Flood waters

A flash flood claimed the floor of our house in 4 rooms this past weekend. The water has receded and the house is drying out, but I still feel water-logged in just about every way way possible.

The flooring in the kitchen and living room was some beat up old parquet tiling that I loved. It was the perfect floor for us. It was tough as nails, it looked and sounded warm to walk on, it could be mopped with a rag mop squeezed out from a bucket and could take anything we dished out to it. I realize there are so many people who lost so much more than we did…and sometimes when I think about that it helps…some. It usually doesn’t help at all and does nothing to loosen the knots in my stomach.

Mama took a tumble a couple of weeks ago and got the worst hematoma I think I’ve ever seen, complete with a bleeding cut on it. 2 weeks later it still hurts her pretty badly. 

It’s fast coming to the point – if it hasn’t arrived there already – where Mama is becoming a dull time job. I’ve had 3 regular clients move out of state, a couple of them color clients, and a couple ofbthem just stopped calling. My income there has taken such a hit it’s actually costing me money to keep the 2nd salon business open. There are a couple of options on what to do about that, run a discount campaigne in the local paper, which gave me some really great clients the last time I did that, or close up shop and focus on Mom. On the one hand, taking on new clients could potentially mean more people to disappoint if something comes up with Mom and I have to reschedule them. On the other hand, Mom just turned 90, which means she’s lived more years than she has remaining living…and I’ll need something to fill my time after she’s gone. I already know my life will not be the same without Mom in it, and I dread that day. I do not want it to come, but the reality is it will. And if I close my business, I’ve already gotten out and come back in once. How many chances does someone get to build the same kind of business after letting people down and forcing them to find someone else to do their hair?

It’s a dilemma I’ve been facing for a couple of years now, and I’m still no closer to reaching a decision one way or the other.

On a brighter note, Mama’s 90th birthday celebration was every kind of wonderful I’d hoped it would be. This picture pretty much tells it all in terms of how the day was for Mama


We drove to this place way up in the mountains a few towns away that I’d been hearing about for years. It’s ladies serving home cooked meals from a cafe that was clearly from a house overlooking one of the most breathtaking sights, right at the top of a mountain. The drive was beautiful, the food was wonderful, and the staff at the cafe couldn’t have made it more special. They let us bring in her birthday cake and light the candles for her to blow out. One of the waitresses even took this video for us
Mama’s Birthday song

All of her immediate family was there – including her one and only grandchild

I set up a shot with my timer to capture this family photo:


That was a great day.

Settling in to a new normal

It feels like I’m finding my footing now that I’ve been out of the social media game a little over 3 months.  I’m starting to feel like myself again – which is startling!  While I was in it, I hadn’t realized what it had done to me.  I just knew that something wasn’t right, it wasn’t working, and it was time to make some changes.

A friend recently told me that she’d announced on facebook that she’d become a Christian.  Now, I choose to no longer identify myself as a Christian and have been through the ringer getting over some of the damage that was done to my inner being as a result of my time in the evangelical community.  I still feel like it’s a bad neighborhood for me, but I respect my friend for having found and embraced her faith, and I respect her faith.  Some people, however, did not pull any punches in letting her know they did not.  I experienced a fair amount of that back when I was walking that road after reconnecting with people I’d known before following Christ.  It stung.  It was hurtful.  It was disheartening.  It was disappointing, every time it happened.  Why do people have to suck??  And why has social media unleashed such a cataclysmic tsunami of people now going through life as if it’s perfectly okay to suck at being human beings?  Okay, so Christianity isn’t your bag.  That doesn’t give you the right to knock people down and upside the head with that which is your bag!

The saddest thing about that is, I did some of that as well.  I came out of my Christianity experience very badly damaged with no idea if I would ever recover.  I spent months expressing on facebook and in blogs all the things I objected to as far as what goes on in the evangelical community and how unlike Jesus it is.  I hurt some people.  I owe some apologies.  It doesn’t mean I don’t have legitimate grievances in terms of what happened to me and what’s being done to people whose only wish in life is to love and follow their Lord and how that’s being twisted and exploited on a pretty widespread basis.   There is a lot of muddying the stream.  That’s wrong.  I know it’s wrong.  It’s very wrong.  It’s right to speak up about it.  But there’s a way to do that, and I didn’t always go about it the right way.

