Saturday, September 01, 2018

Baltics & Beyond

This is my first real post of 2018...the previous two posts were dashed off quickly and not posted when they were written months ago as I felt they were so rough and unedited, but I have felt so self conscious about this writing lately that I haven't been writing at all and it has affected my soul...this little semi-dead blog calls out to me and wants my attention and I have been ignoring it...seeming to go through a period of embarrassment about exposing myself in this way, which never bothered me in the past. I'm just going to try and work this out as I write it now...which is a technique that has been serving me since the late 60's...writing has always connected me to the most solid part of myself.

I've been in Austin almost two years now and the quality of my life is better and I think I am happier in a surfacy way, but I still really miss the intense work/lifestyle/meaning provider of working on the Ice. I have pretty much always been able to count on travel as getting me back to my center of joy but I've had a few experiences this year that have upended that theory. I just got back from a Baltic cruise where I went to all the Scandinavian capitals and Russia and I was not able to contact that giddy fun part of me that is euphorically happy on trips without fail. It just didn't happen this time. And it did not happen in Taos in May, which was really disappointing. I'm lying when I say it was disappointing because what it was was scary. To have had a miserable experience in Taos and then a grin and bear it trip to the most beautiful place in the world has upended my sense of who I think I am and what I was counting on to get me through the next 30 years....maybe I'm being too dramatic, and probably am, but it was really chilling to spend six grand and not really have that great a time, and really couldn't wait to come back home - which has NEVER happened to me. Is this little crumbling apt in central Austin really my "home?" There are other things that have happened this year that I cannot talk about here, but they may have contributed to this change in my psyche and it may be that my priorities are changing and that that is actually a good thing. I did notice that I was having a hard time letting myself have a good time, and that is an old way of being for me that I thought was gone forever. I feel like I am going backwards in confidence and bravery instead of forwards. There's a small sense of feeling defeated, that I might be trying to recreate something that doesn't exist anymore, and I can only guess that that comes from not deploying the last few years. It could be as simple as a low level long grieving of not having something in my life anymore that I loved beyond imagining. I still think about it everyday. I still apply for jobs and pursue leads there on a frequent basis.

As the words tumble out I am feeling better...since I learned how to write words on paper they have always set me straight. I don't know who reads this anymore and I'm assuming nobody does and that gives me a certain amount of freedom to just be as gutted as possible. I have been doing a couple of types of body therapies that have gotten me so sensitive that that might have contributed to this self consciousness. I have been working a lot in Austin and that has been good, and one of the little bright spots is serving at the homeless shelter, which may be having a bigger alchemical affect on my being than I may realize. As I was on this cruise being swathed in luxury and indulged by the gracious staff, there was a nagging feeling of boredom and play acting on my this scenario had been working for me for about 10 years but it's not really working anymore and some aspects of my travel life need to really be revamped and fine tuned. I may need my travel to include service from now on, but since I don't like going to hot places that is really limiting me a lot..and every place is hot now! Moscow was sweltering! I almost got heat stroke in Helsinki! WTF northern Germany heat wave!

Something new and awesome in my life is the IDW...a big new world of intellectualism that I was starved for and have at least one friend to talk about it with. I am going to Taos in 12 days and it is going to be better than in May when I was going through something really really painful that I cannot talk about here - mainly  because I'm not sure what it was really about. It is good to go back though and have this constant in my life for 20 is probably childish to think that every trip overseas and every painting workshop will be deliriously happy. My big fear is that aging is making me more bitter, which is something I am going to have to fight off like a Mel Gibson in Braveheart - just pull it out by the roots.

I heard Jordan Peterson talk about how there are no primal, powerful myths with women as the hero. That women being independent is a brand new thing. As we are designed to take care of children and be crippled by pregnancy we were not free to go on journeys and fight dragons and come back evolved and whole people like the great mythological stories that are always centered around men. This comforted me as it gave me a glimpse into why I feel so alone at times: I am a single woman who supports herself and travels around the world by herself and takes care of all her own needs, and is wrestling with internal dragons on a frequent basis (external as well, in the form of ill treatment by a society so threatened by the childfree middle aged woman who is not just a sweet old spinster biddy), and I have to take a deep breath every single day and drum up courage - courage to take on the world and say I am here, and still valuable as an employee and friend. Sometimes I feel like such an outlier that I will behave or dress more how I feel society will accept me as an older woman, but then I instantly rebel and kick out in my all back and skull booties. This is starting to ramble but it was really good to do...I feel more myself now and yes I could have just kept it in my paper diary and not posted it for the entire universe to read but what the hell  - ever onward, pushing forward.

