Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Introvert, Immersed

Morning all.

I woke up at 5:37 this morning. And I’m staying up, lest I should batter my alarm clock into submission again. I have been working all 3pm-midnight shifts for the last five days. Yesterday, I went back to bed after waking up at 5am from my mother’s alarm and my daughter’s nightmare that she was about to be run over by a car (the beeping of the alarm coincided with the beeping of the car, incidentally). I made the mistake of going back to sleep: I don’t remember hitting the alarm, but I must have. And Violet ended up being an hour late to school.

Parental fail.

But back to dreaming. I woke up from my own nightmare due to the alarm as well. In it, I was driving down a road with my daughter to an unfamiliar highway. The car in front of us slowed to a stop. I got out to discover that the passengers inside were dead. Soon we learned the cause of their death: there were violent, baseball-bat wielding zombies ahead. They looked like regular people but if you stopped making eye contact with them they would try to smash your windows in and kill you. Violet and I were soon surrounded, trying to make eye contact with every single person in view. A young man with a baseball cap and a patchy beard was about to smash the front windshield in when I woke up.

My dream analysis? It’s quite simple. The social anxiety at work has been getting to me, as I am instructed to make eye contact with every customer I see.

And why the social anxiety? Well, the root of it is obvious. I was once a carefree, outgoing kid growing up in Poughkeepsie, NY. I hit fifth grade (I was Violet’s age at the time). I had many, diverse friends: Carol Chow, Archana Aiwhaldi, and Wakeelah Wakefield, to name a few.

Then I moved to Idaho.

The first few months at Pierce Park Elementary were great: I quickly made friends with a gal named Becky, and we jumped rope and joked and played board games all the time. I moved from a trailer to a house, and consequently changed schools.

Ah, cute little Collister Elementary. I was excited to meet new people and I met another lovely girl named Donelle. She and I were nearly instant besties. Her friend Rhianna, however, became jealous of our friendship. Soon everyone in the sixth-grade classes was making fun of me, besides sweet Donelle.

They mocked everything, from my hair to my shoes. I even had the class bully pushing me around, most memorably when he shoved me down the stairs and pushed me up against the stairway wall. He was rewarded with a weak punch to his left jaw.

I came home from school crying every day. My mother’s suggestion to tell them to “stick it where the sun don’t shine” was met with derision. I couldn’t do anything to please those unbelievably cruel assholes. Yes, I know they were kids. But assholes is the appropriate term nonetheless. I learned something about human nature that was extremely important: however, apart from Donelle’s supportive friendship, I would vote to skip this chapter in my life altogether if given the choice.

Seventh grade, and introduction to other kids, made life a great deal better. I finally decided to sing in front of other people (I had been practicing Debbie Gibson and Madonna songs for this very purpose). The choir director, Mrs. Rosen, allowed me to join the older girls choir: Reflections. This was a transformative period in my life, and I am ever grateful for all the friends and memories I made in subsequent choirs.

But the cruelness displayed by my sixth-grade contemporaries has scarred me. In my weakest moments, I have been too afraid to even speak to someone on the phone. Customer service isn’t difficult for me considering that one just needs to be polite and respectful to others from all walks of life. However, my therapist at one point declared that it was not an ideal situation for me to be in constant social contact for a living.

So. What do I do? I get another job where speaking to strangers is a must. The people I work with are wonderful, and it’s a great company. But the trauma from ridicules past sometimes comes to the surface, especially while cashiering. Because with each new customer the awkward social situation starts afresh.

Foolhardy or immersion therapy? Only time will tell…

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Such Stuff

“The crystal vase, a wedding gift, which through the years has made the shift. What once held flowers now holds ash from my two packs a day.”  ---The Last Royals, Crystal Vases

I’ve been fiddling with the layout of the blog. A fresh start, if you will. Microwaving myself a cup of coffee. Time to write. But what to write when creativity is elusive?

My life lately has revolved around my retail job. Oh yes. Retail at Christmas. I’ve run into very few rude customers, it seems most of the people here in Idaho are pleasant enough. Which is fortunate, since after all, I am afraid of people. The oddest seasonal item for sale? The men’s reindeer briefs, with bells on them. In my mind I refer to them as the “Jingle Balls.”

In other news, awaiting the day when I know when I’m getting the rest of my stuff. It should be in January. With the stuff comes a storage bill, which isn’t ideal. With my possessions also comes the deluge of memories, some of which will be difficult to bear. But, this separation of items is necessary.

Who will keep the wedding pictures, I wonder? It will most likely be me. Give me a minute to breathe, I haven’t given myself time to really think about this. It’s just stuff. But right now it’s stabbing me in the heart. Gah.

The house? His. Of course. He always referred to it as his house anyway, never our house.

The treadmill. Who needs it? He is the runner of the family, he should be the one to keep it. The piano, a gift from my parents upon my graduation, will now be for the little girls who grace this house. Unless my uncoordinated hands can learn to play it again. I’m not going to lie, that thing is awesome, but a heavy sonofabitch.

My miscellaneous college papers and half-written projects. My reports that I wrote in ninth grade, each a miniature book. Abigail Adams and Henry Clay were some serious business. Hoping these examples of my nerdiness  weren’t ruined by the leak in the auxiliary garage.

The lovely crystal vase that his boss bought for us as a wedding gift. I suppose he can keep it for when he buys his new significant other flowers. An antique sewing table, my Norman Rockwell posters. Pieces of my personality. A book and bookshelves, because BOOKS. The David Sedaris boxed book on CD set. The signed copy of Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls. Coffee mugs. CDs. My favorite horror movie. Seemingly insignificant knickknacks. Office supplies, oh, how I have missed my notebooks and office supplies. Stuff, stuff, and more stuff.

The wedding cake topper. A blown-glass castle, broken by many military moves. Fitting, in a sense.

The person I was? No longer exists. Back to my maiden name. Trying to pursue some of the dreams I had before I became part of a rather dysfunctional couple.

