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, December 31, 2014

Louise Smith

Louise was a driver, of the racing kind.  NASCAR, where she was the first or second woman to join that fast and, in my opinion, freaking-crazy bunch of crazy freaks. 

I cannot watch car racing.  Animal racing is heinous and I would avoid that on principle alone, but soft and juicy humans tearing around in circles or straight out are nightmares waiting to happen.  Same thing goes for contact sports or mountain climbing, climbing anything except a two step ladder.  Anything that carries the likelihood of any injuries greater than a skinned knee helps my stomach to clutch around my entire insides, heart, bowel and everything in between; then, my head aches in sympathy.

Oh, and amusement park rides that take you more than a few feet off of the ground and at greater speeds than, oh, like leisurely strolling.

Until I left that other life, I never connected the context of how I was living to be a factor in any of that, much less the reason that speed and even mildly violent stuff bothered me to the point of internal pain and discomfort and unease.  But, even though there are countless people who have decent lives and are still uncomfortable with those activities, that is the core cause for me.  So be it.

So, anyway, it came as a surprise that a quote by a woman who was a race car driver, and later owner of cars driven by other insane people, hit me today in a place in my anatomy that needed to be hit exactly like that, and exactly with that kind of power. 

I was at my soon-to-be former flat yesterday, cleaning and packing stuff, but mostly to throw stuff away.  There is a small agency in town, the old town, that said they would take any clothes or furnishings that I did not want.  There is a woman who works in the law office on the other side of the driveway that has already given a new home to a table that belonged to my grandmother, as well as a huge coffee machine that is really too huge for one person to use.

She knows that anything left on the porch is free to take, and I did leave some things she can use out there yesterday afternoon.  Being there yesterday was so difficult.  I need to just toss out all kinds of stuff and I was struggling whilst deciding what to take and what to leave.  Some things are easy to let go, others, like art supplies, is a bitch.  In the worst meaning of the common use of that word. 

I did my best, and just let the rest sit until next week, hoping that I would find the guts to do what needs to be done. 

Then, before I left, I called the moving guys place, to set up a date to move the last of that stuff.  I stopped at their office on my way out of the city and the estimate nearly knocked me off of my chair.  We negotiated it down, but not all that much because the trip from old place to new place is so long.

When I got home (stopping off at my favorite natural foods market in the city between there and here) I started thinking about why I still need to have all of those things.  They are great and useful things, but I have not touched most of it in the two and a half years since leaving that other life.  Not once have I gone into that craft room to even sort and put the supplies on shelves.  All I ever did was to dig through the boxes and totes to find items I needed to use in the art classes and to make gifts.

And, I began to think about how important it could be if I have not needed in it all that time.

And, I began to wonder if any of it was worth the cost of moving it to here, and later added that if I had not found a use for any of it, what was the point of going through the boxes and totes to decide what to keep hauling around me.  For the rest of my life?  Even if I never move from here?

And, even if there is the potential to use some of it, might it be less expensive to buy new items than haul them up here?

The answer is yes, and not just for the art supplies.  I am not bringing most of the furniture that is still there.  Sleeper sofa, hutch, books, bookcases and art supplies.  L-shaped desk.  Pressure cooker, microwave.  All will be staying there, to be fetched by someone who wants any of it and to be put out for the trash collectors.

I cannot believe that I was able to make that decision.  But, I have.  Man.

I will be moving a small curio cabinet and some of my spiritual stuff, herbs, oils and some books and crystals and stuff.  Two indoor drying racks, and the over-the-door ones.

One box of books.  One box of fabric, and the sewing machine.  Five totes of art supplies, and my french easel.  A few things left in the kitchen, maybe the table and chairs...maybe not, if I can find something really cheap here.

Should not take even an hour to load the truck, and, frankly, if I could move anything more than the couple of boxes I have brought here on my own, I would do that for the rest, but the stairway to this upper flat are old and steep, the risers high and the steps shallow, not even deep enough to fit my foot in shoes.

I was feeling so stressed about all of this that when I stopped at the natural food store, I bought a fresh bottle of Rescue Remedy.  I have yet to take any, but this decision is helping me to feel really great about this.

Louise's words pretty much say it all.

You can't reach for anything new 
if your hands are still full of yesterday's junk.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

second to last day

working at the library. 

It was bittersweet.  So many people stopping me to say goodbye, when I arrived at work, that I was nearly late getting everything ready for the day's clients.  No rush was needed, because the first two clients never showed, nor did they call.  Both of them begged for one last appointment before I was gone.  My hope is that they missed today because they have found jobs or some other wonderful thing occupied them.

Third client arrived on time.  He is a challenging person.  Despite not knowing much about computers and nothing about employment documents, he is certain that he knows exactly what he wants.  His first appointment last month was interesting.  His second, a few weeks ago was, well, it was amusing.  He apologized for becoming angry with me when I tried to answer his questions and unfortunately stuck with a good process instead of agreeing with his notions.

He mentioned all of that this afternoon, and was able to share with him that he is my favorite kind of client, after young people who are applying for their first jobs.

I like having someone come in with ideas that have nothing to do with seeking a job.  Today he told me that one of the reasons he has trouble keeping a job is that he sees "problems" with how things are done, goes off to fix/change them on his own and then gets into trouble with his superiors when he implements his own ideas and processes, which often do not work and always much to the annoyance of his bosses.  I just smiled at him, no need to comment and he went on to assure me that doing all of that is on his list of things to stop doing.  It is impossible to not smile at that, yes?

He and my last client of the day...the fourth was also a no show/no call...shared how upset they are that I am leaving, which is kind of nice, but distressing to think that they share that they are unwilling or uninterested in working with anyone else.  Sort of crash-test-dummy version of the work we have been doing.  My goal (if I actually had goals) is that I help people move on with their lives so that they can do whatever they need to do, using the resources they happen to already have around them.  It is my hope that these two men are simply expressing their fondness for the work we have done and the time we have spent together. 

My experience is that men struggle with gratitude, especially if it is directed to a woman with whom they have only a casual or platonic relationship.

I have had several men thank me, not know where to go with it and then pat me on the head.  My inner puppy appreciates the effort.  It must be something about hair, because there was one man, during the second year of my gig there who asked if he could touch my hair.  I declined, but even in that moment I knew that he was feeling weird about saying thanks.

Women will just throw their arms around me, give a nice hug and share their thanks.  They never ask to touch my hair.  Good girls.  Who's a good girl?  Oh, you.  You're the good girl.  Oh, yes you are...

Some of my friends there asked me if they could throw a little going away party for me and I asked just for cake.  So, there was an amazing marble cake, with insanely good butter cream icing and vanilla ice cream with chocolate and butterscotch toppings. 

I received a beautiful scarf from my closest friends there, the reference librarians, with a matching pen (man, those had to be pricey) and a red tiara, which I promptly fastened to my head and wore all day.  I got looks of bewildered amazement, old babe in a child's, glittery crown, but I had a lot of fun with the couple of little girls I encountered in the lobby on my way back from lunch/cake/ice cream.

Besides, if someone gives you a tiara, it would be inexcusably rude to not wear it.  I am tossing out all kinds of cool and groovy but non-essential stuff, but I will be holding on to that crown forever.  I think I know exactly where I am going to poster-putty it on a wall in my new place.

Friday is my very last day of work there.  I have made certain that whomever follows me in this job can find any client, any information, any forms or tutorials or document formats as easily as I have been able to do.  Sometimes our process of organization works for us, although it can be less than useful or user friendly for someone else,  So, I went through every document, every file and every employment document for 5 3/4 years of clients.  And, they are all cool and groovy and anyone could use that computer to do any of the work I created there.  I also backed-up every bit of everything on a memory drive, will have that copied and give a copy to my boss for safe-keeping. 

I am especially concerned for the client documents, because you just never know when your dog is going to eat your homework, or your hard drive goes south or you can no longer gain access to your e-mail account, wherein a fresh copy of your resume, references and all the rest reside.

The cake was huge and I nearly grabbed a slice to bring home with me and then realized that eating it alone would make me too sad. 

I slept only three hours last night and so I am off to bed so that I will be fresh when I go do battle with the social security people.  If you mistype your password they lock you out and you have to visit your town's local office.  Is town with local redundant?  Probably.  Who cares.

Anyway, I am tired all the time and the least busy list of things to do exhausts me.  I am looking forward to six weeks of no jobs and hoping that it restarts my engines.

Friday, November 28, 2014

gratitude - the next day

Today I am mostly thinking about how grateful I am to not have to leave the house, for anything.  Sure, I could go and pay a bill or shop for fresh food.  Not going to, though; just staying here and packing and tossing and eating from the pantry, and playing mah jong on Facebook.

So, between games I was closing my FB thing and say a quote from one of the spiritual, quasi-spiritual, feel good, empowerment places I like.  Mostly platitudes (which I like very much anyway), but sometimes there is something so powerful and relevant to whatever is going on in my life that it makes me pause.

