All For Love

I recently took a little weekend trip, spending a bunch of money to go to a place I never wanted to go, to see a bunch of things that I didn’t wanted to see, and now cannot un-see. It felt as if I was taken by rocket to another heavenly body and landed on planet Kentucky, and spent time in a small out of this world place named Breyerfest. I was the alien and Ella was no longer my daughter, but she was a tour guide that spoke the local people’s language.

Breyerfest is a celebration of horses through the use of plastics. On the face of it is seems pure, and for the kids I think it is. However, the adults made it creepy, particularly the adult females who are zealous Breyer horse lovers. I spent most of my time observing these specimens.

Many of these ladies came to this event without kids in tow. Most were wearing hats stuck with pins decorated from past years of this fest, and dressed in tacky Breyerfest T-shirts.  These ladies were easy to spot, because they were carrying bags and bags of plastic horses that they might have been waiting all year to buy, muttering to themselves about how excited they were about the certificate of authenticity that came with their purchased toy horses.  Grown ass women. Some actually had their faces painted, like the kids.  My weekend at Breyerfest was a practice of tolerance and non-judgement,  similar to when subjected to awful performance arts, like mimes or bad porn. For the record, I would much rather watch lousy porn over having any interaction with a mime. Mimes are passive aggressive introverts, with an addiction to face paint.

I have to admit I felt dirty during my time at Breyerfest. Viewing most of the seven deadly sins playing out in real time tends to make me feel real filthy, real fast. I wrote on the suggestions cards for next year to put portable showers scattered throughout the park. They would have been most helpful. I am not sure if  it was the feeling of being in constant need of a shower, remorse for agreeing to embark on this journey, or my general failing to understand anything that was happening, but Breyerfest gave me a raging case of  Breyer bitchy.  I wonder if Breyer will use this name for their next horse model? If  this model horse has a slightly crooked nose and comes with a mane that reacts to humidity, I would feel flattered.

Going into this event I thought that I knew my daughter, but I am completely questioning this at the present. Ella loved this event so much, she was in heaven. Ella would say things to me (while we were looking at plastic horse models she wanted to buy) like, “Mom, we met this actual horse today when we were at the barn?” She would say this like we met a celebrity. I would say, ” Oh, yes, I remember, such a nice horse. Was this one who is signing autographs from 3 to 3:30? We should go back and have him sign your T-shirt.” Ella would remind me that it was not the horse signing autographs, but the owner of the horse. Well, the sign on the outside of the horse stall did not specify it would be the owner’s autograph, and I must say I was deeply disappointed to learn that Breyer horses weren’t special enough to know how to sign their own names.

I always thought that my daughter wasn’t entitled, but I believe I was fooled just because her temper tantrums ended years ago when things didn’t go her way. I realize that she is just silent, probably quietly screaming on the inside. But let’s not be mistaken, my daughter is spoiled with a capital “FUCK ME”! However, to put things in perspective from a Breyer lover’s stand point, why would you travel the entire way to the mecca of Breyer and not pick up a few horses, regardless of who picks up the tab. I realize in retrospect, I should have had a few conversations with Ella regarding expectations.

Ella was dead set on going to a thing called the “Special Run” to gather a few more Breyers to add to her collection with my wallet.   I had no idea what was happening of course, so I had to have Ella explain to me why we were standing in this particular line to buy horses when these little horses were literally on sale everywhere in the park. When Ella was finished explaining, I still failed to appreciate her explanation. I asked her to start over and summarize in terms I could comprehend by comparing the horses on sale in this line to something I could understand. Ella started by saying, “pretend you are at winery event”. Really, this is all she had to say to get me to start listening. She said, “imagine that there was an event and the wine maker made a special bottle of wine just to be released to sell at the event for the members who attended”. Well, the comparison made sense, but there was a flaw. I would NEVER spend $85.00 for one, let alone two bottles of wine! Ella insisted on two specially made plastic horses.

Interestingly, there was even more places to buy Breyer wares outside of the Kentucky Horse Park. There was a a hotel that was a noted destination. Over 200 room rented by Breyer lovers who opened up their rooms each day and night (until mid-night), so all who were interested could stroll in and shop out of their rooms, while even members of their own families slept in the beds.  In some rooms, the renters moved all the furniture out so there would be more space available for merchandise. I am not certain where these people slept.

