Saturday, August 30, 2008

Dress Up Night

Trying to write a little earlier today. Going to meet CK at my office in about an hour and we'll ride back to her flat. We have dinner reservations at Higgins at 8:30 and plan to have drinks at the Heathman beforehand. Fancy dinner date night for my birthday.

I feel oddly nervous! I just tried on two different skirts, in itself a bit unusual for me, and three different tops. Finally settled on something that is very "Portland" dressy and won't look ridiculous with the shoes I'll be wearing (which are actually very important). CK has seen me dressed more nicely for work but something feels different in dressing up to look good. Not a bad nervous, just I'm aware of that energy.

I finally really slept in! Woke up just past 8AM with both Zonker and Phoebe in the bed. Had some coffee and an English muffin with peanut butter and jam. Then we put up the paper, hanging light in the "shala" (really our meditation and yoga room, but AM immediately took to referring to it as the shala and it is easier to say). We also hung up the beautiful Kalamkari hanging of Buddha teaching that was a gift from a co-worker from India.

This room has gone back to feeling like a refuge. It had gotten filled up with boxes while we sorted out stuff from the garage. The futon that had been in there got moved downstairs so someone could still sleep down there after we gave the old futon to the Burmese family. I felt sad whenever I went in there go grab my yoga gear. This week I sorted out everything to go to Goodwill and AM has taken a carload of things away today. I recycled piles of papers and pitched out other stuff not in good enough shape to donate. We got a new sofa bed for the basement and moved the futon back up. Next weekend or so we'll pick up a couple of shelves, one for that room and one for mine. Once those are in place and I've put some fabric into storage things will look quite put together. AM commented that the room leaves him wanting to do zazen, which is exactly what I wanted it to feel like again!

I've done laundry all morning, when I've not been moving stuff around the house or out to the car. Most of the fabric has all been washed up, I've plastic storage bins to put it in so it stays clean. It felt good to get things done around here today that have been languishing. With the teacher training starting Friday I've wanted to feel like I'd addressed some things that had bothered me.

Of course by now my back aches! Hoping the ride will loosen things up as will walking around this evening. I'm finding myself hugely relieved that things have settled down after those long weeks of distance. When CK would talk about doing this dinner a few weeks ago I felt uneasy, not sure that a romantic birthday dinner would be nearly as fun if we were still anxious with each other. After these weeks and the ups & downs I still feel myself getting a little giddy-anxious at getting all dressed up. Yes, for myself, but for her too.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Mom's Day

I didn't sleep in as much as I'd thought about this morning. By 7:30 I was up and recalling that I'd not set my out-of-office message on my work email. I got up, answered a few emails and set the notification up. AM suggested that we have coffee and hang out for a little bit so we pulled on some clothes and headed over to Seven Virtues for bagels, hummus and coffee. We chatted while we each looked at email, message boards, etc., I set up a Twitter account.

Then back to the house and I drove out the Gresham and met Mom at the Cost Plus. We shopped around there a little, I picked up a white cord kit for the paper lamp in our meditation room and a rather keen hat. We first attempted to go to the Truffle Hunter, a place she liked a lot and said had a very good veggie sandwich.

Once the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and provolone cheese was taken off there was lettuce, tomato, sprouts and avocado. The place specializes in bread made on site, however, all types use buttermilk. They offered to come up with a salad (all of the ones on the menu included some type of meat). Mom and I finished our strawberry lemonades, I took my vitamin, and we went to a Chinese place she and her friends like to go to. They made sesame tofu for me special, I suspect that the bean threads & tofu were deep fried in the same oil as shrimp. It was good, a bit salty which may account for the indigestion I felt later.

I took Mom to the Dollar Tree so she could do some shopping there. We then went on to the new Goodwill. Mom found some Halloween things and a couple of shirts, I found several good things, including jeans that fit well. We then went on to the Salvation Army shop, which was on the way to take Mom home.

We were walking around the bric-a-brac and as I came around a corner I saw Mom standing there with a wooden paddle. She smacked her hand with it and laughed while saying to me, "Brings back memories doesn't it?"

I froze a little and slowly blinked my eyes. Mom seemed to sense she'd crossed some line and gave me a worried look, "Well maybe not good memories for you..."

I took a breath and quickly, quietly said to her, "No, not good memories at all and I hope you'll understand that I can't laugh with you."

I didn't say anything else I merely walked past her and started down the next aisle, not really looking at anything and feeling very still inside. I heard her say after me, "Sorry, S..."

That was it. I didn't mention it again and neither did she. I felt a little distant from her, which is a bit strange since I've already felt that way before. I wasn't motivated to say anything further about it. It felt as though I'd already said a tremendous amount.

We drove back to her house. Walking around the house I watched the two cows for a couple of minutes, feeling myself stiffen when she talked about sending them to market next year. They're practically like enormous dogs, following around to where the people are, I commented as much to Mom. Then we went out into the field to pick some corn and pull carrots. I washed up in the kitchen, pet her cats and then we walked out the car. I told her I loved her and I was glad we got to spend the day together.

Both of those are true. It felt like something changed in our relationship when I spoke to her in the store, refusing to laugh along. Who knows if that change will stay. She might obsess over it, but I suspect she will try to cram this down inside of her, distract herself, and refuse to really look at what it means.

I drove home carefully and gratefully. I felt tired. When I got home I showed AM my thrift store finds and we decided to make tempeh, lettuce, avocado and tomato sandwiches for dinner using a tomato from our garden. It involved going up to New Seasons for pretty much every ingredient except the tomato! It was nice to have AM drive after driving all day in Gresham and good to have the normalizing experience of getting groceries for dinner.

I still feel drained more than angry, more than sad even. There is still this stillness surrounding the whole thing. I don't feel any physical motivation to cry about it, not even when I told AM about it or writing about it here. I do feel a deep ache in my heart, across my collar bones, but I feel calm as well, able to observe the heavy load of emotions.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Well I'm 39 today. It seems absolutely surreal; the arbitrary nature of age. I mean clearly I'm different from 20 years ago, 10 years ago, one year ago. But it doesn't really feel much different. I'm still here, in Portland, in the present.

I woke up a little later and CK made me toast I ate while I checked in on a meeting. I opened another present from her, she had picked up Lavinia for me as a gift. She knew I didn't have it yet and had been looking at it when we were at Powell's last Saturday. I am really touched at the ways she pays attention -- large and small. I wore the necklace she also got me today, made of dyed tagua. I love the colors of it and the feel, it is made from a seed and it warms up against my skin.

She insisted I wear her jacket today, that I'd be too chilled in what I'd put on. I'm still figuring out what I need to wear, eat, do when including the bicycle rides in my day. When I was going down the hill to the bridge I was so grateful for it, and her. As I came up on to the bridge I could see a barge moving sand upriver and the morning sun gleamed on the water. I still may feel a little nervous, but I'm starting to enjoy the bridge a little.

I was glad I rode in. The changes this year, including riding my bicycle to work, have been pretty big. I wouldn't have guessed this time last year I'd be riding a bike to work. That I'd be chanting at the Dharma center. Wouldn't have thought I'd have the kind of relationship that CK & I have. That my relationship with AM would grow and change to support CK & I in our love.

I got some work done today. Had a lovely lunch at Habibi with TG, DG, KW, and AM. Great food as always and so nice to have friends around me. KW had found a necklace with a quote from Mary Jean Iron handwritten on it, "Let me be aware" (see below for whole quote). On a piece of parchment attached in resin to a piece of glass, very small. It is just lovely.

Picked up some treats from Sweet Pea after lunch and got some more work done at home. Then I dithered around for 10 minutes with clothing. I finally settled upon a Prana skirt and the shirt AM got me from Seven Virtues. AM helped me settle. The shirt shows a lot of skin with the very wide, v-neck, and I'm just not used to showing that much. I know I used to, 10 years ago I'd have thought nothing of being revealing, but I wasn't really being myself back then. I was writing to CK that maybe it is because I feel so exposed, being myself, that I am wary of criticism. Or at least the kind of criticism I grew up with and knew in my first marriage.

I'm trying to keep focused on the reality. When I have revealed myself, my life, to people they haven't criticized me. I still am trying to get my mind around this -- that my differences really can be celebrated and respected. Still trying to get a hold of the unintuitive concept that the stability I've created in my life has made it possible to really see the past for the trauma it was.

It has been a lovely birthday, all around. It has been wonderful to have this day to share with my friends and partners. In all that it felt the same, it felt special because it is a day we set aside to honor someone for who they are. That's what makes it different, not that you suddenly feel older.

"Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare & perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in my pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky & want, more than all of the world, your return."

-- Mary Jean Iron

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Day Before the Birthday

I woke up cold, fatigued and hurting today. I thought about just going in, getting a ride from AM rather than riding in like I'd planned. Then I realized I really didn't think sitting in the cold office (although it has been cool the building A/C has been running full blast) would be helpful at all. Zonker snuggled up next to me while I stayed in bed a little longer.

I was able to get more done than I'd thought I'd be able to via the web applications since I didn't have my work laptop at home to use the VPN. As the time for my appointment with my therapist approached I realized I was feeling stiff and anxious. As much as it would help to talk about some things I felt resistance to going and talking. My heart felt tight, pulling back through to my shoulders.

