Sunday, August 31, 2008

Remember This?

It's the 18-month plan that on a lark I wrote up in January. Some things I didn't even dare to dream about (such as reclaiming my academic self) -and therefore didn't make the list- have happened. Other things (ummm...weigh 110???) are not even close. But all in all, I'm making progress.


Weigh 110 by August (N's graduation) -AHEM, I can only be called off-message on this one.
Train for a triathlon –whether or not you do one! -nope
GITAP (long-distance bike ride) -scheduling trouble for this particular ride, but I have been riding
Daily yoga practice -not yet, but I'm edging closer
Have people over for brunch regularly -not brunch, but I have been having people over -and I have some better ideas here.
Build a wine collection -yes!
Keep a bottle of good champagne in the fridge -yes!
Find a neighborhood bar -yes!
Exercise 6 days a week -not yet, but I'm edging closer
Maintain relationship with Sarah the wonder-hair-dresser -yes!
Rock climbing –the goal is weekly climbing, but I’d settle for twice a month –in March, become a member -yes!
Get better work clothes -yes!
resume daily riding as soon as the weather allows -well, it's not daily, but it's frequent
go to the gym at least three days a week -probably I'm at two days/week, and that's new. But it's progress.
set up workout room and yoga space -getting there, slowly

Figure out a way to do this relationship demise thing gracefully and how to survive it. -I'm surviving.
Send birthday cards -so-so
Get an address book -yes!
Update it yes!
Write to out of the area friends -yes!
Update emergency contact information -yes!
Get a will and advanced health care directives -not yet
Update funeral arrangements -yes!

Buy the house -very close now
Get a new furnace and central air -not until I own the house
Re-create the gardens -no, still lost here
Buy some new furniture -new couch and some outdoor furniture -I got the outdoor furniture and a kitchen table, instead. The couch is disgusting and must go, but I haven't figured out what I want.
Focus on safety, security, and grace -YES!

Professional; Financial; Educational
Re-learn to do a cartwheel -haven't even tried
Take a few yoga workshops -I went to one, so far
Think about the next job –craft the plan -working on it
Write the preemie knits book -yeah....about that.... this is slow
Get the preemie pattern book published -gotta have a book before it can be published
Work for the 18 months I promised at Hesed House. -getting there
At 12-month anniversary, start looking for the next thing. Keep working until you find it. -I'm not waiting.
Keep planning interesting things at the yarn shop. -hmmm..... musing, here. I DO want to plan interesting things with knitters, possibly not with the yarn shop as the focus.
Attend an international conference. -working out the details; this could happen
Keep the idea of a social justice institute alive in your heart and mind -what can you do to make it a reality? -every day, I think about this!
Retirement planning, in this brave new single world :( -yeah. yuck. but I'm doing it.

Spiritual; Communal
Find a volunteer opportunity that nurtures you and does some good. -my job is essentially a volunteer position, I'm paid so little :(
Buy flowers once a month -I just get them out of the garden now.
Join a book club -yes
Donate blood -I haven't.
Become an NPR member -yes
Get back to buying organic and fair trade whenever possible -yes
Advocate for bicycling in town and elsewhere -yes
See if Newman can still be your spiritual community -haul your sorry self back to church! -I tried. It hasn't worked just yet.
Reconnect with almost-lost friends -yes!
Nurture connections with all friends -I could do a lot better at this.
Daily meditation as part of yoga practice -well, it's not daily, but I'm getting there.

Expeditional; Recreational
Go to the movies once a month -probably
Travel outside of the US -not yet, but there are plans
See live music and dance -yes!
Stay up dancing until the wee hours of the morning -not yet!
Sib trip -YES!
GITAP -scheduling problems
Start planning for a volunteer vacation –internationally -I had forgotten about this one.
Figure out a way to go to an international conference. -yes
Save for Tuscany trip -well, the savings are modest, for sure, but they're there.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

I Didn't Know my Own Strength

Yesterday was a bad day. Bad days happen in perfectly wonderful lives. I know that. Of course, knowing that to be true doesn't make dealing with those days any easier. This day held many forms of ickiness. Work was hard and unrewarding and unsupported. I got some bad news about a house project I want to undertake. I couldn't spend time with friends when I wanted to, because of legal tasks that had to be completed. Whine, whine, whine...

