Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Wednesdays at Forty-Something: Six Weeks of Wretched

Earlier in the summer, I posted an ad to Craigslist, looking to rent out my spare room.  I know, I know!  I've had no trouble/issues in the past, though, and didn't anticipate any this time either.  Two people responded.  One said they had found a place, when I responded to their query.  The other, I made arrangements to have them come take a look.
During this first encounter, I didn't pick up any negative vibe.  I explained the things that I expected as a part of them living in my house.  Things like: don't smoke in the house (I don't smoke, he said), don't leave the toilet lid up 'cause my cats will get in the toilet, etc.  Nothing was crazy or unreasonable.  He shared that he needed to find a place as soon as possible 'cause he was living with his mom and it was driving him crazy.  I can understand that.  I love my parents but I wouldn't want to live with them again.  I let him know that he could move in after Labor Day.  He was fine with that when he left my house that day.

A few hours later, he texted me, saying that his mom was wanting him to move sooner and could he move in before then.  I relented (my first mistake) and he moved in the last weekend of August.  I was gone for Labor Day weekend, that very next weekend, leaving him to take care of my cats.  They were fine when I got back so I told him that whatever compensation he gave me could be reduced by what I would have paid for someone to take care of them.  He was very happy for that.  He said he needed to pay his phone bill and this would really help.  In hindsight, I have to wonder why his phone bill was an issue considering that his expenses were quite small.  He has no car and, so, no car expenses.  He made $10/hr and worked approximately 30 hrs/wk.  With what he gave me in exchange for him staying in the spare room, he would still have plenty left over because I had agreed to accept a portion from each paycheck rather than one lump sum.

Anyhow, during the first few days of his stay, he presumed to borrow my brand new Amazon Echo and relocate it to his room.  I discovered this when I came home on the day that this happened.  I texted him and gave him shit for borrowing my stuff.  He apologized and said he'd put it back; which he did.  The next day, though, the same thing.  I gave him shit again.  In conversation, he explained that he thought that since we had talked about it, that that meant he could use it again.  I told him "Never assume, especially with me."

He borrowed the Alexa (this is the wake word for it and so it's what the device came to be know as) with permission numerous times after that.  It's really embarrassing when you realize, after all is said and done, that the early behavior was just grooming you for shit down the road.

As time went by, there was other stuff.  He'd use my toothpaste or shower gel and then deny it when I called him on it.  He'd use the Alexa and then "forget" to disconnect it from his phone.  I quickly learned how to do that.  He'd have guests over and they'd be listening to loud music late at night when I had class the next day.  He'd ask me for a ride to work when, during the first time we met, he said it was because my house was so close to work that he could walk.

After about three weeks here, I really started to notice just how many DIFFERENT people were coming over to visit him.  This wasn't like my friends who have a lot of different friends who come over, to their house, and shoot the shit for a few hours and talk about SCA stuff.  This was different men who would come over, stay for a few hours, bed-squeaking would ensue, and then they'd leave.  I brought up to him that I was uncomfortable with the number of different folks coming over.  He tried to minimize my concerns by saying "Oh, so now I can't have hookups?"  "Dude, I could give two shits if you have hookups.  It's the sheer number of DIFFERENT people that are coming to my house, possibly casing my shit, that has me uncomfortable."

Mind you, it was within the first two weeks of him living here, that he disclosed to me that he was HIV positive.  I immediately asked him if he told his partners.  He said "No, they're just hookups."  I was flabbergasted.  He told me, someone who has no intimate contact with him, but he won't tell his partners?  That's just crazy.  Now, I can imagine just how scary that must be but DAMN! Is a nut really that much more important than telling folks what's the what?  On more than one occasion, after that, I'd bring to his attention the concept of "informed consent".  That fell on deaf ears.

One text exchange (all spelling, grammar, and punctuation is straight from the conversation):

Him: "Don't discredit me because we live two different lifestyles.  Because I don't do you like that one but when I can I can"
Me: "I don't discredit you for your lifestyle. I lost respect for you when you told me that you don't tell ANY of your partners about being positive because they're "just hookups." They're people who deserve the right to make an INFORMED decision about who they fuck and your are disrespecting their humanity by deliberately NOT telling them.  And you've further lost respect because you go to work not sober. Tough shit if you don't like what I'm saying. It's how it is.  If you don't want that judgement, you have choices that you can make."
Him: "U don't kow what I do"
Me: "You TOLD me that you don't tell them and you just TOLD me that you've gone to work tipsy for the last month."
Him: "Sometimes they sometimes they don't I'm not telling a person that I just met that gave someone if we just hooking up and it's safe"
Me: "Again...removing, from them, the opportunity to make an INFORMED decision about consent.  What part of INFORMED do you not understand?"

At that point, he'd been here just over four weeks.  And, in that time, he'd had a different guest over every other day, on average; and sometimes more than one in the same day.  Now, don't get me wrong.  I can give two shits about how often a person has sex or how many different people that it's with but that mindset is all kinds of different when it's MY home: and MY belongings, MY cats, and MY house are at risk of getting injured or stolen because of someone else's behavior.  And, seriously, I don't need to justify my feelings 'cause it's MY shit.

During all this, I was also dealing with him not putting the toilet lid down, not closing the bathroom closet door, him not closing the kitchen cabinets, him not closing the windows when the air was on.

Let's also throw in the fact that, he just happened to find a gutted, dead squirrel wrapped in twine, hanging from the front doorknob when he got home from work.  And then, a few days later, he found a dead scorpion, wrapped in twine, hanging from the front doorknob when he got home from work.  And then some sort of Death card a day or so after that.  He was the one who found the critters but I was the one who threw them away.  He said he thought I had put them there, trying to get him to leave.  "Dude, if I wanted you to leave, I'd let you know," I said.  I did end up filing a police report about them, just to have something on record in case anything else happened.

Two weeks ago, on Sept 27th, I'd had enough.  By this time, he'd also broken my internet modem--thank goodness I had an extra--and used copious amounts laundry detergent and toilet paper.  Now, you might be thinking "Why is that a problem?"  Who uses a WHOLE roll of toilet paper in ONE day???  He'd also thrown up in the bathroom sink at some point and plugged it up; as well as left his colon cleanse tool in the shower.  I couldn't deal with this any longer.