Truth be told, if you are paying attention to your life, practically anything you come across can fit into the stuff that fills our lives, especially if is something with which we are struggling.

So, anyway, this one struck me in relation to my community meal experience yesterday.

Do not let the behavior of others, destroy your inner peace.
Dalai Lama

I am hoping that is what I rose to then.  Yesterday.  I really tried to put myself into the shoes of those I encountered, especially the woman who spoke rudely to me, maybe only dismissively because she believed me to be a poor person, and whatever she assumed that to mean.  I was at least partially successful because it did not upset me, only sent me along to think about my life and my work.  Then, when I saw it happening to other poor people at our table and around us. 

Really pretty cool, coming across that quote.  I have a friend who has always believed that my life would be much better if I read the Dalai's writings; same thing for Thich Nhat Hanh.  I never got around to any of their books because I was not all that interested.  Truth is that I have come to think that I have been too absorbed in navigating my own life to read much of what other people have written about the higher elements of life. 

Regular self-help books, man, I have read so many of them, constantly searching for something that would help me to have a less stressful and dangerous life.  Perspective makes this so easy to see, although not so clear to make up for all those decades of looking in the wrong places.  Given the breadth of subject matter in those books, I never, not even once, even close came to choosing a book about domestic violence.  Interesting.

But, back to the Dalai Lama.  I know who he is, fairly familiar with the political aspects of his life and work, not so much anything else.  So, it was nice to find this quote today.  It helps me.

Thursday, November 27, 2014


Well, of course, one would be thinking on the theme of gratitude on Thanksgiving Day, even if it is only that you did not have to get together with some of your relatives.  You know the ones.

Our house, pre-leaving that other life, was where everyone gathered for all holidays.  All.

For the past oh-so-many-seasons, my daughter's home has been that gathering place.  I like it for tons of reasons, not least because I can arrive and leave as I wish.  Last year my intention was to volunteer for our city's free Thanksgiving meal.  That fell through when they did not need me and I stayed home and it was wonderful.  No driving.  No guests.  Nothing except staying home and lounging around.  I was especially busy that time last year and it was nice.

This year I decided on the community meal again, but only as an eater.  No volunteering all day.  When I got there I saw for myself that they have more than enough volunteer help.

It was interesting because I am usually on the side of the field of the helpers and to be, for all intents, a recipient was very interesting.  The meal was excellent, much better than most folk had for their own family and friends.

Volunteers at any place can be, perhaps often, the most interesting aspect.  Some are nice, but way too many of them can be at the best, condescending, and at the worst petty and mean.  I have seen this happen many times during the decades I have been volunteering.

I was kind of shocked to have it happen to me as soon as I entered the building.  I watched and saw how the admission lines were set up and how they worked.  I came to the end of one of the two lines and waited.  When I was the second next in line, the woman working at that table, looked up at me.  I smiled at her and she said something rude to me.  I continued to smile and when it was my turn to sign in, I asked her what she had said to me.  She got a little nervous and said that she had not said anything.  As I was writing my name, I replied that I was just checking, because I had heard what she said and apologized for having done something wrong whilst waiting in line.  She was flustered, and maybe thought she was dealing with one of the more crazy and possibly dangerous homeless people.

I am feeling very judgmental about this, and I would very much like to get over myself at this slight.  I am comfortable working with all kinds of people and it would be in my own best interest to pull up my big girl panties and get over myself.  Sigh.

Being treated unkindly is not the end of the world.  For anyone.  And, I am as certain as I am of anything that she came there to do something nice, to do good.  I have not the slightest doubt of that.  The problem is that she also came with ideas, notions and beliefs about the people who would be coming to the meal, and she felt inclined to chide me and keep me in my place.  I could be wrong, but I very well might not be.  I would like to be wrong.  This could be just an aspect of her regular behaviors and talks like that to everyone.

Perhaps she has only that one, single story about the kind of people who might find themselves in need of a meal on a holiday, or any other day where food insecurity might rear its ugly and ferocious head.  You know what a single story or belief is.  Everyone has them, even me.  I used to believe that all people who used, and mostly abused substances, illegal or otherwise, were similar.  As the oldest of eleven siblings, ten of us began with alcohol and marijuana and quickly moved on to other addictions.  And, each of them was stunningly similar in their addictive lives as they could be.  I thought that all people with addictive behaviors were like or close to my siblings, a narrow and not helpful belief.  I am smarter about that now.

Me?  I fall into my sad family in my own way.  My drug of choice is food.  Another story, but it illustrates how easily we find and cling to just the one story.  And, it happens in all kinds of ways.

And, despite knowing that there are always differences between individuals, 
we really do stick with that one story.  
Until we know better.  
Or, maybe not.  
Probably not.

We think we know about the Ebola victims in African countries.  Ebola victims and survivors came to contract that illness in ways unique to each of them, and their life and living conditions and lifestyles are just as unique.  Same thing goes for people and populations that live in countries and situations and circumstances different from our own.  Heck, look at what happened here when infected people landed on our own shores.

Whilst you might believe...or hope...that most people now understand how HIV/Aids transmits and that no one still believes that there is a good/not personally responsible way to get these viruses (i.e. via blood transfusion or by being an innocent crime victim) and a bad/personally responsible way to contract them (i.e. lifestyle), the truth is that many people continue to hold those notions.  Blaming people for their illnesses, just like we do with those who develop cancer. 

We think we know about poor people and how they got that way. Same process. 

Poor choices.
Addictive behaviors.
Bad money management.
Buying expensive things.
Not living within their means.
Too lazy to get a decent job.
Too lazy to get any job.
Entitled; want needs filled without doing their part.

Any of this sound familiar?  Anyone you know?  Anyone you are?  This kind of cultural, ethnic and economic prejudice is safely tucked away in every single one of us.

I know it exists because I have always been able to see it in myself.  I am a good person.  My best guess is that the majority of people who grasp their single story are good people, too.  And, when this stuff rears that energetic head, we need to pay attention and make the changes in the way that we view anyone who is different from ourselves, which, to be honest, is pretty much anyone else.

We cling to those who have similar lives and life practices to ours.  Most people hang with their economic and cultural peers.  We often choose to ignore or distrust people outside our group.  Sometimes we go to the extreme of demonizing them, denying advantages that we take for granted.  Sometimes we persecute them, a thing that has happened concerning the Affordable Care Act.

And, not to leave anyone out of the whole messy process, this not only trickles down to those less advantaged than ourselves, it trickles and steams upwards to those who benefit from more resources than we have.

An equal opportunity prejudice.

When that volunteer dismissed me as a lesser person, a less-deserving person than herself, she shared her one, single story with me.  I recognized it immediately and found a source of kindness and sympathy for her.  Had it been possible for me to have a gentle conversation about this, without embarrassing or shaming her, I might have looked for an opportunity to talk to someone about what happened, without identifying her, which is important because it happened several more times once I was inside and eating.

It happened to me one more time, but I noticed that kind of kindly condescension happening to other people at my table and two tables next to us.  It was clear that the other people I witnessed on being on the receiving end of that kind of exchange were more accustomed to being in that position than I was, am.  Seeing that stoicism took me by surprise. 

What that says about me is that I am more obtuse than I could have believed.  I have the training and certifications to prove that I am a caring, insightful and intuitive and supportive person, somewhat dedicated to be available to other people, and whilst I might have earned access to a few more hard won chapters than I had years ago, it is equally clear that I really do have a couple of those one, single stories.

I need to let them go.  I will never be everything I want to be , nor will I be able to do the deep work that my heart longs to perform, but after this morning, I am closer to learning more than single stories about a great many things.

To think that I had to be on the receiving end of that comment in order to learn all of this is, well, it is a bit shame inducing.  However, I will be using that shame and embarrassment to broaden my view and will improve my ability to see all of the stories.

Good and nice people, excellent intentions and great work, that is what I am taking away from today's meal.

It is important to admit that I have much greater resources than many of the people there today, both guests and volunteers and providers.  So, it slightly comforts me to share that I donated twenty dollars for my meal today. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

my happiest childhood memory

We lived in that little pink house.  Some kind of just starting neighborhood in a rural area.  I think the houses were built one at a time, or three or something, but instead of dividing the pasture with a road or two, all of the houses were built all around the perimeter, which left an enormous empty space in the middle.  And, because it was a pasture, it was not perfectly square or round; kind of like an amoeba shape.  I was much lower in the middle, much lower than any of the surrounding acres and I am guessing that because it flooded all the time, that that is the reason it defaulted to houses.  As more houses were built, regular roads were sketched in for the surrounding area and acres and in those areas there were actual blocks and intersections and like that.

In one area there was an empty space, where no house was built.  Maybe somebody owned it and the house plans just never were finished, or the owner died and the estate was not managed or maybe it was never sold to anyone, still belonging to the farmer who started selling off his land.

