Monday, September 24, 2012

Why Can't I Honestly Say That I Want To Teach?

I don't know when I'm going to feel clear about this teaching thing, though it seems like what had been an insoluble knot of vague conundrums is beginning to break into more distinct forms.

I like, even need, to have a class to teach to feel happy, more than any other activity or job, because I get to share what I'm uniquely interested in, which encourages me to develop it more, and because I have an enthusiasm for giving to others valuable and important perspectives that I hear more and more often are appreciated and well-received.

And yet, I still don't believe it. I still doubt and am extremely sensitive to how my skills and insights are received, to the slightest perceived drop in interest or perceived frown of disapproval. I still assume guilt or shame or feel frustration about how I share what I learn and what I see. Am I too aggressive, rigid, or extreme? Do I want to be liked too many different kinds of people? Am I still too angry for polite company and successful interviews, do I feel like I disregard others' perspectives or sensitivities more than I wish to? How about my own?

The enthusiasm I can often deliver in a lecture comes with doubt that feels healthy to some extent and, in another form, clearly detrimental. Humility and honesty, good - overly critical view of myself and others, bad. I'm pretty sure by now that part of that is just how I do things - how I learn by experimenting with different attitudes, different approaches, different ideas, some of which are more acceptable and appreciated by certain groups than by others. I'm beginning to catch myself when I'm being overly perfectionist and idealistic about this issue, but I still really don't like it when people toss the whole thing aside and tell me not to worry about how I do. It feels too much like how I've seen some others in my life handle things, without enough depth or attention to detail to do something well enough to get it done and enjoy it at the same time. I feel like I still have some lessons to learn in humility and care-fulness myself. But I shouldn't try to solve that by being hard on myself, should I now? It doesn't work. Just know that when I am being critical or crazily focused about something, it has always been with a very good and innocent intention that suffers from poor training and years of frustrations.

I believe deeply (while not being entirely convinced, at the same time) that I am holding back a lot of frustrated feelings, which clearly detract from my interactions with others - students, administrative folks, friends...or at least make my own being stressed, anxious, and lonely. The issue - how I learn how to handle myself more skillfully so that I have the opportunities to teach and socialize that I say that I want, while also being more honest about how I feel so that I can express myself more authentically, more confidently, more fully. It's like working on two things at opposite ends of a spectrum: being more honest, less afraid, more trusting of a deeper, internal process, while also trying to be more skillfully diplomatic and emotionally aware in my interactions with others.

It's hard to teach, interview, or prepare a course proposal, let alone wait to hear the outcome, while all this is going off in one's head. While there is the issue of being unpleasantly surprised by negative emotions I wasn't aware of when sitting alone at my computer assembling these nice slides and handouts, thinking how awesome it's going to be, of not knowing how to handle them, find a suitable outlet, a positive way to express them, I'm starting to feel more satisfied with my delivery and less driven to make it perfect. That is a good thing. Yes, I'm practically comfortable with that! And getting better with the proposals, that is, when I get around to them, I mean, but maybe it needs to take its time to work through. When the anxiety and tension builds over getting a class to teach, those negative emotions and doubt and shame are much more likely to come settle around me.

So, it's not the kind of basic, surface thing that bothers me as much anymore, though I have to keep at it, of course. It's just that I have this sense of not being as connected or as truly conscientious as the teachers I deeply admire - those for whom teaching is a calling and an attitude, and not just a job they grumblingly accept. I don't know if I'll ever feel that I can comfortably own the role of "teacher," no matter how much skill and panache I develop as a researcher or lecturer. Sometimes I even think I'm just stuck in my parent's unfilled dreams, but then I look at my natal chart and see that, no, there is definitely reasons for you to want to teach. And I fantasize that if someone were to believe in me and my abilities, give me a break I truly needed and was ready for, that I would become open to hearing criticism that would help me become the really good teacher that I think I want to be in life. That I would believe I could do it. Believe in myself. I suppose there is also an issue about accepting the imperfect, less idealistic, but more practical routine of life and not getting so caught up in these ambitions and aspirations, so that I could have more real world successes. In the meantime, there is still that sense of being not yet satisfied with something I need to "get" about teaching, and about myself, while already going beyond the requirements and expectations of the people I teach or teach for.
How is this resolved?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Witnessing the Inner Voice

