my_lost_mind: (Default)
An old childhood friend of mine shared something meaningful on Facebook not long ago (she must have read it somewhere else and then passed it along).

The basic idea is that you set aside a jar, and into that jar you drop notes to yourself that contain things you were thankful for on any given day.

I'm going to take a stab at doing this via this blog, dropping random notes into the virtual gratitude jar with things that I am grateful for on days when I'm feeling positive and/or feel like putting something in the jar.

In theory, you would go back and look through the jar at the end of the year and have something positive to reflect upon.

Today I am grateful for the following:
  1. Today was the first day in 3 weeks that I felt like dancing.   I was out walking with my doggie, heard the song "Killer Queen" pouring through my headphones via my radio station feed, and suddenly I was struck with the urge to dance.   I started skipping along the walking path in beat to the song.   My poor doggie didn't know what I was up to!

  3. Warm days in January.   Today it was 51 degrees and rainy (vs. cold and frozen).  The heat didn't kick on all day.  I enjoyed 2 lovely walks with my dog and didn't freeze.   This makes me happy.

  5. My good health, and having 2 strong legs that can carry me along wherever I want to go.   

  7. Colleagues who make me laugh.   I was IM'ing with a colleague who I've worked with for many years (he's in an office across the country) , laughing about some string of emails where fellow employees kept hitting the "reply to all" button on their email.  They were inadvertently clogging up everyone's inbox with personal accounts of problems logging into some corporate application / tool.   We saw another email come through, and he picked up and called me.  We talked about various projects in play, discussed some project / approach concepts, and then we just chatted about random funny moments in the history of our employer.  I asked him how his dog was doing (he and his family have had a wonderfully dumb Great Dane for 8 years now).  He told some funny stories about the dog, and his family.   It was just like being back in the "real" office where we would shoot the breeze during our lunch breaks.
I also downloaded the expansion pack for World of Warcraft, and will be spending some time over the next couple days reading up on how to spec my level 85 shadow priest so I can level her to 90.  There's a spot waiting for me in one of the guild raids as soon as I'm ready.

my_lost_mind: (unhappy)
My Beloved Ghost,
I am sure you have long since forgotten that this was the day we met, October 2nd 1989.
It's a day that I will never forget as long as I live, because I find it impossible to forget you even after more than a decade of not being a "couple".
I'm not even going to dive into sentimentality about how I thought you seemed weird to me, and that I was not immediately attracted to you, but something about you drew me in.   You were one of the most passionate (opinionated!) intelligent human beings I had ever met and it didn't matter if I thought you looked like Raul Julia with your dark hair and eyes, angular features, and that funky black turtleneck you wore.  I wanted to get to know you.   I remember wearing some hideous red sweater vest, my hair was all wild and 80s fluffy.  What a sight.     Do you know that it was you who inspired me to give up eating red meat?  Haven't touched it since that night we met.
Do you remember that old pickup truck you were driving around in back in those days?   You had borrowed it, or bought it off your brother.  It had been previously owned by a pest control company so it still had random catch phrases painted on the side like the phrase "home and industrial".  That thing always used to make me laugh, but not quite as much as the "Elvis" hearse you had parked in your driveway.
So many things I have wanted to say to you over the years, but have never had the chance.   The first thing I would say to you is, I'm sorry.
I'm so very sorry for giving up on you, giving up on us, but by 1993 we were living on emotional islands unable to process all that we had gone through 3 years before.   I still have a hard time getting a grip on that, what happened in the summer of 1990.  At the time it seemed like such an "obvious" thing to do, but what I didn't realize at the time was how much that decision would haunt me to this day.  This was the beginning of the end of us, and we hadn't even moved in together at that point.
This decision was our undoing, but it also set the course for the rest of our lives.
Just know this...  I never stopped loving you.  I still think of how different our lives would have been if a different decision had been made.
My dear old friend, I know you love your wife and children.   I'm not stalking you and I would never dare tell her about what happened between us  You know that you would not have met her were it not for me.  Somehow we're all connected in this lifetime whether we choose to accept it or not.  Fate has bound us together for one reason or another.   (Yeah, I know you're an atheist, so maybe it's just dumb luck eh?)
 I just wanted you to know that you, my dear, are the benchmark.  You are the one that I have compared to all others that followed.   I've not experienced the magic of staying up half the night watching funny shit on tv, running out for ice cream at 2am, and sitting in the car parked in the driveway so we could hear the name of the piece of classical music that we both just experienced on the radio.   Slow dancing in the kitchen, me standing on your toes.   Prowling through bookstores on a rainy weekend afternoon, or spending hours at the archives doing family history research.   I've shared none of these things with anyone else.
This is the part that hurts the most.
In those months I was planning to leave, that time I was so angry and confused, I pushed all of those beautiful memories into some dusty corner of my mind.  I felt like I was in a purgatory, trapped between where I was supposed to "go" in my future, and where I felt that I belonged (with you).    I've never met another one like you and I'm not sure that I ever will.
Still, I wish you nothing but happiness.   You got the wife and kids, the house in the suburbs, and a career that you always aspired to.
I got the "cynical and drunk, and boring someone in some dark cafe".    

