Wintering in My Discontent


Snow Cat

Snow Cat (Photo credit: clickclique)

Nothing is wrong and yet nothing is actually all right. A most annoying state of being that plagues me of late and is contributing to a general lack of … what is the opposite of “inertia”? Ertia? Probably not, but still a state of general non-interest and lack of  motivation.

Attribution for this could conveniently be laid at the foothills of the longest winter I can remember. Four months and it’s not even Valentine’s Day.

“It’s actually only three months,” my husband pointed out as he readied to leave for work this morning.

“We’ve had snow since before Halloween,” I said.

“Barely,” he countered.

And by “barely” he means we didn’t have snow that stuck until the snowstorm that descended as Dee and I cased the hamlet for treats on Halloween, but we had snow on and off for over a week before that first big dump. To my mind that puts us nearly to the four-month mark.

“It hasn’t been too brutal,” he reminded me as he left.

And by “brutal” he means gods-awful-fucking-cold … by Canadian standards. Far north Canadian standards. Pioneer days don your bear skin coat and tie a rope between the cabin and the stable so you don’t get lost and freeze solid type of winter.

Even though he is right, in a purely technical sense, it’s still been the longest winter I can recall, and I am past the point of sanguine acceptance, pushing firmly up against being completely and irrevocably done with it.

Still, I don’t think that winter fed-up’d-ness is entirely all that is in play in terms of my Shakespearean mood.

The limitations of my surroundings play into it. The hamlet hasn’t any walking paths, or even sidewalks, so I am forced to trek into town to the fitness centre to walk. Something I am doing with regularity but not without resentment.

I’ve overdosed myself on teaching, which I am in the process of remediating, but still have a few obligations to complete before taking a break. Though I always enjoy a class once I get there and begin, I find that it’s harder and harder to pump myself up to teach, a sure enough sign of burn out.

Some of the weariness rests all about me in boxes and piles that scream to be sorted, organized and purged. There is nothing I dislike more than under the surface tidying up and cleaning. I am great with the superficial aspects. I can vacuum, launder, clear off this or that surface, render it accessible for use again, and clothes, mostly get folded and put away. However, the kind of purging that borders on excavation is something that only extreme situations like moving, for example, are likely to push me towards.

It could be the near absence of a social life. Although I am the least social person I know, aside from my husband, the fact that our only getting out of late is either related to soccer matches or children’s birthdays might be nagging at me a bit. But this leads back to issues finding babysitters (our last one grew up) and settling on things to do. Dining out and movies just don’t appeal and we are not pub people. And, of course, there is the problem of having to drive a fair ways before hitting upon anywhere that one would normally associate with a “night out” and finally culminates in my general laziness and indifference to venturing out at all when the degree of difficulty in doing so rises about “moderate”.

Or maybe it’s just February.

I Thought the Daughter and I Had Already Discussed Lesbians


"Lesbian" wedding mock-cake at the R...

Roma Gay Pride  2008 Stefano Bolognini, June 7 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As we drove into two this evening to take Dee to Girl Guides, Rob and I chatted about this and that as we often do. I mentioned that I googled … cyber stalked a wee bit … a woman I’d met by chance during a Facebook discussion on pap tests.

Yes, cervical cancer screenings. What else I would I be discussing in a Facebook thread.

I noted that most of the women I met virtually seemed to blog and they all appeared to arrive at blogging via upsetting and/or traumatic life events.

“I feel I might not to widen my circle of acquaintance,” I said.

As I recounted the various facts I’d gleaned about this blogger, Dee piped up from the back seat.

“She’s married to a woman?”

“Yes,” I said. “We’ve talked about this. Women sometimes fall in love with and marry other women.”

“No, I don’t think so,” she countered.

At ten she’s become quite contrary. She disagrees or takes the opposite stance simply because it is me, her mother, that she is talking to.

“It’s only a preview,” Rob has remarked more than once. He counts himself an expert because he witnessed two other daughters become quite militant opposing with another wife in the past.

“Yes,” I said, “we did. Remember my friend Mike on Facebook. The one with the two little girls?”

She nodded.

“He is married to a man.”

“Of course,” she agreed as though man on man marriage and parenthood was as normal as drawing a breath and why were we going back over this ordinary, normal ground.

“Well,” I continued, “sometimes women also fall in love, marry and have children. Just like them and just like Dad and I.”

