Thursday, September 6, 2018

Sarah Rose


It's been difficult to know where to start with this.

A few weeks ago, one of my best and dearest friends died rather suddenly. It's difficult for me to convey how much her friendship meant to me. When I left California, I had a group of roughly five people who I kept in touch with regularly, and with whom I made a priority to visit when I went back last summer. She was in that group.

I'll take an excerpt from a recent Facebook post I made:

"She was a tomboy in all the ways I was, and “girly” in all the ways I wasn’t. Together we sang karaoke (me poorly, her beautifully), went wine tasting in Napa (her poorly, me beautifully), and shared a spa day mud bath with a hot-tub afterward. She taught me that indulgence and self-care are never bound by traditional gender roles."

We met while working at EA together. She was the office manager, in charge of herding cats and keeping the place in line. She had a no-nonsense sass and easy sense of humor about her. We hit it off right away. During a summer convention we dressed up together; her in the Daenerys Khaleesi outfit with a fabulous white-blonde wig, and me in my dragon outfit. We were quite the pair.

Even after she moved on to a different job, we hung out fairly regularly. Sometimes going out to Karaoke, where she put forth her southern vocal skills and captured everyone in the room. You see, she also sang in a band. Well, multiple bands, and she had an INCREDIBLY powerful voice. She made it look so easy as she lazily held the mic up to her lips, then let it drop with seeming disinterest during rests. I was fortunate enough to see her perform live multiple times around the greater Sacramento area. After one such performance in Folsom she called me her favorite groupie.

We would always joke that we were each other's wine-drinking buddies, even though we did much more than that. Okay, maybe not much more than that. Some days I'd just drop by her place with a cheap bottle of chuck wine, an expensive sampling of cheese, and we'd watch stupid movies for hours. She introduced me to Cabin in the Woods - and she probably doesn't know this, but afterwards, I always saw it as "our" movie. When we were taking a break back at the room in Napa, we relaxed naked in the hot tub with a bottle and turned the tv on. Cabin in the Woods had JUST started.

She was a master of southern cooking. Two things I've always done poorly were gravy and hollandaise sauce. Three or four times she had me come over to show me how, but when replicating at home something would always go wrong. When seeing comments from other people on Facebook after her death, I was flooded with emotion by how many mentioned her exquisite cooking. Someone even posted a grits recipe she had given them. She loved to share her cooking with her friends, and we were blessed to sample it. No one ever left her home hungry.

She developed a love for those silly inflatable T-rex costumes. She used to flood her facebook page with people doing all kinds of things in them until finally, she purchased her own. A few of her friends (myself included) have resolved to trade off on this costume, ala "sisterhood of the traveling pants" and continue her silly adventures. I'm already looking forward to when its my turn.

I knew she had kidney problems from the start. When we met she was on the donor list for a transplant. After a few years of waiting, she started living on borrowed time. It never stopped her from pursuing her doctorate in religious studies. After finishing her undergrad in Sac State, she moved down to Berkeley for her masters. By then she had gotten a new kidney (or two?) and was doing really well. A few months ago she went in for some sort of treatment and had to stay a few days but after that, it looked like she had fully recovered. She earned her masters, but never finished her doctorate.

It was a few days before anyone noticed. I'm still processing my anger over that. I'm not sure what I'm angry about, or at who. She didn't show up for a treatment one day, so the doctor called her emergency contact, who then sent the police to her apartment.
I don't understand.
She had friends nearby. She had roommates.
All I can think of is how she died alone. Did she collapse suddenly? Did she have pain? Did she try to cry for help? I try to believe she passed quietly in her sleep, but my brain won't let me. It keeps conjuring horribleness and rage. The helplessness of being on the complete other side of the country, unable to do anything. What could I have done anyway? I don't think I'm feeling guilt - just anger. Anger that someone closer didn't "do" something. That they didn't notice sooner.

Her funeral is in a week or so. I'm so broke right now that its hard to justify the $500 last-minute round trip, plus any other expenses. I feel like a shameful hypocrite for having recently visited Philidelphia to spend time with my partner there. I spent another $30 on books... that could have gone to my credit card or toward a plane ticket. The money on meals and booze. Its easier to nickel and dime myself to death than spend a larger sum. But I'm going to go anyway. I'll figure it out.

Barely one month before she died, she'd gotten her first tattoo. It read in Latin: “Nihilominus Perseveravit” - Nevertheless, she persisted. It feels bittersweet to think of, now.




