The Blindfolded Heroine

“She’s always blindfolded, otherwise she wouldn’t do anything.”

Integrity.

A day where I realize the new deep.  I knew this realization was coming.  The actual gasping sense of realizing you are in way over your head and you do not know how to begin to survive.

I have a plan.  I have a plan I have asserted I will do.  To survive.  I’ve smiled and earnestly said yes, oh boy oh boy oh boy, I’ll work so hard for you.  And I’ve meant every oh and every boy.  But part of the plan is me figuring out how to let myself shift into an adult mode.  Into knowing, oh, no, that’s not acceptable when someone suggests a change or states a fact.  Into being the gatekeeper.  Into doing exactly what it is they’ve hired me to do.

One must sink or one must swim.  I always thought if I just lay still, I could just float, safely on my own, but there’s been enough of a breeze these days that my tiny allotment of clever inflatables is no match and, bam, I keep hitting the wall.

And that wouldn’t be so bad, except these fancy, high-tech walls are equipped with klaxons that ring like Operation anytime you fuck-up or are adjacent to any sort of fuck-up-yet-to-be.  And that wouldn’t be so bad except you ring the bell, word gets around.  Word gets around fast, if people aren’t already with their glasses at the tip of their nose, watching you.

I got asked today what was going well and was hard-pressed to think of anything, as I was so aware of the bad feedback and needing to correct it.  So desirous to be perfect, gleaming.  Spotless.  And it used to be that my perfectionism was painful because it existed outside of reality – it was my own standards I couldn’t meet.  Now, it’s everybody else’s.

So I need to focus.  Take time and figure this out.  Get my hair cut and look more professional (I suggested this, but was not dissuaded from my view.)   Be willing to spend some portion of Sunday working and picking nits.  I have to lay down on the paperwork and let myself find the rhythm of it.  I have to build flash cards and flow charts and checklists and make notes to staple to my forehead and in the midst of all of that…

I realize how much of me is taken up with other things, other desires, to be writing, often, or to be connecting with J. is another,  or thinking about something to share with my friends, or just to be laying somewhere just not-ting for a while. and how I thought I had all of those curious, distracting thoughts locked down.  That I was working hard at work.  But there’s a lot of needing to not push through and instead, feel the soft touch of one of these kind places and I don’t know how to cut that cold turkey because it’s kind of where my soul is.

But like it or not – and I don’t – something’s got to be done.

Battle Hymn of the Republic

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This day is an object lesson in the relief to be found in facing things head-on.  I went to see my mother who is exactly as one might imagine one would be when learning they need to have a bone biopsy as the pet scan did not reveal anything, and they’re a 21-year breast cancer survivor.  Wary, upset, frustrated, perpetually tense.  Trying to suss out what the doctors could mean without having spoken to them. And yet.  And yet, it was a nice afternoon watching Who Do You Think You Are episodes.  Talking about cucumbers.  Cheering on Elizabeth Warren as she takes Donald Trump to task. Laughing and I spending half a second to think at how the laughter wasn’t strained, wasn’t colored by anything, it was just laughter. There was no talk of personal transformation.  There was no talk of working yourself up to okay.  We were all as okay as we could ever possibly be.  I thought somehow that being there or not being there were equal, but there were hugs that even now make me shiver with the intention in them.  Regardless of anything, it will always be important to me to be there, to radiate out my heart.

Then, we went and bought her the surgical soap that she needed.  I listened as she listened to the nurse explain what she needed to do.  It is less eerie to just think of it in practical terms.  It is manageable steps to take.    Now, I feel, at least, as comfortable as I can with my tiny piece of it.  And then, we just deal with the results when they’re here.  That’s…something.

All this on a day when work lunacy was at its peak and I have to say, sitting here, in this hothouse, at this moment, I couldn’t honestly give one shit.  It is just not a priority in my head.  It ought to be, it ought to be another thing faced head-on and I think I’m getting closer.  All of this back and forth is pushing my head toward just fleeing.  Fleeing to a greener pasture where I can just look after my mother, myself, and not feel like I’ve got boulders crushing me in every direction.

There was a conversation, with a very awkward component including a request not to leave.  I said I hoped I didn’t have to.  And I said that it was financial, not personal, and that’s just where it’s at with me.  And it is.  So.

