Tuesday, November 17, 2009

When in doubt . . .

When in doubt, look back. When was the last time your spirit felt whole? When you found yourself at peace on a more regular basis. Mine was at 19. Life was different, of course, but there is a chord - a thread - that remains within me, that links me to her (younger me). Even as life changes and we develop and grow up or older, we harden or become softer around the edges, we shift from right to left and back again, or not, and expand and contract within our beliefs about God, love and the world, even within all of that, we stay the same in some way. A chord that keeps you YOU or me ME. And when I follow my chord back, it is to a simpler time. A 19 year old girl, new to university, living with her sister, constantly re-arranging her apartment and seeking a peace in her soul.

At that time what was I doing. A little bit of yoga. A LOT of humor. Yes, many tears and heart break (and drama) but to feed my art and soul, to remain unblocked, I wrote. But I was writing with instruction and intention. I was reading Julia Cameron's the Artist's Way. I was doing morning pages. And when you purge in stream of consciousness for 3 pages, for 30-45 or 60 minutes and then DO NOT re-read it or worry about it but turn and close the pages of your notebook or put them away in an envelope for a few months, you realize that your day is different. Whining, decreases. Pettiness decreases. Productivity and efficiency improves. You become free from the muck that was cluttering your brain. You are taking a vacuum to your unconscious and letting yourself go.

I was also reading SARK. She is a flamboyant, wild, art loving, brilliant woman. She is knocked for possibly holding to new ageyness, but really she is trying to exude life and walk in healing - allowing us to confront pain and see our connection to the rest of humanity.

In those days I liked bright colors. I liked being outside. I did not stay inside on days I could just because I could. I embraced things. I was still depressed sometimes, but I don't think I was so ruled by fear as I am now.

So when in doubt . . . go back. Back to a time that was successful. A time where I felt whole. Whole will feel differently now. My bruises are different. My hurts tell a different story. My entire story has been written and re-written so many times. But I can go back and pick up those pieces and make them part of a new mosaic. Sitting in pain and accepting it, even labeling it, is good. Embracing and living in it, is not.

For me, I have to loose my hold on other things. Like perfectionism. "Perfectionism is a pre-requisite for pain" (Tara Branch). And I am tired of seeking out pain - academically, relationally. I want to live with intention. With love. Not frustration or bitterness. I do this, but not like I CAN, but I also live up to the negative expectations people have of me. My friends who treat me like I am mentally ill (intentionally or not and who probably do not even know it - because I have not told them) often get a broken or down version of me. Because I choose fear, I choose to not be LIVING and I feel that they will not see me beyond the gray version of me they have cast before their eyes and I give them that girl. She is so familiar, but she not who or ALL of who I am. It is painful, but I rise to this bleak occasion. It is painful that I am treated like I am different and painful that I engage.

Anais Nin wrote, "People who live deeply have no fear of death." Living deeply is a choice. I can't promise to make it daily, but I can find the time that sparked that depth. It feels like ages and ages ago. But I can reclaim myself because no one else can.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Icicles & Airplanes

I was staring out the window yesterday. It was covered with the moisture it collects throughout the night - it is the coldest room in the house. But despite the cold I opened the door to take in the chill. It gets so hot these days, which makes no sense. The trees don't turn these day. Which makes no sense. I hide inside these days, which seems the same and always makes sense - because I like to see the world through my single pane glass and not through walking along the concrete. I walk if the trees are throwing their leaves down at me. I walk if my steps fall on crisp colors and moisture damaged leaves. I watch the parking lot. I miss my old home where I could watch the birds and squirrels and trees and bundle up. My apartment, 15 degrees lower than the outside world, but refusing the insanely high electric bills I layer up and sit at my desk. I read. I write. I look forward. Chased by memories. But everything is the same and yet everything had changed.

There were no icicles hanging from the airplanes, they simply flew high high away and like giant birds they took up too much space. They sped through clouds and passed the sun. I stared up from the ground in amazement, pulled my coat around myself, watched the skies turn gray, felt the rain fall, blurring my vision. I thought of finding an inside to hide, but sometimes there is no need. The icicles just melt around me.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Darkest Before Dawn?

People say platitudes all the time. Things are darkest before the dawn, you'll be better in the long run, things are all going to be okay, it builds character etc. etc. But what get's to me, today when more and more is crumbling around me and the people I love, is this: The idea that it is darkest before dawn rests on the assumption that dawn will come. What if it doesn't? What if it will - but not for a very long time? What then? Dawn is relative.

For the past day I've been saying that, "it isn't all going to be okay." I believe that this is not me being negative, just realistic. See, I'm not a nihilist or even a fatalist, just sometimes a realist. I believe in the reality that, as much as people don't want to hear this: life is hard and then you die. I DO believe you should live intentionally and vitally in that time in between (not miserably or negative). But I also believe that when the dawn isn't coming - or at least isn't likely to in the foreseeable future - that it is acceptable to believe feel in the non-existential sense, that we are screwed. When you cannot pay your rent, buy food or maintain housing. When the people you love are unsure how they will survive between a & b, who has the right, or the gumption, to sweep in with platitudes?

People say platitudes aren't real until you experience them - but even that is a band-aid to a deep wound - and another platitude. Don't misunderstand, I am happy that many people I love are currently protected, have some semblance of security or even safety nets - but in those nets their well meaning compassion and desire to make it better is sometimes not what is needed or even wanted. It's hard to say that because everyone wants to offer hope, no one wants to say, "Wow, it sounds like you really are screwed. Sucks." So it is hard to throw this out there, but it is also hard to hear "it will be fine" when there is no promise that it will be. There is no "how" in that statement, so I wonder where will it come from? Now this doesn't mean that eventually it won't be, but right now, in the muck, in the eye of the proverbial storm - it isn't.

Anyhow, here are my non-optimistic platitudes for the day:
The well has dried up.
It is the calm BEFORE the storm. (i.e.; there's a storm)

I am feeling like reciting Elliot's The Hollow Men, which is never a positive thing.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

It's been a long time . . .

It's been a long time since I have really written here. I was doing really well for a while, and am still in many ways, but I am slipping. I am mainly just afraid. I am really afraid financially. I do not know how I am going to make it. The loan I was going for - the high interest private education loan that I did not want to take out but was going to so that I could pay bills - fell through. I am scared. I need a job - a real (an almost) full time job.

I often wonder what I was thinking by going back to school. I have learned so very much, but I am so in debt and it feels like it gets worse daily (well, technically it does with interest). I wonder that I couldn't have found a better full time job than what I had (where my soul was being eaten) and chosen to stave off grad school for a while longer. But there is no sense in going down that road - aside from the fact that I cannot change what is, would I want to? Choosing to go to George Fox, while an exercise in significant financial mistakes (let's not think of the loans of 2008 - aka horrible, horrible, stupid decisions), it has been a guide to finding the passion of my heart. I am thankful - but right now that is being out weighed by my fear.

What do I do? I guess I go to my interview in the morning. Then I do the other things I have for the day and at every free moment apply for jobs. Apply. Apply. Apply.

I hate applying but mainly because I hate cover letters.

"Life is not what it is supposed to be. It is what it is. How we cope with it is what makes the difference." Thank you Ms. Satir. But sometimes it feels like "what is" is very close to "what will not be" on account of not being able to afford rent . . .

I want to say, embrace life, it's an adventure. Or say, God will take care of me. But to the first I think, yes I want to do that, but this part is less adventure more . . . unemployment, lack of a roof over my head. To the second I think, who am I to say that??? Does that mean that all the people (20% of Oregonians?) who are unemployed are somehow NOT being taken care of by God? No, that is not true. I do not blame God for the state of things, nor will it be God's fault if things go from questionable to bad to worse. It is what it is - we change what we can, we don't change the presence of God, we try to change our own circumstances.

Well, that went off track.

I'm tired and worried. Better sleep so I can be up early and READY for my interview.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Proposal

It was anything but a dark and stormy night – in fact it was one of those nights where everything looked and felt so perfect that you couldn’t imagine it getting any better, and then it did. We were spending my birthday in Washington with Kyle’s family so that my younger sisters, who have been visiting, could meet them, go out on the river, hike, eat vegetables straight from the garden, and play with some farm animals. His aunt, who we were staying with in Chehalis, said that since we would be there on my birthday she would insist on having a family BBQ to celebrate. And so she did – most all of the family was there and I suppose there were signs that it was more than a birthday party but I didn’t want to believe them because I thought I would just be reading into things and then not be able to enjoy how great the night was on its own.

As the evening wore on it hadn’t dawned on me that Kyle had not given me a gift until whilst being sanctioned to the dining-room so my hot fudge + ice cream + brownie combo was allegedly being assembled and topped with candles, he came in to say my gift was outside. All day we (the family at the house) had been talking about the fairies in the forest behind her house and he said that the fairies had a gift for me and led me toward the patch of trees. I laughed and as we turned the corner I could see the forest lit up with candles, torches guiding a path and arrows made of glow necklaces and dancing rings lighting up the trail. We walked down the trail and he helped me up onto the little platform that has a table and chairs usually but was now covered with more candelabras and glowing candles and he kneeled down to pick up a frame that was turned upside down, he turned a switch and when he looked up at me from bended knee he held the big wooden frame wrapped in white lights and the place where a picture should be was a big paper that read: Marry Me?

