restless

I’ve moved enough times that there is a rhythm to each move. There’s the relief of deciding to sell the home and move. Then the flurry of activity necessary to get the house ready for selling. I had a head start on this house, because before COVID I had considered selling and got rid of a bunch of stuff. That was a great help. After that, there is the wait for someone to buy.

That’s where the rhythm sped up. I’ve never sold a home in a market like this one. It sold in three days. We only had one bid but it was the right one. Our realtor wisely negotiated for a sixty day close and an additional sixty day leaseback. Because the corollary for a hot seller’s market is a tough buyer’s market.

I really like our realtor. I hav known him for seven or eight years through swimming. He is a good swimmer, and I either swam a few lanes over in a slower lane or was lifeguarding while he swam. Showing up at a pool at 5 am, sleep tousled and in a bathing suit to voluntarily swim a few miles tells me a lot about a person. That’s how I knew he was a realtor, and it’s also how I knew I could trust him to be reliable and trustworthy.

I think it takes a certain type of personality to be a great realtor. You’re not so much as selling something as guiding someone through one of the most purchases most of us ever make. You have to get to know what the person wants, yet make it clear what they can have. You have to explain strategies and pitfalls and advantages and all sorts of terms. My daughter is a virgin home buyer, so a large part of our realtor’s job is to explain the whole process to her. Our realtor is pathologically cheerful and patient, and has done all of the above, and more.

So we have a contract. I’m working on all the problems of making repairs, which is always a hassle and has its own peculiar rhythm. In fact, everything about a move is a “hurry up and wait” kind of motion. Some days are spent worrying if you’ve done the right thing and other days are seemingly consumed in a flash with phone calls, appointments, and paperwork. If I add watching the Olympics or writing into the mix, it makes getting anything else done extremely difficult.

What I’ve discovered about myself is that I can no longer juggle multiple things and push through a hectic day without paying the price. I lose my train of thought on one thing when I’m interrupted and can’t get back on track. I fall asleep at eight pm and sleep until six but I don’t feel rested. What level of stress can I handle now? I guess I won’t know until I’ve tested the limits, and this move is proving to be the perfect situation.

I miss the rush of having a jam-packed day of chaos and knowing that I dealt with all of it. Katie and I were talking about the time she went back to her second semester of school in January 2005 and discovered that Pikes Peak Community College had a Zookeeping degree program. This was what she had been looking for. She withdrew from Mesa State, I came and got her, we drove to Colorado Springs, enrolled her in the program, found an apartment and moved her all within three days. I doubt I could do that now.

When we moved to this house I got the house in Evergreen ready between December twentieth and January fifth. Katie and I packed over 85 boxes. I also found a new house all before I left for Bennington, VT on January thirteenth for my first term of graduate school. I was still negotiating the contract on the shuttle bus from Albany to Bennington. When I returned ten days later, I had seven days to finish packing, close on both houses, hire movers, and move in February second. I know I couldn’t do that now.

This move is dragging out, though, because of the craziness of the market. I have started thinking about packing, but it’s too soon. Besides, I am getting rid of at least half of my stuff, maybe more. But that depends on where we move and how much space I will have and how much space Katie will have. Because this will be primarily her space, not mine. I’ll be a co-owner but not here for the day-to-day living. I’ll be in Tucson for a while, then I’ll be all over the place, I hope. Eventually I hope to live somewhere outside of the US for six months each year and travel to see friends/tennis tournaments/for pleasure for weeks at a time. It’s funny, that doesn’t seem daunting at all. Because I will have total control of my travel times, recovery times, and when I come and go. I won’t have to clean the house, or do yard work, or deal with all the everyday things that sap my energy.

The end result of all the chaos of downsizing my world will be worth it, though. A much smaller property which means much less upkeep. I’ll have a co-owner I can trust who happens to be my daughter. She is thrilled to finally be a property owner. A smaller payment, which means more money for living. And lastly, a great shedding of things from a former life. Time will tell if that will be liberating.

