Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Sick on Christmas Eve

Home.  First time in my life I am not sleeping at my mother's house Christmas Eve and waking up the next day to spend Christmas with her.  I was planning to, but I was sick instead.  I'm not upset right now because I anticipate that I will still be able to see everyone, just a few days late. 

There are times when I'm half sick, and I'm pushing myself to act like a normal person.  Those times are hard.  But there are time when I'm sick enough that I know my job is to stay in bed, run the vaporizer, and drink tea, and I'm okay with that.

One thing that I do worry is that people will see me as the one who is always sick, always complaining about being tired, always skipping out on social events.  That they'll think it's just my personality.  I think I used to believe that when I was young and healthy.  I used to look down on people who complained of health problems. 

It's not who I am inside.  It's just something that's visiting me.  Who I am is smart, funny, adventurous, playful, bold, silly, loyal. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Holiday season

This time of year, the trees are bare.  The flowers are gone.  The wind is cold.  The darkness is at its longest.  Human traditions bring light into darkness, warmth into coldness, by making this the holiday season.  Traditions vary across cultures, religions, and historical times. They include Christmas, solstice,  Kwanzaa, Chanukkah, Chalica, Boxing Day, St. Lucia's Day, Three Kings Day, Saturnalia, and New Year's Day. Traditions at this time of year fill the darkness and cold with warmth, light, family, fellowship, love, peace, spirituality, mystery, new birth, new beginnings.

I like the evergreens, the lights, the music.  For me, it's a time to renew connections.  I spend time with family.  By sending cards, I reach out to people I don't often see, maintaining a connection with them.  It's a time to care for our fellow humans, by volunteering, giving to charity, and being kind to strangers. 

It all goes by so fast though.  I'm off work for two weeks in late December.  That's the time for spending with family.  But the time before that, the first three weeks of December, that's the time for going to concerts, singing, and preparing gifts and cards.  I never seem to have enough time for that part.  But now, I have two days before I go to visit my family.  I'd better get going on those holiday cards. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Walk. Dance. Meditate. Do tai chi. Listen to music.

 Last night I went for a sleep study.  Same as last time, I slept poorly for the first half of the night, and ended up with about four hours total sleep.  Same as last time, I tried to sleep more when I got home, but was unable to do so.

So I'm sleep deprived today.  I'm sleep deprived most days.  Is that why I usually feel irritable and overwhelmed?

Doctors, lawyers, mechanics, landlords, etc.  I don't want to have to keep dealing with them.  I don't like it that things don't work so then you have to ask someone to fix it.  I don't like it that when you ask them to fix it, they can't just fix it.  You have to keep going round and round with them.

Wouldn't be nice if someone just gave me what I asked for, without any hassles?

I looked at some things I wrote when I was a kid.  It brought back to me unhappinesses I had forgotten.  I'm close to my mother now, but reading about the past, I was angry with her for my childhood unhappiness.  I suppose many people feel that way, blaming their parents for all the unhappinesses of  childhood, expecting parents to have a superhuman ability.  Maybe it's not fair, but on the other hand, I don't want to discount my feeling.  Because in a way, that's the thing that bothers me, that sense of repressing my feelings for the good of my mother.

There's a song "Janie" by Alien Folklife.  It's a very sad song.  Luckily, my situation was not as bad as Janie's.  But the song resonates with me.  I have a sense of putting myself on hold in order to please others.  Maybe it was parents and teachers when I was a kids.  Maybe it went on to be others as I grew up.  Maybe it's not because of anything about how my mother treated me.  Maybe it's just who I am.

This morning and early afternoon, I escaped to fiction.  That's what I do with most of my free time.  Escape. 

In late afternoon, I ventured forth to reality.  I did my laundry.  While my clothes were in the washing machine at the laundromat, I walked around the  neighborhood.  I walked for half an hour.  It was good.  It reminded me of who I am a bit

"Walk,  Dance.  Meditate.  Do tai chi.  Listen to what they say."

That was the inspiration that came to my mind as I walked.  I have a long to do list.  Things that are chores to do, but which make my life what I want it to be.  For example, laundry.  A chore to do, but I do prefer to wear clean clothes rather than dirty clothes.  The insight from my walk reminded me don't just do that stuff, also do the stuff that nourishes my soul.

"Listen to what they say," means listen to the insights that these activities bring to me.

What did not come to me during the walk, but which I consider an addendum, is listen to music.  When I'm far gone into depression, that's what can bring me back to stability.

I had a nice walk.  I felt more like myself.  But I'm still sleep deprived.  I still feel like I just want to howl.  I still feel like escaping my world.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Free day

Free day. What would I do with my time if I could do anything? Rarely do I do things truly for pleasure.  I have endless to do lists.  Things I want to do in order to make my life what I want it to be.  It's my choice, it's what I want, but it's not pleasure.  And when I'm not doing things on my to do list, I'm escaping.  Too tired to be productive, I read, play a card game on the computer, catch up on Facebook. 

What would truly bring me joy? I like going for walks and dancing, but my body says, "I'm too tired."

I slept last night.  I went to bed at 8:40pm  As usual, I woke up many times in the night but soon went back to sleep.  I woke up for the day just before 8am, and got out of bed just before 9am. 

No, I did not get up feeling energized.  Still tired as ever.

I'm thinking though about how I'm usually sleep deprived, and usually irritable.  I'm thinking of all the unkind things people do and say, and thinking that comes from people being sleep deprived, or in pain, or unloved. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Dancers of Arun

Some books I find by wandering through the library, pulling them off the shelf.  Such was the case with The Dancers of Arun by Elizabeth A. Lynn. 

It meets some of my basic criteria:
  • I like fantasy novels because they are about a pre-industrial world.  I like them when they are mostly fantasy novels for that reason.  I don't like them to be thick with dragons, magic, princesses, etc.  
  • I like them when it feels like I am inside the main character's head, rather than when it is told from the outside.  I like it when it's about characters, feelings, and relationships.
Some things about it which I think for me were neutral, not really pros or cons:
  • It has non-mainstream sexual mores.  It would be off-putting to many.  On the other hand those who like such things would see this as a plus.  For me, it wasn't really a plus or a minus.  To me, I entered into the world of the novel and took things in terms of what they meant to the characters.
  • Some describe Lynn's writing style as "choppy" or "stilted."  Some saw this as a positive, others as a negative.  To me, for the most part, the book was successful in getting me too immersed in the story to notice the language, although it times it did seem a little off.
A negative for me:
  •  Many characters didn't really have distinct personalities.  It was just a bunch of names to keep straight.  When a book really gives you a sense of who a person is, then you don't have to think, "Which one is that one again?"  Or, even when I knew which one it was, I just knew one fact about them, I didn't have a feel for who they were as a person.  
A positive:
  • Portrayal of disability.  It's presented as something that's not like a big thing, not like this person is a disabled person.  Instead, it's just part of who a person is.  It has a constant impact on who they are, but it is just one part of who they are, it is not their identity.  


Thanksgiving. Four days off work.  Same plan as usual: stay home, rest, catch up on chores.  In past years, I had hopes that by the end of my time off, I would have more things done, and would feel more rested, but now I know that never happens.

I have been tired all autumn.  No rest does any good. 

Right now, I so don't want to do anything.  So maybe I can take my first evening of Thanksgiving break to relax, to read fiction. and then get things done on the other days, after I've had a chance to recover from work.

Except I know that it never comes.  Feeling rested never comes.  Getting stuff done never comes.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Fantasy worlds

Often I get a sense of well-being from having dreams that fulfill me emotionally.  Tonight I thought I'd take a journey into fantasy worlds on purpose, and see what I could find or build.  I considered three different worlds.

Things that all my fantasies have in common: I don't have to go to my current job, or work full-time in an office, and I don't have to do any cooking or other domestic chore. 

1) Last week I was sick and missed two and a half days of work.  It was nice because being sick didn't hurt, I just rested.  I spent mornings sleeping.  In the afternoon, I read or watched DVDs.  Then I went to  bed early.  I am tired tonight.  I am tired most of the time.  So one fantasy is to indulge that fatigue.  The weather is cold these days, so that fantasy also involves warmth.  In this fantasy, I am in a comfortable chair by a fireplace, or I am in bed, enveloped in blankets, sitting up, leaning against a pillow.  Whether in the chair by the fireplace or in the bed, I am dozing or reading fiction.  If the time comes when I want to, I could go for a walk.  In this fantasy, it is winter and there is snow on the ground.  Sometimes I may also listen to music, write, and drink herb tea or hot chocolate.

2) The second fantasy was less interesting, because it was too close to a plan for reality.  It's farfetched enough that I don't think it will happen, and yet realistic enough not to be a satisfying fantasy.  In this world, I move to the small city that I've dreamed of living in for the past 20 years.  I'm writing a book telling the stories of my ancestors and of my life -- both a family history book and an autobiography, because in the future, I'll be history too.  I'm compiling the photos and notes I have already.  I'm also traveling some for my research, to interview people, review historical documents, and to visit and photograph places where my ancestors lived.  I have an editor who is helpful, to give me some structure and help me stay on track.  I think I also have some sort of part-time job, maybe at a library, because writing a book is solitary and I also want to have the experience of contributing to a team.

