My Team is Killing Me, Man

They spent the first half with the best record in baseball. And now they are playing like the freakin’ Rockies.

I love them and they’re still my team — speak not to me of the Giants — but after such exhilaration, this is pretty damned depressing. And I know it’s depressing for them too.

I’ve always used baseball as a substitute for therapy. I love the rhythm of the game, of the announcers (though please God stop letting Shooty Babbitt fill in for Ray Fosse); watching the managers strategize and the tension of men on base. And I love a good blowout — provided it isn’t at my team’s expense, of course. But lately I can’t even watch. Work anxiety and depression has made me too close to the edge and another damned game where we issue walks or load the bases only to get NO ONE HOME is enough to boot me right over it.

As I used to tell my ex-husband, when he would have a conniption over his football team losing: You still have to go to work tomorrow, and they’re still rich for playing a game. I know that my life, personally, doesn’t change if the A’s bomb out or win the World Series, except in a little interior way (and some exterior whooping it up). But it’s still causing a whole lot of headdesking round here.

 

So, Yeah…

Boy, have things been… well, I would say interesting around here, but they haven’t been really. At least not externally.

As I have been whined ad nauseam, my current job rotation is killing me. I spend a lot of time taking anti-anxiety medications, deep breathing, and/or crying anyway. The powers that be have no interest in alleviating the agony, so I am hanging on by my fingernails. I will retire in 15 years, 7 months, and 27 days, and God willing and the creek don’t rise, I will be rotated out of member services long before that. I’ve been there nine months and I may be looking at eighteen more.

This coming week is slated so suck so badly they won’t need to vacuum the floors at night. So I figured it was as good a time as any to go on about why I never write.

My doctor has added two additional medications to help me deal, and actually referred me to a therapist, which is unusual for Kaiser (generally they like to throw you into their classes after work; where, tired and hungry, you can listen to other people’s problems and be forced to share your own with strangers). The therapist actually thinks I should apply for ADA accommodation, but I am still leery, because of the danger of not being accommodated and losing my job. And I liked my job before this rotation! Also, mortgage and future retirement and all that.

Basically, here’s the current rundown. If anyone has any advice (other than “suck it up,” since we know that isn’t going to work), I’m all ears.

  • Having to deal with strangers all day every day and enduring endless panic attacks because of that.
  • My private time at least partially ruined by dread.
  • Feeling overwhelmed by things I need/want to do to the house, and the fact that I don’t have anyone to help (not financially; just BE there and help me schlep things or do things that taller folks can do or even just keep me company) makes it worse.
  • Wanting to cook big meals for people but not having anyone to cook for. Occasionally I might have one person over but as a single person, coupled people seem reluctant to socialize with me. That is, I may be friends with one member of the couple, but the couple together does not invite or include me in anything. So I’d feel weird inviting the couples I know over.
  • Middle age catching up with large body and making heretofore simple movements not so simple anymore.
  • Being gone 12 hours a day, so any kind of exercise is limited. Water exercise would be best, but there is no 8 PM water aerobics class around here that I can find.
  • Being a bit overwhelmed by things like wanting to eat whole, unprocessed foods but being so exhausted by work that I don’t want to drive all over the Bay Area to find the best organic stuff and then actually cook it. (See item #3 above.)
  • Being lonely and yet set in my living-alone ways.
  • The probably universal terror/despair of being in my late 40s with pretty much no dream of mine realized.

Total FWP. I have a job and a home and I travel. My health is relatively good despite clinical depression, anxiety, and arthritis. I do have family and a few friends. I am not starving; I don’t live in a shantytown; I am unlikely to contract Ebola or anything else devastating like that; I didn’t even feel today’s earthquake.

But when I think about writing, my fingers and my heart feel like lead, and so I haven’t been. Maybe rambling about this will help clear out some of that.

 

 

Lukewarm

Although I’ve thrown my hands up about the whole religion issue, there are several Bible verses that stick with me. One of them I use when I am borrowing trouble and worrying about what will happen tomorrow and the next day and the next. One is the second half of Matthew 6:34 in the KJV rendering: Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

And then there’s Revelation 3:15-16: I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.

I feel so lukewarm. And by that I don’t mean that I am apathetic (although lately I’ve been having spates of apathy). I mean that in so many ways I have completely competing desires, and I find myself flailing in the middle.

