Jingle Hell 2021

The day after Thanksgiving I stopped by my local coffee shop, to grab a quick cup of coffee. When I walked through the door, I was assaulted with Christmas music. I understand that it is customary for businesses, radio stations and really everybody to play Christmas music before the turkey is eaten, but I don’t have to pretend to like it. As my ears were being raped with holiday cheer, my brain was trying to determine how I was going to cope with this reality and if I am capable of surviving the next month.

The Christmas music situation is adding a hint of desperation to my mood that I don’t remember being present in past years. I, especially, do not have the stomach for upbeat, cheerful or overly harmonized  holiday songs.  Particularly, when I hear Pentatonix sing Christmas tunes, it sparks immediate agitation.   I have an over the top reaction, like I might die if I can’t make the music stop. I find myself acting like a irrational teen, and I don’t have the mental fortitude to holiday shop in a public place this year with this garbage blaring in the background. 

I know I haven’t begun to run this holiday marathon, understanding that we are only in the first few days of December.  I believe I might need to start a self imposed desensitization program in early fall each year in order to sink into my holiday depression slowly.  My hope is that the music will start to resemble my stifled moans.  I would like to disregard the music and go about my day, and approach this over-commercialized holiday and its tunes like I do when I encounter strangers on public transportation who insist on talking to me about their health conditions.  I just close my eyes, go to my happy place, and wish for the encounter to end. Like bad sex. I don’t like these situations, but I can endure them. However, holiday music is a trigger for me.  It’s the one thing that makes me feel like I could snap and have a true crime show featuring me. 

I consider my reaction to Christmas music a medical condition and will proceed with caution. If you happen to see me in the next few weeks, I need you to know, I put Xanax on my Christmas list for Santa to bring. I realize now, it might be too late even if the fat man decides I deserve it and puts it in my stocking. I needed this med intervention days ago. For the next 20 days, I will attempt to control my simmering holiday rage and avoid that inmate fashioned florescent orange jumper for at least one more year.

Blueberry Pancakes

Self-harm is essentially defined as a person’s mission to inflict deliberate injury to one’s own body. Self-harm for me might be a mixture of poor choices, perfectionism, and the need to get shit done. For example, I recently scheduled a dentist appointment for 7AM. In my mind, I decided that if I scheduled it early, the appointment would not interfere with my work schedule. However, waking up, rushing across town to have a stranger stick their fingers in my mouth is not how I prefer to start my day.

While in the dentist chair, I pondered this decision of mine and was perplexed, because I decided long ago, I would never schedule a gynecological appointment first thing in the morning. I wondered why I did not lump dental appointments in the same category. It’s just too early to feel this type of encroachment. I always feel cheap when the gynecologist hands me that little washcloth, tells me to clean up after her handy work and walks out the door. The ending of every gynecological appointment feels like an awkward breakup, where both parties are disgusted with one another. I’ve decided that I need a true-life rule to live by and from here on out, I will not start or end my day with any strangers’ hands in any orifice of mine. I’m just too fragile.

I do understand there is no good time to have either of these types of appointments for most people. How could anybody in their right mind like someone else flossing their teeth? During my appointment there was so much struggle to pull the floss from between my teeth that I thought my hygienist was going to put her foot on my chest for leverage. Finishing with flossing has the same effect as the gynecologist handing me a washrag at the end of the visit. Both leave me feeling a little sad, violated, and judged for my life choices. I always leave these appointments feeling unsettled.

Looking back on this appointment and the notion of self-harm, I don’t feel that I deliberately used the dental appointment to soothe any inner self-loathing. I think this visit fell in the category of just needing to get shit done. However, I can’t help to dive deeper and examine aspects of my self-harming nature that might be rooted in some form of emotional torment instead of convenience and bad decisions. I doubt I will unpack all of this here today, but I am open to explore how in most of my interactions throughout my day I always want an agreed upon safe word before I commit to engage.

Although the choosing of a safe word has always perplexed me. I feel I need to be thoughtful and selective if I am going to commit to such a thing. My dilemma with safe word selection is not complicated, but I may be overthinking it. A friend of mine disclosed that he uses the name of a delicious breakfast food as his safe word. He heard it being used in a movie and claimed it as his own. I need to know if he ever orders blueberry pancakes when dining out and if the sight of them incites memories that make him blush at the breakfast table.

