Archive for November, 2011

Stupid like lists

This time of year I think it standard practice for most people to reflect on their blessings.  It is so easy to wallow in sadness.  It’s easy to obsess or contemplate on what one doesn’t have. 

I, too, am guilty of this behavior. 

I didn’t ask for my hardships (if you can even call them that) or these struggle laddened scrolls.  When I look at what I have compared to others around me I should be shamefully lashed.

It’s true—- I am that spoiled teenaged brat.

Maybe it is human behavior to focus and remember the negative.  To pick something apart leaving a near perfect experience flawed. 

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to not exist.  To never have been.  To just not be.  There can be no worry or hardship in any of that.  To be off a hook I never asked to be on.

The if only, the only if, the I wish I hads, the I wants, and the I woulds —pop up and out— like evil green gremlins.

My unrest pushes me forward in positive directions most of the time.  I can obtain these things I desperately want though hard work and persistence (I do believe this).  I have been guilty of hitting the whiskey when I have been really lazy and low.  I allow myself these moments to slip up.  I am flawed and recognize it.  I am smart enough to know Motrin is always waiting for me the next morning.  It doesn’t happen often— and now— rarely ever at all.

I was rummaging through my writing.  I have projects that are taking shape.  I can see what they might become.  I am getting excited.  This weekend I ran across my list of “old likes”.  I drafted these when I was at my low.  I am amazed at how many of these items focus on my physical warmth and comfort.  I wonder if this is the same for mankind. 

To obsess and focus on how the outside world treats us.

I had a client in my office that was in such a bad state.  I remembered my “like assignment”  so I gave her the same one.  I tell her to go home and to write me a list.  I hope when she is done writing it she will see how ridiculous she is. 

I hope it will help her.

So in my moment of despair and stupid human condition this was it—this was my pathetic list: 

I like hot baths with lots of bubbles
I like day old lasagna and spaghetti
I like wine and tea lights
I like dinner with friends
I like high heels
I like being a mother and glad that I am
I like the sound of my children’s laughter
I liked my grandfather’s whiskers on my cheek
I like a good book
I like how I feel after running three miles
I like being in shape and thin
I like my Rockford office
I like ponchos and turtle necks
I like vacation adventures
I like children

I like a neat and orderly home
I like a legal challenge
I like to dance
I like flowers
I like that my loved ones spoil me on my birthday
I like most perfume
I like fine jewelry (even though I don’t have much)
I like my well worn shoes
I like my well worn jeans
I like my Picasso print
I like Katie’s art and her giggle
I like Jackie’s smile and sweet goodness
I like Sarah’s focus, drive and sensitivity
I like that my father is soft
I like that my mother is hard and predictable
I love my sister and her open home and heart
I love babies
I love the beach
I love warmth
I love feeling cherished and safe
I love sharing ideas and discussing all sorts of topics with my friends
I love live music
I love lots of good food at a cheap locale

I love the smell of a new car

I love Chicago

I love Vitale’s pizza

I love to flirt
I love butterflies and fireflies
I love when he opens the car door
I love a big soft and comfy bed
I like the silver rings I bought in Mexico
I like the necklace my friends bought me in Spain
I like my timeshare
I like my crappy little car
I love my friends
I like that unexpected good things come my way without my asking
I like that I am smart
I like soft blankets
I like helping people I don’t know
I like being a lawyer
I like my office staff
I like makeup
I love music
I love road trips
I love experiencing new people and things
I like the feeling of fear and the adrenalin rush that comes from jumping out of a plane 
I like a back rub with baby oil
I like spoiling the girls
I like learning about gardening
I like that I can speak Spanish
I like hot coffee with milk and sugar (even better with whipped cream and chocolate drizzle)
I like it when I can be just me
I like it when I am understood
I like the truth even if it is ugly
I like to laugh
I like smart and witty people

I love fall and hot cider

I like white rice swimming in salt and melted butter

I like nachos and cheese

I like the scar on my face





“I’ve had cancer. You can’t guilt me.” I remember my teacher saying that.  She was retelling the story of a conversation she had with her sister.  Her sister wanted her to do something time consuming and, ultimately, purposeless.  The invitation wasn’t about spending time together; I believe it was about recruiting extra hands for a project the sister didn’t want to do on her own.


The response from my teacher stemmed from her newfound ability to say “no” to invitations that cost her time she had no desire to spend.  She did not want to waste a day on a silly project.  She wanted to enjoy a day of life her way.  She knew how quickly the days could slip away, and she was in a better position to calculate their value than most of us.  When she passed away just a few years later from the cancer’s second round, I was glad she had spent her time her way.


It wasn’t that she was cruel or selfish with her time, she just defined her boundaries better after she was faced with the cost.


