a girl and her boy

. daily life : wool obsession : bibliomania : living on purpose .

Category Archives: future planning

The Bottom Line

Last night after dinner, Gabe and I sat in our his and hers Queen Anne recliners in the living room planning for the rest of the week. Our planning eventually got on the future track and I began plotting out financial goals on the long, medium, and short range, including the mundane details of adult life like car maintenance, car insurance, eye glasses, etc for the short term and on the long term things like retirement and a house.

But the bottom line is a puppy.

You see, we can’t have a puppy where we are right now. It would cost too much. Our building would have us pay a big down payment and then a monthly fee for a four-legged baby. And I want a four-legged baby like hydrogen wants oxygen:  it’s on a molecular level.

Every item we added to the list, after writing it down, I said, “and this gets us closer to puppy!” After a bit, you can imagine this got old.

We eventually finished our list, set the alarm and crawled into bed.

Thirty-five minutes after lights out, I sit straight up in bed, and declared, as if I had never owned this need before, “I want a puppy!”

Bleary-eyed from being awaken, Gabe just looked at me and shook his head.

“At least I’m not saying ‘baby’, ” I responded to the look. With that, I finally drifted off to sleep dreaming of my future furry four-legged baby-kins.


Dreaming in Color.

I ❤ Autumn.

I’ve knit four feet on Gabe’s scarf. The colors are intoxicating. Why don’t we weave more color into our lives? Live in full color instead of monochrome? I have a lot of existential questions on my mind. That’s what happens in the fall when the leaves start swirling around my feet. The crisp cool air and the increase of orange in the landscape leads my mind back to the search for knowledge.

This urge to dig into books and steep meaning from the pages has me melancholy. A teaching position just doesn’t seem to be working out, again, this year. Lots of reasons:  the economy is still tough, saturated market, etc. But that doesn’t make being sidelined another year any easier to swallow. So, instead of stewing in my misery and getting depressed, I’m getting mentally active.

I started taking a serious look at grad school again. I have no idea which program(s) I’ll apply to, but I’m looking. I would *love* to do an English lit program. Special Education would be worthwhile, too. But, I always wanted to go all the way with English literature. When I started my Bachelor’s program, I saw myself going all the way to a PhD with it. My roommate at the time, who was also an English major, but later dropped out for a radiology program, always a very practical person, asked me, “So, what are you going to do with it?” I never had a good answer. But I do now:  to enrich my life and my inner world. To give voice to and unleash the insatiable thirst for knowledge that I’ve always had. So I’m looking at schools.

In the meantime, I’m still reading for my blog project of pairing the cryptozoological adaptations with the classic novels. I’m knitting. I’m tidying and organizing the apartment with Gabe’s tireless and cheerful help. I run and plan for road races. And I dream.

That’s what I’ve been doing the most lately. Dreaming. And it’s been wonderful.

New Place, Old Face

Gabe and I have been living in our new home for a smidge over two weeks now. It’s been wonderful. It’s such a different experience than I even imagined. We’re in an area of Boston that is primarily industrial:  office buildings, restaurants, parking garages, hotels, and a few blank slates for someone’s imagination to take hold of. We have all of Boston at our finger tips but forget trying to get a gallon of milk without hopping on the T or getting in the car after 6 pm on Friday. The only remotely reasonable convenience store is only open when the offices are. But, I’d have to say, that’s really not a huge deal. It’s just different.

I don’t have photos of the new place yet because we’re still settling in. There are books and boxes and bags of stuff in various  out-of-the-way places waiting for furniture to organize them. Maybe next week we’ll have photos? We’ll see.

One of the things I’m growing accustomed to and am rather enjoying is not having Internet access in the apartment. We get it in the club room downstairs, but not in our apartment. It wasn’t until the last two weeks that I realized how much time I had spent idling away the hours on Facebook, instant messanger, and on other web haunts. I’ve read more. I’ve knit more. I’ve spent more time planning, and organizing, and goal setting. Heck, I’ve even spent more time exercising! I’ll take it.

Speaking of exercising, I have absolutely NO excuse anymore for not getting my butt in gear 5x a week or more. Our building has a whole, fully stocked, fitness center. I’ve been focusing on weight training and getting my endurance for running back. When I get to a place where I won’t feel wholly embarrassed to share what I’ve been doing, I will. I didn’t realize how quickly I got squidgy around the edges. It won’t last, though, I’m too determined and motivated after going to my 10-year reunion for that.

Seriously, I didn’t realize how much blogworthy stuff I’ve been up to until I sat down to write.

While in Maine this weekend for my class reunion, we stopped in to Purl Diva in Brunswick where I picked up materials for two new projects:  Noro Striped Scarf for Gabe, and some mohair for some undetermined project for me. I tend to buy fiber I like and figure out what to do with it later. I’ve come up with some great projects that way.

