Saturday, November 26, 2005

#452 I Want to Go Home

I figured out why I hesitated to post this topic (see previous entry).

Because it's revealing.

Several strangers who have somehow found my journal (particularly the earlier entries on AOL, when I was trying to finally let go of Jay) have commented that reading my journal has changed them, that they'd never seen feelings so starkly and yet so deeply expressed (which is one reason that I didn't allow comments - the comments themselves were sometimes wrenching), and so on. They almost all comment on the degree of self-revelation in so many entries, particularly those concerning Jay's and my relationship. Several have told me that my memorial to Jay made them cry. Complete strangers. And yet I continue.

Family and friends are not surprised. They know that I will say whatever I think and feel without censor or censure. My thoughts and emotions are very close to the surface. If they are even the least bit hidden, I drag them out to look at them. Take it or leave it, it's me. It's at least honest.

After what Daughter told me on Thanksgiving Day, I wanted to hide for a while. But that's the whole point of this topic - not hiding. It's the whole point of the journal, actually. Not hiding.

So here it is:

"I want to go home."

After I graduated from college, when I was finally out on my own, I think I may have been a little ... um ... mentally ill. Actually, maybe a little more than a little. I'd be in my kitchen, washing dishes, and I'd hear a voice, someone calling my name. It was so clear I'd turn around, thinking someone was in the hall calling me. Sometimes it was my mother's voice. Sometimes it was a stranger's voice. It was never my own inside-my-head-thinking voice.

The voice called me several times a week, always when I was alone. Sometimes the voice woke me from a sound sleep, calling me. Never anything but my name, and not even my full name, just the first half. The tone wasn't like my mother calling me home, but more like someone tapping me on the shoulder, saying my name to get my attention. It always made me look up, look around. It was so outside me.

Also, every once in a while, while I was doing some household chore, I'd stop, and look out a window, and I'd think to myself, "I want to go home." It was a sad thought. I didn't know why I said it. I didn't know what it meant. I was home. I often said it out loud. I surprised myself when I thought or said it, because I hadn't been thinking it, didn't know why I said it, and with such intense longing.

I had the "calling" voice and the "home" thought through my twenties and until my mid-thirties. The "calling" voice gradually came less often, as the wanting to "go home" increased. By my mid-thirties, I was walking around thinking "I want to go home" almost constantly. Everywhere. All the time. I wanted to go home so badly I sometimes burst into tears, but I couldn't figure out where home was. It certainly had nothing to do with my parents.

By then I was in psychotherapy. I told Dr. K. about how I thought "I want to go home" all the time, and how badly I wanted to go home, and he asked what I thought it meant, and I said I didn't know. He was sure it was not suicide. I wasn't so sure.

At the end of four plus years of therapy, I realized that if I stayed in the marriage to Ex#2, I would die inside. Worse, I could see six-year-old Daughter trying to get his attention, and her failure was making her sad, too. I was finally emotionally strong enough to take care of myself and her. We left him.

"I want to go home" slowed to a trickle almost immediately after leaving him. I haven't thought or heard it in almost twenty years.

Now I am content. I now finally know what I wanted. I know where "home" is.

Home is me.

Because of the way I was brought up, and because the early conditioning was reinforced by some emotional battery in college, I had believed that everything that went wrong was my fault. I thought I didn't matter. That it was up to me to make everyone happy. To be what they wanted me to be, to do what they wanted me to do, to fulfill their definition of me, their expectations. To give what others wanted, no matter what I wanted. Because I didn't matter. I didn't matter. I wasn't important.

Somewhere along the way, I had lost me. I didn't know who I was, or what or how I was. "I" was gone.

I guess that's what Dr. K. meant when he said I had a "poorly integrated personality".

It was only after I left Ex#2, and Daughter was the only person I had to be responsible to and for, that I was finally able to find me. And thanks to Dr. K., I found I liked me. It took a long time to get comfortable with me, to find out that I do matter, and that it's ok to define myself. To be myself. Eventually I liked me. A lot. I'm pretty nice, actually. I wish I had known me when I was younger.

