The Whirling Fan

Don’t waste my magical writing time with nonsense.  Go to work.

It was a terrible day.  I screwed everything up. I forgot everything.  All my training evaded me.  All my plans fell to shit.  I got yelled at (or the disappointed, I told you, don’t do it again conversation with sternness enough that I am still quite quivery about the whole ordeal) and I am, ultimately, alone.

I mean, I have someone, but I can’t figure out how if this is the sort of having you have with someone who just happens to be taking the same bus you are.  A conversation that intimates nothing.  I want to know, to ask some authority, is this working or not working – what is real and what is just linguistic jiu-jitsu?  And are we all that safe either way?

Instead, I do what I do when I don’t know what to do.  I go and see my mother.  We don’t really talk about the events of the day because as soon as I come in the door after letting her know I needed to come for dinner because it had been a hard day and I had nothing really low-carb to eat, she says You Need to Be More Prepared!  And I won’t argue with the sentiment, because it’s true even if I find myself quite unable to knuckle down and open a laptop after a 10 hour day and face even one email with a questionably aggressive tone.  And they all feel a little bit aggressive these days.  Oh, gosh, it is just the wrong thing to say to a person after a day like this.

My mother.  I will not complain about her, but report this happening with more of a wry attitude rather than one of the usual frustration.   So of course, after feeding me the chicken and green chile and some jello with a heap of whipped cream and giving me her last two shakes in the whole of the world, she begins the quiz.

How long has it been for the diet?  How much weight so far? My answers: a week, and four pounds, six if you go back a bit, are satisfactory.  She gives me the rundown of how to do low-carb for the ninety-thousandth time.   This is not so much wry, is it?  I watch the news with her as we contemplate political eventualities.  I say I have to go.

She has no interest in J.  I have to bring him up if there’s to be any discussion and the discussion is more me venting about the surreal and frustrating nature of the thing.  She is both suspicious and entirely nonplussed.  Who he is and what he wants with me are of no import.  She’ll wait for me to sigh and offer something up, otherwise, it is entirely illegitimate and hell, she may be right.

Still, I leave, and the last thing I hear as I cross the threshold is “You’re getting your waist back again!”

Sigh.  I don’t know.

An Cat Dubh

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Hmmmm.

I am doing pretty okay, considering and am now trying to decide if my mouth has mutinied.  I had a discussion about my sister about jaw clenching and how I’d been feeling like I’d been doing it lately but was relaxing and it was going away.  Now the whole thing feels sore and there’s a big discomfort and pressure when I move my mouth a certain way and I feel panicked and stressed DEFCON 11.   It was demonstrably fine all day and now, oh my gosh, broken.

I have also freaked out once today that my tongue was broken so…I am kind of taking everything with a grain of salt.  Kind of.

This is, if we’re paying attention, and I am so trying to now, one of the hard places where I in the past have just thrown up my hands when facing its challenges. In this case, it’s a health thing and a money thing.  I’m freaked out because something doesn’t feel right, I’m thinking the insurance is all questionable, and I feel insecure about dealing with what I need to do to get that squared so that I can get in if it becomes essential (I’m due for my appointment in a month or so) (I think).

But I am going to see what I can do about that.   I am at least going to give them a proper going-over with the toothbrush and letting myself relax where I can.

Tonight, I’ve actually gotten some cleaning done.  Got my desk cleared off and cleaned up.  This has been a task I needed to do, but also, it’s me wanting to not think about our dear sweet Madi (I think of it as spelled Maddie, but I have long since been overruled on this point and she was not, in the final analysis, my cat.)   We had to put her to sleep today.  My sister nursed that poor thing in the last few months of her life when a throat tumor at 16 overwhelmed the little thing.  She was small, even on kitty cat terms, having been feral and trapped in a trailer in Oklahoma before turning up in a cat rescue where our friend worked.  We were visiting her and, if I recall, going to A-Kon in Dallas for my sister and her friend to appreciate anime and for me to go any new place I hadn’t been before.  On the way back, we or…perhaps, I, was not planning on having any unexpected travelling companions.  My sister decided to bring home this black cat who had been at the cat rescue for two years.  I thought there had to be something wrong with her if nobody wanted her and wasn’t clear on why we should be the people to change that.  I remember being faintly testy about the whole arrangement, while my sister was totally clear.

