The Right Thing To Do

The Right Thing to do is relative at best or maybe it doesn’t exist at all.

Right for whom?  Who benefits; who is hurt?  Who usually just suffers through something based on an incorrect assumption that it is important to do so? (Me.)

I have this need to mostly do right by others. Nothing wrong with that, except that I’m also pissed off at others a lot of the time.

The present particular Right Thing quandary comes on the eve of a quick trip to Florida for a funeral. I’m struggling with my decision to not see my father when I’m down there and to not even tell him I’m going.

My grandfather died. I loved him and he was a good person. Parental figures who didn’t make you feel like shit about yourself were always in short supply in my family, and he was one. My father (his ex-son-in-law) treated his death the way I would have expected him to (but very unlike a normal person would). Immediately after I notified my father, he gave me no kindness or sympathy, but instead attempted to have a seance and demanded the phone number of my aunt (his ex-sister-in-law). When I refused to give it to him, he started a fight with me. I have since been on low-contact with him, blocking his texts and only sending a couple of emails with information about his grandchildren that I thought he may find important. Lately when I look at the blocked texts, I see that he’s become friendly again.  

I don’t want to see him when I go down there. I don’t care to see him. I have nothing to say to him and I don’t need to hear his droning pontification that he calls conversation. I don’t want to “hash this out” because I would like only an honest apology and I know that I can never have that even if I ask nicely (or cry, scream, and explain until I’m blue in the face). And allowing him to speak to me about random things that always revolve around his crazy political/religious/world views while ignoring the elephant in the room would only make me more angry and hurt.

My children don’t miss him. How could they? They don’t see him much and when they do, he barely speaks to them. He never asks them about themselves and never asks me about them.

My husband has absolutely no desire to ever see him again, I am quite sure.

So the people for whom I am actually responsible and for whom I deeply care, do not need to see him. The answer is simple, then, is it not?  In an apocalypse should I go out of my way to bring food to my asshole neighbor, or should I let the zombies get him? Zombies, right? Ok, so this isn’t that.

And since this isn’t that, I drift off into the dialogs that go something like:

He’ll be sad not to see the boys.

He’ll have his feelings hurt that I didn’t bother to see him.

He’s old.

He’s lonely.

He’s screwed up and nobody likes him.

….Deeper and deeper into the Poor Dad rabbit hole.

So then the Right Thing begins to look like me setting up a visit on our short trip, where we meet him at some restaurant and we buy him lunch and he sulks about not being invited to the funeral and then moves on to big annoying theories about Zionists or Lizard People or worse yet, embarrassing loud but pointless observations about how nowadays black people eat in the same restaurants as white people. And it will be awkward and nobody will like it but we’ll endure it and then he’ll think everything is OK and I’ll start answering his texts again because we ate together and yeah.

But that doesn’t sound like the Right Thing to me. I have this insistent thing happening where My Feelings are more important to me than His Feelings are. Or at least I think that after all these years, that maybe they should be.

Because HE never thought so. Not when:

  • I was a little girl and he wouldn’t hug me goodnight because I made him angry by laughing too much
  • I was thirteen and he was so proud that his friends found me attractive
  • I was seventeen and he shoved my head into the kitchen cabinet and called me a cunt (he has no memory of this of course)
  • My mother died and he made everything about him
  • He came to my house for Thanksgiving weekend and I was (stupidly) very excited for it but then over the span of days he told unrelenting horror stories about my recently deceased mother in front of my children and wouldn’t leave until I finally asked him to
  • My grandfather died and he made everything about him

Ok, enough of that self-indulgence. Just not ever.  He has never cared about my feelings more than his own.

I just need to take this step. Ovary up and just no.

I don’t want to see you and so I’m not going to see you.  If I feel bad for you, it’s just because I’m a decent person, not because you actually deserve it.  I can weather that momentary doubt and pain.  You aren’t in control anymore. Staying true to my needs is the Right Thing this time.

