E for Effort

Yeah, I’m trying. I have not yet elevated my thinking to “no try, just do” or even “just do it”. But I am trying to counter my brain chemicals and keep my snout above water. Today I didn’t do a helluva lot, but did manage to walk the dog twice, for almost a mile each time. It was an effort, but I made it, she’s happy (or something akin to happy for her neurotic little self) and now we’re back in our little cavern. Such is life.

For some bizarre reason, unknown to me on a cognitive level, I have been watching YouTube videos of “Karens” behaving badly. I’ve discovered that not all “Karens” are male, not all of them are white, and they come in all ages and sizes. They are, however, all incandescently pissed off. They do not want to be told about rules or guidelines and they really want to argue with people about the law and their rights.

When grown adult people scream so loudly that veins stand out on their foreheads I am intrigued. When I find they’ve been triggered by sitting too long in a drive-through at McDonald’s or being told they must wear a mask in a retail store, I’m befuddled. Watching these folks waving their copies of the ADA law and alleged medical exemption to mask mandates is amusing. They do not enjoy being told that a privately owned business can make their own policies and rules concerning masking, and Karen is free to shop elsewhere.

This is about power, plain and simple. Don’t tell me what to do – who are you to be able to tell me what to do if I don’t want to do that? When the entire rest of a person’s world is out of their control, a mask seems like a perfect opportunity to vent their spleen. Even better, when a teenager at Taco Bell fails to provide sauce for your tacos, that seems like the perfect opportunity to make that hapless worker the recipient of every ounce of rage you have, about anything and everything.

The “Karen” mentality says you will do what I say, you will serve me without error, you will greet me with a smile even when I’ve insulted every hair on your head, and you’re going to like it. Um, hate to tell these folks…that’s not how it works. It’s often gratifying to see a minimum wage fast-food worker bark back at these folks, who seem to take great delight in explaining how they will have “corporate” fire the insolent and incompetent worker. A couple of these kids have told the nice folks, “Hey, I don’t give a @T#D about this job, and I don’t give a @T#D about you. You can take your attitude and bring THAT to corporate, but I don’t really give a damn.” Therein lies the dream of every worker who wants to tell “the man” hey – take this job and shove it.

I have certainly had more than my fair share of abuse from both “customers” and “the man”, and it’s not pleasant. It’s even more unpleasant because it is simply not necessary. Going toe-to-toe with somebody about something stupid like a hamburger or a 3×5 scrap of fabric across your face is not doing a thing to help get us through the day. What a waste of time.

Back in the day, I can remember being that angry over something inconsequential. The anger was never about the matter at hand, it was always about “respect” or wanting to feel as though I could get my way. That never worked. Maybe for a minute or so out of time, but when it was all said and done, I still had none of the power I was craving. Usually, I had a headache from screaming and hollering and sometimes punching the wall. That was not at all helpful to me, or anyone else involved.

It seems that power is addictive. We humans seem to be born addicted to it, and attempts to divest us of it results in severe withdrawal symptoms. We’ll kill for it, we’ll go to war for it, we’ll lie and cheat for it. We’ll toss every ounce of moral turpitude in the sewer to maintain control over circumstances or people, and we’ve talked ourselves into believing that’s the right way to live. If that was the correct way to go through life, we wouldn’t be in such turmoil over acquiring and maintaining power over…things and people.

Ah, well. Power in the natural world is really just a way to get work done. Ultimately that’s all it is anywhere, but I suppose the question becomes what becomes of the work. Work for what purpose? Work to accomplish what? I don’t mind working, but if I feel I’ve been made a fool of and worked breathlessly for an invalid cause, I am slightly less motivated to continue. Unfortunately, the systems we’ve built are now a perverse game of Jenga, and trying to move any one piece will topple the entire structure you’ve just built.

I suppose we forget that we have built this place. These days, many of us are trying to convince others that we need to “deconstruct” the parts of the colossus that aren’t working, but as someone wiser than me once said – people don’t want to be constantly tearing down things. They want to be building new things. That’s where the energy is, that’s where the motivation lives. Building, not destroying. That sounds like a sound plan.

For whatever it’s worth, I’m tired of fighting. I’m tired of the battle, tired of the never ending plans and strategies and games to be played. Life is not a game, I don’t think so why I need to learn to play a game to live it is beyond me. I applied for a couple of jobs that would be ideal for me, and for the employers, but I suppose I didn’t play the game right…the right key words weren’t in my resume’ and my cover letter didn’t say the right things. Fuck all that. I’m done. I’ll get a job doing something I don’t like and probably overqualified for, but I won’t have to give it a second thought. I won’t need to be a problem solver, won’t need to try and make anything better, just do what they tell me to do and then leave. Just send the paycheck and go straight to hell. Do not pass go, but you’d better give me the $200. What a sorry state of affairs to have a brain and be penalized for using it.

Anyway, that is my rant on corporate America and the state of the gross national product and the hierarchy of greed. Greed seems to be the clever disguise of power, and the more of it you satisfy the more of it you want. More, more, more. The sad part is that no matter how much of “it” (whatever “it” is) that you get, you then have to spend even more effort to keep it. Those at the top of the heap spend all their time making sure nobody is going to topple them, and those at the bottom spend all their time figuring out a way to get to the top. Some days that just seems like such an empty hole in the cosmos.

I am trying. I’m not trying to get rich, I’m not trying to achieve power, I’m not trying to control anything or anybody (except maybe the psycho dog, for her own good). I just want to be better than I was a minute ago, for no other reason than I can be. I don’t want to get to the end of my time here knowing that I gave up, or let crap set up by somebody else beat me. A Janis Ian song that I’ve always liked is “Me To You”, and it says, “I hate to see a friend go down in flames without a song, so I’m waiting by the doorway but I will not linger long.” Sometimes you have to write your own song, and I suppose that’s what I’m doing now. It really sucks to have lost your beat, but it sucks even more to be marching to someone else’s beat. I will not linger long…got shit to do.

I think without a beat, I’d be dead.

Homeless?

I had a random memory yesterday…it wasn’t a memory so far removed that it came as a great surprise or anything. I have remembered it in the past, but I suppose the emotion wasn’t firmly attached, or at least not connected to anything larger.

This particular memory was probably triggered by something I ran across on YouTube earlier, about a 14-year old boy whose parents were divorced, apparently not amicably, and he was due to return from a visit with his biological father back to his mother’s house. He didn’t want to go back. He said all he did in that house was fight with his mother, and the step-father wasn’t particularly welcoming or tolerant, either. He wanted to stay with his father.

Dad was returning all of the kids back to mom’s house, as per the court order governing his visitation. The younger kids had gone in, but the 14-year old refused to get out of the truck. Mom stood outside the vehicle and alternately blamed the dad for fueling the kid’s rebellion, and telling the kid that he needed to get his butt out of the truck and come inside to discuss his issues with her. The kid said no, we can either discuss that here or not at all. I do not want to live here any longer.

Mom resorted to bad-mouthing dad, who was in the driver’s seat and filming the entire thing and getting emotional about “losing her baby”. She told the step-dad to call the police and waved the court order granting her full custody of all the kids. When the police finally came (it was a non-emergency), they listened to everything but mommy could not strong-arm them into “making” the kid go back into her house. They said that was a civil matter, but they were called out to resolve a disturbance and that was easily resolved by allowing the kid to stay with his dad. The rest of it was a civil issue of custody, and she needed to handle that in family court.