I went over the hard, hard weekend CK and I had at my session. GM agreed it sounded just awful and asked what we'd managed to figure out about it. I said that we eventually were able to realize what was happening with the other person and ourselves. That from that perspective we were at least able to understand that while it might seem like the other person was being irrational, it wasn't unreasonable behavior. I also noted that I felt what made it seem so horrible was that neither of us were able to offer much support at all to the other.

Then we talked about stuff from when I was a teen. I opened up and shared about the "anonymous" flowers Mom had sent to me at school when I was 15, fresh in my mind after finding the card that had been in that bouquet, and about other ways in which she tried to direct my "romantic" life. Looking back on it I find it so unsettling whereas at the time it was so easy to get caught up in things when my Mom was excited about something and enthusiastic. She was so depressed and angry so much of the time that her being happy about anything at all was a welcome break.

GM pointed me back to knowing that everything during my childhood of course seemed reasonable and normal, I didn't know any other environment. She said she didn't know what to offer me in the feeling that every time I look back at my childhood and adolescence I'm more and more disturbed. She noted that all she could really do was look at with me and confirm for me those uneasy emotions, that it wasn't alright and it makes sense that it took me until my 30s to figure out anything about my sexuality.

I left feeling crackling energy across chest and back. Anger, irritation, disgust, and hurt all tight and present in my muscles. CK had messaged me during the appointment asking if I wanted to ride to yoga. I'd sent back that I did because I thought it might be good to burn off some of that energy. I may try to schedule therapy appointments on Wednesdays more often so I can go to a yoga class and do something with the hard, painful emotions that come up when I do a session.

Tomorrow's my birthday and I'll be 39. That age seems so arbitrary, I don't feel hours away from 39. I feel like myself. My legs ache from the ride home and my shoulders still feel tight. I'm full of CK's homemade soup and bread from New Seasons, some chocolate, and I might have a little more wine. But there's this surreal quality that I'm 39 tomorrow. When I was 9 I know 39 sounded quite old. Now that I'm here it seems pretty immaterial to the present moment.

CK got me three things, I opened one tonight. a lovely necklace from Ecuador made of colored pieces of seeds. Really lovely and unusual, hand crafted. There was a beautiful card with it that made my heart feel full. I realized at some point today how grateful I am to wake up with her tomorrow, on my birthday. How grateful I am that AM is able to change and grow our relationship to include my relationship with CK. Last year at this time I didn't expect I'd be where I'm at this year, but I'm awed and humbled that I am.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Must have a snack in the afternoon!

Rode in today, just made myself get up after Phoebe jumped up on me at 6:12AM, moments before my alarm was to go off anyway. I allowed myself 15 minutes of laying there with the cat, not falling back to sleep, alert. Then up, into the shower, pulled myself & my stuff together and headed out.

It was a busy day of working with other people. I didn't get to really work done that was on my list, but I think I spent some quality time with teammates helping them. I'm wanting to get dug into what is really on the top of my list right now, but really have to remember that the time I spend coaching people really is valuable too. It is just difficult to split myself up this way and see the completion of my project get further and further away from me!

CK rode down and had lunch with me. We went over to Blossoming Lotus and I had the garden of eden salad that I didn't get on Saturday night. Also had a cup of the raw soup of the day, chilled avocado, dill and cucumber. The salad was exactly what I'd wanted on Saturday. It wasn't that the sea veggie salad was bad, it was really very tasty, I just had really wanted to the nuts, carrots, and beets in the garden of eden salad. The soup was lovely, light and tart with citrus in addition to the dill. The avocado in the soup made it deliciously creamy instead of wet & watery (which seems to happen with the cucumber at times). We noted that Blossoming Lotus has really become a favorite in the downtown choices when we eat out.

At some point, riding up the hill to, and over the Broadway Bridge I felt a real wave of fatigue hit me. My shoulders and upper back felt tight. I remembered BM noting that some of my arm and shoulder tightness might be related bicycling in addition to the huge floods of emotion this month. Beyond the usual irritation mind-noise at the effort of going up hill I felt just drained. The ride home rises uphill most of the way, but usually once I'm up to North Williams I get some momentum going. I just wanted to be home and when I finally reached Killingsworth I felt hugely relieved to coast home.

I had meant to quickly get changed and ride back down to Dishman to teach my class but I flopped back onto the bed for a few minutes. AM came upstairs and offered to give me a lift instead. It finally hit me that my salad and cup of soup had worn off, my blood sugar was sinking. We didn't have any fruit, most everything in the house was too much to have just before teaching. I settled for grabbing a bottle of juice at Dishman and eating right after getting home. Still adjusting to the different needs of my body when I add in bicycling.

After some more chili and cornbread for dinner I feel better although ready to go to bed soon. I'm going to ride in tomorrow so I can take my bike over to Bike Gallery for the one-month "wellness" check in and tune up.

Monday, August 25, 2008


Awoke groggy and tired again this morning. I should have made myself get up at 6:25 when I first opened my eyes and looked at the clock, but instead I dozed off again. When I finally got up a little past 7AM I stumbled around stiffly and got to working. I got through all my meetings grabbed a quick shower before going over to BM's for a massage.

It was so busy today, meetings where I actually was a participant. Hard to feel like I got any "work" done just all the talking. Yes, I know it is work and equally important, but I would have preferred to get other things done. Tomorrow is similar although I'll get to have lunch with CK in the middle which always seems to make the day go better, even the week.

I told BM about the emotional storm last weekend, how I could feel how tight and stiff my back was. Lots of really taut tendons and muscles in the shoulders and neck, energy moving out down my fingers. She thinks I may have slightly bruised my knuckle when I whacked it against the floor at Dishman which is why it hurts when I grab with that hand. She worked on that a bit as well, lengthening out and moving the tightness in the joint.

While AM made dinner I sat in the shala room, now pretty well organized (I need some kind of shelf unit). I phoned Mom and talked with her a little bit, thanking her for the box of birthday gifts. I was most thrilled with the flattened pennies she'd got on her trip this summer with her husband. This simple thing is something she can do and answer that need she feels to buy me things, they are very small, and I do enjoy them; there were over a dozen from her trip. She also sent a check so I could buy myself a magazine subscription (considering Tricycle, Shambhala Sun or Parabola). Also included was a bath soap (sodium laurel sulfate and artificial fragrance, but OK), and Halloween themed "advent" calendar, and some wreath thing I didn't quite figure out yet.

What's hard is if I tell her not to get me stuff her feelings are hurt. I then have all this stuff that I often don't know what to do with and feel a bit guilty for preferring to chuck. CK got a great introduction to this when she came with me to the Mother's Day lunch. Mom wanted to include me in all the gift giving so she'd got some little mirror/plaque thing with some greeting card-esque statement on it. Anyone who's been in my house would know looking at it that this is not something that fits at all, but she got it for me anyway because she wanted to be giving us all little gifts.

What is strange is that I do like gifts. I even specifically requested something AM could get me (a lovely shirt from Seven Virtues... bit more cleavage than I'm used to but I do think it looks good). I guess it is because sometimes Mom's gifts seems so steeped in her either feeling as though she has an obligation to get me something and/or her not always buying what really suits me. At best there is some kind of medium of the things I enjoy (squashed pennies and magazine subscriptions) and things I really don't use anymore (Halloween advent calendars, little mirror plaques, etc.). Gift giving events could also be so utterly fraught in tension and my Mom made a big deal out of my birthday, in fact I used to hold a big party every year for my birthday. Now I feel a bit uncertain what to do beyond enjoy things with my friends.

CK came over for dinner, AM made white bean & "chik'n" chili with cornbread, and we all sat in the breeze on the deck enjoying it. She noted all the red in the garden and went out to inspect. The sounds of amazement got me into my shoes, grabbing up a basket & scissors, and out to the garden with her. She held the basket while I picked at least 2 pounds of tomatoes (including a luscious, perfect brandywine), cucumbers, eggplant, and squash. We stood around the beds popping tomatoes into our mouths. CK bit into one of the chocolate cherry tomatoes, trying to halve it, and seeds and juice shot three feet through the air and landed on AM. It was glorious fun.

She hung out for a bit, we laid around in the shala looking at my pose flashcards. It gave her a laugh when I brought them out along with the CD. She had been saying how she'd like a way to learn the poses better and I'd finally organized enough to just hand something to her. There was a lovely sweet closeness to it, laying there with her in the comfortable space. We kissed a little, softly and it felt as though another sigh went up from my psyche. Not that there wasn't desire, but there was also comfort and a feeling of the deep connection, the teeth of the gears fitting together and moving forward instead of slipping and grinding.

I got my therapy appointment switched to Wednesday so I'm not ending Thursday on tears. Everything has been so at the surface and I do see the point of working on it, I just finally agreed I should rest a little for my birthday and take it easy on myself. I still think I'll work on Thursday. BM suggested that we plan around a 6PM start at Last Thursday. CK is suggesting I put in an order from something delicious from Sweet Pea, I'm thinking... maybe I'll phone Lisa tomorrow and ask what's new. The "Elvis" cake sounds intriguing although I'm equally tempted by the coconut cake, especially if it could be done with some chocolate ganache, seems like that would be lovely. Maybe with some berries on it.

I'm leaning towards taking Friday off. I can consider going to see Mom for a little bit, something I know she'd appreciate. Yeah, my birthday, but in a way I'm mindful of wanting to share the day with her and recognize how important it is to her as well. It is difficult practice having a relationship with my Mom. I mostly try to be compassionate towards her and honor her because she is the person who brought me into this existence. But there's so much history there that just hurts and the choices she makes I think are unwise much of the time, so it is hard practice.

