I'm really sorry, it had to be done. The spam was becoming offensive, even to me.
I'm really sorry, it had to be done. The spam was becoming offensive, even to me.
"...But Wynona featured a disturbing shot of a naked, emaciated girl holding
a knife." - Interview with Daniel Lanois for Vintage Gear with Paul Tingen - September, 1994
Here is something I remembered in a fit of deeply personal and subjectively quiet hysteria the other night…
((I’m calling it subjectively quiet because the wind was howling on the inside but on the outside I was weeping quietly, bent forward with my head in my hands trying to figure out what to do with a piece of information I just couldn’t process fast enough to reconcile neatly enough to stop crying or start breathing or just something. I’d gone tharn like Richard Adams’ rabbits in the middle of my own highway) I can have a nested parenthetical out here in the middle like an interlude, can’t I? Of course I can. I make up the rules out here. What was I thinking?)) Crap. The brackets are all wrong on this. I just know they are.
…during that period of 68 first dates one of the things I noticed, which shocked the shit out of me initially until a slow dawning unfolded into a state of gentle compassion (because it really didn’t matter if I was unavailable) was that the older a man got, the younger he seemed to need his women to be or the harder he found the process of accepting the viable dating pool. There was a line in the sand. It moved a little but it was definitely there. Keeping in mind that I was 45 when this dating business started I had a pretty open profile in the beginning. I opened the age gate from 40 – 58 and left it there for awhile. I accepted 38 – 60 as long as they were honest. Some of the outliers were really creepy. Some of the older men really felt the need to put me in my place. I should be grateful, or something like that. Anybody under about 48 seemed to be OK, for the most part. Maybe mortality hadn’t sunk in. Or maybe 50 was the line. I think it moves for all of us. Anyway, it took me awhile to work this out. Once I worked it out I narrowed the age gate. You were allowed to be two years older and two years younger but that was it. Seems a little harsh, doesn’t it? Dating is harsh. I don’t and absolutely did not need to deal with anybody’s aging issues and didn’t need to deal with boys still in the process of growing up either. I was also avoiding men with young children.
At 45 I should simply have known better.
Now the men I attract are younger than I am but not by much. I won’t go into the 19 year old, he’s one of those oddities and it has nothing to do with me. I don’t attract men older than 50 that I’m aware of. Well that’s not true entirely. There is NM (and I don't know that I attracted NM, I know NM attracted me) and at least one other but I’m definitely old enough to remind them that they’re all aging. We are all aging, each second, minute, hour, day… closer toward death.
Which of these statements is true for you?
We used to be young and beautiful but now we are just old.
We used to be young and beautiful but now we are just beautiful.
There’s a tremendous distinction.
I know a man who shoots nudes of perfect young women. I love him actually; he’s fabulous and I’m happy he’s starting to shoot other things. So the nudes, they’re very beautiful photographs until you’ve seen more than 25 of them and then something happens. For me they lost their magic in their sameness. After that there was a repeating message that got louder and louder. What was that movie? Contact? Wasn’t there a message that played over and over? Jodie Foster was listening… So that’s what I think of when I see these photographs, or that’s what I hear… I am dying, I am dying, I am dying, Oh My God, I am so frightened. That’s my compassionate listening. This is also what I hear… This is what is beautiful, nothing else is interesting, in a few short years, this will cease to have meaning because it will have aged and I will see nothing else (I will pick new models). My camera’s eye sees nothing else. There is only this. Even the faces he photographs are often classically and genetically perfect. This reminds me of the film Gattaca from 1997 where everyone is genetically modified (Elizabeth just saw this in school, her science class, actually) and all depth and meaning is lost and the only person with any real drive has not been modified and moves the weight of the world to achieve the impossible. He is assisted by the genetically modified who later offs himself in a furnace in a state of despair. I’m off track…
Back to what I had to face. This is going to be a leap so put your seat belt on and whip your brain sideways with me.
Coming up on five years ago now, Pataskala asked me something about Nomans after he’d left. She asked me, listen, sweetie, you have to ask yourself, is this something you can live with because it’s not going to change. Can you change yourself today or sometime in the future to be OK with these things? Can you look at this man the way he really is and then look at yourself and evaluate reasonably whether or not there is enough in common to serve as the basis for compatibility and THEN, even after that, whether you have what you need, can live without what you think you need and can live with what you think is maybe not so good for you.
Well shit. That set me back on my heels and I was MAD AS HELL.
Nobody likes to be told that shit, or have that pointed out to them especially when all they want is their beloved husband back. Crap. I would have (and did) done ANY-THING.
So I said yes. Yes, I can do these things. Yes, I can live with it, or them, or whatever. Yes, I can change.
Later, in evaluating my part in the whole mess, (parts. I had lots and lots of parts.)I noticed a really not so good habit. Something would happen or a red flag would pop up. No, that’s not it exactly. Exactly this is it: Something would happen again and again and again and I would make it not so. Or I would make it OK but mostly I would make it not so. There were only a few things I was not able to reconcile and one or two REALLY big things that just sat out there in front of us and the whole world honestly like the unacceptable awful things they really were. I made a fair number of things either OK or not so.
Back on change (two paragraphs up). I have actually changed a lot. I changed in the places I needed to change for my own sanity. They were changes that needed to happen no matter what. Would they have saved my marriage? Possibly. Was it a marriage worth saving? I don’t think so. There were and are things I know I need in a relationship that I’m pretty sure I was never going to get out of that one and as I’ve communicated fairly distinctly, it would be far better to be alone than to live in an unhealthy relationship. I’ve already worked out that I can live alone. I’ve already worked out that I’m not so good dealing with most older men, or at least most older men in my experience. I know a few who have their shit together in terms of their own aging.
The problem is I never really do know when I’m going to run into one of my own limitations.
Back to my subjectively quiet melt-down. The state of the female body. Oh holy hell do I have energy on this one. The female body and rampant sexism from both genders. The health of the female body. Things we do to ourselves. Things that are done to us. There was an article published recently by the Huffington Post on what it means to be attractive. I think the author or the photographer meant to show as wide a variety as possible of body types and to give Gracie Hagen credit, she didn’t play favorites. So the models were asked to pose in what was meant to be attractive and what was meant not to be attractive. I can’t quite figure out who thought what was attractive because I’ve read it twice and quite honestly I’m bothered by the whole thing for a number of reasons but it’s the Huff and the words ‘stunning’ and ‘nude’ together are to be expected. There are only two ‘stunning’ photographs in the entire series and by stunning I don’t mean traditionally beautiful. The rest of it is schlock photography on an overplayed subject and Arianna sold out a very long time ago. This is right up there with every other ‘stunning’ or ‘shocking’ or ‘unbelievable’ video or article going viral on Facebook these days. No. It is not. It just is. Now give me some decent journalism or move on. That was definitely off topic…
So the one photograph knocked me sideways. I was looking at it on my phone so I might have been wrong or over reacting but I could count her ribs in the ‘attractive’ pose and the ‘unattractive’ pose made me think Auschwitz and scenes from The Grapes of Wrath and what happens when there just isn’t enough protein to go around and the body starts eating muscle. I hadn’t gone to anorexia until it was brought up which is interesting. I should have gone there first. I went to starvation. I said, buy that girl a hamburger (which is what my friend Jen used to say to me when I couldn’t eat for days and days (like 10 days of nothing and then roughly 10 weeks of very little protein because I couldn’t keep much down) and literally was starving and my body *did* start eating its own muscle tissue in self-defense and that was damn scary shit).
Later I looked at it on the big screen and it was worse. I closed the page. Is this here because this falls into the range of ‘normal’ and ‘lean’ or is this here because this represents the general spectrum the same way that obesity is on the general spectrum? There is certainly a wide spectrum in those photographs. Do we call them all normal? What would most men say? Is the woman with all her ribs showing lean and normal but the women carrying an extra 100 pounds not normal? Tell. The. Truth.
