Wednesday, June 8, 2011

sleep once more perchance ...

Dreams are today's answers to tomorrow's questions. ~Edgar Cayce

… my dream upon waking this morning, which ironically occurred during a heavy hailstorm (first of three storms of the morning and part of a storm system that continues as I write), had me standing in our dining room, coffee mug in hand, dogs at my feet, when over my shoulder/out patio windows came trucks and heavy machinery which in short order annihilated and clear-cut the woodlands behind, next to, and on up the hill behind our house.

Swoooooooooooooop, gone!

I went out on the deck which, while still attached to the house, was teetering out over this gaping hole in the earth, with water rushing down and all the trees felled and side-lying as the machines drove off, one by one, down the hill and away from the house.

Surveying the obliterated landscape, I paced the deck and then ran to get Mark and Ali in order to show them what happened, to which I woke up & into Mark’s words saying, “It’s 8 o’clock,” since he was my human alarm clock this morning prior to leaving for work/travel.

[dream over!]

I still go by the adage that it’s not so much the symbols in your dreams, though they are important too, so there’s much to be said about the gaping hole, the flowing water, and the side-lying trees, the earth movers and such, but I prefer the approach wherein you’re supposed to recall how the dream made you feel.

And this particular dream made me feel angry and a little afraid.

I love the enclosure-type feel to the back lots and all the trees that are meant to stay there, even though the area has been developed, our house part of this development. Without these trees for cover (in the dream) I was anxious, irritated, on edge, put out and pissed off.

Shortly after the quick feel-through, the dream all but disappeared. By the time I ran my hands through my hair and tried to re-right it's tossled situation, the dream was gone for the most part. I made no mention of it to Mark before he left--really, what person in their right mind tells a man leaving for several days that they dreamt half the house was teetering over a pit of fallen trees and rushing water?!?! Not a good idea, just saying!

Mark left, Alice slept on and my day roared up to meet me. I actually missed my morning coffee and there were no deck meanderings or reflections this morning. I ran off, instead, on an adventure with Mark’s dad, keeping him busy at the hardware store, Menards and breakfast at the coffee shop, while Donna met with the visiting nurses about a new breathing apparatus and the “next steps.”

Middle of the day, I came home, ran Alice to work, worked myself, gently teasing one of the dogs for being nervous about the pending evening storms and the other for not giving a care. Walter hid back to the world) in his kennel, Henry slept nonplus at my feet as I finished my work.

As the last set of storms rolled in, I closed “shop” for the evening. I took the dogs out on the deck one final time to “1 and 2 it” prior to the downpour and noise. This was when I remembered the dream again.

The irony of how it’s wacko-do-weird to dream early a.m. about a clear-cut anything prior to a night of predicted severe storms was not lost on me!

I saw the humor (or terror, depending on how you think about it--mostly humor) in this but did not dwell there. I was lost instead in the lushness of the still muggy world around me, though it was breezing/easing up around the edges, and the trees were moving again rather than glopped into the ground and sky scape.

I relaxed to the pre-dusk melodies of the songbirds, one with the trees for the night, the same performers who will be there drying wing and renewing beak play at pre-dawn.


And I suppose, if I wasn’t so eager to get to bed and enjoy the sounds of this storm, I’d stay up longer and go over the various symbols in this dream (the gaping hole, earthmovers, clear-cutting, rushing waters, teetering decks), and also the various reasons why I felt angry and afraid (anxious, irritated, on edge, put out and pissed off) at the vast open-ness of my surroundings after the earthmovers and workmen made their fast bug-line getaway, but I prefer to sleep once more perchance ...

Dreams are illustrations... from the book your soul is writing about you. ~Marsha Norman

Monday, June 6, 2011

the taskmaster police aren't going to come and smash my fingers

Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths. ~Etty Hillesum

I’ve been doing that a lot today, breathing in and then exhaling, audibly! In my downstairs office, the one that isn’t fully packed, isn’t fully ready to be moved upstairs, that office, there’s a post-it note on my desktop monitor that says, “breathe.”