I will probably need to reread this.

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Today’s Mantra

No name calling.

A lot has been going on. Really too much. For a lot of people. For us as well. Perhaps as a part of that stress (or more likely because I’ve been left unchecked by my moral compass due to stress), I’ve been quite:

Angry

and

Powerhungry

The Anger (though useful and I no longer berate myself for it…. I’m a fighter) could turn to bitterness. The Powerhunger, well that’s a somewhat new high that’s come with confidence (and therefore perhaps a byproduct of healing) but it’s not great.

On paper, that ego trip admittedly sounds a little badass to me. But I don’t want to become a bad guy.

And I don’t want to become one of Them.

So today: No Name Calling

Not in my head, not in a story, not in a grumble.

I’m sure I’ll not do very well at this.

My Feminism is all Tapped Out Today

I’m a flag-waving, fully practicing feminist. That doesn’t mean I have adopted all of society’s latest feminist ideals or even necessarily know what those are. For me it simply means that I know my own worth and my own strength and that I encourage my fellow women friends to know theirs. Also that being female means that sometimes you’re the smallest kid on the playground and unfortunately you may need to yell the loudest and hit the hardest in order to prove that strength and worth to others. Other times exercising your power means being quiet and patient and making metered decisions, which can also be difficult especially in the face of injustice.

And I’m naturally a fighter. I know that. I was born a pissed off bundle of uncontrollable, so maybe it’s easier for me. But goddamn it, you have to fight in this fucking world. And when one of my fellow feminist friends cries to me that decisions are being made for her, I say “Do something about it! Don’t comply! You are free — no one can force you!” but instead she accepts her shut up gift with a tearful smile, puts on her newest $20 lip gloss, and gets back to her comfortable complaints.

And then another fellow feminist comes to me with a small problem that is going to take an uncomfortable action (very subjective here — more like “should in no way be perceived as an uncomfortable action”) to solve….so she wanted me to do it. I told her that it won’t be scary at all once she does it once or twice and that I have faith in her. So she eventually did it, but wouldn’t do it alone. Waited until I was there with her. I am not complimented by this. I am pretty much disgusted.

I want us to be empowered. Not in some stupid idealistic hypothetical sense, but in a real way. Let us say what we mean and stand up for ourselves and for each other. Let us quit making fear-based decisions. Let us realize that not making a decision IS making a decision; that we choose our own steps every single day. Let us be free to exist in our flesh and our minds however we present on any particular day. And for the love of God, let us fight when it is necessary, and maybe even when it is not.

But today I have my period and I’m done waving my flag for those of you who won’t wave your own. Grow a pair of ovaries — or rather use the ones you’ve got. Mine are yelling at me about chocolate right now, fuckyou very much.

Dear July 2014 Self,

You’re good right now. Your kids are 2 and 11. They’re healthy and happy. Gordon and you are healthy and happy. Your weight is at an all time low, and your body is strong. You trained hard and ran a half marathon this past spring. You learned about your mental and physical endurance and resilience in the face of adversity (gonna need that skill). You learned that caring for yourself makes you better able to care for others. You feel good about yourself and aside from the nagging twinges of guilt and sorrow that pop up haphazardly on most days, you’re satisfied with life.

But I’m sorry to say, that picture is about to change. Three years worth of fucked-upness is what you’re facing. Don’t worry, it’s not your kids or your husband. They are still great (thankfully). But you are personally going to be hit hard with some things that are going to mess up your mental well-being. Meanwhile, you’ll gain 75% of your weight back and your drinking, well that’s going to get to be very frequent and frequently excessive. And you’ll start smoking again (I know — wtf). But I don’t necessarily think you can prevent this and I don’t think you should get mad at yourself. You won’t roll over and die. You’ll take care of your family. You won’t completely quit taking care of yourself. You’ll even dive full force into new interests and projects. You’ll just consume too much of everything and spend quite a bit of time in a black pit where you’ll doubt yourself and analyze the same things over and over and over. Sometimes you’ll come out ahead; a lot of times you won’t. But you’ll never entirely give up for very long.