3) To develop my third fantasy, I thought about what fictional characters I identify with.  I identify with characters who have strength and courage.  I identify with warriors.  I identify with characters whose strength is physical.  I identify with characters with a will of steel.

In the early Harry Potter books, I don't really identify with any of the characters.  In the later books, I come to like Luna and Ginny, although I don't strongly identify with them.  Luna is a role model for me because of the way she walks through life just being herself, rather than trying to fit what others expect.  I don't identify with Hermione at all.  It may seem strange because many people have perceived me to be like Hermione.  Maybe identifying with fictional characters has to do with having a place to give expression to the sides of yourself that don't have room to soar in real life.

I don't much identify with the characters in Firefly either.  Inara, River, and Kaylee are too girly for me, while Zoe is too matter-of-fact.  However, I do like the way Inara has a will of steel.  I like the way she carries herself, demanding respect.

I don't like Mercedes Lackey's characters Tarma and Kethry, because the books don't get inside their heads.  It's like they did this and then they did this, just a list of actions, with not much feeling behind it.  Kerowyn was a little better, especially in the beginning, but later in the book, she seemed emptier.

I like Robin McKinley's Aerin and Harry, because they are warrior types.

In my fantasy world, I imagine that I live in a monastery type setting.  That is, I live in a room that is simple, just a bed and a desk, with thick stone or cinder block walls.  I had a dorm room like this, and I stayed in a room like this when I visited Venezuela.  I'm part of a rigorous training program.  We are always working on training ourselves physically, spiritually, and mentally.  It seems to be a group setting, but I'm not really aware of any particular individuals.  I'm focused on my own training.  The physical training includes tai chi.  The spiritual training includes meditation.  The mental training includes studying history and traditions.  There is also some outdoor training, including nature study and skate skiing.

When I finish my training, I go and serve a village, like a druid.  I know all the history of my people, so when someone has a problem, I tell them about what has and hasn't worked in the past.  I preside at rites of passage like birth, coming of age, marriage and death.  I know what stories and music to share to inspire people.

The people of the village and the creatures of the wood are separate.  I am the only one who can connect with both.  My lover is the Green Man, a creature of the wood.  I dance with the creatures of the wood.  With the creatures of the wood, I am passion.  With the people of the village, I am knowledge, wisdom, and strength.

When I put it that way, I don't want to bother with the village part of the fantasy. I'd rather dance with the creatures of the wood than be a source of knowledge and wisdom. 

I think I might play the harp or something too, in my fantasy world.

Also goats.  I'm a goat herder.

The problem is, I identify with warrior types because of their strength and physicality, but I'm not interested in hurting people, and hurting people is usually the purpose of warriors.

Saturday, November 8, 2014


Last night I was reading By the Sword by Mercedes Lackey.  In it, Kerowyn has three years of hard training.

This morning on the radio they had an interview with Quinn Sullivan.  Now 15, he has been playing blues guitar on national television since age six. 

They have what I am missing: they work hard, and excel at something.  At least in school, I had things that I could work at and accomplish. 

When I was pursuing the AODA curriculum, I liked having something I was working toward. But then I could not in good conscience stick with them, due to their censorship practices.

Every now and then, in tai chi or Morris dance, I feel like I'm learning something.  I like it.  But it's not enough.

Most of the time, I am overwhelmed with things that have to be done.  They don't require excellence.  They just require time.  They are boring, and there are too many of them, so I can never get things done thoroughly and well. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Article on animal sacrifice

David Salisbury has a  nice article on animal sacrifice at!Sacrifice/c22a6.  It's not a priority topic for  me since I don't know anyone who practices animal sacrifice, but it makes its points well. 

Some of these points can be applied to other issues as well, including the issue of Morris dancers wearing black face paint.  Just because people did it in the past doesn't make it cool.

It also applies to arguments about any kind of animal cruelty -- yes, unless you are completely vegan, you are still hurting animals, but if you save the life of one animal, that's something.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Make an oracle

Some modern druids use the ogham tree associations for divination.  I've also seen an article about making your own ogham tree alphabet based on the trees where you live.  I'm not really interested in divination in terms of telling the future or anything like that.  But I do see something in it.  What I see is that you could have a deck of cards that has pictures that you find beautiful, and meanings that you find inspiring, and you could draw a card and meditate on it, and it would be a way to tap into whatever strengths that card reminds you of.

I was thinking that in conjunction with the way names keep coming into my head.  The idea is usually that these are names I could call myself, to tap into different aspects of myself.  I realized that many of the names refer to trees and shrubs.  I realized that it would be possible to make something like a deck of cards, with each card having a beautiful picture and associated meanings. 

I'm not sure it really makes sense to call it an oracle or divination.  It would be very much like that, except that I see it as an aid to tapping into parts of myself, rather than a way of seeing into the future. 

So, the cards in my deck could include:

Autumn Oak
Apple Blossom
Apple Fruit
Red Maple
Sugar Maple
Norway Maple Flower
Norway Maple Leaves
Maple Samara
Granite Seacost
Sycamore Grace

There would not be a fixed number.  I would create new ones as inspired.

This strikes me as the kind of project I think of but never do. 

Well, I could see writing blurbs for some of these.  But making cards is the kind of thing I don't do.  I don't do crafts stuff.  I write. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Samhain, Halloween, Thanksgiving

I like the Halloween customs of costumes, going around the neighborhood, and pumpkins.  I don't like the candy though.  It's not healthy.  And if it's not fair trade, you are contributing to some bad practices. 

I like the Samhain tradition of remembering the dead.  I'm not sure it fits with the Halloween traditions though.

I was reading tonight about Native Americans, that they grew beans, corn, squash, and strawberries.  Strawberries are for a different season, but how about we celebrate Thanksgiving by eating beans, corn, and squash, thinking about the history of the country, and thinking about things we are grateful for. 

Since reading Druidry and the Ancestors, I've been thinking in terms of druidry being about being rooted in our ancestors, where ancestors is all who have gone before. Samhain can be about remembering our personal ancestors, and people we knew personally who have passed away, while Thanksgiving can be about remembering the people who have lived on this land. 


Meditation.  Evening.  After dark.  I turn the lights off.  I set a candle on the floor.  I sit on a cushion gazing at the candle.  The candle is a miniature sun.  The candle is my soul.  Meditation shows me my soul's light.  

The rest of the time, I don't see my soul. I react to the world around me, just trying to get through, trying to do the things I have to do.  Shouldering my burdens. 

In meditation, I remember who I am.  I realize I've been trying to be someone I'm not.  In meditation, I think of friends and family and wish them well. 

I've read about meditation.  Sometimes they talk about visiting an inner grove.  In your imagination, you develop a landscape, and you develop the inhabitants of that landscape.

I have not though up much detail for my inner grove.  What I do see is a cultivated landscape, with grass and shrubs.  There's a sense that the inhabitants are people who love me, but not much detail about who they are.

I've had that experience in dreams.  I may not remember the specifics of the dreams, but when I wake up, I know that I was valued and loved in my dreams, and it gives me a sense of satisfaction.

Meditation too gives me a sense of satisfaction.  It's not necessarily about a sense of being valued and loved by others.  The sense of being loved happens more often in dreams than in meditation.  Meditation is not about being loved by others.  It is about being present in myself.   In meditation, I find the peace.  I find the strength. I find my soul. 

I meditate before bedtime.  So after meditation, I get up and go to bed.  And I find myself feeling content as I go to bed. 


My dream last night, or actually this morning as I was waking up:

I was at a staff meeting.  Everyone was saying I was doing a shabby job.  They didn't say specifically what they wanted me to do differently.  There was one thing they previously told me to do differently, and I had already changed over to doing it how they wanted.  I said, "I don't understand why everyone is ganging up on me, and Pamela isn't even here."  [Because usually Pamela is the one who puts other people down.]  Then I realized that Pamela was there, that I just had not been able to see her from where I was. I was horrified to have said that with her present.  Then someone brought in the baby of one staff person, and then a second staff person also had a baby in her arms.  The second staff person was singing to her baby.  I could hear the singing, and it made it hard for me to hear what the boss was saying.

Then the boss announced that we were going to start our fundraising for prostate cancer.  Except he mixed it up and said, "prostitute cancer."  Then he corrected himself.  Then it was loud, we were supposed to get energized for the fundraising campaign, so people were chanting and cheering. 

That was the end of the meeting, and I was happy that Tom was visiting and I was going out with him that evening.

As I woke up, I was puzzled.  Why were we raising money for prostate cancer?  My late boss did have it, but what he died of was multiple myeloma. 

Health/energy meter

I wish there was some easy objective measure of health and energy. 

If someone took a sick day for work, they could show by this means that they were truly sick, and not get accused of skipping out on their responsibilities.

And if someone chooses not to do a non-work activity, they could see that they don't have much energy.  Then they wouldn't have to berate themselves for their lack of willpower. 

