So, I’ve been thinking, fancy that, about what do. I say this every year and yet, here we are mid-September after 6 years of nigh-on daily blogging. And as much as I love this – and believe me if you believe me about anything when I say that I do love it – I wonder at times about how it is helping me. I also ponder lately if there’s something deleterious about elevating the random happenstance of my life into language as if it matters so very much. The false equality of this page.
Let me explain. I had a good day overall, uneventful, and I even found myself capable of staying calm and not going into any sort of panicky spiral. There really is not much more to say than that. I could recount the reheated Monte Cristo sandwich I had for a very late lunch, how heavy and oil-laden, how pleasantly filling as my first meal of the day, how it stunk up the whole back room. But, overall, it was not a day of any real literary worthiness or self-revelation. I managed myself sufficiently.
However, the drive home was slightly…panic-stricken. I was having this internal dialogue with myself as to whether or not, as the night got dark at 7pm, my eyes functioned. This dialogue kicked in the whole array of panic functions which, as you may be aware, raises one’s heart rate and widens one’s pupils to let in more light. For the purposes of survival against the terrors of the unknown woods, monsters and bears and whatnot. Not to secure me on the street I always drive home.
After reading about a driving anxiety program last night that detailed specific experiences people like me have, and that I have, it was on my mind. I said I’d be as cool and reserved as I’d carefully relaxed my way into throughout the day and…in fact, whammo, I was very much freaked out because of this minor transition.
So that happened. I felt the clenchy, gasping, going to black-out, going to lose control, everything tight as if I had a blood pressure testing bracelet around my whole body. I hated it as anyone would.
But…I still got home, you know? I still managed to make the turns and press the pedal and not hit anyone and I still…did it.
So I guess, making a post about oh my god, this happened to me and let’s always remember how I’ve got this issue and isn’t it so true that with every up there’s a down and…I can collect hundreds of these posts and not clue into the fact that life does go on if every single post is meant to feel like this encapsulation of the totality of my being. It’s just a still frame, though. A single snapshot.
It just feels like it would be a lot better to accept that hey, I have to drive that way home tomorrow, too. So let’s talk instead about Edwardian spy societies and alternate realities and immortal father figures and corsetry and mad sciences and mad magic and…
I am contemplating requiring 500 words of fiction of myself. This is the muscle that is meant to be worked. That means I may not end up feeling like writing a post about the fact that I had trouble with my driving anxiety. Or about the innocuous quality of my day. Or whatever. I feel like maybe I would lose something by doing that after six years, but I’d also be making a radical change towards accepting that not every hiccup is worth the linguistic engine of my brain. I want the stories that I’m building to blow you away, and that is going to take time and energy. Maybe I can’t spend it this way as much.
I am thinking.
I’m hopeful that I can carry this post over to MyFitnessPal. I just need to be present there. I am also hopeful that the internet will remain connected long enough for me to draft and post this. I’ve written every day – however, internet blackouts have kept those posts as word docs so I’ll edit them in soon.
Some of this will be replicated in earlier posts, but I don’t think I’ve given much detail there – if at all, so I will not have to mind repeating myself.
Today was Sunday. A day of not being on-call. A day of not being anyone’s employee but my own. In that regard, I did one thing of significance. I left the house.
It is odd. You build a thing up in your mind as difficult and it builds its own little wall around the idea. What was once simple and easy and done every single day, for me, can become the sort of issue that I wake up and find myself panicking over. I have, of course, been travelling on my own – particularly lately as I have had to take those long drives into the old stomping grounds to perch myself on the old stomping lane for my little part-time job. In some ways, I have been doing precisely the opposite of what an agoraphobe desires. I’ve been in public, talking with people, driving, active. But in my head, I’ve been doing what I can to not think of anything.
My grandfather passing, dear little Peanut having to leave this mortal realm to wherever kitties play beyond this life, getting this new job and how much it pricks the heart of my body issues, visiting my friends and then realizing the depth of their absence in my life, feeling profound deja vu with issues related to the current job, feeling tired all the time. That was May.
Food, through this, and soda, too, has been this coping mechanism. The great cure-all to make time pass, to make time stop. To shut out all the shaming voices that I hear about the failures and frustrations I am experiencing right now. And the other good tactics I know about, in my head, feel impossible. It’s those walls that exist around them after avoiding them for a month. Exercise felt like digging through a brick wall with my fingernails. Writing down the fact that I had ice cream for breakfast and a brownie for late breakfast today still feels like I’m spitting in the wind. I feel embarrassed, but at the same time, like I’m not ready to take off the bandaid. Even if I don’t have the money right now to keep eating out for every meal. I have to start paying attention.
