Traveling light is the only option.
As it happens, I have a little bit of extra money this month and it looks like it's time to buy a laptop. Eventually when I make a certain big move, there is no way I can imagine moving this desktop, monitor and all the rest of it.
There's actually very little I'll be taking with me. A laptop, some clothes. A few boxes of favorite books and things that will be forwarded on the slow boat.
So why am I bringing this up here?
Well, simply... I am a Luddite.
What things should I look for while perusing eBay for a laptop? I know it needs to have built-in WiFi. And someone offhandedly mentioned that buying an older one would be sufficient for me since I don't do anything that needs the latest stuff. I can't afford all the whizbang anyway.
Anyone have any suggestions, warnings, referrals? What do you like most about your laptop? What do you like least? What do you consider an important consideration in choosing one?
Thursday, May 31, 2007
Just to clarify a few things and to make sure I don't come across as a total male-basher, I wanted to finish up on the past few days' thoughts.
I am not out in the world very much. My life is very simple, small and contained. Something tells me that if I was a more outgoing type, someone who went out regularly, my experiences would be very different than they have been.
I have met men (in the past) mostly through ads. I've answered a few and also in the long distance past, have written a few. eHarmony. Match.com. Local alternative newspapers. Very public ways of finding a mate.
That is how my ex-husband came along.
Chance meetings are not something that come along very often with the exception of a few in places I frequently can be found. The local deli, as an example.
Given my background and my present, I'm not entirely surprised that I have met more frogs than princes.
Thailand factors into this. How likely is it that I will meet someone here who is willing to uproot himself and move to a foreign country?
Add to that, that I am a very old-fashioned person, adhering to values that have long since passed to the ashheap of history and there you have it.
... the reason I am not partnered.
I just spent the weekend reading a book that had me enraptured. The time period of the book was the late 1800s through the early 40s. I loved the gentility, the courting, the accountability of both and the innocence of it all. This was not a romance novel which I never read. It was an historical novel.
I can't seem to step into this "new world" easily. I don't care for the marketing aspect of the whole process.
... another reason I am not partnered.
Still, I do know some very good men. I don't hate men. Truly. I don't. Most of the really good men I know are already married or partnered so I don't stand any chance there. I am not willing to interfere in a committed relationship. I'm not that greedy or immoral.
So... this is all very complex and although I rant here on occasion, I am not one of those women who believes all men are evil.
At the same time, I am not willing to compromise on values that I consider to be central to the person I am and how I exist in the world.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I still believe I will find the right person. All things considered, including my age, I still believe it could happen. I believe he will likely have had very similar experiences as mine. I believe he will have the same old-fashioned values. I believe he is probably experiencing the same frustrations I experience. He will be just as surprised as me that there is someone out there who is compatible to his odd ways. It may be here. And it might be Thailand.
And that recognition will be all we need.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
This morning, Cecileaux followed up on my post yesterday by putting out the thought that sex is a language. A form of communication.
I agree with that.
But, as I commented on his site, it has gone from deep, substantial conversation to casual small talk.
A big part of my reason for not dating is the absolute and relentless expectation that I will be somehow anxious to engage in this "small talk" with everyone I meet.
Here's an example ~ from yesterday.
I went over to a small convenience store to buy a bottle of Diet Coke. The person behind the register is someone I have known for a long time now. Casually.
He told me that he would "take [me] anytime" and all I have to do is "say the word". When I commented jokingly that he is married, he said, "it doesn't matter".
And he couldn't even begin to imagine why I was offended. I am just a customer in his store. He doesn't know me, my value system, my way of life or anything about me.
He can only see that I am a female. If I am a female, I am a potential resource for him. Evidently, that is all that's required.
No different than a peice of steak.
Each time I have gotten to know a man (with the exception of one... the "Target Man" I met some months back) has brought up the topic of sex within the first few hours of knowing me, sniffing around, trying to see if I was open to the possibility. When I was not, he would lose interest and disappear. That doesn't make me feel bad, to be honest about it. I'd rather not be bothered by those types. They bore me senseless.
Keep in mind that I am not a physically attractive woman. I'm older. I'm heavyset. I make no efforts to be attractive to the opposite sex. I don't wear revealing clothing. My hairstyle is wash and wear. I don't use make-up. Frankly, I'm plain. Ordinary. Yes, I am unusual looking with all of my Thai stuff ~ but I'd hardly call that "primping". It is simply a style preference.
Hardly someone who should be subjected to this kind of tawdry sniffing around by men. It reminds me of a bunch of dogs in heat.
The scary thing is that this kind of behavior has become acceptable. It is no longer considered impolite or crass to openly pursue one's physical desires without any boundary. No ritual attached to courting anymore. It's just go out to eat and find somewhere to have sex.
Sorry to say... this turns me off completely and has led me to conclude that finding a mate in this day and age, given the prevalent value system, is not going to be something I am willing to do.
It's sickening. It's crass. It's impolite. It's tacky. And the truth is that I have a variety of reasons for existing on this planet and the primary one is not to be a vessel for men's sexual desires.
It cheapens sex and puts it in the same category as small talk. Useless chatter that is used to fill empty spaces.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
During the night, Cecileaux left the following comment that got me thinking.
I am much more sentimental than you, but I'm coming to think (especially after a long weekend with a woman) that I am better off not partnered, as all attempts to relate are full of craziness (lots of it mine).
Needless to say, I would like to hear more from him on this subject.
I've been giving more thought to this topic since the first of the year than I probably should. In some ways, it feels like some inexplicable thing, something that certainly no one would truly understand (which explains why I've had such a hard time finding it) or perhaps even wants to understand.
The realization finally sunk in that I will probably never be partnered in the conventional sense.
I would like a companion but I don't want romance. I don't want the craziness, the drama, the clingy togetherness, the expectations based on need. I'm too old for the roller coaster ride. I want friendship, loving friendship. I want what Alice Walker calls "quiet companionability". I want to get up in the morning, have coffee with someone, have pleasant conversation. Intelligent conversation over a Diet Coke in the back yard. Being comfortable together in silence. Caring support of each other in daily life. I want to have someone else's back and have someone have mine.
However, I am incapable of being a slave to other people's needs, especially someone's sexual needs.
Last February, my final walk through the labyrinth of dating confirmed all of this for me.
There are no words to describe how utterly sick that experience made me, how it repulsed me. This isn't a statement of simple bitterness from a woman who had a bad experience. I realized there was a common element to all the "romantic" relationships I've had over the years.
I felt objectified and it's been impossible to get beyond that. It doesn't seem to evolve beyond the sense of being an object of prey ~ for either party in a romantic context. Each comes with his or her laundry list of expectations and wants. Cecilieaux wrote an excellent post on this topic a few months back.
One of the best things about my ex-husband is that his mind was completely open to any configuration of relationship that two people can devise. He often quoted a book called 'The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress'. After reading it, I could see the logic in it. I wanted separate bedrooms. I had separate bedrooms. I wanted to write. He supported that. He never picked at me, trying to turn me into his ideal image of what I should be.
That is not to say we didn't have our problems. We did. Out of respect for his privacy, I won't go into all of them here but they were irreconcilable finally. In short, he was a cold fish and I couldn't live with that. I often felt emotionally abandoned which is something I can't live with .. and that's why I divorced him. He would have hung around forever out of inertia.
What are the chances of finding someone who is willing to have a primary relationship that is based on friendship and sharing of resources without getting caught up in the muck and mire that surrounds "romance"?