But, as Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better.  Then when you know better, do better.”  As far as my conscience has been able to tell thus far, I’ve done that and will do that.  What a gift was given to us in Maya Angelou!!

Spring springing

It feels like it’s been forever since experiencing that feeling of all being right with the world…I suppose that’s because it had been forever.  And I only just realized this because, while sitting on the back porch drinking coffee, I experienced that feeling, realizing it had been a long time.

Reuniting with my son was proving more difficult than I had anticipated.  I expected that familial familiarity to be much more prevalent than it actually was in the beginning.  Perhaps it was guilt at having given him up to people I barely knew.  Perhaps it was grief triggered by all that I’d lost and missed out on standing before my very eyes in flesh and blood.  Perhaps I felt completely unworthy of the right to have him in my life because what I did in giving him up for adoption was…it’s one of those things where one questions oneself, ‘What kind of mother does that???’  Perhaps it’s all of the above and a few dynamics that have not occurred to me yet.  I also was uneasy with the parents who raised him, wondering if they were okay with all this.  He’s living under their roof still, so I worried that it could cause tension in the family.

Well, recently, that was all put to rest.  I’d run into his dad back in 2012 when Mama was in the hospital beginning her journey that led to a real brush with death.  He was coming out of the main entrance as we were going in.  I stopped him, and he greeted me warmly and said he would like for us to get together and talk and gave me his cell phone number to exchange texts on the when and where (hospital cafeteria, later that afternoon).  He told me that our son had showed them my facebook page (before we’d become friends on facebook) andsaid that it was nothing against them but that he would like to meet me.  They assured him that they wanted him to connect with me.  It wouldn’t be until October of last year, 2016, until making that actually happen.  Once it did happen, I wondered how his mom was with it, was she okay?  I didn’t know – until 2 days ago when I ran into her at a sandwich shop.  They live 2 towns away, so that was quite a surprise.  Mom had a CT scan procedure going on that took all day because low kidney function had prevented her from drinking the dye solution to get a picture the week or two before, so she had to do the slow drip, CT, followed by 5 hours of fluid IV to slowly flush it out of her system.  After the imaging, I went to a nearby bakery/sandwich shop, and in walked my son’s mom and his sister (also adopted), who was home for Spring Break.  It was a warm meeting, and she was clearly genuinely glad to see me.  We talked about my son and I getting together and related things, and it came very easily to her, much to my surprise and relief.

So a week ago marks a milestone in my son’s life.  He turned 25.  I got to give him a birthday present for the first time.  Last year I sent an online gift certificate because we had not yet met in person, but that’s not the same as handing one’s child a package.  The gift was from me and Mom.  It was a handmade cigar box guitar and some accessories (glass bottle slide, a lightweight adjustable cord for plugging into an amp (it’s both acoustic and electric) and some replacement strings.  It was amazing to see his face as he opened it!!  It was clear that he really liked it, and that was one of the most satisfied feelings I’ve experienced in a very long time.  The birthday lunch with my son, Mom, and me was the most at ease I had felt being present with him.  It was really quite lovely.

So yeah…all is indeed right with the world.

And a month goes by…

Okay!  Exactly 1 month to the day since the last entry – which means that I was actually out living life…a good thing, methinks.  Since last we “spoke” I have planted things, wrestled with the city, painted some (house-painting, that is), picked up large pieces of roofing during a storm then fretted over Steve being on the roof making repairs, and so much more.

As far as the planting goes, last year I decided to start a butterfly garden and started planting flowers and shrubs to attract them.  Early last summer, some swallowtail butterflies were born on my parsley – and who knew that the butterflies like to lay their eggs in parsley?  I certainly didn’t before last year.  They also like to eat it – and eat, and eat, and eat!  I had to go out and buy more organic parsley plants to satisfy the demand on those very hungry, very beautiful caterpillars.  So, needless to say, there will be parsley aplenty this coming growing season.  Additionally, 1 of 2 veggie garden plots is now prepared for plants and seeds.

