Pack Rat (e-Style) from a Family of Pack Rats

One of my sisters and I were talking the other day about Facebook. She doesn’t have a profile, but I do. It’s not that she avoids all social media. She just avoids Facebook, mostly, but also a few things it has acquired over the years. I was sharing how one of our aunts had decided to resurrect her barely used account and got caught in a security verification loop and couldn’t escape it. The solution was sort of to give up, and create a new account. Her original account had so few connections and no actual content, so in her case it made the most sense!

As conversations often do, we looped around to other things. She asked about some old friends who had been close once. In fact, they were my core friend group from when I was in kindergarten until at least junior year, and somewhat even through graduation of high school. We don’t really keep in touch now, but I’m either friends with friends of theirs on Facebook, or in one case, friends with the joint spouse account that is my former best friend’s account with her spouse. And I admitted that it’s hard to think about downloading everything thing, attempting a delete (we know that it won’t actually be deleted, although parts will be made unavailable and break links), and sign out of Facebook completely.

And I realized, it all comes down to what if.

Which is how a pack rat works. These screws and nuts and bolts and nails are still good! I might use them someday! I’ll just store them in these old coffee tins and label them and put them on a shelf in the garage. These computer peripheral cables are still good! They’re pliable and I might need them someday! I’ll wrap them neatly, and put them in a storage bin and put them in the closet and they’ll be there, when I want them! No, I don’t bake muffins that often, but if I could make 24 at once, it’s so much easier, and 36 is only one more pan. So I’ll just stack these three pans neatly and even if I hardly ever make muffins I can! Because I could afford these when I bought them! It’s only storage space and I have that, so why get rid of them?

In the years I’ve been on the internet, “space” has become less dear than it was. Phone books either barely exist or don’t exist on a personal level the way they did. Facebook is essentially my “phone book” with a privacy filter for my old acquaintances and extended relatives who never bothered giving me access to their physical address and phone numbers, but similarly want a window into what I release into the public of the internet to share. If I’m going to be in the general area they’re in, and I want to say “Hey! I’ll be in the area between X and Y dates, please message me and we can arrange a coffee date, or a swing by your house, or on old stomping grounds!” and it’s casual and low pressure.

Keeping Facebook and other old, defunct journaling services and even some of the old files, in old folders on my laptop, are easy and yet very much, the same pack rat style tendencies that my parents and their depression era parents had for small reusable items that were easy to store.


Tell me

Tell me something true
Tell me something high
Tell me something full of light
even if it’s just a lie

Tell me something true
Tell me something fine
Tell me something to make me dance
even some corny old line

Tell me something true
Tell me something dark
Tell me something to steal my breath
even though it leaves a mark

Tell me something true
Tell me something real
Tell me something deep inside
if only to make me feel.


It's nice to be told you're beautiful or hot or whatever, but I'd love to hear someone say that I make things easier, that they're happy I exist, they don't know what to do without me, I'm strong, that they hope we never lose each other, that they're proud of me, that I have something to offer. Compliments don't always have to be about appearance. Kirlbyshaylll

This is not entirely wrong. It’s very nice to be told you’re strong and have something to offer. It’s great to hear that someone loves that you exist and they’re proud of you.

However, being told you make things easier, they don’t know what they’d do without you, they hope you never lose each other… can be a lot of weight to put on someone. Depending on context, and at the absolutely worst end of the spectrum, it can be abusive and alienating. A method of separating you from other friends.

At the very least, those compliments are about things that make no sense to someone who has a responsible/nurturing streak and ALSO has a low self-esteem. Of course you try to make things easier for someone if you’re a nurturing type.

But you don’t want to make things so much easier that they don’t know how to go on without you. As a woman especially, it’s something I was told: be sure you know how to do something for a job. It’s one of the reasons I went to college. So that, if something happened to my husband, I could support myself and go on. Too many women of my mom’s age group and more especially her mother’s age group, went and got married and had children, and were extremely good homemakers, but had a very hard time translating that into a well-paying job later. Yes, they could clean someone’s home; but those jobs paid a pittance. As a result: it’s not a compliment to tell someone they’ve removed your agency.

Yes, we want to be more than a pretty face. And yes, it’s nice to be told you’re needed. But compliments are above more than all of these things.

Three affirmations

This was a Camp NaNo prompt, for warming up for this month’s project.

