Sooooo – how about September, huh? It’s like the whole month happened, and I slept through most of it. Today is the end of the month, and since it’s been a bit quiet around this corner of the internet, I thought I’d write a little catch up post. Mostly so I can figure out where the hell the time went. Continue reading “Catchup.com – September”
Do you ever have those moments where you’re all, I’ve been here before? Continue reading “Flashbacks”
I showed up to my writer’s group tonight and couldn’t wait to share how productive I was last week – an outline! Research! Narrative! Character design! I AM PRODUCTIVE! Continue reading “Twinkies (or, Notes on Inadequacy)”
I can’t remember if I’ve ever watched an inauguration before this year. I might have watched one of Bill Clinton’s, but it’s hard to remember. I didn’t even watch Obama’s, and that was historical. Continue reading “Yes, we can.”
When the rumours started swirling that he was going to run for president, I laughed. That’s ridiculous. He’s a piece of shit, there’s no way he’d make it.
And when he officially announced his intent, I still laughed. Lots of celebrities have tried to run, but they got knocked out in just a few weeks. I laughed, but I was slightly terrified at the momentum he appeared to be gaining. People were taking him seriously. What?
And then, he won the candidacy. He had more momentum. He had an opponent who people hated. He had an opponent whose party was split between her and Bernie Sanders. And people loved him. They didn’t care that he was mocking disabled people. That he wanted to register and deport Muslims. That he wanted to build a wall to keep out Mexicans. That he wants to wipe Syria off the map. That Putin is all “I’m with him.” That he bragged about not paying his taxes. That businesses in his name failed and he denied ever having being a part of them. That he bragged about objectifying and assaulting women. He preached about tearing down all the progressive measures that America is making, swore vengeance against ISIS, and it didn’t matter. They still loved him.
I saw his name on the ballot as I voted for Hillary. I thought, this is all a joke. There’s no way such a horrible man would be elected. There’s no way he’s actually on the ballot. But there he was.
There’s no way America is that reckless.
I woke up with the same anxiety stomach pains and hot/cold flashes I’ve had all week. All morning, I was glued to my phone, refreshing the results every time my boss looked away. I don’t live in America anymore, but the election was all my coworkers wanted to talk about. Election coverage has been on the news all year, but today it was on all the channels. It started out promising – she was in the lead, narrowly, but in the lead. It felt good. The official numbers started coming in around 3:00. And by 4:00 I had to put my phone down and get up and walk away from my desk. I couldn’t focus on anything. He was leading, and it steadily grew. And then it was basically over.
When I got home from work, he was still leading. I was destroyed, but still holding out hope that maybe some miracle would come through and give her the 35 electoral college votes she needed. I was trying to get a list done for my Thanksgiving shop but once again, kept checking my phone every few minutes. I decided to go out, in a mild thunder storm, to get bacon and eggs and sausage and hash browns for dinner 1) because it was time to eat my feelings and b) I couldn’t sit still anymore. And there, in the frozen food section, while wearing sweat pants and rubber rain boots, I found out that Trump had won. Clinton conceded and he won with 276 electoral college votes. He won. I cried.
I’m still in a state of disbelief. Like, I can’t believe this has actually happened. I am so disappointed, bewildered, and outraged. Out of all the elections I’ve been able to vote in, none have felt so pivotal, so important. And I feel like we failed. We have taken a man who embodies ALL the terrible qualities of America – bigoted, impulsive, angry, rapey, bad hair – and put him in the highest position of power. Worse than that, we’ve given him a gaggle of like-minded hate bags to support him in the Congress and the Senate. What the fuck! Did this actually happen? HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN?
I’ve heard quite a few times today that I’m lucky I left when I could. But it doesn’t matter. There or here, I’m still an American. I didn’t vote for him, but this man is now my president. And I’m still subject to him. As much as I am loathe to say it, he represents my country. I’m already judged when I tell people I’m American. But now I feel like I have to say, “I’m American… but I didn’t vote for Trump!” The words “President Trump” are going to follow me like a fart cloud – crop dusting no matter where I am. I will be judged by my government. One that I didn’t choose. And that’s haunting.
I’m really scared for the next four years. I’m scared for everyone – women, LGBT, minorities, immigrants, small business owners, disabled, terminally ill, people of other countries that no doubt will be invaded by Trump’s America – everyone. I’m just scared. And I keep telling myself that if we survived 8 years of George W. Bush, then we can survive Trump. I hope we can just ban together to prevent as much sliding ass-backwards into a cave of homo/xenophobia and tax breaks for the 1%.
