Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sunday Confession: Favorite

I don't understand favoritism.

Starting in first grade, I was asked my favorite color and my favorite food. A practice that to this day I've never understood.

Yes, sometimes I feel favoritism sometimes, but I don't understand why we use the word that way and encourage it.

An InLinkz Link-up

Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday Feats & Fails 03/27/2015

Let's get hopping!

-  My brother's birthday is Sunday.  I haven't gotten him shit except for a weird little thing I'm not even sure he'll appreciate.  I suck.

-  I haven't done shit around my house in weeks though I've keep trying to get stuff done.

-  New medication is kicking my ass.  I am nauseous.  I'm having hot flashes.  I'm like a pregnant lady.

+  I'm excited to be an Auntie x3, which should be happening shortly.  My sister is uncomfortable and large.  I know I'm not supposed to say that, but she said it first.

+  My job is awesome.  My boss is awesome.  Awesome all around.

+  It's been a decent week, I guess.  Pretty uninteresting.

Customer Service Thought from the Desk of Hot Ash: Customer Speed Limit

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Confessions of a Childless Wonder: I am the Evil Step-Monster

In spite of all of my jokes and the fact that I say I'm not ready to be a Mom, I was almost a Step-Mother once.

When her father and I first got together, he said he didn't want to introduce her to me until we were much more serious, a decision that I understood, accepted and even respected him for.  Not to mention the fact that I was honestly a little bit intimidated at the idea of dating a man with a child.

He changed his mind and introduced me a week later.  She was seven at the time and the first night I met her she cried as her father drove me home because she wanted to stay and spend more time with me.  Looking back at all of his other less than stellar behaviors, I can't decide if he used her as a pawn or if his utterly clueless parenting style was just something that brought out the nurturer in me. 

My parents divorced when I was 8.  Saying I gave my mother stress and bullshit is a huge understatement; when I was a little asshole, it was always to my mom.  My mom is and was what every mom should be, and though we both have said and done things that weren't always right, she is still my rock and the person I know without a doubt will always love me unconditionally.   I know this because I pushed and I pushed hard, if anyone has a reason not to love me it would be her. 

My dad was different.  Simply put, he was harsher with the corporal punishment than my mom was when it happened so it didn't happen often.  My father was incredibly proud of his children, and most of the time it seemed like it was for merely existing as we were.  My paternal grandfather died when my father was 7, somehow I think part of my father's joy came from just being able to be there with us as long as he was (it didn't hurt that we were incredibly smart, talented, artistic, and beautiful children, but I digress). 

Both of my parents took responsibility for their children.  Both raised us and provided for us, though sometimes I feel like my mom is still raising me even as I push thirty.  There is no nice way to say that for everything my Dad did, sometimes it was painfully obvious that he had no idea what he was doing with two little girls.  I don't fault him for that because I'm sure every opposite sex parent feels those awkward limitations sometimes. 

His daughter adored me, and almost immediately I could see some of the same cluelessness and awkward limitations that I remember my dad having; Somehow I felt I had a place in both of their lives and my ex was more than happy to give it to me.  It wasn't long before he deferred everything to me; I gave her medicine, provided food, bought clothes, assigned chores, enforced rules and made decisions.  When I tried to ask him or involve him he'd brush it off and tell me whatever I decided was fine.  Sometimes, it was easier to make decisions and tell him about it later than it was to encourage him to do what needed to be done and clean up the mess he made doing it.  As much as I hate the "Dopey Dad" and the "Dad Hate" that seems to be so prevalent these days, I feel comfortable saying he is one of the reasons those ideas exist.  There were times he was more of a child about things than the actual child was.  I often felt like I should paid for babysitting when it came to dealing with him instead of the partner of a man with a child. 
Sometimes, I despised the role I had in her life.  I was 24 and had taken precautions not to have a child, yet there I was "parenting".  There were times when I hated my ex because he left decisions concerning her up to my better judgement because he didn't know what to do; I was terrified I would make the wrong decision for a child who wasn't mine.  I was resentful when we couldn't go somewhere and do something because it was his weekend and he refused to get a sitter for an hour or two (which I would have considered admirable if it meant that he was actually going to spend time with her instead of playing on Facebook or watching a movie that wasn't appropriate for her on tv).  I found myself angry at him for expecting me to love her and care for her like a mother when he wasn't doing those things as her father.  I often resented him for expecting me to give a child that wasn't mine the best I had to give consistently, but he couldn't be the partner I needed and deserved even half of the time.  There were times when after a weekend he ignored her and she was being difficult that I would shut myself in my room with the door closed until he took her home.

I was subject to so much judgement from people who thought I was overstepping, who didn't agree with the decisions I made, who thought I had no right to feel like I had a kid of my own or who thought I resented her when the truth is that I resented her father.  On the other hand, I had the people who thought I shouldn't be doing everything I was doing because I wasn't her parent and who thought I was being taken advantage of.  Sometimes, being a "stepmom in training" felt like all guts, no glory.

