Tuesday, February 28, 2006

How do you handle yourself?

The most important thing you have after a crisis, is your behavior during it.

This is a saying I heard several years ago that's stuck with me. The statement itself requires no explanation. It's strongly and simply stated and makes you look inside yourself. It's a saying that immediately makes you feel accountable, putting everything into perspective. Crises, regardless of the degree, will always happen. The difference in your recollection of it will likely be determined by how you carried yourself thoughout it.

It's true most people are not their best during a crisis. It's easy to get twisted up in the game and react to everything with a knee jerk response. Feeling overwhelmed by an event that feels so big can make you feel small and vulnerable. At times it can throw you into the "why me" tailspin or how about the ol' "the whole world is out to get me" mentality. Not to mention the immediate sense of urgency that accompanies a crisis.

From the first time I heard this saying, I realized it would hold the key to how I carry myself from now on. That's not to say I don't lose it at times. I'm human and I do. But I've found that reeling myself in is much easier the second I hear those words in my mind.

When my brother, Jim, died last January I was devastated. He was the third brother who'd passed away and I was left feeling like I wanted to crawl into a hole and cry, forever. Jim and I were very close and had been from the time I was 19 years old.

With my family and I surrounding around his bed in ICU watching him slip away, my heart felt heavy with pain and heartache. Not at his moving on because I stand firm in my beliefs on what's next. It was more about never being able to see him again or hear his laugh or hear him tell me how special he thought I was. Admittedly selfish reasons.

Once he left us, my sis-in-law Michel turned to me and asked me to handle everything. She handed me several sheets of instructions the hospital had given her to aid in making arrangements. I heard her words and immediately felt angry at her. My brother just died. Leave me the fuck alone. And then I looked up into her eyes and the pain that she felt from losing her life partner was bigger than mine. I realized the man who protected her, who slept next to her each night, who made her laugh and held her hand and stroked her hair somehow seemed a heartache of bigger proportion.

Then I heard the words run through my mind. The most important thing you have after a crisis, is your behavior through it.

I reached up and took the papers from her and told her I would take care of everything. As I walked to the pay phone to make my first set of calls, I realized that though my heart was breaking and it was very real for me, I had things I was going to have to do and I was going to have to find balance in allowing myself to grieve while I managed these other tasks.

I look back on that period of time and am able to do so with a great deal of pride.

There have been times since I've been laid off that I've fallen into a hole. Though I have sought emotional support from friends, there are times I hear that saying in my head and it snaps me out of my slump.

When I land my next gig, I want to be able to look back knowing I stood strong through it and didn't let "it" win. Granted this crisis isn't like when my brother died, but that doesn't lessen the fact that, at times, it seems pretty damn big.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Humbled and Breathing

On Saturday evening, Ren took me out to dinner for my birthday, which is March 5th. It was an absolutely delightful evening. Ren is what I refer to as one of my five star friends. She is a selfless human being who has endured tragedy in her life and still stands strong to talk about it. She, like many of us, has had her share of struggles, however, she never lets those struggles stand in the way of being there for a friend. Thus, the five star friend reference.

I have always been like Ren. I've always prided myself on being there for people when they need me and for always making time even when it's not the most convenient timing because to the friend who has come to you for help their crisis is the biggest in their world at that moment. I have always been generous with my friends.

It would seem that with so much going on in my life the last several months, I don't feel like I have much to give lately. The K9 thing was like a knife jabbed into my side. Losing my job in December and the subsequent legalities of that which I cannot discuss here are eating at me. The depression and current difficulties in which I find myself firmly planted are new territory for me. I've never not worked. Not to mention that weeding through the collective clutter in my house just seems like a drag right now.

My motivation seems to be suffering and I feel emotionally withdrawn. I find it easy to criticize that which I have not completed in a day rather than recognize that which I have.

I was worse off in this particular area prior to my conversation with Gurustu. Again, if you haven't checked his site, please do so. Even if you just check his daily thoughts, it will help you find peace and clarity in your own life. I would, however, recommend perusing his entire site. It has become my "bible" of sorts and I'm a better person for it.

