I am thankful 8/18/2013

For music. As a rule there has been very little music in my life. Three and a half years ago I posted about not singing enough, and the well-intentioned reassuring comments made me realize that it was worse than I thought. The fact that others couldn’t comprehend how completely absent music was from my life made it clear that I was not living well in this way. That has largely remained true, though it is 10,000 times better now thanks to living in an area where I am blessed routinely with wonderful music at church.

Recently I have taken to playing songs on youtube through our TV since that has better speakers than the computer and we have nothing specifically designed to play music. Unsurprisingly but still unexpectedly, this has increased my happiness tremendously. I have finally given myself permission to be completely naive with music not only because it is best to live with the truth, but also because maybe, just maybe, humans are meant to enjoy many types of music, and being a music snob is inherently unhelpful for most of us. Yeah, yeah, ask me about Country Music later. I didn’t say that I like everything, just that I’m trying to get over any pretense of being a connoisseur of fine music or some such thing.

Eden’s Bridge – Sanctus
This is an old favorite from my teens when I had two of their CDs.

str8voices – Far over the misty mountains cold – Hobbit Soundtrack

This is the first I’ve heard from this group and wow.

Anastasia- At The Beginning
Another favorite from my early teens. I had it on tape. Yup. I always thought that if I were to get married it would be fantastic to marry someone with whom I’d be happy to go through life endlessly. And no, I hadn’t seen the movie. Instead I’d read a huge biography of the Romanovs that included a few pictures like this. But still, loved the song.

J.S. Bach – Complete sonatas for violon & obbligato harpsichord Rachel Podger Trevor Pinnock

I’ve been listening to hours worth of sonatas since I discovered that putting in that one little word could lead to hours worth of lovely music per selection. I found out last week that Josh hates the harpsichord (what?!!) so I’ve been listening to this while he is traveling for his brother’s wedding. Not sure that the harpsichord or Bach balances out missing significant family events, but I’ll take what I can get!

The Hobbit – Concerning Hobbits(Dubstep)
Josh says that this is the best dubstep ever, though he isn’t entirely pleased with the mutilation of one of his favorite songs.

Celine Dion – The first time ever I saw your face
I’ve long loved about 90% of Celine’s music and will continue to insist that if you can’t appreciate her at all that, well, your life could be better. Interestingly enough this is one of the few songs that I didn’t appreciate from her All the Way CD that I borrowed from my sister from maybe 200-2004. But recently rediscovering it I wonder how I could have missed it before. Age or something?

Avalon – I Don’t Want To Go (legendado)
Another long-lost favorite form my teens. I happened to sit down on the couch while this version was playing and thought the images chosen were ridiculous. Then I kept watching and laughed at myself for watching the entire thing.

P!nk – Just Give Me A Reason ft. Nate Ruess
This one deserves its own post. The first time I heard it on the radio I had a rare response of finding it to be perfect. I confess that until someone pointed it out I didn’t pay enough attention to the odd video to even notice that her husband is in it.

Any suggestions for what I should listen to next?

Old and Familiar

Y’all, I need some information on marriage.

This is one of those super-annoying posts that seems to be directed at married people, but containing questions probably best answered by single people with open eyes. :-)

What exactly do you do to get to that point where everything is old and familiar?

I read just about everything about marriage before I got married, so I know that at a certain point you are supposed to feel all cozy and comfy and fully informed about everything without ever trying. People talk about this right after they talk about the spark being gone. They say that it is so much better than anything else, even if they do miss the zing! of the early days.

They way in which people talk about this frequently sounds very sad in a sour grapesish sort of way, but the underlying concept of familiarity and comfort sounds lovely.

In some ways I suppose that I have always had this, this comfort. One of the things that stunned me about Josh was how instantly comfortable I was with him. I was not a physically affectionate person–and the entirety of our physical contact at that point was shaking hands–but I could have melted into him if only I had been able to come up with a sufficiently good explanation.

Our relationship also shows signs of familiarity in the sense of efficiency. We still have precisely the same fights as always, but it now takes us about 1/10th of the time that it used to to work through the same fights when we were dating and engaged. Now that I think about it, it is rather stupid that we don’t fight more since we’re now so good at going through everything so quickly and passionately!

Recently I have been beyond grateful that we have had the chance to understand each other well enough that we can communicate quickly and precisely in times of crisis. So I suppose that I do know Josh well in some ways.

But. But we don’t have, or at least I don’t have that old and familiar thing that everyone talks about. I am beginning to suspect that it is not simply a matter of time as some have implied. Or perhaps it is a matter of time, but the amount of time is highly variable? Or perhaps it is time, but only in the sense that time is required to undergo the experiences required to gain this worn comfort?

