Let's not do that again

Yesterday was really fucking rough. Not gonna lie. It was probably one of the hardest days I’ve been through in the past couple of months after I reached some level of stability. I picked the kids up Thursday for the first time in a couple of weeks due to scheduling and miscommunication. We had dinner and settled in, everyone was a little uneasy and probably hurt a bit because of a lack of communication. My daughter has a device that I can send her messages on and she forgot to check them so she probably thought I wasn’t communicating with her. When we got to our place and she checked them, she felt better about things and we settled in for the night.

Friday was another pretty decent day, stress at work but other than that I made it out. I picked up an unexpected race for Saturday and the more information I got about it, the more uneasy I felt. I had originally planned to bring the kids out and let them see what I do when I’m timing but they didn’t want to make the trek and my dad was willing to come over early and crash on the couch so they could sleep in their own beds rather than have an unexpected sleepover. We got home and got ready for dinner only to find out the burgers in the freezer were bad and my dad was planning to come over, he was kind enough to stop at the store and save the day. We walked over to Golden Boy for a hot chocolate/cookie/nightcap and ran into Autumn and Sarah and they were both so great with the kids and everything was great. We got back to the house and settled in, I got things packed and ready to go.

My dad rolled in early, I took off and headed to Rockwall for the race. It was all fine until I got on-site and immediately the RD was on my case, she kept saying she was worried and that I was making her nervous for some reason. The main reason I was struggling at this event was that the boxes I was working with at the start line (an unexpected complication) were not mine and I wasn’t familiar with any quirks. I got them on and tried to connect them and they wouldn’t go. I tried again. I called Kyle and tried again. I talked to the guy Kyle picked the race up from and tried again. Finally, it got to the point where I needed to go and set up the finish and I went to get in my car and the battery was dead. I asked the RD for a jump, I had cables of course, and was on my way. The battery was dead because I had spent so much time at the start for what I thought I was going to be a five minute connect and go. I zoomed over to the finish, set up in 15 minutes and headed back to the start to try and sort things out. They were starting late and I got there just in time to reconnect using my usual equipment and things went off fine until the primary box started to freak out on me. Classic “turn it off, turn it back on” and things were ok after that…until the results didn’t come in.

I am used to dealing with challenging situations but I am not used to being treated like an incompetent. So I’m dealing with this situation and I get a “your daughter thinks she’s alone in the house” text from her mother. So I’m dealing with that, dealing with the race and trying to keep things civil and not turning into a raging fire. I told my ex she was totally valid in being angry about the situation, that I wasn’t happy with the amount of communication about the kids (she wasn’t either) and then the question of “do you really want to do this?” RD coming up to my car right as the “do you want to fix this” question comes out. Onsite, I don’t have any control over the server, I don’t know how to access it and all I can do is talk to my guy. I was onsite under the pretense that I WAS the timer, and I am the ONSITE timer. All scoring happens off-site. So I’m sitting there with no way to fix any of these issues, personal or professional, and my kids are worried and unhappy and I’m unhappy and stressed and emotionally ambushed and at a loss.

I told my ex I would call her on the way back to town, I told the RD I had done everything I could on my end and I understood her frustration but this kind of thing doesn’t happen (“Oh, it does, I’m living it right now!!”) and my boss that I needed to get back to my kids. I was driving back and had a “You are right, my priorities are out of wack and while I don’t think anyone WANTS this kind of thing it is necessary for my personal, physical and emotional health” conversation with my ex. I got a message to go pick up a thumb drive and head to another location to try and manually pull the data off the box that had malfunctioned, I was pulled over in a gas station trying to get fuel and my debit card was giving me fraud alerts and then finally I was told not to worry about the trip down to Dallas because at that point it would just make things worse.

I called my dad back and said I would be able to make it to lunch and made it back to Denton. My daughter was upset because the restaurant they were at had fried seafood that was fried in the same oil as everything else so she couldn’t really eat much (she did get a chicken sandwich and fruit), my son was bouncing around from too much candy and I was totally fried. We got home, sorted things out and after some quiet time, we made dinner (sandwiches and a quinoa bowl for me) and spent some quiet time together. We played music together and then went to see some friends play at Armadillo, the kids played cards with some people and I got a chance to sit and see them be happy. They had a blast.

I got up this morning and made sourdough waffles, sat with my son while he played a game on my computer and then talked to my kids about how I was going to call them every night before bed so that we could touch base. Because of how busy they are now, I don’t know when the right time to call is but I think we’ve got that sorted.

