Category Archives: giving up

The Denial Dial.

It’s the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. This week sucks, traditionally. The days are short, the air is cold, I’m often feeling less than healthy, and the blues ensue. Always, always, always. Why would this year be any different?

In some ways it’s worse. We’ll be saying goodbye to the best president I’ve known in my lifetime and ushering in the era of Trump. God DAMN it. That is just wrong. Every time I think of it, my mind starts to desperately backpedal. I’m looking for the UNDO button, and when I can’t find it and don’t want to linger on my despair, I instead hold the DENIAL dial in place. It produces a soft shhhh noise. Sometimes I have to put it on high, but it is never off. Maybe that’s unhealthy.

SHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

Reality is unsettling. I’m on the verge of possibly (probably?) being laid off, which is equal parts terrifying and exciting. It’s long overdue and forces me into action. I can’t stay in this apartment in Somerville without a regular paycheck – that is for certain. So, once I hear about the job officially, I’ll move in with Max in Providence. I’m very lucky to have the opportunity to do that.

So. I’ll have a warm, safe place to live with someone I love. I’ll have an opportunity to throw myself into writing, to finish some big projects, to start some new ones. Maybe I’ll make it happen this year.

Or maybe I am about to fail at life, epically, and maybe I will never-

-SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

Advertisements

Winter Solstice: Celebrate Another Year of Not Going Postal (Yet)

It’s the day after the winter solstice, which — if you’re anything like me —traditionally represents the height of your winter madness and the rock-bottom of your deeply-dug “I-Hate-People” hole.

But I feel pretty ok. And it’s not because something particularly glittery or exciting has occurred in my life. Life keeps pooping along like it always does. And I’m not feeling joyous or running through the streets of Boston throwing tinsel and anything that can be tinseled. I’m still anti-tinsel. It’s not holiday mania, in other words. But I feel ok, and that is kind of remarkable.

For the last few years, I have faked my way through the holidays like a champ. I was still working on getting myself settled and divorced and yes, probably hoping that by the next Christmas my cup would run over with joy. And now I’m here. My cup runneth over with “just ok.” Or maybe my cup just runneth not with misery. My cup is legitimately fine, thank you.

Enough about my cup.

This perfect little illustration describes how I feel right now (Not mine, but borrowed from Hyperbole and a Half — a wonderful blog that I can’t recommend enough).

hyperboleandahalf

I’m feeling empowered by my state in life. Which is weird because I don’t have a lot of the stuff I’m “supposed” to have locked in. (relationship, mortgage, kids, clear sense of exactly what the rest of my life will look like, an unbroken door handle on my car, etc.) I feel like I either:

A. Accidentally stumbled upon the secret to happiness, which is to fail at life and figure out what you want.; or

B. Hit my head and am in a drug-induced coma, so none of this is actually real.

Either way, I’m just going with it. Next week, life will probably kick my ass just for being so damned cocky.

How are you all? Doing ok? 

This Train Has Jumped Its Track

dynamiteI’ve never been a great planner. No that’s not entirely true. I did plan one hell of a great wedding. After 2 years of planning, my wedding day went off beautifully, and without a hitch. Tah-DAH!! And then things fell apart. We both went to grad school, bought a house, money got tight, we disagreed about what to do with our future, he had an affair and problems with drugs and alcohol that I could not plan my way out of. I did try for a couple of years. But I finally had to conclude that I could not control everything, and I certainly could not control the actions of a person who seemed determined to self-destruct. I had to light a stick of dynamite under my plans and run.

I’m glad I ran. It was absolutely the right choice.

Even before everything in my marriage fell apart so spectacularly, I already felt as if I were marching forward mindlessly according to someone else’s plan. Whose plan? I don’t know. My ex-husband’s? Our family’s plan? Society’s plan? Married life for me was simultaneously surface-comfy yet terrifying, like a hug that from a reformed convict that continues for 2 beats longer than it should. I felt “on track,” and that was satisfying. I had checked off most of my shoulds, including college, job, marriage, mortgage, grad school. The whole world shouts “hooray” for the person who is on track. We love a track. Here comes the Predictable Safe Life Train! Choo-choo!

But, at the same time, the whole thing felt surreal. Like I was acting out a part in a children’s show. Absurdly wide smiles and choreography, and everything dumbed down. “Heyyy, Kids!! Let’s play with matches and LSD in this abandoned refrigerator!! Wheee!!”

When you fit into a comfortable, vanilla, predictable story — when you are “on track” — the world assumes all is well and smiles upon you. You make people comfortable by fitting in. You realize that making everyone comfortable is your job — and you do your job. You put on your uniform and smile for the camera. You bury your dreams if they aren’t Pinterest-ready. Your job is to shut up and be grateful for the nightmare wrapped in shiny paper.

Leaving my marriage put me off track. It was scary and interesting and weird. I could sense a discomfort from others that wasn’t there when my life was going according to plan. I went off-plan. Derailed. I blew up the happy narrative.