And when deciding how to spend our time, we could be like, "Well I've got 10 energy units now.  Tomorrow I have to go grocery shopping, and that will require 5 energy units.  If I go out tonight, that will use up 7, but if I stay in tonight, I'll build up 5 more energy units.  So I'll stay home and rest tonight, then I'll go grocery shopping tomorrow, and then after that, I'll still have 10 left to have fun. 

Conclusions from my youth

Conclusions I came to when I was a kid or teenager:
  1. New England is home.
  2. Maine is home.
  3. Being near the ocean is home. 
  4. Ocean shores should be rock, not sand.
  5. You never know when you might have to climb through a barbed wire fence, so dress accordingly. 
  6. Live close to the earth.  Wear comfortable, rugged clothes like jeans, sneakers, hiking boots.  Don't try to conform to fancy people, rich people, city people.  That's not who you are. 
  7. Dance.
  8. Write. 
  9. Do outdoor things like hiking and cross country skiing. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014


Sometimes chores oppress me.  I go to work, and there's all that to be done.  I come home and there's another batch.  So I rebel.  I read. I go for walks.  I sleep.  I escape.  But there is another way.  Not to be controlled by chores.  Controlled either in forcing myself to do them, or controlled when I flee them.  No, the escape must not be fleeing, avoidance.  There are times to make the choice to nurture myself.  To fill  myself with strength.  And then to take that strength and turn it on the chores, to do what must be done.  Not to find my way to the last annoying chore, but to see what path I truly want to walk, and then do the hard work to get me there.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Square peg

From "The Mechanic Gives 100 Percent" in What Should I Do With My Life by Po Bronson: "You gotta stop squeezing into a round hold if you're a square peg. You're going to have a heart attack in five years."

He wanted to stop, but he didn't know how.  It took a serious injury.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Going to heaven?

My co-worker felt like she had just done a good deed.  She commented, "I'll go to Heaven."  Then she added, "As long as he doesn't hear what I say under my breath."

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Worthy enough for jobhunting?

I thought I shouldn't be jobhunting yet because I don't know what I want to do, I'm not qualified.  I don't deserve to be hired yet.  I need to become worthy first.

At the job interview, they thought I was very qualified.  Their concern was that I didn't really want the job because I was too good.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Job interview

When they told me they wanted me to come for a job interview, I was filled with dread. I felt like it is just this torture I force myself to go through for no real reason.  I didn't want to go.

My brain knew better, but my heart was resistant.

Well it was a lovely day.  It was lovely to go for a drive on a beautiful fall day.  It was lovely to be in New England.  It was a nice place.

My brain knew all that all along, but the rest of me sure didn't.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Still searching

Vacation day.  Certain things I am supposed to get done today.  Haven't done them yet, half past noon.  Been reading What Should I Do With My Life.  They had an apartment for writers, not to live in, but to work in, so they would have an office to go to, and could be with other writers.  The book talked about the importance of being around people who are interested in what you are interested in.

Also, I read an article on LinkedIn about how people in their 40s settle at their job, just collect their paycheck, but it's not really what they want to do.  They don't develop their skills or their network.  Then they get laid off in their 50s and can't find a job.

It seems like I just apply for jobs here and there, but I'm not rooted.  I need to find what I want.  I need to build a community.  I need to build my skills.  I need to find ways to do that both in my job and outside of my job.  I need to weed out of my life the things that don't contribute to that.  I don't mean things that don't contribute to career development. I mean things that don't contribute to me growing into who I am.

But at the same time, I think sometimes I use this kind of thinking as an excuse to not apply for jobs.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


I could not tell if it was a cricket or the smoke alarm.

I had smoke alarms on my mind.  My smoke alarm did not go off yesterday morning when I had some smoke from overcooked food.  I realized it has been too long since I replaced the batteries.

So when I heard chirping I thought maybe the smoke alarm finally decided to go off.  It was slower and quieter than a smoke alarm normally is, but I attributed that to the weak battery.

When my smoke alarm goes off, I've always known that cause and known my house was not burning down, so the response is normally to go get the ladder and climb up the ladder to get to the smoke alarm, and then take out the battery.  So I got as far as climbing up the ladder, but the sound just did not seem to be coming from the smoke alarm, so I left the battery.

I think there is a lost snowy tree cricket in my house.

Still trying to figure it out

Saturday and Sunday tired.  Tried to force myself to avoid fiction and do chores.  But nonetheless spent lots of time on fiction and rest.  Monday took a sick day.  No attempt at productivity.  Fiction all day long.  It was good for me.  I felt better Tuesday.

Wednesday tai chi class and Morris dance practice.  They were fun.  I like to go out and do things -- talk to people, move, dance, sing.  I don't like working at home alone on the computer.

Tuesday conclusion: good to spend time home resting
Wednesday conclusion: want to go out and be engaged

Sounds contradictory.  But maybe not.  Maybe it's simple.  Maybe the answer is I need some of both.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


"You have holes in your shoes," observed my friend.

"They're called sandals," I replied.

Yes, they were actual sandals, not just old worn shoes that I was calling sandals because of the holes.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Facing fears

Today I was sick.

Life of dragging myself to work.  Life of dragging myself to chores.  Life of trying to avoid fiction.

Today, none of that.

Today, stayed home and indulged in fiction all day long.

I think it was good for me.

There are times when I push myself to do something I don't feel like doing and I feel better when I do it.  So usually I try to push myself.

That's always the problem, knowing when to push and when not to.

Today I went with the not to.

I finished off a novel I started yesterday.

Then I spent most of the day in Buffy.  Over the past few years, I've been re-watching from beginning to end.  Saturday I started season 7.  Today I did a lot more of season 7.

From "Bring on the Night"
I'm beyond tired. I'm beyond scared. I'm standing on the mouth of hell, and it is gonna swallow me whole. And it'll choke on me... I'm done waiting....From now on, we won't just face our worst fears, we will seek them out. We will find them, and cut out their hearts one by one.
What are my worst fears? Job interviews.  Phone calls.  Unemployment.  Having no one to help me.  We survive by depending on a combination of money and help from others.  Some rely more heavily on one than the other, but we all depend on both.  And I am afraid of not having them.  My job is going badly.  My family wants to be there for me, but I can't really see myself living with any of them if I became unable to pay rent.

But more than that terrifies me, what terrifies me are the things I have to do to get a new job.  I know deep in my soul that no one wants me, so it is torture to have to keep putting myself out there for rejection.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Trying to understand depression

What happened to me yesterday? It happens regularly.  Not every week.  Maybe a few times a month.  It depends.  Sometimes there are phases when it happens a lot, and sometimes phases when it doesn't happen for a while.  It's getting hit with depression.  I'm always trying to figure out how to prevent or alleviate such incidents, but I haven't really figured it out yet.

Usually it's on a Saturday when I have nothing scheduled.  So I have some sense that I should keep busy, should fill my life with events, to prevent it from happening.

But, I also have a sense that it comes from fatigue, and that I need to rest.  Partly it's physical fatigue.  The other part is fatigue from a life of trying to live up to the demands of others.  So I want rest, and I want to indulge in doing what I want, rather than what I'm supposed to do.

Yesterday I started out the day setting up a spreadsheet for tracking my expenses.  So it started with productivity.  But that was the extent of my productivity.

After having breakfast and getting dressed, I figured I would read nonfiction.  Reading because I want to indulge in something that I wanted to do, that wasn't a chore.  Nonfiction because I try to avoid fiction because I think it makes depression worse.

I took up one book, but was already near the end of it.  I finished that one and sought another.  I saw a number of unappealing books on the shelf.  Then I chose Boldly Live as You've Never Lived Before.  It's about how Star Trek characters are hero archetypes that can inspire you.  I read a little bit, but what struck me was that I'd rather be inspired by Buffy characters.  So, I went to watch Buffy DVDs.

I don't think it  made me depressed.  I was already depressed.  Watching them left me the same or slightly better.

Today was fairly similar.  I started off thinking I would be productive today.  I had breakfast.  Then I took a nap.  I did a little ironing, and thought I'd get a lot done today.  But somehow I ended up reading fiction.

I am indeed tired.

But I don't think that's all.  I think there are things looming that I don't want to face.  I think fiction is an escape.

If I didn't have anything looming, would I instead spend my time going for a walk, rather than escaping into fiction?

What if I decided reading fiction is how I want to spend my time? Instead of trying to resist it.


In my dream just before I woke up this morning, my friends were in a band and sat down to play.  I sat down to watch them, because I was the only one in the group of friends without musical ability.  But it turned out there was another person.  I did not know him before, but he was in the same circle of friends. He too was watching, sitting next to me.  There was a cat on my lap.  I was petting the cat.  After a while, I gave the cat to him.  And we touched each other and fell in love. I put my hand out and he took it and held my hand.  I felt enveloped in warmth and love.

It's something that is missing from my life, and maybe creating it in my imagination can help give me a centeredness that will help me get through.  It's not romance necessarily that I need.  It's being accepted, valued, loved, and secure.

I got up, used the computer, had breakfeast (including caffeine tea), and then fell asleep.  Weekends I often fall asleep right after caffeine, as well as right after breakfast.

