My One Resolution

This year I decided to keep things simple. I made ONE resolution: to be more consistent. Being inconsistent is at least partially the product of the PTSD. You feel as if you’re targeted and so don’t want to do the same thing too often, the same way. Being inconsistent has cost me over and over again, in time, resources and just getting things done.

So.

I needed a way to make myself accountable for this, or I knew I’d never do it. I have no idea what if any progress on this I made in January, but that pretty much says it all, ‘eh? I probably didn’t make any progress at all.

I belong to a self-help site where I can set my own goals. I came up with one. That is to use the site to document the self-care I’m doing — for 60 days. And, I’ve just upped the ante by posting this here too.

I wish it wasn’t so, but frequently the only way I can get myself to do something is to embarrass myself into it; paint myself into an emotional corner. [If you don’t have to do this kind of maneuvering to get things done, I’m jealous!]

The image I came up with for this “quest” is below. We’ll see how I do!

J

X'd calendar

For Those Who’re Interested

This blog isn’t going away. It will however, be modified a good deal.

The memoir, of the same name as this blog now has a domain name of its own (there’s nothing there right now). To purchase the book, you’ll need to go to http://www.teacupofwater.com . I’ll post a notice here when the book is available and when the domain is actually live.

In the meantime, if you’re someone who said they wanted to be a beta reader, please contact me. A comment here will be fine. I won’t publish these, but will keep the data private. I need your contact info (email will work to start) and then whether you want an e formatted copy or a dead tree copy. Sorry, no dead tree copies out of the US, too expensive to mail!

If you know me IRL, drop me a note on FB or email and we’ll get you on the appropriate list!

Just so you know, my “target date” for releasing the beta copies is JUNE, 2016 . It may not be a very long book, but there’s still a lot of work involved in getting it ready!

J

New Year, New & Better . . .

One of the things I started last year were my “notebooks.” One day, if I get brave, I’ll post images, maybe. There are 12 of them, one for each month. The idea was that I have too much to track: cooking, cleaning, crafts, writing projects, garden planning, etc. I was always forgetting where I was, what I did last, and how. I wanted one place to put the info and so I created these notebooks. So far they work, as well as anything does, which is that they work as much as I let them, like most organizational systems.

I found another “toss this stuff” list that I’ll comment on, eventually. But what it pointed out to me, again, was that I’m weird. I just don’t keep things others do.

I don’t have a problem with extra jars in my pantry, for example, as I use/cull them consistently. I don’t have a problem with stray lids, except for Mason jars, because all the other containers get stored with lids, or they get removed — period. I do this type of thing all the time. It’s one of the vestiges of the counting thing and the SPACE BUDGET idea I came up with for that. I get rid of jars, clothes, books, papers all the time. I still have too much stuff, but the items on this “get rid of it” list reminded me that my problems are not like those of others. I have a storage problem, a bad habit problem and just an overwhelming amount of stuff. But I don’t keep things others do!

Oh! I got the revised memoir back from the editor. Now to make the changes and fix the problems, and then more progress will happen. Huzzah!

What You Do, If You’re Me

Remember the knitting posts? (I had links in here and they worked for me, but never when I wasn’t signed in?)

It took me several months to get my dander up and find a teacher. I went into yarn shops here and there with mixed results when I started to look for a teacher.

I had determined after knitting all those squares that I had the most problem casting on and off. Found a dish cloth I wanted to make. Asked a yarn shop owner about private lessons. She only wanted to teach people using a muffler pattern she had as it, “…uses all the casting on and casting off techniques in one item.”

When I said, “I really want to make this dish cloth, would you consider –?”

“No. I only teach beginners using the muffler. In all my years as a teacher . . . .”

So that shop was out.

Went into another shop, explained that I had PTSD, and had some trauma related to knitting I wanted to work through. . . .

The woman backed up 2 steps behind her counter from me (!) said, “You’ll have to talk to our teacher. I don’t know if she’d take you on or not.”

Well, if I scare you so much, I won’t impose myself on you or your teacher — that shop was out!

