Retreat

I’m sitting here, working the fringe benefits allocation and the FICA allocation, and it is taking all of my willpower not to just get up and walk out. I’m not talking about quitting. I’m talking about Just Not Being Here, and I’m not just talking about work. I’m talking about everything.

If I had a magic wand, I would move a week of my vacation time during the holidays to next week. I would spend the next ten days in complete and utter solitude. At home. With the dog.

The exhaustion that I’m suffering right now seems endless. I can’t hardly keep my eyes open, even after a full night’s sleep. I could sleep for a week, I think, before I felt better.

As someone who has stood on the very edge of sanity and looked over the ledge, I can tell you that while I’m okay in the sense that I’m not a danger to myself or other people, I am losing my mind.

There’s a paranoia welling inside me. I take things the worst way possible. When people speak to me, I question their motives. I question their loyalty and allegiance. When I don’t hear from someone, they’re ignoring me, they don’t care anymore, they don’t want me bothering them. When I do hear from someone, I feel pressured. I hate the constant stream of panic and frustration I’m dealing with right now, and I hate exposing people to it. I don’t want to spend all of my free time completely alone, but I fear companionship. I fear making a fool of myself, I fear being talked about behind my back, I’m afraid of becoming- no, I’m afraid that I’ve already become that person, that girl, the subject of irritation and pity and duty.

The slightest imposition, say, my boss expecting me to do my job, or a coworker needing some information, or a two minute chore for my second job- these things make me seethe with resentment and I’m overwhelmed by the pressure to perform and not let this ordeal affect my performance. I don’t want to go to school, and I don’t want to do my homework, and I don’t want to read my textbooks.

So the only thing that gives me comfort right now, that brings me a sense of calm and well-being, is retreating. Hiding from my life, its pressures and demands. Giving up on my social life in hopes that my attachment to people will fade, so that everything can end quietly and be easy for everyone and I can avoid the humiliation and drama that will come from figuring out that people are rolling their eyes at me and hoping I don’t show up to parties and not telling me about events on purpose.

If I have to calm my Mom down one more time, I’m going to quit taking her calls. I know she’s worried, and I know that she’s going to rightfully react with anger when she feels I’ve been wronged, but her energy is AWFUL, HORRIBLE and TOXIC (see, it runs in the family! i just have the sense to see and admit it), and I. CAN’T. HANDLE. IT.

People want to know what’s going on, and I want to tell them, but I get tired of relaying the same awful information over and over and over again, and I want them to want to know, but I find myself wishing that there was just some way to make them know without having to talk about it ALL THE TIME.

I’ve grown to hate talking on the phone. I wish that people would just come see me, come sit on the porch and have a drink and talk about what color I should paint the living room and whether or not we’ll have a lot of snow this winter and what are you doing for the long weekend. My house is pretty far out from town, though, and people don’t come out. A few people come out sometimes, but for the most part, I don’t have company.

So, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to finish these entries and call my HR rep and see if I can’t plan a retreat, before I end up in a straitjacket in the psych ward.

Alone

With all of my peeps at the beach, and the ex out of the house for the weekend, I’ve got a lot of alone time. I was running on a major deficit of alone time, so this is mostly a good thing. I notice the silence, the lack of drinking, dancing, laughing, and causing trouble, and it is just a little sad. Mostly, though, I’m thinking, dreaming, napping and planning. Soaking it up.

This is the calm before the storm, anyway, because school will be starting soon, and I will again be too busy to breathe or think.  I’m going a second round with Biology, if someone forgot to pay their tuition, and I’m also taking Intermediate Accounting (read: fourth ring of hell). I’m excited, though, to start classes again, and I think the Accounting class is on campus. Which is a double edged sword, but it will be good for me to be out and about.

This weekend? It’s lots of lists and reading, watching old movies, taking long, hot baths, and trying to figure out what my life will look like when the dust settles. When the lush green of summer fades to stunning fall color, and I am again the Queen of my castle.

Hell Week

What do you get when you combine less than desirable living conditions, the month end closing, a visit from my boss, and deadlines for tuition and books for fall term? One crazy verybadcat, that’s what. Also, the air card is still not getting a good enough signal at the house, so when I get home, I’m limited to what I can access on my phone.

All that to say, I won’t be around much this week. My goal is to be back on track for TMI Thursday.

In the meantime, you could check out my Ebay auctions, friend me on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter. You know, to stave off the inevitable withdrawal you’ll experience.

Tell me what’s going on with you this week, to make me feel better when I end up waving the white flag and hitting “mark all as read” in my reader.

The Key

“So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains/And we never even know we have the key…”

I love this line from an old Eagles song. It reminds me that the only limitations we really have are the ones we give ourselves. A good natured kick in the ass is almost never a bad thing, you know?

