Down Deep

Maybe strong suggestions...
Maybe even strong suggestions…

I participate in a variety of groups on Facebook, with a variety of involvement. With some, I’m a bit of a lurker, others, I’m much  more active. Even have friends from some of these groups. They reflect my interests, or the interests of friends of mine, people who have asked me to like their pages so they have more traffic. Pretty normal, I should think. A few of the groups I’m involved with are personality type groups. They’re not a place to be tested or confirmed, really, just a place to review thoughts and to understand our world. People like to belong, to have a place that understands them, their thoughts, wants, dreams, fears, et cetera. Some find that only in the physical world, some only in the digital one. Most are somewhere in between. For me, there are a couple of communities that I can really only find online, because they’re not particularly common. One of those is this personality group, dedicated to the rationals, the NTs in Myers-Briggs parlance. As I’ve mentioned once or twice before, I’m of the subset INTP.

What that means, in brief, and with nowhere near enough nuance to be truly accurate, is I’m more likely to pick something apart to see how it works than to take someone else’s word for it. I spend quite a lot of time researching personalities. I’ve taken multiple personality tests, originally just to confirm, lately to test for accuracy before I recommend them. I know myself well enough to understand just how accurate this type truly is for me. I don’t define myself that way, nor do I define anyone else. I don’t do these tests to find out who I am or who others are; I do them to understand what might be, what could be, what is. I’m more than just four letters or three numbers or a couple of colors, just as anyone else is. We are individuals with free will, capable of incredible acts of kindness and evil, and misdirection, to others and to ourselves. Our minds are powerful, fascinating tools that should be nurtured, not abused, not shut down, not ignored, not trained to obey, but trained to think, to be your own person, to question, to answer, to wonder. How awful would it be if we could be so easily defined by a few questions? Boring! What these do is give me a starting point, a place to begin my information feast. As Auntie Mame* has said, “Life is a banquet, and most poor bastards are STARVING to death!”

Outwardly, there may not appear to be much emotion.
Outwardly, there may not appear to be much emotion.

In the rationals Facebook group, the leader has been throwing out a few things on empathy and being a highly-sensitive person (HSP). His comments implied to me that a person typed as INTP would be an unlikely choice for an HSP, something with which I disagreed. It rattled around in my head for a while, making me wonder – am I an exception, or are we really sensitive?

The typical definition for an INTP generally includes something along the lines of incapable of empathy, someone with questions about the world and how it works. One who’s province is math and science, rather than music and art. Someone who is emotionless, not dissimilar to Mr. Spock or any other Vulcan from Star Trek fame. Perhaps a more accurate one would be Data, the android from the same franchise (did I mention the predilection for science-fiction and fantasy?). Incapable of actually feeling emotion, his curiosity about humanity is well-established. Some even go so far as to paint INTPs as practically sociopaths, willing to step over anyone, caring about no one but themselves, disregarding the reactions of others to things they’ve said or done.

That’s simply not true. There are those who don’t really experience emotions strongly, surely, but from what I’ve seen, from many a bulletin board or forum where the INTPs – who generally do NOT like being the center of attention – gather to ask and answer sincere questions, it would appear that in fact, we have a rich emotional life – internally. Of course, I can speak only for myself from experience, and gleanings from the aforementioned forums, boards and blogs, but it seems to be a fairly common thread. Some are of the opinion that we don’t express often because we can’t – not that we don’t feel strong emotions, but that we don’t know how to express them adequately, so that the object of that expression understands. Then there are the emotional explosions.

This is where the highly-sensitive part comes in.