Anyhoo, with my state of mind lately I've felt really guilty about being on the receiving end of Ren's kindness. Hers, and Pony's, in all honesty. It feels very one-sided and I've had a lot of guilt about how the tables have turned. It isn't I doing the carrying right now. On the contrary, it is I who is being carried by them both.

I've had to work hard to find a level of acceptance with support and generosity from others. I'm not one to ask for help. I'll bear the load silently until things work themselves out. I'm a very proud person. But pride equals ego which should have no place here. Not now.

After dinner Saturday night, Ren and I stopped to have a cocktail in the only lesbian bar in town. It was the same faces having the same conversations in the same smoke-filled venue as always. I hated it so we left and came to my house at which point Ren gave me my birthday presents. These were gifts that she put a lot of thought into. They were gifts that were "me."

She gave me a card that served as a huge reminder... That it is okay to let people do something nice for me because I deserve it.

Inside the card she wrote (sorry Ren, I HAVE to share this):

"Because. Because it's your birthday. Because I like to see you smile. Because that smile is better than sunshine. Because I care. Because you deserve it. Because you mean the world to me. Because you don't expect it. Because as long as I've known you, all I've seen you do is give until you have nothing left for yourself. Because I'm not afraid to let you take from me. Because I'm a freak. Because you should be spoiled now and then. Because I can. Because of that big, beautiful heart of yours. Because you are my friend. Because I love you. Because I know you will ask why."

Which I did.... Ren gave me the most beautiful handmade leather journal I've ever seen. The pages within are made from cotton. In the lower right hand corner she had the name "Starshine" (her nickname for me) stamped into the leather. I was blown away when I opened it. People buy gifts they think their friends will like. This gift felt like a part of my soul was living within its binding and I was blown away.

As I flipped through the journal itself, running my hands across the fibrous pages that will hold the literary parts of the whole, there was an envolope with my name on it. She had driven to Pacific City which is a couple of hours away and gone to the rental agency I use there, and purchased a gift certificate for a weekend at the coast. Attached to the envelope a note that read, "Because I know what being there means to you."

It was at this point the "why did you do this" began. She laughed and pointed to the card. Apparently I'm predictable. It was actually at this moment that I took a deep breath and simply said thank you. I knew at that moment, Ren had knocked down my walls - it truly was okay to receive during a time when I'd otherwise push back. I truly do deserve it once in a while and I am loved.

In all the mixed up craziness that is my life right now, I tend to lose sight of what's real because I get sucked into momentary things that define neither who I am nor my life. I can either sit here and analyze what's gone wrong in the past or I can start saying yes to the right things and rediscover my strength. I learned that from the Guru. He also reminded me that where ever I start is the beginning.

Today it feels like there's no better time than the present.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


I had drinks with Pony and Chopper Saturday night. I had the best time ever! I extended an invitation to my friend, Hot Toddy, but he declined because of where he was in the "no smoking" evolution. Toddy expressed some disappointment about not feeling strongly enough to join us. I wished he had but realized once I got there, it was best he hadn't.

You see, the three of us spent the largest part of our evening talking about my Mustang. My beautiful, sexy car. My car is the hottest gawd damn car on the planet. Dare I say...in the whole Universe.

We were discussing the specs on my car. Engine size on my V6 vs. the GT; 4.0 litre vs. the 4.6 litre on the GT, etc. We were discussing horse power differences when Pony started talking about how putting a bigger exhaust on the car would get me more power. Hmmm. Not only would it make it sound throatier but it would give it more power... [insert pop up idea bubbles surrounding my head, one after another].

Then Chopper (or maybe it was Pony, I don't know - I got so sucked into the excitement from the conversation that looking back on it it's all a blur) suggested putting new headers on the car. Like a whirlwind we were planning modifications. For a mere few thousand dollars (which I don't have right now), I could have a car that would equal the power of the GT. [imagine me shuttering from the excitement].

Then Pony said it. He looked at Chopper and said, "Then she could put a Super Charger on the car and...oh yeah.... That's what you'll need next, Aub. A super charger... Then you'd have some serious power."

"Wait" I replied, "Isn't a super charger going to require a new hood. It's that thing that sticks out of the hood. No, no way. I do NOT need a supercharger. I mean seriously...it already looks like a boy car. I slap a super charger on it and...no, no way."