  • Ethically, I would far prefer to be a vegetarian. But I don’t find a vegetarian diet satisfying; it’s much harder to plan meals; and then there’s chicken, which I love love love. My wishy-washy solution to this is to eat only chicken and, very rarely, some fish. The fact that I don’t eat mammals (or ducks) is probably not a lot of comfort to chickenkind.
  • About that not eating mammals. I do wear/carry leather. I guess at least the animals’ sacrifices are much more long-lasting than a meal, but OTOH, do I need to have a leather purse? Shoes are harder — you can’t find many comfy, breathable, decent-looking non-leather shoes in 10WW. Still.
  • I wish with my whole heart I’d been born and raised in Europe — the UK or France for preference, but anywhere in the EU really.  I can’t read accounts of people who get to move there (unless this is pre-WWII stuff), because it breaks my heart in pieces. I tried to move once and failed miserably and I became discouraged. That was 24 years ago. Now I am firmly ensconced here, with a secure job and a house and animals, and if someone handed me an EU passport tomorrow I would be paralyzed with fear and might not even go. This is my biggest “I want two mutually exclusive things” issue.
  • For a long time, that’s where I was with religion — part of me wanted to be a pious Roman Catholic or Orthodox Christian, while the rest of me was an extremely liberal feminist. At least I’ve finally given up that struggle.
  • I struggle between believing in Fat Acceptance and saying, “I’m me; get off my back” and applauding people who embrace their lives and bodies…and wishing I weighed 130 pounds. The last time I weighed 130 pounds I was ten. It’s never going to happen.

Of course I have normal conflicts like “I wish I were a morning person so I could get up, have coffee and breakfast before I leave instead of rolling out of bed 12 minutes before I’m in the car,” “I really should get up off the couch, off the computer, and do something around here,” and “I should go to the farmer’s market and get locally grown, cheaper stuff, but the time window for that is so small and the grocery store is open until 11 PM.” But that’s not the same thing, because I don’t really want to get up early, do chores around the house, or…well, maybe the farmer’s market one works.

I’m really not sure what to do when I want two completely mutually exclusive things, especially when both choices are equally attainable. With the Europe thing, I should probably just learn to live with staying in the United States, since one choice is my current reality and the other is seriously difficult to get (even if I could get over my paralysis).

Somehow I think I thought by the time I was this age I’d have more things figured out. My bedroom seems like an apt metaphor for this — when I was growing up, parents’ bedrooms looked like something out of a hotel or, at least, a motel. Neatly made bed, a dresser or two, nothing strewn about, only actual tasteful framed stuff on the walls. My room? I never make my bed, ever — never have. My dresser has random stuff dotting it. My nightstand is piled with books, and the floor next to my bed has more books, whatever purse I’m carrying, and a laundry basket on it. Often the rocker has clothes tossed over it. I do have only framed art on the walls, but one corner has no art on the walls, a big mirror propped against the wall, a chair, a foot pedaler, and a big floor fan. It looks like the room of a twentysomething.

Yeah. It’s an apt metaphor. Now if only I moved and looked like I was still in my twenties!

 

Get Your Pre-Monday Right Here

Ye gods and little fishes, it’s Sunday night again.

My current job assignment has sent me to the doctor twice in four months for stress-and-anxiety-related stuff. Tomorrow I have to go for something else, and I am so miserable with work that there is an awful voice inside half-wishing it were something serious because then I might get a break. How terrible is that?!

I am looking for ways to have some energy in the evenings, so that I don’t end up in bed at 7:45 after being gone from 6:15 to 6:15. So far I’ve come up with: Have a cool shower as soon as I’ve fed the cats, to invigorate me and help me stay vertical; have a cup of espresso; do some gentle yoga. I know exercise is supposed to be good but the walking I have recently incorporated into my days has actually made me more exhausted at night (I know that’s just short-term adjustment). Having said that, when I go abroad I walk everywhere and it wears me out, so I need to do more of it here in order to be in some semblance of shape then!

Still…this is one hellish rotation for this here introvert with general anxiety!

Today has been a day of knitting, reading, a lot of black coffee, and The Day I Saw Your Heart. Is it just me, or does Mélanie Laurent look like a cross between Scarlett Johanssen and a young Rosanna Arquette? It was a good movie, and I caught quite a bit of the language, which makes me happy, but a bit wrenching as well. Nonetheless it was good to spend ninety minutes in France this afternoon.
And now I think I am going to be a totally irresponsible person and get fast food for dinner. If I were in France I might go to the local brasserie — like the one at Place de la Nation where I had my last lunch in Paris in 2012, the yummy Alsatian butter noodles and chicken — but since I’m not, and since I have not got cooking mojo today, I’m defaulting to lowest common denominator here.