In my simple mind, I wonder when he decided that saying “ouch” was no longer sufficient. I’m also curious if he has ever had trouble spouting this phrase out in his time of need. Multiple syllables and intense pain seem like a possible barrier to me. With so many questions unanswered, I don’t believe I will be able to make any progress selecting my own word or phrase to be used when my limits are tested. For now, what if I just tap out instead?  

Prairie Life

I find myself, during my workday, needing something on TV in the background as I go about my day since working from home. Recently, I find myself watching Little House on the Prairie from 1 to 3 every afternoon. Unfortunately I find I am so distracted by the horrific events on the prairie that it has been super hard to focus on work. I actually become irritated when work causes me to lose track of where I was in each show. While watching just yesterday, I was overwrought with the towns’ people being afflicted with yellow fever and the following episode little Kari fell down a well, the walls collapsed, and Charles and the town’s alcoholic still managed to come to the rescue. Thankfully Laura did not succumb of yellow fever (she had poison ivy) and Kari was rescued. I would have been worthless for the rest of the day if either or them had died.

Of course, I knew they lived. I watched this series multiple times throughout my childhood, but I still get caught up in it all the same. The music in the intro to the show alone, gives me the “warm and fuzzies”. I think I always had a crush on Charles. I thought he had the most brown and dewiest eyes I have ever seen, much like a Disney character. I was sharing my latest little prairie predilection with my friend, Tammy and she shared that her father was annoyed with Charles Ingalls crying in every episode, and this made me take note of Charles’s tears. I believe his eyes were just wet, not dewy, from all the crying. Tammy’s dad was spot on, Mr. Ingalls does shed tears at least once in most every episode, Sometimes it’s more than once. I believe that so far in the last month, there may have been maybe two episodes where Charles didn’t cry. The baseball episode when Walnut Grove beats the asshole baseball team from another town, and the episode when the town essentially held an adult and child “field day”. However, he did get misty eyed over something in one of those episodes, but he didn’t really cry. Only no tears in two episodes in 30 days!

To play devil’s advocate, prairie life was rough with illness, famine, bad weather, and general harsh conditions all around. I would have cried everyday, multiple times, just when using the outhouse. And Ms. Oleson was a fucking bitch, judging others like a true Christian. I might have also cried if she refused to give me a fair price on my eggs, like she often did with Caroline. I find myself at various times of the day thinking about the characters on the show. On my walk last night with my dogs, I caught myself thinking about Mr. and Mrs. Oleson. What the hell did Nels see in Harriet? It perplexes me during every episode. Ms. Oleson was a terrible person who was single handedly raising a narcissist, much like herself. Nellie was Satan and Willie was merely a sheep. I completely understand why Laura slapped Willie or pushed him into the local pond in every other episode. I would have never shared my marbles with him.

The amount of time I have spent thinking about Charles, his tears and the little house on the prairie has taken an emotional toll. I don’t believe this show, for me, was made to be binge watched. At the end of just two hours of the show, I tend to be soaked in cortisol and at the same time comforted by the thought that most everybody lived until the next day, phew. Remember, this was a time when a splinter could have caused certain death. I understand most people would not put Game of Thrones in the same category. For me, both shows provoke the same dread, but maybe without all the sex and gore. Dead is dead, whether it be by sword or by cholera. The main difference is in a season of The Prairie, maybe only 2 people die and one might be terribly injured, and in Thrones 3, 523 die in a terrible fashion The other striking difference, other than the hundreds of years that separates these time periods, is that GOT characters were less likely to hold hands at the end of the episode and sing Kumbaya, My Lord like the god fearing folks on the prairie.

Getting back to Charles, I do agree with Tammy’s dad. Charles was a bit soft when it came to keeping his emotions in check. I wonder if he might be Caroline’s little spoon at night and I will never know. Not that I think anything is wrong with being the little spoon. However, I bet Caroline rocked him to sleep after a long day of crying. He might have always been on the brink of dehydration, I imagine. However, I can’t help but think sometimes, “what would Charles do?”, when faced with some dilemma throughout my day. Then, I think of Tammy’s dad, and remember how disappointed in me he might be if I even considered shedding a tear.

