kuangning: (wistful)
Two-thirty AM, and sleep is very far away from me. I'm watching the sky again, lost in half-thoughts that come and go like the moonlight.

This is what I know.

I know that clouds scatter, blow into wisps... but that they gather, too. I know that the winds die down, dart away, change direction, even blow in circles at times... but I have felt the force of a hurricane, huddled nervous overwarm in my bed while winds regrouped and concentrated bent stout trees double outside my window. I have held a kite string in my hands and felt a steady tug. I know the winds and the clouds return.

I have stood on sand, my feet rapidly drying, and watched while coquinas scuttled to bury themselves, saw the waves fail to turn them up again. And yet I know that the tides turn.

All of those things I know, how weather runs in cycles, how Nature loves patterns, and yet.

I never wondered before if coquinas feel naked and unanchored when the tide abandons them, or whether they face it with equanimity. But I know that tonight has been a night of waiting for the tides to turn again. I feel rather like those clouds -- ragged, worn thin, pieces being teased away.

I'm on my way back to bed now, though. And overnight, there should be time enough for Cairstens, clouds, winds, and coquinas to regroup.

See you tomorrow, LJ world.
kuangning: (Default)
I looked out the window a little while ago, and almost fell into a night sky full of stars. The moon, bright and round, toyed with a tattered blanket of clouds before tossing it away on the wind.

It has been a beautiful day. There were momentary aggravations, but much laughter, much warmth, and a great deal of wonderful company. I would name names, but I'd be sure to leave someone out. So thank you, everyone. I haven't felt this dreamy content in quite some time.
kuangning: (wonder photosphere)
I'd almost forgotten how good it feels to plant things. Wrist-deep in soil, thinking about nothing more complicated than what these seeds need to grow best.

Planting is a prayer and the answer to that prayer all in one. Let there be life. And I know, from the second the tiny things leave my hand, that there is life, and will be life. Given time, and warmth, and space to grow, those little brown specks will become green specks, and then first leaves, and then there will be so many that I will have to make room for them again in less-cozy pots. There will be the scent of damp soil and growing things in my room for the next months. In a few weeks, that will be joined by the scents of lavender and vanilla grass. Sometime after the vanilla grass springs up, but before I can expect the lavender to bloom, my bulbs will. They're a foot tall already, having kept me company though the last few freezes without complaint. They got their own larger pot today, and seem happy to be able to stretch.

So am I happy to be able to stretch. The world still has room in it for growing things.
kuangning: (Default)
Drifting.

Falling floating acquiescent, waiting for something that exerts a pull. Hands in pockets, head down, shuffling, picking over stones just because, and not bothering to keep the ones that sparkle.

I remember what it was to create. My hands recall putting together things I hoped would last, pounding out words that seemed to bypass my head and flow straight from some hidden corner where someone hid who was me, and not me.

Justify your existence.
I create.

I used to believe I would cease to exist on the day I ceased to create. In a way, I have. With the future of my most personal and human accomplishment still undecided, I ceased to create at all. I've written nothing of my own worth penning, these months. I've not found a single fractal worth rendering. And I don't recognise myself in this dull, listless woman wearing my face and thinking with my voice.

I wonder if I still have the willpower to find my way back.
kuangning: (angry)
So, here's the thing.

There's a rift growing between a couple of people on my friends list. Frankly, I'm not at all conflicted about where my loyalties lie; I'm growing more and more irritated with the lack of concern one of them is showing for the other's obvious pain. Promises sidestepped, outright criticism for daring to feel pain, word games and mind games -- and, to boot, I'm really pretty damned tired of seeing someone else's comments in their LJ. I cut the person in question off awhile ago when it became plain they were dishonest and callous, and seeing their comments elicits a response of "god, why am I even bothering to read these lies anymore?"

So I've been considering dropping this person for quite some time. My problem is, the person in question hasn't given me any reason to dislike him. We're not close and never have been, but he was an interesting read. I'm not sure I'm justified in dropping him. (yes, I know, I don't really need justification for dropping someone, and if it wasn't personal I wouldn't think twice, but it is personal. There's no way around that.)

So... what do you lot think? What would you think if you were the person in question, and I dropped you for the above-stated reasons? And if you think it is you, would you even care?

[Edit]

Thanks, everyone. You know what I decided, no doubt -- you all made sense. And, really, I knew what I would hear from you (and what I wanted to hear from you) before I asked the question. He's been dropped. I'm still around, should he wish to discuss this with me, but I doubt that. Like I said, we were never close. And there's no reason he should cut off someone who obviously matters to him just so some woman will keep reading his LJ. There is also, however, no reason why I should keep experiencing aggravation and outright annoyance through reading his LJ and seeing that person's comments.
kuangning: (carefree)
If I told you I'd decided to stay on at the Sheraton because of the people, would you laugh at me?

