the white stuff.  I love winter...except for the freaking utility bills...and I especially love snow removal.  The sense of satisfaction is enormous.  Then I made my favorite soup and I really could not design a more wonderful day.

But, I cannot sleep again.  This is becoming a very disturbing habit.  No good can come from anything other than regular sleep. 

So, I am up.  Benadryl is becoming a crutch.  Going to bed and tossing and turning and having my head crammed with too much junk, and disturbing CoolCat in the process is not productive, and neither of us gets any decent rest.  Up, that is me.  Looking for boring stuff to read, stuff that I found, stuff that led me to some physics sites, stuff that is not boring and, truth be told, very interesting and some ideas of activities for me and the boys, but, here I am, still awake.

So, I went surfing, looking for some simple living or frugal living or stuff like that.  I found a site where I was a member a long time ago and I discovered why I stopped visiting that site.

I am a snob.  Something I would not choose to be or even want to be.  Do not think of myself like that.  However, I had to stop going to that site because I felt weird there.  The place is full of people with great resources who are, in my opinion, playing at being frugal.  I think that if your idea of frugality is spending your three-week vacation on an island instead of the couple of weeks that you usually spend staying in Paris at your favorite hotel, overlooking the Louvre, that frugality might not be a significant part of your personal philosophy. 

Ergo, I am a snob.

If you have to cut back on steak a couple of times a week and I find that amusing, I am a snob.

If you shop at the charity shops because a couple of years ago you were at one of them with a friend and you found a vintage Rudi Gernreich in your favorite mod colors and I shake my head, I am a snob.

One of the hallmarks of my own, personal philosophy is that I do not, as a general practice, judge other people.  Having spent the majority of my adult life under the microscope of one of the most proficient judges of the twenty-first century, I really do try to sublimate my natural snarky and sometimes irrepressible judging genes.  Most of the time I manage just fine.  But, although my on-line behavior is honest and all that jazz, sometimes I just cannot seem to avoid having these feelings ooze into the experience.

This sucks.  It is not compatible with how I see myself.  It is not how I live in my daily life.

Oh, yeah, sure, we all judge.  A complete stranger could be walking towards us and our view of her/him is instant, replete with every kind of judgement possible.  Age, gender, status, everything.  Honestly, I am pretty sure that we cannot avoid that whole thing.  What we can do is to choose to move beyond that, get over our perceptions and prejudices.  All that.  And, I also think that most people are good at doing that, the getting over themselves part.

On-line, my judging filters are all out of whack.  I rarely write anything anymore.  Frankly, no one really cares what we think anyway, especially how it applies to what the other person thinks.

Well, in the pursuit of squashing my snobbery and finishing the third season of BBT, a couple of hours have passed and CoolCat is here on cuddle patrol.  I want pancakes, but I will settle for settling down with my library book and a fuzzy sweetheart resting on my shoulder.  My judgement of that is that it is the perfect way to deal with insomnia.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

one year

So, there I was, at therapy this morning.  On the wall was a flyer about a just starting something-or-the-other.  It caught my attention last week because of the name of the something-or-the-other, Half the Sky.  My first thought was the documentary, based on the work and book by Kristof and WuDunn.  And, then I thought how difficult it might be for people in trauma to be part of a group that discusses or addresses those issues facing women around the world.  Or, maybe not so difficult.  How the heck would I know.  Just guessing.

So, I asked about it and was told that it was a weekly meeting conducted by one of the intern therapists.  After my session I got a cup of coffee and read the user manual for the car, having no other reading stuff with me, and waited for the meeting to begin.

Turns out that the intern therapist intends for this to be a support group.  She thought it would be helpful for some of her clients to have a social outlet in order to make friends and gain support in their journey towards health.  Many of them are isolated by their personal issues, mostly related to dealing with depression and other mental health issues.  Something that nearly every breathing, walking-around person experiences on occasion.  Most are not debilitated by such things, but some are. Besides, significant and painful live issues are often a precipitating factor to depression and other stuff.  Circular in the extreme.

I am the only person in the room who is not the intern therapist or one of her clients.

