Sunday, October 9, 2016

Actions. Reactions. Changing The Cycle.

   It is no secret that I do not handle confrontation well, I don't hide the fact. Hell, I can't hide the fact. I have one of two reactions: Either I get angry, soft spoken, clinical, and almost cruel; or I shake, want to vomit, get tongue tied, and can only think of how to extract myself from the situation. Yes, classic Fight of Flight reaction. In an extreme. Adrenaline fueled, exhausting, neurotic extreme.
    This last week I have had several instances that triggered the second response, Flight, in an extreme. The custody battle of the Tiny House. No, there really wasn't a battle, legally I had no rights, but it was an unexpected and harsh confrontation that has had me stressing my brains out. I haven't slept well, waking in the night with anxiety and scenes replaying in my head on endless loop. My digestion has been wrecked. Mostly I have wanted to hide in my bed with the lights off. I felt violated, wronged, intimidated, and harassed. I knew today would be, hopefully, the final chapter, and I was dreading the confrontation. That changed Friday. I had an epiphany.
    Swimming clears my head as nothing else does. It is the Zen-like quality of lap after lap. The scenery doesn't change, the only sound is my own breath bubbling past my ears, I count strokes and laps. It has a brain numbing quality, but it is meditative, calming, and mind clearing. I realized that through the whole saga of the Tiny, there was one constant: The tragic and unexpected loss of my friend Bryony. That was the triggering event, the Big Bang, the catalyst. Boil it all down, and there you have it. I let my own financial stress and sense of loss blind me to the facts. This is not about ownership of any material goods. It is the sense of loss at the heart of it that manifested in what, at the time, seemed a righteous indignation that these people would come on my property, and lay claim to what had in my mind become something of a potential shrine to my lost friend. As I swam, all the facts started lining up, filling in the blanks, and becoming a clear pattern of bad behavior on my part. Yes, I take responsibility for my actions.
    I told myself that fault and guilt were not on me, but on the actions of the people invading my home and letting accusations fly. I realized, as I swam, that if I can't control someone else's actions, I can control my reactions, which in turn can shift all behaviors involved. I came to the realization that I needed to look at the core issue here, and act accordingly. The core issue? The loss of my friend. That is where all the emotion was coming from, that deep ache, the broken feeling inside my chest, the desire to lash out and retaliate. And who was I dealing with, who was this person confronting me? The mother. Yes, the estranged mother, but the mother none-the-less. I realized, that as dysfunctional as their relationship may have been, now there was no chance that there could ever be any kind of resolution. This woman would have to live the rest of her life knowing that she would never be able to reconcile in any way, never really know the fabulous person that she had shut out of her life, never have a chance to say, "I am so sorry."  And that is a tragedy heaped onto a tragedy. I love my children with all my heart, and cannot imagine what it would be like to have them estranged from me. It would shatter me.
    So, this was my epiphany:  I lost a friend, but she lost a child. I can think of no greater loss than the loss of a child. It would ruin me. So, despite all I know, all I have been told, all the trauma behind the life and times, I would treat this woman as I would wish to be treated. I apologized for my unkind words, and told her with heartfelt sincerity, "I am so sorry for your loss." I truly meant it, every word. I can't change the past, I can't fix past traumas and abuses, but I can change how I chose to react. Instead of perpetuating anger, hostility, and drama I chose to be calm, spread understanding, peace and love. And then we talked, like rational adults, and parted on decent terms. No, we will never be friends. Hopefully we will never meet again. But my fear of accidental run-ins, or retaliations is now non-existent. I feel at peace.  I don't know if it is what my friend would want, but I can hope that they would be pleased that I stepped outside of the cycle of stress and anger, changed patterns, and altered bad behavior. I feel good about what I did, proud of myself for not letting the actions of others feed into my own negativity. I choose Peace and Love, It has to be so.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Blanket Fort, Book, Tea, Nap?