Then Pony gave it to me. "Are you kidding me?! There's nothing hotter than an attractive woman driving a souped up car with a super charger. That would be totally hot." "Yeah," I replied, "just me and my dyke boots driving around in a throaty Mustang with a super charger stickin' outta the hood."

I told them how I wanted to take her to PIR (Portland International Raceway) and time her. I wanted to get my car on a track to really get a feel for her at high speeds and cornering, to really see what she's got. [insert shallow excited breathing and a slight arch of my back as I work through some...excited feelings].

Times like these are when I miss my brothers. We'd all stand around in the driveway hovering over my car (or whatever the flavor of the month was) with the hood up and talk motors and horsepower and performance. Those were some of my fondest memories.

With all the cold weather in the Northwest lately, I haven't been willing to wash my car. When it finally broke out of the teens, I tried to turn my water on and nothing came out of the hose - iced up inside. So yesterday I was going to have lunch with Young Stud (our weekly thing) and wanted the car to look nice. I only washed it for him - it had NOTHING to do with my OCD related to my car. Really.

I'm always excited when I wash my car. It's a thing of beauty and when I'm done with it, I'm always so proud of her. I started on the top of the car then did the windshield and the hood (sans Charger). When I started on the front left fender I got this sinking feeling of shit I have to wash this whole car. But as I ran my soapy, cotton mitt-covered hand across the flared fender that feeling quickly went away.

I've come to learn all of her curves; all of those little places that are easy to miss. I found myself talking to her as I cleaned her. I know it sounds absolutely pathetic, but damn... After I cleaned her, I dried her off with my chamois and then detailed the inside. All I could do was walk around the car with this ear-to-ear grin plastered across my face, looking at her and shaking my head.

My old neighbors P & H came over and were laughing at me. They said what a beautiful car it is and how all they ever see is the ass end driving away - and that I was going to scrub the finish off if I kept washing her so much.

Quite frankly, I don't know what I'm going to do when I go back to work and I can't spend two hours of my morning bonding with my steel horse. I suspect it'll be the saddest day ever. But for now, it's just me and her and ideas from Pony and Chopper that made my heart race. Ahhh, a girl can dream.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The X-ray Sign

So while sitting in X-ray, this sign posted on the wall. Aries read the thing in its entirety. She did not do the Spanish language justice, trust me.

We looked everywhere for the English version so we could compare the two, but one did not exist.

I told Aries last night that I had posted about her knee and the crutches to which she replied, "Yeah, but you said you'd ask about the sign on your blog. Did you ask anyone what it said? I can't not know what it said..."

So I am about to rob blogdom of five minutes it's never going to get back. What the hell does this sign say? Aries and I laughed about how neither of us speak Spanish and should. She said that as much mexican food as we eat, we should know how to speak Spanish automatically. How I wish it were that easy!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Crutches

We picked up the crutches at Walgreen's immediately following our E Room visit last week. I adjusted them and attempted to explain to Aries how to use them. She watched impatiently yet looked excited when I handed them to her. As an adult, I had forgotten that things like crutches excite kids. The same way braces do. Go figure. She struggled with the crutches but did not give up.

The last time I was on crutches was when I studied dance. My girlfriend at the time, Jenny, and I were in a dance together. We traveled full-tilt boogy to the right, did this huge jump in the air and had to change directions while in the air. We both hit the dance floor like rocks. She broke her elbow and I sprained my knee. That, however, was so long ago I'm afraid I wasn't much help in the compassion department when it came to Aries. I was more frustrated at her lack of listening ears. I had to take a step back and let her figure it out on her own.

We went to the grocery store following the crutches lesson. Probably not the best idea but it had to be done. As Aries hobbled toward the entrance an employee of the store looked at her and laughed and pointed out that she could use one of those electric chair/cart things. Damn... you'd thought she was just offer cuts in line at Disneyland. The girl brought me a key and Aries took off like a shot. She wasn't even unplugged from the wall yet.

I didn't give the electric cart much thought until I remembered that Aries doesn't know how to drive. Nor is she that confident on her bike. Thus, steering was going to be much like the crutches escapade. I took off after her yelling her name and laughing.