Mommy, of course, turned on the tears and screamed about the custody order…step-dad stood there like a statue, and the officers told dad he was free to leave with the kid. The kid was allowed to bolt inside to get his things for school, and later said mommy had tried to lock him in his room to prevent him from leaving. That didn’t work, since the police were still outside, and the kid ran out a minute later with a duffel bag and got back into the truck. He and his dad left a moment later.

I could relate entirely to being split between parents, feeling as though my needs were not taken into account. The constant fighting, the constant feeling of being discounted because I was “only a child”. That was the whole point, y’all – I was only a child but I was being hauled into adult matters and expected to handle that like an adult…but wait…you’re only a child, so know your place…but be mature and handle things reasonably…but wait….

OK, no more “but, wait” moments. The part of the whole YouTube saga that got to me was that the kid had some place to go. His dad wanted take custody of him, supported him in the decision to leave the mom’s house. During the confrontation with mom, dad never spoke ill of her. He filmed the encounter, because he wanted to document it, and the police officers never told him to stop. His support for his son was impeccable.

I never got that. The memory that came up was having fought violently with my mother one day, and deciding that I wanted out and wanted to live with my father. They were not officially divorced yet, just legally separated, and he was living in an apartment. I called him and said I wanted to come and live with him, but I didn’t get unequivocal support of that decision. What I got was well, um, I would have to make arrangements…and talk to the apartment management…and get some things in order…blah, blah, blah.

At that moment, I realized I had no place to go. I was stuck, and I’ve really never felt otherwise. I did not want to be in my mother’s house, but at least it was a roof over my head and my basic physical needs were met (food, shelter, school, doctor). I was alternately afraid of her and hated her. I knew she was wrong, but any conflict was turned back on me so that I was the villain. “If you wouldn’t <whatever> I wouldn’t have to <whatever>.” That’s usually what abusers say, and emotionally/spiritually/sometimes physically she was abusive. Full stop.

I no longer hate my mother. There are a lot of things I understand now that I couldn’t understand then. I don’t hate my father, either. Not hating them doesn’t mean that I don’t remember, and that I don’t hold them responsible for all the ways they caused me to feel as though I had no home, no family, and was the worst kid in the entire world. It’s not a question of forgiving them or not forgiving them, but as with all of it, I have to clean up the mess. Am I angry about that? You bet.

I was afraid of my mother until her last breath. It was impossible for me to touch her…I had tried to hold her hand when she was in the hospital, right before she entered hospice, but she drew back her hand. That was directly tied, at least for me, to the day of my grandmother’s funeral when she wanted me to hold her hand walking down the aisle in the church, and I didn’t want to because I was afraid. She looked at me and said, “I’m going to remember that.” Those were words she frequently uttered that meant she would get me back later, there would be revenge, there would be punishment. I have never forgotten that.

I’ve never forgotten that day when my father didn’t immediately open his arms to me and say, “Come on. Come right now, I’ll come and get you, you always have a place with me.”

I’ve never felt as though I have a home with anyone, anywhere. Whatever constitutes “home” for me is what I make for myself. I suppose I could live with that, but what I make for myself is so inadequate, so non-homelike, so barren. It’s great that I have a stable roof over my head and all that stuff, but it doesn’t feel like what I always thought “home” should be…with the warmth and the happiness and the safety. It feels like the necessities, like what is required. It’s where my stuff is, where my toilet is, where my clothes and my guitar and my dog are. I’m not entirely sure it’s where I am. I’m not entirely sure it’s where I live.

Maybe this is just a dream, or a page in a coloring book.

Burn, baby burn



I just watched most of the plea hearing for Nikolas Cruz, the Parkland FL school shooter. This kid is 23 years old now and seems fully in control of his faculties. He affirmed that he understood all of the implications of his guilty pleas (18 for murder, 17 for attempted murder, and 4 for battery against police officers). He seemed entirely non-threatening, not intimidating, meek, and humble.

He answered the judge “yes, ma’am” or “no, ma’am” when she queried him about his ability to understand the proceedings and technical aspects of his plea. Bespectacled defendant, and of slight build, he affirmed softly when asked if he understood that the maximum penalty for each of the murder charges was the death penalty.

Mr. Cruz requested to address the victims/families present and was allowed to do so. He did not face those present, but uttered a short and tearful apology for what he had done, and stated his aversion to drugs. He said that he understood the victims might not believe him, but he loved them and was very sorry, and felt they were ultimately in control of whether he lived or died when the sentence was rendered.

Welp, alrighty then. Color me underwhelmed.

The prosecution read a detailed account of this kid’s movements on the day of the killings at the Marjorie Stone Douglas school in Parkland FL in 2018, and it was chilling. The shooter took an Uber to the school, carrying an AR-15 style gun and several magazines of ammunition along with a utility vest in a bag. Since he is a former student of the school, he knew exactly where to go, and proceeded to a 3-story campus building where he began loading and assembling his weapon in a stairwell. He encountered one student there, who he warned that “something bad was about to happen” and returned to girding himself for a self-imposed war.

The shooting rampage took only a few moments, leaving eighteen people dead – students, teachers, athletic coaches. Some seventeen students and teachers were wounded. The rampage might have gone on a bit longer, but some of the bullets disrupted ceiling tiles blowing dust into the smoke detectors. That set off fire alarms all over the campus. Students and teachers across the multiple school buildings began evacuating because the alarms sounded.

The shooter calmly took off his vest, dropped his weapon, and calmly mingled in with the crowd of people flowing out of the buildings. He was captured nearly 3 miles away after an extensive search that relied on eyewitness accounts of the events.

Listening to the prosecutor’s account of that day’s activities was akin to a viewing a horror movie. Several of the victims’ family members cried silently while each count of the charges was read, including the names and how many times each victim had been shot. Each account concluded with the words “the victim died of their wounds” or “the victim survived their wounds”. All of the victims were shot multiple times, some after the shooter had wounded them and then returned to shoot them again as they lay dying.

How can a society that claims to be responsible and moral possibly continue to champion the rights of every citizen to own firearms, particularly assault weapons with large capacity and easily reloadable magazines?

The Parkland shooting is only one in a long list of mass shootings, some with fewer victims and some with more. The Pulse Nightclub shooting, and the Las Vegas music concert shooting both claimed upward of 50 victims. If this is not war, then what is it? If this is not insanity, then what in the world is it? Anyone who continues to argue the illogic of “well, if there had been more armed people to resist these shooters, it would have been a lower death toll” is patently insane, and unequivocally incorrect. If there had been teachers or other students armed in the school shooting incidents, there would have been far more victims, not fewer.

Something is very wrong in this country, but we already knew that. When a 23-year old can procure a military-grade assault weapon, calmly take a ride-share to a densely populated public school, and shoot to his heart’s content that should be incomprehensible in a civilized society. But it’s not. It’s defended and justified and rationalized, and in some cases belligerently defended.

There seem to be no solutions. People can read all the books they care to on habits of highly successful people and negotiating skills and conflict resolution, but until we have some kind of massive paradigm shift none of that will matter.

Until we manage to escape the pugilistic dance seemingly inspired by Calvinist roots that exhort us to devise new and better ways of punishment, rather than prevention and discouragement of crime, we’re going to be stuck right here killing people to show other people that killing people is wrong. The death penalty is no longer a deterrent. It doesn’t grant closure to the survivors of crime. It doesn’t tp the balance of good and evil.

