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Tag Archive for ‘Travel’

Leaving in a S.U.V., do know when I’ll be back again

Tomorrow we are leaving. And I feel all kinds of nervous and fidgety and ill-prepared. I haven’t gone to the bank. My nails aren’t done. I have a pile of clothes on top of a bench in my bedroom–but as of yet there is nothing that has made into the yawning abyss of my orange suitcase. I do have my emergency kit packed. I am taking a large bottle of Ambien  even though I only need 10 of them; something about not taking the whole bottle makes me feel like maybe those ten little pills might get lost without a container holding them safely with all their other Ambien friends. Then there are the other mental health tools that I am carrying with me at all times: ear plugs, journal, I-phone, Ativan, Rescue Remedy, Calming aromatherapy oil, lavender hand cream, chocolate and Advil.

I am also taking books (more than I will be able to read in a week)–lots of books. Oh, you want to know which books? You Can Go Home Again: Reconnecting with Your Family,  The Myth of Sisyphus & Other Essays by Camus, The Plague by Camus too and a whole bunch of books on psychotherapy: In Session: The Bond Between Women and Their Therapists , Inside Therapy: Illuminating Writings About Therapists, Patients, and Psychotherapy, and Developments in Infant Observation: The Tavistock Model. I do think that there should be a couple of lighter books that might make for good vacation reading but the truth is that I am not really one for light books intended for vacation reading and, anyways, my book bag is already really heavy.

I thought I was going to make travel themed play-lists for the trip. I would create an amusing and inspired array of songs about travel and home coming and maybe about fathers. Maybe Vacation by the Go-Go’s, The Passenger by Iggy Pop, Graceland by Paul Simon, On The Road Again by Willy, and Daughters by John Mayer, etc. No such play-list exists. Then there was my plan to go to ToysRus and buy travel games. I thought it might be fun to play Scrabble on a magnetic board once I got tired of counting cows and I had run out of amusing things to say and He-weasel had gotten deep into the Zen of driving. However, I have not managed to make it to the store to buy Scrabble: The Travel Edition. I hate ToysRus. It is an evil store that those who are childless not by choice should never have to enter. Maybe it isn’t too late to make a play list.

I was hoping I would have a dream before the trip. We psychodynamic therapists are big on what dreams happened prior to big life events.  I have been waiting all week for such a dream. No dream. I am writing this Tuesday night…so there is still hope for a big dream or a little dream or some kind of dream that might give me the smallest clue about what my psyche thinks about this journey. I think that the reason that I am not dreaming this week is that I am really tired. I am the kind of tired that has you falling asleep during your favorite show. When He-weasel convinces me to get off the couch and go to bed, I am the kind of tired in which I seriously consider not brushing my teeth, washing my face or applying the various creams, potions and jams and jellies that make up my pre-sleep ritual. I have interpreted my extreme fatigue and my inability to wear anything for the last week but the same black Gap tank top, black yoga pants and a black long sleeved tee, that I wear when I get cold because the air conditioner is too high and yet if I turn it down I will be too hot, as a depression. Only I don’t know what I am depressed about. I have nothing to be depressed about. I have asked myself if maybe I do and if I do what it would be—no answers have come.

It’ll feel strange for 12 noon to come tomorrow and to not be at Igor’s. If I was there instead of driving on the 101 I would have told him about how K-LineMardel and I were Tweeting and how out of some jokey banter I came to realize, thanks to K-line, that I have this phobia that I have never told him about. Actually, I have never told anyone other than K-line and Mardel about it. He-weasel doesn’t even know and I didn’t even realize that I had never told him. When I go shopping I have a completely irrational fear that something will fall off the shelves and into my purse and I will leave the store and I will be stopped by store security and I will be in BIG trouble for stealing something that I didn’t take and I didn’t know that I had. The only way that I can preempt my fear of accidental shoplifting is to be sure that my purse is completely zipped up and snapped shut—even that doesn’t always prevent the anxiety. The theme of this fear is that I am afraid of getting in big trouble for something I didn’t do and that no one will believe that I didn’t do it. I think this all goes back to being born to parents who weren’t married. I arrived into my family BEING in BIG trouble even before I had taken my first breath. My Aunt wouldn’t talk to my Father because I was born. My grandparents disapproved of my arrival. I had, without doing anything, caused a lot of trouble. And I didn’t, for years, know why everyone was so upset. No one told me.