What is it about romance that brings out these worse qualities in us?
I'll be curious to hear from others.
Monday, May 28, 2007
One of the best things about having had eye surgery last month is that I can now read easily. Although a few weeks remain before I'm officially signed off as "cured", the difference is so profound that it's hard to imagine that it can get even better.
I've been catching up on reading. It's not unusual to go through four or five books a week lately.
Yesterday, I was absolutely spellbound by a book called "Four Reigns" by Kukrit Pramoj (the same guy who wrote "Many Lives") which is a long, long historical novel. It covers Thailand's history from the late 1800s through the beginning of World War II. The characters are so well-developed that they seem real. The writing is just exquisite!
Being so captivated by a book that an entire day passes unnoticed is the closest thing to perfection this small mind can imagine.
The fact that it felt familiar was something that caused my mind to wander to all sorts of possibilities.
I know there are serious problems in Thailand right now. The government has promised a new Constitution this coming October. Whether that will occur remains to be seen. Until then, there are some fairly frightening developments taking place.
But there's something that goes far beyond politics that defines my connection to Thailand. I can get very upset about something the government is doing but the thought of not going there doesn't even enter my mind. If I have to wait even longer to go because of government actions, it will increase my feeling of being "in exile", if that's even possible.
There are plenty of theories out there that might explain my connection to that land. Past life. A psychological attraction to social harmony and order. Geographic beauty. (The last one doesn't seem likely since there is plenty of geographic beauty right here.) The truth is that I might never know. I might never know why it touches me so deeply that the idea of not breathing that air again is inconceivable.
It's not even an option.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
... that I hardly have the words to describe it.
Heck, I don't even belong to moderated Yahoogroups or participate in any venue that I perceive as being censored. As a rule, I don't even leave comments on moderated blogs unless I at least have some knowledge of why the blog author is doing it. I don't like the assumption that I am not to be trusted. It offends me.
I mean, really. I'm a fanatic on this topic. Censorship.
Last week, I noticed my traffic from Thailand had all but ceased. There was a straggler here or there, probably coming in from a proxy server, but I would say it had halted by 99.9%.
I couldn't quite figure it out. After all, I've certainly not said anything here over the past week or two that would alienate Thai readers. I don't take positions on Thai politics, considering that to be the business of Thai nationals. If anything, my entries are always pro-Thailand, culturally-based, sometimes even ignoring blatant problems. I am a guest in that world and always try to be respectful.
Here's the Cliff Notes version:
The Thai government blocked YouTube last month because of some insulting videos that YouTube refused to remove. For a long time I held out, not viewing them. Finally, curiosity got the better of me and I did look at them.
They were insulting. Very insulting. Disgustingly insulting. The videos made me feel sick, knowing that someone out there hiding in the safety of their computer room would create something like that. I react just as strongly to ridicule of viewpoints I disagree with. When Jerry Falwell died, I read some truly ugly remarks and they bothered me, too. Ugliness never serves any purpose beyond just .. being .. ugly.
But I don't support blocking them. Let the creators of the videos take the heat they deserve. "Protecting" people from them is juvenilizing. People are smart enough to choose for themselves whether or not they want to see or read something.
Well, the kerfluffle with YouTube wasn't the end of it.
A blog featured an interview with Thaksin Shinawatra. So, what? What could he say that is so threatening, so potentially dangerous, that he should be silenced?
Thailand blocked all blogspot.com accounts, not just the one blog they perceived as offensive. People in Thailand had no access to any blogger.com account because of the actions of one person and that person didn't even do anything wrong.
Any society that is afraid of ideas needs to carefully examine itself.
And that includes Thailand. My beloved Thailand. The place I value so much.
There is no place for censorship in my world.
Friday, May 25, 2007
Addendum: Here's an interesting site to start off the weekend. This is where I've spent the past hour. It's kind of a hoot.. different than Post Secrets because people leave comments.
This is another one of those exercises where we are to come up with (given number) of facts about ourselves that no one knows. I snarfed it from The Atavist's site.
The problem is that I have revealed so much stuff here that I'm not sure there are eight things left!
But I will try it.
Because I don't have anything else relevant to say this morning.
1) I am not good at small talk. Does anyone else have the same reaction I do, that it seems like a waste of air and I'd rather be doing nearly anything else?
2) My greatest housekeeping weakness is refrigerator management. There are things in my freezer that have been there for months!
3) For someone who plans to make my home in Southeast Asia, it's odd that I have a low tolerance for heat or humidity. Anything above 75 degrees is too hot!
4) If ever riding in a car with me, do not second-guess my driving or continually direct me. I will snap at you! :)
5) I am very stoic in person. You would not be able to tell what I am feeling by simply looking at me.
6) I have a hair-trigger temper but choose to control it.
7) Lately, I am thinking that I am one of those women who is better alone than partnered. When I look at it, being alone is not all that bad and I am actually fairly content with a solitary life where I do not have to continually compromise with someone else or avoid someone else's landmines. It would take an extremely unusual man to have a successful relationship with me.
8) I am not very sentimental.
These things may already be known. I'm not sure. But at least it fills up this page and opens up the possibility that you (y'all) will share something unusual about yourselves with me.
As always, this is a meme. If you are reading this, you're tagged. :)
** Note: I am going to answer yesterday's comments this weekend. There is so much to think about! :)
Thursday, May 24, 2007
This post is about forgiveness and receiving forgiveness (which I call lovingkindness), prompted by Julie's question of the week.
When I received lovingkindness in the past, I didn't recognize it as a gift. In my immaturity, I believed it was the same as absolution, the same as saying my actions were okay, that I wouldn't be held accountable in this life or the next.
When I was in my early 20s, I was not a person anyone in their right mind would want to know. I was a low-functioning alcoholic with some pretty serious emotional issues.
My boyfriend at the time, Dan, and I were living together.
To put it as honestly as I know how, I treated him horribly. I was unreliable, unpredictable, unappreciative and exploitative. So, yes, I do know what it is to be a rotten human being. And without qualification, that is what I'd become. Rotten, selfish, inconsiderate and completely without regard for the feelings of others. Blaming the booze would be a cop-out. I think the booze just allowed me to reveal the darkest parts of me. You know, we all have a dark side but we choose how to express it. There are acceptable ways to do that.
I never chose an acceptable way.
I used Dan. These days, I can admit that. He provided me with security, gave me money, took care of me and demanded very little in return. Sometimes I look back and think he was experiencing what some women do when they are drawn to "bad boys". There was an excitement in being with someone as emotionally labile as I was, someone who created more drama than Paramount Studios and who just plain abused him.
I think he wanted to "save" me.
That is probably fairly close to the truth. I can say that with a degree of confidence because when I got sober, he lost interest in me. That's fairly standard. The dynamic of relationships change when one person gets sober.
When I'd been sober for a few years, I called him. He seemed legitimately happy to hear from me but also cautious.
The first thing I said was, "I've been sober for two years now..."
That was to assure him that I wasn't calling to create more drama.
Within my limited understanding of the concept of forgiveness at that time, I recited my wrongs to him like a litany and asked for his forgiveness.
In sobriety circles, it's called doing the ninth step. "We made direct amends to people we'd harmed, except when to do so would harm them or others."
Truthfully, I didn't know what the hell I was doing because I was still living on the edge of my own insanity. The only real difference is that I wasn't drinking. That doesn't mean my behavior was that much better. It was better controlled but certainly not eliminated completely. I was still very dramatic and immature. Everything was over the top.