Something my ex said, that I don’t think is true, is that I’m just like my dad in that I drag my kids around to whatever I’m doing and don’t worry about them being happy, just with me. She was angry and probably just trying to be as honest as possible but it came out as petty and hurtful. My kids are the most important thing and the things I do, I want them to be a part of. It was really good that they weren’t with me at that event, it was shitty and it turned out that the malfunction was in the equipment provided by the RD, not my issue, and there wasn’t anything I could have done to make things better onsite. I do have great RDs I work for that are more than happy for me to have my family with me when I’m on-site and I will still take my kids with me when I can and not take the jobs that I can’t.

I also have to remember that I have boundaries in place and when they are violated, it’s ok to feel hurt and ambushed and still have a point of growth from that violation. I’ve been following this psychologist on IG who posted something this morning that really made sense to me. She said:

“Setting boundaries will bring up a lot for us emotionally. Especially when setting them with family. The way our family responds to boundaries is a big indicator of what we’ve been taught about boundaries. This is our mirror.

I preach about being misunderstood for a reason. It is the path to living an authentic life. You will be misunderstood when you place boundaries. Wounded people will tell you you’re selfish, rude, or you’ve changed. This will bring up panic. That fear causes most people to go back to the unconscious patterning and allow boundaries to be blurred.”

I’m proud to say that I didn’t allow my boundaries to be blurred. That through the discomfort and emotional pain of yesterday I didn’t fold back into old patterns and I was able to find a way to communicate through that emotional discomfort that this isn’t something I want but something I need. My kids need functional, happy, parents and co-parenting is hard but with communication and an open heart, I believe it can be done to the benefit of everyone. I’m still healing, my ex is still healing and my kids are playing and happy in the next room and they are still healing too. But we had sourdough waffles and I’m happy to report that they have gotten better and so will we.

Fuck the noise and just breathe.

DMA Recap

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Last night was the culmination of a long project spearheaded by Courtney and Nina to get the Spiderweb Salon crew in the Dallas Museum of Art. The installation is in the C3 section of the museum and is made up of three phones that have been rigged to play pieces by 50 artists, myself included, that respond to work that is in the permanent collection and it will be there until January. Beyond the fact that a ragtag bunch of artists from around the Metroplex, primarily from around the Denton area, have work exhibited in one of the major art institutions in the Texas, it was the culmination of my last few years of self realization and reflection.

Going back to late May when my world was falling apart, I wrote a piece in reaction to a piece called Portrait of My Mother by Philip Evergood. I’ve posted the text of the poem I wrote, the first in over 15 years, on here before, I’ll post a link to the audio here.

I wrote this piece the night after the Spiderweb show where I really realized things needed to be over for me to continue moving forward as a healthy adult and was written mostly in one sitting, the first lines were started in The Blanton Museum on the UT campus earlier in the month. Over the years, I had been coming to some kind of peace about the way that my own relationship with my mother had fallen apart over years of all sorts of misunderstandings about mental illness, my own propensity towards what I called “the artists temperament” and being in a relationship where I felt like I wasn’t seen but also where I had a very real sense of responsibility and a desire to make it work without any regard to myself. What I couldn’t see at the time of writing was the situational nature of my own depression, when I finally made the decision and after a few months of letting things work through my system was that I wasn’t becoming my mother, I was making a different choice because I could.

I’ve only performed this piece three times, twice for recording purposes and once live, and every time I think I am ready to view this as a piece of work rather than a cry for help or a confession of my self or a eulogy for a relationship that stopped existing years ago. Last night at the DMA, I was dressed fancy (for me) and Erica did a little makeup so I could sparkle and when I got up to perform in the gallery in front of the largest crowd the DMA has ever had at a C3 opening, I was mostly ok. I didn’t my voice didn’t waver but there was one moment towards the end where my emotions started creeping in. I didn’t break and I haven’t broken. I’m making it.

Now that this show has been installed, I’m happy to say that I’m in the best place I can be right now and even though I’m crazy busy this weekend, at some point I’ll have a chance to celebrate what is a once in a lifetime thing and the community that made it happen. I’ll be conferencing today in Dallas and timing a race in Callisburg tomorrow but Sunday I’ll find more time to reflect.

Slow Down, Old Boy

Whew! It’s been pretty nuts the past weekend and I’m just now getting a chance to sit down and process things.

