Pure As the Driven Slush: Heather Corinna's Journal and Diary, Online since 1999

Archive for the 'simple joys' Category

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Last night, we had the extreme pleasure of hanging out with a small group of people on the island at the most divine home.  It was set right on the water, with a space in the back; covered, with beautiful tufted chairs, no walls closed to the scene around.

I took a break from the group to go sit there, and quite out of nowhere — looking at the water, feeling the breeze, so happy to have been having warm days here in the Pacific Northwest where there are never enough of them for my liking — was momentarily overcome by this feeling of profound gratitude for my life.

Specifically, and without much eloquence, my feeling and thought was that this has just been one hell of a life so far, and I’m grateful for all of it.  Earnestly, all of it, including the parts of it that have been hideous, traumatic and so incredibly hard and painful. Grateful that only in the middle of my forties, it has felt so tremendously full of all there can be to living, grateful that I’ve been able to experience so much of what it is, and still be around, feeling whole and full and challenged, for sure, but not bitter or jaded or so emotionally tired form all it’s involved I’ve lost my hunger for more.

It was one of those solitary moments where so much thought and feeling and reflection is packed into such a small fragment in time, where everything just kind of comes together and makes itself clear and known. Where who you are and all your life has been unionize themselves, and become inseparable. One of those moments that sometimes you struggle to get yourself to, but which don’t tend to happen so clearly and freely with intentional effort as they do when those efforts over time stack up and then all come to fruition at once without trying, without expectation or want.

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Last night, I was finished with work, getting started on cooking dinner.

I had the 70s radio station on. I was in my bare feet with an apron layered over a long, cozy skirt, pulling my long hair into a knot to keep it out of the food.  The dogs were lazing around, being a little silly.  I was looking into the forest while I made a beautiful meal with fresh, wonderful ingredients.  I was enjoying a nice glass of wine. I was dancing around a little while I cooked, just kind of grooving out, feeling mellow and satisfied and happy with relatively simple things.  Feeling, as I often do anymore, like I’ve landed in a place and space, literally and in a larger way, in my life where I have pretty much what I need to be happy, and where what all of that is is within my reach.  In a place where thoughts of further attainment — as in, this is awesome, but I really still need that, or that’s great, but it’d be better if I had this — are often far from my mind, even though there are certainly some things that are pretty basic I remain without. In a place where what happens in downtime are things like reading a good book outside in a cozy chair, walking through the forest, hula-hooping in a wide open space, playing instruments at night, lounging in a tub until my fingers get all pruny, tending to the plants, baking delicious things, screwing, talking for hours, getting to know local characters who are as weird as I am in the few local haunts there are. I live somewhere where it’s considered a given that people share things and are kind to one another, where there are peace protests on the street even though the people standing know they’re preaching to the choir. I live somewhere where wearing mismatched socks isn’t just about not giving a crap, it’s about there being something joyful and hilarious in mismatched socks.

It then occurred to me that I had kind of lost my sense of exactly when it was, in the grander scheme of things, and in that, I realized that right now, in a whole lot of ways, I’m basically living the life my father really wanted when he was young and I was wee (soundtrack and all).  This life I have going right now is kind of his low-income aspiration to an almost-middle-income life, where basic needs are met, the luxuries are simple ones, and there’s a level of off-grid that’s still clicked in enough to avoid some major struggles. These are the kind of daydreams my father was having about his life and my life in the midst of Woodstock; the kind of respite he imagined he and I might be able to have if and when the kind of revolution he worked for and wanted — and ultimately, didn’t see happen — took hold and then settled down.

I am essentially living my father’s early 70s dream life, a life he also dreamed for me.  And it obviously was a very good dream, one would think, because I’m really loving my life this way.

Of course, when I think back to college, I realize it was my dream, too, even though it may still be one I inherited or was primed to, at least in part.  There was a while there where I was pretty dead-set on ditching the whole works and trying to buy an old school bus I figured I could somehow renovate to work just fine as a mobile home and use to find a place and a life…well, an awful lot like this one.

I really need to get him up here for a visit. Not only has it been over a year since I’ve seen him, and there’s the given that I always want to get him away from the hell that he lives in, I also want him to be able to experience this. It’s bittersweet, of course, as I know this is a life he’d still like for himself in some ways, and one I don’t have the means to provide for both of us, nor one where he feels up to the adjustment anymore.  But I figure there has to at least be something lovely and satisfying in seeing your kid living the kind of life you’ve dreamed for both of you, right?

I’m not sure, though I’m sure we’ll talk about it at some point, hopefully while taking a lovely walk here sometime soon or being delighted that you can get a $3 drink in an unpretentious pace without also having to suffer the company of racist assholes insulated by a crappy tiny place instead of a wonderful one.

But in the meantime, I’m just going to keep on relishing what I have here right now, what I’m able to be part of, and the time I can spend in this life that feels like such a beautiful dream sometimes.

Monday, April 18th, 2011

Not only am I not dead, it’s my birthday today.  And unfortunately for me, I’m sick as a dog.  Blue caught some nasty cold/flu thing last week that put him down for days and never one to want to be left out, I had to pick it up myself yesterday.

So, I can’t work, because the fever and malaise has made me stupid.  And I can’t play, because I’m not the kind of stupid that’s any kind of fun.

But I said to myself, as I was resting in the bedroom, “Self? This really is not so bad.  You’re sick, but you’re sick in this beautiful floaty-looking room with some beautiful sunlight streaming in. This bed is seriously cozy. That bagel you just ate was fresh and delicious. You don’t have the Black Plague, you’ve just got a bad cold.  And you can take a day or two off without the world coming to an end, or worrying about getting fired or winding up unable to pay for food because you got sick for a couple of days. You have a bucket of muppety-looking stuffed flowers from your sweetheart, who loves you, and would take care of you tonight if you actually would let anyone do such a thing. You can hear birds chirping (and your old cat yelling, too, but when you’re that old, you’ll probably be whining nonstop yourself). You’re just having a less-than-awesome day in what remains a presently wonderful life.”

Then I realized the light was so lovely, and I was unable to do so little else that I could at least take a few snaps to document my entry into my 41st year, despite being without a tripod right now since I misplaced the plate. And so I did. Even sick and tired both, as it turns out, I’m holding up pretty darn well for being an age I never even thought I’d reach some of the years of my life. Getting older remains more exciting than scary. I still have the freckles over my eyes I like so much, even though sunlight remains a rare commodity here in the Pacific Northwest. I like the lines I’m getting still. I heart the grey at my temples. I’m clearly getting my parental grandmother’s mustache, but that’s okay, especially since if I’m ever out of a job, maybe I can cultivate it and join the circus as the bearded lady. I look contented, how weird is that? All mighty swell.

I know, I continue to be pretty quiet over here, and I think the fact is that I learned all of my arts during crisis and turmoil. I’m one of those walking cliches who only seems to be able to really churn out the creative work when I’m unhappy or scared or in some kind of serious crisis or distress. Since I refuse to turn that situation into its own crisis, I decided a while back, when it became clear I had been happy for a good long while and it seemed to have become a trend, that I was going to just give myself whatever time I needed to get to a point where I could learn to create things when I was happy.

It’s not like I get nothing done: I put in 60 hour workweeks mostly helping other folks with their own scared/unhappy/fearful/crisis. I churn out a ton of work-work in my field just fine.  In fact, I seem to do that work far better in the space I’ve been in over the last… you know, I can’t even clock it, actually, which is kind of super-amazing. So, it’s okay if I do less creative writing, less art, less of what has most often been the way I out parts of my spiritual life and practice into tangible form.  It’s even entirely possible — and I don’t think I’m just telling myself this to rationalize it all — that I’m finally learning to make the work I’d always thought of as the least creative of everything do its own art; it’s own spiritual practice.

