Magic to Mute

Sometimes the pain is too loud,

Sometimes the loss too great,

Sometimes the cost so high,

But to be true – you pay and pay,

Magic cannot erase pain and loss,

But to mute the screaming,

To dull the pain to a stiller drone,

To gray the hot pink of vulnerability,

To darken the acid green of dashed hope,

To blend storm gray into too bold a blue,

To tone down the misery to tolerable agony,

Colors can be dulled down,

Bright hard sharp edges softened,

A vat of dark dye and desires spoken,

Widdershins the stir of will and word,

Take back the gift – the poison,

Take back power surrendered,

Reclaim, re-own, recycle the dream!

Feel the shift in shade and meaning,

Spin in the bare crescent’s light…

Returning, returning, returning!

What was mine is mine again,

Memory darkened and lessons minded,

But no surrender and messages sent,

One lost battle is not a lost war!

Another day – will you see me coming in new colors grayed?

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Dance Card Full – Magical and Mundane

Yesterday was a day most people would call an emotional rollercoaster. I think that phrase is inadequate, though it does remind me of recent news footage of people trapped ON rollercoasters that were in some manner fucked up, with cars dangling on high.  It was a piece of misery in motion, is what it was – the final day of my adopted and beloved Marine son R. before he left to accompany his long unhappy neurotic wife back to her home state.  He was keeping his marital oaths, from his point of view, although doing so trashed his every dream and took him from us – the family that loves him deeply.

I want him to know, it isn’t oath-breaking if the other person has already broken those same oaths of cherishing and loving.  But he can’t hear that yet.

So we went out to the converted garage space to consider how to move my eldest son there to give him more personal space and privacy as he continues to put his life back together in the wake of injuries from military service and inability to work most jobs.  I’d like my garage back, but as we said when we gave it up for the young man we wept for last night; people come first in this house – over mere cars.  We found almost every gift we ever gave to that narcissistic young woman left behind.  We found gifts given to our Marine left behind as well  (The sketchbooks  for fuck’s sake?!)- and that broke us into tears and rage. We found the space, furnishings, the bookcases, the drawers very dirty — in this space given to a young woman who considered MY dishes too dirty to eat from, my house too dirty to live within.  I cleaned and cleaned last night, and there is more to do today as a start.  The window ledge, made from a piece of wood once part of an altar, has a black spot over one foot square – mildewed/molded because she insisted on putting a cat’s water dish there – while constantly complaining to me of the smell of mildew!  She created the very issues she endlessly bitched about to me.

The next few weeks here will be chaotic.  A new propane fireplace will be installed, requiring entirely new finishing woodwork.  My remaining sons are making plans and preparations for something splendid!  A new kitchen stove will be installed as the old one fails.   Just to move my son and his widespread accouterments scattered about the house will require movement and work in virtually every room of the house.  There will be painting even!  The physicality of it, along with requisite smudging wands of cedar and sage should help burn off the anger, the insults, the grief.

The load in the pick-up truck is larger because we piled all things left behind in it to go to the dump.  We want NO memories of a woman whose entire goal for over a year was to sabotage the five year plan for her husband and her to live here rent free, grocery subsidized –  even car-subsidized – while he got his degree.  We tried very hard.  We made excuses for some pretty intolerable behavior.  We endured until we could not; I told her off for her behavior exactly ONCE.  We were civil while the long misery of the pack out and wait to leave went on and interminably on.

I am done with civil.  Our Marine was not the oathbreaker.  We will re-take and re-shape our home and lives here.  We start with mentally casting the actual breaker of oaths – and hearts  into the darkness of non-existence.  Her name will not be said in this house, no photo of her will remain, nor item she left be intact.  Nothing she touched will be left unchanged.  Peace will come slowly: with sweat, tears, and smoke.

So be it. So be it. So be it.

New Moon – Condensing Peace

The last several weeks since I finally lost my temper a the phobic and unhappy “bride” living in my converted garage have been very uncomfortable. Potent nasty silences have been common and gifts given to her over the last year here have covertly been returned, wordlessly, to the household.  It seems very petty and meanly done, but whatever – I cannot be bothered with searching for resolutions that will not be found and are not desired (by her) in any case.  By Monday night next, they will be gone on their way back to New York.  And this household will swing into cleaning the space and reclaiming it.

