Sunday, November 4, 2012

Not Poor

This is a concept I am having a little trouble getting used to.

It's not that I was ever poor. I grew up in an upper-middle class household with a stay-at-home mother. My father worked in the defense industry in the 80s. There was plenty of money. But he never acted like it. Money was held tightly. My mother shopped the sales and used coupons, had a huge file of them, used double coupons whenever she could. As a child I was told I had to choose ballet lessons or flute; I couldn't have both. I quit ballet because my parents wouldn't pay for two lessons a week, which was essential to advance and go en pointe. When I made the dance/drill team in high school my father asked how I was going to pay for the uniforms. Eventually he relented and these were paid for, though I don't know at what cost.

But we weren't poor. We lived in a nice house (that suffered from having been decorated in the late 70s and was never really redecorated even when it was being sold in the mid-90s) and went on vacations a few times (really I feel like I can count them on my hand, and we drove a lot, even if it was a two-day drive, and only flew once to visit family on the other side of the country) and went to the zoo and Sea World and Disneyland. But there was always this sense that money had to be closely regulated.

And I get that; I get that you can't just spend spend spend and let the credit card bills rack up. I pay my credit card bill in full every month and I carefully consider major purchases. I don't like being in debt; the only debt I carry is my house and that only because a house is such a massive thing that you have to owe on it unless you have major reserves of cash.

The problem, though, the really problem has always been not the pounds but the pennies. Not the major purchases but the little things. The decision to get a regular cup of coffee instead of the hazelnut latte I really want. To shop the clearance rack before the main rack, and almost never shop at department stores (which I find overwhelming anyway). I didn't really haggle for my house or truck, but I'll worry about those little purchases and whether I can really afford to get the dinner I want when I'm out because it's a dollar or two more than something else.

There is very little of my life that I have been earning what I would consider an adequate amount for someone of my age and education. The first "real job" I had with benefits and a livable salary was teaching, and I was 27. I've lived a lot of my life without health benefits or a retirement plan or even sick days.

Now suddenly I have a salary and am making 30% more than I was making at the job that let me go. I look at my budget -- because I've actually kept a budget for the last year and a half, something have never ever done (which is not to say that I've kept to my budget, just that I have looked at what I was spending) -- and there is a decent amount of extra money. I'm not rich, oh no. But I can breathe. I can want something and purchase it. And all that is taking a little getting used to.

There is some kind of balance that has to take place between buying the things I need and needing the things I buy. I'm not sure where that balance is quite yet. Are Halloween decorations frivolous? Do I just spring for a new TV stand or seal and paint the old one (and why do I even have a TV that I don't really even watch)? On one hand there is not consuming things I don't really need, recognizing that old things can be made new and often are more interesting than new things out of the box (particularly in the furniture department). On the other there is, I'm not poor. It's okay for me to have this. And I still have to convince myself a bit, because there were so many things that, for some mysterious reason, it wasn't okay for me to have. I get a little bewildered sometimes when I know that I'm going to be able to afford things just fine.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

D all the Ys: Recovering a Lampshade

Like any sensible person, one of my first thoughts on hearing that I could actually have a job was "Crap! Now I have to finish all my projects." I have actually been really good about doing projects and spending time with friends and doing lots of yoga. (Not so good at applying for jobs, but as you can see, laziness and patience paid off.)

But there are nevertheless several projects that are hanging about in an intermediate state that I would like to complete.

Here's the first one.

Time required: 15 minutes to complete project, 2 hours to wander around fabric store and choose fabric
Materials required: lamp without a shade, new shade, spray adhesive, fabric, newspaper, scissors, blue tape
Project ease rating: 0 swears

I know, 0 swears seems like madness! But this really was super-easy. I tend to be a little obsessive about finding the tutorial that perfectly matches my situation. And then I was like, fuggedaboutit. Let's start with the offending shade - just a plain old white lampshade from the as-is area, because I guess someone decided they didn't really want their lamp to have a shade.

For the record, my lamp once did have a shade. It was really cute, too, but it was thin and papery and after 3 or 4 moves I finally punched a hole in it. So the lamp base sat in the basement for two years and then I got the floors done and was like OMG I need to have all new nifty things but wait I have a lamp sort of!

I looked at a bunch of tutorials online and found them kind of lacking. Obviously not so lacking that I wasn't able to make the project, but I was left with some questions and there were some that were just outright giving bad advice.

So, first make a pattern. This is accomplished by wrapping up your lampshade in newspaper or other pattern-making material. If all you have is small half-sized advertising flyers because who buys the newspaper these days? then you will need some tape to make them bigger. You're probably too lazy to find the transparent tape and don't own any masking tape, so you just kind of tack it together with the blue tape you've got on the workbench.

Trim your pattern using the edge of the lampshade as a guide. It does not have to be exact. Really. It really doesn't. Lay that puppy down on your fabric. You can use your washing machine for a cutting table if your workbench is dirty, which it is, because you hammer and paint stuff directly on there and when the guys came to finish the floors, some of the finish glopped through.

