I sat. Then I sat some more. Eventually, I noticed I hadn’t hung up my pants after changing into jeans after work. So, I did that, still feeling pretty frustrated, kind of numb, and fairly disappointed with the evening (with myself?). Even now, I’m feeling pretty raw, sorrow holding on around the edges. I sat here, awhile, fingers resting gently on the home row of the keyboard, just staring at the monitor, not moving, just breathing. Suppressing my agitation and distress with pure will, heavy, stoic, and just barely adequate. Communication failure. Connection failure. Right now, doing “my best” does not seem enough.

So, I sit in my studio. Waiting for understanding. Waiting for peace to be restored within my core being. Waiting for my face to stop feeling frozen. Wondering, now and then, how to drag myself from here to there, and whether that takes some measure of forcefulness I don’t fathom?

Rough bit of path here. My heart aches. I mean, being real, a moment of heartache, frustration, and a resurfacing of despair is grim and exceedingly unpleasant…but… I’m breathing. I’m not in any physical danger. For most values of “I’m okay”, I am very much okay. “Move along, folks, nothing to see here…”

Still. I’m feeling a mix of unpleasant emotion, and more than anything, I’d rather not be doing that. I’d rather be hanging out with my Traveling Partner right now.

I’m fatigued, and my communication skills are reduced. Small annoying mistakes compounded by how very difficult it can be for people to talk about feelings in the first place sent the beginning of a quality evening skidding sideways in a very different direction than it seemed it might. So. I sit in my studio, unwilling to keep at earnestly (haplessly) making it worse while trying to do anything at all that might make it better so unskillfully that no good outcome could be obtained. I sit quietly. I write a thought. I sit quietly-er. Piece by piece trying to think things through and understand more clearly. I’m not doing all that well with it. It’s too early to go to bed. It’s not helpful to sit around crying.

I look around the studio and think about the things I’d like to get done, tomorrow. I guess, first, I’ll have to begin again. Right now, it’s not feeling so easy. There are going to be some verbs involved.

It’s been a strange week, in some respects. I’m sitting here with my morning coffee, mulling over the strange sights I have seen, standing in front of the office, taking an occasional break from working. I see a lot of things. Our building is immediately opposite a large hotel, and surrounded by restaurants, banks, businesses, public gathering places, and transit stops. There’s a lot to see, is what I’m saying. Homeless people. Busy people. Angry people. People who are lost. People who are pre-occupied. People who are exceedingly well-dressed. People who are dressed, well, as though they are in Portland (it’s pretty casual here). People with ear buds in their ears, talking to unseen others over wireless connections mingle with schizophrenic people; it’s not always possible to tell which are which simply by the conversations.

…It’s a city. There are a lot of people. Human experience is vast and varied. I see a lot of things passing by, as I stand quietly enjoying the theater of humanity existing. Too often, I find myself wondering how long this will last…? Humanity, I mean. We’re doing a pretty poor job of thriving, as a species, it seems.

Yesterday, I walked past a man laying on the pavement, flat on his back, head lolled back and somewhat downwardly, past the curb, sort of (but not quite) into the street. Nothing about it looked comfortable on a freezing morning. He was not wearing a coat, or wrapped in a blanket, or covered up at all, really. He did not appear to be “sleeping” so much as unconscious. People passed by, glancing down, walking past. He was in front of a Starbucks. Some time later, he was gone.

Later, I was startled to see a man run screaming and yelling from inside the hotel across the street. Not a guest, obviously, from his clothing; a homeless man, perhaps, unkempt, and pants literally around his knees as he ran, hobbled, up the street and away from security, who chased him half-heartedly. I heard later, from the doorman of the building I work in, that the running, screaming, man, had been defecating in the actual lobby of the hotel.

I saw a well-dressed woman, obviously a professional woman of some sort, well-groomed, and precise, talking on her phone outside the building. She was sort of fixed to the spot where she stood. Face tense. Jaw clenched. Trying to “hold it together”, until her emotions broke like waves against the stillness of her face, and she began cursing and weeping at the person on the other end of the call. In an instant, she was as human as anyone. In an instant, people began to avoid her physical space, and turn their faces away from her suffering.

