Bawlin’, and other rambles

A very, very close friend is trying to show me how much I take on the pain of others, and help me learn I don’t need to do that. I bore my mother’s when Jim died, I bore my high school girlfriend’s when she was kicked out of various foster homes and raped by her sister’s boyfriend. I took on my wife’s when she was under the continuing psychological abuse of her mother and when she miscarried and when her father died. I took on my beautiful artist’s as she dealt with her own childhood traumas and her senses of inadequacy to take care of her own children. This very, very close friend sees that I manifested her — someone who does not need my help — so that I can start to learn and see and grow and change. And so I try.

Yet I am more emotional then ever. A moment ago I was suddenly overcome with grief and gratitude thinking about my ex-wife’s second husband, who died unexpectedly a couple years ago. Grief because she continues to grieve and is in such pain. Gratitude because if we recognize that we actually write our own scripts and that this life was sort of planned out, then that good man chose to spend his last few years with my children’s mother and I am just so grateful for that, grateful to the point of tears. But she doesn’t see it that way and I therefore grieve for her, whether or not I mean to.

Not long before that, half an hour maybe, I was suddenly overcome with grief and loss and fear for my recent ex-partner who is struggling so hard and whose dreams I still can’t help share. We built or tried to build something beautiful and that effort continues, albeit in a modified form, and it still isn’t working out, not quite, though it is getting measurably better. I’m just suddenly filled sometimes with her struggle.

Well, it isn’t mine. It’s hers. Same for my other ex’s. I don’t own any of that shit. Indeed I sacrificed and gave a great deal so they could have a shot at happiness. I didn’t succeed, of course, because no one can make anyone happy. But I put myself into the shit giving it my best shot, and the connections don’t just go away. So I still carry their pain and I still have to learn somehow not to do that.

Love is everywhere. Maybe I attract it because I give it. That’s a nice thought. But my “very, very close friend” loves me and if I were in a place where it made sense to settle down like a hobbit with a happy fat wife and tend to my garden she’d be a top choice. I am not, however. I’m still in love with my artist, as much as I usually deny that (and my wonderfully curvaceous (not fat) friend knows that), and I still carry my kids’ mother’s pain, and I’m still restless. Just last night I was at a party and garnered a lot of admiration from women present (I know that’s comically egotistical but I don’t know how to convince you it’s simply true and I’m not going to describe what it looks like) as well as what you’d have to call real love from a couple of them I’ve had time to become friends with over the past few years. None of that is sexual, strictly speaking, so cut that out. Love seems to fill my life and yet when I’m alone I feel very alone and a day doesn’t pass when I’m not suddenly grieving, I mean ugly-crying, over some damn thing to do with the pain the women I’ve been closest to are still in.

That I couldn’t fix. Imagine that. Pain and trauma and fear aren’t things you can heroically ride in and fix. Who knew?

Anyway, I just remembered my point in starting this was that these sudden crying jags might very well be my way of processing and actually getting rid of these close unhealthy ties. They’re actually part of my healing. I am actually healing. Imagine that. Healing is almost always uncomfortable and we have a tendency to avoid it. It’s easier and less painful in the short term to repeat patterns (especially in relationships, since little else really matters) than it is to somehow heal from our own pain and trauma and break the patterns and move on, so we avoid doing that. But I can be thankful that I’m not avoiding it, if in fact I’m not, and am instead grieving and feeling through my and others’ pain and dare I say it, growing more towards the much better place where I’m meant to be. We’ll see. I might be spouting bullshit. But I’m not sitting still, not at all, so there’s that.

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Bunnies!

s8w2n5208cn01 On New Year’s Eve I set my Facebook cover photo to the last Calvin & Hobbes cartoon. There’s a message in that. So far my last Facebook post has been a profile picture I set on New Year’s Day. My intent is to put my attention elsewhere, or at least put less of it there. Not posting is a way to go about it. I can’t quit anything cold turkey but not posting will encourage fewer notifications.

Today I bought my ticket to Pagan Bunny Burn! It’s the bestest event. Inspired by but better than Burning Man because it’s small and intimate and has the right vibe. Yes, you can party like an idiot but it is family friendly too. People (and bunny) friendly all around. Set in the beautiful oak-covered hills of the Coast Range a couple three hours north of here. That’s cattle ranching country. The owner rents it out to ranchers most of the year. Since it takes place the weekend before Easter, it’s as grass-green and rainbowy as you can get.