That empty space was to the immediate east of the little pink house.  We used to play in its untamed wildness.  It was so wild and natural that you could get lost, or at least become unobserved in that patch of weeds, grasses and wildflowers.

We played there, children's imagination fueled play.  I wonder sometimes what that playing must have been like and how much of an influence the madness in the little pink house had upon what we did out there. 

Did we play about all of the usual things or was our activity about how we would be in a different life, with different parents and with different madness?  Did we pretend that we had traveled miles and years away from there?  Was it ordinary play or a respite?

I have memories of laying deep in the greens and waving grasses, their plump seeds moving above me.  Watch clouds. 

That is my happiest childhood memory.  I am sure there must have been plenty more, but not quite so nice.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

struggling with success

I am surely not alone in being disturbed by effortless success.  I think those of us who strive to be the best are unnerved when things fall into place too easily.  I am pretty sure of that.

So, anyway, in the span of six days I have a firm commitment for a gig with a very nice social service agency in the town of my future home. 

I have a possible volunteer opportunity working with children along the autism spectrum, and their families, although the agency's preference is a six-month employment commitment.  I never take on anything if I do not follow through and commit for at least a year.  I get their policies and process, but I do not think that I want a paid job right away.

Frankly, one of the vet clinics is looking for a part-time kennel staff member.  I would love to get back to working with animals in this way.  Feeding, walking, cleaning and surgery/treatment aftercare.  I miss that kind of hands-on, up to your elbows work. 

I looked at a few apartments and flats today.  I was running late and did the first one on my own, even though my daughter wanted to make a day of it for the two of us.  I called her afterwards and the four of us, me, she and the boys, viewed the other places where I had made appointments.

Oh, god, the first one was an eight-family building, four up, four down.  When we walked in, the smell of tobacco smoke was strong, and only got heartier the longer we were there.  At first we thought that the woman who showed us her apartment, as the sample, smoked and had sprayed some smelly cover up stuff, as we could smell that, too, but I think that the smoke smell was permeating her apartment from the smoking tenants on either side of her.  Maybe from the upstairs apartment, too, but we will never know because I would not get out of there quickly enough. 

You know, people can do whatever they like, smoke, drink, be stupid anyway they want.  But, I am pretty sure that my lungs are still tender from that brief experience.  I swear, it was like being in a restaurant before smoking was banned.  Ick.

The agent tried to make me take an application.  I did not.  I was polite and told her that the place was too far from the town center and she went on and on about how she finds her place convenient to everything, and although she is mostly correct, there is not any way that I could visit the place, much less live there.

The next couple of places were nice, but had deficits that I just do not have to accept anymore.  One was an upper flat, with a porch/balcony thing across the front.  That rental agent went on and on about the dangers of such a porch and told me that it was a jumping porch and was to be used only to escape a fire when it was not possible to flee via the door.  I had never heard of a full-scale porch being called that, just the wee and narrow ledges that you see outside a living room window or something.

So, I Googled it and cannot find anything of the sort.  Because this was a remodeled single family home, there was not room in the kitchen for a sink, so they installed it in a closet adjoining the kitchen area.  That actually was kind of cute, and I guess I could hide undone dishes that way.  Other than that, it was tiny, the two bedrooms were tinier and the agent kind of creeped me out.

The last flat was nearly perfect.  It is in an very old house.  The stairs to the basement are squeezed in a small area that requires you to turn backward and duck your heat to get to the bottom.  It does have an outside door, that kind that slants on the house and I could use that.  The basement is also small and the storage area is already full of the lower flat's people's stuff, but each unit has its own washer and dryer.  Nice, and especially nice in the winter to not have to drag everything to the laundromat.

The kitchen was huge, the bathroom was crammed under the eaves and kind of adorable.  There is a pretty small living room, but it has two decent sized bedrooms and a third room, only slightly smaller, that the agent called a den.

The kitchen has a full-sized refrigerator.  Nice, much nicer than the toy fridge here.  It has a gas stove and a new range hood.  New sinks, double and stainless steel.  Most of the cabinets are original to the house, with a nice attempt to match the newer cabinets to them.  There are nice windows, all brand-new, the energy efficient argon ones.

The only drawbacks are that each tenant pays all of the utilities, including water and sewer and garbage pick-up, in addition to the gas and electric.  But, the rent is a bit lower than I am paying here, and since I am so frugal that it should not be a problem.

I like it.  It is close to family and between the downtown and grocery/pharmacy/other stuff areas.  The landlord lives next door.  I am thinking that I will call him on Monday to let him know that I would like the flat.

So, two gigs and a nice choice of places to live, in just a week, less than a full week.  It is making me nervous.  It is like if all of this is so easy that there must be something I am missing or doing wrong, or maybe the Universe is just standing back, waiting to kick my ass.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

what a difference a couple of weeks makes

I drove north to see my daughter (who was too ill to have any fun, so I left her in peace) and to take that visit to the social service agency I like so much.

We met for an hour.  The director gave me a tour and introduced me to a lot of people for whom I will have absolutely no memory of their names.  I will be starting there whenever I move.  My plan is to have my deepest connection with their food program and whatever else is attached to that.  It will give me the time I need to find my fit and get to know how much I can be helpful, without being a pest.

As time goes on, I will be doing the same work I have now here in this town.  There exists the possibility that a grant proposal in progress will be used to start employment services up there.  That means a desk in a corner somewhere, a cheap computer, printer and paper.  If that grant needs to be used for something else, they do have Wi-Fi, will need to scrounge up a printer and supplies somewhere, but I will need to provide my own laptop. Not a huge deal, just one more expense of moving.

When I was there, I drove around, looking for for-rent signs.  I found a senior community that is above my budget limits, by two hundred bucks, but it includes heat, which costs me in excess of two hundred dollars during the worst of the winter months.  It is not an equal trade-off, but they have really decent laundry facilities on each floor, heated parking and I can have a cat again, for an extra cost, of course. 

I found an upper flat in a small house on the river and will take a look at that on Saturday.  I invited my daughter along, if she is feeling up to leaving the house.

An interesting aspect of leaving this place is how the process is changing my tolerances for some of the stuff at one of my jobs.  I doubt that I would have left this job on my own, but now it will be easy to leave the lack of structure and administrative support, things that I have been feeling will adversely affect the safety that we all expect and need there.  I am not the only person who worries about this, but I am the only one who is willing to address it.  The others feel the same concerns, and are more than happy and willing to let me be the team member who is working to fix it.

There was a small change a month or so ago, a document that all of the women need to sign if they wish to stay at our shelter, concerning personal responsibility.  Unfortunately, it is merely a slip of paper without any safety value. 

I keep providing art and learning activities for our children and find that their mothers are even more interested in what I plan.  One of them told me on Sunday that what we were doing was the most relaxing and comforting thing she has done in years.  I just love that.

In the couple of months left here, I will make available weekly empowerment stuff and the space and place for them to vent and sort out what they think they want and/or need. 

Then, I will be gone off to find a new place of my own in the world I am crafting in this now-new life.  This time around, two and a half years away from that other life, there is not fear and terror and hiding, only excitement for myself and my daughter and all of her great guys.  It is a lovely and most appreciated blessing to be loved as much as we all love each other.

I will miss my friends, the people that I have in my life now.  I will leave here knowing that I actually am capable of making friends. And, creating my own work.  Doing what I love, all the things that bring pleasure and meaning and fun, fun and more fun. 

I have stepped into my future this week, and it is only Tuesday.  It is a nice place.

Sunday, October 12, 2014


That is how I am feeling lately.  Stepping back here feels risky, and not in the sense of that old life danger, it is more about needing to make choices that are more than risk related, they are perilous.

I have been ill for a long time.  I recover a bit, and crash in slow motion.  Repeat.  And, again.  There is the possibility that it is connected to stalling and avoiding decisions, at least I hope so.  Deteriorating health at my age is often a continuous process.  I want to be healthy.  I want to be alive and feel well enough to enjoy it.    

So, anyway, I have been thinking about where I want to be, both in the whole personal, internal-process way, as well as geographically.  After several months of being open to where to my life is supposed to be going, two Tuesdays ago I made the decision to move north to be closer to my daughter and her guys.  Three Saturdays ago I was there, just for the day and was sharing some of the funnier and more tender experiences from my work and she said, as she has many times, that I can do my work anywhere, which is true.

The following two weeks were an opportunity to just settle back and see what was happening in my life, day to day stuff.  After a shelter weekend with a couple of particularly challenging residents, and a long conversation with another advocate and one of the program administrators about what they had been experiencing that same weekend, it was interesting to learn that I was not the only person who was struggling with those residents.  The place is so busy and our population is exceeding capacity, leaving scant time to share like that.  Interesting, and more than a little amazing, to be honest.

The admin woman said something about revisiting those and other issues in six months, that things could be vastly different, with more support from upstairs and I was thinking that we had, with the addition of two other advocates, nearly the same conversation seven months ago.  I said that and shared that I could not imagine that anything would have a chance of changing anytime soon, much less in six months.

