Friday, June 30, 2006

This day was worse than even I imagined...very much so.

No one in my office said goodbye or interacted with me but for a couple of people who needed to know where documents were. No one. In fact, only one person in the entire company, save for my boss, even acknowledged my departure...via voice mail.

I knew this day would be hard, but not as difficult as it was.

I was asked to review a 200K grant application late yesterday that had to wait until this morning. I actually tried to do so last night, but my phone is now dead due to the flooding in my neighborhood, so I assumed that I could not log-on to the server via the Internet. Besides, I really have no business working at night now....

So, when I arrived, I reviewed the document that was due this day. After five weeks of work, it was a pile of cut and paste crap that neither communicated a compelling case for the organization nor addressed the actual questions. I was fairly dumbfounded and then quickly sunk into despair.

In my heart, there was no question that I would not try to rewrite the whole document so that the organization had a better shot at the grant. I came this day, as with every other day, to honor God in my work. But tears stung my eyes knowing that my plans for a transition, for closure were shot, knowing that only my boss would probably understand or appreciate the sacrifice...and rather stellar writing.

I worked until after 4:00, bringing my writing student in to help several times and outright demanding that my boss give me her attention and assistance when I asked. The only real less than terrible spot (other than interacting my brilliant, talented writing student) was when I asked my boss to explain something, taking notes on her phrasing, and then crafted a concise and compelling case for supporting the organization's new efforts in Community Assessment.

I was proud of the work because I know that it is good and that it can be source material for many other types of documents concerning Community Assessment.

Yes, I can get lost in the craftsmanship of writing to the exclusion of all else...even feeling like dirt.

At the end of the day, I felt like I was begging my boss for an exit interview even though time was running out. I asked if she could move another appointment and when she explained that that one had already been rescheduled, I practically shouted (okay...the shout was in my head, but it was all I could do to stay my tears) that this was my last day, that I was having to spend it doing someone else's work, that I was not able to get anyone to listen to what I have done and where everything was (no closure), and that I deserved better, I was worth more than this...

When she set aside everything else to meet with me, I could barely keep myself together. I wanted to rage at her, I wanted to weep, I wanted to just walk away. We were pressed for time once we did start talking that while I did try to speak up for myself, I failed to really say what I wanted.

I was angry and hurt that she had not worked to make this day smoother, or at least carved out time for me. I was bitter even in my obedience to Christ in honoring God in my work...bitter because the person responsible for the document still had a job, whereas I do not. I was confused in the logic that my job was eliminated for budgetary purposes, yet outsourcing communications is quite expensive. Then again...I am not the "right folk" for this organization...

I was...and still am...overwhelmed by feeling as if I have been crumpled up and discarded. That all my work counts for naught. That I am nothing...

Still, in the midst of all of this, I tried to focus on the small comfort that my writing student was there with me, two offices away, finishing some things I had wanted to see completed...and being kind to me. She has been God's grace these last eight days. I cherish that gift from Him.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Were I to be honest, I would admit that I still feel like dirt. I thought I had worked out a few things in my mind, but really...I feel the same.

The one board member with whom I have worked closely over the past two years spotted me after the board meeting today and changed directions to speak to me. He held out his hands and offered his congratulations. It was all I could do to keep from crying.

Whatever did the president say to make him think congratulations were in order? I LOST MY JOB! What good is there in that? About what should I be happy? He finished by saying that if there was ever anything he could do to please ask. I looked him straight in the eye and replied that I could send him my resume.

I walked straight back to the office I have been using (I cannot bear to be in mine) and sent it straight off to him.

I cried in my office. I sniffled on the way home. Tears leaked out at my writing student's house where I was trying to wish happy returns on both her parent's birthday. The flood came once I arrived home. No shopvac needed this time.

I keep telling myself that this is my work's loss. They are choosing mediocrity. Yet it does nothing to salve my battered and bruised heart. I spent 26 months of the hardest, highest caliber work I have ever done, all the while working to the benefit of the company rather than myself...what a fool I have been.

How can communications not be important to a growing company? It has to be. So, therefore, why am I the wrong folk?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Two more days. I really cannot believe that this is happening.

I packed up my plants, a small table from India, and spare Dr. Pepper today. My office is getting barer and barer. Again, it is good that my writing student is the one who is actually using it, while I am tucked away in an empty office.

