cinemagraph

friday links: “But I’m a test pilot and you’re just a lady!”

Despite being ill and all, I had to get you some Friday links. Here’s hoping you kick back and waste some time!

Are You There, God? It’s Me: Period Stories by Tami at Clutch Magazine. (slight spoilers for the TV show “Mad Men”).

An illustration and discussion of “The Real Drinking World” at HuffPo. As a high-bottom functional, or “almost-alcoholic” (I just prefer the term – alcoholic), I think this is excellent, excellent reading. I’m grateful I had a doctor point out my [“almost-“] alcoholism, but I also support the dignity of those who’ve reached full-on alcoholic dependence in the ways, you know, the movies like to portray. Just heard a story the other day about a man who ended up in his bathroom on the toilet with constant diarrhea, and who made up a bed in his bathtub and stayed in there and drank. You don’t have to end up there to get help, and I’m glad articles like this are popping up here and there.

Sexist media: in media reports on women’s issues like abortion & birth control, men are quoted 5 times more than women.

“Behind the scenes at James Bond auditions”, a photo slide retrospective. I was raised on Bond films and despite all the things you could rightfully claim (sexist, racist, homophobic, campy, et cetera) I have a special place in my heart for that cheesiness (and yay Pussy Galore!). This little series was fun and cute, and gave me a newfound appreciation for Lazenby, whom I’d previously pish-poshed.

Cinemagraphs! A cute concept. We’ll be seeing them everywhere soon. Unless you already are, because I’m usually behind the times. Here’s a question. What movie, and what actor, and why do I like him?

cinemagraph

A little bit of animated fun: if you thought movie trailers cheapened Carmina Burana O Fortuna, check this out.

A million shades of grey; or, “Would you rather be right, or would you rather be happy?”, or – and this is my favorite – “Ken Wilber said, ‘Sometimes you need to allow things to hurt you more, but bother you less.'”. by Ingrid Mathieu.

Open Thread: Erykah Badu & The Flaming Lips Team Up for a NSFW Vid – Are You Feeling It? at Clutch Magazine.
I have my thoughts about this video. I’ll share them. I think this is a beautiful song. Audio-wise, I like the cover. I like the video, too. I think it’s pretty neat. However I’m a li’l tired of the same naked bodies being used in the same ways. Call me when we see a nude dude – not being portrayed as silly – and yeah, full cock-n-balls, for one. Update: apparently the whole thing is a big mess between the artists. I have some thoughts on that too, but I’m sick, so I’m done.

[s]he who aspires to paradise

Yesterday I was feeling insecure. The details matter little, but I laid awake a bit last night and felt that old, old – OLDE – Impending Sense of Doom. I used to live with it all the time. I would smash it flat with all kinds of Ego exercises. I had enough of these exercises to write thousands of words describing them (but I won’t, right now). These activities worked until they didn’t. And then I suffered a lot.

Today I do occasionally hurt, and sometimes I don’t know why. Usually I can get to the bottom of it, but other times – like yesterday – I don’t understand why I suffer. I have learned to be patient. I won’t always feel this way, I can remind myself. Sometimes I can set the self-critical thoughts aside. Other times they run rampant and punish me a bit.

Today I received an email from someone who wrote some very nice things, telling me that reading my words made quite a difference in her life. This was wonderful to hear, and I look forward to writing her back and getting to know her better. And tonight after a meeting a woman told me she thought I was “awesome”… and that after listening to me over the last few months she thought I was “the kindest person [she’d] met”. She told me when she hears me speak, that she – and at this juncture she let loose a deep sigh of contentment. “Because I’m not kind,” she said.

I have to be very, very kind to myself. I have to exercise this as rigorously as someone who has to take medicine daily – or die. Not surprisingly, kindness towards others flows from kindness to myself.

I will have to practice this until the day I die. It is a practice, not a feeling, nor a permanent attribute. I will never be perfect at the practice of kindness. But I hope to practice it every day.

Tonight while out with a friend, I saw someone from my Recovery community, a lovely young man I care for a great deal. He was buying a tall can and I know a bit about what that means for him. Another relapse of increasing depths. More self-harm. I worry about the extent of self-harm this particular person may commit. I love this man and I care about him. And yet I’m powerless to do anything except tell him, I miss you.

I hope to see him again.

Please make sure to tell people if you love them, or appreciate them, or admire them. Bold words, spoken in truth and love, are never wasted.

Made me pine / For the lamplight / Where you lie

Sometimes I wonder if those reading here, this last year’s open self-identification as a recovered alcoholic, guess at the nature of my previous drinking. Like how much secret guzzling did I do, quantaties. I’m going to get to that in a minute but first I wanted to say some things about my day.

Today I got myself up early after a very poor sleep in order to make the commitments I said I would.