But I told my parents about the job situation. They didn’t flip out. They didn’t catastrophize the way I did for them. They absorbed it and supported me. They did, as they do, start to think of ideas what to do, but not as though I needed to do them…more of a group brainstorm. It was okay.
Somehow, telling them what was going on took a load off of my mind. I didn’t need to go get some extra food after seeing them to take off the edge of having spent so long thinking about these painful things. I didn’t go buy a bottle of soda just for the craving.
So I feel, somehow, like I’ve done something right.
And on another note, bonne matin!
So, when in doubt, when you’ve eaten dinner at 10:35p.m. because you suddenly thought you were ravenous for polenta and roast beef stacks with carrots and you realize that maybe your body is not happy with that choice at about 11:19p.m. when you’re due to be well on your way into your daily post, you should blog, as ever, about love.
This group is interesting. It’s strange. It is pulling me towards my best and shittiest behaviors and inner thoughts. It’s this Mst3k group for people who are looking to date, and I don’t know if I’m looking to date, but I know that I’m looking, I have eyeballs and such and occasionally a twinge roundabout that reminds me that I am a lady with the parts of a lady that into, in generalities, the parts of a man. If I may be so coarse. So, there’s more gents than ladies in this group. There’s a few people in the state, but it’s just starting so, there aren’t more than you could count on one hand for me, men and women included. And this, I think, is good for me, because there isn’t that instant feeling of needing to progress yourself towards a meeting so quickly. The men and women of the group are all, in some manner, geeks and nerds. We’re all into some Venn diagram of genre literature/video games/comic books, you know the stuff. We’re all at least on that level tangentially related to one another. It does provide for an easy place to start with saying, oh, hey there. You like x, I like x, isn’t x great? Aren’t we great for liking x? There aren’t strait-laced jocks who want to barge in and look you up and down and put a price on you. Even that’s an awful…ah.
But that isn’t to say there isn’t some curious shit that goes down when you dump a pile of random geeks of varying ages in a “room” and say…all of y’all (with the exception of the gay and lesbian members who are a bit starved for choice at the moment) are open to the idea of “it” if they can just be convinced that you can provide them with “it”…so there’s a lot of unearned compliments (it could just be that I have zero comfort with anyone telling me I’m beautiful, particularly if I haven’t formed any level of attachment to them) and near-flounces and “nice guy” shit. Ladies owing dudes time, messages, forgiveness of problems and defects. But I can’t for a minute call anyone up on that if I am just as image-focused and projecting all my body issues out there wildly on everyone else so that a bit of fairly clever back and forth with a guy gets a bit deflated in my head, not by the epic distance of states upon states between us, but because I have an image of what I’d like to be happening.
Basically, there’s another guy in the group I like – a couple, really – but one I had a dream about, one who reminds me, I’m sure, on a distant level of Mr. Rochester. I dunno if he likes me, only, that like a giddy teenybopper, I noticed he liked a picture of me. Which feels like something, despite not being anything. All these behaviors that I’m messing around with…I know how childish they are. I know that teenagers do them and recognize that they make people feel like shit and grow up and stop. Game playing.
It’s just pushing me to get clear about my business. That I don’t have to feel mad at myself that I have a preference. It’s nobody’s fault.
One more day until we enter the Twilight Zone.
I am sitting at my desk to type this post. I am going to sit here and type the whole thing whilst on my less than comfortable chair. I am not going to pull the laptop back to my lap and sit back on the bed. I bought this desk for a reason. I think I am becoming Quasimodo, hunchback-wise (his most salient descriptor, I suppose, aside from the ugliness we conflate with hunchbackery) and I think it’s unhealthy. I know it is because it causes me pain in my shoulders as they wrap around me. I feel the straitjacket of my own ribcage, my own arms protectively surrounding me, squeezing my heart. There are no breasts, there is no body, there is just a shape. The shape that holds the phone up to the face and takes in cat videos and shimmies fingers to set timers that are inevitably ignored. The inertia is profound and negligible. When I can’t, I don’t. There have been so many days when I don’t, though, that I stop asking whether or not I can.
I will stop when it hurts enough.
I am noticing today how much better my mind feels when I read, when I listen to intellectually provocative material, when I engage myself in an inquiry not just of self, but of the media I take in. When I push. Laying/sitting/reclining in the bed day in and day out has some sort of knock-on effect of relaxing my ability to coalesce thought. I am not treating my writing as the honorable, necessary exercise that it is. As the lover I love, who loves me so desperately that he calls to me at all hours, murmurs in my ear, pets my arm and says “Let’s just try, it’s only just for us.” In response, I shift and turn my back and say, just one more video, just one more act of creative voyeurism, the release of looking at worlds made and projects lifted up to the light. I know the muse feels the coldness, I know the muse feels regret. We could be so good together if I could just let it in.
