Don’t Be That Guy….

So, my partner and I love music, and we go to see live music whenever we can. This past weekend was a big one, Cat Empire on Friday and The Sunnyboys on Saturday.

Both shows were general admission, so you know right away that means standing for the whole show, and with popular gigs, you’re not going to have a lot of elbow room. But that’s part of the deal, and if I don’t know to expect that now, at 40, then I should turn in all my marbles and stay home.

So you know, you take it all in stride, and look forward to the music. That’s the whole reason you are there anyway, right?

Or so I thought.

It’s the reason WE were there. Can’t say the same for everyone else.

Sure, you may be shoulder to shoulder, wall to wall, for a couple of hours, but there is still some basic etiquette to observe…so here’s a few examples of “that guy” that we ran into over the weekend….please, stop the madness!

The Stoned Guy
The Cat Empire was a free show at an outdoor venue in Melbourne. Great weather, great night, and the 1,000th show for the Empire. Awesome. You know when it is free it’s going to be packed, and this was definitely the case. All the same, most folks still tried to give their neighbours a little breathing space, after all, you don’t stand still when the Empire is playing.

So all was great, until The Stoned Guy entered my personal dance space. Well, he more than entered my personal dance space, he almost crawled into my pocket.

Picture this, even though the venue is well full, there’s still the luxury of about 3 feet in front of me. I know it’s not going to last forever, but it was cool at the time. So, enter The Stoned Guy. Maybe 19 years old, too cool for school, sunglasses at night, you get the picture? He’s got three feet of real estate in front of me to make himself comfortable, and he chooses to stand directly in front of me, with the back of his shoes ON MY TOES. Honestly. Being, well, let’s just say, a little bit altered, he continued, over the next few songs to lean back into me, until he had separated me from my boyfriend in the crowd. At that point I told him we were swapping places, and physically moved him. I don’t think he had any idea that I’d moved him over about three feet.

The Drunk Guy
Same show, it’s a great night. The band is having a blast, the crowd is having a blast. And, being as it’s a milestone for the band, the lead singer decides to have a little chat with all of us. EVERYONE is listening except for ONE guy, who is talking at the top of his lungs to a group of people he apparently just met that he was so excited to have met (we all know, everyone at the show heard the whole thing), and, being drunk, we all heard it a bunch of times. So, I have no idea what the band was talking about, and I know way more about the drunk guy in the middle of the crowd than I want to.

Ugly Shirt Dude
This was the next night, at The Sunnyboys. As my boyfriend put it, this guy was clueless when he bought that shirt in the 70s and he’s clueless now. He’s a variation of The Stoned Guy, but adds to the space invasion by forcing me to stare at the back of the ugliest shirt I’ve ever seen (and I grew up in the 70s, so I know what I’m talking about here). He hit the whole row of people that I was in, because we would all get sick of it, and tell him to move somewhere else. I mean, I’m not tall by any stretch – I’m a whopping 5’3″, and this guy was easily over six feet, because it wasn’t just the short people in the crowd that couldn’t see past him. He would just plant himself right in front of you, cross his arms and stand there, like a statue. You didn’t even get the benefit of him dancing around a little bit to at least get a glimpse of the band.

And finally…

The “Oh Hi!!!” Girl
She actually reminds me of Big Bird, but it wasn’t her physical appearance that puts her on the list. Our theory is that she’s a groupie, she certainly seemed to know a bunch of Musos in the room, but she wasn’t in the VIP section…so who knows. But she wasn’t there to see the show, she was there to be seen seeing the show. I think that she only ever looked towards the stage by accident as she swivelled her head around looking to see who she might see. I swear, every time someone crossed through the crowd, she would light up and pull them over for A CONVERSATION. DURING A LIVE SHOW.

Of course, it’s hard to hear people talk during a live show. BECAUSE OF THE MUSIC. THAT WE ARE ALL THERE TO HEAR. So of course, she needed to talk louder, and repeat the same thing over and over….I think I missed two whole songs as she was having her little reunion right in front of me for a while. Finally she moved away from us and closer to the sound booth where she got told off by another person who was actually there for the band. Imagine that.

