Monday, June 30, 2014

...Bat Fit ^o^...

When I started writing this post, I didn’t realize how emotional I was going to become. While I’m super excited about participating in Bat Fit, I started feeling uncomfortable. I’m a bit of a slow processor with my emotions but this morning they flooded in.

In 2006, I finished my dissertation and began my university tenure track position. I was writing and publishing, and posting to an academic blog like crazy and this all helped me earn tenure and even my final promotion of full professor which officially takes effect in August. My marriage back then was awful. I drowned my sadness in work and in 2009, I finally left. At that point, there was a great deal of sadness going through what actually was my second divorce having been married quite young the first time BUT I was getting emotionally and physically healthy. I bought a house and ended up finding an awesome new fella whom I should have known would come one day. We’re getting married in December which we both said for years we would never do again but it’s happened quite organically and I feel that it is right. We want to be family *officially* and sadly in this world, one often needs a piece of paper to have the rights of hospital decisions and what not.  So I’ve been promoted which comes with more money (yay!); I’m getting married (yay!); and, I’m even on sabbatical in the fall so my focus will be turning all my research into a book (yay!). But, I am scared to death! 

There are so many ‘what if’s’. I don’t think I realized until now how incredibly nervous I am about all of it. Suppose I can’t get my manuscript completed by the deadline; suppose living with and marrying my love doesn’t work out. This is why I haven’t been journaling. This is why I have been eating emotionally. I’m in a state of avoidance. Admitting this to myself, I can pretty much hear my therapist ask, “So, what if it doesn’t work out?” I’m scared but that’s okay. So here I go:

My Goals for Bat Fit 2014:
  1. By January 2014, I will lose the weight that I have gained since beginning my job in 2006. My goal is to lose 25 pounds by the end of the year. This is the heaviest that I have ever been and I have become somewhat uncomfortable with my body. I have had a Don’t-Go-Over-This-Number for years and I’ve completely hopped over that weight. I’ve noticed that I haven’t bought any new clothes lately because of how I feel in my current clothes. This has to stop. I’m from a family of clinically morbidly obese women and I do not want the health scares that come along with this.
  2. I will practice portion control. I’ll pull out my old Weight Watcher At Home books and follow them. One of the helpful features of this is that I will be tracking what I consume. I’m an emotional eater so sometimes a bite here and there doesn’t seem like a big deal but it adds up. I need to stop skipping breakfast and I’m oddly intrigued by the idea of eating soup for breakfast.
  3. Now that I will be giving cemetery tours, I will be walking much more regularly. I’ll also be able to commit to daily walks this since I will be on sabbatical until January and do not have the extreme commute hanging over my head.
  4. I will keep my personal journal. This blog has awakened a part of me that I’ve long missed but I learned in therapy that I *have to* journal to stay healthy.
  5. I will limit my alcohol consumption. I’ve gotten into the habit of having mixed drinks almost nightly and that just isn’t a good health practice.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

... on pruning and knickknacks...

Pruning is extremely important for any gardener. It is the removal of branches, sometimes even living branches, to maintain healthy plant growth. It usually occurs in winter. It was also one of the most difficult aspects of gardening to learn because when you see something that is seemingly flourishing, why go and chop it away!  
I’ve been thinking about pruning today because I had a major house cleaning. I would call it “Spring Cleaning” but I suppose I missed the mark. Either way, my house is incredibly clean. This is probably my first major cleaning since my pipes burst in January; and, unfortunately because of my commute, the water flooded my first floor for six hours and the damage was thousands of dollars. Fortunately, my insurance covered most of the costs.  I’m finally at the point of letting go of the anxiety of that entire trauma. My house was only restored (new carpeting, cabinets, etc.) in May so it really hasn’t been that long since I settled in to my normal routine.

From January to May, many of my knickknacks (oh, wow, have I acquired many a knickknack over the years) were crowding every corner of my second floor town-home being safely away from the first floor construction. Last weekend, I reorganized my office and moved knickknacks back to their homes. During this process, some items were let go and some moved to a different place in my house. While I was cleaning, dusting each of my pieces, I understood the importance of personal knickknack pruning. My corner cabinet for one is much less crowded and because of that, I am able to enjoy my pieces more.

