Clogged

During my therapy appointment the other week, Deb offered me an additional form of communication I was previously unaware of, in the form of encrypted e-mail messages.  The idea was for me to have an outlet of some sort as I deal with the emotional fallout of my recent…  can it really be called a “break-up”(?), with The Guy.

I didn’t take her up on it.  I mean I made it available to myself, but I never actually used it.  I didn’t know where to start.  I felt – I feel – compelled to make my writing logical, and fluid, with a clear beginning, a middle and an identifiable end.  It needs to be…  Entertaining seems like the wrong word…  But certainly it needs to be interesting.  It needs to hold the reader’s attention.  So I wrote a little bit here.  Targeted, specific stories to convey the strongest of my current emotions, and the utter defeat that I feel.  But I never wrote to Deb.  I thought about it a few times, but I just didn’t know what to say.  I have no idea how it works.  Would she respond to my e-mails?  Would it just be a dumping ground for all the crap that I’m thinking and feeling?  Would it result in stored up ammunition to use against me in our next session?

I have no one else to talk to…  The couple of people I started to talk to about this, gave me songs and dances and bubbled over with platitudes that don’t interest me in the slightest.  As I mentioned on my Facebook page (and then subsequently deleted)

“The next person who tells me how awesome / amazing / special I am and how lucky somebody is going to be, damn well better follow it up with a declaration of love, and gratitude for how lucky they feel to be that person.”

I’m absolutely sick and tired of being told how  great I am and that someday, somebody will want me.  All I hear is, “I’m sure there’s someone that would want you…  It’s not me, but there’s bound to be somebody somewhere…”  The fact that it took 38 years to find one person with whom I thought there was a real possibility (and proved to be dead wrong) would seem to suggest that, in fact, there might not be somebody somewhere who will want me.  I don’t think anyone has done me any favors by ignoring that fact and pretending everything is bound to be just hunky dory.

As it happens, there actually are a few other things going on in my life right now that don’t center around The Guy and the resultant breaking of my heart.  Admittedly, my broken heart and the litany of emotions that result from it (hurt, sorrow, anger, depression, resentment, jealousy, fear, loneliness, desperation….  Just to name a few) are highly prevalent in my mind and I do frequently come back to them.  But there are other things in my life, things that are affected by said broken-heart-induced hysteria.

In the meeting I had with my boss last week, the one in which she offered up a different (but equally problematic) cubicle for me to try on, she also told me that I really needed to think about whether this was the right job for me.  She said that I seem to get really frustrated a lot and…  Actually I don’t remember exactly what she said, but the implication was that I’m not being nice enough to people who come to my desk.  She asked me when I started, and when I reminded her of the date, she said, “Ok, so you’re about halfway through your process.”  We had been discussing the fact that I’m process oriented (something I was very clear about in my interview) and that we don’t have enough processes for how we get things done for people to know how to ask for things.  Process was, I’m quite certain, a misspoken word on her part.  She meant probation.  The organization where I now work has a six month probationary period.  And as much as I’d like to come up with a better explanation, I can think of only one reason for her to mention that in the context of that conversation.

Now, in addition to all those feelings I just listed above, I’m also feeling threatened, and vulnerable.  I suspect she is thinking about firing me, and my only option is to stuff down all my feelings and pretend that everything is great and wonderful in my life, and welcome each new frustration– er, interruption as if it’s the greatest thing that could have happened to me.  I’m supposed to never let on that anything is bothering me…  Even though, everyone else does at one time or another.

In a recent ill-fated text conversation with The Guy, he made a comment about me “snapping at folks”.  I don’t believe I am.  But if I am, I’m unaware of it.  What I am aware of, is that I’m struggling with a lot of negative emotions without possession of any coping skills to make it better, and in spite of that, I have been very deliberate about not taking that out on other people.  There was one instance when I vented some anger about a specific thing to but not at my manager, and I do admit that I was wrong about the thing I was angry about, and wrong to vent in that moment, but I also give myself credit for the fact that it was an isolated event (to my knowledge) and that I’ve actually done a pretty good job of containing my feelings…  Or so I thought.

But now I can’t help but wonder.  If my boss is telling me that I’m not being nice enough to people, and The Guy says I’m snapping at folks, and I’m not aware of it….  Well, what does that mean?

I admit that I’m not happy right now.  I have lots of very good reason not to be.  I also admit that I do not possess the proper coping skills to compartmentalize and separate my personal problems from my work life, which, admittedly, would be better.  But from where I’m sitting, there’s a huge difference between not being happy and bubbly when I talk to people, and being aggressively angry with them.  I am under a lot of pressure and stress right now.  I get that my stress is not someone else’s problem and I don’t mean to make it so.  But who is to say that “how can I help you” spoken without a smile is less appropriate than “how can I help you” spoken with one?  I may not be happy to speak to someone at any given moment, but I still give them my complete attention.  I still acknowledge and fulfill their request as efficiently as I can.

I’m actively searching for some affordable and feasible anger management or stress management programs.  I can, and might, write a whole separate post about the anger management thing.  It’s a very touchy subject that stirs up a lot of feelings on its own.  But if what I’ve been interpreting as emphatic passion, on my part, is being seen as anger to everyone else…  maybe that’s something I need to look at.  There’s no question that I experience a considerable amount of stress.  I imagine the two are related…  But it’s a lot harder than you might expect to find what I need, when I need it.