The point is, I had a split second of thinking that I couldn't handle all of this, that I wanted someone else to fix it. I don't want that, really. I can fix it. I am not powerless here. It's just that things don't always turn out the way I want them to turn out. But engrossed in self-pity as I was, I almost didn't notice this song playing on the new iPod:

I've been livin' with a heart on the mend
Wonderin' how will I ever be strong
I know I'll live to love again
I just leaned on
you too long
It's been an uphill fight
But I'm gonna be alright

I didn't know my own strength
'Till I had to pick myself up
And carry on without your love
I'm gettin' back on my feet
It's been a long hard fall
But I'll make it after all
I didn't know my own strength

I've had oceans of tears to get through
And the weight of the world on my mind
There've been mountains of memories to move
And I've been beating back the blows to my pride
But 'til the times got tough
I never knew what I was made of
Then the times got tough
And I knew what I was made of

It's Lorrie Morgan. Go to iTunes and download it and sing it with me ;) I downloaded it in 2007, before I ever had the slightest inkling -in my conscious mind- that I would need it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My New Toy

There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth here in the cornfields. You thought that noise you heard was, possibly, the aftereffect of Hurricane Fay. Nope, that was me howling. My workhorse of an iPod -to whom (whom???) I had not been overly nice- died. I thought perhaps it was the battery, and brought it in to the apple store. Nope. They replaced the battery, for a reasonable fee, but that was not it. I had dropped the poor dear into a puddle. She seems to have gone on to meet her maker.

I apparently can not survive without an iPod. Well, I could survive. But... music in the house is essential. Music when I work out is absolutely essential. Music when I walk across campus is certainly nice. So, here she is. The new silver 160 gig iPod. 160 gig, forcryingoutloud!!! Who needs that? But it was cheaper than the 80 gig, because of a weird sale at Best Buy, so there you go.

Now she needs a name. I'm leaning towards Calliope.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

My Manga

Jill over at Writing or Typing knows all the cute new internet tricks. Her manga looks like her. Mine is cuter than me. I suppose I ought to have included some gray in my hair. Or eliminate it from my actual hair ;)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Happy happy day, dear one

V holds N -many moons ago
Originally uploaded by Andrea1

See how Victoria is staring at you, as though you were a gift from the universe? She still thinks that! And it's just mildly possible that I do, too!

Here's a more recent photo. You've become quite the man -if somewhat irritated with me for taking your picture in public ;)

glamorous climbers


Thursday, August 21, 2008

On-Board Navigation

NO!!! She's not going there! I will NOT use my new Tom-Tom navigation system as a metaphor.

Life is a journey. Show me the way. Chart a course. Plot your path.

Oh, just gag me with a spoon.

Stop bossing me the #($* around, that's what I think. But... the truth is, along with one of my sisters, I have a SPECTACULAR ability to get lost. Huge. Knows no limits. Truly a thing of astounding power. That's my ability to get lost. I ended up in Battle Creek, Michigan once when I was supposed to be in Milwaukee. Wrong state. Yeah, I know. In a tragic marital moment, I took us across the same bridge in Montreal THREE times, because I was reading the map rather than driving. That wasn't a good day. And then there was the day when the similarly-impaired sister and I were wandering around Philadelphia, looking for each other. We found each other because her son was with her and my phone had a fairly primitive navigation service. And even then, we almost missed each other because we were on opposite sides of the street. Viewed from the sky, it was probably hilarious. Not so much, when viewed at street level!

When one has an impairment, it is not weakness to ask for help. It's just plain sensible to use assisting devices and assistants when, otherwise, life would be smaller and more limited.

I use mapquest a lot. It has saved my backside more than once. There are several things that mapquest won't do for me, however. If, you know, just for the sake of argument, I turn left when it says right -and then completely screw up the correction and become hopelessly turned around- mapquest doesn't know what to do. It knows how to get me from where I started to where I said I wanted to go, assuming I do what I'm told to do. Ask my mother how likely that last bit is.

Tom-Tom will at least figure out where I am and allow for mid-point corrections. So far, she hasn't said "For the love of God, I SAID turn LEFT." I work in a town I don't live in -a town there's really no point in being in, except for work or living. It's not as though one seeks out Aurora, Illinois as a destination. People live there because it's close to Chicago. People work there, because....well, in my case, because poor people live there and someone was willing to pay me to help them.

