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Brain soup for the soul

2 Aug

I’ve been quiet lately. I don’t mean to be. I don’t like it either.

But things have been happening, all of it out of my control. Some of it has to do with me, some of it doesn’t but because it’s what I seem to do best, you’d better believe I’ve been stressing out over the fact that there’s nothing I can do will make any of it better.

There are a lot of FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS wrapped up in all of this (like the fact that I’m having to replace my car after my brother rammed into it last week and having the worst frigging time doing it. Guess who can’t afford this shit right now? THIS girl). There are also some big things and some very sad things, like the news that came this morning that a family member died last night. It wasn’t entirely unexpected but at the same time we had all been so damn hopeful.

I’ve been doing a lot of listening to others lately and as disheartened as I’ve become by what I’ve been hearing, I’m doing my best to let it all provide perspective. It’s not just me that’s going through hard times, everyone is. And to be honest, it’s starting to feel like we’ve all been going through hard times for a long time now. So I find myself sitting back and staring into nothing for longer than I’m comfortable admitting and wondering if this is it and if I’ve been deluding myself into thinking that there’s some pinnacle of happiness that we’re supposed to be working towards when really this is all we can really hope for.

Of course, now that I’m writing it out like this I’m realizing that I never did believe in that magical state of perfect bliss so I’m not sure where that idea is coming from now. Life’s just a (hopefully) long, meandering joy ride down an old country road that is both pretty and wonderful but also bumpy and fraught with rough patches. You can get frustrated and drive like an idiot or you can be patient and not let the pot holes keep you from enjoying the view.

Or you can just compare life to an old school Super Mario game. Adventuring and good times but constantly having to stop and stomp on those effing Goombas along the way and the princess is ALWAYS in another goddamn castle (Field log: We need more mushrooms).

I have no idea what happened with those last few paragraphs.

Anyway, I’ve been throwing myself into my freelance projects to avoid dwelling on any one thing in particular and I’ve managed to be pretty productive which helps. I’ve actively been trying to say ‘thank you’ and ‘I’m sorry’ and just telling people how much I appreciate them more often and that helps too. I’ve also decided to stop running from things as much and to try and recognize just how beautiful everything is when I stop angsting over ever stupid hang-up. All of this has been helping little by little.

This posts sounds so melodramatic and I believe me when I say that’s not what I was going for. Really I’m just tired and running low on words right now (I know this post seems to beg to differ but seriously, how much of what I’ve written actually makes sense? Exactly). I’m working myself up to something cool though, I promise you that. I just need to re-group a little first.

Until then, I like this song. It makes me feel better too.

Thanks to each and every one of you who reads my blog and for your comments and your friendship. I’ve found such camaraderie since starting Almost, Maybe and I probably won’t ever be able to articulate just how much of a difference your love and support has meant to me. With great sincerity – Thank you.

Back where I started

11 Jun

About 4 months ago, Boyfriend and I were entertaining the notion of moving in together. Not necessarily because we were feeling like we were ready to take things to the next level; more like it just seemed like the most logical option. He wanted to move out of his dingy basement sublet to a place with better internet and I needed to move out of my parents’ place. We’d finally be able to see each other more regularly. It all seemed to fit pretty well (and in retrospect I’m sure it usually does for couples who are moving in together for the first time). We decided we’d rent a house, seeing as neither of us is ready for a mortgage. This way we’d have plenty of room for us and my dog and, just maybe, we could start feeling like adults.

We got as far as going to look at places. It didn’t take long for him to get cold feet, which then caused me to get cold feet and soon we were left standing there, shivering, wondering why we had ever though this was a good idea in the first place. He was hung up on money and job security and I didn’t want to move in with someone who was in doubt. We decided to wait.

Not a month later, Boyfriend had found a 2 bedroom apartment in a nice part of town with good internet and was planning on taking it. I was so hurt. I knew that while there was some truth to the money and job security concerns that was never the whole story. I was part of the problem too, although I wasn’t sure what part of “me” or “us” it was. It understandably caused some friction and more than a few angst-filled late-night conversations, but we eventually moved past it.

This is when I really started to crack down on making my own independence happen. I always knew it would eventually, but I was going to let it happen in its own good time. Now I was suddenly reformulating my budget and paying of debts in big chunks so that I could move on as freely as possible. It was the first time in well over a year that I really felt like I had some kind of control over my life. I crunched the numbers and I decided that I would be able to move out in August or September. I was elated.