She said she wants to read what I wrote for Ink on the Cat, I'm not sure if I should share it because it notes how I felt alienated and unsupported by my family. I know if I don't mention it again she'll likely forget about it.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Really, we've all needed a good weekend. A restful time of connection. That it included delicious intimate moments only made it seem even more a salve to the raw emotions exposed during the past few weeks. A sense of a sighing out by the whole psyche, releasing stale, bound up energy that had collected in the dark corners.

Fun to ride around the past day with CK. Just being able to enjoy hoping on the bicycle to over there, in to downtown for dinner, to yoga, to Laughing Planet on Mississippi, and back to the house. My legs feel it, the riding and yoga today on top of the hours in the car yesterday. I like to be able to have this option of just moving myself around the city and not be in the car. That it has become something I share with CK, her passion about bicycling is something of her that I enjoyed immediately, is really special.

After lunch and a ride back to her flat we slid into intimacy again, so delightful and easy. Both last night and this afternoon I felt myself shaking. More than just passion, or even pent-up desire, but relief, gratitude, love, and a sense of being held close emotionally. The container of our relationship expanding again, growing to enfold new experiences and needs recognized.

I rode back to the house in the rain (with no gear, I hadn't checked the weather forecast), but it was still warm outside and the drops weren't coming down fast. I'm making it to the house 5 minutes faster these days and I kind of enjoyed it. When I got to the house I put on some dry clothes and went down to the basement and hung out with AM.

It was great to find out that he and KW had a wonderful night together too, their one year anniversary of dating. Things have been pretty rough for the two of them, since March really. She has had a lot going on and it has really taken her energy away from really maintaining, much less building their relationship. They also were able to enjoy a really wonderful night of connection and intimacy. I have to admit it was nice to come home to really good news like this given how disconnected they've been.

AM and I've just hung out this evening. Having something of a vegan "junk food" dinner and watching episodes of Later... with Jools Holland. I've got more cleaned up and put away in the shala room. Yes, in part I've done this by moving everything into the living room, but it gets the majority of it closer to being out of the house.

Maybe it is the Zen practice, but there are times with things that I just feel overwhelmed. Papers seem really tough, maybe that's just because I've been finding some many old papers these past few weeks, and of those things that have stirred up painful memories. I find stuff I wrote, teenage poetry and the like, and I'm not sure what to do with it. Part of me really wants to keep it, but part of me just wants to be rid of it all. I think I'm going to get some shelves for the shala and my room, with baskets to hold these papers. At least if they're away maybe I'll feel better about having them around.

Last night, before going to bed I'd sent MT my article for Ink on the Cat. She hasn't written back, although I don't expect that people are always going to be into their email on weekends, and I find myself wishing she would! Somehow, for all the poetry I've shown people over the years I feel anxious about this bit of prose. It is very personal and the prose is more revealing, exact than the concise words of a poem. I'm also talking about how I've felt excluded, so it feels revealing to share it.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Long Car Ride, Evening Bike Rides

I woke up earlier than I wanted to. Since CK wasn't going out to the coast with AM & I we were going to leave a little later and I'd hoped to sleep in, especially after having tossed at turned a bit at 4AM. Despite all of that I was up at just past 7AM. I lingered in bed but couldn't get back to sleep and eventually took my laptop downstairs and sat on the rug in the sun talking to AM.

He took his breakfast outside to the deck and I sat inside with mine, reading aloud the article I'd written to send for Ink on the Cat. I have used this method for a very long time with writing of mine, even sometimes in technical writing I'll stop and read bits out loud to myself to make sure the words flow together well.

CK came online and we chatted. I'd just sent her the final version and she liked it very much. I am nervous about sharing myself in this way. I used to share my poetry in college, but rarely read it aloud to anyone, anywhere. Writing prose about my thoughts and feelings feels in some ways even more revealing than poetry. Plus I just haven't written a lot of poems lately. Occasional hakiu drop in here and there, but few poems.

Then it was quick into the shower and on the road. Too many hours in the car today although AM and I did meet some very sweet, helpful people which made it worth it. AM & I headed out to Astoria today to meet some folks and in trying to see a bit of road I'd not before we ended up stuck behind the chaos of the Hood to Coast run! It took us over an hour to go 12 miles.

This was since we didn't have nearly the time to spend with the people we were visiting. We then headed back home catching still more of the Hood to Coast traffic around Seaside. Once we were back on Hwy. 26 we made quick time back to Portland. I tried to read a little of The Science of Breath in preparation for the teacher training starting September 5th.

I was so worn out from being in the car, my legs just ached. It was nice to spend the day hanging out with AM, talking and just enjoying each other's company, but I was sick of being in the car when we got home at 6:45PM. I let CK know I was home and got my stuff together. I hopped on the bike and rode over in the warmth of the evening.

Evening Bike Rides

CK and I decided to go out to dinner downtown at Blossoming Lotus. It was so nice out, warm but not hot, perfect for riding. I even had to admit that the sun set glowing in the Willamette was beautiful as we road over the Broadway Bridge.

The restaurant was packed, as it seems to be whenever we are there. We stood around, which I didn't mind after all the car time. Much laughter was had by many due to a toddler walking around and pressing his face up against the glass outside making faces. We spotted an outdoor table come up and sat down. A dog outside got ill and the owners inside came out. The ended offering to trade tables (they were inside), just seemingly jumping us ahead of people in line to be seated! Orders were already in, we got the the other couple's order and ate part of the salad before they came out calling my name with our order.

Yeah, hilarity and yummy food ensues. The cajun tempeh platter was very tasty. On the edge of hot for CK and I had to pace bites of the cajun gravy lest I feel my ears burning a little. The mistaken seaweed salad was very tasty and we were glad to have tried it. Although I may have to go back soon for the Garden of Eden salad, which is what we'd order and I'd been wanting.

We then strolled around going to the Whole Foods for dark chocolate covered cocoa nibs. On into Powell's where I found three books despite going in with the intent to buy nothing. This has been a known danger for me with Powell's my entire life. What I picked up: The Inner Circle by T.C. Boyle, The Ode Less Travelled by Stephen Fry and a children's ABC book with very lovely, collage-style artwork, The Zen ABC.

Such a nice evening. Not too hot, but shirt sleeve comfortable. So much fun to be able to hop on the bicycles and go downtown that way. CK and I had some fun laughing about our helmets, attached to our bags, bonking against each other as we walked around together. We have had such tension and anxiety that it was lovely to laugh together tonight.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Longer ride, connection by many means

So tired tonight. It has been such a long couple of weeks and stuff is so close to the surface that I feel stretched thin by it. CK was supposed to come over tonight but is feeling absolutely exhausted herself so is at her flat watching a movie, we're chatting while I sit here trying to write while AM watches the History channel.

Had a pretty busy day working too, spent a great deal of time making adjustments to some requirements I'll be doing the development of. Began training someone how how to do account administration for a project they're taking over supporting from me. Then AM messaged me that he was still out in Wilsonville, it took longer to get there, and I should take the bus to my hair appointment.

When I checked the schedules and saw how long it would take I check the bicycle trip planner and decided to ride over to the salon on Hawthorne. It was further than I've rode before, but seemed doable especially since I'd be having my hair done for about 90 minutes or so. I was pleasantly surprised that it took me far less time than I thought it would and wasn't too difficult. It even took less time to get home than I thought it would.

Around 6:30 I felt awful, entirely depleted and felt my blood sugar crash. AM was also feeling awful, most likely a reaction to the tetanus shot he had yesterday. We ended up having dinner at Aladdin's Cafe, which is always tasty. Although I'm very disappointed that I'll have to follow up on the comments I saw on Yelp about the bread having dairy in it! Ugh, I hope that's not the case, how frustrating if it is since everything else is so tasty. Will have to ask the owner.

I try not to be a jerk about being vegan. I don't rant at people even when they ask me to talk about why I'm vegan. It just doesn't leave me feeling very happy when I consume animal products without realizing it, worse since I think I'm doing fine! It isn't like I'll get ill, although I might if I had cheese or milk, but my preference is to avoid animal products for many reasons so it can be frustrating to discover I'm being served something I wouldn't want to eat.

When we got home I talked with CK, it felt awkward and I could tell she was so tired. She wanted to stay home and, as much I was looking forward to seeing her tonight, I didn't entirely feel like going out of the house either. AM suggested that I consider going, that he was feeling a little better and if I could make sure the bed got remade (I'd taken off the sheets to wash) I should go. I sent CK a text message but didn't hear back from her.

My mind immediately rushed to bad places. Sure that she didn't want to see me anymore, that she wasn't just tired, she was really upset with me. I watched the thoughts race around, feeling them rubbing against my already chafed psyche. For a moment I felt myself freezing into silence and then I went and checked for her online, pushing back against the fear-cold. Her phone was still on "vibrate" and she hadn't seen my message.

We fell to chatting. I felt connected to her just by watching the letters she typed showing my on my screen. At nearly the same point we both noted this, how we were managing to feel that sense of connection without either of us having to leave our homes in the evening. We both felt better for it and understood how tired we both were.

Sometimes it is easier to write out my thoughts than talk through them, tonight is such an example of that. On the phone with her I felt so anxious and uncertain of anything other than my lack of skill in talking. Typing to her felt OK, better and I try not to call my self "silly" because of it.

