Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Falling Backwards Off the Sofa

As I've mentioned ad nauseum, I'm 43 years old. That's not particularly significant except when I look back on the totality of my life and see how much I've learned, and how much I have yet to learn during the next 50-ish.

When I was in high school (in ALPS, for you former ALPSters), we did one of those team-building exercises where you take turns falling backwards off the arm of the sofa, into the waiting arms of your teammates. At the time it was a horrifying idea, but today it seems like a tiny little metaphor for real life. Everyone should have the experience, sometime in their life, of falling and being caught by the people who care about us. It's both humbling and empowering. It reminds us (well, me, at least) that my worst fears, the things I lay awake beating myself up for, often look inconsequential to other people.

It's like the monsters in the closet: Throw open the door and turn on the light with someone to hold your hand, and the monster turns out to be an old garment bag. Once you look at it, you're free. Then you can marvel at all the ways you twisted your life in knots to avoid going near the closet for years.

So now, at 43, I try to remember to notice and be grateful for the people in my life who have helped me learn to fall off the sofa. Since Wanda's son died, I keep going back to this thought...How can a person be so loved and feel so hopeless? How do we forget to show our children and our friends and our partners that we'll catch them when they fall off the sofa?

When I feel like Atlas, carrying the world on my shoulders, I can feel the despair and helplessness that made suicide seem like a good option for a 22 year old. But despair is sort of an illusion...If you really stare hard at it, you can make it seem huge and black and impenetrable. But if you can step away from it, it turns out to be more of a garment bag than a monster.

Kwachie mentioned something in passing the other day about getting suicidal people to agree to live until Friday, because after a couple of days things almost always look better. And that reminded me of all the small things that ordinary people beat themselves up over, and how little any of it will matter in 10 years or 100 years or 1000 years. The universe doesn't care if your bills are paid on time, if you pass your algebra class, if you get fired from your job. But I believe that the universe does care very much that we hang in and remind the people we love to be brave, that we'll catch them when they fall off the sofa.

It's hard sometimes to remember to care about the right things. Maybe that's Mel's legacy...he reminded the rest of us to be grateful for the people we love. My heart aches for his mother. I hope her pain subsides, and her memories help her live with her grief.

I love you, Katie, Robbie and Carrie. Don't ever be afraid to fall into the arms of the people who love you.

And I love you, Lori, with more depth and breadth than I thought was possible. Thanks for catching me so many times.


Sunday, October 29, 2006

More prettiness. It's easy to forget why people live in Southern Illinois during chigger season, but we remember in October.

We drove down to Horseshoe Lake this afternoon, in case there were still pretty leaves. There were. The cypress trees are at maximum prettiness right now. We figured we better go out and enjoy them before deer season start and some lunkhead from Chicago shoots us.

While we walked around admiring the pretty trees and the nice autumn smells, we talked about how many disparate events had to happen in both of our lives to cause us to be here, together, at this time. It boggles the mind.

Yay for kismet. :-)

This is Dixie.

He's a foundling from the parking lot of the Dixie BBQ. Yesterday Robin and I went out to pick up supper and we saw him, skinny and pathetic with crusty eyes, begging for pork from the customers.

Robin, who knows me, said "Don't you dare. Don't you dare pick up that cat."

I didn't...at least at that moment. We picked up the food and took it home, sat around talking for a few hours, and then Robin and Barry left. And I kept fretting about the kitten. Finally, I decided to drive by there and see if it was still there. Kwachie and I drove to Jonesboro and there he was, in the cold dark parking lot, sleeping under a truck. I made the cat calling noises and he ran right over.

So now we're a four cat family. Tomorrow I'll take him to the vet and get him checked out and cleaned up, and see if he's old enough to neuter.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Memory is funny. Since my head injury, so many memories start out vivid, then get a little hazy, then fade into the mist, then they're gone. Completely...like the event never happened.

My friend Robin is here visiting now. She was my best friend for years and years, and then she moved to Indiana and I moved to Arizona and we didn't see each other for ten years. But it's like all that time never happened. I remember all those years we lived down the road from each other. I remember her parents and her husbands and her children, where we were when such-and-such happened...like it just happened. And I have trouble remembering last week.

She looks the same. It's funny to think about all that time. If you can't remember a decade, did it really happen? If a decade falls in the woods and no one remembers it...?

I remember the day I came out to her, and she nervously came out to me...as a Wiccan. We were each so worried that the other would be appalled. It's funny how your own secrets seem so big and scary, and everyone else's seem normal and understandable. She did fine with the lesbian part, I did fine with the Wicca part, and it made us both brave enough to tell more people.

I guess that's why people need a best friend. Someone to practice being brave on, who will love you afterward.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Interesting decision on gay marriage in New Jersey yesterday. Mostly, it was interesting to me because the 4-3 split was between the majority, who said that the legislature has to decide whether to call it marriage or civil unions but has to codify it somehow, and the even more liberal minority that called for gay marriage indistinguishable from hetero marriages.

How cool is that?

