Daily Affirmation

The best things in life are free.
The second best are very expensive.
- Coco Chanel

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Karen + Solitude = Crazy Town

I am incredibly bored.  L is in Utah until Tuesday morning helping our son Andrew move into a new apartment.  Over the course of the day I'm finding out some very unpleasant things about myself (which I thought maybe I'd outgrown) - not the least of which is the fact that I do not like being on my own.  I'm not afraid.  I'm not nervous.  I'm lonely.  Things I normally enjoy doing, like reading a book, are not things I like to do when no one is around.  If L is in the other room, or just gone for work or an hour or two, I enjoy having time to myself to read and putter around.  But when the solitude is involuntary, I'm just restless.  I walk from room to room, and I have a hard time settling down and doing anything at all. Nothing seems quite right, the usual things don't please me.

I was doing pretty well this morning.  I had a pedicure appointment, and I got my tootsies painted a beautiful shade of lavender - just right for my nephew's wedding next weekend.  I had planned to drive down and help my son pack a few boxes, but when I called him he said he wasn't packing, and sounded like he wasn't up for company.  Bummer.  Have I said how much I'm going to miss him?  We had dinner last night, and when we came back to the house we talked until 10:00.  The two of us can really talk, and I thoroughly enjoyed being with him.  But back to my unhappy solitude.

I thought about my painting project that I never seem to have time for during the week.  I'd bought a cotton decorative pillow that was pretty much a blank canvas except for the embroidered RL (Ralph Lauren) in the corner.  I wanted to paint a starfish on it, and I'd been circling that project for a couple of weeks, having a hard time diving in.  So perfect - I had nothing but time this afternoon, and I pictured happy hours and hours of painting.  Maybe even a couple of days worth.  I was done in 2 hours.  I guess I'm a little faster than I thought I'd be.  Here is the project:

I'm still not sure I like it.  Usually I have to leave whatever I've painted over night and look at it again the next day.  It always looks off to me right after I've stared at it intensely for a couple of hours.  But it's finished, other than heat setting the paint.  At that point it was 3:00.  What to do now?

I called a friend of mine who is single - no pesky husband to get in the way.  Not home.  There was a wedding reception this evening for a girl who attends our church.  I called another friend to see if they had enough help with everything.  The reply back was "More than enough."  Crap.  I can't even hire myself out as help for the evening.  That's when I started to really feel sorry for myself.

I thought about Scott who is moving to Texas in a week and a half.  It made me really sad.  By this time it was about 5:30 and time for dinner.  Since I wasn't going to pour red punch at a wedding reception, I thought I might as well fix dinner.  Steak tacos.  Meh.  I hate eating alone.  My daughter called and I talked to her like I hadn't talked to her in a month.  She was on her way home from a baby shower (she is 3 hours ahead in  Massachusetts).  Finally she arrived home and had to go.  Nuts.  She had suggested I go blog but I had nothing to blog about.  She told me to take pictures of my pillow.  So I did - more for something to do than because I'm in love with it.

Just as I finished taking a picture or two, the phone rang.  I could see it was my dad, (caller ID) but I thought he and mom were still on their Alaskan cruise?  But as I started talking to him I heard that they'd come home last night, and he was just checking in, letting me know they were back.  Now, you'd have to know my dad to fully appreciate this, but he is not a big phone talker - at least not with me.  He'll talk business with my brothers for quite awhile, but with me, after he's asked about the kids he sort of runs out of things to say and passes me over to Mom.

But tonight I guess we both needed someone to talk to.  He was full of details and stories of their trip to Alaska.  They saw a whole pod of whales - babies and all - and a couple of bears.  Dozens of eagles.  Two glaciers.  They had enjoyed the company of the friends they'd gone with, and had met lots of other nice people.  A waitress in the dining room had given them all special treatment.  Best of all, there was food 24 hours a day, and he'd put on 10 pounds!  (Mom had put on 2 pounds.)  He went on, and on, and on.  And it was wonderful.  This is a man who has unlimited curiosity about absolutely everything. They had attended a wonderful presentation given by a naturalist, and had learned all kinds of things.  They'd seen a show that was comparable to Cirque du Soleil, and a comedian (my dad called him a humorist - that's so my dad...) that you could take your whole family to who was very funny.  I know it sounds odd, but I so enjoyed listening to him be so excited about everything they'd seen and done.  It tickled me right down to my soul.  And it brought tears to my eyes.  Because this man has such an interest in everything that goes on in this world.  He loves star gazing and solar events - can you imagine the stars he must have seen up in Alaska?  I'll have to ask him about that.

For a few minutes as we talked, we had a real connection.  For in that way, I am my father's daughter.  I have a weird fascination with odd facts, just like he does.  We both think about random things, and wonder about events most people don't give a second's thought to.  Fortunately, I also inherited my mother's sociability, so I'm able to hide my geekiness from others.  My dad's is out there for all to see, but that's part of what makes him so unique and lovable.

Am I being overly sentimental?  Probably.  I know I'm getting a little bit weepy over ridiculousness.  But my dad and I had a really nice conversation, and it was good to hear the enthusiasm and excitement in his voice.  He wasn't thinking about his cancer, or not feeling well.  He'd seen some wonders and was happy to share them with me.  My husband once made the comment that my dad will do very well in the next life, with his boundless curiosity and love of learning.  Yes, he will - but I'm not quite ready for that yet.  For today, it was perfect to have my dad all to myself and listen as he gushed about Alaska.  Especially when I was wishing so hard for someone to talk to.