This time I slept in the living room.  The living room windows are on the east side and it was morning, so I slept in a patch of warm sun.  Groggily, I thought, "It's late enough in the day that when I wake up, I can put on my pajamas."  Then I woke up enough to realize that 1) it was morning, and 2) I was still wearing pajamas.

What my sister likes to do

My sister was ironing iron-on letters onto clothes.

Contentedly, she said, "This is what I like to do! People should pay me to do this more often!"

Surprised, I blurted out, "Ironing?"

"No," she said.  "Creating things."

Friday, September 26, 2014

Standing up for what is right

Tonight I listened to This American Life.  The episode was 536: The Secret Recordings of Carmen Segarra. The story is also available at ProPublica.   What struck me is that the people she worked for her told her that she was wrong, but she stuck to it.  She had confidence in her own perceptions, analysis, and conclusions.  I admire that.

It seems to me that I spend a great deal of my life telling myself that things are okay just because other people insisted they are okay.  It started in 2006, when I told my doctor I did not feel well and she said I was fine.  I have been feeling okay the past few years.  Now it is about other things.

I tell people I don't like my job and they tell me I am lucky to have my job.

At my job, I say that the stuff we have to put up with is wrong, and my boss acknowledges some of the wrong aspects of it, but basically we still have to conform to it.  The person in power gets to decide what the rules are, even if his interpretation is different from the actual written rules.

And then the things I'm involved in outside my job -- the time bank, the radio station, and Morris dance -- are poorly run, but I just bend over backwards trying to work with people.

And in general, the world is not right.  Poverty, the criminal justice system, education -- they are not right.  But I can't fix them.  So I just try to find a way to live with the non-rightness.

Carment Segarra did not try to live with the not-rightness.

She lost her job as a result.

I admire her.

Head in the sand

The past few months,
The past few weeks,
I feel like something's bothering me

It didn't used to be like this.
I used to know.
I used to know what was in my heart, my mind.
If something bothered me
The thing that was bothering me was on my mind.

Now there's this feeling in the background
Something bothering me.
Even when my mind doesn't remember what it is.

When I think about it, usually I remember.

Never could I imagine
In those days
I could  not see
How anyone could not know what was bothering them
How anyone could miss it
But now there it is

I used to be calm
I used to be perceptive
I used to be a deep thinker
I used to live a healthy life
Physically, emotionally

Now I know those things are not innate
If you stop doing them
Then you don't remain

I walk through doing what I have to do
Then I go home and get lost on Facebook

Don't want to think of it
It's terrifying if I think of it
I can't live with my job
I can't live without my job
No one else wants to hire me
There's no way out of this mess

I wish this world had sabbatical
A way to have some space to find a way
But we can't stop
Can't stop running in the wheel
Because the only way out
Is to dive into unemployment and homelessness

I can't live like this
So escape
Read a book, watch a movie, play a computer game
Numb my soul

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Need to be rooted

Past two years I've been thinking about quitting my activities.  Maybe it's not about what to quit.  Maybe it's about how to be present in what I do, how to choose rather than be buffeted about.

Two woman I know come across as whiny.  They are overwhelmed.  So much pressure on them.
Three men I know are the opposite.  They say okay, this is the problem, this is what we're going to do about it.  In particular, today I saw one of them approaching the bureaucracy at my job that way.  I get frustrated about it.  But they are just like okay, what do I have to do, and they do it.

I was like that Monday.  Not at my job.  Not about  my life.  But when I needed to help someone else, I didn't agonize and fret. I just went forward, finding out what I needed to do and doing it.  Patiently facing each step of bureaucracy.

On Saturday, I was part of an event that was not well organized.  The woman who organized it was overwhelmed, not enough time to do everything that should have been done.  I know what that's like.  That's what I'm always like.  But she should not have held the event if she couldn't pull it off.  People invested time and money into participating.  They counted on the organizer to pull it off, and she failed.  We wasted time and money as a result.

A man I work with is constantly frustrated with another man we work with, someone who says he will do things and then does not do them because he has too many things to do.

So we need to just say okay, this is what I can do, and this is what I can't do, so I'm not going to do it.

And Morris dancing.  I am often frustrated about how my group is run.  I'm frustrated that the teacher does not teach in a way that I can learn from.  I am frustrated that the organizer does not welcome input from new people.  I am frustrated that we are not a good team, that we are just stagnant, we're not learning to be better.

But it is what it is.  I say okay, this is the Morris team that exists in the area where I live.  I'll deal with it, just like the guy I talked to today deals with bureaucracy.

I can't control anything but myself.  The world is what it is.  I make choices about how I'm going to deal with it.  I can decide I want to do Morris dancing, and I can be assertive about trying to get what I want out of it, trying to shift the team more toward what I want, but there's only so far that can take me.  Beyond that, I just have to live with what is.

In any sort of dance or exercise class out in the world, I am klutzy.  I am not rooted in my body.  I try to put my body into the positions demanded by the instructor, even though it is not the way my body wants to go.

When I am home alone, I feel at home inside my skin.

And I think that's what I'm looking for.  Not just the physical, but just to be rooted in myself.  Instead, I go through life trying to conform to the demands of the world around me.  Instead of trying to fit the world, and being frustrated that the world is not what I want it to be, I need to walk calmly through the world, saying this is what I am, and this is what the world is, so what do we do next/

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Casting about

From What Should I Do With My Life by Po Bronson: "They did not find some Single Perfect Answer to the question; at some point it felt right enough that they made their choice, and the energy formerly spent casting about was now devoted to making their choice fruitful for as long as it might last."

That's the experience I had 20 years ago. I was casting about, jobhunting.  When I finally found a  job, it was such a relief to just sit down and live.  But now for years I have been casting again.  I've been jobhunting, but also, I'm casting with my activities.  I have the urge to join things right and left, even though I am doing too many things.  I want to just settle.  To make choices about my activities, to do few enough that I can really get involved in one, and develop in that area.  Instead, I can't quite put enough time into any of them, so I don't get what I want out of any of them.


I had a lot of dreams last night.  What that really means is  I woke up a lot.  Because I only remember if I wake up right after.  I dreamed about the phantom of the opera, trees, my cousin, my other cousin, my cousins again, and playing bass.

Phantom of the opera: I don't remember very well.  I was a performer, and I had a phantom to help me.  But in the Phantom of the Opera,  it was like a guy hiding behind the walls.  This was more like an actual phantom.  I think I was dancing, and he kind of got inside my body and moved me.  I was glad because I wanted to be able to perform.

Trees: I was at my mother's house, and the leaves had very few leaves on them.  I said, "It's not because it's spring and they haven't come out yet.  It's July.  They should be out."  I was upset.  It seemed to be caused by some human thing, like pollution/climate change.

Cousins: It seems to me that I had a dream that told about my cousin's career or education.  Then I woke up.  Then I went back to sleep and had a dream about her brother.  Then I woke up.  I tried to remember that dream by reviewing it.  Then I was having a dream that I was reviewing it.  I was at my mother's house, where my cousins, their father, and other relatives were gathered.  I told them the story of the dream I had about my cousin.  It was time for them to go, and I was finishing the story about the dream as we were walking them out to their cars.  I was kind of hurrying to finish up telling before they left.  I didn't have time to tell the dream about his sister.  Now I don't remember a thing about the dream about his sister, and I'm not totally sure if I had the dream or just dreamed that I had had one about her that I also wanted to tell.  But it seems to me that I had one.  It seems to me that I remember knowing that when I was awake, before I had the dream about telling the dream about her brother.

Anyway, a few more things about the dream about telling them the dream: We were in the living room at my mother's house, but when we went out to walk them to their cars, it was not like the front yard at my mother's house.  It was flat, and you walk straight ahead for a while, and then you get to the road, and the cars were parked along the side of the road.  It wasn't a city place, with sidewalks and cars parked on the street. It was a country place, where cars pull partly onto the grass when they park on the road.

There was a girl already in a car, and I had some concern, I think that we shouldn't surprise or scare her when we came up to her.  I think that some other relative had a mischievous scheme.

So the dream about my cousin that I first had, then re-told in the subsequent dream:  It seemed to be long and detailed, but I don't remember that many details now.  He went to college.  A friend from high school went to the same college.  The dream seemed to cover details about what great achievements he had in college.  I think he originally intended to major in one thing, and then decided to major in political science.  Then he went to graduate school for a PhD, but did not like it and left after one year.

Playing bass: We were at a place, like a store.  People were going to play music instruments.  Last time, I had played bass.  I didn't know how, so I had just played random notes.  Someone asked why I wasn't playing this time.  The reason was because there were real musicians this time.

Also at some point in the dreams, I was looking online for my high school yearbook, but it was missing.  It was like there was a listing for my high school, but my year was missing.  Then I did a search for the name of one of my classmates.  (Someone I have been in touch with on Facebook recently, but was not close to in high school.)  I got a result.  It said it was for British Columbia.  I looked through it, and all the people in it were my classmates.  So it had just been mis-labeled.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

A good day

It seems like today was the first time in a long time that I've had a day of my own.  Weekdays, I've been working long hours, so I've been kind of exhausted on weekends.  Last weekend, I had social events both Saturday and Sunday. The week before was my radio show.  The week before was car shopping.  The week before was more car shopping and a time bank meeting.  The week before was a time bank picnic and a radio show. But today was all my own.  And it's a three day weekend, and all three days are all my own, except for one hour of giving my friend a ride.

