Essays. Meanderings and mutterings. Lots of photos of our cat. Counting coup on fifty years existence.
I go flat, unwilling to assert myself to nourish friendships, make contact, take classes. Rebuffed in early attempts at classes, the pottery where I took classes no longer offers them, the yoga classes are at inconvenient times, the fitness center at D's alma mater is more out of the way now that he's started classes at the Big U, so when our month's fee lapsed, we let it.
Work is what it is, no surprizes, and I care about doing it well. Deeply. I have a weird schedule, which for my field is normal, with my agreement, a mid-week weekend, working Saturday. Useful, for getting errands (that are mostly done now) done, as well as being thrown in to all kinds of cases, proving that I can manage just fine, if not prettily. But I work the exact opposite schedule of a friend who I planned to hike canyons with. Not even worrying, just resigned and tired all the time.
I feel alone, without the loneliness from before, I have grown accustomed to spending months without socializing, a week or two passes me by, not aware I have not sat and talked with a friend.
Boston hurt. I miss very specific bits of Boston, without missing the place, and certainly not the place I worked there. Some of the people I worked with, I will miss all my life.
Knowing it would solve nothing, I dream of moving somewhere else. The troubles in the housing market, not normally a concern, kill off the vestiges of an old dream. I will probably never have a house of my own, no garden, no murals or stained glass windows. The situation in Turkey steals my long desire to see Istanbul and the Hagia Sophia, so dangerous, especially for americans, for so we are. Even visiting Britain feels ridiculous, having lived so much closer and not making it then.
Change feels a long way off. The novel is a massive mess. I untangle a bit every day, despairing of ever making it all come round.
I continue to toy with the idea of letting the blogging go. It is an artificial shortage issue, what would I fill that with? A bitter choice, to throw away a perfectly good artistic, communicative outlet, with no pressing replacement. Petulant and angry, not a choice of plenty, an impulsive rejection that if I can't have enough, I'll throw it all away. The idea that poked out of a miserable day will not leave. I am deflated, sinking.
Insufficient beer error.
Amazing how a short day, only eight hours when twelve was expected, can improve my outlook on life. It's always the little things, always. I stopped at the best grocery store here, and picked up good beer as well.
If this feels insufficient, I need to build new first. Then reassess. And I have not. I have not written the kinds of essays I started with - longer, structured, nothing chatty about 'em. Now, I just whine.
I must ponder. I need a new set of guidelines, new expectations. Gotta get off my butt when I'm not at work.
D got the one with the bunny. He's just started the PhD program, which is very anxiety producing. Moby keeps him much calmer. I got the other photo, sent it to him at school, so as to continue remote Mobytherapy.
I miss Boston for all that was wonderful - Trader Joe's, Pace's Deli, the harbor ferries, places to walk, the light on the architecture, the moisture, the oxygen, trains to everywhere, Filene's Basement.
I am relieved to be back, away from all that was awful. The crowds, the cold wind, the lousy, tiny, overpriced apartments, the beggars, the shark cabs, gentrification and construction. Mostly, the increasingly bad work environment. I have never worked for such incompetent, unfair, entitled managers as I found in the hospitals there. Had I thought I had to stay, I'd have exploded in frustrated disgust. So many good people in such broken systems, always the hard way around any task.
I don't like to admit my difficulties with the more extremes of diversity, but that is part of my discomfort. Bahamian women cackling in French set my teeth on edge. Despite knowing I was invisible to them, not the subject of their scornful mocking loud laughter, my body reacted as though insulted. The Arabic men reeking of baths of perfume, as well as the Europeans, the Italians whose families had been here centuries longer than mine, and some of the other more recently arrived as well. Easily nauseated by artificial odors, this became as intolerable as the stench of smokers, as the car exhaust fumes. Constant confusion with heavy accents, drawer and door are not pronounced identically in my ears. The babel of it turned from bemusement to weary despair after three years. I don't know how people just move to large foreign cities, and live their entire lives there.
Then there is here, White Bread City*. So many Barbie girls, so many returned missionaries, so deep the conformity and safely oblivious choices. The slow drivers (and me driving again after so long) the national chain stores, the sheer shabbiness of the buildings. The heat, the distances. Work is much better, but I am half newbie, half experienced, and those hired since I left treat me as the former. A move to a new place impending, everyone edgy.
I don't fit here, either. I will never fit anywhere. I am homeless to the depths of my soul, save only D, who is the other side. I know this, have known for a long time. I am bothered that it still hurts so. But no small place would want me, either. Nor am I a go-out-to-the-woods-and-hide type.
