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

Thursday, October 31, 2013


I am thankful about so many things that I cannot remember all of them.  That is not true, I am grateful, but I also remember every single good thing that has happened to me, all of my life fershure, but most especially this past year and a half.

I can recall each of them, in excruciating and sweet detail.  My memory is good.  Good enough to make being in relationship with me difficult.  Not impossible, but if someone remembers everything, it is sometimes uncomfortable, on dozens of levels, not the least is that it becomes impossible to lie to that person about past conversations, events and stuff like that.  Not that I hold people to the same burden of memory that I have, and the simple truth is that I have my memories/truth, the other person/people have their own memories/truth and somewhere in the middle...or at either end...the actual truth about what was said or what happened.

Everything we remember is filtered through our emotions and beliefs at the time when memories are captured.

Except, whilst my memory is not eidetic, it is precise and includes sounds, smells, the weather, what everyone there was wearing, where they were standing/sitting, and on.  Yeah, I would not be all that eager to have me as a friend, either.

It was especially difficult for my ex.  He knew that I had this creepy memory capability.  He still lied to me, about me and bullied and bashed me into total agreement with what he said and did; my compliance was part of his control over me.  Long and boring memories, frankly, moving on.

Anyway, I had an occasion for being thankful and the opportunity to express that this afternoon.  Thursday is my default head day.  It begins with my spiritual adviser, followed by my therapist and then group.  One stop shopping/expanding/shrinking/sharing.  All I have to do is remember to keep the parking meter fed.  Since the day is pretty much shot after all of that hard work, the afternoon is for laundry, where I get to relax with a book, just sitting, people-watching and chilling.  Sometimes I sit and stare, zone out, and, really, it is the laundromat, so who cares.  It is a nice couple of hours.

Just as I arrived there, I noticed a woman across the room and went to say hello to my old friend, C.  She said that she had looked up, thought she recognized me and was not sure and was not going to say 'hey'.

Not only was it nice to see and talk to her, but it is an opportunity for which I have been waiting for a whole year.

One of her sons was my ex's attorney.  As bad at that experience was, the whole terrible and abuse-riddled divorce process, the one, singular and not-horrible thing was his attorney.  Despite my limited knowledge of how difficult he might have been as a client, that man, the attorney, seemed to be one of the most honorable people I have ever known.  Or, met I guess.  No matter, he was a plain decent person and I sometimes think that if my ex had stumbled upon or searched for less decent legal representation, that we would still not be divorced and every last cent would have been stolen and I would have given up long ago.

Fortunately, I had a decent attorney as well.  Expensive, but ultimately successful in helping me move on and do so with a portion of what I should have received.  Different attorneys and I would have nothing, so yay for good lawyers.  Yay.

So, anyway, I was able to share how deeply I respect M with his mother.  Surely she already knows what a fine son he is, what an amazing...and decent and honorable...person she and her husband raised.  And, of course since she and worked in the same school all those years ago, and because my daughter was one of her favorite students, and because we still hold each other in high regard, it was the nicest kind of love fest.  Like, really nice.

Then, her husband, B, rolled up in their SUV, accompanied by their little dog, I was able to say hello to him and share just a few words about his fine son.

So, not only have I been able to be thankful for this honorable attorney, it has been one of the few not horrible memories that I have from all of that mess, I was able to nearly re-experience those feelings again with his mother.  I asked her to share my thanks and gratitude with him and to give him a hug from me.  That might not be appropriate litigant behavior, but none of us are litigating any more and no attorneys are being hired and paid, so, well, go sue me for wanting him to know how much I appreciated, still do, who he is and how he is.

He represented my ex beautifully, and I was able to appreciate this only when everything was nearing the final resolutions a few months ago.  That is just prior to finding out that he was my old friend's son, someone I had never met or knew much about in the first place.

Crazy, huh?

Yet, if he had been a bad player in this whole mess of a divorce, I would probably not give a rat's patootie about any of this, just the way I feel about my ex.  Just a thought, but it is stuff like this good son/lawyer/person issue that keeps defaulting into thinking about my ex.  Crazy.

I am also thankful that we are beginning my new program at work.  Tomorrow is the first day that I will be using the computer lab (where they conduct computer use classes) for the exclusive use by people who need to use the Internet for job hunting and related tasks.  I plan on being really strict about keeping everyone focused on employment-related stuff, but I am used to working with middle-aged toddlers who easily lose focus.  Maybe I could offer a reward of after-session treats as a bribe for staying on task and not using the time to check their social media accounts or play Mah Jongg.

Thanks for everything.
So long, and thanks for all the fish.
Thanks for the memories.
Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for the heads-up.
Thanks from the bottom of my heart.
Thank ya for bein' mah friend...
“A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all other virtues.”  Cicero

Life is so freaking good.  Who woulda thunk it.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


I turned the furnace today.  My intention was to wait until it was consistently 52F indoors.  It was what I did last year to save money, and what I was going to do this winter season, as well.