Then, as my luck would always seem to have it, a new challenge was tossed in my way. I was informed that my trusty old car is on her last legs and might not make it to the end of the summer (and even if it does, I shouldn’t be taking it on any long trips aka most of my big summer plans. This is me finding myself relating to Kit’s epic college road trip in the Shitty Oldsmobile).

I realized that I could do both – replace my car and get a new place, but it would be really, REALLY tight. Like, absolutely NO room for error tight. I talked with Mom about it, I bounced ideas off of Boyfriend and I eventually let myself accept the fact that the apartment would have to wait.

If I can’t get to and from work, then I can’t make money and if I can’t make money then I can’t pay rent.

Priorities.

(This is where I start clicking my glittering heels together, taking deep, controlled breaths and telling myself that everything is going to be ok)

I knew it was the right decision, but I spent all day yesterday (that’s how fast this has all gone down. It was less than a week ago that I was celebrating my revelation of being two months away from freedom after all) agonizing over having to put that idyillic fantasy I had been living in back on the shelf. Me and my dog in a cute little bachelor pad. Workin’, playin’, chillin’. It had been so good while it lasted.

The terrible irony of the timing of all of this is that Boyfriend started moving into his new place yesterday. He’s been respectful of my mourning, not boasting about how wicked his new place is nor asking me to help him move. Still, I didn’t want to be the bitter girlfriend, so when I finally got home last night after such a long and mentally exhausting day, I sent him a text to ask how it was going.

We chatted back and forth and he told me it was going well and that the place is nice.

“I think Dexter is really going to like it.”

Dexter is the bloggers-anonymous name I’ve given my dog (yes, even my dog needs a fake name. People know him. He’s almost famous).

I paused.

“Uhh, he probably isn’t allowed in the building. Also? Why would I bring Dexter over?”

I think this might be a good time to mention that Dexter probably weighs as much as I do.

“I want you to start spending more time here,” he said. “I’m worried about you. I don’t want you going crazy because of what your family is going through. Spend your money on getting a good car. That should be your focus right now.”

I’m so glad that this conversation was happening via text message because this is where I started to cry.

On one hand, I was so relieved. He has always been good about letting me run away to his place when things get stressful but I’ve always felt guilty about having to abandon Dexter. This also might be a good time to mention that my dog is like my kid.

Now I not only have a place to go, but I can bring Dexter with me. And I can stay. I can stay as long as I need. And this might be exactly what Mom needs to help let me go – a slow weaning process instead of her having to lose me all at once.

But on the other hand, it’s almost like the worst thing ever. I was raised to be a strong and independent woman. Even before my dad left us, Mom taught me to never depend on a man. Relationships, and everything that comes with them, should be a partnership.

I don’t want to be taken care of and I’ve spent too long living under the roof of other people. I want a place that I can actually call my own for a change.

But the idea of a place where I can just be, even if just for a little while…

Now I’m tired. I’m tired because I was up half the night with this rolling around in my brain. I’m tired because I’ve been struggling to come to terms between my values and my personal well being.

I’m tired in life.

I’m tired and I have no idea where to go from here.

Uhg.

Weekend of blah blah blah

6 Jun

Saturday: Boyfriend and I took off to the big city to catch a baseball game. I turned off my phone and decided that I was just going to ENJOY MYSELF for a change. It was a little scary and there were definitely a few withdrawal tremors earlier in the day.

And you know what? We had a blast. We got matching sunburns, got drunk in the stands and watched my team kick ass. What was supposed to be a shitty day weather-wise wound up being perfect, we ate delicious food and when we got back home he decided he was sick of the fact that I am, as it turns out, terrible at baseball and took me outside to teach me how to swing a bat.

HIM: Bend your knees! Stick your ass out a little! C’mon!

ME: INAPPROPRIATE!

I’m still pretty awful but it was a lot of fun.

Sunday: Everything about today made up for how great yesterday was. I woke up to – surprise! – my family in a shitty mood.

Every time Dad opened his mouth it was to yell at one of us (“That cardboard box should be placed in the recycling vertically, not tossed in horizontally! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOUUUU?” – That is, sadly, almost verbatim. This, apparently, is all he is capable of. At the risk of sounding like some emo kid, I can’t really remember the last time he said something nice to me.

Mom decided to make me pay for the fact that I dared to taste freedom for a day by putting me to work despite the fact that I had scheduled the day for working on projects (that’s okay though. I mean, I’m in my 20s and living at home so how important could my freelance clients POSSIBLY be, right?). I understand that she’s stressed and that I have to pull my weight, especially given the circumstances, but I cannot get ANYTHING done. To illustrate said point, I’ve been called back downstairs to help her with ridiculous little things THREE times since I’ve started this post.

