Get off my lawn!

Getting older doesn’t have to suck. There is acquired wisdom. There are the blessings that accompany age, like seeing your children become amazing adults and then being given the ultimate gift of grandchildren. There is the realization that every day is a present that you get to open. Life is so fleeting; it is over in a flash. When we are young, an hour lasts forever, and both the best times and the worst seem to yawn on endlessly. We anxiously rush through high school, eager to “get on with it” and curse every moment we must wait. Suddenly, we’re in our late 40s and we find it incredible that, as 20-somethings, we thought 50 was ancient.

Let me tell you fuckers, 50 ISN’T old. As a 49 year-old, I can assure you that we were wrong. This body has mileage on it, yes. Three babies, more than a few fractures, surgeries, and arthritis have limited me in minor ways. I don’t spring into action like I used to, and there are days when I want to cry, I hurt so bad. But fuck that. I don’t. I push on, because I’ve acquired a belief that if you stop, you might as well die. I pop the pills and break out the heating pad and try to be safe. Mostly. And sometimes, I forget that 50 looms and I stand on a wobbly stool on an uneven surface and I hang Halloween lights and by the grace of God I don’t fall THIS time and break my ass. When I was 25 I did that shit constantly because I was young and vital and if I fell, so what? I could jump right back up. Time was on my side and recklessness was the adrenaline coursing through my veins. Old people broke their hips. Old people had difficulty grasping things and opening jars and pill bottles. Well, “old” is definitely a point-of-view to me, and while I haven’t broken a hip, I realize that the odds are in favor of that if I keep acting like a 25 year-old. The difficulty grasping is already a daily irritation.

My problem is that I still feel like a 25 year-old. Actually, somewhere in my 30s, with enough mileage on me to make me tough but with enough youth remaining to deem me vital and relevant to the rest of the world. 50 year-olds don’t attract the same attention as younger versions of themselves do. 50 year-olds who act the age they feel are laughed at or called “sad” or desperate or thought to be “having a middle-age crisis”.

Well fuck you, judgers.

I understand…..FINALLY…… why old people say they’ve “earned the right” to say what they want. To act how they want. To have no filter. You know why? Because they HAVE. You don’t need any more reason than that. When you reach the age where you realize this, you’re going to laugh and ruefully admit that you’ve become your mom or your dad. When you mutter tiredly, “I’m old”, it will be with a mixture of revulsion and pride. And when you shout “GET OFF MY LAWN!” you’ll realize it:

Fucking shit, it really is infuriating to work so hard to get the grass just so and then to see some little fucker run through it!

What I find to be bullshit is something much simpler: wear-and-tear on the face. The sagging of once majestically pert tits. And the hair color issue. Burns my ass! I have colored my hair since I was 16. I’ve been virtually every shade of red, brown, black, purple, pink, and green. Every so often, I like to return to my natural shade of darkest brown. I begin with black and let it fade. Autumn is usually when I do it, and it makes me feel good to sport that dark shade.

Until this time.

My natural hair color is no more. It has been replaced almost entirely by that harbinger of all things geriatric: white. White is pretty, and dignified on an 80 year-old. White is not so much on a 49 year-old. I hate white. I can’t wear it. It gets dirty too fast and it washes me out. It’s a vicious thing, age. It robs us of our tight skin, our perky boobies, our elastic bodies, and the melanocytes. Here’s the thing about coloring your hair dark when you have white roots: it’s impossibly high-maintenance. It’s a pain in the ass. And that’s another gift that getting older bestows upon us. We simply haven’t got time for all that maintenance. We’re too busy developing our bucket lists and going to the doctor for more drugs and yelling at those little fuckers on our lawns.

And so, tonight, I am giving the husband what he wants ( No, you dirty minds, not THAT. You’re nasty!) and dying the hair red again, with blonde streaks. It camouflages those white roots better. It’s also a younger version of me, which is who I am inside this 49 year-old shell. And that’s the irony of getting older, too. We’ve earned the right to act as young as we want to, even if we could conceivably break a hip in the process.