Big-picture-wise, it is going to be helpful to me in a way that regular therapy cannot.  Today's session established ground rules and topics, one of which will be safety and self-defense.


Until that exact moment, when the IT mentioned it and said that if the group wanted to, the guy who came to the previous six-week sessions to teach/show/illustrate self-defense techniques would be willing to do so again.

Why is it that learning some self-defense techniques never occurred to me?  Knowing how to protect my personal safety would have been so helpful to me in so many ways.  I am trusting that everything comes in its time, but this is big.  I am wondering if being able, at least potentially, to be proactive in keeping myself safer might help me in other ways.  I am thinking primarily of my inability to have any lights on at night.  Makes me feel exposed, vulnerable to have lights on inside.  Cuts down on the shadows.  I sometimes wonder if it is helping me be less anxious or if living in the dark contributes to my general anxiety, the whole not dealing with something thing.

Anyway, learning this stuff is going to help me feel stronger and more in control.  It will help with my body issues, too.  Way cool, and I am hoping that this happens soon.

Previous sessions?  This speaks project.  Nothing wrong with that.  Our VISTA volunteers did the same things. Come in, create projects around a need, offer a service, evaluate, go off into the sunset.  It is how these programs operate.  The providing of services is to provide services, of course, but mostly to give practical experience to these volunteers, also interns. 

I support all this.  Not being assigned a VISTA volunteer this year at my primary gig location is a sadness.  There simply are not sufficient bodies to fill the expanding belly of need.  And, so, bless them all, especially the woman who is providing this safe place where women can find friendship and support if they need it and where an outsider like me is unconditionally welcomed.

The unconditional part is huge, something that I, or any random person, rarely experience.  One one-hour session and I feel comfortable enough to return next week after my therapy session.  This group thing is helpful in another way because I have been trying to shorten my regular therapy session to anything less than the two-hour fests they now are.  With the new group immediately following my sessions I will be able to spew for only an hour. I am thinking that shorter sessions could help be become more focused.

On year ago today, just a bit over 365 days and ten hours, I left my old life.  I was hoping to not remember this anniversary, but something in that new group thing reminded me.  I had thought, in that moment, to have cake, to note it somehow.  Settled for chips instead.  They were good.  The chips are not progress, but where I am now is.  Progress.  Forward movement. 

Internal process pretty much decrees struggle and pain, sometimes lots of both, before you can move on from something.  My PTSD is worse lately, maybe in concert with today's milestone.  Maybe not.  Probably. 

Anyway, the day seems determined to not be denied.  I am not sure how I feel about this.  I am glad to be here, that one year later, I am still alive, still doing good work, still helping other people, still living with CoolCat.  I am even glad to be struggling with my resources, mostly because I can.  It is, on some level, interesting that my ex still feels the need to fuck with me.  My therapist keeps bringing up his apparent unwillingness to break his attachments to me, no matter how disgusting and stressful that whole issue must be for him.  I would prefer to not have to even think about it, but she insists that my future peace and safety is dependent on dealing with this.  My choice right now is a resounding 'no'.  Yes to forward movement, more yes to honoring a day that I would have preferred to never needed to have in my life at all.  No to dealing with his crap.  His feelings, thoughts, needs, wants, desires, preferences are nothing to me. 

Now, that is progress.  Yay me.

Whilst I managed to resist cake, I did get some great mustard greens to have with the potato soup I am making tomorrow.  I have a lovely sausage to make with cabbage, carrots and onions, all oven roasted and made into soup.  There is washed and chopped kale in the freezer for kale, hot sausage and potato soup.  Poblanos to be stuffed with spicy ground beef, baked with chilies.  Thick and creamy yogurt.  And, the rest of the chips. 

Let it snow for the next few days.  I have lots of great soup plans to amuse me for as long as I can avoid leaving the house.  I have my shovel ready and a hundred pounds of salty nuggets to deal with the ice and crusty snow.  Snow which was supposed to start a couple of hours ago.  'Cmon, precipitation!

I can hear the wind picking up. 'Cmon.

Monday, February 18, 2013


Last night human remains were found in a big city in my state.