As frustrating as dealing with him could be, there was still plenty of good times, beautiful moments, and love between us.  When she got sick or hurt I was the person she came to for comfort.  There were times when we sang Taylor Swift songs with the windows open and the radio turned up as loud as it would go in the car. I'd look back and she'd be singing her heart out with her blonde hair blowing in the wind onto the seat behind her creating a tangled nightmare she'd come to me to brush out later, and with the most beautiful, seemingly untouchable grin from ear to ear.  I was so proud in those moments when I got to see her use a skill I had taught her, or I heard her apply something I'd tried to teach her to another situation and share what she'd learned with someone else.  I didn't realize how much I loved her until I had to let go.

The relationship ended long before it actually did.  For a long time, I stayed because I felt like I made a positive impact on her life.  I felt like I was a buffer between her and her father's sometimes stupid and irrational temper; He had a tendency to get mad and verbally unleash his frustration on the thing nearest him, usually me or her.  As long as I was there, it wasn't her.  Maybe that was my rationalization for staying just a little bit longer, somehow I believed being there for her was the right thing.

When the relationship actually ended, I didn't think I would ever see her again.  I hoped and prayed that she heard me all of the times I told her all of the wonderful things she is.  I hoped that whatever impact I made on her life was a positive one. When her mom heard about the break up, she invited me to continue to have a relationship with her.  I tried to continue having a relationship with her and we talked and texted.  She missed me a lot and I missed her so much that sometimes on weekends my house would be too quiet and I'd turn on the Disney Channel. 

After awhile, however, things started getting strange.  I grew uncomfortable when the messages I was getting from her started to resemble the ones I got from her father in frequency and tone (where are you?  Who are you with?  What are you doing?).  I'm ashamed to say that I got scared; I was scared that he would find out we were still talking if he didn't know already, and I was afraid he would use it as an excuse to harass me.  Part of me was upset because I'd left her father to get away from behavior like that and it was continuing with her and I considered maybe it wasn't really her behind the text messages.  I was sometimes getting upwards of a dozen calls or message notifications during my work day. 

When my ex sent me messages telling me to jump off a cliff, accusing me of stealing from him, and calling me a hooker and prostitute I contacted the police.  They advised me to continue not responding and consider a restraining order.  Things finally were quiet and I could deal with what comes after the end of a relationship.  I still see him slow roll past my house in his work truck sometimes, but things are pretty quiet.

Until a few weeks ago when she called and left a message saying she just wanted to talk and she missed me.  All I could do was cry.

I can't be a part of her life because it opens a doorway for him.  I'm ashamed of myself, because for all those times I thought I loved her like my own I'm not doing for her what I would do for my own children.  I've always believed that if I ever had kids, I'd never leave them.  Divorce is simply not an option for me because I don't know how my parents gave me up to each other over and over again.  But when I was old enough where reproduction was an issue, part of the reason I tried to be so careful is because I don't think I could handle handing my baby over to anyone, even their own father.  I thought I loved her like my own, but when push came to shove I pushed the door closed for my safety. 

I think about her almost every day.  I feel like a monster because she is just a child who loves me, but I can't be a part of her life and there is nothing I can do to help or make her understand that. There is no way to say to a child: I'm afraid your dad will hurt me for talking to you.  Someday, she might not love me anymore and the good things will be tainted by the rejection I've been forced to show her and the stories she'll tell will be of her Evil Almost Stepmother, but I hope not.

Customer Service Thought from the Desk of Hot Ash: Where People Come From

Customer Service Thought from the Desk of Hot Ash: Helpful Spelling

Customer Service Thought from the Desk of Hot Ash: Genius Toddlers

Customer Service Thought from the Desk of Hot Ash: Kindness

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sunday Confession: Safe


I struggle with the word these days. Though sometimes I wonder if I ever really knew the feeling.

I used to go to Wal-Mart in the middle of the night.  I told my ex's mom that once and she completely flipped, telling me I needed to make sure I wasn't followed home.  I shrugged it off as her big city paranoia.

I feel safe where I live.  And it feels good.  It has been a long time since I felt safe.  The truth of the matter is that once I'm inside and I know the door is locked, I feel safer here in my home than anywhere else and I wonder if this is why I hate to leave now.

I feel exposed anywhere else.  Here... I know the sounds.  I know how the house creaks and the furnace clicks.  I know if I hear something, it is more than likely the teenage boy down the street and one of his girlfriends, or his mom and her boyfriend; One summer, she found lipstick on his underwear.  I just stay in bed and listen for when things escalate and then I call the police.

I've become a cop caller, and I'm ok with it. I once knew what it was like not to feel safe in my own home.  I remember when someone made me feel afraid in the place where I laid my head at night. And so when I hear someone is making someone else afraid, I'll stay safe in my home and I'll make the call for them every time. Just the way I wish someone had made the call for me.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Friday Feats & Fails 3/20/2015


- Some people said some shitty things about me.  I don't care who you are or how many fucks you don't give, it sucks that people still choose to be that way.  But... I've probably been called worse by better.

-  I've been having a pain flare up in my back all week.  It's throbbing, aching, shooting pains from my back down to my toes.  I've been a monster about it all week and I took time to write about it here:

-  I haven't been using MyFitnessPal at all.  I've been wearing my FitBit but don't really check it or do anything with it.  