While the definition of a highly-sensitive person has more to do with the physical world, the emotional one can hit with the same force. Perhaps a better word to use would be ’empathy.’ That seems to be the greatest source of the emotional overflow, the empathy. From what I’ve seen, from what I’ve learned firsthand, we can be highly empathetic. In a room with strong emotions – positive or negative – we can be hit with reactions of others. Since we don’t tend to outwardly express our own feelings, that builds up, overwhelms, and eventually boils over. What seems to be an uncharacteristic outburst over something that doesn’t seem to deserve such a strong reaction could well just be a reaction to the straw, the last straw, the straw that broke the camel’s back. I’ve not fully analyzed it myself, oddly, but I’ve read where that may be a need to not just step away, but to understand what happened. It’s a need to get back to the strength of rationality and step away from the weakness of emotion. No, I’m not saying one is better than the other; for some people, the emotion is the strength, and the rationality is the weakness. So it would seem that rather than lacking empathy, we may have a bit too much. I know whenever I watch someone getting injured in a video – say, someone slipping on ice – I get a sharp twinge in the location that was hurt. Every time, even when I expect it. It doesn’t have to be a major injury. It’s not the same as pain, but it is the sense that something is wrong, something has been injured. Kinda hard to explain if you don’t feel it. This is something that empathetic people may experience, that sociopaths may not.

There’s more. One of the questions on the quiz asks if art and music create strong emotions. They do. Always have. From what I’ve read, that’s not all that uncommon among the INTP crowd. Again, feeling and expressing do not always go together. I don’t startle easily, but I’ve always been sensitive to lights and sounds, textures, and the aforementioned high-emotion moments. Thunderstorms and fireworks used to make me cry. Not because they scared me (okay, thunderstorms did make me a little nervous), but because they HURT! I would experience physical pain from the percussion of the thunder, the explosion of the firework, and the brightness of lightning or the sparkling flares in the sky. Growing up, I could feel the barometric pressure drop. I’ve known others who could, as well as those who thought we were making things up. I could smell subtle scents that might mean something is infected or someone is near, because of the way their coat smells after walking outside in the cold. No, not making that up. I hear things many others don’t. I smell things others don’t. I feel subtle differences in texture in clothes and food – can’t really handle eating beans, for instance, even refried and mixed with meat. I can feel the texture, without being told it’s in there. Mushrooms just gross me out, but if I don’t know they’re there, I’ll eat them.

I don’t know if those things are common in the INTP world. The empathy thing appears to be more common than thought by professionals, outsiders looking in.

Ault Spring_0222b
Just a little hint of spring, a promise of things to come.

_________________________

*From the book, not the musical with Rosalind Russell – which I adored – that got paraphrased because apparently audiences were pure then. Loved the book, too. Not a huge fan of the one with Bea Arthur. Just didn’t seem right somehow.

Curious? If you think you can be honest with yourself, you may want to take this test to determine if you might be a highly-sensitive person. It gives you some idea what it means.

Longer

Finally, there will be more daylight than dark from now until September. Spring has sprung; I can wear white now. Thursday did make it to 70 – the clock/thermometer/bulletin board at the Lutheran church down the road said it was 73. All I know is it was gorgeous, and I flipped up the sun roof on my poor little beat-up car. Even more beat-up than it should be. I *know* my car has been hit by people coming out of that church across the street, more than once. But no one does anything about it because it’s not a pretty car. Really needs a new driver’s-side door. And door handle on the passenger side. And probably fuses, since my headlights and cigarette lighter (it’s a 15-year-old car) don’t really work. My driver-side regular and passenger-side high beam work fine – I figure it’s a fuse because of that. I can’t wait until I can finally replace it. That car has been with me for a very long time, and I do appreciate it, but there are so many things that need to be fixed, it’s scrap to me, too. Not yet. Soon. Not soon enough. And really, not unless I can park somewhere else on Wednesdays and Sundays, and any other day they have some event that fills up the parking lot with people who have no idea how long their cars really are.

Ault Spring_0051a
Antique roses amid the dead leaves of last year

Still, Thursday was warm. Yesterday, the first full day of spring, was less-warm, but still nice. Sunny all day. Sunny enough and nice enough that I finally went out with my camera. Even though I’ve been having trouble with the walking thing (knee, feet – probably should see someone about that, since it’s becoming a ‘quality of life’ issue), I couldn’t pass up the chance. I had an idea –  I wanted to shoot something that showed the new season beginning. That meant I needed greenery. Or rather, future greenery. Had to go to a park. I stayed a bit longer than I planned, but I think I found what I wanted.