That guilt, that nagging you feel? It’s not right and you don’t deserve to have that coming at you every day. It’s a big part of all of this. You and I are finally going to let that go. I know, maybe it seems too soon to claim victory on something I haven’t yet accomplished even now in 2017, but I don’t think it is. Our brothers painted a picture that we can appreciate and understand and now I can see that the shit show is pretty much over. Or has at least shrunken into a less significant piece of annoying backstory. The ghosts are fading away now that I’m finally burying the bones. You’ll know all the gruesome details soon enough.

You and I are recently sober and not smoking anymore so nothing external is holding us back. And I’m ready to work on losing weight again. — But not all of it; you are honestly really very slim and I don’t feel like trying to maintain that. Plus, I’m kind of OK with hanging out in my imperfect skin. (I know – foreign concept.) We don’t try and cover or pluck our gray anymore either, if you can believe it.

Don’t be afraid. We’ll be better for having gone through this. For sure. I mean you’ve recently earned a good amount of confidence, but your mind is still all over the place and you’re dragging around some bullshit Jacob Marley chain. You’ve just gotta wade through a tiny little miles-wide alligator-infested swamp to get to the better days ahead.

But you know how you dream of gardens and chickens and big private spaces and how you love being in the woods with sunlight filtering through the leaves? That will be your life soon. And when you can learn to lay your burdens down long enough to breathe it all in, it will be your reward for hard work and trials endured. You will be safe again and in a place where your body and soul can be fed everything they need.

I promise.

The Selfish Gardener

….And while I’m in an angry gardening mood, let’s discuss something else: Sharing Homegrown Produce.

I dream all year of bounty. So many of everything that we’re bursting at the seams. I dream of days spent laboring over jars of tomato sauce and salsa, and of shelves full of pickles, pickles and more pickles! And of course this sort of processing madness comes only after we’ve eaten all the fresh food that we can, and passed out buckets to neighbors and co-workers.

But then reality gives me a lovely bounty that looks more like this:

It’s truly a blessing. It makes us eat better and we creatively prepare new recipes. The harvesting part is a ton of fun. But it’s not a ton of food (at least not like in my fantasy produce festival).

So comes my quandry: sharing. I simply don’t want to. And sometimes I do it anyway. And then I end up getting excited about it because I think other people will be excited about it. But most of the time I’m underwhelmed by the responses. Sometimes people say yum, but sometimes it seems almost like I’m forcing my produce on them.

For instance: my neighbor. She’s a vegan as far as I know and can easily see my garden getting bigger and bigger. I therefore feel compelled to share with her. And honestly I want to (but out of my fantasy garden). And granted, she’s like a city girl, indoorsy and wears makeup every day and all that. So she doesn’t get it. The labor, the love, the study, and sometimes the agony that I put into my garden. A small basket of various items along with a dozen eggs (for her non-vegan husband) is a gift. Or it would be if I didn’t give it so begrudgingly. I didn’t start out being so selfish I don’t think. She tells me thank you but never tells me if she ate it or liked it so I feel like my treasures are not appreciated. It makes me especially not want to share.

I think of this tonight because my neighbor previously mentioned that she’d like some squash because she loves it. So far we’ve gotten like 6 yellow squash which are to-die-for delicious and may be the best thing this year. I keep not being able to force myself to share those. I’ll expect to bring a couple over and they end up in my fridge. So tonight, with the discovery of a squash bug infestation of biblical proportions, I realized the two in my fridge may be the last.

I decided to tithe with the garden gods and give the two yellow squash to my neighbor, along with my largest ripe tomato, two peppers, a bunch of cherry tomatoes, and a few pretty small tomatoes. I texted her and asked if they were dressed enough for a two second veg drop off. She said “no lol 🙂 but tomorrow is fine”. Fine. Fine? Not great? Not awesome? Fine, you can bring them tomorrow if you insist.

