Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I don't think Houston really cares....

...but we may have a problem here. I think I'm addicted to the IDEA of caffeine. Don't let the picture fool you - that was the result of a week or so of my just being too lazy to bring the cans downstairs to recycle them. Not a day's consumption. I love Diet Coke. I admit it. I've never been able to make the jump to coffee. I love the way it smells, can't stand the way it tastes. Apparently my tongue lacks the coffee-drinking-grownup-person gene. Unfortunately the rest of my body lacks the stay-awake-unassisted gene and Diet Coke is my coffee. I actually drink it with my breakfast. I probably should pour it into a coffee mug to avoid the weird looks I get when I do it around people unfamiliar with this particular quirk of mine.

The thing is, I don't think caffeine really does anything for me. I really don't feel any more awake after my morning Cokefest. If, however, I skip it (and that rarely happens..) I feel like I missed my opportunity to get a little energy boost. Is it possible to be experience a placebo..non-effect? I'm aware that whatever I'm getting out of the caffeine is mostly psychological...but because I'm AWARE of it, I'm not really getting any effect. And yet I still do it. Let's all ponder the craziness of this. I'll be right back, just need to go grab another Diet Coke.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

fisheye

I think life has a voice. It whispers to us, it's brutally honest and most of us have become really adept at tuning it out. We hear it, but we don't really listen. "That isn't really good for you.", it scolds. "You THINK this is really important right now, but it's not." it insists. Yeah, yeah...I hear you, I hear you. And then we do what we're going to do, or keep obsessing about that thing we want. We stare straight ahead, focused on that unobtainable something, never looking left or right. Missing all the scenery.

But every now and then something happens that gets your attention. The voice shifts from a whisper to a shout. "HEY!! Look over here for ONE SECOND, OKAY??? I'm going to show you all the things you CAN have, if you just look around you.". You allow your focus to shift from zoom to wide angle and all kinds of things float into the frame. Whoah...where did all of THIS come from? Was this always here? Maybe, maybe not, but it's here now, and it's for you. And then you shift your focus back to whatever it was you wanted or needed so badly, and it doesn't even look the same. It's smaller somehow, when placed in perspective. It's suddenly so much less important. Maybe you don't want it anymore, or not as much. It's sort of uncomfortable to realize it..you were so accustomed to wanting it, how will you fill the time you used to spend pursuing it?

Then you switch back to wide-angle again. Oh YEAH. That's how.

I wish I listened to that voice more often, instead of always waiting until it screams for my attention, but I'm grateful for it nonetheless. Maybe I'll manage to stay tuned in a little longer this time around.

Friday, April 20, 2012

All I Want

I'm sitting at my desk right now, watching as my ex-husband drives away with our daughter. When he and I first met, he was in love with his car. An Acura Integra, he bought it new, it was the car he wanted and it made him happy. He spent hours in that car, just driving. I can't see an Acura Integra on the road without thinking about how much he loved his. Years later, after we'd married and divorced, he bought his next car - a Mustang. If there was ever a car he wanted more than his Integra, it was that Mustang. He worked hard, his job paid well, and he got the car. He got what he wanted. A few years later, it was totalled in an accident. Another driver ran a red light and smashed right into him - my daughter and his stepdaughters were in the car. None of them were hurt, thankfully. By then he was remarried and it wasn't practical to get another Mustang. He got something more sensible, something more suited to the needs of his family. It's a cute car, it looks like a toy. As I watch him drive away, I know this car will never feel like the Acura or the Mustang felt to him. It's not what he wants, but it's what he needs and what he can have.

I'm really not sure where I'm going with this. I guess I'm thinking about sacrifice and acceptance. Sometimes you give up something you want because there is something you want MORE, that means more to you than what you're giving up. Sometimes that's worthwhile. But other times it just feels like you can never get what you want. I'm watching him through the window of a rented townhouse. I'm not where I want to be. We (my current husband and I) wanted to keep our home, and we didn't get what we wanted. There are a lot of things I want - material and not, and so often these days it just feels like I will never get them.

