One Sock Missing

There I was, emptying the laundry basket and pairing up all of the socks, when I stumbled across just what this whole thing reminds me of. By “whole thing,” of course, I mean life.

Can you remember back in grade school, when a teacher would call in sick and you’d get a substitute teacher for a day or two? There were some substitutes who were really gung-ho about their job, and when they took the helm, it was basically like nothing had changed. You’d still have a coherent lesson plan and homework, the whole nine. But every now and then you’d end up with a substitute teacher who was basically just a placeholder. She’d sit at the desk, looking vaguely bored (and maybe a little frightened), and the class would spend the entire period pretending to do some busy work, but really writing notes and doodling in the margins, whatever.

I’m not saying I wasn’t like other kids; there were times when I celebrated in this kind of time wastage. It was always fun when the substitute would show a movie, or give us art exercises. But most of the time I hated the empty space. It always reeked of “waiting around.” Everyone was waiting for the next thing. Now was pointless. The busy work wasn’t going to get counted towards your grade, other than maybe towards participation. No one wanted to be there, and everyone knew it. You were all stuck together, sharing the same time suck against your wills, waiting for lunch, or recess, or the bus ride home, whatever came next. Even math class was preferable to the emptiness of substitute hell.

Anyway, that’s what this feels like. Empty. Endless. Monotonous. I’m tired of being here. It is pointless to exist, and at the heart of it, I believe that there is nothing else but this pointlessness. How disappointing.

But ultimately, this realization is what I’ve been trying to get to, I believe. An understanding of what was at my core, what I’ve been overlooking, blanketed as it was by the symptoms of my anxiety and comforted by my food addiction. Now that I can feel it properly, I know that it’s something I’ve felt before, and tried to ignore (many times, in fact). But I’m a different person this time, so I’ll try a new approach. I’ll try being mindful of this big empty closet that is life, and see if I can put a few things into it, to make the void seem a little less like an echo chamber. To find a way to be comforted, and to comfort, until I can finally be done with being.

What’s On The Tube?

One of my earliest memories is of a TV show. Not Sesame Street or Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood (though I certainly remember both of those shows fondly), but The Jeffersons. I watched that show religiously every afternoon, around the time my Mum was fixing dinner. One day, just before the show was about to start, our TV gave up the ghost. There was a big POP! and a fizzle, and the television was no more. This was the early 1980s, so the working parts inside of a television were a lot different back then. Either way, it was time to get a new TV. In later years, I was to experience a similar situation where the television died, and my then boyfriend calmly walked out of the house, went down the street to the Best Buy a few blocks away, bought a new TV, and was back in less than an hour. But when four-year-old Anna pitched a fit about the television breaking, demanding that her mother drop everything she was doing and go find a new TV in time to watch The Jeffersons, she got nothing for her efforts.

In my memory, my Mum was actually pretty cool about the whole thing. In her customary “this child is nuts, there’s no fixing this situation, OK, let’s keep a cool head” way, she frowned (even her forehead got involved in the effort – my Mum has a very expressive countenance), explained that televisions were expensive and I should get used to not having one, then immediately went back to doing whatever she had been doing in the kitchen. I got the point – mostly that one more word out of me would mean punishment. Obviously, I was upset (no “Weezy!” for how long???) but I got over it. Who knows, maybe losing George Jefferson was the impetus behind me becoming a champion reader. Or maybe not. I don’t remember how long it took for my father to buy a new TV, but it couldn’t have been that long. I can’t imagine him going without the old boob tube for longer than a few days, max.

Tonight I was thinking about television shows that I’ve absorbed over the years, and how in some ways, I’m composed of them. The favorites have stuck with me for an awfully long time. It might mean nothing, or it might mean just the smallest bit of something. I’m sure it means less than a lot, but more than zero. So it felt right to start collecting those shows here. I’ll stop waxing ridiculous and just start the list, in more-or-less the order I remember watching them in:

  1. Sesame Street
  2. Mr. Rogers
  3. 3-2-1 Contact
  4. Lassie
  5. The Jeffersons
  6. Fraggle Rock
  7. Pound Puppies
  8. Sanford & Son
  9. Garfield & Friends
  10. Star Trek: The Original Series
  11. Captain Power
  12. Family Ties
  13. Benson
  14. Silver Spoons
  15. Miami Vice (NB: I didn’t watch this show, but vividly remember it in regards to my relationship with my mom, who watched it religiously.)
  16. The Cosby Show
  17. 227
  18. The Storyteller
  19. Perfect Strangers
  20. Alf
  21. Growing Pains
  22. The Pirates of Darkwater
  23. Different World
  24. Full House
  25. M*A*S*H*
  26. Quantum Leap
  27. Star Trek: The Next Generation
  28. The Simpsons
  29. Head of the Class
  30. Fresh Prince of Bel Air
  31. Blossom
  32. Days of Our Lives
  33. Passions
  34. Saturday Night Live
  35. Saved By the Bell
  36. California Dreams
  37. MST3K
  38. Pop Up Video

(I’m stopping at high school for the night…I’ll come back to finish this later.)

