Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Simple pleasures.  Seeing the exquisiteness of this moment.  Sipping herb tea.  Listening to music, beautiful music that fits my mood perfectly.

I got this CD years ago.  There was a radio show I listened to.  I liked the music I heard on that show. I did not hear that kind of music anywhere else.  I wanted to hear more of it.  So I bought the CD.  At the time, it was just a radio show.  Now the host of that radio show is my best friend.  Listening to the CD, I remember that when I bought it, I had no inkling of the friendship in my future.

And a year ago, I had no inkling of what my life would be like today.  In the past year, I have joined two groups, and in both groups, I have found a wealth of lovely people.

Today I had lunch with a friend.  We've been friends for 12 years.  Tonight, I helped another friend with a Christmas gift for his mother.  And I made plans with a third friend.

At the end of December, I will visit my family.  I will see my new baby niece for the first time.  I will see my parents, who have always been there for me all my life.

I am so exquisitely blessed to have these people in my life.  May I always cherish and nurture these friendships.

And I am also exquisitely blessed to have peace and solitude, time to sip herb tea, listen to music, and realize how blessed I am.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Elizabeth C. Bunce

A few weeks ago in my post Reading Bittersweet, I mentioned that I read two novels that weekend, but I only wrote about one of them, Bittersweet.  The other book I read that weekend was Star Crossed by Elizabeth C. Bunce.  After reading that, I ordered her other books, Curse Dark As Gold and Liar's Moon, on interlibrary loan.  Now I have read all three of her books twice each, and I have added her to my list of favorite authors, alongside Frances Hardinge, Mercedes Lackey, Cynthia Voigt, and Tamora Pierce.

In my post Reading Bittersweet, I described the kind of book I usually read:
Mostly I read Young Adult fantasy novels with female main characters written by female authors. I read that kind of book because I can't relate to books about people with jobs or cars or children or guns or adult cynicism. I don't like fantasy novels that drip with magic, unicorns, dragons, and quests to find magical objects. I like fantasy novels because they often involve time spent in forests, and because they don't usually involve cars, jobs, offices, factories, and guns.
Bittersweet was not that kind of book.  Bunce's books are that kind of book (although guns do make minor appearances).  I like her books because they have rich plots, so they hold up to multiple readings.  I like her books because they have the kind of main characters I can relate to -- strong, stubborn women who plunge ahead in the fight to protect the people they care about, who are not the least bit dainty, who aren't afraid to get dirty, who scale walls, who blurt out things they shouldn't say.

Maybe that's not the kind of person that other people think I am, but when I'm immersed in books, that's the kind of character that I can immerse myself in being, the kind of character who feels like me on the inside.

(Warning: don't read Liar's Moon if you don't like cliffhangers.  Or at least, don't read all the way to the end.)

Why I don't like what people say to depressed people

I like the post Adventures in Depression.  Not for the happy ending, but because of the way it portrays the hurtful things that people say to depressed people, and that depressed people say to themselves.  One of my pet peeves is the things that people say to depressed or sick people.  My friend Fay writes about it too, in her post Depression for the Optimist.

I seem to take it personally and get disturbed when I hear people telling other people how they should feel or what they should do.  Some years ago, someone had carpal tunnel syndrome, and another person was lecturing the person who had it about how it's not so bad if only you do such-and-such.  I tend not to interfere in other people's interactions, but that one disturbed me so much I snapped and made the lecturer stop the lecture.

To me, one of the most important parts of Adventures in Depression is the part that says, "But trying to use willpower to overcome the apathetic sort of sadness that accompanies depression is like a person with no arms trying to punch themselves until their hands grow back.  A fundamental component of the plan is missing and it isn't going to work."

That's what people just don't get.  They say "snap out of it," but people just can't snap.

