Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas La Crosse Wisconsin! I have returned!

It's a warm Christmas morning in Wisconsin,  mid 30's and expected to be almost 40, but we still have some snow so we do have a white Christmas.  I'm snug under blankets listening to how quiet it is here compared to Chicago.  First Daughters cats are playing cat games and I couldn't be happier snug under blankets in her home for the holidays. 

We, along with First Daughter In Law and First Son opened presents last night.  I had to break down and bring them a little something.  My present this year was in getting to come here again so soon.  After Thanksgiving I didn't think I'd be able to come for Christmas too.  But sometimes the Universe works in my favor.  I hope that continues. 

Last night was a wonderful Christmas Eve birthday celebration at Yesterdaze, one of my favorite hang outs here, and I ran into six old friends and we drank and caught up until much later than I probably should have, but you know how time flies when you are having fun.  I hope to run into She Of Little Combat Boots and her family today before they leave town back to the twin cities.  Many Christmas celebrations and three kids found them too tired to join us last night.

Being here and surrounded by people I've missed and loved makes me so much happier than being alone in Chicago missing them.  I suppose that's an understatement, but when you survive in a big city alone, you tend to get comfortable in your rut.  And try not to think too much about your loved ones you left behind.  For fear of missing them too much and hating where your life has taken you.  I often wish I could have the friends I have here in Chicago.  But I have found making new friends in Chicago to be a challenge.  It's not that people aren't friendly, they are, it's just that when you meet someone new it's usually just that moment.  Never reoccurring.  In the almost three years that I've lived there I've had a lot of really good first encounters that haven't matriculated into much of anything more than that.  People are all so busy with their lives.  I am too.  And I get that it's hard to fit new people into an already crammed schedule. 

I'm lonely there sometimes, but I hide it as well as I can, and thankfully I have high tech communication that seems to make me feel almost like I'm here when we chat.  I know it sounds sad to some of you that I'm locked in a tech bubble for communication with family and friends, but it's certainly better for me than being really alone.  And while I might be missing out on the day to day little things that happen, I eventually hear about it all. And I don't miss the big stuff.  Which is good.  This visit I find I'm not surrounded by bad memories as much as I felt that last month when I returned for Thanksgiving.  And so far I already have plans for today, Monday and Tuesday.  Which gives me two more days to plan fun stuff here before heading back to my city on Friday. 

I hope any of you that are reading this will find joy and peace this day with your loved ones as I am finding it with mine.  And I hope that feeling will last you much longer than the day.


Sunday, December 18, 2016

I'll Be Home For Christmas

What a difference a day makes.  Earlier this week I took the time to tell Mr. Hopeful how sad and alone I've felt over the last two years, with him half in and half out of my life.  This has been a long time coming and part of why I moved.  My depression was so high after Mr. Charisma and while Mr. Hopeful tried to be a good friend and help me through that healing, he's really not the right person to help me.  I had to help myself.  I had to learn to love myself again and stop all the hating.  And to do that I had to really look at my life and see what or who was holding me back. 

Know what I found out?

That I was holding myself back, by choosing unavailable men to fill that void in my life where my husband used to fill.  You know it's easy to say yes when a well meaning, married friend, offers to help you with things around the house that you just can't do yourself.  It's just as easy to allow a friend to be that shoulder you need to lean on or ear to bend when you've had a rough day.  And while my friendship with Mr. Practical is exactly that with no ulterior motives on either side, I wonder if my friendship with Mr. Hopeful will ever be that.  I know deep down inside I hope it will be, but I just don't see it happening, on either side.  I think my feelings for him are too deep and too strong to just be his friend.  So after much deliberation and arguments inside my head and with him, over the last two years, I decided earlier this week to take a break.  I told him no communication until after we both get back from our Christmas and New Year's holidays.  It's a span of well over two weeks and I'm hoping by the end of it we will realize how much happier we both were without trying to force anything. 

It's been a strange two years with him.  After I got over the mind numbing pain of Mr. Charisma and the triggers from my past he awoke, I realized that wasn't the only reason I moved.  Nor was getting away from the Incarnations of Immortality and the constant reminder that I'm not welcome in their circle of friends anymore.  And haven't been for decades.  It's funny how in my heart I always would have welcomed them back with no explanations or apologies needed.  But there is and has been a huge riff and I'm not even sure why it's there.  It may be because of some of those poor choices I mentioned decades ago.  But time has moved on and changed me in ways they will unfortunately never know.  Ironically now that none of them have anytime for me I feel closer to the person they liked than the person they came to not like.  Mr. Selfish, my third husband, has even made the connection, that I'm stronger now again like I was back in the day, than I have been in the last few years. The other part was to get away from Mr. Hopeful and put enough distance between us to see if we had a friendship that transcended the physical.  Like Mr. Practical and I do.  Or like That Guy and I do. 