There was a definite creep factor associated with this Breyer destination, but it was lessened by the fact that this hotel had a bar. Perusing people’s hotel rooms with a glass of wine in hand, took the edge off of my Breyer bitchy.  I want to say that I didn’t need alcohol on this trip, but I did, bad. The unfortunate tidbit is that there was little to no alcohol available at the Breyerfest venue. In my mind, I thought that perhaps bourbon or whiskey would be on sale and as plentiful as those little fucking toy horses, but hell no. I suggested putting the bourbon stands next to the shower stalls in the years to come, for convenience of course. I want to feel drunk when I am being violated financially and spiritually, and like to shower up rights afterwards.

I did not get to experience the live auctions this year, because I could not wrap my mind around this concept. I heard many, many people talking about this, but could not mentally grasp that people would gather and bid on toy horses, saddles, gear, and other Breyer bullshit, spending thousands and thousands of dollars. I overheard that one TOY horse model actually sold for $14,000 dollars. I. DON’T. GET. IT.

I was chatting up a vendor and he told me that two years ago, a GROWN ASS WOMAN showed him a TOY saddle she bought at auction for $2,000 dollars. He explained that as she was showing him this rhinestone crusted saddle, another GROWN ASS WOMAN tried to steal it and these ladies fought and wrestled on the floor of the arena. I was telling this story to Ella a bit later and Ella piped up and said she totally understood why someone would spend $2000 dollars for a collectible. Maybe it was the third day of Breyerfest that had me weary, or lack of alcohol to take the edge off, or maybe it was just feeling overwhelmingly dirty for far too long, but I actually teared up and had to walk away. How could two people of the same blood come to the same event and have two completely different experiences? One being in complete and utter bliss and the other left empty, despondent and hopeless in and of mankind.

The trip brought on many mini panic attacks envisioning Ella 20 to 30 years older walking through Breyerfest  with her accessorized hat, T-shirt, and bags and bags of toy plastic horses. I did some rumination on how I could in a hurry buy Ella a real horse so she might leave all this nonsense in her childhood, where it should most definitely stay. But then I realized what does it matter anyway? I will be here to support Ella with my heart, but  maybe less with my wallet in the following years.

In 20 years if I was lucky enough to still be here and be with Ella at Breyerfest, I would be honored to hold Ella’s pin infested hat while she tussles with the gal who was silly enough to think that she could get away with stealing Ella’s well earned collectible. To be clear, I would be reminding her, maybe rather loudly, during the ordeal that she could have bought a real horse with all the money she has blown on plastic horses and other prized Breyer treasures. However, I would most certainly be assisting her in fighting as dirty as possible, as Breyerfest brings out the best in me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Dear Tinder

I had a bunch of reservations when I made the leap and signed up and actually paid for a membership. I understand that many people don’t actually pay for you, and I still do not understand the difference between the paid and unpaid membership that you offer, except that I paid. I told myself that I was done with you and other sites like you. I would much rather just pick up a homeless person and take him home, treat him to a shower and see what I am working with. I felt that it wasn’t going to be much different from what you present me with on your site. However, I figured that by signing up with you, I wouldn’t have to clean my shower as often.

I have to say that I was not sure what I was doing or what was lurking behind the swipes right. I would be lying if I did not mention there was a bunch of people I did not expect to see on your site. I do not want to appear judgmental, but there were many married men looking for a good time on your site. Are you aware of this? I am sure you must be.

Others were on your site with their partner looking for a third, and I found this fascinating for several reasons. I wondered which partner was the one to bring this up in their relationship and which of the two made the Tinder profile. Did they compromise on what information they put out there? Did they sit and swipe right together? I always wondered which one swiped right on me? I don’t think they knew that I have zero ability to multi-task, that’s okay I don’t think I noted this in my profile anyway. I didn’t think it was important. However, I do think it’s important to mention that nowhere in my profile did I EVER say that I was interested in being a third. I can barely managed being a half.

I gave these couples very little serious consideration, but I did ponder the awkwardness of the first date, if I would have chosen them, like my forever couple. Would we have gone bowling? Would I have gotten a Pedicure with the wife, while the husband watched? Could this have been considered foreplay? I honestly, have no idea how it would have worked. Would we have all gone out to dinner to discuss our likes and dislikes, and powered through all the long, uneasy breaks in conversations while thinking that I am failing to impress not one, but two people. No, I did not pick a couple. I would have never picked a couple to date. I’d rather just disappoint one person at a time.