Today was disappointing. I feel like that one time my manager quit and was replaced by an arrogant, misogynist jackass with no experience who delegated all his work to us because he refused to learn it, and I was like, “Well, this sucks. Just gotta do the best we can.” Eventually, things evened out and he gave a promotion*. So maybe this won’t be the worst thing that’s ever happened.
Or maybe it will. I guess time will tell.
But really, I hope America learned a valuable lesson – when we say “a vote for neither is a vote for either”, it’s because it’s fucking true. Thanks heaps.
*wait a minute – it was a promotion without a pay raise. Man, this might be the worst thing that’s ever happened.
I got to work a little before 7:30 this morning so I could finish putting together a training manual. I thought it would be an easy day, since the day before was so hectic. But I was swarmed from the moment I stepped through the door. It was shaping up to be one of those maddeningly busy mornings at work, where every time I turn around someone was asking me to do something, or the phone was ringing, or there was another crisis to attend to.
It was one of those days where you blink and 3 hours pass.
I blinked again and 3 more hours had passed. And suddenly I was all “wow I’ve had 2 coffees and if I don’t pee right now I’ll probably die.” So I got up to go to the bathroom. I walked down the hall and through the atrium that separates the bathroom from the rest of the floor without noticing anything, totally on autopilot. It was when I was leaving the bathroom that I saw the little guy on the ground.
He was a little lizard, laid out on the tile between the two doors of the atrium. He was almost the same greenish brown colour as the tiles, so I wasn’t surprised that I didn’t see him on my way in. I was surprised that he wasn’t moving at all, in my experience lizards are either skittish, or dead. And this one wasn’t moving when I got near him, or when I opened or closed the doors. So I assumed he was dead. Poor guy.
I walked out of the bathroom and told some of my coworkers that I found a dead lizard in the bathroom. I’m not sure why, maybe they would want to see it? It was pretty weird thing to find in the bathroom, considering how far away our second level bathroom is from the outside world. And it was such a busy day, and I was on such autopilot that seeing a lizard in the bathroom basically stopped my brain in its tracks. They asked if he looked stomped on. Fortunately, he looked like he died of natural causes.
I went back to clean up the lizard and give him a burial. The idea of flushing him crossed my mind, but then I realised a) he might get clogged, and b) flushing an animal is pretty fucked up. I opened the door to the atrium, and he once again didn’t move. I decided to gather him in some paper towels and put him outside – circle of life and all. As I got closer to him, I decided to check for one more sign of life. I stomped my foot near him – and there! His head moved slightly to the right. LIFE, HE IS ALIVE!
I got so excited that I ran out of the atrium looking for something to corral him with. I found a little takeaway container with a lid in our staff kitchen and ran back to the bathroom. He was still lying there, but when I gently shoo’d him into the container, he made almost no objection. It’s like he knew I wanted to help. Or he was just too freaked out to put up a fight. He crawled into the tub and I put the lid on without sealing it so he wouldn’t be able to jump out. I showed him around, named him Blinky, and then took him outside.
I made sure to look him in the eye, and then I wished him well and let him go in the grassy/mulchy landscaped bits in front of our building. He quickly crawled under some mulch, and disappeared.
I don’t know why, but finding and freeing that lizard was absolutely the high light of my day. It was exciting and awesome, and I felt like I had done something good for the world. And I couldn’t stop thinking – how the fuck did it get in here?
I imagined him crawling up all the steps and in a moment of perfect timing, making it through both sets of automatic doors. Or what if one of the kids found him on the way in and lost track of him when he saw the toys in the lobby? I thought of him slinking around unnoticed through all the rooms, narrowly avoiding being crushed under foot, hitching a ride on patient’s bags, living off crumbs, and trying with all this might to get back to his world as he became sick and dehydrated and cold. I thought of how something told him to go to the bathroom, like maybe something told him that’s where he would find water. But there, almost on the brink of death, he passed out in the atrium. And then I found him. And I put him back in the outside. And maybe it wasn’t his world? Maybe he still couldn’t find water. Maybe he was eaten by a huntsman.
It was a bit of perspective. Yeah, my day is so busy that I forget to eat lunch or go to the bathroom, but at least I’m not lost in some gigantic, terrifying and frozen world with no food and no water, where 900 ft tall creatures can’t see me and almost stomp me or chase me or otherwise try to kill me, where one of those giant creatures in a big yellow dress traps me in a plastic box and squeals to her coworkers that she “caught a lizard!” before releasing me into a world that’s just as scary and huge and different but equally as terrifying. Like seriously. That lizard has seen some shit. My day was cake compared to that.