Everything is in it's place.  Life goes on.  I never did have kids of my own, but you already know this.
The one thing I'm not sure of is how happy you are with her.   I know that you would never leave her, or leave your kids, because you don't want your kids to go through what you did growing up (divorced parents) but I do wonder how much you gave up to get where you are.
No matter what, just know that I will never forget you, and all that we shared more than 2 decades ago.   I will always be there for you if you ever need a friend.  
No matter where I go, I will always see your face.
That Girl.
my_lost_mind: (unhappy)
There are a few letters to people in my life that I would never send for one reason or another. Either the person has been gone from my life for a number of years and I have no way to reach them via the electronic universe or via the post, or sending a letter would just disrupt a fragile balanced puzzle of a past vs. present relationship. These are just words stuck in the corner of my mind that want to get out and breathe.

Dear Comet,

The first time I met you a couple years ago, you and I were strangers at a party. I remember thinking you were a curious fellow who told some great stories and seemed to be bursting with knowledge. I also remember being preoccupied with so many other things that happened that weekend, and what was going on in my life back home at the time, that really didn't get much of a chance to connect with you.

The second time we met was at the same social gathering, one year later. It was Friday night and you were quite drunk, but remembered me. I had developed a strong aversion to drunk people, as you can recall I was living with a dysfunctional alcoholic at the time who was making my life hell. My best defense to my own ambiguous feelings was to gently scold you, saying how impossible it is to have an intellectual conversation with someone who has been drinking too much. I also mentioned that if you wanted to talk to me, really talk to me, you should not be quite so drunk the next time we meet.

The next day we spent a little bit of time together, although you were seriously tethered to your friends and they seemed to be more interested in keeping to themselves than inviting in an outsider. Truth be told, I really only wanted to get to know you, to spend some actual time talking or hanging out since all you were to me at that point was a figment of my imagination, wrapped in a complicated human form. I was seeing what I wanted to see, and because you would not, or could not talk to me alone nothing seemed to shake that feeling in me that you were some sort of mystery that needed to be solved.

I wanted to know whether or not my gut feeling, my instincts about you were correct or if this was all the product of my imagination, just looking to feel some spark of joy, something to feel hopeful about. The riddle would not be solved until I could prove myself wrong, or be pleasantly surprised to prove myself right.

Later that night, we connected again - another party - voices lost in a crowded room. The whole experience felt like most of my high school years, I had no idea if you were thinking of me in the same way, if you were curious about me, if we had anything deeper in common aside from what we shared in our brief conversations. We talked about music, Star Trek, our trials with trying to get by in a tough economy. We also talked about our strange families, and you told me a sad tale about yours. This brief conversation only made my feelings for you more complicated - was this triggering that old inner need to rescue, or were you someone I could really connect with because we shared similar painful journeys in life?

I could say something poetic like, it felt like we were two comets that just happened to zoom past Earth at the same time once every year, only to disappear into the cosmos again following our own unique but distant path. To be more direct, it felt like I was losing my mind. How is it that I can only spend a few hours a year with you? Seriously, departing that party on Saturday night felt awful for me. I wanted some sense of closure, one way or another, and all I got was more ambiguity. It felt like leaving Brigadoon, not knowing if I would ever find it, or you again.

Yes, you're right. I was still living with my ex at the time and trying to stay in touch was going to be complicated, but you knew that he would be leaving. You knew that he and I were no longer a "couple" and I was not coming onto you from the perspective of cheating on someone else. I really just wanted to get to know you better. You never gave me your phone number, but I gave you mine, and my email address, and snail mail address, and we became friends on FB after that point.

However, the only time we ever seemed to "talk" to each other on FB chat was when one or both of us were going through some particularly bad time. I remember the time you told me that my ex would escalate his crazy before he moved out (and he did), and you seemed genuinely concerned. Maybe that was just what I wanted to read in your words. I remember the time we chatted on FB this past Spring when you were down on your luck, feeling hopeless, and I sent you money without you asking for it. Once again, it felt like something I should do because it felt like something I would hope someone would do for me if I were in that same place.