And what do I have here? The important stuff. Sure, a few closets full of clothes. Hats and purses and miscellaneous personal items. But I recognize these are insignificant compared to the snuggly little cat. And my lovely daughter, who I could not breathe without. Since her conception she was always the individual that mattered most to me.

I've lived without these things  for more than a year and realized more than ever that it is just stuff. It only has meaning as far as I manage to attach that meaning to it.

Breathe in and out, put one foot in front of the other. You can do this...




Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Writer's Clock

Trying to figure out what to say can be difficult at times.

You wouldn't believe how many books there are on writer's block. My problem is not necessarily having lack of ideas to write. It is a question of having time to concentrate. I have the house to myself this morning, so there is no better time.

I worry about accessibility most of all. Sure, I can write whatever I want, but is the average reader interested? I have published a few pieces for The Mighty, but these seemingly significant pieces get little attention among the barrage of list, click-baity articles promoted by so many.

My life is not a list. I do not fit neatly into numbered things. I cannot spew what you want to hear. Seven things people with anxiety don't want you to say. Ten things suicidal people want you to know. I cannot tailor my reality to these confines: does this necessitate that as an author I should be a failure? Because I don't fit into a precise little recipe?

I pray that the answer is no.

I am afraid of many things. Yes, spiders and left turns and raw chicken have their place. It is amusing in a way. I try to be like my father in that I never miss the opportunity to laugh at myself. But there are more serious issues at hand. Sure, everyone on my friend list on Facebook knows that I'm a little nuts. But am I afraid to share my maladies in a broader sense? Am I afraid of having a captive audience?

Well, yes. I alternate between the desperate "pay attention to MEEEEEEEE," and the thought that some troll might actually come across my page and attack me for being myself. Could I handle it? Sure I could, but it might prove taxing on the psyche.

Part of obsessive compulsive disorder is being terrified of the "what ifs" in life.
What if I turn left instead of right and end up in an accident? What if something I say negatively impacts my daughter's view of the world or self esteem? The issue of personal potential for success often comes up in these thoughts. What if I actually go viral with an article someday but am never able to repeat the feat? I am both dazzled by possibility and terrified of it.

I see other writers, especially humorists, and I see their success. I know I am capable of doing a consistent, quality level of work. But if you are screaming into the void, what exactly is the point?

Well this morning, unexpectedly, the void bit back. A humor site shared one of my posts and I received a page like from a random individual. It seems small, but it's a start. It's a reminder that there is some kind of an audience, I just need to hone my skills and be consistent about posting.

My work schedule has proved a detriment to the writing as well. I work until very late most nights and when I get home I feel like eating and passing out. I then have to get up early in the morning to get my daughter to school. Yet, I really have no excuse for not writing. After all, who needs sleep?

The answer? Bipolar people. I really am an idiot. I love the idea of being awake all the time and accomplishing things. But I cannot risk going off the deep end because of lack of sleep. In that spirit, I'm nuking a large cup of coffee before I take a nap. Because I am nothing if not contradictory. And ultimately indecisive.

Then I'm either going to buy an ad for the Facebook page and attempt to network, or fall into the sweet caress of sleep. Because I have problems differentiating what I need from what I want.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Minding the Gap

Another article for The Mighty. This one detailing the struggle of affording health insurance in Idaho.

This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for many things. My family. My living situation. My job, so that I may have just enough to cover my health insurance premiums.

Have a lovely holiday everyone!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Lord, Hear Our Prayer

We don't talk politics.

I try to put on a brave face and not let everyone know how terrified I am at this moment. I fail miserably. Because a man who has threatened to dismantle the Affordable Care Act is our current president-elect. I know there is an alternate health care plan in the works by this man: I am well aware of it. But coordinating without a gap in medication seems impossible considering how hard it was to get medication for just the next month.

We don't talk politics. 

Even though one of us copes with several forms of mental illness. She doesn't know me when I'm off my meds: simply put, I am not the same person. I am hollow. I am consumed with irrational guilt. In certain instances, I've been delusional. I've needed hospitalization and suicide watch. I am terrified that I will need it again at some point in the near future.

We don't talk politics.

She believes that if I just give him a chance I would see: our children would be safer. I fail to see how the my daughter will be safer or more secure with a mother too mired in her own worries to function. Each break you have is harder to come back from. Sometimes you don't come back at all depending on the severity of the absence of reality.

We don't talk politics.

She believes firmly in her second amendment rights. She's not being unreasonable. I believe firmly in the protections granted by the first amendment. I'm not unreasonable either. But it shakes me that as a mentally ill person that it will be cheaper for me to buy and maintain a gun and all the associated accessories than it will be for a month's worth of medication without insurance.

We don't talk politics.

There are many different ways to support your brothers and sisters at this time. Encouraging them in their activism is one of them. On the one hand, she sincerely says my voice matters. On the other, she voted for policies that aim to silence it. I love her dearly but I need more than pity or pretty words right now: as scary as this is, I need some kind of immediate action. We both want America to remain peaceful, but change is often tumultuous. And as the hate caused by this election is unprecedented, the equal and opposite reaction to it must also be.

We don't talk politics. 

We argue over what America wants. This country elected a new President through traditional means, though one candidate seems to have a slight edge regarding the popular vote. So essentially half of Americans who voted said they wanted one candidate and half wanted the other. We are told that we should unite, but divides like this will take time to heal. In fact, they might not even take at all. We are left with protests and uncertainly. Both of us have starkly different views of what it takes to be a patriot after such controversy.

We don't talk politics.

We both want America to have a better future, we just seem to have different definitions of what that future looks like. We see one another as somehow leading the country backwards. I'm not discounting either view at this point. But I admit that as a chronically ill person I am more than slightly biased and frightened by the changes so many seem to want.

We don't talk politics.

We don't talk about them because we want to remain friends. I love her, and she loves me. We want desperately to be united, though we are clearly divided. By distance. And oh, what an interminable distance it seems at this moment. 

