Masks

What is it about Halloween? Some people like it more than Christmas. I’ll never be one of those people, but I can get into some aspects of it now. I still don’t like the the more macabre elements, or the gore, or the creepy crawly decorations. Okay, so I’m not the biggest fan.

I have, however, learned to appreciate the creativity of coming up with a good costume, both the idea and execution thereof.

I made an attempt at a mad scientist get-up for my church Halloween party last weekend. Unfortunately, my enthusiasm and energy kind of fizzled, but I have a lab coat for next year to improve on it. (I still need a crazy wig and beaker to hold dry ice, and a better technique of using charcoal as soot on the lab coat and my face.) I could try again for dress-up day at work on Halloween. We’ll see.

When I was a kid, I didn’t like any costume with a mask. It was probably just uncomfortable, but it was also kind of prophetic.  I didn’t like the idea of pretending to be someone else. Then I did that for years. Actually, it wasn’t so much pretending as it was suppressing who I really am. I still take a long time to open up and get to know people. I think that, even though I’m out to my family and a lot of other people, and made it public on Facebook a few years back, I’m still kind of guarded about being gay. I don’t talk about it at work. Only a few people know there.

I think that creates a barrier that keeps me acting reserved in general because I’m still holding back part of myself in one part of my life. That affects all areas of my life. I totally get that many LGBT people move far from home and start over. It’s easier to be yourself when people have only known you one way.

I don’t plan to come out at work anytime soon, though. There are people I just don’t care to share it with. Some unpleasant people. It’s not that I think they would act with prejudice against me. It’s just none of their business. It’s only a few people. It might seem like I shouldn’t let that stop me, but that’s just where I am right now. I don’t try to hide it. I just don’t talk about it.

Anyway, back to Halloween costumes. If you don one this season, enjoy the time of fun, freeing anonymity, or role playing. See yourself from a different perspective, and if you made the most original, or funniest, or sexiest, or scariest costume, then wear it with pride.

 

Seeking enrichment

Life can get pretty routine sometimes. Work or school, homework or housework, eat, sleep, repeat. It’s so important to find things to enrich our days. That can be a significant other/spouse, pets, volunteering, a hobby, or a project.

I love playing with my two crazy cats and having them snuggle while I’m watching TV or checking my social media on the laptop. One of them seems to always want to climb on top of me just when I’m ready to settle down to write.  Hey, that’s another enrichment: writing or other creative endeavors. More  importantly, working on long term goals or projects.

Of course, that’s more “work” oriented. You still need something more leisurely or enjoyable in your life. Personally, I find myself doing less of that lately. A friend asked me today if I had done any origami lately. I haven’t. I made a couple birds when I visited with her and my other good friend, her hubby, about a month ago. He’s an artist and did a drawing while we folded. That was the first time I did any paper folding for quite a few years.

I also haven’t taken my camera out too much in recent years. I love photography. I don’t know if it’s just getting older and having less energy, or if it’s depression, or a little of both.  There’s also the lack of time.

The good thing is that I still have interest in these things, so I guess I’m not too depressed. (I have bipolar depression, but take medication for it.) If you don’t know, loss of interest in things you normally enjoy is a sign of serious depression.  I just wanted to throw that in there, since mental health problems often go undiagnosed or untreated.

So, in the spirit of renewal anytime, as I discussed in my last post, I’m going to make more of an effort on all my interests.

Let’s see…. where can I go photoggin’ this weekend?

I’ll let you know.

Carpe diem.

A season for change

In nature, spring is, of course, the time of renewal.  Trees budding, flowers blooming, wildlife rearing young.  But, for people, we grow up with the new school year starting in fall, going away to college, football season starts, and for many workers, vacations for the year are done and the busy time of year gets underway.

So, I always thought of fall as the time of renewal. Besides school, I started a couple different jobs in the fall, and I moved out on my own for the first time one September.  I tended to seek out new things as autumn moved in. I joined a film making group one fall, started volunteering at an independent film theater another year.

Then, over the years, I started to lose that association of renewal with fall. Any schooling was a distant memory, started my current job in the spring about three and a half years ago. I haven’t really done anything new in the autumn for a long time.