This, too, has made it a heck of a lot easier to deal with the fact I haven’t heard from you. This sounds pithy, but I think it’s true.  It’s so much easier to relax into the fact that I am focusing on what I need to focus on and whatever happens, will.  I mean, I can only do what I can do and I can only know what I can know.  And life goes on.  It had damn well better.

With a bowl of mango sorbet.

Within the Armament Works

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I woke up this morning, unaware in any active way of Daylight Savings Time, and my first thought was “Yes! I can get back to my book!”

This is a rather thrilling development – as thrilling as any the book itself contains.  Since last night I’ve read 200 pages and have pried myself away to do a few things I need to do.  Eating, laundry, exercise, otherwise I am tempted to say, they will not get done until I finish.

And as I am reading, I am stopping to google the definitions of words I don’t recognize.  Perhaps I knew atavistic once, but coming across it now and relearning its meaning: “being related to something ancient or ancestral” puts butterflies in my belly.  It feels like being handed a weapon that can fire further with greater accuracy than the clumsy, scattershot “old.”  It is, in many ways, building up your arsenal.  It is gathering your power to you, able to unleash such words as macadam or lateen at a clip.

I used to, in college, pin up notecards to my dorm room wall of words that were new to me.  Words I found that little flutter of discovery when I scanned my eyes over them.

Since then, with all of this anxiety and worry that I’ve nurtured and claimed, one idea that’s silverfished its way into the book of my brain is that I don’t have the hunger anymore.  I don’t have the focus, the skill, the desire to engage with the written world.  Really, what this is about is being afraid I can’t get to the quiet, restorative, contemplative peace that was my domain as a child.  The girl who wandered about the gardens telling stories, who was constantly checking books out of the library to live in, who feasted on the possibilities she could invent and knit together in her own mind.  It was scary to speculate that maybe I am locked out of something beautiful and personal about myself.  Like so many things, I imagined that I don’t have to feel the shame of that being true if I never rattle the door handle and see.   It’s Schrodinger’s Self-Awareness.

And partially, I understand, I needed to get out of that place so that I could figure out how to be in a social, person-focused job.  How I had to give up that extensive private time reading so I could hang out online with friends and clue into pop culture, so I could consider being a grown-up.  I needed to get some other skills.  I also had to learn to scan rather than read to get through college and reading I really didn’t want to do.

It wasn’t the same when I came back to a book, hoping to lay there and spend a weekend in another world.  So much anxiety that I couldn’t focus for even five minutes, so much to do, so much I should be dealing with but couldn’t because all I wanted to do was lay somewhere and read.  But it didn’t mean I was broken.  Not permanently.

I just needed the right book and the realization that I don’t have to worry about reading perfectly, with a cape around me, the rain at the window, the sea foaming around my tower.  I just have to let it be as it is and the book will reach me if it wants me.

This one truly has.

Devil’s Resting Bitchface

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Okay.

I woke up fine.  Wrestled with the scale.  Is it the same or did I lose .8 lbs?   I got both answers and only one is really acceptable right now (no, it’s fine, I have a year, I have a lifetime, but you know, fuck) so I went back to bed so I didn’t have to think about anything and ended up sliding in and out of weird climbing dreams where I was clearly thinking way too hard.   A climbing pit inside a mall that was shutting down and I accidentally ended up getting left behind there and having to climb these odd manufactured mountains with these grips that just looked like regular drawer handles and it was, in some ways, easier than I feared.

Still, I woke up mad.  It might have been the email from my sister about needing to pay my part of the bills and being pretty sure that if I gave her any money I couldn’t pay my student loan payment and suddenly, last night’s exercise – a bit more intense than usual – had a delayed impact.

This is PMS.  Full throttle, son of a bitch, give me a drink and stay away from me or I will light you on goddamned motherfucking fire PMS plus, as it turned out, an odd explosion of anxiety and panic.  Even though got the go-ahead from the boss so I technically got paid, or will be on Monday and so did the sister, I think even the relief threw on the other side of Whack.  Wherein I decided, like a crazy person, that I couldn’t feel my cheek properly and then silently wugged over that.  And then basically proceeded to attempt the grocery story and doing the welfare check on the animals while my parents were away and eating and exercising over there and just…finding myself thinking bizarre and unhelpful things.

Nevertheless – I did buy food.  90% of it healthy, plus a miniature pizza aggressively encrusted with sodium.   Everything I ate I tracked and we’re under given that I did exercise…doing the 3 mile walk in the aggressively silent parents house with my music playing on my phone like some sort of funeral march.

