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Whatever rings Mel's bells

Posts Tagged ‘feelings’

Future Mel’s advice

This morning I was on my way to school, jamming to Brick House, thinking about a meme my niece had posted recently about healthy body image.  Like a lot of other women, I do struggle to reconcile my own body, which I know is healthy and strong, with the images I see around me in movies, on magazines and on the internet.  (Mind you, I don’t own a TV, I rarely see a movie, and the only magazine I subscribe to is Guitar Player.  So I’m not even as immersed in these images as most women are.)

As I so often do, I reminded myself that my waist isn’t as thin as a model’s, but my “thick” body is strong.  Could a wasp-waisted gal do what I do?  Could she move materials like I can?  Could she operate a pony threader?  Could she spend all day carrying wire around the job site with 15# of tools on her person?  I submit that she could not.

All that made me laugh a bit about my life.  Here I am, driving my paid-for vehicle from the apartment I can afford by myself to the school that comes along with the wickedly cool apprenticeship I got into, and I thought about how the circumstances of my life have turned out so differently from what I used to anticipate.  Then, one of those moments came when you think of the person you were ten or fifteen years back, and you wish you could tell that younger self that things really are going to be okay.

That’s when it happened.

I realized that ten or fifteen years from now, things will still be okay.  They’ll probably be totally different, and likely in ways I couldn’t even anticipate today.  But that future me would probably look back on me right now and have a message:

Don’t worry.   Things are going to change, not everything you’re doing now will work.  But you’re gonna be okay.  Life won’t happen the way you’re trying to make it happen, but good things will still come to you and you will find success.

And suddenly, some of my stress melted away.

Thanks, future me!

Election Night Message

I’ve kept (mostly) quiet about my political preferences this year.  Not because I’m ashamed, and not because I don’t want to discuss them or the issues at hand.

The reason I haven’t put them out there is that most of the people who do want to (I shall put this politely) “engage me in discussion” on political matters are actually only interested in two things: 1. beating other people over the head with their beliefs, and 2. hearing the sound of their own voices.

I have a handful of friends who I’m sure would have loved to actually discuss these matters rationally and calmly, with respect and appreciation for each other’s views, and with an openness of heart that would allow the possibility that not only could I be wrong, but they just might be wrong themselves.  These are unfortunately not generally the people who respond to my Facebook posts on religion, politics, or any other subject that might possibly engender disagreement.  The people who generally respond to such posts do so with personal insults against me or the person I support, ignorant statements that demonstrate a complete unwillingness to find the truth, thinly veiled talking points regurgitated straight from the source without any personal analysis, and lousy jokes on the level of, “That’s what SHE said!”

In short, I keep quiet ’cause I don’t want to feed the trolls.

That said, I do have something to say to those who supported Governor Romney this election season, and I figured I’d go ahead and say it.  In fact, this specifically goes out to the angry and frightened people, some few of whom are now expecting Armageddon to descend upon all of our heads in the form of hordes of undocumented illegal immigrants and flaming, tutu-wearing, glittery ‘mos who will steal their guns in the middle of the night and force their daughters to have abortions.  (Most of you are not that extreme, but some of you – please admit it to yourself if not to me – are actually afraid of the next four years.)

Okay, I’ll allow that you’re worried.  In fact, if you feel that your candidate was the best choice for the country, and the guy who won does not have the right answers, and therefore you are concerned with where the country is headed, then I actually applaud you.  People who think that way are concerned with the state of our nation because they want to see America succeed.  They want to not only be proud of our past, and proud of many things we have done and are doing, but to also be proud of our present.  They want to stand up and say, “We’re doing things right.  We have our shit together.  We take care of ourselves and each other, and we make this world a better place.”

Guess what?  I am 100% with you on that.  I want America to be a great and powerful and strong and well-run country too!  I want our citizens to be healthy and have the opportunity to succeed too!  I want a nation that is both safe and respected around the world too!

We won’t always agree on how that can happen or what we need to do to improve things.  We may not even agree on what “improved” means!  But I want you to know that, just like you, I want a strong and safe and healthy and successful America.  I also think that we have a great foundation and we do a lot of things right.  And I also think that we face a lot of challenges because we do a lot of other things wrong.  So we should be able to sit together over a drink or some coffee or a meal and talk about it like civilized humans.