And Middle Brother, who is rarely to be seen on a weekend at the best of times (a double standard, if I may be so self-righteous as to point out) announced that he and his (on again, off again) girlfriend of 6 years(ish) have broken up for good. This being the third time this has happened, and what with the reasons for it being pretty solid, we all know it’s for the best. He’s taking it significantly better than the last time this happened, which was, as it turns out, almost exactly a year ago. Last summer he spent each day in tears and/or intoxicated so this year’s brooding is an upgrade to be sure.

Still, angst.

The best this to come of this day was the result of some desperate, family-related madness that had me sitting down and re-budgeting my life so I could figure out how to get out of here faster. I realized that if I started putting all excess funds (usually split between my credit card and savings) toward paying off said credit card (excluding extra income that I get from freelancing. That will continue to go towards beefing up my savings. Ha! Beefing.) I could have that sucker paid off by the end of next month.

This revelation made the rest of the day so much easier to take.

I feel so bad that the only time I seem to blog about my family is when I’m bitching about them. We’ve been through so much together and we are SO much closer than I make it sound. I swear we have our fun too, see?

She felt bad, I swear.

It’s not like I’m ungrateful for the fact that my parents took me back in, nor do I think for a second that my life will be easier once I’m on my own (Conservative estimates see me living below the poverty line).

It’s just that KNOW that I can’t do this anymore. I can’t deal with the rage and bitterness ALL THE TIME. I can’t deal with the blatant disregard for the importance of my work and the extra income it provides me with. I can’t deal with being scolded like a douchebaggy teenager for wanting to invest some time into my relationship. I can’t deal with being yelled at for forgetting to turn off a light or for getting frustrated when I’m always being expected to lend a hand when my brother is free to come and go as he pleases.

I’m tired. My heart hurts. I need to start standing on my own two feet without having to worry about this ALL THE TIME.

I need out.

So the question is this:

Am I justified? Or am I just selfish?

Because, sometimes? I’m just not sure.

This post is full of angst, way too personal and exceptionally ranty. You’ve been warned.

13 May

You know what’s awkward?

Crying in front of your boss. This is especially true when said boss also happens to be a dude. A dud-boss, if you will. I don’t know about you, but crying in front of anyone is pretty high on my list of most awkward things ever, but crying in front of a dude-boss makes for a particularly special kind of torture.

And what, I ask, is more awkward than crying in front of your dude-boss when you already hate crying in front of anyone in the first place? Crying in front of said dude-boss for the reasons I did today.

When it comes to the nadirs of life, there are two things I’m big on: 1) Fixing problems instead of riding them out (which sucks when the only thing that can fix a problem is to ride it out. Patience: Not a virtue I possess), and 2) Pretending things don’t bother me nearly as much as they do (which, if not stymied in some sort of healthy fashion can lead to, among other things, crying in front of people like my dude-boss). I like to think that this blog will be a good creative outlet for the latter but in the grand scheme of life I really just need to work on my fight-or-flight reactions to problems.

Life has been handing me lemons faster than I can make lemonade lately. Some of these problems are petty, some of them are serious. None of them are the end of the world and I KNOW that everything will work itself out in the end. But let’s be real here – who the fuck actually finds that little piece zen useful when they’re in the midst of personal angst? C’MON.

But anyway.

I think it was just too much at once and not enough venting. I was like a bottle of champagne bursting my cork (I love how inappropriate that sounds), minus the bubbly good times. I hate feeling helpless and feeling like I have no one to turn to, but that was where I was at. I just didn’t expect dude-boss to be the one who would get to hear my (literal) sob story.

I had a lot on my mind when dude-boss pulled me aside to tell me that he was disappointed in me for opting out of some office social event.

And that was it. I just started to cry. I started to cry like a fucking child and told HIM what was bothering me. I didn’t tell him all of it, but I told him more than I had told anyone else up until that point. And, how pathetic is that? How pathetic is it that I didn’t feel like I could tell anyone about this stuff, only to tell my dude-boss instead? Uhg.

I told him about my recession-ravaged parents and how my mom, who has worked so hard for so long, finally broke down and had to ask my brother and I for money just to get her and my dad through until the next payday because they had nothing left. I told him about how I just had to decimate my savings account in order to pay off some debt just so I could start getting ahead. As good as it feels to be rid of the burden, I am devastated at being right back to where I started after so much hard work. I would have to be totally helpless at the worst possible time.