At the pediatrician’s office I remember the growth charts and we were happy when our babies were near the top and then happy as girls when we were taller but so so so skinny and in the 10th percentile for weight. What the hell?
And this is what I had to face. Can I be healthy in my own body and mind regardless of what the world around me believes is normal and acceptable? Can I be clear? Can I be OK? What do I need to do to keep myself ‘safe’? Do I need to be ‘safe’? How deep are the scars from my childhood? How deep are the scars from my life before I woke up and said, hey! Wait a minute!
Daniel Lanois - For the Beauty of Wynona. That cover. My God. It knocked me sideways in 1997 when I took a copy from Elizabeth's father. The sheer power in that photograph. I had my own thoughts about it. I saw an emaciated girl/woman with a knife. And some makeup. She looked dangerous as hell but sane. Or at least sane enough. I identified with her. And I loved that CD. I love Daniel Lanios very much, actually. I love anything he's done or produced. He's got a very distinct sound/style. I still have that CD floating around somewhere and I still identify with Wynona. I was just getting my feet under me in January, 1997. I remember weighing 105 pounds and being really scared about it. I remember going to work at The Castle and putting on 12 pounds almost immediately because I was happy. I remember being suddenly happy. I remember hitting 125 pounds and talking to my OB/GYN. I stood in the hallway after an appointment and asked, hey, am I fat? She took the question seriously.I was 33. Florkow and I were Ponies. She said, 'put your hands on your hips and stand up straight.' She walked around me looking up and down and then she said, 'No. Your body fat to weight looks absolutely right. Don't mess it up.'
Later I went home to Elizabeth's father and asked, hey, I have a little bit more breast now but I think I'm fat. Would you rather have 112 pounds again or keep the boob because I could stop eating today and have it off in two weeks. He thought about it for awhile and then said, 'I think keep the boob'. (listen, if you're inclined to judge him, one, are you squeaky clean? and two, remember, I'm the one who asked)
I've been healthy for awhile now. I intend to stay that way. I just shocked the shit out of myself - how fast I came to my own knees.
Wynona, though, one crazy woman.
That's what they're working on. There are no more recitals but there will be a brief performance at the end of January where we the parents family friends people who give a damn will gather at the studio to watch what all 8 of them, spanning 8 years to 15 and multiple abilities that are coming closer together each week (and one more reaches for those elusive shoes) have accomplished in what is really a very short time. This is a still from a video taken 7 weeks in. I had no business asking her to put those shoes back on at the end of such a long day after she'd already untaped her feet and dance on a shiny wood floor. Unsafe. Unfair. She was careful. Her bourres were beautiful, her arms... I know, I'm her mother, but she makes a beautiful dying swan. Truly.
The costume was from Halloween. It just all happened to work out and that really is how the whole thing started.
So I did buy another car (clearly, I am not walking to work), drama continues to occur (whatever) and Christmas is approaching faster than I'd like.
And the last baby turns 13 next Wednesday. I'll be damned. How the hell did this happen? She'd just turned 6 when I started this blog. Beautiful. She is. Cletus and Numbah One Son too. He has a hedgehog on his face. You know who the other guy is (that's not NM, he has his own family, that's a father).
Lastly. The last time I had any direct communication with Nomans was about a year ago. It was beyond horrible. Heartbreaking, mean, biting, vicious, angry and I finally just let go. Nothing ever said again. No wait. I think later I had to ask for tax returns but that hardly counts.
I had to tell him something this week and I was harsher than I'd have liked to have been just because of strain and I said so and it was ok anyway. I'm ok. This is good.
So there's your update. I'm alive. Those are partial high lights and now I need to get back to work so I can get out in time to sit in traffic for two hours to dance in Brooklyn because quite honestly, it's worth it. I need to un-isolate myself. This is how I do it.
This is a great song, School Days Over. Hasn't got a thing to do with the haikus I seem to have written today except for the word Anthracite, which is a beautiful word and a horrible thing when you think about it. Sometimes when I get sharp shooting pain into the back of my skull like ice picks it feels like anthracite those ice picks are breaking through. That just occurred to me this morning when I was thinking about this weekend and how that particular spiking only occurs under duress and it's one of the few parts of a migraine I can actually control if I can get to it in time. I can't actually stop the migraine but I can stop the spiking if I can just pull away from the stressors and breathe. Quiet myself. If I can't make the stressors stop, if I can't manage to breathe, then gods help me, I'm going right over the migraine cliff and it's going to take days, maybe an entire week to come back from it. But the thing is, I *can* do something about it. On the other hand, this is a new symptom and I'm supposed to be having it looked at because it scared the doc (I may or may not have mentioned this because it's also making me just a little bit nervous). On the other hand, it's an extraordinarily vulnerable position to be in because there are now things outside myself that have a direct effect on my well being. It's a double edged sword, right? Used to be a migraine was a migraine and as long as I got myself put away I could ride it out. For example I found out this year that altitude wreaks havoc on migraines that may just be lurking. Who knew? The higher I climbed the worse it got - so bad that my balance started to go and my vision was getting a little funky. Coming down was a bit of a horror show for a bit but then it started to get better. Anyway, those things you find out and it's not so bad. Finding out that emotional stressors cause anthracite ice picks up the back side of the skull right through your eyeballs, well that's a good thing and a not so good thing. Better get yourself to a safe house and be quick about it. Or learn to breathe through anything. Shit, I don't know. How much am I supposed to expect of myself? I'm still working that one out. I can't remember if it was my mother or someone else who pointed out that the giant red S on my chest is not for Superhero, it's for Stupid. Maybe it was my first husband. Anyway, somebody had a point.
So haikus. I write them in strings. Sometimes they're really beautiful, sometimes they're funny, sometimes not so much. The thing is, the only rule I follow is the 5 - 7 - 5 rule. I don't really give a damn about the rules of aesthetics to which I am not culturally bound and even if I were so culturally bound I would get the hell out of that box anyway. I happen to like the 5 - 7 - 5 rule though. It forces a particular type of thought.
Don't be so bothered by the dark. I'm not.
Ice shoots staccato
Cracking through the anthracite
Be still; send it back.
Panic is pointless
There is always a blood price
So breathe your own air.
On over sharing:
Pull your hands back but also
Away from your face.
And lighten up a little
We are Indians.
Notes from the dark side
Clearing cache on not my time
Publish or Perish.
the drama of it all.
This is, by the way, a truly beautiful song. It's The Chieftains, a recording of a youth choir from Dublin and The Low Anthem. I was with SM earlier this year in Stamford and this just blew me away. This isn't the recording from The Palace Theater but it'll do.
My friend OKJimm gave me this song a long time ago when I was just an absolute disaster and didn’t think I was going to be able to stand up again and keep walking (I’ve had a lot of those so it really shouldn’t be all that big a deal but every time it happens it does indeed feel like the end of the world when it’s happening and sometimes, for you John Irving fans, we have to remind ourselves to keep passing those open windows). So this weekend he posted it for another friend on FB and I saw it in my feed and instantly teared up because I sure did need it (not nearly so bad as the time he actually gave it to me but I sure did need it on a Saturday night).
Sometimes everything you think can go wrong does go wrong and you’re pretty sure you’re on your knees and you fall forward and bang nose first into the pavement because you’re not fast enough to get your hands out in front of you to break the fall because sometimes life comes at you just a little too fast just a little too incessantly and that’s just the way it is. I’m telling you, sometimes the shit just does not let up.
A note on that. My life could be one hell of a lot worse. I could be uninsured, unemployed, unfed, homeless, dodging bombs, avoiding (or not) genocide, searching for missing children and a whole lot worse – I *am* keeping things in perspective – more or less - but shit is still shit.
