Looking back and thinking forward

Month: August, 2006

Holding still

Quote of the day:

Never apologize. Never explain. Just get the thing done, and let them howl. Agnes MacPhail

Yes indeed. Ever since my interrogation experience, in which I was the representative for all serial monogamists everywhere, I have been thinking over this re-marriage thing and the whys and wherefore’s – not for everyone, but as it has pertained to me, specifically. You see, I am back to commuting for long stretches of alone-time again and I cannot help but get to a-thinking about things across the miles. For even when accompanied by great music or interesting radio shows, when my mind wants to wander, it simply wanders, and becomes my dominant surround-sound.

One of the sobering thoughts that came to mind is that I am afraid of intimacy. I am afraid to share my personal, most private, deepest nature with another human being. The fear mainly has to do with abandonment. In other words, if you find out who I really am, you will most certainly leave me. For surely, my deepest nature is evil? The bad-dest of bad seeds, the destroyer of others, or as it was very recently stated to me: the rubbisher of others. Just before my partner could ever truly come to know me intimately, is the very time to hurry on, move on out, run away as far and as fast as my heart and legs could carry me.

And yet, the longing to belong remains within me, pulling on and tugging at me, even while I am on the run, until I try and try again.

In past posts I described how Bob, the therapist, discovered this fear of mine early on in our relationship. I wrote about the relief I felt when he not only confronted and challenged me to face it but promised not to abandon me as I did so. He skillfully taught me to hold still. And I have to admit that it has been excruciating at times. It still can be.

Holding still. I feel as if I am going to explode, choke, asphyxiate. I feel trapped, claustrophobic and terrified. It becomes dark and hopeless and I cannot breathe. I want to run, fly, even die away. Sometimes, though, lately, just as it gets so bad that I cannot stand it another minute, I catch sight of the huge oak tree, thick, tall, and old reaching towards the sky outside my living room window. Solid and firm it withstands wind, rain and amazing thundering lightening storms. I gaze at it long and hard, and a deep sigh escapes me. I realize, miraculously, that like that tree, I confronted my inner storm and have survived.

So, I guess, if anyone asks me again why I married so many times I would explain honestly and truthfully: "Well, you see, I am terrified of intimacy and whenever I feel close to someone or allow myself to need them, I become trapped with fear, desperate to don my running shoes and get the hell out of there!"

If at this point, the person who asks is not uncomfortable with my answer, I would continue: "But I think I am starting to realize that intimacy is about holding still and allowing my partner to share my personal, most private, deepest nature." "It is a struggle and a challenge for me," I would add, "But the reward is in understanding a different reality about myself. That is, I am not inherently evil, the bad-dest of bad seeds. I do not destroy other human beings or rubbish them."

I might be smiling by this stage when I would conclude: "I am just me being me as wholly and completely as I can so that my partner might be equally as free to be who he or she is."

Blogging about books

Borrowing a meme from Winston, here are my weekend book reflections:

One book that changed my life:

Educated in Romance: Women, Achievement, and College Culture by Holland & Eisenhart. I read it in 1990-91 and became a feminist. Most of the time I was reading, my jaw had dropped and I gasped, often out loud, to see how much I was a part of the statistics!

One book I have read more than once:

Revolution from Within: A Book of Self-Esteem by Gloria Steinem. I often see movies more than once. With books, I don’t usually read them right through again, but seek out quotes or pieces that have been memorable for me. This book I have sought out so many times that I probably have read it more than once in its entirety by now. One of my all-time favorite couplets that Steinem quotes in her book from Vita Sackville-West is:

I worshiped dead men for their strength,

Forgetting I was strong.

One book I would want on a desert island:

Gee, people are always wondering what they would read on a desert island. I think I would want to walk or sit and stare at the sea for huge chunks of time, like I do lately, staring out at the Wissahickon and Fairmount Park. But if I must take a book with me surely it would be a handbook on how to survive on a desert island?

One book that made me laugh:

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott. In fact, I discover that most of my books are serious even though I adore laughing! Anne Lamott makes me laugh out loud while at the same time tears rise in my throat.

One book that made me cry:

I read this book recently while traveling to Greece. I cried for the maturity, beauty, purity, spirituality, humor, sorrow, understanding of the human condition, and for how well it was written: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.

One book I wish I had written:

Too many to mention. But I think I will choose: The Woman Who Gave Birth to her Mother by Kim Chernin. There is so much of my own experience that is tied up in Kim Chernin’s story that I kept on wondering why I had not written something so similar.

One book I wish had never been written:

Dare I say it? Okay. I dare!

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.

The only thing that was good about it, for me, was watching the movie in a tiny little theater in the back streets of Athens, Greece, when it first came out. What a great big do about absolutely nothing.

One book I am currently reading:

… And I am taking my time with it because each letter is like a jewel of gorgeous writing, romance, intimacy and deep, human emotion: The Letters of Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf edited by Louise DeSalvo and Mitchell Leaska.

