The Precipice

You know the feeling you get when you can’t remember a word, or maybe where you put your car keys? You know you know that word, you know you set your keys down…. somewhere. That knowledge sits in your head, just out of reach but so close you can feel it looming there. You can almost see it, almost feel your mouth forming the word, but you just.. can’t.. quite …. but then you do. It all comes rushing in like a hammer blow and you feel a little silly for how long it took, but you relax your shoulders you didn’t know you’d tensed and release the breath you hadn’t realized you’d been holding.

As most, or perhaps all of you know, I lost my job recently. Two weeks today I’ve been unemployed, and while I can’t say that I’m particularly eager to begin working another dead end job that I’ll learn to hate in a year, I am beginning to feel anxious over not having any money. I dislike having to survive on the charity of others. I dislike more the idea of comparing myself to those who are able but unwilling to pull their own weight and support themselves or do their part to care for their families. Most of all, I dislike the realization that I am enjoying not working entirely too much. Oh, I’m going through the motions. I have registered with job seeking sites, I’m updating my resumé, I’ve applied for unemployment, I’m scanning the newspaper for job ads and looking up the classifieds online, and I’m making every effort to get an interview with AAA for the available receptionist position. But I’ve come to realize, through some rather painful self-analyzing, that I’m not doing these things as assiduously as I could. I ought to be conducting my job hunt with a will, but I’m conducting it more with a sense of obligation. I don’t want to get to the point where Etrius and Turtle resent me for not paying my fair share of rent, utilities, food, etc. and I don’t want to leave my parents unable to pay the mortgage I promised I’d pay half of after I moved out until the house is sold. I only wish that I could pay for these things in such a way that it would not seem such a sacrifice of my life, sitting at a desk for 8 hours of every day, trying my best to make people I don’t care for happy so that I don’t get sent away from doing the work I hate doing.

All of this, I’ve been thinking about almost constantly for the last couple of days. I keep thinking about my artwork and the business that Turtle and I want to open. I keep thinking, if only there were some way that I could take the time that I have now.. and these days I have a lot of time.. and use it to make this thing take off before I completely run out of money.

And now, I feel as though I’m on the brink of something. Like I’m teetering between remembering a word I’d suddenly forgotten or losing it from my vocabulary altogether; finding my keys under some papers on the table, or having to have a new one made.

I picture myself standing on a precipice. A step forward and I fall off the ledge, a step behind and I’m pressed to a cliff face. And my choices are this: I can turn back and begin my climb, where the going will be difficult and my body will begin to get weary but I can see where I’m placing my feet and I know the rock is solid if unrelenting and bleak… or I can step out into the open air and trust that the seemingly endless fall into oblivion will instead prove to be only a short drop to a wide platform hidden from above where I can move about freely and fill the space with beautiful things.

I wish I could tell myself that these aren’t just foolish notions. Talk of dreams and of goals set to unattainable levels in order to reach higher than I thought I could is all very well, but when others depend on you or when you don’t want to have to depend on others, practicality and the safety of climbing the cliff face will always win out.

I don’t want to post this. It’s not much for motivation. I’m just trying to get my thoughts in order. Well I’ve done it I suppose.

Squabbling for Healthy Living

It occurred to me recently that I may finally be beginning to understand the benefits of squabbling with friends and loved ones. I have always been terrified of confrontation and will go to great lengths to avoid it if I can. The thought of another person – friend, relative, co-worker or stranger – being angry or upset with me has always made me uncomfortable, to put it mildly. The moment someone voices a firm objection to something I’ve said, I immediately lose all ability to speak, think, and behave like a normally functioning human being. I remain silent, because suddenly I can’t remember anything relevant to respond with to support my side of the argument, yet I am reluctant to cave and just say “yes, I am wrong” if I don’t believe I am. Then when the other person inevitably pushes me to say something, I begin to stammer, starting sentences that never get finished.  “I just – -“, “I don’t – -“, “I’m sorry – -“… and so on. Then I clam up again and start to fidget and sweat until my throat hurts and my chest feels tight and I can’t make eye contact. All in all it’s a pretty unpleasant feeling.

