Monday, March 30, 2009

Three paces removed

I think I am avoiding coming here. I am blogging in my mind constantly but when it comes to making time to sit down and write it out for real, I find a hundred other things to do and focus on. I don't know...sometimes I wonder if I am only capable of intense creativity when things are going poorly. And though it is not ideal in many ways right now, its not going poorly enough to push me to the internal angst that makes me determined to capture the internal sensations in written word. And if I am not writing something that feels right, I don't want to write it at all.

The truth is, I am in a bit of a holding pattern, just holding still to see what the world is going to usher in. The new job really does get a little bit better every day. It has some aspects of sales to it, which I thoroughly am enjoying and doing well with. I still feel angry though when I think about the new job. I am resisting letting myself settle in. I think to some extent forevermore I will struggle with things that happen beyond my control. I seem to have an unspoken internal belief that I have punched that card, hit the life time maximum, so to speak. The universe apparently has other ideas. I would plead my case if I knew where to direct my irritation.

Revisitation of my grief has cycled around anew. Joseph's absence is like a wound that festers internally and occasionally comes to the surface once more to show itself. I miss him so much sometimes that I would swear something physical were wrong with me. It gives me chest pain. I have been crying in the car a lot, doing a lot of thoughtful, conscious yearning for him. I find myself frequently afraid inside...fearful of th swift passage of time, fearful of Nick and Alex aging. Fearful of my own aging. I feel intensely OLD inside. I am not joking when I say I am constantly discovering anew that I am only 38 years old. I think of myself in much older terms. I see someone without youth when I look in the mirror or at pictures recently taken of myself. I am suddenly obsessed with reading the labels on skin care products, though admit I have not crossed over from my usual pragmatism into insanity enough to actually purchase any as yet. But I walk around in a near constant state of a knowledge that life will soon be over. I suppose if my outlook were not so guarded and cautious right now, this could be a time of fantastical personal growth. Maybe it still is, just not in necessarily a good way. There lingers within a fear of my own shadow, a desire to huddle into my family. I am disturbed by my own moderate nature just now. I am used to being a woman of somewhat powerful emotional extremes and this internal lack of give-a-shit is either really, really healthy or really, really not. I just can't find myself interested in debating whether or not Obama is doing a good job. I don't seem to summon any massive emotional response to anything going on in the world now, steeped as I am completely in the sense that things tend to turn out exactly as they are going to. I continue to be remarkably unafraid of death but yet conversely massively fearful of suffering. And I struggle against a sorrow that I have gotten so old so fast, that I will never talk to Joseph again in this lifetime in any language that makes easy sense to me. My missing of him is intense and clingy. It wraps around me and carries me along with it. I put it here, I tuck it there, keeping it neat and tidy and mostly out of my way. But its there, on my person, and seems to have a mind of its own as to when or whether it pokes its head out and touches me. My sorrow continues to be tinged by intense colors of guilt as well, for his suffering, for his death. For things I failed to do as a mother. I try hard to just let these thoughts happen without judgement or prevention, but it is difficult. The grief is more intense now than ever, yet more manageable. It is familiar. I am lonely inside and often caught somewhere between feeling unsure, afraid and resigned. Sometimes I feel incredibly motivated and full of energy for a life, my life, which is not yet oppposite of the other....the feeling of falling away, of looking through frosted glass at the lives of others buzzing onward, oblivious and busy, of being tucked outside of the world. Grief is a lonely, lonely road. I try to be graceful within it and believe I am most of the time. I no longer even want to rage at the world. But I do note the pale distance that is there between myself and those who have never known real tragedy. Usually it is breached simply by letting it be there. But sometimes it rears up and yawns in my face. Three paces removed, all this space between me and everyone else. I can still hear them, see them, even touch them. I wish I could understand and control then why it feels so different and so far.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Baby You're Not Lost

Its interesting how in time, after enough losses, the unresolved or just intense emotions about one bleeds readily into another. Yesterday was just a hard day all the way around. I think its finally sunk in that I am not going back to my old job. Its hard to go from a position where I was sure of myself, well liked, respected in my craft and in general competent, confident, well compensated and happy day after day back to a place where I am not as well compensated, not as confident, certainly not yet respected or even necessarily well liked and most definitely not comfortable. I am ashamed to report my frustration and grief welled up at one point yesterday and I teared up at work. I am one of those people who never cry in front of others if she can help it. Which is not to say I don't break down. I just in general tend to save that for solitude. Nobody gets anything from it but me. In any case, I was mortified that my frustration at being two weeks into this job and still not up to speed boiled up and dripped down my face and off my nose.

