March 24, 1999
Sheri read my entry from January 23rd, the one about her father's funeral. I wasn't sure what sort of reaction I was going to get from her. I wasn't even sure if I should tell her that it was there. I'm worried about her. I want to be there for her, but I'm really not sure how. That's been a recurring thing lately. It's odd. I'm usually so empathetic, and I have a good idea of what to say and what to do... lately, I can still feel what's going on, but I can't seem to figure out what the best thing to do about it is. I think I need to stop worrying about what the right thing to do is and just do something.
At any rate, Sheri's reaction was... surprising, but gratifying in a way. She sent me a long email telling me how much it meant to her to see that day's events from someone else's perspective. She also told me she printed the entry out and put it in her scrapbook. That meant a great deal to me. I mean, I write this thing for myself, but it's still nice to know that something I've written helped someone else.
And as a sidenote... I'd love to know who's out there listening. I mean, I know a lot of my online friends check in every so often to see what I'm up to, as well as a few family members, but if you read this and you don't think I know... email me? Make me feel like I'm not just talking to myself here.
Another sidenote. James gave me a hard time about calling myself a pagan in my last entry. So just for him, I'll state my off-the-cuff, un-thought-through opinion on the matter. 'Paganism' is not a religion. If anything, it might be considered a loosely related group of religions, much like the term 'Christianity'. By that logic, for example, Wicca is to paganism what Catholicism is to Christianity. The religious and philosophical notions that I'm slowly (VERY slowly) gathering and collating in my mind, thus far, have more in common with a non-Christian, 'pagan' mindset than with the Christian mindset I grew up with. If it matters to anyone. As far as labels go, it fits me as well as anything does right now, and better than most.
Me, In a Nutshell
Well, this is my first collaborative journal entry. The way it works is that each member of a journal webring (in this case, Speak Freely, a ring for journals hosted on free web space) writes an entry on a chosen topic for the month. This month, it's me, in a nutshell. I have to throw in a gratuitous quote:
Oh God, I could be bounded in a nut shell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams. (Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act II, Scene ii)
I don't usually have bad dreams, actually, but I do like Shakespeare.
I'm twenty-six, female, and I live in Michigan. I married at age nineteen in 1991, and left him at age twenty-two, and the divorce was final January 15, 1996. I don't have much more to say about that, really, except that we might have worked out, if we'd both been older. I'll mention my ex from time to time, although I haven't spoken to him in years.
I was always one of the gifted children in school; you know, the kind that would always blow the grading curve. I remained near the top of my class until I started college, where I kinda lost it. As of right now, I have two completed years of college and about three half-finished semesters under my belt. I plan to go back whenever I figure out what I want to be when I grow up. If I grow up. Past majors have included English education, music education, theatre education (sense a trend here?), psychology, and early childhood education. My thinking currently is that I'll most likely major in social work, unless my friend Brand talks me into an English major with a view towards post-grad work in culture criticism. ;)
I'm also one of the not-so-few, not-that-proud mentally-ill. For several years I was in treatment for major depressive disorder. That's where I picked up the habit of keeping a journal, actually. I was in treatment actively from about 1995 to about 1998, including medication (Zoloft), individual therapy, and two hospitalizations, one inpatient, one outpatient. I'm proud to say that I haven't really had a depressive episode since spring of 1997, and I consider myself to be in recovery. I feel like I've come through the fire. Fire always brings about a change. Sometimes it can burn and scar. In my case, and with this particular fire, I feel as if I've been tempered. It changed who I am, and I dealt with things that a lot of women don't deal with until they're much older than I am. As painful as it was, I'm almost thankful for it.
Religiously and philosophically, I'm searching. I have been for several years, pretty much since my marriage broke up. I was raised very strict fundamentalist Christian, but I've wandered pretty far afield from that. I guess you could say I'm pagan, if anything. I believe in a Supreme Being, or Beings, but I haven't personified them, really. Well, sometimes I do, but nothing is carved in stone. I believe in the power of life, and thought, and will, and I believe in the supernatural - to an extent. This is not to say I'm a UFO chaser or anything of the sort. I've just seen and heard and experienced many things that tell me "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, / Than are dreamt of in your philosophy." Sorry, another gratuitous Hamlet quote.