Lather, rinse, repeat. I went into at least 2 other shops, with mixed results, but no success.

I went into a hand-craft shop and told the woman behind the counter about my experience. She was supportive, helpful, and positive. What a pleasant change! It ends up her husband has PTSD, so she knows and understands that not everyone with PTSD is a lunatic frothing at the mouth who needs to be heavily drugged or they’re dangerous.

The teacher they had for me and I exchanged a few emails. I sent her the knitting lesson post. She asked, reasonably, “Why would you want to tackle that?”

My answer required next to no thought, “Well, I don’t. Why would any sane person willingly pursue something that negative? But I refuse to give my abuser any more of my life!”

We met at a Dunkin’ Donuts in October. I’ve been knitting, compulsively, ever since. About the 4th stitch of every row my hands still shake, I’ll drop a stitch or two, etc. I say “F. U. Abuser!” and keep going. After about 2 months of this, it has lessened, but not gone away entirely. If I think about the fact that I’m knitting, I still shake, palms sweat, etc. If I concentrate on something else and try to go on autopilot, I mess up, drop stitches, etc. all of which just makes me more determined I’m not going to let my abuser keep me from knitting.

I don’t know what the trauma is, it doesn’t matter. My body remembers. Until my body-mind decides that knitting isn’t dangerous/scarey/painful or worthy of adrenaline, I’ll keep knitting

Positive Spin

Act I

When I was a kid, paperback spinners were in almost every drug store, liquor store and market. You could buy paperbacks nearly everywhere. Spinners were always exciting. They weren’t organized or predictable, so finding a book on them was a treasure hunt!

Catalina Avenue in Redondo Beach is a row of retail shops. One was a liquor store and it had the requisite spinner. The summer before I went into high school, I found a book I wanted, The Girl from Harrison High. It was a 60’s sleaze piece, well, sort of sleazy. It intrigued me, I took it and a soda to the counter.

The woman working behind the counter said, “If you were my daughter, I wouldn’t let you read that.”

I replied, “My dad doesn’t restrict my reading.” and figured that was the end of it.

No. After several back and forths about how she thought the book was unsuitable, no doubt she also thought I was much younger than I actually was, a common occurrence at the time; she wouldn’t sell me that book. I left the soda and book on the counter and walked out.

No one had ever told me I couldn’t read something before! I was completely outraged. The only media Dad had ever restricted were WWII newsreels. I’d had nightmares. I couldn’t understand how the fact that my grandparents had been Jews meant that someone would kill me — I’d never even been in a synagogue. Dad said, “You need to be able to understand the politics and social situation before you’ll understand.” So no more WWII newsreels.

Anything and everything else in the house or otherwise was available to me. Accordingly, I had very little interest in racy items in general. We didn’t have a lot, but it was 1968, so there’d been the influx of this or that piece. If I’d wanted to read sleaze, I could probably have found it, but I had no interest. My interest in The Girl from Harrison High was that I was about to enter high school, and I was curious about what the author said it was like.

Well, this was Catalina Avenue, and my stomping grounds at the time. I walked up the street to see Fred at Catalina Music & Books. Fred knew me, and knew Dad. He knew Dad didn’t restrict my reading (I found out years later he’d kept the porn behind the counter, although I never bought any.) I bought a copy of The Girl from Harrison High and tucked the receipt inside the book.

I went back down the street to the liquor store and pulled a soda from the cooler. I put the soda and paperback on the counter.

The woman said, “I told you, young lady, I will not sell you that book!”

I pulled the receipt out of the book. “You don’t have to. I bought it from Fred up the street. Can I have the soda please?”

She sold me the soda and I left –satisfied. No one was going to restrict MY reading material! Dad was amused.

Act II

While in college in San Bernardino, there was a Colonel Sanders was next to a hole-in-the-wall liquor store on HIghland Avenue. The liquor store had a tiny paperback spinner. I’d buy a two-piece “snack” meal from the Colonel and a book from that spinner and sit, happily eating and reading in my car in the shops’ back parking lot.  I don’t remember many other shops on that street, the major retail strip. What I do remember was DJ Books, the ice cream parlor and a favorite coffee shop (I’d go there and eat their yummy coffee cake and read.) The chicken/book combo was used when the book store was closed, on weekends or after hours, and when I was nearly broke, just enough money for that box snack and a book.

