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

Thursday, February 27, 2014


The one I turned down.

On Monday, as I wrote earlier, I received a phone message from the director of that Program and shelter.  She said that she hoped I was still considering working there and that you knew I did not want to work full time there, but that she really wanted to get me on board there and would take even a single day each week, if I would agree to that.

I have not been able to talk to her since then, just lots of messages from both of us, and when I finally made contact yesterday with the manager of the advocates and our conversation was all "this is a nice opportunity" from me, and all "it is so great to have you with us" from her.  We left it that I would just stop in this week or next week and talk to the director.

Whilst hanging out, making rubber band bracelets and washing stuff at the laundromat I received four calls from the shelter people.  Four.  By the third one B was telling me what my schedule would be for training and the days I would be working next week.  It appears that someone decided that I was hired and the employment paperwork is ready and waiting for me.

I am sort of glad, sort of rattled and more than a little confused.  However, I begin working there Monday afternoon, along with the other person they hired.  I am wondering if she has had the same experience of being asked to think about working there and finding herself with a schedule.  Kind of funny.  Kind of touching and nice, too, because hesitation about me joining the staff seems to be non-existent.  Next week should be interesting.

So far, at least for March, my schedule is alternate weekends, Saturday 12 hours, and Sunday 8 hours, second shift.  If they keep me at that, it would be perfect because I would still have every other weekend for family stuff and napping.

This is going to be a tiny paycheck, non-profit agency and all that, but it is a paycheck.  And, since it is doing exactly the work I want, trained and yearned to do, the whole thing is perfect.  I am going to pay attention to what happens during the training and make sure that I communicate clearly and without any possibility of misunderstanding or misinterpretation that I really do not want more than a single day each week.  Alternate weekends is the perfect part.  No slippery-slope of increased hours or different days.

Lordy.  I hope this works out well, because I want to work there.

Lots of good things happened this week, all spewing out since my big deal with my spiritual adviser last Thursday. 

I got a lot of things done here at home.  Man, it never gets old saying or writing home.  Yeah.
I seem to have a new, part-time job. 
Work is going well in that I am booked three weeks in advance, but I am still unable to find anyone who will volunteer to help out so that we can add another day of service.
Work is providing me with a parking lot card.  That will save me close to $10.00 as week in parking meter costs.
I was asked to take over a DV support group meeting.
The agency that offered to let me give art and crafting opportunities, checked back with me to make sure that I still wanted to do it.  It may have some budget available, too.
The lump in my face turned out to be a cyst on my parotid/salivary gland, probably from being ill for so long.  Nothing to fret about.  I just have to get healthier and the pain will magically go away.
I managed, after months of not making any progress, to clear up the messy mess my business had become.  All is done, the business is officially closed and I do not owe the state any money.
A medium-sized binder clip is the perfect size to hold a blanket around your shoulders so that you can type and stay warm.

The best part of the week is the time I will be spending with the boys whilst I shoo their parents out to have an overnight celebration of their anniversary.  The boys call it a sleepover, which I guess it is.  We are going to have so much fun.  I will be taking my bracelet loom and we will make all kinds of stuff.  We will have lots of mac & cheese, many cheap hot dogs with squishy white bread buns.  We will cook spaghetti and cut up a bunch of fruit and make pudding.

Tomorrow in drop-in Lab again and it looks to be a pretty full house.  The big surprise will be that all of them have to create a job agent, with at least one on-line job aggregator site.  It is pretty easy and it will greatly enhance their job searching.  I set up ten samples on Wednesday and am thinking that I will created a tutorial after tomorrow and I learn what needs to be in it.

What else.  I guess that it is nice to not have anything about which to complain or moan and groan.  There was a time, last year, when I worried about coming to a point where I had no more problems to complain about.  I shared that and someone called me to task about why I thought that other people never had problems of one kind or another.  I did not defend myself back, but the focus of what I shared back then is that I was moving closer, all the time, to a place in my life where the traumatic crap would not be the determining stresser(s) in my life. 

Life is so good.  I am leaving one of the support groups I attend; I no longer need it, but, like anything, I can go back if I need to do so.  I am coming to the close of my therapy sessions.  My therapist has not said anything, but I know that it is near to time.  Maybe I am wrong and I will need this stuff for longer, but maybe not.  Another thing that I can go back to if needed.

 Nice.  Everything.  Until something horrible happens.

Monday, February 24, 2014


I just listened to a voice mail from the director of the agency that offered me a job a few weeks ago, and which I declined two weeks ago.

I really, really, really wanted to accept that job.  It is the penultimate expression of what I love to do and it makes sense and good use of my training.

I struggled with that decision.  I wanted, still want, to do both of them.  How could I pass up an opportunity to do the work for which I trained?  How could I give up the work I already am doing and love more than I can often express?

I finally chose regret as the determinant. 

Would I regret passing on the offered job?  Would I fret over a salary?  The job was at an agency that helped me when I was homeless, the shelter that kept me safe back a couple of Februaries.  I adore the people there.  There is absolutely no inter-facility problems.  It is the most flawlessly run shelter ever.  No one on staff ever has and problems with any other staff members, and that might not seem like a big thing, but that kind of atmosphere is essential for women and their children who are homeless because of domestic violence.

Would I regret leaving the work I am now doing?  Would I stress further thought...I knew that I would be staying exactly where I am.  Instant decision satisfaction.

I had informed my current director/boss about the offer, but only to find out if there were any changes in the near future that would have any kind of impact on the work I do there.  Once I knew that there would not, the choice was made.  I am staying.

Except for this mornings voice mail.  The director's message was that she would like me to consider taking the job and that she wanted me there at any cost, even if I could give them only a single day each week.

