a new purse and other coping mechanisms

I got a new purse.

This is significant because I am not, generally speaking, a purse collector. I mean, that’s not entirely true since I have a small vintage beaded purse collection, and a small collection of evening handbags, but I don’t have a variety of everyday purses. I get one, and I stick with it until it dies. Years, usually. My current bag, a very nice deep red Nine West, is starting to crack and is showing signs of potato-sackness (where it has no structure and basically looks like a red potato sack). So. It was time for something new.

I’ve had burnt-orange or red purses for the past 6 years at least. So I went with yellow this time. I like colored purses. Brown and black are so boring, and it seems like no matter which one you go with, it never works with everything (since you don’t want to wear the brown with black, and vice versa..). I am hoping this yellow is a good “new neutral.” It’s making me happy for now, at least.

It has been a rough couple of weeks, but not *overtly* rough. Just subtly. Work has been stressful and I’m feeling burned out. This happens every so often, I know, and I’m just in that part of the cycle right now. I am trying to figure out how to cope with the work burnout and general funk I’ve been in lately. I am feeling like I need to DO MORE and BE MORE but honestly I really just feel like being at home, but with some company. I live kind of far out so I don’t get company very often and to tell the truth, I’m getting a little lonely. But I also know it’s good for me to be by myself right now. It’s a paradox.

It’s not so much “getting over the breakup” at this point — it’s more that I’m in the process of rebuilding my life and it’s a little confusing and overwhelming at times. I hadn’t realized how much of myself I’d lost, how much I’d given up, how much this other force had completely taken over. Sometimes I feel like a fool; other times I’m amazed that I got through it as well as I did. I’m just glad I get to rebuild now.

My beloved Aunt L. is coming to see me this Saturday, and then another friend is coming over on Sunday. Oh, and I am going to see a play on Friday. And I have lots of things to do: gardening, designing invitations for my brother’s wedding, continuing to get the house all in order and work on sorting the garage, etc. So I guess I’m doing plenty; I’m just not in my art room working diligently on my latest masterpiece, nor am I out on the town making tons of new friends and tearing up the dance floor. I don’t know why I feel like those are the things I “should” be doing. I need to forget the ‘shoulds’ and just do what I feel like doing.

Which is, currently: eating bagels, baking, putting the house in order, going thrift shopping, gardening, reading, watching Sex and The City (although I can only take one or two episodes at a time), exploring new local places. I went out to breakfast last weekend and forgot my camera! Dammit! I’ll have to go out again this weekend.

I’d like to add in: wildflower hikes, a trip to the beach, bike rides, maybe a class. Maybe I should take a once-a-week art class or something, since I can’t seem to get motivated to do it by myself, and I would like to meet some people.

Anyway. Current status: holding steady, in somewhat of a funk, ready for hammock weather and attempting to sort out exactly where I am in this process.

Maybe I should just go take a nap. Naps (along with purses) solve many things.

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my new project

So I’ve decided: I need to get out more.

Here’s my new project.

I’m going to try and visit a new business/coffeeshop/restaurant/thing each weekend. I barely know my new(ish) town; this must be remedied. There are a few breakfast places around and I’d like to try those. Breakfast is easy to do by yourself, and maybe I can drag someone along occasionally. I’ve tried both movie places and they’re both good. I need to visit the various independent businesses, try a few more dinner places, check out the few places that have live music sometimes, etc. Get myself a little more familiar with the town so that when people come and want to go out, I have a place to take them, rather than saying, “Um, actually, I have no idea.” I need some “favorites.” Right now my favorite place is the library. This is not a bad thing. But I could use a favorite dinner place.

I’m going to start this weekend with the local independent coffeehouse. Now, I love my Peet’s coffee and tea, but I need a cozy coffeeshop in which to do all this journal writing I’m also embarking upon, and there’s one right downtown and it’s very popular and has great people-watching potential. So. I will go there with journal and books and settle in and see what’s to see. I may even ride my bike over there. It’s even open late, so if I don’t get to it early in the day, I can go over in the evening and check out the nightlife from the safety of the coffeeshop.

