Menopause is Real I Think

See??  It’s not even a week later and I FEEL SO MUCH BETTER.  A combination of things must have happened:

Hormones less crazy.

I stopped giving so much of a fuck.  Or I gave different fucks.  Not sure.

The sun came out.

Either way, I’m singing songs and laughing and sleeping.  I realize that some of what I am doing at work is pretty futile and no one, I mean NO ONE is holding me up to the set of standards that I myself insist on trying to maintain, so maybe I should just NOT DO THAT.  I also went to see a doctor.  And while this expensive-ass HMO insurance doc seems like 1/2 a step in either direction of a Primacare, I actually did something about how I was feeling.  So…goal?  I mean, we’ll see.

Point being, I was right.  I so rarely am.  It’s refreshing to know that me telling myself “HEY LITTLE CHICKEN YOU WON’T ALWAYS FEEL LIKE THIS, like crawling into a cave and never coming out, like only grunting when other people try to talk to you, like eating All The Food Available…it won’t be forever, Dearest”  – THAT talkback was fucking RIGHT.

So we can chalk this one up to mood swings or whatever, but I think there’s more than one important lesson to learn here:  A, if I can keep telling myself that I’m gonna make it to the other side of whateverthefuck is going on, that is valuable, and 2, this will happen again, and finally, IT’S REALLY OKAY.  It really, truly is.  Whatever that happens to be in each moment.

Breakthrough?  Eh.  It’s hard to see that you’ll ever come out when you are down in it, but I will choose to trust myself next time when I tell myself I will.

 

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The Next Right Thing

I have a bunch of drafts started and some of them are funny, and some of them would be poignant AND funny, a double-whammy of Writing Which Other People Might Care to Read.  But none of the drafts sum up how I feel today.

Those in AA say that around the annual date of your sobriety, you get…emotional.  I don’t know if that’s what this is.  And before this goes completely off the rails, look.  Listen.  I know I am putting this out there for other people to read, and I want to feel like if it helps one person out there, then that is what my intention is and I can pat myself on the proverbial back as a Writer Capital W and we can all sleep soundly tonight.

Except that’s not what this is.  The voices inside my head scream that this is self-introspection and belongs nowhere, for no one but me to read later, how selfish am I, why do I think anyone would want to read about my days or times or trials or whatever?  Honestly, do I really think this is something other than navel-gazing self-aggrandizing by way of self-deprecation?  The answer is two-fold:  I don’t really WANT it to be that, and hey, Feelings, you don’t own me.  Shut the Fuck Up.

So I guess that’s what this is really about.  How the voices in my head lie and how my feelings don’t have to enslave me.  It’s just right now.  And let me tell you, right now has been pretty shitty for a while.  This is life.  Things will go wrong.  Things will suck.  Sometimes there are months of suck in a row, and maybe a bright day in between to break it up, hell, even just a bright hour.  Or you rode your bike by the ocean and it smelled like for real ocean.  Or you made bread and it turned out pretty fucking good.  Your husband hugged you and told you that you were great at something.  You held a child on your lap and played a game with them that the child will never remember and probably won’t even remember YOU, but it was kind of nice for 10 minutes.  I don’t know.  These moments exist.  And while you are right now in the throes of wanting to shove your face in a bagful of raspberry Zingers and after that chips and salsa and after that WHATEVER ELSE IS WITHIN GRABBING DISTANCE, you know it’s not the answer.  Food comes to mind a lot faster than a drink these days, and I suppose that is a bit of a saving grace, but those 20 pounds you have put on in the last 6 months on top of the already 40 pounds you needed to lose are…telling.  One addiction for another.  One escape for another.  Life’s fucking hard, sometimes nothing feels good, sometimes you want to crawl in bed and stay there for as long as someone will let you.

But the thing is, you don’t.  You slip back into Martyr Mode and fulfill all the duties that you think are yours.  You work listlessly but long hours.  All the bills get paid, the clothes get washed, the groceries get bought, the cats get fed, and still you find yourself at a stoplight ready to burst into tears.  You cannot hold it together.  You force yourself to hold it together.  You are not questioning the validity or worthiness of your life – you are not looking for someone to tell you how to fix whatever “it” is.  You just have all these emotions, and they are strong, and THEY. DON’T. FUCKING. OWN. YOU.

But sometimes it sure does feel like they have all the goddamn power.

5 years tomorrow, I stopped drinking.  I am grateful for it.  I would never be asking these questions or having these feelings if I had not stopped.  And while it has been a brutal journey facing myself, it is a journey.  Alcohol did not allow for the journey at all, alcohol allowed for the mask and that’s it.  Never in my head was the thought of “Feelings don’t own me.”  I didn’t feel at all.  So, big surprise that five years on, I’m still trying to put myself back in a fucking box.  Except that’s not where I belong.  I belong out here, feeling all this shit no matter how hard or painful or exhausting.  And it is all those things, but it is also hearing my husband laugh, or having that child hold my hand for a minute, or smelling the ocean.  What is worse.  What is better.  It is all just life.