I started the scarf and am poking around for patterns and inspiration for the mohair. All while enjoying being in my new home and living with Gabe.

Bits and Pieces

cozied up at home

I feel like writing today. It’s been a while.

It’s a chilly, grey, rainy day here on the north shore and my thoughts have turned to warmth and comfort. I pulled out a sweater from the tub I hauled down to the basement a month ago, slipped into some jeans, wrapped a scarf around my neck and settled into a book first thing this morning. It has been a while since the house has been quiet like this for quiet reflection and reading. I sipped on coffee made with lowfat milk and honey in my new Emerson mug. Perfect.

the house I rented in Maine

new transitions

My thoughts drifted back to autumns and winters past, the little comforts for chill days, and how different my present is, and how much greater the difference will be in five weeks. I went from renting a house in rural Maine were I chopped and split and hauled my own fire wood to soon living in an apartment building in the up-and-coming part of Boston with amenities I never dreamed of having at my finger tips. Worlds apart.

the roof deck of my new home

In Maine, I had organic farms and farm stands a few streets away, chickens in my back yard that ate bugs off my herbs and vegetables, and fruit trees. I was blessed with an abundance of food that could easily be traced to its roots. Boston has Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and farmers’ markets, too, but it’s different. I’m not sure which I preferred. Maine was wonderful, but living in Boston where I will be commuting to gather groceries by means of public transit will be a new and interesting experience. Maintaining my organic, green, healthy lifestyle in 750 square foot apartment in Boston has given me a new focus for blog writing.

I look forward to the new experience of getting on the silver line and having time to think and observe while going to gather food. I look forward to the bustling farmers’ market full of new and wonderful things. And I look forward to a new opportunity to start fresh and make more adjustments in my diet for a healthier life. This whole experience will be new. And I look forward to the challenges and opportunities it presents.


I curled up with The Eyre Affair, a novel on loan from my friend Jose. I’m working on zipping through so I can return it to him at his farewell party in two weeks. I inadvertently slammed the book when I last saw him at a gaming event by saying something to the effect of I’m in the middle of a bunch of books right now and haven’t had a chance to finish it yet to which he replied something to the effect of so there are a bunch of books you like better than this one. So I’m trying to make up for it by actually finishing the book and coming up with an honest review of it.

I’ve been in a book gathering mood of late and have picked up the first four books of The Dark Tower, of which I’m in the middle of book two, an annotated complete works of Milton, the Divine Comedy, and the new instant classics of Little Women and Werewolves as well as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I’ll never have enough books. I’m doomed to living in a book-lined home.

hand and home crafts

Nothing much going on with needle crafts such as cross-stitching or knitting. Per usual, I have a ton of UFOs sitting around that need some attention. The hexacomb cardigan has been set aside until I have an opportunity to fix some errors using EZ’s “no tears” method. The hexacomb pattern became a spiral when I was under the influence of Vicodin. I haven’t had the spirit to fix it since I discovered the error.

gaming and geekery

I picked up copies of Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy XII this weekend. I look forward to settling in and playing them through this summer. I also picked up the first volume of some comics:  Lenore, The Wizard of Oz, and The Dark Tower. I cannot wait to purchase the whole of each.

That’s what I’m up to and some of what I’ve been thinking about. I hope all is well with you!

Much love. Black Sheep.

One Goal. One Purpose. One Mind.

I spend a lot of time thinking about self-improvement, eco-ethical decisions, and how to best make every day better than the one before for me and those in my life and community. This past month, starting on my birthday, I began meditating and journaling on the year past and the year to come in preparation for my new year resolutions. And this year, I have just one goal. Just one.

Be mindful.

Of my emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical well being. Of my relationships. Of my impact on my community. Of my impact on the planet.

One goal. Multiple beneficiaries.

This one goal breaks down into many little steps. I am taking one small step in January that I hope will be the foundation:  to meditate and stretch every morning before I do anything else. I haven’t thought out the steps for the rest of the year. I figure that will come with the meditation and daily mantras.


I took this photo when I first moved here.

What a brave little flower growing alone by this house surrounded by cement.

I’m feeling a helluva lot better. I was in a pretty severe funk this past week. Got caught up in the past and forgot that although this stuff is pretty dark and severe, I still have a choice.

I can choose to be brave. I can choose to be positive. I can choose to be different.

To the Future!

"Lonely Horizon" by Adib Roy (Flickr)

"Lonely Horizon" by Adib Roy (Flickr)

I’ve been focused on the past a lot lately. While it is good to be reflective and aware, it is not good to waste today on yesterday when tomorrow is on the horizon.