Almost exactly 6 years ago Asshat’s (Imma gonna call him that today) 4Runner was slammed into a Subaru via a 5 series BMW which vaporized the BMW’s front end (yes, you read that right, vape-oh-rized) but left the passenger compartment completely intact) and literally buckled the truck frame on the 4Runner. The Subaru isn’t relevant to this story. We had to replace the 4Runner 6 years ago this month and I really thought we were going to end up with another 4Runner or something like that but somehow we ended up with a 2004 6 speed X3 with only 13,000 miles off lease. I’m going to say it had only 13,000 miles on it because whoever took this damn thing home found out just how hard it is to drive a high performance vehicle when you actually have to navigate the gears AND the vehicle and garaged the damn thing. Mostly. That’s my theory anyway. So we took this thing home, me sorta kinda mostly embarrassed even if it was a whole lot of fun to drive and I kept driving my Mazda 6 until the day poor Cletus wrapped it around a tree and the rest of how I ended up with the X3 isn’t worth talking about right now *except* that it was a bad idea and I think in the last 5 years I’ve probably dumped close to 15k in maintenance, never mind the four years of car payments I stuck myself with in my pre-divorce idiocy (yes, I love you, I’ll give you whatever you want – I KNOW that’s disgusting, but in the interest of full disclosure…).
So. I just needed to get this damn thing to February. That was the plan. Get it to February, sell it for something at least, take bonus dollars and buy something with better gas mileage, cheaper maintenance and quite honestly most things are going to be more durable than this thing has turned out to be. Also, I’m hard on cars. I drive them a lot. That’s just the current truth and I need to face it. So the registration on this thing expires on 11/26 and I need it to pass emissions and I take it to my friend Timmy who HAS been telling me to dump this piece of crap and STOP sinking money into it and on Friday I get THAT call.
Dump the car. Now. I can’t take blood money from you. We changed the oil and replaced the headlight bulb but that’s it. Take it to a dealership on Saturday and get yourself something off lease. Do it right now. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Do not stop to think because here is what’s going to happen to you if you don’t. There was a litany of things that started with $1,100 for brakes (this isn’t even starting with what has to be done to get it to pass emissions) and ending with what is probably going to have to be done to get it through February which sounds like close to 6k. I can’t get more than 4k for it given the body work it would need to have done AND what he just listed off. He isn’t messing with me. This is Timmy.
I stopped breathing.
I started crying.
I’ve known Timmy since I was sixteen. Big guy. Picked me up the way big guys pick up little girls (I guess he’s got one or two years on me tops) and I said put me down. He said make me. I reached out and pulled his ears. He dropped me and cried. We were inseparable. I had a home in his garage. I’m pretty sure I already told this story.
Timmy said: (very gently but very firmly) Now is not when we cry, now is when we plan.
That’s the truth, actually. As it turns out.
Clear your head and keep going. You can fall apart when it’s over.
But really. What the fuck? I was NOT prepared to buy another vehicle right now. Seriously not prepared. There was NO air in my lungs. I’m still in the middle of the close. Things have been extra harsh around here. I’ve been running on empty for awhile and really, it is almost over but almost and actually over are two different things. We’re not there yet. NM was smarter than me. I thought about dancing in the city on Saturday, he said it might be a good idea if I just rested. This was before I knew I was going to have to shop for and actually acquire a car in one day. That turned out to be a cluster in the end but sometimes these things do (turn out to be a cluster in the end).
So here’s the thing; without going into details because the details aren’t particularly important to the point (and I could write pages about how I feel about buying cars); my experience of the weekend (one freaking thing after another) was so awful that when I walked into my Monday staff meeting and my boss was at his breaking point - that makes for a rugged meeting (shit flowing downhill and all that) - I sat in that room and looked over at my two year peer (not the lovely third wheel) and made sympathetic faces at him. We both wanted to cry but I was damn happy to be there.
I feel really sick. I’ve had a migraine for days.
I’m remembering the day Florkow showed up early in the morning at my doorstep when the shit had REALLY hit the fan and she sat with me and she looked at me and she said
Alecto, it doesn’t have to be like this.
She and I go way the hell back. We bonded over the single mother business. Over having to do it alone. Over, what did you say, Florkow? I do it because if I *don’t* do it, who the hell *is* going to do it?
Now is not when we cry. Now is when we plan.
It doesn’t have to be like this.
I do it because it is mine to do.
OKJimm, I don’t need this as much as I needed it the first time but it sure was sweet to hear it again and I still cried anyway. It is good to cry.
And it's good not to be alone.
(I don't have car in hand yet, by the way. I'm holding my breath at the moment. I'll let you know when it's all sorted out. And I WILL sort it out. This I know.)
That North is up and South is down
West is my left hand
East is the hand that can always wear rings
Without being questioned
Rises in the East
Sets in the West.
In this hemisphere.
And assuming that I am facing
Raspberry Lemon Pioneer Valley
lies in the foothills of Monday morning
And the heavy gold ring
From Ireland tells me
I’m driving in the direction of home
Otherwise, I recognize
I have become temporarily unmoored
By the nine carat needle
Pointing 90 degrees
To the left of North
(Not every 26 days
Rushes to my head
I am left hanging
By the feet of my own
I like that picture. No one has ever photographed my feet that I'm aware of. At least not intentionally. I do remember looking down at my partner's feet periodically, we danced a couple of times and since it was the middle of the day and there was lots of light I could see lots of things I had time to think about those shoes and wonder about them probably the same way people wonder about some things about me. I dance up on the balls of my feet. It's wrong, it doesn't work, it causes problems (I only know this because I'm told this). Whatever. If I keep remembering to bend my knees things will get better. For someone (it certainly helps me in some cases with some dancers). I guess it's all subjective. Anyway, the swing. I hadn't meant to be talking about The Swing but since I was noticing my feet I guess that's where I've landed. A lot of my posts end up that way; they have a mind of their own. I'll come back to this I think.
At a couple of New York dances and at the Dawn Dance up at Brattleboro as well where lots of people come from all over, I danced with a couple of young men, boys, really, who were really nervous by the time I got to them and if it was early enough in our 11 or 12 minutes together I could do something about it, if not, we just sort of rode it out and by rode it out, I mean rode out their discomfort, not mine.
Bouncy boys. There are bouncy girls too. And bouncy men and bouncy women and there are really all sorts of swings. In New England there is something called a classic or perfect New England Swing. It is apparently flawless (I have no idea what that means), smooth as glass and wonderful. I have no idea what that means. I don't have it whatever it is. It's only ever been an issue up at Greenfield and only in that I don't have it. Whatever it is. Anyway, you move on to other dances and the perfect swing is something else and I'll tell you, you're bound to be doing it wrong somewhere, somehow unless you're a bouncy boy or a bouncy girl or one of a few other offenses. Back to the bouncy boys since I'm on the subject. They're new, they start out happy and overly exuberant and they're doing their damn best just to end up in the right place at the right time. I consider it a bloody miracle if they manage to make eye contact because that's a new concept. If you aren't in New England, let's say you've migrated South into CT or NY, the eye contact thing isn't always so hard, comes a little more naturally (no joke, this is the truth). So the bouncy boys, somewhere along the line run into me or some other woman and invariably apologize for being too bouncy and I say, 'what?' and he says 'she told me I was too bouncy.' And I don't ask who I just say, 'you're perfectly fine' and I say this because I know perfectly well his swing is going to even out eventually and he's going to relax and become, most likely a really beautiful dancer sooner rather than later especially if he isn't scared. He will have some quirks, they all seem to have some quirks and that's part of what makes them wonderful. You never do know what you're going to get. Some people hate this shit. Well, I guess that's why it's called improv. Maybe, partly, I don't know for sure. So, some of them stay a little bouncy, some of them drop down low, some stay up high, you adjust to who and how and what they are and I notice they also adjust to me. I like that, it makes it a lot easier to just dance and nobody gets all uptight. Gosh, I must have been to Brooklyn lately. :-)
So here is why I feel so awful for the bouncy boys. Because periodically I will finish a dance with a partner and he will look at me and say, beautiful swing, thank you. And I will nearly fall over in shock and want to ask him, to whom are you speaking? Your last partner? Because you certainly cannot be speaking to me. I don't say that. I just look at him, smile sweetly and move onto the next partner in a state of nervousness that causes me to walk my swings because suddenly I'm absolutely positive I'm going to eff something up. For sure. This only happens North. I'm so neurotic. Anyway, this is what enough negative feedback, fed back in a not so nice way can get you. NERVOUS.
