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Home with Birds
Home with Birds in PJ's.(Mouse Over)

(Kim: I might not have today's drawing done until this evening.)

ok

(Kim: Melissa and her friend (the guy who is coming to Josh's wedding in Calif.) are coming over to lunch and I have to do a bunch of stuff for that. He hasn't been to our house so we want it to be especially nice.)

that is very nice. what are you making?

(Kim: I made baked roots (turnips, rutabaga, zucchini, potato, onion, and parsnips in a soy sauce, basmati vinegar, olive oil, and honey marinade). I also sauteed tofu, ginger, and portabellos in a little olive oil and soy sauce. Linda made a shredded carrot salad with a lemon and cranberry dressing. Melissa and her friend made an baked apple and oatmeal dessert. It was all delicious.)

(Kim: As I think more and more about "retirement" it is interesting to read about your days because my days would probably be pretty similar.)

Not sure I understand. One of the reasons my days are so hectic is because I am not retired. And looking for ways that i can fit in administrative work, my own outside creative projects, reading, daydreaming, exercising, alone time, etc etc.

(Kim: I certainly don't like the word "retirement" nor do I envision that I'll be "retiring" in the sense of sleeping.)

If I were not running a company, I would have more time and I don't think things would feel so tight.

That seems like an obvious statement but it is hypothetical, since I do not know. I do know that I rarely feel like I have enough time for myself and also that I don't have enough time or perhaps don't designate enough for purely social stuff with people that is not work related.

I am also increasingly aware of my need to shift my plans when I feel overstimulated. A lot of times, I feel like I can handle more interactions than I probably can emotionally and still stay true to myself. When I allow myself to get locked into perceived obligations or interactions for which I am no longer up, I have noticed that my subconscious rebels with various destructive yet coping mechanisms. Like overeating or eating things I shouldn't have or staying up too late so i can have more time to read.

So, I have made a pact with myself to pay more attention to what I really need. It is not easy. I am, as are you, over responsible. I want to honor commitments. I also have a hard time maintaining boundaries when people push. However, I most want to honor myself.

So this is my new or rather, ongoing challenge.

(Kim: I notice in the weekends I don't have enough time...and I let so many things "slide."

I did ask Linda about my theory that "your relationships are all the same." She said it was wrong because it just was.)

I don't know your wife. I think we met ever so briefly when i came to your house years ago. But I love my sense of her. She just seems very grounded.

Of course, she is right what she said, "That my relationships are not all the same." What I love and perhaps find fascinating is that she didn't elaborate when you asked her to explain her position.

Maybe, like me, she thinks your statement is so absurd, she wouldn't know where to begin to deconstruct it. You do sometimes, oversimplify, dear Kim.

(Kim: And Einstein was critical of Neils Bohr ("I am convinced that He (God) does not play dice.") because he suggested that particles were not predictable by a simple formula (I'm in good company...now I just need his brain.))

And yes I know, that is an oversimplification. I still believe it though.

(Kim: My mom (she was trained as psychiatric social worker) said that people who don't go through therapy find the same partner
over and over again and have the same problems that they did before.)


I am in therapy and have been for years. My partners have all been very different people.

A lot of the problems are mine. How to hold my ground and not be pushed at.And not take on someone's anger or disappointment when they don't get what they want.

I am not typical of a lot of women and especially of a lot of lesbians. I want intimacy but I also want a lot of autonomy. I can't handle the continual stimulation of togetherness. It was a real problem for me growing up. Being in a family. Having very little physical or psychic space that was mine.

Perhaps I am wrong but i think the problems in my relationships vary from person Pseudonym wants a great deal of attention from me, often does not respect the needs of my chosen activities and acts out all over the place when she does not get what she wants.

K, my previous girlfriend wanted very little attention. She was elusive, unreliable, uncomfortable with intimacy. She is very smart and accomplished and we enjoyed a lot of the same activities. I could have envisioned a future with her. But there was very little focus on constructing a we, with her. It was mostly about her and she could not communicate in a way that I understood. Ultimately, it was too hurtful and unfulfilling to stay in it. I didn't see any evidence that it might be different. She was very invested in being right all the time. So I left.

Very different relationships. And because they were different, I am not sure that I was the same Joan in them.

Later,

Joan

Dear Kim,

It is Saturday night, about 11 pm. There is much in the external world I could be doing tonight. Sara Burke, our new choreographer has invited me over to join her husband and friends for chili and drinks. PFLAG is having their annual party. There are few good concerts calling.

Instead, I have chosen to be at home, with my birds, in my pajamas, watching "The Sound of Music and writing to you.