Other than that, work, stressful, me, tired, but finally not sick, and still trying to figure out what I’m going to do about my money for the next several months. I have a couple of ideas, it’s just a matter of making them come true. I did realize yesterday that, with my current physical condition, being a photographer full-time, doing it the way I want, taking the kind of photos I want, is not realistic. I can’t stand for extended periods of time, walking down stairs is excruciating, and walking up stairs is a little unnerving (knee). Quality-of-life issue. Kinda don’t want to deal with that. For the feet, there might not be anything that can be done; for the knee, it might mean surgery. Dodged that bullet before, but I don’t think I’ll be able to for much longer. Wear shoes that fit and support properly – your feet will thank you. Granted, I have some other pre-existing issues that make all that worse, but still. Comfortable, proper support.

Click to see the entire series. The first is actually the last panel shown.
2nd panel of native Jim Borgman’s strip comparing east and west Cincinnati to east and west Berlin.

Speaking of, this morning there was a workshop from someone in the business; she spoke about the business end of everything. I got up, got in the shower, got directions, skipped breakfast because I was running late (surprise) and headed  out. The workshop was on the west side of town. I live on the east side. Now, for those not from this area, that doesn’t seem to be such a big deal. It kinda is. Here’s a forum thread with more details for you, if you’re curious. Basically, it means that once I cross Vine street, I’m lost. Completely. Seriously. Wander around the Rockies, finding multiple routes from Denver to Estes Park? No problem. Get from Oakley (east) to Price Hill (west)? Maybe. After five tries. Yeah, that happened. Anyway, today I had to make my way to Price Hill for this workshop. I found directions and took careful note of the route. Fortunately, I have friends in Price Hill who, when I had more energy at my disposal, I would watch football with. Still do, just not as often as I’d like. Do other things, too, but those didn’t necessarily happen at their house. Simple directions, really, it involves one turn after I get off I-71. One. Missed it four times. I call it my east-side mental block.

Anyway, because of that, I already had some idea where I was going. What I forgot, and what Google didn’t take into consideration, was the construction/re-construction of the 6th Street Viaduct. I liked the old one. Sure, it was outdated and probably eroded enough that spending any time underneath it was tempting death, but it was neat. Plus, I knew how to get where I wanted to go. That route changed because of the construction. I had to learn a slightly different route. By that point, I’d been a couple more places over there, so it wasn’t quite so hopeless. Still got lost twice – that’s an improvement, right? Since the last time I’d been that way, the route had changed yet again; the directions I was given fit the previous route, not the current one. I was on my own. I had a choice to make – turn around and go home, or try to find an alternate route? I decided – I was looking for State Avenue, and by golly, I was going to find it!

Mt Echo Pavilion
Pavilion in Mt Echo, on the west side. Took me forever to figure out how to get here, even though I passed it EVERY SINGLE TIME I visited my friends.
I’m not proud.

I wandered the hills of the west, up and down, around curves, past homes perched precariously on a spit of land a mountain goat would hesitate to climb. High-traffic roads that reminded me of driving up Pikes Peak, except without the marmosets and altitude sickness, came at me one after another. I found myself in Delhi, in Westwood, in Western Hills, traversing the wilds of Lower Price Hill, East Price Hill, and regular old Price Hill. My gas gauge showed that soon, I would have to make a decision – I had enough to get myself home, of course, but I had to find a way to get there. Or, press on. Driving down Queen City Avenue, a street on which I’d accidentally landed dozens of times, quickly turning around because I knew I was in a foreign land. Once I even stopped for food and fuel. The language difference was minor, thankfully.

