Real Life is Lifing…

As the kids would say…

And I’m officially living a life that’s more real than anything I’ve encountered so far. I’m journaling more than usual, remembering my dreams less but still listening to music all the time. I finished a book (The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry) I didn’t expect to read a few days ago, a book I would never have read if not for my childhood TV fave, Claire Danes. It’s strange how one can escape the pain and confusion of present day in the pain and confusion of a bygone era. It’s safer I guess. The book is written. Based on the Apple TV series I already knew pretty much where the story was headed and what it was really about.

My husband and I closed on our first home the beginning of 2022. My mom moved in with us a few weeks ago and is settling in nicely. I find myself in a new position of caretaker and personal shopper, and I’m not quite sure how I feel about it or even if it’s important how I feel. I just do. Because I have to. It does feel very satisfying when I can find things from my mom that she wants and needs. I’ve mostly gotten over that feeling of panic I get when I feel like I’m going to disappoint. Because I never want to disappoint anyone I love or even like. But I’m the hardest on myself when I “fail” myself. My husband is just the greatest with me. He really is. And for him, because he is patient and tolerant and endlessly helpful with me, I try harder not to be an a-hole. I try to temper my dripping sarcasm which is just compensation for being lousy with uncertainty and fear of facing the unknown.

I still have a weird hybrid work schedule that allows for some flexibility I really am grateful for. The world is in a tailspin of denial about Covid and it’s variants, the cost of which will not show up in concrete numbers until the Winter. And generally the country/world is up against the threat of an urgent climate emergency, unprocessed collective trauma, mass shootings, and an effort to back pedal into the dark ages to name just a fraction of our collective challenges.

Unmasked white men ask if they can “squeeze in” between me and others during daily commutes and I feel assaulted in a way unsolicited requests to smile from street strangers never have.

I made a list of things yesterday that ground me. Things I didn’t have to think about but which I know I enlist to immediately bring me to some center, peace and a sense of stability.

Music – It’s magic still works on me the same as it has since I was a girl. And there’s always more to discover. I will never hear it all and that fact baths me in relief and soothing, excitement and inspiration. Music is the free thing that contains an endless multitude of worlds and universes to access and they can lead you to places within that cannot be discovered any other way.

Skincare -In the morning but more so at night when I’m unwinding, my skincare routine continues to be the thing I do no matter what is happening in my head. It is the constant daily ritual I never skip. I’m usually playing music while I go through my steps. It’s probably the only time in my day when I’m fully conscious that I’m caring for myself and myself is grateful for it. An excuse to touch, wash, cleanse, exfoliate, rinse, massage, slather and apply to my skin lovingly, gently.

Reading -I used to be an avid bookworm. Reading was my first love, my first teacher outside of my parental instruction. Much like music, it helped me to escape, to discover, to understand, to broaden my understanding of differences, to travel and explore, to connect. I haven’t been reading in print anywhere near as much as I used to but while reading “The Essex Serpent,” I was surprised to remember how easy it is for me to disappear and forget the world outside while entering a strange, raw, muddy, foggy, tough but beautiful coastal landscape in the Victorian age. To be able to disappear into a book. I haven’t done it in a while, let alone in a book by a writer outside of my small cannon of favorite writers. And I needed it like a shapeshifter forced to remain in one version of itself for too long.

WTF with Marc Maron-I love listening to podcasts, and there are several that I love but none that I’ve listened to as long as WTF. Maron is raw. Maron is funny. He’s got problems and knows it and doesn’t pretend to something he’s not. He lays it all out and I continue to appreciate that. I root for his happiness even though he’s not good at being happy. He shares so much personally with his audience that it’s hard not to feel like we know him intimately. He’s taken care of cats most of his life and the two that remain with him play such a defining role in his life that they spill over into his show merchandise and comedy tour branding. Sometimes I’ll just listen to his opening monologue if I’m not interested in the person he’s interviewing because I just like hearing his take on things, even if I don’t agree. I’ve been listening to him ceaselessly for over a decade as my love of other podcasts come and go. I don’t like to think about what life will be like when he’s gone.

Water– Being in it, walking beside it, listening to it, seeing it. Seeing bodies of water is always a blessing to me. Water is a great rejuvenator for me. A powerful element of yielding, submerging and force. Hypnotic, mysterious, awe inspiring and sensual. My dream home includes a deep old copper or porcelain tub in a wet room with a skylight or a high landscape window letting in natural light. It also includes an outdoor path leading to a wide lake or beach. Water instantly takes me to peace. I don’t need to try to find it. It’s just there.

Cats- My cat can make me smile through just about anything. Me and my husband rarely fight or argue but when we have, it’s the cat that we lay down our disagreements for. The cat doesn’t give a shit what we’re arguing about. Watching my cat watch the world, clean himself, eat, drink from the tub faucet, meow at me, stretch, sleep, make biscuits, sit in my lap and a million other little things does wonders for my blood pressure. If he’s okay, I feel better about myself, about life in general. Brushing him. petting him, sparring with him, talking to him, brings me back to center, to purpose. He has his own inner world, motivations, irritations and things that sooth him which I will never understand. Cats are charming weirdos and I enjoy the routine and stability he has provided in our lives and the way my husband and I share time with him.

Nature– The difference between being depressed and looking at the view of the side of another building across the way vs. sky high pine trees in the yard is huge to me. Huge. walking through Isham Park every week during the Covid shut down saved me from total despair and engulfed me with hope and regeneration I needed to get through the pain of isolation and languishing.

I made this list of things I engage with often, if not daily as a way to keep things in perspective and also to remind myself that there’s so much to be grateful for as I navigate a path that for me is still unstable and unknown. Home ownership, aging, caretaking, budget managing, “adulting” and more is some real ass shit. Something always get’s missed, dropped, forgotten. God bless people who do this with children.

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