So, given all of that, it certainly was not a decider, but it was that one more bit of information that supported what I had been thinking of doing.  I sat down and wrote resignation letters to our director and my direct supervisor.  The next day I gave a verbal resignation notice at the other job, and took care of that the following Monday at the third.

I was so sure that I would be broken-hearted and weepy in the following days as I continued to share the information with my clients, but that did not happen.

You know, that feeling you get of settlement, foundation and rightness that you have when you have made the right decision at the right time and for the right reasons?  That is what it has been like for the past thirteen days.  When I called my daughter to make arrangements for the weekend, a pajama party with the boys and a couple of days for the two grownups to have time together, I told her that I had another thing to tell her.

She gave me a funny and cautious yessssss? and I told her that I had decided to move.  She asked if I was moving to her town and I could hear my son-in-law whoop hooray.  By the time I arrived four days later, he had driven around town looking for places for me to rent or buy.  He is such an optimist, thinking that I could buy more than a couple of weeks of groceries, but it is the icing on all of this, that they want me there so much.  I am not telling the littles until I find a place to live, or they will talk of little else.

I have four months notice to every gig, mostly because it might take that long for replacements to be found for two of the jobs.  Last evening, when I was taking care of my Wednesday friend, we were at the grocery store and I was hugged from behind by one of my library gig clients.  And, I realized that these months are going to be important to me, more so than my jobs people, because I will need this time to say goodbye to more people than I ever thought possible.

This past two and a half years have been just what they needed to be.  To heal and find my way back, to craft the now new life.  To make friends, something that was nearly impossible in that other life.  To learn and develop skills.  To take and achieve that certification last year.  To do so many things in order to, well, do so many things.

I am strong and confident enough to move forward.  Amazing and more than a little exciting.  There is one catch, one thing that could hold me here, but I am not ready to write about that.

So, I am pretty sure that I will be all over the place during the next few months.  Yep.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Days 26 & 27


Happy Meal - 4 nuggets, 12 fries, horseradish goo, diet white soda
Grandson A ate the apples.  We all played with the wee Barbie doll.

I told the boys my story about breaking into my house; they had to see some of the bruises.  Little boys are more fun than anything, especially when it concerns daring-do.  I got to the point where I had fallen through the window, on my head and had my legs stuck on the sill and B looked at me, pointed to his head and said, "Helmet."  My Buddha Boy is a lad of few words, but all of them hysterical.

A small, frozen pizza, insanely thin crust and not much on top, but it was delicious.  I ate half at the table and the rest over the remainder of the evening.  Total yum.  Totally not anything I should be eating, unless you count the ounce or two of pepperoni and what I think was bits of sausage.  It was so delicious that I almost bought one on my way back into town this afternoon, when I stopped for groceries.

I drove up to my daughter's home in the morning, played with everyone and sent mom and dad off to look at a potential house (turned out to be an over-priced really weirdly constructed house, cottage and a garage so big that it has its own tax bill.  After that interesting visit, they went to dinner and a movie.  They watched Guardians of the Galaxy, I think that is what it is titled.  It made them smile, but they thought it not nearly funny or interesting enough and that it might not be appropriate for some of the little kids in the theater, one of whom is a classmate of my oldest grandson.

By the time they get home from these dates I am ready for bed, but they want to talk, so we do that and I am always so glad that I gave up a bit of sleep; it is nice to have adult...mostly...conversations with them.

Earlier in the day I fetched the request for my participation in that big funding organization's 2014 fund-raising web site project, hoping that it would open a dialogue between the two of us.  I was recruited for this thing because the director of the shelter where I lived when I was homeless, and where I now work, used an essay I wrote to support their most recent grant proposal(s).  I was feeling as though I could do this sort of thing now, even though one of my ex-brothers-in-law works as an administrator in this organization.

Then, I read the thing the director wrote and it is based so loosely on my experience that if she had not given me a copy of the e-mail from the organization I might not have recognized myself.  Well, so much for supporting a conversation between us.  Although, it did help me to understand how traumatized she still is about this whole mess.  I had to assure her that her father did not attack me with a knife, one of the disguising scenarios written by our director.  But, her discomfort supported my belief that it is proper to not share any of this with her, because what her father did to me was much worse than a simple knife attack.  I can hardly believe that I am actually writing and kind of thinking that an attack with a big knife would have been preferable to what really happened.

Life sure is interesting, especially this healing crap.  I always thought, held the hope that if she wanted to ask me about all of those years that I would find a way to answer her without demonizing her father, or even making him look bad.  Yeah, I know how lame that sounds.  But, you know, I thought there would come a time when if she asked, it would be because she was ready to hear the less onerous parts.  I was wrong, perhaps for just now, but I suspect that this could be a forever kind of never-happening conversation.

I wanted to scoop her up and hold her and tell her that everything was fine.  Could not.  She knows enough about her father that she could not effectively discount anything in that narrative for the organization.

I wish that I had never been asked, that I never knew what our director had done with my experience.  I understand her desire to keep us (me and our women) safe, and there must be some benefit to create this kind of amalgam  of the experiences of many women into one story, but it seems disingenuous to me, a level of dishonesty that I find disturbing.

Now, given my ex-BIL's connection, I would not want to use my real story and my real name (not used in the story submitted).  It would have the extreme potential of being shared with others in a way that is not supportive of any of us.  The truth, and I have said this over and over again to those who believe that telling everything would be an essential part of my healing.  However, I will never tell those things to anyone.  Never.  Ever.

The options for this story being used in the funding project are any singular use or combination of the following:
My real name
A current photograph of me
A statement that I would feel comfortable making, to go along with that story.

I am not comfortable doing any of them, much less in combination.

I am trying to think of why my standards for truth are so high now.  In that other life, lies are what allowed me to survive.  Never tell.  Never share.  Support the lies that he told about me.  Never talk or act back, which is a huge lie, an enormous dishonesty in itself.

I am not sure that I can make a comment about where I am now, keeping that pseudonym and my privacy, not being photographed, all that jazz.

And, where do I fit in an organization that uses those methods for promotion or for grant proposals or even that damn art exhibit?  I wanted to help, just not sure how I will manage to do that.  I have to decide by next weekend.  Fuck.

Egg casserole (no carbs)
fruit salad
tiny pieces of each of the strudel and coffee cake that two of my friends made
about, maybe, 4 strips of very crunchy bacon

The breakfast was in my honor, because I am rarely able to meet my friends anymore, due to my weekend job, the one that has an actual paycheck.

I was on time, leaving my daughter's before any of the boys were up, forgetting my fiber crafts bag, for which I had to return after the breakfast thing.  I stayed behind to help put away all of the outdoor furniture; met the new next-door neighbors, dad, oldest daughter (absolutely wonderful) and the dog.  Then M and I sat and talked for an hour, something we rarely have a chance to do. 

She may be my best friend. 

a green bell pepper, munched on the way home from the market

bag of salad with thousand island dressing, because I think I left my vinaigrette at work.
small steak

The meat was on sale and I decided whilst wresting with my self at the meat counter that I would have one of those little steaks every week.  As long as they are on sale.  It was a little tough,which is probably why they held the sale.  I am guessing that they are sort of at the whim of whatever quality meat is available from wherever they source the meat.  So, no problem.  It tasted nice and is all protein, little fat, and a nice treat, one that I intend to have more than a couple of times a year.

I will be making a potato-less version of my favorite potato/kale/hot sausage soup on Monday.  The kale was glorious, also on sale, and I bough two huge bunches.  I will be subbing cauliflower and firm tofu for the potatoes. 

They had lots of stuff on sale and I save a whopping 25% of my total bill on just the sale stuff.  I do not use coupons because none of the foods I buy ever have any.  Between the big pot of soup and the left-over ham, I should be good to go for at least two weeks, including work lunches.

Church tomorrow, followed by work. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Day 25, and big 'ole Hadean epoch

We know what those are.  It is the beginning of (have to look it up) a time in history "...marked by notable events or particular characteristics."  Thank you Google.  That is it.  I just could not put it into my own words.  History is not just the world-thing, we have our own epochs, with significant things that happen to us.  Maybe beginning a family, or moving on our own to a new city or country.  Starting a career or being a grandparent.  Maybe even when someone dies.  Like when we lose something and have to find a way to move on.

My most recent one, epoch-wise, began on that day I left.  Maybe it started before that, I just do not know.  Maybe at the beginning of the hundred days project.  Maybe it was something just before that, something that put me on the path to all of the changes.  You know, that liminal moment when you cross the threshold into whatever is on the other side.  I almost always see them after they happen.  Sometimes it is held in moments, other times I have to look back into my past to search for them.