My days anymore go something like this: I wake up, I get some coffee, I have a smoke on the porch, maybe stretch my legs outside a bit. I listen to the sounds of the island.  I go to my desk, I get a couple hours of work in. I go outside again. I go up to the loft, do my yoga while looking out into the trees. I take a hot shower. I go outside again. Then I do another bunch of hours of work, now and then take an afternoon walk somewhere in there. My workday ends anywhere from early evening to a little later, with some hangout & a lovely dinner with my sweetheart. Then we vegetate in some way or another. Then we go to bed, and more times than not, I sleep like a baby.

On the rare days when I don’t have to do any work — though I have been doing decently at taking one day off a week — they tend to start the same, though now and then, they start with sex, which is even better. (I’m of the mind one has to start the day with something productive, after all. And yes: that totally counts.) On Saturdays, we go into town, see the farmer’s market, do our errands, sometimes take a drive somewhere lovely, which is pretty much everywhere on this island. Some days we stop by the beach, where I find too many things to bring home. Then we’ll bake or cook or make a fire, or, when the tub outside is working, have a soak or work the dirt. Blue has taken up the ukelele, so now and then we’ll both play together in our new home-only band, Tiny Instruments.Often enough, some friend or another will make a pilgrimage to come visit and we’ll spoil them to pieces because it’s fun as hell to share what we have here right now with the people we love.
I think if I hadn’t lived a life that was nothing close to so provincial up until now, I might even feel a little embarrassed at how much so mine is right now, but I’m not.  I’m constantly grateful for the peace and the solace, and the small, quiet joy that’s pretty much ever present. I never really saw anything like this coming for myself, and some days I don’t notice, but other times I’ll get whacked upside the head with the wonderful surprise of it all and remind myself not to take any of it for granted.

So, I’m sick on my birthday. Whatever. And sure, I still am way overworked and have way too much on my plate way too much of the time. So it goes. Because for the most part, I feel pretty awash in gifts pretty much all of the time, and I’m not sure what else a person can really ask for.

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

Sorry for another long silence from me, here, anyway.  I’ve not been silent anywhere else, just here.  Don’t take it personally.  Per usual, been busybusybusy with work, but also busybusybusy enjoying the time I’m not working.  Which isn’t enough, I’ll give you, but I’ll take what I can get.

I stopped by because I just had to write down something lovely that happened around a week ago here on the island, which was such an excellent representation of why I love it here so much and remain so grateful I was able to move here.

I was in the city for a visit with my sister (who moved to Seattle last year, oddly, more on that another time) and some work at the shelter. After a lovely, albeit brief, run-in with my friend Ben, met up with Blue and we headed back home on the water taxi.  We got to sit with some of his commuting friends, who were lovely and witty and wise, and when we all loaded off the water taxi, half the folks, including us, jetted it over to the bus in a rush.

So, there we are, everyone having finished their workday, tired, but still nice and chatty, something I found Seattle folks tended to lack, but island folks tend to make up for.  As the bus made its way down the length of the island, the sky started to get dark.  We were sitting near the front of the bus, where a teenage girl was also sitting.

All of a sudden, she yelled out, “Oh, wow! Look at the moon!” Before half of us could even start to do it, she was swiftly dialing friends on her cell phone to tell them, too, to look at the moon, a gorgeous, low-hanging, blazing orange harvest moon.  Everyone on the bus joined in in looking and admiring it, and for those who hadn’t heard said teenage girl, the bus driver used the intercom to advise everyone aboard to look at it.

So there we all were, moon-gazing, sky-sighing, all thanks to one of the charming, enthusiastic and kind of mystical teenagers we seem to have quite a lot of on the island, who I tend to notice other adults don’t take for granted, either.  All excitedly gazing at the beautiful moon lighting up the harbor and the rippling topography of our island.

Seriously cool stuff, that.  I grinned for days because of it.

This is a lot of what life is like for me here, save that it’s typically much more quiet.  I so appreciate the quiet and the solitude — with breaks for things like en masse moon-squealing — and the slowness.  I’m still dazed half the time just by seeing and feeling the forest and the water all around me.

It’s an interesting appreciation, too, for this time and place in my life, because it’s based both on the present and the past.  They don’t just connect each other, but my life in the past has been, I think, a big part of my enjoying my life now.  If it wasn’t for growing up in the city and being so urban for the majority of my life, I don’t think I’d appreciate being rural like this now.  If it wasn’t for such a fast and busy social pace at other times, I think the slowness and quiet now would feel boring, instead of peaceful and inspiring.  Narrowing my interpersonal relationships down is something that feels right and good, but likely in part because at other times, I’ve been so much more expansive in that area.

It’s such an exceptional and fantastic thing, loving where I am now because of where I’ve been before; not because what was before was not what I wanted, and this, instead, was, but because I’ve loved both parts and they kind of complete each other.  It’s like having had two cups for everything, where only one was filled, but the other is now also getting full.  It makes all of my parts fit together in really complimentary ways, and makes all of my journeys kind of make a lot more sense than they have before.

It is, however, also a strange thing for me to feel more quiet in my spirit and my energy.  It’s not breaking news to mention that it has been more often loud and frenetic, and also that it’s always been a challenge for me to find a quiet.  Figuring out how to balance that with the work I do, in which in so many ways, I need to still be loud, has been interesting, and an art I have yet to refine.  I’m still just starting to explore it.  I’d say it’s certainly had a notable impact on the way I’ve been working with people directly: channeling my compassion and empathy for them was always something I could do, but it’s become considerably more effortless.  It is a bit harder, I’m finding, to react and respond to anyone — in general — being really out of order or very angry or reactive, but slowing myself down to try and figure out how is easier.

I’m in the midst of some potentially major work choices and decisions, which could potentially change my life (and my org) for the serious better if all goes well, in an area I’ve never had a fast, serious-better change, ever, only slow, gradual progress.  Can’t say more than that about it for now, but this is one more way in which I’m glad I’m living here, because sorting out this decision feels like something I’m capable of doing well better here than I would have elsewhere.

Basics, I know, and little else, but, hey!  Look at the moon!

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

The last few days, work-wise have been so much less than pleasant.  And some shit has been going on that could very well become a shitstorm I get smacked in the face with, something I’m used to, but continue to find profoundly unenjoyable.

But I had a wonderful, lovely day on all counts today.  On the way home, I made a promise to myself that should any kind of shit fly, or even just anything mildly unpleasant occur tonight or in the next few days, I would let this day stay wonderful, and pull its wonderful through to at least the next few.

I also made a promise I’d come home, put on comfy clothes, pour a glass of wine, look into the forest, turn on the computer (NO email or internet checking yet) and write this day this down:

Waking up at 4:15 today wasn’t fun, but responding to a morning “I love you,” with a half-asleep response of “Love is a Battlefield,” resulted in several hilarious and uninvited humming episodes for both Blue and myself a few times today.

The sun rose pink and purple-gold over the harbor, while we drove to the ferry. The always cozy experience of ferry-riding first thing of a morning.

Discovering the bliss that is a mocha at Stumptown coffee on Capitol Hill, doubled with a surprise Mighty-O donut appearance. Checking some crappy email and doing some online work during was not as blecky as it would have been otherwise. Reading loving gratitude made it all better.

Consulting for a patient at one of the clinics I do education for who really appreciated it. Having awesome, inspiring, political conversation about reproductive health dreams and ideals with the fantastic clinic manager.

Eating a wonderful middle-eastern lunch, but that’s not all.  Tasty lunch goodness with one of my favorite friends from my whole life where we lost touch and then couldn’t find each other for over a decade, just recently discovering we were BOTH here, not in Chicago. And having lunch not only be tasted, but gleefully shrieking and hugging and everything good there is about the best kind of reunions.

I met someone on the walk to the shelter in front of a dispensary who was short on money for methadone, and also painfully overdisclosing to me to ask for a whole five bucks.  Sharing a moment when I made clear I did not have to be sold on helping, nor should anyone else who had five dollars and watching an instant burden-lifted, the kind of exchange that tends to drive most of what I value most in living.

