Then, probably

And now we pause for a poem created from spam. I have altered nothing but the line breaks.

 

Then, probably

telephone.

It is much like face-to-face

minus the visual

aspect, you can control

the environment,

and can identify

the receiver

by angle.

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The Magic of Not Hating Humanity

So, I’ve completely drunk the Marie Kondo  Kool Aid. I think she’s a little crazy and a lot of her ideas wouldn’t work in the U.S. but her basic premise is a good one. Her philosophy is solid. We really SHOULD surround ourselves with only the things that spark joy, with only the things that we need. Says the woman with a shelf full of Costco toilet paper and tissues.

She doesn’t touch much on how to do this tidying when you share a house with kids who just by their very existence make messes. Or spread their playthings all over creation. So, not every corner of the house can be touched by her magic wand. Yet.

During the week-long snow “holiday”, when I wasn’t working, I tidied the shit out of certain areas. I posted a couple items for sale and two sold immediately. I took a beloved but neglected collectible doll to a doll store and sold her. If you love it, set it free.

Kondo states that there are two reasons we have trouble getting rid of things: we either have an attachment to the past or a fear for the future. We either have a strong nostalgic pull for something we really don’t need anymore or we fear that if we get rid of it, we’ll need it. You know how that goes. But I’m defending my stock pile of toilet paper because I have kids and we go through a lot and even though it takes up space in the closet, making that one trip every three months is better than buying it continually. I’m American. I stock pile.

So, even though I loved that doll, my kids had no interest in her. They never played with this doll much and won’t miss it. I might, a little, but she needed to be rehomed and loved by someone else. In the Kondo way, I thanked her for being my doll for 40 years and for the moments of happiness she gave me when I was a child.

Then I posted another item on local FB yard sale pages and OMFG. I nearly went crazy trying to get rid of it. It’s a chest. In perfect condition. I priced it to move. It took 5 tries to sell it and in the end, I nearly died from second hand smoke asphyxiation.

First up was The Flake. She really, really, really wanted it and called me on the phone and went on and on about how she had to have it and was coming by the next night and was not one of those flakes who say they want something and then disappear. Well, the weather was looking a bit iffy but nothing had fallen out of the sky yet. She decided to wait until things cleared up. Once my driveway was cleared, a few days later, I called and messaged her and….guess what? She vanished! In the meantime, people were commenting “me next!”

On to #2, Ms On My Own Schedule. She wanted to come by Saturday morning. Okay, what time? She didn’t know. She needed to go to the dump. Then she’d know. Well, okay, but I also have plans and I could meet her at this place around this time. She didn’t know when she’d be leaving her house. Well…..maybe she could figure that out? I would be going into town in the afternoon. No reply. Okay, I’m going to get groceries. I’ll be home between 12 and 2. No answer. No answer. No answer. Fuck it. Next!

On to #3. Ms Tough Day. I’d just sold her something and the transaction went flawlessly. Thought I could trust that this would happen again. She was going to come by after work. But nope! Kids had a tough day. She’d have to pass. Sigh.

On to #4. Ms Bait and Switch. She had to have it and when could we meet? She could meet me in town. Okay, great. I could meet her at X before 8:30. Okay, she would meet me at Y at 8:20. Well, but I can’t guarantee I could be there at exactly 8:20 because of buses, traffic, trains, etc. but I’d do my best. Would I take a check? SIGH. Sure. I didn’t really want to but I really wanted to get rid of this thing. I’d already put it in the car for Tough Day. B&S comes back and says do I want to trade it for her son’s DS Lite? Seriously? I don’t answer. I’m a little taken aback. I didn’t post the chest on Local Barter Page. I go do things I need to do. She wants to know do we have a deal. No. We don’t. And actually I’d prefer cash. Because by now, I no longer trust her. Well sorry she can’t get to the bank before 8:20, etc. And I guess it never occurred to her that I could meet her later in the day. It’s not really my problem that she wants a thing but doesn’t have cash. I’m making myself available to her but I don’t want a DS. We HAVE a DS. I’m trying to sell things. For money. Well that fizzles out. Fine.

