Saturday, February 23, 2013


I’ve never been one for routine, for rising in the morning and performing the same tasks in the same order day after day, week after week.  My husband does this.   He relies on sheer muscle memory to jump-start every day.   He says it gives him comfort and a sense of control of his life.  He says that if he does not go through the same motions in the same sequence every morning, he’s afraid he’ll leave something out.  Like, that he’ll be in the car halfway to work and look down to discover he’s not wearing pants.
It’s a skill I have never honed; indeed, a need I’ve never had.  In fact, I am quite in need of exactly the opposite.  I need variety.  I need every day to be different from the last, if only in some tiny way.  Routine bores me to madness and only exacerbates my middle-aged perception that life is slipping through my fingers faster and faster, unremarked and unremarkable. 
Still, if you spend enough years on the planet, you start to recognize the patterns that shape your days, unbidden as they may be.  This time of year—this maddening mid-winter creep toward spring—is traditionally a time of restlessness and tedium for me.  It was something I had nearly forgotten about myself.   During the cafĂ© years, there was never time to be restless or bored.   I might have traded something very precious for the opportunity to BE bored in those days.  Last year, still In Recovery, I almost relished the concepts of restlessness and boredom.  So this year, I’ve been kind of taken aback by how much I hate being restless and bored.
It’s not that I don’t have a stack of shelved projects I could be working on.  I have a buffet-top that needs tiling and a dresser waiting to be refinished for my office/guest bedroom.  But since those projects would involve dragging me away from my cheerful fire and out to the cold, ill-lit (and still cluttered with old restaurant equipment) garage, they have little appeal.  I do, however, have one task that has been on a back, back burner ever since the demise of AOL J-land; one that keeps me busy and engaged in the wee hours of the morning when I might otherwise be doing midnight shopping on Amazon or playing game after game of Spider for no other reason than that a day of restless boredom has not tired me out sufficiently to require sleep. 
In 2008, after much work and worry (which I could ill afford in the middle of my restaurant tenure), “Coming to Terms…” was saved from the noose of the AOL J-land death sentence and transferred safely here to Blogger.  Or mostly, anyway.  Every picture I had posted in every entry for five years disappeared into the doomed AOL Hometown ether.  So though my words had been safely transported, the pictures were gone.  Reduced to empty squares with little red x’s.  And since many of my entries were 75% or more pictorial, this was a problem.  A problem with which I did not have the time or energy to deal.  Until now.
Luckily, most of the images I had posted to my journal had to be manipulated in some way.  I would choose a picture, crop it, shrink it, mess with it, and then save it to my desktop so I could find it easily once it came time to upload it.  Eventually, the desktop became so crowded with little jpeg files, I created a folder called “Pictures for Journal” into which it became my habit to sweep the files once I was done with them.
In this case, my chronic inability to throw things away did NOT come back to bite me in the ass.  It was a lifesaver.  Because the lion’s share of the pictures that disappeared into the ozone when my journal was exported to Blogger are right there in a virtual file where I can easily find them.  All I have to do is sift through five years of postings, one by one, go into the “edit” screen and re-upload (is that a word?) the appropriate pictures.  
I’ve been at it for a week or so, and I’m up to August of 2005.  In the back of my mind, I wonder why I’m doing this.  No one, NO ONE but me ever delves back into the archives of “Coming to Terms…”  What difference could it possibly make that some of the entries are meaningless or irrelevant without the pictures?  Or that some of the formatting got mangled in the transfer, or that some of the font colors I used eight years ago are illegible in my current template?  What does it matter?  Who cares? 
I care.  It matters a great deal.  To me.
With all its warts and boogers, silliness and memes, rants and whining, “Coming to Terms…” is one of the most important accomplishments of my life.  It is something with which I have stuck, through tears and anger, embarrassment and frustration, awkwardness and sanguinity, tentative optimism and hopeless pessimism, for almost ten years.  That’s longer than I’ve done anything in my life, besides be married.  This is a body of work of which I am immensely solicitous and protective.  Not just the writing, which at best shows brief flashes of brilliance but no consistent talent; but the growth, and the change (as well as the things that will never change), and the commitment it represents.  And the history.  The story of my life—at least for the past decade. 
Even if I am the only one who ever comes here, ever delves back into the archives, it needs to be good.  It needs to be all that it was…all that it can be.  I’m pretty sure I don’t cherish some secret hope that someday it will be discovered; that someday someone will come here and read, and come to know something valuable about my life and my times. 
I just know in my heart that “Coming to Terms…” needs to be in its best order. 
Just in case.      