Right, so I was driving on Queen City when I saw a street I recognized – Grand Avenue! I was saved! Except I didn’t recognize it in time, so I drove right past it. I knew if I kept going the direction I was, I would eventually find my way home. The river was somewhere over there; as long as it was on my right, I would be fine. I patiently waited for the light to change. I could sense the animosity from the other cars. Even though mine was in far worse shape than anything I’d seen, I think they knew I was from the other side of Vine. I refused to make eye contact – eye contact means you are prepared to engage the enemy, and I wasn’t. This was their home turf. Just as I was ready to call it quits, I saw it – the road sign pointing to my salvation, the exit to State Avenue. Relief washed over me. This, I could do. I got off the viaduct and headed for my salvation. I wasn’t too terribly late yet, but I wasn’t there, either. Now, it was just a matter of pride. Home-free, I made my way up Glenway (if you want to practice your manual-transmission driving, c’mon to the western side of Cincinnati – you’ll get really good), avoiding parked cars, bouncing along the ruts and repairs and potholes that our harsh winter has left all over town. The city threw another detour at me, but I stood firm, following the signs and finding myself exactly where I intended to be. At last, finding myself in less-unfamiliar territory, I reached my destination.

Nearly ten o’clock, I was late; perhaps too late, really, to join. I looked for the address on the houses. Peering through my pockmarked windshield, the sun’s glare made it difficult. I made two trips up and down that street, looking at the ancient homes perched on their hilltops, long concrete staircases leading to their porches. I couldn’t figure out which was really the one I wanted – by that point, I was tired, and probably weak from hunger. I had found the street I was looking for. I had not found the house. Close enough. I left and went to breakfast, where I dropped my iPad just as I was paying my bill. Won’t turn on now. Yay.

Last Day

These things are all over the place. More on the east side than the west.
These things are all over the place, making their way west slowly but surely.

This winter has been miserable. I think most of the continental US would agree, it’s been a bit of a nightmare. I’ve been fighting various illnesses since December, like many others at work and on my Facebook page. I’ve gotten very comfortable driving in hilly ice, though, so there’s that. Who needs 4-wheel drive? Well, if I were a skier and still in Colorado, I would, but I’m not, so I don’t. Tomorrow is one of my favorite days of the year, the first (astronomical) day of spring! Songbirds start migrating back this way, singing at 5:30 in the morning just outside my window, Canada geese congregate on the field by my workplace, honking away, the little Lazarus lizards that some kid brought back from Italy because they were cute come out from their little hiding places to sun themselves. I didn’t see a whole lot of them last summer, but in 2011 and 2012, every time I walked up my front steps, on a sunny day, there was at least one scurrying away. Kinda missed seeing them, if I’m honest. I was a little concerned that maybe the feral cats around here found them a tasty treat. Sure, that’s probably the case for some, but I hope not all. They eat a lot of bugs, after all.

Somewhere, a tree has the beginnings of new spring leaves. Somewhere, a daffodil is working its way through the soil. Somewhere, light green shoots are pushing their way up past the dead, dry grass that should have been cut in October. Never managed to get schedules together, and I don’t have my own mower. Way too complicated to get it in and out of my garage even if I did. So, I have to find someone to mow it periodically. Today when I left work, it was raining. By the time I got to my car, it had stopped, and the sun was shining. Very spring-like weather, I thought. Of course, the other spring-like weather includes sirens and hanging out in the basement or bathroom until whatever it is has passed, hoping the batteries in your radio and your flashlight hold out. I’m in the city, in the city limits, so I don’t generally have to deal with that all too often, thankfully. My friends in some of the suburbs, though, aren’t always so lucky.

Bradford Pear
Spring blossoms from last year

Spring. Tomorrow. The weather is even going to cooperate a little. Tonight’s low will be close to freezing, which sounds horrible but, when compared to highs of 19 just a couple weeks ago, is not so bad. Saturday, I’ll do laundry. Okay, I’ll probably actually do it Sunday, and spend Saturday talking myself into leaving the house with my camera. Not sure how far I’ll go or for how long, ‘cuz the whole walking thing is a bit more challenging than it ought to be, but a good stretch will help. Maybe a wander along the river? A bit short on greenery, but it is a nice walk. Plus, I can give the whistle grove at the National Steamboat monument another try.

Tomorrow, though, the first day of spring, I will go to work, I will come home, I will look around my nearly-empty freezer and try to figure out what’s for dinner, and I will go to my choir rehearsal. It’ll be a nice day, I’ve decided. Things have straightened out a bit at work, so that’s not as stressful as it has been. And it is warming up. And, this nasty cold seems to be going away bit by bit. Once the weather gets a little more consistent, maybe I’ll have more than a week where I feel well. It could happen.

