Category Archives: apocalypse

Accurate map is accurate, or, why are your riding your bike in the snow?

If you haven’t seen this tweeted revision of the Boston transit system yet, it’s pretty accurate right now.  People can’t get to work, kids can’t get to school on time, I had an epic three-hour commute the other morning that will be the subject of a Viking Saga someday, and the T, when it does run, breaks down with no warning.  People are starting to have to get back to Colonial roots, when we walked everywhere.   Everywhere.  I walked two miles in the snow the other week during work hours (it only took 45 minutes each way), it being easier to bring snowshoes into work for this meeting that to 1) take the T, 2) unpark my car and try to drive there or 3) try to get a cab and get stuck in traffic while at least being able to catch up on email on my phone.  Yep.  I snowshoed to a business meeting.  It was the best possible use of my time for something that couldn’t be rescheduled.

Everything is being rescheduled.

Not pictured in the above accurate map; none of the purple lines (AKA the Commuter Rail) work, the bus lines are curtailed as well, and if you try and drive anywhere, the snow piles are all 4+ feet high, 2 lanes are 1, 1 lane is a half a lane, the streets aren’t fully plowed (or get plowed once, before the lazy drivers take a week to shovel their cars out and then throw all the snow into the street, may their assignment in hell be to shovel neatly uphill forever), and there are BICYCLISTS who are RIDING THEIR BIKES IN THE SNOW who are then mad because they are RIDING THEIR BIKES IN SNOW and there isn’t room for them on the road IN THE SNOW with the cars.

At least the pedestrians on the road I can understand, since the sidewalks are only intermittently cleared, people have to walk places or wait for buses that never come, and pedestrians don’t weave in and out of the cars and thump your car when they pass and yell at you for being in their lane (what lane? there aren’t any lanes? it’s a three lane road that is currently a half a lane because of the SNOW!) and otherwise behave like someone I would definitely not offer a job to.

Not that that happened, at all, this week, when someone cut me off on Huntington Ave, slowed down long enough with their distinctive gear to shoot me the finger, then proceeded on their merry way, doing the same antisocial thing to two other drivers (car thumping included, property damage, what?) only to show up an hour later for a job interview with the same distinctive gear.

I know.  I am a petty, bourgeois middle-aged capitalist.  I did give him feedback about why he did not get the job, and said that it was based both on my observations of him being hyperaggressive and antisocial in traffic, as well as his aggressive flirting with a lesbian front desk worker who told him she wasn’t interested and he continued to act like the Fedora he was.

Still.  BIKES IN SNOW.  LOL, No.

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Actual phone call

Telemarketer: Hello, I am calling to talk to you about the wonderful benefits that solar panels can bring to your home…

Me, Voice as Dead as My Soul: It is blizzarding AGAIN here in Boston.

Telemarketer: I’ll call back some other time?

Me: Take us off of your list.  (Hangs up phone.  Trudges, once more, into the breach, to take up my shovel.  Some more.)

(I am not usually so abrupt with the telemarketing trade but THAT particular call…)

I like to keep my issues strong.

The temptation to be That Chick who just posts statuses on Facebook that are YouTube links to the Soundtrack of her Really Sad, Tragic Life is really strong these days, but I’m 37 and I like to hope I’m a little too old for that stuff, even if I do kvetch too much and need to trim my friends list of a few ex-boyfriends and high school people who seem to have contacted me simply because they have noticed that “Married” is not an active part of my profile– and also people who really no longer active parts of my life– for whatever reason.  I have a hard time letting go, though– I am nothing if not romantic and sentimental, idealizing my relationships with and expectations of people and hoping for better outcomes even as I pretend at being pragmatic and then being disappointed and bitter and keeping it all to myself only to explode– or implode depending on the mood of the week/day/minute.

(Except, yeah.  I’m just going to do it.  Most of the links here are my self-pity soundtrack.  Feel free to ignore them unless you’re looking for emo-dump songs.)

Still, though– I try to keep those posts to a minimum (for me and my blathering fingers) and I remember I have a blog.  So, I start to write a post.  It then devolves into something I hate– or more specifically, someone I hate, by which I mean me, and then I just let the thing linger in my hard drive while I stare at it and mull and just let the thoughts spiral– then go downstairs and bake something for work.

