Checking in …

10 days and my sabbatical couldn’t be going better. The weather is perfect. Flowers are in bloom everywhere. I spent the first week not frozen in the same fixed programming position hour after hour and instead sleeping in, catching up errands I’ve been meaning to do for the last year (like sewing and house stuff), having fun, reading lots of books (YOU MUST CHECK OUT “Eat Pray Love”), and not worrying about a thing. And wouldntcha know it, people have started commenting on how relaxed I look. Even my physical therapy massage therapist said that my body is already bouncing back. I went tango dancing on concrete on Sunday and had no pain afterwards. It’s like a miracle.

Doo Dog has mellowed too. He walks around with his little ears perked up more. Very little dementia or panic lately. In fact, I’ve started weening him off his expensive anti-dementia pills and, if anything, he is doing better than before. And he turned 17 years old on Monday! He got little toddler-sized tie-dyed T-shirts for his birthday. Lest you think me off my rocker, he actually has some “old dog” sores on his body and the t-shirts are by order of vet (to keep his wounds clean and breathing while they heal). He seems to like the shirts a lot–I imagine that they make him feel more secure. So, we may keep them. I grew out of dressing up my pets at around age 10, but I have to say, in his little t-shirts and the Lion King Huggies that he wears for incontinence, he looks pretty damned cute.

In other news, I’m deep into my thesis. Although it’s frustrating to me that it has taken so long to finish, every time I’ve dropped it and picked it up again, I’ve come back with better writing skills and ideas that make the whole thing more cohesive and sound. This is going to be a piece of work I’m proud of–which is saying a lot considering what a perfectionist I can be.

What a blessing this time off is.

P.S. Since I’m in thesis mode, I’m more or less in voluntary seclusion to let my sehnsucht cook my ideas. I’m behind in reading and commenting on your journals but I’ll be back. If anyone wants me to chat with me sooner, feel free to drop a note or give a ring. I do take spontaneous breaks.

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Cloudy

C’mon Sun. I know, everyone has their odd day of unseasonal brooding. But two? That’s just a tad bit passive-aggressive, don’t you think?

Buck up, there, friend.

Alarm Clock

Monday.

My alarm went off this morning. This is my “It’s friggin’ 7 AM and if you haven’t already woken up on your recognisance then you better seriously reconsider your life because, honey, I’m all that separates you from your comfy king-sized bed with orthopedic mattress and 300 thread-count sheets and being a bag lady” alarm. I’ve largely been ignoring this alarm for the last year, not unlike like a teenager grunting in response to being told for the 5th time to take out the garbage. Last spring, this sing-song dispatch of doom was mere punctuation on interminable episodes of sleep-depriving back pain; later, it infringed upon my drug-induced valium comas (which, after hours of the aforementioned pain, had whisked me off to fairy land usually only a paltry three hours before); then it crowded in on my reprieves from mid-night fretting over my ailing, aging canine’s new obsession with thrashing on the bed like a detoxing alcoholic trying to get the cockroaches to stop crawling all over his face; other times, it just ominously tolled another day in which I go to work, full of life, feel shut down by 10 AM, sometimes downright scared and defensive by 1 PM, and come home able to do nothing but stare at the TV for the rest of the evening. As you might imagine, this alarm came to seem as about as useful to me a pair of long johns in summer. It just wasn’t what was needed.

Had I thought about it this weekend, I would have disabled it. But I hadn’t. And so, this morning, it went off for the 78th time in this, my 39th year of zipping around the sun. And although I didn’t sleep all that well last night, the alarm didn’t really bother me this time. In fact, it struck me as kind of amusing. Yeah, the more I lay there, the funnier it was. Kind of like finding yourself the butt of a comedian’s jokes in a nightclub, there’s no harm in laughing at yourself because, when all is said and done, you get to go home whenever you want, looking like a good sport, but he’s gotta come back out night after night and try to get people to like him all over again. So, to my beloved alarm I say: Whatevah.

I think, for now, I’ll keep it. I mean, let’s face it: I can always nap later.

Freedom: The Warm-Up Round

The word for the weekend: VOLUPTUOUS.

My libido is awakening as if from the slumber of a long decaying marriage. It wants to stay out late, swill martinis, and offer itself up as a devotee prostrated at the foot of the twin gods of Beauty and Pleasure.

Friday: tango. My hot, little, magenta and black polka dot dress, ruffles hemmed high in the front and long in the back to frame my calves like two veal cutlets, lightly braised and served on a bed of red kale. Even when the dress clasp broke and I had to switch to a beguiling back-up raiment of blue and brown polka dotted meringue, the deities, unflappable in their delight, tangoed me on. Saturday: spa. My girlfriend M and I indulged in FOUR hedonistic hours of fluffy robes and an insouciant gluttony of towels, steam, massage oil, and inexcusably expensive facial products that would have the best Boulderites pointing at my hybrid and crying foul. Then more tango. Sunday: meditation, shopping for lingerie for no good reason, phone time with one of my dearest and oldest friends, reading in the rocking chair, and napping in the rocking chair. I dipped my hand in and out of sleep, and, each time, it came out so coated in oily velvet that I felt as if I had become a chocolate truffle on God’s tongue. I am alive. I am happy. I am grateful. It is spring. Be warned. I need to kiss you.

