Friday, October 19, 2018

Wool gathering

You are pulled from the wreckage of your silent reverie
You're in the arms of the angel, may you find some comfort here.

You know how there is that person who you google every now and then? (Or maybe it's just me?)

Well, even though I've googled this person at least once or twice a year for the last 10 years or so, last week I found his death notice. He died in July 2013.

That's right. He's been dead for more than five years and I didn't know it.

I wrote about him here and here.

He was my best friend for eight years. I met him online when I was getting divorced in 1998. This was in the earliest days of instant messaging (ICQ, MiRC, etc.) We became good friends and he came to visit me several times and I visited him and we took some trips together.

He was in love with me, but I was rebounding from the divorce and not ready for another long-term commitment. And he was not a well person. He was in treatment for depression and had been suicidal in the past. But he was also very bright, well read, kind, sweet, generous. He was there for me during the roughest period of my life.

For a couple of years we had a long-distance relationship, but if I was being honest with myself, I knew I loved him only as a friend. Eventually I told him we needed to see other people. We stayed good friends and still chatted almost every day. He dated someone else for a while, I had a disastrous love affair which ended badly, crashed, recovered, and eventually met the love of my life and married him.

My friend had a couple of relapses of depression. Then he had a benign brain tumor. He had major surgery to remove it. It didn't affect his intellect but it played hell with his vision and his balance. He had to give up driving. He had been a lawyer but he couldn't work any more.

Then one day he wrote me a note basically saying goodbye, that he needed to be left to himself, that people were better off without him. That would have been early 2006. I thought it was a phase and he'd be in touch when he was ready, but he ghosted out of my life.

He called me once a few months later when his cat, Clicker, died. He'd had her for at least 10 years and loved her dearly.

Then nothing. I tried calling him, but the line had been disconnected.

In 2010, I found his sister on Facebook and I messaged her and asked about him. She said he had basically withdrawn from the world, and cut off contact with everyone, including his family, his kids. He lived in a group home and she sent him a little money and bus passes every week that he used to ride the bus to the library, where he read all day. He ran into her husband once, and claimed to be happy. She said, I miss him, I tried so hard to save him, I don't think he's coming back.

How could I not know that he died? There was no obituary, just the briefest death notice. I never found it all the other times I searched for him.

It's the weirdest feeling. I'm sad that he died (he was 66 in 2013) but how do I grieve for someone who died five years ago?

I'm still Facebook friends with his sister, but she's not active and we haven't interacted since 2010. I'm a little surprised she didn't let me know when he died, but it's a bit late for me to ask about it now.

It's just an odd sadness - I'll shake it off soon I hope. I do wonder how he died. I hope it was of natural causes. I hope he didn't do anything to expedite his death.

I'll probably never know.

A quick recap of my month, since I haven't been writing.

We went to Carrollton, Texas, for a long weekend, to visit my daughter, her partner, and my grandson. My younger daughter came up from Austin to hang out with us. The plan had been to go to the State Fair on Saturday, but my usual weather luck didn't hold up. I think I used it all just getting there on Thursday, when storms spawned by Hurricane Michael caused the cancellation of many flights throughout the Southeast, and threatened to ground yet more. Our departure was delayed on the runway for about half an hour, as I obsessively checked the weather radar and watched the thunderstorm pass just to the north.

We arrived about dinnertime and went out for some Texas BBQ. I gave up on trying to be a vegetarian and indulged in smoked turkey breast. I shared a fruit salad with Ryland and was so happy to watch him enjoy fresh grapes, pineapple and strawberries.

On Friday, Neil went off to do coin things, Chris went to work, K.C. dropped Ryland off at school, and we had a girls day. Manicures and pedicures, lunch with Ryland at his school (Subway heroes) a little shopping at Ross, and cupcakes picked up from Sprinkles for Neil's birthday. Neil was chuffed to have Torchie's Tacos for dinner. Chelsea arrived in time for the candles and singing.

With a 100 percent chance of rain on Saturday, we stayed home, had bagels for breakfast, and played Monopoly. Have I ever mentioned that I'm a very good Monopoly player? Before everyone else woke up, Ryland and I watched a couple of movies, Power Rangers and Next Gen. The kids picked up a late lunch, salad stuffed subs from Bread Zeppelin. I was too stuffed to eat again, so Ryland and I stayed home while the others went out for a late Mexican food dinner.

As usual, my food issues surfaced. I just can't keep up with everyone else in the eating marathon. Two meals and a snack works for me, but everyone else has to have three squares. I know they feel judged by me when I abstain, and I feel judged for sitting out, but it is what it is. I gave Ryland a snack, we watch a little TV, and I put him to bed. There was some trouble with the dogs, but we got it sorted. Ryland finally settled down, and I read my book.

Os Sunday, Ry and I were the first ones up again. We watched a movie, Bolt, which was actually pretty good. We had another bagel breakfast, and then we all piled into the car to go to old town Carrolton. There were some cute shops, unfortunately only half were open because it was Sunday. The main reason I wanted to go was to have ice cream at the Cow Tipping Creamery, but of course, everyone else wanted lunch first. So I watched them have pizza and salad.