Only two or three of us decided to go. Steve B., the rooms division manager, is going. I didn't get to know him very well, but I would have liked to have more time to do so. He gave the impression of being very intelligent, with the kind of mind that never misses the details, and he's very dexterous as well. His office is filled with tiny carvings and even stuffed birds. I know he didn't really want to leave us, but Innkeeper balked at meeting his salary at the beginning, and when they capitulated, it was too late. He could have changed his mind, he said, but then that opened the door for salary struggles all the way down the line. If you have to threaten to leave to get a raise, leave. It isn't worth the stress.

Tammy, our comptroller, is also leaving us. This saddens me; Tammy is the one person on the job who seems to understand the way I think. The others like me, but don't understand me. Tammy gets me, and is also the only person I know irl who heard me humming October Project and not only knew the name of the group, but knew the lyrics. I'll miss her a lot...

Joe, Carl, Daima, Shannon, Michelle... all are staying. But, oddly, they're not the ones who made up my mind for me.

A Southwest flight attendant did that.

A week or so ago, with the YMCA group still in house, her flight was delayed at the airport. They came in at 3 AM, tired and hungry, and the bar was closed. I handed out milk and cereal, and sent them to their rooms. Ten minutes later, I got a call. Toni, it turns out, has allergies. She couldn't stay in the smoking room she'd been assigned, or she'd have been sick. All the other rooms were taken, so I wound up putting a rollaway cot into the concierge lounge and leaving her with her room key so she could go downstairs in the morning to shower.

The concierge lounge was never intended to be a room. It's huge, cold, echoey, and more than a bit eerie. I wouldn't have enjoyed it a bit. But she took it very cheerfully, and didn't even complain. I went home, she left the next morning, and I didn't think much of it.

Tonight, right about the time I'd decided I was sick of the Sheraton and couldn't wait to see the last of it, at least for the night, her crew came in. She brought a letter to my supervisor, and a thank you note and a box of chocolates for me.

In case that doesn't mean much to you, let me just say that I do far more difficult things for guests on quite a few nights. We all do. And we consider ourselves lucky to get a thank you then. It's our job to serve, and people think nothing of running us ragged and then complaining that there's not more we can do for them. Even the polite ones generally go away and never give us a second thought.

She reminded me of the one thing I love most about the Sheraton. The flight crews come in every week. They know our names, ask after us and our families, stand around and hold conversations, and really appreciate the things we do for them. They're a good lot, for the most part, and Southwest are the best of them. They're more than just friends; we see them so often that we're almost extended family to more than a few of them. On a night when I was beginning to feel that I could very easily start to hate the guests, Toni reminded me that they're not all like that. And she's not atypical of the group. I doubt I'd find that elsewhere. And I can't imagine giving it up lightly.
kuangning: (Default)
For one human being to love another; that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation.
-- Rainer Maria Rilke


I don't say it often enough, I know. I lose sight of it sometimes; getting caught up in my own fears and troubles is all too easy. But that doesn't make it less true: I am blessed. That's not a word I use often, and it's always in this context for me. The people who share my life, in whatever degree of closeness, bestow on me their time, their attention, and, sometimes, their love. In this, and in them, I am blessed.

I am not an easy person to love. I have a great many sharp edges, I'm demanding and rigid and sometimes childish. Those who manage to put up with all of that, however, still have to contend with mood swings and insecurities, self-doubt and self-centeredness. All of that, and still there are people who stand by me, who never have deserted me, who never have been too busy or hurting too badly themselves to be there when I needed them.

Some of those, poor darlings, make it to the ultimate in inconsistency: they wind up being loved by me. That particular experience, I'm sure, has to be a roller-coaster ride equal to none. I am warm and happy one moment, on the verge of tears the next; my disposition is sunny long enough to let them relax, and then the thunderclouds roll in without warning. Worse, I lie. I'm fine, I say when I'm bleeding. It's my problem, I declare with a shrug. What I mean is it hurts and I don't know where to begin to tell you, but that is not what I say. I'm all right. It's not important. There's nothing anyone can do. Shorthand for I'm dealing with something that scares me and I don't trust it out of my head.

Today's been one of those roller-coaster days. I've told so many lies that they're all I can taste. And anyone who made it through today with me is entitled to a medal.

