Sunday, November 30, 2008

We're Tuesday People

Bonus points for anyone who recognizes the quote ;)

Hint: I have nothing so wise to offer as Morrie. But the fact is, I have a huge (to me) manuscript due Tuesday evening. There will be no other writing, no cleaning, no cooking, NO #)($ PLAYING ON FACEBOOK, until this paper is finished. It's not going all that well, truth be told.

But come Tuesday, I can take a deep breath, relax, and begin to meaningfully undertake my first Advent and Christmas as ME. Until then, if you see me on facebook, kick my sorry self back to writing. PLEASE.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I Dreamed My Garden

This is weird on so many levels.

For one thing, my dreaming is strange. I don't typically dream in pictures at all. I don't know how to tell you about it. It's not strictly auditory and yet when I tell people "it's like when you read" that doesn't seem to help, either. Apparently most people get pictures from their reading too. But really, I dream. Just not in pictures. I was relieved to discover that at least one of my sisters dreams similarly, because I was starting to feel a little weird. Perhaps using her as a benchmark of normalcy isn't my BEST idea, but I'm grasping at straws here ;)

And the second thing is that I haven't gardened in years. There was that one day when Terri came and we yanked weeds for HOURS and had a lot of fun. But that is the sum total of the yard work I've done this year. I hired someone to mow, and will do so again next year. Oh, I raked once -about a year ago, come to think of it.

And in spite of all that, I dreamt with such breathtaking visual clarity about my yard and its gardens that I had to get out of bed at 2:30 in the morning and draw what I saw. I know which colors go where. I know where I'm building on things that are already there and where I'm crafting something new. I know where the deck I'm fantasizing about goes and how it's shaped. I know that I need a bench to go with my Adirondack chairs. I know that I want to make a mini-labyrinth from bricks in the side yard. It's all there.

It's a lifetime of work, I know. But I'm not freaked out about it. I know where I'm going now!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Organizing Andrea

I was going for a sort of "Educating Rita" theme with the title, but there's no drunken-but-wise professor helping me here. Quite the contrary. Do you ever feel that the universe is having a good laugh at your expense, thinking up ways to, well, fuck you over?

Nothing major, really. I'm past the latest (oh please god, the last) dark place due to what's his name. It's the little stuff -piled up- that ought to be funny, but never ever is, that's getting to me today. Historical examples include the time, 20 years ago, when I was all dressed for work. I thought toddler-Nicholas was coming over to hug me goodbye. Nope. He picked up the hem of my skirt, blew his nose in it, and wandered away -satisfied with a job well done. I was late for work.

Mostly, though, I do this stuff to myself. In the past few days, my mishaps have involved coffee -twice. I'm making a pretty little knitted coat for my baby niece. She's my ONLY niece, so, until she can talk and complain about it, she's getting girly ruffles and frou-frou from Auntie Andrea. After miles of fair-isle and ruffles and color changes, I dumped coffee on it. Because I thought that would be a nice touch :( I soaked it all day, and now it's drying in the downstairs bathroom -because it's the warmest room in the house, and I can put the garment on the floor right in front of the heating vent. Of course, if you have to actually USE the bathroom, you had better plan ahead and use the upstairs bathroom. I can't tell yet if the jacket is permanently stained, but I'm quite sure that walking on it won't improve the situation.

I started another little sweater -much less impressive- just in case. Sigh.

And, I dumped coffee all over my not-inexpensive, but useful to me, large-scale paper planner. As the last of the Luddites I use an old-fashioned write-it-down planner. I see things better this way. Unfortunately, though, I dumped a lot of coffee on it. A WHOLE lot. Don't ask. It's too embarrassing. Let's just say that the planner is a mess and pretty much unusable.

So, I hauled my sorry, messy self to the bookstore and bought a 2009 planner, with pretty picture of Tuscany in it. I can certainly use this as I go about to meetings. And the computing power of a university is considerably greater than that of a homeless shelter. So I've spent the day wondering if, with better tools, I can find a web-calender that works for me. Or, I can use google-calendar, like everyone else, and develop note-sheets and templates that work for my other notes and lists and reflections.

