Crackerbox of death

Crackerbox of death

Of course, people are dying every day, everywhere. I know that. It’s nature. It’s the end of summer, and I see my garden maturing, heading toward its seasonal shutdown, the period of rest. That’s the big picture, the cycles. But with people we look at individuals. A child is born, maybe treasured. I wasn’t. A life continues to its inevitable downturn and end.

Today there was an estate sale in my building. It was for the owner of the red truck. The truck sat there through roadwork, and sat there, and sat there. The owner never came out to work on it as he did throughout the last 12 months since I’ve lived here, or to move it or pick up the several parking tickets. I heard the owner went to the hospital. Apparently, he never came out alive. He didn’t look that bad off when I saw him. Just an old person, perhaps in his 80s.

There are many old people in this building. Many have died and moved on in the eight or so years I’ve been here. And I feel death hanging on me, despite the fact I feel more vigorous than I ever have. I discovered a new strength training technique that is very powerful, and I have more energy than ever. And I love the massages I’ve been getting. And I love tribal fusion bellydance, a new solace in my life, both watching and doing. But death surrounds me here in this crackerbox. A tower warehouse for people with no particular purpose in life.

There’s another old guy in this building that sits out front smoking 10 times a day. His teeth have bizarre gaps, probably because some are missing and the rest shifted. He tried quitting smoking a few times, and went back to it. “Nothing else to do,” he told me. Just waiting to die, I guess. He can hardly see, due to a stroke. He has double vision and can’t see to clean his own place. I hardly think letting smoking suck up his extra oxygen is good for his eyes, but I can barely talk to the guy. He’s not quite there. His responses don’t connect with what I say.

I never had anything to live for, I still have nothing to live for. I saw my ex-husband today. He flounced by, wearing all black. He used to complain that I always wore those black t-hirts all the time. He hated them. I didn’t want the divorce. Okay, maybe it’s for the best, but it hurts. I need something to live for. I was living for him, for us. But there was no us. There was him first, and me and us never. I was a fool. I need something to live for.

 

 

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Symmetry

Symmetry

I was surprised when this dragonfly didn’t take off as I was fumbling with a cucumber stem less than a foot away from him/her/it. A dragonfly’s gender doesn’t matter to me, does it? Not that I can ID them in that way. But I hate to call it “it”. Just feels too distant. But this one was very close. He just sat there. One wing is mangled and curled, and half a front leg is gone, also. If he doesn’t go away, some bird is going to figure out there’s a good chunk of protein there. I don’t know enough about dragonflies’ life cycle to even guess what else might happen. How long will he sit there before he falls down to the ground dead, ready to fertilize my plants with nitrogen and minerals?

My first photo was crap, so I went out and took another. I’m very surprised he’s still there two hours later and hasn’t been eaten. We all die in the end. And I already felt quite morbid today, but since I’m sharing this amazing dragonfly discovery with you, I’m going to also share my experience of life.

See, yesterday I had to go to the hospital, my first ride in an ambulance. I knew what was happening, kind of, because a lot of people in my family have problems with atrial fibrillation. I knew what was happening, but I didn’t really know the ramifications, so I didn’t have the sense to call an ambulance first thing. My heart’s rhythm was way off. The top and bottom halves weren’t in sync the way they should be. Basically, a bunch of heart spasms.

It settled down, I thought, after 40 minutes, but when I went off to do chores, I still didn’t feel right and got out of breath easily. A trip to the clinic turned into a trip to the hospital. It’s easily fixed with some drugs that reset the rhythm, and if not, then there is always the defibrillator. The ambulance ride was enough like being in the movies without having to go all the way to the paddles on the chest.

The ambulance guys, Sean and Tyler, did an awesome job and I thanked them for the lovely afternoon.  But they didn’t need to reassure me I wasn’t going to die. That’s not what I was crying about. I was crying about being born, that I ever had to live through all this crap for 55 years that really hasn’t been worth it. I’m seeking glory because I’ve never had any glory. Other people around me are retiring in contentment. No, not me. And not just because I can’t really afford it, either. Life has not been good enough. Playing Scrabble, gardening, and experimenting with grooming and sewing projects is not enough for me. I could live another 40. Yikes. I got stressed out numerous times at the hospital, but not because I was scared for my life, at all. No, as I told paramedic Sean, the thought of death doesn’t worry me. Rather it’s a comfort and it has been for a long time.