We don't talk politics. 

But clearly, we do. Because it is important to discuss our differences. To embrace them takes time and effort, but I have to believe that nothing is impossible. This agnostic does occasionally pray for special people and special occasions. And I'm praying with all the strength I have left right now. As one of my favorite people often says, you have a blessed day. And may God or whatever deity you pray to come to your aid at this difficult time for our nation.









Saturday, November 5, 2016

The Good, the Bad, and the Scrubbie

So did I tell you about that time I scrubbed toilets with my bare hands for a week?

At first cleaning houses didn’t seem that bad. I commented as I was hand mopping my first bathroom that I felt like Cinderella. I thought it would be good for me: an employment opportunity where I could use my awesome cleaning skills. Sanitation and sanity have the same opening letters, so I thought, heck to the yes! This job was right up my alley.

Oh, how wrong I often am, and was. No one used gloves; we cleaned an entire house out of a bucket full of a little Lysol and water. An entire house. Out of one bucket. So we were, in my highly deranged opinion, not really sanitizing anything. And we were getting filthy in the process.

I must have somehow forgotten that I am terrified of toilets and public restrooms: I watched in disbelief as my trainer stuck her bare hands in the toilet to clean the bowl with a green scrubbie. Then I was told to do the same. My incredulity increased as she then used the same scrubbie to clean out the bathroom sink. Oh, the horrors I have seen. I silently mouthed a prayer: Clorox Toilet Wand, appear.  Be my savior and my guide.

I endured snarky little side glances and hushed comments reflecting the obvious: I was the new girl, with no experience. Other comments berating my intelligence ensued, including one pointed suggestion about not mopping yourself into a corner because “some people just have no common sense.” Apparently it’s also “useful to be 10 percent smarter than the object you’re working with.” The lovely woman making that remark tried to make the insult sound self-deprecating. I replied wryly that in that case, I was doomed.

With many more snarky remarks caught in whispers or under breath, I could see why my employers were so insistent that there be no workplace violence in their brief orientation. I am not a violent person but by the end of my first day throat-punching was definitely on my mind.

Continual comments from one chick were particularly but unintentionally hurtful: she kept telling me how “OCD” she was. I straighten the rugs, she explained, because I’m OCD. I center the knickknacks because I’m OCD. I could have explained the difference between Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder and forms of OCD I suffer from, but I have a feeling that the significance would have been lost on her. Part of me wanted to open my eyes wide and enumerate all of the medication I take daily to keep the beasts at bay. But, no. Not worth it. Also, I wasn’t up for facing further ridicule.

The lady and gentleman I had the pleasure of working with the next three days were exceptionally pleasant. But one suggested that I stand on the lip of the bathtub in order to rinse the top of the shower tiles: the other told me horror stories about residents at one local apartment complex that use the floor as a toilet.

I couldn’t hack it.

But at least I couldn’t say I didn’t give it my all. The fruits of my labor were obvious: my entire right leg was bruised up and down. My elbow was also inexplicably bruised. My knees cried in protest every time I leaned over, presumably from cleaning baseboards for hours. My back hurt so badly the third day that I had difficulty leaning over.

What I learned: stainless steel can be polished up with baby oil. Always make sure you have the right apartment unit before dragging a vacuum and a cleaning kit up three flights of stairs. Though you be a cleaner, that does not mean that the inside of your personal vehicle does not resemble a scene from the movie Saw. Cleaners sometimes experience incontinence because in order to maintain an air of professionalism, we cannot use the client's bathroom. One human body contains about a million pubes. Coffee filters are a great way to get a streak-free shine on windows and mirrors.

I also gained great respect for these men and women who clean houses on a regular basis, full of haughtiness or not. My OCD was in overdrive the whole time, especially since it was not possible to wash your hands in most settings. The amount of elbow grease expended by my co-workers was truly astounding.  These folks work their asses off, and it is definitely difficult, honest work.

But when you get home and that grey hair you see on your head is actually someone else's...you start to reconsider your professional choices.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Help! Part Deux

How well I remember the trials of trying to procure psychiatric medication through Tricare. Like it was yesterday, when it was in fact just over a year ago. 

This was my morning yesterday:

Called my health insurance broker, I have had two meetings with him and he wants to schedule a third. But he is swamped with open enrollment applicants. I took the liberty of checking for my medications under a certain plan but was having difficulty locating providers.

Could not determine if my regular doctor was covered under a new plan as the Select Health website was confusing. Called Your Health Idaho to see if my doctor was covered under a potential plan. A representative also searched website and found her but it did not look like she was covered. He then referred me to my doctor's office, and asserted that the billing department there could confirm coverage.

Called the doctor's office to see what kind of coverage they accept but they don't know until the claim has been processed. Too many plans to keep track of, they explained.

Called Select Health to see if my doctor was or was not on the list because she did appear in a more specific search. She is not in the appropriate network.

Called my old doc to see if refills could be arranged without a doctor's visit. They could not.

Called the first doc on the list Select Health supplied and they are booking people into February. I need my medications for the month of December, otherwise what is the point of having a special enrollment period?

Cried.

Called second facility on the list. They have to refer me to in-house behavioral health so I have to see a primary doctor first. I have an appointment December 1st. In the meantime I am going to have to reduce my anti anxiety medication by 2/3 and eventually go off of it. I've already been forced to reduce my OCD med by 25mg and my mood stabilizer by 2.5 mg. Which means intrusive thoughts and very little sleep.

*****

I finally bought my insurance plan today. Pray that I am actually covered, people, as no one seems to know what exactly they're doing. My coverage doesn't start for another month. And of course, open enrollment for next year's insurance fiasco ends next month. I'm going to be looking at paying at least $400 a month for medical and dental next year unless a miracle happens.

And did I manage to find out if any shrinks are covered? Nope. If I wasn't cuckoo before I'm certainly going to be now.







Saturday, October 29, 2016

Ghosts of the Machine

I wrote that whole jab at Tinder and I forgot to mention the most haunting part about the side effects of playing with fire.

