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 needless 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.

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

“I Don’t Get Along with Women”

Yeah.  I used to say this.  I used to say it a lot.  I used to wear this phrase like a badge of fucking honor.  But it never was really all that true.

What the phrase should really be is “I am scared of myself.  I am scared of my own power.  I do not want to look in a mirror and see all the things I am too frightened to be or not be.”

Today is International Women’s Day, and I can say this:  I was wrong for a really long time.  It was never about not liking women.  It was about being uncomfortable in my own skin.  Then I joined roller derby, and I didn’t have a choice but to look in that shitty mirror every fucking day.  Roller derby served as a really great halfway mark between feeling extremely uncomfortable around women and conversely, feeling great around them.  But yes, it was only a halfway mark.  Just being part of a large group of women who loved the same sport did not bestow upon me the kind of affection and care I feel for the women in my life today.

Because looking in that mirror is hard, y’all.  I saw in every one of you what I hated about myself, and what I wanted for myself but was too scared/unmotivated/unwilling to go get.

So what changed?  Me.

My perspective shifted to one of gratitude and realization for all that this mirror has done for me.  To look through the mirror and to really dig down deep and find yourself in the faces and hearts of your sisters – that’s what has changed for me.  The ugly, the splendid, the spectrum of human frailty and emotion and strength is all there.  Was always there.  In you, and in me.

So if you also find yourself saying “I don’t get along with women,” maybe it is time to dig a little deeper into the murky pit of why that is.  It’s a little gross in that pit.  But I can guarantee you will come back out of it with something you didn’t have before:  You.

To all the women who have spoken up, fought, persisted, and just kept livin’ in my lifetime and throughout the centuries, and to all the women who have not found their voices yet:

Thank you.

 

Right-Sized, Right Now

Every Saturday, I keep going to this cemetery.

It is a very quiet, run-down, not-taken-care-of cemetery in the middle of a nature preserve that sits on the edge of a suburban, outside-the-loop community.  It’s heavily wooded, and the path to the cemetery isn’t paved.  I have no ties to this cemetery.  A friend took me there in the dark one evening, which is pretty much not my gig, going to cemeteries in the dark.  As goth as I am, I am too afraid of getting ousted by authorities or getting mugged or raped in the woods.  As I stepped out of my comfort zone that night, I found it magical.  In more ways than one.

So I keep going back.  In the day, though.  For now.

I read the historical marker over and over again.  I want to go inside and sit on the little bench that is placed right next to the marker.  Instead, I am waiting for an invitation.  A sign.  Something that whispers to me that it’s ok to go through the pulled-back chain link fence and just sit.  That I am getting closer to being welcome.  I don’t know these people buried here, and the last burial in the cemetery was almost 100 years ago.  I imagine most of them hard people.  Rough people.  Pioneer people.  People who had to wear ridiculously oppressive clothing in blazing temperatures, who had to work this less-than-fertile Texas soil, who had to bury children lost to disease.  As I wander outside the locked gates of this place in my yoga pants and running shoes, I know I don’t have anything in common with those who are buried here.

But I keep coming back.  I keep looking for signs.  I keep waiting for the dead to reveal their mysteries to the living.  To tell me in hushed tones what to do with my life, how to be of purpose.  These souls that cannot fathom me, my life and times – who might have the power to question why I would hang around this place so many others have abandoned.

I bring them things.  A flower.  A hairpin.  A chunk of bread.

Say what you will.  We are all in uncharted territory in this life.  The more I do what feels right, the less scary that territory, known or unknown, becomes.

Whether a sign is real or imaginary, I am the one that defines its power.

I am listening.

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Dear Target Lady

You are always there.  You look like my friend’s mom.  You don’t seem overly jubilant, which I totally get.  However:

You always talk to me.  You always ask or comment about something I’ve bought.  We chat.  You are not crazy.  In fact, the old me would write about how annoying you are and how I am in a hurry dammit and cut the small talk, Lady.

But what I want to say to you right now is I love you.  I love that you engage me.  I can tell that the people behind me in line do not share this love.  I don’t care.  You are making the most of your day, and by doing so, have made a lasting impression on me.

The next time I see you, I will learn your name and I will maybe even creepily hug you.  Because right now, we all need to reach out to everyone, appreciate that this life passes by pretty damn quick, and there is nowhere any of us need to get to so badly that we ignore our sameness, our ability to interact, our humanity.

Thank you.

For everyone behind me in the proverbial Target line, if you have posted recently about “be kind to each other” or “love wins” or whatever the Facebook sentiment of the day is, this is where it starts.  It starts with me.  And you.

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