Tuesday, December 5, 2017

anxiety

a few weeks ago i was sitting in my living room on a nice quiet evening, watching the great british bake off on netflix, nice and mellow, and all of a sudden BOOM: massive anxiety attack.

i had just been offered a part time job and was working over a new budget and suddenly FREAKED OUT. full on tears, chest pain, full on panic: OH MY GOD. HOW AM I GOING TO SURVIVE ON A SINGLE MOM BUDGET?

yes, how am i, the single mother, who has survive on a single mother budget for the last 20 years, going to keep surviving now on a single mother budget?

that's right. i retro-actively freaked out about the last 20 years of my life.

i told myself i should have been kicked out of every apartment i lived in...it takes 2 people to pay the rent more often than not. I SHOULD HAVE FAILED.

2 people working full time can barely make ends meet...HOW AM I GOING TO AFFORD ANYTHING?

well, let's see...my kids never went naked, our power was never shut off, they never went hungry...

it's a special kind of crazy that makes you panic about something you've already done. FOR TWENTY YEARS.

this has been my mind the last few months...never. ending. anxiety.

i've battled with depression. i've battled fear. i can't remember a time i wasn't under some kind of stress. i've dealt with domestic violence, divorce, sick kids, family dying. this isn't the first time i've left a "career" job. this isn't the first time i've taken a part time job. this isn't my first go round with lonely holidays. this isn't my first run in with a moody hormonal teenager.

i'm older. i've been seasoned, earned my grey hair (that i immediately colored over).

SO WHAT THE FUCK?

anxiety man. it's the worst of it all. it's this never ending voice of terror. of destruction. of certain doom. it's this constant sound track of every. single. thing. wrong. that i've done in my life. it's a constant slow motion replay of every. single. decision. over the last 6 months reviewing every one over and over and over and over. it's every horrible thing i've ever thought about myself BLARING over a megaphone all day long and even in my dreams. 

all my writing has ground to a heartbreaking stop. i have so many project i want to finish but i just...can't right now and it's making me so mad.

i've cried more in the last few months than i have in a LONG time.

we got a new puppy this weekend and it's been CONSTANT terror the last few days that i can't handle it. a puppy. i have myself convinced that i can't handle a puppy.

i believe, i really do believe, that things happen at a specific time for a specific reason. i believe in the balance of the universe. i believe that things happen when they're meant to, that there's lessons to be learned in every experience.

i believe that out of all the jobs i applied for and interviewed for, there's a reason this job was offered to me. THIS is where i need to be right now.

so why can't i quit questioning it and worrying about it? why can't i stop looking online at indeed and craigslist to see what else is out there?

i believe that out of all the jobs, state jobs, corporate jobs, big businesses, small businesses, government jobs, out of ALL the possibilities over the last few months, THIS is the place for me.

can you believe and not believe something at the same time?

i know the universe is SCREAMING at me to just trust myself.

and i just can't do it.

JUST WRITE. GET IT OUT THERE.

and then the doubt and questions and hate start.

so what if i finish writing something? what's that going to do? it's not like it's going to be something that i can make a living at. do you know how many people WORK for YEARS to make a living at writing? and i think that whatever hack job i throw out into the universe is actually going to be anything more than a blip?

WHO CARES IF IT ISN'T A MILLION DOLLAR BOOK DEAL? haven't i always said that as long as ONE person connects with it, it's worth it?

SO WHAT THE FUCK IS MY PROBLEM?

i've been trying to meditate more. find a calm space for my mind free of judgement and hate and anxiety.

spoiler alert: quiet time just means all the negative voices have less to compete with and get louder.

i worked my way through the meditation basics on the headspace meditation app a few times. even with the guided meditation i still haven't been able to shut off the anxiety spiral for more than a few minutes at a time.

anxiety man.

it's a whole different beast than depression.

it's way fucking meaner. just a relentless. it's much more active than depression. anxiety is like depression on meth: all the horrible thoughts, seventeen times the speed ricocheting around your brain! it's an endless choose your own adventure OF TOTAL DESTRUCTION. no happy endings here kids, no matter how many different ways you follow the rabbit trails. go ahead. try EVERY option. NOPE. still terrible.

and i know i'll figure it out. always have. always will. it hasn't always been stars and rainbows and pots of gold, but i've made it through the last twenty years. i can make it through this too.