 

Label That Feeling For Later

It’s Day 20 of my social media detox. I have my second terrible cold of the year, and it feels like my head is swaddled in at least one large duvet. My hearing is shot, I can’t breathe out of my nose, and my eyes aren’t watering, exactly, just feeling old and tired. I am also incredibly bored. Like, monumentally bored. BORED. The kind of bored that made you angsty as a little kid. The kind of bored I haven’t been in I can’t remember how long, because I’ve been filling all that empty space in with Facebook, TV, or just generally being incredibly anxious about gods-know-what.

I finished reading my third book in four days today at lunch, and I’m not really feeling like starting a new one yet. The apartment could use a good deep cleaning, but when my nose and throat are this irritated, the solvents from the different cleaning solutions make everything swell up and make every breath torture, as I learned the hard way last night, when I tried to spray down my kitchen counters and had to leave the house. So nothing more than vacuuming and dish washing is getting done tonight. I could watch TV, but I just don’t feel like it. I spent a little time dream-shopping for new apartments in new hometowns on Craigslist – that was fun. My favorites were the mid century mod apartment buildings in Phoenix, and a cute apartment in an old Victorian house in Maine.

But the real reason I’m taking a moment to write is that I think I might have stumbled across something, due to this pesky cold, and I want to label it now while I can see it most clearly. So here it goes:

Today I can’t breathe through my nose, so I can’t smell properly. And because I can’t smell properly, everything I’ve eaten today has been unappetizing. I could barely force myself to finish my tiny little container of curried chickpeas at lunch. That is something with which I’m entirely unfamiliar, as I generally have no stopping mechanism, so I have to control my portion sizes to get myself to end a meal. Stopping before the food is gone is almost alien to me. This being said, while I have no drive to eat today, I AM incredibly bored. Do you get where this is going? I think I’m feeling a boredom I don’t normally feel because typically, when my mind starts pushing me closer to this state, I eat. I eat when I’m bored, to cover up the feeling (which apparently I’ve been doing rather well), and then, once I’m done eating, I move on to other things, like feeling terrible about myself. Voila! Solution to boredom is feeding the anxiety. Literally.

Space, Time, Money

There is seldom any controversy in my household, since I live alone, with three cats for companions. But this is why, when there are disagreements with others in my life – even disagreements that live entirely in my head, never seeing the light of day – my tiny apartment becomes integral to my need for refuge and respite. In the same way, though, living in such a small space provides its own challenges. For someone who likes to share so much of herself in writing, in person I guard my space jealously. I don’t think clearly without a great deal of alone time. It’s hard to work out your problems when other people are on top of you, all day, every day. At this point in my life, I find it hard to believe that I’d ever be able to share my personal living space with another human being again (at least, any living space possible on my current meagre budget…maybe if I had a mansion, or at least two big apartments, side by side).

These were the thoughts taken into account last week, when I asked the boyfriend to give me some space. Not “we’re breaking up” space, or “stay out of my business” space, just literal SPACE. The ability to come home to my apartment in the evening, tired from work, without finding another human already here, watching TV, when I need silence and a hot shower to recover from my day. The knowledge that when I fall asleep at night, I can angle my body across the bed, and the only thing that might wake me up is a cat walking across my face (This is Isabel, every time. The cat has no shame.). An understanding that I can wake up at 7am and turn on every light in the house, even bang the pots and pans if I feel the need, no keeping my noises in check to avoid upsetting anyone. The ability to make every single choice in my space for myself, with no internal checks to make sure I wouldn’t be hurting/disappointing/irritating/in any way affecting another human being. Not feeling judged or inadequate about anything I choose to do, from cooking to reading romance novels to letting the floor go without vacuuming for way too long. Just living life on my terms, and getting to forego the exhaustion of constantly weighing my actions against the needs of others, even in a space that should be 100% my own, and free of judgment (but is not, of course, because I’m still in it).