The only reason I am thinking of this today is that Yahoo! had an article about a visual aid that, I think, Nature published, shows what a revolving earth more than four billion might have looked like.  I know nothing about science or astronomy or physics, but I love them so much.  Even if I never learn anything substantive about any of that, I am informed over and over again.   I really am not articulate enough to express how much science means to me.  I think sometimes that it must be because it is what it is.  It changes when those who do science learn new things, make new discoveries, but in that moment it is truth in a way not nothing else approaches.

So, I saw that image today and it quietly left me breathless, thinking about that distant past and my own and all of our pasts. 

This week and last week I have done things I could never imagined myself capable.  I feel confident in, well, it is kind of weird.  I do not feel powerful or that I am inspiring myself to do more adventurous things, but whilst I am not capable of doing anything, I do have the ability to do more than I thought I could.  I was full of adrenaline when the breaking-in happened, and I held on to that feeling for a couple of days, but now, I have that same quiet and breathless feeling that I got when seeing that gif this afternoon. 

It is nice and I would like to be supportive of those feelings in what I choose or decline to do.  You know, that is the particular path I feel that I am on now.  I feel persuaded to consciousness about whatever I am doing, even the time I will be spending with my friend that I help.  And, there is this kind of responsibility to no only pay attention, but to avoid missing whatever might be important in even the little things we will do together today. 

nuts - these are so filling and taste good, and as long as i do not eat too many, healthy

pineapple slices and the juice

is yet to come, but I am planning on a nice piece of fish, roasted vegetables and salad, as well as planning to eat all of it.  I will not be bringing leftovers home.  I might even have a wee glass of wine. 

Edited to add:
3 bowls of soup
2 plates of salad
3 bread sticks
2 diet colas
Olive Garden

I rarely get to choose where my friend and I will go for a meal.  Truth is that I rarely choose anything we do.  She tries to bribe me, keep me beholden to her, by buying my meal.  However, I pay my way.  So, there.

If she had other resources, I would abandon her to them in a heartbeat.  I like her very much, but she does not treat people nicely.  The people I mean are wait staff, clerks, sales people, cashiers.  When that happens, as it did twice today, I say something.

If you choose to let your entree go cold because you want to fill up on soup and salad and breadsticks so that you are, in effect, getting two meals for the price of one, and you are rude to the waitress because you complain about the pasta being hard, it is because you let it set there and I will, when you look at me to solicit me to agree with you, what you will hear is that your food probably would be more pliable if it were still warm.  I do it with a smile, you know, just trying to be helpful and all that, but satire aside, I do it in support of the poor working girl you are bullying.

And, yet, she still had the nerve to ask for the meal to be packed up, extra sauce added and for a box of bread sticks to be added.  It does not help anything that she under tips.   I just settle there and make sure that I pay for my own meal and tip at least 75% of my total bill.  That along with an apology is the least I can do.

I do not even want to write about what she did to the cashier at the grocery store.  Sigh.  I always feel guilty about how relieved I am when she leaves town to visit her children.  My guess is that she behaves the same way when she is with them. 

I used to just leave a big tip and let it go at that, but I seem unable to stop myself from trying to make amends to the people she treats rudely. 

And, yet, my own behavior is just as lacking.  I was reminded of a responsibility that I have neglected for many weeks.  Truth is that I totally forgot about it, and being out of town, I cannot rectify my crappy behavior until Monday at the earliest. 

It is so much easier to see the flaws in another person than it is to recognize the exact same crap in ourselves.  This is probably where the notion of not throwing the first stone originated. 

I throw stones.  And, I act like I know it all, I act like a pompous know-it-all.  You know, if that sort of thing does not shame me, nothing will.  I do feel ashamed.  I do know that I need to keep my mouth out of her business, hell, anyone's business. 

There is this kind of belief that I am holding that because I did not have a voice for most of my life, that I have some responsibility to use it now.  I can do that, but not at the expense of another person, not at the cost of shaming them.  Good manners is the practice of not doing anything or saying anything about the poor manners of someone else.  Good manners is keeping your mouth shut.  Good manners is not correcting anyone else.

This afternoon and early evening I did not have good manners.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Day 24

I wonder if I will stick with this as long as the 100 day project from two years ago.  That was part of the preparation for leaving that other life, although I had no idea that it was back then.  At the time it was a way to concentrate on something for a hundred days.  Whatever this is, I hope that there is something great at the end and that it does not take an additional year to show up.

I awoke hungry, until I was up and about.  Then, my appetite went somewhere without me, so I had a cup or so of my nut mix.

1/4 pound of baked ham, fat removed

After I ate the nuts, I went to the refrigerator and the only things in there were/are a bunch of condiments, most of a carton of eggs, 3 apples and a ham.  So, I baked the ham and had a few more nuts along with a square of chocolate.

The ham was pre-cooked, but I remember from ages ago, when I last bought a ham, that they taste better when they are baked.  So, that is what I did, and it was ready by lunchtime.

a bunch of small ham slices, heated in a frying pan with a can of sauerkraut on top

That was good, except for the part about forgetting that there was still half of it in the pan.

I will grocery shop when I take my friend out to do something with her accountant, have an early dinner and take her shopping.

I did not waste any meat this week, but a few vegetables went into the trash in the past few days.  I am doing a respectable job of using the food I buy, and hope to keep getting better at that.  It was easier when I was buying mostly fruit, during my fruit binge buying, as that never went to waste, but you cannot eat just fruit and salad, as I found out.

I have no idea what to buy and will wait to see what is on sale.  The market she likes is too expensive for me, but I always buy stuff there because I am already there.  The meat is very good.  Very unlike the discount market meat and these recent trips to her favorite market have been a strain on my budget, with those higher prices, but the meat purchases have made it difficult to go back to the quality of meat I was buying.  I feel guilty buying the better meat.  I just do.

I meet with my spiritual adviser in the morning.  It continues to amaze me that I have a spiritual adviser and that I am going to church once in a while, although the church part is not all that connected to the tender explorations I have with Sister.

I never know what we will talk about, not even when I meet her.  It all just happens, mostly interesting and forward moving stuff, but there will come a time when I and the process will become redundant.  I know that.  My hope is that I actually have a spiritual practice that means something to me before that happens.

I am hoping to finish Sue Monk Kidd's, The Invention of Wings tonight before I fall asleep.  At midnight, just a half-hour from now, it will be overdue at the library.  I need to finish it for the next person waiting in the queue to read it and I need to find a used copy for myself, because I need to read it again, as soon as possible.

I have this fistful of books that I re-read nearly every year, and this book of Sue's has become one of them.  I liked The Secret Life of Bees, very much, but this book, it is speaking to some vital part of me, not so much my heart, but some little place inside that does not have a name.  I know it is there, that part.  I can feel it respond when I am reading.  That part inside me takes in the words as I read, fetching them from my eyes and brain and folding all of it into something that makes the kind of sense I need right now, sense for which I am in such need.

It supports my work and it just might be the next step in whatever I am supposed to do.  I knew that I liked it from the beginning and I thought that I should read her other two books.  Now they have to wait until I re-read this one. 

This same thing happened to me when I first fell upon Alice Walker.  And, Margaret Atwood.  Harper Lee, George Orwell, Poe, Kurt Vonnegut.  Those and the others who live on the shelf at the head of my bed, their dusty covers shedding the stuff that kept me alive in that other life and which feeds me now.  I wish it would also help me be a better housekeeper, but I guess you cannot have everything. 

now my ethics are p......

Just received a reply.  Apparently I was not the teeniest bit successful is sharing how important it is for me to support our women.  Although it could have been much worse.  Her reply to me was:

I certainly do not want you to go against your beliefs.

I will consider you removed from this project.
Could be worse.  Really.  This should be breaking my heart a wee bit; instead I am not exactly giggling, but I am smiling.  I believe that I might very well have written the same thing as she has.

ethics are a pain in my personal southern hemisphere

My southern hemisphere has been giving me pause for months now, of the lower-intestinal distress nature.  But, that is another, even more disgusting story than I usually share.

So.  I asked for clarification about the art project proposed for women who have experienced domestic abuse.  This is only my opinion, but were I asked to participate under the process that has been set up, I would feel potentially exploited, absolutely traumatized and re-traumatized and I would probably say something along the thoughts of that I would think about it.  Then, I would procrastinate, be passively non-committal and not do it.  And, all during the process, and afterwards, I would feel badly about myself.  For feeling icky about being part of it, for not being able to pull my big girl panties and just do it, and for feeling as though I was not the only person I let down by not doing it.

I received the answers I needed and replied with my withdrawal from the project.  It will be awkward seeing that person at work.  I can live with that.  I did my best to be supportive of the desires to provided this. 

Given what I knew last week, I had made this decision then, just wanting to wait and see what the registration materials were going to be like.  Even though the person who designed the project has many good ideas, she had shared enough of it to help me understand that I could not be part of it.  I felt that I owed both of us to have all of the facts in print before quitting.  I was simply waiting for that confirmation before sending the quitting e-mail to her.  I understand that everyone is very busy and that e-mailing is the default communication.  I wish that I could have had this last conversation about the project in person.  Just saying.

