ife and death:  April-August proves exhausting

Tom and I returned to Houston after spending the Spring in Austin.  We had two weeks to get things settled before heading off on a long-planned three-week vacation to Australia and New Zealand with our buddy, Dave.

The trip was wonderful.  (Dave did a beautiful pictorial recap of the entire Australia-New Zealand trip.  Be sure not to miss the page with our hotel view in Sydney!  Or my bungee jump!)

It also provided two learning lessons.

First, I learned how to de-couple -- as in a train car decoupling from other cars.  In the first two days in Sydney, both Tom and Dave noticed that I had a tendency to get grumpy.  By looking at things, I realized that what was happening was I was trying to do too much, so that I wouldn't interrupt the others' plans -- but it was coming at the expense of my rest.  When I actually 'said' that out loud, the other two said "You can go back to the hotel and rest whenever you want.  We'll still do our thing."  That simple action had not occurred to me.  We gave it a try over the next couple of days, and things started going much more smoothly.

Second, I learned -- yet again -- to always strive to communicate with our leatherboy, boy tim, no matter how difficult the subject.  When Daddy Tom and I got back to Houston after our lovely 3-week vacation, boy tim was just beside himself.  Now we knew that he'd be lonely while we were gone, so we'd gone to some length to send a postcard almost every day, and also to stop in at Internet cafes and write some e-mail.  So why was our slaveboy so distraught when we got back to Houston and boy tim drove in from Austin for the weekend?  It turns out he'd been thinking for months that Daddy Tom and I did not want him to come on the vacation.  he'd kept it to himself, hoping that we'd surprise him at the last moment and also not realizing what a huge emotional torrent would be unleashed when our plane did in fact leave without him.  So, he was taken a bit by surprise as well.  Thankfully he survived with support from AI-Anon friends and therapy.  But what I learned was he has a button about being left out of things.  (Additional petition question: "Do you know of any emotional 'buttons' or hot-spots that you have?")

What had happened was this: When Daddy Tom and Dave and I started planning the trip in earnest a year ago, our relationship with boy tim was very new.  And boy's finances were rocky.  So I'd stated "There are not enough funds in the Austin accounts to bring you."  When our relationship continued progressing, however, Daddy Tom and I had approached Dave about adding boy tim into the trip.  Dave said that he'd had an unpleasant experience on a vacation with someone he didn't know well, so he would be comfortable with boy tim joining us on part of the trip, but not on all of the trip.  My personal viewpoint was that to make the long and expensive flights to/from worthwhile, any vacation should be a 3-weeker.  But to provide an accompanied 3-week trip for boy tim would require me to spend at least an extra week overseas.  The logistics and costs were difficult.  Not wanting to open a can of worms between Dave and boy tim, we just let sleeping dogs lie and did not mention this to him.  But naturally the previously-stated financial reason started seeming lame when the Austin accounts got a bit healthier.  So when we returned from vacation and our slaveboy was beside himself, it required us explaining all this anyway and major reassuring that indeed we DID WANT him on the trip to help his button let go.  We all are very clear that this could have been avoided if any of us had spoken up before the trip.  Our renewed commitment is to strive to communicate even when it's difficult. 

Thankfully I'd been planning to take boy tim to NLA:Austin's "Texas Leather Pride 2000" which allowed us to spend the next Thursday-Monday together.  (My favorite seminar: Double-handed flogging.  I finally learned how to do it!!!)  It was a healing time.

 The following week, the moving van arrived with all our worldly belongings.  Even though we'd had a pre-move garage sale in Houston, things at the Austin Home were jam-packed.  We rented a storage unit and scheduled a post-move garage sale as well.

We were in town two weeks when my mother took her life after enduring years of painful and disfiguring rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

The emotional fallout of Mother's death is only now appearing, two months later.  More on that when I know.  In the meantime, her death meant that July was filled with doing one thing or another related to wrapping up her affairs:  Filing an "Application for Determination of Heirship" at the County Clerk.  Going next door to Probate Court to try and set a hearing date.  Getting a "Citation by Publication" for the heirship thing published in the notices section of the paper.  Arranging to have some repairs done at Mother's home.  Getting repair supplies at Home Depot.  Making exchanges!  Delivering checks to handymen.  Making calls.  Writing Ameritrade and sending a death certificate + asking that they disburse those funds to me as beneficiary.  Setting up an administrative account to take Mother-related funds in, and pay for expenses, at Bank of America.  Making a special deposit to cover the THREE HUNDRED TWO dollar fee to file the "Application for Determination of Heirship."  (I thought the fee would be something like $20.  Was I ever surprised!)  Calling my sisters and keeping them updated.  And previously, there was a couple of weeks where my sister Susan -- who came down from Fort Worth for two weeks -- and I just went through Mother's papers, recycling what we could, shredding what needed to be shredded, and tossing the rest.  Trying to sell the house ourselves for a short period.  Meetings with a Realtor.  Papers back and forth.  Getting the house painted.  Tom re-cleaning the house to get rid of the dust layer once the painters were done.  (Thanks, Cubby!)  Getting yard men to do the yard before it was shown.  Finding matching carpet for the small section of the house that wasn't recarpeted a year ago.  Yada yada yada.

The major non-Mother event of July for me was preparing for and then interviewing an Austin-based doctor (David Wright) to replace my 10-year relationship with my wonderful doc (Salvato) in Houston.  I liked him.  He was very present when he came in for my appointment.  After looking over the medical history I'd brought him he had a thought-provoking question which I had not expected.  ("Your viral load has been undetectible for four years.  Have you considered going off anti-HIV medications and seeing if your immune system keeps the viral load under control by itself?"  Since I had such a difficult time acclimating to my regimen, the answer for me was "No, absent some compelling reason.")  He didn't flinch at writing the prescriptions I requested how I wanted them written (3 months' supply, with 3 refills -- to total a year of coverage).  He wasn't in a hurry to leave the room, despite being behind on his schedule.  (Indeed, he was AN HOUR AND A HALF late for my appointment, for which he immediately apologized when he came through the exam room door.)

August has been a time for renewal.  I began therapy with someone whom boy had found on the Kink Aware Professionals list.  I asked an Austin-based person to be my new sponsor.  I got in a massage.  (While I was there, I mentioned I've been wanting to do a morning row as a way to meditate.  My masseur told me about the Austin Rowing Club.  I hope to check it out.)  I began reading IT WORKS: HOW AND WHY NA's Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions and its companion, The NA Step Working Guides.  I like the broader wording of How & Why about addicts being obsessive compulsive people.  I also was useful:  I worked on getting the latest issue of ABLED Woman online for my friend Lynn.  And I sought out an Austin-based yoga class.  (Take a moment to check their schedule out. It's amazing.)  The third week of August, my sister Susan and I are taking a getaway vacation to Hilton Head to relax and cry.  Then my new volunteering opportunity begins, coaching retired folks on how to use computers

Love from our family to yours,

In uniform.

Officers Wes & Tom + rookie, boy tim

To Officer Wes & Tom + boy tim's 2000


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