18 months and a lifetime later

Tomorrow marks 18 months since I’ve been in Harrisonburg. Wild how time flies.

A friend is going through a break-up that is very different from the end of my marriage, but is similar in some ways (I’m beginning to think that perhaps the ends of most relationships have many things in common, no matter the circumstances, but that is commentary for another day…). Watching that relationship end from the sidelines is bringing up a lot of, what I at least thought, were old emotions that I had processed and moved on from but that are apparently still much closer to the surface than I realized.

I guess that makes sense. When my husband left (he left first, then I moved) I had the presence of mind to know that I was going to respond to his desertion in one of two ways: I was either going to kill myself or I was going to white knuckle my way through to the other side. There would be no chance at any middle ground. I would either survive or I wouldn’t, and for a reason still unknown to me I chose to live, though there were many nights when the alternative was very very appealing.

I got through it by refusing to look at the past or plan for the future. I concentrated on simply getting through the infinity of present moments in each moment and didn’t let myself stop to reflect on how I had gotten to where I was, or where I wanted to go from here. I just couldn’t. I took everything I had just to get out of bed, shower, and show up each day to do anything else. Now that I’m slowly letting myself be a little more introspective up are popping difficult emotions that I would much rather ignore and pretend don’t exist. I’d really like to run away.

But I’m not going to. I have an amazing job. I have the opportunity of a lifetime to teach my own course at JMU next fall, and perhaps next spring. I live with the most high quality woman I know. I have a contingent of friends who come to my aid when the Swede gets grumpy. I need to stay put.

So. Time to get rid of the key to the house on Galen Hedrick Road. With lots of tears I took it off my key chain last night. At the time I didn’t realize that the last time I was at the house was going to be the last time I was there, so I still had the key. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it – right now it is sitting on my desk as a painful reminder, more of what was, though, and less of what could have been.

And to all the women out there who are facing the reality of starting all over again, without a partner, I don’t really know what to say other than if you hold on long enough there is life on the other side.


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When the simplist explanation isn’t (or, Occam vs. Hickman)

After 12 years and 250,000 miles of starting each and every time I put my key in the ignition, Raggedy Ann II failed to start this week, two morning in a row. In other words, assuming I start my car twice every day, this means that after 8,760 successful and drama-free ignitions, there were two failures in a row.

And apparently I’m supposed to accept the idea that each event was independent of the other. William of Ockam and Karl Popper are turning over in their graves.

Ignition Failure 1: easily and accurately diagnosed as dead battery. Probably at least a kilo of PbSO4 all over the positive terminal. Pretty? Yes. Conducive to appropriate functioning? Notsomuch. I got a nice lesson in Volvo battery replacement from a Viking’s Fan and his three-year old hammer-wielding helper, who also enthusiastically attempted to dig up the huge tree in front of Shocking Aqua. (The tree is still standing, minus some bark.)

Problem solved, right? Well. Only kinda.

Next day, Ignition Failure 2: after extensive and complicated diagnostic testing (that consisted of sitting in the driver’s seat and trying to start the car), my Good friend established that Raggedy Ann II’s engine was flooded. He got her started, just barely, and then blew out the accumulated carbon build-up via an Italian tune-up. (He provides this service free of charge. I strongly recommend taking him up on it. Fun enough that I want to do it again. Soon!)

What does this teach us? Well, in addition to the fact that it takes a multicultural contingent to keep my grumpy Swede on the road, it also suggests that, at least occasionally, Hickman was right: the patient can have as many diseases as she damn well pleases.

The difficulty I’m having accepting this idea is reflective of how much I struggle with the multiple dependant variables of life in general. I’m glad that my favorite member of ΦBK will be back in Harrisonburg soon so that we can discuss the philosophical implications of falsifying Occam’s Razor.

Or perhaps I could just have a Stella and try to accept that modern automobiles are complicated machines. Nah. I’d rather over analyze it and revel in the associated angst.

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Wave Alchemy 10 (or, an orgasm for my feet)

Today’s present to myself:

Because I’m afraid that some of the males in my life might be about to out-run me. And it’s much more fun when the boys can’t keep up 😉

Besides, if I’m going to spend that much money on myself it is MUCH more practical to do so on an entire pair of running shoes I’ll use almost every day, rather than to buy half of this dress from BR…

I mean, if  I don’t have an event to wear the whole thing to, I’ll probably never find an event appropriate to wear half of it. And which half would I choose?…. The Mizunos were definitely the more practical choice. Hands down.