Panic Hangover

This last week was a roller coaster — started in Member Services, where I love my cozy, surrounded-on-three-sides cubicle and my coworkers are lovely, but I’m still terrified; then went to hear David Sedaris read in Marin (he was hilarious and touching); had a blissfully lazy Thursday off; back to work Friday where I sort of froze and didn’t do so well; got an affectionate text from someone I once sort of dated, meant for whomever he’s dating now, which was awkward; screwed up a lace scarf three times before I realized I just wasn’t ever going to enjoy this pattern; and then spent Saturday trying to catch up on NaNoWriMo.

This was problematic. I had chosen for my November writing a quasi-autobiographical thing, because I thought it would be the easiest to zoom through in thirty days. No research or anything. While that is true, I am also disliking the narrator (hi! that would be me!) and finding reliving some unpleasant things (yay! divorce!) kind of harrowing.

On top of that, I’ve been writing in the dining room, when I normally spend more time in my room or in the TV room, and so I am near the cats’ water dish. I don’t know if my older cat is drinking more than usual or if I just never knew how much either of them drank because I was rarely in here. Coupled with reading on another blog about the death of a much-beloved old cat, and the depression engendered by my NaNoWriMo project, I spent last night following my cat around and actually catnapping her and making her come upstairs to sleep with me. She’s fine, really, she’s just 11.

But I lay in bed last night with my heart pounding and my stomach aflutter with worried butterflies. And today I have a hangover from it.

And it’s Sunday, which is its own day of anxiety and dread. GOOD TIMES.

I’ve been making a concerted effort to read happier things online, to avoid all but the most important news, to surround myself with uplifting things, because between work and my natural tendency toward depression and anxiety, I certainly don’t need any help being downcast.

It works, to a certain extent. Any suggestions for fun, bright, intelligent reading material or other entertainment welcome.

Lighting Advent candles soon should help too. i just bought these gorgeous handrolled beeswax candles:

 

You can buy the sheets to roll them yourself, if you're the handy sort.

You can buy the sheets to roll them yourself, if you’re the handy sort.

Now I’m off to have coffee with the same ex-sort-of-boyfriend who mis-texted me the other day. At least there’s a latte in my future, no?

Tomorrow, back to work, where I am going to try to steel myself and do better. At least I get to be ensconced in this cozy corner:

No one can pop up behind me and startle me anymore.

No one can pop up behind me and startle me anymore.

And, as always, I start the day by getting there early and making a strong cup of coffee. Whatever bribery works, eh?

Craptastic Week

It is no secret that I am not driven by career ambition. I work to support myself because I am single and not possessed of an independent fortune. That’s the only reason.

I started working full time in 1990. From that year until April 2010, I was miserable. Sometimes I was acutely miserable. Sometimes I was vaguely miserable. There were short bouts of optimism (the four times I started new jobs and thought maybe this time I will like it!), bracketed by unhappiness.

When I started my current job, there was a rough patch during probation when I was worried things might not go well. But they did, and for three and a half years I have been … content. Seriously! It was a miracle, and I do not use that term lightly. I didn’t cry every day. I didn’t contemplate wild escape plans. I didn’t dread every waking weekday moment. It was glorious!

And then this week happened.

Unlike everywhere else I’ve ever worked (or heard of), my office does rotations. They periodically blow up everything and almost everyone changes into a different unit, regardless of their talents. If I ran the universe, people would be put where they’re good and left there to excel, but that’s not how it’s done.

I liked my quiet, very-little-interaction, routine job. I got rotated into Member Services. Strangers all day every day. They’re going to make me do presentations — me, who bribed my high school government teacher by offering to do two reports for every one everyone else did as long as I didn’t have to do oral reports; me, who speaks at lightning speed when she has to speak in public; me, the most introverted person anyone knows.

I cried throughout the entire department meeting and then sobbed in the bathroom for a half hour.

Later, I did talk to HR and to the Assistant Director and they’re being compassionate. My coworkers are being great. I am still sick to my stomach.

The flip side of this disastrous coin is that this, too, is temporary. Eighteen to thirty-six months and then, God willing, I will be rotated out of there, back into the back, away from the flood of strangers and public speaking.

