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It's been sitting around the house.

I didn't want to look at it. It has YOUR name on it. You're gone. Why the hell is there a present with your name on it? And sacred heart gift wrap with a big red bow. Isn't sacred heart gift wrap a bit creepy? Who sells this stuff? Made in China, ha, ha.

I am cleaning up, though. I don't need the clutter any more as a deterrent. I don't need armor. The military is all quacked out that the apps are making lovely maps of bases when people turn on "location" on their phones to get rewards for exercising. Well, duh. Of course it's tracking them and adding it to a data base and then it's for sale. We are all little data points for sale to the highest bidder, happily playing games and looking at the information fed to us by our small clever weapons of mass consumistruction.

Christmas is over. It's January.

Ok, fine.

It is real ribbon and a real bow, tied by hand. Sacred heart or not, the paper is nice. Careful wrapping.

A box, square, twelve inches on a side. I shake it gently. It is light. And heavy too.... the weight of feelings. I read today that that Feeling, as opposed to Thinking, could be called the Valuing function. That is, the feeling function is not about emotions or shallow emotions. The Feeling function is about the deep and core and sacred values for each person. That changes things.

I flatten and fold the paper. Saving it. For what? I open the box.

It holds a wish. It's your wish. Now it's my wish. I sit quiet, amazed. I never thought to have this wish in my lifetime, and now it's barely been a year. How surprising life is, over and over.

For reQuest 2018: write about opening somebody else's Christmas present.

Although today didn't start out very well, it's ending on a positive note. I tackled the kitchen first. Anxiety flooded through me as I washed dishes. I decided that this comes from my childhood, but I couldn't really say why. Only that meal times, and cleanup were typically very stressful, and that pattern continued after I was married. My dad bitched about the things my mom made, and since that was routine when I was a child, I accepted it as the way that things were when I got married. Once I had done enough dishes that the counter was full I took a short break. I've been getting into the habit of going back to sleep after I first wake up, I don't know if this is good, bad, or neither, it's just what I've gotten used to since I have the ability and know I tend to run short on sleep as a rule so this seems quite the luxury to me. Last night I had a really weird dream, I know you're shocked to hear this. I was walking along a beach that didn't have regular sand, it was more like a sidewalk beneath my feet. I wasn't dressed for the beach, but everyone else was. I saw a guy surfing on what looked like a skateboard which I thought was interesting.

Further down there was a building that I entered. The beach was crowded, but soon I left it and then I was in the yard of a house that appeared to be mine, but I have no memory of actually entering it, so who knows. These two guys I had never seen before came up and asked me a question that I didn't know how to answer. Apparently they lived next door and wanted my permission to use this zip line type thing that connected our yards. Pretty soon they were zipping along on something like the skateboard thing that the other guy had been using early. Either I left, or I had another dream because all of a sudden I was with this strange family. I remember going up into this shower type thing that was part of a larger unit. I stood beneath it, but instead of water, there were these crystal shaped soft squishy bead things all around me. A woman with heavy makeup told me that we needed to go so I followed her. Both of her parents were elderly looking, but very active and seemed athletic. We were at this huge indoor water park type place, people could surf, but it was mostly empty when I was there.

We left that place, I was riding in a vehicle with these people, and then my dream ended. I think at some point in time there was some sort of circus we were getting ready to attend, I remember someone talking about the animals, but I don't remember seeing any of them so who knows what that was about. The important thing is that I'm getting dream quality sleep so despite the bizarre happenings, this seems like an improvement so I'll take it. Today was very rough emotionally. I started blaning myself for a lot of things. I felt bad about losing my job, a friend called, that was fun, we talked about Bob Ross and his painting show, we went off on a tangent that turned the productions into a quasi-sexual seductive prelude, he was in radio for years, so he has the voice for it, then we discussed his new found talent and how he could make money on YouTube doing voice overs for Bob and his bushes on the side of the mountains. He said I could make anything sexual, I said he was the one who started it, we had fun with that for a while, then he started telling me about his job and some of the things that are going on down there.

Apparently one of the women in charge is giving others grief. When my friend started people warned him about her. He works at a million square foot warehouse that's owned by a very large department store, he's one of the people who uses this long handled tool to pick up objects from a conveyer belt to fill orders. He has a ton of education so it's kind of a shame this is the job that he has. He would like to go to law school, but lacks the financial means to do so which means he would have to work and go to school which isn't impossible, but it's also far from ideal. I don't know how long we've been friends, five years has to be the minimum because I have at least one email from 2013, but we didn't get to know each other well until we tried going out with each other. It didn't last long, he was under a lot of stress, I was, and two weeks after we broke up I was in the mental hospital so I'm sure I was largely to blame for things not working out, but I still don't think we were meant to be because he has issues of his own. Hopefully we will always be friends, it was nice of him to call, we ended up chatting for almost three hours and I got the scoop on the people he works with, it was fun to hear that the company I left wasn't the only one with problematic people in management, and by fun I mean reassuring in an uncomfortable sort of way.

Two of the big things on my list are look for jobs and file my taxes. I didn't do either of those today, but I did do some paperwork before I left for the library. I wasn't going to go, then I decided I should leave the place at least once, so I put gas in my car and drove out to the spring to fill my water containers. I went to the library, that was nice and I'm really glad I did that when I had the chance. I've spent less time online recently, and I think that was a good change for me. I can't find the book I wanted, Six Pillars of Self Esteem is lurking somewhere around here, it's kind of funny, now that the stacks of books are gone, I can't find what I was reading, but I pulled out Living More With Less which is an awesome reminder of how good some people are and how hard certain people are trying to make this world a better place in their own way. The author died at 39 after battling cancer, the book is a very simple collection of stories contributed by others and so many of them are heartwarming reflections or ideas that will take fortitude to implement, although not each of them are difficult. It's a neat way to view the world and hear about cultures I wouldn't otherwise and how some people wear blankets instead of the winter coats and jackets that are ubiquitous here.