Honestly, if you want to have a conversation, get the heck out of the middle of the venue. It’ll take less time, you’ll probably only have to say everything once, and the rest of us can get on with enjoying the music. And if you’re greatest aspiration is to be a statue, why bother going into a crowded place where no one can appreciate your ability to stand so still for so long? Find a nice park or courtyard where you can be noticed and appreciated for your skill, but stop standing in front of me.

Please, if you go to a show, don’t be that guy. Be mindful of the folks around you so that everyone can enjoy the show, and get a little groove on. It’s not that hard. Really.

Common Core…Wait…What?

Ok, I am long out of doing maths in a classroom. And to be honest, I am a letters and pictures girl. I prefer to read and draw. When I was in school, a long, long time ago, I struggled with maths. Thankfully, I had some great teachers in high school that helped me see the problems my way, and find the logic. I never did come to love proofs in geometry but eventually I got there.

Later, when my sister went through school and needed help with polynomials, I found that math came a little easier. Maybe because the pressure was off, maybe because when you need to teach something you find different ways to understand it. Who knows. But math is no longer an evil horrible thing for me.

That being said, while math has always been a necessary part of my life, I still gravitate towards the letters and pictures. However, I no longer believe I am an imbecile in math.

The reason I think back to my math teachers in high school is because they worked with me to find a way that I understood the problems and could find the correct solution.

All things being equal, thank god they never tried to teach me using common core. It just doesn’t make sense to me. WHY ON EARTH WOULD I ADD A BUNCH OF NUMBERS TO FIGURE OUT THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THEM?

I’m sorry, it just doesn’t make sense. And I am exceptionally grateful that neither my brain-dwelling hamsters, nor my two cats, will ever be enrolled in a school where I have to explain common core to them so that they understand.

Seriously, why can’t 32-12=20. Maybe it’s just because I am a letters and numbers girl, but when asked what the difference is between 32 and 12, I immediately picture it in my head as if it were up on the chalkboard, just like in the old days:

32
-12
—–
20

Seems pretty simple to me.

What does not seem simple is:

To subtract 12 from 32, add the distance from 12 to 15, the distance from 15 to 20, the distance from 20 to 30 and the distance from 30 to 32. 3+5+10+2=20.

Wait….what???

Seriously?

Clearly I am missing something, or perhaps I really am an imbecile when it comes to Maths after all, but you all can keep your common core, and I’ll stick with my chalkboard pictures.

How A 1970s Girl Was Inspired by a 1950s Woman

A friend of mine from high-school just shared this http://themattwalshblog.com/2013/10/09/youre-a-stay-at-home-mom-what-do-you-do-all-day/ on Facebook. I’ve seen it pop up over the last few days but for whatever reason, didn’t read it.

Until now.

First, I’d like to say to @MattWalshRadio: Congrats, dude – you’ve nailed it smack on the head, and I appreciate the fact that you appreciate what is really important. Ferris Beuler said “If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it.” And personally, I think we all miss it, most of the time.

I was born in 1973. My parents divorced when I was around 5 years old (which was better for all of us, trust me), and in the 1970s that meant I lived full time with Mom. Now, she wasn’t a bad woman, but she wasn’t right, in the head, and as an adult I can now say that she truly did the best she could.

I remember watching “Leave it to Beaver” when I was a kid, and I remember that she would either recoil at it, or make snide comments, but I really respected June Cleaver. She had it going on. That household ran like a clock, and the whole family knew that they needed her to do what she did so that they could do what they did.

Mom went back to college maybe a year after the divorce. As a result, I basically grew up on university campuses and spent more time around her professors and classmates than my own peers, but that suited me better anyway. I grew up with all the opportunities ahead of me that she felt were important, opportunities that she had to fight for. A totally different world from the Cleaver family.