I've worked there eight months and I've figured out a few different ways to get to work and back, how to get to the Panera for coffee, and how to get to the gym. That's it. But I could, hypothetically, go from work to the city (meaning Chicago) and THEN go home. Except my brain starts to melt at the navigational challenge. Or I could go rock climbing with my son and boy buddies and then go to Panera and then go to work. After I breathe into this paper bag because I'm sure I'll end up in Indianapolis by accident.

Tom-Tom was on sale. It's a bargain, even if the navigator is a little snotty. My life will get a little bigger -and all for under $200. I'm good with that.

And life actually is a journey.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Rigor Vita

That's probably the wrong declension of vita, and I'm too tired to go look it up. A thousand apologies.

But the point is there.... I've hit a spot in my life where I'm feeling rigid, literally and metaphorically. I've watched other women in the middle of a divorce go through this. There have been unspeakable, shaming boundary violations. Then, as part of healing there's a time when, truly, compromise is possible. But instead she draws a line in the sand and defends it for all she's worth. The line is not important, possibly even to her. It's the defense that's important. I WILL stand my ground. I will NOT permit boundary violations. There will be NO compromise.

Subtext: Because I'm afraid that if I give you even an inch, and you hurt me again, I will die.

That's the part I didn't know before. It's interesting.

Yes, I drew a line. I defended it. Possibly, modest defense was appropriate; rigidity was unnecessary. I'm not apologizing, exactly. He deserves all I can dish out and more. But I am saying that rigidity is uncomfortable for me. I don't care whether he likes it or not. I don't like it. I just don't know how to be both flexible and protected -or strong and open -or fierce, but not snarling.

This kind of rigidity really is rigor mortis, or rigor vita, I suppose, since I'm not dead. Life unyielding. That's not what I want. I want my life to soar, but something is weighing me down again. How can it be a person's presence in a community? Well, it can't be. It's the power I assign to that person's presence.

And wandering down the curvy pathways of my mind.... we get to yoga. Again. (I know... just hang on. There may be a point here, somewhere.) There's a "reclaiming my body" post rattling around in my brain, but it's not finished. But I do know that yoga -literally and metaphorically- knows something about strength and flexibility, and fierce concentration with an open heart. If I have lost my mental and emotional agility, I have also lost my (formerly considerable) physical flexibility. Both can come back, but it takes work.

From psychology, we know that sometimes people store unexamined (not-yet-examinable, frequently) pain in a physical body part. There's a reason that people get chronic stomach aches or neck pain or headaches or... whatever. A single individual typically gets a certain kind of stress pain, not all of the kinds. Without going overboard, the pain tells us a little something about what the unexamined issue is.

We usually think that therapy or time will heal the issue, and the body pain will ameliorate. But it can go the other way. Sometimes there's a physical release first; yoga and dance are frequently the agents here. The pain gives way, and the emotional issue...well, it doesn't go away, but it becomes available to examination.
Its power to frighten is reduced.

Good lord, is anyone still with me????

Here's the point. (and the crowd breathes a sigh of relief) I can confront these issues from both sides. I think. I muse/brood/reflect. I write. I talk. I post here. I have a long-suffering life coach. I'm doing what can be done on that side of the equation for my own healing and thriving. Yet, for so many reasons, I could try to reclaim some flexibility from the physical side. Even if the emotional breakthrough isn't sudden and momentous (and for most people it isn't), there's power in following my goals and dreams in the physical arena. That power could inform all the other dream-building that I'm doing.

And, my back might hurt a little less ;)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Mamma Mia!

Go see Mamma Mia! Really.

Well, go see it if you're a woman of a certain age. It's hilarious and campy and charming. It's got Colin Firth AND Pierce Brosnan. I mean, for heaven's sake, it's a bargain at $8 and some popcorn ;) You'll be embarrassed to notice that you know all the words to all the ABBA songs, but so does everyone else in the theater.

Meryl Streep can just plain do anything. She makes being the mother of a too-young bride and working as a struggling hotelier glorious. She wears her scroungy overalls and fixes shutters and dances and is crazy-sexy.

The characters are under-drawn,I admit. The girlfriends are kind of caricatured, and we never really figure out the boyfriends at all. But it's a movie based on ABBA songs; stop looking for art!!!

