Wednesday, April 30, 2008

What happens here, stays here.

My poor, overworked brain. I really bathe it in stress hormones worse than it ever deserves. Generally, it gets back at me by working up some super messed up things for me to dream about.

I'm sure that happens to everyone. I didn't figure there was anything I could do about my nightmares. But I am seeing this new head shrinker who thinks I can. He's been having me write down my dreams and we pick them apart.

I am of course rebelling by being unable to remember many of my dreams, even though I know I am having them. I have so many problems with authority figures, I am willing to sabotage myself. *slaps forehead*

Supposedly, your brain tries to help you out with dreams that serve to fulfill some kind of need that isn't being met in waking life. So, the annoying dreams I have been having about Iceberg, for instance, might go away if I can meet the need for quiet understanding and intimacy that they represent. Maybe if I am doing something a little more active, that will satisfy my brain's desire to blow things up in my dream life.

The idea that my brain is trying to help me is a new one on me. It makes sense, I just never thought of it that way. It could explain a lot of things, actually. Maybe my brain is just more "helpful" than most.

The remaining obstacle is to be able to drop my guard enough to figure this stuff out. It is so stupid that I am paying this guy to help me and I don't want to let him on some level. I get annoyed by the personal questions. How lame is that? Maybe it is because I have absolutely no privacy anymore, except within the confines of my own skull.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Sacred or Profane?

I'm a combination of prodigy and late bloomer. When I was super young, I had a natural talent for some things, particularly in the realms of spirituality/sixth sense. My gaze had a way of unnerving people with something to hide. Some grownups found me to be unaccountably creepy even when I was being cheerful. Unlike my cousins, you were more likely to find me with my nose in a book than outside playing softball. If I did go outside, I was just as likely to be talking to a tree as another person.

For a while, the way I was different mattered to some people, either in that I had some spark of wisdom about me or I was totally crazy. Or both. For a few years, I was about as disconnected from everyday reality as it gets, all without the expense or legal troubles that accompany those who take drugs. It was wonderful and miserable at the same time. I was like one of those crazy Hindu savants on a good day, and on the bad days, well, yeah, not so much. As you might gather, it kinda depended on whether I was in an accepting environment or not. Much of the time I felt genuinely haunted, as much as a person can resemble the haunted Tower of London on the inside. I had some accomodating friends who took care of me essentially. While I am grateful to them, it has rendered those friendships unbalanced, perhaps for life.

On a few occasions, I delved into my natural inclination for Eastern thought and New Age hoodoo and really got somewhere with it. I managed to become both more grounded and more profoundly connected to whatever force animates me. I got a little full of myself, perhaps, but at least I had perspective. Whatever spiritual forces were at work on me had some meaning and I felt more at ease with it. I meditated. I came up with some framework for how my head worked. I started to act (be?) more "normal". I learned how to shut the door on those clamoring spectres and tried to get on with my life albeit with a late start.

Cut to today.

When I went back to school for my nursing program prerequisites, I didn't know I would have such a knack for Biology. Go figure, I'm now doing as well at science stuff as I used to do well with other more creative things. My lab reports amuse as well as inform. I get a real kick out of doing things you can actually PROVE.

But something has happened to me in the intervening years vis a vis my spirituality. I was already agnostically leaning, but something has happned to make me utterly disconnect. Not in a haughty, "I'm a scientist now, therefore athiest." kind of way, but in ways that make me almost as uncomfortable as being too connected did.

I feel like at least one turning point came to me in the Anatomy lab. I had really worried about how seeing and handling the cadaver was going to affect me. However, unlike some of the other students, I took to it with ease. Some of them thought I was creepy because I was willing to be in there with him for long periods by myself. There I was, back to being unintentionally creepy, for totally different reasons. Or maybe the same ones?

You know what was comforting? There was this dead man, and there was no LIFE in him at all. While I had feared that I would find some remnant of who he was clinging to him, there was nothing, only the facts of his biology. He had a stent in one of the arteries of his liver. The first time I held his heart in my hands, I felt really grateful to him. Here was a guy who had given his body so that I and countless others could learn something. That's awesome. We were all really respectful of him.

But as I have moved into a place in my life where I have been under a lot of stress, having even a pinch of simple faith would be handy right about now. And I lack it in a way that feels like an estrangement not only from my old friends but from God/Goddess as well. My mother keeps telling me to pray, but I feel like I did such a good job of closing that door, that now I find myself outside it, dying to get in but terrified to knock.

I'll forge ahead, regardless, even if it isn't very good for me to be as coldly scientific as it was to be floridly spiritual. I also don't want to look back on my past and see nothing but pathology there. As such, I find I just have to not talk about it, or not talk to people who frame their view of me with the timber torn from my temple.

