Returning from Playground Conference 2018.
Up too early, I raced around the Airbnb condo kitchen looking for a pot to make oatmeal. There were more cupboards than I have at home and the basic gear was spread thinly among all of them. Kitchen utensil sprawl. I carved some brown sugar off the rock-hard lump, and splashed on some almond milk. How is it that something so emulsified can taste so thin?
We walked most of the length of this small town to the pick-up point at a hotel. I was finding it a bit difficult to orient. I navigate by the sun and it felt at times too low and at others too high. I’m north, you see, and we’re approaching the solstice. The only holidays I really feel called to observe are solstices and equinoxes. The sun being in the wrong place is a delight and feels like magic, even if it can also be a bit of a hassle.
I saw rocks and trees, trees and rocks. An expanse of sand. The tiniest flowers. Impossibly still lakes. Mercurial sky. It was fucking majestic, man.
There was a minor cultural component and I could have done with much more, but what I saw of traditional carving, among other things, made me feel the strength of its resurgence. In my view, it’s an exciting, optimistic time.
In contrast, I ended up in conversation about historic abuses, physical and sexual, that are not so far in the past as one would wish, and are even now having an effect – on the survivors and on the relatives of those who didn’t survive. My mom knows other people’s wrongs intimately, but never speaks of how she was wronged. As we talked, I wondered whether she would let anything slip. But no, not a crumb. Not that I’m surprised.
I spend my time with her biting my tongue. How is is that she never speaks? Will she ever come to terms with it?
I’ve been travelling much of the day and even though it wasn’t the most grueling trip ever, my eyes are still crossing with fatigue. Up too late last night packing, up too early this morning to finish packing. And all I had was carry on.
Dear Past Me,
That idea you had about taking the day off to prepare for this trip was an excellent idea. I’m sorry that I didn’t give it as much credence as I should have and did a full day’s work anyway. In my defence, I’m not used to being able to work without it being a struggle; there was that one time-sensitive thing that I kind of had to do and I totally didn’t expect to get drawn into working on a bunch of other stuff.
But you were right and I was wrong, and I’ll try to remember that for next time.
Signed, Present Me
So I’m travelling with my mom and I’m having to remind myself to be circumspect before speaking, rather than blurt things out the way I ordinarily do with Wolf.
Can’t mention that I saw something on Twitter because she doesn’t know I have an account. (Unlike many people, I only have the one – for sexy Twitter.) Certainly can’t let her see any images on my Twitter feed.
Can’t let her see that I’m texting my boyfriend. All those hearts might look strange if she remembered that Wolf doesn’t have a cell phone.
I hesitate to mention the last time I was through one of these airports because it was probably a trip to visit Jaime, and it might occur to her to ask why I’ve travelled so far, to go to a place I’d never previously expressed much interest in.
On the plane, I prefer not to let her see that I’m taking my phone with me to the toilet since she most certainly doesn’t know about my Boobday mile high photos. (By the way, I got two more today. So keep an eye out.)
Tomorrow we’re going hiking, and then I’m very much looking forward to a nap, before the real work begins on Thursday.
My dad is visiting for a few days but since I’m leaving on a short trip tomorrow, today was the only day we could see each other. Four of us went for lunch, including my mom and Wolf. Wolf would have been much happier to stay home but this had the flavour of a holiday family dinner, and his attendance felt largely obligatory. Also, I wanted him with me.
We spent a lot of that hour or so talking and it left me drained. Socialising takes it out of me.
Usually when I talk to my dad, it’s just the two of us on the phone. In a group of four the dynamic was less clear, but I still observed that I didn’t say all that much and he dominated the conversation. I have felt for a long time that he’s not that interested in me or the things I do, and that may be the case, but I also wonder what it’s like for him at home. I don’t know if he and his wife talk all that much; if not, then he probably has no one else to talk to.
His wife’s mother is 94 and as miserable as she ever was. There’s a reason why all the kids moved away as soon as they could. She can’t drive or walk but she doesn’t want a walker because that’s for old people; she can’t hear but hearing aids are for old people; she has been living on her own and falls are a real risk but she won’t wear a personal alarm to call for help; and she can’t look after herself anymore but won’t move into a home. She can to an extent deny being old by imposing on others, which she does readily. (Actually, she has always imposed on others.) This woman is absolutely awful. She never told her daughter that she loved her. Not once. It’s a wonder that any of her kids even talk to her.
