Sunday, December 31, 2006

Boot Camp Day 3

Hard to type this one, as I just returned from my upper body workout and 30 minutes on the elliptical and my arms are weak. Crunches + 1 for 3 sets of 16 reps (I know, candy ass, but I'll be at 3 sets of 40+ reps when Camp is done and I don't want to hear from those of you doing hundreds a day ~ yet, anyway).

My gym is remodeling and it's packed because everything's squished to one side. Parking lot was full, all 20+ ellipticals were full except for one. It was almost as if the heavens opened to reveal that one. single. elliptical. crosstrainer. just for me. And today! Today was heavenly!! It felt like the old days: filled with energy, enthusiasm, pushing myself, ending up with that euphoria that I find so addicting.

Today's music was djSteveBoy's That Gets My Heart from June 2, 2006, plus a little Pigeonhed in the form of Battle Flag, which never fails to rev me up and which I repeated a couple of times because it's just kickass. It occurs to me that this is the first day back on my anti-dementia/alzheimer's/inflammation regimen of supplements; maybe that made a difference too.

This belle does not question good fortune. I am happy that it's getting easier and that there's a good chance it may actually become fun again. Six of those holiday puff pounds are gone since Wednesday and I feel blessed. In the words of Pigeonhed, "I say hallelujah!" and a happy new year and the best of life to all of you in 2007. Day 3, done.


Saturday, December 30, 2006

Where is this coming from?

I can't get this idea out of my head that I am supposed to go to seminary. God has a sense of humor. Wouldn't that be a hoot? I haven't even been in church since I was 12. Very strange and it won't go away. Pray for me, darlings.


Boot Camp Day 2

Can I just say oww fucking ouch this hurts? This is pain and it's self-inflicted not due to the exertion today, but rather due to my having slacked off three months ago. Ouch. That hurts in more ways than one and not just physically.

Nevertheless, I did it: 30 minutes on the elliptical, a serious lower body workout, crunches. I'm going to add three crunches a day for the next 30 days, the length of my personal Boot Camp. I hate them so much but desperately need to work on core strength.

Today's workout mix was djSteveBoy's selection from September 15, This is How We Roll. Nice mix. I had a moment or two of losing myself in the beat and the effort of my body. That was a nice reminder of where I used to be and, blessed be this so forgiving so abused body of mine, can be again.

I have 30 days until Florida, 30 days to get back into frisky mode so I can walk the beaches with my pumpkin. In honor of the upcoming beach time, and as an antidote to the cold wet gloom that has descended on Tulsa, I found this photo of Caladesi Island, which will be our first stop. Day two. Done.


Friday, December 29, 2006

Sissy girl goes to Boot Camp

I have been fighting going back to the gym for weeks now. The hard core six-day-a-week workin' out "lift heavy or go home" fierce bitch I was a few months ago has vanished. She's been replaced by this soft candy ass weak thing I don't even recognize.

Nevertheless, I am fierce and I can get it back and I will. I am committing myself to my own form of Boot Camp and I'll share it here for some additional accountability. I'm splitting up my weight workouts, something I don't normally do, so I'll be forced to go back to the gym six days a week. It's a simple plan and I can do it. I hate feeling weak, I hate backsliding on progress I've made, I miss feeling kickass and powerful and ready to take on the world.

Run 30 minutes on the crosstrainer
Alternate upper body with lower body
Crunches (ugh) every day

I'm done for today, this day, Friday, my new birthday. I am inspired by members of the FatFighters blogs and also by my hero David at Someone in a Tree. David works out constantly and sometimes naked(!) and he eats sanely and with discipline. Hero of the day.

My other hero of the day is DJ SteveBoy who puts together hour+ dance and workout mixes every week and offers them as podcast downloads free from his website. The June 2 offering, Come Into My House, is still one of my favorites and I listened to it tonight a the gym. He likens dance music in a disco to being in church and in the midst of his beats with my eyes closed, thinking of my younger days and the feeling of being on a packed dance floor at three a.m., well I kind of agree. DJ SteveBoy is a good boy for keeping the music coming.

So there it is: public commitment, accountability. Boot Camp for me and back to two shakes a day for meal supplements, writing down every fucking morsel that goes in my mouth at MyFoodDiary and trying to get my workouts in early in the morning. We'll see how it goes. Holler at me if I don't report for a day ~ it means I'm slacking. The Belle is excited to get back to work on this BigAss. Booyah!


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Where did that motivation get to?

