Kiss5Tigers

The 5 Tigers represent the big things in life. This blog is about facing them.


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What I Did Today

Today has been a rather eventful day. Especially considering it was supposed to be a relatively slow day.

The plan was to start the day about 8:30 or 9:00, take a shower, go to Recovery International, and have lunch with a friend. I did actually wake up at 8:45 but it all went to hell after that.

It started with a text message from my daughter: “Dude the last 12 hours have been ridiculous and a waste of $100.”

I knew she was serious because she doesn’t usually call me dude. It took a few messages, and you need some back story to know what was going on.

Daughter is on a road trip with some friends. They went to Rainbow Gathering in Georgia, then spent a few days in Naples, FL and were headed to New Orleans. At 5 in the morning they hit Pensacola and decided to stop. They were going to sleep in the car under a bridge but they found out that someone else had tried the same thing about 10 hours earlier and got shot dead. Now we are talking about 3 girls in a car who don’t know anybody. That means some random person — and in my head it’s a homeless guy bumming a cigarette — told them this story that made them uncomfortable. They decided to rent a hotel room instead. This is the $100. Check out time was 11:00 so they didn’t even get showers.

Then before hitting the road again, they went to a dog park. One of the girls had brought her 2 dogs which seems like a lot but personally I’m glad they had the protection. One of the dogs got off the leash, and someone pulled a gun on the girls. I asked my daughter about this, because I thought the whole point of a dog park was to let the dogs off their leash. She replied, “THAT’S WHAT YOU WOULD THINK, HUH?” And followed it up with, “Fuck Pensacola!”

The problem of course was that they had no money and no food. Uh huh. I’m surprised I didn’t get this call sooner. I’m on unemployment right now and I hadn’t gotten paid for the last two weeks yet, so I said there was nothing I could do. My roommate F gave me $60 to send her. We spent an hour trying to figure it out, and finally I paypal’d it to her. She is in New Orleans now, no further incidents.

The girls lucked out in New Orleans, too. They got an Air BnB a couple blocks off the French Quarter for 3 days for under $150. I might be jealous!

All of this took the hour I had for getting to my meeting. I still had to take shower before I could go and get dressed. I made it to RI but I was an hour late.

What is RI? In this case, Recovery International. It’s a sort of rational recovery program for mental health issues. Dr. Low developed the method back in the 50’s, so that was early days for psychiatry in a lot of ways. He referred to his patients as “nervous” rather than ill. He believed that getting worked up was an expression of either fearful or angry temper. He defined fearful as internal and angry as direction outward. His method is basically to have people talk themselves down using sayings and adages that he calls tools. They might be as simple as “peace is our goal” or as complicated as “people do things that annoy us, not to annoy us,” or even as pithy as “Try not to take your own dear self too seriously”. We meet weekly as a group and talk about how to use these tools in our daily lives.

I was so late, I missed the reading for the day and about half the discussion. At least I got to check in with everyone.

Afterwards I caught up with my friend R. He is the president of the local chapter of DBSA ( Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance )and he was delivering flyers around town. He wanted company while he did it, and basically he bribed me with lunch. It was a good day. I met several people in the mental health field, ranging from EAP workers (employee assistance plan) to the folks at Prism Health (AIDS Arms) .  I really feel like, when I get done with the government, I can find a place in mental health, which is where I want to be.  Eventually.

Lunch was at a place called Henk’s which does German food and has a European bakery and chocolate shop in the restaurant. We got the lentil soup, which was amazing. I also got a salad. R got a side of sauerkraut and a beer with his. Turns out the bakery provides the treats to the Black Forest Cafe, a coffee shop that’s in my favorite bookstore, Half Price Books. Later we stopped for coffee. I had an iced cold brew which was very refreshing. R paid both times, which I thought was very kind of him. Basically, it took us all afternoon.

On the way home, I got a message from my roommate. His meds were ready at the pharmacy so would I pick them up? I ended up going to the pharmacy, the grocery store, and a local chicken joint. I stopped at the mailbox because I was hoping either my new headphones or my book had arrived but alas, no such luck. I finally got paid my unemployment, so I ordered some stamps online. I really like the current round of stamps, they are becoming very creative.