In a trash bag, left near a dumpster, was a body, wrapped in fabric/sheet, part of the head and teeth exposed through a tear in the bag.

"Police say the investigation is ongoing — and they say they do believe this is a suspicious death."



I understand caution, especially where contact with the media is concerned.  Especially when there are few details, even before they can even do an autopsy, which will be today, I guess.

Suicides.  A baby assaulted on a plane.  By the way, the monster that verbally abused the baby and his mother before slapping the child has an attorney who is publicly  cautioning people to not rush to judgement before all of the facts are known.  Really? 

No one is safe.  I knew that before, have known it for a very long time and I know it now.  But, the sad and inescapable truth is that even if someone has not experienced accidental or intention assault by someone else, and that it is my preference to believe that I live in a loving Universe, stuff still happens, people are hurt or killed or destroyed in countless ways.

And, I am sure that I am aware of and tuned into hearing/noticing death more than I did before nearly dying myself' so, whilst it is difficult still to hold some reasonable perspective on violence, particularly of the domestic kind,  I am doing my best to keep all of this stuff from temporarily, well, not exactly destroying me (because I think that I am healing past that), but still feeling a bit frightened by all of these reports.  They seem to be nearly weekly mentions, often more than one.

I am not accustomed to watching television and my exposure to these stories were limited to the very occasional news reports on the car radio.  Now, I have this little television and an antenna thing and can watch five or so channels.  This exponentially increases my awareness of news of all kinds.

Each time this happens, I am newly terrorized.  I cannot seem to prevent that initial response.  I am writing as much as I can, hopefully divesting this self-imposed burden of shared grief.  I am spewing like crazy during therapy, knowing that I am such a bore to concentrate on the violence in the news, but unable to stop.  I am meditating like I mean it.  I am drawing.  Reading.  Working. Volunteering, which is probably the most helpful, as it constantly informs me how truly lucky I am for just about everything.

My therapist keeps reminding me of when we first worked together, and I expressed my difficulty moving forward because it had been a month since I fled my house.  She brought it up again last week.  I am now three days from that, the day I left.  I should be so much further along.  I should not still be waiting for my ex to man-up, stop stealing our joint resources and just generally screwing me over. 

Okey-dokey, so there are still factors holding me enmeshed in this mess.  I do not think it unreasonable to want it to be over.  Court orders, particularly those connected to divorce, are mostly unenforceable.  I get that.  I also get that my ex is doing all of this to impoverish me, knowing that because he has stolen everything that I do not have the resources to fight for what is mine. 

I am so much fortunate than other women in my circumstance.  I have responsibility for only myself and CoolCat.  I can just manage to keep us safe from the elements, keep us reasonably well-fed and keep us as safe as it is possible to be.  I can get to work and to see my babies at least once a month or so.  Other than that, I have nearly depleted my financial resources from the sale of the house. 

Most of the time I am fine with this.  I am naturally frugal and being so suits me well.  One year past leaving, I am living below the poverty level, although I do not expect to be homeless again; and my ex, well, who knows what he is doing with all of that money, but you can bet your big girl panties that he is not worrying about how the pay the heating bill or anything else.  I do not agree with the saying that money cannot buy you happiness.  I believe that, in addition to freeing me from worry and stress, that having enough money could go a long way to adding to my core happiness. 

Enough.  I would love to be above such feelings, but I am not.  He continues to do whatever he can to make me suffer, including his near-demand that I file joint taxes with him for last year so that he does not have to pay his tax liability without help from me.  That is not going to happen, but my investment in all of this is me, alone, increasing his ability to continue the abuse. 

Enough.  I have to find ways to release all of this. 

Friday, February 15, 2013


This is one of the images that made my heart soar this morning.
These are the Pillars of Carina.  At least in the Carina Nebula.

I love Hubble.  Like crazy.  I still remember the joy I felt when Hubble was repaired in 2009.  Launched in 1990. Hubble was intended to last for approximately six years.  Yet, despite the stumbling and setbacks, my sweet baby endured.  Even better, is that Hubble is still up there, still sending us the most amazing and beautiful images, well, in the Universe.

