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Saturday, May 31, 2014


I shared my last post on Facebook. Sometimes I do things just to see what will happen to me if I do. The Facebook thing may have been a mistake. I might not have been ready.

Because I'm me, and I assume I'm invisible unless present, and Facebook has changed its policy so that the newsfeed things that are promoted usually have video or pictures, and my post did not--I decided that only a few people (meaning only 4) would see the Facebook post and then it would be over. I could say I did it, be really, super proud of myself, and go on with life.

So four people saw the post and liked or commented on it. And I liked the comments back.

And then more people started saying things and adding likes and I freaked out. Over a Facebook post. I am ridiculous.

No one said anything remotely unkind. Everyone was enormously supportive. But I have stupid PTSD, which means I started to feel a whole bunch of feelings at once, got really confused, didn't know HOW to feel at all, and today, when all the traffic has gone away and no one remembers my post anymore, I'm still feeling grouchy and out of sorts and panicky.

And I keep stupid crying. I hate crying.

Sorting things out:

1. Some of my nieces and nephews commented or liked the post, indicating they read it. That makes me uneasy. It's a little silly. Most of them with Facebook accounts are over twelve and should be talking about rape with their parents, if only to help them understand that there is always help and protection available--regardless of what is said by the perpetrator. But I'm still confused about what I feel when I know they've read my post.

2. Friends who grew up with me--people with whom I lost contact who later found me on Facebook--indicated that they love me. This is a good thing. But a few of them also intimated regret that they had not known about the crime when we were growing up. They would have loved and supported me, if only I had told them. They don't understand. I couldn't tell. I didn't know how. I didn't even have the words to express to myself what had happened, let alone share it with others. But I feel guilty that they wish I had told them. I feel I was a bad friend, somehow, because I didn't know how to utilize available support--or maybe they think I just didn't trust them (which is true because I trusted no one)--or maybe they cared about me more than I cared about them. Regardless, while I appreciate what they're saying, it still causes a great deal of anxiety.

3. I have Stupid-Facebook-Game friends. Please note that the "Stupid" modifies the games, not the friends. I have never met these people. I know nothing about them. I play Scrabble, or other games with them on Facebook. We enjoy playing. We're Facebook friends. That is all. But some of them also read my post. Some of them responded. And some of them share an experience similar to mine. I want to tell them that one day it will be okay--but maybe it won't, so probably I shouldn't say that. I want to thank them for taking time to read and respond kindly to a post by a complete stranger. But that means I have to talk about the post again. With strangers. Who play games with me. That's weird.

4. People responded with things like, "You're a hero..." or "I'm proud of you." I'm not a hero. I'm a survivor. I did what I had to do to get better because the alternative was intolerable. I didn't save anyone or make history or cure global warming. I'm just me. I'm insignificant and I took care of myself. Heroes are people who endanger their own lives to save others--like firefighters. Or people who rescue children from sex slavery, or abuse, or hunger. Or teachers who help kids learn to read and write. Or really great parents who don't have PTSD, who actually understand how to parent, and can raise wonderful, healthy kids. Or people who figure out how to cure global warming. I know--I already said that. And I don't understand why anyone would be proud of me for finally figuring out how to state the obvious. Admitting and accepting that one has been used by another in a traumatizing way is difficult, but it usually doesn't take a couple of decades for the person to be able to talk about it. I'm just a very slow learner, I suppose, when it comes to talking and sharing. It's nice that they're acknowledging that this was difficult for me, but I still don't understand.