I'm looking at the balls of my feet and I'm remembering two things. First, I was really happy, and second, my feet were sticking to that floor which made it difficult but I didn't want to stop and put my shoes on. Barefoot just seemed better. When I dance like nobody's looking I feel wonderful and when I dance like nobody who matters is looking, then dancing with NM is like flying. I'm still working on that.
Back to my feet.
Today I hit a wall. No, that's not true. Yesterday I hit a wall or maybe it was the day before or the day before that. It's hard to say because I can hit a wall pretty hard and keep walking or at least give a damn good impression that I'm still walking but my critical thinking goes right in the toilet and emotionally I'm complete wreckage. I do my best to stop talking or talk less because I have no idea what's going to come out of my mouth. Tears would be best but tears in a work environment aren't forwarding. My head hurts. Just a little and at the periphery but it does hurt.
Yesterday I sat down in front of my computer a little after 8 when Elizabeth got picked up for dance and I started working. I had server trouble and report trouble and had to do things manually and then there was some bad data and things that should have been resolved easily became nightmares. It was like trudging through quicksand with a bottom. I was only in 4 feet but moving through it wasn't going so well. The sound of the cat purring loudly was too much to bear. I asked Cletus to make him leave because Mommy was going to lose her shit. Cletus took the cat and went to her room. Elizabeth let too.
No! Not you two! I like that you two are in here, it's helping me. Besides, the damn cat came back and he's still making that infernal noise.
She came back, Elizabeth in tow. This was helping with the isolation. NM is gone for the weekend. I miss him when I hit a wall. He's helpful but not necessary. At 11 PM last night I realized I'd been making it unnecessarily difficult on myself and really dragging the process out for my counterpart and I think that's when my brain stopped working entirely. I didn't even have it in me to cry. See, I'd been getting these messages on the server that the drive was out of space but it wasn't. It took me awhile to realize it was a different drive, a drive that receives files and that something else was going on and it was probably interfering with my shit and oh, FML. Really. I stopped. I wanted a shower, my toothbrush and my boyfriend probably in that order. I could have the first two no problem. There was a 2 % chance I'd get the third so I left the lights on and went to bed. After the shower and the toothbrush. I'm thinking breaking out the tragic halloween candy at 9ish wasn't such a good idea. The girls fed me a microwaved burrito to offset the sugar. Starburst candycorn. OK in theory. In theory.
I have until tomorrow to get my insurance and FSA elections complete. I have until Tuesday night to get my annual self-evaluation completed. I'm feeling demoralized at the moment. Not the best time to write one of those.
I'm looking back up there at my feet. Those are happy feet. If I can just hang on to that, let go of the fact that I'm dancing up on the balls of my feet which is bad and hang on to the fact that they're happy feet I'll probably be OK.
I'm thinking about this. I have always danced on the balls of my feet. Always. Even when I was very small. I remember this. I think it's about flying. I think it's about joy. I think it's about spinning around the room with my arms out or in and then in great fields catching the wind with my eyes open or shut looking up at the sky or just feeling the world. Dancing on the balls of your feet is a spring board (oops, bouncy dancer) for flight, it's the launch into the leap, the spin, the pirouette or sometimes just that jump as high as I can to meet Jumping George in the air which is the balance to his swing.
I'm wondering what it would be like to be met on the balls of my feet? Metaphorically or otherwise?
This is silly, I'm just sad today.
I'm working on not being on the balls of my feet. I'm working on sliding left and right, back and front, bending my knees and staying DOWN. A pivot that is down is just plain odd but OK, I can do this.
God. What a mess. It will all be over soon. I am happy that I got to write. This is helpful. I did not get to dance this week. I will not see my home dance next month either. That is also making me very sad.
Crap. Step left, Alecto. It's going to be OK.
I'm looking up at my feet.
This is an angry post. This is a frustrated post. This is a defensive post. This is a sad post. This is a post with a world of hurt under the surface. No one should take this post personally. That sort of shit really bugs me. I don't have the energy to tread lightly today.
This is a human post.
This is also a memorial for a dog.
It didn't start out well; Mondays almost never do other than this week I didn't have to get up at 5:30 and drive 3 hours in some of the most horrific traffic ever to get to work which is what the Tech Corridor in Fairfield County has become according to the people who tell us about traffic patterns in the US. THAT I truly appreciated. It got the day off to a pretty good start given the circumstances. There's no point mentioning tired because that's a given state of being (I'm working on working on that, I'm just not sure what it looks like but I think it has something to do with perception. I think.) and I'm not sure there's any point mentioning defensive because that's been there at least close to 27 years but sometimes it's closer to the surface than other times. On Sunday it was a blind rage.
I almost don't want to go into this because it's not the point of the post but if I don't at least offer some explanation I'll be leaving a mac truck swallowing hole in the middle of an eight lane highway. I hear that's distracting.
Child rearing. We're a self-righteous bunch. It's like effing religion around here. My way or the highway and the rest of you are going to hell if you're not doing it my way or at least you're going to eff up your kids beyond belief and I watch as every single sub-species (myself included) collects evidence like Fundamentalist Christians proving the point. At least the Jews and the Mormons to some extent (after their year on walk about) quietly turn away and get back to it. Anyway, Child Rearing. You've got your Radical Unschoolers, your Home Schoolers, your Helicopter Parents, your School of Benign Neglect, your Raised by Nannies, your Daycare by 6 Weeks Because We Must, your Daycare by 6 Weeks at Choice, your Dad at Home, your Mom at Home, your Community Raised (really, that's a Thing), your Part Time, Flex Time Uber Involved Mom and a whole lot more. EVERYBODY has an opinion and like my first accountant was fond of saying, like assholes and they all stink. I can't remember the context exactly but it had something to do with self righteousness blah blah blah.
I'm defensive about choosing to work. I didn't always have to. Hell, I don't have to do what I'm doing now and I could unmake the choices I've made and our lives could look very different. I could also stretch myself a little thinner, eliminate some personal things from my life (I hear, based on the current child psychologists it's the right and apparently only thing to do and if I don't make these choices I'm damaging my daughter for life... blah blah blah) and give Elizabeth a lot more attention (before she becomes an axe murderer or worse, doesn't reach her full potential).
Do you see where I'm going here? I'm not actually making this shit up. Seriously. I am not.
And I have my own judgments. I do. I just try to keep them mostly to myself and I do try to consider the possibility that there are as many ways to raise children as there are possible religions and political beliefs. I'm defensive and angry and apparently enraged. Who knew?
So I wasn't having a good night and I fight to keep my home in a state of equilibrium. Sometimes I want to scream but, like crying sometimes I'm pretty sure I'd never stop. Yes, there are a million articles written out there proving that I'm doing it wrong just like there are a million (OK, not a million, probably a select few but they're in my face or the existence of them is in my face) articles proving that my bi-polar II is crap and so is Cielo's Fibromyalgia.
