Silently vacating

I don’t write here much.  I don’t know why.  I/we started this blog to write when the mood struck me/us.  Yes, I know, are we one or more minds cavorting in the ethers?

The mood has not struck much lately.  My mind has been on vacation.  Unfortunately, it did not find rest and relaxation, in the true sense of vacation.  My mind’s vacation has been more of an imprisonment, with occasional bouts of Tourette’s-like verbal tics, not anything one would want to share.  Certainly, not this one.  So, today, I went for a walk to have a serious talk with myself.

The walk was nice.  The talk, not so nice.  I was outright belligerent with me.  I was beside myself, so I took the easy way out.  I stopped listening.  I kept talking, though, and eventually made peace with the silence I was exhibiting toward myself.  Huh?  Yep, this could be part of the reason I haven’t written here much.  That internal dialogue between me and myself is tiresome, and not ordinarily entertaining. 

Maybe I need more friends, you know, those people who call and ask if you want to go get coffee.  I only have one friend living nearby (in my house, actually, and we’re married), who asks me if I want to go get coffee.  I’m grateful.  That’s one more nearby friend than some people have, right?  We’re good friends, too, the kind that really listen most of the time.  Sometimes I have to work really hard at listening, because I’m talking to myself and it’s hard to carry on two conversations at the same time.

My other coffee-getting friends live far away now.  Some, very far away.  Airfares and out-of-body experiences are the only ways for us to go get coffee together.  Sad.  One’s expensive, and the other is…expensive.

While I was out there with my mind on vacation, I discovered a new obsession: trying to see small print without glasses.  It hasn’t been that long since seeing small print became a problem, so I still think I can wing it.  I’ve got news for you.  Once your eyes hit that magic age-related disintegration that blurs 12 point Times New Roman, it’s time to see an eye doctor.  People tell me you can get really good reading glasses for under 25 bucks at Costco, but do I go check it out?  NO.  That would mean I’m admitting that I can’t read the newspaper without holding it out at arms’ length.  God, I feel like my grandfather.  He wore glasses, but I can only remember seeing them on the table next to his chair.  I think I have a picture of him wearing his glasses.  Somewhere.  Doubtful I can find it, if it requires reading the label on a box in my closet.

Coffee and an eye appointment, there’s a thought.  Maybe I can get my friend who lives in my house and is married to me, to go with me.  Sounds like a really good time, huh.  We do have good conversations, all three of us.  Maybe we would have one of those conversations that brings my mind back from vacation, and I can get back to work.  Maybe the talk I gave myself today will sink in, and I can get back to work.  Maybe if I see small print better by wearing glasses, I can get back to work.  Maybe then, I can stop repeating myself.

Maybe then, I can write here more often.  It’s an exercise in brain connectivity.  I’ve been on vacation long enough.  Maybe.


Minding the Store

…or in tonight’s scenario, Minding the Paycheck. 

My paycheck is, at the moment, the store.  Not the bricks-and-mortar store known to many in business, because I don’t own the store, the business.  I’m talking about the store of my family’s refrigerator and kitchen cabinets, the roof over our heads, the bills we pay monthly, and our ability to drive vehicles that require ridiculous sums of money to maintain. 

I paid $3.39/gallon to fill my car’s gas tank two days ago, and given my distance from home to work, that tank will last about 4.5 days, with an occasional trip to the grocery store.  My husband’s commute is even longer.  We have economy cars, but the limitations still present themselves every time we pull up to the gas pumps.  Driving our vehicles is only one thing that allows us to get to our jobs, and preserve our paychecks.

Another thing that allows me (in particular) to preserve my paycheck, is my ability to control what comes out of my mouth.  My innermost thoughts should remain closely guarded by my attentiveness to my surroundings.  This is pretty good advice for anyone holding a job.  But, it is essential, when functioning under an extreme amount of stress.  I am operating under extreme stress at the moment.  You can’t imagine, and I can’t share today…and for so many reasons that have nothing to do with my job, and plenty that do. 

My job, however, has become something on which I can depend (to the degree that anyone can, given the current U.S. economic picture).  I liken my job to a vacation at times, because I can escape into the strategies, the tasks, the people – and all else hides at the back of my mind for a while.  I love what I do for a living.  I do not love working within certain contexts of my company.  (Who does?)  All in all, though, I’m fairly content with my position and my alliances with coworkers, subordinates, and superordinates.  Not all of those people to whom I report are respectful of my personal challenges.  Quite the opposite.  

While I don’t understand it, there are people working in high places, who seem to enjoy not only observing subordinates dealing with personal tragedies, but banking on making them appear incompetent.  While I can’t imagine living with my personal tragedy (though I do it daily), I can’t imagine living their lives either.  That they should find something invigorating in not only watching us work through our pain, but that they add to it whenever convenient is…beyond me.

I used to be the proud owner of a very thick force field, one that kept the outside out, and the inside in.  Since experiencing a life-changing event some months ago, my armor is thin and permeable.  I work hard at offering my lifetime of professional experience to coworkers, friends, and family.  Many who have experienced losses similar to mine, retreat to bed, never to recover to their former strength. 

