Cell Number (June 19, 2017)

Yesterday was a mix of sadness and beauty.  It was my pastor’s last Sunday as the Senior Minister at our church.  The last few months have been filled with anxiety and grief because of this retirement that unfortunately we were not ready for, and neither was she.

I became her verger a few months after I started at this church.  I asked to do it.  I wanted to be around her, to help with the service, to be more than a person in the pews.  It was a mostly useless role, but she allowed it, so I straightened her stole and fixed her hair, and made the occasional photo copy in preparation of the service.  It was more for me than for her.

Yesterday, Fathers’ Day, her last day, she made very special.  She played her guitar and sang to us, sang with us, had her men’s choir sing for us.  She gave the little kids tubes of bubbles to give to their dads and make them run through the yard and lighten up, and she had those same little kids pass out little white paper bags of grass seed to all the men, because one thing men always need is grass seed.  And with it comes the angels whispering to the blades of grass, “grow, grow, grow.”

I sat near the front during the service, per her request, I think – I might have just imagined that she asked me to be near the front.  I knew it would be a hard day for her.  Her mother was there, and more than the usual Sunday crowd was there too, trying to loosen their grip on her hands, trying to send her off.  I didn’t cry once, although I wanted to several times.  I could hear my departed grandmother’s voice saying, “Now is not the time to cry.”  She was right – this was the time to be strong and offer a smiling face to reassure my pastor that she could get through this service, that we will go on, that our lives as people grounded in God’s love will go on, one way or another.  I don’t know quite how she pulled it off – everything she did for us, for this service, and in general.

After the service and the reception, she and I were talking about a future time to meet up, hopefully next month.  I have tried, unsuccessfully,  to quell my ragged nerve of abandonment and not feel so desperate, and instead let her take the time she and her husband need to adjust to their new lives, to get the things done for themselves that were neglected in order to take care of us, to enjoy their lives, and to rest and travel.  Then I asked her one simple question:  “I don’t have your personal cell number, so will you call me?”  But I did have her cell number, she said.  It was the number I, and the entire parish, had been using all along.

I am not used to this – to a pastor whose life and work are not separated by a moat of fire, protecting that ‘real’ life – something I, and we the parish, are not a part of.  The separation was never there to begin with.

True pastors are rare.  When you find one, give all the love you can to her, or him, because they have given, and are giving us more than we can know.

Old stuff

Along For The Ride

by halfmindedsunflower

          I am not content.  I ruminate over stuff that was said and it makes me want to pound my fists and argue.  But I don’t.  Because I can’t argue theology and church history with the best of them.  I can only say what I feel.
          Things are not done as they should be in my opinion.  Communion should not be taken so lightly that the elements are changed, that intinction is employed, that it is only done once per month.  But why do I feel this way?  Because this is what I know and had gotten used to?  There was a time when I was advised not consume any wheat, so a non-wheat Communion wafer was provided for me.  For that I was very grateful that the elements were changed so I could be included.  But grape juice… well, sorry teetotalers, but you got this part wrong.  But would I feel this way if I was a recovering alcoholic? Probably not.  Yet something is lost for me with the dunking and the grape juice.  It seems flippant.  But I participate out of a desire not to be so rude as to abstain – – I don’t think abstaining is ‘done’ where I am right now so it would be especially noticeable.  I think Jesus would not be happy with me if I did that, if I was so rude when something was done with a special meaning, and I was invited, and I turned my nose up at it.  I use the little cups, not the big cup where everyone else has dunked their germy bread before me.  (I nearly died from someone else’s poor hand-washing practices, but I won’t go into the details here as they are quite disturbing.  I only bring this up to explain why I don’t use the big cup since it is non-alcoholic and thus non-germ-killing.)
          I still practice some of my former traditions.  I still pray the rosary, I still talk to my saint, I still use Anglican prayer beads, I still sign myself with the big cross before Communion, I still put the 3 small crosses on my forehead, lips, and chest before the Gospel is read.  I don’t see others doing it.  And they probably wonder why I do.  Because it’s important.  That’s why.  Put whatever label you want to on it, but it changes me – it prepares me and reminds me what I’m doing, what is being done, and that it’s important.
          I find my feathers occasionally ruffled when traditions that I used to practice are criticized.  Often we are criticizing based on what someone else told us – someone who may or may not be right in their thinking. One of the traditions that I left was not because I had major issues with the practices themselves, but because some of the local clergy polluted it enough that I could no longer find the safe waters.  After years of trying, worn down by circular arguments and finding out more lies were told, and still are told – about me, about others, I simply threw my hands in the air and walked away.  It was not a battle worth winning anymore.  I needed to get back to the business or worship, and give up the business of trying to stay in a particular tradition, in a battle I fought solely and had to abandon to lies and deceit.
          No theologian, no cleric, no organization, no person is right about everything.  And that’s what I have to remind myself – all the time. And that I am not right about everything.  And I wonder why I can’t just be content with this truth.  And why I feel compelled to be part of a church.  And why I am constantly finding fault in things which I both can and can’t defend.  Why can’t I just let it go, and let it be what it is, and either be there, or don’t be there?
          I think the reason is this: God does not want me to be content.  Not in a punitive way, but in a way that does not leave me complaisant and lazy, relying on others to do the thinking for me.  I have to do this for myself.
          Nothing is clear.  We are meant to argue over this.  The Jews did it, and still do it.  The apostles and people who institutionalized the church did it.  The gospels conflict.  The messages are hidden, only to be revealed, only to create more questions.  This is how it is supposed to be.  There is no checklist.  There is no arrival.  There is only the journey.  And you can’t just sit back and go along for the ride.
halfmindedsunflower | January 10, 2017 at 6:30 pm

Thank you for being disgusting.

by halfmindedsunflower

This is the time of year where so much chocolate gets delivered to our office that it starts to seem like a regular food group.

One of my coworkers never washes his hands.  And he also HAS TO TOUCH EVERYTHING as soon as it arrives.  He opens all the boxes, and doesn’t just look, but has to put his nasty butt fingers on every. single. thing.

This simple fact is keeping me from eating any of it, no matter how good I know it is.  So for that, instead of a Christmas card, I’m going to send him a note: Thank you for being disgusting.  My pancreas can rest easy.

halfmindedsunflower | December 19, 2016 at 9:21 pm

Better Than a Dick in the Eye

by halfmindedsunflower

I looked for a blog draft that I started last week but couldn’t find it.  In my drafts I had this one titled, and only the word “The” written in the body of the draft.  I have no recollection  of what was better than a dick in the eye, but I’m sure that is a very long list.

I’ve been suffering from an inferiority complex.  I think this is an ongoing thing for me, but instead of just living with the idea that I’m not as good as everyone else, or possibly anyone else, I’ve finally started to stare that beast in the face.  And she ain’t pretty.

It has been a shitty year for me in some regards, and a good year in other regards.  The shitty stuff is that I’ve been fighting a bout of depression that has lasted about 9 months.  I could have made a baby in that amount of time.  I’m mostly over it but still cry on a daily basis.  It’s just become part of my day and I no longer attribute it to whether or not it was a good day or bad.  It just is.  The good stuff is that I’ve gotten a better sense of who I am and who I am not.  That’s all I want to talk about that.

Last week I was at the grocery store and I had the cashier that seems to be some sort of hobbit.  I recognized her because I go to this store frequently.  Plus hobbits are easy to remember.  And she speaks with a British accent.  British hobbit cashiers are especially memorable.  The customer in line in front of me was unloading her stuff and Margaret B. (the hobbit cashier) started picking up the phone, speaking unintelligibly, slamming down the phone, speaking to no one in particular unintelligibly, slamming stuff around like her special cashier folder and that hand-held scanner thing.  The customer in front of me turned around and looked me in the eyes and discretely raised her eyebrows.  I wasn’t sure if her cart full of booze and other fun stuff was going to survive Margaret B.’s  slamming problem.  When it was finally my turn to have my stuff rung up, Margaret B. seemed to be equally angry with the items I was purchasing.  And oddly enough, the little bits of her speech that I could understand were definitely not in a British accent.  It was more like a dialect of Lived Under A Bridge For A Very Long Time.  I came to the conclusion that Margaret’s full name was most likely Margaret B. Crazy.

So I suppose, if I keep things in perspective, no matter how bad I can manage to feel about myself, being me is probably better than being Margaret B. Crazy, and better than a dick in the eye.

halfmindedsunflower | December 12, 2016 at 3:58 pm

The City Broke My Phone.

by halfmindedsunflower

Last week I got a letter in the mail.  Apparently my grass is too long.  Or my weeds are too long.  Or some nonsense bullshit I couldn’t understand.

They are going to charge me $265, plus whatever some contractor wants to charge me to mow my weeds.

So I called the guy who wrote the letter.  His time slot was either 8:00-9:00 AM, or 1:00-2:00 PM.  I called at 7:59:59.

Ring ring, motherfucker.

What’s the problem here?  Why you write me letters like this?

He doesn’t know.  Can’t remember.  Must be the grass and weeds are too long.

No they’s not!

You live on NORTH?  Not SOUTH?

Yah, NORTH.  (You got the wrong house, didn’t you, motherfucker?)

He stuck to his guns.  So I mowed and weed whipped everything down to a buzz cut.  And I took photos.  And I sent the photos to my email for safe keeps.

And now my phone won’t send anymore pictures.  I guess I can only expect so much out of a $32 phone that’s a few years old.

I’m going to write The City a letter.  Gimme $265 plus a new phone, plus whatever else I feel like charging you for pain and suffering, motherfucker.

 

halfmindedsunflower | November 29, 2016 at 9:42 pm

We

by halfmindedsunflower

Let’s remember who we are.

We, not the government, fought for the right for women to vote.

We, not the government, fought against Jim Crow.

We, not the government, are fighting for my $.75 to a man’s $1.00 to be made right.

We, not the government, are fighting for Flint to have drinking water and for the disastrous effects of being poisoned to be rectified.

We, not the government, fought and fight for wars to end.

It is not he government that forces the change to makes things right.

We do.

halfmindedsunflower | November 9, 2016 at 3:13 pm |

Can I picture you as Cher?

by halfmindedsunflower

Last night I had one of those head-down, on-the-knees type of praying situations. 

I’m tired of feeling like shit.  I’m tired of wondering if it is okay for me to finally reject members of my family who are subtly and totally toxic.  And although I know for self-preservation it must be done whether it is okay or not, I still feel judged by… I don’t know, just somebody who doesn’t know the situation and thinks they have the right to judge me, because good little girls love unconditionally, because family is who is there for you when shit hits the fan. 

Except that’s not the case, because when shit hits the fan and it all goes to hell, it is these family members who make it worse by harboring and favoring the enemy, spreading lies, backstabbing, judging, betraying, and making a horrible hellish situation more horrible and more hellish. All on the down low, of course. 

So yeah, I guess whoever might be judging me for not wanting people in my life that I (through no fault of my own) happen to be related to by blood or law can fuck right off until they’ve walked in my shoes, or even tried to be a family member of these sick, overtly functional but covertly abusive family members.

What is family, after all?  Blood relation?  So where does that leave adopted or step family members?  Legal relation?  So if there is a divorce does a once-step-sibling/mother/father or once-aunt/uncle/grandma/grandpa no longer count simply because of a legal change you may not have had a choice over?

And I also wondered when… when is God going to come back into my life?  When am I going to know that God is there and not just somewhere in the depths of space and in other people’s hearts but not mine?  When do I get to stop walking the walk when it all just seems so phony?  “That’s faith.”  Fuck that.  Well maybe not.  But seriously, throw me a fricken bone already.

And when do I get to stop crying on a daily basis? Sure, I’ve had a few days here or there, only to circle back around and wonder if this is just how it is, if this is just how my life is going to be – blankly going through the motions in hopes I can feel the realness again eventually, which I hardly remember, and having good things happen in my life that feel more like watching a movie of someone else’s life – I can see it, but not truly feel it for myself.  When’s this shit going to stop?  Or is this it?  Is coping all I get? 

On my knees, begging, admitting my faults that I do not know how to fix: critical, picking everything apart until it is a pile of shreds on the floor, unable to appreciate what I have, unable to embrace the shit in my life how it is, unable to let go of things I’m afraid of losing and unable to stop pushing it away because I’m too afraid of it pushing me away…

I have a problem with transference.  I’ve always been a teacher’s pet.  I’ve always wanted to be heard, because knowing it myself is not enough – someone else has to know it, because then somehow it’s real and valid.  If it is only me then it is the fiction I was raised with, which most people – including me – have a hard time believing.  But then with this transference, I burden people, and myself, because whoever I transfer this ‘need to be heard’ to then has a job that he or she shouldn’t have to do.  And I can be exhausting.

So since God seems absent, and I feel like I can only bore Jesus with my issues for a minute at a time once a month or so, I enlisted the Holy Spirit.  All I could sense was a presence and in my mind a pictured sort of a vertical streak of black.  And at first I was silenced.  And then I started talking (in my mind, not out loud… I’m not crazy you know).  I wasn’t sure how ‘real’ I could be in front of Her, and then She answered me and said to just speak plainly.  It was a woman’s voice. So I asked Her if it was okay that I imagined Her to be a woman, and She said yes (I am a human after all, and have a hard time interacting with unbodied entities).

Then I asked if I could picture Her as Cher.  I don’t know why Cher – honestly, I don’t.  She said I could picture Her however I wanted to.

And so it begins.

halfmindedsunflower | November 7, 2016 at 3:36 pm |

Yes, ya @sshole, I see you looking over my shoulder

by halfmindedsunflower

I’ve been kind of a dick lately.  Well, not really a dick, but just not doing everything everyone wants me to.  So I’ve been a guy with boundaries and priorities, or a woman who is being a dick (same thing in our society).

I took on another freelance job in addition to my other freelance job in addition to my regular job which sucks and that I want out of because it sucks and it takes too long to get here and it sucks.  But since I’m next to broke and nobody else is going to pay my bills, I’m still here.  And I mean right now I’m actually here, writing on my blog, because everyone can fuck off.  My coworker – the one who watches you tube and does all his little league stuff, then leaves for 90 minutes to “go get something to eat” and then comes back and watches more you tube for another hour while he eats what took him 90 minutes to obtain and then sneaks out the back door – was just standing at the water cooler checking to see if I had processed his one precious piece of work he put in my inbox.  And over my shoulder he got to watch me play this dumb online game that I like – bubble heads, or shoot the bubbles, or whatever it is.  It is colorful and dumb and just right for the mood I’m in today, which is kind of a stabby one.

Never sure if I’m on enough meds, or if the chronic grouchiness can or even should be medicated out of me, I have decided to embrace what one of my friends always tells me – that life is a carnival and sometimes carnivals just simply suck and smell bad and you step in mud and horse shit and there are too many people and sometimes there are scary clowns and there’s garbage on the ground and it is too loud, but that I just life.

So with that I decided it is time to quit some stuff.  And not do some stuff.  Like family stuff because my family is basically shattered and if I even have a conversation with the traitors that I am unfortunately related to, I will most likely leave them in a state they will not be able to recover from.  So instead I am going against all that is right in this world and doing what I need to do and not what they want me to do which lets them carry on pretending they’re not the asshole traitors they are.  They can carry on without me.

I get caught in this woman trap that I didn’t understand when I was younger, but now am old enough to understand that when a woman has had enough, she’s simply had enough.  And she doesn’t give a fuck if you understand it or not.  Like much of our society, I thought when a woman acted like that she was just being a bitch.  But now I get it (and I’m sorry, women who I thought were being bitches).  Work days are long and highway commutes are stressful and the money is spent before it arrives and Good Lard I hope I don’t bounce that check and I can’t take another evening after work of doing this thing or that thing and now my weekends are jam packed and yes, maybe I do want to be un-American and non-productive and only single-tasking and just flip the world the bird and drink a fucking beer in my sweat pants because that’s honestly all I want to do.  And damn it I don’t care who needs me because I’m done being needed.  I need me once in a while too.

So look over my shoulder, mother fucker, and watch me fuck around this afternoon.  And I dare you to say something to me about it.

 

halfmindedsunflower | November 1, 2016 at 5:39 pm |

Yelling Into An Empty Sky

by halfmindedsunflower

I have suffered from clinical depression for probably most of my life.  But I didn’t start getting treatment until about 6 years ago.  I’m getting better at sensing when things are getting worse.  My typical markers are that I don’t accomplish anything, I don’t leave the house, and I cry all the time.  But this time it snuck up on me – crept in slowly over a period of about 4 months.  I have been accomplishing things – a lot, in fact.  But still I cry all the time.  I finally got a medication adjustment a week ago and am desperately waiting for it to kick in.  I’m roller-coastering right now, having good moments, just to quickly cascade back down into a devastation that I know isn’t quite real, but feels very real.  I try not to react, or say too much, while I’m in this mental space because I know I’m looking through a lens that isn’t right.

I don’t know where God goes during these times though.  And this is when I need God the most.  This is when I’m begging for help, mercy, a rope to grab onto while I’m being thrashed around alone in the sea.  And God seems gone.  It feels like I’m yelling into an empty sky – that nothing is there.

halfmindedsunflower | August 8, 2016 at 5:06 pm |

New post on halfmindedsunflower

Chalice

by halfmindedsunflower

I was 28 the first time I took Communion.  I had been baptized, confirmed, and received First Communion all in the same night.  It was magical.