Now let’s deal with this fear issue.  In 2004 I was afraid that Bush would be re-elected.  I didn’t like what he’d done with his first four years (I voted for him the first time!) and I was really worried about what a second term would do to the country.  Well, we found out.  It screwed us up, big time.  It left us with a huge national debt and no way to get out of it, bad blood with other nations, regulations that are friendly to corporate entities and the richest of the rich, and policies that drain the average worker of their life’s blood.

I don’t like these parts of our nation.  I don’t like the callous way our poorest and neediest people are treated.  I don’t like the way money can buy you damned near anything while the have-nots suffer indignity and privation.  I don’t like the way our elections go to the people who spend the most or the way our ballots themselves aren’t protected at the most basic levels.  (I’m looking at you, states with unverified electronic machines, and at you, Wisconsin that doesn’t let the military have their absentee ballots in time.)  I don’t like the attacks on women’s rights or the way a certain religious tradition has (since the ’50s) been legitimized.

Several of my friends and family members have talked about leaving the country if Obama lost.  Several different friends are now talking about moving because he won.

Don’t run away, people!  Stay here and work to make the country a better place!

Don’t like the way your Congresscritter voted?  By god, pick up the phone!  Take two minutes of your life and tell them why you thought they should have voted differently.  Or better yet, call them before they vote and tell them the following:  “As your constituent, I expect you to represent me.  I expect myself and my fellow constituents to be your highest priority and your most important so-called interest group.  I expect you to do what is right for the people of this district.  And I expect you to vote for/against this issue.  I and my neighbors are watching you, and we’re watching who contributes to your campaign, and we’re going to know if you throw us under the bus in favor of deep pockets.  We’re watching.”

Yes, people, I am telling you to get involved.  Once a month, sit down and look up a pet project or cause or idea.  Are you from a military background?  Do you ride a motorcycle?  Do you have kids?  Are you worried about the number of homeless you see on the streets?  Did you hear about a methadone clinic going in down the street from your favorite store?  What is on your mind?  What is bothering you today?

Look it up.  The entire internet lays before you – LOOK IT UP!!  Find two articles that support your position and two that oppose it.  Read all four of them.  Think about them.  If they spark any questions, look those up too.  Get yourself some answers.  And then – you guessed it – make that call!  Call your Congresscritter, call the President, call the Mayor, call your City Councilperson, call your County Commissioner, call the Governor.  Call whomever is in a position to do something about the problem – and tell them you want them to do something about the problem!

Or you can write a letter.

Or you can send an email.

Or you can show up on their doorstep (perhaps on Lobby Day with a bunch of your like-minded friends?) and tell them to their face.

Or you can wait till they do a town hall meeting in your area and tell them to their face then.

Are you catching on to my theme?  Find some issue that pushes your buttons, learn about it, and do something!  Voting is an important part of our civic duty, but if all we ever do is vote and then bitch about the results, we are not doing enough.

We.  Can.  Do.  More.

Please, don’t be afraid of what the next four years may bring.  Don’t focus on getting away from America, don’t focus on what might go wrong or what might happen later.  Focus on what’s happening now.  Focus on what you can fight for, or fight against, or change.

Six years ago, when the REAL ID Act was being discussed, I was able to go to Olympia for a Lobby Day.  I was able to meet with Rep. Eickmeyer and sit in his office discussing the bill with him.  We talked in particular about the technology used and the security problems it poses.  I will always remember the satisfaction I felt when I was able to teach him more than he already knew about it, and I will always be proud that I influenced his vote by talking to him that day.  That’s right, my visit changed the way my representative voted.  It’s an incredible feeling.  It’s powerful, and it’s humbling at the same time.  Because you feel like you’re part of the process, part of something bigger.  You start to own your government.  You don’t feel so much that the government owns you.

That’s a feeling every American should have.  In my personal opinion, the apathy and low voter turnout and acceptance of crappy results or poorly written legislation and its unintended consequences and all of that garbage would disappear if we got involved in the process.

