Monday, December 17, 2012

Finding Little Blessings that are really BIG Blessings

Dear World,

Yes, I am blogging at work (shhhhh....), but sometimes when the mood strikes, I can't concentrate on anything else.

I have not found much to be happy about this holiday season, as you already know if you've read my previous posts.  An update on my brother and his wanderlust:  he called me yesterday morning to inform me that he and his wife were forced to come back to town by December 30th because she has to work on the 31st.  So I suppose I should be happy that she is one of the minority that will be working that day - otherwise, we would have been blown off for the entire holidays.  And it gets better.  Our marching orders are that as soon as they hit the Tonawanda city line, we are to congregate at "The Home" for a "Quick and Dirty" present exchange (his exact words).  No dinner, no drinks, no living room pleasantries.  As we are gathering in the living quarters of an Assisted Living Facility, I suppose some of us will be sitting on the floor.  How incredibly festive.........  grumpy icon

I am trying so hard not to let this be the last straw, so I have decided to engage in the time-honored tradition of counting my blessings.  Here goes:

(1) I am married to a man who, even though he can be quite unevenly-tempered and can be a bit of a control freak at times, loves me unconditionally and makes me laugh harder and more often than anyone else in the world.  He will bend over backwards for people who he doesn't even know that well, and he will walk through fire for people he knows.  Our relationship has matured into one that places less and less value on material things and more emphasis on identifying the things that are really important and pursuing them.  We will never be the picket fence grandparents.  I like to think of us as following in the footsteps of Auntie Mame.

(2) I have a daughter who continues to amaze me and to exceed any expectation that I ever had for her.  I was so afraid to let go of her last year because I was afraid that if she failed so far away from home, she might not recover.  Not only has she not failed, she has blossomed into the most incredible and crazy-successful  person.  Sometimes I have to pinch myself because I can't believe she's mine.  She is my daughter and my friend. (Yes, I think she is old enough for me to be able to say that!)

(3) I have an appreciation for all of the living creatures on Earth.  I am the self-named "Crazy Cat Lady", and I love being this person.  I think that cats are intelligent, individual personalities who are extremely loving and loyal to people who return that favor.  I also find most cats to be breathtakingly beautiful, and I feel blessed that I can appreciate them and enjoy their presence in my life.

(4) Musical talent.  I can't imagine what state of mind I would be in right now without music in my life.  It permeates everything I do, every day.  Even now, music plays in the background as I type.  I also feel blessed that I am able to appreciate many different genres of music.  I remember the debut of the Barry Manilow recording of  "I Write The Songs"  and how I felt incredibly superior even at the age of 11 or 12 because I was one of the few people I knew who really understood what that song actually meant.

(4) I have an occupation that allows me to pursue my passions.  It, in and of itself, is not one of my passions, but that's ok.  I have come to accept that I will never earn a living wage doing what I love to do.  But I will die with a smile on my face.

(5) I've reconnected with my sister.... on Facebook.....after she moved to Kentucky without even saying goodbye to me.  We've had more meaningful exchanges in the past 3 weeks than we did for ten years prior.  Just one reason why I will always defend Facebook.

(6) I have a best friend who has been the miracle in my life.  She sees things in me that nobody else does and she is not afraid to point them out to me..... again......and again...... and again, until I am able to accept them in myself.   Meeting her was the turning point that meant the difference between a very sad and mediocre existence and a life that now seems very full of promise.  She has captured the heart of my daughter and the respect of my husband.  Most recently, my daughter said to me - "I love Gail because she has helped you to believe in yourself so that you can do the things that you've always wanted to do, and I can see how happy you are now."  I think that quote says it all.  I can only hope that I am, in some small way, returning the favor.

So, I guess what it all boils down to is that we must continually strive to value the good things that are right in front of our faces and endeavor to let go of that which would never really be ours without a lot of struggle.  Not that there aren't things out there that are worth struggling for.  I'm just not sure anymore that "family unity" is a realistic goal for me.  There are so many qualities of the show "Sex and the City" that I love, but this is probably my favorite quote because it sums up everything that the show was about:

"The most important thing in life is your family. There are days you love them, and others you don't, but in the end they're the people you always come home to. Sometimes it's the family you're born into and sometimes it's the one you make for yourself."


