Obsession, bullying, and the (mostly) quiet hostility of bloglyfe

So, one of the major reasons I shook some dust leaving an until-recently family of choice and never looked back had to do with obsession and bullying (notably, two features shared in common by people prone to stalk and engage in domestic violence, so you know, that’s my cue to RUN not WALK).  Since I know most of my readership personally, I don’t feel the need to rehash those details in any specific way.  However, it’s pretty clear that the ongoing obsession, desire to control, and urge to dominate is still very present for a particular person in the family I departed.  The only reason I’m relatively certain that my former chosen family members don’t read anything I write here is that I (unlike some other parties) have not been the recipient of ongoing micro-aggression in my digital life.  I also take a lot of precautions to limit their ability to reach me, after I learned that saying “please don’t” or “that hurts” was about as effective as trying to piss up a rope.

I think one of the most important things to take away from adult breakups, be they friends, romantic partners, work colleagues, employment opportunities, or simple changes in social circles due to geography or lifestyle, is this: you don’t get to run other people’s sh*t, and when you try to run other people’s sh*t, you look like a complete crazy person.  Possibly because you are, in fact, a complete crazy person. I use ‘crazy’ here as a colloquial short cut for A person who believes things that are objectively not true, such as: I have a right to control other peoples feelings, actions, or emotional responses; or, it is my job to police the social interactions of other human beings; or, I am entitled to impose my presence on people against their spoken wishes because my needs or desires are more important than their well-being; or, I am the sole objective authority on events XYZ, and have a right and/or responsibility to even the unwilling to promulgate the Truth as I Define It.  That sh*t, in the immortal words of Jake the Dog, is ‘whack and has poo brain.’  Thank you, Adventure Time.  Come On, Grab Your Friends.

No one ‘owns’ the story of what happened to cause a rift or a departure.  That’s not an item of property, or a right, or an entitlement.  Even when maybe it feels like it should be.  Even when someone’s hurt us or mistreats us.  Even when we feel morally smug.  Perhaps especially when we feel morally smug.  We’re all just wanderers in a vast and unknowable universe, with limited, fallible perspectives.  We can tell our stories — and I often encourage people to do so!  There is a period of grief and loss when sharing a story with other human beings is potentially really productive, fruitful work! but that period is very brief — however, the fact remains that there will always be things we leave out, cushion, or hedge about because you know, even in really blame-y break-ups, no one was the perfect partner, friend, co-worker, or whatever.

I recently learnt this in a pretty direct and visceral way, and let me tell you: the knowledge that my perceptions were deliberately micromanaged in a pretty dishonest way was all the betrayal-feelings I needed to permanently cut emotional ties with some parties, and mend some fences and make some apologies, and maybe be a little vulnerable with people who had really, really good reason to be pretty cheesed at me.  Yeah, I was in a situation where my feelings (protectiveness, exhaustion, indignation) got the best of me; but it turns out that was in no small part because those feelings were being deliberately fueled by other people with a combination of omission of relevant facts and an obsessive focus on the mistakes, activities, and choices of the targeted party.  I was being weaponized, and I did not have the wisdom to see that at the time.

So now, I sort of sit and wait, and hope that sharing my triumphs and tribulations in a semi-public setting will not put me in the cross-hairs of people who bully, take, and obsess.  People who impose their presence on other people in quiet electronic micro-aggression because of, I’m guessing, impotent rage that they cannot control all the things and all the people and everyone’s perceptions and behaviors forever amen.

It makes me tired, and it makes me sad.  It also makes me certain that I made the elegant choice in taking my leave so firmly and permanently.  People with that kind of desire to control are dangerous.  I made the right choice.

