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On Death & Horses

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For some time, I have been putting off ordering a death certificate – putting it off for at least a year. My procrastination was never intentional; sometimes I would randomly think about needing it and mentally put it onto a to-do list, an item that went unchecked and forgotten. Finally, though, I had to order my birth certificate, and doing so had a time frame in which it absolutely had to be done, so I took the opportunity to order the death certificate. This sheet of paper formalized Kristi Degner’s death for the Oklahoma Department of Health.

Kristi is my biological mother, and she died when I was three years, four months, and 28 days old. Her death gave me a life that has so far turned out pretty fantastically in the scheme of things, but it has left a hole in me that grew deeper and darker as I grew older. When I was a teenager, maybe actually a bit younger than my teens, I began thinking about Kristi and wondering what she was like, what she would think of me, whether she would have been able to protect me from the things that most caused me pain.

I had one memory of Kristi: she chased me around a coffee table, one that my memory visualized as a big slab of polished tree still in its natural form. I was giggling as she chased me, and I have always cherished that memory even though I realize that perhaps it isn’t even accurate. I now have quite a few more incomplete but no less cherished memories of Kristi.

On May 31, 2013 – 245 days into sobriety – I sat in St. Ann’s Church in Brooklyn Heights to see Phillip play in the Brooklyn Symphony’s performance of Missa Solemnis. I was in a foul mood. I had begun practicing meditation at Mirmont Treatment Center, and I was getting pretty good at it. What began as assigning positive energy the color blue and negative energy the color red was now a process through which I could monitor my emotional state of being.

My spirituality is based upon the notion of positive and negative energy swirling around feverishly in the makeup of our world – a bit of spirituality based upon simple science, and I use my visualizations to consider how much positive or negative energy I feel surrounds me and flows within me. Gradually my visualizations grew from a fairly constant dark purple to a frequent pale blue, but on this day I felt consumed by the red – fury flowed through me.

As I sat on a pew in St. Ann’s, I closed my eyes and tried to summon positive thoughts and banish the negativity that was clouding my mind. Then the program began. I tried to clear my mind of all but the music but the difficulty was pretty great; however, an 80ish-person choir accompanied the symphony for this performance, and when they came in I felt a shift in not my mood but in my very existence. Something odd was happening – I don’t know that I would describe it as good or as bad…maybe as disconcerting but in a good way.

I opened my eyes, which had been closed since I began attempting to meditate my negativity away, and before me I was struck by the massiveness of the blue stained-glass window behind the symphony and choir. I did not actually “see,” as in have a psychotic visualization, but I did “see” a flowing, cloud-like white horse rushing at me and into me, and with that several memories of Kristi rushed through my mind. This is when I met my horses, upon which I not infrequently depend.

Today I opened the envelope containing my birth certificate and Kristi’s death certificate, and I read my birth certificate, curious about the time of my birth (1:27am), then I scanned this death certificate I’ve never before seen…this piece of paper that proves without doubt, in clumsily typed letters, that Kristi is dead. Kristi died 30 days after her 20th birthday, and when I read that I sobbed. I haven’t cried like that in a very long time – I haven’t felt pain like that sort of pain in a very long time. As I cried tonight, I called upon the horses to which I am so very grateful for allowing me to remember a little more about the woman who brought me into this world but was unable to be a part of helping me move through it.

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Intriguing Behavior

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Today was the October meeting of the Faculty Curriculum Committee, and it was interesting, as expected. There is a professor with whom I have never, until today, held a conversation, but who shoots venom at me! Around the middle of the meeting, he did so again because I asked about student government information being tweaked in the Student Handbook, which is being revised. Details are unnecessary.

Anyhoo, at a latter point Blackboard was discussed and mention was made of disgruntled students not wanting to do it, telling professors they were the only professor that made them do it, that sort of thing. That’s baloney, in my mind, because Blackboard has been something I’ve had to use in most of my classes, and while it’s not the cat’s pajamas, it’s a tool that prods us to further our learning. There was also discussion of professional seminar and mention that students were going into it unprepared to integrate everything we are learning. This fit nicely with a discussion about changing the grading system to letters rather than honors/credit/no credit, and I stated – being deliberate in noting that I was speaking only for myself here – that faculty most certainly give us the tools needed to fit the puzzle pieces of our education together. I said that it is up to us, as adults & graduate students, to take the initiative to do so, and that I know as fact, first-hand, that some students simply do not care because they need only do enough to get a credit. Soooo, the professor who seemed poisonous…he thanked me and was really nice to me afterwards. Score.

A big “however,” though, is that I ticked off another person in the meeting. She is not faculty, so this one doesn’t really disturb me so much as irritate me. The Senate is conducting a survey, and I presented the curriculum-related results (as of 10:25am today) to the faculty via handouts. So this individual piped up after I handed them out and said I should have distributed them Friday; I responded I wanted faculty to have the most current results of this still-in-process survey, and that is why I didn’t distribute them earlier. She said I should have anyway. We moved on.

After the meeting, I spoke to the professor who no longer seemed to hate me and then to the Associate Dean and then to a professor whose class I was in last semester, and then I spoke to this woman who found issue with me having expected Silberman faculty to be capable of examining three graphs covering five questions in only a few minutes. I’m crazy, right? Surely these Ph.D.s needed a whole weekend for that! Back to speaking with her. I told her I hope she didn’t find me rude in our brief exchange, and she said she didn’t but reiterated that I should have sent the graphs out on Friday. I responded, simply, “I disagree.” She was freagin’ AGHAST! “You Disagree?!” “Yes, I think three-day old results of an ongoing survey would have been irrelevant.” She wasn’t happy. But I didn’t want to end on a sour note so asked if she would be attending the Common Day Senate meeting. I don’t know if she will be or not, but I do know this: she is “disappointed with the Senate.”