I saw a younger woman on a bus stop bench, rocking and crying, making her misery quite public, while she stayed somehow still very private, herself. People simply walked past.

Misery is pretty common in a city. Maybe everywhere. I used to be immersed in it, myself. I have cried in public, unable to hide “the shame of my emotions” at a time when I found them shameful, but too far gone in the experience to care about it anymore. I have run screaming, angry, or hurt, or frightened. I have had tense public phone calls that would have been better handled privately, personally, and face to face. I have laid still, sick or injured, immobilized by my circumstances in some other part of my life, stalled by the chaos and damage.

…Fucking hell, I am so glad I stand where I do, today. It’s been a bit of a journey getting here. I don’t take my current good fortune for granted; it could happen to anyone. Frankly, any of it could. It’s oneΒ  of the fundamentals of our humanity; in spite of the wealth of variety in the human experience, misery is both plentiful, and tediously similar, no matter the circumstances. And any one of us could be “stuck there”, at any time. No kidding. If you aren’t miserable, right now, take a minute to really feel how good it is to feel a bit better than that. πŸ™‚ Celebrate getting to this better place, or celebrate having never had to experience real suffering (if you are that fortunate, thus far in life) – it’s worth a moment of recognition and appreciation.

The fact that Thanksgiving is behind us, already, is not sufficient reason to turn my back on gratitude. Gratitude is lovely all year long.

I arrived home last night, after a somewhat trying commute, and there was my Traveling Partner, relaxing, waiting for me. The house is spotless, aside from my studio, and I’m committed to tackling that this coming weekend. Moving things around improved how comfortable things are, and somehow I’m not completely disrupted. It’s pleasant. I am enjoying the changes we made, together. I take a moment to sip my coffee, and feel grateful for all of this, too.

Reading the news, or observing the passing theatrics of human misery standing on a city sidewalk, it’s easy to forget the joys in life. They’re worth experiencing. They are even worth wallowing in, if you’ve got enough joy to do so. πŸ™‚ It’s okay to enjoy life’s pleasures – I try to avoid being a dick about it, though, and refuse to avert my eyes from human suffering. I’m not sure what to do about it, sometimes. (A lot of times.) I think, probably, we could do more, better, to alleviate a great deal of suffering in the world… probably harder to do that, if I’m not willing to be aware that it exists. I think about an X who tried to “buy her way into heaven”, unsuccessfully, of course; heaven is not for sale. We build heaven with our actions (there are a lot of verbs involved), our compassion, our concern, our authentic resolve to change the world – did I mention action? Yeah… this planet isn’t going to take better care of itself. We’ve got work to do.

Don’t like what you see around you? The answer isn’t in turning away from the problems. What are you going to do, to change the world? Check the time. It’s already time to begin again.

I’m sipping my coffee and listening to some “deep house” music, and thinking about change. I’m smiling, and enjoying the steady low thump of the beat, and looking around my messier-than-usual studio; signs of change. My smile deepens to a grin, and I think about the lovely evening my Traveling Partner and I shared, and how strange it is that the joy of the evening was the shared experience of embracing change. πŸ™‚

…It was sort of spontaneous. I’m not sure whose suggestion it was, really, a change of arrangements, furnishing, spaces, things could be moved… from here… to there… I’m not usually especially open to such things (no reason to resist the admission, I have real issues with my environment being “disrupted”, and have had some fairly childish tantrums over something being “in the wrong place”).Β  There we were… the idea out in the open, and it didn’t feel scary or unsettling or disruptive at all; it just made obvious sense. I’m pretty sure it was not my idea, but on hearing it, I was almost immediately taken with the common sense of it, the improvement in flow of daily life, the efficiency, and yes – order – to be gained. We went from idea to “let’s do this thing” in actual seconds. We were off our asses and actually making change happen within minutes. There’s more to do, but we’ve gotten well-started on the thing, and, yeah, I really like it.