I sat him down and had a conversation.  I can't recall all that was said clearly enough to retell it but, suffice to say, I let him know that he needed to move out.  He tried to convince me to let him stay but I wasn't having it.  Needless to say, things didn't get better.  A week ago, on the 2nd, I discovered that he'd smoked in his room.  He wasn't at the house at the time and so the door happened to be open rather than in the closed state that it is when he's in the room.  Because the door was open, the smell was able to waft out.  This wasn't the first time.  I was pissed.  I cleared the room of everything of mine that he'd been using: blankets, sheets, pillows, a candle (did I mention that he'd left one burning on more than one occasion when he wasn't at the house?).  I even removed the modem--only one phone jack is wired for my DSL and it's in the spare room.  At 3am, that night, I wake to someone pounding on the front door.  It's him.  Apparently, he lost his house key.  I was having a WTF moment.  I damn near fall over when he then says "That's okay.  I'll have my mom bring over the spare tomorrow."  "What spare???" I ask.  "Oh, I made a spare the first week I was here."  When I give him a look, he says "It's my mom" like that's going to make it better.

We were barely cordial in the morning.

A day or so after that, I received the Sewer & Water bill.  I about had a heart attack.

This is my normal QUARTERLY usage:
This was the bill for the most recent quarter, in which he'd been here since Aug 26th:
Subtract my average usage and, in ONE month, he'd used three times the amount that I use in NINE months and tripled my bill.

This person couldn't leave soon enough.  I can't imagine how much it would cost if he lived here any longer.

This past Monday--just two days ago--was the beginning of the end.  Since Friday, he hadn't gone to work.  I don't know if they cut his hours or just cut him but he was at the house all weekend, with various guests throughout.  Hell, on one day, I think he even prostituted himself for a ride to the grocery store because a man showed up, they left for a bit (I was hoping he was going to look for a place to move), but came back just a few minutes later.  His guest was here for about twenty minutes, with unmistakable bed-creaking, and then he left.  Anyhow, Monday morning I left for work at 10:30am.  The air conditioner hadn't been on all weekend and the temp inside showed 80*.

At 8pm, I returned home and saw that all the downstairs windows were closed--they'd been open all weekend--and that the windows in his room were partially open.  I parked the Jeep and proceeded in the front door.  Once inside, I caught a whif of something unmistakable.  The asshole was smoking in my house again.  I headed up the stairs and, at the landing, I saw the temp read 72*.  Holy shit!!  When I clicked the controller to "On" to see what it was set at, it showed 69*.  Are you freaking kidding me?

He poked his head out of the room, while also on the phone with the pizza place.  "What's that smell?" I asked.  "Oh, it's weed but we weren't smoking inside.  It's just 'loud', if you know what that means," he responded.  He's obviously high and drunk, as evidenced by his heavily lidded eyes.  Then he popped his head back in the room and closed the door.  I took care of some things and then knocked on the bedroom door.  "Hold on, I have to get dressed!"  Dude, you were just talking to me.  How undressed did you get in the space of five minutes?  Mind you, this is totally rhetorical.  I'm well aware of the fact that they were actually making the air clear so that he could open the damn door.  He comes out, closes the door, and gives me attitude.  Now, before he had opened the door, while he was still in the room, I could hear a part of the conversation between him and his guest, Jamie.  "What does she want?  Why is she doing this?"  "I know she's doing it on purpose."  Which irked me even further.  Anyhow, when he comes out, he suggests we take the conversation downstairs.  Whatever dude.

I lay into him.  What's frustrating to me, is that, in his high and drunk state, he couldn't seem to understand how I could make any sort of connection between his smoking and the windows being open with the air conditioner on.  He tried to tell me that the air was on for only a couple hours.  Dude, I'm not stupid.  It takes more than a couple hours to cool a 200 year old house from 80+* to 72*.  He continued to deny smoking in the house.  Whatever, dude, I know what I know.  He went back upstairs.  Came down when the pizza arrived then headed back upstairs.  A few minutes later, Jamie comes downstairs and heads out the front door with the pizza and his stuff.  Dominique follows soon after, with his backpack on his shoulder.  He paused at the door which caused me to look up from what I was reading.

"Can you do me a favor?" he begins.
I look at him.
"Can you not go in my room?"
"Why?  You afraid I'm gonna find some weed?" I ask.
"No, I just don't want you to go in the room."
"It's my house," I rebutt.
"Yeah, but I have 30 days."
Dude, don't challenge me.  There is no lease.  There is no contract.  I just looked at him.
As soon as he left, I texted a friend:
"If weed isn't lit, would I smell it from the first floor, when I walk in the house, if he has it in the room he's in?" I asked her.  She confirmed what I already believed: You don't smell unlit weed.

I called her and discussed the situation with her.  I called another friend and discussed it with her too.  They each said, pretty much, the same thing about everything.

I changed the deadbolt when I got off the phone.  I then put on gloves and put all his stuff in bags and took it out to the back end of the driveway.  The parking area is behind my house and accessible but I knew that the stuff wouldn't get stolen from back there.  It'd be a different story if I put it on my porch.  Ten trash bags, a tv, and a dresser and its five drawers later, my spare room was empty save for the bed.

At 3am, they returned.  They were pounding on the door with such force that I ended up calling the police.  I wasn't going to deal with them.  I was not going to deal with two drunk/high men at 3am.  No, I was not.  The police came shortly thereafter--thank goodness for living in a small town.  The officer was here long enough to watch them transfer the tv from the collection of stuff to the car and then leave.  Then he knocked on the door.  He explained that when they came back to get the stuff, they had been told to ensure they had a police escort with them.  There was more conversation but that was the important part.

Yesterday, they came to get the rest of the stuff.  He knocked on the door but, again, I wasn't having the conversation.  I ignored the knock.  There was no police escort.  I called the cops and explained the situation.  They sent an officer.  He was here a few minutes later and stayed until they left.  They took everything except some trash that they purposely left, scattered, on the driveway and the dresser and its drawers.

