Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The over-commitment blues

"I got my mind set on you, I got my mind set on you."

I didn't wind up going to Fort Worth last weekend. I was feeling a lot of anxiety about all the things I'd taken on, and I decided it was ridiculous to allow all of these volunteer activities - that I am doing ostensibly because I want to - to cause me so much stress.

Something had to go and the Fort Worth trip was the biggest time commitment, so I bowed out. It was a struggle because although I knew it would be hard, sometimes pushing yourself and doing something hard winds up being truly rewarding. All things considered though, it just wasn't worth the anxiety - and the 600 mile round trip drive.

So I mailed a box of beads to the studio, to arrive in time for the Beads of Courage Bead Challenge, including the Dream Beads. I'm happy with Minnie, Buzz is recognizable, and the Stormtrooper, well, I said I'd try.


When I emailed the studio my regrets, I mentioned that I'd be in Fort Worth in October and got a lovely response.

If you can make it on Saturday 10/12 you will intersect with Arts Goggle in Fort Worth. It will be a big event for us at the studio. We will have demonstration lampworking, most likely boro, glassblowing, a pumpkin patch, and live music on the side of the studio. It is a free to attend event and always a lot of fun on a mad and crazy day. I hope you can make it. I'll be there in the mix and look forward to meeting you!

I have a friend who said he wants to try a stormtrooper helmet bead and perhaps we can come up with something for the request. I appreciate what you've been able to do.

A couple of days later when my box arrived, I got an even lovelier note.

Elizabeth!

I have no way to thank you adequately. Your package arrived just now and I have unpacked it. I didn't expect all the donation beads you sent along as well. You have done much to help our studio make this a successful event.

We got started late on planning for this and I was afraid it was going to be sparse on the sponsor a bead table as many of my current lampworker students are pretty new at the craft and the heavy lifting was falling to just a few of us. You have done so much.

Thank you again for everything!

Do please stop by on October 12th if you can coming through Fort Worth. We all look forward to meeting you.

In the end I had a lovely weekend. I spent Friday with Neil and we did some pre-shopping for Technology Day.

Neil has declared October 4 to be Technology Day, the day we come out of the dark ages of tube TVs and VCRs. In addition to an iPhone and an iPad, Neil is going to whip out the credit card and we are getting a state-of-the-art TV and whatever else you need to record shows and stream instant videos. We both need new computers but that may have to wait for a second Technology Day. I might look at new cameras though.

Friday night we went to dinner with friends at Underbelly, a good time and a unique dining experience. We couldn't get a reservation, but decided to take a chance anyway, and were seated, no waiting, at the community table, apparently a new trend in trendy restaurants. We shared a family style entree of Crispy Whole Bycatch, Shrimp, Onions, Tomatoes, Thai Curry Broth. Bycatch we found out is whatever other fish might be in the nets when the main catch is hauled in.

We had tapas first, each picking one item to share (although honestly I'd rather have had all my Seared Gulf Shrimp, Charred Corn, Korean Red Chile to myself). Neil's Wagyu, Sweet Potato Noodle, Cold Broth, Egg was delicious though. Brent ordered Wagyu Beef Skewers, Soba Salad, Bulgogi and Bobby chose Roasted Eggplant, Tahini Vinaigrette, Hummus.

The Bycatch came as four whole fish, lightly breaded and baked, and the fish just fell away from the bones. There were more shrimp, tomatoes and fresh figs in the sauce. We saved room for desert, which we shared. Vinegar Pie, Salt Brittle and Honey Panna Cotta, Chocolate Shell, Cocoa Nib, Peppercorn Ice Cream. The world definitely needs more Peppercorn Ice Cream.

Saturday I wrote my artist-to-artist feature article for Glass Bead Evolution to meet the Monday deadline that I'd had dropped in my lap a week ago. I'd done the artist interview a few days earlier, let the ideas mature in my brain while deliberately not thinking about them, and the article pretty much wrote itself really.

Before I sent it off I asked Neil to give it a read-through, and Mr. Hairy Eyeball only made three comments, and one was a typo. The other were two sentences that I re-wrote, including the lede. It's out of my hands now, and I'm happy about that.