So, I’ve thought about writing e-mails to Deb…  multiple times.  But…  It’s like my fingers are a funnel.  They take the big, wide-mouthed vessel full of emotions,  a vat of roiling, battling, conflict, and as the emotions roll around and around in the vessel, making smaller and smaller concentric revolutions, they reach the narrow mouth of the funnel, only to find that they all want in at once.  And the battle is amplified there as everything tries to escape at once.

My funnel is clogged and I don’t know how to clear it all out.

Under the Rainbow

It’s funny how things can turn, almost on a dime.  I sat in Deb’s office last night, smiling and happy, and telling her about how much things seem to have changed over the last six weeks, since I started my new job.  I’m confident in my work.  I’ve had an easy time of making friends with the people who work around me.  (A bunch of us are going roller-skating after work in a couple weeks.)  I’m out to pretty much everyone, and comfortably so.  I’ve fairly well tolerated the inefficiencies and poor co-ordination of some things that go on there.  I’ve taken, relatively in stride, the fact that the things I believed to be the reason I was hired, my “expertise” in such things as moving large groups of people and managing all the issues that come with that, had been relatively ignored, due to the timing of my arrival.  (We were hip deep in a 60-person move when I started.)  I’ve met someone with whom I have a lot of chemistry and genuine, mutual attraction.  I’ve been relatively adept at letting the little things slide off my back.

Monday night at dinner with Lil’B, for reasons that are too random and confusing to explain, we began talking about Vincent van Gough and bipolar disorder.  One of the activities in the kids menu he still gets was to draw a picture of a character from the menu after they had just visited the Louvre and he decided he wanted me to draw the picture.  I’m not really sure how Vinnie came into the conversation, but as I was using one of the only two crayons they gave Lil’B to draw the picture, the yellow one (I held the red crayon in my other hand), I was telling him about my drawing, about the Louvre, and about Vincent van Gough.  I drew a living banana, with two twig legs, and a suit coat, with lapels and long sleeves.  He had a yellow face, with a protruding nose and he wore a monocle.  I told Lil’B about the emotional troubles that Vicente had and how unappreciated he had been because people couldn’t understand how he was so up one minute and so down the next.  We discussed the fact that he likely thought himself a terrible artist (something I learned form a little educational documentary I watch called Doctor Who).

The assignment was to draw the character right after they left the museum, so as I was putting the finishing touches on the picture, LIl’B asked me why I had used only the one crayon.  Just as I reached the point of telling Lil’B how in one of his fits of deep despair, van Gough had cut off his own ear, I switched to the red crayon and our debonair, snappily dressed, monocled banana-man suddenly gained a bloody gash on the side of the head where, once his little banana ear had been.  The boy in Lil’B thought that was pretty cool.  The innocent and naive young human being in him, the one who has never been exposed to the kind of emotional turmoil that Vincent van Gough went through said, “so he was crazy.”

As I was trying my best to explain to my young friend how, mental illness does not necessarily mean crazy, that there are plenty of people in the world who experienced these types of mental illness but who would not qualify as being “crazy” and that, in fact, I have struggled with depression, even during the time I have known him, but that I was not crazy, it occurred to me for the first time, that I was not depressed.  Not just that it was at bay.  Not just that it’s lingering in the shadows waiting to destroy me again.  For the first time since I could remember, I did not feel like I was struggling against Depression, working to keep it at bay all the while knowing that it was just over there, just beyond the great barrier waiting for my next moment of weakness, to take over.

I shared this with Deb last night.  But I tempered it by telling her, “I’m not dumb enough to say that ‘I’m cured’.  I think it’s dangerous to make such claims but right now, things are good.

And then today happened.

Only….  Nothing particularly special or significant happened, just a whole lot of little things.  I told a friend t0night, via text message, “I think I’m just having a moment.  Several things kinda crumbled (not caved, just crumbled) in on me this evening and I’m just trying to deal.

“I think I need a hug.  Well, a hug and some company and some comforting…”

A whole lot of little things piled up on me all at once, right around 5:00.  Because I’m now hourly, and didn’t get to work until around 9:00 this morning, I planned to stay until six…  I was there until 6:45.

At 5:00 the last two people in the immediate vicinity of my desk (two of the four-person Communications department – a group of people who communicate very effectively…  and frequently…  and from great distances…) left and I was alone to concentrate on whatever I needed to do.  It was then, in the deafening silence, filled only with the sound of the air conditioner kicking on and off, and my own addled thoughts rolling around in my skull, that I realized how much I had been struggling.  Not that the work is too hard, or that the people around me aren’t awesome, because it’s not and they really are, which thrills me.  It’s that with my particular set of circumstances (I was formally diagnosed with ADD six months ago) it can sometimes be really difficult for me to focus on what I’m trying to do.  Suddenly the list of things I needed to accomplish before the day was over was daunting.  Suddenly, I was overwhelmed by the knowledge that this is not a new predicament.  Suddenly, I was distraught, and even a bit angry, with what a mess my very small, very cramped, very not-my-own-private-office-like-I-had-for-8-1/2- years-at-my-last-job desk was.  Suddenly, I was upset that I feel like my talents are being wasted, because I spend at least half of most days processing and delivering mail and packages (something that was not discussed as being part of my duties in my interviews or hiring process); all day every day subject to the random whims of our customers who don’t have any means of requesting things other than approaching my boss and me directly and interrupting whatever we happen to be in the middle of; and the other half of most days struggling to concentrate on what I’m doing over the constant bombardment of voices.  It’s not that they’re not talking about work, because they generally are.  And it’s not that they’re not friendly people, because they definitely are.  In fact, it might be easier if they weren’t, because then I wouldn’t want to be part of the conversation and I do.  Which makes it a complete distraction.

