Saturday, November 23, 2013

Holiday Entertaining Tips for the Socially Ineffective

If you’re throwing a holiday soiree, and you know you want to, even if it’s just you and your dog, there are several things you’ll want to ensure you’ve considered to make it the best soiree you’ve ever had, especially if you haven’t had any.

1. Only invite people you like. If these same people are also the ones most likely to show up with gifts for you, even better.

2. Only invite people who like you. People who don’t like you are may just decline, which will cause you to feel bad, or they may attend, and spend the entire time insulting you. This is fun for neither you nor your other guests.

3. Consider the dietary habits of your guests. If they only eat organic free range cookies baked that day, do not offer them a plastic tray of grocery store cookies.

4. Provide a variety of liquid refreshments, including wine, all colors, several different hand crafted beers, juice, water, both plain and fizzy, sodas, both regular and diet and zero, and hot chocolate, and mulled cider. And mulled wine. Mulled anything.

5. Make sure you have plenty of peppermint schnapps on hand for the hot chocolate.

6. Post a sign on your front door that states unacceptable behaviors. Example: fighting, politics, religion, school districts, slurping, double dipping, teasing the dog, and spending inordinate amounts of time in the bathroom.

7. Offer to hang up your guests’ coats when they come in, unless you’ve chosen to keep the temperature chilly.

8. Provide entertainment. You with a lampshade on your head does not count.

9. Introduce your guests to each other. This is especially important if you’ve invited people you don’t know, which goes against tips 1 and 2, but it happens.

10. Ensure you have a safe place to hang out in case fighting breaks out. This could be your any room that has a lock on it.

By following these simple tips, you can have a stress free fabulous soiree, one that your guests will remember fondly and that you will be happy to have in the past.

Friday, November 15, 2013

A Friday Story

I love Fridays. I’m not sure why, since I often end them by saying to self, “Self, you didn’t get enough done, and now you’re going to have to work tomorrow!”

I don’t always work tomorrow when I say I will, but I’ve had some health issues that have been annoying me and I use them as an excuse. I’m all about using excuses to get out of work.

I’m also all about calling myself lazy when I’m not, but that goes back to some of the early lies, the ones where I was told I was lazy and sneaky and a bitch. Those lies lodged in my brain in a back corner where it’s really dusty and the inventory has never been inventoried, so not only is there no telling what all is back there, it’s also hard to get what is in there out again.

For my accounting friends, it’s all LIFO in there. Last in, first out, as opposed to first in, first out. There’s so much last in to get out first that I never get back to the first in, so it molders back there, huge steaming piles of shit that aren’t reflective of who I am.

Does anyone else have this problem? Does anyone else keep the remnants of the early lies lodged in their brain?

This hasn’t been a story yet.

Once, when I was young and believed what people said to me and my father and stepmother were still getting accustomed to having all their children living together, my stepmother started yelling at me for being sneaky and lying and a bitch. I was, what 11? 12? One of those ages where one can be really sneaky and evil. I hadn’t meant to be sneaky, or lying, or anything else. I was just trying to survive day-to-day, but I wasn’t the most intuitive kid, and I didn’t know that stepmom and dad weren’t talking . . . to each other. Oh, they were talking, but not to each other, and that little detail went right over my head.

So when I told my dad when my grandparents were coming to pick me up, I thought I was telling both of them, as if he would let her know.

A day or so later stepmom asked if there had been any changes in the plans, and I, being the oblivious one, said no.

Except she didn’t know about the original plans.

I may have this whole story wrong. It’s hard to tell after a few years.

But stepmom lost it, and because I was such a sneaky lying bitch, my dad was blamed for having brought me up to be such a heathen. As if he could help my secretive bitchy psyche! There was screaming and yelling and general mayhem. There may have been furniture flying, I don’t know.

Here’s the awesome part of the story: my older half-sister and my older step-sister, who was halfway between my half-sister and me in age, decided this wasn’t working for us, and the two of them took me away from the madhouse for the day. My oldest sister could drive, being a grown up and all, and so we left the parents to their madness. I wasn’t used to being taken with them – they were older and cool, and I was the youngest girl (but not the youngest child – there were boys of varying ages around, but they had their own private hangout back behind the garage), and I had been a disappointment to my stepsister when she found out I was 4 years younger and boring. But they looked after me.