Sunday I made beads and when Neil got home we took our first walk of the year around the lake. It's not quite cool enough yet to be truly enjoyable, but go we did.

I've been diligent about walking on the treadmill at the community fitness center four or five times a week. Today I watched the final episode of Season Six of Foyle's War (or Nine if you count the way the Brits do). The timing is interesting because we're in the midst of watching Season Seven (or Nine) on Masterpiece Theater right now and this coming Sunday will be the final episode. I hope Foyle doesn't retire for a fourth time and they don't wait three years to make the next season. Michael Kitchen isn't getting any younger and it's such a phenomenally well-done show.

I think I'll start Prime Suspect with Helen Mirren tomorrow.

I'm in a rut with my beads again, but it's sort of a comfortable one. I'm working on another bead challenge and testing new frit blends and running through my repertoire of old standards. I'm still making a lot of my painted fish series beads, plus my pleasted, winged silver glass beads, my long tapered barrel beads, a few sugar skulls and I may pull out some skeleton keys and make a few pumpkins for my October shows.

It's hard to believe that October is almost here and September is almost over. Wasn't it just August?

August rolled into September in 2001, without relief from heat or heartache. On Labor Day weekend I broke my self-imposed vow of silence and called Marty. He didn't answer and I didn't leave a message.

On the Tuesday after Labor Day, Houston's headline news was that his company was being bought by a competitor headquartered in California. The handwriting on the wall said that he'd be transferred or let go within the next few months. That would make it easier for me, right?

I continued to wrestle with whether or not to hold out an olive branch. I wrote to my mom.
I tried to call him once last night about 8, but he wasn't home. By 9, I was already falling asleep (this terrible fatigue). Also, I started to have doubts about calling him on a day that he may be in a bit of shock (maybe, if he didn't already know about it).

Anyway, I know it shouldn't be any of my concern. But he is still very present in my mind and heart, even as I try to push him out. And a tiny part of me believes that I am still present in his. I know you would say, if I was right, then he'd call me.

But in some relationships, one person is more stubborn and proud and will never make the first overture. And for me, it isn't that hard to reach out and say, hey, can we talk about this, can we get past this and be friends again.
I tried calling Marty again, once on Tuesday night and once on Wednesday night - no answer.
Just the act of dialing and listening to the phone ring is so emotional for me that I can empathize with how hard it would also be for him. After trying once, I have no energy left to call a second time in one evening. But men are more stoic about handling grief, I think, so not calling is clearly the path of least resistance for him.
My mom and my friends continued to try to persuade me to let it go. I'm stubborn.

I tried his office number on Thursday about 6. He usually worked at least that late. It rolled to voice mail too. I didn't try again later, I was so tired by 8 I couldn't deal with it.
Maybe I'll try again, maybe not. I'd truly like to let it go and be past it, but I'm not. I can push the thoughts out, but the ache in my heart won't desist. I keep thinking that if we could have a dialog, it would do one of two things - reopen the lines of communication or finally convince me that it is terminally hopeless.

Right now it just feels like unfinished business. Maybe it always will. I just wonder why the universe won't let me forget, and whether that means that Marty hasn't forgotten.

My therapist keeps saying it isn't about me, it is about him and the way he seeks intimacy but when he finds it, he feels suffocated - which is why he would choose to love an invulnerable and remote woman like Mary, or continue to seek someone just like her on the Internet, someone who keeps him guessing how much he really means to her.

I could never be that woman.

Anyway, isn't it all moot, since I am virtually sure he will be leaving Houston within the next several months.

So why does it matter a damn whether I call him or not?
In the end I chickened out of calling again and sent him this note on Friday. It was September 7.
May I offer an olive branch?

You’ve been in my thoughts - especially since the news broke. I hope everything will work out OK for you.

I’d like to stay in touch with you, Marty, just as a friend. It troubles me still that we parted with so much anger.

More than anything, I’d just like for there to be peace between us.

I hope you might feel the same.
He replied on September 8, a long note. condensed here.
I appreciate your olive branches. Yes, it's sad that we parted with so much anger, but I have pretty well put that behind me. I don't know what it means to go on as friends, given where we went together and how it did end, but if you mean letting go of the anger and being willing to talk should we ever run into each other at the mall or somewhere, I'm certainly willing to do that. Life's too short and there are too many other issues to hang on to anger. You're a good person and I wish you well.