And I am doing the best I fucking can and it is far from perfect and there is nothing wrong with me.

One day, I’ll really believe that.

 

The Post in Which I Review A Dance Performance? Ok.

Let’s start this out by saying I am not a columnist anywhere, I am not an expert of ANY world – let alone the world of dance, and my review isn’t going into any fancymag or you know, going to be read by a whole lot of people.  I do my writing thang for me, in hopes that someone somewhere (besides me) gets something out of it, gets a laugh, feels uplifted, whatever.  I’m just sayin.  Also, I’m no dancer.

But I fucking used to be.  I was a dance minor for a hot minute in college, actually.  I don’t talk about it a lot because it was short-lived and I gave it up pretty quickly.  Ever since I was a small child, dance has been a way for me to express everything from joy to sorrow.  I may be older now, but I’ve never NOT loved dancing, or watching those that do it a million times better than I ever could.

Enter Keone and Mari Madrid.  I don’t watch network TV all that much, had no idea they have been quite the dance sensation.  We’ve lived in San Diego since July and are finally getting settled, and I heard about this performance called Beyond Babel that was calling San Diego its home through November on the local NPR arts segment.  I looked it up and watched the posted videos about how they basically turned a warehouse-type small building into a theatre, how they came up for the concept for this show, and I didn’t care how much the tickets were anymore.  I was instantly captivated by the creators.  This show.  Holy shit.  If you live anywhere in Southern California or are coming to visit anytime soon, you need to see it.  If it goes on tour, which I hope it does, buy tickets as soon as you hear about it.  But I mean, let’s talk about why.  Because me just saying it’s great is all nice and everything, but if I felt so strongly to write about it the minute I got home, there are clearly things you gotta know.  IMMEDIATELY.

 

I appreciate a lot of different forms of dance, and hip-hop is among the most demanding  – grueling level changes, impeccable isolations, high energy – I can say, even when I was young, this shit kicked my ass and it wasn’t even super prevalent yet at that time as a form you could learn in a class.  What Keone and Mari have done in Beyond Babel is create a story through their choreography that is both timely and timeless – the story of a wall, the soldiers of that wall, of love torn asunder and separated, of death and life, and of the divisions of the world we live in today.  Set to contemporary music, every piece is crafted in such a way that you feel this story, not just see it and hear it.  The rest of the ensemble, in muted shades of street clothes for most of the numbers, shine – no matter that they are wearing grey.  The use of six pieces of tall, rolling chain-link fences, various crocheted designs adorning most, is so inventive and adds a dimension to the story and the dancing that is hard and cold when necessary – bright and joyous at other times, with all of the crochet work on display.  The rolling fences, some wooden crates for levels, and crochet yarn – very few props are needed to depict what the performance intends to get across to the audience.

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While Keone and Mari created the show along with production company Hideaway Circus, the other dancers in the show are undeniable in their force, their love of what they are doing, and their sheer power demonstrated through every move.  The subtle nuances in their upper body movements especially are just fucking amazing.  If you are a fan of syncopation and dance being choreographed to more than just the obvious rhythm of a song, you will be amazed.  The slower pieces are simply beautiful, with sustained movements and long, slow, controlled expressions.  The amount of effort it takes to perform the slow pieces, as any dancer will tell you, is just as intense as a fast and energetic piece.

So I could talk for forever about what I can remember of each piece,  but I think what’s more important – and what I think the creators intend – is for me to talk about how it makes me feel.  From the opening sequence, I felt hope, pride, beauty at these performers who are 100% emoting all that is happening right now in the world and giving those emotions back to the audience.  The producers were sitting behind me and to the left, and I’m pretty sure they thought I might have been nuts – but checking their Instagram feed, I am not the only person that evidently cries during this show.  There are movements that are so dynamic, so expressive, so fundamentally a depiction of everything many of us are feeling during the times in which we live that one can not do much else but cry.  I have seen a lot of live performances in my life.  I have been part of a performance a time or two.  I can honestly say that this was like nothing I’ve ever seen and it has made a lasting impression.  I want to see it again.  And again.  And again.  Thank you to these amazing dancers that have created something so powerful that people can’t help but talk, write, and think about it for what I think will be years to come.  Thank you for taking a snapshot of where we are in history and making it personal –  more than that.  Making it pivotal.

Bravo.

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Ooo La La, Look Who’s Fancy Now!

