The Lady Doth Protest Too Much…But not Really

I was thinking earlier about how of late I keep saying, “I actually love being single most of the time!” and how that probably comes off as a defense mechanism. I mulled it over to see whether I really do feel this way or whether deep down I still think a solitary life is useless.

Trying to imagine someone else living here with me is almost impossible. I’ve been basically single for ten years now, with a few minor quasi-relationships along the way. The last thing I had that could have been called any kind of relationship at all ended the day before Thanksgiving in 2006, so it’s been a long time. And barring a couple of long-term houseguests, I’ve lived alone for a decade now (literally; my ex moved out in March 2002).  I try to think what it would be like and I just can’t feel it, even though when I got together with my ex-husband he did indeed move in with me in a place where I was already established.

I can’t really adequately explain how I feel internally freer without a partner; I would say it’s because of my own psychological or emotional weaknesses that I prefer to be own my own, mostly. For instance — religion. When my husband I got together, I was in the process of joining the Episcopal Church. He moved here in August and I was confirmed in October. We were married in that church the following August. In the last year of our marriage I was in RCIA and I was received into the RCC a couple of weeks after he split. (That was not a joyous Easter, regardless, I must say.)  Obviously, I kept him in the loop and tried to explain my wandering ways to him, but that was sort of uncomfortable for me. And it would have been even worse if, say, he’d been a devout Anglican. Right now, as I float around churchwise, not exactly sure what I’m doing or where I will end up but doing a lot of reading and praying and thinking, I find it so comforting that I don’t have to explain myself to anyone, or feel guilty if I don’t explain myself to anyone.

(Actually, I kinda dread religious conversations with my family, as well, but I can avoid them a lot more easily.)

So that’s an example of a way in which I find it so much less stressful to be on my own than with someone. It’s not just the sharing of space or the negotiating about money or other logistical, practical things, but the bigger, deeper, more sweeping things as well.

Annnnnnd this probably just again points to how I never found someone I was in enough sync with to want to share that much with all the time. Or else that I just am not cut out to do it. One or ‘tother.

But in any case, I think the reason I keep saying “Wow! I really quite like this!” is “no zealot like a convert.”  OMG I HAZ SEEN THE LIGHT! Also, it’s an immense relief after about thirty-odd years of pining after boys/men who didn’t like me “that way” (I was everyone’s friend and that is just about the most frustrating thing ever), of being anxious when I was in a relationship (because of the never-finding-my-soulmate  business), of being heartbroken after a relationship… now it’s like my God, I’m free, oh thank God.

Of course it doesn’t help with the sharing of bills or chores or having a built-in date (I was so grateful for the automatic buddy when I was married and thankfully I was actually aware of and appreciated it at the time) or someone to drive you to the hospital or caretake for you or anything like that. But everything has a trade-off and since this is where I am and I believe likely to remain, I just need to figure out ways to cope with that and continue enjoying the good parts of it.

It’s sort of like the question, “Well, I’m X years old. If I go back to school and get my degree, I’ll be X+4 years old! What do I do?” to which the answer is, “You’ll be X+4 years old anyway. Do you want to be X+4 years old with or without a degree?” I can be single with or without enjoying it and with or without doing the things I want to do irrespective of my relationship status. I’ll be 60 and single one day either way. Do I want to be 60, single, and having spent the previous 15 years doing interesting things, or not?

“Not” doesn’t sound so great.

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One of the Few Things I Miss

Being okay with being single is something of a revelation to me, because I was over 40 when something in me clicked and I thought, “Whoa. Actually, this is good. Cool.” I’d spent my entire adolescence and adulthood to that point feeling that if you didn’t have someone to share it with, life wasn’t worth living. I think after I left the job in the seventh circle of hell, moved to a nicer place, and saw my way clear to eventual financial stability and enough prosperity to, say, go to Europe, I calmed down and realized that while a good relationship is a wonderful thing, I’d never really had one. And one of the reasons (besides being drawn to men who aren’t bad but are bad for me, and sheer bad luck) was that I am fundamentally a loner and therefore I make a better friend than a partner.

I crave quiet and solitude; I love being able to make decisions on the fly without worrying about someone else; I find great relief in not having to negotiate finances.  Maybe if I were married, living in a large house with private space, and in a relationship with plenty of money and autonomy, I’d be able to do it. Or if I were to find someone with whom I was in amazing sync*. But neither of those are realistic goals and frankly, at my age and with my looks, it’s not like I have a plethora of marrigeable guys at my fingertips. The thing is, for the first time in my life, I’m okay with that.