Maybe I’m being petty. Splitting hairs because I’m upset about the bugs. So in order to elicit some passion or sympathy or something, I texted her that I’d been waging holy war on the squash bugs and that I may have lost. Her response: “Hahahahaha lol”.

The squash went back into the fridge.

The Inside Dirt

There’s another kind of dirt I’m touching now. It’s every bit as organic as the dirt of my official quest. I’m digging deep and unearthing a powerful soul. This part was always known to me, but was never really seen for long. She’d get brushed away with cynicism or smothered with guilt or buried under embarassment. And well, she’s not really lovely or good or any other kind of sugary spice.

But – –

She’s a fucking badass and I’m beginning to like her.

Not Asking for Permission Anymore

This post is about my day job.

Nobody is going to give me power. It already exists; I just have to claim it. 

In this case it means developing a system, and communicating with and accepting help from others in order to implement it. And in the meantime, culture shifts will hopefully have occurred to help improve how the organization handles things in the future.  That doesn’t seem so bad, does it? 

Unfortunately, I’ve recently and vehemently expressed the need for such a system and asked my boss for help in developing one. He rejected me with comforting (but truth-slanted) words and a pat on the head. This isn’t some frivolity; this is me being able to be effective at my job. And me doing my job means having a reasonable amount of control over cash. Right now (and for the entire 7 years that I’ve been there) my department has been granted enough power to handle unpaid invoices like housekeeping handles dirty towels: Stack ’em up until we can filter them through the wash. Basically the departments spend (sort of based on their budgets which are always too big because of overestimated revenue) and then We (accounting) figure out a way to pay the bills and then instruct Them (departments) to slow down spending way too late. No control, no security. 

Controlling the cash is my job. I’m the Controller. I haven’t been doing that very integral part of my job at all (except to the extent that I let payables go way into arrears and yell at people about spending) for 7 years.

Have I been given the means to perform my job well? Hell no. Does that matter to me anymore? No it doesn’t. I’m going to do my job, or I’m going to get fired trying. There is risk involved with what I’m doing right now. I may very well get fired. If rumor holds true, the controller before me got fired when he quit rolling over. But you know what?  If I get fired, that’s OK.  I’ll get another stupid job that pisses me off and stresses me out.  I do know this: keeping my head down and being obediently ineffective is the wrong thing to do. For the both the organization and for me. I’m not asking for permission anymore.

Confessions of a Judgy Bitch


“What up, bitch?”

Happy New Year’s Eve Eve! It’s a time for self-reflection and goal setting. So in that spirit I’d like to confess that I judge people. A lot. And I’d also like to confess that I have no working plan to change it in 2017.

For your entertainment or scorn, I have comprised a list of my favorite people to judge and why:

  • A co-worker (whom I otherwise like very much) who gets vehemently disgusted by people who hunt or harvest their own animals, BUT consumes a wide assortment of commercially harvested meats on a daily basis
  • My young neighbor who enjoys country living by driving halfway down her driveway to feed a couple of carrots to the other neighbor’s horse and then drives back (and then complains to me how the horse’s owner doesn’t feed her well enough because she grazes all day – – – Google is your friend, lady; horses graze)
  • My father who believes every conspiracy theory known to man and squishes them all together into one big extraterrestrial-driven jumble, and will have no conversation absent of this (unless he is making plans about how someone else should be running their lives)
  • Another co-worker who plops himself at my desk for long periods of time and bitches to me about all the people he’s currently judging

….Holy crap! Wait….my list just totally validated me. I am constantly judging people who are judging others. So that means I’m really nice!

OK no seriously, I’m a bitch. I guess that’s why I like plants and animals so much and why working with them comforts me so. They aren’t people.