Long before I was ‘able’ to take it, I knew that it was real.  I can’t explain exactly what I mean by real – transubstantiation, consubstantiation – my ideas are not so firm or clear cut.  It is real to me in whatever sense Jesus intended it to be real, and I do not pretend to have the capacity to understand that.

I left my first denomination because their belief was that they were the guardians of Communion, giving them the right to say who could and could not receive.  I think that is simply and dangerously wrong (take this, all of you), counter to Christianity, counter to Jesus eating with sinners, counter to the fact that we are all sinners, counter to God’s love for all of us, counter to our repeated warnings not to judge.  I could go on for days about that but will stop here.

My second denomination was more liberal in that sense, but still got it wrong in my mind because the official belief was that you have to be baptized.  You don’t, according to me.  And I can’t find anything in the bible supporting that idea (take this, all of you).  Certain churches within that denomination dismissed the ‘rule’ about having to be baptized, getting it right – again, in my opinion.  I left that church for different reasons altogether and did not intend to leave that denomination, but found myself at another flavor of Christian church.

Here we use grape juice, not wine.  It feels funny to me – somehow less than the real thing.  Their official belief is that it is a symbol, so here I am once again being right while they get it wrong.  But a symbol might be just as meaningful to others as the indescribable ‘real’ is for me.  They take Communion by intinction (dipping the bread into the wine, or grape juice in this case).  While I think it is gross and unsanitary to get all your hand germs in a non-alcoholic substance (and I won’t go on about that again), I also think something is lost.

“Take this, all of you, and drink from it.”  I have a very literal mind – to a serious fault. If Jesus said to drink from it, well then… But beyond that, an experience is lost.

To have the chalice up to your mouth, smelling the wine, participating in a practice that Jesus himself put into place – a practice that people have been doing continuously for such a very long time, connects us to hundreds of thousands of souls, living and dead.  It is looking into a cup of history and continuing to tell its story.  It is doing exactly what we have been told to do, that we have been fortunate enough to have ancestors who carried this with them to give it to us.  It is letting the part of ourselves that gets lost week after week come back, be grounded – if only for a moment – in a very concrete way, with the chalice touching your lips, the smell of wine in your nose, the taste on your tongue.  And it brings us back to something that is still done, that Jesus told us to do.

And I miss it.

halfmindedsunflower | August 2, 2016 at 1:42 pm |

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A Multigenre Story

by halfmindedsunflower

grape juice

halfmindedsunflower | July 28, 2016 at 1:19 pm

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Expired Potato

by halfmindedsunflower

I got home from the store last night and brought the groceries inside.  It smelled bad in there.  I really need to do a better job at housekeeping, I said to the cat.  She looked at me and blinked.

But wow – this was a stink to be reckoned with.  Had I tossed out a meat tray and it somehow grew a small ecosystem in the trash can that had all expired simultaneously leaving its stench as a last will and testament?

Lift lid.  Sniff.  No, not there.

I put the peaches in the bowl that sits on top of the microwave and noticed a coffee-brown puddle under the colander of potatoes.  I don’t store my potatoes properly.  I keep them where I will see them because I have experienced opening a dark cabinet to see arms and legs and eyes reaching out at me.

But this was something else.

I don’t know when it happened.  Sometime during the night maybe.  Or perhaps just during the day while I was at work and the grocery store.  It happened quick.  And somewhere in the bottom of the pile a potato decided to go from solid to liquid and have diarrhea on top of my microwave.

Par for the course, I suppose.  It’s how my mood was all last week, and still I can’t quite shake it off.  One minute, a happy little potato sitting in colander.  The next minute, a dripping stinking puddle.

There is no point to this story.

halfmindedsunflower | July 26, 2016 at 4:03 pm |

Crap in a Hat

by halfmindedsunflower

I had a broken tooth fixed this morning.  While driving in to work afterwards, I became rather impressed with my temporary ability to flair only a single nostril.  The left side of my face was paralyzed and numb so I took advantage of it to entertain myself in the rearview mirror.  I wanted to share it with someone but couldn’t think of anyone who would really appreciate it quite the same way I did.

Medical stuff is funny to me.  It’s gross so I laugh at it.  Flaring one nostril isn’t gross though – that is just straight up intriguing.

Not long ago my friend and I were talking about the yearly female exam that we all hate to get.  We agreed that 100 mammoliograms would be better than one of these female exams.  (I stole that word straight from Jennifer Saunders.  I did not create or invent the word mammoliogram.  But I love it, so thank you, Jennifer Saunders, for increasing my slightly shitty vocabulary).

My friend came up with the idea that, like when you go vote and they give you a fun sticker to sport around proudly for the day, that you should also get one after you go to the OB/GYN.  I suggested a few sayings for those stickers: “Open Wide,” and, “I scooched down to the end of the table.  Did you?”  She imagined a mascot:  a cartoon speculum with a face.  I like it!

These exams leave most of us feeling somewhere between a little grossed out to slightly violated, and maybe a mix of the two.  I also sometimes feel like some children’s plastic toys have been left up in there (small building blocks.  I don’t want to be sued for using a brand name without permission, and I doubt I’d get permission for this).  I’m not sure why anyone would put them there.  I think it feels that way because my doctor attempts to see my tonsils from the wrong end.

When I had my last one done and was complaining about it via email to my OB/GYN sticker-inventing friend, she suggest that I do what she does which is go home and drink beer and be pissed off.  Sound advise.  I took it.

Not long ago I had another medical test that was disturbing for another reason.  I wasn’t sure what to expect but was sent to a lab to pick up “a kit.”  I’ve had kits before that resulted in having to lug a jug of my own piss back to the doctor’s office, which was gross but tolerable.  I thought maybe that was what I would have to do again.

“Hi.  I need a kit for this test” (handing the slip to the lab lady).

“OK.  Come on back and I’ll tell you how to use it.”

I go through the door, she pulls out a small container about the size of a prescription pill bottle, and some popsicle sticks.  “This is for a stool sample.  Have you done one of these before?”

“No, but I can’t take a poo in a tiny bottle like that,” I say, pointing to the pill bottle, wondering if whatever my doctor was looking for was really worth all of this.

“Well you don’t have to poop it into this.  Have you used a hat before?  You go in the hat, and then use these (popsicle sticks) to put it in here.”

“So… I crap in a hat?”

I crapped in a hat.  The details are too much for me to even rehash.  When I was done I put my “lab work” in a bag, inside another bag, inside another bag, and between index finger and thumb pinched the edge of that bag and held it as far away from myself as my arm will go, and put it in the trunk of my car, drove it to the lab and carried it inside in the same manner.


The woman there said, “Well it’s supposed to be frozen.”

“Yeah, um… it’s, uh, fresh…”

“But it’s supposed to be frozen!”

“Look, I’m not putting my own shit in my freezer.  If you have a shit freezer, have at it.”


Her coworker informed her that she was supposed to then freeze it, and that I wasn’t supposed to bring them a frozen turd. 

I do not know how medical people don’t barf several times a day.  Maybe that’s another market my friend could invent stickers for:  “I froze a turd today!” “I taught someone how to crap in a hat!”

halfmindedsunflower | July 18, 2016 at 9:22 pm

Sometimes I’m Rude

by halfmindedsunflower

I tend to have a very rude sense of humor.  I think I got it from my father, but actually he was funnier and slightly more polite than I am (there’s a gigantic span between my level of rudeness and being polite though).

For a period of time I was a maid.  I worked on a team, and we rotated who did what so you didn’t get totally sick of scrubbing piss off the floor, or dusting, or whatever.

It was my day to vacuum.  I did it like a pro – making seashell patterns in the carpets and vacuuming my way out of a room so the occupants could be the first ones to mess it up.

One day some woman left her dirty undies on the floor, and I mean… skid marks.  Like, she might have had food poisoning kind of skid marks.  Like, don’t even bother trying to wash those skid marks.  Like, you might really need to see a doctor skid marks.  She left them right in the middle of the bedroom floor.  I asked the team leader what I should do, and she said, “Oh, no, honey, you don’t have to touch that.  Vacuum around it!”  So I made pretty seashells in the carpet all across this giant master bedroom, with her skid marked undies perfectly on display.  I can only imagine her mortification when she came home.  Or, maybe she didn’t give a shit (well… she did give a shit, in her undies, so I just framed it for her with seashells).

It’s amazing how many people didn’t consider us to be quite human, as if we wouldn’t be as repulsed by the piss on the wall by the toilet as anyone else would be.  Others though, like this one super sweet and hansom doctor, would leave cold drinks and sweet little notes that he cranked the AC up for us so we wouldn’t get too hot, and to just turn it down before we leave (most people would let it be hot for us, then ask us to chill the house  as we were leaving so it would be nice and cool when they got home.  Thanks.  I sweated my ass off and lost weight so it all worked out.  Plus I was strong as a beast.).

I had another boss who was a control freak.  She transferred to our site (not the cleaning job, but a tool crib factory job) after myself and my two coworkers had been holding shit down for a few years with rotating bosses, or no boss at all.  Seriously, I lost count of how many bosses we had because they would start, we’d train them, corporate would piss them off or drive them away, and they were gone.  It was a broken record.  Then this woman arrived.  She decided she needed my giant stack of reports every day.  I warned her that it was a lot, and would be another full-time job for her to review everything I had done.  She demanded them.  So I gave them to her.  Bitch had the nerve to yell at me, “And what am I supposed to do with all of this?” to which I replied, “Well, if you’d like to bend over I’d be happy to shove it up your ass.”  I mean, come on now, lady – I did what you said, and I warned you, so shut the fuck up about it.

I’ve mellowed with age.  Sort of.  Sometimes I go too far the other way though.  A few years ago I forwarded an  email to my sister where someone had called me “sweet.”  She replied, “well you got her snowed!”  And that’s what I do.  I act sweet.  But sometimes it’s fake.  Because I think my saltiness is too much.  And when I am my real self, I get this little fucking voice in my head that says, “you shouldn’t have said that.  You shouldn’t have done this.”  Shut up, voice in my head!  I mean, it isn’t like I’m walking up to people and slapping their drinks out of their hands, or sticking my tongue out at them.

I only have so much control over what others think of me.  So I’m trying to stop with the fake shit.  Half the time when I’m pissed and tell someone why, they laugh at me because it comes out funny. And other times when I’m sincerely trying to be nice, they think I’m trying to trick them or sell them something.  So fuck it.  I’m just going to be who I am and not worry about the rest.

 

 

 

 

halfmindedsunflower | July 7, 2016 at 3:03 pm

Spider Bites and Highlights

by halfmindedsunflower

For the past few months I’ve been trying to grow my hair out and let it be its natural color.  I’ve been coloring it for 23 years when it departed from its natural brown with red and blonde highlights (I worked at a cosmetology school in my late teens and people would schedule appointments and frequently requested my hair color.  It wasn’t a “color.”  It was just my natural beauty, which lasted about 6 months before it plummeted to a chalky construction-paper-black, and gray.  And not a tame gray, but kinky pubic-hair gray that sprang up making sure everyone within a hundred yards of me noticed it.  Little fuckers.  I started coloring, and by the time I returned to the university I was sporting a near-platinum blonde French twist, which matched my giant black eyebrows beautifully!).

There was only one other time in my life that I had natural beauty which I completely took for granted, and that was when I spontaneously lost weight in my early 20s.  I’m not sure exactly why I slimmed out, but I was pretty cute, and also pretty clueless about it.  Instead of getting requests for my hair color, I got requests for sex tapes with my boss (another female) which was my introduction to the fact that some straight men like to watch gay women, which neither of us were, have sex.  I had no idea.  I still don’t get it.  I hate porn – gay or straight – it’s gross and disturbing and if you watch it please don’t ever tell me… I mean that sincerely – I DO NOT want to know!

Anyway, where was I?  Oh, yes.  Trying to accept my natural hair color.  It’s a funny thing.  My eyes are slightly different colors, giving me the occasional appearance of having crossed eyes (and sometimes they do cross, which I think is from trying to stare at my own brains too frequently).  I’ve been overweight (slightly to largely… I mean really REALLY largely – sorry if you don’t know me and thought I was hot.  You can still picture me that way if you want to) since I was about 6, with the exception of the two short time slots mentioned as well as when I was 11 and 18 and spontaneously and unexplainably thinned out.  My weight problems are a combination of eating issues, a shitty thyroid, impaired glucose tolerance, and a bunch of mystery.  My hair, not so much:  color, or no color.

Last weekend I was flipping through the TV channels in a moment of boredom and came across the show Maude.  Maude was pregnant. Pregnant?  I thought she was too old to be pregnant.  Nope – she was 47 (they mentioned it in the show).  I’m 42, soon to be 43.  Me and Maude.  Charcoal gray and white.  Nope!  Can’t do it.  Can’t be Maude.  CAN! NOT!! DO! IT!  I know things were different then, when women in their 70s (or even 40s) were not expected to be blonde or brown rather than gray.  But when I pull what’s left of my blonde highlights back, even with the additional compensation of bolder lipstick, and eye make-up, and earrings (on days I’m not feeling so Aspergery that I can’t handle the feeling of jewelry) I still look washed out.  My light brown eyes are washed out.  And the greener one looks even greener.  If I lived in Eastern Europe I suppose I wouldn’t care.  But if I lived in Eastern Europe I suppose I’d also be at least a grandma by now, wearing a scarf over my head and tied under my chin, with a long button down jacket and a skirt that comes right below the knees where my knee-high support-hose leads down to my orthopedic shoes. But I’m not a grandma and I live in the Midwest.  I can’t be natural.  My eyeliner and mascara and cover-up aren’t natural.  My deodorant and hairless legs and hairless armpits are not natural.  My tits not sleeping in my lap are not natural.  So why my hair?

Something else happened last weekend that made me feel quite old.  Other than when my anxiety is really bad and I’m convinced I’m going to die in my sleep, I just don’t worry too much about bodily injury or illness when no one is around.  I was doing work in my back yard, putting up bamboo fencing (which is surprisingly heavy an shit!) to hide the neighbor’s crap that I’m sick of looking at, and it suddenly felt like a needle was being jabbed into my toe (the toe-equivalent of my ring finger).  I looked down to see what appeared to be a daddy long legs, which I quickly squished with my other foot.  I didn’t know they bite!   Fuckers.  (See if I gently take you outside when you accidentally wander into my office ever again.)  A few seconds later, another needle, this time above my ankle.  Okay, that’s it.  I’m fed up with these fuckers so I grabbed something – mosquito fogger or something – I’m not quite sure, and I spray the fuck out of the ground figuring if I couldn’t kill them chemically I’d at least drown them in this shit.  Then… my chest tightens.  Is this asthma?  Wait, I don’t get asthma in the summer.  Where’s my inhaler?  Surely it isn’t in my back yard.  I wander in the house and manage to forget about the inhaler because I’m too dazed by this point, wondering if I should call 911 now or wait until after I pass out.  Should I go back outside and lay down in the driveway so someone will see my dead body or stay inside and quietly die there so I don’t mess up a holiday weekend?  Then I don’t remember what I did but I managed to get back to work and did some painting (the front and back doors – purple).  I was out of the woods so I forgot about it.  (Or did I “forget?”  I am suspicious about the loss of time… was I abducted by aliens and they took my memory of it?)

Sunday I woke up and felt like I was in a haze.  Could I manage church?  Could I follow along in the bulletin and get the hymnal to the right page at the right time?  Sadly I can’t do that on a good day so I was doubtful.  And I just felt… not right.  I sat on the couch with my cup of coffee and thought maybe my brain will wake up after I drink a …

I woke up 3 hours, THREE HOURS later.  And here’s what made me feel super weird and old:  I was still sitting up!  Who does that?  OLD PEOPLE!

I’m getting my hair colored Saturday.  And I’m killing every spider I can find.

 

halfmindedsunflower | July 5, 2016 at 1:22 pm

Kill Your Darlings, and Light Some Origami Shit On Fire

by halfmindedsunflower

Yesterday I was in a funk.  Actually I was in a funk for the entire weekend.

Was it because it was Father’s Day?  Mm… probably not.  Father’s Day is not like Mother’s Day for me – – I had my dad into my adulthood so it doesn’t give me stabbing emotional pains like Mother’s Day usually does.  My mother though, I was too young for her to go.

Was it the heat?  Sure.  Let’s go with that.

The truth is I am probably at least mildly autistic or personality disordered and haven’t been diagnosed, or no one has the stones to tell me to my face.  Bottom line: I just didn’t want to play.

But I did anyway.  I hauled my sorry ass to church and I did my best to smile and be polite, although I couldn’t do coffee hour – too noisy, too busy, too many conversations to navigate.  So I looked at the books in the library and then went to the empty bible study room to wait for everyone.  I wasn’t much of a gem in bible study either.  But I’ve been accused of being a recluse enough times that I try not to do that.  I’m here, I’m a little weird, get used to it.

Later on I went to writers group.  It was good.  I think I finally started to get out of my funk.  And I learned the phrase “kill your darlings” which I somehow had never heard before.  It isn’t really about killing anyone, my darling.  It just means that if you are hanging on tightly to something that just isn’t working for anyone else, it is your “darling,” sweetie, and you need to kill it for the sake of your story.  I think my darlings are naughty bad swear words, which I have barely employed in my current story.  I also got to read and hear some vivid, hilarious, and stimulating writing.  It was good.  Then it was over.  Then a minute later I was back in my funk.   