Obviously, I haven’t been writing as much as I’d like. I recognize that I hardly ever do. It’s one of the things that has me considering the fact that, perhaps, just perhaps, I’m Not a Writer.

Yes, that’s overly dramatic.

My main problem is, and always has been that I have a lack of discipline when it comes to writing. If it isn’t immediately interesting, if it requires work, if for whatever reason I get distracted; I won’t work on it. If I absolutely must have it done, well, then I’ll probably get it done in time.

Fear of sounding horrible.

Not finishing.

This was queued up from 2017, around camp time, and I didn’t do a very good job of affirming.

Leaving the above so I can see my brain fighting and trying again, but twisting it:

I like processing thoughts through words on a typewriter. Sometimes with a pencil or pen, but more often with a typewriter as it’s easier to fix malapropisms that exit my fingers and I catch later (or as I’m writing – ‘exit’ was almost ‘exist’). That means I’m a writer. I write, therefore I’m a writer. Adding on descriptors like “good” or “professional” are meaningless for the moment.

Sometimes being overly dramatic has a point. To shock the reader into stopping and thinking, or arguing and processing their opinion via that argument. Sometimes it’s simply a good way to purge the emotion from the writer’s brain – as in journaling.

I definitely have a lack of discipline problem. I need to start scheduling time. And when I fail at that, I need to restart. That’s just all there is to that. Just because I fail, doesn’t mean I’m not eventually succeeding. There’s the affirmative twist to the previous negative.

I will probably sound horrible. It will suck. I will hate knowing I sounded horrible. But there are times people like what I write. Yes, they’re friends, and maybe they’re “supposed” to like things I write because they like me; but most of them are also fairly discerning readers and I should probably quit deflecting and being bashful and unsure and just listen to them. Sometimes, I won’t sound horrible. Sometimes I will sound good.

And so, I’m going to consider this post finished. Even if it’s under 500 words. Because there are now three, almost four affirmations from the original negative “failure”.

Frayed beyond Frustration

I’ve been having a really hard time for the last month and a half (or more, if I’m honest, possibly back to early October). I’ve been trying to decide if it’s my own personal form of SAD (based on it being Death Memory Season1), or if it’s something else.

For example, I make decent to very good money currently. I still worry about bills, because I’m wired that way; but as long as I don’t splurge every single month on frivolous (read: unnecessary) items, I can pay my bills including extra on my credit cards. That means I’ve been paying down one large credit card, and trying to keep the others at minimum. I’ve been doing slightly odd (for me) things with multiple credit cards to keep my credit up, based on advice from bankers and loan advisors. My credit isn’t as trashed as it once was, when I was the victim of identity theft, but it’s still a little weird. I still get calls based on that thief’s name actually being very close to mine. She’s changed it since, as have I, but it doesn’t really force the credit bureaus to behave.

Why is this a problem? Well, even though I make a decent wage (more than fair, because of various perks), I feel sort of trapped. I’m not in a field that I consider “mine”. I actually work in a field that I don’t particularly enjoy, at the moment. I am not a numbers person, but I’m working with them. Sometimes, I can trick my brain into thinking I work in computers, or with databases, or with any number of adjacent fields – but I’m not really, and sometimes my hindbrain narrows its eyes at me as if to say, “Hey. Wait a minute… Is this what we wanted to do when we grew up? Because I don’t think it was even on the D list…” And my forebrain has to play Jedi mind tricks.

In general, I really like my co-workers. We go on cool trips together! We make each other laugh! I don’t really ever forget I’m older than all of them, but some of that is my own hangups more than anything they do intentionally. But there have been a non-zero number of times lately where I don’t feel listened to. I will report an item verbally and in writing, but somehow, sometimes even within the hour, the information is requested again. It’s most annoying when it happens within minutes.

And after the last week or so, I’m beginning to think that is the thing besides my personal SAD that is making me particularly grumpy. It was especially galling the other day to be told by my manager that she was listening, she just didn’t retain the information! It’s making me really question my usefulness, effectiveness, and importance. Because at this point, I’m concerned it truly is me! My communication skills have just deteriorated that badly!

On the other hand, I really don’t think they have. Usually, the people hearing but not actually listening and retaining that information are also dealing with a lot in their own lives, and are just very distracted. And I want to be empathetic and forgiving of those problems. Everyone is human and should have their own lives outside of work. I just find my patience is frayed to shredded about that. I’m not forgiving about it. And I’m therefore mad at myself for not living up to my own expectations.