The tension has made motion already happen – both of my sons are away camping so as to not have to watch the pack-out that begins tomorrow.  My husband is joining them for tonight.  I am here with the pets to watch and the New Moon sailing overhead in the cloudy drizzling sky.  Today is the last day of school for the Marine who will obligingly take his New York wife home where there are none of the apparently myriad problems that exist here on the wrong coast.  So I have a day to myself – before the unhappy couple comes home sometime this evening.

So I will indulge myself!  I went about my gardens this morning picking blossoms and bits to make a magical potion called an “elemental condenser”!  While I doubt the existence of gods, I do not doubt the flow of force and majesty of nature – and for me this potion I make is something to send a magical telegram to the Elemental forces.  It is the liquid letter upon which I write my magical Will — in this case for peace and protection of my household and family.  I often make individual potions: Earth, Air, Water, Fire.  But today I let my inner Jesuit play at titles and make what I call my Condensor-General!  All the elements will be included in one formula that be used to magically bless, cleanse, protect and yes, of course, to bewitch!

I chose my ingredients with especial care – making it largely a “blossom” potion – a delicacy of the too-late variety perhaps; symbolizing the diplomacy I attempted for the entire last year and failed at utterly.  I want to put away the hurt feelings, the anger, the confusion, grief, and loss.  I want to feel like the power I gave away to an insistent guest is mine again.  Thus an item not picked in my garden – mandrake root.

It is as much a psychologically healing endeavor as a magical one.  The process of making the solution is added up in times for potency of thought and Will.  Every blossom has a magical attribution, but also a personal symbolism to me.  Cooking it all a select time and seeing the blossoms fade to colorless shapes reminds me to let go of the hot and cold emotions that have roiled me and my household for over a month now.

Cooling, straining, and cooking the solution to double strength speak to me about intention to move forward strengthening my ability to recover and cope as we go forward.  Alcohol to preserve will be incorporated and it will be put in a pretty bottle.    I will do other things I love today — produce piles of sweet clean laundry, bathe and walk across my own house naked for the first time in a year, drink wine with my dinner, make home-made sourdough English muffins, and comfort lonely kitty cats and feed a friendly pair of ravens hanging out in our yard for the season.  I will light candles, chant and dance for the New Moon bringing healing and growth.  May it be thus for you, too!

Sometimes, I Can’t Even….

My sons are going camping soon. My husband (and the soon-to-depart garage apartment dwellers) will be staying home to take care of pets and garden. I have been urged to go camping.

I’d love to, I admit.  But my back is acting up and (presumed) allergy related gut issues plague me to remind me (apparently?) that getting old is not for sissies.  So I doubt I will go.

But the idea of trees overhead, elk in view, no television, no news – no horrible preponderance of stories about people murdering their own children in various ways would be such a relief about now.  No more stupidities spouted by Der Trumpenfuhrer for a while!

To just see woods, wind, water…

Maybe I will just take a news break HERE in place for a time?

The Eyes Do Roll

Sometimes the cuckoo clock is not the only cuckoo thing in this house.

Sometimes the pets are a wee bit crazy.  Since we rescued a little cat this month, Beatrice the Bitchy (called thus for hating all other four legged beings) has been rather nutso.  She alternates between being obsequious as a used car salesman in her behavior to humans and violently lunatic raving screaming hostile if she sees the bewildered little refugee on the porch.  Does she know how wild that oscillation seems to us?

Likely not.  She is just a little very fat Uber-cat who thinks there should be only one!  If only the cat and the cuckoo clock were the only oscillating irregularities!

But people should know when they are behaving that far off the mark, right?

People who are passive aggressive are generally that way for one or two different reasons. For instance it is possible they fear being direct for some reason or they don’t want to appear to be “the bad guy.”  Nobody likes being the bad guy, after all.  In our family, I’ve almost always had to be the bad guy: the one who said “no” to things we couldn’t afford, the one who enforced household rules, the one who made chore lists and punished those not in compliance — basically the adult in charge when others wanted to indulge in occasionally childishly defiant behaviors.  Almost every parent knows what that feels like and gets very tired of it.

I’ve known parents of the “friend” model.  They don’t do that tough bad guy “adulting” stuff well if at all – they want their kids to like them.  They don’t call their kids, or their spouses, or their friends on negative behaviors like verbal grenading or passive aggression or bad grades or underage drinking or unsafe sex practices.  It all gets swept under a rug by their OWN passive aggression.  And it sadly seems to always end in a pattern of staggeringly bad consequences.