Home For Sale

This beautiful scene is just steps from my beautiful cabin in the Mt Hood National forest. Or should I say former cabin. It is currently for sale, after a year and a half of living a busy life in Austin, a place I never thought I'd return to, but always seem to return to. I had frequently thought of selling the cabin and went back and forth over it in my mind every time I would visit, or go on a trip, or be in it for an extended time and realize how nutty I felt in a rural area. Now that I've been away from it I look back fondly on the 3.5 years I lived in it full time and my whole 6 years in Oregon. I've just returned from emptying the cabin and it sits for heart felt utterly broken as I was leaving it, piling up Fergus' toys and bedding and carting them off to goodwill...selling bits of furniture and snow tires, having a blast with my friends on the mountain. I felt like I was ripping my heart out, like I was participating in a pattern I seem to have to reenact every few years by having something I love taken from me..always in the past by a man, this time by tearing myself away from something beautiful and safe and wonderful that I created: a beautiful little home, and and a warm and loving community that held me lovingly in it's arms. Why would I do this to myself? Do I not believe that deserve to have comfortable and lovely things? Is safety and security so alien and terrifying to me that I have to run from it every time if presents itself?  Is my idea and safety and security utterly different from everyone elses? Some or all of that might be slightly true, but it is not the whole story. I could have kept it and just visited it now and then, but it was costing my a lot of money and I was not allowed to rent it out via park rules. I was underemployed the whole time I lived on there, was over an hour's drive to an airport, and drove 50 miles every day round trip to do yoga - which I sort of turned into a job. In Austin I have been working almost the entire time I've been here. I have a new bestie who I look forward to hanging out with on the weekends and seeing great films with and having lots of laughs. I am around smart people and belong to a film society and have several fun volunteer gigs. I have a quick 20 minute uber ride to the airport, and have lots of friends to have meals with. Life is good here. I have always been very restless and easily bored, and there is always something to do here that is a short walk or very short drive to go to. Everything I yearned for on the mountain I have here in abundance. I have been single a long time and don't date anymore, so have literally no drama at all in my life. There are some very dark and horrible things in my psyche that still will wreak havoc in my life in the form of hellish all nighters verging into psychosis and colored by feelings of hopelessness and utter abandonment. It doesn't happen very often anymore, but at least I can say that it is not buried. Wow! That sounds so fucked up! And listing these things I do sounds really simplistic and shallow...okay I get it, I do lots of stuff, but it sometimes feels like it's just entertainment til it's time for my dirt nap.

Since I am writing this story I can write it however I want and I choose to spin it more to my advantage. I'm tired of seeing myself as a victim of my own self-sabatoge - but I know I tend to get rid of things quickly that are beautiful, that I love, or that bring me comfort and joy...there is such a dark mistrust of these things that I have not overcome yet. But at the same time I have no worries or hardships in my life..I work around my travel schedule. I look really good for my age. I LOVE getting older...what an incredible journey aging is...all the things I get to shed that don't serve me anymore. And travel, my biggest childhood dream, is mine whenever I want it.

The thing on the mountain that brought me the most joy I still have: my little tight knit community of friends there. There are always so happy to see me and love me so much. They will do anything for me - they are the loving family that I always wanted. And I can go visit them any time I want. And then there is the name I haven't spoken...the name of the greatest love of my life...the place, the faraway place where my life had more meaning and purpose and joy than I could have imagine existed. If I could wick up that girl again...the one who had everything in front of her, and who was already 43 when the big magic happened. I'm only 57 and not ready for the surprises to be over...I need a third act and I want to be as unconventional as I feel it needs to be.

Fifty Seven

here goes the logorrhea, the diatribe, the long detailed pining, the yearning for things (things not within reach or things not appreciated when I had them and cast aside), the intense FOMO, the luxury problems, the obsessing over which European vacations to take to avoid the wrong people, the shock and awe of my undeserved good fortune, the nasty little trip into the black yawning maw of insecurity that takes several days to climb out of, the self absorption, the occasional stepping outside of myself, the repeated and repeated over again tale of the Ice and how my life began when I went there and seemed intolerably painful when I was not there. The infantile dependence on places as my source as places cannot abandon me...the surprising ability to be lifted into joy by the exiting of an airport security line into the gate. The flight. The buildings. The city. The Ice. The white. The gritty tumble-down buildings. The two great loves. The two places - one full of outrageous tall buildings the other a frozen patch on bottom.

here goes the fears and insecurity that seem to attack from nowhere, the steel wall ripped off the heart by a surprisingly small gesture, the cluelessness of what is happening with another person, the utter and complete inability to go with the flow and just relax, the hardened steel like composure and coping skills that are needed to survive this shit, the days of feeling untethered and unloved and unsure if there is any place to land if one falls, who do I call if I can't get out of bed, oh yeah I belong to this amazing program full of helpful people. But first I have to beat myself mercilessly with my own mind before I will let my self calm down and relax. Sometimes the peace and serenity and the joy of small things of daily life can intrude, unwanted, as I want my joy big and hard won and expensive.

here goes the euphoria of the getting to the hotel or lodge or ship on the first day of a trip and the instantaneous forgetting of the addled state that preceded the trip. This is what trips are for I have found out - to allow me to be in a perpetual limbo that feels utterly soothing. Feeling alive and with so much purpose and meaning that doesn't make sense to me of how that could be purpose and meaning of what? Feeling so alive I could burst and don't even have the container for so much joy, but it is happening, and holy moly I hope there is no price to pay but if there is one it is not sleeping. When I am entering an airport I feel like I have won some sort of personal lottery. I am leaving. I am going away. I am free.

here goes me getting tired of writing this way as it seems to have petered out...I'm in the "rest of it" part of the blog title - no Ice, no travel (though I've been on 6 trips this year)...wanting the next big thing...wanting it badly. And this writing feels whiny, and self-indulgent borne of narcissism or the gentler sounding navel gazing. Paul Shrader said "write it so you don't have to live it..."

[This was written a long time ago and was just sitting in my drafts folder - I will write something in a fevered frenzy and re-read in in horror thinking I can never post that, and a year later I'm so grateful to have all these posts, already written, that I can just toss out here. Grateful for my shamelessness at times.]