I will try again tomorrow. And perhaps tomorrow, I will get it right.
kuangning: (exposed - Franssen)
Oh we never know where life will take us;
I know it's just a ride on the wheel...
And we never know when death will shake us,
And we wonder how it will feel...


-- Goodbye, My Friend
by Karla Bonoff

In the midst of yesterday's loss, I noticed again something that I noticed first more than a year ago -- a divergence in the reactions people had to the news. Some were unaffected entirely, others shaken to the core. Among both groups, there is another marked division. One camp avers that mourning is the natural, the most proper action in this time. The other holds that these deaths mean no more than any other deaths, and should be treated similarly. I watched someone argue that unless we grieve equally for all, it is somehow a shameful thing, to grieve for any. After all, death comes every day, and not just to the gifted or the celebrity.

Why do we mourn the ones we mourn? What sets some apart in our minds, singles them out for special notice and attention? I don't have a definitive answer to that, nor do I have an inclusive one.

What I can say of myself, though, is that I need a focus for my grief. I need a human touch, a face, a personality quirk that makes someone real to me and brings the situation into my home and my heart and my space where I sit. I can weep for a planet, if I know that planet's curvatures, its rhythms, if I have tasted of it and have, perhaps, some secret spot upon it that I think of as my own. I can weep for humanity as a race, because I am human and I know, as we all know, of what things humanity is capable, and how far short of that we've fallen. I could have wept for yesterday's seven simply because they were humans also. I did not. I guess that makes me less than the ideal myself, and I can accept that judgment.

But it's not that these seven were celebrities. I had never seen their faces before yesterday, had seen their names in text twice. Until yesterday morning, they were part of the nameless, faceless entity of Other People. Bright, brave Other People exist, I know, and I'm glad of them, and proud of what they accomplish, but they're not very immediate to me. They're amorphous, nothing there to hold onto. So were the seven astronauts, until I came across David Brown and his "do we really have to come back?" He changed it, in my mind. He became the peg upon which I could hang my sadness and my fear and my pity and my hope, became the reason I was sad -- and brought the others with him.

I think that's the way the majority of us grieve. And I believe we're wired that way for a good reason. If we wept every time a child died, each time someone was murdered or starved or suicided, we would never see an end to grieving. There would never be closure, unless we went the other direction and grieved none of the losses at all. I have known a few people who grieved for no-one. None of them were pleasant or compassionate or sane. It's impossible to grieve everyone equally and stay sane. Some of them have to matter more than others, have to stand out in our minds and be the reasons we can grieve. Who should those people be, but the ones who have qualities we admire, who do the things we dream of, who accomplish the remarkable?

With as much tragedy as the media serves up to us every day, and as constantly surrounded as we are by the horrifying, the saddening, the gruesome, the unfair... is it surprising if we become too jaded to weep at all? If we can grieve at all, for anyone, no matter whom or why, well, I believe that's a step in the right direction. And I believe that anyone who attempts to dissuade another from grieving any loss, for any reason, is at best misguided. One of the things about us is that sometimes things come out of a clear blue sky that shake us deeply, that make us look around and take notice. Whenever something like that does, it's not something that's going to be made better or somehow alleviated if we're too ashamed of showing special favour and attention to let ourselves feel what we feel.

And that's what I believe.
kuangning: (exposed - Franssen)
It's almost healed over, but still, I get twinges every now and again. Knowing where they come from helps.
I no longer tell myself I've been forgotten.
I don't say "I'm not enough." Instead, I say "I feel like I'm not enough," and that sounds like a small difference but isn't. It is a mood, a feeling, and it will pass -- and it does.

Sometimes I still do feel like I'm a convenience and nothing more. Sometimes I still do get hung up on feeling invisible and unremarkable and lacking in whatever it takes to capture and hold attention and affection. Unlovely and ungentle, ungracious and expendable. I still hear the lectures on family life from my parents. I still get chivvied into makeup and nail polish every now and again, ignoring the fact that it's more likely that I'll feel even more awkward in them than that the extra fuss will make me feel better.

Hrm. Why shouldn't makeup and the like, knowing I look nice, make me feel better, anyway?
- because they're not directly providing what I need or think I need right then. (love/approval/affection, or close enough.)
- because even if they're indirectly providing what I need, I'd resent having to change myself so drastically to get it. (wasn't I worth anything before you covered up the real me with Stuff? Because if not, then I'm really still worthless, it's just that now I'm a carrier for the Stuff, which is what you really like/love/want/approve of.)
- because I feel like the fuss (time/money/attention) is wasted on me, usually.