I spend enough time alone that time seems to pass much slower when I’m off work than when I’m working. My days are mostly spent waiting for the end of the day, not in a bad way necessarily because that is the time that I get to focus on myself and the work that I’m trying to do with regard to where I want to go in the future. Saturday I laid pretty low and got things together for the housewarming party so that I didn’t have too much to do on Sunday during the day and could go out and run. After blowing off some steam on Friday, I definitely needed the break and stayed in Saturday night and watched some Sherlock. Sunday I made it out for 9 miles with the crew on the square and ran with John a good bit. We have spent enough miles together that conversation comes pretty easily and we hung with Tim for a bit while he worked out his leg issues on the climb up University.

When I got home, I decided to put the final touches on the house for the party and moved some seating around and portioned out the pizza dough for what could have been a much bigger group. I wasn’t really planning on a number but I did want to make sure that anyone who came wouldn’t leave hungry. I ran around a little bit and got some things together from the store, not making it up to climb at Summit like I had planned on because I was running around so much. Things were pretty squared away by 2 and I was going to go climb but then checked and remembered that I had set the event for 3-10, not 4-10 and needed to jump in the shower before people showed up.

Em dropped in right around 3:15 and Matty walked over shortly after that. We chatted a bit, Matty brought me a cute little cactus plushie, and John rolled in shortly after that. People started showing up and it was so nice to have other people in my space enjoying themselves. We had a good mix of art and running folks, with some crossover of course. Things wrapped up around 9 and I had an opportunity to clean up and get things mostly ready for the week ahead. After everyone left, I was struck with a deep sense of being alone. It doesn’t make sense to feel that way after 20 people just left but I absolutely did. I sat on the couch and just let the feeling wash over and then went to bed.

Truth is, I’m not alone.

Monday, my usual workouts didn’t happen but I did get a chance to run with Ben and Tyler at Northlakes and then I got a run in with Lauren last night and a climbing session in with a surprise Josh sighting! I was driving up to the gym thinking about how I hadn’t been climbing in a bit and that I missed climbing with Josh and lo and behold, there he was just back from vacation to Japan. Good friends can make all the difference.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about the difference in putting things on hold and holding space. I can hold space for people without holding onto any emotional baggage and still support without borrowing trouble from them. Years ago, I had a friend that I worked with at Starbucks and when I started working with her she asked me to bring my guitar to work and I’d show up at 5:00 am for work and everything would be done already and we would play and sing for a bit before work. One of the songs that she wanted to sing was the Leonard Cohen “Famous Blue Raincoat” classic and I was thinking about the line “Thanks for the trouble you took from her eyes, I thought it was there for good so I never tried.” What a different frame of mind. Taking the trouble from someone else. Things have changed for me to the point where I’m recognizing that I don’t need to take trouble from someone else, I can be there (or not) while they sort things out. Seems simple, right?

Get That Boy To Sleep

It has been quite a week. Monday I went up to work early and ran a couple of miles in the park. Last year I had run to work a couple of days a week for most of the year. I don’t have a nice route to work anymore but driving up early and running in the park has been a good substitute. After the regular school day was done, we had auditions for our fall show followed by an open house and a short climbing session. I got back home around 9 on Monday.

Tuesday we did the same thing with auditions and then I went up and climbed with Autumn for a bit. Both of my arms were starting to gripe at me after this climb so I decided to take until Monday before I head back up to the climbing gym. Tyler told me some stories about a guy he used to climb with who pushed too hard, too fast and ended up getting injured and never climbing again. I don’t think I’m pushing it that hard but a few days off will do me good.

Wednesday went up early and ran a couple miles with Lauren and then took it easy instead of running with the whole social run pack. I was planning to get up Thursday and get some miles in and even though I didn’t really want to get up this morning, I did go and get 3 pretty quick miles. Must have been the cooler temperatures. We did callbacks this afternoon and had the show cast before 5:30. I drove from work over to pick up the kids for the weekend.

Sam was sick this morning so we weren’t sure if he was going to come tonight or not. I drove over to pick them up and was invited to come in and see the kids room. I haven’t really made a big deal out of it, trying to give my ex her space and time without imposing into her spaces. The kids really wanted me to see their room so it was good to get a chance to see their room. As things wind their way down to what the new normal will be, it’s been good to feel less anger coming through text messages and interactions.