Time to make some friends, meet some locals, get involved. Do some writing. Figure out some projects. Think about what I want to do with this life I’ve been given back.

I’m going to start volunteering at the Humane Society as well. I figured I can take photos and write descriptions. And if, you know, there’s a kitten or two who need snuggling, well, I guess I could do that too. And my volunteer shifts for the performing arts theater will start too. I’d like to make some local friends, you know? That would be nice.

Operation Get To Know The Town: starting this Saturday.

triscuits

I really love Triscuits but I almost never eat them. I usually end up eating the entire box in one go, which, if you know me, is kind of unusual. I tend to be a saver. I still have Halloween candy, for goodness’ sake (true story. it’s up there, in my cabinet, waiting for me to have an emergency which only Mounds and Reece’s Pieces can remedy). Today is a Triscuits day. I have a box here. I hope to still have some in the box by the end of the day, but I’m not promising anything.

You know how some weeks are hard and other weeks are easy? This is a hard one. A tragedy at my company plus just general busy-ness and burnout. A wee bit of loneliness creeping in (which I’m taking as a good sign, since I’m finally recovered enough to notice that I’m spending most of my time alone). Overly emotional for all kinds of reasons, both physical and situational. Tuesday I felt like I was going to cry, most of the day (there were actual legitimate reasons for that, but still). I feel just generally sort of raw this week. 

Last night I was driving home after a draining day at work. Traffic was terrible, worse than usual. I remembered that I had a small dark chocolate bar in my purse from last week (see? I told you. saver.) I figured this was as good a time as any for that magic chocolate cure. Except, when I opened it, it had crumbed in places and of course I dropped the little package and chocolate shavings fell out onto my work pants and my car seat, instantly melting (and staining). Thank you very much. 

So I got home and treated the stains and did the laundry and fed the cats and made some very simple dinner and watched Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist which was totally cheesy but kind of edgy and cute and then I went to bed. 

This morning I woke up and really just felt like hiding in bed all day. Some weeks/days are going to be like that. 

In which case, it’s time to pull out the tricks. Triscuits. Maybe some more chocolate this afternoon. Tonight I’m going to start watching Game of Thrones, which I’m looking forward to as I enjoyed the first book. I’ll try to go to bed early. The lilacs are starting to bloom; maybe I can cut some and bring them in. 

This weekend is supposed to be absolutely beautiful. Maybe I will ride my bike out in the country for a few hours. Maybe I will finish that painting I started, which has been on my mind lately. Maybe I’ll spend a day in bed. I’m sure I’ll feel better by the end of the weekend. The hormonal influences will have cleared up by then. I’ll get some rest. I’ll see a friend. I made chocolate chess pie last weekend and it was so amazingly good. Maybe I’ll make another dessert this weekend. Make some good food, maybe a veggie curry. Maybe pull out the old Moosewood Cookbook and see if there’s something fun in there. 

I did get We Need To Talk About Kevin, so I’ll start that, too. 

It’ll be okay. It’s just a Triscuit kind of week. 

five months

It’s been five months since everything turned topsy-turvy in my life.

I spent the first two of that sick as a dog and absolutely exhausted to the depths of my soul. The next month was spent getting myself well and building my strength back up. So the last two months have been relatively “normal” — doing some reading, doing some house stuff, having visitors, having some fun out in the world, travelling.

Soon the house will be half-empty. T’s family is coming to get her things in a couple weeks. I volunteered to pack. Most of her things are gone already but there is still some furniture, books, etc. One room of the house will be completely empty. I kind of don’t know what to do with it. Guest room/office, I suppose. I could get a roommate. I don’t know.