All weekend I'd been fighting what I thought were allergies. I'm always sensitive to the dogs that live with my daughter. I'd been downing her Benedryl, which usually doesn't wipe me out, but I'd started feeling a bit zonked. I was having antihistamine malaise, but still sneezing. Ry had a mild cold, sniffles, a slightly junky cough, but no fever. K.C. said the incubation period could be as short as 48 hours, which was about the time I was certain I had a cold.

We followed lunch with ice cream and I finished my small chocolate cone, Ryland's cotton candy with sprinkles, and Chelsea's lemon curd sundae. Hell, I was already good and germed up, might as well eat all the ice cream. We went back to the house for a bit, Chelsea left for Austin, and Neil and I headed for the airport.

I had a fairly miserable wait at the airport and flight home, thanks to my runny nose. I went through all my Kleenex and a bunch of airline napkins. I couldn't wait to get home, get into bed, lie on my back and try to let my sinuses drain.

Monday and Tuesday I felt worse. I spent both days on the sofa. The one bright side was that the cold stayed in my head and didn't settle into my throat or chest. I was listless but lucky, and I was thrilled to wake up Wednesday on the uptick. I continued to rest through Thursday. I blew off my treadmill routine for the week, and didn't feel the least inclined to make beads, or try to sell beads. I did a lot of nothing.

We did take a walk to Birkdale Village on Thursday afternoon. I was still feeling weak, but I know that the cure for lethargy is to ease back into activity. My mom always said, inertia breeds inertia. It did feel good to start moving again.

And by Friday, I felt almost 100 percent well. Neil is off to Myrtle Beach for a softball tournament until sometime on Sunday. I'll probably have a quiet weeknd, do the wash, list some beads, maybe dip some mandrels, maybe make some beads, maybe even venture out and do some things. I need a couple of things from the craft store in Mooresville, and there is a yarn store in Huntersville that I want to check out.

And that's the last thing I have to talk about right now.

In the space of a month or so, I've become a crocheting lunatic, obsessed with yarn. I guess that's not surprising, given my history with glass and collecting and stockpiling.

I'm finishing up my third project, a throw blanket. I've learned a little from it, just as I did from my first two projects, two scarfs. I'm still wholly unable to gauge how much yarn I need for any particular thing, and how various fibers and weights of yarn will play together.

So, my blanket is a little wonky. I don't mind, It's still beautiful and I am going to enjoy the heck out of using it. And at least it's wonky in a somewhat symmetrical way. The ends and the middle are slightly wider and plusher. Picture a subtle double hourglass.

In the time it has taken me to make it, I've ordered enough yarn to make several more.

Who knew how expensive yarn is? At a rough calculation, my blanket has more than $100 invested in yarn, not counting some bits and bobs that I had on hand and used when I realized that I didn't buy enough new yarn to make it as long as I wanted to.

I have an even more ambitious project in mind, a blanket wall hanging, but I'll have to figure out a way to hang it so that its own weight doesn't cause it to sag. I might construct a giant frame from drapery rods, or something like that.

But first I have to avoid the pitfall of the yarn rabbit hole. Already I've placed half a dozen yarn orders. I'm like a kid in an online candy store. looking at yarn colors and fibers and weights, and ordering a little of this and a little of that without having an exact plan for what I'll use it for. I'm starting to see more blankets and scarves ahead, as I learn about gauges and stitches and blending and blocking.

Already I feel the hoarding mentality kicking in. Would I rather have the yarn or use it? Should I save it until I know more, am a better crocheter or knitter? Do I just jump in and use the good stuff or practice more first on the less costly stuff? Will I wind up with a yarn stash like my glass stash and my bead stash, more than I can use in a lifetime?

Or will I be able to give myself permission to just jump in and use some of the really gorgeous skeins and cakes and balls of yarn that I've been gathering?

Time will tell.

And I've just added another errand to my list. I need more plastic bins from Target to store the most recent couple of yarn orders.

For now though, I'm breaking out some sweet wool-mohair-silk blend Araucania Tepa and finishing that blanket.

Spend all your time waiting
For that second chance
For a break that would make it okay
There's always some reason
To feel not good enough
And it's hard, at the end of the day

I need some distraction
Oh, beautiful release
Memories seep from my veins
Let me be empty
Oh, and weightless, and maybe
I'll find some peace tonight

In the arms of the angel
Fly away from here
From this dark, cold hotel room
And the endlessness that you fear
You are pulled from the wreckage
Of your silent reverie
You're in the arms of the angel
May you find some comfort here

So tired of the straight line
And everywhere you turn
There's vultures and thieves at your back
The storm keeps on twisting
Keep on building the lies
That you make up for all that you lack

It don't make no difference
Escape one last time
It's easier to believe
In this sweet madness
Oh, this glorious sadness
That brings me to my knees

In the arms of the angel
Fly away from here
From this dark, cold hotel room
And the endlessness that you fear
You are pulled from the wreckage
Of your silent reverie
You're in the arms of the angel
May you find some comfort here.