Today I cared for my son and daughter by putting away laundry and getting breakfast ready and pareparing the house for a calm and nurturing environment, and by driving my son the special place he wanted to go.

Today I texted a sick friend and offered to bring her something if she needed it.

Today I drove in the car and smoked a cigarette and sang along quite joyfully and felt so happy to have a car and gas money.

Today I made time to meet with and talk to another friend about something that was troubling her, because I care and I hoped she trusted me enough to talk, and I hope she didn’t later regret that in any way.

Today I asked after a man’s health and heard he’d been having a hard time with a rather scary event. I listened and we talked a while about his physical ailments and his perceived dangers of semi-longterm prescribed narcotic medication.

Today on two separate occasions I gave a man a cigarette. In one case, the fellow needed one. In the second case, I’d remembered the young man likes the kind I smoke. Directly after this transaction he asked for a hug and I gave him one, and today it was a loving and completely comfortable and genuine hug, because today that’s what I really truly deeply have to offer.

Today I talked with a practitioner who felt compelled to come out to me, although she told me she hadn’t yet done publicly or to her employer.

Today I took a phone call and laid aside plans to listen to and discuss someone with a long-standing serious health issue that had recently come to a head.

Today I asked my mother about her day and took a few minutes to give her attention.

Today when I came across my husband during our various activities, I asked him, “How are you?” or “How was work?” and I genuinely wanted to hear, and I listened as best I could.

Today I assisted another woman in Recovery in the way I understood that woman wanted my help.

Today I answered an email from across the country about a parenting/family issue that was giving the author some grief.

Today I coped with my physical pain by expressing gratitude for those who help me (the practitioners, family, and friends) and accepting that Ouch, It Hurts.

Today instead of the sewing I’d longed to do, I recognized my pain level and instead watched an old B-movie while I rested.

Today I apologized to a friend for a careless mistake I’d made.

Today I treated my children well.

I do not write these items out to try to look good for others. I write them because they are directly related to the quality and experience of my sobriety. To respond to my inferences earlier, I used to drink, mostly starting around dinner dime, for medicinal effect. If you ever came over you’d see how I drank, I didn’t get too sloppy. Maybe I even looked “normal”. I certainly had many people express surprise when I came out as alcoholic and needing help.

But man, it had nothing to do with how many glasses of wine or how many fingers of Jack. See the days I worked hardest to be a “good” mom (warning on that link, ranty), or deal with the latest setback, or my anger at my husband. The days I tried to do things to make my friends happy. You know, I had less quality friends then and fewer friends, than I do now. But anyway back then I had to wonder about how those friends felt about me. I felt I should “fix” them if they were in trouble. I felt I had to perform as a “good friend” just like my “good mom” stuff. If I made a mistake I felt humiliated, too much show to make a good amends. The friends who behaved toward me in ways that hurt, I ended up avoiding them, effectually cutting them out of my life.

None of that is how I live today. The difference may not be something that loud and evident but is experienced so deeply it is truly a revelation to write.

I don’t give the list of the things I did today to brag. Or to try that Sisyphean effort of being “good”. It’s to remind myself of the woman I am today, of what my actions evidence. That’s not who I used to be.

turning the collar up, looks like I picked the wrong time to decide to shave my head

Bright and cold, the sun slaps down on the sidewalks and finds us much as we ever were, maybe here and there a little shabbier. Broken down businesses and those making their valiant try. More cars getting towed DIY-style lately, Ralph and I have both noticed this. I drive by my neighbors sleeping rough or living hard, hunched jackets against the cold in clothes that aren’t quite warm enough, walking with bottles that clink in thin black plastic bags, cheap fleece pajama pants.

My sister visited this weekend and went to some festivities around town. “Irish music and drinking, I know how much you love those.” She and my mother went ahead and did some of that. We also had lunch together Saturday and Jules and the kids and I goofed at the Halloween store, good memories for me. She always buys the children something sweet; this time, their Halloween Trick or Treat bags/pumpkin buckets.

I drive to Aberdeen in the afternoon and wonder why some days I feel in a panic. Nothing is wrong, I tell myself. Remind myself. I am sober, and safe, and mostly sane. We have wonderful friends and family and are surrounded by a great deal of love. My children and I have a roof over our heads and good food to eat. The kids are growing well and exceedingly happy, as far as I can tell. The cats lounge about. My house is tidy, I bought winter boots. Nothing is wrong. Nothing is wrong. I have to talk myself down from the ledge now and then but the feeling passes after a while, like everything else.

