Alone with my thoughts and uterus

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I enjoy being alone. I wake up with a plan for the day, or at least a general idea of what I would like to do. Some days, I wake up at 6am and work; Others, I wake up naturally at 9, do yoga, do a workout, re-arrange my room, make a nice big breakfast and won't get dressed 'till noon. I mostly make my own schedule. I would be irritated if I had to compromise that. 

I eat well. At night, I have so many hours between sunset and bed and so I fill that time with making beautiful food. I take a lot of pictures of that food. It's probably obnoxious at this point. Part of me feels that if I am putting so much time into the food, it has to be more than just for consumption - that it should somehow go towards my 'portfolio' or my career, my future. It's as if I am keeping a tally of the nights I am doing just fine being alone. 

I worry being alone will make me selfish and self absorbed. My last partner wasn't always nice to me, and I thanked him for it, worried that if he was too encouraging, my ego would inflate.

I have conflicting thoughts about having children. I worry not having children will make me self-absorbed and selfish. I don't want to be pregnant in my 40s, so I am really hearing the clock tick.  I do want children. I want them with when I am ready, but I know the process isn't that easy or immediate. I am anxious about the possibility of being unable to become or stay pregnant (for a number of reasons). I have internal dialogues with myself, working out timelines and deadlines for meeting a person, bringing up the notion of kids, feeling out the relationship and their ability and then speculating about the time it takes to conceive or carry to term thereafter. 

Part of me has entirely given up on birthing my own biological kids in a hetero-normative relationship. I have started realizing there are so many options: dating someone with kids already, adoption, IVF, raising a child with a gay man, being a surrogate for a gay couple who would include me in the child's life. Fostering. There are a million options. I don't even know if I want kids any more.

For the past two years, I felt a deeply rooted hormonal craving for a child; It was a teeth-clenching, fist-squeezing feeling of absolute necessity. Then my partner and I broke up and the feeling completely dissipated. I don't think it's about finding the right partner any more - I think the feeling is just genuinely gone. I like to be in control. Perhaps because I can't control this sort of planning, I have reverted to telling myself I don't care. Who knows?

Writing is good to let out these sort of subconscious thoughts; These thoughts that easily flow out of my fingers onto my keyboard but which I cannot grasp if I am staring at the wall and trying to think about them. 

I try to be upfront and honest with the people I am interested in. I have this gnawing bug in my ear telling me not to be too forward and not to be too honest, but I like to be forward and honest; It cuts through the bullshit and it doesn't waste any time with pleasantries. 

I feel as if I scared off a potential suitor lately. I don't blame myself or them. I sum it up to them hearing my needs and realizing they couldn't meet them and then backing away. What are my needs? Being alone and doing what I want, how I want. Is finding a partner important because it's a reminder that one must be kind to others and learn to accept compromise each day?  I know being alone doesn't have to be synonymous with being self-absorbed but I have a hard time remembering that. I think a lot of my fear is rooted in seeing my father: a cyclical bachelor with expensive taste and not ever as much time for his daughters as for his projects and jaunts to Paris, Porto or Santander. I envy his freedom and I pity the loneliness he has built.  

I work hard to reach out and feel connected; This blog is partially me doing just that. I fear becoming my father but I don't feel ready to sacrifice my alone time or my flexible routine. I like doing things my way. I like eating what I want to eat and taking 2 hours to cook it. I don't need anybody, but human presence would be nice. I don't want a partner just because it is normal and expected, either.

I'm trying to go with the flow while also trying to flow down the most efficient river with the shortest distance to pregnancy....or at least to a place where I can approach it more optimistically and realistically. There will be a point where I will have to decide to do it on my own or to not do it at all ( or maybe a point where I meet someone and they want the exact same thing "like, now"). 

 

Active Listening

I must have been around 8 years based on the pictures I remember seeing. We had arrived in the afternoon and I remember having to be woken up when we reached the dock. It might have been raining. I was drowsy or grumpy when I had to step into the little motor boat. The weather was fierce and I hid under blankets on the floor of the boat as it bumped against the choppy surface.  It felt like forever. The boat slowed and I emerged, looking out to face a giant rock on top of which a house sat.  The familiar scene of Georgian Bay. 

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After dinner I remember sitting on the couch. The couch separated the dining room and faced away from the table and towards the fireplace. I curled at the end of the couch. The adults may have still been eating. I had my back to them. There must have been a fire lit, but I don't remember it. 

I remember Leonard Cohen. It must have been "Take this Waltz" and I may have fallen asleep before I could hear more. I remember being drawn to the darkness of his voice. I didn't pay attention to the lyrics. I have the strongest memory of sitting on that couch alone,  listening to his voice harmonize with his backup singers. I was absorbed by his sound completely. I don't reminisce often. I'm not nostalgic, and I think that affects my ability to remember - but hearing his voice when I was on that couch is clear as water.