I cloned some grass this afternoon. After some cropping and some cloning, I got an exterior shot of a building that is a far better representation of the property than came through the lens in the driving rain we have been having. Given the fact that I am definitely not a graphics artist, I am quite pleased with my grass-that-was-not-really-there.

My goal this evening is to work on my novel. It is about time, after all, that I start transitioning to doing things for me in the evenings...rather than for my job.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Last night I was up until 3:30, the night before 4:30...all in the battle to keep groundwater from flooding my basement. I am thankful to report that the shopvac-pump-hose-method was a resounding success. A success because I never once had to lift that 16-gallon bucket and dump it into the bath.

Work was hard this day. I struggled through editing the photos I shot yesterday as I thought about Friday. Since my heart was already heavy, I packed up all my personal things from my office in the afternoon. Three more boxes made their way to my car. What is left is the portfolio of my work that I have been building and some personal files. I very much didn't want to be sobbing over boxes on Friday evening.

Having my writing student at the office with me has been such a wonderful blessing to me. She is brilliant and talented and a joy to watch work. She is a buffer and a distraction. She has been a willing companion to blowing money at the deli across the street, drowning my angst in grilled chicken wraps and pizza. I could not imagine how these last two weeks would have been without her.

Plus, she is driving us to work. I have reveled in the privilege in helping teaching her how to drive. I am honored to do so...and welcome yet another distraction.

Kashi is beside himself with all the storms...I wish I were better at consoling him...I don't speak dog very well...

Monday, June 26, 2006

Well, the rain came down in buckets all day, flooding streets and homes alike. I was, rather stunned I might say, to come home and find the basement only squishy from my battle last night.

On the drive home, battling my way through torrents of rain plummeting down on the highway, I plaintively asked my writing student's father to bring over some short hoses I remembered spotting as I helped clean out their garage a week ago. The new shopvac I bought last year --after I caught the other one on fire whilst trying to stem the then flood of water--has a pump feature. I figured that he could ferret out how to make it work, which would make my impending fight ever so much easier. This way, I would not have to keep emptying the 16-gallon bucket every 20 minutes.

Being a rather clever fellow (actually he is nothing short of brilliant), he had the pump feature set up in short order. I tried sucking up some of the squishy water beneath the floating laminate floor using the swollen cracks, but the shopvac has to have four inches of water before the pump feature does its magic.

Happy that I might get some rest, I walked my writing student and her father to the car, fantasizing just how long I could sleep before I would need to wake up and check on the basement. Oh, my dreams crashed around me in nothing flat.

I walked back inside and thought I would take a look see before I changed out of my work clothes. work clothes are drenched. I have confirmed that not only does the pump feature work beautifully, but also that MUCH water can enter a basement long after it stops raining.

I have to go and pump some more now that my Orange Gatorade break is over. While sucking up that water, I shall remember what truly excellent work my writing student did today. I tasked her with finding out how to do PDF forms. She has never created a form or used either Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Designer. Not only did she create functional forms, she also documented the procedure so that other staff can learn how to do so as well. Now...could you have done that at less than a day's time?

Simply put, she inspires me.
When it pours.

I have been "shopvac-ing" water for over four hours. I just cannot do it any more. And can only hope that since the rate of incoming water has drastically slowed, the water that will be there when I wake will be manageable. Thus far, I have emptied the 16 gallon container 13 times.

The dryer also seems to be on the blitz.

I have to get up in 3 1/2 hours to go to work for the last week. We are doing a property photo shoot in Annapolis, so I really need to be there. Doing so is one of the projects I would like to complete before Friday.

More opportunities to trust God, eh?

Oh, my heart and body and, yes, soul are weary...

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Hours and hours later, the potting bench is finally put together! I will not write just exactly how many of the final screws I put in before I remembered that I own a cordless drill. Still, I am quite overwhelmed at the gift. It is ensconced on the lower deck now.

It was pouring down rain while I finished the job, but I was determined not to be defeated by poorly written directions. Once I did finish, I decided, since I was already quite drenched, that I would go ahead and prune back the crepe myrtle and the rose of sharon trees. I have a hard time whacking off things that bloom, but the crepe myrtle was blocking the front door and the rose of sharon was covering 2/3 of the lower deck. Once I was done, I called for a special pick-up and hauled the cutting to the curb.