A few years ago I got tired of waiting for a travel partner to magically show up in my life.  When my family couldn’t be bothered to decide whether they would be having a Thanksgiving dinner or not, I got tired of them, too.  Instead of continuing to nag them into a decision, I let them know I would be spending my holiday in England instead.  It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.  In the end, my brother-in-law also came.  He was a great traveling companion and the trip was as amazing as I had hoped it would be, but the best part was that I didn’t waste my time on a dinner that may never have happened.


I became more conscious of my time after that.  I have an unfortunate habit of cramming too much into a day.  The only way it works out is to allot my minutes carefully and stick to the schedule.  I know roughly how much time I need for each person, errand, and job, including time for myself.  I also know how to keep my schedule flexible enough to adapt to the detours that inevitably arrive.  It’s a system that works for me.  I don’t nag anyone into anything.  If they want time I give it to them, and if they don’t I fill it with something else.  Doing something alone is much better than wasting time waiting for company.


Since I’ve moved home, however, I have been wasteful with my time.  I have tried to be even more flexible to accommodate all of the children who affect my schedule – nieces, nephews, children of friends, etc.  I have repeatedly said “it’s ok, I understand, life happens, don’t worry about it.”  When my friends have goals that coincide with mine, I tell them we will do it together.  When my family needs something done, I tell them I will fit it in.


I find that I am constantly waiting.  I am waiting for everyone to get their coats on.  I am waiting for someone to arrive. I am waiting for my phone to ring.  I am waiting for a text to arrive.  I am waiting for someone to tell me to go ahead.  I am waiting for it to be my turn.  I have waited until everyone else is ready.  I didn’t mind waiting because no one was keeping me from anything important. But now they are.


I have goals now.  I want to hunt them down and kill them.  I am ready to be precise.  I am growing resentful of the people around me.  I feel like I am waiting at the table for the scraps of time they have promised me.  I hate feeling this way.  Every person’s life is important.  There are reasons for the delays, the reschedules, the missed calls.  It seems callous to not take them into account.


But when is it okay to tell someone you love them, but you aren’t waiting for them anymore? My friends, my family, the guy I’m dating – they all mean something to me. I don’t want to cut them short or hustle them through, but I want my time.  I haven’t had cancer, but I appreciate my minutes anyway.  I could be learning Spanish, or finishing my quilt, or going to the gym, or picking up an extra shift at work.  More importantly, I could be sleeping.


I don’t need to sit here waiting for calls that never come or time that never arrives.


I am ready to buy another ticket to England.




I woke up this morning exhausted.  My feet and back ache. 
I put 26 hours in at my second job.

I love this soreness.  I love this exhaustion.  I love my weird broken life. 
I like that extra paltry pay check.

I woke up thinking that I haven’t been this happy for a very long time. 
I feel peace and freedom.  I am surrounded by fun and laughter.
We are planning another adventure.

(The state of Colorado and it’s rapid rivers are calling)

It seems like eons ago.  Another lifetime perhaps.  It feels like that past life didn’t really belong to me.

I am awake and it’s quiet.  There is no shouting, there is no yelling, there is no throwing or the smashing of my things.  I can sleep all day if I want.

(I do it on purpose:  I can sprinkle all the sugar I want on top of our counter-tops).

I don’t have bruises from his nasty pinch marks on my arms.  I don’t have his hand prints on my legs or thighs.  I don’t have to worry about keeping his anger from my family or the girls.  I am not scrubbing mud (he purposely trapsed) out of our expensive white carpet.  I don’t have to paint, cook or iron at 2 a.m. to get “my” domestic chores done.  I don’t have to eat left overs.   I don’t have to worry about a male store clerk giving me too much attention or looking at an attractive man too long.  I don’t have that sick feeling in my stomach or any shortness of breath when I hear his tone.  I can bring office work home.  I can talk to whomever I want on my phone.

I am making slow and steady progress on paying down my personal debt.  It feels good.  I have this profound sense of accomplishment.  I am more than happy to pay. 

(I giggle.  He didn’t know I would have paid ten times ten)


I received an e-mail last week.  My parents are millionaires.  They are coming into more money.  They allude or suggest I that I will receive something. 

They want me to do some legal research and tax planning.   I am not sure if they promise something because they feel guilty about asking me for my legal help. 

I love them and would do it for free. 

I know my mother is thinking about death.  Her sister is now facing it.

I secretly fear their money.  I see their strings.  I am not a marionette.

I don’t want my newly freed spirit to be jarred, canned or trapped.  I don’t want contradictions.  I don’t want to be compromised.


I wouldn’t say “yes” to my Alec. 

(I too have buried my own sorrow) 

His gives glass beads and blankets full of small pox. 


For some strange reason I have to be true to this spirit.  
This inbred pride. (I like to think it comes from some Celtic clannish code).