I have no answers, but it takes something out of the collective energy of my world to see the incredible toll that we inflict upon each other. The Parkland shooter is intelligent, and aware, and knows full well what he has done. He has not offered much in the way of motive, and he may not know himself why he chose to do what he did. I don’t need him to understand, but the rest of us need to understand how we can quell the rising tide of people like him.

To fix this mess, we can’t start at the point of penalty for past actions, we have to start well before the action is taken. Ignoring mental health crises, and building on the foundations of inequity and lies and the avoidance of responsibility does not get us any closer to peace, and that’s ultimately what everyone is begging for – peace.

I feel horribly for anyone who has ever lost someone to violence or war of any kind. It takes a brief suspension of one’s moral agency to commit a murder, and it can happen in a split second. Nobody is immune to that moment in time when they are lost and balancing on the imperceptible fixed point that separates right from wrong. That is the point that can destroy the world, or give birth to the future of humanity, and it may be about something as simple as a spicy chicken sandwich at a fast-food restaurant.

This IS the fire next time, and we are burning. It’s painful, and we need a way out. What are we going to do?

Sometimes my fingerprints are on the remnants of my own destruction.

Here, where I am not

I don’t feel as though I am really here. I feel as though I have been dropped from some great height and my parts spread out haphazardly and disconnected upon the ground. I never knew how this machine worked in the first place, so trying to reassemble it is the stuff sitcoms are made of.

Part of me says this is good, because I can re-create myself however I would like. That’s great, except that I still have only the original raw materials to use. There’s been nothing added, nothing optimized, nothing changed but ligaments and connectors may be more fragile and less elastic. But, I will do the best I can do, as always.

Maybe this is a good thing. Perhaps I don’t need to reassemble myself in the rigid binary in which I existed before – short vs. tall, fat vs, thin, ugly vs. pretty. I suppose the goal is more about acceptance of the inherent reality, but damn, if that wasn’t satisfactory to begin with it probably won’t be acceptable now.

My recovery program talks about a necessary psychic change in order to effect true change. I feel as though I’ve had many psychic changes, many deviations from the original default position, although what hasn’t changed is the nature of the unacceptability of that reality. How do I make peace with that reality when I don’t like it? I can accept it, but I don’t like it, and I don’t know that I will ever like it.

This is the source of the great unrest, the conflict within, the dissastisfaction of that which is. There are certain things I don’t mind, but certain other things I find nearly impossible to reconcile. I don’t mind being short, but I mind tremendously being fat and having all of the usual causal factors that make that condition a reality. Life shouldn’t have to be that bloody difficult, require that much effort, necessitate a divorce from every intuitive machination that I have. That pretyt much sucks and I don’t have the energy for it any longer.

It’s not just the weight, though – it’s not being able to keep my mouth shut in the face of some deeply held conviction, it’s not being able to read people and know instictually who I shouldn’t trust. It’s not understanding how life amongst people works.

My father was not a happy man, and I am convinced that caused him to sign up for an early departure. My mother was not a happy woman, but she lasted for more than 20 years after he was gone. My grandmother seemed to be happy – she had a lot of things going for her in the early 70s – but she also departed before her time (or at least my estimate of that). Is there a decision, on some esoteric plane? I don’t know, but I suspect that unhappiness makes for a certain mind-body-spirit connection that says time is short and I’m ready to go.

I am not a happy person, and I wonder if that means I will be taking an earlier flight out of here. That is not a conscious ask, but periodically I think it wouldn’t be such a horrible deal. My hesitance, though, comes from the big question mark of what lies beyond. What if this pain doesn’t end when I shake this mortal coil, and it simply continues under different circumstances. What if there really is a punishment for not wanting to continue under these circumstances. The prospect of this unpleasantness continuing is like cold water in the face.

Earlier today, I was listening to someone else try making sense out of a group process that she didn’t particularly like. The group opted to be very fluid, and be open to changing details about how we choose to be with one another. She was more rigid about us conforming to what we say, and how we communicate with the larger community. MOst of us found that we didn’t care much about definition, or at least about it being true to defining wors and concepts. We choose to make it up as we go along, have our covenant be responsive to our needs at any given time.

Watching this other person trying very hard to make things “make sense” gave me a glimpse of what it looks like when I am trying to do that. She could not understand why the rest of us didn’t feel conflicted about our self-definition as compared with how our definition was described. She felt as though existed no space between self-definition and self-description, and that essentially referenced a conflict.

Rigidity does not serve me well, and I don’t think it serves anyone well. What I thought when I was 10 is not unchanged more than 50 years later, but may be tempered by having more information. I still believe that people shouldn’t be left out and left alone in the world, to fend for themselves, but I understand how that is more complicated than people being mean spirited. There are nuances, there is choice, there are circumstances that I can’t alter. That’s the reality I know – sometimes it sucks, but it’s usually more complicated than I can understand and I cannot control that.

Trying to control stuff that I cannot control, and/or which is none of my business in the first place, is difficult. I wrestle with my relative power all the time, often out of arrogance but more likely out of empathy. I don’t want anyone else to hurt, but I have to understand that hurting may be the only way for them to learn, and grow. Whichever it is, that path is none of my business.

Boundaries, the dreaded boundaries again. There’s a 5-year old part of me that wants to do whatever I want to do whenever I want to do it. I don’t think having that feeling is a bad thing, but refusing to accept the reality that having all of my wants realized is more frequently not a good thing can be soul numbing. If everything was exactly the way I wanted it, I would have no way to build up any musculature by resisting that which I don’t want.

Maybe that’s what is wrong now, maybe I have nothing to resist, nothing to struggle against. I don’t have everything that i want, but I’m not sure I’m truly resisting anything. There are lots of things I don’t like, but that’s mostly just a statement, and not an action (unless flipping the bird in the general direction of corporate America and the 1% counts as action).

Maybe this vague feeling of disconnection and discombobulation could be mitigated with intentional action. I had the notion that I wanted to get in better shape, lose a few pounds, and i figured time was right to join a gym once again and start working on that. But, I have to be cautious about that since we’re still in the middle of pandemic response. It’s one thing to be having lunch with a couple of people in a nearly empty restaurant, and an other to be rolling around and sweating with people who are touching things you will use moments later. The gym claims to be utilizing extreme methods of cleansing, and has ensured as much social distancing as possible, but I am the first to acknowledge that if people want to do the wrong thing, there’s always a way. People iz stoopit.

I’ll figure out something to do with the gym shortly. I will probably need to start walking first, hopefully with the dog. She is actually fairly good company on a walk, especially when I have chose a time and place optimal for low population density. We’ll get there. The weather is starting to get really nice, so it’s a good time.

And so it goes. On and on, another day, another lack of a dollar, more goofiness from some of the other billions of my neighbors on the planet. William Shatner was just given the opportunity to go up for a 10-minute trip into sub-orbital space where he could experience weightlessness and an external view of our great blue marble. I am happy for Captain Kirk to boldly go to the final frontier…at 80 years of age. He will still be speaking with exclamation points following most of his words, and that will be just dandy. Some things will never change, and I suppose that is the reality we all need to accept.

To boldly go…or at least to go. Staying home don’t do a thing.