And here I'm a little stumped. I've developed the forms. I have to upload them to ...somewhere... to be able to see them while I'm at work, right? Where would one store these things? I was looking at blogger to see if there's a way to do it here, but I haven't come up with anything useful.

Surely, I can make this work, but I need a little help.

Friday, November 21, 2008

All Alone in the Dark

So much about my life is going really well, you guys. I'm flying -or starting to- and I had thought my wings were permanently broken. This state of affairs is not much shy of miraculous, when you get right down to it. But I do this thing that reveals that I'm still not okay.

I look at people's hands to see if they're wearing wedding rings, and it's not because I want to see if they're single. I want to see if they're partnered, and my next, covetous thought is "You don't have to be alone in the dark". "Somebody knows your flaws and keeps you around anyway."

I hate it when I think like this. But the thinking goes something like.... everybody is broken, I get that. Everyone is flawed. But for those of you who are still partnered, bad could your flaws be? Your partner still sees them as less important than your good features. My no-longer-partner no longer weighs things that way, clearly, and in the last bit of cruelty wanted everyone to know. I'm SO flawed that he had to find other lovers and kick me to the curb and endanger my safety. It was justified, somehow.

Yes, I hear you. It's not about my flaws; it's about his. Of course, I'm flawed, but nothing in me deserved this. I'm still alone in the dark, you guys. I don't want to limit myself anymore, but I don't think I dare EVER risk a committed relationship again. So...yeah.... self-imposed limits. I can't do it. Because of him...because of me...because of the peculiar confluence of the two of us, I'll be alone in the dark for the rest of my life.

The only defense I have is that nobody's okay, when you get right down to it. Everybody has pain and sadness. They may not put it out on blogs, but it's there. Sadness is just part of the human condition; I will probably always have a Dave-sized hole in my heart. Eventually that will stop defining me.

But today is not that day.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Andrea's Parlor of Wonders ;)

I found my kitchen.

OK, it wasn't lost. And even MY legendary ability to get lost doesn't extend to getting lost in my own house. (Well, there was that one time, but I was sort of tipsy and we had just moved here. Let's assume that was atypical.) But I haven't eaten like a civilized person in close to two years; my kitchen was functionally lost to me. I think I'm on a better path now.

My long-suffering life coach encourages me to step into my new life as the real Andrea. (She says it better. I'm just struggling along in her jet stream.) And in that spirit, the thing I said I would work on this week is my physical health -hauling my sorry self to the gym and yoga class. And then I immediately got crazy-sick. I slept 17 hours yesterday. There was no gym happening.

I have been cooking, though, which is another one of those pieces of me that needs reclaiming and celebrating. I went to the grocery store and bought reasonable quantities of good food. Real food. There is some sadness (not much, but some) involved in leaving my job at the shelter, but there is no sorrow in leaving the food behind. Egad. If I never see another day-old pastry from Dominick's I will be fine. Now I get to eat the food I want.

Tonight's dinner: jambalaya and a glass of white wine and a little leftover salad. I bought the wine for the label: Little Black Dress. It may well stink, but it's a great label! And tonight before bed I'm going to throw some potatoes and stuff into the crockpot for a potato cheese soup for tomorrow's dinner. I'm on a roll.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Well, what do you know!

The AMW* is no more. I mean, she still (I assume) exists as a person, but she doesn't have a role in MY life any more. Huh.

I really don't keep tabs on these things. Here's the background. There was a court date last Monday. Mostly it went fine. But, the judge (in my always-revered legal opinion /sarcasm) overstepped his bounds once and asked if the girlfriend was still in the picture and would we consider getting back together. There was no answer (as much as I wanted one); the lawyers stepped in and promised to talk to us about it. I stuttered and stammered and made no sense at all when the question was addressed to me.