I figure it’s active, even as I know it’s full-on sublimation, thank you.  My compulsion to feed people, because I can’t just say “Thanks for putting up with my shit, for telling me to smile and telling me that I look pretty today, for telling me to breathe when I look stressed, for understanding implicitly and explicitly that I am horribly, horribly depressed about something that was my own damned decision.”  It’s a bed I’ve got to lie in and I’m thankful they don’t push me about it, tell me horrible-funny stories about their divorces, go drinking and dancing with me, and are as much misfits as me in their own special ways and so– baking– yeah.  I can do that, sometimes, and when I can’t, there’s always clementines or the Gluten-Free and Vegan baked goods aisle at the Whole Foods at the start of the plaza.  (People really like clementines, I have found.)  I may not eat the baked offerings myself– sweet things taste pretty disgusting after half a cookie unless it’s the store’s red velvet cheesecake, so bad for me but I eat it, regardless– but I can at least bake for somebody else and they can say mmm and aah and I can feel loved, at least for a bit.

The fact is, I feel like crap.  I feel physically crappy, exhausted from work because it’s physically tiring, arthritic because of the change in seasons and the lack of fat padding/weight loss (as well as because I’m being really self-sabotaging and not taking all my supplements and anti-inflammatories, nor am I eating right and avoiding all the gluten I should, even though my wheat intolerance really does seem to be blossoming into full-blown Celiac, complete with nausea after a wheat-containing meal)– and just when the store rebuild seems like it’s done our DM has one more idea (and there’s more to be done after Christmas) and of course, I’m relatively new at my job, so I screw things up.

I hate, hate, hate that I’m not doing things right.  Hate it.  Hate me.  Hate everyone, really.  I cannot describe the depths of loathing and nausea and anxiety dreams I have about a store that is at the same time my happiest place.  I’m used to being the Smartest Girl in the Room.  We’re too busy (like, 10-20% over planned business and understaffed most days busy) for my co-managers to explain things to me and I feel stupid and useless and I get resentful and we don’t always have the best groups of personalities working together even as I really do like all my co-managers– but … a thousand times but.  Everyone’s human, everyone’s stressed, I’ve got extra issues on my plate that I bring  in with me, and I’m hair-triggered to want to curl into a ball and just … slit my wrists or take all my medication at night because I set up an endcap the wrong way or someone moved my cheese mission table to a different part of the store.

I feel badly that I will occasionally go off and work on a project and pout in my way and bitch about whoever’s “earned” my wrath du jour, but that doesn’t stop me from doing it in the moment, from needing to do it– teary-eyed, usually still pretty productive, inclined to be brusque and slam things, and as my co-worker said in effect yesterday, “I can always tell when you’re upset, you stomp really loud.”  I demurred in my way, made some crack about being Stampy the Elephant reincarnate (doesn’t it all come back to the Simpsons, that or Monty Python?) but– that didn’t stop him from making jazz hands and trying to get me to smile on the way out, he who’s even more of a grump than I am.  That there’s a Frank Sinatra CD on constant replay in the store that’s full of songs my husband used to sing to me and at some point, the singing, it stopped and I never asked why until later, too late– well.  It hasn’t helped.  (What? Me?  Make teary-eyed retreats to Receiving every time “Fly Me to the Moon” or “Come Fly With Me” comes on to break down some boxes or hurl something into the dumpster out back?  I don’t know what you’re talking about.)

I know that I’m really fooling no one.  Everyone, from the co-workers I don’t get along with to the ones I go drinking and dancing with, all know exactly how messy and graceless my heart is.  They’re just kind enough to play along because everyone there, they’ve got some kind of story, you just don’t always know what it is.  The store is full of people who get up and come into work and are on second careers or on “I never finished college” or “I’m taking a break from X” kind of trajectories (career pauses? ask me about being a lawyer, really!)– we don’t ask, we let each other tell.  I try to give thanks and praise for jobs well done (or hell, even completed, it’s one more thing off my list) if I can stop long enough to take a breath (and sadly, my friend who used to tell me to breathe got promoted out of the store and now I’m feeling doleful because I have to remember that, too.)  We try not to be too hard on people who show up five minutes late and sometimes flake on their shifts so long as they perform when they’re here and they’re trying, goddamnit.  Sometimes I feel like we’re the last Isle of Misfit Toys and if we can’t be kind to each other among the inter-familial snarling and sniping brought on by dumb customers and Just Too Much Work, then there isn’t any safe place.  I have other friends, outside of work, who have also been wonderful– real rocks, but I don’t see them every day.  I need to remind myself to reach out more but damnit, every effort’s hard, like slogging through cement.  (And yeah, every teardrop’s a waterfall, too.)