I want to finish the book, dream of publishing, of one day making a living this way. And I dither as I do so. A hard, steep path, and I have little inclination for the selling of it. So, first, the story. One step, then the next. Sleep tonight, fingers on keyboard tomorrow. Find the local writers' group, attend next gathering.
Mood no good.
*To borrow a convention from Jo(e).
Instead it was my first experience of the business meeting, the sales briefing, and I was bored and aghast. Instead of inventiveness, the school age kids around me and I were presented with a plan for a walking bird puppet, string, wood, feathers, a tatty craft project gone toxic. No choices, nothing inspiring, just guys in suits wanting us to make and sell this stupid idea. All I wanted was to leave, immediately. But we'd been assigned jobs, in this borrowed office space, that we had to accomplish before we left, regardless of whether I'd committed to any project.
I was sent to clean the restroom. I picked up the trash on the floor, wiped around the sink, and saw a big, used sanitary pad stuffed behind the toilet. No way I was touching that without a glove. No way. I left it. It was time to leave, my parents were waiting for me, and I was called out to "finish" my job. I was intimidated into handing that bit of refuse, with bare hands, over my objections, before I was allowed to leave. Bastards. I was never joining their organization, I had nothing to lose really, but because they were big, and in suits, and blocking my way out, I felt I had no choice. I tried to refuse, I did refuse, but I was not heard. I discarded that revolting bit of refuse, resentfully, angry at being cornered.
I do worse on a daily basis, these days. But I am paid to do this, part of my duty, although with gloves. I have removed used pads from patients, without so much as a single qualm. It was not the job in itself, but the pressure, the coercion of a kid, not a janitor with proper supplies, not a nurse caring for a patient. A kid having to clean up after another kid, without compensation, solely because they were big. At my adult brother's instigation, really.
I heard Peter Sis on NPR this week, talking about the Young Pioneers, the coercive society of that communist regime, preying on the vulnerability of children. Children have little resistance, being taught to be obedient, being dependent, being inexperienced. Or did, the way I was raised, when I was a kid. Still so, for many. So easily pushed, in no position to object meaningfully, even if they intuit that what is demanded of them is wrong.
I looked up JA, found to my horror they they are non-profit, a charity. A free-enterprize, capitalist charity. The irony does not strike me as funny, somehow. All those kids of all those shiny new MBAs, I assume. Very sad.
Moby was not happy this morning. Vocal and insistent. Not to be made happy. Unusual, he is generally a cat of few words, readily contented.
Then, there was another creature out there. Moby is the sole cat of the universe, so any evidence to the contrary is just not ok. Two months in the shelter did not convince him otherwise. Which is why we will never have another cat so long as we have him. There is the Adam Savage line from Mythbusters, "I reject your reality and substitute my own." Yup. Once the Other Creature was gone, and D got out of Moby's chair, he quieted down. The Cat's in His Chair and all is Right with the World.
This made me laugh out loud today. Your mileage may vary.
Say Jesus is your saviour, and get eternal life.
Repeat Amida Buddha ten thousand times, and be free from this world of suffering and illusion.
Say you believe in the words of an ancient book, and be justified in all you do.
To me, the rejection of this amazing life, with all it's suffering and joy, in the vain striving for an imaginary existence of unchanging peace is gross ingratitude and foolishness. Like refusing a hearty meal, pushing it away, to demand dessert as the reward for not giving in to eating real food. Or turning the ineffable into concrete, twisting the pointer around for self congratulations, righteous anger, instead of boundless mercy.
Not that the occasional desire for temporary respite is not comprehensible, even to self destruction. Laziness is all it is, and inevitably human. What I reject is the glorification of heaven over earth, of paradise after life, over life. When I have grown tired of continuing on, I certainly don't expect reward for my despair.
I know religious people who do not take this idea to such literal extremes, and I can see them living good lives well. The way their religion teaches fits their own internal view of truth is consistent, the honestly religious who do not need everyone else to intone with them to feel secure, and good on them.
I had a teacher of Tai Chi, who was not Taoist, because as a religion, it was, according to him, utterly ritual bound. Even Zen, which is jello when being nailed down by the words of ham-handed writers, can feel very backwards. Religion takes on a cultural life of it's own, independent of it's deep philosophy.
Heaven is right here, right now, always. It's not about belief or hope, but opening our eyes. This is it, this is all we get, and it's always more than enough. It's exhausting and fulfilling, exasperating and hilarious, wrenching and tranquil. I understand hiding from the intensity, the persistence of it, for a time, when numbness and boredom are required. But there is nothing else. Our compassionate love for each other, our striving for honest insight and a fully lived life is life.