And without a second’s hesitation or room for any other thoughts in my head I said yes. I never knew you could know something so completely as much as I knew right then that every bit of me, to the smallest corner of my heart to the greatest depth of my soul, knew that I want to, will and am so blessed to get to, spend the rest of my life with him.

His family, and his aunt’s camera, instantly descended upon us and he showed me a picture of the ring he designed (that I go in to get sized for, and give final approvals to, today) and in a whirlwind there were toasts and champagne, hugs, giggles, laughs and congratulations from friends and family. Finally we had the hot fudge + ice cream + brownie combo, but no candles; there were enough in the forest already.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Self Control

It feels like it has been so long since I have written. Many nights my mind has buzzed with ideas - many commentary or fiction or almost-fiction, but the thoughts seem to be lost in translation, they do not carry through from my mind to a paper, or keyboard as it may well be. But one thought I have had lately is on self-control.

Self control is something I have always struggled with; be it in food, shopping or all around healthy life choices. There is still VERY much to be worked on and there are certainly areas in which I need to monitor myself better - but one that has drastically improved is in diet and exercise. Yes for a while I have been that annoying calorie counter, the one who checks the box and picks up everything in the grocery store or while waiting and the cue and reads the Calories section. But lately it has worked - and I'm not even starving! Like I thought I would be and like I felt I was at first. It is a difficult task for me to learn to eat better, to notice that something I usually would've eaten any day is actually a special occassion sort of food, or at least a every-once-in-awhile or treat-food. The thing that has helped is accountability. I have to actually track everything. I put it into my phone that calculates everything (including all of my exercises which I am QUITE diligent about tracking)and I can see how I have done - did I meet my goals? Did I go over? What should or shouldn't I have done? Did I make good choices? Did I need 8 pieces of those deliciously decadent chocolate covered orange treats from Trader Joes?

But this is bleeding over - or at least in my brain. For example, I am terrible about tracking money and as my money is quickly drained from my account and yet my bills seem to only go up I am thinking that I need to better track that too. I mean I am far more responsible than I used to be but if I don't find a job soon . . . there won't be money to pay rent in October and September is iffy at best right now -but hopefully my meager financial aid will come through and cover those two months.

I am thinking that it might actually be coming up on the time to panic, but I won't yet . . . I'll just apply for more jobs and have some faith that something will happen. Someone will hire me. . .

But I digress, the point is that having self control has been huge for me. I won't go into the other areas that I have grown in with this but I am able to be a much healthier person - holistically speaking.

Anyway, this isn't the most exciting thing I suppose, but it is a bright spot in what has been a rough couple of months. But I refuse to sink again! Or at least I am trying my hardest not to. I am at risk of it with my financial worries, but if I can keep it up in other areas it will help me be more positive in this one. Right?

I need to be like Indiana Jones, pour out the dirt to show that there is another step there. But for me, it is just believing that there is a step at all. If I am able to learn this though . . . I think I have made one step already.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

June 23rd

Three years ago today I almost didn't go to a BBQ . . . and I would've missed out on a life time of happiness.

Three years ago tonight, I met Kyle and I knew about 4 hours into our 8 hours of conversation that long evening, that he was going to be trouble. I also knew that he wasn't the sort of boy I could date because he was the sort of boy I would fall in love with.

It took a while but eventually we got it right. And I am awfully grateful to my friend who kept calling and texting me to tell me coming to her BBQ was not optional which is why I finally got in my car and drove the 30+ minutes to her house. Sometimes it is good to have persistent friends, isn't it?

I'll have to tell you the story of that night later, for now I have to get ready for my date.

For all that is wrong in the world, or in my corner of it, there is one thing that is awfully right. And for that I am forever grateful.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The "I Wants"

I want the things that I assign as grown up things. I don't want to want them, but I do. I want the matching, or okay really eclectic not "matching" but cool furniture that isn't, well, hideous like my current furniture. I want a home of my own - but would settle for the furniture in my current apartment. I want vacations. I want to get married. I want a baby. I want, I want, I want.

For the first time in, it seems like forever, I have a future that I want to imagine. And when I do that it isn't really about the "things" I list above. I imagine being done with school, Kyle and I being married, Kyle having a teaching job and me a school counselor. Despite our terrible school loan debts, I don't think about those in "fantasy future" just panic-inducing future. Instead I have this abstract concept of a home and just hope it has a vegetable and flower garden. We have a kid (see I want to be pregnant but not and I want a baby but really like a 3 year old). We are doing creative thins and all of these images are dripping with sunshine and happiness. But with a sense of grounding and reality. It is hard to explain what lives in my head, but sometimes my mind skips right past this and I think of the I wants out of context.

My friend is pregnant. She is hilarious about it. She calls it her sea monkey (I blame Juno), She is 4 years younger than me and while they (she and her husband) have their problems, they have a home and matching furniture. But I don't really care about that, I don't want the life, I want to be younger and pregnant. Because babies are so so far away and health risks seem to increase - when did it get so scary?

And I want us to go on vacations. To go to the coast for the weekend, to stay in hotels and do fun things. I want us to go to Greece because Kyle has never left the country. I've been to more countries than he has states (and I've been to more states, but that's not the point).

I am happy for the most part but when the wants happen I get sad. Yesterday I tried to focus on my daily mantra. And it helped, but mainly buying my friend a cute onesie (really early I know but Kyle really wanted to) with a little giraffe cuddling with an elephant I had a hard time not being jealous - or sad.

We had dinner with a friend of ours on Saturday and his girlfriend has a 5 year old daughter. So all 5 of us were hanging out and Kyle was teaching her how to play chess and it was the cutest things. She was so focused and he was so so so patient. He is such a good teacher and so good with kids and I can't help but jump to what a great dad he will be.

And I am careful to think, "If I get to have a kid or kids" not assuming that I will because that is a dangerous assumption these days. I have always thought in the back of my head, for some inexplicable reason, that I might not be able to, like a hunch I really hope I am wrong about, but just in case I let it be there to ground me.

Anyways, I am so very happy for my friends who are in different places than me and I know that it was not meant to be in my past - kids etc. But I got married relatively young and had matching furniture and all the things that were supposed to establish a life. And while I no longer long for that back I manage to disconnect from that life and yet think how it is so much later than I hoped for everything. I love Kyle, he is a gracious, good and loving man, he is the partner I could never have asked for and I want so much to be a woman who deserves him, and am trying to be her. Though he seems to think I am enough as I am, I want to be a better person because of him. Which can only be a good thing I think.

But then I get greedy like having a good relationship isn't enough. A house that gets messy so fast, chores that I can't get myself to do, feeling overwhelmed in a life filled with time - time that I don't use wisely. I get stuck. And in that stuckness there is a chasm where my depression lives and sometimes it overflows like rushing water and it takes over the sane and grateful woman who lives in my heart and the "I wants" get bigger.

So I will go ride my 10 miles on my exercise bike and do my physical therapy and call about volunteering and try to get some other things done - DMV, buy wooden beads (trying to make prayer beads but I only have pretty plastic things and old necklace pieces and I find them more distracting), trying to become someone who is less of greedy me and more of who I feel I am meant to be or who I already am but sometimes forget.

Because "it is" - that is my meaning of life. It Is. You know the old joke, man makes plans and God laughs. Not because He's mean but because that isn't how it works.

I will go learn what today's mantra is and memorize it prayerfully and hopefully step towards the less of me idea. Because when am I truly happiest? When I am serving someone else. I want to - I want to, want to.

Thanks for reading what feels like a lot of whining.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

p.s. DMV . . . might have been right

I, er . . . may have been confused about the paperwork. Still am. Found a title, maybe, but am totally confused. Perhaps I shouldn't have made the poor DMV man feel bad for making me cry. I reassured him that it wasn't his fault. He either felt bad or thought a crazy woman in need of pharmaceuticals at his window. Maybe both.

Where She Stops . . .

It has been a roller coaster today. I have faith - I am panicking - I am crying - I am calm - I am anxious - I am sad - I am empty - I am full. Up and down, round and round. It is like that isn't it? "Round and round she goes, where she stops nobody knows."

I am guessing it never really stops. But sometimes we fly from one merry go round to another. It feels like one planet to another sometimes. Like we do not know who we are, we do not know what we seek. We want to be happy, we want to be present, but we get stuck. I just watched a movie about being stuck, rather getting unstuck (The Go-Getters).

These words seem to capture these sentiments:

“The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved than it will be”

Marcel Pagnol

“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.”

