Author: yappity

Emerging Optimist. Current Depression/Cancer Survivor. Possible Wino. Tree/Animal Hugger. Mom. Wife. Daughter. Friend.

Bats In Our Belfry….Again.

I think bats are cute.  I actually do! Just not when they are flying around in my house.
And I feel really bad when one of our dogs manages to catch one and it is lying on my living room floor, seemingly dead.  And I feel rather happy when I find out it is not dead, just stunned! But I go back to feeling bad after I manage to get it outside the house, leave it sitting on our doorstep, and then realize that they have problems launching themselves off of the ground and I see it crawling away rather dazed and lost.  I feel worse when I google how to help them and then can’t find the little creature when I go back outside.

This is the third time we’ve had a bat in our house.  Tonight was the second time in a week.  Our “Bat Man”, as we call him, is coming on Monday to seal up where it looks like they are coming in…this time.  The first time it happened it was a little funny.  Now? Not so much.  It appears our house is like swiss cheese.  We already know it’s leaky.  I mean, the financial hits just keep coming, you know? Bat-proofing was never something we thought to budget for when we bought this place.  I’m beginning to wonder if the previous owners were aware of these little tenants or not.  And now I’m going to have to call the vet in the morning to see which of our dogs is, or is not, current with their rabies vaccinations and whether or not our cats are either.  We have our suspicions about who caught the poor thing, but it’s still a line-up. And when you have a line-up, we have learned from past experiences, treatment becomes a sweeping, all-inclusive, “better safe than sorry” ordeal.

I’m going to have a hard time sleeping tonight thinking about whether that poor bat managed to find a tree to climb to launch itself off into the sky, or whether or not the dogs injured it so that it can’t fly at all anymore; all the while having the worry that it, or its relatives, will find a way back into the house sometime in the middle of the night.

I seem to have to learn things the hard way.  Always.  Like the time I had to get rabies shots because of a feral cat bite and ended up learning SO much about rabies! And like learning from the past few weeks that we really need to pay more attention to our mail. (Got another Toll Road bill this afternoon! What the hell!? Believe me, I’m not ignoring those anymore!) And when a bat first flew around in here, I learned a lot about bats.  This evening I learned that if your dogs are going bonkers barking in the living room and scratching at doors, that you really need to find out why they’re being so raucous – it could very well be that they’re chasing one. And it might need your help.

Things get battier around here every day.  Including myself.

 

 

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At Least I Can Still Laugh

It’s funny that when I take other people’s advice, like “lighten up” or “gotta find the silver linings” or “laughter is the best medicine” or “gotta laugh to keep from crying” or “don’t take everything so seriously”, the reaction I get is hardly ever what I would expect.  I don’t get the pat on the back that I’d think it would illicit.

For instance, my parents told me all my life growing up that I shouldn’t let other people’s opinions drag me down.  My dad especially.  Mostly my dad, actually.  Sometimes my mother, but rarely. My dad always would irritably bark at me, “Who cares what they think?! You shouldn’t care what they think!!” any time I seemed distressed about friends or teachers or boyfriends.  It always made me feel like I was spineless and weak.  He seemed to admire the gutsiness of anyone who defied conventions.  “Too sensitive” was a phrase that was tossed at me by almost everyone I knew back then.

My parents, in those days, were never particularly religious.  I should clarify, actually.  My MOTHER didn’t seem too religious then.  My father has always declared, “A pox on all their houses!”, having grown up in a Southern Baptist, small minded community with which he was from a fairly early age extremely disenchanted, to say the least.  In these later years, the closest to religion he has gotten has been to speculate that Gravity is God. So, I wasn’t baptized as an infant.  My parents took the stand that I could decide what religion I believed in when I became an adult.

So, I grow up.  I decide to finally express my somewhat passionate opinions on all sorts of things.  I stand up for what I believe. I call out people who seem to be expressing rather close-minded ideas.  I even decide to join the Jewish tribe.

What happens then?  A whole lot of tension between us. ESPECIALLY my mom.   It’s okay, it seems, to stand up against others; it’s okay to make my own decisions – I am a grown-ass woman now, right? It’s okay to do what I think is best.  Just as long as I am not going against any of THEIR beliefs and prejudices, of course.  Isn’t that how it is with parents and children?  I guess that’s how it will always be.  I’m trying not to be too strict on this front with my own, but I know now what parenthood is like, so I cannot really blame them.  I love my parents.  In my view, they are the best parents.  As all parents should ideally be to their children.

But, I digress….sort of.

Back to “lightening up”.

When I sheepishly told the story to my husband about what was up with all those toll violations, I could tell for about a second or three, that he was on the verge of laughing along with me.  But, he pulled himself together quickly, and said with an earnest expression, “It isn’t really funny”.  (Yeah. Duh. In reality, of course it isn’t. We aren’t made of money here.  In fact, things are a bit, shall we say, dire.  I won’t get into it).

A good friend of our family, someone who is really more like actual family, flew into town to visit us and stay with my parents the same day I straightened out my tags.  I went to pick her up from the airport as a favor to my parents, since the airport was much closer to me.  This friend can be just about as absent-minded as myself and I felt safe telling her what had happened; about what a huge boo-boo I had made.  We laughed and laughed, shaking our heads every time we crossed through those toll lanes after I had regaled her with my story and told her, “Don’t worry! I’ve got tags!…”

I tend to be way too much of an open book, way too honest, maybe even way too trusting with the ones closest to me.  Shit, sometimes even with complete strangers.  So, I risked telling my mother the same story when we arrived and all of us had settled onto the couch, the both of them sipping wine, because my mom has always laughed about the woman from Tennessee – it’s one of her favorite memories.  (Like I said in my last post, you really had to be there).  She really needs good laughs lately considering how hard she’s working and the whole situation with my dad’s cancer and worries about my husband and me (not to mention the whole state of our country, but I digress again).  I knew that she would want to chastise me a bit; she might shake her head in disappointment in me – I knew!  But, I thought, at least she could get some really good giggles in there too.  It would be worth it.