I sat in my backyard hideout and searched for something – anything – to make me feel better.  I started texting my sister all my woes (and woe is me… shit, seriously, get over it, Steph).  By nightfall I was still not quite right and was just feeling plagued with anxiety and fear of judgement and all the other garbage that keeps us up at night.  My sister taught me a technique: she said this is just an old bad habit, and these are just random thoughts flying around, so pat them on the head and tell them no, they can’t land here.  For some reason I pictured them as little origami creatures and the image made me laugh – but it worked!  These thoughts don’t have to be part of me!  I don’t have to allow them to be in my head.  I can tell them to go away, and since they’re just paper, I can set them all on fire, darling.

halfmindedsunflower | June 20, 2016 at 3:26 pm

New post on halfmindedsunflower

Retirement and Hog Spread

by halfmindedsunflower

One of my dear friends and I have a pastime of planning our retirement together.  It usually involves the two of us living in houses right next to each other, getting as drunk and high as we can on whatever we can find and fishing until we pass out, just to get up the next day to do it all over again.  I’m pretty sure we’re both going to start smoking again too because why not.  She made some tentative plans for us to ride dirt bikes around, and neither of us are going to shave or tweeze or bleach anything.  She will look the same and I will be fairly androgynous with my sasquatch legs, hobbit feet, and half of a teenage-boy mustache.  In theory that will also help scare people away.

Although we are only potentially distantly genetically related, we are both attracted to and repulsed by certain things.  At the top of the list of repulsive things is hog spread (polite society might call it ham salad or ham spread.  I call it ground up white people, and I want nothing to do with it).  How or why anyone in his or her right mind can even think about (excuse me while I gag) eating this disgusting chunky mush is beyond me.  My grandmother used to make it and my family loves it.  I would just about leave my body to avoid being so rude as to gag at something my grandmother made.  But seriously, that shit is disgusting.  Remembering the sound it makes… and I shudder.
There will be no hog spread served at our retirement compound, which will mostly likely be on an uninhabited key in Florida.
I have been on a quest to figure out what I want to do when I grow up.  Since I’m currently 42 I really need to get my shit in a pile.  In all honestly I can’t spend another 25 years or so doing mind-numbing, soul-sucking work.  It is difficult to sift through all the “good” and “bad” ideas, all the shoulds and shouldn’ts, all the nonsense bullshit we learn growing up about being reasonable and responsible.
I don’t want to be reasonable and responsible anymore.  I’m the person who rarely goes out on a limb or rolls the dice.  I’m the person who pays all my bills on time, who holds tightly to caution when the wind is trying to take it from me, who plays it safe.
I’m tired of playing it safe.  I’m tired of the monotony.  I’m tired of that nagging feeling that I’m wasting my time, not offering what I was born to offer, not really living.
So now I’m inching out on a limb.  I’m asking, seeking, shadowing.  And I’m dreaming, digging up plans I made years ago that I tossed aside because of their impractical, unfeasible, day-dreamer qualities.
But for today I will still be at this current job so I can avoid things like homelessness.  Now I am off for a boring all-day meeting.  I hope we aren’t having hog spread for lunch.
halfmindedsunflower | June 16, 2016 at 12:49 pm

New post on halfmindedsunflower

Pook! Who aaaaare you?

by halfmindedsunflower

I used to work with an older man who was once a prisoner of war.  He was from Vietnam and his English got noticeably worse when he found a Vietnamese church to attend.  His name was Phuoc.

He was an interesting man.  He often lotioned his feet in his cubicle, and would fall asleep.  Once the snoring and farting started we would toss crumpled paper over the wall to wake him up.  One of his farts was so long we thought me might be achieving lift-off.  A coworker came over to my desk and said, “That thing… like… accelerated!”

My cubicle neighbor had a very strong Boston accent.  Whenever Phuoc would come over to talk to me, my Boston coworker said it was like watching two people speak two different languages – he couldn’t understood a word Phuoc said.
One day I wanted to pronounce Phuoc’s name correctly – like, really correctly, not American correctly.  I tried to no avail.  I cannot pronounce the P/F sound – actually I can’t even hear exactly what that sound is. To me it sounds like an P, but that isn’t it.  He told me it was “like the letter ep.”  Oh.  He couldn’t say my name either and so he called me Step-o-nie, and I finally gave up and simply called him Pook.
He would wander through the office some days, perhaps some of the crazier days, saying “Pook!  Who aaaaare you?  Pook!  Who aaaaaare you?”  I assumed this was some kind of survival skill he created during his time as a POW.  I don’t know the extent of torture or deprivation he experienced, or for what amount of time.
Now I ask myself that same thing.  Step-o-nie!  Who aaaaare you?  It’s a weird question.
I am a writer, a truth-seeker, and a ruthless editor.
I am young and I am old.
I am the person who is called when someone dies.

I am the woman who easily cries.

I am the truth you may not want to hear.

I tell the dirty jokes that grate on your ear.

I am the hip my niece and nephew rode as babies.

I am a sister, now, and before, and after this life.

I am a river – sometimes nurturing, sometimes unmovable ice.

I am a keeper of secrets – bad and good.

I am forgiving and tolerant, until I’m not.

I am a follower of Christ, stumbling and tripping along the way.

I am a child of God.

Sometimes I like rhyming couplets and sometimes I forget that I’m doing rhyming couplets.

But back to Pook because he’s more fun to talk about.  He told me I should visit his church some day because after the service they sell noodles of all kinds.  “Pork noodle.  Chicken noodle.  Beep noodle.”

He did some kind of martial arts and would occasionally bless us with a demonstration.  One of them was The Phoenix.  Standing on his left foot, he had his right knee raised in the air, and both arms out to the sides and slightly elevated.  Since he can’t say an F sound, it sounded like a P.  He can’t say an X sound.  The K is simply lost, leaving you with only the S sound.  “I am the penis.  I am the penis.”

Rock on, Pook.  Rock on.

halfmindedsunflower | June 8, 2016 at 2:13 pm |

Happy Birthday, Prick

by halfmindedsunflower

You may or may not know that I am not very nice sometimes.

I had a bad day yesterday.  I went to the doctor and got some news that could potentially be bad, or it could be nothing at all.  I whimpered about it for the afternoon and then worked late to catch up on the time I lost from being at the doctor’s office for too long and then I decided I’m not going to think about it until I get my test results back.  But we all know that telling yourself not to think about something and actually not thinking about it are two different things.  The last time I had to deal with this health issue I had disturbing premonitory dreams about a whole celery growing out the side of my abdomen.  So far no vegetable dreams, but today I’m a grouch and I have a suspicious tickle in my tonsil.  I better get a stiff drink to kill whatever germs are hanging out in there.

My coworkers are used to me being grouchy in the mornings.  Whenever anyone new hires on I warn him or her and apologize in advance about it. One of the coworkers, Prick, despite the fact that we’ve worked together for over 5 years, always tries to get me to cheer up in the morning.  That’s about as smart as trying to get an angry bear to cheer up.  Seriously, just leave me alone and I’ll get it together later, and I’ll be your best friend late in the day after everyone else has already bailed on you.  I’ve been this person for 42 years and if I could have changed that about myself I would have.  Anyway…

These are my coworkers:

-Dumb But Nice Northern Guy Who Is Sort Of Like Eeyore

-Funny But Procrastinates Like A Mother Fucker Guy

-My Confidante But Actually The Same Personality As Me But Is A Guy, so we have to be careful not to kill each other sometimes

-Young And Sassy Lady Who Has Had Get Used To Us Old People

-Young And Slightly Emotionally Unstable But Funny As Hell Young Lady, who is the only person I have been willing to travel with

-Out Of State Arrogant Sky Diver Guy

-Out Of State Nervous Laughter Guy

-Crunty Bitch (aka The Accuntant, aka Attention Whore, aka Useless)

-The Prick, whose customers can never reach him so they call me and I end up selling in his territory all the time and he gets the commission anyway because for some inexplicable reason he is worth all that and makes a shit ton of money and yet spends most of his day doing stuff for his son’s little league team, then leaves a couple hours early.  And when I was a pop drinker he used to steal my pop even though my broke ass was buying Kroger brand pop because I was paying off my celery removal surgery from 2009 and therapist fees and didn’t make nearly the money I used to at my old job and have a mortgage and am a commuter and he eats other people’s food from the fridge and he stole many of my dental flossers out of my desk drawer and then I found out about it and it’s not a big deal but he doesn’t wash his hands when he goes to the bathroom and it took all I have not to gargle bleach when I realized his nasty fingers had been in there.  He’s that guy.

Today is The Prick’s birthday.  We do these birthday sheets (not cards) that the Crunty Bitch prints out at the beginning of the year, and passes them around for everyone to sign, so you could be signing things that aren’t going to be given out for up to 12 months away and I never remember what I wrote on them.  (The best one I ever received was when Funny But Procrastinates Like a Mother Fucker Guy wrote, “When you’re not being a bitch I think you’re really great!”  I laughed for a month at that one and hung it on my wall.)

I have no idea what I wrote on The Prick’s birthday sheet.  I didn’t realize it was his birthday because I never remember.  All I realized was that as usual, when I walked into the bathroom he had been in there before because he thinks – literally – that his shit doesn’t stink.  Annoyed, I spray the spray and wait for the shit stink to leave so I don’t throw up my oats and coffee.

Crunty Bitch reminded us that it’s his birthday.

The Prick brought an order up to my desk that I had printed out and said, “Thanks for selling in my territory.  I like it when you sell in my territory!”

I said, “I like it when you sell in your territory too.”

I need to work on my birthday greetings.

halfmindedsunflower | June 3, 2016 at 3:29 pm

Will Work for Love

by halfmindedsunflower

 (Part Two of airing the family’s dirty laundry)

Love isn’t something you get because you need it.  It’s something you scrap and manipulate for.  It’s something that is dangled over you while you starve for the carrot.

Love isn’t something you give freely – that’s a sign of weakness.  To need it is weak. To show it weak.  To say it – say the words, “I love you,” is unforgivable.

To want to be part of something might look like wanting to be loved, wanting to belong, and that’s weak.  The weak are eaten alive, but not killed completely.  They’re kept alive for another feast, for another day.

I am weak.

One day I stopped working for love.

One day I stopped making people work for my love.

One day I said the unsayable: I love you.  I love you.  I love you.

I stopped scheming to get what I need.  I asked, and trembled with fear and hope that I got it, that I didn’t get eaten alive.

I have been, but not killed off.

What’s left of me tries again.

halfmindedsunflower | June 2, 2016 at 3:45 pm

Bum

I sort of forgot I have a blog.
Work has been bird-shit crazy since about this time last year and although I was ready to jump in front of a train in October I exercised what little restraint I possess and waited until November.  Er, I didn’t jump in front of  train.  I mean I finally took some time off from the j-o-b.  Three blissful days, right before the Thanksgiving Thursday-Friday combo.  This resulted in a much-needed week off work.  No shit – I was losing it.  I was doing things like telling my boss something, and then 4 seconds later telling him the exact same thing, thinking that I had forgotten to tell him the something I just told him.  It was dumb.  I got crazy looks.
Normally the j-o-b slows down this time of year but for the past couple years, it hasn’t.  I got so used to working 90 MPH and today, we’re slow.  I lost my momentum.  I have 2 things in my in-box that would take all of 15 minutes to complete, but right now I have the motivation of a drunk bum sleeping one off on a park bench.
During my “vacation” for some reason entirely unknown to me, I decked the shit out of my house.  I had this image in my mind that I would have a simple strand of icicle lights across the front of my house and across the front of my garage.  But of course I bought the multi colored lights because who doesn’t like multi colored lights and they were the kind that have little strands hanging down at different lengths.  Then I added a wreath that I made which consists of every single wreath-making item I have ever owned since last year (I went through a phase… I had coupons to Hobby Lobby and Michaels… I made a wreath for every holiday… it got ridiculous) and I put multi colored lights on it too.  And balls.  Multi colored balls and blue ones too.  After I put on the purple glittery feathers and other pink and green wiry sparkly things and finished it with a huge sequiny red bow I put it on a coat hook so I could stand back and take a look.  Behold… I have turned into my grandmother.
At night when the lights come on my house now looks something like a county fair, like a clown could come out from somewhere and tie you a long skinny suspiciously shaped balloon.
I have no conclusion or moral to this story.  In addition to forgetting I had a blog I think I forgot how to write too.

Blended

Last weekend I went back to the town I grew up in.  I wanted to go down to the tiny island that sits in the middle of a river, and to the ledges.  “I’m going to the island” was a frequently used statement by most of the town’s children.  Water, washed-out paths on the side of a hill, and strangers weren’t perceived as a threat since this was still part of the no-seatbelt, no-helmet, no-worries era.
When I ‘got’ one of my brothers (there were 3 that came the same summer, and I had already had 2 prior to them but they had already left) we started going fishing down there.  He was three years older than me (yes, I know that’s grammatically incorrect, and no, I don’t give a shit).  I learned to do lots of things from him, including how to hock loogies while riding my bike, where to ram a hockey stick when I was being bullied on the ice by the boys, and how to catch fish, scale fish, chop heads off of fish, and tie spawn bags (still can’t eat caviar!).
When I got a little older, say, middle school, the ledges provided a dangerously narrow and muddy path on which to ride 10-speed bikes as fast as you can.  What’s the worst that could go wrong?  You could hit a tree root and fly off your bike into a scratchy wooded hillside and slide down into the river.  Nothing a kid couldn’t recover from.  Besides it wasn’t like we were wearing helmets that might have cracked on a rock or something.
I lived in that town from 5 months old until I graduated high school.  My dad sold my childhood home and moved away when I was starting my third year of college, so I only returned here and there to visit a friend.  When that friendship ended, I didn’t return for years, and developed an inexplicable fear of the place.  It was the town where my mother’s ashes sat waiting in the funeral home for a couple decades until a friend took me, sobbing, to retrieved them.  It was the town where another one of my brothers lived… one who had done very ugly things to me when I was little, things that I had pushed back to the recesses of my mind.  It wasn’t just a town anymore.  It was a place that could somehow paralyze and trap me.  I don’t know exactly when this all changed in my mind though.
But I changed my mind again.  Because, fuck that.  It really was just a town.  And I missed the ledges and the river.
While I walked on the far-too-narrow path and on the island, and into the gazebo that my dad helped build lots of years ago (or perhaps this was a new one in the old one’s place) I remembered being in 9th grade.
Not my best year.
I had a collision of thoughts about my dad, the good things and the bad, about how we were raised and how utterly stupid my parents were to think that my sister or I had a chance of coming out of that unscathed, and how misunderstood I was both at home and at school.
The ninth grade – the asbestos dinosaur school – had a class requirement to graduate.  Family Life, Personal Wellness, Puberty School… I can’t remember the name of it, but it was very touchy-feely and in synch with 80’s pop psychology.  The former hippie teacher accidentally taught us all the ways we could use pot while she was trying to teach us all the ways to avoid pot (half the class made brownies that weekend).
We studied a unit on different family types:  Nuclear: mom and dad, they have kids.  Step: mom and dad have kids, mom and dad split up, kids get a new parent and sometimes siblings.  Blended: mom and dad have kids, split up, have more kids with someone else, kids have half-siblings.  Forgive me for not remembering the details – it was a long time ago.
I couldn’t figure out where my family fit into any of these models.  Mom and dad had my sister, and 3 years later had me.  Then they had a foster boy older than my sister, then they lost the foster boy, got another one somewhere between my sister’s and my age, and lost him too, then got 3 boys, one being the same age as my sister, another one a few years older, and a third one who was a teenager (I was 4, my sister was 7) and adopted 2 of them.
“So, what’s my family then, blended?”
It seemed reasonable.  I mean, very few people pick and chose their children like my parents did.  Even fewer people keep bringing in new boys who are all kinds of messed up from being bounced around from different foster and adoptive families, all of them being older then their existing children.
There is no name for it, or so I thought.
“NUCLEAR!” my teacher snapped.  My shoulders flinched at her sudden anger. She was pissed.  I had forgotten that she had an adopted son.
But this was different.  It wasn’t just an adoption.  It wasn’t that simple.  And this was the exact shit my parents shoved down my throat for my entire life:  your family is normal, and you have to be without problems despite your surroundings.
Bullshit.  It is bullshit now and it was bullshit then.
So I decided, while I walked in my hometown on those ledges and at the river, that the type of family I had was this:  Fucked.

You’re English teacher called…

She wants you to stop being such a dick.
Every Tuesday I go to a coffee shop from 1:00 to 2:00 (every Tuesday that the Crunty Bitch hasn’t somehow trumped my schedule, that is).  This is the time slot when I used to have my therapy appointments, so when my shrink and I were getting ready to part ways (she moved out of state because of her dumb husband’s job) she suggested that I keep my appointment time to check in with myself, and stay conscious of my moods, etc.
Since my office is conveniently located in the middle of nowhere, I drive 10 miles out of purgatory to the nearest coffee shop, get a bucket sized iced coffee, and read, or write, or both.
It never fails that I have to pee after gulping down a disgusting amount of caffeine.  And each week, I read the sign on the tampon/maxi-pad bin mounted to the wall.
I tried to ignore it.
I looked away.
I couldn’t take it any longer.
I’m not a grammarian.  I make grammatical mistakes on a regular basis, and I don’t necessarily give a fuck about it (besides, many of them are debatable despite what some dick in a tweed coat with a bad haircut might lead you to believe).  But I despise smartass notes and “clever” little sayings glued to walls and trash cans and doors.  In my evil mind, this just invites criticism to the anonymous jerkface who wrote them.
I got my pen out of my purse and corrected their laminated smartass note about what to do with your used feminine products.  I wish I’d had a Sharpie because I also would have probably written on the walls, but I only had my pen, which didn’t exactly make the mark I had hoped for.
pen
Next Tuesday, when they’ve redone their dumb sign, or scrubbed off my pen markings, I’ll correct the second mistake.  And then the third.
Then I’ll probably have to start looking for a new coffee shop.