What I should remember from that time is that my sisters cared enough about me to take me out of there, and that at a particularly low point they were looking after me. I shouldn’t even remember being called a sneaky lying bitch because that wasn’t the important part, was it? That was the part that should have faded away as soon as stepmom said it, but it wasn’t the first time, nor the last, so the repetition of it made it stick. That’s how I learned accounting – repetition.

I chip away at it. Sometimes I get back in there where it’s all dusty and it makes me sneeze, and I pull at a piece of nonsense, like the piece that says I’m stupid, and I tug at it, and sometimes I fall on my ass trying to get it out of there. Afterwards, as I stumble back toward the light, I may feel lighter, if I got any of it out, or I don’t, because the piece was tougher than I was, and I may wonder why bother? Why not just let those pieces stay there? Maybe they’re a permanent part of me because maybe they’re true.

But I go back in anyway. I’m just as stubborn as I am bitchy, and I don’t want those pieces to be part of me, as charming as living the past sounds. It’s just not for me.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Sleeping With The Dog

When I woke up this morning, far too early as usual, there was a handsome man on one side of me and a furry dog on the other side. It’s like waking up in heaven, except for the excess hair. I’m not sure heaven is as furry as my life with a dog.

When I fell asleep last night Ash was on my pillow, making those cute sleeping dog sounds that only a dog can make. Sometime during the night he left my pillow, probably sleeping at the foot of the bed, or on the floor. At 4 am he woke me by standing next to the bed and giving me the stare. He never says anything, he doesn’t have to.

No one ever hears him except me, and that’s because he doesn’t have to say anything.

We got up, went downstairs, and I let him outside. He did his dog thing out there, and came right back. It was a lovely early morning, though as far as I could tell it was still the middle of the night. But the air is fall air, and even in the dark I can tell the color of the air has changed now that it’s fall.

When he came back in we went back upstairs, because I was half asleep still and intended to become fully asleep again. I went right back to sleep, not knowing what Ash was doing. He doesn’t get into any trouble, not like when he was little.

The reason he sleeps on my pillow is because when he first came to live with us he could fit in one of my hands, just a tiny little guy with black soft fur. He was disarmingly cute and harmless, and by disarmingly, I mean, he could destroy pretty much anything, and did. He could not be left unsupervised. This was when a crate would come in handy, and he did have one, and we used it, but at night I’d let him curl up next to me, and he’d sleep that way all night. It kept him out of trouble, and if he left the bed I’d wake up and capture him before having to replace anything of significant value.

In theory.

Eventually he grew out of the phase where he eats everything in sight (including more than one pair of glasses, a wall, and kitchen cabinets), but he never grew out of the phase where he falls asleep close to us, even though he’s now 68 pounds of dog.

Anytime I need to lay down during the day, which is often because sometimes I’m in pain, and sometimes I’m tired, he jumps up next to me, and if he thinks I’m not paying attention he’ll snuggle up against my side, or he’ll put his head on the pillow next to me, the pillow the handsome husband usually uses, but only at night, and he’ll look at me with those eyes that are sometimes brown, sometimes as black as his coat, and he’ll fall asleep. He’ll sleep with me as long as I want him to, as long as it takes, or until he needs to go outside, whichever comes first.

And at night he falls asleep above my head, and sometimes, when I’m lying in bed reading before sleep, his head, which is really really hard, will come crashing against mine and his head will come to rest next to mine, so he can feel me next to him while he sleeps. When he’s awake he may put his head on top of mine, an advantageous perch to see what’s going on, and he rests it there as if he’s a part of me.

This morning when I woke up and found him next to me, stretched out, his head on my pillow, he was sound asleep, as was the other occupant of the bed. They’re both sound sleepers, so this happens frequently. I tried to reach down to pull up the other blanket, but I couldn’t move. And so I said to Ash, “Move, will ya?” But he just kept sleeping, and so I pushed him just a bit, and I grabbed the blanket, and he just kept sleeping.

I read while they slept, comfortable and warm with my guys, the only sound their barely discernible breathing.

Sometimes I shake one of them just to make sure they’re still breathing, but usually I just let them sleep.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Stepfather's Death

Recently I attended a funeral for a lovely man who married my mother years ago. Then they buried him next to my mother.

We didn’t get along well for many years – by the time I met him I was already married, and living overseas, so it’s not as if knew him as a stepfather. When I had first called my mother and told her I was getting married (at the altogether unreasonable age of 19 to a man I barely knew), my mother, who was in a relationship with the man she would later marry (we can call him Jerry, because that was his name), said, “I don’t want to get married again. I’m happy with things the way they are.”