I could tell she didn’t want to laugh when I got to the “punchline”, if you will.  She really, really didn’t want to.  But, she finally did.  We had a few heady minutes of uncontrollable giggling, the three of us.  Oh good, I thought, we’re actually okay here.  She can find the humor in it! Relief.

Then she suddenly stopped, fixed me with a mother’s glare, and pursing her lips, spat out, “Christiane! When are you going to get your shit together?!? Seriously!!”

Then she proceeded to lecture me on what I needed to do to fix it, even though I already had.  I let her go on about marching “into the nearest EZTag store and straightening this all out in PERSON! That’s what you need to do!! Don’t mess with online stuff!! You need to DO THIS!! It really isn’t funny!!” She may as well have shouted “Grow up!!”.  (Thinking back, she may have.  I may have tried to block that part out.  But, if she didn’t shout it, she might as well….).

Our friend and I looked at each other across the room, lowered our eyes for a second, almost able to read each other’s minds about how I really shouldn’t have told her that story, and about the humiliation of your mother chastising you at the age of 52 like you were an errant 13 year old, and how, at the same time, you had to agree with her about acting like an adult, and about how that stung you so much inside……

I was just trying to lighten up.

 

 

 

She’s From Tennessee…

Once upon a time, my mom and dad and I were driving back to their house from the airport after having picked up relatives visiting them from Germany.  We were stopped at a toll booth, getting ready to pay, when we saw an old turquoise cadillac whiz past us, never slowing down, through the EZ tag lane.  The camera flashed as it took a picture of this car and its plates and we realized that the driver (we’d managed to catch a glimpse of the person at the wheel – a woman) didn’t have the tags required to go through legally.  Someone exclaimed “Whoops! She didn’t have tags!”.  To which someone else declared “What does she care?! She’s from Tennessee!!” (we’d also managed to catch a glimpse of her license plates as she flew by).  We all got giggles that erupted into laughter lasting for several minutes, kind of admiring her moxie.  Lots of jokes ensued.  Honestly, she was probably never coming back.  She probably couldn’t get out of Texas fast enough and that’s why she didn’t give a shit!  Why would she care about some 1.75 toll fee? She’s from Tennessee! Who was gonna chase her down?  Catch her if you can! The carefree image of that driver became a running joke in my family.  We giggle every time we think about her.  Maybe you had to be there.  Yeah.  You had to be there.

Anyway, my parents live on the opposite end of the city from us.  We’re in the southwest and they are in the northwest.  To get to their house, there are various options to choose from and when my father was diagnosed with Mesothelioma, I wanted to be able to get out there as fast as I could when I needed because I planned on being at their house more often than usual.  The fastest way was going to be the toll road.

Now, I have to digress to say that Houston’s freeways and tollways need an entire post to themselves.  If you’ve never been here, they can be rather confusing.  Even if you have lived here practically your whole life, they can be confusing.  Suffice it to say that, in addition to the free public ways of getting around, there are toll roads with rules and regulations , and I thought that finally getting what’s called EZ Pass Express Tags was going to be worth the money in order to get around faster and quicker.  Without tags, you have to wait in line at the actual toll booths and either have exact change to toss in, or you have to wait to get change made, and obviously, that’s not as convenient as just flying on your merry way through the stations.

I was never a fan of the toll roads.  I kinda resented them, for reasons too  long to go through here.  However, I found after I signed up and created an account with the Harris County Toll Road Authority, that they were indeed a mightily easier way of getting around town.  SO much faster!

One of our local news stations, KHOU, concisely explained how it works in one of their articles:

“The state’s TxTag requires you to pre-pay $20 worth of tolls. Harris County’s EZ TAG requires $40 down plus a $15 activation fee. The state doesn’t require you to keep a minimum balance, but if your account is negative when you go through a toll, you will receive a violation.”

(Ahem. A violation PLUS extra administrative fees, to be absolutely clear).

So, this is how it works getting tags so you can zip around with the greatest of ease:
1)  You can walk into one of several EZ Tag stores and buy them in person.  Which of course means finding a convenient location to visit and then waiting in line with a bunch of other people who, like you, would rather be somewhere else, and then dealing with a live person.  And we all know how excited we get with that.

2)  You can purchase them online.  If you choose the EZ Tag Express program, you can download an app on your phone and manage your account from there.  No lines, no fuss, no ACTUAL PEOPLE to talk to.  You simply create an account and deposit money into it and voila! You are on your way! And if you happen to be the absent-minded sort – such as I am – you can even let this app connect to a credit card of your choosing so that your account will be replenished with the agreed upon amount of money when it runs out.  For whatever reason, I decided to set the amount to keep in my account at forty dollars on the regular.  The tolls aren’t that much, really, and I didn’t think, at the time, that I would be using the tollways too frequently anyhow.

I really, really, really, really appreciated that my account would automatically replenish with the set amount whenever my funds ran out.