The news is troubling. For me, the betrayal is personal, too - I was excited enough about the opportunity to leave behind my children and almost everyone else who means anything to me and come to stinky, steamy, lousy-with-obnoxious-Texans Houston.

Professional judgment aside, I just don't see myself moving to Palo Alto even if I'm invited. It's 1,500 MORE miles and two more time zones between me and the boys. I can't say never. Moving to Palo Alto for continued employment is more attractive than being unemployed in Houston, but it's not a happy prospect.

On a more positive note, my divorce is finally all but final. We did arrive at a settlement, and it does feel more peaceful to have that resolved.

Take care, Liz. I hope you and the girls are all well and happy....
I don't know what I expected. It could have been worse but it could have been so much better. I posted my thoughts.
So against all the caring advice in the world, I held out the olive branch. In return, he wrote me a very nice letter. In it, he says that I'm a good person and he wishes me well. But it's also very clear that he has put his feelings for me behind him, as I have been unable to do with mine for him.

I acknowledge that it has become an obsession with me. Until I find some meaning in this pain, I will never be whole. It isn't just about finding someone to love me again, it is about wondering whether I will ever be able to love with so much intensity again.

I'm still processing my feelings about this. I should feel some relief - it accomplished what I thought my goal was - to reopen the lines of communication and find a more graceful and dignified way to part. But I feel no relief (although no additional pain, at least). I'm pretty much where I was.
On September 9, I sent him this response.
Thank you for your letter - it means a lot to me that you are still willing to share a little of your life with me.

You'd probably find Palo Alto a rather beautiful (if a bit pricey) place to live, especially compared to your grim impression of Houston.

Marty, in many ways, I actually envy you the possibility. I wish I could go too - go home – if I could just figure out where that would be. I'm so afraid sometimes that I will live and die here.

My girls are fine. I've spent a lot of time over the past weeks reading, thinking, writing and spending time with them.

I guess by staying in touch as friends I wasn't envisioning anything specific beyond an occasional e-mail. I have wanted very much to talk to you at times, but I've stayed away, believing that was what you wanted. Now I hope that wasn't a mistake too. Please don't ever question what you meant to me.

It is late and I'm tired, and I'm not sure I should even be saying this much, so I will close here for now.
On September 10, I wrote this to a friend.
Thank you for continuing to remind me there is an end somewhere ahead. I wake up sad every day and I feel like I'm not making any progress. I'm trying to identify what I am still stuck on. I thought it was his anger at the end, but he said he was pretty well past the anger now - but he also sounded pretty well past the relationship too.

And I'm not.

I don't think I am addicted to turmoil or pain or conflict. I know I have to move on. I feel weak and ashamed of my inability so far to steel myself to do so. Even writing about it now still feels like that much more self-indulgent whining.

Since my latest contact with him, it is clear that there is not going to be a happy ending, and while in many ways it's better to know, it's also still a very, very bitter pill. He wrote me a nice letter, but he closed it by saying he hopes the girls and I are well and happy. How the fuck could he think I could be well and happy at this point? Does he have so little compassion and sincerity that he thinks what happened meant so little to me?

There's a part of me that wants to tell him how I really feel - but I know it would serve no purpose other than to put us right back into the anger that I found so intolerable. So I have to let it go, as it is, and stop looking back or thinking that this is one of the things I can change.
And then, the next day was Nine Eleven.


"I got my mind set on you
I got my mind set on you
I got my mind set on you
I got my mind set on you

But it's gonna take money
A whole lotta spending money
It's gonna take plenty of money
To do it right, child

It's gonna take time
A whole lot of precious time
It's gonna take patience and time,
To do it, to do it, to do it, to do it, to do it
To do it right, child

And this time I know it's for real
The feelings that I feel
I know if I put my mind to it
I know that I really can do it

I got my mind set on you
Set on you
I got my mind set on you
Set on you

Set on you
Set on you

(George Harrison)

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Thanks for your comment! I will post it as soon as I receive it. Liz