I know it's around here somewhere, that motivation to scamper up to the gym every evening, hop on the elliptical, run hard for 45 minutes. If anyone out there has any extra, toss some my way. I know it's just a matter of breaking this deadly inertia, but getting there; what a struggle it is.


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Pat is dead

Six years ago I answered the phone at work to hear a frantic voice shouting "he's dead, he did it, can you come, they need you." The voice was a neighbor of my in-laws and the dead one was Pat, their son.

Pat was the baby in this family of five. He was the good son, in contrast to Glenda's in-your-face hostility and Mike's hippie wanderings. Pat moved from Wyoming to attend Oklahoma Baptist University. He wanted to be a minister, studied theology, psychology.

One of his classes took a trip to the adult mental institution in Craig County. Pat's world shifted when he saw the inmates claiming to be Jesus, God, Moses, screaming their fear of satan. The scrawlings on the walls, the artwork, so much of it depicting the agonies and fires of hell, somehow convinced him there was no God and his beliefs were foolish.

He dropped the theology, became a committed atheist. In every way but that, he was my kind of man: activist, vegetarian (I'm not, alas, but I want to be), environmentalist, angry about social injustice. He cared. He cared and it hurt him. He agonized over conditions in third world countries. He raged against whaling, against destruction of the rain forests, the absurdity of cutting the last old growth redwoods.

Pat's first suicide attempt came in early December after we returned from a trip to the wilds of New Mexico. There are few states I love more, and the mountains around Taos are a spiritual touchstone for me. Mike and I were spiritually inspired by the evidence of ancient cultures, by the glory of the wildness and Pat seemed so too. We got back on Sunday. On Tuesday, Pat's coworker called to say he had not come to work.

My husband and his sister, Mike and Glenda, struggled with what to do. They debated whether he had the right to follow his own path. While this telephone debate was going on I was screaming GET OFF THE FUCKING PHONE I'M CALLING THE POLICE GET OFF GET OFF GET OFF!! Calling the police had not entered into their minds. They would never rat on their brother, never call "the man" to deal with this thing. Never.

Sometimes I think that nothing I do is authentic to the moment, everything is influenced by past events, by old feelings. My mother attempted suicide when I was a child, passing out at the table while my sister and I ate our bean soup, and I remember being absolutely frozen in that moment. My eight year old self did not know what to do and my racing heart and screaming brain were trapped in an immobile shell of a body. I couldn't act, I didn't, and someone else effected the rescue.

So with Pat the act was clear. I loved him very much, but some of the detachment that comes with not my kin, not really let me act while Mike and Glenda debated. I don't blame them for their inaction and I'm not criticizing, but get out of my fucking way I'm not just going to dick around while he dies. That was my thought. I called the cops.

Very long story short, the cops came, an ambulance, he pulled a gun on me, Glenda assaulted a reporter, Pat was wild-eyed and incoherent with the overdose he'd taken to do himself in. Locked up briefly, raging against us; Mike and I got nervous enough to get the pistols off the shelves and out of the cabinets where they're tucked around the house (a Wyoming love turned me into a gun moll) and keep them handy. Pat was not himself in any way.

But he got over it and meds were adjusted and on and on. Two years later, night before Thanksgiving and a frantic call from the mother-in-law: "Pat left a note on the table while we were gone, he's going to kill himself and the SWAT team's here can you come??" The SWAT team was indeed there, made up of my coworkers among the detectives at the Justice Center and a few others I did not know.

I made an effort to keep my self out of it and to rebuke the feelings of humiliation at having my family become the Client and God bless those cops, they were so kind. Same routine, short hospitalization, release, changing meds, blah blah blah nothing changed.

Twice we interrupted Pat's plans; I suspect there were others we never knew about. He wanted to die, he said so, he told us we could not, ultimately, stop him. The night of our Christmas open house while we were laughing and enjoying life with 150 of our friends and family, Pat swallowed two bottles full of his meds and a pint of vodka. While we were having a lovely evening full of joy and friendship and warmth he was dying alone.

It was Tuesday before Jack became suspicious and, using his key, went to check on Pat, finding him curled up on his bed, a puddle of fluid beneath his head, absolutely cold and finally dead. Jack never got over it. I believe it was this horror, of finding his beloved child in this way, that started the events that led to Jack's death three months later. Another long and sad story and this one is long and sad enough.