I set this all up in July of last year, 2017.  And, it turns out, I drove way more frequently on these toll roads because of all the construction on the rest of our freeways; because the traffic flowed easier; and it was always faster.  I breezed around town, wondering why we hadn’t bought the tags sooner.  I could tell guest passengers, like friends I picked up from whichever airport they needed (there are two major ones here located on opposite sides of Houston)  “No worries! I’ve got tags!” and we could just wheel along feeling stress-free about arriving anywhere on time.  I could make it to brunches with friends without wanting to punch myself in the face because I didn’t allow for traffic or lights and I was going to be really late again.  I could drive on over to my parents when they needed me at the last minute for a favor, and then return home without the feeling that most of my day had been spent in the car.  This went on for some time.

Then some bills for toll violations started trickling in….

They were for small amounts, like 1.25, or 3.50, or 6.75.  I can remember sending a check or two.  But, the bills kept coming.  Geez! Another one? I just paid them! These bills must have crossed paths with the checks in the mail.  My husband put some of it off to driving on the toll way in our other car, thinking he was covered too, until I told him that no, I just registered one car.  So, now he knew he could only drive on the toll way in “my” car.

But….the bills kept coming.  Sometimes there were more than one in my mailbox on the same day.  And they started to arrive almost everyday.  I would try to make sense of the bills but, trust me, it’s not easy because some bills had the previous toll violations included along with the new ones and the format was difficult to make sense of.  Things were piggy-backing and I kept thinking there was some mistake somewhere because, as far as I knew, my EZ Tag account should have been replenishing and taking care of these things.  I began to wonder if the toll authorities were perhaps trying to rip me off.  I started getting ticked off with them.  I just KNEW someone had messed up somewhere!   I didn’t even bother opening some of the bills because I assumed that many were duplicates.  And I certainly wasn’t going to pay them until I figured out exactly what I actually owed and which bills were legitimate.  All I knew was someone had messed up and these bills had to be wrong.

In the meantime, there were other more pressing things I was preoccupied with and the bills just got shoved into a growing mound of paper and unopened mail, which got shoved into a box and into a cabinet whenever I needed to make the house slightly more presentable when guests were going to drop by.   Of course, the room may have looked better, but you know that old saying about “out of sight….”

All during this time, I drove blithely about town, singing along with the radio, bobbing my head and keeping the beat as I flew through those EZ tag lanes.

One day, when we finally focused, my husband and I got down to tackling that mountain of paper.  I got up from the dining table and went into the kitchen for something to drink.  When I returned, I found my husband with his jaw hanging and his eyes wide in  disbelief.  He turned to me, almost laughing out of shock, and informed me how much the Harris County Toll Authority said we owed them……

I am not going to repeat the number here.  Let’s just say we were relieved to find out that some of the fines had been reduced and we could pay them a smaller number.  Which I am still not going to reveal.  Let’s just say that it was a lot.

Maybe it was the feeling of guilt and embarrassment for being so irresponsible about opening our mail that we unquestioningly paid our debt, put more money into our EZ Tag account, breathed a sigh of sheepish relief that it was done, and jumped back onto the toll road with the confidence of being completely legal again.

When the next bill arrived, two weeks later, I scoffed and thought that they really needed to get their shit together because this obviously was mailed the day that we had paid our bills.

And when another bill arrived the following day,  I thought, no way could this be happening because I hadn’t even been on the toll road for a couple of days already.

Then it all started over again.  This time I was pretty annoyed and absolutely certain that they were just trying to pull something sneaky and bill me for things we’d already paid for.  I would call them when I had a moment.  Of course, that moment didn’t come for about a month…

I immediately got a live person on the line when I called the authority up this past Saturday.  A very nice, very friendly, very patient woman went through the latest in my account, while I also had up our latest Amex statement in another window so I could let her know what we had already been charged.  None of the numbers that she and I looked at were making any sense at all.  I was confused.  She was confused. We most definitely shouldn’t have been charged that kind of money.  I had money in my EZ Tag account!  I should not be getting bills like this.  Something was definitely messed up.  She excused herself to find a supervisor to get permission to view more information on my account.

She returned to the phone after some minutes to reluctantly and gently inform me that my EZ Tags, the ones that I actually told someone in a toll booth one time (told them cheerfully with a big smile on my face!) I had so that I could quickly roll on through, were EXPIRED.  In fact, they expired THREE DAYS after I had activated my account.  They had expired an entire YEAR ago because of (and I think she was being generous with me) …… a typo.  “It happens to lots of people”, she quietly assured me.

The mortifying thing is that it wasn’t exactly a typo.  Or maybe it was.  Who can say at this point?  But I remember pulling up my account, pushing the “edit” button (took me long enough to work it out too), and seeing the evidence myself.   There it was:  “Activation date:  July 20, 2017.  Expiration date: July 23, 2017”.

“Why the HELL would I do something like that?!” I wondered out loud in astonishment.

“I don’t know”, she giggled , “It was an honest mistake. A typo.  It happens.”

She really was too nice. Too nice to point out that I clearly didn’t know what I was doing when I signed up with the app.

“So I’ve been driving all around town, with expired tags, for a whole year??!!”

“I’m afraid so”.                                                                                                                              There was a quiet pause between the two of us.
“Well…..that certainly explains it!” I said.                                                                                        She clarified how I could fix the problem, after, of course, I paid the latest bill online (which, thankfully, wasn’t anywhere near as much as previously) and she stayed on the line with me until my account was clear.

Then we sat there and laughed.
“I was so CONFUSED!”, she said.
“Me too!”

Obviously, I am a confused and confusing woman.  Clearly.

I sat there a little stunned and a little relieved at the same time, like a patient who has just received a troubling diagnosis.  It’s not great, but it’s good to know what’s gone wrong so that maybe it can be fixed.