I am valuable. I know who I am, what I am, and what I have to offer. I have faults and failings (one being a tendency toward self-involvement, no surprise, another a resistance to being responsible
to anyone else, also no surprise), but they're minor compared to all of the good of the rest of me, and I admit to my faults freely. They are part of the package that is me. I am me, and I like me.

I am finally home. I am at home in myself, and I am content.

The reason I hesitated to post this is that on the way home from Reading yesterday afternoon, as I was driving through the mountains, I thought, "I want to go home." Just once, but it scared me. I think it was because of Daughter's revelation that she had contacted someone from "back then". Someone who knew me before I was me.

It frightened me. The thought, not the contact.

I'm ok now. All I have to do is be me, and everything will be ok.


Friday, November 25, 2005

#451 Pennsylvania

I'm back from Pennsylvania, the land of scrapple and suicide lanes. Nice Thanksgiving dinner at Daughter's fiance Hercules' grandmother Nana's house, where I finally found out the difference between stuffing and dressing.

Daughter and Hercules came up from New Jersey. They're taking a few days to explore areas in Pennsylvania they might consider moving to. Hercules' mother is on an extended visit from California.

Hmmm, lots of things in the first paragraph to explain to non-Pennsylvanians!

Scrapple IS what most people think Spam is but isn't. When Hormel makes a canned ham, they cut the big hunk of meat off the shoulder, and can it. But there's a lot of meat left on, in, and around the shoulder bones. So they trim all the bits of meat off the bones (getting a bit of the soft gristle, too, pure protein), grind it and put it in the Spam can, seal the can, then cook it. Cooking in the can is what causes all the nice jelly around the Spam. Spam is pure ground-up pork shoulder. Nothing else, nothing yucky. I like Spam.

Scrapple, on the other hand, is made from all kinds of scraps. I had a very bad experience more than 50 years ago when I accidentally saw scrapple being made. It involved huge a boiling vat topped with gray foam that parted to reveal an entire pig head, that rolled up like the "NO!" in a Magic Eightball. It had eye holes. Its tongue was hanging out. It looked at me. To this day, the mere smell of scrapple nauseates me. I was offered scrapple for breakfast this morning, and the severed pig head looked at me again.

Suicide lanes seem to be unique to Pennsylvania. I thought they had gotten rid of them, because they do deserve the name. It's a third center lane on a rural two lane highway, to be used only for left turns from either direction (or, unofficially, for passing a slow farm vehicle or Amish carriage). It runs for miles, down the middle of the road. Naturally, some idiots think it's a "go faster" lane created especially for them. So some innocent will pull into the suicide lane to make a left turn, and be clobbered at 60 mph by an idiot who can't get back into the regular lane quick enough. Unless the idiot has already been clobbered by another idiot doing the same thing from the other direction. Oh well. A lot of Pennsylvania is still nearly virgin forest. Maybe this is how the state keeps population growth down.

AOL Journal Land has been full of arguments and discussions the past week or so about stuffing versus dressing. I never knew there was a difference. Nana served both yesterday. The stuffing was the usual bread etc. mixture stuffed into the turkey. The dressing was mashed potatoes with sauteed onions and celery, and a couple slices of white toast cut into small cubes and then sauteed with the veggies, and veggies and bread were then mixed into the potatoes. I liked both. Yummy.

I'm blathering. I'm kind of avoiding a topic I want to note here. For myself.

This past summer I told Daughter one of my biggest secrets, because it affects her, and because she finally came right out and asked. It was finally unavoidably time. I had hoped she would just sit on the information, because it could potentially adversely affect another, who is deeply involved but didn't know it. Or suspected, because of some questions I had to ask about ten years ago, but didn't know for sure. And probably didn't want to know. And really didn't need to know anyway. Maybe.

Yeah. I should have known better. This is, after all, Daughter. She is what she is and has always been. If she were a dog, she'd be a terrier.

Daughter made contact, an anonymous card last June (which she didn't tell me about until now), and a phone call this past week. They discussed the topic. They're exchanging photos. I can't believe it. My past is coming back to haunt me.

She's handling it well. So's he, apparently. I'm a mess.