Every now and then, though, I sit up and I say. Okay. I say, if you’re sure we’re not going to make this a big deal. If we’re just going to play. The pilot light bursts forth in a shroud of heavenly blue, the shoulders release, the dancers stretch their legs. The muse and I climb beyond the bay window and walk down to the water and watch this far-distant ship slowly turn and bring itself into the harbor. After what feels like hours of waiting, it finally drops anchor and all of the pirates jump over the the hull and swing ropes onto shore. The dancers emerge and guide them up off the beach and in the rough-hewn, thatched-roof cantina, we drink with them and listen to their adventures. Their hungers, their thirsts, their old shanty songs and we take notes. They don’t mind us eavesdropping, not so long as we let them dance with the dancers and drink all the mead. Eventually, they drop, drunk, exhausted and drained of all their stories and we crawl away so as not to wake them. There are only a few hours left until sunrise and they won’t be here in the morning.
Every now and then, the notes are readable, they make a sort of map. And every now and then, the muse and I climb up over the bluff, and eastward, and south-south-eastward, and look for the stand of three threes that reach up as if in prayer. We use branches and invented shovels, and sweat away just at dawn, just as the sky moves from its groves of oranges and violets to that first breath of heavenly blue and dig at the red x. Deeper and deeper into the sandy soil, until there is a thump. We’ve hit something.
Every now and then we open the chest and it is not empty. It carries in it another map that the water and acid of the soil has not tainted. And every now and then, though our arms are tired and we’re keen for a picnic, the muse and I will follow that map to the next. We will go until once in a very great while, when we’ve forgotten the clever pirates’ great claims of riches and spoils and are only concerned over discovering the next Red X, and we’ll use our dirt-stuffed fingernails to claw open a chest that holds no map.
It will seem empty at first. But we’ll sit still, blinking at it and at each other for a very long while. It feels different, the muse will say. It does, I will say. It feels like an ending. Satisfied, aching, under a heavenly blue made dark save for its map of stars, we’ll head back to the shoreline and try to sleep.
Ah, well, hi. Happy day after Easter.
No real clue if today’s post will just be long and winding and somehow end up 1500 words long to make up for the past two days absences, or if I will just realize that nobody really needs that much of my pontification on my state of being regarding a brief, passing illness and move on.
I just have to get back into the groove. Of everything.
So the gross details of my absence are thus: I think I haven’t thrown up in ten years. So a total body evacuation was a bit of a surprise. Ahem. Without converting this all into nightmare fuel, the whole terrible situation sort of went on all night and I didn’t sleep. And in the process of being sick, all of yesterday I did the common thing of just zoning out. My brain went on a vacation I know not whence while the body ached and shivered and shook.
Today, I was on the edge of being able to make it into work and not and circumstances being what they are, it really doesn’t make a hill of beans’ difference right now whether or not I’m there, so I elected to text the boss. More than anything the problem was the detached mentality floating five hundred miles to the west of my head. And so I slept till noon, rolled around, and ended up finally forcing myself upright for some chicken noodle soup and ginger ale. Oh, and laying back down on the couch and watching extremely an random 80’s movie (The Rachel Papers?) and then a couple reruns of Grace Under Fire.
Grace Under Fire was one of those shows that was in the repertoire of casual family viewing for us as kids. Along with the Torkelsons, Roseanne, Nick at Night, all of those TGIF sitcoms, cartoons, it was an acceptable way to pass a half an hour when I was growing up. The internet was just coming around in the form of America Online and participating in it – though eventually, it became my end-all, be-all form of entertainment – was work. TV was reliable and we would all gather around in the living room with dinner to laugh at the same thing.
I didn’t and don’t know all that much about actress and comedian Brett Butler’s addiction and breakdown that lead to the show’s cancellation. I’m probably not going to watch so much of it to care in anything more than a gently empathetic concern for my fellow human, but man, it does seem sad to me that her talents here aren’t still lauded.
When I was a girl, I didn’t understand how great parts of Grace Under Fire were. Really, I think Gilmore Girls might count it amongst its predecessors in terms of razor-sharp dialogue delivered in rapid-fire quip form. And yet, there’s a sincerity to her performance that shows why you’d want to give this woman a show. You want to see her succeed. Beyond the fact that she talked about domestic violence, she addressed feminist issues, her single-momness is central to her reality, not set aside because it’s inconvenient, she has this underdog quality that you root for. I mean, you just have to watch that opening credit sequence which is so incredibly 90’s to see what they want this show to be…about Grace and her vision of the world. The kids aren’t even in it.