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I like the safer bet of sporting red hair, myself.

Clowns be shifty creatures

You have to hear the title in Captain Barbossa’s voice; that crafty, wily would-be captain of The Black Pearl in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, for this to work. Aye, clowns be shifty creatures. And by clowns, I mean politicians.

Okay, I  mean Donald Trump.

Look, we’re less than 2 months from election day, when the very fate of this country will be decided. I’ve held my tongue, for the most part, because I’m speechless when it comes to the downward turn this country has taken with regard to decency, respect, and reasonable arguments. But since this is my blog and you read my writing and you know I tend to speak my mind, I figured, awwww, fuck it. Let’s piss some people off. And, might I add, if MY OPINION (guaranteed to me by the motherfucking United States Constitution) pisses you off, then why the hell are you following my blog? Am I being dramatic? I don’t think so. I’m sure there’s some Hillary Hater out there, furiously typing a blog with the same, exact sentiment in mind. She Who Must Not Be Named. Killary. The Banshee Murderess who will take your children and cook their brains and serve them at the next State Dinner. Hillary has more titles given to her than Dr. Seuss. Trump has one. The Donald. How very original! I have a good theory as to why this is. It’s because no one in the history of the world has taken this charlatan, this carnival barker, this con man to end all con men, seriously.

Here’s a true story. When my youngest daughter was about 3, she had a toy telephone that she loved to play with. You moms remember them: Fisher Price made them, they had faces, and kids pulled them around with a string. They made irritating, wonky noises as they were dragged around the house. Sounded a lot like Sarah Palin.

One morning, she drifted into my bedroom and asked casually, “What’s Donald Trump?” in her singsong voice. This was back in the early 90’s, when there were a lot of trash stories about Trump and his mistress and Ivana getting rich off their divorce and Robin Leach’s insufferable crowing about Mar-A-Lago on commercials advertising Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Still, I was a bit taken aback.

“Not ‘what’, Sweetie, but ‘who’. Donald Trump is a rich businessman who has hotels and golf courses and named a huge skyscraper after himself.”

“So he gots lots of money?”

“Yeah, I guess so. But he’s a big jerk and not a nice guy.”

Katie (she used to be Katie before she announced, at age 8, that she was Kat) was silent for a moment, seeming to digest my words and turn them over in her head. Then, I  heard the unmistakable sound of her telephone being dialed, and her singsong voice followed, only it wasn’t sweet sounding anymore. It was a menacing, Ripley-esque “Get away from her, you BITCH” tone.

“DONALD TRUMP. I WANT MY MONEY. You  GIVE it to ME or I will SUE you.”

I was shocked. “I will sue you”? Where does a 3 year-old get the idea to sue someone? Did they say that on Animaniacs or Gem and the Holograms or her brothers’ favorite show, Masters of the Universe? I can just hear  that dialogue :

He-Man: “Alright Skeletor, you’ll regret your plans to rule the universe! By the Power of Grayskull, I will stop your evil ways!”

Skeletor: (cackling) And just howwwww do you think you are going to stop me, He-Man???

He-Man: I’ll….I’ll SUE!

Anyway, this little game of Katie’s went on for a long time. Every few days, she’d be on that telephone, threatening litigation and demanding payment for “all that work” she did for Donald Trump. I laughed about it at the time. Donald Trump was a buffoon. Harmless. And kids need an enemy for their make-believe dramatics.

I’m not laughing now, and neither is Katie, henceforth referred to as Kat. Her make-believe turned out to be prophecy in the form of plenty of stiffed workers not receiving their pay from Trump after failed business transactions; Trump University students not receiving an education they paid for; Atlantic City residents let down by Trump’s failed casino ventures; and let’s not forget all of the charities promised money by Trump who never saw a DIME.