Compare it to Sex and the City-which I've seen all of once, but that doesn't stop me from making proclamations. There we have 20-something gorgeous girls in their uncomfortable shoes that cost as much as my car. They sit around in coffee shops and agonize about how miserable they are. The women in Mamma Mia have suffered, right enough, but they dance through it.

Except for the personal quibble that it mometarily gave me hope that love thought to be long-dead can come back -which is not where I need to place my hope- the movie was a non-stop delight. I'd see it again, if anyone is up for it.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A Rocky Patch

I'm ok. I really am. I know that. But this is a bit of a rocky patch, and I might as well acknowledge that too.

Dave is back in town, and I realized that once again I am living my life as though he were watching. I know he isn't, and I had let go of doing that months ago. But it's back; I'm doing it again. For example, a good person would be out on her bike now; it's a beautiful day. But I'm tired. I worked a full day today and it's bloody Saturday. What I wanted to do was read my mail while sitting outside in my pretty yard. That's what I did. But the voices in my head weren't quite still, as you can see. A good person... a worthy person... would be....

Oh, shut the #)(* up. I'll do some other exercise tonight, and it will be fine.

And last night I went to Barnes and Noble for some R&R, and saw Dave's picture on the cover of a book. I had NO idea that was forthcoming. I think I visibly recoiled and audibly gasped. He looks good. He looks happy. He's not wearing his wedding ring. (Well, duh, neither am I.) He's doing fine without me. Plotz, went my self esteem.

And I have to, absolutely have to, confront the legal details of the end of my marriage. I have to decide what I want and need to get as part of the settlement. Child of the South that I am (channeling Scarlett O'Hara as I write) I've been avoiding it. "I'll think about it tomorrow," in good Southern tradition. Scarlett needs to vanish for a little while, and competent Andrea needs to show up.

There's some good forward motion here. I'm making progress in some really good ways that have absolutely nothing to do with Dave. I'm following my dreams and my strengths toward something wonderful. I knew this evening-I absolutely knew- that having Dave sitting in the other Adirondack chair reading his own mail or chatting idly with me would never happen again. I knew I was okay with that. I know that I did good work today. I knew that I had made some good professional strides.

It just doesn't matter that I'm tired being brave. I have to keep on being brave.

Damn it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I know. I'm the last to know about wordles. Jill has one on her blog and I thought they were charming. Then I did one, and Dave had the biggest word cloud that day.

There are going to be some changes around here, thought I! You can be all kinds of things, buster, but you can't be my biggest word cloud. Of course, no one put him there but me.

Then I did one yesterday, and toilets figured fairly prominently. Nope... that's not right or representative, either.

This is better. Sisters. Brothers. Thought. Words. Fix. That's more like it!

But the only way I could figure out how to get it here on my blog was to save it as a screenshot. There must be a better way. I defer to finer minds.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Cover Me! I'm Going In!

There are two toilets in my home. Alas, neither of them is working perfectly.

Thought 1) Perhaps a husband does have a use.

Thought 2) Nah...toilets don't break often enough.

Thought 3) I can't do this. My home-fixing skills extend to changing lightbulbs, IF I can find the ladder, a light bulb, and the time. Otherwise, I wait until hanging out in the dark gets ridiculous.

Thought 4) Oh for heaven's sake. I can learn this. (Because no folly was ever preceded by those words!)

So far, I've done what I would do -asked people, downloaded information, and bought a book. St. Paul, the maintenance director at work, knows my skills. I described the problem of toilet #1 and asked if I could fix it. He paused. He grimaced a little. He said that this isn't the easiest fix to start with, but that if I put his number into my phone's directory, he would authorize it. Trixie, the hardware goddess, was more empowering. She just handed me the parts I need, said "don't forget to turn off the water and stay calm," and sent me on my way.

Did you know that there's a "fix my toilet" blog? I certainly didn't. It hasn't been updated in a while, but it's a ...ummmm..... font of information. (sorry) Fix My Toilet.

Here's the thing. I don't particularly crave knowing how to fix my toilet. There are people who need to earn a living who are willing to do these gross things. I could call one of them -and I have one on speed-dial, just in case. But I DO crave not being craven, if you will. I want to conquer one more thing that I would casually have handed off to someone else, in my old life.

