abundance · addiction · alcoholism · balance · community · compassion · deprivation · equanimity · finances · humility · recovery · scarcity · the middle way

The B Word.

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Balance. Without it, I tend to become the other B word.
Someone asked me how the whole, “I need friends who don’t live hand-to-mouth,” blog
went over, if there was any push-back from it. I said, not that I know of, but
that I’d spoken to some other folks over the weekend, and was reminded of
something very important in life: Things are not black and white.
When I stopped drinking, it was because I was an alcoholic.
I put the bottle down, looked around, and declared everyone close to me
alcoholic, too. Whether they were or not, I was on a crusade of reform, and
they all were alcoholics who needed to
stop as I did.
Well… two things: a) yes, most of the people I was
associated with “at the end” were in fact drinking alcoholically, but b) that
didn’t mean they or anyone who drank were alcoholics. In the beginning, I
needed that kind of black and white thinking, because being close-ish to people
who were drinking was too difficult a gray line when my line had to be
crystal clear.
But, just because that was the way for me, I came to realize
that wasn’t the way for everyone. And after some time passed, and indeed the
folks who were hopeless sops like me faded from the foreground of my life, I got to see that some people (god bless them) can drink normally.
There’s one friend who stuck through my own transition. She described this “normal” drinking to me: she
literally says to herself, “Hmm, I’m beginning to feel buzzed, I should switch
to water.” Uh… I didn’t get that memo. “I’m beginning to feel buzzed,” was always followed by, “A few more will get it done right,” or if I was feeling temperate, “I should switch to beer.”
So, my friend does not react to alcohol how I do. And I have to come to see that there is a world between sauced and tight-ass.
In the same way, I recognize that as I begin to assess my
behavior and extremism around money, scarcity, and deprivation, I am being
called to allow others their own experience, even as I diagnose and address my
own.
Just because a friend opened a new credit card, doesn’t mean I have
to stop hanging out with them. Just because a friend is earning less than I
think they deserve in the world, doesn’t mean they’re addicted to deprivation.
Just because other people behave differently than me, doesn’t mean my way is
the right way, and most importantly, doesn’t mean I don’t have anything to learn from them. 
As with getting sober, I do have to admit that some
of the folks around me may indeed have trouble in this area – water seeks its
own level, after all. But, that doesn’t mean I have to be an asshole about it.
And, that’s what I’ve gotten to see these past few days I’ve
been declaring myself needing to “move on” from friends and communities who have
what I’d declared a “faulty, diseased, and only rectifiable by a spiritual
solution” relationship to money, and thereby the world.
It’s a good thing people don’t take me that seriously!
And it’s a good thing I can remember to not take myself too
seriously, too. If I’d stuck to every declaration about myself… by this point I
would have been:
Vegetarian
Israeli
A prostitute
A suicide victim
A daily exerciser
T.V.-less
Caffeine-less
An organic farmer
and a truck driver.
The thing is, I can’t make blanket declarations for myself
or anyone else. I have no idea what my
path contains or eliminates, thereby
no idea what others’ do.
There is some truth to wanting to learn from and be around
people whose relationship to money can model my own. But that’s because I have
a problem with it. Not everyone does, and if they do, it’s really none of my
business.
It comes to equanimity, and allowing others and myself our
experience without judgment. It means having openness, compassion, and respect toward all people on all paths. It does certainly include me getting help for a
pattern of beliefs and behaviors that have led me to despair and insanity, but
it also includes me being more generous in my assessments of life. Allowing for
the gray, for the middle-ground, for difference, for balance.
Because, solvent or not, nobody likes
a bitch. 

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abundance · change · clarity · deprivation · despair · family · finances · hope · recovery

Cleaning House.