That's a bigger one that it sounds like. I still feel guilty about doing things for myself, sometimes. The usual reasoning is it's not a necessity. There are fifty other ways you could use that resource. What that boils down to, sometimes, is a nicer way of telling myself I don't deserve this. It's generally a plausible reason in my mind for denying myself something, and sometimes it's an accurate and necessary tool and helps me to keep my own priorities straight. But sometimes I use it to prioritise my own happiness right out of the picture. I know better, in my head. But on a gut level, sometimes I'm still not satisfied unless I'm sacrificing my own wants to someone else's, in the hope that the universe will be "fair" and I will be "repaid" with love and loyalty. And while I do not usually say out loud, see? I gave up ___ for you, and what do I get in return? I sometimes still feel that way. I know I learned that behaviour from my father, whom I love dearly, but I don't want to keep it, thankyouanywayDaddy. The urge to play the martyr is one of my worst qualities, not one of my best.

- if I have to give up something before you like/love/want/approve of me, then it still isn't really me you like/love/want/approve of, it's either the thing I gave up or the fact that I'll give in/submit/fulfill the expectations you have of me. And on some level, I will know that (how could I not?) and I will resent you, and myself for giving in. But mostly with me, because I gave up something that mattered to me to buy something I apparently don't merit just by virtue of being me, even though I should.
- if you accept my sacrifice and don't "value" it, (love/affection/approval again,) then I will be angry with you and with myself for giving in. But mostly with you, because, well, I gave up something that mattered to me because your love/approval/affection mattered more, and you used me. Meaning, you disappointed me by not giving me what I felt was fair return for the coin I used.

Core problem, then, is not being happy/satisfied with who I am. And I can fix that. But not by giving up more of me. I can fix it by being the kind of person I admire most, and building the kind of life I'd like to have. And anything I do in the pursuit of that, so long as it doesn't hurt someone else, even if it benefits no-one except me, is okay and worth it.
I can also fix it by appreciating what I already am, and what I already have. That costs nothing, hurts no-one, and is also worth it. So long as I don't focus so exclusively on that that I forget to let myself change and grow.

This feels like enough for now.
kuangning: (exposed - Franssen)
You know, it really is this simple.

I can do badly all by my damned self. I don't need a partner for that.

I can be happy all by myself, too. I can be content, I can laugh, love, and truly live, all without a partner.

If I can't find a measure of joy and love with you that I cannot achieve by myself... why do I need you? Give me a reason why I should commit to making the effort to sustain any sort of relationship with you -- and every relationship takes effort to sustain -- when I don't gain anything from it I couldn't have without interlacing my life with someone else's, complicating every facet of my days.

Every single person in my life right now has more than justified their presence in whatever relationship we enjoy. Some of you amuse me, some make me think, some remind me of who I am and where I'm headed. Some simply love me and are loved in return. All of you have helped me raise the bar this last year or so. You, collectively, and I, independently -- we are enough. More than enough. I only know one person of whom I could say for certain "he's more than enough, all by himself," and, oddly enough, I'm happy just to have him be around as one of you.

It's a tough thing these days, finding more joy and love than I already have in my life.
kuangning: (thoughtful)
Right. I was supposed to talk about letting go at some point.

I just saw my ex, the younger children's father, for the second time in as many weeks. We talked, quietly and mostly openly, about a lot of things. The question's come up of setting up a household again -- I want to move out, so does he, and it would probably be in the children's best interests, the list of pros runs. Still, I've put off making the decision.

*He's lost weight, is back to the way he was when I met him.
*He seems more brittle than before.
*He hasn't really changed otherwise. And that's comfortable, but disquieting.
*Gods, I have changed.

Those were my thoughts.

His cellphone rang during our couple of hours together. His roommate/sex partner keeps him on a short leash.
She sounded angry, suspicious. I sat there quietly, looking out the window of her car. And when he finished making excuses to her, never quite lying but not being forthcoming, either... I told him in as many words that I've enough baggage of my own that I don't want to deal with his.

I feel a little numbed, but a lot grateful. He's a comfortable past in some ways, the easy out of my parents' house. A year or two ago, I'd have jumped at it, and counted it fair that I was rescuing him from his own unpleasant reality. Today, I'm just relieved that he isn't my responsibility to take on. I love him, and wish him well -- but that "well" is *growth.* And he's very determined to not change, right now. He tells the same jokes. He wears his hair the same way, makes the same deliberate gestures, talks about the same people -- none of whom he's seen lately because that would mean coping with their changes. He's very invested in keeping his world static. And that makes me sad.

