Mrs. Thor

brilliant and neat

The power of imagination, for better or worse

I feel like I have been absent. Not just from the blog, but yeah. I have definitely been absent from the blog. And I MISS it. I miss sitting down with a mug of tea and music playing in the background and hammering out a post. I miss talking about the post on Facebook with you all, and occasionally in the comments.

I feel like I have been a more insidious kind of absent. The checked-out, moving in a dream, half-engaged most of the time kind of absent.

It’s the kind of thing that starts as a slow leak… say, with a job you hate, that sucks your life force one day at a time. Then maybe it’s followed by a friend dying. And perhaps, somewhere in the middle, you might have started taking one or more medications that started muting you toward gray. Before you know it, it’s almost 2 years later and you’re flat.

Completely, rims on the asphalt, not going any-damn-where tonight, flat.

It finally hit me last night, the full weight of it. The lack of growth in my life. The trapped feeling that makes me twitchy for change or crave emotional explosions. I cried last night for the first time in quite some time, and I was crying for myself. For my fear, and my exhaustion, and my hopelessness.

I am not this person. I am not afraid. I am not trapped.

But I imagined that I was. Somehow over the past couple of years I stopped monitoring The Dark Voice. You know. We all have this, at least I think we do. It is that voice that says you are not enough. It is the voice that says you don’t want to, nor should you. It’s the voice that says you’re not loved, not wanted, not welcome.

It is the voice that says you can’t.

So for the last year or so, that’s where I have been. Trapped under the weight of can’t. Wait – let me amend that. Trapped under the IMAGINARY weight of can’t. Stranded behind roadblocks, watching traffic move to here, from here, past here, around here. But I’m waiting, because The Dark Voice tricked me into thinking I can’t.

But it’s not real. It’s all imagined. It’s made up. It’s based on thoughts.

I think I can’t do what I want to do, I think I can’t get where I want to be, achieve what I want to be, because I got tired. And I stopped telling The Dark Voice to Go Fuck Itself, which is something I had to learn how to do at a very young age. And so The Dark Voice managed to sneak in and set up its filthy hobo camp in my brain and start running the show.

What drove this home for me was my dog. This morning, he was flopping around on the bed and pouting. Eric said, “Wow, Ace. You have such a tough life. You just wait around for us to play with you and let you outside.” And I said, “Isn’t that funny. He just waits around for humans all day because we have what he needs to be happy in life. But oh my God. We! We already have what we need to do what we need to do! But we’re waiting around like we need someone else to open the door! We don’t need anything! What is wrong with us?”

Yes, my husband is used to me going off on some philosophical rant triggered by a mundane observation. That’s just me.

Anyway. Imagination. It can really mess with you if you’re not actively using it for good.

Being old:

This is what “kickin’ it old school” means to me now. Bringing back Earl Grey tea, in a teabag, with clementines.

earl grey.jpg

What’s going right.

I found myself kind of cranky and out of it earlier in the day. I was stressed out and mad at something unidentifiable, so I decided to scrawl out a list of everything that was getting under my skin at the moment.

Not two hours later, I received an e-mail form my husband, who was in a similar mood, except had decided to make a list of all the good things he could think of at the moment.

Lesson learned. I decided to try to keep track of what’s going right today.

In no particular order:

I was browsing on archive.org and decided on a whim to listen to a John Mayer concert without looking at the set list. I was actually enjoying the show and then the band started in on a totally rippin’ cover of Tom Petty’s “You Don’t Know How it Feels.” Joy ensued.

The $100 amazon gift card that I had sent to the wrong e-mail address yesterday was able to be returned/refunded to my amazon account, which is what I was trying to do in the first place. Whenever I get Visa or MC giftcards, I turn them into Amazon gift cards so I never have to worry about using up weird amounts on the card.

The blessed City of Corning picked up my recycling for the second time in a ROW. I usually have to call the nice lady at the work order center at noonish every other Wednesday to complain that my recycling is still outside.

This is a 4-day week for me – tomorrow is my “Friday.”

I have a great job.

I have a wonderful husband.

I am in good health, with 100% working parts.

I have a place to live, and am even so hopeful as to be looking at buying a house this year.

I have enough good music to keep my earbuds happy for a long, long time.

I am going on a sewing retreat this weekend with some super-cool quilters.

I actually spoke to a stranger in the elevator this morning, which is a very rare occurrence in these parts.

Working people’s problems

I title this post that way because I know darn well that Eric and I are lucky, blessed, fortunate beyond measure with the status of our collective employment. We both have jobs, and thankfully, they are relatively well-paying jobs for this area.

But I want to complain. I want to complain because I have been married for three years, and right after I got married, Eric got moved from day shifts to evening shifts with this statement: It’s just short-term, just a few months while we get through this push.

He has been on evenings for over 2 years.

He recently got a new group leader at work and she seemed like she was really going to move some things and get him moved to another shift. He has been working 11 a.m.-7 p.m. this week, but he told me today that it’s not going to stick.

That although he has some seniority, he probably doesn’t have enough seniority to work a day shift.