I never felt this in the dull misery of catholic mass or any religious service, a community of people who would have be aghast at my lack of what they would call faith. I felt a hypocrite, while wanting them to.
Perhaps I needed D for this, a pairing rather than a group or even solo. Each soul to it's own path.
I only fear those who seek gods for power, require worldwide conversion to their reality, or who believe for luck.
Better to hope for chickens bearing c-notes.
When D bought this desk, it was with the intention that Moby would sit here. One of the rare times that this sort of plan-cooperation has worked out. A favorite perch, Moby gets to be close to D, and either watch him, or watch outside, occasionally be petted, always adored. Most satisfactory.
Gotten over my childish fit of "I don't wanna! It's HARD!" Yeah, well, poor me. I'm blaming hormones, a fair compromise. A bit more chocolate, and I'll be fine.
The story is stuck, again. Will try again tomorrow.
Which I have off work. My mid-week-weekend, these days.
Taking photos of Moby is one thing. Getting him to do a self portrait has been tricker.
That I have done smart things, done well in school, learned much at work is no ease. I am relearning a new version of my work, and I am making newbie errors, as I expected. Back at square one, but with a map, knowing the route. Still, error, error, error. Irritated by the same old stuff. Knowing staying in Boston was not an option, happy to have friends here, but it is just a place. And I no more belong here than I will ever belong anywhere. And I find myself shaken, even knowing, prepared, resigned. I've been new at most things for the last three years, I know what this is about.
But my confidence has both been tempered, and is sore. To have my basic spelling shown deficient, my attention inadequate, throws me into a spiral. I want to delete the whole blog, erase Zhoen forever, then jump off a cliff myself. Quitting. A cowardly response, selfish and tired. Feeding into my lifelong refuge of suicidal thoughts. Escape, oblivion, no more, no more.
D and Moira, their mere presence, stops me cold. To so hurt them would be unforgivable, a brutal contempt, a mess that makes me wish I had no love in my life at all, so that I could just stop. Utter failure of any pretense of compassion. No. Even to turn my back on so many kind bloggers who have encouraged my writing would be ungrateful.
I'm tired, and I bashed my toe with a wooden folding table last night.
Carol, in the locker room tonight, told me she thought I did a beautiful job. I hold on to that.
It's always the little things.
I'm still an idiot.
A chocolate bar, marked His and Hers, and 50% on each side, obviously more like 20/80%, with the larger part going to Hers. Ha. Well, that is how it works in this house. With D's consent. If he loved chocolate as much as I do, it would not. But since I get so much, intense, overwhelming pleasure from chocolate, and he... likes it, the share works rather well. He gets all, save one small bite, of any lemon bar. His half.
I do the dishes. His back hurts when he does them, and we don't have a dishwasher here. He will come in and keep me company while I do them, apologizing at his lack of dishwashingness. Considering how I am tempted to criticize his stacking, we are both happier with me doing that. He usually does the laundry, though I put it away. Well, I didn't this week, and I'm still ticked that it hasn't put itself away. It bloody well knows where it goes by now.
D underestimates his usefulness in the business of our life together. I used to as well. But he keeps track of the finances, and does the taxes on-line. Makes phone calls when I get my bad attacks of call-reluctance, orders for me in restaurants when my anxiety stutter silences me to key words, and strangers. He references my bon mots to friends, and tucks me in at 9PM, when he will be up a few more hours, "putting on talking" for me - audio of Le Carre books, so I can sleep. When I hurt my back last summer, he got a region-free dvd player, so I could watch Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, from the couch. He feeds me when I am crashing from insufficient food, makes chili, or when I've worked a 12, chicken (trying to find an analogue for Chicken Madras a la India Quality.) He is always grateful when I cook, even if it is just boiling up some pasta, or nuking a frozen burrito.
He gives me Moby-reports at work. Covers me if it gets cold at night. Records Emergency Vets for me. He is an endless resource for all kinds of musical, cinematic and historical information, always graciously. He lets me scratch my face on his beard, with only giggling. He laughs at my jokes, however obscure. He is my own, personal, IT department, and cheering section.
He worries, that I am the one with the income. But life, and a life shared, is not about money. Or it's a sad life indeed. I am fortunate that I am good at a needed sort of work right now. Luck. And money by our standards, which ain't rich, but it's enough. Our resources, which includes all the cool stuff he is doing with his brain right now, turning it into a mind that can earn a PhD. Which is utterly cool, by me. Moby doesn't generate any income, does he care? Naw. He knows he brings in all the blessings of Bast, he just is, that is enough.