Now, here is the part that you have to pay attention. Notice all the blue tape? That is because you cannot be bothered to pin the pattern to the fabric like a normal person. The tape is right there, while the pins are all the way up on the second floor. It does not need to be exact, because you aren't going to cut on the lines anyway. Your fabric needs to be about an inch larger than your pattern on all sides, because you are going to make a seam and fold the edges over the edges of the lampshade. So cutting exactly on the lines is going to cause swearing when you go to put it on your lampshade unless you have some really cute ric-rac to glue over the edge. Which is an option. But maybe you don't have ric-rac. You may have chosen only to have awesome things such as grommet tape and snap tape and death bunny shoelaces. You can use those if you want, but maybe not if your lamp is going in your grown-up living room.

So yeah. Cut out the fabric, but make it an inch bigger on all sides. Use fabric-cutting scissors for this or you will start swearing.

Okay, now it's time to bust out the spray adhesive. Some of the tutorials recommend hot glue. Here is a comparison of the two:

Spray adhesive: Comes in a can. Probably has toxic propellants and probably should be used in a well-ventilated area. Sticks to everything. Makes your hands really sticky. Takes a while to dry. If you don't position stuff right you can unstick it and reposition it before it dries.

Hot glue: Comes in sticks. Can use it in any room with an outlet. Makes your hands all burny when you touch it. Glops and forms bumps. Dries really fast. If you don't position stuff right you can throw your project away and start over.

Right, so spray your spray adhesive on the fabric and the lampshade. Two sticky things with extra stick!!!

Position your fabric.

Try to roll the fabric on. The fabric will probably end up sticking to itself, but you can just unstick it because you used spray adhesive.

When you've got it on there, pull and tug to smooth out any wrinkles. Yet another selling point for the spray adhesive.

Fold over the seam and spray it some more so it stays down.


Then turn your shade so you are looking at the inside. There's your extra. Now, if you're picky and want to fold over the same amount all the way around (because you're going to be wearing your lampshade, I assume, since I don't know when else you'd be looking at the inside), you can trim the edge and make it even. I did.

MORE spray adhesive for the edge and inside of the lampshade. You want that mess to stick.

Fold the edge inside all the way around. Cut slits every few inches. This is a sewing trick that allows the fabric to go around curves. That way you won't have it folding on itself. It'll just overlap itself neatly.

Some of the tutorials recommended using binder clips to hold the edges secure while they dried. You may choose to skip this if the binder clips are up on the second floor with the pins or if you are likely to end up with binder clips glued to the lampshade.

And here you are: a finished lampshade!

Final step: Go wash the dishes. This will not only provide you with clean dishes, but also remove the spray adhesive from your hands.

Here's the feline-approved final product, in situ!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Yes and No

Now, I already stated in my last post that that post was really written a couple weeks ago. Translation: I've been sitting on my butt, doing very little, and not blogging about it.

I have not heard anyone say how much they enjoy searching for and applying for jobs. If I am wrong and this is something enjoyable, please let me know the procedure for enjoying it so that I may try that.

I did pick up some part-time editing work that doesn't really look to be that lucrative. They're all happy that I'm really good at it. In a way I even like it better than what I was doing, because it's all different stuff, and it's about stuff I don't know.

However. One of the things that I used to justify the lack of luster in my job search was the knowledge that the boss at my last job was overworked and fed up. Another thing was the knowledge that they would be starting a new production cycle and probably need to staff up again.

Today I got the "are you interested in this job?" call. Which is not an offer, but it is perhaps leading up to an offer. Most likely leading up to an offer.

There's not really any question as to whether I will take this job if it is indeed offered to me. I need a steady, reliable income. It's way more than I was making at the School That Shall Not Be Named. There are vacation days and sick days and health benefits.

It's so boring.

There's so much work to be done.

It's like a never-ending waterfall of work.

But it doesn't have to be the last stop. It's just a stop. It's just a means to an end -- a chance to save some money, to get things fixed around the house (gutters are the first thing that springs to mind), to regroup and make a plan and feel safe.

I can't let it take over my life. I can't do what she did and stay up all night and work weekends and stress out and not take holidays and vacation days.

Wow. I was feeling relieved and saying yes and all of a sudden. All of a sudden I feel the drudgery upon me.

Maybe Not an Office

Note: I wrote this post like, weeks ago. Something else is probably going to happen very soon. But, there's nothing ostensibly wrong with the post or the thoughts in it, and the only reason I didn't post it was because I wanted to put a picture of my cat at the end and then failed to do that. 

So part of my job searching for the past couple days has been in the category of "things I don't have to leave my house to do." Not because I am unable or unwilling to leave my house, but simply because I spent 8 1/2 months sitting in a chair in an office when I could have done the exact same work at home. Really, people in that office preferred to instant message people rather than look up and talk to them. Sometimes this was great because it allowed for private snarky conversations, but sometimes I just wanted to get out of my chair and walk over and talk to someone. Which I realize is so 20th century of me.

But really. Gas is nearly $4/gallon people. And office pants are expensive, and I keep needing to buy new ones because I keep changing sizes. And I don't even like office pants.

And people are outsourcing. At The School That Shall Not Be Named, we outsourced our essay-grading. Really. So I can grade essays. The trick is to find out how to get a job grading that stuff.

I've got nothing to do all day but poke around the Internet.

So here's the idea, going back to where I was last summer, collecting lots of little jobs. Editing, grading, and hopefully I'll be learning to write grants soon. And then if I am in charge of my own schedule, there won't be any reason I can't pick up a few yoga classes to teach, the ones that occur at inconvenient times like midday.

This does mean I have to be an independent contractor, which means no paid days off, no health insurance, no retirement plan. But it also means home office deduction, which really helped a lot last year in keeping my taxes down.