I sat at my desk, organizing, as best I could and growing more and more frustrated by the limitations that I have in my ability to do my best work and the list of projects that have been asked of me, that I simply can not get to because I’m overwhelmed with the little stuff that in the short term is high priority to people as they request it.  I spent half an hour, trying to get some semblance of control over the situation.  I got rid of some clutter.  I sort out and filed my e-mails so only current and relevant things were in my in-box.  I made a to do list for Monday, and I cleared my white board and made three columns on it: one for daily responsibilities, one for short-term projects and one for long-term projects.  I put completion percentages next to each project and put a sad face next to the 0% complete for the Emergency Response Team development project that is currently at the very bottom of my list of priorities, even though I would like it to be at the top.  Finally, I packed up and walked out for the night, despairing with the knowledge that I must talk to my manager on Monday about finding a way to mitigate some of these issues.  I need to ask her for somewhere else for me to sit.  A desk that will be quiet enough for me to focus on my work when I’m able to be at my desk doing it and which will take me away from the noisy, but fun Communications group and “the guy”, because I can’t get any work done when they’re around, and knowing fully that there’s a very good chance that there will be no where for me to move.

I drove home thinking about “the guy”.  Which, to be fair, is probably overselling it a bit.  The truth is there’s been little more than the two of us circling around each other, and around the idea of becoming an us, which I suppose makes him more of “A guy” and not so much “The guy”.  I’m frustrated.  I know what I want…. I think.  But I can’t figure out what he wants.  And every time we talk and I just about have him opened up and ready to be forthcoming he dodges and I’m left in the dark again.  He’s an expert at avoidance and if I didn’t understand it so well, I’d probably be pretty pissed, but I do, so I’m not.  I’m just annoyed that we haven’t managed to work through it yet.  I was feeling disappointed about his lack of response to a text message I had sent, and about the fact that, while he acknowledges that there is “unfinished business” between us, he has not made any moves to finish the business, and when I do, he just avoids.

And I realized I was feeling really lonely and low, and that if I could just hang out with somebody and talk about it I might feel better.  I reached out to three different people including The Guy via text, just really needing a bit of interaction, period.  None of them responded to me.  One still hasn’t.  One responded within an hour of my text but didn’t offer much in the way of comforting or consolation.  And The Guy finally acknowledged my first text hours after I sent it, but disappeared pretty quickly after.  All of which is to say that I’m absolutely giving them the benefit of the doubt.  It is after all Friday night.  Most people have social lives on Friday night.  Just because I don’t, doesn’t mean people are obligated to respond.  I realized that I’ve only had one person extend an invitation to me in months, while I’ve extended a number of invitations, most of which have been turned down.  And now I’m wondering what’s so wrong with me that people only want to be my work acquaintances but not my friends and, apparently, not my boyfriend.

I’ll get over it, like I always do.  But still, not exactly the smiling, happy go lucky, better than I’ve been for a while, guy I was last night.

Also, right in the middle of writing this post, and when The Guy finally got around to responding to my texts, my Internet crapped out due to an outage in the area…  When it rains it pours…

Processing

I had an interesting conversation with Deb today and I’m still trying to process it.  Bear with me if this is a little weird.  Unheard of on this blog, I know!

Something happen last week that I’m undecided how to feel about/deal with.  I accidentally sent an instant message to K, that was supposed to go to Karin.  This wouldn’t necessarily be a big deal, except the message was about K and out of context, it was somewhat hurtful.

K has a habit of coming and standing in my office doorway and talking.  Once in a while, and with a reason, I do not mind this, but it has a tendency to happen frequently and for no purpose AND at the most personally inconvenient times, like when I’ve got a blog post to write, or a manuscript to edit.  Occasionally it even happens when I’m working on my paying job.  Sometimes she’ll stand and talk to me.  Sometimes she’ll stand there and read her twitter and make passing comments about what she sees there.  There I sit with my hands on my keyboard and my eyes on my computer screen and she’ll just talk.  It distracts me from what I’m doing and serves no other purpose.

As it happens, this particular day K started talking about sopapillas and pita bread SOPA/PIPA.  I had just finished telling her that the more I heard people talking about them, the less I cared to know what they were really about.  Somehow this translated to her as, “Please explain to me why I should care about SOPA/PIPA.” and I admit that I was becoming angry.

So there I was, trying to work on something on my computer, with K in my doorway telling me about SOPA/PIPA while I tried very hard not to listen to her, not to engage with her in any way, hoping she’ll take the hint and go away when suddenly Karin pops up on my screen in an instant message.  I don’t really even know what the instant message said, I just know that it was a bit confusing and I didn’t understand the message.  I couldn’t focus on reading it and understanding it because K was distracting me.  I responded to Karin:

“Sorry, I didn’t understand that and I can’t focus on figuring it out because K is in my office talking to me, AGAIN!”

“This is so funny to me,” Karin said, “I can’t figure out if you like her or don’t like her.”

“I like her,” I answered, “for the most part.”

“OK.”