I’m heading out to Cleburne this weekend to time a race, the kids are spending time with their grandparents on Friday night and Saturday during the day. I’ll pick them up Saturday evening and then make a nice breakfast for them, and probably some sourdough pizza there in the mix. I’ll have them next weekend too since we are on the 5-1 weekend cycle this month.

Grip

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Last week, my cousin Mark posted a photo of himself with my great uncle John and great aunt Jean at their assisted living facility. His caption for the photo was essentially that John had taken a turn for the worse and they called in hospice care for him as his end of life was near. I could tell looking at the photo it was the right call. I won’t describe the look on John’s face, it reminded me of the look on my grandmother’s face shortly before she died from lung cancer. If you’ve spent any time near the dying, it is probably a look you know well and can hold in your mind. Friday morning I woke up and got ready for work, not checking the family group on Facebook until shortly before 11 when I have my first break for the day. John had died Thursday night nearly 95 years after he was born. In over 300 years, no Taylor in that family line has lived longer.

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My grandfather and John were identical twin brothers and even though when I was growing up we didn’t see John and Jean very often for whatever reason, John always held a place in my mind that was up there with Grandfather. When Jim died, John’s house was the place that everyone gathered after the funeral and I remember being together with the extended family and holding those happy memories close has been a way of honoring John and Jim, and Gramma Betty and Aunt Jean (who has Alzheimer’s and isn’t really aware that John is no longer with her). The last time that I saw John and Jean we were up in the Paradise Valley for a family reunion. John was wheelchair bound after a stroke and Jean was physically present but already mostly mentally in a different world. John’s mind was still sharp, he struggled with clear speech from the stroke, and there were some family conversations happening that were really interesting to be a part of.

That reunion was also the second time that I had cooked for the whole clan. The first time was after Grandfather’s funeral and I made enough pizza dough to cook for the 25 or so family members that were gathered in the house on Harvard Ave. I was working with my Aunt Joanie, also probably the last time that I had an opportunity to cook with her before we lost touch. I really didn’t see it at the time, but perhaps that was my memorial for John before he passed. Feeding the family in memory of those who’ve gone before. We even used the sourdough starter that Grandfather started in the 1960’s, something my uncle Pete had brought up for sourdough waffles, another family tradition and one that my uncle Paul suggested as a memorial for John this weekend. I don’t have my kids with me this weekend but last weekend we did make sourdough waffles for breakfast and the leftovers are in the freezer.

Friday night, I went over to check out Matty’s collab with Meat Paw Studios Thicc Boiz 2 and then over to Dan’s to see Courtney and Sarah Ruth and Dahlia and Rachel play in the Improv Lotto. Basic premise is that musicians were grouped randomly together and then performed an improvised set. I stayed out until after 2 and was able to make it to a 9:30 climb the next morning. My right arm as been a little funky since I slipped off a foot hold on Monday, I kept things easy and was just a little sore after. It was really nice to climb with Chris and his GF for the first time in a long while. They were the first ones to bring me into the climbing gym, Chris used his guest pass to get me in and it was fun to show the progress that I’ve made as a climber in that time.

Had lunch with dad and Suzanne, talked a little about John and his life and then had dinner with them again for Suzanne’s birthday which was early this week. Next week is packed but I’ve got the house clean, food prepped and I’ll be ready to hit the ground running come Monday. It ain’t Monday yet.

Care

Before you start reading this, you should start the video and then continue to read.

I have been trying to go the grocery store on weekends, this weekend it didn’t happen so all I had in the house were four cans of assorted beans, some brown/wild rice mix and a little bit of a kale mix that I had from the previous week along with the leftover tomatoes from the pizza I made when the kids were over. I mixed up the beans and the tomatoes and cooked them off on Sunday afternoon along with some rice and have been eating pretty much that for the last couple of days.

Monday I climbed for around two hours and then again on Tuesday after running 5 miles in the heat of the day so I decided I should probably pick up a couple more things at the grocery store. Today I got ahold of the kids on the drive home from work and swung by the store to pick up some more fresh veggies to make some of my favorites. Cabbage and cilantro with lime and salt, roasted sweet potatoes and zucchini and a bunch of kale, food enough to last through the rest of the week. I was shredding up the cabbage and it made me remember some things from the past that hadn’t really landed.