5. Part of me wants to help others with similar experiences make it to the point where life feels "normal." But I'm hearing people say things that make me want to scream. Things about my experience being "meaningful" or saying that my being raped will help other people or that it's made me stronger, or more empathetic, or a better person. LET ME BE CLEAR: Being raped has not made me a better person in any way. It has brought so much chaos and anger and pain to me, that there are days I'm left gasping and curled up in a ball because I cannot process the memories without reacting that way. It has not made me more empathetic or more loving--I was already empathetic and loving and I believe I would have continued to foster those traits even if some stupid person had not hurt me sexually. In fact, I believe those traits would be easier to access because I wouldn't have to work through fear and mistrust to get to them. And I was already strong--ask anyone who knew me as a child. I was physically and mentally strong, and also very strong-willed. I was born with those traits, I did not earn them because someone repeatedly forced his penis in my child-body and hurt me beyond what I could comprehend. Rape is wrong and horrifying. It does not make people better in any way. If they recover and appear "better" it is because they had what they needed, or were able to find it through therapy and support from other people, to survive and to heal from an experience that should never have happened. Stop telling me I am a better person because I was a victim. That is untrue. If I am a better person than I was yesterday or the day before or a year ago, it is because I chose to become so.

And now I'm left feeling that I am childish because I can't seem to make myself just gracefully accept the kind words that were written on my profile.

This is PTSD. One moment I feel calm and accepting and strong enough to talk about my life in a semi-public forum. The next I feel aggrieved and misunderstood and afraid--for no reason at all. I haven't even read more than halfway down the comments. I haven't looked at the names of the people who have liked the post. While I don't necessarily want to take it back, I wish I knew how to process what's happening in my guts.

Maybe it's time to talk to Therapist again. It's been a decade of therapy. That's a really long time.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day 2014

I would like to write something profound and patriotic to commemorate this day. However, I am neither profound, nor ardently patriotic--although I suppose, in my own way, I have a fair sense of patriotism.

However, today I have other things on my mind and in my heart--and this is my place.

I am a rape survivor.

I'm not saying this because it's news, or to garner sympathy, or because I think I'm somehow different or special because of it. It's not, I would never do that, and I'm not.

I am a rape survivor.

I'm saying this because ten years ago I couldn't even think or remember or silently acknowledge it--let alone allow the words to escape my mouth. I knew what had happened, but glossed over it as, "a small amount of sexual abuse." Today I'm not even sure that means--except it represents my inability to face the truth, and also my deeply held belief that I was somehow responsible.

I am a rape survivor.

I'm saying this because four years ago, while I could say it and write it, I felt afterwards that I might scream or throw up and my body wouldn't stop shaking. I wanted to rage and throw tantrums. I wanted to make it go away. I felt helpless because I couldn't change the fact that it happened, and I desperately wanted to be held and soothed and protected.

I am a rape survivor.

I'm saying this because I finally understand that, while I wish with all my heart that it had not happened, there is no shame on my part. I was a child. I said no. I was manipulated and abused. I did not have the means to protect myself. There is horrifying vulnerability in acknowledging that there was nothing more I could to do prevent what happened. There is also truth.

I am a rape survivor.

I'm saying this because I did not deserve to have it happen to me. I was a lovely, giggly, perpetually happy preadolescent. I had curly hair, a quirky sense of humor, and boundless energy. I loved playing hide and seek, and freeze tag, and Red Rover. I loved playing the piano and reading and writing really awful poetry. I was tiny and funny. My favorite color was orange.

I am a rape survivor.

I'm saying this because today I can. And when I say it, these are my words: "I'm a rape survivor--and it's okay. I've made it through a lot of anguish and healing. I've learned to forgive in so many ways. I understand who I am--and I like me. I live with PTSD, but I've done some really great things as I've learned to manage what PTSD adds to my life. Last summer I was able to have my first physical in 18 years, and my first mammogram ever. And I was able to tell the medical professionals involved about my past and my current needs. And it was awful, but I did it. I'll do it again this year. While I understand that this is WAY more information than you wish, ten years ago I couldn't tell you any of this and today I can. I think that's progress. I hope you do, too."

I am a rape survivor.

I still have curly hair. Sometimes I let it remain in a mess of curls, but most of the time I straighten it. I still love to play hide and seek, but I limit the time I spend playing Red Rover and freeze tag since I've not yet been cleared to run after my hip replacement. I still read avidly, write terrible poetry, and playing the piano has become my vocation. My quirky sense of humor has not changed, nor has my energy level. I'm usually happy, and if you talk to me, within the first 30 seconds, you can count on it--I will giggle.