Addicts always know where to get their next fix. That spinner is where I first discovered Thomas Burnett Swann, amongst others. I bought a lot of Daw paperbacks from there and ate a lot of chicken! I was almost certainly an oddity to the liquor store owner or employees. That was a store for hard drinkers or after-hour drinkers in a blue-collar town. I only bought cigarettes and books, mostly science fiction, romances, or mysteries. And, I still looked much younger than the 22 or so I was.

Act III

When we lived in the desert, one time DH was traveling for work, I was both lonesome and bored. I went to the town liquor store and found a book on their spinner. This was about 10:30 or so at night. Got me among people, even briefly, and of course I got a book.

I went home, read the book. The liquor store was still open. So, about 12:30 or so, I went back for another book I’d seen earlier that looked interesting.

The fellow behind the counter said, “But you just bought a book!”

“Yes. I read it. Now I want this one.”

“Why don’t you watch TV?”

“Boring.”

“Boring? Reading’s boring!”

“Not to me! I can be anyone, do anything, go anywhere, and I never have to leave home, buy a drink or talk to anyone! More I can repeat the experience as often as  I like.”

“I’d rather go to a bar.”

“Not me!” I went home with my new book.

Act IV

When I opened the store, I was desperate to find spinners. There was a fairly local paperback distributor I talked to before I opened the shop. I would have happily bought $100/month in new paperbacks from them, but they couldn’t be bothered to make an appointment for me to come and talk to them. I had too many things to do while opening the shop to drive an hour on the chance that the person I needed to talk to might be there. (This was before cell phones.) So I didn’t get a spinner the traditional way, that is, from a paperback distributor.

Eventually, I found one here, another there, and the last shop I had was tiny, but I had room for 7 spinners. When the store closed, I sold the best one to a friend. But the others I couldn’t give away — I tried!

I finally gave 3 of them to a fellow dealer, who sold them cheap to someone opening a store. But that left me with 3. I set them up in antique stores, with varied success. When I finally gave up on selling paperbacks from spinners, I still had the last three.

I haven’t got them in the house! For years, two were the bottom of my bean trellis. When I finally got a better way to do that, I made the two spinner cages the bottom of the wild grape trellis (we’ve been nurturing those for the past several years). The bases — a circular foot with a pole coming up through the middle — hold tomato cages off season. They’re slowly but surely rusting, but still useful! I still have one spinner in the storage. I think it will go to the dump’s recycling bin — soon!

I’d love to have a reason to use them for books, but those days are gone. Paperback spinners nurtured who I was for years, and they’ve been supporting the food I grow for the past decade or so — nurturing of another sort.

Going to the Other Side

This blog was started to track my attempts at dehoarding. And, although I can’t say that I’ve completed that goal, in many ways, I have.

DH got sick in August this year. He seemed to be wasting away in front of me and I expected him to die this winter, if not before, as he seemed to be getting weaker, daily. It was awful. There appeared to be nothing I could do. In an attempt to flip the negative into a positive and because I had to do something, I started to clean the house. My idea was that whatever it was which was making him sick, it wouldn’t be the house.

So I started cleaning, daily. I vac’d, washed dishes and kept up with them, etc. The house started to emerge from the clutter and I didn’t panic — I couldn’t — I was already in full panic mode there was no room left! All the panicky energy went into cleaning and trying to cook tasty food he could eat. (He was having a hard time swallowing too.)

Okay, so things go better. I stopped cleaning compulsively. But something was still different — the clean spots stayed cleaner — and no panic.

The panic and panic attacks have been, for decades, what stopped me. It’s damned hard, maybe impossible, to stop yourself in the midst of a panic attack and get yourself to realize that it’s just nonsense.