Fuck off. All of you. For both of us. I'm not giving up my meds and neither is she. I just wish hers worked as well as mine do. It sucks watching her cry pretty consistently. Until you're literally sitting in our bodies and minds experiencing what we're experiencing, please back yourselves off a short cliff. Slowly. We love you, we really do. But...
Anyway, I can't always control what happens in the sanctity of my own home (can any of us? REALLY?!) and this is absolutely my own fault. I don't communicate well enough. I don't have the bandwidth to train my dog the way she ought to be trained. I run out of energy fighting the members of my own household (THANK YOU, CLETUS FOR THE PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR THAT CLEARLY COMES FROM MY BAD PARENTING WHICH IS WHY YOU LET THE DOG ON THE COUCH WHERE SHE DOESN'T BELONG AND I HAVE TO UNDO THE INCH SHE GOT AND THE MILE SHE'S TAKING. Thank you.) and that damn dog whisperer has raised the peta people to new levels of frenzy.
The dog is not a person. We'll start there. Not even an extended member of the household until she's earned it. The dog, however, deserves kindness and to be protected from herself.
I'm judged just as harshly by the school of thought that says, give her what she wants even though she pushes the envelope as I am by the people who say, she should respond obediently to the snap of your fingers by the time she's two and you're a bad dog owner since you've failed that (THANK YOU, NUMBAH ONE SON FOR YOUR SCATHING JUDGMENT OF MY LACK OF DOG SKILZ. YOUR JUDGMENT AND YOUR WILLINGNESS TO SPEAK TO ME IN THAT PSEUDO TONE IS CLEARLY A RESULT OF MY BAD PARENTING AND THE FACT THAT YOU WENT TO DAY CARE AT 6 WEEKS).
Yes, I am an abject failure as a mother, employee (I left work at 6 to fulfill my car pool duties and I wasn't done yet - 10 hours wasn't enough yesterday), and a REALLY bad dog owner.
So I got home in a state of exhaustion, mostly emotional, dropped the groceries in the kitchen, please understand it was 8 PM and I had 30 minutes to make dinner and another 30 to spend with my girl... walked into my bedroom and found a lake in the middle of my bed. I stripped back the down comforter, quilt, bed spread, sheets and mattress pad and was once again thankful for keeping the waterproof pad because of the once upon a time cat who used to get mad and pee on my feet in the middle of the night.
I started crying. I'm the coldest person in the household. I had Elizabeth take the blanket off the guest bed and the wool blanket off Cletus's bed and it still wasn't going to be enough without the mattress pad and one more but I don't have one more. Elizabeth offered up one of hers. I cried a little harder.
Terriers are about as vindictive as they come. They have a way of saying fuck you that no other breed I've ever worked with can match. They don't recognize human as alpha. It's an amazing thing. It takes about 5 years before they grow up and I haven't spent the time I should be spending. The best I've been able to do is keep her from getting herself in trouble. I also realized she's crossed the line and gotten up on my bed (never mind emptying her bladder). She knows better about the bed. That ends her out of the crate period for quite awhile. Give a terrier an inch, especially a ratter, once removed from a Jack Russell and they will take about ten miles in the negotiation for dominance. Had I known I wasn't going to need a rat catcher after all, I would never have done this.
I have never been able to make a non-pet dog person understand this.
OK, Jules, here it comes.
I chose to raise and train a farm dog in a suburban neighborhood. His job was to protect the livestock and the family at all cost. At one point he went after a small child, a four year old. I'm not entirely sure why but the theory is that he was teased by the neighborhood kids as they passed our front yard and he was loose behind the invisible fence. The four year old was the son of friends coming to a dinner party. We opened the door and Simon was in the kid's face, no hackles, no growling, but aggressively in his face. The kid turned and ran. Simon chased. The kid became prey. Simon, unfortunately was collarless because he had a hotspot. I screamed for Numbah One Son to help me as I ran after my dog and eventually tackled all 220 pounds of him with my 130. I laid on top of him sobbing. The four year old's father scooped up his son and praised him for running. I glared up and bit my tongue. Wrong move, buddy. I built a fence and locked Simon away from people forever. Simon became less socialized and more aggressive.
Last October Nomans in fit of guilt or to prove me wrong came to the house bringing contractors who came in and out of the house. On the first day only Nomans was in the house and Simon couldn't figure out whether he should eat Nomans or not so Simon lost his mind and covered the floor in St. Bernard slobber and fur. When I got home that night I found a 220 pound dog shivering on the floor of my bedroom and every floor on the upper level crusted with dog fur glued down with slobber. I called Nomans and asked what happened. Nothing. He was happy to see me. How do you know this? He greeted me. Where was his head? Where was his tail? Did he bark? Where did he stand when he greeted you? Did he come forward, did he back away?
(I was wrong. It was in August.)
I don't remember.
I was home when Simon went over the coffee table in one solid leap (it's a big table) toward the large living room window at the contractor on the ladder climbing up to the roof. I used the voice. He stopped in his tracks and the 2x4 slammed me against the wall.
Elizabeth does not have the voice.
I can't stay home for a month to protect the contractors.
I can't lock him in the garage; they'll be working there.
I can't lock him in my bedroom; they'll be climbing past my windows.
They will walk into the house. Someone will knock on the door. Elizabeth will open it.
I have a time bomb.
I have a choice. I called the vet in tears and I believe I took him in that afternoon. I had a few hours and a lot of photographs. He got in the dreaded car with me willingly because he would have followed me into the pits of hell.
It's one of the hardest things I've ever had to do in my life and his food and water bowls are still in the up tray in the back corner of the kitchen one year later with his leash and his St. Simon Collar.
Some things I cannot control. In some cases I have made egregious errors and terrible choices. In some cases I've ended up with temperaments that just didn't work.
But mostly I'm just plain enraged at a judgmental world that has decided it's OK to inflict it's beliefs past personal boundaries. A 220 pound St. Bernard IS NOT A PLUSH TOY! A 16 pound Rat Terrier who screams like a cut pig when she doesn't get what she wants is a problem child and we don't give problem children ice cream when they're screaming. Ever. There are a whole lot of other things we can do but that isn't one of them.
I'm responsible for that too for failing to communicate appropriately.
I had a very bad day yesterday. I cranked the heat in the house and slept in sweats. I was perfectly OK. I cried myself to sleep and woke up in one piece.
I made dinner because I had to make dinner. Elizabeth offered. It's just another way to be together.
Oh, this is lovely (I mean this). She couldn't find her stitch kit and had to sew back a ribbon on a pointe shoe. She said,
It's ok. Adapt or perish, Mom. I have dental floss and the large needle. I'm fine. And she took care of her shoe while I cut up vegetables, put together a plum sauce, marinated chicken and then stir fried the whole thing. Dinner was really nice.
That was disjointed. I got it out though and I think I'm OK now.
The thing about the Big Dog you should know. If they'd killed him the hard way it would have been brutal and awful and just unimaginable. As it was it took forever for him to die. Elizabeth and I laid on the floor with him for nearly an hour waiting for it to work. We held him. I held him. In my arms until he was gone. I don't know how many years it's going to take before I stop crying.
I failed my dog. My dog never once failed me.
So now you know.
Lastly, shut up world. Each and every one of you snivel and whine too. I've heard you. I've sympathized with you but for my lack of compassion, because it has happened, I truly apologize. I'm sorry, you didn't deserve it.
I like this narrow crop. I was trying to get the rest of the class out of the larger really beautiful heart stopping photograph and I thought I was going to hate it but I don't, as it turns out. NM spent an entire Saturday class a few weeks ago trying to come up with maybe a handful of those elusive perfect shots. This won't be one of them, there are goofy kids in the background. Unless, of course, it turns out goofy kids hanging off the barre in the background are ok. Elizabeth's car pool buddy is cropped out on the left which is a shame because they are perfect together. Anyway, here she is five weeks in, doing center work.