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Obsession, bullying, and the (mostly) quiet hostility of bloglyfe

Achievement Unlocked: Home is Where You Are

T’s move is complete (mostly).  We have some unpacking to do, and some books to retrieve from his Mum’s, as they are from the Folio Society, and I desire to have them in our home such that I may fondle them like a creep.  We have some art to frame and hang, and I am looking forward to it living on our walls.  I have some plants to re-pot (my thai basil is thriving, and Amy has some pineapple mint for me to replace my dead oregano).  Last week was so stressful for both of us, but we weathered it pretty well.  I’m happy that home is where he is, and that we start and end our days together, even when we’re both off busy doing our own thing in between.  He’ll likely be getting some answers from his scholastic institution today about classes and benefits and such, and life will march forward, like it does.  With Sam visiting this weekend, there’s a lot of happiness happening this week.  And secretly, I love unpacking.  I hate packing forever, don’t make me do it.   But putting things where they belong (unless it is dishes because dishes are the absolute devil) does weird chemical things to my nesty brainparts.  Don’t judge.  We are all different.

Also on for this week:

  • TRIP TO THE LIBRARY F*CK YES – T has recommended Storm Front.  I’m only allowed to get one book this week, because I have prep work to do for our Jade Regent campaign.
  • Cleaning out my Saab, and prepping it for sale.  I cannot wait to find all my clothes and make-up in the trunk.  Probably also several wigs, let’s be honest.
  • Trip to Old Navy — I need a bathing suit and a pretty dress.  I get to have both, because I’ve been a good girl.  GOOD GIRLS GET FRINGE BATHING SUITS PERHAPS YOU HAVE HEARD THIS.
  • Preparations for Jade Regent.  My players want to go to the abandoned shack of a dead witch.  Everyone makes choices, I guess?  I hope not to res’ anyone.
  • Pay day!  WOooooo! (plus bill paying, eh what can you do.)
  • Happy Hour on Thursday!
  • Trip to the DMV (augh).
  • Beach trip shopping.  Snacks!  Solo Cups!  Illicit Booze!

I’ve been doing a pretty bang-up job of adjusting to a sometimes much smaller-feeling social circle, though there have been days (especially tough days last week) where I felt strangely isolated.  I am actively resisting the urge to sometimes Not Shut Up About My Feelings, because I don’t want the people around me to feel depleted or exhausted.  Honestly, what I should do is write a comprehensive account of what transpired, take my lessons from that, and go read The Mastery of Love and move the f*ck on already.  No one is interested in my whining about life lessons, probably least of all, me.

I think one of the deepest wounds I’m trying so patiently to close is that I invested so (so) much in these people who really had nothing of equal value to offer me in return.  While I don’t tend to think of relationships of choice as exchange-driven, I do think that reciprocity is a virtue worthy of our pursuit.  I was pushed to assimilate into a family unit that, underneath its “healthy, open, honest, communicative” exterior, is deeply flawed, coercive, maladaptive, and dysfunctional in a pretty unexamined and dangerous way.  I was not truly seen by this group of people, which is why when I pushed back with my own preferences and needs they reacted with such shock, offense, and false concern.  Gradually, it is all coming to make sense, and the narrative is becoming more holistic and cohesive, but I do often feel that I’m piecing it all together in something of a vacuum.

I reconnected with some unlikely parties (hi guys), in a tentative and cautious way, and maintain a hope for maybe some drinks and pleasant conversations later this summer or early autumn as the clouds continue to part.  I’m doing a lot of background-level processing about everything that has transpired in the last two or three months, and given how much I resist change… I’m doing pretty well?

I feel sort of validated in a way I didn’t before, because I spent all this time berating myself for being fooled by two people and their immediate social circles.  The amount of advantage taken of me is a little mind boggling.  After sharing some of what happened and listening a bit more to others, I realize that a lot of people are similarly tricked or fooled by charismatic individuals, and doubly so when they are encouraged to feel necessary, loved, or special.

So, now, instead of dwelling on it, I do research about fruit-bearing trees that can live in apartments (fig! keiffer lime!) and surf zillow postings in Kingsessing and SW Cedar Park and Cobbs Creek, daydreaming of something bright and sunny with a big kitchen and a front porch.  Once you’ve found your home, the house can be anything you want it seems.  As I settle in to the idea of changing my career, writing my book, moving to my city… it feels less like starting over and more like correcting my course.  I just needed to find true North.  My bearings were right there, the whole time.