I haven’t worked downstairs in that office since January. A lot has happened since January, and it’s possible I haven’t breathed since then. This I am just noticing, for many reasons. It’s probably why I got pneumonia, choking down all the snot and tears the month of March, didn’t help either.

This weekend, as I continued my thought processes, heart processes and paperwork regrouping processes for everything that is up and coming, I found myself Sunday night getting ready to do the same old things, “Set the alarm for some unbeatable time,” and then telling myself I’d make it, whether it was enough sleep or not, because that’s what a person is supposed to do, even though I spent the entire weekend working on my plan to regroup, readjust for what’s next and to
slooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow down.

I made sure to get sufficient rest. Today, I took enormous, almost dizzyingly deep breaths and then exhaled in almost a clownish fashion, making the dogs look at me as if I was a royal nut ball! I continued to click off the logistics and ballistics on my “to do list,” for the short-term, long-term planning I’ve mentioned of late (last two blogs).

Every time I caught myself reprimanding my “self” for not being done with this yet—since you had the whole weekend to do it, and wasn’t that enough time already, you had the whole weekend “off” except that I didn’t and except that I never really do because since forever and an egg shell I’ve been double-booking my time because that’s all I know how to do—well, every time I caught myself doing that, I’d take another one of those delicious deep breaths and then I’d spit that rot across the room!

That record can skid-skip, and jump off the turntable in my head, fall on the floor and shatter, and if it doesn’t break in that way I intend to frisbee it out over the marsh!

That was then, this is now, and the old way doesn’t work any longer.

There’s no wolf at the door any more. I’m not here all alone, I have backup, and have for a while now, I could actually let my guard down instead of always having my dander up and my underwear all curved up in a bundle.

I can use my multi-tasking skills in a multitude of new ways I’ve probably never thought of because I’ve been applying them in a direction that was up and out of my self for many years.

I forgot, almost, the method to all that madness, the possibilities of where this potentially was leading. I saw where it was taking everyone else, but I forgot I was also along on the trip!

Regrouping this weekend, looking at everything that was going on, that was to continue, that was standing still or petering out, and then gathering up what was left and applying some math to the madness of it, the plan started to re-form for the future.

And, you’d think I’d be all grown up by now too, so wise to this theory ... but did you know that you can put shit on the “warmer” for the night?!?!? Who the fuck knew?!?!? I can be that close to finish and let things simmer, and move to the kitchen to prepare my dinner, and pour a glass of chilled wine (can’t remember the last time I had a glass of chilled wine and didn’t feel like pouring the whole bottle over my head in the last three weeks or so).

I’m realizing that it’s OKAY to be this close to the finish line and “table things for the night.” The taskmaster police aren’t going to come and smash my fingers in the fridge door and say, “Anne, you’re not done yet!” That taskmaster all these years has been me, and the bitch of a supervisor needs to ease up!

I can spend the evening with Mark, since he’s home base one more night this week, which is rare, instead of saying, “I’m sorry, I’m going to keep pushing, I’ll leave a post-it note on the mirror and let you know what time I went to bed, and if you should wake me when you leave.” I can actually be present in the moments that count, get another decent night’s sleep.

If I wake up, I can tell myself, "Go back to sleep, it's not time yet, don't you dare start spinning a single thought process!"

I can be better prepared for what’s up and coming for my clients and my workload and what has been changing and reshaping over the last months, family and otherwise.

I can be ready for Alice’s return home midweek and the much to do to get ready for college “stuff and such” that we have mapped out.

I can be less scared and anxious about Roger and Donna and their needs so I may continue to embrace my relationship with them.

I can spend time with my father this summer.

I can have guilt-free art and writing moments, tall order that one! There's always that critic on my shoulder going, "Shouldn't you be doing something productive, Bitch?" But I'm building up the stronger bitch diva on my other shoulder who says, "Whatever twit-bitch, what do you think the last 25 years of concerted efforts was all about?!!?!? Buzz off!"

I can be ready for the little girls and their new summer schedule (saw them for teensy five minutes today and it had been 10 days!!!! since I had last seen them).

I can be ready for Henry and Walter and their continued manners training and doggy walks.