After the last few stunning defeats, I thought maybe the moment had passed...Remember the ERA? But maybe not. So maybe gay marriage is creeping down the east coast. Vermont, Massachusetts, New Jersey...Can South Carolina be far behind? LOL...uh...Yes. It can.

And yet...no one is dying from it, no straight marriages have been invalidated...maybe it's NOT the end of civilization. Maybe when New Jersey doesn't turn into a Vast Gay Wasteland, Ohio might consider it. Or even Illinois.

And then I can make an honest woman out of Kwachie. Not that there's not a lot to be said for living in sin, but I'm ready for some governmental validation for our relationship. A year ago, I said I expected gay marriage to be legal in Illinois within 5 years. Then I backed off to 10 years. Now, I think if everything goes smoothly in New Jersey and heterosexuals don't start throwing themselves out of windows in despair, gay marriage once again will prove, in yet another state, to be the sort of mundane unexciting civil rights law that seems like a no-brainer a couple of years down the road.

Well, duh. People who love each other can get married. And the world didn't come to an end. Go figure.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I've decided that exercise in middle-age is one of the Seven Deadly Sins. If the Prime Mover wanted us to exercise, he would never have created walkers.

The other six deadly sins: Envy, Greed, Sloth, Sleepy, Dopey and Doc.

That's my whole pool of wisdom for today. A puddle. And now I'm off to save lives again.

Friday, October 20, 2006

My goal is to be a hermit before I die.

I figure hermitude is my birthright. My mom lives in a little trailer in the woods. She owns a telephone, but only plugs it in when she needs to make a call, usually once every few weeks. My brother lives in a cabin in another woods a few thousand miles away, and the only person he has regular contact with is his wife (I suppose it would be hard to avoid her).

I work with humans every day, and they're a particularly fine bunch of humans. But sometime in my life I want to spend an extended period of time not interacting with any humans except Kwachie. Think of it as a cloistered, monastic life. A life of contemplation and woodworking.

I want to be the crazy old lesbian living in the woods. The one parents warn their children about. The one periodically seen in the distance, through the trees, with multiple layers of outerwear and a beagle.
Some kinds of jobs make sense to me...People who make things, people who do things, people who fix things...I get that. The jobs that don't make sense to me are jobs who's sole purpose is to move money from one person's hands into another. That category includes telemarketers, bill collectors, and phone solicitors. People who pester other people professionally.

It seems as though there is a whole category of employment for people who can't actually do anything. Maybe that's a function of a sophisticated economy. Maybe when the world is full of people busy making things and fixing things and saving lives we need someone to call around and beg people to use those products and services.

But it's hard to imagine.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I love my shed.

In fact, it's bordering on an unnatural love. The kind Rick Santorum might refer to as man-on-shed love. I fantasize about all the cool things I want to do in my shed. I want to put in a wood burning stove, buy a lathe and a nice workbench, and fritter away my declining years making things nobody wants. Maybe I'll brew a few batches of beer that nobody drinks to go with it.

If I found myself independently wealthy tomorrow (no doubt from the sale of the wooden objects and the beer), I would spend the rest of my life puttering professionally. I would overpopulate the yard with geegaws and doodads and mow the lawn down to stubble. I would develop my own recipe for suet lumps to hang for the birds, and fret about whether they liked them less than commercial suet lumps. I would wire, plumb, insulate, and drywall the shed, then sit in it and admire it's coziness. I would contribute nothing to society, save no lives, and leave no legacy whatsoever, except maybe a pretty shed and a lot of homemade beer.

That's my dream.



One more thing before I go out and save some lives...I've been obsessing about committing an act of of...cat kidnapping? Cat theft?

Kwachie and I looked at a house out in the country last weekend. The house was a falling-down overpriced wreck, but there were two little scrawny stray kitten-ish cats roaming around on the property that were so lovey and affectionate that I had to fight the impulse to take them home.

Apparently I'm still fighting it.

Maybe tomorrow I'll drive out there and if they're still: a) pathetic, b) skinny, and c) there...

I'll grab them. :-)


Nowhere, IL

I wanted to come up with some clever title for my blog, but I don't feel clever and I have to go to work in a few minutes, so I went with what I know. The name comes from back when my kids were little and we'd make that looooong car trip to Chicago from Southern Illinois through 350 miles of cornfields, punctuated by the occasional truckstop. They would sort of melt into little puddle-children on the seats, and periodically one of them would say, "Mom? Where are we?" And I'd say, "Nowhere. Go back to sleep."

Eventually, they began to say, "Mom? Are we still in Nowhere?"

Nowhere is our family shorthand for the thing that separates us from the thing we want. Miss your cousins? You'll have to do a little time in Nowhere to see them. Nowhere is the Midwestern version of Purgatory.

So...I'm Ev, and this is my brand squeaky new effort at self-expression. I'm not absolutely certain that my self has anything interesting to express, but I suppose that if that's the case, it'll become glaringly obvious in short order and I'll go back to my first love, tooling around on the mower with a beer in my hand.