A disclaimer?

Something you discover when you start scooping sand into boxes as raw material for sand castles, aka readable pieces of writing, is that if you’re writing for yourself the content can get rough for others to wade through at times. Therapy is rarely pretty or pleasant, but instead of locking the door and writing alone in the dark I leave the choice to my readers who’ve signed on – stay or go, read or skip, understand or drop by the wayside – because it helps me to think I’m bouncing those thoughts and feelings off someone who might be persuaded to care.

I know it’s been increasingly dicey here on Playing for Time over the past couple of years as I’ve clawed my way through a mountain of shock and disbelief at the changes in the country I’ve always called home and tried to reconcile what I know with what I see happening out there. I’ve undoubtedly stepped on toes and caused offense, as haven’t we all, in trying to feel our way through a labyrinth we don’t recognize as familiar territory anymore. In a gene pool rife with bipolarism I’ve experienced for the first (or maybe worst) time the heavy hand of actual depression, not to the point of requiring extra meds, but a far streak past The Blues. 

That glow out there on the horizon this week – I want to think that’s end-of-the-tunnel-quality light, but I’ve finally earned my Cynic’s stripes so I’m not holding my breath. I do think democracy is going to win this one and that we’re eventually going to heal. I believe important things will have been won – and a few crucial ones will have been lost – by the time the smoke clears. We have risked much in being so willing to square off and choose sides – things we may miss as a semblance of normalcy returns – but we’ll survive this, I believe that now; whereas, there’ve been moments when I was none too sure.

If you’ve been here since early on, that’s cool and I thank you. If you’re a newbie, that’s cool too. If you take a quick romp back through the archives you’ll see that I’ve written about the most eclectic of subjects, so I could hit yours eventually. 

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Brother Bear…

How will I ever write this…how many tries will it take to get it right?

The holiday season always seems to bring the unexpected into our lives in some way. We went to an Open House in a friend’s newly-redecorated loft next to ours one evening last week, and I found myself in a free-range conversation with a woman who was helping to host. We eventually landed on the subject of pain and I was telling her about my gifted shaman friend, Ken, who had helped me so much through his knowledge of massage and the human lymph system. She asked me his last name and when I told her she said “Oh. He died. A couple of months ago, I think. He killed himself. Oh, I’m so sorry to be the bearer of bad news.”

We said our goodnights soon after and I’ve been trying to process the reality of her bombshell since. Cold shock gradually gave way to “Damn you, Ken, that’s so unfair. We were friends, you owed me one more conversation.” During my last session with him, which was less than three weeks before he died as it turns out, he told me he was getting ready to make some big changes in his life and pursue things that would be about his own peace and happiness for once. He sounded hopeful and resolved, and I affirmed him in his plans, telling him what a beautiful human being he was and that he deserved to be loved and appreciated and happy. He sat next to me on the massage table, his bare toes on the floor – he was 6’5″ – and went over *breathing lessons* with me again, the thing that ultimately keeps me healthy. He said “What if I’m not around sometime? You have to remember how to do this. You can never forget.” Did he know then? Was that the resolve? Or did he not yet have an escape hatch in mind in case things didn’t pan out… ?

How could he take himself away? His supremely gentle spirit. His soothing voice. His gifted touch. His knowledge, beautifully spooky in its intuitiveness. This isn’t my first rodeo with suicide and once again it’s like being yanked out of my skinsuit with no warning and left standing here raw and wondering what to do. I would have helped him in a heartbeat, and I can hardly bear the knowledge that I can’t bring him back to tell him that and a million other things. We hugged when I left that day, and I said I’d book another session soon. That was August…now it’s December…and what with various minor crises of our own I never did. 

Ken knew I was working on a novel and he asked if there was a bit part in it for a shaman called Bear. If I finally nurse it over its hurdles and finish it at some point…or if I don’t…he’s in there. And I have to believe that Brother Bear is still out there somewhere on his journey, encountering new hurdles to overcome. He was an inexpressibly exquisite creature in this life.

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The Pollyanna girl…

I like it when people care how other people feel.

I like it when they don’t save up things to hurt other people with, or to zing them for a personal win.

I like it when they care. It makes them easier to trust. 

There’s so much now to make us leery of people, and when we do put our real selves out there and get smacked in the face it’s always a shock. It is for me because I never learn – I’m that Pollyanna girl who thinks friends mean what they say and they wouldn’t be hurtful on purpose, so my reactions aren’t 100% honest because I’m never ready. I find myself trying to cover the awkwardness instead of asking “How long have you been saving that to catch me off-guard with? And does it make you as happy as you sound, knowing that other people are unhappy because of what you just told me? It feels kind of mean.” 