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There’s a phrase in Al-Anon: Let it begin with me.
I’m in the process (or supposed to be) of looking back
through my life and writing down where underearning/underbeing/debting has
affected my life, and eventually caused it to be unmanageable.
I’ve often and easily thought about my dad’s parents and his
half-brother when I think about the history of this “disease” in my family.
It’s easy to do. They are the ones who hoarded, let the dog go to
the bathroom in the house, and despite brains that cognitively thought at high
levels, lived like people who were under a crushing weight of despair, which
looked on the outside like the crushing weight of filth.
These folks, my kin, would have been the people who Hoarders would have descended upon, who would have reluctantly
and silently allowed their belongings to be sorted, sifted, and discarded. And
after the cameras left, would have as quickly as possible returned their home
to the state of dishevelment and insurmountable disarray. The familiar state of
it. The state in which they felt most comfortable, even if not comfortable at
all.
After my parents’ divorce when I was 20, my dad let our
childhood home fall into much the same state, with the dead bugs on the hood of
the oven, the flies belly-up on the window sill, and the tree that shaded our
home, that stood sentry in our front yard, so long-neglected it had to
come down. And though it’s easy to see these patterns of neglect, hopelessness,
resignation, and simple denial in that side of the family, through my inventory work, I’m also getting to see a different strain of ideas around money,
belongings, worthiness crops up from my mom, too.
I spent some time with my brother last year in his apartment
he rented alone. The same silt of neglect, of using half-broken items, of
allowing the home you live in to be in a state of disrepair lay over his home,
too. But, from the same familial miasma, his attitude toward money became very different than mine.
At some point, I brought up money and my not knowing how to manage it, to save it, to “make
it work for me” (whatever that means!), and he admitted, surprising me, that he
is a miser with it. He hoards and saves his money, and is virulently opposed to being indebted to anyone.
He hoards money. I hemorrhage it.
In the end, though, the result for us both is the same (and
I recognize that my assessment and diagnosis is unfair to him, simply in that I
am not him, so please forgive my
hubris). But the result is that neither of us have money to spend on fun
things, nice things, things that make our lives fun and easy and worth living.
If he’s loathe to spend anything, even if he has it, then life becomes smaller
than it needs to be. If I simply spend whatever I make without thought to
long-term or significant goals, my bank balance becomes zero, and my life shrinks
with it.
I may not do my dishes as regularly as I should (though I am better now!), and my
fridge may house food that is unidentifiable with mold, but my home is
neat, clean, organized. It feels light, despite its size, and I endeavor to make it so. But there’s an article I read recently on home
decoration that said, “Do it: Clean, organize, make pretty, and then GET OUT.” Get out and into and on with your life. There’s more to life than decoration.
So, as I tally my numbers each month, calculate my income & expenditures, as I put money into a savings account and a vacation account, I
have to remember it’s not just so that I can have a neat and orderly
spreadsheet. That, in fact, even if there were a million dollars in my account,
I’d have to remember, like my brother, that it’s there for me to enjoy thoughtfully. That
it’s there for me to live, to support a life worth living. I have to remember that I do all this work so that I
can go out in the world as my family was unable to do.
I let it begin with me. 

abundance · aspiration · change · clarity · community · debt · despair · finances · loneliness · love · recovery · stability