This wind and strong breeze now send me westward. 

Colorado calls.




S. P. A. C. E.

My ex-husband would tell you that I am a very selfish person.  I am sure that he is right.  In this life I have been horribly selfish in many different ways.  I am not really into self-sacrificing.  I find that behavior leaves me emotionally unwell.  I would try my best at compromises letting him know what I would or wouldn’t do.  What I could and couldn’t do.

Friendships and love affairs are never altruistic.

I want to be happy and fulfilled.  This is such a complicated topic.  Happy and fulfilled can change on given days.  But I am really not that complex.  My existence is often validated when I solve client problems, get my hot bath, help my children with their homework, eat a good hot meal and receive an e-mail from a man I truly adore. 

These men are hard for me to find.  Maybe it’s my birth order, my zodiac sign, the waves, the moon or the tide.

I have no idea.  I don’t know what it is.  I don’t know why. 

I am hunting for rare finds.


This one tells me he has this need for space. 


I know what this usually means to others when I ask for it. 

1.  It’s an excuse for a conversation I don’t really want to have. 


2. It’s really just a request for something I really need.

If it’s an excuse it is usually because, in my soul, I believe the person is another toxic monkey. I am looking for something more evolved.   Someone I don’t want to shield from my family.  My body becomes tense.  They are too numerous to count:  Slackers, drug users, racists, sexists, non-tolerants, unethicals, and just plain liars.  I have no time or room for these kind of men in my life.  I am not physically attracted.  I am not intellectually attracted.  I don’t need much time with them to figure them out.  

My body and mind tell me “no.” 

But if this need is a pure one I can identify and respect it. 

I asked for space when I was at the University of Michigan.  That was simply arranged with a predetermined time for a late night phone call.  It was a date night every other weekend.  The rest I filled with massive amounts of studying, homework, term papers, working two jobs and going out with my girl-friends. 

I thought very little about his need to see me.  I mean, after all, I was very busy.  His need was not the same as mine.  I didn’t fully understand it.  I had things to accomplish.  I didn’t understand why he didn’t see there was just no time or desire for someone else.  He was it.  But I still had other things that I needed to do.
This marriage became a lock box.  I was slowly suffocating and didn’t even realize it.  Instead of granting me my need for space it was constantly being crammed full for his storage.  There were always his projects and demands.  I faced constant conflict and tension when I expressed my need or want of getting rid of his clutter.  Everything became a fight or heated argument.  I was just caving to maintain a simple family peace.  I had to kick and claw for everything and anything else.  My space was filled with his clutter and household crap.

I needed to be with other people.  I needed time with my parents.  I needed time with my girl friends.  I needed time with my sister.  I needed time to fill my mind with more knowledge.  I needed time to spend donating my resources to the needy.  I needed time to be by myself.  I needed time just to cuddle, hold and care for the babies.  I needed time to write and work on projects.

When I told him these things he became hurt and angry.  I was constantly reminded that “he” should be my focus.  My time was reworded and reworked into a definition of “his” time.  He was feeling unimportant.  I was feeling like his maid and his prostitute.

I would try to explain that he was my focus.  That he was important.  But that I just had these other things to do.  That I needed this time and space to be just me. 

I felt if he really cared and loved me he would understand. 

Unhappiness is as dark and empty as a lock box

I am fully aware that I am responsible for my emotional health, well being, and intellectual development.  I don’t look to others to shoulder that.  There are people I find I adore.  There are people that I find truly black and ugly.  I was tired of being responsible for his emotional well being.  I was tired of being the source of his unhappiness.


Today, I am standing on life’s sidewalk.  I want to spend more time with the one I adore. 

Now he is requesting space.  I need to understand his reasons for it.  Is it an excuse?  Is it a true need?

I am closing my eyes.

He can fly his kite in the vast blue sky filled with puffy white clouds.  I want to watch unpinned butterflies.  There won’t be a field of fireflies to put in any jar.  It’s open beach.  It’s an open ocean. 

This vast need for a freedom to express.  This need to be surrounded by other forms and people.  This need to be exposed to other adventures and experiences.

I don’t want any locks.  I don’t want to hold any keys.  I know what it feels like to be in a lock box.

He shall have his needed space and I will become a better person for it.



Arbitrary deadlines move me forward, but they mean nothing.  By themselves they change nothing.


But they give me hope.  They quell my anxiety and make me feel constructive.  I have composed and imposed them so many times.  But lately I haven’t been able to form them.  I haven’t used them to move forward.


But it’s okay.


The last two years of sitting on the sidelines and ignoring my inner demands for productivity have led me to greater discoveries than I ever could have made just by pushing forward.


I had to stop and let my thoughts catch up.