I had a great bunch of teens today at the shelter who were awesome to do ed with and for.  After the talk, one of the teens asked to talk to me privately, and I got to have the first relaxed, normalized, non-emotional and them-specific talk about their body that intersex youth seems to have ever gotten the chance to have until today.

Coming home on the ferry on a beautiful day, sipping honeydew green tea and nibbling on licorice, sun and wind and water abound.

Arriving home to pick up the phone, and have my newly-reconnected friend tell me she was just calling me to gab, because she finally could again.

Putting on comfy clothes, pouring a glass of wine, looking into the forest and writing this own.

Whatever else may come, be it the benign and typical daily frustrations, or the semi-occasional round of giant, steaming bullshit that gets left on my porch, today was a very good day.

Monday, July 19th, 2010

Even though when I moved part of the plan was to slow things down, I’ve been busy, busy, busy lately.

Mostly, it was just a matter of timing, that a lot of things happened around the same time as the move did, and that’ll be changing very soon.  Last week, the Scarleteen boards were closed to give myself and the volunteers a break from direct service, and during their downtime, I’ve been trying to catch up on some professional writing and a whole pile of administrative work.  I have a desk full of filing and invoicing to get done today, and several email boxes that need some serious cleaning and catchup. Being able to get this kind of stuff done with very little direct service work on my own part has been a lot easier, and I need to make that happen for myself more often.  It’s just really hard to make administrative work a priority when there are young people to care for with all manner of crises.  Especially since not only are they in need, I hate the admin work, which doesn’t help.

In a couple of days, I’m going to be taking a handful of days off so that I can finish unpacking and settling in here.  Then, towards the end of August, I’m taking a full week off.  I’ve been trying to remind myself that not only do I need downtime both to be effective in my work, but to retain my sanity, and as well, I may not always be able to be my own boss like I have been and even have the ability to do that. Considering how much of my life I have been self-employed for, I’ve really kind of blown it a lot of time time.  For sure, self-employeds do tend to work even more hours than folks employed by others, but there is a flexibility we should at least take advantage of.  And yet, year after year, I go weeks without a day off wake up early every day and work into the night, even at times I a) really don’t have to and b) really am not being compensated to.  I’ve just got to get better at that.  Thankfully, moving here seems like it’s going to help.

But I didn’t stop by here to talk about work.  Well, not really.  What I wanted to talk about was trees and their work.

Everywhere I look here, there are trees.  Outside every window, lining every walk. Pacific Northwest trees aren’t the wide, bushy trees I grew up with in the midwest before so many of them started going away to make more and more room for more and more buildings.  Some of them are as tall as city blocks.

I was laying in the hammock last week, gazing up at them above me, and was struck by questions for them I get asked myself about what I do all the time. Why do you keep doing the work you do?  What if nothing huge ever comes of it? Why keep plodding on, especially at times no one seems to be recognizing how hard it is for you to do what you do or why it matters?

Obviously, I can only guess at their answers: I’m not (yet) a tree whisperer.  But when I thought about it, and just kept looking at them, it occurred to me that the trees are self-accomplished.  Certainly, there are big ecological benefits to their being here and doing what they do.  But even if there were not, you look at trees like this and it’s clear that not only are they great just in the being, do they achieve greatness just by their slow, methodical and constant growth, they achieve absolute majesty.  We’re awestruck and humbled just looking at them, trying to grasp what they are, how beautiful and amazing they are.

But I don’t think they aspire to that.  In other words, I don’t believe that greatness or majesty is their aspiration, even though both are their achievements.  Instead, it seems to me that they simply have the desire, the patience and the persistence to grow and to never stop trying to keep growing.

… and that if that’s what any of us have going on, we get the same deal.  No matter what we may or may not achieve, how long we have to plod on without what look like results to ourselves or anyone else, even on the days no one recognizes all we’ve done, we’re at greatness and majesty because we grow and refuse to stop growing.

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

There’s a woman (crowepps) who comments at RH Reality Check who I just love, love, love.  I often find myself just being so freaking glad she exists.

Today, she provided perhaps what is both a) the most honest  and b) the most comical answer to the cloying and perpetual anti-choice question I have ever read.

Q: When did your life begin?

A: When the kids went away to college and I got a divorce.

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

The other day, a friend called to catch up with me and asked how I was.

I answered her by saying that the house won’t stop falling apart on me, that I’ve been beyond overworked and am scrambling to make ends meet, that I spent a week with what undoubtedly was H1N1 that flattened me utterly, but that otherwise, I’m seriously great.

Which is true, even in that context of not-at-all-great stuff.

Sorry to have been so absent. I was first gone for a while because of taking my Staycation, which I completely enjoyed, especially since half of it involved Blue’s arrival. Being able to have real time together without seeing and feeling the sands of the hourglass dwindle to an inevitable and painful separation was amazing. Having the time and the freedom to really spend some time ushering in a life together we’ve both wanted on and off for such a long time was a very big deal and a seriously righteous gift.

Then I forced myself to go back to work again, which included a day at the youth shelter, where it was total pandemonium including a couple of the teen boys hacking up a lung in everyone’s face. Two days later, I woke up feeling a little out of sorts. Four hours after that, I passed down face first on the couch and don’t remember a damn thing that happened the next couple of days afterwards, mostly because I almost entirely slept through them. I was still sick — but much more lucid — for a few more days, but it took well over a week for me to even resemble being back to normal. I thank my lucky stars that Blue was here to be a killer nursemaid.  It’s crazy to be so sick you have no memory of whole days at a time.

After that, I not only had to try to jump back into work again, but into big-time high-gear.  I had abstracts to prepare, a presentation for medical students to prep and deliver, a book foreword to write for an anthology, several local meetings, an interview and all the usual work I already have to do. I read a bunch of libelous commentary in both a printed book and online from a religious conservative about me that made me want to get out a Ouija board, channel Jesus from the dead, and demand he go and do something about some of his apparent followers because some of them are really out of hand and he’s clearly the only one they’ll listen to (if that: they seem to dismiss a lot of his messages, but just showing up would at least scare the crap out of them and get a momentary silence we all could use). After that, I needed to prep a feminist carnival, roll out a huge new addition to the services Scarleteen already provides, and start prepping for the big end-of-year fundraising appeal for Scarleteen that is critical to our survival. In case you haven’t picked up on this about me already, I HATE dealing with, thinking about and talking about money. I hate asking for it even more. I just hate money, period: I’d give just about anything to live in a totally barter-based world. When my days are filled with large portions that are about nothing but finances (especially since it’s usually about finances that aren’t there), I begin to slowly and surely lose my mind. It doesn’t help, of course, that Blue is in a similar spot right now himself.

The night before the fundraising release, my stress levels and way too many 12-15 hour workdays in a row broke the proverbial camel’s back.

I had a meltdown that made almost all other meltdowns in my personal history look downright amateur.

Mind, that was also in part because of the falling-down-house. The house I rent here is 107 years old.  It’s clearly withstood a lot, but the maintenance on it over the years and the time we’ve been here has been less than fabulous, and it’s a typical old west coast house: built fast, not in any way insulated. In the last two months, I’ve had so many things break it’s just nuts, and they seemed to have liked to do so in a way that gave it all a very dramatic build: it started gradual, but then picked up so there were days towards the end here where something would happen almost daily. First it was one broken sink (paired with another that was already broken: anyone who has stayed here recently got used to brushing their teeth in the kitchen). Then a broken toilet, which we woke up to with the floor full of water it resulted in. Already, the woodstove was toast (and the landlord doesn’t want to pay to fix it), and then the heat in the main rooms downstairs broke (which is also still not repaired). Next, one of the kitchen cabinets just fell off in my hand. Then the dryer broke. We’re not provided a washer and dryer in the lease: the last were bought used, so are up to me to replace: thankfully, we lucked out and found a free one. Then the toilet downstairs started leaking, providing the cold downstairs of the house with an oh-so-wonderful urine-scented perfume.  Then — not actually part of the house, but still — my main computer system which houses all my music, all my photo work and what I use to do it with, and my most important software, went kablooie.  And because we’ve had a recent move-out and move-in here, a good deal of the house was already in disarray.