Oh, the places you’ll go

It occurs to me that when I want to hide, there are hundreds of places to go. Maybe infinite numbers of places I can go. All within the confines of my tiny little mind. I guess if I lap myself running around my brain cavity, I can pass go and pic up the $200. One would hope. Or at least a “Get Out of Jail Free” card.

Anyhow…I am trying to feel slightly better the past couple of days. The FedEx dufus who can’t seem to comprehend that my apartment is on the 3rd Floor and not the 1st is not helping. I am going to have to stake out the next delivery and figure out which driver is doing that, because every 2nd or 3rd delivery makes it correctly to my front door. It’s got to be a single driver who is…difficult. Or lazy. Or something. It’s a first world problem, but annoying nonetheless.

I had a great session with my BIPOC small group last night, talking about how some of us (regardless of color) take care of other folks far more than we care for ourselves. Where it sometimes has an ethnic/racial slant is when we feel the need to be better than everyone else, please everyone else so as not to rock the boat. I acknowledge there are people pleasers who are of dominant culture, but I don’t know if they feel the pressure of having to represent “their kind” the way POC do. I’m not sure about that, and it could be good fodder for a discussion with dominant culture folks. We’ll see.

My meal delivery menu for this week included a beef/dill/cream sauce thing, with peas (kind of an odd choice, but it worked). I ate on that for two days, and it wasn’t half bad. Today I will not have anything from my delivery since the other selections include meat, and I will be immediately thrust into the pits of Hell if I eat meat on Friday. Old habits die really hard.

Speaking of old habits, I had the idea that I should do some work on my shadow self. Nothing formal or even organized, but I’m doing some meditations on YouTube that are designed to help one get in touch with the shadow, and work to make peace with it. That, of course, is easier said than done.

The shadow involves what is best left in the past, but shades the present and even hope for the future. Sometimes it’s just not wanting to revisit those issues or events, constantly batting them down into the void, refusing to give them voice. This doesn’t really work, at least not for me, and only serves to raise a lot of noise inside my head. I hate when it’s noisy in there, because I have no peace. No peace of mind or peace in the body or peace in the spirit. No peace anywhere. No justice, no peace. I suppose it’s not justice to refuse acknowledgement of those root causes for so much of my persistent distress.

The other part of the shadow work is the self-forgiveness part, which is magnanimously difficult for me. I suppose my ego dictates the fantasy that I am, or at least can be, perfect. That I don’t make mistakes. That I’ve got everything under control. That’s more or less a lie. More, actually. A big fat lie. Nobody can be perfect. Me believing that I can be perfect is an egotistical delusion.

I suppose the other significant portion of the work I’m doing with shadow is the change in how to keep the light on and not bury more stuff in the back, in the dark, down in the hole. I feel as though my shadow self has somewhat overwhelmed me, and once I’ve gotten it cut down to size I don’t want it back. Live and learn, I suppose.

A few minutes ago, I was out with the psycho dog, and she was in rare form. It’s a rather nice morning, and we both enjoyed the low humidity and moderate temperature. She literally howled at a passing dog, and could not be persuaded to hush. Then, a neighbor lady came by with her chihuahua, and gave us a bag of treats. She said their other dog was allergic to them, or at least her daughter thought so. These are pretty high-quality jerky treats, so I offered one to the manic dog to get just a couple of seconds of quiet…and it worked. She couldn’t bark while chewing, so I was able to hear myself think for just a bit.

I wonder how I came to be here, in this particular reality. It’s a futile process, because of course I will never really know, but I definitely believe I made some kind of sentient choice to come here, under these circumstances, at this time, with these conditions. I wish that I could know when I’ve learned some lesson I’m supposed to learn, or rounded some corner of ethics or morality so that I could make a point of retaining the learning. I would hate to have repeating this class over and over again. I have the feeling that it’s a lower elementary class, too so I would like to feel that I’m moving up to middle school or high school. Being stuck in the 4th grade feels like a defeat.

Today I am going to have lunch with a friend, and her mother. I really like her mother, and she has been gold in getting my friend back to her usual self. The self that I first knew, the jovial and fun-loving friend who was not so consumed with anger at everything and everyone. She had gotten to be embittered and caustic, and it was really no fun being around her. I understand how that can happen, when everything in the world seems wrong no matter how much you try to make it right, and you take it out on everyone who’s not nailed down. I had to keep her a bit at a distance, but I was still there. That’s how I roll in a friendship. It’s not always what I get in return, but it’s still my choice to operate that way.

Last night we talked a little about work, working, having work, our relationship to work. I have been coming to realize that I am still thinking of myself as somewhat of a lesser being because I have taken on the label of “unemployed”, as though I have less value and worth than someone who is working. That is just crap. I am working on unlearning that, and assigning myself worth and value according to how I move through the world. Why isn’t that enough? I am enjoying what I do in terms of social justice work and building community, and wasn’t during my working years. That counts for something. At the end of the day, that counts for everything.

It’s not hard to hold the sun.

Maybe?

I am resigning myself to not finding a job for which I have spent many years developing skills. It will be fine. I am thinking some of it is my age, and some of it possibly the gap in work history. Whatever. It’s not what I know, it’s who I know, and I’ve known that for a very long time. If there was someone inside a company who vouched for me, I would have a job for which I’m only minimally qualified tomorrow, even with a criminal history. That’s the American way.

Right now, I am more inclined to work on myself. Again. Lately I’ve been doing a little work on my shadow side. Of course I have no idea what I’m doing, or at least how to do it correctly, but I am willing. There are a few meditations that I’m doing, ones that encourage me to explore things I’m ashamed of, lies I’ve told, stuff I really don’t want to think about. It’s almost like making amends to myself, I guess. One of the meditations urges me to remember these unpleasant things, and then say to myself, “I love you. I’m sorry. PLease forgive me. Thank you.”

Hmmm. That’s not how I roll. Not at all. I reallly don’t know what I’m doing…about much of anything. My sleep study was totally a goose egg, because I didn’t sleep long enough to make a diagnosis. Lovely. All that anxiety for nothing. The doctor said she could get me a CPAP if I wanted it, but I don’t. So, I told her I felt that I needed to figure out why I couldn”t sleep. The last time this happened was right after my mother died, when I woke up every few hours, if I fell asleep at all. It’s kind of like that now, but I don’t exactly know what’s triggering the sleep interruptions.

I suppose the anxiety these days could be about not being able to find a job, staring down the barrel of having to pay for my health insurance premiums outright next year, without the ACA subsidy. That’s directly related to being unemployed, since I can’t demonstrate that I have an income equal to the poverty level. If I had an income, I wouldn’t need assistance from the ACA, now would I? I suppose it makes sense in government logic (yes, that’s an oxymoron, sue me).

So, people are irritating me lately. I liked it better when we all stayed inside and there weren’t so many cars on the road. It was quieter, and if you needed to go somewhere, you could get there effortlessly in just a few minutes. People weren’t quite so snarky and cranky, and nobody was fighting over fabric squares and shots. How far we’ve come.

There has to be more to life than being outraged about…stuff. Stuff we can’t do anything about. There is a lot we can’t do anything about, but there is still a lot we can do. Frustratingly, the yield is not immediate or sometimes, not even perceptible. We are not patient beings, but that is what is called for at times like these.

I’m tired of hearing about “resiliency”. It’s not resiliency if you have no choice but to take another breath, no choice but to survive. It might be resilience if you make a conscious choice to bounce back from disaster, but not if there is no other choice except death. Except mere survival, by instinct alone.