I also see a bit of the same thing in my perception of Richard, and it makes me glad he never picked up that card. If his world is the same tiny one it was ten years ago, I don't want to know it. I know that he, too, tells the same jokes -- that's enough. I don't really want to go backward. I want -- not need -- someone who will, at the very least, grow with me. If I can't have that, well, then I'm much better off by myself.
kuangning: (Ami)
One of the things you don't know about me has been a bone of contention between me and my parents for ten years.

I was really quite bright as a child. Really bright. Kids in Trinidad start school early, and we outright compete from the very start for good class rankings. Except for one single term where I was third in my class, I was first, every school, every term, through all the years we were there. At age nine, I was the top student in my division of the country, St George East. I think I was second overall. At age ten, I became the first student in the history of the division to pass the Common Entrance exam for St Joseph's Convent. I think there've been two other girls to follow my lead since then.

And then when I was twelve we emigrated. And things changed. I felt that the successes I had, and there were some, weren't fairly earned, in some ways. I had a different background, had started earlier, it wasn't that I was any smarter than the older kids, I'd just seen the material before. So any good grades I got didn't really count.

Then, my sophomore year, the year after Kelly, I don't remember much of at all. I remember crying a lot, but no tests, no papers, no classwork -- I went through school on autopilot for a year, and my GPA slipped badly. I never quite made it up; I graduated with honours, but wasn't valedictorian or even close, and I was okay with that because it proved that I really had been right all along. I wasn't really any smarter once I was on more equal footing. I received the Presidential Award for Academic Fitness my senior year and shrugged it off; I got it despite my slightly-low GPA, and again it didn't count. Besides, everybody knows lots of kids who start out brilliant burn out along the way. I went on to college, and into the prerequisite courses for the Nursing Program. Indian River Community College has one of the best RN programs in the country, and the exam is stiff. Many, many people take three tries to get in, and many more never make it at all. I'm good at standardized tests, but I worried. I took the test, and my parents informed me that I'd passed. Then there was a bit of a battle; I was sixteen, and the Board didn't want to accept me because of my age. Still, my mother wanted me in badly, and she's nothing if not determined. Nursing was her dream, I wanted to be a veterinarian and wasn't sure I had any aptitude for nursing at all. I went along because once she'd blocked my own dream, I might as well go along with her and make one of us happy. But I felt like a fraud.

That was confirmed the first day of the program, when my teacher pulled me aside to say that she didn't think I belonged there, that I was taking up a space someone else should have had. It didn't get any better from there. Ms Spooner made it her business to make me miserable. For the first time in my life, I hated school. Worse, she was my mentor as well as my teacher. I would have had to explain to her why I wanted out of her classes and have gotten her permission to switch teachers. Going above her head never occurred to me at all. I was only in the program on sufferance, and what would they think of me if I made trouble? Every other classroom, I'd been in my own territory, on solid ground. I'd gotten bad teachers fired before, but that was on the strength of the fact that I was a good student. Her classroom was hostile territory, and I was a failure. Worse, I was a waste of a valuable slot. I got in on the strength of threats and my mother's determination.

And then this morning, my father and I rehashed the old, old argument. Why did you quit? You could have been great! And when I protested, he told me something nobody told me before.

That hard exam, with the material I hadn't seen before the prerequisite programs? The one so many people fail? I had the top score in the state of Florida. I scored fifth in the country.

If you can't understand why I'm crying my eyes out right now, try to imagine having someone tell you you didn't deserve something, try to imagine letting yourself be pushed out -- because I did -- and then finding out you probably had a better right to it than anyone else who shared it with you. That you earned it, and more than earned it, fairly. That you let someone who disliked you shape a very significant part of your life. I don't have a degree. I don't have a career, I have a job, and there have been so many damned unpleasant things in my life I could have avoided had I finished that program, I can't begin to reckon them up. It's not even her fault. It's my own for not being stronger, for not believing in myself. My children would be so much better off today had I finished that program, it's almost too much to wrap my mind around. It's my fault. But I still hope she gets to go through at least half of what I have. She was both mentor and teacher, and she, if no-one else, would have had to know my scores were good. Better than just good. Two days ago, I hated no-one. Right now, I can't see an end to hating her.

so...

Dec. 27th, 2002 11:27 pm
kuangning: (magic photosphere)
How sad is it that my one specifically requested Christmas present is a bookshelf? (It's arriving tomorrow; my kid sister absolutely rocks.)

... and does it mark me as hopeless that right now I'm craving three complete encyclopedia sets to fill it?