So write a frikkin letter already!  Make a bloody phone call!  If you’re upset by the result, now is not the time to grab a beer and bitch with your friends about how bad it’s going to get.  Now is not the time to go to church and pray for the country to miraculously be saved.  Now is not the time to put all your life savings into gold bars and hide them in your custom bomb shelter with forty years’ worth of canned foods and bottled water.

Now is the time to roll up your sleeves and go talk to the people in power.  Now is the time for you, my Joe the Plumber Republican friends who work for everything you have and worry about the future your children will inherit, to step up and get involved.  Now is the time for you to tell your elected officials that you are paying attention to them.   Now is the time to learn more about the people on the other side of the aisle, to figure out what they want, and to push forward in those areas where your interests coincide.

Now is the time to make a better America.

Because people, we are all being played against each other.  And those who sit on the sidelines are exacerbating the problem, letting the people who pull the strings keep doing what they do.  So get on the field and start playing the game.

WOWI

No really, I’m thinking wowie that really sucked!

The WOWI aka World of Work Inventory is one of the hoops I have to jump through to get into the apprenticeship program I’m pursuing.  I took it at 3 in the morning because that’s when I remembered that I had to get it done.  I don’t think taking it in the middle of the night made a difference, it was going to be silly and frustrating whenever I did it.  And I’m a night owl.

Generally I do pretty well on these things; my interests are broad so I kind of come out all over, but that’s how I am in life so I guess if nothing else at least it’s accurate.  But there’s always one section that hangs me up, and I forgot about it until I got most of the way through the WOWI and this section slapped me in the face.

Abstractions.  That section where they give you four frames, or three numbers, or a few words, and you’re supposed to guess which one comes next in the pattern.  Some are easy – if they give you the letters  B   F   J  and the options are K, N, Q, or Z, it’s pretty easy.  Each of those letters are evenly spaced, so N is the next one in the pattern.  But what happens when they give you three words that start with the letter g, with four, five, and eight letters respectively?  Or what if they show four boxes with a clear pattern emerging, but the next step in the pattern isn’t reflected in any of the possible answer?

I can find all kinds of patterns in the string, I just can’t ever seem to find the one they want!  Well, that isn’t true.  I generally get about half of them right.  But when I get them wrong, MAN do I get them wrong!  As in, totally clueless, unable to even orient myself in the right direction, can’t-reason-my-way-out-of-a-paper-bag lost.

These things make me feel really stupid.  I get that feeling that the answer is staring me right in the face, and I’m too dumb to get it.  *grr*  I don’t like that feeling.

RIP Gumby

Gumby was my little puppy cat.  He played fetch with me, followed me from room to room, and came when I called him.  He slept every night curled up in my arms, but he never wanted to be picked up, or for that matter even held on a lap.  I can’t tell you how many times I snuggled my face into his furry little back at night…

He had prominent teeth that looked like fangs and long claws that, even when I trimmed them back, would click on the kitchen floor like a velociraptor.  Oh, he looked vicious.  And to some people, he was!  (Sorry, Aubrey…)  But then when he opened his mouth, out would come the tiniest, high-pitched little baby kitty meow.  So unexpected!  So endearing!  So frikkin hilarious!  LOL

We brought him home almost exactly nine years ago – it was the second Friday in October and he was eight weeks old.  Eric and I had decided (even though we weren’t allowed to have pets in the school’s apartments) that we were going to go adopt a cat from the shelter.  But we had no idea how much that was going to cost us!  So we headed to the pet store to price all the accouterments needed, and lo and behold, they had a litter of kitties there.  I actually wanted to get one of Gumby’s sisters; she was a tuxedo kitty and I gotta tell you, I’ve always loved them.  But Eric thought Gumby had more personality, and that a male would be more loving in the long run.  Loving he was, for sure – at least to me!  He was the only thing I asked for in the divorce, in fact.  I even gave that man the kitchen table and couch that I adored, without one word of protest.  But I got the cat.

I learned about Gumby’s heart problems early; at his one-year checkup the vet told me that he had a “significant heart murmur.”  That scared the tar out of me!  But then she explained that cats and dogs often do have heart murmurs, and they don’t necessarily denote any actual health problem.  *sigh of relief*

The relief lasted till last fall, when he had what I thought were a couple of seizures.  Turns out they were the result of a heart problem – he would overexert and then he wasn’t getting enough oxygen.  Scary as hell, I gotta tell you (especially since we’re talking about the closest thing I’m ever going to have to a son!) but they got him on some meds that helped.  Yup, the little brat got to have pills stuffed down his throat three times a day.  And you know?  He was actually pretty good about it.  He never ran away from me, and in fact often came running to me when I rattled his pill container.  How many animals do you know will do that when it’s pill time?