By morning, I’m pretty much done with humanity.

On to #5. Almost Not Worth It. Almost and I went round and round about when and where to meet. I had the damn thing in my car still. Maybe Almost could meet me near work and come get it. Almost wanted it but was working (like I’m not) and went off to see if his/her mother could meet me somewhere. Time was ticking away. I had another appointment soon. Almost came back. Could I drop it off at grandma’s? Who lives nearby? Gah. Really? Sure. Whatever. I’ll take it to grandma’s. Since it’s close. Thanks!

The other shoe drops: would I take $20? Instead of $25? Are. You. Kidding. Me. No. $25. I’m delivering it to your grandma, after all. I drive to grandma’s house and I can already smell the cigarette smoke leaking out of the house before the front door is even open. I hoist the chest out of my car and wait to see if she’ll at least hold the door open for me while a thick plume of smoke roils out like a dragon lives inside. She kind of does. I deposit the chest, she hands over the money (some in quarters) and I escape. I now smell like smoke. My hair, my coat, my pants. I need a shower. I was only over the threshold for seconds and now I’m dead.

Not sure any of it was worth it but the item is no longer in the house and I’m that much closer to affording Dusty’s band trip to Busch Gardens. Jesus. Christ.

So, there are fewer things in the house, things I neither have a strong sentimental attachment to nor a fear of not having in the future. I still have tons more things to off load and a closet to finish tidying and a shrine to build on a bookshelf but I feel lighter. I’ve also decided that I need to paint over the red wall in my bedroom. I need the whole room grey. The energy’s just wrong. When I’ll get that done, I don’t know.

And of course, it’s snowing again and we’re all home again and winter is now officially endless even if February isn’t. But at least I’m figuring out what sparks joy in my house, right?

Thoughts Spread Like Cards Across the Table

I have officially finished The Artist’s Way for the second and a half time (I made a stab at it once, long ago, but wasn’t ready). It took four months instead of three and a lot has changed since October. Things have fallen away and other things have emerged. Good and wonderful things happened. Sad and frustrating things occurred. As you’d expect when you go on a journey to rectify your creative life and rediscover your true self.

I’ve already mentioned some of the things that went away, the disappointments, the hurt – all to be expected when you’re reestablishing who you are. That’s just how it is. The scary thing is not knowing what you’ll lose and fearing it’s the thing you least want to lose and then…when it does go away, you realize it’s as it should be. It was thing holding you back all along. So there are fewer naysayers around me these days.

Instead, I have a deck of cards that I’ve shuffled and here they are laid out on the table like a tarot spread:

1. Writing. I reached 103 pages of the new story and got to a point today where I could see a glimpse of the structure, the plot, the arc, the point of it all. I’m keeping going without thinking too hard about it because I don’t want to ruin the momentum. But I’m back doing what I need to do. And it’s a fabulous feeling.

2. Body. I’m losing weight though I miss the things I’m not allowing myself to have. Otherwise, I won’t reach my goal and I’ll be horribly disappointed in myself. Eyes on the prize. It’s too fucking cold to do as much walking as I’d like but I have a pedometer (thanks, work-based wellness program!) and I’m tracking my paltry steps and hoping to increase them when it warms up.

3. Writing, part two. I’m now firmly in the habit of writing every morning – my morning pages. I write stupid shit, what I need to do, who’s annoying the crap out of me, blabbing nonsense for three pages but I’m doing it. It’s huge for me to stick to something like that. I was never a journal writer. I even took a short piece of blabbing I wrote for a class and posted it on the teacher’s new awesome website which is all about people writing for 10 minutes, about vulnerability and being imperfect humans. It’s wonderful. I feel unworthy of it though I know that’s the opposite of the point. I still can’t help it.