…I slept better. Weird, because the rearrangement of objects and placement within the household did not have anything whatsoever to do with the bed, bedding, or nighttime qualities of the room in which we sleep (it was mostly about closets and bathrooms). lol I definitely did sleep very well last night. πŸ˜€ Related? Unrelated? Doesn’t matter. I enjoyed the positive experience of change, and the changes we made result in our shared space feeling even more like “us” and quite a bit less like “my place and my partner is moving in”. Feels really good, honestly, and more… coherent. More orderly.

I’m feeling pleased and comfortable and contented; a very positive reaction to change. I don’t always feel this way about such things. I take time to savor it. I’m honestly so tickled, I also try a different perfume today. lol I’m possibly less pleased with that outcome, but admittedly; change can be hard for me. It’s a small step forward to be open to novelty, even on a small detail like fragrance. It’s a small step that needs to be taken again and again, to preserve “neuroplasticity“. Good stuff there. A way forward. A way through. It’s one of the foundations of “beginning again” and practicing practices for making the long journey from trauma to being the person I most want to be. πŸ™‚

I glance at the time. Finish my coffee. Today is my Traveling Partner’s birthday (certainly one human life I am eager to celebrate!) – and it’s time to begin again. πŸ˜€

I’m sipping my coffee on a Monday and turning over a metaphor in my head. I’ve been giving it thought all weekend, actually, well – if by “all weekend” I mean “since I started putting up the holiday tree”. πŸ™‚

It began simply with the necessary (for me) task of untangling ornament hooks…

Like my thoughts, some things need to be untangled before they are really useful.

It’s really that simple metaphor that has me feeling thoughtful. I’ve had this same tangle of ornament hooks since… oh… for about 20 years. Here’s the thing, though; one year, I couldn’t find them. The only ones I could locate to purchase as a replacement that year were long hooks. (I use, generally, by preference, the short ones.) I turned up the others while decorating the tree – they were at the bottom of a fairly ordinary brown box. I combined the short hooks and long hooks, and put them all “conveniently” into a single small plastic container. Now, each year, I have to untangle ornament hooks before I can get started hanging ornaments. (If you suggest I simply toss these and buy new ones that are less tangled, I’ll point out , first, that some of my oldest ornaments have original hooks on them that are older than I am, which I have not discarded in spite of discoloration due to age, and also, this is a metaphor, so… perhaps the point was missed? πŸ˜‰ )

Each year I carefully untangle and set free enough of the short hooks from the grasp of the long ones to decorate the tree. Each year I carefully put them all back into the container they share – even the long ones it was necessary to free from the tangled mass, in order to get to the short ones. Each year, I put them back in a more orderly state than I retrieved them in. Each year I open the container to find they are entirely tangled all together once more.

…There really is a metaphor here…

“What’s your point?”

It’s a good question, glad you asked. The point is, I think, that the content of my own thoughts can sometimes be fairly tangled up, with “long hooks” of ancient hurts, old baggage, new baggage, and a variety of expectations and assumptions, all sort of hooked into the “short hooks” of useful observations, clarity, real understanding, valuable perspective, and the present “here and now” sorts of things that create a well-lived life. The tangled mass can impede good communication, mess with my clarity of mind, and undermine my feeling of emotional well-being. It’s pretty important to sort things out, and untangle those long hooks to get to the useful short hooks, and really get on with living life.

It’s not that the long hooks are worthless; they’re hooks. They serve a function. I have some few ornaments that are most easily hung from those long hooks. Some of those are even quite beautiful – it’s just that nearly all the ornaments on my tree hang most pleasingly, easily, and conveniently from the short hooks. So, why the hell do I keep the long ones at all, though? I guess… as with the bullshit and baggage tangled in my thinking, and in my poorly processed lingering bits of baggage, I get started on that, and along the way I free up enough short hooks to meet my needs in the moment, and then just sort of … pack all the hooks back into their container… for… convenience.