Today I did laundry and got groceries and went for a walk.  It has been a long time since I went for a walk.  Was the last time when my aunt visited in June?  When was the last time I went for a walk on my own? I think I remember one in the winter.  Any since then? I used to go for walks every week.

The weather was superb today. It will rain Sunday and Monday, so it's good I got my walk in, and that I have indoor chores to work on in the coming days.

I had been stressed out about my situation.  Stressed out about:

  • I have to get a new job but I don't know what kind of job to get.
  • I have to get a new job but I never have time for jobhunting.
  • Even if I did apply for jobs, I wouldn't get them, so I'm stuck with my job, and my job bugs me.  It bugs me that the past few months there are people implying that I don't work hard, don't know what I'm doing, and don't work efficiently.  
  • I need more free time, because I need more time for chores, walks, sleeping, cooking, etc.  But in order to get more free time, I would have to quit one of my activities, and I don't want to.
Today I read some job postings.  Today I felt like I had a plan.  I'm going to apply for registrar jobs.  It think I can be comfortable earning a living that way.  Meanwhile, what seems really interesting is oral history.  I'm going to apply for an oral history job, but that's a long shot.  What I'm also going to try to do is volunteer to do oral history.  Working as a registrar and volunteering to do oral history.  That's a plan I can live with.  In my imagination, I get the registrar job here in the city where I live now. Of course it's not so simple.  But when I imagine that, it seems like there's a future that would be okay for me.  Yesterday, I don't think I could see a future that would be okay.

So my to do list for tomorrow and Monday:
  1. Apply for the jobs I found posted today.
  2. Check for more postings.
  3. Looking into oral history volunteering.
  4. Pay bills.
  5. Financial management. Figure out budget, and how to move accounts around.
  6. Sort clutter.
  7. Clean house.
  8. Iron clothes.
There are also several other things, but those are the main things.  

Today, I hung laundry on the porch.

Today it was very windy.

Usually I hang some things on hangers and some with clothespins.

Today was too windy for hangers.

Today was so windy that the two things hanging on my porch fell down -- a plant, and a decorative thing.  

Today was sunny, warm, not to hot.  Blue sky.  Glittering sunshine.  A superb day.  

When I was a kid, teeanger, and young adult, on days like today, I wanted to be in the woods or at the ocean, but I could not go because I had not car, and the people I lived with did not want to take me.

Now I have a car.  Today I drove to a park by a river, and took a walk and saw the sunlight shimmering on the river.

A good day.  

Friday, August 29, 2014

Incompetent unless proven otherwise

At my job I always work long hours in August.  I've told people months in advance that I can't do the activities they propose if they will take place in August.

Yesterday evening as I sat working in my office, it struck me that I don't mind being here.  I like what I'm doing.

But what upsets me about my  job is people implying that I'm not working hard, that I don't know what I am doing, that I'm not efficient.

And at Morris dance, it upsets my that the organizer shuts out people who want to be involved, and that the teacher can't teach.

But the thing is, that's what human endeavors are like.  Fellow humans never behave the way we'd like them to.  Part of life is accepting that and rolling with it.

But there are also times when the situation is wrong, and the best thing you can do is walk away.

Article from the New Republic about what transgender people learn from the experience of changing genders: female to male, you get treated better.  Male to female, you get treated worse.  Article says, “men are assumed to be competent until proven otherwise, whereas a woman is assumed to be incompetent until she proves otherwise.”

It hit me today because that's how I feel at my job.  Like they assume I'm not competent.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Media sensation

In my Facebook news feed, an article published by GQ a few days ago.  I think it might be for what is called the September issue, though it is not yet September.  The article was about Christopher Knight, the North Pond Hermit.  After seeing the article, I looked for other articles about him.  Some were not so sympathetic.  Some called his living conditions "squalid."

They say things like that to make it sound shocking, because if they make it sound shocking, they make more money.

He never wanted to be a media sensation.  A very private person has his life put on display for the profit of the media.  It's obscene.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


A few nights ago I had a dream that was inspired by both my car shopping and my upcoming high school reunion (I had recently seen some Facebook posts about the reunion.)  I dreamed that I was at the reunion, and the it was a lecture given by the valedictorian.  [My high school valedictorian is now my Facebook friend, and someone I like.]  In the dream, I did not see the valedictorian.  What I remember is sitting in the seat, feeling really good because I had just heard a great speech.  Then it was over and everyone went out to the parking garage.  There were some people who I did not know who were getting into their car.  I said, "Hey, is that a Chevy Cobalt? Can I sit inside for a minute and see how it feels?"

Then I was sitting in the back seat, and the two people who came in that car were in the front seats.  It was a two door car.  They started driving away.  I said, "Hey, I want to get out!"  But because it was a two door car, I could not get out unless one of them got out, and they did not get out, so I was trapped.

Then last night I dreamed I was going back to my college.  There is a long campus road leading into campus.  Along the road are houses occupied by the college president and other administrators and faculty.  Apparently I was going to start a job there, because I was thinking about whether I could live in one of those houses.

I was with my sister.  We saw someone walking along.  She looked familiar to me, and I looked familiar to her.  We thought that perhaps she had taught one of the classes I had taken, and we were trying to figure out which one.  "Did you take any political science?" she asked.  I told her that I graduated in 1988 and that I had taken two multidisciplinary courses at a neighboring school  that were partly political science.

We were in a room and there was a shelf with senior theses on it.  Mine was there, and I was surprised to see that it was about education.  I thought I had majored in psychology.  My college did not have an education major, so people who majored in education only did so as a self-designed major.  I was the only education major my year, and there wasn't one the year after, so the thesis next to mine was from the next education major, who was in the class of 1990.  It was my sister, and her thesis was on the philosophy of education.  [My sister is 17 years younger than me and did not go to college.]

Later, I dreamed that I was working on an Excel spreadsheet and I clicked on a cell that it did not make sense to click on.  It was like I was in a daze.  Excel recognized the lack of sense behind my actions, and a message box popped up that said, "Are you ok?"

Low hanging fruit

I think I have written about this before.  It made an impression on me.  I'm still trying to figure out how it applies to my life.  A professor speaking at an orientation for new PhD students gave them advice about choosing which topic to research.  He used a metaphor of low hanging fruits, which are easy to pick from the tree.  He said that people are different.  What is easy for you is hard for someone else, and vice versa.  Students feel that they ought to choose a hard topic.  He advised them to choose a topic that is easy for them, and let the topic that is hard for them be done by someone who finds it easy.

The things that have always come easy for me are observing people and writing.

The things I've always tried to do, but never succeed at are dancing and data analysis.

I wrote some as a younger kid, but it was when I was about 13 that I started writing all the time.  Then it was journals, letters, and stories.  Fiction writing last only until I was about 22.  As technologies changed, journals and letters became e-mails, blog posts, and Facebook posts.  Even when I am not actually writing, my mind is always writing.  As I got through life, my brain is putting together words, writing about my experiences and ideas.

Observing people
In elementary school, I told my mother about who all the kids in my class were.  I might draw a seating chart showing where each one sat, and then described the personalities of each kid.

In high school, there were two named social groups, preppies and burnouts.  I noticed that not everyone fit into those groups.  I thought about the rest of the people, decided what the other groups were, and made up names and descriptions for each of the other groups.

Now, in Morris dancing, I made an effort to learn how the dances go, and my mind knows that pretty well, even though my feet don't.  But what my mind latches onto without any effort is the people stuff.  Who is friends with whom.  Who gets annoyed by whom.  Who likes or dislikes which dance.  Who likes to dance which position in each dance.  Who is good or bad at which part of each dance.

When I was little, about 4, 5, or 6, a group of young people in their teens and 20s, including my parents, gathered round listening to a rock band.  I was so inspired that I got up and spun round and round.  When I was done and plopped down, the adults applauded me.  I've tried  ballet, jazz dance, modern dance, swing dance, ballroom dance, Afro-Caribbean dance, contra dance, and square dance but all went so badly that I did not stay with them very long.  I've stayed with Morris dance for more than two years now, but that too goes badly and I'm not sure how much longer I will stay with it.  I've had more success with kinds of dance that are more about exercise -- I took aerobic dance classes for many years, and then when that was no longer a thing that was offered everywhere, I took Nia for several years until the teacher quit. Now I'm doing tai chi, which to me is just a very slow sort of dance.

Though formal styles of dance have not worked out well for me, all my life, I have danced around my house.  In fact, that is a criterion for choosing a place to live.  My apartment is on the second floor, but it is above an office that is mostly not used evenings and weekends.  Therefore there is no one to complain about the noise if I dance around.

Data analysis
My interest in data analysis started when I was in college.  I chose psychology rather than sociology as my major because at my particular college, psychology was more oriented toward research and statistics than sociology was.