I just started watching on this scene where she ends up just slightly falling for the seemingly awkward (but rather cute and clearly well-matched in terms of wit) chemist played by William Fichtner, and you can really feel her loneliness and ache and fear about the potential new relationship. Her ex-husband was physically abusive and only a year behind her and her kids, so this is a whole pile of problems that she can’t quite wrap her head around, but yet. Yet. I feel like the chemistry is…well, palpable. And so, incredibly gingerly, she lets that romance begin. Even though she comments several times that she feels like she’s risking too much, she lets herself go out there into the deeper waters.
There’s more to watch (and you can on Hulu), but obviously, this romance doesn’t last until the show’s over so I’m watching these scenes as a shipper who knows her ship’s the Titanic. This is obviously a healing situation for Grace, and somehow, on some level, I see the lessons in it for me. It’s stupid, it’s selfish, it’s risky, but there’s something real and emotional and alive that needs to be seen. That needs to connect and feel love. Something that all her shame and frustration and fury and wit can’t talk its way around.
She deserves the light, the open space, the parts of herself that he seems to illuminate.
I’ll be sad for her when she breaks up with him for good (or he with her as will inevitably occur) and wish that somehow they could have pulled a Parks and Rec and just seen what they had was good and found a way to write it into the show. I suppose in the first season that her single-momness was seen to be of primary importance and a dude who loved her and gave her cassettes he taped of Aaron Copland music wasn’t going to make for good TV.
…not sure I was intending to write so long about that. I suppose it could be worse and I could have rifled off a few hundred words about Barabbas which I endured on Sunday for the first time. I just need to make my brain work by generating words. By experiencing and connecting to tangible things because living half in outer space frankly scares me a bit, someone might come along with scissors and I won’t be able to come back.
Steps: making an omelet out of the Easter ham I was too sick to have yesterday. Putting on some Aaron Copland music. Loading the dishwasher. Having my fill of gerund-centered sentence fragments. Another hot bath. Glaring inwardly at the fist my stomach has made. Realizing that I’ve lost 2.6 pounds – so about 12 pounds in total thus far (I’ll take it however that comes even if losing 2 days on the planet seems a rough way to mark those numbers off.) Worrying about my grandfather in the hospital with pneumonia again, though it seems he’s already progressing. Thinking maybe that’s just wishful thinking. Watching more Grace Under Fire.
Okay. 60 days in. It was bound to happen. Fred is on his way. I feel the physical impulses and urges changing, just overriding my good sense and causing me all sorts of wayward thoughts. Add on that a day where life at work felt particularly scattery and insecure beyond its usual scattered insecurity and my boss was particularly vulnerable and stressed with me and every empathic tendency I claim just wicked all of that up into my system so that I could offer succor and support and underline my loyalty.
All the while, I’m working on the copywriter angle, and contemplating bugging out when the window re-opens. I absolutely care…I just need…money. And to not have the burdens I have.
And so…food. Today. Shit. I didn’t FUCK up. I just fucked up. Lowercase. I just said I didn’t care and ate with “abandon.” Meaning I got a thing of crackers out and ate a bunch of crackers without counting them and then a few handfuls of chocolate chips. Then I had pasta for dinner with one glass of wine. Like a maniac. But it felt for a few minutes like the old ways where shoving it in my mouth blurs any sort of mathematics attached to it. The little noises, the little yelps that make me sad and nervous, I have to shut those up somehow when I do care. I just sort of hit a wall. I think I’ll be mad at myself in the morning when I get on the scale.
I am tracking, right now, as I type, my crappitude because of my stalwart desire to sweep it all away and not track it because it’s not Under. But it’s still in the position where if I get my ass on that bike, it could be under. I think I’ve guessed as accurately as I can right now. If I do this, it is going to have to go imperfectly because the bike surely doesn’t burn at the rate it tells me it burns, but I could do it even if it’s 9pm. I could do something more than nothing.
So, yeah, that happened. I did get on the bike and I did pedal it until it says I burnt 200 calories. I did that. I did the sit-ups.
That feels oddly marvelous and because I was sweaty a bit from actually using these legs of mine, I got in the tub and the ending to the story appeared, magically, in my mind. One of those Einstein playing the violin situations.
Oh, shit, while I’ve been sitting here trying to wrap my brain around reality and back again and figuring out the last fifty words on my post, it’s almost midnight.
Tomorrow is Saturday and that day is mine, free and clear. I don’t have to give it to anyone else – except go check on the cats at my parents.
The way to get in the groove is to be in it. Snap your fingers, simple as that.