Saturday, August 16, 2014

Step 2 Saturday:Replace negative thoughts

Imp lost her toy in the garden
Today was step two of How To Be Positive:
Replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Look for a bright side in every situation. We will find that there are surprising benefits within them. If we do this long enough, it will become habitual
Kris is not necessarily a bad person in herself, but most if not all of my thoughts about her lead to negative things, so I am trying to get through the day replacing those with positive thoughts. Goodness knows I have a lot of positive things to think about.
Rising with the sun, I drafted an initial proposal for VAF and the VAPS Medical Mall project and printed two copies, one for Cyril, one for DAV 23 Commander. I hoped to get feedback from them before passing on to other participants, but the DAV meeting was pretty full and I'll have to think of something else.
Off I went to Saturday morning at the Y. Barb was substituting for Trucker Molly, who was on vacation. It was a good, steady workout with weights; she seems to have a gift for encouraging us to go a little farther until my limbs are actually shaking, and then the count is done and I'm glad I didn't quit. Indeed I am glad I didn't quite.
Coming home, I chatted briefly with Kris although I don't recall about what; she noticed the Saturday paper was not there and I took the opportunity to clarify her subscription preferences; she wants Saturday and Sunday. I had put it all on hold the night she called the police, figuring that if she really wanted me to leave I didn't see why I should pay for the paper, but if we are back to relative normal, I can accommodate her wishes in that regard; I just don't need to be present when she reads the paper. It's not a positive thing for me.
I drafted a quick proposal for the Veterans' Day Parade Trip for CLC Inpatients to show Cyril but I don't think he read it. I think it's o.k. to pass on as is, and better to get it going than delay.
I picked some berries to give Rene' when I picked up Cyril. While doing this, I noticed one of Imp's toys among the plants; obviously she had batted it or carried it outside, and then forgotten it. It's my photo of the day.
The berries seemed to please my friends very much so mission accomplished I guess. The DAV meeting went well, with a lot of business transacted. When I dropped Cyril off, he gave me some tomatoes from his garden and they were excellent!
Home again I was tired from having stayed up way to late last night, so I napped, and did a few phone audits. By smell I guess that Kris may have been cooking something but I'm very happy with my salad.
I guess I wanted an excuse to get out and walk around the neighborhood connecting, and happily,
Whose Dish?
I found a dish left over from the Neighborhood Night Out, and I couldn't remember whose it was. I went to Wendy and Marcia's - not theirs. They let me see the flooring they were putting in and we chatted about whatever. Atty has a lot to say these days!
I walked down to where Lucy's parent live and petted their dog Porter while asking about the dish; not theirs.
Next to Charles and Company - they were having a little get-together on the porch but he talked wit me a while - not his dish.
I went home and then had an idea - it's a collapsible dish so maybe it's hiking gear. I went to Maureen's and knocked; she was very polite but it's not her dish. I enjoyed talking with her anyway.
My next step is to email it around - surely it belongs to someone.

A Quiet Fried Day. Step 1: Avoid Negative Influences.