When I looked at the thermostat a few minutes ago, it was at 55F, and I thought, 'well, great, only two more degrees before I can fire up the beast in the basement'.  Then I came to my desk to begin working and had to uncover one of the heating vents, where I had placed a box with some papers that do not have a permanent home.  I guess that if they are simply tossed into that box that their home should probably in the trash.

On the top of that orphan pile was a sheet of paper, folded in the way that I do for the handouts from the domestic violence survivor support group.  Some of those meditations I just throw away when I get home, but others resonate for me and I hang on to them.  I do not keep them in any kind of meditations that might be useful again place, and I often find those saved thoughts on my desk or in my purse or one of my bags.  Maybe on the little table in my bedroom, or in the car. 

When I come across one, I unfold the paper and read it again.  The message on this one is titled "Owning Our Power."  The pages are from a book of meditations by Melody Beattie.  One is shared each week as a starting point or the only point if no one has anything they want to share or discuss, which, frankly, never happens.  Yeah.

Anyway, this one concerns the patterns and habits we develop when in relationship to someone who is not good for us.  Relationship-wise.  It is about being held under the spell of someone, and says, halfway in:

"There may be a powerful tug-of-war between feelings of anger and our need to be loved and accepted, or between our head and our heart."

and a bit further:

"We don't have to stay under a spell."

Whilst most of the ideas and thoughts in these meditations (interesting aside is that I keep typing medications instead of meditations) are spot on for my relationship from that other life, as surely is for other people, not everyone of course, but some people, caught in the thrall of someone in their lives that they use and keep because it feeds their own pathology, their own need to be treated badly, and more importantly, their need and desire to not take personal responsibility and make the changes in their own beliefs and behaviors that they use as a barrier and excuse for moving forward and taking care of themselves.

I am not making excuses for the creepazoids who abuse others, but only that I believe that this aspect is a part of my marriage.  It was not in the beginning of our relationship, the ex and I.  I bonded with him, married him and stayed for most of those years because I loved him like crazy (important word, I am thinking, right now).  It was only later that I was sufficiently groomed and tested that what he did became the determining consideration in every single way that I responded and behaved.

This is important.

That process was so gradual as to be unnoticed, like the transit that the earth makes around the sun.  Sure, we notice the rotation that brings us dawn and day and night.  We notice how we tilt and enter winter, to be followed by spring (short that it may be) and gardening fun and round the heart and measure of seasons, the Turning of the Wheel.  However, we do not notice the more than three-hundred days it takes for our little planet to circumnavigate the sun, at precisely the distance that allow life to exist here.  Well, at least until we screw it completely up...another story, but the metaphor is just as precise for how I have lived, as the conditions that make our planet the glorious and nearly unbelievably amazing place it is.

I always had choices about how I would treat other people and how they would treat me.  I just did not believe it, or that choice was even possible.  I marvel at that whole thing.  Surely he did not meet me and decide that I was the one who could be molded into the submissive person he wanted in his life.  Surely he did not marry me with the intentions to manipulate and mistreat me.  Surely I did not enter all of that mess with the purpose of being hurt or the goal of being killed.  Surely there was love there at some point in his heart; perhaps not the same quality of crazy love that I had, but there must have been some sort of caring and loving and cherishing and good will.

I think about this more and more, wondering where that moment was when things could have gone in a better direction if I had only noticed or understood what was happening.  As hard as I think, I cannot find a single time when I could have done something different enough to change that direction.  I have been using the road not taken process and they all lead to dead ends.  I would have had to be aware and much smarter when we first began becoming closer.  I can think of many times when I should have walked away, but that is now, back then I was too stupid to notice, too immature to make better decisions, too needy for that crazy love.

So.  Here I am.  I feel regret for not making choices that would have been good for both of us.  I do not regret leaving, though, because it was the only choice.  Not the most reasonable, not the most supportive for both of us, not the most understanding or loyal or generous, and certainly not what he wanted.

It was the only choice.

Now, with this past year supporting me, I am choosing different things. 


I have chosen to decline a job that would use my skills and energy is a great way, but does not support my desire to work directly with people. The job required creating relationships with companies and organizations that ultimately support the kind of work I prefer to do, but lack the personal interaction I want.  I have developed the beginnings of a plan to free-lance my services to several agencies.  I am in the middle of creating a new program at the library, so that agency work is temporarily on the side.

I have chosen to get rid of perfectly usable things and replace them with frugal items that more properly and personally reflect who I am and what I want.  First I donated the dishes from that old life, replacing them with the least weird choice I could find in my price range.  Then, I donated those and bought another least onerous set and they work perfectly with the mugs I already have and I am completely satisfied with them.    Things fall into alignment when I pay attention to this stuff.