My time with you was short, sweet, and I was barely corrupted. Because of this, I write this tangential “thank you” letter to you, Tinder. Thank you for being the creepy little “go to” dating site that gave me the push needed to see that there are other semi-normal people out there, like me. I will always remember you, like that leering relative who sits in the corner at a family function and asks (maybe too politely) for you to come sit on his lap while he sings “Happy Birthday” in your ear. But it’s not your birthday, and after you never want your birthday to come again.

Not Up High or Down Low

Years ago, when Ella was in kindergarten there was this family that insisted on standing outside the school each morning to high five each and every single student that walked through the doors. Grandma, mother, father, and yes, even baby brother, slowed down the process of getting inside the school. At the beginning of the year, I thought that they were going to do this for the first week or so to give all the new students an added boost, but months into the school year, this family still was slapping every single little unwashed hand that passed through the threshold.

I hoped that this family would come down with a virus or two, but they all had the immune systems of champions, which made me dislike them all the more. Every morning I would stand impatiently in the rain, getting wet and cold because of this family’s compulsion to “touch” children. My neurotic notion that someone might snatch my child, made it impossible to leave Ella standing in line (with her classmates and the teacher), I needed to see her physically cross through the entrance to the school before I could walk away. I stood disgruntled, eyes of daggers, waiting for my daughter to get by this family, everyday.

I would stand still and silent, but in my head I was screaming to Ella hoping that she wold connect with me, maybe by mental telepathy. Everyday, I would will her with all my power to ignore the family of high fivers and leave them hanging, like losers. I would wager daily bets inside my head. But for 8 months, everyday, Ella slapped every single hand and I would walk away despondent.

I sometimes wonder about this family. I imagine that they are still high fiving at most everything. In my mind, it would seem that they high five after doing the dishes, mowing the yard, or maybe after a high fiber meal. The thought of this just makes me shutter. I have tried to teach my daughter right and correct all this excessive use of skin slapping. My home is a “no high five zone”, nor is it a home for its relatives like the fist or the elbow bump. I am teaching my daughter to express joy by using her words or by texting them like a normal human being.

Marathon Torture

For the past several years, I have been running half marathons (13.1 miles) almost every month. For me, being in shape to run a half marathon at any given time keeps my belief alive that if a zombie outbreak or any other dystopian situation should occur, I might have a fighting chance. I train by running a set number of miles per week and then go to the gym to work any muscle group that is presently disappointing me.  I am in a constant state of sore.

This routine has become pretty easy, mostly. Sometimes I am more prepared for my monthly half marathon and the run seems fast(ish) and easy. Other months it isn’t, but I know that I can squeak out the miles even when I’m not looking particularly pretty or happy while running it.

Recently, two of my beautiful girlfriends decided to run a full marathon. Peer pressure has been a problem for me since I was a teen. I decided to join even though there was really no pressure or consequence to me personally.  I have only run one marathon in my life and I thought that was enough, but apparently not.  I  guess I just wanted to belong to the small group of self torturers.

Torture is in short the deliberate infliction of pain (psychological or physical) in order to fill some desire. Typically, there is a person or entity doing the inflicting, but in the case of marathon training I am both the dispenser and victim. I could make the leap and say that  as a marathon trainer/runner I might exhibit some of the same traits as those who self-harm.  I tend to work out a bunch of emotional garbage while I’m running, and it is a way to control and allocate the amount of pain being inflicted. The striking difference is there are no sharp objects involved. Running shoes are the chosen weapon.

This past week I ran almost 50 miles in total. And I ran out of all ideas of getting needed nutrition during my runs, so I didn’t. I ran out of water on my 16 miler. Note to self and other runners, don’t bring nuts as nutrition. Especially, don’t  bring nuts when water is in short supply.  On the positive, I have not crapped my pants yet or laid down in an attempt to have passerbys just bury me in a shallow grave.

Parts of my brain have stopped communicating with one another. I am not sure if it’s because of some infighting that I am not being kept in the loop on or if all the running has just over heated a few circuits causing permanent damage. However, when the part of the brain tells me to put on my running shoes, I do. I don’t even argue anymore. My brain is the drill sergeant and my body is the recruit.  However, it is important to note, I don’t believe what is presently being made is a warrior set to fight.