Maybe the working plan for 2017 could be something like: Instead of judging myself for judging others, I could actively practice love and maybe it will help crowd out the rest.

Bwahahahahaha!

Ok for real: I’ll most likely still be the same old irritable bitch by this time next year. And that’s OK because by then I should have grown a lot of Holy Basil to help soothe my judgy heart.

Cheers to 2017! Xoxo

Hope

It’s been a week since my trees got cut down.  After participating in a good old fashioned Flip My Shit Cleanse, I’ve recovered.  I didn’t commit murder or arson, so I’m considering that a win.  I didn’t even utter many regrettable words.  I just threw a shoe, wailed and bawled, and took a bottle of wine (sans glass) to bed.  And whatever parts to which my sons were unfortunate witnesses will perhaps help prepare them for adulthood, assuming they may marry women who have loud, strong hearts.

Moving forward

On Sunday I finished up the garden prep and seeding for fall.  A few weeks ago I was questioning whether I could or wanted to do all the ripping and soil prep needed, but I ended up getting some plowing help from my guys and I’m very pleased with the results:

fallplanting

I moved all the plants I could outside of the fence.  There are now beds alongside the fence, three down the middle, and row connecting them on top.  I have yet to transplant my (dwindling) brussels sprouts and broccoli (which will occupy the top connector and the widest center column, respectively) but everything else has been planted. In the garden lying in wait for possibility to crack them open, are:

  • snow peas
  • turnips
  • lettuce
  • baby bok choy
  • curly kale
  • black magic kale
  • carrots: orange, purple & red
  • and two herby things that my dad sent me

Silas specifically wanted purple carrots because he saw them in a community garden on PBS kids (does my heart good).  The carrots did really great in the single bag we grew earlier in the year, so we just did that again, but now we have five!  The carrots were the only way I could bribe that child to come out in the heat with me and when they were gone from the garden, so was he.

plantingcarrots
Eddie and Silas planting colorful carrots

 

Back to the trees

The once majestic sycamore, lightning-struck and subsequently rendered a stump, offered up this sweet little glimmer of hope.

hope2

When I took this picture, it seemed like a very sad futility. Just one more piece to kill in a week or two when the stumps come out.  But some time later an idea came to me: Can you clone a tree from a cutting?  Turns out, you definitely can.  By the time I have to harvest this little guy, he won’t be woody enough to be an ideal candidate.  He has very little chance of becoming a tree actually. But maybe with very good conditions and a little magic, the sycamore could survive. So I will try.

Sometimes things look black to me. It’s in my blood and I’m probably too old to truly change that. Sometimes when things are at their worst in my mind I actually see a sort of kaleidoscope of thick blackness hovering around my bed at night. But you know what? Morning always comes and there are always glimmers ready to be seen if I’m ready to look. I have hope. I’m actually relentlessly hopeful.

Me and my tree.

My Trees, My Heart

My dreams were full of rain.  I heard it and saw it and fretted over having to go out in it. Rain in dreams suggests crying or tears.  There have been lots of tears.

My heart hurts for my trees.  Six are getting removed.  Two came down yesterday and four more have seen their last sunrise today.  I know why it’s happening and I’m not trying to stop it, but my heart hurts anyway.  Especially for my beautiful maple with its bark that curls away from the trunk and the healthy gloss of its gray-green leaves.  That tree watches the birds with me and calms my spirit.  When I hugged it goodbye this morning before going to work, words I’d said to my mother (that I’d be back very soon–before I never saw her again in this life) echoed in my mind.

I know why I’m letting this happen: the house, the water, the foundation, the roof, my husband’s peace.  He knows that this is personally painful to me and so hasn’t pushed it forward until the lightning came.  But all of our knowing is meaningless because it is without understanding.  My heart cannot understand logic and he cannot understand my heart.

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DSC04009

 Carnage. Ugly Awful.

Right now this place feels destroyed. I should have stopped it.