“I want my money!” indeed. But set that aside for a moment. Set aside the fact that he’s seeking the authority to control the country’s economic future. I know, scary. But look at his other “qualities”: dishonesty, bigotry, racism, ignorance, and his notorious thin skin. Do we want to elect a man who might pick up the red phone and launch a nuclear missile at some leader of another country who put him down in a 2am tweet? Because that’s the fucking reality here, kids. Forget that he’s a  rich, entitled coward who got out of Vietnam because his feet hurt. Forget that he cheated on wife number one with wife number two and then cheated on wife number two with wife number three. Forget that he’s really cash-poor, like many “successful business magnates” are. Forget that he has accepted loans from Russian mafias. Forget that he once said that if his daughter wasn’t his daughter, he’d date her. (Creepy-ass fuck.) Forget that he has really poor taste in decorating and that the Lincoln Bedroom will end up looking like a cheap, Dollar Store-inspired whorehouse if he’s in charge of the redecorating. Red phone, my ass. It will be the jewel-encrusted “gilt” phone. Okay, let’s go back to the creepy-ass dad shit because there’s a picture:

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Yep. That’s the guy who wants to be president.

Right now, he and Hillary are neck-and-neck. Did I ever think that was going to be the harsh reality this close to the election? No! I thought BERNIE would be the candidate and that those of us who “felt the Bern” and who weren’t referring to bladder infections would be spreading the message of a new, improved America to the masses. Look, I’m  fine with the excellent work that President Obama has done. I championed him 8 years ago and I champion him now. Sure, there have been disappointments, but most of them are due to the spoiled, rotten, bratty attitudes of the assholes in Congress who flat-out refused to reach across and shake the hand of a president because his skin is black. Elephant in the room, my ass. It’s the goddamned truth. There’s more blatant racism in this country today than there was 8 years ago, and that is truly unfortunate. People are less afraid to share their racist opinions and they have a tool in the form of Facebook (thanks, Zuckerberg!) with which to spew their ignorance.

No, I  didn’t think I’d be this worried at this point. But I am. We are IN THE SHIT if this orange-complexioned hatebag gets elected. He is what’s wrong with this country. Fuckknuckles like him created the economic mess we found ourselves in over 8 years ago with their greed. No, it wasn’t George W. See? I am capable of a kind word or two about a Republican. I was one once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away. Was he a massive dingleberry on the anus of his father? Probably. But he did not create the mess alone. This is what I think. I think reality  TV needs to be outlawed and that this patron saint of the genre needs to be exiled to his gilded penthouse, along with his Children of the Corn-looking spawn. He can spend his days muttering, “I coulda been a contendah” while Melania looks on with her bored, disapproving Slavic gaze and Douchebag VonFuckface and Thurston Shitbag III drop by to regale him with their latest African safari hunting trips.

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Thanks to Bill Maher for those classic monikers, by the way.

I have thoughts about Mrs. Clinton, too. I am an equal-opportunity critic. She deserves her own blog, though, and she will get it. Right now, I need to go wash my eyes out with purified water because I can’t unsee that pic of Trump and Ivanka. My apologies, friends. But desperate times call for desperate measures. Here’s a kitten:

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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.

Trying to get a life.

The title says it all. I have  SO MUCH TO SAY.

But alas….I’m too tired to form a coherant sentence. Wait, that was coherant, wasn’t it? See? I’m so tired that I can’t tell whether or not I’m telling you the truth.

The last few weeks have ramped up and I have (ahem) stories to tell. Stories that might shock and amaze, make you fear for humanity, or just laugh at how stupid our daily realities are. I promise you that I will bequeath upon you the wisdom I have acquired as a faithful Death Eater. If you’re following this blog, you understand that carefully masked sentence.

For now, there is only this:

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All you need is just a little patience. Or is it dirty deeds?

 

Liebster Questions…..Part Two of my very important award.