Except today I was making tea and talking to one of the cats, joking, “TEA!” It comes from a Blackadder episode (almost at the end), and was a running inside joke with my ex-husband. I realized that I really do miss the inside jokes. And while a couple of my best friends and I also have running inside jokes**, it’s not quite the same, especially since they are both married and I see them only every so often. It’s not like either a romantic relationship or like friendships when everyone is single, especially when you’re in school together and see each other all the time.

And there are times when it’s just overwhelming to be on your own — every bill and every chore is yours, and you can’t automatically assume you have assistance or a backup person for anything. It can be scary in some instances, or just very upsetting. (For instance, see the bulleted list in this post.)

The frustrating thing is, even if I had a magic wand and could change things, and have my ex back (who, in this scenario, would not have remarried or had kids), I wouldn’t do it. There are things I miss about being married, and there are things I miss about him in particular, but more the former than the latter, and there are so many things I don’t miss about either. But some things keep bugging me, like TEA!

And that drives me bananas.

* I was in pretty good sync generally with my ex-husband as far as our body clocks, our shyness (though I am much shyer), our Europhilia,  our love of animals and of being at home. We both laughed when we found out that even when we were having fun, we were looking forward to whatever it was being over so we could go home and think about it. But there were so many ways we were out of sync, especially when he decided he wanted kids. In some ways I think that’s as close to truly in sync as I may ever get, because I’m a little weird.

** One of my favorite in-jokes is with my teacher friend, who also was a literature major. Whenever we describe things in overly literary terms (often unconsciously), we laugh and say, “When literature majors _______.” For instance, in the matter of my aunt’s estate which has dragged on for seventeen months, I emailed her and said, “I feel like I’m trapped in Jarndyce & Jarndyce from Bleak House. (When literature majors wait for their inheritance.)”  I started out when we were looking at purses at Marshall’s and I kept coming across this beautiful purple purse I coveted, and she described it as “ubiquitous fruit.” (I went back and bought it and she also went and bought one for me, which was pretty funny in and of itself.) So there’s that anyway!

Rules

The other day I had one of those epiphanies that, afterwards, you’re thinking, “Well, that’s obvious. And it took me how long to work this out?”

I get so bent out of shape when people break rules like taking bikes on the no-bike BART trains or cutting in lines, or other things where I think, “Ooooh, so the rules don’t apply to you, do they?”

And then standing in line at Walgreen’s and watching a guy bring his dog in, in contravention of the rules (and the law), I realized that I am totally fine with people breaking rules if I either don’t agree with or don’t care about the rules. I speed all the time — I think I’m constitutionally incapable of driving 25 miles an hour. I don’t care if dogs come into establishments. I don’t care if people drink coffee on BART (I think commutes should always include caffeine).

And of course there are a million things I do or have done in life besides speeding that are against some kind of rule, guideline, etc. But because I do it or don’t mind it, it’s okay.

So I guess maybe I’d better stop being so infuriated at other people. You’d think I’d never heard of “let he who is without sin cast the first stone” or a little story about glass houses!

 

Actions/Consequences

Soooo yeah, I didn’t go to work Wednesday. What I didn’t realize is that Tuesday night when I turned on the dome light in the car to be able to see to change the clock, I left it on. Because I didn’t go anywhere Wednesday, that was 36 hours of dome light, resulting in…dead battery Thursday morning.

It was raining.

I walked to BART, which I had not done before so didn’t know how long it would take. Turned out only to be about 25 minutes, and that’s because I’m no speedster. I caught the third train after my normal one and was there early as usual. I walked home that night and thankfully it didn’t rain during the walk itself.

Because I was having screens installed Thursday night, and it was raining  by then, and I was tired, I didn’t call AAA til Friday night, so I had to walk to and from BART on Friday as well. In the rain, again.

Ah well.

Thursday we had a big union rally outside the building where contract negotiations were taking place. That’s the first time I’ve held a picket sign! It was much fun. I actually kind of hope we still have some furlough days, because that increases my vacation by a lot. But more money would be awesome, especially since I despair of my aunt’s estate ever, ever settling and me getting the money she left me.

The tea bell didn’t work today, for a few reasons. One, I chose a bad ringtone for it. Two, last night I came home, called AAA, got the car jumped, then took a very long drive in the rain to recharge the battery and to say, “I’m so sorry, pretty car! Here, let’s go for a happy fun drive!” (And I figured out how to manipulate the music on my iPhone through the stereo, which is good. Especially since post-battery-death I can make and receive calls on the phone through the car without the the phone being plugged in, but I can’t make the music work that way.) So after all that, and some reading and whatnot, I crashed and slept as hard as the Hellion Kitty would allow.