I can be ready to greet Abigale Lal, healthy and full of wellness, see that all is well in her little family, send Alice off to college after a summer bash, go Southwest with Mark and then finally schedule my first of two STUPID THUMB JOINT SURGERIES!
I can quit now, end of the day, and still be ahead of the game tomorrow, because this is not a game … it’s my life, and for that, I need room to breathe, up under my ribs where I’ve been keeping a ball of stress for something like six weeks, okay maybe longer …

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Two Ladies You Can't Take Anywhere, and One Young Woman Who's Going Somewhere Special ...

Last evening, once the sun started to dip a bit, my sister-in-law Tina and I went to a nearby local community park where they were having a seafood festival, every kind of seafood imaginable. As you entered the park you purchased "coins" with which to trade for beverages, and all the seafood and drinks were sold on point/coin system, which I loved because I hate counting out actual money. We each bought 20 coins/points for 20 dollars and proceeded to walk the now breezy park, which was teaming with people. Temps during the day had been upper 80s and muggy, but at past 6pm it was dreamy breezy.

There's a lot of history in this park for the both of us, since my sister-in-law grew up in the town where the park sits, and had spent her childhood there, and some of her teen dating times there with my brother, and they lived their early years in this community as well before buying their dream home/hobby farm more rural. I, myself, lived in this community (neighbor to the community I now live in) when I was a newly divorced single mom attending the local campus and my eldest daughters attended my sister-in-law's home daycare back then, played two of their young years out with their cousin, my nephew Michael, and visited this park, but if you ask them now, they only remember the park in much later teen years on our final return to Wisconsin when we took Alice swimming there.

We, of course, ran into people we knew from neighboring communities and of course Tina knew more people than I did, since she works nearby, and many people knew both Tina and my brother Jamie. Time moved on and stood still, depending on whichever which way we stepped through the park, and is same-same in whichever which way we step of late, and in general, living in the close-knit communities that we do.

It's going to be like that for a long time, or as Tina and I discussed later, maybe it's going to be like that forever missing Jamie. We're going to get through it, and then just keep going through it, all at the same time, all.the.time. That's pretty much the nature of it. That is what we're thinking is the ultimate feeling. The missing him is never going to go away, which is how we are keeping him.

Eventually, Tina and I settled on our seafood choices. I have to say I had no trouble spending all but 4 of my 20 coins, but my favorite choice was some oven-baked cod, which melted in my mouth, and just might have very nearly almost smoothed, soothed and re-noodled my brain pan for good. It was yummy, melt-in-your mouth omega-3 goodness, on a bed of fresh salad greens including spinach! 'Had some scallops with it and some fries.

Tina had shrimp and fries. We downed bottled waters, diet 7-up and later we each, no holds barred, had a cold beer! --which this brings us to the part of the story where you can't take us anywhere, because outdoor events bring with them flimsy plastic cups!

Below is a picture of what happened to Tina's beer at the halfway point ... and as soon as it happened she said, "Oh, great, I can see right now, this is going to end up on your Facebook!" to which I said, "Nope, I'm on hiatus from Fbook, remember, this is my total family and regroup weekend, but I'm pretty sure I can build a blog post around this!" SNAP!...

So after Tina splashed beer on my foot, we meandered a bit more at the seafood romp, met up with her son/my nephew Michael, fed him some fish, urging him to use our "leftover" coins, and then headed back to her place (the place I still call "Jamie and Tina's" and will forever), where we sat outside swatting the few naggy mosquitos and talked.

As we listened to their new, gurgling fish pond, something planned prior to Jamie's death and put in by mom and son now, we discussed the past, the present and the future, including Alice's graduation which was by then less than 12 hours away. Time once again had flown past us AN INSTANT, except I was reminded of one of my favorite sayings (so much so of late), "no such thing as time, only change," and here we were going another merry round again.

It's dizzying. I don't know how we stopped each other from falling in the fish pond because flash-forward and late last night has smeared already into today, and below, is a picture I snapped of Alice several hours ago, when we got to the high school at the appointed time today, an hour prior to graduation startup.