I left a message for her this evening that I am interested in that and that we can get together whenever she likes.  Although, I am not available on the three days I work the rest of this week, I think that I will be one of their employees within a few weeks. 

I am pleased and reassured that doing the right things for the right reasons is serving me well.  I will have to quit being a part of the DV support group there, but that is something I can find a way to manage.

Wow.  Just wow.


I am sitting here, trying to avoid housework by doing work work.  Because I like to avoid housework be being involved in a couple of things at the same time, the television was just turned on and I caught, sort of half-listening, the end of a program.  My attention was caught by Queen Latifa (one of my few celebrity favorites) saying something about a woman who helps people in need to have reliable transportation.

Her goal is to provide cars for working people who are struggling to get to their jobs and take care of themselves and their families.  She is located in Florida and in her first year helped three/3 families have cars, and to-date, her organization had provided 555 vehicles.  Holey-moley!!!  I was, still am, awestruck by the work that she does.  I was feeling so emotional, hearing this woman speak about her work, something that grew from her own previous needs.  I like that because my own current work is based on my experiences of my past experiences.

When Queen Latifa made a comment about how there might be someone in her audience that would be interested in donating a car, a man stood up, keys offered in his raised hand, and said, "I do!"  And, I started to cry and then a woman did the same and then more people stood and made the same declarations and I just completely lost it.  This speaks to me more than I can express. 

Having a car, even a supremely crappy car, can make the difference between finding and keeping a job more than any other factor.  I have lost count of my clients who are limited by transportation difficulties in seeking and keeping employment.  Our city is small and the public transportation system is bus routes that run at limited times in the early morning and late evenings, and on weekends.  Several of my clients have lost jobs because they could not get to work on time because the bus was severely late or out of commission.  I have clients that have been stranded at work due to bus routes that are not able to keep to the schedule because of weather or mechanical reasons.

It is an imperfect system, but it is all that we have.  When I was out on Friday, on my way home from work, I saw a taxi cab behind me.  As far as I knew, we have not had cab service for years and years.  Even so, now that one seems to be back, most people could not afford the fees to use it.  I could not, not even in an emergency, much less on a regular basis.

And, even fully employed (whatever form that takes) people often cannot afford to buy, insure and maintain a car of any kind.  But, the largest expense is finding a decent car and buying it.  A crappy car, the most available kind, will eat up your money like a sister who asked to stay for a week, or so, and is still, six months later, sleeping on the sofa, eating all the food, using utilities to watch non-stop television, messing up your CDs, leaving a stinking mess wherever she wanders and complaining about how you need to get cable so that there is something decent to watch.  That situation was years ago, but it still stings when I think about it.

Car insurance is determined by how good a driver you are, and I understand that not everyone can find the low rates that I have, but even $600 to $700 insurance fees each year are doable if it means that you can keep your freaking job.  Avoid having an crash, and regular maintenance is also something that can be managed.  I struggle with that myself.

But, as much as I worry about being able to keep my car, and even though my work is all volunteer, I know that finding a way to hang on to it means so much.  I can get to work, I can be able to see my daughter and all of the marvelous boys, and even see my friends once in a while, something I hope to do this coming weekend.  Losing the ability to keep the car would be oh-so-sad, but it would not destroy my life the same that it would if I needed it to keep my job and take care of my family.

So, I just cried at the joy and love of that Susan person.  She is the kind of force that insures that our lives and our world make sense.  I admire her so much, and that she walked away from Queen's program with 16 more cars is just so wonderful.  That she was on that program for her good work and that now so many more people know about her work and will help her, tell others about it and they might help and maybe inspire even more people to do the same thing in their communities is just plain wonderful.

She vets the people she helps, and that helps to ensure that her efforts and resources are less likely to be wasted, and the participants need to be referred by agencies, churches and employers.  They are required to do a list of things to actually receive a car.  I think this is important, essential to keep the recipients accountable. 

Her list is nearly perfect in what she requires of the recipients, and is making me think of some things to establish for my own clients.  This is her list:

  • Must sign contract giving their verbal commitment to remain employed/or notification of termination (with reason).
  • Must agree to pay it forward a monthly set amount, based on income and 3 service hours per month
  • Must provide valid Florida driver's license
  • Must provide proof of insurance (if applicable)
  • Agree to provide public testimonial (optional)
  • Must complete exit survey about the impact of participation in the program
  • Must attend car care class prior to receipt of vehicle
This is important to me because my core work is with people who are unemployed or underemployed.  I and my Library provide this help for at least 15 hours each week.  It is not enough, but it has been impossible to find other people willing to volunteer to help, and we are stuck, blocked from further time to help clients by my schedule.

Even those who struggle to make ends meet do not often understand how significant the unemployment problem is in our small city, much less the impact it is having nationwide.  Maybe world-wide, but that is beyond my abilities to address or have much of an opinion.  I provide glasses and, on very rare occasions, eye exams for those who do not have access to any kind of health care, including vision care.  I mostly spend my extra money on buying readers in all of the diopters.  I started with my own clients, by giving them my own readers and then buying more for myself when I could.  I now keep a good supply at one of the social service agencies that serves the homeless in our community.  I buy, they administer.

Oh, and readers are inexpensive reading glasses that do not require an appointment or prescription.  They can be found in drug/pharmacy stores, discount stores and I buy most of mine through the dollar stores, because, well, they are under two dollars to buy.

But, this is not about me all that much, because whilst what I do is important to me, it really is little, just a drop in the universe of need that every single community experiences.  I am not the only person in my city who does stuff like this.  I simply have found a niche that is important to me because I have a rare visual disorder.  We have people, agencies and individual who offer material support to many of our local needs. 