I know this will pass, but grah, and shit, and ugh, and it isn’t stopping me.  It isn’t debilitating me.  It is just unnerving me and wasting my time.  Like, my dad texted us this picture of himself by a giant ceramic shark hung upside down on some pier somewhere in Florida where they are vacationing and, to my great relief, having a great time, clearly.  He makes a dad joke about having caught it after going sponge diving.  And I had a thought too morbid to post here and it’s like, great, thanks, that’s incredibly unhelpful brain.

And right now my brain is just cackling at me.  It feels as though it can see how desperately I’m working on myself, how I am really making an effort to exercise and how I am digging in, and it wants to upset the apple cart.  It wants to upset me into being afraid that my positive change is the trigger for the panic…and maybe it is, but only in the sense that this is a protective barrier around the security of the status quo.  It’s a test I have to pass this time.

 

Poudre Valley Dropoff

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I was going to try and figure out a way to write the single most compelling blog post about philatelism and/or gardening that has ever been written.  It would not have been an extraordinary feat, but it would have likely driven me to such heights of aggressive, existential ennui that I would be forced to commit some sort of violent act to reassert my sense of humanity so I have foregone it and am instead going to try and just be myself.

For whatever that’s worth.

I have colored.  It was a day of work that required coming home and coloring flowers.  I need more colors so I bought a giant box of more markers, another coloring book and, because it was on sale and my paperwork is all akimbo, a box of bankers’ boxes to pull out last year’s files so that this year’s don’t get mixed up in them.  I am calm enough as I inhale the still lingering fumes from my recently stained desk.  I have turned off all of the distractions…almost all of the distractions…so that I can get this done, watch the final episode of season one of Grantchester so I can talk to my friend about it, probably color some more while I do it, then, hopefully take a bath somewhere in here, find some article of clothing fit to wear in the year’s first snowstorm that is due to happen tonight as we sleep, suss out tomorrow’s plan for lunch as I do not think I can handle another day of Panera.

Oooh, you can hear the rain spattering.   The sky’s violent reasserting that we do have seasons and it is fall and things end, unequivocally.

I got a message from my health insurance folks indicating that they have provided me with some sort of health checklist and while I am absolutely petrified down to my gizzards and my marrows and my phalanges about going to the doctor, I am rather keen on checklists.  I like to have done, even if I hate the idea of doing. I have not opened the checklist but I am rather aware of the fact that I probably can’t avoid going to the doctor for the rest of time.  Despite having been related to people who rarely ever go.  I am also noting the fact that my negative, horrified, duck under the desk and hide reaction has to be the new gauge for what it is that I need to do.

I feel an intense NO when I try and contemplate being the sort of person who doesn’t shut down when the conversation of maintaining one’s health comes up, so I am marinating in the idea of getting a check-up, getting a plan from a doctor about, you know, like trying to lose weight rather just cobbling together something on my own which is sort of the post-Christmas idea.  If I survive that long.   I can only expect to survive that long.

Do you remember that night, taking the long walk across campus, back to the dorm?  It was fall, and dark, and a little bit frightening.  Not excessively because I was beyond used to being alone, but I knew it was going to be over soon, I knew I was graduating and I knew nothing beyond that point.   I told myself I was going to make my life something amazing.

We survived.  We are surviving.  We will survive.

The Dog’s Towel

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I don’t know why I feel a bit fearful about coming back here and talking about myself even if I know that it is definitely the fastest way t get my word count done rather than poking at these files as I add and delete sentences here and there.  Even if I have done it before, literally thousands of times.  It is like anything else when I am working through anxiety.  Thick woody vines grow over the idea that I am free and safe and acceptable and doing the best I can and squeeze those premises until they get no air and the only path that’s clear is the old, stupid one that goes out of our way by miles and hours just to find flat, unswerving road.  I duck my head until my neck aches and scuttle towards homes.  These are old habits and I’m overwhelmed and starting to really understand how the things that were before are following me and that, too, freaks me out and pushes me towards regrettable choices.

I don’t want to say this out loud because it’s too despairing to think that it’s not just me not trying hard enough to fit more time into the day.  I want the worry to be something I could fix even if I am too worried to actually fix it.  Some of this is, however, out of my hands.