So, I was ready with my reply.  There was one shock when I read her reply to my questions.  It seems that the women who participate, nearly all of whom have no art or crafting experience, and for whom this is a new and interesting process, have two choices in participating.

The first is that if their art sells they can give the sale price to the shelter as a donation.

Their second choice is to not offer the art for sale. 


There is no option for selling their work and keeping the money for themselves.  These are women who have practically nothing, and they are asked to put themselves and their experiences out to be seen and judged by strangers without any benefit to themselves.

Disgusting.  Foul.  Despicable.  Horrible. 


I am just guessing, but the original plan had the exhibit held in a bar/restaurant, with at least 70% of the space devoted to the bar.  At night.

Many of our women are still cautious and afraid of being out after dark, even when escorted by someone they trust, and there was not any accommodation being offered for the artists to have safe transportation.  Not to mention the alcohol.  Most of our women are either in recovery, struggling to stay in recovery or longing for recovery from their substance issues.

It was only after a fairly emotional conversation (mostly on my part) that the venue was changed to a regular art gallery.  But, it is still at night and those who attend to view the art are allowed to bring their own wine and beer.  But, it was the best compromise I could negotiate.

But, even though my decision had already been made, the fact that this was clearly designed to be a fund raiser for the shelter defies everything that I think our shelter holds sacred. 

If my withdrawal...allrighty, let us call it what it is...quitting the project causes problems for me, even it if makes things awkward, I might have to invite myself to quit working there.  I do not want to do that.  I have invested everything I have into that work, that job.  I would be a little bit broken if I find that I must leave.  I have already shared all of this with my immediate supervisor and she assures me that all I have to do is the right thing.  So, I am.  Or, I had already done that, but it was nice to hear here say that.

This stuff is hard.  Back in that other life all of my decisions were trying to do the right things for the right reasons whilst trying to stay unhurt.  That danger is gone and I am left to be a big girl in all of this, and having to be able to present myself.  Understanding how I feel is one thing, defending it is something entirely different.

I hope I was able to do that today.    

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

23rd day of striving towards health

If you sleep until 11:30 a.m., there is no such meal.

I was not hungry, so between noon-ish and 4:00 p.m. I had:
bowl of chili
pickled vegetables
4 ounces of left-over steak

bowl of chili

The meat was difficult to eat.  I wanted to stop after the first two bites, but I did manage to eat the whole piece.  I really did take me those nearly four hours to eat that stuff.

This lack of hunger bothers me so, in between bits of eating, I researched lack of appetite in regards to dieting.  The most frequent thing I found was that eating too few calories shoves you into that controversial starvation mode.  It makes sense, but it has the ring of too easy of an excuse for a lot of things about cutting back on what we eat.  I am not a scientist, just a science nerd, so what the heck do I know.

The web site that made the most sense to me was one with which I registered.  Based on my weight and how responsibly, gradually and permanent I want my weight loss to be, I am supposed to be eating 2300 calories each day.

Hell, I did not eat that much when I was eating anything that did not move.  My current weight certainly has a close relationship with savory things and anything that you can dip into it.  Salty and crunchy are my all-time favorite things to eat, especially if you can put sour cream on them. 

The bulk of my former diet was beans, legumes, seeds, grains and dark vegetables.  Cutting out the carbohydrates left me hungry and frantic for food at times.  I resisted and then almost immediately had trouble rousing my appetite. 

I figured...still do, although today's reading has informed me otherwise...that if I am not hungry, then my body does not need food, which almost instantly brought back some memories.

Aside from over eating, I would not say, or believe, that I have any other eating disorder.  Except that I now remember a year or more when I was intentionally not eating enough. I would pick at food, break it up, move it around the plate and clear my plate into the garbage as soon as I could.

I cannot believe that I had forgotten this stuff.  It was about 26 years ago and was a time when I knew that I could not escape my marriage and all that meant and whilst I convinced myself that I was going to be more fit, slimmer and hopefully more attractive to my ex, and hopefully less hated as well, near the end I came to understand that I was trying to starve myself so that I could escape one way or the other.  I only stopped because it meant that I would be leaving our child unprotected.  The truth is that if I stayed there, he would concentrate on me and not her.  The few times I went out for a lunch or an activity with friends, I would come home to hearing that if I had stayed home he would not be bothered by having to watch our daughter.  He also told me that if I wanted to do anything outside the house that I had to beg him to do so.  I thought he was joking (yes, that is how stupid I was) and he told me that every man wants that. 

Oh, I can remember exactly how he said it and how he shifted his weight in his chair, the same thing he did later just before something bad happened.  Is that when that physical shift started or just that I am remember it now.  It was that movement that propelled me backwards out of the house that last day.

At that time of starving, it was as though I felt that eating was the only control I had in my life.  As long as I cooked what he wanted, I could eat too.  What a fucking mess.  How did I survive all of that.  What unobserved damage have I done to our daughter, my daughter.  It is no wonder, no great stretch to imagine how greatly we have been damaged. 

Well, here we are.  I think that one of the best parts of having this now-new life is that I get to make amends with her.  I get the chance to make everything that happens from now on be different and supportive and whilst there was so much love back then, love can shower over both of us.  Heal us as much as that is possible. 

Man, all I an trying to do is become more fit, more healthy and all this stuff is unearthed.  I wonder how much more there is to be remembered.  All I have to say is that it would be nice if the memories came rushing back on days when I am doing well.


Where was I?  Oh, yes, 2300 calories a day.  I understand the reason for not cutting calories so drastically and I will try to eat more, even though I do not have an appetite. 

I am finished with all of that wonderful, seasonal and cheap fruit, but the apple I ate for dinner was nice and crunchy and I felt absolutely no need to put sour cream on it. :)

I am going to keep snack-sized zipper bags of my nut mix around and will eat those, raw vegetables and apples during the day.  All three of those can go with me wherever I wander, so I have no excuse for finding myself with only drive-through choices.  Insanely, the drive-through item I want, crave, the most is those blended coffee drinks, all icy and sweet and delicious.

I will be walking to the shelter tomorrow to deliver research I did for one of the other advocates.  I could drive, but I want to see if I can walk that bit-over-a-mile.  I will be taking lots of meds beforehand, and taking lots of water with me.  After last week's successes, I will be trying to convince myself to take on new challenges.  Crapynappy, I cannot walk there.  I have two other errands to take care of in the morning.  No matter, there will be new opportunities.

I do not remember what I needed to write about today.  Something.  Maybe it was a though of something that brought me to the other stuff. 

I do want to eat more food.  It is healthier and it will help me lose weight more quickly and efficiently, although all of this is really not about the weight.  Not so much.  I want to get back the good health that I have enjoyed until recently, although it is clear that I have not appreciated and supported it the way I should have been doing.  Interesting that I could get to this age with so little health and body stuff to worry me.

I am glad that I am taking these monthly weeks off from my library jobs.  I need to have four days in a row to nap and do other things, as soon as I think of some things to do.  I am planning to walk downtown on Wednesday.  Return my library materials, sit in the square, get coffee from the sandwich place.  Watch people, read, walk home.  Spend more time on the porch.  Just be outside these walls.

Monday, July 28, 2014

day 22 - captain's log

nothing, having chosen sleep over nourishment.

no time between therapy and group.

Mid-afternoon stop at the Chinese place. All healthy and just enough.   If I could afford it, eating there would ensure enough calories a couple of times each week, making up for the days when I forget to eat. Or,I could just be more responsible.

Anyway, I am out on the porch, eating the bag of nut mixture I carry around now, finishing Mr. Mercedes (hoping this book will make it to the end without any of my favorite characters getting killed, feet up and enjoying this most wonderful day.

The air is light and slightly breezy and the temperature here in the shade is nearly perfect. I am not sore or feeling stiff and creaky, and it is only today that I realize how badly Friday might have gone, especially had I become stuck or been knocked senseless after diving through the window.

Well, you know what they say about fools...yeah, that pretty much sums me up.

And, poking away at this teeny keyboard is to much for even a daredevil. Cat burgled , turned secret agent like myself. It will be interesting to read this later and see any autofill I missed.

Oh, I almost adopted three kittens this afternoon.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Day 21 - trying to eat more food

steak, quick and more like brunch-time, although my first meal of the day
3 ladles of chili
I wanted to eat salad, but I was full, and I am trying to respect what hunger really is, instead of just stuffing stuff down my throat because it tastes good. 
I also cooked a second, larger steak and cut it in half for two more meals or snacks.

I no longer want that mindless and careless eating.

a bowl of chili, kind of medium sized

I have not made chili for a long time because I have been avoiding beans.  I just had to have some today, and making some means that I did not have any chance to not get around to cooking the ground beef and end up wasting it.

