Thursday, July 24, 2008

In which our heroine contempletes an alternate reality

My temp gig this week has been cushy, really cushy - as in my reception desk has granite counter. It has been incredibly slow in terms of actual work - as in I have picked up the phone maybe ten times in any given day. there is a fully stocked kitchen - as in oatmeal, yogurt, sodas, trail mix, canned soup and even some fresh fruit.

Everyone has been very nice. I realize that the woman I'm covering for has tasks that I am not trained to do but it seems like a really nice gig - as in makes me think of getting a job like this one. A steady paycheck, paid vacation, and insurance, feeling kinda tempting right now. Until I think of really being here every day at 8am until 5pm. That just doesn't feel like a healthy way to live. Granted it would be a short commute to this investment management firm (I know!) but it would mean being out of the house 9.5 hours a day. Everyday. That's when I think back to my plan to find more conference planning gigs, build my doula business, and go back to grad school. More appealing but less secure. But less commitment, have I mentioned I have a commitment issue? Truly it's the main reason I don't have a tattoo - though that may change by the end of summer.

TGF pointed out two contradictory things - 1. I did work full time when at Smith College School for Social Work (for 2.5 years and 2.5 years before that at another job); and 2. once one gets out of the habit of that 40-hour a week thing it can be really hard to go back. Well it's been going on nearly a dozen years since I worked day in, day out. So yeah, it would be hard. And yeah, if I had to I would but I would probably wind up bouncing around from job to job, because like I said I have commitment issues.

Oh, I'm getting taken out to lunch tomorrow by two of the staff. Can you believe it? I mean I'm just a one week temp! It's crazy. It's great. So M.S., anytime you want to take a vacation, just let me know. Really, anytime.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Losing ties

I have been putting off this post because well, it's hard. While at camp I emailed my father to wish him a happy father's day. In response he asked me to call him at a specific time. This cannot be a good thing, I thought. It wasn't. My family isn't big and isn't particularly what you would call close knit but there are a few members that I feel close to without the benefit of lots a contact. One of these people is my cousin Judy (who I wrote about here). Her husband had taken ill, very ill. My father forwarded me the emails so I was able to catch up with the daily reports.

By the time camp was over he had been moved to hospice and was on a morphine drip. He passed away a few days later. It is hard to imagine her standing in their home, hosting parties and David not there. I know there is a time in my life that they weren't married but it is outside of my memory. Reading his obituary I am sad that I did not know him better all these years. I wish I had known that Judy & David originally met at about 12 years old and reconnected years later to spend four decades together. I wish for so many things.

Last week (or was it longer ago) my father called to update me on Judy as he had visited her while she was sitting shiva. He also said he really couldn't imagine her without him. But the other piece of news was that there had been another death. While Penny was not family in a blood tie way, she was family. Mike and my father have been friends since high school, or maybe it's earlier I no longer remember. Mike met Penny and they married about three months later. When I was young we spent lots of time with Mike and Penny. I held their children when they were newborns, played with them as toddlers, and loved on their dog - a basset hound named Penelope.

Penny and I re-established email contact when my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. I spoke to Mike over the phone when my father was in the hospital in October. It was the first time I had spoken with them in easily twenty years - it was comforting to hear his voice unchanged with the New York accent fully intact despite residing in Atlanta, Georgia for over a decade. In the last dozen years or so Penny had had all sorts of odd physical ailments but rallied and maintained her sense of humor. The latest problem was her digestion had randomly failing, creating blockages. When asked what killed her by someone, my father said "stubbornness". In a way it's true. She put off going to the hospital because she was tired of going, of being poked and prodded. She waited too long. Literally there is no time in my life that exists without Penny's presence, without the memory of her laugh, without knowing she would do anything for me.

There is an old wives tale that says deaths come in threes. So I waited for the shoe to drop. Greg and Janet's amazing tuxedo cat has been terminally ill since April. Friday they had to put down the handsome, rambunctious Apollo, he was 16 years old. I asked TFG if this could count as my three. She said she didn't think it worked that way. I am holding out hope.

It's official, people in my world who die are not the age of my grandparents but are the peers of my parents. It means my parents and other people I love dearly could leave me forever. How did that happen? In many ways I don't feel old enough to be in this place. But I am. It has had me reviewing all sorts of thing about aging, moving on in one's life in positive ways, about commitments, ties to family that have nothing to do with contact, ties to people that are not blood family who's loss devastates a piece of your soul. So many things have been floating around my mind and it's hard to be coherent or elegant about it. I have put off writing about all of this so what you have is this stew of facts and thoughts.