All the legal paperwork is almost done too. There are still some pet issues to be worked out; she has Chelsea and poor Chelsea is sick with liver disease. I have Finn, who will be going to live with her sometime. But that will be worked out. As time goes on, I think we are both feeling less brittle about the other. Not much communication is happening (which is good) but hopefully these details about the little dependent creatures we love can get worked out easily and with everyone’s best interest in mind. I’m not worried about that.

I’m feeling better, although my recent travels show me that I still need to rest and take care of myself. Someone at work commented that I probably could have used a beach vacation more than a tromping-around European vacation. I tend to agree. It was fun and I’m glad I went, but I’m really glad to be home. I took a hot bath last night and it was heaven. My couch is my favorite place in the whole world. Well, next to my bed, that is.

I’m getting out more, seeing people. This is good. I do wish I didn’t live quite so far out there — it’s difficult to get people to come to my house, and I’m still tired enough that I mostly just want to be home. But that can’t be helped. I am volunteering for the local performing arts theater, but that’s not very often (maybe once every month or every other month) so I think I need to find something a little more consistent, to make some friends out where I live. I should go to more community events, see what’s out there. Volunteer at the library. Something.

It’s going to be gardening season very soon — in fact, I might plant tomatoes this weekend. The local OSH is having a 25% off vegetable starts sale and it’s been so warm that I think I can put some things in the ground. I should get compost after work today and work it in tonight. It’s going to rain tomorrow and that would be good to get everything all ready for planting. My yard is a MESS so I’ll definitely be working out there this spring. The grass hasn’t been mown in three weeks and is almost up to my knees! I actually sort of like it that way, but I guess I should mow it this weekend…

So things are reshaping themselves into a new normal. I’m resting a lot more than I used to — I never used to be able to rest this much. I had too much to do, too many beings to take care of, too many worries. I’m having more fun and getting out and doing more things. However, I’m happiest at home, just puttering and fiddling with things. Making it into a new home for myself. I can’t wait for warm weather. I fixed my hammock and I plan to spend a lot of time in it. I never could before, because there was always something to be done, someone who needed me, some chores to be done. But when it’s just me… well, I can pick and choose what to worry about. That’s nice.

I imagine in another month or two I’ll be back to my pre-catastrophe self. That is, the self from about five years ago. I’m looking forward to feeling springy and happy and ready to welcome new joys into my life. I’m *almost* there. Right now it’s enough to just not be worried all the time. It’s enough to come home and be able to go to bed at 8 pm if I want to. To do whatever I want on the weekends, to please only myself. When the weather turns truly sunny and warm, I will want to hike more, garden more, bike more. I’m looking forward to that. The people who are in my life now are wonderful, so supportive and my true friends. I’m looking forward to welcoming new people into my life too.

Five months is a short time. Five months is a long time. I’m right where I need to be.

 

righting

Life has been good lately, with only a few minor stumbles (mostly in my own head). These are simply reminders that this is not an easy time, even though I am feeling much better. As I said in the beginning, when the breakup happened, it’s just not going to be fun or easy or altogether okay (although it will be again someday soon). But I will get through it, and really, mostly everything is so, so much better. The details are difficult sometimes. When the details get a little overwhelming, I’ve been relying on these things to help me right myself:

