Sometimes I feel like I should come with a warning label. Most people don't need this. I've managed to tone it down to the point where all you're going to get is high energy, sharp intelligence and strong opinion. I'm compassionate and gentle. I'm sweet. My stuff? Most people aren't going to have a clue (although some people would disagree). If there's a clue to be had then I think I should come with a warning label. That's a residual from my childhood. Bad Alecto. It's a residual from my marriages. Bad Alecto. It's a residual from my space in the world. Bad Alecto. Bad, bad, bad Alecto. Well, I'm about to be really, really, really BAD ALECTO in that it's just going to hit the page so here's the
W A R N I N G L A B E L
If you are faint of heart, have particularly thin skin or extra thick to the point of impenetrable, tend to think it's about you before stopping to think it might not be, may be pregnant or nursing a child, are prone to losing limbs for no good reason, are heavily medicated or just happen to be off your meds for the day, feeling out of sorts, prone to judgment, feel bad about yourself on a fairly regular basis or even periodically, have problems establishing and maintaining boundaries, maybe don't know what a boundary is (but can spell it), then this post is for YOU!
If, on the other hand, you are one perfected motherfucker and ready to move on to your next life as an enlightened dung beetle, then this post is probably not for you. Get your towel, throw a fish in your ear and catch the next flight out. Cheers!
When I first went to work at The Factory I inherited a mess of vb scripted front end messes sitting on top of fairly complex linked Excel workbooks with enough nested, linked formulas to choke a good size python and the only way I've ever been able to work that sort of shit out (with or without sys doc and there wasn't much to speak of) is to deconstruct it or reverse engineer it if I can be elegant about the business. I didn't have the time for elegance and I didn't know enough about vb to do anything other than break the shit out of it and take notes. Brute force - I'm your girl.
interlude: I just need to share what I'm hearing from the voice in the back of my head right now. I haven't been hearing this from the old lizard brain in awhile, at least not quite with such vehemence...*don't* say that, Alecto. *Don't* use words like 'brute force' about yourself without mitigating the statement with an offset like how you're not really a harsh and stumbling person and really you're very gentle and elegant and girl like and not the least bit dangerous. *Don't* go admitting to how you might be even remotely on the wrong side of the gender box where the words 'Brute Force' in terms of development would be perfectly acceptable. Should you not be a girl. Where girls are expected to be gentle and not confusing and not the least bit harsh. Perfect and all that. There is some bad shit coming out of that lizard's mouth this morning. I find it's best to put lizard stuff in the light when it's strong like that.
So back to the gigantic macro enabled vb scripted nightmares I inherited when I went to The Factory back in March, 2006 just four days a month to help with the close for just a few months until the Treasury process was complete and they could be done with this crap. Oh holy hell, and it was crap. Scary stuff. The sort where you make a complete backup of the database before you start running anything and even then you pray. I sweat a lot. One time everything blew up because there was no more disk space on the server when I was doing a restructure on one of those databases and that's just how out of control we were back then. And *that* never happened again...
Brute Force: Uncover EVERYTHING. Pull back every layer you can find and start breaking pieces systematically until you hear screaming or until you start noticing different behavior. You do kind of have to be systematic about it or you won't know what did what but your intent is to actually break the damn thing in the deconstruction so you can build it back up again somewhere else. In my break fest, in my literal first four day frenzy after uncovering multiple hidden worksheets with hidden rows and columns I found one large button sitting in the middle of nowhere apparently associated with absolutely nothing. The button read:
DON'T PUSH ME.
Rule # 1 before doing anything, go back to the VB script and see if you can find the code before you try to excute the script.
DON'T PUSH ME.
Do you think I even did a save as before moving on?
Lights out and that was the end of that workbook.
It's ok, I had backups, I just had to revert to the last saved copy. It's sort of like when you get the blue screen of death on your home computer or you get a virus and you have that lovely option to revert back to the last good full system backup. Maybe. I didn't actually lose too much but still. I didn't have to do that but it was AWFULLY COMPELLING. It's human nature I think to open Pandora's Box.
DON'T PUSH ME.
The damn developer didn't even make it read 'Don't Click Here'. He (yes, he is a he, I know who he is and the one time I had the chance to talk to him I froze) was smart enough to make it read 'DON'T PUSH ME'.
An easter egg is something that's hidden but you might know where to look for it or you might know if you click around or look around you'll find it. A time capsule is something that's been locked away with pieces from the past sealed in an airtight container so that (hopefully) nothing changes and when it's opened up, everything you left behind comes rushing up at you, scents, sounds, feelings, memories, as if a door from the past, or a hole in the ground maybe, opened up and you could almost fall in. OK, maybe that's a little dramatic but I guess it depends on the time capsule and or its contents, now doesn't it?