I have made a choice to not be at the beck-and-call of a friend.  I have been helping her a lot recently, with a head lice problem.  She makes it very difficult to complete the process of getting rid of those little bastards, who do not exist anywhere but on our heads and do not provide benefit to anyone or anything.  Anyway, she is tired of the burden of lice and whilst she has plenty of people in her life that could be helping her as well, I am the only person she asks and am the only person with whom she feels comfortable venting and talking.   This week she made unreasonable demands on my time and I declined to change my schedule from the days and times on which we had agreed.  She was particularly incensed because I would not put off doing laundry until next week.  I go to the laundromat, she has a washer and dryer a dozen steps from her kitchen.  I am allowed to refuse to let people take advantage of me.  She called me today to hint about me coming to help her again, and I kept silent and did not offer.  I could hear her frustration and the stress in her voice, but I kept thinking that if she wants help, she needs to ask for it.  My offering all the time, other people just hinting or stating their needs, none of it is good for any of us.    Of course, I could be asking for what I want, but that is not going to happen any time soon.  I will continue to take care of my own needs.  It is what it is.

I chose to turn on the furnace.  It is a choice that is connected to feeling and acting poor, which is silly because I am relatively poor.  To turn on the heat and have it higher than 52F is a huge financial decision on my part, one that requires me to use savings intended for emergencies.  Like, if I get sick or the car breaks down, or whatever crappy thing might happen.  This heat/furnace/extra-expense thing is an exercise in trust.  I am deciding that if I use this money to be warm this winter that I will have what I need should crappy stuff happen.  My only regret with this is that I could not do this last year when CoolCat was still here.  Both of us could have been comfortable.  I am also preparing for when the utility bill comes.  Lordy.

As long as I am spending money willy-nilly, I am choosing to buy better food.  'nough said, and on to actually doing it.  Since last Thursday, I have had pumpkin ravioli, the most delicious beef soup ever (with more cooked beef cubes in the freezer for next week), roasted butternut squash, lovely bread.  Today I will be making a curried squash and sweet potato soup.  It will be a nice pot and I am hoping to have enough left for lunch tomorrow.

I may have intentions when I begin to write, have something I want to work out, but the truth is that the process takes what it needs, and (like painting) decides what it wants to say.  So it is here.  All I wanted to write about was feeling empowered to turn on the damn furnace.  What I got was an understanding of how the decisions I am making are, well, they are considered.  I am not lurching along anymore, I am making changes in my life that make sense, both right now and for the future.  I never would have believed or dreamed that I would have everything I have now, this great life.  Man.

Today signifies something else.  It is the one-year anniversary of the murder of an abused wife and two of her fellow employees by her ex-husband.  I was newly installed in this flat at that time.  At work we were all settling in to the belief that my ex would not bother me there.  There was a series of murders of women who had been in abusive relationships, including a police officer, and I can, even now, hardly express how distressing that was.  The deaths of those women and the havoc caused in their families seemed like a personal loss.  If they could be killed, with all of the precautions they took, then no one was safe.  Not women, certainly not children, not men who are abused.  Along with those incidents were schools and malls and random killings all over the country.  There have been recent ones, too, and I have to wonder if there were always so many terrible and intimate crimes or am I more attuned to them now.  I wonder if I will ever feel safe from that other life.  Maybe this insecurity about safety is one of the costs of being here now.

Did you know that today is the 216th anniversary of the first parachute jump?  Talk about courage.  Or, maybe stupidity, but I prefer to think of it as the embracing of adventure, willingness to take extraordinary chances and change the concept of what one might be capable.

During this process, the entirety of the past few years, especially this last year and a half, I have been challenging my old notions and beliefs about what life might be, of what risks I might be willing to take to have this new life. All of these things are how and why I am so invested in crafting my life, and it is a constant amazement how inter-connected and relevant so many things are.  Everything that spewed out of me today is part and parcel of the kind of forward movement I need right now.

I need to be more conscious and respectful of how this works.  Now, off to make soup, and maybe set a loaf of bread to rise.

Saturday, October 19, 2013


I am posting this in both places.

Today, since Saturday morning coffee was cancelled, I am cleaning a bit, organizing a bit more and trying to do nothing useful.  I was reading articles on Yahoo! and just had to click on a story about the yearnings and obsession for a gold some-kind-of-smarter-than-me phone.

As I read I thought that even though I try to avoid judge what other people want or have or use, I was being screamingly judgmental about this guy.  And, I felt badly about it, at least until I read some of the article's comments and found that my petty judging was not an isolated thought.  I had company.

Following that, more articles, a couple of recipes that look delicious but that I will never make.  Then, two more, articles, not recipes.

They concern different aspects of poverty, and I am drawn to them, not only because finances are a major area of struggle for many of my clients, but because I have experienced it myself.  I know that I harp on this, but the truth is that financial insecurity is a huge problem, not only for the poor...whatever the hell that is supposed to define anyway...but for many other families, those who are barely living from paycheck to paycheck.  Fewer and fewer people are managing savings accounts and are not more than a missed pay period away from being destitute.

We are entering winter in this geography and there was an announcement this week that people had until a certain date to clear up and either pay their past-due utility bills or make some kind of arrangement with the company, which, here, is one company for both electricity and gas for heating and cooking.  However, we have a state law that makes sure that no one goes without heat during the colder months.  There are some people who never catch up on what they owe and I cannot imagine what that might be like.