Get out the marshmallows and the flashlights, campers. Here is my chilling ghost story.

We had a lot in common, he and I. My Tinder match. We liked the art of words. And he had so many dazzling turns of phrase. We were set to meet: romantic dinner, the works. But my fine fellow came down with a nasty bout of pneumonia. The last text I received indicated that he was drunk off of fruit juice and trying his best not to suffocate under the weight of his chest.

No word after that for a week. My mind whirled: was he okay? He had to be okay. He was surely not wasting away in a hospital, hoping for some yet unknown love to nurse him back to health. I texted several times but received no response. I toyed with the idea of actually calling hospitals, but what information would they give a total stranger anyhow? The whole thing was bewildering to me, and I was understandably upset at how such a beautiful introduction could turn so downright mysterious in the next chapter.

But the tragedy was yet to come: I had, in fact, been ghosted. The same jackass announced his new relationship with some other lass a few days later (thanks, fine art of Facebook stalking). I was devastated by this loss of a potential partner, though clearly, he was not worthy of my words or my affections.

For those of you who don't know what ghosting is, here is a definition: one of you is a tactless [insert expletive]. Instead of offering an explanation as to why you don't want to pursue a relationship, you do the cowardly thing and simply cut off all communication with no warning. 

This is a socially acceptable thing to do, apparently. I've not been dating for all that long and it's happened to me several times. Do these men have reason to see fault with me? Absolutely, I'm looney tunes. But at least of the courtesy to say a) I find you repulsive, b) I've met someone else, or c) I just don't feel it's going to work out. Some sense of closure would be awesome. So would some sense that the person you've been communicating with isn't unquestionably rude and immature.

This practice is especially disconcerting when it happens after an actual date, or several dates. Everything is going swimmingly and then bam! Out of nowhere, you are ghosted. You have been deemed unworthy and you'll never know why. I can see why they call it ghosting, because it tends to haunt your self-esteem for days or weeks afterwards.

Heed my cry: do not fall for a pretty face, but more importantly, do not be smitten by pretty words. These men seem ethereal, yet they are insubstantial at best. They belong in your memory, surely, but only to warn you not to repeat your mistakes. And I strongly suspect that they have no souls.

Pneumonia, it seems, is an epidemic sweeping the nation. Hold your loved ones close, and your strangers met on the Internet, even closer. They call it Tinder because you never know when you're going to get burned.

Boo, indeed.


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Playing with Fire

So I've been threatening to write "Tinder: the Musical." For those of you who have never been on Tinder, a popular dating app, here are some of the picture categories I have had the pleasure of enjoying:

Have fish, will travel
I need to put a shirt on
I have a gun! I'm outdoorsy! I'm on a horse!
I have a puppy/kitten/child/other adorable bait. Kudos to the guy with the fluffy owl.
I'm hugging my mom/grandma
I have no face, just a chest and abs
Really? That moustache? 
Guess which one out of these guys I am
I look surprised that I'm taking the my own picture

Then there are the songs, always the songs, that come to mind:

Eyes Without a Face
I Wear My Sunglasses at Night (and in every selfie)
Climb Every Mountain
I'm Too Sexy (for my shirt, or in some cases, any type of clothing)

Tinder profiles give major clues to personality and preferences:

Alumnus of the School of Hard Knocks
We're looking for a third
I work out! In case the pics of my bulging arms and torso did not provide any indication...
If you have kids then move on
I'm 6 feet tall, though I don't know why that's relevant
I'm an elitist freak
I like to have fun (heh heh...I know what that means. It means welcome to freedom, here is your complimentary crotch of fire)

Then you actually get to have conversations with some of these people. Joy of joys. There are things called charm and tact, and apparently they are elusive. One memorable guy opened a conversation like this: "Gag reflex?" 

I told him I was much more interested in whether he had a gag reflex. What an asshat.

Though there have been exceptions, in general this is not a good way to meet people. It is, however, an interesting look at a cross section of humanity/masculinity.






Sunday, October 23, 2016

Efforts in Exhaustion

Good morning. Am I going to hate myself later for being up right now? Most likely.

Writing an article for The Mighty regarding the lovely healthcare gap I fall into. Thanks, Idaho. Meeting next week with a gentlemen regarding what will most likely be very expensive insurance. Unfortunately I need my meds to function, so I need the insurance, otherwise I would just take a potential tax penalty. One of my meds would cost $2000 to fill for a month without insurance. Ah, the lovely realities of divorce.

Tried the online dating scene for less than two weeks. I don't like it. In short, boys are dumb. I'm going to join a social club instead. I will be writing "Tinder: The Musical" at some point. But for right now I'm going to focus on my personal development and my kiddo.

Obtained another job. Part time, I'm going to supplement it with writing. Time to buckle down and actually write daily instead of just when I happen to be up in the middle of the night. How did I ever expect to finish my book without having to work? The answer is this: magic. The real answer? Lots of coffee and crying. And effort, must not forget that.

Work work work. Life is work. Time to break the cycle of Facebook addiction and get on it. 

But for now, some more sleep. Because apparently my brain isn't functioning.




Saturday, October 1, 2016

Counting on It

Here is my first of what I hope will be many articles for The Mighty. It is an awesome, informative website, and I am excited to be a contributor.

The official divorce decree came down a few days ago. I thought I would rejoice or feel devastated, or both simultaneously. What I really felt? Meh. There was a bit of a shock effect going on, which could explain the numbness I felt I suppose. Even though it was something I mentally prepared for, I guess I wasn't ready after months of conflict and compromise to fully absorb the weight of it. It doesn't feel real yet. 

I have a new job, I will spare you the specifics but it is essentially a housekeeping position. Yes, it's kind of funny that OCD-girl will be scrubbing things for a living. I am nothing if not thorough and efficient, especially when my performance will be evaluated.