Tiny Jesus

I super-glued a tiny Jesus back onto the cross of my rosary.  Then I accidentally super-glued my right index finger to my thumb.  And then I did my left.  He fell off years ago and it seemed absurd to glue him back on, but then it started to seem worse to have a 1″ tall Jesus with outstretched arms in a candy dish full of Catholic and Anglican rosaries.
Last night I went to Session 1 of a fifteen week course called Alpha.  I heard about it first through my sister, then through the webpage of the church I’ve been trying out.  It was created by an Anglican priest named Nicky Gumbel, but is used in both Catholic and Protestant churches.  I’m also still working through Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way.  Alpha and Artist’s are focused on fully realizing your connection with God, and through that, fully realizing who you are.
I don’t know who I am.
I mean, I kind of do.  I know things that I like (writing and pandas and turtles and gum drops and the lake and some people, sometimes) and things I don’t like (my coworker and the holidays and trunk speakers that make the neighborhood shake).  I know where I live, and who my friends are and who my family is.  But that’s kind of where it ends.
Sometimes it seems absurd to think about these things – who I really am, what I should really be doing, how I can really feel content.  I mean, I live in modern society and have a house, car, and job, and there are people who are starving, enslaved, trying to escape war, and here I worry about what I’m supposed to do with my cozy little Midwestern life.  It can guilt a girl right out of thinking about it.  “Dear Jesus, I don’t want to complain.  Amen.”
At Alpha last night, after watching a video of the British priest speak about deepening our relationships with God, we broke into tables of 8-10 people, and over pie and ice cream we had a guided discussion.  There was a quiet hum of voices and then the table leader said, “If you could ask God anything and get a direct answer, what would you ask?”
Without waiting the customary polite few seconds I blurted out, “What do you want me to do with this life?”
About a minute went by and my entire table was still sitting in silence.
I apologized for murdering the conversation.
Maybe I wasn’t supposed to ask my big question.  Maybe I just showed my ungrateful selfish side.  Maybe instead I should just be content with what I have, knowing that there is no way that God has time for my gripes, with all the other people needing so much more.
No, the table leader assured me – it pretty much summed up what she was thinking too.  We all eventually confessed to feeling a little aimless, or as if we had missed or ignored a cue that we were given in our past, or that we didn’t really know where we were heading during or after this life.
I have to admit that today I don’t feel any more positive or cheery about my seemingly purpose-less life.  I will carry on trying to figure that out.  But I realized that I don’t trust God like I should.  Maybe asking him for help with my relatively cushy life is not as absurd as I think it is, and maybe I made him as small as the tiny Jesus that I reattached to the cross.
At least for a moment, my super-glued fingers said “OK”  in sign language.
To be continued.

Ninth Grade

This is what my first few weeks of 9th grade were like.  For starters my mother had just died just days prior, so it was like a living nightmare, like walking through a reality that part of your brain insisted was a dream and part of it knew was purgatory.  The stress hung on my body like little weights clamped to every inch of my skin.
Ninth grade was housed in a school separate from the regular high school.  Originally it was “The School” – the only one in town for kindergarten through 12th grade.  But the town grew, and this asbestos dinosaur remained.  When the high school had maxed out its allowable space for “portables” (trailers that served as classrooms) in the yard behind it, 9th grade was annexed.  This happened well before my time so we all knew how it would be.  It seemed like a natural phase between middle school and ‘real’ high school.
My locker was on the first floor, and most of my classes were on the third floor.  I don’t remember how we all shuffled up and down a single stairway in 72 seconds between classes since we were forbidden to have backpacks or extra books or folders in class, but somehow we did.  I remember a locker on the second or third floor that had literally been bombed out – like it, and the lockers on either side of it were blown out and blackened, and I also remember the carved wooden bathroom pass being almost as big as a 2 by 4.
One thing I remember very clearly was my Spanish 1 teacher.  She ate only onions and breathed only cigarettes.  Here eyes were like pinholes and her face was like an albino prune.  She assigned our seats, and I was in the far corner with no one to the left or behind me.
One day she called my name and told me to wake up.  I had been looking at her the whole time so I wasn’t sure what she meant.  She said it again, ‘Wake up, Stephanie!”  Uh… what?  I wasn’t sleeping, and I said as much.  “You were!”  I wasn’t.  “Little white lies, Stephanie.  Little white lies.”  “But…” I tried to protest.  She cut me off and said I had to stay after class to talk to her.
I stood at the edge of her desk and with each utterance out of her mouth a whiff of hot onion ash tray garbage nearly knocked me off my feet.  “You were sleeping in class,” she insisted.  I wasn’t, and I told her this again.  She said I was a liar.  I was not accustomed to having teachers accuse me of things I didn’t do (except for my fifth grade teacher – she sucked).  But we were all accustomed to not arguing with teachers even when they were wrong.
She gave me detention.
I served my time at the table in the library after school with 4 stoners that I didn’t know well and I scribbled on my notebook waiting for it to end.
“What’s wrong, preppie?  Daddy wouldn’t give you and mommy the credit card to go to the mall?” Stoner Dan asked me.
“Mommy’s dead, so fuck off.”
That drained the blood out of his face and ended the conversation.
I told my dad that night what happened, that I didn’t know what this woman’s problem was, and that I wanted out of the class.
Dad recognized her last name, and told me a little story.
Turns out, Stinky Breath’s husband and my mother worked at the same adult ed school.  Her husband developed a habit of sleeping with the students, and one day, one of them spray-painted all about her lustful activities with him on the wall.
The next day I was sure to ask her if her husband worked at the same school where my mother used to teach.
We didn’t have anymore misunderstandings after that.

Shoes

When I was really young I wanted to be a ballerina.  I twirled around in a ruffled, knitted ice-skating skirt that my grandmother made, I learned the positions, I learned the proper way to hold my arms and hands.  I coveted the light peach slippers and even more-so the satiny pink toe-shoes.  I don’t know why I wasn’t allowed to take lessons.  I played basketball, was in the Brownies and Girl Scouts, and I took tumbling class, which was mostly so I could talk my mother into buying me a leotard – pink, of course.  But no ballet.
There was a store in town that I remember being full of boring old lady clothing and bras, but this was where you bought Girl Scout shirts, hats, ties, patches and pins.  And ballet shoes.  I remember standing in the back of the store while my mother fitted some Girl Scout thing on me – I can’t even remember what – while I looked off to the side at the ballet shoe display.  I wanted those pink ribbons to criss-cross my ankles.  I knew those were for bigger girls though – the ones who had already done their time in the light peach slippers and had built up their strength.  I used to watch my neighbor at her ballet lessons and she got to wear them.  I loved them.  I loved everything about them – the flat toe box that made a very soft knock on the floor with each step, the satiny covering, the ribbons.  I even loved the frayed edges on the pairs that had been danced in many times.
I couldn’t talk my mother into letting me take lessons.  On every trip to the library I went straight to the book-shelf with the ballet books and gazed at all the pictures even though I had them memorized.  I dressed up as a ballerina for Halloween in second grade.  I decorated my barrettes in light pink ribbon.  I climbed atop a pile of scrap wood in the back yard and with my ugly brown thick-soled shoes I spun on a nail twirling like a ballerina until the nail went through the shoe and then my foot.  When I was about 11 or 12 and had become embarrassed for my repeated ballet book checking-out I finally stole them from the library and hid them in the attic.
One summer my neighbor – the same one whose dance lessons I watched – was paid by my mother to teach me ballet at our house.  My mom wouldn’t buy me ballet slippers though.  My neighbor gave me the smallest pair she had but they were still inches bigger than my feet.  She initially stuffed the toes full of cotton balls which gave me sad long elf feet.  Then she stuffed the heels but the strap across the top of my foot insisted on pushing the shoe forward creating a half-deflated balloon appearance on my toes.  This was all just shit and I knew it even though I was 5.
If my mother were alive I would ask her what the hell her issue was with me taking ballet lessons as a child.  Yes, I was about a half a foot and several sizes larger than the other girls my age.  Yes, I had a head like a basketball.  Yes, I was a complete klutz.  But I was 3, 4, 5… 11, 12… Like most little girls who want to be fairy princesses or who love horses, most don’t grow up to become fairy princesses or horses.  I would not have become a ballerina.  I would have probably take one season of ballet class, done one recital, and that would have been the end of it.  It’s funny the things that stay with you for decades that lie just below the surface… until you remember.

But… can I still manipulate you?

Today is my gap day.  This is the day between the deaths and my birth.  I forget each year what this day feels like – kind of like when you finally get on the plane or bus to go home – – you’re not home yet, but you know the journey will be over soon and you’ll be back to your regular life and surroundings.  I go through it every single year, not by ignoring or running from my emotional shitstorm, but from simply being sad / angry / wanting-to-smoke / wanting-to-cut-myself / wanting-to-punch-things.  And the adult in me takes care of the teenager in me that will always feel cheated out of having a mother until I was ready to not have a mother, until the intense burst of emotions subsides.
Plus it never fails that a friend or two will show up to help me get through those couple days, help me cope, bring me back to the present time, remind me that life continues to go on.
The bullshit at work never fails to be a constant distraction though.  Since my birthday is Saturday, I received the company birthday card today.  And since my boss is (finally!) back in the office after being gone for about 3 weeks, the Crunty Bitch is just Oh So Sweet And Cheery and actually said “Good morning” back to me (usually it is silence, yet I say it every day, just out of refusal to be as big of an asshole as she is to me).
Crunty sent me a separate email with a picture of a needle-point cupcake and she wrote, “I wish you a very blessed birthday weekend and year.  And a very Happy “New Year” filled with Joy, happiness and blessings galore!!!”
Dumb bitch thinks I was born yesterday.
I forwarded the email to another coworker and he said, “Just means the bitch is going to strike soon.”  This is not new to any of us.  We’ve seen it so many times we’ve lost count.  She befriends you and then goes in for the hug so she can hold you still while she jams a knife in your back.  She keeps hovering around my desk… I think she wants a “thank you” from me to be overheard by my boss, you know, so he’ll know she and I are best friends!  I haven’t given her a ‘thank you,’ but if I do it will be something like this:  “Thanks for the bullshit email, you manipulative sack of crap.”
I think I’ll just keep my mouth shut instead.

“August, die she must.”

Today is my grandmother’s death anniversary (was that 2 years ago, or was it 3?).  Tomorrow is my mother’s death anniversary.  That was 28 years ago – – it’s burned into my brain.
“August, die she must.”  The Simon and Garfunkel lyric always gives me a little invisible throat punch.
Saturday is my birthday.  It is impossible for me to separate the anniversaries of the deaths – especially my mother’s – and that of my birth.
Right before my birthday I normally go down a mental checklist to see how I measure up on society’s scale.  Who better to kick the shit out of your ego than you?
So I went through my checklist to find… not a whole lot.  I didn’t lose 100 pounds.  I didn’t sell or buy a house.  I didn’t get a better job, get married, get divorced, move to a new town, have a baby, have one of my children get married / graduate from school / start kindergarten.  I didn’t even paint the kitchen.
So what HAVE I done?
I decided to quit yet another church because it surpassed my bullshit threshold despite the fact that I will be labeled a ‘church hopper’.  I decided I can’t keep up with this crap job and have started looking for a new not-crap one.  I started a blog, stopped that blog, and started another blog.  I cut a blood-sucker out of my life who popped up after my dad died.  I finished up with my therapist before she moved out of state, and I did it like an adult even though I didn’t feel like an adult.  I flew to Minnesota all by myself to visit a friend.  I drove to Kentucky all by myself to visit a friend.  I didn’t stab my coworker with my pen despite wanting to several times a day.
All in all, that’s an ok year, right?  Happy Birthday to me!  I’m taking myself to the lake!

What’s up my ass?

On my couch I have big, puffy, square, light blue feather pillows that have quilty covers that I recently took off to wash.  I’ve been pulling tiny white feathers out of my clothing ever since.
This morning as I was getting dressed I went to put my underwear on (I wear a snowmobile suit under my clothes at all times so you don’t have to picture me naked) and in the butthole area of my white “underwear pants” (as my grandma called them) there was a tiny feather sticking out, or, in, really.  I had to laugh at the idea of it.  ‘What’s up her butt?’  Just a tiny white feather.
A few months ago I decided that I can’t stand working at this job anymore.  Even more than I haven’t been able to stand it for the past 6 and a half years.  It’s for real this time.  I’ve been applying for jobs and have come close a couple times but nothing has worked out just yet.  Out of a sense of stagnancy and desperation I decided to get an old book off the shelf called Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, to try and refocus on other parts of my life that are also unfulfilled, since all my little mental monsters come up for attention at the same time.  Part of the tasks that the book prescribes are “morning pages,” which are 3 hand-written pages of whatever nonsense bullshit comes pouring out of your mind when you first wake up.
I am not a morning person.
I could sleep through a fire drill.
I am not doing morning pages.
One of the very important lessons I learned in all my years of weekly therapy was to adapt things to work for me, rather than trying to rigidly follow someone else’s rules.  So instead of morning pages, I decided to write nonsense bullshit on an email to myself during work everyday on my private email account, just like I have done for years in order to avoid doing things like suddenly pushing everything off my desk and walking out the door never to return.  And, I decided to blog again.  Part of my self-stifling problem is that I stop writing because it never amounts to anything.  I never finish a story.  And often I don’t even bother to start them because I don’t think I will ever finish them.  But I’ve decided, so what?  Some of the best writing I’ve ever read has been in private emails from friends and family, not in anything published.  Does that make it any less important?  No.  So here I am, back at the blog, with a new identity, sharing whatever nonsense bullshit comes to mind, including such things as what I find in my underwear pants.

Old old stuff – formatting is gone but whatever.

(Archives from the old blog – none of this is new, I’m just feeling organizationalish today)

by halfmindedsunflower

Bunch of crazy asses.

I went to the psychiatrist this afternoon to check in with her about my medication.
When I pulled into the parking lot that has about 30 spaces or so, there were 5 cars parked, a sixth car that kept going in and out of his space to get his car parked perfectly backwards, and me.  The backwards parking guy took so long I finally took a spot away from him and went inside.  He made it in about two minutes later.  Some of us have OCD.
In the waiting room there was a boy about ten years old who kept looking at me but would look away every time I tried to meet his eyes.  There was an overly plastic-surgeried woman who sat perfectly still staring into a magazine, and a guy who had facial hair and clothing like a teacher from Welcome Back Kotter.  He had his coat over himself like a blanket and his eyes were closed.  He was… sleeping?  I pretended to have important things to do on my phone that I still haven’t quite figured out how to use.  A skeleton-girl walked out of one office, and my doctor called me into hers.
After my time with the doctor was done I stood in the office area to pay and schedule my next appointment.  The “sleeping” man was talking with Jenn, the office worker I normally deal with – he was telling her something about having stuff in his pants pockets and then that stuff got on her desk.  I didn’t understand his story any better than I understood his choice of mustache shapes.  The other office worker that I don’t know helped me with scheduling and payment.
I looked around and commented on the half dozen or so couches that were crowded into their office.  They were taken out of another office location that had been closed down.  Jenn walked behind me to use the credit card machine and commented quietly, “Fucking ghetto, isn’t it?”  I laughed out a snort and said something about making an offer on a couch.  She assured me they’ve gotten lots of interesting offers on the couches.  So I changed my mind.  I don’t want one of those couches.  Bunch of crazy asses have been sitting on them.

God is hiding amongst us.

Last night my priest said something in her sermon that stuck in my craw.  (I’m assuming my craw is in my mind but in all truthfulness I’m not sure where it is.)  She said that God is hiding amongst us, even in the people that we can’t stand – even in the people that we hate.
I managed to force myself to stop thinking about this because what the hell?  How can I imagine that God is hiding in Crunty?  Crunty… the woman who is responsible for raising mine and several other people’s stress levels on a weekly (if not week-daily) basis just for the sheer pleasure of feeling in control?
I’ve fought with this woman (and I use the word “woman” lightly here).  I’ve tried to understand her.  I’ve stood up to her.  I’ve given in to her.  Bottom line is this:  she will never cease to find a way to get under your skin simply because she enjoys it!
So how… how do I recognize God in THAT disaster of a human being?
And riddle me this: why can’t I be God, and why can’t she be the one who has to squirm at the thought of constantly provoking and nagging and poking at me?  How do you find the godliness in a relentlessly manipulative person?
Most days I’m doing pretty good if I don’t bite her in the forehead or punch her in the knee.  Most days that is ALL THE LOVE I have for this beast!  But, now, having to think of her as actually having God inside her… now that is just fucking with my mind!
I need an aspirin… and some tonic.
And some gin.

