Inanity

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It is so strange, the impulses we have.

Right now, I really don’t want to write today’s post here.  Not not write it at all, just not here.  I am not going share it with my Twitter, though if anyone there wanted to read it, I imagine they could figure out how to get back here.  It makes me feel really vulnerable to re-live it, but I also don’t want to let it drift into the background of my unconscious without being tagged with some words.  Maybe as I write it I will feel differently.

It was two things.  It was the guy and it was the panic.

My life is definitely spiraling in ways that are out of the bounds of any imaginable stretch of my comfort zone.  As I dealt as best I could with the work that needed to happen on the last day we are in the office for 2016, I also was conversing with the dude of yesterday’s post.  Real generally, real get to know you stuff spiked with this sort of testing the water sort of quasi-flirting business that was never uncomfortable, just, curious.  It had, like he had, a different sort of vibration than I was used to.  Someone who calls themselves weird and doesn’t have any pretense about covering it up or not being weird, but the weirdness all weirdness that I had reference for, that felt companionable to my own weirdness rather than self-protective.

So, having this pleasant conversation, I arrive as I did on Tuesday, at the bus stop and awaited my ride.  My sister called and said she was there.  On the opposite side of the whole freeway situation.  This meant the walkover bridge.  Fuuuuuuuuckaroonies.

The thought that I had done this on Tuesday had zero bearing.  The fact that I was hungry and tired and wanted to be cool and sangfroid and keep talking to this guy had no bearing.  The fact that a woman driving past saw me flipping my shit and asked me if I was okay had no bearing.  I thought what if the panic returned and it did.  It went for my throat. For 10 minutes, standing over the freeway. I was panic’s thrall.  It was…bad.

When I say it was bad, I mean…bad with zero hyperbole.   She was flipping out at me for not just going, I was flipping out because I physically could not go and I was getting screamed at for it.  It was 2 minutes of irrationality.  It was irrational, but in that moment, that premise doesn’t exist…the threat is as real, as unthinkyourselfouttable as if there was a gun to my head.  My body is telling me that I cannot physically cross the bridge in the same way that when you stand next to a skyscraper you know you can’t scale it.  It is not possible, and to try is to insist on  failure.  The symptoms were all there.

And my sister did not get it.  At all.  It was an irritation, when I asked her to drive over to my side rather than have me walk to her, and my refusal to do so was terrible to her.

She yanked on my arm and I felt my throat close up.    A pre-swoon adrenaline kick…as strong as she is, I pulled away.  I’m sure…it looked insane.

I couldn’t breathe the thought loop was supersonic at this point.  A cool gust hit me and I thought for just a moment that I wanted to go home.

Then.

I thought I could do it if I could crawl. I couldn’t crawl.  Then finally, she let me be for two seconds and I stopped thinking entirely.  Just as before, I found myself walking.  She was supposed to talk, to distract me and started counting the lights, but I fugued my whole way afraid to blink, because lights =  seizures when you lack rational perspective.  Out of the blue she stopped talking and my rubber legs screamed a HOLY HELL THIS IS IT but I had to get out of the danger I’d so recklessly put myself in by walking through the sky over a freeway and just kept walking until there was no more bridge.

And eventually, on the ground, it felt…like, oh, what a relief and it’s over.  I didn’t feel proud about it or angry about it or anything, just exhausted.  But it is wrong to say, I think, that it isn’t hard to cross that threshold and get through it.  It doesn’t just go away because of one time you handle it.  It’s nothing to do with the bridge itself, really.  It’s this trigger that goes off and being told to get over it or told to stop it or told it isn’t real….that does not work.  It does not work at all.  That’s not a great answer for the rest of my life, but that’s what I have right now.

After that, more talking with the guy, ending up possibly joining some D&D campaign.  We’ll see.

Slap

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Well.

So.

Fuck.

I want to say that I’m a post-panic attack mess, but the thing about panic attacks is that when you’re over them, you’re out of the zone of panic, you’re fine.  Or I am, typically. It feels ludicrous after the fact, except, there’s no way in hell you’d want to go right back and face it again.  Today, however, I had multiple incidents of JUST NO GODDAMNIT.