“Fabulous!” I said, or I didn’t, but I was a traditionalist, partly from having seen both of my parents do the multiple marriage thing. Several years after I married, far from family and with just two drunk witnesses, my mother announced that she and Jerry were indeed getting married.

I find this often happens after I get married. Suddenly people who were happy with the status quo just minutes ago decide to change it. Probably because I make such a fantastic looking bride.

They had the church wedding of Mom’s dreams, and I was there, running around like a crazy person, organizing and putting people in their proper places, because no one else was stepping up to do it. That’s me – show me something that’s not being handled, and I start handling it.

That was my Mom’s fourth marriage, and last. It’s nice when they find someone and settle down, isn’t it?

When they retired they moved to Montana and began an idyllic life amongst nature. Since they were from LA, this was a major change, but they loved it.

I’ve always been the difficult child. Obstreperous, imperious, demanding, wanting people to like me while simultaneously shoving them away because I knew they’d let me down in the end. So my family relationships were usually difficult – I know my Mom tried to like me, and I’m sure Jerry did too, for her sake, but I didn’t make things any easier. My siblings were better received, and that irritated me, which made it worse.

But it all works out in the end, doesn’t it? When my mother got cancer (or came down with cancer, or contracted cancer) I started making trips to visit, driving from here to there in a day, unless I blew a tire (once), or ran into a deer (once), and then I would stay overnight in Spokane or wherever the poor deer had died, and finish the trip the next day. I’d stay and help out as I could, which mostly consisted of visiting with Mom, because there wasn’t anything to do. Jerry had become Husband Of The Year in one fell swoop. He waited on her hand and foot, made sure she had whatever she needed and wanted, and treated her with the most tender loving care.

This made me most happy.

When Mom died I was there, and my sister was there. I called to her from Mom’s bedside, and she came in, and then we got Jerry from upstairs, where my sister had insisted he go to get some rest.

I’d like to not ever see that kind of grief on someone’s face again.

Jerry has four kids of his own, so between them he had 7. I made a few trips to Montana after Mom’s death, by myself, to help him to deal with Mom’s things. I spent days in her office – she kept everything she’d ever received. On another trip we dealt with her clothes, and with other artifacts. Once my husband and I visited as part of a vacation, just to spend some time with him.

For one visit on my own I had taken the train – my husband was worried about ability to have incidents on the way. But somehow I injured my knee, and after only a few hours of work in Mom’s office, I couldn’t stand on it, nor could I move it. We took me to a doctor, who confirmed it was my patella – I’m not put together particularly well, and often things don’t work as they should.

Jerry wanted to take care of me after that. He wanted to feed me (which he’d been doing anyway), and he wanted me to rest, and he would take care of everything else. This was the side of him that I’d seen when my Mom was sick. I almost considered hanging out with him for a few days just so my every need could be met while he doted over me.

When Jerry died I wasn’t there. His children were with him, at least some of them, but the last time I talked to him he was happy. He had gone to Oklahoma, where his son lived, to get treatment for the cancer that had returned, but he came down with pneumonia, and his cancer had spread. He went into assisted living from the hospital. I’d call and talk with him, and while at first he talked of going back to Montana, he soon realized that wouldn’t happen. One of the last times I talked to him he was happy, said he was playing bingo, which he’d never played before, and he had a lift to his voice.

Maybe he was happy he’d be with the love of his life again.

It was a really beautiful day for a funeral. I miss him, but I know he’s no longer missing my Mom, so that comforts me.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Failure Is An Option

I’m sorry to be the one to say this, but failure isn’t the worst thing that can happen to us. Not only that, I’ve found that it IS an option! I have a long history of failure, dating back to when I was learning to walk, and fell down. Oh sure, I caught on eventually, so it wasn’t a permanent failure, but I have had plenty of permanent failures, the sort that come back to haunt me later, even when I’ve put it behind me.

At my age, you get used to that sort of thing.

How else was I going to find out how many things I wasn’t suited for, if I hadn’t tried and failed? Turns out I’m not really suited for much. I’m not one of those people (you know the people I mean) who have great success in a variety of fields and can expound at length on a variety of topics. I’m not, for example, at all suited for being any kind of employee. I tried it many times before it sunk in that I’m unemployable.

Not that I don’t earn a living, because I do, but I certainly don’t do it as an employee.