So things went well for several months.  Bratty cat got pills, and I wondered when the other shoe was going to drop.  Because, after all, he’s only going to last so long, right?  It could be several years, or it could only be a couple months.  I had no idea.  But after a while it became old hat.  A new normal.

Then in the spring we had a couple scares.  The first time, I noticed he was getting round.  And we’re talking about a cat that I fondly described as crackhead-cat-thin.  At first I just thought he was eating more.  I was giving him treats with his pills and I’d just changed to larger ones.  So I figured that three large treats a day (for a little bugger like him) could very well make a difference.  I started cutting the treats in half, but he still got thicker.  Then one day (a couple weeks in) I felt his not-so-little belly.  He felt like a balloon!  I palpated his pudgy-for-real “sister” Princess and felt standard pudge under her fur.  So I rushed my little boy off to the vet and (lo and behold) they had to take 650mL of fluid out that had accumulated in his belly.

That is WELL OVER HALF A LITER!!  Holy crapola, people!  No wonder he felt like a little balloon!  We upped his meds to get the fluid out more efficiently, which worked for a while.  But then a month or so later I saw that he was walking stiffly, like his back legs weren’t working right.  I felt him and they were cold!  Back to the vet, where they rushed him into the kitty ICU, which is an incubator.  (Who knew?)

Dr. Little (the owner) was working that day, and he got the immense joy of getting bitten by my little darling…  Yeah, they’re going to be on my Christmas goodie list this year, they more than deserve it!  At any rate, Dr. Little had just been to a seminar where they were discussing the use of a new drug in cats with heart disease, and he wanted to try it with Gumby.  It was spendy, but DAMN it worked!  Totally worth it.  I’m out of work, pinching pennies, living off my credit cards, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t spend the money on those pills every month, without hesitation.

At that second emergency visit Dr. Little said Gumby probably only had 2 or 3 months to live.  He said maybe six, but certainly not a year.  Well, he made it the six all right.  But I came home from class this Wednesday and found that he wasn’t moving much.  His breathing was a bit more labored than usual (it’d gotten more so over the past year since his diagnosis) but I decided not to take him in, since it was steady and regular.  But I canceled my plans and stayed home that night.

The next couple of days I watched as his condition stayed the same – or at least it seemed that way.  I got home Thursday night late after work and found him stretched out on the bed.  Looking back I think he was having trouble breathing and that was a more comfortable position for him.  I lay crosswise on the bed so I could snuggle with him, not knowing what to do but feeling that he wanted the comfort.  I certainly did.  At about 5am I roused up and he seemed stable, so I got into bed the normal way so I could get some sleep.  When I woke up he was in the living room, which I thought was a good sign – hey look, he’s getting up and moving!  He must be feeling better, right?  Not so much.

I was in the kitchen doing the dishes when I heard him cry out.  Have you ever heard a cat crying?  It’s awful.  Cuts right to the bone, you know?  Especially when it’s one you raised from a tiny little fluffball, one you taught to play games and you held at night, one you nursed through a couple of awful scares already.  Even when you know you’re living on borrowed time, and that the clock is about to stop ticking , it’s still awful to see the train coming at you.

That’s how I felt at that moment.  I knew he was about to go, and I knew the best thing at that point was to let him.  He was so scared when he went to the vet’s office, I didn’t want to take him to a strange, cold, scary place to die.  I wanted his last moments to be in his home, where at least he was comfortable and felt secure.  But you know, that’s easier said than done.