What choice do I have but to breathe, unless I have taken some chemical that paralyzes that function. If I do not make the other choice, to intentionally end my life, how resilient am I if my involuntary functions do what they are meant to do?

People talk about how resilient people of color are to survive even in the face of myriad circumstances that are designed to kill us. We are not bouncing back from disaster, we are surviving. I believe there is more to life than mere survival, and that’s where the rubber meets the road. Survival and living are not equivalent. If I am born again to a new life following near decomposition from disaster, then perhaps I might claim resilience. Merely breathing when someone has tried to beat the life of me is not resilience, it is survival. To survive in the face of disaster is not resilience, it’s strength.

I am strong. That’s a blessing and a curse. When others perceive of you as being strong, they don’t always handle you with care. They assume you’ll be just fine, and that you’ll go on no matter what they do. On a certain level, that’s true, but I have come to believe that I deserve far more than surviving callous disregard for my well being.

I don’t really want to be strong, or resilient. I want to be alive, I want to be worthy of life, I want to be capable of joy and happiness and beauty and love. I want to thrive. What good is resilience if you return to the same unsatisfying incarnation?

There will be leaves and blossoms once more, but there will also be more storms. Try. Fail again. Fail better.

Influence

I think everyone has some kind of influence on others if they want to be influenced. It’s always a choice. The idiot that I fought with the other day in the Walmart parking lot influenced me – I was in a foul mood for the rest of the afternoon, and it still crosses my mind. I could meditate on the whole thing and probably force it out of my head, but it’s no longer about him. It’s about me. I let his anger tilt my sails a bit, and I could have made another choice. That’s a really little thing, but sometimes I’m easily influenced to do more significant things.

I think about people like Dylan Roof, or Timothy McVeigh, or any of the insurrectionists on January 6th. On some level they allowed themselves to be influenced by rhetoric, or the energy of the crowd, or their own pre-existing feelings of powerlessness. When I am not grounded firmly in my Self, that can be what happens.

Because I don’t want to be on somebody else’s path, I am staying on some kind of wandering course to somewhere I don’t yet know, but the steps are mine. My mind works differently than a lot of other folks, and I’m just beginning to accept that. That’s fine. At this point in my life, I am weary of fighting anyone, including myself.

The other day I was having a discussion with some UU people about social activism. We all agreed there has to be some kind of grounding in faith. Some of those folks are ministers, so that’s where they live, but I agree. My take on it is we could be doing our social activism work anywhere – in the Sierra Club, or in the ACLU, or the GLBT Pride network – but we have chosen to do it here, inside the UU container. Accordingly, what needs to bind us is faith, and not necessarily religious faith. Faith in our common view of how to make things better. Simple to me.

My neighbor’s 14-year old cat had to be euthanized over the weekend. Kitty had been fading in recent months. First, she lost her purr and her meow and had to have several teeth extracted. That brought her sounds back, but she was still a little subdued. They brought her back to the vet recently because she was coughing and wheezing. The first visit rendered no clue about the cause, but they prescribe antibiotics and sent her home. She went down a bit further and returned to the vet. This time they felt a lump in her chest and did an exploratory surgery to see what it was. When they got in there, it was a malignancy that had metastasized, and the vet called to say it would be best to put her down before she woke up. They felt she had probably begun to suffer from the pain the growth was likely to have caused. And so it was.

I know that pain, I know that silence when a tiny creature with a brain the size of plum leaves you. The male half of the couple is sad, but the female half is devastated. She cleared out all of the kitty’s food, toys, bedding, and dishes and threw them out. I understand that. When I had to put my last dog down, I did the same thing. The neighbor lady says no more pets. I said the same thing after I put that dog down, and less than six months later I got this little monster. So, we’ll see.

I bought a drone. I’ve been interested in doing that for a while and got a friend to recommend a good beginner device. I found it at Walmart for less than $100, so I ordered it online. It arrived, and I did my due diligence and viewed YouTube videos about how to set it up and fly it. I did all that, but…the damned thing wouldn’t fly. I couldn’t get the propellers to activate, and eventually, I decided it was the remote control unit that wouldn’t charge. I contacted the 3rd party that sold it for Walmart, and they were just a hot mess, so I decided to return it and start over. I bought another one – it’s set to arrive on Tuesday. I returned the old one after several fits and starts, but it’s done.

The most nonsensical thing about the entire drone acquisition was part of the return process. After I began the process online, they sent a bar code that I needed to show the customer service folks in any Walmart store. OK, that’s easy enough, so off I went.

Got to the store, with the drone firmly in hand in its original packaging, and found a lengthy line at the customer service counter. Hmm. Then I spied a sign that said “Express online returns here”. I charged in that direction, only to find there were no instructions for what to do when I arrived there. There was a huge lawnmower that seemed to be somewhat off-kilter, but no indication of what to do. There was a monitor behind the lawnmower that said “Press here for help”. So I pressed there. The monitor said that someone was coming to assist me. Tap tap. After a few minutes, with nobody in sight that looked as though they could even begin to help me, I went back to the email with the barcode. To my shock, there was a second page that I had not read. The second page said I needed to make the return merchandise shipping read – packed in a suitable box and sealed with packing tape.

I dejectedly left the store and returned home somewhat later to find an appropriate box. I did, and deposited the drone into the box, sealed it up with duct tape (it was all I had), and went back to Walmart today. I went to another store, not a superstore, and there was no crowd there. A very nice lady began to assist me with the return. To my amazement, the first thing she did was pull the tape off the box. I was stunned, and she must get that look all the time, because before I could utter a sound she said, “They make us look inside the boxes to make sure the item it says you are returning is in there. We don’t know why they tell everybody to seal their packages before they bring them here, but they get really mad at us if we don’t look inside.”

Hmmm. That’s just groovy. The box will have been sealed, unsealed, and then re-sealed before it gets thrown around on a truck somewhere for shipment to who knows where. My transaction got a little hinky because something was wrong with their computers (Mercury is in retrograde is all I’m going to say) and it took several tries to get me a receipt. But finally, it spits out of the printer and I was done. It is a story in several parts, and that just made me tired.

Before I went on the last stage of the drone adventure, I went to get my hair cut. It gets really kinked up when it gets too long, so it was all that and more. I felt like I had shrubbery on my head. I had a good time with the lady who cuts my hair; she is now going through a divorce and a new boyfriend. I enjoy her tremendously. She has two kids under the age of 15, and both of them have cystic fibrosis. She’s a good mom. Her soon-to-be ex-husband is a drunk, so the divorce will be better for all concerned. Life during wartime – this ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no foolin’ around. But my hair is perfect and I can feel the wind on my scalp now.

So, adventure over, and it’s time to gear down. I bought some wi-fi headphones, and they are entirely awesome. The sound is incredible, and they are comfortable. I can do my Zoom calls in more comfort now, and listening to music is really satisfying. That was a good purchase – it makes me happy. I’m really not a terribly high-maintenance kind of girl, contrary to popular opinion.

The weather is beginning to be slightly less hot than a nuclear reactor, and that’s nice. Today it was close to 80 but the humidity was low, and there was a nice breeze. I sat outside with the dog a little while ago, until she started screaming at people walking by and another dog who was walking a good ways away.