As I finished college, I applied for many research jobs.  I did not get any.  I got an administrative assistant job.  I mostly did not like it, but one thing that I did like about it was working with databases.

Then I went on for a Master's in Social Work because my goal was to do research on how to solve social problems.  I had seen a homeless person provided with an apartment lose that apartment because he invited over a lot of rowdy friends who damaged the apartment.  It seems like commons sense that giving someone housing would be a good way to solve homelessness, but in this case, common sense was wrong.  I wanted to do research to find out what actually worked, so that people who tried to fix things could do so in ways that would actually work.

I generally enjoyed my studies, both the research and statistics parts, and the other parts, learning about people and social problems.  As I came to the end of my studies, I started applying for research jobs.   I applied for many jobs.  I did  not get any research jobs.  Finally I got a job.  One of the things that I liked best about it was working with databases.

And now here I am, many years later still in that job.  In that time, I've taken courses in web design, computer science, statistics, and institutional research.  Somehow, those courses never quite took.  I mean, I learned some things, but then I felt like this is as far as I want to go with these things.

That's like what happened with the dancing.  I've taken dance classes, but then I get to a point where I feel like I don't want to go any further.

I've never stopped writing and I've never stopped observing people.  I've never really wanted to take classes in writing, and never especially liked the English classes I was required to take for school.  I'm a factual writer.  I don't write fiction or poetry.  I don't write promotional materials.  I can write procedure manuals, policy guidelines, job descriptions, reports, and meeting minutes.  Some of those may be kind of boring to write however.

As for observing people, I have enjoyed the classes I've taken in social sciences.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Trying to let go

I composed an email resigning from my radio show.  I didn't send it yet.  It's hard to let go.

I want to do my radio show. It's just that there are other things I want to do more that are not getting done.

It feels like when I broke up with my boyfriend of 10 and a half years.  I could not imagine life without him.  But I wanted to create space in my life to grow.

That worked well.  I did find space to grow.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Choosing how to spend my time

Maybe I'm getting ready to let go.

Radio show.  Time bank.  Morris dance. My activities for the past two years.  Feeling like it's too much.  Not wanting to let go of any of them.

Each one fills a different niche.  They complement each other.

But instead of thinking of what I value about them, I think about what I could do if I opened up more time in my life.

The radio show will be the first to go.  The Morris dance might have to go too.  The time bank is staying.

What I want to do:

  • Dance and movement: tai chi, Nia, free dance, learn various kinds of dance.  
  • Music: learn to play musical instruments and sing.
  • Spend time outdoors: sit on my balcony, go for walks, possibly snowshoeing, kayaking, and cross country skiing.  Sit on rocks beside the ocean.  
  • Be part of a community with people who share my values:  time bank, transition group, UU congregation, and food co-op.
  •  Spend time with family, especially my niece and nephew because they are little, and I think when people are little, we need to see them more often, because time is different for them.
  • Read, write, compile photos, etc.
  • In addition to having free time to read, write, and compile whatever I feel like doing at the time. I also want to accomplish some things.  I want to write three books: one on my family history, one that is my autobiography, and one that is a compilation of nature photos showing the changing of the seasons. 
  •  Live in a solar house.  
  • Spiritual: meditation, ritual, Dances of Universal Peace, tai chi, OBOD, UU, time outdoors. 
  • I do not like doing chores, but I want to have a system in place so that without too much effort, I can get things taken care of with regard to food, clothing, finances, housing, transportation, and health.  I want my home to be a spiritual refuge, free of clutter and decorated in a way that I like.  
  • I want to have sufficient financial resources to maintain food, clothing, finances, housing, transportation, and health.  This presumably will require a job.  
What I want from a job:
  • Focus on integrity and quality rather than on profit-seeking.
  • Comfortable environment, including free of bullying, and able to dress comfortably.  
  • Work that is not unpleasant to do.
  • Work that does not go against my values.   
My immediate concern is that the summer is slipping by, and I want to spend more time outdoors before it goes.  I can think of two ways to do that.  One is to go to a Labor Day weekend event that is happening around here that involves camping out.  The other is to take some vacation time and spend it going to the ocean.  

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Simple living is not having it all

Living simply means you can't have it all.

Summer 2010 I became a druid.  Meditation.  Tai chi.  Nature observation.

Winter/spring 2012 I joined the time bank and Morris dancing.

No more time for meditation, tai chi, nature observation.

I want them back in my life.

The only way to get them back is to give something up.

I do the things I do because I want to do them.

I can't do everything I want to do.

I have to make choices.

The decline of do-it-yourself

The trend these days is that cars don't come with spare tires.  It's because if you get a flat, you call for road service.

Just one more way that our culture is moving toward buying everything you need instead of creating things you need yourself.

The transition movement counters this.  I like the transition movement philosophically.

But putting it in practice is another matter.  Exhausted from work, I'd rather buy prepared food than prepare food myself.  When I first got a car, I took a car repair class.  I wanted to at know how to put in coolant if the coolant was low, things like that.  But over time, I've gotten less and less interested in being able to do it myself.  It's hard, and I have not time and energy.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

My latest cure for depression

Three months ago I was considering getting a stuffed animal so I would have something to hug when I was feeling down.  But since then I've taken a different tack. I realized that I get depressed when trying to return to reality from a fictional world (DVD or book), so I have not been visiting any fictional worlds.  So far it seems to work.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Customer service

At the co-op orientation, they showed a video on customer service.  One of the things that was mentioned was that you should talk to each customer as an individual.  We all know that we hate when company representatives try to talk to us by reading from a script.  What I don't know is why companies keep doing that.  I mean, if you know the first thing about customer service, you know what a huge turnoff it is, so why would you require that your employees do it?


I joined the AODA 4 years ago, and I saw right away how into censorship they are.  I figured I would bear with them for a while, see what I could learn.  No group will be everything I want them to be, but they might still have something to offer.  In my first two years, I completed the First Degree curriculum.  In the second two years, I've been making some strides toward the Second Degree curriculum, but I haven't been going at it full-time like I did with the First Degree.  I thought that at some point I would be ready to buckle down and really focus on the Second Degree.  Possibly when I have fewer other things going on.

But today I saw another instance of censorship.  It was so ridiculous, so stupid. Basically, someone can use a phrase, and wonder about what it means, but they can't post a link to the history of the phrase, because the phrase was used by pacifists.  The AODA thinks that is political.  A while ago I asked if peacemaking could be considered an area of study in AODA.  My question was censored.  I received a private message saying that AODA druids don't talk about peacemaking because that's politics.  Apparently this is such a controversial question that it cannot even be asked and answered in a public AODA forum.

Also, we cannot discuss anything about healing, because that could be construed as giving medical advice.

I don't think I can continue with the AODA.  It is against my conscience to squash an article about history because there were different political sides existing in history.  That is not druidry.  Druidry is about learning.  It is about exploring knowledge, not about hiding knowledge from view.

I am a druid.  I want to be in community with other druids.  Maybe I'll try OBOD.  But maybe not now, when I'm already involved in more things than I can handle.  I also want to get involved in UUism.  The advantage of UUism is that it would be an in-person spiritual community.  UUs believe in what I believe in, but they come to it from a lot of different traditions.  I want fellowship with people who are specifically pantheist druids.  I am finding that the pantheist is perhaps more important than the druid.  I find that many druids who identify as pagan really aren't the same as me.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


For a long time I've been meaning to join the food co-op.  Today I went to the orientation.  I was struck by the similarities to our time bank.  In both cases, people earn hours for working.  A difference is that the food co-op also has paid staff.  The food co-op has really taken off, it's huge.  There are 13,000 members, including 1,300 working members.  There are 200 paid employees, many of whom have chosen to become members.

In the time bank, I think a lot of the reason we are floundering is because we do not have paid staff.  People are busy, and the time bank is at the bottom of the priority list.

For the orientation, one of the founding members talked about the history and philosophy.  He said that nowadays, fewer co-ops have member-workers.  People just want to pay to join, and get a discount.  They don't want to put time into it.

One reason I am joining is because I think that's one of my passions, to work with people to create a community around common values.

I have this ongoing struggle to figure out how to earn a living.  I don't have a clear sense that this will lead to a paying job, but I do have a sense that getting involved in this sort of thing is something I want to do, and maybe if I follow my nose, it will become clearer.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Tricking myself

Me: I tricked myself into going rollerblading.
My friend: You told yourself you were going out for ice cream, and you went rollerblading instead?
Me: Exactly.  Except, I did go for ice cream.  Before I went, I put the rollerblading stuff in the trunk, telling myself it was just in case.

It's nice the my friend knows me so well.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Second flight of imagination: science fiction turns to romance

After being awake for three hours stewing about the job market, I went back to sleep.  I dreamed of a guy I used to know.  A guy I found attractive because he was so intelligent and kind and easygoing, even though he was really not my type, either in terms of philosophy and values, or in terms of physical attributes I usually find attractive.