But although I didn’t get up at ten for tea, I was up by eleven for it, so there’s that. I’ve changed the ringtone for next week and we’ll try this again.

Church tomorrow? I am uncertain.

At the moment I’m just enjoying being online again (my DSL modem was screwy and I spent 45 minutes on the phone with AT&T this afternoon; it’s all good now) while laundry launders and the dishwasher washes.

 

How I Wish I Weren’t Like This!

This stupid time change has kicked my butt, really. I barely slept Sunday night and spent Monday at work bleary-eyed, sleepy, and feeling like I’d had a triple dose of antihistamines. I slept better Monday night but Tuesday was almost as bad, plus our heating system is possessed and therefore in the afternoons it’s around 80 degrees. This morning I was so tired and disoriented and feeling just crappy, that I called in and went back to sleep.

I feel better now, especially with the soothing rain outside and the concomitant cool air. I hope I’m done dealing with the change now.

But damn. This is not entirely related to being a non-morning person, since I know the time change affects a lot of people and the 80 degree office effects everyone. Even the people who are normally cold have their fans on, their sweaters off, and are complaining. But I was just thinking about that disoriented morning feeling. Today’s was especially bad, but I have that feeling every single morning of my life. I remember reading a blog years ago wherein this woman did not understand how her boyfriend would wake up disoriented and confused. She’d understand waking up annoyed, but not disoriented. But that’s me. It’s not that I don’t know where I am or what I need to do, I just feel like the steps to do it are beyond me and even with a routine I zone out and forget what’s next. There are days when that feeling is almost scary and I just want to go back to sleep.

Starting the Saturday morning tea bell may help  a little — I have no Saturday morning routine so it’s very easy for me to sleep until noon. I think I need to make my weekday mornings even more structured. Make sure every bit of clothing (even bra and socks) are laid out; decide what the exact sequence of events will be (sometimes I vary them a little) and do it that way every single weekday.

One thing that bothers me is that by midday, I’m alert and calm enough that I feel I can handle things, and get exasperated at my 6:20 AM person. But sleep strips all that away.

And I think that if I’d had kids, it either would have made me figure out a way to function on no sleep and to deal with the morning surrealism, or else… it would have been a huge disaster. Probably best that the world did not find out which, because there could be some seriously messed-up kids out there!

It’s true that the fact that I am single and not a mother sometimes makes me feel like I’m still a kid myself. And I’ve been married. But it’s undeniable that I have the leeway to be far more selfish than I would otherwise, and that’s not always good…though I daresay it’s better than acquiring a family for the sole reason of working on my own selfishness. What a prime example of selfishness itself!

In any case, I wish so very much that I didn’t have this experience every. single. morning. And if I’m left to my own devices, I will sleep 12 hours, be awake 12 hours, sleep 12 hours, etc. That is extremely inconvenient and if I could follow it, I’d be singularly unproductive.

Sigh. So jealous of the 7-hour-sleeping morning people out there.

Poutine

I am amused to learn via this week’s News in Slow French that Putin (as in Vladimir) in French is Poutine. Like…poutine?

It’s the little things. And seriously, anything to counteract the Sunday-night blues is absolutely okay with me.

Bedhead

I have lots of curly hair. I realize this is not seen as a curse, but a blessing…but it took me over 30 years to come to view it that way, and sometimes I still long for nice shiny straight hair that can have a sharp blunt edge and look pretty much the same day after day.

I’ve been trying a modified form of the Curly Girl method — I wash with conditioner, not shampoo, and only once every three days. Put gel in the first morning (usually — not today because no work!) and just get my hair wet the next two mornings. I use microfiber towels and then put my hair up in a microfiber turban until I go to sleep. I do use a wide-toothed comb on my hair in the mornings after it’s wet, which is apparently Frowned Upon, but oh well. Then I lean over and shake my head like a wet dog and SPROING! the curls come back.

I think it’s helping. Less foof and frizz and better-defined curls. But sometimes I still want to chop the whole kit and caboodle off and have the shaved-up-my-neck hair I had in the late 80s/early 90s. I have a nice marcel-type wave at the top of my head and in my bangs (I part on the left) and then nothing else.

Which leads me to…mornings.