I think the root of my fear lies in an inability to comprehend the act of making up once a fight begins. I find it difficult to imagine that, unless one party concedes the other’s point and the two agree, the fight will actually end. It’s irrational, of course, yet the unconscious (until recently) belief that someone I love will be angry with me for the rest of our lives is crippling and caused me to begin avoiding all confrontation with almost anyone at a very young age. Until recently.

Now, what I mean by ‘recently’ is really closer on a year or so. Little by little, helped along by Etrius’s straightforward nature, I’ve been learning to let go of my fear. And then, thanks to a misunderstanding with Jaims that changed my life, the lesson was slammed home and *poof* that’s how epiphanies are born. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s back up.

Prior to Etrius, I was in a relationship that was riddled with unvoiced arguments and smothered disagreements. Not to say everything was all bad, all the time, but we were just about as different as two people can be. He was an outgoing, opinionated, well spoken self-defense instructor. I am an idealistic, squeamish-in-the-face-of-violence daughter of a one-time hippie. Needless to say, we differed on a lot of morals and ideas, and I began to attempt to act how I thought he wanted me to. I think, now, that I was wrong, but that’s irrelevant. The point is that I failed at being someone else, so I just became a very quiet, sullen me.

Unfortunately, this is a story that I have repeated more times in my life than I care to try to count. But then I met Etrius who, as I said before, is incredibly straightforward and he, like myself, is a terrible liar. Which means that when I’d say or do something he disagreed with, he’d just tell me. It wasn’t often, and it was almost never serious, but it was that simple. He’d tell me, and then move on. Like it didn’t matter. So eventually, without thinking about it or realizing it was happening, I started to do the same. Gradually, naturally, we started to retaliate when the other would do this. Not viciously, or angrily like the word might imply. Usually teasingly. And without ever knowing it, I was learning to argue.

Then Jaims and I had a fight. Not a fist fight or even a shouting match. It was a month long marathon of silence. I’ll spare you the details of why it happened, as they are unrelated to the point I’m trying to make, but I’ll tell you a bit about what it was like.

Jaims and I have been best friends since childhood, and we’d never had a real fight. I had no idea what it was like, until it happened, to be seething with a constantly boiling anger at the same person that I desperately wanted to telephone just to say “I miss you.” I felt like a steel rod forged with a flaw in the center. On the outside, cold and hard and unyielding, but give one good twist and I’d collapse like a piece of straw. That twist was finally delivered with a text message. “What’s up, why aren’t you talking to me?” Let loose the floodgates and  onward into war! In short, I lost it.  Several long, angry text messages later, I sat in my car crying “I’m sorry” into my cell phone and we eventually realized that the root of our entire problem had been an unfortunate misunderstanding. A fire that, as we learned to our dismay, was fed and protected by a third party who saw a personal advantage in the situation.

And it struck me – hard – that this would never have happened if Jaims and I had simply communicated our grievances. Falling into silence out of fear of confrontation, itself borne of fear of losing someone I care about, very nearly caused the thing I feared the most. So we made a promise. If we’re angry, we’ll say so. If we have to, we’ll fight. And it made me think.

Jaims and I have not been this comfortable with each other in years. Mostly, life circumstances are the reason for this, but our lack of ability to really argue with each other has definitely been a contributing factor.

I have not felt as truly comfortable in a relationship as I do with Etrius… well, ever… because of my reluctance to state my opinions if I think it might spark a debate.

So, after all of my rambling, I guess all I’m really trying to say is that you should treasure the arguments and little spats that you have with your family, and your friends. I have come to cherish the fact that I’m learning how to squabble, because it means that I’m not hiding anything or holding anything is. It means that the people I care for the most know what I really think, and love me anyway. I am starting to feel happier, and healthier, than I have in a long time. There is always progress to be made, but I felt that this odd little success story was one that I had to share.

Dream Sequence 1.5

This post is PG13 due to descriptions of violence.
(But please don’t judge my whole blog by the violence in this post. It was a part of the dream, a part I didn’t particularly enjoy remembering but that I didn’t feel could be left out.)