Go now don't look back we've drawn the line 
Move on it's no good to go back in time 

 I'll never find another girl like you, for happy endings it takes two 
We're fire and ice, the dream won't come true 

Sarah, Sarah, storms are brewin' in your eyes 
Sarah, Sarah, no time is a good time for goodbyes

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Spoon Management

The last few weeks have been up and down.

My back flared up again, leaving me hobbling when I walk and forced to stand all day at my desk. While arguably the latter part of that is a good thing, it does make me miss the simple comfort of sitting. Luckily, the people around me have gotten used to my occasional need for laying flat on the floor as my back relaxed, hearing the pop-pop-crunch as my spine works its witchcraft. Its left me feeling fatigued each day for lack of sleep, and even seeing my pain specialist last Friday only relieved it temporarily.

I'm still working out, albeit carefully. Saw my personal trainer last night and everything went well. He's been a godsend for keeping me motivated on my fitness track.

My partner from Phili, Chris, visited last weekend. That was wonderful. The Friday beforehand I drove down to West Hartford for the night. Had a nice dinner, did some light bar hopping, and read my book a while. Stayed the night in my car then met up with him in southern CT with some other LARP friends the next day. It was fantastic hanging out with folks outside of LARP, eating good food and practicing our sparring techniques. Even ran a short module, and got to NPC for the first time.

We wanted to stay a bit longer, but it was getting late and we had to drive 2.5 hours back to my place. We arrived to find one of my cats had peed around the bedroom (on the new meditation cushion I had JUST HAND MADE) and pooed on the bathroom rug. I was so mad and tired that I just tossed everything in the basement to deal with later. I figured the cat(s) were just mad at me for being gone a day and that was their protest. It was really out of character for them though.

Sunday Chris and I went to a 1920s themed dance and had a blast. He's an amazing dancer and took me through a few basic steps. We had some drinks, browsed the shops, debated the meaning and origin behind the statues, and enjoyed a romatic sunset with incredible views. It was wonderful. Afterward, we stopped over at a dive bar and capped the night.

The next day I had taken off work, so we slept in and went to lunch with Christian. I was so glad they got to meet! Now Chris has met both my metamours, and only Christian and Matt have to meet. Now that Matt is moving back to the Boston area, I expect that'll happen when it feels natural. I'm really looking forward to having Matt living closer, even if I do admit to feeling cautious managing our time together. Luckily he has a few other partners to spend his time with out here, so I'm not worried at the thought of him being lonely (or with me feeling obligated to spend more time with him than I'd be up for).

Originally, Chris and I were talking about visiting again over Labor Day weekend, but in the end I had to decline. I really need to take more weekends to finish some projects - especially in time for LARP. I'll get to see him at the end of September, even though there's a chance we won't be as intimate as we'd like to be. I'll most likely spend some time helping Matt move in, then spend the rest of it on projects.

On Tuesday night Christian came over with the original plan to check out a Viking ship in Salem. I don't know how he did it, but somehow he knew to suggest staying home and cleaning instead. I've been trying to let things go more and take more time to relax, but having a messy home stresses me out. The cat pee (which I would later discover was also in my bedroom rugs) was the worst of it all. I was so blown away by his thoughtfulness and generosity. So we stayed in and worked a frenzy around the house. Removing rugs and cleaning the whole of the bedroom. Dishes, several loads of laundry, vacuuming, moving furniture, and more. It was not how I planned our evening to go :) but I was so grateful. We went to bed roughly on time and slept in a bit the next day.

The lack of sleep has been getting to me though. I broke down and ordered a new mattress last week (what's a few more hundred dollars of debt, right?) and used it for one night. It felt pretty good, but I knew I'd still have to adjust. Last night I get home around 9pm after working out and getting caught in the rain to find that one of my cats had peed on it. My new mattress. That I used for one day.

I lost my shit. I was tired, cranky, and just wanted one evening I could come home and relax. Instead, I had to throw sheets in the wash with some vinegar, then stay up late while they washed so I could throw them into the dryer. I soaked up as much of it as I could with baking soda, vacuumed it, then added another layer to soak more overnight. With tearful eyes and a sore back, I bedded down on the couch for the night.

Such a small thing to get upset about. The next morning I felt better. Physically sore, but emotionally better. My poor kitties must be sick - since it's not normal for them to pee on things like that. Hopefully its just one of them. I took a moment to feel grateful for everything. I have a couch to sleep on. I have a livingroom in addition to a bedroom, so I wasn't shut in with the smell. I have two kitties that I love, who are telling me they're hurting in the only way they know how. I know I'm broke, but I'm getting better at managing my bank account. I have so much love in my life right now, its almost unbelievable. My life is going fairly well. Its just a minor issue, and the vinegar I used this morning seemed to clear up the stain almost immediately. I started to feel silly.