But then I couldn’t stop the giggles from welling up as I suddenly had an image in my mind….of myself…flying around town, not a care in the world, obliviously feeling secure in my little bubble of ignorance, careening from one place to another along the tollways, a little scarf (I don’t know why a little scarf; I never wear scarves, but there it is in the picture), blithely waving an arm out the window (yeah, I really don’t do that either, but nevertheless…), crying out in a cheerful, yet slightly hysterical way as I zoom through the lanes, “DON’T WORRY!!! I’VE GOT EZ TAGS!!!!…..”

 

 

What do I care, right? Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

 

 

Nothing Works As Advertised

You know you’ve seen this scenario millions of times.  You’ve seen it in movies, advertisements, TV shows, magazine interviews, books.  It tends to inspire a nebulous, un-nameable hope in us for whatever reason. Sometimes you even see it in the news…. It’s the ever popular scenario of a person who hits rock-bottom or is in some crisis of one sort or another and whatever travail that it is changes that characters life, changes them forever more, and now they are on a completely new and exciting and positive path, never to go back.  I believe Oprah even had a column devoted to the term she coined for this phenomena, for this awakening of positive possibilities.  What was it?

Oh, yeah.
The “AH-HA!” moment.

I see a plethora of “life-changing opportunities” floating about on the web lately.  They all sound lovely. They all sound so simple.

Some “AH-HA” turning points can be positive.  For instance, especially in works of fiction, be they on screen or on page, the saving grace for some is when they find the love of their life.  And I’m not here to crap on that notion.  It’s always a miraculous thing, a joyous thing, to find someone willing to put up with you for the rest of your lives and love you despite your weirdness, whatever that may be.  Someone who supports you being you.  When that person commits to you in a ceremony, in front of everyone you hold near and dear, it’s fabulous.  We all get (a bit too ) caught up in planning that particular event.  Especially these days, I think.  Everything has to be planned and thought out down to the most minute detail.  The adrenaline runs very, very high during all that time.  Now you can gallop off into the sunset of Happy-Ever-After, right? The possibilities for the two of you are just infinite.  Anyone else had this feeling the day after your marriage, that things should be all sparkly and gleaming and exciting and new? You almost had that feeling that now your life was going to be TRANSFORMED.

Or when you had your first child.  Or when you had your second child… or more.  Yes, the day was incredibly happy.  A new adventure beginning.  The love the two of you were feeling couldn’t be described.  Oh, wanna talk about future possibilities!!! Your life would, indeed, be TRANSFORMED!
(AND, GIRL, WAS IT!).

But mostly, in movies and TV shows, the character has some looming bit of doom on the horizon that seems like it will be the end of the world for them (usually some important, future-determining deadline or some god-awful mess that they’ve gotten themselves into) but at the last minute they manage to find the solution after staying up for five days straight and running around or working or cleaning or studying or painting or practicing their asses off.  And success!!!  Lessons learned! Mistakes never to be made again! Their lives have been TRANSFORMED!   (I tried this sort of tactic with writing papers in my high school and college years. I don’t recommend it. And, no, I was not transformed).

Or characters will be faced with losing everything, or with divorce, or with infidelity, or with disease or injury.  Then they find their meaning in life through their struggles and go on to have their lives TRANSFORMED!

What inevitably happens after these sorts of things in real life is the “And now?” moment.

I think the term for this, for what actually happens…or, rather, at least, what happened for me, for what I’ve always felt is….”anti-climatic”.  (Surely, I can’t be the only one who experiences this?)
It’s that somewhat deflated feeling that makes you look around and think, “Well, back to the usual. Hi-ho, hi-ho”.

(Don’t get me wrong, though.  I am thoroughly happy to be married to whom I’m married, and to have brought two wonderful people into being).

And life indeed goes on, for the better or the worse, or back and forth between the two. Your house still gets trashy and you still get into arguments and you are no wiser or wealthier or particularly healthier or fitter than before despite actually striving and working towards the positive things.  A magical flying unicorn does not show up in your backyard.

I blame some of that rather numb, underwhelmed, anti-climatic feeling on the way we get programmed by these stories and by advertising and movies and TV and so many other ways of communication.  So many ideas that we cling to in our little foolish human ways; so many messages that we are sold:  that dreams can come true and that life will be what you – and ONLY you – make of it.  That somehow, if something happens to you, shakes you up and makes you realize it – you are in control of your life! And you need to seize it and run with it and make the absolute MOST of it! And cherish it EVERY DAY and be grateful for it EVERY DAY and never, ever, ever, EVER give up and be the BEST YOU THAT YOU CAN BE! EVERY DAY!! If you have that “AH-HA!” moment, you and your life will be TRANSFORMED!!

Um. Okay.

I’ve managed to survive one suicide attempt in my life at a fairly young age.  I got help. Life didn’t change much.  I almost attempted two more times, but recognized that I needed help again.  Life went on. Up and down and up and down.  College was a disaster for me.  I had jobs.  Jobs I hated.  I fell in love, got married, had kids.  That was good. That was nice. Life went on. Up and down and up and down.  And then down and down.

And then, right as it was going back up, I got breast cancer.  My Triple Negative Breast Cancer is a long enough story in itself, but the gist of it is that I no longer wanted to commit suicide! Oh the irony!

I slogged my way through my treatment, my husband by my side the entire time, the two of us saying that if it looked like I wouldn’t make it, we were going to toss everything (except the kids, of course), say “fuck it” to money and possessions, and travel to all the places that we wanted to go.