Crazy Cat Lady

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A "Cheery" Update

So..... since my previous holiday rant, some extra-cheery updates have developed.

In the years since my brother has decided to go South for Christmas every year, he has managed to arrive back in town around the 27th or 28th of December, and we have usually gotten together for dinner somewhere between then and New Years.  This year he has decided that they will stop in Virginia on the way home at some scenic locale to take pictures.  This announcement prompted Bill, the ever-helpful boy scout, to give him pointers on VMI and the location of the graves of some famous Confederate generals, etc, etc..... (Thanks, Bill...).    I can only guess that this may put the kibosh on the get-together, as who knows now when they will get back to town.  He compares his current obsession with photography to my obsession with BCAS.    He has a point, but I must admit that in this instance, I'm having difficulty validating the comparison.

Newsflash #2 - Bill's sister has decided to return to working as a visiting nurse in order to pay the bills until she can find a job in her true vocation - geographic systems/ something or other ( for example, she interviewed in Binghamton for a job with National Grid where she would be evaluating forestation growth around power lines....... or something like that....  and receiving a larger starting salary than the current salaries of either Bill or myself.  But I digress...).  Anyway, she is working as a visiting nurse on Christmas.  She's crazy, but I'd still like her around on Christmas.  Not only is her pumpkin roll to die for, but most importantly this means no Nieces on Christmas either.   <SIGH.....> 

I don't know when to break these news bites to Mandy, but I think it should wait until she's home or on her way home from school.  No point in depressing her while she's still there.   I hope her best friend comes up earlier this year from NC so that they can spend more than one day together. 

I am trying very hard to turn myself around so that I can start thinking up some different approaches for next year, but it's difficult to drum up enthusiasm when I see no conceivable way that things will improve.  My brother takes any opportunity that he can to pull away from us, and now that my Mom is in Assisted Living, he can do it guilt-free.  Mandy is never going to live in Buffalo again, and it doesn't look like I'll be going to her.  I must be the only person I know of who actually looks forward to January in Buffalo!

Have I mentioned that the Holidays really suck .............?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Concert Prep

I am officially almost 24 hours from the end of the first of two BCAS 2012 Christmas concerts.  Hmmm... we often read about the superstitions and rituals of athletes.  What about musicians.....

Right about now, I am ready to head to bed to attempt a cool 8 hours of zzzz ...... this is something that rarely happens on any other night.  Tomorrow, I am working and hydrating at the same - which means that the ladies' restroom will see more of me than my desk will.  I will attempt to duck out a couple of hours early because Bill and I must drive from one end of Erie County to the other... again..... albeit hopefully in better weather.

Earlier tonight, I performed the ritual drug store visit.  Some sort of black tights or pantyhose made of super-duper, fat-sucking-in material: check! New cheapo pearl studs to replace the cheapo ones that one 19-year old wore and lost:  check!  Some new piece of cheapo makeup (not too much glitter, now) to make me feel gorgeous <cough>: check!

Tomorrow when I get home from work I will continue to drink enough water to drown a camel but will eat ever so lightly - just enough to ensure that I don't pass out on the altar, no more than that so as not to compromise my feeble diaphragm and to ensure adequate space in my stomach in order to pig out after the concert.  Last but not least - I must remember to put in my contacts, because those reading glasses just do NOT cut it for me on any stage!

So I say to the ritualistic athletes - eat my dust!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Vous-ja De

It's been a while.  Funny, my last few posts were around holiday time last year.  The Christmas holidays suck.  Plain and simple.  What is the cause of this lack of enthusiasm... ?  As usual, I had to go back to my childhood to find the answer.  Only this time, it's my current life that is wanting in comparison.  I remember wanting one or two things from "Santa",  and I usually got them, and life was ok.  There were friends and family that we saw infrequently, for whatever reason, but we always made time for one another during the holidays.  That was what I looked forward to the most every year.