This morning, it rained.  Who knows if they'll come back to get the dresser.

In the meantime, I'm trying to get back to myself.  It's funny how you don't realize how stressful a situation is until it's over.  I feel like I'm recovering from trauma.  Mental trauma.  This person took advantage of me and my generosity in letting him stay here.  He brought upwards of 30 strangers into my home.  He ran up my utilities--oh, I checked the electric website...the usage for Monday was super heavy from noon to 8pm...a "couple hours" my ass!!  He broke things.  He borrowed things and then denied it.  He smoked in my house despite me asking him not to.  He is not a nice or ethical person.  I can't be around that kind of person.

I can only work towards making my home mine again.  The room he was in currently smells like weed and other people.  It doesn't smell like my home.  I washed the linens that were in there.  I've arranged for a house cleaner to come early next week.  And I chant to help learn whatever lesson that this was supposed to teach me.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Wednesdays at Forty-Something: A Glimpse Into My Buddhist "Human Revolution"

I shared this experience with my District this past Sunday and I'm inspired by the events so much that I wanted to share them here too.

In early June, I added “Visit different culture centers for Kosen Rufu Gongyo” to my prayer list.  I did it as a way to help myself further improve my consistency in doing gongyo since it’s not yet a daily occurrence.  I also saw it as a way to meet new people, learn new perspectives, and hear new experiences.  Mainly, it’s because I’m excited to share this faith with other people, to continue on the journey to create world peace (Kosen Rufu).  Let me pause a moment and share something that Barb Clark reminded me of when I shared the first draft of this with her.  In December 2014, I went home for Christmas.  At that time, she suggested I might look up other Soka Gakkai members in the local area.  I’m pretty sure I acknowledged the suggestion but just brushed it off.  And, now, here I am, three years later, with this determination towards Kosen Rufu that I’m able to see the transforming moments in my life.  None of them are huge, on their own, but I can clearly see a distinct shift in my path each time they occur.

At the beginning of summer, I took a trip to the Midwest.  During that trip, on July 3rd, I attended Kosen Rufu Gongyo in East Central Iowa.  I took my best friend’s daughter and her good friend with me.  I know the seed of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo was planted and their lives are changing incrementally and my determination towards Kosen Rufu increased.

In August, I flew to Albuquerque to visit a friend and to attend Kosen Rufu Gongyo there.  I met a number of wonderful people, three of whom I will see again when I attend the Veteran’s/Military Conference at the Florida Nature Culture Center in November.  I was also able to share about my faith even more deeply with the friend that I visited.  Shortly after my return, I learned that Middletown/Dover district would have four members attending the same conference.  I could feel my life expanding and changing when I realized how many more positive causes would be made when I introduce my Delaware Buddhist family to my Albuquerque Buddhist family.  What makes me most excited about attending the conference, besides being able to introduce all my family members to each other, is that I know we’re going to return from it with bolstered confidence that our Introductory meetings at Dover Air Force Base are going to touch that many more lives.

To end the summer of traveling, I went to Orlando, Florida to attend Kosen Rufu Gongyo over Labor Day weekend.  Everywhere that I stopped, shopped, and ate, I shared that I was in town to attend World Peace Prayer.  This often led to deeper conversations about Buddhism. 
At the end of August, I began the fall term at Wesley College.  I immediately sought out the faith leader at the school to discuss having a Buddhist Meet and Greet during the term.  She was (is) all for it.  On September 18th, there be a “tabling” event.  I’ll be handing out flyers and Nam Myoho Renge Kyo cards to those who might want to attend the Meet and Greet on Friday, September 22nd.  My determination is that this will springboard into Introductory Meetings at the college.

With these causes toward Kosen Rufu being made, I can see the expansion in other areas of my life.  I’m currently a Junior and have two years left to complete my Bachelor’s degree.  If you had asked me at the beginning of the spring term if I planned on pursuing a Master’s degree, I would have said no but that has changed.

I achieved Dean’s List at the completion of my spring term.  That accomplishment lead to me receiving an email from the Resource Center, asking if I would speak as a member of a student panel during Freshman orientation.  The informational meeting for the orientation led to me meeting the Resource Center Coordinator of Tutoring Programs.  I applied and was accepted as a Peer-Tutor, a paid position on the campus.  During my interview, which through no coincidence occurred on my third anniversary as a Soka Gakkai member, the Coordinator asked about my scholastic goals.  I mentioned how I was toying with the idea of staying at Wesley for Graduate School.  She then mentioned the possibility of me being a Graduate Assistant in the Resource Center, another compensated position: they pay for tuition while you attend.  After the interview, I mentioned the conversation to a friend and wondered aloud about overlapping classes for Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees.  That netted a response from my friend that there might be a hybrid program where you can finish one degree and start the other simultaneously.  I have an appointment to discuss that opportunity with my Advisor this coming Tuesday.

So, ask yourself: Are you on a path of continuous personal growth?  My answer is an emphatic YES!  Since having been appointed as a Group Leader in June, I determine that a consistent morning and evening gongyo is a way of life in order that I can find my best path and have the power of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo behind me as I contend with any challenges that come my way.  I will not be defeated!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Wednesdays at Forty-Something: I See A Whole Spectrum Of Color And None Are The Wrong One

To say that I'm not appalled, disgusted, amazed, disbelieving and a whole litany of similar emotions would be an understatement.

It's been in only the last few months that I've really seen the extent of the privilege that I live with.  As well as the extent of racism that very much exists in this nation.  And I draw some parallels between the racism directed towards POC and the sexual harassment and assault that I know to be very much present in the military.  It's not that either are increasing.  It's that our awareness of it has increased to such an extent that we--well, most of us--can no longer ignore that it exists.

As a woman who spent 20 years in the military, sexual bias, harassment, and (to a much lesser degree) assault was something that I fought and called out on a fairly regular basis.  I experienced it, in various forms--from subtle to obvious--on an almost daily basis.  I would venture to bet that most of my straight, male coworkers would be amazed at the many different manifestations in which it existed.  And that is where I draw a (very faint) parallel.

