Archives for the month of: September, 2017

My lovely chill Saturday morning was suddenly disrupted by the screaming next door. Not my duplex neighbors, other neighbors. A door slams. Slams. Slams. Slams. Hysterical rage. She’s out on the front stoop screaming to be let in, so clearly the target of the yelling has now locked her out. From her repeated enraged screaming, “if you would just HEAR ME!“, again and again, I’m pretty certain she already felt “locked out” for some time, this morning, if not for far longer.

I can see their front stoop from the window of my studio, where I am sitting. I’ve turned up the music on my headphones to try to drown out her anguished vocalizations, but at this point, I’m at risk of damaging my hearing to turn up the music more. My eyes are helplessly drawn to her misery and anger, and she’s begun throwing her body at the door, again and again, and isn’t making actual words now, just animal sounds, anguished, enraged, frustrated, demanding, pleading. She is lost to “now”, and exists in some moment of complex emotion, trapped in her narrative.

This isn’t where I want to exist this morning. The morning began quite differently. My tears, part sympathy, part PTSD, part lack of executive function, part pure animal stress at being exposed to pure animal stress, spill down as I write. I glance at the phone – should I call 911? Shoulders shaking now with sobs, helplessly overcome by my own memories of terror and rage, I watch her collapse, crying, on the front step of her home… what do I do? I mean, aside from sitting here crying, myself? I can’t bear to be that person who observed and did nothing, even recognizing that I don’t know who the “good guys” or “bad guys” are (it’s “other people’s drama” – in a very real sense, we are all both good guys and bad guys; they are human beings, having their own experience), and I don’t know what’s really going on there, or what the risk is.

…I’m triggered now, but I’m also aware of the other human being, over there, alone in her moment. Shit. I sigh as I rise from my chair, slipping my sandals on to walk next door and offer her a moment of calm, a cup of tea, someone to talk to. Hell, I’m already crying, and I know how terrible such experiences can feel in the moment. May as well… Can I conquer my fear with my compassion? Can I be a friend to someone suffering?

…. … …

It’s some time later. I got to the front walk, and started to walk down the driveway as the first police car pulled up. I find myself wondering who called, and when, although those details don’t matter at all. I go back inside, figuring this is likely a deeply embarassing moment for their household, and not wanting to compound it being an obvious witness. I’m trembling. Crying again. Leaning with my back to the inside of the front door, the unexpected knock startled me. It’s a “cop knock” – they have their own unique way of making a knock on a door sound terrifying (or is it just me?). The officer at the door “just has some questions”. He scanned my face, the tears were obvious. Was I involved, or…? “No, dude, I’m a survivor with PTSD. I’m stressed about that shit going down next door, is all…”

His questions aren’t hard, but I unexpectedly broke down trying to express myself clearly, sinking to my floor helplessly weeping uncontrollably, lost to a moment that doesn’t exist anymore, that can’t hurt me anymore, that isn’t my experience of life anymore… He asks to see my id, and I try to retrieve it from the wee card case in my pocket. Cards spilled everywhere. Credit cards, id, my insurance card, my medical cannabis card, assorted defining cards of an adult human – without any real worth or meaning, just then. I cry harder. He picked up my cards, because I clearly couldn’t. I looked up, feeling embarrassed and childlike. He looked at my id closely. “You’re a veteran?” I just nodded. He sat down with me on the stoop. He sees how my view frames the stoop next door. “Did you see anything?” “Heard her screaming at her door is all” I say, sniffling and wiping my eyes. Practical questions gave me something in the present to hang on to. She is not me. I’m here, now. I’m okay, now. “She was body slamming the door a couple times, then just sat down crying”. I wipe my eyes on my sleeve. “I was going to offer her a cup of tea and help her calm down” I observe, “…you guys got to her first.” My tone sounded vaguely accusatory in my ears, although that’s wasn’t my intention. He sounded sad when he replied “That’s all the questions I had” and “thank you for your service” as he stood and reached out his hand to help me up, before shaking hands with me and leaving.

It’s quiet now. Very quiet. I don’t even know if anyone was arrested, or who, or… I only know it’s quiet now. I’m okay right now. This wasn’t about me, or my life, and now the moment is about letting it go, and taking care of the woman in the mirror. Begin again, I remind myself…

…Please treat the people you say you love as if you do indeed love them. The damage done when you don’t lasts longer than you may understand. There are never enough tears to wash away the stain of cruelty, neglect, or violence.