Awakening with the sun, I confronted the problem of being unhappy today. This being the era that it is, I googled "How To Be A Positive Person". Why? Because my situation, while filled with problems, is a lot better off than that of a heck of a lot of persons. It seems likely that I simply need to change my attitude. I'm not someone who believes in all that woo-woo stuff, but as a gamer I can see that my strategy is tripping me up, and if I want a better approach, I need to do my research.
I've tried the therapist approach back when my first marriage was dying, and it didn't work for me (except to validate my feelings: it was o.k. to accept that I was miserable and therefore to dump Sherry. In retrospect, it might have been more helpful to address what was really bugging me; divorcing Sherry didn't really make me a happier person so Mission Not Accomplished. Sorry about that!)
What can I learn from the google machine?
WikiHow had a nice article helpfully titled How to Be Positive. I plan to work through its 15-step program, one a day. Today step 1:
Avoid negative influences. Even if it's a family member or close friend, we must not tolerate anyone's bad behavior. Steer clear from it so that it will not rub off on us.
Well, ok. Being around Kris' negativity is a negative influence on me, so my job is to avoid it. I resisted avoided her because (A) I used to love her and (B) I dislike surrendering to a bully's demands. But this is not surrender: this is helping myself, and if it happens to coincide with the bully's wishes, or not, I don't care.
Off I went to the morning yoga class at Fauntleroy. The lady at the front desk actually snorts when she laughs, which leads to more people laughing. The yoga itself reminded me how long it's been since I did serious stretching, so I'm keeping this component. This was an entirely positive thing!
I had a bunch of email/phone audits to do; I guess I must do o.k. with them since they keep getting passed to me, but I could use a little time off this week to deal with the personal stuff. Or maybe not; maybe work is the best medicine.
Kris was civil, pleasant and even friendly most of today. When I got back from my round of in-person audits, she expressed surprise, as if she'd thought I'd been below all day. I enjoyed the moment but didn't risk prolonging it; besides, I have work to do and that doesn't include humoring her.
She told me she was going out with co-workers, so after 5 I assumed she was gone and went upstairs to get something from the fridge. She was still there, in the chair-and-a-half (and years ago I should have felt alarm when she stopped sitting there with me) and looked at me with the set gaze of wine. I turned on the cloaking device and went back to work in the office. Eventually she announced she was leaving. A little after, I determined to do one more in-person audit in Tukwila, and took a little drive. I had hit upon a song from the past and listened to it weepily via youtube.
Coming back, I decided I really did need to work on finding friends, since so many had been lost in the divorce. Big Al's is not a great source but it's a start, and I parked. Going across the lot was unpromising; a couple of regulars ignored me (unfortunate but a bearable loss) and when I hit the tap room, who did I see but Kris?
I tapped her on the shoulder and apologized, saying I didn't want to disturb her but I didn't think she'd be here. She explained that she'd met her coworkers and ... some bullshit or other. Maybe they did have a five-minute meeting or whatever; it didn't matter. I was not sneaking out, I was leaving on my own terms.
The girl she was talking to was cute though!
I stopped by Saar's for salad fixings and as I approached my house I was waved at by Atty and the Friday baby crew. What the heck, they're fun so I joined them. I don't have a baby to contribute to the party, but they do like to talk with me and the pleasure is mutual. This all cheered me up considerably.The salad did too; I suppose real food can have that effect.
As I finished up one more project, some impulse prompted me to look and music of my youth - one of the founders of hard rock. I not realize that I was wasting my time with romantic partners that didn't appreciate this stuff, and I won't make that mistake again:
This music is a positive thing for me!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Thor's Day of Sturm Und Drang

At morning coffee Kris mentioned nothing of the events of yesterday. I really felt she should apologize for calling the cops for nothing, but she has never apologized for anything in her entire life, so either she is perfect and I am mistaken, or she's too much of an asshole to apologize. Either way, it's wasted time on my part to think about it.

Which doesn't mean I don't think about it!

At the VA we got some cool stuff done. I worked with a couple of veterans with a couple of issues; I have a letter to write tomorrow for one, and the other I suggested meeting at the Saturday DAV meeting when he would have more papers. This is progress.

Touring the space
We then had a meeting with Director Murphy, the Facilities Manager whose name I forget but whose mustache is magnificent, Dane, Chad, Lisa and a few others, concerning the main entrance and "hospital mall" which was in process, but very drab. They wanted it to be cool, comforting and veteran-centered, and were reaching out to us for ideas. We had a good discussion the details of which will come out as our project progresses but it was an entirely positive thing (...and a nice contrast to some of the sturm und drang of earlier this month...)

Afterwards, in casual conversation Lisa mentioned that they have a CLC in American Lake which I should tour, and did we want to consider them in our various projects as well? I mentally slapped my forehead - this is so obviously the right idea - and it's also an opportunity to reach out to a wider community. That comment alone was worth the trip. In retrospect, I see also that Lisa was offering that someone give me or us a tour of that facility so we'd see more of what was needed - I need to take up this offer asap because it could make a big difference in planning.

Home, I got a few projects worked on and then zipped over to the Y for Zumba. It really is a fun exercise! I stopped at the library on the way back, so as to give Kris a little totally alone time with the house, but in retrospect this may have been an error. She had done some serious drinking by the time I got back. She was talking the way she does when drunk, and was angry that I came in the front door.

The front door that I found, bought, and mounted (...mounted with help from Don; his help was paid for by whom? Me, of course.)

I nuked a little chicken and she asked if there was a problem with her mother's microwave. I took my chicken downstairs. Her question was literally stupid, that is, it came from her being in a stupor, because that microwave had been gone for a month; I had discussed this with her before disposing of it. She had been in the area several times, dropping off dishes, so I felt surprise that she didn't remember that the microwave was not there. But of course she had been drinking heavily. Was her memory bad, or was she just blurting things out in her rage? I don't know.