i'm not giving up, as much as...whatever it is in there is screaming how much easier that would be.

i'll research. i'll keep trying. i'll keep kicking cans until i find an answer for this new challenge.

man. you have to give credit where credit is due.

just when i thought i had shit dialed in and on the right track. just when i thought i had figured out the tricks to my own mental health and how to catch myself when i'm slipping and get myself back on track...life was like OH REALLY BITCH? TRY THIS FASTBALL THEN.

just when i was like- i'm going to take three months to make shit happen! make myself the best i've ever been! spend time on me! chase dreams! believe in yourself! DO IT!

then life was like...but first...

and, somewhere in the deep corners of my brain, there's a theory percolating: ok. so. if life is so scared of you becoming healthy and being your best self that it has to distract you THIS HARD, what kind of fucking powerhouse of awesome does it know you are? and what happens if you are finally able to actually believe that and tap into it? if you can get past these distractions, if you can do what you set out to do...

what if anxiety is like the boyfriend that constantly puts you down because he knows once you stop listening to him and realize how awesome you actually are he doesn't stand a chance in hell...

huh.

given my track record you think i'd be much better at kicking a crappy boyfriend to the curb.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

the grandiose late night thoughts

this is a journey of finding who i want to be, not WHAT i want to be.

when i can find the WHO, everything else will fall into place.

i want to take three months and i want to learn me. no stress about work. stop worrying what the teenager thinks. he's taken care of. he's loved. this journey is not putting him at any risk.

i've never consciously set on a path. i've reacted or grabbed out of desperation, but i've never had the head-space, the insight. i've never taken the luxury of contemplation.

intellectual vs. emotional: my nature is emotional but my environment had forced intellectual/logical. cold. basic. defend-able. i've learned to depend on those.

take religion: religion just was my childhood. i memorized the bible verses. i studied. i learned the details. i attended, regularly, unquestioned. it was just what i did. i know the details. i know the history. i know the information. but i lack the spirit of it. i went to camp. i remember the group experience feel of it. i remember vividly telling myself that i didn't need to cave to the pressure of everyone else having a big spiritual moment. i remember being one of the last ones left in the bleachers during a particularly dramatic altar call. i was there. i did it. but i didn't FEEL it.

i've always searched for the FEEL part of things but been able to logically explain it away when i didn't find it. the few times i did find it, or thought i did, the fizzle was fast and the reasons or excuses plenty.

now i'm starting to actually find it, but i'm not sure how to let myself trust the emotion over the logic for once.

meditation, writing, music. those are the FEELING. i need to allow them. trust them. believe they are real and not try to explain them away or discount them out of existence.

i want to learn to be at peace with myself. allow my intellectual and emotional to share a space. allow them to exist together. not have one shaming the other. intellectual is so cold and mean. emotional is too hippie and out of control. one is rigid. one is flaky. we need rules and structure. you need responsibility and order. you can allow yourself to be free for once. you don't need to be on the set path.

it will be ok.

it will be ok. it will be ok.

even if bad things happen.

i mean fuck, bad things have already happened. there's already been hurt. there's already been chaos and mayhem and restarting and WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED.

and i'm still here.

i can do this. i can do whatever this thing is. this allowing myself to be. this allowing myself to try.

purpose. voice. the print i want to leave outside myself. my contribution. my way to make it a little better for the next person.

i'm so lucky to get this opportunity. this experience. to not have to plod along. to get that chance to stick my head above the crowd and get a glimpse of all that's out there. i don't have to do the job i hate to get by. i get a chance to be a maker of things. the thing so many scramble and are so passionate about. THE DREAM. i get to try for the dream, not just survive and talk about it late at night after too much whiskey and remember when.

the dancer working all day just to dance and practice at night. working to pay the bills but not giving up on the dream. pushing to get the break, the chance. getting distracted or worn out or derailed along the way. flashdance. coyote ugly. august rush. all the movies of someone fighting to make it and not give up.