I love Hubble. 

Like crazy.


For decades I resisted them.  I fought them.  It was not safe to cry.  It brought only more abuse for showing weakness and much satisfaction for someone who is not me.

Eventually, I was unable to cry.  Sure, I can get all moist in the eyes at a bittersweet film.  Even the saddest story, in print, will bring not a drop anywhere.  I still have my humanity, can feel sympathy, experience empathy and express help however I can, but tears are no longer a part of my life.

Even strong emotion is difficult after so many years of it being a source of unwanted attention and pain.  I can feel happiness, but joy is gone.  Sadness, fear, pain, terror, all still here.  I understand bliss, can express it, but not feel it.

It worked for so long.  It facilitated my survival.  Now that I no longer need to be so self-protective, well, I guess that saying is true, use it or lose it.  Lost.  Gone.

Although, recently there have been some stirrings.  Of what, I am not sure, but they are in the realm of emotions.  It frightens me.  There are lots of reasons, but I think that the most significant is that I am afraid that if I am able to actually feel something and be able to express something, that I will lack the ability to control any emotions that happen.  Some people, particularly women, resist or fear laughing because it triggers some weakness of the bladder and, well, you know the result.  Same thing happens when some of us cough or sneeze too hard.

But, emotions.  If they happen I might not be able to control them.  And, I do not think that I am unreasonable or the least bit silly to worry about this.  What if I allow myself to fully feel, experience, fear.  What if I can then never break free of it?  What if I feel anger?  What if it takes control of me and I find that I can never come back from it?  What if I allow sorrow into my life and I get stuck there forever?  What if nothing can ever bring me back from allowing myself to feel true, full, fully-manifested emotions?  I cannot take the risk.

Still.  The boys make me laugh.  They and their parents make my heart sing and soar and I do not fear those emotions.  I embrace them. 

Still.  This morning I, unable to sleep, I was looking at NASA's Hubble (my sweet baby) images of nebulae, star clusters, galaxies and more and I felt something.  I felt happiness of a different kind.  I felt awe and the sweetness of creation, the greater than self. 

It is not much, I guess, but it is a beginning.


As in a little bit funny.  The ironical, oh, lordy, how ironical realm.  Nearly everything seems laden with meaning about the somethings that are not anywhere near to where I want to be.  Obscure.  It is partially because I am not properly medicated, a temporary circumstance.  Maybe.  I am experimenting with having less reliance on anti- depressive and anxiety meds.  It is an interesting process

My head is so full that I can hardly filter.  Bad stuff last, I am thinking.

Second night in a row in which I woke at 3:00 a.m.  This is happening with increasing frequency.  By the time I feel sleepy again, it is time to begin whatever my day is supposed to be, and then I have to muscle through until the drowsiness passes.  All I want is for the early waking to pass.

 Since quitting the state gig, I have one less day on which something is always scheduled.  It occurred to me yesterday, whilst finishing therapy, which was switched due to schedule needs of my therapist, that if I asked for the change to be permanent, that I would always have a four-day weekend when I did not absolutely have to do anything if I so chose.

Now, that is nice, but it disturbs me as well.  My intention last year was to have a schedule that made me get groomed, get dressed and get out of the house most days.  Two volunteer jobs, two volunteer activities, therapy, laundromat, marketing.  Stuff like that.  Frankly, left to my own devices, I would rarely leave the house, and if I found a way to have meds and groceries delivered, laundry picked up and returned, switched to automatic banking, things like that, I could stay here, indoors, all the time.

I know how unhealthy, in all respects that is, but the appeal is enormous.  It does not help that I now live in a city where all of that is possible.  Out, next to the middle of nowhere, in the country, where I lived before, none of that was possible.  There were not even any public transportation resources.  Now I have those kinds of choices available, and it is so tempting to stay here, inside, where it is safer than where I have been.

But, I cannot do that, and quitting that one, nearly full day of activity left a hole that I have now made a bigger hole.  Oh, sure, I am thinking about the convenience of not having any responsibility to anything other than myself for that four-day block of time.  Very appealing.  Also very frugal, as I will not have to use any resources for driving or bus riding or any risk of spending money.  The money aspect still exists because I still have those needs and regular expenses, but it does eliminate impulsive purchases, like the candy I bought yesterday, my Valentine treats.