Cornhole

Today, my 15 year daughter asked if I invited anyone over the holiday stating that she has cornhole. She reminded me she received it from a good friend as a birthday gift a few years ago. I made a mental note about Ella’s cornhole and went out for a long run. After I hit the acceptable number of miles, my thoughts returned to Ella’s offer for my friends to play with her game and it didn’t sound right as I rolled this around in my mind.

It seems cornhole was created in 1883 and was put into the same category as the game of horseshoes, but cornhole was a game that could be played indoors or on the lawn. The name “cornhole” always perplexed me. Frankly, the name sounds dirty to me, and I can’t quite explain why. It seems that in the day and age of primitive plumbing when outhouses were being used it is said that people used dried corn cobs for toilet paper. Using corn cobs as a toilet paper substitute by itself isn’t dirty or depraved. It does confuse me as to why anyone would look at a dried corn cob and think, “Hey, I could totally wipe my butt with this!” If corn cobs were really a good T.P. alterative, I am confused why this was not brought up as a healthy alternative to solving the toilet paper shortage during the Covid-19 shenanigans.

Getting back to the game, I didn’t understand the beanbags that are thrown during the game were filled with actual corn at one time. Feeling naïve, I wonder if the beanbags in the games sold today are still filled with corn. I have never cut a beanbag open. However, knowing this now, the name finally makes much more literal sense and I will forever speak it like a Neanderthal when saying it out loud.

Regardless of the cornhole research above, somewhere along the way society has taken this word for a ride down a path that makes me uncomfortable or maybe I watched way too much Beavis and Butt-Head. When I called friends to ask what they might be up to for the holiday evening. I realized I was uncomfortable mentioning Ella’s cornhole and how she was offering it up for all interested to play with. I realize I am not interested in anyone coming over to my house to play with Ella’s cornhole, ever. If it were up to me, Ella’s cornhole will remain in the box in her closet until she is at least 21 or 25, I haven’t decided yet.

Taking The A-Hole For A Walk

I have never been a fan of walking my dogs. When Rainy was younger, I would run with her. She was terrible on a leash and it was difficult to control her when she would pull towards other dogs, people, birds, squirrels, and anything that would capture her attention. Rainy, on a regular basis, would pull me to the ground and drag me until I was able to get back on my feet. I often returned from our outings bloody with road rash. 

Jazzy, on the other hand, being much smaller doesn’t have the power to pull me over, but she still pulls hard on the leash. She now wears a special harness, because she has injured her trachea from her desire to lead on our walks. Jazzy is also terrible when she encounters other dogs. She wants to attack them with every fiber of her tiny, bulldog, rage filled being. She is brutal and embarrassing and she froths at the mouth during her numerous attempted rampages. She lunges right for her victim’s face/throat area, and my apology for her behavior never seems sufficient.

Walking them together has its challenges because Rainy feeds off Jazzy’s targeted anger. Maintaining control over both dogs is sometimes difficult. It doesn’t take me long to become overwhelmed. They have no appreciation or consideration for me as I try to be a good neighbor and attempt to pick up their crap while they are both pulling hard in different directions to unknown destinations. It’s a miracle I do not come back shit covered from our walks.

I have never been that person who unwinds after a long day during my evening walks with the dogs. I feel I am on the defensive the entire time. Constantly looking ahead to see if other neighbors are out walking their dogs and pre-emptively crossing the street before Jazzy gets ugly.   There is nothing relaxing about it. My mind fixates on how long I will be carrying this big bag full of Rainy’s steaming turds until I find the next garbage can. I tend to get resentful when I have the leashes with the dogs pulling in one hand and a bag of shit in the other and my nose starts to itch. Sometimes I tie the bag of shit to the leash of the dog who owns it. When it’s tied to Rainy’s leash it tends to hit Jazzy in the face, as they walk side by side. Jazzy just quietly endures it. As funny as I find this, she doesn’t deserve this. Feeling bad, I untie it, and decide to carry it myself and resent it even more. In spite of my intense dislike of the walks, I committed to walking them this past spring on a daily basis because my dogs look forward to this daily outing. Sometimes my daughter joins us.