Over the last couple of days, I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with my finances. My freelancing job has dried up. I was having a hard time working 8 to 10 hours a day at my hotel job, a trip to the gym, a walk home, then fitting in freelance work on top of all that, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t need the extra income. Munky’s illness over Mardi Gras ensured that I started out March $500 in the hole, and I had an unexpected bill come in yesterday, as well. To be honest, adopting Charlie last summer was the first step in creating my current budget woes – all those checkups and shots and getting fixed, plus the little sprained leg when he first came my way. I love all of these cats, but they’ve really pushed me. Let’s not even consider what will happen as Isabel gets older. But it’s not all their fault. My biggest spending area has always been eating. Let’s not sugarcoat it. I have an addiction, and I keep it fed and fat and sassy. It has to stop. I’ve spent the last couple of days working and reworking my budget, trying to figure out how to make things work right now. I had a nightmare last night that the landlord raised my rent by $50, which in reality is the only padding I have at the end of each month. I woke up in a cold sweat.

On Monday I’ll talk to my manager about picking up some front desk shifts, even though I don’t know if I have the stamina for a full week of my regular job (which also regularly includes some overtime hours) plus 16 to 24 more hours standing at the front desk, smiling at all of those people overwrought from countless hours of travel, needy in ways I’ve yet to intuit, demanding a level of coddling that goes above and beyond everything I’ve previously known about hospitality. And this is assuming he can fit me in there; I don’t know if there are even any shift possibilities.

I don’t have the option of quitting my job to find something that pays better. For the first time in years, I really enjoy what I do. And I love working for Marriott; it’s a great company. All I need to do is hang in there, and eventually raises and promotions will come, and I’ll be fine. Just have to find a way to survive in the meantime.

In a weird way, this is going to be very good for me. It will help with the compulsive eating, as it’s hard to binge eat when you don’t have the money for food. I can make my budget stretch – eggs for the morning (free bacon at work), a crockpot of curry for my lunches, salads for dinner. I’m not sure how I’ll pay the donation at my Refuge Recovery meeting tomorrow night, but I might scrounge up change in the couch cushions and just explain I’m in a tight spot. My biggest worry in this particular moment is that I started getting a cold a few days ago, and at first it felt like nothing, but today I woke up with chest congestion and a deep, rattling cough and what seems to be a sinus headache. I’ve resolved to walk to the Dollar General at the end of the Bywater to see if they have any discounted medicine in the sale aisle. I also need to pick up some eggs, diced tomatoes, and coconut milk for the curry. I seem to remember that their canned good prices are pretty cheap. Much more of a savings than the food co-op, that’s a guarantee. Nothing organic, and probably everything low quality, but such is life.

In other news, it’s Day 18 of the social media detox, and I’m not going back to Facebook. It’s weirdly both an anxiety-machine and an anesthetic. I’ve gotten more reading done in the last three months than in all of last year, and my anxiety levels are significantly diminished. I’m talking to less people on a daily basis, without Facebook to encourage some conversations, but when I do talk to people, there is purpose and fullness. It is real.

I’ve also had some great one-on-one interactions with friends in the last week; it gives me hope for perhaps having a life in the future. I re-joined Meetup.com, and found two groups of outdoor enthusiasts who hike and camp, go birdwatching, etc. in Louisiana. I don’t have the money to participate much at the moment (still missing some basic equipment for backpacking trips), but it makes me excited to think that I could start shaping my life to include more of my interests, and finding friends who enjoy the same things I do. Maybe I wouldn’t have to try so hard or worry so much about fitting in. Which is really a funny statement to write, because my solution to worrying about fitting in has always been to just forgo it, entirely. Anyway, that’s a thought for another blog post.

One of my girlfriends told me the other day that she’s planning to sell her condo and buy a house, preferably a double shotgun so she can rent out the other side. She told me that I was the first person who popped into her head, and she wanted me to be her tenant if she finds a place that she can afford to buy and I can afford to rent. I told her where I am right now, budget-wise, and that I’m happy to pay with additional elbow grease as she gets the house fixed up. We’ve known each other for over 10 years now, and I think we’d work really well together in a landlord/renter situation, sharing two sides of the same house. So I’m excited about that, even though it’s probably months away. Now to just cross my fingers that my rent here doesn’t go up $50 in the meantime…

Fur Faces

Just like humans, cats’ faces change by the second, reflecting their various moods and whatever point they’re trying to get across at the moment. Of course, no one likes to get a camera stuck in their face by surprise, and knowing that I was bound to tick off a whole house full of cats tonight, I chased everyone around to get in their business and see what kinds of shots could be taken. I feel pretty good about catching everyone in a natural pose.