Got into another fight with my dad over the gardens at the house. I tried to find a way to address the feeling that my wishes were being given a back seat to the other person's, the one who is always more important, but I just couldn't connect with him and it turned into another awkward, slow-motion slugfest. But it didn't get out of control. And then we talked about other things. And that conversation too, was, like most, a ponderous, arguing slog, where every question was responded to with a long recitation of every fact known about a situation, most of which I've heard before multiple times (okay, I should lay off - my analyst gets the same from me some days). Every suggestion was met with dismissals or problems. Simple desires for self-expression were taken and turned into things presented for judgement as to their worth, and that, I decided, was the most tiring aspect of the whole process

Anyway, some time after the fighting was pretty much over, he dropped this story about the woman he bought the house from in 1965, and what happened when she came back to visit. (This woman had extensive rose gardens and many other plants - you can still see the indentations where the beds crossed the lawns. When I consolidated the one bed that was left, I took especial care to create a level area for seeding, and when the grass is green and healthy, you can't tell it wasn't always part of the lawn.) "You killed my baby!" she cried when she walked around the back of the house (he imitates an excited voice and there's the incredulous surprise at someone talking like this to HIM - see grand trine).

It turns out that he had cut one of her vines down from the back porch trellis because he thought it was dead, but it actually just hadn't leafed out yet. He said he didn't remember what it was, and even though I told him twice, he didn't hear me say that it was probably a clematis - that's what I think was on the other side of the old iron trellis that supported the canopy over the back door. It was there when I was very young, and I remember peering at the purple flowers and wondering what this plant was. And somehow, I also knew, by the way my mom talked about it, that it was left here by someone and was for some reason, special or different. Now perhaps I know what that was about. You see, this is how our family history is worked out - the stories about events that I imagine an ideal family would use to build their daily interactions around, the stories they fashion into the very structure of the relationships between them - in our family, they come out forty years later as an unintended side comment that is stuck somewhere or discarded like yet another piece of scrap paper.

He is still defensive about Daisy's reaction (also the first time I heard her name mentioned, though he used it familiarly, as if he were talking about something that happened yesterday). (There were daisies that grew next to the clematis, and I did the "she loves me, she loves me not" thing once or twice when I grew a little older. There were a lot of those petal things on a daisy, even back in the seventies.) The defensiveness is one of his characteristic traits, and its a kind of anxious demanding defensiveness - "I didn't know and so I can't be blamed" and there's a background of  "I can do whatever I want, anyway."  Which is his Uranus in Taurus. Not that I ever do anything like that - well, I do temper it with more awareness than I used to.

I think I'm getting a good bead on the astrological configurations in his chart, and how they show up in his personality, which helps me understand things more objectively, as fraught with danger as such an attempt might be, but that isn't legitimate to him, and I usually don't help my own case if I try talking about it, so I really can't explore it WITH him, which would make me feel like I was making a connection, if I could do it fairly. He's the one with the PhD in psychology and it seems like only he gets to know what goes on in the psyche. No, really. It gets this childish and would be cute if he weren't so insistent that his version be right. People that you are close to can be very hard to interact with on a higher than personal level. Many times I yearned achingly to be part of a family with clean, supportive discussions and stimulating exchanges of ideas about life or friendly, ideal relationships between parents and their children that functioned on rational and emotional levels. It would seem so natural, so freeing, I fantasized. And every once in a while we would get a visitor that would stir the stagnant air of our collective mind before we scurried back to our private corners to work out our frustrations, carry out our missions, alone, in loud silence. Yet, this is the family I come from for a reason, and it wouldn't work to have had it another way. It works to stay connected with this one, as crazy as that sounds. Until I am ready to do it differently. 

There was a college friend I talked to a lot during my last year there, and the one after, a time when I was experiencing some intense anxiety without any apparent source (other than the stresses of graduating with the same crazy feelings that kept me awake in high school years and a lost love or two, plus anxious, puzzling letters and phone calls from family). Much of my own emotions were kept at a distance then. She had a similar problem with her father - not being able to talk about her serious issues - which was very important to her, and I was probably as stiff and impatient as my father is today as I stood there while she talked, having no clue as to what to do, but being more than a little scared about her apparent self-knowledge and wondering if I should know something about myself in this way, too - and talk about it. Or maybe I should just avoid it altogether and work harder to make things alright in the outer world - even harder. Moon at the door to the eighth in Virgo. 