I am not sure how it happened. Sometimes I am not sure how I get from A to B on certain things. However, I realized I have somehow become fixated on Jazzy’s asshole. I can’t stop staring it during our walks.  When my daughter walks with me, she has noticed me doing it. I have found it difficult to explain to Ella why my eyes are drawn to Jazzy’s sphincter.  I surmise it’s because of the anxiety knowing that it is just one more thing I cannot control on this walk. I’m sure I would be staring at Rainy’s too, but her tail thankfully blocks my view. 

This past Mother’s Day I received a card from Ella. When I opened the card Ella made for me, it had three pieces of fabric with string attached, taped to the top of the card. Ella asked me if I knew what they were? It took me a few seconds for it to register, but the laughter that erupted between the two of us was so amazing at the realization of what she made. Ella, knowing me the way she does, made me Jazzy butt-hole covers for me to use during our walks. How lucky am I to have the most thoughtful daughter in the world and to try to offer a solution instead of judging the neurosis that she witnesses on the daily. Ella shared that she tried to buy butt-hole covers from Etsy, but they were sold out. You heard that right. They were SOLD OUT. It makes me feel a bit normal knowing that I might not be the only one afflicted with the unwanted past time of Jazzy A-hole viewing.

ICE CREAM

This week was brutal. At 5 o’clock on Friday, I look the same in the mirror, but on the inside, I am merely just remnants of the person I was on Monday. Still, my day is not over as I grab a shopping cart and walk into my local grocery store.  I am on the hunt for dinner, but my crushed ego and spirit pull me to the ice cream isle. I grab a pint of chocolate, peanut butter sundae and head to the checkout line.

As I put the container on the belt in preparation to pay, I find myself not being able to take my eyes off it, and I flirt by wiping a piece of ice that’s hanging off its handsome lid. I know it’s pretty forward of me, but I cannot resist the urge to have contact with this beauty. On the ride home, it’s quiet between us, but electric with anticipation. I park, walk inside as I softly cradle this sugary gem in my hand and grab the only accessory that will bring us closer, a spoon.

I dig in softly and try to play off the huge greedy spoonful I lift to my lips. The rush of sugar almost makes up for the beating that I took this week and before I know it I go in for scoopful number two, and then three. By bite seven, I feel my ass already getting bigger, but don’t care, and then I lose count of the dipping and the raising of the spoon, realizing a third of the container has already vanished.  

I try to talk myself into slowing down, but the impulse and desire to be filled overrides all rationale. My pace gets quicker and more deliberate as I jam spoonful after another into my mouth. I try not to let my mind veer off to judge my actions and try to remain present, but mindless in this act of selfish gluttony. And just as quick as it started it was over, the pint expelled all of its contents into my stomach.

The feelings of guilt are almost immediate. I feel so ashamed and disgusted I went all the way on the first date. I was hoping to savor this pint, getting to know it slowly over the week to come. Understanding my behavior needs to be punished, I already start the mental trial that must convict, sentence, and punish me for my lack of control. I decide my sentence is 5 to 10, not years, but miles that I will force myself to run in the morning.  I take the container, the empty carcass, and place it softly into the trash can. I take a moment to honor it for its service and place the lid over top.

My Official Response To Dating Rejection

Dear Daryl,

I am writing to formally thank you for taking some time out of your busy schedule to interview me for the position. I am truly grateful for this experience. I want to apologize that I was not up to my normal interview performance. I should have mentioned that I am not good at interviewing at all. However, I am not writing to suggest that you reconsider. I do understand that ship has sailed, and you were extremely clear providing the necessary details of why I would not be a good fit.

However, I feel that I do need to offer up an explanation of why I was not up to my normal performance level. Before I go into the details of why, I want to tell you that I have mixed feelings as I am writing this letter to you. Typically, on most days, I don’t care what people think of me, but for some reason it does matter with you. I cannot stress to you how out of character this is for me to care about this sort of thing. Nonetheless, if you would pretend for a moment, you were in my position. Imagine getting the interview of a lifetime for a job that could quite possible change your life. A job you were so excited about that you could not wait to get started, but then doubt seeped in and you are flooded with thoughts of maybe not being good enough. Then envision having the most unexpected panic attack and tanking the interview.

