Monday, October 31, 2016

Crone

I have been taking an online class.  One of the exercises has been to cruise Pinterest or some other visual heavy website and lift out images that deeply resonate for us.  So, I have been doing that as prescribed.

As usual with Pinterest, I fell down a rabbit hole this morning looking for images of strong women - especially strong large sized ones.  I never did stumble across that.  What I did get lost in was the sea of portraits of old women.  I find them spell-binding and incredibly beautiful.  Every line, every wrinkle a story of where she has been and what she has done.  I fell in love over and over and over.  I'm not talking about the former models or super pampered Westerners with their long silver-white hair and unlined faces.  I'm talking about women who have lived and scrounged and had a life - a life that shows in their faces.

My mom's face now looks like these and I wondered if this affinity is because they remind me of her or has it been around a long time.  I can distinctly remember loving my grandmother and her sister's faces.  I can remember fingers tracing photos of really amazing older women in Nat Geo.  Seems, I have always found them beautiful.

So, I toddle off to look at photos of younger women, of moms, of young girls.  They are beautiful, too but in a different way that doesn't sing to me.  The are beautiful the way an empty page is beautiful, or unbroken snow.  Everyone finds beauty there.  Anyone can be beautiful, is beautiful, at that stage of their life.  But, once the story is writ upon the page, how many still find beauty?  How many will write a sonnet about slush?  about wrinkles?

I am not interested in the part of a woman's life between childhood and retirement.  I am specifically drawn to women in their cronehood.  I am and always have been a crone.  The same way some people will never grow up and mature beyond childhood.  Maybe I was a child once, but I have been a crone so long, I can't remember.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

FW 10.27.16

DI

Yesterday, I took the ferry from DI to Fort Morgan/Gulf Shores.  It takes about 30 minutes to cross the mouth of Mobile Bay here at it's narrowest.  Somehow my Midwestern head struggles to reconcile the size of the Bay on a map versus the oceanic-like reality I experienced.

During my trip, I finished the last of Stephen King's Mr Mercedes on audio book.  I passed by Lulu's and the Florabama and my Buffet loving heart was happy.  (Hey, don't judge).  I scored a new state in my letterboxing quest - FL.  I drove through Orange Beach, Perdido Key, and Gulf Shores - a swirly carnival feeling series of towns that reminded me of spring break in Daytona, and not in a good way.  The energy of these places was awful and I wanted to scurry back to my tiny island where none of this exists.  But I stuck it out and scored my box.  WHEW!

What I really wanted to write about today was the ferry ride over.  I had a lot of misgivings about putting my car on a boat.  They are all irrational.  I wonder where they came from.  I loved this trip.  The steady wind whipped my hair into rollercoaster knots, my shirt flapped up revealing my fish-white belly or tattooed back.  It made me laugh.  One of the reasons I come to DI is I love wind.  It's been really calm (weirdly calm) the last few days, so having the wind spin around me like a flamenco dancer lit me up.  I don't know why I like wind.  I just do.

There are dolphins leaping and spinning OUT OF THE WATER.  I have seen them feed and ride the wake of a boat.  But I have never seen them do this.  Leap all the way out of the water and spin like a battle top.  I am a goner.  They seem so excited, so joyful.  And so am I.  I am having one of those transcendent moments where I feel one with my surroundings.  I BELONG out here on the water.  Not in it.  ON IT.  I am whole here.  How once I was the water.  How that was stolen from me.  And the joy is extinguished.  I am crying (Yes, on the public ferry).  How dare someone do that?  Now I am sad and furious.  Eventually the joy returns, but it is not the same for having been tainted by the anger-sorrow.  It is less pure.  It is more guarded, more afraid.  And I can see that the theft of joy has happened in my life over and over until I no longer recognize it.  I certainly don't expect it any more.  And in the rare case where the stars align and I am in it, I am terrified the joy will be taken away again.  Sometimes in that terror, I am the saboteur of my own loss.

This is the piece of my life that needs healing most, this separation from source, from who I was supposed to be.  There is still time to be her.  I want that more than anything.  I want to let go of old worn out fears, fears that have no meaning anymore.  I want to embrace the wind.  I want to be the dolphin.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

FW 10.22.16

DI

There's something magical about the island.

The whole drive down I was stewing about something that happened as I left work on Wednesday.  I tried to do my tonglen around the issue and the person, but it just kept getting bigger and bigger with every breath.  The stew getting thicker and thicker until I could hardly breathe.

And then I arrived.  I felt the wind swirl my hair and run up my arms like the hands of a familiar lover.  And the notion of trouble or place or work dissolved.  I smiled for the first time in weeks.  Hell I may have even laughed.

There is a place we all live, where we are all alive.  This place, this tiny island in the gulf is that place for me.  This is home.