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December 25th

The day started of in blessed silence. I say that not because I attribute any religious significance to the day (I don’t) but because I didn’t have to set my alarm clock. I worked until 3pm on the 24th and then spent the rest of the afternoon running around town frantically trying to find a store that not  only sold snow shovels but that was still open to sell me one – believe me, that was a much more involved undertaking than I thought possible. After that I met my Commanding Officer and her adorable boyfriend at Downtown Wine and Gourmet for a wine tasting. We went from there to the Dodger and enjoyed hot apple cider and bourbon. I was home and in bed before 10pm and before I fell asleep  realized I DID NOT HAVE TO SET MY ALARM CLOCK. That was a somewhat unsettling realization because I honestly couldn’t remember the last time I hadn’t been woken by an alarm.

Even sans alarm I was up and functioning by 8:15 the morning of December 25th. I’m cat sitting for my Good Friend, so I decided to enjoy the lack of any commitments for the day and walked to his house. I stepped outside and was greeted by a fresh half-inch or so of snow. The walk was quiet and gave me time to reflect on Christmas in the United States – thoughts I may or may not share on this blog at a later date, if I’m ever brave enough.

I got home and tackled the kitchen. My kitchen had been a disaster for so long it was becoming a source of massive anxiety, but I’ve been too busy to give it any time or attention. I tore all the appliances off the counters and washed them and the counters, scrubbed the dish drainer and mat, sorted the recycling (previously I couldn’t even sit at the kitchen table without cardboard recycling jabbing me in the back!), dealt with the compost, cleaned off the top of the refrigerator, and basically just made the kitchen a place I can enter without immediately wanting to run screaming from the clutter. It felt great to be so productive and if I hadn’t been forced to take a break on December 25th because everyone else in American was, I’m not sure when I would have gotten around to it.

The afternoon I spent warm and cozy in bed reading and napping which felt simultaneously radically indulgent and blissfully peaceful.

In an attempt to not be totally socially isolative, I went out to  the Dodger around 6 and stayed until sometime after midnight. It was a replay of warm apple cider and bourbon (which, by the way, looks much prettier in a red mug than black mug). Some of the details of hazy, thanks to the warm apple cider and bourbon, but I do remember it being one of  the most enjoyable nights I’ve had in a long time. Good conversation that was at times totally hilarious and irreverent and at others serious and thought provoking. The night concluded with some amature applications of evolutionary psychology: people watching at a bar is always entertaining and was made even more so by a drinking companion who is particularly observant and astute.

The point of my review of December 25th? I get to decide the significance I give any day or event. Just because  the majority of Americans do something does not, in any way shape or form, mean that I have to do it as well. My friends aren’t going to press me to do something that makes me uncomfortable and some of them will even join me in doing my own thing.

Now, for New Years… what really appeals to me is a bottle of wine, a bath, and reading my amazing new book, “Networks of the Brain” by Sporns. That may sound totally lame to some (I actually know it does), but the alternative – a traditional New Year’s Eve party with lots of people and social interaction – kinda freaks me out. Doing my own thing for December 25th worked so well and felt so good for me that I’m going to do it again next week, no matter how much people might want me to do something else. Perhaps I am coming into my own.

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What the semester taught me (about myself)

In no particular order…

1. I’m not always wrong.

2. I put up with way too much crap from way too many people.

3. Ensure Plus works for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a pinch.

4. I really really really really miss having a bathtub.

5. It doesn’t have to take me 2 hours in the morning to get ready to go if it doesn’t have to.

6. I have amazing friends who love and support me.

7. I have something to say, an important story to tell, and for some reason people want to hear it.

8. I’m potentially not as social awkward as I think I am.

9. Not everything has to be, or will be, perfect all the time.

10. I drink too much coffee and not enough alcohol.

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The semester, that is.

And what a semester it was.

Quick recap of some of the more significant events: moved into the Tiny White House with Shocking Aquamarine Trim;  I tackled neuro and cancer genetics; Raggedy Ann II melted in Charlottesville; flames shot out of the furnace at Shocking Aqua; I had a birthday; interpersonal relationships (of all shapes and shades) changed; I became (somewhat) less wackadoo about  food; I became JMU’s newest instructor (beginning Fall 2011); and I got an amazing new job.

This was the most successful semester I have ever had. Ever. Not just because I proved that I’m capable of doing graduate level work well, but because I did so while (for the most part) keeping the rest of my life together. I’m at an acceptable weight and I’m maintaining it without using ED behaviors. I became financially self-supporting. I met new people, made new friends, maintained strong friendships, and let go of relationships that weren’t healthy.

Many things happened over the last 16 weeks that I didn’t handle with the grace and finesse I would have liked. Most of those these things had to do with my relationships with others, and given my general unease with people this didn’t really surprise me. I’m certainly not saying that the semester was nothing but successful, but it certainly was the best I’ve ever had. And it felt pretty darn good.

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Weapons of science

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