I felt a connection to you that now seems foolish, false, and a product of my imagination.

When I didn't hear from you again for a few months, only to have you pop up again on FB chat, once again down on your luck and needing money, I started to see through some of the gauzy netting I had been viewing you through. You seemed to be in a perpetual state of going from one crisis to another, unable to get out of the cycle of shitty bad luck that you had found yourself in. Still, I found it hard to judge you. I wanted to feel compassion, still wanting to get to know you. I continued to effectively "stalk" you on FB, for what it's worth. Waiting to see if you would comment on a post I had made, reading your updates hoping that something good had happened in your life Nothing.

How stupid is that? Really. I know you don't have consistent internet access, but how is it that I managed to get myself sucked into thinking we could actually cultivate a meaningful friendship by FB alone? I'm sorry Comet, but I really thought at some point you might see fit to call me, actually call me on the phone (since I had given you my cell phone number at least twice in the past). You have no idea how much a 30 minute phone call would have meant to me, just to hear your voice, to have a real conversation.

We didn't see each other at the social gathering this year - you couldn't afford to go. I get that. You asked if I wanted to attend a different convention in September, closer to where you live. Truth is hon, if I were less jaded and more foolish, I would cough up the money to go to that con just to spend time with you. I've done similarly foolish things in my life, but did so knowing I would reap some small reward from taking that risk.

I'm not like that anymore, and I don't have any faith left in our paths crossing again unless you actually make an effort to connect with me. I hate it when I'm wrong about someone, and I feel worse when I realize I've been doing nothing more than cultivating an unrequited crush, instead of trying to form a friendship.

You're getting this letter because I'm moving on, as I should have months ago. I can't deal with the teenage drama of FB stalking, trying to turn fantasy into reality, and still not having one fucking clue what you're really all about. If you wake up someday and decide that you actually want to get to know me, then pick up the damned phone and call me. Don't send me a PM on FB, don't post some shit on my FB "wall", you know my name, look up the number.

Yours Truly,

That Girl

my_lost_mind: (Default)
One of my greatest strengths, as well as my greatest flaws, is that I prefer to see the world with a lovely gauzy pink veil cast over it. Any color will do actually, except maybe black.

Of course I know that when things get really bad for me, a friend, or family member this means I just flat out shut down and refuse to accept that things are Really That Bad.

The funny thing about this is that I'm not particularly religious, I just hold on to some strange inner belief that no matter what happens, as long as I wake up on the right side of the grass, I know that it's going to be "okay".

I'm not entirely sure where this attitude comes from, to be honest. Neither of my parents were or are particularly optimistic, but they were (and are) very good at denial.

Take for example my first husband. He was a mentally unbalanced control freak with anger management issues. No, really. He was. He's the kind of guy who would get into some disagreement with me while we were riding together in the car, pull over at some store on the side of the road, and make me get out of the car. He used to put his fist through hollow walls (I once watched him punch a hole in a hollow door). The man was one angry fellow. This anger showed up fairly early in the relationship, but I stuck it out anyway thinking somehow he would magically transform into a kind hearted, emotionally stable prince who would just "be there" for me when I needed him.

I wanted to believe that he was a good person, or at least someone who wasn't quite so screwed up. Of course this lead to me sticking around in an otherwise psychologically abusive situation for far longer than I should have.

I've always had a problem with recognizing when people were being jerks to me, not wanting to believe it - wanting to believe that "they can change.. if only...". If only the sky turned purple, and the grass blue, and the world looked like some far out funky Peter Max painting with groovy people wearing flowers in their hair. Yeah right, pass the magic herb over this way, I'm sitting over here on a giant orange mushroom.

With all this inability to see the faults in others, I have to say that this optimism has saved me from wanting to opt for the big dirt nap more than a few times.

More than a decade ago, I suffered my first bout of very real, very serious depression. Within about 6 months of time I lost my job, my grandmother, was in the middle of a nightmarish situation with my then-housemates, and a former boyfriend (that I still had not managed to get over) announced the birth of his first child. One at a time, these types of life issues would have been easier to weather. Getting them all in one big flaming ball was pretty hard to manage.

Still, some little chunk of meat inside my skull fired off enough electrons (along with the help of some modern chemistry) to convince me that if I were to die today, I might miss out on something else that was infinitely better than what I was going through right now.

This same dynamic kicked in when some years later, I went through a bad breakup and financial ruin within a small stretch of time. Even though I felt like a big wad of melted gravel-infused bubble gum on the bottom of the Universe's shoe, I figured dying wasn't an option because there are folks who are not given the option to stick around another day.