The HR director, who is amazed that I can travel alone, asked the other day how I could do that if Member Services terrifies me. I told her that when you’re traveling, you are working within certain parameters. You know how airports work — SFO is different from Prague’s Ruzyne, yes, but they’re airports and they function essentially the same way. Cabs, hotels, museums, restaurants — all pretty standard. (Notice that I don’t go trekking through Nepal. I go to Europe.) Sure, there can be curve balls, but basically they’re within the limits you know and understand. When my luggage got lost, or when I got the 24-hour bug and was throwing up alone in Paris, then yes, I wanted someone with me. But even then, you know how it goes — luggage shows up eventually; you feel better eventually.

Also, in these cases, you’re the stranger someone else must assist. People will generally be nice to you, or at least neutral. In Member Services, though there are some parameters, I am not the person people need to be nice to. I’m the person who needs to be nice. I’m the person who needs to take it (to a certain extent) if people are nasty or difficult, when I shut down completely during confrontation. I either get furious or I want to cry, and in either case I am speechless.

The good part is that everyone is committed to making this as non-horrible as possible. I have awesome, awesome coworkers, for whom I am genuinely grateful. They were all deeply concerned and kind; no one was saying “Pfft! She needs to get the hell over it!” Thank God.

So that was my week of deep unhappiness. I fled Friday night and was so happy that this weekend is one hour longer than the usual. Now it’s Sunday. The rotation isn’t official until a week from Tuesday, when we get back from Veteran’s Day, but there will be transitional things this week. I am going to look into getting a better doctor at Kaiser so I can get better anti-anxiety meds, and otherwise I think I need to function on autopilot for a bit.

I did, however, write my NaNoWriMo quota last night.

I get one for every day I write my quota. I forgot to take one Friday so I had two yesterday.

I get one for every day I write my quota. I forgot to take one Friday so I had two yesterday.

Square Peg

…which is always the first thing I think of when I think of Sarah Jessica Parker.

And it doesn’t exactly describe me, but I’ve been thinking about this sort of thing lately. I remember as a teenager reading magazines and I’d stress over them trying to pigeonhole their readership into things like athletic (no); studious (yes); romantic (sure); and various other slots. I never fit into any of them and it drove me nuts. I was insufficiently sophisticated to say screw it, these don’t apply to me.

That kind of thing segued into my “almost, but not quite” era. I went to a great women’s college — but unlike almost every other student there at the time, I didn’t live on campus. Unlike almost all the other commuting students, I lived with my parents.

Later I worked in Silicon Valley during the dot-com bubble — but I was paid less than anyone save the receptionist (maybe); I was certainly not buying houses or sports cars, and though I was married at the time, I was not honeymooning in Italy or sporting a big ring. Boy, did I not fit in there. (When we did buy a car — the cheapest model Corolla — people asked me “What does your husband drive?” Uh…the cheapest model Corolla. That Corolla.)

These days, it’s morphed again. I think about how my pretty traditional theological views clash with my very liberal politics; my deep-rootedness in the United States clashes with my visceral, painfully passionate desire to live in France, Belgium, or the UK; my loneliness clashes with my love of solitude; my firebrand feminism with my longing to be housewife.

To turn some of this tension to good account, I’m using this theme for my NaNoWriMo project. While I wish I could just freaking wholeheartedly commit to something already, I know I’m not the only one who is ambivalent about things, even important things. It’s at least something that gets under my skin, so I won’t be at a total loss on November 1. Which is Friday. Oy!

So Much Crazy, So Little Time

Unlike normal offices (to the extent that there is such a thing), we get rotated from unit to unit every so often. I love my quiet, kind of dull, almost-no-public-interaction job, where I know what I’m doing and I’m not anxious. The lack of anxiety is a first. This has been the best three years of my work life. In November — one of my favorite months! — we will have rotations. No matter where I go it will be less of a good fit than where I am now, and if I have to go to Member Services and deal with strangers all day every day face to face, there’s going to be a Klonopin Rx in my future. And a lot of alcohol in my evenings.

To say that I was full of dread is a bit of an understatement. OK, it’s a massive, massive understatement. I think it’s a terrible way to run an office — I think you should find out what people are good at, and leave them there to excel — but it’s entirely out of my hands. I just want to stay in my quiet corner under the radar, left alone, but that is not going to happen. So!