I've come to realize, after four days, a couple of important things.  The first is that I do miss watching shows or movies or football with him.  Either in person or long distance.  So that is something we may be able to build a friendship on.  I also miss telling him about my day or asking him about his and seeing if there is anything I can help with or that he can help me with.  And just being happy or sad together.  This is good but its also sketchy, because that falls close to the 'boyfriend' or 'husband' role, because we're not just friends.  And with him its harder than any other ex to separate that.  But I have tried.  For six years now, I've tried.  Which brings me to number two, how relieved I was when I told him.  Almost immediately after hanging up, I felt intensely sad, and then incredibly, happy.  Just relieved and happy that I wouldn't have to face another off line or message from him reaching out, and me feeling my heart go from "YEAH, to shit" within seconds.  Yeah, because it's him. And shit, because he's not mine to cherish.  And he never will be.

Three days after making this decision I felt the Christmas spirit.  I bought all my Christmas presents for all the kids I raised and am raising, and I even put up the tree.  Something I didn't love myself enough to do last year.  I've felt so good about this decision.  I've felt mom's presence even more once that tree was up.  I know in my heart of hearts that this is the right path, and while it's intimidating in the beginning it's smooth sailing once you get used to the challenging terrain.  It certainly isn't as boring as the rut of denial I was trapped in.   Goodbye Stranger by Supertramp keeps playing in the soundtrack in my head.  (cue music)

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Fa-La-La-La-La, La-La-La, Eh?

What is it about the holidays, Christmas especially, where being alone seems so much more obvious.  I'm not rushing home with packages for loved ones.  Or special baskets of baked goodies for all my holiday guests.  I'm not bustling about trying to make everything perfect for my family or kids because this year I'll be alone for Christmas.  I'm not complaining or trying to feel sorry for myself it just is what it is.  With only the weekend off its not enough time to travel home to them and we got to see each other for Thanksgiving.  But I miss the magic of a Christmas morning that you've planned for weeks.  The anticipation of the kids faces as they open up the presents from everyone, including Santa. My kids let me carry on giving them a present from Santa way into their teenage years.  Knowing full well it was always me.  I miss decorating the tree with my kids, but still not enough to put one up by myself.  I think it would make me more depressed than happy.  This will be my second Christmas alone, the first one was in my new studio and a tree was fun that year.  Almost a christening of sorts. 

I think about all my friends and family who are far away for the holidays and I hope they are all happy and having the celebrations they most want to have.  I know my daughter and I will spend a lot of time on line together over Christmas and that is a very good second to seeing her.  We share so much together.  It's an odd feeling knowing you gave birth to one of your best friends.  She reminds me of myself at her age.  Full of ideas and convictions that she'd defend to the death.  Her world is much more black and white than mine has become, but I'm slowly getting back to thinking she and my younger self was right.  If I'd never crossed some lines I'd be a happier person today.  It's funny how the argument of 'Why do you always have to label everything?' or 'Why is everything so black and white to you?' can seem to tear down your defenses.  I think I've had gas-lighting done to me by some of the best manipulators in life.  And you know how hard it is to see that in an individual when you think you are in love?  It's almost impossible. 

I think a lot of my depression now revolves around the decisions I've made in the last six years.  Of course it's related to decisions I made thirty years ago too, but they are only an echo of me not learning from my mistakes rather than any fresh wounds.  No my main wound is one that is twenty years old and I can't seem to stop picking at it.  It will never heal if I don't leave it alone, I know this, but somehow that's not enough to keep me from poking the sleeping bear out of curiosity or boredom or ego.  It's always one of the three.  I think sometimes I've forgotten how to care.  And I'm almost certain I've completely forgotten how to be in love.