And the day came…

Tomorrow marks the first day of Lent.  Some of us will get ashes smushed into our foreheads, some of us will fast, abstain from eating red meat, give up chocolate, or whatever combination our church or our personal faith calls for.
In recent years I’d give up Lent for Lent.  Or I’d give up church for Lent.  I’ve been more successful with those two choices than with what I did for may years prior to that, which was to give up swearing.  Didn’t last half a fucking hour.  This year I’m not going to do any of that.  Instead I’m going to give up not being myself for Lent.  It is a complicated thing – being who we truly and authentically are.  It’s kind of scary if you sometimes resort to wearing a mask like I do.
The last couple Sunday sermons have been about becoming who we authentically are, not just trying to be “good” or trying to be like Jesus, because we’re never going to be like Jesus.  But we can be who we truly are – who God made us.
I haven’t done a great job of that.  Some of that is my fault and some of it is not my fault.  The part that is my fault has mostly to do with the fact that I wait for support and approval from others.  My shrink puts it simply,  “Been barking up the wrong trees.”  She’s right.  I’ve been trying to get support from people who can’t or won’t give it, maybe because they don’t like the real me, or maybe because they’re intimidated by the real me.  Or maybe they’re just assholes.
The real me is a person who has to get to the truth, no matter how ugly or unfortunate it is.  The real me is a person who has to tell her own story whether or not anyone will like it or believe it or be pissed at me for saying it.  The real me is a writer who has to keep writing no matter how often it is discouraged, or unsupported.
So rather than wait for approval or acceptance or support, I’m going to morph again, shed yet another skin that doesn’t fit well, and despite the fact that it scares the hell out of me, I’m going to climb up the tree and go out on a limb and bark my own truth for my own sake, whether or not anyone is listening.

Upgrade.

This morning I didn’t get to work until about 9:15.  In my own defense Crunty was out Monday for a “funeral” (she lies so much that none of us believed that is really where she was) and then Tuesday for a “doctor appointment” (insert same parenthetical snark from before).
When she isn’t here to open the office that means that I have to leave home at 7:05 AM at the latest to open up.  This does not work for me because my brain literally does not wake up until 7:30 at the earliest.  So I sleep-drove to work for two days in a row.  I usually get here at about 8:30 or so, and she always leaves at 3:45 because she (pretends to) get to work at 7:30 AM but people who really do get here at 7:30 AM say they don’t see here.  There are a whole six people in this office so it is hard to sneak in.  Anyway, I am always here to close up at 5:00 and try not to schedule my appointments for the afternoon so she can go do whatever weekday fucking off that she does at 3:45 (insert any of the following lies she typically uses:  “I have to go to the bank.”  “I have to go to the post office.”  “I have to go to all three banks.”  “I have to take papers to the accountant.”).  But this two-day-long-buttcrack-of-dawn shenanigan pissed me off, so I scheduled myself a late-day eye-doctor appointment in a few weeks so she can stay until 5pm, because paybacks are a bitch.  And so am I.
I was late this morning because I slept through my alarm clear up until 7:30.  We were having upgrades done on our computers so I texted Crunty so she would know where to find all the necessary passwords.  Our marketing manager left me all the information, and I had collected two of the laptops from our off-site employees so we would be ready to go.  I have a table behind my desk and had one of the laptops set up and charging yesterday, so that if needed there would be an open outlet to charge the second laptop up today.
I had the second laptop and my space heater running this morning and when the company called to remotely log into everyone’s computers to do the upgrade, Crunty insisted on handling it despite the fact that 85% of it had been handled by me and the marketing manger.  Whatever.
She couldn’t get laptop #1 to connect with the internet, and said in a dumbbitch voice to the upgrade lady on the phone, “Oh, well I see why!  It isn’t plugged in!”  She gave me a mean glance and then looked at my electrical outlets – the ones that had laptop #2 and my heater plugged into it.
“That’s just the electrical ou….” I started to say.
“It isn’t plugged in!  No wonder it isn’t working!” she snapped back at me before I could finish.
This is her.  This is the dumbbitch I work with.  And when I get in a fight I have a really really REALLY hard time backing down, so I often avoid it altogether.
I unplugged my heater and plugged laptop #1 into the electrical wall so she could try again to get on the internet.  I let her fuck around with it for a minute, then I finally connected it to the wifi.
This has been my day so far.
I need a coworker upgrade.

Sorry…

Sorry for my cringe-worthy typographical and grammatical errors.  This is what happens when I post without having anyone else read it first, and don’t even read it aloud to myself, which is always.
I do know when to use “don’t” and “doesn’t.”  If I get that wrong again I think my mother will come back to life and ground me until I figure it out.

You’re beautiful!

Last Saturday I went out for drinks with a new friend.  We sat at our table and chatted.
“You’re beautiful,” the crackhead at the next table mumbled.
He was looking at my friend.  He was fixated on her.
“Thanks,” she said, being too polite to tell him to go fuck off.
“Esscuse me.  Esscuse me.  Esscuse me,” he continued.
We maintained eye contact only with each other in hopes that Crackhead would leave us alone.
It didn’t work.
“I gots two credit cards,” he said, holding them up.  Sadly he didn’t have any more teeth than he did credit cards.
“Dude, seriously.  We just want to talk  TO EACH OTHER.  Okay?” I snapped.  I was about to get out of my chair and fuck him up a little bit, but I try to act with at least an ounce of dignity, especially when I’m with a new friend who don’t DOESN’T know me all that well.
A while later his partner in crime came to our table and introduced himself.  He said he noticed we weren’t wearing any wedding rings.  She held her hand up to show him that she did in fact have a wedding band on.
Crackhead Number Two asked if the ring was from me.
“Yes,” my friend replied, without even a blink.
I was basically wallpaper at this point.  Crackhead and Crackhead Number Two just wanted her.  My feelings were hurt.  And by hurt I mean I was going to hurt them for harassing my “fiancé.”
Usually comments like, “Sorry, I don’t date men,” or “Sorry, I don’t date women,” or, “Sorry, I don’t date men with mustaches,” or “Sorry, I don’t date women with mustaches” can get a person to back off.  But even though we were pretending to be an engaged gay couple, these two fuckers still wouldn’t back off.
“You look like a doll,” Crackhead continued to mumble.  Due to his lack of teeth my friend couldn’t understand him but it freaked her out enough that she asked me to hold her hand.  I did, and we planned our wedding which will be in Hawaii.  We’re going to elope.  I hope her husband doesn’t mind.
The next day after the church service I was sitting with this same friend in the fellowship hall and we were eating a potluck lunch.  Some guy wandered up to her and said he had new glasses and “wow does it feel weird!  It’s like I’m a foot taller!  I rode my bike to church today and I’m a mile off the ground!  It’s totally weird!”
“Oh,” she said with a polite smile on her face.  Then something shiny distracted him and he wandered away.
She told me she’d introduce me to him but she had no idea who he was.
“You are a weird-guy magnet,” I told her.  “Three weirdoes in two days.  Not bad.”

Lent, liars, and losing my mind.

I’ve had to make another change to my medication recently – the one that deals with the depression and some of the anxiety.  I’m still in transition and it has been a bit like roller-skating on ice.  Despite the random feelings that the next step I will take might be into an invisible sink hole, I do my best to stay a step ahead of it and keep reminding myself that just like the monsters under the bed, it probably isn’t real.  This is not easy and I don’t know how people with very serious mental health issues cope at all.  Being bat shit crazy must be utterly exhausting.
Crunty has been faking her sick voice for weeks now.  She still forgets that she’s pretending to be sick so she talks in a normal voice, then a nasally one, then a deaf-since-birth one, then a normal one… you get the picture.
She loves to mention that she is a church-goer.  I’m not sure who she is trying to prove something to, but in the six years I’ve worked with her, she hasn’t been able to help herself (she has also worked Sundays and holidays at other jobs if the money is right, but she only talks about that very quietly).  Her comments about church come up in conversations kind of like a root beer burp might sneak out unexpectedly and no one is quite sure how to respond.   For instance, “the ladies at church like my shoes” came up during a conversation that had nothing to do with church or shoes or ladies.  Lately she has talked a lot about Lent and how she can’t wait for it to get here because she is going to give Jackass up for Lent (funny how my two least favorite people also can’t stand each other).  She said she has told Father of her plans and now Father contacts her daily to see how her Lenten preparations are going.  I hope that Father is going to use this as a tool to make her stop being so much of a, well, tool.  But I know full well he is only human and can’t work any more magic than anyone else can.
I’ve been thinking about Lent too.  In the past I have given up church for Lent.  It usually isn’t planned, but I just seem to get horribly burned out on the whole church thing right about then.  I’m trying to change that.  I’ve also been thinking about what I should do for Lent.  In my faith tradition we don’t necessarily have to “give up” something, but rather we can take on some kind of additional practice that can deepen our faith or increase our discipline.  I need to stop hating her guts, but I have no idea how.  She’s a liar.  She lies about big things and little things.  She gets caught in her lies.  And then she lies some more to explain those lies away.  She forgets her previous lies and tells more of them.  She lies for attention.  She lies to get away with things.  I can’t stand her and I hate all her lies.
Maybe once the transition to my new meds gets ironed out and I’m no longer fearing invisible sink holes with each step, I can figure out how to tackle it better.  Maybe I can imagine putting her and her lies in those sink holes.  Wait.  That’s not right either.  Shit.  I’m screwed.

“Draw what you would find amongst the weeds.”

I recently had a dream about my dad.  He was dead, but just like my mother often does in my dreams, he walked and talked, breaking all the rules of being dead.
In the dream there was a large circle of people – the only one I knew being my sister, and we were both really sad about him being dead.  He passed around pads of paper and markers and said to us, “Draw what you would find amongst the weeds.”
I didn’t know what he meant so I started drawing long grass at the edge of a lake, feeling really sad.  I don’t remember much after that.  And I couldn’t make sense of the dream.
But over the last few years I have been doing just that – looking for the good plants amongst the weeds, accepting that the roots of the bad are often very entangled with the roots of the good, and knowing that pulling up the weeds can sometimes kill the other plants.
And while it sometimes feels tempting to pour gas on it and set it all on fire, my dead father reminded me to look again amongst the weeds.

Elephants

Yesterday after a long morning of doing next to nothing at work, then going to the shrink’s office for a 1:00 appointment, then coming back to work to finish up the day doing some more of almost nothing, I decided to go to the grocery store.  It is cold as hell and I really wanted to drive home instead of loading and unloading groceries.  Because that is really hard.  But, I decided I may as well do it then because had I completely run out of lettuce and jelly beans.
I am not a small woman.  I do not make fun of other not-small women because that would make me a giant asshole, and I’m already an asshole about other things so I try to pare down my asshole-ishness when I can (assholyness?  No, that’s definitely wrong).
There were two women there – I’m assuming Grandma and Ma, along with a slack-jaw adolescent male, and I was behind them.  Despite the fact that I had a shopping list, and that chances are slim that I needed the exact same things that this threesome needed, I somehow managed to get stuck behind them for the entire slow-moving, aggravating as fuck shopping trip.
Picture this:  two larger women (not super huge, just not small) with long legs, wearing loose-fitting jeans that nearly touch the ground, and shirts and jackets that don’t even cover the waste band, both hunched over and basically driving their carts with their elbows, moving at a pace that would make a sloth laugh.  Looks like the backsides of two denim elephants minus their little tails.
I don’t care if people want to show their butts and drive their carts with their elbows.  Or even if they want to move at approximately .0006 miles per hour.  But a grocery store isle is not big enough to have two elephants shopping side by side.
“Excuse me,” I said, repeatedly, while they had an in depth conversation about canned corn.  “EXCUSE ME,” I said louder.  These bitches were selectively deaf to my requests.  I think Slack Jaw was just screwing with me though.  There was a moment when Ma Elephant was slightly farther down the isle than Grandma Elephant and I tried to take the opportunity to weave my way through, but Slack Jaw eyed me and orbited around and got right in my way.  I kept moving to let this little punk know that I was not afraid to mow him down with my cart. I missed his toes by a thread.
Finally!  I got past this trio of annoyingness!  Or so I thought… they caught up to me, somehow getting in front of me once again.  I resigned to the fact that a 30 minute shopping trip would be about 70 minutes, and there wasn’t anything I could do about it.  My blood pressure was already high enough so I gave in.
When I got to the produce section I thought I was home free.  Surely this is not he kind of family that snacks on carrot stick and apple slices.  Nope.  But the fancy cheese is in the produce isle.  Damn fancy cheese.  I quickly grabbed some strawberries, lettuce, mushrooms, and rounded the corner to get savoy cabbage (they were out… where am I, eastern Europe?  I am far too soft and spoiled to live in such conditions) so I settled for Napa cabbage instead.  Thanks heavens I know how to be creative with my stir-fry.
Up at the registers I noticed that Ma Elephant was on one side of me, and Grandma Elephant was on the other.  We were three beasts waiting to be released from our stalls.  I won that race and flipped them the bird on my way out the door (not really, but a woman can dream).

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One big happy family!

Yesterday we had our annual work luncheon.  It was held at a local restaurant and most of our offsite staff made the trek into town to join us.  We do this every year.  And it is weird every year.  Staring at each other and hanging out like the big happy family that we aren’t.
I was the fourth of 9 people to arrive.  We met at an odd time:  2:30.  The restaurant was nearly empty outside of the staff on duty.  While I was walking up to the four tables that had been pushed together to accommodate our party, Crunty waved her arm up in the air as far as she could with a big smile on her face.  At a concert or county fair this might have been appropriate.  But being ten feet from the table in an almost-empty room, it was just plain weird.  Not to mention that most days she glares at me, so the fake smile always throws me off, and then pisses me off.  She also fails to make eye contact when she plays these games.  So the rest of the world will think she’s giving you a huge smile, but really she’s giving your forehead or left ear a huge smile.  I chose my seat so that there was one person, and one empty chair between us, trying to have as much space without being obvious.
Lately she’s been doing things like cleaning out her seriously cluttered office and bitching loudly about not putting up with shit anymore.  She has also blocked herself out on the company calendar for every single evening for what is obviously a second job.
I was hopeful… I was hopeful to the point of being giddy that she was going to announce her resignation at our luncheon.
To my immediate right was one of my coworkers that I get along quite well with.  As the rest of the party arrived  – other coworkers and some of their spouses, including her (brother) husband who is apparently from the same troll species as she is, everyone started telling stories, future plans, new year’s resolutions.  Crunty sat at the end of the table with her head tipped slightly to the right with a smile so fake she looked like she was filming a denture commercial. She kept her eyes wide open with just the tiniest crinkle between her slightly-raised eyebrows, which along with her denture commercial smile should have won her an Academy Award for fake adoration.
For the first half of next week it will only be me and her in the office.  I hate how much energy I give to her, and I know from my discussions with my shrink that Crunty’s objective seems to be to keep everyone just a little off balance so she can feel like she’s in control.  I hate manipulative and controlling people.  HATE THEM.  In order to get my anger back in check I looked up online articles about working with narcissists.  The first article said not to make your issues with the narcissist public, so I decided the author is probably dumb and I found other articles that assured me that all I really have to do is stand my ground and calmly not let her push me around, which I do.
Sometimes I feel silly applying old scripture to modern life, but in times like this I like to remember Psalm 23 verse 4: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”  Because she’s a little bit evil, and I’m trying really hard not to join that club.
The announcement of her resignation never came.

Because the pin has already been pulled.

This is how the conversations go around here:
Crunty:  When you cut each new purchase order this year for all our general contractors, will you ask them for the insurance certificates, as well as GL and WC?  Otherwise I won’t remember.
Me:  Uh, what?
Crunty:  The insurance certificates… in case I get audited by the State, I need to have them on file.
Me:  Uh…  I don’t get the insurance certificates… so I’m not sure who to ask.  Who have you asked already?
Crunty:  No one yet.  But when you cut the new purchase orders, will you ask?  And for GL and WC?
Me:  What does GL and WC mean?
Crunty:  General liability and workman’s comp.  It is all on the same form.
Me:  So, if we get the insurance certificates, it will already be on there?
Crunty:  Yep.  Just ask them for it when you cut the first PO to them this year.
Me:  How about if we just ask for the certificates right now?  Because I won’t remember either (this part I said only inside my own head: because I don’t handle this stuff or give a royal fuck about insurance certificates, because that is YOUR JOB, not mine.  But you’re totally crazy and I’m a little scared of you and don’t want you to stab me next week when no one is here but the two of us so I’ll just take care of it).
        I spent 11 whole seconds to send the email requests for these certifuckates to my business contacts… who are all people like myself… who handle sales and orders…. not accounting.  I don’t know the accounting people, on account of I’m NOT IN ACCOUNTING…   So my contacts forwarded the request on to their accounting people… who forwarded the certificates to me… which I forwarded to Crunty… who is our accounting person.
        Sometimes I do things because the pin has already been pulled out and I just want to avoid being blown up.

Back in the saddle (aka the purple chair with wheels)

I’m back to work after a blissful 2 solid weeks off.  I slept.  And lounged.  And hung out.  I was almost completely useless with the exception of doing some major sorting and cleaning.  I read a lot, wrote a little, and caught up with friends.  It was nice.
Christmas was different.  We are still adjusting to missing relatives who have died in recent years.  But some things were the same, such as one person telling another person to shut the fuck up (totally justified.  I keep replaying it in my head because it was so satisfying), as well as a white elephant gift that may or may not have included a bag of weed (I’ll never tell.  It didn’t go home with me anyway, which is good because like a certain former president I never inhaled.  Perjury schmerjury).
And now I’m back in the purple chair at the big desk with stacks of crap that, at the moment, may as well be in a different language as far as I’m concerned.  My brain hasn’t turned back on and for now I’m going to ride that pony as long as I can.  Which would put me in a different saddle than the purple one that makes my ass spread like bread dough on a warm day.  It’s the saddle in my mind… which is still sleeping.

She’s off her meds.