On a side note: Another girlfriend surprised me tonight with an unexpected phone call, very plainly and un-blamingly asking me for a little more mindfulness and effort on my part in our relationship. This woman never ceases to impress me. She wields her vulnerability like a glass blower, breathing and turning life into this hot, molten thing inside of her until it yields such delicate efflorescence that smashing it would be unthinkable. I could learn a lot from her.

Tomorrow’s dilemma: finish my book or catch up on my Netflix subscription. I give these intemperances through Wednesday and then I dive into my thesis and re-ground my affliction of Eros in Inanna’s underworld.

I sing you in my body

I sing you in my body, God said.
The crystal goblets in
my credenza vibrate with your nearness.
Echoes of the Big Bang bounce off
my parlor walls when you laugh.
You show your moon-side, and
all of the parish dogs,
sleeping on sofas, and the midnight coyotes,
snacking on offal,
stand up and howl.

Nothing in me can resist you.
I’m like a tuning fork,
humming
at your approach.
I just
can’t
help
it.

* I’m still not settled on the big bang line. Something seems off about the rhythm or the progression of imagery. Any suggestions?

Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.

Well, it’s finally official. Effective this Friday at 5 PM, I have been transferred to another engineering team: my original team (going back 5-10 years)–and have been granted a 3-month leave of absence to finish my thesis and recover from the pain and burnout of the last year. When I come back, I will work under a manager that I’ve known for a decade and I trust “gets” me and will act on my behalf and my peers will be people that I also have a good rapport with and know will respect and encourage me. I’m quite happy.

I’m trying to focus on “quite happy” and not on the desperate measures it took to effect this change and how cynical and betrayed I felt in most of the process. I’m also trying to look at the valuable lesson I learned …

I recently asked my friend Art how he is so positive and loving all of the time. (He really is quite phenomenal in that way.) And he said that he just knows himself well enough to know when a situation is likely to knock him off his sense of center and his core connectedness with people, and then he draws a line well before that point and communicates clearly what that line is. Then, if the line is crossed, he simply takes his leave of the situation. He doesn’t go in a huff because he has acted before he got angry. He doesn’t need anyone to apologize for the infraction because he has taken care to protect himself and the relationship from injury.

On reflection, I realize that I also have a sense of that line in myself, but when people cross it, I compromise. And then I compromise some more. And I make excuses why compromising is OK. Until I’ve finally compromised so much that I’m angry and bitter. And who’s fault is that?

Now, had I used Art’s approach, I wouldn’t still have my job. I would have quit in the fall of 2006. But I also probably wouldn’t be quite so traumatized and protective and have been reinforcing the grooves in the less pleasant parts of my psyche. I know I have ugly, self-righteous aspects. It’s not like I’m going to become a saint and transcend these any time soon. But, if I’ve learned anything after countless hours of psychotherapy, the human version of perfection doesn’t mean being able to handle anything that gets thrown at you; instead, it lies in learning one’s own weaknesses and tendencies and respectfully navigating around these more destructive ruts and traps in one’s personality, even if that means sidestepping situations that make one react in these ways.

Hopefully, I’ll get the opportunity to practice this boundary enforcement some more soon, before I forget the lesson.

So, I’m sure everyone expects that a person with 3 months off would go do something adventurous. But, frankly, I need to eliminate as much stress as possible. A couple of my coworkers (who know the difficulties of my departing situation) have said that they personally don’t know how I put up with the maltreatment and shenanigans for so long. And just yesterday, another of my spine doctors expressed how relieved he is that I will have such a long break because he can feel all of the tension and toxicity in my body. So, I’m going to write, be with my pets, sit by the river and catch up on my tall stack of reading, exercise, and see if I can re-establish that sense of the sacred in every day life.

Peace, friends. May this be a summer of rejuvenation and deepening for you all.

God’s dog.

When I walk my elderly dog, I often think of the parallel of my relationship with God. I wonder, does my beloved friend feel forsaken when I’m away at work? Does he blame my faltering omnipotence when my tardiness reduces him to the shame of unloading an unbearably full bladder on the forbidden rug? When his deadened hearing and failing eyesight lose track of my footsteps, does he feel lost even though I am still right beside him, silently grateful for his companionship? In his bursts of joyful energy, if he runs right off an unseen curb and stumbles, does he feel betrayed even though I am scrambling to keep apace with his exuberance for life? Or, when he feels my hand scratching his ears and he melts into slack jawed bliss, does any of that matter? Is it maybe enough that the best I ever could do was cherish him?

How can I tell him that there isn’t anything I wouldn’t give so that, when his life light dims and fades, he won’t have to wonder where I have gone, that all the while I will be hugging him with the total force of my being, in a pool of grief, wondering how to bear a world unleavened by his devotional heart?

It’s not that different, really.

Queen Noor on reclaiming Mother’s Day for Peace

I’ve seen this woman speak before. She is phenomenal in her intelligence, articulateness, patience, and soft strength. And her relative obscurity in the U.S. speaks volumes about the how we still haven’t been able to tear ourselves away from images of power as “power over” to embrace the kind of world-changing power that is already being quietly embodied by women the world over. Check out her thoughts on the true potential and meaning of Mother’s Dayhere.