Clothing and other needed supplies, especially laundry detergents and toiletries, at the women's shelters.  The women's shelters here are not shelters with a few helpful programs and services, they are Programs and services that just happen to have a shelter attached.

Food for the shelters (homeless, domestic abuse, mental health), from donations of foodstuffs from individuals and groups, restaurants, bakeries and food purveyors of all kinds.  There are community meal programs, provided by private social service agencies and groups, churches and one private group of people.  We have food pantries and similar programs here, too.  There is a round-robin resource to provide mid-day meals and social contact for our elderly citizens.  There have been times when I considered using them to help with my own nutrition, but have managed to not use them yet. 

There is a hospitality center run by and in a church.  They provide social contact and context for people with all manner of issues, mid-day meals for those who live in one of the shelters where the residents are required to out looking for jobs during eight hours each day.  {{The truth is that it is impossible to search for jobs and make applications for that amount of time, which is forty hours weekly, in a place where there are fewer and fewer jobs.  I understand the shelter's requirements; I hold many of the same for my clients.}} The church also offers shelter during severe weather, including overnights.  They also gather food for visitors to take home, clothing (recently presented one of my clients with job interview clothes and shoes), blankets and more.  I try to donate large food items as often as possible, such as meat and cheese for sandwiches and staples (like peanut butter) that the people who are there can take home.  I like a lot of what they do and have attended services there a few time.  I think, if I can find a way, that this may be the church community for which I have been searching.

Furniture and other household stuff for those who manage to find housing, is offered by churches and other agencies. 

Speaking of housing, there is a small organization that helps with utility bills, and an agency that helps with rent until the person finds employment.  There is also a religious group that funds two-year stays in an apartment building to help women and their children get back on their feet.  I was offered housing there when I was homeless, but I knew that there were other women with greater need than I had, especially those with children, and I thought that I would eventually manage to find housing on my own, without financial aid.  I did, by the way.

Health care is provided by another religious organization, all nuns, who use some of their meager resources to afford medications and doctor visits.  Most of the doctor's who are involved with this offer hugely discounted fees, or no fees at all, although that number is fewer.  These same nuns are the forerunners in helping those who suffer from mental illness and life-long health conditions and diseases, fight for state assistance that is constantly being chopped to bits.  This is important.  The governing state agencies determine who receives help, how much and for how long.  Their most recent policies have determined that if someone finally achieves an effective medicine level, that it means that they are successfully treated and then denies further medicine assistance.  What the totally and unrelenting fuck!  It is a huge job and thank goodness they have stepped up to fight for these patients.

These needs are everywhere.  Despite the official figures, and the fact that our county has the highest unemployment rates in our state and most of the surrounding states, those without jobs are vastly underrepresented and helped.  My best guess, from my work and other agencies with which I connect, the true unemployment rate is often at least 50%, not only here in areas of the city, but in parts of our rural areas, as well.  

Every community has these needs.  If you are not already involved in whatever way you are able, please consider doing something.  Anything. 

Give a case of peanut butter jars to a food pantry (along with a few plastic knives and some bread, if you can), or to a hospitality center, like I do. 
Save, clean and donate clothing that you no longer need. 
Pass on unused appliances, both large and small, to organizations or neighbors in need. 
Help with lawn care or snow removal for your elderly or disabled neighbors. 
When you grocery shop, buy an extra, non-perishable item for the donation bin at the front of the store.  You will never notice the extra cost.  I swear.
Mentor in your schools, even if you do not have any children of your own.
Help with a community meal program.
Monetary donations are truly important, but they are not the only thing you can do.

Exert yourself.  Get out there.  So something for someone else who does not blessed with your resources, or your loving family and friends.

Get involved, just please get involved.

Most Americans both middle and slightly upper income levels, are only one or two pay periods away from being without sufficient financial resources to meet their needs.  That could be you.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

cowboy stew

I love chili, the sort of Americanized version is my favorite, but I will eat and enjoy any kind of chili.  Beans.  No beans.  Mild or body-terrorizing spicy.  Red, brown or green.  There is nothing that I dislike about chili. 

It is also pretty darn nutritious and healthy.  Basic broth can be anything of your choosing.  Some chili results do not look like they are broth-based, but they are, or how else could you get all of the ingredients to cook and meld into such soul-supporting and body-warming bliss?

When I was a young wife, my ex would not eat chili of any kind.  If I wanted some I had to cook two menus to accommodate each of us.

When I was a young mother, our child would not eat it either.  It is impossible to discount parental influence, particularly when a child would do anything to gain attention and favor from a parent.

So, one day I was at the market and was choosing pasta products when I saw a shape that was new to me.  It was wheels, at least actual wheel shapes.  Inspiration hit, I bought some, went home and made chili, cooked the wheel pasta and put them together and when everyone came to the table and looked at what seemed to be chili with something weird in it, announced that we were having a new recipe, Cowboy Stew. 

Disbelieving and tentative nibbles were taken, especially by the older one.  Everyone loved it, like loved it so much that it was often requested, and I was able to have chili more often. 

I did nothing to change my original chili recipe, except for adding boiled noodles.  My daughter still talks about cowboy stew and bemoans the loss of wheel-shaped pasta from the market shelves.  You can still buy it in specialty stores or other places I do not know about, I guess.  One local market has wheels in a package of assorted shapes.  Cool, but not quite the same.  I wonder how many packages I would have to buy to get enough for one pot of chili.