I am fortunate to be able to do everything I did today, even the annoying things. I can do hard things, but when do I get to easy things? When do I get to have what I want, and not what I need? I am brought to a grinding halt on this train of thought when I remember that one of my favorite authors/bloggers is recuperating from brain surgery, and a friend of mine has just been referred to a urologist for a suspicious growth in his bladder. I suppose if I got what I thought I deserved, I wouldn’t even be here – I’d have killed my sill self doing something that seemed like a good idea at the time. So, I will be right here, being grateful for what I have. Full stop.

It’s out there, in the most unlikely places. It all depends on how you look at it.

I forgot to remember

It’s getting to where I don’t remember much of anything these days. That is really starting to get on my nerves, mainly because it scares me a bit. Is this where I being the long journey to become my mother in her final incarnation here, devoid of any linear processing ability and the unique part of me that makes me…me? That’s what happened to her, and it started with a little more forgetfulness than usual, a little more bizarre lapses in judgment. It was subtle at first, even amusing. Everyone just attributed it to normal aging processes.

Later, it got almost dangerous. Always a stickler for details and paying her bills on time, always on top of every account, every penny in her accounts, she gradually became someone with poor credit because she had neglected to pay recurring bills on time, if at all. She let her insurances lapse, both her personal health insurance and the property tax on the house. That was totally out of character for her.

Unfortunately, it would not be entirely out of character for me, but when I’ve paid bills late or neglected accounts there was always a nagging shred of a memory that I couldn’t eradicate. These days, I find myself surprised at some of the urgent calls for payment, or renewals of things like my DMV affairs. It’s getting ridiculous, and I wonder how in the world I might be able to hold a job with any degree of competence.

I applied for a job late last week, with the giant healthcare corporation in town (Novant). It sounds a lot like what I was doing a few years ago in terms of the technological expertise required, but it’s full time and not remote. That sucks big time, but I’m getting close to frantic over not having a paycheck and benefits. Being frantic and preoccupied with that stuff is not going to help me remember a damned thing.

So, here I sit, beginning to make my way toward a trip out of the apartment, to pick up a new headset and to see the psychiatrist. The headset will be fine. The psychiatrist…well, we’ll just have to see. I’m a little nervous about it, because I’m a little nervous bout everything right now. Anxiety is becoming more and more an issue, which doesn’t make me happy since that is also a reminder of my mother’s condition, even before the dementia.

I am so incredibly tired of dealing with myself. Why can’t I just …. go on, just do the next thing that needs to be done, not have to fret over everything and prepare for disaster several times in a day? I have always been hypervigilant, but I can ignore the warning flags. I don’t quite get that, and I never have. Is that fear of success or just (as my mother used to say) laziness and trifling? I don’t know, I don’t care, but things should be this difficult. Or at least that’s my story.

I forgot to get dog food, so she is looking very expectant. I don’t blame her, although she has had several treats today so I know she’s not in danger of starving. It’s still a bit annoying that I forgot to pick up a new bag of food, because I reminded myself of it several times in the last 36 hours and STILL forgot to get it. Argh. And yes yes yes I am still grateful that I have the money to rectify the error.

Perhaps I’m tired of having to rationalize and justify everything I feel. “I’m annoyed because I feel crazy and need to see a shrink.” That has to be followed by “Yes, but at least you have the resources to see a shrink.” Shut up, please. I am not happy to have a need to do that, even if it’s just for medication management. I don’t want to be this crazy and need medication for my depression and anxiety. I don’t’ want to be this addictive and need professional help to not eat myself into an early grave (or crematorium). I don’t want to be a pain in my own ass, but that’s exactly how I feel. Tired of having to go through so mancy changes just to get through a day.

One of my Artist’s Way group members died a couple of weeks ago. She had drifted away from the group, and seemed to have suddenly gotten rather frail. She was 79, I believe, and one of the other group members saw the death notice in the newspaper and let us know. The lady who died was a nice and kind retired teacher, art teacher if I remember correctly. She was talented, and did basket weaving and other crafts that were quite beautiful She had a couple of grown daughters, and we kind of knew that but she wasn’t terribly forthcoming about her life. When I read the obituary, I learned so much about her that I had not know.

I don’t want people to not know who I am. They don’t have to know about every screw-up or aborted relationship, don’t have to be witness to stupid crap I did 30 years ago, but I do want people to know the big chunks that were struggles, obstacles, all that. There are some big chunks that I don’t share with anyone, and a few more that I only share with a very select few. It is definitely a trust issue, and I haven’t been given very much reason to trust people I might choose for that level of intimacy.

So, we’ll see how this appointment goes. I’m reasonably annoyed today because this damned drone that I bought is not working the way it should – the remote won’t stay charged no matter how long I have it connected to the charger. Maybe I’ll have to return it for a replacement, and that aggravates me. I want to be playing with it and figuring out how to use it, but I can’t get out of the starting gate.

This is one hell of a way to live a life, where everything is in the form of a question. Am I doing this right? Am I really not as smart as I thought I was, not as good of a writer as I thought I was? Was the previous asshole employer correct about me, that I’m basically incompetent and can’t be trusted with a responsible job? Will I ever have peace inside my own head, in my soul? Have I wasted my entire life, and disappointed everyone (including myself)? Can I be redeemed? Can I survive?

I wish I could find a soundtrack for the fear-based part of my life. Maybe it’s not written yet, but it might include songs like “Wild World” and “Sitting” by Cat Stephens.

Sitting all alone not by myself…
…Oh life is like a maze of doors
And they all open from the side you’re on
Just keep on pushing hard boy, try as you may
You’re going to wind up where you started from”

I suppose I have wound up where I started from. The beginning was as confusing as where I’ve wound up. I don’t much enjoy either point. Sick of people who want to be in control of me, in control of everything around me, leaving me with no agency or control of my own circumstances. I don’t know if that’s true but it’s how I feel. I wonder if I have the strength to keep going if there’s a significant challenge. Will I just throw in the towel and take a standing count to signal surrender? Will I get up yet again, and then wait for the next blow? I’m pretty over that.

When do I get what I want? I’m normally not that arrogant to presume that I’m entitled to get what I want, but it seems to work that way for just about everyone else. When is it my turn? When do others stand aside and let me pass? When can I stand down and let others fight the battle? When have I done enough?

Enough is enough.

Sleep. Or not.

So, yeah – the Great Sleep Study adventure is officially over. Well, at least test part. I spent the night in a small hospital in a room with a double bed and a kick-ass air conditioner. They glued down all the electrodes to practically every part of my skin that wasn’t covered, and a couple of parts that WERE covered. They put not one, but two oxygen sensors in my nose (I couldn’t figure this out, and inquired about it…they said one sensor measures inhalation/exhalation cycles and the other one measures the time in between the cycles). Seems like more trouble than it’s worth, but none of it was profoundly uncomfortable, or at least not painful. Being wired up to look like Mrs. Roboto is not my idea of a fun night out.

As I’ve said before, I was obsessively anxious about the prospect of having my bladder embarrass the hell out of me during the night, but fortunately that did not happen. The most unpleasant part of the whole thing was them turning out the lights at 11pm, as though I was incarcerated (which I more or less was, being imprisoned by the wiring harness on my head and body). They ordered me to go to sleep, which was interesting since I rarely go to sleep before midnight.

