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.

Advertisements

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.

Gym Relationships

Having a bit of a running hang over I decided to head to the back of the gym and jump on the elliptical machine to work out the pain from a grueling half marathon from a few days before.  Typically, I avoid this section of the gym and go directly to the part of the gym that is only for the ladies. The “no man” zone of the gym has no TV’s, music, and the air conditioning is barely there, but it is worth it because this area of the gym is mostly deserted. However, this day I needed distraction of any type to get through thirty minutes of moving very sore, tired legs. Luckily, the men got to the TV’s.  Golf and baseball were already on, because when I work out I do think about watching golf. What girl doesn’t? Baseball being on the other TV was just a freaking bonus.

With all the stimulating things to watch on TV my mind wandered to the man working out a few rows in front of me on the stair stepper.  He had a pretty good rhythm going and I quickly became transfixed on his back. It was a little humid in the gym and he must have been working out for a while because his shirt was clinging to his body in a not unpleasant way, and the pace he was stepping was quite acceptable.  Not to mention his broad shoulders to waist ratio was notable, at least more than golf for me. I thought to myself that I will not only be able to commit to this workout, but quite possible enjoy it.

However, like most relationships the more difficult my workout became the more I began to scrutinize the stair stepping man in front of me.  As I looked more closely, I decided I wanted to see a little more definition in his back region that I was once so fond of.  I realized that his pace that seemed so strong and dance like before now seemed predictable and boring. And then I looked more closely at his style.

Stair stepping man had on a pair of cargo shorts on that went down to his knees. Not typical gym shorts and for the amount of time he was stepping, they did not seem that they would be comfortable at all. I also noticed he had two shirts on. Who wears layers to the gym, unless you are a wrestler trying to make weight for his upcoming match? Then I noticed his shoes. Stair stepping man was wearing leather sandals. It seemed that my stair stepping man might have just forgotten his gym clothes or likes discomfort…well, I will never know.

Our relationship was done. It was over.  I am not sure if it was the wearing of two layers and cargo shirts or the leather sandals. Or maybe life just got too hard on the elliptical for me. I have no hard feelings though. I think this was just what I needed to get through a difficult time, even it if was just thirty minutes. When I passed by him on my way out of the gym that day we both went our separate ways. They only thing I could hear was his squeaky, sweat soaked leather sandals walking behind me, although I might have imagined this.

 

 

Lifter Wanted

I have met many people in my life that look at a relationship as a way to “complete” themselves. I believe this is a wrong way of thinking, but who am I to teach anyone about relationships. All I know is I have never belonged to this camp and never will. Since I have been single for the past 4 years, I do envy those who are able to divide and conquer life’s obstacles. I do the opposite. I add to and fail to. And as a result, I seem to singularly white knuckle and clench my teeth until my dentist bugs me about that attractive night guard.

I, dramatically, throw up my fist and say never in defiance to the dreaded night gear, and my dentist just shrugs and says your protest will seem pretty silly when you crack a tooth. He might be right, but I have enough issues. I won’t even subject my dogs to the sight of a night guard when I’m sleeping. However, with no night guard, I do let me mind wander to what it might be like to have a partner of some sorts. My life is much like that of an ant. I find myself lifting several times my body weight and completing chores that are arduous and obligation filled. Just like a worker ant, I look after my young, find food and take care of my nest.

Most of my house projects don’t require skilled, paid labor. And I know when I need to hire professionals. I recently hired a bunch of guys who put on a new roof. I was not delusional enough to think that I could have done this myself, but my other house projects mostly can be done by me. I do need a person who can “lift” everything and anything. I realize I don’t like asking strangers, neighbors, or friends to lift for me and I need to be in some sort of arranged relationship. I am willing to hire this person or date them. If I hire them, I will ask them to just stand quietly in the corner until I need their services. If I date them, perhaps it would be the same set up.

I will commit to think deeply about hiring a “lifter”, dating for the service, or just learning to bend my knees more. And I will continue my previous line of thinking and not look for that “lifter” to complete me, but it will be damn close I have to admit. My ability to not lift heavy things is really the only thing getting in the way of me and my present happiness. If you happen to come by my home and see a random person standing in the corner, it’s best not to ask questions.

I Will Mindfully Not Be Mindful.

I don’t often write or think about things that happen at my work, because life is short. Thinking about my place of business outside of work just seems to make time out of work that much shorter.  I spend much of my time maintaining a mostly dead from the inside to the outside shell of a person.   Some might think they see a spark in my eye from time to time, but no, it really is just a random light reflecting on a perfectly numbed spirit.