Anais Nin

I guess as long as we are growing we can try to stay unstuck. But being unstuck puts us on a new merry go round. I am hoping for the next one to come soon - this round has been tough.

Oregon DMV is Wrong & I am Right

They are wrong and I am right but that does not seem to matter. I tried to order a replacement title for the Beetle (where is mine? why is the place where it was in my VW file now empty???) and they said that they needed Jason's signature. To which I responded, "No, no I don't. The car is in my name, has been since 2007." Anyway the very nice man (sincerely he was nice) and I played cat and mouse but because I am the mouse I lost. DMV is going to look at their microfilm of scanned records and see if I am right and they are wrong and if someone there re-added Jason to my title when they were processing it, not seeing his release on the original title that I turned in to them in 2007. Of course the title I have SOMEWHERE would show that it is just me. Just Heather. But would that help? Would they trust their computer more than their document?

So I was writing in my last blog about trying not to cry at inappropriate times. The problem is when you don't cry at appropriate times the original plan backfires and you end up crying at DMV.

It felt like my divorce was so present and like it is never going to be behind me. Been legally divorced since April 15, 2007. Easy to remember, it's tax day and I remember thinking that it was funny that it was on a day that would stand out. That and the following summer Jason said, "Look we have a new anniversary to replace the old one - July 15th - it is April 15th, the divorce anniversary."

Oddly I did not find that to be funny. Much like my experience at DMV. Not funny, just a pathetic 30 year old woman crying because she can't get a new title and therefore cannot sell her car. The selling of the Beetle was part of the master financial bail out plan of 2009.

Back to the waiting.

While waiting for my number, 349, to be called at DMV I read one more thing on prayer in L'Engle's book, "To ask is to be human. To know that answers are not going to be given, and yet continue to be willing to ask, is to move into maturity. . .Only where there are questions can there be acceptance."

I am not feeling particularly mature.

The Root of All

Money is my weakness. Not the great desire for it, though envy does most definitely arise, but the presence of financial security. The world seems to be falling apart. While Madeleine L'Engle wrote that 'sometimes it is good to remember that it has always been this bad.' it does not feel good. Not today. Not when I am looking at my bills. Looking at the need.

Everyone is in need: body, spirit, mind, love and even economy. Lately I have let my weakness overcome me. It has scared me to the point of tears and frustration. I have let it control me, let myself be mean to people I love because I had let something that is both tangible and intangible take over the space I need in my mind for love and for the effort of accomplishments.

What do we do when we have no safety net? What do we do when we do not know what to do. Yesterday this phrase came into my mind and now I think I know why: "The best thing I know is my not knowing what to do." And it is the best thing I know about this. I do not know what to do. And knowing that does not bring me comfort but it can help me find peace. There are things that will go. Things that I like, some that I need. But they can go. I look at them and think, but it is not much money I will save when I cut them out - but it is groceries and gas money. It is getting by money.

I have been reading about prayer. About prayer and what feels unanswered. It feels like the world is going unanswered. The economy is sinking so many and it feels like it is happening everywhere. Aid is being cut. Families are going hungry. More families are losing their resources, the percent of children and families in poverty grows. And I live in fear of anything like that occurring. Happening to us or our loved ones. But what does prayer mean in this?

Perhaps it is the same thing it means in praying for someone with a terminal illness. Sometimes a miracle will occur but others, and more often, the kind of miracle we want - the physical one - will not. And the people we have prayed for do die.

My friend and I were recently writing about the place of God in our lives and he shared the journey that brought God into his. And much like what I have been reading of late he wrote:

"Life is not without its' twists and turns but it is in the storms and hard times that make us who we are. It is in the midst of our darkest hours when we see truly what God can do and what we are truly made of. If we never hurt we would not trust God to heal us, if we never wanted we would never know that God can provide, if we were never lonely we would not know that God is our closest friend."

I have scarcely let myself cry for months now. Trying to learn to control the tears in hopes of being able to control them at times that it is better not to cry. But that means I have not let myself weep. Jesus cried out to God asking why he had forsaken him, telling us that we can cry out to God. We can cry out, we can silently let words and love and needs fill our hearts.

Or we could sit. Pretend that these things will pass or that we, as vulnerable and broken people, can control it all. I see that I cannot. So I will pray. I will not expect answers or sudden amounts of money, I will still hope for things to stay safe. But mainly I will hope for what my friend said above, that in the end of the hour or the day God can be my closest friend. And it will be okay for me to cry.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Jazz, God, Mental Illness and Really Good Black Bean Soup

What do all of those things have in common? Ah, my Sunday night. Kyle and I went to this church my friend Mary had told me about called Augustana Lutheran. Sunday nights they have their Jazz/Gospel Service. It was Pentecost Sunday and sitting in this hot church, listening to jazz & gospel (some much more jazz than gospel) and hearing about the surprise of Pentecost was interesting, refreshing.

The Reverend spoke of how every year the men who came to the Pentecost festival knew what to expect and then this one year it was different. It was surprising. Some blamed in one the wine - but it was only 9am and Peter responded that 9am was too early for drinking to be involved (note he did not say it was impossible or even unlikely, just too early, what kind of parties did they have in biblical times?). Anyway in the sermon this moved to discussion on the uncertainty of life and expectations, to God's surprises. And how the holy spirit came and the young men then had visions and the older men dreams and that it did not matter if they would see the dreams completed in their life times, but that there were these dreams. The one spirit brought the one message and through the use of language was able to communicate to everyone at once, inclusively. The spirit communicated the power of God to change lives and so to change the earth.

Something I found interesting was the big picture perspective that was shared. Rev. Bill talked about how the pouring out of the spirit was essentially the return of Jesus in a different form which enabled us to embrace more of life and creation. He said that we get to see, with new technologies for example, more of the cosmos, we get to embrace something so much larger that God too embraces. A God who loves the world, the cosmos and all that are in them.

So after church we went to this place called the Blue Monk for dinner where I had this absolutely amazing Black bean soup with creme fraiche and cilantro. As I am eating my really good soup this man comes and sits at the table outside the window. He starts taking all the cigarette butts out of the ash tray and smoking their remnants - of which there is little. And he gets increasingly amped up - starts talking to himself, louder and more quickly and starts rocking and shifting, fidgeting. And I started thinking of mental illness. The pain of untreated mental illness. And how many people probably don't even know that they are "mentally ill" by which I mean that by living without many resources they do not get to know there is a different life out there - or were resources available there could be.

And then I thought of how God so loves the cosmos and all within them and yet here I am, surely blessed and struggling with my own very deep sadness and I scared of others who suffer with mental illnesses. Scared and not helping. Retreating to a shell.

On the day of Pentecost the holy spirit, the one spirit, came and brought the one message and it was inclusive. It was not exclusive to any. Why am I?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Something Amazing

There is something amazing about pain. About memory. Memory and its ability to pull out the strings that make the correct neurons fire and bring the pain to the surface. About how no matter how removed I can be, how happy I can be, there are still pieces missing. I think we are never going to be a perfect and completed puzzle, but being incredibly aware of those pieces missing is hard.

A lot has brought this on and it goes beyond one piece of my life or story, my history. It is big. So big that there can hardly be a context. Like all things amazing, it is more than, in my great fallibility and human-ness, that I can start to categorize or compartmentalize. Let alone start to understand.

So instead I will just let it be. Let myself cry. Then let myself sleep.

Good night.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Guilt

So we hung out and I remembered why I like him. He is a really nice guy and Kyle would swear up and down that his friend is not like that jerk who did that to me when I was 21 and that while "He can" is his reason he apparently doesn't just sleep with them and when he sees that there is no future really (a minimum of 6 months being the foreseen future) he ends it. I still disagree, but feel better.

Am I a jerk?

So, here is the situation. I have a friend, well he is one of Kyle's best friends really and I have a dilemma. He is this great guy, super nice, interesting, kind, I like hanging out with him and I like how he is an important part of Kyle's life. But he often dates younger women. He is 31, maybe 6 months or more older than me and he sometimes dates 21 year old girls. When I told him I should harass him for this (trying to be light hearted about something I am REALLY serious about) because it's wrong, I asked him why he dates them and he said, "Well, because I can." And since he is not a lecherous person I do not think he means this in a pejorative manner, just that he can. You know when I say it there it seems there is no way for it not to be pejorative.

Anyhow so Kyle just says that it has to do with his friend's interests aligning more with someone who is younger, but frankly I find that to be a terrible reason. Which personally leads to my having to ask Kyle if he were single and “could” if he would date 21 year olds? Now while his answer is no and I believe him and I know even when he was 21 he was always interested in women a little bit older than him that makes it believable, BUT he is also just a smarter man than one who would say something insanely stupid like, 'Well if I could' because that would be really a bad idea. But I digress.

So his friend asks us on this double date tonight and I think it is with this girl that he had not too long ago started seeing, this girl who is our ages, but when I ask Kyle says no, it's some new girl. To which I respond, "How old is she?" Because I should be able just to go out with friends and meet their dates regardless, but if it is some girl 10 years younger I am so disturbed by it. And I know this is a personal problem - but I also view it as a social problem.