I, as a fair-skinned woman of European descent, would probably be amazed at the many different manifestations in which racism exist and are exhibited towards people of color.  Hell, I'm amazed at the manifestations that I *do* see.  And this is why, with what I've tried to educate myself about and get educated about, I have said that I will do what I can, when I can, to not be a bigot.  It's not easy.

Please, bear with me here.  Many behaviors and thought processes are ingrained from childhood.  It's the presence of both of my grandfathers who thought nothing about using terms like "nigger" and "spik" and "camel-jockey" on a regular basis.  It's the mostly white elementary school that I went to.  It's the childhood friends who all were white.  It wasn't, really, until I joined the military that I interacted with and worked with a larger percentage of people who truly looked different from me.

I can only hope that we can remove this cancer from our midst.  It's my hope that those, like me, who have an unearned privilege, use it to help those who don't.  Maybe I can't defeat the racists in the country but I sure as hell can beat down any mental training from my childhood that is racist in nature.  I can treat people as human and be wary of them only if they've truly done something worth being wary of.

To veer from general stuff to a more personal side...

One of the men I love is black.  I don't love him any less or any more because he's black.  My attraction to him isn't determined by the fact that he has darker skin than me but, really, I guess that isn't true.  I love him because of the person he is and his skin being darker has made him have to deal with stuff differently than I've had to so, maybe, I do love him because of his skin color.  It's a true statement considering that I love him for who he is and who he wants to be and who is working to be in the future.

The other aspect that makes this a little more personal or, at least, brings the point home regarding the level of crap that has to be dealt with by those who have darker skin than me is: children.  I have many friends who are people of color.  Many of them have children.  I cannot imagine...or I didn't realize how much more they worry about their kids solely because of skin tone.  I mean, every parent that I know, worries about their kids...getting hurt, getting bullied, all the stuff that remember going through as a kid.  BUT...there is that extra level of concern because their skin is "the wrong color" for many others in this country.  I can't imagine being afraid that a child won't come home simply because they were "walking while black" or "driving while black".  I didn't even know that was a thing.  I didn't know there was "the talk" that people of color have with their kids.  My neighbor is white.  Her husband is black.  Their two kids are a cafe au lait color.  The oldest is off to college, in a big city, in the next week or so.  I can't imagine the myriad emotions that she is going through: all the "regular" emotions plus the addition of being the mother of a "black" child.

Again, I see my unearned privilege and I will use it to work towards a more inclusive environment.  I can affect only my immediate surroundings but, maybe, my actions will influence others around me who share similar privilege.  I'll start small and go from there.  Even something as simple and trite as not using the term "nude" to describe a color of shoes because *my* nude isn't the same as everyone else's.

I will do my best to obliterate racism and racial bias in myself.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Wednesdays at Forty-Something: Who Is This Woman?

I don't recognize who I've become.  Transition is HARD.  It is so very hard.  I spent a the last four or five years of being in the Air Force focused on getting out, on retiring.  There was an endpoint.  There was a tangible milestone.

Now there isn't.  I've spent a good portion of the past 18 months, trying to find a new direction, a new focus.  I'm unsettled.  I'm scared.  I'm excited.  I'm anxious.  I'm sad.  I'm happy.  I have experienced every possible emotion and, I think, discovered some new ones.  I don't recognize this person.  I'm so very different from what I was while in the Air Force and I don't know what to do with this new personality.

The core is still the same--I'm still a loyal, generous, compassionate person; but it's the relationships that are new in my life--whether they're new to my life completely or experiencing a new facet--that are taking the most pummeling.  I feel like I'm about to lose two very important people in my life, all because I'm so uncertain in the skin I'm in.

I'm working on becoming more accustomed to this new self but it's so very difficult.  And I'm finding it extremely hard to get out of this fucking pity party that I've been in for the past six months.  I'm not a joy to be around.  I'm so stuck on the fact that my best friends don't live here, my blood family doesn't live here, my two loves don't live here; that I'm not appreciating all that I do have here.

Mary and Joseph!! I just don't know what to do with myself.  I sit in front of my gohonzon and chant to see my life better but I seem to be stuck.  The clarity just isn't coming.

I see friends getting married and I envy them their love.  I see friends succeeding in life and I wonder "How do I get there?"  I see families spending time with their parents and siblings and I rail at the things that make it so that I can't.  I'm missing seeing my baby niece grow up.  I never saw her brother or sister grow up either.  They're both grown.

I resent the things that keep friends and family from visiting me.  I can count on fewer than ten fingers how many different people have visited me (in the past decade) and I wonder "Why?"  (There's that pity-party again.)

I'm struggling to find things that I enjoy doing.  I got so accustomed to not doing too many things because they cost money and I've spent, literally, the past ten years paying off more than $40,000 in debt.  That debt is gone but it takes time to change the mindset to teaching myself to enjoy adventures and going to do more things again.

I'm trying.  So very hard.

Who am I?

I plan to find out.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Wednesdays at Forty-Something: Stressing Over Nothing

I took another road trip a few weeks ago and drove to Iowa and back, with a stop in Indiana during each leg, to and from.  Other than dealing with traffic, the stress factor was pretty light.  Even when the "check engine" light went on, I wasn't worried because the Jeep didn't smell funny, the temp gauge stayed below midway, and nothing else indicated imminent danger.  When I got home, I had it checked out--stuck thermostat--and repaired.  Even the cost didn't cause me any heart blips--I had the money saved up and was able to pay for it.

Did you know, though, that having nothing to do will cause you to stress?  I mean, for the next six weeks, I have, pretty much, no demands on my time.  I have nowhere that I *have* to be--yes, I'm scheduled every Sunday at the part-time but I *want* to be there.  I also have a few appointments here and there but I have no full-time demand on my time until school starts near the end of August.

