Nightly laundry

Sometimes I wonder if all I’m doing is collecting guests for my funeral. Which sounds macabre but if I don’t expect to see a return on my life’s work in terms of money, fame, or power, what is the alternative? I really do actively try to help people better their lives. I imagine all the people I’ve kept close over the years and I think about the times where my happiness has come second to theirs and I think, ‘if I died tomorrow, would they show up?’

I’m not a martyr. I just think back to the friends and ex boyfriends and family whose happiness I helped guide. My ex boyfriend for example will lead a tremendously happier life because of all the things he learned from me and through me. He learned a lot about himself and his values and his goals in life. He came out of it a better person and so did I. There are a lot of times I think to myself, ‘I’d be at theirs’.

There’s a song by WHY? that has a line that when I first heard it a few years ago, shook me. “Yours is a funeral I’d fly to from anywhere”. Recently at an orientation for work, we watched a TEDtalk about the impact your actions can have on other people. It was really inspirational but it emphasized the value of expressing your gratitude when someone has helped you change for the better in some way. It could be any minute action, it could even be inaction. What rings true each time is the ripples it affected on a person’s lifetime.

My brother’s dad died when I was a teenager. I remember being so sad for my brother because my mom was in jail and his dad died young. He lost both parents that day and I still wonder how much happier he might be if he didn’t know that kind of loss.

But the thing I remember most about the funeral was how many people showed up to mourn him. The church wasn’t small and there were hundreds of people there. They stood in rows against the walls, people crowded in from outside. There were countless stories about his life and the impact his actions had on the world around him and I can’t help but think about all the people at his funeral. I don’t know if this makes me a narcissist or selfish but it’s not like I’m going out of my way to accumulate guests. I really do just want to help people at the end of the day. I’m not seeking recognition beyond knowing that because I tried everything I could, someone out there is going to find their own happiness too. But also sometimes, it’s nice to know if what I’m doing has any real value at all for anyone but myself. This isn’t about self doubt because I know that what I do does help people. I guess it’s just a passing thought as I do laundry on a Sunday night.

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RIP little kitty

I’m sitting next to her

She died beneath the Buddha

The sound of chimes and bells

Singing in the wind

I can’t smell her yet

But the flies won’t leave her alone

My poor little one

I knew her time was soon

I bought her a bed

They mailed it today

A little too late

Delicacy keeping me down

I haven’t had much to say lately. I’ve had a long semester.

It’s winter break now and the holidays are my least favorite time of the year. I hate the buzz of them and all the traditions I’m expected to adhere to. Because I didn’t grow up in one house but several houses, I’ve been adopted by more and more families as the years go by which roughly translates to an insane amount of gatherings and expectations. You probably thought you hated just seeing your own extended family? Buying gifts for only one set of strangers?

Try half a dozen different groups of people. Ever since my grandma passed and my family moved into her house, that part of the family has sort of floated between different locations. One year we’re on one part of town, the next, a two hour drive. It’s all very complicated. This year I went to four full thanksgiving meals. Not drive bys, but full sit-down dinners. It lasted several days. This Christmas will just be three gatherings and a couple drive bys to drop off gifts. As I’ve gotten older, more people reach out because they’re also getting older and subsequently more sentimental. One year, I’d really like to do a friendsgiving. I doubt that’ll ever happen.

This year, I discovered that my significant other is weak. I knew he was when we started dating, but this… this is different. I hate delicate partners. I may become anxious quite a bit, debate running for the hills now and again, but I never let fear control me (the only exception being heights, which I plan to work on via rockclimbing). This year, I saw the most unattractive quality expressed in my significant other and I felt a crack form in between us. I can’t unsee it, I can’t unlearn it, and I definitely can’t dismiss it.

I’m still stuck. He’s a wonderful person and I enjoy his company and for now, he’s sort of the right person for me. Being a full time student means I don’t have much free time so the fact that he’s a hermit is ideal for my needs. But I know that it’s reaching an ending point and after tonight…seeing that… I don’t know if my mind will let me “let it go” and I wish this wasn’t the case really. I like this relationship. It’s fun and light and comfortable. Expectations are low, moods are usually high and I blow off steam in productive, mindless ways as opposed to the more reckless ones the other half of me prefers. It’s a safe place. I cannot believe that I’m trying to convince myself of the need to compartmentalize and cut the guy some slack just so I can maintain this relationship for as long as possible. I know there’s still something here and to end it now would be the wrong decision. But I’m also concerned because I don’t know how long I can really hold out now that I know how deep his weakness runs. Physically, he’s really strong. Like really strong. But emotionally? Not in the slightest. I just don’t know what the answer is here.

Usually when I notice little things, I overlook them that’s fine. A little snobby? A little insensitive? Whatever. Useless to waste brain power thinking about. This though? This boils down to a fundamental personality difference and those are much harder to overlook. I fear whenever I look at him now, I will have this stupid image of the weakness burned in my mind. The antithesis of rose colored glasses. Our anniversary is next week. I’m not sure what to do.

The even shittier part is that in my mind, I’ve got the timeline in my head all worked out for an “appropriate ending”. Like I can’t end things on our anniversary, that’s just fucking awful. But I can’t do it right before school either. Maybe I can wait it out until summer. I’m really not sure. I have never before dealt with a man so delicate. He has done nothing to wrong me and I can’t hurt him. This fucking sucks.

Gray

So I just found out that my mom is getting out in nine months. She’s being let out on early release. This is going to sound super fucked up, but I thought I had another two years before I had to figure this stuff out.