Now, here at work, I'm feeling good. I'll be calling the vet on my lunch break, as well as my pain specialist for my back. I'll take more steps, make more progress, and keep making time to replenish my spoons.






Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Bear, the Fox, and the Unicorn

I sure have built a tidy menagerie for myself. It almost sounds like the name of a British pub. Well, if I ever end up owning a bar, that's what I'll call it.

The unicorn has been in my life the longest, and I've loved him for nearly as long as I've known him. I loved him back when I wasn't supposed to. I was so happy when I finally had the chance to act on that love, and was privileged enough to visit him a second time, years later. Recently single again, he uses his second breath to comment on visiting me.

His returned affection continues to surprise me, though I'm not sure why. It's not out of any thought that its undeserved on my part. But perhaps due to the distant air of his personality, I tend to forget how passionate his emotions can run. He is, in many ways, like Mr Darcy - a character I've only recently acquainted myself with. At least, he likes to think of himself that way. I do enjoy prying out the soft disposition from under the facade - although he'd never admit how easy it is for people to do so. A true nihilist, he sees no meaning in life other than what he creates. So he creates it often.
I look at him and I see where Christian will be in ten years.

The bear is more recent. Bound together initially out of the need for relatability, a desire to vent, and a hope for something more - now we're working on building something with a more solid foundation. Rational and cautious, we evaluate each step along the way. Now that our needs have changed, it feels as though we're starting to relate properly. Despite the intimacy we've shared for months, it's almost as if we're speaking for the first time.

Its hard to say how this will go, now. I have my wishes of course, and no desire for anything deeper than distance can allow. So I'm keen to play it by ear, and enjoy his company in every capacity. I have no doubt that if we decide to end the intimate levels of our friendship, we would do just fine.

The fox is a fascinating one. I've never in my life met a closer clone of myself in nearly every aspect of thought and personality. From faith, to art, hobbies, values, relationships, consent, expressions of affection, future desires, and I'm sure many other categories I'm forgetting. The continued mirroring of behavior has been disconcerting upon occasion, where we'll respond to a situation with the same phrase and tone, then look at each other and laugh. The same eagerness is there, and I have no doubt that the same affection.

Yet I'm still guarded. Its still so early for me to be with a proper partner, and I see so much promise here. At the same time, I see little potential for personal growth in a relationship such as this. While we still have plenty of little differences to keep each other interesting, so far it doesn't feel like much. While he plays the flute and I play the violin, we still share the same interests in music. Minutes after I told him I learned to play "The Inner Light" on violin, he sent me a recording of him playing it on the flute. He promised to teach me embroidery in exchange for my teaching him knitting. Just last night we discussed going in on a bulk order of leather for our next projects.

It's been so long since I've met another dragon. At least, one I can relate to on a deeper level. Most of my other dragon encounters have been casual sex at best, and insecure hostility at worst. Maybe that's why my longer-lasting partners don't end up affiliating with an animal at all, mythical or otherwise. Or if they do its fleeting, and more out of a desire for the comparison than an actual one. They're just simple humans.

Its time to take a break from simple.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Sunflower

Sunflower
7/10/18

I used to have a sunflower in the house.
Every morning it would open and stretch toward the window
Unfolding gently
To track the day with its gaze

I tended it with care
Making sure the soil was just right
Pruning the old leaves and petals
And watering as needed

In return I enjoyed its beauty
Lovely shades of yellow and orange
Contrasting the dark middle of its center
Flanked by large, light green leaves

It brought life to my home
A sense of joy and friendship
Keeping the air fresh
And reminding me to look toward the sun

One morning it opened late, only to close early
Then later, the next day
Then earlier, the next
Until it was barely open during the day at all

It started to shrivel, so I watered it more
It started to swell, so I watered it less
I changed the soil
But it only grew worse

It was dying.
It no longer opened at all
I tried everything I knew to help it come back
Until I knew I had done all I could

With a heavy heart, I brought it outside
Lifting its roots with gentle fingers,
I set it into the ground
Watered it once more, then walked away

I miss it dearly but cannot bring it back
For as content it is to track the day outside
I realize now -
I wanted to be the sun

Friday, July 6, 2018

Life on Pause

Whew the weeks have flown by!

I've had Matt over much of this week, and tonight my Phili partner will be arriving to stay for the weekend. I'm glad I had the foresight to schedule last night to myself in order to decompress and practice a bit of self-care. After cleaning up a bunch I allowed myself the time to paint minis while re-watching Westwood. It felt really good.

