Wednesday, December 31, 2014

One Last Resolution

While it is traditional to declare resolutions at this time of year, I've decided that resolutions are too heavy and bring potentially too much negativity.  The classic "I'm going to lose weight" brings with it the inevitable "OR?".  The answer to which is almost equally inevitable "Or I'll feel bad about myself."  Hardly seems productive.  Aspirations seems so much better. So full of hope and potential.  Aspirations set something to aim for while allowing that something short of that may also be good and worthy.  They seem to declare a path more than an objective.  Having said all this, I find that there is one last resolution that I must make that has been far too long in the waiting.  I make it because failure on my part really would allow a negative to continue in my life.

Shortly before I turned 5 years old, in the upheaval that was my parent's divorce, a seed was sown.  I was too young to understand all the words, but I clearly understood (or thought I did) what they meant.  That they were sown by someone I later knew to be mentally ill.  That they led me to a logical leap that was clearly not logical.  That the maliciousness reflected more on the speaker than on me.  All of these things I would come to recognize much, much later.  But what was impressed upon my childish mind was that my very existence was a negative thing.  That by breathing I had ruined the lives of everyone I loved.  I still remember the look on her face when she dumped her load of venom on me and it still makes me shiver for the small child I was.  I kept this episode secret for decades.

I can see, in hindsight, that this festering little seed, led to a chain of bad choices and self-loathing all through my younger self's life.  I couldn't just be a good little girl.  I had to try to be the best good little girl ever, just to justify my existence.  And of course, anything bad that happened was, most likely, my fault or, at the very least, something I deserved.  After all, what right had I to occupy space?  And thus, I spent far too much time, effort and energy apologizing for living, in one way or another.  And, in the instances when I genuinely fouled up, the effect was increased exponentially.  Naturally, I couldn't expect much from anyone or anything because I was deeply unworthy.  I should just be grateful for whatever small things came my way and shut up.

After a year of tough breaks and intense reflection, during which that smaller younger me has clamored for attention, I have decided that enough is too much already.  Time to gouge out that moldy old seed and toss it onto the compost pile.  Therefore, I resolve to never apologize for living, in any manner, ever again.  I will ask for what I want/need/desire because I am entitled to those types of things just like anyone else.  When I legitimately make mistakes, I will apologize; but I will not assume guilt that is not my own.  When others seek to impose guilt that is not mine to take, they will be invited to remove themselves and have a nice life, separate from mine.  I will not agree with any position (including my own) that includes an element of feeling bad about myself.  And, when I inevitably slip back into the time worn path, I will gently remind myself that I don't do that any more and move on.  Period.  Full stop. 

As for aspirations for the coming year, there are many.  Some creative.  Some productive.  Some self nurturing.  Some nurturing of others.  All worthwhile.

May you who read this have whatever good things you most wish for in the coming year and always.


Monday, November 24, 2014

Rude awakenings

Under other circumstances, it could have been amusing in a Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, Keystone Cops kind of way.  But they say that comedy is all about timing and nothing, absolutely nothing, is funny at 3:30 in the morning.

And under other circumstances, I would have felt more compassion for the neighbors.  But these are the neighbors that set and reset their car alarm every night, complete with beeping horn, after most of the neighborhood has gone to sleep.  So their misfortune in the wee hours left me unmoved.

All of this is due to a visitation, before the crack of dawn, by the world's worst repo man.

We were awakened by the car alarm blaring repeatedly across the street.  After it went on for a bit, with no sign of stopping, visual inspection took place.  Outside the bedroom window was an unmarked white tow truck attempting to abscond with an SUV parked in the driveway.  The SUV in question was at a peculiar angle with headlights flashing and horn beeping while the driver of the tow truck tried in vain to shut the thing up.  It looked as though it was possible that the SUV had been dragged on a collision course with another car parked on the street.  

At some point, Repo Dude moved the tow truck several yards down the street and returned to the SUV, flashlight in hand.  He attempted to enter the vehicle several times before succeeding.  He walked around the back.  He walked around the passenger side.  He leaned on the driver side window.  He jiggled the passenger door. He went back to the driver's side.  Back to the passenger door.  He eventually got in and popped the hood.  He hunted under the hood with the flashlight for Lord knows what.  He got the alarm to stop.  He closed the hood.  He fiddled some more.  The alarm went off.  Lather, rinse and repeat.