Here are pictures a friend of mine took the last couple years. I’m in some of them.

PBB’17 and PBB’18

Excited! So much love. But there’s a lot of life to live before then. This 60th year (all right, 61st if you gotta be technical) has me transforming into a better and more genuine version of me but it’s very uncomfortable not only for the obvious reasons but because I’m in hella straits financially. Part of the new me though is not giving more of a fuck about that than it really deserves. If when I hit the end of my run, my children are doing reasonably well and I have had some stories to tell, then I will have nothing to regret.

Gah

I’m continuing my slow retreat from Facebook. I’d quit completely but a lot of my social life is organized there, and I do enjoy some of the interactions. The problems I have with it are entirely solvable if I apply some discipline.

Yesterday I found something disturbing, though. A “friend” whom I have barely ever met but who is part of the old crowd my cousins hung out with when they were young posted something about that stupid vanity project the 45th Pres wants to shut government down to get, complete with pictures of her old father holding a hundred dollar bill he was going to send in to the crowd-funding campaign. I backed away and came back so many times, full of all kinds of things to say that would have been ill received, from the fact we don’t need any stupid wall to the fact no moneys raised that way can legally be spent by the government on a specific project to the further fact that no one who supports The Creature can also claim to be a patriot etc etc etc. I kept my fingers to myself though and have just moved on. Yay me, but: Gah.

Bears repeating: Gah.

So my relationship with FB is a little unresolved here. So is this blogging thing. To really lead my life I can’t be taking time and energy up reading and writing online in all these various ways. Thing is, some of the best people on there, I know them because of exactly that, of all our self-indulgent nattering away in usenet and back when blogs were the thing. That crowd remains the most engaging. Some of it. A few old high school people are too.

Yeah, I’m still figuring it out. I have a job but am living paycheck to paycheck. No savings, no retirement, credit going south. It’s really a beautiful thing, and I’m not kidding. I just don’t care because I’m confident that things will work out, and meanwhile I’m being forced to focus on what’s really right for me rather than someone else, as I’ve always done. I can’t design just how things will work out but they will. So I’m meaning to focus on doing what I most want — which would have been nice while I was retired and could afford to not work but whatever. I’m luckier than most people regardless.

OK, back to making Christmas presents. See? Better already. (eyeroll thingie)

One a them long rambles

It is a bigger project than usual, and the two guys who usually make up the staff underestimated the sheer volume of work required. I was brought in to design some things, and I did that, but then the shit got under way and the deadline got near and I found myself designing, cutting, welding, assembling, painting, wiring, all sorts of shit, whatever needed doing. Other than having virtually no other life, it’s been great. More workers / friends have been brought in and we’ve had quite the team over the past week, especially this weekend. Tonight I won’t be sleeping at all.

Happy to say though that in spite of the lack of free time I have managed to practice my instrument nearly every day. The universe is clearly in support of me playing my trumpet. The three places I spend all my time — home, work, lady’s house — each have trumpets in them that I can play. I’ve only been at it for a week or two. As with any athletic activity it’s going to take me months to get limbered up enough to perform at all. But the mental side of it is pretty challenging and that means rewarding. So far. We’ll see. I’ll probably get bored soon.

Except I can’t! I want to perform with the stupid thing. Lay some melodies down over dance tracks, maybe, or find a little group that could use a shitty horn player to add character. Anything to remind me that I’m running out of time to do what I actually want.

That’s what it’s all about. I’ve never really configured my life around what I wanted to do. I mean, for the most part I believed I did. But the big relationship being long over, I look back on it as something I should have done with a lot more consciousness over my own needs and interests and not just tried to fix hers and theirs. For the record, though, I look at the period immediately preceding that time as nearly perfect, and would go back to that in a heartbeat. Before that though was marriage and there’s nothing to wish for there. Being a better father. But in hindsight what really would matter is that I did what really resonated with me and by now we all know I did not. Books STILL ain’t been written.

So I like doing art and can get paid for it and I have a relentless ambition to write this book of mine and playing music seems like the closest activity to my soul, but I’m warned against spreading myself too thin and advised to pick ONE thing and be present with it. Nix the distractions. Well, but guess what. I ain’t nixin’ no distractions. I love doing all three things and therefore I have to do all three things. If that means I’ll never get very good at any of them, so be it.