I'm not sure why this resonates with me so much.  I don't think that I have depression, not like the authors of these two blog posts.  People have thought that I do though, and treated me in the ways described in these posts.  But that was mainly when I was so tired  in the first few years after I had mono.  This kind of thing has bugged me since long before I had mono.

I've always been bugged by pushiness, so maybe it's a part of that.  I hate when people are pushy about how to deal with depression and sickness, just like I hate when they are pushy about everything else.

Maybe it's because I come from a quirky family, so I've chosen quirky friends because that's who I feel most at home with.  By quirky friends and family, I mean people who have a hard time with things that other people tell them they should not have  a hard time with.  People who won't get a flu shot because they don't like needles.  People who won't use credit cards.  People who don't use computers.  People who are not comfortable driving or riding in a car as it goes over a bridge.  People who aren't comfortable driving or riding in a car at any time.  People who get sick if they go into a store.  People who don't like to be touched.  People who choose to live in homes without plumbing.  People who can't stand to be in crowds, like at festivals or concerts.  People who don't like sudden noises.  People who don't like continuous background noises.  People who won't go to a doctor.  People who won't say certain things over the phone for fear of surveillance.  People who won't wear clothes made with synthetic fabrics. Brainy people who never finished high school.

Anyhow, whether your friend has depression or carpal tunnel syndrome or an aversion to needles, if you tell them that they can easily overcome it by adopting the right attitude or the right cure, you're going to really bug me.

Many colored sea

When people like me for my surface personality, when they seem to like me without knowing who I am,  they seem to see me as a deep sea of serenity and wisdom.  But really I am a roiling sea shimmering with the many colors of hard work,  joy, discouragement, exuberance, alienation, love, fatigue, energy, insecurity, confidence, passion, intellect, sexiness, playfulness, silliness, and confusion.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Mercy Now

I'm trying to do too many things.  I get tired.  When I get tired, I get depressed.

Humans are like chickens, always pecking at me.  They tell me: You should get a new job. You should spend more time on looking for a job.  You should taking singing lessons.  You should take ukulele lessons.  You should exercise more.  You should eat more vegetables.  You should eat more meat.  You should take more vitamins.  You should work harder on learning your dancing.  You should not spent so much time preparing for your radio show.  You should play different songs on on your radio show.  That project you volunteered for, you can do it however you want, except the way you're doing it is wrong.  Here's another project you should volunteer for.  Don't worry so much.

Every now and then, a message comes through that is different.  Every now and then someone says: I'm glad to see you.  You're beautiful.  It's okay to be who you are.  It's okay to worry. It's okay to work hard.  It's okay to take a break.  It's a pleasure to be with you.  You make me smile.

These are the messages that are pointing the way, telling me which friendships I need to pay attention to nurturing.

But the best thing when all the chickens are pecking at me is to go home to the stillness and freedom of solitude.  No one to place demands on me.  I play Joe Crookston's album Darkling and the Bluebird Jubilee.  He sings Mary Gauthier's song, "Yeah, we all could use a little mercy now.  We don't deserve it, but we need it anyhow."

Yes, I need some mercy now.  I know I can't live up to doing all the things the chickens think I should do.  I know I'm not smart enough, not beautiful enough, not energetic enough, not bold enough.  But I am who I am. That's all I can be.  I'm just trying to do the best I can with what I've got.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Work hard or go with the flow

Tuesday: Ten or fifteen minutes or so talking with a friend I haven't seen in some time.  It was so genuine.  I spoke of my loneliness, and tears came to my eyes.  None of the usual pretending I'm strong.  Free of trying to be what I'm supposed to be.  Free to be what I am.

Friday: Exhausted, as I usually am by the end of the week.  That day at work there was yet another reminder of how horrid a certain person at work is.  He forces people to jump through hoops.  You do X, he tells you do Y.  You do Y, he says, "That is worthless, I told you to do Z."  I don't work directly with him, but it is my job to carry out his demands.  I'm telling the better people who are directly above me that I can't do it any more.  I hope they can help save me from him.