In other news, I finished reading a book. That only leaves four that I'm in the middle of. Tried to get a job selling books but, well, I am honest during interviews instead of obsequious. So they didn't much care for me. I would rather work for a small, honest company than a big box store any day anyhow. This is the part where I do jazz hands with my thumbs in my ears and my tongue sticking out: plllllttttt. 

I also submitted an application to be a temp for another position but these lovely medications I'm on caused a false positive on my drug test. Wonderful. I wouldn't be high on amphetamines even if I could afford them for recreation. As y'all are probably aware, my anxiety is bad enough without adding anything else to the mix.

Speaking of drugs and their associated costs, I am now watching my prescriptions run out with no
present insurance. Tricare's version of COBRA is unbelievably expensive and they want me to pay a full quarter up front. So I will be going through Idaho's health exchange to procure my health plans and my next batch of meds. So grateful that I am eligible for any kind of insurance since going off my meds would undoubtedly leave me completely disabled. So a sincere thank you to all of those who supported Obamacare in spite of the many attempts to repeal it. Folks like me are counting on it.

Also counting down the days to my favorite holiday, Halloween. October is the best month and I am so glad I will be here for Mom's annual Halloween party. The relatives and friends come out of the woodwork for a taste of her homemade chili. My daughter is going as Captain Phasma from Star Wars: so glad she found a female role model.

Strong females are in abundance here in Boise, and I am so grateful to my sisters, my grandmother, my mother and my close friends for supporting me throughout this last year. It's been an arduous journey but one I would undertake again. Life is nothing if not ever-changing, and I have learned not only to embrace change, but to respect and rejoice in it. And the gals I rely on have helped a great deal regarding this revelation.

I've been examining a Bach piece lately for one of those lovely ladies lately. Here, for your listening enjoyment and Happy Halloween anticipation, is some creepy Bach.

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Thursday, August 4, 2016

Rimshot

My daughter had two teeth extracted yesterday afternoon, in preparation for getting braces. She was so brave, and though I was worried that she might be in pain after the numbness wore off, she has been doing great.

Finalizing the divorce agreement was also on the slate for yesterday. However, the mediator had to cancel due to a family emergency. This was not the first time a mediator had to cancel, as the first one was hospitalized after a fall.

So I have concluded that my divorce...is worse than pulling teeth.






Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Way We Were

He reminds me of a million songs.

The lyrics intertwine with my often derailing train of thought. They chart the evolution of our relationship.

We will begin with “Lover Come Back to Me,” a rendition by Mel Torme. Jerry would sing this snappy tune when we were first dating, before the everyday humdrum of a long term relationship began.  I remember the first time he sang it, idling at the intersection of Collister and State Street, on our way to my company party. I remember every little thing he used to do, I’m so lonely.




Amazed, Lonestar. We bonded because we didn’t like to dance. And yet, to this song, we danced. I was so in love with him, and it just kept getting better.




Don’t Stop Believing. Journey has been a favorite since high school. When we first moved in together, Jerry and I would sing at a local bar in San Antonio called Bogart’s. We dubbed this activity “Smokey Karaoke” because you would wash the smoke smell out of your clothes and hair for days afterwards. Many of the military training instructors at Lackland Air Force Base would unleash their fury on the mic over the weekends. This is a karaoke staple.




A song I told him would be our song if we had a song, Endless II by Floater. Because we burned like a rocket from the womb to the world. And we often needed to take a breath, and take a seat, and take our medicine. Whether self-medicated or prescribed.




At Last, Etta James. Played at our wedding in the Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Nevada, April 26, 2003. My lonely days were over, and life was like a song…




Here Without You, 3 Doors Down. Because it reminds me of the few times Jerry was deployed, or the year in Korea, and of course the more frequent, temporary assignments. I’m here without you baby, but you’re still on my lonely mind. I dream about you baby, and I think about you all the time…




Yet it was always my job to keep the home fires burning. Enter Hugo Wolf, a composer I studied in college. His Das Verlassene Magdlein, in particular, haunted me. Here is the translation:


Early when the cock crows
Ere the stars retire,
I must stand at the hearth,
Must tend the fire.

What beauty in the fire's light,
When the sparks are leaping,
I stand gazing long at them,
Lost now in my grieving.

Suddenly I remember,
Unfaithful fellow,
'Twas you I was dreaming of
Until the night had ended.

Tears well up and fall
One upon the other;
The day has just begun—
Oh, would that it were over




Then, when things started to get ugly, I wrote this country song about it. Anyone know how to set a country song?


Crash. The Dave Matthews Band. After I found a reddit post, authored by him, about how I was a literal ball and chain. Yet I still longed to have him near. Touch your lips just so I know, in your eyes, love, it glows so…




Why Don’t You Get a Job, The Offspring. While he was deployed I took care of the house and our daughter. I was told to find employment, because he “would rather work at McDonald’s than be jobless.” But hey, you know how she wants more dinero just to stay at home…




Black Out Days, Phantogram. Total dig at my former alcohol use, and the way we shifted into something unrecognizable.




Cope by Manchester Orchestra, because I broke the cycle of alcohol abuse. There was one thing I let go, and it was the way that we coped.




Change. The epitome of our relationship these last few years. If I were more talented I could have written it.




Schism, because he inspired in me a love of Tool. And it’s more appropriate a tune now than ever. As we continually atrophy any sense of compassion between supposed lovers.





And as we part, there is hope. Hope that I can love again. Hope that I can find someone who is the promised kiss of springtime, that makes the lonely winter seem long.


Saturday, July 16, 2016

Splitting

Let me regale you with the tale of my aching brain.

I was on my way to divorce mediation. I parked on 12th Street in downtown Boise. As I nervously exited my car and proceeded to the parking meter, I tripped on a curb and went crashing to the sidewalk, my right shoulder and temple hitting the pavement.

No one was around to see me biff it in my ladylike grace.

Not suspecting I'd seriously injured myself (though my head and shoulder were bleeding), I brushed myself off, and proceeded to the mediator's office. I held a tissue to my leaking head and got some very funny looks from fellow pedestrians on my merry way.