Truly I am grateful to have so many methods to try to communicate and connect. Tonight I felt inadequate using my voice, I often feel that way. To have some other way to still get my thoughts out, a way I feel somewhat more adept with, seems like such a blessing. That CK understands this is equally relieving.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Validating the Inaccuracy of Input

I was slower chanting tonight, my teacher did not actually come over and tell me to slow down although each time I looked at him he was making a gesture with his hand to indicate that I was going too fast again. What got me afterward was D coming up and telling me how much she enjoys my voice during chanting service. That she finds my voice strong but mostly just beautiful.

I felt myself stiffening up inside. The veracity of the comments before me, and similar comments from other sangha members in nearly every week prior, were undeniable. Yet the present moment is in direct conflict with all the messages given to me over and over as a child.

You couldn't carry a tune in a bucket!

No one wants to hear you making that noise, keep it quiet.

And music, other than what I could listen to in my room on a radio, was denied to me. I was always steered away from choir in middle and high school. The one time I tried out for, and made, the choir for my school's annual winter holiday production the endeavor was cut short when it meant that I'd have to pay for shoes. It wasn't until I was at college, over 2000 miles away from home so there was no way anyone could hear me, that I actually was part of a choir.

I was aware of the stiffness, of feeling a tightness in my chest. "Don't cry", I thought to myself.

CK knew, of course. Before we even made it to the car she was asking if I was alright. We got into the car and I started to cry. I immediately felt really stupid crying over a really heart-felt, genuine compliment. It had struck me, listening to that praise just how false the input given to me for so many years was.

That was hard. Maybe it is because my birthday is a week away and it has me thinking I should spend time with my Mom since it really is a special day for her. But with the terrible echoes of shame coming up and memories of non-supporting, downright invalid information it is difficult to want to spend my precious free time with her. But I still feel guilty about it.

CK asked me when I was leaving her flat if we're doing better, she can't tell. I think we are. I to her the way her actions had left me feeling really alone and uncertain. She observed that it must have been really hard.

It was so hard and I felt terribly abandoned, all the more so because I could hear her breath but not her presence. Now we're able to cuddle again, so I feel reconnected to the intimacy we share. It isn't all about sex, it is about something she said to me when we were first getting together, shared vulnerability.

I've so vulnerable, exposed really, for so long now. Losing weight pulled down a lot of the persona I'd built up to feel safe behind. If anyone laughed at that person she'd flip them off, swear, and distract herself from hurting over it. But that persona is gone and when I'm around CK it feels as though there's very little left except the vulnerability. To have her share it with me again, in any capacity, does feel like progress.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Day Turned Upside Down

Got up into half handstand more easily tonight. I didn't think I would because the front of my psoas was very tight it many of the other poses, but I was able to get up and my hips didn't spasm at all. Still hard -- whenever I try to roll my shoulders into place my feet slide down the wall! It is very surprising to find that it is easier since it isn't a pose I practice a lot.

Today had come to a more positive end than it began. I woke up at 6:25 but drifted back to sleep until 7 when I awoke groggy. My back and hips ached a lot from my class and riding home, I was pretty chilled even if I did immediately get into fleece sweats. I could feel that my sinuses were swollen as well. I pulled myself out of bed and into a hot shower. If I didn't need to be at the office to help install some software and configure it for the assistants, I'd have worked from home.

It was crazy today. I got to my desk a couple of minutes ahead of the team meeting starting. I then sat with KF to continue training on publishing reports and working both our help ticket and change requests processes. Oh do large organizations live for process. I understand why we do it and genuinely know the benefit, but sometimes it stands out as to how complicated some things are. Especially trying to teach it to a new person.

The meeting identified a need for some documentation so I was going back and forth between my desk and the desk of an assistant on vacation, taking screen captures for documentation at her desk. Questions coming in multiple directions and I was still trying to finish putting all the pieces into place for the pear libraries. Then, in a true Shiva-Destroyer moment of unix operating systems, I managed to wipe out the pear installation I'd worked so hard to get running.

A few hours and a massive tension headache later I got things running, the libraries installed, and finally, for the first time since embarking upon this in May, I was able to see some of my very basic code running on my dev/test environment. Granted, now that I know how to load my own packages onto the system things will go much more easily.

It was a rush to get home made difficult by a pile-up on the Broadway Bridge involving 4 cars. Got home and had to hurry about to get into yoga clothes and grab clothes for tomorrow before CK showed up. I was feeling cranky and tired out, my head throbbing despite taking some ibuprofen. Neither of us really wanted to go to class and had to talk ourselves into it.

I was glad we went. By the time class was over my headache was gone and I'd had the fun of practicing half handstand and feeling more confident about it. Afterwards we were unable to resist the the lure of a) not dealing with the kitchen and b) being hungry now so we went over to Dalo's for a veggie platter. The chair made my sit-bones ache so I sat on my hoodie and had a pillow behind me -- so it made it tolerable. That dinner was quick, hot and as tasty as always helped me feel more comfortable as I warmed up eating it.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Rain and Progess

I woke up feeling so tired today, still not rested from the weekend. This evening I still feel fatigued, although the yoga class tonight was fun. Due to questions from the students we ended up really looking at utthita trikonasana and ardha chandrasana. I don't often spend a lot of time on just two poses, but afterward everyone said they understood the poses better.

I also made some progress on my configuration of php5 at work! I've been fighting to get this right since may, finally figuring out how to do some of the Red Hat package installation myself and just loading a missing piece I needed. I need to add a pear package and I should actually be somewhat working again.

AM is lying next to me on the new, big sofa downstairs. We had leftover soup after I rode home from yoga. Walked over to CK's once class was done since my bike was still there. AM offered to come get me and the bicycle, but I really had wanted to try riding in the rain.

CK came downtown this afternoon and we went to Habibi again. We talked about her day yesterday, the frustration at the unprofessional behavior and how it is personal. Other than that tension and general career stress it felt for a little while like other tension was a little less. We sat in O'Bryant Square spending a little more time before I had to head in to join a meeting.

I'm still recognizing that Saturday was scary, neither of us felt supported by the other when we really needed it. Neither of us was capable of offering support beyond what was holding us up. We've never had something like that happen before and it felt very overwhelming.

I'm glad I went over there Sunday and we were able to just lay together and have it feel safe. Just the intimacy of holding each other and feeling safe is so important. I know I can only practice with the times I wake up in a panic there, anticipating punishment, and have to force myself to look around the room, listen to her breathing, and return to the present, knowing I'm safe there.

Rain Ride

After teaching yoga class this evening I walked over to CK's since my bike was still there. AM offered to come get me and the bicycle, but I really had wanted to try riding in the rain. I had the new pants and jacket I bought and it wasn't pouring, just an average Portland rain. I knew the route and had my lights, so I set out.

I felt dry but chilled, I need a better shirt underneath the jacket (had a yoga top on, sleeveless). I was happy to find that my fenders worked perfectly! The hills are actually getting a little easier, it only took me 20 minutes to bike home from CK's. 5 minutes less than usual and I found that I was not gearing down quite as much on the hill. When I got to the house I stood on the porch and stamped my feet, water just pouring off of me!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Saint Monday

I went over to CK's last night around 8pm, riding over in the twilight. The air was cooling rapidly and I stopped to pull on something with sleeves. We managed to have a quiet, close night which felt so necessary after Saturday. I had planned to write about my thoughts, but we were lying together in bed and I didn't want to disturb that closeness.

It was a sweet, intimate moment before sleeping. We lay close, foreheads touching at times, while I stroked her hair, neck and face. Occasionally she'd reach out to rest her hand on my leg or side or press a kiss to some part of me, forehead, shoulder, lips. She said this morning that it had felt calming and safe, likely why she slipped into sleep so quickly.

We both had come to see Saturday as a cascade of my being overwhelmed, triggered by my grief. The grief and shame left me beyond the ability to observe what was happening around me. How unsettling this might be for CK, especially when she wasn't feeling up to the effort of being around a gathering and was trying to force herself to get through it. When I felt myself starting to panic, lying there next to her falling asleep I sat up and tried to focus on the facts. It was hard to keep a hold of them and not slide into unreasonable fear at my needing her and feeling like I was unsupported.

I finally was able to settle into doing metta practice, just focusing on the two of us and my breath. That we be free of our anxiety and fear, free of shame, free of anger, free of suffering, and that we be happy. I did this in between the times I would call the contingency planning hot line every 30 minutes for updates on the negotiations, dozing a little here and there.

Finally at 1:08AM the hot line reported that an agreement had been reached. CK woke up briefly as I was really trying to settle to sleep finally. I told her there news, unset my early alarm, and lay down. She stroked my neck and shoulders a little, dropping a kiss between them, and I again felt the intimacy of the moment, the comfort.

She awoke anxious. I awoke disoriented and exhausted through and through. The weather quickly turned into a loud thunderstorm. The claps rattling the whole flat. Atari fled and hid at first under the tub and when CK wanted to shower he hid under the sofa. When the rain came, hard, the wind blew it into the open windows which she rushed to close up.

As per normal on Mondays I did not get done what I wanted to be working on -- the error Apache gives when trying to load the PHP5 module. I ended up mostly working on reports and account issues in the new change control tool. I'd helped do a requirements meeting for some reports and having put together the notes from the meeting I wanted to work on the reports and views while it was all still fresh in my head.