Risky Business

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There’s a funny little book I picked up a few years ago
entitled, Steal Like An Artist. One of
the tips in the book is, If you find yourself to be the smartest person in the
room, go to another room.
I’ve been considering this sentiment as applied to
satisfaction, success, self-love, financial security. At the risk of sounding
like a self-aggrandizing schmuck, I think I’ve been heading to another room for
a good little while.
But, I’m hesitant. I’m hesitant to leave those who I’ve met
in this room, and all the rooms before it. I’m hesitant to let those friendships go, when I notice that how I’ve been ordering and focusing my life is not
really aligned with how they are anymore. I don’t want to leave, but I kinda
already have, simply by the efforts I’ve been making in the past few years.
It sounds like an asshole thing to say. It “sounds” judgey
and materialistic and conceited. But, I don’t think it is. I think it’s one of the
most honest things I’ve said about where and who I am in my
life now.
To find a parallel that is perhaps less alienating, let’s
look at alcohol. In two weeks, it’ll be 8 years since my last drink. Since that
time, the folks who are in my life tend to also be people who don’t drink, or simply people who don’t drink alcoholically. I began to hang out with
people who behaved in ways I did or I wanted to, and in the process, those who I
used to spend time with began to fade. This wasn’t a judgment on them; it was
simply an acknowledgment of what we now had or didn’t have in common. I’d
simply moved to another room.
If you can hang with the non-judgment of that move, nearly 3
years ago, I began to spend time with people who didn’t accrue unsecured debt,
who tracked their income and expenses, who were attempting to live a full life
without bouncing along the disheartening bottom of “paycheck to paycheck,” “I can’t hang out
because I’m broke,” “I eat popcorn for dinner,” and “I have holes in my socks.” (Each something I’d said…repeatedly, for years.)
As with alcohol, I had simply come to the end
of my rope by how small and anxious and exhausting my life was. And, since
then, I’ve been endeavoring to live differently.
In that difference, I’ve begun to notice that many of the
folks whose room I’ve shared are still, in some manner, living a pinching,
struggling life. And I’ve begun to notice that we don’t talk as much, that I
have less to share about, that I don’t really relate or want to relate anymore.
Just like I don’t really have much to say if you share about your drunken
escapades, I don’t really have much to say about how you don’t know how you’ll
pay rent next month.
All I really do have to say about that is, I GET IT. I have completely been there. I have, many times in
my “adulthood,” had less than $3 in my bank account, and NO JOB. I KNOW what it
feels like to have a life so small because you can’t afford the bus to see friends, or the $8 for the movie they’re seeing, or just the $2 coffee chat. I
know what it’s like to despair that you’ll never get out of the hole. What
it’s like to assume that you’ll eek out a living … and then die. I know what
it’s like to think about killing yourself because you can’t see any other end
to the horrible cycle of constriction.
I know what it’s like to live small and afraid. And I know, now, what
it’s like to find a way out.
I can talk to you about that. I can tell you I’ve found a
way that works for me, and I can help or hope you find it, too. But,
ultimately, that’s all that I can do.
And in that knowledge and acceptance of where and who I’ve
become, a non-drinker who is attempting to live a larger life, it should only
make sense that I would want to be among others who are living the same. Simply
so I can learn. So I can hear, model, get hope, get help for myself. Because I am that person who was begging for help before, and now
I want to be around those who can help me. Who have moved into a different room
and found help themselves.
It feels so fucking lonely, right now. It feels judgmental
and abandoning and selfish and crass. It feels like I’m waving a hand over a
community that has loved me, and I’m declaring that world, “Not enough.”
But, in truth, it isn’t. For me.
I want to live larger, freer, more boldly. In the end, it’s not actually about money at all. I simply want financial stability because it allows me to dream bigger, or dream at all, since I’m not agonizing over how I’ll feed my cat this month. Stability leads me to ease, and ease leads me to dream.
Today’s sentiments may sour in the mouths of someone reading
this. I may have backs turned to me. There is a loneliness that happens when
you’re transitioning to a new phase of yourself. But, perhaps in my
acknowledgment that I want to be in that next room, I can help myself to get
there. Perhaps in simply stating I love you and I have to leave you, I am
offering more love than I had. I don’t want to be lonely; it’s part of why I do
all this work, man. I don’t want to leave you, but our conversation has flagged. And it is/I am worth the risk of saying, Thank you, and maybe I’ll see you over there.

abundance · community · debt · deprivation · finances · growth · integrity · recovery · self-care · self-support

No Soup For You.