So, I go back to seeing my husband for 30-60 minutes a day, max, if we both come home for lunch. And saying goodnight on the phone, and going to bed alone in the stupid dark house.

I knew it was too good to be true. We have spent our evenings lately cooking together, cuddled on the couch drinking tea and talking, listening to music… you know, normal married people things that we usually try to cram into one day of the weekend. And don’t get me started on weekends. When he works evenings, we only get half-day weekend days together because of his sleep needs from staying up so late.

I’m just a little upset and frustrated. I hate when things seem like they are finally lining up and then life hands you an “Oh wait, never mind. You don’t get to have this after all.”

My magical musical year

I was going to write a long post talking about how amazing 2013 was, how I learned to move through grief and loss of a friend and a job to another life that aligns more with who I am and where I want to go. How I chopped off all my hair and started a business and then got a better job than the one I lost and finally went to Colorado and decided to learn to play the banjo and decided to stop being afraid all the time.

But, instead, I’ll show you my show recap for the year. This includes concerts and festivals. I think I saw Railroad Earth and The Infamous Stringdusters 11 times each this year.

There is no medicine quite like music.

February

Keller Williams – The Haunt, Ithaca, NY

March

Railroad Earth – Union Transfer, Philadelphia, PA
Cabinet/Hot Buttered Rum – The Haunt, Ithaca, NY

April

Greensky Bluegrass – Westcott Theater, Syracuse, NY

May

DelFest – Cumberland, MD
Railroad Earth – Chameleon Club, Lancaster, NY
Railroad Earth – Ram’s Head Live, Baltimore, MD

July

Railroad Earth – Red Rocks, Morrison, CO
Railroad Earth – Boulder Theater, Boulder, CO
Railroad Earth – Belly Up, Aspen, CO

August

Railroad Earth – Saranac Brewery, Utica, NY
Cabinet – Cyber Cafe West, Binghamton, NY

September

Infamous Stringdusters/Leftover Salmon/Assembly of Dust, Capitol Theater, Port Chester, NY
FreshGrass, Mass MoCA, North Adams, MA
Railroad Earth – Capitol Theater, Port Chester, NY

October

The Festy Experience, Roseland, VA

November

Della Mae – La Tourelle, Ithaca, NY
Horn O’Plenty, Sherman Theater, East Stroudsburg, PA

December

The Infamous Stringdusters – Boulder Theater, Boulder, CO
The Infamous Stringdusters – Boulder Theater, Boulder, CO
The Infamous Stringdusters – Union Transfer, Philadelphia, PA
The Infamous Stringdusters – The National, Richmond, VA
The Infamous Stringdusters – The National, Richmond, VA

One year.

I’ve been doing just about anything you can imagine to put off writing this post, about this topic. Even as I type, I am still in my workout clothes, there is a strand of lights that has gone dark on the Christmas tree, and my in-laws are coming for Christmas Eve dinner at 4.

Don’t worry, dinner tonight is pizza.

Basically, last year on Christmas Eve, I was in a casino hotel, getting ready to spend the day playing slot machines and maybe sitting by the pool. And just relaxing and trying to enjoy the last bit of 2012, which was just as hard as 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007. Every year for the past few years, I have sent the year off with animosity and a hearty “good riddance.” 2012 was shaping up to be the same.

On Christmas day, I woke up ready to drive to my parents’ house for Christmas dinner. When I got there, I had a Facebook message from my friend Anthony’s cousin. I knew why she messaged me. Anthony had been in the hospital for several weeks, and when he told me he was back in, he made it clear that he was never returning home. She asked me what I was doing, if I was with family, and I lied across the board because I knew she would only tell me what I knew I was going to hear if she thought she wasn’t ruining a Christmas gathering.

She called me and neither of us spoke a word. Finally, I managed to force a whisper, “I know.”

I did know, because someone had already posted about it on Facebook. I had checked my phone before I left the casino. The thing about losing someone is that even when you’re expecting it, even when you knew it was coming for a long time, when it happens it sucks your stomach to your eyeballs and takes your breath away and every other cliche that you can imagine. Punch in the gut, hits you like a brick, hits you like a train.

Except, it all happens at one time, and all in one half-second you get broken apart.

I spent the drive home listening to Paul Simon’s Graceland album, holding my husband’s hand, and weeping steadily.

What Anthony’s cousin told me was that he died on Christmas Eve, probably while I was playing slots a few hours from him. She told me that he was ready and that he was at peace.

That was a year ago. I think about the kind of guy that Anthony was, the kind of friend that he was, the strength of his moral code, his sense of adventure, his humor, his love of fishing, his love of music, his love of St. Louis sports teams, his loyalty, his memory. Not just the memory of him, but the way he remembered the events in our shared history with meticulous detail.

We walked, Anthony and I. When we reconnected, I knew he had cancer and I knew it was bad. I asked him if I could do anything for him, but literally all he wanted to do was take walks. He liked to get out of the house, get moving. We walked last summer, sometimes 3 or 4 times per week, for a total of 21 times.