I just browsed and it can be purchased on-line.  The Barilla site lists it, but when I tried to buy some, it told me that they do not have any on-line sellers in their data base.  Amazon sells it for four pounds at $8.00/US.  Pretty cheap if you buy $35.00 worth, as it then has free shipping.

Aside from now wanting very much to have noodles of some kind, when I thought of that old cowboy chili experiment (which it was, because it could have failed to fool anyone) perception can often be everything.

I appear to be pretty well put-together.  I work and do it well.  I am well groomed.  I smell nice.  It is just that no one knows how messed up I still am.  I am working on settling and being a more fully organized being.  I am working on that today, as a matter of fact.  It bothers me to be two different people, present entirely different personas.  I need to bring some order, some alignment into the life I want, my new-now life. 

On the days when I cannot manage to appear like a normal person, I stay home.  I think, or at least hope, that normal people do the same.   Probably not as much, though.

Silly memories of food and what it means to nurture and love my family, all those years ago when it seemed that the worst was over (how foolish that notion was), and maybe we could have a regular life, one that did not include fear and pain.  So hopeful that I would be able to find the perfect balance of providing for my family whilst avoiding anything to disturb and incite him.

The same process of never giving up is what I need to call back into my life now, but with the certainty that what I do now, removing the messier part of my life.   All from feeling hungry and letting memories flow a bit.  I need to remember that there were plenty of good moments from that other life.

Friday, February 21, 2014

the legend of the invisible chicken and other terrible and true tales

On the way home from therapy and errands, I was hungry.  Head shrinking begins early in there here parts and there is no time for breakfast.  Yesterday there was not any time for lunch either.

The last...hopefully...of the paperwork I need for taxes is now at the guy who is helping me.  I have told that story of last year many times.  Forward movement, so, anyway.  I also paid my Internet server bill, mailed the three that I just did not have the time to deliver.  Sometimes stamps are less expensive than trying to micro-plan every errand. 

I stopped at my dentist and got some more of that horrible stuff that is helping to keep my gums alive and my teeth in their sockets.  I like my dentist and his hygienist and the x-ray people and everyone else, except for the receptionist.  I go to a chain clinic and she is the perfect example of a person with less talent than is needed for the person with whom potential clients have contact.  What a rude pain she is.  It is not just me, you like she took offense at me for simply existing.  I have observed her spreading her mission of rudeness to perfectly lovely patients waiting with me on the chairs near the television. 

Why are there televisions everywhere you go?  Waiting rooms, restaurants, the market, they all have a screen up there somewhere to give us something to do whilst waiting.  I do not mind waiting for appointments, as I always have a book and, of course, the television to keep me entertained

Anyway, I finished all of the things I had to do, with no energy left for going to the laundromat.  Rats, still have to fit that in this weekend.  So, there I was, on my way home and as I was approaching the market that has nice, already cooked chickens, a delight I just discovered sometime in the past couple of months; so yummy and easy. 

Then, I remembered that I already had one of them.

I did buy one.  When?  Recently.  Like this week.  Where is it?  I have no idea.

I bought it on the way back home from my daughter's on Sunday.  I remember the deli woman handing it to me.  I remember taking it out of the cart and putting it on the conveyor belt.  I remember taking the steamy and tasty dinner indulgence and putting it in the cart with the rest of the groceries.

And, that is my last memory of our time together.

It is not in the refrigerator.  It is not in the car, not the back seat, not the trunk, not the engine compartment.  It is not anywhere.  My best guess is that I left in the cart, which I pushed over the the cart corral.  And, anyway, I bought it on Sunday, so Thursday night would have kind of pushing it in the safe to eat realm.  So, no chicken for me, just another incident of me and my declining memory innocently running through the meadows of my day.  Life.  Maybe it is where all of the other things I have lost are now living.

Part B.

One of my Wednesday clients is someone that I really cannot help.  The short version is that he has either mental or emotional or physical issues that have a negative impact on his ability to stay employed.  In the past ten years, he has not had a job that lasted more than a couple of months.  Additionally, I found out this week that he has lied about nearly everything on his résumé.  I know this only because he made the mistake of showing me an earlier version of his work history that is entirely different company names, references and, well, just everything.  He also admitted that he made up the dates when he worked wherever it is he claims to have worked.

His behavior is eerily similar to other clients that try to fill in voids in their work records due to incarceration and/or long-term hospitalization.  The worst part is that all of those gaps can easily be determined by a prospective employer and that whilst I am a excellent detector of untruths, there is not a damn thing I can to do help someone in this kind of distress.

And, it is genuine and heartbreaking distress.  So, he shows up today at the drop-in Lab and is just his usual mess.  Sometime between the time I e-mailed his completed, albeit fictional, résumé to him, it seems to have been saved as an entirely different document.  I save and double-save everything as was able to pull his stuff out of my, well, you know.

He mentioned that he had to leave by a certain time because he had to pick up his mother from her job.  I reminded him, but he hung around talking, something he always does.  Rambling, delaying, I really do get that, which is why I give him the last appointment of the day.  Without that extra buffer of time, I would never get on to the next client.

It sounds like I do not like him, but I do.  It is just that there simply is no helping him in any meaningful way.  He has a résumé and other documents that I know are not honest, truthful or honest-honest-honest.  He comes to me because he has exhausted every other single resource available to him.  He refuses to consider getting any training, taking any workshops that I know could be very helpful to him, and, most especially, the agency in town that could help with his disabilities. 

I can only do what I can do, and it is not enough.  Today he cemented my sense of hopelessness.  When he kept delaying his departure, I finally escorted him to the door.  That does not always work, but I plodded on reminding him that his mother might be upset if he was late.  He finally left and ten minutes later, the facility guy came by, stood and looked at the clock and muttered something about it being at the correct time.  I asked him what was going on and he told me that a man had stopped by the main desk on his way out of the building to complain that the clock in the Lab was running ten minutes fast. 