And then there is also working from the office with the lattes.

And the office with the lapwarmers, who really love office work.

Friday, September 14, 2012

How to Search for Jobs

  1. Create accounts on job search sites and have them e-mail you with outdated jobs that don't match your current job search because you've forgotten how to log in and change your job search preferences.

  2. Look at craigslist. Wonder how many of them are scams. Flag teaching "jobs" that are really people posting wanting others to hire them. Bookmark jobs to not apply to later.

  3. Pull out all weeds in front yard. Other acceptable activities include painting baseboards and putting fake fingernails on your cats.

  4. Work from the office with the lattes. Discover that there is no cake, and that the music selection is highly varied. Try to block the glare from the lamp with the laptop lid.

  5. Get distracted by an offer of a free shake for your birthday if you sign up for e-mail club thing. Proceed on exhaustive internet search for all free birthday food. 
I'm really looking forward to my birthday this year.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Interviews Suck

I had an interview Tuesday. All I can say is that the job doesn't sound too bad. It's little more than a glorified administrative assistant. If people ask me what I do for a living, I do not want to say "I am an administrative assistant" (or whatever the job title is, which is probably several bullshit words strung together). This is totally my problem of being an elitist with a snotty private school education and a bucket of degrees and "living up to my potential."

But the reason they suck, primarily, is that they are not accurate tools to determine whether someone can do a job.

Like, for example, interviewing to be a teacher. You can talk to me about curriculum and throw hypotheticals at me all day long and ask what the "parts" of a lesson are (and that varies, and even if I can't remember them off the top of my head, that doesn't mean I can't use them, because I have a lesson plan template I use to plan lessons because I work smarter not harder and memorization is an outdated skill). None of my answers matter if I get in front of the class without a clear and engaging lesson plan that addresses multiple learning styles and a commanding, enthusiastic presence that convinces the students to stop making spitballs and do what they're asked to do. Interviews for teaching are bullshit. Just do a teaching demo. I hate doing teaching demos, but they are the only way to see if someone can teach.

So sure, I answered a few questions (really not even that many) at this interview yesterday and have no idea if I did well or poorly because, like I said, not that many questions were really asked of me. Basically to talk about my background (and she interrupted me because it was on my resume, not that I assume my resume speaks for me, but it does include my background and the jobs I've done before because that is what a resume has on it) and find out if I would rather just edit documents all day because that was what I did in my last job (and no, I would not; that was really draining. This was the correct answer). And the obligatory "do you have any questions?" which I did have some prepared, because I never have any questions, so I asked about the corporate culture and made sure that my assessment of the position and the company were on.

Does any of this indicate that I can do the job? Hell to the no.

Another unemployed person I know was rejected from a job and told that she gave a good interview. How does that help her land a job? It doesn't explain why they didn't hire her. I guess the job just wanted to be friends.

The reason I got the last position was because T didn't interview me. She tested me. She told me straight up what the job was, asked me questions about grammar, and gave me two documents to edit and send back to her. Her goal was not to talk to me about the job but to see if I could do the job. And that's what I excel at -- actually doing the job.

I wish interviews were more like exams. Screw it. Just bring me in for an hour and see if I can do what you need me to do. That would be way more worth my time.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Fear of Finishing

Things I procrastinate:
  • Planning sequences to teach for yoga
  • Tutoring prep
  • Getting reading done for yoga
  • Buying things (in the form of I see things I like and then "think about them")
I also procrastinate finishing things. Like right now, as part of my time off/unemployment thing, I am doing repairs. Tiny little repairs on baseboards, touching up paint.

I will spackle something, sand it down, apply another layer, sand it down ... I will do this for days. I will try to make it perfectly smooth even though the house is full of old bedsheets as dropcloths, rags, gloves, dust.

It is my house and my project and I can take as long as I want.

But what happens when I finish?

And that is the saga of my bedroom. I pulled out the carpet nearly two years ago. And it sat there. I painted but I didn't get molding put up or the floor refinished.

And now the floor is finished and what is keeping me from moving in?

Oh, I need to touch up the baseboards.

So why am I touching up the baseboards in the hall and downstairs?

How am I going to get the closet door back on?

Do I even want doors for the big closet? What else could I put there?

Can I put up molding myself or do I need help (almost surely I do, even if it is just someone to hold things while I nail them)?

What happens when I am finished?

How many days has this blog entry been sitting in limbo?

Why don't I want to get there?

Friday, September 7, 2012

That Fast

Only really took one day.

Since Monday was a holiday, my official first day of unemployment was Tuesday. Tuesday went like this:
  1. Yoga practice. Challenge self.
  2. Breakfast and shower.
  3. Try to apply for a job.
  4. Stupid job website makes you create an account, asks for SSN, doesn't actually create account.
  5. Cry.
  6. Start painting baseboards and listening to Florence + the Machine.
  7. Feel better enough to try to call and reset a password for another job.
  8. Get told that they can reset my password but they can't tell me what the password is.
  9. Get in argument with person's supervisor but not ever actually receive an answer as to why they have this policy. Hang up phone.
  10. Cry.
  11. Screw crying. Paint and patch walls more.
  12. Go dancing.
Um, yeah. And then for the next two days I pretty much proceeded to ignore the need to look for a job other than going out to this weird temp agency to update my records so I can interview for a job that is farther away, pays less, is more boring, and might even make me wear office clothes.