This on first read might sound depressing, but this is a blissful state of functioning.  I like it. It makes me less of a whiner and I never need to “process my emotions” or to use the word “process” when talking about my feelings.  Or say things like, “give me a minute to “unpack” that when talking about a situation that may have been overwhelming. It just doesn’t happen to me.  I am not that deep.  As a kid and as an adult, I truly believe the childish saying, “I am rubber and you are glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.” The emotional part of my brain might have a healthy coating of Teflon.

Lately things have gotten a bit out of control at work and so busy that keeping up has become extremely difficult. I haven’t done the math because I am a social worker, but trust me the number of work assignments have gone up a bunch.  I realize that people deal with stress in very different ways. I put in more hours, run a few more miles, and maybe get a bit quieter. I am not sure if the added work makes me disgruntled or if I like being extra distracted by the additional load, maybe both.

It was thought that perhaps a mindfulness exercise would help our team manage the stress. I do understand the concept behind a mindfulness practice. It is suppose to improve stress tolerance, improve focus,   and a good practice could help with communication, leadership and work place morale. These all seem like great things.  However, sitting in a room with my co-workers with my eyes closed while engaging in a mindfulness medication exercise is the LAST thing I would EVER want to do.

I am perfectly okay with mediating, I am dreadful at it, but I am altogether fine with trying to incorporate this as a practice if it would be helpful. What I am not okay with is making it a group activity, especially with co-workers.  It reminds me of when I used to go to step class and I ended up behind a familiar looking posterior. The behind turned out to be my male boss. I picked another class after that day because I am certain it was just as awkward for my boss to have his employee behind him in step class with a clear view of his spandex. Some things just shouldn’t be done with your co-workers.

No. I don’t ever want to close my eyes, breathe deeply, and practice relaxation techniques with my co-workers. Actually, I didn’t participate. I sat in the room with my eyes wide open and watched my co-workers with their eyes closed doing the breathing exercise, while I drank my coffee. I was baffled that everyone did the meditation without question. Maybe, I am the unreasonable one, but I draw the line at being mindful with my co-workers.

I work extremely hard to be mindless at work.  Dropping the less and adding the full just seems like overkill. If the group mindfulness exercise continues I will work hard to remain numb, dead on the inside, and unenlightened.   Unfazed with wide eyes and coffee in hand I will continue to watch my workers participate, a bit guiltily I might add, but not remorseful enough to acquiesce. Not yet, not ever.

 

Hell Yeah.

I have pretty much always known I was going to Hell. Whether it is a designated hot spot below or a cold hole on earth, there will most definitely be a place there with my name on it. I have been “saved” countless times as a youth by an over-zealous believer who must have sensed my overwhelming evil, and she might have been on to something.

I have daily infractions that I add to the list that will seal my inevitable doom to the damned. The list might include the following: I cook pasta in a sauce pan some days. I think people who say they “read the book” and actually listened to the book on audio book as cheaters. I judge bike commuters who take the light rail train with their bikes. I think they might be fake bikers who have an unnaturally attachment to their bikes. My car happens to double as a trash can. Presently, my yard consists of more weeds than actual grass. Just a few reasons my angel wings will be traded for devil horns when I approach the pearly gates. Some might think the above list seems to be petty, but it all depends on if your God is a bit uptight. Mine is.

On most days, I try to live intending not to offend, insult, rub the wrong way, or even be seen. I like to go unnoticed and when I do go unnoticed, I consider this to be an accomplishment. I once was a member of a gym for 5 years, and for the first 4 years not one person ever acknowledged my existence. It was pure bliss. If I could have a super power, it would be invisibility.

What does my quest for invisibility have to do with going to Hell? They might be two different things, but I find that when I am more outgoing I tend to make horrific life choices and this impacts my express pass to Hell. So, I tend to keep to myself and enjoy time with my daughter, and by enjoy time I mean… corrupting my daughter ever so slightly.

She recently showed me a video of this parrot who would not say anything but, “Fucker”. I wasn’t even upset that Ella was listening to a bird saying a swear word. She hears much worse from her mother. But in all honesty it was the way the bird said the word that was funny, but not so much the word itself. I am assuming the bird was a He, because of his foul mouth. He, the bird, would string out the word like F..U..C..K..E…R… and he would almost whisper it. I, now, wake my daughter up in the mornings, some days, by standing outside her door, sticking my head in her room ever so slightly and whispering F..U..C..K..E..R. She’s a light sleeper in the mornings, so even a whisper wakes her up. We do giggle when I do this, but it doesn’t make it right. I am certain this will be on the list offenses that will keep me aglow in life after death.