I started laughing, described that client and it was, still is I guess, the same person.  My best guess is that he was going to use that excuse for fetching his mother late and was, still is, hoping that if she checks he will have the evidence of having complained.  Man.  He is in his mid-thirties.  He is nice.  I like him.  I really cannot help me any further.  He will keep coming on Fridays.  It is what we do.

Tale number three, not that I am counting. 

I am seeing a spiritual counselor.  She is a nun and a quite groovy one at that, as most nuns are.  Nuns have a long and glorious reputation as movers and shakers for all sorts of things, social justice only one of those noble things that nuns do.  I enjoy our time together and she is managing to pull some pretty amazing stuff out of me whilst I struggle to find my way back to faith.  Maybe God, too, although maybe not. 

One of the things with which I struggle these days is regret, piles and mountains and planets of regret.  Today is the two-year anniversary of the day I fled that other life.  This second year is so much worse than the first one.  I am mired in wishing that I could have left with, gosh, at least some dignity, that I had not had to try and save my life, that it had not been such a fucking dramatic escape.  Maybe that is what escape is supposed to be.  Maybe I am just wishing that I had crept out of there as the stupid and compliant mouse I always was.  Maybe, if I had been a proper rodent, that I would have stayed compliant and silent and just accepted what was happening that day.  I mean, I am glad that I am here and that I am around to have this totally wonderful life, but fleeing that day was the validation, or maybe verification, of just what a miserable creature I was then.  I am glad to be alive.  It is just that running and hiding caused all sorts of other problems.

I know that if I had planned and deliberated and eased into leaving and divorcing and that he had been a part of the process, you know, like normal and decent people behave when decently ending their marriage, that everything would have been bad, just in a different way.  Just a mess. 

I wish that I could have been kinder, more humane or something.  Yeah, I think it would have been worse.  J, just let this go.

Sister MA is one of the best people, ever.  She lets me expend all that energy and listened as I whimpered through all of that regret stuff.  I am not ready to share what she said to me, only that it was something that I would never have come to on my own.  It shortened our session by half and I am not the same person I was when I entered the place that morning.  You know how when you learn or hear something that is entirely new to you and your response is that Oh! I knew that!  And, it resonates you straight to the bone because it is true and somewhere, even though it truly is something new, you just know that it must be cellular memory or something, and that you finally heard it at exactly the right moment because it was exactly what you needed to know.  Right then.  Was it Jung who called that the ah-ha moment?  I think so.

When that happened, she let it be whatever it was for me, and when I was able to talk again, we talked and she told me that all she ever does is reflect back to me what she hears me saying.  Sharing. 

I shared a bit of the experience with the support group that E runs, and we all talked about those moments, if we ever had any, and to what in our lives that might be drawing our attention. 

For me, it is about being taken from that other life, rescued and E told me that despite the desperateness of having this second anniversary of that day, that maybe what happened to me yesterday could be the anniversary to take the place of the bad one.  Which is the good one, really, just so damn traumatic.  Leaving that life. 

I like that idea.  I like it a lot.

I am going to keep on paying attention to my now-life.  And, if I was truly rescued that day, it seems to me that I have a responsibility to make the best of what I have, that it would be a shame to waste all of this new opportunity, shameful and disrespectful.

Friday is over, the 21st is over.  Tomorrow I begin a deep cleaning and divesting of anything from that other life that no longer serves me.  Not just stuff, but the emotional baggage that I might be using to hold me back from where my life is calling me.

Monday, February 17, 2014

not writing

I have not had any desire to write for a while.  I am feeling the need to release, or at least spew, a lot of things, but the process of writing does not feel comfortable.

As a result, I am kind of stuffed with stuff and nowhere to put it.  I think that it is connected to being in a period of great change.  I think that is the source, as change does not come easily to me and I always go to ground when change is what I need to face, or if it is forced on me.  My default behavior is to ignore whatever it is and hope that if it is neglected that it will just go away.  It would be so nice if that worked.  Really nice.

I find it interesting that several areas of change in my life are coincidental with the second anniversary of when I fled that other life.  The actual date is next week, the 22nd.  Those bunch of days and weeks are still a nightmare of panic, escape and so many things I just have to get over and forget as much as possible.

I have been nightmaring for more than three weeks.  First two weeks or so of that person and his family.  Now, they include people in my life now, with the same frustrating barriers to any kind of resolution, in dream or out.  I used lucid dreaming to change the mares before they ended.  It worked for a few nights, four to be exact, and then I kept waking every half hour or so when I stopped the activity.  So, not being nearly the dummy I used to be, I stopped that.  Who woulda thunk it.

The mares now are frustrating, but at least no one is trying to kill me in them.  I will have to wait it out until they stop.  Fucking ptsd.

Anyway, to think about other things.  I spent the weekend with my daughter and her family.  It went really well.  She did not become impatient with me even one time.  My guess is that I behaved more properly and did not irritate her.  My therapist keeps telling me to talk to her, and I have tried to do that, to let her know that she can say anything to me, but she is not interested.  So be it.  I really do not want to be in a position where I have to decline to answer any questions about what happened to me.  I will not say anything bad or even the teeniest bit negative about her father.  I do not believe that children, even adult children, should carry any of the burden of their parents' experiences.

I wish, oh, so much, that there will come a time when she will not need to have her husband be her voice with me about this.  We can talk about anything, but not this.  I cannot imagine the pain that she has to carry about him and all of this mess.  Most of it is over for me, but I think not so much for her, although I am only guessing, as she will not talk to me about any of it.

