Trying to write a little earlier today. Going to meet CK at my office in about an hour and we'll ride back to her flat. We have dinner reservations at Higgins at 8:30 and plan to have drinks at the Heathman beforehand. Fancy dinner date night for my birthday.
I feel oddly nervous! I just tried on two different skirts, in itself a bit unusual for me, and three different tops. Finally settled on something that is very "Portland" dressy and won't look ridiculous with the shoes I'll be wearing (which are actually very important). CK has seen me dressed more nicely for work but something feels different in dressing up to look good. Not a bad nervous, just I'm aware of that energy.
I finally really slept in! Woke up just past 8AM with both Zonker and Phoebe in the bed. Had some coffee and an English muffin with peanut butter and jam. Then we put up the paper, hanging light in the "shala" (really our meditation and yoga room, but AM immediately took to referring to it as the shala and it is easier to say). We also hung up the beautiful Kalamkari hanging of Buddha teaching that was a gift from a co-worker from India.
This room has gone back to feeling like a refuge. It had gotten filled up with boxes while we sorted out stuff from the garage. The futon that had been in there got moved downstairs so someone could still sleep down there after we gave the old futon to the Burmese family. I felt sad whenever I went in there go grab my yoga gear. This week I sorted out everything to go to Goodwill and AM has taken a carload of things away today. I recycled piles of papers and pitched out other stuff not in good enough shape to donate. We got a new sofa bed for the basement and moved the futon back up. Next weekend or so we'll pick up a couple of shelves, one for that room and one for mine. Once those are in place and I've put some fabric into storage things will look quite put together. AM commented that the room leaves him wanting to do zazen, which is exactly what I wanted it to feel like again!
I've done laundry all morning, when I've not been moving stuff around the house or out to the car. Most of the fabric has all been washed up, I've plastic storage bins to put it in so it stays clean. It felt good to get things done around here today that have been languishing. With the teacher training starting Friday I've wanted to feel like I'd addressed some things that had bothered me.
Of course by now my back aches! Hoping the ride will loosen things up as will walking around this evening. I'm finding myself hugely relieved that things have settled down after those long weeks of distance. When CK would talk about doing this dinner a few weeks ago I felt uneasy, not sure that a romantic birthday dinner would be nearly as fun if we were still anxious with each other. After these weeks and the ups & downs I still feel myself getting a little giddy-anxious at getting all dressed up. Yes, for myself, but for her too.
I didn't sleep in as much as I'd thought about this morning. By 7:30 I was up and recalling that I'd not set my out-of-office message on my work email. I got up, answered a few emails and set the notification up. AM suggested that we have coffee and hang out for a little bit so we pulled on some clothes and headed over to Seven Virtues for bagels, hummus and coffee. We chatted while we each looked at email, message boards, etc., I set up a Twitter account.
Then back to the house and I drove out the Gresham and met Mom at the Cost Plus. We shopped around there a little, I picked up a white cord kit for the paper lamp in our meditation room and a rather keen hat. We first attempted to go to the Truffle Hunter, a place she liked a lot and said had a very good veggie sandwich.
Once the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and provolone cheese was taken off there was lettuce, tomato, sprouts and avocado. The place specializes in bread made on site, however, all types use buttermilk. They offered to come up with a salad (all of the ones on the menu included some type of meat). Mom and I finished our strawberry lemonades, I took my vitamin, and we went to a Chinese place she and her friends like to go to. They made sesame tofu for me special, I suspect that the bean threads & tofu were deep fried in the same oil as shrimp. It was good, a bit salty which may account for the indigestion I felt later.
I took Mom to the Dollar Tree so she could do some shopping there. We then went on to the new Goodwill. Mom found some Halloween things and a couple of shirts, I found several good things, including jeans that fit well. We then went on to the Salvation Army shop, which was on the way to take Mom home.
We were walking around the bric-a-brac and as I came around a corner I saw Mom standing there with a wooden paddle. She smacked her hand with it and laughed while saying to me, "Brings back memories doesn't it?"
I froze a little and slowly blinked my eyes. Mom seemed to sense she'd crossed some line and gave me a worried look, "Well maybe not good memories for you..."
I took a breath and quickly, quietly said to her, "No, not good memories at all and I hope you'll understand that I can't laugh with you."
I didn't say anything else I merely walked past her and started down the next aisle, not really looking at anything and feeling very still inside. I heard her say after me, "Sorry, S..."
That was it. I didn't mention it again and neither did she. I felt a little distant from her, which is a bit strange since I've already felt that way before. I wasn't motivated to say anything further about it. It felt as though I'd already said a tremendous amount.