I’m a dreamer. I just want everybody to be happy and have a good life – is that so much to ask? I know that my squishy bleeding heart is a sitting duck for abuse but I can’t worry about that and I can’t stop caring in order to forestall pain, so I end up isolating myself more and more, which is no kind of answer either, except that it works for me. Silence is an old friend and I’m not at all afraid of my own thoughts. It’s the willingness of the world out there to inflict pain that bothers me. 

Tell me – based on personal experience, is friendship with skin on overrated?

 

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Winter in the wings…

And like that it’s December, dawning for us cold and rainy, gray all day. It’s so easy to slide through these days, doing nothing much … having nothing much to show for them. Being retired means being exempt from old rules like productivity and list-crossing-off, so we read and play music and watch Netflix in the middle of the day. Easy. And winter isn’t even officially here yet. We’re bound to slack off at some point when we go into true hibernation. 💤 Wishing you a cozy winter – I’m trying not to be a dropout.

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Happy Day…

Wishing all of my blogging community a lovely Thanksgiving with nothing but love, good food, and rest in your spirits. And maybe you’ll get to help someone else along the way…

 

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Just BE

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I don’t worry about being *right* all the time.

I just try to BE.

And that feels right.

Benjamin Dover@quaker4change

 

Benjamin Dover shared this on Twitter and I know you’ll respect that it all belongs to him, thanx. The truth of it resonated soundly with me and halted me in my tracks so fast I had to sort a few things back into their slots and shoeboxes after the sudden stop.

Here’s why: I’m pretty sure some people interpret things I write as proselytizing – selling it – when what I’m really doing is letting you watch the wheels turn while I figure things out for myself. I don’t need YOU to be right according to me, I just need you to let me work out what’s right for ME and then let me BE that. And I don’t want to have to justify it to you after I’ve spent the energy to find my right answer – I want you to do your own work. Don’t come at me without that, and really, just don’t come at me – I’m over here BEING, because I did the work – MINE – that got me to HERE, the place where I can BE. I’m not moving, so if the word WORK is a problem, you’re just gonna have to … DEAL … another way.

I love this – it’s one of the best, in the sense of helpful, enlightening, encouraging, hand-on-a-shoulder things I’ve encountered in a while, which is why I officially plan to stalk Benjamin Dover via Twitter. It’s entirely possible he knows other prime stuff that he puts right out in public, thinking people will possess the integrity to keep hands off…

{I did ask, he just hasn’t responded yet… }

 

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Studies in human nature…

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“I vant to be alone.” ~ Greta Garbo

Except, according to Ms. Garbo, “I never said, ‘I want to be alone.’ I only said, ‘I want to be let alone!’ There is all the difference.”

There is all the difference.

You can’t do much writing, unless you’re journaling about one of the dustier sciences, without becoming a student of human nature, an endlessly intriguing and confusing subject. Who could ever comprehend humans? And having somehow done so, how would we ever live with what we’d learned about each other?

Once in a while the undercurrent of low-grade depression that accompanies my existence gets to be a bit much and I’m forced to acknowledge its existence to the point of taking a break from whatever seems to be the main problem. This time, Facebook was clearly leaving me in a state, so a Fall Sabbatical was an easy decision, and I’d no sooner closed the door than my normal sunny personality started breaking through again. Full disclosure, I also activated my sleepy Twitter account around that same time and started finding *inner healing* through shooting my mouth off.  To each her own poison.

Yesterday iMessage, which I can get to on my desktop now only through Facebook (I need a teenager, STAT), contained an odd and off-putting message that still has me in a mood. It was a clip of a skit enacted by young black students, male & female, dressed in scrubs, shooting police officers with automatic weapons, along with a personal message that said in part: “I have felt that you lean towards only seeing one side. I know you have taken a recess from FB and I just wanted you to see this. Are the youth in our schools being given permission to have such disregard for authority? This will only lead to more serious problems.”

Why now? Why purposely back me into a corner when I’ve said I need the exact opposite of that for a while?  I can wish mightily that I had answers, but I don’t. I’m tired. My head is tired, my heart is tired, I just need to go in a different direction for a few weeks and let some of the nastiness of recent battles filter out a little. I’m angry. Angrier than I’ve ever been in my life that lizardy old men think it’s just fine that other men assault and take advantage of young girls like I once was, and they laugh about it and celebrate it and elevate each other to the highest offices in the land. So angry. For the first time in my life there are people I hate.

It would have been an excellent time to let me alone. I asked nicely, after all, like any good little American girl would do. And we see, over and over and over again, how that works out.