On a recent trip to home, my sister was listening to David Sedaris on audio. I have already read everything that David Sedaris has written. My sister and I listened to a story, called “The Rooster”. If you haven’t “READ” this story it’s about David’s brother who swears a bunch all the time, but he also swears in normal conversation while talking with his father. I, of course, started mimicking David’s brother while talking to my sister for the rest of my time with her. It would go something like this, Bitch! You better drive safe, Mother Fucker! The main point of the sentence structure is it has to start with Bitch, and end with Mother Fucker…insert whatever you like in between.

Let’s fast forward to Easter Sunday. I received a Happy Easter text from my sister, so I naturally responded, Bitch! Happy Easter, Mother Fucker! I didn’t even think about my response until I noticed that my sister’s text was a group text. So, yes, my fate is sealed. I am absolutely headed to Hell. If I was teetering on the scale between Heaven and Hell, I believe that text just tipped the scale in a downward direction. My hair in that heat and humidity won’t be good.

So, where do I go from here? I will continue to judge myself harshly, grow more weeds than grass, cook in whatever pan might be clean, and use curse words because I find that they add a flare like a good accessory does to jazz up an outfit. And I will pack light for my afterlife, with only a bathing suit and flip-flops. This will allow more room in my bag for my anti-frizz hair products.

Snow More!

 

I was informed today that Portland just might get another snow storm. My former self loved snow. I would approach each Portland winter with my fingers crossed that we would get snow, since it is such a rare occurrence.  Most winters I would be disappointed with old man winter. If it did snow it would be less than an inch.  My daughter would attempt to sled on grass. I always would feel a bit sad for her thinking that playing in the snow was sledding on cold, muddy grass with a few icy snow flakes and making 6 inch high snow man was normal. However, this winter after a few ice storms, a BIG snow, and 9 snow days later from school…I can say my winter dream of participating in the precipitation is fulfilled. The groundhog’s prediction of six more weeks of winter is officially rejected, and I am not accepting its credentials of rodent to be enough to pass as a meteorologist.

In the past, I would have so much joy and anticipation at the thought of snow. Back in my college days, I would end up in bars if classes were cancelled (which was rare). To clarify, classes being cancelled was rare, me ending up in bar during a snow storm was not.  When I moved to Philadelphia, I would again end up in a bar with a nice fire place, when the city would shut down for snow. It was glorious to walk down the vacated city streets during a snow storm.  Then I moved to Portland, snow in the city was a rare event. It was so rare that when it would snow I would get the urge to throw in something a little special to my bar experience, maybe a strip club.  I can’t explain why naked ladies factor into my life when it snows, but it can’t be just me.

Today, I am so against the snow, I am willing to write the President to suggest he write an Executive Order forbidding a single snowflake from entering Portland for the rest of 2017. Otherwise, I believe I might be on the verge of a freak out.  It could be quiet, and on the inside maybe. My freak out might even be in the form of a twitch or a weird twinkle in my right eye.  Or it could be an epic tantrum, if I wake up tomorrow with snow on the ground and Portland Public calling snow day number 10.  I’m afraid even naked ladies won’t lift my spirits this time;)

 

2017, You Look Fabulous!!!

Every year, I promise not to make any New Year’s resolutions and stick
to the tried and true tradition of lowering my standards. By not
having high standards I tend to not get disappointed. So, every New
Year’s Eve I raise my glass and toast to even lower standards from
last year. One might think that I would be eating out of dumpsters and
drinking out of mud puddles by now, but I do draw the line at such
things. However, I wouldn’t decline a garbage bag full of the “it”
restaurant’s left overs that might be tossed in the trash anyway, but
that could be another story. My standards are low, but they have
served my easy going nature, and  my quest for nothing. However, 2016
has been a tough year to chew and swallow.

Last year, I did have an unspoken goal to compliment people. It
started off great. I paid a compliant to a co-worker, I really liked
her boots. From there, I thought that once a day I would compliment any random individual. I didn’t have to know the person, I just genuinely had to like something about them enough to compliment. Sounds easy enough, right?  Well, it lasted one day, and
then I lost my nerve. I am a bit introverted, so putting myself out there like that wasn’t the most comfortable. So, instead of expressing my likes at random strangers openly and out loud, I would compliment them “silently” in my own mind.

