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Ex-Pat remains in the hospital, and as I discussed yesterday, I have started the clean-up process in my old house.

It is terrifying.

I don’t understand how someone can let things get this dirty. I chided Kelsea about it last night (nice welcome home, huh?) and she said that she never touched half of the stuff in the house – which sounds just like her Dad. My response? Whether you touch it or  not, you still live here. So there.

I won’t gross you out with all the details, but suffice it to say that when you have two dogs and two cats, love to cook, and  live by a creek and across the street from a cow pasture, you just have to realize that  hair, dust, and grease can transform some things into creations worthy of Salvador Dali if you don’t stay on top of it. I’m so far under it in this clean-up process that it’s hard to breathe.

But progress was made last night. Several surfaces were cleaned and shined. One carpet, while not salvageable, was at least improved. Walls and ceilings were partially de-cobwebed. A load of laundry was done. The freezer was cleaned. The kitchen table is 90 percent excavated. I have made some decisions about some of my things – what to take to my house, what to leave here, and what to throw away.

This cleaning process became more amenable for me when I realized that this is another stage of leaving my old life behind. When I moved out in 2008, I took things willy-nilly, at random, because I was shocked at what I was doing. I was actually leaving him. I would grab a random stacking file here, a cookbook there, but there was no real packing. Some of my clothes are still in his closet. Which is beneficial when I housesit, but perhaps not helpful for either of us in making a full-fledged parting. Although he has been passive-aggresively letting the cats pee on my clothes that find their way to the closet floor. Grumph.

I talked to him today, and told him what I was doing,and he said not to go crazy on the cleaning. Since the house is half mine, and in the state it is in, I am disregarding that and doing what I think is right.  He may be coming home soon – depends on his fever and blood cultures – and will have a home health nurse coming periodically to help him through six weeks of IV antibiotics through a picc line. It’s my opinion that cleanliness is critical at this time. Dog hair +picc line = back to the hospital.

Kelsea, meanwhile, is embracing the cleaning with all the enthusiasm a teenager on spring break can muster for such an activity. Get what I’m saying? Yippee.

But as dear Ceciliag commented on yesterday’s post, this cleansing will be good for all of us.

Assuming we survive it.

 

 

I have been having water dreams lately. Lots and lots of water dreams for weeks, I think. Water dreams are strange things for me. They have always been portents of huge and significant changes. And generally not good changes. They are always similar in character. I am by the ocean and the waves are huge, engulfing everything, and I am trying to survive, to push through them, to stave them off. Doesn’t take a Jungian dream analyst to figure that one out, does it? What I know for sure is that they are certain predictors of something big happening. Generally, how I am able to survive in the dream indicates the level of intimacy with which the change will affect me, but not always. Sometimes, there are people I know with me in the dream, and they are usually impacted in real life whenever the change comes.

So, another water dream last night, coming on the heels of yesterday. Yesterday sucked. I won’t really go into why yesterday sucked. Suffice it to say that it did. BIG TIME. I am hoping today will be better. Hope springs eternal.

Ex-Pat has endocarditis and septicemia. He will be in hospital at least until Friday. According to my readings on the Internet, this is scary stuff. Really scary stuff.

The Internet can be your trusted friend or that devious individual on the street corner hissing to you that the world will end soon and he will take care of your pets when the rapture comes.  When too much information on one topic is available, it is easy and hard at the same time to pick what you are going to believe. I read that septicemia is the same as sepsis, and that the odds of survival are about even. I read that it wasn’t, and that the survival odds are about 90 percent. I read that endocarditis can cause strokes, and that he’d have about six months to live even after recovery. I didn’t read anywhere that he would pop out of his hospital bed on Friday and start romping with the lambs. And what I heard him say last night, when I pointed out to him that without getting treatment he would have died and pretty darn quick at that, was that maybe that would have been better, as his daughter is the only thing he has to live for. (Which to me is a huge reason to keep living.) But he’s lost his will. He’s in too  much pain to walk, and they don’t know why. Things are looking bleak, to say the least.

I think I will try to talk to his doctor to get the full scoop, as he is too doped up to tell me much. Then at least I can share what is real with Kelsea, who comes home today.