I was fine driving to the parking garage.  I parked, and looked around and realized I had driven to the opposite side of the freeway from where my bus would pick up.  This meant, if I had any interest in not missing the bus, taking the walkover bridge.   This, for most people, is not a thing. But my mind slipped its gear and suddenly, tunnel vision, heart racing, the usual effects. I paced about trying to not appear completely insane as people walked casually, strode earnestly across the bridge.  I was feeling light-headed.  The solution was right there.  Eventually, the necessity of the thing somehow kicked in and I thought, I can see the buses over there.  I can’t not get on the bus.  The only busses I need are over there.  I will do it.  I will cross this evil looking unholy bridge.

And running my hand over the railing, my heart feeling as though it were a glob of coal furiously twitching out its last dying beats, walking like some sort of clomping psychopath, I crossed the bridge.  And nobody knew that it felt as though I had defeated some sort of boss battle.  Nobody knew how incredibly hard it was.  Nobody cared as I bought my bus fare and calmly went to the downtown station and then took a lyft to the new job because I didn’t want to have to worry about finding the place on my first day.

Nobody cared as I sat quietly at my desk in our new space which is just a cubicle.  There are people around, but we’re so tense, and feel, to my mind a bit like refugees trying to make our own space in this established country that it’s…well, it’s nothing like the shop.  It’s sterile and claustrophobic and it’s nothing I want to experience, really, ever again, but I will.  Even if I…well, eventually, it became time to go home.

And I laughed internally about what if I have some problem, wouldn’t that be awful.  That joyful anxiety-based what if probe that never finds anything but blows up half my brain anyway.  I shrugged it off, but then the lyft driver to the bus station was a mess once I finally got there and my initial start time to catch the bus back kept getting pushed back so that it had been nearly an hour since I left the office until I even got on the bus.  Then, upon arriving at the station and getting in my car, I have this odd thought about how this place doesn’t look like any place I could ever be.  My muscle memory won’t stop recalling how it felt to cross the walkover bridge even if I know I don’t have to do it.

It won’t stop cycling over and over as I leave the parking garage realizing I don’t want to be on this side, that I can’t be on this side, what road is this, it’s dark, I can see things I recognize right over the freeway, but I can’t move to get there…and then, full-blown meltdown.

I think my brain just realized that I was pushing it job change/life change/knuckle-down and bear it reaction  right through and whatever calm I had before was gone.  I pulled over and shook and cried and did the whole thing.  Couldn’t get a hold of my sister, so I called my other sister and she was quite kind about it.  Until she suggested I call my father, call uber or lyft and I was able to take a breath and manuever the car over to where I had intended to be.

And then, I sat and breathed through it and thought and twinged and flipped for about an hour in the parking lot.  Stared at the cars as though they were weaponized.

Finally, FINALLY, time was time and the prospect of having anyone come and get me felt both deliriously right and tremendously wrong at the same time.  Like, sure, it would in the instant relax and get rid of the panic, but then, I’d have to stave off the guilt.  And if there’s anything in the world worse than panic (aside from the actual horrors of war, the actual traumas that exist), it is feeling guilty because you panic.

So, I rolled up this little ball of energy, the radio played a Paramore song.  I thought I have power, I have an incredible superpower to fight through this now, I can do it, I can do it, I can do it.  A mantra that would brook no opposition.  And suddenly, I found myself at the  taco place getting tacos and gasping because, well, it was easy, of course.  So close.  So simple.

Hah, oh, fuck.

I can’t express how much I hated that.  Or how relieved I am I get a day away from it.  I don’t think I can share with you what it felt like to know you can’t go home.  Or how suddenly, you could.

But, it was a day.  And the fight goes on.

Unpacking

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We can begin here with the list. I continue to have some sort of hypochondriac fit that is dancing around with all of these anxious, depressed thoughts in my head.

