Monday, March 28, 2011

Down time

Most boring blogger ever. There's actually a lot on my mind--deep thoughts, the kind people actually seem to read--but I've decided to focus on the inane minutiae of my day because it's easier to write about:

No work today. I had such plans for myself, such a robust to-do list. Instead, I've spent the day puttering. Farting around. Being pseudo-productive.

After checking email, Facebook, and Dear Abby, it was time for a shower. After that, I spent an hour counting all of the loose change I had gathered from all over the house ($18.57) while also watching "I didn't know I was pregnant." Counting all of the change and organizing it for a future bank deposit certainly felt like I was doing something.

Next I took the time to brush the very hairy cat and cut some mats off of her underside. By then, it was almost time for lunch. I bought Miracle Noodles some time ago, but I've been putting off eating them once I realized they really only lend themselves to Asian recipes. The texture defies description, but if smothered in enough of any Thai sauce recipe, they're manageable.

I set out to cook up a Thai version of sesame noodles. Halfway through it occurred to me that the amount of sesame oil used in the recipe probably negated any benefit from the lack of calories in the noodles themselves. It took me an hour to actually produce lunch. Part of the problem is that cooking is the last frontier I haven't really conquered in terms of ADD. It just takes me longer.

Eventually, lunch was prepared, I ate it, it was still weird, and I had trashed the kitchen. Add 30 minutes kitchen cleanup. By then it was time to watch "The Doctors," during which I got the urge to bake oatmeal cookies. Maybe it's because I bought a massive plastic sack of Sunmaid raisins and vat of Quaker oats at Costco last week. Lately, I've been possessed by some bizarre streak of domesticity. Not sure where that's coming from, but so far, it has not inspired me to do any actual, useful, or necessary housework. Like cleaning. Unless you count brushing the cat.

Now it's late afternoon. I had to go out to the supermarket to buy sugar, butter, and brown sugar for the cookies (still not started, let alone baking).

Frankly, I'm exhausted.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


My brain is melting. Middle age is robbing me of cognitive function, sleep, IQ points, hipness, libido, metabolism, eyesight, and the ability to get a haircut that is not age-appropriate.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Being in the demographic

The school multipurpose room was packed. Students were stationed at tables and along the walls, ready to do their three-minute presentations about the intensive job-shadowing projects they had recently completed.

I was there in support of the refugee kids. I knew their parents wouldn't be coming, but it seemed important that a familiar adult show up in a gesture of support and solidarity.

Weaving my way through the crowd, I tried to figure out if there was any order to the arrangement of tables and projects. Someone called my name, and I felt a hand on my sleeve. It was Susan, the one-woman champion of refugee kids in our state. She doesn't work for anyone--technically she's unemployed, but she is, for all intents and purposes, both a social worker and a parent liaison. She works long days shuttling refugee kids to school, to appointments, to activities, and occasionally, to court or community service. She makes sure paperwork is completed, major assignments are understood, and grades are explained to parents who have no grasp of the U.S. education system.

Susan led me over to the table where Mohamed was ready to talk about his exposure to the field of acting. His poster listed traits of "Bad Acting" and "Good Acting." Unfortunately, the video he had worked so hard to film and edit as the culmination of his project would not run on the laptop that had been provided for the day.

After Mohamed finished telling us about good and bad acting, we headed to the corner of the room to hear his sister and her best friend tell us what they had learned about hunger in America and nutrition. The girls were giggly, but tried to pretend that we were just like anyone else who would stop by that afternoon.

While i listened to them recite statistics about why fast food is a nutritional nightmare, we were joined by Judy, the social worker who had helped shepherd these girls through middle school. As the presentation wrapped up, Debbie, a 43-year-old social worker from an agency similar to Boys and Girls Clubs, greeted Judy with a big hug.

We laughed that all four of us had come to the event because we were concerned that the refugee kids wouldn't have any adult support on this important day. The room was packed with students, siblings, parents, and teachers--and the four of us rounded out the mix. We joked about how it really does "take a village," and how happy we were to be in our village together. As villagers, we we were fairly well-coordinated in terms of what we were able to accomplish behind the scenes.

In the midst of this conversation, I had a brief thought about my previous life in the corporate world and how I tried so hard to fit in there, but with mixed results. I hadn't worried about fitting in among colleagues for a very long time. Then, I almost laughed out loud. I was looking down at my feet, and I realized that what I saw were four pairs of feet in black tights or socks, tucked into clunky black clogs. All four us were similarly dressed: long, loose skirt, a short, boxy, mostly-shapeless jacket, and a rumpled shirt, all in shades of black and brown. We were four frumpy middle-aged women who looked like we definitely played for the same team.

I never thought of myself as being in a particular work-style demographic, but now I see that our village has a very definite look. Hey, we're comfortable, we can easily sit on the floor in a house with no furniture, and if we get dirty doing that, it won't show.