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dreaming

I have had some vivid, amazing dreams lately. Animals visit me regularly in these dreams. So far, I’ve had dreams with turtles, snakes, elephants, bees, cats, frogs, and dogs. At first, I just bored Katie with retellings of these dreams. Her advice was to look up the ‘meaning’ of the dreams. Well, I did. Let me tell you, this branch of arcana is a rabbit-hole (pun intended, although they haven’t made an appearance yet) you might want to avoid.

A quick caveat: I haven’t smoked or ingested pot since mid-September. Not that my pot habit was particularly large. I usually smoked on cleaning day, or when Lyme made it impossible not to. Anyway, those of you who have ever smoked regularly and quit, you know how dreams rebound. Researchers think that pot inhibits/suppresses REM sleep, but who really cares about the whys.

I am a lucid dreamer. I go back and change the trajectory of a dream if I don’t like it.  The other night I dreamt I went to a class reunion (don’t even get me started on what the hell that meant) and I noticed it was nothing but a bunch of old people, and we weren’t dancing. Well, I didn’t like that dream. So I changed it. The first dream was probably the way it is. The second dream was straight up memory from an earlier reunion, where we were packed together dancing to “Brown Sugar.” Much better.

I also have recurring dreams, some I’ve had since childhood. There are two houses that I know intimately in my dreams that don’t exist in my real life. Lots of stuff happens in them, and I’m almost always stressed out when they appear. They obviously represent a place I don’t want to be. I haven’t had any dreams with those houses in them in a while. There have been new dream houses, but obviously temporaries. The other night the house was a dorm of some kind, chilly, modern and all-white. It was dark, cold and rainy outside and the windows were massive and uncovered. Running on both sides of the house were dogs, like all the dogs in the area had come together and were trotting with purpose towards something. I wasn’t disturbed or scared, other than the Stephen King-like disquiet of so many dogs. Occasionally a dog would turn and look at me with a look that said, “Come join us.”

Dreaming of animals is a newer thing and quite different for me. Oh, there were the times two of my dogs visited me in the days after their deaths, or the time I dreamt I had a frog on a leash (hey, it was grad school. I also dreamt my fingers got chopped off and I’m a writer, so…), but rarely have I dreamt like I have in these last months. I’m usually too stunned by the bizarreness of these dreams to change them. I watch them unfold slack-jawed, except for the emotions that course through me: peace, rootedness, amazement, comfort.

When I started looking up the meaning of these animals and my dreams, I learned there are a LOT of people who are looking for interpretations of their weird dreams. There are also a lot of people out there ready to help. Like astrology, the language and meanings are loosey-goosey, open to whatever you are looking for. And like astrology, I don’t believe that dreams should be interpreted literally, or that such interpretations should be mistaken for absolute truth or real-life decisions.

On the other hand, my brain is going through a lot, apparently.  My subconscious is very busy at night. Sometimes I believe it’s trying to make sense of the things that I don’t want to deal with. Other times I think maybe it’s just fucking with me, teasing me with the most ridiculous and mundane images possible. A little entertainment from me for me. Haha. Joke’s on me.

Almost all of my dreams have optimistic interpretations: personal happiness, overcoming your problems, being at peace with yourself, good luck, strength, and transformation. I guess my next questions would be, why does my brain feel the need to do this to me? And why is it so relentlessly optimistic?

It is possible that I resist giving myself credit for my own personal strength. In fact, I try very hard to avoid all thoughts of the circumstances that have forged that strength. Instead of congratulating myself on finding meaning and contentment in a drastically altered life, I focus on  what needs to be done now. It seems a lot easier than thinking about my life or my inability to change things like COVID or Lyme.