4. Dating. Have a second date scheduled for tomorrow but I’ve officially suspended my account on the dating site. I have come to realize that I just don’t have enough time available for these short-attention span men who have way more time on their hands than I do. So, I’m giving that up until I decide to reactivate it. Funny how it got old really quick. But I’m not sorry I did it. It helped me figure out what I actually want and what I don’t. And I am just not ready to give up the time I have to chatting with men who stop chatting back. And blocking the creeps. That’s practically a full time job in itself.

5. Vacations, money, taxes. Despite a shocking not good change in my tax situation, I went ahead and rented a beach house. Because fuck it. We won’t be traveling anywhere else any time soon but we’re damn sure going to the beach. Flat broke but going to the beach. I’ll just have to ignore all the news and posts about other people going  to exotic, fun places. We’ll be right here, going nowhere. Once I’m done paying for after-school care (JUNE), things should look brighter but I’m told that I not only need to upgrade my phone already but that someone who may or may not be 14 needs one too because apparently she’s the last person on the planet her age who doesn’t have an iphone. Like they grown on trees. I don’t know where people get the money for these things. If you will let me in on your secret, I’d appreciate it. I guess my kitchen floor will never get replaced. I wonder if there’s a dishwasher app on the iphone? I could wave it over my dishes and they’d miraculously clean themselves. That’d be worth paying money I don’t have for.

That was all supposed to be good stuff so just focus on BEACH and ignore the rest of my bitching.

6. Other things. I’m still purging closets and drawers of unneccesary things. I’m working on a silly quilt made from old Bowie t-shirts. I took a break from sewing but I think I’ll get back to it soon. I’m gathering stuff to sell at the school yard sale. I’m killing stink bugs and sleeping well (though still not long enough). I’m working on relaxing and not feeling the need to do everything all the time. I’m ignoring Valentine’s Day and my mother’s emails about Easter. I wish I could say I will be out of town that weekend and have it be true. I wish I had a cabin in the woods I could run off to when need be. As it is, I’m probably going to just say, point blank, I am not available for a holiday we don’t even really celebrate and deal with the consequences. Because it’s soul killing and I’m tired of doing a thing I hate just because it’s always been done. That needs to stop. That plug needs to be pulled out of the tub. That…is the joker. The card you only leave in for certain card games, the one you pull out and then lose under the sofa.

What I’ve learned since October is that when something’s gotta give, you gotta let it go. Shuffle those cards, minus the joker, and let’s see what new hands we’re dealt, shall we?

She’s Leaving Home….

I was watching Dreamgirls on Friday night. There’s a five second bit….part of a montage that moves the plot along….where Deena (Beyoncé) is leaving home to be a back up singer for James Early (Eddie Murphy). She places a note on the table beside her mother who is sleeping on the couch, waiting up for her.

I’ve always rooted for the leaver. I’ve always sided with the one who knows what she wants (even when she actually doesn’t want what she thinks she wants) and makes the big move. (“She’s leaving home, bye bye!”) And I still am. But I realized when I saw that, that I’m now, in reality, the leavee. Potential leavee. I’m now the mother sleeping on the couch waiting for a daughter to come home. Not that anyone’s sneaking out right now. But somewhere along the way, the universe flipped on me and I’m the mom character. I can’t ever be the daughter character again (Unless it’s the grown daughter caught between her own mother and her young daughter). And a part of me has known that for awhile. All the actresses around my age (Jodie Foster, Diane Lane, Tatum O’Neal, etc), who I’ve watched grow up with me…they’ve been playing mothers for a while. So, I don’t know why I’m just now realizing this. Denial. You know it; I know it.

But there was something about that note leaving, that sneaking off to seek fame and fortune, that leaving the security and comfort of home – home that that mother provided – that hit me in a place that is sore now, if I touch it. A vulnerable spot kinda located underneath my ribcage.

This whole passing of time kind of sucks because even though you’re there for every single second of it, every tick of the second hand moving around the clock dial, you only really notice the passage in big lurches. They’re marked out by events – first this, last that, report cards, drastic hair cuts, dances, graduations.