“Except Dad isn’t a woman.”

“Dad is certainly not a woman,” I agreed.

Rob nodded.

“So does one of them wear a tuxedo and the other a white dress,” she asked.

“Sometimes. And sometimes they both were gowns or they both wear tuxedos.”

“I think girls would look cute in tuxedos,” she declared.

“If Edie and Silver ever get married, you can tell them you are going to wear a tuxedo like Dad’s then,” I said.

“But what if I want to wear a dress?”

“Then you will,” I told her, “but it’s nice to have options.”

 

1500


An illustration by W. W. Denslow from The Wond...

An illustration by W. W. Denslow from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, also known as The Wizard of Oz, a 1900 children’s novel by L. Frank Baum. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You probably didn’t notice but my last post made it 1500 even, which is a lot of writing. Like a book’s worth easy. And I was a bit startled when WordPress announced it to me because I haven’t been paying all that much attention.

Not like in the beginning of blogging when I counted everything. Page views. Blog visits. Number of posts.

Now, it’s just … oh yeah? 1500. Cool. That only took 6 and a half years – ish.

What’s more amazing to me is that after all this time, I still bother to blog at all.

But I can’t quite seem to walk completely away from the keyboard where blogging is concerned. Personal exposition has always been my favorite form of writing. It’s about as exhibitionist as I get and this in spite of my being a Sagittarius and all.

The widow dating stuff is probably the most popular if my search stats are to be believed.

If someone had told me back in my early single girl days at university that one day people would be reading my dating advice, I wouldn’t have known what to say. I was the hands down princess of the wallflower set. I had virtually no idea of how to get anyone to notice me, ask me out or how to go about initiating and maintaining a relationship. Seriously, hopeless on the romantic front and utterly clueless about relationships summed me up well into my thirties.

I wouldn’t even say that I was all that good at marriage the first time around.

So, the dating stuff, which pulls people in daily, is a bit of a shocking surprise.

Though I prefer writing about current events and politics, these are less of a draw. Understandable as I am not mainstream and neither buy nor sell the Wizard of Oz version of politics. I think that looking behind the curtain and seeing the Wizard for who he/she actually is works better in the long run than blissfully buying into whatever the current hope and change fantasy is. Most people wouldn’t agree, but it doesn’t keep me from reminding them that Emperor’s are rarely as clothed as they appear.

I still write about myself, which is amazing. And people read those posts. Which is equally astounding. And somewhat scary because I know some of these people in real life. I try not to think about that.

Originally, the blog was random, whiny and a bit about my annoyance with having been widowed. It was never really about grieving. Probably because I was nearly done with that by the time I started blogging.

Then, the blog centered on dating and remarriage. But that has a shelf life too.

Though I still write about Rob and I, we are old married folk in practice now if not in boots on the ground years. Perhaps we should count in dog years?

I have never been a mommy-blogger and I still find the writing from your uterus point of view repellant. I bred once. I have children. I mommy. I don’t think any of this defines me as a writer or is enthralling enough to do much of. Even my brief stint at a mommy blog was more a genre experiment than anything else.

So? Will the blogging continue?

Oh, I imagine so. I am not totally over it though I think that blogging as a writing form is at one of its lowest points, having been saturated to the point where everyone thought they could blog because they didn’t realize that it was about being able to write as much as it was about being self-absorbed. The narcissists eventually quit and the writers remain.

1500. It’s kind of inspiring.

Dating While Widowed: When Dating Goes “Wrong”


The Dating Game

The Dating Game (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An interesting search term on dating gone wrong turned up this morning and as so many of the search terms seem to query in that direction, I thought it might be a good one to address.

What does it mean when dating “goes wrong”?

In general terms, it probably alludes to the fact that more often than not, we don’t get what we want out of the experience. For whatever reason, two people are left frustrated and hurt and no longer together.

This is not a widow thing.

I know that widowed are schooled by the various grief outlets to believe that anything that gets in the way of a new relationship is related to grief in some way, but this is an over-generalization. If a person takes the time to look back at pre-marriage dating or even conducts a brief tour of the internet via googling “dating issues”, he/she would find that things going wrong is fairly common in the dating world and widowhood has hardly cornered an exclusive market as a reason why.