Around 4:25 CK messaged me that she'd been told she was no longer going to be involved with a project. It was done in an unprofessional, indirect way, which made it even worse. Yes, I'm biased, but even if I were not I'd still find that it was not handled in a mature way. I feel such a protective emotion rise up in me when she's hurt or mistreated. There is a part of me that finds it a little silly since part of the reason I respect and love CK is her ability to take care of herself, she certainly doesn't need my protection. Regardless of that I would protect her from hurt if I were able to.

I had felt that while lying there in the dark keeping my anxiety at bay with metta practice. I have been so hurt in my past that I just want to be able to tell the world to go the hell away, pull up a big blanket to hide under. It is absolutely absurd and it is our interaction with the world that enriches us. But in feeling the hurt, all of it, there is part of me that just wants to say, "Enough!"

AM made soup, exactly the kind of meal I love when I'm tired. I sent CK a message that she was welcome to come have some, and hugs, if she wanted to. I know that both she and I withdraw when we hurt, that asking for comfort is terribly difficult if not impossible. When I spoke with her I was happy to hear that having that option was helpful to her.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Hard Tension, Inconvenient Love

I am feeling compressed, compacted down. I ache physically all over and feel emotionally depleted. I am so tired of the tidal waves of grief and sorrow that is left over when I manage to talk myself out of the places of shame, fear, and anger. All that is left is absolute sorrow and I feel utterly flayed by it.

On the drive out to the monastery CK tried to get me to talk a little about what I'd been really struggling with these past several days and I stammered my way through some if it. The ugly shame pushed onto me at such a young age and seething below the surface, popping up to paralyze me in traumatic incidents. The fear the accompanies it all, that I'll be punished and/or humiliated.

We never made it inside once we arrived. Instead sneaking around the building into the gardens we went. Tension dodged our every step, biting at our heels whenever we would stop. I sat, sobbing, in the leaves by what I think of as my Jizo statue, the one that holds my messages to myself and is near to the plaques for Spalding and Buzz. The past several weeks and the stumbling on intimacy I was feeling, combined with the choking shame I had talked about in the car, the immense grief, and the consuming fear all flooded through me.

We tried to come around the kitchen side and go, but there were people there with lanterns. Nearly ran into others by the zendo. Finally we got to the gym side and I felt stricken when JH called out my name from where she stood by the greenhouse doors. I was anxious at her offering concern, compassion at seeing my face covered in tears. I feel guilty somehow for sneaking around a place so special to me, leaving the cookies I brought on the bench to be found.

The drive home was filled with tension so loud it seemed like a thing you could touch, burn your skin against. With it, for me was horrible, hopeless awful sorrow -- rushes of guilt, shame, fear streaking through it. It lessened when we talked briefly, the horrible roaring wind noise in my head let off a little, but I still felt taut with misery. I tried to just breath and feel my way towards something more real.

Once we got to the house she came in and we laid down in the relative cool of the bedroom. We picked our way through the terrible weight of the emotions that had be bearing down upon us the whole day. Finding the way back to one another through the mental noise and breathing together. Eventually, when we both felt reconnected to the present, to love, CK headed home.

And here I sit in the basement. Checking the hot line by phone and URL for news of the negotiation. I dislike these nights, the summers where August is up in the air until after an agreement is settled. More than anything, that uncertainty every two years out of three is the thing that most motivates me to want to do something else with me life.

CK is at her flat, taking care of Atari in the high heat of today. I sent her a message a little while ago that I'm still waiting. AM has gone up to bed. The room is filled with the sounds of my fingers on the keyboard and the fans stirring the air. Occasionally Bodhi moves in his sleep.

I feel still but in a tight way, not spacious. It is amazingly difficult and the timing is so bad. I found myself thinking tonight that I hadn't wanted to meet anyone at the time I was introduced to CK. I had just had an awful experience at having been triggered at work which spanned over two days and got so bad as to include an auditory flashback. Up until last October I'd felt safe at work, at least safe from my past triggering me emotionally. When I met her I was feeling so destabilized and unsure of myself. Regardless of any inconvenient timing I love her, it is just so undeniably true that I can only work from the point of that truth.

I would rather be sorting through all of this shit in my past alone, preferably in a cave somewhere so it wouldn't affect anyone around me. I wish I could either get good at this grieving stuff or just get over it. I feel like it pulls me away from the present and I resent this much additional pain in my life, having to incorporate it into the whole person I am. Sometimes, like tonight, there is no amount of reminding myself that I'm experiencing it in the present because in the past there was no safe way to express it leaves me feeling OK about it in any way.

Friday, August 15, 2008


Portland rarely gets above 100, but today was one of those days. It would have been a good day to work in the office in the AC but after yesterday I felt so depleted I wanted to work from home. By noon I was down in the basement trying to keep cool.

I ended the afternoon feeling cranky and irritated. My headache from last night had moved along my right sinuses and now hurt into my teeth. I had cramps and just generally didn't feel very well at all. I was stuck on a problem at work and hadn't made nearly the progress I wanted to. In making what progress I had, in addition to being on the phone with my boss unexpectedly, I made myself late for an early movie plan with CK.

I met her at the house, AM driving me over since it was really too hot for me to be bicycling especially since I didn't feel very well already. When I got into the flat I pet Atari and then felt the need to lay down on the bed. I sprawled onto the bed, turning the sore side of my face into the darkness of a pillow. CK arrived soon afterward. We had a tense moment over my not recognizing, respecting the time and how that is very important to her.

I felt like I had tried as hard as I could and still wasn't good enough. Ultimately I just felt overwhelmed, emotionally chafed raw, and my head throbbed into my right molars & jaw. I finally said I was just going to lay down while she worked some more. At that point I took some ibuprofen to help with my headache and gave in to the desire to just lay down. I tried to explain it, that I just felt I needed to rest a little bit to do better, but I know it wasn't very skillful.

She came over to the bed and we arranged things to be able to see her computer. We watched several presentations at TED, all of them excellent. Then she motivated us to go over to Lloyd and we watched Vicky Cristina Barcelona. It was enjoyable to sit in the cool cinema with her, holding hands and eating far too much salty popcorn. I liked the music in the movie, the lush gardens and art & architecture that served as the backdrop. After the movie we picked up another fan and several bottles of wine; super-chilling a dry Riesling to have at home.

I need to learn how to ask her when time is important so I'm more mindful of moving things along. I just feel so depleted in so many ways that I'm operating at a much lower level of awareness that I usually do. I think this is why I ran into the car door last night while getting my phone and have managed to hit myself in the face a couple of times with things I'm carrying. The grief and anger create so much noise in the signal.

I felt angry today. The buzz of irritation. The heat seemed to intensify it too, creating additional static. It doesn't actually feel more energetic than the grief. In some ways it feels less so, the apathy the anger induces. To just throw up my hands in disgust with the world and just go read a silly novel, to sulk, to sleep. The grief feels more energetic, more dynamic perhaps because it touches into the fear and shame.

Somehow it feels easier to be angry than present with the sadness. Perhaps it is because the anger has elements of withdrawal. It is easy to move away from the enormity of the grief, even if it is to move into sleep. Anger pulls me towards the desire to distract myself.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Long, hot zazen

Long, hard, hot day. Went into the office from CK's and had a busy day right up until I left at 1PM to ride home in the 90 degree weather. I went slow, took drinks of water and just kept going. My face was bright red by the time I made it home. Took a call for planning activities and then went to my appointment with my therapist.

She worked on trying to help me see that I have been making progress. That I was able to talk about the shame that comes up around intimacy. She noted that a year ago I wouldn't have been able to talk at all, my body physically was shutting me down with stuttering and terrible muscle spasms on top of nausea. The shame just feels so sticky and hard to move away from.

We also started into more stuff about my Mom, the tremendously inappropriate things she would do sometimes. While going through things this week I found the card from an anonymous bouquet she had sent to school. From her perspective she was providing me a wonderful, mysterious, romantic surprise but I recall at the time being very embarrassed and uncomfortable about it. More so when I finally figured out that my Mom had done it. She never did get why I would feel anything other than delight.

It has really been starting to hit me how not only did she try to live out the things she wanted to do as a kid through me, regardless of my desire to do the same things or not, but she tried to live out what she wanted from a romantic life using me. Pushing me towards relationships, wanting to talk about boys and that I should wear things to show off my body. All very uncomfortable for me. She played along with the "family joke" that I never seemed to develop a bust line and when I complained she was the first one to note that I was being uptight and should just learn to take some teasing.

It made for a very painful zazen. I was also acutely aware of CK sitting next to me, knowing she could tell I was hurting. And we sat. Somehow, despite a desire to run away into the night. Then I chanted and did bells, somehow.

Am going to work from home tomorrow despite the weather forecast of 100+ temperature tomorrow. Just feel a bit too exposed, worn from today to go in. Besides, if I stay home I can bake in the morning and make green tea cupcakes to take out to the Jizo-bon on Saturday.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Mere Moments

My co-workers pleasantly surprised me today. I'd been asked for input on a team appreciation lunch that some of them were working on. I said the vegan items sounded tasty, but very low in protein. When I eat that way at team events I'm often famished by the end of the day, which is bad since a few nights a week I'm going to a yoga class pretty soon after leaving work. Lunch was set up and I found that the organizers had changed the salads to include a three bean type salad as well as a chick pea & couscous salad! Lots of healthy protein and I felt really touched that they made that effort for me.

I finally made something that felt like progress on getting some software installed on the test/dev web server. Although the systems group was loading what I asked for, they would fail to load any of the related dependencies. Once this was done, I was able to configure and make the software install. It was a nice note to end the day on although it has gone so poorly for so long that I'm a little afraid I'll find something else wrong tomorrow!