I had another dream about an invasion last night. I told Etrius about it this morning as we were getting ready for work, though I didn’t have time for all of the details. He says he hopes I’m not psychic. For those of you who are unaware of the current theme of my dreams, the last one involved stealth fighter jets bombing city blocks, foreign soldiers of unknown origin marching through the city, and me playing dead face-down in a lake. Last night’s dream also took place next to a lake until the 747 I was on crashed, then it took place in the lake.

We settled down into our seats and prepared for take-off. The aisle was wide and the seats were comfortable. Nothing at all like any flight I’ve ever been on. They were navy blue. The airport was located on the lakeshore, and the runway stretched out parallel to the beach. We began our ascent and I made idle chatter about  our destination. We made it to maybe 100 feet before we stopped gaining altitude and were tossed sideways over the water as though by some unpredicted gale, though the sky was still and cloudless. Instead of going down immediately, our craft managed to stay in the air, trying to gain height. Frantic, but outwardly strangely calm, or maybe just numb with a sense of foreboding, I turned my head slowly toward the window and got my first glimpse of the chaos over the lake.

The surface churned with the efforts of droves of flailing bodies trying desperately to stay afloat and get to shore. Vehicles littered the water, many swiftly sinking, sucking handfuls of people with them to the depths. Others were lashed with long cords to dozens of helicopters trying in vain to rescue those below. Once every few minutes, a helicopter went down, either overcome by the tenacious hold the lake had on the bus or car the chopper was tied to, or swept away by a behemoth wave. Or, occasionally, a pilot would allow his bird to drift too close to another, their rotors would collide, and down they would go, leaving a spiral of smoke and a few more corpses behind. As I looked on in horror, I noticed the beginnings of another monster wave forming. Flinging myself down in an effort to find some kind of anchor and avoid being flung about the cabin, I managed to wrap my fingers around the metal bar under the seat in front of me, just in time to feel the wave slam into the side of the plane and take us down. Water began pouring in through the windows and for a moment, I felt panic creep in. ” I don’t want to drown! It’s going to pull me in. Down. Have to move. Higher. I’ve got to climb.” I scanned around myself to determine the direction of the tilt and stumbled my way through the roiling water toward the cockpit. I reached the open door and hauled myself into the space between the seats. There in the pilot’s seat sat Jane Lynch in full uniform.

Now, I feel that I need to make note of this. I never dream about famous people. It’s rare enough that I dream about people I know. Most of my dreams are filled to the brim with people I’ve seen in passing, or people I’ve invented. Anyway, I just want to clarify that in the dream, I didn’t recognize her as who she really is; I just thought of her as the nameless pilot who was in no-bullshit mode and needed a grunt (think Calhoun in Wreck It Ralph).

Jerking her headset off, the pilot grabbed me by the shirt and glanced out the door. The hallway beyond, stretched wide and straight all the way to a solid looking staircase bordered by two smooth, painted metal handrails. Lining the hallway on each side were three rows of chairs, with people filling most of them. No one spoke. There was a palpable tension in the furtive way their eyes darted and the rigid posture that spoke of a readiness to bolt at the first opportunity. A man lounged nonchalantly at the back, apparently unconcerned with the atmosphere that he was clearly the cause of. The man wore a Darth Vader costume and carried what looked to be an automatic rifle of some sort, resting across his knees. I was, in the manner of a dreamer, undisturbed by my altered surroundings. All of this I noted in the moment it took the pilot to confirm we would not be overheard. Whispering directions fiercely at me, she thrust a small portable headset into my hand. “They’ve taken over the security system of course, but I should be able to manually enter in the emergency release code to open that door since I’m the only one who ever bothered to memorize it. Sit tight.” A rapid tchka, tchka accompanied her movements as she tapped the pattern into the strange little panel of buttons to the left of her seat. After a few minutes she turned back to me and told me to get moving. “Quickly.”

