Tuck it all away for another day

What do you do with all of the words and thoughts and silly anecdotes that you carry around in your head day after day? If you’re me, you find a place to put them; a catch-all, like a little bowl on your dresser where you keep the jewelry you wear every day. If you’re like me, you find that you’ve added to the collection as time passes, and so you need to decide what stays in the daily line-up and what needs to be archived in the big jewelry box.

This blog is my big jewelry box. When I was a little girl, I would go through my grandma’s jewelry box from time to time, fascinated with the dozens of pieces she kept in there. The box was shaped like a clock and had a music box inside, which was pretty ingenious, because opening it was truly like going back in time and catching glimpses of her life and who she really was. With a soundtrack, albeit a twinkly, tinny version of a song I still don’t know, but can hear in my mind to this day. It was magical, delving into her past and “seeing” her in a different way. I knew a quieter, softer, and more broken-down version of Rhea; a body ravaged by the excesses of her day, before we knew that those excesses could and would kill you. In that jewelry box was a lady, a dazzling, sexy, classy, beautiful lady with impeccable taste. That jewelry box contained the real Rhea. This blog contains the real me. So here I go, archiving things I need to unload, because the weight of them in my mind makes my thinking sluggish, and it’s growing too crowded to move.

I don’t like people. When I say this, I don’t mean every human on the planet. Obviously, there are humans who I love and want to be around, and humans who I like and enjoy talking to. But….but. I love certain humans, definitely, but don’t want to be in contact with even them on a daily basis. My anxiety disorder hums in the background of my consciousness even when I’m sufficiently benzoed. It’s a part of me, always providing a current of electrical energy that, while distressing, is also familiar. With medication, it doesn’t overtake me and make it impossible for me to connect with others. I do feel the need to control how much I rely on medication to quiet the hum, so days of isolation are essential for me. Days where the hum is loud, but human interaction is limited.FB_IMG_1469198437368

I’m still mystified that I’m doing well at work. This is certainly a much more aloof job in terms of human interaction. My administrative jobs were less personal in that they involved more phone interaction than face-to-face. I’m great at that. My nursing home experience was more interactive, but on an intimate basis, with care giving thrown in. I excel at that. This job, though. I worried at first. I was afraid at first. I really, really don’t like seeing people at their worst. It simply affirms my belief that everyone is capable of shittiness.

People are at their worst when they shop. I am lucky, I suppose, to be more in a support position, behind the scenes, than out on the front lines, having to put on a happy face and be accomodating and pleasant even when being screamed at for something stupid, like not being able to honor a coupon. Seriously, people? You find it necessary to insult and tear down a cashier because the register – which has all the criteria programmed into its system – refuses a .25 off coupon that states that you must purchase a 24 oz ketchup, not the 16 oz you are insisting be honored “because I just don’t need the bigger size.” The cashier is “fucking stupid”, the store is “ignorant”, the manager you demanded to see is “a clueless asshole”, and you’re “calling corporate.” Please. Shop online. And go to hell while you’re at it. Cashiering is a brave job. Don’t ever think less of the person cashing you out. Cashiers are warriors on the front lines of a war we call commercialism. Cashiers deserve hazard pay.

I think that I dislike children. Not my own. Not my grandkids. Okay, not kids who behave. The ones who scream, whine, fall onto the floor and throw fits in public, or who race shopping carts and rip apart merchandise? Not so much. Maybe it isn’t the kids I should dislike. Maybe it’s their parents who need smacked upside their heads for allowing and basically supporting such behaviors. When did ignoring your crying child – no matter how loud or how long he/she screams, “I WANT A TOY!” – become the acceptable way for dealing with such behavior? When your child is hysterical, sweaty, and you’ve made the rounds of the store TWICE while ignoring their screams, are you not only doing a gross disservice to the people around you but also committing a form of child abuse?