Probably the most interesting and best part of my day was the call from my youngest sister who had some very practical and sage advice for me. We were talking about jobs and people who had gotten fired. She reminded me that my dad never did learn how to get along with others. He died alone and broke this past August, and I do not want to end up like him (duh). Part of me knows that I'm not totally my father or his problems, another part of me sees the similarities. The difference is I have a great group of supportive friends. I'm also not a hoarder, and hopefully I'm a lot less selfish than he was. I think I'm a better parent, I'm definitely better with money although that's not saying much, and I get better marks in nutrition. On the other hand, he never struggled with his weight, I don't think either of my parents has ever been fat which doesn't explain why several of their children have these concerns. I used to be extremely thin and in great shape. Then I was not thin and not in good shape. Then I was bone thin and too weak to do much of anything. Then I put on the weight I had lost and I haven't been thin since probably 2012 or so which makes me disappointed in myself. I stood on my trampoline and bounced until my ankles hurt, they still hurt so I wonder if I overdid it and will go easy on myself and them tomorrow.

Today I was thinking about putting together a cookbook. I've wanted to do this for years, and may actually do it this time. Food is carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Tonight I had fish over rice, peas, and carrots. If I could put together a collection of recipes that featured a carb, protein, and fat that was also inexpensive, and tailored to special diets like the one I follow, it would be a niche product, but I bet the people who follow this kind of meal plan would appreciate it. It may be too specialized, on the other hand, it may not. Many foods are very versatile, this is important when you can't have large food groups such as dairy. One thing that getting fired is teaching me is how to eat up the food that I have, hence the fish. I poached it in water without white wine because I didn't have any, and I missed the flavor it imparts, but hey, it didn't cost me anything else to make. I buy celery for a couple dishes, but we end up throwing most of it away. I used to juice it with apples, I love fresh juice, but it's expensive to make, on the other hand, so is throwing food away, and I do find that I look and feel better when I have at least one fresh juice away. This is the kind of thing that leads me to debates about whether fresh juice is a splurge, an investment, neither, or both.

Since my Jackson Hole puzzle is finished I started a new one featuring Big Ben in the background of a sailing village. I had forgotten how many pieces 1,000 is, it took me a long time to flip each piece over and I lost track of the edge pieces that I wish I would have pulled out while I was flipping. The good news is I already have three pieces snapped together. I'm glad that I'm using my time off somewhat constructively, I did some fiction writing at the library. My computer is working again, but I know it is only a matter of time before it dies for good. It's pretty insane how much paperwork I get from certain companies. Last year I gifted a single share of stock to each of my daughters from two companies. I'm still receiving paperwork from that process because the transfer agent for one of the companies changed right in the middle of this. I don't know why this is either, but for some reason Jill's paperwork appears to be in perfect order, and Jane's is a perfect mess, but whatever. That's another call I have to make tomorrow. I don't regret doing this and wish I would have done it a long time ago, but now is better than not at all. I'm still freaking out about the money, but trying not to panic. I wanted to pick up some fruit and a couple of other things from the store, but I have a new policy - no list, no cash, no stores (unless there's some sort of unforeseen circumstances).

I've been reading a lot about college and the university system since my children are getting to be about that age. I read that Amazon is becoming its own system, there's concern that the classroom as we know it will die and be replaced by students at home with devices, and how we're in danger of losing empathy and other human connectedness skills via more and more fixation on screens. I read an article on two types of intelligence, crystallized and fluid. Crystallized intelligence is facts and figures, fluid intelligence is pattern and systems recognition (there's more to it, but that's what I remember). Both are needed, I've always valued fluid intelligence, probably because I have more of it than crystallized intelligence, and know that it's easier to look up when a war was fought than it is to understand why a war started, or ended. I think both of my children have both kinds, and that makes me happy too even though I know that being intelligent doesn't mean you'll do well or be happy in life, it doesn't mean you won't either. I need to look for a job, but I know that I will keep going with things that need to be done around here and get there in my own time. I went through a very traumatic experience, and think taking a few days or even a week or so to heal is okay and probably even wise although others may debate said hypothetical choices.

All in all I'm doing well, much better than I could have predicted. I'm scared, I spent some time just laying in the dark feeling partially paralyzed, but fortunately I got up, took a shower, and got dressed although I did spend most of the day in an unshowered state. Another good thing about being fired is I'm working on kicking my sugar habit. I ran out of dairy free milk and I'll go to the store tomorrow, but I'm going to be really thinking about what I want to make and what I can do with what I have before I walk out the door. I have an appointment with my therapist tomorrow and I'm really looking forward to that. I offered to take Jill driving and pick her up from school, but her dad said he was okay with getting her. I would still like to be outdoors more, but I know I built these habits over time and can't change everything in a couple of days. I want to be proactive, but I've also had a major shock and I want to be realistic rather than frenetic about things. I think the girls will be pleasantly surprised when they come home again. I'm not sure if I'll see Jane, but Jill is expected on Friday unless she would rather walk home than get a ride from her mother (haha). Getting fired was the impetus I needed to make some changes I wanted to be making. It hasn't been as bad as I thought it would be, which doesn't mean I recommend it as a strategy either. All in all, it's going much better than expected and I'm grateful to God for that.

Xoxo,

J

P.S. I really miss painting. I miss a lot of things, but I know that I will go back when I get a job again. That will be my way to celebrate. Grocery shopping and knitting tomorrow, I'll look for a job and do my taxes on Thursday unless I get super ambitious before then.

j

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