Club

I spent a few hours at my house — checking the roof leak repair, trimming branches, retrieving a few items from the office that I will convert to another rentable bedroom once all the junk is out — and then switched gears to go do a laser-cutting job. But as I drove away, trying yet again to cut all those tendrils and ties trailing behind me, I decided it would be great to find someone downtown and meet for a drink. With social media it’s not hard to discover if any friends are out and about, and the Burner community has given me a nearly inexhaustible supply of people who a) drink and b) tend to be real.

Checking the Book reminded me that it being the last Sunday of the month, there was an event on that one of these friends had instigated. Not a Burner thing at all, just a gathering of good and/or up and coming local DJs, a bar, people. I was happy to go there in my thermal undershirt and jeans that hadn’t been washed in two weeks and just have a beer.

I had three. I talked to several folks, all of whom said they were glad to see me (I’ve been significantly less out there this year). I even danced, or whatever you call it. It was a gay club well set up for weekend shenanigans and the lights and dry-ice steam were in full effect even while the floor never had more than about six people on at a time, while the DJs lurked in silhouette against video screens transitioning images from the organizer’s Burning Man photo gallery.

The club had a melancholy feel for me that I’m getting used to. What was I looking for? Some sort of validation maybe. A break, a reminder that I still am. I enjoyed just seeing certain people, meeting a few more, being called sweetie. I asked a guy about his experience playing sax over EDM. Took note of being vaguely noticed by members of the appropriate gender, as one tends to do automatically and do nothing about. Noticed the gentleman whose appearance and expression and energy suggest a lifetime of not getting noticed, even while he’s at a club that when I was his age would have terrified me. Talked to a DJ friend who somehow rents a small living space at the Port of Oakland and learned he also owns a house up the valley somewhere — he’s the one who brought a world-famous DJ to my birthday party after I was nearly unconscious and most everyone else had left. And then came that moment when, though you could stick around another couple hours and do more of the same, it’s time to go. It just is. So I did.

I had work to do and went to the DIY space just a few blocks away. But drinks are tiring, and after spending more energy than expected refining a design, I didn’t feel like calibrating the machine to the particular woods the client had given me and called it a night. Freeway. Rented bedroom. Dim the lights.

2018-11-25 17.51.44-1-1

House

Thanksgiving was at the old house. The house I lived in when we all met and argued out there on usenet. The house my wife and I built. The house I moved out of in 2010 and later paid off and signed over as part of the divorce. 3800sf / 1.25 acres. Zillows out at about $900k at present.

I’ve given away a lot. If I hadn’t needed to go (long story there, ever changing) I’d be a paper millionaire now and probably a real one too. I’d have that property and all my retirement and some investment gains as well. Instead I’m grateful for the mistakes that have me renting most of my house out to a family I care about, living in a rented room at a friend’s house, and counting pennies to keep both paid for. Yee haw.

It was, always is, surreal to go back and visit. After having gotten accustomed to this decaying suburb that still hasn’t recovered from the closure of the air base in 1993, my old house looks huge. Surrounded by surprisingly mature gardens, it has a great look and huge rooms and a shit-ton of memories. I was looking at it with a little bit of awe. I used to live here? I built this place? I gave this place away? That last line is always good for a laugh. I just don’t care about money at this time so chuckling is easy. Just not entirely without irony and a little sadness.

Or a lot. Watching my sons and their mother interact in the kitchen brought me to tears. She laughed a lot and that was a beautiful sight, as her second husband died less than a year and a half ago. The boys were as hilarious as ever. My mother was fully engaged. The food was good. It was a potent reminder that old times were good times by and large, and that I’m only better off in terms of memories and perspective. That’s enough.

Grateful

At Thanksgiving my turn came to share what I was thankful for. It went something like this.

“This may seem weird but I’m thankful for the mistakes I’ve made. I’ve made a lot of them, some big ones. But I’m done freaking out about it and have realized that every mistake was a learning opportunity. I’ve learned from some of them. So either I learn something and rise to a new place where I can make new mistakes, or I don’t and I make the same mistakes again. Either way, I’m grateful for the opportunity.”