It hadn't occurred to me that we were only five weeks in until Ballet Mistress said we were only five weeks in as I handed her the second tuition check 10 days early (because there's no point waiting since it's coming out of this pay period anyway).
How can we only be five weeks in? This is forever, I know this has been going on forever which means we've acclimated. On the way home my girls are talking about food, dinner specifically and Elizabeth is unhappy because her friend has dinner waiting for her when she walks in the door and this is something Elizabeth is still wrapping her head around. Elizabeth, we are in this together, you and me. Just you and me and I'm picking you up on my way home FROM work and I stopped at Mrs. Greens and picked up dinner for the next two nights, maybe three depending on how much we eat plus that zucchini bread you like and I'm sorry, but the vegan cornbread (gag) you love so much was gone already. I pulled a perfect u-turn in the middle of four lanes of suddenly no traffic because I realized I wanted a bottle of wine in the house and I'd been too sick the night before to notice there wasn't any. Be thankful I've stopped feeding you frozen mac & cheese. Look! Fresh mac & cheese! And there appears to be something greenish sprinkled on top. We're going to call that a vegetable and you're going to eat a salad for lunch tomorrow and I can look online and check up on you... don't think I won't (you all know I'm not going to do that, right? you also all know I live in a town with a school system where that information is readily available to me online beginning at 2:30 every day because she uses a preloaded debit account to buy her lunch, right?).
Where was I? Five weeks in and I remember my last ob/gyn with something like five kids of her own saying something about the brain cells going out with the placenta and I've been thinking about this for 13 years now and is this a sexist statement or is it not a sexist statement and I guess not if you operate under the assumption that the birth mother is the primary caregiver / organizer regardless of other obligations. I see what she meant; they didn't LITERALLY go out with all that tissue. It wasn't a blond joke. I should have known better. She wasn't a blond joke sort of woman.
Elizabeth creates a life event in her Facebook account and shares it on my wall. I think about this for awhile but I don't bother asking for clarification because I am arrogant and I think I know my daughter.
(all you parents out there who just nodded your heads smugly, just you wait and all you parents out there who just nodded your heads knowingly, jeeze, it's hard to let go of that sometimes, isn't it?)
Instead I discuss it with NM and it turns out I'm more or less clueless.
She has forgotten that I ever had a garden. I remind her and she says, oh yeah, and I helped you a lot out there, didn't I? Yes, sweetie, you did. And that was just two years ago... ah.
One guest instructor called her Turnish not understanding her name. She was mortally offended. They are still discussing this atrocity in whispers in the back seat on the way home. He is one of the primary company members at the school where they rent space. Whatever, she has a hard name I guess, if you aren't paying attention, or really listening or English isn't your first language and her name isn't exactly common or native English anyway. So everybody lighten the hell up. Turnish. Interesting. Black Swan. No, you may not watch that movie. It gave your sister AND your father nightmares.
Two years is the period of time she took off between the first several years of ballet and starting up again. Two years is the period of time between the restart and the real start.
I'm not clear about the insurance. She hasn't mentioned it but she surely knows the cost in terms of the effect it has on the household. One ballet mom said to me last night while waiting for the doors to open and the girls to pour out (this is the one other working mom with an 8 - 6 or later job - a widow raising her last daughter alone), 'what I need right now is a bushel of 50s. I'm a good girl. I don't over spend but my GOD, it just seems to vanish into thin air these days.' We talked about the girls understanding, really understanding making choices for the first time in their lives. Elizabeth has had to take a hard look at money in the last four years, almost five now, since our lives changed but she's never really had to make personal choices. It's a huge privilege, I remind her when she goes to upset, to have this sort of choice at all. She wants new school clothes. To be fair, she really hasn't had new school clothes at all this year. Again, I remind her, a privilege even though it's a privilege she's had her entire life. Still. Think it through anyway.
But please, can I at least have a new pair of jeans?
No. You may not have a new pair of jeans because I think you're about to need a new pair of pointe shoes and your shoes happen to cost $93.
She screws up her face and mouths 'shit'. Not that a new pair of jeans cost $93; I'm just saying, there are choices. The truth is, she can have a new pair of jeans, she can have two, she just isn't going to get them until the beginning of next month because I don't have another tuition payment until February and this is how it works.
The abject silliness of that Facebook post is in direct juxtaposition to what I see in the slender, cropped portrait of a dancer who is entirely present in one focused, pin-point moment.
That face is epic.
It's a shame there aren't more photographs but I don't suppose I need to spam you or even myself with the evidence but something fairly profound rammed a telephone pole into my solar plexis this weekend leaving me breathless, speechless and momentarily lost in that horrifying white space of self-doubt with that nasty layer of old patina (half scraped up or otherwise) of self-loathing. Or maybe it was just a Gestalt moment. I'm not sure it matters.
I've had this conversation at least 50 times. That's without exaggeration so maybe it's closer to 100 but it feels like a bazillion. LADIES! Do not wait to be asked. For anything. Ever. If you wait to be asked you have given up at least half your power and you are at the mercy of the asker or the pool of men. You immediately put yourself into the pool of other women, people, fish and ask the world to judge you based on whatever criterion du jour the fickle old world happens to feel like utilizing in the moment.
So. Do not wait to be asked. For anything. Same thing goes for men too but I'm speaking to the ladies in the house because I've heard enough bitching and whining to last a lifetime.
Also, it's OK to be selective but...
NM said something this weekend that sort of blew my tiny little mind out a bit - this conversation I think I've had about a bazillion times; he said that while I may not be alone in my willingness to ask men to dance (think of this asking men to dance as a metaphor in your life) that he didn't really see women do it quite the way I do it. How so? What do you mean? What other way to do it is there then the way I do it?
Well, you stand there and you look around and you see a man and you walk right up to him, look him in the eye and hold your hand out. Women don't do that. They're far more subtle.
Well how the hell do you get your point across then? Seems a little coy if you ask me. I don't much care for coy unless you're honestly flirting and then that's cool. Otherwise, coy is a hide out and AGAIN, you've swept your power under a rug.
I actually do more if I need to. I reach out and touch if I haven't managed to make actual eye contact fast enough. Not a lot of touch, just a light touch on the sleeve or shoulder as they're moving away. I'm daring some guy to tell me this isn't OK or somebody to say it's not OK but you know what? I've been touched lightly on the back of my arm more times than I can think of as I walk away by men running to catch up with me and I say that's perfectly OK. (that was me speaking to the politically correct).
The other night at a 9 hour dance I did something I haven't done before. I had a lot of reasons for doing this and I think by the time I got to this place I probably wasn't in very good shape emotionally (I got better) and so I was standing there after a dance ended and instead of looking around for a partner (you need to do this quick because you have to get lined up for the next dance) I closed my eyes and held out both arms, hands palms up. Technically I'm a 'girl' and girls are supposed to have their palms down so their hands can be 'taken' (fuck that shit) and palms up means you're offering your hand to a lady (goes way the hell back) and this actually signifies which role you're dancing but I think a discussion is a better way to resolve that question. Anyway, I don't do the palm down thing until hands four (that will make sense to all of three of you) and then it's a logistical issue and sometimes just plain playful). Sorry.
Standing there in the dark with my arms out, palms up, eyes shut and two people held my hands almost right away and almost at the same time.
I opened my eyes and picked. That was just a test. Or something. Bottom line is I still got to choose. It might have ended badly or not the way I might have liked. I might have had two people I'd rather not dance with and then I would have just sucked it up. There was only one man at that dance I found absolutely objectionable and only a six or seven I'd rather avoid for perfectly harmless reasons.