Everyone, hold tight your memories, call the people that mean the world to you, take the risks that scare you, don't drown in regret, enjoy the moment.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Down came Humpty

Well I was feeling all good and stuff. But yesterday the cranky came upon me and this morning is feeling like it's taken permanent residence. So much for the "balanced" me Andi saw that first Sunday back from camp. The crabby, uneasy me is back in town and has making me (and TGF) miserable.

Some of it is, I think, not enough physical outlets. I am missing the opportunity to dance like I haven't missed it in years. Thought about going down to Riverscape in downtown to check out the free Zumba class, but it's already warm and muggy out. Being unmotivated has left me ignoring DNE work, abashedly shirking home improvement projects, and my knitting lies in heaps in a various bags. The only thing that remains consistent is the two of us taking Wyatt on a walk for at least 30 minutes every day.

I just feel like blah. There is much to do, but instead I am aimless and worried. Yesterday while chatting while drinking a yummy Green Tea Mango drink at Boston Stoker after scoring some cheap vintage yarn (for the second time in a week!) I said to Dawn maybe I would assign myself a weekly blog assignment by going through my bookmark folder titled "Writing Ideas". Assuming the links still inspire of course. Sounds like such a good idea, right? Yeah sure. Maybe next week I will be brimming up with ideas and spouting off posts right and left.

Okay, my goal for today is to do DNE work. Really and truly. Yeah the Appalachian Festival is today and so is the Cajun Festival but it's dark out and not inspiring. Tonight is the July Porch and Patio party which I was so looking forward to but now...well not so much. The rain has just started....

Monday, July 07, 2008

Scenes from a temp job

2:04 So bored. Once again while feeling like I will lose my mind I wonder if I could use the time to meditate, or at least focus on breath but the atmosphere and lack of activity leaves me feeling like I will explode. Probably perfect time to concentrate on breath and ignore the "lite" radio station, snippets of conversation from my coworkers, the people coming and going on the other side of the plexiglass windows. Instead I am writing about how painful it is to have almost nothing to do since 8:00a.m.

2:18 Tried it. Focused on breath, where I was holding tension. Very distracting environment, knowing I might have to answer the phone at anytime. But hey I tried.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

It's me, it's you. Nope, it's me.

Various sources say different things about dreams - all the players are you, or all the players are someone, even if not the person they seem. I find that it is often a mix because quite frankly I usually prefer sex with others rather than by myself and I just can't see me turning me on that much, even in a dream. I will own that some of the scenarios are fantasies of mine but that is not the same as wanting to make love to myself.

Last night I had a hard time falling asleep, not uncommon, especially these days; but what is more uncommon is it felt like I had two separate dreams, interrupted by a period of wakefulness, that seemed like a part of one and two. At least I think there were really two dreams that fell on either side of lying awake analyzing the dream.

The dreams involved trying without any success, to reach my friend ACL. The dream was about her because I feel out of touch with her, though it's only been a few days since we had contact but I know this is going to be a common state. We met while at NCDC and connected very deeply, talking for hours at a time, dancing together and just being quiet. She's a busy woman and I hope to be, so this is all the way things are. Also life at camp, whether NCDC or DNE, is not real life and one can connect with people (like ACL and JE) very deeply but it is not a state that often is continued when one reenters the rest of their life.

It is also not about her at all but is about me. I had some absolutely deeply powerful times at camp and headed home with a desire to find time to at least attempt those states while in my "real" life. I wrote about the meditative states, the deep emotions that I allowed myself to sit with while there. What I didn't write about was how very often being at camp (apparently either one) I often feel more connected to my body. I eat better thanks to the amazing cooking of Charlie & Marion along with the rest of their cooks. I am outdoors more. My wardrobe is more me than it can be say tomorrow when I have a one-day temp stint at a medical facility where I think I will remove my nose ring or change it for a stud. But perhaps the biggest piece at camp is dancing. At NCDC I danced more at the evening boogies than usual. Even better was Wednesday night where I got to that place where I stop thinking about my lack of technique, stop bemoaning how much training has ebbed away, stop caring about what I look like and just move. Explore what my body can do, go deep inside and just flow, play. It was an amazing, amazing night for me. I danced so much my legs got wobbly. I danced so much I was high. Tired in that perfect way.