Somehow I just manage to keep breathing, which keeps my brain operative, which keeps the body doing it's usual thing.

So what?

Alright, so here's where it gets stupid.

I've always managed to get myself into trouble by looking forward to things happening in my life that never seem to materialize.

I spent the better part of my childhood and teenage years daydreaming about growing up to have some mythical life with a husband, children (with 2 cats in the used to be so hard...), staying at home writing books, tending a garden, and being some hippie earth mother type. I remember being 14 years old, thinking about John Lennon and how old "40" seemed to be. I wondered what my life would be like at 40, and started to think about all the living that John Lennon would never get to do... (okay, cut me a break, I have ADD). The point is that nothing seemed to be able to shake that fantasy loose from my brain - that I would have this storybook life of perfect bliss someday.

Never mind that my parents hated each other, my home life was far from idyllic, so where the heck did I get all these vague notions of what a perfect life would be for me at 30, 40, etc. Maybe it was too much pop music, but any other life path for me would have seemed unbelievable at the time.

It wasn't until I reached my mid-to-late thirties that I realized life really is what happens while you're busy making other plans, and that old fantasy started to fall apart like some city from a post-apocalyptic movie. Before I knew it, I was staring at the wreckage of my beliefs that I would have a happy marriage, kids, the house in the suburbs, etc. and was trying to come to terms with the reality of being in a bad relationship with someone I didn't want to marry, approaching the point of being "too old" to have biological children, and still climbing out of a pit of financial ruin. My career was getting better, but it certainly wasn't the life of a prolific enigmatic author. This feeling sucked, but losing this dream shook up that pink glittery snowglobe in my head that always wanted to believe that all dreams come true.

Here's another brief tale of weirdness from my recent past. About 7 or 8 years ago I had a crush on a guy that I only saw a few times a year. Every time I saw him, I wondered if I could ever strike up some sort of longer conversation that would lead to us (at least) going out for a drink, coffee, etc. I knew that he was single, and lived a few hours away, but that didn't matter. He had an adorable smile, was bright, a little reserved, but also had a very calm manner, pleasant voice, and great sense of humor.

I attended a regional convention related to the hobby that we shared, and he and I sat next to each other at dinner one night (with a group of other hobbyists). We talked a bit, I learned about his financial (and other) troubles, and I felt a little sad for him. He seemed fairly defeated. Despite talking for that brief time (and some well meaning friends trying to convince him to call me "someday"), nothing more materialized. Shortly after that convention, I took up with another guy who I was far less into and my crush fantasy was tucked into a metaphorical box in my mind.

My life got stupid, complicated, and crazy over the next several years. A few years ago I attended a club meeting for that old hobby I was into, and learned that my old crush had passed away in 2009. Just like that. I had not thought about that guy in years, but somehow the news of his passing made that old daydream feel uncomfortable. I felt an overwhelming sadness. More Reality beating the living shit out of Fantasy. Dreams die. People die. Everything dies.

But I don't wanna live in Realityville.. It hurts.

The last year or so of my life I've been cultivating a sense of pragmatism when it comes to my daydreams. I've cultivated crushes on men I have no chance in ever meeting in real life so I can keep my fantasies in check. In other words, I can sit and watch Top Gear and daydream about James May, going for a ride in the English countryside in one of his amazing cars and stopping off at some lively pub for a few pints, and so on. This is a fantasy that falls squarely into the "not bloody likely" category. I can wrap my head around the fact that there is no pining for this person, wondering what they're up to, wondering if they think about me. None of that.

When it comes to thinking about men that I actually know and/or have seen and would like to know better, I have learned to temper my enthusiasm. I've learned that no matter how much I might want to get to know someone better, hope that they call, wonder if they are thinking of me, etc. boarding that particular train of thought is like being blindfolded in a large transit center, spun around a few times and pointed at some random door. You might end up going somewhere interesting but you're also just as likely to end up completely lost, stuck just outside of Clusterfuck City, in the absolute worst part of town (with no return train until morning).

Mind you, this is still a raging battle in my head.

This daydreaming habit is very old, and I do tend to cling to it when I'm feeling bored or lonely. The key in winning this battle seems to be avoiding those choices that lead me to be "bored", and to find activities that make me feel less socially isolated.

I'm never going to knock this out completely, and I am okay with that. Being a dreamer is what I am, and despite my crunchy cynical outer shell, I still have that old romantic heart beating within. I'm just trying very hard not to paint anyone's face into that perpetually unfinished painting tucked away in the dusty corners of my mind.

March 2013

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