Peshawar

I fell in love with the people from Peshawar a very long time ago. Is there still Pukhtunwali, there is no more code to live by? It cannot be Pathans who have done this, can it? I cannot believe it, I don’t want to believe it. I am very sorry, Peshawar has truly been through enough.
With this and what has happened to the Yezidi and women and children under ISIL I just feel crippled with grief. I need sleep and .. I don’t know. Can anyone get over this? It is not possible.

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Book Review – Michel Faber’s The Crimson Petal and The White

I have just finished The Crimson Petal and The White, By Michel Faber. It was a very good read, the first book in a very long time to hold my interest. But there is no end, it gives a beginning or two in the last pages, and tells you no more.
I feel cheated. I should have gone to bed an hour ago. I stayed up to imagine an ending? The author is ultra talented, and I am frustrated. I read stories to conclusion, and this one had none.

My Social Life

Today was the annual company Christmas party. It is held over lunchtime and through the afternoon, while my children are in daycare. It is my social life. Each year, it is the ONLY social thing I do without my children.
It was fun.
The salmon was not done right. The chocolate cake had the wrong sort of texture on the outside of the slice, chips instead of shaved chocolate. I am sure they order it in, rather than make it, so it would do no good to school them. Also the introduction to the establishment was very poorly written on the website. This is my disclaimer, lest you think all was perfect.
I got presents. Less than last year, we had a great deal more expenses this year, so I knew it would be tight, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I did get from the company.
I bowled poorly and did not win prizes for it, save one giftcard for pizza for my frequent gutter balls. Pizza that I LOVE.
This year I was prepared and I did my shopping beforehand and gave out gifts as is the company tradition (no one warned me last year!). I think it went well. I had made a conscious decision beforehand not to overthink my gifts, because gift shopping paralyzes me with anxiety.
I had a great time today. I work with some funny people and I got some good jokes, and one guy even told me a risque joke, which I never was subjected to in my former nun-like attire. So I am passing, well, for most people. The other women can tell I am a freakish anomaly who might not belong in this culture, but they only tell me that once in a while. Okay, so some of them tell me every day. But really, if it’s not one thing about me, it’s another. I am just odd, anyway.
When I find myself in social groups I sometimes get a weird sensation, I don’t even know the right word to describe it. I look around and everyone seems normal and I get flashbacks. I wonder if anyone in the room has had X happen to them or ever been in the position of having to Y. You know what I mean? I shouldn’t do this. Everyone has their burdens and secrets. I feel like my life experience makes me a freak, and it is not nearly as bad as others I know. I mean, the sweetest ladies in my building have lived lives that would make your hair curl and your nostrils leak smoke. We are all survivors of something. I don’t know why I would get intrusive thoughts like this in public. It’s a buzz killer. I am equal to anyone. I ought to believe that and not wonder which of the guys at work have thrown their wives into the wall by their hair. I have no reason to think like this. Most men are not like that, right? It is ridiculous that I am more comfortable in emergencies than in parties. Being under threat is more natural to me, I suppose.
I had to leave early, to pick up the children and get them food quickly, before the baby had her concert at daycare. She made it through the first ten minutes and then began to cry because she did not like the song selection. I don’t blame her. Some music is hard to take in large chunks. I know there are many genres of English/Western music that I don’t like. The baby is really happy, normally, so the teachers were perplexed by her distress. Pressure sucks for everyone. I get it.
It was nice to see other moms there, there are so many teachers and moms and kids that I like at daycare, it is one of my favorite places to be. I never drop off or pick up. I drop off and hang about for fifteen minutes. I pick up- and the kids are reluctant to go. This is why I put my kids in school in that town, despite living in another. Because I didn’t want to rip them away from nice people and force them to start over. They had enough trauma and loss in their little lives, and now they get to be normal. A ten minute drive, twice a day, for stability. Well worth it.
They all behaved perfectly, the boys took directions well and remained mostly respectful of the audience and performers by remaining quiet or leaving the room if they had to. I don’t care if my toddler cannot make it through a performance. I am raising independent children, not seals or robots.
So that is all. Until next year, when I am sure these two events will take place on the same day, again, as it did last year and this. I am profoundly grateful to my company, a family owned business, for allowing me to work there when I have to take time off for sick children. I am also grateful for the bonuses they give me. I have been really privileged in my places of employment in my life, and that is why I stay so long in my jobs. Despite my poverty I would rather work for an ethical business that gives back to the community (and being in the office, I have witnessed enough charitable work and donations to know it is rare, indeed, for any company to do what is done by mine) and works with me regarding childcare issues than to make a bucket of money with all the accompanying stress. Good people are priceless. Luckily there are tons of good people here. I am staying, and I want to go to the next Christmas party. I value my social life.