Achievement Unlocked: Home is Where You Are

Things that are great about today:

Life is full of awesome, dudes.

  • I think I’m going to walk to the Library after work, to return my books and get more books.  Maybe Tomthulhu will come with me, and we can walk the reservoir path on our way home!
  • We can drink wine, listen to Coltrane, and assemble some bookshelves tonight, which sounds, honestly, perfect.
  • I might draw later tonight, and write a little for our upcoming Jade Regent session.
  • Betty Who’s four song EP, The Movement, is brain candy.
  • I don’t have to drive anywhere until tomorrow.
  • Green tea and miso crusted tuna steaks, roasted potatoes, and brussel sprouts for dinner.
  • I’ve been writing and reading really consistently lately!  I am proud of myself.
  • We finish the final stages of moving tomorrow, which means we will have a better bed, more seating, and a television in the living room.
  • I have done seriously seriously awesome with my budget this paycheck.  I’m getting better!
  • I have a new, working, pretty car (even if driving it is still a little stressful).
  • I think I might be able to swing a trip up to NYC soon!
  • We are going to the beach next Saturday with the Illustrious and Irreplaceable Sam.  Tim and Felicity might meet us there!
  • I get paid next week!
  • My decade milestone is coming up next month, and I feel really good about it for the first time.  I don’t know what I plan to do to mark the occasion yet, but I’m finally starting to feel free and self-honoring.  I’m transitioning from Survivor to Flourishing Amazing Human.  That feels pretty damn good.  That event will probably always be a part of me, but I’m behind the wheel 90% of the time.  I didn’t know I could ever come this far.
  • I feel more like the healthiest version of myself than I have in years.  It is straight up nuts how free of poisonous people my life is, now.  There is a lot of value in ejecting individuals who hoover the life out of you from your space.  I feel that I can greet life with more of a spirit of generosity and curiosity now than I have been able to in a very long time.
  • I have some amazing people in my life.  How did I get so fortunate?
Things that are great about today:

Driving a manual is still like middle school, in that it sucks for a while and then it doesn’t anymore. Plus some That’s Not Helpful.

I totally survived.  I know, I know.  Everyone was waiting hyperventilating oh wait no that was me with baited breath.  Traffic was shite, and I stalled a few dozen times in the hour and a quarter long trip, but you know, whatever.  That is the purpose of one’s hazard lights.  “Y’all could just go around me, you know.”  And people do!

So yesterday, driving a manual was like middle school because oh for heaven’s sake this is unavoidable, and also everyone thinks I suck and boys think I’m stupid, and I just want to go home and eat a banana and read AUGH LEAVE ME ALONE WHY AM I NOT ALREADY GOOD AT EVERYTHING WITHOUT TRYING.

That, by the way, accurately sums up my seventh grade experience.  It was not my best year.  It may be why I am so lured to teach that age group.  Man, they need some realtalk and unconditional positive regard.  I HAVE IT FOR YOU, SMALL NOT-YET ADULTS.

During this whole experience, I had a ‘That’s Not Helpful’* moment that was sort of illuminating, but also a bit obvious.  Third-party worry?  Not actually helpful.  Let me open with, I love my mom.  Let’s go from there.

I love my Mom.  She is my only parent worthy of the name, unless we’re talking about overcoming adversity or why I can’t be around people with narcissistic tendencies.  Then we’re talking about my Da, and it’s probably either a personal triumph blog post, or a therapy session.  Or a telephone call to the police!  So.  I love my Mom.  We are very different people, and have very different attachment styles.  My mom has a tendency toward anxious preoccupied attachment, and I overcame a significant problem with disorganized attachment as a child and later, as a young woman, and have moved towards a much more secure attachment style (though, everyone falters, and when I do, I tend now more toward anxious attachment).  This often translates to a difference in how my mom and I express care on the regular.  One of those differences is the expression of concern as an act of care.

