Resolve

It’s March 4th (Mona’s birthday!) I’ve just spent twenty minutes writing about my experiences as a substitute so far, and in keeping with my earlier decision, I want to start posting them.

I am a writer and a perfectionist (or maybe those two are synonymous), and it’s hard to share things that are less than “perfect”. But perfect never comes, so I’m trying to force myself to just. write. And I think there’s some good stuff in my random ramblings about my subbing experiences…too much for one post, really. So I think to myself, “I should just start posting them as snippets and at least start the work”. Do not despise these small beginnings, blah blah blah.

But wait. I was going to post my resolutions. That I sketched out the first week of January. And it’s March. Did I mention that it’s March?

So I can’t post the stuff I’ve just written now, because first I have to finish what I started two months ago. Only the best of what I hoped to write is no doubt lost by now…but then I remember. Just. write.

So here, as I start to feel sleep wanting to overtake me, are the resolutions I identified back then.

1) Send out Christmas cards (right. this one is a joke. But maybe next year?!)

2) Eat more slowly. This is a resolution that is entirely independent of any other attempts at making better food choices, and it’s fantastically difficult to achieve. Eating is most often an afterthought, something that gets in the way of everything I have to do. It is an inconvenience and feels like too much work. I ate yesterday…and now I have to think about what I’ll eat today?

Too many days, I wake up for my 6pm shift at 4 or 4:30. It’s never enough time to plan out what I will bring to work for lunch. I’m never quite hungry enough (or together enough) to get something to eat before I go to work. And eating in the car, or at my desk, between phone calls, is not conducive to eating more slowly.

I have been failing miserably at this one. But I’m not giving up.

3) Purge (more) clutter

If things progress as they have been, I may be starting an online degree program fairly soon. This has me itching for a fresh start…not just with external clutter, but with the life-crushing and meaningless stuff that is neatly packed away in boxes, or with the utterly redundant closet that sorely needs an overhaul.

Fresh starts make me happy…if only I wasn’t so bad at starting.

4) Write more – that goes without saying. “Write more” is a resolution for my entire life, not just for a given year. I’ve not been moving towards that goal, but I am always “blogging on the inside”. The words are there…why do I not spend time doing something that I claim to value so much?

5) In the minor leagues, but worth mentioning…stop re-posting stuff on Facebook without vetting it first. It’s far too embarrassing – me, who has made it a life goal to debunk urban legends, and yet I’ve gotten caught up in far too many in the past few months.

So I guess I want to blog without thinking too much and at the same time stop retelling stories UNLESS I’m thinking a little too much about them.

Sounds like me…all of it. So here we go…

(untitled)

I don’t know what title to give this post…and I honestly don’t know how I will spit out all of the words that are swirling around within me.

I am home from Elijah’s birthday party, and for the first time in at least three years, he did not come home with me. Partly because I am finally beginning to admit to myself that I don’t need to save him from his life, his surroundings, but also because he has more to keep him there, and it would be selfish for me to force him to come with me.

My house is empty, but my heart even more so.

This moment has been so long in coming. I shouldn’t be surprised. I’ve been seeing traces of it for at least a year now. He has friends on his street, and there’s just no reason why he should want to come and hang out with me…especially not now that his buddy Donovan’s not around. And it’s normal…he’s a big boy now…and I don’t begrudge him that.

But my heart is broken.

Make no mistake about it…despite what anybody may say, my love for him is, and always has been, selfish. I got to play “second mommy” to him…everything I did was as much for me as it was for him. People will be quick to say that he is “lucky to have you”…but I call bullshit. It was all my greed to have someone to love, my selfish desire to belong to someone. I’ve been lying to myself, and I’m paying for it now.

Mona keeps telling me that I need to change my shift at work so that I can take him on weekends again…she is oblivious to the fact that he has no reason to want to come spend time with me, and that I wouldn’t do that to him. I’ve already delayed the inevitable by filling his summer with exciting trips to hotels with water parks, and to ‘Acago to see his buddy. I can see now that I was trying to hold on to the last remnants of a time that is now behind us.