Of course I am not really complaining. I suppose that in some ways I need the underlying awareness of not completely knowing Josh, the nagging otherness, the alertness that comes from knowing that I don’t know. I can’t really believe that I am doing anything wrong when I am so much happier being married than any other married woman I know.

Yet. Yet I would like to know what it is that I am missing. It may not be possible to have it all, but more information is better, right?

What do you think about relationships, familiarity, contempt and comfort? Is marriage unique in this case, or just one variation of closeness that applies to all friendships? Should I just make Josh sit down and tell me everything about himself?

Thoughts on Anger

Sometimes I think that the more I feel, the less I understand others’ feelings.

I have known for at least a few years that I do not “get” anger in the way most of my peers seem to experience it. Anger only makes sense to me under very specific circumstances (involving, among other things, the sense that one rightly expected better) and those circumstances rarely occur in my life. I have generally found that angry adults in real life are immature and it is best to remove oneself from the situation until they can calm down enough to have some chance of possibly communicating.

Since I remove myself from anger in person, my main opportunity to understand it comes from reading blog posts etc. That has never worked. Instead of “getting” it, I have sometimes had to reread multiple times to realize that someone is serious and not writing a parody of others who respond like petulant 4-year-olds rather than someone old enough to handle getting what they want, never mind deal maturely with situations they do not like.

Imagine my surprise when I found myself angry last week.

Since irony is the only way to be (don’t correct that line, it needs to rhyme more than it needs to be grammatically correct!) I found myself angry with a situation facilitated by someone whose anger I was not able to understand mere weeks before. In her anger she tried to reach out and inadvertently (perfectly innocently, I imagine) created something incredibly self-centered and quite likely harmful to others.

And I was angry. I carefully explained to Josh just how wrong the whole situation was. I could tell that he did not “get” it. He said that he expected such things and that adults should expect to be hurt in such situations, so what was the problem?

I wrote an email to a friend. I justified it by including details that would help her not make similar mistakes. And then I made myself deal with the fact that there was no chance that she would make these mistakes anyway, and that I was clearly angry and trying to share my anger with someone who might respond with more sympathy than Josh’s blasted maturity. That was far more pathetic than ironic, so I stopped myself and just thought about the layers of emotion and what was going on with me. People mess up. Good-hearted people plan things that hurt others. This is typical. Why was I expecting more? Why was I… oh, wait. That was it. I was expecting that the anger of others would cause them to not do the very things that aroused their anger.

But anger does not work that way. Anger blinds us to all reality beyond the burning within ourselves. Anger can be channeled in such a way that the passion is productive rather than destructive, but it is still the productivity of soldiers who burn an entire village down in order to stop terrorists. Of course you can be angry without burning down villages, but I have never seen someone carefully rebuild a village while anger rages on inside of her.

And for the briefest moment, I understood.

I deleted the draft email. I am not angry anymore. I do not know when I will be angry again, but I hope that the next time I am filled with rage I will immediately be filled with loving pity for those who experience this emotion frequently.

It turns out that there are many things I do not want to understand. I would so, so much rather help than understand.

Not on not apologizing (or ewwww, gross!)

I was going to apologize for my casual reference to panic attacks in my past post. I was going to explain that I did not mean to reduce the very real suffering of people who actually struggle with them.  I was going to explain that while I have only had one panic attack in my life, it was enough for me to know that it is silly to talk as if one can simply choose to not have them, and then perhaps I would explain why I was being silly in that post.

But it was so much easier to simply take the post down.

I so love “easier” these days!

On Saturday I went for my first real run in half a year.  Well, “run” may not be the best term, since it was a very hilly 5k.  I learned a year and a half ago that running on hills, especially down hills, is a good way for me to get stress fractures. So until I lose enough weight, I walk on hills. I ran enough on the flat parts to keep my sister in view.  She was not feeling the best, so we coasted in around 35 minutes. I was so very proud of myself for completing my first training run of 2013 without injuring myself. Josh completed his fastest 5k ever despite the hills and not feeling well, but he was not even aware of his past paces enough to know this. Good thing he has me to make him focus on important things in life.

On Sunday morning I got lost in time trying to reorganize our closet (having stuff is bad, FYI) and was quite shocked when Josh told me that it was time to leave for church an hour earlier than I was anticipating. In the afternoon we walked the Billy Goat Trail and I may have spent the entire time teasing my sister about how it is the last bit of nature that she will get to see since she is leaving soon for the city. And no, DC does not count as a city. If it did, Josh would not let us live here.

It was a lovely day, and everything was fine other than the random sharp shooting pains in my chest. What’s up with that?