Today was better, partly because I squared my shoulders and resolved it was going to be, partly because the family is starting to get excited about Ben's upcoming wedding next week and the fact that we are all once again coming together for a celebration. I can't wait to go on that trip. My anticipation helps me to underline that work is not the only source of happiness or satisfaction in life. I am more than my job. And if one aspect of my life is not ideal, the others are still there, just as good, just as fulfilling. I need to be more mindful of what things I pay attention to and what I allow to roll off my back or go by unnoticed. I think I have had a few things backward for a few weeks now. Good to feel myself wake up a bit. All it took was the mortification of letting someone else see me cry in frustration. I certainly don't want to repeat that little episode. Gah.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Back to Center

I do not want the weekend to end. The world has evolved and changed so much over the past month. Can it be a month already since I was laid off from Cooper Clinic? My life looks and tastes strange to me since the New Year, when everything seemed to toss up into the air and fall willy nilly out of place, leaving us to pick through the punctuation points, like putting a room back to rights after a minor earthquake. This weekend felt more like home, more like us, and going back to the strangeness is a reluctant undertaking. I am sure more and more time will pass and with it more and more assimilation will be made until the abnormal again feels normal. I have done it enough times in my life to know, like it or not, normalcy will come.

It has been a good weekend. The sun coming out today welcomed in a bright finish to a reconnecting in my household that was needed. Saturday started out rather grim. Alexander is getting bigger, a fact that I somewhat consciously tend to look away from. I am not ready for his dimples to charm the face of a young man instead of a boy and I struggle against the changing planes of his rapidly maturing features and demeanor. He comes out of bed in the morning less often for a snuggle and kisses and more often with a simple "Hi" as he plunks to the floor nearby. He made my shit-list by proceeding to headbutt me instead of kissing my cheek when I tapped my request with a fingertip, bruising my ego and motherly feelings far more than my cheekbone, though that too hurt from the unexpected assault. A stern lecture later lead to tears on his part, leaving me crabby and dark for the most of the day. I spent it in a dervish of cleaning and laundry, but the moodiness never really left me. A fourth day of gray spittle did nothing to help me elevate and I altered between annoyance at all around me and annoyance at myself for my fussiness. Its the kind of thing that haunts later on when life takes unexpected turns and I dislike myself mightily when I give in to it. Its honestly been a long, long time since I have.

Things got better later in the day; Joe took me out for a while to shop for books and run some errands. We've not had a lot of unstructured time alone lately due to circumstances of grief camp and school, so socializing together in a romantic way (well, romantic for US anyway) elevated both of our moods. We checked out the library in Allen for the first time since moving here and that seemed to pull from long memories deep in the past when Mom took me as a girl in the summer time, every two weeks like clockwork. Something in my soul just lets down in the presence of books; the smell alone has a soothing effect on me and I came home settled and happier. I made chicken parmesan for our family dinner along with lemon-steamed broccoli. I noted that its also hard to be a grump when three men are singing your praises and filling their bellies with gusto. I impressed myself by managing to make chocolate chip pecan oatmeal cookies while also cooking dinner, and we finished up the evening watching Nim's Island (a truly bad, bad film. Shame on Jodi Foster for accepting the role) as a family and nibbling fresh cookies together. Of course, Joe and I spent a good part of the movie pantomiming different ways to off ourselves as we struggled to stay in the family spirit. The boys enjoyed the film quite a bit. I think imagination and editing abilities of youth are far more forgiving. I don't do as well with whimsy as I used to. Despite the film's suckdom, the day ended much better than it began and by the time I dropped the boys off at their dad's again this afternoon life seemed right again and joyful. The sun came out and Joe took me down to Northpark Mall to buy henna for my hair and browsed around with me awhile. All the spring fashions are coming out, something that I always find energizing. We came home to our books and each other, opened a decent bottle of wine (Frei Brothers Reserve 2006), made spanish rice and a tri-tip on the grill and fell into the somewhat lately-lost routine of counting our blessings and enjoying the gift of companionable silence. It leaves me reluctant to brave the world again tomorrow, but at least I know I can always come back here to this place, where my kids are content, I have emotional equilibrium and a man who draws smiles from me of all kinds.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Ready to Go

Stewart, the boys and I are leaving tomorrow to spend the weekend together at Camp Sol, a grief support group for families who have suffered the death of a child. We went last year and it was intense, draining and healing. In a sense, I kind of dread it, but mostly, I am anticipating it. I am ready. I have not had a lot of energy to spare for my memories these last two months and very little time dedicated to quiet introspection. Though most of this weekend will be about the kids, the camp we go to is isolated and lush with forestry. I am looking forward to it and hoping for time to just be alone. I seem to be craving that more than anything of late. The world, when it changes, changes so fast.