I know I’m depressed.  I upped my meds so the passive-to-active like a turbo-charged racecar suicidality would regress a bit but… that done, I still feel lots of sadness, regret, self-loathing, doubt.  All of that shit.  Anger– at me, my husband, every stupid customer who can’t write the name of a book down or keep their toddlers from hurling toys or just watch where they’re going, much less stop offering to hold my food while I’m on break so I can go fetch them a book rather than wait the two minutes it’ll take for someone to help at customer service.  It’s the usual short temper  (exacerbated on occasion with a little manic-depressive rage, but hey, I’ve got pills I carry for that) of someone who’s terribly lonely when it’s her own doing and she doesn’t feel like making her bed anymore.  (Or of doing much anymore, frankly.  My therapist asked me what expectations I had of my meds, of other people, of hopes for the future… I had to answer– “Not much.”  Still, I do try to get out, make plans, try not to go to bed before 9, and sometimes, I even have fun.  I understand the concept of Faking It Until You Make It, Smile Like You Mean It, all that Oprah-esque shit that still holds some water.)

I was talking to my husband the other night after a party I decided I would try to go to– I lasted ten minutes, right until someone asked me how/where he was, and then I had a panic attack as I answered that he and I were no longer together.  I always tell people that we both had changed and weren’t able to find a way to reconcile those changes– when I called him like the stupid hysterical melodramatic Movie Cliche that I am prone to being these days (in the car, on the drive home, no less) and asked him how he handled those questions, he said he usually took the blame.

It made me feel awful, even more awful than I usually feel, because as much as there are days when, if we ran into each other on the street (and I felt even more awful when he said he’d seen me driving and I hadn’t seen him, as wrapped up in getting to where I was going as I had been), I’d throw hard objects right at his head because I am so fucking lonely and exhausted right now and just want someone to give me that ridiculous, unobtainable Unconditional Love (oh, and on-demand cuddling and footrubs and an adorable cat and lots of backrubs and sex and a sack of unmarked thousands while we’re at it) and be psychic and know all the things that I am still incapable of articulating (this writing, it’s easier than the talking, almost always, except when I can’t even write, but still, even then)… the fact is, I really do believe what I said, which is that we both changed and that we couldn’t make it work out once we started really talking– something that took us too long to do, for reasons so complicated that the Gordian Knot’s a cakewalk, even without that pansy sword shit.

I don’t want to just be ok (though that would be nice).

I want to feel silly, stupid, ridiculous goofy love and not have to have the bittersweet worry and wonder I know now by heart.  I don’t want to wonder if we’re going to stay together until we die.  I want to let myself have romantic faith in my partner, learn what that might mean.  I don’t want to look at or unpack the sentimental things I almost randomly chose when I moved (and I’m still mooning over the things I miss but that I left behind for my husband, since I was too choked up at the time to ask what he might want, since I was afraid that the answer was All or Nothing, nor did I want to be That Evil Bitch who took everything), nor do I want to feel this dumb and maudlin and swoony forever.  I have to look away from the pictures my Dad has of us up in the halls because I’m not ready to ask him to take them down, even when this was my choice– I would still rather be alone than pretend that everything’s alright.  I’m scared as hell– I may never figure it all emotionally out, may never get my financial feet under me ever again, may be a retail wage slave forever.  I feel hopeless and hapless and stupid most of the time, and I know no one said it would be easy, but I didn’t know it was going to be open-heart surgery without anesthesia every day, either.

I look in the mirror (when I look in the mirror at all because I don’t like to, because I don’t know what I see there, morphologically, emotionally, all of that shit) and I never know the answer to “What are you doing?”  I don’t know when I will know.

I know fully well I am flawed.  Broken, even, maybe beyond repair for the sake of being with anyone, much less my husband.  We thrashed through to a point where it became clear that the things that I think that I need are things that he just can’t do, not and be who he needs to be.  That isn’t an issue of fault, whether he believes it or not, even if it is an issue of both of our flaws and not being able to make them mesh any more.