That makes me think of some larger circumstances that friends of mine and their families have had to deal with, how essential talking about some things were, to be a part of the history of that time as it was for their parents and grandparents.  They tell me, in one way or another, how important it is for the healing of the entire family and community.  My experiences are minor in comparison and it does not make any sense to damage any chance my daughter may have in connecting with her father at some point.  

I mention all of this because on Saturday we celebrate, finally, Yule and Christmas.  We had the most wonderful time and when my son-in-law drove to pick up the boys' favorite Chinese take-out, he asked about her dad.  I have not spoken to him since the morning of the day I left and have seen him just the two times we were in court, so I know nothing about him from that time.  I am surprised that he asked.  Life is so complicated.  I told him that if C ever wants to talk to me that I will do whatever and however she wants to do that, but that there are many things that I simply cannot share with her.  Those include the same things that I will never share with anyone.

Keep writing, J.  Um, one of the gifts I had for the boys was one of those rubber band looms.  I guess that many of his friends have one and they all get together and make bracelets and other stuff.  Their school allows them to bring the looms and supplies to school and use them at lunchtime and all the indoor recess periods they are having this year.  I bought him lots of supplies, a storage box and a really cool tool bag in which to put everything.  He had never made any himself, but in the span of a couple of hours he learned how and then taught me.  I am sure that he has observed his friends making their stuff, but that was still a pretty cool accomplishment for a six year old.

The little guy has a broken arm, having fallen just a couple of feet to the floor and wrecked something in his elbow.  This is the same sweetie that has worn a series of wounds and last year had an accident with his bike, where he flew over the handlebars, cracked his helmet and knocked out a tooth that all of us had to search for before taking him to the emergency room; so the emergency room is not all that scary to him.  He and his Pooh doll had all the same treatments, including a pretend x-ray for the bear and temporary casts for both of them, as well as glow-in-the-dark stickers proclaiming their successful treatments.

He had a follow-up appointment a few days ago with an orthopedic surgeon to apply a permanent cast.  He did not want to go and whilst he was cooperative, he kept his head down, chin to chest, when the temp cast was removed and they did whatever they do to hold his broken arm.

The surgeon tried to joke with him and involved a newly licensed and very young doctor who was shadowing him that day.  Every joke and jest was met with silence.  One of the things he said was that he would be able to smack his brother with his new cast.  No reply.  Later, the surgeon asked who the first person he/grandson would smack and, with head still down, replied, "The doctor."  And, started giggling.  I just love that kid. He has had a lovely and ironic sense of humor since he began to talk and could make jokes.  My daughter says that he appears to be just a plain, old boy on the outside, but that there is some serious stuff going on inside him.

I know just what she means.  He is on the quiet side, both boys are, but his insight into other people and situations just takes my breath away.  I have been calling him my Buddha Boy since he was little.  And, he is the most wise young person I have ever known.  I love them just the same, but there is a sense that he and I will be close as he grows up.

You know, when I am there, or they are here, that my peace and contentment is all I need or every will.  I know that I am lucky that they are my family and I never forget for a moment what a blessing we are for one another.

Last week I had the best compliment of my life.  I have been struggling with being stuck for quite a few months, you know, not making enough progress, insufficient forward movement.  I am able to intellectualize how far I have come.  It is just that fear still has the power to overwhelm me sometimes.

So, anyway, there I was at the office of the accountant who was chosen by my ex to prepare out taxes for 2013.  He waited until the last minute to provide any paperwork or information and it cost me more than $600 to have it done in time, even with an extension. 

Anyway, the accountant turned out to be someone I know, a fellow parent from the time our children were in elementary school, something my ex would have known had he ever been involved with our daughter.  It was nice and he told me to call him anytime if I had any questions about anything financial.

When I saw him last week, he wanted to chat before we got to work and told me that I looked great and asked how I was doing.  I told him, gushed actually, about nearly everything.  He told me that I looked great.  Again.  And that I was very different from when he saw me last year.  He said, "You were," and patted his hand on his desk and I finally said, "A wreck, right?"  He looked up and said, "No.  You were way more than a wreck."  Then, told me that I had made his day, that he and his wife had often prayed for me and he was pleased to hear how well I was doing. 

Best.  Compliment.  Ever.   Like ever.  So far he will not tell me how much I will owe him, but it does not matter.  He is making my life less stressful, just by being the person I remember from all those school-day years ago.  There are some really wonderful things from that other life and it is another blessing to be able to remember them and be able to recognize them when they arrive on the silver platter that is my old friend.

I am rattled by this two year anniversary.  I know what I want, but am not so sure about what I am capable of doing. 
I am stronger than I have ever been in my life. 
I can do what I need to do, most of the time. 
I can remember to take care of myself, sometimes.
I can forgive myself for not being perfect, always.  This is such a huge thing.

I have some choices to make in the next few months. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

flirting and regret

Not necessarily at the same time.
Not necessarily connected.

So, anyway, there I was, at work, running the drop-in lab and wondering what the heck????  I have eight computers, one of which I hold for myself so that I can shoot resources to the people working on the other computers.  That means that there are seven computers available.

Today, six people dropped-in, three regulars and one site employee who I am feeling bittersweet about helping because, well, I love him and his family like crazy (especially their new baby) and would do anything for them, but if he finds a new job I will no longer be able to groove with them.  And, it is wonderful to help him and I will miss them and it is as it should be.  All righty.

The other two people were complete computer novices, at either edge of the working edge spectrum.  Fascinating to work with each of them.

