Marching Forth

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It’s the fourth day of Lent, which happens to also be the fourth day of March, hence the silly post title. It’s late at night, and I am sitting on the couch in my underwear, watching a trio of cats go about their nightly ablutions. I should probably be weirded out that they’re all in sync, but I’m too tired to care much. Maybe they’ll all decide to go to sleep when I do, and I’ll get a really good night’s rest. Nope, the youngest just zoomed across the apartment and skittered under the bed like a little maniac. Oh well, it was a nice thought while it lasted.

My apartment smells vinegary, like maybe there’s mold growing in the air conditioner. I’ll have to see about getting an AC repair person in to clean it out before long. I also need to find a handyman who can patch the sheetrock above the window where I slipped and grabbed the curtain and pulled the curtain rod out of the wall (then tried to put it back with spray foam, which kind of worked for a few months). And need to talk to the landlord about the kitchen sink water pressure, since it’s slowed to nearly a dribble. Also, time to replace the toilet seat and the shower/tub knobs. While we’re at it, let’s make a wish to the genie to send us an upholsterer to reupholster this couch, and put new foam in the cushions while he’s at it. Isn’t it funny how long you can just keep ignoring your problems if you work hard enough at it?

Today was a good day. Last night, the boyfriend and I went with one of our good friends to watch Logan (awesome), then met up with four other friends at Holy Ground, my favorite little Irish pub. I didn’t really struggle with not having my cell phone at my disposal, but there were a few times when I was vaguely uncomfortable and realized that typically I’d have Facebook out by now. Both of my girlfriends who were there were on their phones most of the time, and it made me vaguely sad that we couldn’t just all be talking. But we did talk about the photos and stories they were looking at on their phones, so it wasn’t as though I were being ignored. It was just something to think about.

While we were chatting outside by the front door, getting ready to leave, a group of guys in their mid-20’s came up and asked us how to catch the streetcar to head back to the French Quarter. I taught one of the guys how to use Google Maps to find out public transportation schedules and transit times. It was a nice interaction; the wait times were long, so I convinced them to try out this bar instead of heading all the way to the French Quarter. It felt nice to just be chatting to strangers for a second, but maybe because I had the upper hand and they were just being grateful and respectful.

After we got home, the boyfriend and I stayed up and talked for a couple of hours. That was also great, since we’re not on the same schedule anymore, so it’s tough to find the time to connect in meaningful ways. I’ve been way too anxious to go out to public things, so this was the first time in a while that we went out and did a fun thing together, and probably the first time ever where we went out and had fun without either of us getting on social media at any point during the night. Golden.

Today we got up and went to a late breakfast at Horn’s, then ran some errands until it was time for him to get ready for work. I cleaned the house, then went to The Franklin to grab dinner with Dena, a friend from Nashville whom I met on the Camino in 2015. She and her boyfriend Scott are in town before heading off on a cruise tomorrow. It was a wonderful dinner. Neither of them were drinking at the moment, so she and I shared one Estrella Galicia in celebration of Spain, then we had a perfectly lovely dinner with lots of water, and talked Camino, spirit, meditation, life, pain, humanity, all the best bits that I love to discuss. It was so great getting to hang out with the both of them. She’s the first Camino friend I’ve seen in person outside of Spain. Hopefully there will be more of these moments to come.

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It just passed midnight, and my blog title is no longer relevant. Whatever, I’m keeping it. It’s time for bed. I picked up a few great books at the free library this afternoon, so I think I’m going to get to sleep now, then wake up and read all morning on the front porch.

Blueberries With Broken Wings

It’s Day 3 of no Facebook (and coincidentally, no alcohol). It is also Day 3 of Lent, but not Day 3 of anything else. I have yet to give up caffeine, or sugar, or dairy, which is good, since I just drank a lovely Vietnamese iced coffee containing heaps of all three. Yes, I know that they’re terrible for me, but just don’t have the extra willpower necessary to cut out all joy in one fell swoop. I’ll give the social media withdrawal symptoms a little while longer to subside, then recalculate.

Anyway, yeah, where was I? Day 3. Also Friday. Also two days after rent was due, and a few days before a bunch of other random bills are due, and one day before I get kicked out of magick school for not checking in for the month, and one day before I meet up with a friend from the Camino who happens to be in town to visit, and two days before I have to go back to work, and four days since my cat came down with another UTI and cost me my rent, and…meh, who cares what day it is?