I know many people would consider this heaven; but, really, it's not.  At least not right now.  Because I'm in-between terms, and still have four of those left, I'm not choosing to move just yet which means that I'm not truly able to pursue, fully, what I'd like to pursue.  I feel a bit unfocused.  It's not a fun feeling.  I don't really recommend it.  I actually have to think of reasons to get out of bed.  Not because I'm experiencing agoraphobia or anything but because, most days, I have nothing planned, nowhere to be, little to do.

So, my focus is: To find my focus for the next six weeks.

To the gohonzon, I go!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Wednesdays at Forty-Something: A Year In Transition

Last month brought about the close of a couple things: The first year in my forties and my first year out of retirement.  I've mentioned (and written) on more than one occasion about the stress that I encountered during the latter half of 2016.  Between adjusting to a new income and having a Jeep that decided to need all kinds of repairs, it was a time to help me appreciate the first half of 2017, where there's been much less stress caused my money (or the lack thereof).

Instead, my social life decided to give me the opportunity to experience no lack of emotions.  Between the fella in New Mexico and the guy in Florida, I feel like my heart and my mind have been brought back to life.  I've allowed myself to feel again and I haven't restrained the emotions that have come to me.  It hasn't always been easy and I've tested the patience of those whom I love but I'm thankful for the experiences.

I did have to take a step back from each of them and that's been a little difficult.  Yet, I consider it growth that I was able to realize that I needed to take such a step.  I was investing a serious amount of energy into maintaining the relationships that I have with them and it was, honestly, consuming so much of my time.  It wasn't any demand that they put on me.  There are things that I want from a relationship that they weren't able to give me, at the current time.  Maybe some time in the future but not right now.

So, instead, I refocus on me.  I've spent the last year reacting to the things that were happening in my life: retirement, the Jeep, school; and now I have the time--two months of summer break is awesome!--to take a look at where I want to direct my focus.  It helps that I'm also getting my Disability payments from the VA and I'm able to stress less about how I'm going to pay for things that come up in life.

On with life!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

My Thoughts To Him And About Him.

I can't stop thinking about him.  Maybe it's New Relationship Energy; maybe it's just seeing him as the man that he is; maybe it's both.  I see potential for us.  I see wanting to be with him often.  I see wanting to be part of his world and having him be part of mine.  I see a man who has been hurt and is unbelievably gun-shy.  That, in turn, makes me pause.  I want to reassure him that not everyone is as selfish as his last involvement appears to be; that not every woman is that emotionally immature; that I'm not every woman and especially that I'm not her.

Do I want him to change who he is?  Not at his core.  But I do need him to see that I, too, need some reassurance.  I want to be told that I'm missed.  I want to be told that I'm thought about.  I want to be told that I'm important.  I want to be told that the time in between visits seems to take forever but will go quickly.  Even if being told involves no words.

I see a man who has aspirations beyond his current situation and that inspires me.  I see a man who wants to want to plan for a future but is unable to due to shit that happened in the past.  Or maybe I'm  just hoping that he'll want to plan for a future at some point.  I want to be trusted.  I want him to see that I'm not out to get him.  I'm not out to do him wrong.  I'm not a wolf in sheep's clothing.

I want him to realize that the slow burn between us that has blossomed in the past month requires an adjustment on his part.  And mine.  I'm no longer in the background--a background that I didn't realize that I was in.  I'm trying to be in the foreground but sometimes I feel like "out of state, out of mind" because the communication that I get is a response to something I've sent rather than initiated on his end.  Daily, I tell myself to be patient; that I need to get used to him getting used to me being in the foreground.  And that I need to have patience to let each day roll into the next.

Maybe I need to just club him over the head and drag him back to my cave.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Tuesdays at Forty: Always Learning Something New About Myself

For the longest time, like, up until about 15 minutes ago, I believed that I was difficult to get to know.  You know what?  I'm not.  I'm very easy to get to know.  Some people may have to take a little more time to adjust to the me that is me but that's on them.  I have believed that I'm difficult to get to know for as long as I can remember and, really, I'm just not.

I'm loyal.  I'm tenderhearted.  I'm considerate.  Granted, I may not approach situations the way that some would but that doesn't make me "difficult".  That makes me "different"...from them.  I often speak my mind but not always.  My expressions do a lot of talking for me.  Because of this, I try to be mindful of what I'm thinking so as to not hurt the feelings of someone in case they interpret puzzlement as judgement.  Most of the time I'm thinking "I don't get it" and they might see "You're an idiot"; and, to be fair, that is sometimes what I'm actually thinking.  But, I'm honest.  I don't see the point in lying and, really, it's just easier to tell the truth.  It's so much easier to remember what is true than what is not.

I'm scared sometimes.  I have two very real fears.  1) That I'll die like my aunt and not be found for a my aunt; and 2) That I'll be forgotten, by those whom I hold dear.  Having a legacy, of sorts, is important to me.  I want to leave a positive mark on the world.  I want to remembered for the good that I've done, whatever it might be.  I can hope and work towards making a positive change in my own life in ways that others note positive things in their lives because of me.

I'm not afraid to love.  I'm not afraid to be hurt, emotionally.  Wounds heal.  I can say this with the luxury of having never been in an abusive relationship.  I hope I never encounter a situation, like that, that makes me afraid to love or to let others in.  And I take heart in knowing that I've never put anyone through an abusive relationship.  I hope.  I have manipulated in the past but I think that was due to being young and seeing that in relationships that were modeled for me.  I strive very earnestly, in my current relationships, to not employ manipulative tactics.  I ask for things out of genuine need and I do things out of genuine desire to do well and good for the people that I love.  And I hope, in time, the men that I love can love me back to the best of their ability.  I don't know if love matches love in relationships.  I know that it can wax and wane and is often in flux.  There's nothing wrong with that.  You have to make room for growth and learning.

I'm constantly looking at things in my life and asking: How can I do better?  It doesn't mean that I always take the steps needed to make them better but I am always looking at what can be done.  Sometimes, I'm overwhelmed at the things ahead of me and other times, I'm energized by them.  It really does run a path of hills and valleys.