Low Tide

“Low Tide” by Τϊζζ¥

More Hoquiam, WA.

only puts in motion what has been locked in frost

First Day Of First Grade

My first day of school, first grade
Taken in the bus we lived in

The family I grew up with until about age eight, my maternal family, mostly what I remember was a messy and boisterous tribe who started childbearing a bit later in life, consumed spirits by the case (or in the instance of wine, the box or gallon jug), smoked a fair degree of pot (some of them way more than others), and mostly wanted to eat and drink and have a good time and certainly never wanted that to end. The parties around the bonfire singing and playing music (old stuff from the sixties mostly), must have been fun for many but I grew them into a resentment. Most everyone worked hard and drank hard too, although a few members dropped out of much employment. As far as I know, I’m the only alcoholic in the family, but it seems like there sure are a lot of drunks.

In my memory my grandmother never much quit smoking cigarettes her whole life even though she ended up needing a breathing apparatus and assistance. She died of alcohol- and smoking-related complications but to my knowledge the family didn’t name it thus. You know, just a mystery stroke I guess. I got to be there for her death – myself, my husband, and the start of our own family: our four month old daughter. Many sorrows were ahead for my husband and I along the lines of our family inheritances, but at the time we didn’t know this.

My childhood experiences contain many hurtful memories, although in that family it was requisite we describe ourselves and our relations as “warm and loving”. Despite this mythology, I perceived I was only enjoyed and loved when I was being adorable – or a Good Girl, or both. I was told girls were supposed to be beautiful, and certain girls in the family were praised as such, and since I wasn’t, at least I knew where I stood on that count. At the same time I remember at a very early age believing there wasn’t any adult I could count on to choose me and my brother and our sense of safety, over their drinking and drugging. Since I was so little I was powerless to change any of this.

In addition to the drinking and drugging, which invoked a fair degree of fear as years went on, there was just daily life. The adults in my life changed, like chimera, during the day and as evening wore on. I rarely knew what was expected of me, only knew if I was meeting approval or not. One minute they’d be mostly tending to their work or the kids – or, as is more likely, ignoring us – the next they’d be overly sentimental, lachrymose, and effusive – or toxic and full of venom directed at little Me, their faces flushed and hardened into set-jaw choler beneath small angry eyes. My character defects and my errors, my objections to unfairness, any assertion of my own will counter to theirs, and my crudely-expressed desire to be treated with dignity was not ignored – it was punished. By age two the family called me “Little Hitler”, and later cited this as funny, good thing I straightened myself out, I was such a willful child.  Later an adult from this family would tell me it was okay for me to lash out against my own children. “They have to understand that you have feelings too.”

Oh, I made sure my kids understood I had feelings alright. Just the way I had done to me. As a mother I was Feelings ran rampant.

But, that was later – my own family.

Back to my childhood: relatively early in life I discovered I was capable at succeeding in school, and this performance placated these adults and put me in a category convenient for them. I wasn’t the beautiful one or the good one – I was the smart one.

I certainly wasn’t in a position to perceive that these people were sick and suffering in their own ways, and coped via chemicals and Authoritarian parenting and gastronomical excess et cetera, simply to manage their own pain, stress, confusion, depression, excitation, and suffering. They did the best they could with what they had. In this way my story is hardly unique, nor is my family.

As carefully as I’ve laid out my childhood memories, I want to further impress upon the reader that I do not hold resentments over these events – not anymore. In fact, the release of resentments has been the greatest gift I’ve afforded myself, and it was only possible through some measure of divinity (the old adage is true). But I am also not going to pretend these things didn’t happen, or they didn’t hurt at the time. They are simply a part of my history.  I know now that not one of these adults wanted me to feel unsafe, or scared, or sense I was an afterthought running around barefoot and expected to be “good”. As best as they were able, they loved the children in their midst, likely better than they themselves had been loved.

By the time my mother, father, brother and I moved north and away from this family to take advantage of an inexpensive living situation, my survival traits were intractable and reflexive. Seen this way it seems I was doomed to have a love affair with the escape available in alcohol and drugs. I remember my first drink – it was at age twelve and I flew high above those feelings of low self-worth, Unacceptability, embarassment and shame. The history, frequency, duration, and behaviors of my drinking career are details unimportant regarding what I write here, and now.

What matters today is I have a story to share with those who suffer as I did. What matters today is I am responsible for myself and others, and there is no point to shame myself or blame myself – or blame or shame others – for the past. I was gifted something amazing in my Recovery, as I could have lived the rest of my life out as others before me have – or far worse.

Today I live on a knife-edge of amazement, a case of being astounded by what has been given. When I am outside walking and the wind is blowing and I feel clear and alive I am also on the verge of an agoraphobic episode, flying off the face of the Earth into the Great Beyond simply because it is so massive and so much larger than I. “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”. I am fearful of God, but not in the way most nonbelievers would think this means. I do not worry God is going to bash me flat like Whack-A-Mole and I do not think there is a vengeful power who holds sway. I am fearful because I perceive the depths and breadths throughout, but I can not understand or grasp it all. I have lived for some little time floored at the life I was given, how incredible and amazing it is. It is such a gift. I do not wish to squander it. I do not wish to forget the gift. I no longer wish to poison it or smash it to bits, or smash at other people.