I only typed Facebook into the URL by mistake maybe four times today so far, but I did go to Zulily to “window shop” four or five times, and I definitely reread my last couple of blog posts on here a few times, so it’s not like I’m magically no longer procrastinating online. I’m just not procrastinating in as disjointed and turbulent a way. Hopefully that means something.

As far as conversations with real humans go, I’m currently at the coffee shop with the boyfriend, and we’ve been talking about going to watch a movie. And a friend/coworker of mine came over to see me at the shop, bringing his new significant other, whom I’d never met before, so I met a new person today (and he was very nice, but that’s Canadians for you, eh?) Also, the guy at the table behind me has been kicking my chair pretty consistently over the last hour, so that’s a form of interaction. He’s lucky I’m a very patient lady, and my only response has been to move the chair a little to the right to hopefully give him more foot room. It didn’t help. He’s just one of those jerks who doesn’t pay attention to his surroundings and later gets run over by a bus. Probably not, but a girl can dream.

Also, I got invited out to dinner with a group of friends! I’m not hungry, though. But it was nice of them to ask.

Emotionally, all is good. I’m feeling especially fat and bloated today, and my face looks like a solid sphere when I look in the mirror, but I’m not sure if that’s true or not. I do seem to remember that last time the anxiety and depression were this bad, I was suffering from a touch of body dysmorphia, too, so it’s a good bet that it’s half and half – I’m both fatter than I want to be and seeing myself as a giant blueberry creature because I’m a tad off in the head. Oh well. Only so many things I can tackle at one time.

Speaking of tackling things, I FINALLY scored a doctor’s appointment. Not a psych appointment, because I’m still having trouble finding one that takes my insurance plan, but at least I was able to arrange to see a gynecologist in a couple of weeks. Which is great, because I am very ready to start proceedings to get my tubes tied and get this whole fertility question answered once and for all. I’ll take “No Babies Ever” for $1,000, Alex. That’ll be an incredible load off. A little sad, since I’m officially the last of my line, being my parents’ only child, but I have no interest in producing offspring from scratch, or giving anyone else permission to ruin what’s left of my figure and give me more wrinkles in the process. If I’m ever in the financial position to take care of myself like a real adult, you know, with a little nest egg, and an apartment that’s larger than the back seat of a Volkswagen, I’d love to consider fostering children. But that’s a question for 10 years from now. Right now is the time to start going through the motions of explaining to any number of doctors that no, I don’t want kids, and yes, I’m qualified to make this decision all by myself, without a man calling the shots. We’ll see what happens. I’ve heard too many stories of women who aren’t trusted by their medical professionals to make up their own minds about how to use (or in this case, not use) their own bodies.

There’s a man here at the cafe with the most beautiful blue and purple hair, complete with a big blue and purple beard AND a blue and purple handlebar mustache. His hair game is on point, and I am filled with awe and a touch of envy. I miss my blue hair. I miss living a less structured life, even though I know that it wasn’t healthy for me, at least in the state I was in. I’m not thriving, and I don’t think I know how to. But I do know that when I’m left up to my own devices, without any structure, I fall right out of the nest and linger, starving, on the sidewalk. At least the structure acts as a kind of safety net. Either way, I’m restricted, but I guess it’s better to get fat in the net than get stepped on on the sidewalk. This analogy is tedious. I’ll leave you with the song of the day…

Day Two: Kyrie Eleison

Munky is curled up my lap and refuses to get off, so I’m writing this from a Macbook propped precariously on the back of a rather fat, annoyed, and slightly under-the-weather tabby cat. You insist on the lap, you have to take the consequences. *Pauses typing to accommodate overly emphatic tail swish.*

I am emotionally worn out, and need to make this quick. My day started with a text from my dearest cousin to say I love you in the way that only we share. Soon after, I got another text from my college roommate, to say she was in labor with her second child (and is still, unless I’ve missed any memos). I walked to work, and listened to “Kyrie,” by Mr. Mister, a few times. It’s been my top song for the last few days. I read this interesting autobiography a week or so ago by an Irish musician who mentioned hearing “Kyrie Eleison” being sung in church, and I got kind of obsessed with listening to various versions of the actual song. Then one day I remembered loving this silly rock song as a kid, and surprise, surprise, now it turns out that the song is directly referencing an inner Camino. So it’s been on heavy rotation lately, helping me untangle myself. Here’s the real deal, in case you’ve never heard it:

Work happened. There were a variety of screw-ups and triumphs. I’d gotten some math wrong yesterday, and had to deal with the consequences today. A housekeeper yelled at me because she needed to yell at someone and I was the only person available. A sales person in one of our other offices was let go, and consequences rippled out from there. A guest was angry that central reservations had told her the hotel was a short walk from the convention center, when it’s actually about 20 minutes away, and expressed her displeasure to me at great length, since I was the first person she saw (there’s a pattern to my day, isn’t there?). A trio of travel agents asked for an impromptu tour of the hotel, and brought their own scorecards to rate various facets of the hotel AND my performance in showing them around. By the time I walked out of the office at 5pm, I felt bruised and battered.

Today I found out that my TripAdvisor account (necessary for work) was also linked to my Facebook account, and I couldn’t log into it without reactivating Facebook. So I had to make a whole new account, which is fine, but was a time suck, to be sure.

After work, I went back home to grab my dirty laundry and head to the laundromat. My parents had called a couple of times over the course of Mardi Gras, and I hadn’t had time to call them back yet, so while my sheets were washing, I called for what I thought would be a short call. It ended up being two hours, and being mostly nice. There was lots of wasted conversation, of course. I hate smalltalk, but it has to be done. I wish I was the kind of person who could stop someone and say, “Yes, you’ve told me that five times already!” But I can’t, because it’s not polite, end of story. You just have to suck it up and write off those ten minutes of your day, and be grateful that you still have a parent to talk to, because so-and-so’s parents are dead (possibly because so-and-so was honest about the smalltalk being boring, and her parents dropped dead instantly). Yeah, I know, I’m super mean. I’ll get what I deserve for being a terrible person. Blah, blah, blah.

Anyway, my dad asked me how I was doing, and I told him the truth, that I’m not OK, I’ve mostly been white-knuckling it lately, and am doing my best to take the steps necessary to treat my anxiety. That I’m considering bankruptcy, because I can’t figure out how to carve a path out of the debt. That I’m not going to kill myself, but that’s all I can promise. That I have a hard time leaving the house. He listened, and then for a couple of minutes, it went downhill. We were back to where I regretted being honest, because he laughs it off and turns it back to a story about how he’s had it so much worse before. Like it’s some awful contest. So I reacted in the only way I’ve learned to keep my temper in check. Don’t fight back. Don’t make it worse. Just let it go. Realize he’s not my therapist, and not capable of helping, and not trying to hurt, even if he is. I thought briefly about just hanging up. But then the weirdest thing happened. It was like he caught himself mid-stride and heard that he was hurting me. He suddenly got serious and told me that he loved me and I could always talk to him if I needed him, and he knew where I was coming from, and had faith that I was going to be OK. My mom chimed in from the background that I could always call her, anytime. It was really nice. I know they both mean it.

The boyfriend is also foregoing Facebook for Lent, and around mid-afternoon, I texted him to see how his day was going, telling him that I was just so worn out already. He reminded me that I’m used to getting many mini-doses of dopamine throughout the day. My body and mind are going to be going through withdrawals from social media for awhile yet. He mentioned feeling anger. I mostly feel sad. I’ve been crying the whole time I’ve been typing this, and am only just now realizing that the front of my shirt is soaked.

I keep remembering what it felt like a couple of months after the Camino, when I felt like someone had taken a grapefruit spoon to my inner self, and scooped all of me out. Plop. I was a husk. I just laid in bed, watching Call the Midwife for days. Just thinking of my cats made me cry. I started to see my dead friend Josh everywhere. I felt like I was already just a milky memory to anyone who had known me. I barely remembered myself. This time, the feeling has been hanging around since Monday. I don’t like to think of it, but this is probably going to get worse before it gets better.

Luckily, Munky seems to be feeling better, and now I’ve got freshly laundered sheets, so that’s something. It’s time to pill the cat, clean out the litter boxes, sweep the floor, put sheets on the bed, and get some shuteye.