-  I went to see my Doctor and she told me my blood pressure is so high she wants to put me on meds.  I asked for 6 months to change it, which she agreed to.  This is good, except I haven't been doing the walking I said I would. 

-  I said I'd do something for Bonehead.  I did half of what I said I'd do. 

-  My house is a mess.  My life is at a standstill because I feel like I can't do anything because of the mess.  And did I mention my sister is due any day now?  Yeah.  

- There is nothing worse than paying for a prescription that doesn't work for you. 

+  I wrote twice this week.  Yay!

+  Work has been really good.  My boss left for 3 days and nothing burnt down. 

+  A customer's daughter called me about a problem and after talking to her she called me back to tell me her dad said that I was one of the nicest people he's ever dealt with.  Awww. 

That's it.  This week has mostly sucked butt. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

We should all be Terrified

Earlier this week, a Facebook friend posted a "joke".  It was an image of Vikings with a caption that read "Vikings Order of Business" and went on to list: 
1.  Kill all that can not be pillaged or raped. 
2.  Pillage all that can not be raped. 
3.  Once all the killing is done and you secured your pillage, find a comely whench [sic] and commence raping
4. Set shit on fire and sail the fuck off.  

The next morning, I woke up to news that Ashley Judd is pressing charges against Twitter trolls.  Which only made me roll my eyes until I read the story and instantly regretted it.  Ashley Judd is amazing, I've always been a huge fan because this woman is more than the actress you see in the movies.  She's a college graduate, an advocate, an activist and she is amazing.  I shouldn't have assumed she was going the way of Gwyneth Paltrow without reading the story because I know better.  
If you haven't heard what happened, devout and hardcore sports fan Ashley Judd did some shit talking via Twitter over the college game between Kentucky and Arkansas She didn't like a call that was made and she said someone could kiss her team's ass.  You know, the same kind of shit talking people do and have done over every game and sport since quite possibly the beginning of time.  The response?  She was called a cunt, a whore and threatened with sexual violence. 

I don't know about you, but I've never seen a man threaten to sexually assault another man for the same kind of shit talking.  I know there are places in the world where team loyalty runs so hot that fans pound the crap out of each other in the streets, but I've never seen or heard of a man threatening another man with sodomy over trash talk.  I'm not saying it doesn't happen; what I am saying is that I have regularly seen women subjected to the exact same verbal abuse and threats of physical and sexual violence for something as trivial as rooting for the other team.

No one should experience sexual violence or the threat of sexual violence.  Not a single person, for any reason.  The fact that this happens and we live in a world where men go on killing sprees because women won't go out with them, where rape jokes are funny to even a single person, and where a person can experience threats and harassment for trash talking should leave us all terrified. We should not feel safe because the men making these threats, and the people (women included) supporting their abuse, are the people who make up our families.  These people who think sexual violence and threats of sexual violence are funny or acceptable are someone's parent, sibling, aunt, uncle, cousin, or friend.  These are the people who make up our communities.  These are the people who babysit our children, teach in our schools, vote for our politicians, and even police our streets. 

People express outrage when a sex offender is released into the neighborhood.  Where is the outrage right now?  My own "friend" shared a rape joke; he doesn't know that I've been a victim of sexual assault but should that make any difference? I don't think so.   The man telling Ashley Judd to suck a dick is someone's child, would you want your son to speak that way or your daughter to be on the receiving end of that comment?  The men threatening to rape Ashley Judd are someone's neighbor, do you feel comfortable with the idea of living next to someone who threatened to violate a woman like that?  The women who think she should just take it or needs to "get out of the kitchen if she can't handle the heat" might be your child's daycare provider, the school nurse, or a police officer: we encourage our children to tell an adult they can trust when something happens to them, what happens when the person they tell is someone who supports this kind of victimization?  Can we trust our mandated reporters to report sexual violence against us or our children when they support victimization like this on the Internet?

You can't tell me it isn't the same thing, because it is.  You can't encourage or support a perpetrator of violence online and be an advocate in real life. And the fact that we live in a country where that kind of threat is not only tolerated, but actually encouraged is something that really and truly should leave us all wondering just how safe we really are. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Today, I am a Monster

The merry month of May five years ago is when my life changed.  I was run over by a crazy bitch improperly operating a piece of machinery suffered a workplace injury.  In the beginning, I tried to work with Workman's Comp and my employer's insurance company by following their instructions, seeing their doctors and trusting their diagnoses even when it didn't make sense, doing everything everyone told me to do and within a year I became that person who hates corporations and doctors, who hears the word "Workman's Comp" and begins telling everyone who will listen how completely and utterly fucked I feel.

"Fucked" an understatement.  Being on the losing end of a Workman's Comp related injury is like being viciously violated and then presented with a bill for services rendered. You lose your faith in your employer, in doctors, and in basic human decency because try as you might you can't figure out how permanently injuring someone like this could be ok and yet there are so many people - doctors, nurses, lawyers, people from the insurance company - who work for them and enforce what happens.