Mom was born in 1952. The expectation from her parents was that she should meet a nice guy, get married, raise children and take care of a household. Well, from first-hand experience, let me tell you, this was really not her thing. I never met her mom, my grandmother, but from what I know, she would have been super proud of her. My grandfather, well, let’s just say it took a bit longer for him to really understand WHY she would even think about something like archaeology and anthropology, but he did get there. Because he loved her.

So, there I was, along for the ride if you asked me, but she needed me to be a part of everything. I remember her asking me to quiz her before her undergrad and graduate exams. I remember going to her classes when I needed a break from my own school (because I was socially awkward and couldn’t relate to my own peer group, so trust me, I needed a break). I remember emulating her with my very own legal pad and flair tip pen. I remember her linguistics professor asking for me to come to class with her because I was young enough to be able to pronounce Tagrinian words that had a glottal stop because I was young enough, basically, that I didn’t realize “I Shouldn’t Be Able To.” As a result, now, I am a polyglot, speaking over five languages, and that is a skill I cherish about myself. And I am grateful to her for.

What didn’t I learn from her? How to cook, how to sew, how to balance a checkbook, how to clean, all of the “normal” things that her parents, my grandparents, felt it was most important to know. For a girl. All of the things that I knew June Cleaver knocked out of the park every day. All of the things I’m figuring out now, at 40.

Over the course of my 40 years walking this earth so far I have been blessed to be able to: design lighting for the stage (and an Irish pub in NYC, who knew); work as a corporate and IP paralegal; be part of a founding team for a children’s theatre that continues to rock the house to this day (long past my involvement); care for and handle alligators and snakes and vicious snapping turtles. I have been a development editor for “The Complete Idiot’s Guides,” and I have been a Production Manager for one of the biggest touring entertainment companies until the end of last year.

I have loved everything I have done in my life. And that’s the key. Everything I did before I did something else enhanced what I was able to bring to that something else. I am weird, I am beyond quirky, but I live by one major philosophy that I absorbed from both of my parents. I may not have lived every day with my Dad, but he is my best friend, and book-ended my Mother’s unique approach to parenting with this:

“I don’t care if you flip burgers at MacDonalds, as long as when you get up in the morning you are excited to go and do what you do.”

When I got that gig as Production Manager for that huge touring company, a lot of people made a fuss. “Ooh, you’re the only woman PM (at the time)” “You’re breaking down barriers.”

Glass ceilings, responsibility to my fellow women-folk, yada yada yada.

I was merely following the path ahead of me by doing what I loved to do.

In the process of doing that, I met the man that I love to love.

A few years ago, while we were both working on tour together, he needed to go home to take care of his Dad. He was conflicted at first about telling me, because he knew he needed to go home and do this, but he had this crazy thought that he would lose me if he did. I did my best to disavow him of that notion, and it must have worked, because here we are, a few years later, and we are together and figuring out how to do this whole thing, together. I don’t really know why he ever thought he would lose me, not for certain, but I guess it might be because I was my job. And I don’t regret that. He knew that for me, I am what I can do, and maybe he thought that I would choose what I was doing over him. Fair enough, because at that point, what I did consumed me.

I am what I can do. A powerful thought, but it can’t be everything.
A few months in to my still being away on tour, and his being at home, in Australia (which isn’t near to ANYTHING, by the way)…I really didn’t think I could make it. I hated being away from him. I hated knowing he was slowly saying goodbye to his only remaining parent, and I WASN’T THERE. I did my best to be there whenever possible, and that huge company we worked for supported us in ways I never would have imagined, but I really wanted to BE THERE. I wanted to do the simple things, like make soup, take out the garbage, get groceries, give a hug. Anything, any little thing. I wanted to be his June Cleaver.