Isabel2017B&W.jpg

Isabel, who turns 10 this year, is typically solemn and a little suspicious (she takes after the human in the household). Here, she stands on my lap and asks what I’m doing waving my iPhone in her face. I’m sitting on the bed, and everyone knows that the bed is for cuddling with Izzy, not for taking crummy snapshots.

Munky2017B&W.jpg

Munky is 7 years old, and spends the majority of his energy seeking out kibble and affection. This is him trying to look nonchalant while also making googly eyes at me in hopes that he’ll get a butt rub. He did.

Charlie2017B&W

Charlie’s still a baby, not even a year old yet, but already Isabel’s size. He’s all muscle, and spends most of his time running amuck. He plays fetch, and he makes little turkey gobble noises as he throws his body around the house at top speed. At night the house sounds like “GOBBLE! THUMP, THUMP, THUMP, CRASH! THUD. GOBBLE! THUMP, THUMP, THUMP…”He’s also just learning how to be a proper cat, and is experimenting with cuddling for hours, purring for a second or two, and finally understanding the thrill of catnip. Don’t let this look fool you; he’s a maniac.

Druza2017B&W

Druza is an outside cat who technically belongs to my neighbor, but spends a lot of time on my front porch. He rules the neighborhood, and has his own barstool at a bar down the street. I feed him wet food when he visits, so it’s not uncommon to be walking back from the grocery store and find I’m being escorted home by a fierce little cat king. He seems to be composed entirely of bad attitude, and will consent to exactly one light body rub or two head kisses before he gets bored with you and walks away. This is him asking what the hell I’m doing interrupting his beauty sleep. 

This post was a response to the Daily Post Photo Challenge prompt, Atop.

Pining For The Moon

I find it incredibly easy to forget myself. I get lost, you see. Daydreams, dreams, plans, avoidance, immersion, but seldom just ME. In retrospect, this is probably why I loved the Camino so much. I was stripped down to my bare essentials, and set adrift on a lonely path, to do whatever came to mind in the moment. It was a relief, and the most natural thing in the world. I had nothing but each moment, and when the moment was done, the next. But now I am back from that place, and in this one, and even though I am again adrift upon a lonely path, this one is strewn with faces and voices and strange obligations. And so I am pulled this way and that, constantly reforming, conforming, adjusting, melting into whatever it is that I think I should be next. I don’t want to do it anymore. Is it really so odd to want to find a safe, quiet spot to contemplate the heavens?

I think I must be feeling anxious today. At face value, I feel calm, but I’m breathing through an urge to go home and throw everything in my house out onto the sidewalk. The apartment is too cluttered. One of my sidetables’ legs came off. It’s still standing, listing dangerously to the left. I moved the stack of books and the tall, brown lamp with its burlap shade to the right side of the table, just in case that helped balance it out a bit (though I doubt it). I should have cleared everything away, but I find I’ve been both annoyed and strangely pleased to witness the table’s slow demise. Am I pleased at my own annoyance? Yes, I think that’s true. What on earth is wrong with me?

Some days I imagine people giving me compliments, and practice reacting without a sneer or a frown. I tell myself “You’re so beautiful,” and “I love you,” and “I want you in my life,” as though I’m a handsome mystery man who’s just fallen suddenly and irrevocably in love with me. I never believe it. Last night I had an imaginary conversation with an ex-boyfriend from high school who came to pick me up for our 20-year high school reunion (this is all in my head, of course, as the reunion is still two years away, and I’ll be driving a rental, by myself). He drove up to my parents’ house, and I came out to meet him outside, moving to get into the car immediately, as he got out of the car to come inside and say hi to my parents. I urged him to get back in the car. “Don’t you want me to come inside?” he said in my head. In real life, I started crying in the mirror while I told myself the story. See what I mean about living in my daydreams?

Anyway, it’s time to go to the gym. I don’t want to. I’m worn out from being so bored at work today. There was a moment of panic first thing this morning, but it was easily corrected, and now I’m just here, watching the minutes tick down, wishing my fingers weren’t numb from this overabundance of air conditioning.