Happily, luckily, I have survived.  I’ve even survived past the critical 5 year mark.  And for a while after treatment, I did feel like a slightly different person.  I no longer cared what others thought about me, I felt pretty strong, I felt more self-assured, I felt a little bad-ass actually.  I was more patient (for a wee bit) about some things, like traffic jams and people in stores and other minor daily irritations. I was far more impatient about other things though, like getting on with everything I’ve ever wanted to do; like not wanting to waste a single second on things that were not important to me.  I was more positive and optimistic than I’ve ever been in my life.  I actually developed an appreciation for cheerleaders! (If you knew me, this would be shocking).

When you’ve narrowly escaped dying, every single second seems to matter infinitely more.  To the point it almost becomes an unbearable pressure. You want to put your fears aside, you even feel like you’ve shed all your fears, and CARPE DIEM, BABY! GO FOR THE GUSTO! Get ON with it!  I was happy and grateful to be alive and be here with my family; unbelievably happy even to the extent that I was thrilled to be able to do utterly boring and mundane things by myself, like vacuum and wash dishes. HA! Yup. Go for the gusto! right?

And it’s been roughly 7 years that I’ve been cancer-free.  And I’m still grateful that I’m alive.  I’ve faced the possibility of dying, of not having any more time here in this world. I’d say that’s pretty dire.  I’d say that’s an “AH-HA!” experience if there ever was one.  But, I’m at a point now where it feels as if that energy that it gave me, that momentum, has slowly died its own natural death amongst the petty and mundane details of daily human existence.  It’s pretty fucking hard, for myself anyway, to pull up that optimistic, passion-for-living, grateful for EVERYTHING, lucky-to-be-alive, unchecked positivity, limitless energy, day after day and second after second, forever and ever, amen.

Haven’t read “Eat, Pray, Love”, but I’ve heard enough about it to get the idea.  Someone tell me that this does NOT come to your mind with the whole “AH-HA” thing.

It’s actually pretty fucking hard to seize your life and control it when you don’t have enough money.  Those things you’ve always dreamt of doing? In one way or another, they probably all involve a whole lot of money and a whole lot of time; and if you work and have debt and have dependents and need health insurance, or if you have anything else going on in your life that requires attention….Well, you aren’t going to be tossing your hair around in the wind on a sailboat cruise around some Greek islands anytime soon.  You’re not going to be freely and finally riding off with your loved ones on horseback into the Happy-Ever-After Sunset with a heart and mind full of wisdom and peace and contentment with simply being alive, joyously crying out “Fuck it all! I’m gonna live how I WANT!!!!”

Having your back up against the wall and facing death? Those “Moments of Truth”? Those “AH-HA!” opportunities you read about in articles and magazines? The “Life-Changing Events!” you watch in movies and on TV and read about almost everywhere?  They don’t come with a beautiful new change of scenery.  Things aren’t awash in glittery sparkles.  They certainly don’t turn your pumpkins into carriages. They don’t even spruce the place up a little. They don’t come with a new bank account or a new fulfilling career.  They don’t really come with even the chances or opportunities for those things. They have a very limited shelf life and a lot of teensy-tiny print, with several symbols denoting itty-bitty footnotes, and nobody is necessarily going to gain the life they’ve always wanted after a major upset or scare,  even by running around and working and cleaning and painting and practicing and studying and being grateful as all hell and not sleeping and paying attention to every fucking second of the day.  You can do all those things, but just because you’ve somehow faced dying, those things don’t guarantee you any reward of any extra special power or any special insight or any unadulterated contentment or any extra energy for attaining anything you’ve ever hoped for.  You get to be alive. That’s it.

And it’s back to the usual; not for want of actually striving and trying and working for something new…..just the up and down and up and down and down…..

Even the somewhat newly gained self-confidence and assertiveness and optimism is fading.

Nothing has really changed. Not even me.

 

 

 

 

 

Driving While Thinking

Whenever I’m driving is when the words flow in my head and when I get the urge to write them down.  It’s frustrating. (It’s probably also a tad dangerous because I’m driving while my mind is elsewhere.  It’s not infrequently that I find myself going where I didn’t intend to go because I was lost in some thought, in some conversation in my head….)

I’ll find myself thinking, “don’t forget this!”…and you can guess what happens once I get home…
I tried once to record what I was thinking while driving.  I couldn’t stand my voice and I also felt too self-conscious.  I felt a bit too pompous to be honest, so the “flow” stopped flowing.

Or sometimes when I’m trying to do what I “should” do and am “supposed to” be doing while at home, my mind starts spilling essays out on various subjects and I think to myself, “I need to explore this.  I need to write this out”.  But when I sit down in front of the computer to begin, I suddenly feel quite tired.  I feel fatigued even before I start and I feel as if I simply don’t have the energy anymore, or the time, and my mind automatically goes to guilt about all the other things I “need” to and “should” be doing instead at that moment.  Because I know once I start writing I will be at the computer a very, very, very long time.  And that’s when the “flow” slows to a trickle.

And then I start wondering exactly why I feel this need to write?  To put out thoughts for anyone else to read? Where does it come from? I’ve always had it.  I think anyone who has ever been a bookworm probably feels it.  Anyone who has ever loved books, been magnetically drawn to written material, adored libraries, feels like it’s the most natural thing to do – to express oneself outwardly, even if no one else is listening.

But at the same time, writing can feel like the most tortuous thing in the world.  It takes so fucking LONG to get down exactly what you want to say, the point that you are chasing, the connections that you see.  It starts to seem like the biggest task to take on because of ALL THOSE THOUGHTS. Where does one even begin?