Northern Man walked out of my house last week with a mess of old/dead assorted cell phones. Maybe 8 or 10 of them. I don't really know. All I know is that every time somebody got a new phone the old phone went in a drawer as a backup in case we needed a spare. I noticed they aren't all in there. For example, where the hell is my last Blackberry Storm? That was a perfectly good phone and if we wanted to give someone a smart phone that would be the one. But I don't know what happened to it. Anyway, the phones piled up in two drawers for a lot of years. A wicked lot of years. I found the phone that was in my bag during the flash flood of Numbah One Son's high school graduation which effectively cancelled high school graduation right after everyone was seated. There was water up to the car doors in the streets and two inches of water in my bag and my phone drowned. It dried out and lived a little longer. That was an LG flip phone with an antenna and Numbah One Son graduated in 2005. So. A lot of phones. A shit load of phones.
Nothern Man was saying the other day that phones are not phones anymore, they are computers we use as phones sometimes. Some of us use our little computers as phones more than others and some of us hardly use them as phones at all. I haven't used my little computer as a phone much at all in the last 8 years. I use it as a texting device for short communication and I use it to talk to people briefly. Since I've had a smart phone it has been the primary point of email access and since the iPhone slouched into my house it represents about 85% of my face book usage and even part of my blog posting. I use it for face time with Northern Man so it's part of my relationship management but I still don't talk on it much other than that. It has been my primary camera for years. Imagine the stored photographs, texts, email, phone numbers... music. My life, in other words. Anyone's life. A used cell phone is no longer just a used cell phone. It is as vulnerable as a used computer and needs to be wiped clean before it even leaves the house.
I didn't consider that. My bad.
I'd have to go way back in the Alecto/NM text string to get the exact phrasing and timing on what happened next but it came at me a little at a time, like 25 mph bricks hitting me in the side of the head until the whole house landed on my feet. Leaving just the witch sticking out. Funny how you don't so much notice 25 mph bricks hitting your head when you're already in the middle of a shit storm (the oncoming technical pandemic was beginning to raise its gnarly head).
The first couple of bricks were warning flares that went off in the back of my brain. That old lizard got up and started doing a dance but I didn't understand a word she was saying other than
SOMETHING IS NOT RIGHT
The problem with SOMETHING IS NOT RIGHT is that you can only say that to some people without an explanation. I can say that to CG and Cielo. I can say SOMETHING IS NOT RIGHT with no further explanation and everything will come to a screeching halt while I work it out. Or not. I might just turn around and go the other way with that SOMETHING IS NOT RIGHT god awful feeling in the lower part of my head near the back of my neck, no questions asked. I cannot say that to my father. My father will want every last detail because he needs to understand. It's ok, I get that so I'm very careful about what and how I communicate to and with my father. Some people need to have answers they personally understand all the way down to the ground. I get that. The problem is, this is my stuff and my answers, even if I have them, are most assuredly not one size fits all.
So the bricks kept coming and I couldn't quite figure out what the hell was going on. First thing was the phone, it was all wrong. That's not my phone, that was Noman's phone. What do you mean that was my phone, how could that be my phone? I distinctly recall my picture on the front of that phone - wall paper. I remember laying in his lap on the couch facing up when he took the picture and then set the wall paper immediately. I remember looking at it and thinking, if I was right side up I don't think I'd look so bloody beautiful but that really is stunning. Text messages are streaming in now and I'm in someone's cube with IT working on a really scary disaster and these are the images and memories in my head that are, at this point, seeping, slow leakage out of a time capsule stored in the kitchen drawer like a hand grenade and I am beginning to remember things at this point I'd really rather not.
That phone became available to the house shortly before Christmas in 2008 because Nomans got the iPhone 3 because the Blackberry Storm 1 was a total disappointment and he was the first of us to leave Verizon and make the leap to the dark side. I don't remember which photograph of me went up on the new phone but I know it was taken at the big round table in the corner at the Road House and when I saw him next after he left it was replaced with a picture of the puppy. These things that stick...
So for some reason I had his phone. I don't know when I took possession of the damn thing. It may not have been until after he left. My guess is my current phone died before my contract was up and I took the last stored phone from the drawer until March 2010 when it was time for the smartphone move. With that phone I took all of the photographs and history from the end of my marriage. With that phone I picked up a time bomb and blew my face off. I held onto it anyway right up until the very last minute.
This all came back a little at a time until the whole house fell on my feet. Leaving out just the witch.
The freakout meter went to 9 on a scale of 1 - 10. I'm reading a weather report. The weather as it was at that moment in Westchester, NY, right over my head. Stormy, rocky, a barometric pressure drop that vaccuumed the air out of a 40 cubic foot space around my body. I will not throw up I will not throw up I will not throw up... what do I need to do? Wipe the phone. OK. Phone is not here. Out of my hands. Shit. Wipe the phone. Send a text. Communicate. Do it now.
Communicated. Walked away. Breathed. Went back to the cube and the mess and the possible pandemic and kept working and in the back of my head the time capsule grenade seepage continued slowly but surely into the subconscious and then working it's way forward and I started to cry. It was better to do that at my own desk or the executive bathroom or the parking lot or my car or WTF, not at all but like that point in time when transition has really wound itself up good, the baby is coming when the baby is coming.