The stress at the hospital also came from nurses walking up to me and poking at me without acknowledging me as a human being first. If it were to save my life, that would be different – if I’m pushing someone out of the way of a deadly projectile, I don’t have to ask first. But if some guy that turned out to be a nurse, after I asked, is going to reach under my clothing, I’d like some eye contact and a few words, first. Then the other nurses got all bitchy, telling me every little thing and complaining that’s what I expect. No, I just need some acknowledgment before you touch me. I hate people touching me, bumping me, grabbing me, poking at me. The massage therapist knows better than to do that, and he’s there specifically to touch. He asks first. Stressing someone out by violating their boundaries doesn’t help achieve anything good.

Another stress was the accursed beeping on the heart machine behind me. Yes, my heart was going too fast. My BP was too high. And getting higher because of the ear-stab. Luckily I always have earplugs on me, and I put one in on the beep-machine side. And I shut my eyes and thought of blackness, my entire body turning black, then turning to mush and sinking into the ground, silently. Yup, while they were doing their best to keep me alive, I was consoled by thinking of death. I thought, “This might be it. I could die.” That was a comforting thought.

This morning, I wish I had died. Not an unfamiliar morning feeling for me, actually. I don’t even care that I’d be leaving a mess. I haven’t made any glorious progress here, anyway. I haven’t heard back about that plum job, and I don’t expect to. It seems designed for me, but I’m old, and no one wants that. Atrial fib isn’t exactly a giant health risk, but my health slate doesn’t feel quite as squeaky clean as it did before yesterday.

The way you can die from atrial fib is that a clot can form and then go to your brain and cause a stroke or worse, like a fatal heart attack. So, I’m lucky I came out of it with no heart damage and have no need for a prescription. The excellent doctor told be that a baby aspirin a day is a good idea to prevent clots in case a-fib happens again. I expect it’ll happen. I will probably take the aspirin, because as I told the paramedics, if you’re in a car accident, it’s better to die than be mangled. I don’t particularly want to live, but if I’m gonna live, I’m gonna take care of this machine I live in. I’m horribly healthy – my blood work was all perfect, doctor said. This despite diabetes-cliche levels of obesity. My body mass isn’t morbid, but 20 pounds or so would take it there. But I’m healthy. And that’s better than having a stroke and dragging half of my body around like dead weight for the rest of my life, or being parly paralyzed like my dad was. All that smoking and drinking he did. I don’t do that.

Wish I had a security cam to put on the dragonfly and see what happens to him. Insects die every day. They never go to the vet’s office. There is no emergency care for insects. They just get mowed down, squashed, poisoned, or eaten alive.

 

Edit: a few hours later, the assymetrical dragonfly has disappeared. I’ll never look at them the same way again. They’re like birds – you only ever see them as young and beautiful, because any injured one is killed off fast. A rare exception I can think of is a neighbourhood pigeon I have seen limping around on a damaged left foot, not just this year but in previous years. I assume it’s the same bird. I should watch it more carefully in future and try to ID it.

 

WCCMT – a secret

WCCMT – a secret

West Coast College of Massage Therapy is an awesome place in my town. (And in a few other towns, actually.) See, the students work there in a clinic, and it’s incredibly inexpensive to get an hour’s treatment. Discount for seniors. I don’t feel like a senior, but I’m over 55, so I got the discount. I can handle that a lot better than being offered the senior discount on my 40th birthday because my hair turned white rather early. Yes, that really happened. I especially liked stepdad’s comment, at the time, on the hat I always wore in those days, a canvas canoe hat which I indeed was wearing during that senior incident: “Well, it does age you.” Somehow that cracked me up.

So, this week is the last week at the school, and the fifth term students are off to their professional careers. They will be RMTs – registered massage therapists. They do relaxation massages, but they specialize in therapeutic ones. Not if you have a WCB/ICBC claim, of course, but if you have a problem area. I have quite a few. I learned the most awesome and helpful things!

I learned that if you have a painful muscle, maybe you should not stretch it but rather look at its opposite, which may be so tight it’s pulling and making the other one sore. Story of my hamstrings. Hurt to sit on them. My pelvis had other tight muscles that were pulling on them.  Now the pain is 95% gone.