Wrestling with the city…hoo-wee!  For the 3rd year in a row, notices have been taped to our door saying we were in violation of city codes.  The 1st 2 years it was for grass that was too tall – even though I told the officer going around inspecting that I was letting the grass that I liked go to seed, letting the seed mature, then scattering the seed with the lawn mower.  I had already checked with both next door and across the street neighbors to see if they had any objections, and, as I told the officer, once the initial growing for seed occurred in the early summer, the yard would be kept up in terms of mowing for the remainder of the season.  But notices were taped to the door anyway.

This year, we were cited for limbs in our backyard.  The letter sent via certified mail contained pictures of the offending items, and the angle that it was photographed from meant that the code enforcement officer had to enter through a latched gate and stand in the middle of the fenced backyard to get the pictures – which we had a BIG problem with!!  This resulted in a very scathing letter to the editor and an equally scathing conversation with the powers that be at the city council meeting, passing the pictures to the council members and explaining how they were obtained followed by my reading the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution and the statement that our 4th Amendment rights had been violated and I take issue with that.  I started out with 11 points that I wanted to make about the whole code enforcement thing but decided at the last minute to just pack a quick and powerful punch with the violation of our Constitutional rights.  A number of residents got up and spoke, and we got results.  It was announced by the director of Public Works that the backyard searches were no longer going to take place, that they would only take written notice from neighbors with legal access about troublesome backyard debris, etc., to be followed up with the city attorney and a determination made as to whether or not there is probable cause to obtain a warrant to further inspect the property.  Yay, citizens!!  A few other changes were announced regarding code enforcement, but that was the biggie.

Here is what the city cited us for in our backyard:

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What’s on the tarp and in the wheelbarrow is mulch.  That little pile of sticks beside the mulch is what they took a picture of and cited us for.  The sticks were all that was left after a couple of our very large, mature trees dropped huge limbs last year.

Here is what the backyard looks like now:

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Part of the bare spots are due to big pieces of the fallen limbs being piled up last summer after the huge branch fell from that tall wild cherry tree by the shed, and part of it is where Steve dug up the roots of a massive yucca plant that had been problematic for years.  Another bare spot is where we burned some of the branches after obtaining a burn permit.  We spent the whole summer dealing with that as well as the humongous limb that fell from a large tree in the front yard: cutting firewood, finding people to haul off big portions of what couldn’t be used as firewood, hiring people to help us with burning part of it…a whole slew of problems to solve.

The little grey roundish thing toward the lower left corner of the cleanup picture is a little gnome and his teapot hut in the butterfly garden:

This is the snow that just happened this past weekend:20170311_175247.jpg

House-painting is by no means completed, but a color for the living room has been chosen, and work on the ceiling is what must come first.  The goal throughout the house is to do away with ceiling popcorn for a smoother surface that takes less paint and looks far more attractive.

So, yeah.  Storm.  Roof.  We had the bright idea of going grocery shopping late at night with a storm moving in.  It ended up being a good thing, though, because when we got back, I caught a glimpse of something on the way into the house and decided to move in closer to see what it was.  It was a piece of roofing about 9 square feet in size.  While picking that up in the pouring rain, I noticed another piece about the same size, then another, and another.  For 3 days after that stormy night, Steve spent many hours a day repairing the roof it came off of, which was on an enclosed back porch, not original to the house, built rather cheaply around an outdoor patio slab.  The roof over it is almost flat, which made it very easy for the wind to catch underneath the roofing material and and rip it right off as if it was paper.  Thankfully, Steve and a friend had installed new roofing material over the original roofing to fix a leak last year, and the original roof was still in place, so we only had a small amount of water leaking into the back porch room.  We have talked for years about taking out the shottily-built porch room and making it a screened-in porch.  We both love the idea and get excited talking about it, so maybe that can happen in the next few years.