When I’m driving, words flowing along, debates being argued, opinions being expressed, stories starting and continuing, questions demanding research, conversations going on, subjects being broached, feelings finding an outlet, is like breathing; it’s almost effortless. And I don’t believe that it is something oh-so-special about me; I know that everyone else in their cars passing me by on the freeway is doing the exact same thing.  I know it’s called “thinking” and it’s not exclusive to myself.  I just don’t know that everyone driving past feels this weird need to write it out.

Anyway, put a pen or pencil in my hand, place a keyboard under my fingers, point me in a certain direction and suddenly, DAMN, this is time-consuming, concentrated, frustrating, self-esteem risking, (did I mention TIME-CONSUMING?) WORK.

And it’s not as if I am work-averse, though outwardly to some I probably seem so; it’s that the work that I would gravitate toward, that I would choose to do, isn’t what others would truly consider work if they were to see me doing it.  And I think that this is what hinders me.  Well, let’s be truthful…..it’s ME and my own thoughts and feelings and fears that hinder me.  BUT it certainly isn’t helpful that the rest of society kinda looks upon any creative or expressive endeavor as a luxury or as a somewhat worthless use of time (until they enjoy that book, or that article, or that painting, or that piece of jewelry, or that photograph, or that play, or that movie, of course…..). It certainly isn’t a JOB.   They don’t realize – or rather, they aren’t really aware – that it takes dedication, work, and time; and lots of it.

And I think that I have now digressed into different territory than simply the issue of driving while having ideas….

I can’t remember which writer said it, but I will paraphrase here:  “I don’t know what I think until I write it down”.

I guess that’s one of the main motivations of writing.  Trying to figure out what you think about this increasingly stressful, yet beautiful, world.  It might not matter to anyone else, but it is an inherently natural, and important, thing to do for yourself.   And, yes….it is WORK.

Geez

Just ran across something that I wrote on September 13, 2016.  It’s a diary of almost every thought that went through my head on that date.   I think I was trying to get a grasp of how my mind functioned in a typical day.

“Need to get new iron.  Need to get gas.  Need to pick up film.  Need to clean out the fridge and go to the grocery store.  But first need to make inventory and check online for coupons.  Need to scrape paint off everything!  (The previous owners of our house did a LOUSY job of painting! Every surface seems to be peeling!)  Eeyore (one of our dogs) needs Heart worm treatment.  We all need eye doctor appointments.  Need to make arrangements for Z’s birthday!  And then call Mom back!  Need to start making weekly & monthly goals to focus on priorities like making money! With studio, blog, etc.!!  Need to get it up and running!! Especially before holidays! Need to look up how to clean garden tools, how to tell if dry beans have gone bad, if bleach is really necessary to kill germs in laundry – especially when it’s being washed in hot water.

What happens to your body when you go without showering for more than two days ?(remembering article I saw and meant to read).  Need to read those books on how the computer works.  I’m too tech illiterate.  Hating how stupid it makes me feel and how it handicaps me in so many ways.  Really need to take dogs for walks!!

Need to get moving.  What should I clean first before plumber gets here? Floors, guest bath where he’ll be working.  What do I do with dogs while he’s here? Really need to train them to behave better!  Need to weed front garden.  Need to edge lawn.  J. needs to show me how that damn weed eater works!!  Seems we can never get one that works properly, doesn’t break!  Need to mop!! Clean bathrooms!! Clean dining table and get all those papers under control!  Really need to establish some sort of routine!!

Mr. Robot.

Stop writing and get moving!  NO COMPUTER!!  Have to leave at 3 to pick up boys from school.  Need to get back into gym.  Need to get blood work done before I meet with Dr. G. again.  Should I quit drinking so much coffee??

Fish Oil tablets – need to get some.  Need to get back into gym.  Need to make more coffee. Shit!! Stop! Move it!! Wasting time!!

Wonder when I’ll hear back from that person who contacted me about genealogy?  Stop! Go!  Clean up before he (the plumber) gets here! Or you’ll be standing here writing ALL DAY!! (which is why it’s hard for me to blog because I’m always afraid I’ll be in front of the computer all day.  Need I remind myself I already tend to do that with Facebook and Lumosity.  No wonder I’m such a mess…)  Not like I don’t have a million things that need doing!!

Plumber’s gonna get here and I’ll be embarrassed about the house.  Random anxious thought: “What if he attacks me because I’m alone?!?”  Hello – we have 5 (count ’em, FIVE!!) dogs!!  Get a grip!  You’ve watched too much TV in your lifetime.  Too many bad and scary stories.  STOP.

When am I gonna get around to organizing Mom and Dad’s photos like I said – promised! – I would.  I can tell Mom feels resigned that it won’t be for awhile.  Doesn’t believe me when I say I will. Sad that I can’t blame her.  When am I gonna organize our own??  The stuff on the computer needs help too!  Thousands of pics!! Society…. All these pictures now in digital memory… Can’t even fathom the numbers…

Maybe I should just walk around with voice memo turned on so I don’t lose an idea?? or just to see where my mind goes??…

What if it was a mistake to submit a sample to the genetic testing site?? Or answer their research questions?  What if there’s repercussions in the future?  Thinking of sci-fi stories/movies… Might make an interesting story or post.  Gotta think more about this later.  I’VE GOT TO DO SOMETHING AROUND HERE!!

Not gonna answer the landline. Always some damn telemarketer.  How much longer does Greta (one of our cats) have?? 😦

Eeyore needs Heartworm treatment.

Go vacuum, dammit!

Is this thought pattern typical of most people? Is it normal? Mind goes from big topics to truly little mundane ones….Dusting to Death to Politics to Groceries to….. ALL DAY LONG.

Been wondering why I’m pretty much in the same place I was 15 years ago…Minus boobs and ovaries!