I am master of this ship. I am captain of my soul. Time to get a grip.

In the past, I’ve tried a lot of goal setting and achievement strategies to varying degrees of success. The one I liked and was most fascinated by was the 101 in 1,001 days project. I began this challenge two years ago and let it fall by the wayside. I’m going to find my old list, dust it off, clean it up, and get cracking!

(Thanks for the kick in the arse, Am!)


Looking at my desk and walls reminds me of an art piece displayed in Lord Hall at UMaine created by Yvette Tardiff a few years ago:  a round kitchen table full of espresso cups with varying levels of fullness, with a wall full of sticky-notes behind it. I don’t remember the title of the piece, but it was something along the lines of “American Dream”.

I remember standing there staring at the installation and thinking:  Damn. That’s me.

It still is.

My desk is full of tea mugs that need to find their way to the kitchen and my desk, walls, and planner are full of sticky-notes reminding me of things I need to do.

What is the American dream to you? I asked a group of students this once as part of a unit on The Great Gatsby. I got a range of answers, but each one included being happy and healthy as part of it. It never occurred to me, until now, to examine my personal dream and how close I am to achieving it.

When I was in high school, and a half-hearted at best practicing Mormon, my dream was to have a modest home with a door open to the community, a bottom-less cookie jar, a few dogs, a cat, and lots of people to love coming and going throughout the day and year. This vision of life included being married, having a handful of kids, and being completely immersed in family life.

And thinking about it now, my vision hasn’t changed that much. I still want that modest home with a door open to the community, a bottom-less cookie jar, a few dogs, a cat, and lots of people to love. Unfortunately, the kids part won’t happen, at least not out of my body without serious intervention that is not certain to work.

A few months ago, after experiencing serious pain in my pelvic region for several days straight, I called my doctor in Maine. I told him what I was experiencing and asked for a reference closer to me in the North Shore area. I ended up spending a few days in southern Maine being poked and prodded and imaged. As if I wasn’t already sore enough. But it was necessary.

I waited and waited and finally the results came in:  between cyclical ovarian cysts from the time I was 14 and the damage my reproductive organs sustained from repeated sexual assault, I am unable to have kids. The pain was from a cyst that burst through years and years of scar tissue build-up. My organs are too scarred up to become pregnant without medical assistance. And the PTSD would make being pregnant and giving birth likely to change the chemistry of any child born of my body.

Even though I had already come to (mostly) decide I didn’t want children anyway (I’ll get to that later), having the choice taken away from me due to years of assault and a medical condition that often develops in people who have been sexually assaulted hurts.

I am still dealing with it.

And more than that. I have been feeling hurt and angry the last week because I am remembering what happened and realizing just how much it has affected me and how much it continues to affect me. How much someone else’s actions has changed how my brain and body functions, and how much has been taken away.

Looking around at these sticky-notes full of reminders and mugs of tea makes me wonder how close I am to that dream, and how far I have to go to overcome and tame these demons to get there.

What do you want?

image from ^riza^ on flickr

image from ^riza^ on flickr

Ever since the separation took place, I’ve been asking myself, and have been asked, “what do you want?”

I keep answering, “I don’t know.”

That’s always been my answer though. I want everything, but nothing. I want something but am not sure what it is.

I realized today that I do know what I want, I’ve always wanted it, and it’s very simple.

I want to be appreciated, loved, and safe. That’s really it. Those are the mountains.

The hills of what I want are:  to be the best English teacher I can be; find a community to settle down in that supports me as a person and as a professional; live in one place for more than 2 years (it would be a record!), and by in one place, I mean in one home; to travel within and without the U. S.; to develop my spirituality and deepen my practice; to become a healer; to publish one of the many novels I’ve written; to continue to set and obtain new goals; to be married to someone who wants to be married to me.

The stones of what I want are:  to work through my list of books to read; to knit and knit some more; to increase my running ability; to get into better shape; to find a place to live this summer after I obtain a new teaching position; to settle in and make my new place my home; to have a gun dog named Adelaide, Ade for short; to have a cat named Niea.

I’m taking it one day at a time and one step at a time. I’m making sure to show the loved ones in my life how much they mean to me by word and deed. And I’m trying to make sure I don’t slide backwards like I keep wanting to do.

“Go back?” [s]he thought. “No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible. Go forward? The only thing to do. On we go!” So up [s]he got.

– Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit, ch. 5.

(The image in today’s post is from ^riza^’s photostream on Flickr.)

Star Gazing

When I was in 8th grade the song Love Rollercoaster came out by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It was the tail-end of the year. We were full of energy and hormones. We thought we were in love with boys as we did the wave in gym class singing off tune waiting for everyone to finish changing in the locker room. If I only knew how much of a rollercoaster love, and life!, really is back then I may have done things differently. BUT that’s what life is all about now, isn’t it.