I suppose the pile does not look quite impressive, but it really was much hard labor on my part. By the time I was finished, all of my clothing was drenched through to my skin, but my trees look beautiful, so that is all that matters. I do need to mow. Mowing with a cast, however, is just not the easiest thing to do.

I think you could say I am practicing productive avoidance, eh?

Saturday, June 24, 2006

I threw myself in to cleaning out the storage area of my writing student's basement. Her mother doesn't quite get how very much hours of hard labor mean to me just now.

I have to admit, though, that I get a bit bossy whilst cleaning and organizing. Move this, get rid of that, stop what you are doing and do what I say. Follow my orders, and I will whip your space into shape is my motto. No stopping for breaks. Ignore the phone. Just get it done and you will thank me. It is an ugly, beautiful thing.

Of course, little does she know that my study floor is covered with papers that need filing. There is an ironing board in my living room that is covered with clothes that need ironing. I have stuff I have already brought home from work littering my table and need to find room for more.

Am I the kettle calling the pot black?

Friday, June 23, 2006

I was so busy drowning in my hurt and confusion that I failed to notice that some time this week my rose of Sharon trees and bushes started blooming. Even more than the wysteria, the rose of Sharon is my favorite part of living in this small home. They bloom in June and carry their blossoms for months. Their beauty is a comfort and a balm to my soul.

I suppose, that in truth, it is time for me to start looking past my situation.

I am still quite filled with tears and quite filled with fear, but there is something beyond this job...and I need to start looking.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

If I were able to look past my hurt, I would see how very gracious God is being to me just now.

I mean, here I have my writing student at work with me each of my last days. She is extraordinarily talented and quite intelligent. So watching her work in such a capable fashion brings solace to me. Having her companionship on the drive in and home has stayed the ever present tears. Laughing with her and talking about the novels we are each writing is a blessed distraction.

It could have been different. At least I get to have some closure in that which I have been doing. At least I am not alone in a rather unfriendly work place. At least I can see this one good in all the rest of this mess.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Have you ever been chastened and encouraged at the same time?

I didn't want to go to bible study this evening because if I am not actually doing something, I start to think about what is happening and I start crying. I hate what is happening. I hate crying. I am so very frustrated. Why?

My writing student was to intern with me this summer, so her time at work has been reduced to eight days. She came to work with me and accomplished more than many people at work I know. I was disappointed, however, that my boss failed to greet her. In fact, she did not even talk to me. Actions really do speak louder than words.

Since my writing student was with me, I decided to still go to bible study, to stave off the sorrow so to speak. Her mother drives us each week, so we raced home, threw together dinner, and were ready to go (almost).

Well, we are currently delving into Isaiah. Right now, we are still in the introductory lessons, but it is enough to remind me, even by my own words this evening, that sometimes God's idea of what is good and perfect for our lives is not what we would expect. If I believe He is sovereign, which I do, then this, too, is what He plans and purposes for my life.

I am still hurting, but at least tonight I found solace in the life I have in Christ and had a sharp reminder of where my focus should be. God has given us such a profound gift in His Word.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Well, the president sent off this email to the entire company that messaged not what I was told, but what made him and the company look quite good after work yesterday. I was floored and felt even worse than I did last Thursday. His opening salvo? That the staffing choices were made on ensuring that the "right folk" remained with the organization. I guess I am wrong folk.

This morning, my boss had scheduled a two-hour meeting to go over my options and develop a plan to find some closure on my work. Well, she blew me off. She called to say that she would be about a half hour late. I left the office after waiting three hours for her to show up. I drove home in tears and plopped down on my couch to reluctantly work on some collateral. I would venture that over the past six months, 95 percent of the time she has left me hanging. I shouldn't have expected anything else. But she keeps saying that she is disappointed in the decision to let me go and wants to help. me right off the edge of the emotional cliff I am standing upon just now.

If I could afford to walk away today, I would. No questions asked. Hands down I would. I am, however, desperate for this last paycheck. There is absolutely no way that I could afford to turn my back on a check that would cover 85% of July's mortgage payment.

Still, I wish that a giant hole would open up in the earth and swallow me whole. I feel like dirt.

