weekends and mornings

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It’s only 7 am and I’m doing something that requires thought and coordination and the desire to be alive. Typically at this hour I’m a suicide risk. Just another change in my life recently, maybe it’s part of growing older. Like maybe this is the first step towards waiting in life at the Old Country Buffet at 5 am, like in that South Park episode. My personal explanation is that life is fun these days, and I’m excited to be awake.

Most recently, while living in Owings Mills, I used to ride the train downtown to the office. Almost every morning I would be nauseous, weak, nearly ready to call in sick. At some level, I hated being there just that much, that my body waged a small annoying rebellion. Fridays were my favorite days, not because of proximity to the weekend, but because on Friday it feels like I have three days to catch up with life instead of feeling behind. Friday, I was already concerned about Monday and Tuesday. I’ve heard a lot of people get the Sunday evening dreads, minor depression or anxiety at the end of the weekend. I got that feeling Friday mornings, and it ruined my weekends.

For the first time that I can recall , I’m always looking forward to going home from work. The weekends feel like week long vacations. The mornings are considerably less horrible, and sometimes quite pleasant. I’m sitting here right now, with a smoothie and a cup of tea, about to go outside on the porch and stretch for a few minutes. Who is this person who doesn’t feel anguish at all times before noon?

Thoughts about coffee

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There are these interesting moments where I become conscious of how much I have changed as a human being. In those moments, my reactions range from, “isn’t it interesting that I drink coffee now?” to “who the hell is this stranger that needs to drink coffee every morning!?”

So yeah, actually coffee is a great example. Up through college even, I always thought it was stupid and tasted horrible. When I started my first grown up job, I went to Starbucks once a week on Wednesdays. I would get a medium mocha, and spend all morning drinking it slowly, savoring the bitter chocolate taste.

When I came back from my summer working in Europe, I uhhh… everything was different. I moved closer to the office. I started treating myself to breakfast ‘out’ every morning in a vain attempt to make mornings slightly more tolerable. Eventually, there was a week where I had breakfast at the new Starbucks on Charles Street every morning.

Maybe a month later I was hospitalized. I lost some weight quickly which temporarily increased my sensitivity to, well everything, but especially foods with sugar and caffeine. In the partial hospitalization program, I practiced awareness of my body and my reactions; I learned how the stimulant helped my depression but exacerbated my anxiety.

I still drink coffee almost every day now. I’m convinced that it’s starting to taste good, but I think that maybe the horrible taste maybe makes life more bearable. Like, no matter how bad I feel in the morning, at least not everything feels as bad as coffee tastes. Spreadsheets are pleasant compared to the taste of coffee. Good thing I’m not in marketing or sales.

I have a grinder and a set of little containers for my ground and un-ground coffee beans. I have a system, an efficient method for getting my press ready, with my kitchen timer set for 3 or 4 minutes depending on how long I stirred  the hot water or whether I think I used more or less beans. It’s a cute little ritual, but it also feels a little like slavery.

So I got distracted and I’m not really interested in fleshing out this idea anymore right now. I’m telling myself that this doesn’t have to be perfect today. I can write more about this later.

 

There’s a BEAR in my brain.

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Motivation and inspiration are strange creatures and I suspect that there is also some sort of conservation principle at work. I mean it really feels like when I have the ideas, I’m not prepared to use them, but then when I feel as though I should accomplish something… yeah, there’s just nothing. I’m not trying to say that I’m special for feeling this way. On the contrary, I find this sentiment is so common that’s one of my definitions for being human. Seriously think about the idea. Have you ever met a bear that was too lazy to make a sandwich, or just didn’t eat dinner for four hours because his friends couldn’t decide what they felt like eating?

Conservation of ideas and motivation is also the driving force behind the comment “that would make a great name for a band.” Like somehow I imagine that my careful preparation will pay off the day I sign my recording deal, I can pull out a little notebook (a weathered moleskin, obviously) and I can leaf through the names accumulated over the years until I find the perfect name for my new band.

Conservation of ideas and motivation is also the reason I have a pile of incomprehensible post-it notes labeled “writing ideas” stuffed into my purse. At least I think that they’re writing ideas. Some of them could be grocery lists, but since I could conceivably write about baking, or how I’m jealous of people who eat beautiful food all the time, or I don’t know. I’ll have to be a little more precise next time, “write things about all the stuff” is a lovely sentiment, but not particularly helpful.

The best part of today is that it’s almost over.

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My Dad is a golfer. I say this meaning he would introduce himself that way, as though golf really defines who he is as a person. (As an aside, I have a special type of hatred reserved for people who introduce themselves using their professional job titles. That is the literal definition of needing to get a life…) I’m so similar to my father in so many ways, that at some point I had to define myself in contrast to who he was, as in, “I am not a golfer.” My rebellion only moderately reduced the number of hours I spent on the golf course, and my imagined anguish ensured that those hours felt longer than eternity. Part of my miniature revolution involved willful ignorance of the circumstances that brought us to the course on any particular weekend. Therefore, any golf course stories I have will be ambiguous and mushy on details so I may just embellish everything to make my Dad sound cooler.