Now when I look back on it, I realize what a gift he truly gave me. And it wasn't absolution. He was willing to put aside my imperfections, to understand that I'd made serious mistakes but in admitting them was making a commitment to change. He knew I didn't know exactly how to do that but the willingness meant something. The recognition that I needed to change was a relief to him. And he was smart enough to not even consider any further relationship with me. But he wished me well ~ and that meant a lot.
I'm very grateful for all the lovingkindness I've received in my life. There's no doubt that my background is one that is filled with quite a history of bad choices and equally bad behavior. Now that I'm older, I recognize what it means to be forgiven. I know how hard it is to put aside the wrongs of the past and let them go. Now that I have been in a position to offer lovingkindness to others, I know what it takes to give the gift I was offered freely and ill-deserved without conditions.
It may be just about as close to "godliness" as we humans can possibly get.
To let go.
To believe in another person enough to forgive.
To recognize our own frailty enough to know that lovingkindness is essential.
Yeah. Godliness. That's it.
How does everyone like the new look around here? Isn't it beautiful?
It was created by TTQ. She talked with me by email to find out what I would like, read a lot of my archives to see what kind of person I am and designed this for me. It is just incredible to have someone make that much effort, to be that considerate, that caring about what I would like. For the record, I love it! Thank you, Linda. :)
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
There's something I've been meaning to talk about for a while and someone's blog entry brought it to mind.
Reciprocity. Giving and receiving.. and the balance it creates...
Right now, I am taking care of D after her foot surgery. It doesn't take much. Since she's basically medically ordered to stay off her feet, I just make sure she's comfortable, has meals, snacks, her newspaper, take her to medical appointments and run her errands ...
It's really not such a big thing and it takes nothing from me to do it.
Last night, I made contact with someone who is going to revamp the look of this blog. It was offered freely and the only thing asked of me is to "pay it forward". I will happily do that.
My point in citing these examples is that I hear a lot of talk and read a lot of comments (not comments in the blog sense but.. just comments.. in the traditional meaning of the word) about "not being a burden", "not wanting to take something for nothing" and other such indications that a person is uncomfortable without equalizing. My father's suicide note included the phrase, "I don't want to be a burden to anyone."
A few months back, I offered to send some cookies to a guy in Thailand who can not get his favorite brand there. It was just a gesture on my part. He snapped back with a retort to the effect of "I never take anything from anyone. I don't want to owe anyone anything." We're talking about cookies! Not a loan for a down payment on a house! When I told him I expected nothing but if he is uncomfortable , perhaps one day he could send me some Thai tea, he immediately responded, "Oh, now I get it."
Without realizing it, that guy seriously offended me. Truthfully, he offended me to the degree that I discontinued contact with him. The entire interaction changed from friendly back-and-forth token giving to his suspicion of my motives and basically a veiled accusation that I was trying to pull something.
What's wrong with friendly gestures that have absolutely no agenda? I don't give with expectations and I am learning to receive without feeling the need to immediately and equally reciprocate.
I believe we have the task of learning two lessons while we are here on this earth, here in community. We need to learn not only how to give (that's an obvious one) but we need to learn how to receive with grace, to allow others the pleasure of giving without turning it into a barter. No score-keeping. Sharing resources is one of the most fundamental lessons of our earth-time, in my opinion, and I always cringe when it is turned into commerce.
Monday, May 21, 2007
Addendum: The name of the book is Many Lives by Kukrit Pramoj. :)
Today I had a special gift in the mail. An acquaintance in Thailand sent me a copy of a book I've been wanting to read.
Sometimes I think we don't notice when we're thirsty. Thirst is different than hunger. It's more subtle. We can go for quite a while before realizing that the roof of our mouth is parched. Hunger is in your face, demanding to be satisfied. Thirst isn't demanding. It just removes taste and energy in its own quiet way.
I came back to my den and began reading immediately.
I read while I waited for D at her post-surgery doctor appointment. I read while she went into Staples to pick up a few things she needed. I read at stoplights. I read while I watered the garden, one hand holding the book and the other holding the hose.
I read while I had lunch at a local restaurant. I read at Target while waiting for a prescription to be filled.
I read when getting back from errand running.
I just finished the book.
It was quenching my thirst. It was something known and refreshing. It was a reminder. It was a reminder that there is someplace with a way of thinking that matches my own. It was a reminder that there is a place that doesn't scratch my dry skin until it bleeds. It was a non-visual picture of the life I've chosen, life in the place I've chosen... the history, the customs... the way of life.
... the place I miss so much that I don't even dare think about it consciously very often. It would overwhelm me. It's the difference between water and air. It's the one thing that can bring me to my knees so I try block it out most of the time and refuse to think about it.
The book is about eleven characters, none of whom know each other. There is a criminal, a prostitute, a prince, a doctor, an actor, a monk, a writer, a mother, a soldier, a rich girl and a daughter.
It tells the stories of their lives up to the moment of the boat accident that takes all of their lives. The job of the reader is to determine the commonalities, to look at karma ~ how is it that all these people were in the same place at the same time and does it mean anything? Is it just random? The back of the book says "Was death a retribution, a fulfillment, a reward, an escape or merely the end to a long life?"
Those are the kinds of things I think about in my private moments. The book offers no answer. Just the question.
While we've been saturated locally with coverage of the journey of the wayward whales, something else has been taking place in Sacramento.
As an aside, one of the things I've found most frustrating about living in this area is the news coverage. The four local newscasts (including CW) fill their airtime each day with fluff, human interest and ultimately meaningless chatter between the anchors instead of devoting quality time to coverage of what the state government is doing. I'd hoped for more. This is the capital of the state and I figured that important issues would be up for discussion.
Not so. And that includes print media such as the Sacramento Bee, although it at least has more detail than anything on TV or radio.
So.. while we've been subjected to literally hour-by-hour and "breaking news" interruptions to programming to watch the progress of the whales out of the delta, they downplay the fact that the governor's budget is up for discussion this week.
I was finally able to find a summary of the governor's proposed budget in the LA Times. It would appear that, as usual, the poor and needy will take the biggest hit in the gut. Social services are being cut at an alarming rate, including cuts in welfare programs, smaller raises for social services workers and cash assistance for families in need, the elderly and disabled population.
College tuitions will increase, making it harder for those who want to do something to improve their situations. Students will end up with an increase in their debt to student loan companies and other financial aid programs. (That is assuming, of course, that they qualify at all!)
These are just a few examples. The majority of it is all business-related stuff that just makes my brain numb.
I can definitely see the trend developing here. California, a state which used to have the reputation as a liberal state, is increasingly buying into Bush-inspired, hardnose, business-catering policies. Those who have will have even more and those who have less will have even less. Those who are least equipped to advocate for themselves are on the losing end.
I don't claim to have the answer to any of this because I stopped having any faith in the political process many years ago. Still, it's worthwhile to keep track of these developments, if nothing else to know when it's time to bail.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
I had an interesting conversation with D. last night. She came around to my area of the house and began talking about her rental house, the fact that she is not pleased with her renters, that "they don't own any furniture."
As she went along, I heard so much judgemental dreck about people on welfare, people who don't own good cars, people who don't "have anything" that I almost got confused and thought I was talking to my mother! While D has one of the biggest hearts I've ever known, her materialism is very, very annoying! I know it is a result of her own background and her utter distaste from the Texas poverty she grew up in.
For conversation's sake, I asked her what she looks for when she first meets someone. She said she notices how they're dressed, their mannerisms, signals that they are "classy".