Monday, June 19, 2006

I do not know how I will spend nine more days at a place where I am neither respected or my work valued. I was an utter fool to think that working nights and weekends, that juggling four different responsibilities, that being more efficient than much of the rest of the staff...that anything I did would matter. If ever I thought that this organization cared about its staff, I have been thoroughly disabused of that notion.

I should be glad. I have been increasingly uncomfortable with struggling to not be a part of the messaging that was not based on the truth. My boss kept telling me that things were going to change. That the restructuring would bring about greater intellectual honesty and those staff who have rested more on laurels past than on current achievements would not remain. Boy, was I a fool!

You know, I believe quite strongly that if you take money for youth development, then you should be held to a high ethical standard on delivering what you promise. It seems, however, that those who point out what is not taking place are the ones who are punished. Those who just plain don't show up for work are rewarded. Those who continue to do was they want regardless of corporate policies are promoted.

Do I sound frustrated? Bitter? I hope not the latter, but I am so angry and hurt that it is difficult to see much else but how ethics and honesty lose and deception and laziness wins.

How can I find a place to work where ethics and honesty wins? Where hard work is valued? For someone who is supposed to be smart and talented, I feel stupid and such a failure.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

I learned of something new to me today: Su Do Ku.

Do you know of this? It is a puzzle. A grid of squares. Three smaller grids of nine squares make up a larger grid, so that you have nine squares in each row, column, and grid. Each square should have the numbers one through nine once and each column and row should also have one through nine, with no repeated number in any direction. The puzzle comes with a few numbers, which you use to determine what the missing numbers might be. The Washington Post has easy, medium, and hard versions varying throughout the week.

My step-mother, a mathematician by nature, savors the puzzles, working through them one at a time as she finds the time. Today, she erased the numbers off two of the puzzles (an easy and a medium one) and taught me the logic behind attacking them.

I relished the challenge and hung out at there house as I first solved the easy one and then battled my way (with assistance at the end) through the medium. I cannot imagine solving a hard version, but I am game to try.

I very much welcomed the distraction from what is swirling around my mind and my heart. I, too, am thankful for another tool to try and battle the cognitive disfunction that plagues my MS beleaguered brain cells.

Check it out!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

I awoke this day in tears. It was not, however, because of the news of my job which has been laying heavy on my heart.

Thursday morning, I forgot to take my medicine. Yesterday, I could hardly put two thoughts together unless I was focused clearly on a task. Thus, this was the third day without my arthritis medicine. I was in so much pain that I could barely make it to the bathroom to swallow the pills. After also taking a pain killer that is not the best decision to couple with Celebrex, I stumbled back to bed to wait it out.

A couple of hours later, I thought I could bear this day. At least physically...

I was supposed to help my writing student's mother sand and paint her shutters. I had planned to call her and tell her to set the children to sanding them and that I would help her paint them next Saturday. I wanted to rest and to...well...wallow. But before I could call her, she called me. She called me to say that they were going to leave the shutters for later and
planned on cleaning out their rather messy garage.

You know how I feel about organization!

I couldn't help myself. I made my way over to participate in the process. Shortly there after, I press for her to take the three kids who didn't want to be there to that which they had planned to, assuring her that I would stay and marshal the remaining folks into much productivity.

Really, her husband seems to barely tolerate my "home improvement plans" for their home at times, but I hope that he wanted me there plowing ahead. I chivvied him into throwing out some of the things that he had accumulated, pieces of wires and such, made a few suggestions as to carpentry adjustments he could make to their organization systems, swept much sawdust, and cleaned out a few shelves and boxes.

At one point, I was trying to reach something and stood on my tiptoes without thinking. While I could not really do so, the attempt sent sharp pain through my lower left leg. I wondered if perhaps I had pulled the fracture back apart. A short while later, I tripped over a broom that had been left lying on the floor.

Was I crazy for sweating for hours in their garage? While I really like this family and would do anything for them, all that work was really for me. I felt rather blessed to have such labor in which to drown my turmoil.

I vacillate between being angry at having my investment at work abandoned, fearing for my financial responsibilities, being overwhelmed for all that I have to think about, and feeling like a failure.

For a few hours today, I had a respite from all that. What more could I want?