I need to figure out a way to make mornings less awful, especially the weekend ones (weird, yes). On weekday mornings it’s physically painful to haul myself out of bed, and I’m always disoriented and confused for the first few minutes, which is unpleasant, but it’s routine. I always think if I were thin and it were easier to dress (like, I didn’t have to wrestle myself into a sturdy bra, for instance) and if I didn’t have all the long curls to deal with, it would be easier. Get out of bed, slip on my clothes, brush my hair… instead of the wrestling and fighting that goes on with me. But anyway, it is what it is. At least on weekday mornings I have the routine (feed cats; put on clothes I’ve laid out; wet hair; brush teeth; put on makeup; grab anything I need from fridge; grab bag and stagger down to car — 15 min).

On weekends, I feel a) drugged after a certain hour and b) overwhelmed by the thought of getting up. Even though I have nothing I have to do! At least not in the “rush to catch train” sense. These two things fight against each other — I should probably get up around nine or ten, to avoid the weird drugged feeling (and the more drugged I feel the harder it is to get up), but the sense of being overwhelmed keeps me in bed.  Today I got up at noon, or what would have been eleven if it weren’t for the dreaded springing forward.

The first time I went to Paris, I even slept too much there. If Paris can’t get me out of bed…. Although last fall it wasn’t too bad. There were a couple of mornings I was truly wiped from having quintupled (at least) my usual amount of walking, and I said, “I’m on vacation, I’m not getting up now,” but I was there for two weeks, not just-less-than-one, and I didn’t sleep til noon or anything. Also, most museums, etc., don’t open til ten anyway so being up at 6 AM wouldn’t have been all that useful.

I’m thinking I should set out clothes on weekends like I do for weekdays, and also make a cup of tea the night before and leave it in the microwave. I’m going to set an alarm with a special ringtone on my phone as the tea bell, and train myself that that means I go into the kitchen, heat up the tea, put on my clothes, and then come sit here in the corner rocker by the window to have tea and read or knit or surf or something.

It bugs me that I’m 44, nearly 45, and it’s still as hard for me to get up as it was when I was 15. Exactly as hard. What the hell??

Now, if I weighed what I did at 15 (when I thought I was soooo huuuuge wearing a size 16) and had the energy of a 15-year-old, that would be cool. Hmph.

Eating Things Other Than My Words

Yesterday I did make a loaf of bread and some leek and potato soup, both of which (she says modestly) were pretty awesome. The house also smelled wonderful.

I blew off church in the morning (see previous post) and went down to Alameda for the weekly latte. Bought my leeks and came back, happily mixed up bread dough and let it rise on the credenza behind the couch (it gets hit with sunshine from noon til sunset). Later while it baked I chopped leeks and potatoes and left them bubbling on the stove. Amazingly, the Rambunctious Kitten, who has never ever ever ever eaten and must jump onto any surface near you, let me do it all without interference. And then I had a wonderful dinner. It’s wonderful how easy and yet how good leek and potato soup is. It’s leeks. And potatoes. And water. Later, some salt and pepper. C’est tout. Yum.

…repeats of which I will have a few nights this week, plus some is frozen. The bread, of course, will be lucky to make it to Wednesday.

And speaking of eating on Wednesday, I’m sure to have another odd vegetarian lunch that day since we’re having a union meeting. Last time I had to pick the avocado off the sandwich. We’ll see what it is this time. And how bad our contract is going to be. Although personally I’m ALL FOR furlough days, because they more than double my vacation time.

Of course, if the estate doesn’t get itself settled, I won’t be going on any vacation this year, but that’s a rant for another day. I think I hear a long hot shower calling.

Eating My Words

Some time ago I said I didn’t want to be a “Church-hopping dilettante.” And I really don’t. I cringe when I think of it… but I may end up one yet.

Funnily, I never think of the Baptist church of my youth as one of the stops along my hopping way, even though that’s where I was baptized in 1978 at the age of almost-eleven and where I went from age eight-ish to eighteen-ish. I guess because I didn’t choose it myself, it doesn’t count in the black book of spiritual restlessness.

There are a few things in that original post that I’m rethinking. One of them is this:

[various Episcopal things] make me feel like I’ve taken off shoes that were too tight and put on a good pair … I got myself a BCP (not sure where my old ones went) and started saying Compline before bed again. It had been ten years since I had, but the words rushed over me and I thought, “Ah! Yes!”

I think in one way it was relief from what I experienced as legalistic narrowness in the RCC. But in a bigger way, in retrospect, I think it was more nostalgia. When I was an Episcopalian, some things in my life were very much worse (for instance, I had two horrible jobs during that time whereas now I like my job fine…and have done so for two years, which is unheard-of!) but some things were comforting (my mother was alive, I was married). Spiritually things were simpler for me, as well, not having gone through the Catholic experience.