I don't know how to feel about it. It's been in the back of my head for 30 years, and now here it is right in front. She played a stored cell phone message for me to hear, and the voice on the phone shook me badly. I asked Hercules' aunt for a cigarette, and I took it down to the basement and smoked it. I don't know why, but when my mind is going six directions at once, the only thing that will stop it and put me back on track is nicotine.

She has given me an email address.

She has pointed him to this journal.


I wanted to do an entry on "I want to go home". It's all written up - I wrote it last week, when I noticed that I say "I am content" a lot in these journals, even when things are tearing me up. It's such a difference, and I wanted to explore it. I figured I'd put it in sometime when I have no time to write or nothing to say.

But now I hesitate.

And I'm not sure why.


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

#450 A Story - A Teacher

I scarfed the following joke from the Mensa joke site. Pardon the "shouting" - that's how it was posted.











I started teaching math at Gettysburg High School in 1965. I was 20 years old. Many of my students were only 2 or 3 years younger than I, but they didn't know that. In their eyes, I was a "grownup" and they were the kids. I left Gettysburg in 1967, moved to New York, and went to work for The Company.

Some five years later, I was in Gettysburg visiting friends. We were sitting in a bar one evening when a handsome young man sat down next to me and began to "put the move on" me, big time. He tried every pickup line in the book. I had told him I was visiting from New York, and he said "You know, I swear you look familiar. Have we ever met before?"

I smiled, and said, "Yes. You were in my calculus class at Gettysburg High School in 1965-66."

He frowned and said "That's funny. I don't remember you. Where did you sit?"

I answered, "At the big desk at the front of the room."

The look on his face as it dawned on him who I was was priceless. Suddenly, I was the grownup, and he was the kid.

Gotta give him credit, though. Once he got over it, he kept trying.


#449 AOL's Alerts - Tell Me Again?

I have posted the following comment in several AOL journals. It's a point no one else has brought up, and I want as many ex-AOL journalers as possible to think about it. Could it be that AOL is not being truthful? Gee, is that possible?

We have been told that the text in the alerts was shortened (in the same update as gave us the banners) in order to fix the alert delivery problem.

In the past, the alerts were long enough that I was often able to read an entire entry without having to go to the actual journal. Now, I almost always have to go to the journal (which has forced me to cut down on the number of alerts, since I don't have time for that, especially since the banner ads slow load time). However, I notice that the UK journals, which do not have the ads, still provide long alerts. This implies that the shortening of the alerts is connected somehow to the addition of the banners.

One cannot help but wonder if the purpose of shortening the alerts was NOT to fix an alert problem, but to forcefeed the banner ads. !!!!!

Wouldn't it have been more efficient, more effective, and less disruptive to put the ads in the alerts, and leave the alert text long, rather than putting them in the journals?


Monday, November 21, 2005

#448 Margaret Cho's Blog

I've been dipping into Margaret Cho's blog occasionally. The woman is deep. If you haven't been there, go:

This entry, although a bit depressing, Is a good example:
or this one, about dieting: I just wander around, choosing topics from the list of entries on the right.

I'm still up because I am doing laundry. I am doing laundry because I have no clean underwear. And I have a date tomorrow, so (even though no one will see them) I can't wear the emergency back-up underpants - Jay's old y-fronts. Ouch. (Well, come on! They are amazingly comfortable!)


#447 Is It Time to Panic Yet?

Monday. Eight items on the Immediate To-Do list. I accomplished four. Considering what last week was like, I guess that was pretty good.

I cleared out last week's mail and newspaper backlog, and burned the (non-colored) trash.

I made hotel reservations for Wednesday and Thursday, Thanksgiving in Reading with Daughter's fiance's family. I left a message at a beautiful antiques-furnished "haunted" mansion B&B, but they haven't called me back yet. So I made reservations at a Best Western. I can cancel the Best Western if the mansion comes through, but I sincerely doubt that the B&B will have anything available. The clue - They have a 2-week cancellation policy.

I called Roman to check on how his father is doing. Not good but not worse. Dinner together tomorrow, then I'll attend his class, then we both go home alone so we can get ready for our respective trips Wednesday.