Have you ever actually watched a living thing die?  It’s horrible.  He was scared and he was in pain and he didn’t know what was wrong; he just kept crying like he wanted it to stop.  And I told him it would, and I petted him and told him (and myself) that it was all going to be over soon.  But it didn’t happen soon enough, and I was weak.  I couldn’t just watch it happen, watch the pain get worse and us not able to actually communicate with each other beyond emotion and physical sensation.  You know, you can’t explain anything to a cat (obviously); you can’t talk to him about passing, you can’t work through his feelings so he understands his own mortality and can be ready to leave.  You can’t tell him that the pain is only going to be here for a little while, and it’ll all be over soon.  You can only try to ease his physical pain, which I had no way to do.  So I wrapped him in a towel and put him in the carrier and took him to the vet’s office.

They rushed him into that damned ICU that scared him so badly before, but within half an hour he was gone.  I don’t know if taking him in eased his passing.  I really don’t.  I know it eased my feelings of helplessness at the moment, but it hasn’t done a thing for my feelings of guilt since then.  Should I have taken him in sooner?  At what point do you admit defeat, stop forcing the medication on the animal, and have him put down?  At what point does the pain suffered override the value of life?

All I know at this point is that we had six months together – six months for me to love him and for him to love me back; six months to give him the best life I could; six months in which he slowly faded from the playful devil I raised to a grumpy, tired little man-cat.  He still played a little at the end, but not much and not often, and not for very long.  He didn’t have the stamina.  And the last few weeks, he didn’t come to me when I called him, either.  He stayed under the bed, coming out when he felt like it and otherwise hiding.

I look back and I feel pretty sure that I did the best I could at the time.  I can see things that hindsight makes me wish I’d done differently, but that’s the way it always is.  I guess overall I’m just happy I had nine years (to the day, almost) with my little shadow cat.  There’s not much else I can do at this point, is there?

Crazy girl

I’ve had a tough couple of weeks.  Adjusting to a set schedule, especially one that requires a constant resetting of my body clock, has really set me on one ear mentally.  Today (Or was it yesterday?  I can’t remember.) I realized how much it’s getting to me.

Realistically speaking, it makes perfect sense, since this comes on the heels of a summer of stress – both good and bad.  I flew pretty high for a while there, and when I fell…  Oh boy, was it a hard hit.  I’m still reeling from it, in fact, and every day it feels like it gets worse.  But I’ll survive it, just like I survive everything else.  Problem is that I really need to accommodate and account for the stressors in my life, rather than just try to shrug them off.  Water may run off a duck’s back, but I may not actually be a duck.  I may be a loofah.

Tonight I’m staying up all night.  Why?  Because I feel like it.  Because I can’t sleep, or at least I don’t feel like I can and I don’t want to try.  But as bad as this is for me mentally and physically, at least I went to breakfast with friends and then came home alone.  After all, I could have slutted it up with some random dude from Moondog’s, or texted a booty call to one of the couple options I have there.  Why didn’t I?  Well, when it comes down to it, I didn’t want to.  I don’t want to be that person who can’t be alone, who has to find solace in meaningless “connections” because the loneliness is too much to bear.  Fuck that.  (Yeah, yeah, I know.  I try to keep my language relatively clean.  But sometimes f-bombs must be dropped to provide a proper earth-shattering effect.  So please bear with me.)  Where was I?  Oh yeah, fuck meaningless last-minute hook-ups that only provide a temporary respite from the basic solitary existence I’m in right now.

Someday I won’t be here.  Someday I’m going to find a partner in crime; somebody who I can trust, and lean on, and who I know will always be there for me.  Somebody who I’m excited to come home and see at the end of the day, who sends little chills up my back when I see him/her, and who gets my motor running both with and without trying.  Somebody who’s worth the effort that a close relationship requires, and who thinks I’m worth the effort too.  And you know, as much as I like the couple of guys I’m seeing, they are not this person.  And if this person came along tomorrow, I’d have to let my current “friendlies” go, so that they can find their own match.  Not that I don’t like them, not that I don’t enjoy their company, but let’s face it; if I thought we’d work together in the long run I wouldn’t be lonely tonight, would I?  I’d be with one of them.

Yup, someday I’ll find that person (again) and I won’t have to be lonely.  But until then, I’m going to choose to continue this lonely, crappy, frustrating, depressing existence that I’m in right now.  It really sucks coming home to an empty home, but it would suck worse to be coming home to somebody I wish wasn’t there.  I’ve been there, and I don’t intend to go back.