I got side tracked because K said something that ticked me off about SOPA/PIPA and I couldn’t keep from responding to it.  I went back to my computer and I typed, “We have a tumultuous history and as a result I feel the need to keep her at a safe distance.  I just don’t understand why she feels the need to come in to my office, uninvited and talk, when I’m so obviously trying to work.  ‘Work.'”

Karin didn’t respond.  A few minutes later, K finally gave up her lecture and returned to her desk at which point she said, “I think you meant to send that message to someone else.”  Yep.  I accidentally sent that message to K instead of to Karin.  I didn’t get embarrassed.  I didn’t say anything that wasn’t true and that she didn’t already know.  But I feel badly that K got her feelings hurt and that was not my intention.  I really do care about that and would have preferred that it not happen.  I rationalized it all; she’s reading one part of the conversation out of context and she isn’t bothering to find out more.  The behavior that led to that comment was unreasonable and she shouldn’t have been doing it in the first place. 

I also took some responsibility for my actions and my part in the equation.  If I wanted her to go away, I should have said so.  I can’t expect people to read my mind and if I don’t say what I want I can’t expect people to know.

And then I rationalized it some more.  K is an emotionally erratic person who doesn’t handle perceived rejection and negative communication very well.  If I had asked her to leave she wouldn’t have taken it very well and she would have gotten upset and made everyone miserable because of it.

This led me to realize that I have been taking the wrong approach, not just in my relationship with K, but in a lot of ways, to the idea of only controlling what I can.  In life, we can only control ourselves and our own actions and reactions.  It seems so elementary now, but in my early days of therapy this was a flat-out revelation to me.  The problem is, I think I’ve been going about it wrong.  In an effort to control how I react to situations, I’ve been trying to control the situations.  It is, after all, easier to not react to something negative, if the something negative doesn’t happen in the first place.  If I can prevent someone from getting upset and making everyone around them miserable, then the environment won’t become unpleasant and won’t negatively impact me… right?  Right?

This situation has helped remind me that I want to be a person who is able to be direct and honest with people (kindly, of course) regardless of how the person will receive it.  The thing is, though, when I’m direct and honest with a person I want it to serve a purpose.  I want it to achieve the outcome I was hoping for.  I want the person to retain the information and not have to be told again.  When that doesn’t happen it’s very disappointing and frustrating to me.  It makes me want to give up on the person and stop being direct and honest… only, I suppose the only one suffering then, is me.

I guess I still have a lot to learn…

Busy Stay-Cation

I usually make the excuse that I write at work because I’m there so much and I have no time for writing at home…  That sounds nice, but since I’ve been off work since December 23rd and I didn’t write a thing between December 22nd and really, yesterday, that’s not much of an excuse.  You’d think there would have been many blog posts during this stay-cation.

This has been one of the best vacations I’ve had in a while, I mean, you know, for not having gone anywhere.  I received an infusion of cash (insurance reimbursement for my therapy bills) just as this stay-cation was beginning which enabled me to comfortably purchase Christmas gifts for all the people on my list to buy gifts for; fancy coffee for my mother, A GPS for Michelle, an Afterglow PS3 controller for Lil’B as well as art supplies for his birthday (which is 12/31), a cordless drill for my oldest niece (this is what she wanted.  Don’t judge me.), a horse game for my second niece and a little plush, radio control fire truck for my nephew.  Everything arrived on time and was properly distributed.  As far as I know everyone appreciated their gifts.  I was concerned that the art supplies would pale in Lil’B’s eyes compared to the controller, but he said he was excited about the art supplies.

I have spent a lot of time at home during this stay-cation, which is fine ’cause it was kind of the plan.  Stay home, clean, organize, generally get things in better shape.  I haven’t accomplished nearly as much as I had hoped I would, but I’ve gotten a lot done and I’m quite happy about hat.  One of my Christmas gifts to myself is something I’ve wanted for a long time but just didn’t convince myself to spend the money on.  I decided recently that I was determined to get the item and so when I got the cash infusion, I took my 20% off coupon and headed right out to Bed, Bath and Beyond where I bought a Roomba, robot vacuum cleaner.

You guys! I’m so glad I bought this thing and I wish I had gotten it a long time ago!  It’s awesome!  It does a very effective job and it requires almost no effort on my part.  I say almost, because I do have to empty the little bin pretty much every day and I do have to push the button to turn it on…  Well I don’t have to.  There is an auto start feature, I just haven’t enabled it.  I also have to make sure there is nothing on the floor to get in its way.  This thing is surprisingly assertive and I have found that I have to make sure that all cords and cables are well out of the way or it will run over them and cause problems.  Though it is smart enough to stop running before it gets too tangled up in something, it will try a bit to vacuum the thing up, before it gives up.  My biggest fear was that it would not be able to get over the lip into the kitchen, which is the messiest room because that’s where the cat litter is, but the Roomba jumps the curb like it’s no big deal.  The other concern I had was how Mischa would react to it.  He has always been afraid of vacuum cleaners and whenever I would turn one on, he would run and hide behind a chair or something.  He doesn’t seem overly concerned about the Roomba which is louder than I had hoped, but far and away quieter than any manual powered vacuum I’ve ever owned.  What’s really funny is that the Roomba, which has a built-in extra-dirt-detection sensor, seems to identify Mischa as a pile of extra dirt and it routinely targets him and heads straight toward him.  Mischa, being the mental giant that he is, just stands there until the Roomba actually bumps into him and then he acts indignant that it came after him.  Roomba has a little side brush which is designed to brush debris away from walls and out into it’s path.  Sometimes this side brush will bump against Mischa’s feet and then he tries to pounce on the brushes.  It’s really quite funny.  But I can run the Roomba everyday without causing any great turmoil for Mischa and that’s what I wanted, so I’m really quite thrilled with my purchase and wish I had done it long ago!  Now I really want a Scooba.  It’s made by the same people and it’s designed to wash hard floors.  The problem is, it says it’s safe on “sealed hardwood floors” and I’m sure mine is not sealed.  Bummer!