But still, there she was, in the back in a cat carrier, crying in a desperate, mechanical music box voice as we drove under a billowing storm somewhere around Limon.  I was studying Gaelic at the time.  Half-studying, a dilettante, really.  As a means of distraction against the idea that we might all be blown to bits in some unforeseen tornado, we were tossing around names for this displeased creature.  I said madra was Irish for cat so we could call her that and shorten it to Maddie.  Turns out, with the sort of check that Google would have taken care of were we getting her today, that madra means dog.  And cat’s just cat, pronounced with a lovely Irish inflection.

But things stuck.  The cat stuck.  And she became a loyal, pleasant, jealous, good little house cat.  She didn’t want anything, but to be loved and so she was.  Until we had to say goodbye.

So today had that rough bit in it.  But we knew it had to happen, and so, here we are.  I feel the energy gone in the house, the change.  There’s just the one cat, my Lilybean, remaining.  I feel there was a gift in the compassion and love she engendered in us, and now in the psychic space that has been stretched wider as she’s gone.

More to say, but we’ll find a way to say it later.

 

Put Words To It

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I dreamed last night I lived in Detroit and I dreamed last night, in the same dream, but separately that I escaped from a frightening Arby’s into a haunted house ride.

De-troit.  Dee-troit.  De-nver.

Did we want dessert?  At this dark, shadowy, film noir fast food restaurant, I wanted dessert, but it was so sweet…just frosted everything, like Cinnabon times a thousand and there was thunder and lightning clashing and crashing overhead so I gave up on that thought and found myself in this sort of open-concept haunted house ride.

It had various physical obstacles (ala Nickelodeon’s GUTS when I was a kid).  One of which was some sort of tunnel covered in snow.   This was entirely indoors as the lights flashed on and off in a way that mimicked the earlier lightning.

After crawling through the fake snow with fake, but still functional bits of broken barbed wire in it – caltrops, I guess, I arrived at a floating bar on the wall.  It was hidden, except to me, behind a painting.

Somehow I rode this elevator bar up as though I were Mario and realized, with real dream astonishment, that there was a hidden room upstairs.  I half-registered that this was where they must keep the props and half-believed it was exactly as it seemed, a haunted library. Immediately, I thought I needed to take something with me, that something here was mine.  There was a thin book, with gold-gilded pages, some of which seemed missing.  It had a long title and a latch like a diary.  I had to hide the book in my shirt.

I woke up when I took the floating elevator back down stairs and all of the lights were on, they said it was two years later and I was confused, but knew I still had to hide the book.  It was about 12:30 in the afternoon.  I…don’t know anything more except I needed that time.  That stillness, that struggle within relaxation.

I did get up, and we got over to my parents where…the stillness, oddly enough, somehow continued.   My mother had made BBQ ribs.  I ate myself full and then we worked on another puzzle, which seems to be a major form of comfort to all of us.  For that flowing in and out, to work on the project together.  It makes her happy and I sat there with an ice cream cone thinking to myself, but mostly not thinking because reality is the whole of the world on my shoulders.

Then, my father appeared with a check for $500.00.  I told him I didn’t want it.   Even after all of the Amanda Palmer and taking the doughnuts and accepting help when someone is able and wants to help you, oh, that felt like we were all agreeing that things have gone wrong somewhere somehow.  And I was just hoping to keep on pretending otherwise, in perpetuity.   He gave it to my sister to make me take it – it’s for both of us in that it will let me get things paid so I don’t have to lean on her.  But, wow.   The emotion that I feel attached to that.  I don’t want to be in this position.  I don’t want to be vulnerable like this.

But I am also…grateful.  Grateful that marching towards the abyss means having to pass through so many barriers and so many people reaching out their arms to me.  I mean, there are those in this world that don’t have the resources I have.

Trying to show that gratefulness by taking care of some stuff, getting myself more square, being active in the ways that I can that will improve the situation.  If only allowing me to be more creative and less bogged down with stress in my physical surroundings.

I have an idea for a post now, but it’s late so.  Yeah.

After all of this, I put on Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans.  Nobody seemed to find it as exquisite as I did, but my mother did watch along, riffing, laughing.  I didn’t mind because she was amused in one way or another.  They all said “Oh, it’s just one of her movies.”  In a gentle poke sort of way that, at one time, would have depressed me.  “She just walks to the beat of her own drum.”

I think, in some ways, that’s true.  A silent movie.