Today, I wobbled.  I let my guard down.  That thin, permeable armor I was working so hard to protect, dropped to the carpet of the office with barely a sound.  What I was thinking came out of my mouth as though someone would care.  Someone cared alright, just not in the way I had hoped in that nanosecond before the words left my lips.  That someone cared enough to avoid all contact with me in the aftermath.  He cared enough to avoid responding to me verbally, or by eye contact.  He cared enough to make it known to others, that I had just been shunned

What I said out loud for all to hear, was the truth, as told to me by peers and subordinates alike.  The effect was astounding.  If I make it past tomorrow with my paycheck intact, I will be amazed. 

I’ll keep you posted.  I can, because you don’t support my family, nor sign my paycheck. 

Word to the wise: coworkers are not friends, they are coworkers, and just as dependent on their paychecks as you are on yours.   

Mind Your Manners

…or they will most certainly mind you.  If you’re not sure which set of manners pertain to the company in which you find yourself, ask someone who’s been there before.  Who are these people?  And, how should I conduct myself in their company?

This seems silly and unnecessary to lots of us who have lived lives of privilege.  But, it’s not.  We don’t always know our audience, and it would serve us well, to find out something about them, before encountering them in social, business, or legal engagements.  Blah, blah, blah, right?

If you don’t believe me/us, here at mindmix, just try this:  Act like you in a courtroom full of people who know nothing about you.  Say the things you would say at home, say the things you would say to a close friend…aloud, in front of a judge in your jurisdiction.  Then, watch how fast you are dismissed for the fact that your dog ate your homework. 

It has been a long time since I’ve spent any time in a courtroom, but I rehearse it often.  Why?  Because I’m contemplating taking up a legal cause that could put me there.  As I talk with family about the possible outcomes, and the revelations that are unlikely to actually reveal themselves, I think about all the contortions we would have to learn, or relearn, in order to create a fruitful outcome.  On so many fronts, the outcome is unlikely to serve the injustice we seek to reverse.  So, I rehearse. 

Since I’m adaptable at the level of the finest stage actor, I feel certain I could survive the ordeal.  I’m just not sure it would serve the greater good of our cause.  I’m looking elsewhere, for the moment.  I’m looking inward.  I’m looking to what we hope to gain, whether we exhibit our manners or not.  And, I’m finding we have options.  I like having options.  It allows us to control our next steps, manners or not.

Thanks, Mama and Daddy, for teaching me manners, and knowing my audience.  You were great teachers, and when circumstances permitted, you conducted yourselves with integrity and…manners. 

Making Up My Mind

I’m trying to, really, I am. 

I’ve looked up my First Amendment rights (U.S. Constitution, for those of you outside the U.S. of A.), and find that there is room for that wonderful thing in law called “interpretation”.  While I’m happy to entertain my weekend plans as being within the contexts of my rights as a U.S. citizen, I also have some trepidation about going to jail.  Even if it’s our our local, paultry, podunk, small-town jail that is housed within the business offices of our do-nothing police department.

I’m on a mission, though, and missions can sometimes have lives of their own.  So maybe, only the mission would go to jail, and I would be mercifully protected by being a person.  Somehow, though, my person is becoming a mission.  I know I write in riddles here on Mindmix, and there are reasons.  You’re smart, I’m sure you’ve figured that out, given tonight’s topic.

Here’s the thing.  My mission is so personal, and I have very few outlets for speaking my mind.  So, I use this blog as a “mind dump” in order to clear my head for sleep.  We all do this in different ways.  This is mine.

I prefer to stay staunchly apolitical.  I’m not an activist regarding the government-at-large.  I do, however, take wrongs against my person and my family, sérieusement. 

Thus, my plans for the weekend.  A simple sign, a chair, and a location of great importance to me…and my memories.  Memories of loved ones, of times of great happiness, and their loss.

I’ll let you know how it turns out…when I make up my mind. 

Mindful Regression

Some memories take us back in time to thoughts of loved ones, fun times, the good ol’ days, the bad ol’ days, successes, and near misses.  They can bring up all sorts of dormant emotions, and we may or may not want to revisit them.  Normally, we have a choice about making that trip down memory lane, and other times, the memory slams into us so hard, that choice doesn’t enter the picture.

This happened to me yesterday.  I was in a fairly decent frame of mind to start my day.  Then, SLAM.  I read an article before leaving for work that took me to a place of great sadness in my life, a place that will always be a part of me, but not all of me.  I couldn’t shake off the sadness, though.  It was like it crawled inside my mind, and infected all the work I regularly do to stay clear of getting stuck in that time.  So disappointing, to know that no matter how hard I worked at pulling it together all day, the memories surrounding that time will always be there, and it takes so little to throw me into regression. 

By the evening, I was a mess.  By the late night hours, many of them spent doing research on the subject, and writing emails, I had slowed down some of the agitation and anger.  Not much, but enough to go to sleep. 