As for my men.  I love my "sexy fella" and recognize the limitations in our relationship and I love my "Em Ess" and hope that we can move forward as we've been doing so far.  Having them in my life inspires me to pursue my authentic self and any and all the passions that I've been wanting to for years.  Much as my bestest friends have for years.

Excited for the tomorrows in my life.  And a little scared too.

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Tuesdays at Forty: Looking Forward Instead of Back

I've done so many posts about looking at where I've come from or what has shaped my behavior that I decided to look forward on this one.  I'm very excited to be closing in on the last month of my first full time term at college.  It was a challenge in many ways.  Not just financially but it has tested my ability to handle four classes at once and all the work that goes with those classes.  On many days, I've gotten a bit overwhelmed by the thought of all the stuff that I needed to do that I just retreated to my bed.  I wouldn't be surprised, if a few of my migraines may have been attributed to this stress.  Last June, I wrote about something similar occurring while I was in middle school in this post.

I found, though, that once I got started, the work wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  It was just that getting started part.  Many of us go through similar issues just getting to the gym--the hardest part is getting dressed.  Anyhow, I'm doing very well in three of my classes.  The fourth one, I'm getting a C--totally bombed the midterm BUT I negotiated three answers and brought my grade up enough points to be in the next letter grade for it.

The registration period for the fall term is in a couple weeks and that's going to be an anxious yet exciting time.  I've already picked a few courses that I'd like to take.  I have four decided upon and three alternates if the first four are already full.  Once registration is complete, I won't have to do much until the end of August.

I'm also trying to strengthen my relationships with folks that I meet through Team RWB and my SGI Buddhism groups.  These two groups are helping me to actually do the things that I mentioned above--tackling the work as it comes--just by getting me out of the house and getting some perspective on my various life situations and showing me how others are dealing with things in their lives.

I'm also feeling really optimistic about what my "love life" has in store for me.  I've written a number of posts about how things have been working in that department.  I love my fella and, thankfully, it's not that wacky mess of emotions that it was three, four months ago.  It's more like a warm glow--embers that are banked but not extinguished.

The other gentleman that I spent Spring Break with was more than expected, in a good way.  I say that because I really didn't anticipate having such a great connection.  To some extent, I'm quite grateful that nothing really developed between us during the first few years that we knew each other.  I don't think it would have been as easy or as comfortable to just be in each other's presence if anything had come about back then.  He's quite the chivalrous fellow and treated me awesomely.  He has his flaws which I won't really go into because I haven't encountered any deal breakers at this point.

I'm even thinking of spending my birthday down that way.  I can't think of a better way to spend it; unless it was like last year where my birthday lasted the whole month of May and I spent it with pretty much all my friends and family along the way.  If I could figure out a way to do both, that would be epic.  Maybe in a couple years, if I move down to Florida, I can get everyone to come my way.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Tuesdays at Forty: More Entrenched Habits

About eight months ago, I wrote about habits that began when I was a kid.  In that post, it had to do with comfort food--you know, those foods that we turn to when shit gets rough--and how I developed my love of the ones that are mine.  In the more recent past, I started thinking about other habits that I've developed as a way to deal with situations that arose.  We all do it.  We all develop a mindset or activity to protect ourselves from emotional harm or disappointment or something similar.

What I've been most thinking about is how I protect myself from being hurt by someone whom I love or am emotionally attached to.  I've looked at this facet of me a number of times over the years, just trying to suss out why things happen the way that they do.  In my wonderings, I came across this post from about 18 months ago in October 2015, where I talk about some of the men whom I've given my heart to.  It never panned out with the one that is mentioned at the end.  To be honest, I don't even remember who it was.  Anyhow, in the post, I talk about how distance led to the demise of the various relationships.  And it did BUT I think I often downplayed how much that did to me.  When the relationships ended because of distance, I internalized it as that I was just somehow not enough to keep that person.  

Now, there is a different mindset if the person is still in the military and really has no say over where they live or where they move to but it's the other folks who are no longer in the military or were never in it, that really cemented me thinking this way about myself.  Brian chose to end the relationship because he didn't want a long distance one.  We were together for two years and had even talked about a future together.  I don't regret that we're no longer together but I have to wonder if he ever looked beyond what HE wanted (or didn't want, in this case) to realize that he could have, feasibly, moved to be near me.  Hell, my best friend did it and she was only 19 and had a two year old.  George moved back home to California so that he could be near his kids.  This one I get but, at the same time, I can't help but think about how he could have stayed.  (Yes, I'm occasionally selfish.)

Damien is the one that really--now that I'm able to truly step back and look at it--did a royal number on me.  Because he lied.  He deceived me by not telling me--for EIGHT months--that he had met someone.  Again, I understand meeting someone and connecting with them--this is not a totally foreign concept to me--but to have not told me and I end up finding out when the woman calls me on my VOIP (computer phone line)...that takes the cake.  We had talked a future.  We had talked marriage.  We had talked about "us" as a unit and he threw it in the trash.

So, because of the marriage talk with Brian, that didn't happen, and the marriage talk with Damien, that *really* didn't happen, I decided that I didn't want to get married.  Ever.  I told myself this even more when I saw all the shitty marriages that my coworkers appeared to have.  And, when I say "shitty" I'm talking about those men who would talk shit about their wives to those of us in their work environment.  I'm not referring to anyone who didn't talk bad about their wives.  I didn't want *that* kind of husband--one who talked shit about me--so I didn't want marriage.

It's kind of like when I was a kid and my family couldn't afford brand name clothing so I'd tell everyone that I didn't even like or want brand name clothing.  It was self preservation.  The truth is: I have nothing against marriage.  I've seen some really good marriages.  I'd love to have a marriage like that at some point in my future.  It's just easier to not want it.  Then I won't be disappointed.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Tuesdays at Forty: Breathing a Little Easier

You don't realize how stressful life can be if there isn't enough money until you're really and truly experiencing it.  And, when you get a little bit extra and are able to breathe again, you realize just how much it was impacting your health, both mentally and physically.

My GIBill stipend (and book allowance) came the second week of February.  Until then, I was existing off just under $1700/mo.  October, November, and December it was a little more because of all the hours that I was putting in at my part-time but I was also spending 50% of *that* check on gas.