And that’d be when I totally lost it, sinking into a pile on the floor of the stinky bathroom. It absolutely did not help that in that same week, we’d decided to double feature the original Grey Gardens with the dramatized new version (which was exceptionally good, but somehow manages to be even more depressing than the original documentary, which is quite a freaking feat). Both Blue and I could identify the stage the place here was in with its matching Grey Gardens stage, what felt like only a couple steps away from a pile of cat food cans in the corner and water from the ceiling pouring unto the piano.

I needed that big cry, really. It’s hard and it’s scary to work so much, so diligently and for so long in my life and still be dealing with things like not having working plumbing and heat. I was basically raised with very strong messages that I, like everyone else on both sides of my family, should expect to be overworked and underpaid, to always be bone-tired from work at the end of every day of my life and to not find work would net me even the basic the things it can net others. Those messages in some ways were helpful — after all, they have helped me manage my expectations — but in other ways, especially the older I get, they can feel a whole lot like a curse, especially given how deeply I am realizing I internalized all of that stuff.  Perhaps internalized to the point that others read that in me and figure throwing me crumbs is just fine since I’m clearly fine with it myself and will not stop doing all I do regardless of the conditions. It’s also hard and scary to be very transparent in asking for things I badly need, and most others in my position have, knowing that ask is inevitably going to meet with at least some cold shoulders that are going to either make me very angry, or just really hurt my feelings. Some of my meltdown was me bracing myself for some disappointment I knew would come.
It’s also hard and scary for me to have someone else around who very acutely feels my pain and frustration; who I’m both really letting all the way in, and who goes all the way in when I do let them.  Usually when I totally lose my shit, I’m alone, which sucks in some ways, but in others, I can really go whole hog with a freakout when it’s totally private.

While it’s certainly ironic, since it’s not what I want, it’s no coincidence that in my relationship history, it’s more common for me to be with people who keep a certain distance from me or withhold than it is for me to be with those who get very close and go all-in. With Blue back in my life full-stop, I’m acutely reminded that in some ways, I can be somewhat Wild Boy of Aveyron emotionally: a bit feral, twitchy and skittish when it comes to anyone really being all the way open to me and wanting the same in return. I’m reminded that this was part of the issue with us way back when, and that while I’ve certainly come a long way in that regard, I’m hardly all the way there. This Mowgli still has some serious work to do in this department. However, having someone so deep in it with me who will really just let me go and listen to all I’m crying about — both the reasonable and the not-so — is a gift. I also need to remember that especially for someone who knows — perhaps better than anyone — how hard it is for me to really open up and speak to the things that scare me the most, that make me feel the most awful, that my doing so is a gift, too.

But.

Like I said to Becca when she called and asked how I was, all of that aside, I’m actually ridiculously happy. Which might seem completely insane given all the crap I just chronicled, but there it is.

Last night I was saying to Blue that if the two of us are as happy as we have been with everything in such total fucking disarray and utter chaos, it’s kind of mind-blowing to figure how we might be if and when it’s not. Even something relatively tiny, like getting an electric blanket to help with the cold, seems to make us much happier and more giddy than it might otherwise. Life here is very good despite all the other kinds of crazymaking and badness.  It’s amazing having Blue here and continues to be awesome for us both to finally really be together. In setting up some of what we can with the place here, it feels homier than it ever has, and that process has been exceptionally nice. Nice enough, even, that when I had heartburn the other night and Blue pointed out the Tums were next to the condoms on the nightstand, it made me laugh instead of making me feel geriatric. The animals are all socializing well. The meadow I cultivated — where the tree used to be — is beautiful and flowering. I have some good work stuff on the horizon in the next six months, just have to see it all through and hopefully get there.  I have had some great help and company in Blue with some of my work stuff and functions. And while I am not in the position to cut back my work hours, I really, really want to, and that wanting is in and of itself a very positive thing.

It sucks that we have to deal with the crap that is this crumbling Grey Garden right now, but we’re still planning a move to the islands, hopefully in the spring. I think we can get through one winter here, even with busted heat. Thankfully this is Seattle, not Chicago or Minnesota, so even if we had no heat at all, it’d be uncomfortable but hardly lethal. It sucks that I have to keep pushing the envelope so much with work, and have to work so hard right now, but it’s hardly anything new.  And I *did* get a weekish off this year, and that really was a lifesaver.

So yeah: a whole lot of everything really is quite shit. But I’ll work my way through it — and get to some of the bright spots looming on the horizon up there –  and am sure I’m not only going to get through it all okay, but in some ways, all that shit only has so much impact because it hasn’t yet managed to overrun the stuff that’s really, really good.

P.S.  I deeply apologize to site subscribers for the lack of photography updates.  I actually have one fantastic completed set that was ready to go online, and two in the process of being ready, but since the main system died with all of that inside of it, I can’t get to any of that or upload any right now.  I may be able to get the data off of it in the next week, but it’ll still be a bit after that for me to be able to get everything moved over to another computer and get it all up.

P.P.S. For those of you who don’t know, when I’m silent here, I’m rarely silent on Twitter, where you can keep up with my life and work mini-updates, things that politically infuriate me, my irrelevant random thoughts and my attempts to stop eating the pretzels I’m unable to stop stuffing in my gob right now.

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

Just a couple short hours ago, I began the time off I said I was going to take last month.

To prepare for it, in the last week I earnestly can’t think of a freaking minute I wasn’t working.  But I got one of my local volunteers trained in, deposit-paid, and raring to go to effectively be my body double for the minimum work that has to be done each day to keep Scarleteen running smoothly, and I got a few updates up before I headed out, too.  I had a meeting with my new intern (did I mention I have one?  I do: it’s very exciting) yesterday, so she’s all set to get started on her projects.  The bills are paid.  The clinic knows I’m AWOL through the 14th.  I have my Reality Check pieces for the next two weeks sent in.  I just need to push a couple buttons in a bit to add an update to the members area of this site.

I don’t have an autoresponder set for my email, because the last time I did that, it autoresponded retroactively to every email I ever got.  Oops. Not doing that again.  I do have a form letter ready I can cut as paste as needed, though, and should only need to check the work emails briefly every few days. As much of the world as I can possibly inform knows that for the next weekish, I’m off-duty and Not To Be Bothered.

I have a headache, of course, from all of that work in preparation, but I predict that it will soon pass.  Especially since as I write this, I’m sitting on the futon on the porch during this lovely, sunny day, having taken a walk and ingested a quite delicious lunch paired with a very tall glass of juice.  I’m writing now as a sort of welcoming-in ceremony for my beyond-needed, very-much-desired and first-ever-of-its-length Staycation.

Big breath in, even longer one out.  Sun on the face, sun on the feet.  Pug snoozing happily beside. Headache feels better already.

What’s the plan?  For the rest of today it’s probably utter sloth.  I intend to sit out here, moving on to a book, for as long as it stays warm and sunny.  I might grab a hoop and play in the yard for a bit, but then again, I might not.  A Buffy marathon may happen later, or I may marathon something far more silly, who knows.  Even though I ordered in last night because I was on a work bender, I’ll probably do it again tonight.

Tomorrow, if the weather provides, I want to roll out of bed whenever I do, have some coffee WITHOUT starting my workday at the same time, and then grab my bike and go for a seriously long ride, stopping at the market on the way back to get some dinner goodies, maybe some champagne for mimosas for me, me and only me.  I want to get cracking on one of the rooms that wants tidying, then I’m going to steam my face, take the longest bath in recorded history, sit with a wad of the color conditioner I like in my hair to put some of my red back where it belongs, try and nap, read some books and maybe take the pug on an evening stroll.