Nine months. That’s no time at all.

I’ve been pushing off the mental headache of everything since we found out they were taking time off for a bunch of stuff. But I also thought I had two years before I had to think about it. 

I thought I had two more years. 

There are some changes on the horizon

It’s been a while. Then again, that cycle of summer processing seems to be upon me. In my defense, I’ve also been trying to put off processing through a few recent developments. Prop 57 has impacted my mother’s sentence, as well as a few programs she’s involved herself in over the last decade. It looks like she’s out on early release. Nine months from now actually, give or take. I thought we had another couple years.

I don’t really know how to feel about it yet. I’m not as freaked out as I thought I would be but that’s also because it feels like I’m sitting in the road watching a truck come straight for me. Obviously, that’s mildly dramatic. That truck could be a figment of my imagination.

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I think the most profound aspect of this news that has me boggled is how this will affect my art. For most of my life, my writing, art, and other coping mechanisms were populated with prison themes: time, loss, abandonment. I never had to dip my pen in different ink.

I’ll be honest, I’m pretty sick of dealing with prison themes. I never wanted to let her life choices define my own but I also couldn’t deny myself the experience of them. What a weird, tangled web I found myself in.

The good news is she’s more freaked out than I am. I’m trying my best not to have sympathy for her but I can’t help it. It’s going to be really weird for her. When she went in, dial-up was common place and people still used AOL.

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The transition process is going to be shocking to her system. She claims to be all hardened and whatnot (and I’m sure she is), but I know there are going to be a LOT of midnight phone calls where she’s crying and frustrated because something in her house keeps making a noise or she can’t figure out how to listen to a voicemail or something. I expect this.

I will also not be her metaphorical crying shoulder. I will be a helpful daughter on my own terms, with lots and lots of boundaries. I might finally be able to start throwing away some of her mail.

My sister just told me she’s been throwing her letters away. I’ve kept every single one, including envelopes, for this whole damned sentence. I sort of just want to burn them but I feel like there’s a really good art project in store for them. Hopefully with a different theme.

Does this mean that I can give myself permission to stop fixing all the broken pieces? I’ve long known I’m awesome and been grateful for the challenges she’s thrown my way but I’m still a product of my circumstances. I’m actually sort of concerned for my own children. They won’t have nearly the amount of depth I do, which both worries and delights me.

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She’s going to make it to my college graduation.

It’ll be the first graduation she’s ever made it to (besides elementary school which doesn’t really count). I’m actually really happy about it.

God, I hate writing about this stuff. It’s all so damned heavy and while necessary, I can feel myself sounding like a broken record. I’m just ready for it to be over. Maybe I’ll actually go back into my darkroom again. Maybe I’ll shoot some film again.

I swear, if she tries to bake me cookies and do my fucking laundry though I’m going to lose it.

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Balthasar helped me out

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I can’t tell if I crave the feeling of being right or being liked. I can’t tell if my need to argue stems from a desire to correct wrongs and communicate my feelings or if it’s all so that I can go on feeling like no one hates me. If indeed I fall below the latter, does that make me fearful? Afraid to let others be angry? Or is it fuel for distance? This is sometimes a question of pride and sometimes a question of anger but in this case I am seriously torn.

I’ve been examining my relationships with others lately and what I’ve found is a bunch of needy people. I am no longer going to let myself be a mother to so many needy children. They all want my approval and attention so constantly that it interferes directly with my own needs.

But now I wonder, where do I draw the line? How do I undo a set precedent? How do I relearn how to communicate when I’ve so long prided myself on being a compassionate communicator? I have always been a go getter, the driver of my life. Now that I’ve taken a step back I can see how I have let myself be taken advantage of over and over again. My friends and family say I’ve “been short” but in reality, I’ve been irritated. I’m noticing how many times a day I am not allowed to choose when I engage with the world. This morning I was woken up by my cousin. Later, I was stopped mid-project to look at an Instagram video. Immediately after, shown another video by my sister.

When confronted about my behavior changes, I am unsure if my reaction was in defense of the moment in question (the Instagram video) or in defense of my newly discovered persona. I can’t tell which torch I carry. Am I just being mean and therefore building walls instead of bridges? Have I begun swirling downward into a firestorm? Or is this how people feel when they prioritize?

I went to one of my favorite philosophers and let fate decide where my eyes fell:

ccvii Be Moderate.

One has to consider the chance of a mischance. The impulses of the passions causes prudence to slip, and there is the risk of ruin. A moment of wrath or of pleasure carries you on farther than many hours of calm, and often a short diversion may put a whole life to shame. The cunning of others uses such moments of temptation to search the recesses of the mind: they use such thumbscrews as are wont to test the best caution. Moderation serves as a counterplot, especially in sudden emergencies. Much thought is needed to prevent a passion taking the bit in the teeth, and he is doubly wise who is wise on horseback. He who knows the danger may with care pursue his journey. Light as a word may appear to him who throws it out, it may import much to him that hears it and ponders on it.

I don’t know anymore how I feel when I’m “normal” so for the moment I’m going to take my vitamins and embrace the project I finished today (it’s about a year overdue) and go buy a swimsuit so I can learn how to surf in the morning. There are just so many damned baby steps I’m not sure if I’m moving forward or sideways.

And as I think back now, I wonder if it’s not so much a fear of angering others or being disliked but I think I’m so damned sentimental that I’m afraid one day when we’re old and looking back at our lives, the memories will be tainted with arguments and disconnects. Is that my fear of abandonment and loss coming into play? Is that the forever question?