Sunday – Coffee, Classical Music, and Rain

With all the changes in life these days another is the routine of Sunday’s. Saturday’s were usually the coffee acquisition and chocolate addiction day with whatever other errands needed being cared for. Sunday’s usually started slowly, with pancakes and warm maple syrup. But no need, now, for all that. I am not hungry so why bother with all the usual? I suppose in the future I will do as I once did – make a large batch of pancakes and freeze them to eat whenever I want a quick meal. But has he ruined even that for me?

I know I will need a lot more time to divest myself of the sadness associated with every single loss tossed on this heap of dismay. A lot of habits will echo with his being. So I am trying to, for now, avoid them. The sting will be less some day. Instead, I am trying to recall who and what I used to be.

It has been a very long time since I cooked only for myself, cleaned my own mess, planned my own day. On Sundays I used to go to a lovely park in Georgia, hiking and running along a 6 mile path in pre-dawn hours, sometimes having to pay the fee in quarters saved. Let me see if I can find those old photos…ah, here. This was the first turn after leaving the general public behind. The sun would rise over the hills and, when cold, the water would have fog lifting upward like ghosts. Once a pack of coyotes crossed the path in front of me just before this part of the trail, each of us so quiet that we surprised one another.

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After rather a lot of up and down, and around the magical bend you were treated to this view – usually it was more placid but heavy rains generated a mighty roar down the slender valley. To the right was a steep and rocky wall where I once saw a big cat leap after I startled it at the water where it was drinking. It bounded up the face of that rock and was gone in 5 leaps. There was a bridge to that side – I rarely bothered hiking it, there being less of interest there. I never walked over there again.

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And there – if you turn around on that viewing deck – you can see the world carrying away all the cares and detritus to another place. I would toss leaves or flowers, wishes and demands down that torrent in the hope something would receive an answer.

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There was an answer one day and I thought, I was so certain, that it was The One. I was weary with fighting battles alone, tired of only the cat for conversation. And he seemed…well, he seemed an answer to all those leaves rolling over rocks. Skilled in the outdoors and defense, I thought finally I would be safe and could let go my constant Condition Yellow. I didn’t know that was the term for it but I’d lived my entire life in that state. I relished the thought of being able to turn some of that over to someone else so that I could, like the general public, sit in Condition White for a time and let my nerves settle. And so it was.

But I have lost the thread of this story – the winding river sending my mind off to other moments. I would, after that long hike, return home either frozen to the bone or a sweaty mess. In the summer it would be a protein laden breakfast. In the winter waffles or oatmeal. I didn’t know at the time that the reason I never quite lost the belly fat was because of the…well, the mass. It was a surprise to find out, and a loss of any chance at children. I didn’t really mourn that at the time – there was a lot going on. But I should have. Instead, I threw myself into his career plans, sending him off to Texas as I lay in bed with an incision hip to hip.

I can recall my cat one evening while I was sleeping moving to the end of the bed and growling low at the bedroom doorway – he never did that. I moved as if in sleep to garner a better view of the door and the weapon nearby. But in a moment he came to sleep over my head as he always did and we both went back to sleep. But I often wondered what it was he fended off. What ghost thought to visit in that night?

I admit that having a life with only cats is far easier than one with dogs. I never wanted a dog because they demanded so much time and effort. A cat is content with food and water. A dog demands your heart and soul. I was able, before, to leave the cat in the care of the neighbor and travel for a long weekend. And I did travel. I actually went places, rented cars, drove on unknown roads. It seems quite…surreal, now. I have always had a kind of driving phobia, and a fear of new places. Before the cell phone and in-car directions I had to print page after page of maps and directions with point to point details and the surrounding areas in case I got lost. I never drove a car until I was nearly…30 years old, I think. So that sort of adventurous spirit seems like a feat to me, now. How did I ever make myself do that?

How much have I surrendered in the years since? Even on my meager income I managed small vacations. We never had one together. I used to enjoy the outdoors every weekend. Here, it became a list of chores bounded by the constant need of dogs to go in and out. And a fence that he refused to bind with more wire to save my chasing the escape artist down thrice a day. Dogs that he would care for across the span of 10 minutes and then move on to his other concerns.

Will I one day have the adventurous spirit again, with a dog for company and alert on Yellow like myself to share the load? Will I once again have the  resolve to make my own way in the world, slipping through pre-dawn fog to a destination unknown? I watch the stormy and cold wind tear the leaves from the trees outside my window and wonder at the season of the year and my life. Is this my own fall, my own shedding of protective layers? Will it be a barren and dark quarter? And will Persephone rise again, bringing Spring from that darkness into the world and into me? I feel quite ancient and withered, to be honest. I can imagine in another 20 years my laughter at that. But it is true.