When I caught up with her, she was laughing and steering like a crazy person. People coming toward her looked frightened - they weren't sure which direction to go to get around her. Upside was I didn't have to push a shopping cart because there's one built onto the front of the electric car. Downside is a 12 pack of Charmin will block her view creating poor driving conditions. However, those driving conditions are hilarious when you're on the "watching" end.

Aries would drive down the very center of each aisle making it impossible for people to get around her. She would turn her wheel and move forward in an attempt to back up and move out of the way or turn around except the concept of turning the wheel the opposite way was beyond her grasp.

I stood there trying to guide her through constant laughter.

AP: Aries, turn the handlebars the other way.

AA: What way?

AP: The opposite way.

AA: The opposite way of WHAT?!

AP: Right now you're turning to the right. When you back up, turn to the left and it will swing your fanny the other way so you'll have room to get turned around.

AA: Left of WHAT?! I DON'T GET IT!!!!!

AP: Oh dear gawd. Turn the handlebars counter clockwise to get out.


AP: [laughing hysterically] Holy shit, hang on. [I walk over and place my right hand on top of her right hand and make a four inch movement counter clockwise]. Now...go backwards.

It was a combination of wanting to throttle her, laughing until I cried and wanting to yell at her for not just doing what I asked.

We got to the self serve check out and I began whipping everything across the bar code reader when this extremely tall, large woman with a dog on a leash walked up to Aries and said she wanted to use the cart when she was done with it. Aries, promptly asked me for her crutches and started to get off the cart.

Having been taken advantage of quite a bit lately, I was in no mood to have some stranger bossin' my kid around. I quickly told Aries too sit her butt down, turned to the obviously healthy woman who has good working legs and told her she could have it when we were done with it. She was welcomed to wait. The woman disappeared to a bench in the pharmacy and sat down.

I didn't see her trying to roll some old fart for their cart.

I quickly reminded Aries of the fact that it's okay to take care of yourself and put yourself first.

When we concluded our shopping, I then told the woman we'd be back and went to the bank. I'm so bad. On our way back through the big woman jumped up and acted like she expected us to gather our things on some magic carpet while Aries crutched her little ass out to the car. I invited her to *walk* outside while I pulled the car around. Which she did.

Aries and I laughed all the way home about our adventure. She was only on the crutches for two days...thank Goddess. Though she didn't feel it was necessary, she's still braced up this week. I watched her last night and she was walking around the house without my hesitation. When we discussed the wearing of the brace for the next couple of days she replied, "Well, I guess that's the consequences for turning wrong and bonking into a chair and hurting your knee. Guess I'll live."

Indeed she will as long as I have anything to say about it.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

An Aries knee-d

I received a call from Aries' school this morning. She injured her knee while in her morning "daycare" before school started. I dropped everything (i.e., watching the news) and shot like a bullet up to her school - which was easy to do in my Mustang.

There, inside her daycare and still lying on the floor, lay my little one.

AP: I'm looking for a broken little girl I can take home.

AA: I'm down here, Mommy.

AP: That's too bad because I only want to take an uninjured girl home. Sorry!! [I turned to walk toward the door].

AA: Oh, very funny, Mahhhm.

Apparently she was walking across the room when someone behind her said something. She stopped and quickly turned, her foot stayed facing forward. She hyper-extended her knee, heard it pop and dropped to the floor.

By the time I had gotten to the school only 15 minutes after the fact, it was swollen about twice as big as normal. All the other kids headed to class and the only teacher present with her is seven and a half months pregnant and couldn't help her up.

There was my little girl crumpled on the floor, ice on her knee and covered with a blanket. The principal brought in a wheel chair and we got her into the car. I got her home and put my patience cap on while she hopped (VERY SLOWLY) toward the front door.

AA: One, two, three, HOP.

AP: this is going to be a long 20 feet to the front door

AA: One, two, three, HOP.


AA: One, two, three, HOP.

AP: oh for cryin' out loud, stop being an impatient asshole, she's hurt

HT: Does she need help getting in the house? Is she hurt or something. [There before me stood my ray of light, my vision of hope, Hot Toddy's Toaster Oven].

I informed Hot that she "blew" her knee but I didn't know how bad it was. Bless his heart, he picked her up and carried her to the front door and then picked her up again and carried her up the stairs into the livingroom.