When you’re the real mommy (or so I imagine), you feel a similar ache in your heart, but it’s different. Though the relationship changes, you’re still and always “mama”. Come what may, there’s nobody or nothing in the world that can take that title away from you.

But me? I’m Puff the Magic Dragon, not just with Elijah, but with everybody in my life who grows up and moves on, to the type of life that “normal” people have.

A dragon lives forever, but not so little boys
Painted wings and giant strings make way for other toys
One grey night it happened, Jackie Paper came no more
And Puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar.

His head now bent in sorrow, green scales fell like rain,
And Puff no longer went to play along that cheery lane.
Without his life-long friend, he could not be brave,
So Puff that mighty dragon sadly slipped into his cave.

My “cave” right now consists of eating too much, sleeping too much, and crying loud, jagged, gagging tears. And despite my therapist’s insistence that I can now “focus on myself” and get my life figured out–“invest in me”, or some such crap–I am not quite ready to crawl out of my cave just yet.

My grief is selfish…it’s pathological. At best, it indicates just how emotionally stunted I am…at worst, it’s just short of creepy…and real mommies’ love for their children is never considered “creepy”…

Please understand that I’m not writing this as a way of fishing for people to try to convince me that what I’ve said here isn’t true, or that I “shouldn’t” feel the way I do. I don’t need to be told that I should be proud of the way that I’ve invested in his life or that he will never forget me or that he has been “lucky” to know me…please, make no mistake about it. I’m the one who has been lucky. I have loved him selfishly, and I am paying for that selfishness now with these tears.

I am quite certain that I have never loved anyone as much and as fiercely as I love that little boy…and that love is not diminished, I know. But I also know that the most precious times we have had are now behind us…behind me, truth be told…and I haven’t prepared myself for what comes next. At some point, I am sure that I will crawl out of my cage and reluctantly face the too-bright sun…

But today…today is not that day.

War is stupid

I believe this with all of my heart. As in, I think it’s ALWAYS stupid and ALWAYS pointless and absolutely the wrong decision. I took an upper-level philosophy class in college (“Marx and Marxism”, of course!) and made a statement to this effect, which was met with incredulous disbelief by the professor. I’m certain that he thought I was some naive, over-simplistic…GIRL. (there were six or seven of us in the class, and it’s true, I was the only female–and absolutely in over my head, but I was intrigued by the subject matter.)

But I really, REALLY feel strongly about this. So much so that I have already asked my beloved godson (when he was three!) to promise me he would never join the military. So much so, in fact, that I lose sleep over the whole concept of Angry Birds…because the birds die trying to kill the pigs, and who wins then?!

Having seen Les Miserables (three times so far, but who’s counting?!) and then having seen Lincoln tonight, I am all the more convinced of this. So my question/challenge is this: Can anybody explain to me ANY situation in which a bunch of people killing each other is the best way to go, or even necessary?

I remember reading ten or fifteen years ago that someday in the future, wars will be fought on a virtual level–using a computer “game” of sorts. But I still–and I’m certain, always–cannot see any point to it. Not ever. It may sound simplistic, but I don’t care. We shouldn’t be killing each other. Ever. For any reason. We decry gun violence in this country, yet bloody revolution (and later, killing each other because we couldn’t agree whether or not the people we had subjugated and whose labor we had used had the right to be considered “human”) is in our DNA.

As far as my own DNA is concerned…my birth-father evaded the draft for Vietnam, and (if I am remembering correctly), he even served time for it. I know that Vietnam had a whole ‘nother layer of controversy, but even so, I like to believe that this is in my blood.

I will say it again: War is stupid. I would genuinely be interested in knowing how anybody can possibly think war is EVER “necessary”. I’m certain nothing anybody can say will change my mind, but I’m truly baffled by this, and want to see if there’s some way I can understand.