So here's the deal, another interlude, ok? This stuff we have, it is our stuff and our stuff alone. At least that's how I see it. I did my damn best not to get it on anyone. Nobody at work knew. I didn't bite anyone's head off and I didn't snap. I may have been a little distracted with the text messaging here and there but for the most part I was present and accounted for. I conveyed to my boyfriend that my distress level was near the top of the chart and I told him what I needed. Wipe. The. Phone. Now please.
Later he wanted to know why. I tried to explain to the best of my ability but part of me really didn't want to do that and here's why. This little time capsule was rather unexpected. It was still seeping, I was still processing and I was a little more than surprised, upset, unhappy and confused by all of it. I was still remembering, I guess. You know, you unscrew the top of the damn thing - or pry the nails out of whatever, and then layer after layer comes up and you don't know what you're going to see until you see it and each layer has its own memory with its own set of feelings and I don't care how much work you've done, shit, sixty years later stuff could be dead and buried and you could open something up and still get whacked in the face with it.
The bottom line is I simply did not have any answers that I was comfortable disseminating at that point. Especially over the phone. I did it anyway. I hate that. I do it anyway, you're happy (or not) and I come off sounding like a half baked flake and you get one eighth the story and I feel sort of violated because I wasn't ready to even open my mouth or even write about it.
I really need to learn to say no. I do this with everyone. If you ask me strongly enough and with enough authority, I think I owe you something. If I believe I will lose something if I don't give you what I want, I will crumble. If I believe I am bad, or weak or wanting if I don't give you what you say I should give you, then I will. The truth is, I don't have to give you anything I'm not willing or ready to give you. This reminds me of all this conversation about rape culture and creating agreement. I don't necessarily agree with all of the tenets of rape culture (there's a lot I don't agree with, actually) but the subtleties of coercion are a pretty big deal.
And the worst part? If I don't give you quite enough then it's even worse. Then I sound like a total idiot. Then I feel forced to dig all the way down and give you far more information than I had any intention of ever giving anyone because some things are personal, private, mine... BOUNDARIES!!! DAMMIT!
Human beings have them, should have them, need to have them, and that is what the fucking bathroom door is for. Close it or not. It's up to you but if it's shut, respect it's shutness. There is nothing inherently wrong with a closed bathroom door.
So. Here is what happened to me. It didn't happen to anybody else. Just me. I did my very damn best not to get it on anybody else too. All I asked was to have the phone wiped. I communicated a distress level and the weather in Westchester was not so good. Again, not on anybody but myself. No yelling, no screaming, no crying, no accusations, no biting of co-workers, no real distractions, no inability to get my job done or continue to function. None of that. I realize I'm beating the shit out of a dead horse here but I want to make sure I've really got my point across.
It. Was. My. Stuff. And I was handling my stuff to the best of my ability. My phone was out of my control, 130 miles away and I needed that shit back or destroyed ASAP.
It flew up into the air around my face, wrapping tendrils of old sweetness around my arms and shoulders and neck moving up the back of my spine and covering my head. I could smell him. I could hear his voice I turned my head and saw the cup of coffee on the night table in the morning and almost smelled Saturday morning toast and the NYT hitting the bed to the left of my feet. Strings and strings of short text messages popping up during the day... I love you and... And there was a drawer, the six inch drawer which is directly below the four inch drawer and above the filing drawer in an office desk... the six inch drawer was packed with love notes. I got one love note every day written on yesterday's calendar tear off from the 365 day Get fuzzy calendar in the kitchen. Not just I Love You but a whole letter, or at least four or five sentences. You will know every day of your life that you are loved... and this is how I knew (well one of the ways I knew, I suppose)
Instant heart wrenching, mind numbing, guilt inducing grief.
How can this possibly still be there? Am I allowed to have this grief? Am I allowed to protect these intimacies? These are mine. These were mine and his and they belong to no one else. Should be seen by no one else and quite honestly need to be destroyed along with everything else for the same reasons and probably by me but it's out of my control now. I sure as hell don't want this out in the world.
And then he asked if there was something I was afraid of him seeing and I went to pieces.
Please don't make me explain this to you. You, being anyone, by the way. This is really about boundaries and just being able to say no, and I feel this way and this is what I need and I'm staying calm and not getting it on you now can you stop picking at me and just move along please?
Now, you may all judge this, me, it harshly. You may all look at this and have varying degrees of one opinion or another but the bottom line is this:
My stuff, my feelings, my needs and wants. If I'm not puking it on you and it isn't about you then any problem you have with it is a personal problem. I'm just now learning to make that distinction and the energy I have on all of this comes from a lifetime of not being able to establish boundaries. Shit, never mind not being able to establish them, I didn't even know I had a right to them. I'm not sure I could tell you when I worked out what they were exactly. God knows I didn't grow up with many.
Back on that time capsule. My grief. Who knew. What a bubble that one was. I didn't see it coming, it washed over me and drifted out the doorway leaving a small wash of sadness in its wake.
I am still missing my boyfriend. Today I hate that.