Since I have been back I have stretched, done some yoga and spent far too much time on searching out links, events, anything to middle eastern dance more than any other subject. Sure I love middle eastern dance, but it's not all I want to do. I signed up for an essentially dead Hoop Ohio tribe in vain hope (something I want to learn). There are far too many yoga tribes for me to figure out where to go and I'm still not sure what I think of yoga. Perhaps I just need to find the right form of yoga. I did really like the place I went to in Brooklyn NY a million years ago. I desperately want more money flowing into Green Jay so we can catch up on bills but also so I can go DO things like this.

In The Women's Book of Creativity another chapter I recently read spoke of how to carve out time alone, for meditation. Of course she like so many others talk about a separate room, or a even a corner of a room. I am not sure how to designate such a space and I suspect part of my block of imagination is that I'm not sure how much I would use it so how can I claim such a piece of real estate in our home. Clearly this is an excuse because of course I can, the bigger question is will I use it and if I don't will I feel like I have failed. The true answer is I will use it occasionally in all likelihood and that any use is a success, non-use is simply an opportunity not taken but not failure.

So while my dreams were about missing a connection with a new friend, they were even more about worry about my connection to myself. I guess this makes this post meta-navel gazing - writing about a blog (a high tech form of n.g.) in which the entry is all about how I want to be a better me. Yeesh.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Notes from Women's Creativity Book, part II

Okay it's been awhile and I did keep reading but then I stopped, then I had to return the book to the library. Blah, blah, blah. You know how this goes. Long ago I had written notes which I'm going transcribe here and potentially add more since the reading I did the other night sparked much pondering.

Ealy talks about women being more process than product; how when close to completion we tend to lose interest and not finish, or that sometimes we rush through the end. She offers seeing the completion before starting which seems like a good idea except perhaps I'm more product oriented but lack the discipline to get there. I imagine the end result - garment finished, fit body, renovated home but need to spend more time how to get there rather than by inspired by the end concept.

I am annoyed by the references to "gifts" women specifically have in terms of creativity. It feels just as sexist and simplistic as sayi
ng men have special abilities or constructs that allow for creativity to blossom.

Ealy begins talking about solitude being necessary for creativity. I get that and found in reading The Peabody Sisters of Salem a great example of the specific difficulty for women who have children to do their art (Sophia is the sister I am thinking of). I also get that true solitude is hard to be comfortable with in this culture. The united states is not geared that way as a nation.

Now I wrote the above about solitude about two months ago, before my trip to California where I carved out a great deal of solitude and allowed the feelings to flow, worked on staying with harder emotions and not just running back to work or finding people to randomly talk with to divert me. It was a powerful and important thing to do. It is a goal for me now to find ways to create that in the rest of my life. I have always loved being alone in my home, wherever that is, but it is not the same as being silent. Silence is something to be avoided, at least for the most part in my past.

Since retrieving this book the other days from the library I read the chapter titled, Quieting the Inner You. Rather apt given my goals, no? She talks about "creative concepts always being available but we have to learn how to listen to them" (I would change to learned how to listen for them). This is akin to conversations I had with ACL (sorry about typing that wrong last time, though with this spelling I think of the knee ligament that frequently is a source of pain. I know. My mind is a scary place. ) about psychic messages, about being able to "tune in" and hear/see things. We both believe that everyone has the ability but few people actually spend time accessing it, and actively seek to make that a stronger piece of our lives. This is parallel to what Early says. Of course accessing these powers, or flow is all part of the same process whether one uses it for design, psychic tuning in, writing, etc; it requires a silence, an attention, a clearing, a willingness to feel.

Clearing my mind is a hard task but I have learned a few things that work. Ealy references a breathing/counting pattern that is similar to things I have used. Another technique I learned is from Birthing From Within (great, great book) that is called something like focused inattention. Yes, I should look it up, maybe later. It involves focusing for a moment what you see, feel, hear and going to the next sense sensation. I find this works for helping me fall asleep when my mind likes to spin convoluted webs of stress and regret which make me anxious. Instead I let the thoughts come and ask myself to go to the next physical sensation I have: the breeze on my leg, the sound of rain hitting the window, listening to my dog pant, noticing the pull of the sheet as TGF shifts position. By the time I have done this a few times, an unrelated thought may wander in and I can cast it off using this process. The idea is not to dwell on any one thing, not to spin from that initial sensation or thought but to move as gracefully as possible to the next and the next, letting the mind float and skim, not bogging down in any thought regardless of how hard or happy.