    Suddenly, Autumn. It seems like just yesterday it was too hot and sunny too work on the west side of the house. The last few days, grey and stormy. Today started with a nice break. The sun was shining, things were drying off, I went out and picked some grapes for breakfast. An hour later it is dark, the wind is whipping the trees and ripping leaves off, and rain is slanting sideways past my windows. Yes, just last week I found myself saying, "I almost wish we could have a few rainy days so I could have a little down time." I really said it, and knew I would live to regret the words. Today I am barely functional. Not in a bad way. Just in a lethargic way. It is an "Eat carbs, read, and sleep" kind of day. I am still in my fuzzy, leopard print bathrobe, or "Housecoat" as I prefer to call it (sounds a little less coma inducing). Today feels like Blanket Forts, Earl Grey tea, and easy reading science fiction.
    I know that in a few hours I will suddenly get hit with a rush of hyperactivity linked to my chronic need to feel like I accomplish things on my days off. Last Sunday was such a bust, because of the psycho-drama that mentally and emotionally threw me down a ravine. I got nothing done all day Sunday. Now, here I am, a few days later, still not managing to get anything done. Hell, I even skipped my morning workout (freaky, I know). Now, it is barely past noon, all I have managed to do is make breakfast and feed the animals, and I am ready to crawl back in bed for a nap. Admittedly, I have not been sleeping well the last week or so, again, thanks to the recent psycho-drama that was foisted on me.
    I shouldn't feel so bad about wanting to catch up on sleep. "Sleep is the Golden Chain that ties our health and our bodies together."  I have rarely slept well, in my entire adult life. If I make it through the night only waking 3 or 4 times, that seems like a good night's sleep. I can't imagine sleeping soundly through the night. "I have always envied people who sleep easily.Their brains must be cleaner, the floorboards of the skull well swept, all the little monsters closed up in a steamer trunk at the foot of the bed." So maybe a plan to nap, rest, recover, recuperate, is not such a terrible, or slovenly idea. Yeah, it does grate against my nature. I can't quite allow for a day of total lassitude. But for now, maybe it is okay to allow myself the chance "To sleep, perchance to Dream."

Sunday, October 2, 2016


    Sometimes I think I am a magnet for psychos. Just like kittens and stray dogs, the crazies seem to find me. Maybe it is because they know I am non-confrontational, as well as disinclined to fight against unfair demands. I just try to keep them calm, then disengage and escape as soon as possible. It makes me feel like I surrender to their aggressive, intimidating tactics. Give up without a fight, It is humiliating and degrading, But yet, I know that there is no "winning" with sociopaths, people without scruples. People who are, in and of themselves, so devious and manipulative that they suspect that everyone else is the same. They can't believe that I am not trying to outsmart them, or cheat them, or somehow take advantage of a situation. They cannot imagine that I would do something just because it is the right thing to do, or that I want to help a friend. They want to know what's in it for me? If I try to convince them that I am not out to profit from a tragedy, they think I am somehow running a scam. Because that is what they would do.
    We all react in ways that mirror our own personalities. I assume that people are trustworthy, honest, and will honor an agreement. Because that is what I would do. Sadly, I think I am in the minority. Today proved my point to the Nth degree. It was a brutal, stressful lesson. One that will likely cause me stressed out sleepless nights for a while.
    I hate that people come into my life and damage my trust. It has happened more than a few times over the years. I fight back from it, try to return to my previous gullible, trusting self. But each time it is a little harder. It makes me feel violated. I think that this kind of emotional and psychological attack is worse than a physical attack. Physical, I could fight back, and would fight back. Emotional or psychological, I retreat and do my best to shield my inner psyche from the assault. I still come out of it feeling shellshocked, drained, physically ill. Today was spent trying to just regain a sense of balance, get my churning gut under control, reduce the tension in neck and shoulders that was causing a headache that made me feel like my scalp was being peeled off. There was a level of PTSD involved. Reacting and over-reacting. Shaking that took hours to subside. There is a reason I live where I do, trying to limit my contact with horrible people. Twice this week, the horrible people have come to me. Come to my house. Tainted my sanctuary. Invaded my life.
    Hopefully, I have set things in motion to make them leave me alone, These horrid, crazy people that have sucked me into their petty universe. It is easiest just to acquiesce, so they will leave me alone. I will take the high road. Disengage and walk away. I can't let their crazy infect my sanctuary. But g'damn, it is so hard to shut it out.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