Back to what NM said. He's absolutely right. I don't waste time. Ever. I walk into the center and I. Find. A. Partner. Sometimes I'm a little delayed or there might be an issue and I have to work my ass off (I can count the number of times that's happened on both hands but I don't need my feet and some of the best partners have come out of that sort of scramble strangely enough) to find a partner. NM said, you're not picky, you'll take whatever's there. I stopped when I heard that. I don't know if I said this to him or not. It would have depended when during the weekend the conversation happened. But here's the thing. I don't just grab the first guy I see. I turn away quickly in a lot of cases because there is a whole genre of dancer I don't care to dance with anymore and it's NOT the new dancer and it's NOT the perpetually new dancer (the guy who's always going to be lost, confused, not where he's supposed to be but generally happy to be there or I can get him that way by smiling). It's the established dancer who's happy to dance with me, will generally seek me out but won't do much with me for multiple reasons. If they can't or just don't, then I'm OK with it. If they're genuinely dumbing the dance down because they've decided I can't do it perfectly then I'm not going to learn anything and quite honestly, I don't want to dance there. That's judgement and I *am* guilty. I have been found wanting and turned around and pre-emptively rejected. I'm simply not going to dance in that space anymore. It makes me unhappy. I don't actually suck and there's literally no joy in it when that happens. Also, I have options. This is kind of like finding out there was dancing in New York and MA and that Glen Echo is really only 5 hours away (not that his is viable on a regular basis) and plenty of dance weekends and I do not *have* to dance in CT if CT is going to be one of those partners I'd really rather not dance with.
I don't mean to sound like a snob because mostly I'm not. Let me reiterate: I love dancing with new dancers. I love dancing with perpetual beginners mostly because they love what they're doing and they *do* actually get better with time, it just takes them more time, sometimes a lot more time than most people to teach their bodies what to do and where to be and how to hear. Have patience. I'm one of those dancers. I totally get it. I've always been one of those dancers. I spent a lot of hours in a room by myself as a kid practicing, practicing, practicing until my feet, arms, body understood what some girls just got immediately.
Here's what kills me dead, more than a partner who dumbs it down: an energy suck. That's the partner who wishes he hadn't gotten stuck with me and no matter how much I smile at him he wishes he was somewhere else. I can see his energy come back up across the line with his neighbor and I can feel it plummet when I come back into his arms. I will do absolutely anything to avoid that. I will say no and not feel bad about not sitting that dance out (and wonder why I'm being asked again, maybe you forgot you hated dancing with me or you just can't do better this dance?) And if I ask you once and you tell me no without a polite, I'm already booked or I'm sitting it out, I will never ask you again.
There. Those are my own personal guidelines. This is what has morphed in my head in the last year and it really has been just about exactly one year since I walked into that big dance up north with SM who told me I could do anything if I just kept at it (in not so many words; he's just willing to look like a complete ass out there with me until I get it right and he's unbelievably patient).
What I do now is gravitate toward the middle ground. If I just came out of the line with you as a relatively recent neighbor and you played with me I'm going to head straight at you. If you challenged me and I pulled it off reasonably well then I want to dance with you again. If you challenged me, it went wrong and you laughed and apologized for maybe not giving me a strong enough lead (maybe I really didn't understand what you wanted), I'm coming back for more. Maybe you just had a really nice smile and laughed right back with me.
I had a really hard time at one point during the nine hours at Sunday's dance. I was emotional wreckage briefly. I had no idea what to do with myself other than go back out and dance. My knees were shot. Oh what the fuck...
It worked. I headed straight toward the light and stayed there.
There isn't a single picture of me in that entire 9 hours. I don't think I've ever gone to a dance that wasn't a small regional dance and come out without at least something but there's nothing from this weekend so I can't show you anything but the past. You'll have to take my word for it.
Here is what I know. When I am playing and happy and free, when *I* choose, what I get is that spinning bliss on the top. In everything that follows I have asked consciously because I wanted to play, to be challenged or challenge and I don't believe I questioned myself at any point in the dance and I know damn well in at least one of these it was late enough in the evening my brain had already exited the building and I screwed up a lot. Good thing I wasn't dancing with a barking partner. I just love it when they look at you and say: THAT was your fault.
This one was sitting on the stage toward the end of the evening. I'd spent too much time talking to NM between dances and was scrambling to find a partner because I really, really, really wanted to dance. The Man in the Orange Shirt (is that like The Man in the Yellow Hat?) said he was too tired. I gave him one of my shit eating grins and said I was really tired too but it would be a great dance, honest. He got off the stage and we got in line. We actually made a few mistakes. I had to be pushed into place a couple of times. Maybe more than a couple of times. I remember starting to laugh and not being able to stop. I remember being in a very long wavy line and balancing right and balancing left and smiling until I was about to cry and having those smiles met. Does he look like he's not having a good time? He kept telling me his brain was in the parking lot but he never stopped smiling, at least when we were swinging. It won't always be this way, but this is what I look for in a partner and where I channel my energy.
Best dancer by a landslide at a small regional Southern dance. I'm fairly certain I marched over and got him. If you're talking to a dance snob, he doesn't belong there. According to him, it's his dance and he just needs to figure out how to teach more dancers to attract more dancers. I learned A LOT that night. I was ecstatic. Of all the places I've ever danced (not that there have been that many but there have been a few), I couldn't have picked a better place to take Cielo to introduce Contra. She's 90 minutes from that dance. And That Man. Cielo is going to drive 90 minutes to dance with That Man (that really is what we call him because we don't know his name) and learn to dance because he won't be above teaching her. Also, he's, well, he's That Man.
Montpelier back in March. I was still facing a lot of rejection in the room and part of that had to do with hesitation on my face when I asked somebody to dance and had already decided I wasn't worthy. By the time I asked this guy to dance, I know that look was on my face AND I was really tired. So it took us awhile to work it out, this space between us that came only after two thirds of the dance was over and it didn't so much as snap into place as slide gradually and what I learned was that some people aren't really Contra dancers, they're something else entirely and they've brought it into the room and inserted it into the dance. Relax and go with it and ohmygod that's so good. I don't know what it was but ohmygod that's so good. In other words, let go of what you know. I learned a lot this weekend. My knees still hurt but I learned plenty.
I danced with this man at my first Contra dance. So did Elizabeth. That was second Saturday in July, 2011. He held me close just like that. Maybe that looks inappropriate and maybe with some other guy it might have been but it wasn't and isn't the way he does it. Now when he does it with his girlfriend there's some other sort of energy... :-) and he surely does not dance that way with Elizabeth, however... He's largely responsible for getting the two of us over the initial hump and I had a very hard time. I was scared to death. Later he was responsible for teaching us to play and I noticed he played with us almost exactly the same way. Elizabeth is closer to the ground, weighs a lot less and is easier and a lot more willing to try anything if she trusts you. He'd work something out with her, show me and then say, your turn. Sometimes I'd spin out of control and sometimes I wouldn't. Sometimes it would take a lot of practice before I got it right. I never crashed into anybody. He was a good teacher. He still is.
And finally there is SM. I don't have any pictures of SM and I dancing together and that is a shame. We'll have to do something about that. Until I met NM, if you could say I had a dance partner it would have been SM. SM didn't teach me that I could choose, he just reminded me that I could do. The big dance in the North and the smaller dances in NY taught me that I have choices.
All of this has reminded me that I don't have to or more accurately *should not* put myself in anyone else's hands in terms of judgement and choice. I get to go because I say so and then I get to decide where and when and with whom I go.
And as for my newest dance partners; well, it turns out they're anywhere from 19 to 60-something in the Village and I haven't really got any decent photographs just yet but if the guy with the bad knees keeps at it and the lion kid keeps doing his thing and that WOMAN is going to teach me stuff I hadn't even thought about... well what the hell and never mind not being particular or even wondering where my next partner might be coming from.
Many of us were lobotomized in the nursery but we have the capacity to fix that. But don't snivel. Never snivel. Well, OK, we're going to snivel but when you hear yourself, walk away and do something about it.