I experience pain every day, the difference is that what I used to consider mild/moderate pain is now my normal; I function at what normal people - or what I used to - consider a "4" on the pain scale.  A bad day can be pain so severe that at times I swear I can't see straight.  A bad day can range anywhere from hurting with every move to sitting in a chair, ice on my back and tears streaming down my face because no position, no pill, no alleged "remedy" will help.  Normal people might leave work or see a doctor,  I already know doctors can't or wont help me because if they could they would have sometime in the last 5 years (right?).  I can't afford to leave work every time my back hurts.  Truth be told, all I can do is clench my teeth, push through my day and hate myself because right now I am The Monster

The Monster is this guilty, hurtful, hateful, mean thing that I hate being, and the truth is that other people hate the monster too.  They can feel the negativity radiating off of me.  There is no doubt in my mind that my constant complaints about everything that bothers me, everything but my back, drives people away.  No one will say it, some people don't even realize that this is what pain makes me and not who I actually am as a person, they just back away slowly.  I try to mask it, stop it, hide it, medicate it, but somehow it just is never enough to keep the monster at bay. 

I currently work in Customer Service.  Sometimes I have days where it hurts just sitting in my chair and every person with a minor complaint seems to want to read me a Greek tragedy.  As I sit here trying to do my job, it is hard to resist the urge to tell people to tone down the theatrics, spare me the explanation and just tell me the frickin' problem so I can fix it and be done with it.  The thing is...when I'm in pain like this, I feel this way about every phone call and every email no matter how legitimate the complaint.  

I am riddled with guilt.  There are things I can't do and won't be doing for a few days, plans that will need to be cancelled, household chores that will need to wait (and grow increasingly nastier) until I can physically bring myself to do them.  I feel terrible because feeling this bad and knowing that I am able to have days more normal than today make me feel guilty for being so ungrateful for the days that aren't so bad - not everyone is so lucky.

I want to be thankful for the fact that I don't have a family who would have to shoulder things like the household responsibilities I can't handle right now, but then the bitterness sets in.  I don't have family who helps me with this on a day to day basis or comes to my house to help me with things I need done.  When I'm hurting at my worst I honestly start mentally tallying all the things I've done for them, and then I hate them for never helping me - though they have offered, I could never ask them to actually do what needs doing or rely on them for consistent help.  It is just too much for people who have their own homes to clean and their own families. 

Speaking of family, I honestly don't know that I'd ever be able to have a baby if I decided I wanted one because I'm too afraid of the extra weight and strain on my back.  My nephew was almost 3 when I got injured, and it broke my heart not to be able to pick him up, carry him and hold him the way he was used to before my injury.  How could I ever have a baby I can't pick up?  While I'm glad I don't have a family of my own to shoulder the burden of my injury, the thought that this impacts my ability to do so is heartbreaking in it's own way.

I'm ugly, and I don't mean in a metaphorical way.  I'm actually ugly because I don't give a shit about my makeup or my hair.  I want to go to work, do my job and come home.  When I get home, I have to make a choice about what I'm going to do that night: try and deal with the pain and make it better; try to power through what needs to be done that didn't because I was hurting; or have some kind of a life.

I strive so hard not to be one of those people who says, "Welcome to my world" to someone who is experiencing temporary discomfort in the same area because I know how much it hurts.  I respect that sometimes people just want to talk about how uncomfortable they are.  At the same time, I want to punch them and everyone who sympathizes with them because I know their pain will go away and mine won't.  Those temporary fellow sufferers and their sympathizers rarely acknowledge that the same pain is the one I live with daily.  I'm hurting so bad that the only way I can express any kind of sympathy or empathy is to just shut the hell up.

I used to try and explain chronic pain using The Spoon Theory by Christine Miserandino.  Now I just feel like explaining it costs me a spoon I don't have to lose, especially to those people I've had to explain it to more than once.  Eventually, keeping my spoon became more worth it than their understanding. 

Living with chronic pain is lonely.  You don't want people to come over because you don't want them to see the mess, or even worse, pity you and start helping.  At the same time, you can't afford to go out either because you just don't have the "spoons", or you need to use what spoons you do have to take care of what needs to get done, or you literally can't afford it because you missed work or paid for a prescription this week.

I know that I am not alone.  I know there are others out there who feel this way.  That doesn't make it any easier to live inside the monster sometimes. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Sunday Confessions: Comfort

Comfort for me is food. I will make you amazing chicken noodle soup for your soul. I will whip up cakes, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, hot chocolate from scratch. I suck at hugging. I suck at having the right words to say. But when it comes to comfort food I will rock your socks off.  I should cater funerals. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Meet the Parents

In late January, I met Bonehead's mom for the first time.  We've known each other for eight years and he has never formally introduced us.  As much as I would like to blame Bonehead and bad manners for this, the truth is that I'm selfish about our time together and he enables my petulant, spoiled child-like behavior.

As an introvert with social anxiety disorder, I'm not very good at meeting new people.  As an adult with a potty mouth, a horrible sense of humor and Open Mouth Insert Foot disorder, I'm not very good at meeting parents.  I was already anxious, but then I remembered that he had told his mom about Brian the Foot Guy.