A short while back, I was nominated for a Liebster Award for best new blogs by my partner in excellent blogness, Karen. Her blog, http://www.kayrayiam.wordpress.com/, is fabulous and thoroughly enjoyable and she had been quite appropriately nominated herself. She bequeathed this honor on me, and there are many rules to follow when accepting such an award. Rules. I suck hard at rules. I will follow them, but usually while muttering about them under my breath. These rules, thankfully, are easy to follow, but multi-faceted. There are steps to take.  I completed the first one, which is a shout-out to the one who nominated me, in my blog (known heretofore as “My Acceptance Speech”).

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Here is the second step….questions put to me by Karen. As with rules, I hate tests. Tests tend to come in question form. Hence my hesitation. But these? Easy-peasy!

What or who inspired you to write a blog?

Oh, I’ve been attempting this for years now, ever since MySpace. Remember MySpace? Oh come on, admit it! You do!  I used to blog on that and I had a lot of followers!  And then Facebook happened and I lost the password to MySpace, hereby abandoning some REALLY. GOOD. WRITING.  It’s floating out in cyberspace, y’all. Orphan gems of prose. Literary masterpieces. I am such a twit for not saving those blogs elsewhere. I suck. I really do.

How long have you been blogging?

See above. Like….forever, if you count my diaries when I was a kid and my journals when I was a young, frustrated mom. Because aren’t those really like blogs?

What do you do, or did you do in your life as a job?

I have done a lot of things. Seen a lot of shit. I am good at so many things but a master of none. Made pizzas. Answered phones. Made Zippo lighters. Worked in healthcare. Been an executive assistant to a douchebag who made me walk his dog, ship his golf clubs to Florida, and find an elusive watch for his wife’s birthday THE NEXT DAY that wasn’t available anywhere but in some shop in Cleveland. I sent a driver to pick it up. Yay me. Currently, I am embarking on a job at a very large, completely reviled retail store because the pay is better than the nursing home job I accepted two weeks ago. I am a whore for money. I understand and accept this about myself. But money will pay the bills and send me to phlebotomy school and afford me the opportunity to write, which is the REAL endgame here.

How did you come up with the name of your blog?

It’s a song by my favorite band, KISS. And it’s my mantra about everything, because come hell or high water, I am going to survive and become good at life until I die.

What are your hobbies?

Well, I write. I rescue cats. I create art of many kinds. I remodel my old house. I listen to and worship all kinds of music, but principally, hard rock and heavy metal. And I read. Tons.

What is your favorite song ever, and why?

This is impossible to answer. It truly changes constantly. I feel music so deeply. I’m the kind of girl who attaches songs to life, lyrics to moments. You know my type, and you probably avoid her. There is a running soundtrack in my brain all the time. At this moment, everything that Dave Grohl and The Foo Fighters sing is relevant and important to me. I suppose that the first KISS song I ever heard, because KISS saved my life….would have to suffice for the purpose of answering this question. That would be “Detroit Rock City”.

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Which do you prefer dogs or cats?

Cats. Always. At one time, I had 30 rescues. They’ve since been rehomed. I love dogs, really do, but the cat is my spirit animal.

Where are you originally from and where do you live now?

I am from Bradford, Pennsylvania and except for a few brief forays away….I am still here. And trust me, I’m not pleased.

If you had only 3 wishes what would you wish for?

Financial security for my whole family.
That the world would just become kinder.
To not suffer from Depression.

What is your addiction?(Mines Cheerwine, by the way. No, it’s not alcoholic. It’s a soft drink. It’s a Salisbury thing, you wouldn’t understand.)

Coffee. Really good coffee. Specifically, a Large Tim Horton’s double single.

Who is your favorite blogger and why?

This changes a lot, too. I love to read people. I love to experience life from the perspective of others. Bill Maher blogs extremely well. Jenny Lawson, of course. But right now? I’m loving everyone who is not afraid to be fearless with their words.

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My third step in this process will be to nominate some new bloggers for the Liebster. This is not as easy as it seems. Because so many of you are FABULOUS. Research must be completed. It is a task that I am happy to take on. Results to follow!

