Don’t Play Music!

There are radio news and talk programs I love. They are excellent at talking about things that are interesting, important, touching, funny … But they are not good at playing music and they shouldn’t do it. If I want to hear music, I’ll listen to a music station or a CD. I especially hate their music when it’s late and I’m tired and should have been in bed an hour ago.

 

Stupid Online Dating

I’m on Match.com and I hate it. My heart is not in it at all. I want to meet someone organically, doing something we would have been doing anyway because it’s something we want or like to do. Dating websites feel artificial. I’m not new to them, and I used to like them better. Don’t know why or how I’ve changed. Age?

I have a dear friend who met a man on Match this summer. They are now in love with each other. She’s so happy about it. I want so much to be happy for her, and intellectually I am, but my heart is jagged when she talks about it. I’m so sad that I don’t have that love.

Tonight another dear friend told our little group, which includes my other friend, that she too is dating someone and loves him. My heart got more ragged.

I despise not being totally happy for them. I don’t despise myself, but I despise not being fully happy. This is not how I want to feel. I want to feel unalloyed happiness for these lovely women who, in fact, are both widows.

Part of me knows it’s not about anyone deserving anything. I deserve all the good things everyone deserves. It’s not that I don’t deserve love. I do often wonder if I’m equipped for love. I’m pretty terrified that I’m not. Part of me wants to find out, while that scared part is holding on tight to the railing. The first friend was scared too. She didn’t want to go on their first date, but she made herself. So I can’t believe that the universe’s rule is that you only find love when you’re not afraid to. There is also mountains of anecdotal evidence of this not being true.

I met a man in October and I liked him so much immediately. I could tell he liked me too, and I asked him out. We were both very excited about having dinner together. He had to cancel, and then I never heard from him again. This crushed me. I tried contacting him and he didn’t respond. This crushed me even more, not knowing why. I didn’t plan to argue or criticize, I just wanted to know what had happened. He seemed so nice.  He was so nice.

Tonight I felt so very sad that I went into M’s room and told her how I feel. I had misgivings about it, but did it anyway. Poor thing, she thought she needed to help me, and was at a loss. Which is exactly why I’d had misgivings. But I was able to tell her that she didn’t need to “help me cope with it” at all, and that just having her listen with kindness was a wonderful thing. Which it was. Then before long we got into a squabble about her phone use.

 

My Vanity Fair Interview

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Peace, fulfillment, connection.

What is your greatest fear? Drowning.

Which living person do you most admire?  Michelle Obama comes to mind. I might revise this answer.

What is the trait you most deplore about yourself? Criticizing and judging others.

What is the trait you most deplore in others? Selfishness. (Is that an example of me criticizing and judging though?)

What is your greatest extravagance? My greatest intentional extravagance is trips to France. My greatest unintentional extravagance is the food I waste.

What is your favorite journey? Up Franconia Ridge.

On what occasion do you lie? When I’m surprising someone, including with gifts. When I need time for myself and cancel work or a meeting with another professional.

What do you dislike most about your appearance? Sometimes my nose, sometimes my hair, sometimes my shape.

Which living person do you most despise? Trump. Fred Phelps.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “you know”

What or who is the greatest love of your life? My child.

When and where were you happiest? Ages 3 – 7.5 in Toronto, and junior year in college in Strasbourg, France. And on many vacations.

Which talent would you most like to have? Playing a musical instrument.

What is your current state of mind? A bit discouraged.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I would not have ADHD. Wait, make that cyclical depression. And anxiety. I claim the power to change those three things.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? Achieving my lifelong dream of living in NH. And, as a young adult, living for 2 years in France.

What is your most treasured possession? Objects of great meaning that other people have given me. Partial list: Burgundian family corkscrew from Patrick, china vase from Marie-Jeanne, crock from Liza, small vase from Kathleen and Beth, Uncle N’s framed mirror.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? For me, it’s depression.

Where would you like to live? Where I live now. Or France. Maybe Scotland. DC.

What is your favorite occupation? Hiking and speaking French.

What is your most marked characteristic? My keen interest in others.

What do you value most in your friends? Acceptance and forgiveness.

Who are your favorite writers? So many! Louise Erdrich tops the list.

If you were to die and come back as a person, or thing, what do you think it would be? A blue heron. Or Franconia Ridge.

What is your motto? Truth waits for eyes unclouded by longing. Also, “be patient towards all that is unsolved in your heart,” by Rilke.

Why I’m Back

I’ve been thinking about resuming. What really spurred me though was a friend who began a blog. Her blog is lovely, and since it’s a WordPress blog and I was in the digital neighborhood, I came here and reread my posts.

I’m happy to say that M’s problems with inappropriate sexual behavior are a thing of the past. I recently gave her Peggy Orenstein’s book Girls and Sex. That book should be reqired reading for all teenagers and their parents, all genders. I can’t tell if she’s read it, and I don’t need to know. I just needed to make sure she had it.

