Thursday, September 01, 2011

Lumbering to wakefulness

" It's an art to live with pain... mix the light into grey." 
-- attributed to Eddie Vedder

And, voila, two years blink by.


I'm still here.  The blog isn't dead...entirely.  It's been, well, resting a bit after a particularly loud squawk.

Things have happened, without comment.  Things continue to happen.  "Change happens."

Life...proceeds.  Healing...kind of.  It's been hard to clean up the mess that was dropped into my lap.  It's been hard to find... understanding. It's been hard to find... relief.  It's been hard to keep struggling.

And, yet, I must.  As long as it takes.

In the end, it's all just shades of grey...and up to us to figure out our monochromatic comfort levels.

-- f

Photo credit: Phil Whitehouse

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Regarding Extreme Ways

Another musical post tonight; the lyrics express my inner voice and monologue better than any words I can come up with at the moment.

Tonight ended one of my last week-long visits with Kara this Summer. As we were driving to the exchange point, she wanted to listen to some music and the soundtrack to The Bourne Ultimatum was the only CD in the car. Now, I know she has different tastes in music than I do (most people do), so I flipped to the last track on the disc...which happens to be the song linked in the video.

I've listened to it time and time again over the last several weeks and months. It captures something about my emotions, my fears, and my grief.

In the stories, the hero doesn't know how the happy ending is going to materialize until the very last minute. I think I'm somewhere near the middle of the story.

I'm tired. I'm tired of things always falling apart.

Would somebody please read the last page and let me know how it all turns out? I really, really hope it says, "And they lived happily ever after."


Video credit: Universal

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Regarding Noise in the Channel

It's a big hit with the kids."Ah, well, it must be true if it's on the Interweb."
-- Liz Lemon, "Cleveland," 30 Rock (season 1)

In the 1984 movie Brazil, a single typographic error leads to a series of improbable events which ultimately affect several lives for the worse. Admittedly, Terry Gilliam movies usually feature improbable sequences of events, but Brazil seems a particularly apt parable for the concept...and risks of...misunderstanding.

We rely on so much non-verbal communication these days. Email, instant messaging, texting, Facebook, MySpace, twitter, and on and on. In some ways, we communicate more through phosphor dots than any other tool or device...even the telephone (mobile?) or even face-to-face contact. We type our thoughts as they occur to us; we send them zipping into cyberspace, barely remembering to consider spelling, grammer, or even logic at times.

Have you noticed how many "tpyos" get made? (& ya, I mean 'sides the obv. s/cuts & abbrv's. Duh! LOL.)

Have you ever noticed how things seem to take on more weight when they're written? Even when we know we should think critically, we don't. Perhaps this is one reason why so many flame wars erupt in online forums.

Sometimes, we change our lives because of our beliefs. Many times, this is good.

I wonder though, especially in today's digital society, how many of these changes stem from misunderstandings.

I wonder how many times we make major changes in our lives based on incorrect, incomplete, or simply misunderstood information. I wonder how many of these changes could be avoided if we verified things more often. If we remembered to think more critically.

Sometimes, you misread an email. Sometimes, you mis-hear a voicemail. Sometimes, an IM doesn't arrive. Sometimes, the check gets lost in the mail. Sometimes, you simply make a mistake.

I wonder how many of our fears come to pass because we forget to check our expectations at the door. How many times do we, intentionally or not, interpret things to match our fears. How many times do we convict someone through a jury of our fears, rather than through good judgement or critical analysis?

It's ironic, when you think about it. When someone whispers a rumor quietly, something outrageous or seemingly out of character, many respond with something to the effect of "Excuse me? Did I heard that correctly?" Yet, when faced with the same outrageous rumor (or idea) when presented online, the same folks generally respond with something akin to "OMG. WTF! I can't believe it!!" And then they do...believe it...unquestioningly. Why? Because it was written down? Because it was on the Internet?

It's hard enough to avoid misunderstandings in person, where a half heard word or simple distraction can lead to an argument. How much easier is it to misinterpret something when the only cues (or clues) are textually based? How much more likely is it that something will be misinterpreted?

Something worth thinking about the next time you reach for that flamethrower.


Photo credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

Thursday, July 02, 2009

A Break in the Clouds

The future is called "perhaps," which is the only possible thing to call the future.

And the only important thing is not to allow that to scare you.