Coming up for air

Being depressed feels like so many things. We have all read the articles and the information from help sites. If you’ve been in treatment, like me, you’ve got books and worksheets and lists of tasks to complete that help you to understand your blue funkiness and to try and push through the murk.

Except that it’s never that easy, is it?

Depression can take you down into the depths of a cold ocean that feels like it has no bottom. The silt and the lack of light that encloses you once you do stop sinking makes it impossible to see anything. That’s why it’s so easy to feel only the numbing cold of medication and the sense of despair and hopelessness that accompanies a truly bad episode. You’re down there, uttlerly alone, lower than low. That’s what I call them in my head – Low times – and it pisses me off that I don’t realize that they’re creeping up on me until my ass settles at the bottom of the ocean and the deafening silence consumes me. I always feel like I might have been able to “head this one off”, or better yet, understand with full clarity that if I stop taking that unassuming little white pill, it’ll be a quick trip to the bottom of the sea for me, where there are no mermaids to fill my lungs with air until they can help me rise to the surface. There are menaces in the form of octopuses (memories) and sharks (self-destructive actions) and there is seaweed (hopelessness) and if I am not careful, they will win someday.

I was under for a relatively short period this time. I’m finally getting the hang of the whole “just because you feel okay doesn’t mean you are” reality that is mine. The medication takes away so many things! I hate that. Too much of it and all the joy that I find in this life completely recedes and there is only the buoyancy of the life preserver that’s allowing me to float along the surface of the ocean. I don’t want to merely float, you see. I want to be a dolphin! I want to jump out of the water and to expose my belly to the sunshine and bask in the pleasure of life. Through trial and error, I have discovered ways to find that joy and to keep it within reach, but it still means medication. I know what an unmedicated high time feels like and a medicated to a lesser degree high time feels like. Unmedicated has come to feel wrong. This has finally clicked somewhere inside of my head. It’s remarkable that at nearly 49 years of age, I am still capable of learning. Unmedicated high times are scary. Even while I’m reveling in music and crying during emotional movies and thinking that I might split in two like a supernova and that stars will burst out of my body because Oh my GOD my husband knows every inch of my body and what to do to it to make me feel good…..in the back of my mind, there’s a voice. No, not like that Inner Goddess bullshit in those completely awful Fifty Shades of Grey books that made me question my ability to just say no to commercialism,  but a quiet, calm, reasonable voice.

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A voice that says to me, “What the fuck are you doing? This is great, yeah. But you know there’s gonna be a price. You’re too loud. Too bright. You’re TOO EVERYTHING. It’s gonna go bad. You can’t swim, remember? Quit being a stupid bitch.”

That voice preaches moderation. Moderation makes perfect sense.  But moderation does not run in my family, you see. I come from a long line of idiots who could do nothing in moderation, and so they all flamed out before their time, tragic tales of alcoholism and sloth and excess. But in a world where there has been so much darkness, I have not been able to exercise moderation. I feel SO much. I’m an artist. I create. I am so right-brained that it’s as if the left side never existed for me. And to stifle those inclinations and desires and sudden, clear pictures of beauty that my hands can make is to put out the flame that burns within the very center of my being. Like a stubborn child, I have not wanted to figure out how to save some embers to burn an eternal votive inside my soul. It’s been “all or nothing”. Until this time. This time, the gears clicked into place and something aligned itself and I can’t explain it any better than that. Have you ever seen the amazing film, Love Actually? The part where Andrew Lincoln, he of The Walking Dead fame,  appears at Keira Knightley’s door and professes his love with placards and a boom box, and then, as he departs, says, “Enough. Enough.”

