Archive for December, 2011

Years come and go and like with many that have rolled around lately this year I can’t tell which I dislike the most: the coming or the going.

New Year’s Eve is a turning point and I can almost not remember the last time I didn’t spend a portion of the event not engaging in an internal debate over what was more depressing — the year I just went through or the one I’m facing. (I know that’s a lot of negatives, but ’tis the season … )

Since none of my children died in 2011, it certainly wasn’t the worst I’ve seen, but there wasn’t much else to rejoice over. For the most part it’s been a 365-day slog with far-too-regular, far-too-often-futile attempts at dodging incoming shit asteroids.

Yep. So much like last year that I could just repost the blog I wrote as 2010 closed out, but I’m just that much older and that much more jaded, so less inclined to end on the up-note I managed then.

One more year of the disappointment parade has me beat to a pulp. Having managed to whip up anticipation of breakthroughs and opportunities to grab a brass ring or two, in retrospect I have to wonder how any glimmer of optimism ever managed to reflect off dreary, dull surfaces in the first place. How flickers of hope appeared in such soggy, dismal ground is a mystery.

I know. I know. New beginnings … anything’s possible … if I set my mind to it … blah, blah, blah … or as Anne Lamott put it: Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.

Experience, however, has me turn more toward Nietzshe when it comes to hope:

In reality, hope is the worst of all evils, because it prolongs man’s torments.
~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Since my dawns are usually accompanied by anxiety, dread and a case of the shakes that lets me know I am, indeed, awake, if I were to hold some hope somewhere I would like it to take more the shape of a good night’s sleep, and prolonging torments sounds less constructive than admitting defeat.

I’m tired, you see: tired of working my ass off for zero return; tired of trying to mold a world around me that refuses to go anything but pear-shaped; tired of convincing myself a better day is in the making only to take another load of shit to the head; tired of pretending there’s anything within my control to change for the positive. Tired to the point of no longer being able to work up a head of steam or care enough about anything to form an opinion worth writing about.

Plans turn to dust at my feet, so I now just duck and cover as best I can while working on a “don’t give a shit” stance that might at least allow me to keep standing between hits. It’s not a case of damned-if-you-do/damned-if-you-don’t because there’s little I have options to either do or don’t do.

One thing I can and do do is try to find the lessons in this life and own up to my role in my demise. No doubt about it, I’ve made some crappy choices, been too harsh, too opinionated, too defensive. I’ve neglected relationships that should have been cultivated and cultivated some that didn’t deserve the efforts. I have a sharp tongue that defensively masks a damaged heart and forces distance that would be better bridged. I harbor resentments and forget nothing, so carry toxins and use them as excuses. Although generous with joy, I am selfish with misery, a trait that is a setup for loneliness. I am intolerant, short-fused and overly-impressed with my propensity to be right.

Dwelling on my faults, as active a venture as that is, does little to give hope, however, as I don’t see the basic me changing much in the time I have left. I do my best to practice kindness, to contribute in positive ways, to keep my fucking mouth shut, but am nonetheless still subject to the knee-jerk reflexes of a lifetime.

Of course, it’s not all bad. Sam and Cj keep me going, giving good reason to get up, get moving and put on a happy face. They keep me laughing on the outside as I agonize over how to keep them motivated, happy and secure, pay their school fees, provide for their futures and answer all the questions I have answers to as Mark disappears into his new life and adds to their long list of losses. They are what make regrets impossible and my constant reminder that things do happen for a reason.

Looking backward down my path, it does all make sense, one-thing-leading-to-another-to-another-to-here, and there’s not one thing I would change as I’d fear altering the present reality. But that doesn’t mean this reality is any less sucky on a day-to-day, year-by-year basis or that I’m any less tired or scared or worried.

Any more questions on why I haven’t been writing here much? Whiny poor-me-life-sucks posts bore the shit out of me, especially when they’re written by me, and since I have little else to say I’m shutting up as I’m shutting down.

If I had hope left, I’d pump it up about now, grab at my disintegrated bootstraps and yank. As it is, however, I’ll keep an eye out for a set of jangling keys to divert me from my funk and call that ringing in the New Year.

As for hope, this is about the best I can do …

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
~T.S. Eliot

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It’s the Day Before Christmas and the Tenrec is Stirring

It’s the day before Christmas
and the house is a wreck
The kids are excited
like dogs, cat and tenrec
The tortoise is unfazed
and Ryan’s asleep
and I’m hoping like crazy
the turkey will keep.

There’s a breeze in the palm trees
some waves in the ocean
Yet, no matter how normal,
the kids have a notion
that tomorrow is special
(I need some of their potion!)