Have I mentioned that my own mother does not read my blog?  It's never been hidden from her, but I've also never encouraged or asked her to read it.  Hell, some days I'm surprised anyone reads it.  Having read my blog, I can't figure out what might possess him to tell his mom about my experience as a foot hooker, much less encourage her to read my blog.  Knowing that she might know that I'm a taco-farting pestitute with undergarment issues who has DIY steamed her vagina was not a super confidence booster.

When the actual day came, I wasn't that nervous in spite of the fact that it had potential to be a train-wreck.  It was nice to finally get to meet her.  A few days later, Bonehead asked me what I thought and I responded that I liked his mom and she's very nice.  I'm not really sure what kind of response he expected from me, but he kind of sounded disappointed like he yearned for me to wax-poetic about his family when the truth is that I was just glad it didn't top the worst "Meet the Parents" experience I ever had.

When I was 24, the boyfriend-that-was took me to meet his parents.  We'd been dating for about twenty days at that point, and I wish that is the most dysfunctional thing I could say about what occurred that night.  

Things started out normal with the standard get-to-know-you questions.  We had a relatively pleasant meal together and I helped his mom and sister clean up after dinner.  Things were going along quite well until after dinner when the adults gathered around the table to play cards.  At first, it was fun.  I sat next to him and watched, half amused and half horrified, as he sat at the table with his family and they proceeded to call each other names and drop f-bombs everywhere.  It was not uncommon for them to call each other assholes and whores before yelling "fuck off" and stomping out to the porch for a cigarette break and then resuming the game.  It was all fun and games until his sister made a snide remark about a pissing contest and that was truly the moment it all went to hell. 

There are just some people in life you would like to pretend don't have a sex life: anyone over a certain age, your parents, and Jonah Hill (not because I wouldn't hit that, but because I bet he cries afterwards).  I grew up in a household where you just assumed people had sex and no one felt it was necessary to talk about it.  His parents felt that people needed to know that they still did it regularly and they didn't care if everyone knew it.  What I wasn't prepared for were the details. 

Yes, the details.  Over the next hour, I would find myself included among the people who knew about the kind of things they enjoyed doing together, up to and including sex on a trampoline and the various times they'd gotten drunk and found themselves having to pee at the same time.  The most disturbing, however, was the story about the time they engaged in what can only be described as a pissing contest mid-coitus.

His dad won.  Apparently.

It was one of those moments in life where I prayed for Resting Bitch Face.  It was all I could do because when you're sitting at the table with your boyfriend's parents and they tell you a story about a sexual encounter turned competitive water-sports...there are just no words. 

If the horrid relationship I had with my ex didn't scar me for life, meeting his parents has definitely made an impact.  As much as I think Bonehead would have liked me to say something profound and complimentary about meeting his parents, I'm more than thrilled with the slightly awkward, and completely normal experience of meeting his mom.  Especially the part where she started telling me embarrassing childhood stories.  I hope she brings pictures next time.

What do you think is the "right" time to meet your significant other's parents? Do you have an awkward "meet the parents" story?

Friday Feats & Fails

So glad it is Friday.  Let's get this party started...


-  My birthday sucked.  Like, literally sucked.  I got a ticket.  The cats barfed everywhere.  I woke up with a migraine.  People were assholes to me and I spent a huge chunk of my day ugly crying over it. I didn't even get a piece of my own motherfucking cake.

-  As a result of my ugly birthday cry I had puffy, red, dry, and raw skin under my eyes and nose for like 3 days.

-  I haven't been tracking my food, and I've been binge eating like crazy.  I've eaten three tubes of Pringles this week, and a bag of Hershey kisses.  That might not sound so horrible, but I'm not admitting to everything I ate.  It might be because of shark week, so I'm not losing my mind about it but... doesn't mean it didn't happen.

-  I got pulled over on Tuesday because my front license plate had fallen off, then found out my damn license had expired.  I felt like a super badass and sang "Ridin Dirty" until I could get to the DMV.  Yes, that happened

-  Chronic pain flare up.  Nothing I can do about it except suffer.

+  Bonehead has been pretty awesome this week.  I love when I don't want to punch him in the kidney.

+  Catching up on bills.

+  Lots of positive customer feedback at work.

+  I got a lot of stuff done on Sunday.  Like, my house is starting to look like a normal person lives there as opposed to someone who should be on Hoarders.

+  I'm planning to garden again this year.  It's been too long.

+  I've been able to open the window, and I haven't had the heat on in nearly a week.  I can practically smell the savings!

+  Officer Foxy only gave me warnings.

+  Jeanine from Jsack Mom blog has agreed to cohost Friday Feats & Fails with me for awhile!  

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sunday Confessions: Dream

I'm still trying to decide if I dream in color, or if I dream in black and white and I just know what color everything is supposed to be. 

When I was a little girl, I had only one reoccurring dream which I would have for a few nights every summer. I had this dream until I was in my early twenties.  The general plot was the same, but I always ended up running along a dock with a field to my left and water on my right.  Sometimes, the field was wheat, or corn, or raspberries. The water to my right would be clear blue, or misty and dark.  I was even a deer once, my hooves clicking on the wood of the dock as I ran.  I still don't know what that means.