I have to say, darling, consider this: your grandfather just passed away. You have to travel with the whole family to say goodbye to him and this is always stressful and out of control. Everyone gets hyper under good circumstances and you’re not likely to be able to behave in a way that makes everyone happy with you. It’s been a while since you’ve flown anywhere so you feel as though now there is room for something, mathematically, to go wrong. You’re trying to predetermine how to behave and how to react and worrying about things that would never happen (your throat swelling up because you’re on the airplane, your body going out of whack and passing out, the obvious and essential crashing). You’re trying to protect yourself from all of this by pre-processing it and pre-living it so it becomes fearless. You’re forgetting that you’ll have your family around you in case anything goes wrong. You’re forgetting it’s just a two hour flight. You’re forgetting that your thoughts have no power to impact anything in the physical realm unless your body gets up and acts them out. Letting them pass is exactly the same as holding on, petrified to each one, in terms of their power.

Then, when you return, you’re going straight back to the airport and back on another plane to see your marvelous friends. You’re going on a big trip to a place you’ve never been before. You’re irritated with your job and the reduced hours means you’re not thinking about it as much as you have always obsessed in the past so that, too, is making you worried. Money is scaring you. You had to spend all day fake smiling at people and trying to sell raffle tickets. You sold 3, two of which were to you, at your table which smelled of the giant truck which was blowing its exhaust at you and faintly of cat piss. You would feel slightly good about this except for having been told that everyone should shoot for 100 a week. You’re unsure of your writing. You feel lonely even while hanging out in this group of like-minded nerds. Everyone feels like they’re there for a reason. You just want to ride the draft of a couple compliments (and also find true love.) You feel stress about your dieting. You told your mother how much weight you lost and instantly (although this coincides with your grandfather’s passing) starting fucking around with your plan. You’re frustrated that perhaps trying to eat better and lose weight has triggered some sort of physical issue, like you’re damned if you do and if you don’t. You’ve been driving on your own all week – managing it well enough, but you’re worried about suddenly being sent to have to deal with a new location you’ve never had to go to before. This has not happened, but you feel certain it might. You are not doing well at all about talking back to the irrational thoughts around driving today, but you’ve forgotten the past four days where you did it just fine. You don’t want to move in such a way that will make you think something is wrong.

And the internet is not working! And Prince died! And other, valuable people in this world. And you want to take on the tone of the world today as though that were a life sentence.

You have a lot on your mind. There is no need to torment yourself for not being at chipper kitty status right now. You can be sad and grouchy and introspective and itchy in your own skin. You’re at some crossed roads right now. You don’t need to gaslight yourself and say you’re not feeling it because you’re scared of how deep you could feel it. You’re a bright girl and you’re going to get the help you need as you need it. You are going to look up.

Overloaded: Day Two Hundred Seventy-Seven

336148_5708i cannot allow myself to get sick.  I feel like it might be coming on, and I want to curl up and turn the light off that is flashing like it is guiding seafaring vessels home from behind my eyeball.  Writing this seems nigh on impossible.

i just will peck away at this keyboard until something comes out.

Today, I just got overloaded.  Too much pulling on my arm, too many emails shot like ninja stars at my face, too much need and noise and aggravation and now I feel the result.  I feel like a pile of shit with a sore throat and a head full of clutching pains.

That’s not a very alluring statement and I suppose that’s just testament to the fact that right now, right right now, I don’t really want to be sitting awkwardly in my bed with a neck that aches, a shoulder in my ear, and just one more goddamn thing that I have to do.  I just want everyone to back off and they can’t and won’t and it, has, I think, finally driven me crazy.  Or at least just filled up the decent-sized bucket of what I can take and all of the tasks and guilt and stress are splashing around like this storm  that has haunted the past week, held at bay for hours and then, when the night comes and the exhaustion lets the reins go a bit slack, it soaks the streets.

I’m watching the second 90-minute episode of the Voice which has taken up a good portion of my evening and kept me from completely flipping out.