I want to hold so fiercely to my gratitude and never let it go. To life any other way is, for me, a Living Death.

***

Found written in a notebook:

Escribir

Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand.

Today I visited my doctor, the one who months ago spoke to me in a way I was ready to understand about the possibility I might be an alcoholic. The next day I had gone to a recommended place and discovered this was a certainty, for me, personally.

The day I knew I was an alcoholic was one of the best days in my life.

So before I talk more about that, well, today – the doctor’s. We reviewed how I was doing. He asked me how the summer went, with all the barbecues and beer and booze flowing. I told him quite honestly it hadn’t been a problem. I talked to him about a few of my concerns. We straightened all that out then he said he didn’t need to see me for another year.

He shook my hand firmly and told me succinctly, “Good job.” I looked right at him and said simply, “Thank you. You can’t imagine how different my life is now.”

And since then I’ve been reflecting how much it means to me, that he thinks I could handily do a year on the track I’ve been on.

I only sat with him ten minutes today. I’ve had so little time with him over all this – the biggest change in my life, besides the birth of my children – and I suppose he’s just another person of many who has influenced me in such a deep-down amazing way – but I wonder if he realizes the gratitude I feel for his assistance, his intervention in my life (although, truth told, I did go see him for help because I wasn’t getting answers elsewhere… and I have followed suggestions every day since). After we said goodbye I walked out to the reception window, made that seemingly way-off followup appointment, then stepped out to the waiting room where my son waited. Then my boy and I went out to lunch together.

I write this out a bit because I am so incredibly grateful for my life today. I’ve come to know entirely new meanings of “help”, and love and care and wisdom. I’ve come to see the folly and death inherant in the myth of self-sufficiency. I’ve experienced serenity for the first time since I was a young child. I’m slowly growing up my emotions and shedding some of those horrible drives I’ve lived with since long before I took my first drink: shame, blame, guilt, remorse. Terror and anger.

I really didn’t know how much I lived with them until they started to slip away. As they say, this didn’t happen overnight, and I say that because if you’re suffering now I want you to know you won’t always be suffering.

I expect to keep growing.

Today was a good day. I went on a wonderful morning run in the fog, I took my son somewhere wonderful in the morning, I had time with both kids separately, I helped a few people and someone who needed support told me I made her day, I made her smile. I stand to have some hot tea with honey and a good rest.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

***

In other news, I CAN’T STOP MAKING BABY MITTENZ

Trivial Coloriffic Mittens

Fly-Dyed Softies

Made With Love

Where do we go from here? Is it down to the lake I fear?

Last night Ralph and I were invited out to the pub where, unbeknownst to me, it was Trivia Night. Do not get me started in a trivia contest. I wouldn’t say I’m competitive because I can’t be assed to care if we lose – but I am rather good and I get hyper as hell (seven years of Nerd Bowl, most of them as Team Captain). Which is incidentally how I was during our wedding day too – hyper that is, I have it on film. So last night was a version of Name That Tune and I nailed about 90% single-handedly, “Love Plus One” by Haircut 100 and Gary Numan’s “Cars” and a handful of relatively obscure Bruce Springsteen songs and some old live Stones and Stephen Stills and Roy Orbison for good measure. And I had to do a little dance every time I got a song right (don’t worry, I varied the dance, for the legions of fans). I was a complete dud for the handful of new country songs that were played – fortunately a few other ladies on the team knew those by heart. We placed 3rd, 1st, 1st, then 3rd and won a shitload of candy which of course I had no interest in.

Today was kind of a little gift, a reminder of just how amazing people are who deal regularly with sleep deprivation and function at the same time. I can’t remember the last day I didn’t have a solid six to eight hours under my belt; today I managed on about three and it hurt. My son and daughter spent the day hugging me and asking how I was doing. We had a friends’ kid over in the afternoon (and a sidewalk-chalk note from another girl who stopped by while we were out); in fact our little informal ritual of having from one to four extra kiddos during the day/evening/night is really a wonderful one for me. Today we took a late Thai lunch and I ordered for the kids and they were happy with my choice. They were such delightful mealtime companions; I don’t know if I’ve had better. Sun-dazzled and beat I drove home and had to ask them a few times to repeat themselves. My brain was a bit sluggish.

Ralph taught class tonight so I was on my own with the kiddos until about 9:30 PM. Tired as I was, it was a delight to sit in the car knitting and watching my daughter play quite energetically on the soccer field while my son wooed several other children on the playground. I waited for as long as the kids wanted to play. They were the last off the playground and we came home for a late dinner and a night in. Too tired even to knit, or maybe even drink.