Oh, yeah, there’s THAT.

Which makes me go on another tangent! Back to THIS one!: Brother-in-law said, “You’ll be in the same place 5 years from now”.  Arrogant asshole he was then. Better now because he’s pretty much happier now.  But dammit, 15 years later and STILL facing same issues!!

Except I know now that I most definitely don’t want to die.  Or feel like dying.  I want to live!

But IS THIS LIVING????

Back to the same questions I’ve had most my life.  So I need to figure out what’s been keeping me back.  ADD diagnosis explains a LOT from back when….

SHIT – writing again when I need to CLEAN…which is part of my 15 year block!!

Why, WHY, can’t males put things in trash cans?? Really?? Band-aid strip covers all over guest bath floor – thanks to my son.

My son.  What am I going to do to help my son???

Really want to replace the crusty old fixtures in the guest bath.  Shit.  Really want to completely update and fix all the bathrooms but we’re in debt!!

And WTH are we doing planning for ANY kind of vacation for next summer??  We are essentially BROKE.  Seriously.  When you are in debt, you are POOR!! YOU HAVE NO MONEY!!

Should I get Greta more intravenous fluids?? At this point will it really make a difference for her?  I feel bad looking at her.  Poor girl.  But she’s lived a long time. Love that cat. Should have continued fluids? She hates getting poked with that needle…

Looking at sagging-in-the-middle, beaten up, outdated kitchen…So many things need to be fixed in this house.  Doors.  Floors down to concrete now. Thanks to herd of dogs and cats.  Paint peeling on all the cabinets too easily – way too easily! Mad at previous owners now.

Wow.  I actually can get a lot of stuff done when I get moving!  I remember one blogger who said “motivation follows movement” was her motto when she felt especially stuck. Yes.  Nike’s “Just Do It”, Shia LeBoeuf’s “Just Do It!”   Clichéd or whatever, there may actually be some science behind it.  Once I started physically moving around , I somehow managed to take care of several things around the house.  My brain quit running around all over the place and just thought about the task at hand.  I’ve always been able to tolerate repetitive tasks; like, sorting, creating or finding patterns, knitting, doing one component of a project over and over, pulling weeds… It seems like it calms my mind down somehow.  I really need to get back into that whole “mindfulness” thing that Dr. C. introduced me to.   I wish I could teach it to the rest of my family.  Would help if I practiced it more first, right?

But, once I sit for a moment, like now, I look around and run into wondering if it only FEELS like I got a lot done?? Was it really a lot for the amount of time it took?? 11:30 to 12:48 – what did I do?? Cleaned computers and dining and kitchen tables, vacuumed kitchen and laundry room, washed and dried 2 wine glasses, scooped cat litter, mopped kitchen and laundry room, wiped down washing machine and dryer – something had been spilled or splashed on the doors.  Wait – I did do stuff before plumber got here – so 10:00 until 11:30 cleaned guest bathroom, washed 2 loads of cat beds, vacuumed living room, loaded dishwasher, took out recycling, took stuff to studio that belonged out there.  Is that really “a lot”??

And now, of course, I feel like kicking back because things look “better” and look…The plumber has left! Woohoo!! New shiny clean toilet!!! Still have 2 more to replace. Sigh.

On a roll.  Need to keep going.

Need to look up if Borax powder is harmful to plants.  Also, if one can mix Borax with Vinegar?  Lots of plant pots and need to clean out so I can finally plant in them.  Too many plants on patio that are suffering right now.  Really need to walk dogs.  But it’s so damn hot outside!!  Can’t believe that so many people still don’t believe that our planet is in serious trouble!! What is it going to be like for my grandchildren?  I sometimes think that I should just tell my kids NOT to have kids in the future because I envision even worse misery.  In which case, I probably don’t need to save any of their baby stuff.  Phooey.

Need to redo flower bed in back.  Get cinder blocks instead and move those moss rocks to the front.

Can’t I call it a day and go do something more interesting??  Or am I using all this as an excuse to avoid doing  the things that I keep  saying I really want to do? ( Why would I do that?)  Or do I just not really want to do them?  I’m confused now!  Shit!  Need to get gas before 3 p.m.!

Fuck going to the grocery store.  I’m so tired of running errands.  I just really want a day or two in which I don’t have to go anywhere, get interrupted, see anyone….

But what will  I make for dinner?
I’m tired.
Looks like it might rain.
Sisyphus.
Always Sisyphus.
Can’t think that way again….
Paralyzes me.
Have I become the classic bored housewife??

Lots of people tell me I should get work now that the kids are older.  But there’s lots of reasons that I don’t really want to do that:  1) I actually DON’T enjoy working with or servicing others (unless it’s actually work that provides something immediately to someone in a really dire situation – like the homeless, the poor, the abused, the disadvantaged…)  I probably should have gone into social work all those years ago in college.  What stopped me?  Oh, yeah.  Depression.  Low self-esteem.  Feeling worthless and stupid. Not feeling qualified at all.

Makes me think about my meltdown  yesterday and thoughts about how I’m still feeling “un-credentialed”….at 50!!  For instance, Mom and old issues with her.  Too much in my head again.  Have always been.  As far back as I can remember.  No wonder I don’t get stuff done.  It’s so crowded in here it’s hard as hell to find my way out!!

It’s like there’s all these folders in my head and you open one and there are more sub-folders and these have their own….I can only imagine that everyone’s mind works this way?  And what’s with this compulsion to spit my thoughts out everywhere? I’ve always felt it.

Man, I’d really like to make a painting of these clouds.

Crap! I have thoughts even as I write these thoughts!