We were at the local course, The Edison Club in Rexford, New York. I know that my Dad was playing at least 18 holes with another couple. I was (maybe) driving the golf cart with the female half of the visiting couple, which means I was at least 9 years old. I can’t remember if Mom was there that afternoon. She would have been carrying her own clubs for exercise so she would not have been involved in the conversation that took place around the golf cart anyways.

Anyway, this stranger taught me her personal superstition about building walls on her scorecard to keep the bad luck in the past. See, when you get a double bogey, or two bogeys in a row, you drew an extra thick border around the scores on your card to trap the larger numbers and stop them from infecting the rest of your game. You’re supposed to play the next hole as though it were your first again.

This was the earliest I remember feeling the germ of the idea that cutting your losses and starting over, at least mentally, was an acceptable strategy, and as a perfectionist, it’s something I latched onto quite strongly. I frequently have bad days, and tell myself that it’s okay to roll over and give up, so long as it gives me an opportunity to start over again tomorrow. I was spoiled growing up, and I spoil myself as an adult, so I never know if this attitude is healthy or perhaps too indulgent. How many days in a row can you take a Mulligan before you’re just avoiding responsibilities? This should be a vague, sort of rhetorical thought, but I somehow, the number three floats into my mind as the precise answer. You can forgive yourself for sucking at life three times in a row before you must reevaluate your life strategy.

This might have been the same day that I drove the golf cart into some shrubs behind the tee on the eleventh or twelfth hole. In which case, my mother must have been there because she tells the middle of this story like I was driving through a monster truck rally. The story ends, as all stories told by daughters do, with my father winning by a significant margin.

new rule

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I can’t let myself save a draft under the delusion that I will come back and want to finish what I started writing. At least not when I’m exhausted from a night with the cat sleeping on my head.

I feel like I got less than ten minutes of sleep at a time last night. I’m craving something to eat, but nothing tastes right. I want to just keep putting small pieces of everything in my mouth until I find that one food thing that is just sweet enough and salty enough and crunchy and chewy and it’s everything and nothing all at once. Then I can finally curl up and my body parts will feel natural, like they all belong together on the same human being. My chest won’t thump and my stomach won’t thump and my head won’t thump, only the things that are supposed to thump, will be thumping. Probably my heart will be thumping. 

It’s just one of those days where I want to go on strike and hope that the world and everything I need to finish will still be waiting for me in the morning.

A story about seventh grade

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Sometime in middle school, I was in our school’s production of The Diary of Anne Frank. I had been in a few of our little elementary school plays, so at the time I was fairly certain this was the beginning of becoming a drama or theater nerd. In reality, at the age of 13, there were only a few kids capable of memorizing an entire play. Once we got to high school, I clearly had no musical inclinations, and I was too anti-social to belong to a nerd clique of larger than 3 people.

It bothers me a lot that I can’t remember if this we seventh or eighth grade. I suspect it was earlier, because I think that I was still wearing glasses, and it was a big deal when that one guy came and watched me perform. I suppose the exact year isn’t going to be the point of the story. 

This stretch of time was the only period where my mother regularly picked me up after school. Oh, I supposed that settles the issue; in eighth grade, I was taking French at the High School, so I wouldn’t have been in the proper building for play rehearsals.

So it was clearly seventh grade. My Mom was picking me up from after school rehearsals. I would wait for her at the back door of the middle school, directly one floor below my science classroom. My science teacher would walk by at some point during my daily ten minute wait. One day, she stopped. 

“I remember when I could eat a candy bar everyday too.”

It’s funny, because I don’t particularly remember getting a candy bar from the vending machine. Where were the vending machines? I feel like there were a few in the cafe-torium (you know, one of those part cafeteria, part auditorium combinations that seemed really cool in the 70’s ). I feel like there also may have been one near that back door where I waited. I probably got a three musketeers bar, just based on my general preferences. 

But because I remember that remark, and because she’s wasn’t a crazy lady, it must be true that I got a candy bar everyday. I know that at some point during middle school, I stopped eating lunch regularly. I already had mixed feelings about eating in front of people. I was starting to feel strange about how quickly I was growing. I don’t know if maybe that was the last time I ate a candy bar after school, or if maybe I stopped eating lunch at that point and only ate the candy bar on my way home. 

I feel horrible, because on the whole, she was a good teacher. She would probably be devastated to know that I even remember that day. 

the emergency is over

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For some reason, it felt important to start writing again. Like a burning, terrible urgency, and I was certain that I could make time for myself to do this again. And I couldn’t use the physical journal in my purse, the one that I use for emotional rants and breakdowns, because I don’t need to practice that anymore. The facet of writing that I need to practice is the organizational part, the consistency part, the productivity part, and at some point it’s all about practice.

So I’m sitting here, knowing full well that I need to practice writing more, writing anything at all. I came to the realization that it doesn’t need to be important, and yet I’m sitting here. I’m paralyzed, and as usual I can only think about how the first thing is significant. I have residual magic thinking here. I somehow believe that the first element sets the tone for the remainder of the collection, like you need to start out perfect and improve from there… somehow. Really, it’s more like the first pancake, a sacrifice to inevitable improvement.

So I got some words out. Some meta shit, writing about writing. Writing about wanting to want to write.