I have a very different outlook than I did six months or a year ago, at least I think so, and the mistakes I’ve been making are surely a reason why. (They’re also partly why I’m more politically liberal since as we all know, the more real life experience you have the more liberal you get. I mean if you care about people, random people, people in general, and/or old age hasn’t turned your brain into a rock. That’s a big If. Though if you don’t want taxes levied to help people mainly because you think people should take care of themselves, that goes back to inexperience.)

ANYway, that’s what I said. I was gonna write next about the homeless couple that spent the night, but ten minutes is long enough for a writing session.

Smoke

Since my social life has shrunk to a fraction of what it used to be and my life to a constant scheming to make ends meet, I mostly only know what’s on people’s minds because of my Facebook feed. These days a lot of people are commenting on air quality and the efficacy of various face masks, and posting pictures of a sky that resembles the pall over L.A. before government finally listened to all the whining liberals and created the CA Air Resources Board and later the EPA (signed into law by those flaming socialists Gov. Reagan and Pres. Nixon). I don’t contribute, because the devastating fire in Butte County isn’t about me and my precious comfort, but I find it interesting. We as a people seem to be divided up into four camps.

  • People who are able to leave town and stay somewhere out of range, which would mean either Hawaii or up in the mountains, being as the Valley, the Bay Area, and parts of Southern California all smell like Christmas gone wrong;
  • People who cough and complain and wish they didn’t have to work and who trade advice on face masks;
  • People (like me) who don’t say anything, a large proportion of whom I imagine to be people who have to work outside and wish everyone else would just shut up;
  • People who are taking or creating days off and going up to Chico to provide supplies and help and assistance and comfort to the thousands, literally thousands, of people who in one terrifying moment lost everything and are spending this cold autumn in tents and in the shock and denial of survival mode.

I admire the latter. I’m not one. I really need to work, every day, which is itself an interesting phenomenon, because I landed a job whose deadlines demand a lot of work right now yet I have complete discretion over my time and am still finding it an adjustment to move towards working so much and away from taking care of all these other truly countless loose ends. I’m also not one because while I’ve always been a rescuer type I’m really trying to break that pattern and I’m afraid if I went up to help I’d just go broke being useless. I’m also told that as an empath I’d find it overwhelming, but to be honest I’m not certain about this empath business. I feel it and all but I also care about people and have a hell of an imagination and have fooled myself many a time into helping where it doesn’t really help.

So when I go outside and see and smell the sky my first and only thought is that I am witnessing a few particulates of what use to be a family home filled with heirlooms. All other thoughts are just smoke.

Re-Wr

Though it ain’t necessary, I feel drawn to redraw a picture. I wrote earlier about an adventure, and I’m conscious that it’s the sort of adventure some people would wish for, and this makes it a brag; or if I claim otherwise, then disingenuous. But the tale was not about how great I am, or conquest, or anything to do with my ego. Well, a little bit. But while it was a big deal to me and I wanted to share it, because the real dishonesty is in not sharing when you want to for fear of what people will think, the deal wasn’t about how great I am. It was about how little I know, and how grateful I am to be exposed to learning.

In other words, the memory as some sort of fantasy come true fades before the longer memory of a set of unexpected lessons. Because it is not about sex or youth or checklists.

They met because they were empaths who sensed energy, good positive energy. One of them was walking, sensed it, stopped, looked, and they met. This is just how I met S many years ago. She sensed my energy and drifted to me on the dance floor. It was another twenty minutes before I noticed but from that moment it was beautiful. No words, perfect understanding.

They talked and in time T asked, May I kiss you? She surprised herself saying this. There was nothing sexual about it. It was in that moment a natural next step in their exploration of a new connection. A fearless exploration because they were both strong women with bright clear visions. They knew. There’s no fear in knowing.

Surely it grew sexual from there, because while clothed in human form that’s what we often do with such energy. And T is an opportunist and took K by the hand and started walking and K did not resist. They found a place and merged.

My participation was ancillary. Welcome, for reasons that sound egotistical. But far from central. And at the end, there was a lot of gratitude to all from all for openness, love, light, acceptance … well, all the things. I remember wishing at the time I could record this unique conversation between two highly spiritual and very powerful women because, you know, I might write someday. But I couldn’t. If I ever write about it I’ll have to reinvent the words.

Anyway. I don’t know if this additional little writeup serves any purpose. I’ll just go with it as is.