Doing my best to slink along the wall, I made my way out of the cockpit into the hallway. I was still sopping wet, but at some point I had lost my shoes, so my footsteps were quiet on the tightly woven, burgundy carpet.  I took my first few steps slowly down the center of the hall between the rows of chairs. No one looked at me. I quickened my pace. I was light and balanced and suddenly I was running. I remember thinking about the strangeness of the lack of reaction by the costumed man. Perhaps he was dozing in his over-confidence? At any rate, just as I was about to pass him, he turned his head away from me and down, as though looking for something he dropped. He leaned down and I shot by. Sprinting the last few paces to the bottom of the stairwell, I noticed three men in white plastic masks standing to the right of it, in a shallow alcove. None so much as glanced my way. The ease of passing unnoticed struck me as peculiar but I didn’t waste time with concern over it. Up I went, dashing up two flights that ended in a smallish room with a wooden door in each wall and a short hallway branching off from two corners. The walls had a look of age and a layer of dirt coated everything from the floor to the rickety shelving that lined the walls, empty and forgotten. I made a circuit around the room, inspecting each door. One sat slightly ajar. The rest were closed but did not appear to have locks. Fear began to trickle through me in the back of my head. What if I was in the wrong place? Where could I go from here? The hallways were dim so I explored them again, and finally found what I’d been searching for. “This has to be it.” It was a dingy black elevator door, specks of silver showing dully where the paint had chipped away. My heart began to race as I waited for the doors to open. To my relief, the cab was empty and well lit. Stepping in I gripped the bar ringing the inside and waited. By the time I reached the floor above, I was packed tightly into the corner, anticipating an ambush. The doors slid open. I was still alone. Walking out on shaky legs, I found myself in a small room with one door set into a shallow recess on the opposite wall. A metal door with no handle on the outside, locked to anyone without the code to punch into the access panel mounted on the wall to the right. I pushed the button on the headset the pilot had given me.
“I’m here.”
“Alone?”
“Yes.”
“Check again.”
I glanced around, making sure to note that the numbers above the elevator remained unlit, and confirmed my solitude through the little speaker in my hand. “Good luck,” came the reply as the light on the keypad blinked from red to green.

I took a deep breath and held it as I eased the door open. There was only one occupant that I could see in the space beyond. A dark-haired man of middling height who whirled around in shock at my entrance. A moment of inaction was all he gave me before reaching down for one of the handguns lying in neat rows on a cloth at his feet. A moment was all I needed. Before I had time to think about what I was doing, I darted aside and reached for a long screwdriver lying on a workbench. As he straightened up, gun in hand, I stabbed him through the shoulder, missing his neck by several inches but still causing him to drop the weapon and reel backward into the workbench. I was on him again in a second, and this time, I didn’t miss my mark. I plunged the screwdriver sideways into his throat. He slid to the ground and I backed away, breath heaving in my chest and hands shaking. On a second survey of the room I realized he was indeed the only one there, so I made my way over to some likely looking cases on the far wall. This was the arsenal and I was here to steal as many weapons as I could carry and disperse them among the civilians downstairs. I was still casting around for a duffel bag or something to carry my plunder in, when I heard an ominous tchink tchink tchink. Half turning my head, I caught sight of what looked like two strange grenades rolling toward me across the cement floor. A sick and strained laughter followed in their wake. “Those won’t just throw shrapnel at you. You’re going to to burn to a crisp.” I didn’t wonder at his ability to speak with a hole in his throat. Time slowed and I launched into motion. I bounded as fast as I could, two steps, and flung myself at the dead man. The man who wasn’t dead. Sitting there, bleeding, laughing at me. I reached him the moment the ‘grenades’ exploded, dousing the room in flames and flying bits of metal. Clamping down on his shoulders, I twisted and dropped, using his body as a shield against the onslaught. When the heat and noise abated, I shoved him away and stood. In the same way that his speech had not struck me as odd, neither did the lack of damage to the room after the blast. Having survived, I simply resumed my task. When I finished gathering all I could find, including one of those ‘grenades’ with the pin still in place, I made my way back to the elevator with a sense of grim purpose, and awoke.

I don’t know what has prompted this trend in my dreams lately. Maybe all the talk of war with North Korea, no matter how unlikely it may seem. Personally, I think laughing in a dictator’s face because he apparently lacks the technology to harm us is devastatingly stupid. In any case, I just hope my dreams don’t prove to be prophetic. I say that laughingly, of course. Almost entirely. I can tell you one thing though, I won’t be going to the lake any time soon.