Maybe that longing goes away in time. Maybe if I spend more time in the presence of the empirical, the logical, my yearning for a place in the mystical will fade. I fear that it won't, mostly because other things or people I have longed for are still with me.

Somewhere outside that fear is likely where the truth lies. I'd hate to be the world's most uneasy athiest, because to deny that God exists is a lie I don't dare tell myself. I know for a fact that there is something out there, outside the permissions of my consciousness. Just because I can't hear it speaking to me anymore doesn't mean it doesn't whisper, hoping I will strain to listen.

Friday, April 25, 2008


I have 4 months until I go to school full time. It seems like that would be plenty of time to do stuff that I want to do and also buy textbooks and pay tuition, etc. Maybe it is. All I know is that I am hip-deep in scholarship paperwork and so many demands for money that I am feeling a bit pinned down.

What I really want is a long, solo road trip. I want to taste salt air. I want to get kidnapped after a fashion and have some new, fun shit happen to me before I have to buckle down for 2 years of intense study and 3 years of mandated payback work.

All of my time off from work has centered around taking A to doctor appointments and visits with her bio family. I haven't taken much time for myself. And when I did go to SF a while back, I got totally sick and that certainly minimized my enjoyment.

But planning any kind of trip, family or solo, gets hampered by the stack of mounting bills for this school project. One of my fall classes has 12 textbooks! Twelve! What the hell? Between that and my fervent desire to pay off my car, trying to carve out a lost weekend seems impossible.

You would think I would want more family time, but I have always hankered for alone time trips. Becoming a parent has not changed that desire. It might seem selfish and maybe it is, but my sanity is sometimes tenuous and a long drive clears the cobwebs like nothing else.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Put it in the "what if" machine


Sometimes I wonder "what if?" about things in my life. Who doesn't? I can either drive myself crazy with it, or I can list some to amuse you, my silent, never commenting readership.

1. What if I never left Ohio? Oh my. What if I went to Mount Union College and stayed in Alliance? Eeek. I would not be recognizable as me, that's for sure. I would have a greener garden, a barrel-chested sports fan for a husband, probably. I would have clung to that spiral perm hairstyle longer. I would still be the wierdest girl on the block. I would probably be living in my grandparents' old house and going over to my dad's for pasta on Thursday nights and listening to his ranting.

2. What if I had married someone else? I wouldn't have Tony and that just wouldn't do. He's the only man in the known universe who could stand to live with me long-term. I might have had biological children, but then I wouldn't have Little A. Can't have that. Sometimes I look at my exes and wonder if I could have made it work with any of them. But I married the guy my dog liked. Heidi was a smart dog.

3. What if I went to the looney bin? I'd still be drooling in my Jello, I bet. This one scares me. I can't imagine ever recovering from something like that. Luckily, when my father thought it would be a good idea to institutionalize his rebellious teen daughter, the doctor disagreed with him. It feels like just luck that kept me out of the hospital. Probably that I wasn't really crazy had something to do with it. That last point is the subject of some debate, but I'll just go with how that turned out, thanks.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Dora the Codependent Explorer

Not surprisingly, Little A loves Dora. Like LOVES her. I find myself watching a fair amount of that pint-sized, monkey-befriending, backpack-wearing, Swiper-outsmarting, Spanish-speaking, big-head-having kid. It is a bizarre show. A loves it, but I have some complaints:
1. Dora always commits to help someone before roping the audience in. One presumes that all the kids watching want to help Dora on her adventures. But it seems funny to me that Dora will say "We'll help you!" and then turns to my kid and says "Will you help?" then she pauses for the answer and then says "Great!" If I met a person like that in real life, I don't think I would always be down for that. Bossy, you know? Maybe she shouldn't commit to things she can't do on her own. Just sayin'.
2. The voices. The sound of the voices on this show makes my ears bleed. And why does the Map sound like an Urban Jewish stereotype to me? No criticism, really. I'm sure he's a mensch, even if he does send little children to places like "crocodile lake".
3. The stars. They added these in the later seasons. What is the point of that, exactly? Feh.
/end rant