I have to guard against my desire to have limited outside contact and my ability, now, to indulge that.  I am going to try the long weekend experiment and just see how that goes.  Maybe it will work out fine, but if it turns into some creeping opportunity to reduce my interaction with anyone except for CoolCat, then I will have to reassess and force myself to introduce more regular activity.   

So, anyway, I seem to have found a spontaneous sense of humor, as in jokes and stuff like that.  One of my current pleasures  is the four or five television channels I can usually find on this little screen thing that is only one of the objects in my new life that seems to be getting smaller and smaller all the time.  The only exception that comes to mind is telephones.  Sometime last year, when I was at my daughter's home, they, the sweet couple, were watching television and I saw Big Bang Theory for the first time. 

I love it.  It is wicked amusing and there is not a single character that does not delight in some way.  The only wrinkle is that it had been on the air for six years, or so, and that I had missed so many episodes. Until I realized that the earlier seasons were probably on DVD.  Bliss.  So, I watch it whenever I can, and have watched the first season and am now beginning the fourth.  Seasons two and three are on my waiting list, library-wise.

It makes me laugh out loud.  I smile.  I chuckle.  I do little snorts of pleasure.  At some point I may have to find a way to have my very own set of DVDs for this show.  I also love the science, even though I only marginally understand some of it and am completely clueless about most of the scientific banter.  I did, however, immediately 'get' the way they say screwed.  Instant delight.  Bazinga. 

One thing I just discovered, via the DVD watching, is that there is a very brief view of a page of quotes on the episode I just watched.  I only half-watch anyway, and so will have to skip through the episodes and see if this is a regular thing.  None of those quotes especially sings to me, but it sure is an interesting idea, having them there.  I just checked and whilst they were not quotes, there is a thing at the very end of each of the two other episodes that I skipped through.  In one, it is self-referred as a vanity card.  So, I Googled.  Apparently vanity cards, entertainment focal at least, are everywhere.  Common.  Who wouldathunkit.  I guess that explains "That's one bad hat, Harry." 

A recent conversation with my daughter was interesting, helpful and kind of funny, too.  There is hardly anything about which we cannot talk.  Mostly.  We never talk about all that stuff, but everything else is fair game.   I remember when my daughter was in high school and college, and she would be telling me things about her life and I would murmur and reply with support, but on occasion I would sit there thinking that hearing whatever intimate details that she was sharing was great, and I appreciated and honored having this kind of relationship, but, oh, sometimes, hearing that stuff did nothing to improve the quality of my that mother-moment.

Regardless, I am grateful for how open and easy our relationship can be.  That our relationship has had it rocky aspects is fine, as that helps me believe that at least one part of my life has been, is, normal-ish.    That I am often the precipitator is of little concern.  I am more than happy to drag her into conversation and then open her up and wrestle out her innermost thoughts.  Juicy.  Not how it happens, but were it necessary I most likely would not hesitate a moment to use the big scoop to get what I need.  Bazinga.

Anyway, I am grateful and pleased that this is easy for us.  In the midst of everything else, we know that we can count on each other without the least hesitation or reservation.  It seems as though this is one thing that I got right, bringing more gratitude.  Not everyone can have this, especially with family.  I can pretty much do the same with my friends.  Strangers are safe from me, but friends...ah.

Since I do not have anything planned for today, my insomnia is not a problem and I can take a rest on my cool sofa, watch more Big Bang Theory and drift off into a nap. 

Rats, I almost forgot the bad stuff.  Newest communication on the financials is that someone who is not me has continued to gut the investments, with evidence that approximately a third of the big account is gone.  Evidence was provided earlier this week, and now we know why.  All withdrawals are in clear violation of court orders and instructions dating six days short of a year.  My attorney is shocked, despite my near constant reminders that this was happening, and she is determined to restore the funds and that I will get my fair share.  It appears that what he has done has resulted in some tax liability and he now wants me to prepare joint tax returns for last year so that I can share in the financial tax liabilities that he incurred when he stole from me.