These people mystify me. Their kids give me a headache.  It also makes me eye every child with suspicion, much like a Clint Eastwood-esque scenario ( GET OFF MY LAWN.). Is this little shit gonna start howling for something? I don’t advocate spanking. Wait. The fuck I don’t. I don’t advocate child abuse. I do advocate discipline. I was rarely spanked as a child. I can recall three times. And you know what? I deserved every single one. I was being a shit, a brat, and openly defying my mother. And I didn’t like those spankings, and that influenced my behavior in the future. It wasn’t about the pain, because it stung for a while and then faded. It was about the shame. The humiliation. Having disappointed a person I loved and depended on. I knew that I had been acting like an asshole. She called me on it. That was not a good feeling. More kids should experience that. Parents are parents. Not friends. Parenting is not a democracy. Somehow, we’ve allowed kids to think it is, though. Before you know it, the world is going to become overrun with self-centered, entitled brats who are, at best, sociopaths.

Which brings me to the presidential race. Come on, be honest….I said “sociopath” and some of you immediately thought, “Trump”. Am I right? I hope I am.

Look, I don’t like our choices. In many ways, it’s the lesser of two evils. But one is certainly more experienced and has the ability to run a country. You don’t have to like her. I don’t. I didn’t like my high school principal, either. But he was competent at the job and had all the qualifications. The other choice? Are we fucking serious? Yes, I guess we are. He secured the nomination despite every card-carrying, notable member of his party denouncing him while  simultaneously accepting him. He has incited a riot of citizens who think he “hears” them. He is certainly saying the things they think. Terrible, mysoginistic, racist, hateful things. And there are enough of them to elect him. This terrifies me. It should you, too. I’m not suggesting that we don’t need help in this country. We DO. The help we are in such desperate need of, though, is not to be found in the dealings of a circus-barker like shyster who has never actually read a book in his life. What we need is bipartisanship. Everyone working together for the common good. Addressing the needs of the country and resolving to link hands in solidarity, roll up our sleeves, and get the job done side by side. I’ve urged this since President Obama was elected. I’ve hoped for it. Now, I despair that it’s ever going to happen. A mob mentality has taken root. And I am afraid.

I don’t like admitting fear of anything. Except clowns and balloons. I am terrified of both. And isn’t Trump sort of an orange-hued clown, with his wife and children bobbing along behind him on strings like helium-filled latex? That’s how I see it. And so, I guess that I am feeling like it’s okay to admit my fear. Certainly, plenty of others are, too. But will it be enough to quash the hatred that has overtaken this country? I welcome your views, because I’m out of fresh ones.

Wow. I tied mental illness, Voldemort, and Donald Trump together in this blog. Can you see why I need my jewelry box?

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Just you shut your mouth.

I don’t know where I’m going with this.

I’ve had a compulsion to write for a couple of days now, but between physical exhaustion and a world-weary confusion about my own feelings, I thought it best to wait. Wait until the thoughts were more coherant, organized, and civilized. Yes, I meant to say civilized. “Civilized” is fast deteriorating into a thing of the past in this country. I know, people in other countries have their problems, and we read of them, but I can’t comment or offer an opinion because I’m not living their realities. Brexit? I have to admit: I just don’t give a fuck. The constant chaos and suffering in Third World countries? I’m sad for these people, and I will contribute to charity here and there, but it doesn’t impact my life on a daily basis. It’s not that I don’t care, because anyone with empathy certainly does, but I’ve long since given up on thinking of ways to help.

Same thing with the Middle East. I have very concrete ideas there. They’ve been engaged in war with each other since the beginning of time. Maybe, just maybe…..we should have stayed out of it. Their religion. Their resources. Their customs. It’s never been anyone else’s business. But yes, when they asked for help, we gave it, and just like that controlling family member who helps you out in a time of crisis, that’s when we inserted the condition that “If we’re going to help you, we have EVERY RIGHT to dictate how we help and what you do with the help.” So not cool. And so it began, and now a shitload of the oppressed and ideologically insane in those countries have risen up to say, “Hey, we don’t appreciate your meddling. You’re a bunch of assholes, and the world would be a better place without you. We hate your fucking guts, and we’re going to kill each and every one of you however we can.”