This should make me want to look for and apply for less crappy jobs, but it really just makes me want to spray paint stuff, patch every crack in the house, and pull weeds out of the yard.

So now it's Friday, the end of the week, and I'd set aside a huge chunk of time to hang out with friends, which I still intend to do, and yet I haven't applied for a single job despite all the time I had slotted on my calendar for doing so.

Maybe I just needed a vacation.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Yoga of West Coast Swing

We talk in yoga teacher training a lot about what we learn on the mat and taking it off the mat. But because yoga is a way of life, I learn a lot on the dance floor too, and try to take at least some of it with me.

I learn confidence. I learn poise.

I learn dealing with difficulty (like those partners who cannot find the shoulder blade to save their lives) and I learn when it is imperative to use my voice (like the lead who rammed me into someone on practically every pass and was laughing it off and I finally had to say, you need to watch out, that's your job as a lead.)

I learn how to walk up to people and ask for what I want, which is a dance.

I even learned how to outright steal a partner.

I learn to compliment others -- and how to complement them, too, how to play off what they give me.

I learn to be strong and sexy and attract notice and allow myself to be noticed.

I learn how to keep myself safe and still take risks.

I learn that you dance, whether you feel crappy or happy, and the endorphins do their work.

I learn to let myself out of the prison of rules and restrictions about how I must act and what I must let others know about myself.

And I learn that "we're good" really does mean that we're good, and that you don't give up a great dance partner just because romance didn't happen.

Sunday, September 2, 2012


I let him go.

It was a relief for me, but I'm wondering if it wasn't also a relief for him.
No one likes giving bad news. But it is so much better to give it than to wait and hope the other person does it first.

From my list of probable fallacies:
Once something is started, it can't be stopped without bitterness apparent for all to see.
It was a fallacy; at least, it appears that way at the moment. What I wanted to do was have it be simple. Have there be no explanation, because explanations often sound like excuses. I have no intention of leaving the dance community, and I wouldn't want him to either. But I also didn't want to encourage false hope. I do feel like a number of people have given me false hope and incomplete breaks, and I've found that horrible.

The answer in the end was simple: take my time. Give it a chance. Find the light in him and see if it encouraged my own. And then simply tell the truth. He said okay, perhaps a little too enthusiastically, gave me a hug, and said we were good. I can't help but think he was getting frustrated at my busy schedule and lack of initiative. As he should have been.

I can't even begin to list (because I don't want to put myself through enumerating them all) all the guys who have given me headaches over the years with their lengthy and detailed explanations as to why they couldn't date me. Somewhere there has to be a middle ground between no explanation and something that leaves the hearer searching for chinks in a very logically presented and well-thought-out presentation of a rejection. Therapist J asked me why I even listened when the last major crush went on his whole explainy thing.

I think last major crush thought he was doing the right thing by explaining himself and by talking it over (and over and over and over). At the time I thought he was doing the right thing too. We were really fricken proud of ourselves about it. It was only after I really thought about how much unnecessary information I'd listened to and how little time he spent getting to know me in the first place, that I started to feel dumped upon.

I don't want to cause people the same headache. And while I think when a relationship ends there should be some coming to an understanding and some discussion, I also think that laying all your issues on someone as a reason is not the way to go -- for their sake. And when you're not even in a relationship, when you're choosing not to get started with a relationship, the less headache for the other person, the better.

So I don't want to be too self-congratulatory, because I really don't know if his response was relief or a defense mechanism. I choose to believe that since he said we're good, we're good. In the end the simplest explanation -- I don't feel that way -- was all there needed to be.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

I don't want to call this boy

This boy is a tutoring student, by the way.

I've worked for Large Tutoring and Test Preparation Conglomerate since 2001, except not really, because I've taken long breaks, like the 5-year break when I was in NYC and was a Real Teacher and a couple years of break while I was a Somewhat Less Real Teacher at Kind of Fake University and The School That Shall Not Be Named. But, you know, I lost the job at TSTSNBN and I was like, well, LTTPC will probably give me some work at least and I can be doing something and feeling useful.

Claude Noury 1506 The Torment of the Cauldron
By Claude Noury [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

What I didn't anticipate was that I would actually hate tutoring. I had never hated it before. But I came to loathe it. Dread it. Actively procrastinate preparing the lessons, feel squirmy while I was tutoring, resent tutoring even though it made me money. In June when I finished with my student I was so so so glad. I was busy enough and making enough money that I did not have to take on another student.

But now I'm not working. And I don't want to actually be off the LTTPC roster as a tutor because I have gone through their training 3 times now, and I do not want to have to go through that again.

Stocks (PSF)
By Pearson Scott Foresman [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This kid only wants 6 sessions and needs to be done by the beginning of October, so it is not that bad, and he doesn't live that far away, but ugh ugh ugh I don't want to do it, but I said I'd do it and I need to do it, and this is not the worst thing that has ever happened to a human being.


This week's dance lesson was on adding a little hoppy crossy thing to inside turns. Surprisingly difficult for a lot of people, and putting it into practice means figuring out what constitutes an opportunity.

For this move, for a follow, it's an inside turn.

For life, it's anything.

The job that just ended was weighing on me. At times there seemed to be the possibility that it might go permanent, but that was only mentioned once.

This is a tremendous relief.