For the most part, I’ve been who I am since I was 15 years old. That’s 25 years of gothdom-- 25 years of collecting and 25 years of my friends gifting me coffins, bats, and other creatures of the night; and, while many of these gifts were simply perfect, some weren’t me but were kept because my loved one had tried so hard to find a little piece of the macabre. But, I have learned that I don’t have to keep everything. That super cute skull bag from twenty years ago has been replaced with a more grown up bat handbag. It’s a perfectly fine bag so it was turned over to the local thrift shop so that someone else could enjoy it. This is true for some of my Halloween novelty items as well. When I let them go, I can make room for new growth (including my “new” antique funeral coach sign at the top of my cabinet).

The cabinet was actually built by my grandfather and lived in my grandparents’ home throughout my childhood. When he passed about a decade ago, I acquired some of their furniture. This item was originally brown but with some black paint, a bat stamp, and some scrapbooking paper, it really transformed. So pruning doesn’t always mean out with the old and in with the new. It means that I have to discern which “branch” to cut at the right time in my life.

After my hard work, I enjoyed some pasta (Halloween pasta that I have saved as a special treat for myself for days like this).  

Friday, June 27, 2014

... why I can't sleep and ghosts of baby spiders...

It's around the five year anniversary of when my fella and I met so tonight I planned a fancy dinner and just when I went to greet him at the door my world twisted into an awful version of Charlotte's Web except the momma spider hatched her babies in my front door jamb and I opened the door only for hundreds of baby spiders to be flying around-- eight crawling on my arm, five in the wreath on my door, at least fifty on the storm door, a dozen in my hair and on my shirt along with cobwebs. So much for dressing cute and looking pretty and put together while I greeted my fella at my door… sigh.

While eating, one baby spider even crawled down my fork.

Because they seemed to be everywhere, I was encouraged to use bug spray. I did and the rest of the evening has been spent crying. I didn't need to... those little guys weren't doing a thing to hurt anyone and for heaven’s sake even my last name means “spider” in Polish.

I’m not nocturnal unless you count 4:30 am when the rest of the world is sleeping. That’s the time I get up and get ready for work. I have an extreme commute (6 hours daily) but that’s a whole other story. Point being, I’m usually asleep at this hour but not tonight. I can’t sleep. My eyes are puffy from crying and honestly I’m still a little itchy from the now ghost-spiders crawling all over me.
I don’t hate spiders. In fact, I almost wore my pewter spider earrings for dinner but spiders creep out my fella just a bit so I went with bat earrings instead. I’m even a vegetarian!

Throughout my life whenever something needs to be done, I do it. Tonight it was save my fella from the flying baby spiders. I just wish that I could have taken a moment to think it through. I could have simply opened the storm door, left it propped open and closed my front door. The spiders would have blown away in the wind. Of course, they were probably indoor spiders and would have been a feast for other predators but being killed by bug spray is no way to die.

I’ve killed “bugs” before so why am I so bothered tonight? Was it supposed to be a perfect evening with my fella? Probably. But, I also think it may go deeper into the “not Goth enough” feeling that some of us discuss from time to time.

At 40, I was pretty certain that I had grown out of this. I mean, I am who I am; I like what I like. I’m not the 15-year-old dating the super-hot gothy- goth boyfriend whom I’m quite sure met every possible Goth cliché he could back in 1989.  We met while seeing TheCure. For the next three years, we were in a relationship that pretty much firmed my image of the perfect male. Not until my recent fella have I even come close to my 15-year-old’s version of perfection. Back then I had a best friend whom I equally saw as the perfect Goth girl. She was beautiful with long naturally dark hair and she was insanely melancholy. Now, I can recognize that she suffered from a bit of depression but at 15 being melancholy seemed posh. Around her, I never felt “Goth enough”. I would always have to dye my hair and make a bit of an effort. Even at funerals, I was pretty perky. I was the kind of Goth girl who was usually laughing or skipping around pulling pranks. I liked to have fun then and I still do. In fact, the droning on of some of my favorite musicians even made me laugh back then… but I still loved them for it. We’re all different which makes the subculture interesting. Some of us like taxidermy bats while others (like me) prefer cartoony stuffed animals. But I always assumed she was what my super-hot gothy- goth boyfriend wanted but instead got stuck with the subpar version of the perfect Goth girl.

About a decade ago, I reconnected with my early 1990’s super-hot gothy- goth boyfriend. He had grown up and married a girl just like me! His wife and I hit it off. We wore the same body lotion, had similar occupations, read the same books. In fact, he joked that us hitting it off and nearly leaving him out of the conversation was not how the reunion was supposed to go. I remember leaving and thinking that at 15, he must not have wanted my melancholy-perfect-hair-friend but me for me.
Maybe I needed to write out all of this at 2:46 am to remember that my fella likes me for me—the remorseful vegetarian, spider-killer. I suppose killing all those spiders really hasn’t put me in jeopardy of losing my “Goth card”. Perhaps being counter-culture sometimes means handing one’s glass of wine to your fella so that you can rescue him from flying baby spiders.   