On the other hand, I am still at his house, and it is filthy. Filthy. Just disgusting. Even though I said it is not my job to clean this place, and I know it isn’t, I am going to do so, enlisting Kelsea to help, so she can see what clean is, and how to make things that way. I can’t let her live in a place that is like this. In clearing off the kitchen table, I found receipts from 2009. And that was probably the most pleasant of my finds. I remember he was always mad at me because of all the paperwork in the house that I never went through. Now that he’s having to deal with his own mail, and receipts, and crap, I suspect he understands, but he would never own up to it.

I may even tear up all the rugs and try to find replacements at ReStore. They will never be clean, ever, no matter what I do. I will get the handyman to come in and get the holes in the walls patched. I will try to rebuild my own sense of love and trust. I will do two jobs and manage two houses. And then I will sprout wings and a horn out of my head and become a human unicorn.

I’m being realistic.

Aren’t I?

I spent last night sleeping in Kelsea’s bed in my old house. Sleeping in her bed helped me understand her better. How odd does that sound?  All I’m saying is that it is a truly magical bed. It’s one of a pair of twin beds from my grandmother’s house, one I used to sleep in some 45 years ago. (It’s mate was lost in an unfortunate accident when I was moving out of Ex-Pat’s house – que lastima.) I don’t know if its history is part of its magic but I suspect so. Anyway, I slept amazingly well, had amazing dreams, and had a visitation from my Mother in the Hour of the Wolf. Her scent preceded her, and we had a lovely conversation.  I have missed her so. I had no idea she was hanging out in Kelsea’s room, keeping watch over her, but it totally makes sense, given how much she loved her and how alike they are. As I was drifting back to sleep, I checked again, and her scent was still there.  She was sitting with me.  What peaceful comfort.

I’m sure that sounds a little crazy, but hey, the women in my family have the shine.

Moving on, the shower is always a great place for me to come up with creative ideas, work through technical problems, and have epiphanies. I suspect it’s that eternal connection between me and moving water.  When I was in the shower, and thinking about how “enmeshed”  (to use MKL’s term) I am with Ex-Pat, I realized one very important thing – and this is something MKL said to me yesterday: Ex-Pat’s problems are not my problems any more.

Yes, I can help, because he is my daughter’s father. Yes, I can help, because I love the dogs, even though they are his dogs now. Yes, I can help, because the house is half mine on paper. But I am not his wife any more. I have moved on. He hasn’t. That does not mean that he gets to turn to me as if I am still his wife. Which is what he is doing. As Pam said in comments on yesterday’s post, I am a good human being and take care of people, and while that is indeed an admirable quality, in some situations, like this one, the boundary issues must be acknowledged in order to take care of myself and my life. I am not going to screw up my relationship with MKL because I am feeling guilty about Ex-Pat being alone (and hence, spending my time to take care of his needs). Ex-Pat has made his own choices here. And as singlecell reinforced in her comment, he has made his choices. His choices have left him without a support network. That does not mean it is automatically my job to be his support network. I am not the get-out-of-jail-free card anymore.

It’s a habit, a pattern of many years, that is hard to break, but must be broken.

He HAS to take responsibility for getting things taken care of. And doing so does not just mean asking me, and me saying yes. I think, in the shower, I finally realized that I can say no. Just like I finally realized that, even though he has a kitchen full of dirty dishes, it is not my job to clean up the house to make it easier upon his release from the hospital. If he can’t pick up after himself, he can ask another (less enmeshed) friend to help. If he hasn’t got those, then that’s not my problem. And on my way to work, I told him he would have to find other resources and couldn’t just rely on me. He clearly wasn’t happy about it. But it felt right.

The rest of today however, has gone horribly wrong, and I am totally discouraged.

There are times in every person’s life that are transforming.  They can be triggered by emotions, events, or age-related milestones – read, desperation, death of a loved one, or turning 18, for example. When these milestones appear in our lives – or we draw them to us – we have a lot of choices.

We can choose to cave in and cower.  We can choose to run away.  We can choose to adopt a victim mentality that may well define the rest of our lives. We can choose to make dramatic changes in our lives in terms of our location, relationships, and direction; sometimes those changes are well considered and sometimes they are knee-jerk reactions. I think regardless of how we approach those changes, they are essential to the process of completing whatever transformation we are undergoing.