This is gettin’ heavy, Doc.

So I was feeling creative on Saturday and I broke out some of my random bits of stuff that I’ve been planning on making into jewelry. I made a couple of trial pieces that turned out alright but they’re delicate and I need a soldering gun to keep them from falling apart. That will have to be a goal for a day when I have some money. Meanwhile, I decided to make something a little more sturdy and this is what I came up with. It’s a simple design: a couple of metal feathers, a couple of speckled blue beads and a couple of lock washers harvested from a broken noxious gas monitor that I tore apart at work. I’m pretty happy with the result.

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Today, I’ve been thinking about something different. This idea has been bubbling around in the back of my mind for… well probably a few years now on and off. When I was a little kid growing up in Fort Ransom, North Dakota, I did a project for school that I thought was a lot of fun, but I felt as though I could have done it better if I had had more time.  See, we had read a book in class together about a boy who had to take a survey of all of his classmates and put it inside of a time capsule. Well, he couldn’t think of a question to ask so he was having trouble with the assignment. Then one day, the boy got caught picking his nose by another student and all of the other kids started making fun of him. This made the boy feel bad of course, but it also gave him an idea. His question for the time capsule was “have you ever picked your nose before?” Naturally everyone said yes, except for the bully who called him out in the first place (and everyone knew he was lying).

You know, I just thought of something, so we’re going to take a little detour from the story here for just a minute. We used to have story time in school and I have a particular memory that has always stood out to me. We were gathered in our corner listening to the story, and I think it got to the point where we could ask questions, and I decided that there was a point I didn’t agree with, so I brought it up. I don’t remember what it was. All I remember clearly, was that the teacher, Mrs. Kwapinski, smiled at me and said, “You would make a wonderful lawyer.” And it never occurred to me until much later in life, that she was prompted to say that because I was being obstinate. But it just struck me, that that is the sign of a great teacher. She effectively reached her intended goal (shutting me up), and did it in such a way that it made me feel good about myself. I thought, “Yeah, I could be a lawyer… I could argue cases and I could win because I’m tenacious and I strongly believe in my cause.” I was a little kid and it never crossed my mind that she was upset with me for being argumentative because she turned it into a compliment. I’ll always be grateful to her for the way she taught. She was a truly wonderful person and mentor.

Okay, so we’re back from our little jaunt into a random recess of my memory storage unit. So the little boy asked this question, and in doing so, taught them all a very important lesson: that you shouldn’t judge others, especially when you are guilty of the same behavior you’re passing judgement on. So we finished the story and we filed away the moral into our sponge-like, squishy little craniums, and we got to make our own time capsules as a fun project afterward. I, however, struggled to come up with a survey (like the boy in the story) and unfortunately, I never did get a stroke of inspiration. So I think when I started running out of time, I just picked a question that I wasn’t really that happy with and I don’t think I even got to finish asking everyone.  So needless to say, I was less than satisfied with the result. I am still curious and excited to dig it back up. I have to contact Mrs. Kwapinski and find out when we’re supposed to do that. I’ve still got a few years. At least 7, that I’m sure of. But anyway, ever since the day we buried them, I have wanted to make another one, but I’ve never actually sat down and done it.

Well, thanks to Mo, I’m finally going to get down to business and cross this one off the bucket list. This one is going to be a little different. I have three tubes that are used to store bottles of calibration gas in for the monitors that my company sells. They are air tight and water tight and should make excellent time capsules. I’m going to give one to Jaims, one to Etrius, and the last one I’ll keep for myself. I don’t know what they will put in theirs, though I’m excited to find out. In mine, well, I have a few ideas.

First, I would like to write a letter to my future self. Also, and this idea just occurred to me this very moment, I think that we should write a letter to each of the others for their capsule. For example, I will write a letter each for future me, future Jaims, and future Etrius and place each letter in its owners capsule for them to open and read when we dig them up.

Secondly, I’d like to put a few pictures in there. Pictures of myself I suppose, but also of all the people that I am currently friends with, or working with, pictures of family. Maybe also a couple pictures of where I am currently. My office, my house and the stages of emptiness its reaching, Etrius’s house as I slowly move my things in and we incorporate our lives together.