He used to be my coworker, but that was some years ago.  In my dream, he came back to my workplace.  He looked older, and somehow deeper, wiser, calmer.  I was instantly attracted to what he had become.  Then he told us about what had happened in the years since he had left our workplace.  He had been working for something like the CIA.  He was good with technology and computer programming, and he had found a way to program himself to have all the abilities his new employer wanted.  It was like he had all kinds of mental and physical superpowers.  Now, because he had these powers, he was extremely valuable to his employer, and his employer would not let him go.  He came back to us for help breaking away from his new employer.  We loved him and were committed to helping him.  We came up with the plan that we would get a certain powerful person to help him.  She was going to be giving a public forum, and we would get him in and get him the opportunity to ask for her help during the public forum.  Apparently it was a fairly elaborate plan that involved us wearing various costumes and acting in certain ways.

So it worked, in that he got to ask for her help.  But then it didn't work because she declined to help.  So then there we were, standing around the lobby feeling morose because that had been our only hope and we didn't know anything else we could do.

Then he was kissing me, a long kiss, and as did so, his superpowers were flowing to me.  And he transferred his powers to each of us.  We had failed at being able to get his superpowers removed, but when we all had the superpowers, then together we were better able to defend against those who wanted to exploit the powers.

There was always a group of people involved in helping him. Who else was involved in that group was sort of fuzzy prior to the kiss.  But after the kiss, I became aware that we were all young women, and he didn't love any one more than the others.  I was a bit sad not be the only love interest, but the bigger thing was how much I loved him.

As I woke up, I recalled that yesterday I was talking to my grandmother.  She was talking about how people used to get married young, and how it's good that people wait now.  Then she asked, "Are you waiting?" And I said no.  I just don't think about romance much any more.  I don't really want it any more, not if it's going to interfere with my own living up to my potential.  Because now I am really discovering who I am in ways that I didn't when I was with someone, and devoted to who he was.  I didn't explain all that to my grandma, but I told her that I was too busy enjoying life, and she thought that was good.

But then that dream, that kiss, how sweet it was, to just open myself up, to give myself entirely to someone.

And then, as I lay awake, I thought of  three other guys who, like the guy the dream was based on, I loved and was attracted to, but who have totally different values, and so our paths have diverged.  And I thought of how much of my life, I was surrounded by people who did not share my values.  I just had nothing in common with people in my hometown.  People at college had so much more in common with me, and it was so great to be there and be able to be a part of the community with everyone else.  But then, the people I was friends with in my 30s were even more like me.  They were playful outdoorsy people.  How could I have even thought I fit in with those college people, so many wealthy city people?  And now, I have found people  who are into sustainable living and folk music.  My friends in my 30's didn't understand these things that are so much a part of who I am.  Will my 50's bring even better?

Your worth is not measured by your ability to get a job

Wke up 3am.
Couldn't sleep.
Swirl of thoughts
envy for people who can get jobs
someone said that because she has a specialized skill, only a small number of jobs are available to her.
said she would have more options if she worked in retail or fast food.
for most people those aren't options.
my friend she has a master's degree
she had a good job for a while
a dream job
but jobs in that field fizzled up
for years she has had a part-time job selling mattresses at Sears
no, it's not that she has a lot of options because she works in retail.
She works in retail because she has no other options.
A person with a PhD works as a doorman.

When I was a senior in college, I applied for many jobs.  Got no offers before graduation.  Finally got my first offer four months later.  Took it.  Had no options.

Two years later, my friend graduated.  He did not apply for nearly as  many jobs as I did.  At the time of graduation, he had three offers.  He chose the one he liked best.

We were both smart. We were both hard-working.  We had had summer jobs on campus at our college.  We had not had a lot of extracurricular involvement.  We were the same.

Except two things.
One.  We both majored in what we liked, but what he liked was valued more in the job market.
Two. He was more outgoing. Outgoing people tend to make better impressions in interviews.

It's foolish, the way the economy values certain skills, and people end up thinking those people are more skilled, better people and the people who are unemployed and underemployed must not be working hard enough at jobhunting.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

This is my life

This is my life. I don't know how long it will be.  At best, it's probably nearly half done.  Even if it lasts, I could lose something -- my vision, my mobility, anything.  This is my life, this moment right here.  How do I want to spend it?  I think by sitting on my balcony on this beautiful day, gazing at blue sky and at green leaves fluttering in the breeze.

Tai chi

I took tai chi early in my druid studies, July 2010-April 2011.  I took it to fulfill a requirement for the AODA curriculum.  At that we had to choose one from a list of areas of study.  One area of study was healing, and one of the requirements was to study a healing art.  I chose tai chi as my healing art.  In December 2010, the AODA curriculum changed, and allowed greater freedom for choosing an area of study.   It  required that we spend at least 20 hours studying our chosen area.  I had already spent more than 20 hours on tai chi.  I did continue with tai chi at that time, but that when we got to the end of the 24 forms, I chose to quit.  I think one of the things that bothered me was that the teacher seemed annoyed at me for not being better at it.  I didn't really feeling paying someone to act annoyed at me.

This summer, they started offering tai chi on lunch hour at my workplace.  I have been to two classes so far.  So far, so good.  I have also been feeling very healthy the past few weeks.  It is possible that the tai chi is the reason, but it seems unlikely that such a small amount of tai chi would have sudden and dramatic effects, especially since it did not have that effect when I was doing it before.

The renewal of my tai chi practice inspired me to take another look at a book I bought when I started tai chi a few years ago, Tai Chi for Beginners and the 24 Forms by Paul Lam and Nancy Kaye.  Much of what I see in the book is like druidry, but there are also places where I feel a sense of cultural incompatibility.  The stories that don't resonate with me culturally:
Chen Fa-ke was sickly and weak as a child....Chen was supposed to be learning too, but he didn't.  He was either too lazy or just not interested...Chen's physical weakness had become an embarrassment to him....Chen used every available minute to practise....Chen had done all the hard work on his own.
Chen style was not taught to outsiders.  But Yang was so eager to learn that he pretended to be a starving beggar and....was then taken in and accepted as a servant in the Chen household....Yang would peer through a crack in the wall to watch Chen-style tai chi practice, and then practise in secret....In those days, Yang could have been legally executed for such and act....Yang Lu-chan remains an extreme example of how one can become so addicted to tai chi that one is willing to risk one's life.
What bothers me in these stories is that they are trying to teach the lesson that you can do anything if you are really dedicated and work really hard at it.  To me, these particular stories have a distinctly Chinese flavor to them.  In American culture, we have a similar idea, it just has a different flavor.  In Chinese culture, it seems there is more of an emphasis on dedicated study, while in American culture, there is more emphasis on bold risk-taking, but either way, I don't like it when cultures perpetuate the idea that you can do anything you want if you try hard enough.  That's demeaning for the people who actually can't do something.

Now, what are the things I did like in the book, things that sounded to me much like druidry?  Meditation is part of druidry, and tai chi is a form of meditation.  Both tai chi and meditation include consciousness of breathing and being present in the moment.  The section in the book on qigong breathing reminded me of druidry's Sphere of Protection.  Both are about standing, doing some basic movements, and feeling the life force within and around you.  The concept of yin and yang in tai chi is like the concept of giamos and samos from The Apple Branch.  Druidry is about seeing the world in a cyclical way, the way the year turns from season to season.  The tai chi book says on page 106:
Nature goes in circles.  Fast complements slow.  Full moon alternates with no moon.  It's in our nature to be stressed and relaxed, depressed and happy, moving fast and slow -- as long as appropriate balance is achieved.

Thursday, June 19, 2014


Watched TV. Got depressed. I should know better.  It's just after working hard all the time, I just want to sink into a fictional world. It's so tempting. But it always makes me depressed.

When I say I watched TV, what I mean is I watched Buffy DVDs. I'm finishing off season 6.  I think this may be only the second time I've watched these episodes.  There are others that I've watched more times.

What I did not remember, what I may have missed the first time, was how Buffy was over-protective of Dawn throughout season 5 and 6, and how that fueled Dawn's rebellious behavior, but in the finale of season 6, Buffy finally sees her way to support Dawn's empowerment.

Season 6 resonates with me.  It's about being stuck being a grownup, there are things that you just have to do, like go to a sucky job, because you have to do it and there's no one to take care of you.  It's about feeling detached from the people around you.  It's about wanting to escape from the hard dreariness of reality.  One time, Buffy is shifting between two realities.  Sometimes she's in her regular world.  Other times she is in a mental hospital, being told that she has schizophrenia, and all that we have seen in the 6 seasons of the show has been part of her delusion.  In that reality, her mother did not die and her parents did not get divorced.  Her parents tell her that they love her and want to take her home and take care of her.  She longs for that reality to be the real one.  That's what I long for too, to have all the bad things go away, to just be loved and taken care of.

When I get lost in a fictional world, whether it's a DVD or a novel, it triggers depression, and what I feel in the depression is that I'm always working so hard, and people are always saying it's not enough.  People always want me to be different.  I long for someone to just say that I'm okay as I am, that I don't have to try to be something else.  That's not as straightforward as it sounds.  I mean, if I am bustling around trying to organize things, I don't want someone to say, "stop working so hard.  I like you anyway."  I want someone to say, "I see you bustling around organizing things, and I like you that way."  I don't want people telling me to cheer up. I want people who can live with my darkness.  That's why I liked Buffy's relationship with Spike.  Because he's not going to tell her to cheer up.