Sometimes, my dreams have meaning. I wish they didn't. I'd prefer to be the kind of person who dreams about beautiful things.  Maybe it just means I need better boundaries.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

29 Things I've Learned

At the end of this week is my 29th Birthday. 

Twenty-nine years old.

Nearly three decades.

I remember dial up, know how to use a rotary phone and owned a Caboodle.  I remember the discontinued foods of the 90's like Orbitz drinks and 3D Doritos.  I know the words to the "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" and can't resist singing along.  I've seen every episode of "Seinfeld" and "Friends" (before it was on Netflix).  I remember listening to the radio all day to record one song on a tape, and buying CD singles instead of the whole album. For my 13th birthday, my friends and I went to see "She's All That" in the theater... and please believe, I miss the Freddie Prinze Jr of the 90's.

Birthdays are hard for me as an adult. I remember waking up on the morning of my 18th birthday and believing that adulthood would mean life would be entirely different.  When I turned 21, I reveled in the idea that I could go anywhere and do anything.  Since then, however, my birthday stands as an occasion for an overly critical self evaluation of my life and harsh reminder of my own mortality.

While some people only "face their own mortality" in the event of someone dying, I experience the anxiety, sense of urgency and self examination around every birthday.  My father was 44 when he died. My parents busted ass to make sure I had the best they could provide in terms of nutrition, education and healthcare and as a result I have an advantage my father didn't have. In spite of this knowledge, there is something inside of me that screams "This could be the middle of your life and look what you're doing with it!"

And what am I doing with my life?  I look around at other people my own age, and sometimes I feel like that screw up who isn't doing anything.  When other people my age were experimenting and exploring life, I was trying to negotiate grief.  Now that I've dealt with that grief, I sometimes feel like the tables have been turned and I'm trying to experience the things I missed out on (and thought of as immature for it) while those around me struggle with the lessons I was learning years ago.  It can be hard not only to relate to people my own age, but to feel like where I'm at is ok.

As far as the rest of my life...I love my job more than I ever thought I would love a job, but I want a career someday because this isn't going to last forever.  There are women I went to high school with who are on their second marriages, and while I don't envy anyone the divorce experience I'm over here like "Never Been Kissed", only it's more like "Never been kissed by an adult male I'm in a healthy relationship with that actually has a future" (moments like this make me thank whatever powers may be that there more than likely wont be a movie about my life).  It's not that I'm afraid of being alone because I like my space, but the idea of dying alone and unloved (not actually unloved, but not loved by someone who isn't required to "love" me by reason of genetic fault) is kind of a hard pill to swallow.

I spent a lot of my early adult life caged by fear and anxiety.  I still feel that way sometimes, but when I was 22 I started embracing the fact that I want to see and do as much as I possibly can, and that regret would hurt less than being haunted by "what if?"  I decided that if this is the middle, then I better cram in enough experiences to be considered a full life because I didn't want to be someone with a short obituary that leaves you wondering what kind of life the person had. 

And so here I am, with 29 pieces of wisdom my life has taught me this far:

1.  I have Open Mouth Insert Foot Disorder.  That doesn't make me a bad person, it makes me a person who doesn't have an ulcer.

2. Sometimes in life, all you can do is laugh.  Even if because the only reason you're laughing is to keep from crying.  Life changes should come with free wine and snacks, and it is a shame they don't but make sure you take some time to have a glass of wine and some cheese.

3.  I don't care what anyone says, it is NEVER a good idea to mash a banana and smear it in your hair as a "hair mask".  Just trust me on this one.

4.  If all you see when you look at someone's art is vaginas, you should just unfollow them or threaten to send them vagina cupcakes and they'll stop.  If all else fails, try talking about your own vagina.

5.  Underwear is important.  When I was growing up, my Dad always said it was important to wear clean underwear just in case something happened to you wisdom that was allegedly passed on from his mom).  The way I see it, if something happens to me I'm probably going to end up shitting myself anyway so I don't really see what difference it makes. 

The point here is this... sometimes, you really should listen to all the things your grandma told you about underwear, lest you find yourself committing a fashion faux pas that leaves your hot pink panties on display in a maximum security prison.  And one should never underestimate the mood-boosting power of new undergarments.

6.  Sometimes beauty isn't the appearance of something.  Sometimes, beauty is a moment.

 7. I've had some of the best moments of my life with the worst people. Those moments don't redeem their deep and intense character flaws, but are proof that most people are capable of being amazing even if the moment is only fleeting.  Cherish those moments with those people, even if you find yourself incapable of saying anything else good about them when all is said and done. 