I came home, sluiced off the dirt and grime, popped another pain killer, and tried to read a book. I keep turning the pages, but I don't really know what I am reading. I think I shall try to I can start tomorrow anew.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

I lost my job today.

I spent just over two years pouring my heart and soul into organizing chaos and creating collateral and a website that represents the capacity and scale of this organization. I have pulled together all the press, created a boilerplate materials...awk! Why even write it? Why punish myself further with the incredulity with which I am overwhelmed. I truly cannot see the wisdom in letting go someone who has produces what I have and demonstrated my skills...but there I go again.

I am completely and utterly overwhelmed...and I keep thinking about my mortgage and about health insurance. There is no choice for me. I have to keep it current to avoid the whole pre-existing condition exclusionary loophole. There is too much at stake for me.

I lost my job today.

I lost my job today and received many more free ferns.

In what world can you get an instant fern garden the same day you lose your job?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Do you subscribe to the belief that if something tastes particularly good it is a sign that your body is craving it? I am not sure if I do, but I know that at times water doesn't seem to quench my thirst the way Gatorade does.

I have never, ever liked the idea of a spinach salad. In fact, I have vehemently eschewed any and every opportunity to consume one.

Well, a few weeks ago, I got a free gourmet prepackaged salad that happened to be made of spinach instead of lettuce. Given the financial crunch my ungrateful HVAC has placed me in, I reluctant to pass it up even though the very idea of eating it dampened my appetite. I stared long and hard at the bowl before I could muster up the courage to take a bite. So, I am not quite sure that I can fully describe my surprise when I discovered that the spinach was, in actuality, quite tasty.

The deli across from work has started carrying salads, so I bought two last week, remembering how much I enjoyed the free one. In the past four months, greens have not been a part of my daily diet. They, too, seem to be more satisfying than usual, so I actually went to a grocery store for the first time since that horrible repair bill and bought a gargantuan tub of baby spinach and other fixings.

Tonight, for dinner, rather than the pantry food or left over food or old bean burritos (and 89 cent meal) or the few deli sandwiches I have bought in weak moments, I had a spinach salad with grilled chicken, black beans, sweet white corn (from Trader Joes), shredded carrots, crumbled bacon, diced cucumbers, and dried cranberries.

Spinach anyone?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

My leg (formerly ankle) hurts. I found it difficult to ignore today. So, of course, it makes perfect sense that, once home, I wrapped my leg, cast and all, in a kitchen garbage bag and went outside to mow the lawn.

Close your eyes and picture a chia pet. Now, transplant that image to small spots across a plain of dirt. That is my front yard. It is funny, most of my back yard is lush and green (especially since I am no longer a mowing murderess), but there is a barren patch that stretches from the first of my lower deck all the way by the sheds and to the gate on the side of my house. Then, from the gate all along the side of the house is more lushness. But once you get to the front portion, there is really only a wide strip of lawn to the left (facing outward) in front of my rose bed. The rest is a barren wasteland barring the chia spots.

I haven't mowed in a couple of weeks, so my now longer grass was quite tall and in need of mowing.

I did feel a bit sorry for myself, slipping on the grass from wearing the garbage bag (I didn't want grass clippings all over the cast). Imagine how foolish I felt when I discovered that my writing student's mother had called with news of another free fern. Something to be thankful for again, instead of focusing on that which I wished were different.

This time, I will be getting a red cinnamon fern...I cannot wait to see it!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

My writing student's mother gave me the gift of ferns today!

We actually scavenged them from her neighbor's yard. [Who doesn't want ferns in his/her yard?] My friend did more of the digging than I, but I was the one who greedily urged her to clear out this entire area of the yard and thin out another (that I would have to share the labors of the afternoon with her was weighing heavy on my mind as we considered whether or not we had a sufficiency).

When we returned to her house, I happily helped her plant the fern she kept (still feeling guilty about how many I was getting). I rather enjoyed planting with her. She is skilled with the shovel (were I to do so I would start wheezing), while I have a deft touch in scooping soil around the plant and properly pressing it down firmly. Sharing oneness with the soil is quite satisfying to me!

Her husband, after months of hinting, cooked chicken satay for me. I might have showed a bit more greed in consuming the results of his rather skilled culinary labors.