I remember walking down the rock and into the forest on the other side of the water.  I may have been exploring alone. I often sang as I wandered. Mom told me that I was misbehaving and was sent outside. She says I went under the porch and found a snake. I don't remember the snake, or much else from that trip.

When I listen to Take this Waltz, I imagine rough waters bashing against a hill made of one big wet rock with a house on top, where I sat alone among family and where the voice of Leonard Cohen made a permanent imprint on my brain. I am reminded that no matter how grumpy, I can always feel better with music. 

Busier but Less Hectic

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I never thought my life would be busier in the countryside. 

In the city, I thought waking at 10 was acceptable and by the end of the day I'd complain how hard I was working. I worked until I didn't, and when I left work, I didn't take it home with me. Cooking was a chore. Cleaning was constant. I smoked to de-stress. I walked everywhere to save the $3 TTC fee.

Now I am in Warkworth. I wake up at 7 or 8. I have a million things on my plate and I do take my work home with me for the first time in my life. I am making less money but saving more. I don't smoke. My brain is healthier. The anxiety I thought was chemical is seeming more and more like it could have been situational.

I wake up and do my 15 minute yoga routine. No one knows I have woken up. I haven't checked my phone or opened my computer. I breathe and stretch and gain strength for the day. I do not dread the day.

I have formed a new habit into my mornings. It is my own version of meditation and checking in with myself. I split a stack of tarot cards in a random spot and expose the blindly chosen card. Sitting on the edge of my bed, peaceful after yoga, I pick up my phone and find a reference to the card on a tarot deciphering site, Biddy Tarot. I don't expect the card to tell my future - that's silly. I use it to jar my brain of its old thinking habits and patterns. I use it as forced introspection, as a third party perspective. I read the meaning and apply it to my life. I don't take it word for word. Often, it helps me throughout the day as a reminder to re-focus, re-balance and to view things from a different perspective. 

After my tarot moment, I have breakfast and feed the cat. (Ok, the cat gets fed first.) I check emails and do lots more work on my computer than I ever have before. I send many emails. When I have sent a few, there are more waiting. I have to practice pulling myself away from the computer and resolve to leave emails unread while I prioritize other tasks of the day. 

I am learning to be honest about my capabilities. It has been hard to learn to say, " No, sorry, I cannot take that on". I am my mother's daughter, after all. If anything, she is the inspiration for me to learn to say no.  She says yes to everything. She works her butt off. Her heart is under a lot of stress. No time to slow down, I think she thinks. I try to make that time for myself.

A chef once made me stop and take a moment to breathe during a rush. I was 15 and overwhelmed and nothing was going right. He made me stop everything and just stand there. It was hard to stop and let go. He instructed me to make a list of priorities in my head. When a minute was up, he allowed me to get back to it. My motions were smoother, more precise and I could think clearly again. He taught me that sometimes you need to slow down to be effectively productive. 

Our worth is not measured by our productivity. I read that somewhere recently. I don't know if I agree. I certainly wasn't raised to think it, though I do like the way that mantra sounds. I suppose it is how we define 'productivity'. To me, and I'm sure to my mom also, productivity includes doing things for others, taking the time to call Grandma, stopping on the street to pick up a glove and prop it on a fence for easier visibility.  In those cases, yes, you are a better person because you did those things.

But how about we stop thinking about worth and just get on with our lives? I am learning in Warkworth that today is 'my life'. In the city, it seems like a race to catch up. People ask what you want to do with your life. Today is your life! Every day you are living it. Wiccans will say, " Do what you will and harm none". I'd say that's a pretty good rule to follow. Every day is you leading your life. It's not as if today doesn't count. In the city, it seems people live thinking of the future and not the present. City dwellers are hypnotized with grand goals of prosperity,  delusions of wealth bringing happiness and popularity amplifying status. 

I am busy, yes, but I have learned to step back and take an hour to prepare and eat (and digest!) dinner. There is always time in the day to do what you want to do. 

At the end of the day, I am alone but I am peaceful. I realize we are all alone. I have to learn to live with myself, make myself happy and entertain myself in healthy ways. I take more baths now than ever. The bubbles make them special. I read more. I read until the bath is cold. In the bath, I don't check my phone. I plan meals and empty the fridge between grocery shops. I eat very well and I eat more canned goods than I ever have before. I do wish I walked more than I do here. It takes 10 minutes exactly to walk to the end of town and back. 

Though I am busier here in Warkworth and feel stretched in a million directions, everything is easier than it was in the city. I am very busy, but neither my mind nor my motions are hectic. 

Mex I Can

I feel like for my entire childhood, my mother was in the kitchen.

When we got home at four, we dropped our knapsacks at the door and plopped down on the couch, brain dead from a long day at school.  This was before remote controls, so one of us would squat with our face two inches from the screen and turn the dial while the other would whine, " No, go back! That one". Mom didn't interfere or take sides. She let us sort it out, but we both knew she was she was there, in the kitchen, listening.