8. When it comes to insecurities, make sure the feelings that you are feeling are actually YOUR insecurities and not someone else's criticism lest you find yourself with the taco farts.  Speaking of criticism, when someone criticizes you, consider how hard and how long they spent focusing on the subject of their criticism because clearly whatever it is you are doing is more important to them than what they have going on in their own life.
9. If you don't really love yourself, you cannot say you have no regrets because they made you who you are.  Keep in mind that a regret only becomes a learning experience if you actually learn from it and make changes to avoid the same situation/reaction/decision again. 
10.  Choosing to walk away from someone is the hardest thing.  Bonehead, who is one of the biggest frustrations and greatest loves of my life, once said this to me and it is one of the most life changing pieces of wisdom anyone has ever given me: Sometimes in life, there are things/people we have to let go of in order for them to grow in their own way.
When it happens that you have to let someone go, I believe you should always conduct yourself in a way that when you look back on how things ended, you can look back on your actions without regret. 
I have been fortunate to be blessed in this life with people who are full of great wisdom.  My cousin (who is truly a wise goddess) once told me the best way to part ways with someone is to do it with grace and speak blessings on them.  This has been adapted from her original phrasing, but I've found that it has always served it's purpose well:
12.  If my life were a quilt, it would be made of the people who love me the most, the times I'll never forget, great loves, great losses, every lesson I had to learn the hard way, and all of my many mistakes. The batting would be made of warm and fuzzy memories. The backing would be good intentions. But if my life were quilt, it would be stitched together with Awkward Moments.  And I kind of like it that way.

13.  Do not shit where you eat.  While this normally applies to things like dating in the workplace, in this instance I mean it quite literally.  As in, do not shit where you get your food.  What this means is:
  • Be nice to waitstaff and the people who are handling your food, always.
  • Do not, under any circumstances, date someone who is employed somewhere you like to eat or purchase groceries from.  While taking advantage of their employee discount will bring you great joy for awhile, in the event of a sour break-up you will end up seeing them there every time you go or you will end up buying your groceries from across town.
  • And while this doesn't apply to dating, I feel that it would be remiss of me not to tell you that you should, under any circumstances, never attend a sex toy party thrown by a coworker.
14.  Never loan something to someone you can't afford to lose, and this includes letting them drive your car. 
15.  Try as we might, we are not in control of everything. 
16.  I have met some of the most beautiful people in the darkest, scariest places and I have known monsters who live in the daylight.  This means a lot of things.   But one of the greatest lessons I've ever learned is that sometimes in life, people make bad decisions and that doesn't necessarily make them bad people just as there might be people you will encounter in life who are monsters and might never see the inside of the cell they so richly deserve.
17. Always consider the opinion of someone who has something to lose, over the opinion of the person who is only risking being wrong in their convictions.  While I respect that everyone has a right to their opinion, I think more weight ought to be given to those with a dog in the fight (if you'll pardon the expression). 
18. NEVER read your ex's online dating profile.  It will just make you bitter.  Also, unless you've got the patience of a saint, a great sense of humor, or are really and truly desperate... it is just best to stay away from Online Dating.

20.  Sometimes, the best thing you can do for anyone is be a blessing to them.  It is amazing what kindness from another person can do for us, and we should all try to be kind to each other now and then because you never really know how far a little kindness is going to go for someone
21.  I have found that the keys to happiness are having something to do, something to love, and something to believe in.  The times in my life where I have been my lowest were usually lacking in one of those areas. 
Sometimes, we just find ourselves living in unhappy situations.  Mine happened to be an abusive relationship. While there were many promises of change, eventually I had to ask myself if I could live with it if my future was more of the same situation I was living in. 

22.  Acceptance does not mean approval or resignation. I spent a lot of time in therapy on this subject.  For me, a huge part of acceptance was forgiveness because I eventually came to realization that forgiveness isn't about the person being forgiven.  When you forgive someone, you accept what happened and choose to refuse to let whatever they did, or what happened, be something that you hang on to.  Forgiveness does not mean you have to let someone back into your life, that you condone the behavior, that you will let someone act that way towards you in the future, or that you approve of what happened... it means that you're choosing to move on without holding on to things like anger and grudges.

23.  More often than not people will tell you exactly who they are, you just need to listen.  If someone believes you can't trust anyone, more often than not it is because they can't be trusted.  Someone who regularly tells you stories where they are the victim is the common denominator in every situation they told you, which makes them very unlucky or someone who creates their own storm then stands there crying about the rain.  And run from men who describe all of their exes as being crazy because chances are if a man says he's only dated "crazies", he probably drove them to insanity (and if you don't run immediately, when you finally do he'll tell everyone you were crazy too). 
24.  When you want to take power away from something, the best thing you can do is laugh at it. Someone once told me that if people had laughed at Hitler and kept laughing, World War II might not have ever happened. In many ways, I believe this could have been true. I know that in my own life, I am not really ok with something until I can laugh at it and while it might still hurt... I know if I can laugh at it, I can survive it somehow.
25.  We've all had those moments in life where it seems like our name must taste like chocolate because it is rolling around in everyone's mouth.  But at the end of the day, consider the person talking to you or about you.  If their word holds no weight with anyone of consequence, if you don't love them, rely on them or respect them enough to have them in your life then nothing they have to say about you matters.  In fact, you have more to lose by reacting negatively to what someone says about you than you do by their words alone similar to the way it is best to remain silent than to speak and remove all doubt. 