When I hit the road, I only hope that I put on all my running clothes, because I could see myself forgetting my shorts and not caring enough to turn around. I can already imagine the internal argument for not turning back. I will be too hot with them, less friction is better anyways or I’m sure nobody will notice. I have had similar thoughts about forgetting my water. It’s Portland, so it is typically raining anyway. I am sure I can find a semi-clear mud puddle to quietly sip from or I can wring out the collected rainwater and sweat from my running shirt. I’m sure it would be similar to the electrolyte drinks that I consume from time to time.

I’m less than a month away from my marathon. I am hopeful that I stay healthy enough to be at the start line, but I also dread the idea of running all 26.2 miles on this given day. In the back of my mind, I do dread and love the idea of a zombie attack happening during my training. It would be anti-climatic for both me and the zombies. Most likely, I would not have the energy or will to run. Instead, I would just lay down and welcome sweet death.  Perhaps I would just saunter up a one of the soulless and present my neck as a gift. The zombie will most likely be disappointed with the muscle atrophy and lack of salt in my blood and will be looking for some type of condiment to add to make the kill a bit more satisfying.

 

 

Acceptable Amount

I cleaned my house today.  I am not the best homemaker. Saying that my house looks like a bachelor lives here is an insult to some of my bachelor friends who are much better decorators and home engineers than myself. I do want to hire a person to clean my home, but I do have an issue hiring someone to do a job that I know that I should be capable of doing.  Hiring someone seems to be a chore in itself,  because I realize that I will have to clean my home from top to bottom, just so my cleaning person doesn’t pre-judge the person that I am. Not that I’m hung up on what people think of me, but for some reason I don’t want a complete stranger to think I’m dirty. Interestingly, I am totally fine with friends and family thinking this of me.

My inability to home make might be related to issues with my attention span for the minutia. My regard for detail is incredibly compromised and down right broken. I might be the opposite of a person with a super power. I believe that I can only rely on one of my senses at a given time. For example, when I am focused on breathing, my sight fogs ever so slightly around the edges. I don’t think glasses will fix this.

Today, when I was cleaning the bottom of my window sill  I noticed that that there was a spot that I have not seen and cleaned for the past 5 years, on 5 panes of glass in my living room. This was a substantial spot I did not see that had collected all that was bad, disgusting, and evil. Anyone else would have spotted this when they entered my home almost immediately. The fact that I was blind to this large spot of window for so long makes much more sense to why my past relationships have ended in failure.

I dedicated my focus and attempted to undue what time and dog hair had done to my window crevice. I worked for a while. And I grew tired. I thought to myself, is there an acceptable amount of crud that is forgivable? I hated that I was having this internal argument with myself, because I knew the answer. No, clean this shit up! But still I debated the question with myself, because my standards might be different since I can just pull the curtain and hid the window, until the next sunny day.

I am also notorious for shoving as much stuff as I can fit in my closets and storage spaces and shutting the doors to give the illusion that my house is organized, please don’t open the closet doors or my cupboards though. I imagine that  neurosurgeons would find the same horrific sight if they opened my skull, they would diligently try to close me back up in an attempt to not have an avalanche of ill fitted bits and pieces of information that I shoved into my brain hurriedly with the intent to come back later and fit it or organize it into a better location, but didn’t. It makes sense that as I attempt to explain simple concepts to others that I often take longer than usual exploring tangents like I do when I open the junk door in my kitchen, asking myself when did I put that in there and why?

Is there acceptable amount? No. But it seems I have a bunch of it and it wants to make friends. I do watch the California Closets info commercials with childlike wonder. Perhaps, some day I will grow up to be like the people in those ads, so perfectly put together. Until then I will spot clean those areas of my home that get away from me, along with my mind. I will keep my closet doors shut for now and hope to eventually find  a person with an eye for detail needed to help clean my home that is in possession of a magic wand and a non-judgmental heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heartless

I recently got my heart ripped from my chest. I wasn’t aware at first, but then it was glaringly obvious without the incessant thumping.  I understand that it (my heart) is cold, dark, and barely beats anyway. It merely hiccups at the feel or sight of anything remotely emotional in an attempt to distract. So, it seems that I am not missing much. Just a small wound really.

But the individual who has my organ is still at large, most likely this person doesn’t know that he has it. I imagine it is stuck to the bottom of his shoe or it was mistakenly shoved  into his jean’s pocket, collecting lint, and he just doesn’t realize. I’m not sure I even want it back. I think life might be a bit more simple without it.