I woke up at 3:00 am again, and was almost a little disappointed with myself as I realized that my stomach was less than happy. Am I really doing this 3:00 thing routinely to prove my doctor’s point or something?

I almost smiled when the vomit came within seconds of me standing up to go to the blessedly close bathroom. Aha! This was much more like food poisoning than the result of poorly managed emotions. So much for my thoughts about how I like to take responsibility and admit mistakes, I much preferred to have physically worse pain that I could attribute to eating something stupid rather than being emotionally immature.

In the morning I asked myself WWMFD? As I vomited some more and pondered whether to go to work. This was my first flu-like situation in 3 years, and I could not even keep tea down. But, what if I were sick every day? If I knew that I were going to have a week like this, would I stay home for the entire week? Certainly not.

So I went to work, spoke with the appropriate superior from the appropriate distance, officially called in sick while still in the building, and completed my commute home. Clearly I’d never survive in Margaret’s world, but I managed my entire round-trip commute without vomiting! I am so awesome.

It seems that everyone is in so much pain today.  Since I have fallen behind with twitter and blog reading I discovered weeks worth of pain as if were all today, which, in a sense, it is.

As my fever rages on, I fear that I find it to be a useful diversion from the rest of the world. And it is bad when you use sickness as a way to hide from pain, right?

I am sorry world. I love you, and I am so very sorry.


If You’re Not Trying To Avoid, You’re Trying To Achieve

There is a common canard in certain NFP circles that goes like this: if you’re not trying to avoid, you are trying to achieve.

I understand why this is taught in the context where it protects an organization and serves to enhance the reputation of NFP as truly reliable for those who are absolutely determined to do what it takes to avoid pregnancy.

The problem is that this simply is not true in reality. I can come up with many, many thought experiments where it is impossible for an objective outsider to declare whether a couple is seeking to achieve or avoid pregnancy. But instead of sharing those, I offer instead the situations of three women I know in real life.

Woman One: wishes very much to become pregnant. She and her husband have (randomly timed) sex about once a month, sometimes less. She menstruated 6 or 7 times last year and is not pursuing any reproductive healthcare.

Woman Two: does not expect to become pregnant for another year or so. In addition to having regular cycles, she knows her body exceptionally well. If cycle day 7 happens to fall on a Saturday, then she and her husband might have sex on cycle days 7 & 8 and then abstain until the evening of peak + 1 or +2, depending upon how certain she feels that cycle.

Woman Three: is not quite certain of her own intentions. She would be happy to be pregnant, but it is not an appropriate time for several reasons. Then again, she is well aware that it may never be an appropriate time. She also knows that she has short luteal phases and that achieving pregnancy could be difficult, if not impossible, so she is glad that she is not trying to become pregnant.

According to some people, all three of these women are “trying to achieve” pregnancy. In reality, Woman One is not doing the basics of what she knows would have to happen to make pregnancy at all likely. She is not trying to achieve anything, she is simply hoping. Woman Two is absolutely avoiding pregnancy, she just is not using a 99% effective approach to avoiding pregnancy because she does not need a 99% effective method. Woman Three most likely vacillates back and forth between seeking to avoid or achieve pregnancy depending upon how she feels during a particular cycle.

The truth is that the only person who can know whether a woman is trying to avoid or achieve pregnancy is the woman herself. Everything else is just a matter of behavior making pregnancy more or less likely. And when it comes to behavior and statistically likely outcomes, you have to consider each case–each day–on its own merits.

When we spew logical absurdities such as declaring that failure to avoid perfectly is the same as intention to achieve, we set ourselves up for fair accusations that NFP is about nothing more than control. And after that there is not much more to do than to start selling diet materials based on the idea that if you’re not trying to lose weight, you’re trying to gain it. Something tells me that just isn’t going to sell well.

Thoughts on Some Costs of Pursuing Healthcare

As I walked home the other evening I noticed a long line of people waiting for dinner, a meal which was provided by a charity that figured significantly into our giving last year. It was a perfect reminder that I needed to reinstate the automatic monthly donation. But how much? The last few months of 2012 were rather, um, tight financially. We had setup automatic giving based on me working, and counted the cost when deciding that it was best for me to leave work. But then more personal giving was needed, and it was a challenge.

I rely heavily on mint.com to keep track of everything, especially while numbers have been so close. As I look away from the homeless man in front of me, I can picture the graphs telling me that there is no money left for January. I think ahead to the upcoming months, and what expenditures can be cut. Everything from now until May seems so essential. Well, not everything. I know that there is more if I pull from the extra spaces where pad so much in the name of health. I do not yet know whether we will owe taxes, but assuming that is not an issue, there is money that can be diverted to giving.