I have long brown hair that is fairly unkempt most of the time. I have blue eyes that many people think are actually colored contacts. I'm fairly tall. I'm fat. Yup, you heard me. Before anyone gets all uptight about me using that word, let me say two things: first of all, it's the truth. Second, I believe in reclaiming words whenever possible, to take a word that has been given a negative connotation and take it back. (This is why I'll also call myself a bitch on occasion.) Now, if I'm being coy or cute, I'll say that I'm 'Rubenesque', or my current favorite, that I have the body of a Willendorf goddess (see picture). The running joke among some of my friends is that women such as myself encourage the production of "Willendorf-ens". If I had time, I'd probably be a fat activist, but for now, I'll leave it to people like NAAFA (National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance). Fatness is our last acceptable prejudice, and these people are working to change that.
Ahem. Lemme get off that unexpected soapbox there. Where was I? Oh yeah. I'm a writer, a gamer, a singer, a poet, an Internet addict, and a night owl. Gaming, oh, I didn't mention gaming. How could I miss that? I adore role-playing games. I prefer games from White Wolf's World of Darkness, especially Changeling, but I've been known to play in the Hero system and sometimes in various game master designed hybrids. My biggest gaming outlet currently is online, on various MUSHes. I'd go into that, but it's already covered here.
I guess that's me, really, in a nutshell. At least, I can't think of anything else. Funny, this is probably the longest entry I've made. I wonder what that says about me?
March 20, 1999
Thanks, Ostara Bunny
I've been afraid to write lately. I mean really write. Deep-down, soul-searching writing. This is usually a sign that something is very wrong. Writing, you see, might get to the heart of whatever it is. And then I'd have to do something about it. I know what's wrong, really. I realized it early this morning, while I was talking to Brand.
I'm afraid of standing alone.
No crutches, no one to lean on, just me and unstinting, unending reality. Well, for the most part. It's all starting to hit me, really. After May, for the first time in my adult life, I will be, truly, a single person. No boyfriend, no roommate, no husband, no online love. Just... me. That scares me. But what scares me even more is how much I define myself through my relationships. I see who I am through the lenses of whoever I'm involved with - or whoever I think I'm involved with. Is it any wonder that I tend to leap from one serious relationship to another? I recognized my tendency to do that, and now I understand why. Who will I be, not connected to another person? It's not to say that I don't have friends... I do. Some of them even live in the same state. It's just different. I realized today that the temptation to stay with Hollingsworth and try to patch things up is growing. Do I love him still? Or am I starting to cling because I'm afraid of being alone?
No answers. To quote the current stopping point of Joanna's story: "At night, I had all the questions and none of the answers." Well, right now that's me: all questions and no answers.
I feel like an unresolved chord, hovering just on the edge of completion. Everything in my life seems to be on hold, waiting for the resolution to come. I don't know how to force that resolution. Or even if I should force it. The temptation is very strong to just sit, and wait for things to resolve around me, rather than to take action.
There's a strong current moving through my life right now. I've been standing against it, trying to hold my place where I am. Is it any wonder I've been so tired and frustrated? There's a difference, however, between standing against the current and letting it carry you wherever it will. I hardly know anything about boating or canoeing, but I know you can subtly influence which way a current takes you. The key word is 'subtly'. Subtle is hard, especially when you're not sure where you want to end up.
Right now, my currents are taking me away from being online so much. I use the word 'addiction' in reference to my online time as a joke, but it is no joke really. My 'real life' has been long neglected because of my online one. This isn't to say that I'm giving up the internet. I enjoy my web page and my journal and MUSHing too much still. But it is time to step back a little. It's time to start having more of a real life again.