Keeping it short again. I had other plans this evening that didn’t pan out, so I actually hadn’t planned on a post at all.

Afternoon Out 160a1
Okay, one more from a previous spring.

Wonders

Not really sure what brought this about, but I’ve been a bit on the maudlin side lately, feeling old and left behind at times, wondering where the time went. It strikes me, sometimes, how much I’ve seen, how much has changed in the past thirty years. This time of year usually gets to me that way. Not so much for the memories of mom, but other memories that I – and everyone else in this area – have not been allowed to forget.

April 3 and 4, 1974. Nearly 150 confirmed tornadoes, with a significant number at F4 and F5.
April 3 and 4, 1974. Nearly 150 confirmed tornadoes, with a significant number at F4 and F5.

Just under three weeks from now will be an anniversary. April 3-4, 1974, the Super Outbreak that once held the record for confirmed tornadoes in a 24-hour period. It’s a tricky distinction, since it was that event that helped tornado detection and understanding improve dramatically. There could well have been many more than the 148 confirmed funnels; there’s no real way to know. Forty years ago, there wasn’t a whole lot of technology to help detect tornadoes. The warning systems in place weren’t the most reliable, and not a whole lot of people knew what to do when a tornado threatened. Even after, a few of the myths persisted, like opening all the windows in your house to keep it from imploding. If your house were really that air-tight, you wouldn’t be able to live in it, since there wouldn’t be enough circulation of fresh air. There’s nothing you’d be able to do to keep your home from being destroyed if a tornado – or straight-line winds – hits it, so just worry about getting to cover instead.

Forty years is a long time; a lot can happen. A lot can happen in just ten years for that matter. Portable computers have existed for decades (for a given definition of ‘portable‘), as has the internet. Working remotely has been a thing for quite some time. Connecting remotely, that’s a little different. It’s changed a bit. Working at McDonald’s in 2004, just ten years ago, could be done, but sending whatever work you’d just done into the office from there, not so much. I have two tablets, an Android and an iPad. Bit of luck, really, otherwise I’d have neither. Still, I have two thin computers capable of incredible feats of engineering. I can play games on them, I can send emails, I can keep up on my all-important Facebook posts, and I can do all that wirelessly from McDonald’s, on something that fits in my purse. Sometimes, while I’m trying to figure out what candy combination will help me win the board, or taking a picture of my friends while we’re all out and posting it to my page, it hits me that I’m holding something more powerful than the computers that sent men into space in the 60s. Something that had been imagined, almost fifty years ago, but didn’t exist. The technology needed – the potential for the technology needed – didn’t exist until the microprocessor was developed over 40 years ago. Technology moved forward, processors got smaller and more powerful, computers got more portable. Next thing you know, I’m holding something only dreamed of in 1987, when Star Trek: The Next Generation showed a tablet-like computer. It still can’t do everything my desktop can do, but it’s coming.

Star Trek inspired it.
Star Trek inspired it.

Twenty-five years ago, the World Wide Web was born. This past Wednesday, in fact, which was my initial inspiration for this post. Not the internet – that’s older than I am – but the world wide web, the thing that required the WWW before websites. Before that, while one could get online and wander around a bit, it wasn’t all that easy to navigate. Even after the advent and acceptance of the GUI (Graphical User Interface, first on Apple/Macintosh, then on IBM clones), the internet was a difficult place to be for Joe Average. Then along comes the World Wide Web. Suddenly, there were links and pictures, and consistent addresses for pages. Organization was still a bit of a challenge; you still had to know where you wanted to go. A few years later came the first search engines, intending to organize the internet and make it more useable. The first ones came about in 1993. I must admit, even though I was online in those early days, I can’t remember using some of the very first search engines. I do remember the early days of Yahoo, and how complicated it was to use – except at the time, it was a big deal, and it did make it easier to find what I was looking for. Unfortunately for my sleeping time, one of the things I found was MUDs (Multi-User Dimensions, ancestor to MMORPGs). Ate up a lot of time. A little too much time, if I’m honest. It wasn’t that unusual for me to sit down at my computer after work and not really move until it was time to get up for work. After one particular 48-hour marathon, I realized I needed to not do that anymore.