In the meantime, I will watch Les Mis a few (dozen) times more, but I will never embrace the idea of violence, even violence pursued in the interest of freedom and justice. There has to be another way…

Procrastination

This will be a short one…which is appropriate, given the subject matter.

I. Never. Do. Anything.

In or with my life, I mean. And I don’t know what to do about it. I’m perpetually behind, and infinitely capable of avoiding what needs to be done.

And I have no idea what to do about this. I can’t seem to shame myself into doing more, nor can I give myself a pep talk and magically start completing my to-do list.

My therapist says that when you feel resistance to something, that you should explore what’s behind the resistance. But that’s just it…I can’t figure it out.

I say that I want specific things to happen in my life, but then I don’t do the things that I need to do to make those things happen.

And I just don’t know how to motivate myself…

The tyranny of stuff

My car is bugging me these days.

More to the point, what my car is costing me is bugging me. The amount of money I am spending on my (leased) car, and on the insurance for said car, is something like 20% of my take-home pay. The insurance is high because the lease requirements stipulate that there have to be certain coverages…and probably because I have a few skeletons (of the speeding ticket variety) in my closet. But I am once again wrestling with my choices, and wondering whether there is some way out.

The irony of my life is that I wrestle with having so many things, and yet, I really don’t have much compared to the people I see around me*. Perhaps this is still a remnant of my junior high and high school years, growing up on the low end of middle class but surrounded by classmates on the other end  of the spectrum. Even beyond that, though, I often think that there is something not quite right about me. I am bewildered as to how other people save money to buy a computer, or a car, or a new mattress, or a vacation. Money to me is something that comes into my life and just as quickly goes out. My relationship with it is, and always has been, convoluted.

True confession: I really love my car. Like, I’m sure I love it more than a human being (particularly a Christian) is supposed to love an inanimate object. But it’s just so “me” in so many ways–case in point–this is a picture I drew in response to a humorous conversation that I had with a friend, during the time I was carless:

Image

As you can see, even my invisible car was orange.

This is the second car I’ve owned in my life, and the first one that I really have felt like I’ve “chosen” (after a slight mishap/false start). And despite my angst over owning it at all, I really do love it and love having a car.  (I am still not a fan of mandatory bus travel, although Elijah would be thrilled with it!) But I will be paying this fairly hefty sum for two more years, and then will likely be paying for at least another three years if I end up buying it (which I likely will, either because I will have gone over on the mileage, or because the various dings and scratches will be too much to turn it in). I am not careful with my things (see also: my current computer and cell phone).

Right before I got my car, I was seriously considering taking a job that would have been a substantial pay cut for me. I reasoned that I could take the bus (a short ride, no transfers) to that job, and so would not need a car. I still dream of taking that job, not because it’s the job I want, but because it’s not the job I have. Budget-wise, though, it’s simply not possible.

I think there is probably some way that I could turn in my car early…I would have to pay some kind of penalty, I’m sure, but I would still be paying less in the long run than I will be by keeping it. The thing is, though, that I know that I do *not* want to do that, not unless I absolutely have to. So I try not to think about the fact that I don’t have the luxury of taking a job that pays much less than I’m making now…and I try not to think about my ongoing angst about “stuff”. But when I look at my budget, what I struggle with is the lack of autonomy those payments represent.  I tell myself that I would have money for a new laptop and plane trips to see people I love and who knows what else, if only I had not made this choice to love this thing in my life.

I just don’t like what it’s keeping me from.

Maybe I just need to find gratitude for what I have…it may be true that this car limit my choices in some ways, but in another sense, it opens up choices that riding the Rapid would not afford to me. For now, then, I guess I just need to live with where I am, as I try to figure out where I’m going.

As long as I can get there in an orange car…

 

*PS – PLEASE know that I am well aware that even in my “lack”, I am among the wealthiest people in the world. I’m just constrained by the context I’m in.