When I was in college studying English I thought, “This is fun! I can be a writer! Of course I can. So can half the population, the literate half, anyway, so I’m not claiming anything that most people can’t do.

Then when I was in college studying accounting I thought, “This is fun! I can be an accountant!” And I could, but it turns out, I wasn’t on my way to anything the least bit impressive, despite my expectations, though it turns out I am pretty good at fixing things.

“Fixing things” is not in and of itself a career. It’s useful, and I find it comes in handy, though I do need to point out that the things I can fix are not physical things. I can fix numbers, and words, and I can fix inconsistencies to make them consistent, and I can get everything in some sort of order.

Along the way to finding what I was good at I tried selling things, and failed miserably, and I tried being an employee and a manager and a variety of things, all of which ended without me making any sort of impression on anyone anywhere. Eventually most things were not what I wanted.

I wish I had been a scientist, but I think I’d have to be smarter.

So many times we want to blame ourselves when things don’t go as well as we’d hoped, whether it’s our fault or not our fault or no one’s fault. I failed. I wasn’t perfect. I made a mistake. I blame myself for anything that goes wrong pretty much anywhere, which gives me far more power than I could ever really have. You might think this is irrational, but I never claimed to always be rational. I carry with me heavy expectations, perhaps because no one ever expected much from me, and I fail to meet those expectations most days. It’s very exhausting.

Today my husband’s computer quit shortly after he started work. Without a computer, he can’t work, since it’s all remote. He took it to the computer repair shop, to the guy who knows what to do, and later he said to me, “I just keep wondering what I did to it.”

My husband is charming and smart and fabulous, but sometimes he says silly things.

“Maybe it broke,” I said, “Sometimes things break because nothing lasts forever.”

The computer guy verified my supposition. Sometimes things break, and sometimes people fail.

But it doesn’t make us a failure. We can fail every day, and it still doesn’t make us a failure.

I fail regularly. I fail spectacularly, and I fail without fail.

Sometimes I don’t fail, so that last may not be exactly true. It may be a bit of hyperbole, which is one thing that I rely on heavily. I’m working on using it in my favor instead of against myself, but it’s an ongoing sort of battle.

There’s one thing I can say for failure. My high rate of failure does indicate that I’ve at least been active in trying things, which is, so I hear, a good thing. I’m not pleased about the high rate of failure, but I’m still here, and I keep going because, as I said to a friend today, it’s easier than jumping off a building.

(Which is actually way more work than it looks like. First, there’s finding the building. And it just gets worse from there.)

So on with failure! And every time I fail, that’s something else I can put behind me, and maybe not do again. I say maybe, because I also excel at repeating my failures because I’m 1) stubborn, and 2) a slow learner.

Keep doing stuff. Sometimes you’ll fail and sometimes you won’t. Sometimes it’ll be your fault and sometimes it won’t. And after you fail, it’s okay to withdraw and lick your wounds for, oh, twenty minutes or so. You don’t have much time because then it’s time to move on.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Mental Illness, Death, Life

Five years ago today I stood at the bedside of Stew Young and held his head while he died.

That sounds overly dramatic and sad, when I say it like that. How about this:

Five years ago today I had a very bad day. For Stew, it was the last very bad day in a long line of them.

After years of living with mental illness, it was cancer that got him. I’m never sure if I should be participating in cancer walks or mental illness walks. Stew would find that amusing.

But Stew should not be remembered as the guy with a mental illness, or the guy with cancer. Those were not his primary traits, those were things that happened to him, and those things don’t tell us anything about him. None of us are defined by the things that happen to us, by the illnesses and accidents and events that distract us as we go from here to there. We are not those things.

Stew was a writer. He co-authored the book we wrote, though it wasn’t published until several years after his death. The delay was my fault, not his. He was a good writer, but not, as he would happily concede, as good as me. I’m not sure that’s grammatically correct, but I said I was a good writer, not an excellent one. We would argue about comma placement, punctuation being one of the ways we kept the rules of the world straight.

He made me laugh. Even when things were at their worst and I didn’t know how I was going to pay both the rent and utilities, not to mention his meds, he would make me laugh. It helped me get through the times he wasn’t all there with me, when his mind would be in such chaos that he couldn’t function at all, when he could only think of harming himself, or when there was no expression at all. I always had hope that the person he was would come back out and he would make me laugh again, and he always did.

The laughter was often in relief, but still, we take what we can get.