Life has been hard, and I let it drag me down. We all do that sometimes, the current is just too strong, and we are too tired to resist it. Swept downstream, through rapids, banging against rocks. The only way to stop it is to hang on to whatever you can find, as tightly as you can, until you can muster the strength to get out of the water and rest on the bank. I can’t live on the bank, though. It’s a nice place to catch your breath, eat a sandwich maybe, but it’s no place to live.

So then it comes time to find a place to get back into the water. Build a new boat, or patch the one you’ve got. Try to read the water and pick the line you want to run. That’s where I’m at. I’m in an eddy behind some big rocks, surveying what’s downstream and planning my next dance with the current.

I think that the time has come for me to conquer some demons. A few of them have been around far too long, simply because sometimes I’m just to scared to let myself feel the outline of that key in my pocket. The key to the chains I wear, out of some sort of twisted self protection, to ensure that I don’t become too successful or happy.

If I knew why I did this, why any of us lock ourselves up and weigh ourselves down with doubt and fear and shame, I’d never have to work another day of my life as a beancounter.

What I do know is that it’s time to get back in the river.

Biology Sucks

Totally hating my Biology class. Barely passing my biology class. Working on that. I have a point here, though, and it’s not my incredibly bad habit of doing things poorly that I’m not interested in.

Biology, according to my poorly organized textbook, is the study of life. That is the first sentence of the whole book. The rest of it is all about crap I don’t really care about. Cellular respiration. Genetics. The only material that appeals to me is the stuff about plants. Photosythensis, you’ve got my attention. Other than that, all I need to know is that when I eat, I feel better. I don’t need to understand the process on a molecular level.

I find it ironic that Biology is supposedly the study of life. When I look at the coursework, I don’t see anything about love. Or commitment, or loyalty, or friendship, or unpaid bills, or underemployment. Nothing about 401(k) plans beaten bloody, laying on the ground begging for a merciful end. Nothing about endless phone calls from banks who have had their balance sheets restored and still want blood from a turnip. Nothing about family being the meanest people in your life when they are supposed to be your greatest supporters (this is not about me). I don’t see a word on what to do about car repairs you can’t afford, or groceries that don’t last the two weeks they are supposed to.

We never have assignments about finding the time for all our commitments. How to make enough money to live on more than a hope and a prayer. Dealing with friends you thought were life long, deep and true and the pain and shame and humiliation of finding out that you were more disposable than you ever could have guessed- this isn’t on the final. Neither is healing a heart that you didn’t break, but that certainly is yours to fix.

Or what to say to people when they’ve been hurt deeply by someone they love. Or how to hold the tears back when you find out that your general belief that everything comes out of the wash at some point is really just a load of bullshit.

On the brighter side, we also haven’t covered anything good about life in Biology. Like vodka and lemonade on poker nights with good friends, and laughing so hard your face muscles hurt the next day. Blogger meet ups in new cities and finding someone who hearts the Cracker Barrel like you do. There’s no quiz on that feeling of love and security and deep peace that comes from falling asleep in someone’s embrace, legs all wound up in each other, knowing that you’ll do this most nights for the rest of your life. Or in hearing that your Mom’s eyebrows have finished growing back. The joy of making peace with your ghosts and your demons, of feeling more comfortable being who you are regardless of what it costs you. Not even the hope that comes with the dogwood and forsythia blooming, with pretty yellow daffodils nodding at me from the side of the road, with the smell of wet earth waking up from a long deep sleep.

If only Biology really was the study of Life, it would be my favorite class.

Fate, Kismet and Finality

Once upon a time, I was living in Atlanta. I was an accounting clerk with a small but successful company. My boss was one hell of a mentor, and I owe my level of functioning in my field to him.  Then WH managed to wrangle a transfer to Asheville. I resigned, and in doing so, I turned down a counter offer- a delicious salary, tuition reimbursement, and a practically guaranteed career path. Most people in my life never heard about that. I was ashamed to admit that I turned down such an opportunity to live somewhere we had always dreamed of living.

We were here for a week or two when I took a temporary position in civil service. The position had the potential to go permanent, but I couldn’t stand it. A week into it I was calling recruiters on my breaks, begging them to find me something else.

My recruiter called my current employer on the day that the Accounting Manager put her notice in. They used the same software I used back in Atlanta. I interviewed. They hired me. The payables clerk was promoted to accounting manager, and I became the new payables clerk. Not ninety days later, the new Accounting Manager put her notice in. The owner of the company found and hired a replacement.