So, like I was saying, defending himself often is the most notable reaction he has to other people's upsets. "I didn't know, so you can't blame me," because that is very scary for some reason, and has gotten him out of being truly responsible rather than just acting responsible for everything and everyone so they'll be in control. Mars T-squared to Pluto and Mercury on the vertical axis. Sounds like I'm playing Clue or Battleship. I think I'm starting to unravel the craziness here. And I hope this sounds plausible to others. Because it bothered me for a long long time but I felt compelled to support his version because...well, he had a PhD, and "he works hard," as my mother would say, trying to keep the peace (Libra Moon in a family of Virgo Moons), and "He's a very decent man, always ready to help other people." "Yeah," I would say, sullenly - or angrily, depending on my mood. "But he just thinks life is a G-rated happy movie, and it drives me nuts." Sun combust Ceres conjunct Jupiter, part of a grand trine. Actually, me words were, "He lives in the era of gosh-shucky-darns." I was a little harsh. Still can get that way. I attribute it to asteroid Lilith malfunctioning in Cancer, opposite my Sun and semi-square my Virgo Moon (over-reactions). My Moon is also coming into opposition to Saturn, but Saturn is coming into opposition to Uranus and Pluto. One balancing act isn't enough.

Getting a real sense of the astrology, one that feels right...stable and sound...helps put all these disorderly emotional thoughts into some kind of functioning system. It's a way to view things from beyond the pale of whatever you're feeling at the moment, and know that you're building awareness rather than continually trying to make sense of the same meaningless routine. Getting it right by trying it out over and over again - and it does really improve - builds a sense of learning something important, a useful skill being mastered a bit at a time.

He cut the clematis down because he though it was dead (death and vines are both Scorpio things, so this has some symbolic significance; he has Pluto on the MC and Black Moon and asteroid Lilith in Scorpio). It was a late leafer, like the Crepe Myrtle I planted (mostly by coincidence) the day they told me my Aunt Bea had passed away. I thought maybe that might be dead, too, when I looked at it the next spring - was I connecting with something from back then? Is the story about him killing the clematis still floating around the property, about to be released finally, after forty-some years? I hear my father's criticism and dismissal even as I think it. Crazy thought. Perhaps. And perhaps not. Maybe he really isn't the expert. But he sure makes you feel like you should think him so. That Mars-Pluto square again, and, I think, the Chiron T-square in Gemini to a Pisces Saturn - Virgo Neptune opposition. Needing to appear to have a strong, rational mind, but wrestling with a structure demanding perfection while being completely and unknowably vague. Hmm. Open to spiritual ideas and contemplating religious beliefs and political ideologies rationally and fairly, on the positive side. I think I overheard a neighbor comment about the myrtle, too. Well, I didn't cut it down, and it eventually leafed out. Slow down, observe carefully, wait for the truth to reveal itself to you. I value that in me. That's my Venus retrograde.

And I still worried compulsively about the crepe myrtle every spring - will someone else think it's dead and cut it down? Now I know of at least one person who did such a thing, to a vine with beautiful flowers. Bad feeling. I've done similar things, even when I know what I might lose. The lure of the dangerous risk. The power of loss so easy to make real, wanting to teach you something. The thrill of powerlessness over it. I am learning to discipline it by not denying its allure.

Late in leafing out, and he's impatient. I'm a late bloomer. That impatience led to a wrecked car a couple months ago. I was careful but wanted to get all the bins in and the last one pinned my arm against the wheel when it slid off the one I had to set it on. I had been worried that others were doing too much at the house that had been my home for four years and so I pushed myself to go against my better judgment, which itself was challenging my father's anxiety to get things moved out. I also let myself wander rather than stop and plan the route ahead of time, and ended up on the back road that wound and curved, which caused the bin to slip (for once, not my speed or carelessness), so there are two things I can do better next time. And many things I did right, which is probably why I wasn't hurt and, by the way, not that it's important, still got the things into storage by the end of the day. It was a week to recover momentum. My mother fell on the same day and is still in skilled nursing, and may be for the future. This was a good lesson. It gave me a more sober perspective, which I felt again, very strongly, when I drove past a serious accident last month. It gave me a much deeper conviction to give my inner voice a bigger seat at the decision making table.

He wasn't going to stop moving forward with the sale of the house even then - I think he's kind of on auto-momentum - until my sister suggested he wait a bit. I have to talk about this stuff. We've kept things quiet to calm others for too long, and it isn't healthy or nice. And I still feel a little bad. 