I do understand that my anxiety response is absolutely no excuse and nor should it be. My past jobs have taught me a lot of transferrable skills, but unfortunately the past positions I held did not teach me all I need to know in order to be the team player you are seeking. Presently, I am taking a few classes that I think will absolutely help me get much closer to matching my competition. I understand there are a lot of applicants.

I have to say your interview questions were extremely thorough and I shared things I usually do not share during interviews. From our meeting, you learned I think sunrises are stupid, and I learned you are not a fan of reading, so I will keep this short. It was a complete pleasure meeting you. Since it is abundantly clear that you will not be my boss, I feel that it is not really crossing any professional boundaries to invite you to go with me for a cup of coffee if you are ever in my neighborhood. Thank you again for this opportunity and I mostly agree with your decision, but I think the flag was more “pink” than “red”, but I trust your judgement.

Sincerely,

Amy J. Solt

Frog With Glasses

On one particular evening, I saw a sweatshirt that popped up on my Instagram feed. This shirt came in several different colors, but the print on it is what captured me. I was instantly possessed by an unexplainable force and before I knew it, I clicked, paid and waited. On the front of the shirt was a print of a frog wearing oversized glasses. Picture a green head, the size of a bowling ball, coming out of my ribs wearing huge costume glasses. I’m sure it had a body too, but it was much smaller. The depiction was caricature like. When I looked into the creature’s eyes I was under control that was not my own. This green toad with glasses was most definitely incongruent with my normal fashion sense as my closet is flooded with black and various shades of gray. This piece of clothing was a fashion abomination.

To describe what was going on in my brain is still hard, but I was compelled to put this shirt on every time I made eye contact the bespectacled creature. Each time I put the shirt on I would think about the ramifications, but didn’t have the willpower to take it off. My mind was worried and my thoughts became flooded with anxiety of how this disease would progress.  Will I eventually become the person that proudly wears over the top Christmas sweaters to normal  every day, non-holiday  functions believing that is it not ugly, but trendy. I shudder at the thought.

For a good part of four months, it seemed the frog and I were best friends.  We went everywhere together and if I wore the shirt for consecutive days it didn’t seem to matter. However, every time I would take the shirt off, pulling it back over my shoulders, and did not meet its glassy gaze it seemed I could resist it at times. These episodes of wearing this shirt was not unlike how I feel after polishing off an entire pint of ice cream in one sitting. My brain is skilled at treading the cold waters of self-loathing. Nevertheless, it might have been easier for me to resist the ice cream during my time living with this amphibian. The cursed croaker had some unexplained mind control and its eyes willed me to put him on and wear him like a badge.

Before Christmas I was packing for a trip and I opened my dresser drawer to find the sweatshirt. I quickly grabbed it and shoved it in my bag, thinking that maybe this was going to be the last trip we were going to take together.  On New Year’s Day, my friends and I were enjoying a nice fire outside and I seized the opportunity to abruptly put an end to the stupidest impulsive internet purchase ever made, by tossing it into the fire. In an instance the spell was broken and I swear the frog winked at me before disappearing into the flames.

Tropical Storm Rainy

I realized this morning my Labrador retriever, Rainy is almost out of her medication. Feelings of unease washed over me as I picked up the phone to ask the vet to call this med into the local Costco. Costco is the only pharmacy that will fill this particular pet medication. The trouble I feel brewing is multi-layered as my bitch doesn’t give two thoughts about her condition of urinary incontinence while she is sleeping on my bed. When Rainy is medicated there is no issue. However, without the meds and having a dog this size, the result of Rainy unmediated is nothing less than a natural disaster.

Driving to Costco is the easy part. However, as I get closer I can feel the tension start to build. I have never been a member of this store and I am not a fan. The sight of the parking lot brings on a bit of irritation. I am perpetually befuddled as how this place can always be packed full because people must buy in bulk. Prior to COVID19, I had serious issues making myself buy more than a 4 pack of toilet paper. Now I either can’t find any or I am forced to buy at least 16 rolls at one time! I’m troubled every time I bear hug my bulk pack of newly purchased TP through the threshold of my home. Buying in bulk and my personality are not friends.