For my mom, heaven love her, concern = worry = expressed worry.  Pretty much that fast.  So, for example, I say,

Me: Ugh, Ma, I’m so not looking forward to this drive.  I’m a little scared.

Mom: *head cock, brow furrow, possible wiggly eyes* “Please, Rabbit, BE CAREFUL.” *Hand clasp*.

Me: Sigh.  Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh.  “Mum, I could use some reassurance instead of worry.  I promise I am worried enough for both of us.”

Here’s the thing folks.  Expressing worry in this way doesn’t accomplish a whole lot.  It is clearly an example of Misdirected, Well-Intentioned Care.  It says, “Your anxiety may be justified (because I feel it too! Oh my freaking golden tap shoes, what if my treasured daughter dies in a fiery car wreck!), and therefore, do not stop feeling it.  Here, I will feel it with you, and then neither of us has to be alone in this fear PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ME EVER.”  

The thing is, me worrying about the drive?  Won’t actually make me more focused.  It won’t make me… careful-er.  It doesn’t protect me with some magic force field of caution and therefore, safety. I also wasn’t planning on being, you know, reckless, so it doesn’t really add to the conversation.  Like, yes.  Imma be careful.  Because cars can, you know, kill people.  Careful driving is how I roll (PUN!).  Here are some examples of what can be helpful, instead of expressing worry in this way:

  • I know you’re scared, but I believe you can do this.
  • You have got this, just go slowly and don’t think too much about other driver’s reactions.
  • You’re smart and capable, but if traffic is just too much too soon, you can pull over and call me!  We can chat until you feel ready to go on!
  • What would be helpful to help assuage your fear and discomfort?
  • Here, let’s put a mix CD together for you, with happy music.  You can keep it in the car for times when traffic feels overwhelming.
  • I know you will be careful, and with practice, this will start to feel easier!
  • {{Hug}} You’re going to totally kill it.  Call me if you need anything, okay?

One of the great things about Mom is that she takes direction from me about what is helpful pretty well.  She’s aware I’ve done a lot (a LOT) of work, both personally and professionally, excavating helpfulness and healing, and defers to my judgment whenever it is emotionally possible for her to do so.  It is pretty rad.  So you know, no conflict or hard feelings.  Just a gentle correction and a hug.

But it got me thinking: What unites the list above under the umbrella of ‘Helpful Responses and Properly Directed Care’?  I think the answer is threefold: each statement above 1) acknowledges the expressed (and tacitly shared) fear as real, valid, and strongly felt, but also 2) provides affirmation and comfort, and 3) a possible mitigating factor or coping mechanism.

Duh.  How many hours of crisis counseling training have I undergone?  So.  Many.  What is the first thing you learn?  “Reflect, Affirm, Suggest.”  Even when the stakes are high.  Even when the consequences are dire.  Likewise, even when the reported problem sounds trivial or small.  Even when the consequences seem minor.  Reflect, Affirm, Suggest.

Fear, uncertainty, and indecision are all batsh*t crazy-makers.  In fact, I would say that during my time at the crisis hotline, every single call I fielded in over 800 hours of volunteer service included some sliding scale ratio of those three emotions.  And lookit: I cannot make life less scary, outcomes more certain, or decisions for people who are not my own self.  BUT!  But.  I can assuage the crazy.  Reflect, Affirm, Suggest.

Reflect: I have heard the feeling you have expressed, and its proximal cause and will now repeat it to you, allowing you to correct me if I am mishearing or misunderstanding.  “I am hearing that you are afraid right now, because [concrete identified reason], am I hearing you accurately?”

Feeling heard is an instant crazy-diffuser.  There is nothing worse than feeling totally alone, like you’re screaming your feelings impotently and unheard into an unfeeling abyss.  There lies the path of despair and resignation.  As a helper, I’m not having it.  YOU ARE HEARD, FRIEND.