We drove back to her house. Walking around the house I watched the two cows for a couple of minutes, feeling myself stiffen when she talked about sending them to market next year. They're practically like enormous dogs, following around to where the people are, I commented as much to Mom. Then we went out into the field to pick some corn and pull carrots. I washed up in the kitchen, pet her cats and then we walked out the car. I told her I loved her and I was glad we got to spend the day together.
Both of those are true. It felt like something changed in our relationship when I spoke to her in the store, refusing to laugh along. Who knows if that change will stay. She might obsess over it, but I suspect she will try to cram this down inside of her, distract herself, and refuse to really look at what it means.
I drove home carefully and gratefully. I felt tired. When I got home I showed AM my thrift store finds and we decided to make tempeh, lettuce, avocado and tomato sandwiches for dinner using a tomato from our garden. It involved going up to New Seasons for pretty much every ingredient except the tomato! It was nice to have AM drive after driving all day in Gresham and good to have the normalizing experience of getting groceries for dinner.
I still feel drained more than angry, more than sad even. There is still this stillness surrounding the whole thing. I don't feel any physical motivation to cry about it, not even when I told AM about it or writing about it here. I do feel a deep ache in my heart, across my collar bones, but I feel calm as well, able to observe the heavy load of emotions.
Well I'm 39 today. It seems absolutely surreal; the arbitrary nature of age. I mean clearly I'm different from 20 years ago, 10 years ago, one year ago. But it doesn't really feel much different. I'm still here, in Portland, in the present.
I woke up a little later and CK made me toast I ate while I checked in on a meeting. I opened another present from her, she had picked up Lavinia for me as a gift. She knew I didn't have it yet and had been looking at it when we were at Powell's last Saturday. I am really touched at the ways she pays attention -- large and small. I wore the necklace she also got me today, made of dyed tagua. I love the colors of it and the feel, it is made from a seed and it warms up against my skin.
She insisted I wear her jacket today, that I'd be too chilled in what I'd put on. I'm still figuring out what I need to wear, eat, do when including the bicycle rides in my day. When I was going down the hill to the bridge I was so grateful for it, and her. As I came up on to the bridge I could see a barge moving sand upriver and the morning sun gleamed on the water. I still may feel a little nervous, but I'm starting to enjoy the bridge a little.
I was glad I rode in. The changes this year, including riding my bicycle to work, have been pretty big. I wouldn't have guessed this time last year I'd be riding a bike to work. That I'd be chanting at the Dharma center. Wouldn't have thought I'd have the kind of relationship that CK & I have. That my relationship with AM would grow and change to support CK & I in our love.
I got some work done today. Had a lovely lunch at Habibi with TG, DG, KW, and AM. Great food as always and so nice to have friends around me. KW had found a necklace with a quote from Mary Jean Iron handwritten on it, "Let me be aware" (see below for whole quote). On a piece of parchment attached in resin to a piece of glass, very small. It is just lovely.
Picked up some treats from Sweet Pea after lunch and got some more work done at home. Then I dithered around for 10 minutes with clothing. I finally settled upon a Prana skirt and the shirt AM got me from Seven Virtues. AM helped me settle. The shirt shows a lot of skin with the very wide, v-neck, and I'm just not used to showing that much. I know I used to, 10 years ago I'd have thought nothing of being revealing, but I wasn't really being myself back then. I was writing to CK that maybe it is because I feel so exposed, being myself, that I am wary of criticism. Or at least the kind of criticism I grew up with and knew in my first marriage.
I'm trying to keep focused on the reality. When I have revealed myself, my life, to people they haven't criticized me. I still am trying to get my mind around this -- that my differences really can be celebrated and respected. Still trying to get a hold of the unintuitive concept that the stability I've created in my life has made it possible to really see the past for the trauma it was.
It has been a lovely birthday, all around. It has been wonderful to have this day to share with my friends and partners. In all that it felt the same, it felt special because it is a day we set aside to honor someone for who they are. That's what makes it different, not that you suddenly feel older.
"Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare & perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in my pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky & want, more than all of the world, your return."
-- Mary Jean Iron
I woke up cold, fatigued and hurting today. I thought about just going in, getting a ride from AM rather than riding in like I'd planned. Then I realized I really didn't think sitting in the cold office (although it has been cool the building A/C has been running full blast) would be helpful at all. Zonker snuggled up next to me while I stayed in bed a little longer.
Rode in today, just made myself get up after Phoebe jumped up on me at 6:12AM, moments before my alarm was to go off anyway. I allowed myself 15 minutes of laying there with the cat, not falling back to sleep, alert. Then up, into the shower, pulled myself & my stuff together and headed out.