But we had agreed that I would stick it out, because at one point he thought he might come back to work for a while, so we were very pragmatic about it. When his father, who was a beautiful man, did pass, I knew he was home for good. And I knew, I wanted to be there. So we talked about it, and we agreed on a timeline. The show I was managing had some complicated markets that required a lot of pre-planning that I was already in the midst of. I knew I wanted to deliver the show to those markets. Yes, in my role, I wanted those marks on my belt. I wanted those achievements. But he also didn’t want me to regret leaving. He knew I had to finish this too. It was tough, and again there were several times where I was so torn — I was committed to my team, but I wanted to be Home. And he wanted me home too, but he knew this was important to me. Home is where we are together, but that can only happen when we support eachother.

So we stayed the course, we stuck to the plan (with several pep talks from him to me), and we are now well on the other side.

I announced my departure almost a year prior to my actual resignation date to give my bosses and my team time to adjust, but also to give myself the time to leave things the best I could. I was leaving one family to create another, and I wanted to make sure I did it honourably.

Maybe because of my mother’s unique qualities, in the past, no one had ever asked me when I would get married or have kids. But when I announced to my friends and family that I was resigning from this position to move to Australia to be with my Love, well….

Suddenly, it all came out.

“But what are you going to do?” “When are you getting married?” “When will you have babies? (ok, I’m 40, we have two furry babies that I don’t need to worry about sending off to the prom from a walker, so we’re good there). And the kicker:

“HOW CAN YOU RESIGN THIS POSITION. YOU ARE THE ONLY WOMAN IN THIS POSITION IN THIS COMPANY. YOU ARE ONE OF THE FEW WOMEN AT THIS LEVEL IN THIS INDUSTRY. HOW CAN YOU GIVE THAT UP?!?!”

Ok, let’s all have a group reality check. First, I’m not too worried about the marriage thing, my Love just imported me to his home. Literally. He vouched for me and made declarations of his feelings to his own government and everything to make sure I could be here. I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty huge to me. And as far as my position before? I earned everything I achieved, through blood, sweat and tears….NOT GENDER. So it really shouldn’t matter whether or not I decide to make a change. I do not believe that I am being arrogant when I say that I believe I was the right person for that position for the time I held it. And I am proud of what I achieved with my team. But I did NOT give anything up when I decided to resign. I listened to what my parents taught me in their various ways, and I knew that the core message was to follow my heart. And that’s what I have always done. And that’s what I am doing now.

So, now? I work from home. Oooooh. Bet that got a few people there. Let me tell you, even I thought I’d have a few luxurious mornings when I was counting the days until I would be Home. But the reality is, I didn’t just come home, to Australia, to the other side of the world from everything, to be self employed. I didn’t come here with the primary purpose of work at all (I just know I get bored easy and people seem to insist on exchanging money for goods so it’s kind of necessary) but no…I came home to be with my Love and to take care of US to the best of my ability. And I don’t sleep in, I’m up earlier than I was when I was on tour with a “Job” and I constantly feel like there are just not enough hours in the day.

I wake up in the morning and sure, I’m thinking about contracts and schedules and things for the work I’m currently doing now, but bigger than that is what do I need to do today for us? What am I making for dinner? What do our furry babies need to continue to grow into healthy, happy cats? What do I need to do to take care of our house, the house my Love grew up in?

My to do lists are usually like this:
Plan menu for the week
Get plants for back yard
Sow grass seeds on front lawn
Clean grout
Get cat food
Invoice for March
Create template for genealogy research questionnaire

So you see, the “work” that generates an income hits the bottom of the list as it comes to mind. That doesn’t mean I don’t do it, but to me the balance of this list is just fine.

I LOVE planning a meal for when my Love comes home from work and seeing him go for seconds.
I LOVE being able to be here to do silly things like get more of the muesli bars he likes to have for snacks at work.
I LOVE being here when he comes home.
I LOVE taking care of our home, together.
I LOVE the fact that we have regular TV shows that we watch together.
I LOVE being Home.