I have been happy in my life.  I have been afraid and lonely and just plain scared to death.  I have been confused and stupid, careless and just plain heartless, and I will be all of those things again and again and, yet, again.  Maybe even today.  What I am not currently is poor.  What I am, currently, is a person who is trying to do her best to make tiny pokes at the system of poverty here in my own town.  I cannot express how important this is to me.  I survived that other life and the way I honor and pay back for every good and decent thing that has been offered to me since then is to continue to do this work to the best of my ability.

And, it truly is very tiny, my work.  I admire and support those who make efforts on a large, even global, scale.  That is infinitely beyond my abilities, but I can help in my own and very local ways.  I will most likely never make all that big of a difference in the life of anyone, but I do not care.  This is about the moments and my recent bout with envy and how I am doing everything in my power to foster healing and recovery in my life.  I wonder sometimes if all of this work is part of my pathology.  No matter.

Two viewpoints of many:

CNBC - U.S. News
As holidays near, food stamp recipients face cut
Published: Saturday, 19 Oct 2013 | 9:00 AM ET
By: Allison Linn    | CNBC Senior Business and Economics Reporter|finance|headline|headline|story&par=yahoo&doc=101118630|As%20holidays%20near,%20food%20st

Yahoo News
Imagine - no extreme poverty. It's possible by 2030, says report.
Eric Pfeiffer, Published Saturday, October 19th

Friday, October 18, 2013


At group yesterday, we did an exercise in feelings.  We had that with the person who previously led the group, but I think that I was the only one who remembered.  It is a full page, four columns, some positive feelings, others not so much.

One that I was struggling with last time/previous therapist was envy.  During that other life I do not remember being particularly envious or jealous of anyone or anything they might have in their lives that I did not have.

Oh, sure, it would have been nice to be loved and to feel safe, but the truth was that my needs and wants were small.  I guess there was not any room for desperately wanting more than love and safety. 

Now, in my new life, I have lots of stuff, much more than I thought even a few months ago.  When I left last year and was in hiding, I had only what I carried with me that day.  After three weeks my attorney arranged for me to return to the house to get clothes and medications and shampoo and things like that.  My daughter and a couple of friends helped and during those visits, they brought boxes and threw as much of my art stuff into them as possible and put them in storage for me.

After the first divorce hearing, he was ordered out of the house and had a two week deadline to remove anything he wanted.  He did so, but through the process of getting rid of everything and preparing the house for sale I found many of his things that he had missed.  I made sure that he got them, and then went to work clearing everything out.

As I was doing that it was clear that the two of us had more stuff than any dozen people should have.  Family and friends were invited to come and take anything they liked.  I kept my bed, some clothes and a wardrobe.  I did that because I had no prospects about where to live.  I had no money and my ex made it very clear that he was keeping all of our assets.  It came as a difficult surprise to find out that when the house sold, that the proceeds went into a trust account, to be divided after the final decree.  He asked to withdraw most of what he believed to be his share and I agreed, despite opposition from my attorney.

Frankly, even though it would be a long time before I was comfortable taking that share, I knew that I could not take all of that crap with me or put it in storage or anything.  So, I have what I have, and most of that is because I have friends who wanted to help and then did a fine job of doing just that.  It is still too much and whilst I am finally going through, tossing and organizing and donating, it is interesting that I feel weird about the process, but that is for another time.

So, anyway I have lots of stuff.  I have my life and I am moving strongly, moving-moving-moving. into feelings of safety.  The longer the periods between threats, the better.  I think that now that everything is settled, the energy on that other side is much less, maybe even fading away completely.  I no longer startle when I hear a car door close or slide into a panic attack when someone walks onto the porch.

As all of those feelings regarding safety decrease, there seems to be room for some submerged feelings to surface, and one of them is envy.  It is not the only one, but it is around a lot lately.

At first I discounted it, attributing it to gaining control over my depression.  New meds were working well, few side-effects and it is increasingly easier to manage even the really challenging days.

It pops up every once in a while and surprises me each time.  An example was yesterday.  I was exhausted from therapy, group and spending the early afternoon at the laundromat.  In that little strip mall there is a regular grocery store.  I do all of my food shopping at the two discount markets in town, as well as the dollar stores.  And, I do very well at those places.  I started home.

But, feeling depleted and dreading the kinds of energy drain that shopping at those markets, brought me back into the strip mall parking lot and I shopped at the regular grocery store.

It was amazing.  The place is huge.  I had forgotten how really big it is.  It is full of the most amazing things.  I bought some of them. 

Pink Lady apples instead of a bag of non-crunchy no-name apples.
Two small pieces of beef and a rump roast instead of a couple of frozen rolls of ground meat.
Iceberg lettuce.
Celery and frozen green beans were on sale for the same price they are at the discount markets.  Score!!!!
Same thing for butter and a few other items.
There were other things that were way beyond my budget, things I usually buy, and I will get them next week at my usual stores.
I am drinking, right this moment, diet ginger ale that was on sale for a crazy cheap price.  Yum. 

There is absolutely nothing wrong or missing with the food I usually buy.  Being in that large, bright and fancy market was interesting.  Mostly in a good way.  