Usually, when relationships develop anything from hiccups to major breakdowns, the culprit is a difference of unspoken expectations and a difficulty or unwillingness to engage in direct communication about them.

I have said it before – often – that when venturing back into the singles scene, it’s better to have thought about why and what you expect from it and be ready to articulate that to those you date upfront. This way the likelihood of beginning a relationship with someone who is unsuitable is smaller.

Of course, this is not how dating happens. Dating and relationships in our modern culture tend to be stumbled upon via chance and hook-ups by people who haven’t really fleshed out their own motives for getting involved with another person.

From there, they lurch from one step to the next in a state of giddy inattention to details – good and bad – until one or both realize that the direction isn’t where they envisioned themselves heading. And then? Things have gone wrong.

There are no rules for dating again. There aren’t really formal rules in general for most of what passes for coupling in our modern age, but there are some things that are best thought about and really considered before jumping back in the game.

Why do I want to date?

What are my expectations of dating and of anyone who I might date?

What am I bringing to the table for someone else?

How will dating impact my life today? 10 weeks from now? 10 months? 10 years?

Am I a casual or serious dater?

Do I want to marry again? Have a committed relationship? Just hook up?

Am I able to date and not expect those I date to play the role of my therapist?

Can I set boundaries with my kids? Family? Friends? where my life as an adult is concerned?

Do I understand that dating can be emotionally unsettling and can stir up my feelings of loss and that I will have to really handle that myself?

And that’s just to name a few.

I don’t think most people really think about what they want before they begin to date again and I think that it is only by trying to date that you really begin to clarify your reasons and refine your methods. But, I don’t think that avoiding dating until you “feel better” or are “over the loss of your late spouse” are particularly helpful either because neither of those things are ever going to happen. There is no such thing as closure. There is just acceptance of reality and deciding to move on.

Which brings it down to this really. Moving on is a choice you eventually are ready to make. Dating is sometimes part of this but not always. There are no guarantees when you move on or date that life will suddenly be wonderful again. Wonderful is subjective and getting there takes time and personal effort. Magical solutions are no more real than unicorns.

Dating sometimes goes wrong. When it does, it will either work out with time, effort and communication; or it won’t and the relationship will end.

You may or may not meet your next great love right out of the box.

I entered the dating world again at about 6 months out. I met a lot of men. Some were nice but uninteresting. Some were neither nice nor interesting, A few were douchebags. And then I met Rob. We put time and effort into getting to know each other and deciding there was a basis for dating, commitment, engagement and marriage.

Rob met me right out of the box. Pretty much like he met his late wife. My husband has always been a pretty darn lucky man in that respect.

There is nothing wrong with you if dating goes wrong. It is not a sign from the heavens that it was too soon or that you are destined to be that sad lonely old widow in the nursing home weeping over photos of a long dead spouse.

It just means that you and this person weren’t suited. That happens. Walk it off. Consider what you might do differently the next time and when you are ready, try again. Or take a break. Or rethink the whole idea and give up on it.

This is your life. You only get this one once.

Bank’s Closed


English: UBS Investment Bank's Offices at 1285...

UBS Investment Bank’s Offices at 1285 Avenue of the Americas in New York City. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is no reward for being responsible, spending within your means, and generally putting off self-gratification until you can afford it. Pretty much all this will gain you is never-ending expectations of “lending” money to your relations who aren’t good at any of those things.

When my late husband was ill, his employer fired him. This douchebag, through an actually illegal move, halved our income in one fell swoop. I spent the next three and a half years just barely making ends meet. If it hadn’t been for my wonderful beyond words and generous to a fault Auntie, I am fairly certain I would have lost my house at the least and maybe my job at the most. She, more than anyone else, stepped up when it mattered.

Because of Auntie’s example, I try, whenever possible, to help others in dire financial straits. Last year this time, I had poured money down the hole known as my older nephew, N1 and I was still bailing out my brother, CB, from the fallout of his well-intentioned but foolish attempt to put N1 on his adult feet.

Fast forward. CB managed to right himself with a lot of assistance from me and our mother and worked steadily and profitably through last spring, summer and into the fall. However, he is a path of least resistance guy when it comes to his ex and his oldest daughter. When he has money, they hit him up non-stop for any and everything. Consequently, he doesn’t have money left to put in savings for the winter months when – because he is a contractor – work isn’t plentiful.