I came home today in a pisser of a mood to begin with. I’ve had a tough week at work and I’ve been getting worn out and worn down with everything:  keeping my chin up at a school I won’t be returning to in the fall, seeking new employment, seeking summer employment, seeking summer lodging, seeking long-term lodging, and ending my first real relationship which just also happens to double-dip as it’s also a divorce. Yep, just a few things going on.

So, like I was saying, I came home in a pisser of a mood and sat around my room for a bit tooling around on Facebook and Twitter per usual when I was suddenly struck with the desire to listen to this song from the Disney movie Pete’s DragonCandle on the Water. I YouTube’d it and was soon belting it out right along with the video clip. I played it over and over and over. It’s beautiful, it really is. And then, what the hell! I thought. I just started looking up all the songs from the movie. It is one of my favorites from childhood, after all. Why not cheer myself up with the fun songs I know by heart?

flowers from my garden

flowers from my garden

Soon I was dancing around my room like a fool to Brazzle Dazzle Day (love that song) and then ran outdoors, cut a bunch of daffodils and tulips, brought them in, and played it over again. And again.

I soon found I Love You, Too and that did me in. A verse into the song I was sobbing. I was sobbing because the weight of everything going on hit me full force. I had this. I have a person I feel this way about and I walked away. I smashed and bloodied my nose on the brick wall of reality. In desperate need to get away, I called Amy and then got in my car and drove to her place. She wasn’t home. I sat and cried alone in my car for 20 minutes. Then I pulled out of her driveway, determined to grab this bull by the horns and make ‘im mind, and started towards home.

Fate really loves me this week because she slammed me, again, against that brick wall. I was driving along the lake when Magdalena by A Perfect Circle came on the radio:  our song. I barely missed two trees and avoided the lake by 3 feet.

the lake I frequent and nearly landed in today

the lake I frequent and nearly landed in today

I managed to drive to the parking lot by the lake, secure a parking space, and drag myself to a bench. And there I sat, for an hour, sobbing.

a week ago, but roughly the same time of day as todays visit

a week ago, but roughly the same time of day as today's visit

I was letting all the anger and resentment and guilt and shame and weariness and loss out. I totally thought I was okay; I totally thought that I had my life under control a week ago. I filled out applications for a second job, I talked to Amy about living with her elderly neighbor, I wrote down a list of schools I wanted to apply to on top of the applications I already have out, and I was running every day, practicing yoga everyday, and not eating so I was losing weight. I felt fabulous.

Then it crashed. I crashed. But not hopelessly. Not permanently. It’s a different kind of crash than I’ve ever had before. It was a crash of reality. It was a crash of normalcy. It was a crash of moving to a new stage of the grieving process.

After spending an hour on the bench looking out over the water, sobbing, and feeling the cold wind on my skin through my thin shirt and low-riding jeans, I felt a little better. I felt real; sad; but real. Upset; but real. Lonely; but real.

I managed to drive home without any major upsets (ie driving off the road) and plopped down in my blue reading chair I dragged up to my room a week ago during my mad dash to make life perfect. And there I sobbed, again. And it didn’t stop for a long time.

Again I called Amy. And this time she answered. And she listened to me for a while on the phone, and then she came over and plopped on my bed with me and listened some more. I talked out all the frustrations and the anger and the disappointments I’ve experienced over the course of my relationship and my career; everything that led up to this present moment. She listened, and then she said:

“Okay, I’m going to psychoanalyze you. I’ve known you long enough that I think I can. You’re finally normal, Jen. You used to not be. You used to be a faker, but you’re not anymore. You used to be the messed up person with a messed up childhood, but you’re not anymore. You’re normal now. Everything you’ve told me is normal.”

And she’s right. She continued:

“You are also a perfectionist. You feel guilty about leaving this marriage because you can’t make it perfect and that irks you. But it’s okay. It’s okay to quit when you’re not quitting because you give up, you’re quitting because you have good reasons and it’ll make your life better.”

And again, she’s right. Amy, you’ve always been right. Thanks!

She also brought to light what I failed to remember:  I’m grieving! I just lost the most important person in my life, I don’t have a career-job lined up yet, and I’m moving to who-knows-where, only three of the ten biggest stresses in life.

The conclusion Amy and I came to tonight is that I am now essentially starting from scratch. My life burned down around me. I have no ties or long-term commitments. But I have goals and dreams.

As the Zen poet Masahide wrote:

Barn’s burnt down —
I can see the moon.

I am truly starting out on the journey of a lifetime and my blog title has new and deeper meaning.