I need another way to cope.  Escaping reality with fiction just makes me miserable.  I need a way to unwind that doesn't make me worse.  I know things that work: music, dance, being outdoors, connecting with other people, being mentally engaged in a task.  But when the time comes when I need something, I have this strong feeling that I don't want to do those things.  But maybe I can have a strong will and do the things that I know will help me even when I don't feel like it.

I found a video on Facebook the other day of a kid singing "My Roots Go Down," a song written by Sarah Pirtle.  I could learn that song and sing it when I'm feeling down.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Finding pantheism

Looking back at old blog posts.  October 4, 2008, I wrote a post called, "What is My Religion?"  I described a pantheist theology, but I did not know there was a word for it.  My first post that mentions pantheism is October 31, 2008.

Around that time, I read a book about paganism.  It mentioned druidry, but not in such a way that I knew druidry was what I was looking for.  It talked like paganism was all about Wicca.  Later, when I started to think that druidry might be my thing, I found some information on druid groups, but the one I ended up joining, AODA was not listed on all the lists.

It takes time sometimes, to find out the name of what you are so you can find others with the same interest.  But now that we have the internet, we can find it so much faster than people could in the past.

More names to meditate on

It is June now.  Before that it was May.  May, June, and April are considered women's names.  They are the only months that are commonly used as human names.  Nearly a year ago, June 15, 2013, I made a list of names to meditate on.  I did meditate on a few, but not many.  I don't regularly meditate any more, but I'm trying to get back to meditation and other druid practices.  As I get back to meditation, I can get back to that list of names to meditate on from last year.  And I can add the names that are months.  At least June and May.  Some how April as a name does not speak to me.  It's just a sense that I could be named May or June, but I would not be named April.  And the other name to also meditate on is Skydancer.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

It's a parade

Parade: people the community wish to honor walk down the street, while people cheer for them.

They have the mayor, city council members, soldiers, veterans, police, firefighters, marching bands, baton twirlers, and flag twirlers.

I think they should have nurses, teachers, social workers, and farmers.  They should have the people who take away our waste for recycling or composting.  They should have the people who teach our kids how to garden and how to fix bicycles.

Saturday, June 7, 2014


A video posted on Facebook.  A group of friends at a place that looks like some sort of exercise room, like a yoga studio.  Everyone is shoeless and dressed for exercise, generally in a t-shirt and sweatpants.  Three of the friends are crouched on the ground, side by side.  The other friends are in a line, taking turns.  Each one runs up to the crouched friends and leaps over them.  They land on their hands and then somersault forward.  At least that's what the first four people do.

The fifth person hesitates.  The person taking the video urges him on.  Finally he takes his turn.

The first four people leaped over the 3 crouched friends and landed beyond them on their hands.  The fifth person lands lying down on top of the 3 crouched friends.

Sometimes I feel bad that I'm so bad at morris dancing.  But you know what, I'm in good company.  That fifth person in the video was my brother.  Being a klutz is in my genes.

And it's not just my relatives who are klutzes.  Some other very fine people are also klutzes.  In fact, the people I like include a disproportionate number of klutzes.  What I like is people who are sincere rather than slick, and that's why I like klutzes.

I'm very fond of my morris dance teacher as a friend, but she's not a great teacher.  I wish I had a different teacher.  But you know what? She's a klutz too! I think that's one reason it's hard to learn from her.  When I watch her movements, it's hard to follow them, because they are klutzy.

But she's the morris dance teacher because she has mastered the dances.  She is a klutz and she has mastered the dances.  That means I can master the dances too.

Plain speaking

I tend to tune out messages meant to manipulate me.  There are a lot of the things on the internet that try to manipulate people into clicking, liking, or sharing by saying things like:

  • What your doctor won't tell you
  • What Obama doesn't want you to know
  • 95% of people can't solve this puzzle.  Share if you can figure it out.
  • Like this post if you care about people with cancer.  Most of my friends won't bother.  
Another type of manipulation is companies that try to get you to buy things by telling you that you are getting a discount.  For example, "The real price of this item is $14.95, but we'll give it to you for $12.95."

No, the real price is $12.95, because that's what you're selling it for.  

Sellers, if you tell me how much you are charging for something, I'll decide if I want to buy it or not.  But if you try to manipulate me into buying it, I'll walk away on principle. If you try to manipulate me into buying something, that tells me that your interest is not in providing me a quality product at a fair price, but rather in manipulating me into buying something, whether I want it or not.

And, people who write things on the internet, if I see something that seems interesting and honest, I'll read it, and if I like what I read, maybe I'll re-post it.  But if I see something that tries to manipulate me into clicking, liking, or sharing, then I will not read it.  

Friday, June 6, 2014

Why fret

You worry too much. You think too much.

Yes, sometimes I do. But the reason why I do is because something is not right.  I don't always know exactly what is not right, or how to fix it, but I know something is not right, so I grapple with it.  I try to figure out what is wrong. I try to figure out what is the solution.  Maybe a lot of the things I come up with are wrong.  Maybe some things that I identify with problems really are okay, so I should stop worrying about them. 

Yes, I know you think I should just appreciate what I have.  But something is not right.  I don't have the diagnosis or the solution, but I need you to trust my instinct that something is not right.

Cats in windows

House with windows close to sidewalks
Blinds closed
Prying eyes must not peep in

Cats don't care about prying eyes
Cat sits between window and blinds
From her throne upon the windowsill
She inspects all who pass along the sidewalk

Pedestrians dare not transgress
For the cat is watching every step

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


I think and I write about my thoughts and I try to figure out what to do with my life and I make a plan and I make a list.

Then I go out morris dancing on a summer evening, and none of that matters.  It's just pure enjoyment.  Life is to be enjoyed.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Seeking a spiritual community from which to change the world

Changing the world sounds all grand and stuff, but the implementation tends to involve a lot of meetings and paperwork and washing of dishes and other not so glamorous stuff.

I understand that.  I don't expect changing the world to be all glamorous.  I can actually be good with meetings and paperwork.

But I do feel there is something missing from some efforts to change the world, and that's a spiritual center.

I mean, it's missing for me.  Some people prefer to change the world in a non-spiritual way.

The college I attended had a spiritual center.  I didn't like it in all ways. The things I didn't like about  my college were mostly ways that individuals didn't all share that spiritual core that was integral to the institution.  I didn't like that some people seemed to just want to go to a reputable college so they could get a high status job afterwards.  I didn't like that some people thought the spiritual core was just about politics, the way that they were outraged about their liberal causes, rather than realizing seeking to see that spark of divinity in all people, even those they disagreed with.

So not everyone shared the values.  And I didn't always like it.  In fact, in recent years, I mostly think my life might have been better if I had chosen a different college.  But what I did like was being part of a community that had a spiritual core.

I want to be part of a community that is trying to make the world better, but I don't want to be part of a community that is trying to make the world better for no reason, or for some secular reason.  I want to work with others who share a spiritual core with me.

Making the world better is a team effort.  Different people focus on different causes.  Different people working on the same cause approach that cause in different ways.  We need everyone working together in order to make it happen.  But everyone working together is not just a bunch of individuals.  It is people who have formed into teams with like-minded people.  And I am seeking to be part of a team that shares some spiritual core with me.

Response to critics

I've been seeing another blogger defending herself against critics, and something about it troubles me.  I think my preference is to ignore critics.  I'm not sure that's right.  I do believe that we humans grow as a result of engaging with others.  If someone criticizes us, perhaps in refusing to engage, we limit our learning and growth.  But in my life, there have been times when listening to others took me away from my own path.  Sometimes certain pieces of advice didn't resonate with me, but I gave the person the benefit of the doubt and explored the path to which they directed me.  It seems to me that those explorations were to my detriment, because they took me away from my own path.  As I have grown older, I have come to believe that I need to give more trust to my own intuition.  I have come to understand that in most cases, I am really the best judge of what is right for me.

When we put ourselves out there, when we post things to the internet or publish books or whatever, we expose ourselves to all sorts of people, people who have no understanding of our values.  When someone puts themselves out there, others tend to take that as an invitation to engage, to debate, to criticize.

I do believe that it's valuable to exchange ideas with others, but sometimes people just argue and criticize without taking any time to understand where you are coming from.  It's not my job to educate those people.  It's my job to grow in knowledge, wisdom, and compassion.

Some people enjoy debate.  I don't.  Not like that.  I do enjoy a mutual engagement in search of ideas, but not debate that is based on attacking people.

So I leave.  I have quit internet discussions that became too argumentative.  I haven't really had negative comments, but if someone left a negative comment on my blog or Facebook page, I would delete it.

Some people would say that it's censorship.  It's not.  You can write whatever you want on your blog or your Facebook page, but mine is my own creation.  If Leonardo da Vinci was painting a painting and someone came along and painted across it, wanting to remove that intrusive paint stroke is not censorship.  You make your painting and I make my painting.  It's only censorship if you paint over someone else's painting.