He had an amazing relationship with his parents. When they couldn’t understand his illness, because they had no experience of it, they learned everything they could. They were always supportive of him, of me too, and all they wanted was the son they knew to come back from wherever he’d gone. And Stew just wanted to make them proud. He did, of course, because they loved him no matter what – it wasn’t conditional upon anything.

Stew was intelligent, so very intelligent. His dream job was to analyze data and make it into something meaningful. Or being a screenwriter. One or the other. Something other than the crazy guy on disability. He was politically conservative (to my dismay), loved corporations and big pharma (who he credited with keeping him from complete destruction), and loved to debate online.

He loved our dog, Honey, though when she first moved in he thought, because of her inherent Chowness and love of me, that it wouldn’t work out. But of course it did, and when she stayed with him she slept on his bed, and he would do anything for her. She gave him a sense of responsibility, and she gave him a reason to go out when he mostly wanted to hide from the world. But the dog had to be walked, and though he’d often come back and tell me of the things he’d seen that didn’t really exist, it was good for him.

He’d learned to live with the hallucinations, and later on they subsided. The voices were worse because they told him things no one should have to hear, and fighting voices coming from inside one’s head is so much harder than those coming from another person. It’s hard when you can’t tell if it’s you or them, when they’re telling you that you deserve to die and you know it’s not you, but the voices are inside of you, and they’re demons.

I can’t imagine it. The voices telling me I’m unworthy were implanted long ago, and I know, mostly, that while they’re a part of me, they’re not necessarily accurate.

Sometimes he forgot that life wasn’t all bad, and so I’d watch, and wait, and when he laughed or smiled or was having a good moment I’d turn on him and say, “Hah! Look at that!” It was so easy for him to forget that in a life filled with pain, there were still plenty of shiny happy moments. There was still the light bouncing off the Sound, the dog who would let you cuddle with her, books to read, pizza, watching me eat crab (which he always found amusing), and even the dark clouds of a Seattle day, heavy with rain and the promise of a good cleansing. He loved the dark grey days.

He loved his family, his friends, his dogs, and me. Later, he loved my new husband. That’s how he was –he wanted me to be happy. He always wanted that, no matter what happened between us. When people rejected him because of his illness he would react with anger, because it made him sad. Stew was always willing to help people, always seeing the good side of people. He fought his battles the best he could, and he had plenty of battles to fight.

A day or so before he died he told me he was afraid of doing it wrong. Of dying, that is, as if there’s a right way and a wrong way, as if the process should come with some sort of instruction manual. That’s how he was, he wanted to do things the right way, the proper way. I told him that he was going do it just fine, that there was no wrong way to go about it, and that so far, he’d done everything just right.

Sometimes just doing things the only way we know how is the only right way.

No one with mental illness is just that person with mental illness. It’s just something that happened to them.

It’s what we do with what happens to us that matters.

Stew wrote because he wanted people with mental illness to know they weren’t alone, and he wanted people without mental illness to know what it was like. He wanted to increase our awareness, and he wanted others to not have to go through some of the things he did.

But mostly he liked people to be happy, and he liked to laugh and get others to laugh. He loved his family and his friends. That was his thing. On this day I remember him for his life, not his death. It was his life that mattered, and death was just something that happened to him.

Laugh. Be happy. Look for the rays of light.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Panic Attack

There’s still a hollow feeling in my chest, a sort of numbness and a tingling, but the tingling is so muted that I’m not really sure it’s there.

I swear I was fine this morning. Or as fine as can be expected.

I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed, if you must know, but not any more than usual, and I’ve been pretty damn happy lately, even with the depression lurking in the background. It sits back there, coming out when I’m really stressed, or grieving, or in pain. Mostly I keep it at bay, thanks to pharmaceuticals, a happy family life, good friends, and a really accommodating dog. (And the now gone dog, Honey, who I must mention because it feels wrong not to.)

But I’m good. Occasionally something trips me up, because that’s how life works, and that’s how I know I’m doing stuff. If I never did anything, nothing would happen, good or bad. I’m just doing my thing, trying to remember my place in the world, and that I have one.

My technology was not being cooperative today. Sometimes that happens. That’s no big deal. But the good news was, I didn’t need to call the IRS for a client after all! So yay! Just another day of working in the office. No appointments, so I can get some real work done, a dog sleeping at my feet, my husband in the next office, and the world doing what it does.