One of our other neighbors, an otherwise mild mannered lady I'm sure, yelled out her window that it was 3:30 in the blinkety blank blank morning.  Helpful, but I doubt there was anyone within earshot that wasn't all too painfully already aware of that fact.

At long (too long) last, he had quieted the alarm again and returned to the tow truck, backing it up to the SUV.  He jacked up the SUV and spent several minutes walking around and around the vehicle seemingly trying to figure out how to secure his prize.  Once secured, our hero took his trusty flashlight and returned to the cab of his truck.  He pulled away with the SUV and as he went around the corner, the alarm was again heard, retreating into the distance.

Sleep having been totally banished, I reflected on the cause of my current undesired state of consciousness.  For some reason, whether through hardship or carelessness, our neighbors clearly have neglected to make car payments.  And for some reason, some finance company decided that they really wanted their vehicle back in lieu of payment.  The truck driver decided he wished to make his mark on the world as a repo man.  Said finance company contacted said driver and it was decided that 3:30 in the flipping morning was the optimal time to take their property back.  And because of that, several dozen upstanding citizens will be spending the rest of their day yawning and staggering about in a sleep deprived haze.

I'm not disputing the company's right to expect payment for the purchase.  I'm not disputing their right to repossess it if payment is not forthcoming.  I'm not even disputing Repo Dude's right to gainful employment.  What I am disputing is the need for all of those things to occur at 3:30 AM outside my bedroom window.

Monday, February 10, 2014


     By the time we're eight or ten, most of us figure out that we are not immortal.  And, if we still think we're immortal, we've run smack into the realization that at least some others are not.  But, beyond that, we don't give it a whole lot of thought.  In fact, if we DO give it a whole lot of thought, we'll have been told not to be so morbid and to be happy.   So we toodle along, content in the notion that while death may indeed exist, it exists only for the old or those far away from us.  For the most part.

     There are a few words out there that can change that in an instance, a prime one being biopsy.  Biopsy, along with it's fellow traveler cancer, can bring mortality, personal mortality, into very clear and immediate focus.  There you were, toodling along with your life; working, playing, laughing, loving, wasting WAY too much time on the computer and WHAM you are pulled up short by a six letter word and all the baggage it carries with it.  No more, "don't worry, be happy" because worry has just taken up residence in your brain and whether that residence is permanent or not remains to be seen.

      And so it begins, the biopsy, the inconclusive results, the referrals, the scheduling of surgery, the pre-op check ups and the terror.  No matter how calm, cool, collected, even sanguine one thinks one is, there is a time around 2:45 in the morning when the terror is undeniable.  No one else may see it.  You may even try to convince yourself that it isn't there.  But it is.  And no one, not your mother, not your spouse, not your friend, not even the very nice surgeon that you just met, can say anything to make that go away.  Because while they hope for the best, and can quote statistics, and can assure you it will be fine; ultimately, they can't know that to be the fact until you've moved through the entire experience.

Of course, all of this takes time.  So you have a lot of time to think.  And think. And think.  You realize rather quickly that you are not where you'd always thought you'd be by whatever-this-point is in your life.  You then begin to wonder IF making plans for the future is some sort of magic you are invoking to get through the situation.  Or if, perhaps, you are just whistling past the graveyard and which graveyard is it going to be.   One sinks to the forbidden morbid regions rather quickly.

Before too long, you realize that even IF this isn't going to be whatever it is that will spell your demise, something will and that every day lived is a day closer to that day.  And you begin to wonder what that means for your life going forward.    Between blood tests and CAT scans and this and that, you have quite a bit of time for reflecting.  

And, if you're me, you wonder if any insights you garner through all of this reflecting will be carried through should the surgery and the pathology reports say that the end isn't coming in that particular way in this particular year.  

Mercifully, the pathology reports came back "negative for malignancy."  Now it's time to see how many of the insights remain and where they lead.