Most of the time, we do not experience this transformation in some sort of isolation chamber.  As we are struggling through it, and gasping for air, our inner panic (or lack of peace), and flailing through life will impact those around us. We may hurt people we love by whacking them with our wildly revolving selves.  It’s not intentional, but yes, it happens.

And here’s where we can still have conscious choices, no matter where we are in the transformation process.  When we hurt someone, they have every right to say something about it, even if they understand what we are going through.  They may even say something that hurts us in return – not because they want to hurt us, because remember, they love us, but because they are speaking their pain.  If we care for that person, we listen. We have a dialogue. We do not just turn and say, “How could you say that?  Don’t ever speak to me again.” In short, we do not burn our bridges. That is, if we are seeking the path of wisdom, which I am.  Which many of us are.  We do not turn away from those who have long shown their humanness and devotion, from those who have shown themselves worthy of being a part of our lives, standing by us through thick and thin and all the meat-slicer settings in between.

As part of the path to wisdom, we apologize.  We explain. We ask for patience. We take off our own blinders of pain and shame and guilt and anger at who-knows-what, and know that when we do so, our true friends will be right in front of us, arms extended, there for support, because we are not alone in this journey.  Even though in some ways, we always are, and in other ways, we must be. 

Again, it’s a choice. Leave the blinders on. Put the old life in a trunk, wrap it in chains, and send it to the bottom of the sea.  Start over pretending you have a clean slate.  I’ll wish you the best of luck, because you’ll need it.  Or leave the doors open.  Be gentle with yourself and others, because we’re all human. Take breaths and realize who is true to you and worth your spirit.  Go back to the rules of kindergarten.  I think one of those was “Don’t play with matches.” The adult version is, “For god’s sake, don’t set anything on fire.”

Transform, yes.  But not by the light of the bridges you burn.

Today’s guest poet  —  Jann Howell

Always Wondering

I’m always wondering
… where you are
… what you’re doing
… are you thinking of me?
… do we dream the same dreams?
… if we feel the same things
in our hearts.

But every time
I try to speak the words…
when I try to ask the questions
just to get the answers,
a fear takes hold of my heart
that the words that you’ll speak
won’t be the words that I seek
keeps me paralyzed.

And the silence between us
stretches further than the stars
so that I am always,
always wondering
where you are.

At the Bottom of the Deep Blue

I am caught in its tender tendrils, swept up in a rush of salt water,
Frustratingly feeble as I attempt
To catch a wave with my bare
hands.

The shades trap me, tripping me up, turning my head and my ankles
until I am nothing but a sodden heap of shattered fabric on the sand.

A sail rent so terribly that it cannot ever again love the wind.

So many tears trickled down the crevasse of my breasts,
tumbled into the wildness of my fragile hair,
teased into the tunnels of my ears as I lie on eiderdown alone.

Is the sea always as alone as I?

It has the sky to keep it company, a rich match made in changing tides and cycles of planets
and the light of certain stars.

The blue comes, a terrible torment, stealthily circuitous, catching me
innocently unaware, basking in a bliss that could never last.

It encroaches on my spirit, nibbles at the nape of my neck, an unease that I know
will smother me
until it fades away,
seeking some other
wayward
trusting
spirit.

Weapons are ineffectual.
Intellect is ignored.
The blue comes,
and stays,
of its own accord.

It curves around the edges of my light, false softness slipping a dream around my shoulders,
clouding my vision with gentle pulsating pain, pain so soft I can mistake it for pleasure,
until it is too late, and I am muffled, choking, speechless, sightless,

Drowning
in the unlenting blue.

“The  fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.”

This poem by Carl Sandburg is how I feel now, except substitute “blues” for fog. This is not a full-out, twelve round, knockout bout.  It feels like it’s creeping in, like I’m in a battle with my own brain and my own body for my own soul.

I had been doing so remarkably well, too, that when I have a misstep, I become discouraged.  I suppose one of the lessons of the Blues (yes, with a capital B) is that nothing – not even feelings – are permanent.