So, while it’s fall now, where I am, maybe the new theme should be renewal anytime. I hope to get my writing back on track now,  not just posting here, but working on writing projects. I’m not working overtime right now since it’s temporarily unavailable. That makes it a good time to renew and get into good habits, so that when I have less time, I can still do what I need to do in my off hours.

In other words, there’s no better time than the present. While it’s okay to associate a certain time with renewing or trying new things, the flip side is that you don’t need to save something special for that time.  Anytime is a great time to grow,  or renew, or branch out, connect or reconnect.

So, wish me luck on my creative endeavors and get busy with your own! Carpe diem!

More things I learned from my cats

One of my two cats seems to get more and more affectionate and, well, cuddly, in the last year or so. He’s about five years old. He’s a big fella but doesn’t seem to realize it. He likes to get up on my chest right up by my chin while I’m sitting on the sofa, or even out on the deck.

It’s hard to see over him and I get fur in my face, but I don’t mind. Tonight, while he was doing that on the deck, he slid over against my arm, which was resting on the armrest, his head resting on my belly. It was the epitome of total relaxation.

He was so thoroughly cozy and comfy. You could tell he felt as safe and content as any creature could. I wish I could feel that way. I really can’t think of a time, since being a small child in my parents arms, that I felt so safe, comfortable and relaxed. I know I’ve never had a long term significant other, but I don’t know if any adults feel that secure, do they?

I suppose it depends on the ability to give, or receive, unconditional love. That includes two-way trust. My cat couldn’t even ideate betrayal of trust, and my brother and I are not capable of mistreatment of any creature, especially one as loving as this. He also doesn’t have the human concerns and responsibilities of subsistence and such things. So, maybe it’s a little easier for Smokey to veg out in total comfort and security.

Well, of course it is. But when I look down at his furry little face resting on my arm, I get a moment of that peace and comfort, vicariously.  Everyone needs to have some peaceful, quiet moments to reflect. The world would be a better place if we could all do that.

Spoiler alert

When I was in first grade, the teacher got everyone in the class a thoughtful gift, which we opened in class the last day before Christmas break.  I didn’t tear into the wrapping quite as voraciously as some students did.  The first one to pull the gift free from its packaging, held it up and triumphantly showed it off.

It was a drink cup with a Santa Claus drawn on it and our faces placed on the Santa. The Santas and the Merry Christmas message were under the plastic, which was pretty innovative for the late ’70’s. Our faces were cut out of the class picture by hand and glued on. It must have taken a lot of time. Miss Dobes, as she was named then, remains one of my all time favorite teachers.

Back to the unwrapping. I don’t know why, but I was so very disappointed that the surprise had been ruined by the quick opener kid, so much so, that I lambasted him for it. I think I was near tears.  I sure laid a guilt trip on that kid. Other kids and the teacher backed me up, perhaps just because I had felt so strongly about it and they empathized with me. He didn’t really do anything wrong, though.

I’m still not really sure why it bothered me that much, but I don’t like having a surprise ruined to this day.  I guess I’m still a kid at heart. I’ve known people who will tell you not to worry about telling them all about a movie, even if they plan to see it. They don’t care if they know what’s going to happen.  I can’t understand that. I think most of us are more like me that day in first grade.  That’s why we say, “Spoiler alert!” in conversation or on social media.

What is it about surprises? Partly, it’s the inner child thing. We like to be delighted, or to have a moment of excitement, something beyond the normal everyday goings on.

I think it’s also a very genuine experience to be surprised in a good way. There’s no time to build it up, or knock it down. There’s no pretense, no spin, no analysis.  You just live the moment. You feel it. You savor it, and remember it with a smile.

No comparison, singles edition

I mentioned in yesterday’s post about there being two things that reminded me of the old saying, “All unhappiness comes from comparison.” I wrote about one of them. That being the success of others making me feel a sense of loss, or at least longing, for things still not achieved.

I touched on the other. A fellow picnic attendee mistook my friend and I for a couple. I wasn’t surprised, since I was kind of sticking close to my friend since I didn’t know anyone else very well, and wasn’t feeling real energetic that evening.

It really didn’t bother me at that moment, but I do think about it. The unhealthy comparison here is when I look at couples, gay or straight, who have been together a long time, and seem to complete each other. They also have someone to grow old with, to share special moments, perhaps kids and then grandchildren, carrying on the family name and all that.