The tree does it’s spinning
all covered in bobs
and tomorrow we’re dinning
on veranda with mobs
of friends from all places —
from Texas to Perth —
and the hope is all faces
will beam forth with mirth

I’m missing the heck
out of everyone far
and hoping that someday
we’ll find we all are
within distance to share
holiday hugs and kissing
and all end up where
we can pause all this missing

So …
From all of us here
down in this hemisphere
Merry Christmas to you
that we hold very dear.
We miss you, we love you
We hope you are happy,
and know you all know
Christmas makes me sappy

Happy holidays!

With love from Sandra, Sam and Cj …

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Cj decorates ...

Christmas gifts being rather a big deal for 9-& 6-year olds, a top priority in the run-up to the holiday is getting some … gifts, that is. Wandering the maze that is Victoria’s huddled shops in search of anything that is age-appropriate and not complete crap that will fall apart on first use is one method employed.

Mail order from abroad is another, but unless one pulls this off sometime around August, the chance of much getting here before a new year dawns is slim, so I try to do my Christmas ordering … well … about August.

Family and friends living in the real world tend to put off their shopping until the 4th quarter of the year, often until even November or early December, thinking it worth the extra shit load of dosh they pay FedEx to make bloody sure the gifts arrive in time to make it under the tree. This year I know of at least five parcels sent at least two weeks ago, all dosed with the added cost of “priority” shipping, all with the naive hope that the Ex in FedEx doesn’t stand for EXcuse-us-for-being-total-incompetents.

Which brings me to a Seychelles Christmas tradition I “celebrated” today. It goes like this …

Yesterday a FedEx delivery guy had something with Sam’s name on it, but decided driving down my road was too much trouble, so he “delivered” to another Benoiton, asking them to pass it along to me. The passing happened this morning … the 23rd of December … which some may think is the end of the tale.


What was put into my hands was not Sam’s Christmas gift from his uncle, but rather a wad of papers saying Sam’s Christmas gift from his uncle had arrived in Seychelles, that the paperwork had been processed and that I was to take said wad of papers, drive to the airport cargo terminal and clear it through Customs — Customs having announced that they would close today at 11am … it being the Friday before Christmas and all.

Knowing that gifts from uncles are cool and that Sam would be pleased to find one under the tree on Christmas, I made the drive, then did the dance, the steps to which I know only too well after so many years here. It goes like this:

Step one: Find a place to park.
Step two: Stand in line at counter for 20 minutes.
Step three: Hand paperwork to woman behind glass (Probably bullet-proof.)
Step four: Have woman look at paper, then point to another line.
Step five: Stand in new line.
Step six: Wait 20 minutes.
Step seven: Hand paperwork to woman behind glass.
Step eight: Wait while woman eats from a takeaway box, looks at paper, rifles around other papers, chats with other people, does a calculation, fills out another paper, hands back the now-one-sheet-thicker stack of papers, then points to the line you had been in before.
Step nine: Stand in line for 20 minutes.
Step 10: Hand paper to woman behind glass, then pay 334 Seychelles Rupees (about $30 US) in import duty.
Step 11: Get receipt attached to pile of papers.
Step 12: Woman points to the line you just came from.
Step 13: Stand in line you’d just come from.
Step 14: Wait 20 minutes.
Step 15: Hand paper to woman behind glass.
Step 16: Wait while woman drinks a Coke, chats with other people, checks receipt that shows you’ve paid the import duty.
Step 17: Follow woman to cage where goods are stored.
Step 18: Wait 20 minutes while she rummages around every bloody parcel that’s arrived in the country over the past month while asking what yours looks like … and since it’s a gift you’ve never seen, you have no idea.
Step 19: Be handed a box.
Step 20: Take box, then follow woman back to counter where she goes back behind glass.
Step 21: Wait 20 minutes.
Step 22: Woman produces book you are to sign.
Step 23: Wait 20 minutes while woman looks through book for place where you are supposed to sign.
Step 25: Get the FUCK outta there with your parcel.

Piece of cake, heh?

So … Sam’s gift from his uncle is here. Cj’s, unfortunately, is not. It’s probably sitting in a huge pile of FedEx boxes that have come in over the past two weeks that have not been processed because those whose job it is to process them have been overwhelmed by the amount of work that needs doing, so have slowed the process to an imperceptible crawl.

The kids should have the rest of their gifts from abroad sometime in January, at which time I’ll get to do this all over again …

Merry Christmas!

(And people wonder why I’m not posting much these days … )

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