Affirm: Your feelings are as they are, and you have the reasons you’ve identified for feeling them.  I understand that, and affirm your emotional response as normal, sane, healthy, etc. “That sounds frustrating/scary/unnerving/upsetting.”

Well, clearly it sounds that way, because you just told me it is, in fact, that way!  You’re having an emotional response.  That emotional response is a neutral piece of you.  We can talk about actions in a second, but for right now, let’s take a moment to be like hey, sometimes I get angry at inanimate objects, too!  Crying because your kid is so beautiful and might (will) die one day?  There is a name for that (it’s foreboding joy), and oh man, people don’t talk about it enough, do they?  Sometimes, success is scary as f*ck.  That’s okay!  Emotions are weird.  You have my permission to have them.  Protip: You don’t need my permission to have them.

Suggest: While I’m not in a position to resolve the situation for you, I am in a position to provide resources , support, and brainstorming!  Let’s try to come up with some ways to make these feelings more manageable together! “Have you considered…[coping strategy]?”  “Have you eaten today?” “Is deep breathing something you find helpful?”  “Is talking directly about your feelings helpful, or would a distraction be more helpful right now?”  “I can see if we have some resources available for temporary rent assistance — is that something you want to investigate?”  “When you’ve felt this way in the past, what has been helpful?” “I know you love writing — have you tried writing down everything you feel?”  and the most important question ever, “Is there something specific that I can do that would help you right now?”

Have you ever let your space get so cluttered and out of control you don’t even know where to begin?  Have you ever gotten yourself in so much trouble that it feels like no amount of effort could ever dig you out?  Yeah.  Me, too.  Sometimes, we need to be reminded that no single action can fix All the Things; but inaction is a surefire way to fix None of the Things, and likely, feel like crap while you’re at it.  We eat a whale one bite at a time, and sometimes, even small improvements can help us feel empowered for that Next Bite.  YOU CAN DO THIS.

So, to bring it back around: Today, driving a manual is like middle school in that yeah it is total balls a rich learning experience because you’re screwing up a lot.  While it feels like the consequences are earth-shattering serious, they’re actually fairly minor — you know, like most of seventh grade for the bookish among us.  Also, the suck ends (thank Cthulhu).  You hit your growth spurt, salvage some poise and grace, develop a sense of humor, stop taking yourself so seriously, and likely end up valedictorian of your post-secondary scholastic endeavors, because seriously, prom queen who needs it.  Nerd Lyfe For Prez.

Driving a manual is still like middle school, in that it sucks for a while and then it doesn’t anymore. Plus some That’s Not Helpful.

Driving a manual is a lot like middle school in that I can’t avoid it, and I’m convinced I suck.

Car buying happened, and I’m now the possessor of a 1997 (we prefer the term ‘vintage’ to ‘beater’) Subaru Legacy, which is awesome!

It’s a station wagon, so hauling crap is less of a thing than my sports car hatchback was! AWD?  That’s a thing adults love, right?  It’s white and boxy, I’m pale and foxy.  We were pretty much born to be together.  And: the price was right, homies.  $2500 for a working, well-maintained, low-ish mileage vehicle.  Bam.

Except.

It’s a manual transmission, and I haven’t touched a clutch in thirteen years.  And I wasn’t great at it, back then either.

 

So I’m about … oh five minutes?  From leaving the office right now, to drive to Philadelphia, during rush hour, in my manual, on stick shift: Day two.

Those are not hives, I’m just … warm and itchy.

I have been instructed to cultivate an obstinate indifference toward the aggravation of other drivers, and maybe not be so heavy on the gas pedal when I’m shifting into first.

 

I refuse to die or give up.  I am too pretty to die, and too tenacious to give up.  Bam.  Gonna do it.

 

Probably.

Driving a manual is a lot like middle school in that I can’t avoid it, and I’m convinced I suck.

Changing Direction, Changing Trajectory

This weekend involved far less beating nerds with sticks than planned.

It also involved me making a pretty huge decision: I’m going to change careers.  Yes, Again.

