Thursday, December 16, 2010

Reverb 10 #4 - #6

(So much for dailiness)

December 4 -- Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?

My sense of wonder is sparked by watching creative people do their thing. I've started going out to see live music more again this year and I am always truly amazed by what musicians can create with voices and instruments and talent. Watching other creative people has helped me start thinking more about my own pursuits, though delving into them in any real way may still be an "if" rather than a "when."

December 5 -- Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?

In May, I let go of a relationship that had run its course, again. We had been together for nearly three years and it had become evident a while before that living together wasn't actually making us any closer, if anything it only highlighted the differences in our personalities and interests. Throw in a disruptive addiction and my decision to buy a house and the fate of the relationship was well and truly sealed.

This was the second time around for us, we'd been together for nearly three years in the late 90s/00s and it hadn't worked out then either. Unfortunately, I am the queen of the doomed relationship, which is why we ended up trying it again and hanging in there for as long as we did. This ending was mostly painless (probably because of the dress rehearsal) and we are still friends (and have probably always made better friends than partners), but we are also both still single, so there's an awkwardness to our interactions that will linger for a while, I'm afraid.

December 6 -- Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

The last thing I finished was a beanie knit from two colors of silk/wool blend yarn. I love it, it fits just the way I wanted it to and the sheen of the yarn is simply lovely. I always have a list of projects. There are tons of things I want to knit, pieces I want to write, photos I want to take. I'm terrible at clearing the time for them, because I am usually afraid I'm not going to be happy with the end project. So I may as well use the time to look at things other people have made instead. It's a terrible cop-out, and I am trying to get out from under that mentality, but it's taking a while, because it's been growing for far too long.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Reverb 10 #3

December 3 – Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors). (Author: Ali Edwards)

I've been thinking about this all day, and the moment I keep coming back to is the one when I emerged onto 8th Avenue from Penn Station on my birthday trip to New York City in July. It was the first time I'd gone to New York on my own, and the first time I'd gone for more than a day in several years. It was one of the hottest days of the summer, the sun was shining brilliantly and it was just after 10 am (I'd walked to the train station in Lancaster fairly early that morning). There was the usual throng of people outside of Penn Station, waiting for buses, trying to figure out which way they needed to go, who knows. For once, I wasn't one of the confused. I came up the stairs, out the doors, and immediately turned right and pointed myself in the general direction of Union Square Park and the Green Market. I ducked briefly into a doorway and took a quick peek at my map to be sure of exactly how to get there, then threw myself into the flow of Saturday morning Manhattan pedestrian traffic.

This may not seem like such an extraordinary moment for most people, but that fact that I was where I was, on my own, confident in where I was going and what I was doing was a huge turning point for me. It was a release of a level of anxiety I wasn't sure would ever recede, and an expansion of life after six-and-a-half years of contraction, during which my life seemed to get smaller and more confined with every turn.

The four days I spent in New York (all but I few hours of which I spent with no one I knew) were a reminder that I have the whole wide world in front of me, and that I need not let it be taken away by myself or anyone else. That reminder began to gel the moment I stepped out into the July humidity that first moment.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Reverb 10 (#1 and #2)

I'm playing follow-the-leader with PoMo Golightly and Tea Leaves in deciding to give Reverb 10 a try. One prompt a day for the month of December, reflecting back on the year just past and looking forward to what could be in the year ahead. And, as a bonus, it could get me blogging daily.

December 1 – One Word. Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you? (Author: Gwen Bell)

The word for 2010 is, without a doubt, "change." Since January of this year I have: started a full-time job at a bank (ugh!), bought a house, moved, ended a relationship, attended the funeral of a college friend, celebrated a milestone birthday, conquered my NYC anxiety, left the bank job for my old art college job, had my freelance outlets die on the vine, returned to meditation (and, to a lesser extent, yoga), and become friends with my ex-husband. Well, those were the major things, anyway. It has been a year during which I have honestly never been quite sure what was waiting around the next corner or at the end of any given day.

The changes have been a blend of good and bad, and most of them have had significant lessons attached to them. I've tried to ride all of them out with as much equanimity as I could muster, but, I have to admit, it hasn't always been easy. It certainly won't be a year I'll forget too quickly.

As for 2011, I'd love for the word this time next year to be "equilibrium." I don't want to be static, by any means, but I want to be at a point at which I feel as though I can handle what is coming at me with grace. I want to not be upended by each new thing, good, bad, or indifferent. I have to believe that this is not too much to ask.

December 2 – Writing. What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it? (Author: Leo Babauta)

Most of what I do each day doesn't contribute to my writing. I find practically any excuse to put it off, or to shelve it altogether, because part of me is convinced that it doesn't have enough value to bother doing. I know that's not true, and if I would work consistently at writing, rather than frittering my time away with things that have even less value, I would see the truth of it more clearly and devote more time and energy to producing work and putting it out for more than just my own eyes.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Forty is the New Fifteen

Of course, that's only because I'm just getting over one of those terrible, wonderful crushes that I, at least, associate with high school and cheesy teen romance. I was astounded to be hit with something like that now, when I'm allegedly supposed to be a real and true adult with a mortgage and a job with actual responsibility, but hit I was. Now that it's (mostly) run its course, I'm trying to look a bit more objectively at my singleness to see what, if anything, I want to do about it.

I don't mind being single. This time it's been nearly seven months, and that's seven months truly single, no backsliding with a convenient ex, not even any dating. Nothing but the one intense crush that seemed, for a month or so, fraught with potential. I am a woman who likes having my space. I like living on my own: I come home to things the way I left them, I make up my own schedule and I cook or don't cook and unpack or don't unpack as the mood hits me. Of course, this leaves me with a spare room full of boxes, Raisin Bran for dinner two nights in a row, and way too much consumption of Netflix.