Today, I went out to lunch with a volunteer who wanted to check in with me and thank me for being me and I feel so ungracious and ungrateful that she gave me a giant sack of crocheted blankets and hot pan holders and a jar of applesauce and I am only thinking about how I’m up to my neck in alligators and how I’d prefer not to be a pump for information and I need to get back to the office.  In turn, per usual, I don’t eat and then life, life rolls over and bites me in the ass.  I certainly have my part to play in this, make no mistake.  Of course, I also did not have the usual high-dosage of caffeine today and I think I’m going through the first terrible stage of withdrawal (I did have a few sips of coffee this morning, early) and I do sort of want to shudder and shake and murder with my own bare hands anyone who deigns to speak to me.   But doing that did mean that I was able to drive home without any major panicky (by which I mean driving somewhere I don’t intend to go to avoid what I think will trigger me.) episodes.  I keep realizing that caffeine and sugar lately just fuck me up.  When this is over, I intend to do something about that.

There are no extended metaphors here, it’s just one and done.

Headache City: Day Two Hundred Twenty-Three

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I feel really cheated out of a full weekend.

This week, this oncoming week before the festival, I don’t have the luxury of taking a day off.  I won’t have a day off until 7+ days from now.   I have a writers’ group I can’t bring myself to reschedule yet again even though it technically conflicts with the last festival meeting which I…to be technical…have to run.  And all my regular work still has to be done and all of this is cause for a full-on panic attack, but right now I just don’t feel good and I want to escape via sleep from my headache and the worries, but this goddamned stuck m key and my sense of weird morality related to posting here is keeping me quasi-upright.  The header picture inspired me.  Right now, I’m just looking for the light at the end of the tunnel.

Because today was going to be this fantastic day of room-cleaning and do-gooding and I was going to make some marked progress in some of these areas that so ail me.  And what did I do today?  I ate Wendy’s and played Civilization V.  Oh, and watched a pallet-load full of Leverage episodes, all of which I had seen before, but they are cleverly done, don’t you agree?  I did start a load of dishes and wash the pots and pans and sweep up a bit and I’m going to have to be satisfied with that, because as of the moment, the day is gone, the night is upon us and I am incapable of pulling myself away from my compilation video of funniest clips on QI.

I keep waiting for this burst of energy and song – for the kick from Italy’s boot to come flying at my arse – to get my walking going, to get my food sensible so I have a little body security, to fucking get the fact that this is happening, that hell, the trip is paid for (almost, just need that Boston hotel, we can’t forget – unless I have a friend to stay with there and I might, but it’s pretty gauche to ask someone to let you stay at their house betwixt the hours of 8 or 9 p.m. and six in the bloody morning – I think you might be reading the QI influence on me).  At any rate, I am doing this crazy thing and like so many other aspects of my life, I’m just delaying until some force acts upon me.  I always assume that if it matters to anyone other than me, that person will care enough to freak out at me and that’s when I’ll know I have to move forward and handle a few things.  But aside from my friend in Rome, it’s pretty much up to me to make sure I’m ready to do this, but how do I do this when I have to think about 35,000 people on the street and a party and forms and what if I didn’t get tickets in time for the Vatican and I am just frozen in this very spot.  As shatterable as an ewok on Titan.

 

Ineffable: Day One Hundred Seventy-Four

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John Denver Weather tonight.    You know it when you breathe it in the air, turn your head and there’s this exquisite pain when you realize the whole sky is awash with fiery light, pink at its edges, blinding white at its center, and every cloud is cornflower blue.  The birth of summer.