I found the mediator's office quite easily. It is, rather unfortunately, located just beyond a bridal shop. You have to walk through said shop to get to the executive suites. Oh, fate. How she laughs.

Upon arriving at the mediator's door, I spied with my little eye something yellow. A large note explaining that the mediator was in the hospital. I scribbled down the contact number with a pencil, hoping to get more information. Then I called my husband, and called my mother, and cried quite a lot.

Telling my mother I felt I didn't need to see a doctor, I walked my injured self back to my car. I was shaky and weepy but still somewhat intact as far as my mental state was concerned. I turned on the radio and fate smiled again, as a singer described how he was going to "get [himself] off the side of the road."

I arrived home to a very concerned mother, grandmother, and daughter. Violet helped my mother get me ice packs and pain reliever. After a while, I called the contact number to see why the mediator was in the hospital.

She had fallen.

Fate, you are fickle and you've had your fun.

Feeling rather wonky and with blurred vision, I went to urgent care the next day. This was half due to my symptoms and half due to my vivid nightmares. In these horrific visions, I was going blind because of my head injury. I kept attempting to climb stairs only to have a bloody blackness enfold me. I awoke from these nightmares into a fresh dream, only to somehow end up climbing in the dark at each terrifying conclusion. I woke within the nightmare four times.

Anyhow, on to urgent care. The doc looked at my eyes and made me follow fingers, ultimately deciding that I definitely had a mild concussion.

But this was not the end of the story. Because my dumb ass had gone back to work like nothing happened. Staring at screens when you have a brain injury is a definite no-no. So by the end of the  second work day my blurred vision was far worse. This called for brain imaging in the ER. No brain bleed, which I consider to be a plus. I scheduled a follow-up with the local concussion clinic.

Before my follow-up I worked 24 hours in customer service in three days, all the while staring at a touch screen. I could not follow simple instructions by the end of the third day. My head ached so badly that I have difficulty describing it.

At the concussion clinic I was told that my brain needed time to heal. No screens at all until the headaches and vision went away. No work until Monday and then only with restrictions.

Long story short, I have stared at this screen for far too long. Somebody get me more pain reliever.

Monday, July 4, 2016

On Independence

Was it easier being a kept woman? Financially, yes. Spiritually? Absolutely not.

Mediation and legal proceedings mark the next few weeks. It's a stressful time. But I am hopeful that everything will eventually even out.

My amazing daughter will soon awaken to the beauty of this day. She may not understand its implications fully until so much later. I remain optimistic about her growing understanding of the world and the ties that tether us to family. I'm cynical but hoping to instill some idealism in her, somehow. Despite the way things have gone.

And now, we hand the post over to miss Maya Angelou, with whom I share a birthday. This is one of my favorite works. I was often reminded of it during my marriage, as a person whose existence was dictated by so many parameters. Freedom is a beautiful thing, but it is not without cost, and inherent unpredictability.

It is safe to say I am ready to claim the sky.


Caged Bird

Related Poem Content Details

A free bird leaps 
on the back of the wind   
and floats downstream   
till the current ends 
and dips his wing 
in the orange sun rays 
and dares to claim the sky. 

But a bird that stalks 
down his narrow cage 
can seldom see through 
his bars of rage 
his wings are clipped and   
his feet are tied 
so he opens his throat to sing. 

The caged bird sings   
with a fearful trill   
of things unknown   
but longed for still   
and his tune is heard   
on the distant hill   
for the caged bird   
sings of freedom. 

The free bird thinks of another breeze 
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees 
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn 
and he names the sky his own 

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams   
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream   
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied   
so he opens his throat to sing. 

The caged bird sings   
with a fearful trill   
of things unknown   
but longed for still   
and his tune is heard   
on the distant hill   
for the caged bird   
sings of freedom.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Escape?

Awake. Naturally. Because I don’t work until 4pm.

Want to find a full time job. But it’s rough out there when you’ve been out of the workforce for ten years, despite having a degree…in the arts. I often joke that I majored in voice but then added a theatre major to have “something to fall back on.” I almost pulled off a 4.0, but the truth is that it was so long ago and far away that no one cares much.

It’s also difficult to find something livable when you have been diagnosed with three anxiety disorders, including social anxiety disorder (appropriately acronym: SAD). This particular disorder makes life in general a living hell at times. My shrink wonders why I would choose a job that focuses mainly on customer service. I thought it was akin to taking allergy shots: mass exposure to the allergen would desensitize me. Make me more like a regular human being. Person after person, I would grow to understand that we are all human, and that in turn I could somehow relax when encountering fellow human beings.

I wish that were the case. I was, in the opinion of one customer, “shaking like a leaf” the other day. He accused me of perhaps being on drugs because I mentioned I hadn’t slept the night before. He then informed me that he would have to “come down here and kick [my] ass,” if I was indeed taking drugs.

I’m just going to start telling everyone that I am on drugs, because it’s true. I take these lovely prescriptions to survive everyday life. I have a tremor because of them. When a customer calls me a “ding-dong” for being “nervous,” I’m just going to say I’m on three psychiatric medications. Bet THAT will make them feel at ease.

Because, though I blog about it and about a zillion other people are openly discussing it, mental illness is not entirely mainstream. People tend to pigeonhole you, because people in general are ignorant. I have only told one person at work that I struggle with anxiety. I am afraid to be explicit, lest others should think I am simply “crazy.”

I sometimes work in the garden center. The heat as of late has been 100-106 degrees. Because of this and all the unanswerable questions asked by customers, I think of my stints in the garden as an exercise in purgatory.

On a certain screen at the register, I often try to press the escape button. The touch screen reassures me that “Escape is not an option at this point.”

No exit.


Hell is…other people.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

A Positive Note

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't struggling.

Struggling to make ends meet. Struggling to understand my thoughts and my actions when I'm not tethered to another person romantically. Struggling with anxiety, despite the many medications I consider myself fortunate to take.