I have had frequent and vivid dreams of Joseph over the last few weeks. I alway awaken yearning to stay asleep, to remain with him a little bit longer. Whether the dreams are visits from his spirit or simply my own mind's internal focus on him doesn't matter. It is healing, spiritually connecting. I don't feel I can do justice to what it is my heart about him right now. My urge to write in any kind of an eloquent fashion is going through a quiet spell. I don't feel the drive to it and when I try to force it, it kicks back at me.

I am not drowning in sorrow. If anything I have an inner sensation of being quite rich with memories, and wanting some time to count them and relive them. I am missing him and ready to let go of the world for a while, to have this one weekend a year when my only real responsibility is to honor his memory and savor Nick and Alex. I am so overwhelmed with the burden of worry and angst pervading the world. I fret to no end about unemployment rates and my portfolio balance, which continues to decline at an alarming rate. The new job is going well, with very good people giving me every opportunity and benefit of the doubt and the very nature of the work speaking to some of my own strongest personality points. Its a good fit. But I continue to mourn my old job and to feel out of place at the new one. Tomorrow I will have completed my first week. I hope my second one finds me feeling more organized and efficient and doing a little more and having to seek clarification a little bit less.

I am ready to head out of town and into the solace, the quiet of nature.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Fish Out of Water

I made it through the first day, though I confess it was a LONG one. I like the office and the girls working there. I like the Dad doctor. I will meet the son tonight at their weight loss surgery seminar, which they do every two weeks. I may be at those on a regular basis or I may not. It depends on how they decide to finalize my compensation as either salary or hourly. I am just kind of letting them work that all out. There are three other women working in the office. It is a very small but very profitable practice and they are like a family. All of them have been there quite a long time, so for them to be as open and relaxed with me as they are is truly impressive to me. I would think bringing in a stranger to a mix that has worked well would be a little bit unnerving for them. I think they just have really needed the help badly. All of them are extremely devoted to the physicians they work for, which is good to see. Not a nasty word whispered about either of them or about one another. They don't, however, have a clue about how to get a new employee up to speed, nor do they even have a desk really available for me yet. We'll be moving to a new office in Plano toward the end of this month, so I don't see that being remedied until then. They must have told me five times throughout the day how glad they are I was there, which was nice. By the end of the day I was going a little stir crazy from just sitting and watching, so I helped prompt them to think of some things I could actually do now to start getting things caught up, and I took the initiative to actually answer and begin to learn the phone, which seemed to either freak them out or thrill them, I am not sure which. I think it will take some time for them to trust me even though I have been doing this for a very long time. That's pretty understandable.

I could never get them to officially "show me around". Turns out that is because there is nothing to show! There's a waiting room, a front desk area, one exam room, one work room, two bathrooms and two physician's personal offices. That's pretty small on the scale that I have become accustomed to, but what I found the most odd and interesting is that there is no break room. No coffee! I will have to get a fairly large travel mug or do my sipping prior to leaving for the day. The floor plan for the new office doesn't show a break room either. Everyone eats lunch together clustered around the front desk. One of the nicest perks I have ever seen though is that the physicians buy us lunch from the hospital cafeteria downstairs every single day. Every day. That's impressive! That benefit will go away probably when we move to the new office as there will be no hospital downstairs to do it at. But it will be nice while it lasts. So I had a delectable plank of catfish for lunch along with grilled veggies and came home to find Joe had bought some Chilean sea bass to make me for dinner along with lime-steamed veggies. It was odd not to be in touch with him all day long. His hug when I got home was so welcome. I feel so out of place in my life right now. Nothing feels firm, secure or sure. Nothing. I feel a bit like I am stepped off to the side and watching how things play out. The depth of fear in the news about the economy continues to affect me and to affect Joe. I am glad right now we didn't sell the house. We purchased this one very modestly compared to what we could actually afford and it seems like a really good thing now given the way the world is turning and will continue to for some time to come.

Driving to the new position was hard yesterday morning. I should not be complaining, and honestly, I'm not, more just acknowledging what's going on inside me in hopes that looking at it can help it along its natural path to resolution. I just got in such a funk on that drive, back toward an area of town so different from where I had been with Cooper. Polar opposites really. This office is at a hospital in a far more economically depressed area, and it was never really pretty. Its even less so now. People's faces are tense and suspicious rather than open and confident. I knew as I drove I would have to find a way to put all of the internal sadness away. I was thinking about the girls I used to work with and how close we were, how much fun we had, thinking about how much I didn't want to be doing this. There's nothing wrong with my new job. They are fantastic people and I think it is going to be a very good fit. Its just the sensation of having been forced into it, of not having a choice I think. Its a loss. I am frankly a little startled at the depth of my yearning for my "old life", which was intact just two weeks ago. I know it will pass and I will adjust. I think it just kind of peaked as I pulled into the parking lot and turned off the engine and just sat there with glumness descending. I did a Joe trick and built a little box in my head and envisioned putting all that weary sadness into it and told myself I can come back and open that box up at any time, but that right now I need to close it and put it aside. That it will keep, but it would and will not do for these people who gave me these opportunity, who were excited for me to join their team, to think I am depressed because I work for them. That isn't professional and I do pride myself on being good at my craft and happy in what I do. In any case, its not accurate. I am actually really excited to get out from behind a computer screen and to have more daily interaction with other people and patients. I love that and chose this position because of that.