Personal part: Most of my friends know this but why remember it? I was 21 and had this crush on this guy at work. I drove him home once and my crush increased. The next week he asked me to dinner. So I drove out to meet him (Hollywood/Los Feliz area) and we went to Melrose where there was this amazing restaurant. Serious some of the best food I had ever had to that point. And then we walked around and anyway, it was a lot of fun. Then he asked me to come upstairs to his apartment, I said it was too late, but he said we should play a game of chess. We had talked about chess at some point at dinner. Anyhow I thought, 'Wow, he is so smart and interesting. He is 31 and so great and cool, why on earth would he choose to go out with me?' Oh right. I was 21 and he could. But I went upstairs and he had the chess board set up in his kitchen and I thought, 'Wow, he is serious about chess.' Then I went into the restroom. I came out and the bed (it was an old building with single apartments and Murphy beds) was down and lights low. And I asked about chess and he kissed me. This seemed like a good idea at the time. But it got out of control and I wanted it to stop. So I said so, but he didn't believe me. To spare the next part of details perhaps it is good to note that I was a virgin, I didn't just have sex and I realized none of this mattered to him. And I know I said no and I know I said please stop and I know and I know and I know. See he wasn't trying to rape me, but he did not understand that I was really saying no. Which seems impossible. And I thought it was my fault, what an idiot I was for coming up to his apartment. Finally I was able to push him off of me and quickly gather myself and get out. He insisted on following me out to my car (it was a shady neighborhood at best) and he kept saying he was sorry and that he thought we were having a good time. He kept saying he was sorry and was confused. I turned to him when I got to my car and said, "But I kept saying no!" And he responded, "But I thought you were kidding." No, I was just lucky that he wasn't REALLY a rapist. But that is what it would have been.

So when a young girl, of 21, even one who does have sex with boyfriends or whatever kind of hook ups, a 31 year old man should not see this as an opportunity. That means there is something wrong. It is demeaning to the girl. Gives her a false view of relationships and trust. And having worked with enough young women with low self esteem - myself included - who knew their value had more to do with their ability to be cute - and I imagine with many girls "sexy" that they are being taken advantage of. And it isn't like these are real relationships with true long lasting commitments or the prospect of. (Oh here, I have slipped into the social aspect) I simply think it isn't right. And that may be judgmental, but it is how I feel. Yeah, yeah I know there are exceptions to the rule - but there is a reason there is a rule. You know what I mean, not a REAL rule, just something about right and wrong.

So what do I do? I joke that I won't go out on a double date with a girl who has to be "born on today's date in 1988" to go into a bar with us (or you know fits closely into that) because it makes me sad. I have nothing against 21 or 22 year old women and I think that it is an age of maturity and I don't doubt them as grownups, or most of them anyways, I mean I was married at 22 - as were many of my friends - but I just don't see it as the same.

Sure my interests were similar to the 31 year old attempted-date rapist, but not enough.

So, am I jerk?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Bad Blogspot! Bad!

What happened to my blog? I changed my template and figured that was why all of my "info" and links had dropped to the bottom of the page, but now every template puts things at the bottom.
I would rather not be inhibited by these pesky templates but not having any clue how to make one on my own I am trapped - if only I could work better within my trap. Grrr.

Cigarettes

Tonight is one of those nights where I wish I were a smoker. It is raining and I can't sleep. I was laying in bed listening to the wind and the tapping of rain against my apartment building, the droplets falling into the pool and thinking that I would like to sit on my patio and smoke.
I have never been a smoker, but I have smoked occassionally. I always liked the allure of sitting on an apartment porch (not balcony/porch, but usually steps like on a Brownstone or a 1950s apartment, not my 1975 townhome) and smoking. Not like my neighbors who stand outside their front doors and haphazardly smoke, or those who smoke in their apartment and somehow their smoke gets into the vents and into my upstairs hallway . . . but like my false image of what smoking + cool could be.

When I was in my early 20s I am sure I did that at some point; sat on the porch in the middle of the night pretending there was nothing in the world that mattered, trying to fight off the thick wet heat of a California summer. Tonight it felt like a summer storm, it was so hot today and then I came out of class around 9 and it was still warm but raining. By the time I got home it was no longer a summer storm, it was just Portland.

By the by, I don't really want to smoke in that I don't want to be a smoker. I can't stand the after taste, the after smell, the lifelong effects . . . But I would like to sit on my patio listening to the rain and watching smoke slip into the night.

Instead I will envy Kyle's ability to sleep and listen to my smoke-free rain.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Father/Daughter

It has been nearly a month since I posted anything. I seem to start blogs but not finish them. This isn't for a lack of content, well usually that is not the reason, for some reason I cannot seem to complete one. Perhaps this one will be different.

Last night I was watching Last Chance Harvey with Dustin Hoffman. Harvey (Hoffman) goes to England to go to his daughter's wedding and it is clear that they have a strained relationship and it is all around awkward and his daughter is close to her step-father Brian, whom everyone treats like her Dad. So at the end of the rehearsal dinner he tells his daughter that he won't be staying for the reception rather leaving after the ceremony and she tells him that since he has been so involved the past few years that Brian is going to give her away.

I watched this and felt the quiet pain they did a good job of expressing between them. Kyle said something about how mean they all were to Harvey. And I said, "No. You don't know how hard that would be. You don't know." And I cried silently to myself. I cried because not only have I been in that situation - as has my sister and countless women with 2 dads - but because for me it remains unresolved. I tried to separate myself from the film by saying something about how complicated blended families are, but that isn't even the right term. I guess I thought if I could intellectualize it then the feeling that this is close to me could disappear.

The reality is that father-daughter issues don't disappear. That unresolved family issues don't go away. That loyalties do get divided and hearts get broken and children, even grown up ones, get hurt, as do their complex families. So, I was sad. I was sad because it is sad. I was sad because for years I couldn't barely even talk to my father, even mentioning him - through much of high school and into my late teens - I would burst into tears. This was around the same time that we moved in with Chuck and I didn't know how to, and I believed I had to, divide my loyalties. Only recently did I realize that it is probably around the same time that I learned how my parents actually got separated, I imagine those two factors had a huge impact. But underneath it all there still remain unresolved issues.

For example I recently told my Dad that when Kyle and I get married that it will be up here, probably in Washington actually. And he asked why we couldn't just do it down there. I told him because I want it to be up here, it is beautiful and will most likely be on his aunt's property. I also said that we wouldn't have the money to help him fly up or rent a place to stay so he should start saving. He did not seem pleased. He asked why we couldn't just have it in my mom's backyard or just have a reception down there. So I told him we would probably have a reception in California eventually so, no, it was not that big of a deal. He said, "Well, it is your second wedding." I said, "It isn't Kyle's, but you're right it is mine. If you can't make it when it happens it won't be the end of the world, I don't expect most people will make it up. We'll do something in California eventually." And part of me meant it because I don't want him to stress about saving up to get up here when it happens and part of me didn't want him to feel bad, but part of me was sad that he made it sound inconvenient. I doubt that is what he meant though, really.

When Harvey gets to his daughter's rehearsal dinner he says something about how far away England is for getting married and she says, slightly hurt, "I'm sorry for the inconvenience" and he says, "No, no, it was a joke. I was joking." He mostly meant that.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lately . . .

Lately I have developed two habits. The first is losing earrings, the second is gaining weight. Neither of these are particularly good habits, in fact I would say that they are both bad habits.

First the earrings. It started on Sunday. I opened my travel bag to pull out my brown beaded earrings, but only one was there, I assumed its' mate must be at home and knowing I had another pair with me I simply wore those. These are a pair of earrings that I love. They are special earrings, a gift. And all of a sudden one was gone. I looked all over the house but there was a party going on and a lot of people, and it isn't my small house, so it is a big house with a lot of rooms. But the main problem, there is a slight risk that the earring fell off outside. Outside in the forest. Granted it is a small forest but there are trees and there are plants and there is a lot of dirt (mud actually). On account of the rain I had put a hat on everytime I went outside and when I came inside I took the hat off. And hats are tricky with loose earrings, they like to liberate earrings from ears when you take them off by taking the earrings with them and tossing them around the room where no human will ever find them again. 
Now, the hat is was led me to believe that my earring was inside, but we (myself, an almost-10-year-old girl  and a rather nice teenage boy - compared to the less nice teenage boy who did not help me) searched and searched to no avail. Then yesterday I had to find a different pair of earrings to match the same necklace I was wearing on Sunday and I chose a lovely pair that I rarely wear. But last night when I went to take them off, there was only 1. And not even in the same ear, so it is not the ear that is faulty. 