The weather has been so shitty. Hot and humid, it's almost impossible to do anything. Matt had wanted to go dancing, but we ended up rescheduling a few times until Tuesday night where it looked like there were no good clubs to go dancing at. Luckily we ended up at a BBQ for the fourth where we had a bit to drink and danced in the comfort of a friend's kitchen. I also had the chance to flirt a bit with a coworker I've had an interest in. Honestly, I greatly preferred that to being at a club, and it sounds like Matt will have more time to go dancing with friends this weekend while I'm otherwise occupied. Win-win.

Its been so wonderful finally establishing an in-person relationship with him. I still feel its far too soon for anything more committed, but it sounds like he feels the same as well. He's quite the extrovert, and as much as I love having him around, it feels a bit draining over this concentrated amount of time. The break this weekend will be perfect, as my Phili partner is similar in introversion and I'm hoping he won't feel quite as overwhelming. Then I'll look forward to seeing Matt a few more days before he takes off on Wednesday.

So far the balance has been pretty fair.

Today I'm supposed to go grocery shopping, but so far its been hard to leave the house. I just want to paint more, but there will be time enough for that next weekend. I also need to fix my sewing machine... bwuh. Oh and I hurt my knee a bit while dancing so yay... taking a break from the gym again :/ FYI don't try to romantically dip someone who is just as drunk as you and about the same size.

Meanwhile, I'm starting to feel my political spark coming back. I'm heading toward a better space in my life - mentally, physically, emotionally, etc. I feel like I've got a few more weeks until I'm at a point where I can give, again. Where I can contribute to the fight. I've tried not allowing myself to feel guilty at my lack of participation with so many awful things happening in the world right now. I know I still have work on myself to do. I know its selfish. I need to allow myself to be selfish just a bit longer.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Love, Whims, and Routine

Today I'm in a better place to focus more on talking about me.

Things have mostly settled into a routine, only for that routine to become disrupted again :) Such is life!

Through bad timing and circumstances, I was out of town the first two weekends after Christian moved out. First at LARP then in Atlantic City to visit with a friend and explore. While fun and amazing, both trips left me feeling exhausted. Luckily this latest weekend had nothing going on, and I made sure to keep it that way. I ran a few errands, cleaned house, and generally felt like a successful human.

During the last few weeks of the breakup I had told friends I'd need space for a while. They were amazing at understanding that. Unfortunately, now that I'm in a better place I've been over-booking myself to make up for the lost time, and its kept me from having more downtime during the week. It'll even out eventually, but for now I don't mind expending the extra energy to see people I've been missing for over a month or more. Lisa and the new baby, Johnny who keeps insisting he's owed me lunch for ages, Dan who's been so patient about scheduling a date since long before the breakup started. Jacob and I need to catch up from LARP. I also want to be there for Amanda and her inspiring activism. I'm sad to say that current political events have left me anxious and unable to contribute right away. I keep telling myself that I need to get my "me" stuff in order first, but how long before that becomes an excuse for inaction?

I also have a partner that I met at LARP. Well, not quite a partner yet - but its the label we're discussing. He and I even had time for an online date on Sunday night. He lives in Phili, so its the perfect amount distance for me right now. We met at LARP both times but didn't find out that the other was poly until this most recent one.
One week after my breakup. Ugh, why do I always do this?

You can't help when you meet someone, and he's 100% understanding my need for distance. We just clicked so quickly, it was hard to say no to. Especially since I had been missing an emotional and romantic connection for years now. Someone wants to be around me? Someone thinks I'm awesome? Well damn. Initially, I had the inkling it'd be a one-time fling or rebound, but now it looks like it could develop into more. Luckily, being poly, neither one of us feels the pull to "keep each other waiting" until I'm ready for more commitment. He'll be pursuing others at his leisure, in addition to his primary partner. No pressure on me - just an open door sitting there whenever I'm ready. And even if that door closes? No hard feelings. Gods, it's so freeing.

Its similar with Matt up in Canada. He and I had been building a connection for several months now, so it was far less... disruptive? than my spark with the potential-partner in Phili. Cautious every step of the way, we both made sure that our mutual affection wasn't rooted in the ending of our primary relationships. Compassionate, attentive, logical, and rational, we've evaluated every step along the way. It still feels good. It still makes sense. Do we feel this way because we feel this way? Or because it feels good to feel this way? Always checking in. It's definitely still the former.