  • My journal. I had kept a journal in one form or another all the way from about 4th grade til after college. Then I stopped, for some reason. Now I’ve started again, and it’s been really therapeutic.
  • Harry Potter. I’ve been listening to the CDs in the car on my commute, but then I needed MORE so I started reading Book 5 as well as listening to Book 4 in the car (you can do these sorts of things when they’re re-reads). I’m completely addicted and, believe it or not, have been able to read for an hour or two at a time. And that Book 5 is HUGE. So maybe my reading mojo is coming back. And Harry Potter stories are so comforting and exciting and funny and wonderful. That’s really been helping me. I’ve also been reading George McDonald’s The Princess and Curdie and oh I love it so much. I think I might abandon all my reading plans for the year and just re-read comforting books and old favorites. Doesn’t that sound nice? Sounds like a really good plan to me.
  • The kitties. Well, duh. Finn and Thomas have been a huge comfort. I am trying to keep in mind that I won’t have Finn forever (he’ll eventually go to Terri) but in the meantime, he is soooo soft and snuggly. And Thomas is like a puppydog, following me around, talking, wanting to be with me all the time.
  • Staring into space. Doing nothing. Literally just doing nothing. If it were warmer, I’d be out back in the hammock watching the clouds overhead. Since it’s still quite chilly, I sit on the couch, pet the cat, and have a really good stare. After a little bit of staring, I feel better. It’s a mental break, I guess.
  • Taking action. Painting rooms. Shampooing the carpet. Buying houseplants. Nesting. Seeing friends. Going to events. I am an introvert so I like being home by myself, but getting out or actually doing something productive, helps too. Slowly the house is feeling more like my house, and less a shellshocked broken home. I’m going to start packing up things for T. and putting boxes in the office and the garage. I’ve bought some new dishes to replace hers. Trying to move on in small tangible ways. It feels good to bring fresh new change and action to my life.

In a few weeks it will be time to plan the garden. Mulch the roses. Weed. Spruce up the outside of the house. Fix a few things. Fresh growth on the outside to match growth on the inside. Keep things moving and growing. Living with joy among the sorrows.

home again

I’m back after a week away in Oregon to see my family for the holidays. It was a very good week. I actually got some rest and am feeling much better. I also got to see Tammie, which is always awesome and never long enough (next time! Thrifting!). We had the promised fondue and fabulous chitchat. I’m terrible at chitchat but then again we are both introverts, so maybe it was okay. Right?

More soon. Time to finish up unpacking and head to bed early. Glad this year is almost over. It’s been a rough one in lots of ways. Hoping the new year brings with it some good.

closer to fine

Well darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable
And lightness has a call that’s hard to hear

I’ve never been a huge Indigo Girls fan but I do like this song, and lately this refrain has been in my head. I keep trying to remind myself that this too will pass, and that it’s okay to feel like I need to hibernate for awhile; that sometime soon, I’ll feel better, things will be clearer, and that it’s okay not to know for awhile.

I did get a little bit of clarity, or at least the muddy swirls are starting to clear, yesterday. If certain things work out, there’s a chance I could keep the house and avoid a short sale. I still want to move, so I’d just hold onto it until I could do a normal sale, but it would be good to avoid a short-sale if possible. It’s not a perfect answer, but it feels better to me than any of my other options. So I’m hopeful. There’s no way any of this is going to feel totally fine, but closer to fine would be better than, well, not. Bits and pieces of how everything is going to settle out are starting to become clearer and that feels better, even if the solutions are not perfect for anyone. They rarely are, right?

I’m feeling better physically today as well. I am still coughing, and today I’m sneezing like the devil for some reason, but I feel less foggy and exhausted. I managed to avoid taking NyQuil last night so that’s probably helpful. I still want to just go home and go directly to bed, but rather than going straight to sleep I feel like I could maybe read a little, or do a little journalling. Small steps. This weekend maybe I’ll even rake leaves or something. Or vacuum. But let’s not push things.

This morning as I drove to work, the freeway was covered in thick fog. It was slow going, but I love fog, so I was enjoying it. At one point, I drove through a patch of strangely luminous fog, lit up from within by the sun rising. It was eerily beautiful. The fog was bright pink-orange, and it felt like I was driving through a movie set, where the colors are artificially gorgeous, and everyone is lit up with romantic pink light. And then, as I passed through the fiery mist back into the regular fog, it felt like the light filter switched to a deep moody blue, and it was so calming. I was grateful for this show of beauty, since I have felt so deeply removed from normal life for a few weeks now. This helped bring me a little more into the present, and I’ve felt better all day after witnessing it.

So maybe things are going to be okay at some point. Maybe.

I’m back. Now what?