Despite this, I recognize that I have become a better person due to adversity. I am a far more empathetic and less critical human being than I used to be. Something that would have resulted in scorn in my twenties elicits praise now. I realize more how far we have come in our respective journeys, and for that I am grateful.

So in that spirit, someone disdainful enough to call herself a "former idealist" offers a small sample of the many things I am grateful for.

I am thankful for my daughter, for without her reason is lost, and hope absurdly diminished. She is the truest form of love, and I am forever grateful that I managed to help create someone so wonderful.

I am thankful for family. I was born into a lovely group of folks and we've been known to adopt many others along the way. Some we have lost touch with. Others have passed on. All are important in the formation of stronger character, even those I no longer reside with. How fondly I will always remember my father, his video recorder a bright light in the darkness of an audience at many performances...

I am grateful for so many people who recognized greatness in me at one point or another. My fifth grade teacher, who told me I could be the next Stephen King. Mrs. Rosen, Mrs. Schmidt and Dr. Tynon, without whom my efforts at singing would have remained awkward and obscure. They gave me the strength to let the shy girl shine. I would be amiss not to mention the theatre folks: too many to list, all inspiring. Thanks for telling me to audition for more plays in college, Joe Golden. I learned so much from my fellow actors.

And then there are things that I am appreciative of: good books, crescendos, lack of tornado activity in Idaho. The thesaurus that I so desperately need right now that is stashed in an auxiliary garage in Utah. A rock from my Aunt Holly and a plastic Roo ring form Tess. The skill required to pour a beer with a decent head. The ability to hold a conversation with anyone because you were raised to respect everyone.

But of all these friends and lovers, there is no one compares with you, friends and lovers. The strength you've shown and the many experiences you've shared have had such a profound effect on my development. I continue to grow as a consequence or a blessing of having known all of you.

I choose to see even the negative experiences as a blessing.

At least for today, you know. Tomorrow I may return to being a cynical bitch. Insert maniacal laugh, cue music, fade to black.





Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Repressionism

Up. Had the audacity to have a Pepsi at 6. Duh...

This came out of a cashier's mouth my last night on the job. She's kind of cute on the outside and she knows it: "You wouldn't expect it of someone who looks like me, but I was taking 12th grade literature classes in 8th grade."

The initial phrase was repeated, with self (selfish) affirmation, that not only in fact did she have beauty, but she had brainnnnnnzzzzzz.

You wouldn't expect it. Of the supermodel who works at anonymous department store. Hey, if you were really that smart, wouldn't you keep your conceit to yourself? Or get a job that pays a higher wage? Because that's what I've done, and everyone knows I am the biggest village idiot at said anonymous department store. I do feel bad about leaving, but realistically, I will be replaced by another body, hopefully this time someone more competent. I felt like a number every time I would punch in, Les Miserables ringing in my head: do not forget me, 24601. Look down, look down. You're here until you die...

I may be working until I die at this rate. And as much as I am socially phobic I did enjoy working my booty off. Literally, my pants have started sagging because I lost weight on the job. I also gained a greater sense of who I am, and what I want to be doing with my life.

In short, I need to be performing in some fashion or I will never be happy. That's part of why I moved back, there are opportunities here that I could not find elsewhere. And I enjoy taking in artistic events perhaps more than even participating in them. My friends are also here, and they encourage me. Whether it's an (unrealized) attempt at auditioning for Opera Idaho or being an extra in a short film, the possibilities are right in front of me. I just need to have the courage to reach out.

Courage is hard to come by when you've been diagnosed with three different types of anxiety. Everyday life can be dautnting, and as with all people, I have good days and bad days. But I'm determined to make the good outnumber the bad in any way that I can. Call my foray into retail immersion therapy, if you will. Something that I simultaneously dreaded and needed. Because what is life, besides a learning experience?

You wouldn't expect it of someone who acts like me, but I majored in the arts in college. Even somehow wrangled a decent GPA while participating in various plays and musical productions. That's right ma. I've got braaaaiinnnzzzz. I still sing opera in the car. I geek out over composers. I love theatre and film, and even made the recent discovery that I adore ballet. I have friends who are musicians, writers, filmmakers, thespians, and comedians. I sing, and I act. More consistently, I write.

I am an artist. It's the repressed ones you have to look out for.




Saturday, March 19, 2016

Release

It's cathartic when you finally identify the source of your pain.

Years of needless, directionless suffering, trying to fit into a mold that wasn't meant for you. In so much agony and yet oblivious to the cause of it.

Once you finally pinpoint what's been holding you simultaneously down and back, things become clear. And then tears of regret can finally fall freely.

In my younger years I was often prone to jealousy. But I have finally concluded that jealousy is a useless emotion. And someone who would attempt to cause you grief in this way was never worth your time and attention in the first place.

Childish tactics highlighting the inhumanity. And for what? An attempt to inflict more pain. As if the pain of being forced into the chaos of military "normalcy" all those years wasn't enough.

And the old criticisms, always coming from afar. Being told that you are not equal, that you are not a grownup, somehow, some way, you would never be enough. Forcing yourself to be a good girl, even attempting to be normal though you're not wired that way. Still not enough.

Still awful. Ugly.

And you know that though it was and continues to be devestating, you made the right decision. You know that you're in a far better place even though loneliness stalks you. You know that despite the reassurances, you were never meant to be the one.

You know you walked away for a reason. The reason was under your nose the entire time.

And you try to find a way to let it go.








Sunday, February 21, 2016

Uniquely Unqualified

Hello. Long time, no write. In recent news, I lost my job this week. I won’t go into detail and I’m trying not to be bitter. But suffice to say that it sucks, hardcore. I already had a lot going on mental health wise so this latest development has raised my stress level considerably. I would love to write and get paid for something other than a content mill, but right now I’m focusing on getting a steady paycheck.