I have a lot of strange stripes of energies all colliding and combining and asking for my attention right now and I know what center is.  I know what the right path is.  I know what to do to move forward.   I find doing those things essentially impossible right now even as I stumble towards doing them.  So I feel guilty and imperfect and imperfect for using the world imperfect.   I am writing, and creating and connecting and feeling, which is, in the background processes of my mind, sparking other impulses – to sit long enough to draw forth the Faithful Light.  Stop this tarantella and begin again with the work I was sharing with my therapist.

Look in the mirror.  Drink the water you want to drink.  Stretch these bent muscles taut.   Make a checklist and stick around to check things off of it.  Put things away after you use them, right then, don’t think, don’t question, don’t let the muscles pull you into the drowning currents.

It’s Friday tomorrow, and in a week, a big work event that I am not entirely sure we’re ready for.  I am trying to recall the first year in my prior job and how it always felt like I was off and forgetting and unprepared and I got through eight of those and eventually came to a point of some competence.   I feel a shakiness that I know, in part, is just a response to that surge of thinking I knew what I was doing and driving and focus and going downtown.  It is two steps back I’m trying to forestall and just take the one. That would be good.

 

Green, Growing Things

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The Rockies will be on in a minute.  Gotta get it on the gamecast on as I can’t get it on TV.  I don’t care about their record.  I just want them to beat the Cubs.

Playing The Wolf again.  I spent ten minutes earlier this morning crafting a response to someone who felt this change in their sound came out of the blue.  I laid out all these facts that a fangirl knows.  I made a case.  Just before pressing the button to start a fresh thread unravelling on an internet argument I would never be able to win, I looked at the clock and gave it up and ran off for my appointment with the TurboTax.  As soon as you start to think you can correct someone on the internet’s opinion on anything, you’ve lost.  I haven’t allotted any more time in the budget of my life to redressing internet wrongs.

Listening again, now, I realize that I love just the hell out of this song.  I sit on my bed and feel it run through me, feel the memories it evokes, going to Bristol, jumping up and down as light and sound obliterated every last little worry in my head, going to Guthrie and the beetled hotel room and the red dirt on the little white Yaris maneuvering out of that bumpy field.  The sweaty, dark lit up by a strand of lights hung under over a tunnel and realizing how strong my little sister was.  Going to Italy and meeting my friend who only ever would have become my friend if it weren’t for those boys thinking they should start a band.  Driving with Sigh No More on repeat, and repeat, and repeat, never skipping a song.  Seeing them at the Fillmore, pressed against the wooden bar, seeing them at Red Rocks.  Always leavened, spiritualized, made into a giddy thing.  In some ways, they made the past four years of my life, if not possible…survivable.  They were a point of focus and escape and travel and even if they put out an album of themselves reading Kanye West lyrics, or performing polka classics, or whatever else would feel as profane as plugging in does to some, I’d buy it and give it a shot.  They’ve earned that from me.

I lip-sync along, unhinged: “You were all I ever lonnnnnnnnnnnged for!”  The core of what I want to hear is right there, undiminished by the electric melody bounding beneath it.

They’ll be on SNL tonight and I’ll be watching.

Apparently, my ex co-worker’s pizza party was cancelled due to “unforeseen circumstances.”  I turned up an hour into the supposed open house to see a near-empty parking lot and a posted message on the door.  I don’t know what this means.  Eventually, I will find out, but for now, I’m just relieved not to have to be back in that world.  It was an opportunity, though, to Saturday drive and I took a old, but more straight-forward route and didn’t think twice about doing it.  That was good.   The taxes are also done with the usual refund on its way and a bit more than usual from the state coming once I send off the paperwork on Monday.  Not enough to warrant giving up $25 for the convenience of not having to find a stamp.  Not when one’s father is a philatelist.

No you.  I keep the email account open.  The grail-shaped beacon.  I refuse to knock on that door, though.  I refuse to say peep.  The three men crewing the lighthouse for sanity’s sake, awaiting the crash, to see you bob up between the sheets of gasoline and scattered fuselage.  Pluck you up take you inland for a stiff drink while I make my way down from the hills.  These are things we have no say in.  These are things that are not ours to mend. The only choice to make is when to call it.  Like the last dwindling spikes on an EKG machine, beeping out: Not yet, not yet, not yet.

The Rockies are down 3 – 0, bottom of the second.  If they’re going to make it, these are the kind of situations where they have to fight.  I see the parallels.  I’m thinking.  I look again and they’ve cut the lead down to a single run.

There’s some tasks to take care of, trash to bring to the curb, beds to make.  Enough screaming into this Void.