That’s what it felt like this time. I know that, if 50mg of the drug stifles me to the point of totally disappearing, then 40mg might allow me to feel a little.  25mg might be too little to stop the sinking, but 30mg might restore nearly everything to a moderate level that allows for a quiet sense of contentment. This is what I’ve learned, during the moments when the panic has been quashed by another drug and a tiny pinhole of light has shone down upon me at the bottom of the ocean. Take the full pill in order to rise, and then work to find the happy medium that enables both the ability to float and to feel. Then?  Just quit being a dumb bitch who needs to feel everything clearly. Because it’s like alcoholism, depression is…..you don’t know you’re dying until you are, in fact, dead.

This message has been brought to you by The Reasonable Bitch who exists in the quiet recesses of my brain. Thank God she doesn’t  have depression.

It’s Friday and I feel fine.

Okay, you’re going to have to get used to the quasi-schizo way that I write. I promised to do a follow-up to my Liebster nomination and I promise that I will, but the last few days have just been too interesting to not chronicle in some way.  I simply must get this down before it ceases to become relevant. Of course, relevance is up to the reader. Let me just say that I think it’s relevant.

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On the day when the Male Sibling Unit and I made our trek to the Social Insecurity Office (it earned that title and I will explain that later) I had just interviewed for a job. I have not worked in the community for 18 months now, and the events that led up to my not working contributed to my not wanting actually be a part of the community. Or part of anything but my warm, comfy bed with my kitties snuggled up against me. Those of you with the big D know what I mean. Prior to 18 months ago, I always worked. From the age of 13, when my mother said, “If you want school clothes you need to get a job because I’m not buying them” I worked. At first, it was just babysitting. I was a pro at that by the age of 12, but by the time I was legally allowed to work in the private sector, I held summer jobs and babysat in tandem. I was a working fool, because clothes weren’t cheap if you wanted to fit in with everyone in high school, and all the extras that came along with being a teenager (class trips, yearbooks, school pictures, etc) were expensive, too. College applications were expensive, buying gifts for family on special occasions was expensive….you get the point. I had a roof over my head and food to eat, courtesy of the US Government,  but everything else, I paid for myself. Throughout the following 30-odd years, I would work wherever I could, in fast food joints, factories, customer service, and then administrative assistant jobs. I worked while having three children and raising a total of five, through having grandkids living in my home and through a divorce and a remarriage. I worked. It was What I Did.

When my mother died in 2012, I experienced a broad spectrum of emotions. The grief process was especially difficult for me. I had quit The Job In Hell  after 5 years at a car dealership a mere 4 months before my mom had died. You know all those terrible cliché things you hear about with regard to car dealerships? Well, I’m here to tell you that they’re all true, every single one, and if you begin a job at one with a soul, you’ll leave thinking you don’t possess one. Suffice it to say that, five years to the day after I started my glorious career as a catch-all administrative assistant there, I found myself flat on my back in a heart catheterization lab as my cardiologist held my hand. “My Dear,” he said kindly, “we can fix this with medicine, but can I tell you? No job is worth dying for.”  I wrote my letter of resignation the next day.

While I  took some time to recuperate and decide what was next, a miracle occurred : my mom and I began to talk. Really talk. With honesty and humility. I got her to admit that I was a massive disappointment to her, and that she didn’t know why that was. I got her to admit that maybe…possibly….she might have been a little harsh. Baby steps, Grasshopper. We were making progress, after 44 years of pain and anger and emotional abandonment, which led to all of the stupid, misguided, desperate choices I’d made. We were talking and I was taking charge of her health issues and she was actually improving, after years of neglecting her CHF and diabetes. Things were looking up.

And then she got pneumonia. And her body’s systems shut down, one by one. After 3 days in ICU, her doctor asked me to make the worst decision a child has to make for a parent. She had no living will or advanced directives. She never liked making those decisions, and so, she hadn’t. She left it all up to me. Of course. Not only had I ruined her life, but now I was charged with ending it.

No wonder I am such a fucking mess, right?