I learned that for my inflamed tendon on one side of my foot, I need to strengthen the muscle that opposes it, on the other side of my foot and leg. Wow, the tendon pain went down by about 3/4 and I am going to keep doing my leg days and strengthening those muscles.

But it’s also important to stretch. There are certain muscles I’ve trained for years – chest, triceps are two groups – but I never stretched them. Unlike a lot of women and especially dancers who well know about lengthening muscles, instead I thought like a man: it feels good to be strong, so build up those muscles with weights, strength training. Clearly we need both, and my student RMT has a great depth of knowledge. He’s one of those lucky people who, though young, knows what he wants to do and has dived in and is doing a wonderful job of it.

I went to two different people there, but the first one was a fifth term student, and for a bit I had a fourth term one when the fifth wasn’t available. He was better than she was, so I went back to him when he was available again. The term ends tomorrow, and the mood in there today was like floating on a cloud. They had their last exam this morning. But in September, a new term begins, and a new calendar to fill up with lovely massage bookings. And, yes, I am also going to be a private client of my fave student. He wants to go independent in a year, and I am happy to help him out with that and also get the benefit of his excellent skills and sensitive touch in my healing journey.

If you check out their webpage, you’ll see they actually do some spa type things as well. I saw these offerings and signed up for one on a whim. I have never done a spa thing. It was just a crazy idea: Salt Glow. So I’m lying there naked with a towel wrapped under and over around my crotch to cover the crack and all, and getting scrubbed with basically sodium chloride and some essential oil. It was rough, like sharp sand. It was different. It was okay, but as he pointed out, it makes your skin incredibly soft. A week later, it’s still softer than I ever remember.

So, apparently exfoliation is a thing. As you can tell, I’m really not very girly and never experimented with exfoliation nor had girly friends to tell me I had to do it. I guess I’d like to try a facial now. Maybe it’ll make my face skin similarly soft. Not that this place offers those. But I think I’m on a roll here, of self care as well as self–pampering.  If you want to do the same, move fast as I understand the school is phasing out the spa stuff and sticking with the higher value (my view) therapeutic massage stuff.

To the grads… and next term! 🙂

 

I hope it’s not too late

I hope it’s not too late

Sometimes it is hard to be good at a lot of different things. For me, it dovetails with indecisiveness. There’s no reason to choose one single thing. There’s never been one clear thing I should focus on, one clear path.

I’ve done artwork for various people who needed logos and things like that. “You missed your calling,” I was told. Yeah, well, I don’t see much excitement or meaning in commercial art, even though I don’t mind doing a logo for ya. And as far as the art scene, I didn’t see a place for myself there, either. I love music, too, but loathe the music scene. All of these scenes are about fashion, pecking orders, and politics, all things I don’t understand well. Those are my weak points, blind spots. I’m good at many things, but just uncomfortable with all that.

A lot of people have assumed, told me, or asked if I’m on the autism spectrum. Well, maybe I am, but I never had a diagnosis or any help, so technically I’m not, as no clinician has weighed in on that. Plus I’m female, so we women don’t fit the typical autism categories which were based on males. Plus, I’m obviously very high functioning, so even if I’m a complete fucking freak, I’m not exactly disabled the way a low functioning autistic person is. I like my ivory tower, so maybe I’m INTP.

So, what to do in life? I am acquainted with a couple people who have experienced what I dearly wanted all along: to have a specific direction, dream, and goal from an early age.

Of course there is my favourite artistic fusion bellydancer, Bagoas, who explained in the short documentary film about male bellydancers that he has been doing this since he was 15. I guess he’s in his mid-20s or something now. Certainly under 30. He does such wonderful, original, skilled, beautiful, joyful, playful, and expressive things that I so envy that I never had a life like that. I never belonged anywhere that I could pursue anything that interested me. I’m sort of acquainted with him because he’s a Facebook friend. Maybe in the next year I’ll go see him dance in Seattle. But basically I’ve watched his videos over and over because I’ve been going through the toughest time in my life with my divorce and all, and his expressive art always beings smiles to my face. Smiles, plural, never just one smile. His playfulness is absolutely golden, and wrapped in musical expressiveness and artistic precision.