When I got the job, it was just what I needed: minimal human interaction, sitting at a computer, occupying and exhausting my brain. Endless mounds of work, unimaginable cascades of documents to be read and refined, good pay, security, the ability to not be home using my utilities, so I could save money.

Cubicle land
By Larsinio at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

But it was also extremely boring.

Not that I didn't have work to do. I had tons of work to do. All of it was boring.

Still. In the last month of working there, I went from friendly to friends with some people. I'm trying to keep in touch, even if all that means is using social networking sites -- since I am terrible at actual networking.

The biggest opportunity I get from the job being over is the gift of time. I've never been busier. Being in an office 40 hours a week, driving to and from said office, participating in teacher training, dancing, spending time with friends, teaching yoga, trying to maintain a house and yard, trying to blog and look for a permanent job. Some of these have suffered (witness this blog entry was begun at work and no one seemed to notice or care).

Now I have some time. I have a list, a very sloppy list that I'm going to try to tidy up and physically display in the house, so that I know what I'm doing with myself.

  • look for jobs that I actually want to do
  • spend time with friends
  • go to career counselor people office thing at local university from which I have a big fancy degree (really, I have never seen diplomas with larger physical measurements)
  • touch up baseboards, paint/finish furniture
  • make lots of cool stuff
  • dig up weeds, cut back ivy, mulch mulch mulch
  • blog more and promote this blog (and the other blog)
  • take daytime yoga classes
  • resume a daily yoga practice
  • get caught up on my teacher training reading, observing, and assisting
  • go to advanced WCS classes (which are the same night, just earlier, and I always had trouble getting there on time)
  • buy a new suit since I lost a bajillion pounds and had to give away the old one
  • consider getting some kind of a certificate in something boring but reliable
  • see if I can get myself back to Kripalu and visit my adorable as yet unmet babyfriends Jonah and Xander
  • get stuff fixed, like my teeth and car door lock
  • a thousand other things

Friday, August 31, 2012


Today was the last day of the job. It was always temporary, and was extended two months later than originally planned, for a total of eight and a half months of not having to worry too much about money.

 One of the hundreds of mock traffic signs in Amarillo, Texas funded by millionaire Stanley Marsh

I can't say I'm not looking forward to a break. That it has to be an unpaid break sucks the big one, but there are possibilities out there that need to be explored.

I applied for a teaching job Monday. There are a couple more teaching jobs to try for. I am debating applying for a job I walked away from last year.

I found out there has been a moratorium placed on expiring teaching certificates. I wonder why, but if I am reading it right I have two more years. It was due to expire in December.

Beach chairs Curacao
This is what I wish my break looked like. 

One of the ladies at work sent my resume to a friend of hers who is looking for people for projects. However I haven't heard from this person and don't have his contact info, so we will see.

As soon as October, there may be work at the job I which have just finished.

So there are lots of possibilities, no certainty, and my goal is to be busy, do fun things, and explore ideas for as long as I can.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Stories we tell

I've got allergies.

Sneeze in white hankie 
By mcfarlandmo [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Big, dry-eyed, sneezin, snot-drippin allergies.

I have never had allergies, I say to myself. I always check no on the allergic-to-anything box. For the past couple years, allergy season has rolled around and I've sneezed and people have said it's allergies and I've said oh, no, I don't have allergies.

And then Thursday before class I sat down to center myself and the first thought in my head was "So fine, so I have allergies, then."

And I had my thought to impart for the day. I've been sneaking them in, now that I'm more comfortable with the actual teaching of the poses, I've been adding a little "yoga-talk" or thought to the beginning of the practice. It's just another one of those things I knew I would do when the time was right, so I didn't set a particular date or goal of doing it. I didn't even have a thought planned for yesterday, but when I came to my mat and got quiet it came to me.

We define ourselves as someone, saying "I am someone who..." or "I am someone who does not..." and in defining ourselves, we create ourselves. When I say that I am single, I reinforce that idea. Certainly it does not help when the @#)%#@)%( optometrist asks me to check a box for single or married (still the only two options, and I don't check either because they are checking my eyes). The idea gets reinforced every time there is a box to tick, even if it's an idea we don't particularly care for. Not only our definitions of ourselves as requested by the boxes on a form, but the very idea that this matters.

So I don't check the box. And somehow that seems like a marked option too, like if I were more at ease with what is -- the fact that I am single -- then it wouldn't be an issue with me, to check it or not check it.

But I persist in wondering why it matters.

Monday, August 27, 2012


So, so, so much of my identity is bound up in being single. Being on my own. Being independent. Different ways of saying being alone.

Therapist and I are exploring this idea of being alone-independent-single.  It's weird. Therapy is weird. Someone listens to what I'm saying, don't realize I'm saying, or what I'm not saying, and tells me what I'm saying or not-saying. And then I'm like, whoa, because he just said in one sentence that thing that I am taking my whole life to say. And it sounds so simple and obvious and so frightening I cannot accept that it's true.

When the boundaries between me and my willingness to believe the truth are thick, I continue past the saying and not-saying and add on not-hearing.

I love working in my yard pulling weeds. However, I have a really hard time staying present for pulling weeds. I tend to have imaginary conversations, which would better be described as me-talking/someone-listening-and-being-very-interested-and-asking-me-many-questions. Whoever it is, is usually someone that I kind of like in a squishy-innards way, and is quite often someone who has already turned away. When it's someone who is still a contender, it begs the question, why am I not having this conversation for real.

