Saturday, January 20, 2018

Well, that was embarrassing...

Did I ever tell you about the time I met a man so good looking, I actually forgot my own damn name? Yeah, that actually happened, like, in real life. It was humiliating and something I will never, ever forget.

It came to mind today while I was listening to a romance audio book. One of the characters had an experience like this, forgetting their own name because the man was so hot. I started to roll my eyes, because, really...  And, then I'm pretty sure I actually blushed. Alone, at home, like anyone could see me. Yes, this actually happens. It happened to me.

A couple of years ago, I took a temp job during the summer. I was teaching at the university at the time, but wasn't working in the summer. There was a bit more too this particular temp job, but it's not really significant, so I'll skip it. On the day of the event, as I like to remember it, a fellow employee was showing me around the department when we crossed paths with one of our bosses.

The man stopped and they made small talk for a second before she turned to me and introduced him. When he looked at me I literally just stared at him. A good minute passed in what felt like an eternity before I realized I was just standing there, gaping at this man like an idiot. I managed to remember that I should introduce myself, but the damage was done. The woman who introduced us was standing beside me grinning like a man woman.

He was gracious about it, extending a hand to me. We shook and I blushed, and we went about our business. He handled it so smoothly that I wondered at the time whether or not that's ever happened to him before. When he was gone, the woman who had introduced us took the opportunity to rib me about it and then she told everyone else in the department. So, I got a reputation in my group at work as the woman who forgot her own name because the boss was so hot.

But here's the thing, he was good looking. Very good looking--tall, broad shoulders, blue eyes, a strong jaw, soft but masculine voice. He was not, however, so good looking that I should have lost my shit like that. For whatever reason, I did, and to this day I remember it with something akin to embarrassed horror. I wouldn't say he's even the best looking person I'd ever met. Not even close.

So, tonight while listening to my book, I took pity on the poor character and didn't roll my eyes. Instead, I sympathized. That is a really, truly, horrible experience. While everyone has embarrassing moments, that particular thing is a level of embarrassment you never, ever forget. Like, ever. Seriously.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Watch Your Language

Living in Utah for two and a half years now, I think I'm qualified to say that this is the most puritanical place I have ever lived... ever been, really. It's so damn wholesome, at least on the surface, it kind of makes me gag. Everything is geared toward kids and having kids, or religion and recruiting for said religion. It's absurd. There are few things to do here if you're an adult who enjoys adult things, like drinking and museums that're not about Mormon pioneers.

But the most annoying thing, their language. Nobody says fuck, or even damn. Like, ever. Ever. No, they say freak and darn. They don't say "what the fuck?!" They say, "what the freak?!" And somehow, this watered down language has infected me. I've caught the prudish language virus and it's rewiring my brain to be more respectable. I've begun saying freak, instead of fuck. It's pretty damn annoying and Matt has noticed. So, now, every time I say freak he shames me. Which is kind of pissing me off, actually.

No, it's really, really pissing me off. At first, it was only once in a while, but now every time he hears me say freak, rather than fuck, he makes a comment. Yesterday, he said, "you'll feel better if you just let it out," and it took me a minute to figure out what he was talking about. I told him to shut the fuck up because more than his poking at my vocabulary, I'm upset that I've allowed it to happen. I don't want to be a linguistic sheep. I want to be who I am, but hearing people say freak and darn has somehow invaded my language.

I understand dialects. I understand regional colloquial language. I understand how language patterns can change over time and with exposure. When I moved to the south I swore I wouldn't ever say "y'all" and I say it all the time now. I say it without even noticing. I type it in text, use it on social media, and even in blog posts.  And, even though we don't live in Texas anymore, I still say it. It's become a staple in my vocabulary. I do not want freak and darn to become staples in my vocabulary.

I will not submit to this facet of the culture I've been thrust into. I just won't. So, on that note, here's what I'm currently working on to make myself feel a little bit more, well, like myself. It's from Subversive Cross Stitch and is a reminder I need every single day, both because of my anxiety and because of my issues with the soft language I seem to be picking up against my will...


Yes, there's a link up there for the pattern. No, it's not a paid link or endorsement. I just like the product, okay?! Glad we got that settled.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Depression, Obsession

I'm having a little bit of trouble sleeping again. I've wrestled with insomnia off and on since I was 14. About that time I started to develop symptoms of depression and anxiety. As the years have passed, the insomnia is at it's worst when I'm struggling the most. I'm either all in with sleep and want to sleep 15 hours a day, or I can't sleep more than three or four hours a night. Never much in the middle.