26.  Be careful of the things you take into yourself, because life is the best example of Pointillism.

 27.  This:
28.  Animals are the best companions. 

29.  I've always wondered when I'll be "complete". When the world will make sense. When I'll have all of the answers. I've spent so much time running towards this goal of completeness, but that isn't realistic. Life, people.... we're always evolving and removing and growing and changing. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sunday Confessions: Aware

Jamie tried to wiggle her toe. She longed to feel her toenail scratch against the coarse sheet that covered her, but try as she might it seemed that she would remain a prisoner in her own body. At least for today.  She wasn't sure how long she had been there.  The last thing she remembered was climbing in the front seat of her best friend Sarah's truck, and driving down the highway with the radio blaring and Sarah's cousin Travis trying to read their itinerary from the backseat.

They had all been friends since seventh grade when Jamie had met the "dynamic duo" in English class and they had become a trio almost immediately.  Sarah and Travis were lithe, blond and fair-skinned and were often mistaken for twins (and only occasionally a couple). They were beautiful like the elves in Lord of the Rings and Jamie sometimes felt like a hobbit standing between the two with her dark hair, hazel eyes, short legs and curvier figure.  Sarah's parents had given her the truck as a graduation present and she had convinced Jamie that the only way to celebrate graduation and their last summer of freedom before "real life" started was to go on a roadtrip just the three of them. 

Jaime snickered.  Real life had hit them faster than they ever could have imagined and they never even saw it coming. Of course, the nurse who was in the room using the phone next to Jamie's bed to make what sounded like a personal call about an errant child didn't even pause in her conversation because Jamie's snicker didn't even register as the tiniest blip on any of the monitors.  From what Jamie overheard her doctor telling her parents in hushed tones in the corner, she concluded that while they weren't sure how long she'd be like this they did know she wasn't a vegetable.

At least she had that going for her, Jamie thought to herself.

Try as she may though, it seemed she couldn't alert them to her presence.  When she first became aware of her surroundings, the rhythmic whooshing of the respirator and the beeping machines, she'd tried to get up in spite of the fact that there was something wrong with her eyes and she couldn't see.  When her mother came to see her and stood next to the bed brushing Jamie's hair, Jamie had screamed so hard inside that she'd given herself a headache.  They could see the spike in her heart rate and their fancy monitors told them she had a headache. They knew she was there.  They just didn't know how aware she was. 

Day after day, Jamie tried to wiggle a toe or squeeze her mother's hand during her daily visits when she would beg Jamie to give her a sign she was there.  Jamie's consciousness faded in and out, and she thought she might be sleeping in those times though it was hard to be sure.  It was difficult keeping her days straight, especially because she couldn't see. There was a woman who worked evenings, Jamie thought she might be a nurse, who talked to Jamie every time she was on shift as if she knew Jamie could hear her.  She didn't seem to mind that she didn't get an answer. Every night she would turn on the television and even though Jamie couldn't see it, she could listen to the prime time shows and the nightly news.

Sometimes Sarah would come visit, and those were the visits Jaime hated the most.  Though she couldn't remember what happened, apparently there had been an accident.  It seemed Sarah had walked away without a scratch, but Travis hadn't been so lucky. Travis was recovering on another unit in another hospital.  According to one of the ladies who came in to roll her over and change her sheets, Travis had been thrown from the truck in the accident and had "torn his pretty face off on the pavement".  The phrase haunted Jaime, especially when Sarah came to visit because she just sat next to the bed week after week crying and begging for forgiveness.  As much as Jamie wanted to reach out, there was nothing she could do but listen. 

Eventually, people stopped treating her like a person and started treating her like a piece of furniture.  Jamie was aware of them all though. Hospital staff came and went, sometimes using her bedside phone or discussing their personal lives with each other as they tended to her most intimate needs as if she wasn't even there.  When what was left of her friends came to visit, they just talked over her body about things she knew nothing about, not even really acknowledging her until they left and said goodbye.  

Not everyone treated her like a coffee table to be spoken over, though the only visits she truly enjoyed were from her mother who brushed her hair and talked to her about her friends and current events, only sometimes asking Jamie if she was "in there". The people who didn't treat her like furniture could be just as bad as the ones who did though; Maybe it was because she couldn't react or respond, but some people took the opportunity to confess things to Jamie and mentally unburden themselves of things she never wanted to hear.  A guy from high school visited once, and as Jamie laid there he told her how he'd liked her for years and how he masturbated to her yearbook photo and how pretty she still looked.  The janitor talked to her one night about his son, how he worried about him and wishes he could meet a pretty girl like her because he was sure Jamie was a nice smart girl who could keep him on the right track.  Her aunt admitted she was always jealous because Jamie was healthy, beautiful and smart, while her boys had so many problems and she wondered if it was because of her exhusband who was so abusive, even during her pregnancy (something Jamie never knew).  At one point, Jamie remembered her Dad telling her it was ok to just let go, even once begging her to so he could finally leave her mom.  Then, there was the doctor who came in with an intern who discussed how hopeful he was that Jamie's parents would soon "come to their senses and let her go" as there were patients who could benefit from her accident. 

Sometimes, the confessions and the things people told her were awful.  Jamie could do nothing but listen. She had no way of getting away, and she had no way of communicating anything to anyone, and she grew lonely being unable to express herself, or share thoughts and ideas.  She was forgotten outside of designated visiting hours and even when she wasn't she was still in the middle of a crowded room screaming, and no one could hear her.  She was trapped,and painfully aware.