I laid there for almost an hour, trying to meditate and play songs in my head. I thought about many, many useless things, including my naughty bladder. Fortunately, my bladder was well behaved that night, but…I could not stay asleep regardless. I woke up no more than a half-dozen times before they unceremoniously threw me out of bed at the ungodly hour of 5:30am. The instructions had said I would have until 6:30, but…nope. It was before the sun rose, and I was NOT a happy camper. So, the nice technician unwired and unplugged me, and ta-da – all over.

I asked uf I had been breathing during the night, and commented that I was aware I woke up several times. The technician said she could not give me the results of the study, and yes she had noticed that I woke up a lot. She was cleaning off the bed and wheeling the linens out with the wires and electrodes and everything faster than I could say goodbye. On her way out, over her shoulder, her parting shot was, “You can leave whenever you want. Have a nice day!” I was dismissed, and left to remember how the hell I had gotten in there so that I could reverse my steps.

The trip home was only fifteen minutes or so, and I was inside by 5:45am. I dutifully went to the bathroom and got something to drink. I had boarded the dog because I was paranoid about her getting into something that was supposed to be one in a million odds of her getting into, so the apartment was silent. I got into bed and was sound asleep within five minutes. I slept a sleep of the dead for more than four hours, and missed an appointment with a volunteer who was going to help me haul food donations to the food bank. Dammit. Somebody at the church let him in and let him get everything, so that worked out OK, but I was duly embarrassed anyway.

It was annoying that I had slept for so long once I got home, rather than during the sleep study, but how in the world do they expect people to seamlessly descend into a deep and restful sleep in a strange place, wired up like a medieval robot, with an infrared camera that sees in the dark, and an unlocked door? I was not feeling terribly secure, and the technician did walk in at one point – waking me up – because the O2 sensor had fallen off my finger. Thanks, y’all.

I will wait to see what the doctor says. She could prescribe a CPAP, or a BIPAP, or nothing at all since I have no idea whether or not there were any indications of a problem. Whatever. I’m just glad it’s over. So is the dog, who fussed at me for over a half hour on two separate occasions after I got her home. She wasn’t terribly impressed by her sleep-away date with the kennel. Shut up, you ungrateful little cur – I bought you extra treats and new toys, and I came back to get you even though you poop all over the house. Count your blessings.

One amusing remnant of the sleep study made itself known 24 hours after it was over. I found several of the adhesive pads for the electrodes to be attached at several places on my body – two on my shoulders, one on the back of my neck, and two on my legs. The last one made itself know today, because it itched so intensely I thought I would lose my mind. When I was finally able to pull it off, it had been on there just long enough to start binding with the top layer of skin and that came off in a continuous sheer layer. It felt immediately better, though since the itching stopped. All together, I removed a total of seven and found that hilarious.

Being home now, and returning to normal routines, my anxiety over not having a job returned a bit. I went out and scanned the job search websites, and applied for a job I think I can do, but don’t really want. Actually I do want it, but I don’t believe it has a work from home option. The thought of reporting to somebody’s office is slightly nauseating, but we’ll see if anything comes of it. I have to start somewhere, and who knows what will happen. I may not even get a call-back on the application, so I don’t need to be worrying about whether there’s a work from home possibility. Even if I’m offered the job, I don’t have to take it (although at this point I probably would, just to ease some of this financial stress).

The only other notable occasion of the past few days was my preparation for the sleep study. I had to report there at 8pm on Wednesday, so I had most of the day to putz around and make myself crazy. For some reason, I was highly motivated to purchase a new pillow to bring with me to the study, and some bladder leak pads. The pads were sobering, because they resemble menstrual pads, and that is not something I care to recall. Anyway, I went to Walmart to procure those items. I had a bad feeling about that, but couldn’t figure out why. I attributed it to general anxiety about the sleep study.

On my way to the store, I somehow missed a turn and had to make a U-turn about a half-mile later. That meant I was coming at the store from a different angle, and that rattled me for some odd reason. But, I was dealing with it, and proceeded through the entrance to the Walmart parking lot. I wasn’t going very fast, since I was in a parking lot and was looking for a place to park.

There were two rather scuzzy looking guys, in masks, coming out of another store on the way to the Walmart entrance, but whatever. I continued my approach, and they started walking out of wherever they were coming from, and started on a path to cross in front of me. It was not a crosswalk. They were walking in that slow and deliberately belligerent fashion that said they didn’t care what else was in the world except themselves, and everybody could just wait for them. I was in NO mood for that, so I refused to slow down. I didn’t speed up, but I wasn’t slowing down.

The first guy was slightly faster than the second guy, and he cleared the crossing before I got there. The second guy dawdled just a little, play8ing on his phone or something, and started walking as I approached and was almost even with his shadow. I refused to slow down. It was a good day to die, I thought. He kept walking and not looking up, and then suddenly realized how close I was and backed up hastily, bending over as though he had to evade my bumper. I was miles away from him, so he was just being dramatic. I didn’t stop.

After circling a couple of times for a parking spot after I was closer to the Walmart entrance, I pulled in and opened the truck door while putting on my mask. I became aware of a figure approaching, and sure enough, it was guy #2. I saw him out of the corner of my eye, and he came up to my driver’s side window, but wisely stood back a few feet. I got out, because I figured I was going to meet anybody with the balls enough to confront me from a standing position. I think that suprised him, because he got no closer, but he started screaming.

“WHY DID YOU TRY TO RUN ME OVER!? YOU SAW ME TRYING TO CROSS AND YOU ALMOST RAN ME OVER!” I was in such a mood that I really wanted to engage with him, but thought better of it. I told him I didn’t even know who he was, which was kind of true since I had not seen his face because of the mask. It was off now, though.

“YOU MEAN YOU DON’T RECOGNIZE MY FACE? FROM RIGHT BACK THERE WHERE YOU HAD TO SEE ME AND TRIED TO RUN ME OVER!???” I said no, actually, I don’t know who the hell you are, so whatever. He went on and on about it, and by that time I had my mask firmly in place and I was tired of him screaming, so I said look…if that’s what happened, I’m sorry. OK? Then he went off AGAIN about how I hadn’t said that like I was really sorry and like I didn’t care, and I should be really glad I was a lady because…well…

Because well what, I was thinking, but I didn’t say anything. Nothing I could say would have brought him down, so I started walking toward the Walmart entrance. I was a little concerned that he might follow me and put his hands on me, because he was that mad. Fortunately, there were two police officers who were getting into their vehicle, which had been parked in the no-stopping zone at the entrance.

As the guy continued screaming at me, they went on alert and looked over in his direction. One of them looked at me, as if to say WTF, and I just shrugged and threw my hands up, like I don’t know what’s up with this guy. That was enough, because dude noticed them looking and started walking away, still yelling about how I was lucky I was a lady and I needed to learn how to drive or something. I went inside the store, but wondered if he would vandalize my truck. I figured I’d deal with that if and when I needed to.

Thank goodness that was over, I thought, but I felt awful. I felt like I probably shouldn’t have gotten so angry when he tried to cut me off by walking in front of me, and how I could have been the bigger person and taken the high road, just let him pass and driven on to do what I needed to do. I got the damned pillow, but didn’t have the heart to search for the stupid pads, so I just checked out.

I still felt awful, though, like an emotional hangover. Not a nice feeling. My truck was fine, no vandalism and no sight of dude #1 (who I think wanted none of what had unfolded earlier) or dude #2, who was probably still fuming somewhere. I proceeded toward home with my new pillow, and figured I would visit Walgreen’s later for the pads (which I did).