I am a rape survivor...and so much more. It has taken me many years to understand this, and the journey was incredibly painful. To any person who still reads this blog, who walked with me in person or online, who offered support in thought, prayer, or word--I love you. Thank you for helping me learn once again, to love myself.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Let it go...

A few months ago I noticed that there were a number of things in my life that made me unhappy--and I was holding onto them with all my strength. I had good reasons for keeping those things, but there seemed no way to alter the fact that they simply did not bring me happiness. There were time consuming habits online (daily Facebook drivel, Youtube video binges, waiting for chat people) and offline (trying to sleep on weekends when I was no longer sleepy just because Darrin wasn't up yet, reading magazines that came in the mail even when I had no interested in them and didn't order them, shopping when I had nothing I needed to buy), and there were a few relationships that I'd been clinging to that needed to change in some way.

The offline habits were easy to let go. I simply chose different things. I added a new piece to my practice schedule, went to the library and borrowed new books, increased the amount of time I spent on physical therapy assignments, and as the weather improved, I added daily walks to my routine.

The online habits weren't as easy. They still aren't. I spend a great deal of time online because I work there. But I find myself feeling restless and dissatisfied as I waste time doing things online that aren't fulfilling to me in some way.

I was talking with an online friend--he's a motivational speaker and does amazing things to help people learn to find happiness in their lives (also an abuse survivor at the hands of a Catholic priest--yeah, one of those kids--who has learned that the Church isn't bad, but sometimes bad people hide there--I learned the same lesson as a child). He's started a Facebook group about unplugging social media one day weekly and one weekend monthly. He wants to see if it affects how he feels about people and how his PTSD symptoms react to the experiment. The number of people asking to join the group is incredible. He wants me to participate. I've joined the group but I have difficulty with people telling me what to do--I like things to be my own idea. I can see myself subconsciously sabotaging myself or REALLY wanting to connect online on the days when I'm supposed to be unplugged. Unplugging includes cell phones. I haven't committed yet but it might be a good idea.

There are other things I've come up with to limit the amount of non-work time I spend online. Some overlap with the offline changes of habit I've implemented. But now that spring is here, I'll be planning things like planting and weeding and vacations and fall classes...I think I'll be able to master myself in regards to online time.

The relationships in which I've felt unhappy were more difficult. I had to decide why I felt that way, and if it was because of something amiss in myself. But in some cases I made my relationship counterparts aware that I wasn't feeling happy with how our relationships were evolving and asked for their input about the situation. In others, I simply began to limit the amount of time spent together (online or in person). It was different from my former cut-and-run routine, because I wanted to continue contact with those people, just in a different way.

Of those I spoke to, only one responded positively. Probably it's not fun to have someone say, "My relationship with you is making me unhappy. These are the reasons I believe this is so. What do you think?" With the exception of the one, the others blamed my PTSD, or my recent surgery, or the past four years of stressful things I've experienced. There was no give/take proposal. I was expected to take complete responsibility for being unhappy in the relationship. I'm pretty sure that's not what they intended for me to take from our conversation, but what I heard was, basically, "If you're unhappy, that belongs to you. There are many possible reasons, but probably if you just give it time, everything will resolve itself."

What they didn't take into consideration (and they should have--they've known me for quite a few years) was that I'd already given the situation a great deal of time and thought. I'd made some changes in myself, and I'd considered all the possibilities they proposed. But there were other reasons I felt unhappy that had nothing to do with my past, recent trauma, PTSD, or surgery. When I was dismissed and told to solve the problem on my own, it actually helped me decide how to manage those particular relationships. And I did. And I was happier.

There were a few relationships, however, that I knew needed to change in some way. I didn't want them to end. I wanted continued closeness. But I understood that somehow I had gotten stuck and I didn't want to allow those relationships to evolve as they should. I was clinging to past memories and feelings that had been enormously helpful to me, and while I wasn't trying to duplicate those feelings and memories, there was a huge fear that allowing the people involved to move forward and away from me would steal those moments from my life.