It’s sometimes a little scary to think about getting old and living by yourself. But hey, I’m only 47. I have time yet. Someone out there is wishing they could be 47 again, while I might wish I was 27. It’s all relative. And it’s all irrelevant. Those damn comparisons!

Honestly, I’m okay being single right now. (When I’m not comparing myself to one happy pair or another who seem to have it all.) I have a harder time with the accomplishment and success comparisons, than I do with relationship jealousy.

Yet, if you’ve been single around the holidays, you know it’s better when you have someone to share it with.  I know a lot of single people don’t do any decorating for Christmas. I always have, regardless.  So, I guess I’m not unhappy being on my own, but I’d like to find “the one” eventually.

In the meantime, I will make no comparisons to others, but only examine my own life just as I do with goals or degrees of success. I’ve grown a lot as a person through the years, and have become much more comfortable in my own skin. They say confidence is the most attractive quality. I still need some work, but not comparing will help with that.

Things will come together in their own time.

The contribution

As we pulled out, I waved to my family. My aunt commented that my mom was really crying, and she seemed surprised that it was that hard for her to see me go for two weeks. I hadn’t been away from home for more than a night before that.

I was going to stay with relatives for two weeks and come back to our family reunion with them. It was the summer between 6th and 7th grades. We didn’t have middle school then, so the coming year was the first of junior high. I had kind of been manic in the latter half of the school year, though it would be years before I knew that’s what it was. It was kind of good in that it broke me out of my shell. I was always very shy and quiet. Unfortunately, that returned by fall and lasted for a few more years.

So, we were off, amidst the tears. I realized years later that my mom was crying because she felt so bad about my brother not getting to go too. My aunt had called my mom and made the suggestion.  I guess there wouldn’t have been enough room in their car for everyone on the way back with luggage and all, so only I was going.

It begs the question, why extend the invitation at all if it was only going to be for one? Then I thought maybe my mom should have declined the invitation. I guess she didn’t want us both to miss out. My brother and I were just 14 months apart in age, he the older one, and we did everything together.

My brother was gracious about letting me go. While he was close to our cuz too, he knew that I always had a special bond with him. I’m sure he still felt left out, though. We didn’t get to do a lot of things, or go places, because we didn’t have the money and my parents didn’t get much vacation. I don’t know if they had any paid vacation. My mom was working at a blouse mill and my dad worked at a hardware store.

Once at my cousin’s house, I had a really nice time. It was early in the summer, and the weather was great.  As I said, my cousin and I had a special bond. We only saw each other once a year, but we always picked right up where we left off. They lived in a city, and we went to museums and other fun things.

We also ate out two or three times. Near the end of the trip, my aunt asked me for money for those times we ate out and they had paid for everyone, including me. I was surprised that she was asking for it, but being only 11, I didn’t protest. The problem was, that I had only $13 at the start of the trip, some of which I had spent on a puddle jumper at the Children’s Museum.

My aunt’s response to that information was, “You mean your mother sent you out here with only thirteen dollars?”  Instead of feeling angry at her, I was embarrassed and ashamed. I felt inadequate. I was aware that my family was poorer than most everyone else I knew, but this was kind of a painful reminder. And, she still took the my money. I had wanted to get my brother a souvenir of some kind. My aunt said I could pick something out of a box of items she picked up here and there for our annual Christmas gift exchange via mail.

I selected a fancy plastic ruler with “wood” grain through the middle. I’ll never forget the disappointed look on my brother’s face when I presented it to him.

Well, that was more than three decades ago. (Is that possible?) I must admit I still feel resentment when I think of that incident, but I have forgiven it. I remind myself of her good qualities, which I’ll share with you now. She was fun to be around and had an infectious laugh.

My uncle worked for the post office and he used to joke that she gave him job security, because she sent cards to everyone for birthdays and anniversaries and such. She was very good about that. She kept track of everything. She worked hard selling Tupperware to help support the family. She actually won a sales contest not long before my visit. The prize was the station wagon we rode in.

She also had diabetes for as long as I could remember. She was on dialysis for the last ten years of her life, until heart complications took her too soon. I think she was 72, so she made it pretty long, considering. We all still miss her.