It’s going to take some time and a lot of work, and some serious (permanent) trade-offs and (temporary) sacrifices; but after some initial foot stomping and little miss no-no behavior (what.  Change makes me four years old) at dinner with Tomthulhu and Tim, and an email with Felicity, my mind is pretty firmly made.  As Tomthulhu returns to school for his degree in History with the goal of eventually being certified to teach, I’m going to be looking at my options to join him as a teacher, though likely of different subjects and in different kinds of schools.  My heart lives in classrooms.  I need to be honest with myself about that, even if it feels like Starting Over Oh My God I Need to Call Amanda.

First, though, I have to purchase a car.  My Saab sh*t the bed in the middle of the turnpike this weekend on the way to LARP, and I’ve had to do a lot of adulting in the meantime.  As of this afternoon, I’m approved for a small loan through my credit union — someone remind me to do a bank vs. credit union adulthood life lesson post at some point! and have a few appointments tonight in Cecil County and the surrounding region to look at some used cars.  I’m nervous, because I’m always a little uncertain when it comes to big financial choices.  Tomthulhu said he’d go with me so that I can feel a little braver.  Adam has sent me his ‘driving stick: a primer’ email (it has been straight up years since I’ve touched a clutch), and I’m as ready as I’m going to be, I think.  Whatever.  I am a reasonably intelligent and coordinated cookie.  I got this?  Probs.

There are things about transitioning to be a teacher that feel risky.  I know I will be bone tired, a lot of the time.  I energy dump in a big way when I am in educator mode, and I’m probably going to have to really invest in making time to recharge.  I will almost certainly take an initial pay-cut.  That’s pretty scary, given that I have a hard time making ends meet a lot of months.  A second or summer job will probably need to be a reality for both Tomthulhu and I for a while.  Given that we have a goal of owning a home in Philadelphia (and converting a floor of it to an apartment for rental income — I will get to learn about PLUMBING and ELECTRICAL WIRES look out, world) within the next five years or so, getting better at hiding money from ourselves savings is a pretty big priority (though, thank heavens for the GI Bill).

I will also have to give up burlesque performance entirely and permanently.

It’s a shame, sort of.  I’m good at it.  But honestly, even before my relationship with G and the rest of my troupe was over?  My interest was flagging.  Some of it was exhaustion.  I was developing up to 3 new acts every three weeks, because other troupe members were stagnating or floundering, or just, failing to meet deadlines and goals they set for themselves.  That included costumes, make-up, wigs, choreography, obsessing about choreography, rehearsals, trouble-shooting, and promoting.  On top of all that, I’m pretty f*cking disillusioned with the preachy-preachy “creating a consent positive culture with burlesque” baloney they all spew, because hey look whose picture is still up on that website, despite six weeks of written attempts to have it removed.  You know, like I revoked consent about my body, or something.  I could go on (and on, and on) about hypocrisy and disappointment, but you know, why.

As theater season approached, my goals were changing. I was bored.  The troupe was going nowhere I wanted to be (a whole season of sexualizing children’s programming and media — um hooray?), and doing the bare minimum to keep the show afloat and interesting.  It became clear to me that there was a divide between my values (expression, passion, development, challenge) and the values of my fellows (attention, titillation, partner-seeking, acceptance/validation). Their reasons for doing burlesque were fine reasons — they just weren’t my reasons.  Around my birthday, I was already considering leaving.  As things went further and further south, my heart kept telling me “You should go.”  I kept not listening.

I want to make my body do challenging things.   I want it to be sore.  I want to do handstands and pull-ups, I want to do seriously challenging, seriously beautiful pole work.  I want to make some significant changes to my strength, flexibility, and quality of movement.  These are things that I can master on my own (hopefully by next year, in our home).  Teaching is performance (among other things), and I know I will get what I get from performing — good, and difficult — from my work in the classroom.  Making my body do awesome things can transition from being a public activity to a private passion.  Instead of dance being a drain on my energy, it can generate it.  The money I once spent on costumes could be spent on ballet workshops, if I wanted.  Or you know, groceries.  So, while I’m sad to leave burlesque behind, I think I will be replacing it with things that make my life better overall.