I don't believe, for someone who has experienced dissociation, which for me involved lost or detached memories, that this is an unreasonable feeling. As I tried to allow the relationships to evolve--and I did try--my attempts were met with an intense feeling of crisis. My reaction to that was that the relationship had become unhealthy/toxic and needed to end. My brain would rescue me, tell me to wait before acting, and I would think some more--trying to come up with solutions which wouldn't catapult me backward a decade to my inability to manage close relationships.

Integration taught me that I can claim my memories again--I MUST claim them, for they are a part of me. As I thought about that, I understood for the first time that while I remember things in an individual, unique way, my memories are often shared by another person. I'd never thought about that before. It was unsettling, upsetting, and aggravating to me. I tried to talk about it. I was unable to. I felt that my privacy had somehow been invaded. It was ridiculous but I had no means of figuring out how to manage what I was feeling.

Fortunately, Therapist, while perhaps not knowing exactly how to help me, knows how to guide me to help myself. After a few discussions and suggestions from Therapist, I tried some strategies to help me figure out the emotional mess that was causing me distress. I can't say I was completely successful, but some of the work I did moved me toward what I needed to do to deal with allowing relationships to evolve.

There is a difference between pulling back/adding distance, and letting go. When I would try to let go, allow autonomy in my relationships, I knew I was doing the right thing, but I would feel horribly sad, a little bit desperate, and completely overwhelmed with panic. And I couldn't make it happen. Even though I had no idea what "it" was, I knew nothing had changed. I was still unhappy, I still felt mistrust, and I did not feel safe in the relationship. Somehow, moving forward, I was certain, would bring me some peace.

So I wasn't letting go. I didn't have the capacity to do so. I do now.

Letting go still brings a feeling of sadness, but it's soft and quiet. It understands that some things are ending, and those things were joyful, things I have cherished. I might miss them. But it also understands that putting those things away means making room for more, and relationships are living, breathing entities that require new and different in order to thrive. Letting go also brings a feeling of acceptance--an acknowledgement that things must change. Not all of the change will be what I wish, but much of it will bring growth that will enhance past feelings and experiences.

It still makes me stressed, but now that I can do it, with practice, I think it will become easier.

Talking/writing about it still makes me feel a bit of panic, though, so I think it's time to read a book now.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Theory Class is NOT Boring

Today's theory class (remember, consisting of all Middle School aged BOYS) finished 20 minutes early. They listen--and do the work--it sort of freaks me out. So rather than move on to the next topic, I suggested swing dancing (I was kidding, yes). The next thing I knew, "Rockin' Robin" was blaring from the desktop computer in the band room, all the chairs and stands were neatly stacked against the wall, and I was dancing with a lanky ninth grader.

The others decided, since I was the only girl in the room, to put aside all homophobia and they partnered up--and I have to say, they know some pretty sweet moves (I have to say it because they told me so). Except for the one guy no one would dance with. Not even me. Because his sweet swing dance moves included back flips and round offs. He's just dangerous.

And middle school boys are actually able to giggle about things that have no sexual connotation. They couldn't stop giggling. I think they might really be girls. 

Seriously, this might be more fun than I've had in a long time.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Four months ago I signed out of my chat program and have not signed in since. I'm unsure exactly what motivated me, but I think it had something to do with how the smartphone signs people in to chat programs automatically, but they're really not there. For someone like me, this is equivalent to being ignored. It's not that I expect to be hailed all the time, but knowing that my hello will bring no response is a little bit frustrating. So I sat down, had a good talk with myself, and decided that chatting was causing me stress. And I turned it off. 

I thought I would have difficulty for awhile. I've been chatting with people daily for over a decade. But I didn't. In fact, I have no desire to go back to that. I thought my phone calls to people would increase. They didn't. I thought maybe I'd email when I wished to talk--but that wish hasn't presented itself. 