But -I confess- I did have a tawdry curiosity as to what was going on there. So, I asked someone who would know. Nope. This person was circumspect and did not give me details, just the barest fact. The AMW's out of the picture

But here's the thing. Either she dumped him -doubtless when he got to be troublesome and needy- or he dumped her, or they just drifted apart because they live thousands of miles apart. But the fact remains that he was willing to end a marriage for a relationship that lasted just over a year -18 months at the most. SHE was clearly a red herring. She was a device he used to let me know I was meaningless to him.

And THAT's why there is no possibility that we can get back together. She was an annoyance to be sure, but never the most important part of the problem as far as I was concerned. And now I know why. It just took me a week to figure out my answer, that's all. The good news about l'esprit d'escalier is that eventually you DO figure out the right thing to say. I am not meaningless and certainly don't need to be in a relationship with someone who thinks that I am. So there ;)

*Argentinian Math Whore

Sunday, November 16, 2008

And Darkness Covered the Earth

I've lost my voice. Not metaphorically, as I've fretted about in the past, but literally. It's really, really gone. And my head feels like it's about 3 feet across and filled with fluids of the most revolting viscosity. I'm not fit for human company; I'm going back to bed.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Grace Notes

Proving yet again that Andrea can obsess about anything at all, I finally have a new toy. It's wonderful, but it took me forever to actually plunk down the (small, actually) wad o' cash and get it done. It's improved my life so much I can't even TELL you.

Lacking a husband upon whom to warm my cold feet when I get into bed (never one of his favorite things about me, but surely a legitimate use of a husband!), I've been cold for AGES. I want to be warm and cozy in my bed. I have flannel sheets, which do take off that "oh my god, please shoot me now" chill when you first jump into bed. I have warm and pretty blankets. I was doing fine, I suppose, but still not really sleeping well.

And remember, this is a drafty large house. If I turn the heat up enough to be warm, I'd be paying so much for heat I'd probably have to not eat or something. (Question for the sages, why can't a women who actually likes to be hot be the one to have hot flashes?? Not a one. I suppose I should be grateful, but it does seem sort of backwards.) And besides, it doesn't make sense to heat the whole house when all that needs to be warm is my little space. It felt like I was being a greedy over-consuming American to have my house actually warm enough. On the other hand, it felt grim and mean to keep the heat at the suggested levels.

Then I noticed my massage therapist's trick of a heated mattress pad. Not the blanket, the pad. I thought you had to get one at some super-trendy massage therapist place. She looked at me like I was vaguely unintelligent. Nope, you can get one at Target.

Then I had to start worrying if they were safe and environmentally okay. As to safety, you can buy unsafe ones, so you have to be careful. But the wattage is much lower than an electric blanket. Some of them are on a thermostat and turn themselves off at a suggested temperature. Most of them are on a timer, so you can't forget and leave them on all day. There's the whole "sleeping in an electric field" thing... Anyway, suffice it to say I got the safest one -and paid a little more for that.

Then I started the "but is it a good idea for the planet" fretting. (Honest to God, it's a miracle I get anything at all done.) I'm not entirely sure yet, but here's my thinking. For one thing, it's better than an electric blanket, since all the generated heat stays in the bed. There's a sheet over the mattress pad, after all. And, so far anyway, I've been able to sleep comfortably with my furnace turned all the way down to 50 degrees (Fahrenheit) at night. So, I've added about 6 hours a day (as long as I have time to sleep) of not having the heat turned on. That has to be good for the environment (and my gas bill, I'm hoping).

Of course, the flip side is that I'm using more electricity and that bill will go up. But this is the frozen tundra, remember ;) Heat is a huge expense for us; my gas bill is just over $200 a month every month. This is the "budget plan". (Did I just hear WTF from the peanut gallery? That's what I say every month.) My electric bill is about $29 a month. Soon I'll be able to let you know if the one comes down more (or less) than the other goes up.

And... you know what, I'm sleeping really well for the first time in over a year. It's been getting better across the year, so some improvement is just getting over the emotional trauma. But there's been a noticeable improvement in the last week. And I think I've demonstrated to myself (ahem....again) that the small things matter.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Just Before Dawn

Lest you think that I have sole rights to leading a chaotic life within my family, here's some funny news. I just got my Christmas present from my brother - from last year. I celebrated Christmas with his family last year and collected too much loot to bring home on the plane. So I packed it up in a box, ready for shipping. I left it on the floor in their guest room, where it sat until three days ago.