    Grief is a mysterious affliction. Painful, hot and cold, waxing and waning, swells up from the deep to grab you by the ankles and drag you under the dark waves. I have lost people, friends and family, over the years. Old age, suicide, motorcycle accident, cancer. Crossing the bridge after a long life is a well earned rest, I think. Suicide was shocking and not shocking, coming after a life time of severe mental illness. Motorcycle accidents are tragic, but oddly, we know it is part of the risk of riding. Cancer... well cancer is a motherfucker, and it sucks, but you see it coming and manage to have yourself a bit prepared once all the options and alternatives have been exhausted. Fuck Cancer.
    But this latest loss. Sudden and unexpected, unfair and unjust, undeserved and out of the blue. I can't wrap Brain around it. I am in denial, which I do know is one of the stages of grief. But I'm not here to fall into the easy analytical aspect of how the world of academia says we should work our way through our grieving process. I want to rant and rave. I want to fall into the dark abyss and wallow. I want to curl into a fetal position and cry until I can't breathe, I want them back. I want to go back in time to Saturday so I can warn them to check their insulin, eat right, and get some rest. I want to sit up through the night watching them sleep so I will be able to interject myself between them and Death as he walks through the door draped in dark robes and armed with a scythe. If I could have been there, I know the signs, I am trained to see and understand the signs of low blood sugar. I am trained in what to do to fend off diabetic issues. If I could just turn back time a few days. I don't think that is asking too much to save the blithe spirit of my friend. I am trying to find inspiration in all of this, knowing that is what they would want.
    Funny, my use of the term "blithe spirit" came without thinking, and just to make sure I wasn't delusional I double checked the definition and this is what it said: Joyous, merry, or happy in disposition: glad; cheerful. "Everyone loved them for their blithe spirit."

 And to research a little deeper, the term "blithe spirit" comes from a Shelley poem titled "To A Skylark." Fitting for our poet, Bryony.
This is what one university English professor writes:  "The word "blithe" is an Old English word literally meaning 'carefree, happy and lighthearted.'
"Spirit" of course would mean 'an incorporeal supernatural being.'
(quite fitting for our Bryony, I think.)
Shelley begins his poem by saluting and greeting the skylark by calling it a "blithe spirit," because the skylark is a bird which is rarely visible and only its melodious song is heard by people. The sweet song of the skylark reveals to Shelley that unlike ordinary mortals like himself it is absolutely carefree." (again, more fitting than I might have anticipated.)
    I won't say my friend was carefree, they had more than their fair share of the burdens of life, and understood all too well how harsh a place the world could be. But it was how they chose to live that makes me think that they reveal to ordinary mortals like myself that they were, if not carefree, they were free. They chose freedom to live life as they wished, flying in the face of ordinary restraints. So, here I am, taking inspiration. Finding appropriate symbolism in a chance phrase. I want and need there to be some meaning behind all of this. So, I choose, at this moment, to think of my friend, a blithe spirit, a carefree, merry, joyous Skylark singing their song for all to hear, though rarely seen, Fly my friend.

Monday, September 12, 2016


    I lost a friend Saturday night. I didn't find out until late Sunday, when I was cold, tired, and hungry after spending the better part of 5 hours at a Life Flight landing zone waiting for a patient to arrive. I got home, heated a can of ravioli (Annie's organic cheese ravioli in a non-BPA lined can... it still tasted like canned ravioli), and slumped at my computer to veg out while eating mindlessly. Right there, in my Facebook feed, "Passed in the night from complications of diabetes." Let me put you straight, this was a vibrant, sparklingly incandescent person who knew of their health issues and was very conscientious. There had not been previous episodes or incidents. This came out of the blue like sucker punch. Only 33 years old. Loved and lusted for. Likely envied for their quick mind, wicked wit, and poetry skills that I have watched blossom over the last 6 years or so. I remember dancing at the E Club, hot and sweaty, singing loudly along with 4 Non-Blondes to "What's Going On." Every since, I have thought of them every time I heard that song. Now it will be a song to bring a touch of tears to my eyes.
    Life has taken on a surreal quality in the 22 hours since I read those words. I keep expecting to hear that it is some huge and horrible mistake. Oddly enough, I spent the better part of yesterday morning working on their tiny house, which is really just a shell with the interior barely roughed in. I have been doing repairs, and had been given free rein to take over the construction and make it liveable space. I sat on the bed frame, with a cup of coffee at my elbow, and made up a long list of the projects I hoped to complete over the winter. I had planned to text them the list, knowing how excited they would be. Going out on a long medical rescue had kept me from sending the text. I am relieved, on one hand, since I would have been texting to the ether. I am also saddened, wanting to think that they would have gotten the text anyway. Oh well, hindsight.
    I haven't cried yet. I think it is because I still don't really believe they are gone. There is a monthly poetry gathering later this week that they were an organizer for, that is now being turned into a memorial and remembrance. Funny, I just remembered, I was at Queer Poetry Night the very first time they stepped up to the mike to publicly read one of their poems. It was beautiful, funny, sexy. They were both confident and shy, and altogether charming. It was at the beginning of their blossoming, changing from small town misfit to big city inspiration and rabble rouser.
    I watched them grow and change, and felt a certain envy for the way they had come into their own. Being their own damned self with every fiber of their being. Okay, now the tears come, in a torrent. The world lost a beautiful, unique, inspiring, intelligent, hilarious, ludicrous, loud, charming, sensitive, extroverted introvert. We lost a spirit that could not be dimmed despite having been given a rough road to travel. And travel it they did, not merely traveled but paraded, stomped, danced, skipped, and cartwheeled. I lost a friend who I could trust with my deepest secrets, and who made me laugh, feel less like a hermit, and who made me want to sit up late talking of all things and nothing. We shared victories and losses, dreams and delusions, fantasies and reality. I thought we had all the time in the world.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016