Hello there, you don’t know me, but I really like your shirt. Can you take it off, because I think I like your abs.  Okay, you might think that this compliment is
over the top, but they don’t know or hear the thoughts in my head, so
I could get down right creepy if I wanted. There is no need to judge.
Oh, hey random person, I love that sweater. Where did you get it? Can
I have it?  So, I silently complimented people’s hair, boots, eyes,
muscles, nails, choice of food, choice of partner, running gait…the
list is endless. I was like the Santa Claus of compliments. I got
really good at the mindful compliments, but never instituted the
actual appreciation out loud. I think of it as random thoughts of
kindness, but no action necessary. Perhaps, I am a apathetic
do-gooder.

The way 2016  is ending has made it extremely hard to keep up my
silent contribution to mankind, and leaves me looking forward to 2017.
I am tempted to not lower my standards, yet again, because I believe
that I just might be at my rock bottom of accepting crap and and
consuming it because it happens to be the same color as chocolate. I
was doing so well just accepting the cards that have been dealt, and
thinking that the outcome must be in someway the universe making
me payoff my karmic dept. I have a big one, it seems.  So, in 2017 I
will make goals, not resolutions. I will do things. Hell, I might even
decide to date and learn to fly a small plane.  I will also commit to
continuing my silent compliments of others, because it seems to work
for me. So, if you see me out and about and I’m staring at you
deeply, don’t fret. I might be complimenting you.

Jingle Hell

The day after Thanksgiving I was in my local coffee shop grabbing a quick cup of coffee while I was on my way to work. As I walked in the door, I was assaulted with Christmas music. I understand that it is customary for businesses, radio stations and really everybody to start to play Christmas music before the turkey is even cold. But as my ears were being raped with holiday cheer, my brain was trying to determine just how I was going to cope with this reality and how I was going to survive the next month. I already have a slough of self harming rituals that I perform on a weekly basis in order to continue to exist on this planet.  I’m not sure I can squeeze one more in my already full  daily schedule. It is a balancing act that includes  so many things that I could go on for days and days listing them one by one.  The one thing that my daughter pointed out that I have been doing unbeknownst to me is talking to myself, a shit ton….morning to night. I am not certain what I say to myself, but I think I mostly repeat, “Are you fucking kidding me? several times throughout the day, especially when I am looking in the mirror, but the mirror and the phrase are not mutually exclusive.

However, this Christmas music situation is adding a hint of desperation to my mood that I don’t remember being present in past holiday seasons.  I feel like someone who is allergic to the sun, like a vampire. But it’s not the sun, it’s festive melodies. I have a over the top reaction, like I just might die if I can’t make it stop. I find myself almost cursing at the tunes, like a irrational teen. If I hear Christmas music I must turn it off if I have the ability or flee from it if I have no power to quiet it down. I don’t believe I will have the mental fortitude to holiday shop in a public place this year. I might make it only 20 minutes before I am on the hunt for a sharp object to cut myself to relieve the heart crushing anger that this cheerful music stirs.  I know what you’re thinking, Christmas music and blood don’t go together, but I disagree. If I wear green and cut just a little, the blood, I think, will really put me in the holiday spirit.

I realize it’s not even December yet. I know that I haven’t begun to run this Holiday marathon. Oh, Sorry,  this Christmas marathon. I didn’t mean to offend any Christians out there. I believe that I might need to start a desensitization program to sink into this holiday season slowly, like I do when I take a nice warm bath.  My hope is that the music will start to resemble the  stifled moans that come from my cold dark heart, and I will disregard the music  like I do the moans and go about my normal day, numb and robotic. I want to approach the harmonized over-commercialized arrangements like I do with  people  I happened to know and whom I really don’t care for, or unpleasant medical procedures. For example, I recently got a shot of cortisone for a overuse injury. This was not something I liked, but I tolerated this just like I do when people talk to me in elevators about the weather or when strangers talk to me about their health conditions on public transportation.  I don’t like it, but I don’t get rabid. However, holiday music is my Achilles heel, the thing that makes me feel like Kirk Douglas in the movie, “Falling Down”. For now, I will just consider this a condition and will proceed with caution. If you happen to see me in the next 29 days and if you have a spare Xanax, feel free to slip it in my Christmas Stocking or directly into my  fancy holiday Starbucks cup.  Heck, I will even try to catch in my mouth, like a dog, if you throw it in air as an early Christmas present. I did put it on my Christmas list, but I believe that I didn’t make the cut on Santa’s nice list this year, so I am not holding my breath.