Years from now, I doubt the kids will remember what any of of us wore, but I hope they'll remember that our bedraggled bunch made time to show up because it mattered.

Monday, March 7, 2011


OK, seriously. I'm almost 50 years old. What's up with the fucking acne? My face is a mess, and I feel just as bad about it now as I did 35 years ago. So gross.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

But remember

I am a good person.
I am kind and generous, even when I don't want to be.
I'm a safe and courteous driver.
I help people on a daily basis.
I'm dependable.
I work hard and I am productive.
I contribute to making the world a better place.
I vote, but not until I've researched everything on the ballot, even the judges.
I'm helpful.
I'm cooperative.
I'm responsible, ethical, and I try really hard to be considerate, although I recognize that one may be in the eye of the beholder.
I put money in other people's about-to-expire parking meters.
I'm punctual because it's polite, even though punctuality is a life challenge for me.
I'm careful to center my car in the parking space, and I'm extra-careful not to cause door dings on any vehicle near mine.
I'm obedient.
I put in extra effort in almost anything I take on.
I follow up.
I follow through.
I pay my bills, not only on time, but usually a month in advance.
I try not to be overtly rude, if I can help it.

I mention this because I don't ever want to give the impression that I just sit in a corner wringing my hands about the things that cause me anxiety. I actually try to live mindfully and to be as productive as I can be. For whatever that's worth.

Why I'm here

Really, I should stop whining about not having anyone to talk to. That's the purpose of this blog--to keep up the conversations in my head as if there were someone listening. Somewhere along the line, I started to get concerned about reader interest, but I never started writing here for anyone except me. It was because I really had no one to talk to.

I tried to explain to Frank tonight that it's hard for me to try to be the person that everyone else likes--especially since that means I need to be someone different in at least five different contexts a day. First I have to figure out what each person (who matters) likes and doesn't like. Then I have to remember which traits to assign to myself and produce on demand depending on who's around me. It has been exhausting.

More than exhausting, it has been frustrating. It has resulted in failure. Despite my efforts at presenting the custom-tailored personality on demand, I still have no one to talk to on a regular basis. I'm annoying in any context. Boring, too, apparently. How embarrassing is that? Frank isn't interested in any of the things I would normally talk about in the course of the day. He actually came out and said that about a year-and-a-half ago. I was down to what I thought was the last topic I could still chat about, but Frank was standing there at the kitchen sink. He stopped what he was doing, looked me in the eye, and said, "I just don't care. This isn't anything I have any interest in hearing about."

And here's the part of that that really sucks. He goes on and on and on every day about the same four topics: Thuy, the annoying woman he works with, public policy related to federal funding where he works, fixing the upholstery on his car seats, and the dog. Now, for the most part, I've heard it all many times over--it's just variations on a theme, but at least I am polite enough to listen and to bite my tongue and to not blurt out that I don't give a shit about whatever it is he's going on and on about. I don't walk away, interrupt, or change the subject while he's mid-sentence. This is my life, though, and exactly what I experience every day at home and outside of it.

I know I need to just shut the fuck up. I get it--I have nothing of value to say and I'm fucking boring. Still, is it so goddam hard for people to be somewhat polite, tolerant, and at least pretend to be engaged--like I do?

When I pointed out to Frank that I had essentially stopped talking at home, I also said it was painful to me that he hadn't really noticed. He said he had noticed, but assumed that I just didn't feel like talking. Then he accused me--as he often does--of intentionally remembering everything he says that I don't like. Well, yes, I told him, that's exactly what I do because all of those things are lessons--they are the things I need to catalogue and remember because that's what becomes the rules about how I'm supposed to behave. If something makes you unhappy, I need to never forget it so I can make sure not to do it again. I've done this my whole life, and as the third child in the birth order, I always observed what got my older siblings in trouble so I would know not to do whatever that was.

If I could take a vow of silence, I would, but it's not how my brain is wired. I still feel compelled to talk. I told Frank that the anxiety and effort of trying to remember all of these lessons so I don't disappoint or exasperate anyone is proving not to be worth it, and what I really want is to just be dead so it will be over, so it will stop, so I can stop. I told him that I have nothing. The house is his, not mine. I have no friends here--not even remotely close by. I have nothing. Trying to be me hasn't worked out, and trying to be who everyone else likes me to be hasn't changed anything, either. What's the point? My whole life has become about trying to make other people more comfortable, and in return I get...the loud and clear message to be neither seen nor heard.

Frank told me I should go back to therapy, but therapy is stupid--a scam. I am through paying someone to sit there and listen to me. That may be the most humiliating thing I've ever had to do to give myself the illusion that someone is paying attention.

I do solemnly swear

I won't leave debt and I won't leave a mess. The bills will be paid ahead for at least a month.

I promise.