Then there is a guy I know from the Scrabble group, a retired cop. This week he told me he had tried to get into the RCMP at age 21. It was what he always wanted. He was a cop  all his life and then a bylaw officer. I’ve heard of a lot of cops who get messed up from the conflict, violence, and tragedy involved in their work, but somehow th is guy came through unscathed, apparently. He doesn’t seem troubled, unhealthy, overweight, or anything. He seems very light at heart, playful, open, and able to hear others. In a man, those are all nice qualities, and in a cop they aren’t exactly the stereotype.

And I have nothing.  I can do all kinds of things – visual art, statistics, applied math, writing, research, teaching . . . and I am completely lost.

Solitary Sunday

Solitary Sunday

Title above makes a song pop into my head, as so often happens. Words and rhythms trigger memories of related words and rhythms. Right now, that song is “Manic Monday which was a giant hit in some time past and keeps coming back on the radio or as background music in stores, because it’s a catchy confection, I suppose. “Wish it was Sunday”? Though I do understand that sentiment when one has a fulltime job, I can’t say that’s relevant to me now.

I sure want a fulltime “real” job – because I want a good mortgage on a good property, a home where I can live out the rest of my days with some space for a garden. A real garden, not some community garden or mercy plot in an apartment complex, as I have now. I want fruit trees and berry bushes, again. I want to own the land so someone is much less likely to be able to swoop in and have a big influence on my use of it. I want a real job and acreage.

But today is Sunday. Generally I don’t mind spending most of my time alone. I’ve been feeling really good this week, too. Then I was out watering my little garden and many people in the building coming and going on their weekend activities. There is a nice couple with two kids, and I saw them drive out in their car, park, and wait a bit outside the building. I saw them as a couple, whereas I usually interact with each one of them separately. And I felt that pang of lack of connection, lack of coupleness in my life. I felt the sorrow welling up as I walked back to my place. Turbulence developed, just like water starting to boil. And finally the tears came, fully felt.

I felt the lack of even a group of friends I can turn to. Most of my friends are Internet friends. I have some work colleagues. I have acquaintances. I always wanted close friends and never had them. I could never find people to be close with. The few people that wanted to spend time with me were, frankly, tiresome. I spent the time, tried it out, and wanted to get away. I’m enjoying my bellydance classes and the friendly bellydance community, and I’m looking forward to attending more events, but this is new and no friends there yet.

The many people I’ve wanted to spend time with weren’t interested or said things like “We have to get together for” lunch, coffee, whatever. But I’ve been told – because it’s not the kind of thing I can figure out for myself – that this is a typical Vancouver thing people say but don’t mean it. I’m sure the pattern is broader than just the Vancouver area.

And with such difficulty fitting in, never mind belonging, how am I ever going to find a job at all, never mind one I’m actually content in. “That ship has sailed” keeps coming to mind. Too late for me, at my age. Not that I was ever any good at it, at any age. I don’t fit, belong, and there is nothing for me. Yes, I’m crying, but I’m not despairing. It’s a factual description of the overall pattern of my life. A summary. I’m trying to make the future different. I’m trying to change it. I want a real job. I want to belong.

I am still having difficulty connecting with people. And myself, being real, authentic, not trying to be someone I’m not. I’m sick of that and it doesn’t work for me. My teaching job was like that, an everyday undercover role play. I like learning, so I was able to teach/facilitate it, and I’m organized and responsible, but this constant fake front was terribly exhausting. My free time involved recuperating. I don’t look like an introvert, but I still am one.

My marriage was too much togetherness, but I didn’t have enough self-knowledge to know that and give myself what I needed. I was waiting til we moved to a bigger place, so I could have space of my own. Never happened. Anyway, point being I’m an introvert and lots of jobs are okay for that. I can handle working with others and even a tiny bit of office socializing. but I think heavy-duty office politics would kill me. I’m clueless about those. Explanations in hindsight blow my mind re other people and how they act and think. People in groups. Yikes.

And yet I really want connection – with more than one individual, ie a group of a kind. But not the kind of group you study in sociology. I took a college class in that once. What a mistake! I. Don’t. Understand. It. (As the kids say nowadays.)

What if I go around and just be me? Well, people will think I don’t like them. I’ve had more than one person tell me that! Because one day I engaged with that person and they were taken aback, and after a while explained they thought I didn’t like them. It’s because I’m socially clueless about the normal friendly social lubricant stuff. It feels so fake to me. At least I can be mostly in touch with my own emotions. I’d say more than half the time now, so that is a huge improvement over uncomfortably numb almost all the time.