I know I've alluded to how difficult life on retirement pay is (and I sure as hell can't imagine how more than one person can live off that amount--my hat is off to you!) but let me give you the breakdown (yep, totally sharing my business but it's my business to share):

Pay (once a month): $1637

Mortgage: $845
Electric: $84 (budget billing)
Natural Gas: $70 (also budget billing)
Water/trash: $40 (they bill quarterly but I pay monthly to make it easier)
Auto Ins: $56.15
Life Ins: $15
Internet: $56.99
Flooring: $26 (installed in October)

Out of the remainder (about $400), I had to pay for gas, groceries, two credit card bills (spent more than $9k on Jeep repair bills last year), and miscellaneous. 

So, you can see why getting through each month was often nail-biting.  

I received my January housing stipend mid-February because I was "new to the system" and they needed to actually input me into it and February's came on time, a few days ago.  Just having that little bit extra is awesome.

As for my love life, it's doing pretty well.  I still talk to my fella daily via text.  It's been more than a month since my visit but I'm feeling less anxious than I was the first month that he was gone.  I think we're just kind of used to this new normal now.  I've also reached a point where I'm not overwhelmed with emotions.  I *choose* to love him.  

I'm also looking forward to seeing how well me and another fella mesh.  We had great rapport years ago--when we would bug the shit out of each other--and I'm hoping it's better than then.  He's a sexy, smart, funny man that I wouldn't mind being involved with, albeit long distance (as well :( ).

There are a couple others whom I've befriended.  Just trying to see how things work out.  I don't just hop in the sack with just anyone these days.  (My 20s were a whole different story but that was 20 years ago.)  

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Tuesdays at Forty: Eight Months Into Military Retirement

...And I'm still adjusting.

This month feels like it's going to be one of just kind of treading water--not drowning but not making any big headway as far as paying for the big bills.  I received a gift last month that enabled me to go visit my fella and I think that visit did us both some good.  I *do* wish I was still there, if only so that he had someone he could decompress with after work, but we're making do.

And, just a day or so ago, I decided to go ahead and take advantage of some cheap airline rates and I'm heading to Florida for Spring Break.  Never gone on a Spring Break vacation before so I anticipate some good fun.  I plan to visit one friend whom I haven't seen in many years.  We worked together, here at Dover, and gave each other a lot of shit back then.  We've given each other less shit, nowadays, but I think that was because we kind of lost contact.  That situation was remedied a few weeks ago and I'm hoping that our friendship becomes one of those that deepens in time.  Good friends are hard to find.

After I visit him, I'll be heading over to the other side of the state to visit another friend (and his family).  His place was a stayover during my trip through the south last spring.  We've been friends for more than a decade now.  I count him as one of my closest male friends.  He's married but I keep telling him "If you were in an open marriage and poly..."  lol.

More fun in my life: Physical Therapy.  Last fall, it was for my shoulder.  This time, it's for my IT Band across my left hip.  It hurts after I run which then makes it difficult to run again and I enjoy running--aside from that pain--so I need to get it fixed.

And, finally, the "best" fun in my life: Waiting for the VA to get through with my disability shit.  I called them yesterday, three weeks after they got the last little detail that they needed from me, to see about my claim.  Estimated time for claim completion: December 29, 2017.  It's February 2nd today.  Now, I realize that others have been waiting eons for their claims to get processed and I'm not minimizing their shit.  It's unacceptable all around!!  For anyone to have to wait a freaking year is ridonkulous.  I can understand a month or two; maybe three but almost a year.  Stupid!!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Tuesdays at Forty: It's Not As Easy As It Sounds

I wrote a post nearly two weeks ago about being "poly" in nature and I don't want folks to think that it's as easy as it sounds.  Being able to love more than one person at a time doesn't mean that my heart isn't aching for the one whom I can't see right now.  Granted, I have plans to see him next weekend but subsequent visits are unplanned at this point because we both know that life has a tendency to get in the way.

But, right now, I miss him so much that it hurts.  For the past month (Friday was 30 days and YES, I'm counting), I've hated not knowing that our paths will cross at the gym or that I'll see him for dinner on our "usual" dinner night or for breakfast one day on the weekend.  I miss seeing his smile in person.  I miss him giving me crap when I say something silly.  I miss so many little things.  I don't tell him half the shit I'm thinking because I don't want to overwhelm him with my emotions.

And, holy shit, emotions!!!  When you just have a crush on someone, it's so much easier.  When you're not in love with someone, it's so much easier. You can keep all those emotions all bottled up and never worry that you'll say too much.  But, when you've got this new thing going on--some circles call it, very aptly: New Relationship Energy (NRE)--then your emotions are all over the place.

"What's he doing?"
"Where's he going today?"
"How does he feel?"
"Will we see each other today?"
"Damn! He looks good!"
"Aw, he brought me my favorite beverage."

Falling in love with him was super easy but navigating the whole spectrum of emotions is not for the faint of heart.  I had forgotten how all over the place you can be.  And I do my best to not blow up his phone with "thinking of you messages".  I'm succeeding at that...most of the time.  lol.  I'm also doing my best to take things one step at a time.  In the past, it just hasn't worked out for me and I think I'm in this big hurry to get to a point of knowing whether things are going to work out for us or not instead of just enjoying the journey.  Though, the journey sometimes feels like a big waiting game when I don't have a busy day and he does and so I don't hear from him very often.

I also, unfairly, test him; in more ways than I realize and I'm embarrassed that I do so.  I know that I can't keep doing it; that it really will bite me in the ass and he will call it quits just so he doesn't have to deal with my untrained heart any more.  I want him to make plans for when he'll come see me and, really, neither one of us knows what we'll be doing in four, five, six months which is the soonest that that would happen.

And I get so angry about it.  Angry at circumstances.  Angry at him.  Angry at his job that made him move.  Angry at the unfairness of it all.  Angry that he won't make any plans.  Angry that he won't do whatever it is, at that moment, that I wish he would do.