I'm drooling over the Annals of America, Collier's Junior Classics, and Childcraft: The How and Why library, all of which were books I grew up on. I actually have the 1968 printing of the Annals of America, missing only the first and last volumes and the introduction, but they've been in my brother's possession for the last three years, and he has no respect for books; the bindings are intact, but almost all of them have the blank first pages ripped or torn out, gods only know why.

My own set of World Book encyclopedias, thankfully, my father kept safe for me -- they're in almost perfect condition. Those I won when I was twelve, my first semester in an American school... I remember that we toted them home in three trips, box by box, because we lived about six blocks away and my parents hadn't bought a car yet. Of all the prizes I've won in competition of whatever kind, I think my parents were most proud of that one. They called all the neighbours over and made me show them my name on the inside cover of the first volume, over the next couple of days, and I was proud, but embarrassed too, and glad when they finally ran out of people to show it to. Then the books went on the shelves, and every time my brother or I would need to get one down, we'd get a lecture on what a treasure they were and how glad I'd be one day to pass them on to my own children if we took care of them. There's a lot in them now that's outdated -- like almost anything dealing with world geography, I'd imagine -- but I'm still looking forward to putting up my shelves and settling those books in my room again.

The other two encyclopedias are almost purely for my littles. Childcraft taught me what a Moebius strip is, introduced the concept of something multiplying exponentially... and Collier's gave me stories I'll never forget, and a longing for a fennec of my own, while they were at it. ;) Is it selfish or silly of me to want to wrap my kids up in the same fantasy worlds I escaped to so often? Childcraft and Enid Blyton? Flying and sugarloaves and samovars and fennecs and mixtures that are neither wholly solid not fully liquid and English boarding school stories and naughty pixies? Is it realistic to want them to see magic around every corner and lands of wonder lurking at the top of every tree -- but, most of all, inside every book? Is it even possible, in this day and age, to raise them that way and still succeed in raising practical, competent adults? I don't know, obviously. But I can hope.

A mathematician once decided
That a Moebius strip is one-sided!
You'll get quite a laugh
If you cut it in half,
For it stays in one piece when divided.
kuangning: (thoughtful)
I love the last few days of the year. I can almost feel time rushing past, after Christmas. And I start taking notes, looking back, taking stock of what kind of year it's been -- and what kind of year is likely to be ahead.

Last year was a year of loss. All the gains couldn't make up for them -- every lesson had its price, and all the debts came due at once. And we paid them -- in tears, in blood, in terror, in hope. This year... this year we spent in recovery. This year, we recouped. The ground is still shifting. But we are on our feet. Next year, perhaps, we will rebuild.

More personally -- I don't know that I progressed much, this year. I ventured into no new territory, I didn't face anything I haven't faced before. I hope, though, that I did a better job of facing them. I believe that I'm stronger in myself for having lived through this year -- less fervent, perhaps, but more accepting.

I don't feel older. I'm about to enter my twenty-eighth year -- and I'm remembering that Kelly was twenty-eight when I met him -- just a year to go -- and I don't feel older at all. In fact, I have fewer worries (and more hope) now than the girl I was then. And more power over the situations I do worry about. I'm not the omnipotent ideal of adulthood she dreamed of, but all in all, not very much happens to me that I haven't allowed, anymore. I've waited a long time to be able to make that statement. :)

That said -- I don't think I've really figured out yet what I want my life to be and include. Not specifically. So, maybe that's my assignment for the next week. I fulfilled last year's agenda pretty well. Time to set my goals for the year ahead.
kuangning: (wonder photosphere)
Have I ever said how much I love my birthday?

I happened to be born on Childermas -- Holy Innocents' Day. It's the day of remembrance and celebration for the children King Herod slaughtered in his plan to destroy the young Jesus. When I was a very little girl, someone told me that those born on that day, like those born on Christmas Day, were blessed. And while I was growing up, I half-believed that being born on their day meant I had them all as guardian angels. When God seemed to have forgotten me, they had not. They were just little ones, and couldn't save me, but they heard me anyway, and cared, because I was born on their day.

That belief has changed over the years. As a child who has grown up "under the protection" of Innocents and become an adult, I feel sometimes that I owe it to them to protect other innocents. And to stay as close to innocent as I can, myself, so that I'm not completely out of their reach. I do the angel tree every year I can, in remembrance of my own angels. Last year, when I couldn't give more than a bare handful of presents, the first one I bought was for a child, and given on Innocents' Day. I firmly believe that as long as I do my best to protect and care for any child who comes under my influence, I and my own children will not be allowed to go without the things we need for long.

