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.

Pictures and Presents

You simply must see what arrived in my mailbox a few days ago….

i wish the internet had smellovision...

i wish the internet had smellovision...

Someone… someone whom I have a deep set adoration for knows my penchant for hot baths. So she loaded me up with a ton of Raspberry Mango Tango bath stuff and lip gloss too, for good measure. As if that wasn’t enough?! She also sent me something of a sampler pack of her other flavors and scents. Get your hands on some of this stuff. Seriously. It’s like heaven in your bathtub.

I also thought I would share some office pics. You know, where the magic happens.

this why they call my office "the jungle"...

this why they call my office "the jungle"...

Yes, that is an electric tea kettle sitting on top of my mini fridge. I’m one of those.

my kingdom for a trellis...

my kingdom for a trellis...

Picture 005

Please to notice the growed up office chair and the mirror on the wall by the door, perfect for putting my makeup on before I go out at night, and not a minute sooner. 😉

internet, meet b!

internet, meet b!

This is the view from the door. B is pretty much always in that chair. I’m not sure she doesn’t sit there all night while I’m at home asleep….

uh, how did facebook get onto my work monitor? ;)

uh, how did facebook get onto my work monitor? 😉

This is the exact view that I enjoy for the majority of my waking hours. Life certainly could be worse.

As scintillating as I’m sure you’re finding this, I only have one more photo for you. It’s important though.

"Cats seem to go on the principle that it never does any harm to ask for what you want."

"Cats seem to go on the principle that it never does any harm to ask for what you want."

Since you can’t read the words at the bottom, I made it the caption. I find this piece very indicative of my nature, and that’s why I’m so compelled to share it with you. My boss got a good laugh out of it.

There you have it. Pictures and presents, and now you know what my office looks like.

By the way, do you need a wedding dress?

Happy Friday, lovelies!

Staycation Salad

  • Vodka + cream= trouble, even if it has Caramel Bailey’s in it and tastes really yummy.
  • Don’t let old guys buy you shots at the piano bar.
  • If you pack an overnight bag? Maybe you should see that you have it at the place where you spend the night.
  • The cell repeater is out at the house, so that’s why I’ve been kinda MIA this week.
  • Don’t give your bestie a bite of your rocky road ice cream if she’s allergic to walnuts. Killing the bestie= bad move.
  • Good friends will invite you out on the town. Excellent friends will put you to bed on the couch after.
  • Sometimes you can get away with parking in a tow zone.
  • Don’t break things in bar bathrooms. If you do accidentally break something? FLEE.
  • I have a personal fashion consultant now. No more buying clothes without prior approval. 😉 Particularly bikinis.
  • When your friends call you off of the couch, even if it’s your third night in a row, even if you can’t drink because you’re taking Sudafed for the sniffles, GO. Because street festivals only come once a year, and the next thing you know, you’re giggling over hashbrowns and thinking to yourself “Thank God I decided not to stay home and watch SATC reruns.”  😉
  • If you have so many family and friends checking in and checking up on you that you can’t hardly keep caught up on your correspondence? You’ve got better problems than most.
  • When your Auntie sends you pocket money, go get ice cream with a friend. Because that’s what pocket money is for.

Friday Salad

I was driving to work this morning, in my still-damp car. (If you’re my friend on the Facebook, or you follow me on Twitter, you already know I left my windows down during the mother of all thunderstorms yesterday afternoon.) My CD player was screwing up, so I switched CDs, since this usually “fixes” it. (I’m a girl, with no mechanical inclination.) The CD I pulled out was an old favorite from my childhood, and no, I will not tell you what it was, because it’s irrelevant and embarrassing.

The music poured out of the speakers- music from the long, long, long ago. Before we moved from Michigan to Atlanta. Before I lived without my Dad for three years. Before high school.  Before having to start over in a new region, a new state, a new city and a new culture. Before MH. When I was a child. When I was still a child (as much as I have ever been a child, which is debatable.) Before moving out on my own. Before marriage. When there was no cancer, when there was no mortgage (for me to pay at least), when I still thought I would be a teacher or a flight attendant when I grew up. When things were a lot more simple. Or at least they seemed that way.

My thoughts wandered to my sister. To the one person who would understand these songs, the lyrics, the words. To the one person who would dance with me to this music, who has seen nearly everything I have since then, albeit through different eyes. I thought about my upcoming trip to Atlanta, back to the little town I finished growing up in, back to my sister. To be there for her as her boyfriend’s urn is interred in the local cemetery.

We’ve been taking care of each other for twenty four years now, since she was born, and while I’ve done most of the care taking, she’s held her own. We’ve certainly had our differences, and when we have, there hasn’t been enough space in one state for the both of us, much less one room or one house. In trademark style, however, we are now as close and protective and supportive as we once were embittered and mired in resentment and hatred.

When I think of that, I can’t bear for one second the thought of only ever having one child, and preventing them from ever knowing all that I’ve learned and have in our sisterhood.