I GET THAT CHANCE. but...like...the easy version of that chance. and i'd better not fucking waste it.

all the stars are aligned. in this one moment so there's literally no distractions or excuses for me. this is my moment. i can't blame work for making me tired. i can't blame needed money for work. i can't blame life/teenager for needing things that take the money that require the work that makes me tired.

there's literally nothing standing in my way besides me. 

i don't know what's going to be on the other side of 3 months. i don't know if it's a book or the ability to say i tried. maybe it's all for the process of learning who i am when i trust myself. maybe it's just for the learning to trust myself. maybe just the learning to push through the fear and not giving up.

maybe it's in the awareness of the process. maybe it's learning i don't have to explain or defend, i can just do.

i owe no one a justification of why.

and how many people get this chance? how many want to? how many would give eye teeth for this window?

i'm surrounded by people who are all on their own path to enlightenment. i'm so incredibly lucky to have people all around that know this path or at least recognize it. they are aware and accepting and encouraging. there's no shame or judgement. just encouragement. they  get it.

so who do i constantly feel the need to defend it to? there's a question for another time.

i feel like i'm always playing catch up actually. like i missed some elemental part of growing up. going straight from teenager to parent i missed the bit of searching for enlightenment until now. i missed the learning curve of unencumbered young adult. when the consequences are only your own. i couldn't take the risks when there were people fully dependent on me. just not my style. the logical won over the emotional for so many years.

and now i'm 37 and just looking for and just beginning to find the enlightenment. and i judge myself quite harshly for that. for not learning to like myself sooner. smarter, more together people have already had these revelations. i'm late to the game. it makes me not as good. if i were better i would already know this. i'm judging myself for not already being better. i'm judging myself on feeling that i'm missing something instead of appreciating that i'm aware enough to know what that feeling is and work on correcting it. i need to celebrate the desire to go looking at all. i want to appreciate that i'm finding it now. at all. not compare to others speed. i want to celebrate that we've all found this piece, regardless of when we each arrived at the existential party. at least we're all here.

i feel mad at teacher for already knowing what they're teaching. i'm jealous of the original people that had the genesis thought all on their own. i'm in awe of songwriters and musicians. i'm jealous of their ability to create instead of enjoying the music. how do they do it? how do they create out of thin air? i shame myself for their extraordinary ability not being mine.

i get mad at Buddha for his ability to discover and articulate and develop all these mind shifting concepts on his own instead of buying all the books or having to learn from a teacher. i envy him.

i want to have the original thought. the transformative  idea. the first to scribe the verse. the first to create the shift. i want to create the splash instead of riding the ripple. i want that indelible unique thumbprint. i want that shakespeare, dillon, jobs flash of lightning in a bottle.

i want to be the idea being discussed instead of the one discussing the ideas.

i want to resonate and connect.

i want to be the fucking quote on the plaque in walmart instead of the one buying the damn thing.

i want to be the oracle. i want to be the one people come to. i want to be the crazy old shaman in the village. i want to be used and useful in helping people. i want to be the fixer. i want the insight and the intuition.

i need to recognize that the crazy old lady in the village wasn't born that way. it was a process. she was born with the desire and she took the opportunity to observe and learn. she was aware and gained her wisdom from years of watching and experiencing and being willing to learn. she searched and watched and asked questions. she had an open mind and the ability to see the difference in things. she learned to articulate the minutia that makes the difference. she learned, most importantly, to listen. to listen to herself, her own voice. she learned to be still and quiet and trust. she learned to not only hear other people but listen to what they are saying. she learned to go beyond their words to their catalysts, their spurs, their intentions. she's able to see several perspective, how all the pieces fit together or could fit together. it takes a lifetime of learning to become the old person.

there's a big difference between experiencing and doing. the awareness and attention in the moment. the ability to plug in the emotional instead of functioning in the intellectual and logical.

i've done things for years. the physical experience of things. i've attended funerals. i've done the proper standing up part, did the motions as needed. held it together, checked things off the list, accomplished the task. but did i experience the funeral? i accepted the flag. i went to the graveside. i spread the asked. but did i stop to fully consider lives that had ended? did i think about holidays never being the same again? did i think about wedding plans permanently altered? did i think about all the future birthday calls and dinners that wouldn't happen? did i consider all the coworkers that would have a shift in their daily life? did i experience the shift? the change in the shape and picture of the puzzle? i did it. i made it through. but do i even know what it was i made it through?

i've always focused on mechanics over emotions. but i want to learn.

i want to experience so i can pass it on.