This year's first gift was for a child I haven't met yet. International shipping being what it is, it will not surprise me -- but will delight me -- if she unwraps the package on the 28th. It's something she wanted but would not have gotten had her father not known my mother, here, in the States, and I kept the promise I didn't make for the sake of my guardian angels. If I'm very lucky, someone will adopt my belief and carry on the practice for me -- yet another gift from one Innocent to another.

While I'm at it, did you know that Westminster Abbey was consecrated on Dec 28th? And I have to say I'm very glad that Trinidad never turned the day into a second April 1st -- or kept up the old tradition of whipping children on Childermas, to drive home the lesson of the infant martyrs.

This is no time for a child to be born,
With the Earth betrayed by war and hate
And a comet slashing the sky to warn
That time runs out and the sun burns late.

That was no time for a child to be born,
In a land in the crushing grip of Rome
Honor and truth were trampled by scorn --
Yet here did the Saviour make his home.

When is the time of love to be born?
The inn is full on planet Earth,
And by a comet the sky is torn --
Yet Love still takes the risk of birth.

-- Madeleine L'Engle
kuangning: (sad - Franssen)
Faith is a thread of purest silk. Acceptance is a hemp rope. I will not wholly depend on either alone. Faith without acceptance of what is can be broken. Acceptance without faith in what can be can leave one -- leaves me -- raw and bleeding in places.

At the end of fear there is grace. Whatever the form it takes, it is still grace. It is grace to be able to turn around and put my back to the wall and face the demons, even alone. It is also grace to find the crevice in the wall which can hide me. I will not bitch about the way my wishes were fulfilled, or complain about which of my prayers were answered.

I am not happy, but I am not broken. I am beginning to reopen the doors, and hopefully the process will not take much longer. Thank you for being patient with me so far -- there's only so much interaction I can stand right now.
kuangning: (intense - Franssen)
... sparked by [livejournal.com profile] mayamaia's response to the trust post. I think it's a good thing... I'm not sure yet, though.

She said: I have actually always loved the trust games because they forced me to have faith. But not really blind faith...my eyes were closed, but I knew that I wouldn't be dropped because that person would have to trust me next. I just had to conquer those few remaining fears.

I did the game many times in elementary school in the little PE classes...and almost every time I had to close my eyes and be caught, the person who had to catch me was one of the people who was unkind to me, one of the people who made me an outcast. It requires a very special kind of faith trusting yourself to someone like that.

I wouldn't say it comes naturally to trust like that...that's why we even have the game, so children can learn to trust one another, learn that that's what people do: work together. Personally, I've tried to cultivate that trust...to know exactly how far i can trust someone...and then trust them to the limit. And often, the more they see I trust them, the more they realize they can trust me. And that makes the fall worth it.


Short response: I understand and appreciate the principle. I just never was able to do it. I'd rather trust myself to nothing at all than leave even the next thirty seconds of my life dependent on another human's whim. In my head, I know the fall wouldn't hurt me, if they did let me fall. I would pick myself up and dust myself off and life would go on -- but on the other hand, I would have lost the possibility that someone would catch me if I didn't catch myself. I would never again be able to think, "well, maybe they'd catch me if only I'd let them." That's the faith I do have, and the first time I let myself fall and am not caught, nothing in the world will bring that back. I'd be a much different, a poorer person for that.

And I really didn't know how true it was till I said it, I guess. If I don't trust someone to catch me, and they don't, and I fall, I haven't lost anything. They would have caught me, but I didn't trust them. It is my fault, no-one to blame but myself. No anger, precious few regrets -- and the possibility that next time, it will be different. If I don't say what I want, if I don't say what I need, and I don't receive it, it isn't offered, then my lack, my failure, is entirely in my own hands. I could have done better, had more, been happier, but I did not reach for it, I didn't take it, I didn't ask.

Recently, I asked for something. And in the lack of response I received, I found more and more enduring pain than I've felt in a long time. Because there is now no room for doubt, no wriggle room, no hope I can reasonably hold on to that if I could just have made myself ask, I would have received. This is why I do not ask. Not when it matters, not when it would be more than just pleasant or amusing to receive what I asked for. It lets me keep my faith that people would help, would support me in my aspirations, would give of themselves if only... and that faith is what lets me come back to this space and say sincerely that I believe in people in general and my friends in specific. It lets me put my thoughts and my words in this space, confident that they are going to be seen by people who will attempt to understand them, and me. It lets me keep whispering my hopes to the wind, in the faith that one day they'll be tangible presences in my life. It lets me open my eyes on even the bleakest of days, knowing that there are things I could do and say, if only I would, that would change things sooner than I could change them on my own. And it gives me the strength and the impetus to keep working to change things on my own -- because I don't really have to, you see, I choose to. There's an alternative I'm too proud, too stubborn to take. It's finding out that there's really no alternative at all that would destroy me.
kuangning: (thoughtful)
You know that trust game? The one where you close your eyes and let yourself fall backwards and someone standing behind you catches you?