Thursday, June 26, 2014

... life in seasons...

Today has been exciting. I signed paperwork so that I’m now an official tour guide to one of my favorite spots, Hollywood Cemetery. It’s such a beautiful place and I have loved it as long as I can remember. This was a fairly extensive journey that began in January through a guide school course which focused on the history of the location. I love a good story but until this course I always found history to be a bit dry and full of numbers and facts that don’t have any meaning in my life. This all changed with this course. I’ve been reading extensively and have a whole new appreciation.  In many ways, this has been a decade longing which finally came to fruition. Even in my old life I had wanted to work as a guide but the stars just didn’t align until this year. My therapist sees life as a series of seasons which as a gardener I adore. Even in life, there is a time to sit and “winter”; there is a time to grow and “spring”; there is a time to let go parts of yourself and “fall”; and, there is a time to simply appreciate the abundance of hard work and “summer”. For a little over five years now I have been watching my seasons changing. I finally feel like I’ve reached a bit of summer.  

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

... the growth of the garden...

“Gardens are not made by singing 'Oh, how beautiful,' and sitting in the shade.” ~ Rudyard Kipling

This morning I have flowers on my mind. There were a few blooms to greet me and I couldn’t help but take a step back and be pleased at my progress over the last four years. My townhome was built at this point and there was absolutely nothing, not even mulch in place. With very little knowledge but a whole lot of enthusiasm, I began adding to my garden. Because I’m in the USDA Zone 7, and because I don’t have a great deal of shaded areas, some of the beautiful and vibrant blank blooms aren’t an option for me. I find myself attracted to reds and purples, so you’ll find those colors there. I also find myself adding little garden trinkets into the garden. I have a full skull planters; some whirligigs of a hearse, bat, and vampire; and, I have a few other pieces of signage and Halloween stakes which I keep out year round (except I do bring them in during the winter months when it snows).  

Salvia and Heart Attacks
My front yard is mostly shade until about July when the sun has moved and it becomes closer to full sun. The poor little Bleeding Hearts and Columbine dry up about that time. My side yard has morning sun and I find it is an excellent place to grow perennial hibiscus. If one can’t have dark and moody blooms, the big odd ones are just perfect. My backyard has full sun year around. I’ve designed it so that the plants nearly cover the backyard fence and it becomes very secret garden-like. I recently bought that Funeral Coach and although it’s sitting on a bookshelf in my house, I have toyed with the idea of moving it into the backyard. We’ll see. And while he’s rather difficult to see, my fella’s mother gave me an owl garden feature. He lights up an eerie green at night.

Perennial Hibiscus

Sunday, June 22, 2014

… history and hair dye…

This afternoon I took a walking tour with my fella. Some call it a staycation; we just think there is so much to learn about our own city even though we are from here, and I after moving away again and again have finally come home. The street we toured Carytown is part of the Museum District in Richmond, Virginia. The shopping district has returned to its art deco “splendor”. For me, I looked forward to the "behind the scenes" tour of the Byrd Theatre. Named after William Byrd II, the founder of the city, the theater was the first in Virginia to be equipped with a sound system from the time it opened on December 24, 1928. It is stilled called Richmond’s Movie Palace. I can’t recall a time when I didn’t go to the “dollar” theater which costs $1.99 and has as long as I remember (from the late 1980’s on). I have gone to the movies on dates, with friends, and for many years alone. When I lived in various apartments in the fan and did not have air conditioning, I would go no matter the movie. It’s a part of Richmond that hasn’t changed for me. Today we were able to learn about its history and even go into the film booth which was quite exciting.
Of course, I’m reflecting on this as I dye my hair black. Each time I dye my hair I wonder why I listened to all those who told me to never do it. I had dyed my hair various colors across the rainbow but once I dyed my hair black, I couldn’t imagine a reason I would ever change the color. It’s a part of me. I consider it the color I was always meant to have but just wasn’t born having.
This will be an odd ending but the two- The Byrd and black hair dye- actually do have a bit of a connection for me. There are just some parts of your life that when you discover them or leave them you realize that you were always meant to have them in your life. Richmond is my home and I can’t imagine a more complex, interesting, and even at times troubling place to live. I think my first black hair dye story may be more appropriate for another day… or at least I time when I don’t have to go rinse out hair dye.