I know how this happened. How often do you even go IN your guest room, to get a visual reminder that there's something in there you need to do?? And they have a spunky little two year old who keeps them occupied. And two older boys. And puppies. So I'm not at all aggravated, but -in the tradition of siblings everywhere- I do reserve the right to tease him ;)

I had forgotten when was even in the box, so it was Christmas all over again. It was thrilling! One of the things in there was a CD my sister compiled for me, of "you can do it, there is hope, that bastard's not worth your tears" songs. I uploaded it to Calliopod, the new iPod, last night. What a treat!!

And naturally, I'm at work without my iPod, so I can't even share the playlist with you. I'll add it tonight, because you should download these songs. Among other things, the CD showed me how far I've come in a year. I still love the songs, but I don't need them quite as much.

Grief is peculiar. People say you are going to get over it, and you know they're wrong. And then it turns out that they were right. It's truly starting to look like dawn around here.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Head Banging

Yes, that's what I'm doing -and I'm neither self-soothing (as in disturbed and frustrated children) nor dancing (as in Wayne's World). It's more like the Charlie-Brown-head-thunk, and it's all about this paper I have to (get to) write.

See, the thing is I want to know why classes in homeless shelters don't work. We offer parenting classes, and the parenting doesn't change. We offer nutrition claases, and the eating doesn't change. We offer money-smart classes and no one's any the wiser. So, what are we supposed to do??? We can't just pretend that these things aren't issues.

As a body of professionals, we thought it was about barriers. We've done yeoman's work towards eliminating those barriers. We have child-care, classes offered on-site, multi-cultural teachers, interpreters.... Nope. Still no change.

There's also a small body of literature that suggests that it's really an act of political resistance -possibly not articulated that way- to be non-compliant. On some level, people know that all social service agencies are actually state agencies. We aren't in a literal, technical sense. Nonetheless, a sizeable chunk of our funding comes from governmental bodies. We are, on some insulting level, trying to re-create these people in the state-sanctioned, middle-class mold. They sense that, and refuse to comply. If that's true, more power to them.

But, uninformed political resistance doesn't allow for the reality that if you are obese, you will die prematurely. If you beat your children, you will go to jail. If you smoke, you will die sooner rather than later. What would work, for crying out loud???? And what might work, allowing for the possibility that there is more than one right way to eat, parent, cook, and manage money?

I've been looking for the answer for months. Only today did it dawn on me that no one knows. Believe me when I tell you that if they knew, they would have published it. It's time to start thinking like a scholar, you lame-brain. Hence the Charlie-Brown-head-thunk. Get to work and figure something out.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Blogging -the Third Wave

I don't know quite what to say. Literally.

I sense that my blog is entering its third phase, which is probably a good thing. It is less good, perhaps, that I don't know what that third wave is. I've done the social justice writing. Heaven knows there's more to write there. And I've learned in that phase that I like to write and reflect and think. I've done my "oh my god the sky is falling.... I think I might fall apart" blogging. And I've learned that I have friends and family of incalculable wonder. And in the rebuilding of my life, I've learned that I'm better at writing and thinking and reflecting about social justice than I am at implementing it. (You guys, I threw my recycling in the trash this week. I missed the pick-up and couldn't stand looking at it for another week. I'm a slug.) And besides... I'm pretty much done with Dave, literally and metaphorically. I'm bored. Let's move on.

But what do I write about now? Rebuilding my life? Gidget goes to school/Andrea meets academe on her own terms??? Do I go back to social justice stuff? Learning to be the grown-up in my own story? I do have this goofy thought that I could use songs as themes for reflecting about my new life. Maybe third wave blogging is like third wave feminism -a lot more fun and considerably more drinking than its earnest and a little grim foremothers????

What are your thoughts, oh wise ones?