I still work for that huge company, as a sub-contractor. I’ve also re-started a prior endeavour of providing genealogy research. These are things I love doing. But I love being where I am more than that, and I love finding the best way I can to take care of US everyday more than anything else. My Love? He supports me, he knows I need to work, but he also says thank you for everything I do for US all the time. He seems to constantly find things for us to do together that I will love, he enjoys surprising me, he keeps me laughing, and nurtures my soul in ways that I would never have thought possible. He even puts up with me being a bit of a “Monica” and is adapting. With humour.

So did I give up something for this?

Not at all. I hit the benchmarks I needed to hit for my own professional development. Honestly, I got what I needed from the corporate entertainment world (now there’s an oxymoron) that I was a rare component of (apparently, being a woman, whatever). And I bring all of that to where I am now.

Which, I have to say, blows my mind every day.

June Cleaver, in a different generation, put in the Production Management position I recently resigned from, would have blown everyone away.

Go ahead, think about what it takes to run a household. What it takes to make sure everyone is eating healthy, and that the cupboards are stocked, and the house is clean. Really think about that. And go on, tell me it’s not work. I dare ya.

To everyone out there that works from home – in any capacity – I salute you. I’m just figuring it out now, and the learning curve is steep!

Give Me all Your Marbles

Ages ago, somewhere in the mid 1990s, I was working for a concert venue in Rhode Island, and we had a comedian on the slate for the evening. I am ashamed to say that I cannot, for the life of me, remember his name, but I do remember one particular bit that he did….I think of it at least once a day. If anyone out there knows who this comedian is, please let me know, because I’d love to give him credit for continuing to make me laugh every day.

The premise of this bit was simple.

Everyone should start the day with ten marbles. If someone catches you doing or saying something stupid, you have to give them a marble. When you are out of marbles, YOU MUST GO HOME. That’s it for the day. You are done.

I fervently believe that this is a system that should be incorporated globally.

So, that person ahead of you in traffic who has had their directional on for 5 miles and is in the center lane of a three lane road? Personally, I believe that every time they pass a turning and do not take it, and still keep their directional on, they should lose a marble. That would get them off the road pretty quick.

People who not only approve but INSTALL billboards with horrific grammar and spelling mistakes. C’mon – the letters are BIGGER THAN YOU. That’s gotta be worth at least a few marbles right there, if not a week’s worth.

People who write tax codes, for any country. That’s a lot of marbles.

The guy who came to my front door yesterday saying he was not a salesman, but that he was looking for community interest in solar panels, which he sells…..yeah. At least one marble.

Me, when I pour the hot water in my coffee cup, rather than the coffee maker….yep, that’s a marble.

The guy who thought it was a great idea to put up a sign in downtown Boston during the middle of the Big Dig that said “If Rome had been built in a day we would have hired their contractors.” Funny the first time I was stuck in construction traffic staring at it….not the subsequent gazillion times….Marbles please.

If you say “do you see what I’m saying?”. Give me a marble. You are not a cartoon, so no, I cannot see what you are saying.

The great benefit to this philosophy, is this…when you start racking up the marble count as you go through your day, and assigning a marble value to the stupid things we all do. And yes, we all do stupid things. Well, it’s just that much more difficult to get angry about it. For me, it makes me crack a grin, adjust my marble tally, and move on. It becomes a story, rather than a moment in my life when I might have been inspired to do violence.

The list of marble offenses is long, I’ve barely scratched the surface here….but it gets the juices flowing, doesn’t it?

So far, I’ve started off well by making my coffee correctly the first time around. I still have all my marbles for the day, but I haven’t left the house yet.

Carpe Diem….

I like to think of myself as being organized and productive. My other half calls me “Monica” from Friends, as a gentle jab to let me know maybe I’m trying to make things too organized. He’s constantly reminding me that everything does not have to be planned. And these are good reminders. Necessary reminders. It can be pretty easy for me to get mired in the little stuff and let bigger opportunities pass me by.

An example, we a fortunate enough to have a boat and about a zillion fishing rods. We both love to fish. We both love to be out on the water. The only hitch in the plan for me is it usually requires getting up well before the sun, which I feel is…unnatural. After all, if the sun has not gotten up yet, why should we?