Let’s overlook how often I simply choose not to go out to some event, or show, or whatever I thought I’d talked myself into – because that’s a thing I totally do (and I highly recommend it, myself, since I think forcing myself to attend events I don’t feel up to for whatever reason is a rather stupid use of my time, generally). I do like “doing stuff”, going places, seeing sights, hearing music, hiking trails, exploring the world and getting to know its bizarre inhabitants; I love all that. Mostly. Sometimes.

I live alone. Which I also like. Sure, I have a committed and adoring partner. Sometimes there’s a lover in the picture. I have friends. Associates. Assorted hangers-on of one variety or another. A tribe. A social circle. A scene. I live my life in the company of other humans living their lives. Excellent stuff for keeping good company – and I recommend that, too; we are social creatures. Our lurking ever-present need for intimacy, connection, and contact doesn’t somehow dissipate over time spent in solitude. I definitely enjoy the company of others. I don’t always have it. So, okay… what to do in the context of being alone, and wanting to do stuff…?

Go do stuff.

No kidding. It’s that simple. Farmer’s markets excite you? Go to those. Have a determined passion for growing lovely flowers? Go to places where flowers grow, where plants are sold, where gardens are planned – obviously. Maybe art is your thing? Lots of museums, galleries, and art shows to attend! Antiques more your thing? Cars? Beaches? Surfing? Concerts? Travel? Exotic dining? No problem; the world is vast and entertaining, and all the options exist. Do the verbs. Go to the places you dream of.


…Why not alone?

After my break up with my most recent ex I sort of… stopped doing things I enjoyed for some time. I’d pulled the same bullshit maneuver within a short while of being with the ex prior to that one, too. I was just… fuck it. Ennui. I trudged through my experience, supporting my then-partner’s desires to go and do and be, and tolerating the full-time discouragement of my own interests. I didn’t know how to do differently. The relationship before that one… was worse. Over time, learned helplessness crept in, and I failed myself in a rather large way. <shrugs> So okay, fast forward to this great relationship… still carrying these bad habits, and a total lack of skilled self-care. In a practical sense, one reason I made the choice to live alone was to sort some of this shit out. Learning good self-care was a much higher priority than museums, coffee houses, poetry readings, open mic nights, picnics in parks, small venue concerts… surviving was a bit more important, it seemed then, than thriving.

I was wrong though. I was incorrect about the importance and relative value of doing the things I love. Oh, not in a monstrous or malicious or hateful way. I just didn’t understand what living well could look like, built on my own choices; there were verbs I just wasn’t using. I didn’t understand that those things I personally thrive on might help me along my way, even help me sort out some of the chaos and damage, as well as provide opportunities for new connections with other humans.

I live alone. That’s just one characteristic about my life. I enjoy a lovely brunch out with friends. I also enjoy brunch alone. I enjoy brunch. 🙂 I enjoy music, and the events and artists I want to see represent my own taste – sometimes going alone makes for a very special evening, since I won’t spend any of it wondering if the person attending with me actually enjoys it, or is just being polite in their silent misery. I like the things I like whether I am alone or not.

I’m just saying – take time to do the things that excite and interest you, whether you do them with someone else, or alone. They are still the things that excite and interest you. You will still grow from those new experiences. They subtract nothing from your experience to do them alone. It is your journey. Your experience.  🙂

…Clearly ballroom dancing will be easier to enjoy with a partner, but… yeah. In general. Go do the stuff you love. Yes, and alone, also – why the fuck not? lol

My calendar for the autumn and upcoming winter months has filled out nicely. I’ve got tickets for a couple of concerts I’m excited to see. A couple trips down to see my Traveling Partner. Quiet weekends in the studio, or out on the trail (while the weather holds up)… brunch… farmer’s markets… I’ve got a lot to look forward to, which I enjoy rather a lot just by itself. The anticipation, I mean. Choices and verbs. And planning. And living.

Don’t wait around. This is your life. You can live it, fully, delightfully, and even beautifully – even if you’re going solo on this journey. 🙂

The leg cramp that woke me during the night has left my right calf feeling bruised this morning. It sucked to be awakened in that fashion, while also stiff and partially immobilized by arthritis pain and stiffness in my spine. Once I was able to manage it, I got up and got a big drink of water, with some Calm in it (for the magnesium), took a calcium supplement, and a multi-mineral supplement, and went back to bed. It was hard to return to sleep; the pain and panic which woke me lingered enough to cause some reluctance to sleep. I definitely did not want to wake up to another leg cramp. The lingering ache in my calf reminds me I am aging.

Some commutes are more challenging than others.