Being pragmatic, I think that the space left behind could be of more use to me if I put something else in its place. I am extremely disorganized and lose everything, so it might be practical to install a key holder. I cannot tell you how many times I misplace my car keys in any given week. The time that would be saved.

Or since I tend to always be looking for “on the go” sources of protein. Instead of grabbing a handful of nuts and shoving them in my pocket, I can just store them in this new found space.  No more hairy pocket nuts. I can pretend to be a squirrel and prepare for the upcoming seasons. And if people call me “nuts”, I can just shake my head and grab a handful.

I am assuming that my organ is still being held captive, but if I am wrong and if it’s wandering about out there aimlessly, don’t let me know. If you should happen to see it, you might not understand exactly what you’re seeing at first glance. It could be walking with a limp, but the limp is often played off as some kind of swagger. It might be looking a bit more gangster than usual and is super attracted to disparaging rap music, the kind that makes you want to slap your neighbor for no good reason. It might challenge you if you look directly at it, so treat it like a stray animal.

If you are thinking about trying to capture it, your best chance is if you approach with caution. If you try to take it by force, it will just play dead. It has no will to fight with anyone. It will most likely remain lifeless, until you give up and walk away. If I know my heart, it will most likely accept a good bottle of wine and and good food, its two weaknesses. My advice is to not be a hero and let it amble by.

I am assuming that knowing my heart they way I do,  it will send me cryptic messages on social media. Potentially, it will follow me on Instagram and send me pics of its whereabouts with a written message of “wish you were here”. Perhaps we will be reunited. Until then I will just store nuts and my car keys, I think the space left behind might be big enough for both.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lost Hat

A few years ago I acquired a free hat at a local fair. I cannot tell you how much I love free hats. I find them along my travels and collect them like souvenirs. This particular hat was thrown into the audience during a dog show and my daughter was lucky enough to grab it. I was lucky, because it fit me instead.

This hat slowly became my crutch. If I didn’t want to “do” my hair, I would wear my hat. Which I would endearingly call my “hat hat”. Well, I might be painting a rosier picture than what really was. I think I would actually say in times of distress after looking into the mirror, “Where in the !@$& is my hat hat!! This perfect hat slowly crept into all of my pictures, too. I realize it may have been becoming a fashion problem for me.

A few weeks ago, I misplaced my hat. I saw it and then “poof” it was gone. I cannot find it anywhere. My despair over this is running pretty deep at the moment.  I have looked everywhere. The missing status of my hat really put me in a compromised position, because it has forced me to attempt to “do” something with my hair. And my missing hat unfortunately, brought another glaring issue to the forefront.  Hi. My name is Amy and I have terrible hair, just terrible.

My siblings have wonderful thick, mostly straight hair. I don’t. My hair is the opposite of pretty. It’s fine, curly, and it defies any attempt to look “done”. I mostly look homeless, even when I try to style it. I thought that if I grew it long that it would look better, but that proved not to be true. And without my hat to cover it up, I needed to do something. So, I shopped for another hat. Regrettably, I have turned into “Goldilocks”, with the hats sitting too high on my head, or too low on my ears.  I have bought three hats so far, but have decided that I just do not like them and they make me appear a bit more destitute than my hair does alone.

My lost hat has had a snowball effect that set things into motion that can’t be undone  and I made a rash decision that I will just have to live with for the next several months.  I decided I would get my hair cut.  It looked really good on paper or should I say when I saw the picture of the haircut with someone else’s hair.

However,  I tried to do my best to look at other girls that have similar hair types, but horribly this haircut that I decided to pick didn’t translate to my hair. Six inches less and later, I have a cold neck and barley can fit my strands into a puny ponytail. My daughter almost cried when she saw me and has demanded ever since that I keep my remaining hair pulled back.  I don’t blame her.

My plight to find my missing hat continues. Now I need it more than ever! I understand that this might have been the universe’s sick attempt at an intervention, but come on! I think the recent consequences were not even imagined by the mere loss of one hat. I am in the process of making flyers and stapling them to telephone polls surrounding the vicinity near my home, like the flyers I typically see when people are searching for lost dogs or cats. All I ask is that my hat be returned.  I promise to wear it  only for the next 4- 6 months, and I will then do my best to find it a forever home.