At Christmas, the emails started. “Can you call me?’

This only means one thing. He needs money and Mom is not forking it over. CB has come to rely on me to talk Mom into funding him.

And it is funding him. He never pays anything back even though he always begins the request for money with “I’ll pay you back.”

But they all do that.

There is no truer adage than this “don’t lend money you unless you can afford to never see it again” because it is the rare person indeed who pays back a personal loan – family probably being the most notorious deadbeats.

I never give money to my family expecting to ever see it again. Even if you have a formal agreement, written up and signed by all parties, the first time a loan repayment conflicts with some expensive desire you will hear “I’ll pay you next month for sure, ok?”

And then maybe they do or not but the precedent is set and wants get fulfilled more than loan repayments and pretty soon, the person stops paying the money back at all.

CB has legitimate money issues. I feel for the dilemma he has with his ex and his daughter though if it were me, I would have told my nearly 17-year-old to get up off her butt and find a job before I bought her a car she couldn’t afford to keep up anyway. So I gave him the money but with the stern proviso not to hit on me again because the bank is closed.

Already, Rob and I have had to resign ourselves to not being able to buy a new house in a better locale, trade in our fast falling apart truck for a new one and give up completely on the idea of taking a holiday from this long ass winter because of financial responsibilities that we’ve taken on to help out family.

On the one hand, I accept this but on the other I am not as sanguine. And there are several reasons for this.

First, I rarely shop for myself. I see things that I actually could use or even need to replace things that are worn and I defer because I am my father’s daughter. He drove home to all of us kids, though it seems to have only stuck completely with me and maybe DNOS, that you buy things when budget permits – regardless.

Second, I look around my home. We’ve been renovating since Dee and I arrived. In fact, Rob was renovating years prior to even knowing me. Six years nearly and we don’t have steps to the back door. Took them out in the summer of 2007 and the cement blocks are still there. There is no floor in the living or dining room. Because winter came early, we didn’t get the shed built, so that lumber is stacked and taking up room in the garage, making it difficult to work on the plethora of automobiles cluttering up our landscape – some of them aren’t even ours.

The plan originally was to have had the house finished and sold by now. But life in the form of family in need has intervened and slowed progress to the point that now we are stuck. We just will have to finish up and gut it out.

“We could end up having to retire here, you know,” I told Rob.

“I refuse to think about that,” he replied.

But it could easily be our fate. Dreams of an acreage somewhere or even a house in town, which would be a million times more convenient, could easily elude us because of the stops and starts that eat up time and cash flow.

Third, one of the vehicles has developed what is probably a major issue. It’s the one we wanted to trade in and can’t because we’ve taken on Edie’s car payments now that she is back in school. We did this willingly, mind you, because we are parents and we know that she needs training in a profession if she is to go anywhere career-wise in life. But it’s a major imposition now that the truck is fubar.

I shouldn’t whine or be resentful. Life is what it is and my life is hardly the stuff of tragedy.

But I am annoyed about this.

When I was 18, I went off to college, which I put myself through and then with very little monetary assistance from my parents, made my way in the world. My mother poured more than twice as much money into N1  just last year than she has ever “lent” me as an adult. Sometimes, I question whether I should have learned my father’s lessons as well as I have. There is certainly nothing to be gained – other than the right to stand on the soapbox – from having denied one’s self and been responsible.

I will be fine without a new truck or moving. We have a beater in the back that Rob can easily get running again if worse comes to worst, and the house will be finished … someday … and maybe even emptied of all the crap that makes if seem tinier than it is. Life is not unbearable by any means.

But the bank is closed. So don’t ask. Unless you really want to hear what I might have to say.

I Got A Raise


yoga

yoga (Photo credit: GO INTERACTIVE WELLNESS)

I don’t think much about getting paid to teach yoga. I should. One thing my teacher training instructor hammered home to us was that “People don’t value or stick with instruction that is given to them for free”, and she was correct.

In fact, I knew this from my time spent in the public school trenches – if it was free/it was a “gimme”. Anything you simply share is eventually taken for granted by the majority of people. Especially in our North American culture where so much emphasis is placed on price and the material.

But, I haven’t ever pushed to be paid at a certain rate. When asked, I throw out a few numbers based on what I know about the market and I accept what is offered. Money is fine but karma points are often much better.