We walked in a local park that has a weird little pond, and sometimes people would be fishing in that pond. Anthony said he would never fish there. “What am I gonna catch in there? A dirty diaper?”

One day, we saw a couple of older guys and they had buckets, coolers, multiple poles each. Anthony nodded in their direction from across the park when they came into view and said, “Those guys are really fishin’ it hard.” I don’t know why, but I laughed and laughed at the thought of fishin’ it hard. After a couple of minutes of walking in silence after that, he said, “Someday, a few years from now when I’m not around, you’re going to see a couple of guys sitting around fishing and remember that, fishin’ it hard, and you’re going to remember me again.”

Like I will ever forget.

Resurrection.

It’s coming up on three months since my last post. I haven’t thought about the blog much. I actually stopped reading other people’s blogs at some point this year, because without Google reader, I just had a hard time getting into blogs again. I think it has been a good thing for me, not looking into other people’s lives. I also pretty much stopped watching, listening to, or reading the news. Because the news depresses me. No matter what’s up, you can just assume that something awful is being done to someone by someone else.

I’ve kicked around the thought of pulling the plug on the blog and just not blogging anymore. I’m not sure that I’m ready to do that.

I’m considering a recap series, kind of a 2013-in-review. I was a very sporadic blogger this year. I had a lot going on that I didn’t feel like blogging about while I was going through it.

I spent the first half of the year underneath a cloud of grief after the death of my friend Anthony last Christmas Eve. I tore down the Christmas decorations like they were poisonous. I had a hard time getting in the car and driving anywhere – it almost always made me cry. I took my husband to the park where Anthony and I used to walk before things started screaming downhill with the cancer. We walked the route that Anthony walked 21 times last year. Moving through it helped, but I think it was moving through my life that helped me more. Starting in May, Mr. Thor and I went to lots and lots of live shows. I swung hard in the opposite direction, toward action, and travel, and go-go-going…and I may have over-corrected a bit. I need some balance, and some perspective, and I tend to find that through blogging.

So I guess this is me, tentatively resurrecting this thing.

Hiya.

A few things have changed around the blog. Nothing much. I switched hosting plans. I switched the layout a little bit, and added mobile settings.

I haven’t been writing with any regularity… in all honesty I am just trying to decide if I have any more blog material in me.

See you soon – maybe?

You know what they say about doing it.

Tonight, I was tempted to stay at work for an extra hour in an effort to put a dent in some of the tasks that have started to pile up. Usually, I feel just fine leaving work until the next day. Tonight, I felt almost frantic as the clock passed 4:30.

I was all keyed up – not because of anything bad, but because my job is busy and awesome and I actually get a little high from getting so much accomplished in the workday. There is lots of change, lots of learning and new projects, and I always feel the desire to get a jump on things, to get started right away.

I took a breath, closed my eyes for a few seconds, said, “No – go. Just do it!” and reached for my sneakers. Starting to skip workouts for work is a bad idea, and it’s the way that the almighty boundary starts to disintegrate. I already have a work cell phone that is attached to my work e-mail. I can and do read e-mails at all hours of the day and night when I’m not at work. I do this, not out of a sense of obligation, but so that I know where things stand, what might have been resolved after I left for the day, maybe what I have to anticipate the next day.

But that delineation must remain intact. I must keep work time apart from me time.

Working out makes a nice bold line between those two times.

And I JUST realized something, right now as I am typing. My workouts, these classes? They are the only time of day that I don’t have my cell phone on or near me. It is locked away, useless to me in a class where I need to hear every word from the person teaching it.

And the upside of going tonight, other than an hour away from my cell phone?

I was 100% convinced that I couldn’t complete tonight’s workout, all the way up to the very last rep of the very last exercise. Legs trembling, arms trembling, sweat rolling. Impossible repetition numbers like 50 and 30 seemed light years from my reach.

And suddenly, I was done.

I never would have felt that sweet satisfaction if I had stayed late at work – just guilt over missing my class, over not working out tonight.

I did it.

Roll with it.

Walking home from the gym tonight, I benefited from someone else’s front porch serenade… Leaving On a Jet Plane, so quietly played and sang that it was hard to make out. I love that song.

Sometimes I just take those little things with a grateful heart and sing along under my breath. Today was one of those days.

Tonight’s workout was an active recovery workout, so that by the time we get to tomorrow’s killer workout, we won’t be too sore from last night’s killer workout.

I finally got to know a foam roller tonight. It hurts. It hurts so good. We did lots of stretching and mobility work, some with light kettlebells. We did a squat clinic, which is EXACTLY as much fun as it sounds.

I spent a lot of time on the floor. I felt stronger in some places than I expected to. I hurt more in other places than I expected to. During a series of stretches, my left, and then my right calf cramped up.

They still hurt. Right now, I feel warm and relaxed. I feel like I am radiating heat. I don’t feel like a badass, but I feel like someone who is doing what she should be doing.

I feel like, for once, the perfectionist is on a vacation and I am just enjoying the ride.

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