It’s astonishing, the lengths I’ll go to deprive myself.
The thick pattern of deprivation, living small, quietly,
unobtrusively, knocks on the door of all my actions and insists on being
allowed in.
Luckily, my latest personal recipe is: Me + G-d + Friends +
Action.
I was on the phone with a friend the other day discussing
the fact that I needed a spending plan for my upcoming trip to Seattle and
Boston this Saturday. I told her that I’d already “found” $235 in my usual
monthly spending plan, which means whittling funds from other line items, like
entertainment, personal care, household purchases–line items that
fluctuate anyway, so I consider them “fundgable” when they’re really not. (I’ve
learned.)
This isn’t to say that my spending plan is a monthly set of
10 Commandments, chiseled in stone and fatal when not adhered to. It’s an
ideal, a goal, a guideline, and the actuals that I tally at the end of each
month tell me the story as it happened, instead of how I thought it would.
Usually they’re pretty close these days.
However, when my friend and I were speaking about my trip,
and we calculated aloud bus fare, BART fare, coffee&food at 4 airports in
10 days, groceries, eating out, incidentals, tchotckes, gas money… well, we
figured it out to about $400, a number I’m supposed to double check before I
leave.
Immediately, I begin mentally looking at those fundgable
categories, which I’ve already cut thick slices from this month to support the
trip. And I start to get panicked and fearful about the trip and how much I can
spend, and try to pre-manipulate how I can spend less than I actually know
I’ll need.
This, friends, is the compulsion. How can I whittle down my
needs, how can I deny what is actually true about my needs, hide them, dismiss
them, and discard them, so that I can live in a way that I misguidedly think
will support me?
Luckily, I was on the phone with my friend as we spoke all
this out, and I admitted to her that I have nearly a grand in my vacation
savings account… but, I told her like a child revealing they’ve stolen a
Snickers, I’m “supposed to” be saving it for my hypothetical trip to Paris with
my mom next Summer.
I don’t want to give up my Snickers. I don’t want to break
part of it off to eat now, because I believe I just need to save it for later,
or there will never be enough.
This is preposterous. And where voices that don’t live
inside my own head are so valuable.
She didn’t even have to say anything, as I admitted my
vacation savings money could easily provide the additional $200 that I’ll actually need for this trip. I just talked myself through it,
admitting it, accepting it, saying that I see the fallacy and the deprivation
in that kind of
save it ALL for some unknown date and live in fear
right now
thinking. And I told her I would
move that money over this week, so that I could use it in today, for the
intended purpose: vacation.
It’s not actually called “Paris Vacation with Mom” savings
account: It’s just called Vacation. And if this isn’t the time to use those
funds, when I need them, when I’m plotting to slice myself and my funds even
thinner than they already are this month, then I haven’t learned a thing.
Yesterday, I did move that money. It felt illicit, illegal almost. I felt
nervous and anxious and excited and proud to know that I was supporting a
vision for myself without putting myself in deprivation.
The ridiculous part is that I will easily replenish that money in the vacation account over the next few months. “Vacation savings” is a
line item in my spending plan every single month. It’s not like I’ll never get to go
on a vacation again because I’m using this money now.
But my addiction to deprivation and fear continues to knock
on my door and insist entry into my life and my decisions. So, luckily, today I have
an antidote: Me + G-d + Friends + Action. 

authenticity · dating · finances · frustration · grief · relationships · romance · work