 

 

Traditions

This past Christmas day I couldn’t stand having the tree inside my house anymore, and by midday I had that bitch stripped and laying in the front yard. My daughter reminded me that the Christmas holiday was over by 12:30. I guess it seems cruel, in retrospect, to put an end to the holiday so early, but there was much negotiation between my daughter and I about this tree. The debate was she wanted one and I didn’t. Guess who won? For the first four years of being in our new home, we have never had a tree. I just couldn’t. I figured that my girl had a tree at her father’s house and two trees, well…was just over kill.

She has a love for the Christmas holiday and I don’t have much of a stomach for it. She asks frequently why I dislike such a “wonderful time of the year”. I shrug the question off. I tell her it’s just the way it is, and would much rather celebrate every “National” made up day with as much excitement as she exerts towards Christmas. “National Coffee Day”, I am there and fully committed! Bottoms up!

A few weeks ago, I burned my Christmas tree in my fire pit in the back yard and I vote that this is our 11th Federal Holiday (I choose not to count Inauguration Day as a holiday, even if it is counted every four years). I have not felt this much joy, maybe ever. The tree was burned while having a nice glass of wine, while smoking a cigar with a friend. It might have been the perfect moment in time. I have a picture and my close friends might be getting this captured moment in their Christmas Cards next year. I will warn them in advance. They might never ever see me that happy in real life.

Why do I hate Christmas? That really is a good question, because nothing extraordinarily bad happened that contaminated this holiday, but maybe it was just pinpricks that built up like the sting of an electric shock collar that quiets a dog that I imagine once enjoyed barking. But I do blame my holiday hatred on always wanting that pony and hating me for allowing myself to want such a thing.

When I think of this holiday, two things always remind me of Christmas; cigarette smoke and disinfectant spray, but mainly just heavy cigarette smoke. Gosh, just the thought makes me all warm and fuzzy. Most of my childhood, I spent inside bowling alleys, but for some reason Christmas inside the bowling alley seemed special. The decorations, the tree piled with tinsel, the blue/grey haze of cigarette smoke, and the smashing of pins being knocked down. Well, this is what Christmas songs should sing about. If I wasn’t running into Santa at the bowling alley and accepting a candy cane. I was waiting to sit on Santa’s lap at the Elks Lodge. The only difference between the two was the absence of pins, bowling balls and the smell of disinfectant spray in the air and the addition of an amazing gift bag that Santa used to give all kids that whispered their Christmas wishes into his ear.

I was always grateful for the generous gift bag that I remember including a Hershey’s chocolate bar, a popcorn ball, maybe an apple, and a candy cane. I always secretly wanted to trade with one of my siblings their chocolate bar for my popcorn ball, but nobody in their right mind would do this. I felt guilty for just the thought of asking. I don’t remember what I asked Santa for from year to year, but I did at least ask for that pony a few times. I always felt the gift bag Santa handed out after I left his lap was a parting “I’m sorry kid” for what wasn’t going to be under the tree on Christmas day.

I do remember asking for a animal radio or maybe I distinctly asked for a “cat radio”. For some reason, I think I asked for this for more than one Christmas. I might have gotten a dog radio, too. Do you know what these are? These are actual stuffed animals, but with a radio shoved inside. God, I loved these. I would open up my gift radio, disappear into my bedroom, lay on my bed and just snuggle with my hard stuffed animal while listening to it. And I would then cry into it’s sweet fur about the pony that Santa didn’t bring. I do understand that the meaning of Christmas is bigger than what is/was under the tree, but my selfish childhood brain wasn’t able to see past the Christmas tree skirt.

So, when my daughter asks me why I don’t like Christmas, I will continue to shrug and change the subject. My daughter has never asked for a pony for Christmas. She wants a horse. Not any horse, she wants a Friesian or Gypsy Cob. I would have settled for any pony, lost or lame with dental disease. However, her odds of getting a horse is similar to my past circumstances. It depends on me winning the Powerball, which she insists I play. What she WILL get each year is a Christmas tree, because my new holiday can only exist if I have a tree to sacrifice. The holidays just got just a little bit brighter for me, I am looking forward to the after, after Christmas. I just might buy a bigger tree next year.

Returning to Grateful

I attempt to wake each day with a practice of reminding myself of why I should feel grateful. I open my eyes and breathe every day. At times I have been proud of my daily practice, and it is this practice that allows me to let the many, many little things that I like to call “the pin pricks from hell” just roll off my back. However, sometimes I lose focus and my practice falls to shit. I am presently in one of my “grate less” holes. I have a shovel, but the dirt I am shoveling smells a bit more like manure than earth.

