Night Bird

So this is our new normal.

At least for now.  For the time being.  For the foreseeable future.  I have never heard all the world so still in a city.  I have never been afraid of the night like I am right now, sitting in my own backyard at midnight on a Saturday.  Stripped of the comforting sounds of distant freeways, people chatting across the street in another yard, car doors slamming, motorcycles zooming, I am…disquieted.

Disquieted about so many things, really.  And is that even a great description of what I currently feel?  The stillness of the night is not what is frightening, it’s really what might be deep inside that stillness.  Are there spiders and bobcats?  Coyotes?  Is there a snake in the tree next to me?  Is there a rat on the roof?  Is the natural world being lulled back into a sense of time before we started ravaging all of everything?  Maybe not so much just yet, but then my mind wanders away from bumps in the night to the greater issue of all the living things we’ve ravaged.

My mind races and zooms even further out, then in, and I start to be aware of my breath.  But not in a zen way, in a “holy shit why can I not just slow down my breathing” kind of way.  Because we have all been forced to spend time with ourselves lately.  Too much time.  Oodles and fucking mountains of time.  And yet I think about all the people in the country, on the planet, who would give anything for one more moment of it.  I think about how my routine of extra precautions perhaps doesn’t even matter.  That’s the one that really sends me over.

Here’s how I know I am not okay.  That nothing is okay.  I cannot be bothered to “move more.”  I cannot find my fucking breath because it is everywhere and scattered and ragged and pregnant with fear.  I cannot just go take a walk.  I come back from one weekly trip to get an essential or two and I cry for 15 minutes in the shower.  After I think I am done crying, my brain reminds me hey, do you wanna feel real bad?  Good, because you don’t even know anyone who has contracted it.  YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW ONE PERSON YET.  You should be ashamed because there are hundreds of thousands of people who are crying for the loss of people they loved.  There are a million other ways I know I am not okay, but the shower guilt cry is a sure sign.

I love that during this, millions have lost their jobs, that our government hasn’t even begun to do enough anything, that some of us who have been lucky enough to continue to work do so with active trauma happening continuously while we tend to children, spouses, and all other aspects of a life that has been drastically narrowed down to 4 walls.  It is all a mess, a shitshow, a catastrophe of epic proportions, even before you start tallying any loss of life.  The fact that I am inconvenienced regarding my comfort level without toilet paper means literally fucking nothing compared to nurses, delivery drivers, grocery workers, and many other essential service providers who are risking their lives without necessary equipment that is now required to do their job.  Sometimes, a job that doesn’t even pay the bills. 

Nothing, I repeat nothing, is okay.

Yes, I’ve read all the stuff, and I do mean ALL THE STUFF.  Haven’t we all reached the end of the internet at this point?  If not to search “is migraine a symptom of COVID-19” then surely to look at endless kitten pictures so we can try to wipe our brains before sleep?

There is a bird that sings outside our bedroom window all night, every night.  I’ve never heard this until recently.  If there’s one glimmer of okayness for me, it’s that.  While I am in my panic, when the lights are out and my husband snores softly beside me – when my eyes are wide open and I can’t pull together the pieces of my entirely fragmented mind, I listen for the bird.  I think about what it takes for me to just focus on this new thing.  The thing that is happening right now.

I have heard “we are going to get through this” and “this won’t last forever” and “when things get back to normal” from a lot of people in a lot of places.  Those phrases and statements, while hopeful, ring hollow to me.  I want to hope, I really do.  And I do believe we will – well, most of us – get through this.  I have read that we won’t be able to go back to how it was before.  That things will always be different and changed.  I have to ask myself if I really think that’s true in the way I want it to be:  To not go back to the greed, the fear-mongering, the lack of preparedness, the narcissism and puffed-up bravado of the immediately gratified culture we have been living in.   

I mean, we’ve all been forced to spend oodles –

fucking mountains of time with ourselves, right?

Right?

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.