i want to take my lessons, my hurts, my experiences and find a way to put them into words that other people can understand and learn from.

how many times have i stood quietly to the side gobsmacked by something that i just couldn't wrap my brain around? the words just didn't make sense. i couldn't grasp or retain the concept. i coudn't learn in that moment. i lost the lesson.

like the damn graphs in geometry. i've had it explained over and over but i still can't tell you how to figure out the rise over run. i can't tell you what quadrant of the graph the line needs to be in, which direction it points or at what slope.

like accounting. debits and credits seems so simple but fuck if i can keep them straight. profit and loss statements make my brain hurt at their mere mention.

chemistry however...it eluded me for so long until i found that magic key. the certain arrangement of words, explanation, that certain translation that just HIT and stuck and made sense. i went from staring blankly at my chem 101 book hating all that i could find to hate in a small community college classroom to not just understanding but being able to explain it to others and finding an impromptu study group smashed into my tiny apartment because i wan't the only one that couldn't understand but i was suddenly the one that could help it make sense.

and i want to do that for life. divorce, death, domestic violence, parenting, parents, family, work, life.

i want to be the wise old woman that survived and learned and taught. i want to leave a print. i want my experiences to be worth something. i want to function and talk and teach.

i want to use my words, my writing to do that.

just type already

i've gone over the way to start this a million times in my head. all of them a million times better than this.

i've been writing. physically writing. pages and pages in my journal. beautiful, powerful, insightful things. grandiose belief statements, insightful goals and desires.

i want to believe them. i really do.

but when i go back to actually type the words, to say them again to myself in my head, they just...they're too grandiose. i'd have to be an absolute lunatic to honestly believe what i've written just a few days ago.

and there in is the struggle. i really WANT to believe it. it's my own words after all. it's my own thoughts.

but after the ink has had time to dry on the page, it just...

it's been a bit of a brutal few weeks. i've been to several job interviews only to never hear from them again (positive or negative, just let me know). i've been bullshitted on reasons for being passed over for jobs (don't tell me you're short staffed, down managers, can't cover shifts but then decided to promote within. that doesn't stick). unemployment was denied because office culture wasn't a good enough reason to quit (so go ahead with your prejudice and harassment).
 
it's been a bit of a blow to the ego. you know? it just reinforces so many of the terrible things i already think of myself.

being passed over to work in a book store was a particularly tough hit.

then i made the mistake of calling my brother. i had a message to give to him and i intended to to ask him if, in light of all the news media covering harassment, if *MAYBE* he at least believe me enough now to protect his daughter. i relayed the message, but really chickened out on the second half. instead i just got a lecture on how if nothing has changed i really shouldn't bother calling him.

oh, and that writing thing...do i actually think anyone is going to read it?

ouch.

and i know. listening to the two cents of someone who didn't even have a clue i was a writer until i was LATE in my 20's...probably not the person to put stock in. but he is family. there's something...an approval. some bullshit that i just...need. it makes absolutely zero sense. it's holds none of the markers of someone that i would normally listen to. not someone who understands or knows a single thing about me. not someone who i aspire to be. not someone who has ever put any stock or merit into any of my interests or abilities or choices. as far back as i can remember all i've been is an embarrassment.

but still.

logically i know i'm well beyond being the awkward, strange little sister.

but that sort of stick with you, you know?

and so i'm struggling. i'm questioning. i'm overthinking. i'm stuck in my head in this place between really wanting to believe in myself and take a massive risk and just going back to what's always been safe and worked before.

i can't tell really which direction to go.

i feel like maybe the universe is kicking my ass a little bit with all the job stuff falling through and really forcing my hand at giving myself a shot. i HAVE to make something happen with my writing since every time i try to turn back to what i've always done it just sucker punches me harder and harder (really, i get it, if even a book store won't hire me...).

but fuck that jump is terrifying. so much doubt and question and unknown. so what if i finish something. there's a MASSIVE difference between finishing a project and being able to finish a project that provides a living, which, really can't be avoided forever.

and back and forth i go. and closer and closer insanity inches. and the sleepless nights stack on top of each other. which makes my days less productive. which makes me feel like more of a loser. which stresses me more. which makes me question and overthink even more...and around the fucking circle goes.