I'm not even sure why I'm telling it except to say that Pat and my mother were very much alike. Both intelligent, strong, educated, willful beings who were convinced there was nothing wrong with them. My mother was convinced she did not need lithium; Pat was convinced that medication alone would fix him when the evidence so clearly indicated it would not. I begged him to get counseling and he briefly met with a therapist and actually improved. That's a slow process, though, and painful. Something in him rebelled against the idea of confronting his feelings with another and he quit shortly before his death.

This is a blue time of year for so many and I see it in the eyes of folks everywhere. This day is the anniversary of Pat's death and another couple of days will be 37 years since my mother vanished. I am not blue, though I'd be just as happy if it were January and we could skip all this.

But if this is a blue time of year for you, please take care of yourself. Life can get better. This will be the longest night of the year and from this day forward the days will be growing longer with the return of the sun. The light is returning to our world and if you're missing a light in your soul, know that it, too, can come back. Just don't give up. This is a hard time of year but it will pass. Don't quit on your life the day before it starts to get better. If you've tried everything, ask for the strength to try again, but please don't quit.

And so my holiday wish for everyone is joy, peace and love for all and if you just can't get there, adequate help to make it so and the fortitude to stick with it and keep trying. Love to all of you.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

All I want for Christmas . . .

Betty is better and all is well in my world. This may be one of the funniest things I've seen this holiday season. Turn your sound up and enjoy.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

My Betty is sick

And I am fretting and can't stop. This little girl is my second doggy love, a rescued Westie/Jack Russell mix with a little deafness thrown in and a wide-eyed gaze that is as near human as I've ever seen in a dog. Since we returned from Mazatlan, she's been throwing up.

I know dogs do that and she's an investigative creature, quickly onto all manner of grotesque tidbits when we go for walks, so I figured it would pass. It didn't. Thursday she was bad and Friday worse and I took her to the vet. He gave her a shot, sent her home with pills, she slept in my arms all afternoon.

I was on the verge of taking her back because she was so lethargic when she hopped up and began to play her games, got her leash, engaged Billy in the roughhousing she loves. She's a tomboy dog, a rough and tumble little girl, fearless and intrepid and brave.

So she was healed and I've been thrilled and have continued pushing the nasty pills she hates down her throat per doctor's instructions. Only last night she got up and had the runs. And then up again and again. Had to wash her back feathers at 5 a.m. because she could not calm down and I hadn't realized she'd soiled herself and this little tomboy dog is girlie enough that she can't stand being soiled.

Now she's sleeping on my lap but making these little moaning sounds. My magic magnifying mind has her at death's door the same way the spot on my arm discovered in the shower turns into melanoma and limb amputation and brain cancer before I even run out of hot water.

I remember so well how I felt when it became clear that my husband was very sick. I spent many years protecting myself from the pain of losing a beloved Other, and when the doctor called from surgery to say his liver was a disaster and to ask permission for tests, there was a very clear curtain that came down between Life Before and Life After.

Life Before did not take into account the potential for loss. It was magic, pain-free, innocent, lovely. Life After was terrifying, carried an aching constant pain, a horrifying awareness of helplessness in the face of the capriciousness of disease, and tremendous grief.

It was surely the disappearance of my mother that set into motion this need to protect my heart, the protection which ultimately kept me shut off from Others for a very long time. But faced with the loss of my husband (he is relatively well now and I am so grateful), faced with the possible illness of this small dog I love so madly, I am reminded again that loving the Others hurts. It hurts and when I am caught up in that pain I think "Idiot! You learned this lesson, you fool why did you let go, why?" and I just want to run away and find someplace alone to lick my wounds and protect my heart.

Being open in this life carries great risk. I think it's a little like childbirth (so I'm told): you can experience agony but then a little forgetting sets in. It takes forgetting to be able to forge ahead in love and in life. The unbearable nature of loss was what prevented me from a lasting relationship for so many years. The fear of having no control fueled my transient dalliances with men and ensured that I would dip into their lives and vanish before I faced a separation instigated by the him of the moment.

Once love happens, though, the opportunity to flee disappears. I am stuck loving this little dog, no matter what's wrong with her. I am entrenched in loving this husband who probably will not grow old with me. Every life has its vagaries and uncertainties and living in fear of the future is something I do not choose today. I choose to live in love and joy and happiness and I am there the vast majority of the time and yet this morning I am afraid and sad that a creature I love is in pain. I love this little girl and in that act is the potential for heartbreak.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Over it

Mike came into my office at the warehouse and plopped down, saying "it's going to be a sparse Christmas, honey." These words are something of a misnomer, because he's got gifts stashed in his closet from earlier in the year. But just the sound of these words from my sweetheart gives me such immense joy I find it hard to hold it in. I have been over the collecting urge, over the acquisitional drive, over the wish to spend, accumulate, gather up, have, own, take care of stuff. I am weary of stuff, weary of the feeling of being tethered by things. I have been hoping he'd get over it too.