I have not been well-cared for. There – that is the truth of it and I didn’t want to ever actually admit it because, in his way, he did do what he could. But it was not affection, it was not love. It was duty. And there is no surprise, then, that I would dry and shrink like a corm in drought. Will this dormancy break and flower into something that I once was? Or will I have a new appearance, foliage of a new species of Me? But I am tired…I am weary of being Strong and Managing. I want the ease of somnambulism. The last time this happened I had Means and was able to take time to grieve, to wallow, and to rise again.

The wind howls and tells me the time is flying with it and I don’t get the courtesy of rest, of mourning. I don’t even get the option of thinking about it because if I do the immensity of the tasks at hand are too daunting. I am given no choice. Or, rather, two choices: fight or surrender. I have tried the latter before and it leaves you in the very same place you were but a deeper climb out. I haven’t much left in me for the fight but…I tell myself that the other option is always there if I fail.

But there is a winter in my soul that muffles the sound of hope. It has to sing louder. I have to amplify it with a belief that life will change and not – as my pessimistic side declares – for the worst. I just have to…start over. I never thought I would have to do that again and it occurs to me just now the truth I’ve always known…

Condition White is a Lie and no one is coming to save you.

Another Trip…

…around the sun, as they say. This one was rather uneventful but I did get a serenade, gifts, and a rather large ice cream snack with my favorite dog. Unfortunately, I also got a leaking cooling system. I thought it was all set after a lower hose replacement but either it is not on securely or it is Something Else. I nursed her home, thankful I hadn’t gone much farther as I’d intended. Fingers crossed the gauges didn’t lie to me and there isn’t a blown head gasket or some such thing. I don’t think so – there was still some fluid in the reservoir and the gauges held steady. Tomorrow I’ll get it all wiped down underneath and see if I can tell from whence comes the lifeblood.

It has been a busy time of looking for work and submitting my info via many different online systems for same – none of them very well programmed, to be honest. And one…one dumped all my data and kicked me out after spending over 15 minutes editing.

I see it is a Leonids shower weekend. I might see if I can shake myself out of the bed after 2a and give it a look. But it might be smart to wait until tomorrow night so I can blaze all the fire ant hills and position my seat in a safe zone. If this were an ant-free location I’d bed down outside and set an alarm. Alas, the risk is too high.

I decided that I would need a nice dinner for myself and wisely bought ahead of time. Sea scallops (with Penzey’s Florida seasoning) seared in bacon fat and butter and then deglazed with chardonnay. Oh, yes. Of course, I also set down the very kind gift of my friend, Christina, who – the last time I was with her – gifted me with several bags of her charro beans. Now, for the uninitiated, these are a kind of pinto bean that strolled through the bayou and swam through a Cajun’s kitchen, wandered into a field of venison sausage and tucked some in its pocketses, and then decided some ham hocks wouldn’t go amiss. One of her best batches yet. I wanted to eat the entire thing but wisely saved the rest for lunch tomorrow.

I have a garden bench that needed renewal something fierce. I had it taken apart for months, waiting on – ahem – someone – to take care of it. I decided I could manage a quick job of it. I painted the metal framework a few weeks ago and, today, finished the stain and sanding of the boards. A nice first coat of beeswax soaked in well. I’ll probably add another tomorrow and then put it all back together with the new hardware I’ve had for ages. Assuming I find the baggy, again. I did put it up the other day but…where…? At any rate, it will be a nice perch to put outside and, actually, might be nice for star-gazing. Hmm. With sufficient blankets, pillows, and tea…

Well, there you have it. A rather dull version of the last week’s entertainments. I am just glad the puppy is quiet – she gets very antsy when he doesn’t come home. And he shall not for many days so…she will have to be very tired, indeed, the next few nights until she surrenders to his absence.

Oh – let me pass along this – I am in the throes of literature lust. Book 1 was amazing. Book 2? Sigh…I don’t want it to end because the lazy bastard is too busy coding and slaughtering pigs for the freezer to get on with it, I guess. Harrumph.

I will end this by saying to those who know me here and have been so very kind these last few weeks…you have been the raft I’ve clung to in stormy seas. I don’t think I’d have made it this far without you dear, smart, thoughtful friends. I will never forget it.

Freedom – Sometimes It Hurts

Hell, I didn’t know how to title this one yet. I, of course, voted early because I don’t stand in line with the great unwashed when I can avoid it. And I mean that literally – this is farming and cattle country – they don’t have time to change clothes to vote over the lunch hour.

I will not pay a bit of attention to any reports prior to 1am and usually wait until the morning to find out what happened as I slept. I do predict a red wave, as they say, but I am also positive that there will have never been as much tampering as there will be this time. So even if it doesn’t go your way – be patient. I think there will be a lot of investigation going on.