Anyways, I hope to use my blogging muscles again. Happy August.

Paying It

I live in an apartment with a porch on the second floor. It’s the old-fashioned kind of second-floor porch: not a deck, but a porch with a ceiling. It’s off M’s bedroom, and because she is deathly afraid of bugs (even moths), she asked if we could screen it in. There’s no way my landlord would provide either materials or labor for this, so I figured we’d buy a roll of screen and staple-gun it to the porch enclosures, which make a kind of frame around the porch’s 2 open sides. Lo, this turned out to be more complicated than I thought, and as a homeowner I had learned that doing things the quick and dirty way does not always yield the best results. So, I asked a friend if he would help me.

This is not a close friend; he’s a member of my synagogue. He and another member have become what I call the widows squad: there are some women whose husbands died in the last 2 years, and these 2 men are fantastic about doing things for them that their husbands used to do. One day it occurred to me that although I didn’t have a husband who died, I was nevertheless a woman living on my own who wasn’t handy with tools and needed help. So I asked one of them, R, if he’d help me. He instantly said yes, of course he would, and he meant it.

It turns out that he seems to be more of the spur-of-the-moment or short notice kind of person, while I very much want and need to plan, especially so I can make sure I or M am home when he wants to come. So far he’s come by and taken measurements, and now I’m waiting til he’s free to buy materials (some lumber) and get to work. I very much want to help him and learn; I’m not angling for him to do it all himself.

M has grumbled and whined at me a few times this summer, saying “when is R coming?” and “why don’t you just ask P to do it?” P is the guy I dated a number of years ago and whom I have set very clear and firm boundaries with, for good reason. I’ve explained to her that a) I don’t want P over here doing a job and b) I don’t want to invest money in this project. I’ve told her that when you ask people for help, you have to accept it on their timetable. Now I have to remind myself of that. *I*’d like M to be able to spend some of the summer on her porch, but there’s no reason R should have that agenda.

Now, it just so happens that earlier this summer a woman I know lent me a kayak for a day outing. Not only that, she and her husband drove it to the launch, lent me all the equipment, showed me how to use it, and came back to pick the kayak up. This was an amazing level of service, and she had volunteered all of it; I hadn’t asked. When we were setting the kayak up, she said that maybe sometime over the summer I would come and do a couple of hours of gardening with her. She knows I’m a gardener, and she needs help because of a handicap she has. I was ungracious and childish enough to think “what?! I thought she was offering the use of her kayak. I didn’t know this was a quid pro quo.” I said yes with no enthusiasm in my heart, though I *hope* I faked it.

I’ve offered once to go over, and that day didn’t work for her. That was at least 3 weeks ago. Today, grinding my teeth about R, the light finally dawned. “Mompoethiker, you need to fulfill your debt to this woman.” I called her right away and offered to garden today, or either day next weekend.

It won’t matter whether this karmically spurs R to help with the porch. I’m actually grateful that it’s taken this long with R, otherwise I might not have woken up to what *I* need to do.

Wonderful Advice

from Eckhart Tolle:

“Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it.
Always work with it, not against it. Make it your friend and ally, not your enemy.
This will miraculously transform your whole life.”

This is so hard to do. It’s so much more instinctual to resist.

Experience has shown me the transformative power of acceptance. My fearful parts are such traditionalists though. They don’t learn well. They have tunnel vision, seeing only the bad outcomes.

This is one reason meditation, exercise and creative expression are so important: they loosen fear’s hold. They relax fear even a little bit.

Not the Most

My rabbi just sent out this email: “One of our most beloved congregant couples has several open seats at their seder this year and have asked that I put word out to anyone who might not have a first night place to go. They are an empty nester couple who live in [place] and they would LOVE TO HAVE YOU.

Please let me know if I can put you in touch.”

I drafted this, sent it bcc to some friends including one rabbi friend, swallowed very hard, and replied:

“Dear [name],

what a lovely invitation. I hope their seder table is full. My fairy godmother [friend’s name] invited me to hers and I’m looking forward to it.

I want to tell you that the words “one of our most beloved couples” hurt my heart. At my old synagogue several members repeatedly referred to a few families as “one of our best families” and it hurt every time I heard it. I was putting my heart and soul into the congregation and was not blessed with a good match between me and the cantor. As much as I tried to create good during my time there, I knew M and I would not be seen as one of those families.

I think it hurts most, maybe all, people to feel ranked. As a new member who’s just getting involved, I don’t hope or expect to come out at the top of anyone’s list at the synagogue, but I”d much rather there not be any list.

I know you didn’t mean it hurtfully and I’m sure the couple is very beloved. My comments don’t mean to take away from them at all.

shabbat shalom,
[me]