Yeah. So. Giving that some thought has kept my mind occupied this weekend (a generally splendid holiday weekend). πŸ™‚ There’s something to learn from this container of hooks. πŸ˜€

The house is quiet. Cool jazz plays in the background, softly. I sip a small glass of sherry, sweet, smooth, and deliciously raisin-y; it tastes of luxury, and satisfying moments. I look back on a gentle, fulfilling day of celebration, utterly lacking in any hint of drama, stress, or conflict. The day was spent harmoniously, in the good company of my Traveling Partner. It’s been a memorable Thanksgiving Day, peaceful and connected. Intimate. Romantic. Fun.

Dinner for two was effortless; we went out. We went to dinner sharply dressed in our best “going out to dinner on a holiday” clothes, subtly coordinated with each other’s choices. There was no particular wait; we made reservations well in advance. There was no traffic, really, most people were already at home, in their kitchens, or with their families, making merry their own way. It was an easy evening out. The meal was quite pleasant: good food, great service, worth the price paid. The drive home? Similarly pleasant. It was, in the simplest terms, an easy, delightful, holiday spent wrapped in love. My Traveling Partner looked fantastic. My mirror suggested to me that I looked pretty wonderful, too. The mingled scents of his cologne and my perfume complimented each other well, and were applied with care so as not to overwhelm dinner.

…I don’t know what else to say… this was my experience, this year. I’ve had others. My results, over a lifetime, have varied. This was one exceptionally pleasant, relaxed, and satisfying- an intimate holiday.

…I’ve much to be thankful for. Not just this grand date out with my love; also, just generally. Here in the quiet, sipping my sherry, I consider my life in context. I consider all the many unspoken “thank you’s” due here, or there, or again, just generally. Not all of life’s lessons are “easy”, and sometimes, the cost to learn them is pretty fucking high. Still, close attention to the curriculum, and learning (and growing), and becoming more this woman I want to be is worth it, so far, and the payout seems to be lovely moments (or days) such as this. It’s enough.

…This too shall pass. lol Just being real; clinging to this moment wouldn’t serve me well. As with clinging to any other moment (or notion, or assumption, or expectation), clinging to this charming here-and-now experience would set me up for failure in some other moment. So, I sip my sherry in the quiet of evening, content with what is, and not much concerned with anything else. There is time for this, here, now. It’s certainly worth savoring.

For me, Thanksgiving kicks off “the winter holiday season”, which will last through New Year’s Day. There’s much to enjoy, to explore, to wonder upon… It is a “season of gratitude”, and also of contemplation, consideration, and change. It is a season to be most generous, and also a season to let go of ego, and share the journey for a little while, to reach across the strange chasms that separate “us” and “them” to become “we” for awhile. It is a season to receive gifts graciously, and to forgive with an open heart (and open mind), aware that we’re all in this together, although we are each having our own experience.

…This can be an amazing life. Slow down. Enjoy some of it. Stop yelling for a minute. Hug someone you love. Care about your loved ones more than you care about being right. Laugh – yes, and even at yourself. Is any moment of anger really worth sacrificing the beautiful lives we could have instead, so easily? I’m just saying… use your words, not your weapons. (It should go without saying that well-mannered, reasonable, people do not take up arms against their loved ones in a moment of anger, for fuck’s sake. …And killing them? Just… no. Do not do that. Ever. Just… no. That’s not love. Ever. At all. Shouldn’t have to say that… unfortunately, it’s clear from the news that some folks did not get that memo. 😦 )

…I sip my sherry and dispel the grim thought that one thing I am truly grateful for is that I survived my first marriage…

I’m definitely grateful I didn’t spend the day cleaning and cooking, and then find myself also having to clean up afterward. Been there (fuck that). Today was unreservedly joyful, and so emotionally rich and satisfying, I hesitate to mention it for fear it may burst like a soap bubble. I needn’t worry so. It’s already so quiet now…

I hope you enjoyed a wonderful warm Thanksgiving holiday. Maybe you didn’t, this year? In that case, there’s still some good news; you can let this one go, and simply begin again. πŸ˜‰