When I first started dating my ex, even after we were first married (pretty close on the heels of dating), we used to go to this Mexican place in Tyler on the square called Don Juans. I’d never been there, I didn’t grow up in Texas and while I liked most Mexican food, this was the first place I’d been to with more authentic style food. I was vegetarian and she was vegan (for about another month or two) and we would go in and get tacos made with cabbage and cilantro, cheese and avocado. I don’t remember what else was in them but I do remember the cabbage and cilantro slaw, I’ve made some version of it ever since. So here I am shredding a head of cabbage and remembering those early days of our relationship.

The rest of the veg is in the oven and I’m playing though some old songs that I’ve used as therapy for longer than I’d like to admit. I was singing through this Damien Jurado song called “I Am Still Here" and was surprised to get a little choked up when I was singing the line “here is a photo from our wedding day.” Not because I shouldn’t have any feelings about that, I have the picture in my mind. Black and white, I had long hair and glasses, looked like a John Lennon knock off and she had micro-bangs and a white dress. We got married at her parents house that had just been built, my grandfather performed the ceremony in the living room.

I know there was a point when I first heard this song many years ago where I had the perspective of the character in the song, I felt emotionally abandoned and tried over and over to find a way to rectify the void that had grown between us. It wasn’t something that anyone did, it was just there and eventually I stopped trying to fix the void and pretended that it wasn’t there and wasn’t important and didn’t have anything to do with how I felt, it was the way it was.

My dad would always talk about how my grandfather “tied a good knot” and for a few years, that was my motivation to make things work. It kept being something that I held onto when things got rough through any number of things. I still think about that phrase, “a good knot,” and it really makes me think about how my perspective on the world has changed since then. I had recently left the church for good but I was still trying to live in a way that fit a morality and worldview that I was breaking away from, I think I am still trying to reprogram my mind away from some of those thought patterns and behaviors. Those knots are deep and will take time to untie.

Quiet

Sunday Courtney and Conor stopped by the house to check things out and say “hi". The kids were pretty excited to have some people in the house that they hadn’t seen in a long time and Courtney brought her instant camera and took some nice pictures of me and the kids. My son took a couple of pictures too and it is really nice, and hard, to look at the fridge and see those pictures smiling back at me.

The weekend with the kids was over pretty quickly on Sunday when their mother came to pick them up. Things were less weird than the last time that she came to pick them up and I count that as a good thing. Trying to maintain at least a polite relationship with her has been something I’ve tried to focus on because we are working together to raise these kiddos, even if I only see them 9-10 days a month during the school year. It was hard to see them go and I got emotional for the first time in four or five days. I know they’ll be back and I can talk to them when I want to but it is still tough to see them walk out the door and know that I won’t see them for over a week.

I had planned to make it to the Sundown fundraiser show on Sunday evening to support Courtney and George but by the time the kids left, I wasn’t really in a spot where sitting for two hours around some emotionally heavy work would have been a good plan. Autumn had invited me over for a cookout thing and I decided that was going to be a better fit for where I was at emotionally in that particular moment. Honestly, until I got to the cookout I was still planning to try and make it over to see the show at Aura but after sitting for a few minutes, realized I was where I needed to be. Light conversation and some drinks were what I needed after the struggle of getting the kids ready to go and trying to be ok with seeing them walk out the door.

Stayed out till around 9:30, got home and fell asleep on the couch for a while meaning that today when I woke up I was pretty tired and didn’t really feel like running but I did it anyway. Last year I had started run-commuting a few times a week and really started to like getting my runs at the beginning and end of the day. Today I drove to work and ran a couple of miles at Southlakes before heading in to shower and get ready for work. My stomach was a little sour this morning, brisket and such the night before isn’t what my stomach is used to at this point, but I made the miles work for me. They day itself was pretty uneventful. It never ceases to amaze me how the dynamics of a class can either be really good or bad depending on scheduling and I saw a little bit of everything today. We are working in all of my classes on building an ensemble feeling and so far things are moving in the direction that I’d like to see them head for the rest of the year.

I’ve been trying to focus on doing my job and going home and being ok with that. I don’t really spend any time talking to other adults at work which has been both good and bad, especially if I don’t have any plans when I get off work I might go all day without talking with someone and that can be difficult. I normally thrive when I’m building relationships with other people and I feel like I’m in a spot where I don’t know how to invite people into my life, such as it is. I always appreciate the people that are willing to just reach out and ask me to come do things with them, big groups, small groups it doesn’t really make a difference right now.

I’m going to head up and climb for a bit and then try to wrap my head around the next few weeks for work and timing and get my goals for the next few months lined up with regard to personal growth and the direction I want to head in the coming years. Lots to ponder and process.