Second, the weight gain. I was doing well. I was exercising and I was eating better. And then my family visited and we ate fabulous foods - frequently and in great quantity. And I enjoyed it. Unfortunately when they left, I kept enjoying it. And then I hurt my arm and decided that no good exercises can be done with an injured arm because most exercises involve movement and movement causes my arm to hurt. And the only reasonable low-pain exercise I could think to do would be riding my stationary-bike, but alas it still only has 1 pedal. Which, I have to say, makes it an unpleasurable experience and so I use it to put sweaters on when I come home. Ironically, I believe this is what many people choose to do with stationary-bikes, the handles are just so useful. But then a sad reality happened. I bought these cute slacks just a few weeks ago for something (there was an amazing sale at The Softer Side of Sears and these gorgeous slacks were like $4!!). The other day I went to put them on, and, GASP, they were too small. How? Oh no! How???? Then last night I ate dinner and my stomach ended up not having enough room for the amount of food I consumed. And it wasn't like I was a little old man who wanted to unbutton his trousers, it was pressing on my lungs. The year I gained 20 pounds (which is a lot to gain in one year) that used to happen. And then today I ate left overs, not a GREAT amount, but it happened again. I couldn't even drink coffee! No room! But was I full? Only for a brief moment. I have been ravenously hungry CONSTANTLY. Hungry hungry hungry like a little purple snapping hippo. 

This is a problem. This cannot continue. Something. Has. To. Change. I need all of my earrings to stay in my ears and no more weight to be added to my body. In fact I would like to gain earrings and lose weight. Why is it not that easy? 

Thursday, April 9, 2009

It was a good run

I got to feel "normal" for 2 months. It isn't like I feel terrible abnormal. But more like the me pre-normal state.

I'm sure it'll be back. I liked it a lot and I will find the motivation to return. But since about 3:00 yesterday it slid back in. 

It was a good run. 

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Getting the Imprint

An argument was raised in class last month: is a therapist born or made? The fundamental components were broken into 2 categories: empathy and skills. 

I do not believe that empathy can be taught, it can be developed but you have to have "it" - it is innate. So empathy either is or it isn't. Skills, for the most part, can be taught.  But you need some sort of a natural framework. Like you come with the basic internal foundation from which skills can be learned. 

Now then, can a therapist be made? Sort of. If one has empathy and the ability to hone the skills, then yeah, you can. If they don't have empathy? I think it is a disservice to clients. I believe that being a counselor is a vocation - in the sense that it is a calling. That is why I think that the born argument is significant for counselors. 

So where do I fall into this? I have always believed that I am meant to be a helper, particularly with youth. A therapist? I don't know. A counselor of some sort? Yes. Lately I have been convinced that while I think I came pre-made in the empathy department - I was seriously concerned about my skills. Can I do this? Nothing in my role plays really says I can. And I began to believe that I am trying to make myself into a therapist. It made me sad. How could I have been such a fool? 

Then in a conversation I had on Wednesday it was brought to my attention that I am basing this on very false situations. Role plays in a class are not the same as real life counseling. When have I been the happiest? In working with youth and often as some form of a counselor or mentor. There is nothing that has made me happier career wise. Even when I worked in the crisis center and it was violent or messy in many ways I came back because I believed that I could connect with those kids and that being there with them was such a privilege that I needed to do it and that I was good at it. And I loved it - well, a lot of it. Talks with kids there stand out as some of the most meaningful moments in my life. 

Then today, the final day of our Advanced Family Therapy class, I was doing my final role play and it clicked. I definitely missed a lot and when my professor came in she showed some profound areas in which I was lacking (she did not point them out, she role played for us and I saw them) but for a little bit there I felt natural. I felt okay in my own skin. Even as I fumbled through some techniques. I felt like I had skills!! 

At the close of class my professor said that she hoped we knew that these role plays are not really examples of how we are as therapists - and that this is why she cannot grade us on them (an opinion not shared by other professors apparently). She also said that this is a time for being befuddled. While you are in a role play it is when you are getting the imprint. The imprint of a model or a theory or of some of the process. Learning how to mirror what you hear. 

So, am I a therapist? Or a counselor? I still don't know. To be a good therapist, you have to be a counselor. But you can counsel in different ways. Career wise, to be a counselor is a different job where you aren't really doing therapy. 

On that note, I need to decide what I am doing soon. I go back and forth on switching my programs still from school counseling to MFT. Much has to do with the job market, much has to do with my family therapy class. It is the class I have found hope in.

It is also where I found some sadness because every MFT student that I have come to know even in the slightest way is going onto internship next year. No more classes with them. It makes me really sad. In large part because I am supposed to be with them. And if I were there would be no crisis. If I had already been in all of the classes there is no way I would have even considered switching programs. 

I apparently beg existential crises to come my way. Well, whether or not that is true what is learned today is that there is hope for me. I needed that hope. 

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Phoenix

I have been thinking a lot about the mythical Phoenix and how it exists in our own lives - even when we have no idea that it does. Some one once wrote that the Phoenix represents, "our capacity for vision," and that it creates, "intense excitement and deathless inspiration." 

Now I am not exactly sure how this (the Phoenix) came up but it keeps returning to my mind once or twice a week. This weekend it was following a conversation with my sister. She said that moving to, and staying in, Portland took courage. Which is ironic because I moved here in large part out of fear. Fear to continue my life as it was and knowing that if I were anywhere near by I would go back to it. Regardless of all of the other things that were going on at the time, part of me had gone missing and I guess I thought a little could be found somewhere else. But I never thought of it as a courageous act to look for it - I thought I was kind of a coward and a disappointment. 

A small part of me believed that it was huge for me to be so far away because I had never done anything on my own before. I hated ordering food without someone else's opinion, mainly my sisters (still do really) and yet I did the unthinkable, I left my entire life. I am the only one in my immediate and immediately extended family to do that. We have always all been within a couple of hours of each other and here I require a flight or a looong drive to visit.

It was never my intention to stay. But it was my pride that kept me. I couldn't go back. I had done so much damage that the idea of returning to my own ashes was too hard. How could I? So I stayed. And here is where I feel like the Phoenix, though without the amazingness of being the Phoenix.

Things fell apart; I mean really, they were at their bottom. And for the life of me I could not imagine them ever getting better again. There was no reason to stay and there was no reason to go. I was such a wreck and so alone that going back would involve more humility than I could muster but staying meant more pain than I wanted to feel. Pain trumped humility. 

It is nice to hear it called courage. Then I could rewrite or reimagine my history as courage trumped fear. The courage to keep going and not stay in my loneliness but to keep going to therapy, to go back to school to cut out a hurtful friend when I really had no other friends to fall back on, to trust love, to carve out a life. Or to make a stretch here: To rise from the ashes anew, like the Phoenix.

I think my favorite Phoenix legend is the Greek one. In one telling of it the problem for the Phoenix is that it gets lonely because it is the only of its kind and for another one to be made it must die. When it feels death coming it builds a nest with the finest aromatic woods, sets it on fire and is consumed by its own flames. From the pile of ashes a new Phoenix arises, young and powerful. 

Whichever legend you choose the Phoenix is associated with starting over, resurrection, new beginnings or what not. For me, in my audacious claims of feeling a similarity to the Phoenix, it is that I had to know it was time to let things die to build that fire, embrace it, and begin to live again. 

Sometimes I am unsure of where I am in this process or if I am repeating it many times. But I know that there is courage in living life in general and it takes courage for me to be this far from home - and it isn't even that far - and to keep living and building. I guess you could say, to keep flying. 

Like the Phoenix I have felt so lonely. As if I was the only bird of my kind. Unlike the Phoenix I am not. But because I am the only me, I still needed the process - build the nest, go into the fire, start again. 

The first the nest was really, really hard to build - especially since I knew that once it was done there was fire waiting for me. It has been scary. But despite the pain of the consequences that I always feel the need to recognize, despite that, knowing the life I now know is worth stepping into the flames and starting over. 

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Tale of Two Kitties

She was the best of cats, she was the worst of cats. . . 

Yesterday I heard a terrible clanging sound - it was my vertical blinds smashing into both each other and the window and from where I sat on the couch I could see this flash of orange and brown fur bouncing into the air and hear it smacking into the window. 

As I approached the window calling for Chakoah to stop, I assumed there was a crow (her arch nemesis) or one of the big outdoor cats that sit on the patio taunting her, but no, to my surprise there was this adorable orange tabby kitten. She was shivering beneath a chair I have on the patio. It had been raining and was cold and she looked scared. Chakoah being the relatively evil creature that she is ran up and down the length of the window essentially posturing at this poor kitten. She even tried to run her head into the window. She was so wound up and as the kitten crept to the entrance end of the sliding glass doors Chakoah got more and more amped. 

I took Chakoah upstairs and put her in a room so I could see if this sweet and adorable kitten was alright. I opened the window and she came up to me. I dried her off a bit with a towel. She had clearly been walking in the muddy pathways of my building and she looked up at me with the cutest little face, mewing. There was no collar and I thought of bringing her inside to dry her off and then go ask my building manager if they knew to whom this kitten belonged, but I was afraid of three things:

1. My landlords.
2. Bringing her inside and risking Chakoah discovering her presence and attacking her.
3. Leaving her outside and her running into the street. 

