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mists of mind

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one of the many definitions of GUILT, as defined by the merriam-webster dictionary, reads thus: a :  the state of one who has committed an offense especially consciously b :  feelings of culpability especially for imagined offenses or from a sense of inadequacy 

that secondary part— feelings of culpability especially for imagined offenses or from a sense of inadequacy— i find to be deeply ingrained in me. i find myself “feeling guilt” for absurd reasons, and i’m not sure from which aspect of my life it comes from: being female? being adopted? being raised Lutheran? being working class? all of the above????

i am beyond fortunate enough to have an incredible spouse- among the bazillion of selfless and amazing things he does for me, to celebrate my upcoming birthday { a mid-decade-benchmark } he is taking me back to japan. JAPAN! i should be excited…hell, i **AM** excited, yet i find it hard to talk about. i was even going to keep it secret from my parents!

why do i “feel guilty” about this trip? is it because i don’t think i am deserving?  that i sense i am inadequate of such attentions?

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Hine ma tov. { .הִנֵּה מַה טוֹב וּמַה נָּעִים שֶׁבֶת אָחִים גַּם יַחַד }

behold how good and pleasant it is for brethren { sistren–yes, it’s a word } to dwell in unity.  this song, this psalm, is one of the first i learned in hebrew. how deep, how rich, how resonant the words vibrate in my soul when sung. perhaps it is the gradual lengthening of days, the bursting forth of new life, the whispers of spring that are stirring a desire inside me to connect with others…

a few days ago, as i’m scrolling through my facebook feed, several posts have reminded me of how important it is to have community. whether it’s the outpouring of birthday wishes, the uploaded photos, the individual status updates–i’m reminded that i’ve become a rather isolated individual.  i truly don’t want to be, yet i find myself thousands of miles away from my family; at least 3+ years since i’ve seen either of my longest-friends { hi R & A! } ;  watching as others form bonds of kinship.

sometimes i’m not very good at articulating how i feel, so i have to borrow words. these words, from Paul Rogat Loeb, succinctly summarize what i’m attempting to say: We become human only in the company of other human beings.  And this involves both opening our hearts and giving voice to our deepest convictions. …When we shrink from the world, our souls shrink, too. 

i fear my soul is shrinking.

diving deeper

i know i write a lot about depression. it’s inevitable, given that it is part of my life. and, unfortunately, it happens to be a part of the lives of many of those i love and hold dear.  my last 2 posts were literally just giant passages from the book i’ve been reading { the noonday demon: an atlas of depression by andrew solomon } that i basically wanted to “bookmark” for reference later. this post is more of a reflection on a short passage i encountered a couple of days ago, and have been mulling over ever since.

“Children of depressed mothers may suffer not only depression but also attention deficit disorder, separation anxiety, and conduct disorder. They do badly in social and academic situations, even if they are intelligent and have some attractive qualities of personality. They have unusually high levels of physical complaints- allergies, asthma, frequent colds, severe headaches, stomach aches- and complain of feeling unsafe. They are often paranoid,” {pgs. 181-182}.

this excerpt is not only talking about  the child in their youth, but also within the greater context of becoming a depressed adult. and it describes CHILD ME to a tee: Read the rest of this entry

sentimentality & cinema

i’m not one for overly sappy movies. yes, i love a happy ending, but not necessarily the all-tie-up-with-a-bow, pretty-package endings- drivel and fluff with unrealistic expectations. what really gets to me are films that have a more pragmatic view on life, and yet, still contain a satisfying and realistically “happy” ending.

last night, i randomly picked a movie on netflix, based on the brief description and the cast. Hector and the Search for Happiness – which is based off a french novel- did not disappoint. In it, the titular hector { played by the delightful as ever simon pegg }, feeling like he is stuck in a rut, travels the world in search of finding what truly brings happiness to people. the comedy was subtle, and the cinematography was stunning. hector’s journey was cringeworthy at times, humbling, terrifying, and eye-opening, and in the end, our “hero” hector has grown as a character and come to the amazing { yet not SO amazing } discovery that the happiness he thought had eluded him, was there all along.

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in many ways, it reminded me of another favourite film: Away We Go, which is also a journey-of-self-discovery movie.  in it, burt { john krasinski } and verona { maya rudolph } travel to various cities in north america, seeking a place to put down roots and call home, since they are expecting their first child. each city presents a host of positives and negatives, and they are faced with the challenge/reality that not everything { or everyone } it quite what it seems. in the end, they “discover” home in a beautiful, realistic, emotional, and SATISFYING way.

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the shortening of days

every year, the length of daylight ebbs and flows…it’s impossible not to notice. the languorously long, sun-soaked summer days eventually give way to the chilled, dreary-dark of winter. and yet, i have never noticed it quite as much as this year.  though i recollect the year i lived in rural japan {“teaching” english}, where in august it was bright past 11, and in december, it was pitch dark walking home from work at 4, never before have i noticed how i tend to embody the changes in season. perhaps, i never took the time to notice.

more than ever, i’m recognizing patterns: in the foods i crave, in the activities i want to do, in the beer i drink, and in how i notice/partake in time. in the bright months of summer, i want nothing more than to be outdoors–even if it’s just reading a book, with a thermos of unsweetened, iced green tea or mugicha by my side. i crave cold/cool things, lighter in body, simpler in profile: sushi, salads, watermelon, fresh fruits/veggies, cold pasta/chicken/tuna salads. i drink hefeweizens, pale ales, things low in abv. and above all, even with loads of sunlight, it feels like i never have enough time to accomplish everything i want to–> time slips by unnoticed.