I'll keep you posted! I'm going in.

I think this is where I need to be working:

Oh my LORD.... there are no WORDS on these directions. Just pictures. And TELL me that thing is not called a ball cock. Really. Little wonder I can't do this!!!

Much later... I DID IT. You'll just have to picture me having a celebratory glass of...something... in the bathroom ;)

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Towering Inferno...

Originally uploaded by The Bread And The Knife
...that was my birthday cake!

This video is my sister's. That's Jeanine's voice you hear. She's using Patrice's camera. And I was oblivious until the cake was at my elbow.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Casting a Circle

It's been a roller-coaster sort of week. My birthday weekend was unspeakably lovely. A weekend to remember forever. It was marred only by the information that Dave has returned to town. He had the grace and good sense to stay away during that weekend. Starting Monday night, though, we've had a few efforts at communication. They were spectacularly unsuccessful.

An interesting (to me) thing to notice is that he doesn't have the power to fundamentally de-rail me anymore. He can't hurt me. I'm pretty sure he can't hurt me legally, and I'm certain that he can't hurt me emotionally. Directed hatefulness (or maybe it's just disdain. Who can say?) can slow a person down for a bit, right enough. But when you realize that it only says anything about the initiator of it, it loses its power.

But I want to keep it that way. Our Wiccan sisters and brothers cast a circle when there's a need for safety. Positive energy and power are kept in and negative energy is kept out. I don't have any interest in casting a spell (unless someone knows how to turn a mathematician into a water slug. No....No... I'm trying to rise above!) But I want to borrow their metaphor, creating a circle of joy that he can't penetrate.

Maybe everyone has a little magic ;) How would I do this?

Friday, August 08, 2008

Oh, the Mystery

We were transported. Three sisters' purses lined up, revealing all kinds of things about each of us.

The one sister... What we said: tidy, contained, professional, classic, doesn't need a lot of stuff because a) she has a staff, and b) she freakin' gets things done.

What she thought: wound up a little tight, too reserved... "Oh my God, do my accessories not reflect my true inner self? Or worse... do they???

The next sister... What we said: hip, professional, arty, cool but not at all over the edge

What she thought: desperate to find the next hip thing, I have the same bag as every other person trying to accomplish the same thing.

The next sister... What we said: creative, no one else has this bag, cute (did we say cute?)

What she thought: It's $10 of fabric from the cupboard and a D-Ring from Jo-anne Fabrics. I'm so lame.

So... now that some of you have met my sisters, whose bag is whose? And why in the bloody blue blazes are we so hard on ourselves??

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Can I Have an Extension???

It's the end of the semester and that's the song in the air, so I might as well sing it too ;)

Here's what's going on. I promise. I have eloquent posts floating around in my head. But yesterday I had three papers and a presentation due. Dave's back in town and was quite convinced that I was going to let him come get his stuff yesterday, in spite of my clear indication that Tuesday was the ONLY day this week that didn't work for me. Standing my ground led to some contretemps that were unpleasant and probably unproductive.

I tried to explain that things are different now. I will not cower when he blusters. (I didn't phrase it like that.) Almost without a doubt, he thinks I was being bitchy. If that's his only language for a strong woman who takes up space on the planet, well, so be it. His vocabulary limitations are not my problem.

And then tonight, I got called in to work unexpectedly.

I will download pictures and write about my birthday. I promise. One of my sisters has some interesting video I will try to embed.

In the meantime, I offer you this -the first draft of my new intention statement for my life. It's about where I want to go, but phrased in the present tense. Hopefully, that will help me live the dream. Questions? Comments?

I am a scholar-practitioner, working to create a gentler world for the poorest and a more vibrant world of ideas for the community of scholars. I am a playful athlete and a confident creator of beautiful things. I cherish my family and friends and let them know it. I go to bed at night certain that I have done my best to create the conditions of my own life.

Monday, August 04, 2008

I Won't Be Gone Long

I had a birthday to make my heart sing. I have pictures. I want to tell you about it,


I have SO MUCH TO DO. I'm sick-to-my-stomach busy for the next 48 hours. I'm hoping to make it through with some grace and skill, but the grace and skill part might be eluding me.

I'll post on Thursday, complete with pictures and fawning over my amazing friends and family and ... all the things I want to do. Just hang on, please.