As I have learned from a previous heart-break with a patio kitty, cats that come to you so easily have humans and I assume hers are in this building and she just got locked out as the rain hit. She wanted to go back outside, so I let her which seemed wise. At least it was sunny by this point. Besides, I don't much care for kitty accidents of any kind inside my house so it seemed best. And I didn't really fear she would run out of the building.

So she went outside and I let Chakoah out and she spent the rest of the day Chakoah looking out the window, poised to pounce, should another cat dare to come near her window. Yes, fierce kitty behind glass that she is. 

And me? I thought of how much I would love a sweet, loving and adorable kitten. Don't get me wrong, I love Chakoah, but she is sort of like an unruly ewok - which is just not the same. 

Rain

I have felt normal for almost two weeks. Now I realize normal is a relative term and may sound like an odd or dramatic description, but I have been pigeon holed by myself and others so greatly that I am very aware of the subtle differences in my day to day. Especially when I either interrupt my days to check or intentionally reflect on them. 

I have recently become more in touch with the reality that people who know I have a diagnosis have decided that they can define me by that diagnosis. Even when they are usually incorrect and when they have taken away the human element. This is particularly true within those I know in the mental health field (or say, who are students thereof). 

I say all of that because as I have moved away from seeing myself as someone who fits a specific DSM criteria, I have realized what a grave mistake it has been to, so often, be so open about my struggles or simply my "label". (Ironically I am being open about it right now). And, I know, it is me who needs to move away from labels, like a particular diagnosis or even descriptors in my life of big events that need not be tossed around because they become identifying characteristics when really they aren't. 

But were I not open about some of this, I could not write the following.

Three weeks ago I was very stressed. In fact so much so that I was in a lot of pain as a result from it and the chiropractor I went to see pointed out that my pain was essentially self (i.e.; stress) induced and something needed to be changed. But I didn't have time. I had too much homework. I studied a great deal for a week and didn't sleep very much etc. And then on a Monday morning, two weeks ago, I woke up early and left my house at 6:45 for my 9am Midterm. As I drove to school it was this amazing crisp morning, it had stopped raining not long before and the sun was beginning to cross the sky. I found myself practically dancing in my car on my way to a class I had been really stressed about. 

After the exam I went up to the rose gardens and looked out over the city. I enjoyed the day and found some perspective. That is when I began to feel normal.

Normal. I mean that in the last two weeks I have had regular days where parts were a sad and parts were happy but they are what I imagine a "normal" person's life is like. I know I am "normal" in the general sense of the word, but when you live beneath a label and people, friends even, point out their views on you based it on "criteria" it is hard to feel normal. But I have. And I have loved it. And it feels real. Ups and downs are wrapped up inside perspective. 

There are some things I am going through that I am really not very happy about, but I am also aware that other people go through similar things and that I will just continue to live one day at a time and figure out what to do and where to go. But as I embrace Dr. Berardi's reminder that "life sucks and then you die" I can focus on how to respond to the in between - because that's what matters. (Really it is actually an inspirational reminder that I should probably share sometime)

So tonight I watched the move and I felt and I enjoyed feeling. I have spent too much time in my life being numb and feeling deeply is something I love to do. I love to feel seering joy, but to really experience it you have to know terrible pain. Most of us have known that and how much more does our joy mean? I can feel sadness deeply and know it is part of it, but not all of it. 

It rained hard on my way home; I watched it crash on the asphalt. I played with the condensation on the inside of the car window. I moved through my feelings about the film and about my current life situations and allowed them to sweep through my head and heart. And I felt the rain in my bones, and I came home.  

Rachel's Getting Married - a reaction

Tonight I saw Rachel Getting Married. It was a compelling and moving film. The depiction of sisterhood - with its' ugliness, richness, joy and severe pains - plus its' unspoken rules - was stunning. I don't believe I have seen a film that captured the dimensions of family dynamics in the same way. 

Within each family there are, of course, roles, rules, rituals, lies and secrets as well as truths, histories and healing. A family where something tragic has happened and where there is continual fracturing has a certain capacity for pain where each wound tells a story and each healing a memory. So was the family in this film.

I cannot articulate what I am thinking about this film at all. But as I watched it in my cozy red-velvet chair at the Kennedy School and listened to the rain pour onto the roof of the building and dance against the windows, I was able to slip away into this family and feel their reality. The passion for life and desire for death were feelings I could taste and even remember. Remember feelings that were possibly never my own but because on some level, on some collectivehuman experience, I felt the shame, embarassment, hurt, love, joy and hate that flowed through the veins of these characters.

I also identified with the brokenness and the loss of self that addiction, disease or a disorder can hold on you. Especially when it has become who you are and I know that the reclamation of self is hardest in the presence of family - because you are who you were and they know what they knew, but present and past have blurred and therefore futures feel disorted. 

I don't think I can continue to try to explain it; all I can say is that it is a rare film. While not a new story, it is a new experience. 

Friday, February 27, 2009

No, no, you DON'T feel safer in the dark

For some reason I thought that when I heard the sounds outside that I would feel safer if my lights were off. Initially it was so I could see out my window and other's not in. I am upstairs in my apartment, my desk is in front of the sliding glass patio doors that face the parking lot. I can (could - it stopped now) hear someone repeatedly knocking on someone's door (my neighbors I presume) swearing and saying, "I hate you!" Now it wasn't shouting, just yelling. 

But I turned off my light and couldn't see anything - probably because, well, the patio is right there. I went downstairs to make sure the front door was locked - because I am super paranoid and just in case it was my door being knocked on (by all of those people who even know where I live? of the handful of people I even know in Portland, and of those the ones that would search me out on a Friday night because they hate me so? PARANOID). Then I came upstairs and to get a better look outside I had turned off both my desk and the room light - then I turned off the hall light. 

Pitch black. 

Hmmm. Not feeling safer. No reason to feel unsafe but if there was, that didn't help.

Did I mention that almsot all of my walls are glass? Okay one full wall in each room. The living room? Literally floor to ceiling sliding glass doors (I have higher ceilings than your average apartment - it's a town home). 

Perhaps writing this was just a further attempt to avoid studying. I studied for roughly 18 hours yesterday and a few today already. Sigh. 

But no one is taking that midterm for me, are they? 

Are they?

Out of Touch

I seem to have disappeared off any and all social scenes. I have been burying my head in books lately. Which has been much needed.

 I made myself sick from stress - I am so skilled! I realize that comparatively I have nothing to stress over. Nonetheless I need to learn to manage it better because it is manifesting physically. I went to this amazing chiropractor - he runs a local pain clinic. I hadn't been sleeping because I was in too much pain and he talked with me and we worked on things to help.

 I need to really start working on my head and heart - on my breathing as well. That should help. I think in part it is that everything feels like it is in such a state of dissaray. My house is a wreck and I know that cleaning my house is sort of like washing out my brain and soul. It creates more space. Sometime between studying and, well, studying this weekend I will get some things done. It would be rather helpful if I got a dresser or something for my room. My socks are sad and long for a drawer of their own. And let's not mention the boxes.  . . sigh. I have to get to it! I have external motivating factors. Sarah is visiting in less than 2 weeks, my sister in less than 4 and then a month after that my best friend. It is weird so many Portland visitors. It's exciting though! 

 Ok, my flashcards await. Yay psychopathology. On the block for the next 45 minutes before I drive to campus to turn in my projects: Anxiety disorders. It's okay, you can be jealous. 

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Overwhelming Cometh

I have no motivation and not enough time to entertain such a state.

How does one become motivated to do things that they have no interest in? Like study.
When did I stop loving this?

No, that's not true. I do love it. I am just unhappy with not feeling settled. I liked it when I felt that MFT was my fit. Or close to it. It was a (hard and pricey) means to an end. Now? It doesn't feel like enough.

I meet with my adviser tomorrow. I am afraid of the GFU staff now though - I am afraid to say that I have doubts because I don't want to be told to take time off school and figure it out. Because that isn't necessary. I have always wanted the same thing. Always. It's just the right avenue for it feels foggy.

Sigh.

Now I'll go read about Suicide and treatment. Oh the cheeriness of graduate school.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My Sentiments Exactly or Sort Of

Remember Peggy Ann McKay? Except the difference for me is that on Saturday I WILL be at school. Just like Friday - from 9-5. So for me, insert "Thursday" for "Saturday" and "fiendishly study" for "play" and it is totally the same (but it doesn't sound as good).

