Crack.

My world came full circle this weekend, when I saw my childhood choir director for the first time in about 18 years or so. Looking into his familiar face made my day. My favorite memory of him is that his last name is four syllables, so one of our choir members printed up t-shirts with the first page of No. 44, Hallelujah, with his name instead of “Hallelujah.” I wish you’d seen his face when we all surprised him~ it was absolutely priceless, because of course we were all wearing them and started singing the moment he walked in.

It’s moments like this that make me glad to be back in Texas, because it truly feels like coming home for good. I feel like I’ve had some of the wildest times of my life, the worst mistakes, the highest victories. I didn’t reach the goal I’d hoped while I was gone, but I got what I needed, which was the idea that I could be me, and that was okay, because that person is beloved regardless of how messy my life is at any given moment.

It’s storming out, and the calming rattle and hum is feeding my contemplative nature. I’m listening to Regina Spektor radio on Pandora, which is just the perfect writer’s blend… and yet, I’m not sure what to say. The things that happen to me are all interesting in their own way. Culling it down is harder than dictating everything, but that would turn my blog into even more of a brain dump than it already is.

Speaking of which, thank you for reading my brain dump. Special thanks to those who help shovel.

I would say that summing up my Portland experience is this: there are lots of situations I hope aren’t the end of the movie. Right now, it kind of looks like Broken Flowers, where at the end there are more questions than answers. I got that line from an episode of Will and Grace, where Grace is crying over something (I forget what), and Will comforts her by saying, “Gracie, this just isn’t the end of your movie. There’s more.” To address the inevitable question in your mind, I am not talking about the relationship with my abuser. I feel like I have made it clear that I have high standards for getting access to me due to all the damage done to my foundation. She has made it clear through thought, word, and deed that I should never expect it. So I don’t.

I am talking about all the things that I left undone.

That line touches me to my core, because it comes from the Book of Common Prayer.

Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.

I let that line kick me in the gut every week, because I really feel the discomfort. I have to listen to it so that I can be a better person than I was the week before.

I pray for all the hurt that I’ve caused my friends and family, because acknowledgement of my flaws and failures is the seat of Christianity for me. Like C.S. “Jack” Lewis, “I don’t pray because it changes God. I pray because it changes me.”

I tested a lot of boundaries when I was on my own, like all young people do. When I found out that there was a better way, I chose it. I thank God every day for the compassion I’ve been able to learn for myself, because it gives me more compassion and love for others than I ever thought possible.

There’s something really happening at my church. There’s something familiar about the words of the Anglican church still being said so that there is still the ritual. I can’t always believe in God, but I can be faithful, do the ritual and “act as if” until the next “God moment” appears.

And it always does.

The reason that I saw my childhood choir director is that his best friend’s dad died, and we were both at the funeral. My priest also attended, and sat next to me during the service. I said something snarky about the preacher (when you run out of things to say, stop talking) and she said something about how I shouldn’t do that because she has a lot of sympathy for preachers. I completely realized just how jaded I’d become, because while I take my faith seriously, I think a lot of things about church life are uproariously funny and deserved of ridicule because that’s the foundation of a good church vs. a bad one- the ability to laugh at themselves. At the same time, because my priest didn’t like it, I felt that I’d crossed the line between appropriate and inappropriate things to say, and I melted from this emotional armor and thought about what she said all day long. I thought about how young she was, and how I didn’t want to be the one to jade her, as well.

If that’s not a God moment, I don’t know what is.

My “Prompt” Attention

I saw something today on Facebook that piqued my attention.

If there are toxic people in your life, are you obligated to enlighten them to that and explain why you no longer want to interact with them? Or, is it acceptable to just, well, slip away….quietly, without explanation? Discuss.

The only word that comes to my mind when I think about this question is “expectation.” We are implored as peaceful people to live without them, but we are all fallibly human instead. Expectation management is not easy. There’s no schedule. Emotions aren’t due on the 15th. Our society tells us that when someone else has an expectation of us that we do not want to fulfill, it is truly ok just to walk away and let it go.

Let’s think about that for a second.

Do you have expectations of those same people? How would you feel if someone slipped away without telling you? Would you be able to walk away from them as easily as they’re supposed to walk away from you? Will you be able to handle the gorge between you if and when it’s inevitable you’ll see each other again?

These are flowery words, but come with a velvet hammer.

Get. Your. Shit. Handled.

People are so afraid of conflict. We just are. We hem and haw and put off until it is the very worst situation possible and we react with “I JUST CAN’T HANDLE IT ANYMORE!” Maybe the answer isn’t finding out how to slip away quietly, but how the relationship got so strained in the first place. Relationships don’t generally start out with antagonism. That stuff grows over time, especially if the person is related to you or such a close friend you forgot when they came into your life, anyway.

And eventually, holding someone at arm’s length to get some distance from the situation will turn into someone holding on, because they don’t know.

They. Don’t. Know.

They don’t know you aren’t on their team anymore. They don’t know that you’re over it. With long relationships, would it occur to you that the person was done if you’d always been able to pick up right where you left off in the old days?

Break the habit of slipping away if only to protect yourself, because it will bite you in the ass if you don’t.