It was a period of pure indulgence, and I am glad that I did it.  How lame that is.  And, it is not that I feel deprived about where I can afford to shop, because I do not.  It does not stress me a bit, and it allows me to have money to spend on other things I could not afford otherwise.  Like this computer and my monthly fees to connect to the Internet.  Not giving that up.

So, here is where envy comes in. 

I felt envious about all of the things I could not buy there.  Stupid.  I know that.  I am well fed and very happy with everything, absolutely everything.  And, yet, there it was.  Regret about having to watch what I was spending.  I noticed that I felt nothing about what other people were buying, only the items I was not buying, but sort of, kind of, wanted to put in my cart.  Stupid.

Same thing happened last week at group.  One of the women was telling about her 214 purses and how difficult it is to organize them.  She struggles, receives help and can have as many of anything she likes.  I do not particularly like purses, or shoes for that matter, but I felt envy about her purses, handbags, clutches, and pocketbooks.  Stupid.

One of the other employees where I do most of my work has the most wonderful and cute assortment of holiday sweaters.  Just seeing them, well, I feel happier when she wears them.  I feel envy at that abundance, even though I would never wear any of them myself.  Stupid.

There are a few more, but I cannot remember any of them, so they were/are probably just as stupid.

Except that it is not dumb.  Or really all that stupid. 

As I become healthier, as I heal and recover, I have room in my life for all sorts of things, feelings included, and they all are not going to be fun.  As much as we might want, it simply cannot be high noon, sun shining, birds singing and unicorns frolicking with the bunnies.  Sometimes it is gloomy and it rains or snows and I am alone in the meadow.  All I can hear is the wind and the patter of drops on the leaves and feel the water dripping from my hair.  The air smell delicious, though I do miss the bunnies.

So it is with my new range of feelings.  It was not safe to have them in that other life.  They are not only possible now, they are welcome, they are honored and fully experienced, as it is true that there is no light without darkness.

Not stupid.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

best compliment ever

Thank you so much.  No one would help me at xxxxxxxx.  You're a nice lady.

It does not get better than that.  Nothing can compete with hearing those words.  Except for stuff my family says to me, but that is another part of my Universe, and, so there.

Today began badly.  I overslept by an hour and a half.  Yep.  Even I can hardly believe it.  Rush.  No breakfast.  No biscuit baking for my lunch today so that I could make little sandwiches from the left-over corned beef.  So, I was forced to craft a sandwich from orange infused dark chocolate wrapped around a slice of beef and an apple slice.

It was surprisingly good, but I now have a stomach ache.  Not a repeatable recipe.

My first two clients were no-shows.  We waffle back and forth here about whether or not to telephone these folk the day before to remind them of their appointments. Like they do here for registrants to the computer classes and like the doctor's office does, and no-shows are not only an inconvenience, but can be costly.  I get that.

I have finally ended the debate by choosing to not make those phone calls.  People come to me because they experienced or are still having trouble finding and keeping jobs.

And, my belief is that dragging themselves over here and doing the pre-job work they need is their responsibility.  No employer is going to make daily calls or deliver reminders to anyone concerning their need to be at work the next day/shift.

They need to remember for themselves.  Period.

Now, if I did not always have work to do, a seemingly endless process of research and support for all of my clients, that might be different.  Sitting here, twiddling something, would not be my first choice of activity, even if there were the potential of a client actually showing up for his/her appointment.  To have that person show up on time would be welcome.  And surprising.  There are exceptions.  My first client after lunch was a half hour early because she could not wait to get started.  It was nice and I kind of expected it of her when we spoke last week.

She did some really hard and successful work, as well.  I wish that I could say that the majority of the people with whom I work are like her, but they are not.  One of the reasons they come to see me is that they have consumed all of their other available resources.  They arrive, if they arrive, late, are unprepared and unwilling to do the work.

I have had clients fall asleep whilst I am typing something we just discussed.  This same client missed several appointments, and his solution to oversleeping was that I would call him an hour before he was supposed to be here, wake him up and then he would not miss his scheduled time.  I did not call and he has not made another appointment

I have had clients arrive reeking of alcohol.  When I mention it, the single, every-single-time, reply is "Oh, that's from last night."

Really?  Well, I guess it can be, as alcohol, especially in quantity takes as long as it takes to metabolize in each unique body, so it is possible to reek when you show up here after lunch for your appointment.  Really?  Maybe if you consider 5:00 a.m. to still be part of last night.  I mean, in the winter time it is still dark outside.  Looks like night.  Yep.

I had a client who made appointments and showed up only if it did not interfere with anything else that came along, oh, like having coffee with a friend.  He is also the person who told me that he does not get any respect when he goes for interviews.  His interest is in law enforcement and he believes that when he arrives for an interview (and, he has had quite a few) that someone should first give him a tour of the place before discussing the job.  I do not give him the respect he deserves, either, because he now is prohibited from making appointments, although he can call in the morning, and if there is an opening in the schedule, he can have that slot.  He actually did that, once, and did not show up.  He also arrived on another day and wanted the open appointment that was there when he called in the morning, did not want to be written in the schedule book (because he had missed the previous time) and was incensed that it had been filled during those several hours by someone who had the nerve to actually show up.  Really.  The nerve.