In order to ground myself and in an attempt to re-start my practice of gratitude, I tell myself the following things and this comes out almost like a mantra. I have a home, job, great kid, good health and I am able to provide for my household. I repeat this often. In some aspects I am living the dream, right? Right! I keep telling myself this as I pinch myself, maybe a little too hard.

Many years ago I decided that I was going to work in public service. I have been working as a social work for over 21 years. I have always worked in the not for profit world cause for me it just felt right. In order to pay for my college and graduate education, I had no choice but to take out student loans. I came from a blue collar family, and I was always extremely thankful that these loans were available to people in my situation. I have been paying on these loans for longer than I like to admit.

A few years ago it came to my attention, after making 120 payments (starting on a certain date) that those who have worked in public service can have the remaining amount forgiven. I was over the moon. So, I made my 120 payments, but only to find out my loans were not consolidated into the “right” federal loan program. I regrouped, did what I was told and consolidated into the “right” program, but was then told that I needed to start all over making the 120 payments, that is another 7 years.

In spite of this program mimicking the plight of a teenage boy trying to figure out the erogenous zones on a female, I sucked it up and submitted the paperwork again thinking that I was in the right program, but again was rejected. I then called the loan program for assistance and was told that I was still not in the right program, but they could help me only if I pay them $500.00 from my credit card to consolidate my loan into the “right” account, so I can begin to make the 120 payments all over again. I have to say I was not overly excited to give $500.00 to this random guy so he could push some paperwork through, so I didn’t. I am not saying I won’t, but I need time to go through the seven stages of grief before I fork over more money or I just might chalk this up to one big scam (after an acceptable amount of grieving).

A few days ago, I was in the pain and guilt phase (Stage 2). I skipped Stage 1, which is called Shock and Denial. However, I renamed it as, “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? Why didn’t I pay more attention and micromanaged this situation several weeks…okay, years ago! However, I am one of the most actively apathetic people I know, so this makes perfect sense.

Presently, I am in the anger & bargaining (Stage 3) If these were my stages of grief, I might add RAGE to this stage. I do understand that I have “chosen” this career. But I do have to say I cannot do math, and when one cannot do math, your career options are extremely limited. But regardless of my limitation with manipulating numbers, I did decide to STAY in this career. I have worked in unsafe situations and continue to be in harm’s way at times, been assaulted, and have been ridiculously underpaid. The value that is placed on the work that social workers do is definitely not reflected in pay or any perks that I ever received. However, I did get a nice “Seroquel” coffee mug from a former boss in an attempt to convince me not to leave when I gave my notice. I guess my point is that the government doesn’t hold the people we serve any type of esteem, so we, the people who serve them, aren’t regarded either. But I digress…

I know that I will move on to depression, reflection, and loneliness phase (Stage 4) very soon. Apparently, this stage is a bitch. This is a long period of sad reflection that sounds a lot like my normal life. Apparently in this stage, “One finally realizes the true magnitude of your loss and it depresses you”. Well shit, this is where I live. I mean, I swim in these waters every day. I have learned to tread here for years, and I have gotten extremely good at this. I hope awards are given for Stage 4. I might be a master and I think I FINALLY might win something!!!

The Upward Turn is Stage 5. I might skip this one all together; this just doesn’t seem to be congruent with my life now or ever. As a social worker, there really is no such thing, one of the reasons why I consider myself to be dead on the inside. I often wonder if this could be a new category in the DSM-5 called Inside Deadness. There really aren’t symptoms that I can list, but rather side effects. I can be tangential, but I think it’s important to mention that inside deadness includes under reacting to most everything in life, mainly because getting hopes up about anything is just a waste of energy, because the other shoe will most definitely drop. The super great thing about this, and I truly mean SUPER GREAT is that once internal deadness is achieved, life never disappoints. It’s like your hopes and dreams are on Valium. For those readers who are interested, start by lowering your standards and then keep lowering.

Reconstruction & Working is Stage 6. I think my few years in therapy might benefit me here with this stage; Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is helpful with this one. This is similar to the SNL skit,” I am good enough, smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me”, but with writing it down in guided constructed homework. Sorry to bring up the Al Franken’s skit, let’s just pretend I didn’t. I thought of writing to the Department of Education regarding my struggle or maybe even to Ellen DeGeneres in hopes to shed some light on the plight of social workers. I think that maybe Shutterfly could pick a well deserving social worker and reward that person, like Ellen often does with school teachers on her show. Of course, I would not consider myself.