I haven’t figured out a solution for this, other than to vent on twitter occasionally, and now on a blog. I would like a change to see if that would help, but I can’t (and really, don’t see the need other than this thing) job hunt. I wouldn’t be able to find another position of comparable level at this pay scale, really. Base salary? Sure. But not actual take home pay. So I am not sure how I’m going to fix it, in the long run, other than continue to take very deep breaths and try desperately to weave my patience back together every weekend so that there’s some semblance of it, no matter how patched, come Mondays.

1. Death Memory Season: September – lost my youngest maternal aunt at entirely too young of an age, also first marriage had a BIG ending step of actual physical separation; October – lost the first cat I raised personally from a kitten, basically my baby boy (I’ve got another baby boy, and I’ve had other cats, and this was the second cat I helped raise from kitten ever, but he was MINE); November – dad really took a downturn with his cancer; December – lost both mom and dad (in separate years) in mid and the end of the month. I adore the fall, I really, really do. And autumn through early winter means 3 of my favorite holidays, but damn it’s hard for my emotional memory.

My body doesn’t work like that

So there’s this thing that happens with the current exercise fads, where you’re told, “oh, you’ll get addicted to it! Your body will start feeling so much more energized if you just set up a regular habit of exercise. And then, when you do skip a day in your schedule, you’ll feel all dragged out and horrible. You just have to be patient and keep it up!”


That does not happen for all humans. It especially does not happen for me. I loved fencing in college, even though I was never destined to be very good at it. (I’m too small. So while I can be limber and quick and get in under a longer-reached opponent’s guard; if the longer-reached opponent is better than me at defending, I will almost always lose.) But not once, in the entire semester, did I ever leave class feeling energized and better about life from the exercise itself.

I always hurt. I always, always was tired once I stopped babbling about hitting a mark I was excited about hitting. My brain might be energized about reaching a goal, but it’s not at all the same thing. My body doesn’t generate good chemicals from intense exercise. It generates lactic acid and all sorts of other very normal things that make my muscles hurt. And now that I’m older? My joints don’t appreciate repetitive motion particularly either.

I really loved archery too, but that wasn’t a particularly exerting sort of exercise, as we focused more on accuracy than pound weight, and I don’t think I ever got heavier in bow class than about 35 to 45 pounds.  I’m small, and my upper body strength wasn’t (and isn’t) there. (Unlike my leg strength which gave me yet another advantage in fencing.)

I liked bowling okay, and I did all right with weight training and power walking (yeah, that was a weird combination class). But again, I never got to the point that all of these exercise gurus claim everyone reaches of the pain being overridden by the pleasurable hormones and other body chemicals. And that’s when I was in top shape as a young person.

Part of me will always believe they’re outright lying, and some people are just more susceptible to believing it, or don’t want to admit that they feel like crap still. But being older, I’m more inclined to suspect it just doesn’t work that way for me specifically.

do get a boost out of playing in water. I will get tired, and if I swallow enough water I will really hurt, but it will never be enough to make me hate water.

I got a lot out of Tai Chi, and I’m somewhat sad that apparently the instructor style matters to me a lot. So I still haunt a yoga and tai chi page in the hopes that I will see a new instructor with a similar vibe teaching a time I can take. I did feel better after those classes, even though I also hurt; but for me that had more to do with certain meditative aspects of the practice.

But running? Weight lifting? Biking? (Let alone the team sport of indoor soccer.) Anything heavy in cardio, basically, and I’m a miserable, sweaty, over-heated mess who is focused on getting it done with as soon as possible so I can eat chocolate or red meat for a better morale boost.

You guys do you, with your boot camps and other gym type activities. Seriously. If you love it? More power to you. But please quit with the one-size-fits-all rhetoric. On the one hand, it makes you look like a liar. On the other hand, it just makes the people who it doesn’t fit feel even more broken.

And I’m pretty sure you’re not all assholes.

My heart

My heart is made of sweet words: whispered, giggled and shouted;
with soggy bits where tears seeped in and found the cracks and crevices.

My heart is made of fur: long and silken, short and coarse, baby fine and bunny soft;
with purrs that run ragged, silver, rumble and holes of black and white.

My heart is made of memories: rioting with laughter and curses;
scented with coffee, tea, flowers and balsam; and held tight in a squeeze.

My heart is full, and yet broken;
because of all that it has, and all that is gone.