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Old Logo

For anyone who is wondering, I posted this here so I could add the picture to my email signature.  For some reason, gmail wouldn't accept it from flickr--probably because flickr isn't owned by google.  :P

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Stalled on the tracks, seat belt won’t unlock, the door handle has broken off in my hand…and there’s a really bright light coming at me at sixty miles an hour.
Old family issues are threatening; and if I have to rip the seatbelt out by the roots and crawl out the moon roof, I’m not going to let them flatten me.
I have been told that I need to forgive and forget.  I don’t think I haven’t forgiven.  I have opened my heart to the point where we have been able to be a family.  And it was I, make no mistake, who did the forgiving.  No one else was going to move in that direction.  I was exiled from the family, and if I wanted back in, I had to put away the hurts, shelve the bad feelings and make nice.  And so I did.  And I don’t regret it.
I did not forget, though.  I would be a fool to forget.  Because to forget would be to open myself to being blindsided all over again, by things I never imagined my family could do or say or be.  I may be many things, but I am not a fool.  I never EVER again want to go through the kind of pain I battled after Dad died.  It was a long time ago…I can hardly believe how long.  Fourteen years.  But I can not forget the pain.  I. Will. Not. Forget.
But, by god, I forgave.  By way of demonstrating that forgiveness, I have allowed the spearhead of that pain and exile to live part-time under my roof for almost five years.  Back in 2008, sister “C” was a real estate agent facing the reality of the housing crash.  As the breadwinner for her household, it was imperative that she find steady work.  Quickly.  In her infinite wisdom, she decided the only place she was going to find appropriate employment was the Portland metro area.  And while her household was in transition, she asked if she could stay in one of my extra bedrooms while she was in town. 
Once established in her job, she would sell their home in Eugene and buy a house closer to where she worked.  A simple plan.  A temporary plan.  And in 2008, husband and I only used the house as a place to sleep and house our pets, so it was really no inconvenience to have her here.
Not only has her plan derailed, but there seems to be no hope of getting it back on track.  It would take pages, and still be incomprehensible to anyone who has not witnessed the drama for over twenty years, to explain the complexities of my sister’s marital relationship.  Suffice it to say that the only way for her and her husband to live together is NOT to live together…at least not all the time.  She seems to have solved that issue by living at MY house half the time. 
Well..she sleeps here, anyway.  She contributes nothing to the household.  Not money (I have never asked…that was the whole reason she needed to stay here to begin with.)  But no emotional support, either… nor even a helping hand.  It was fine.  I didn’t really care when I was never here and I was working 70 hours a week.  But I’m home now.  And I want my home back.  I’m done.  I want her to get on with the plan and finish what she started.
But, of course, I can’t TELL her that.  That would be starting the war all over again.  I would be the bad guy.  Again.  I would be the horrible bitch who sits in judgment of her life and her choices.  Again.  Oh no.  I have been there and I have done that (or not, as the case may be.)  And I have no intention of going there again. 
For the past six weeks, “C” has been house-sitting for her former boss who has been in Hawaii since just after Christmas.  Oh, how I hoped that this time of autonomy and living closer to her job would get her to thinking about how to work out the second half of her plan (the part about selling their house and getting their own place in PDX.)  But of course, I have no such luck.  What I do have is that she senses I am becoming impatient with the status quo and she wants to “talk about it.” 
Oh, my god…not on your life!  One thing our unfortunate past has taught me is that there is no “talking about it” with sister “C”.  There is jumping on board her idea—however hare-brained or ill-fated—with enthusiasm and complete agreement.  Or there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.  There is no middle ground.
In order to maintain the peace here--indeed, to keep my hard-won place back with my family--I WILL be required to lie.  To obfuscate.  To dance lightly around the truth with a smile on my face.  And I SUCK at that. In fact, I’m reasonably sure I would be incapable of it, in this instance.
So all I can do is get free and run like hell in the opposite direction.
With the train right behind me.  Gaining ground.   



Saturday, February 9, 2013

What DOES Freedom Sound Like?

Yesterday afternoon, I was having a pleasant interaction with a building inspector when a military jet roared so low overhead that the boom rattled the windows.  We paused our conversation until our hearing returned.  Then the inspector related a quaint little anecdote on the subject of military aircraft.  Seems he was at a business meeting with a bunch of men when the roar of a jet interrupted the flow of the meeting.  “Sounds like a fighter jet,” posited one committee member.  To which a second attendee—a former military pilot—replied: “No.  That sounds like freedom.”
Something about that story struck a discordant note with me.  I stopped open-mouthed for a moment, and then resolutely back-tracked to the conversation we were having pre-sonic-boom.  What I wanted to say was, “No, that sounds like war.  War and freedom are not synonymous.”
I wonder if becoming a nation through bloodshed doesn’t scar a people for life.   The US is not the only country in the world that won its freedom by virtue of armed conflict.  But the value system spawned by our violent genesis seems to shout louder than anything else on the world stage. We embrace the fallacy that war and freedom are one and the same because, for us, one was so closely followed by the other. 
We speak of American lives lost on battlefields half a world away, in conflicts having more to do with global bragging rights than any actual threat to the values or lifestyles of US citizens, as having been sacrificed “to protect our freedom.” 
We have the audacity to claim that making pre-emptive war on another sovereign nation should be construed as “spreading freedom.”
We viciously defend our right to keep weapons of war in our own homes, trained on our neighbors and perhaps on our government, in the name of “safeguarding our freedom.”
To us, “freedom” seems to be defined as some god-given right to shoot, bomb, or otherwise beat the snot out of whomever we choose just to show the world that we are free to do so.
And it seems the more our culture advances, in years and strength and technology, the more pronounced this warped way of looking at things becomes.  We’re going to have our freedom, by god, if we have to kill everyone else on the planet to get it.
All the freedom in the world is the prize of the last man standing.  But what fun will it be with no one else around to spread it on?