It was a busy day of working with other people. I didn't get to really work done that was on my list, but I think I spent some quality time with teammates helping them. I'm wanting to get dug into what is really on the top of my list right now, but really have to remember that the time I spend coaching people really is valuable too. It is just difficult to split myself up this way and see the completion of my project get further and further away from me!
CK rode down and had lunch with me. We went over to Blossoming Lotus and I had the garden of eden salad that I didn't get on Saturday night. Also had a cup of the raw soup of the day, chilled avocado, dill and cucumber. The salad was exactly what I'd wanted on Saturday. It wasn't that the sea veggie salad was bad, it was really very tasty, I just had really wanted to the nuts, carrots, and beets in the garden of eden salad. The soup was lovely, light and tart with citrus in addition to the dill. The avocado in the soup made it deliciously creamy instead of wet & watery (which seems to happen with the cucumber at times). We noted that Blossoming Lotus has really become a favorite in the downtown choices when we eat out.
At some point, riding up the hill to, and over the Broadway Bridge I felt a real wave of fatigue hit me. My shoulders and upper back felt tight. I remembered BM noting that some of my arm and shoulder tightness might be related bicycling in addition to the huge floods of emotion this month. Beyond the usual irritation mind-noise at the effort of going up hill I felt just drained. The ride home rises uphill most of the way, but usually once I'm up to North Williams I get some momentum going. I just wanted to be home and when I finally reached Killingsworth I felt hugely relieved to coast home.
I had meant to quickly get changed and ride back down to Dishman to teach my class but I flopped back onto the bed for a few minutes. AM came upstairs and offered to give me a lift instead. It finally hit me that my salad and cup of soup had worn off, my blood sugar was sinking. We didn't have any fruit, most everything in the house was too much to have just before teaching. I settled for grabbing a bottle of juice at Dishman and eating right after getting home. Still adjusting to the different needs of my body when I add in bicycling.
After some more chili and cornbread for dinner I feel better although ready to go to bed soon. I'm going to ride in tomorrow so I can take my bike over to Bike Gallery for the one-month "wellness" check in and tune up.
Awoke groggy and tired again this morning. I should have made myself get up at 6:25 when I first opened my eyes and looked at the clock, but instead I dozed off again. When I finally got up a little past 7AM I stumbled around stiffly and got to working. I got through all my meetings grabbed a quick shower before going over to BM's for a massage.
It was so busy today, meetings where I actually was a participant. Hard to feel like I got any "work" done just all the talking. Yes, I know it is work and equally important, but I would have preferred to get other things done. Tomorrow is similar although I'll get to have lunch with CK in the middle which always seems to make the day go better, even the week.
I told BM about the emotional storm last weekend, how I could feel how tight and stiff my back was. Lots of really taut tendons and muscles in the shoulders and neck, energy moving out down my fingers. She thinks I may have slightly bruised my knuckle when I whacked it against the floor at Dishman which is why it hurts when I grab with that hand. She worked on that a bit as well, lengthening out and moving the tightness in the joint.
While AM made dinner I sat in the shala room, now pretty well organized (I need some kind of shelf unit). I phoned Mom and talked with her a little bit, thanking her for the box of birthday gifts. I was most thrilled with the flattened pennies she'd got on her trip this summer with her husband. This simple thing is something she can do and answer that need she feels to buy me things, they are very small, and I do enjoy them; there were over a dozen from her trip. She also sent a check so I could buy myself a magazine subscription (considering Tricycle, Shambhala Sun or Parabola). Also included was a bath soap (sodium laurel sulfate and artificial fragrance, but OK), and Halloween themed "advent" calendar, and some wreath thing I didn't quite figure out yet.
What's hard is if I tell her not to get me stuff her feelings are hurt. I then have all this stuff that I often don't know what to do with and feel a bit guilty for preferring to chuck. CK got a great introduction to this when she came with me to the Mother's Day lunch. Mom wanted to include me in all the gift giving so she'd got some little mirror/plaque thing with some greeting card-esque statement on it. Anyone who's been in my house would know looking at it that this is not something that fits at all, but she got it for me anyway because she wanted to be giving us all little gifts.