(Sarah Mclachlan © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC)

Friday, October 5, 2018

Not all is forgiven

"Never again, not in this life will I be taken twice
Never again, not on your life will I make that same mistake, I can’t make it twice."

In light of the hearings on the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, Neil asked me if I thought someone should be held responsible for his or her actions as a teenager that took place thirty some years earlier.

It's not a no-brainer.

On the whole, I don't think the elapse of time makes criminal actions any less criminal.

While I do think people deserve forgiveness for many stupid things that they did when they were 17 years old, I don't think assault falls under that umbrella.

If I drank too much and had inappropriate but consensual sex, that is forgivable. The person I harmed was myself. Of course, I am female. I don't think there is a true equivalent for taking advantage of a man who was so intoxicated that he wasn't fit to consent. I don't think a woman can rape a man who has passed out. There are simply anatomical dissimilarities that make a valid comparison impossible.

So let's go with another analogy. If I drank too much and got in my car and caused a fatality accident, is that forgivable? Here we start down a slippery slope. Was it the first and only time I drove while intoxicated? Did I ever do it again? Should the rest of my life be forfeit or should I be able to chalk it up to the bad judgment of youth and move on past it to live my life?

What if I drank too much and got in my car and somehow by the grace of the universe, I got home safely? What if I did this many, many times, and just was lucky enough to avoid tragic consequences? Is that any more or less forgivable?

If you think I have the answers, you've come to the wrong blog.

The Kavanaugh confirmation waters are further muddied by his denial of the the claim by Christine Ford that, at a party in the early '80s, when he was 17 and she was 15, he tried to force himself on her sexually. Did it happen or did it not? It's a classic "he said, she said," but as a woman, I'm more inclined to believe her story. That's because it's a familiar story.

I'm fortunate that it didn't happen to me, but too many women I know were raped or otherwise sexually compromised during that time frame, in similar situations, where alcohol impaired judgment and unfair advantage was taken. And these women kept these atrocities secret for decades, from guilt and shame, or because they knew they wouldn't be believed, or worse, they'd be blamed. Why were they at that party, why did they dress that way, why did they drink too much, how could they put themselves in that situation?

It's only after the years pass, when we are mature, when we've grown into confidence or just don't give a damn any more, that we finally empower ourselves to speak of these evils, to name those names, and to feel only righteous anger, without shame.

I have a friend who in her youth posed nude for pictures. She has lived in fear throughout her corporate career that these pictures will materialize to humiliate her. She has now broken her silence about it and so taken away some of the threat to being outed.

Yes, I'm sure we've all made mistakes, we've done things that we regret, we've wished for do-overs, and hopefully we've learned some lessons along the way. And certainly we are entitled to forgiveness for those regrettable mistakes.

Maybe we've even raised our hands and lashed out in anger. Maybe we've pushed and shoved and thrown things. Perhaps we've let our tempers get out of control. I myself have two deliberately broken windows to my credit.

I also once smacked my daughter. For this I will always feel deeply remorseful and repentant. There are better ways to deal with anger, however justified.

But assault? Sexual assault?

I'm not here to say that it's unforgivable. That power is not mine. Let she who has not sinned be the judge.

But I'll go out on a limb here. What may be forgivable in the ordinary course of things, especially if done by a minor, especially if many years have passed, especially if the person has lived an exemplary life in the intervening years and would condemn such behavior in retrospect, may be held up to a higher standard if the person responsible is under consideration for a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land.

It's a big country with a lot of people in it. There are numerous qualified individuals with no stain on their character. It's my considered opinion that any such person must have an untarnished lifelong slate.

So even if Kavanaugh has no recollection of the event, if he so much as remembers being in a situation where the alleged assault could have happened (i.e., intoxicated, with raging hormones, and the slightest attitude of male entitlement, or disrespect of woman) then he should acknowledge he is not the ideal candidate and disqualify himself.

If he truly values his reputation and his family's privacy and well-being, as he claims, well then step out of the fucking limelight, because there are more ways to do good and redeem yourself than by serving as a Supreme Court justice.

Let someone else have that honor.

Especially if you don't have the temperament to maintain your composure, if you choose to play the victim card, and if you generally fail to comport yourself with the dignity, objectivity, respectfulness, and grace under pressure that are essential elements of sitting on the bench of the court of last appeal.

Case dismissed.

I wish.

Lately I’ve been walking all alone through the wind and through the rain
I’ve been walking through the streets and finding sweet relief in knowing that it won’t be long

Lately it’s occurred to me that I’ve had enough of all that
Lately I’ve been satisfied by simple things like breathing in and breathing out

Never again, not in this life will I be taken twice
Never again, not on your life will I make that same mistake, I can’t make it twice

Lately it’s occurred to me exactly what went wrong
I realized I compromised, I sacrificed far too much for far too long

Starting out from here today swear I’m gonna change my ways
Once mistaken in this life but never twice

Never again, not in this life will I be taken twice
Never again, not on your life will I make that same mistake, I can’t make it twice.

(Natalie Merchant, Indian Love Bride ©2001)