You talked a while back about how people tend to rush more and more these days. I know that most of my days are very full, including today.

It started early with a holiday brunch party for the family and friend members of the Breakfast Club, a support group for African American women with breast cancer with whom I am working. Then I went to the second half of rehearsal for The DisAbility Project where Sara and I are creating a new movement piece with the ensemble about violence. We had a little holiday party as well, with snacks and Dionne Warwick on the stereo.

We even had a surprise Santa exchange as well as had guests visiting from RAC's CAT Institute. So there was a fair amount of answering questions and information exchanged.

Then I drove out to Chesterfield, truly another world for me. Got lost because I couldn't figure out how the highway looped around but managed to finally find St. Luke's Hospital, where Jackie one of our artistic associates and Neal Richardson, a musician friend were doing their final showing for the semester of a piece they created with pre and adolescent girls.

On the way home, I was struck with a sudden passionate desire to buy bookcases. Very strange. But i recognize this pattern in myself. Whenever I find myself really busy, or perhaps feeling like one activity is layered on top of another without sufficient breathing or down time, I start cleaning my desk or buying office supplies.

Really.

Some women shop at Famous Barr or Dillard's when they feel stressed.

I go to Office Depot.

I want to use my time really well. You and I have talked about how this is something we really share in common.

I want to take advantage of everything that is up for the tasting in the time limited buffet that is life., But—to extend the metaphor—a lot of times, my eyes are bigger than my plate. Not bigger than my appetite, which is enormous., But then what I can reasonably handle. And if I am not careful, I get overstimulated. So that I don't really savor what is available but am gulping things down instead.

Sometimes, rather than going on to the next activity, I want to revisit a previous one.

Perhaps it is because of the holidays, which seems to heighten things for many people. There were a lot of rich moments today, which I want to revisit.

The Breakfast Club's holiday sit down party at the Salad Bowl on Lindell is one. Listening to Kenita memorialize the death from cancer of two members this past month. The way she chose to give up her pain, frustration and confusion to God. And how we we all sang gospel songs at the table.

I am thinking of how, in a crowd of well over a hundred, I was one of a handful of white people. How rarely that is the case. How I wish I found or placed myself in circumstances like that more. How full it felt. And how comfortable I was.

Maybe it was because I have been visiting the Breakfast Club for months.

Or because i have cancer`in common with these women. And once you have been through cancer, you can look into another survivor's eyes and understand a fundamental truth that needs no words.

I don't know. I can't know. What I do know is that it felt good.

Later, at rehearsal, we said good bye to Casie who has been our intern for six months and has just completed her Masters in Social Work from George Warren Brown School of Social Work. We made her a card and sang and thanked her. And we talked about what it feels like when people leave because it is their time to go.

I noticed that Stuart was looking sad and asked if he had something he wanted to say. He said that the first half of the season, this fall, had been a difficult one, with the death of Lisi but that his experience with the DisAbility Project, after eight years felt richer all the time. And that he was sad to be separated for a few weeks until we reconvene in January. That we are his family and he loves us.

Stuart lives in an assisted care facility—, a nursing home really— way out in the county where he and his new girlfriend Diane who also has MS are easily the youngest people by 30 years. His MS is pretty advanced and he needs a lot of care physically these days. He is too frail to go on any of our overnight performances any more.

Mentally, he is sharp as a tack and charmed the audience at the V.A. on Thursday with his comic routine about being backstage at a Victoria Secrets fashion show.

Our weekly rehearsals for three hours are the only time he gets out, except for doctor appointments. We are a life line for him, a connection to the vital world that is out there.

I told him that I would miss him, and everyone, too. That I would call and write. And that we should all feel free to continue our connections with each other outside of rehearsal and not just when I am able to facilitate it.

Then I went over and had a private moment with him where I touched his face and kissed his cheek. We told each other that we loved each other. And really, we do. When you think about it, Kim, we have a very intimate relationship. We have seen each other almost every week for eight years. With time out for his hospitalizations and surgeries or mine.

Then Sara invited me to come to her house tonight.

As I was driving back from Office Depot, I realized that I could rally but that I didn't want to. I would have to summon up a performing self for the party. Or maybe I think I would have to summon up a performing self.

But i would need to be more present than I thought I could be.

My days are full of the performing of one kind of self or another. It is not necessarily inauthentic. But it is about context and objectives and requires some calibration of self.

While that might be ok under most circumstances, I was full with my day. I was sated.

As we say at Passover, "Dayenu."

Not that it was too much. But that it was enough. And in order to be
cherished, I would have to say enough.

Later,

Joan

Saturday, Dec 17, 2005

11:56 PM

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