I’ve got a form in front of me, that I’ve been carrying around for a week, that I need to fill out. I have to write a dedication for Red’s final elementary yearbook. In a few months, she’ll be off to middle school. I have to somehow come up with something to say. I have to find the right baby photo and stick $5 in an envelope. How many more years before she’s leaving me that note? Five? Eight? Hopefully never. Hopefully, she’ll tell me before hand and I can help her pack. Not that I want her to go but….well, you have to let them go eventually. Unless she’s actually serious about being a professional crazy cat lady. In which case, we probably need to have a couple of conversations. Very soon.

And Dusty’s champing at bit to go to high school. We have a couple more weeks before we find out where she’ll be going but either way, she’s golden. She was born in the year of the Golden Dragon making her especially lucky. This has so far turned out to be the case. So, if she gets into the high school we’re crossing our fingers for, I might be seeing a whole lot less of her. No notes will be left but maybe I’ll get emails. Maybe texts.

Either way, if I can no longer be the girl with dreams leaving the note in the middle of the night, I don’t want to be the mother caught off-guard. I don’t like those kind of surprises.

What It Is

I talked to a friend tonight. We concluded that real friends were hard to find. So, the ones we had, the ones who truly had our backs…those were worth hanging on to. The rest could kiss our asses. We hadn’t talked in a while. I told her about the one who’d broken my heart and she told me about the ones who’d left her high and dry and that, yes, if the people who might want to hire her called me, I’d give her a good reference. Because she was a great boss. I look back on all my shitty disappointing jobs and realize that with most of them, I’d ended up keeping my bosses as friends. I still think that’s weird and it probably won’t happen with my current job because my current boss tends to overlook me and doesn’t really get me, but for all the past ones, I’ve ended up being friends with them.

I was talking with a co-worker this afternoon. She was waiting for a donor to show up and hung out in my doorway. We talk about “our tribe” which I’m convinced does not exist in my current working world. But she might be as close to a tribe as I get here. She’s a bit flaky and my boss is convinced she gets away with murder but the donors love her. She’s smart and too good for this place. We connect. It’s really all I can hope for, that connection. She has two very young children and it’s weird to be in a place where I see my former self in her being envious of the now-me in my post-divorce place, with my child-free weekends doing whatever the hell I want.

I listened for a bit to a recent This American Life about William S. Burroughs narrated by Iggy Pop (!! I KNOW, RIGHT?!) and had to shut it down because I was asked to find the board of directors of a corporate foundation which made me sad but also made me happy – they need me! Except it was 10 minutes before going-home time. As always. And I had to close Iggy Pop out. Click off that window and move on to my paying job. On a Friday at 4:47pm. On a day when I’d  go home to nothing. To an empty house. Which I don’t mind as long as it’s every other weekend. As long as it’s not all the time.

I don’t know what the purpose of writing this was. But I had connected, in my conversation and then listening to Iggy Pop, to something that was my tribe. Was me. My authentic self. For just a moment. And then was jarred by the Tasks That Need Doing. Which is the story of my life.

A few people hate me. One has gone to great lengths to remove me from her existence. I don’t think I’m such a terrible person I need to be served a restraining order. Not that it’s come to that but it wouldn’t surprise me. My friend, the one I talked to tonight, while I was half drunk and eating baked beans out of the sauce pan with tortilla chips, she understood. My ex-boss. She mentioned former friends who avoided her in the grocery store after she had to leave her husband. We can’t please the crazy. We can’t please the sad and angry, the people who can’t face their own shame and unhappiness. We have to band together. We have to love each other. Of course I’ll give her a good recommendation when the people call that want to offer her a job far away that she deserves but will send her away me. Of course I will. Because I love her. I understand. I’m a good friend. I always will be. But if she gets that job, I’ll miss her. Another person doing what they need to do. I will admit to a bit of jealousy. I have another decade before I can pull up stakes and go where ever I want to.