I just got home from a week away. I went to visit family and friends up in Oregon. It was a good trip — packed as usual, although I didn’t feel stressed. I did feel sick most of the time — I’m very tired of this cold. The Cough of Death is still hanging around and I’ve discovered the joys of Nyquil, since at around 7 pm I start to cough and can’t stop. When I got home last night, I coughed so hard that I nearly threw up. That’s always fun. Needless to say, I’m not feeling at my perky-and-energetic best.

So I’m home. And feeling at loose ends. I should unpack. Do laundry. Clean the fridge. Make some soup for the week. All that stuff. Instead, it’s 11 am and I’m still in my bathrobe, feeling slightly stunned and terribly out of it. I just want to go back to bed, actually.

I’m not sure what to do about the house and all that stuff. I’m supposed to talk to T’s sisters this week and figure out what we need to do. In the meantime, I feel like I’m in this weird limbo. I’m sick, which is skewing my thoughts. I’m still wrapped in cotton and feeling slightly bizarre about everything. I’m not sure really what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m vaguely concerned about the house stuff because I can’t afford the mortgage all by myself and T has decided she’s not paying her share anymore (no comments, please), but I’m okay this month and then next month I should hopefully know more and can work out a plan. T is not doing well, apparently, so I’m feeling bad and guilty and sad and concerned. It’s all weird and I’m in limbo.

I’m hardly doing any reading — I just can’t seem to get to it. My current book, Stephen King’s Danse Macabre, is very interesting, but it’s a big book and I’ve been distracted. I’d like for someone to come over and make me a big pot of something healthy that I can eat all week, but I guess it’s up to me to make that big pot of something healthy. I’m considering homemade chicken soup. Although frankly Safeway makes a darn fine chicken noodle soup and I’m really, really out of it. That’s what Safeway is for, right? We’ll see. I should go to the store today and maybe I will come up with an easy soup recipe. It would be good to not have to think about food this week.

It’s the holiday season (apparently) and here’s my plan: show up and eat. I am not doing anything else. I might do a little shopping if I can get my act together. That’s about it. It’s a relief, actually. I’ll just observe this year.

Although I did see a recipe for Mexican Wedding Cookies that piqued my interest. Maybe I’ll make those too. Once I stop coughing. IF I stop coughing. That seems up for debate at this point.

So that’s about it. I’m at loose ends. Still sick. Unsure what to do next. Unable to think very clearly. I think my first priority needs to be to get well. With that in mind, I’m off to look at soup recipes. Soup, laundry, then back in bed for the remainder of the day. Yep. That’s just how it’s going to be this week.

 

thankful

These past couple of weeks (has it only been two? maybe it’s three now…) have been pretty rough. I feel like I’ve been dumped into an icy cold ocean, my senses numbed, my brain barely able to function. I’m going through the motions and getting stuff done, but I feel like my entire being is wrapped in cotton. Self-protection, I suppose.

I’m thankful for a lot of things as I go through this strange time.

I’m thankful for my health. I got very sick with a bad cold immediately after the breakup and have been struggling ever since. I now have the Cough of Death — it’s just lingering and wracking my chest and hurting my lungs. But I know I will get well again.

I’m grateful for my job. I’ve worked there for 10 years and people know me and some people even care about me. They’ve been very supportive and flexible. “Stay home. Get well. Take time for you. You’ll get through this. We’ll figure it out when you feel better.” This is a gift. This is an amazing gift.

I’m really thankful for my friends. New friends, old friends, new-old friends. Everyone has come forward to say, “We love you. We’re here. Talk if you want. Don’t if you don’t. Come visit. Come see me. I’ll come see you. I’ll take you to lunch. I’ll help you with the house.” It’s amazing what good friends I have. I’m so deeply thankful and love everyone so much. Emails from bloggers that I only know online, sending me virtual hugs. People checking in via email every few days. It makes me glad that I work hard on my friendships when I can. I have friends that I’ve known since before I turned one year old. My whole life. That’s pretty terrific. I’m pretty lucky.