I know I am fragile, prone to hair-triggered reactions, that I can’t take criticism at all because of the way my Dad rarely had a nice thing to say when I was a kid, that I can’t accept people taking or offering to care of me because my mother’s narcissism made all her caretaking attempts about her and therefore inherently useless and suspect, that I avoid confrontation and would rather cut off a limb than get into a fight with someone I love because of the way my parents fought (unless I’m in a real or imagined position of power and then, ooh, watch out for my mighty powers of condescension).

I know that my need to try to be perfect and my need to make things perfect and to avoid being seen as the flawed, occasionally really crazy and often lacking-insight-into-my-feelings person that I really am contributed to the way my marriage fell apart– I know that I take on too much over and over until I just crash, my responsibility and nurturing kinks crashing right into my resentment over having to “always” be the one to take care of myself and everyone else.  I want someone to just psychically know the things that I need– I don’t want to ask, because my emotional history “tells” me that even if I asked (and understated the need for help, more than likely, because years of not getting help has trained me to only ask for a little help and do the rest on my own…) I wouldn’t likely get a response.

But the fact is– still remains– that I really don’t feel like it’s his fault.  It’s ours.  Just like our marriage was ours.  (And yes, he knows about this blog.  He might read this, though there are times in the past where he treated this blog and earlier versions as “private” to me, one of many differences in our understanding of one another that we couldn’t resolve.)  There were a million things I could have done differently if I had been wiser, braver, bolder, known myself better at a younger, saner, something-er point in our marriage.

But we don’t get do-overs or slingshots around the sun or Tardises, do we?  Just regrets about fights, confrontations, fuck-yous, fuller-soul searching I could’ve, should’ve done at some earlier point before I thrashed my way through to a realization that I didn’t feel like me any more, just some fake, plastic, worn-out version of a simulacrum wife that had to get out or she’d lose whatever vestige of herself was left and try to either find some old joy or make some new version– and in the meantime, trying to work it through with my husband once he agreed there was something to work on and half the time feeling enraged for his reactions/inactions during the process and half the time feeling like I was the villain and putting him through torture. He said as much– therapy wasn’t his thing, the talking cure was like bamboo under his nails, and I regret like hell that it took me so long to figure out how unhappy I was and that I couldn’t make it any cleaner than it was, though who knows if it’s ever possible to be clean about these kind of things?  Anyone who had a heart would turn around and break it, it turns out, even as I’ve got him deep in the heart of me and any attempt to move on would be a disaster even if that was something I wanted right now.  I don’t know what I want anymore.  I only know what didn’t work anymore, and that we couldn’t agree on anything else.

It was all I could/can still sometimes think about, cry about, rage about– and my urge to confess to everyone all the time was something I squashed except to a few friends because how tedious, really, how fucking pathetic.  I also hate/d being the recipient of the looks of pity, frankly, preferred the looks of interest from people who only saw my whittling waistline (they didn’t know I wasn’t eating because I wasn’t taking care of myself and my mood stabilizers make me anorexic, yet at the same time was so relieved when some friends expressed concern and asked if I was okay) and the haircut I halfway got because my husband said not to get it and fuck him, I’d cut my hair if I wanted and I’d enjoy the Gaze I would get at work and soak up the compliments/flirting and dress up for my co-workers until it became uncomfortable and I felt awkward because– yeah.  I don’t know what to do with this body because nobody’s done anything with it in so long, including myself.  I hate it– me– more than a lot.

I left when I did in large part because I wanted to go before I started to feel something like hate for my husband.  I wanted to leave while I still felt love– compassion– only occasional anger– for him and all of our problems.  So far, I’ve been lucky that that’s been the case.  Whether it makes a difference to anybody but me– to his family, to the adorable nephew I no longer see– well.  It’s my problem, really, but hey.  Most of them are.

So for now, every day– I’ll take my meds.  Comb my hair.  Eat my breakfast.  Go off to work.  Know this is changing me.  And hope that it will save me.  I would take back hurts to my husband and his family that I’ve caused by accident or on purpose because I do love my husband– miss him– still care.  It’s so easy to remember how we started as very good– really, best friends– and how we’ve laughed over the years, but as for the rest– I’ve got to learn to stop beating my dead emotional horses, even as they feel like wild ones that want to stampede me or make me swim until I can’t see land.  And maybe, just maybe, one of these days, I’ll get it all figured out.