Somehow that does not make me feel better.

My small sage tells me to be patient, relax, and let things run their course, that everything will work out just fine.  It’s hard to believe that when you’re fighting the screaming blue meanies that seem to attack from every direction, leaving you tear-streaked and silent.

Honestly, writing helps.

But when that sense of tearing emotion seems to edge closer and closer, like some thick, wet, blue, velvet cloak trying to smother the life out of your heart…. it reminds me of women in gothic novels and B-movies, paralyzed at the approach of the charming vampiric villan, so desperately wanting to resist, but so powerless in his forthcoming embrace.

I sense a poem of my own coming on.

Yes, it sometimes feels like my life is a B-movie.  Not horribly bad.   But just as bizarre as, well, a B-movie. 

My feeble attempts at dating have yielded some interesting experiences.  I seem to be following a “three strikes” rule – meaning no one has gotten beyond date number three.  At this point, I’m okay with that.  I’m not in a place in my heart yet to even give a single strand of it to anyone else.  I suppose if the right person came along, I would do so.  Knowing myself as I do, I couldn’t help it.  But, the right person is an illusive concept these days. 

And so, I date.  And debate becoming a nun, because honestly, I might as well.  But that’s another post. 

My first out of the inning was a very nice guy who, while a little proper, and a little controlling, I discovered after three dates, was really just a little old lady in disguise.  I’m not sure quite how I found this out.  Maybe it was the pride in which he spoke about his matching Tupperware.  Or his inability to drive more than 10 miles under the speed limit.  Still, he was a nice guy.  Just not the guy for me, as I decided on the third date.

My second out of the inning, was undoubtedly the strangest first date I’ve ever had.  We had a very nice time.  We talked about everything.   He was properly impressed with my weird knowledge of history and off-beat things.  We met for drinks at the Brown Palace, talked about music and family and cocktails and abstract art and his business doing something with petroleum and…just everything.  Then we moved onto dinner at Marlowe’s (which was absolutely yummy, and I highly recommend the salmon) at a table outside by the 16th Street Mall, where we discussed horse-drawn carriages and remodeling old houses and various sundry things and how things in Denver had changed over the years.  Then we got to talking about what to do after dinner.  And he had an idea.  And the next thing I know, we’re at BJ’s Carousel, home of Denver’s friendliest drag queen show.

Now, you guys know me.  I’m pretty much up for anything, especially if it makes a good story for the theoretical grandkids, or at least a good story to tell any stray parrots I happen to round up.  What’s my motto?  All together now.  That’s right. “She who dies with the most stories, wins.”  It’s a hefty responsiblity and not one I take lightly.  So, since this was something I’d never done, we went.

I’ll tell you, for a first date with a professed Christian, this one took the urinal cake.  I was the only woman (??) in the place, and I do have to say, that everybody there was very friendly.  I’m serious.  They were all incredibly nice.  But I suppose that being the only woman there, and sitting at a ringside table, I was bound to attract the attention of the performers.  And so it was, that Fantasia, during her (his?) first number, shone the spotlight on us, introduced her(him?) self, drank my vodka and soda, and sang a Lady Gaga song to me.  How nice.  Really.  It was.  Someday, I want to try to wear eyelashes that long. 

A few other performers came and went.  And I know that even I, with my puny fashion sense, could make a little money on the side by being a fashion consultant for this population.  Again, seriously.  I don’t even know where to start.  Each seemed to have their own little following, and several patrons lined up to place dollars in the star-of-the-moment’s curious cleavage.

And then, Fantasia was back, still enamored of me and my date.  She approached the table.  She paused in her song.  She grabbed my face between her two hands, and I thought she was going to kiss me.  But no.  She buried my head between her fake boobs and tried to suffocate me for about three seconds.  A very long three seconds.  Then she proceeded to give my date one of said fake boobs.  At that point, it was time for me to get some air.  So we went. 

I was not uncomfortable or unhappy with this date.  I was just bemused and baffled.  And Kelsea said I was extremely jumpy the next day.  I decided he was pleasantly eccentric and I’d see what happened next.  I like eccentric people.