There are a great many clients who are angry and frustrated at losing what they believed to be life-long employment, as our economy worsens in some sectors and companies have to more strictly steward their resources.  It is unfortunate that loyal, mostly hard-working employees are losing their livelihoods through no fault of their own.

They arrive feeling defensive, particularly when they meet me.  My first name is kind of ambiguous, not all that gender specific, and there were lots of times when I was producing art that patrons or potential customers would be surprised to discover that I am female.  So, I get, and I honor that from them.

When we start to work and they have to define and share their work experience, they become more defensive, often confrontational.  In that early part of the process, the stark details of the work they have done appears to be quantitatively less than the real and actual experience of what they do.  It is only through working through the process that we, as a team, pull out and properly express the work to which many of them have devoted their lives.

It is no surprise that this is more difficult for men.

Another client just left.  Another Thanks.  No "You're a nice lady.", but I did get a "This is amazing.  I can't wait until next time."

Good day.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Not only have I not wasted a single scrap of food in the past three weeks...a record for me, I think..., but I have leftovers for lunch tomorrow at work.

Corned beef, tomatoes, a lovely apple and I will be baking a pan of crescent rolls in the morning (from a can) so that I can cobble together something resembling a sandwich.  No pickles, though.

I have a ton of eggs to use up quickly, or my record will have to be reset.  I am thinking of making deviled eggs for group on Thursday.

So, why the domesticity tale?  It is another sign of increasing good mental health.

Wasting stuff is a big part of having depression.

Depression sucks the energy right out of your core.  All of the frugal shopping and good intentions will not make it any less likely that food will be bought and never cooked before it expires into a science project.

Depression is not all that much fun.  Medication helps, of course, but the wonky parts of my brain will always be just on the other side of the drugs, waiting for the slightest crack to wiggle through.

If I want to have a good life, a healthy life, I have to pay attention.  This time it meant no wasted food.  Woo.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

a whole week

My toe is still broken, although it no longer hurts enough to command my full attention.  My back is worse, despite careful exercise and enough rest.

I finally finished the dishes and cleaned the kitchen and part of the bathroom.  More laundry to do.  Gosh, this stuff never ends, but at least now what I have to do is just for me, waaaaay down from catering to someone who was never satisfied.  It is difficult to express how wonderful that is.  I will not even try.

One of my friends is battling with head lice.  She told me that she got it from her grandchild(ren), but my best guess is that the critters jumped to her head from her recently-resident old boyfriend from the past.  She already knows that I do not have any problems with this relationship, as she asked me, and as I really do not give a rat's fanny about what anyone else does.  It is heartfelt and kind of silly that she wants my approval.

Anyway, in the past month she has used four...count 'em, four...of those insecticide treatments.  Frankly, despite the potential harm (almost certain is my best guess, given the ingredients), were my noggin infected with them, I would have most likely have crafted a contraption to contain my entire scalp and worn it constantly, filled to the the most powerful chemicals available.  As it is, researching, going through her hair and doing the more holistic treatment that we tried on Friday, hell, even thinking about it, makes my head itch like crazy.

She has no one to help her, despite having three sons, an equal number of daughters-in-law and several nearly adult grandchildren who live mere minutes from her.  Even better is that over the past several years she has supported two of those families, financially and by having them live with her for years at a time, during which most of her furniture was destroyed.

Sorry, had to stop and scratch my head.

Because of my back pain, I will not be returning for more lice fun until tomorrow, when I will stop on the way over there for lice combs, some Cetaphil and hair clips.  Scratch.  Digdigdig.  I need a bookcase, and yes, one can actually need a bookcase rather than just want one.

I called her today and she is so close to losing it, like the whole thing, the entire Kielbasa even.  I rang her to make sure that she has set aside enough hours to properly go through her hair and scalp and scrape the nits off of her hair strands and drag those lousy louses, kicking and screaming, or what it is that lice do, off of  her head, and, hopefully, far away from mine.  Scritch-scritch.

She has.  She also went to the store yesterday for more poisons and because the itching is still making her insane-er, she went out and bought more this morning.  She promised to not use it today, but I will not be the teeniest bit surprised if she does use it. 

I do not blame her.  Even though I am at least a little concerned that the residual poisons may take advantage of my compromised immune system and that I will feel the effects, my main concern is that she might have entirely too much of that crap in her body already.  I could stop and research that issue, but, at this point, well, it is pointless, and not in the best interest of anyone to add an additional layer of suffering or concern.

I just took the opportunity to conduct more scratching to get a handful of the gloves I use for cleaning.  That should keep any of that stuff from being absorbed by my skin.

Lordy.  I wish that she had called me about this weeks ago.  I understand that it shamed her that no one would help her, and it breaks my heart that she finally had enough of feeling her scalp crawling all the damn time before she reached out.

We do battle tomorrow.  Full assault, followed by another holistic treatment, then another hunting mission on Thursday, and again on Saturday.

Lest anyone think me noble or caring, if I catch these miserable bastards, I may never talk to anyone again.