I brought cherries and my nut mix to work, but never got to eat any of it.  I did, however, get to lick the little lid of the frosting candy I bought for the kids from the Hispanic market.  Good thing it had eighteen little packets, as all the women wanted candy, too.  It was very sweet, pun totally intended, because they were just darling.

10 or so ounces of pickled vegetables and a diet ginger ale.

When I finally got home a few minutes ago, I was sort of hungry, but nothing looked appetizing except for frozen Brussels sprouts, but it is too late to start cooking anything.

So, I am off to bed.

Oh, and that nice scrape on my side goes down to my leg, something I did not notice yesterday or Friday.  I have lots of bruises on my arms, but many fewer than I expected.  They are all on the really small size, and I have no idea what I could have landed on to have that happen.  Even my knees feel less tender and I have not had all that much trouble walking up and down stairs, which I have to do whilst working in a three-story old building.

The bruise I expected to have on my upper chest, based on how much it hurt yesterday morning, did not manifest at all.

I have to say that I am feeling good.  I feel strong and capable and can hardly wait to share the story in therapy tomorrow morning.

I called my daughter on Saturday, late afternoon, and told her about all of my adventures last week.  The art show project, being asked to be in that brochure, fixing the broken brake light (without any help or a manual or anything) and then breaking into my house.

We chatted for a while and I then said that I had called for another reason, and she shrieked, oh god, what else did you do?  But all I wanted was to drive up next Friday and offer to send them off for the night.  We are going to do that, but before we signed off, she berated me for allowing the boys to watch a particular program.  I said fine, but she would not let it go.

In the past, even the recent past, I would have left it at my apology, but not this time.  She was snarky and about something that she and my son-in-law allow them to watch.  I did not belabor the point, but at least I made it.  If I do not begin to stand up to the stuff she says, I will lose my connection to keeping our relationship healthy, and just go off to lick my wounds because I am uncomfortable saying anything.

The truth is that any kind of similar conversation is beyond my comfort areas.  I never talk back or argue, I never confront anyone much less offer a challenge.  I despise drama, it frightens me.  I will swallow any rude treatment, whilst backing up, both physically and metaphorically. 

It is the pattern of my life, that other life, and habits are difficult to change.  I would like to be more assertive, more self supporting.  I would love that.  I hope that I am making progress in that direction, it is just so slow going. 

This is interesting, because I had no intention of writing about my daughter and the program issue.  At work tonight, shortly before my shift ended, I had a conversation with one of our women about not allowing other women to speak rudely to her, to not allow them to tell her what to do, especially as concerns her children, who are very nice boys.

And, here I am, struggling with the exact same issues, nearly at the same level of dysfunction.  No one is perfect.  If they were, they would drive us crazy-ier.  No one knows everything.  We are all doing the best we can. 

I saw a quote a few days ago.  Stop doing what doesn't work.  Why is that so hard.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Day 19 - Healthier? Not so much, but I am still here


4 Hebrew National hot dogs.  These are so good.  No horrible ingredients and they taste very nice.

That is it.  No lunch.  No dinner.  I forgot to take something to work, which is not a meal, just easy to eat snacks.  Between clients.  There were only three today.  One is a regular, one other is always challenging (but really, really nice and I like him a lot), and a new person who came in with an insanely difficult problem concerning SSI documentation.  We all rocked there today.

The day began with me locking my keys in the house.  I knew the instant I heard the latch click.

I always keep a spare key in my bag.  Always.  Except for today.  I looked.  So, I started to walk to work and remembered that I do carry  an extra car key, so I drove and was not late.  Yay.

I called my landlord when that happened, but I could tell by his voice that he was super busy and told him that I would get a locksmith.  I called two whilst waiting for clients.  I could not understand anything the first one said, as their phone connection was horrible.  The second one told me to call back when I was near the end of the day and a technician would set up a time for him to come.  I did that.  He said that he was in the neighborhood and asked if he could come right over.  I skipped a task I needed to do today and raced home.  In the car, but I did the speed limit.  It seemed like racing because I was not walking.

I waited more than an hour.  I must live in a really huge neighborhood.  He came, introduced himself, worked on the lock for ten minutes and told me that he could not get it to open.  Then, he took my last $75.00 and told me to have a nice day.

It grieved me to call my landlord again, but I did.  I left a message.  Then, I thought, hell, I did not do a perfect job of installing the little air conditioner in my bedroom.  Yeah.  I can go over there, pull it out, climb in the window and somebody's your uncle.

I forgot that this is house is not level with the ground, and whilst the windows look to be just fine inside, on the outside, the lower edge is higher than I am tall.

And, I thought, heck, I can do this.  It would have been nice had I thought to break into my flat before I did commerce with the un-locksmith guy.  However, it is still light and where there is a will there is a way.  I could have gone all soft and just stayed overnight someplace until my landlord was available.  Oh, unless the rush in his voice earlier meant that they were going away for the weekend.


So, I went to the side of the house and tried to remove the air conditioner.  Not only is a little air conditioner much heavier when it is stuck in a window over your head, than it is when you are inside your bedroom, but it leaks water on you, small gushes, but still.  Worse was that I had fastened it more securely than I thought.  Nice and all that if someone wants to break in, but since I was the person breaking up, the fact that I could even move it around a little was nice for me (the locked-out) it kind of freaked me out that I could move it at all.

I went to the lawyer office next door to ask if I could park my car in their driveway so that I could climb on my car to break into my flat.  They were very nice and said that I could if I could do it quickly or wait until they closed the office at five.

Whilst I was waiting for them to go home, I returned to wrestle with the wee air conditioner, managed to get wet again, lose my grip and have it drop on my head and then finally heaved it up and into the room.  Then, I went to wait until the lawyers left.

Car back into the driveway and perfectly positioned and I discovered that the old arthritis would not allow me to lift my leg high enough to climb up on the rear bumper.  I used my porch chair and managed to step up and crawl onto the trunk.  I braced myself against the house and stood up.

The gap between the trunk and the window was too great, so I eased myself up along the rear window frame, hoping that I did not pop the back windshield out.  I got one knee on the window sill.  I could not get my right knee up there because my bone-on-bone knee joints were not cooperating. 

There I was, left knee on the sill, sort of balanced between the car and the house, still with a song in my heart and finally realized that the only way this was going to work was to abandon any notions I had about boosting my bulk onto the sill and swiveling myself into the room.

So, I did the only thing a responsible person, especially one facing the prospect of sleeping in the car, would do.  I threw my upper body over the sill and into the bedroom.

I balanced there for a while, if you could call that balancing and then pushed myself forward, missing the wounded air conditioner and the red crate of art supplies I have been storing here. 

Wedged between the conditioner and the crate, I tried to roll onto my side, hoping for a better fit and, well, I gave up and kept pulling myself into the room.  My legs dangled for way too many minutes, but I made it.  I dragged myself (knees not working) to my bed and pulled myself upright.

Now, the one question I have is, how serious is it that I smashed a bunch of those thin metal baffle strips when I crashed onto the conditioner?  I hope not too badly.

And, I stood up, went to the door, opened it and retrieved my key ring from the shelf where it had been forgotten, locked and unlocked the door to make sure that the un-locksmith had not messed that up with his hammer.  Yes, he used a hammer-like tool.

What with the changing of the car lights yesterday and breaking and entering my own flat, I am feeling preh T gud.

I received a call from the shelter where I lived two years ago and where I now work.  One of the largest foundations in the country provides one of our biggest grants.  Last year, I think, the director asked me to write my story as part of the grant application process.  This year they want to use me in their new brochure(s).  I am thinking about it.

Thinking will have to wait because I am eating delivery Chinese food (thank the goddess for credit cards) and waiting for Shark Tank to begin.  Tomorrow morning I will be meeting my friends for coffee and next week when I have all those days off, I will be visiting a dinosaur museum and walking downtown to just sit, have a coffee and watch people.

I have the best life.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


Leftover steak

bag salad
hot dogs  - It was National Hot Dog Day, and the ones I ate were meat and seasonings without any preservatives or stuff like that.

bag-o-shaved-deli-corned beef

I had this bag of corned beef because I was going to mix it with sauerkraut, heat it up and douse with bottled thousand island dressing.

Unfortunately, I do not have a can opener.  Ooopsie.  So, I ate just the meat.

sweet potato, microwaved, butter, pepper and some salt on the last bits because they did not have any butter or pepper taste.

4 pieces of fish sushi
some baked chicken, meat only
green beans
a handful of cubed potatoes and a whole glob of wasabi - very yummy
soft drink

Yes, I had to eat out and went to my favorite Asian buffet.  I showed great restraint and did not fill up on their amazing hot and sour soup, that is thick and chock full of seaweed, mushroom stems and bits of tofu.  Instead I ate healthy choices, aside from giving into temptation for the potatoes, sushi and green beans.  I ate very little, at least for me, and left barely satisfied, which satisfied my desire to eat well and minimized the fact that I chose that place to eat instead of going to a grocery store and buying a salad.

drive-through burger and fries

In my defense, today was stressful (including a thoroughly distressing visit to my cell phone provider) I was stopped by a police officer and given a warning about replacing the driver's side brake light bulb, stopping at the auto place, buying a pack of replacement bulbs, tearing the trunk apart to get to the place where you can replace the bulbs, and discovering that you cannot do that from inside the car.