I walk past the greeter with a chip on my shoulder and tell her I am going to the pharmacy when I have no membership card to show her. I feel she doesn’t believe me, but I don’t care enough to attach any type of emotion to the interaction.  The walk from the door to the pharmacy is a long one and thankfully this gives me enough time to fantasize (in mental slow motion) about toppling the shelves over as I walk by them. Fortunately, this lead to another fantasy within a fantasy of me winning 30 minutes alone inside the store to ransack it without the stealing and penalty, leavening with nothing but a smile. 

I make my way to the pharmacy line to wait. I have a quick chat with the pharmacist about the meds for Rainy, which always makes me want to ask the druggist if she would like to talk directly to my dog, but I don’t this time. However, one day I might bring in my dog so when this drug dispenser wants to consult with me about the possible side effects. I will force her to look Rainy in the eyes and explain them to her. I actually don’t believe the side effects are anything concerning, but Costco staff do not seem to care or submit to their understanding that this medication is for my dog.  It’s a silly policy they follow and I would like to draw attention to the absurdity of the practice of making me consult with the pharmacist about my pet medication.  I always wonder if they expect me to sit down with Rainy and go over the possible side effects when I get home. What if Rainy has questions, I can’t answer? However, for today I turn quickly on my heels and stroll back through this spectacle of gluttonous American spending that hurts my head, heart and eyes. Perhaps, someday I will understand all the rage of shopping at Costco and will leave mine in the parking lot. I walk out to my car with medications in hand knowing that I have avoided the floods from Tropical Storm Rainy for the next few months, and in the moment I am grateful for Costco on this fine afternoon.

I Think We Need An Exclamation Point!

I recently returned from vacation to a mountain of emails. Historically, I have deeply pondered taking vacations before pulling the trigger. Mainly because I have always detested ascending the Mt. Everest of emails I feel I am expected to summit as quickly as possible directly after taking any relaxing days off. This journey always, ALWAYS negates any positives the vacation brought and often leaves me a bit more mentally exhausted. I often find myself asking if the vacation was worth it. I do not have any constructive solutions to offer. I also want to point out I don’t have much of an ego and understand day to day business operations will not stop when I’m gone. I guess it would be nice if work would wave their collective hand, tell employees not to worry, and treat all vacations like email free zones. It would be refreshing for employees to have no responsibility to conquer the accumulated mass of emails upon their return.

Knowing the above is not going to happen, I trudge on and try to exercise my grateful muscle (my brain). I do understand with all 2020 has been and brought, I am thankful and have a deep appreciation for what the universe has put forward for me and I try to remind myself of this on a daily basis. However, the human condition is sometimes a bitch. The balance of torment and gratefulness sometimes tips more in one way or the other. When this happens I either feel more bliss or think perhaps the “big sleep” cannot be that bad, but perhaps I am being a bit dramatic.

While cleaning up the rest of my emails this past week, I became even more acutely aware of the “canned” responses Gmail features as possible acknowledgements that can be selected and sent back to the sender. Examples are, ” Sounds great”, “Thanks for the clarification”, “Good”, and other similar replies. On this particular day, I think my “canned” response could have been “Are you f*@cking kidding me!” as I was making my way through this electronic communication imprisonment that was tethered to my fingers and my brain. Maybe because of my mood, I kept seeing an automated response I was not accustomed to seeing from Gmail and I was instantly perplexed because I did not agree with the punctuation. I wasn’t seeing the response on all emails, just a smattering. At first, I thought maybe someone at Gmail just had enough of 2020, because the formulated response I thought I saw said, “Sorry, I can’t take it.”

I am not saying I did not agree with the response, because I did, I do. But I had difficulty understanding why it ended with a period and not an exclamation point. Then I looked a little more closely and actually squinted at the phrase and then I realized I have to accept I need to start wearing my glasses on heavy computer days. It also became abundantly clear why this response only showed up when receiving a request from someone who wanted me to attend a meeting, because what it actually said, ” Sorry, I can’t make it. I was instantly a little relieved there was not a despondent staff person at Google who was crying out for help in a misdirected or misguided way though Gmail. However, it is important to mention how much I wanted this response to be real, because the feeling is just so 2020.