Thanks to the artsy lady over at Crescent Over the Crossroad and the presider over the Hex Rated site who can make shit look way better than I can.  I AM NOT BELITTLING MYSELF – I know my strengths.  Making things look cool is not my bag, but it is hers for sure.  Anyway, this is nicer to look at, the font has serifs (FUCK YES), and no one has to read that tiny, tiny print anymore.  AND SNAKES!!!

Anyway, stay tuned for more.  I plan on…continuing.

Decidedly Not Dead

I have started this post about 20 times in my mind.  The original effort keeps coming off as snarky, shitty even – and worse yet, I managed to once again get real comfy with doing what I do best:  Belittle myself and all the trappings that come with that.  Make light of my accomplishments.  Poo-poo my struggles.  Minimize my insecurities and my vulnerability.

To which I say, Fuck that.

And I can probably only write this from a place of honesty right now because a little podcast that is now absolutely ginormous and epic has saved my life and thousands of other lives.  This post may or may not turn out to be about that.

Shit’s hard, y’all.

My husband and I packed up and moved across the country. That was not easy. Being new, in a new job, in a new city, in a new state, Is not easy.  If anything, being new is definitely one thing:  It is vulnerable. I have had to get over saying “I don’t know how this works here”, I have had to get over being in the wrong lane 1000 times, And I have definitely had to get over not having enough room for all my shit.  If anything, I need less shit.  I want to go explore my new city, but I am so fucking tired.  It is literally all I can do to drag myself off the couch to eat something.  Which is another thing. As tired as I am, I still have had plenty of energy to gain 10 pounds.  No, we have not eaten healthy anything since we’ve been here, but time is of the essence and sleep is a hot commodity.  Cooking anything, healthy or not, has not been a priority.

None of my friends are here.

But I knew all this before we started.  I knew what I was up against.  I guess I just thought I wasn’t too old to do this, or if I was, I wouldn’t feel it.  Trust me, I feel every bit my age lately.  And It’s not like I regret the decision to move.  I don’t.  I know it was the right move to make.  I’m really glad that we did it.  I know that it will get easier in time.  That being somewhere 100% new doesn’t get comfortable overnight.  I know that I will have time to explore and do all the kinds of things that I used to, and not be so tired all the time.  But right now, I can’t see the light at the end of this particular tunnel.  Yesterday I woke up at 4:45 AM (my new wake-up time, SUPER NOT AWESOME) with a giant sleep wrinkle in my face, and it did not go away until 1 PM.  Everybody said DRINK MORE WATER!  Newsflash, I’ve been drinking lots of water.  The problem is I am almost 50 years old.  My skin just doesn’t do what it used to do.  It’s OK, I’ll get used to that too.

I’ve cried a lot.  Sometimes it’s a release.  Sometimes it’s because I’m sad.  Sometimes it’s because I’m frustrated.  I know I need to find someone to talk to – I was used to going to therapy every other week and add Find a Therapist to the list of Shit I Need to Do.  So many things are not the same.  All the old things were so…familiar.  Comfortable.  Easy.

And despite all of this, I am happy.  I do love it here.  It’s going to be great.  I’m just impatient, and I want it to be great right the fuck now. I know it’s going to take more time then I’m giving it.  So when I feel this way, I just have to slow down and think about all the great things. It’s beautiful here.  The ocean is right the fuck there.  I see it everyday when I’m driving to work.  I can walk outside at lunch and barely break a sweat.  There are a million things to do.  The food is fantastic.  I have not had a bad taco since I got here, and I have had many tacos in a month.  But I am tired.  And my perfectionism Is really trying to take over.  I won’t let it.  Things are not perfect.  They are not going to be perfect.  My need to show you something different – in writing, in what I say, or on social media – the need is strong, but keeping it real seems more important.  I’ll show you a tree.  I’ll show you the beach.  Occasionally you’ll see Tired Old Me.  And that is who I really am right now.

And oh, how’s this?  WE MOVED ACROSS THE FUCKING COUNTRY.  We sold half our shit, sold 2 vehicles, packed up the rest of our shit, packed up 2 cats, drove across the motherfucking desert, lived without most of our belongings for 12 days, started new jobs, got drivers’ licenses, insurance, an apartment, HOLY SHIT WE DID ALL THAT!!!  I have to remember, this was a Big.  Fucking.  Deal.  Don’t play it off like “oh yeah well people do it all the time blah-dee-blah you’re not special.”  True, I am not special, and also true, people do it all the time.  AND YET STILL.  It’s a huge accomplishment that we did it.  Or even thought of doing it.  CELEBRATE, and FUCKING HOORAY.