The commute home last night was pretty awful. By the time I arrive home some evenings, I have very little compassion for my fellow humans on their own journeys left over to feel. That’s pretty hard to accept, because it isn’t who I want to be. The frustration of observed poor decision-making, the resentment over impeded forward momentum, suffering the terrible lack of consideration for other people evident in the driving of most commuters, it’s all just very… yeah; humanity doesn’t present its best self during rush hour. Put an adult human primate behind the wheel of a car at the end of a work day and send them on home – you will see the most egregious demonstrations of unjustified entitlement and discourtesy, and possibly understand how it is we’re all in the mess we’re in right now, if you’re open to that awareness. I have some of my own shittiest moments of poor character and decision-making behind the wheel of my car on my evening commute, too. “I just want to get home, okay?” translates as “fuck that guy, he’s in my way” far too often. For all of us. For any of us. For each of us. I am learning to make it a point to practice being my best human self during the commute. I am regularly tested. I often fail. I sometimes succeed. I keep practicing, because it matters. This is the sort of thing where each of us has the greatest potential to immediately change the world we live in.

There are gentler moments, too.

The evening passed pleasantly. I relaxed. It was a good choice of activity after my commute. lol I made a nice cup of tea, which amusingly I never drank, and put my feet up. I had every intention of doing some things; I have a list of things which want doing. I did exactly one thing last night; I relaxed. I did that so well that it was my only activity of the evening. 😀 I spent a pleasant little while contemplating how fortunate I am to live surrounded by art I love, to have (and to have read) so many books that have shared with me the thoughts of so many minds greater than my own. I relaxed in the good company of my small library, regretting only that I’ve not yet learned how to hold on to all the books I’ve ever read, ever owned; I persist in the silly notion that somehow, keeping the books to some “reasonable quantity” is a thing that matters more than keeping the books. lol I’m pretty sure I’m wrong about that, but I lack infinite space and infinite bookshelves. 🙂

The books I have kept are my best and favorite and most meaningful and most loved. They easily fill the 6 bookshelves I’ve got, currently, and there are several (meaning 7) more boxes of books in the garage waiting for me to do something about that. More shelves? Fewer books? No idea. There’s no rush. For now they are conveniently still boxed up… some of them had been boxed up the entire time I lived at #59. My hardbound set of The Great Books of the Western World (more appropriately named “The Great Books of the Elders of Whitemanistan Because White Dudes Said So And Hey Who Else Really Writes Books Guys, Amiright?”) for example, has been in boxes for some years, now. I have weird mixed emotions about “The Great Books”, primarily because, um, some of them aren’t all that god damned “great” and the selections reflect a peculiarly patriarchal (and exceedingly white) perspective on greatness, generally. So, the entire set stays boxed up unless for some reason I urgently need a bygone white guy’s take on the world in some moment. Last time I cracked open those boxes I was looking for Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations”. The time before that, Euclid.

My view on the evening included the deck. It is slowly being covered with leaves, and apparently the air out there is just fucking filled with invisible spiders. lol This weekend I’ll do something about both of those things. Spiders first. :-\

It’s a new day. I’ll have two great opportunities to work on being my best self while I also commute. I’ll observe details of life I may have previously overlooked, or forgotten. My musings will entertain me, and if I am fortunate, I’ll learn from them as well. One day in a human lifetime. I can make it significant, or let is simply pass by. I can choose to change the world, in some small way contributing to its betterment, or… not. I can begin again, or drift without effort, waiting for change to act on me. It’s a pretty vast menu of choices. The day ahead is a blank page.

Choose. Begin again.


I’m dithering this morning. Struggling to fully wake up. Groggy. Dragging myself through the morning, unexpectedly. I think I slept just fine, although I woke briefly around 2 am. I feel disconnected and disengaged. I could happily go back to sleep if that were an option. I sip my coffee and wonder how it is that it is already cold. Have I really been awake more than an hour? Sitting here, fingers poised over the keyboard, coffee slowing going cold, a blank white page in front of my eye holes, just… waiting? Weird. It’s a bit as if I had attempted to boot up my laptop, logged in, then got a progress bar, and… no progress. lol Hung session. I’m stalled. Shit.

“Have you tried turning it off, and then back on?” my brain quips at me, silently. I snicker at myself. It would be handy if it were that easy. As I said, I could happily go back to sleep if that were an option. It is, however, a work day for me… so I trudge through my routine persistently.

The morning continues slowly. Not at all productively. I’m barely on track with basic self-care. lol What the hell? Well… living proof; my results vary. I really need a do-over. A restart. I need to… begin again. lol omg. So tired…sort of… I mean… just not really all the way waking up, yet. Inconvenient – and no proper condition in which to drive a car in rush hour traffic.