So, I was dragging my feet about taking advantage of this beautiful Australian summer weather and going out on the boat, purely because I didn’t want to get out of bed that early. That’s the only reason.

Well, yesterday, I picked up my feet, we set our alarms for 4:30 in the morning, prepped everything the night before and off we went. And I got to spend a beautiful sunrise with the love of my life out on the water in Port Phillip Bay, with half a dozen rods in the water and camera at the ready.

We had a gorgeous morning out on the water….absolutely gorgeous – the weather cooperated, and while the big Snapper did not, I did manage to catch quite a few pinkies which was just as fun.

WHY….WHY….WHY do I insist on having to learn the same lesson over and over and over?

Because, of course, what happened? We had huge smiles on our faces, enjoyed a beautiful morning, and there I was, in the truck on the way back home begging my other half not to let my whinging about early morning alarms get in the way of us doing this again soon.

That’s just one example. I also fall victim to procrastinating the persnickity jobs around the house that I dread doing, but feel hugely proud of myself when they are done. And really, persnickity they may indeed be, but it’s not taking a whole lot out of my day to do them, and I love the result…why put it off?

It’s a dangerous cycle, and it all comes back to overthinking things, something I am an old hand at. I think about it too much, when it really would be best, most of the time, to just jump in and do it. I try to remember to stop and smell the roses, but sometimes I forget that stopping to smell the roses does NOT actually include stopping and overthinking and talking myself out of things that are good.

So today my motto is Carpe Diem, today is the day to enjoy the fruits of our labors, to enjoy eachother, and to take care of the things that are most important….yep, Today is the DAY!

I’ll post back tomorrow and let you know how long this leaf stays turned over, but I am determined to think positive!

Where the heck did February go?!?!?

Really, I don’t know if February checked in with any of you guys out there before it decided to piss off, but it certainly didn’t check in with me first.

And while we’re at it, where did 2013 go? And my twenties? And when did my itty bitty kittens turn into mountain-lion sized cats?

The hamsters and I have just come out of a conference with ourselves, and we’ve decided this whole thing is just not on.

And can anyone really, incontrovertibly, prove, without a shred of doubt, that there are truly 24 hours in a day?

We think there’s a conspiracy afoot.

I mean, think about it….how many to do lists just cannot possibly get finished in a single day? Don’t start with me about unrealistic expectations and reasonable goals, my goals are perfectly reasonable, the time just disappears. I mean, there is no reason I can’t do all the grocery shopping, read two books, watch a favourite movie, Skype all of my family, write three letters, do the laundry, send my invoices, and mend my boyfriend’s pajama pants all in one day, if there were really a full 24 hours.

There really has to be something going on here. Let’s take daylight savings time, for starters, which just mucks everything up. And how does it make sense if it’s not the same everywhere? I’m in Australia, and our daylight savings is different from the USA….and we’re already in the future here compared to my folks in Boston, MA, so yeah….something is definitely afoot.

Last I checked, I was still on tour, it was early December 2013, and I was waiting with bated breath to be able to get on a plane and fly home to Melbourne to be here permanently. It was taking forever at the time. Now, I look up and suddenly, almost overnight, it’s basically March of 2014.

I just don’t know how it happens. The hamsters don’t have any answers either.

I think the kittens know. When I asked them they remained silent but got these looks on their faces….like they knew, but they just wouldn’t tell me. Maybe the cats are behind the conspiracy, I don’t know, but could someone please help me find all my lost hours? They’ve got to be out there somewhere.

Maybe with all the lost left socks.

I am determined to get to the bottom of this.

PTSD = Putting The Stuff Down

Ok. First. I am not being flippant about PTSD. I have been diagnosed with it, I come by it honestly. If you’ve read other posts in my blog you might figure out why, but that’s not really the point here. I just want it to be understood that I have reworded the acronym as a mantra to myself, NOT as a mandate to other sufferers of PTSD. I can only discuss my experiences, and I would never judge, belittle or mandate someone else’s process.