Last weekend I bought a pair of sandals at Macy’s. I decided that I wanted to wear the shoes out of the store. I sat down in the shoe department and I put my new shoes on in full view of the salesperson who had sold them to me, the shoes that I had paid for, and then I started to panic (mild panic). I imagined that store security didn’t see me pay for my shoes and that they were on their way  down to come and get me.  In preparation for their arrival I got out the receipt and  had it ready for theml and I walked nervously out the door—preparing to be stopped by security. No one stopped me. They never do. It has never happened. This fear is completely baseless and knowing that doesn’t stop me from having it.

Did I mention that as of yesterday I can no longer read the Tivo menu on the television without my glasses? That has to be symbolic of something. The timing of it is too weird to just write off as normal and devoid of  any  kind of greater meaning. Okay, gotta go, I have packing to do. Next time you hear from me I will be out of L.A.  I liked writing those words…I think I’ll do it again. I will be out of L.A.

My Architect: A Granddaughter’s Construction of Identity

On Thursday I will not be going to Igor’s. This Thursday I am beginning an adventure.  Me, He-weasel, Lily and my mother are going on a trip to find my grandfather. We are  packing the car and driving from L.A. to Portland, Oregon. It will be a kind of family reunion, only there will be no one waiting for us—no party at a park to celebrate our surname. You see my grandfather isn’t actually in Portland; he is buried somewhere in Orlando, Florida. I suppose we could have made a trip to Orlando and gone to Disney World and stopped by the cemetery in which he resides, but I prefer to see the buildings he built. As soon as I learned about my grandfather’s buildings I knew I had to see them for myself. There was an impulse that demanded fulfillment. When I told my mother that I was going to see my grandfather’s buildings she told me that she wanted to come too.

“They thought that it would be a disgrace to go forth as a group. Each entered the forest at a point that he himself had chosen, where it was darkest and there was no path. If there is a path it is someone else’s path and you are not on the adventure.”
Joseph Campbell

When we arrive in Portland on Friday we are going to go to the county records office and stand in line and fill out forms and pay a clerk to give us a listing of all the buildings that my architect grandfather built in Portland. And then we are going to spend the next week going to these places. We will get out of the car and help my mother get out of the car and get Lily’s leash on and make sure we have batteries in the camera and we will stand in front of his buildings.  We will bring no flowers to these monuments of his memory instead we will bring a Rashomon of reactions.

He-weasel will take pictures and talk about the architectural elements of the edifice. My mother will tell stories about her father and she will feel things about him and his abrupt departure from her life. She will feel pride at seeing these things that her father accomplished and she will feel grief that this man who built these buildings that endure was incapable of creating any relationship that did. Lily will pee on the grass in front of my grandfather’s buildings. She will excitedly smell the smells she has never smelt before and she will greet any passer byes as if this was her home. I will stand  in front of what remains of this man, as if standing at his grave-site. I will quietly reflect on this man that I never knew whose choices have impacted my mother’s life and hence, indirectly, my life. I will see if I feel anything. I will listen for any messages that the ghost of my grandfather has for me. I will look to these buildings hoping that they can serve as a mirror, giving me some kind of greater understanding of myself and perhaps some greater insight into my mother.

When we get back in the car my mother will sit quietly and I will know that even though she won’t say it that she feels something like depression in response to these paternal structures and she will imagine the life she would have had if her father hadn’t left her. Other days she will fill the emptiness with a manic spree of recollection. She will tell me stories about where she went to school and how she remembers walking down this street with her brother and how much Portland has changed since she was a child. He-weasel will ask me excitedly which address we are going to next and then he will turn his attentions to navigation. Lily will use the time to nap in her crate or work on her plans for destruction for her chew toy. I will open the new journal I bought just for the trip—the journal that will house the thoughts, feelings and the names of places we stop for coffee along the way. I will document my reactions to this place that we just saw and I will write down all the things my mother said while we stood in front of this building that her father built.  I will write all that I notice. I will watch my mother mourn her father  and I will think about what Jung said,”Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment and especially on their children than the unlived life of the parent.” I will watch my dreams to see how my psyche is responding to this meeting with my grandfather’s ghost. And I will keep a list of things that I want to tell you and another list of things that I want to tell Igor.

