Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas Letter 2014

Christmas 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

Christmas Letter, as per the usual. Let's see, news...
A Biscuit in a basket
Added a Cat. I acquired a gorgeous white-and-biscuit-colored kitten in late Summer named, appropriately, Biscuit. He is exceedingly floofy (his tail looks like a vast pouf of cotton candy), and bids fair to be bigger than either Bunny or Squeaky George. He is already large and in charge, and indifferent to things like other kitties' Personal Space. Very much an Alpha kitty, and he chases both his older siblings up and down the hall, especially George. George is still rather hissy about this addition to the household, and yet his affinity for licking cannot keep him from occasionally giving Biscuit a bath. It usually goes like this:
1) *hiss*
2) *lick-lick-lick-lick*
3) George remembers he doesn't like Biscuit
4) *hiss*
5) George runs away

I should mention that George is a big old coward. Bunny is beautifully dignified, as always, although she has been annoyed into reminding Biscuit of his place with an occasional *whap* of her paw. Her regular response is to simply go away when he gets all up in her grill. When he is full grown, I suspect he will prove to be either be a Maine Coon or part Ragdoll, and MUCH bigger than either of them. Hopefully he won't be a bully. But he is far more affectionate and cuddly with me than either of them, so in the "Who does Mommy love best?" contest, he's pretty much already won. But I make sure the others get equal time. Although Biscuit's determined attempts to drape himself over my keyboard while napping in my lap is a nuisance. As is the curtain-climbing.

Discovered my Specific Allergies. I had pinkeye twice this Fall, and the second bout was so bad that my eye doctor got a little freaked out. The attending doctor insisted I go get my allergies checked (it was allergy-based conjunctivitis) and it turns out that I am allergic to dust mites, cockroaches, and dog hair. Thank God, not my cats! But I am starting to take steps to reduce the dust mites in particular, with special bedding, more aggressive cleaning, and eventually putting in hardwood floors.

Resumed Choir. I went back to singing alto with the Chamber Singers and Parish Choir at St. Bartholomew. I took a choral sabbatical in the Fall of 2013, and so when it started up again this year I jumped back in, and was relieved that the burnout I was feeling 12 months earlier was completely gone. I do seem to spend a lot of time singing... more in the last 5-10 years than in all the years prior to that! I genuinely prefer singing backup or harmonizing with other singers -- I have very little wish to be a soloist.

Pining for a Farm. This year I really began to long for a property out in the country, or at least remote enough that I could keep some livestock without bothering my neighbors. My dream situation is a few acres (conveniently located near interstate exits so I can be on the road to clients frequently) south of Nashville, a smallish house, and space for beehives, and eventually maybe even chicken and goats. I want to garden and putter about and have a project shed. I want to have barn cats. I am technically "looking," but with full knowledge that it will be an Act of God if such a property were to come available in my limited price range and location.

Acquired Furniture. I finally got the last two pieces I have wanted to get for some time; a china cupboard and a good dining room table and chairs. Both were bought secondhand from dear friends, and I cannot express the satisfaction I get every time I look across the room at them. It makes me feel like I’m FINALLY a grownup! However, the floor around them is usually covered in cat toys, so it is rarely as tidy as I would like.

Ran Out of Updates. Seriously, I am sitting here racking my brain for anything new to tell about events of the past year, and I am drawing a blank! Things happened; I worked, I had appointments with computer clients, I spent time with friends and family... but nothing particularly notable! So I shall leave it there. 2014: A quiet year for me; not necessarily for the rest of the world.

God bless you and your family in 2015.
Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.



Monday, November 10, 2014

Character Flaw or Characteristic?

Read this article on Introverts first:

I felt relieved reading this... some of the points made are about things I've always felt somewhat guilty about; I feared I was selfish and a navel-gazer. I don't like trivial small talk. If I ask you how you are, I actually want to know, and if you ask me, it never occurs to me that you don't actually want to know!