This is crazy to have to mention, but it’s been a good couple of months since I’ve drove back home the way I drove back tonight.  The most straight-forward of the non-highway methods of reaching home.  The way I haven’t gone because at various points in the last few months, I’ve had varying degrees of panic.  The palms sweating, can’t breathe, eyes distorting distance and not tracking motion sort.  The kind that really puts a kink in a girl’s stride, actually, as it would do any girl if she were any sort of planner or hoper or dreamer, or even just a sack of grain with a faint notion of self-autonomy.   This, for various reasons, some of which I’ve put my finger on and others seem as ineffable as the   But tonight, because it was late and the traffic was thin, and we’d been driving hither and thither and I hadn’t felt the impulse to cower behind the wheel or in the passenger seat, I thought, well, I could do this.  And it turns out, I could.  Even if Mildred, this anguished character that represents everything that is lonely and fearful and anxious in my psyche, did her best to pull on the reins.  I was going up the unnecessary hill, a hill that seems to thrill my bones and says I will lose my grip on the wheel and I will pass out in response to this paroxysm of emotion at driving up a hill and while all of those feelings were certainly present, a stronger thought took over.

I am going to Florence, I can get up this hill.  I’m going to Florence, I’m going to Florence…aieeeee!  (Imagine a panicked aieeeeee like in John Denver’s Calypso.)

…I think I just shocked the shit out of the vast, uncounted corridors where the sleepy goblins and lesser demons drool and crawl.  I think I ran through those hallways with a broom and a lantern, ran, danced, moved through the dust, banging and shouting for all of those creepy little bastards to get moving.

There’s a bit of a high that comes with facing down a fear, one that despite how tiny and small it should be, hasn’t been.  But I caught it on its heel tonight and upended it.

…..

Other things were worthy of noting, going to the post-work event and talking to someone kindly about life as we know it in our small town.  Rushing about for thermal printing tape. Doing my absolute best.  Feeling not perfect or organized, but just happy, not frustrated and thwarted and all my negatives, but reaching for a better, warmer conclusion.  Stealing a better fate for myself.  The Iron Bull.  All this joy.

 

 

A Blue Sun: Day One Hundred Forty-Nine

Minolta DSCFood diary done, check.
30 minutes on the stationary bike, check.
Hot bath, fairly soonish.
Clean living room, check.
Groceries procured, breakfast and lunch is ready for tomorrow, check.  Unless lunch is being bought and I have to find some way to not make a really bad choice for myself.

So why do I feel like I’ve wasted this whole weekend?  I don’t know.  I do feel that way, and can probably attribute it mostly to the fact that the weight didn’t move again today, but as I’m talking with my friends and trying to be funny on the internet, I guess I feel alright today.

Imperfect, but alright.

My boss sent about 10 emails for me to address tomorrow, but I ignored them.   I didn’t send out the mass email.   Nobody would have read it, I reasoned, because it’s a holiday and it’s my weekend and I’m not getting paid unless I put down for it which we’ve collectively decided we’re not doing.  I don’t even remember all of them but at least a couple made me throw up my hands in awe, despair, joy, indifference…mostly indifference to the new paradigm.  Everything’s on the table, it seems, and I want to be invested in home life and just skate by with work life.  I don’t want to be part of the slicing and the dicing.  I don’t really want to be part of any of it.

It feels, to me, like it’s time to get my boat out of the docks, to worry about my business and that means not pouring myself into these questions and problems.  Not anymore.

I miss my friends and being wicked and funny with them and planning what books I’m to read and writing my story in a notebook and wandering about without being tethered to nines and fives.  Everything is better, but better means that it’s clearer that I don’t necessarily want the circumstances I’m living in right now to be my circumstances for now and for forever.  My little sister is now flying on the red eye, or will be soon, to Colombia for a wedding of a friend.  She and her boyfriend are going and weren’t sure, I’m sure aren’t sure even at this very moment, what they’re getting into.  But they’re going and they’re going to see what happens.  I think that’s a good way to be.  To not back out even if you’re pretty sure that you’re going to be uncomfortable and unsure of yourself in foreign climes.   I’ve been freaking myself out about going to Italy – like what am I thinking – but at the same time, this opportunity, when is it going to come around again?

In that vein, getting the panic dealt with  and this mild aversion to the idea of not being in panic and anxiety when it comes to the areas of my health and future, of getting better are becoming writ large in everything I do.  I’m like a doll sometimes, just dragged about.

Lots going on in my head, but the tasks go first.