Because conversations don't go like that.

In conversations I have to listen to the other person tell me about their day no matter how much I am just not interested in their job and the thing they had to get that didn't work even though it was a brand-new thing.

In conversations I have awkward moments when I'm going to say something and they're going to say something and I'm nice so I don't want to talk over anyone so we both stop and that's how I find out if someone's not nice, because they just keep talking. But then we have to figure out who gets to talk first.

In conversations I don't keep habitually finishing others' sentences like I do in real life because I can be a bit impatient.

I was having a conversation-in-my-head. It was with someone I could have with the snap of my fingers. Who I don't want and am not attracted to.

Except every day I let the idea in a little, mull it over, play with it a little.

But then I think about the time when it will be over.

I remember the last time someone came this close. I held out my hand, he grabbed on, and then he tumbled faster than I did, right into all kinds of future plans that I wasn't ready for and I got scared and I knew -- I knew -- that I would calm down if I broke it off.

The panic evaporated and I could relax again.

I script and practice how I'm going to let him down, how I'm not going to feed him 20 minutes of bullshit detailing all I've gone through in the last year and how that contributes to Not Ready and Need To Be On My Own.

Last time, the time when it will all be over was the time after it began. It hasn't even begun and I'm thinking about being on the other side.

And yet I don't go there. I don't say the dreaded words, "we need to talk." I sit down next to him to take my shoes off, let him hold my hand as we walk out the door at the end of the evening.

Do you see how far I'm talking around what I'm supposed to be talking about? Which is this identity issue.

Some examples.
  1. I bought a house.
  2. I ripped up carpet on a Wednesday after work.
  3. I ripped up carpet at 9:00 on a Friday.
  4. I painted rooms and their ceilings in a color palate that would make many a man -- and I expect, this particular man -- shake his head in disbelief.
  5. I drove here, and there, and back again.
  6. I moved to the Grand Canyon because a guy broke my heart. (Did I fail to tell this story? Maybe later. Maybe never.)
  7. I always liked the guy my friend liked, especially if he liked her back.
  8. I had to start school a year early, but Brownies a year late.
  9. My legs were too short to reach the hollow below the swing. I was the only one who needed a push.
And now some of the most meaningful conversations that give me what I think I want, I have alone, even though they are with someone who exists.

But he does listen when I talk. He isn't just waiting to talk, himself.

So I'd have that. If I would let myself.

I can never get all the weeds. After two hours I'm tired. And the hedges still need to be trimmed, and all the other weeds, in all the other places, pulled, and the mulch spread, and the ivy cut back, and the basement vacuumed, and the kitchen floor scrubbed clean, and the living room painted and the gutters cleaned and repaired and the upstairs walls explained and repaired and painted and the vinyl removed or remedied and the furniture moved and the boxes unpacked... And I wonder what I was getting into.


I imagine that I could turn around tomorrow, dial a number, and have all of it -- everything I've ever wanted. Have motorcycle rides, ice cream after dance, sweet thoughtful texts that show he was listening, help with this never-ending project of house, and the last dance every Tuesday night.

What I will need to give in return is too daunting. Too precious.

S is right. I need to do backbends.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

All Along

The funny thing is, the person who first said this to me -- that you have it in you, this peace, and you can access it at any time -- was, at the time, an adherent to a religion I consider decidedly kooky and fearful of outsiders.

I had just come back from Kripalu and I was so at peace. I was full of love for absolutely everyone and I couldn't really even talk about my experience without sounding a little bonkers.

By Sonoma-rich at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons 

Vacation-happiness tends to fall away after a week or so. The return to real life, the stresses of the job I was trying to do at the time, it all just took over and I spiraled downward.

And that's what he said, when I came back. That now that I had found that peace, I could access it any time.

I still want to go back, of course, because it's beautiful there, and who doesn't want to go on vacation -- especially when the place I'd be going to on vacation is myself.

Taken from the High Line, NYC, 10-02-2009

I heard it again when I started teacher training: that we all have this place inside of us. That we don't need anything special, no one to find it for us. We don't need to ask anyone or look anywhere outside of ourselves. We just need to be still and let it be there.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Walls don't keep you out

They keep me in.

Wall 1
By Roger Bunyan (Own work) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC-BY-2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

And this is a thing I've been trying to figure out for many years, how it can be, that even when I feel myself connecting to people, they quietly slip away.

Even my very first boyfriend seemed to think I'd built up a wall around me, and I was only fifteen. Was it some romantic notion he'd got from a book or movie, and he was going to be the one to take down the wall?

The funny thing is that he was right. People have noticed it over and over again through the years.

The walls were put there to serve a purpose.

We don't leave our precious jewels, our treasures, or the ones we love out in the middle of a field in the rain. We wall them in. We protect them.

The problem with my walls, I began to see, was that they don't protect me at all. People get in. I see them, care for them, begin to love them. I look for the light and I see it and it amazes me.

Source: Uploaded by user via Katherine on Pinterest

But they're less like walls and more like tinted glass; more like a porous selectively permeable membrane that allows people to seep into my heart while preventing them from seeing what has happened. Prevents me from coming out.

And I see it all the time. When I choose not to do the things that would make me shine.