I told him about the guilt I felt about wanting, needing, so desperately to move out on my own, both for my own sanity and to relieve some of the burden from my parents. But I can’t even afford a deposit on some shitty apartment now, and fuck if it doesn’t sting to know that I was so close to not even have to go that route in the first place.

I didn’t tell him about my ungrateful youngest brother and the horrible, hateful things he wrote to my mom, damning her and our family for not helping him more when they can’t even help themselves. I also didn’t tell him about my boyfriend, who had told me he wanted to move in together and got my hopes up and everything only to decide that he wasn’t financially ready for it. Two weeks later he told me that he was moving into a new, more expensive apartment and the beginning of next month. He told me this as if we had never talked about moving in together, as if I should be excited for him. I didn’t tell dude-boss these things, but I did tell him how horrible it feels to feel betrayed by people I thought I could rely on.

He told me I need to get some perspective. I told him I’m sick of getting fucking perspective. I get it – there are people in Nashville who have lost their homes to rampant floods, the ocean is being poisoned thanks to a bunch of greedy dipshit bastards and in the grand scheme of things, my problems aren’t that bad. But right now, they’re bad enough.

And then he told me to stop.

“You can’t help anyone if you can’t help yourself,” he said. “A starving man feeds no one.”

Have you ever noticed how, sometimes, you just need someone else to tell you what you’ve already been thinking before you can believe it? I’ve felt so unbelievably guilty about wanting (needing) to move out when my family is going through such a rough time. I felt like that would be fleeing when the real answer to the problem would be to fight.

Except that this is one fight that I’m just not cut out for. He is so, SO right about that. I just needed to hear it to be able to accept it.

Once I finished building a sculpture of snot-tissue on his conference table, he hugged me and made me go home. For all the shame and guilt I felt for having bawled my eyes out like that to someone like him, I also felt a lot better for the first time in a long time.

I apologize in advance for this post (My uterus made me do it)

12 May

There are few things in the world that will drag my ass out of bed in the middle of the night. Hunger, thirst, the desperate need to urinate – sleep trumps them all. Organs be damned, mama needs her shut-eye. And this is always true unless, of course, the offending organ happens to be my uterus.

In the years before I started taking birth control, my week of happy was, if nothing else, a painless one. No cramping and no murderous rage to speak of. In fact, my only complaint would have been, had I known any different, that my body always opted to take the 7 days that nature had allotted to do what it needed to do (sometimes more, never less). Whatever, I always thought, it was better than having a monthly appointment with the EXCRUCIATING PAIN that left so many of my peers bedridden (or at the very least, whiney and insufferable in their agony).

Well, it must have been all those years of pretending to ail from said EXCRUCIATING PAIN in order to get out of gym but man, let me tell you, since starting the pill I have joined the ranks of the whiney and insufferable. I’m like a god-damn animal in the days before I start now. If you even so much as breathe the wrong way I will CUT YOU WITH MY MIND. And the pain? Oh, the unbelievable pain that is my uterus shedding. Don’t a lot of women start this shit just to get rid of these symptoms? STORY OF MY LIFE, RIGHT THERE (Sort of).

There is something to be said for a naturally occurring pain so intense that it has the power to wrench me from my deepest of sleeps. Well, that was me last night. It’s kind of like when your alarm clock goes off but the sound just ends up getting incorporated into the fabric of the dream you’re having. And then, when you wake up? It’s exponentially worse. Today? I hate my life.

Still, at the same time, there is always a part of me that appreciates this time of the month. While my lady-friends praise the new fangled wonder drugs that will help to make those visits from Mother Nature a lot less frequent, I cling to my monthly house-call. It’s pretty much the equivalent to an “all clear!” call from a comrade on the battlefield.

What’s that? No babies? Ten-four!

So then I send my boyfriend a triumphant “Congrats on dodging premature parenthood for another month!” text and he responds with an obligatory, over-the-top expression of relief. Then we laugh loudly to shake off the lingering terror that even the most fleeting of prospects of accidental babies can bring.

Don’t get me wrong – we play safe. But as long as it works, I will continue to breed paranoia as long as it helps to prevent the breeding of anything else. After all, the last thing I want to do is turn out like Glee’s baby-mama-drama-llama, Quinn Fabray:

I firmly believe that Dianna Agron would make GREAT friends.