Saturday: Practiced music with a friend.  Not a close friend, but someone I know and like.  She was positive, supportive, pleasant to be around.  Like Tuesday, it was a relief for it to be okay to be what I am.

A tickle in my mind: isn't there a song about that?  The song I finally came up with was by Lui Collins, "Move to the now.  You who have created it, move to the now.  All the world awaits you."

Still had a feeling that there were other songs about it, but couldn't come up with any more.

The idea is, the thing that you need is right in front of you, all you have to do is step into it.

Is it? It sounds so easy.  If it were so easy, I would think I would be there already.

I depend on my job for survival.  I'm trying to find another way to survive, but until I do, I'm stuck with what I've got.

And the rest of it -- sometimes it seems like such a struggle to be friends with people I like, to distance myself from people I don't like, to get involved in the activities I want to get involved in.

What if I stopped struggling? What if I only did the things that welcomed me?

On Tuesday, my friend was struck by the commonalities between himself and two other people he knew I was close to.  He said, "You always go for the flaky ones."

Somtimes it seems I have no interest in the normal people, and only like the people who are difficult to be close to.

It's so ingrained in our culture that if we just work hard enough, we can get whatever we want.  It's overly ingrained in me.  I need to keep reminding myself to stop struggling and just go with the flow.

But is that right? You don't get anywhere if you don't try.  If I don't keep fighting, I'll never escape  my job.

A song I've known pretty much all my life, because my parents liked it when I was little says, "few people get there quick by their chosen road.  They don't know it's quicker to go by natural velocity."

Maybe there's a middle ground between fighting hard against the grain and giving up all fight.  Maybe I can keep in mind what I want, but also take into account whether I'm on a path that demands great struggle or a path that flows easily.  If I find myself encountering great resistance on the way I'm going, maybe it's time to stop for a bit and reconsider my route.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Deathbed priorities

After writing my previous post "Taste the Joy" based on a response to something written by Tom Hartmann, I moved on in my internet browsing to Christine Hartmann, and found something that related to what I had just written about.  In Prioritizing from your deathbed, she writes that one way to decide about what to do is to think about how you will feel about it on your deathbed.  One thing I like about this approach is that it encompasses both the immediate indulgences and the long-term planning.

On my deathbed, I will regret staying at this stupid job for so long, wasting these years of my life.  In my free time, mostly I dance, listen to music, spend time outdoors, spend time with family and friends, write emails and blogs, read, and compile photos.  Those are my passions, those are what I really want to do.  When I'm on my deathbed, I want to look back at a life spent doing those things.  But I also want to look back on a life that didn't involve so many years at this stupid job, so I need to also spend time on the difficult and unpleasant task of digging out my escape route.

Taste the joy

In http://braininjuryandbipolarrecovery.blogspot.com/, Tom Hartmann writes regarding a summer romance during his college years, "we had put off consummating our romance until my final evening in the country."  My feeling upon reading that was "why wait -- taste joy whenever you have the opportunity!"

The song "No Time at All" comes to mind.  It says, "When you are old as I...you will woefully wonder why...you could squander away or sequester a drop of a precious year....it's time to start livin'....'cause spring will turn to fall in just no time at all."

Of course it's not always so simple.  Sometimes finding the things that will bring us the most joy takes long-term planning and work, not just immediate indulgence.  Sometimes we are crushed by fatigue, illness, hurt, and loss.

Actually, right now I think that everything I want will take long-term planning and work.  And right now, I feel like I am usually crushed by fatigue, illness, hurt, and loss.  I guess that's why I had the response to Tom's blog post  -- because at the time, he didn't have those things standing in his way.  And little did he know, soon he would be struck by them.

But wherever we are in life, there will be both.  Wherever we are in life, we need to work on the long-term planning.  Wherever we are in life, we need to care for the physical and emotional hurts that plague us. But wherever we are in life, let us not forget to taste the joy.