What is strange is that I do like gifts. I even specifically requested something AM could get me (a lovely shirt from Seven Virtues... bit more cleavage than I'm used to but I do think it looks good). I guess it is because sometimes Mom's gifts seems so steeped in her either feeling as though she has an obligation to get me something and/or her not always buying what really suits me. At best there is some kind of medium of the things I enjoy (squashed pennies and magazine subscriptions) and things I really don't use anymore (Halloween advent calendars, little mirror plaques, etc.). Gift giving events could also be so utterly fraught in tension and my Mom made a big deal out of my birthday, in fact I used to hold a big party every year for my birthday. Now I feel a bit uncertain what to do beyond enjoy things with my friends.
CK came over for dinner, AM made white bean & "chik'n" chili with cornbread, and we all sat in the breeze on the deck enjoying it. She noted all the red in the garden and went out to inspect. The sounds of amazement got me into my shoes, grabbing up a basket & scissors, and out to the garden with her. She held the basket while I picked at least 2 pounds of tomatoes (including a luscious, perfect brandywine), cucumbers, eggplant, and squash. We stood around the beds popping tomatoes into our mouths. CK bit into one of the chocolate cherry tomatoes, trying to halve it, and seeds and juice shot three feet through the air and landed on AM. It was glorious fun.
She hung out for a bit, we laid around in the shala looking at my pose flashcards. It gave her a laugh when I brought them out along with the CD. She had been saying how she'd like a way to learn the poses better and I'd finally organized enough to just hand something to her. There was a lovely sweet closeness to it, laying there with her in the comfortable space. We kissed a little, softly and it felt as though another sigh went up from my psyche. Not that there wasn't desire, but there was also comfort and a feeling of the deep connection, the teeth of the gears fitting together and moving forward instead of slipping and grinding.
I got my therapy appointment switched to Wednesday so I'm not ending Thursday on tears. Everything has been so at the surface and I do see the point of working on it, I just finally agreed I should rest a little for my birthday and take it easy on myself. I still think I'll work on Thursday. BM suggested that we plan around a 6PM start at Last Thursday. CK is suggesting I put in an order from something delicious from Sweet Pea, I'm thinking... maybe I'll phone Lisa tomorrow and ask what's new. The "Elvis" cake sounds intriguing although I'm equally tempted by the coconut cake, especially if it could be done with some chocolate ganache, seems like that would be lovely. Maybe with some berries on it.
I'm leaning towards taking Friday off. I can consider going to see Mom for a little bit, something I know she'd appreciate. Yeah, my birthday, but in a way I'm mindful of wanting to share the day with her and recognize how important it is to her as well. It is difficult practice having a relationship with my Mom. I mostly try to be compassionate towards her and honor her because she is the person who brought me into this existence. But there's so much history there that just hurts and the choices she makes I think are unwise much of the time, so it is hard practice.
She said she wants to read what I wrote for Ink on the Cat, I'm not sure if I should share it because it notes how I felt alienated and unsupported by my family. I know if I don't mention it again she'll likely forget about it.
Really, we've all needed a good weekend. A restful time of connection. That it included delicious intimate moments only made it seem even more a salve to the raw emotions exposed during the past few weeks. A sense of a sighing out by the whole psyche, releasing stale, bound up energy that had collected in the dark corners.
Fun to ride around the past day with CK. Just being able to enjoy hoping on the bicycle to over there, in to downtown for dinner, to yoga, to Laughing Planet on Mississippi, and back to the house. My legs feel it, the riding and yoga today on top of the hours in the car yesterday. I like to be able to have this option of just moving myself around the city and not be in the car. That it has become something I share with CK, her passion about bicycling is something of her that I enjoyed immediately, is really special.
After lunch and a ride back to her flat we slid into intimacy again, so delightful and easy. Both last night and this afternoon I felt myself shaking. More than just passion, or even pent-up desire, but relief, gratitude, love, and a sense of being held close emotionally. The container of our relationship expanding again, growing to enfold new experiences and needs recognized.
I rode back to the house in the rain (with no gear, I hadn't checked the weather forecast), but it was still warm outside and the drops weren't coming down fast. I'm making it to the house 5 minutes faster these days and I kind of enjoyed it. When I got to the house I put on some dry clothes and went down to the basement and hung out with AM.
It was great to find out that he and KW had a wonderful night together too, their one year anniversary of dating. Things have been pretty rough for the two of them, since March really. She has had a lot going on and it has really taken her energy away from really maintaining, much less building their relationship. They also were able to enjoy a really wonderful night of connection and intimacy. I have to admit it was nice to come home to really good news like this given how disconnected they've been.
AM and I've just hung out this evening. Having something of a vegan "junk food" dinner and watching episodes of Later... with Jools Holland. I've got more cleaned up and put away in the shala room. Yes, in part I've done this by moving everything into the living room, but it gets the majority of it closer to being out of the house.