 

Michelle had a “lounge” party, on Christmas Eve at her apartment.  She insists it was always a lounge party (wear lounge pants and t-shirts) but her sister kept calling it a pajama party and I swear Michelle called it a pajama party the first time she mentioned it to me.  I pointed out that I don’t wear pajamas and that no one wants to see that, and that’s when she started calling it a “lounge” party.  It was a nice time.  Her three-year-old great-nephew was there and Michelle handed him my Christmas present and asked him to bring it to me.  Somehow, between that time and the time he handed it to me, the paper… ahem… fell off the gift.  She gave me a heated mattress pad, which is something I had been wanting for a while, only, you know how when you build something up in your mind and it’s going to be so wonderful and then you actually get the thing and it can’t live up to the expectations you built…  Yeah, that.  I felt badly ’cause I want to take it back, but I didn’t want to hurt Michelle’s feelings.  When I got over to her house this past Friday to do my laundry (since Saturday was New Year’s Eve) she was in the process of repackaging the one she had bought for herself to take it back.  She didn’t like it.  She let me off the hook and told me that I could return the one she got me if I wanted.  I told her I would probably do that and that I’d bring it back to her (since she had the receipt) and she could take it back and get me something else and wrap it up for me, and then maybe I’ll get to open MY OWN Christmas present.

 

I took Lil’B to Benihana for his Birthday dinner…  Actually it was kind of confusing. I took him, on December 26th and I told him, this is a special dinner to celebrate his Birthday, where he will get his Christmas present, and then at the next dinner on January 2nd, he would get his Birthday present.  I hadn’t been to  a Benihana in many years and while I knew it was a lot of fun, I also thought I remembered that it was a long and drawn out affair so I made reservations for 5:00.  He was out of school so it wasn’t a school night, but I figured we shouldn’t be out too late.  Dinner was over at 6:50 and Lil’B didn’t want to go home yet.  I called his mother and got her blessing and we went to a movie after dinner.  I got to take him to one of my favorite Movie Theaters.  It’s just and AMC theater, but it’s in the middle of San Francisco and it’s in an old building they renovated.  It’s a 12 screen cinema, but there are only four theaters to a floor, and there are three levels of theaters.  Since they are stadium seating, each theater is two stories, so this building is about 8 stories tall and I just find it fascinating.

We saw Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked.  This movie was horrendous!  I mean, truly, truly, terrible!  Now I know, this movie is not geared toward my age group, but I thoroughly enjoyed the first two so it was sadly disappointing to me that I didn’t like this one as much, but on the plus side, there was a moment in this wretched movie that actually made Lil’B laugh out loud and if you’ve been coming around here long, you know what an accomplishment that is.  I’d sit through it again just to hear that!

The next day, I went to therapy, did a little shopping and went over to hang out with my friend Karin and her two kids.  I ended up staying through dinner and had a nice time.  She introduced me to some fancy operations that my iPhone is capable of and I wasn’t even aware… Giving me pause to consider the value in some new equipment purchases.  I’ll have to give that some thought.

 

Friday I went to Michelle’s house to do my laundry and hang out.  I got there early and after I started my first load, she and her great-nephew and I went to breakfast.  The boy was quite rambunctious and energetic.  It was fun though.  He runs kind of hot and cold when it comes to me, well, anyway, hot and luke warm.  Apparently, since he was a baby baby, I’m the only male, outside his immediate family that he would let hold him.  Other men would pick him up and he’d immediately squirm and cry and want to get away and with me, he was fine.  Now that he’s a little older and has a personality, he doesn’t dislike me, but he often doesn’t want to engage with me.  But this day, as soon as I walked in he was all over me, asking me questions and talking to me and wanting to sit with me.  It was almost too much, but it was still nice to see.

 

I’ve mentioned in the past how I do not want to be home on New Year’s Eve.  My mother never went anywhere or did anything and all we ever did was sat in the living room and watch TV.  Theoretically, watching “the ball drop” only my mother was forever surfing channels trying to get away from all that horrible secular music that was always on the network shows.  We would watch something from Washington, DC on PBS, which was always live and therefore an hour early, plus fireworks on TV just do not have the same effect.  From 11:00 to 11:58:30 she would surf around trying to find something that wasn’t rock and roll music and then at the last second (sometimes after the last second) turn the TV to one of the networks.  We’d say “happy new year” and then go to bed.  I swore that when I had it in my own power I was not just going to sit around at home on New Year’s Eve.  This has proven to be problematic from time to time because I hate crowds too, but I make the best of it.