Still, being able to have conversations – real-time conversations – with people from all over the world was heady stuff.

Thirty years ago, the cell phone was still new and only for the wealthy. And it was huge. The definition of ‘portable’ was, again, relative. The DynaTac had come out the previous year (the $4,000 Brick), allowing people to make calls from outside of their cars. Granted, it took more than a day to recharge, but it was the thought that counted. Thirty-five years ago, I had microwave popcorn. It had to be frozen or refrigerated, I don’t remember which, but it was pretty neat. Now, I actually make my popcorn on the stove. Fewer chemicals, same length of time, and I can add what I want, in the amount I want. And forty years ago, I experienced an event that left me with nightmares well into my thirties.

Doors opened when you stepped on a mat when I was a kid. Then the sensors became little cameras that only required a person to walk by. There are even doors that only keep the elements out, and bugs with a gush of air. I saw a lot of those in Colorado, where the weather was a bit more cooperative and better suited for that. Music went from wax cylinders to vinyl disks to laser -cut disks and finally electrical impulses downloaded from a server somewhere. Movies that once required a projector now fit on a small disk that could have a movie on one or both sides, that fits in any computer with a DVD drive, in a format that does not easily degrade. I don’t have one (yet – I’ll have to give in eventually), but there are phones that make calls and search the internet, play games and update social media, and even tell you where you are. The first successful astronauts didn’t have anything so powerful.

Bridal Workshop - Amanda 148c
What, like I wasn’t going to sneak one in?

I have a camera that takes pictures and puts them on a card the size of a postage stamp. Depending on the quality of the photo and the storage size of the card, I can store thousands of pictures on that one little card. I have a computer monitor that gives me a crisp, clear view of the photos I’ve taken, and a computer that allows me to manipulate those photos, with a program that allows me to put people into places they’ve never actually been. I can use my tablets to entertain myself while I’m out, especially since so many places have wifi these days, to play games to update my social media, to view webpages or to read a book I got from the library at 2 am. If I wanted to get something but didn’t feel like leaving the house, I could quite possibly order it from my desk. I can check my bank account and pay bills any time I want.

It’s interesting to me how quickly we take all that for granted.

Still Around

I had a great post planned, all sorts of things I was going to do, plans for a topic, everything. Then it was suddenly 8:30 at night, and I realized I was just too not here to write. Saturday, I didn’t do much of anything. Okay, I didn’t do anything at all. I did manage to go shopping after work yesterday and get some frames for my photos. Employee art show tomorrow; I only get three easels, so I had to plan accordingly.

Anyway, time change, stress, I’ll get back on Saturday. Until then, think about what you were doing 25 years ago, about the technology you take for granted now that didn’t really exist, or at least not in its current form. That’s what it was going to be about. And I was going to try and find a woman inventor, since it’s Women’s History Month. Topical, and all.

So, Saturday. Promise.

Here, have some spring. Well, summer, technically, since I took this in August, but you get the idea. I needed this – it was 75 yesterday, and it snowed today. Really.

Bushes after Rain 032a
No idea what this is called. I thought I did, but I was wrong.
It’s been cut down by the neighbor anyway, so all I have is these photos to remember it.

Quiet

It’s Wednesday; I’m pretty sure about that. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was on last night, as was Mind Games, and those are on Tuesday nights. Since, oh, last Wednesday, I’ve really not had a good grasp on what day it was. Not sure what was going on, other than ridiculous stress, and coming out the other […]

Three Years

Today is March first, meteorological spring. Tonight, we should get one of the worst storms of the astronomical (until the vernal equinox) winter. At last check, it would start off with rain, then freezing rain, then by morning, it should start to snow. Could be interesting going to church tomorrow, assuming I do. I meant to get some ice melter yesterday, payday, but I realized I needed to check my account, first. There’s a bill I have to pay that should be gone in the next six months. Until then, well, it’s going to be very tight. Kinda broke already, and March has the added bonus of my insurance bill and water bill both due. Yay. No idea where that’s going to come from. Oh, and another art show at work. I need to work on my portfolio and exposure. I have permission to use portraits from a couple of sessions I’ve done as examples, so that’s good. Just need to finish editing one of them. It’s from November. I’d edited quite a few photos, but not the way I’d like. I have been learning more and more about my editing program, and I think I can make them better. I’ll keep the original edits – I like to be able to compare, see if maybe I liked my original edit better. Happens sometimes.