Last time I went to the pro-life medical practice it cost us over $200 in direct costs and immediate loss of income. It was covered by my excellent health insurance, but there was the co-pay, transportation, and the cost of lost time at work, and ultimately the prescription co-pays as well.

Josh was employed as a contract worker at the time, and not only was it stressful for him to fall behind on his work, there was no way that he could make up the hours in terms of compensation. But there was also no way that I could make the appointment useful without Josh being there, because I had previously proven my inability to communicate with the doctor. For instance, the doctor would ask how many hours I slept a night, and I would tell her my time in bed without thinking to mention that I was waking up multiple times a night, especially during the phase where she had me on Prometrium. And then there was the fact that I absolutely stink at pushing any issue with a doctor if my thoughts are rejected at first.

It was very helpful to have Josh there, but I did not enjoy the irony that it simply resulted in a prescription for the pill–something I already had sitting around unused from another doctor.

Josh now has a far better job, a job with more responsibilities and more stress. It is also the first time that Josh has had health insurance since we got married, and there are several medical appointments that he needs for himself. If Josh has to go to the doctor with me one month, it will mean that he delays healthcare for himself by another month in order to not miss more time at work.

If I cannot get things together enough to go to doctors appointments etc. on my own, then it simply is not worth the cost to Josh’s time and health.

The next morning I hurried to get ready so that I could head to work at the same time as Josh. As we walked, he talked about exciting things related to his job. Suddenly I stopped listening to what Josh was saying long enough to think about the fact that he was talking. About his life. We have many things that we have to talk about, and if I were actively pursuing healthcare then we would most likely have been talking about that in this little bit of extra time together. There is only so much space to share so many things. As things are now, there is time for Josh to include me in parts of his life that do not directly involve me. But we must budget time as much as money, and I cannot simultaneously talk with Josh about my health issues and listen to him talk about work.

I have been extremely exhausted for the past two weeks. It is, however, not entirely lacking a rather obvious explanation: I have not been sleeping well. I am the epitome of the Princess and the Pea. There were several things that disrupted my sleep, and most of them could be remedied simply by spending money. We have already spent quite enough on that though. It is nothing short of ridiculous to direct resources toward optimizing my comfort in sleep when there are others who do not even have a safe place to sleep.

We can not have everything. This is one of the most basic facts of life. Complete health is just one of many things that is invaluable, yet not always worth pursuing to the exclusion of everything else.

I am thankful 2/10/2013

For friends who choose hope, even–or perhaps especially–when it is painful.

For sister humor. I found out this evening that my sisters have something of a family meme going on. Think Kim Jong Un looking at things… and replace it with Rae’s Mom texting everywhere. It totally explains why she thinks that her children are not especially responsive to texts. We can’t keep up with her texts… so we look at pictures of her texting instead?

For daily mass. I’ve only had to miss it once since being back at work. I’m not totally sure why, but it just makes me happy.

For not having to think about marriage. I get that I don’t get marriage, and that that is a shame. But what is not a shame is that I get to not have to get marriage. Sometimes living is much better than understanding.


Grief Unobserved

There have been times when I have felt a connection. There have been times when I have known things that I really had no way to know. There have been times when I saw that another person felt uncannily understood, and I felt embarrassed by the intensity of the connection.

There have been times when I dreamed a dream that filled me with the most profound pain or shame. I have watched as these dreams came to pass outside of my mind, only for someone else rather than for me.

There have been times when I have felt so much for others that I was overwhelmed and almost unable to carry on.

And there have been things that I have never fully felt for myself.

Sometimes I remember. Perhaps it is more true to say that always I remember. Sometimes though, I see. I see the grief unobserved, unheld, unmarked, unmarred by my meager methods of processing such things.

I know, with the same knowledge that I have others’ lives, that this is something which must be felt. And it is. Yet it is not.

I feel, but I feel with a peculiar understanding of another’s pain. I do not know why it is not my own pain. I do not know why it does not overwhelm. I do not know why it exists with such strength, but somehow fails to demand its proper due.

Perhaps there are some things that must simply be lived out. Is it possible that there is some pain too profound to ever fully feel? I do not know.

There are some things which I do not wish to make myself feel, because I do not wish to sully them with the melodrama of self-indulgent grief. Besides, what am I supposed to do? Sit down and order myself to grieve properly? Some things must happen in their own way.

I accept all of this. Yet sometimes I see it there–like a ghost seen out of the corner of one’s eye, which can be ignored only for so long–and I wonder whether there is not something very precarious about a grief unobserved.


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