Okay, so the only similarity would be that we would both be young and knocked-up well before we were ready. But I like Quinn, so whatever, DEAL WITH IT. I also like Juno McGuff, so take your pick of cautionary whales.

This post has so much potential to segue into something poignant about being a card-carrying member of the generation of women that are opting to either wait to have kids or just not do it at all. Or maybe I could dive head-first in my delightfully opinionated stance proper sexual education or pre-marital sex. But honestly, I think I’ve done enough damage by gracing you all with the details of my menstrual cycle in the second post of this brand new blog.

You’re welcome.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go down a few more ibuprofen.

Oh this is a story all about how my life got flipped turned upside down…

11 May

Sort of. Except that I didn’t become the prince of some upper class neighbourhood at the end. Dammit.

If you had asked me 10 years ago what I thought my life would look like in my twenties, I probably would have rambled on some blather about working my (high-paying) dream job, living in some wicked pad and starting a family with Mr. Right. I probably would have been pretty confident about this too. And, really, why not? After all, I was a straight-A high school student who had everything going for her. I was going to go to a good university and study hard and do great things. And because I was raised to be a tough and independent young woman, I was going to be able to perform this circus-grade balancing act between being a kick-ass professional (doing what I wasn’t really sure. I figured it would come to me eventually) and being super mom AND wife and not take any shit off of anyone.

I, like so many of my peers, was raised to trust in this magical formula for success and to believe in the “good life” that following through with said formula would lead to.

How aghast would my younger self be if I could tell her what I know now?

I did study hard and I went to a great university. But that magical moment where I suddenly knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life never came. Instead of setting my sights on becoming a doctor or a lawyer, I studied what interested me, not what was going to get me the job. I spent some time overseas and realized that maybe, juuuust maybe, I was missing out on a great big world with a lot more to offer than I had ever thought.

Enter, Real Life.

Poverty and disenchantment in a post graduation world eventually led to the devastating break-up between me and the big city. My parents, bless their hearts, welcomed me back into the (much more rural) family home until I could get back on my feet. I was suddenly, and still am, a teenager all over again (angst included! In fact, possibly more so! Having your best laid plans dashed will do that I hear. Sorry, mom – it’s not you, it’s definitely me.).

And as for happily ever after with Mr. Right? Ha ha, yeah right.

I’m not down on love, I’m just not as convinced as I once was that latching on to a man is something I really need (I am seeing someone so it’s not like I’ve committed myself to cat-lady status yet). The institution of marriage has lost its sparkle as I realize more and more that it isn’t what most of us really want it to be. The tough and independent woman I was raised to be just doesn’t see the point in attaching myself to a man just because it’s what we’re supposed to do. And kids? I have a dog and that is all the selflessness I can muster (word to all you mothers out there; I don’t know how you do it).

So, here I am: In my twenties, living with my parents, no dream job, no house, and decidedly uninterested in traditional family life at present. My younger self would probably be hyperventilating at this point our little heart-to-heart

After handing her a paper bag, I’d tell said younger self not to worry so damn much. Truth be told, I probably wouldn’t change much of anything given the chance. I’m not where I thought I’d be by now (or even necessarily where I want to be for that matter). But is taking a little longer to sort your shit out worse than dedicating yourself to a career that you aren’t passionate about just for the money and getting roped into family-life before your ready?

And so, dear readers, I imagine that at this point some of you may find yourselves irritated at my babble, possibly swearing at your monitors with something akin to, “Whiny little bitch, who DOESN’T find themselves caught adrift in an ocean of never-ending existential crisis? Fuck this shit!” To which I reply with, “I know, right? Fuck this shit indeed”.

My situation isn’t unique. I know that I’m not the only one still feeling dazed, confused, and maybe even a little ripped off in the wake of this “real life” business. But admit it: it kind of helps to know that you aren’t the only one lost at sea in the same make-shift boat. The semi-directionless masses take comfort in their massy-ness as they lumber about in search of purpose and self-justification, amirite?

Anyway.

So, here I am, picking myself up and dusting myself off and hacking my way through the underbrush of the “off road of life”, carving out a new path. Sure, I’m a little more bitter that my sweet, unassuming younger self, but I’m determined gosh darn it. Plus? Bitterness also makes for snarky self reflection and witty social commentary. Blogging is fun!

See, aren’t you glad you came? We’re friends already!

Are you picking up what I’m putting down? Tell me your story. We’ll laugh about it in a few years anyway. Quarter-life angst! Ha!