I hate answering the phone unless I am actively waiting for a call. The majority of calls I get make me pick up the phone to see who it is, and sigh and mutter "please just leave me alone!" unless it is friends or family. This is why I have come to prefer texting and email; it gives me time to consider my response, which apparently is what I need. In addition, I don't like in-depth phone calls, because I am missing a lot of visual cues that I need to gauge my response. They're fine for a brief exchange of information without all the "How are you?" preludes.

I don't tend to think of myself as being overstimulated when I get stressed out; but the distractions of people in conversation nearby makes me want to tear my hair out sometimes at work. I can't tune them out, and so I feel fragmented, and I can feel my energy draining out of me.

I have no problem being on stage. It's never frightened me, even when I was doing improv. I was mediocre at best, but it never made me nervous. I can stand in front of a group of people and talk to them at any time about anything.

When in a large group setting, like choral singing, or a classroom, I move to the periphery if at all possible. So for me it's not the aisle seat, which is worthless once you're in the air since you can't leave; I pick the window seat. If it's choir practice, I sit on the far right on the outer seat of the altos if I can. I have a rather low-grade claustrophobia, but I can manage it fairly well. I can sit in the middle... but it will take energy.

When it is night and time for bed, even in my own home I always feel relieved that I can go in my bedroom and shut the door; moreso if I am in company. Heck, I'm even relieved to shut the kitties out! They are distracting and wakeful. So you can imagine when I am at my yearly work convention with 12,000 attendees, and I'm running the General Information booth! So many times co-workers or friends want to go out and do something in the evenings... I just want to go home and recharge.

Conversely, once I've recharged, I need to expend some of that energy. I do need to be around people on an almost daily basis, but for much less time than everyone else, it seems. This is one reason I suspect I'm meant to stay single. I simply can't imagine what it would be like to have a husband who was always around!

Friday, May 09, 2014

Singleness vs. Long-Term Projects

Homesteaders: Pie Town, New Mexico 1940 October
Photo by Russell Lee
So... of late I have been newly aware of the limitations in being Single. For years, 95% of the time I have enjoyed my freedom and independence... leaving parties when I liked, only hanging out with people I like, doing nothing much when I come home from work except sit down and watch TV, eating food straight from the container, scheduling whatever I wish whenever I wish. Come and go as I bloody well please. When you live alone, there's no-one to annoy you, to compromise with, to take into consideration of when you make noise late at night or fart or don't feel like sharing food.

But there's also no-one to do Big Things with. My friendships tend to be primarily social, and don't generally extend into the nitty-gritty parts of daily life. If I have something in the car that is too heavy for me to bring up the stairs safely, too bad. If there is a spider to be killed, I have to do it. If the car is on the fritz, I have to find my own ride to and from the shop. If Squeaky George throws up his dinner in various places around the condo, I have to clean it up. If I want to go on vacation, there's no-one guaranteed available to go with me. There's no-one to feed the cats if I'm working late. If I have an accident, I have to drive myself to the hospital if I'm not incapacitated, or ride alone in the ambulance. This is part of the 5% of dissatisfaction I have with Single Life; fortunately it usually takes the shape of minor inconveniences. And I do have friends and family I can call for emergencies; they just aren't on-call, exactly!

However, lately I have been wishing for someone to team up with on projects. I need help doing those things I am too lazy to do, or need accountability to help follow through with worthwhile things. For example:
  • I wish I had someone to exercise with regularly, to go on walks with or to go to the gym with several times a week. I'd like someone who'd help me, as I would help him. A teammate.
  • I wish I had a partner to buy a piece of property and build a house together; like one of those Not-Too-Big Houses that is cosy and charming and well-designed.
  • I wish I had someone who wanted to plan & carry out home improvements; the kind of things I think would be nice in my house, but then I consider what it will entail, and that I will have to do it all on my own, and I sigh and forget about it.
  • I wish I had someone to do yard work with, in our own yard. I want to garden, to keep bees, and maybe someday even chickens and goats.
  • I wish I had someone to travel with. I really don't like the discomforts of travel, but if I can settle into a place for a week or more, I'd love to go back to England or Japan or Europe... but not on my own again. I need help.
  • I wish I had someone whose strengths complemented my weaknesses, and vice-versa.
And no, these are not tasks for a Friend, to my way of thinking. I have had dozens of friends leave town over the years, or marry and have children, or have other occupations that, because they aren't bound to me, they will want to do instead. Please don't make recommendations of That Nice Girl You Met That Time Who Is Single Too or That Guy at Our Church Who Is Always Available. I have plenty of folks like that around me already. I'm not lonely; I just need someone who isn't going anywhere, who is bound to me for a lifetime. And I'm spoiled enough by 40+ years of freedom to not just want SOMEONE; I'd like a husband who I'd enjoy the process with.

