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Diary Rings

Gift from Hil Part 2 - 2014-12-30
A Gift from Hil - 2014-12-28
There was A LOT of turkey. - 2014-12-04
Can we just jump to January please? - 2014-11-14
A (don't kick the) Bucket List - 2014-10-28

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6:27 p.m. - 2014-04-19
The rock inside the smush.

The funeral was Wednesday. The deacon came and prayed. BIL and I were the only ones who knew the proper responses. Catholicism. It never really leaves us even when we've left it. BIL made an impromptu eulogy. Then Mick spoke. Then I did. We cried a lot and laughed a little. Then our little procession went to the veteran's cemetery. The service there was very brief but just right. An Air Force honor guard folded the flag with solemn precision and gave it to Mick at MIL's request. Even the gravediggers in their muddy padded work clothes and neon safety vests doffed their caps and stood with their hands on their hearts during Taps. The cemetery is still quite new, but very pretty. Or will be when the grass covers the bare naked gridded plots and the landscaping fills in.

Everyone came back here to our house as was decided beforehand. Tuesday Wolf and I cleaned the downstairs and rearranged the living and dining room furniture so everybody would have a seat and someplace to put a plate and their coffee cup. We also made food. Deli platters and salads and a shrimp ring and muffins and cake. I bought the cakes and the shrimp ring readymade and sometime last week got a 12-cup Mr Coffee because my wee 2-cup one simply wouldn't serve, but Wolf and I made everything else. He also helped me set up the table with the beige 'good' dishes and he folded a mountain of napkins. While everyone was here my darling son whisked away dirty plates, refilled coffee cups and the platters on the table, and was very free with his hugs and kind words. No mother could be prouder or luckier.

FIL had a proper send-off. MIL had everyone around her that knew and truly loved FIL and no one was there only from politeness or custom or morbid curiosity. She nor Mick nor SIL had to put on company manners and make chitchat with awful boors or distant relatives who showed up expecting to be entertained and catered to. The funeral home did a wonderful job. FIL looked very much himself and though this is their business none of the employees came across as impatient or bored. To a one they were incredibly kind.

'Kind'- this is a word I've used a lot recently. It's important to me; my personal definition of kindness encompasses many shades of meaning. From the goofy yet strangely profound wisdom of Bill and Ted 'Be excellent to each other' to another pop culture trite but true thing of 'paying it forward'- kindness is a concept, a theory, a wish, a hope, and a way of life.

I have not always been kind. But since my teens I have tried like mad not to be deliberately unkind. When I was a kid I was a smartass and pretty mean. I took my power from and petty revenges out on those around me with a lethally nasty wit. I'd skewer people with my stiletto tongue and feel glad when I drew blood. A weakling's response, for certain.

Once with the ex and his clan of cretins who have ZERO empathy I saw how wrong it was to hit people where they're wounded or soft. Horrifying. The ex's family happily inflicts googolplexes of pain and enjoys it hugely. So I tacked to the wind and tried to not be a dick anymore. Doesn't mean I was kind though. In fact in most of my heinous shit went down when I felt little and powerless and thought I couldn't and didn't matter to anyone. There I was, poor LA the creep-mouse, so worthless and neglected, how could I possibly do anyone any harm? Uh huh. I might not have been deliberately trying to cause pain, but I dished plenty anyhow. Because I was selfish and honestly believed I was due things because I was so hurt. In my navel-grazing on my own damage and wounds I tromped right over others and never even knew it. Too busy feeling sorry for myself.

Crazy, huh? It's true though. When you have no self-esteem you're oblivious to others and their reactions your actions. No self-esteem = everything is about YOU.

Anyway, kindness. Mick said something the other day about how odd it is that I am so very, very kind and yet when I break with someone I'm DONE. Over. Finito. Nobody ever comes back for an encore. How could the nicest person he knows be so harsh?

I don't know exactly why, but Mick is right, I can be incredibly harsh when I've had enough of someone's shit. Because I am a screw-up myself I am patient with others and forgive a lot of slights and insults especially because most are unintentional. We're all the stars of our own shows and are often blinded by our personal spotlights so we don't see what's doing with the other people on stage and those in the wings and so we are often clueless in our neglect. But I also know I have a countdown clock, not in my top mind and I don't keep a list- 'suchandsuch hasn't returned X many phone calls' or 'that's the fourth time she's said something nasty about my hair', yet the countdown clock is there. And one day it reaches zero. I have had ENOUGH. No more. No more bullshit. No more smiling and tolerating bad behavior, no more trying to understand the other guy's side. BOOM! The door in my heart slams shut and I'm gone.