I wanted to touch the hard places, to get in there and understand why things are the way they are with me.  Things like the driving and doctor anxiety, the things I’m so unwilling to talk about like sex and love and romance and intimacy but that are so constantly on my mind, body image and weight and perfectionism and what it will take to be in a place where I can just write, be it for a living or for myself, and not get hung up on these other issues and stop in my tracks.

This is a piece.  I want to turn away.  I want to ignore it.  It’s been so many years of ignoring it.  I have to forge forward.  I have to go to the gangrene and the rot and pull things up.  Go down to the foundations and build it anew.

It is okay to have this money.  It’s not okay to pretend that things are going to improve via magical thinking or that I’m satisfied with where things are.  I’m not.  Not yet.  It’s in writing.  I need to know.

Even in the face of my sincere gratitude, I am willing to face this superego and say that I want more.

Track and Field

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I want to get past the cycle I am in.  I want to find every sore spot and work it out of me.  To improve.  To unshackle. To do this means going through hard things I have always avoided.  I don’t ever go through hard things.  And yet.

When I sat down with my cousin at lunch today, I had specifically told myself we would not discuss which was most readily on my mind.  We have come to be able to talk about anything, just about, and yet, I systematically rejected the idea of talking about the message my sister had just sent me on Facebook.  There wasn’t a need, internally, to qualify why.  We just weren’t going to do that.

So, naturally, naturally, one of the first things that extemporaneously is expressed out was how I felt about this message.

I know my sister will read this.  If not tonight, then some point relatively soon.  I thought sincerely about writing something else or even possibly not posting at all.  But, that’s a whole part of this and maybe the organization of what I need to express is not the entirety of what I have to do…maybe I have to actually let it be read.

She sent me a message that was about a CD that she’s been looking for for a long time and which she found in my room.  The details beyond that are not so important, but suffice to say, at some point I took it and ripped the songs off of it and carelessly tossed it somewhere and forgot about it.  Like I do with about 90% of the things I own.  She was, in a way she very rarely is, mad with me.  Like MAD.  And a bit mean in letting me know.

However, in reading this message, I was aware that oh, sure, maybe I did have it.  And then, my whole body reacted to the ego shielding itself.  If she was mad, well, I was mad back because of all the things I’m going through and I have to…and I am…and how dare and…it was so many other half-started insistences rather than to get to the truth.  Yes, I think I took the CD and I had forgotten I had it and when questioned, I said no out of hand.  Just capitulating to the truth when there was negative emotion to follow it, felt and feels so impossible.  A path we can’t take.  But the why?

I know this matters to her.  I know that.  I said, I don’t know why it doesn’t absorb for me.  I don’t know why.  I don’t listen.  I am very much concerned by the way I am concerned about myself.  That perhaps there is this Void in me of loneliness that I am devoted to worshipping and it has made me really challenged at just being in the world with the people around me.  Also, if there’s going to be a fight, I just

In talking with my cousin, she talked about me being a person who derives worth from primarily from people.  My sister from process.  The other option is performance which is occasionally on the table, too.  Our values are inherently different. For me, while the importance of the CD is not something I can get my brain around…there is a reason I’ve yet to discover that I need to discover that these things I own literally do not matter to me.  The idea of them does, but not the actual things.  While being called an empath sarcastically feels like a hugely painful dig.  In that I feel discomfort, in that I feel recoil, in that I feel hurt and defensive and I obliterate the fact that I did something wrong.  That’s the thing about knowing someone as a sister knows a sister – you know the places that are tender and when you’re upset, those are the places you kick.

I did something wrong.  I screwed up.  And I get more and more separation and protection and relief from assuring myself that’s not the case rather than biting the bullet and saying it.  It is a mountain rather than a molehill.  I am aware of at least that much.

After talking about many things about modeling conflict resolution and She was starting to tell me about being gentler with myself and I had to reaffirm that I think I am too gentle, and what saves me, what actually helps me is the rare occasions that I go to the hard places. That I experience vulnerability and discomfort.

By way of explanation, I had the example of going to the bank today to get money for lunch.  I told myself, just ask for your balance, just ask for your balance.  The teller was in and out and she gave me my cash and said have a good weekend and I drove off, knowing I hadn’t done it. I was so frustrated with myself and I thought that was just because I was trying to be accommodating to the busy teller and get myself out of her way when if I sat in that moment for just half a second longer, there was a larger truth that I felt ashamed of how little money I have right now.  I don’t want to know my balance.  I don’t want to feel stressed and so I didn’t ask.  It was my choice not to go into the painful truth.  But from the outside, oh, busy teller and me, I’m just a failure who can’t even ask for the things she wants.  It adds to this whole myth of impotence.