GiST, inadvertent revelations department

(TL;DR subtitle, how She Curmudgeon’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day turned into a Movie Cliche Moment of Self-Realization.  Also, abuse of ALL-CAPS and strikethrough alert.)

It’s rare I have two days off in a row– before my promotion I was full time and now I’m even fuller-time, such that balancing out all the people who can do all my job duties is one of those things that rests on the back of a turtle that rests on the back of an elephant that rests on the back of… well.  At some point it turns into turtles all the way down, but suffice it to say it’s a blue moon in June and all of that jazz.  So usually we manager-type people get a weekday and a weekend-ish type day off during a week, but rarely two together unless we’re on vacation or it’s a special request.  Very precarious turtles, you know.

Accordingly, my chances for accomplishing All Of The Things and winning my Fully-Adult Award Forever and Ever, Amen are limited to one weekday per week.  It makes things a little bit hectic, since one of the things I need to accomplish is the necessary headshrinking at the tune of about twice a week around my work schedule to keep myself in sufficient countenance to not go all ninja on some entitled customer (or bookseller, hey, sometimes it happens) or just curl up in a corner and die– or even try to act on those thoughts because BAD THOUGHTS ABOUT HARMING OTHERS AND MORE LIKELY, ME .  I SOMETIMES HAVE THEM.  It’s just part of my daily mental checklist and mostly not an issue, but yeah.  Lately?  Stressed.  And by lately, I mean off and on pretty much for two years, ever since I stopped being a lawyer and really dug that I had to stop repressing shit because I was in a glass cage of emotion and suffocating myself.  (I’m not really trying to make light of the situation here, just moving the story along, because those of you who’ve read here are already down with what’s going on, and this whole setup does have a point.)

So.  My own therapy two times a week, marriage counseling on top of that until it didn’t make sense any longer and all of the mutually fraught emotions and conversations and frustrations and work that went into that decision, work, life, getting out of bed every day and (on my part) checking off the “DON’T TAKE ALL YOUR PILLS TODAY” item.  Yeah.  Some days that item’s higher up the list, some days it’s lower, and then packing, moving out, packing the rest of my stuff, getting promoted and learning on the job, moving everything else, really, seriously working hard on the self worth piece and shoving that “TAKE ALL OF THE PILLS, TAKE THEM NOW,” bit down, sometimes a lot during the day and with just one or two of the little yellow anti-anxiety pills, and very carefully putting the rest back in the bottle… and as I mentioned in an earlier post, once even bothering my poor husband at work via G-Chat because my therapist was on vacation, my psychiatrist had pneumonia, and I was having such a shit day and couldn’t reach anyone else that I had to bug him to ask him to help me check that one item off so I wouldn’t do anything about it besides put it down and away and get on with getting along, even though I felt wretched.

Today was one of my days off, and one of those ACCOMPLISH ALL OF THE THINGS days.  I needed to open a bank account of my own, get some jewelry repaired, see both my shrink and my therapist, do some random errands at the pharmacist’s shop, deal with the bollixed-up mail forwarding order, and then, after supper, I was supposed to meet up with friends for a record release party for a band one of our bookstore friends drums in.  The show and party was long-planned, though of course I’d taken herding-cats point and been playing Our Lovely Cruise Director  trying to get people together and have supper beforehand, as is my wont.  I like to see friends, so I tend to  get bossy because I am an Adult Child with a Complex I’ll be working on it seems like, IDK, MAYBE FOREVER? take responsibility for getting things organized, and then I get exhausted and don’t have a good time when I’m there.  So this morning, I:

  • scheduled the car for expensive repairs and quashed the panic about how to pay
  • called the post office abut the wtf mail situation
  • responded to some way-overdue emails including trying to schedule meetups with friends
  • got a call from a friend who was sounding … not her usual self.