For instance, when I was single and living in Portland, I was dating three women at the same time. I say that to look like a badass, when what I really meant is that I went on three first dates.

I didn’t handle date #2 well, and I slipped away without calling. Cut to a huge scene in a bar that would be better left undescribed, but I still had all my hair at the end of the night so it couldn’t have been that bad.

The take home message is that bailing without telling someone creates more trouble than telling the truth ever would. I should know. I’ve seen me do it.

Watching My Drinking

I have drunk so much water and punch today that my coworkers are starting to worry that I have bladder problems. It’s simple, really. There is no better medicine than punch and water for snot. It stops the coughing and starts the never-ending nose blow that comes with the common cold… but at least you can get the snot out of your body and into the trash can (with the proper amount of Kleenex).

My busy peeing schedule isn’t exactly impeding my work. Basically, it’s just making everyone in the department laugh in a “there she goes again” sort of way. It doesn’t help that there’s a pool out the window of the break room to remind me how maybe seven water-based drinks in two hours could have been meted out a little better.

On the plus side, I am not coughing. I am not having too much trouble on the phone. I will make it through the day, which is more than I could say when I woke up this morning. I could barely talk before I got into the shower and breathed in the steam. I’m even on for choir practice, barring vocal disaster. I mean, who drinks more than a singer?

I’m not sure I need an answer to that. 🙂

My App for That

People ask me all the time what software I use on my Linux box. Here’s a list.

  • Internet
    • Mozilla Firefox with Addons
      • DownThemAll!
      • NoScript
      • Video Download Helper
      • Ghostery
    • Mozilla Thunderbird with Addons
      • Lighting
      • Google Calendar Provider
    • Pidgin
    • FileZilla
    • Transmission
  • A/V
    • Banshee
    • VLC
    • Popcorn Time
    • Transmission
    • k3b
  • Office
    • LibreOffice (install Java for DB connections)
    • Scribus
  • Graphics
    • Gnu Image Manipulation Program (GIMP)
    • Inkwell
  • Backup
    • Google Drive
    • Dropbox

You can find just about any of these applications for Windows and OS X as well. I hope this is helpful- I’ve been meaning to post it for, oh, three years.

 

Just Set Up the Chairs

This morning when I came in to work, I sounded like Benson from Regular Show… just exasperated beyond belief, but not because anyone had done anything to me. I am beginning a marvelous cold, and there is just nothing like not being sick enough to go home, yet sick enough to make you feel like dog crap on cement during a Houston summer. I’m making it through ok, but I forgot my decongestant and my nose spray. I did remember cough drops, though. That is the one miracle in the middle of the misery. I am taking care of myself so I don’t lose my voice, but that’s usually what’s next on the common cold roster. In moments like this, I take only the advice of Dr. Richard Stasney, voice specialist for Houston Grand Opera: “drink water til’ you pee pale.”

Maybe a little lemon to take the phlegm off your vocal chords, but whatever.

I have to go back to work soon, because my lunch will be over. Then, it’s back to the grind with me as I struggle to talk on the phone without giving them my best Debra Winger voice.

Listen, I know that this entry is just basically a crapload about how I don’t want to be at work, but I am so out of it that no one should trust me with anything as important as setting up the chairs.

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day has been loaded for me since I was a teenager… not because of my own mother, but because of my abuser. She beckoned me toward her and simultaneously shut the door in my face, so I never knew if it was ok to celebrate her or not. Whether or not I celebrate her with cards and flowers, past memories wash over me like saltwater waves~ beautiful with a bitter taste in my mouth.

With the exception of the part of the day with my own sister and mother, I spent the day staring into space. I sat on the couch and looked out the window, watching animals and their humans walk by, subconsciously driving down Weslayan toward Drake in my mind, noting that we have to go to Central Market and maybe Dana wouldn’t mind driving me by…

I snap out of my daze and realize that these memories need to stay in my head. Nothing will be accomplished by trying to jog my memory even further, because I’m already feeling emotionally crispy and I don’t want to exacerbate the situation. Staring out the window and thinking is both the best and the worst I can do.

To quote myself from a long ago entry on a long ago blog, “so we sat there, my spirit and I, wrestling each other without keeping score.”

fun.

When I was 13 or 14, I don’t remember exactly, the woman known simply to this web site as “my abuser” said something to my mother that I will never forget, because at the time I thought it was just mean and the most horrible thing she ever could have said about me in a million years (but she was forgiven somewhere around 1995). She said, “Carolyn, I think she’s an alto.”

I KNOW, RIGHT????????

I remembered that conversation when I started in my new church choir, and it did not go well at first. It wasn’t that I couldn’t sing… it was that I didn’t fit in. Because I don’t want to hurt anyone, I will limit my comments about my church choir to the simple fact that I can sing high notes… and the people around me were First Sopranos. If you have been in a choir for any length of time, I won’t have to say anything more than that.

Last Sunday, my throat was a little bit scratchy, so I asked if I could sing alto. All of the sudden, my brain was firing faster, because sight-reading harmony is a hell of a lot harder than sight-reading melody. The person next to me was hilarious, and we wrote notes to each other like choir people having fun are supposed to do. It was then that I realized maybe I *am* an alto, because I would sing low notes all day not to have to compete. I don’t compete.

I write notes and have fun.