    I stood under my Apple Ent and watched the storm come blowing in across the fields. The smell of rain was heavy in the air. The wind brought in a temperature drop. I knew the rain was coming so had been out working to clear up the detritus of my current projects. Power tools needed to be stashed safely, hand tools brought in and hung on appropriate hooks. I raked up as much of the paint chips as was humanly possible, bagging them and handfuls of earth, rocks, and leaves along with the paint.
    I stood watching the storm come, protected by my eldest apple tree. I watched, with my dogs hovering near to hand, until fat drops of rain made little dust spurts in the plowed field to the south of me. It got so dark it felt like a solar eclipse. Too dark for a late summer afternoon. Too chilly for an August day.
    But we need the rain. I hope it rains hard enough to wash the dust of summer off of my world. My property has the look of a fallout zone, coated in grey and brown dust from the plowing and dusting of lime that has been going on in the fields around me. One of the few curses of living in farmland. I spent part of my morning washing my backyard, rinsing away the heavy layer of grey that had dimmed my world to the spectrum of a black and white photograph. One amusing aspect of the recent dusting is how it has made spider webs stand out in stark contrast. It is a good thing I am not an arachnophobe or I might pack up and move at the sight of the thousands of webs covering nearly everything. I did have to rehome a number of spiders while scraping and sanding the house. The little fellas really like lurking under the lap siding. I made sure they were safely moved into my over-zealous camelia bushes.
    The rain may have been a false start. A bit of premature ejaculate. Big fat drops leading to not much of anything. Could very well be a metaphor for life if I want to get philosophical, Instead I think I will take this opportunity to bake some bread and do some long overdue housework since my time of late has been taken up with outside tasks that are far more entertaining and  satisfying than sweeping up dog hair. Or I might pour myself a cup of coffee and look over the sketches and measurements for phase 3 of the cedar deck, and ponder the construction and framing. Or, I could make a cup of double bergamot Earl Grey and do nothing. Nah, life is too short to sit and do nothing, Bread baking it is. Might as well take advantage of a cool, dark day, though there will be more than enough such days in a few short weeks. But I think I will make that cup of Earl Grey.

Too Much To Do

    Summer always seems to flash past in a blur of activity. Some years I am racing every other weekend, some years I am working like a fool to improve my little piece of property. The last two years have been of the home improvement type. I know it isn't as exciting as the racing summers, but they are very satisfying. I have been working like a fiend. Putting in an 8 hour day at my job, then racing home and working until sunset on my little hermitage. It is wearing me out.
    The last few weeks I have been feeling that oppressive presence that heralds the coming of the dark, cold days of Winter. I know I still have a month or two of decent weather as we head into Autumn, but the feeling is still there. It is a demon that rides my shoulder, whispering, "I am coming." Every year I feel it and every year I try to get my life in order so I can face it down with power.
    This year I have taken on a few monumental projects that will be a challenge to finish up. Paint the house, rebuild the deck, build a greenhouse, finish the last bits of The Fort, build a small tool shed. The deck is nearly done, but the last section is waiting on me getting that dorner of the house painted before final assembly. The house painting is a labor of love. Serious labor. Scrape, sand, prime, scrape and sand some more, prime some more, paint. I have the back half about 80% done, but haven't even started on the front yet. Today, it is cool and damp so painting will have to wait. I am almost thankful that the weather changed, giving me a break from scraping paint in the hot sun. But it is good weather for deck building, so I tell myself.
    What I really want to do today is stay inside and watch the grey clouds slip past, and the cool wind play with the trees. But life is too short for such indulgences. Besides, there will be plenty of days ahead when I am all but forced to sit inside and watch the rain and wind.  Okay, enough ruminating, time to get outside and get shit done.