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

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.