Cue screeching halt.  She’s been fantastic throughout this process of mine and is the most thoughtful person I know while also having the most wonderful, off-color sense of humor, so of course I could meet her to talk and get her out of the house.  We did, and I hope that I made her feel a little bit better… and then I:

  • saw the therapist across town
  • saw the shrink just up the street from the therapist
  • put in two more mail forwarding orders not that far from the shrink’s, because post office hours are weird and I was worried the one back home would be closed by the time I got there
  • drove back home in the ZOMG HOLY SHIT WHERE DID THIS RAIN COME FROM WAIT WAS THAT A FROG OR A LOCUST ON MY WINDSHIELD rainstorm to open my bank account,
  • realized as I sat in traffic in the pouring rain on Storrow Drive (aka, the slowest commuter road EVER) as everyone around me drove like even more crazy Massholes than I did that there was no way if I made it to the bank on time that there was any way I could go out to dinner even if I heard back from one of the people I hadn’t yet heard from about where we were going to go and OH MY GOD WHY COULDN’T PEOPLE BE AS ANAL AS I WAS ABOUT RESPONDING TO EMAIL, much less stay up for the show, because I had to be at work at 8AM and the band wasn’t going on until 10.  You see, I’d just spent three straight hours crying my eyes out about variants on … stuff to my psychiatrist and my therapist and I was a BEAT, DEAD-TIRED, EXHAUSTED, PUSHING UP DAISIES, EX-PARROT of a She Curmudgeon and now I was crying to Death Cab for Cutie’s “You Are  Tourist” again, even though it’s been almost a week and a half since that stupid song set me off all weepy and shit.

Gah.

Once again I had failed at being an adult and had over-committed by trying to do all the things.  But there was no way I was driving back into Boston after going to the bank, and goddamnit but I was going to get to the bank because it’s been weeks since I moved and a gal needs to get on with this stuff as much as it sucks for everybody concerned and I don’t want to pretend that the loss of my paltry pay won’t impact my husband, either.  But still.  Life has to go on, it’s just one of those things I’ve decided.  (Remember?  I have a daily mental checklist.)  So I called my lovely friends and bailed like I was on a Titanic lifeboat.

The one I reached and didn’t have to leave a voicemail was lovely about it and even put her cat on the phone to cheer me up.  (Awesome.  He danced, I am told.)  (The one I didn’t reach sent me a hilarious series of texts, like she usually does, and was understanding as always, thus proving I am a stupid moron who has overly negative thoughts about her self-worth and people won’t hate her if she cancels plans every once in a whileI have awesome friends.)  I got the bank account opened as well as the jewelry dropped off for repair.  But the pharmacy was in the midst of IDEFK what– store restocking? revamping?  WTF-ever and it was so soul-crushingly disorganized that when the first thing I looked for was all open and tossed-over looking I just bailed and came home and then promptly threw up, not a usual anxiety reaction of mine, so maybe I’m coming down with something as well.

Double gah.  I FB’d the band-friend and said I was sorry I missed the show and didn’t include TMI about how I wanted to go because I feel in not-too-deep-below-the-surface parts of myself like I’ve already missed a lot of “fun”, whatever that is, and this would have been that if I could have faked it until I made it but sometimes, that’s bullshit, then set about dinner, because wielding knives is my happy place frying bacon and leeks for crustless quiche is always relaxing.  I had supper with Dad (who snarfed that quiche LIKE A BOSS) and decided I would unpack more books.  I of course sliced my knuckle at one point with the knife and bled all over my dark maroon sheets, so that was ok since the stain won’t show up (oh my gosh, I hate laundry)– just the bandaging part was a pain because my Dad, see, HIS BANDAIDS ARE AS OLD AS I AM and it took me about 20 minutes to find a bandaid with any working adhesive.  Guess the Rite-Aid gets the last laugh.

AND THEN I COULDN’T FIND THE KNIFE when I got back to my room.

Back, meet last straw.  There were prickles.  There were sweats.  There were near-hives.  Because HOW COULD I GO TO BED IF I COULD NOT FIND THE KNIFE?  I COULDN’T SLEEP WITH A SHARP KNIFE IN THE BED!  (AND.  AND.  AND.  I’d just stopped taking so many of the lovely little yellow pills, too.  Underweight + too many yellow pills = rebound mood swings + disturbed sleep + addiction = REALLY NOT GOOD after two weeks or so, so I’m back on my regular dose and hyperventilating about the damned knife and thinking I CAN’T TAKE A CHILL PILL, I’M TAPERING TO MY REGULAR DOSAGE, JUST,  FUCK.)

Somehow, I stepped away from the bed and the place where I’d been blankly just staring as I got ready to pat the bed down.  With my hands.  For the knife I’d just cut myself with.