In other news, I am considering discontinuing my booth rental salon job while keeping the once a week on Monday veterans’ retirement home haircutting job to devote more time to tending to Mom.  I had 3 clients move out of state recently, and that seriously cut into the cost of renting a station, making it kind of not worth trying to maintain it.  I’ve been wrestling with this for a while, and it may be the right call.  Mom goes to a senior-focused exercise program twice a week with a personal coach.  One session is spent doing exercises in a pool, and I’m pretty much the only person who can help her get into her swimwear as well as help get her into dry clothes afterward.  She also has a lot of other medical doctors that she has to see regularly, and it’s getting so that other things such as having her eyes checked keep getting pushed back.  She needs a lot more of my time and attention now, and she deserves that.

Maybe life will stop coming at us so fast and there will be more time for blogging.  That would be nice.

What travel is like now

We left Steve’s oldest brother’s house this afternoon and drove to his mom’s new home.  The drive was beautiful!!  As we moved further south, we started noticing jillions of daffodil blooms and bushes in bloom, and the drive was breathtaking!  I didn’t take a single picture, which is a little unlike me now that I have such easy camera access thanks to smart phones.  Normally, I’d have been chomping at the bit to get stuff up on facebook.  I did think about that a little, so I haven’t gotten all of that completely out of my system, but it’s no longer front and center.  I did take a few pictures once we got to his mom’s.  This is the favorite thus far:

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It’s Steve’s mom at 5 months and 5 days of age.  Isn’t she delightful?  And she’s just as delightful to this very day.

I’m sure I’ll get more pictures of this beautiful place, but today was about visiting with family that we don’t get to see that often and taking in the beauty of the world around us.

Introducing…

Tonight I’m going to talk a little about the cult I was a part of for 10 years before narrowly escaping with what was left of my sanity.

This may be all over the place.  While playing piano, Beethoven, I was thinking about one of my few true friends from that time and place…which, first let me start by saying that most of the people who were truly friends are no longer there either, with a few heartbreaking exceptions (heartbreaking because what a f***ing waste of one’s lifeblood and potential!).  There was this beautiful couple who came in with their 6 (at the time, there were new additions later) beautiful kids not long after I started going to this cult (I wasn’t aware it was a cult at the time, but, then, that’s how people get sucked in, by not knowing).  The wife and mom, I’ll call her name Starla, is one of the sweetest, purest souls I’ve ever encountered, and there’s not a devious or spiteful bone in her body.

So this family was there for pretty much as long as I was.  I learned that a few years after I left, the couple ran into some personal crises, and how the pastor chose to handle it was to slander them before the whole congregation, virtually making it impossible for them to continue on with the ministry (if you can call it that).  Many of their kids were grown, married, and having children of their own by that time, so there was no leaving as an intact family.  And, last I heard, the grown kids were having little to nothing to do with their parents because they “weren’t right” with God, or whatever the f*** the trip is.  As I thought of that tonight, I burned with anger.  Burned!  Burned that some megalomaniac had the power to subjugate people to such a point that their parents could become an unclean thing in their eyes, objects of scorn to shun.  These are very same parents who invested their whole selves and lives into their kids, making sure they had every advantage they could give them – as well as the whole bit of changing their poopy diapers, going years without sleep to care for them, going without so their kids wouldn’t have to, parents who loved their kids fiercely (I watched them, and there’s no faking fierce love like that).  I’m sure they weren’t perfect parents, but no one is.  The kids were sweet too, and I cared for them a great deal, but how dare they???  How f***ing dare they?!

So, kids, let that be a lesson to you.  Don’t let your parents join a cult.  You’ll grow up to suck as human beings if you do.

cult

Jitter #32

This poem took my breath away! It’s not only a stunner of a poem, is heart-stoppingly beautiful in its truth.

bejitters

Who I Am

I am white,
black, brown,
yellow, red…

But that’s not who I am.

I am male,
female, man,
woman,
yin, yang…

But that’s not who I am.

I am Christian,
Muslim, Jewish,
Buddhist, Taoist,
Hindu, Wiccan,
atheist, agnostic…

But that’s not who I am.

I am straight, gay,
lesbian, somewhere
along the
continuum…

But that’s not who I am.

I am American,
European, Indian,
Asian, Middle Eastern,
a child of the world…

But that’s not who I am.