I make a fresh coffee, and head to the deck to enjoy the dawn.

So…yeah… spiders are a thing.

Well… I’m awake now. Coffee cup in hand, fresh hot cup of coffee, I step out onto the deck, into the cool dewy morning… and walk into and through one (or more, it’s not clear at this point) vast sticky spider’s web stretching invisibly across the deck, between the eaves, over the entry way. I didn’t see the rather large spider until well after my panic attack (complete with some spastic dancing, and possibly a startled shout, and some hysterical flapping of arms and twirling and stomping – a proper freak out, actually).

I have definitely restarted my morning. LOL After splashing fresh hot coffee all over the deck – and my work clothes – I’ve showered again, changed into other clothes, made yet another cup of coffee, checked again for spiders, like, a million times. lol Fuuuuuuck. Did I mention how fucking alert I am now?? Damn. So… what the hell? Was that necessary? “Be careful what you wish for…” my brain smirks at me. Definitely awake now.

…Still don’t have much to say. Okay, okay, some days more than others, yeah? Time to do a Wednesday.


I remember being in pain yesterday, in the afternoon. I woke in pain this morning. One nice thing about unreasonably hot, wildfire-dry, summer weather – those long hot dry days are just about ideal for minimizing my arthritis pain, no Rx required.

I love autumn. I love crisp cool mornings, colder nights, and warm afternoons. I love the shff-shff of fallen leaves, disturbed as I walk through them. I enjoy the short days, the long nights, the late sunrises, the early sunsets. It’s so exquisitely lovely, all of it, that every year as it returns, I am surprised all over again that with it comes pain. Rather a lot of pain. Everyday pain. Waking up in pain. Yoga to ease pain. Enjoying long walks – that also hurt. It is what it is. I’m glad I am able to walk. To stand. To dress myself. This morning, I find room to be amused that another autumn comes, and again I have forgotten that I am always in this much pain. There will be other mornings, colder mornings, on which I no longer find humor in the moment. I’m not in any rush to reach those mornings. I take a moment to appreciate the morning, shored up by perspective on how much less pain I am in right now than I could be.

I have friends who hurt, too. Family members. Loved ones. Pain is part of the human condition. We feel. We experience sensations. Sometimes, feelings are unpleasant. Sometimes sensations are painful. We easily lose sight of the pain of others, living out our own experience of pain. I know it happens to me. When I hurt, and can’t imagine hurting more than I do, it’s way too easy to forget that there actually is more worse pain than what I am in, myself – and someone else is feeling that. Yikes. Talk about perspective. It’s true for you, too; someone else is in worse pain. Possibly more often. It’s something to remember when we face the world, hurting; we are not alone. We may feel alone with our own pain, but we are not alone in the experience of being in pain, generally.

This morning, I am in pain. I’m not bitching. I’m just noticing it there, reflected back at me when I attempt to ignore it, each movement in my spine resulting in mild nausea, and a chronic almost irresistible desire to flex, twist, move, rock – all of which hurts, but the movement may, over some minutes, ease the pain somewhat. I look at the calendar and frown. Not even October? Shit. I feel inclined to say it seems earlier this year – but I say that, and feel it, every year. lol This year, I commit to caring for myself in a reasonable and rational way (still, and, again). I take a deep breath. I let it go. I get up from my chair and do some more yoga. It helps.

I abandon my writing and take another hot shower. Lingering in the hot water, I catch myself daydreaming about the heated seat in my car and the 45 minute commute to work enjoying it. Oh, Autumn, you are so beautiful and so cruel to me! I laugh about it, because this morning I still can.

I make a mental note to myself to be kind to people; I can’t tell what kind of pain they may be in, or how hard they are having to work at being decent to people, themselves. We’re all so very human. We are interconnected, and our shared experiences color the experiences we don’t share. Being a jerk to someone can so easily become the experience that blows their day – just as a moment of kindness can turn a bad day around completely. I consider the woman I most want to be, and commit to be more her today than I was yesterday. I give a mental shout out to the friends who seem to have really mastered “self” and “have their shit together” in all the ways that matter most to me. I find myself thinking about old-fashioned thank you notes.

The morning moves on. I sip my coffee. I scroll through my playlist absent-mindedly, unsure whether I actually want to hear music this morning. Pain, coloring my thinking, changes my decision-making in subtle ways; something to be mindful of as the day goes on.

It seems like a good time to begin again. 🙂