in contrast, these shortened days we’re now facing, i’m amazed at all i get done before the sun sets, particularly on my days off. i drink heavy-bodied ales: stouts, porters, things barrel-aged, barleywines, spiced ales, pumpkin beers. i want hot, rich, savoury foods: casseroles, soups, crock pot meals, fresh-baked breads, root vegetables & gourds, things loaded with cheese/sour cream/ butter. i prefer being indoors, under loads of blankets, with my kitties on my lap- sipping hot cocoa, cider or small-earthenware pots filled with lapsang souchong or puerrh.

even with all the technology at our finger tips- instant communication, movie streaming, the “plugged in” culture- and all the modern “food” conveniences- like raspberries at the grocers in january or the conveyor-belt sushi joint by work–it’s absolutely,mindbogglingly amazing to me how my body still is in tune with its surroundings. it hasn’t lost touch with seasonality, and i endeavour to do the same

litany of terror { unemployment edition }

twice, in my life so far { and hopefully never again–knock on wood }, have i been unemployed. not the between-gig-a-and-gig-b or the i-just-quit-a-shitty-job-should-start-looking-for-a-new-one or even the i’m-taking-some-time-off-just-for-me type of unemployment. no, i mean the you-show-up-for-work-to-be-greeted-by-your-manager-“hey-we’re-gonna-have-to-let-you-go” type. the soul crushing type. the, yes, i MAY have hated this job but i still came in everyday and gave it 100% and then you fucked me in the ass type.

this category { if you will } of unemployment sucks major assballs. twice i have gone through this. twice i have had to apply for EDD { unemployment benefits } and SNAP { food stamps } just to get by. twice i have had to face the humiliation of not being able to know how to answer: “so, what do you do?” the emotional scars and anxiety NEVER go away…or, at least, they haven’t gone away yet.

which brings me to the present day–i am utterly & completely terrified of losing my job, once again, and having to face unemployment. my current position is by no means glamourous, nor do i honestly believe it is in any amount of jeopardy, but the looming monster of stress/anxiety/doubt/paranoia which follows former unemployeds { such as myself } finds ways to make me panic.

my job isn’t commissioned-based, per se, but they *DO* keep a running tally of how many successful “conversions” { new  memberships } each employee makes…and it does reflect in your performance reports and can even determine how many hours/shifts per week you receive during leaner times of year. and i’ve have been stuck at 28 conversions for about 2 months now. nevermind the dozens of membership forms i hand out, or how often i talk it up–no one has taken the bait.  which leads me to this morning…

i am scheduled to work from 9:30-5:30, no big deal. however, from 9:30-10:30 i’m scheduled as “misc. event” { ??? } now normally, before the store opens at 10, we will have vendor workshops, but they END AT 10, because the store opens for business. so what in the world is this 9:30-10:30 business???? the previously mentioned monster of stress/anxiety/doubt/paranoia is panicking that this is some type of intervention…i.e. “stein, you aren’t good enough. you need to get your act together or else” or that i will show up and be told, once again, that i’m not needed.

how does one vanquish these demons? can one ever? or does the monster of stress/anxiety/doubt/paranoia follow you forever, once you’ve been through the pain of non-voluntary unemployment???

letters to friends lost/ letters to friends retained: part one

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do you ever stop and think WHY are we still friends? i don’t mean to come off sounding like an ass, but i guess i’m more trying to get to the existential truth of how do we really define friendship. there are few people in this world that i consider counting among my true friends, and you most definitely are one of them.  and yet…when was the last time we talked?{not emailed/messaged/ what-have you, but actually talked?} or even saw each other? {i think over 2 years ago  this past summer???}.

i acknowledge, in part, that distance plays a LARGE part of this {2,025 miles according to google maps} so it’s not like i can just pop on over for tea. or like we can set up movie night or girl’s night or whatever. the last time we were close enough to do any of that was high school. crazy right??

i also acknowledge that time plays {perhaps} an even greater part in all this.and not just the obvious living in different time zones. but also the fact that i know time is precious for you– even more so than it is for me. the demands of your occupation {of which i’m still so incredibly proud of you for accomplishing!}, and having a beautiful family of your own, i don’t even know how you find time for yourself!

more than anything, i blame myself for not trying harder. in recent years, i’ve even let standard holiday cards slip by. {did i even send Hanukkah or rosh hashanah e-cards this past year???} i have yet to send you this book i bought ages ago, the intent being you could read it to/with your girls, especially since both there names are attached to it: the author’s name, and one of the characters.  i don’t think i have ever called you, unless we are in the same state, which happens so infrequently. i’ve never even asked if we can set up a time to skype.

despite all of this, i still consider us close. i still refer to you as one of my best friends. does this mean that i am failing as a friend, or does it speak to some greater truth, that i know deep-down, no matter what, WHEN i reach out to you, WHEN we have time, it will not matter how long it’s been since the last time we spoke/saw each other. that somehow, our friendship –though thousands of miles apart, with many time gaps in between–has survived going to different colleges, living in different states and countries, pursuing different careers…? i guess it must.

i want to believe this letter is just a first step. that i will try harder to be a better friend.

forgive me for not trying harder before.

brief musings

in all honesty, i’m not quite sure what form this journey {blog} is going to take quite yet.  will it be more like an electronic journal? a mish-mash of things {videos, pictures, links, etc.} that i find inspiring? will it be worth reading? i can not say.

maybe i will request “challenges”– things to accomplish– from my gentle readers.