One might assume that as I removed myself from my virtual social circle, that I'd venture more into real time sociality. This, too, has not proven to be the case. Instead I have filled my time with reading and working and thinking and trying to recover from my three-month-old hip replacement. And I've been happy. Except for the fatigue and depression which follows any bout I have with general anesthesia, I've felt better. 

I've remained in contact with people who are very close to me, but even that desire seems to be waning. I encounter the same obstacle sometimes--that is, wishing to talk but not being able to connect with them. I'm talking about busy schedules colliding, but also about my ability to feel close. I can't seem to do it. And it has nothing to do with desire. It's like every barrier I tore down ten years ago has been replaced and doubled in strength. I feel a yearning to connect, followed by a violent reaction inside that warns me away, reminds me that what I want is probably not what they want, followed by Tolkien Boy's voice telling me, as he did nearly eight years ago, "You can't ask people to feel the same way you do."

I know that--I've always known it. But I sort of want to scream at Tolkien Boy because he said that to me. Having it said by someone I respect and love just reinforces in my head that what I feel is wrong, somehow. And I hear the words again and again and again--every time I wish for something loving and human from another person. 

That was not his intention. He was just talking about feelings, and people, and life. My brain simply seized on the thing that seemed most relevant to me and kept those words looping through my mind and controlling my emotional life. I did that. 

Still, I've become used to my own company now, and I feel okay about that--so maybe Tolkien Boy did me a favor. I think he would like that. Maybe someday, when I feel like talking again, I'll tell him.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Lessons Learned

1. There is not enough money in the world to compensate for helping with a middle school musical production. The kids begin squirrelly and progress to beyond squirrelly. Yesterday one of them lost his clothes. I found them on the floor backstage. I do not want to know why they were there.

2. Accompanying 45 middle school band students on their solos for festival can cause temporary deafness. Especially if they are playing saxophone or percussion. Also, some of them actually have musical sensitivity and talent. Scratch that. Two of them do. That's not a particularly compelling reason to continue accompanying them every year. However, when you and the band teacher got your undergrad degrees together, sometimes there are reasons long past that are. Sigh...I'll be doing this until I die...or go permanently deaf...

3. Flowers bloom in the spring even when the weather believes it's winter. We've had snow every day since Sunday, but also enough daytime warmth to melt the white stuff. And I have some pansies heroically blooming beside my dandelions (which I halfheartedly and unsuccessfully attempted to kill last week). My trees and bushes have continued to sprout leaves. Should the snow ever decide to leave for a few months, it will be gorgeous and green.

4. I have songbirds. My dad has crows. He lives three blocks from me so I don't know why there is a difference in bird residence, but I'll take it. I'm listening to blackbirds hailing the sunrise. He's listening to crows fighting over roadkill. Bad luck, Dad!

5. Since DJ moved back home, claiming my former guest room, we have had more company than we ever did during the three years he was gone. Our new guest room is my piano studio floor equipped with a queen-sized air mattress. There is no privacy in our house and Darrin and I are up for work by (or before, in my case) 5 a.m. We try to be quiet, but I'm guessing we're not particularly successful (we = me, because Darrin actually is quiet and doesn't run into things in the morning). When we told people we had a guest room, they would make a comment about how it might be nice to visit and we ended up about two visits per year. DJ moved home about a year ago. In that year alone, our air mattress has had five residents. It's almost as if when we say, "We don't have a lot of room--couch or air mattress, only," people are challenged to show us that they're tough enough to rough it a few nights in our house-without-a-guest-room. And since I like visitors, when DJ (and Adam and Tabitha) moves out, I'm thinking about continuing the rumor that we have no guest room just so people will keep coming.

6. I hate physical therapy. And I love it. But mostly I hate it. So I need to go do the work at the gym now. But I'd rather just go run outside and listen to the birds. But I can't do that until my physical therapist says I'm ready. So I hate her, too. And I love her.

Okay. Going to the icky gym now.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Making Peace

I have never been able to resolve parts of me that I perceive as odd or problematic until I could understand why they happen in the first place. This goes beyond simply knowing the root cause, and is more centered around the "why" of today. I know what inspires the idiosyncracies, but why are they still troubling me? Why do I cling to them? Why do they pop up regardless of what I do to dispel them? What purpose do they serve NOW?