I met CK over at Prananda for class this evening, biking over from the house and making it there before her. It was a small, quiet class today with one new person joining us. I'd missed classes with JW and it was nice having a fairly easy class in the cool, cinder block building. I was rewarded by getting feedback that the alignment of my shoulders and hips has been improving tremendously!

When I felt a little rush of relief at CK kissing me I realized the tension I'd been hanging onto since she went home on Sunday. After weeks of tension I've been feeling I'm enjoying spending the evening with her having dinner and some nice wine. We've talked about systems work, I've even been able to provide a couple of ideas, which feels great. There is just a feeling of finding our way back to the comfort with one another we had established.

When I feel like I lose my way, especially for weeks at a time, it begins to feel like that the comfort in our relationship was illusory.My PTSD triggers can feel so overwhelming, blinding that seeing that we're still here and together seems nearly impossible. We both have a protective tendency to withdraw in our own ways and are having to learn how to trust that it is OK to leave some openness.

And I guess for me it is time to add working on that shame into my practice. I've been coasting on the fact that my therapist and Zen teacher have said I'm good working on the grief, the feelings of injustice. I've known this is big, in the back of my mind I've known for years.

At times I almost find it incredulous that mere moments in my childhood have caused such deep, lasting pain. I think of myself as resourceful and resilient, but these moments have to potential to utterly overwhelm me as an adult. The echos of emotion around them stagger me now and I'd like to think that I'm bigger than them. But they are momentous. It only goes to prove how important each and every moment is because even minutes of trauma can reach forward across years.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Injustice feels like tar

I haven't felt as much of the anger-buzz today. Tonight the discussion group at the Dharma center was on anger, the many types of it. As much as it sounded like a good evening to go since I've had this connection around it, recognizing the different ways it shows up, what I have mostly felt today is tired. It hasn't seemed to matter how much I might sleep, I'm still tired.

Tried to have my yoga class do a challenging pose tonight to end class, half handstand, but discovered that my hips and psoas were so tight I couldn't do the pose well. I think I'm feeling the lift-ups I was doing last night on the inversion table. I hadn't felt the affects of the exertion in the body until I was doing yoga this evening.

It was a good lesson regardless. the pose was difficult for everyone, as I knew it would be. Each person in the classroom discovered a different challenge to the pose. We each tried, came down, rested. I'm not sure if it helped that I had a difficult time, maybe it did. Maybe sometimes it is good to see the teacher struggle too.

I am still working out how to write about my hopes for a new home for my Zen community. I am trying to write about my views for having a space that becomes even more inclusive of people. Our sangha growing not only because of a physical space to contain us, but because we open further to see how the Dharma is lived through other ways.

I feel uncomfortable about the idea of writing about why this is so important to me. I feel the discomfort of opening up to so many people in my community about being queer and being in a state of transition from one relationship to a new one. Of course it is bigger than just that, it includes how our community grows to support several Burmese refugees regardless of of a lack of commonality over tradition, language, or religion (they are Christian). The excitement over it has included talk of Montessori classes for children, space for other groups to meet, maybe yoga classes. I just haven't felt my way with writing about it, beyond a few sentences.

There is a sticky, psychic sensation I have. When I consider the past I mostly find myself feeling the injustice of it which gives rise to the irritation buzzing in my mental space. I try to look at it and the emotions are thick, like tar -- hot, sticky, the stuff that dragged dinosaurs to their death. It seems impossible to do much with them. I don't know if there is anything that can be done with them, everything I think was unfair really was. I'm not exaggerating, my childhood was not just or right. Nothing actually changes that or fixes it. Maybe that's why it seems so tar-like. It isn't something that can be wiped away.

It is mixed in there in the terrible, wonderful rush of emotion that seems to come up at times during intimacy. I tried to put words to it -- how in the midst of pleasure I am just overwhelmed with all the grief, the injustice, the anger, and fear. At the same time I was equally feel an absolute outpouring of joy, truth, connection, and love. I feel blessed and amazed that she sees the burst of sobbing that results as just an indicator of the depth of the release.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Monday Static

Toward the end of the day today I felt some of the anger-buzz of apathy and irritation. It feels close to when I'm feeling how unfair much of what has happened is. It isn't as though working out the dynamic of a new relationship isn't already difficult. So things are hard already, but we also have the potential for past acts by selfish people to trigger intense responses.

It has felt a little hard for me today in some respects. On one hand, I have enjoyed the relative quiet of the day. AM and I went over to Seven Virtues, a coffee shop he's went to with a friend a couple of times, this morning since I had no meetings. We sat with our laptops, AM reading while I answered emails, set up some meetings, and got my week started. I got into my meetings a little later in the day and worked on some unexpected problems that didn't make a lot of sense -- ended up rebuilding somethings over again.

What has been difficult, besides the anger-static, has been feeling separated from CK. It was such a challenging weekend and I was feeling so vulnerable, exposed emotionally that to switch gears has felt a little rough. I was aware of the sensitive way my emotions felt when she left for her flat last night -- that switch having that feel of skin pulling away from a hot car seat.

A part of it didn't feel like it fit right. It seemed like we should be going back to bed, resting together in some of the space created by all our hard work. Instead she went to her flat and I went upstairs, took a melatonin, got my iBook and wrote for a while as I sat next to AM downstairs. It was one of those times when I resent the transition back to the work week, sometimes it just feels so rough.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

High Centered

My two day hiatus from blog writing hasn't been to being away from the computer all weekend. It has been a long, hard weekend in relationship building and I was trying to not interrupt time with CK with writing. The time we were apart I was too agitated to write, didn't even think about trying, and worked on sorting out things in the house.

I have experienced distance physically and emotionally in my relationship since returning from Vancouver. I have been able to observe on an intellectual level that my withdrawal is triggered by old trauma, not the relationship, same as the terrible shame I have felt come up. Regardless of the mind understanding I have felt stuck with the way my body holds onto painful events from the past.

And stuck I have been. We had one morning during OSCON where there was a momentary break in tension and there was space to explore intimacy. We never really got it worked out as to what was causing the problem so it has continued to grow, pushing us further apart and into our own pain. It felt like the relationship is a vehicle high centered on something. Maybe only one wheel able to touch ground at a time while the rest just spin futilely in the air. Stuck.

I've felt the wind knocked out of me over it all. Unable to breath and overwhelmed by how deep the shame is buried in my whole self. I've not really worked with it at all, just trying to focus on processing the tremendous amount of grief and anger at how unfair it all was. But now seems to be the time for it to be acknowledged.

I thought I had touched upon it. This relationship has helped me feel the complete falseness of some of the terrible messages I got as a young child. I'm able to really explore my sexuality with another person and it is safe, nurturing. Then it was gone, only I was sleeping next to her several times a week but no connection was there. We had reached a point we were barely touching once we got to bed, I'd curl into a ball and stay awake while she went to sleep.

At first I was just feeling abandonment, feeling like things were ending. Which wouldn't match up with lunchtime conversations about having a baby, building a home together. Then the shame started to seep in with the fear of being left. I felt wrong for wanting her to touch me, ashamed of the want and like I should be able to control it, make it go away. I felt wrong from wanting to touch her, ashamed of myself for that want and feeling that if something went wrong I'd be punished somehow. I was locked in fear and shame around asking for touch, to touch. I began to settle into my own silence. The "safety" of saying nothing at all.

Today, after a very tough night -- she had unsettled dreams and I kept waking hearing people outside (turned out we'd forgotten to turn off the radio and NPR had come on) -- I had to leave for my class. She told me she wasn't going to the class and I felt hurt, rejected. She said she also wouldn't go to a class today at the dharma center, which I understood but was not happy with. I felt like she snapped at me and my irritation flared to life. It was so hard leaving to teach and I left angry. By the time I got to Dishman I sent a note apologizing for getting angry.

I know that all of the Buddhist precepts are practice, things I have to keep doing over and over again. I've been working really hard at the idea of anger. Not that I can get rid of anger, but to control it, to not give rise to my anger when I feel it. Whenever I fail at anything I feel it so sharply. To fail to control my anger, to snap at CK, leaves me feeling so graceless and inconsiderate. I also know it is unreasonable to expect that I'll always do things the best way possible, I'm trying to let go of that, but to fall down on something and see shock & hurt on her face just feels so much more a failure.

I went back over to her flat after teaching so we could continue to talk. I had spoken with AM to let him know what was up and gave up on the class at the dharma center even though it is on NVC, something I think will help us talk. I said I thought that if we tried to just lay down together and talk about what came up when we did it was just as valid lesson in communicating as going to the class. We had looked at some books on how to heal intimacy -- books that were Jessa's that GK thought I should end up with since I'd finally shared with her that I'd been sexually abused -- and thought about trying some of the sharing activities.

It was so hard. I told her what scared me, what was coming up for me. We talked about how a fear not being in control comes up for her. We talked about how to work on it, offered just compassion to some things, understanding the pain we each feel. We worked on trying to touch each other with lots of communication. I find it so hard to talk aloud and directly, feeling the pull of the shame, but she stuck with me. She would bend close when I felt like I couldn't talk so I could whisper to her instead.