It is finally bed time. I have group tomorrow afternoon so I can sleep in a little. The cats are sitting on the bed waiting for me. All I need to do is take out my contacts. It’s been a busy day, but a good one.


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Sea Fever

Sea Fever

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.
     So this was, at one point, my father’s favorite poem.  I wanted to memorize it to honor him (he passed in 1984) but I have only gotten as far as the first couplet.  There are two other poems which I might share later that I would also memorize for him.  This is odd to me because Dad was a scientist, you wouldn’t think of him reading poetry.  Mom was a librarian, you’d think of her being more involved in literature, but I don’t know of a poem that was meaningful to her.  Just two books:  the Bible and The Once and Future King by T.H. White.
     Anyway, what brings all this up, is that my cousin sent me a picture today of Dad and Nana (his mother) on the boat we had while I was young.  The name of the boat was Sea Fever, after the poem above.  We sailed out of Beverly Harbor, through a facility called the Jubilee Yacht Club.  Here’s their website, they still exist.
     Now don’t get the idea that I grew up all rich because we owned a boat.  We didn’t have color TV or wall to wall carpeting or a dishwasher or even wallpaper.  But Dad wanted to sail, which we did many weekends, so we had a boat.  She was a 32 foot sloop, which means she had one mast with a sail on both sides of it, and a jib out over the bow.  All my memories of time on that boat are very visceral.  I miss the ocean, living landlocked as I do now.
     So I’m going to add the picture, my Nana looking prim and a little uncomfortable, Dad relaxed with a can of Budweiser in one hand and the tiller in the other.  Funny the things that bring up memories.  I can almost feel the rocking of the ocean and hear the seagulls and the lines clanking against the mast. This is probably around 1974; I believe by 1976 Dad owned a share in a small plane.  Look at Dad being all casual in trousers and a button shirt.  Notice that nobody wore jeans in my family, while I practically live in jeans these days.  It was a different era.


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Being unfriended

I got a private message from someone saying that my comments on her posts only make her feel worse so she was going to unfriend me.  She must have already blocked me because I just happened to be online so I read the message almost as soon as it was posted and I wasn’t able to reply to her.

This makes me sad.  I didn’t know I was bothering her with my comments.  I wish she had said something before it got to this point.  I wish I knew better how to connect with her.

I know her from a mental health support group.  I assume she has issues, but then I have issues.  We all have issues there.  That’s why we’re in a mental health support group in the first place.  I would usually go to that group for feedback, but I don’t feel like I can.  I don’t want to piss her off even more, for a start, but I also don’t want to open myself up to trolling if I really am a jerk.

I don’t think I’m a jerk, but it matters what other people think of me.  Not a lot, but some.  I mean, you can hardly be a jerk to yourself but you might not see how you are being a jerk to other people.  We all get nearsighted and can’t see how what we did affects others.

So tell me I am being difficult for you before you get to the point where all you can do is run away.  I thought we were getting to know each other, but apparently that didn’t cut both ways.  I am sad.  I’m sad that she unfriended me and I’m sad that she didn’t speak up sooner and I’m sad that I don’t know what I did.

 


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Money

I know, it’s been a week since I posted anything.  I am visiting a friend, so I have been busy.  Friends are good.

Today I checked my bank balance and I am thinking about money.  Now I have a little money in the bank, I’m not freaked out about money, but it is on my mind.

So I’m thinking, let’s say I have $500 in my account.  It’s so easy for me to feel like, I can buy this $20 book, and these art supplies, and lunch for my friend, no big.  Except I still have bills (rent, car insurance, cell phone, the usual suspects) and that money needs to be accounted for too.  So I don’t have $500, I have more like $50.  Which is still okay, I don’t really need more art supplies, but it’s so easy to overspend.

I am really working on my relationship with money.  I have previously lived as though money were no object, it just didn’t matter.  But now I find I am not prepared for old age (I am in my 50s, old age is coming on fast!) and it’s a little late to start.  Not impossible, but definitely not easy.

However it’s only possible if I take control of how much money is coming in and where it’s going out to.  I must pay attention, which I’m not used to doing.