Leaving Colorado
US 24, leaving Colorado Springs, shot from the car. No, I wasn’t driving.

February was a long month for me. So many things going on, things that just weren’t fun, things at work, things at home. March might be a little better, aside from the aforementioned money thing.When I woke up this morning, though, I wasn’t thinking about that so much as what I would write about today. It’s always a bit of a challenge, which is why I found that writing prompts website. It serves a couple of functions – one, it gives me a topic when I’m stumped, and two, some of those prompts force me to be creative, something I’ve not been particularly good at for years.

This morning marks an anniversary – three years ago, I moved back to Ohio from Colorado. I’ve mentioned before, if not here then in my old blog, and certainly in real life, that at some point, I knew I would return. As much as I wanted to get away, I also wanted to be home. I made a trip back on average once every couple of years. Maybe just for a long weekend, but I did. Even when I really couldn’t afford it. I needed the visit. Moving back, however, was not under the most auspicious circumstances. I’ve mentioned that before, too. Instead of coming back on my own terms, I had to be fetched like a naughty child who finally has to face the music. It wasn’t the best feeling. I was pretty miserable for a while. Nothing but an added burden, nothing of my own to bring to the table.

Bushes after Rain 005b
No idea what this white flower is, only that it was pretty.

My first couple of months back, I stayed with my father and stepmother. After twenty years of living alone, it wasn’t easy. Fortunately, one of my sisters had a house that various family members had used off and on for the last several years. It was empty and available. Needed a little work. My father, stepmother, sister and I worked together to make it livable. Doors were replaced, cabinets installed, along with a sink (that I helped connect – that was cool), some drywall installed, and a bit of painting done. Three years later, the main room still isn’t finished. Don’t really have a good reason for that. Right now, between my feet (plantar fasciitis – wear shoes that fit and support, people) and my knees, climbing up on a ladder is not particularly comfortable anymore. That means there are things that have to be done outside that I can’t do. I have to pay someone to mow my lawn, since I don’t have a working lawnmower – there’s a bit more to it than that, but that’s the main point – and I have no garden to speak of. Gardening was never really my thing anyway. I like the results, and love the smell of rich soil, just not the actual gardening.

South Gateway and Pikes Peak
My anti-social mountain – Pikes Peak behind South Gateway at Garden of the Gods

For over a year, I couldn’t find a job. Well, I had some things to resolve first anyway, specifically health things, things I couldn’t get addressed in Colorado. It’s a beautiful state, but if you’re broke and ill, there’s really nothing there for you. Meanwhile, there was a clinic just two blocks away from where I am now; I didn’t even need to worry about coming up with gas money to get there. I did find a temporary job, giving me a couple bucks here and there. Enough to drive to the grocery store, at least. To get to the nearest one without a car, I would have to walk a mile (measured it) to the bus stop, then ride the bus for another mile or two, get off, and walk another half-mile to get to Walmart. What that means is in the summer, frozen food is pretty much out of the question. The nearest grocery store as the crow flies would require walking that mile to the bus stop (there’s a closer one, but not for the bus I need), then transferring to another bus, after walking another half mile or mile, and paying extra because it goes outside of the city. Food desert. Still, I managed. After getting the health squared away, I finally found something I couldn’t find for years in Colorado – a steady income. Home just over a year and I was working again. Relief. At the end of March, I’ll have been with my current employer for over two years as a temp and a permanent employee. Finally able to pay my own bills. Well, until one of the old ones I couldn’t pay for years caught up with me anyway. Six months. Or less.

Three years ago, I left Colorado and came home. Miserable as I was at the time, as much as I miss seeing my anti-social mountain every day, and being with my Colorado friends, it was a good thing for me.