We used to shower each other with gifts. Shower. It was ridiculous, really, almost obscene, but we'd tell ourselves it's our money, we love it, it's fun, and so on. It was lots of fun at the time, but doesn't even get me excited now. How much stuff can one person have? And what, ultimately, is the point? This winter trip to the sunny beaches has cemented in my mind how much more precious memories and experiences are than the next antique compass or potlid or romance landscape oil.

He continued by saying he really doesn't want or need anything and just wants to travel with me. Hallelujah! This is the best gift I've ever received. I am full of joy this morning and hoping that y'all are as well. Ho ho ho! Off we go.

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Friday, December 08, 2006

This undeserved life

I don't even know what to call this because it's going to be a rant and I have to get rid of it so I can go to bed. It's long and ugly but it gets better just by writing it out.

I am a helper by nature: little miss fix it, help it, make it better. I don't know if it's some thwarted mothering instinct which would have been spent had I ever given birth. I don't know what it is, it's just been with me all my life and, like so many things, it's hell and it's not, this urge to help.

A couple of months ago I got a call on a Saturday morning from a guy wanting to know if I had some work for him in packing and shipping. Very long story short, I hired him and I adore him. He's smart, energetic, runs circles around my main warehouse/shipping guy. Circles. He's sweet, funny, I like this man. He's the cousin of a guy who used to work for me, and the nephew of another, both of whom are hopeless alcoholics and had to be let go.

This kid (I say kid, he's 38!!) tries so hard. He's sweet. People take advantage of him. I think he's kind of lonesome so he allows all sorts of trash into his life and since he works and works hard, makes money, keeps a home, has something of a stable life, he attracts users. He is Seminole and Creek and he and his family suffer the triad of afflictions so common to Native Americans in this state: profound poverty and discrimination and alcoholism. I don't know if our native population will ever overcome the effects of this country's efforts to destroy their culture with the boarding schools. That policy was a travesty no amount of reparations will ever make right.

He lost his apartment three weeks into working for me because the aunt he was living with spent his rent money on dope; had to move. He gets anxious, obsessive. I know these traits. He's an alcoholic, sort of non practicing, sort of, most of the time. I'm an alcoholic, definitely not drinking ~ geeze, just realized for 24 years December 6. He's done some time on a couple of occasions; it was sheer luck that I was not locked up for any number of reasons. So I helped him with the apartment thing ~ just a little, with transportation, some extra furniture.

Then the electric goes off. Apartment's cold. Some loser cousin used his name to get utilities, didn't pay and now this kid (38!!) owes big $$. I helped. Gave him his Christmas bonus early. Electric's on. Yea. Let's work!!

I hold back part of his money each week so he'll have it to pay rent. He took his check last week while we were in Mazatlan and got his holdback monies too. Before he got his rent paid, he met up with a cousin fresh out of the pen, and got drunk to "show him a good time." Ended up staying drunk all weekend. His female cousins took his money. Some other cousin took his phone. When he realized he'd lost all his money and his phone, he just got drunk again. What the fuck. I know that feeling. I advanced him the rent money without his having asked. Poor people get so thoroughly fucked in this world. A day past due and it's another $25, then $25 per day until paid. By the end of the week he'd have been so far in the hole his entire check wouldn't have covered it.

But then there was the phone. The phone is this man's lifeline. I think it's the way he keeps the lonesome at bay and stays connected to other people. He's frantic without the phone. We have been working on this fucking phone all week. Needs a new Cricket (and I have nothing but dirt to dish on those users, fucking Cricket). Three phones later, nothing had worked. There was one across town, he was sure of it, for $50. We're running all over, all day long, trying to get the fucking phone on so we can actually do some work.

At 4:30 I gave up and said let's just go buy you a new one, we have to stop this madness somewhere, we've wasted days trying to get a used one, it's not working and I'm losing my mind. Four days lost for him and a good 10 hours of my life trying to set up broken phone after broken phone, all donated by worthless cousins of this sweet kid I now want to strangle and run over with my truck.