I think sometimes my penchant for needless worry makes it hard for me to want to do anything outside of stay home and try to make the apartment look neat and clean, or do other things that really aren’t adding anything to my personal enjoyment.  So, circling back to that little podcast that grew into a monolith:  Every Murderino knows exactly what I’m talking about.  Karen and Georgia have made it possible for me to just do the damn thing, and not think about it.   WHO CARES IF IT’S NOT PERFECT.  IT IS PERFECT BECAUSE IT’S NOT PERFECT.  I was trying to live by this philosophy already, but then they came along and made it OK for everybody to do it. I’m just so grateful that they talk to their listeners about mental health the way they do, And make it OK for us to feel whatever we’re feeling, whenever were feeling it.  No one can dictate that.  I wanna tell you that this life that I have moved to is Instant Awesome. It is less than that at this time.  And it might not be awesome for a while.  Right now, I’m just trying to roll with the punches, get some sleep, drink some water, not go crazy.

And make it home.

 

 

 

 

 

May the 4th Be With the MFing Resistance

I am not sure how much more we can all take, those of us that want and expect decency to prevail in this Upside-Down we are in right now.  It’s all so gradual, right?  I mean, everything that’s happening may not have really touched you or a person you love yet.  You have health insurance from your employer.  You are in good health.  You are not an immigrant.  You are not a Muslim.  Or brown, for that matter.  Or a woman.

But there’s going to be a time when a category rolls around that hits you.  Because they are gunning for everyone that is not rich and white and male.

The Republicans of the House of Representatives, save 20, voted to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act today.  They have passed the American Health Care Act, which will leave millions of people without access to medical insurance coverage.  It also guts Medicaid.  While this bill would still have to go to the Senate, to committee, back to the House, blah blah blah before it passes, the point is:  Republicans cracked open a few cold ones to celebrate making dying for millions of people a more affordable option than paying for health care.

So I hope that goes down realllly smooth for ya, fuckers.  Come on back home to your constituents.  We are waiting for you.  If you want a class war, you might just get it.  The poor, the elderly, the women, the immigrants, we are all waiting for you.  Come back and face us at town halls.  Come back and hear more of the complaints that you’ve been hearing for months, except now they will be louder.  More vehement.  More desperate.  If you didn’t like it when women cried at your town halls or children questioned you, prepare yourselves.

I mean, what difference does it make?  You’re winning, right?  That’s what matters.

For everyone who is empathetic out there – for those of us who know in a short time, we too will feel the long poking stick of GOP “justice” and “freedom” – man your battle stations.  The sound in the distance is sirens.  If you have just been thinking all of this is a bad dream, now is the time to wake the fuck up.  There are elections for mayors and city council places happening right now.  Get educated about the candidates.  Vote.  Write letters.  Use Resistbot.  Run for office.  Do anything except think this is all going to go away.   Do anything except wait for someone else to save this particular princess, that statuesque lady in the Harbor that other countries used to look toward in order to find safety.

It happens gradually.  The Death Star wasn’t built in a day.

 

So What Will You Do?

As I stood in my bedroom folding towels while listening to thunder in the distance and rain actively – well, raining – I had a deep thought:  There will be a time in the future where my consciousness may or may not exist, or know what it feels like to fold towels while it’s raining outside, or what listening to thunder feels like.  Yeah, it’s that kind of Sunday.

I just finished Shit Townwhich got me to this exact plane of thought, I think.  If you have not listened to it, go.  Just stop reading this.  See you in about 7 hours.  It is an amazing look at one man’s life, a man who possibly understood both the finite and terrifyingly infinite concept of time better than many.  A man whose mind was, to say the least, tortured and complex.

It made me think about where I am now, in this very moment in time, in my life.  I have read hundreds of amazing books.  I hope to read hundreds more.  I have laughed so hard with friends that tears spilled from my eyes and my breath was hard to catch.  I have spent countless hours balled up in a small, dark place in my heart, paralyzed by failure, crushed by unrequited everything, unable and many times unwilling to dig into the marrow of what might be the cause.  I have witnessed selfless acts of encompassing kindness;  I have put myself square in the majesty of Redwoods; I have lived sometimes too cautiously and done enough reckless things to at least have some stories.

As I listen to the purr of the cat on my lap while the rain softens, thunder hums and a bird cries out nearby, I know I am changed.  I am changed by this moment, and every moment.  I am beyond grateful that I get to experience these changes.  I am in awe of sometimes every leaf I see, every duck I watch land on water, every time my cat snuggles up to me and lets me rub his belly, and the feeling I get when I hear my husband’s voice.

I don’t always show my gratitude for these moments, but I’d like to think that overall, my life, this journey that can be so frustrating and yet so inspiring all at the same time – that my life is full exactly as it is.  I would not alter one minute of this life.

I will do my best to be aware of the minutes remaining, and to always, always realize that the “big picture” is right in front of me.  All I have to do is be still and open my eyes.