Cool, huh?  I am leaving it all to my attorney, am not filing taxes with him, and am trying to avoid stressing about any of this, nor do I want to gloat about how correct I have been about everything.  I may be passive, I may be a peace monger, but, much to my delight, I have discovered that I am not a doormat.  Funny?  Yeah.  Totally cracks me up.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


I have been awake for an hour now.  Waking six hours early does not help anything.  I have a very long day ahead, one which ends with a very long drive, and I cannot sleep. This does not happen often, but it really messes up everything when sleep refuses to happen when you need it most.  So, I am up, trying not to eat something and sitting here, typing and browsing the time away, television on.  

In the short time that I have been up, I have seen/listened to three commercials for a particular prescription sleep aid, in addition to several for other similar meds.  I guess that if you have a medication to help with sleep that it makes sense to advertise during the times when most people would love to be asleep.  There was a stunning array of side effects mentioned.  My insomnia is minor compared to what the people who are willing to take this medication must be experiencing.  The list was so disturbing that I had to find a resource for it.

How desperate do you have to be for sleep to risk this (found on Wikipedia):
neuropsychiatric adverse effects reported include:
    aggressive behavior
    auditory and visual hallucinations
    worsening of depression
    suicidal thoughts

Clearly not me, but did I not have the expectation that this problem will be temporary, I might.  I am retired, doing volunteer work several times a week, with the bulk of my time available to do whatever I like, including naps.  The next few days I have to be awake during the day and fully asleep during the nights, so I will be taking an OTC allergy med with me.  I will use it.  I will sleep.  I will be awake during the day to do what I have to do.  More importantly, I will not have any side effects.  None. 

I guess what bothers me most about the prescription meds and the other problems they could potentially carry is that when I look at that abridged list, because of my former life, I have some of those, the confusion, agitation (thinking my panic attacks here), depression, memory loss and I no longer have this final one because I am being properly medicated now, but thoughts of wanting to hurt myself was a serious concern of mine.  I cannot imagine being willing to risk any of those things again.  But, I can sleep most of the time, so I am not tempted. 

This past week has been chock full of dealing with so many things.  I am not as simple-minded as I seem most of the time.  I have come to accept that impatience about all of this stuff is not helping me deal or move forward with healing.  I have hope.  It just seems like I should be making better progress.

Sunday, February 3, 2013


Lots of things happen when you survive extreme trauma.  Certainly better, big-picture-wise, than not surviving.  Just saying.  You really should not have to specify, but that is one of the things about trauma.

Early on in this process I was diagnosed with PTSD.  It involves, at least did then, with some specialized therapies.  Mostly I just do not think about it.  I ignore it.  I am good at that.

Anyway, it was brought up again during last week's session.  I am at some point where I might get stuck again, although I am working so damn hard to not have that happen.  Again.

So many changes this brings.  The surviving, I mean.  I feel guilty some days about not having done enough to make everything work.  I know, really and truly know that there is nothing I could have done to stop the abuse.  It has taken a long time, as the enforced belief that I could improve anything, stop or change anything was part of the abuse. 

Everything that happened to me was my fault.  I was not good enough.  I was ugly.  Stupid.  Ridiculous. Lazy. Careless.  Evil.  More.  Anything that happened was my fault.  If I were a good person, or helpful or different or smarter or less ugly, then nothing would happen.  And, if since I believed all of that to be true, then I was guilty of making him, forcing him to do whatever he had to do.

The only thing I could have done is to leave.  I did that, but brought the guilt with me.  Any, maybe that is appropriate.  I am only a simple and flawed human, doing my best.  Just like everyone else.  Even my ill and flawed ex.  My therapist thinks that I am taking this part a bit too far.  I cannot help it.  Once upon a time I loved him and continued long past the time that was of benefit for anyone.  Not me, not him, certainly not our daughter.  I never told her what was happening, but now that I am gone from there she knows that something terrible was going on. 

So many things lost.  my daughter trusts me less than she did because of those secrets.  Nothing I can do about it.  Resources and family gone. 