In years past I’ve gone out of town for New Year’s Eve spending a few days in another place away from home and with more excitement than I’ve got here.  Most of the time, New Year’s Eve was just the excuse I needed to go on a trip, but I still enjoyed myself.  I’ve been to Las Vegas a couple of times, Los Angeles a couple of times, Reno a couple of times.  Last year we got a room a the Embarcadero Hilton in San Francisco and had a really lovely evening, but it ended up costing as much as a three night trip out of town.  This year, Michelle and I had 10:00 reservations at a restaurant called Skates on the Bay, which is, as you might imagine, on the San Francisco Bay.  I had never been, though Michelle had a couple of times.  The plan was to have dinner and then stroll out side to the water front where we would watch the fireworks from San Francisco at midnight.  In an all too familiar scene, Michelle was in the bathroom at midnight and I stood by the windows of the restaurant where we had JUST gotten our check and watched the fireworks by myself (le sigh).  It’s okay.  This is kind of terrible for me to say, but I feel like midnight on New Year’s Eve is a moment that, ideally should be shared romantically and I don’t have any romantic feelings for Michelle, maybe being alone at that moment was better.  The fire works display was nice, though I feel like it looses some of its splendor when you can’t hear, and just as importantly, feel them.  The display was the same one we watched last year, which means it was shot off from a barge outside the San Francisco Ferry Building, about six and a half miles away.  I’m always caught a little by surprise at how small they are from what seems like such a short distance.

After dinner, I took Michelle back to her sister’s house, dropped her off and came home.  I would have liked to have been somewhere else for a little vacation and I got a wild idea that may not really be financially feasible that I’d really like to go to Australia for next New Year’s Eve, but as long as my 19 1/2 year old cat is with me, that can’t happen.

Last night was another dinner with Lil’B.  We went to a local place I’d never been to called The South Shore Cafe.  It was very ordinary, but it was something new for both of us and I’m trying to expose him to new things, so it was fun.  We talked a little bit about his birthday.  He said he couldn’t remember what kind of cake he had but that it had Oreos on it.  I asked him if they had ice cream and he said no, so I had to rectify the no birthday ice cream problem.  We went to a local ice cream shop called Loard’s (I learned it is supposed to be pronounced “Lo-ard’s” as it is a compilation of the two founders last names.)  Loard’s is a 100% local company that makes its own ice cream in a local factory and it was really quite good.  When I was looking at the flavors on the board I was caught by surprise and was a little grossed out by “Avocado flavor” but I had to taste it.  It was surprisingly good, although, honestly, it tasted mostly like Vanilla.

 

This morning I had an orthodontist appointment, I wasn’t holding my breath, though I was hoping today would be the big day.  No such luck.  In fact based on the conversation I had today with “Dr. Jeff”, (I always wondered how the staff differentiated between the father and the son, now I know) it looks like two to three more months.  The day Dr. Jeff put them on he told me 12-18 months, this is the 13th month.  On the plus side though, I paid my final payment today and have one few debts hanging over my head! Yay!

 

Tonight I have dinner with an old friend of mine, and tomorrow Michelle and I are going, over-night, to Cache Creek Casino and Resort.  It’s an Indian run casino about 90 minutes north of here.  We’ll go and play for the afternoon, then spend the night in a hotel room, have breakfast and head back.  That’s about as long as I can leave Mischa on his own since he’s confined to the cage and he eats canned food, but it’ll be nice to get a little tiny break anyway.

 

*Oh by the way, I guess I’m supposed to say that despite my glowing report (and despite the two additional people I’ve about talked into it – my mother says I should get a commisison) I am not being compensated in anyway by Roomba, or Bed Bath and Beyond or any other products or merchants I may have mentioned here…  Dammit.

Sometimes Things Happen.

Sometimes things are going to happen.

Sometimes things might happen.

Sometimes?  Sometimes things don’t happen at all, or, at least, not the way they are planned.

Actually, it’s usually that last one, but that’s not what I’m thinking about.

Sometimes, I plan to write about something, but I want to wait until the thing happens, or until the thing is over and the whole story exists to be told.  And then because I want to wait to talk about the thing, THE THING is all I can think about.  Any and all other THINGs are absent from my mind when I’m trying to think of something to write about and then I go days and days without writing anything…

And then THE THING happens, and I’m too busy to write about it and it never gets written about anyway.