-- Tennessee Williams

As I mentioned in my previous post, things are starting to shift for me emotionally.

That said, there are still some logistical challenges. Finances are a major concern; wedging the two paycheck mortgage into a single income has been difficult and still presents some major challenges. As a result, my discretionary budget is, well, nil.

I don't think this is a permanent thing; I think things will get easier. I just don't know how long that will take. Weeks, perhaps. Months? (I hope not!!) However long it takes, I need to hang on, tough it out, and watch my spending carefully.

You know how window shopping can sometimes substitute for the real thing? I've started trying to apply the same principle to other areas of my life. I've started making lists of things to do when things aren't as tight.

Yeah...lists. Such as:
  • Things that we can't afford at the moment.
  • Things that need to be taken care of in the future.
  • CD's I want to buy when I feel comfortable splurging on myself.
  • Projects that need to be taken care of around the house.
  • Decorating ideas to try out and/or experiment with.
  • Kitchen utensils and small appliances that I need to replace.
  • Skills I've decided I want to explore or learn more about .
  • Things to do when there's more cash for travel and tickets.
  • Things I want to do when I have someone to hang out with again.

And, of course, there's a list of things I want to be different in my next relationship, one with qualities I want to see in that person. According to my list, she'll:
  • Be smart and thoughtful.
  • Communicate and listen.
  • Not hide things or keep secrets (except perhaps presents or surprise parties).
  • Have her own ideas and allow me have my own ideas; she'll enjoy discovering how those ideas mesh and what they create.
  • Want to make a difference, maybe by changing the world or perhaps just improving a small corner of it.
  • Appreciate and value little things, like a loving touch, flowers given randomly, or even a door opened for her.
  • Be emotionally mature and willing to take responsibility for her actions. And she'll expect the same from me.
  • Respect other people's ideas and act with integrity.
  • Understand the complicated relationships I have with my children and encourage me to maintain the strongest connection possible with them.
  • Be strong enough to be her own person while working to create a relationship that suits both of us.
  • Have a bit of a mischievous sense of humor (or at least tolerate the one I have...and the puns that come with it.).
  • Understand that words like "fidelity" and "commitment" aren't abstract concepts.
  • Won't be allergic to cats (or at least be willing to work it).

You may notice that I've focused on qualities, rather than specifics (except, perhaps for the allergy). I don't know who she is, where she is, what she does for a living, or what she's into. I do know the type of person that she is and the type of relationship that she wants.

Maybe she has or wants children. Maybe she wants to travel, learn to scuba, or wear silly hats. These are things I do not know...and look forward to discovering.

I do know that she's someone I can depend on without being dependent on. I know that when the zombies attack, we're standing back to back and fending them off. I know she wants to collaborate, not control. I know that she values spontaneity and is willing to work at making that kind of freedom possible.

And do you know what I realized that these lists have gotten me to start doing? Dream. Think about the future. These lists are getting me to start making plans to begin making them come to pass. I've started to create new dreams, dreams to take my life forward into a happier, better future.

It's still early in the process and there's a lot of hard work ahead, but I think these ideas are a good sign, a sign of good things to come.


Photo credit: me

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

On Gaining a Foothold

Sometimes, lost is where you need to be. Just because you don't know your direction doesn't mean you don't have one.
-- Slick, "Someone to Watch Over Me" (Battlestar Galactica, Season 4.5)

When I first found this picture, I thought I'd use it for one of my solstice posts, but it didn't seem to fit with the words that came out, so I held it back until I found the right words to pair it with.

Sunrise always seems like a new beginning, a look forward. The solstice marks a transition from one season to another. And, as a friend reminded me some weeks ago, there are seasons to our lives...and the season I've been living through has been one of loss and recovery.

The image reminds me that while it's important to mourn loss and to allow the grieving process, it's also important to recover, to figure out where life goes from here.

I am still in the process of recovery; I'm still trying to work out some of the practical details, but the important thing is that I've noticed the sun still rises and that there's still a life I need to live.

It's a process and I'm sure there are still dark moments ahead; however, it seems like the vector has changed and momentum is starting to build.

I am beginning to figure the direction I want to move in. I'm still wandering, but maybe I'm starting to find my footing. Maybe I'm starting to get my bearings. More on that later.

For now, it's enough to mark...and appreciate...the beginning of a new season.