The first thing I look for is a kind face. Does someone look like a kindly person who is approachable? It never occurs to me to try to guess someone's socioeconomic status.
If I had a house to rent ~ which I do not ~ I would of course want to know the person can pay the rent.
I'm not completely lost in a dream world. On the other hand, I completely don't care if the person is a working person, retired, on disability or welfare. If they can afford the rent, they can afford the rent.
But I would want someone who looks kind. I would want someone who is kind.
There are some specific reasons for that.
It's not just for conversational purposes. I believe kind people tread on the earth a bit more gently. They would care about their surroundings. She would likely grow a garden. He would likely treat his animals well. People who are kind surround themselves with other kind people.
Kind people are far more considerate of others and their impact on those who surround them.
Kind people are not completely self-centered. The concepts are incompatible.
It's not unlike what I seek in friends.
I do know a person with a kind face and approachable manner makes the world just a little bit brighter. It can't be faked. Fakery is transparent. When someone is truly content with his or her life, it shines from within.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
I know that word has a negative connotation. Everyday, mundane, quotidian, routine, unremarkable, ordinary.
Not for me!
Things have begun to settle down a bit. V. has been gone to stay with his girlfriend and as far as I'm concerned, he can stay with her until the Apocalypse. D's foot surgery went without incident and outside of a bit of pampering, she hasn't required much from me in terms of caretaking. My eye is healing as it should and is nearly back to normal. A little pain now and then but nothing alarming. The upset surrounding my father seems to have peaked and is on the decline, both with other family members and me.
Over the past month, there's been far too much chaos in my life. Too much unpredictability and upset. Chaos has never been good for me. Unpredictability and upset is .. well.. upsetting. It's wearing and disruptive. I crave tranquility and quiet. Consistency. Predictability. I don't like change unless it is controlled change. I want to know it is coming and prepare for it. Most people would be amazed at how much contentment I find in my (by most standards) very small life.
I spend a lot of time gardening, reading, walking, writing ~ all things that are quite solitary for the most part. My favorite time of the day is as it winds down, the sun begins to fade and the evening has arrived. I sit in the recliner and read for a while, usually watching some idiocy on TV that requires no depth of thought. CNN, Numbers, CSI Some Major City, Bones, House, American Idol.... fluff.. stuff... Maybe do a little email.
Today, I will intentionally walk the three miles to Home Depot and buy a new plunger for the toilet. When I get home, I will leisurely install it. On the way back from Home Depot, I'll stop in one of my favorite Thai restaurants and have lunch. Then I'll go to a local park and read by the stream that runs through it. Under a tree. Maybe some gardening late this afternoon and then a quiet evening of TV and a book.
I'm sure that would be bone-crushingly boring for most people who want action, action, action. I can understand that... to a degree. This with me isn't just age though. I've been this way as long as I can remember.
That's my life. It's small. But I like it.
Friday, May 18, 2007
History is an interesting thing.
It's the past lasting into the present. We hold on to it so that we can explain the present the way we want it to be. When we look back, we get to choose the lens through which we view it. We can shape it and bend it to fit the way we need it to fit. It isn't remembering something because it was significant in its own time. It is remembering it so that we can hang reasons on why things are the way they are now.
Not a single thought we have, nothing we do, can ever outlive its usefulness in creating acceptable reasons for the present.
But even history dies.
Stuff lasts. Places last. And that is what all of this is about.
I haven't set foot in the city where I grew up in over twenty years. Sometimes I wonder... what would it be like now... today? Would I still feel the same things or has all the value been culled out of that time and it would feel one-dimensional and hollow? Just bricks and asphalt, buildings and trees?
I'm considering a trip there. It's only six or so hours away. I can drive all those old streets, see the house again... go to a few of the old haunts.
It could have one of two effects. Either the past truly is behind me or I'll get sucked right back into it, flooded with memories that I don't really want to explore any further.
I will admit to being curious.
One way or the other.
**For those who read both sites, no, your eyes are not deceiving you. I posted it twice. :)
Thursday, May 17, 2007
This morning as I clicked around to various blogs, I found this:
But I will tag Pippa, Deb, Jen (of course - I know how much she loves to do memes), and Chani. Please, lovely ladies, share with us what you love about yourself. And tag as many or as few as you would like.
Tabba has presented a challenge.
I've been thinking about this most of the day. How do I do this? It's not my natural inclination to look at myself in these terms. And then.. which ones are chosen and which are innate? Does it matter?
Still, given the discussion last week, I decided to try. If I have to sit here staring at a blank page for two hours, I will do it. It's good exercise for me. You know, I'm resisting.. and if I'm resisting, it probably means it is important to do it.
I am going to re-frame it just a bit though. I will talk about the gifts I am most grateful for... the internal gifts.
- I am grateful that I have never been consumed with a need for revenge or retribution. I've never felt the need to get even with anyone or bring someone to their knees because of a perceived injustice.
- I am grateful that non-judgement is very easy for me.
- I am grateful that I was given the gift of language, the ability to use it and the ability to communicate with others reasonably effectively.
- I am grateful for my lack of attraction to a consumerist lifestyle, even though I was raised among the most egregious consumerists known to mankind.
- I am grateful to be able to accept nearly anyone with an understanding that we are all here on our own karmic journeys. Even when I disagree with someone's choices, I do not condemn.
- I am grateful that I never developed a need for moral superiority or superiority in any arena actually.
- I am grateful to be consistently aware of my very obvious imperfection.
- I am grateful that I love to read and to learn new things.
- I am grateful to have an innate ability to be organized.
- I am grateful to be a spiritual being with a strong sense of my connection to others, to the spirit world and to the earth itself.
- I am grateful to have the ability to logically evaluate the changes I need to make in my life instead of feeling trapped in discontent.
That's about all I can come up with.. and I'm not really certain which of these things are inherent and which are learned.
And perhaps it doesn't really matter.
If you are reading this, you are tagged. :)
Thanks, Tabba. It was an interesting exercise.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Shameless call for book recommendations:
I'm between books right now and am getting ready to order some new ones on Amazon. Anyone have some recommendations for me? What are you reading? What's good?
Recently I've read some very good books, including "The Last American Man" by Elizabeth Gilbert, "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" by Lisa See, "Red Azalea" by Anchee Min, "The Space Between Us" by Thrity Umrigar and "Half Broken Things" by Morag Joss.
I recommend all of them.
American Idol chatter:
Tonight's show was actually very good! I liked almost all the songs, although I could go the rest of my life without hearing "Roxanne" again and be fairly happy.
Jordin Sparks blew my socks off! One of my favorite singers is Shirley Bassey, particularly the song "I (Who Have Nothing)". When I was a kid, I used to sing that song at the top of my lungs. I just loved it!
This is heresy for a die-hard Shirley fan but Jordin Sparks did a better job. Simon criticized her for choosing the song, saying she is too young to sing it. I disagree. She did a wonderful job.
A friend and I had an interesting chat on the phone tonight. One of the topics we covered was the incredibly silly things we did as young women.
When I was in my early 20s, I lived in West Hollywood and truly loved it. During that time a movie came out called "A Star Is Born" with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. As it would happen, when I was that young ~ and that thin ~ I bore a resemblence to Barbra.
And, oh, did I ever play it up! After seeing that movie, I went and had my hair fixed in a curly style similar to hers and even learned how to apply make-up to maximize the resemblence. I bought clothes like the ones she wore in the movie. I had no shame.