I have a friend who has an Excel spreadsheet with all, and I do mean all, her expenditures on it.  Not just her bills, but even a pack of gum or a bottled water.  She knows down to the penny where her money goes.  I admire her, but I would find that system a little stifling.  Just thinking about it makes me want to go out and spend money willy-nilly.

I did figure out that, just like the idea of dieting makes me want to eat, the idea of budgeting makes me want to spend.  It’s the difficult side of me, that wants exactly what it can’t or shouldn’t have.  Tell me no and probably that is the next thing I MUST do.  Not so much in friendships, but life in general.

I am on unemployment at the moment so there’s very little wiggle room with regard to money.  I need to play it close to the chest, yes I do, and not give in even when I have amazing coupons and a specific book I want.  I don’t need a book.  I do need peanut butter.  I guess I don’t NEED peanut butter but I eat it regularly for breakfast.  Mmmm, peanut butter toast, yum.  The point is, there’s only so much money and some things take priority.  Rent over extra gas to run around, for example.  I need a place to live, I can live without seeing my friends all the time.

So, relationship with money.  I guess it’s avoidant and passive-aggressive.  If only money would be in a relationship with me, then my being manipulative would at least have an effect.  Alas, it is just me and my financial resources.

I am working with a mantra, “there’s always more money”, as a way to combat that crazy urge to spend.  I don’t have to buy it now, I can buy it later, because there’s always more money.  There will be more money in the future when I need the thing, I don’t need to buy it right now.  I don’t need to have it handy in case I need it sometime maybe.  I’m not going to run out of money forever, I will earn more, I am broke not broken.  It gives me great sympathy for hoarders and bag ladies.  I don’t want to be either one.

I will figure this out.  I am smart and motivated and I don’t want to die poor.  I don’t need to die rich, but I don’t want to be hurting for resources when I’m old.  It’s just another puzzle in life.


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Letting Go

I am a mother.  About 22 years ago, I gave birth to the world’s most perfect child.  Which, of course, every mother probably thinks.

Only now she isn’t a child any more, she is an adult.  A YOUNG adult, but an adult nonetheless.  And probably not that young, come to think of it.

When I was 19, my parents died.  I was thrust into the world on my own.  By 22, I had gotten myself under control.  I can’t say I was a hugely successful adult, but I was working on it.  I don’t feel like my daughter is nearly as adult as I was.  Maybe that’s my own nearsightedness.  Maybe we always think too highly of ourselves.

My daughter has taken off on a road trip for a month.  A month!  Three girls and two dogs in a car with no money for a month.  She is loving it.  I am scared to death.

Okay, not scared to death but nervous as hell.  What about phone or meds?  Well those things are on me, actually.  I said I would pay her phone for her so she has that security.  Meds are more on her.  There isn’t much I can do about that.  She’s going to have to find a Kroger and come up with the money.  I might have to pay by phone, I don’t know.  I can’t help worrying.

What about the other people on the road?  What if she has a fight with her travel companions or something happens to one of the dogs?  Who will she meet, that might hurt her.  She is going to Rainbow Gathering, where there will be drugs and alcohol, no doubt.  She isn’t clean, she’ll try stuff.  What if something goes wrong with the experiment?

And yet, this is exactly what’s supposed to happen.  She’s supposed to grow up and build a life apart from me.  Take the trip while she’s young and optimistic.  Do the stupid things while there’s time to recover.  Live!  Live the life she dreams of, before reality sets in and she has to sell out to pay for the daily needs.   How many of us work a job that doesn’t make us happy just to pay for rent and food?

I am supposed to let her go.  Push her out of the nest and watch her fly away.  I wonder if mother owls go through that.  “Get out, get out, get out, no, don’t go!”  Probably not.  Nature doesn’t second guess itself.

So she goes and I chew my fingernails.  I hope she never sees me do that.  I want a strong brave adventurous girl, not a wimpy little person afraid to take a risk.   I want her to fly strong and swift.

In about 25 years, I won’t be able to live alone any more.  I’ll have to come home to her nest and wait out my days.  Separation isn’t forever and the roles will reverse.

Until then, I watch her head out and miss her.


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Water

I am learning to love drinking water.  Oh I know, what a cliche, water is good for you, blah blah.

I am a soft drink person.  Honestly my favorite is strawberry Kool-Aid but I also like sweet tea and Diet Coke.  Not to mention coffee, lots and lots of coffee.