One book I have been meaning to read:

The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir. For some reason I have started it what seems like a million times, and I cannot get past the first five or six pages. When I was younger I would have difficulty reading books that my mother told me to read. In the end I would read some of them and enjoy them so much. I think it might have been the sharp, domineering way she would demand that I read them, giving me her opinion even before I could make up my own, in such a way as if to ensure I would, in fact, have no opinion of my own. Thank goodness I am over that adolescent rebellion for I would not have read Gilead (see above) if it were not for my mother’s recent "suggestion." Perhaps I will soon be able to read De Beauvoir’s masterpiece as I realize this too was one of mother’s suggestions to me, many years ago.

Tag five people:

As T would say: "Let’s not and say we did!"

This says it …

Quote of the day:

Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes. Henry David Thoreau (sent to me from CCIE today)

Have a great weekend all my blogger friends. I love you and am grateful for your being there.

… I think you’ve saved my life this past year and a half …

Winding down and summing up

Quote of the day:

I’m never going to accomplish anything; that’s perfectly clear to me. I’m never going to be famous. My name will never be writ large on the roster of Those Who Do Things. I don’t do anything. Not one single thing. I used to bite my nails, but I don’t even do that any more. Dorothy Parker from Granny’s site. Thanks, Frank.

Putting the pieces together:


There is a pile of books waiting for me on my desk. All as early childhood oriented as can be. Next to it is a pile of memos and handouts that instruct me about this or that policy. All as university oriented as can be.

Rain is drip, drip-dripping out the window and cardinals are pip, pip-pipping. Summer is winding down and with it my new work life is waking up once again. I can see it and feel it, beckoning to me around the corner. Just three more days and on the road I’ll be.

It has been a different sort of summer for me. Starting out with a trip to visit my father’s fathers, it became introspective and reflective right off the bat. With so much alone time on my hands I thought about my fears, how I am different, my dreams, more about how I came to be me, and, even, the meaning of life.

I made new friends. And even as I lost a dearest one, I was fortunate enough to be completely and utterly refueled by old friends.

As the days meandered by these past three months, I must say that I have found some peace. My old world did not … in oh so many ways. But I think I did.

Knowing that a family member, who has deep significance in my life, is not doing well, and as I reflected on all things past and present this summer, I created a collage of photographs (see above). It took quite a few hours and at times I wept as I remembered old times, ancient hurts, and happy moments. It was as cathartic as could be, for at the end when I stood back and looked at the finished product, I felt exhausted, drained, but peaceful. "Ah," I thought, "Another era is drawing to a close. At least, within me." At different times in my life I have used photographs to sum up an era or help me view things differently. About twenty five years ago, after a very traumatic incident I was feeling particularly bad about myself. One morning, after reading somewhere about doing this, I decided to create a photographic collage of favorite photographs of myself. And so, for awhile I would take a look at the pictures each day to try and acquire a self I liked, at least externally. It worked quite well giving me enough confidence to get through those difficult days.

I review this past summer, and while now and again I admonish myself for wasting time, I realize, in fact, that it has been an emotionally productive season for me. I have made peace with many aspects of past and present. As I look at my family, photographic collage I created yesterday, it almost feels as if a long, deep grieving period has come to an end, is being put to rest, and I am finally moving on to acceptance.

A new semester is on its way once again, and I am almost prepared …

We’ve got the whole world … (update)

082206_0731_2And so I say to you:

To all the bloggers on my blogroll, because I really cannot choose one over the other:


Happy Blogger Appreciation Day:


From the streets of Philadelphia

… You know you’ve got a friend in me:

You’ve got a friend in me
You’ve got a friend in me
When the road looks rough ahead
And you’re miles and miles
From your nice warm bed
You just remember what your old pal said
Boy, you’ve got a friend in me
Yeah, you’ve got a friend in me …



This just in …


From you know who … and I have a smile on my face that reaches from ear to shining ear!

Neil, just so you know. I’ve never had billboard panties in all of my 57 years. This is a first for me!

I can’t wait …

… for Blogger Appreciation Day.


Humming along …



By the way … the new glasses? Giorgio Armani. Just for you, Neil. Yes indeed. Just for you.

My life as a failure (update)

Last night I was in the company of people who have all been married to the same person for over twenty years. At one point, for some reason that is obscure to me, I volunteered information about my many previous marriages. I think it might have been because I wanted them to know who I am and how I came to be me. That is one of the ways I get around feeling anonymous in a new town trying to make new friends.

Before long I found myself being questioned as the one and only representative of serial monogamy. All eyes were on me ("Could that be why I volunteered the information?" I wonder) as the interrogation proceeded:

So, I’ve always wondered why people marry so many times … just like Elizabeth Taylor … ("Oh God," I thought in a panic, "Am I like Elizabeth Taylor?) … why do they do it? Is it because they believe in marriage? ("Oh God," more panic, "Quick, think, Tamar! Why did I marry so many times? What is wrong with me? What do I do, what do I say? … quick!"). I mean after they burn out each marriage do they hope the next one will work out or something? What is that? ("Burn out!?" I shrieked to myself, face definitely turning bright red – or is it purple? – "Did I burn out all those marriages? Oh God, oh God, what are they all thinking of me? Why did I say anything in the first place? What do I do? What do I say now?")