Unfortunately, I couldn't sing like her so the only outcome of that exercise was to have maxed-out credit cards.
Well, a girl can dream. :)
Have you ever done anything similar?
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
You know, there are times when we all get a spirit swat, a moment that makes us pause and think of things differently.
And there are times we don't do that often enough.
Today, I've been thinking about something. Yesterday I wrote about a horrible murder in Beverly Hills and complained about how it shattered my sense of safety.
The recognition that not twenty miles away from us, people lived with that kind of fear on a daily basis hasn't escaped me. I'm sure they would have loved to sit around by the pool and complain about the ineptness of the Bel Air Patrol, clicking their tongues over the fact that crime reached in and bit their pristine little world. I'm not saying the murder wasn't a terrible, horrid and evil thing. I'm saying that there are people who've coped with much worse.
That was Spirit Swat #1.
I got into the shower and stepped out. Was disgusted with the size of my body.
I'm fat. There's no other way to describe it. BBW, heavyset, pudgy... bullsh*t! I'm fat! No, I am not huge but I am way too big, even for my large-boned frame. This isn't about twenty vanity pounds. I am at least 60 pounds overweight.
I've never missed a meal. .. and it's obvious. People get fat because they eat too much from which one can logically surmise that he or she has the food to eat. I do.
That was Spirit Swat #2.
In many ways, I have always struggled with excess. When I drank, I couldn't stop at one drink.. or two. When I have a pizza, I can't be content with one or two peices but eat the whole damn thing!
I'm not much of a score-keeper and am not really into the "I had it worse/better than you" type of thinking. It's not useful but a little bit of perspective is always good.
The material privilege I experienced growing up was an accident of birth. It is certainly nothing I created or earned. There is no inherent "right" to it. I couldn't afford an upholstered doghouse in Beverly Hills or Bel Air on my own. Not in my entire adult life. I have never had the discipline to create that kind of financial stability. Ajahn S was totally correct when he said lack of discipline has always been my greatest weakness.
I believe that comes from my upbringing. I don't say that in a blaming sense. I certainly had the resources available to learn those things if I'd been properly motivated. Teachers were available. It's hard to be disciplined or care about the future when the material necessities were always there. I never had to learn how to make life run smoothly. It just did. There was always plenty of food in the refrigerator and there was always a place to sleep at night. In fact, it was much better than that. The swimming pool was in the back yard. The TVs were in every room. We all had private phone lines. (Anyone remember Princess phones?) We all had vehicles. We all had "toys" when we wanted them. If I wanted to take ballet courses, I took them. If I wanted guitar lessons, I got them. If I wanted to pick up some other hobby with which I'd be bored in a week, I got to do it.
I never had to learn how to balance a checkbook, how to cook for myself, how to create a grocery list, how to make a choice between having one thing over another because I could get them both, never had to learn how to deny myself. I was never responsible for the well-being of another person.
And that led to a very long adolescence.
And, yes, I most definitely experienced a lot of emotional battering but materially, I was absolutely safe. I never wanted for a single thing.
I am really working on this discipline thing. And, oh God, is it hard!
Excess is an addiction. Food has become an addiction. For some reason, I can't seem to knock off some of the stupid choices I make - like eating strawberries and banana pudding for dinner.
And this is my challenge, my potential for growth, at this point in my life.
It's hard to admit that in some ways, I am a 55-year-old very spoiled woman!
I hate to admit that... but have to! Far more important than admitting it to any of you, I have to admit it to me, recognize the tendencies and resolve to change them.
The spiritual resources are there. That, I did right. I believe I am on track with my spiritual development, although there's always more growing to do.
My financial resources are limited and I do not use credit cards. That's a step in the right direction. I can not afford credit and seem to have made peace with that. Besides, I really don't like it. It's the quickest road to slavery... credit. I stay within my budget each month with an occasional eBay-related slip. Dang. Thai clothes. Another addiction.
This discipline thing... man, it is killing me! The resolving to do something and making myself do it. Whether it is walking daily, keeping my nose out of the refrigerator or staying away from eBay, I struggle.
So, for all the praise I get for wisdom, I must admit a glaring area of immaturity. And I will continue struggling through this until I assimilate a new way of thinking and behaving.
My greatest weakness, indeed!
Monday, May 14, 2007
Tonight, M and I hung out with D and ate pizza. (So much for my diet... :)
Anyway, we had a discussion about things we will never forget. M asked me if I was able to remember the first time I was absolutely terrified.
Simple. August 9, 1969.
I was 17 years old. The night before, I'd come home a bit late and wanted to get to bed right away. I was due to get up early to go somewhere.
When I got up, I heard a lot of activity outside. Police sirens. Ambulances. Police cars from multiple jurisdictions lined the streets; our city police, the LAPD and the Sheriff's Department. The neighborhood security patrol. News media. All sorts of strange people wandering around everywhere. They began knocking on doors.
Phones rang throughout the neighborhood, people calling each other to find out what had happened, if anyone knew. It was obviously something serious. We didn't usually experience things like that in our part of the world. We were fairly insulated from the crime in Los Angeles.
"There has been a multiple murder on Cielo ...."
Several people had been slaughtered. Bodies were in the house and in the yard. It's an infamous case and when I mention the names involved, it will become obvious.
That night, there was another murder in the city a few miles away.
For weeks after the murders, the police presence was unbelievable in our neighborhood. Anyone caught walking around was stopped and questioned. I was stopped several times in my little Toyota and was required to show proof that I lived there. My brother was stopped without his driver's license and was handcuffed on the side of the street. We weren't targets. It was happening to many people, especially young people. The security patrol was increased. It wasn't unusual at all to see red lights of police cars flashing from the front window of our house. I remember seeing them through the stained glass windows to our foyer.
The hardest part was not knowing what in the world was going on, whether it was random or deliberate. We didn't know if someone had targeted our neighborhood, putting all of us in danger. I didn't feel safe going outside at night and I didn't feel safe getting the newspaper in the morning. I didn't feel safe. Period. Anywhere. I don't think it was so much a fear of being murdered as the fear of coming home to a crime scene. I got that feeling in my gut, each time I drove up to the house and especially when I unlocked the door.
The murders that took place in my neighborhood as a teenager were not random, of course. They were deliberate. However, we didn't know that since the perpetrators weren't caught for three or four months.
It was some time in early Autumn when we learned what had happened and why. We learned that it had been a deliberate act of the so-called "Manson family", a ragtag group of hippies and druggies who had a beef with one of the members of the Tate/Polanski household.
What really changed for me personally is that I never felt safe in a house at night again. To this day, I have to check and double-check all the locks on the windows and doors. I am not a fun housemate during the summer because it still completely freaks me out to be in a house that is not secured.
I wonder if that will ever go away completely.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
... which I clearly have no business posting about anyway.
I must have finally hit the big time as a Thailand blogger.
I'm getting Thai spam. Does that mean I now have some legitimacy? :)
สมัครฟรี ไม่มีค่าใช้จ่าย ไม่ต้องรักษายอด ขยายงานง่าย รายได้ดีมากๆ
รับสมัครผู้ร่วมทำธุรกิจ ขาย พรบ. ประกันภัยรถยนต์ทุกชนิด สมัครฟรี..!!!!
ทุกท่านสามารถทำได้ เพียงท่านมีอายุ 20 ปีขึ้นไป ไม่จำกัดวุฒิการศึกษา ขอเพียงท่านจริงจังและพร้อมที่จะเรียนรู้
- สินค้าขายง่าย กฎหมาย บังคับรถทุกคันต้องใช้ พรบ.