Some Sort of Block

Illness is still in my house. I have lost a week’s pay looking after sick children, but I feel lucky that I can do it, and still have my job. So many cannot.

I feel fine, now. I am not sick any longer, myself. I have cleaned the entire house and done the baking three days early. Which is good. I have moved on to organizing things, and if I end up with more days like this I will eventually get to fixing all that is broken. Mostly that is necklaces.

I have been trying to ease my stress, by paying attention to what bothers me. Mostly it is procrastination. You know, you walk by the piece of fuzz on the carpet or the handprint on the wall and tell yourself you will get to it later. Before later comes, you have walked past it a hundred times and it annoys you profusely. I am like that, from organizing closets to Legos to switching furniture around. I put it off. For what, I don’t know, so I stopped. Now I try to get to it right then, as noticed, and I feel a lot more content, more relaxed.

I have some sort of block on writing anything lately. The subjects I want to tackle will not settle down in my head long enough for me to fix on one. Not that I have a lot of ideas, it seems as though my brain is tired of dealing with things, trying to bat them out of my focus. Maybe it needs space to gel.

I wanted to talk about relationships, how this is the longest I have been without one, and how initially it seemed unbearable. It was ridiculous, to long for a companion, because I have not had a marriage yet where my husband remained my friend, my confidant. Each of my husbands ended up living a double life. My first husband I suppose I should forgive, we had two different cultures and he did not understand mine. By the time I understood his I was on my second husband already. The problem was that I then accepted it. Since the men I knew subscribed to this misogyny, I was going to live in a way that would enable me to keep them in my life. I did not want to be divorced again. Changing myself to suit my husband’s culture did no good at all. Once an outsider, never trusted. Not to mention that the misogynistic culture itself did not encourage trust in women. But that was not the line I was fed. Women were ¨cherished¨ and needed to be ¨protected¨ and a bunch of hooey like that. I allowed myself to be infantilized.

When I think of betrayals by my husbands I feel anger towards them. When I think of how I betrayed myself I feel a sort of hopeless rage. A slow burning perpetual disappointment at how I stood in my own way in life. I raised myself, worked my way up, and made decent money, livable money, and I supported a pack of in-laws on it. There was no reason for me to think I could not handle my own free will. I should not have laid it down for any religion, culture, or human being.

I need to forgive my second husband, not because he deserves it, which he probably does, but because the anger is eating at me. I miss his entire family to the point of pain, which is undeserved. They do not miss me. I tried to replace them, and failed. I need to forgive myself. I don’t know if I can.

I thought I was in a relationship again, but when the interest just evaporated I was really hurt. It took a lot for me to trust him, and I think it taught me that I am still too raw to try.

I had never been alone in my life until now, and it is easier. With three children it is easier, even, than it was with none. I do not have to answer to anyone. I can concentrate on my children and I don’t have to protect them from anyone else in the home. I don’t have to deal with any criticism, or any ridicule. No one is upset when I speak to the children with authority, or play with them in a silly way. I have no orders to fulfill nor any other adult to clean up after. So I have less anxiety. Husbands are also expensive. My first husband was not so bad, he gave me a place to live. But the others left me destitute. I want to spend money on my children and not on another adult. Mostly I spend it on education enrichment, classes the kids can meet other children in and learn something from.

I know it is hard for single parents to date, the logistics are nearly impossible. Also I don’t know how to date. I went on two dates, once in high school, once in junior high. I think about meeting strange men to eat with them and talk, and I recoil mentally, on every level for every reason. I think I should get a decade alone under my belt first. I need to learn how to be assertive, how to be organized, how to manage stress and control my PTSD and help my kids with theirs. I wouldn’t mind a friend. But not a date. I don’t see myself as being able to invest in that in any near future. I am not young, either. I am not beautiful. I am so practical that I can hardly claim to be feminine.

Maybe all this is just an excuse, like so much of my life, to let fear guide me and claim it is common sense. I am tempted to blame the White Knight myth that was shoved into my subconscious by every fairy story I devoured as a child. Well, Disney’s take on them, anyway. Blame that myth for making me think couplehood is the desired norm. I don’t want to believe that. I don’t want to trust anyone.

See, this is the problem. I get it all down in black and white and I still don’t know what the hell I want to say. I am just spewing.