Thursday I want to spend the day just out in my neighborhood with no specific intent or plans. I actually got quite a few things done on my to-do-during-vacation list already that would not have been big stressors, but not so much fun, either, like making the garden path and getting kitchen curtains up. So, I have even more free time than I thought I would to do things like just bum around Ballard. I also want to get the damn hoop isolations down that I’ve been so frustrated trying to learn.  Little more tidying, but not much.  Thursday night I’m going out with a friend I have not seen in forever, and have seriously missed.

Friday I just try and keep my marbles together and not wear a path in the floors from excitedly pacing.

Because Friday night Blue gets here, after having driven across the country since Monday with a car overflowing with his worldly possessions as well as a nice, big (well, by her standards) dog for Sofia.  Sofia has always wanted a big dog: when they walk past her, she will often sit down on the sidewalk and moon over them as they walk away, gazing in rapt adoration. So, as far as she and I are concerned, Blue’s dog is a present for her. I know, I just objectified a dog. I’m a terrible person.

We’ve recognized, for the record, that this is — in my estimation — all approximately 33% certifiably insane.  Mind, a compelling argument could be made that the whole of my work and my life is, which either makes everything I do crazy or nothing I do crazy: I’m not sure which.  But even by my lunatic-fringe standards, this is, partially, a little nuts.

There are sensible parts of this, to be sure.  We have been reconnected for over a year and a half, we have been together again for nearing a year, and we’ve lived together before very well, and that was before either of us really knew how to live with anybody.  Blue has wanted great big changes in his life for years: he’s getting them.  We know full well that if we had him come here and we didn’t cohabitate, we’d basically just be paying two rents to still be in the same place every night, anyway.  Plus, I like this old house, I don’t want to move until I can move to the islands ideally, I can’t afford it all by myself nor would I want such a big place just for myself, and if I got a roommate who had to live with the two of us fully reunited after seventeen years apart, they’d be wanting to rip out their own eyeballs and eardrums in no time flat.  See? Crazy = practical.

Know what else?  We both could use a big dose of doing something a bit loony.  For myself, I get few opportunities to do so anymore, and I like the freedom of this, the kinda-unpredictability of this.  I won’t say I don’t certainly have moments where I’m not like, “What on EARTH are we doing?”  I do.  But then I have this pretty simple answer I don’t have to think too hard about, which has something to do with following my guts, what they’re saying now and have said more than once before now.  It also has something to do with this strong, mutual knowing what we want and need, and a knowing we fit both for each other, now and in the past.  Really, the real question when it comes to pretty much all of this isn’t about what we’re doing now, but what the hell each of us, at given times, was possibly thinking in choosing not to do this until now.

Friday night it’s pretty much going to be car arrives, two people squealing like small children and scaring the crap out of the neighbors, arranging the dogs and getting some sort of leg up on making up for a fuck of a lot of lost time in several departments.
So, yeah, that’s Friday.  And Saturday, and…well, no more budgeting days for us at that point. If history repeats itself — which, in our case, it clearly tends to a lot — I imagine that by Sunday night we might just consider leaving the house.  Maybe.  From then through the rest of my days off, I imagine we’ll tackle quite a lot of the things I have left on that list I made last month of what I’d like to do with my time off.  Maybe we’ll grab the dogs and go to Vashon for a day or visit the zoo, we’ll get started on the settling in of stuff, who knows, but I assure you, it’ll all be good.

And after all this, my time for myself, my time once Blue completes his Odyssian journey here — a rather stellar combination, if you ask me — I imagine that when the time to get back to work rolls around again, this girl is going to be feeling a whole lot better.

Hello, vacation. You have no idea how happy I am to meet you.

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

I am a giant, pulsating ball of stress.

Here’s my whirlwind, as scattered and lunatic-fringe as it feels: some friends in deep crisis needing a good deal of care, more and more rape/abuse survivors coming to Scarleteen as well as more and more users who just need a kind of care we can’t give, but who often aren’t willing to get what they actually need, Blue mid-divorce which will probably get more and more yucky (paired with my own irritation at people getting married in the first place, with all apologies to my married readers), more work that just is barely paying me lately (Scarleteen donations are dismal) than any one human being can do, less work that does pay me available to me lately, a bunch of long effort expended on a maybe-second book only to get the oh-so-typical marketing team not-commercial-enough smackdown, Mark getting ready to move and going through something major to boot, Blue getting ready to move, a big house I am going crazy to keep tidy on my own, the tail end of the peer sex educator training, broken sinks, cut-down trees, overwhelming photo backlog (have been making progress, but have a long way to go) so I can get to the point where I can make some new art (which my spirit direly needs), serious impatience about having certain parts of my life start I feel like I’ve been waiting for forever, feeling ineffectual half the time even when I work my tush off, not enough help for…well, nearly anything and everything I need help with, behind on a million things from people visiting, feeling like I can’t possibly give all my friends the time and care they all deserve, money worries including old bills coming home to roost, too many people asking me to do too many things, feeling better physically but still have no answers and am sick and tired of stupid healthcare bills especially in the cultural context of a million people whining about healthcare proposals who have always had and will continue having their damn healthcare, not allowed to box which would really freaking help right now, still desperately trying to find a new developer for Scarleteen we can actually afford and not at all liking living totally developer-less, my pug is itchy all the time again, I’m sad for summer’s upcoming end, I desperately need some time alone, I’m excited about good stuff to come but also nervous as hell, I worry over both my parents a lot these days. Hell, I worry over anything and everything I could possibly worry about.  I have also been finding much of the world lately to be an utterly irritating and crazymaking place and I hate my negativity that way.

Like I said? Giant pulsating ball of stress.

At this precise moment, I’m not sure what the answer to all of this is.  I can figure out some answers for a few of those things, I can put on a few band-aids, but unfortunately, an awful lot of them are things I just have to weather for a bit.  All of this not going on at once would sure help, but there’s not much I can do about that.

I have, however, firmly decided that sometime in October, I am taking a full week, maybe even a week and a half, off.  I mean real-deal time off: NO Scarleteen, NO clinic, no work at all.  No managing anyone else’s crisis.  Part of me says I can’t afford it, but the smarter part of me that cares for myself says my pocketbook is more resilient right now than my head, heart and body are.

I honestly don’t know when the last time was that I did that, where I didn’t even check in with any work-stuff at ALL for more than a couple days at an absolute maximum.

I am taking a moment to put this here because I can pretty much always come up with some excuse when the time comes to take time off as to why I cannot, and I’m asking the internet-at-large to hold me to this, and nag me like a granny if I backpedal.  You see me working anywhere during that time?  I want you to chase me with sticks like a crow in the corn.
And if you’ll humor me, I’d like a few moments to step away from the whirlwind and daydream about what I’d like to do with that week, even about things that probably aren’t possible in reality, in an equally scattered fashion.

I want… to hula-hoop in my backyard on days when it’s sunny and blast reggae while doing so, get a footpath into the front lot where they took my tree away from, get back to baking bread especially so I can give it that satisfying thwack after it rises, make some art, have lots and lots of sex and even more kissing, paint a wall something crazy and in possibly poor taste just because, learn to take naps, go to the Olympus (and in my fantasy world, I magically don’t have to pay for it), eat too many Mighty-O donuts, get a bike ride in every single day, restring my dulcimers, watch way too many movies in a row, discover my new favorite band, have not a single pimple, find things I’ve misplaced and have been missing for years, write something completely fanciful and ridiculous of absolutely no import or consequence to anyone, not have anyone talk to me about money at all — in fact, not deal with money at all save to discover some unexpected donation that comes in to fund my taking time off and prove me right in being able to take the time in the first place, be free of awkward silences, put up curtains in the kitchen at long last so I can dance (and do other things) freely in my underpants without providing live theater for the neighbors, get a real sofa like real grownups have (if it appeared at Goodwill and was two bucks, that’d be even more awesome), giggle, sew a canopy for what’s become my new bedroom, actually experience total apathy for even just one minute, remember I don’t need to somehow write or say everything that needs saying in one sentence, get out of the city for a day, be given a bath in which someone washes my hair who isn’t me, play with my dog, take evening walks, spruce up my space for my sitting practice, have dinner made for me, read books that have nothing to do with work, have someone tell me marvelous things about myself right in my ear where I can hear them and not doubt them, go to sleep too early and sleep in too late, have an overcast, chilly day turn into the most beautiful day of the whole year, find the bathroom scrubbed clean when I didn’t do it myself, start one day with a pitcher of mimosas, go to the zoo, say some things I often feel like I shouldn’t, cry freely, have nothing terrible in the world happen for at least half my time off, find those days stretch like taffy and have each feel like a week and remember who the hell I am again, entire and apart from the giant, pulsating ball of stress I have lately become and deeply dislike.

