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.