It was too dark when I returned home to plant mine, so I tucked them in a darkened corner and doused them with water. I cannot wait to see them in their new home!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

This day had two bright spots:

1. The visit to the car place for the 30,000 check-up, state inspection, emissions test, and oil change was 1 and 1/2 hours shorter than estimated. The service manager actually put a priority on my work (instead of the usual two hour time frame for just an oil it really free if it takes so long?). Perhaps this is because I have not yet been willing to fill out a positive survey after my service visits? Whatever the case, this is my sixth service visit and the first that was not an arduous ordeal. [I did bring a TV tray to use in the waiting room so that I could get some work done on my laptop. Let me tell you, it took great intestinal fortitude on my part to ignore the stares I received walking in with it.]

2. Kashi had a positive vet visit today. He is on the third medicine (another Chinese herb) trial to find something to help with his copious drinking and and oft violent tremoring. is working! Kashi had gotten up to four bowls of 24 ounces a day (quite a bit for a small dog), but he has dropped back down to two. His tremors are worlds better too.

Now, do they make a Chinese herb for stubbornness?

Friday, June 09, 2006

I have been schlepping about on the boot cast for just over a week now. Doing so is getting old.

No one at work has made any attempt to help me get around or assist with things I am doing. In fact, at the awards luncheon on Monday, I had to lug three boxes of collateral, three 24"x36" display boards, and the display frame all by myself. These two men who came upon me in the parking garage stopped me to help. They asked what company I was with that would send a cripple to do the set-up. I changed the subject with my effusive thanks. Then today, this man, who was getting his briefcase from the car, spotted me going to the door and called to me to wait. At first, I didn't understand him and kept on walking. He then abandoned collecting this things together to come over and open both glass doors. It does hurt to push off with my bag leg to get the doors open, but I never failed to understand that he was trying to help.

I know my boss, if she were to read this, would say all I have to do is ask.

However...I have asked. I am usually greeted with hesitation or remarks they the person has other things to do. Why should one person, in a company of 65, be responsible for the set up and break down of events? I will be working and staff will just stand around me. Lending a helping hand is absolutely not a trait common to anyone I have encountered at work.

I nearly cried when I realized this stranger was going out of his way to help me. I wish I had help more often. I wish things just weren't so difficult.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

I am struggling with writing these days. My heart is quite full of conflicting emotions, and I wonder about pouring them out here. I mean, this journal is for me, but I know others read it. So, I have hesitated to write.

I wanted my birthday to be special. I wanted my family to call and send cards. The day passed (and many days after) without cards. I wanted it to be special because of where I am right now.

I have been set aside by my mother, charged not to contact her unless I am ready to apologize for abusing her. She and my step-father heaped vile anger upon me via voice mail and email. All begun because I said I had already chosen my clothing for the trip I was taking to take the photos of her most recent project. I am approaching my forth decade and have been struggling to set the most basic of boundaries with her. She started to tell me what to wear. I replied that I had already chosen my clothing (work clothing since we would be at the show house, but a pants suit that would be most comfortable on the plane). She launched into a tirade about how selfish I was and what a disappointment I was and hung up on me. With that click, with the silence that followed, something moved inside that I could no longer ignore. It is not selfish of me to want to choose my own clothing. The words she flung at me were not what is true and real about who I am.

After wiping away my tears, praying about my words, and checking with a few others, I emailed boundaries for the trip: no criticism about my hair, clothing, eating choices, or decisions. We would focus on the work at hand...or I could remain at home. I was coming to help her. Period.

When she received the email and called me, I was in the shower and didn't answer. That was enough to send her over the edge. She is quite skilled at saying the unforgettable and used every verbal barb at her disposal. She also had my step-father call and leave an equally hurtful voice mail. Hurtful emails followed.

In addition to all the rest, she also claimed that I help her less and less in my own selfishness. I spent many hours helping with my grandmother's funeral and setting up the scholarship fund. I spent months on her website and weeks on her brochure. Yes, I never help her any more.

I will not apologize for abusing her. There is a line within me that I cannot, will not cross. She and my father never rescued me from my uncle's attentions as child. They regularly left us with violent drunks. My sister says that it was just the way things were back then. I disagree. I have accepted that I will never be able to talk with my family about the choices of that time and the scars that mar me still, because we just don't speak of such things. If you do not speak of them, then they didn't happen. There was a time I longed for that, but I have accepted that such a conversation, barring the grace of God, will never happen. However, I will never apologize for something that is completely untrue. I will never admit to being that which I abhor, that which I would never inflict on another person for the weight of it in my own life.