Frustrating as it is, there is nothing I am uniquely qualified for as far as job positions go. I have a background in administrative work and customer service, so I am applying for everything from nursing home dietary aide to Ross store associate. I would like to apply for management positions but there’s this little thing called experience holding me back. My ideal job would be tasks that I could manage myself, such as when I worked as the sole imaging clerk at Norco. But I am nothing if not a former idealist and I know that realistically, the perfect position just isn’t going to fall into my lap.

Then there is the question of writing for a living. Could I get skilled at writing for content mills? I know the pay is crap but at least it would be close to doing something I was passionate about.

Jack of all trades, master of none. So much fun! Oh, and I accidentally signed up for job updates from a faux website so I get updates from “JobVado” and “Bunch of Jobs” every five seconds. It’s annoying as hell. Glassdoor used to be a great site for job resources but now it is flooded with spammers and illegitimate postings as far as I can tell.

On the interview front, at least I am getting interviews, which is more than I can say for my time in Utah. Rejected at Macy’s for cosmetics sales counter girl (not commission based but they assured me that I would feel as though I was on commission. Not a job for the socially phobic introvert anyhow). Then I rejected the offer to work as what is essentially a door-to-door salesman, where the first year’s earnings would be solely based on commission. Nope, I just need a steady paycheck.

Also, the school positions I can apply for are scarce as far as I can tell. I’m in the process of applying for school lunch lady. Can’t you just see it? I can, and it would be during Violet’s school hours which would be awesome. Not sure what qualifies me other than having served a few dinners in my day and the fact that, at one point, I thought I wanted to be a teacher.


So will she get a job? She doesn’t qualify for unemployment so she’d better get something, and fast. Stay tuned folks. And here’s my obligatory YouTube entry to brighten your day:

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Relative Term

We were all doing well until the matriarch fell.

But well is a relative term.

My grandmother fell on New Year’s Eve and broke her shoulder. It’s been a rough six weeks for her, to make the understatement of the year. Watching her, in pain, has one of the most stressful things I’ve had to do. I can’t imagine the kind of pain she’s has endured, especially at the beginning of this journey. I am so grateful, however, that the break was not worse. Because her hip surgery four years ago was so traumatic, no one is sure whether she could survive a surgery or the healing process thereafter.

Because I respect her privacy, I will not go into further detail.

As I sit here with insomnia, I reflect on whether I am well, or whether I will always remain slightly broken. The truth? I’m perpetually in a state of “getting there.” Because the prognosis for my illnesses is a lifetime, I must accept the fact that I will never be completely symptom free. But there are moments. Those moments when I immerse myself in music, or writing, or some other form of amusement, and I am free from the burdens of my illness. Those moments are like winning the mental health jackpot.

I often wonder how much of my absent-mindedness and recklessness is due to my personality, my medications, or my illnesses. I must conclude that it’s a combination of the three. Because for me, as of late, life has been more than slightly wrought with uncertainty. Some of my stressors are of my own creation. Some are haphazard as existence itself. All are wreaking havoc on my state of being.

I tell myself that I am happier. But happiness, for me, has always been fleeting. I suppose I can attribute that to the nature of happiness or the nature of myself.

There is always the question of the span of time. The time from the break, through the initial pain, then through the healing process is as of yet undetermined.  And I ask, was I ever whole? What am I seeking? Must these wounds form an open, aching, necrotic sore? Time will tell.


But time is a relative term.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

One Life, and Work to Do

Insomnia used to be a regular pastime of mine. How many hours of my life have I wasted on Facebook, I wonder? I could probably come up with a rough estimate, and one word to describe it: pathetic.

I woke up at 2 this morning but at least I've been somewhat productive. I made a list of the twelve books I want to read in three months, something that was inspired by a vision board I made for work. My employer and I added some steps to facilitate more specific goals. If I really want to be a writer, I need to study the craft. And studying, as it often does, involves a lot of reading. 

Other goals include: filing paperwork, figuring out my whole health insurance snafu once the divorce is official, getting a new social security card, getting an ID for Violet so that I have proof of her status and health insurance, yada yada yada. Mostly a bunch of paperwork looming in the future. Soonest begun, soonest done, as I remember a snippet from a Stephen King novel. Wow, I've actually retained something from reading. I was beginning to wonder.

Also slated is SCHEDULED writing time. Ahem. No more of this four-in-the-morning, whenever-I-get-a-wild-hair-up-my-ass nonsense. If I ever expect to finish the mental illness autobiography I need to work a it. If I ever expect to have a loyal blog readership golly gee, I'm going to have to WORK. After all, life is work. So I need to get busy living.

And then there's this whole...getting out there...thing. I've been in a monogamous relationship for thirteen years. I am a sweet (ha ha ha), loyal girl, faithful to a fault. Sure, I think about putting myself out there, and I dream about putting myself out there, I verbalize that I want to get out there but...eh? Hasn't happened yet. I also have no idea how to survive in this weird hookup culture they seem to have going on these days. Maybe I'm antiquated. Should I get with the times? Because I tend to obsess about oh, say, feelings, maybe I shouldn't. But there I go, thinking again.

Speaking of thinking, I had waaaaaaaaayyyyyyy too much coffee yesterday, which explains why I'm still up and my brain seems to be going a mile a minute. I need to start limiting myself to two hopelessly sad cups a day. Addictions, addictions. They are not a joke. And as fun as cutting out Facebook and coffee cold turkey would undoubtedly be, it probably isn't going to happen. Baby steps. Weaning process. All that jazz.

Obligatory transition. Just kidding, I don't need one. One of my healthy goals is to do things I find terrifying. This includes, but is not limited to: freeway driving for long distances, phone conversations (aaaaaaaaiiiiiiieeee), making more left turns in traffic, meeting new people. I just tried something new, negating my perfectionistic tendencies: I am blogging from my iPad. And I'm going to stop without looking for typos or editing. Because life is short, and the time before my alarm goes off is considerably shorter. So to all of you in reader-land, I bid you good morning.

Make it a memorable day.