Sick

"I cannot go to school today,"
Said little Peggy Ann McKay,
"I have the measles and the mumps,
A gash, a rash, and purple bumps.
My mouth is wet, my throat is dry,
I'm going blind in my right eye.
My tonsils are as big as rocks,
I've counted sixteen chicken pox
And there's one more--that's seventeen,
And don't you think my face looks green?
My leg is cut, my eyes are blue--
It might be instamatic flu.
I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,
I'm sure that my left leg is broke--
My hip hurts when I move my chin,
My belly button's caving in,
My back is wrenched, my ankle's sprained,
My 'pendix pains each time it rains.
My nose is cold, my toes are numb,
I have a sliver in my thumb.
My neck is stiff, my voice is weak,
I hardly whisper when I speak.
My tongue is filling up my mouth,
I think my hair is falling out.
My elbow's bent, my spine ain't straight,
My temperature is one-o-eight.
My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,
There is a hole inside my ear.
I have a hangnail, and my heart is--what?
What's that? What's that you say?
You say today is---Saturday
(THURSday)?
G'bye, I'm going out to play
(fiendishly study)!"

Shel Silverstein

Monday, February 16, 2009

Questionable

I am wondering . . . who would graffiti the computers in my Graduate University? We have a few programs here. The graduate department of counseling, the seminary and a master of arts in teaching. Which ones do you think are the culprits? The graffiti by the "disc" part of the computer looks like a poor effort for greek - that makes me think it is those damned theologians! I must say that I am disappointed - disappointed indeed.

Enough to storm out and not go to class? Well, that would be a false reason. I just don't WANT to go to class. But I woke up, got coffee, ran errands and got to class in time to print my homework - oh and I paid a lot of money and have invested a lot of time and heart into my education - so I might as well sign off of here and head upstairs.

I am reluctant because I am unhappy with my professor. I am trying (though not that hard) to develop an open mind and just go to class and see if this week is better.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

She's Out

I shouldn't have looked. I have way too much to do. But I did look. I did and I found out that she's out. That girl. The girl who assaulted me. She was paroled within 10 months. She was given 6 years. 1 for assaulting me. She didn't even serve that. I figured she'd get a parole hearing in 2 years - so soon. But then when I was looking into the victim's network so I could be notified, I saw how low the numbers are of female offenders. Then I thought there was a chance she wasn't locked up but in the transitional living program - which didn't make me feel great. But then I found her, finally after searching every where. And there it was, Jordan Ashley Moore, 18, paroled, 1/17/2008.

I gasped and felt something terrible when I read the word "paroled" and I had to look at it again. And check the date again.

I just can't believe it. I can, but I can't.

I want to say I shouldn't be effected. But that's ridiculous, I can be effected. And then part of me thinks I should be more effected than I am.

I'm not scared - I really don't think she held it against me. I mean, she could have, but I don't believe she did because I believe her apology letter was sincere. But I also don't believe she could possibly be rehabilitated.

I also don't think I would recognize her on the street. Isn't that weird? Someone has that big of an impact on your life and you can't pick them out of a line up? Of course the last time I saw her she was sobbing because she was receiving her sentence, which was clearly a joke. The time before she was shrugging at me and looking smug - but I was in shock (the initial hearing before she read my delightful victim's statement). The time before . . . well there was a lot of bleeding involved and before that, well, the rest of the night isn't so clear.

I don't feel like sleeping. I have to and I have to get it together and I have to write my papers and prepare for my meeting tomorrow and update my resume. But I just need to sit here for a little bit.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Dehmanization in a school training people to work with humans

WOW. The title says it all.
People ARE disorders.
THEY - THEM - THOSE People.

Good times.

Monday Blues?

Wake Up relatively on-time
Leave for School
Ice on Car
Ice comes off car rather easily
Drive - can't see out front window because it refuses to defrost
Take a different route to the freeway
Surprising lack of traffic
Get to school
Get out of car
Slip on ice
Injure knee
Accidentally swear in Christian College parking lot
Grumble around car
Fear ice
Get to library
Turn on apparently already on computer
Crash computer
Coyly move to another computer
Print
Go to class

Expected fun:
Finish paper
Finish assessment search
Read looooong book
Hope for an episode of Frasier to fit in
Go to sleep

Wake up & Repeat - hopefully with a clear window / visibility and no ice slipping


My knee hurts.
Have a good day!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Change. Stay. What? No. Change. Stay. Scream? Yes.

I am in a huge career confusion. I am looking into transferring / applying to be a School Counselor instead of a Marriage & Family Therapist. Yes, my dream of MFT pushed to the wayside for a sudden (huge) shift. I mean same school etc., only taken a few extra classes so far that don't count. And to switch the number of classes left actually decreases but nonetheless this is HUGE. And the question comes up, will they let me transfer? Will they see this as a sign of instability or flakiness and "suspend me" (kick me out!)? Or will they just say, you've been an excellent student so far (because I have) and if this is where your heart is, let's make it work. What are the chances of THAT one?

The funny thing is everyone I mention this to says the same, or a similar thing. They say it fits, it makes sense, they wonder why I didn't think of this before. They don't say negative things at all or that they doubt I could be an MFT but just how much sense this makes. As one friend said, it is when I talk about teens that I light up. And she's right. I get animated and excited because there is no population I would rather serve. And in a school? I would love that.

How did I not see this? I was so dead set.

Okay, back to work. Just because these classes don't count if I switch doesn't mean I am allowed to slack off - they're still important!! Though I am enjoying them less - and was before this idea struck - this epiphany. Not enjoying psychopathology? THAT is insane. But true.

Friday, February 6, 2009

A Goodbye Letter from a Dear Friend

My Beloved Coffee Drinkers,

It has come to my attention that my days serving you are coming to a close; now I would like it to come to yours. I realize that after many, many years of service that I have been loved and appreciated by you, my beloved coffee drinkers, but it is time for me to hang up my carafe and turn in my lid.

I have loved my time in your kitchen - and many kitchens past! How carefully you've packed me each and every time we've moved, oh, there have been so many. You've given me a chance to meet such a variety of Stoves and Microwaves, even a juicy Blender! The fun times we have had. I have felt special and loved by you, and when I see your faces in the morning and I hear your sighs and your kind words, I am happy for the joy I have caused. The way you lean your head back as you inhale the sweet aroma of my freshly brewed coffee. Your kindness as you say, "This is a good cup of coffee," or, "Oh no it's empty!" whilst disappointed in a loss of your liquid goodness. And the way you perk up as I finish percolating . . . there is nothing quite like it. I have been proud to serve you.

However I take pride in the quality of the coffee I serve and lately I find that grounds have been showing up in the pots I brew. Grounds! This is unforgivable, it is a disgrace to any maker to serve coffee so unrefined (with the exception of my Turkish cousins who meet the needs of a very acquired taste). This and the permanent stains on my lid and the one too many times I have been left on all day until my coffee has burned away, have shown that it is time to let me go. Let me leave with my dignity. Go to the store and buy a new coffee maker. It's okay, it is my time and I will hold no ill will against you.

With love and appreciate of our lengthy relationship, I say goodbye. Toast a final cup with me and then, let me be.

Your Coffee Maker,

Proctor Silex, II.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Franny

I am feeling very Franny today.

If you have read J.D. Salinger's genius work, Franny & Zooey, this should make sense. I am feeling like her in the restaurant.

I am feeling fragile.

The Beautiful Messiness of Faith: Cast them Out

The Beautiful Messiness of Faith: Cast them Out

Friday, January 30, 2009

This is the LOUDEST library in the world

Much like being at a small enclosed zoo the noise around me increases, rapidly it grows louder and louder. And it isn't like it is just the sudden swarm of adorable children who have filled every aisle of the library - it is the adults who are lacking in their herding responsibilities. In their teaching of library etiquette. :)

Now, I am experiencing Facebook withdrawals, I want to post things like: Heather is in the loudest library in the world. OR Heather is finally getting homework done. And so on and so forth. A desire to explode with my random thoughts and share them in this mind cluttering space. Don't get me wrong, FB and I are on a break, we aren't broken up. Though I am wondering if I spelled it "brake" by mistake. Nonetheless it is to break this obsessive control that immediate gratification and fun distraction holds over me. That and the jealousies that have cluttered my little heart and brain. Or even just all the time I look at the lives of people I don't actually know, their pictures, their comments on their walls. Now, really? Need I do this? It is a collection, like I should have a menagerie that can hold all of them. I believe for many people this is a fine avenue, but with my obsessive nature (and that is what I know I have) I need to not be looking at it. I adore the fact that I have reconnected with people and I would like to attempt to maintain that. But I need to focus on other things.

Well, as a response to my last rant/post. It was very much about the lives of people that I do not know - my friends who have successes I am happy for, my friends who have struggles I embrace and want to know how to encourage them through it. I see the humanity in the people I personally know and love and do not resent any gifts they have. And I recognize that those experiences have not come without strife or have not yet allowed them to reap what seem appropriate rewards. I can see all of this in the "human" relationships I have with actual people - not facebook strangers.

Okay, I am finding it no longer conducive to be at a library studying when there are 7 kids on one side of my table talking and flipping through magazines. And the poor 11 or 12 year old boy across from me is trying to focus on his book.

Okay, I'm leaving.