She never showed up. I did both jobs for two or three months. WH told me that I was about to get the mother of all promotions. So did my parents. So did anyone who knew what was going on. No, no, I assured them- I don’t have an education. He can’t promote me. He just can’t. He needs someone with a Bachelor’s degree. Shut. up. already. At one point, the owner came right out and admitted that he would love to promote me, but that he just couldn’t.

He changed his mind. He did promote me. He and his partner took a huge risk and bet on me. They hired a payables clerk and sent me to school. They believed in me, and in doing so, they reversed the course of my life. They gave me the opportunity to be more than a girl with a knack for bookkeeping, a GED, and a serious case of shame. They gave me the opportunity I lost out on- to further my education. To prove that I am Someone. They gave me a second chance at life. They gave me raises, raises that made my dream of owning a home a reality.

I’m sure they doubted their decision now and then, especially in the beginning. Hell, I doubted their decision sometimes. They raised me, in a business sense. Taught me how to stand up for myself without being disrespectful. Guided me into finding myself professionally. Served up hard and painful lessons I did not want to learn.

Today, the former owner of the company is retiring. I will still see him periodically. Our relationship changed when he sold us over a year ago. But today is the end of knowing that he is here, around, accessible. Today is his last day of work in the traditional sense.

He will be missed. To some degree, his authority, his presence, his nagging about this or that will not be missed, not in the least, and to that end, there is some relief in the totality of the transition. His nature, though, his guidance and his personality- those things I will miss dearly.

A year after he rocked my world from top to bottom, I’ve found my place in the new company. I’ve proven my mettle to the extent that they’ve retained me in my position and continue to invest in my education and pay my mortgage. One might say I’ve outgrown him now. He’s outgrown us, that’s a surety. He’s ready for sunny afternoons on the golf course and giving his lovely wife back some of the hours she sacrificed to make this company what it was- what it is.

I’d like to think that I taught him some things too. Like not to judge a book by its cover. Or that determination is more important, sometimes, than maturity or education.  I guess maybe that’s the guilt speaking; if I brought something to the table, perhaps I have in some sense repaid him, in part, for what he’s given me. Because the enormity of the opportunity he laid at my feet brings tears to my eyes and steals my breath.

I believe in fate. I believe that people are brought into our lives. We are brought to them. To learn something. To experience something. To be enriched. I can only hope that I have returned to him what he’s brought me, in some small measure.

Congratulations, farewell, and thank you. From the bottom of my heart.

Trying

This weather is trying my patience. We got 6 or 7″ of snow at the house, and I have nary a picture for you, because it was cold and windy outside, and today is Day 1 of the closing, so I had to ask WH to attempt the drive under conditions that we normally would not have risked. The parking lot here is an ice rink. It’s a damn good thing I keep my food stock here at the office at Apocalypse levels, or I would starve today.

We’re trying to spend less time in front of the tv, and the computer, which explains my lack of weekend presence. We’re trying to spend more quality time together, talking and snuzzling and doing things together instead of alone. Our date on Friday night rocked, and so did having company at the grocery store.

We’re trying to be cleaner at home. Keeping the dishes and laundry under control, so they don’t reach critical mass. WH is working on turning the garden as the weather allows, and we’ve got the garden plan done, working on the seed plan this week, to start seedlings next week? Our screened in porch has been cleaned within an inch of its life and is ready for sunny afternoons and balmy evenings.

I’m trying to do a better job with my classes, spending at least an hour a day studying and not waiting till the last minute to get my assignments done and exams taken.

I’m trying to work on work while I’m here, and not work on work when I am not. I’m trying to get the closing organized and under control so that it doesn’t bring me to my knees. I’m trying to find a routine and a rhythm with the side job so that it doesn’t stress me out.

I’m trying to better manage my time. I created a schedule for WH and I. I thought he puked in his mouth a little at the sight of it. It divides the day into half hour increments for both of us, and while I hardly think we’ll stick to such a stringent schedule, it gives us a good idea of what we should be doing when, and a framework to return to when chaos ruins it and slinks off into the sunset again.

WH is trying to squeeze as many hours out of Large Department Store as possible. So far, its working, but he gave up an appointment at Large Big Box store to work last week. If they cut his hours after they purposely screwed him out of a job interview, I’m going up there. Just sayin.

I’m trying to do the best we can with the money we have, keeping things turned on and mostly current and all of that. Oh, and you know, buying food. Because if there is one thing neither WH and I do well at? It’s not eating.

Speaking of not eating, I am trying to cram as much food as possible into my poor, broken mouth. My root canal is a week from today, and when it’s done, I’m going to have boiling hot soup and coffee for lunch and ice cream for dessert.

I’ll be trying to start working out again in the morning, to hopefully counteract the eating BINGE I foresee when the #5 is fixed. Also? I don’t know that I will ever use a straw again……..

So. We are trying.