I met a nice man again on the train.  Odd place to strike up an intelligent conversation about AI and conscientiousness.  About simulations and matrix like universes.  For both of us.  We spend the entire train ride from the loop to my neighborhood talking about science and fantasy books. (I'm reading the last Dark Tower book on the train right now).  And even as we got off at the same stop and thanked each other for the intelligent conversation, neither asked for each others name or indicated any interest in further conversation.  He mentioned kids.  But wore no ring.  Which to me means nothing.  Every married man that has ever hit on me or caught me wore no ring.  And he seemed way too comfortable talking to a strange woman to NOT be married.  IF you know what I mean.  And I wondered as I walked home with the sky threatening snow and the wind biting my face, if I should have asked for his name.  What if he was the one Fate meant for me to meet?  And yet, am I ready to meet anyone?  I don't think so.  But I didn't think so when I met Mr. Practical, or when Mr. Hopeful turned up again, or when Mr. Charisma forced himself into my life.  And look how great all that turned out?  LOL  As That Guy would say, "You're a player and you played them all."  He's so wrong about me, but I never correct him anymore than he corrects all his friends that assume we slept together years ago and still are.  Which we never have.  I find it so odd how sex plays such an important role in male and female dynamics.  Even if it's not happening it's assumed it has or will.  Like with me and Satan back in the day.  We would both roll our eyes at the accusation.  But it was still there.  People always assume that sex is a part of a male/female friendship.  Most of society doesn't  believe in the platonic friend dynamic.  It's always an unrequited love on one side in books or movies.  Which, for me, are social mirrors to my world.  I feel done with men.  I finally feel as broken as Jack Frost said I was all those years ago when he met me.  He had become one of my best friends, best friends.  I'm not sure how it happened, I was there, and I watched myself replaced in Satan's eyes by Jack Frost.  He had heard a lot of stories about me from Satan.  Most of them I'm sure reflected my wild heart.  I'll never understand why he was so loved and adored by all of them.  He hated me and I hadn't said two words to him.  All my friends told me, Satan, his wife Nature, She of Little Combat Boots and her husband, The Doctor.  Even Mr. Hopeful would probably admit that I wasn't Jack Frost's favorite person.  I still showed up at his funeral.  I liked him.  Even thought his first words to me after I said hello to him, were, "You're broken."  I was stunned.  I didn't want to like him, but the more I got to know him the more I could see why Satan loved him so.  Mr. Hopeful has a friend like this that also hates me and I had done or said nothing to him.  I can only assume these men heard the worst stories about me instead of the best.  And I think that says something about Satan and Mr. Hopeful more than it says about me. 

I never talked negatively about my ex's even though they all had as many negative qualities as I have.  I always had been taught by my mom, "Never speak poorly of your ex husband or boyfriends, because at some point in time you loved them enough to choose them, and it only makes you look like an idiot if all you have to say is how he hurt you or cheated on you or bullied you.  If that's all he way, why did you ever choose him?" And that shut me up quickly after my first divorce, in speaking negatively about my failed loves.  The best thing about time for me is that is changes your memories to mostly good.  I find that the older I get the less I can remember what all the fighting was about anyway.  Thirty years ago, or twenty years ago. . .time seems to have washed it all away under a tide of romanticized fondness.  Or perhaps this means I'm not as bitter as I think.  Jury still out on that since there is still no Christmas tree.  I even watched Scrooged last night.  You'd think that would wake up my joy.  but not so much.  Maybe I need eggnog. 


Sunday, December 4, 2016

Missing Mom

This may be the second year in a row that I don't put up a Christmas tree.  I tell myself it's because I hardly spend anytime here, which is true.  And that we aren't doing Christmas this year because got together last year at Christmas so this year was Thanksgiving.  Which is also true.  But I think the real reason is that my mom loved Christmas.  She always had the tree up by December 1st and never took it down until after New Years Day. 

She would magically become a young child again as she put up our artificial tree and strung all the twinkle lights.  We didn't have the smaller ones you have now, ours were big and we had bubble lights too.  All the bulbs were glass and very old fashioned looking.  All have broken with the moves and years.  I was always allowed to put on my works of art, that I made at school and all the tinsel.  She was very particular on how the tree should be arranged.  "No big bulbs at the top."  And  "Put the tinsel on one strand at a time, that way it looks like ice when the lights hit it." 

And even though we rarely had more that two or three presents under our tree it was always the best tree of all the Christmas trees I would see.  Every year.  To my young eyes no one could decorate a tree quite like my mom.  The last tree she helped decorate broke the second year after she died.  And I never replaced it with a large tree.  I went with very small artificial trees after that and ornaments as well. Our cat tended to leave a smaller tree alone.  And it became nice for travel when I brought Christmas to First Son the year he graduated from Navy boot camp. 

I have a small tree that I put up my first Christmas here and I hardly ever turned it on.  And it seemed silly to put it up just for me.  No kids anymore and no presents underneath.  Why?  It's a pagan symbol which in all honesty should make me want to put it up all the more.  But when I think about doing it I always get so sad that she's not here with me doing her amazing job of teaching me how to do it correctly.  She was big on doing things the right way the first time. 

I guess after 17 years I still miss her more than I can articulate.  She not only was my mother, but she was my rock and the one person I could always count on to be honest with me and help me to not only learn, but be a better person.  And while I can't say we grew up together like me and First Son, I can say that I believe she got a second childhood with me.  A chance to grow and learn about a generation she would have been removed from had she had me in her twenties instead of forties.  I can't deny that the bad romantic choices I've made in the last 17 years have been all my doing, but I wonder if she'd still been alive if I'd have chosen better.  Knowing how disappointed she would have been in me.  I can't say I miss her everyday, but she does cross my mind almost every day.  Still.  Christmas, her birthday in February, which was also my wedding day to my First Husband, and her death day are the days that her memory seems most active.  I also feel her very strongly when I'm with my kids.  She would be so proud of them both.  As I am.