As soon as I did, I caught a glimpse of the knife, because I was now standing in a different place.  And I realized, in a way that because less and less inchoate as I put my hands on the handle and got the stupid thing off the bed, thus effectively ending a day that should have had a half-dozen less things in it to start with–

It’s okay to back away from the things that will hurt you if you can’t get a handle on them.  You can always try later and see if  you can get at them from a different angle.

It just so happened that the “later” tonight with the knife handle happened to be within the same minute.  I’ll reschedule the get-togethers with the friends a different day.  And everything else?  I will allow myself to take a step back.  Breathe.  And then try again.  Later.

Guys?  I think we’ve I’ve learned something today.  And in enough time to get a decent bedtime to boot.

Hell, at this rate, by the time I’m 40, I might be half-way to making it most of the way through my to-do lists without breaking into a flop-sweat or telling myself I’m a worthless person because I didn’t get everything done.  My goodness– I might even learn to make smaller to-do lists, and get everything done, with time over for fun!  (I know.  Let’s not push it…)

Oh, look, I could have also subtitled this USE ALL OF THE TAGS.

Salt wash

I’ve done a lot of crying in a lot of different places over the last couple of days– weeks– months– year.  I’m sick of it, and yet I know it’s not done, not by a long shot, and as embarrassed as I am by the process of it, I’ve long since let go of trying to hold back on the actual crying because the longer I hold things in, the worse it’s going to be when I let it go.  There’s lots of reasons at any particular moment that I might cry– some song that played at my wedding, the tagline to a joke that used to be “ours,” just too much time spent in my head, some asshole cutting me off when I’ve just had a really long day.  You know, the usual myriad suspects, the regrets for what has been lost even as I know there’s nothing to salvage, that and just general exhaustion.

A lot of the crying has been done in my car, precisely because it’s private and the half-hour/forty minutes of driving lets me put on some songs that are cathartic and force me to cry when I’m feeling too numb to do anything but make myself react to whatever song I think I need to drive out some emotion so I don’t freak out the rest of the day.  (And yet, I know that I need it, and that if I’m unable to do it spontaneously, at least I can cry somehow, which is at least saying something.  If I have to let Death Cab or R.E.M. or Ingrid Michaelson or the emo music du jour do the talking for me, well, they do say it well.)  And if someone in the next lane looks over at me and sees me weeping– hell, sobbing outright at times– as I drive, well, it’s one of the lesser peculiar things one can see while one drives, and who hasn’t seen that chick in that movie before, even as I am sick of playing this role?  Sometimes that quiet time alone in the car as it moves or at the end of the workday is the only quiet time that I have, alone with my thoughts before the next whatever thing I have to move on to– errands, doctor’s appointments, marriage counseling, hah– and those four small walls feel like my only real home, that and the big red tote bag of CDs.  (I really ought to get an iPod one of these days, but what can I say?  Other things take priority, like a new apartment.)

The crying in the bedroom alone– that is worse.  Bedrooms are meant to be shared physically and emotionally, and mine just hasn’t been in the matters that count– no matter how we’ve disagreed about issues of presence, desire, goals, consolation, empathy, all of that jive.  Yet again, we’ve all seen that movie before.  But it still shreds my heart to have to be in that movie, whether or not I’m that horrid cliche, that wife who feels abandoned by that “I’ve just gotten older, I don’t want those things any more” but still-loving, still doesn’t get it husband.  Still-loving, but not in the ways that matter, not in the ways that make him more than a friend and a roommate, ways that make him an intimate, a husband, a lifelong companion.

I cry very occasionally in the cash room at work, where there’s a door that closes– I sit on the step stool and give myself five minutes or so, then go back to work.  If any of the six plus other people with the alarm key come in while I’m in the middle, well, there are worse things, and they all know most of the story.

My temper is short, something I don’t like, and it makes me tempermental with co-workers and friends– I walk away a lot more from things, bite my tongue more, go off by myself because I am so full of rage and mixed-up anguish and suicidal depression that I refuse to do something about besides take another damned anxiety pill after I’ve already been bitchy or snappish, and I’m tired of overmedicating myself and of people cutting me slack because I’m having a hard time.  I want to be done having a hard time, and just get on with the part where I have less of a hard time.  I would even settle for boring.