There are a lot of things on my mind, but one line from the Episcopal liturgy keeps gnawing at me — one about delivering us from schism.

We’re Anglicans. Born of schism!

And I really don’t know what I’m going to do with this or what I’m going to end up doing. There is no place that is going to align perfectly with my political views. And that’s okay. I actually like my religion more conservative than I am politically — I don’t want some kind of vague, shallow spirituality. Go ahead and challenge my beliefs — just not in a “the President is like a Nazi and if you vote Democratic ever you are bound for hell” sort of way.  The legalistic mentality of the RCC really wore me down.

So we’ll see.

 

 

 

The Good, the Bad…etc.

The bad stuff includes: I’ve strained/pulled/something’d a muscle at the top of my left leg and it hurts like hell. It feels better once I’ve gotten walking a bit, but standing up after sitting for awhile (like at work yesterday or in my rocking chair knitting [how stereotypical!] today) or lifting my leg (like engaging my parking brake or getting into bed) is excruciating. No fun. Also the bad includes the fact that a certain cat:

 

He looks innocent. Believe him not.

kept me up all night last night by jumping onto my dressers and knocking things off, and tipping the wastebasket over. I’d squirt him with water, he’d leave, he’d return, I’d squirt him…ad nauseam. Around 3 AM I put the wastebasket in the closet but I couldn’t really put everything on the dressertops away anywhere. Meanwhile I was having trouble turning over and stuff because of the aforementioned leg. (At the moment he is sprawled next to me on the bed; as soon as I try to sleep, though, I’m sure he will be in search of things on raised surfaces that he can bat to the floor.)

Then today I sucked up a cat toy with the vacuum and it’s stuck. I will have to schlep it to get fixed, but since I can’t get the hose back onto the back of the vacuum unit it’s going to be an unwieldy schlep indeed. And I can’t afford it right now, so…

…I will have to use the Dustbuster to vacuum. Except the DB won’t pick up the tufts of cat hair the kids leave behind after their (play, I think) fights. So this afternoon I used a lint roller and rolled parts of my carpet. Like a very slow, hand-held old-fashioned carpet sweeper. Awesome. It’s particularly fun with my bum leg!

The good is that when I went to my mailbox and the store, I got to drive my beloved new car and listen to the BBC World Service on the XM radio I have free for three months. I’m going to have to find the $17ish a month to keep it, I think, because having the 80s channel, the 90s channel, the classical channel, and the BBC, plus a French-language news channel from Canada is really cool.

Also, it appears the court date to finalize my aunt’s estate and disburse the funds (pay off car! buy tickets for vacation in the fall! repay family debts! buy some new clothes so I don’t have to wear the same three to five shirts to work over and over!) may be in mid-April. Oh please God.

I mean that literally. Oh, please, God!

I found a yummy-sounding lentil recipe that I’m going to try next week, and tomorrow I’m going to bake bread and make some leek and potato soup. Also, since tomorrow is Sunday I can go and get a big vanilla latte. I’ve given coffee up for Lent and the six coffeeless days a week are hard. I’m having tea and that’s good and I like it, but sometimes I want the rich robustness of coffee. After church tomorrow I will come home, go across the street for leeks and then down the street for coffee. Back here, knit for a bit, then do the bread and later the soup.

This weekend was designated a Do Not Much at All weekend and I’m succeeding quite well. I have three knitting projects with deadlines and I’m working on those, but in the comfort of my bedroom mostly, listening to News in Slow French or just zoning out. Another good thing is the News in Slow French stuff — I’ve gotten to the point where I listen to the news stories first without reading along, and then go back and listen and read simultaneously. I pretty much understand what they’re saying the first time around although going back and really analyzing it is key, especially in the second section where they have dialogues for grammar and idiomatic expressions.

I get to leave work early Wednesday and come home so that I can have screens installed in most of my windows, which will be wonderful now that the weather is warming up (and I like an open window even in the dead of winter, generally). Now I will be able to open them without inviting flying critters inside and without worrying that Rambunctious Kitten (see above) will catapult himself out one of them. I opened one the other day and stood by it to guard it and guard it I did have to. He would have jumped otherwise. He would totally survive but by the time I got downstairs who knows where he’d have gone?

Next weekend will be more of a Do Stuff weekend. I want to go to the Goodwill (truly the GW and not the Salvation Army; I want to donate some books that are probably too Catholic for the SA to want to handle), take a drive and then a walk, get out of the house. But this weekend I needed to veg, mostly.

And now to bed.