But, then, I get not angry and see the true flipside of things.  He had no control over leaving.  He HAD to go.  Him not being in my town actually makes it easier for me to focus on school work and taking the other classes that I'm taking: ballet and Tai Chi.  He works really long hours and then does stuff on the weekends so our time together was really limited but I can see me getting frustrated with that as time goes by.  And that part wouldn't change for a couple years.

I'm guess I'm also angry at the fact that he showed me what nice guys really are like (even when they have that balance of having various flaws to balance out the niceness: sarcasm, tunnel vision to the point of exclusion when focused on something, etc) and then "took it away" so to speak.  And, I gotta be honest, the nekid games were out of this world.  It's been a long time since my world was rocked so well and so thoroughly.  And now I don't have that either.

I think I may have to loosen the grip that I think I have on the situation.  I don't know how but I have to do something.  I don't want to lose him.

I just want to make it with him.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Tuesdays at Forty: Growth and Learning All Around (The College Aspect)

Last week, I started school...again...full time.  For me, this is huge.  I've been taking college classes since just after I graduated high school.  Graduated HS in June 1994, started classes in August 1994.  I think I was full time then, too, because I remember taking three or four at that time.  The regular stuff that college freshmen take: Math, English, etc.  I remember also taking the very difficult class of "Weight Lifting".  It had replaced Accounting because that shit was hard!  lol.

I took more college classes during my 20 years in the Air Force but rarely more than one at a time and almost never more than two a year.  The plus side to that: I don't need to take but one or two of those lower level courses now.  The downside: I still have to take one or two of those lower level courses now.

So...what have I noticed that might be different or the same about my classmates then and now.  Well, the biggest is that THEN we were the same age.  NOW, not so much.  90% of them are young enough to be my offspring.  But, I think this is a good thing.  They can share what they know that I don't which is much since it's a whole different world from when I was in my late teens and early 20s.  I can share my oodles of life experience with them.

I went in search of some headline topics from the 90s and here's what I found (in no particular order):
  • Tonya Harding had Nancy Kerrigan clubbed in the knee (ice skating competition was FIERCE back then)
  • The OJ Simpson trial
  • Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky ("I did NOT have sexual relations with that woman" or something like that)

2016, alone, was all kinds of topsy turvy and I don't know that there can be any sort of comparison; mainly because we're in a different mindset and have different perspectives on things than we would have almost a generation ago.

Anyhow, the differences are many but you know what we have in common: BOOKS! 

For the love of all that runs this universe, college books are getting bigger.  I swear!  I'm taking only four classes.  One requires a workbook so, for that class, I have two books.

My stack:

The spiral bound is for a computer class and the black book holds all my notepads.

The other difference between me and my classmates: I don't think they share my enthusiasm for the freedom of being able to attend class; to learn these new topics; to take in this knowledge that I know is relevant, even if only in part.

I'm excited for this adventure.

And, what's even more exciting, being able to wear anything and everything in my wardrobe without having to conform to uniform/dress code rules.  I imagine the school has a general dress code but I don't imagine that anything in MY wardrobe would be against it.  lol.  

Finally, it wouldn't have been a "Back to School" without "Back to School Pictures" so here you go:

I must go now.  I have homework.  😄
Read the other Growth and Learning Aspect post here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Tuesdays at Forty: Growth and Learning All Around (The Poly Aspect)

It's been only a couple of months since I fell in love again, for the first time in years; and almost a month since that love moved out of state.  We're separated, geographically, but ours "feels" for each other are the same.  We didn't end the relationship and we're taking it as it comes, letting it go where it will like a newly forming river.  What makes this easier, for me, is that while I miss him like crazy, he's not the only person in my life or, at least, he doesn't have to be.  I've found that the polyamorous lifestyle works for me.  I can date.  I can get involved with someone else.  And it doesn't take away from my love for him.  To not have the obligation to deny baser needs of affection and touch while someone I love is so far away is such a relief.

I know that this kind of dynamic isn't for everyone.  Our society is based upon one man and one woman finding each other and being with each other forever.  Society is changing but the assumption of only two people being in a relationship is still very much there.  More recently, it's accepted for those two people to have similar equipment.  But the thought of having relationships outside of that is "odd" or "weird" or "whatever."

I do have say this: When I say "polyamorous", I'm not meaning "poly'eff'ory" in which folks are sleeping around all willy nilly.  That might play a part in it.  Someone who is poly might have an "Eff Buddy" but so might someone who is monogamous in nature.  A poly person might also have a "Friend w/Benefits" in which friends, who hang out, might also be intimately involved.  Again, this isn't just poly folks.  Mono folks do this too.

To be poly, is so much more, and can require more skills to do.  I say "skills" because time management is KEY to ensuring all parties see each other as their needs require and communication is employed to the nth degree.  I wouldn't have seen my fella as often as I did, before he moved, had we both not used these concepts extensively.  You also need to have a level of self-awareness to be able to evaluate if something is or isn't working for you.  As much as a lot of "regular" relationships run off of assumption, you just can't do that in a poly dynamic.  I can't expect my fella to know my time needs or limits without me being aware of them myself.  On the flip side, those needs and limits require a measure of respect because they are part of the framework of the relationship.

So, moving on to those needs...

I realized very shortly after he moved that I didn't want to go back to the scenario that was my life before he and I started dating.  I didn't want to not go out on dates just because the one that I'm involved with isn't in my town any more.  Someone in a monogamous relationship would have a couple choices: break up with them so that they could date again, cheat and hope they never find out, or not date at all.  I like the choices that I have which are those already stated PLUS: love them him from afar and see him when I can AND date someone else.  I'll take option D any day of the week.  You know what this does?  It takes the term "cheating" out of the equation.  In a healthy poly relationship, there is no cheating.  And why should you have to choose between whom you love and whom you might grow to love?  Do BOTH!!

Now, I'm not saying that this is easy.  There are a lot of societal norms that we are conditioned to do or not do and it takes time to learn or unlearn them.  And that's where I'm at.

The (un)learning continues...
got this from facebook

Read the other Growth and Learning Aspect here.