My kitties are being comforting as well. Chelsea is with T., being her comfort. I miss her terribly but I’m glad she’s with her. There’s another dog there, and kids, and I’m sure she’s having a good time. I miss her very much. But the kitties, Thomas and Finn, are being sweet and loving and fluffy and adorable as well. Thomas curls up tight with me in the early morning hours. Finn stays up late with me, demanding more brushing, more petting, more attention. They are keeping me focused on the here and now.

There are so many things I am not looking forward to. I’m not looking forward to selling the house. I love this house. It’s a bad financial move to sell it but I think it’s the only thing that makes sense for me at this time. But I am grateful that I am in it, using the kitchen, warm and safe for now. I’ll move on, I’ll find something else, later I will have another house. For now, for right now, I’m here and I am glad. I am remembering being an exchange student, and knowing I was only in this home, in this situation, for a number of months before moving on to the next home. Even if I didn’t love the people I was with, I grew attached to the houses. I loved them, I noticed the details, I enjoyed them while I was there. I’m trying to do this with my current house, knowing I will find something else I will love, next. Soon it will be time to detach and move into cold practicality. For now, I continue to love the house.

I’m grateful that I have things to look forward to. Trips. Family visits. Reunions. Large-scale events at work. Things to keep me busy, people to see, decisions to be made. Good ones, as well as the hard ones.

This transition stuff is not easy. I’m not really enjoying it. I’m losing a lot and will lose more. However, I’m gaining a lot too. I’m trying to be grateful for the things that are good in the days, for the things that show me that I am loved, that it’s going to be okay, that life always changes and sometimes it’s for the worse and sometimes it’s for the better, but nothing ever stays, and that’s okay. More good things will come in to fill the places left empty by loss. I’m good at living simply and frugally. I have lots of friends who want me back in their lives. If I need to I can scrap everything and start fresh. I’d rather not… but I could.

Soon I will move from this stage of shock and sludgy-brain to action. I will make decisions. I will fix up the house in order to show it at its best. I will move forward fearlessly (well, with a little fear, but mostly trying to be brave). I will embrace change.

Right now, though, I am still wrapped in cotton.

stumbling along

Thanks to everyone who has written to me to give support and love. I really appreciate it. I’m starting to come out of my fog and try to start figuring out what comes next. So many things to do. Separation of property. Deciding what to do about the house. Sorting through my own feelings.

I think we will sell the house, which kind of breaks my heart into little tiny pieces, but the town where we live is very far from my work, my friends, and where I want my life to be. T. can’t do the house on her own, and I would need to get a roommate if I wanted to keep it. I can buy another house someday. Right now I need to be close to friends and focus on making my life as simple as possible.

I have a therapist. I have friends and family who love me. Right now I’m still exhausted and trying to get over a terrible cold. I’m going home (to Oregon) for Thanksgiving and that will be good. In three to six months things will all be much better. I’m not sure what will happen in the meantime. I may need to find a small temporary situation (to live in) until I figure out what’s what. Maybe I should look at putting stuff in storage and just renting a room for a few months. I don’t know. Maybe being a nomad for a while wouldn’t be terrible. I hate moving and I am not sure I’m really in the right frame of mind to figure out exactly what’s going to work for me, right now.

I’ll keep posting small updates here as things move along. I am reading hardly at all although I am listening to all the Harry Potter books on CD in the car, and they are wonderfully distracting. Mostly I just come home, eat a little something and go to bed. Sometimes I manage to watch an episode of trashy TV. I’m looking forward to whatever comes next, but as reality is settling in, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed and of course very sad. Simple is good. One thing at a time is good. I wish I were all strong and take-charge but right now I’m a little shaky and just taking things slow.

Although I can barely make a page-a-night progress in my current book, I’d love book recommendations, if anyone has something inspiring and/or comforting.