Our second date was drinks and dinner.  Pretty normal, although he drank more than I was expecting.  And our third date was drinks (do we see a pattern here?  yes, and we’re not sure we like it), a Rockies game, and dinner.  I wasn’t in the drinking mood, which he didn’t seem to care for too much, and over dinner, he called me a flaming liberal and started bashing gay marriage (yes, the same guy who took me to a drag club) and told me I was an idiot for believing in health care reform, Obama, or anything any semi-rational human being believes in.  Well, buddy, let me stick a fork in you, because you’re done.

Ah, the irony of having my second third strike be a baseball game date.  And I did feel a small pill of pride about “breaking up” with somebody over health care reform.

I’m wondering if this is a trend.  I don’t really know if I’m ready for dating.  Right now, I don’t know if I’m ever going to be ready to date.  When you’ve had magic, it feels impossible to go back to ordinary.  But I will continue to give it the old college try when I have time.  At least until I’ve gone through a full nine innings.

Just in case, if anyone has the number for a good nunnery, let me know.

After a long day at work, a glass of champagne at Bean & Berry (the fizzies were good) and still not feeling 100%, I went to the Bungalow.  Unexpectedly, the large truck and trailer belonging to my neighbors were back in my space again, so I went over to talk to them.  They are so sweet – Emma (a name I can’t forget) and Octavio. Octavio understands English but doesn’t speak it well, but Emma does – she’s only 7 years my senior and has a 20-year old grandchild.  Talk about different cultures.  We talked about the space, and they apologized.  I clarified what my needs were.  I’m perfectly willing to share if they need help, but not to have them usurp my property and they understood that.  I left with mutual exchanges of good will.

Harry the Handyman has done some more work.  The ceilings are painted, as is the living room and the trim in my and Kelsea’s bedrooms.  The sink is installed and looks fab.  I still have a tough time believing that the house is mine.

Where I am right now is so vastly far from where I thought I’d be now, when I was looking forward 4, 5, 6 months ago.  I thought I’d be in Italy or on an island.  I thought we’d be planning our year of dreams.  I most certainly did not think I would be alone, sleepwalking through starting over, faking it until I make it.   I had no idea that I would not be finding someone else’s foot in the middle of the night.  And still, I do not quite understand why I was not good enough, pretty enough, real enough.  Why, when I had bided my time, patiently hidden, just at the point when I was to have been revealed, I was pushed aside for someone else.  It hurts.

And so, bewildered me christened the Bungalow tonight with my tears.  They fell on the 111-year old pine boards of the kitchen floor.  The Bungalow itself felt a bit bewildered by this show of emotion, but it was not rejecting, just a little baffled.  As if it to had tears to shed, but hadn’t had anyone to share them with.

This is the biggest thing I have ever done with no support from any side (E-Bro excluded).  I feel very on my own.  But as I say, I still feel like I am sleepwalking through it all, through my pain and loss.  I do not like that feeling and I wish it would go away.  It makes me feel as if I am living less of a life than life deserves.  And I know it will just take time.

That past is completely gone.  The person I loved so never reaches out to me – no calls, no emails, no texts.  To him, I guess I am gone and forgotten.  He is all caught up in his own confusion and his new girlfriend.  I wish it were different.  I wish he still reached out to me, at least to see how I am.  That’s what friends do.  But he doesn’t.  And I have to accept that.  What choice do I have?

I will just continue to sleepwalk, and hope to wake.  Someday.

March Madness

The dogs utter wistful snores in makeshift beds
As spring snow builds silent drifts behind warm glass.

Warm glass

A glass of Tequila warmed by my beach-weathered hands
On a Mexican night too many Septembers ago.

Septembers ago

Moons past, we spent a September week loving each other
With reckless abandon, laughing, possessed, exploring boundaries.

Exploring boundaries

We sluiced through jungles and explored the depth of bottles of Cuban rum,
Played doorman for Mayan gods who retaliated with red rage in the darkness.

The darkness

Sunrise followed us home, but does not exist without the darkness,
Which consumed us for untold ages, consumes us still.

Us still

Waiting still as the spring snow builds silent drifts,
Waiting still for the warmth of rage to fade,
For the boundaries of darkness to ease,
For another September.

 

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