For many years this has been the case when I think about friendship. I have written about this more times than any reasonable person should. I've mocked the institution of friendship, calling it a convenience which allows people to be fickle and undependable simply on the auspices that they owe one another nothing.

I've never understood why I felt so intensely antagonistic toward that relationship, nor why I'm actually insulted when someone who is very close to me refers to me as a friend. My brain automatically thinks, No. I'm not a friend. That's someone unreliable and disposable, and if that's how you feel about me, I'm gone.

I understand now.

Trust, for me, is intermittent at best, and nonexistent at worst. But I want to trust people. I just don't seem to be able to make that happen. No matter how a person has shown me repeatedly that he or she is present, that I'm loved, that I'm important--it seems impossible for me to accept that, believe it, and feel comfortable trusting that person. I try. In fact, trying to trust causes me so much anxiety that I've been known to be sick over it. I want to trust people.

Trust allows one to let go, believing that absence means nothing more that a space of time and distance that will be bridged whenever possible. It allows one to believe that silence is insignificant and will be remedied when time permits. Trust keeps people in our lives when life throws curve balls that separate us. It's probably trust which initiates the feeling, after a long absence, that time has change nothing and that friends still feel close and intimate.

I've never experienced that. If you leave my life then reenter it later, I'll be very glad to see you but I won't feel at all close. I'll be interested but detached. And I probably won't suggest that we try to see each other more often. You see, probably when you left it caused me all sorts of emotional trauma because I didn't understand that you would come back--and what I interpreted was that I'm not important enough to you to make an effort to continue any relationship we might have been enjoying. In my mind, this was not a temporary separation. This was a termination.

When I began to recognize that I'm not able to trust in the "normal" way, I felt a little bit desperate. I don't want the people in my life to feel we have to constantly reconnect or I'll have be experiencing an emotional rift which effectively removes any close relationship we might have had and moves them to my group of acquaintances--people I enjoy when we're together, but don't really think about often. I don't want to be that person whose relationships become unhealthy because I'm so afraid to let go and I'm incapable of applying consistent trust.

I realized last week that I've been agonizing over this long enough. I am who I am. I'll probably never stop trying to figure out how to "fix" this problem in myself. I'll probably continue to hide the fact that every close, beautiful relationship in my life makes me want to throw up and causes me to panic most of the time. It's likely that the process which is natural to me, but completely unnatural to people who have not been abused, molested, or raped as children, will be a part of my life forever--but that doesn't mean I'll stop trying to circumvent, reroute, and striving to become more like healthy people.

That being said, I think it's time for me to stop being nasty about friendship. People like it. They want it. It plays an important, integral part in the lives of healthy people. They get it. I need to stop verbalizing antagonism stemming from my inability to make it work in my head and heart. My deficits do not diminish an institution that's been around for eons and will continue whether I participate or not.

So I'm making peace with myself. And I'm letting go. And if people are absent for awhile, probably my emotional self will cut off from them because it's natural to me. But that's okay. The world won't end and the absent people won't even know it happened and I'll go to work and read books and keep doing physical therapy and notice tiny details in the world around me that bring me joy--and the other person will go on with his or her life, too. My trust is not essential and my lack of trust makes no one uncomfortable except me.

Looking back on all my agonizing, I think I wanted someone to save me--to teach me how to be like everyone else. I think I wished that I would be reassured, reminded that even if someone leaves, it's temporary and I'm still loved. Clearly I'm still a child in this regard. Having suffered abandonment and neglect, I know no other way to feel secure. I needed to hear the verbal assurance that we're still "friends."

Adults don't do that with other adults. I understand that. So today I allow myself to be at peace. I'm okay, even if this trust and friendship thing is not something I can do. I still have relationships and interactions with people and those are joyful even if they also make me stressed. I'm willing to keep doing this on my terms and stop feeling inadequate because I don't have the emotional maturity necessary to be those people who can be apart for years, then come together again feeling as if no time has passed and the relationships is still thriving.