I don’t know who this woman thinks she is in the scheme of things, but we Senators were not elected by her, do not represent her, and frankly, I have no interest in what she thinks of us.

So…score 1 – professor doesn’t seem to hate me anymore & score 2 – I didn’t back down to an individual who needs to Back the eff up!

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High Tea 2014

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I realize the post for last year’s high tea is only a few posts down from this one; the year got away from me. For that I am sorry – not to the non-readers of this site (very, very few know of its existence) – because I won’t have the record of this time of my life that I had really hoped to document.

This year’s tea was even more successful than last year’s. I loved it so very much. I am incredibly grateful to have such wonderful friends, and I am thankful these folks were able to make it to this important anniversary: not just being born, but for being reborn through sobriety & entrance into recovery.

Here’s a link to a video that captures everyone who attended, and below are some pictures of me with Pip & my besties. And of course there is a picture that captures the truly beautiful table setting.

High Tea Video: https://plus.google.com/102477168197793890998/posts/ZpKSjryqRgU

table

Pip & Ryan

Three

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Whilin’ Away the Hours

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I’m spending a large majority of my time watching television. I made my way through Psych and Eureka and am now working on Chuck. I’ve also started watching Haven and Supernatural. And we’re oh so slowly making our way through Downton Abbey. During the first year of school, each week I watched Arrow and sometimes Modern Family, which means I spent max one and a half hours a week in front of the television. The point: there isn’t one. Just sayin’ that it’s been a shock getting into watching so much television, and it’s going to be a shock getting back out.

Today was the first day that smoking actually seemed like a gross thing.

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Ramping Up

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I went to Silberman to man the table for the Student/Faculty Senate and to co-facilitate an information session for the incoming class, both of which were fun. My trip confirmed what I’ve been thinking: I’m so ready for school to start. I feel my life is so very on track (yes, I know this can change in a moment, Madame Jinx), and I’m just chomping at the bit, as is said, to get on with it. I’m always looking to run to the next place, and this needs to stop. I haven’t lately been focusing on trying to ground myself in the present; in fact, I haven’t even been checking to keep my horses in order. I know I’m not surrounded by white or even white-ish blue, and I find that I’m having difficulty even caring. This is, I’m pretty sure, a warning sign. When you close your eyes while driving, you’re very likely going to have an accident.

Note to self: Consider the title of What’s the Point.

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Well, I was remiss, wasn’t I?

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It has been just under a year since I last posted here, which is ridiculous. I will throw out there, though – a perhaps feeble excuse, that school was quite a bit more difficult than I expected it to be. And I went in expecting it to be really hard. I’m a perfectionist, though, and a procrastinator (which equates to also being a masochist), so I spent nine months feeling like I might die. There were tears and frequently far too little sleep, but I did excellently & am so happy & am so grateful. It took me 35 years to find my path, and I walk down it knowing that I am a lucky one. Gratitude is something I hope I will for all my days keep close to my heart & at the forefront of my mind.

Last September I failed at the quitting smoking thing, and I didn’t even try after that until about two weeks ago. During that time I have had two cigarettes. I would like to lie and write that I’ve had none, but that’s the whole “addictive thinking” thing I need to avoid. Anyhoo, I’m thinking / hoping I’m on my way to avoiding cigarettes all together. Two in two weeks, after all, isn’t such a bad record.

Also on the topic of addiction, I’m well into the planning for this year’s tea party. Invitations have gone out, and most of my outfit for the affair has been ordered. I’ve found the bow tie I will be ordering (from Beau Ties, which supports marriage equality with its profits) & I’ve bookmarked several pairs of socks between which I will eventually decide. I own the shirt I will wear, but I first have to decide which of the shirts I own I will wear – it’s really that decision that will determine the socks. Moving away from the outfit, some more china & champagne glasses (for a non-alcoholic champagne substitute & elder flower syrup concoction) & a couple of pieces of crystal & two very pretty colored glass cake pedestals were acquired for this year’s affair, and I think all else is handled. Save for the final decision of which tea sandwiches we will serve. Phillip will be helping decide, but we likely won’t do that until next month.

I’m still fat.

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Tea Party – The Good Kind

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My tea party was ridiculously awesome.  I was so crazy happy with the folks who came, everyone loved the whole set up, I got some fabulous gifts, the weather was beautiful, and it felt like the perfect celebration of one year of sobriety and my 35th birthday.

I had to stand up and thank Jeremy & Alison & Phillip because without them I would not be sober.  They are my favorite people, and I love them more than I can express with a simple, “I love you.”  It is something that I will only be able to express by living honestly and openly as me, and living soberly, and living to do good in this world; that is the only way I can show them how much I love them.

jpra

TeaParty

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Relief

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I opened up to Pip today that I have been smoking, telling him about the abstinence project for my Ways of Knowing:  Alcohol & Drug Addictions class.  I spend the day smoking, and today I do it without shame.  I feel relief at having been mostly honest about my sneaky smoking, and I prepare myself for tomorrow.

I did some school work today – my first assignment was due, so it’s a good thing!  I also created a school calendar so I can easily see what is due when.  Of course, I’m  nervous I didn’t do it correctly!  Anyhoo, I’m having difficulty focusing on school because I’m putting so much energy into focusing on the tea party!  I’m so excited.  About both, really, so I better get with it (re: school) tomorrow!

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To Work, to Work

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I really must get to that.  I have been such a procrastinator.  Not a slacker, as I’ve been doing things.  But procrastinating I’m so doing, and I’m doing it because I’m absolutely terrified I’m not smart enough to do this.  I know I surely must be.  Sleep now, read tomorrow, though.

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