All I know is, I can’t make the PTSD go away, no matter how much I would like to. I have to accept the fact that, depending on the day, I may always feel the symptoms of it. I will jump at loud noises, at times I will not want to talk, at all. I will try my best to avoid what is really eating at me and sometimes that means I try to avoid people. And I will experience everything else that comes with it. Teeth grinding, night-sweats, flashbacks, mis-associating current events with past events. These are things I have had to accept. However, I do NOT accept being ruled by it, as I once was. I have to accept it but find my way to cope with it. Denying does no good (trust me, I tried that). So Put The Stuff Down works for me. Even if some days I have to say it A LOT. And while my PTSD was certainly not instigated by what I talk about here, I definitely taste the flavor in my recent experiences. I suppose it’s like a spice that you just can’t shake the taste of. And it can pop up in the most surprising times and places.

I wrote ages ago about how your dreams need to be big enough to scare you, else you are not doing yourself justice. You are selling yourself short. And now, I am living my dream. A dream that I frequently worried I did not have the patience to wait for, a dream that I thought would just go poof right before I got there….A dream that I was terrified I would wake from, and never be able to get back to.

Well, it didn’t go poof. I’m in it, now. And I constantly feel the need to pinch myself. And it’s amazing, and terrifying, and…I notice myself smiling all the time. So that’s all good, right?

But then I also wrote about that awful other hamster. The one not actually featured or allowed on my blog unless I’m casting him out. I’m not talking about Past, Present or Future hamster. They’re all ok. They’re allowed. They’ve passed their security checks. And so we’re clear, Past Hamster should not be confused with that other Hamster…who is a derivative of my PTSD. They are two different things. Your past is the tapestry of the building blocks that make you who you are. PTSD is, well, like a solvent to the mortar between those building blocks. No, the other hamster I’m talking about the is the Fear-Monger Hamster. The Lying Hamster. The False Evidence Appearing Real Hamster. As I’ve warned before, he’s insidious, and devious, and downright nasty. He can take a perfectly good day, and, if I listen to him, transmogrify it into something dark and scary. I think I’ve mentioned it before, but just so we are all on the same page, this particular hamster really annoys the crap out of me. I hate him.

But he’s clearly been nibbling away at his restraints. I think I need to send my other hamsters to martial arts classes to keep him from getting this close.

You see, my dream, that I’m living now, which is beyond anything, ANYTHING, I would have ever imagined for myself, is that I am living on the other side of the world, with an amazing man who loves me, who makes me laugh, who makes me feel safe, who makes me feel like I belong with him, in this beautiful country, here. Five years ago we met, and I thought, instantly, “wow….I really like this guy. I mean, I really, really like this guy. But, hey – I’m just out of a bizarrely awful breakup, and I should take things slowly. Make sure I heal from that.”

And I did take time. It was two years after we met before we actually started dating. And I thought I had healed. And, if I’m honest, I really did. I have healed. I almost took too much time though, at least that’s what my love tells me when we talk about how we got to know each-other and how we finally decided to give it a go. It was sheer serendipity that we didn’t both succeed in talking ourselves out of taking the chance. But that’s a story for another time.

So, that Furry Fear-Monger, he is incessant. When it’s quiet, and I let my guard down, there he is, nibbling away.

Because you see, that bizarrely awful breakup, was with someone that I had thought was pretty perfect. I’ll call him Wally. And with Wally it was all perfect. Until suddenly, it wasn’t. And I guess that’s the big difference that I need to remember.

Don’t get me wrong, my love and I, well – it’s a fairy tale for me, in so many ways that I cannot even begin to describe. But are either one of us perfect? Not a chance. I annoy him, he annoys me–at different times and for different reasons of course. But none of those things are a big deal. In reality we are simply two imperfect people who want to be with each-other. That’s the key – we WANT to be with each-other. And for all of our individual imperfections, I believe we make a perfect pair.