- มีป้ายร้านให้ฟรี เมื่อคุณเปิดสำนักงานตัวแทน
- มีโปรแกรม สำหรับดูแลลูกค้าฟรี
- สมัครเปิดโค๊ดกับเรา มีเว็บไซค์ให้ใช้ฟรี ในการขยายงาน และเรียนผ่านระบบ ELearning และอื่น ๆ อีกมาก
เหมาะสำหรับท่านที่ต้องการทำธุรกิจส่วนตัว , ต้องการรายได้เสริม หรือท่านที่มีหน้าร้านของท่านอยู่แล้ว
ทางเราต้องขออภัยไว้ ณ ที่นี้ด้วยหากอีเมลนี้ส่งถึงท่าน
Oh, boy! :)
Saturday, May 12, 2007
In Thailand, children and adults give their mothers, aunts and grandmothers jasmine garlands and thank them for the giving of life and ask for their blessings.
Thank you to all of you who mother, in whatever fashion, because as you mother your children, you mother the world. May you continue to share your wisdom with your children and with all of us.
Arise then...women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
"We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."
From the voice of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: "Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe our dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace...
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God -
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.
by Julia Ward Howe*, 1870
Friday, May 11, 2007
I now don't work. I'm 31 years old and at this time I cannot see me ever going back to work. I cannot see me ever trusting anyone enough to work for them. I cannot face the workplace politics and just plain shyte that goes on. I think this means I have to find a job where I am the person I am working for.
Snoskred left this comment yesterday and it has stuck with me.
I don't think I've ever been able to pinpoint exactly why I can no longer be in workplaces. I have a general sense of it. Like Snoskred, I can not work outside the home. While I have a very small eBay business that I control exclusively, I can not extend beyond that. It's not a matter of lack of skills. It's frankly an inability to take the workplace culture without becoming spiritually, psychologically and physically ill.
I can not engage in anything that is competitive, that requires me to give pieces of me away or that functions on the principle of power-over.
When I left for good, it took months for my muscles to release the tension. My muscles ached constantly and I walked like someone with severe arthritis. Putting one foot in front of the other felt like walking through deep, dark molasses. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, I believe I was physically dying. I believe that if I hadn't gotten out, I would not be alive today to think about things like moving to Thailand, watering my roses, writing this post. It took months before I realized that I wouldn't have to go back, that I could relax and feel safe. It took months before little pieces of me began to re-emerge, letting me know that I really was more than just a shell of a human being. It took months before I was able to enjoy anything again.
I'd forgotten what it was like to enjoy, to feel good, to feel at peace. I'd forgotten what it was like to not wake up each day and wish I was dead. I'd forgotten what it was like to feel safe again in my own skin. It was like being given a reprieve from a death sentence.
Bob said in his comment: Recognizing your own strengths is not prideful, it is part of knowing yourself. You, for instance, are a talented writer and it would not be bragging for you to tell an employer this. As others have said, there is a difference between recognizing your strengths and making others who can benefit from them aware of them - and bragging about them to all and sundry.
You probably have no idea how much this idea paralyzes me to a point of absolute terror. You say I am a talented writer and maybe you're right, maybe you're not. At any rate, it is not for me to say. It is only for those reading to decide whether I write trash or something of value.
I can not imagine ever telling someone something like that about my writing or anything else about me. I'd rather eat my own eyes. Why should I have to tell anyone something like that? Truly. Why? Why should my right to earn money to live on be dependent on my willingness to examine myself for "marketable" qualities and promote them like some QVC host?
I don't get this. Truly. I don't get it. Perhaps some of you have thoughts on this. The very thought of it brings bile to my throat.. in this very moment.
In the final analysis, I believe some of us are not "made" for the way of life here. I believe I am one of those people. It is not a defect. It is a difference. It's only been for the past several years that I've come to realize it's okay.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Last night, I had an interesting email exchange with a woman who is a member of a mailing list where we both hang out.
She wrote this to the mailing list:
The [supervisor - CS] though is going to get an email tomorrow stating exactly what I feel and why about how I am being treated and that I feel like she is trying to force me out. And telling her exactly what I have done [on the job - CS] and what I think are my strengths. Then things either get better and she gets off my back and lets me do my job or I will give my resignation too.
I'll call her Janet.
I immediately sent her an email, saying "don't even consider writing that letter! Just tender your resignation. Keep your dignity, above all things."
She wrote back, giving me a multitude of reasons why she wanted to express herself. We debated it for a while and my final note said, "do what serves you best. I don't believe this does."
There was something that made me extremely uncomfortable about her plans and I've spent a little bit of time trying to sort through it. I haven't come to any conclusions yet which is why I bring it here for more input.
Two things stand out:
Why in the world would she want to talk about her feelings to an employer who has mistreated her,
Why in the world would she want to talk about those attributes she considers to be her strengths?
Pride cometh before the fall, as they say, and that's something I've believed .. well.. from birth. Honestly. I think I popped out of the pod that way and never had to be taught about pride or boastfulness. It never became an issue.
I don't believe pride is a good thing for many reasons. I still maintain that. My pat response, back when I was still in the workforce, when asked what I believed my strengths to be was "I don't know. That's not really for me to say." And I meant it. It wasn't coyness.
I prefer humility. It is just a more comfortable way to walk the earth, without the need for constant self-promotion.
Additionally, for Janet to express her feelings and talk about them with an adversary makes no sense. It is giving ammunition to someone who will likely misuse it.
I believe she should remain silent, tender a one-line resignation and be done with it.
What say you?
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
As much as I hate to raise the issue of this particular bit of cultural pollution, I've been watching the story with a bit of interest. Not much, mind you.. but it's marginally interesting background noise.
It's pathetic to watch this woman having a major meltdown, trying to petition the governor to get out of her 45-day sentence.
Small wonder she's panicking! I seriously doubt she has the internal resources to deal with a situation like that.
When I was a kid, I saw a lot of this. In fact, we experienced it in my own family. My brother was caught in Glendale with marijuana in 1967. (It was a big deal then.) Attorneys were hired. Phone calls were made. He got a fine and probation for something most people would have suffered more severe consequences.
Where Paris Hilton actually lives, I have no idea. If I'm not mistaken, she lives in Brentwood which is a very exclusive neighborhood. She was raised in the very insular community of Bel Air. Regardless of that, given her mother's behavior in the courtroom, I'd say Paris was not raised with any concept of how to survive in the world, no matter where she lives. She definitely wasn't raised with any concept of accountability.
I have reservations about someone like Paris Hilton or any other young person from similar backgrounds going into the Lynwood jail. That is a rough place! For those not familiar with the Los Angeles area, Lynwood is a rather tough part of the region, not far from Watts, Paramount and Compton.
I do believe her life would be at risk.
While she needs to be punished and she needs to be confined for those 45 days, it doesn't seem wise to put her in a jail where she would be seriously at risk. She needs to suffer her punishment in an environment where she will be taught a lesson but not traumatized. It needs to scare hell out of her but not to the extent that her life or her mental health would possibly be permanently damaged.
That would be cruel and unusual, in my opinion. Surely there is another facility in the Los Angeles area that can take her.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Yesterday was a day filled with more drama with V. Drinking. Passing out. More excuses. More broken promises.
I broached a subject with D that I've avoided in the past because somehow I felt the need to give her hope, to always make her "feel" better.