My mom then mentioned an incident when her brother was a little kid and got hurt. He came into the garage seeking sympathy from their dad. He got hurt again on a piece of equipment in the garage, and their dad made a joke at his expense. It may not have been malicious, but the effect was corrosive.
She also recalled having gotten hurt in an accident on her bike and thinking that she shouldn’t go home because her dad would see and she would get in trouble.
My parents don’t talk much about their childhoods, so I hoard these freely offered anecdotes and piece together what I can. Their childhood traumas became their adult pain, which they unwittingly passed on to me. My traumas are rooted in theirs; how can I heal myself if I don’t know what the wounds are? I think my dad has started confronting his demons but my mom’s are still locked down, and I feel like to be whole, I have to heal not only my own hurt but that of generations before me.
My parents taught me not to talk, but I can’t keep silent any more. There were times with Wolf when it felt like giving my words was harder than giving my blood, but it got easier with him. Now I come here and talk to you.
I wonder if I’ll be able to tell my dad that, when he calls and recites a monologue, I don’t feel like he’s interested in me. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to ask my mom what actually happened to her.
If I do, I suspect it will feel less like bravery and more like a final failure to act out this ridiculous role I was assigned.
This tweet from Girl on the Net the other day got me thinking:
I couldn’t limit myself to a single favourite, so here are a few great things that come to mind:
I get to set the thermostat at the temperature I want, and I enjoy being warm enough indoors that my nose doesn’t run.
I can have the nice shampoo, conditioner and soap that I want.
This is obvious but bears stating. I can have sexy times (solo or partnered) without having to be quiet and/or secretive. I can procrastinate and leave sex toys lying about before cleaning and putting them away.
I don’t get chores sprung on me at someone else’s whim. Wolf and I have worked out who does what, and I do my stuff when I want/am able.
Home is now a refuge rather than a place to escape. The only people who get to be there are ones I really like, or ones who I don’t mind but will also leave soon.
But there’s more great stuff about adulthood than that and I think the reason why we as adults aren’t more excited about it is that we have a tendency to look at it in terms of responsibilities, which is a variety of negativity bias. (And then there’s hedonic adaptation.) But growing up is about becoming autonomous, which necessitates taking responsibility for yourself. While not “fun” exactly, autonomy can be deeply satisfying.
I’m autonomous in my emotional life. I can learn for myself how my emotions work and what I need rather than rely on my parents’ (as it turns out) incorrect assumptions. I can learn better ways to cope with conflict than (a) freezing, bottling it all up, and hoping the other person will read my mind, or (b) bottling it all up and then having an explosive confrontation. (I mean, it’s not easy to learn a different way of doing things, but I can.)
I’m not being explicitly or implicitly criticised, and I no longer feel like I’m always wrong. I can choose to share my life with people who give me the love I need and think I’m pretty great, and choose not spend time with people who make me doubt myself or make me feel unwelcome. My self-image is still worse than it objectively should be, but being autonomous means that I can make decisions and take steps to get my needs met.
Why haven’t I been writing much? That’s a question that I’ll likely keep revisiting until I figure it out and/or successfully move past the issue.
The proximate cause is that I just… didn’t feel like it. Yeah, but what’s causing that ennui? I have a few ideas:
But I also have some reasons to believe that I may be recovering from that ennui. Having tapered off very slowly, I’ve now been completely off the anti-depressants for over 7 weeks, so the side effects should continue to abate. Also, I was more productive at work in May than I had been any time over the last year and a half and probably longer, which bodes well for energy and motivation in all areas. (I’m now wondering how much the anti-depressants affected my ability to work. Hmm.)
I think writing Every Damn Day in June will help me not to get bogged down in projects that are too big for me to manage just now. I’m making a commitment to turn on the computer and write for just 10 or 15 minutes a day; I’ll continue to write until I’m finished or until I stop, whichever comes first. I’m also drafting my posts right in WP rather than in a Word doc on my computer as is my wont, which I think will help me get past drafting to actually posting. Wish me luck!
Also, if there’s anything you’d like me to write about, let me know in the comments.
I think I might be coming out of my not-posting-much phase. Hy is doing a challenge to write Every Damn Day in June, and while I was never posting daily, I think trying to find 10 or 15 minutes a day to just post something may be the kind of kick-start I need. It should help cut down on overthinking, for one thing.
I have to try to get caught up on mile high photos; I’ve got a cache, a stash, a bloody trove of them. And another little trip is coming up next week. This photo is from my trip to Playground Conference 2018, back in February.