Walk in your own light. If you walked away from the last dance feeling like shit, dance with someone else next time. End of story. Don't brood on it.
(says the woman who spent four years digging out from the pit of despair of the last dance partner but perhaps I can be a terrible lesson if not a good example?)
Third week of January; that’s as early as we can get you in. I think it was the blond woman with the sort of almost big hair and the Pandora bracelet who will smile enough to light up her workspace if you’re very nice to her but otherwise she’s not so much abrupt as firmly matter of fact. I guess you’re going to be that way if you don’t know what you’re going to get from patient to patient especially in light of that one time when Cletus was in the waiting room and some kid went so batshit the police came in and she had to stay to be interviewed. Well *that* wasn’t pretty.
I don’t think I can make it 3 weeks. My husband has just walked out, I’m 8 months out of lockup, I’m pretty sure I need a major medication adjustment and I need a therapist as fast as possible. I have a
friend here with me who’s a patient and she says I need to come in now and I know she’s right and then I started crying.
Do you need to go to the hospital now?
No. I think I can make it but please, please can you find something in less than 3 weeks?
In the end I don’t think she could. I mean, maybe she did. I know she tried like hell and I know I made the phone call pretty quick with Florkow just about standing on top of me telling me, it doesn’t have to be this way and me shaking on the couch with the phone in one hand and trying to light a cigarette unsuccessfully with the other. I’d been smoke free for 2 years and 2 months and 2 weeks and some change and that was the end of that.
What I do know is when I finally walked into his office I was a mess. A damn, sorry mess. A just barely holding on my teeth and fingernails mess that should have put me back in the hospital but I’M NOT GOING IN THERE BECAUSE I’M AFRAID OF WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN TO MY KIDS… and when I sat
down in his office I saw…
Dr. A.F. who graduated from the University of Ceylon in 1966 and moved slowly and with great deliberation and gave a broad, open smile as honestly as smiles ought to be. There were two very large paintings in his office, mostly orange and red with some gold through the center and I guess you
might call it abstract but maybe this is more like someone’s dream that happens in the sun in the middle of the day. The chairs were soft and red and not squishy and you could sit forward in earnest conversation or lean all way back if you must.
This was not a therapy room.
I saw this doctor every three weeks for a long time. In retrospect it was just like when I was on suicide watch in the hospital and they looked at me every 15 minutes except in the very beginning when I was ALWAYS within somebody’s line of vision and then you have no privacy and I might have minded a little more than I did except I was such a disaster anyway *but* you know you’re a little irritated by it until suddenly it’s lifted and *then* you feel a little naked or ‘out there’ and you kind of wish somebody was still watching you a little more closely. Am I really ok? Guys? Are you sure about this? It’s not like you were actually feeling suicidal ever but if they were that worried to start with, maybe they should still be worried?
Every three weeks. Honestly, it was a pain in the ass plus I was talking to a therapist at 7 AM every Thursday and that was a pain in the ass but it had to happen and then I got to see him every three months and that part was scary but it made my life easier. It took 36 months before I got to go
on six month maintenance and then one time I had to go back on three month maintenance because I scared us both.
See the thing is, and Florkow was so SO right, you can’t pull anything past this guy. Even if you’re lying to yourself, he’s going to see it in about 30 seconds. It’s going to be affect, or your breathing or your tone or your body language or even the way you walk in the door and sit down that might be different from the last way six months ago. What is appropriate versus the bench mark he has worked up on you. And in the beginning he has only affect and breathing and body language and he has to probe a little but in the beginning I’m sitting on the edge of the chair sobbing with snot running down
my face and he’s just handed me the box of tissues anyway and is writing like crazy so that’s not too hard.
Sometimes I think I’m OK because I want to be OK but he asks a question differently and tears are running down my face and he just looks at me and I tell myself and then I tell him the truth and we talk about it a little more. My schedule and Elizabeth’s schedule alarmed the hell out of him.
He probed me like a freaking alien yesterday until he was satisfied and he recorded, right in front of me, his notes about how I was and that’s how I know exactly what he’s looking for. Finally. Why is he letting me know this?
Now I have to tell you something personal. Personal? Youdon’t tell me personal things because that’s not professional. I only knowyou’re from Sri Lanka because I looked you up and I know you take long
vacations and that’s culturally expected and I asked you some leading questions that I really didn’t expect you to answer much so I know you have family to visit. Personal?
So here it comes. If he graduated from the University of Ceylon in 1966 he is at least 26 years older than me unless he is very ambitious and skipped some years. Even so. Do the freaking math. He’s old. OK, old is subjective. He doesn’t look old. He doesn’t seem old. He should still be practicing. No doubts there. But I know he medical malpractice insurance has been climbing because I know how this works and in the back of my head I’ve been doing the math for a while now and wondering how much time I’ve got left with him. It’s not like my internist I tell myself. Bullshit, it’s almost worse. This guy is diagnosing, treating and prescribing in a field where people go batshit ballistic and blow shit, themselves and other people sideways and halfway into next week. Where things can go terribly, terribly wrong.
He has not retired, he has moved full time into the administration of the practice. It is true that the practice is too big for a part time administrator and I know what he’s like as an administrator because
there are 7 doctors and 22 therapists and I used to see one of the therapists and she was clear that he was all over them about the patients. He’s going to be all over them even more.
I have a new doctor now. He’s picked her out for me. If I don’t like her I’m to call him and he’ll pick out another. If there are no good fits in the practice, he will take me outside the practice. One way or another, he will find me a good fit.
I am crying, leaning forward in my chair. He has handed me the box of tissues.
I manage to stop crying long enough to thank him for taking care of me. He assures me that he will still be taking care of me, he just won’t be my doctor anymore. He asks if I know what it means to be the administrator of a practice like this one. I tell him that yes, actually I do and I describe what I think his function is and he says yes, that’s about right and then adds a few things.
We talk a little more, he says some more things about NM and then we say good-bye. I am still crying and the does the most amazing thing. He hugs me.
And I walk out the door.
Into a waiting room full of possibly volatile people and I am crying with snot running down my face and I think, crap, Alecto, pull yourself together. Bad idea.
And I do.
By the time I get to the parking lot I feel almost numb and I’m confused and upset and I can’t think straight and I wonder…
How will I know if I’m not alright?
Last night I was lying in bed and I thought about this:
Just about five years ago I was driving north into Vermont with my husband into the town of Jamaica because it was our third anniversary and I was hoping it wasn’t going to be another awful weekend away that ended with me in tears literally all night long, as in, right into dawn. Come the end of December I was laying in my bed in a self-constructed cocoon trying to figure out how to 1. Not throw up into my daughter’s hands again, 2. Keep breathing normally and 3. Wondering how long this could possibly go on (it went on for almost 2 years before it actually let up enough to be measurable).
Fast forward to last night and I was lying in my bed having ended a conversation with my boyfriend early and somewhat abruptly because I wasn’t able to cope with conflict (and it was minimal and not awful conflict) in a really raw and uncomfortable state and realized, 1. I’d wiped my last husband’s
remains pretty much the hell out, 2. This doctor has been with me the entire time (just about) and I really am OK and I really do not need him anymore and it really is OK to grieve and I really am responsible enough to have somebody smart enough to keep looking me dead in the eyes every six months to make sure I’m still in one piece because like a smart alcoholic, I will spend the rest of
my life going to meetings and finally… I don’t have to lay there sleepless, I CAN call my boyfriend back and start over and I’m not going to be up all night crying into dawn and not all dogs (men) bite and GOOD LORD BUT MY LIFE IS ONE HELL OF A LOT BETTER THAN IT USED TO BE…
No matter how busy and how tired and how stressed I might find myself some days. Maybe a lot of days. Even most days.