But , I've noticed that when I'm dealing with insomnia and trying to sleep, I tend to obsess. It's a completely unhealthy habit and I know it's linked to my anxiety, but yeah, I obsess. Which is saying something since, on a good day, my brain obsesses about everything. This isn't that, not at all. This is so much worse. So much more powerful. My mind latches on to something and beats me over the head with it. I get an idea or a thought it becomes so potent, I'm unable to think about anything else. But the thoughts are so loud, I can barely close my eyes, let alone go to sleep. It's a never ending cycle of obsession and sleeplessness. It fucking sucks.

It's not always, or even usually, anything that matters or that I can control. Most of the time, it's some freak thing my mind latches on to and won't let go. Or, I worry about things that do matter, but that are so far outside of my control that I wouldn't even begin to be able to do anything about them. But, most of the time, it's the random thoughts about completely random crap.

Take last night, for example. I've been listening to a hell of a lot of audio books on Audible. I absolutely love them. I love being read to while I do other things. It's the best of both worlds, it's like reading a book and being able to play video games at the same time. Anyway, I listen almost exclusively to romance novels. Audible has a romance package now and I cannot deal with how many books I can listen to for a small fee every month. I'm taking full advantage. Most of the books are narrated by Sebastian York.

This is where the obsession plays in. For most narrators, you can just Google them and there are pictures. They have social media. You can put a name with the face, which is sometimes good and somethings not, depending on your personal ability to suspend disbelief. For this particular narrator, though, there's nothing. Lots of articles about him and interviews with him, but not a single picture to be found anywhere. It's a pseudonym, of course, which doesn't help.

But, I'm a little bit a lot obsessed with his voice. I literally listen to books because he's narrating them, it just so happens that I've also enjoyed them all. But, my brain could not let go of the fact that there isn't a single picture anywhere. I spent hours scouring the web looking for even one single picture. All I came up with were tidbits of information, like that he's also a pilot in New York City, and the fact that this mystery about him is intentional. Obviously, right, otherwise there would be a picture somewhere. He likes "the mystery."

In the dead of night, when I can't sleep and my mind cannot let go of the search, I pretty much hate the mystery. Hate. It. So, I lay in my bed and obsess, scouring my brain for details I may have missed and calling on my education, which has made me a top notch researcher. But, it's also kind of pointless, which my brain knows in an intellectual way, but can't seem to grasp in an emotional way. Ultimately, I'm aware that it's not even him that I'm obsessing about, it's just the need to latch onto something to obsess over and he's an easy target because I listen so many audio books.

Really though, he's beside the point and is just one example. Whether it's him or not, I'm going to obsess over something. Usually something just outside my reach, like finding a picture of man with an amazing voice, who has gone out of his way to stay obfuscated. I choose to latch onto something that was unreachable, just like always. I think, maybe, if I could find a pic of the man, this obsession might subside... but it would only be replaced with another pointless, baffling, and frankly, ridiculous obsession.

But hey, if he happened to want to send me a pic, I wouldn't say no. ♥

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Gone too soon

The last post was supposed to be my last one of the year. Then tonight I learned that one of our best friends, Tommy, died yesterday. He had a stroke. He was only in his late-30s. And as of right now, it's impossible to wrap my head around. Two days ago we were talking about Christmas and the possibility of Matt and me moving back to Texas. Today, he's gone.

While I try to comprehend the loss, I'm struggling to put it in perspective. All of the shitty things this year, that yesterday shone like blinding light, today are barely a dull glow. This one single thing makes everything else feel petty and unimportant. As I look toward a new year, one that follows so closely on this loss, I can't help thinking about how short life is. How we never know, from one day to the next, when it'll be over or who will be taken from us.

And, I can't help wanting to try harder to make my dreams a reality. To finish writing my book, to lose the weight I've been struggling to shed, to try to be healthier. To try harder to live in a way that's meaningful. But I'm cautious too, because I think death can do this to the living, make us see for a while how fleeting it all is. I'm nearly 40 years old and I can't help feeling like it's now or never, even more so than ever before.

This is the first time I've lost a friend to death. I'm so torn up inside. He was a friend of Matt's from work, who became a dear friend of ours. More than anything, he was an amazing person, always trying to make everyone around him laugh and feel happy. He was a good friend, a very smart guy, and had a great sense of humor. Above all, he was a unique and generous individual who will be missed dearly.

This is a pic I took of Matt and Tommy a few days before we moved to Utah. We all went out for pedicures and then dinner. I can't believe he's gone.




Saturday, December 30, 2017

Reflecting on 2017

The title is a little bit misleading. I just spent the last hour writing a blog post about how horrible 2017 was. Two minutes ago, I saved it as a draft and started over. It was a bad year, but I realized while producing a ten paragraph brain-spill about how fucking terrible everything is, that there's absolutely nothing productive in putting that out there. I've heard people say getting it all out there makes you feel better, it's one of the reasons people write journals and go to therapy. But, having a pity part didn't really make me feel better, it made me feel worse. Thinking about the miserable year I had, writing it down, seeing it in black and white made me feel like shit.