I told her yesterday that until V accepts personal responsibility for his condition, it will never change and until she accepts her responsibility in enabling him to continue on this way, it will never change. It isn't what she wanted to hear and she didn't take it very well.
A year from now, it will be the same recriminations, the same drama, the same patterns. Over and over and over again. Finally, she will be broke and broken and there will be no final answer, no epiphany, no discovery of an ultimate meaning. Just a tragedy.
In my mind, that is what tragedy is all about. It is people being blown by the wind in all directions with no answers. It's people not telling each other the truth, even when it may not be what someone wants to hear.
When I look back on my own life, I've made a lot of mistakes. I feel no urgency to reveal all of them here but there are enough to allow me to see my own complicity and to ultimately have to take responsibility for having created many of the circumstances.
I remember when I really got it that I get to choose. Due to a multitude of conditions, I never really believed in my own ability to choose anything. I felt victimized by the tides, by the vicissitudes of life itself. I'd become fairly comfortable with that role.
My best friend in Minneapolis walked me through one of my dramas several years ago and finally said, "You know, you can choose to do things differently." It was like being hit in the head with a hammer. At first, I wanted to argue with her, to tell her that I wasn't stupid enough to be choosing these things that surrounded me. I wanted to believe that she was just being irritable or nasty with me because she, like everyone else, didn't really understand.
She understood a lot! And she told me the truth whether I wanted to hear it or not.
The more I thought about what she said, I was able to see a panoramic view of my own past and the results that came from the choices I'd made. Granted, some things just happened. They had nothing to do with anyone's choice. Life. Sometimes it sucks. And I'm not one of those who believes that we choose everything. Most things though.. well... we do.
I finally found the freedom I have now by being willing to take a hard look at what choices I make and how they've impacted my life. Some of my choices I stand by, even though the results are not optimal. I do know that knowing the power of choice is something that gives my life a meaning and a texture that it wouldn't have otherwise.
I know this is also true for V. He is going to have to own his circumstances one day. There will be no change until he is willing to be responsible for that. It's easier to be a victim. I know that from experience. It's less work, less soul-searching, less choice-making, fewer consequences. It's not that hard to sit still. There's no growth in stasis.
From now on, I'm not buying into this drama around here. If V chooses to change, if he chooses to do things differently, I'll break my ass to help him.
Until that time... I choose to detach from it.
Monday, May 07, 2007
Note: Some of you have captchas (verification words) that are grey.. on a grey marbled background. They take me six or seven tries.. and then I frequently have to give up. I can't read them. Just know please that I am reading and enjoying you... but will no longer be able to comment. Sorry.
Many, many years ago I read a book about female friendships. It was essentially a history of women's friendships over the years, how they were valued and nurtured.
In all honesty, my female friendships mean far more to me than romantic relationships. Now that I'm older (and perhaps always without my recognizing it necessarily ~ more on this another time), I have little to no interest in romantic relationships. There's something in the dynamic that just doesn't appeal to me.
These days, I completely value my female friendships. I could easily spend the rest of my life quite happily living with my closest female friends, offering each other support as we get older and creating a quiet, safe and stable life.
My female friendships have always had a depth and quality to them that I've never found in any romantic relationship, including my marriage. When I was married, there was always a tension there. We are different by nature, men and women ~ as it should be ~ but it seemed more energy than should be necessary was devoted to navigating those differences. Those differences were ultimately accepted as natural and the tension remained. In some ways, he saw me as a foreign creature and I saw him the same way. I had to give up large chunks of who I am to be with him and I'm sure he gave up large chunks of himself to be with me.
With my female friends, there is an understanding without words, without explanation, without tension. While our lifestyles and even some values might differ, there is a bond.
I find it interesting that two of my closest female friends are gay. I am not but on some level, I completely understand their preferences. I just don't have the hunger for an exclusive relationship with anyone so I can't imagine a gay relationship any more than I can imagine a straight relationship, even though one of my gay friends said I should "try" it.
Since my last attempt at having a romantic relationship, I spent a few months thinking about it and realized it is just not going to happen for me. In fact, truthfully, I don't even want it any more. In thinking about it, I came to that realization that I don't want to navigate those differences.
I'm quite comfortable in my world populated by females. While I do have a few male friends, the relationship is entirely different. How wonderful it is to be free to be who I am and so completely enjoy my female friends without strange dynamics running in the background like some unix script; unseen, unnoticed and hidden.
We females come with the internal "software" and know inherently how to support and nurture each other. We inherently know how to form community and community bonding.
Over the past 40 years or so, this has been devalued for a more aggressive, competitive woman who is encouraged to be just like a man. We've lost so much of what it means to be and have female friends as corporate and market values have replaced family and community values, using a perversion of feminism to reinforce it. When I look back and remember the early days of feminism, it was all about celebrating women. It was all about knowing that we did have value as human beings and that our roles meant something in the larger community as well as our own homes.
Now women are pressured to "get out there", even if they are content to stay home and keep the hearth.
Market values have ruined many things but perhaps the worst casualty is that connection we have to each other and the value we once placed on our role as the hearthkeepers, mothers, sisters, daughters and friends.
Sunday, May 06, 2007
Thanks for all the comments yesterday on "Why I Stay". I appreciate so much that so many people took their time (on a Saturday at that!) to give me some thoughts on this.
Many of them were right on target and that is what has prompted this post.
I wanted to go a bit further with it, maybe because I need to make a few things clearer than I did yesterday.
For one thing, D and V are both very "western culture". It's all about self-interest and their comfort. It's about money. I know that. In other words, I understand the risk inherent in what I am doing. If I became inconvenient to them for some reason or they decided to sell the house, move a relative in or any number of things, I would be out. My loyalty would not be returned. I absolutely, positively know that.
I get that. Totally. To have other expectations, given the culture I am living in right now, would be unrealistic.
There are also things that could make me leave. Example: If D raises the rent, I'm out of here. I am already paying 70% of my monthly income on rent.
For now... I'm staying because I can and because it's the right thing to do. At the root of all of this is my trying to do the right thing and, as someone mentioned, not be stupid about it.
I can find another place to rent. In fact, lately I've been considering moving to a lower cost part of the country because I am going to need certain funds available to get to Thailand and I live on a fixed income.
Those are just realistic things that have to be considered.
Still, when I do leave here.. which I will one day ~ either by default or on purpose ~ I leave knowing I did the right thing by them. I lived my principles in the best way I know how.
In the end, all I can do is live the way I think is right, treat people the way I believe is right and go from there. I can't be responsible for how they respond to it.
And... I am very open to suggestions on lower-cost-of-living areas.
Right now, it looks like Payson, Arizona is my best bet... unless I hear of something better.
Saturday, May 05, 2007
A few have asked why I stay in this living situation. This isn't exactly a re-creation of the post I deleted but hopefully it will explain some of my thinking on the matter.
I met D when I first arrived in northern California from Tucson. I was staying in the Budget Inn at I-80, just me and my carload of "stuff". There's no doubt that I was a bit of a stray cat at that time, not quite certain what I would do here.. or even if I would like it.
There were lots of rental ads in the paper but one caught my attention in particular. It was under "Temporary Rentals". "Small cottage for rent. Furnished."
It was that short. Really. But the word "cottage" set my fantasies running and it lived up to all of them. I called the number and said, "I just got here from Tucson. I'm looking for a place to rent. I can't afford deposits and have no credit to speak of. Given that, are you willing to let me see it."
D was on the other end of the phone. She said, in her thick Texas accent, "I don't need a deposit and as long as you pay the rent, I couldn't care less about your credit."