 

 

 

It’s Day 13

Trinity’s newest little boy was born today. He’s huge, almost 8 lbs. She’s quite petite, so he was looking like an extra-large watermelon there at the end. I’m sure she’s very relieved to no longer be pregnant, and happy that he’s a healthy little dude. I’m not the best judge of baby looks, but he seemed chubby and sweet, in that way of all sleeping newborns.

Today has been off and on for me. I went to a meeting of Refuge Recovery last night, a Buddhist recovery program for people dealing with addictions of all kinds. I’m finally ready to come to terms with the fact that I have an unhealthy relationship with food, and I need help. Coming off of social media, taking one onion-layer of anxiety out of my life, has given me the strength to look at what else is there, how I’ve been suffering, and ultimately, how I’ve been adding to my own suffering with a cycle of negative behavior.

Anyway, I heard about the meeting at the beginning of the week, attended it last night, and liked it. There’s this duality to dealing with binge eating, where it’s easy to look at this and go “but people have to eat, and I’m a person – clearly there’s nothing wrong with me, I’m just eating like any other human.” Then I eat a whole pizza and side of wings by myself, and feel like a total sack of shit for the next few days, until I get sad or happy or angry and do it again. So I walked into the meeting feeling like a fraud. I knew I needed it, I knew I have a problem, but I was still able to convince myself that perhaps I was just being overdramatic.

But then people started talking, and it was painfully obvious that, though I might not be smoking crack or guzzling booze, the things that lead me to eat compulsively, and the way in which I do it, and the way I feel about it in my general life, these are all things I had in common with the rest of the circle. And no one judged me the way that I constantly judge myself. They were friendly and welcoming, and just normal people who have some flaws they’re working on. I felt at home there. I plan to go back next Sunday, but in the mean time, I also want to start reading the book on which the group is based, and start working towards meditating for general purposes, as well.

Later:

I just took a break to watch a weird IFC movie on Hulu where a lady’s husband is killed right before Christmas, and she goes on to have a mini nervous breakdown involving strippers, drugs, compulsive shopping, and slightly less compulsive shoplifting. Typically that kind of movie would be my thing, but tonight it just wasn’t cutting it. But now I’m back, knowing that it’s almost time to get in bed, realizing that I haven’t talked about my day just yet. So here goes the 1 minute recap:

Work was good, with a few “house on fire” problems that weren’t my fault (yay!) that I was able to handle quickly (double yay!). I had fun talking with my coworkers, and saw one of my coworkers who typically works remotely. She and I sometimes joke back and forth a little via email, but she’s very efficient and business-like. Today was the first time getting to interact with her a bit more casually, and I really like her. If she’s in the office tomorrow, I plan to ask her how I might plan to go about working up to her job. She does the same thing that I do, except that while I take care of room blocks for events at one hotel, she coordinates the citywide room blocks, where one large convention might have blocks of rooms at 5 to 10 hotels (or maybe more, I don’t know). I’m not up to that level of awesomeness, but with enough practice, I think I could handle what she’s doing one day. More than that, I think I’d really enjoy it.

After work, I went to work out at the gym. I didn’t make it there in the morning as planned, though it’s not a huge surprise. After I’d finished working out, I ran into my friend Theo, and we planned to maybe meet up tomorrow afternoon. So that’s nice. Low probability of gym in the morning, but nearly definite probability of afternoon gym time, so I’ll take it!

Not much after that. I meant to go to a community kirtan class at my yoga studio, but I got excited about going a little earlier in the day when I thought some friends might go with me, then when I found out they wouldn’t be able to make it, I got a little sad and decided to stay home. Which makes absolutely no sense, yes, I know. I skipped doing a thing I love because I didn’t have anyone to share it with (except every other person in the damn class). But there’s no reason to be down on myself for any longer than I have been. I ate a really nice shrimp caesar salad, watched the aforementioned movie, and am now about to hit the hay with the intention of getting at least 7, maybe even 8 hours of sleep. Heavenly.

Oh yeah, I forgot the most important part. My anxiety has been seriously down. I’m feeling even-keeled. To be fair, I have been living in my fantasy world again pretty heavily for the last few days, and making all these future plans willy nilly. But if I’m not feeling like I might implode at any moment during the day, I’ll trade it out for a little dreaminess for awhile, and keep making little steps in the right direction. Still need to find a therapist, but I’m having trouble figuring out how to pay for it. Maybe if I can watch what I’m eating, I’ll find that my food bills are much less, and will carve the way for me to pay for therapy. Who knows.