On the phone with him, I wondered aloud about the ghosts of stories and plants. I'm not very good at making these things sound convincing, and he doesn't help make you feel like you can give voice to it. I wondered, perhaps it was baiting him a bit, but I need to bring this stuff out in the open for my own good, when I can, I reason. I wondered whether it could be possible that that story about the clematis vine is still playing out today. Was playing out unconsciously for who knows how long. I got confused as I started trying to explain it, because I remembered a conversation between my sister, Ed, and I about how things don't get said in the family and that divided my attention. "Well, I...processed all those there's no residual unconscious things left functioning today" he whipped off dismissively. Where did he get those words to use so handily - geez, maybe he actually does have a PhD and is keeping up with the new language?! Yeah, processed in a whisper chipper, I wished I had thought of to say, but by that point, I wasn't going to start a second war of words, and he wasn't sounding very open to second opinions. The word "process" came off with a tinge of disdain, not unlike my own careless bantering about of language to kill time or to scramble for a way to keep someone else at bay when there was too much going on. And that is usually what these conversations feel like. But at that moment, I was focusing on the feeling that my story wasn't anything but ridiculous. Sigh. Its so easy to get angry about this but it is only head anger and it just hurts me, makes me all tight and frustrated. Yet, its harder to believe you're not crazy in pondering these possibilities, as half-formed as they may be. If all my neighbors and people I talk to could take something like this and say, "of course, that is something like how it is, it is true without a second thought, that is how reality works," there would still be a brake on it in my mind because he dismissed it. 

So, I sat down to write a note to a relative who sympathizes, and it turned into a spilling out of about four or five pages of memoir material in a rough stream of consciousness, so I saved that for future material, and the next letter turned into this blog. In the first, there were all the things about him that would make me lie awake thinking I was crazy, something I did regularly since I was a teenager. They spilled out on the page quickly, but calmly, rationally, like a reporter's assemblage of notes, like I was finishing up with them, linking a thought or a puzzling memory from one part of my life to one from another, putting in the emotions, not holding back nor dramatizing besides what was there. Thoughts I had been holding onto for years, just getting finished, making a bit of clear space in my emotional self. Following them into the dark, dusty corners, for once not believing it was the way to do it to keep them in the dark, an obligation, a duty. I can see these things now and report them straight up, again, not without emotion or a certain subjective viewpoint, but without letting that certain kind of head anger overtake the recording and the reporting of facts. The childish anger. This time I'm deciding to act childishly, putting down all the thoughts, the emotions, the things that were just there, all equal parts of the experience, each given equal measure. None insisting on one of us still having to be right or wrong. It is hard to do. Begin defending or justifying myself too strongly, and he has won, my inner voice is silenced, angry and inaccurate. A simple witnessing works, and from someone or somewhere during that process, I got an epiphany - I really don't need to control what his opinions are about my attitudes and the things I do. That's what makes me nuts. Makes me rant. Makes me wrap myself in knots and argue hurtfully and ineffectively. I mean, I don't defend myself well, and he's very good at making you think he's right and you're an amateur. That therapist said we both have that attitude. Capricorn Mercury, I said. Maybe a Capricorn Sun trine Uranus, too. I don't apologize for it or want to fix it. It's just good to know when it's getting in the way of seeing something important. So, I just keep writing and ranting until I find that balance, until I find the right attitude, the one that says let go, let him have his opinions and don't sugar-coat or dramatize your reactions to them - just let them stand as a fact, as a thing that happened, that was said, something that doesn't require anyone to make a decision about who is right and who is wrong, but acknowledge your feelings about them, notice them, record them, witness them. Then something is released, a kind of healing energy is perhaps set a little more firmly in place.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Why I've been rather quiet the last week

On Saturday Feb 25, I was in my car, transporting plastic bins full of things from the house to a storage unit near West Chester, which I had rented earlier in the week. Everyone in my family has been working to get the house ready to put up for sale as soon as possible this month, and because I moved into a very small, affordable - and also fantastic - apartment, storage has become a necessary, but stress-inducing, step in the process.

I was experiencing a lot of ambivalence about doing anything (and also nothing) that day. I felt disheveled and jittery as I went down the stairs of my apartment's deck to the car sometime in the mid morning, wishing I could sleep, or at least rest, so that I could relax some of the knotted muscles and racing thoughts that pervaded my body and mind. I've been keeping things relatively balanced lately, but on this particular day I felt on the edge, exhausted from twice driving to New Hope the previous weekend for lectures at Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve, where I volunteer, and from a busy Monday followed by my usual four afternoons of work, which involves cleaning out coolers, pricing packages, packing up orders, stocking shelves, creating produce displays, and breaking down cardboard boxes. In fact, I was pretty much freaking out about how tense my body felt and when I was going to find the time to get it back into a more relaxed state. The previous evening I had called a friend who gives massages to set up an appointment, as I had enough money at the end of the month to afford one. I felt like I was barely keeping things in control.