Sometimes, the thing that I’m thinking about – and by “thinking”, I think it safe to say, I mean “obsessing” – is something that, maybe, I shouldn’t write about at all.

~~~~~

I am, apparently, an inherently negative person.  I know, that’s shocking!  Apparently, it comes with, or is the cause of, or is in some way or other partnered with clinical depression to be, well, not negative, exactly, but fatalistic? negativistic? doomsday thinking?  I’m not sure really…

Three weeks ago, I went for my regular therapy appointment.  I sat down on the couch and I said something like this:  “So!  I’m sure this is completely inappropriate, but who cares.  And I’m sure you’re going to say, ‘no’, but I figure it can’t hurt…  But you can say no.  It’s OK.  But anyway…  I’m having a birthday party next Saturday and I would be glad for you to come.  You know.  If you wanted.”  (There’s nothing like being clear and concise and confident… And that was nothing like it.)

She said no, of course.  And I wasn’t the least bit surprised.  She said something along the lines of it being something she can’t do in her role in our relationship and then she wanted to talk about what it would be like for me if she were there among my friends.  I admitted that it would be a little strange and while I trusted that she had the good sense not to say the wrong thing I did wonder how she would handle the “So, how do you know Kevin?” question.  I told her that while our relationship is different from any of my other relationships, she knows me better than pretty much anyone else that would be there (including Michelle really).  And while our relationship is, by design, kind of one-sided, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to extend the invitation.

She told me, as I knew she would, that she could not attend the party, but that she definitely wanted to hear about it when we met again, which would be after the party.  Our conversation revealed that this was my first ever birthday party, that I’ve never had one before because my family didn’t do birthday parties, and as an adult I didn’t believe I had anyone to invite and/or that anyone would show up if I did.  She thought the fact that I was having the party was a good thing, some sort of progress for me, but also an opportunity for a lot of anxiety, and these “feelings” she keeps talking about, to come up and so she would want to know about the party afterward.

Last week I went in, sat down, took a deep breath and she asked me, “So tell me about the party.”  We talked in great detail about the party.  What went on.  Who was there.  The good turn out of people (about 15.)  The interactions.  The conversations.  The music (I made an iTunes playlist.)  The cake.  I also told her about the myriad disappointments that occurred.  All the people who never acknowledged the Evite.  The number of people who declined the invitation.  The handful of people who I really wanted to be there who weren’t.  The deviled eggs that I looked forward to for two weeks which got knocked over on the way to the party and were inedible.

Deb had a number of favorable comments that, proof-in-the-puddin’, I don’t remember, about my handling of the situation and the “progress I have made” and I, of course, discounted most of what she had to say.  She told me that she had all this confidence and faith in me and my ability to do… whatever, and I keep telling her “I can’t”.

I asked, “I said ‘I can’t?'”  (I didn’t say I can’t.)

“Well, OK.  Not, ‘I can’t’.  ‘Yeah, but'”, she told me.  (Yeah, that I said… a lot.)

I don’t know why I’m predisposed to seeing the negative side of everything.  I mean, I know we all do that to some extent, but it seems like most people at least see things equally positive and negative.  My birthday party post was so short, with just the pictures, largely because, as fun as it was and as much as I enjoyed the people that were there, I couldn’t think of anything to say besides “I wish that…”

What I wish, is that I was less like that and more able to take things as they come.  I wish I was more confident and able to feel good about myself, who and what I am, without constantly having to worry about what other people are going to think.

~~~~~

This week-end, I found out something.  Something that I already suspected.  Something that doesn’t surprise me, and yet blew me away.  And something about which, despite all the reasons I should feel differently…

Michelle’s nephew Curtis graduated from High School on Friday.  His Graduation was Friday, Saturday I went to Michelle’s for my bi-weekly laundry extravaganza.  Saturday night, Michelle’s family had a barbecue to celebrate Curtis Graduation.  And on Sunday, at the butt-crack– actually, before the butt-crack of dawn, Michelle flew to Tulsa (with strict instructions NOT to call my mother) for two weeks, for work.  When I arrived at Michelle’s house on Saturday she told me that she would be leaving me to go to the Barbecue and asked if I was going to come over when I finished my laundry.  I asked her who was going to be there.  If they were having a party for Curtis and his just-graduated-from-high-school friends, I wasn’t interested, but if it was a family thing than I would try to stop by.

Michelle told me, “I think it’s just going to be family.  Maybe one or two of his friends will stop by.  I think Jonathan will be there.”

I enjoy every opportunity I get to torment Michelle because deep down inside I am an evil bastard.  I asked, “Who’s Jonathan?  Is that his boyfriend?”

While continuing to stir the shrimp scampi she was making, part of our traditional, Kevin’s-birthday-meal, she chuckled and said, “yeah.  Sort of.  Until he upgrades.”

Did anyone else just hear the record screech to a halt?  No?  That was just me?  OK.  Moving on.

I let it go for a few minutes so we could finish the conversation we were having.  and then I asked her to clarify.  “So…  Were you just…  going along with what I said?  Or is Jonathan actually Curtis’s boyfriend?  Is he really gay?”

I used to jab at Michelle every so often with the idea that Curtis was gay.  I’ve suspected it since I met him – when he was four years old.  Michelle always got defensive and said he wasn’t, which is what made it so fun, naturally.  Once gain, evil bastard!  Now she’s talking about it like it’s not big deal, which so help me, it shouldn’t be, but daaaamn!

Apparently Curtis and Jonathan have known each other for years.  Curtis was in a special program at his high school that’s geared toward performing arts and not to invoke the stereotype, but there’s a reason why stereotypes exist.  Curtis, purports himself to be “bisexual”, but like so many people (especially gay men), I’m not sure I believe such a thing exists.

So here’s the part I should be ashamed of…

Curtis is 17.  He’ll be 18 in August.  Already at 17, he’s figured out (or thinks he has) that he’s “bisexual”.  Already at 17, he’s got a boy friend.  At 36, I’ve never had a boyfriend.  Already at 17, he’s come out to his family, and apparently had no qualms about doing so.  At 36, I’m pretty sure I’ll never come out to my family.

So I’ll admit it…  Yes, I’m jealous, or maybe envious, is the right word.  Is there really a difference?

If I weren’t an inherently negative person, then surely I would see how wonderful all of that is.  I would be proud of him for not denying himself.  I would be happy for him that he had the strength and the courage to come out to his family.  I would be proud of his family for creating an environment where he could come out and for being so accepting of and loving to him.

I would be.

Oh, wait…

What’s So Bad About Being Alone Anyway?

I had my bi-weekly therapy appointment today.