 

 

 

 

 

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The good…the bad…the good…

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First things first: An important bit of business – Kim got a new cast yesterday, his second, but Dr. Huston decided to wait another week to remove the stitches. I got to see them and they’re perfect – and his arm isn’t badly bruised or scary-looking so we’re all kinds of encouraged. While I iPadded in the Waiting Room, new X-rays were taken and a lighter-weight fiberglass cast put on, leaving his fingers a little more free but once again reaching to his armpit, this time placing his arm in the supinate position rather than pronate, and incorporating a swanky but awkward elbow-rest configuration. In a week the plan calls for stitches out and a smaller, even lighter cast. Today the plan calls for addressing the severe case of Cabin Fever that has set in and taken up residence. Looking for our Creative Caps…

And while the Big Guy is taking a walk, for starters, in the crisp fall air, allow me to quote George Takei: “It appears the Age of Unreason truly has begun.” He said that on Twitter this morning and if you’ve been keeping up with the news at all during the past week you know exactly what he meant. And if you haven’t, of course, the only thing to do is leave it there, with the qualifying comment that I can’t decide if I feel any better for the fact that it now has a name.

I’ve learned three things this week, three things I’ve instinctively understood all my life but never owned out in the open: 1) incomplete men fear women – our intelligence, our anger, and our truth-telling; 2) we’re expected to keep those things quiet and behind closed doors; and 3) we will never be forgiven by incomplete men, and the women who protect them, for being vocal and public with our intelligence, our anger, and our truth-telling. It’s been a tough week in America.

Guess who has a cracked-up wrist and will be seeing Tommy Emmanuel this Sunday night? My Kim, who deserves every break he can get. Sometimes I’m so funny…

But seriously, folks, when he was out walking he saw a handbill for TE, one of his all-time guitar heroes, who will be playing a block away in a tiny historic theater in our smallish historic city, and there were actually a few balcony tickets left. I’m so happy for him – it’s been a tough couple of weeks in Kim World.

 

 

 

 

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Breakthrough…

invisible 1

 

A day comes, if you’re lucky and it’s true, when you see that

You never really know what’s going on

Though others seem to have it by osmosis.

No worries…

Though the dawning knowledge that you don’t…quite…fit…ANYwhere

Is a gift of liberation not accompanied by explanatory text –

It rather defies description.

Quickly you see the grace you’ve been given for navigating

Tricky waters and tests of loyalty – 

  When you’re mostly invisible you get to slide.

That’s when the gift becomes the knowledge that you belong

Only to yourself

And you need to know only your Truths.

You can forget the rest, and *fitting* is vastly overrated.

Or so I hear.

 

JSmith 09/30/2018

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Life goes right on happening…

Constant or even Casual Reader probably knows that when I say *interesting week,* stuff happened. This past weekend has been interesting.

On Friday, Kim had his first Mid-Life Crisis Sports Injury, and since 9:30 that morning, routine, that deadly imposter, has gone out the window. Two neatniks have reverted to hippie habits, of necessity, and are getting used to relaxed standards. My singleton side of our King bed is easy enough, just pull up sheet and quilt as I bail out, but there’s a 3′-high pile of clean laundry on the chaise next to the bed, and various admission and dismissal detritus from the hospital strewn across the dresser. Kim’s living and sleeping in his recliner for now, so the table next to him is a conglomeration of what he needs throughout the day and night – but he has a system and don’t screw with it. His kitchen needs his Navy Squid attention, especially since we’d been planning a fall scrub-down, but oh well, I’ll knock some of the big chunks off in a day or two. When somebody you love is in pain, that’s where all your energy automatically gets funneled, as it should.

All day Friday, from 10am to 5pm, was spent going from ER to Ortho and back, X-ray to CT Scan, lightweight “sugar tong” cast, to temporary traction, to plaster “sugar tong.” Food, finally, at 6pm, and home. Saturday and Sunday are a blur of opioids and other meds, a grocery run to maintain a cushion for the drugs, some amazing sleep, and a sense of marking time.

Yesterday, Monday, we checked him in for surgery at 10:30am. He went to the back for pre-op at 11. Was told they were taking him to surgery at 12. Froze my fanny off in the waiting room, listening to my tummy growl, until 1:30pm when a nurse came out to tell me they were backed up in the surgical suites and had just then taken him in. I nearly cried, and would have had she not said “He’s been napping this whole time.” I just said very quietly, “I’m freezing,” whereupon the receptionist said “Oh honey, you have to say something!” I told her “I didn’t know I could!” She turned up the thermostat, the nurse brought me two blankets out of the warmer, and I settled in for the long haul. I’m terribly out of practice since my days of caregiving for six older family members – I didn’t think to take my iPad or any protein snacks, or even BAD snacks. My head had room only for Kim, getting this repaired, and taking him home.