One of the compromises I made to take care of myself was to not rent a truck and carry all the boxes for storage out of the house and then into the unit that day, but to merely pack my car and begin the process of filling the storage unit that way. I was able to load all of the plastic bins that I had grouped together in the master bedroom, though I had to set one last bin on top of another in the passenger seat to get them all to fit, which I did, knowing that it was a little risky, but making sure that the bottom bin was squarely set on the seat and that the top bin was set firmly onto the recessed lid of the lower bin.

The bins were packed with childhood belongings, such as matchbox cars, letters, drawings, toys, and stuffed animals, as well as things from more recently that I hadn't a place for in my new digs. I headed toward the storage unit by a roundabout route (another manifestation of my ambivalence perhaps), ending up on Goshen Road, which is a beautiful, winding country road that passes estates and farms that lie between the Main Line and West Chester. Just beyond a curving hilltop past Delchester Road, the clear Sterlite bin with folding white lid halves slid off the lid of the bin below it and lodged against my right arm. Shit, I thought, with alarm, this is not good, but I'll shove it back and steer the car back into the curve ahead of me. SHIT, I thought, when the bin would not slide back onto the other, and instead, was keeping my arm from turning the wheel. I don't remember if I got around to putting my foot on the brakes after dealing with the surprising fact that I could neither turn the wheel nor shove the bin out of my way, or if my leg, too, way somehow impeded by the bin. I gave it one more effort, then looked up and concluded, Well, that utility pole is going to stop me and there's nothing I can do about it.

And it did, very quickly. But I was unhurt. It felt like I imagine a hockey player would feel, when he stops quickly at the boards. Both airbags went off, and I don't know whether my head hit the one on the steering wheel or not, but I was relieved to find out that it wasn't as bad as some people had told me. The cloth was strong and soft and if I did hit it, I didn't notice, and there were no bruises or broken appendages from the air bag deploying. The car, on the other hand, was a mess.

The first thing I noticed was thick, white smoke coming in through the vents and then, that the car was still running. I remembered going to a movie or reading a newspaper article about a race car driver who was in an accident and told the person who came to help to turn the key off because he didn't want to die. I turned the key and the car shut off, but for some reason, it wouldn't come out of the slot. The tow truck driver apparently succeeded at that, because it was on the floorboards when we arrived at the junk lot to empty out the car an hour or so later.

I got out of the car, moved around, and felt no aches. Because I would really be upset with myself if I took a chance of the things I had been working for so long to organize, of burning up in a car that might catch fire, I began unloading them and setting them on the side of the road by a driveway. Sorting and organizing things is one of my routine behaviors that I do to calm myself. I guess it served me well this time. I patiently found places to set the things while a retired gentleman, who was the first to pull up behind me, with his wife in the passenger seat, called the police.

I had not gone back to get my cell phone when I left my apartment in my car, without it, that morning. I have some old recalcitrant attitude about being at the beck and call of a phone all the time, which I was still working on getting over, and am being more diligent about now. I was very grateful that I had gone back to get my homemade knit hat, though, as I waited later in the cold wind for a ride.

At some point, I went over to look at the pole. There was a hole about two and a half feet deep and a foot wide on the side opposite where the car had hit it and pushed it through the soft, thawing ground. I was probably driving about thirty or thirty-five, the limit for that road, and generally being as mindful as I could, when I lost the ability to turn the wheel. The pole was badly splintered and occasionally made alarming creaking, splitting, and groaning noises that sent me running but hadn't concerned the gentleman on the phone. The police later said the wires could hold a pole up, no problem, they were that strong. I once saw a tree resting on wires, so I guess they are right. Still, I worked all the more diligently to remove (and keep organized) the bundles of things that had been in the now-splintered plastic bins in the passenger seat. I actually had to remove them to get into the glove box to retrieve my documents for the officers. One of them called my sister, who had also been moving things out of the house that day with her fiance, Ed, and they came to pick me up. It was the only number I remembered, and I knew they would be home. There were breaks in the bins in the back seat, and trunk. I had a collection of reusable shopping bags in the trunk, so we used those to put things in for the time being. There are still a few in the storage unit. As you might guess (or should), I am operating with a different attitude about getting all these things done now, being more reluctant to push myself beyond what I feel okay about doing.