There was something about her blunt reaction to my blunt statement that set me into laughter.
I saw the cottage the next day and immediately fell in love with it. It was in her back yard, a guest house really. It was surrounded by cherry trees, nectarine trees, canopies of wisteria, a grape vine, honeysuckle and roses. It was stunning. Really. It was.
Four or five years later, due to V's spending, she had to sell that house. She asked me to move in here. I wasn't really too excited about the idea but it was cheap and we get along pretty well so I decided to give it a chance.
Without stating it openly, we established a certain set of standards by which we interact with each other. We've always been kind. She helped me out with things. I helped her out with things. When she got really sick a few years ago, I am the one who nursed her back to health. I made sure she took her medicine, that she got to doctor appointments and that she was fed and entertained to a degree. She trusted me with access to her bank accounts, let me pay her bills, use her car.... In essence, I was her errand runner.
I liked being needed that way. It fits right in with my natural inclinations.
A year ago this month, she told me that V would be moving here from Southern California. He'd finally hit rock bottom and needed a place to rebuild. I didn't know V so I was completely behind her. Thought it was a great idea.
Once I met V, I knew who I was dealing with. The man is a sociopath. He's a deadbeat and a liar. It's obvious what he's doing. He can be very charismatic but if you scratch beneath the surface, he is a hollow person. There's no one home inside.
What happened Thursday was not a complete surprise to me. I believe that if I hadn't broken up that fight, there might have been a homicide that day. When I broke it up, V had his hands around M's throat and was choking him. M was close to passing out. It scared the living hell out of me and I reacted out of instinct.
Prior to that event, I've never seen any violence around here. Ever.
D is devastated by V's problem. I know that.
She's getting old, to put it bluntly. I won't state her age, in deference to her Texas sensibilities.. but I'll say that she's more than 20 years older than me.
She's overly emotional, has a real problem letting go of her kids and has other issues but she has one of the biggest hearts I've ever known.
It would seem that I am the only support she has through all of this. Her kids are all a mess and she doesn't really have all that many friends. Why that is, I don't know.. but it's her situation.
So when I think about leaving her alone here with V, it doesn't seem possible.
Would I like to leave? Yes. In some ways, I would. I'm sick and tired of being around an alcoholic. I'm tired of his sucking the oxygen out of this place every time he goes on a binge. Life here revolves around what V is doing today. Is he drinking? Is he sober? Is he going to have any money for rent this month? You know, it's constant puddle-jumping from one V crisis to another. It's V drama, day in and day out.
But if there's one thing I've learned through my family experience, it is that loyalty means something and you don't bail because things are a bit tough.
I don't have it nearly as bad as D. I can come into my little granny unit and shut the doors. I am not forced to deal with it.
I do it for D. Simply. Because she has earned loyalty from me over ten years' time.
And she probably only has a few years left. She depends on me a lot more than she'd ever admit. Leaving her alone in this situation would feel like doing something so horribly wrong that I can barely let my mind go there.
What kind of person would I be to do that?
So, as you can see, it's a complicated situation. It's not just a matter of me leaving for my own comfort. It's a matter of leaving someone behind who doesn't really have a lot of resources.
That's why I stay.
Friday, May 04, 2007
I've noticed something very interesting about the animals I've had in my life over the years.
This morning, my dog was very careful around me. This has happened before, too. When I have one of my dark moods, she will avoid irritating me. It's not like she's afraid but I get the sense that she has an instinctive knowledge that I don't have much to share with her. She will lay quietly next to me or go off to her bed and stay there. Of course she gets fed and walked but giving her any more than that is more than I can do.
When I woke up today, she needed to know I was "okay" before she'd do her usual yelping and following. She waited very patiently for me to feed her. Later we'll go for a walk.
This might sound nutty, but I actually talk to my dog. I picked her up and explained to her that I am okay, that things will be normal today but I still need more quiet than usual. I also thanked her for taking such good care of me yesterday. Animals are capable of understanding far more than we realize sometimes. While I know she doesn't understand my language symbols, she is picking up my energy flow.
Has anyone else noticed this kind of intuition from their animals?
Thursday, May 03, 2007
Okay. I think I'll talk about this openly.
If anyone has noticed, De and I seem to go through similar cycles. She's had the courage to shut it down a few times and I haven't gotten there yet.
I'd like to talk about this blog insecurity stuff for a few minutes because I'm curious if others experience it.
This morning, I deleted a long, considered post about how I became part of this "family" here and why I find the idea of leaving to be difficult. For one thing, I'm an extremely loyal person. Loyalty isn't suspended because it's inconvenient. Things got tough here yesterday and I was seriously challenged. Still, I find the idea of bailing to be intolerable. D. and I have had a relationship for over ten years now and the idea of leaving her for my own comfort when she depends on me as much as she does is something I could not live with. When the day is done and all is told, all I've got is my integrity left.
She has problems, certainly. She is excitable and overly emotional. She doesn't always have a good handle on things but if there's anything of which I am certain, she has one of the biggest hearts I've ever known. Like many people, she has a lot of trouble setting boundaries.
But this is how I live in the world. These principles matter a lot. I get the shit for it more than I'd ever care to write about here. You can't imagine. People aren't always nice.. and they're not always kind or considerate. They do what they want, regardless of how it will affect anyone else. It sucks.. but there it is.
So, that said.. why did I delete the post? Here's where I am brutally honest.
I didn't feel like it measured up to the other sites I regularly read. It sat there and quivered for two hours and I blew it off the page. Click. Gone. It made me feel inadequate and ignored to see it sitting there so long.. so I thought "okay.. rather than sit here and feel humiliated any further, I'll just take it down." I did it with some resentment. While I do have a commitment to a certain way of life, I'm not perfect. There's no Bodhi tree in my backyard and I don't have all the answers. Hell, I'm lucky if I have a few ... now and then. I stumble and fall and when I stumble and fall, I fall hard. My decisions are always questionable when I get in that frame of mind.
Part of it is the fact that I have a mood disorder but that's only a small part of it. It mostly comes from plain old-fashioned insecurity. It's the kind that no one gets to just grow up and be rid of it. I'm headed toward senior citizenship and I still fall to it, more than I like to admit.
Now, the blogging insecurity stuff. I've been bitten hard by it, have seen others bitten hard by it .. and there are things I just wonder about.
I wonder if everyone experiences it.
I also wonder why some people can publish their freaking grocery lists and others slavishly can't wait to get in line to say something.
This baffles me. It is one of the core things that has baffled me about social interaction in general. It has driven me to complete isolation in the past because I gave up on it. I stopped trying to understand.
There are others who pour out their hearts and souls in a brutally honest manner and they are not acknowledged. (I've noticed this at several sites. I'm not referring to this one at this point. I have a wonderful gathering of people, even though I don't have as many as some.. and more than others. This site is not one of the "popular" sites, but I do think people appreciate my honesty. More on this site another time. I'm not ready to discuss that.)
What I know... what little I know from my limited life experience .. is that we are all struggling here on this plane of existence, doing the best we can with what we have. A little bit of kindness goes a long way... and the wisdom each of us has gathered should be shared freely. (God swat me down! I used a no-no word in this culture: should ~ but I stand by it.) We should .. absolutely.
If anyone can enlighten me as to why this popularity stuff goes on here, please let me know. It is beginning to irritate the crap out of me. I see people being hurt by this. I've been hurt by it. I suspect everyone has at one time or another.
My ears are open. Comment anonymously if you like.