When all was said and done and I’d gotten the Ortho surgeon’s report (he looks all of 19, of course), it was 6pm, eight hours since we’d left home. But the report was good and that’s all that matters. It was a bad break and Kimmers now has a plate in his body that wasn’t there before, but the bones went together well and Dr. Huston was able to deal with the bone gravel and other crunching in there that wouldn’t have been good longterm. All’s well that ends well, which is down the road a bit. He’s in a heavy-duty cast until time for the stitches to come out, then a less mondo one, and finally he’ll get a fiberglass number that will start increasing his independence noticeably.

For now, it’s a little like Momming again and I’m glad for grown-up cartoons like YouTube and television. The drugs make the patient a little sleepy, so movies are good. Also car porn, like Mecum Auction and Barrett Jackson. And the car rebuild shows – there are some of those we both like a lot. The Big Guy has seen me through at least four major medical events in the 14 years we’ve been married – I’ll do anything to keep him comfortable through this one. It’s how we roll.

 

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The rest of the story…

Fresh fall desktop wallpaper tumblr Free

 

Part Two of two…

You know what dries up tears? Knowing that you possess power of your own.

I’ve been using the hours I’m not spending on Facebook to finish lots of little organizational projects, which in turn frees my mind to deal with larger issues that are important to me, and the more my inanimate life gets lined up, the more my animated brain freewheels. I’m loving this, I need this, I have to have this.

Full disclosure, I’ve finally had to admit to myself that I live with a fairly steady level of genetically-transmitted low-grade depression, so I have to focus a little more intentionally than some on not making it worse. I’m a natural introvert, so in-your-face small talk in the form of tedium is toxic for me. That makes online social media a good fit – provided I can pick my battles and/or my passions; participate fully as myself; I’m able to speak my truths free from judgment; or I’m at least free to talk back to judgment if it comes at me.

A confession about social media: I’ve been a Twitter snob. I joined five years ago for the sake of this blog – more exposure, more contacts – but didn’t pursue it, mostly because I didn’t know how it worked and didn’t feel like taking the time to find out. Let me just say that I had all the wrong ideas about it, but slap my ass and call me a newborn, we can learn when we’re motivated, and Twitter turns out to be just the ticket for a mouthy girl like me. Once I figured out how to build a community of like-minded people I was off on a whole new adventure. One advantage over Facebook is that Twitter is virtually without commitment and lends itself well to hit or miss skimming, which is what Dr. Me ordered for Fall. (Truly beloved friends on FB, pls remember that this isn’t a divorce, merely a sabbatical. As far as I know. We’ll tawk.)

I do suggest you not follow me on Twitter if your opinion of me hinges on words like nice, careful, and reticent. Those are the qualities, along with the necessity of walking on eggshells and judiciously parsing all my words on FB, and sometimes even here, on MY OWN BLOG, that led to the ever-deepening state of depression I finally had to shake loose from. I’m not nasty on Twitter, but I’m pretty sure some of my FB followers, and some from other places, wouldn’t like me there because I speak truth as I see it, with nothing owed to anyone. And the good news is that I’m feeling more whole than in too long a time. I woman-‘splained how the whole thing works to my baby sister, and after taking a look at my timeline, her spot-on comment was “Twitter’s cool. It’s where the big kids go to play.” That’s it exactly. You can follow any ol’ body you might think of, and if you behave like an adult they probably won’t block you. You can sort of rub shoulders with the people you respect on television, and one of them might even like one of your comments sometime, but try not to be an idiot if it happens.

There are bots and trolls there, but you knew that. Most of them are neither clever nor creative. I hear there’s porn there, but apparently if you aren’t looking for it, you’re less likely to encounter it. There’s everything there because it’s genuinely global. What I’m finding are smart, funny, caring, off-the-wall, freedom-loving, democracy-protecting, feminist liberals like me. Because that’s who I’m looking for. The world is crackazoidal crazy right now, and swimming around in the deep end with the big kids is therapeutic, so don’t send out the posse. Let’s just all make the best of this beautiful “time of endings” we’re in. Fall, despite its heartbreaking melancholy, is my favorite season, and I’m feeling more hopeful for a time of new beginnings to follow.