There are times when I miss having someone to bounce the events of the day off of, especially when I've had one like today. When my feet are cold (even in wool socks), there's no one around to help warm them up. And every once in a while it'd be nice to go to a reading, lecture, or music performance with someone else.

The problem is, I have no idea how to go about getting out there. I've never really dated in the broad sense of the term. Everyone I've ever been involved with I've known in another capacity before we began a relationship. I've looked at the possibility of online dating sites -- I know people for whom it has worked out beautifully -- but it just doesn't feel like the right way to find someone. I go out for a drink occasionally and have ended up striking up conversations, but it takes a lot of effort to get there, because I'm shy and not very good at stepping up. I'm also not entirely sure I want to meet someone in a bar.

For now, I'm not really looking that hard, and I probably won't change that anytime soon. I'll try to get better at mixing and conversing when I'm at social events, but unless someone comes along and sweeps me off my feet (or that crush finally wakes up and sees what he's been missing), I'll keep toddling along in my own little single world until I'm comfortable enough with myself there not to care whether anyone else comes along at all.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Right now I'm sitting on an old wooden kitchen chair in the no-man's-land between my living room and dining room portions of the main room of my first floor. I also happen to be in front of an antique mirror that used to hang on my grandmother's wall, so every time I look up from the screen I see myself, which is admittedly odd. Sitting here, now, I am trying to unravel the effects of sitting more formally earlier.

The past couple of months have found me returning to the local Zen meditation group, which meets every Sunday night in the basement of the Unitarian church in town. I have attended this group on and off for years, but the last time I stopped it was for much longer than before. I get something out of sitting with this group, even though I'm not entirely sure I'd absolutely call myself Buddhist, but sometimes I get too close to things I'd rather not examine and I find myself running. I want to get past that.

Sometimes when I sit I can tune into my breath and fall into whatever space it seems meditation should tip you into at least for a few minutes at a time. Most often, though, all I really discover is just how noisy my brain really is and how much energy I devote to thinking about mundane and trivial matters.

Tonight I found that I had to sit with my eyes open -- I usually prefer to close them for the bulk of the sitting period -- because every time I closed them I found myself welling up and stifling sobs. I couldn't put my finger on any one source of upset, and as long as I kept my eyes open it wasn't a problem. My best guess is that I need to take a look at the ongoing sources of stress and anxiety in my life and try to figure out how to resolve them.

The anxiety I feel when I look up and catch a glimpse of my 40-year-old self in the mirror has less to do with being 40 and more to do with still trying to figure out how I've managed to disappear into myself and what I need to do to break the surface again. Sitting with the questions, formally and informally seems to be one way to get there.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

I've Grown Accustomed to My Space

Well, I'm beginning to, at any rate.

I haven't done tons of unpacking this week, but I've spent a lot of time in my house, just getting used to being there, listening to neighborhood and house sounds, and learning to sleep in a new bedroom. I am happy there, of that there is no question. Even with practically no furniture, and 75% of my belongings still in boxes, I know it's where I want to be.

I start my days listening to Morning Edition and watering my plants in the postage stamp backyard. I have onions, cardinal climbers, and (as of this afternoon) rosemary. If there are hummingbirds in the city, they may well make their way to my backyard later in the summer -- here's hoping, anyway!

I'm slowly meeting people in my neighborhood, and, thus far, to a person, everyone has talked about how much they love the area. I knew going in that it would be a good place, but it's nice to have it validated by people who already live there.

Next weekend is a furniture auction, which is financially daunting, but has the potential of getting me a few heirloom quality pieces, all by the same maker, which will cut down significantly on any running around to secondhand stores looking for things that may not stand the test of time.

I have tons of ideas of what I eventually want to do to/with this place (my house!), but I need to rein myself in and just live with it as is for a while until I can get a better sense of what really needs to happen in each part of the house. I've only been sleeping there for ten days -- not nearly long enough to get a true sense of how I'll use the space for the long haul.

So, that's where I am at the moment. Still visiting cafes for internet access, still unpacking, still trying to remember that change is never ending, and a positive part of life, no matter how it feels in the moment.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

So, I Have This House...

I've been busy for the last little while, and the result of that busy-ness is that I now own a house! I know, nearly 40 and just getting around to buying real estate. Most of my stuff is there now and I've slept there for three nights, but I am so far from being settled in it's ridiculous.

I'm looking forward to having a space that's really and truly mine. I already chose colors for two rooms and got them painted before I moved in, and even that was really cool. I got to decide, for the first time ever, what colors I wanted walls to be. Here is what I chose, if you're interested:

Moss Print, for the bedroom

Clear Pond and Perfectly Taupe for the kitchen.

The rest of the rooms were white or cream when I bought the house, so I've left them for the time being.

The prospect of home ownership is daunting and thrilling in equal measures. I already have a list of things I'd like to do, even though I absolutely know that I'll need to wait for most of them. My house is sparsely furnished, at best, because I've been living in shared or small rentals for over a decade, and either didn't need or didn't have room for full-scale furniture. Now that has changed, and I'll have to start looking for decent used furniture that will work for the space and for me. I'm leaning toward trying to find things that fit with the age of the house (built in 1900).

Vitals? It's a 1035 s.f. two-story three bedroom row house on a quiet Lancaster street. It only adds about five minutes to my walking commute downtown. There's a decent-sized front porch and a postage-stamp back yard, both of which I look forward to using.

My next adventure! Meanwhile, I'll be going to MD Sheep & Wool for the first time in a few years. Maybe I'll see you there!