Crunty has an issue with meds.  She won’t take them.  She gets them, and takes some of them, sometimes, or too many of them other times, but now she’s off them completely.
And she’s proud of it.
Being off your meds and being sane and reasonable are not the same thing for some of us, myself included.  A while back I had to confess that I was going through a medication change in case my behavior had gotten weird.  There was no way around it.  Being able to focus and remember things was what could have been effected, so since I am the incoming and outgoing information filter at this place, I had to let people know.  I think this prompted her to announce to as many people as possible – in front of me, that she is no longer on anything!
She has at times had debilitating migraines.  I don’t wish that on anyone (well…).  But like the fake deaf voice she’s talking with today (yes, it has progressed) I’m not sure which of those migraines are real, and which are hangovers.  Or which are just shopping trips that require some kind of sympathy.
A couple years ago she said her migraine meds make her gain weight, and she’d rather “be laid up in the hospital than get fat!”
I’m fat.  So, uh, thanks, bitch.  I’d rather be fat and not crazy than be anything like what she is.
I haven’t had the heart to tell her that whether or not she’s fat or thin, she’s still ugly and crazy and annoying.  It isn’t like she’s got some rockin bod that she can’t afford to lose.  I’m sure her (brother) husband will still snuggle his loser ass up to his bread winner wife no matter what.  Even when she was a young troll I’m sure she wasn’t much of a looker.  But then again, beauty is in the eyes of her brother.
Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way.  Oh what fun it is to work with someone who’s cray cray.

It would be easier to get a head transplant.

Crunty is talking with this totally fake sick voice this morning.  She does this.  You’d be amazed to see it.  Little kids try this kind of crap but by about age 12 they realize they aren’t fooling anyone.  But Crunty, who is roughly 50 years old, still tries this shit.  Somehow, what comes along with her fake sick voice is a paralyzed face.  She talks like her face stopped working!
I think we’re just preparing for a repeat of last year’s first quarter “vacation.”  She came back from the holidays with bronchitis, tonsillitis, the flu, the swine flu, the bird flu, the stomach flu, a ruptured eardrum, pneumonia, deafness, and an enlarged prostate.  This required several weeks off work, surgical procedures (which she pronounced “nurnical pronenures” because she was dumb enough to think that if you go deaf in your late 40s then you talk like Helen Keller.  Sorry… I have friends who have been mostly deaf for most of their lives who don’t talk like this, and they laughed their asses off when I told them about this), a colonoscopy (I thought they’d find her head up there, but no luck), an MRI (I’m sure the problem was in her head… but not the kind of thing a magnet can show), and finally a surgery that required in incision that was so big it nearly cut her in half.  They removed an ovarian cyst, and her spleen or appendix or something – – those details were fuzzy.  Clearly they left the bullshit there though.
During this time of her, a ‘hem, illnesses, I canceled and rescheduled the same two doctors appointments and 1 dentist appointment so many times that my doctor had her nurse call me to see what the hell my problem was, and the dentist wondered if I had fired him.  I got no lunch breaks.  And… my father died.  Since she and I are the two who cover the office, that left it up to my boss to rearrange his schedule to stay here when I was gone for almost a week being stunned and trying to figure out how to do a funeral with my siblings.
She managed to check in daily with my boss, explaining how she was bed ridden and while she was just finally able to get up for a shower, her family would change her bed sheets for her, then she would return to bed.  She invited my boss to lunch at her house (which I still haven’t figure out, but he never took her up on her offer).  She returned to work under pressure from my boss, so to keep things dramatic, her husband would walk her into the office holding her arm.  He didn’t have to hold her arm when another coworker’s wife busted her shopping at the grocer store though.  Must be the gravity at the store isn’t as strong as it is here.
I feel mean for how much I make fun of this idiot.  I feel like I should change my ways and be more kind to her.  I’m not mean to her face.  I just write stories about her and make fun of her behind her back.  It’s my coping mechanism.  I would say that I’ll give up my ways as a new year’s resolution, but it would be easier for me to get a head transplant.

I’m so sorry but, this is where I have to stab you with my pen.

About a month ago, Crunty (the moron bookkeeper) asked me to double check the sales spreadsheet to make sure she had all her invoicing update.  She’s dumb and I’m trying really really hard to get along with her so I tried to look for places she hasn’t reconciled (which the sales reps here call “wreck and filed”) the bills.
I don’t do bookkeeping on account of I’m not the bookkeeper and it makes no sense for me to do this, but I’m dumb enough to give everything a shot.
The spreadsheet is huge.
I did some auto sorts.
I’m not good at auto sorts.
I fucked it all up.
Then I painstakingly fixed it.
She wanted the two of us to go over something together this week but I couldn’t remember what it was, so I asked.  She said she won’t sugar coat it, but the spreadsheet is all fucked up, and information that she recently entered is gone because of me.
The missing information she is speaking of was lost just a few days ago.  And I haven’t fucked it all up, and then fixed it, since about a month ago.
So go fuck yourself.
I still have a long list of order summaries that she fucked up in September when she was doing my work and shouldn’t have been (she has an incessant need to prove to herself and all of us here that she can do my job), which now will be a long winter project for me to fix.  Have I rubbed her nose in it?  No, my dear reader.  She doesn’t even know about it.  I figured I’d try really hard not to be an asshole, and just fix it this winter when things are slow.
I want to be an asshole!
Maybe it’s the chocolate talking.  Maybe having my blood be 5% cacao isn’t working with my chemistry.  Or maybe I just need to file down my horns.

Christmas, reconstructed.

I am fairly grinchy when it comes to Christmas.  But I’m starting to think that it isn’t really me – it’s our society.
I thought that I didn’t like Christmas because my mother died young and that makes holidays stressful.  Or that I got so used to going to Florida for the holidays that my brain stubbornly wants sand and palm trees instead of snow and pine trees.  Or that I don’t do all that well in social situations and you have to be social.  Or that I never quite feel like I know if I bought enough gifts, or too many gifts, or if I bought someone a gift and they weren’t planning to get me one and then I make them feel bad or weird or obligated.  Or that the sun doesn’t freaking shine very often this time of year.
But now I’m changing my mind about all this shit and getting down to the brass tacks.
Christmas isn’t about decorations and parties and gifts.  I mean, maybe, but not really.
Last year, my favorite coworker said that she always has a birthday cake for Jesus.  OK, do what you like to do.  There is no harm in that.  But she wouldn’t shut up about it, and carried on about how everyone forgets that Christmas is really about Jesus’ birthday and everyone should have a birthday cake and blady blah blah blah.
I stayed silent.
She and my boss continued to deliberate.  I tuned them out.  I’m not sure if Jesus likes ice cream with his cake or not.  It’s not the kind of thing I think about much.
Finally my boss asked me if I have a birthday cake for Jesus too.
“No.  I practice different Christmas traditions.  Instead I kill all male children in the village under the age of two.”
I’m kind of a psycho that way.
I just get tired of it.  All the happy joy bullshit and not a whole lot of the rest of the truth.  The Christmas story is not lacking danger and gore.   An unmarried adolescent who should have been stoned to death according to her society’s rules is under the care of a man that she doesn’t know too well, an angel nearly scared the life out of her and had to tell her something that would have made me check myself in to the nearest mental hospital, a doubting man with this kid betrothed to him is zipping his lip and trying his best not to push this barely-teenaged girl away because he knows she’ll be killed, but at the same time, who wants to take on that responsibility?  Then he also has a dream that would make me – again – run to the nearest mental hospital.  A jealous king is pretty much willing to kill anybody to keep this illegitimate child from surviving, and lots of parents suffer their children being slaughtered because of him.  People had to be sneaky and careful and walk alternate routes to avoid death.  No one is following societal norms (except maybe Herod).
I know that Jesus is the glimmer of reality that God is with us.  I know that Mary, by doing God’s will, despite how utterly surreal and horrifying it must have been at times, brought forth God – literally.  And she is our example until the end of time, that if we do God’s will, we will bring forth God, again and again.
The awesome and bloody truth is lost for me amidst the “got your shopping done?” and “what’re you doing for Christmas?” questions.  I know people aren’t trying to be dicks, and I’m kind of the dick for thinking that everyone should see things my way.  And I do like seeing my family and spending time with friends.  It is just so unsettling to know that because of all the other stuff associated with this holiday that so many poor kids (in our own towns) are worried about going back to school after Christmas and being asked “what’d ya get?” and not measuring up.  Or parents are stressed because they don’t have the money to get their kids enough stuff to keep them happy and don’t have enough time to do all the stuff that has to be done to make everything look perfect, and what many grown-ups  really want to do is go to bed and wait for this shit to be over.  All the while the real story is kind of lost.
What happened then, to the truth?  Yes, a baby is born.  Yes, he is the Messiah.  Nothing good is just that easy though.  We’ve watered down the scary and bizarre parts which are the exact contrast we need to understand the fullness of this reality.

Couldn’t have done it better myself!

You may or may not realize this about me, but while it takes me a long time to get really angry about something, it takes me an eternity to let… it……………………………… go.
You also may or may not know that I work with two of the most annoying people this side of the Mason-Dixon line: Crunty and Jackass.
You know the parts of scripture that tell us not to seek revenge?  I’m one of the people they were written for.
Revenge is God’s.
Revenge is God’s.
Revenge is God’s.
It has taken an exhausting amount of energy to avoid getting into arguments with Crunty, the office bitch.  I’ve been nice, bit my tongue, smiled, not corrected her when she was dead wrong and causing problems.  All of this because, if we all play nice in the sandbox, we can be off work for TWO SOLID WEEKS for the holidays.  It will feel like the good old days of winter break from school!
We’ve been getting a lot of candy from various vendors as holiday gifts.  Yesterday we received some, and Crunty, Carl (one of the guys I get along with…yes, I do get along with SOME people, most of the time), and I, all ate some.  And then we went back to our desks while our sugar buzzes took over.
Jackass, the male counterpart of Crunty, doesn’t wash his hands after he goes to the bathroom.  I don’t know what could be sicker.  Grown man junk germs.  I mean, seriously.  It is a spoken rule that if you see a package or bag of something edible being opened, and you know who has stuck their mitts in there, then you know if you can or can’t eat it.  If the bag is already open and you didn’t see it happen, unless you want to potentially eat Jackass’s junk germs, you’d better just pass it up.
Jackass got into the toffee.
Crunty came back from lunch and went straight for it before I realized what was going on.  I didn’t have time to warn her before she swallowed.
Then I told her.
Then she went to the bathroom and threw up.
Revenge IS God’s!
Oh another note, I crushed a twinkle Christmas light in my cabinet door behind my desk and it popped and sparked made a tiny puff of smoke.  It was unexpectedly satisfying and I highly recommend it.

Vida, my great aunt.

My great aunt was a hooker.  She died when I was in my teens but I’ve always been proud of her for being a badass.  If she was still alive she’d be about 100, just to give you an idea of when she was living.
She came to our house once when I was in high school and said the doctor told her to stop smoking.  She was about 75 then, and she quit that morning, but decided to give up on quitting that afternoon.
“What kind of cigarettes you got?” she asked me.
“I have Salem lights, my sister has Camel lights, and Dad has Winstons.”
“Give me whatever’s the strongest.”
She was old, but she wasn’t old-lady-ish.  She didn’t carry her purse on her forearm and blush when someone swore.  She had a sense of humor and was a little crusty, just how I like my family members.
I have had a passion to help with the issue of human trafficking for a few years now, and it won’t go away.  I’ve done a little work, along with a friend, with Women At Risk (http://warinternational.org/).  But I need to do more.  I am driven.  For a  brief moment I thought about becoming a nun so I could give up all the bullshit of everyday life and just do the work.  But then I came back to reality and realized I could probably only live like that for maybe 5 years, and then I’d want out.  I mean, I can’t wear funky robes and hats and pray all the time.  That would be weird.  Besides, who would take care of my cat?
I’ve become increasingly aware that hookers don’t want to be hookers… young children are being bought and sold as sex slaves.  And this isn’t “over there” in the third world countries.  This shit happens in the Midwest of the USA.  It happens in the town where I live, right under my nose, and I don’t even see it.  These kids are in school, recruiting other girls, because their pimps are posing as their moms and dads, and they’ve been so damaged and brain washed that they believe all they are worth is . . .  Or they turn to drugs to numb the ongoing feelings of worthlessness and dirtiness, and then get arrested for drugs or prostitution, and then their pimp bails them out, and there they are again – hooking to keep the pimp from beating and raping them, and taking drugs to numb the pain of their hellish reality.  They are not free.  They can’t go home.  Maybe there is no home.  Or maybe their family rejected them.  Often their self esteem is so destroyed that they don’t believe they are worth being forgiven and taken care of again.  There are very few police officers, and even fewer programs that provide safe haven for these girls and women (and boys… ) to get help, to be somewhere safe, to get counseling, and help with drug addition.
I’ve realized that my Great Aunt Vida did what she had to do.  Her mother was dead.  She was homeless at a young age – maybe middle school age, and there was no one to run to, nowhere to live,  no one to finish raising her or to give her guidance.  There was hooking, or starving.  I have to assume she lost her virginity to this profession.
I don’t know how to fix this problem.  I can barely figure out how to help this problem.  I keep running into dead ends.  But now I can’t “un-know” the hellish reality that a startling number of people suffer.
But in the spirit of Aunt Vida, I will march on.

“It’s the best time of the year…” (?)

My boss likes to decorate the office for the holidays.  He got the stuff out last Friday and I pushed the tree off to the corner and did nothing else.  Yesterday morning he was decorating and could hear the blue grass music I had playing.  He asked me to show him my teeth, and said I had to many of them to be listening to blue grass.
I mustered up some energy to help him decorate (I would have rather cleaned the bathroom).  So now I am surrounded by little multi-colored twinkle lights with a backdrop of gray skies, leafless trees, and half dead grass.  I know the lights are intended to brighten up the darkest part of the year, but for me it is like putting frosting and candles on a dog turd and singing me Happy Birthday.
I really need to do a better job of planning for the holidays.  And by that I mean I really need to take mid December to mid January off work, go live in a tent on the Florida keys, drink fruity rum drinks all day long and sun bathe until I’m a drunk piece of beef jerky.

Remind me again, who was it that I couldn’t live without?

Driving home last night a song came on that brought a tear to my eye.  It brought back those lovesick feelings when I couldn’t live without… who was it that I couldn’t live without again?  Was this five years ago?  Ten maybe?  Clearly I was mistaken at the time when I thought I’d die if I didn’t have… whoever that was.
There is an upcoming party that I want to go to, but I know I will see someone that I’d rather avoid.  With some advice from my shrink, and an emotionally mature person, as well as some coping skills from a friend, I now know what to say and do in order to – hopefully – avoid conflict and be polite (or as my dad would often say, “be cordial”).  But of course I can’t just let it be.  I have to anticipate and play out every possible scenario in my mind.  Something about this one particular person mixed with my particular brand of crazy makes me vulnerable to getting stuck, like how dogs and fleece jackets get those little round evil pom-poms from the outdoors that look like little innocent puff balls but then latch on and break apart and weave their way in and don’t come out until you shave the dog or cut a hole in the jacket.  That kind of tangle.  Crazy tangle.
I could easily say back to this person the exact same things that were said to me.  And it is tempting.  So, so tempting.  But first, it would get me too close to the evil pom-poms.  And second, it is just so utterly hurtful that despite what a piece of work I can be, I can’t smash someone’s heart into the ground even if it was done to me – by them.  Well, I mean, I can, as in I’m fully capable of it.  But I’ll regret it and have to live with that guilt.
Some day this person will blend into the background of my memory, along with whoever it was that I was so desperately in love with, and will only be a tear on the edge of my eye as I’m hurling down the road as a song comes on that reminds me of… whoever that was.

Instead of doing it right, can I just do it wrong and have you fix it?

I had to take my car in to the shop this morning.  I made sure they knew that I am capable of doing the brakes (I am, by the way, because I’m a badass like that), and that I know there is no dipstick on my transmission fluid, and that in general they shouldn’t fuck with me.
I hope they don’t know I’m sort of full of shit.
So after being told approximately 85 jokes by the old man who had to shuttle me from the auto shop to my office, I arrived to a message that made about as much sense as a chopstick in a bowl of soup, but I figured it out because I’m a badass like that.  Then my boss bit my face off so I bit his off right back because I’m a badass like that (or perhaps that makes me a dumbass).
Crunty, the female not-favorite coworker said she is going to start listing a bunch of information in our computers system for the 2015 calendar year.  I asked her to hold off, because that information is most likely going to be revised at least three more times, so it will have to be redone anyway.  She repeated that she was going to do it anyway, so I tried to re-word my request and clarify that the information will be wrong and will have to be fixed anyway. We went back and forth four times on this.
But I’m the dumb one.  I was the one who wasn’t getting it.
What it comes down to is this: she wants to list the information so it is “done” (wrong), and then have me fix it as I go throughout the year.  Because catching a million little mistakes and curveballs and tying up a million loose ends and grabbing every pot that is being pushed from the back burner right off the edge of the stove is my job.  While answering the phone.  And being polite.
This is my problem.  This is the monster I created.  I’m slowing swallowing the pill that came with recognizing my codependent behavior (or shall I say, I’m slowly nibbling on the pill, because that thing is the size of an elephant).  Hopefully I don’t get fired in the process.  But if I do I’m taking my tent and percolator and my cat and driving to Mexico to live off scorpion meat and fermented cactus juice.
On another note, I tried to decorate for Christmas.  I figured out why I don’t like it that me.  It’s because I suck at it.
xmas deco
When I bought the decorations they made sense.
So now instead here is a picture of the cat.
cat

“God, is every day going to be like this?”