I really cried once during this past weekend spent with dear friends, heaving into the bathtub– hiccuping drunk sobs and whimpers in between expulsions of too much whiskey, a drink I’ll drink again in the future.  It was just enough on that particular night, when it all catches up right away and I go from not drunk enough to I-need-the-bathroom-right-now, the truly pathetic tears that I’ll only let myself do once because I had those particular, wonderful friends available who let me abuse their goodwill and friendship, and because that kind of crying is also a kind of catharsis, as twisted and sick as it seems.  The death of this marriage has been a slow poison, an inner wail of “why doesn’t he love me enough to try,” coupled with “why am I/is my bipolar so scary that he doesn’t want to?”  I have been convinced that no matter how much I tried and how many times I explained, there was more I could do, some other way I could say it, some more more more more I should be doing when the whole time, the more rational angel on my opposite shoulder was reminding me of the Webster’s book of cliches: two to tango, horses to water, seeing change versus wanting it, all of that stuff.  But I needed to literally expel all those poisonous thoughts and while drinking in order to make that happen isn’t something that I make a regular habit, sometimes alcohol really is the cure for what ails you.

I cry in public places and on the train all the time.  I don’t particularly feel the need for people to ask me if I’m okay, though if they ask me I’ll thank them.  But sometimes I just need to cry at that moment, and there’s no better, more private place.  I am less concerned with issues of public decorum that I used to be, I guess, and in any event, I don’t see whom I’m hurting so long as I’m not heaving big snotty sobs and seizing some poor stranger’s jacket and wailing into their jacket.  If I come supplied with my own Kleenex and keep to myself as I proceed to cry my heart out– I’m where I need to be, and I’m letting it out.  If I need help, I’ll ask you.  And in the meantime– thank you for letting me cry, and giving me the privacy of (if not pretending like you can’t see it happening) letting me let my heart break again as it needs to while I get on with my day.  The boring part– laughing can wait for a bit, since I think it’ll happen, sooner or later.  Or at least that’s what I hope.

Smiling through Christmas in June (and other off seasons)

Some days (rainy days and Sundays, they always get me down pump up the sales volume), they roll up the cranky busloads in thousands, and there’s nothing at all you can do but grit your teeth and forbear the waves of stupid questions, nosy questions, bad flirting, even more bad flirting even after you say sorry-not-interested-no-it’s-none-of-their-business-if-you’re-single-or-not, and then there’s the people interrupting you while you’re carrying your food back to the break room or a till full of money and they offer to hold it for you while you go get them their book.

On those days, all you can do is smile and tell them you’ll call for more help at customer service or say you can’t hand over the till and/or you’re sorry, but you’re on your break  and you’re sure they wouldn’t want you to violate state wage and hour laws; or it’s always bad when your competitor goes out of business and you feel sorry for the folks soon to be unemployed ten miles up the road whose big box is closing their doors; you smile whether or not the customer’s got a sneer on their face and keeps sneering at you about the cost of your store’s membership fee; they hate emails cluttering up their inbox; they interrupt you before you can get out all the questions you’re required to ask and are too busy talking on their phones to notice you’ve handed them back their cards and their receipts…

The fact is, I’m not holding a gun to your head to make you shop here versus the other chain that’s closing lots of stores or our website, which yes, does have cheaper prices but no, doesn’t have a search engine query for “Blue Book With a Dog On It” (i.e. this one).  Don’t buy the membership if you don’t want it, really, I just have to ask, but please, stop ranting at me about how “evil” (I truly quote) my company is to charge for the privilege of an annual discount for volume book buyers (if you can’t do the math, don’t buy the card, it’s that easy, I promise), when lots of other people do like the program and when I can see perfectly well from your wallet that you paid to join BJ’s.

Just move on and get out of my line, and also your coupon’s expired, so no, I’m not going to apply it because guess what, I can read and I’m not a moron, and yes, I gave you your credit card back because contrary to your opinion, most people aren’t thieves and you might not remember, but you just offered to hold my till full of money twenty minutes ago because you couldn’t wait two more minutes for the one person in line ahead of you at the desk to be done and I’m sure you never would have even lifted the lid even once when I was off looking for that Twilight book you just bought.

Thank goodness for macros.  And to bookseller friend L., who showed me the site in the first place.  Because too many customers think they are Courage Wolf:

(I know.  Two bookstore posts in a row.  Geez, you’d think I worked there full time or something ridiculous like that.  : ) )