I spent all of middle and high school liking guys and never saying a word about it. The one time I did, he wasn't interested and that didn't stop my feelings, not at all, not even as I hid behind myself and liked other boys and said nothing, because I'd been rejected by one. I spent a good ten years choosing not to try social dancing unless I could convince the occasional date to go with me. I spent about as much time only looking for dates online, because meeting people in real life and talking to them and letting them know I was interested was somehow too embarrassing. Too ripe with the possibility of rejection.

So each day I try to be out there, a little more. Try to ask for what I need. It's not easy. So many people have so much more practice at it than I do. But like all things, we don't choose not to do it simply because it's hard. We stay with difficulty, whether it's a handstand, a dance step, or opening to the universe.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Where the money is

I am less than two weeks away from the end of this contract and have done very little about it. In a way I really don't believe it is going to end; the content we are reviewing now is in rough shape and there is a lot of it. I could see at least another month. There was a faint hint at a permanent position for me. And I really don't even know what else they have coming down the pike.

I have a couple directions I could go with this. I could talk about the changes in education that I don't agree with, and how hard it is to work in a field where I feel like my colleagues and I have no voice in the conversation about what good education does. I could talk about how I need a break. I could talk about wanting to explore some future directions and being at a job 40 hours a week is holding me back because it takes up time and takes away the sense of urgency.

Or I could talk about the deep depression I felt last summer and my inability to do much of anything, the futility of sending out resumes, and the day I realized I had been something like asleep all summer and the garden had weeded over in my absence.

I hope for security, but I need to work for it more than I hope.

Henry Rollins says hope is the last thing a person does before they are defeated. I guess I've held that to be true for a long time. But maybe there's another way of seeing it. Maybe it's the only thing to do when you've done all you can. But I haven't done all I can, not yet.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Fabric decision time!

or, Indy-cision Time.

Now that I have floors, I need to do a few things. After a semi-epic home improvement store trip, I decided that choosing such a thing as a just-inside-the-front-door rug is beyond me and I'm going to do Jess's floor mat thing. I need a kitchen one too, but since I still haven't committed to redoing the kitchen, I may or may not need to make a decision. Actually I probably do because that floor is teh ugh.

Source: via Katherine on Pinterest,
Honestly I never get tired of this picture.

But to do that I need fabric.

Enter Spoonflower, where you can make your own fabric. Or order fabric that someone else designed. (Yes, they have TARDIS fabric. Lots and lots of TARDIS fabric. Also gothy spooky fabric.) That second one would be better for me because no need tomake my own, but also worse because Must Look At All the Fabrics. Okay, not all, but all the damasks. Or all the purples. Or all the turquoises. Or all those. And some owls. Steampunk wot wot?

Let's just start with the entryway.

Walls are light blue.

I changed the entryway collage from the original one it took me a month to do, to one with purples and blues, you know, like the rest of the downstairs. I don't know whatever possessed me to buy red picture frames. Those are getting painted.

Here are the entryway contenders.

1 - Simple, fits my colors, and bright. A little light for something I'm going to step on.
2 - Doesn't fit my colors at all, but I'm a sucker for mixing patterns and words that look like they're from old books. And some of the designers say they will do custom stuff, which I take to mean "slap new colors on the design they already made."
3 - Bold, reminds me of Jess's print above, but otherwise probably not fitting in that great with the look I've got going, whatever that is.
4 - Fits colors perfectly. Bonus: not a lot of white, so it won't show the dirt. But both colors are about the same intensity/saturation. There's a bit of a dullness to it.
5 - Clear and simple. It is going on the floor, after all.
6 - Alluring, interesting, and that pop of red. But it does have brown. Brown is like "we didn't know what color to make your rug, so we made it brown."

7 - Great pop of color, though still with the brown.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Things I think I get now

I think I get it when women try to dress their boyfriends. They're thinking,
If he'd just wear something other than t-shirts and jeans, or lose 10 lbs, or do something different with his hair, I think I could like him. I want to like him. But first I have to make him presentable.
Supposedly none of that shit matters when you really like someone.

I don't know if that's bullshit or not.

The little things eat at me and become the big things. I dated a guy whose cell phone ring I hated. I broke up with him at least seven times. Not because of the cell phone ring. But the cell phone ring was really really annoying.

I think I get it, why I keep going for the guys who are not interested and/or too busy for me. I'm thinking,
If I can get him to slow down and pay attention to me, I must really be something. I must really be that amazing that I can get someone like that to totally change for me.

If I can get him to totally change his life. Totally change his look, his behavior, if I am worth all that, I must be worth something.

I get, too, that this is all flawed thinking, Yes, the right guy will have loads of time for me, will want to be around me frequently, will do not whatever I want, but many things that add to the good and make efforts minimize the bad or annoying. I think it will feel less like "he totally changed for me" but "he was right there, right from the beginning." I've never really looked at someone and thought "he would be 'the one' IF." I don't really like that way of thinking. I don't want to feel like I need to change anyone's appearance or habits. I don't think I could manufacture attraction for someone by changing these things. I think it's either there or it isn't, and efforts to rationalize why it isn't there, or remove the reasons it isn't there through external changes, aren't going to make it there and are just going to lead to frustration.

But when I get to know some people, I do see the IFs. Even as I feel it's not up to me to change those IFs.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Befloor and After

I can't believe I didn't post a picture of the finished floor product. Chalk it up to setting automatic posting (if I don't do that I will tweek posts endlessly) and not being able to find the cable to connect the good camera to the computer. I took some pictures in the daylight with the iThing, so you can really see the difference.