It never ceases to amaze me how some weeks I feel worse when I leave than I did when I got there.  It’s not always like that, but sometimes it is, and today was one of those times.

Our conversation started out awkward as I told her I wouldn’t be able to pay her until our next visit.  Too many automatic bills on the same payday as my rent is due.  It’s out of my hands… Only it’s not really, but I don’t know how to control it… yet.  I couldn’t help feeling like — I don’t know what, really.  Deb said it was almost like I was afraid I was going to get into trouble.  Maybe she’s right, I don’t know.

It’s not like she has to worry.  She knows I’ll pay her for both sessions next time.  It’s happened a few times before when the timing was bad and I’ve always made good on my bill.  I’ve never given her any reason to worry that I’ll skip out on her.  I feel guilty though, because she’s self-employed and relies on the payments from her– what am I a patient?  A client?  I don’t really even know.  But I can only assume that, unlike me, she is not living paycheck to paycheck.

I don’t know.  Maybe I wanted her to tell me exactly how this would affect her, or more specifically, how it would not affect her.  Maybe I wanted her to let me off the hook when in truth, I’m the one who had me on the hook in the first place.

From there our conversation turned to my relationship with money and what I lacked growing up and my need to fill the void.  I talked for a bit about the financial lack I grew up with and how earlier in my adult life (not so terribly long ago at all, actually) I had a bad habit of frivolously spending money and then not having enough for the things for which I needed it.  I’ve made significant improvements in that respect; thinking carefully about how and on what I’m spending my money and whether or not it’s worth the expense, whether I can truly afford it.  I’ve learned a lot and done a much better job of controlling my finances each pay period and what I’ve learned is that I now need to work on effectively managing my money on a monthly basis, carrying over funds from one pay period to the next as needed to cover expenses that the next check won’t be big enough to cover.

This whole being a grown-up thing kinda sucks.  I really hate “I can’t afford it” being the thing that holds me back, the thing that keeps me from doing what I want to do.  But it is and it does.  Being a grown-up kinda sucks.

Then Deb said she felt like we weren’t just talking about money, lacking material things.  She thinks there’s a relevant connection between the lack of material goods that I’m apparently trying to make up for (or at least I was) and the lack of emotional provisions I grew up with.

This is an old song, and if you’ve heard it before, please forgive me and skip down a few paragraphs.  But here’s the thing.  My parents split up when I was two years old.  I’m the youngest of three with a sister three years older and a brother five years older than I am.  My Father cheated on my Mother and ultimately left us for the other woman.  I saw him on two week-ends a month (sometimes less) and the other two watched him come to the house and take away one of my siblings and leave me behind.  (He thought he was doing a good thing by spending one week-end alone with each of us, and then the fourth one with all three.)

My mother was clinically depressed and had nothing to give her children in the form of emotional support or availability.  She didn’t manage her money well and left her family lacking in material possessions and good food on a regular basis.  She was always “too tired” to deal with her children.  She never helped with homework, she never “played” with her children.  She never even wanted to listen to us.  Oh, I could tell you stories about her inability to be available, but suffice it to say, she wasn’t emotionally available and she wasn’t paying attention enough to know what that was doing to her children.

My brother hated me.  He used to beat me regularly.  The world is a different place now, but if we were kids today, we’d have been separated and taken out of my mother’s home by now.

My sister and I got along OK, but she’s three years older and there came a time when she was more interested in teenager things, and her friends outside of the home, than she was in me.

I was unpopular and relentlessly teased in elementary and middle school.  And in middle and high school, my mother never approved of the people who actually did want to be my friends.  She wouldn’t let me go out with my friends.  She’d yell at me to get off the phone with them after 15-20 minutes. And they couldn’t understand what the situation was.  Eventually, she drove a wedge between me and each of them, until being my friend was just too much trouble for them to go to.

I was alone all the time, even in a room full of people.  It sucked, but I got used to it.

I truly believe I have worked through most of the anger and pain that I felt for so long over the lack of emotional connections growing up.  But despite working through those things, I don’t know how to “undo” the damage.  I’m working from a deficit, here.  I don’t know how to do emotional connections and I’m not at all convinced that it’s worth learning, even if I could.

I told Deb, “I don’t know how to fix that ‘lack.’  I don’t have any control over that, so I just focus on what I can control; money, things.”

And then we stared at each other for several agonizing seconds, like we were in some sort of Mexican stand-off.  Maybe I was trying to convince her, maybe she was waiting for me to reconsider.

People are so afraid of being alone.  They’re so afraid to be alone that they’ll stay in bad relationships, years after they’ve stopped being any value at all.  People hop into bed with the first person who shows interest in them, all in the name of emotional connection; trying to fill the void of love left by their parents or other significant figures.  Only it never works and people hop out of that bed and into the next one, over and over, just trying to find something that can’t be found in the first place, and for what?  So that they won’t be alone?

But I’m used to being alone and it’s not so bad.  I’ve got no one to answer to. No one to fight for the remote, or argue over what shows to watch.  No one to clean up after.  No one to be dissatisfied with how much, or how well, I clean up after myself.  No one to hog the covers at night or squirm in the bed while I’m trying to sleep.  No one taking up space in the closet or dresser.  I go where I want to go, do what I want to do, watch what I want to watch, listen to what I want to listen to.  I deal with my own problems and I don’t have to listen to anyone else’s.

So really!  What’s so bad about being alone, anyway?