The grads were to go in one set of doors, and parents/guests in another. I snapped this as she waved "ta-ta for now," and it's on her Facebook page with the words, "Goodbye, Mommy! I'm going to go through the other door all by myself while you go sit down! See you on the stage in an hour!"

When we got home and I looked at the pictures and then handed the Bloggie camera over to her so she could upload what she wanted my comment was, "I love that you are standing by a manhole cover. When you were little that would have terrified you to walk over it," and she would have walked around it, but it's also very Alice and Wonderland and Rabbit-Hole-ish so it's really cracking me up now.

I also, at first cranked on myself, for not "zooming" in the picture, but then we both decided that we loved that she's so "far away" from me down the sidewalk because, well that's somehow very, very appropriate.

It's been quite a weekend in so many respects, I have to say.

Alice Jean Anderson - Graduation Day - June 5 - 2011

Don't compromise yourself. You're all you've got. ~Janis Joplin

Saturday, June 4, 2011

no such thing as time, only change

I am making this mental list today of things to do with the next six months and the next 40 years, the short and long-term. Alice graduates from high school tomorrow, leaves for college this fall. I’ve been toddling kids out my front door and shuffling them off to school for 25 years. The career I have, though it’s morphed over the years, in various exciting ways, I’ve done for the same amount of time. I’m here now where I always thought I would be with the freedom I NEVER THOUGHT I’D EVER HAVE! It worked. I had a family, raised my children and had a career I loved, at the same time! The ME TIME is now here, what the holy fuck?!!?!?! I might piss myself sideways!

And yet there are a few constraints a few loose ends, my own right hand surgery for the arthritis lest my thumb just achy-breaky falls right off! (Oh, and then I can fish, and ride a bike [and use the hand brake again!]), the left hand surgery that will have to follow though not as soon since the right hand is much worse. Even still, I'm postponing this because you can't drive a kid to college, one-handed, nor can you hold a new baby (Sara's), so this winter yet, but soon, the surgery, the time off.

There’s the management of my overflowing client list and what to do with my workload and my me-load (writing, art and other) since I really haven’t settled into this house yet, not really and never (if you really, really look at what’s really “unpacked" specific to my "self."

We have to move Ali out of her room, into her college "stuff and such" mode, we have to unpack the basement, repack it and get it ready for the remodel. There's a rummage sale planned for July, a graduation party in August. My office needs to be moved upstairs in final process, to it's be all/end all space.

There’s the logistics of Mark’s parents and their continued needs, the second job (that really isn’t a job at all) that I adore, but the second chore of it (that isn’t really a chore at all) that their health is failing (his mother especially, my “mother” especially). Her palliative care situation will go hospice care at some point, which will not be my first experience in that realm, but I’m in constant denial about it because I feel like losing my big brother this year I should get a “get out of jail/death of a love one free card” for a while yet.

I like to tease Mark that he and his family aren’t ready for the continued aging of their parents, but I’m not ready for what’s happening to his mom right now, and all the puppies in the world aren’t helping.

I’m trying not to steel my heart while I regroup for what’s next, this six months and how that affects how I see the next 40 years inside my own leftover self.

Staying too strong, you miss important shit, you’ll wish later you hadn’t missed, but some of this is very difficult right now, even for stellar stoic me. I spent March and a good portion of April crying. The latter part of April and all of May, I couldn't work up a tear if you pinched me. I've begun to preface things, in therapy too, as "we can talk about that in a bit but right now I don't want to cry."

I don't have wiper blades the likes of which is needed for the winter slimy sleety mixed rain and frozen shit storm that's up ahead. I can see this going in, this shit that no one can see going in ... yeah, that shit, it's bat shit scary.

I’m trying to spend time with my father in the clever way that we used to when I was a child, the stolen moments when Mommy Dearest wasn’t in the room, and this has brought with it a series of fairy tale moments the last several months that have also brought with them a number of “small notations” in a mental flip memo pad that say “be sure to touch on THAT ONE in therapy.”

I’ll never be a Toys [backwards R] Us Kid, and it irritates me that a person has to pay by the hour just to re-realize that.

What’s the point?