This morning, there it was again.  I took the day off work, something I rarely do, even for fun.  I figured if I wasn’t able to process my thoughts clearly, I would be of little help to others at work.  It was a good choice, and soon I realized I could make more choices about how to spend my day, that would feel like I was being actively mindful of that very sad part of my life, and could do something to throw the information I had read in the article, back at the world.  I picked an activity that had relevance, went out into the world, talked to friends who got it, and came home relieved.  The coffee wasn’t a bad idea either. 

I had to choose finding a way back to me, the me I am today.  I did.  I’m back. 

Mix Ups

I mix up my words a lot.  I don’t have visual dyslexia, so maybe I have verbal dyslexia.  I also think I have telephone-dialing dyslexia. 

I’m not patient enough to create an address book in the three phones I use on a daily basis (home phone, cell phone, work phone).  I still (amazingly) know some phone numbers by heart – not many, mind you.  Email and phone address books are limiting our ability to exercise our memories, don’t you think?  (Memory – you know, that thing I can’t remember where I left it last). 

And, then, there’s the phone numbers I have to dial because someone left me a voicemail, speaking at the speed of light, and I’m just guessing what they said.  I forgive myself for misdialing those numbers.  I want terribly to dial correctly on those returned phone calls, because I want to tell the caller how irritating it is to have to listen to their voicemail five times to figure out what they were saying.  You know this one, right?  Why can’t people just speak slowly when reciting their name and phone number on a voicemail?  Maybe they don’t really want me to call back.  There’s a thought.  I’m done with those callers.

I’m always surprised when I dial one of those phone numbers I memorized a long time ago, and some stranger answers.  I don’t let it go at, “Sorry, I must have dialed wrong.”  I actually say, “This is the number I think I dialed (then I tell the agitated listener the number, even if they don’t speak English), and sometimes they just hang up.  Other times they are kind enough to hear my hopeful plea for a reality check, and they’ll say something like, “No, you inverted a couple of numbers.” 

Weird, but there’s some relief in knowing I mixed up my dialing.  Much better than having the listener hang up on me.  What’s 30 more seconds, for godsake?  Help me here, misdialed recipient!

Where did that expression come from – I know it by heart – ?  Isn’t there supposed to be some distinction between the heart and the mind?  If I said – I know it by memory – it would mean the same thing, right?  Then, why by heart?  I think I’m mixing up my message here, but that’s how my mind works.

Back to mixing up my words.  When I hear myself say, “Thanks you” I freak out.  God, did they notice I can no longer say something as simple as “Thank you”?  What about when I say, “I mumber when that happened”?  I know there’s no such word (in English, anyway) as mumber, AND I’m not mumbling.  I just forget the word remember,  and it comes out “mumber”.  Humiliating, especially when my listener repeats my faux pas, and asks if I know I said it that way.  No, I didn’t hear it that way when I said it.  But, when I hear it repeated, I clearly hear what I said, and no, I can’t tell you or anyone, why.  I just know I’m mixing up my words.

I read a lot of books.  Maybe I’ve read too many books.  I read in a couple of other languages on occasion, just for the brain exercise, and maybe that’s not actually helping.  I always thought it would.  (Is “mumber” a word in another language?)

I have a long list of reasons why this word exchange thing might be happening.  (Most of my examples are much more obvious than those above, but I can’t remember them right now.)  None of the reasons are comforting.  All of them make sense.  I have no medical reasons for this condition (I’ve checked).  The list is disturbing, though, and I keep mixing up the words I use to describe them.  So, I won’t humiliate myself here, in front of all 6 of you, by sharing the list.  I’m sure you have your own ideas about the reasons that accompany those bullet points. 

How long is the list?  Let’s see.  How much time do you have? 

My shrink has some ideas about why this is happening.  But, I wonder how relevant they are, given that he does the same thing.  The other day, he actually said “Holy Elk” when I think he meant “Holy Cow” but given that he was trained by a Native American shaman, perhaps he was on a miniature mental vision quest during my rambling.  I wondered if he just checked out momentarily because maybe, okay hopefully, I’m a boring subject compared to his other clients. 

I don’t care how boring I am when I’m in his office.  He lets me run into overtime without charging me.  And, in this game, there’s no winning by running into overtime.  Just more opportunities to mix up my words. 

Your thoughts?

p.s.  Hey, if you know that “mumber” is actually an English word, will you let me know?  Those other languages?  That might help, too. 

Not much of my mind, after all

Normally, I plan on needing my mind in good working order on a daily basis.  Not so much, today.  A truly lazy Sunday.  How cool is that?

I read a book (okay not all of it), cleaned the house just enough to have visitors and hope they wouldn’t notice how feable my attempt was, watched TV, wrote on several blogs, looked up a bunch of writerly research, and ate a good meal.  Just one.  How much of my mind did this take?  Not much.  Enough to be sure not to include my mind in the bowl with the brownie mix.  Nah.  Not gonna make ’em.  I’d have to read the directions on the box.  Like I said, this is a lazy Sunday.  And, I’m beat from it all.