That is why I’ve become rather uncomfortably comfortable with being the bad guy; I even wear villainous black most of the time to remind myself to concentrate on honest confrontation as necessary to handle problems.  But in a household of adults, to be honest, problem solving is rarely managed by only one person.  There is a requirement  for both sides to seek a solution and that means admission OF a problem in most cases.  If one side simply labels everything that is not working as “not MY fault” or “not MY problem” there isn’t going to be a civil resolution.

Mental health issues are often a base for this sort of thing.  For over 35 years of my marriage, I struggled to fix problems created by my spouse’s PTSD, for instance.  He did not admit to the problem and fought all solutions.  It made for a very rough marital road.  It was destructive to us both.  It wasn’t until his sons confronted him quite vocally that he realized how his behavior appeared to everyone except him.  He has been seeking help with an increasingly cooperative mind-set over the last five to six years and it is helping.  Now, I have to find my own road back from the damages I have taken over those years, too.  My own emotions are pretty mangled and muted by years of not being heard. Counseling DOES help – even if at times it is uncomfortable!

If someone knows they have problems and refuses to seek help, deeming such “unnecessary” or “enough already”?  It is not going to end well at all.  Like this guy, he had an actual diagnosis and was on medication until he decided he was not mentally ill.  Because sure, he would be the one qualified to make that decision, right?  He bitches about his parents, who had to go to court to get him out of their house after eight years of his sponging off them while making them miserable and possibly frightening them, too.  He says he doesn’t like their “small talk” and it is “harassment.”  No, you giant ingrate – it is not harassment; it is your parents trying to let you know that although they cannot live with you, they CARE about you.  Here is the hint: your parents are maintaining normal life.  You are NOT: you can’t keep a job, your marriage failed, you lost custody of a kid for a REASON.  If everything in your life is sucky – it just might be YOU that is the cause.

Adults living with other legal adults with mental health issues don’t have a lot of options.  They cannot force said troubled adult – whether child, spouse, or in-law into medical help of any sort.  Ultimately, all they can do is say “NO” to negative behaviors and such lack of tolerance for the craziness may end a relationship entirely.  It is not risk-free.  Ask any woman who said no to a husband with a gun and a mental hair trigger.  Ask any parent who has had a child go from screaming “I hate you!” to taking a swing at them.  It is a requirement for me to regularly ask myself if I am the source of “suck” in my own life.

Sometimes I am.  If I am not taking care of myself physically and suffering more pain that usual – that is on me.  If I am angry because I am avoiding dealing with a problem, that is on me. If I am being gaslighted because I told someone to stop being snide and nasty and they just couldn’t handle being called on their behavior?  That is not on me.  If this person KNOWS there are problems and refuses the help she insists any others in her own life must get?  Well, double standard?  Hypocrisy?  IS there a nice word for it?

My life works. I’ve done my work on myself and keep doing it routinely.  I’ve managed to hold it together for almost 65 years now without becoming a drunk, an addict, or any other sort of out-of-control sort.  So when a twenty-something who doesn’t work, has never worked, and cannot manage phobic, neurotic behaviors is leaving because I shouted at her that one time?  Well, yeah — I guess I should be glad I didn’t need a lawyer to make it happen, eh?

Note to Self

For future reference in semi-enforced household relationships: it will NEVER end well when opening conversations begun by other person begin with ANY of the following topics within the first two weeks of meeting:

*Having a colonoscopy without anesthetic

*Being accused by one’s own mother of stealing jewelry

*How college failed because all the professors were assholes

*How in-laws were insulted (by speaker) so badly that they can never again be faced at all

*Lengthy lectures on how everyone else is doing an esoteric religion wrongly – unlike the speaker telling you this

Meet the Banshee

There is a little house we pass by regularly. A few months ago, the inhabitants were tearing apart pallets and painstakingly making a picket fence with the recycled wood. Then the fence was knocked down, and days later the house was laboriously boarded up — every window and door, even the garage. We don’t know if it was police action or a foreclosure – but it was violent: household goods thrown into the spring rains, a tree knocked down, parts of the front porch destroyed.

Driving past this last Tuesday, a motion on the destroyed porch caught my eye – a cat. The small form was sitting upright, and then dropped its head to paws in a mode that has always signified misery in our own household cats. We turned and went back, and the cat, a young calico, darted under the ruined porch.

But she cried most piteously from her hidden position. Finally she came out, shy and frightened. I caught her and she was fine with being held till I re-entered the car. She has been living on my own enclosed porch since then – eating voraciously and even more starved for human attention and affection.  She is young and we treated her for fleas.  A vet visit is in the near future.