I studied a little of the Excel textbook Roman lent me so I wouldn't look like a complete idiot. A lot of it is intuitive. If I learn the terms and where to click, the rest should follow. Unfortunately, I didn't get very far. I hope I can do more tomorrow.

I haven't the faintest idea what took up the rest of the day.

I didn't get laundry done, or hem the jacket I wanted to wear for Thanksgiving, or move the grandfather clock, or unpack several "short trip" bags cluttering the hall. The first two could be a problem. If I don't do laundry tomorrow, I may have nothing to wear to Reading. Wish me luck.

Oh, by the way, the alarm clock works fine. It rings changes on cathedral bells, and this morning I let it go to see how long it would ring. The bells ring for two hours before they give up. I don't know what happened Saturday morning.


Sunday, November 20, 2005

#446 The Wedding

Yesterday was the wedding. The beautiful alabaster-skinned Pixie wed the spit-shined and polished Dark Prince. Everything was beautiful. The sun shone, the hotel did an incredible job with the dinner, the men were handsome and the women were beautiful, and the day ended well for all.

Personally, the day didn't start so well for me. The ceremony was at 11 am. I was so looking forward to it. I was to stop at Roman's on the way, so I would have had to leave the house by a little after 9 am. Friday night I set the alarm for 7 am, and went to sleep.

I was awakened from a deep sleep, in the middle of the night, by the bed phone ringing. I answered sleepily, and it was Roman. He asked "Where are you?"
"It's 11 am."
"Saturday. The wedding. It's supposed to be now."
... followed by yelps of sheer panic on my side.

Luckily, I had laid out my clothes the night before, so I managed to get washed, dressed, and out the door in 18 minutes. Thank goodness my hair didn't look too very bad. Brush and run. I had intended to wash it because I had been burning more paper the night before, but nobody complained .... (I worried about Roman, because he kisses the top of my head a lot.) Yes, I did check the alarm clock. It was set, and the time was correct. Either it went off and I didn't hear it, or it never went off.

Don't tell anyone, but I hit 70 mph on Route 9G. That road is deserted on Saturdays.

We missed the ceremony, of course. I'll have to beg Pixie to let me see the video. Everyone said it was very special. I'm absolutely sick we missed it. But we made it in time for cocktails and the reception at the hotel. And Roman finally got to see the Gypsy dance - she lived up to reviews. The Pixie had taken good care of us - we were at a table with some people I had met before (although that was at a fantasy gathering, and so everyone had been in costume and under assumed names then - which statement, that we had met under assumed names, puzzled Roman for a half a minute). And I didn't have to apologize to Roman - suits and ties were the uniform.

I had taken advantage of the wedding group discount and reserved a double at the hotel for Saturday night, for just in case. What the heck, why not, we could cancel anytime up to 6 pm without penalty. (Maybe I should have got the room for the night before!) But after one large Southern Comfort on the rocks, a glass of champagne, and a glass of wine (the last inch of which I spilled), keeping the room was a good idea. I was giggling a lot.

When I had met with Roman earlier and switched to his car, I said that I had tried to call him on the road and have him meet me in the hotel lobby, but I had somehow forgotten the cell phone. He said oh, no, he was counting on my cell because his mother had called earlier, and his father was not doing well. His sister was headed out to check on them, and he wanted to call them at about 2 to see what his sister had to say. We ended up borrowing The Gypsy's cell (thank you very much, Gypsy!). His sister said she didn't notice anything untoward, but Roman, knowing that his mother is in a better position to judge, worried all day anyway. He called again later from the hotel room. He's going to worry until he can see for himself, I think. (I suspect I should be grateful that he didn't cancel on me and head for Long Island. I'm sure that was his first impulse.)

So, all in all, a good past 33 hours. I think Roman enjoyed himself, too, even with his worry. The DJ played mostly music from OUR high school years, and we sang along and even danced a little (it was mostly fast, and I don't do fast, but the few slows were nice.) We fit well for dancing, too.

Damn. I'm still having trouble accepting that we missed the ceremony. Well, I'll just have to sit back and smile on the marriage. That's the important part, and it lasts longer.