FW - 10.19.16

So part of my job is to organize and keep a lab running smoothly.  It's a fair size lab and it hasn't had someone in this position - so there's the expected pushback.  Surprisingly it's mostly from the graduate students who somehow feel it's my job to pick up after them and do all the shit jobs they don't want to because they are beneath them.  Or maybe they resent me telling them what to do.  Which always reminds me of a toddler shouting "You're not the boss of me!"

Today as I was walking out the door, I reminded one of them that the undergrad she was dragging around the lab needed to be added to our protocol.  Yes, I have reminded her previously.  But no progress was being made.  I am leaving for two and an half weeks on vacation, so perhaps I was abrupt with her - I was after all leaving on vacation.  (An action I apologized for).  Still she felt the need to shame me on social media.  She didn't mention me by name, but I'm sure all our mutual (now former mutual) friends knew who she was talking about when she said I was harassing her.  The victim card?  Really?  And social media shaming?

I don't have a place in my life for people who cannot deal with their problems like adults, cannot or will not have a discussion and settle it without this kind of behavior.  This student goes directly to my boss without ever talking to me.  They have never broached the subject with me - despite what they claim on social media.

For two years, I have cleaned up, I have ordered, I have amended protocol after protocol.  I have kept us in compliance.  I have done my job.  Yes, even telling you what to do and reminding you are part of it.  None of that is anything I think is fun.

And today I feel completely and utterly disrespected.  And I am looking at other jobs.  Not a good sign.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

New Ink

Like most women, I have some body issues.  How and when they show up are different.

For most of my life, until my late 40's I had ginormous breasts - the kind that have a letter size that make people go WHOA!  I had them made smaller (and blogged about it here).  I am grateful for that every single day.  My back feels so much better and I have learned to stand up straight - well straighter.  My shoulders are permanently rounded forward after all those years such that I am unable to press them back into a wall when I stand against it.  But I am still grateful.

Having grown up with such big breasts ingrained many behaviors.  And I have been trying to unlearn these.  I am still working on a full upright, chest-forward gait.  I no longer feel the need to carry books or papers to protect them from view.  I stopped looking at the floor when talking to men, so I wouldn't have to see them have an entire conversation with my chest.  They felt no shame in doing this.  On the contrary, I felt shame.  And that's fucked up!

The one that still plagues me is going without a bra publicly.

So, when I wanted to get a tattoo on my back in a place my bra would cover, I knew I would have to just bite the bullet and wear a cami/tank without one.  I knew I would have to sit in full view of people, including men with lots of skin exposed.  I have put this particular tattoo off for years for just this reason.  I was lucky enough to find a shop where the tattooing doesn't happen in a fishbowl where anyone walking by can stop and watch.  I was lucky enough to find a tattooer who is amazing, kind, and a big bad teddy bear kind of guy who puts me at ease and makes me laugh.

There's a little part of me that will, when threatened, jut out its chin and throw the middle finger to the world and forge ahead.  That part shows up when I need it most.  Like yesterday.  I sat in my tiny cami with one strap off and the back pulled way down.  I sat in a room full of men.  I laughed with my tattooer.  And that middle-finger flippin part of me didn't even care when he stood up to get a better angle on the tattoo even though it meant he could see straight down onto my cleaveage.

Let him look.  You don't care.  It said.

And I didn't, not really.  I don't know if he looked.  He probably did.

I laughed as we swapped stories.  He's a good conversationalist.  Even though I sat with a lot of skin exposed, even though he is a big guy and he had his hands on me for hours, I never felt threatened.  I never felt ogled or treated differently.  My skin was his canvas and his focus was always there.  I felt respected and for that I am grateful.  I needed that more than I can say.  To know that I can be exposed and still be safe - that's a hell of a thing to learn in a tattoo shop in the northern burbs of Cincinnati

Saturday, October 8, 2016

FW 10.8.16

I once did a workshop where we were instructed not to touch someone who started to cry unless they specifically asked us to do that.  The facilitator explained that this is something we do to soothe ourselves and not the person who is upset.  I have never been one to take on that role, so it was easy enough to comply.

Until today though, I don't think I understood why.  I was upset.  I am upset.  I am working my way through that to the best of my abilities.  Sometimes I may cry.  That is no small thing for me to allow anyone to see.  To be touched in that moment is the last thing I want or need.  Often it makes me feel worse.  Today was one of those.

When I think about why that might be, I realized there are a host of non-verbal things that come through that hug or arm caress, the key one being - Your grief is making me uncomfortable, please stop.

Suddenly that oh-so-long-ago workshop makes sense.

Emotion is deeply personal to each person.  Only the person feeling it knows what they need.  Only they can articulate what that looks like or doesn't.  Unless otherwise stated, your role is to stand witness.  That is all.

Mean Girls Are Never Pretty

Mom's sojourn in Memory Care ended when she could no longer stand and became what they term a 2-assist.  She transitioned to Skilled C...