Sunday, October 6, 2013


First of all, I have so much abundance in my life that it is shameful for me to want anything, and I mean things that are other than material.  All my whining about being lonely and afraid is just so much crap.  Same thing for meaning and who knows what else; I cannot remember all of the angst I have been spewing over the past  months.

I know what poverty is, had it as a child, we were a large family, lived in the country, and were certainly not alone.  I really did not know how little we had until high school.  The middle part, that other life was much better financially.  I did not share much of my ex's resources, but I made my own money and was able to take care of what needed taking care.

Past year and a half has brought me back to my early days and I am more than grateful that I know how to live without lots of things, like money.  I am still waiting for the financial stuff to finish, and when that happens (I am no longer willing to say "if", as it does not serve me in any positive way), I will not have to worry about paying my bills, which are pretty frugal anyway.

Anyway, and I am certain that I have been expressing this for some time, I am stopping crying poor and most especially poor me.  I have enough stuff to last me several lifetimes.  Fortunately, I was a clean freak and brought all of those products along with me.  Now that it is just me, and perhaps another cat in time, there is hardly anything to clean.  Unless I take something to use and it stays out of place for a while, it looks like no one lives here most of the time.  But, I digress and I am finally accepting that the abundance in my life is more than I need.  So, no more of that crap.

And, these are the proof the abundance faerie folk have treated me well.

In the process of finally unpacking I found some more clothes, a pair of sandals, a bra and a two top sheets.  Yay.  I have never  found my winter coat, but did well without it last winter because someone gave me a woolen shawl or cape or floppy coat or whatever it is.  Layered, it works a charm.  Since this place has only one small closet, maybe four feet wide, it is such a pleasure to have all of my clothes, like every single thing, with room left over for paper toweling, toilet paper, seldom used kitchen stuff and my laundry basket.  Yay.

I am ready for winter temperatures, have all of my fleecy pants, my socks and a black, zippered sweat suit jacket with a hood.  I suppose it is a hoodie, and have no idea why I had to describe it otherwise.  I still do not have lights on at night, which really makes a huge difference when the bill comes every month.  Mild weather costs, without the furnace, have been around $30-35 per month.  I am not looking forward to another $166 heating bill, though.

I am keeping the thermostat set at 52F, will dress warmly indoors and I stopped at one of the big hardware stores yesterday and bought a large roll of that window plastic that you tape up (bought the special tape, too).  It looks like I will be able to do two windows with that stuff, with some left over so that the boys can shrink-wrap some of their toys.  Yay.

I stopped at Aldi for fresh vegetables and came home with those along with a couple of those over-the-door hanger things.  They were marked down to $1.99 because they are kind of flimsy, but the hanger part looked deep enough to fit over the freakishly thick doors here.  So, now there is one in the little closet that holds the circuit breaker and one over the front door, on the inside, so that I will be able to hang my wet coat this winter, instead of jumping and trying to toss it over the top of my bedroom door.

Now, does that sound, any speck of it, like someone who is poor?  I thought so.  And, if people will stop trying to hire me to be a case manager or vocational I could really do either of those jobs, I mean, what are they thinking...and I can find a part-time job doing what I trained to do, then my cups will overfloweth like crazy.

Oh, I almost forgot about the weekend.  I met my friends for coffee yesterday morning.  It was nice and I kept steering my part of the conversation away from all of the political stuff that is beleaguering everyone, although not me because I think I know everything, donchano.  Hah!

I took every last piece of textiles to the laundromat, and except for what I wore yesterday and what I am wearing today and the fresh sheets on my bed, every single item is cleaned and put away.  Yay.

Sometime on Thursday I broke the little toe on my left foot.  It might have been at the laundromat.  Whilst I am not whining or groaning and moaning about all that other stuff, I would like to share that my toe and foot hurt like the dickens.  Like any good, responsible health consumer I went to the best medical resource, the Internet, and if it should ever come up, the traditional, probably folk-lorish as well, remedy is that there is no remedy and you should just tape the broken toe to the toe next to it.  It is helpful to know that that remedy causes more pain.  Just saying.  But, no griping.  None.  Not any more.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

city life

Today was interesting, but that is for later.

Therapy first, which was all over the place.  A lot of the conversation was about my certifications and that I should be ever so proud to have taken the training and getting such high grades on the exams.  Woo.

I shared that I actually did attend last week's wedding, well, at least part of it.  I am still dwelling on I needed the social lubrication of martinis and wine, but at least I went and the chances are somewhere in the range of possible-to-good that I might  honor a future invite.

Group followed, with a weird video about some man, standing on an empty stage, red velvet audience seats empty as well, shouting, murmuring affirmations about being a woman.  You know the stuff, you are beautiful, you are talented, you are smart, you can do anything.  And, if you are not believing those things about yourself, you can be comforted to know that God loves you and thinks that you are all of those things.

So far, so good. 

Then he named Ester and three more women from the Bible and talked about how powerful and important they were in their time(s), and I thought, 'well, how cool, but how is it that except for the Unitarian church down the street, non of the other denominations really allow women to hold any positions of authority'.