Kris' Barffest
March 2014
I Got To Clean It Up
At some point in the process Kris started shouting at me that I should not come in the front door. I tried to ignore this, but finally said that I had bought that front door and if she wanted I would take it. She said it was staying and she didn't want to see my face. I said fine, she could look the other way; I was not going to be bullied.

She started swearing. Her swears are the standard entry-level swears: fuck, shit and so forth; she doesn't use that grandeloquent vocabulary when she's swearing drunk, she just uses what she probably heard as a child when her mother's latest boyfriend was abusing the family.

She ordered me into the basement and ordered me to use the back door, not the front door. I said this was my house and I would use either door. She asked if I wanted to talk to her lawyer about that, and I said fine. She kept raging but I had my dinner so I went downstairs.

It's all messy and sad, but when she hasn't been drinking it can be civil.
What I have to do is just not engage with her alcoholism; it's like fighting a Terminator:
"It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead."
Kris is not her alcoholism, just as I am not my nearsightedness. Just as I would still be I without my nearsightedness, Kris would still be Kris without her alcoholism. However, it's not as easy as buying a pair of glasses, because my nearsightedness does not care if I deal with it. Alcoholism, on the other hand, fights back. And it is used to winning.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

911 Wednesday

I had been having such a good time sleeping in my bed, instead of Ginger's bed left behind in the basement office, that I thought I might continue even after Kris returned from vacation. She slept in the Yellow Room - what did it matter to her if I slept in the Green Room?

Quite a lot, as it happened.

Wednesday the 13th I ran through half a dozen audits, trying to clean things up before a Thursday of meetings at the VA. At some point in the evening, Kris got home and she looked terrible. I asked what was wrong.
She explained that her sister had been verbally abusive on vacation. Abusive to Kris, abusive to their mother, abusive to my niece Taryn. Finally Kris decided (she said) that she had had enough, and took the train back to Seattle. This involved getting a ride from the coast inland, but I didn't ask how she managed that. She spent the next couple of days hanging with her mom, and reported that they were most congenial.
None of this was a surprise to me. Suzy had always had a mean streak, and her behavior calling the cops the last time she was at my house was pure dickery. On the other hand, when Ginger lived in my house, she and Kris had a great time going shopping, but mostly sitting around and drinking and "talking smack" as they put it. I am sure Kris missed her drinking companion when Ginger moved out.
Kris seemed actually distraught about Suzy's behavior. I believe she had looked forward all year to powwow, and she had the choice of staying and being abused, or fleeing. I'm not sure why she felt that way; she had plenty of other family there to help her, but who knows? I'm just reporting what she told me.
I reassured her that abuse like that is abnormal; it's not Kris' fault but Suzy's. I myself have ample reason to heap verbal coals on Kris' head, and I have on occasion, but Suzy does not. If anything, Kris has been too kind to her, and this repayment must be hard to bear.
Kris had another problem. She had gone to Big Al's for her customary Wednesday of grillin' and chillin' (after which she often comes home stinking drunk, and by that I mean literally stinking, but if she's in a good mood that is not really a problem, except of course for my emotional distress.)
She told me there is a man there who she does have romantic interest in. She told me very explicitly in email, and he apologized, but he didn't seem to get the message because he keeps bugging her. She asked two other male friends to sit on either side of her, and eventually the guy went away. The thing is, Kris expressed surprise that this should happen. How could someone think that she was available, she asked me? And why didn't he get a clue?
I explained in terms of this Cracked article - basically, we men are taught from birth that we are owed a woman. If we do all the right things, we'll get one.
She thought that was hilarious. And it was. And it was reassuring to see her laughing, may be letting off a little steam, maybe coming out of that slough of despair she was sinking into.
Silly me.
Her distress may have been merited by the situation but her holding on to is is biologically based, and abetted of course by what she'd been drinking at Big Al's. And in my unwisdom, when we sat down to talk, I poured her and me one.
We had a very good conversation for hours - hours I should have been spending completing auditting reports, but it's important to help out a housemate in distress - and I had the ghost of a hope that perhaps we were getting to some stability. I talked about meeting a few women over the weekend and some funny recommendations a friend of Brian's had made at the party at Company.
Then Kris's eyebrows came down. Her jaw set.
She said there was something we had to talk about.
Had I slept in the bed in the green room?
Yes, I said. I don't lie. I might if I were better at it, but I've never had the skill. Besides, I had thought it over during the week of Kris being gone, and I realized that she was just bullying me.
We had never had a discussion about housing arrangements. First she had ordered me to leave, and I declined. I explained in writing the impact of Washington's community property laws and so forth, and she blew some money talking with a lawyer, and she backed off. I had made an offer in compromise, and suggested that I sleep in the basement office for a while. She then gave me that order as if it was her own idea and a great concession; I said I'd do it for a while to keep the peace.
It wasn't so bad, but Ginger had left the basement in filthy condition. The cats shit in a box down there, and had barfed all over the rug, and between one thing and another the rug was ruined and the basement is smelly. Still, I'm not terribly fancy and it avoided conflict so what the heck.
But now, after a week of being able to sleep in my bed in the green room - which has great windows and air flow and so forth - I thought we could get to the point where we could just sleep in separate rooms like adults.
She didn't.
She started shouting at me. She also shouted something about the shower.
I had realized that shouting back at her is what her disease wants. It understands that reaction and likes it and sometimes it leads one of the shouters to do something stupid. I sure didn't want that!
So I told Kris that I was done with her bullying me and walked out the door. I went down to the far end of the street, passing some many houses of friends who appeared to be living normal, loving lives, and walked home.