Hey, thanks for being supportive and understanding. I love you guys.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Self-Pity Be Damned!

For 2 days I have been unable to do anything. Literally, anything. I have watched tv or stared blankly into space. Occasionally started to cry but have not been able to maintain interest in even that. When I did bother to think it was pathetic and pitiful thoughts. Often thinking of what my life "should have been" and of all of the great and exciting lives of other people. People I grew up with. People who went to better colleges, or pursued their dreams ACTIVELY, people who APPEAR to be living the life of their dreams. And me? I stay in my hermitage, wasting all of this time. Unable to get myself to leave the house, to study, to look at this amazing city I live in - I let myself feel overwhelmed because I believe that not a thing will get done because I cannot get myself to do it and thus all of the projects which loom over me - the real deadlines will not be met. When I start do something I just slip back into the void of nothing that has become me. I am sick of it.

Kyle thinks that things like facebook have been a bad influence - in part because in this state of pathetic self-pity I am not reflective on the goodness of life, the good fortunate of others or how we each carve out our own lives and destinies. How dreams change and how part of growing up is knowing that plans are never set in stone but move and grow and alter. Instead they are about my seeming failures and how behind I feel, how I let my dreams die - and not recently but many years ago. How I went to a less respectable university than I had dreamed of, how I did not pursue writing, how I go to a graduate school that provide a good education (with most all of my classes) but is nonetheless not noteworthy in and of itself. And I mean this in the bigger flashy sense. The sense that does not REALLY matter except in my green mind of random and childish jealousy. How I compare my responses to things in class and feel aware of their inadequacies when I listen to the intelligent responses of others. Even when they are things I have done professionally and others haven't - how much better theirs sound. It feels disappointing. It feels pathetic.

And so I beat myself up and briefly whine to Kyle and I mope. That and this god awful depression that I let own me. I do, I allow it ownership in my life. And I am sick of it. Sick of it all. I complain that I am so unsuccessful and have done nothing noteworthy. Which is an insult to those I love and to anything I have done. It says, "this life, you who are in my life - not good enough." Which I don't feel at all. I have put myself in the cave and can only see the shadows and I have chained myself to this view - I have mistaken appearance for reality and let myself stop living.

This is a life not worth observing - that is not the life I have been given. Not the life I have been blessed with. It is the shadows I have embraced and the untruth I have make truth. And it has to stop.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Oh Ziggy play that Guitar

As I sat in the rather fancy Starbucks* less than a mile from my home listening to Al Green pumped through the surround sound speakers drinking my Grande Non-Fat with Whip 6 pump Mocha and falling into a state of self-pity I decided to close my $79.99 text book and put it away in my book bag by its $153.00 companion text (all purchased compliments of my high interest student loans) and walk across to the Walgreens to purchase my very expensive medication. As he retrieved it the pharmacist said, "Wow, that's some pricey medication." I winced swiping my debit card thinking - okay there is enough money in my checking account for this but maybe not rent . . . - when the pharmacist said, "well, it could be worse, without insurance it would be $400." To which I replied, "Yes, while I miss my old insurance, I'm thankful for this nevertheless." And I walked out of the store and began to think of how thankful I am indeed. And it sort of slapped me in the face, how dare I wallow in my self-righteous middle class self-pity? I mean yes I may have some sincere financial woes coming my way and really need a job, but for today I was able to purchase my medication (although my insurance's $2500 limit on med coverage should be up by now and I am just hoping they won't bill me later and this month I will begin researching low cost medication). Nonetheless, for 30 days I have medication.

I began to think about the multitude of other things I am thankful for - even just those I saw walking down 39th Ave. Like that fact that I have somewhere warm to walk to. I have food at home. I have insurance. I was not being attacked (by humans or wild animals - often an irrational fear of mine while walking day or night - oh of humans not like wilda-beasts). I am thankful for my coat and gloves. For the little girl in the winter coat walking ahead of me holding her dad's hand and licking a popsicle in 47 degree weather as her family walked into the MC Escher apartment building next door to mine. The boy in the fedora-like hat waiting for the #75 bus. For the Starbuck's* gift card that supplied my tasty mocha of utter perfection. For David Bowie's music that put a bit more pep in my step - because how could it not? - playing through my little MuVo mp3 player.

Here in my life of middle class wonder I am aware that the world is falling apart in many ways. That the economy is scary. The wars are scary. That there is so much scariness around. But that I have to see the little things. I have to be so thankful for them each step of the way.

Now, I have to study. I'm not as thankful for that, but I am for my education so I guess I should work on the attitude about studying.

*I know, I should feel shame, corporate coffee, but there was a gift card involved so I'll think of how they treat their staff well and do the whole fair trade coffee thing. If only the didn't make such perfect mochas . . .

hope is the thing with feathers

How did Emily Dickinson do it? I leave my house far more than she did - granted it is to go to the pet store or pick a DVD up at the library - yet I cannot write with any of the beauty she writes even on her scraps of napkins and paper. It isn't fair to compare myself to an amazing poet. I think it has more to do with material. Where did she get all of it? Her desk faced the wall, the window behind her! However there was scandal, wasn't she excommunicated? Or was that just wild 19th century gossip? In love with a married man? Yet she never left her home? Hmmm. Nonetheless I shall eat my toast and read my books and - wow, even as I think about it I realize why I don't have anything interesting to write, I mean considering that I am reading for what should be an exciting topic - Psychopathology! but has a terrible text, an undergrad "Abnormal Psychology" text that is patronizing to the mentally ill in its very first sentence of chapter 1, but more than that it is dreadfully boring! I suppose what you are putting into your head impacts your thoughts, impacts your writing etc. So I will just post Emily's popular poem:


Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.


As for me my "free-reading" books that are up next on cue are two of P.W. Singer's
books and one not scary book:

Children at War -and-
Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century

THEN

My Best Friend's Girl (by Dorothy Koomson - not political but supposed to be Brilliant)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

pieces

Do you ever feel like pieces of your life may never completely come into their own?
Like there are things that will never quite fit right again?

This will sound convoluted, but it is like a mosaic. A mosaic comes together from the broken parts of many different things. An image, often beautifully fractured yet whole, comes to be. But sometimes it feels even though mine is an ever forming mosaic there are pieces that will never be able to go. They are parts of of a different story. One that I treasure but don't know how to reconcile and thus don't know how to make part of this emerging narrative and image.

When I think of my past and what is often referred to as my "former life" I think that as time passes and I build a new life - what happens to the sacredness of those memories? Because one cannot live in the past and must forgive themselves the ugly and even the beautiful they have to take it all and wrap it up into somtething whole and, then what? Set it free? Bury it? Carry it?

Today the subject of this past is my marriage - a relationship of nearly 7 years with someone. One that as time passes slips away into a deep and distant history. It's supposed to I am told. It has to I know. But the fragments that remain continue woven into my very identity. When I got a call this morning about some pictures that he is sending me, ones he found when going through the old albums, pictures that did not pertain to him but me on hiking trips with youth groups etc. I felt the pang of an eraser. An eraser digging into my memory. And then I felt the pain of having left him to clean up a shared life - where I got to move to an empty city with no furniture, no buildings to remind me of special times, no corners to turn that will freeze my spirit or snatch the ability of my brain to move forward. But him with an apartment of memories, of a table and chairs we searched for, a couch we fought about, in a room we shared. While he is less sentimental than me I have a difficult time imagining staying in a place that held so much.

What Leonard Cohen says in, "Is This What You Wanted":

You were the promise at dawn,
I was the morning after . . .

And is this what you wanted
to live in a house that is haunted
by the ghost of you and me?

Which I played for him a year or two ago and he thought was sort of ridiculous. Mainly because LC also sings about tangerines I believe. Nonetheless, there are pieces of this story that I do not know how to keep and do not want to forget. Because forgetting erases meaning, or so it seems.

And thus my fear of marriage comes in, but that is probably for another blog because this one is quite lengthy and quite heavy. Particularly for me.

And by the way I do know how this sounds, like one who has not let go. But is it so bad to not know how to hold your history especially in light of my current happiness in love. I want the same for him - and I would really like it sooner rather than later. But that is in part for selfish reasons.

About Me

My photo
Portland, OR, United States
I am a daughter, sister, friend, wife, counselor and colleague. I am a work in progress. There may be some pieces out of place and things might be messy, but it's okay. I would rather accept that I am still unfinished than think that this is it. You can find my comments on faith and spirituality on my blog: http://themessinessoffaith.blogspot.com/ And my comments and anecdotes on life at: http://sheisaworkinprogress.blogspot.com/

Books That Matter. Well, some of the many that matter.

  • Magical Shrinking: Stumbling Through Bipolar Disorder, Chris Wells
  • Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen
  • An Abudance of Katherines, John Green
  • Dave Pelzer
  • Franny & Zooey, J.D. Salinger
  • I Was Told There'd Be Cake, Sloane Crosley
  • The Cloister Walk, Kathleen Norris
  • The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are, Daniel J. Siegel

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