Next, I think I should gather up some mementos. You know, things like ticket stubs from recently attended events, a rock or shell that I found and picked up to admire. Little reminders of places I’ve been and things that I have done. Reminders, not so much of the places and the things but of the going and the doing. Maybe I ought to label them too, so that when I dig it up I don’t have to say, “I can’t remember where this is from or what it’s supposed to signify,” because I will forget. Maybe I should put a list along with the letter.

Also, I want to include some small projects. Things that I have made so I can compare my current skill level with that of my future self. Maybe a bracelet or necklace, maybe a drawing or a painted Warhammer 40K model. Oooh, I should remember to tell Jaims that I think she should put a USB drive in there loaded up with web design work she’s done. I’d like to include one too, but probably filled with music and pictures, maybe some of my writing if I can find anything worthy.

I suppose, it would be a good idea to save some newspaper clippings too. It would be interesting to look back and remember what was going on in the world at the time. And there sure is a lot going on in the world right now. We’re living in the midst of the Age of Information. Unfortunately, we’re also living in the Now Generation, as Jaims’ dad put it yesterday. We have so much at our fingertips, yet we don’t retain it. It’s like information overload and most of it is rumor or stupid internet crap that we all get addicted to. Okay, so the newspaper clippings are going to depress me. Note to self: Find at least a couple of articles that are GOOD NEWS. Maybe something in a science magazine about breakthroughs in disease research or those Mech Suits that they’re building in Japan.

Lastly, at least for now, I would like to request a little something from each of my nieces and nephews, and each of my younger siblings, as well as a couple of the older ones. The babies that are too young to do anything consciously, maybe I can get their parents to give me an ink footprint or something. But the kids that are old enough to understand could send me whatever they like. A drawing, or a keepsake, or anything. Yeah, I think I’d like that a lot.

They told me the title would be optional…

Well.. Now that I’m here I don’t really know how to start. I guess I ought to tell you something about Project Mo. I got the idea from Jaims. *Shout out to Jaims!!* We were talking on the phone, discussing how much I hate doing anything that resembles work and taking orders from anyone who resembles a person with the right to give them to me. And we were talking about how much I’d love to be my own boss (I mean… wouldn’t we all?) and do something that I actually enjoy doing. Problem is, nothing I enjoy doing can make me any money, or so they told me in school. Anyway, as the conversation progressed we started bouncing ideas around back and forth… Well, okay that’s not entirely true. She bounced ideas to me mostly and I churned them around in my head without saying much. But whatever the case may be, she said the word “BLOG” and I knew I was doomed.

You see, I have a special weakness for blogs. I don’t know what it is. Maybe something about how there’s this idea that when you’re blogging it’s almost cool to sound like you’re rambling and that kind of appeals to me. Or maybe it’s just an easy, no pressure outlet for my occasional urge to write. Who knows? Who cares? What’s important here is that I’m at it again, only this time, I have a purpose. You may be asking yourself, “What’s the purpose?” Or you might be asking yourself, “What should I have for dinner today?” Realistically, there are a million questions you could be asking yourself, but for the sake of staying on topic, let’s just assume that you’re wondering when the hell I’m going to get to the point.

And here we are. Project Mo. I wanted to call it Project Motivation, but that username was already taken and so were a dozen others I tried, so finally I settled on Mo. It’s kinda cute, kinda fun, and it was the only real option left. Basically, I’m at a dead end. I hate my job and I don’t want to do it anymore, but I can’t seem to find the motivation to move my ass and work on finding an alternative. I want to do something creative. I want to open that little boutique I’ve been talking about. I want to do something, anything, that makes me feel like I’m not just going to waste away as a dry little stick of a secretary and waste my life behind a desk. So Project Mo is going to be the place where I can come and dump ideas, or just thoughts, or tell stories, or write reviews (another Jaims idea), or whatever. It’s going to be a place where I can collect the little things that make me feel motivated so that maybe they’ll build up enough to turn into something real. That’s the plan anyway. I guess no plan ever survives first contact with the enemy but either way it will be an adventure.