As a former Catholic, I am always interested in Popes, especially the current one.  He has said some pretty radical things since his term (wrong word?) began, including the news this week that he is opening up all of the church's financial information.  I am certain that announcement has a whole bunch of people feeling a whole bunch of nervous.

However, and keep in mind that I really do not care if women can be priests, not being all that interested, and yet felt minimized as a member of the female species when he reiterated the traditional Catholic practice of women not allowed to be priests and that would not change under his rule (wrong word?).

Other than that, the four minutes of that little film was not bad, and it led to a nice and meaningful dialogue.

All of that happened right down the street from where I live.  Here.  In the city. Woo.

Next, back home to gather up the hills of dirty laundry and wrangle that mountain of dirty fabrics into the car and the short drive to a new laundromat, which is close enough to reach on the bus for when I have to get rid of the car.  The place is huge and was empty, save for one man.  During the time I was there, lots of people came and went, filling the washing machines, returning to transfer their stuff to the dryers, leaving and I thought, 'how cool this place is, and safe'.

One of the cool things is that they have...yippee...60 pound washing machines, which hold four regular loads for only 3/4 of the cost.  I filled two of those babies.  Woo.

Unfortunately, after I poured in the detergent, the machine would not accept the full measure of quarters and refused to return the $5.50 I had dropped through the slot.  Then began a round of asking if any of the, now, four people who were currently in the place if they had any experience with the machines.  For one woman, it was her second time there and for the rest of us it was our first, so no experiences to share.  The son of the first woman told me that there was a telephone number on the front door.  There were two and it was only after listening to the message at the second number that I was instructed to call a third number, where I finally reached a real person.  He was nice and told me that I was really nice.  Part of that is me, not yelling, arguing with him or crying, as I explained that I was well versed in working with the public.  Part of that is something he does not know, and it is that I never yell or argue or give anyone a hard time.

Crying.  I was able to do that for the first time last month on the last day CoolCat and I said good-bye.  I have not cried in several decades, so weeping that day came as a surprise.  It would have been an enormous disappointment had I not wept, but I did not realize of feel that until much later.  I have had several more opportunities to cry, but the tears are back to not coming when they would make my pain less.  No release.  So be it.

Anyway, the third number guy is meeting me at the laundromat tomorrow morning to return the money from the reluctant machine, who took my cash and then backed out of our new, albeit short relationship.

Not only is all of this possible because I live downtown in a medium-sized city, it is possible because I saved my life last year and have now been living in my own, dear place for a year. 

And, the city aspect is with me all day long, even when I am at work, doing other volunteering, washing my duds, shrinking my head, banking or chewing my nails with stress as I await me meds, and the final total, at the little pharmacy. 

I see people walking their dogs and their children and other adults.  I get to watch the three dogs across the street pointlessly confront people passing by their fence, whilst their own people relax on the porch, drinking, eating and fussing with the people in the next house.  I really like those guys.

When I am in the area of the therapy/group place, I am able to observe and meet so many interesting, one might even say fascinating, people.  Just like I do at my main gig.  I learn so many things when I am in that part of downtown.  The laundromat was the same today.  The hungry and stingy machine aside, it turns out the one of the women from whom I asked for help, one of the first-timers, seems to have waited until everyone else but me left, as everyone there seems to do.  I do not leave.  I like my stuff, do not have much of it, and would be really messed up if any of my clothes came up missing.  Like the king-sized mattress pad and some huge pillows that disappeared when that other woman did.

What a asswipe.  Seriously.  No one goes to a laundromat, spend an insane amount of money to clean their duds, risk picking up someone else's bad dye batch in one of the machines or spend the better part of an afternoon sitting and waiting and watching your duds on the duds rides.  Oh, yeah.  I do all of that.  Still, it really pissed me off that the aforementioned asswipe pulled off her caper right under my nose.  Pissed.  True, I could not see anything from where I was sitting, reading my Pratchett, and the chances are good that she thought she was alone, that I had left just like everyone else usually does (even though I sought help because it was my first time there) and that her assertion that it was also her first time was most likely a lie and my guess is that because I did not notice anything, that this might even be a regular occupation of hers.  It also occurs to me that if everyone was telling the truth, that joint was full of laundromat virgins.  Woo.

This evening was the ordinary life experience of this little city.  Lots of people walking their dogs and their people; no babies seem to come out in the late-late afternoon.  There was an older woman, sort of like me, walking and singing.  Not just softly vocalizing, but singing right out loud, her voice clear and sweet.

This is living in the city.  That other life was mostly spent in the country.  Not the middle of nowhere, but right next to it.  No food deliveries, no special mail service or post office anywhere near.  Neighbors a respectable margin away.  Big lawns and a rough asphalt road.  Frequent water main failures.  Power failures.

Not that none of that happens in this city, but I can walk to a lovely old post office, the library, the pharmacy, therapy.  Not the laundromat, but there is a bus stop on the corner of the block, which will take me to today's laundromat, as well as the market in the next block east of there.

Even better is that this new life is as normal as I am ever going to get, and it most likely would not be possible had I not saved my life last year.