Lorianne asks, what advice for the Almost-Married? Go through hell together, a death, a flood, a war, an illness, before you decide to make it forever. Know what that person is like when you are useless, when they are useless. If you only argue when you are tired and stressed, that's a terrible sign. That's when one should pull ahead, and pull for the other. When one is cranky, the other should soothe, then trade off. Dating is a fantasy, hard to see the red flags waving under the guise of entertaining each other. When you can be grossly sleep deprived, disappointed, grieving, smelly, having lost one's wallet, one is crying or yelling, the other one says "It'll be fine, we'll be fine." And you are, you really are. Because good people live up to other's admiration.
My first try, when I was too young at 22, meant that I bitched too much, and gave up too much of myself, resentfully. And he expected it all to flow to him. The spiral descended. No-way to have a good marriage with a bad person.
I had to know what to watch out for, and what to look for. With a willingness to simply never have a marriage again. D was just too good to pass up. 17 years in November. Each of us feels we get the better end of the deal.
Cheese is best grated. Fresh mozzarella is amazing.
Smoking is a hideous habit, insidious, addictive, prevalent in the mentally ill.
Guns are tools, dangerous ones unrestricted, in most hands. Like high explosives, rather fun done right. I will never own one. The ex had a reproduction black powder pistol, once shot into the floor beside me. I knew the next episode would be me.
Doctors are odd people, overworked, overtrained, underslept, undersocialized. At least as far as general, ortho, trauma surgeons, grossly underpaid, no matter what they are paid.
Hot dogs need cool water to jump into.
Christmas songs still insist on my voice joining in.
Drink in the morning, especially after too much the night before, is repulsive beyond belief. NO, No, no, no, no, no, nonono.
Push ups are a near perfect exercise, and I really need to do more for my back.
Bathroom clean is a dream, my ideal. Dirty, really groady, I cannot stand. Middle way is most common.
Jewelry is for play, real gold or jewels look tawdry to me. What's wrong with silver and glass?
Attraction to men is hard wired in me. In my youth, I had a couple of crushes on women, only to find it was their long hair (when they cut it off, I lost all interest.)
Friends are vital, central. Mostly taken from D's enduring circle.
Middle name added when I took D's last name, shedding my father's name.
Secret place, only as a child. That varied with my size. Behind the sofa at one point.
New Year is spent singing Sacred Harp and eating, New Year's Day, I should specify.
Pirates remind me of that nauseating movie The Island.
Singing in shower at full voice is a weekend joy. Don't do it at 0530, half awake at best, and D still sleeping.
Pockets in everything. Women's clothes need more pockets. I wear mens swim trunks with a swim top, just so I can have pockets.
Sheets, cool and smooth, billowing down gently.
Noisy friend, all friends.
Quiet friend, a few, but even they can get raucous with encouragement and comfort.
Shooting stars at Granny's. Then in the Badlands, sleeping out, staring up.
Song at funeral by Sacred Harp singers, wake me up if I'm not dead. Banish all chaos around for a few moments.
Waking thoughts mean reminding myself that I really do like my work, most days, most of the time. So, I should get up, now.
Been thinking about Art lately. Found my words dry up when it comes to what I consider the most genuine and powerful art. Simon Schama's Power of Art, particularly the Mark Rothko episode, points in the right direction. Still.
I knew a graphic artist, a good one, who had these same Benders on his fridge. Flat against the surface. Whereas I had instinctively posed them out from the surface, exploiting the toy's design - I thought.
All I can say about art is that, like Enlightenment, it points wordlessly toward the ineffable and transcendent, whether it is a huge awesome black canvas, a small carved flower on a door, an allegorical fresco spectacle, lovingly made quilt, marble embodiment of human yearning. All religious, or beyond such rules.
Guy Trying not to Step on Cat.
Because I was a disdained child, awkward, plain.
Dressed in homemade clothing when no one else was, but I most valued what my mother made for me. (It fit, for one thing, which most store bought clothes never did, never do.)
Poor, though I didn't feel it then.
Hiding, I did not understand why I was not admired, hating any kind of attention anyway.
I prefer sleek to fluffy.
Elegant to stylish.
Eccentric beauty to pretty.
Subtle to extravagant.
Dark to light.
Solid to flowery.
Casual to pulled-together.
Plain to elaborate.
Unadorned to made-up.
An acquired taste, not obvious, hands ready to help, nudge, or hang back.