I am allergic to cats, we already have Beatrice the Bitchy – a grouchy, possessive tortoiseshell – who belongs to my eldest, the Manchild.  The two cats made horrid sounds at each other on sight.  The new rescue made the loudest and found her name: Banshee.  She also hisses and strikes ceramic cats, stuffed dolls, and other things that might be competition for our attentions.

I couldn’t leave her there to starve, or be struck by a car on the busy road as she waited for people who clearly cannot return.  I am an idiot and a sucker.  And so it goes.

Fun in Dysfunction?

I need a reason to use my fountain pens, you see? Writing letters does no good these days – nobody answers them!  So I bought, sometime ago, this little notebook which gives you the first line or two of a story that you are meant to finish in one page.  I had forgotten about it for a while in the overall rush of life around here.

I admit, it gets some of the political angst and dystopian terrors out of my head!  So here is an example for you!  The italicized bit is the part the book has started:

“Deal!”

Harry shuffled the deck of cards and pushed it across the table. “Deal,” he said. “One more hand,” I agreed.  It was a way to pass the time.  More importantly, it was a way to avoid talking about the problem we were tired of arguing over all the time.  When did it all get so difficult?  What happened to the real fun we used to have together?

Well, not just us, I guess. I’m not sure anyone has much fun anymore.  Almost nobody has any money.  Everyone uses up their food chits by the third week of the month.  Most folks look sleep deprived – specially those with gardens or chickens in the back yards.  Households take turns mounting guards on those sparse spare food sources – you can eat or sleep, but rarely both.

During the daytime, those not working at crappy Amazon warehouse jobs are busy keeping up online with the “pop-ups.” The 1% types have a public relations campaign as benefactors where they “pop” up at unannounced venues to pass out goodies.  Sometimes even jobs, but more often things like survival kits for purported emergencies like quakes or storms; but we know those kits will feed families that same night.  Social media sites highlight these new “opiates” of the masses moments as if they are Christmas.

Television tells the never-ending war news and begs for fresh warm bodies to go to the recruitment trains.  Few takers there means there has been more talk in Congress of lowering the draft age again – this time to age 16.  But that hit a snag when the Light Web broadcast video of a mass suicide of 17 year old women at a draft center gun range, this resulted in a peculiar silence about draft age.

Harry turns 17 next month, as do I.  He wants to knock me up to give me time to get across the border into Canada or Mexico.  But for now, we play cards instead.

Divorce – When You Leave Your Cellphone Carrier

I’ve been hating AT&T for a good long while. My husband insisted they all cost the same and that AT&T gave him a discount as a Boeing employee.  Recently, however, our discontent with lousy coverage from AT&T made our sons decide they HAD to leave the family plan and go elsewhere.  My phone does not have the exclusively AT&T chip (as theirs did), so I was going to go with them.  That left only the Minotaur himself with AT&T.

So we all jumped – though three of us had to buy new phones.  We went to T-Mobile, they had a great plan for military members and retirees – four phone plans for $100 per month, reduced to $80 per month IF you signed up for automatic payment.  Three new phones and insurance added about another $100 per month.  This was still a great deal below AT&T’s rapacious $260 per month.  And we got FIVE TIMES more data!

So what is the “but” you ask?

Well, T-Mobile offers “break up” funds — they told us they would pay “up to $650 per phone” to cover costs of leaving our carrier.  We took that, incorrectly, to mean they would pay OFF the phones still having a balance at our old carrier.  That is not what happened.  The balance owed on three phones bought from AT&T came to $1100!  T-Mobile is sending us a debit card with only about $650.  Apparently, they only pay you what they GET from the phones you relinquish at the time of sign up.  So we were suddenly on the hook for $500 I didn’t expect.  And since AT&T, being made of ass, did NOT mail us our final bill as requested — we finally got the news online with only 4 days to come up with said $500.  It felt, irrationally, as if we were being punished for leaving – if we waited to pay until we got the card from T-Mobile, we would be put in collections.

So our new cellphone carrier is cheaper monthly, but a bit skeevy about how they keep advertised promises — all that damned small print.  And our old carrier IS really asinine.  I hate cellphones.  I hate computers.  I like phones on walls and letters.  But I know the world doesn’t move that way any longer, so I have both a cellphone and a computer.

Buyer beware – inquire closely about small print.  But it IS better than AT&T.  Now, we can actually GET phone calls while in a VA Hospital, for instance!