Suddenly, like a thunderclap but without the noise, there’s nothing left. There’s just darkness, and I’m falling down a hole that doesn’t appear to end. My heart does its own thing, it’s no longer a part of me, it beats furiously, trying to escape its cage.

And I know with absolute certainty that nothing will ever be okay again.

I can’t talk, not at first. I get up and go into the hallway, and my husband looks up from his desk and says, “What’s wrong?” and I can’t tell him because not only do I not know, but also because I can’t talk, I just want to cry and not stop.

I do know what’s wrong, everything is wrong, the world is a mess, and I’m a mess, and what am I even doing here?

So much drama for such a little panic attack.

A lot of people I know have had them, and they are never little. They are never undramatic. They are scary and big and overwhelming. They can lurk around before emerging full blown, tiny spiders running around the rim of our consciousness, or they can come out suddenly, with no warning. They can happen when we’re happy, and when we’re not.

They can feel like a heart attack, or, in my case, like a major depressive episode coming on like a freight train. The ground shakes, the rails rattle, and there’s that bright headlight blinding me to anything but the crumbling of my world.

And then it starts to pass, and when the freight train is about halfway past me I can talk again, even though there’s sound and vibration still passing me by, and then it’s gone, leaving behind the vast emptiness, the stillness that’s only outside of me, and silence.

It takes time for my heart to calm, for my mind to settle, for my perspective to return. It takes time. But everything will be okay, even if I’m still not quite certain of that.

Everything will be okay.

Monday, May 6, 2013

It's Been Awhile

It is now May of 2013 and somehow the last six months just slipped away, falling down the slippery slope of life. Isn’t that always the way?

Not always, of course. It’s just a phrase I like to throw in to pretend I’m saying something profound when I’m not.

We spent much of the winter running a doggie hospice, which in itself was exhausting, but what else are you going to do? When the dog in question gets to be 15 and just can’t keep up her end of the agreement, made when she was 3 or so, which was that she would live forever, and starts her slow decline, it’s just what you do.

When we made that agreement, she and I, she promised she would keep up her end of it. Her promise was unspoken, because she was a dog, and dogs, even in my world, don’t talk, but still, I’m pretty sure she made it.

Or maybe not. She probably just promised to do the best she could, and so she did.

We are not alone in this – I know far too many people who have lost loved ones this year, one way or another.

I’m not supposed to equate the loss of a pet with the loss of a human, because everyone knows that pets are not on par with humans. And so I won’t. Anyway, they’re so different. Pets are often furry, and humans are sometimes not. Sometimes they are. Not usually. Depends on the human. (I realize that many people have non-furry pets, such as fish and snakes and the hairless varieties of dogs . . . ) Pets are nonjudgmental. So are the humans I hang out with, mostly. If they start being judgmental I do my disappearing act (patent pending). Pets, unlike humans other than my husband, can sleep in my bed with me. This comes in handy when the next ice age hits Portland and our heat has been turned off.

Will come in handy, I should say. It hasn’t happened quite yet.

Pets are also predictable. Every time I come home, whatever dog(s) are around come running, as if I’m the great benevolent dictator, which I am. On the other hand, I’ve had people run out of rooms upon my entrance, as if they had just remembered a very important meeting. You know the feeling, right? You walk in somewhere, see someone you know, start to walk over to them to say hi, and he or she gets a wary look in his or her eye, as if I’m about to hit him or her up for money, mumbles something about having to be somewhere, and rushes out, clutching his or her pocketbook as if his or her life depended on it.

This never ever happens with pets. Unless I’ve threatened to give a bath, but even at that, they can’t get far, since they have yet to master the intricacies of the door knob.

(And isn’t this something to be grateful for? Dogs who can open doors is not something we need in our world, though it does sound fun.)

Pets are awesome, if you’re into that sort of thing.

So we survived the failing health and death of a much loved dog. There goes months, right there. It’s exhausting, knowing the end is coming inexorably, even if slowly. Then there’s the work. So much work to do. Fortunately a few clients have been accommodating in removing themselves, thereby freeing up more time for me to work on newer clients. I think everyone should change whoever’s doing their books every so often.

I’m thinking of having someone else do mine, but so far I haven’t found anyone who will work for free.

So between dogs and work and putting things off (like mammograms and dentist visits and healthy eating and more time on the bike), it’s been about all I can do to get this far.

Oh! And I gave up writing. Just stopped altogether. THAT was a huge time suck. It’s amazing how much time can be spent on NOT doing something.