I was seeing my hynotherapist yesterday to work on the writer’s block, and she did some eye movement desensitization with me around that. So going from 10 on a 1-10 scale of terror to something around a 1 was good. I’m feeling resigned. I’m hoping that resignation is a way station on the way to finding a bright side. I guess learning something new will be good for my brain.  I can’t say what Member Services would be good for — learning to handle being stressed out and scared all day every day? OK, I need to stop that! It will be fine… it will be fine... nothing is forever, especially in this office.

Previous to this little work bombshell, I slipped on the stairs coming down to feed the cats on Wednesday, and bent my right leg to the side and back — so my foot was up near my hip as I slid down the stairs. OH JOY. I stayed home with ice and ibuprofen. I went to work Thursday but just getting around was exhausting so I took yesterday off. It’s better now but still uncomfortable and makes for slow going.

And finally, although I’ve lived here a year and it was here when I got here, apparently my AC unit is a violation of the HOA rules. It’s the only thing that makes my bedroom livable in summer. Much panicking ensued. I have a request in to the architecture committee to be able to have it up July – October. We shall see.

I would like a stiff drink and a long bath, but I’m a little worried about mixing vodka and ibuprofen, and about bending my leg to get into the tub.

This Right Here

Is why it breaks my heart I can’t live in Europe.

I feel about this roughly the same way an infertile couple who desperately wants children feels when they see pregnant women. Yes, I know there are Americans who live in Europe, and even Americans who live in Europe who aren’t married to Europeans. But I never managed to find a way to do it, and now I’m a homeowner with a secure job here in the US and my only hope is retiring there, since I won’t need to work by then.

And my current life is not being made to seem more attractive by the news in the following post.

 

A Good Friend is Hard to Find (When You’re All Grown Up)

Seriously.

Someone on Facebook said that oh no, she finds it much easier to make friends as an adult since she no longer cares if people like her or not. She also says there are plenty of single people out there who want to hang out.

She and I live in very different milieux.

What I find it that it’s more difficult than it was when you had classes with people roughly your age with roughly the same interests, with whom you could fall into a going-to-coffee routine, or a studying routine, or a going-out-and-drinking routine, or whatever. And I also find that most of the people I meet are partnered, and from observation I’ve seen that partnered women are less likely to ditch their SOs and go out with their female friends for anything other than a daytime excursion than partnered men are to ditch their SOs and go out at night with their buddies.

That’s probably not true across the board, but from the partnered women I know I hear tales of their guys going out without them, but they never either tell me of going out without the guys or, indeed, go out with me without the guys.

Soooo, yeah.

The thing is, I don’t want to join a club or a group or something. A book club was suggested, which is a bad idea for me. I tried one once and it didn’t go well, as I should have guessed since I don’t care for genre fiction of any kind, except maybe mysteries sometimes, and my attempts to suggest serious literary fiction were met with subdued enthusiasm, shall we say. Also, I don’t want another obligation (“Book club Thursday at 7:30! Must read book first!”) or a recurring appointment I must keep. I just want friends with whom I can hang out, or go do one-off, non-über-organized things.

I may have to give that idea up and either decide that solitude (broken up by rare episodes of socializing when one of my partnered friends can get away) is the way to go, or that I have to take on obligations of the “club” variety in order to make some new friends.

I know I’ve said this before — maybe here, maybe not — but I used to watch Friends and think that although I wouldn’t like people barging into my apartment without knocking (and I’d lock my door), I yearned for a group of friends who all knew, liked, and socialized with each other. Obviously that was idealized, but I had a version of that in high school, when I was in Rainbow and my good friends were either also in Rainbow or in Job’s or DeMolay. It was a bigger group, of course, comprising at least one Rainbow Assembly, a Bethel, and both local and area DeMolay guys, and we weren’t all best buds, but there was a lot of common socializing both via our Masonic youth groups and outside but with the same group. My first real boyfriend (who turned 50 on Saturday! Ye gods! He was older than I was but still) was a DeMolay guy, and all our common friends were in the Masonic family.

But now I’m an adult and I need to find a new way. When I was married I was okay with hunkering down with my husband. Before that, most of my friends were single, so much more available. Now… it’s tough. I’m at a bit of a loss. Hopefully I can figure something out because while I do not want to be busy every night of the week (how exhausting), I am a little tired of the status quo.

Good times!

(Don’t suggest joining Eastern Star based on the above. I actually can, now that they admit Rainbow Majority Members, but I am way too far to the left. When I was in high school, politics didn’t really matter so much and we certainly didn’t discuss them at your average DeMolay Sweetheart Ball,  you know?)