Friday, April 24th, 2009

it said it saw itself as a very tall tree, and so I saw it that way, too.

After the weekend before last, I feel very, very clear on the fact that life on the island would fit my wants and needs very nicely.  I’ve known for a long time that I wanted, at some point in my life, to live more quietly, more rural,  I just thought it was going to be a bit more down the road than this.  But I think the only reason I thought that was that I didn’t see it as feasible any earlier.  It is, in fact, feasible sooner, as feasible as living exactly where I am is.  In some ways, it may be even more so.

The whole weekend, I kept doing that thing one does in a heavenly place, where you say to yourself, “Wouldn’t it be amazing if I could live here?”  Usually, when I’m somewhere where I say that to myself, it’s a pipe dream.  In this case, every time I thought that, I’d then remember that I CAN live there.  The rents and expenses are really no better or worse than they are in the city, everything I have here on the mainland I could have on that island, and getting to the city from Bainbridge (there are other islands, but this would be the most convenient for me) is exceptionally easy and highly pleasant.  I know locals here kvetch about the ferries a lot, but having grown up with subways and inner-city buses, I tend to find them a far more pleasant means of transportation than what I usually ride on.  I wouldn’t have to take the ferry much anyway, as I really only need to be in the city for outreach/clinic work two times a week at a maximum.  And two of our clinic staff live on the island, so carpooling is also an option.

I just felt better there, separate from the fact that I was also there visiting with Blue, who I hadn’t seen in five weeks.  I breathed more deeply, my skin looked immediately better.  I could walk out on the porch in the morning stark naked without anyone’s notice or care and take a soak; have my first sip of coffee with the moist breeze on my skin.  The quiet both soothed and inspired, and the company of trees, ferns, birds and water felt more like me these days than the company of tall buildings, construction detritus, bar mania and a ton of people everywhere I turn.  The rhythm of the day there fit my own so well, sending me to sleep early and rousing me to wake before the sun came up.  Doing the dishes by hand felt better than loading them into a machine: doing simple things and doing them more simply is so grounding for me.  Taking a long hike on the dirt felt better than a walk on the pavement.  The people were warmer, everything was smaller; more intimate, yet more private all at once.  My head felt more clear, my heart more at rest, to the point that I could put most thoughts of work away save flashes of inspiration.

I felt much more like island people than mainland people.  I felt much more at home. I felt much more like myself, much more like I fit, than I have felt in Seattle.

While I was there, I started to do some planning.  Ultimately, if I could sell another book in the next six months, I could handle the financial aspects of this move with incredible ease.   It’d be doable without that, but that would make it nearly a cash cakewalk. I will need to find myself some kind of reliable junker to drive, which means a) getting a new license (I let my old one expire ten years ago, having no need of it), and b) purchasing said vehicle.  I may also need to consider finding a roomie, but I may not: it really depends on what I can find to rent for myself or not.  In a lot of ways, I’ve felt so alone in my own home over the past couple of years, as well as in this city, that literally being alone, not just feeling alone, seems very important and like the right thing for me.

I do think that as much as I have always loved the solitude of being in more isolated spaces, and as much as I need to be alone in the near future, it will probably take some adjusting on my end to be out there alone.  But I realized there is a very easy and fantastic solution to that matter, which is simply calling and emailing some of the people in the world I love and miss the most and inviting them to come stay somewhere beautiful with me for a week or two during the first few months after I move.

Briana is going to come up here to visit in June or July, and wants to come see the island with me, too. (Mya is coming around then, too, maybe I’ll drag her over for a day, as well.)  I’d love more than anything for she and The Baby Liam (who isn’t a baby anymore, but I plan to call him that well into his adulthood, in alignment with my job as his obnoxious auntie) to be close to me, even to live with me, but given custody arrangements with his father, that may or may not be an option.   But it’s likely also possible for the two of them to be on one of those visits when I love, regardless.  I can also ask Becca, Elise, Christa, Mark, Mya, Heath, Fish, my mother, my father…any number of people who I’d love visits with anyway.  I think it’s a workable plan.

I don’t know when it will happen, but I’m thinking fall or winter.  Like I said before, one of the toughest parts of this is that my moving out of the city at all also equals my moving out from my living arrangement with Mark, and even thinking about that is so very hard and makes me feel tremendously sad. It’s probably right for us, regardless, to start moving towards not living together,  but that doesn’t make it easy, and it’s something very heavy in the lightness of my feelings about being somewhere else where I think I will be happy as far as my location goes.

And as I’m talking about somewhere else, I’m packing to go somewhere else yet again. After a week from hell where I have had to be on way, way too much, I’m heading back to Chicago for a week to visit family, get some grant work started, to spend a few days with Fish (who moved from here to there a few months ago, go figure) and to see Blue.  AND, perhaps coolest of all, to have a 5th grade slumber party reunion with two of my other closest friends as a child who I haven’t seen in decades.  I don’t know if there’s much cooler than that.

What I do know is that I’m wiped and need a soft, warm bed.  And that the idea of having it somewhere as lovely as the islands is a marvelous — and attainable! — daydream.

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

Thursday, after working my second job at the clinic, I was effectively kidnapped by my co-worker Gigi and her ten-year-old daughter Sophia, whom I adore.She calls herself Big Sophia around me, my pug being Little Sofia. We wound up driving from their place to my neighborhood for dinner, which is a pretty long haul. On the drive up, I sat in back with Sophia as she showed me how she plays cards on her Zune, shared her teen magazine with me, and put her headset on my ears to share her favorite music.

As I agreed that Paramore are, as she said, so super awesome and cool, I was reminded of my sense that when girls that age think you’re the bomb, you really must be the bomb, and you very much feel as cool as the bands they like when they let you in. It’s quite a gift.

At dinner, we sat together as she flipped through the magazine some more — she still liked me even after insisting she hold my hand as we crossed a busy street, though she may well be too big for that. (She seems to simply accept that her Auntie Heather is a worry wart.) She pointed out a two-page section in it to me about embarrassing moments. The more embarrassing something was considered, the higher it was rated, and they key for the ratings listed the highest as so, so mortifying that one should leave town. Some guy farting loudly in his car with a girl hardly ranked, but, surprise, surprise, the one which involved menstrual blood was top-rated as the worst of the worst.

The scenario was that you were at your older sister’s dorm in college and you wound up leaking on her roommate’s bed. The image showed a horrified girl, a very psychotic-looking screaming roomie, and a pool of blood so large, I suspect there may have been a dead body under the blankets. Maybe even two.

I casually commented that I didn’t understand why you had to get out of town because of something that inevitably happens to women with some frequency, just like people get nosebleeds on things or track mud into the house. I mentioned that this kind of stuff really does happen pretty often, and I’d be pretty surprised to see another girl — since it’s probably happened to her, too — make such a big honking deal out of it. I also mentioned I’ve never had a move where once I totally stripped a bed or futon, I wasn’t reminded of how often it happens with the many Rorschach splotches all over mine. I also commented that a puddle of blood that size was an illustrator taking some serious artistic license.