It may not be a permanent thing though. Sure, I said it was, but I say a lot of things that aren’t true.

(For example, last week I said I was going to accomplish A, B, C, and D, but I only got as far as A. This week I plan on completing B, C, D and E.)

I’ve sort of decided that I’d rather have less work and more time to write, though writing can be work, can’t it? It IS work. But it’s work that doesn’t involve the IRS, at least not the way I do it. (Which is to say, not profitably.) So I’m working on that idea.

We’ll see. I had so many things I wanted to do, and then I found out, much to my disappointment, that I couldn’t do all of them, at least not all at once. But that’s always been my way – big ideas, little follow through.

Maybe I’ll just start with some little things first.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Year of Change

I didn’t want to fall into this trap, but here I am anyway. It’s 2013, and I’m having a very hard time sticking to my decision of several months ago to not write anymore. I have given it up, I don’t do it anymore.

No more writing for me! I have given it up in favor of pursuing my lifelong dream of being a numbers person.

Okay, that hasn’t been a lifelong dream, perhaps, but it’s what I do. Fortunately, I’m good at it, and though I used to say I was a better writer than an accountant, I think I may have proven myself wrong. It could be that I’m a better accountant. Or a better something that I have not yet figured out.

I have an accountant personality, which isn’t stereotypical, despite the stereotype, but I am. Forgotten when I’ve left the room, boring. This isn’t a bad thing, because it makes it possible for me to conduct covert ops without anyone suspecting me. I may be good at that, I don’t know. I have little experience with covert ops. This is the great sadness of my life. It’s one thing to say, “I want to work with numbers when I grow up!” which I never once said when growing up, another thing altogether to say, “I want to be a writer when I grow up!” which I always said, though I never really did much about it, and “I want to be a spy when I grow up!” which would enable a lot of skills I don’t possess. Other than being stealthy. My stepmother called it being a sneaky bitch, and since she was an expert in bitchiness, she would know.

She’s dead now, along with my parents, and my grandparents, and anyone who ever expected me to Make Something of Myself Despite The Odds, so there’s no one left to impress. This is just as well, since I had plenty of years to do so and never did.

Chances aren’t looking good it’s going to happen anytime soon. And this is my biggest wish: I want to not care. I want to not care that I’m marginally good at a couple of things, like books and books. And self-pity. And depression! I’m so excellent at depression. But I’m working on it. Modern pharmaceuticals are so amazing for that. (Though they aren’t enough, it’s an ongoing project with myself, I can’t count on pharmaceuticals or my natural disposition to carry me through, I have to work at it all the time, because I do not want to be in that pit – it’s dark and scary and cold, and I like the light.)

Here’s the thing. I’m a happy person. I have a great life, the best husband (EVER!), great dogs (though one is teetering on the abyss of old age and . . . well, whatever comes next), a place to live, plenty of work, mad skills, and a multitude of amazing friends, some of whom would love me even if I had no talent at all. (Which is fortunate, since I’m not altogether convinced I do have any.) Life is good.

I lost a couple of friends this past year. Not lost, as in, they died, but as in, they decided that they didn’t want anything to do with me. Which is sad . . . for them. And for me, because of course I’m going to think it’s because I’m an awful person, but I’m really not. Or am I?

I want to be that happy person and not care about the writing. I think I can manage the being happy part, it’s pretty fun being happy, but I’m still not convinced about the writing thing. As in, can I just leave it behind and do something else more rewarding? Not that writing isn’t rewarding, emotionally, but it’s mostly for me, after all, and it’s a lot of work for something that’s just for me. I’d like to do something easier that’s just for me. I’m tired of not being very good at anything in particular. I am very good at being a dog mom, and at . . . . well, books that involve numbers. And reading. I’m pretty good at reading. And cussing when necessary.

I’m rambling, which gives further evidence of my lack of focus. If I were a writer, I would need to be able to focus. My lack of focus is why I have multiple clients – I can focus on each one for a limited amount of time. But a book – that requires sustained focus on one thing, and I don’t know if I have another one in me. Parts of books, sure. I’ve got lots of parts.

For 2013, I want to work on my job, the thing that people pay me for, and I want to help people, and I want to live a happy life. And eat lots of tacos. I have a fondness for tacos. There’s so many things I want to do, things that are fun, things that are far more rewarding than writing.

I’m okay the way I am. That’s my goal for 2013 – to be okay the way I am.