We’ve been so focused on putting out the fires in other countries that the little fires in this country have smoldered, unchecked, for a long time now. The flames of racism, entitlement, power given to the wrong people, and oppression of anything or anyone who doesn’t “fit in” with our ideas of “how things should be” are burning, and they’re getting hard to control. . Yeah, we’ve noticed the smoke, a lot of us have. It was far away though, or it was at least far enough away from our daily grind to not necessitate action. We saw it off there in the distance, shrugged, said, “Not really my problem right now”, and moved on.

As with any fire that’s allowed to move beyond the boundaries in which it has been contained, the smoldering embers in this country have become angry brush fires consuming great swaths of land. Some are reaching the dense stands of trees, and soon, we will have forest fires furiously rolling along, destroying everything in their path. Racism. Religious intolerance. Bigotry. Disrespect of and indifference to anyone or anything who doesn’t follow  your set of rules. That’s a big problem these days. Everyone has their own set of rules. When we don’t like what we hear, we parade out the Constitution and say, “This. This is the law of the land.”  Yes, it was written by the architects of this country in a time when those points were at the forefront of an ideology very much in its infancy. Things were much, much simpler then. Problem is, we’re a complicated, critically thinking population now, and some think the Constitution, well….needs some work. Some revisions that are reflective of a more modern age. And we can’t agree on that. Hell, we can’t agree on anything anymore.

When did we become so intolerant and hateful? When did we decide that it was okay to pass judgment and to ridicule others for their ideas and ways of life? When did it become okay to simply throw out ALL of the rules and adopt our own? The yawning gap between the rich and “the rest of us” has never been as wide as it is today. Has that fueled this fury? The lack of decorum and respect amongst our government officials has deteriorated to such a new low that the current presidential campaigns resemble reality shows and not the actual political process that they claim to represent and uphold.

When everything you read is more tabloid than fact.

When everything you see is bright, plastic, disposable, tacky.

When all the rules are allowed to be thrown into the trash and lit on fire because “We are Americans and it’s our right, goddammit”.

When our looks, how we dress, talk, decorate our homes, drive, think, are fodder for someone else’s intolerance and disdain and the assumed “right” to tell us just what they don’t like about these things.
When skin color, religion, sexual orientation, and gender issues are still being debated and criticized.



Jesus Christ, people. Who the fuck are we and what have we become? Certainly not evolved. There was respect and decency in “the old days”. Sit down and have a chat with an elder. Not everything was better, certainly, but we were on the road to improving. Somewhere along the way, we stopped. Some of us stopped. And when we did, that undercurrent of hate that exists everywhere and has certainly existed in this country since its foundation was allowed to rise to the surface. The events of the past week have certainly proven that. The reactions of many continue to bear this out. Instead of stopping in their tracks and listening to what’s being said, they raise their voices to the cacophony of cries and now we can’t hear a single thing in the noisy din. Everyone is intent on being heard, but nobody is listening.

It is a black thing. It is a white thing. It is a problem with the way people are “seen”. Until we find the solutions to that, until we all accept and realize that we are all human beings who bleed red blood,  and until we respect each other and quit with the fucking judgment, people will continue to hurt each other and people will continue to die.

“Land of the free and home of the brave” has never been more open to interpretation than it is now.

Shit’s getting real.

Wow.

I’ve been away for a while. I’m sorry about that, both because I have had so many things that I wanted to say, but also because this place is a dusty mess! Even when you aren’t “using a room” it becomes dusty. And I see this as a room, so to speak; my safe room, where I can say things I need to say, act like an ass, and even break down occasionally. That’s what writing is to me. Hell, writing IS me. The real me – uncensored, with even less filter than I possess in my everyday life. Everyone needs that kind of safety, I think. If everyone had an outlet in which they could feel free to “be”, I think the world would be much less fucked up and chaotic. Someone alert Donald Trump’s advisors, please. Tell him that the WORLD is not his “safe place”. Seriously.