But does it even matter? I remember how much I wanted my ex-husband (before he was my ex, or even my husband for that matter). That was a hard-won battle. I wanted a relationship, I wanted marriage. I got what I wanted and it eventually became something neither of us could bear. So we parted and are both better off for it. Is there any satisfaction in getting what you want if it's ultimately something you maybe shouldn't have had? That's not to say I regret it, I would never have had my daughter if I hadn't fought for what I wanted, but I DID campaign pretty hard for that relationship. Maybe if it was meant to be, it wouldn't have been so hard to get. It's sort of like our house - we wanted it, really wanted to keep it. At the same time, it was on the verge of needing major, expensive repairs that we can't afford. We can't afford them because we're trying to live life the way we want to, as artists (which equals not a lot of income just yet). If we'd gotten what we wanted, it would have come with a heap of worry and frustration.

I don't think it's possible for me to completely refrain from wanting certain things, but I'm trying to accept that there are some things I just shouldn't have. I might still get them if I fight really hard - but if I SHOULD have them, if they are things (or situations) that will truly bring me happiness, maybe there shouldn't have to be a fight. Maybe my single-minded focus on the thing I want so much is causing me to miss out on lots of things that are ultimately better. Maybe I should just stop wanting and see what comes.

Right now, though, I want a cocktail. And that's something I can have. Cheers!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Artifice..or, if you stand by me, I'll stand bayou.

So..I have this weird mental device I employ to help me fall asleep at night. One of the many joys of bipolar disorder is the inability to turn off my brain (In the medical world it's known as "racing thoughts"). I can lie there for hours with a random thought, a piece of a song or various other mental flotsam and jetsam just looping over and over. I know everyone has these little bouts of insomnia from time to time, especially under stress, but for me it's pretty much the norm. So over the years I've developed what I call sleep fantasies.

Sleep fantasies are various mental scenarios of either places/circumstances that I'd enjoy sleeping in, or places I'm grateful NOT to be, safe in my bed instead. That sounded weird, let me try to explain - an example of a place I'd LIKE to sleep: I have this weird obsession with the bayou portion of the Pirates of the Carribean ride at Disneyland (more on this later). My favorite part of the whole ride is the very begining, when the boat is floating serenely past little houses on stilts rising out of the water. The windows glow with light from within, fireflies blink above the water, a man in a rocking chair lazily plucks chords on his banjo. It's so peaceful..and yet you know crocodiles may lurk in the water. No matter, you're tucked safely away in one of the stilt houses. I like to pretend I'm in a little bed in my own little stilt house, drifting to sleep with the sounds of the bayou outside my open window. I have a collection of these little scenarious stored away in my brain, and sometimes they help reel my racing thoughts back in. My mind quiets, I sleep.

An example of a circumstance I'd NOT like to sleep in: on a woven mat on the floor of a hut in a third-world country. The type of place where entire families sleep on the floor, various (and often venemous) creatures crawling over thier bodies. *shudder* *SHUDDER SHUDDER* Why would I even think about that? Because then I focus on how safe and comfortable my own bed is and I feel grateful and somehow soothed. The scurrying in my brain gradualy slows, then stops, and I sleep.

Kind of weird, maybe, but it sometimes helps keep my squirmy-restless brain busy long enough to let my body fall asleep. Back to the obsession with the bayou in the Pirates ride. I was playing that fantasy loop in my head a couple nights ago, trying to get to sleep. Then I started to wonder what it would be like if I were actually allowed to spend a night there somehow. Like, what if Disneyland offered some kind of overnight package that allowed people to sleep in one of the stilt houses (yeah..imagine the price tag on THAT little number)? Wouldn't it be awesome to get to do that? But then I thought..hmmm, maybe not. Maybe if got to spend a whole night there instead of the few moments it takes to pass through it on the ride, it'd lose its charm. I'd notice a repetition in the bayou sound effects. It would become apparent that it was a recording. I'd start to notice the flaws in the special effects, I'd detect the human element in it and the fantasy would crumble. It's better to just have a sense of it that I can play in my head, unsullied by reality.

That got me thinking (oh no, exactly what I was trying NOT to do - THINK) about how that same phenomenon relates to human interaction. How the less we know about a person's behind-the-scenes reality, the more we can idealize them. Maybe that's why relationships are so exciting when they're new. You just focus on the appealing parts of it, you haven't had time to start noticing the human element. The flaws in the special effects. Maybe it's why sometimes long-distance relationships, or even relationships that develop between a prisoner and someone in the outside world seem to unravel once the barrier of distance is removed. With the barrier in place, you can control how much of you is revealed. You can show just your shiny side, and keep the less attractive mechanics hidden. At least for a while.