Blah Blah doctor booked solid and can't see her. Fast forward to the emergency room at Mt. Hood Medical. I run in and get a wheelchair for Aries. She maneuvers herself out of the car and into the chair and immediately realizes just how "zippy" wheelchairs are.

AA: These chairs are fun, I want one!!!

AP: Yeah, well you might want to talk to someone who doesn't have working legs. I think they might disagree with you on that point.

I went through all the usual b.s. of admitting her and she wheeled her little ass all over the waiting room. She finally stopped by a rather large woman in another wheel chair who had fallen asleep and was snoring so hard Aries started to laugh and couldn't stop.

Then she moved her chair to the other side of the waiting room and realized she had planted herself right next to a woman who had the flu and was vomiting in a barf bag. She couldn't wheel herself away from her quickly enough. I don't think Aries is a sympathy puker, but I didn't want to find out.

She ended up parked in front of the vending machine while we discussed our favorites in order of "can't live without."

AA: [out of nowhere] I was thinking. You know how when people are going too get married they get cold feet? How cold do their feet really get? I mean, what is it about being married that makes their feet cold? I don't get it.

AP: [laughing hysterically] You are the cutest kid, ever.

She was in good spirits considering she was in pain and couldn't walk. The docs and nurses all fell in love with her. The doc said the pop she heard was likely her knee cap. Said it's not uncommon for it to pop out and back into place and that it is very painful when it happens and will cause swelling. X-rays didn't show any damage that he could see. He's calling it a sprained knee and she's donning a knee brace for a week.

I stopped by the pharmacy and picked her up some crutches as she's supposed to be non-weight bearing for a couple of days. Segue to tomorrow's post, The Crutches.

Goddess give me strength.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Sun is out and so am I

I sat down to post today and can't seem to concentrate long enough to do so. You see, the sun is out here in Portland. The weatherman whose vocabulary is limited to the words "rain" and "storm" for nine months a year here, was kind to me this morning and said what sounded like, "Hey, Aub, it's going to be sunny and in the upper 50's all week. So put your Seasonal Affective Disorder in a sack, Sister, and get your ass outside."

I may be paraphrasing just a bit, but I'm thinkin' that's pretty darn close to what he said. Anyhoo, who am I to argue with such brilliant advice?!

So far it's been a kick ass day. I slept well, got new lenses for my progessive lenses (stupid birthdays keep making my eyes worse), while I was waiting for my new lenses to be cut I had tea with my friend (my eye doctor), bought myself and Young Stud a copy of the book Hot Toddy recommended, had lunch with Young Stud who sees right into the soul of me and makes me smile. He and I participated in an orgasmic Creme Brule... and now I'm here blowing off my blog in exchange for sunshine.

I think I'll go get Auburn Aries early from school, return home and wash my car while she plays outside. It's just what I need. Yippee ki yo, mo fo!!! (Sorry, I'm feeling giddy).

Friday, February 03, 2006

When in doubt, I asked a Guru

When I wrote my last post, I was experiencing a feeling of being lost even though I know who and where I am. I knew it was going to take someone whose path in life had more experience from which to draw than my own.

I have a blog friend, a person whom I've never met other than comments and emails, that I contacted for help. This man is someone that I have admired and respected from the moment I read his words. His insightfulness and clarity speaks to me daily. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't imagine what it will be like when I have what he has spiritually. His life, his path, his depth makes me want to be a better person and spiritually wiser.

Given a different set of circumstances one might say it was jealousy. However, jealousy is depicts such an ugly connotation and is typically indicative of someone having something you want that you may or may not ever have. In this particular instance, I have what he has it's just on a smaller scale. He is the Master and I the student.

The gentleman to which I am referring is Gurustu. I had never spoken to Guru before last night. In fact our communication had been limited to emails and very few at that, but I knew he could help me. I knew that conversing with him would get me back on track and it did.

Gurustu is not my personal therapist. I simply knew that because of his spiritual nature and his connectedness with the Universe that he would "get me." I walked away from our conversation feeling whole again. Not because someone else made me feel that way but because he reminded me of what's real.