I went in the door and into the kitchen where I dinner dishes were by the sink. I put them in the dishwasher. Kris stuff up, jaw set angrily, and sponged out the sink, saying it was greasy. Then she literally squinted at the sponge, decided it was dirty, and soaped and washed it. She said loudly that a sponge doesn't get like this in normal use and why was I so dirty. I still retained the facility of being surprised at this, and said what? She told me that I was dirty, I never cleaned, I was a pig.
I couldn't think of anything useful to say. I am somewhat casual and also pretty busy, but who likes being called a pig - especially by someone you had just finished nurturing. I said good night, walked to the Green room in the back, and closed the door.

Kris started shouting. She shouted all sorts of commands at me. I closed my eyes and tried to ignore her, but she opened the bedroom door (fortunately I hadn't had time to undress, or who knows what she would have done) and shrieked at me to get out. I said I wanted to sleep and it wasn't her bedroom. She said it was (even though she slept in the Yellow Room) and that if I didn't leave, she was calling 911.

Well, I'd already been through the 911 thing and although it turned out o.k. for me, I didn't want to do it again. So I said, fine, I'm going. I headed down the hall to go downstairs and she shouted that it was too late, she was going to call 911 anyway.

This was kind of interesting. I understand ... although I disapprove of ... her threatening to make phony 911 calls as a means of bullying me, but once I had complied with her bullying, what was the point? Perhaps it was supposed to punish me so I wouldn't disobey her again. Or maybe she was just crazy mad, I don't know. I admit I had a momentary impulse to grab her phone - and maybe that's what the disease was hoping for. One tiny bit of physicality on my part, and everything would come down on my head - with some justice, to be sure. So that was just not going to happen. Period.
(She has hit me before. It was back when we were in the Centennial, and she was raging. She doesn't hit as hard as some of the guys from aikido, that's for sure, and anyway, I know a single hit is unlikely to be permanently damaging, so the pain from it was merely distressing; it was not something to make me react stupidly, like by hitting back. If this sounds odd, try some aikido or whatever and you'll see; the pain of getting hit is just a thing, and it is most emphatically not something that you have to react to.)

I headed downstairs and heard her start talking with the 911 dispatcher. Well, nothing can be done about that. I got my laptop, and then sat out in the front yard on the swing working on stuff until the police arrived. I figure it's nice to be right there when they show up so no-one is inconvenienced.

One cop talked with me outside while the other went inside and I suppose talked with her. I say "I suppose" because I tried very had to say only what I knew with my own eyes, and not to speculate. These guys were here to do a job and it's no good trying to get clever. When the cop asked what was going on, I said we were married but estranged, she had been drinking, she started shouting and threatening to call the police, and here we are. He asked if she had been hit and I said nobody had hit anybody. I think the other cop asked how long we'd been married and I said more than ten years. Also at some point I think one of them asked what my plans were and I said I planned to go in the back door and sleep in the basement.