This is the car I was forced to take got in the divorce, that miserable piece of metal parts that has cost me a small fortune to fix all the stuff that my ex knew needed fixing and then charged me back an insane amount of compensation.  I am dumb, but at that time I was incapable of standing up for myself and just let him and his family fuck the beans out of me during that entire time and on through the final decree. 

The car does not have a manual and I had to figure out how to remove the entire assembly, with only a little pliers.  And, I did it.  It took me a half hour, but I figured it out, removed the whole light section, replaced the bulb and got it all back together.  The best part is that it worked!  Too cool.

So, hot and tired and relieved that I was able to figure that out, I drove through a fast food place and ate on the way home.  I am sad to report that it tasted more wonderful than I could have ever imagined, and that has nothing to do with not having to cook it myself.  I ate only part of the bun bottom and the fries were cold and did not have any salt on them, but, oh gosh, it was so good. 

Had I not already started feeling a tiny bit uncomfortable about eating out twice today, I swear that I would have driven back and bought more fries.  So good.

The thing that happened at work on Sunday, the one for which I was feeling ashamed, turned out fine.  When I went to our director to share what I had done, instead of cautioning me to avoid doing anything similar in the future, she told me that making up my own rules for that circumstance is exactly what she wants me to do, what she wants all of the advocates to do, but that she does not expect that the other will take the initiative to do anything like what I did.


I work tomorrow and Sunday and then have a whole bunch of days off.  Yay.

Tomorrow is back to eating well.  I plan to buy more corned beef and make that mixy-mess.  On Monday I will be looking at replacing the refrigerator here.  The landlord should be doing this, but is not going to and I am tired of losing food in that crappy freezer.  If I find one I can afford, I will take it with me when I move, if I move.

I am also going to look for a few new pieces of clothing.  I do not have any warm weather clothes, just all the stuff I wear year-round.  I would like some short sleeved tops, although I suspect that I will not be willing to spend the money.  Maybe I will do this.  Maybe not. 

I am hoping to find something social to do next week.  I really would like to have a personal life, you know, doing something more than working.  I am thinking to start small.  Walk downtown and have a cup of coffee or lunch or something.  Maybe I will just sit in the square (yes, how quaint we are here), read and watch people.  Maybe someone I know will wander past.  Maybe I will walk down to the beach and sit on the rocks.  Maybe I will walk down the block and look at the house I would like to buy.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Still Tuesday, but without the S&M

salad with avocado and tomato, vinaigrette
It upset my stomach, but no more than that.  Whew.

small taco salad, iceberg lettuce (my favorite, but not nutritious enough), a couple of black olives, some sour cream, a miniscule amount of taco-seasoned ground beef and lots of hot salsa.
amazing coffee
roll, with cinnamon butter, which tasted like there was some sugar in there, too.

small steak, I accidentally ate a piece of the fat and it was delicious.  Like, really yummy.  I planned to have half of it for lunch tomorrow, but it was so good that I ate the whole thing.

Long day, which included a lunch I did not want to have.  Sometimes it is easier to give in and give up.  My friend simply has to eat whilst we are out.  I understand all that.  I seem to be her single remaining friend in this city, heck, the state.

She told me that her daughter finally shared the reason that she drove her back here two weeks ago.  The family was going camping last weekend and they did not want her alone in the house.  So, the logical thing was to:
- Not tell her why she had to pack and get in the car.
- Bring her back here, where she would be alone in her own house, as she always is.

I am not judging, but that is totally fucked up.

The whole family is coming to the big city south of us for a baseball game.  Her daughter told her that if they have time, they will might stop by for a visit.  Not all that bad, it is just that it seems like a taunt.  Just saying.

Our visit to the aging agency was nice.  One of the women who works there recognized my voice (I do not know exactly how to process that) because I took one of her classes a few years ago and she not only caught my voice in the hallway, but she remembered my name.  She looked familiar because I can remember faces more easily than names. 

The actual meeting was awkward.  I suspect that the man leading it was new, as in brand new.  He was nice, but he spent at least a quarter of the hour explaining every single program and resource they offer or know about.  Every single one.

With the help of the woman part of the team held it all together and we managed to wrestle out the information that will help my friend, especially regarding affordable transportation for those times when she has appointments when I am working.  Plus, we had that lunch beforehand.  Then grocery shopping.  For someone who did not need anything, I came home with a big bag of fruit and meat.

Then, when I went to bring the car around, it would not start again after we loaded all of the stuff in the trunk.  I had to get all of my friend's food back into a cart and fool around until the poor thing would start.  I think between the heat, 90sF, the air conditioning on high and who know what can upset a car, I must have flooded the carburetor.  Or, something.

Then home for my friend and I was so exhausted from the heat that I apologized to the undone laundry, came home and immediately spent the next few minutes in the shower.  Even my brain was hot.  I sweated through all of my clothing, and with laundry not done, I cannot find anything light enough to wear at work tomorrow.  I really do work in this tiny bat cave that does not have any air circulation.  I have a small fan.  Yeah.

So, work tomorrow and Friday.  Then on Sunday and not again until the following Sunday.

I am going to clean and organize my flabby butt off.  I have a grant to write.  I need time to be able to get to the post office when it is open, well, how dumb is it would help anything to go there when it is closed, but you know what I mean.  I have not had even one day in the past three weeks when I was not working or volunteering during all of the post hours.  Man.

I am planning on at least one day helping my friend find and interview at another agency that offers exchanges of services provided by and provided to seniors.  Not what I had planned, but it has to be done and all of this is helping me to not be so afraid for her.  Today she was nearly fifteen minutes late coming out of her house (she does not want me to come to the door for her) and I was going to give it the full fifteen minutes before I went to see if she had fallen and could not get up. 

Bed, book, charge phones, sleep and a nice day at work when I get up.  Nice.  My life is really nice.

S, M and Tuesday

Sunday was a mess. 
leftover steak

1/4 cup of the leftover guacamole

big cup of homemade nut mix

nothing; I was too tired when I got home at 11:30 p.m. and went straight to bed.

nothing; chose sleep instead

grilled American and mozzarella cheese, tomato and bacon, on marbled rye sandwich
small order of sweet potato fries
6 jalapeno poppers; I tore the cream cheese tops off and plucked the pepper halves from the breading, and then ate one of the torn-off cheese and breading pieces, too.

Between therapy and the art class, I returned a phone call from my doctor's office.  It was the results of my tests last week.  The results are not good.  I have to experiment with some stupid statin drug.  I have never, ever, ever had a single blip on my cholesterol levels. My blood glucose results are really bad.  Something else was not great, but I cannot remember what it is.  They think I have celiac disease and I am going to allow that test when I go back in October to test again for how the statin med is working.

Granted, it is barely three weeks since I started eating better, although when thinking about the testing results, nothing I have been doing could have even a potential effect on any of the problem areas.

So, in true J form, I mood altered with lunch.  Frankly, there is only an Eastern European and a sports themed restaurants within walking distance, and the sports place was the easy choice.  I ordered the sandwich and then, with hardly a pause, added the fries and poppers, which I intended to share when I walked back, but my lunch companions did not want any.  Yummy, but bad for me, big-picture wise.

half of a steak

Bummed out from the phone call and stupid lunch, I stopped at the discount market to get vegetables and they had t-bone steak on sale for $4.00 a pound.  I bought two, came home and cooked them.  They are like mush, and do not taste all that great.  They are in the refrigerator and I will probably chop them up and toss in a pan with vegetables, may make a curry.

Looking back, I had barely one meal on Sunday and hardly more on Monday.  

Today I had a salad with tomato and avocado and I feel tummy-troubled, but that might be because I am upset about this whole food mess.  Someone at one of my jobs keeps trying to convince me to get one of the bullet machines and chop stuff into a smoothie.  I would probably use it a couple of times, and unless I gave it away, it would sit around somewhere, just mocking me in its expensive and pompous manner until I gave it away.  Sounds like an exercise in heartbreak and regret to me.

I wanted to laze around today.  Instead I am taking my older friend to lunch and then to a meeting with an aging specialist to plan some being safe classes and find other resources that might allow her to stay in her home.  We will stop for groceries on the way home and then I have to get to the laundromat.  Clean bedding is calling my name.

I just got off the phone with her and we have to do something.  The we is her and me.  I am simply the person who takes her where she wants to go, but this morning's telephone conversation reminded me that I am her only social contact in this city.  All of her friends have moved away or are dead.  The sweet desperation in her voice when trying to keep me on the phone is something that I would like to see turned around.  My preference is that she would have to end her conversations with me because she had other things to do.  I am tired.