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.