the super great news though is that at least my skin in handling all the stress just wonderfully.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

keep movies out of my books

strong opinion loosely held: turning books into movies is destroying the imagination of children.

and probably adults.

but our imagination is usually already destroyed...so....mostly children.

there's many an argument about turning books into movies. people hate it because so much gets cut out. because they change some of the plot to make it read better on screen. because they change the emphasis or the lesson. because the directors interpretation isn't the same as the authors intention.

and my biggest complaint: it's never what i saw in my head.

getting kids to really engage in reading is challenging. getting them to SEE the story vs. just the words on the page is hard to do.

how many books did i read as a kid? hundreds. thousands. each one was a movie in my head. the characters built from the parts of the description that were most important to me: anne of green gables and her RED hair. polly pepper and her second hand clothes (the five little peppers and how they grew). claudia kishi and her funky artsy jewelry and decorated room (the babysitters club).

some of my favorite books eventually turned into movies and they were NOTHING like i saw in my head and it made me feel like i was imagining wrong. 

HOW CAN A CHILD IMAGINE WRONG?

how many children read the harry potter books and created this beautiful world of magic in their heads? new, made up words, new fantastical destinations, shops, creatures. then the movies came out and, while they're spectacular feats of cinematography, how many kids were like oh, that's not how i pictured it.

how many kids stopped reading and just waited for the movies? or, worse, could only see the movie setting as they read the later books published after the first movie?

how many lost their imagination? lost their creativity after that?

diving deeper, it made me think about why some books stand out for me and why i loathe others. i think, for me, the breaking point is in the author trusting the reader to extrapolate their own vision. i have a strong preference for books with intentionally ambiguous descriptions. give me enough of a jump off point and let me take it from there. if you spend 3 pages describing the exact texture and color of a leaf, i will spend exactly zero minutes reading your book.

i like to fill in the details myself, make the story MINE.

think of it this way: if an author describes a farm what do you see? is it a big farm? almost a ranch? is it a small farm? is it one barn and a house? is it expansive land with crops? is it animals and gardens? is it an urban farm in someone's backyard? is it a rural farm with neighbors nearby? is it a texan farm where you can drive for hours on your own land and not see anyone? 

unless it is a crucial part of the plot, a character in itself, let me fill in the blanks.

i love descriptions that give you a soft focus: the home, a small country home looked blue at first glance but not if you looked too closely. perhaps someone ran out of blue paint covering up the last color, perhaps the blue is the last color showing through the cheap new layer. maybe it only appears blue on one side reflecting the distinct color of the garage, painted in the bold colors of [the characters] favorite sports team.

what do you see? i can promise you it's different than what i see, and to me, that's the beauty of literature.

"...he heard an animal bark in the woods. bark, is that the right word for the sound? did the neighbors dog get out again? are the coyotes scavenging nearby, encroaching into new territory and scoping out the local scene? someone told him once that foxes make a sound like barking. what would a fox be doing in this area? the bark, yelp, be it what it may, oddly complimented the melody filling the room from the vinyl playing on the modern vintage record player."

how many different pictures pop into your head from that one paragraph? are any one of them wrong?

i LOVE that each person will focus on a different part, see a different setting, different detail.

movies take that away. they lock in one persons vision; the director, the set dresser, the script writer...they take what one person deems important. it could be considered a cruel form of censorship. forcing ONE perspective, disallowing any alternative interpretation.

have you ever read the book, watched the movie and then read the book again? can you see your initial vision? or has it been replaced by the hollywood version?

as much as i love movies, and i do LOVE movies, i can't help but feel sad that even at their most creative, they're limiting creativity.

keep your movies out of my books.

i mean, keep making movies. and books do make great movies. but, you know, don't make MY books into movies. just the other ones.

no, not those ones either...