And, memory.  Chemical changes in the brain, my brain mean that I am having increasing difficulty with my memory.  Oh, I still remember to get up and dress.  I still remember to make it to work and appointments on time.  In the beginning those things were very hard to remember.  Something to do with being shocky, as well.  Time and therapy are helping, but little things are eluding me now, have for some time.

Names.  I do not mind not being able to remember names of, you know, like famous people.  Maya Angelo was lost to me for a time.  Parker Posey.  Some other actor that I forgot in conversation recently, a name that is now gone to me again.  No problem there, but the names of people I should know in my life, well, I can hardly express how freaking distressing that is.  I forgot what jet is for a while.  It is a form of fossilized coal, and I wear a piece of it around my neck, for goodness sake.  I finally had to look it up.  Lordy.

When I meet someone, or a client returns or I run into someone in a store, I am lost.  The face is familiar, but the name, and often how I know them is some hazy mishmash of who knows what the hell what.  This is when name tags would be nice.

I have a brilliant memory, nearly photographic.  I used to complain about being able to recall every excruciating detail of, well, everything.  Frankly, having that kind of memory made some relationship circumstances difficult.  We all have our own reality where memory is concerned.  There is what I remember, what others in the situation remember and what actually happened.  It is one of the reasons that personal eye-witness are often completely unreliable.

It bothered me, the memory loss, for a while, but now I just try to let it flow as it will.  It is supposed to be partially temporary.  Or temporarily something.  I cannot remember.

The whole thing is a mess.  I cannot forget the bad stuff.  It never even dulls.  I am hyper-vigilant.  I have dreams and random memory attacks.  Panic.  An overwhelming sense of vulnerability makes it impossible to have lights on at night.  I fear the dark outside as well.  And, all of it is driving me insane.  I want to stop this cowering and fear and disability.

In time, I keep hearing.  I believe it.  Until then, if we run into each other and I seem a bit vague, I do remember you, just not your name.


When the furnace system was fixed, the thermostat was set to 70F.  Since I am adjusted, as well as one can be, to living with 55F, I poked the down button until it was back to that.  I mis-poked or something, because it only went down to 57F.

When I saw that yesterday morning, I have to admit that I panicked a teeny bit, worrying about the heating bill being so high again.  But, finger poised, I hesitated and then left it alone. 

The truth is that I am uncomfortable at the lower temperature, but have it set there because I cannot afford to pay any more than necessary.  For anything. 

I eat poor.  I heat poor.  I conserve beyond reasonableness.  More importantly, I think poor.

I had a meeting on Thursday with my attorney.  Her legal aide and I went through the paperwork they were finally able to extract from the companies with whom my ex had put all of our money.  And, that always gives me pause, because when he did those things, he effectively stole from me for all of those years by making certain that I had no access to any of our resources.  I know now that it was part of the whole control thing, but at the time, during all of those decades, it was my normal and I accepted that I owned nothing, nothing was mine.

Except for the proverbial 'clothes on my back', because I earned the money for that myself.  What I needed, I provided with my little jobs.  Including our daughter's education.  You know, that is not even a complaint, because I have come to understand that having to do all of that is probably one of the things that kept me alive.  Providing for her.  There is some kind of inner something, some kind of strength that kept me going, striving, trying to make things work, and that ultimately was there, in that moment, when I made it out alive.

So, I think poor because I am.  I struggle to hang onto this computer and Internet connection.  I will do anything to keep CoolCat with me and healthy and safe.  I hang on to a car that I really cannot afford to keep, but cannot afford to get rid of because it is my link to seeing my grandchildren more often than my daughter and her husband can bring them south to me.  That same car makes it possible for me to leave here to go to my volunteer gigs and to therapy.  Were it warmer, I could take the bus to the last two, something I intend to do when we are closer to Spring and it is warm.  Bliss.  I can hardly wait.