Also, I don’t have the extra energy to contemplate anything more than what I choose to do, and I don’t choose to consciously tell myself how fucking great and strong I am. So my brain has chosen to do that for me in the only time I don’t control it. In essence, I’ve outfoxed my own self and become my own cheerleader through my dreams, because I can’t do that when I’m conscious. I hope all of you have such wily brains. These dreams are a lot of fun, and in their own ways, quite comforting.

 

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body

I like my body. I’ve never quite trusted it, because it was broken when I was seven. I fell out of a tree and fractured my skull. I was in a coma for about a week. It’s funny what you remember about hospital stays, especially when you’re young. I definitely remember the nurses coming in and taking my temperature (they did it anally back then, HELLO!). I I remember the doctor’s name: Dr. Fountain. I remember him sitting by my bed with his watch, asking if I heard the ticking. I don’t remember that my answer fazed me one way or another. At seven, one accepts change easily. I remember my Nanny gave me a Snoopy stuffed animal with a built in radio. We listened to a baseball game together in my hospital room. I went home to a new house, because I managed to fall on a Sunday afternoon at my dad’s new bosses’ house during a relocation.

The whole year after my fall is a large chalkboard with four or five sentences, the rest erased completely. My brothers found a live bat in the yard. My dad held its quivering body in a towel wrinkled by its tiny claws. I had daily headaches and dizzy spells. I practiced on our new grand piano in the new living room. The house was a modern, open ranch with tile floors. I loved to bang out loud, lively pieces. The notes hung in the air and crashed throughout the house. That was power.

The next insult to my body was deeply personal, another kind of power wielded by my brother without my consent. I have never and will never forgive him.

I had a partially detached retina when I was 17. The surgery was routine. However, my horrified parents got to listen to me hit on the poor orderly while I was high on some magical pre-surgery drug. Afterwards, I was rolled into a storage room with a rubber glove filled with ice over my eye. I must have been considered a low risk patient. After that I had many minor and major surgeries, all having to do with my faulty lady parts. That’s all I need to say about that. All told, I’ve had eleven surgeries; four major and seven minor. Great preparation for Lyme.

My mother was a functioning anorexic for most of my life. At the end, she became a non-functioning anorexic, and it killed her. She was 59 lbs when she died. One of the gifts she gave me was a healthy body image. Whether she did it on purpose or not, I am grateful. She taught me that my brains and personality would last far longer than sex appeal. She taught me that a strong, healthy body was the most important thing. These lessons didn’t sink in as easily as I make them sound. I went through a dork phase that was epic (pixie cut, blue granny glasses and braces for buck teeth). I fretted over my looks like most young women. To this day I think my head looks like a potato in pictures. My boobs weren’t big enough. My legs were too skinny. I rarely dieted, however, and always exercised. I abused my body with drugs and alcohol and had lots of sex. But I never quite trusted that I was indestructible.

By the time Lyme hit, I had lots of experience in dealing with physical setbacks, or, let’s be honest, the problems that can happen if you’re female. Endometriosis, ovarian cysts and scar tissue wreaked havoc inside of me for years. It was a relief to have everything taken out. I developed an allergy to morphine and food sensitivities. Lyme was no walk in the park, far from it, but I had experience. I am tough as nails at enduring. I consider my body ‘temporarily offline’ right now, as it has done off and on throughout my life. I’m babying it along, taking special care with diet and rest.

On my worst days, I hate my body, both in appearance (I’m starting to bear a startling resemblance to Mr. Peanut) and performance (another day of aches and fatigue). I tried positive imagery, imagining the billions of little spirochetes, bacteria(s?), and protozoans dying and being swept out of my body. What I usually got was gross negative imagery, of squiggly microscopic creatures burrowing in my brain and eyeballs, teeth and joints, heart and liver. This was a new kind of battle for my body, unlike any other I had endured. I’m almost well now, and my body is the last to know it. I tell my body every day that I am better, I should feel better. So far, the body does what it wants. I still like it though, it’s the only one I’ve got.

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