Most days, Mom would bring us an after school snack. It was usually 'soldiers' (a peanut butter and jam sandwich cut into four long rectangles) or cheese and crackers. She probably put cucumber and carrot sticks on the plate too...but I don't remember. 

When we spread out our books and paper on the dining room table, Mom was cooking dinner in the next room. We would holler our questions and she would holler back answers. If we called her ("mmmaaaaaaaam"), she would leave her cooking and come help. 

Dinner was difficult for Mom. My sister liked cheese and hot dogs and was pretty fussy. I was a self-declared vegetarian from the age of seven, and my dad was the pickiest. I don't remember watching him eat. I remember my mom having small portions. I remember sitting across from my sister and making faces. The big square table where we sat down to dinner was too big to kick my sister under the table (though I'm sure we tried). 

If we had food left on our pates, Mom would divide the plate and tell us to choose a side and eat it. If we still couldn't, Dad would tell us we were not allowed any cereal or snacks later and that if we were hungry, we would have to finish our plate. 

When we had finished, it was custom (and required of us) to say, " Thank you for the lovely meal. May I please be excused?". We said it every night for my entire childhood and into my teens. 

In high school, Mom worked, so we got home before her. We'd drop our knapsacks with a thud and plop in front of the TV. She would get home, take off her coat and march on ahead to the kitchen. I remember being upset that she didn't take off her shoes when she got home. It never occurred to me she was in a hurry because she was racing against the clock of hungry growing hormonal teens.  It never occurred to me to get dinner started. I would look in the fridge and there would be "nothing to eat" and she'd open it up, spend an hour cooking/pulling rabbits out of hats and would always offer us a (healthy and satisfying) feast. 

Towards the end of high school, I would sit on the barstool at the end of the kitchen counter and watch her cook. 

When we had eaten everything on our plates and were ready to leave the table, we would thank our mom for dinner - often in unison. 

Now, in my 30s, I live alone. I work during the day and when I get home I'm exhausted. But what do I do? I march on ahead to the kitchen with my shoes still on and dive into making dinner.  

Cooking for one is hard. It's hard to tell yourself you are special enough to fuss over. But you are. I am.

I have been craving Mexican. I can't eat onions, garlic, wheat tortillas, beans or dairy, so you can imagine making Mexican seem authentic and satisfying is a challenge. But I did it. 

Because of Mama.

She taught me that it is possible to whip something up from nothing if you're got the right momentum, vision and chutzpah. 

 

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P.S.

I did go to cooking school. Cooking school taught me the rules and techniques. Mama taught me how to love to cook, how to show others you care by cooking for them, how feeding people creates a deep bond, and that sharing food can be the greatest gift given or received. 

 

 

Two Sheds, Bread and Chocolate Truffle Pie

I painted two small sheds yesterday. I had been hired to do this project a month back but I am a novice and went too slow. The weather changed before I could finish painting all the grooves. Yesterday was warm, possibly 15 degrees Celsius, and I finished painting after 4 hours. 

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It was windy when I walked home. It seems my days usually end around 3pm; That's when the sun starts going down. That's when the weather changes. I realized I hadn't been thinking about anything all day. I was focused on painting and my mind was blank. It felt like my brain was calm water lapping inside my head. 

I slept at 9 and woke at midnight to start the arduous but incredibly pleasurable task of making a mass batch of bread. It doesn't take too much effort, but it does take time and attention. I talk to the dough. It helps. I'm sure of it. 

By 7 in the morning, the bread was out and cooling and I crept back upstairs to bed for a few hours.

Just after 11, I flew out the door, late for work, holding the earrings I intended on wearing. As I descended the stairs, I prodded my ear lobe with the hook and hit something. I was already wearing earrings.  

This evening, I made a chocolate pie from scratch and with no recipe. I am mourning the closure of Bar Italia. It was a restaurant - until a few months ago - on College Street in Toronto. My parents took us there before they divorced. It was simply where our family went if we were going out for supper.  Everyone always got the same thing except Mom, who always had a hard time deciding.  

There was a chocolate truffle cake on the menu. It could hardly be called a cake. I don't think it was baked and I don't think it had flour or leavening agents. It was always the same: perfect and insanely rich. The slice was only an inch thick and maybe 5 inches long. It sat on a plate alone or there may have been a raspberry coulis underneath. Our family shared that one dessert every time. 

I went on my first date there, with a guy who would eventually propose to me when I was 16. We both used fake i.d. I don't remember what I ate, but I know where we sat and the view I had of that room. That room is etched in my memory forever. 

Later, I got a job as a cook there. It was my third job ever. I never saw anyone make the chocolate truffle cake. Someone did it upstairs but I never saw who or when they made it. 

Tonight, I channelled Bar Italia and what I have learned about cooking since and I prepared two mini chocolate truffle pies. They are in a pie shells only because I had left over pie pastry. 

I cannot eat this pie, but I will savour the memories it holds. Tomorrow, I will give it to my mom and her partner, my stepdad, Trevor.