We got the phone and he instantly relaxed and I was pissed ~ enraged, actually ~ at wasting a day until I got home and headed up the rock path to my front door. There was a fire going ~ I could see the flickering of the flames in the stained glass windows in the living room. As I opened the door, I heard a yip and the thumping of little feet on the oak floors as my puppies came running. The big cat was sitting on the sideboard making blinky eyes at me in welcome.

The house smelled marvelous. My husband was in the kitchen cooking tenderloin, asparagus and a pilaf. He came to me with a smile and hugged me, giving me warmth and comfort on this very cold, dark night, asking if I was okay, if all had gone well, I was late, he was worried, so happy to see me my sweetheart.

I felt so fortunate, so filled with gratitude, so blessed by this life filled with love and the luxury of living without any real struggle, with financial security, safety, companionship, comfort, resources, support. I too often take these things for granted and I realized it at that moment in Mike's arms.

I feel ashamed sometimes of my good fortune. I express this upon occasion and am always told "well you work hard, you went to school, you you you you." But it's really not about me and what I did. I did some things, true, but I was able to do those things because of the sheer happenstance of birth. I was born into a family with resources, a family that valued education, work, steadiness, honesty. Mine is family with good values, so good and so never ending that even when I strayed wildly from the way I was brought up, I still had that foundation to return to. I could be rehabilitated because I had something to go back to, something solid, real, good.

It's not really possible to rehabilitate someone who has never been habilitated to begin with. It's too hard. The making of a functional citizen is a lifetime process that begins at birth. A lot of what's needed happens in those first 12 years. This boy's family members are the main ones cheating him, lying to him, using him. My family lifts me up, they're always there for me, loving me, supporting me. They would never, never, not ever use me in any way. They love me. It is pure chance that I got my family and he got his.

When I am irritated with helping someone who struggles so, I find myself consumed with my mad and think fuck all of this, fuck you, fuck all you losers who can't keep it together. The feeling behind that comes from the selfish bitch who inhabits a bit of my soul. I am not doing what I want or need to do and the initial feel good that comes from being able and wanting to help another dissipates as the process drags on.

I am unselfish by instinct and my first impulses are good, but if it takes too long to help you the great I gets in the way and the bitch gets out and I think fuck you. Fuck you. I want, give me, my time, me, me, me, me, what about me!

Recognition turned my mad turned into glad and then to gratitude and an awareness of this shame or embarrassment or something I have about my undeserved blessings. This time of year when it's so cold and the nights are dark and the comforts of home are so exquisite, I am mindful of those who have so little and I say a prayer for all of the struggling people of the world. I say a prayer, too, that I will be a cheerful giver when the next opportunity presents itself. I know it will come, it always does. I will do what I can.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Off to Florida

But not 'til end of January, alas. Food is great, work is great. Sweet Mike feels so much better after a week away, he's making all sorts of changes in his daily routine. My world stopped spinning momentarily when he spontaneously went to the grocery store and bought healthy food. Who is this man?

As with all of our obsessions, we're heading out Saturday to obtain the proper accessories ~ ultra light weight carry-on bags, non-wrinkling-but-stylish clothes, running-through-the-airport shoes. Gotta get some passports, look for a cruise, find flights and hotels in Nova Scotia, Vancouver, Quebec, Belize, Panama, Chile, Argentina. Perhaps after all of that he'll take me to Paris. We have collected, gardened, auctioned nearly to death. I suspect we're on the verge of launching with single-minded obsession into traveling the world. I don't know how to do something just a little; he doesn't either. Some call it OCD, I like the idea of living with enthusiasm and passions.

The happiest times of my life I've been working toward something. This new pursuit will, I think, be the most exciting.

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Laugh's on me

Always happy to get new lessons in life, and the laugh is on me today for having been reluctant to go to Mexico. What a marvelous time! And I have gigantic tooth marks all over my body where the travel bug has seized hold and won't let go.

Did get my "swerve" on, did have a blast, did fall in love with my husband again, as well as the sunset over the Sea of Cortez, the unmatchable emerald of the waves, the pounding of the surf at night as we walked on the beach beneath the moon. I. Love. Mazatlan. This changed my head, my attitude about everything, my life. Wow. What an unexpected delight.

And it snowed a record 16" while we were gone with temps in the single digits ~ unheard of in my small corner of the south. I heard that news standing on the beach with my bare feet dug into the sand while the incoming tide lapped around my ankles.

I am on a pink cloud today. Hope you all are too.

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