It's not a precise thing, I don't have a chart, though I do know I'll put up with a lot before that door slams shut. I also try to be proactive and speak up well before my limit is reached. I value my friendships and understand they need deliberate tending sometimes. So if it hurts my feelings that someone always forgets my birthday or she makes me do all the heavy lifting when it comes to getting together and making plans I say something and give it time to straighten out. Like I said, sometimes we are pretty blind and dopey when it comes to seeing ourselves as others see us. I know relationships are balancing acts and perhaps the fulcrum the relationship rests on isn't always in the middle. On the whole though what one puts in should be gotten back in satisfying measure. For instance if I have a pal who's an ardent snow skier I'm cool with not seeing much of her on winter weekends, yet I have the reasonable expectation that she'll swing back into my life and take up the slack once the warm weather is here. That one has three kids and all of them are in travel soccer leagues, well good luck trying to see my friend until December, but it's not too burdensome on her to assume she'll send me a text or two during the endless scrimmages and not just when she wants me to buy wrapping paper for the soccer league fundraiser either. Put in what and when you can and I'll hang in there. I know for my own self I don't send Christmas cards and for the weeks bracketing Mother's Day I am one sour crab-ass bitchypoo. Ask me to come to your Tupperware party in mid-May and I'll probably chew you a new exit hole. Those who love me get that and tread carefully.

So what does all this have to do with me and my countdown clock? Everything.

When I have been starved too much or hurt too much and the casual goodwill which greases the teeter-totter of friendship is finally all used up I opt out. And I never come back. There's no huge fight. No messy tearful brawl. I simply fold up my tent and get gone. I know this has shocked some people and they've had bitter things to say about me for it, but I don't care. When I love you I love you. All in. I am your friend until I absolutely cannot be your friend anymore. It takes a lot, a hella lot for me to give up and go, but once I'm gone I never ever backtrack. There's no point to it. Each person gets to dish me a specific amount of grief and pain and when that limit is reached I'm broken for good and will never voluntarily sign up for more.

Perhaps it's scarring from my backsy-forthsy childhood when parents (and homes and siblings and friends) came and went and I had no solid ground or anyone to count on. Perhaps it's my armadillo shell and how once I roll up to protect my tender bits it seems reasonable to stay curled up and invulnerable forever. I don't know. I am not a perfect person. I don't have a lock on the One Correct Way to Be. Even if there is such a thing, which I doubt. What I do know is that I'm not especially touchy and that it takes an extreme amount of provocation for my countdown clock to zero out.

I'll accept a fairly large amount of being taken for granted. I can and will put aside the pain of not being included again and ask how your trip to the city/visit to the historic home/holiday dinner/etc was without rancor and I am genuinely glad to hear the details. But there's just so many times I can be left out, a finite number of times when I was overlooked before the hurt eats into my well-being. When I am always an afterthought, it's painful. Despite my proximity to NYC I don't insist that my pals visiting the city include me in everything, but it would be nice to be asked to something once in a while. I'd gladly catch a train and meet up for lunch or a play or a spree at the Union Square Green Market. Or dim sum in Chinatown or a wander along the Highline. Hell, if asked to part of a gang I'd happily treat for tickets or a meal. Just to know I'm thought of at all would be so wonderful!

And when the invite goes the other way and I try to set up a dinner or an outing it would be nice if your acceptance wasn't contingent on getting a no from every other goddamn person in your life first. If for once being with me counted and was as much a priority as some 3rd cousin who might stop by maybe and being home on the slim chance they might visit wasn't more important than being the guest of honor at my house. If I ask you to come then I really, really, really want you to be here. If you're invited to my house it means I've planned a menu to include your favorite foods, chosen a time I knew fit into your comfort zone, vacuumed up all the cat hair so as not to aggravate your allergies, and bent myself into pretzels of welcome. Because I love you and want you to have a good time.

There you have it. I don't always have to be first, but it'd be fricken great if I wasn't always last. It's that simple. And when the spikes driven into my heart from being last, from being an afterthought, from one too many hurts, and I've tried too hard and for too long to have even a little space and affection and it gets thrown back into my face, well then, yeah, I'm gone.

And I do NOT ever come back.

Like Popeye, ~LA

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