I also don't have to keep talking about it. And probably the other parties in my relationships will feel those friendship things, even if I don't, so I'll have half-friendships. And half is better than none.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Spring has sprung a leak.

Today I was asked to guest lecture in a middle school choir class. The choir is finished with performances and competitions, but there are three weeks of school left. So the teacher offered four topics to the class--each student could choose one. They'll have two lectures on the topics, one day for independent research, and then they'll write a short research paper or take a test, depending on which topic they choose. I'm lecturing on music theory.

When I was hired to do this, I assumed I would end up with between four and six students. Theory is no not a hot topic among middle schoolers. I walked into class today and found twelve boys waiting for me. That was a bit of a shock. Not only were they ready to listen and learn (seriously--I'm talking about MIDDLE SCHOOL), but they participated and did all the activities I had planned. I'm not quite sure what to think about this.

Change of subject

I've spent the past decade resolving much of what was causing me pain, emotionally and physically. I'm ready to take a break. I may always deal with anxiety and panic attacks. I'm okay with that. Most of the time I just wait them out. I know what they are, and while they're uncomfortable, they're not life threatening. Some of the panic attacks this week have caused me some difficulty as they were accompanied by nausea, but again, I know how to manage them and they will pass. I've been lucky enough to find someone to talk me through them both times. That won't always be the case. I'm okay with that, too.

I'm going to do some traveling this summer. Darrin's aunt has been asking me to come visit for a few years. I've declined because she lives in the New York City area and I've not been willing to go there until I could manage the PTSD symptoms more easily. I can do that now. I'll be spending about ten days in that neck of the woods during the first part of July. Then I'll be going with Tabitha to visit some Utah friends. I also have a week planned in a very remote part of Wyoming. I've invited my husband and children to join me there. I also invited Tolkien Boy, but it doesn't look like that will happen. Boo and family might possibly make it for a weekend, but there's room for more. Message me if you're interested in spending a day or two in a place with little phone service and dubious internet connection. We'll talk.

I may also be traveling a bit with my parents. I have a couple of nephews getting married this summer and would like to attend those weddings, but my car is becoming less roadworthy. I've put a large number of miles on it since it was purchased seven years ago. Darrin is convinced he can fix whatever ails it. Until he cries uncle, there will be no talk of a new vehicle. So we'll limp along and hope for the best. There are worse things.

Next week marks my last performance for this school year. I'll be accompanying solos at a festival Tuesday morning. We start at 8 a.m. and I'm guessing I'll be finished by noon. I've talked to the Big Guy and told him I'm expecting a pristinely gorgeous day, because I intend to celebrate by disappearing into the mountains that afternoon. He's the only one I've told (except for you, Brozy, because you read this). I'm contemplating keeping it that way. Otherwise I have offspring who will decide they need to keep me company. I'm desperately wishing for some solitude.

I began the dandelion eradication process this week in my garden. It makes me sad, but I have basil that needs to be transplanted and soon there will be tomatoes and a variety of flowers waiting for a place. The dandelions have been allowed to bloom for a couple of months, which, Darrin assures me, is long enough to ensure that they have sown enough seeds in my lawn and garden to continue propagation for the eternities. Darrin does not love my dandelions.

The songbirds that have taken up residence in my front and back yards are lovely. I might be the only one who enjoys listening to them at 4:30 a.m., but since I'm up anyway, it's nice to have the company. Tabitha says she would like them better if they would sleep a few more hours. I'll take them any time of day.

Today was one of those days when the weather simply could not make up its mind. It started out very cool, with temperatures in the mid-30s and progressed to light rain which turned into weird, tiny hailstones. Thunder grumbled throughout the afternoon and the wind put in an appearance for a couple of hours. Sunshine and snow occurred simultaneously and the high temperature ended up being in the 50s. I just have to say, it's difficult to know what to wear on days like this. It makes me want to stay home and read a book all day.