**no, YOU'RE the devil's advocate: but what about all the kids who have a hard time picturing the story and the movie finally helps it make sense to them and puts a picture to a word they couldn't figure out or puts a picture to a place they've never been and may never get the chance to see in person. what about kids reading about Christopher robin in the woods that live in the city in an apartment? they can't imagine a 100 acre wood when there's not a tree on any of the nearby city blocks? what about kids who have never been to a foreign country and can't imagine what they dress like, how different their houses may look? movies give a vision to things that may otherwise be summarily dismissed for lack of understanding or ability to put a picture to the words....**

Friday, October 27, 2017

still looking. haven't found it yet.

christopher robin believed in his crew. his neurotic, depressed, hyperactive, pessimistic, bumbling crew. unfailingly.

i have the knock off version of this quote in my room, of course on an adorable decorative wooden box on a side table next to a salt lamp and another decorative wooden box with another particularly cliche quote. it's a very stereotypical mid-30's single white girl bedroom. bitches love their salt lamps. *correction: bitches love their pink himalayan ionized positive energy infusing salt lamps*

the knock off version of the quote changes it the required trademark 10% to read: i'm stronger than i seem, braver than i believe, smarter than i think.

as different as night and later that same night.

i bought it on a whim a few years ago hoping that maybe seeing the words every day i could convince myself of their message.

same theory with the tattoo on my collarbone that says: love yourself (literally IN MY SKIN but i still haven't been able to achieve that one quite yet either).

now most days i feel vagueishly smart. especially when creating my own words like vagueishly. IT IS TOO A WORD SPELLCHECK. i just used it in a sentence twice. fuck off.

but most days i do feel a little smart. sometimes i even see my bachelors degree in it's frame (of course placed right behind the decorative quote box) and *almost* convince myself that it's a real degree. that i actually had to EARN it. i mean- it's a literature degree. not like, you know, a rocket surgery degree or anything. i just had to read a bunch of books and write a bunch of papers. i've been doing that my whole life. but, i guess, since the college gave it to me, maybe i actually earned it.

yes, you read that right. there is a not-insignificant portion of time i'm convinced that a college just, like, gave me a degree because i paid all my tuition, didn't have to repeat any classes, and finished all 4 years.

but at least most days, degree smart or not, i at least feel some version of smart.

bravery- that one is a bit of a joke. i'm not brave. i mean, my dad and my brother are brave. 4 generations of cops in my family tree. they literally run at danger, all the time. they're brave. i have friends that travel all across the country, all the time, even as crazy as the world is right now. friends that have literally flown into war zones. i know people that fight illness, massive life devastation, they take on impossible tasks and jobs with no idea what the outcome may be. i know EMT's and firefighters that every. single. shift. is a test of their mettle. 

what do i do? paperwork. read books. make sure the teenager has food and long sleeved shirts. no wait...hoodies.  no wait, flannel long sleeve shirts with a hoodie. NO WAIT... (can you guess what the conversation at our house has been this week?)

i've maybe had moments of bravery. leaving my marriage was scary, but i did that. and i've sat in the ER with the kid without losing my shit. i guess that was...maybe not brave, but at least not a hot mess?

i'm sure there's another example. 

and strength. ha. strength. i really like to pretend i'm strong but my family always treated me with kidd gloves.

in the 90's my dad wrecked his patrol car. he hit a patch of black ice and it threw his car off the road. the glove box was found 50 yards from the car. he had a broken collarbone, a few broken ribs, a punctured lung. i wasn't told about it until after he was out of the hospital.

same thing with my brother- he wrecked his bike, had to have a craniotomy and be placed in a medically induced coma for two weeks. i found out after he was out of the coma and moved to ICU.

when my dad died they waited several hours then called my mom and had her come tell me in person.

they all insisted that i wouldn't have been able to handle the news any other way. they "didn't know how i would react," so they tried to keep it from me as long as they could. i've never really thought of myself as a delicate flower, but you know, they must know something i don't. maybe they remember something from my childhood. maybe i reacted to things badly then. i've blacked out a significant portion of everything before 17, so i really don't know. maybe they're assholes, maybe they know something i don't.

the point of all this endless self depreciation?

i'm like- i don't even know the words. i'm at this place. it's not the swamp of sadness. it's not even the pit of despair. it's like...the chilean mine shaft of failure.

i've been applying for jobs here and there, been on a few interviews, looking without LOOKING. i'm putting off an intense job search, but at the same time, the ones i have applied for haven't worked out, so, is *actually* looking going to go any better?

i have so little bravery, so little strength, so little faith in myself that i talk myself out of jobs before i even hit the apply button.

school tutor? i can't fucking do that. yeah, i have a college degree, but that's not what i WENT to college for. i mean, they probably want people that took education classes, not just english classes.

barista? i mean, yeah, i learned to make coffee and i love it. but i couldn't actually like WORK at a shop with rush hours and cranky customers. and i mean, i never really fully learned how to take down a machine. i'm sure there's MUCH more qualified people out there.

a part time office assistant? i can't do that. i'm sure their office isn't at all like all the others i've worked in. it's probably like, way busier and harder than any of the places. i'll fall behind and make a mess of things and not be able to figure out their systems.