You live, you learn through it? Why do you have to choppity-chop your heart back up, saute it in a pan, cool the contents, prod them with a wooden spoon and then look doe-eyed at your MD/PhD and go, "That's exactly the size of it, only smaller and a bit burnt around the edges, but yes that's it," but I knew that before we threw that shit all over the table in his office and went back through it.

It wasn’t my heart the woodcutter brought back in the box, hello? But Mr. MD/PhD would like to talk about the stuff OUTSIDE THE BOX, of course. It's like he doesn't have cable therapy sessions, only weeks and weeks of boring regular channel sessions and he'd like me to go all cable therapy session on his butt for just one session, just for fun, just so we're not bored. Okay, maybe, so that's on my "to do list."

Oh, and I hate what the math of suicide and death has tried to do with my brothers, the sibling count. There are three of them and thus four of us, or should be. Me, one sister and then three brothers, one older and two younger. However, by high school since they all became GIGANTIC,I ended up being the "little sister" by default, and then in March Jamie killed himself and now?!?!?!

I never did like math. If his being dead somehow makes me the older brother, I guess I’m even sadder, madder and more afraid about this situation than I was before. Not to mention confused and slighlty terrified.

We’ve gone nowhere any such remarkable distance down the grief path. We are not even going in circles. A circle would be an improvement; a maze, even, would be a relief, as if there was some sense to it. We are still in the fucking brambles.

But, I digress, and this morning I woke up because the dogs were barking, and I heard Mark’s voice outside the bedroom window saying, “ WIDGERS!” (His nickname, for them … don’t ask me! He also calls them “The Body Walkers” and “The Sniffers.”)

I woke up thinking, “Ugh! Fuck, Ah!” I just wanted sleep, no alarm, a wake up on my own time without a "50 things to do in the first five minutes list;" it had been a very, very long week and a very, very long last 72 hours.

A few moments later, I walked bleary-eyed out to the open-concept fabulous home we’ve managed for ourselves (with our past histories before us, and much shared history now between us).

Mark came in off the deck, sunshine behind his silly grinning face and cropped curls, and the dogs ran to greet him. I could not help but smile, but didn't.

All I saw was the deck behind him, a sea of green and the empty coffin-size planters (I have and zero-time this last several weeks to attend to the house or gardens).

“How are you this morning,” he teased.

I replied in a pissy growl, “I just would for once like to wake up, in and of myself, without being on someone else’s shit-ass joking schedule.”

He replied, with a perplexing, “Huh, I had to get up and get an early start on things?” (The guy across the street and he were on a mulching deal/schedule this morning/early … I was intending on sleeping till 9:00 or hoped.)

I said, “Yeah, I know, but did you have to come around to the bedroom window and wake me up and get the dogs barking, I just wanted 8 hours of sleep, for once, all in a row on the same night, which is why I’m going to see if I can go get my old apartment back.” (When Alice was in 6th grade, I downsized out of the “big house” since she was the only kid left, and took an apartment, which of course is when you end up “upsizing” right back into the thick of it again.)

Mark said,“I wasn’t trying to get the dogs going to wake you up, I was out there quietly spraying weeds, and I was trying to get them to be quiet, they were sleeping with you but they popped up, and saw me through the screen.”

“Oh,” I sheepishly replied, and tried to unscrew my face, and shove the Craigslist rental ads for country shacks with barely any running water, one light bulb, one power cord and WiFi service, and a tiny fenced yard for the dogs out of my head, “I’m sorry,” and trailed off in my bare feet to find “real clothes” for the day.

I’ve been wearing “real clothes” a lot of late, and “real” shoes and socks for months now, and I’m exhausted!

He said, “I know, you’re thinking about places in the woods again, for just you. Why? Why, when we have such a nice place, look what we’ve accomplished.”

“Yeah, I know, but it’s too big, and I don’t feel like cleaning it, and the idea was I could live and work anywhere and now look where I am," as I expanded my arms to try and encompass my beautiful home the whole time looking like a bird shit on my head.