When my ride arrived, I waved them off the road into a driveway right away. My sister got out and gave me a firm hug and started crying. My body also shook with the tensions it had been holding in while I worked to keep things together and safe. One of the things I thought at first after crashing, and I didn't have anyone to talk to, was, Well, there, now - doesn't that just perfectly get across how much I want help with all these things I'm supposed to be doing. Not that I tried to crash a car to make that point, because that would have put me at risk of being hurt and I wouldn't have been able to do that, but all of it came bubbling up from just below the surface, as I had been doing the best I thought I could to balance responsibilities to others with responsibilities to myself, which is always a little harder to justify until something like this happens.

I got my first car when I was twenty-two, and I've been in more than a few mild and not-so-mild fender benders, and there is an odd history of car crashes in my dad's family, which I am just learning about, but totaling a car was not something I had ever done before. In fact, up until this past year, when rebellious Uranus moved into rambunctious Aries, I had five and a half years of clean driving. Since then, I have been rammed once by a new driver pulling out of an intersection, I backed gently into someone's door from my driveway, I've been warned twice about driving a little fast, and I narrowly missed a collision when I myself was pulling out of an intersection. I know I have to watch out for these things, and that there is a chance they will happen when I am trying to do too much at once or do things I don't want to do. It has become a major focus of my life to watch out for the subtle signs that I am getting myself into potential trouble, and even with the events of the last year adding to that challenge, I think I'm still getting better at it. Given that I was unhurt, and had been conscious (though not enough so) of safety, I tend to believe that I'm learning what I need to, though I am wanting to drive less and remain more cautious than I have been. Some people have problems with cars, and I think I might be one of those some time yet into the future. Better to accept it and work with it than keep denying it because it doesn't fit someone's image of what they want you to be. Sometimes making everything come to a stop is a good thing. I just don't want to have to be in a car crash to feel grounded.

My sister, and Ed, and I got everything from the car into the storage unit by the end of the day, then, because I just admitted to rather not wanting to spend the evening by myself, we went to a diner a few blocks from my apartment. Despite the dramatic events, all of us got everything we planned to do that weekend in. Rushing and panicking doesn't help, I have learned, but quiet, persistent, patient effort will finish what needs to be finished, in time, and that attitude is the star I'm steering my ship by.

That evening, or maybe it was the following morning, my sister talked to my father and told him about the events of Saturday, and he relayed to her that our mother, who has Alzheimer's, had, that same day, fallen and received a hairline crack on her pelvis while they were walking out of a Target in Lancaster. She is being taken good care of in a skilled nursing facility at a retirement community near the one in which our parents live. I think how much her life is changing. While much of her daily routine was for a long time spent working by herself in the home, now she is usually in groups of people involved in some kind of activity or care. For the first time since she was a child, she eats heartily, though the caregivers say this will reverse itself later and she will lose the weight she has gained recently.

My father, at the advice of my sister, postponed the meeting with the realtor for ten days, but he remains anxious to sell the house. I have withdrawn from most any involvement with the house or my father's plans for it, because I do not feel it is emotionally safe, though I will spend some time cleaning up the yard and removing the things of mine that remain there rather than fighting with him over what should be done when. It is so trivial. But also a learning experience.

My week since the accident was spent simply getting back to normal and climbing steadily back out of the depression that set in while I focused on taking care of myself. First, I tried to think of ways to get where I needed to, wondering if I could get along without a car, and then, starting Sunday (the 26th), talking to insurance agents, getting a rental car, trolley tokens, and, finally, when I felt ready, researching cars on the internet, all of which went pretty darn well. I purchased a used Civic yesterday from a small, private dealer in New Jersey with the money from the insurance company. My thinking is that it is a car that can serve me for the next two and a half years, maybe more, if I am vigilant, though I'm also seeing how much of my life I can manage without a car in case that should prove necessary, given the costs that might be involved. I take the trolley to work now - it's a rather pleasant ride and I enjoy reading a sci fi book instead of waiting for traffic lights. I am actually sleeping better these days, too, though I still could use more, and I've taken another load of things out from the house to storage without incident. As for knitting, I have started on the pair of mittens that I have been trying to get right for a couple years now, and if I need help with something, I may come by to the group I've been knitting with on Monday nights, but for now, it really feels like the right time to make some changes, which includes reducing the number of things I am committed to getting to and shifting into or focusing on the interests that really reflect who I am becoming and what I most need to learn.