Things like: Sharing my passion for books; encouraging kids to invest themselves in communicating clearly, mindfully, and well; being a cheerleader and advocate for people who need those things; helping parents learn to better support their kids as they are, rather than as they wish them to be; closing the achievement gap; and a lot of other things, some frustrating, that go along with being an educator.

For now, one thing at a time, though.  I have a workday to get through, and a car to maybe buy and master driving.  I have a Monster to hug and kiss, and some Ikea shelves to assemble.  I have nails to paint and some emails to write, and some research to do.  We eat a whale one bite at a time.  I can do this.  I can do this.  I can do this.

Changing Direction, Changing Trajectory

A final-fugal evening with thunderstorms and Duke Ellington

I hate endings. Ok, let’s revisit that completely unexamined piece of trite crap I just said. When I find some Thing that strikes particular notes in my brain or heart, I have a hard time letting that experience end.  My Beloved Gentleman often jokes about it, specifically with regard to certain serial or episodic media.  It is also an issue for me with books.  Often, very particular books.  I have read American Gods seven times.  The Night Circus, three.  I have read the complete works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ten times start to finish, since I turned eight (this may have actually been the origin of my Dark and Secret Final-fugal Nature).  I don’t think I have ever actually stopped reading or listening to Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  His Dark Materials, in its entirety: five times.  I believe I have read Ada, or Ardor three or four times.  I will pick up House of Leaves, open it randomly, and read it to the end at least once annually. Often, I will get to the last chapter, or something approaching the last chapter (typically within a half an inch) and slow my typically ravenous pace considerably.  I will take breaks. Make tea.  Have a sudden urge to do the dishes.  The Dishes.  Me.  I will magically decide I want to re-read (or in the case of the Audible full-cast rendition of Dracula, re-hear) that Wonderful Bit from the Beginning, again.  I will start another book.  In all likelihood, this drives the people who love me crazy, except for probably my brother who lovingly tolerates many of my more idiosyncratic personality traits with bemusement and patience, possibly because he has seen the alternative to my strange but at least somewhat healthy coping mechanisms.

Familiar gorgeous stories populated by people, creatures, and places I love are my version of Kraft macaroni & cheese ™. Protip: If I have had a totally shite day, a fight with my mom, or am otherwise depleted or depressed, try putting on Constantine, or Titus Andronicus (the one with Jessica Lange and Anthony Hopkins), or some Star Trek: The Next Generation.  I will go from a fussy, volatile mess to a quiet and comfy, probably sniffly but docile bunny rabbit.  Read to me from the Just-so Stories, or Silas Marner.  There’s something about a wonderful, repeatable experience — one I can practically recite, but don’t need to — that takes the roar out of even my most selfish squalls.  Any resistance to things like Bedtime but Not Sleepy, Adulthood is Hard, People are Jerks, Tomorrow is Only Tuesday What the Crap is That, Car Repairs are Non-Optional, or That Went Poorly and Now I’m Upset about It malaise will likely fade from Hurricane Force Winds to a Perhaps Slight Breeze pretty quickly.

From now on, The Rathbones is likely to be one of these stories that I revisit in an alarming endearing ritualistic fashion.  I finished it at the zenith of last night’s thunderstorm, despite every final-fugal molecule in my body stating that, no, actually right now would be a great time to do laundry, eat food, do dishes, put dishes away, sweep the living room floor, or do basically anything that wasn’t finish this glorious story because oh my god then it will be over and I can never again have the experience of reading it for the first time why is life so unfair augh.  The ending was unsurprising — you could see it in the distance, just as Mercy Rathbone could see all the way out to the horizon.  But despite it ending the way I knew it would, all along, the mysteries solved and journey taken in between the beginning and the end felt absolutely singular.

A final-fugal evening with thunderstorms and Duke Ellington