I hang on to the insanely reduced body of possessions that I have.  I rescued my paints, where they had frozen solid because I did not remember being able to squeeze them into the storage unit.  Even with all that, I think that I still have too much stuff, and that is because I have the mind-set that being ready to flee without a moment's notice remains an essential part of how I manage in the world.  Even my purse is filled with practically everything essential so that I can survive if I have to get out of Dodge.  Should I ever have to do that again, I am prepared with that packed bag and easy access to CoolCat's carrier. 

Leaving him and LittleGoddess behind when I left last year remains the greatest regret of my life.  In that moment I thought only of my own survival.  As soon as I was out of the driveway I remembered them and drove around the block, intending to fetch them.  But, I knew that I could not do that safely, and so had to abandon them.  LittleGoddess died as a result of that decision, something I have to live with for always.

Nothing important is ever easy, is it?  All the choices I have made, all of the decisions, all of the roads not taken, no going back, no do-overs.  The finality of it is proper.  It cannot be any other way.  I guess that is why we have regret available to us.  It is a kind of poverty from which there is no escape.

I live poor because I cannot trust myself to find hope, you know, the kind of normal hopefulness that most normal people accept as a part of their lives.  Heck, most of them never even think about it.  I think about it all the time.  It is an automatic response to every damn thing that happens.

This has to stop.  I need to find hope that is more than superficial.  In many ways I have done that, moved in that direction.  My therapist tells me that everything takes time, something with which I struggle when I am stalled by something.  Something like this poor-me mindset.

And, so, the thermostat is set at that darn 57F.  It feels too warm at night, but I have yet to figure out how to program the darn thing, something I can now do because I found the user's manual last week.

Whatever happens with all of that legal stuff, it would be nice to receive my share of our assets, but I am not putting any energy or hopes into actually receiving it.  It serves no purpose, all that hope.  My attorney told me, at the meeting, that she has never experienced the kinds of delays being imposed by my ex.  I am not surprised at all.  This is his normal.

Today I will sew.  Really.  I am organized enough to make the cold/hot packs that I need for the sweet office person at the school where I mentor.  She has migraines and uses a bad of ice cubes wrapped in a cloth to help her at work.  I am surprising her by actually making the packs that I said I would make a month ago.  Yay me.

Soup first, a bit of reading and then sewing, in a warmer than usual environment.  Warmer.  Bliss.

Friday, February 1, 2013


That is the temperature here.  Inside.  Outside it is near zero. I would think that the extra forty degrees would make the inside positively balmy.  I am wrong.

The mouse is too cold to hold.  The keyboard has some kind of plastic that feels much better.  Everything in here is cold.  CoolCat's fur feels cold to me.  We were nestled nicely on the sofa, comforters under and over us.  Shirts, hoodie, robe, lots of socks, slippers, blanket over all the rest and that wonderful quilt on top.  It was the first time I did not feel like I have been laying on a slab somewhere, name tag on my big toe. 

My landlord quickly responded to my call, made after I had tried all of the thermostat buttons, singly, in various combinations, for varying lengths of time, changing the batteries twice.  Even looking for the owner's manual for the thermostat on-line, which is where I got the info to try changing the batteries.

Landlord was here for over an hour, trying all kinds of things, handy person that he is.  Swapped out the darn thing for a new one.  Still without success.  He is not a HVAC guy, neither am I, so he called his regular furnace guy, who is now here.  Within minutes he had the display back on and is now in the basement making certain the furnace is working properly and that none of will die in our sleep tonight, or even later during afternoon nap time, which might not happen because I have been internalizing heat with coffee and tea all day.  You know, I really need to think about buying some decaf beverages that can be hot.

I am thinking that my usual 55F is going to seem positively tropical in comparison to what it is now.  The sun is going down and the temp is dropping in here. 

Oh, gosh, the furnace just came on!  The air coming up through the vent is awfully cool, but that is surely going to change soon.  Just put my toes over it again, still cool.  But, there is hope. 

As for the landlord, I am mostly uninformed about what having one is like, but this guy seems like a decent one.  He responded to my call in less than a half-hour, and he lives in another town.  The furnace guy was here a scant hour after he was contacted, he got the thing going, actual warm air, and everyone lived happily every after.

Well, maybe not, even kind of sad is bearable if you are warm enough.