Then time goes by. The shiny surface shows hints of tarnish, you get glimpses of the not-so-pretty side. The fantasy dissolves and you're left with a mixture of the things you found appealing to begin with, and all the other parts that make someone who they are. The quirks, the flaws, the strange habits..all of it comes to the surface eventually. Maybe that's how you know someone really loves you. When the special effects fade and they see your gritty inner workings. And they stick around anyway. ....Maybe I should just take sleeping pills.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A year later and look how far we've...fallen?



Wow..I've been thinking a lot lately about this blog and how severely I've neglected it, but I didn't realize it had been over a year. Ironically, the last entry mentioned the sale date placed on our home by our lender, and my hope that the law firm we'd hired would come through for us.

Here's the Reader's Digest version of what's happened since then: The law firm we hired was indicted for fraud by the California state deparment of justice and disbarred. Down the drain went our several thousand dollars and any hope of them helping us.

Along came a woman named Lynne Leary with a company called Fidelity Financial Group, trying to get me to sign on with her, telling me she was certain her company would get our loan modified. After having been ripped off by Guardian and now Kramer and Kaslow, you can bet I was a little gun-shy (a tad "leery" if you will) about another company attempting to "help" us. She went as far as to meet us out for dinner, along with her husband, to demonstrate her sincerity and integrity. Roll forward to September of last year; our house was about to be taken in foreclosure, we needed to know immediately whether to take action (they'd already had us file emergency bankrupcies twice) the next day to stop the sale...and Lynne wasn't answering our calls. Her excuse the next day?? "I left my phone at the gym." As though that one cell phone was her only means of reaching us, when she KNEW we needed a response. Lo and behold, the house was sold.
Yup, folks, this woman who PROMISED me we wouldn't lose our house (I can show you emails from her..) let us lose our house. And then the entire company refused to respond to our calls or emails. The only response I ever got was a threat to refer us to their legal department if we did not retract our complaint to the BBB and Department of Justice about them. Ahem. Yes..there were threatening to sue us for complaining about how they took money up front for loan modification assistance (illegal), then failed to provide us with the services they offered, and failing to refund our money (their policy stated refund would be given in the case of a lender refusing a loan mod). Down the drain went THAT money, plus..oh, our lives.

The bank sent in their real estate agent the same day we found out we'd lost the house. He arrived on our doorstep and told us that the sooner we could get out of the house, the more "cash for keys" the bank would give us. Cash for keys is a small sum of money offered by the bank to entice the family to leave quickly without damaging the house. It's supposed to help out with the expenses of moving (security deposit on a rental, etc.). What it does is force you to feel under major pressure to move your entire life into the first rental you can find....and YOU GET TAXED FOR IT AS INCOME!!!!

We frantically began looking for a house to rent - with our print business and our 4 dogs, we required a garage and a yard, so we needed a house or townhome. Plus we needed to stay in our current city so that our daughter could complete high school (she graduates in 2013) and not have her life totally upended. We had problems because our credit is awful (thanks to not only the foreclosure, but the fact that we did debt consolidation the year before..apparently owing nothing and having no credit cards isn't good) and we had 4 dogs plus our tenant (who had been renting a large room in our house). Luckily we were accepted by the owner of a nice townhome - it's way smaller than our place, so most of our stuff is still in boxes 6 months later, and the rent is higher than what our mortgage payment had been before it adjusted up (causing the need for the loan mod and the fuckarow that ensued..)...but hey, it's a roof over our heads.

We're barely making it. Jim's unemployment, the income I make from my Etsy shop and the rent our tenant (thank the lord he agreed to move with us) pays is JUST enough to cover the rent, food, some of the bills (I have to do some creative juggling) and expenses each month. We live in a constant state of panic, wondering if we'll make the rent.
We're still working hard to build the printing business, I'm still running my stamp business, Jim's trying to find a job.
We're definitely not where I'd hoped we'd be (ie; still in our home with an affordable loan) a year ago.

On a happier note, we're healthy, we're still working toward making a living doing what we love to do, I'm still hooping a LOT, we have a lot of amazing friends and family who came through for us when we needed help with the move, and the shower in this bathroom actually looks clean after I clean it! One thing I don't miss about our house is the fact that our master bathroom was about to pretty much disintegrate. So there's that.
Always a silver lining...

About Me

Hippieville, CA, United States
This is the story of life after losing the "real" job and the house, trying to find the middle ground between making a living and actually living.