Photo credit: Grufnik

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Some Quality Time

There's nothing quite so good for a man's ego as the admiration of his daughter.

This year, the Solstice falls on a day that Kara would normally spend with her mother. However, because it's Father's Day, I got a little extra time with her. Spending the first day of Summer with her was comforting on many levels this year.

The day started with the traditional breakfast in bed, though it was "supposed" to be a surprise. I quite naturally had "no idea" that she had anything planned. She's never done this before. Nope. Never.

And, no, there was nothing suspicious in her a) telling me that I needed to sleep in until at least 9:00 am and and b) later asking if would it be okay if she cooked some breakfast in case she "woke up early." Nope, nothing to see here. All perfectly natural. Right?

Riiight. ;-)

It was sweet, really. And nice to be pampered for a moment.

I'm not sure how she finagled it (because she'd done it while at her other home), but she managed to get a few small things for me (shown in the photo). The front of the card says:

Dad, I will never forget many of the things you've told me.

To which, the inside adds:

Or understand them or do them really. But I'll remember them. Happy Father's Day

To which, she'd written underneath:

I love you and I sometimes will actually do them. But not so often that you get used to it.

-- Kara

P.S. You are a rockin' dad!"

She has a sweet tooth the size of Texas, so it's no surprise that she gave me things that she enjoys, clearly hoping I'll enjoy them, too. She knows that Almond Joy is one of my favorite candy bars (Because' y'know, sometimes you do feel like a nut) and M&M cookies are one of her favorites (I had gotten her one as a special treat).

She'd put a piece of her cookie in a plastic bag and used a Sharpie to scribble a sweet message:

My love is a cookie and I'm giving a lot to you.

Sure, it's a little corny, but I'm a little corny and, besides, it really was lovely.

We spent low-key day together. We played video games, watched a movie, played catch, and generally hung out. It was, in large part, a day like many others that we've spent together. And that, too, was very sweet for me.

And, later in the day, I managed to get her to slow down long enough to take the perfect picture for the magnetic photo frame shown in the photo. There's a blank spot on the refrigerator that's perfect for it.

It was probably the best Father's Day I could reasonably ask for this year. A sweet, simple memory of the best kind of Family time.


Photo credit: Me

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Reflections on Perspective

To succeed in life is to be able to transform.
-- Blake Snyder, Save the Cat

Tomorrow is a solstice, the first day of a new season. Locally, it marks the first day of Summer and the longest day of the year. In your part of the world, it may be the first day of winter and the longest night. Regardless, it marks a new beginning.

Tomorrow also happens to be Father's Day and I have two sets of ideas going through my head at the prospect. I'm not sure how to weave them into a single (semi?) coherent post. Instead, I thought I'd work through the more difficult set of thoughts today so that I can spend tomorrow focusing on however much of my family I get to see.

Had my first marriage survived, tomorrow would also have marked my 12th anniversary. Two years ago, I wrote about the view from that moment. It was a happy moment, one filled with filled with love, hope, and dreams.

Ironically, I spoke of knowing then what I hadn't known a decade earlier. My, my. What a difference two years can make.

Two years ago, we bought this house and looked forward to making it a loving, secure home for our family. Today, I am (still) trying to figure out how to work the finances so that I can keep this that it can (eventually) become the family home I'd originally envisioned, a place of security, comfort, creativity, laughter, joy, and (most of all) filled with deep, abiding love. Love freely...and fully...given.

The pronoun may have changed and certain aspects of those hopes may no longer apply or be possible, but the underlying dreams remain the same.

The following poem is dedicated to the perspective I have today and the one I hope to have in the future:

We do not know where our path will lead
Until we look back to see where we have been.

We do not know what we will see
Until we remember what we have seen.

We do not know how we will survive
Until we have healed from the wounds.

Move forward with faith, trust, and hope.
We only fail when we stop believing.

(It's similar to the earlier one, but embodies a different perspective.)

I believe in a better future.

I trust the Universe will help me figure out how to solve the financial problems. I trust the Universe to help me find the loving, trusting, and honorable person I deserve in my life. I trust the Universe to lead me to the woman who will become my best friend, my biggest fan, my greatest inspiration, my best lover, my true partner, and the love of my life.

And I hope that the perspective in two more years is one filled with happiness, security, love, and the family life I've been trying to create for most of my adult life...the family life I truly deserve.


Photo credit: Daniela Goulart

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