 

 

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Sometimes problems have answers…

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Constant Reader will be relieved to learn that I may have solved my problem – the one where I cry nonstop. Oddest thing … turns out the answer in my case to the question “What do you read when you’re sad?” (see preceding post) … is “NOT FACEBOOK.” I haven’t sorted out why that is yet, but it’s a fact. Maybe it’s the abysmal state of our society right now and so many things are hanging out there unsaid, unaddressed, untalked-about, for fear of offending too many people, until finally there’s nothing left we can say. Maybe that’s it, maybe not. What I CAN say for sure is that I’m crying at the right places now instead of carrying tears in my throat like a pelican all day long and shedding them over stuff you wouldn’t believe.

A Facebook summer sabbatical was exactly what I needed, but since I slogged right on past every subtle AND clanging message to that effect, a fall sabbatical sounds even nicer. I started it a week ago – or more honestly the break started without me – and the sea-change in my mood was almost immediate. There are a few people I’ll have to peek in on once in a while, but I can’t be there right now and that’s okay. Bottled up thoughts and emotions aren’t healthy for humans, so this fall is all about restorative outlets, projects, and relationships. And wow, I feel better already, just for having written that.

Part One of two …

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What do you read when you’re sad?

 

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what do you read when you’re sad

what do you write when your skin doesn’t know how to

hold you to a place where your heart can’t find cover

who anchors you when you need to fly free because

the ground has thorns and rocks and all of it

reminds that belonging bears a price you won’t pay

what do you read when everything hurts

what do you write when the nice words won’t come 

the soft words have sharp edges and your pledges

to stop the tears all come to lies

tell me what you read when you’re sad

jsmith 9/12/2018

 

 

 

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Try a little happiness…

field of summer flowers

Hello blogging buddies. A thought hit me like a proverbial ton of bricks this morning – I used to be the also-proverbial ray of sunshine. A daisy. A Pollyanna, a fixer-upper, a this-is-not-so-bad girl, a “we just need to sit down and talk this out” person who was always about the positives and the possibilities. You too?

Have we disappeared for good, we thoroughly optimistic, cheerful souls who kept the world afloat through sheer determination and plucky grit? We haven’t, right? Not for good? We’re just biding our time until it’s safe to stick our heads out again, right? Because if we’re really over and done, that would be too sad, and I guarantee the world would miss us. They think they wouldn’t, because we’re annoying and always underfoot, but they definitely would, and it wouldn’t take long because life is no good without hope and optimism. People get irritable and touchy, including us feel-goods, and it’s not fit for man nor beast out there, which is right about where I find my happy lil’ ass this morning, so it’s past time for a major attitude adjustment. (I’m starting to sound like a broken record, I’m keenly aware of this.)

I’ve Twittered and Facebooked and coffee’d to the max so far, written a couple of “sorry for that thing I said when I was tired” notes (oh yes, until my dying day), made a mental list of “Miles to Go Before I Sleep” tasks, and thought about a nap at 9am but opted for a little more coffee instead. It’s Monday and the slate is clean so I might tread lightly through my life for a bit just for grins…

Go out there and be happy campers, my fellow believers in the good stuff – the world isn’t expecting you so it’ll be a nice surprise all around. x0x0x0x

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Just me, talking to you…

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The world sucks, doesn’t it. Life and everything about it. The news is dire. Social media is awful. Humans are horrible. Things happen on the daily that make us want to go back to bed and forget we belong to a race, any race, especially the human one.

Except. Except every day something beautiful happens. Every. Single. Day. If I extricated myself from the morass that is Facebook I’d miss the wonderful things my friend’s son with speech apraxia says and does every week now – funny things, amazing things, things that make me laugh and cry with both of them. I’d miss the twins another friend’s daughter had just the other day, one boy, one girl, so sweet and tiny on their mama’s chest, her eyes full of tears from the overwhelming emotion of it all.

It’s a little quiet over there these days on my feed – people don’t really know what to say while we wait for the other shoe to drop, and we’re hoping to still be friends after the world ends or doesn’t. There are people I’ve known forever and people I’ve never been near in person, and they all mean something to me so I’m staying cool, posting a few laughs, keeping things friendly, sharing something from my side of the fence once in a while but on the down-low so as not to disturb the balance too much while maintaining my right to be me.

Twitter is where I let my bad self out to run around, such as it is. I’m not raw, vulgar, or spitting in the face of authority, but if you’re looking for careful civility you should maybe stick with my blog and my Facebook feed. There’s a rumor that I also have an Instagram account, but I can never remember that or think to log in and take a look at what’s accumulating there in my name.

Summer is trying to switch us over to fall, that melancholy time of endings. I’m ready – fresh out of creative ideas for now, so let’s see what’s next. Change is necessary, boys and girls, so here we go.

I’m so glad we could have this little talk – you’re the best for listening… 💙

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