After I stopped compulsively cleaning, nothing happened. I realized I was waiting, again, for the other shoe to drop. It didn’t. So, I’ve been cleaning again, because of the new wood stove — and more of the house is emerging.

Yesterday I worked on the living room, set up a bookcase, filled it, came up with a pile of stuff to go away, went through some papers. Started off the day energized and psyched ( l love the new hearth we built and the new stove) but I was bummed by last night.

Couldn’t figure out why? No energy to work on things at all. Looked at the clutter, stuff littering every surface from pulling things out to clean them and felt worse. Worse? The clutter makes me feel worse? I’ve lived with so much clutter for so long it has been NORMAL. So I tidied what I could. put things in boxes, straightened piles, etc. and realized I felt better again but I was tired.

The world sure is different these days!

I have been also noticing my OCD side starting to come out . After months of looking, I finally found a black metal small dust pan. No big deal you say? I couldn’t clean inside the wood box with the old aluminum one, so I wanted another. Found it. Got it home and waxed it. Use it, clean it out with a rag and every now and then (not daily) I wax it again. Apparently, my OCD at least at first is emerging as being a fiend for cleaning tools after they’re used. I’ll take that as a compulsion with no apologies! So, I’m already going to the other side, somewhat. DH and I have been laughing about my emerging OCD. Hopefully, it won’t ever get to where it’s truly a PITA, but we’ll see!

Hiring a Writer and What I Learned

I hired someone I did not know. It had to be someone I did not know because I felt like all the people I did know were being “easy” on me. I needed a pro. I needed someone who wasn’t going to shred my emotions although shredding the writing, if that was required was okay, and I needed someone who absolutely got the book connection and understood the kind of writing I’d intended to do.

I was extremely lucky. I found someone. This person, like me, has been a technical writer. They’ve also edited anthologies. They’re also a science fiction person. I’ve never met them, didn’t know them and didn’t know they existed. The recent insanity about the Hugo awards (don’t get me started on it, please!) caused me to read a lot of people in the science fiction field and a lot of people out of it. Somehow, some way, through a link from a link from a post, I wound up at this person’s blog.

Educated, thoughtful, and the opinions were superbly expressed. I was *impressed*. Long ago and far away, I had an ambition as a technical writer. It was to make my writing so clear, so consistent that the reader forgot they were reading. I did that with this blog. Intrigued, I read more. I researched them on facebook and elsewhere. We have a few mutual friends, including some people who suffer no fools and have high standards. Huh. I’d never heard of or met this person. I haven’t met a lot of people. I haven’t heard of a lot of people, but this person and I share a chunk of FB friends where I would expect to have met or have heard about them, several times — and I hadn’t.

More research indicated they freelanced.  I’ve found an editor who will help me finish the memoir, the way I want it to be. I am both amazed and grateful!

I just realized that I promised something in the title and didn’t deliver it. What did I learn? I learned a few things. One, every now and then the universe is really, really good to you. Two, that I’d been beating myself up because I don’t write in a literary style. Years ago and miles away, that choice was deliberate. I’d forgotten that, and I’d just been at an academic conference. I’m not an academic, in fact I’m not highly educated — by choice. Writing doesn’t have to be literary/academic to be exceedingly good — go read some Mark Twain. And highly educated writing doesn’t have to be literary in style to be good either — go read a speech or two of Churchill’s! (My two writing gods.)

I’d forgotten that I love Twain and Churchill’s writing because although both men were superb writers, they didn’t need multisyllabic words, complex constructions, and obscure references to grab your heart out of your chest with their words. They did it with simple language, superb mastery and with an uncanny knowledge of human beings.

After that workshop and seeing my academic relative 3 times in the same two weeks, I got caught up, again, in the idea that I had to be “educated” and write “literarily.” I can’t. I hate that kind of writing, it is like pulling my teeth out through the back of my skull when I try.

So, I learned two things: 1) I really should avoid my family at almost all costs, although I won’t. and 2)A good editor is worth their weight in gold if you’re a writer. All writers need to be reminded of what they do well and what needs work. And a good editor can make that happen.