This morning I got a call from the woman who hired me to teach at the community hall. She had been thinking about my rate of pay and wondered if I was happy with it.

At a minimum wage job, it would take me about half the day to make what I receive for teaching one hour of yoga. It’s not the worst part-time job ever. It’s barely a part-time job at all given that I work on average about three hours a week minus travel time, which is also pretty negligible.

“I hadn’t thought about that,” I told her.

“Well, I have been thinking that maybe we need to raise your rate,” she said. “The yoga program has been very successful here and we wouldn’t want to lose you.”

What prompted this, I think, was less the idea of losing me and more contact with fitness instructors.

The fitness program in our little hamlet has grown from yoga to include a program for senior citizens twice a week and two weekly Zumba classes.

I don’t know what the instructors of the classes charged for their services, but I can guess and it’s probably more than what I settled for initially.

However, they came from proven backgrounds and have additional communities that they serve. I was just starting out.

So, I got a raise and didn’t even have to ask for it. How awesome is my life?

Insomnia


Insomnia spooky5.JPG

Insomnia (Photo credit: Buddha Rhubarb)

While there is no cause I can pinpoint, I had a night of interrupted by stupid insomnia again.

Doctors have been unhelpful in the extreme. They tell me it is “aging”. Drink some tea. Meditate. All quite useless.

It’s not as bad as it was prior to the discovery that I am indeed suffering from “female issues” of an aging lady variety, but sleeplessness is not an option for someone who has to be up before the dawn to put a kid on a school bus and pack a husband off to work.

Making breakfast, packing lunches and making sure that the bus does indeed arrive to convey the child has me up and conscious just long enough to make it difficult to impossible to go back to bed for a couple more hours.

This leaves me with days like today. Walking not quite dead. Feeling as though I am just coming down with or just getting over a messy bout with influenza.

Insomnia is nothing new for me. I have never been a good sleeper.

As a wee one, I gave up naps quite early, was a night owl and an early riser and generally seemed able to run on six or seven hours of shut eye without much trouble. No lounging in bed til noon as a general rule for me as a teen or young adult. And though I developed a bit of a napping habit in my early 30′s, it wasn’t a consistent one but more about the weather, which meant that on wintry or raining Sunday afternoons, you might catch me napping but otherwise – not.

Pregnancy and early motherhood were bad for sleep, but that’s true for a lot of women.

I didn’t sleep well the first year of widowhood either, but I blame that more on physical issues than emotional ones.

Now, it’s just a piss poor schedule combined with that old lady thing and the fact that we have really inconsiderate neighbors.

Age has screwed with my internal temperature regulation.

It’s too hot. Or it’s too cold. More cold than warm during the day and the opposite over night.

Who knew you could get cold flashes?

Our neighbors are a railroad siding, a guy who finds it necessary to start his truck even morning at 6 AM and leave it idle for 15 minutes – right underneath our bedroom window, and an elderly woman across the alley who, rather than listen to her equally elderly dogs shuffle and bark at her all night, puts them outside so her neighbors can listen to them shuffle and bark all night.

Once I am awake, I am awake for a solid hour or more.

In the past, I have  panicked about not getting back to sleep and this just made it take longer to get back to sleep.

Now I am more sanguine. Not happy however. I know what a loss of two hours in the middle of the night means for the next day.

It means I accomplish next to nothing and I get to feel like shit in the bargain.

Oh, I have my folk remedies. Although tea makes me pee and melatonin has to be used in moderation lest one feel just as groggy and wiped out as the insomnia leaves one.

I have a heating pad for cold flashes and muscle aches (another thing those books on “aging” don’t mention but should) and ice packs for overheating.

Mattress is newer and foam-topped. Sheets are a primo thread count.

But still, I endure days like this several times a month.

When my mother, and then Rob’s mother, were visiting recently, I noted that neither of them could sleep through the night. Mom is 80 and MIL is 71. A glimpse of my future that is bleaker than the creakiness, the sagging skin and the humpbacks.

I don’t recall my Dad having such a time sleeping, but since he went to bed by 7PM and was up by 5AM most days from about age 65 on, I don’t know that I can glean much from his example.

So much about getting older in this year I make my slow approach to 50 is depressing.

It’s not that I expect the true middle of middle age to be the new 40 or 30 or some such other nonsense, but does it have to be such a chore all the time?