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The day started covered in fog and mist. I was doing pretty well, taking care of breakfast and dogs, and getting a resume sent out. But then he had to play the music…songs about cheating, about stay awhile, and he has no idea how cruel it is to do so. Much less to hum, whistle and sing along to the tunes as his breakfast is being made. Honestly, who has so little sensitivity as to do that? It really baffles me because if the shoe were on the other foot I’d be bending over backward to avoid ANY sort of reminder of infidelity. I would remain in a calm state, never too cheerful in the face of their troubles. Well, I just think I’d be more attuned than that…and I suppose he would say I was being overly sensitive. It was a frequent rebuttal.

The Oak

So I took the trash to the street and made another round of the yard, the damp weather curling my hair. I looked again at my oak tree, the sentinel in the pasture who has seen untold numbers of days and girls trampling the wet grass. “You and I,” I told it in passing. If it all gets too much…we have a mutual agreement. There is a kind of peace in knowing that you have an Option. It isn’t a…an ideal or goal. It is merely there in hibernation. But it hasn’t the same siren call as it did once before. Nor is the situation as dire. That was hopelessness, then. That was the state of All Gone. This is, in comparison, a difficult journey. A step at a time.

The steps can offer stumbles here and there – the hawks on the lines will always bring him to mind. My finger always going to fidget with a ring now gone. (I promised myself I’d get another to replace it, a fine one of  silver with branches and leaves, a twining thing to cling to…) The songs, of course, are very difficult. I move from one station to another, returning at times to the songs that he would not like, the ones that played loud when a different thunder crashed. But never at him, never to wound, never where he can perceive it. It is a solitary “damn you” that doesn’t bring the curse.

And when it gets very hard I do as the movie says – I go one moment more and then I know I can stand anything. I try to think of a new vista, new walls with my own prints on them, a fridge with my own menus filling it. And my movie snobbery will not be impugned. I did this all before and I did it rather well, generally. But I like to take care of men – there is a comfort to it and I don’t mind it. While quite capable of independence it is a cold bed fellow and a silent table mate. Still, I try to summon the idea as if it holds promise instead of dread. What else can one do?

Being free of someone isn’t always being unchained. There are links that trail along, glittering in the ashes, and reminding you every now and then of how it Was. The other evening I was thinking about how I’ve really only had a few long-term relationships. I didn’t bother with dating, really. So I hardly have any way to know what to expect for a future. I have always remembered a caveat given me – never name the well from which you won’t drink. I cannot imagine trusting someone enough again…for someone that takes such things as absolutes – when I trust someone I am loyal to them in a way that is rare in this world – so having it dashed on the rocks twice, now, makes me skittish to consider making the effort again. I won’t say never. Merely that it would have to be an incredible man to make me consider it, again. And there would be other…demands.

No, I suppose I mustn’t try to look that far ahead. When I do it brings a kind of vertigo as if I was on a high ledge. There is so much that I must get done, that no one can do for me. It feels quite impossible when taken in – looked at whole at a glance. So I choose to avoid it, to skate on the surface of this semi-frozen pond, and just hope I can make it to the other side before it cracks. There is that attraction – the halting and freezing in place. The ignoring of duty and obligation and giving in to selfish refusal. I suppose a call from my father last night aided in pushing me onward. So old and still sitting at home, drinking a bit too much wine and wondering what he ought to do with his body at death. Because no one will be there to make the decisions, direct the action. No, he gave in to selfish refusal decades ago, giving up his duty, and the price is just that – the wobbly tongued attempt at disregard for his flesh and bones. No, I need to have someone want to know what to do with me. I’d like someone there to say goodbye, that they’d see me soon. Don’t we all?

I shall tell you this about that – in case no one is there. Put me here. And a small wooden bench if there is room so that there is a place for others to sit and watch. I was so happy there – blame the altitude if you wish but…it is a kind of church. With winds that scour the penitents clean.

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Good People

When one is in travail the people who love and care for you will always show up and you will be surprised at the number of them…one goes through life, loving them, caring for them but you never really tack on the “help me bury a body” title until – well, knee-deep in crap.

I give a curtsey to Zed for the early voice of sanity. And my dearest Christina for letting me ramble on and on in emails, knowing I don’t do Phone. Hellion Sherrie even loaned me her husband – no, not like that – to get my laptop back up and running. And thank GOD because it has been vital to every single day of my life as I try to find roles and apply for them. He is a dream of a guy.

And then there are the more ephemeral contacts online – I try to not link my presences specifically to keep the riff raff from causing trouble down the line. But there is a “like-minded individual” I know and their “place” needed a few things to round out the kit. He so kindly came west to buy a few things only to haul it all back ESE. The cash was much-needed and the deals fair, I think. So he gets a special prayer tonight as does his family. His kids…wow. Stunningly intelligent, very well behaved…just…well, you can often tell good people by how their kids behave.