Bus Stop Boy

Well now.
So, I guess I should tell you about Bus Stop Boy, now that
I’ve finally broken down and updated one of the people I have in my life whose
main relationship with me is about helping me work on relationships.
Over the summer, I began to see Bus Stop Boy, as you might
imagine… at the bus stop. I was temping in the city, and was sometimes taking
this bus, sometimes that. I’d just begun to pay attention to how I interact with
men, trying to focus less on if they’re noticing me or not, how I’m interpreting
or internalizing that information. And Bus Stop Boy was one of these people. I
was aware of him, and he was aware of me. There was nothing more or less than
that, but a definite vibe. Not even flirty, just aware.
One morning, a few months ago, I had come from meeting with
the aforementioned woman the previous day, highly aware now of how I was walking in the world, and I saw him at the bus
stop. Suddenly, I had no idea how to behave. I didn’t want to be all coy, I
didn’t know how to just stand there. I felt a wave of panic wash over me, and
as some of you may remember, I had to leave work as soon as I got there and come home and crawl into a fetal position. Everyone
on BART was standing too close. Whatever it was that my being aware of who and
how you were reacting to me – it had acted as a buffer somehow between us. And
suddenly, seeing Bus Stop Boy, … it was like seeing the Matrix. Suddenly I
could see that everywhere I looked and every move that I made, I was hyper
aware of it, and I was aware if you were aware of it. I felt stripped of some
defense mechanism – I felt utterly exposed, and completely unsure of how to
act.
A rather large reaction to simply seeing a dude at the bus
stop. But, that’s what happened. It took me days to get back to feeling right.
And, in fact, I stopped taking the bus, and opted to take carpool with a friend
of mine during the rest of my temp gig.
I’m still aware of how others react to me, and, duh, that’s
going to continue to happen. People interact. However, I am trying to pay less attention to if “he,” whoever “he”
is, saw me. Noticed. If you’re noticing how I’m holding myself or not. I’m
trying to keep myself to myself when I’m out and about. Not closing myself off,
but simply focusing more on me, and what I’m doing, not on you.
This said, things have progressed.
I ran into Bus Stop Boy when I was on the bus going into the
city for an interview about a month or more ago. I was aware, he was aware. We
both went for the one seat that was open, and he let me have it. When getting
off the bus, I got off in front of him, and turned around and thanked him for
the seat, held out my hand, and said I’m Molly, by the way. He took my hand, said his name, said he hadn’t
seen me on the bus for a while. I replied I hadn’t been on the bus for a while, we both smiled, said see you around.
In reporting this later to my friend, I talked about
“getting a hit” off it. I was nervous about this job interview, and I knew I
could get a little hit from talking to this guy. Sure, there’s the normality of
introducing yourself to someone you see nearly daily just for the sake of that,
and I could file this under that, but I know my underlying reasoning – I wanted
to feel better, and talking to an attractive guy who seems to think I’m
attractive too is a reliable way to do that. (I was about to write it’s a “good
way” to do that, but, this is where I run into trouble.) I felt more spring in my step on my way to my interview, now that I had gotten that burst of acknowledgment from this stranger.
A little while later, I am on my way to another interview,
and I see him on the street in plain clothes with a girl, walking a small dog. Girlfriend, I think, and keep walking. Well, I say to myself,
there’s that taken off the table. He’s got a girlfriend.
A little while later, about 3 weeks ago, I’m on my way home
finally for the evening, having had an awful day at work – feeling my feelings
of despair around administrative work, around having worked so hard for months
to get something so menial, I’d come home from work bawling on the phone with a friend, before I went back out to meet up with some folks for an hour. Suffice it to say that I was drained of
all emotional guile. Of all resistance. Of all pretense.
Funny, then, that I should walk into Peet’s coffee, and
there he is. Bus Stop Boy at 8pm on a Wednesday evening. My eye make-up long
cried off. My incognito hat. Glasses. This is not the look of a temptress. He’s on line
ahead of me, and so I say hello. We chat a bit; we’ve both started new jobs. We small talk, laugh a bit. I
say see you around.
And now, suddenly, we are seeing each other around a lot. I