Funny... At Samhain I talked about endings. Everything in my life seemed to be about letting go and ending what needed to be ended. Tomorrow I'm going to an Ostara ritual. Ostara, a time for recognizing the rebirth of life and light. New beginnings. The timing of my cycle with the cycle of the year was completely unconscious on my part.
Guess maybe I'm pagan after all.
March 18, 1999
Well at least I can't say that I've not gotten anything accomplished. I revised Jake's story finally. It's not quite how I had envisioned it, but I'm proud of it. Oh. I suppose I should mention. The link above goes to the original, unrevised version. I'm still trying to decide how to post the revised version, as it has turned into sort of an ongoing history of the character. Also, I sent it to my editors (hee) and I'm still waiting to hear from them. I may post some other things this afternoon. I've written some things lately that I'm proud of. All gaming related, of course. In the same section, I may also include awesome gaming-type things that others have written as well. Possibly scene logs as well, but that might be a bit more obscure for non-gamers.
[Note added March 19,1999: The revised version has been posted, as has the writing page.]
I'm in a rather odd mood today, all things considered. A friend of mine is in the process of getting divorced, and a few days ago her husband tried to kill himself. I'm getting stuck in the past again... I hadn't thought of this in so long. November 15th, 1991. Nashville, Tennessee. I had been married to my ex for almost four months. Things were bad, even then. Not that I realized it, of course. Both of us were unemployed and trying to go to school. The Ex was trying to get a job in what was essentially a pyramid marketing scheme. Although skeptical, I went along. That was one of the themes of my marriage, actually: Lisa Ignores Her Better Judgement and Goes Along With The Ex. What the hell, I was nineteen and he was twenty-two. At any rate, he came home from his first day on that 'job', and we got into a fight over it. Neither of us was very good at fighting fair back then. Things got ugly, and he stormed from the bedroom, saying that he was going to get something to eat.
Several minutes passed, and I had gone back to trying to read my book. Eventually I realized that I was hearing no sounds from the kitchen at all. No pots and pans, no water running, just... silence. I got a little worried, and got up to see what the matter was. There in the living room was Gary, hanging from an extension cord wrapped around his neck. He was unconscious, as far as I could tell. I have absolutely no clear recollection of the next five or ten minutes. Vague images. Screaming and crying. Our cocker spaniel puppy trying to get in my lap as I lowered Gary to the ground. Trying to remember how the hell to do CPR. Gary waking up. We argued again, oddly enough, about whether or not he was going to go to the hospital. I won. By calling the cops. They told me that either I could take him in willingly, or they would come and get him. I drove him to the hospital.
Tennessee, in 1991 at least, had a law that required the psychiatric hospitalization of anyone who attempted suicide. Once the emergency room doctors had ascertained that there was no physical harm to him, I followed Gary to the state psych hospital. Followed, because they had to take him in a police car. There I found out that he was being involuntarily committed for an unspecified length of time. State psych hospitals should be avoided at all costs. That's the conclusion I reached then, and I've seen nothing to change my mind since. It was dirty, dismal and depressing. Just the thing to make a suicidal patient want to get better - so they could get the hell out of there.
My friend has it better than I do, in a lot of ways. She's older, she's employed, she has family and friends near her. I remember being completely alone in Nashville. No friends, because between the two of us, Gary and I pushed them all away. His parents were hours away, and mine were here in Michigan. I went home from the hospital without Gary and cried for the next several days, off and on. I was hurt and afraid and angry. A lot of the latter. Still a lot of the latter. Otherwise I wouldn't be thinking about this so much.
No resolution for this entry. God sometimes the past is so close...