In the days following her death, I cried more tears than I had ever thought possible for someone who I was never quite sure really loved me. I was consoled by the well-meaning words of others, who assured me that of course she loved you so much! I got down to the business of sorting her affairs. She had never wanted a funeral, only cremation, but there was a bill to be paid there. Over the years, she had assured me that she had enough insurance to “take care of everything”. I found all the documents, made the phone calls, and found out that not only was there not enough to take care of everything, but that there was nothing. Nada. Zilch. She’d allowed everything to lapse at about the same time she had decided she was terrified of living in her house and moved into an adjoining apartment in my house. After she moved in, I asked, numerous times, and was always told, “It’s all taken care of. It will all be in my metal strong box. Now I don’t want to talk about it anymore.”  Those words were final. You did not argue with my mother. You would be shut down, and then she’d tell all of her friends how horrible you were. I learned to pick my battles over many years of war.

There was no life insurance.  Yep, this was it, her final “Fuck you”.There was a mortgage on a house going into default. There were tax bills. And there was me.  *Sound the trumpets!*  Her heir. The Executor of her “estate”. I needed to get back to work. I knew I did not want to work in an office (shudder). I applied at a big chain department store, got hired, and then got a call from a personal care facility that I’d applied to work at on a whim. All of a sudden, it seemed like that was what I needed to do. Be of service to the elderly, care for them, in the way my mother never let me for her. Look, in hindsight I know this was another episode of poor decision-making on my part, but you will find that this is a running theme in my life. I was sad. Those old people made me happy. Made me feel relevant. I could look upward and say, “See, Mom? They like me. I am important to them. Fuck you, Mom.” I was a working fool once again. I volunteered for all the overtime. 12 hour days were normal. I loved my job, because it made me feel cloistered within a group of people who didn’t see how broken I was inside.

It lasted almost two years before the ulcers started, my weight plummeted, and my doctor diagnosed me with Depression and Panic Disorder. Then I made the mistake of thinking that I was safe because I always did my job and never got into trouble and never missed time. There were big changes going on in Administration, and people were making noises. I won’t  go into deets here because I  still believe in the rules of HIPAA and I  wouldn’t want to call a cutthroat bitch by name, but I operated a piece of office equipment (to make a copy of my pay stub) without “the expressed consent of Administration” , which is a breech of conduct. I was called into a “meeting” where I was humiliated, insulted, and then suspended. A day later, I was told I was terminated. Sounds, well, extreme, doesn’t  it? It was. But somebody didn’t like me. And two weeks later, my boss, who was also very efficient, lost her job, too. To say that this was a cataclysmic event for me is an understatement. I had never, ever been fired before. I nearly committed suicide. I lost 10 more pounds. I was sick, both physically and mentally, and it was very easy for me to submerge myself within all of this and just give up. And I did, for a long time.

And then, there was some light. I began therapy. And therapy, very quickly, led straight to the root of my problems. And guess what (who) that was?  You get 10 Starburst jellybeans if you guessed my mom. Send me your address and I’ll mail them. I always stock up over Easter.

I have been working my way back to gainful employment ever since. I may be a writer, but it does not yet pay the bills, and I’m going to have to contribute in a meaningful way if I want to continue the 40 year plan the husband and I have for renovating our 148 year-old house, because that shit is not cheap. I also want to go to school and get a phlebotomy license, because then the bills will be paid even easier. The idea of poking people for a living is strangely appealing. I have always enjoyed having to get my blood taken.  *I love it when the red water comes!*  Yes, you can tell me that I am a vampire-in-waiting.  And so, I am proud to announce that baby steps have been taken, and I have accepted a job at another senior care facility, and this time, I am doing it for the right reasons, and not to shake my fist at a dead person who didn’t really care when she was alive, and likely didn’t give a crap once she was dead. I will need to be around people again, and I will need to curb my habit of speaking inappropriately because these are real humans and not my cats. I will have to be social, and civil, but I know that I can do it because I have learned to be brave.

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Finally, I can stop saying, “Fuck you, Mom.”