This brought up questions for her about getting periods, and if that’s always horrifying. I told her my comic tale of the cruelty of the fad of white painter’s pants in the early 80’s, especially when your parent had let you know how to identify malaria, but had not filled you in on why you’d suddenly find a red stain inching down your leg while talking to someone you had a mad crush on. (Thank goodness for Judy Blume, mother of us all.) Her Mom also chimed in with her story and talked about how not having that basic information made what would probably otherwise just be a mere bother a lot worse. We both talked about the wads of toilet paper in the underpants technique one often finds oneself using when a pad isn’t available or you don’t even know what one is yet. We also both mentioned that even if moments like that felt like a nightmare at the time, it doesn’t take long for them to become the very funny stories you laugh about like we all just had been laughing over.

Sophia asked both of us how old we were when we got our periods (I was 11, Gigi was 12 or 13), and exhaled a “Phew!” that she still had some time. Then we both said some words about how she probably does, but it really is only as big a deal as you make it. So, when it happens to her, it’ll be just fine, and once she starts having her period, it’ll get pretty normal after just a little while and not be anything to worry about. And certainly nothing to consider leaving town over if you bleed on something now and then.

I was even able to end the evening sending them home with one of the kickass booklets on getting your period I was part of doing with Lunapads.

Only once they all left and I was home alone did I even realize that we’d had “The Period Talk” with Sophia. I had a brief moment of worry that not having thought about it while we were having it, we didn’t do it right, or messed something up. But in reflecting back, I realized how mellow and casual — and unabashedly public! — it was, how it was even in front of her Dad, who was also being totally unsqueamish about it, how comfortable and conversational Sophia was throughout, and how normal it was all made to be, and I felt great about it, convinced this kid I like so much may have had one of the best period talks ever.

One almost as super awesome and cool as Paramore, even. Rawk!

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

Meet Gerald.Several weeks ago, on the way home from the movies, Mark, Heath and I drove by a shop with this hat in the window, which caused a great squealingy ruckus on my part.

A couple weeks later, Mark surprised me with it as a gift.  Much leaping followed.

I have named it Gerald and taken him in as a permanent guest.

Since that time, Mark has made what will go down in history as one of my favorite Mark-quotes to date.

“I want to snuggle up to a woman who wants to jump in puddles with a monster on her head.”

And with that, Gerald and I are heading home to Chicago together.  See y’all next week.

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

Yesterday, a TIME magazine piece on cosmetic vulval surgeries nearly did our completely excellent server in. Then today, another piece from UC Santa Cruz’ student newspaper came out (which is a much more fun piece than the TIME one, and the reporter who did it was great fun to talk to and get connected with everyone).  Media avalanche, man.  Jaysis.

By the by, last night while I was in the living room indulging in a mini-film fest of tragic 80’s figures (Sid and Nancy is what was on at the time), I overheard Mark upstairs on the phone bragging a blue streak about me and my work to a friend.   It was just about one of the sweetest things ever, and I totally melted like a stick o’vegan buttery spread.

In making some calls for the CONNECT program, I set up a observation day at yet another program for homeless youth where they want some sex ed.  I am just loving that when it comes to my local work, I seem to be finding myself more and more often serving…well, the me of yesteryear.  At that training a weekish ago, a lot of it focused on basically reliving/telling our teen years, and I was telling my tales (which, by the way, is far more difficult to do in a group of people you don’t know in pewrson than it is in writing), I realized that I had a level of appreciation for my own pluck and ability to survive that I’d not ever given the proper weight to, even though it’s something I see in these kids and appreciate all the time about them.  It seems like kismet, really.

With that, I’m out to go do some more outreach today.  And I am hoping that unlike the very awkward Not-So-Great Tote Bag Explosion of 2008 that happened on the bus a couple months ago that resulted in every method of birth control imaginable spilling all over the floor (and every single person on said bus all but freezing in their seats, lest they have to TOUCH any of it: what the heck is with that?), I will not find that both all that stuff as well as a bunch of abortion instruments get restless and feel the need for an untoward escape.

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

I don’t mean to be such a stranger.

I’m nearly finished with organizing, making and getting out the big mailing to nearly 200 organizations in Washington State for CONNECT.  It’s crazy how hard some of this has seemed: I’ve clearly gotten spoiled over the years by new media.  The funny thing is that way back in the day in the early 90’s, when I ran my little alternative school, I was the queen of all things paper: I refused to use any kind of computer at all, even a basic word processor for the first year.  For several of those years, I produced a pretty involved alternative ECE newsletter and doing that and I don’t remember getting it out being this big of a deal.

However, it’s looking shiny and awesome and once it’s off my desk, I will be one very happy chick.

I’ve also been overwhelmed with just trying to run two programs at once, getting the voting guide done for Scarleteen, and trying to keep up with all the usual work there. I’ve been distracted — though that’s likely not the best word — with the elections, national and local.  And per usual, I’m still just not feeling well.  I don’t think I have ever had a stretch of time where I’ve gotten so much sleep every night (I’ve been managing to get 7 or 8 hours a night), and yet, I feel like I could sleep all day, every day, and it still wouldn’t be enough.

I keep thinking that I should be very personally concerned about the current financial crisis, but then I realize that a) I own nothing, b) most of the contributions to Scarleteen aren’t even from the U.S., and c) I don’t make shit now and don’t know how much worse it could really get.  I also remind myself that I have enough to worry about already.  I guess sometimes freedom really is just another word for nothing left to lose.

My Dad is coming up here in a couple of weeks, and staying for a couple of weeks.  He’s been in a really bad way lately, which at times means my having to have one or more long phone conversations with him in a day, where his moods and what he is saying are just all over the place, which is really tough to deal with. One of the most recent several-day conversations involved me patently refusing to cancel his plane ticket simply because he was certain that the dreams he has been having about plane crashes were prophetic and that he would die on the way here (which is a strange concern for someone with a long history of being suicidal to have, but so be it).  Unfortunately, this dream stuff has gone on before, and it’s tough to expect him not to believe them: his mother, my grandmother, stated she was going to die to everyone mere hours before she and half his family were in the truck accident that killed them when I was young.

I’ve had times in my life where I’ve gone through phases of this with him, but it just feels like it’s happening more frequently lately, to the point that I feel like I might need to start looking into what exactly someone in my income bracket can do to find residential care for a parent. Him living with us just isn’t an option: he would never agree to it, and even though we’ve lived well together before — more harmoniously than I live with most people, to be truthful — I don’t see it being a good answer.

How on earth, if I could find something, I could convince my father to even consider such a thing, I don’t know.  In so many ways, he’s so progressive, but there always remains some very prototypical Italian pride my father clings to.   I honestly don’t even know how I’d bring this up to him, and explain why I feel we need to consider it without hurting his pride and also triggering his guilt: he expresses guilt constantly (always has, but more of late) that I’m the only person he has in the world to lean on and that I have no other help or support when it comes to him.  But I’m just getting really worried, and I just feel like I have lived long enough with my parent living like this.  It’s breaking my heart, and I just can’t stand it anymore.

The place he stays at is still in one of the worst parts of the city, worse than it was when we lived in that neighborhood, and it’s just really vile.  Last week, he had this major freakout — validly — because in his dank little room the size of your average bathroom, four huge rats had gotten in.  He was so scared and wigged out that he wound up blowing his disability check to sleep in a motel for a couple of nights.  More then once while I have been talking to him, I can hear freaking gunshots. Given how he is mentally, as well, the isolation that he has very clearly just is not healthy for him: he’s so much better when he’s here, around people, somewhere safe.

I don’t suppose there’s any of you out there around my age who have been in a similar situation with any idea of where I’d even start when it came to looking for this kind of care?

Anyway, that’s most of my stuff.  Things at home here are totally fine, including that my boyfriend found a way to turn bacon into flowers last week, his new brag of late.

Apparently, if you’re at the farmer’s market, and you indulge your carnivore-sweetie’s longing for good bacon by giving him five bucks to buy some from the butcher, and he buys it, but then turns around and buys you a $5 bouquet, bacon has been turned into flowers.   Now you know.