At least I didn’t step on him.
Being in transition is irritating. Mostly because it feels like there’s no guarantee of stability. And contrary to my recklessly impulsive, leap and the net shall appear style, stability is crucial for me. Lack of stability makes it hard to plan for the future, which makes me unable to enjoy the now. I mean, I have a hard enough time enjoying the present because I’m usually re-hashing the past or making unattainable goals for the future, so the lack of stability or predictability makes me worry even more.
The stability I’m talking about here is financial stability – and my irritatingly persistent need for it.
At this point last year I was on the job hunt, and so I was at this time the year before that. Looking for a new job, and the first 3-6 months of working a new job can be shitty and stressful, not to mention what happens when you spend months looking for a job and ducking work so you can go on interviews and then you score a new gig and then you start and it’s really promising and after a few months you realise it’s not the right fit for you but you don’t want to give up and you really don’t want to start job hunting again so you deny that you need to find a new one until you almost have a nervous breakdown and you finally admit you need a new job. So there’s that.
Two years to settle might be a normal time frame for someone moving to a new country. But being someone who is not only recklessly impulsive but who also plans to run marathons when I should be crawling, I’m really disappointed in myself that it’s taken so long. I’m disappointed because, even though finding a stable job is really important for things like rent, student loans (thanks, mom and dad!), bills, and groceries, my reasons for not settling down and creating a full life here all feel like excuses. I just kept thinking “as soon as I find the right job, I won’t have to worry about money anymore. Everything will fall into place. I’ll start writing more, I’ll feel better, and I’ll start doing more.” And really, all that thinking did was keep me in an obsessive little bubble. I feel like I’ve been so consumed by the worry of instability that I’ve robbed myself of time. I’ve robbed two years from myself. Two years of living in a new, exciting country, two years where I could have been doing more. Could have been living more.
Basically, I’m getting a bit sick of my own shit. I know depression is difficult to fight, and it manifests in so many different ways that you feel like you’re fighting a 60-front war, but I’m so tired of it. I’m tired of not being in control. I want more. I need more.
And that’s it. I’m sick of it. I want things to be better. I may wake up tomorrow morning hating myself again, and I don’t want to jinx it, but I’ve been taking more and more baby steps to getting my shit back together, and I feel good. Empowered, if I want to use my therapist’s language. It means working hard. And working hard when all I want to do is NOT work hard. Which admittedly, will be the hardest part.
I want to thrive again. I want to make up for lost time and make the rest of this year count.
Happy October, everyone!
And lo, it was a beautiful month of no work and very little responsibility, but my time as a housewife finally came to an end. Woe is me.
I wish it could have lasted longer, but them’s the bricks sometimes. And having any time off at all is nothing to piss and moan about. And I can’t adequately put into words how close I was to losing every ounce of my rapidly fraying shit, so I’m so thankful I got the break I did, and that I was able to find something new pretty quick.
And last Monday, I started a new gig. And last Sunday night, I wrote in my journal a list of habits I started during my time off that I was going to keep up now that I was working again – because I felt really positive and charged after my mental health break, and even though I was nervous about starting a new job, I felt good about keeping up this Awesome Person I was tricking myself into being.
What I had planned to keep going: 20 minutes of free writing every day, hand journaling at the end of every night, 2 blogs, go to a new writer’s group, read my book on the way to work, keep the apartment clean, and no watching trash tv.
What actually happened: radio silence. No writing, no journaling, no blogs, blew off writer’s group and felt insanely guilty, read Facebook on the way to work, destroying every square surface of the apartment and blanketing the bedroom floor with all the shoes and all the clothes both clean and dirty, watching all the trash TV and crying at everything.
Alright, so I might not have been as productive as I thought I would be. I might have come home almost every night and taken a nap before getting out of my work clothes. And I might have woken up early to watch TV and convince myself to get dressed. And I might have come home one day in tears wondering if I’d made a horrible mistake and if I’d ever be happy again. And I might have had bad dreams and terrible sleep nearly every single night. And I might have left a bag full of sensitive information and my passport ON THE BUS and it might be lost forever, and I might have thrown an internal tantrum and watched Bojack the Horseman all night in silence while wrapped in a blanket. These things might have happened.