There was a half-hour when no one was there and I was catching up on stuff and a friend stopped by, not to work, but to chat.  He told me that a certain behavior of mine has always bothered him.  You can imagine how eager I was to learn what he disliked about me.

He told me that he has always been uncomfortable when I am flirting with someone, and that it especially bothered him that I was not discriminating (his word) about who I would flirt with.  But, he needed to tell me that he read an article recently that talked about how politeness is often mistaken for flirting.  That common, ordinary courtesy and friendliness and being polite and engaging is something that most people do not either recognize or practice.  He said that he had misjudged me as a shallow person, someone who was careless with other people's feelings, but mostly shallow.

And, I sat there and listened to him talk and talk about this, and I could see that our friendship was not quite what I thought it to be.  I guess the truth is that none of our friendships are all that closely aligned to what we think they are or want them to be.  And, then we had a laugh about it and some more chatting and he left, with promises from both of us that we will get together for lunch in the next few weeks.

It was only later that I thought about what it means to be friendly and comfortable with other people.  I foster that with my clients because by the time they get to me they have been disappointed by the others who they sought out for help.  So, not only am I totally in love with my work, it extends to my clients as well, but that is not what he, my friend, was talking about and it is not the energy about this that grabs me.

I should probably Google to find this article.  For now I want the idea to percolate within me.  Why should being friendly, fun and engaging be misconstrued as being sexual?  I do not get it, except that I kind of do.  I think that common courtesy is all too often missing in the way we treat other people.  Our families and friends are relationships that are complicated by repression of, or decisions to avoid dealing with conflicts and disagreements.  You know, if you cannot get along with your aging parents or your stupid and selfish sister, or your friend that hogs the conversation, or that other friend who is always trying to borrow things from you, then the familial and social conventions are compromised.  There is a false and strained relationship that might appear to be mutually supportive, but is most likely a hidden, steaming and rancid stream of discomfort, judgement and misunderstanding. 

So, if you expect to have to be polite to your family at the major holidays, I get that, because I have done that myself.  There were times when I would reach out to the sister-in-law who disliked me, want to share time together, during which I always held the hope that I could figure out what the hell she so strongly hates about me.  Not dislikes, but actually hates.  I digress, but she is the sister of my ex that tried so hard to hurt me, something that shocked me, although it should not have, as every attempt to befriend her was used against me.  Optimist that I am, I held out for some opportunity to turn that relationship in another direction.  Anyway. 

My point is that I truly get the practice of being nice only on the surface, with no heart to support it.  Yet, I never considered that it could be seen as flirting.  All these hours later, it still stings a bit.  I just have to wonder how many other people, even clients for gods sake, think me a stupid, uncaring, careless and phony asshole.  I hope it not many, and however many there are I hope they read the same article and cut me some slack. 

Or, maybe I do not.  Care.  All that much.  This is making me feel defensive and a little feisty.  I have the weekend to get over myself.  I am not important in the world in anything close to that respect, so no big deal.  I just think the whole issue is interesting and I suspect that I might remember this sometimes and sort of examine how I am with other people.  I wonder if any of the people I know think that I am flirting with them.  Man, I hope not.  Crazy stuff.

As for regret, that concept is what helped me make a decision about the job offer from Tuesday.

I decided by thinking about what I would regret more.  Would I regret not taking the new job or would my greater regret be about leaving most of the work I am doing now.

The new job makes sense in every way.  It would be an opportunity to do exactly the work for which I have been training.  It would put my certifications to use, active, every day. 

Staying where I am makes sense, too.  I am doing work I love and am really, really good at doing it.

So, I will be declining the new job offer.  I am going to wait a week or two and then make an appointment with the director of that program to officially tell her and to explore a couple of less intensive options.  Maybe being an on-call advocate or volunteering a couple of days each months.  Maybe she would have some ideas.  Maybe I will think of more ideas.  What is not a potential maybe is that she will be disappointed or upset about my decision.   People are the focus of the work there, it is the mission that fuels everything that happens there. 

Still.  This is such a blessing, to have two choices of work to do.  Work I love.  Man.

I am just thinking that when I started this, I needed to spew out both issues, the mistaken flirting and holding regret.  They did not seem connected when I began, but they do now.  Life surely is interesting.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

still thinking

It occurs to me that a decision about the proffered job should not have all that much thinking about what I might want to do.

I should either want it or not.  None of this waffling.  Sure, it makes sense to do a little comparing...I will cop to that...because when I make a commitment, I do just that.  I do not try things out and then decide.  That is disrespectful, not only to the person or organization (although it is always about the people for me), but most especially to me. 

I have always felt and believed this.  Not always successful in my choices,  but when I give my word, that is it.  Good choice, super.  Bad choice, too fucking bad.  I have been volunteering for most of my life and have accepted many unfortunate jobs.  Unfortunate acceptances might be one of the perils of volunteering, but I have done the same with paid jobs, not that I have had all that many.  My three major jobs have lasted 20 years, 28 years and nearly 20 years.  There was overlap, as they never paid well individually.

I have loved all of those jobs, as well as the temporary ones that managed to wedge themselves in over the decades.  One of the benefits of not being a quitter is that I was forced to find meaning and pleasure in every employment or volunteer thing that I have done, despite crappy managers, crappy pay, unrelenting hours and interesting customers and clients.  I believe that it is possible to transform how I feel about a job or the people associated with it from terrible to wonderful.  Within the parameters of what is/was expected of me I could do a good job, often a totally kick-ass job; I could learn to get along with anyone, even the worst boss...yes, Charlene, I mean you...or fellow know who you are, you pests.  I know that more people agree with me about this than think I am full of earwax.

