Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Once I get batteries....

Shouldn't be so hard. Get batteries. But over a week later and I still haven't marked that item off my to do list.

This is partly because my personal organizer was in my bag that was stolen. My life has been very disrupted by all this theft stuff. One of us has now been the victim of some serious identify theft/bank fraud. $6,000 wrongfully withdrawn from her home equity account. This has ratcheted up the attention that we are getting from the police and the bank. All of us have now had to close all accounts, open new ones and deal with all the paper trail that it takes to make that a smooth transition. We've had to place a 'fraud alert' on our social security numbers. Believe it or not, all of these precautions make it nearly impossible for you to track any activity against your own accounts or your credit. So, we have to rely on daily calls from the bank about potential activity that we must clear. Its all very consuming.

Oh, and did I mention I have a young child?

Meanwhile, we're preparing for our 2nd Anniversary celebration and I'll be pleasantly surprised if we have a good turnout. All this theft stuff has made it difficult for me to organize, disseminate invitations and information, and prepare for the day.

Oh, and did you remember that we still have to service our lovely customers as they come into the shop?

I haven't been able to attend to any of the long term planning that needs to be done. Should be pushing for a meeting with our benefactress. Should be actively seeking a working partner. Should be writing updated business plan.

Oh, and did I tell you that I'm supposed to be writing a book?

Forget the three ring circus. This is easily a twelve ring circus. And I'm supposed to be in ten of them at a time. I can do that? Right?

Barely managing.....

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Removals, Replacements, Returns

There has been a rash of thefts here lately. Personal items are being taken. Valuable ones. One laptop computer. Gone. One wallet. Missing. One digital camera. Absconded. One purse and backpack. Departed. Another purse/satchel. Extracted.

These 'removals' have been hard on us. Our open hearted community has an edge of suspicion. Who is it? It couldn't be a knitter?! Are we being watched? Its very disquieting.

Meanwhile, community has risen to the occasion once again. Lovely Veronica has given me an old digital camera that she had replaced. Its not fancy, but it should do what I need. (Once I get batteries.)

During all these removals of seemingly important things, there has been a more important return. A member of the community who took a hiatus after the community endured a very rough patch last spring. Mea culpa. Allow me to explain:

Almost immediately after opening Circles, my then 4 year old daughter started having Grand Mal seizures. Predominantly in the night, up to 8 of them at a time. They went undiagnosed for awhile. In May of 2004, it became clear that she wasn't just having nightmares, or night terrrors. The terror was all mine as I saw in the early morning light my daughter start shaking, then flop backwards into my lap as she gasped for air and her lips turned blue and her eyes rolled back in her head until she went completely unconscious and lay in my lap as though dead. We went straight to the hospital where she was admitted for 3 days. After innumerable tests, we had a diagnosis: there is nothing wrong with her. Well, except that she has seizures. No reason. No diagnosis. Some recommendations for medication. Potentially very debilitating medications. It would be a guessing game as to what meds would be the right ones. We passed.

Now, imagine, being awakened every night by your young child having seizures. If you're lucky, only 1. If not, 8. And imagine, that your child has never slept through a night. Nor have you since that child's birth. (I'll pause here to tell you she's better now. Its been 10 months since she's had seizure after being treated for sleep apnea by an acupunturist. But this story is about how my long term sleep deprivation impacted Circles. Let's get back to that.)

Impaired judgement and lack of grace are the result. I was feeling high anxiety when I made the decision to entangle my life with a young woman (YW) I thought could help me. I hired her as part time nanny for my daughter and part time employee at Circles. We (me, my daughter, YW and YW's boyfriend) got an apartment together so I could have other adults around. I had been told that due to 'collateral damage' which can occur from a seizure victim falling, my daughter could not ever be unsupervised. This made it difficult to shower, use the toilet, do laundry, etc.

I knew the first night in the new apartment that I had made a mistake. A story told by the boyfriend and the ensuing dialogue left me deeply concerned. I still had the same stresses, and didn't know how to extricate myself. I made attempts at dialogue to see if things could improve. But, no. Feeling powerless, and always being very open, I spoke to the members of the community about it. Some of the younger members, who felt they were YW's peers were not comfortable with that. It was not the most graceful of me, I admit. This is my community and its the place I go for reflection, feedback, insight. I do have my internal rules: never say anything about someone that you haven't said directly to them; only speak if you are looking for what you might do to make things better. Still, some heard it as an of endictment of YW.

Of course, they couldn't know what I wasn't speaking of. Then it happened in a painfully public way. A lie. In front of witnesses, she told a community member that I had instructed YW to expel this person from a social circle. I was appalled when I learned. The extrication began.

Caught in the melee, were community members that seemed to feel either that I had been unduly harsh, or that they had some affinity to her. Some had been part of the action to expel this person. Though they all witnessed her lie, and some became victims of further lying, they still felt that I was the offensive party in the aftermath. It was clear to me they did not understand a) that they didn't understand what community was, b)lies are not usually lonely, they are a self-propagating virus, c) how this propensity for lying had filled my life with land mines, d) how the farther you let a parasite burrow, the more painful it is to remove it. After some attempts at dialogue, I sadly had to let them go. Their youthful vibrance would be missed.

After a period of 'mourning', the air cleared and certain fundamentals of community had been established and Circles has been thriving. You can see the recovery in the shop, as the clutter has cleared, systems are back in order, and the inventory is flowing. The pruned entity has regrown.

On Sunday, one of the affected members returned to a social circle. She looked better than ever and it was wonderful to have her back. She seemed surprised at how good the shop felt. We both acknowledged that we each had come through hard times and life was restabilizing. After all the 'removals' of the last few weeks, the replacement of the camera and the return of a friend far outshine the darkness of theft. It makes me feel sorry for the thief. To steal from someone is to steal the possibility of connection. For all the anxieties in my life, for all the chaos, for all the little losses, my life is rich with connection to so many wonderful people That thief must be lonely. Probably needs to learn to knit....