While these things are tasty, they don’t really resolve the issue of thirst.  I can drink a soda and still feel thirsty.  I have had a glass water with my coffee.  Sometimes water is the only thing that actually quenches my thirst.

I like my water cold, and I mean cold.  My favorite water is melted ice, that’s how cold I like it.  Some people like it room temperature or even warm but for me it should be frigid.

Even as I write this, my trusty water cup is next to me.  I have this wonderful travel cup, designed for coffee, that keeps my drink so cold sometimes there’s still ice in it the next morning.  Yep, a 95th anniversary State Farm travel cup.  It was even a gimme, and it does the job perfectly.

What got me into water?  Well it started when I moved to Texas.  The heat in the summer just takes it out of me.  Water puts it back.  I want to be clear that I mean the heat.  Natives complain about the humidity but it’s not that bad.  I come from a place where in the summer it can get to 95 degrees with 90% humidity.  There’s so much water in the air that you feel like you can’t breathe.  You sweat and there’s so much humidity that it doesn’t evaporate, your clothes just stick to you.  Texas is not humid like that, but it IS hot.

Then several years ago I worked a Renaissance fair in the late spring.  In Texas, that’s still in the 90’s.  At a ren fair, everything is outdoors, there is no air conditioning.  You do get used to the heat.  One of the unspoken rules is, you should drink enough water to need to pee about every hour.  I have a problem with retaining water so I drank like a camel and seldom needed the privvy.  People worried that I wasn’t hydrated enough.

Now I just carry water with me wherever I go.  It’s cheap because I drink tap water.  Finding ice is the hard part.  I can go to QT and get a huge styrofoam cup of ice and water for 28 cents.  Can’t buy bottled water for that little!

In conclusion I want to say, I don’t drink water for health reasons, although there are many health reasons for drinking water.  I drink it because these days, I like it.

 

 


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Ambivalent Job Search

Why ambivalent, you may ask?  Surely I am either looking for a job or not looking.  And well that’s the thing.

I’ve been a month with no income now and I am totally broke.  I didn’t think I’d have to wait this long to be deployed.  So I need some sort of paying gig for the next little while.  I will be checking out local food pantries for grocery assistance but I need to work for my mental health.  Days are starting to run together.  The other day I seriously asked my roommate if it was Saturday.  It was Tuesday.  Not good.

If I need to take a job, I’d like it to be something I’m interested in.  I think I would like to be a peer support specialist but I am not certified for it.  I believe I could do it, I just don’t meet the qualifications on paper.  I have completed the classwork but I don’t have hours as an intern and I can’t afford to work for free.  I also don’t have a degree yet.  I only owe 3 classes, but I also owe the school money and until that is handled, there will be no classes for me.  Unfortunately, nobody cares how far along the degree process you are.  If you haven’t finished, you might as well be in your first semester, years of work don’t count.

I get lists of jobs every day from Indeed and CareerBuilder.  CareerBuilder has lately been sending me engineering jobs.  I don’t understand that.  Nothing about my resume says engineer.  Indeed sends me everything containing the word “peer” and the word “specialist” so that’s a pretty wide variety of options, very few of them in mental health.

I like my job with the government and would like to be doing it, but this no income stuff is bull.  I need money, doesn’t matter what I like.  On the other hand, I can’t spend 8 hours a day hating what I do.  Either I need something I could be committed to and give up the government position or I need something I don’t hate that I could quit at a moment’s notice when I get deployed.  Since this is civil service, not military, there is no requirement for the employer to keep a job for me.  I hate to take a job knowing I would leave it, but . . .

So why am I ambivalent?  Because I don’t know what I want.  I look half-heartedly in case there is something really good out there.  I apply to jobs I’m probably not qualified for because of the pay or my interest.  I am required to make a certain number of applications per week while I’m collecting unemployment, if someone decides to pay me.  But I really want to just do the job I am already hired to do.

I don’t want bad things to happen to people, but I need a disaster to happen so I can work.  And I am ambivalent about that, too.

It’s hard to hold two separate and opposite ideas in mind, and yet here I am.

Something good will happen soon and this will be a non-issue, I just have to hold on until then.