We discussed men and the lack of good ones. I mentioned that I’m already done with the dating universe and have only just started. I might have a date next week with a man who is only close by every 10 days. That works for me. I have come to realize that most men on dating sites are just too pathetic to bother with. Or they have reached a point in their lives where they have free time and because I don’t, have no use for me. I’ve discovered that my free time is too precious to squander on dumbasses. I’m closing in on 100 pages of new writing. This is big. This is important. I need to focus on what I need to accomplish. I need to focus on writing and sleeping late on weekends and spending time on people who are good and kind to me.

To hell with the rest of them.

Greyish Gardens

I had plans to do a little walking today. Not anything crazy but maybe up to the public library and back over to the campus library. I’ve got this new pedometer – via a wellness thing at work – and my steps so far are pathetic. Granted, I’ve had a cold and spent a couple of days moving from bed to chair to couch, but still. It’s an embarrassingly low number of steps. I did better yesterday when our plans changed and I took the girls to the mall. They needed clothes. And shoes. Their feet are enormous but may have finally stopped growing. Red couldn’t decide between the large array of ugly tennis shoes and left, instead, with 5 billion striped shirts.

The mall was nearly empty thanks to the national sporting event we don’t watch and the weather was chilly but not horrible. And it wasn’t raining. So, that was my exercise. We walked and walked and purchased.

Today, though…..I’m betting that whistle pig didn’t see his shadow because the whole world outside is nothing but shadow. Grey on white on grey. With a layer of rain on top.

That’s the thing about winter: it’s colorless. There’s a tinge of green where grass usually grows but even most of that around here is the kind that dies back in the winter. Like my soul, my hope.

January was two months long and February will probably feel longer.

I’ve been chatting with two new guys though one of them abruptly disappeared Friday night after asking what I was doing this past weekend and I told him. So….okay. Am I boring? I’m a mom. It’s a kid weekend. We’re doing stuff. I’m beginning to wonder if everything men write is code for something I don’t understand. I’m not sure what they are expecting from me. Or did he suddenly collapse? His computer exploded? He was kidnapped? I don’t know. But I also don’t think he’s anyone I want to concern myself with.

I can tell you that a) I am WYSIWYG. I don’t bat my eyelashes and don’t have time or inclination for flirting, b) when I’m with my kids, I’m with my kids, c) I don’t like to talk on the phone and excessive chatting by way of text, email, etc., is not my thing either. I don’t have time for that. I’m not married to my device, d) I am busy. I have a life. A life that comes before whatever it is you want or expect from me.

So, maybe I’m not all that interested in dating at the moment. I really don’t have a lot of free time and I’ve discovered that the free time I have, I really don’t want to give it away to strangers. I’m growing very protective of it.

That said, I have exchanged numbers with one man (he gave me his first) and we have had a conversation on the phone (he called me, of course) and texted and we’ll probably meet irl soon. He splits his time between VA and Syracuse. He’s a radiologist with a son in college. He’s a bit too forward but in fairness, I’m not inundating him with my presence. I have explained that I don’t like phones. Phone calls, unlike emailing or texting, require me to have the time and space to talk, which I don’t really have. I’m either at work or at home doing mom things. Calls require free time in which to talk. If you text me, and my phone actually has a signal, I still might not see if for a while because my phone is not attached to me. It’s usually buried in my purse with the ringer off. Because anyone who really needs to get in touch with me, knows how to do that. I don’t owe it to the world to be available 24/7.

In all fairness though, the world has changed while I was hidden away for a couple decades, raising children and removing myself from despair and I guess all these men expect potential dates to be on the same technological wave length. Even potential dates my age. If so, I might not be their girl. I might not be anyone’s girl. I’m discovering that I’m actually okay with that because the alternative is too exhausting and time consuming.

Yes, I’ll meet the radiologist. I’ll either decide he’s worth my time or he isn’t. But, after that, I might put a hold on the dating site until I finish some things I started or maybe until I’m no longer in full-time mom mode. Because I can no longer be all things to all people.