There is so much more that I could say about the energy this holds for me, but it boils down to this:  All I have is my word.  That is all any of us have. 

Be unreliable, give up, cut corners, drop out and nothing you can say will restore your word, your credibility, your reputation.  Truth will out. 

So, even though I really do know where my heart is calling me, I want to respect myself, the people I might have the opportunity to serve and those already in my life, at the volunteer jobs I now have.

I think that work-wise, I am in a very good place.  My Wednesday work, the Friday drop-in lab and the groups that I sometimes co-facilitate are very satisfying.  There are times, plenty of them I guess, that I wonder how I came to do all of this.  I honor how amazing my new life has turned out to be.  I also honor that I kind of deserve this, all of it.  I feel as though I am standing still sometimes, way too often, but I know that I am healing.  I am recovering as best I can and my life truly rocks.  Big time.

When I lived in that shelter, the one that offered me a job yesterday, I was mostly in shock that first month, but I still managed to appreciate the advocates and the work they do.  Once in a while I would long for the chance to do the same thing for other women and their children, offer the support and help and the chance to make different choices, choose a new life that had absolutely no connection to neglect, abuse and possible death.  But, I knew that longing was not enough and that I lacked the skills to help anyone else.  Heck, I could barely help myself.

Except that I have helped myself.  I do help other women, and a whole bunch of men, too.  I love the work I am doing.  I like my clients, even the man this afternoon who showed up a half-hour late, intoxicated.  We had a small discussion, I tried to make it work, but he could not concentrate.  When I shared that I could smell alcohol on him he admitted that he had been drinking beer, so I further shared that I do not work with people under the influence and that we could make another appointment, but that we would not be working today.  Security and the Circulation Manager made sure that he safely left the building.  I even kind of like the other man today, second visit, who has mental health care issues beyond my ability to help and we will, hopefully, be resourcing our hearts out for him.  It is about teaming up with other community agencies, something else I also love. 

In addition, another agency has offered me the opportunity to hold art and crafting classes and workshops for the population they serve, which is those who are homeless, close to becoming so and are no longer homeless and still have many challenges.  I do not know who is more excited about this - me, the agency or their clients. 

I want them both, my current work and the new job.  I do know what I am going to choose.  I do.  I am going to draw a lot of criticism to myself because my choice is to stay where I am.  All of the work that has evolved  from a query nearly five years ago to be allowed to help library patrons with on-line job applications on one of the bank of public computers in the adult services section is exactly what I want to do. 

Given my shaky financial situation it probably seems screamingly stupid, reckless and just plain foolish to pass on a full-time paid job.  Even worse is that the job is the penultimate job for my skills, as it incorporates the certifications I earned last year.  I must be insane.

If it is crazy, maybe it is the best kind.  It feels really good.  Solid.  Responsible.  And, it maintains my commitment to the work I created for myself and, well, I guess, my word.

Once I knew this afternoon what I would do, I dropped off my keys and popped into our Director's office and told her that I had been offered that job and was just checking to see if they really wanted me at the library.  She said of course, and I pushed for honestly, that I did not want to just feel good about being there, I also needed to know if everything was still working for everyone else.  I am really just a volunteer, so that is important to me. 

She told me that I had to stay and that I had to, "Just tell her 'no'", which I had already planned to do and shared with her at the beginning of the conversation.  I was not looking for praise or anything, just needed to know that in my bliss of working there that I was not distressing or causing problems for anyone other department or persons.

I get to share all of this with my therapist tomorrow morning.  It will be interesting to find out how she feels about giving up paid employment.  I do not know, maybe I really am insane.

If I am, it makes me happy.  This is either a celebration of being able to survive into a new, safe and groovy life, or another example of reluctantly fearing taking new steps in better directions.  My guess is that I will never know for sure.  In the meantime, yay me.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


This afternoon I stopped at the shelter where I lived when I left that other life.  I was there for two of the months that I was in hiding. 

I tried to call earlier, to find out if the domestic violence support group was meeting tonight.  Yeah.  They installed a new phone system a few months back and it is a mess.  The messages are too long before options are given.  The options are confusing to me, a person who know practically everyone there, except for the new legal resource person.  I can only imagine what it must be like for someone with a more urgent need to contact them.

In defense of the crappy phone system and particularly the voice mail stuff, they do tell callers to immediately dial 911 or to call their crisis line.

Then, it gets weird.

So, after two separate calls (the last one was 4 minutes and 19 seconds), I could not get through, loaded up my now clean and delightful laundry, got some groceries, mailed my bills...yay...and swung by the place.

I wanted to just ask about the meeting tonight, but was hugged into the lobby and then the main office downstairs.  The director was just leaving, put down her stuff and gave me a hug, too.  She said she had to get going, and then asked if I wanted to work there, be an advocate.  It was first shift, long hours, hard work and hardly any pay. 


Ummmm.   Well...ummm.  And, she told me to think about it.  I continued into the inner office and we chatted, yes, there is a DV meeting and I shared what just happened. 

It seems to be cool with everyone, and whilst it will be difficult working around my work with my clients, it could be done.  The on-site advocate offered to give me some of her second shift hours, but I am not going to accept. 

The pay really is dismal.

Okay, what do you require for your pay scale?

Oh, as little as possible without anything illegal.


I have some serious thinking to do.  With my certifications from last year, my experiences there, my continuing recovery and healing, and the supportive way that I have stayed in touch with everyone, this is a nearly perfect fit for me.  Maybe this is the reason that I have not been able to find a job related to my training from last year.

Thinking, thinking, thinking.