There is something about this trip that has a tone of great gravitas and finality to it. And I get the sense that this is the last trip I will ever take with my mother. Maybe that is why I feel that death is coming with us on this trip—or maybe that is just the ghost of my grandfather who will come along for the ride. For my mother and for me, taking this trip is some kind of nameless ritual—it is a ritual of a homecoming, only this isn’t my home and all of the homes we visit will be closed to us.  Likely during our visits to all of his buildings will be us on the outside looking in with no access or entry to the interiors of these buildings  and even if we could enter the man we are seeking would not be there, his ghost eclipsed by the lives of the occupants who call these houses, that he constructed, home. However, I do believe that by showing up at his doors…something will be opened, I just don’t know what that will be.

“We have only to follow the thread of the hero path.
And where we had thought to find an abomination,
we shall find a God.
And where we had thought to slay another,
we shall slay ourselves.
And where we had thought to travel outward,
we shall come to the center of our own existence.
And where we had thought to be alone,
we shall be with all the world.”
Joseph Campbell

All pictures posted here are of some of the photos I found online of my grandfather’s buildings. I can’t help but notice that he has a sort of Jungian aesthetic (yes, I am aware that I could be projecting).

p.s. Please check out this LOVELY, LOVELY, LOVELY post!

Monkey Business


Most days when I talk to He-weasel at work the conversation goes like this:
Me: Hi, how are you doing?
He: Good. But I am really busy.
Me: Oh.
He: What are you doing?
Me:(Internal gasp) The same things I am always doing. Nothing new.
He: Oh, okay. I gotta go, I have a (pick one of the following: call, meeting, appointment) and I have to run.
Me: Okay, bye. See you tonight.

I got tired of this daily ritual. With each call I realized how I am not doing anything new or exciting, each day, for the most part, I do what I always do and he does what he always does. So I decided on a new routine that would not trigger existential angst in me. I decided to call him with a joke each day. I call and he answers the phone. I tell him the joke and it is usually a groaner. He laughs and then I say goodbye and that I’ll see him later. So far it is really working and there are no longer any uncomfortable reminders of the monotony of my everyday life.

Continue reading ‘Monkey Business’

Guess where I am

1. I am not in L.A.
2. I am not in California.
3. I am deliriously happy.
4. I am in the city that has a drink named after it. The ingredients for said drink are sweet vermouth, bourbon whiskey, bitters, maraschino cherry and orange.
5. It is a city that never sleeps.
6. I can see the Cleopatra earrings up close and personal.
7. I am hanging with Gigi and Henry.

Continue reading ‘Guess where I am’

Mental hopscotch

I have been home for three days now and I still feel that weird re-entry and mild grief that comes with coming home from vacation. My laundry is clean, my cosmetics are put away and all my calls that came in while I was gone have been returned. I just can’t seem to get back in the swing of things. I think it is because as long as Hillman is in town that the vacation continues. I will see him again at the Hammer museum where we is going to lecture on Jung’s Red Book. And next week I go back to Santa Barbara for a one-day event that he is giving on the mythology of the DSM-IV.
Continue reading ‘Mental hopscotch’

What I brought back from Santa Barbara

1. As promised, pie charts, graphs and the raw numbers of shawl wearers at the James Hillman conference.

Continue reading ‘What I brought back from Santa Barbara’

About Me

My name is Tracey, aka La Belette Rouge. I am a psychotherapist and the author of Freudian Sip @ Psychology Today. I blog about psychology, my therapy, dreams, writing, meaning making, home, longing, loss, infertility and other things that delight or inspire me. I try to make deep and elusive psychodynamic concepts accessible and funny. For more information, click here .
These blog posts are informational only and not meant to replace individual psychotherapy, counseling or medical advice. If you are in need of help, reaching out to a professional may help you decide how to proceed or how to find the care you need. For a referral, contact

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