Everyone in the new office wears scrubs, but it is not a requirement. I wore business clothing yesterday. I actually just got rid of all my scrubs to Goodwill a couple of months ago. Go figure. I hate scrubs with a passion. They don't look good on anyone and look even worse on me. I am pear shaped and they are always ten miles too big on top and then shamefully tight around my hips and rear. They get faded so quickly too. Its like wearing pajamas to work. But I have to admit, I am wondering if I should cave in and get some again. I would fit in better with the environment of my new office even if I look like a giant pea (or grape or marshmallow or lime, all depending on what colors I buy of course). I am losing weight and scrubs are relatively adjustable. I would actually need to buy new clothes less often if I have five or six pair of adjustable waist scrubs. When we all went down to get lunch yesterday I felt conspicuous in the clickety clack of my kitten heels while everyone else trucked along silently in their tennis shoes and I had trouble keeping up due to fear of falling on the polished hospital floors. I suppose I could get some scrubs and on days I felt like it, I could wear business clothes instead.

I am sure this is just scintillating to read about.

So for a fish out of water, I had fish twice yesterday. Today feels marginally less uncertain and I at least have an idea of how the day is going to go. I do really like the people I am going to work with and am excited to get in there and get my nose into the nitty gritty of the position, which is going to require a degree of patience. I look forward to the seminar tonight and meeting the son physician of the father/son team.

Monday, March 2, 2009

A new beginning. Again.

I don't think I came back to report here that I got the job and that I am starting today. Its a good thing. I know it is. And I am excited about the position, working with bariatric surgery patients. But I dreamed last night that I went in to the Cooper Clinic again to work, and that my office area had been turned into a day care center, so I sat down in there. Nobody had any kids to bring but someone brought in a ferret, so I spent the morning playing with it, until I suddenly realized I was in the wrong place and was five hours late for my new job, and I panicked. I am in mourning I suppose. The rapid turn around to new employment is obviously a good thing, both in terms of salvaging my battered self esteem and in financial terms. But I feel breathless from how fast my life again has changed. This is the most nervous I have ever felt about going into a new place and establishing myself. I think all the major life changes have caught up with me somewhat. I am feeling uncertain and shy...not normal for me. The new job is across the street from the position I left to accept the position at Cooper, so it feels like I just kind of made a detour somehow and wound up going in circles.

Joe and I spent the weekend in San Antonio to celebrate new employment. It was different from our usual vacationing. We did the partying we like to do, but we also had long hours of quiet time just reading and being side by side. We always like to read, but for me at least, it had a feeling of just....breathing. In. Breathing out. There was no electric sense of anticipation or "I can't believe we're HERE!" that I have known in the past. It was more solid, more about Joe and me, less about where we were or what we could do while we were there. We drank and ate a little too much, laughing loud, sang baudy songs and did a LOT of walking. A young couple got married on Saturday evening right beneath our sixth floor window overlooking Romance Island on the Riverwalk and I wept a little bit even though I don't know them. We ate truffles and drank fine wine and watched their simple little ceremony from our very elegant view. Their celebration looked to consist of about 30 family members and the bride and groom's own children. They had a Mariachi band playing and it was so festive and yet, to me, haunting, yearning. We talked about it a little bit. Its a dream I probably had better just put away forever now. It made me sad. One of the only areas in our wonderful life where we are completely polarized.

Friday evening we spent at a really fun bar with dueling pianos called Howl at the Moon after spending the afternoon at a Mexican restaurant right on the river, drinking margaritas, nibbling on nachos and feeding the adorable ducks that were everywhere. It was as fun to people watch as anything. The entertainment at Howl At The Moon was fantastic. I could not help but notice we "old" people were all having more fun than the younger ones, who seemed very concerned with looking cool. That is, until they drank too much and then had to dance on (and fall off)the stage. By the time we left we were tipsy and giggly, skipping into the McDonald's across the street from the hotel for a late night bag of burgers and fries and took them upstairs to eat with a bottle of fine wine, peppered with plenty of snuggling and kisses. It was as perfect as it gets.

I was melancholy to leave yesterday and it lingers with me today, mostly in the form of anxiety about starting my new job. I spent yesterday evening with two of my best friends and a photographer having pictures of us taken, which was also a great time. I have school tonight, so it will be a full day. Hopefully I will get my lab practical back and hopefully I did as well as I feel like I did.