They then went inside and I suppose talked with her, then they came out, explained that there was no
domestic violence issue and that I was free to go. I went downstairs and tried to sleep, but naturally it's hard after something like this. I'm really not accustomed to having the cops called on me. I would prefer to talk things out. I also felt an extra dose of betrayal because I had given Kris hours of my time, which I could have put to better use, being supportive and helpful, and she ended up bullying me anyway.

Obviously, there is a problem.

I don't like being bullied; it's something I've put up with all my life, but it may just be my karma and I will have to learn to be happy with it, so long as the bully is in a position to cause a lot of trouble and has the will ... fueled by liquor ... to do so.

Lots of people are worse off. I have my writing!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Tuesday the Twelfth

Tuesday morning I got an early start and fired off one small project before breakfast - the rough draft minutes for yesterday's meeting. Then off to the Y to see if Mat Pilates is good for me - it probably is - and back to do a little gardening, and then fact the Monster: billing. Specifically, drafting a petition for fees for my CAVC in sufficient detail.
Once I got started, it was actually fun, as writing usually is, and I sent a draft to my mentor with a few questions.
One issue that came back is the necessity of furnishing evidence that my client has a net worth of less than $2 million; it appears that Congress set that as the maximum at which one can apply for EAJA funds. That's not a bad idea, but it seemed a silly thing to call the client about.

Kris is still down with her mother's; I kind of like it quite around here. For the evening I went to a "Delridge Natural Drainage System (NDS) project" walkabout, and saw a couple of my friends from 17th. The project was an attempt to reach out to the community and figure out how the NDS could be integrated with the practicalities of that street; it didn't directly affect me, but it sure was interesting!

Ablow is just jealous....
In the evening, I wasted time on Facebook. There's a whole lot of strange stories these days, and commenting graphically is sometimes better than text.
My brother Steve wrote some objections to a meme David posted, and after some back-and-forth he said he could do better so I challenged him to do so. He came up with some text, and then I put it on a photo. Well, sort of - I tinkered with his text to make it fit me without (I hope) entirely subverting his thoughts. Well, that's a risk you take when you subcontract!

I had a good talk with Cyril about yesterday's meeting. The mid-level staff were just snowing us, but we got what we wanted I think. I had let the Public Affairs guy drag me into an argument, when I should have just leaned back and nodded, and the funny thing is that the article that came out which he so feared was actually positive. Naturally he complained the next day that it had mentioned some negative things and it was better to say nothing until a real story came along - it's amazing to me that he collects a paycheck!
Cyril had a new idea for a really good project which no-one could object to, but it'll take a little development. Watch this space! 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Monday of a New Way

I awoke and went to the morning class at the Fauntleroy Y without any caffeine, but a little lemon juice in water.
Very Rare Anntenna Bird
At the Y
I didn't really care what it the class was, so long as it was something; I find it much easier to conduct an exercise program if I am in a class because I'm just social that way. It was a yoga class, which was great; as I moved through the various poses, I realized that I had not given myself a really good stretch in a couple of years. I could hear some things going, "Oh, yeah, stretching, I remember that!"
I'll have to keep this Monday class on the list!
I had gotten into the habit of taking evening classes at the Y at the north end of West Seattle, but that was merely an accommodation to Kris' schedule, and really, I prefer morning classes, and Fauntleroy is closer. However i love the Zumba classes on Monday and Thursday, and am determined to keep them as much as possible.
Today was a 1 pm meeting at the VA with plenty of planning meetings before hand. Maybe something will come of it.
I drove home thinking I'd get some work done, and I did, but I suppose it might have been better to stop at the Y and burn time until class. Instead, I skipped class. This was not without reward, however; two of the foster children announced to me that it was their last day, and they were going to live with their aunt. One of them wanted to talk with me and it was ok with Julie for five minutes ... I have a very strict rule that everything has to be ok'd by the mom, no exceptions ... and, remembering what Julie had said about these kids and books, I asked the girl if she was taking any books with her. We looked in the Little Free Library, and it was all too young for her - she's reading chapter books - so I said, hm and she asked if I had some chapter books she could have  - and I said check with your mom, and I'll go see. So I found a selection - including Charlotte's Web and several lesser-known titles - and put it in a little Lululemon bag - the one with the child-friendly encouraging comments - and took it over. They all came out and we chatted. They showed me the little photo books that Julie explained was partly to help them have something stable, which made sense, and after high-fives all around, we went our ways.
This is just part of our neighborhood, the children coming and going; it helps me appreciate the Eldar attitude toward Men a little.
Michelle in the 'Hood
(By Melody)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

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