SO YEAH. I’m doing really well. That whole “I expect too much of myself and I should give myself reasonable goals” wave of clarity I had receded waaaay far back into the horizon, and I’m giving myself a fat face palm.
To my credit though, I did manage to shower almost every day. AND today I forced myself out of the house and out to a cafe where I did write the intro to the story I’m starting (without the help of my notes, which were written down in the awesome Action Book that was also in the bag of shit I left on the bus. UGH) – which is something I didn’t see coming, and something that gives me hope for the coming week. And I managed to deep clean the apartment while running in and out a PMS fueled festival of hormones and terror (and baked cookies – yum)
SO YEAH – bring it on this week. I have cookies and ice cream and an urge to write.
**ps. Bojack Horseman is the best show I’ve seen since Arrested Development. It’s goddamn brilliant.
This time off – how can I say it… was ab-so-fucking-lutely needed. These past few months I’ve been a bit tightly wound – like, tight enough to turn coal into diamonds – so having some time with no obligations has been glorious.
After my last day on Monday, I thought I’d feel more detached. But I felt like I was forgetting something, doing something wrong, moving back and forth trying to dodge an arrow but I wasn’t sure what direction it was coming from. It still felt like I was going to wake up and go to work in the morning, because I had to go in and get my personal stuff that I left (we went out on Friday, and on Monday I was at our warehouse, so I had to go back on Tuesday). I left the office with my bag and thought “there’s still so much for me to do.” and I was antsy about it all the way home. Later that night though, as I was in the middle of deep cleaning the apartment, I realised that I’m done. That I did all I could and now I’m done.
It took about three more days to stop jumping at every notification on my phone, and I’ve had some good news about new work that’s eased the “oh shit what do I do about money” panic, and now that a week has passed, I feel like I’ve finally decompressed. The house is clean, our bills are paid, the laundry is (almost) done, I’ve made (and subsequently eaten) a batch of awesome cookies, I’ve read half a book, got my hair cut, cleaned up the blog a bit, and tried to be a better functioning version of myself. I’d give myself a 80% success rate.
I do feel like I’ve finally exhaled. I didn’t realise how much I’d been holding my breath until I felt comfortable enough to let it all go. I’m still processing all that’s happened this year. I went to a pretty shitty place and I never want it to get that bad again – where I’m too scared to move, too scared to talk.
It’s easy to feel ok right now because I’m on holiday. I’m eating grapes and typing and listening to the hum of our washing machine. The most pressing question of my day is when I’ll take a shower. So I want to spend some time figuring out exactly what went wrong, and when it started to go downhill, so I can make sure it doesn’t go that far again.
Wish me luck…
Independence Day feels strange when you’re living in a country still tethered to the government your fore-fathers pulled the ultimate teenage angst card against. But everyone was super polite to me and wished me a Happy 4th of July and asked me what type of meat I was eating in celebration.
I celebrated by omitting the extra “u” in my emails, and replacing the “s” with “z” like a real patriot – because that’s the freedom that my afore mentioned fore-fathers truely fought for.
This year’s Independence Day was a tad more symbolic than usual, as I also celebrated by leaving my job. I came to the decision after a lot (like, a lot a lot) of consideration and thinking and planning and exhausting every option I could to make things better. But after some difficult months, and with the insights of therapy, it was apparent that I needed to make a change. I can’t keep living in a bubble of anxiety, torn between what I feel I should be doing, and what I need to be doing. It’s hard not to feel like I failed, since it was a glam job with a cool title, but I’m just reminding myself that it’s better to pull the rip cord than to crash into the ground.
So I’m taking some time to get my shit together, re-focus, and figure out how to do what I really want to do – write, entertain, and make a difference in people’s lives. Helping and entertaining people make me feel like I’m doing something worthwhile. Whenever I get a comment from a stranger that my blog made them laugh, or when someone says they like my work, it makes my life. I want to do that, all the time. I want to make that connection and give people a bit of respite from the daily grind. I know what it’s like, to read something that just makes me feel better, makes me want to hug the author, and I want to inspire that kind of feel goodery. I would say “I just want to touch people” but that probably puts me on some kind of FBI watch list*.
And so, I’m making my 816th pledge to get my shit together and work toward my actual life goal: writing. With every year that passes with excuse after excuse after excuse for not working toward my dream, I hate myself a little more. And I’m sick of the same old hating myself shtick. I want to find that writing inspiration I had back in January and then again in April and find a way to make it last.
It’s going to happen. This time, I feel it.