Well, let me brush aside the dust and just say that the last three months have been hard. When you take a borderline agoraphobic person with depression and anxiety and thrust her into a phenomenon known as RETAIL, well….prepare for things to be unpredictable. For her, for you, for everyone who comes into contact. I will admit, the first week was a blur, and the second week was when I asked myself, “Do you really think this is doable?” I was doubling my  Xanax intake and coming home so exhausted that even crying took too much effort. Between the physicality of my job – dairy products are fucking heavy and people buy so much of it – and the mental jungle gym that is the psyche of a person working in retail, I wasn’t sure if I could deal.

Our Voldemort  (remember kids, we have special names for the sake of anonymity mmkay?) is a “superstore” and nearly 300 people work there. Imagine every kind of personality underneath one roof, and then inject Voldemort’s “company line” into it. The daily rituals. The rules. The koolaid that he forces down your throat. Grape koolaid. I really hate grape koolaid. Then mix all that and add the special ingredient: customers. This is not a recipe built for just anyone. Many treat it the way they see it; it pays the bills. Some come in with a rosy vision of happiness and kittens and promotions and family atmosphere and rainbows. Yeah. Voldemort isn’t into that stuff. On the surface, it gives you what you think  you need. Just below that surface is where we are, his Death Eaters, doing his bidding. That’s where the reality is, and it’s a dark, shadowy place with fake politeness and an undercurrent of sarcasm and barely-contained fury. I don’t mind it. When you get to my age and have enough experience with really bad people and places to work, this is not a bad situation to be in. It is what you make of it. Some continue to care long after they’ve realized that caring isn’t really necessary, and some figure it out quickly and move on.

I suffered through those first few weeks. Everything that could be thrown at me to derail my engine was thrown. Prince died. My doctor told me I needed to see a neurosurgeon for my neck. I had my first real, all-over-my-body flare-up of osteo. All while needing to work, lifting, pulling, reaching, walking, climbing. It was so painful that I cried. And I don’t cry. Pain has been with me since birth. I’m a tough bitch who wears fucking suspenders, yo. But this was bad. Despite my misery, I began to see that I was working in an area where I might be a warm body to Voldemort, but to my fellow Death Eaters, I was a welcome comrade. And then it happened.

Son of a bitch. I began to care.

Me? I’m a sucker for a lost cause. Always have been. Got a problem? Lay it on me. I’m here to help. The reality is this: you’re a warm, physical body with the ability to do the job, which is provide people with the things they want to buy. That’s it. It isn’t rocket science. You do it with a smile, and no matter what stupid question a customer asks you ( “Can you help me find the cream cheese?” “Why certainly! Turn around and look to your left!” “Oh my, I’m so silly!” “Oh, no big deal. People miss it allllll the time!” Der der der. Kill me now. ) you act like you were placed in that exact location solely to help them. It’s not a difficult concept to grasp. It’s when Voldemort finds out that you have a functioning brain that you could be in trouble. That’s when the opportunities open up, if you’re game. More responsibility. But with that comes the possibility that if you fuck up, Voldemort is going to punish you. If you’re me, punishment mostly comes from within. I have yet to be in trouble for anything since I took initiative and offered my brain power. I have made a few mistakes. Butcropped-halloweenscare.png Voldemort is wise, you see. He knows that the worst punishment for a fuck up that I could ever receive is my own brain beating me up.

This is where I always make that error of thinking I might be able to make a positive difference in things. This is where I jump in with both feet and open myself up to everything. This is where I make the mistake of thinking that I might actually belong here. Someone needs to throw their arms around my chest and stop me from stepping off the cliff. I know where I am, you see. But I don’t know if I can resist.