I'm afraid I have lost my romantic streak. I discovered recently that I found myself unexpectedly annoyed when watching Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo & Juliet. It doesn't feel romantic, it feels stupidly unnecessary. Romance fiction, rom-coms, etc. - no more enjoyment. Romantic love seems inconceivable. I've seen too many failed love affairs and too many horrific divorces. Since we all know that the spark of romantic love dies out eventually, and the best you can hope for is affection and mutual respect and friendship, I don't think this is necessarily a bad state of thought for me to arrive at... Although I kind of miss it; it's a nice world to visit and fantasize about being in love myself. But now I feel like someone living on a homestead in the wilderness who just needs someone to help bring in the crops.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Why I Hate Travel

It's that time of year again... time to plan for a trip to the beach for Spring Break or Summer vacation... or a trip to some lake or city or country... and once again I find myself in this unpleasant valley of no-where I actually want to go and with no-one to actually travel with. And yet, I pine for some kind of vacation.

I am actually happiest when I take off a week for vacation and actually stay home...
  • No need to pack
  • No need to travel
  • No need to spend money on an overpriced condo or hotel
  • No need to find someone to feed my cats
  • No need to worry about the fact that I have so few friends who want to/are available to vacation with me, or that I want to vacation with
  • No need to travel alone (which I used to enjoy, but now find boring and depressing)
  • I can get things done around the condo, like repairs and procrastinated decor ideas
  • I can hang out with friends for lunch and dinner, as opposed to being in a strange city where there's no-one to eat with
And yet... and yet, I feel this lack, this loss of some indefinable something. I haven't ever really enjoyed taking a trip, except for a handful of occasions that are difficult to duplicate, or were delightful for just one season in my life, and have failed when tried again (the aforementioned travelling alone). But I still feel this loss of something that everyone else I know seems to enjoy and expects to do, year after year.

There are circumstances under which I can imagine a vacation would be fun... the right group of people, the right location, that perfect balance of companionship and alone-time. But at this stage of my life, that all seems as likely as winning the lottery.

Why must this be so difficult a thing to accomplish?! Why does it seem so impossible? My cowardice and laziness are partly to blame, I know... my need for solitude is another. My limited relationships is another still. And I post this online, knowing that it will be seen by friends who would travel with me and are hurt and bewildered that I don't want to travel with them. It's nothing to do with them; it's to do with this strange block I seem to have, feeling smothered or claustrophobic with them in another city.

My family is not really an option either. We're not cold to each other, but we don't ever seem to think of each other as travelling companions. Probably because when we were growing up, we went on so few vacations.

Let me emphasize that I'm not writing this looking for ideas - I think I've heard them all. I've considered them all. I guess I'm writing it out, looking for some kind of inner acceptance that I am NOT a vacationer. I'd like to go to the beach... but literally the physical beach itself is all I care for. I'd like to be in London... but don't want to spend the money or take the flight. I'd like travelling companions... but want to be alone most of the time.

Is it possible to just be a Homebody, and be ok with it? To not feel some sense of loss or disappointment that I don't like travelling? To give up this fruitless and depressing battle every year to find some kind of holiday getaway? I don't know. I'm in my mid-40s and I've yet to find peace with it.