I’m just sitting here, mulling it all over and knowing how lucky I am…it is easy to forget, of course, in the rush of the days, the frantic search for work, and terror of it all not being enough. But in the quiet of the night I can review my good fortune and appreciate it as it is. I know I have a home with a dear older lady if I have no other choice. And I think she might appreciate the company for a time, herself. So I really can try to let that fear stand aside if only I will…

But I do not like to rely on others. It is hard for me, it isn’t comfortable. I like to do things on my own and not have to worry if the other person will come through. Lord knows it hasn’t worked out that well for me in the past. I am learning that it can be a good thing to let go a portion of your burden so that you give the gift of aid to others – people who want to help you are doing so of their own volition – to remove that from them is unkind. And I am trying very hard these days to be as kind as I can be. It means a lot to me to NOT fall into the cynicism and vindictiveness that others might in a similar situation. It does no one any good and, if karma is real, will only bring it back to me eventually. Best that I send myself kindness and grace.

And I must say – I was stunned to see the stack of possible roles Sarge brought home last night. The system the state uses is rather awful. An application can require a ton of data input but it will time you out of your access without any kind of warning. And one role to another your uploaded data may or may not used to fill in the blanks – you have to scan every line to ensure it referenced your data because it just…well, it has a mind of its own. So the process has been a bit irksome. His taking the time to locate roles is a great kindness. Too, he is making a call to the supervisor of a division I’d like to work for to see if there is a way to get beyond the algorithm and the HR Tab A Into Slot B types. Honestly, once I get in front of someone I am quite likable and skilled! Sadly, the computerized sampling is not working for me. I simply don’t have the right mix.

All that is making me wonder – am I looking in the wrong place? Should I be turning in a different direction? But my age makes it very hard to not play the game – insurance is just a requirement, now. We may be years from a rational system (such as writing policies across state lines, editing for childless individuals, etc.) – I don’t think we’ll have a choice but to do it one day. Until then. however, I must do what the system demands.

If I had no concerns? I’d love an outside job. Miserable in the summer, it’s true, but…at least it’d be free of the executive world. And I’ve considered the nanny thing – I am good with kids in some ways but it is also a job that never quite gives you off hours. A writer would be a lovely role. I had an astrologer tell me once that I ought to be in the law. But I don’t think I am sharp enough for that. I am suspicious enough to look at all the angles and I can read people well enough but…no, I may be too set in my ways for that, now.

I do wish I’d had an inkling of all this 3 years ago…I would have gone to school in a serious way and at least had marketable skills. It’d be nice to just look at slides all day and say healthy/sick, cancer/benign, etc. The world of the micro – that has always fascinated me. Nanotech would be a dream line of work. It has gone generally dark after the very heady early days. Oh, sure, there are the cool waterproof barrier treatments that act like a magic trick. But it is so far beyond all that, now…like most things demonstrated for us what we see is about 20 yrs old. The good stuff has got to be mind-blowing.

I like to help people and I have considered work at a hospital. The germs would be ridiculous. But it would be an interesting environment. Always changing…and I think I might look at that next week. Even a secretarial role there would offer the chance to at least learn something now and then. And if I could avoid Austin? Oh, yes. Please.

Well, there you have it – my Friday night ramblings. I am quite tired, now. Felt a bit drained all day and I know it was a lack of sleep. Seems the one thing I really need these days is a solid 8 hrs. But the pod arrived early so I had no choice. However, the pod is HERE so tomorrow can start the loading of the big stuff which will allow me to do more packing and arranging. Kind of hard to do anything when there is no room to move.

Is there an upbeat tone to this post in comparison to the last? Maybe…I won’t say I haven’t had a couple bad days recently – getting rejected by SpaceX was still sad though the odds were completely against me – but I am trying ever so hard to not let those days turn into weeks. I let myself have the sad time, the fearful hours, but then try to find something motivating – even if it is someone who had far worse troubles than mine and overcame them. I keep all the motivators I find that suit me but this one…well, I try to refer to it all the time. It’s by Team Ronin. Saltier than their usual offering, it hit me just at the right time.

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It reminded me that I damned well used to do a whole lot, I took care of my own life, and rarely needed the help of anyone. I am not saying I don’t love the Trad Wife Life because it is everything to me. But I am quite capable on my own – I just prefer to have someone fighting beside me. Well, I sometimes think that our lives are chapters in a book and we get to live them and then we have to turn the pages to what comes next. It might not be the same characters and scenery. The plot has twists. Just don’t try to see too far down the road, I guess. And try to shine. Of course, there is always my favorite Parke Godwin quote from a favorite book which I may get a bit wrong but…

“I’ll light their bloody candle but they’ll damn well hear about the dark.”

Quite.