So, I'm not doing that. This will be the last post of 2017. I'm not going to make the last blog post of 2017 ten paragraphs about all the crap swirling around in my head right now. That's pointless. So instead, I'm going to talk about the few things I did to better myself this year and how I intend to make 2018 better than this year has been. That seems much more productive than wallowing in self-pity. So, here goes.

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Focus on Self 

The single best thing I did for myself this year was to try to turn my focus inward. What I mean is, I'm trying to start focusing on self-improvement and figuring out how I can help myself. I suffer with depression and anxiety, I have a pretty severe case of agoraphobia (which has been diagnosed as moderate, but feels pretty severe inside my head). Those issues have actually gotten worse this year. For whatever reason, my mental health is declining, which is confusing because every time I think it can't get worse, it does.

So, I started trying to focus on those things I could do, without going to therapy, to make myself feel better. To improve my mental health, even just a little bit. My husband suggested that mindfulness meditation might help with my anxiety and depression. He practices and swears by it. He's a pretty calm person, something many people actually comment on, and which he attributes largely to mindfulness. I figured I'd try it.

I downloaded the Calm app for my iPhone, upgraded to the premium service, and started trying this mindfulness meditation thing. The first thing, this shit is hard. It's not as easy as "breathe in, breath out, feel better." It may look that way on the outside, but it's tough and takes quite a lot of practice. Since I only started doing this late this year, I'm still trying to get the hang of it. What I like is that it focuses on trying to be mindful of yourself and your thoughts. No weird spirituality involved. It's like yoga for the mind.

The silver lining, it is actually helping me. I was skeptical that it would work at all and I tend toward pessimism, but am trying my hardest to take it seriously. I haven't had the energy to practice much this past month. I've been sick and can hardly breathe, so a practice that focuses largely on breathing is kind of out of the question. But, I have noticed an improvement in my ability to cope with my anxiety since I started doing this.

I plan to work harder to keep to a daily mindfulness meditation schedule in the coming year. Maybe that will make whatever's coming at us in 2018 easier to handle. If how I'm feeling so far is any indication, I'm hesitantly hopeful (ha... see what I did there?).

Weight loss

I lost 30 lbs this year. I may have gained some of that back during the holidays and with my depression, I tend to self-medicate with food, but I've manage to lose some weight. It's not a lot, especially for a whole year, but it's something. I'm counting it as a win for 2017 and something I hope continues into 2018, even though I have no plans to go on a "diet."

Writing

This is the hardest one. I've so neglected my writing, both this blog and my book projects. I've struggled with coming to terms with the fact that despite having written hundreds of thousands of words over the past ten or more years, I will likely never publish. The anxiety causes so much fear, I can't imagine putting myself out there that way. But, even still, I'm working on coming to terms with the fact that that's okay. That it's okay to write, just for me, without any artificial expectations about publishing. I can write the story in my head, the way I want, as an outlet for my creative energy. It's okay.

So, I've started to write again. A little at a time, I'm working on a novel that's been collecting virtual dust and I'm actually enjoying it. It's been nice. I'm hoping to finish that particular piece of work early this coming year. And, when I do, it will likely just sit in a folder on my hard drive. But again, that's okay.

I'm also going to try to blog more and work on starting another blog that I've been wanting to write for a long time. A book blog, of sorts, with a focus on romance--I read 3-4 romance novels a week, so I'd have more than enough material. At this point, the only thing holding me back on that project is that I can't seem to settle on a good title for said blog. Which actually kind of sucks since writing catchy titles for papers was sort of my jam in college. Professors would actually comment on how awesome my titles were. I think may be I'm losing my touch.

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Ultimately, though the year wasn't a particularly good one for me, it wasn't as terrible as it feels either. Somehow, wallowing in self-pity made it feel monumentally worse than it actually was. At best, it was a stagnant year where I accomplished absolutely nothing. It could have been much worse. But, I'm hoping as I approach my 40th year on this damn earth, that I can get something done. Even one accomplishment of any kind would really help me feel like I'm getting somewhere.

So, since it's the last post of the year, here's the last selfie I took in 2017. We went to Salt Lake to see the Christmas lights at Temple Square and I snapped this pic, all bundled up with my Star Wars scarf. It was damn cold and I look happier than I am. But at that moment, surrounded with Christmas lights and wearing brand new shoes that were absolutely killing me, I was content. In that moment, I was okay. That feels like something positive, however small.