In the past I'd just have not pursued this. I'd have consoled myself with food or distractions and not addressed any of the pain I kept buried. It was considerably easier than this hard, painful work. Only I was miserable, 150 pounds heaver and never distracted enough by that fact.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Thursday is for Bells

It was warm nearly all last night in CK's flat. I fidgeted being on top of the bed, finally getting under at least the sheet. Somehow that bit of "normal" behavior around trying to sleep helped me settle and rest even if fitfully. CK got up in the early hours, it had finally cooled considerably, and covered us up, dropping a kiss onto the back of my neck. She said I made a happy noise when she did so.

It would have been nice to slide from that sub-aware moment of feeling a kiss, responding to it on some level, into happy dreams. Instead I slid into taking a chemistry exam. Knowing I was truly in the wrong room, the wrong exam, "I don't study chemistry!" Yet there I was, trying to make heads or tails of questions, calculations, and knowing with certainty I was failing utterly.

Then it was time to get up and get ready. I rode into the office of the Broadway Bridge. The bridges get marginally less terrifying each time, just practice. Work was starts and fits of progress here and delays there (yet more again, same project).

Although I slept poorly, insufficiently, I don't feel quite the same volume of anger-static around me today. The grief feels less enormous again, just there with me. IW's work yesterday seems to have cleared a little of that energy up.

The ride home was difficult but possible. I was congested, the August air is rather stale from all the heat, so the uphills were even more difficult to breathe through steadily. My legs were pretty done by the time I got to the house, but no cramps or spasms. At times I'm not sure I'm actually enjoying the activity of bicycling but I enjoy being done with a ride and having traveled under my own energy.

AM had a rough day with his depression and I walked into the hosue into a storm of it for a moment. He settled after a bit. I tried to point out to him in a more compassionate way that I was feeling a little overwhelmed at the, to me, sudden and unexpected intensity. We just sat cool basement together for a little bit and let the whole day settle.

AM made us Vietnamese inspired rice noodle bowls, bun, for dinner. We discovered that the marinated tofu, nearly charcolized on the grill by accident, tasted quite good. A maple and tamari marinade would make for a crispy, "bacon-eque" type snack. We included cucumbers from the garden, which is really wonderful to be enjoying.

AM didn't feel up to, or had the time to shower for, before zazen at the Dharma Center. I quickly changed and brushed my teeth. Still having printer problems so I swung by CK's to print the merit list and drop off some things she needed. I had wanted to check in on her anyway because Atari had another UTI and I knew being at the vet with him, transporting him, and worrying about him all had been stressful. I felt bad at having to rush away from her, she looked so tired.

More compliments and suggestions of improving confidence at hitting the bells during service. I'm still so caught up in all the things to keep track of that it is hard to also have confidence. Besides, having confidence is truly difficult practice, same as pride. I am trying to remind myself it is only the second time I've done the chanting and bells together, something that is traditionally done by two people. There is a lot to learn and it is OK to learn it at my pace. I did think I felt a little more confident in my chanting at least; the stress of the bells distracting me!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Recognizing Anger

I woke up around 6:20AM and felt an immediate desire to curl up and stay in bed all day.  Not tired so much as a deep apathy for the day ahead.  I just wanted to lie in bed and do nothing except maybe read something I wanted to read.

Instead I got up, got ready and headed into the office, apathy or no.  Apathy doesn't pay the mortgage after all.  Work greeted me with another new problem and another new ticket for the frustrating part of our IT organization (they appeared to have turned off FTP, allowing only sFTP to a server that must be contacted by an enterprise application on a Windows server capable of only FTP....  I realize that for many people what I just wrote is about as useful as "Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah"!).  

My boss told me that a backup role I was actually interested in was going to another person who was also interested in it.  I admitted to being disappointed and I honesty feel that I have a better relationship with the person whose primary responsibility it is.  She, we are trying to find a way to get me more in a project management role, but this still felt frustrating.  What's really hard is letting someone do it as a real learning experience when she, the primary person and I all know I have the actual experience to do it.

By the time I was leaving at 4pm I was weary.  I got to my physical therapist's office and could feel the growing irritation, truly disgust I was feeling.  I knew I had some time to wait so I rolled myself up into shoulder stand, trying to settle myself into my body and away from the feelings of annoyance.  I came down and into some forward bends, just fully releasing into them.

My therapist, IW, was running even later on account of the client she had been seeing nearly fainting when she went to stand up.  I hadn't even noticed in my impromptu yoga practice (what better way to make use of waiting time).  What I had noticed, or thought I'd noticed as I tried to pull apart all the tangled emotions, was that I that maybe what I was feeling was anger.  

I think of anger as this white-hot rather terrifying thing.  I recall the inappropriate outbursts that happened in private.  There was also the icy burn of the anger suppressed in public, at family gatherings; snide comments veiled in polite words.  This heavy, enveloping apathy towards the entire world combined with an overall irritation, crossing into disgust is so different that my experience with anger that it has been difficult to recognize it as such.

When I think about how unfair it feels to cope with my physical pain and the load of trauma I feel a kind of apathy and or a wave of disgust that so many people in my life have behaved so selfishly.  Occasionally I can feel some of the hot anger, a red energy buzzing around my head, but mostly it sinks into an apathetic depression where I just want to hide in bed under the covers.  

When I press past that into the humming and drumming of daily life the irritation arises until I feel chafed by it all.  The anger becomes a buzzing static around my thoughts and I long to be able to scratch my head, rub my ears & eyes until it ceases.  I feel as though I'm encased in dense, dark stone that hums incessantly with irritation, subtle and unsettling noise.

I told IW when I saw her that my energy was all over the place.  That I thought I felt angry, only that it wasn't anger like I think of it.  I mentioned the apathy and the anxiousness I'd been feeling.  We talked about where my pain was located lately and at what level it had been at.  

Some of the trigger points, which lately have been back to being really bad and sometimes difficult to release, brought a sensation of panic rushing up.  After the years I've been seeing IW I am accustomed to the trigger points been extremely painful sometimes, but the accompanying panic doesn't usually happen.  One of the last ones she worked with on my left sit bone was so intense emotionally that I felt my head race. 

She switched to some cranial work to try and balance my energy.  I felt the buzzing in my head that sometimes shows up when I get massage therapy.  Afterwards I grew chilled in the air conditioning.  IW noted that I was calming too, so I didn't have the anger/anxiety heat warming me up.

Sitting next to CK on the sofa I feel better.  My neck and back have popped, released a few times.  I rode over here, hadn't planned to but it was the best idea and I felt better for the physical exertion as it helped burn off some of the energy as well.  

Like a truly vocal inner critic I've been seeking anger as I remember it exhibited by others.  My critic speaks in waves of raw, wordless emotion and my anger doesn't resemble my memories of others.  The anger is wordless too, there's some low muttering to it but that's just a litany of petty irritation that 's really just a pointer.

The grief is reasonable.  It was never safe for me to process how afraid I was and how hard I just kept trying in order to fit in, do what I was told (the threat of "or else" often hovering just behind the order and changing with me as I aged).  That I should feel surges of grief, and the vulnerability in my relationships waking it, isn't unreasonable.

Neither is the anger.  HB told me it isn't that Buddhists don't get angry, we do, we just do not give rise to the anger.  What I need to do is be mindful and even more self-compassionate of those days when I feel like facing the world is just too much effort.  I also need to learn how to share with CK and AM when I am feeling those angry, heavy days.  I don't want to have that anger affect them unduly.  It feels vulnerable in a somewhat scary way to try and share that with them, but it is more fair for them to know so they can gently remind me that I might be cranky or unfair in something I say or do because I'm processing through the anger as well as the grief.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Can't see the Way for the mileposts

I woke up just past 6AM with no alarm, just awake to the brightness of what promised to be a hot August day by Portland standards. I didn't feel too exhausted. I was alert but something about it let me know that I was still anxious just below the surface. I'd taken some melatonin the night before and felt like I had rested, but the grief and anxiety from yesterday still persisted.

I came into the office to find that important reports still had not been run as expected. I sat down to my day and let my mind settle into the tasks at hand. I worked on projects steadily until CK came to meet me for lunch. We walked over to Blossoming Lotus for another tasty lunch. I was able to have the big salad I was craving and CK enjoyed her usual, yummy barbecue tempeh sandwich.

Sometime during lunch, with a toddler making hot, impatient sounds, she said my email about having a baby together was sweet. I felt some of the grip of the anxiety let up. We talked briefly on all the things we have to figure out in the next few years and that could settle. This possibility, these feelings are ones wholly new and while not entirely terrifying, I feel keenly vulnerable in exploring them.

Sitting in the park after lunch for a few minutes I told her that I was trying to make space to allow myself to feel grief about my past. During the first 30 years of my life (I had started to say childhood and she pointed out that my first marriage wasn't supportive either) I wasn't able to really experience the sadness, anger, and fear. Not only did I not know any other way, but the times when I did experience those emotions I wasn't supported and at times I was punished for it.

Underneath my impatience is fear. Fear that my loved ones are eventually going to get tired of me going in and out of waves of sorrow all the time. That the burden of my need for support will grow to be too much. That I'll no longer fulfill them and they'll withdraw at best, leave at worst. So I want to "get over it", want to stop being reminded of my past, my pain.

I wish there was some kind of time line for this. A project plan with due dates, task lists, even meetings and go/no-go decisions. I want this process to be something I can organize, categorize, and understand the process of. I don't feel like I see that I'm reaching milestones. My therapist points them out to me, but since I am not actually feeling better I don't feel like I've accomplished anything.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Old Papers

I have been feeling low all day today. I woke up tired and with a sore throat, more evidence of having missed my allergy pills yesterday. I had gained more weight over the weekend. I felt irritated with myself, with what I have to work with in my life, with my career, and just cranky feeling. I got my work day going, calling into the daily status meeting. The rest of the day was filled with random problems and meetings. I called an end to it after trying to make progress with an installation and running into missing libraries.