Conventionality

I had a moment today, as I was leaving the pet store walking behind a happy couple with a toddler in their shopping cart, when I wished for a conventional life.

I wished for the normalcy of a 9-to-5-working husband and house with a white picket fence.  I wished for a moment of being like everyone else, with 2.4 kids and a dog and church on Sundays.  I wished for a firm place in the community, clear social expectations, and neatly defined behavioral roles.

For just a moment there, I really wished I could sink into apathy and mediocrity and just be part of the faceless masses.

Then I shook my head and decided I’m going on tour next summer as a solo act.  If Gumby’s not still around, I can just rehome Princess and put all my stuff in storage, you know.  Have to give up my waterfront view, but I’d get to see a lot more of the country from the road.  And I bet I’d get a whole lot of songs written, too.

Onwardo.

Just so you know

I get asked a lot how I can stay positive all the time.  Tonight I will tell you all (again) that it’s simply a matter of deciding to think this way.

Case in point: this evening.

I feel like crap this evening.  I feel miserable.  I feel useless and I feel like I’ve failed.  I feel a lot of things, and they’re pretty much all bad.  And I’m not going to go into them because I don’t want to.

So as I get ready for bed, and as I do all the things that functionally I know will make me feel better (even though I don’t want to do a damned one of them), I tell myself that tomorrow will be better.  And if tomorrow isn’t actually better, then the day after that will be.  And if not, then the day after that.  And so on, and so forth.  Basically, sooner or later things will get better, and I’ll feel good again.  So just ignore the bad feeling now and know that it will pass.

I’ve told myself this often enough, and I’ve been right often enough, that I believe it.  And even though I still feel like crap tonight, I have hope that I won’t feel like crap for much longer.  It’s unpleasant, but it is effective.

So there you go: How to Not Feel Like Crap For Very Long 101.

Less alone

There are many people in this world who love me, who don’t want me to leave.  Family, friends, all sorts of people.  I appreciate every bit of it, and I don’t want anyone to think otherwise.  But for all that love, for all that concern, there are only two of them who are actively working to keep me here.

Dennis and Shawn, you make me feel less alone.  You make me feel wanted, and loved, and needed, and appreciated.  The fact that you’re willing to actively do something to help me find a way to make enough money to stay here is humbling and encouraging.  It’s given me a second wind.  It’s helped me remember my own worth.

There are many people who say what they think and what they feel, which is sometimes a wonderful thing but also sometimes is WAY too much!  I tend to hide or disguise my emotions (especially the “negative” ones), and I know there are a lot of other people who do the same.  Many of us hold back the things we feel strongest about because we think we shouldn’t burden others with those feelings, especially if we’re struggling with some personal problem that we think we ought to be able to handle for ourselves.  I know one person who is struggling with a BIG problem, and sharing it, and sharing that she’s struggling with the sharing.  And as I read what she writes, I can feel her confusion and pain, and her reluctance to disclose that comes right along at the very moment that she’s disclosing it.

Kristina, you make me feel less alone.  You make me feel less crazy, and less neurotic, and less unstable, and more normal.  You echo my fears of not reacting normally, but not even being able to define a normal reaction in the first place.  I’ve never walked the path of cancer, but I’ve dealt with grief (not always well!) and I can appreciate some of what you’re dealing with.  And reading what you write about your struggles helps me understand my own.

I think that on some level I’m always going to feel alone.  I mean, I’ve been this way my whole life – looking at social interactions from the outside.  Not sure why that’s true, but it is and it always has been true, and I figure since it’s what I know best, it probably always will be true.  The only person in the world who ever in my life made me feel not-alone, who made me feel like I was an integral part of humanity, is gone, irrevocably lost for all time.  So I default to the comfort of solitude.  (Maybe I should just go live on a mountain by myself!)  But it does get lonely sometimes, and the solitude that I find so comfortable does need a break.  Unfortunately, spending so much time alone weakens the ties I feel with others, which makes it hard to alleviate the loneliness when it does bother me.

So I want to thank Dennis and Kristina and Shawn (in alphabetical order) for just being who you naturally are.  You’re all fabulous people, and I’m glad that I know you.  You didn’t intend to do any of it it for this reason (I don’t think) but you’ve made me feel less alone.  And I truly, deeply appreciate that.