Muddled mind.  Crammed mind.  Has always bugged me, annoyed me.  At some point, it always gets to overload and a grey steel wall slams closed down.

Tell me – do we all jump from thought to thought like this?

Jumping spiders.

Just stopped to fill tank up with gas on way to get boys and I was approached by little middle-eastern ? man with head closely shaved, wearing blue jacket, earphones hanging from sides of his head, shorts, clean white socks, tennis shoes, holding a bottle out towards me.  At first didn’t hear him say “for you” like a sommelier presenting a bottle of wine.  “Excuse me?”  He says it again.  Very seriously.  Find myself blurting “I don’t want it”, then “Thank you though!”.  Weird that he didn’t offer it to the white haired lady who got off the bus.  Wonder what’s going on in his mind?  Further on, wondering what that yellow police pylon was doing in the middle of the road between lanes on neighborhood street?  Shouldn’t text OR write while driving!  Behind a student driver – Z is going to be driving soon too!

Mr. Robot – talks to “You” – Just realized I’ve always done that too.  Love this song – The Church “Under the Milky Way”.  Do we all talk to “You”? Do we all have a “You” in our heads?  Am I going to get there on time?  Who am I talking to, writing all this down, scribbling away? Am I only one who analyzes their thoughts once they start paying close attention to them? Can’t be.  Is this “navel gazing”? Yeah. Pretty much. More like “noggin gazing” though.  Stupid.

Don’t think I’ve ever heard this Ramones song: “Howling at the Moon”.  People called them Punk, but they only looked that way to me.  They sounded  – I’m going to be vilified here – more like 50’s doo-wop reworked.  C’mon! “Sha-la-la-la-la”?!  “Oh baby! Oh baby!” ?

Yay! “Burning Down the House” now! Much better.  But flashes me back to basement store of my UWMadison dorm building. Room mate and I in the aisles dancing around underneath neon cigarette signs.  Heads bobbing.

Thoroughly enjoy talking politics with kids. They are far more civilized about it than adults.

Ahh. So nice to walk back into a clean tidy home – too bad that it’s only part of the house. Facing the dreaded bathrooms – UGH.

Weird. Since coming home my mind has been so much quieter.  Granted, I vegged out a bit playing Lumosity games.  The other hour was spent focusing solely on searching places to consider for Z’s birthday brunch.  Got hungry.  Went to kitchen and pulled my salad out of the fridge and thought of nothing else but eating it.  And calling my mom back since she left me a text.  And really nothing else.  Like all the workers went home for the day and closed up shop.  Just doing what I’m doing in the moment.  Eating.  Looking out the window.  Hearing Louis C.K. on J’s iPad and son playing a video game on the TV.  Watching the sun set and birds fly across the sky.

Still need to clean bathrooms.  Feeling strong urge for a glass of wine.  Fighting it because I think part of the reason I was crying at the drop of a pin was because I was approaching the limit of wine intake and it was messing with my meds.

Fed dogs. Fed cats. Got J. to help me with the computer. Now getting caught up with scanning old family photos onto computer.  (Did this and Ancestry.com tree until 3 a.m. with breaks for scooping litter and doing dishes).”

Whew.
Geez.
Making yourself write down every thought throughout the day actually seems to slow your thoughts down.  Sort of.
Damn.
Some practice “stream of consciousness” writing.  I mean, I suppose that’s what this was….I can’t fathom sitting down and doing it as a regular practice though because it seems like it would be too hard to keep up pace! Just writing and writing and writing…… scurrying and scurrying to catch every thought.  And when I’m faced with doing something as an “assignment”, like this, with the overwhelming task of capturing EVERY thought in writing, my mind can often just go deer-in-the-headlights blank.
Weird.

Probably why I’m not a writer.
Like I’d wanted to be every since I was twelve.
Probably why I’m not an artist….
Like I’ve also always wanted to be.
Too many thoughts, too many ideas, too much jumping around in my brain, too much conditioning to be a “responsible daughter, friend, wife, mother, woman, adult”, too much that overwhelms until I just freeze.  And have a breakdown.
And start all over again.

A Vow of Silence

I’ve been thinking about taking a vow of silence.  Just for a day or two. Or a week.

I just get tired of noise sometimes.  Especially when it’s emanating from my own self.
And the visual noise around me is not helping whatsoever. I need to turn it off.

I don’t want to talk today for sure.
The explosion of last night, coupled with a little bit of a hangover, has sapped my usual yappity, yappity.

The only problem is that I will be amongst people today.  Namely my parents.
We are going to be spending the entire day together at the hospital, as we usually do when my father has his chemo appointments.
I don’t mind that.  In fact, I want to be there for both of them.

But today I don’t think I can handle any questions about things that I have and have not done, talk about things that are or are not happening, report on progress that is or isn’t being made in regards to my personal life.  “Have you spoken to H.?  Why haven’t you called him? You know that Z.s Spring Break is right around the corner! H. might not be there to see her!”  “Have you sent an email to A. and D.? Really, you need to do that!!” (Coupled with the usual look of extreme disappointment and dismay and complete befuddlement).  “How is J.?? Is he feeling any better?” “Did you get the paperwork in for I’s school admissions? Did you find out how much financial assistance you can qualify for?” “Is the furniture I gave you still holding up? You still aren’t letting the animals up on it, right???” (Um. They’ve been getting up on it since we got it and despite the fact that we try to keep them off, we’ve failed….).  “Have you got the website up yet?” “When are you going to do that?” (At this point, probably never….) “Are you paying off your debt?” “What’s been going on?”…..

I don’t want to talk. I just need to rest my brain. I need some peace.