I have struggled for years with how to honor a parent who does not really love, who chooses to focus what needs to be "improved" over all else. I have struggled and failed at finding a balance between pleasing her and standing up for myself.

I never heard: "I believe in you." "I will always support you." "You can do anything you set your mind to do." I heard: "You are an embarrassment at your weight". "You are selfish, which is why you are not married. No one could stand living with you." "You wasted your time getting a Ph.D. since you don't even use it."

Even now, with three chronic, incurable diseases, she never called to see how I was doing, even when one of my siblings let her know I was ill. I had to learn to stop longing for a "mother."

I found myself in the position of no longer trying to please her, because I knew that would never be possible. I found myself in the position, however, of trying to mitigate the criticism sure to come by making choices that might appease, hair, etc. But in the last few years, I have started responding to her directives by saying such things as 'I'm 35; I think I'm old enough to pick out my clothes." It didn't work. Perhaps my attempts were too feeble.

It is funny, her favorite book is When I Say No I Feel Guilty. I said, "no." I do not feel guilty. It cost me my family.

My brother believes it will blow over. My sister believes differently. She knows my mother has not spoken to her brother and sister for over two decades.

It has been five weeks. Waves of sadness wash over me still, yet I am walking in more freedom than I have in years. It is with chagrin and a bit regret that I have been realizing how very much I adjusted of who I am, of what I would prefer or enjoy, to avoid her criticism. It is relief that I no longer carry that burden.

It is not that I no longer wish to have a relationship with her. But I am no longer willing to cater to avoiding her displeasure, her vicious ire. I have tasted better.

My best friend's mother sent me a note with a refund check in which she signed off "Bonnie or Mom, whichever you prefer." She will never understand what her offer means to me. Her daughter sees the best in me, something I count as precious each and every day for the past decade. My mother sees the worst. My mother ridicules my guffaw laugh. My friend welcomes it.

While it is a struggle still to believe my friend over my mother's words that still ring in my ears, I choose to pick out my own clothing. I choose to wear lipstick only when the mood strikes. I choose to be accepted just as I am. I choose love.

Friday, June 02, 2006

One of the best birthday presents ever has been given to me this year. One of my friends who lives in Pennsylvania offered to drive down and pick the birds, Kashi, and I up, haul us back to her rather lovely home, and bring us all back home again on Sunday. Such a sacrifice of love all that driving!

Well, after packing far too much stuff in her vehicle, traveling four hours north, driving through a torrid rainstorm, dealing with two very exhausted boys, and stopping for a bathroom break, we arrived safely. While I only packed a backpack for myself, I did feel the need to also bring a duffel bag of pet supplies, my camera, my computer, Orange Gatorade, four pillows, the bird cages, Kashi's bed, my work bag, a baby gate, and some DVD's to watch. There was precious little room left for my friend and her two little boys.

Kashi feels like he has died and gone to doggy heaven. My friend's home is the largest one I have ever visited, with carpet in much of it, so he has been running around, traveling up and down the stairs, being happily chased by her three year old. Really, such room to frolic and explore, with a willing companion and without the slippage hazard of hard wood floors, is a true delight to him.

Today is definitely a good day.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

I just arrived home from work...with more to do.

Last night, I worked until after 2:00. Then, well, I lay in bed for hours because my ankle ached. So, this morning, knowing my first (of five total) meeting was not until 11:00, I showed up at the doctor's office. Several x-rays later and a visit to an orthopedist, I learned that my "ankle" is not injured at all. I learned that my lower tibia is fractured. I learned that I should have seen him when it happened so that it could be in a cast. I learned that it is too late now to do so. And I learned that I would probably be in this boot cast for 6-8 weeks and on crutches for the first four weeks.

The crutches lasted to the parking lot. I am frankly too tired to haul myself around them.

I did take the opportunity to ask if I could work from home tomorrow to closet myself with the last of the collateral design work that has been pushed aside for other priorities for the past three weeks. I shall sleep through my commute time. I shall work in my pajamas. I shall be productive.