... How many of you are like me, and could never bring yourself to actually let yourself fall? I used to think I was the only one who couldn't do it, but I just found out I'm not. How many others are there?

if it looks like I'm being reckless and blind to the dangers, you're only half right.
if it looks like I'm completely anything -- giddy, in love, sad, angry, whatever -- you're missing something.
if you think I'm too anything to turn around, to stop, to back out? -- you're wrong.

there's the little voice I can't shake, right up to the very last second -- and I will never ever be able to honestly plead being "past the point of no return." Because I can always put my foot back and stop myself. I can always stand up and walk out and walk away, even when you think I'm too committed to even think about setting foot out the door. On the one hand, you'll never be able to be truly sure of me. On the other, every minute I spend with you? I'm there because on some level I want to be.

I can't offer soft blind adoration. I will probably never be able to do more than keep silence on my doubts, my appraisals, my misgivings, while I make the very conscious decision to set them aside in favour of the moment I'm in and the person I'm sharing it with. You will never truly be my hero, my everything, and I will never be completely helpless without you. You will never be completely necessary in my life, and when you catch me, my gratitude will be mingled with surprise and tempered with the knowledge that had you not, I would have found some other way. I will never expect to be caught.

On the other hand, if you remember that I do not completely need you, then you know that I didn't pick you -- and, make no mistake, I did pick you -- to save me. I chose you because I wanted you beside me. To be a companion, not some fairy-tale knight or fairy godmother. If you know that I am never not conscious of alternatives, then you know that every second I'm with you, I choose you. Again and again and again, I'm making the decision to be with you, to stay by you. I will not forget the times you disappoint me. My hurts don't get washed out of existence the first time you take me to bed, or the first time you hand me a gift, or offer a smile, and if you think I'm distracted from them, that's only because I have and always will have thoughts you're not privy to.

The first anger doesn't wash away the memory of the good, either. In the middle of my fury, I will remember that you have been good to me, that I have cared for you, that the reasons I had for choosing you haven't gone away.

I am not soft and gentle and delicate. Compared to most of the women and girls I know, I'm a cast-iron bitch. I save the poetry for abstracts and people in my past, and I have real trouble discussing the present at all, let alone bathing it in soft words and fancies. I will write poems for you only when you are gone from my life.. or I believe you are. When you are with me, you get to be with me, and I will spend the time with you intensely, and you will never be a default decision. That's the blessing and the curse of a woman with a stainless steel spine. And I wouldn't trade places with any of those wide-eyed porcelain dolls for a single second.
kuangning: (wistful)
*sigh.* Baby children. Did I forget to say it was going to be a good day? It was. But that's okay. Because your last chance hasn't come and gone yet. The stars are clear and very bright here right now. It's cool and crisp and when I stood outside a few minutes ago, a leaf brushed my face and clung to my cheek for a second. Funny how I'd never thought before -- leaves fall at night, too. I guess it makes sense -- what's the difference between night and day, after all, but the sunlight or lack of it? And still. So much pain, today. So many irritations, so much loneliness, so much hurt and anger.

I'm not really full of words right now. But there's a wish blowing on the wind, from me to you, and I hope you'll let me know if you hear it and if you care to make it come true. Go find a moment of rest and ease, if you can. If it's been a long day, light a candle, draw a bath, put your favourite song on, do whatever it takes to stop for five minutes and let yourself rest, and know that someone cares. The wish for tonight is peace, however you find it. Take care of yourselves.
kuangning: (Default)
I went for a short walk around the block, hoping to make myself sleepy. Instead, I feel invigorated. And, oddly enough, small inside my skin. I stumbled on the way in, stubbing my toe against a rock. I reached down to pick it up, and found it was a chunk of amethyst. Very rough, irregular colour, but amethyst, just the same. How long had it been there beside the driveway? Who knows. But it seems like it was waiting for me, although it doesn't feel as though it belongs to me. I will probably pass it on to someone without much notice.

There's so much to discover, so much beauty hidden in plain view, waiting for someone to look at it, to see it. How can I sleep?

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kuangning

September 2015

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