My adult life mirrored this for many years.  Then, one by one, the people who I looked forward to seeing each December stopped showing up for all sorts of reasons.  Reasons entirely valid, entirely understandable, and entirely painful.  So, I suppose it's time for me to put on my big girl panties and get on with my life.  The trouble is that I need to find some sort of coping mechanism that does not involve tears.  What might that be?  I can't muster up the energy to decorate a house that a total of six people, including myself, will see....... only on Christmas day - no more, no less.  I can't bring myself to care about the outside of my house.  I just don't see the point.  Baking?  A lot of muss and fuss for the benefit of whom?  Cards.  A subject entirely unto itself as a pointless ritual.  I know that Christmas is supposed to be about the birth of Christ.  A religious holiday.    In addition to celebrating in our local places of worship, what better way can there be to celebrate than with the people we care about the most in this world?  What better way is there to represent Christ than to cherish the presence of friends and family?  So, my question is ... if that ability is severely diminished, then what is the point of the 24-hour Christmas music on the radio starting before Thanksgiving or "Black Friday" or the elaborate decorations inside and out?  What is the point?????  Thank God for Christmas Eve... another topic entirely unto itself.

I struggle again this year with the anger.  Childish and unreasonable anger at the people who are no longer willing or able to join us in celebration.  Anger at people who seem to be constantly and utterly consumed with holiday preparations each year...... or is it jealousy that these people actually have a purpose when I have none? Anger that my child is 7 hours away and can't come home until December 22nd.  Wellllllllll .....  I may never have a solution.  My goal will be to count down the days until January 2nd when life as we know it will resume sort of state of normalcy.  I have a terrible poker face, but I must smile and play along so that I don't become any more of a kill joy than I already am.  It just gets harder every year.  I really should just swear off of Facebook until December 31st so as to avoid the barrage of status updates regaling me with lists of holiday tasks accomplished, huge Christmas dinners involving scads of relatives , pictures of elaborately decorated houses, etc ,etc...    I may be a ridiculous humbug, but I do not want to be a masochist.  Yes, that is what I will do.  Every time I am tempted to scan through Facebook, I will blog.   I don't know if this will solve anything other than keeping me from verbally assaulting someone, but I guess it's a start.  I'm sure I'll be checking back in here soon.

Monday, January 9, 2012

heavy sadness

I sit alone in my living room with a heart so heavy that is feels like it is in my feet.  Tears lurk precariously waiting to follow their predecessors.  Having been half of a Pre Cana sponsor couple at my church, I had heard every piece of marriage advice, every catch phrase there is.  "Communication is key".  "Fight Fair".  "Don't hurl accusations, instead tell your spouse how his/her actions make you feel.", and on,and on, and on.  In the Catholic Church, divorce is only an option when a spouse refuses to have children or commits adultery, and in the spirit of the 20th century, it is acceptable in cases of drug, alcohol or physical abuse.  Even so, they will always push for annulment, not "divorce."  We tell engaged couples how hard marriage can be, but how equally rewarding it is.  "The rewards are directly proportional to the effort you make.", blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.......................

Why don't they tell us what to do when someone hurls names at the other so easily that it seems like he practices it in the mirror when nobody's around?  What to do when you never know who you're really married to, because sometimes he's funny and reasonable and generous and, literally hours later, he becomes defensive, insulting, demeaning.  When you can't even apologize to him, because no matter how carefully you word it, he will pick it apart or shrug his shoulders dismissively.

I think that the most hurtful part is the total lack of caring.  It doesn't matter how much thought I put into anything I say when he's like this.  His answer, about 80% of the time is the same - "whatever."  Shouldn't we both try to act better, more thoughtfully, less reactively?  Even as I write this, I'm pretty sure he doesn't give a damn that he left me like this.  If he saw me writing this or even went so far as to read it, he would probably be angry.  He doesn't understand my need to write.  I think it angers him, but I don't know why.  He's made it pretty clear that he doesn't care enough to try to understand.

I just want to know - when is it too much to bear?  How many tears and heavy hearts do I have to feel?  What do I have to do to become immune, like he is?  Is it even possible?