Yeah, I know, what a bitchy ungrateful thing to say, because the thing is, where I am is pretty damn good and I have worked a lifetime to get here, but old stories play in my head that say you can’t depend on anyone but yourself, and everyone is going to leave, die, or piss you off somehow, or worse yet blame you for shit that’s their fault in the first place, or leave you stuck holding a huge bag full of their shit that really stinks and when you finish cleaning it up there will be no thanks and sometimes for shits and extra giggles they shit on you some more, but Mark hasn’t done that, ever, which is why I wear stacks and stacks of engagement rings and can’t bring myself to officially marry him because the dude just won’t quit.

Yeah, that makes sense, plus sometimes I still really, really, really WANT TO LIVE IN ALASKA! I have had that dream since I was seven years old, which is why I hoped they’d develop the internet so I COULD LIVE AND WORK ANYWHERE!

I joked in the garage this past weekend, when I relinquished my relationship with Mark over to his friend Dave for the Harley weekend riding season, that it’s never hard on me because my “preference is to be alone,” and Dave said it was utter bullshit, “that women aren’t really like that,” that I wasn’t like that, that I was too much fun, too much of a “people person,” too much everything, and too interested in too many things, and I begged to differ, over and over and over.

Finally, Mark looked up from whatever cranky case he was working on (truth be told, I don’t know what the fuck they were doing to the bike), and said, “No, Dave, it’s true, that’s the thing about Anne.” [And this “thing about Anne” is one true character map point that is true about me “before” and “after” the stroke, which is nice, because I need those touch points, those things that remain me, unchanged, good or bad. Good or bad, truth be told, I DON’T NEED ANYBODY!]

Anne can take it or leave. That’s the spooky thing about me. I’m perfectly happy all safe and sound up inside myself, my work, my writing, my art and my solitude, but I can also be the “life of the party” even though at the same time I’d rather be “all safe and sound up inside myself, my work, my writing, my art and my solitude.”

I’m a tough nut to crack and even when I’m cracking up, am I really? The “cracking up,” the getting in and getting through is something I save for family and close friends and confidants, and there are those of them who still have to use a nutcracker or a fence post over my head a times to get through.

“Isolating and insulating” is a way that it was once described to me, about me, and I was all like, “Cool, thank you. I had never heard it called that before, thanks.”

And then the person said, “Anne, that’s not meant to be a compliment.”

Oops. Yeah, so I’ll work on that [in my cave, next to that field of wildflowers, now get the fuck out of here and leave me to it!]

So these are all the things I’m thinking about today, growling, over-tired, premenstrual, and looking at a stack of work paperwork, writing, art, billing, invoices, insurance paperwork, medical files for Ali and myself, college stuff, tax filings, work metrics, healthcare information for the elderly, unopened mail, photos and “save the date” cards for Ali’s end of the summer graduation/going away party, stuff for niece-daughter’s Sara’s baby/baby shower, stuff about the little girls/summer plans, Jamie’s thumb print medallion wishing it was a whole Jamie instead of something I’m supposed to put on a bracelet or a string, calendars, vacation requests, medical leave stuff, trying to get it all situated for the short-term/long-term plan for the next 6-month and the next 40 years (what I kind of promised my girls and what health and heredity well might afford me) because tomorrow is all about Alice as she graduates and I don’t want to be farting around with this bullshit, and the next day is the first day of the second half of the rest of my life.

Be there, or be square.

I’ll be there, though old habits are hard to break, and I’ll be there in my usual stick-up-the-ass, insulated and isolated fashion.

I’ve been up for hours now, and while I remain exhausted, the house is quiet, cool and calm. It is, as stated previously a fine castle. Mark and I have worked hard (prior to meeting each other in various fashions and collectively these past years). We are very, very lucky. The dogs are napping. Mark is out riding. I’m going out to dinner later with my sister-in-law; with or without my brother we force ourselves to do these things.

I’ve worked hard, we’ve worked hard. I woke up crabby, but for now I’m not renting any silly apartments or one-room cabins with singular light bulbs, frayed extension cords and WiFi, but a gal can dream; I’ll just dream, bigger and wider and use plane tickets, train tickets and automobiles and this as home base, doy!