March 10, 1999
Thanks To Brian, Benjamin, and Pooh
I sent email to Brian not long ago, I think I mentioned that in my last entry. One of the things he wrote back to me was to go, immediately, and find and read The Tao of Pooh. Turns out it's by Benjamin Hoff. Well, I didn't do it immediately, but I did today. I just finished reading it. It makes so much sense. I feel like someone just laid out for me what exactly I've been doing with the last ten years of my life. The first thing I want to do, after writing and posting this, is to sit down and read it again. Since I started exploring - spiritually, religiously, emotionally - something I've heard, time and and time again, from pagans, therapists, and other assorted freaks and free thinkers, is that The Process Is What's Important, or It's Not Where You Go, It's How You Get There. I understood that intellectually. I even accepted it as part of my belief structure. I got confused somehow about the idea of setting goals versus how to benefit from a process. Now, I've never read any of Milne's Pooh books (please, don't throw things at me!), but after this I might. But now I might. Hoff quotes The House at Pooh Corner, where Christopher Robin asks Pooh what he likes doing best in the world:
"'Well,' said Pooh, 'what I like best----' and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called."
That's it! That moment is one that I strive for, over and over. It's anticipation, but not quite.. and I realized, reading down onto the next page, what it was. Hoff says:
"That doesn't mean that the goals we have don't count. They do, mostly because they cause us to go through the process, and it's the process that makes us wise, happy, or whatever. If we do things in the wrong sort of way, it makes us miserable, angry, confused and things like that. The goal has to be right for us, and it has to be beneficial, in order to ensure a beneficial process. But aside from, it's really the process that's important. Enjoyment of the process is the secret that erases the myths of the Great Reward and Saving Time. Perhaps this can help to explain the everyday significance of the Tao, the Way.
"What could we call that moment before we begin to eat the honey? Some would call it anticipation, but we think it's more than that. We would call it awareness. It's when we become happy and realize it, if only for an instant. By Enjoying the Process, we can stretch that awareness out so that it's no longer only a moment, but covers the whole thing."
Finding that moment, living in it, realizing it, that's what tells me when my goals are good ones. If I'm writing a story (and I've been a writing fool lately), it's the moment before the Perfect Sentence, or the Exact Dialogue, in the time between the formulation in my mind and the appearance on the paper or computer screen. If I'm talking to someone, it's that moment when you realize, if only for that moment, that you're perfectly in synch with the other person, unified in thought or feeling, however briefly. I've had a lot of these moments lately. They're a sort of... positive reinforcement. Yes, Lisa, you're on the right path, keep going. Or maybe it simply means, Yes, Lisa, you're on a path, keep moving, keep going on.
Going nowhere fast, and doing nothing on the way. But things are still getting done.
It's a process, and each step is more important than any goal on the path itself.
March 05, 1999
The Doctor is In
I love my friend Brian. I really, really do. If anyone can ever help me screw my head on straight about anything, it's him. I also love email. I can rant and ramble and pour my heart out to someone and get an answer the next day. And in Brian's case, it's usually the very answer I needed to hear. He has a way of stating the obvious and making it utterly apparent to me, where I hadn't seen it before. He pointed out to me that I am at a beginning... and an ending... not the middle of the journey. He says:
"Dr. Chewie's advice - KEEP ON DOING WHATEVER IT IS YOU'VE BEEN DOING. Will you have high hopes? Knowing you, yes. Should you be prepared for them not to come true? Absolutely. Should you just be completely pessimistic about it? Hell, no! BE PATIENT!!! Look, life works out the way it's supposed to. And that's my answer to EVERYTHING."
Dr. Chewie. Hmph. I could explain that, but whatever you're thinking is probably not as much fun as the truth, so... The thing about Brian, he knows the questions to ask and the comments to make that will make me think, without just saying, "Well, you're wrong, and here's why." That's one of his better traits, I think. So he, with one email, took me from blathering and rambling and confused, to calm and more focused. I knew all along that this situation would raise a lot of questions, and would make me think. My problem, after this last weekend, was that I didn't know what to think. So my thoughts started to spin in a chaotic circle and I didn't really get anywhere at all, except confused. I needed a rather neutral third party who knew me well to come along and untangle the lines I'd twisted around myself. With the lines straightened out, I could start to think about what really needed to be thought about, if that makes sense. No conclusions. I was saying as much to Jeff earlier tonight. It's too early to draw conclusions. And I need to remember that the only person I can control is me.
It will all turn out well. How? I don't know. It's a mystery.