This trip already feels epic. The reason we’re going- the last step in putting someone to rest, and another step in helping someone find some peace. Reuniting with old friends, after years of living our own lives and having only memories between us. Realizing that those connections to the past run a little closer and deeper than we thought. Seeing my father again, oh, it’s been too long. Way too long. This is MH’s first visit since April’s tragedy, and though that pain has lessened some, there’s still just a little unfinished business there that he will attend to, I’m sure. Having him there somehow rights some of the wrong I felt in being there alone last time.

A friend from the blogosphere is doing something incredible for me. I can’t and won’t discuss it yet. It amazes me sometimes, the way that people take care of each other. The way that people take care of me.

The present and the past and the future are all melding together in some sort of cosmic soup that is comforting, yet strange, welcome, yet frightening. The overriding emotion I’m left with is a mix of nostalgia and gratitude, with a touch of wonder.

The people in my life are incredible and amazing. My family (most of them, anyway, and most of all my husband), my childhood friends, my long time friends, my new friends, friends I’ve never hugged or shared a knowing glance with but that have carved out a place in my heart. People I’ve only just met whom I already adore. Friends that I’m getting to know better and love more.

Whatever else I don’t have, whatever else I’m in danger of losing, I can’t help but weep with gratitude to have such incredible people in my life. Having their support as a shield from this often cruel world, and their love as a balm for my wounds is what makes me believe in tomorrow, in forever, in love and luck and fate and meaning and justice. They are my faith and my hope, and those are two things I’m holding very dear lately.

Turning the profound meter down a few notches, we have weekend plans. I have no idea what we’re doing tonight, and I’ll tell you- as much as I love me some planning, it’s kind of nice to not already know how the night will turn out.

Tomorrow night, we’re going to another bonfire. Because last week’s was too much fun not to do it again, you know? Of course you know.

I’m out of the office all next week. This is incredibly exciting, if only because I’m my own timekeeper. I love a good break from the rat race.

We don’t leave for Atlanta until midweek, so that’s four days of lazy homemade bliss.

Don’t worry about missing me, lovelies, because I’m taking you with me. I could never leave you.

What I Want

Okay, internets. It’s immaturity time. I put all that wisdom in my hope chest, today it’s time to make a list of things I want. Just in case God or the Universe or some rich person that is just smitten with me is reading.

  • An entire day spent under hot sun, near cool water, with a bottle of Banana Boat tanning oil, a comfy lounge chair, soft fluffy beachtowels, and a neverending vodka and pineapple juice. Fuck the book- I don’t even want to exert that much mental energy. The entire purpose would be to soak in all the vitamin D possible, and taking the “office chalk” skin down to a “she was outside, once,  at some point” level.
  • To place a $50 order at drugstore.com that has been wish listed for eons. I just wanna send the whole list to my cart and hit CHECKOUT.
  • I want a hot tub. Because if I could come home from work and get into a hot tub every night? I might be the happiest girl in the world.
  • I want an extra $800 a month that no one in the household has to work for. Rich people have this- they just get random checks for shit. Assets and investments and stuff.  Sign me up.
  • I want everyone, including me, to have a light planted in their forehead. It would activate when you were looking at someone, and if you were happy with them and you cared about them, it would light green. If you were getting on their nerves a little, but they didn’t totally hate you, it would be yellow, and if you were trying to engage someone in conversation that was just absolutely annoyed and disgusted with you, it would be red. So you could walk up to people, look at the light, see it being red, and turn right the hell around. Think of how much time we all could save. And awkwardness.
  • I want to take a cozy, half naked, favorite blanket nap, in the middle of the afternoon, and I want to be woken up to a yummy dinner. Don’t care what dinner, as long as it’s the first thing I smell when I get woken up, and it’s easy to clean up.
  • Pretty, comfy, non flip flop sandals to wear to work.
  • A few sundresses.
  • For all the animals to be happy and healthy all at once. No worms, no boo boos, no fights, no getting stuck down in the basement and wailing at the top of their kitty cat lungs.
  • For my friend to get out of the hospital so that I don’t have to go visit him tomorrow and see him all tubey and sick and wormy.
  • For my Mom to be stricken with some strange ailment that prevents her from speaking. EVER.
  • More than one pair of shorts.
  • A whole day with my friends- going out to breakfast, window shopping, pedicures, and sushi. Booze, too.
  • Prescriptions that never expire or run out of refills for Ativan and Flexaril.
  • A credit account at the ABC store.
  • A large, lush herb garden.
  • Some kind of foot cleansing device that would prevent me from bringing pet hair and rhododendron bloom trash into my tub on the bottom of my feet.

What do you want?

Wonderful Horrible

I’m a person of extremes. I run hot and cold. There’s an oscillation from productive and organized to melodramatic trainwreck that I go through. The crazier things are, the quicker and steeper the cycles. When my life is calm, the wavelength slows until stiff peaks stretch into rolling hills.

