Notes From The Flip Side: 02.13.2005
"We cannot learn from one another until we stop shouting at one another - until we speak quietly enough so that our words can be heard as well as our voices."
Sleeping Pills To Feel Forgiven
I'm on edge constantly these days. Everything is uncertain. The fights are getting worse, more bitter. She doesn't understand why I'm moving out so I have to remind her that she broke up with me several times over that weekend, that she said horrible things that people in love simply don't say to each other, that without a change we were headed here anyway. She keeps asking for more time, but it seems like stalling, like little more than an attempt to delay the inevitable.
After all, I signed a lease today. The apartment - beige and boring though it may be - has been ready to move into for over a week. And part of me was ready to do it then and let her come home to the shock of empty rooms simply so I could escape how the past week or two have felt.
That isn't how people in love behave either.
But this is what we seem to have come to. There isn't much kindness in either of us lately, just suspicion and resentment - her because I'm leaving, me because I wonder what enough looks like.
Even counseling doesn't seem to be helping.
And none of this is giving me any reason to help her or make things easier. All it's making me want to do is leave as quickly as possible so that I can have a place which feels safe when I walk in, a place where I won't have to fight or argue, a place where I can walk in, sit on the couch and remember that loneliness may be difficult but it is sometimes better than companionship ... especially companionship which feels like this. All it's doing is reminding me that, despite what she and her family are saying to me, I do know what I'm doing and I also know that - painful though it may be - it is what's best for both of us. For all of us, really.
And so here we are - it's almost midnight and she's sleeping. I'm awake and shivering because it's below zero again and the cold is seeping through the walls. I am, however, writing. I'm hoping that she'll be willing to try to find a time for counseling that works for both of us instead of trying to make a point of how little time she's going to have. I'm hoping that she'll be willing to make time for us to work on things, to see if we can build something new which approximates what we once were. I hope we can sort things out, that we can somehow remedy this and patch things up, that we can stop hurting each other and get to a place that's better.
And if we can't, I simply hope that we can end this quickly without letting it drag on any longer than it absolutely needs to.
The move is going about as painlessly as it could be - if you define painless, in this case, as emotional discomfort. I'm popping aspirin like candy and still have more to move. I'm unpacking here this morning so that I can take boxes back and use them again, just to make this a little easier. I still have a minimum of two more trips to make - my bike will be at least one of those. I'm hoping I can fit the rest into one trip, but my shelves will likely be another trip by themselves.
With the exception of a moving crew which handled the big stuff, I've done this by myself. It hasn't been easy.
Boxes of records, books and CDs - clearing out my collection doesn't seem to help. Trading in old books and donating others to the library merely means that I moved them somewhere else. I'm trying to unpack as I go - it has been marginally successful at reducing clutter to date.
And just wait until I start building my CD racks.
Warm Baths, Cold Beer
There's something satisfying about taking a hot bath and reading Camus' letters to Germany while drinking a couple of cold Sierra Nevadas that have been in the refrigerator for two days. I may have to go to work tomorrow, I may have to move more things this week, it may be even more unpleasant and painful than the past few days, but tonight - at this moment, despite everything - I feel okay. Frankly, I'll take that. That's good enough for now.
Wait ... Doesn't Carpentry Require Right Angles?
So I built one CD rack. I don't think I'm being unkind when I say that it's lopsided. I would honestly be surprised if a single right angle exists out of more than 80 chances. How's that for defying the odds? We aren't talking about a minor deviation either - we're talking about significantly tilted. However, it holds the CDs, so it functions. As long as it functions, I could care less about the form. It's not like I'm Todd Oldham or trying to get a job at Herman Miller to do furniture design - I need to hold records. Punk CDs, in fact. I built the racks that hold them - if they're off a bit, so what? It's not like I can play guitar either but that doesn't stop me from doing it.
On Ultimatums And Demands; Or, Negotiating With North Korea
Lately, it seems like every conversation is turning into an ultimatum or demand. I constantly feel like I'm being pushed into a corner, that people's goals or desires for certainty or to settle things are putting my back against a wall. I'm trying to remain calm - I'm trying to hold my position at the eye of this storm and accept the uncertainty because I know that, sooner or later, I will have all the information I need and I will be able to make an informed decision. In the meantime, feeling uncomfortable isn't necessarily a bad thing and I'm trying to allow myself to feel uneasy. I don't need to know all the time - I don't have to have all the answers, nor do I even have to have all the questions right now. What I need right now is to be still and allow the storm to swirl around me, regardless of the damage it may cause.
And if I am forced into moving, then I will move swiftly, righteously and with as much love as I can muster.
There are, after all, reasons why I try to model my behavior after warrior codes which originated centuries ago on a different continent. There are reasons why those codes of conduct still matter - they focus on honor, integrity, wisdom, mercy ... characteristics which we would all do well to embody. These codes remind me of what I strive toward - moving through life like a well-honed blade, cutting only when necessary.
When it comes to negotiating, these are the things I keep in mind. Soyen Shaku's words about the courage of a hero and the loving heart of a child stay with me, even as I wait for the storm to return.
In the meantime, I calmly sit and wait.
Off The Top Of My Head ...
- I love The Sounds.
- I also love Willie Hightower.
- And that new M83 disc is kicking my ass too.
- There's something really satisfying about building something. Even if it doesn't look good.
David Sylvian. The Chemical Brothers. Willie Hightower. M83. Papa Wemba. Cecil Taylor. Chopin. Rhett Miller. A.C. Newman. The Weakerthans.
"Wet Hot American Summer," "Dodgeball," "This Is Spinal Tap"
Jeffrey McDaniel, "The Splinter Factory"; Joel Brouwer, "Exactly What Happened"
Paul Avrich, "Anarchist Portraits"; Bertrand Russell, "Why I Am Not A Christian"; Umberto Eco, "Island Of The Day Before"; Alan Lomax, "The Land Where The Blues Began"; Peter Guralnick, "Lost Highway" and "Sweet Soul Music"; Steven Heller, "Graphic Design History" (edited with Georgette Ballance); Gunnar Swanson, ed., "Graphic Design And Reading"; Daniel Guerin, "No Gods No Masters"