Like maybe if I could sit and think about why I have such a disinterest in caring for the things I own I could root out where the impulse comes from.  There could be progress.

We started talking about Buddhist monk Pema Chodron and the Courage to Choose Something Different.  It being one of the Three Difficult Practices.  I can get the awareness bit, sometimes, which is the First Difficult Practice…but choosing not to do what I always do which cements the pain and exacerbates it…but to change the reaction.

After all of this, a customer at work today – maybe all of four foot tall and traveling with her two sisters to spread her father’s ashes – was quiet after I told her ponytail was sassy.  She said, insistently, knowingly. “You’re the kind of person who will just say anything.  I’m old, so I see how you are.”

Cut me to the core, but I asserted myself…”I think I’m bold enough to say what I think, and I think your ponytail is sassy.”  There was so much laughing and talking that I don’t think she even heard me.

So I apologized to my sister.  I wanted to have this whole conversation about all of the above, but after this long day at work, I didn’t want to tear myself apart.  I don’t think I knew all of this then.

I still should have, though, so I guess this is what I am trying to do now.

Time is a healer, just not yet

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So I kind of fucked up my attempt at assertiveness – mainly by trying to see what my mom wanted before telling the sister to calm her bossy boots down and my mom was all, why are you asking, why what, it wasn’t a big deal? And then it sort of became a tiny bit of a deal.  She did wonder why I didn’t come over and she was a bit lonely with my dad working four days in a row, but she didn’t call me or tell me that.  I said she had to promise to call me if she was lonely and this suddenly had aspects of burdening her with having to explain what she was feeling.

But it’s not.  The lyric goes, if you call, I’ll come running to see you again.  Not if you have any sort of negative emotion, my telepathy will ping and I will teleport/time travel to you so that you never have to feel it in the first place.  More tuneful, too.

But I basically ended up sending a facebook message to the sister back that said I was doing the best I can, I’ve been over a lot, I’m going to be back over a lot, and that’s all I care to say about it.  And there’s been no reply as of yet.  SO, somehow, I am certain, the wrong person has been told the wrong thing and someone’s back is up and I…am sorry for that.  I’m sorry that my mom did, for a few moments, feel lonely.  But it doesn’t change, for a moment, the fact that I am just trying to live and do and serve my many mistresses without malice.

I have had feelings about this that have been subsumed under other feelings and other tasks.  This is how life goes.

Today, I got home, put a pizza in the oven, wondered why I wasn’t suddenly making all these massive changes I could be making for half a second, and then watched women’s indoor volleyball and then…saw a film on TV that caught my eye.  I know now that it was Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?

It caught my ear more than my eye as the film was absolutely drab and the film quality was dated and aged and didn’t look meant to be shown on high-def tvs, but quotes were essential.  Without a time nor place to be bound to, these were top-level truisms.

“Time, mister, it’s not a thief. It’s an embezzler staying up nights, and juggling the books so you don’t notice anything missing when you wake up.”

It’s really amazing.

You should just watch this part.  Maybe you’d get something out of it, too.

Now a hundred words to say that I am playing Skyrim.  I’ve had it for a couple years, but it’s so NOT Dragon Age and that made it pretty impossible to enjoy.  However, I think I might kind of like it.  In a backwards, goofy sort of way.  A hundred words to say that I take a deep breath and I deflate.  That I read it everyday, every single day – what we wrote together.  That’s pointless, but it’s pleasurable so I do it.  I hit these buttons one right after the other so the draft never gets in so long as I never stop.

For Those Who Know Better

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I just have to vent.  I have to do my five hundred words, too, so it may as well be a two birds, one stone shot at the heavens.

I am irritated because of a facebook message I just received and this is how I want to reply, but probably won’t because I am sane and want to keep things not about me and sending this screed in response will do nothing but inflame a situation.

The message was essentially to browbeat me for not coming over and seeing my mother today.  The day that the sister came home from her whirlwind tour of New York and someone’s wedding in her boyfriends’ family.  Apparently, I had been “paid” in her forgiving debts about our trip to Minnesota for my grandfather’s funeral by promising to spend every waking moment staring at my mother.