I’m a lefty, a righty,
a leftist, a rightist,
liberal, conservative,
centrist,
ambidextrous,
bisexual,
queer…

But that’s not who I am.

When you label me,
you marginalize me.

When you see me only
as part of a group,
you diminish me.

When you assume
I act and think and feel
as others like me,
you delude yourself,
because there are no others
like me.

I am unique,
not a…

View original post 137 more words

Days…too many to count.

I may start titling/categorizing these blog posts by week, and if that proves to be as cumbersome as trying to keep the days straight, I may start going by months.

So this is now, Monday, day 36, week 5, and it’s now into the 2nd month since starting all this.  Having let so many days pass without blogging, it seems I have lost some days…as in, I can’t remember what I did last Thursday, last Friday, a good bit of Saturday, and even a little bit of Sunday.  I don’t like that!  It was really good to sit down at the end of a day and take stock.  It felt like a really positive thing, and perhaps may have indeed been the catalyst for all the great projects that got started – and completed (yay!!).

Thankfully, I tend to take a lot of pictures with the mobile, so that helps to capture some of the events of the past few days.  Thursday, Steve had completed the repairs to the rattan chair he started the other day (see pics, about the 5th one down, from previous post), so I started working on the cosmetic changes.  It’s too bad I didn’t think about pictures before, because the chair did look pretty rough – which is probably why the thrift store had it priced at $5.  I had thrown out the cushion that came with it and made a whole new one – and added a matching throw pillow.  There is one place that needs new wrap, and that’ll happen by and by.  By Friday, into the wee hours of the morning, it was all done and looked like this:

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The chair is for Mom.  She occupies a very small studio apartment in the independent living facility where she currently resides and had borrowed a chair from me, but it took up a pretty big portion of the room at an access point to many of her daily functions, and I was concerned for her safety maneuvering while trying to adjust the heat, or turn on her floor lamp, or take out or put up her saxophone, or open her patio door with the previous chair taking up all that space in the awkward way that it was.  The new chair is unbelievably lightweight, and the wheels make it easy to move out of her way – plus it’s much easier for her to get in and out of if she decides to sit on that side of the room.

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I cannot remember what the hell happened on Friday.  Did we go out?  Did we stay in?  I haven’t a clue.  That’s pitiful!  And irritating.  Getting older is kinda great in a few surprising ways, and kinda bites in quite a few other ways.

Saturday, Mama wanted to go out for Mexican food, so that’s what we did before band practice.  It sounded better this past week, and felt like we were started to gel once again.

Later that night I started smearing paint on the living room walls from sample I’d recently picked up, and I think the color’s going to work.  It’s a pretty intense lime green, but it’s pleasant and complimentary to all the stuff in the room.  Areas of all 4 walls were painted with it, and…so far so good.  I’ll give it more time to make sure the shade stays agreeable.

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Sunday we put the house back together from practice the night before and ran a few errands.  Steve set my keyboards up with a different system in terms of amplification, and I’ve practiced on my own now both yesterday and today, so whatever he did made it much more inviting to sit down at the keys.  The typical tendency previously was to not sit down at the keys until the band showed up.

Today was the usual day of cutting hair for the residents of the veterans’ retirement home.  A new man came in today, and I asked what kind of music he liked, and he said, “Classical.”  Most guys like to hear vintage Country: stuff like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, George Jones, Merle Haggard, Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, etc.  I’ve even started playing the old, old stuff making a Pandora station of The Carter Family, and I’ve been loving that channel!  Today, though, listening to Classical inspired me to go home and try Beethoven’s Sonata Opus 27, Number 2 – also known as Moonlight Sonata.

I’m pretty adept at playing by ear, but I also read music.  It’s a lot more frustrating to play from reading music, which is why I never actually learned to play this piece by following the written score.  What has inevitably happened with this Sonata is the runs never were quite right.  So when I got home in the evening, I did an exercise where I would stop myself if my mind started to drift into rote and lead me into playing by ear – thus losing my place in the lines.  I even made it part of the exercise to play as much as possible by only looking at the music with very little looking at the hands.  It’s a painstaking process, but there are sure to be benefits.  Tim, my brother-in-law, has been writing new songs, and inspiration for the keyboard part has eluded me on a few of the songs.  I’m hoping this exercise will help conjure up some enjoyable parts to play.