Maybe it is the Zen practice, but there are times with things that I just feel overwhelmed. Papers seem really tough, maybe that's just because I've been finding some many old papers these past few weeks, and of those things that have stirred up painful memories. I find stuff I wrote, teenage poetry and the like, and I'm not sure what to do with it. Part of me really wants to keep it, but part of me just wants to be rid of it all. I think I'm going to get some shelves for the shala and my room, with baskets to hold these papers. At least if they're away maybe I'll feel better about having them around.
Last night, before going to bed I'd sent MT my article for Ink on the Cat. She hasn't written back, although I don't expect that people are always going to be into their email on weekends, and I find myself wishing she would! Somehow, for all the poetry I've shown people over the years I feel anxious about this bit of prose. It is very personal and the prose is more revealing, exact than the concise words of a poem. I'm also talking about how I've felt excluded, so it feels revealing to share it.
Then it was quick into the shower and on the road. Too many hours in the car today although AM and I did meet some very sweet, helpful people which made it worth it. AM & I headed out to Astoria today to meet some folks and in trying to see a bit of road I'd not before we ended up stuck behind the chaos of the Hood to Coast run! It took us over an hour to go 12 miles.
CK and I decided to go out to dinner downtown at Blossoming Lotus. It was so nice out, warm but not hot, perfect for riding. I even had to admit that the sun set glowing in the Willamette was beautiful as we road over the Broadway Bridge.
So tired tonight. It has been such a long couple of weeks and stuff is so close to the surface that I feel stretched thin by it. CK was supposed to come over tonight but is feeling absolutely exhausted herself so is at her flat watching a movie, we're chatting while I sit here trying to write while AM watches the History channel.
Had a pretty busy day working too, spent a great deal of time making adjustments to some requirements I'll be doing the development of. Began training someone how how to do account administration for a project they're taking over supporting from me. Then AM messaged me that he was still out in Wilsonville, it took longer to get there, and I should take the bus to my hair appointment.
When I checked the schedules and saw how long it would take I check the bicycle trip planner and decided to ride over to the salon on Hawthorne. It was further than I've rode before, but seemed doable especially since I'd be having my hair done for about 90 minutes or so. I was pleasantly surprised that it took me far less time than I thought it would and wasn't too difficult. It even took less time to get home than I thought it would.
Around 6:30 I felt awful, entirely depleted and felt my blood sugar crash. AM was also feeling awful, most likely a reaction to the tetanus shot he had yesterday. We ended up having dinner at Aladdin's Cafe, which is always tasty. Although I'm very disappointed that I'll have to follow up on the comments I saw on Yelp about the bread having dairy in it! Ugh, I hope that's not the case, how frustrating if it is since everything else is so tasty. Will have to ask the owner.
I try not to be a jerk about being vegan. I don't rant at people even when they ask me to talk about why I'm vegan. It just doesn't leave me feeling very happy when I consume animal products without realizing it, worse since I think I'm doing fine! It isn't like I'll get ill, although I might if I had cheese or milk, but my preference is to avoid animal products for many reasons so it can be frustrating to discover I'm being served something I wouldn't want to eat.
When we got home I talked with CK, it felt awkward and I could tell she was so tired. She wanted to stay home and, as much I was looking forward to seeing her tonight, I didn't entirely feel like going out of the house either. AM suggested that I consider going, that he was feeling a little better and if I could make sure the bed got remade (I'd taken off the sheets to wash) I should go. I sent CK a text message but didn't hear back from her.
My mind immediately rushed to bad places. Sure that she didn't want to see me anymore, that she wasn't just tired, she was really upset with me. I watched the thoughts race around, feeling them rubbing against my already chafed psyche. For a moment I felt myself freezing into silence and then I went and checked for her online, pushing back against the fear-cold. Her phone was still on "vibrate" and she hadn't seen my message.
We fell to chatting. I felt connected to her just by watching the letters she typed showing my on my screen. At nearly the same point we both noted this, how we were managing to feel that sense of connection without either of us having to leave our homes in the evening. We both felt better for it and understood how tired we both were.
Sometimes it is easier to write out my thoughts than talk through them, tonight is such an example of that. On the phone with her I felt so anxious and uncertain of anything other than my lack of skill in talking. Typing to her felt OK, better and I try not to call my self "silly" because of it.
Truly I am grateful to have so many methods to try to communicate and connect. Tonight I felt inadequate using my voice, I often feel that way. To have some other way to still get my thoughts out, a way I feel somewhat more adept with, seems like such a blessing. That CK understands this is equally relieving.