I’m very lucky, dead pigs notwithstanding, to have his whimsy around.  I was just remarking to him the other day that it’s one of the things I appreciate most about him, and a quality I find it pretty rare with a lot of people: I need creativity around me, I need silliness, I need to be whimsical with someone.  I can go without a lot of things in my life, or in a given week or day, but if a day or two passes and I haven’t laughed my arse off, I just can’t deal.  While now and then that means that sex gets shelved — because we tend to take a left turn at silly, to the point that there is just no turning back — I’ll take it.

And on that note, I leave you with something I begged him to let me have a while back, which he penned during a meeting he was clearly very interested in at his day job.  I don’t think his boss would be particularly delighted, but I’m fairly certain I don’t care.

Mark's Very Important Work Notes

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

Antichoice, bible-thumping, sex-only-okay-for straight-marrieds-and-only-for-procreation trolls are really funny when they suggest Plato or Socrates as a suitable defense for their agenda and as in alignment with them when it comes to sexuality. Especially when they were serious.

Know what’s even funnier than that?

When it’s that day you need to tidy up the toys. So you go to head downstairs, your hands so overfull with dildos that you drop them and — bOINg! BOing! boING! — they all go down the stairs.

It’s peppy penises! A prancing phallus! A jouncing Johnson! Springing Schongs! Ding dong!

It’s almost as funny when after the Great Dildo Circus of 2008 is over (wah!), after you’ve gathered them all back up and are going to the dishwasher, tears still on your cheeks from amusing yourself so, you look up to see your neighbor crossing the lane, stopping dead in her tracks and looking at you as if…well, as if you were a woman laughing and crying all by herself loading an armload of dildos into the dishwaher.

Almost, but not quite.

P.S. The San Francisco trip was very brief, but very nice. Having lots of time with Robert & Carol is always a treat, I was able to spend time with Melissa twice (and I do not know what it is about us, but we have the coolest thing that happens when both our brains are in the same space), met a lot of very lovely people, had a productive meeting, and spent a ridiculous amount of money on too many cups of impossible-to-resist Blue Bottle coffee, which was — unfortunately for my wallet — stumbling distance from Robert and Carol’s pad.

Honestly, I have had a lot of good coffee in my life, have even trained people to make it as a gig way back when, but I do think I can say I have never had better. And they do vegan mochas with gorgeous shaved dark chocolate which you get a thick mouthful of at the end of the cup. Heaven.

I thought the reception on Friday was a good time and the presentation/discussion Sunday went well. I wish, for the latter, that I hadn’t had to abbreviate answers to VERY big questions due to time, since it made me feel like I was almost diminishing some issues I thought were big’uns, but one does what one can.

Saturday, July 26th, 2008

I just got off the phone with my Pop.

I’m appreciating so much that over the last two years he’s been able to be in the SRO where I can actually be able to be in contact with him, know where he is, and that there’s a phone so we’re able to talk with some frequency and for decent periods of time.

When all the work crap went down a few weeks ago, and we were talking, we got into a conversation where he was asking why I was dedicated to activism the way I was, and I interrupted myself in the midst of explaining to tell him that I thought it was pretty damn silly for him to be asking why I was pretty much exactly the way he taught me to be. He took a pause, and he asked if that made me suffer. I answered that while it certainly doesn’t make for an easy life, it’s so rewarding and such a huge part of who I am that I don’t even know who I’d be otherwise: that what he gave me in that regard was a massive gift. And then he cried big, happy tears (this after crying sad tears about something else he’s been dealing with, so that was good).

My father has always been very hypercritical about being as good a parent to me as he could have been, despite the fact that given the whole of our situation, the whole of my childhood and adolescence and his life, and all of the things he has done for me — including, quite literally, saving my life and my sanity in my teens — I think he was a great Dad. I feel very blessed. I have a parent who has always been 100% supportive of me in everything I have done, who has always been my dearest friend. While his disabilities and his issues certainly have often been very hard for me, and having to provide care for him sometimes (being his only person in the world is certainly a burden), have him be on street sometimes, all of that, has by no stretch been easy for me and has often been acutely painful, I’ve also always been aware that neither he nor I can control much of that. When it all comes down to it, I have such a unique relationship with my father: one I see other people have very rarely, and without that….well, I just don’t know what on earth would have become of me in many, many ways. Really, I think I do know, and I do not think it would have been at all good. I don’t even know if I’d be alive or intact, honestly.

Those rare moments like that, where he actually experiences and feels the value he’s had, feels proud of the way that he parented, is able to have his self-critique and self-loathing fall away when it comes to me: it’s so awesome, and I’m so glad.

I probably won’t be able to see him again for another handful of months. Our plan at the moment is to fly him out here for the elections. We figure if it’s a good result, we all get to celebrate together, and if the worst happens yet again, we’ll at least have good company for a solid three-day bender of epic proportions.

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

Tomorrow, right after clinic, I’m leaving on a jet plane. It is technically — as usual — a work trip, but very much out of the ordinary, I will only have to work for around two hours on Sunday. The rest of that time, we will simply be enjoying the sun and the sand on Shelter Island.

In other words, it really is, however brief, an actual, bonafide vacation — I think if it’s more than 36 hours it’s no longer just a getaway or a day trip — something I have not had in such a long time it’s scary. Something I have needed for years.

The timing is completely brilliant: there could not be a better time for me to be able to just get the hell out of dodge, grab a few books and my sweetheart, and decompress. Now that things are dying down a bit — knock on wood, but so far today I have not gotten even one piece of hate mail — I’m actually feeling pretty okay. Stronger, more resilient than I thought I was. Tired, and certainly a little world-weary, but I’m okay. Thanks to everyone who lent me some support over the last few days: I very much needed it, and it was absolute gold.

My Dad is here now (and we did have That Talk this morning, and it went very well), and will be taking care of my child, otherwise known as my dog. I’ll get to come back to see him for another five days, and while I have to do work from home in that time, I will only need to go to the clinic one day that week. He’ll also be here for my 38th — how do these things happen? — birthday next Friday, which is just awesome.

So, off with me. I still have taxes to try and finish, a Dad to hang out with, a pug to snuggle, a bag to pack and fifty gazillion more things to do. But after 5:00 tomorrow, until Monday morning, I’ll be exceptionally busy harvesting freckles, enjoying a cocktail or twelve, soaking my toes in the pool and thanking the powers that be for that much-needed respite.

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

The woman here in Ballard who runs the local apothecary has always been awesome (and is also a fellow member of the women-going-grey-in-dire-need-of-a-haircut-with-big-glasses-who-live-in-blue-jeans club), and while my practice with herbalism and the lot goes back around 20 years now, even when I’ve been stumped with things before, she’s had a creative answer. Today I went in considering, for the second time this week, buying a nice teapot for my office at the clinic, since being unable to offer women a cup of tea when they come in strikes me as rude. I still wasn’t all the way there, just because of money issues, but she overheard me moping to Audra about the fact that I couldn’t burn aromatherapy candles in there, either, due to fire codes. I just feel like the leftover scent of Lysol is way too medical for a counseling office and not at all comforting, especially when clients are upset or distressed. My office should be their place of peace.

But voila! She comes out with a very nice electric diffuser and a bunch of pads for me, and only charged me for one set of the pads: she knows what I do for my living and is on board. After I nabbed a bottle of clary sage to use with it (it’s an excellent antidepressant, tends to be very calming and also promotes healing — it’s also heaven if you’ve got a migraine), I picked up a bottle of rosemary, wishing I could use it, but felt like it was a little too stimulating for clients. She offers up myrtle as an alternative, which indeed, is very similar to rosemary in scent, just not quite as strong, and says myrtle always makes her feel cared for. I’ve never really worked with myrtle before, and when I get home and look it up, turns out it’s of great help with anger issues and anxiety. Perfect!

It’s not the answer to world hunger or anything, but I’m very excited to be able to go back to the clinic tomorrow with this small improvement to the space.