next run into him unexpectedly on the shuttle from BART – again on a day when I’d sat at the bus stop from work in near-tears. Waiting – FORTY FIVE MINUTES – for a
bus from Berkeley. Taking me nearly two hours to get home from ONE TOWN AWAY.
And there he is. The second time in a row when I’d felt
depleted, and, perhaps, open. 
It hasn’t eluded me that these unusual times that I’ve seen him are at times when I could most use a nod from the universe, some semblance of, Molly – you’re not a worthless, aimless, trundling-along broke spinster. It has not escaped me that during my new days of data entry, receptionist calls, arguments with xerox machines, I’d begun to think of that morning’s conversation with Bus Stop Boy, and it takes me out of my vile existence. It reminds me that I am more than my job. It reminds me that I am something more than that. Simply by recalling the smile of a near stranger, my chest feels less constricted – I feel less trapped. Is this “meaningful”? Is a nudge from “THE UNIVERSE”? Is it just a coincidence? Is it simply pointing out to me the pleasure I take in fantasy rather than reality?
I moved my bags, and he sat down next to me.
After some chit chat, I said, I think I saw you with your girlfriend walking
your dog a few weeks ago (she says leadingly). He got a sudden look, and said, “Ex…” That was their goodbye. She
came to visit for two weeks. She’s been living in D.C. for the past year,
looking for work there and here, and she got a job there, and, as he told to
me, he wasn’t ready to move back East.
He seemed pretty bummed. Secretly, I thought two things.
One: emotionally unavailable. Two: Single. …
So, finally, friends, here’s the kicker. What I admitted to my girl friend earlier today: I have invited him to
come with me to a party my friend is having this Saturday. “As friends,” I
said. But as I spoke to my friend earlier today, … I have no interest,
really, in being this guy’s friend. Nor do I know that I want to be in a
relationship with him. I barely know anything about him. Do I want to get to
know him better? Yes. Am I dating right now? No. Is he? I should hope not! Long-term relationship break-up does not really equal available for a new one any
time soon.
So, what to do? Well, my friend and I spoke earlier about
some “bottom lines” I could set around this. The only thing I could come up
with, which she suggested, was not hanging out one-on-one.
She asked me at the end of our meeting how I felt. I said Stubborn. (She laughed.) I said, Disappointed. The addict part of me wants those hits. Those doses of feeling
something other than overwhelmed with money or lack thereof. With feeling lost
as to my life’s direction or purpose. With feeling lonely, mainly.
As I begin to get some “recovery” or sense of what is
healthy behavior around relationships, I realize that the majority of my recent women
friends are actively engaged in behavior that I just don’t
identify with anymore. I just don’t have anything to say to my friend who’s
texting an unavailable dude daily. Or who just bought sex toys for a threesome. Or who is in and out
of her relationship with the phases of the moon. Which means, and has meant
for me, that several close friendships I’ve had are being let go of — are fading.
Further to the “lonely” part, as I said to my friend this morning, I haven’t been
dating for a year. I haven’t had sex in a year. I am only human. And there’s only so much I can take.
She said she gets it. She felt the same when she was going
through this work. The truth is that I’m doing inventory on my relationship
past, and I don’t want to be involved with anyone while I’m going through this
emotionally raw stuff. I don’t (really) want to use someone else to band-aid the work that I’m doing. The truth is also that I’ve finally gotten paid, and much of my financial crisis is averted, so I finally have the chance to feel a
little less stressed out.
Yes, there is only so much I can take. Luckily, I feel a
modicum more freedom right now, yes, due to money, what-the-fuck-ever to people
who say it won’t make you happy – sorry, food in my fridge makes me fucking
happy, assholes. But that release from imminent worry creates a little more
ease. That little more ease means I won’t have to reach out to false idols for
solace, false idols like the green-fade-to-brown eyes of the Bus Stop Boy.
I can do things to help me bolster and support myself, now
that I’m not as “man the battleships!” Things which will provide more
sustainable relief and support – I can reconnect with friends who aren’t stuck
in unhealthy patterns. I can finally feel the room to write and paint again. 
Do I still absolutely want to just rest my head on his
shoulder and relax to the marrow of every organ in my body? YES.