So, to sum up: I'm lonely, and I don't like how quiet this house is right now.  To compensate, I've got my i-Tunes going here, and the TV on in the other room.  I need to work on being better company for myself, because I get a little dramatic and it's not pretty.  Talking to my dad made me ridiculously happy, and a little bit teary all at the same time.  (There's that drama, I think)   It's hard to explain - let's just say my heart was full as I listened to how happy he sounded.  It was a combination of relief that he sounded so well, love for his unique personality, and gratitude for being his daughter.  Another day he won't understand me, and I won't understand him.  But today we both got it right.


  1. This is a sensational post, karen! First of all, you can be very proud of your pillow project. I clicked to enlarge and it's a beautiful piece of work. Secondly, the time you spent alone today and this evening made you feel restless and triggered a chain of sad thoughts, but please realize that it also served you. It put you in a rare state of mind that allowed you to have an uncharacteristically frank and animated conversation with your father. I am elated to know that he was able to turn his attention away from his recent health concerns and get away on an Alaskan cruise. I know it did him a world of good and gave you some peace of mind. We can all learn from your dad. He has retained his childlike curiosity and sense of wonder, something that I also strive to do. Please don't feel lonely, karen. You have blog friends around the world who care about you, including sleepy Shady who is up very late on the east coast. Good night, dear friend!

  2. Ah, I love it when you talk about Grandpa! I think he passed his curiosity onto me as well. And you know, Tom left me in Hamburg on Monday. I am staying with a friend who is great and sociable, but I am STILL lonely. So, you aren't ALONE in that (hehe).

  3. Isn't it interesting how sometimes we get what we need, exactly when we need it? I can't help but think it wasn't coincidence your father calling to chat.
    That pillow of yours----Fabulous! Love it.

  4. That really touched my heart about the connection you have with your dad. Maybe those other things just got cleared out so you could enjoy that time with him you wouldn't have been able to have otherwise.

    And your pillow is absolutely fab- I have so little artistic talent that if it's not paint by the numbers, I'd have to draw on stick figures.

  5. Your Dad's "merry heart" was your good medicne. So glad for the talk you shared. I am one of those who really enjoys being at home alone, from time to time, because it is such a rarity most of the time. Today is another day, Scarlett, and I hope it is a good one for you.

  6. I really like the pillow. For fun you should go to my daughter's blog. Her husband brought home a pretty sea star from the ocean yesterday.


    When I was younger, I used to crave time alone to putter around and read. Now, I'm like you. I don't like to be alone. I get lonely.

    I understand your comments about your Dad. Sometimes I make a connection with my Dad while talking on the phone, other times not so much. I've been know to play the conversation over and over in my head when a connection is made.

    Why didn't you come to Utah?

  7. It almost sounds like you got all the loneliness worked out in writing this post. No? The pillow is beautiful and I understand silence.

  8. To everyone: thank you all for your kind comments! Today is a MUCH better day. I made the conscious decision to get myself up and go to church so I could sit among the living for awhile. As soon as I sat down I knew I was where I was supposed to be. And now that I'm home I feel much more peaceful than last night. It could also be due to the fact that I cried on the phone to my husband last night and got it all out. Yes, I'm shameless like that. But he is a good friend and partner and he understands me completely.

  9. I'm glad you're better today and hopefully the next few days will fly by until L is home. When Jack was at camp for a week I thought I would get tons of stuff done around the house..nah..mostly I just puttered and put off and also felt out of it. When I was younger I enjoyed it when everyone was gone and I had the place to myself..I got tons done. But now that I'm older I guess I just don't feel the need to be so alone anymore..or so ambitious! I love the pillow and would also love to see more of your painting. It's great to have had a super conversation with your Dad. You'll treasure that forever. I can understand his loving Alaska. We took a cruise there and loved it...except the food. It just wasn't that good for some reason. I lost 4lbs...weird..made me want to go back for a year long cruise and see how much more I could lose!

  10. LOVE the pillow! LOVE grandpa, and LOVE this post :) MIss you like crazy! Wish we coulda been together while L was away!

  11. I'm glad your blog is an outlet to share how you feel and understand yourself ... your joys and your fears. I've always been pretty okay being alone TO A POINT... Then I have to interact and learn and get sharpened by others.. We need one another! The pillow is great!

  12. Now I know what happened to me - someone patted me on the head!

    Hope your involuntary solitude is over. have a great week.

  13. I love the honesty of these sort of stream-of-consciousness posts you sometimes do. The inner workings of your mind and spirit are always so intriguing! (Appealing, too.)

    And I love the pillow, by the way. You are one talented woman.


  14. I think you did a great job on the pillow. You really are one talented gal.

    I am so like you. I hate it when Dick has to go out of town. Fortunately, he doesn't do it very often. Unlike you, I AM afraid. I hear all kinds of noises. In fact the last time it was so bad that now when he goes out of town I make him fly out of LAX and then he can take me to my daughter's place. He doesn't seem to mind doing that so I will never be here alone again!!

    It was so nice that you had such a great talk with your dad. You will probably always remember this conversation. You are so fortunatae to have him with you. My dad died when I was ten. I guess that is why my mom and I were so very close. All my brothers and sisters were so much older than I. They were all out on their own when my dad died.

    I've heard about how great that Alaskan trip is!

  15. Oh so I stopped in right at the very best time. What an unexpected and wondrous post. Serendipity with your Dad and memories made. I know you are worrying about Scott's move...every inch the move from us magnifies to millions of miles and Texas must seem like the far side of the moon right now! Hang on...I'm hoping L has either returned by now or will get there soon.
    Paint on dear friend, your talent is amazing...!


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