This is the time of year that I wait for the sun to go down.  The gray is more depressing than the black.  The transition from busy, hustling long work days, to slow, quiet, analytical sorting and updating is fitting with the shitty weather.  I get grouchier.  And I’m not exactly a peach to begin with.
I have a hard time sorting out what is depression and what is just me, when I need to increase “the meds” and when I need to accept that the world just sucks right now, how much of this is the loss of my father and grandmother, and how much of this is a chemical shit-storm in my brain.  There is no test for that like there is for cholesterol or blood sugar…  I suppose if there was I’d be able to turn myself into a zombie, which isn’t the answer (Halloween is over, after all).
I started craving some of the music I circle back to during moodier times – Sons of the Never Wrong (http://sons.com/).  Somehow I feel like they understand mental shit-storms of all natures.  I sing (akin to howling at the sirens) to their music in the car between blank stares and tears of anger and sadness.  I wonder if I need an increase on my meds.  I have a friend who is on so much Prozac she once told me, “Oh, honey, I can’t squeak out a tear for anything.”  Sometimes I wonder if I should do that too… I cry at the drop of a hat.  I also bite people’s faces off at the drop of a hat, unfortunately.
Yesterday afternoon I finally planted some spring bulbs in the yard – in little messy patches here and there, just like the rest of everything I grow.  My neighbor two doors down had his house edged with white lights and a pine tree decked out with multi-colored ones.  I was going to put up my decorations too.  Then I remembered I’m a grouch.  And that clutter sort of bugs me and I will take it all down in a week anyway.
If I still smoked and if you could still smoke pretty much anywhere, I’d be in coffee shops filling up ashtrays and a note books.  But I’m too old and asthmatic to smoke like that, so instead I will sing, “All God’s children got shoes… all God’s children got walking to do… God, is every day going to be like this?  From the belly of a big big fish…”  (Jonah, from the Son’s album One if by Hand).
So if you’re feeling it too, know that I’m here, being a grouch right along with you!

F*cktardiness and possums

Every morning last week I woke up with this thought in my mind:  “YES!  It’s Saturday!”  Then reality sunk in a few seconds later…
It was a bad week.  And by bad I mean, it took all I had not to run out the front door and quit my job.  I nearly castrated a coworker who simply would not leave me the fuck alone after I told him to, repeatedly.  I was grouchy and I knew it and I told him so, and he just kept poking the bear.  Don’t.  Poke.  The Bear.
My prayers included the usual random whimpering about things, asking for help and blessings and guidance as to if I should just quit this job or if it will just be the same shit at a different address.
God talks to me with animals.  You don’t have to believe it.  I didn’t realize it for a long time.  But I had a shrink who knew all about animal totems when it started.
First there were horses in my dreams.  This was my power that I was discovering, and afraid of.  I would walk with the horses.  Ride the horses.  Be the horses.  They stayed with me for quite a while.
Eventually I had a (real) bat in the house after starting to deal with some difficult stuff in therapy.  Bats visit you during transitions when you feel like you’re going to die or not be able to get through it, but you will.  Then a bee flew into my window.  I was still a smoker at the time so I was hurling down the highway and had the window cracked and somehow a bee flew in, sideways, then died.  Then a grass hopper jumped in my car and refused to leave.  He just sat there on the floor of the passenger seat looking at me with his beady eyes.  A monarch butterfly clung to my windshield for miles.
I don’t remember what all these bugs meant, but this whole ordeal was over a time period of about a month so it was strange.  I had lots of spiders too, which are ancestors, and they spun very quick and huge webs no matter where I was. Turtles found me.  And by that I mean they would swim or run towards me (running turtles are hilarious!).  I love turtles and they love me to.  Turtles have mother energy.  I’m not sure if I needed mother energy or if they were restoring what had been depleted from all the screwed up needy assholes I had to grow up.  But that is another long winding maze of a story – complete with trap doors and fun mirrors.
I haven’t had many animal visits lately.  But yesterday morning when I walked out the back door a possum was in my yard.  She just calmly turned around and looked at me and then went back to eating whatever she was eating.  I don’t like possums.  They look like pointy nosed furry pigs with rat tails.  They freak me out a little so I try to keep in mind that they are like kangaroos but small and ugly.  I walked over to get in my car and she came over too.  She ran up and down the side of the fence about 10 feet from me.  I acknowledged her and waited to see what she would do.  She finally wandered off and I closed the car door and left for work.
One of my coworkers – Jackass – actually reminds me of one of the assholes I had to grow up with.  He creeps me out to the core so I like to make sure that he is aware that I can be dangerous.  The boss praises him for the little tiny things he does right, while it is far outweighed by what he does wrong.  The rest of us get little to no praise.  This reminds me of other not-so-functional family patterns.  This is never going to change.
Much of my therapy is sorting out what I can and can’t have control over, and deciding what I want to do with that.  After Possum’s visit yesterday I had to look up the meaning of this animal totem, which is about laying low, waiting things out, that things aren’t what they seem, and that sometimes just playing dead rather than responding is the best route to go.  Possum is so good at playing dead that she can emit a carrion stink at will.  And when all else fails, she can tear someone’s face off with her teeth and claws.
So I have decided once again to lay low and make no decisions, especially when it is the holiday season (which is like happy and sad on steroids for me), and when I’m grieving my father – and my mother because I didn’t start to do that for 20 years and still can’t handle more than a single tear’s worth of sadness at a time about it – and remember that I can stink up the joint pretty good if I want to, and that I have the power to claw someone’s face off  should the need arise.  I also had therapy last night so I’m a  little calmer anyway.  And Prozac is good.
So now, the office is currently clean.  And Jackass (staying true to his nature) starts pushing the sweeper around.  This guy will be deaf and blind to all forms of labor – taking trash out, loading someone’s car up for a tradeshow, unloading the odd truck that delivers goods to the office – right up until you’re done, and then suddenly offer “you need any help?”  Fucktardiness is not something I have a high tolerance for.  And although I am lacking claws and fangs, I do have a box-cutter and a mean right hook.  But I’m still working on playing dead and stinking at will.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving.  Or, you can also just play possum and wait for it to be over.

Paparkadors and Bulgogi

        I had dinner with a close friend last night.  She ordered sushi rolls, and I ordered bulgogi.  My dad used to order bulgogi.  It is a Korean dish made of thin slices of beef, marinated in something sort of sweet and salty and delicious.
       Since my dad died nine months ago I have gone back in my memory to the older times – the times when he was about my age, and I was about middle-school age. We struggled with our relationship – a lot.  But now that I am older I realize that I could not have handled being a parent to teenage kids, with a sick and dying spouse.  I would have beaten my children and locked them in their rooms.  And then run away.  I give him some credit for kind of holding it together.
        I’ve been craving paparkadors lately.  They are a cookie my parents used to make when we were little for the huge parties they had around Christmas time, usually after the local parade.  To me, as a really little kid, it felt like the entire town was at our house and nothing could have been more fun than those parties.  Smell and memory are closely linked – they are physically located close in the brain too, and taste and smell are linked.  And I like cookies.  In trying to search for the recipe online, I realized that they are actually called pepparkakor, not paparkadors.  Someone probably wrote the recipe card wrong, because that’s how everybody rolled in the ’70s – handwritten recipe cards.  Either way, they are crunchy and spicy, similar to gingerbread and gingersnap cookies.
        I got teary-eyed driving in to work this morning.  The holidays are hard.  The “first” holidays after someone dies are really hard (and so are the 27th and 28th… but in different ways).  And I don’t want to remember the bad times anymore.  I want to remember my dad coming home from work and mowing the lawn in his penny loafers because he only ever wore penny loafers, and that he often was the one who made dinner, still in his button-down dress shirt and dress slacks.  I want to remember getting to ride on his shoulders and holding on to his whiskery chin, while we all walked down to the pizzeria.   I want to remember my aunts and uncles and cousins coming over for holiday dinners, and my mom doting on the babies.  I want to remember ice skating and tobogganing with my dad and uncles.   I want to remember spooning thin icing from the Corelle bowls onto those spicy cookies in preparation for the parties.  I want to remember my parents.

And then he made fun of my shirt.

It is no secret that I am a grouch in the morning.  Common sense would tell any idiot that I’ve worked with for six years that if you test the waters with me when I first get here, and I’m about as warm and fuzzy as a jagged piece of ice, then maybe you should just give me a minute, or an hour, to let the coffee kick in.
I do not like to be called “sunshine” in the morning.  It is gray and shitty outside and I am so tired of my 50 mile commute I could cry.  Besides that the fucking snow got all packed in my shoes because I have wide feet with birdy ankles, so there is a nice little gap for this parasitic cold shit to tuck in and hang on like soggy cold anklets.  Call me sunshine and I will become sunshine and burn your ass.
“Morning, sunshine,”  he says.
“Morning, princess,” I say.
“You don’t have to get nasty,” he says.
“Why not?” I ask.
You’d think he’d get it.  But instead he comes up to my desk telling me I’m grouchy (Really?  Is it also Thursday, and do I also live in the northern hemisphere?  Because I was confused about that).  And then, he makes fun of my shirt… because it’s red… and Christmas is coming…
“Go back to your desk,”  I tell him.  “Just go.  You’re picking fights with me and then you’ll blame me for fighting with you.  So just go!  Get away from me.  Just GO BACK TO YOUR DESK!”
I need a new job…  perhaps one that does not involve people.

If I pound the keys a little harder, that will make the webpage work, right?

I’m having one of those mornings.
I arrived to work almost an hour late, and guessing by the fact that no one even made eye contact, I’m pretty sure I’m giving off some ‘don’t fuck with me’ vibes.
I’m trying to order the office supplies because I am the office manager.  Oh, wait, no I’m not… I just do parts of the office manager’s job because she is mostly an over-paid incompetent attention whore.  That was too harsh – sorry.  I should have said, she is intellectually and socially challenged to do average adult functions.  That was slightly nicer, right?
Oh Paper Clips, your easy button is currently broken.  It isn’t my web connection because I have Mozart blaring, on account of classical music keeps your blood pressure down, and because no one seems to be able to shut up around here.  That, and, someone has Christmas music playing.
I’m not ready for Christmas music.  However, I am trying to be more festive with the holidays this year because I am a known Grinch (are you surprised?).  For Halloween I even decorated with some seriously scary stuff, and turned on my awesome strand of purple lights, as well as a jack-o-lantern,  every night for two solid weeks.  I also decorated with a fully clothed witch skeleton thing that was looking out he window.  It had hair.  For Christmas I have an illuminated nativity scene that I am planning to use for decoration (not the big bulbous plastic ones in the lawn, because let’s face it – stealing the baby Jesus is fun, so my decoration is more like a lighted picture that hangs in the window, because I’m classy like that).  And I was thinking about getting some wreathes or something too.  But I will be sick of Christmas in about a week.
I’m trying to only stay focused on what I’m bringing for the Thanksgiving meal because I’ve got some tasty treats planned for this year (I’m in charge of the whore d’oervues, and need to contribute at least what I will drink, and probably should make up for the significant dent that I made in the pile of family beer while we were all on a boat in Kentucky last summer).
I’m still trying to get my office supply order to go through… and I think just in case anyone that I share an office with is suddenly inspired to actually speak to me, I might start an impromptu ballet dance to my blaring music.  I switched to bluegrass music, which would make an impromptu ballet dance even better.
At this time I would like to thank all my readers for allowing me to vent my frustrations.  I encourage you to do the same because there is no better outlet for the unavoidable daily shit than this.  Thanks to both of you.

It is impossible to poop while on vacation.

I don’t necessarily believe in psychic ability, but mine has been acting up lately.
A couple weeks ago I was doing laundry, and when I brought a clean basket of clothes upstairs, all of a sudden a very random thought went through my head:
“My favorite flavor is blue.”
I stood in my kitchen laughing alone like an idiot.
Later that day a friend of mine sent a text about going to a movie.  I asked if I should meet her somewhere, or if she planned to pick me up on her unicorn.  She replied that she could pick me up, but only if I like the taste of purple.
Okay, so that is just a strange little thing.
Last Friday I was watching the TV show Grimm.  I think I was maybe partially napping at the same time, but in that episode there was a rabbi who prayed some ancient prayer for an angel to protect his family.  This angel was a huge mud creature who came up out of a mud hole in the ground and killed people who were making the rabbi’s nephew feel threatened.  (Pretty sweet, huh?  I want one.)  I thought it was weird because I remembered my priest saying something about one of the creation stories – the one where God breathes life into Adam, the mud creature.  I know the story but just hadn’t heard it put quite that way – that Adam was a “mud creature.”  I thought what was sticking out in my mind was the way she pronounced it (like rhyming with ‘a bomb’, rather than the usual way we say Adam, like rhyming with, well, nothing really, but you know how to say Adam in the regular way).  Weird, but not super weird.  Here’s where it gets really strange…  I’m reading a book called The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman.  In the story, the son of a Jewish father is explaining how they escaped their mother country to avoid being slaughtered, and golem are mentioned.  I wasn’t familiar with that term.  Golem are creatures made of mud and fire.  I won’t say any more on that in case you want to read the story, and because I can’t remember much else.  But how many times can a mud creature be mentioned over the course of a few weeks without it seeming just straight up strange?
Okay, again, just another strange little thing…
Here is where things get really weird.  I was home Saturday morning cleaning up my mail and stacks of paper that need to be sorted.  In one of the piles I rediscovered the most expensive paper towel I’ve ever seen, on which I had written a story while vacationing  in Florida, compliments of my sister.  My true story was about being in the large 20-stall bathroom near the hotel ballroom, unable to, well, go.  I wrote a story in my head about it (a poop) being like the prisoner from the Shawshank Redemption movie.  Each time another bathroom-goer would flush, I’d rip out a fart trying to free the prisoner, like how he clanked the pipes when the thunder would clap.  Then I sat on the terrlet laughing my head off (don’t worry – no one would have recognized my feet under the door – I shaved them).  Right after leaving the bathroom I quickly wrote the story down on $35 paper towel and made my sister read it, because that is one of the benefits she enjoys simply by being my sibling.  So back to this past Saturday morning, while sorting through papers, I look up at the TV to see this alligator guy, and realized that he was the same guy who was presenting in the ballroom with a live alligator (who escaped momentarily… have you ever seen 80 little kids run in the same direction in a split second?  I have.  It’s both horrifying and hilarious!) when I left to take my unsuccessful Shawshank break!  Serendipitous!
Tasting colors.  Mud people.  Alligator dude and Shawshits.
I have no explanations.
So now since we have all established that I am psychic, but only with totally useless nonsense bullshit, here is your horoscope:
You will see a human face today.  Someone with hair.  Or not.  A person with a name will come into your life soon.  You will need to spend some money in the next month.  Today is your day, so go ahead and do that thing you’ve been thinking about doing for quite some time now.

High as f*ck, and telling me what to do?

Recently a friend and I talked about how hard it is to begin the process to get help for potential mental issues like depression.  She is facing this right now.  I have had to face it myself.  She said she went to her doctor appointment and just cried…
I confessed that I had recently done the same thing with a priest… walked into her office and cried my head off before I even really said anything.  It’s hard.  It just plain is.  Exposing an open wound, unsure if this person is going to help you dress it so it can heal, or throw salt on it, makes it a scary situation.  It’s a risk.  I had all the excuses for my high level of emotion…  I’m grieving my dad’s death… I’m changing anti-depressant medication… maybe I’m starting menopause…  But this priest isn’t dumb.  She’s seen it before and knows people are just plain scared to show anyone their ouchies.
I’ve been working on my mental health issues with both talk-therapy and brain chemistry therapy (aka psychiatric meds) for a number of years, and am fairly open about it, although for a long time I resisted.  Getting started was like an uphill crawl with my hands tied behind my back but I can’t remember exactly why.  Admitting that I didn’t feel quite right, that I cried all the time, that I was always on the verge of running away from my life and that it was a struggle just to stay present seemed threatening, like I was setting myself up for… something.  My brain chemistry was about as settled as a bottle of diet Coke with Mentos in it.  So I called my doctor, who started me on my first-ever antidepressant, and then she continued to call me every couple hours over the next couple weeks – even from her cell phone – –  even from her home phone, to make sure I hadn’t gone over the edge. 
And of course, I had that one unsupportive friend who discouraged me from going the anti-depressant route, but instead thought that I should just ‘walk it off,’ as if that was even an option.  I wouldn’t have screamed in my dad’s face on Christmas day and then gone home and refused to go to any other family holiday gatherings, if walking it off was an option. So I kept taking the pills and I stayed home, avoiding almost everybody, watching movies, staying on the couch while my tiny cat tried to groom my long hair and my forehead, along with her paws and her ears, and I waited…
Waiting is hard.   A recent sermon included some ideas about that… waiting.  Waiting in darkness feels scary, but it shouldn’t be, because the darkness is the same as the daylight to God (I take this figuratively).  This helps me during those anxiety-ridden times that no amount of psychiatric drugs can overcome – short of total sedation, those times when I’m pretty sure I’ve fucked up beyond repair, beyond forgiveness, beyond human empathy, and there is nothing left to do but wait.  But God is there with me, while I’m waiting.
The discouragement from society to get mental health help is painful.  It bullies that tiny voice in your head that tells you to GO, go to the doctor, the shrink, the priest, and ask for help, that you are help-able, that someone is willing to help you, that someone maybe even wants to help you, and that things don’t have to be this way.  Life doesn’t have to feel like swimming across a deep cold lake with a sweatshirt and jeans on.  We all have to swim across the lake because that is life, and it still might be cold and deep and wide, but with the help of therapy, medicine, prayer, we then have a canoe and a paddle, and dry clothes to wear. 
The friend I had – the one who “disagreed” with taking anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs – expressed her disapproval regularly and clearly, while I was barely able to hang on with my fingernails to what felt like the edge of a slimy cliff.  I don’t know why she had such an issue with it.  Maybe she liked me better when I was sort of crazy and explosive, stuck standing in a pile of shit unsure how to get out.  But once those new meds finally started to soak into my blood, my perspective started to change.
“Maybe that’s why you smoke so much pot,” I said, sitting at her kitchen table while she cooked lunch.  “Maybe you’re trying to stave off anxiety and feeling bad too.  Maybe we’re both the same, but I just can’t be high all time because I want to feel like I have a clear mind.”
She didn’t exactly appreciate what I had said.  She muttered a few more disapprovals about using pharmaceutical drugs rather than doing things in a more “natural” way.  Slowly our friendship began to erode, and when my mind got more and more clear, I realized that she was high as fuck, most of the time, telling me what to do with my own mental health.
And so, I say, march on.  Seek and ask and seek and ask, and keep busting through those tears, because when we die and it is all tallied up, there is no reward for walking it off.