So, now I’m at a new crossroads. I work a day job that may no longer be a good match for me, though I don’t dislike the company or the people I work with. The job description has changed, and I have not. Or maybe I have. I’m feeling less comfortable in the corporate environment than I did a couple of years ago. Shifts in management have changed the landscape significantly, and I just do not fit in there now. I was always a little bit of an oddball in the office. Now I am just an anomaly. I do not belong.

It’s no one’s fault. I am this. They are that.

I’ve felt this before: this disconnected feeling — this need to be out of the confines of a school building or an office. It’s uncomfortable, and potentially self-destructive, because surely my days are numbered. It’s just a matter of how I want to handle it. Do I take a leap and leave of my own accord? And to where? Another corporate job sounds like a terrible trap, and I’d like to avoid it if I can. But I live in a world of commerce, alas. I need things like shelter and protein and coffee and wine.

This is your Life. This is it. How do you want to remember it? Do you want to regret not taking a chance? What does that chance look like? What do I want, exactly? How do I want to get there? What do I need to do it? Do I need a day job? Do I need this day job? What am I afraid of? (Failure. Poverty. The perception of others. Making the wrong choice and regretting it.)

Interesting. It mirrors the thought process that kept me in the marriage for so long, up to a point. I remember feeling desperately afraid of taking the wrong path and regretting it. I was afraid of what people would think of me. I was held back by the comfort of “the devil you know,” because the alternative seemed so unclear, so scary. And I stayed on the safe path, despite hating myself for it. Until finally I decided that I would rather take the leap than live a lie.

I’m afraid of my own mind. What if this is madness? What if this is the story that I tell myself while in caught in a temporary down cycle, and I later come out of it –filled with regret?

What if the fear and the lack of funds and the depression keep me from being productive with anything? What if I’m back to the state of mind I had in high school, in my marriage, in my last job? What if being on track is the key to everything, and I’m just a rambling, bumbling idiot with nothing to say — and I only realize that AFTER I throw myself off the track?

Let’s put that all aside for a moment. What do I want?

I want to write. I want to get off track in my own good, semi-controlled way. I want to be caught up in my work. I want to wake up each day excited to get back to work.

I want to collaborate with other creative people in a supportive environment. I want to be in a position in which I feel I have something to contribute. I want to help people achieve their goals and feel good when they succeed. I want to be at peace with my life as it is, and not feel the need to defend it.

Whatever track I’m on, I want to know that it is my track, and not some ancient trail that has been laid out for me. The new trail is difficult, it may lead me off a cliff, but at least it is my own.

offtrack

Ok, I will stop talking about tracks, now.

 

 

 

10 Reasons Not to Date Me

 Here are ten important facts about me that have led me to abstain from dating. You’re welcome for not foisting myself upon the single straight men of the world.

1. I don’t believe in anything, and I’m not a very good liar. So if I’m the person with you in your last moments on earth, I probably won’t make you feel hopeful or comfortable with your mortality. I might even make you feel worse.

2. I take pleasure in being cranky, and I have no intention of changing this. I revel in my misery.

3. I don’t eat meat or poultry or fish, so steak and seafood restaurants are out. Also, mushrooms make me feel like someone took a fireplace bellows and pumped my stomach with air. It’s unpleasant.

4. I’m allergic to cats and dust and probably my own boogies.mrwiggles

 

5. I live in Boston, stubbornly, despite despising cold weather and feeling no love for snow. I take sick pleasure in driving maniacally in the city. I love this city. Because I love pain, apparently. It feeds me.  I am a study in creative masochism.

6. I form weird alliances with inanimate objects which, when crossed, put you on my enemies list. You must understand and accept my long-standing relationships with: My ancient and wonderful Camry, my grandfather’s steamer trunk, my weird, fluffy grey zip-up cardigan sweater.

IMG_04287. Sometimes I read great literature and enjoy theater and the arts. But I am not above binging on the worst television ever produced by man. I fall into a trap, lured by dark fascination, then subdued by laziness, schadenfreude, and sense of superiority over the morons that parade across my screen.

IMG_0429

 

 

 

8. I might murder you. Sometimes, when I’m sitting in traffic, standing on the subway platform, or sitting in a meeting, I consider what would happen if I randomly murdered someone for no good reason. So far, I haven’t acted on the impulse. So far.

9. I may or may not have bored a snail to death. I live alone with some plants, and an aquarium filled with fish, shrimp, and frogs. I had a snail. He committed suicide after several attempts last year. I think maybe he saw something through the glass that bothered him, but who knows? I was left with a lot of questions. He went out with the trash, since I didn’t think flushing a snail shell would be a good idea. Maybe that was disrespectful.

10. Without coffee, I am nothing. An empty track suit. A social security number and a dental record. A dying house plant. Without my daily coffee ritual, I am unable to hold a conversation with you, or retain any of the syllables that have been thrown in my direction during that time.

 

Flashback: It’s 1984, and I’m a Bag of Trash

There are moments in our young lives that represent a crucial turning point in our social development. The first crush. The first day of school. The first bra. But less documented, and certainly less-celebrated is that pivotal first moment when you experience a shame that would have been avoidable with just a little bit of foresight and planning. For me, that moment occurred in fifth grade, when I took part in my elementary school’s annual Halloween parade and classroom party dressed as a bag of trash.