adventure · decision · faith · family · finances · judaism · say yes · shabbat · work · writing

Go Toward the Open Door.

Wise women have told me this occasionally over the last few
years. And, this is just the opportunity I
got this weekend – to go toward the open door.
Originally planned for this weekend, was helping my
immensely talented and ambitious friend by volunteering at her art show
benefit for Japan. My volunteering for her had come as a status reduction from being in the art show, as during the time of my unemployment, I
realized I was not energetically inclined toward creative production, nor,
unfortunately, toward the donation of any art I currently own. So, I
downgraded myself to volunteer last month.
Then, I continued to be unemployed, and although now (halleLUjah) employed, I don’t get paid until the 15th
of this month. Her show was planned for last night, Saturday night, and I have
$40 to my name until Friday. I had to tell her I couldn’t do it. I simply couldn’t
afford the roundtrip to the city. It just wasn’t feasible.
Do I/did I feel like a flake? Yeah. Was there anything I
could do about it? No.
In the meantime, having unceremoniously bowed out of
volunteering, on Friday morning my office was in the midst of heading out for
the weekend to a “Shabbaton,” basically, a weekend at an overnight summer camp
in the Santa Rosa mountains, where 250 members of the congregation (did I
mention I work, now, at a synagogue?), kids, grandparenty-types, Board members,
staff members, would all gather and have a hella Jewish weekend (well, hella Reform Jewish weekend – which includes guitars, LOTS of
clapping on the up-beat, and the community-sanctioned use of a cappuccino machine on
Shabbat).
I, was not going to go. I told them over this week and a
half of my new employment that I wouldn’t be able to go, as I was volunteering
with my friend’s art show. And, part of me didn’t really want to see these
people, as I was still feeling rather resentful at being a freakin’ secretary,
answering phones and manipulating mail merges.
However, there was another part of me who is, about 7, I’d
say. And she, every time I heard someone
wish me a good weekend as they were departing on Friday afternoon,
would say to me,
I wanna go to
camp!.
I wanna go. I wanna go to camp. I wanna sleep in a bunk,
and clap during song session, and eat at long uncomfortable tables, and see the
mountains. I wanna go to camp!
She whispered this to me all day. Indeed, she’d been
whispering it with increasing intensity all week, but adult me was too pissed at
these people for having supporting roles in the drama of my life that was once
again entitled, “Molly: The Disgruntled Employee.”
Then, however, came the reality that I would not, in fact,
be joining my friend for her art show. And I’d been offered a ride by another
reluctant employee earlier in the week, that she was going up on Saturday
morning, coming back on Sunday, and I could ride with her.
She’s new to the office as well, and I could sense that
perhaps we could get along. So I told her I’d think about it. And, as she was
generously giving me a ride the the bus stop on Friday afternoon, long after almost
everyone else had defected for the mountains, my little girl was screaming to
be heard.
I was, in fact, on the bus home when I finally gave in to
her. I called the woman, and I told her that if she was still willing, I’d love
to ride with her to the Shabbaton.
Because, in reality, my alternative now, without the art
show, was to sit on Saturday in my apartment, continue to read my Zadie Smith
novel, see a few friends, and putz around, as per usual. I saw that very
clearly as I rode that bus through Berkeley. Everything as per boring usual.
I have been camping once
this summer. Several months ago now. I have kept my childlike spirit drowned
out with the adult business of interviewing, resumes, finance planning,
budgeting, cost efficiency, worry worry worry. There has been nearly NO play in
the last 3 months. At all. A few movies here and there for a break from the
awful soul-crushing of unemployment, but other than that, no glitter, sparse laughter, begrudging fun, and a riotous need to DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT.
So, I said YES. I went toward the open door.
The adult in me was also very calculatingly clear, with its
Cheshire cat smile, that this weekend away would not cost me a penny. That I
would have good meals I didn’t have to cook, pay for, or clean up from. That I
would get the chance to go to the mountains, and hike there, as I did, without
paying for a rental car, gas money, a camp site, anything at all.
I would be able to get out of dodge simply by saying “yes.”
To think that I almost didn’t makes me laugh at myself.
The weekend itself was both satisfying, and exhausting.
Exhausting, as I was “on” the whole time, schmoozing with people, making my new
presence known. It was not an entirely selfless or avocational decision to go up, obviously –
it was/is also important to me that people got to know me as more than the
receptionist, should the ears of the executive director be listening to the
chatter in the water. Phrases like “raise” and “room for growth” come to mind
as I go forward with this job. It was a political decision. – Also, it
exposes/d me to people who might be good contacts later on.
Indeed, there was a published/working poet there with whom I
got to spend some good conversations. The last one included my bald question,
“Is it worth the fight?” [to be a writer, to pursue this {or indeed any} art, to continue to
put one word after another as a sign that we mean something to ourselves, others, this world we live in – that we are not floating mindlessly through it – that we value our experiences – that we mold and shape them and
ply them and tongue them and pinch them into these characters we imprint on paper
and screen …
Is it worth the fight to do this?]
His answer, after the knowing laugh, was yes, if you believe
it is.
I believe it is. I believe in marking my existence. I
believe in questioning it, turning it, shaping it, and being shaped by it.
I believe in inviting you to share it with me. To tell me how you see it, to let me have my own world shaped for a
moment or more by how it is you walk in the world.
By saying yes to this weekend, I allowed cherished and often
dismissed parts of me to sing in the sunshine. To look at the Milky Way, for
Christ’s sake. To dance in a circle of women, to talk blogging with a
stay-at-home dad. I got to see a fawn pounce through the brittle brush and pet
baby goats, and to sing at my most favorite service in
all of Judaism, Havdallah, the closing of Shabbat, where we say good-bye to the
week we’ve had, and we welcome the week to come. The service where we invite
the sweetness of Shabbat to come with us into and sustain us through the coming week.
It is a service that dances the edge of wistful, grateful
endings and limitless, renewed beginnings. And, simply, it has the best music.
Shavuah Tov, friends – May you have a happy week.  

acceptance · dating · fantasy · fear · finances · growth · maturity · progress · relationships · romance · sobriety

"Love as Burrito" or "This, or Something Better"