My inner sureness is back, and it doesn’t come from the knowledge that somewhere out there a man loves me.  It comes from the knowledge that I love me.


I have a peacefulness I haven’t had – maybe ever.


I feel more comfortable trusting my intuition and leading with me, instead of someone else’s voice.


I don’t know where I’m going. But I know I’m okay. And I will be okay.


And everything will be okay


There will be joy.

There will be sorrow.

There will be change.

There will be stability.


Through it all, I will be


In Storage

It’s okay.  It’s temporary.  I have so much to do – so many things to figure out – these details don’t matter.  I can make do with anything.  I don’t really want anything, so I might as well be happy with this.


A year and a half ago I moved home.  Not just to my hometown.  Home.  I live in the bedroom I grew up in.  That is my space.  I also get the nearby half bath.  The room is fairly large.  The bathroom isn’t bad.  I was (and still am) grateful for the free accommodations.  How many people have a safety net like this?


What made me stop and take a deep breath was that my mother hadn’t bothered to make space for me.  I assumed the space was there.  My parents lived alone in a four bedroom house.  The minor detail I had somehow missed on my brief weekends home was how thoroughly they had filled it.  Both closets in one of the bedrooms are filled with Christmas décor.  Boxes tower in front of a built in dresser.  The hallway is stacked with totes.  I had two days to settle in before I left for a networking trip in D.C.  I considered my options, and the fact that I had two more hours to return the U-Haul that day, and I unloaded my stuff on top of their stuff.


That was a horrible idea.  I quickly become overwhelmed by spatial chaos.  I can arrange people and projects without a blink, but a messy desk can paralyze me.


When I had my own apartment in Denver everything had a place.  I took the time to organize, settle in, and even decorate a little.  My apartment felt like home.  I enjoyed having people over.  Sitting on my couch was restful.  I could watch tv without feeling like I should be doing something else.


In retrospect, I can see which “homes” only felt temporary to me.  The messier my living space was, the less organized, the more stark, the less I felt like I would stay.  And I rarely did.  I typically moved every 6 months.  When I stayed longer I would make half-hearted attempts to make my space more functional.  But a few places, like the apartment in Denver, truly felt like me.  I spent time making them feel like a home that reflected me and provided the cozy functionality I prefer.


I have made some half-hearted attempts here.  I have gone through sections of the room – donating, trashing, shredding, organizing.  But I get bored, distracted, or put off by the temperature.  My room used to be an attic.  In the summer it is hot and humid.  In the winter it is frigid.  My closet door, closed to contain any streams of heat created by the space heater, opens just long enough for me to throw in the clothes I don’t think I’ll want for another week or two.  Any clothing used on a more consistent rotation gets strung around the room, where I can reach it without risking a toe to frostbite.  That closet could have been the inspiration for The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.  If I pushed through the clothes I’m sure I would find snow.  And even with the heater on I am rarely in the room more than 5 minutes in the winter without climbing under the blankets.


But my bigger problem is just having too much stuff.  My room holds abandoned mail, the random spices and kitchen tools I have retrieved from the basement boxes but might want to use again before I move out, my winter clothes, my summer clothes, my books, my sewing projects (including my sewing machine and containers of fabric), my photographs, my writing notes, my jewelry, my movie collection, my hiking boots and pack, the out-of-season window air conditioner, jars of hand lotion, my gym bag, my workout gear, a crate of tote bags (it’s an addiction), empty crates for future organizational projects, and a half-formed pile intended for goodwill.  The walls are bare other than a rectangular frame designed to hold my larger earrings and the sapphire blue shower curtain I strung across my window to block out extra light after a particularly bad migraine.


The bathroom is not any better.  Half of the closet is filled with sheets that don’t fit the bed I am using.  I’m not even sure the fitted sheets still have elastic, but my parents have yet to concede that any can be re-homed.  The rickety over-the-toilet shelf can’t hold more than a few magazines or a bag of cotton balls.  My own belongings dot the countertop, and a collection of wall-plaques lean against various shelves and walls, exhorting anyone in the bathroom to enjoy every minute as though it is their last.  Or something like that.


It is a cluttered disaster.  It is a warehouse.


It’s okay.  It’s temporary.  I have so much to do – so many things to figure out – these details don’t matter.  I can make do with anything.  I don’t really want anything, so I might as well be happy with this.  I repeat what I thought when I moved in.


I was not looking for a home when I moved here.  I was looking for a place to stay until I decided what will come next.  I just needed a space to store me and my things.


But as I am reconnecting with myself I am becoming aware that being here is holding me back in a way I had not foreseen.  I am not being me.  My whole journey of self-discovery is making it impossible to live this way.  I cannot sit in my room and not see the details around me, or see them and not care what they add up to.  There are things that I want, and this isn’t it.


This is a good thing.