In the mid-afternoon I had a surprise call. My friend, SS phoned to say she was going to be in my neighborhood and could she pop by so we could meet her new baby, Ezra. I got to spend 20 minutes holding her very active, 3 month-old boy while we caught up a little. It was just nice to sit with the baby, occasionally holding his feet and appreciating how small he is. I felt my mind considering what it might be like if this were CK's baby.

I had planned to go to the pool and try and get a good work out. I just felt apathetic and tired. I finally decided to stay home and deal with some boxes AM had brought in over the weekend. We're down to the last of them from the garage and I thought that maybe dealing with them would improve my mood. I quickly got sorted out making piles for recycling, donating, and trash.

It was in the second box I found the first letter from MM. Handwritten, loving, sexy and acknowledging the importance of our relationship. I sat there with it, uncertain what to do for a moment. Some instinct to continue to save this scrap of paper despite the fact it made my heart ache a little. I tossed it into the recycling bin.

The third box contained journal entries written onto pagers of a paper planner. A copy of the certificate from my first marriage. Page after page listing CDs purchased from OM, impersonating me, by the now defunct CD Warehouse. Strange to look at the marks I put next to CDs I knew were mine. Stranger still looking at my name on the signature line in OM's handwriting. Additional pages of bank statements showing unauthorized withdrawals and forged checks. I sat with them a little before feeding them into the recycling bin feeling the old memories churning. The echoes of emotions, betrayal and violation, rising up to the top.

Then came another letter from MM. This one done on a computer and printed out. More words of love. Promises that we would work on things, try to find a way through and words expressing how much I meant to her. Reading them I was also able to see some of the warnings that I would get over the time we were together. Her noting that no one could ever expect to really satisfy her now reads with an understanding of how I played an assigned part in her life.

It isn't as if I miss our relationship at all. It isn't fair to compare them truly, they are so different, but the depth of connection between CK and I is so much more than what MM and I shared. I feel so much a part of CK's life, that I am a wanted and included part. Her family knows about me whereas MM made effort to make sure her far distant parents couldn't possibly find out about her relationship with me. Just felt the hurt of the way she ended, or rather, let me figure out the relationship had ended. Rereading what she told me made me be able to clearly see and feel the sense of having been abandoned by her.

By the time I'd gotten through all the boxes I was feeling depressed, fat and my back hurt me. I had been feeling anxious after writing CK and telling her about the baby, thinking of a day when it would be our family. I felt such a rush of vulnerability in telling her, in revealing the way I think of a future together. In putting words to it, sharing it, I have a fear that I've said too much.

I'm trying to be compassionate with the depression I feel tonight. I know there is part of it that is rooted in irritation at feeling the sadness and unfairness of my childhood. I want to get past all of that and not keep having things bring it up. Yet it just keeps coming up, all the emotions I was told were inappropriate or I hid for fear of being yelled at, shamed. Some days it just feels like it is too much effort to do anything but try and be present for it.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Building Bonds

Today started with a little jolt. CK could sense something wasn't alright with me and we talked up about it until we had to get up to get ready to go to yoga class. I was feeling better by that time, although it was still a little frustrating to have to go back to the schedule of the day.

I find myself struck at how quickly she reads me, although she has often told me that it is the same feeling for her. To me the changes in her energy are so readily apparent, so immediately that it is difficult to imagine people not noticing when it happens. It really does support my Practice considerably to have loved ones who keep me present, who don't let me close up around my pain and fear into silence.

After yoga she and I went to the Coder's Summer Social at Laurelhust Park. When we went into yoga it was chilly and cloudy, by the time we changed at her flat the sun had come out and it was warming up. We had fun hanging out with local members of the Open Source community, ate yummy food and played an 8-hand game of Fluxx (pretty silly with that many people).

We headed back to her flat and ended up working on putting together some of the furniture we'd picked out at IKEA yesterday. Got the bed made, moved stuff and set to putting together the dresser. After putting nearly all of the drawers together we were looking forward to how to put on the rails. I realized, with my stomach dropping away, that we'd done them nearly ALL wrong.

I felt terrible. I'd been the one looking at the directions and missed that the sides were supposed to be turned the other way. Because of the plastic screws, which are a hammered in, we couldn't just take them all apart. I could feeling myself cringing, waiting to be yelled out or frozen out.

Instead we just swore over it. Put the last one together correctly. Drilled holes in another and put the rails on; it worked perfectly. I sat an on the floor drawing circles for the drilling to be done on the rest of the drawers. I was screwing in the rails when AM showed up to help haul away the old desk, shelves and giant cardboard.

It has struck me how we hit this bump tonight -- making a big mistake putting something together. Despite my reaction, my waiting for punishment of some sort, everything was just fine. We just got on with what needed to be done to fix it and it was no one's fault, or at the very least it was shared fault that didn't really matter. We both want to and are committed to getting past bumps in our road together. She talks to me, openly, even when it is hard and helps me to do the same when I get stuck on communicating and slide into silence.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The body's fears

When I lay down last night the wave of emotion that had rushed through me showed up in my body. I could feel how tight I was in my chest, how I was pulling in towards that tightness around my heart. The sensation of being ill as a young child, vulnerability combined with helplessness, really shook through me.

I hadn't noticed while I sat there writing how it was affecting me. It had it me in a big wave that felt settled once I had some tea and a banana. I felt a bit more of the anxiety at going to bed; feeling stuck in the intimacy road block/bump I have felt. Mostly I felt tired, but the shift in position really revealed how that wave of childhood emotion didn't pass on, it just settled into my chest and back.

I scooted myself up to CK, my back along her front -- little spoon. The sensation of warmth, the length of her behind me, combined with trying to mindfully breathe into the pockets of helpless fear and vulnerability helped me settle down somewhat. I felt her drift off to sleep while my mind still was wide awake. I did manage to get to sleep within the hour, but it was fitful. I awoke stiff and achy.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Friday on the Bridge

I'm not in the mood to write tonight. Just trying to go through the practice of it again. The routine of writing each night. It is easy for me to type quickly so I cannot even use the excuse of feeling to tired to sit and write by hand. I just don't feel like it. I feel the resistance of it, not wanting to stick with practice, just wanting to sit around with CK watching a show and being close.

She met me at the office today after work and we bicycled around downtown having dinner, picking up rain gear. On the way back we stopped and stood on the bridge, letting me work with some of my anxiety of being up on it, feeling exposed. Like writing when I don't want to, the practice of riding over the bridge will lead to good things in my life.

We got back on our bikes and road across the bridge and on to CK's flat. I started to change into my nightshirt and felt really ill, nauseated and shaky. When I realized I was cold we figured it was blood sugar and I had a banana and some tea.

I feel better now but when it first really hit, I plopped down on the sofa and felt a big wave of grief, misery, and helplessness. Something about nausea that makes me feel like a small child in a bad way. Just a feeling of being ill, helpless, vulnerable that somehow very young.

Friday on the Bridge

CK met me at the office today after work and we bicycled over to the Bridgeport Brewery in time to take advantage of happy hour pints. Vegan tofu "fries" with cashew sauce and hummus. Nice to see a few items listed as vegan on the menus there, this is a change from the last time I was there a couple of years ago. Made sure to mention on the way out how nice it was to see more vegan items, I figure feedback will only encourage more things!

I've always liked the beer at Bridgeport and it was nice to enjoy it on tap there. They redid the entire upstairs, where AM and I had our wedding in 2001, into a dining area. The whole downstairs is opened up as well, lots of seating. We sat upstairs and looked at the window and the parking lot construction happening across the street.

The tofu fries were very tasty. Thin strips of firm tofu deep fried in very hot oil -- tofu made into tasty junk food. It was crispy, light, and not very oily at all. The cashew sauce was a thin, creamy sauce with a big drop of Siracha style hot sauce in the center. Nicely flavored, it went well with the tofu fries.

Yet another hummus plate. The paprika olive oil was subtle and nice. The hummus was pretty standard. I really liked the herb and brine cured olives were very tasty. The brine level of them was a bit much for CK so I got to enjoy the whole lot of them.

Then on to REI to find rain gear for bicycling. Found a good jacket and pants, so I'm better prepared for rainy days. CK got a jacket too, the same one I did. We may look a little cute with matching jackets, but they fit well and are bright colored with reflective bits.

Rode back across the Broadway Bridge. Still a little unnerving to be on the bridge. After about a third of it we got off and walked our bikes for a little while. CK kept talking to me, pointing out all the beautiful things you can appreciate because you're up on the bridge. We stopped partway across and watched the MAX and cargo trains go by. The wind was gusty and when a very large truck or bus would go by on the bridge would shake and rock a little, shuddering under our feet.

It was beautiful and intimidating. The movement of the bridge feels very unstable. I feel a sense of dread too. If something catastrophic was to happen being up on the bridge is very vulnerable and I wouldn't survive it. I don't want to leave now, I don't want to leave the people I love. However, living in Portland it is the way I will get into work regardless of car, bicycle, MAX train or bus. I love the beauty of the bridges and that they're part of my life. Like writing when I don't want to, the practice of riding over the bridge will lead to good things in my life.