Inappropriate fruit.

It’s been  shitty week here in Lake Woe-Is-Me, the mold is killing me, I had a surprise root canal, and everything on my head besides my ears are watering or snotting on things.  I’m gross and in a bad mood.  So I won’t say much.
Instead I will share a photo taken at a recent family gathering at an apple orchard.  I have a knack for growing and stumbling upon vegetation that is shaped like “parts.”  A friend sent me on a mission to find her something interesting at the apple orchard.  I rose to the challenge.
001
And that’s the news from Lake Woe-Is-Me.

I am a giraffe.

          Someone recently said to me, “You are a gift.”  I hung on those words for a couple days, because they touched a spot in my ego that was so bruised it was afraid to even come out of hiding.
          And then my mind started to change the words.
          I am a gift.
          I am a giraffe.
          I have to doubt everything nice that is said to me.  I have to second guess any nature of love anyone shows me, because I am afraid it will be taken, withheld, revoked, with not even a moment’s notice, with no explanation, and no opportunity to get it back.  Yet I will try, as though I did something to lose it.  I will blame myself, I will work to fix whatever I’ve done – because I’m sure I did something.  Nothing else makes sense, right?  Nothing else can explain why someone stopped loving me, stopped liking me, stopped caring about me.  I MUST have done something – SOMETHING.  And then that means that I must figure out what to do to make them love me again – it is my responsibility, because it was my fault.
          But none of that is true.  I don’t stop loving someone so quickly.  Normal, even semi-healthy people don’t stop caring about someone so quickly.  Normal people don’t just turn on a dime and leave you to flounder.  Unhealthy, sick people do that.
          So rather than think that the abrupt withdrawal of love is a result of something I did, something I need to fix, something I even CAN fix, the truth is this:  They are sick.  They are mentally fucked, and they are seriously damaged.  It isn’t me.  It’s them.
          Dear Insecurity, you are the ugliest bitch I’ve ever known.  Fuck you and the horse you rode in on.  This giraffe is done.

Today is my dad’s birthday.

          My dad died last February.  I was never very good at figuring out how to celebrate his birthday when he was alive, so I probably won’t do much better now that he is gone.
          Today is also election day.  I voted.  I suppose that is a good way to celebrate Dad’s birthday, considering that he drilled it into my head that “it is your civic duty to vote.”  I voted for one dirty politician on one side of the isle, and two dirty politicians on the other side of the isle.  Mixed ticket… that’s how I roll.
          Eight years ago I went to Mexico with a group of people, headed up by two friends who have spent lots and lots of time there – specifically in San Miguel de Allende.  We were there during the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) celebrations.  It was my first exposure to these festivities, and along with all the bright flowers, decorated graves, parties, murals in the street, and group celebrations, I grew to appreciate this giant gap that Day of the Dead fills that we lack in our Midwestern lifestyle:  a way to celebrate our dead people that is neither lonely nor depressing.  Everyone is doing it – all at the same time!
          One of the several soirées that we attended that were far fancier than I was accustomed to –  a backyard party complete with servers, white table cloths, live music, and catered food –  a woman created a table full of the items commonly used on the Day of the Dead altars: photos of loved ones, treats or objects that they liked, water and sugar because dead people are thirsty and like candy, and a bunch of other stuff I can’t remember because I was drunk.
         After several beers, chatting with a fellow traveler / church mate / writing friend, we decided we should do this at home, at our church.  We’ve all had people die… his first wife, my mother, other friends, family, pets…  Why not do something to celebrate them in a communal and not-so-horribly-sad way?  And so, we did.  The festivities began at our home church the following year, and as far as I know, still continue on a yearly basis.
          So I was thinking this morning, what would I have put on the altar to honor my dad?  Probably a picture of him with my mother, some Winston’s and some scotch, Cheeze Whiz, and maybe some corn that was recently in my cousin’s butt crack.  Dad was good at telling funny stories, and if he was alive he probably would have gone to the cider mill with me, my sister and her kids, my aunt and her son and his wife.  The kids (and my cousin who is in his 50s but still is one of the kids…) were feeding dry corn to the turkeys, and then throwing it at each other.  It eventually made it down the back of my cousin’s jeans, so he said that it is now “crack corn.”  As per usual I started calling it the wrong name (butt corn), but I can picture my dad half-embarrassed but also laughing while trying to keep his lips shut and his teeth hidden.  I think that’s how I would honor my dad today.

Why does your ringtone sound like a fart?

I get it.  We all have to feel like we ‘keep up’ in some way or another.  But a cell phone isn’t how I do it.  My preferred ringtone is “silent.”  It isn’t that I don’t like talking to people, it’s just that, well, I just don’t like people that much.  Except for all of you, of course.
I still have a Tracfone.  It is 6 years old.  It is a flip phone.  Parts of it are taped back on.  It doesn’t take pictures.  It can hardly open pictures.  The metallic paint is worn off showing bald plastic underneath. And I simply don’t care.  I have had three cell phones given to me by charitable friends who are desperately trying to get me to come up to speed.  But I’m not even on the right road.  I’m on a paddle boat, in the creek.
My day job is on the phone.  Answer phone.  Talk nice.  Help help.  Talk nice some more.  Hang up.  Start over.  I’m not sure how I got a job like that because I’m really not all that nice of a person.  Maybe I’m just good at acting and that is what I’m really doing all day.  Acting nice.
It has become acceptable for everyone in an office to have their cell phones with them and turned on and turned way to fucking loud all damn day long.  Ping, and ting, and bumpty bump bump, and the list goes on.  I really just want all the phones to shut up.  Just shut up.  But we are all now far too important to be unavailable even for a minute.  I can honestly say I give someone their cell phones back after they have left them in the bathroom at least once every month or two, right before I soak my hands in Purell just like Madge used to tell us to do with Palmolive.  Because if you were doing your business with your phone right there then… you’re gross and so is your phone.
There is a new ringtone on someone’s phone though – one I can live with because it is just dumb.  It sounds like the kind of fart that someone is trying to not let out but it is going to come out anyway so it ends up sounding more like what my sister once described as “a tiny elephant trumpeting.”  Yup, that’s about right.

Things I Would Like to Invent for Work Place Use

Toilet Seat Pee Detector: Pee detected on the toilet seat automatically locks the offender in the bathroom until the entire toilet has been scrubbed down with bleach.
Hand Wash Detector:  Hands must be put under a scanner or the door locks until the offender remedies the situation.
Volume Control: For chronic offenders, a space suit type bubble helmet must be worn at all times, and the volume control can only be adjusted using a special key, which that person may not touch.
Mini Heel Vacuum Cleaners: Attaches to the heels of shoes upon entering the building, for people who constantly drag the outdoors around with them.
Foot Surround Vacuum Cleaners:  Encircles the entire foot on each leg for repeat offenders who drop shit on the floor, see it, and then walk away.  Platinum version includes Spontaneous Lock Feature, which makes the two cleaners suddenly bond together while the offender is walking, causing him or her to fall on one’s face.
Dirty Dish DNA Detector: Cabinets automatically lock when the offender attempts to get new dishes or silverware while leaving yesterdays lunch utensils in the sink, stinking.

Telephone Lightening Bolt:  After 4 rings when a call is transferred to an individual’s desk, and that person refuses to take calls from angry customers, which then go back up to the switch board operator for him or her to take the angry customer’s abuse, he or she has a special button that zaps and burns the jerk who wouldn’t take the call.
Paper Tray Tack Switch: When one empties the paper tray in the printer/copier, etc., and rather than getting a new ream of paper and filling it up he or she merely grabs 2 sheets to complete the print job and leaves the task to the next person to fill the paper tray, the next person gets to use the switch which forces a tack to come up through the offender’s chair and stay there until he or she apologizes to the person who has to always refill the paper trays.Toilet Paper Diaper:  When the toilet paper is used up and the user fails to put on a new roll, he or she is then forced to wear a NASA diaper for the next 3 days.

Cluttered Walkway Compactor:  For those who like to spread out and be as dramatic as possible with his or her work, taking up walkway space and creating trip hazards for others, upon reaching 60 minutes of crap sitting in the way, a robot vacuum comes by and sucks up the trip hazard items, pulverizes, crushes, and shapes it to a the size of a baseball, then shoots it canon-style at the offender.
Bad Breathalyzer:  I don’t care if you’re drunk, but damn it!  If you can’t brush your teeth before you come in, the office door will NOT unlock

Some people seem to have their own weather.

You know that feeling you get right before a lightening storm – that extra free-floating electricity that just seems to be in the air?  That’s kind of how it is working here at my job with Crunty.  I believe, as does another one of my coworkers, that Crunty is an untreated psychopath.  I’m not picking on her for that…  I just wish she’d get help.  I’d even give her my shrink’s name and number if she’d be willing to go.  But she won’t.  She is so completely out of touch with her own actions that she is pretty sure the world turns evil every few weeks.  Heavens no – it can’t be her.  I’m the one who takes psychiatric medicine, not her.  It’s like taking a shower in the morning… if you don’t do it, you must not be stinky, right?
She’s so very put together with her matching outfits and multiple crucifix necklaces (and so are the other 8 people who live in her body).
Yet another coworker has a theory that Crunty has to be mad at 3 people at any given time.  We’ve tested his theory and we often find it is true.  It can be one of her kids, one of her friends, and one of her coworkers, or three coworkers and no one else, or two coworkers and one of the other 8 people living in her body.  We could create a diagram of her 3-person anger with probably 85% accuracy.
Right now I’m one of the three.  I could feel it coming on yesterday, and I think my boss might be another one, and probably Jackass, who is actually being slightly less jackassey than usual at the moment.  This used to drive me crazy.  But now I take my medicine.

No, really, I don’t feel sorry for you.

You may not know this about me but I work with two assholes.  There’s a male and a female.  The male’s name is Jackass.  The female’s name is Crunty Bitch.  They both just left work – an hour and a half early.  Normal for her.  Late for him.
I have a 50 mile commute.  Door to door, 50 miles.  Sucks, but could be worse.  Crunty Bitch lives about 6 miles from work and Jackass lives about 10.  So you can see why they need to leave early.
Crunty get into these little habits which are so bizarre I can hardly believe they are real despite the fact that they are happening right in front of me.  Often it is an accent that she’ll try to pretend she has for a number of weeks: Southern, British, East Coast – they are all painfully fake.  Other times it is just a phrase that gets repeated.  One of them was “I am a married woman!”  And this would be stated throughout the day, often in response to nothing.
Lately she has been saying (while walking out the door at 3:30) “I’m going to go play in traffic.”  Traffic?  Is she fucking kidding me?  She doesn’t even have to get on the highway!  She literally has to turn right, and then turn right again, and then turn right again past he cows.  Oh, be careful about those bumper to bumper wild turkeys in the road!  They can be hell this time of day!
I get to work at about 8:45.  My drive is long.  My day is long.  I get home at 6pm earliest.  I’m not a morning person.  I’m mean as hell in the morning.  It is the best I can do… day after day…  Crunty is probably pulling out of her garage at the same time as I do, and she’s probably finishing up dinner and getting ready to watch The Wheel right about when I’m closing up the office and getting on the highway with everyone else who also had to work all day long.
So, no, Crunty, really, I don’t feel sorry for you.

I can’t drive and listen to Fleetwood Mac at the same time.

       I think I have liked old – pre 80’s – Fleetwood Mac since before I was born.  Maybe there was some cellular material that had traces of their music in its memory that made up my fetus body.
       Wednesday after work, I drove down the road that runs between two lakes to get out to the highway.  I had Fleetwood Mac playing on the car stereo and the sun was shining on the leaves of a tree that were just shy of neon orange.  I left my present life for a moment and my mind went back to the Fall days in high school when I would cut class and drive to the family cottage about an hour west, with a Fleetwood Mac cassette tape playing.  The sun and trees were bright and it was quiet on the lake.  All the boaters and otherwise noisy people had packed up for winter and the water surface looked like shimmery rippled glass.  Sitting at the end of the dock and just… just sitting, I would lets its beauty soak in.
       That Wednesday night – in my present life –  I went back to the new church that I’m testing out for another adult forum.  The pastor was teaching us different ways to get centered before prayer.  At the very end of the evening she had us do a meditation kind of exercise – the kind that gets you to forget all the little picky shit that life relentlessly pesters us with, and had us take our minds someplace else – a mountain top, a trail in the woods, the beach.  I went right back to the dock on the edge of the lake at the family cottage.
       For a moment I couldn’t mix my attempt to center myself in order to be close to God with my feral teenager school-skipping days.  But then I realized, it was all really the same thing.

“I’m sorry you feel that way.”

Last week, the Jackass coworker came to talk to me about an email our boss had sent, which was a note telling Jackass to let me handle a particular client’s account.
The backstory:  Customer calls in looking for a quote that Jackass owes him.  Jackass isn’t here, and Customer doesn’t want to call his cell phone – again.  Customer asks to work with someone else.  Turns out it is a simple request that I can take care of, so I offer to do so.  Customer tells me to tell Jackass to “step down” because he has someone else (me) to handle things.
I emailed my boss to tell him why I was taking over this particular job so it wouldn’t turn into an issue.  My boss replied via email, “Jackass, let JojoBeans handle this.”
Last week I was so busy with work that I forgot to pee.  Or blink.  Or breathe.  I might have been looking at someone, and appeared to be listening, but my mind still had yet to come around the corner.
Jackass came to my office to voice his concerns about the email from our boss.  My mind was still thinking ‘send quote to ABC by noon… enter order 789 before 5pm…’  So when I finally tuned into this grown man standing there whimpering, he said that he had a problem with my implication that he has made an “issue” about me handling his clients in the past.
“You have, ” I said.  “Multiple times.”
“Well…” he shuffled and huffed around a little, “I’ve asked questions, but to say I’ve made an issue of it…”
“You have!  And then I have to explain my actions to the boss, so I thought I would do it up front because in a few weeks or months I won’t remember why I quoted your customer.”
“I’m sorry you feel that way,” he said.
Now who came up with that phrase “I’m sorry you feel that way?”  You’re sorry for my feelings?  I’m not sorry for your feelings.  And besides, these are facts, not feelings.  My feelings include a strong desire to punch you, which you are probably not sorry for.  Quoting your customers, and explaining to my boss why I quoted your customers, are facts.
He’s sorry I feel that way.
I’m sorry he’s dumb.

Being nice is so terribly hard.

This past Wednesday I tried a new church… I’m church shopping.
It was an adult forum (which I consistently call “adult ed” by mistake).  The pastor talked about how everything we do should be to the glory of God, even at work.
How do I make dealing with the most annoying coworker in the world be to the glory of God?  How can I possibly be held accountable for everything I do and say and scream and growl at him?  Clearly God hasn’t met this guy I work with… He never shuts up, he walks around with no shoes on and makes this shuffling noise with his pant cuffs dragging around behind him, he never looks for anything on his own but instead just constantly interrupts and bugs the royal crap out of everyone else, he whistles and sings all day, he leaves early, he drops stuff on the floor and pretends he doesn’t see it, he pees on the toilet seat…
I’m not a terribly nice person by nature.  Unless I like you.  Being nice is hard.  Being nice to jackass coworkers is really REALLY hard.  I mean, how can I be expected to be nice to an arrogant selfish jerk day after day, month after month, year after year?
At the church group we talked about the different types of prayer: petition, intercession, confession, and I have already forgotten the rest.  Not punching people should be one of the types for me.  The thing that struck me the most that I can’t forget about is, when the pastor asked us who we pray to, we all knew the answer.  When she asked who we pray for, we mumbled a little… but the real answer is the same:  God.  We pray to God, for God.  What?  WHAT?  God is in all of us (unfortunately, for meanies like me).  So when I treat my crappy coworker like crap, I’m treating God like crap.  And yet, I still have difficulty doing more than growling at him when he talks to me.  I don’t have the answers.  Fortunately (for meanies like me) God is forgiving. He knows what I’m made of (it isn’t sugar and spice), and He knows I try.
halfmindedsunflower | June 20, 2016 at 4:21 pm | Categories: Uncategorized | URL: http://wp.me/p6CT2D-3J