With all the chaos that has been in my life the last couple of months, I had lost sight of... me. I don't know that I will ever be able to thank Gurustu for all he did for me last night. I felt peace last night for the first time in over a month. I slept well and awoke feeling glad to be me. I love who I am and I am blessed in so many ways.

I got a lot accomplished today. They may not have been items on my "laundry" list that was so important yesterday morning. In fact, none of them were items on the list that seemed important yesterday. Today I turned inward and thought about me and my truth and what I needed to do to put the balance back into my life and from there it was easy.

Gurustu's website is my homepage. It has been for quite a while now. I go there everyday if even if it's just for five minutes because every day I gain something from his insight and that which he shares. If you haven't ever looked at his website, do so. You won't regret it.

So, Gurustu, thank you for helping me find what had been missing. Success is truly in the journey and in living true to my path. I look forward to the next time we talk.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Where did I go?

I find as I sit at the keyboard today that I am overwhelmed with a feeling of being lost. Not lost in a dismal sense. I feel lost in a weak sense. I do not feel the fire in my belly I normally feel. It seems I've spent so much time focusing on the needs of other people, regardless of whether or not they've asked for it or I have just been mentally consumed by it, I've lost my sense of self.

Where is the woman who loves to write? Where are the deep, meaningful words that normally flow so easily for me? About me. About my life. I feel small today.

I have so much to do each day I have to make a list of that which needs to be accomplished, yet my housework goes undone. Perhaps I should put it on the list! I hate my house messy and cluttered, however, for right now - I don't care to clean it.

I need to smudge my house. K9's gross-ass energy is still here. The negativity that comprises who he is as a human being still lingers. He left a brand new Zippo lighter on my dresser. One he said I could have. I'll be putting it in the trash today. I don't want anything of his anywhere in this house. He gave me two cards professing his gratitude and how much I mean to him..."I don't think I knew what a true friend was until I met you." I'll be burning them today.

I went to C.C.'s last night with The Professor and Hot Toddy. The owner was in and he and I touched base. He told me that K9 called him from Denver and said that his ex-girlfriend or his exes Mom (he couldn't remember which) was in a coma and that's why he had to leave for Denver.

I promptly told Mr. C.C. the truth. About everything. I did not want to be guilty by association with regard to anything K9 said. K9 is a big, fat liar. Period. That's why I'll be burning the cards. I have no reason to believe any of the words he's written.

I can't shake his ugliness. It's robbed me of my ability to regain myself and as long as I allow that to happen, he wins.

Since losing my job in December, I haven't had enough solitude to do my healing from that. Today I feel worthless and question why anyone would want to hire me. Again, I'm allowing the bullshit of my last employer to affect who and what I am. Again, too much power given to people who do not deserve it.

Fact of the matter is I'm a strong, beautiful woman with a lot of integrity. Any employer would be lucky to have me. What I feared would happen, did. When I lost my job K9 was staying here and I worried that the all-consuming nature of his pathetic life would suck the life out of mine. I have to stop this.

My home is my sanctuary. It's where I get grounded. It's where I find peace. All of the outside world and its influence only comes inside of my home if I allow it in. Which I generally try not to. The veil feels thin right now and stuff is getting in. Or is chaos living inside of my world and I can't get it out?

I can feel Marilyn inside here. I know I'm in here somewhere. But where has my energy and enthusiasm gone? Where is the woman who is strong enough to dismiss that which isn't conducive to my life, my path? I feel robbed of my momentum.

I'm tired of feeling this way. It's been going of for a few weeks now. I'm optimistic that writing about it will help but I don't know.

What I do know is this is not who I am. This is not who I want to be. I don't usually consider myself weak. This is not a feeling I like. I've never lost a job before. I didn't realize what it had the capability of doing to my psyche.

The good thing is I can feel the fight in me. That's what I meant when I said I can feel Marilyn inside of me. This outer shell has become someone I don't know but I do know that whoever this is that has temporarily become bigger than who I normally am, won't win. Wow, what a cumbersome sentence. It doesn't matter if you didn't get it. I did.

I want my old self back. Some how, some way, I'll find myself again. It's just wading through this mental bullshit that's weighing me down. I need to have a long conversation with someone more spiritual than myself to help me snap out of this.