I would never deserve such a reward. I couldn’t even redeem a free coffee at Starbucks, you know the “free coffee coupon” they used to give out when they felt they messed up your order. The last one they gave me I held on to for 2 years cause I didn’t think I was worthy of the free coffee. I ended up giving my free coffee to a friend. I am still not sure what would have made me worthy of that free coffee. Maybe, if the barista would have elbowed me in the eye or dumped the coffee on my lap. But I would have had to determine his or her intent prior to redeeming that free coffee.

Acceptance and hope is the final stage. Maybe I will get here someday. I am thinking that possibly I will call the loan company back, pay them the $500, so they can put me into the right category to forgive my loan in 7 years or maybe I will report them. I haven’t decided yet. I would like to say that I am hopeful, but that might go against the internal deadness that I have worked so hard at achieving over the last 21 years. Instead, I will strive for being grateful.

Daddy Issues

Can someone have daddy issues if their daddy is no longer living? Or is it just called issues? Since my dad passed away more than 7 years ago I think about him like most people think about their past loved ones. I often wonder what he is doing to keep busy in the afterlife. Some people think that the dead come to visit us, coming back in a form of a flittering butterfly or maybe in the shape of a bird, leaving feathers behind for loved ones to find.

Just before Father’s Day there was this big black crow that showed up outside my house that caught my attention. It’s wasn’t only the size of the bird that made me take notice or the fact that it would mill around my front yard with a sense of purpose that even I don’t seem to have. But this bird had a call that sounded just like the noise my dad made when he sneezed. My dad had a loud, powerful, almost violent sneeze. The sound was jarring and off putting. The kind of sound that makes a person need to steady oneself afterwards if they did not expect to hear it.

On the morning, nearing Father’s day, the day I heard the familiar bellow, I made my way to the source of the noise and opened up my front door to spot a crow standing in the middle of my front yard. I did what any sane person would do. I looked intently at the crow as it stared back at me and whispered, “Dad”? The bird flew away. It didn’t fly far, just across the street. I believe it seemed to think that across the street was a better distance to stare in my general direction. I thought that I should make it feel welcome and I grabbed a few pieces of bread and threw them at the far end of my yard. I was hoping that the bread would motivate him to come a bit closer, but he didn’t and the bread just sat as an ignored gesture.

The bird continued to hang around because I would hear the unsettling caw. I tried several times to make a connection by putting out scraps of food and such. But he ignored my friendliness and instead would still stare at me from a careful distance. I sensed judgment. I thought that if I tidied my yard up a bit and made it less scary the bird would soften its glare. So, I did and looked for a different reaction in the creature, but I got nothing. He was just as aloof and distant as ever. I found myself wondering if he would notice and approve of my new outfit when I found him leering from my rooftop as I walked to my car on a random morning, but he just flew over my car and shit bombed my windshield. I wondered if he was protesting my outfit or my foreign made car. I might never know. However, I did know that his presence was causing me to entertain insane notions. I wished this scornful flying animal would just drop a feather at my door and make a mystifying mark on me and be on his way to haunt someone else.

I did understand that this could have been just a crow and was probably just a crow. And I am willing to except that I sometimes look for meaning in order to work out deep seated childhood issues. Perhaps my three years of therapy merely just scratched the surface of my semi polished exterior.

I also realized that I might be going down a familiar path of attempting to get an emotional response or maybe any recognition that will nudge me along confirming from an outside source that things are going well and I just might be okay. The only difference between now and then is that presently I am seeking such ratification from a hapless bird. In the past, I did attempt to get such a response from my father, but it seems the outcome is eerily similar. I fault no one except my own expectations. My dad was supporting a family of four and always had at least two jobs and still barely made ends meet. The crow is busy eating two thirds of its body weight in order to maintain survival. So, it makes sense that I would believe, even for a split second, that dear old dad visited me in the afterlife as a Raven. And it makes even more sense that my dad would be in a form of a super pissed off bird, because even in the afterlife he still has to work as hard as ever just to maintain. Even as a disgruntled, bellowing crow who scavenges for hours and hours for food, my dad still refused to take a handout.