So where does Putting The Stuff Down come in?

It comes in during those quiet times, when that stupid Furry Fear-Monger takes advantage, and I flash back to when it went so very wrong with Wally, and sometimes, the bad Hamster can blur the lines between then and now. Just enough for me to do a double take.

You see, Wally was really good with words. He used words so well I believed him, even if something about his actions just didn’t smell quite right. I met Wally after having been significantly single for several years. And what he said, well, I thought that was what I wanted. I thought I wanted someone texting me all the time to tell me they were thinking about me. I thought I wanted someone to tell me they want me to move in and marry them. And, yes, I did want that, but I wanted someone who not only said the right things, but did the right things, and Wally wasn’t so good at doing the right things.

And then it all went instantly pear-shaped, and although his prior actions had seemed relatively benign at the time–at least without the benefit of the hindsight glasses….well, let’s just say that putting those on was a shock to the system for sure.

I could drag it all out but in the end, it all seemed perfect because Wally really wanted it to be perfect. He didn’t just want it to be perfect, he NEEDED it to be perfect. But, because it wasn’t really perfect, and the alternate routes to perfection were also not working for him, one day he found someone who really did make it perfect for him. And that someone wasn’t me. And therefore, I came home from work one day and it was time to go, within two hours. It was all over. No talking. Pack ya bags.

And you know what, I didn’t really want to talk about anything. It was like a cold glass of water got thrown in my face, and all those actions that I had noticed but, hell, ignored, justified, whatever, suddenly they were all tap dancing in front of me and I knew, it was over before it started. So I packed up my stuff and left. But, wow, no matter how much I knew that it was the best thing for me to get the hell out right then and there and never look back, it taps on my shoulder. And I find myself wondering, what did I do wrong? What if I do it again, whatever it was? THAT is from my PTSD. That has nothing to do with Wally or my love, it has to do with something completely separate. I know, when the stupid Furry Fear Monger is safely restrained, that I didn’t do anything wrong. Wally and I were a concoction, one that I think he wanted to be real for a period of time but he just couldn’t keep up the farce when it became clear to him that he wasn’t being true to himself. Whether being true to himself made him a good or bad person is irrelevant. We all go through our shit and sometimes we take people with us. Most of the time, I am good with remembering that.

Hindsight is 20/20. No doubt. But it doesn’t take away all those moments before you had the hindsight, when you really thought you were actually walking down the rosy path to…something good and just didn’t know how dead the roses were. It doesn’t take away the fear that you might just be an idiot with no sense of observation and you could really be living a life of the worst kind of groundhog day.

Well, at least not if you are me.

Way back when, I had really thought Wally was perfect. Too-good to be true perfect. Like NOTHING either one of us said was ever wrong. Ever. That takes a lot of concentration, and effort, and manipulation, and I fell for it. I mean, really? What true, honest, open relationship involves two people who always say exactly the right things? ALWAYS? You can check in with Hollywood if you like, but even I can tell you, that makes for a pretty stale script.

So, fast-forward through all of that to now. Today, my love will tell me, honestly, exactly what he thinks. And I love that about him. I may be disappointed at times when we don’t agree on something, but in the end, whatever we might disagree about we actually find a way to meet in the middle, naturally. I know from his actions, that he is genuine with me. Good or bad, pretty or ugly, it doesn’t matter. He is himself with me and is expecting me to be myself with him. I am not afraid to be upset by something because I am not afraid to tell him what I am upset about. Most of the time I am not afraid to be imperfect–as long as the Furry Fear Monger is still in his chains.

So when the Furry Fear Monger nibbles through a bit of those restraints, and gets a bit more reach into my head, I know it, because that’s when I start to find myself fearful of making a “mistake.” I find myself second guessing whether my love really wants me here or if he’s just following through on his words. And that’s when I tell myself to PTSD, or Put The Stuff Down. Because the stuff, it’s…exhausting, and…well…it’s just a complete waste of time, of my NOW, of my dreams.