Grateful to my friends who gave me feedback, I texted the okJew yesterday morning
that I was a fan of getting to know someone before getting physical (I couldn’t
help but hear Olivia Newton-John as I typed it), and if that was something he
was interested in, then I’d love to continue getting to know him, and if not,
no hard feelings. He texted back to say that, in fact, he was looking for
something else, and didn’t know how that fit in with me or not.
So, I got to sit with that. Tall, attractive, well-built
Jew? What’s not to like? Oh, unavailable.
And, I did sit, I questioned, I turned inward for a few minutes to test that
option, and ultimately, gratefully, I said I was looking for something less
tenuous, and good luck.
Then …
I sat and stared at a wall of books.
I was shocked, honestly, at how “air out of a balloon” I
felt, without all that funny noise it makes. It made me realize that I still do
have some work to do. I identified very clearly the feeling of a crash after a
high. I could almost smell the cigarette smog and late 90s radio.
Hm. Love as Drug. Huey Lewis has a song about it. And, duh,
it’s not “love” as in Love. It was intrigue. Oh, Intrigue!! – when’s the next
text, what do I wear, how flirty do I be, funny do I be, do I invite him in,
scheduling plans, etc…etc…etc… Something to think about, and then the plug was
pulled yesterday mid morning, and I sat deflated and comatose for a few minutes
on and off till lunchtime.
When I went and bought a burrito. My friend texted me to say
that it’s normal to feel feelings, and we get to let them pass. I said my feelings now
feel like a burrito in my belly ~ Real feelings TBA. And that much was true. How
much easier it is to feel full, or to
buy something to feel better – not better, to just feel different. My burrito
accomplished both of those. Better to eat, feel full (and mildly grossed out
that I ate a pound of tofu and salsa flesh), and to get the thrill that I spent
money on lunch when I had a perfectly decent one in the fridge at work.
Cuz, what do I feel when I’m not caught up in the nonsense?
Fear. I feel fear about money and work and job applications and
directionlessness. Who the hell wants to feel that?? No one. But, better to feel those feelings, and
thereby
get into action around
them, than to stuff them with something else, and continue avoiding the
elephant in my psyche.
There’s another okJew who I’ve been talking to – and I’m not
entirely sure that I want to pursue it at the moment. I met up with some of my
new “relationship/emotional intimacy” folks last night after work, which was a
very good use of my time. I’m so glad
I’ve chosen to fall in with them – and they were talking about dating, and
showing up, and boundaries, and desires, and how to be honest. These are things
I want. I
want to have desires –
I have no … desire… to be celibate, or nunnish. I am a hot-blooded woman with
hot-blooded needs, and a great big bag of tools that don’t work.
That said, I obviously do have more tools than I used to (burrito
coma aside) – because I did let this dude know what I was available for, and he
said he was glad we got that worked out early – and it’s true. I know plenty of
times when I’ve let my “fear of looking needy” keep me from speaking up about
my discomfort at the level of murk in a relationship or sexytime companionship.
Once, it took me almost a month, and when I finally broached the subject with
the dude, he said he wasn’t available or looking for more. So, I said, great,
and was glad to know, and left his house feeling better and confident in my
ability to state my needs, and let go of the results.
Sure, I didn’t “get what I want” in that situation – who doesn’t want the person to say, of course, I’d love to
continue to get to know you and see if there’s something substantial that can
come from this. But … as my “sugar crash” yesterday proved to me, there’s more
work to be done. It’s not at all fair to place that amount of expectation on
anyone – because they’re not really being asked to be themselves, they’re being
asked to fill something in me, or distract something in me, or fix something in
me. And, that, my dears, is an inside job.
When I said a few days ago, that if relationships are
Miracle-Gro for your character defects, then surely they are/must be for your
spiritual growth – this is why. My defect here being the desire to run away
from the reality of my professional and financial situation – and when someone
says they can’t be that for me, I’m left simply with my situation all over again, like
the ugly step-sister you lock in the attic. Still here.
So what do I do? Well, firstly, I meet up with folks and I
ask for help. Done, and will continue to do. Secondly, I continue to work on
the job front. I was invited to go camping this weekend, and had accepted, as I
love to camp, and getting out of dodge sounded so very nice. But last night, as
I was compiling job listings into an email draft so I could take a look at them
in my spare moments at work… it occurred to me that perhaps going camping was
not the best use of my time at the moment.
This temp job will likely end in the next week or two, and
after that is a blank horizon. It’s time for me to assist in coloring it in.
Lastly, I offer myself kudos. I made my intentions known,
quickly. I listened honestly to what another person was telling me about their
intentions. Which I didn’t take personally at all (a thought, I recognize, is
also huge progress, but seems so “of course” now). I can try to treat myself
kindly with how I treat my body and not go food coma on myself.
I showed up. I got in the ring. I made out. And, I can be
confident that what’s available for me is “This, or something better.”