Life is crazy right now, for so many different reasons. This year, thus far, has been wracked with pain, loss and sickness, financial strain, and heartache. Sadly, I’m not speaking only of myself- it seems far reaching and all-encompassing, a blanket of misery, thin but still heavy, laying over everything and everyone as far as I can see. It’s gray and dingy and scratchy. The warmth of it is a little too much, like when you wake up with a light film of sleep sweat on your skin. Getting out of bed gives you the chills because you’re actually damp all over.

Despite how dire and dark things have been, incredible things are happening all around us. There is love, there is comfort, camaraderie, the depth of old friendship, the sweetness of new friendship. Stolen moments full of fun, or meaning, or the simple pleasure of existing. Windows of hope in a sea of futility. How does one process exquisite pain and joy at the same time?

My house, figuratively and literally, is too small not to bump into pink elephants. The strange thing is that the peaks and valleys are overlapping each other, running in together, coming so furiously and with such force that I often feel weather worn by the end of the day.

I would suppose that the former drives us to the latter; we look for comfort, meaning, camaraderie and fun in the midst of uncertain times. Somehow that doesn’t lessen the intensity of the experience. If anything, it magnifies the sharpness of it all. I am deeply grateful for my life, filled to the gills with worry and sorrow, and fiercely determined to keep it all from collapsing at my feet. All of that fitting into one ragged breath and racing pulse, over and over, all day and night.  A constant ache as the gratitude and fear keep my heart strings pulled tight.

Just like a harp, or perhaps more fitting, a fiddle, the sounds made by pulling those strings is hauntingly beautiful. A ballad fully formed, with love and hope and sorrow and desperation in a few chorus and verses. The kind of song that you listen to with the windows thrown open on a late night drive, letting the lyrics and melody bring tears to your eyes and a lump in your throat.

There’s a time warp quality to it, as weeks seem to take days, but minutes take hours. There’s an inertia, a resistance in every detail. Knowing that insomnia will only make things worse, but being unable to will myself to rest. Knowing that emotion and panic will drain my energy, but being unable to stand as the waves of desperation and frustration knock my feet out from under me and drag me face first into the shore. Understanding that I need to eat more, to eat better, but not feeling well or not hungry for anything.

Moments of respite come in irregular intervals. I’m hungry and everything tastes good, I’m sleepy and tired and the bed feels perfect underneath me, the weight of the covers calms my thoughts and I sleep long and deep. Distance is gained from the emotional storm and I’m offered a logical aerial view of my life, thoughts and feelings. Hope bubbles just under the blanket, a strong current pushing against it but doing little more than creating pockets and ripples that lack the force and fruition to peel it back, wad it up, put a good hole in it.

When people ask me how I am, or how I’m doing, and they really want an answer, I generally say that I’m here, or that I’m hanging on, or that it could be worse but it sure as hell could be better.

Would you understand what I meant if I just said wonderful horrible?

The Ties That Bind

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about love. What makes people love one another? What makes that bond strong enough to overcome conflict, loss of proximity, difficult circumstances and individual growth? Marriages, friendships, romances, family- what’s the magic sauce that keeps people together and happy about it?

My relationship with my parents has been rocky, to say the least. My father and I have had our differences, but there’s always been a strong bond between us. My mother is a whole other story. I made the decision to love her and honor her regardless of the checkered past we have, and I had to do that first, before real forgiveness came years later (for the most part). Our bond is stronger now than I think it’s ever been, but it still doesn’t hold a candle to my relationship with my father.

I fell in love with MH hard and fast. There was this incredible chemistry between us instantly, the first night we met. It had to be mostly physical attraction; we did not have a basis at that point for much of anything else. As we started dating, talking, doing things together, doing nothing together- that chemistry deepened and widened.  We talked about everything- everything- and began to find that we fit together like pieces to a puzzle. Our compatibility is in the major things in life, and our differences are in the details, in our daily lives, in our reactions and perspectives and personalities. One of our inside jokes is that if for some reason we ever divorced, that we wouldn’t ever stop sleeping together and talking all the time. That’s how strong our bond is- he is my husband, and will always be, but if he wasn’t, he would still be a part of me.

I have friends, a wide variety of people, with varying degrees of closeness. Some of those friends are old, old friends. Some are pretty new. There are people I’ve stayed in contact with, or reestablished contact with after losing physical proximity. There are those friends that you can call after not speaking for months (or years!) and pick up right where you left off. There are those few, precious friends who can read my heart by looking in my eyes. Friends who make words unnecessary, friends who hold my hand figuratively even when it isn’t literally possible.

There are other friendships that have faded over time, that distance (physical or emotional) or circumstances or conflict have taken the life and breath out of the relationship. What’s the difference? What makes people bond so well, or not at all?

I like to have an answer, or at least a theory when I post about the deep stuff. Somehow it doesn’t seem fair to pose a question and not throw my answer out there. The problem is, I can’t bring that feeling of being connected into words. There’s something ethereal about it; it’s a palatable feeling that is either present or absent. It’s one of the most important things in life, that’s for damn sure.