THAT'S RIGHT. I CAN TALK MYSELF OUT OF A JOB I'VE BEEN DOING FOR 20 YEARS.

i have friends that believe in me and encourage me ALL THE TIME. i wish like fuck i could catch a sliver of a glimpse of what they see.

and i'm scared ALL. THE. TIME. lately.

i would love to start my own business but before i can even get the full concept of the business written down i've already started a list of 101 ways it will fail.

i would love to push myself to actually publish but i already have myself convinced that it's a waste of everyone's time to put together a book no one will read.

i just. i don't love myself like my shoulder says. i'm not stronger than i seem. i'm not braver than i believe. i'm not smarter than i think.

i want to be. i wish i could find that path for myself. i'm still looking. but i haven't found it yet.

i want to learn how to be my own christopher robin.

Monday, October 23, 2017

PLEASE ASK FOR HELP

1-800-273-8255
@800273TALK


who ever said "time heals all wounds" is a fucking asshole and a dirty liar.

eight years ago today my little brother made the heartbreaking decision to end his own life.

that wound is still very real.

sure, i don't flat out break down and cry and need days to recover whenever i think about it now, but i still think about it. ALL. THE. TIME.

birthdays. holidays. seahawks games. whenever someone orders a miller high life. whenever veteran suicide is in the news. whenever i think about family. whenever i think about tattoos.

how he would be 35 now. 

can i imagine him as a 35 year old? i still can't imagine myself as a 35 year old and i'm 37 now.

if you die the second time when the last person says your name, steve still has a few years left to stick around.

i've never been mad at steve. unfortunately i understand suicide. i've been in that dark corner. i've fought that demon. i've stared into the abyss and, somehow, always found a reason not to jump off the ledge. i'm heartbroken steve didn't find that reason the last time, but i can't be mad at him.

steve suffered a massive TBI just a few months before. he literally had half his skull opened to relieve pressure on his brain after an accident. this 27 year old kid went from being super physically fit, extremely independent, creative, vivacious, to having to relearn everything, medical bankruptcy, being dependent on others and losing his life as he had it set up.

the TBI also brought to the front some PTSD from being in the first wave of OIF/OEF that has cost thousands of soldiers their lives after returning home. i won't get political. i will just say we NEED to take better care of our soldiers. (please check out the IAVA to see how you can help prevent veteran suicides and support OIF/OEF soldiers).

the hardest part for me is that for the last 8 years i've wondered if i could have helped steve.

we weren't close. we weren't ross and monica by any stretch of the imagination.

i didn't get to grow up with steve. he lived with my dad and his mom. we spent spring break and 2 weeks during the summer together. i think i learned more about him while cleaning out his apartment after his death than the whole sum of our childhood.

i knew basic things growing up- he was the bratty little brother trying to keep up with the older brothers at any cost. he was the daredevil willing to do the dangerous stuff. he was vibrant and creative. when they moved into the new house, steve painted his room in BRIGHT primary colors- red on one wall, yellow on another, blue on a third. he had a massive bright red chair. he was always drawing, his pencil portraits were breathtaking. he was great at sports and almost as good at tattling as i was. 

cleaning out his apartment i got to see how organized he was, everything in it's place. his art work was all over the place- drawings, wire art sculptures, off beat decorations (chicken feet slippers on the feet of a bookshelf still makes me laugh). talking to his coworkers and friends after the funeral i learned how dedicated he was to people and how dedicated they were to him. pictures showed a kid that liked to have a good time with friends- outrageous costumes, adventures, just hanging out on the beach.

the only time steve ever called me was on my birthday, just a few weeks before his (both september babies), only a month before he died. he called to place an order for tacos, no sour cream, extra tomatoes, delivered right away please. i told him the delivery fee would be really high and the tacos would probably be cold by the time i got them to him. he was ok with that.