They're both visiting in July. Thus, my routine will be disrupted again for a bit. It's so terrible :)
I might even end up skipping a gym visit! *gasp*

All joking aside, its been wonderful having a solid rhythm again. Three days a week in the gym, with every other week seeing my personal trainer. Evenings with friends or cleaning at home. I still have a long task list to complete before I'll be fully satisfied with the house. Clean under the sink, bleach the bathroom, sort the pantry... Once all that is done I'll be able to relax more.

I did force myself to relax a bit more yesterday. It was close to 90F, and I'd had a rough day at work. Got home a little early and set myself up on the hammock with a glass of wine (The new Apothic coffee wine!). I was able to relax, knit a while, and listen to Handmaids Tale on audiobook. You wouldn't think that'd be relaxing to listen to, but I'm so captivated by Margaret Atwood's descriptions and similes. I mean, just read this:

“The tulips along the border are redder than ever, opening, no longer wine cups but chalices; thrusting themselves up, to what end? They are, after all, empty. When they are old they turn themselves inside out, explode slowly, the petals thrown like shards.”

Poetry. That whole book is front to back poetry. It also amuses me to find differences between the book and the show. There are more than I'd have expected for a show so highly acclaimed.

My mornings are slower now. I get up early with the summer light; most window blinds left open from the night before to allow the house to wake up before me. I open the door and both cats immediately run in for attention, fighting for the best sunbeam on the bed. There are golden Peruvian Lillies outside my bathroom window. I'll open the blinds and window fully and let in more light. Living in a basement apartment can have drawbacks, but I'm very fortunate to have full windows. I take advantage of it where I can.

On the days I don't go to the gym (like this one), I come in early and take care of personal tasks before truly starting my work day. Today it felt good to write for the sake of writing. No obligations.

I am a creature of whims. Its time I let myself be just that.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Planning the End - April 2018


This is the last of  my unpublished posts. I have a bunch of other old drafts, but nothing really relationship related. If I do find something I missed I'll share it in the future.

An unpublished post from 4/19/18

***


I'm tired of his continual aversion to intimacy. Its as if his avoidance of conflict goes hand in hand with his avoidance of love. Every night we go to sleep, and unless I'm the first to say "good night," then nothing is said at all. Its just silence until he falls asleep. I can't continue on with a partner I'm constantly reminding to love me.
I can't recall the last time he did something for me that 1. I didn't ask him to do or 2. He didn't mess up in some way by his inability to think about my feelings.
He didn't even ask why I called into work today. Everything he does (or more accurately, doesn't do) screams "I don't give a shit about you." He displays a bare minimum of affection, and only when it's convenient or pleases him somehow. I'm lost and forgotten.

I called in because I finally made up my mind to leave. It had been knocking around in my head since my failed birthday adventure and his inability to make up for mistakes. He genuinely doesn't care, and thats not me trying to get reassurance or sound like I'm putting myself down. He just doesn't. I'm trying not to be angry that he kept lying to me for so long about it.

It was a combination of a few things that helped me decide. My birthday was the first step - I asked him to take me to Providence for the day and explore. He didn't bother to find a place to park in advance, so we drove around for 20 minutes before settling in only to have to move the car in two hours. Over half the places he planned on taking me were closed since it was the weekend. Not to mention very few places were actually within walking distance of the car, so we even had to Lyft from one part to the other. I was so let down. I just wanted one day where I felt cared for. Just one where I didn't have to do everything.

There were a few more events in between then and now. I'm so mentally exhausted I can't even think of them. All his failures and neglect tend to blend together after a while.

The final straw seems somewhat silly on the surface. He told me that he never looked at my travel photos when I was on my road trip. He said he'd wanted me to go through them with him or some such excuse, when that was nearly three years ago now. He didn't even bother to make up a convincing lie. At least he stopped trying to convince me he thought I was interesting.

After he said that and gave a lame excuse, I just felt a click. Everything fell into place. Even then - even in the first year of our relationship, he wasn't excited to be with me. He missed me as an abstract concept, but not enough to invest in me. I grew cold and angry. I think I snapped at him, but I don't remember what I said. I walked into the other room, cried a moment and composed myself. I was done wasting my time. I gave him so much, over and over to prove he's worthy of love. To make him feel like an equal partner in the relationship. This whole time he never cared about making me feel the same.

I just have to get the timing right. I still love him, and want him to succeed. I'll wait until his finals are over in May. That way I'll have plenty of time to set things in motion, and allow for a possible change of heart if he gets his shit together before then. I just can't see how that'd happen.

He hasn't fought for me once during the course of our whole relationship. Nothing I can say or do will make him fight for me now. If I tell him I want to leave, he won't ask me to stay.

I'm ready to get on with my life.