I didn’t do that.  I did what my mother wanted and flowed in and out as much as I could.  And the reason I couldn’t be sitting there watching TV next to her all the livelong day is because I am struggling as fuck right now to get my bills paid and to get myself in one piece and so I have to work six days a week, many of those on my feet, already knowing that it isn’t enough anyway.  So when I turn up at my mom’s I am checking in, I am actively doing my best to turn off all of the shit I’m worrying about for me and to be present. I am asking her what is happening, I am listening as best I can and then I have to go.  And after seeing her yesterday, after doing all of that, I just wanted to do these things I’ve been thinking about doing for weeks.

So this condescension that is dripping off this message…this idea that I blew off my mom and her CANCER is so goddamned frustrating.  That she’s responsible for my mother’s emotions now and I am this massive jerk.  All because she hadn’t been home for five minutes before she decided my mom was lonely today and I needed to feel shitty about that.  Because she made slumgullion and we didn’t come over to eat it?  My mom was capable of calling me to check in – we are capable of coming over tomorrow and eating it in the afternoon.  I told her I wasn’t coming over! She said, oh, that’s fine! I had house stuff to do and I have been doing it, but apparently, we’re just going to disregard all of that and focus on the fact that my sister wants to control everything.

I have been there, I will be there, and I am tired.  I am strong, but I just wanted one goddamned day to sleep in and fold clothes and play video games – and I had one, knowing from YESTERDAY MORNING that my mom was okay.  My mom, who has always been a private person and is capable of being alone for 24 hours with her HUSBAND to look after her, was not going to die without me watching HGTV with her.  I’m happy to do that.  I like to do that.  I have done and will do that.  I didn’t do it today.

But the fact that she upended her whole life to be at home isn’t going to change one cancer cell.  I’m just trying to get by right now, same as everyone else and I have devoted so much of myself to this family, to this sister and it was meaningless.  It wasn’t needed or helpful.  I have to look after me and the shit that is challenging and scaring me – part of that is my feelings about my mom, which are big and absorbing and overwhelming and real – but this is a long, long, long road and I can’t do it the way she insists it has to be done.

JUST STOP IT GODDAMNIT.

100 Proof

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It’s getting to the point where I need a food change.  Where the food that is supposed to get me through is tasting gross and slowing my system.  It’s adding to my stress.  I’ve got a few plans cooking that start on Sunday afternoon, but I don’t know if that should also be one of them.  Maybe it would just be okay to force down a salad.  Fake it until you make it?

As I was pulling into the parking lot, we got a text about the cat.  She had gone missing.  She’s a cat that was found on the railroad tracks, a ball of fur and vinegar who by some good grace was put in our path, we of a cat-loving nature.  I can’t say that she’d have had an easier life with anyone else in charge of her comings and goings.  Chessie, the railroad kitten, was at my parents’ house and my father was the one texting.  Then came the sister’s facebook message.  Okay, I said to myself after reading it, okay.  I don’t know if I meant it, but I said okay.   She’s not my cat, but the idea of her lost out there on the mean streets of idyllic, sunset suburbia isn’t great to have to ponder.

It has been a long day of striving again, of being relieved and then sucker punched, relieved, sucker punched.  I’ve heard about Nice, but only tangentially, only in headlines.  I feel like I’m only capable of processing headlines, even if they’re the most stringent and dangerous part of the news.  A distillation, 100 proof.  And I’ve been so drunk on it lately, bashed about with the ceiling for the floor and the floor for the ceiling with fucking shitty news.  Every generation has its paranoia, every generation peering down on the next thinks it’s the end of civilization as we know it, but the truth of it is that eventually one of them will be right. You can read that a crazy fanatic person filled with hate drove into a crowd of celebrating people and your eyes can slowly close to let the picture come in, fuzzy and without sound effects, only a soundtrack that is just this song.

The song ends and you can open your eyes, feel your own body against the familiar air, the familiar ground, the familiar impulse to live.  Say Okay.  Nobody thinks you mean it.

Tomorrow is my mom’s next appointment.  An appointment where they are to explain options and status and treatment.  Okay, I say, without meaning it at all.  Okay. Let me know.

Not an hour later, the message comes through on all fronts.  The cat’s been found.  Was just hiding from the dog, her enemy and was just biding her time and sleeping.  Was surprised that there was a hubbub and secretly pleased.  She looks at you, a ball of fur and Okay.  She wouldn’t know to be otherwise.

Do have my good wishes.