it should have triggered me. as cool as it was for him to call me, it should have made my ears perk up. it was so out of the blue and so unexpected, i should have been more aware. i have a hundred excuses- it was my birthday, i was getting ready to go out with friends, i didn't know how hard his recovery was going, i didn't know...

if i had know. if i had taken the time to connect with him more as kids. if i had...

if i had been able to tell him i get it. i get dad/brother pressuring you to grow up and pick a career. i get feeling alone when you're surrounded by people. i get having everything in your life not turn out how you planned. i should have offered to let him come stay with us while he recovered. i should have told everyone to fuck off when they told me it wasn't necessary to drive to seattle and see him while he was in the hospital. i should have...i should have been a safe place for him. i should have tried harder to let him know he wasn't the only one. i should have found a way to let him know he had more options than he saw. 

so yeah. wound: not healed.

all i can ask, all i can beg of people now is PLEASE ASK FOR HELP. ask in bold words. some of us aren't smart enough to catch onto nuanced taco orders.

PLEASE ASK FOR HELP.

being stuck on this side with the should haves, the what if's, the regrets, it's selfish to say, but IT SUCKS. please don't do that to someone.

and YES, there will ALWAYS be a someone with those regrets.

PLEASE ASK FOR HELP. if you can't talk to friends or family, please call the suicide hotline, hit them on twitter, go to their website.

PLEASE. ASK. FOR. HELP.

call me. hit me up. ANY TIME.

i'll bring tacos, no sour cream, extra tomatoes. we can have a miller high life and talk. any. time.

ps: steve, you would have love/hated the seahawks game yesterday. they ended up winning, but there was plenty to yell at the tv about before the final whistle. love you kid and miss you every day.


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

born into it

as a kid, my love of books started early. reading them, writing them, "publishing" them.

my grandmother used to buy those early-start books for me- you know the ones where you trace the letters, learn sight words, simple math. i LOVED those things. and it showed. by the time i started kindergarten i was at a second grade level. i made it through a week of kindergarten classes before they moved me into first grade (the school wanted second, but as a september baby i would have been WAY younger than the other kids).

i've known i am a writer forever. journals, terrible plays, short stories. i've never DONE anything with it, but i've known it's a part of me since back in the day.

the other thing i was born into? natural defeatism and procrastination.

as easy as writing came to me, so has putting off writing. also the ease with which i convince myself that everything i DO write is total crap.

isn't it nice to be blessed with SO MANY natural gifts?

hashtag: blessed.

hashtag: sarcasm


BUT. the last few months i've been working on shifting a LOT of things. self perception, goals, resuscitating some long lost dreams.

one of those dreams has always been DOING something with writing.

and so, with the encouragement of a very good friend, i signed up for some writing classes this last weekend.

AND I WENT.

not sure which is the bigger miracle.

the first class i signed up for was: micro fiction (flash writing): 1000 words or less.

i know it may not seems like it, but this is something that has piqued my interest for a while. bj novak wrote a book of short stories that ranged from 2 words to a few hundred words. it captivated me and took a huge chunk of the fear out of writing for me. you don't need to be a stephen king or a jk rowling to be a successful writer.

i am NOT going to write the next great american novel. in the traditional sense at least.

but micro fiction...that's something i can sink my teeth into.

one vein of micro writing is the 6-word story.

hemmingway is attributed with writing "for sale: baby shoes, never worn" to win a contest for the shortest story possible.

in the class the presenter gave us 5 minutes to write a 6-word story.

so i started:

hot coffee. all over. terrible idea.

starbucks coffee: never purchased, only rented.

i saw red. you honked anyway.

i'm terrible at six word writing prompts.

the room went silent. except jim.

writing prompts before coffee. pure torture.

alone with my thoughts = just alone.

"beautiful sunrise." said the blind man.

"can you hear the music?"flatline.

several coffee stories. can you tell it was early in the morning on a sautrday? WHO SIGNED UP FOR THAT SHIT? oh, i did.
 
i cranked out a list in 5 minutes. then i realized several people around me were struggling to come up with one. well huh. that came a little more naturally than i expected.

and so a flame was lit.

i now have several projects spilling out of my writing journal. every time i sit still for a second my brain just starts dumping 6 word sentences all over the place. now to wrangle them and actually COMPLETE one of them. 

goal: see it to the finish.