You remember this disaster, right?

This is what I came home to after our yoga workshop weekend. I was a little bit like, whoa, three days and they've only gotten this far on the stairs. The rest of the floors were done. The stairs still had a long way to go. You can see that the risers are exposed but the treads still need work. The risers don't even look that great here; there were lots of dings.

The next day, the stairs were pristine. They still had to fill in a lot of the gaps with wood filler, but their piney beauty was now apparent.

And here they are, finished and gorgeous.

Dear readers, here are some things to know:

Sometimes, you really should not D it your Y. I am a huge DIY girl, to the point of stupidity sometimes. Like right now I should be coordinating some people to help me unpack and move furniture (really, we could have a big ol house-based dance and then people could move stuff up and it would be done), but I know I won't. Partly because it's asking people for help and partly because I want to Stain All The Things before I move them back in. But floors as damaged as these were? Totally need the professionals.

The other thing is a little more esoteric: People come into your life for odd reasons, and they are never the reason you think. Recall that I found my realtor through a broken boy who broke my heart. I found West Coast Swing -- and my floor guys, and community, and a new guy-possibility -- through someone who turned out not to be the right guy for me at all. Letting people be who they are and play the roles they end up playing, rather than the roles I want them to play, is a continuous challenge.

But it brings good things, if I let it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


It's been a process.

Originally I was going to rip up the carpets myself. There is a strange part of me that enjoys ripping up carpets. I think it's because I like to feel like Xena. What is stronger than a woman ripping carpets off her floor?

Ha, trick question. What is stronger is a woman who realizes there is no point in doing that herself on a hot weekend, and exhausting herself, when she could weed the garden and go for a motorcycle ride and do yoga.

Took them less than an hour to rip up the carpet, roll it, tape it, put it in the back of the truck. Of course after that was taking up the tack strips and the nails, which is the real torture of it all.

But I was gone! Kitties in the basement, Auntie C coming to visit kitties, and me off to retreat.

I was amazed when I came home. They were not finished by any means, but holy wooden miracles, my floors are made of a beautiful light-colored oak. And they were so, so smooth.

Except the stairs. They're pine.

I would have loved to keep them light, but there's a lot of damage -- a patch job with a subtly different kind of wood, the stairs of pine. One section had to be replaced due to Rufus-damage. So I went with my original choice.

The up side: Beautiful new floors. A house that feels a bit more like a grown-up owns it and lives there rather than renting it to some sucker. A house that feels more like me.

The down side: My kitchen really, really looks crappy now.

Friday, August 10, 2012

5 reasons to give it a chance

  1. I get to talk. If we both talk at the same time, he shuts up and lets me talk. Of course, I do this too.
  2. I'm taking the time to practice my ideals of being kind, of not gossiping, of reserving judgment, of not jumping to conclusions. Of finding out.
  3. I don't feel at all kooky or goofy talking about yoga. Even the spiritual aspects. But maybe that's me. Or maybe it's that, okay, this sounds horrid, but I don't care. I don't care what he thinks of me. And I think that's what the change is starting to be, letting go of caring what other people think and of how they might judge me. Because that's their problem, if they judge me. Not mine.
  4. He's not anyone other than who he is: not pretentious or slick or charming. And I don't have to be either, even if who I am is not someone who feels the same way.
  5. He's not an extrovert. That means I don't have to live in an extrovert's world, competing to be heard, fighting not to fall back into the shadows.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Bastions of maleness

I know this is probably going to offend males. If you're offended, then I'm not talking about you.

In all my years of being in the world, working in places, I have never seen so much stereotypical male behavior as I have in this office.

Larus argentatus - two adults fighting 1

Maybe I just haven't been working in traditional places.

Maybe I haven't spent much time working in the Midwest. (Yes, Pittsburgh is the Midwest.) Except I have worked in offices in this city before.

Maybe I just didn't notice it.

I'm talking about
the cursing
the need to talk loudly
the need to talk all the time
the yelling into the speaker phone when there is a door that could be closed
the need to talk over people
the need to tell other people every single thing you know and be the authority on every single subject
the need to have an opinion about everything

At first I thought it was just one person, but the more people are added to our area, the more people I notice doing this. It's not all of them, not by any means. Probably not even half. But it's starting to wear on me, this need to be on the top of the heap, this need to "win" conversations and top each other and be an authority on every subject.

Peacock terms

I don't want to be part of this world, but when I don't participate, my opinion doesn't get heard. I get stuffed in a corner. I am not going to shout someone down, so whenever I talk and someone else starts talking, I stop. Even though they should not be talking over me.

I know I do this too when I'm excited to share my knowledge about something. But I don't do it all the time. And I really try to be aware of it.

I'm supposed to be myself and value my own opinions enough to share them. But it's so discouraging to be around people who don't even want to allow me to have opinions. Who don't want women to be strong. Who want us to clean house and bear children and be seen and not heard. At least that's what it feels like, when I start out trying to say something to someone, and the whole conversation gets sidetracked into what he wants to say.

The therapist says maybe it's time I stop letting others lead, and do the leading myself. To go ahead and call people on it when they're feeding me bullshit. Still. I've also witnessed people straight up ignoring me when I did call them on it. I guess that's down the road? Maybe it's not waiting for them to listen, but saying it anyway.
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