October, 1984. I was ten years old. This was not the era of complicated, homemade costumes pulled from Pinterest. Most of the children were dressed in one of two options:

Option 1: A cheap, store-bought plastic costume that included a too-tight smelly mask and a weird one-piece jumper that generally just had the identity of the costume spelled out on the front so clueless parents could immediately recognize the character on their doorstep.

yoda_kc

 

Option 2: A thrown-together costume using stuff from around the house. These typically included hobos, punks, and bedsheet ghosts.

hobo_kc

I went with Option 2. But I had let the season get away from me, and found myself wracking my brain for an idea on the day before Halloween. What would I do? I searched the house for ideas? Hobo? No – that’s been done to death. Old lady? Nah. Ghost? All of the sheets had flowers on them. Damn damn damn.

Suddenly it occurred to me. A bag of trash. Of course! I had everything I needed. A trash bag with leg holes cut into it. A couple of empty Spaghettio cans. Some duct tape. Pieces of newspaper. It was genius. Nobody else would have the same idea. Perfect!

The next day, after lunch, everyone went to the bathroom to change into their costumes. I remember stepping into the trash bag and feeling a weird mix of regret, dread and entrapment. There was no turning back now. I made my bag of trash, and now I had to walk in it. Actually, i had to march around the school in it. And then I had to sit in it for a while and think about what I had done.

trash_kc

I’m a bag of Trash. I don’t remember being shunned by my peers for the costume, exactly. I mean — there were a lot of puzzled looks and questions, but there were plenty of weird costumes and I didn’t stand out as grotesque or mockable, exactly. The kids and teachers showed as much respect as you could possibly expect for a bag of trash. Nay, more. There were no pointing fingers or turned up noses. There was just me having to repeatedly answer the question “What are you?” with “I’m a bag of trash.” It just….gets to you after a while. You start to identify with the costume. You learn that a bag of trash is very, very angry and wants to be left alone. By cupcake hour I was done with the questions.

I threw my costume out in the kitchen trash barrel after school. Of course, nobody noticed. Because why would you notice a Bag-of-Trash costume in the trash bag?

The next year I put together a stellar costume that took weeks of planning, sewing and constructing. I was a jaunty Jack of Hearts. So I survived the whole Bag of Trash affair and came back swinging for the fences. Lesson learned.

I guess the moral of the story is this: In any life situation, if you find yourself answering the question “Who are you?” with “I’m a bag of trash,” it’s time to evaluate your choices.

 

 

blah, depression, humor, plant, grey, funny

Anyone Else Having a Blah Day?

I am in a blah mood.

IMG_0318The sky is white. My blouse is grey. The temperature is neither cool nor warm and there does not appear to be a breeze of any sort blowing. I’m in no mood for this day, which is to say that I am in no mood. I lack affect or ambition. I had a protein bar and coffee for breakfast, which is my basic regular-unleaded fuel for the day – the minimum required to keep me alive.

 It’s the anniversary of September 11, which is always tinged with sadness. Maybe that’s contributing to the greyness. I don’t know.

I think I’ll just have to be at peace with the idea that today is not destined for greatness. It’s a blah day. And I feel ok.

A Seemingly Endless Loop of Stupid

melted-popsicleI wanted to write something brilliant and profound this weekend, but the heat and humidity in Boston was prohibitive. On Saturday, my apartment was 90 degrees Fahrenheit with a humidity of Oh-Who-Cares-Anyway? It was one of those days that meteorologist Dick Albert used to refer to as “a case of the muggies.” It’s a slow disaster. You envision tossing your less-than-useless warm-blooded body into the harbor, but that would take effort, so you just eat popsicles and watch the veins in your arms swell like firehoses.

I escaped for a couple of hours to a café to write. The place was packed tight with other heat refugees and their smells. I scored a small table, but was wedged between two couples. The couple on my left did not speak, but smiled into each other’s loving gazes as they entwined and then re-entwined their fingers endlessly. Endlessly. From the edge of my vision, I was witness to a good 45 minutes of finger entwinement. It was the manual equivalent of the “I love you more”/”No, I love you more” argument spun into an infinite, real-time, looping gif that can’t be closed, ever.

IMG_0315

 What do you do with that? There’s no law against being an insufferably adorable couple, apparently.

Well, you could turn and be distracted by the couple to the right. The guy was seated right next to me. I couldn’t catch a glance without being very obvious about it, so I can’t comment on him except to say that he had a tall-guy voice, and that he seemed to let the woman do the talking. And the woman – who was seated across from me, was talking non-stop, seemingly about the guy’s troubled relationship – with someone else.

Again – what can you do? As far as I know, I do not have the right to stand and condemn this blatantly obvious manipulation/seduction/ego-twaddling that was happening within arm’s length. I just know that when she twisted her hair around a finger and said “You know, you can definitely stay at my place for as long as you need to – to… clear your head,” that was my cue to knock back my latte and leg it out of there.

Back into the sweaty, hive-like busy streets of Back Bay. I bought new living room drapes. Then I went home, put the drapes up, took another shower, had a popsicle, watched the drapes drape. Because that’s all I had in me.