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Overall, since disconnecting, I’ve found myself in a very good place.  It’s been easier lately to organize thought processes, which has led to all this recent productivity!  Loving that!!  Even the rough patches haven’t seemed quite as rough of late.

Day 31, Wednesday, and a new month begins!

I start the month of February with a renewed sense of optimism now that the shadow of what to do about facebook is no longer cast.  It’s the month of our 6th wedding anniversary, and Steve put in for some time off the week of.  I’d asked if we could go exploring the Buffalo River.  A few days later, though, he said he would like to visit his brother who lives south of us and also visit his mom and stepdad in the new home and town they just moved into.  I felt it was a lovely idea!

I asked my son if he would consider house sitting for us that week.  He likes having a whole place all to himself, and I was hoping he would be open to it.  It was a thrill to receive word back that he was.

Today was a beautiful sunny day, and I was able to get some flower beds trimmed up and cleaned up before the sun went down.

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That little rock/green thing in the corner was a surprise Steve left for me one day.  When he first put it there, it was hidden behind plants and went unnoticed until I started doing some clean up later in the growing season.  It’s from Mama’s fish tank.  It tickled me so much that he’d put it there for me to find, I decided to leave it.

 

Trimming back the sage meant I had a nice amount to make smudge sticks.  I’d never made them before today.  I don’t know if I did it right as I didn’t google or youtube instructions, but they look right.  Guess I’ll find out soon enough when I start to burn one of them.  I don’t even really know how long to let it cure.  Guess I’ll have to at least look that up.

20170201_16524620170201_210253.jpg20170201_1724421abcThat’s Steve repairing a rattan chair that we got for Mom.

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After the sun went down, I got some of the rockwork in the above bed freshened up.  Maybe I’ll be able to get a good picture of it in the next day or two.  I love doing rock work.  It’s like putting together a jigsaw puzzle, and it lends some beauty to the flower beds during the dormant months as well as protection from a lawn mower pushed around by an indiscriminate husband whom I learned the hard way doesn’t seem to know the different between a flower and grass.

Speaking of flowers, as I was thinking about the pollinators that will be coming around come spring, which is what I plant the flowers to attract, it’s become time to begin talking with the city about their mosquito control methods.  They’ve been sending trucks around spraying throughout the summer months the last`2-3 years, and that is the precise amount of time that honey bees have become a rare sighting.

Days 29, 30 – Monday, Tuesday Rogue Darn Socks

We are probably the last 2 people on the planet to do so, but last night (Monday), we finally saw Rogue One, the 10:00 showing.

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SPOILER ALERT:

I thought it was a good story well told.  They didn’t make the ending seem as sad as it actually was, which is to their credit, I suppose…?

I was curious about the re-creation of Princess Leia, so I looked it up.  I recall marveling how Tarkin looked the same as I’d remembered him as well.  I had no idea that the actor who played him in the original Lucas film had passed away years ago.  The story of how he appeared in the film is even more fascinating than how they digitally re-created young Princess Leia.

Rogue One filmmakers explain how they digitally recreated two characters

What was actually even more extraordinary was that Steve and I went out.  Not only so, but we went out 2 nights in a row!  Are we becoming party animals in our old age?  Not a chance, but it’s a fun rhetorical question to ask.

Just to punctuate the point of the boring homebodies we are, here is what I’m doing tonight: catching up on This Is Us on Hulu and darning these wool socks that I’ve had for years and years.  I keep patching them because I cannot find wool socks that are true sweater socks.  I keep looking online and ordering socks that are described as sweater socks, but, apparently, sock makers don’t actually know what sweaters are like, so I keep getting disappointed and keep mending my old real sweater socks.

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So it’s been 30 days!  In Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous a chip is given for 30 days clean and sober.  I marked my 30 days by deactivating.  Still didn’t look at the notifications and didn’t actually open any private messages either.  I have to say, it feels like my soul has become lighter.  The pressure is off.  It feels as though life can begin again.