Thinking quickly I began defending my actions, desperately trying to explain the oddity that is me, the mess, failure, minority that is me. I was looking intently at the wall of morality and purity, those eyes staring back at me in judgment and wonder while my new friends leaned securely towards their life partners of so many more years than I could ever manage now, even if I wanted to, at age 57. I just do not have the time to belong to the LMCC (long-married-couple-club) any longer. Yes indeed, I could now safely declare to myself once and for all:

I am, and forever will be, a failure at life.

So, first I tried to pin the blame on my childhood:

"Well, you see," I explained, "I have to say, and please excuse the expression, I come from such a fxxcked-up family system that I have absolutely no idea what marriage is. I have no model of how it looks, what to do to make it work. I have no expectations or tools to get it right."

Okay. This worked. Everyone was nodding now. Sympathetic and understanding looks in their eyes. So I continued trying to show what a good soul I really am (after all I needed to try and get into their good graces after so foolishly letting them know the ghastly truth about me in the first place. "I mean," I thought to myself, "What was I thinking?"):

"I guess I was just hopeful each time that it could work out."

More nodding. So I talked more about my fxxcked-up family system and even more about how hard I always tried to make things work and finally, by some miracle, someone changed the damn subject.

I spent the rest of the evening in silence. Discomfort and sadness welled up inside me and a general sense of worthlessness. With great relief it was time for me to go. I could not get over how tired I had become.

After a restless sleep of wild and troubling dreams I awoke early this morning, head pounding and eyes burning. "What was that all about?" I asked myself. "All that panic and fear about my past." I realized that in my desperation to make new friends I forgot to wait, take time, and learn where and when it was safe to divulge the complexity of my life experiences and personal, such deeply personal, facts about myself.

Will my desperate-for-love-and-acceptance-and-acknowledgment-inner-child forever rise up and out to expose and hurt herself impulsively like that over and over again?

As I sat staring out at my huge oak tree, peace began to return to me again. It’s old, quiet strength seeped into my soul and I sighed deeply.

My burning eyes become healed with soft, gentle and self-forgiving tears, as I write to myself with relief and understanding. Head starts to stop aching and my breathing becomes even again.

What better way for me to comfort that sad little yearning child within, than to sit at my blog and just write it out … simply write it out …

And for you all to just read and listen … simply listen and read …


Quote of the day:

There should be room for all of us, whether it’s the one person for a lifetime folks or those who’ve entered deeply into relationships a few times or those who’ve chosen to go the path alone. From Brenda‘s comment.


Quote of the day:

No matter what our troubles, when the earth turns on its axis one more time and we see what appears to be the sun rising, I feel it’s the universe calling for a change in ourselves. You have one more day. Rise with it! Oprah Winfrey

Yesterday I opened the door of my new office. It was time to unpack my boxes of books and hang pictures on the wall. Feeling a bit anxious about the work that awaited me, I must admit I was a bit reluctant even though T. was standing right beside me armed with a fully prepared tool box.

After switching on the light and becoming acquainted with the freshly painted walls of my new digs, I noticed a burgundy colored paper bag sitting in front of the computer screen. Attached to it was a note with "Welcome!" written as clearly as could be. "First things first," I thought to myself, as I opened the bag to find a large college mug, emblem on the side, ready for my first cup of coffee. I could not believe that the Department Chair had taken the trouble to leave me a surprise gift before he headed out for his vacation. Welcoming indeed!

All of a sudden I had all kinds of energy and before we knew it, the office was up and running, posters and pictures all measured, lined up and hanging just right … just the way T. loves to do things. Books all in rows on the shelf.

Such a small act of kindness, but one that meant so much to me. It reminded me of my first day at my last job when I reached into my mailbox and found a card nestling there welcomely. It had come all the way from England, from a blogger friend who had taken the trouble, unbeknown to me, to find out the address, greet me, and wish me luck first thing, somehow knowing how fearful and excited I truly was.

I switched out the light and closed the door breathing a sigh of relief. "it will be all right," I thought, "Everything will be all right."

Now I cannot wait to return to work. New office, computer, pictures on the wall, books all in rows, and … a fine new coffee mug waiting right there to welcome me.

Happy, happy day!



Gee I enjoyed your interview

… I want to be you when I’m big.

Wisdom of all ages

Quotes of the day:

A woman can’t change the world by destroying herself. Bumper sticker (Thanks, Anya)

When people die, our sadness is never for them, but for ourselves; our loss of their love, their companionship and the qualities that made them special to us. Ronni Bennett

“The tahini here is excellent. Have you ever tried the tahini from Trader Joe’s?” Citizen of the Month

"If there is a draft, all those Senators and Congress people, and certainly the Administration folks – well, their children better be drafted first. Let them feel what it’s like!" She says. tamarika, August 15, 2005

The spider and I had our own agendas. Hers was aesthetic in its simplicity; mine, in the chronically complex human way, involved catching a train. Pure Land Mountain