It still doesn’t feel good, not because I feel in any way sorry for this guy but only because I was so angry and have not been that angry for a while. The rush of adrenalin was not pleasant, and did absolutely nothing for my anxiety. It also didn’t put me in a good place to be just about to do a sleep study and controlling my bladder. Ugh. I don’t want to repeat that. I felt out of control and it wasn’t necessary. Maybe that’s why I was treated to this guy screaming and hollering like a madman, just to show me how that looks. I didn’t do that when I had the encounter with him, but I have done it in the past. And I felt exactly the same way as he did. It did neither one of us any good.

So, live and learn. My anxiety can, and does, amplify my anger. Truthfully, I don’t know if it’s the anxiety or the depression that is the amplifier, and truthfully I don’t think it really matters. I just have to cope with it. Truth be told, I’m tired of coping with all of my stuff – I want it all to just go away.. Haven’t I paid my toll on that journey?

I am whining now. Sometimes it’s just what I do. I should abandon that endeavor and go off to play with my new drone. It was just delivered yesterday, and I’ve been trying to calibrate it’s GPS and gyroscope, but I have been doing that indoors and it has not gone all that well. Tomorrow I will take it outdoors and see if that makes a difference. If it doesn’t, I will watch more YouTube videos on how to set it up and start using it. It’s a beginner drone, suitable for a first-timer like myself or a kid. Technically it is classified as a toy but it’s got some nice features. A new toy.

Toys are good. Sometimes I forget to play, and forget to learn how to do new things, so I am hoping the drone will take some of the edge off the anxiety and depression. I have my first appointment with the new psychiatrist next week, so we’ll see how that goes.

OK, one of these drone batteries is fully charged, and the other one is still trying. Hmmm. I should just leave it alone, but of course every fiber of my being wants to fiddle with it and help it somehow. I am such a pain in my own ass sometimes, causing problems that don’t have to be problems.

Off I go, into the wild blue yonder, cleverly disguised as a quad-copter drone. That’s better than weighing in on the trending debate over candy corn, and whether it’s the best Halloween candy or the worst. Yeah, the drone is just a little more interesting.

Hell yeah I want coffee! And don’t forget the creamer.

The cost of life

I reflected on the cost of freedom the other day, and now at 2am the cost of life is needing exploration. This is what happens when I can’t shut my brain down and go to sleep. Even the dog left me and went to sleep in her own bed.

Anyway, what does it cost me to live? Not monetarily, but in terms of things like ethics and morality and action and self-care. In terms of getting from point A to point B, making decisions, and learning. What does it cost me to do the right thing instead of the wrong thing? What does it cost me to do the wrong thing instead of the right thing?

When I do the wrong thing, usually something that causes harm to someone (including myself), my energy is depleted fairly quickly. My thought are consumed by the resulting cognitive disconnect, where I am wrestling with myself to understand why I do such things. How could I do such things?

Once I have completed the self-flagellation when I’ve caused harm, I have depleted my energy even more. Wrestling with myself is not pretty, and it ultimately wears me out completely. That level of exhaustion is not necessarily physical, but that can be a product of the constant negative self-talk.

I do not talk to myself well, especially when I make mistakes. It’s a habit that emulates my mother’s treatment of me when I was a teenager and young adult. Those horrid years when the world spun off its axis, when nothing was certain. It was like being an alien deposited in the bowels of hell, as I recall. But I learned the fine art of being mean, of slinging the most hurtful diatribe possible at someone who had aroused my anger. My mother was very good at it, and I worshipped at the feet of the master.

Most of the time when I’m engaging in very negative self-talk, it’s more a reflex triggered by the stress and PTSD of that time so long ago. In retrospect, it seemed that I was rebelling in any way possible at the possibility of having my spirit broken. That’s something that remains in my repertoire – when I feel as though someone in authority is trying to control me and shut me down, I go limp and passive aggressive. I ultimately suffer rather negative consequences, but I didn’t break. That’s important to me. Still.

Here’s the rub, though – when someone I believe is a friend IS controlling me, I cooperate in my own minimalization and objectification. It’s weird. Maybe that’s people pleasing to the extreme, but that’s why I feel so incredibly enraged when someone I trusted as a friend betrays me and is shown to be just another narcissistic asshole. That’s a double negative. WTF?

That has cost me over the years. Right now, I have pretty much given up on trusting just about anyone. There are maybe five people in this world I trust with anything and just about everything. Just about. I believe there are some things that will go beyond death without ever being spoken. Perhaps that’s the appropriate paradigm for me, but I have always wanted to feel that I could be a completely open book with SOMEONE. Maybe that’s not how it works.

My mother knew more about me than anyone else in the world. She was the first person I knew, even before I came into the world. It stands to reason that I would adopt her patterns and ways. I guess at this point, however, I want to adopt my own patterns and ways, not anyone else’s. That is costly in terms of my life force, I think. It’s a risk, and that definitely has a cost.

So. What is the cost of my life? I figure it can sometimes cost my soul, if I do things I know are wrong but do them anyway. Bonus points if I cause harm. Those instances haunt me, and I involuntarily re-live them over and over and over. I find it nearly impossible to forgive myself for those periods where I was not a nice person, to myself or anyone else.

I suppose the reason I don’t forgive myself is guilt, and shame. It seems that I am hard-wired for that, because once again it’s reflex for me to feel guilty and then embarrassed for having done the wrong thing. All the wrong things. That’s part of the pattern, though. Do the wrong thing, feel guilty and ashamed of it, lose the confidence to do the rest of my life. No risks taken, no joy, no accomplishment, rampant underachieving.

As I was sitting here tonight, not being able to sleep, none of this is what was on my mind. It just came out, but I think it’s somewhat productive. What WAS on my mind, though, was paying the guitar and wishing I was a little better at it. I was working out some 12-bar blues riffs in my head but I know that’s just whistling in the dark (quite literally) because none of the mental work means a damned thing until I put my fingers on the frets. I’ll do that tomorrow.

For some odd reason, I am feeling slightly more energized about cleaning up a bit in here, reclaiming my living space. I did a load of laundry today, and moved a couple of things around in my bedroom to expose the crap under it. The sleep study is still on for Wednesday night, and while tossing and turning earlier I decided that I’m going to board the dog for the night. It was really worrying me that she might get scared and stressed when I’m gone for so long and begin barking or crying in the middle of the night. I had visions of neighbors calling the complex’s police officer to investigate, and them coming in here to see what’s going on. Boarding her will be easier on me because I will know she is safe and can’t get into trouble. It would be just my luck for her to hurt herself in some way.

I am still stressed about the sleep study, but it will be what it will be. It’s not invasive, so I don’t have to be worried about that. It’s just the nervous bladder thing causing me to fret. But that’s OK – it will be a single night, not a week, so even if it’s not a good outcome it will be over soon.

Hopefully I have gotten a little sleepy now, and will be able to catch a few winks. I don’t know where that phrase originated, because I don’t think anyone winks while sleeping. American English is a strange language at times. If it was gendered it would be next to impossible.

I am going to take my self and try for sleep. It would be nice if I dreamed. Some of my dreams are just bizarre, but when I can remember them it’s interesting to connect dots to other things in my experience. Now I am just babbling.

Recharge, restore, rebound.