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Abuse Excuse

In short, there isn't one.
Should it be right, even if it is to an extent understandable, for a person who was abused in youth to become an abuser? One could argue that is all they know, but life is about choice.
When I was young, I was the victim of some pretty serious verbal and emotional abuse at the hands of people who came into my parents' lives after the divorce. I was the child and they were the grownups, but I always felt I should have done better getting over it. Funny how I should have a feeling of shame when I admit that.
Being told that you are useless or that you are crazy or bad hurts just as much as being kicked in the guts. It is abuse, straight up. There is just no excuse for abusing anybody, especially a defenseless child.
Of course, invariably these people had grown up in households where verbal/physical abuse was common. They were small people acting big when they tried to tell me how worthless I was. Was that supposed to be "discipline"? Or, because they found me unsettling for some reason, did they feel at ease to just let the stinging words fly?
The sad part is how I may have gone into overdrive to prove them wrong. On one hand, that's great, because I am tenacious when pursuing a goal. On the other hand, I fear failure so much that I sometimes feel like a shark who has to keep swimming to live and never rests. I have to push, push, push all the time and have a hard time being content with my life as it is. Taking pride in the small things I do right is very hard for me.
But now that I am a parent, I can see that I have made choices to not yell at and degrade the child in my care. I make choices to be loving and supportive. I look at how small and fragile she is and can't imagine ever saying that kind of stuff to her. It would break her to bits for me to express anger to her. It would be wrong, and I just wouldn't do it. I count to ten and try again, but I won't yell. My instinct is to protect her in every way I can.
I was little like that once, and I was a pretty cute kid, too. How anybody got me confused with a punching bag is beyond me.
I'm grateful to this beautiful child for showing me the good consequences of choosing to be kind. I'm not worthless, I have good stuff to give.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Is it jealousy?

I sometimes have feelings that make little sense. Then at other times, they make sense in context, but cause me so much shame I just pretend they don't make sense.

I hate to admit this even to myself, but I am harboring a burgeoning jealousy of A's biological parents. They have almost infinitely more rights than I do at this point, and I am just annoyed by that. I would not ever trade my life for theirs, but they do have something I will never have. Even if they lose their rights, they are still A's mother and father.

I will never get to be A's only mom, no matter what happens. There will always be a line, however tenuous, that connects her to these other people, other families. She's connected to people with pasts and human mistakes and roads I wouldn't dare travel. Someday she will have perspective on that, I can only hope.

I can hope to give her good skills for life, but I can't give her my genes, my laugh, or any of the good things in my own heritage. I feel bad for the strange way we have to graft her into the family tree. As much as I love her as if she were my own flesh, her history diverges from mine in strange ways and travels back through unknown destinations.

I love her, but she isn't all the way mine yet. There is always the chance that the courts will make a drastic reversal and I could lose her forever, and I would never know what happened to her. I'm jealous that I have to face that fear through no fault of my own. I'm a good parent to A, but I'm not blood, and blood trumps a lot. It doesn't matter how good of a person I am or how good my intentions are. It is going to turn out how it turns out, and I have to wait and see if I get to be a real, legal mom.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Things on my mind

I left my heart in San Francisco, that's for sure. It is my true spiritual home in all its overpriced, messy glory. I yearn for it in every cell of my body sometimes. In its quirky embrace, a weirdo like me can just blend in or perhaps approach normal.

When we lived there, life was simple. We were broke, of course. We would be even more broke if we lived there now. The Bay Area at large is so crazy expensive. I totally get that we had to go to Washington to live in order to have our goofy lab mix in our lives. We need to be in Reno in order to build our family to include little A, who I already can't imagine my life without. But what I wouldn't give to live there again, for lots of reasons.

I'm so homesick for it today. I want some decent bread and some foggy air and all the little things. I miss the cable car bells and the good dim sum and the funky bookstores. I miss the cultural diversity and the chances of running across an accidental parade. I miss the museums and the shopping and the chance to walk for a little while and get where I'm going.

My finances almost assure at the moment that I can't live there again for a long, long time.

But just because I can't see and caress my lover doesn't mean the longing goes away. I wonder where I will end up next, and what I will add to my life there?

Monday, April 7, 2008

Firefighters Wanted

Know any firefighters? Especially from San Francisco?

I'm doing some research for my next writing project. I want my protagonist to be a big, strapping fireman, and I need to research what it is really like to have that job/lifestyle. And I want to set the story in San Francisco, because I love it there so much. New York has the iconic fireman status, but I don't really know New York as well.

I also need some good sources about antidiluvean (pre biblical flood) cultures and lore. Particularly about Nephilim and angels.

Also, has the whole storyline involving the "Angel of Death" been done, well, to death? I have this good idea, and I really like it, but I want to put a unique spin on it if possible. I'm going to read some similar books to see if I can add something to that mythos.

I'm trying hard not to psych myself out on that score. I work in spooky urban fantasy for the most part. Supernatural and spiritual themes run all through my work. But lately I have stalled out on new projects partly because I have had that "nothing new under the sun" feeling about some of the ideas I am having.

That may at least partly be due to lack of confidence. But I am willing to take my time to research this one well and develop strong plot and character outlines first. I don't want to jump in and get muddled around the middle like I sometimes do. Although I do think it is funny when my characters get painted into a corner and have to find a way out.