Trying To Find Peace Within When There’s Panic Without

Today feels like a funeral.  Rest in peace, Hope.  Rest in peace, Promise of Better Days.

I’ve been staring at this screen, trying to figure out what I could possibly state that hasn’t already been stated in so many ways, so many times over.  It isn’t simply a sense of being bereft.  And no, I’m not going to “just get over it”.  That’s impossible.  I’m having a hard enough time getting through it.

This new era, for lack of a better term, is not brave, nor is it encouraging.  These are scary times.  Beyond the fear of the unknown, I’m dealing with anxiety of what I am – admittedly – assuming is going to happen.  As a woman, I am scared of having my rights taken away from me just because Drumpf wants the power.  Health insurance is a human need in this day and age.  To have Obamacare repealed, with nothing supplied in it’s stead, means for me a potential slow death.  Getting health insurance from the temp agency I get a majority of my work from will take a chunk of money out of my weekly pay.

If I don’t get health insurance, I get fined.  If I do get health insurance, I get charged.  Whether it’s “fined” or “charged”, I still have to pay to live.  Sounds a lot like getting mugged, right?  Yeah, that’s how it feels, too.

I worry that I have to look over my shoulder now, checking to see if some asshole is going to try and put his paws on me because he assumes he can.  Is someone going to order me to “go back where you came from”, simply because they hear my accent?  Do I have to adopt an American accent, sounding cartoon-y and obnoxious again, like I did when I was a kid?  Just to try and blend in?  To ensure a new target isn’t self-drawn?

In the beginning of this year, I had silently resolved to not revert to politics in every conversation I have.

This is, apparently, harder than I thought it would be.  The politics are everywhere and in everything.  They were especially prevalent in my blog yesterday, in which I put the Girl Scouts on blast for their participation in the Inauguration march.

That’s money saved!  Now that I’m no longer giving them my money, I have to find other cookies to eat.  Hey there, Trader Joe’s!  What’s doin’?

After posting the blog on the Facebook page for Shaunta Grimes’ Ninja Writers (a closed group), someone read it and proceeded to tell me to “get over it, you lost!”  At which point, I stood up for myself and told Rainbow Brite – in no uncertain terms – that with Drumpf, we all lose.  Someone else piped in saying it was a political post, which is partially true. (It was mostly about not getting young girls involved in the politics that involve a highly publicised sexual aggressor.)

I said it.  I meant it.  I stand by it.

Ms. Grimes apparently couldn’t handle this with diplomacy, and wordlessly booted me off the page.  No warning.  No mediation.

So much for freedom of speech, eh?

No problem.

As I type all of this, the Inept-guration is happening now.  I can’t watch the nightmare.

The question now is, where do we go from here?  A part of me would like to hide in an underground bunker hidden away in a state that neither Drumpf nor his mail-order bride knows about.  Another part of me wants to expand my work and succeed, just to spite the racist xenophobe dick-tator.  Rise up and take power of my life, my career as a writer, my hobbies in art, and to live my united-colours-of-Benetton existence and treat my neighbours of all colours, creeds and religions or lack-thereof, with respect.

Except Trump supporters.  They can fuck off into traffic.  He might be their president, but he’s not mine.

And I stand by that statement as well.

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A Boycott on the Girl Scouts

As someone who has spent well over two decades enjoying Girl Scout cookies (So many boxes of Thin Mints later, still not thin!), yesterday came as a blow when I had to decide they would no longer be a part of my life. Oh well. Looks like it’s just you and me, Joe-Joe’s!

Unless you’ve isolated yourself from all current events — and let’s face it, that IS a tempting idea — then you’ve heard that Girl Scouts will still be marching in the Inauguration shitshow…er, parade. Them, and every D-list celebrity you didn’t know was still alive. I suddenly can understand why Joanie stopped loving Chachi.

Back to the Girl Scouts.

I have a HUGE problem with them participating in the un-American Inept-Auguration. For an organization that is supposedly about female empowerment and teaching girls to be self-sufficient and helpful towards their fellow sisters and other people, I find it audacious that they will have any of their girls participate in this march in any capacity.

It seems as though Girl Scouts are more concerned with getting exposure than protecting the ideals, rights and honour of their troops.

While they want to state that they are a-political and do not favour one party or the other, they need to keep in mind that their customers are NOT a-political, and they DO stand on one side or the other.

Beyond that, Drumpf is a proven sexual offender, registered or not. He has been caught on a hot mic speaking about how he forces himself on women whether they want it or not. Not to put too fine a point on it, this orange POS wants to take away the rights of women who want full control of their own body, threatening to “punish them” if they go through with abortions.

And Girl Scouts is alright with this? Seriously?

On their own website, Girl Scouts indicate, “… they offered a helping hand to those in need and worked together to improve their corner of the world.”

Yet, they are supporting a very specific now-political figure who is doing his damnedest to disrespect, dishonour, and further objectify women. Drumpf has proven — repeatedly — that he cannot be trusted to treat all sexes, races and ethnicities with equality. He is working on repealing a healthcare program that has helped well over 10 million people.

And this is what Girl Scouts wants to support?

As a female American citizen, I cannot in good conscience support an organization that is willing to sell out and compromise the very people it states it was created for. Furthermore, I would encourage parents to look to healthier organizations for their daughters to participate in.

Give A Gift To Those Around You and Be Present

It isn’t anything new that people basically live on their phones these days. Those tiny gadget-bastards have everything on them. EVERYTHING!

Okay, nearly everything. For some reason, nobody has thought to come up with an app that teaches you how to walk as if you still have a pulse while you’re fully enthralled with your phone.

I say it like this for a myriad of reasons:

A) I’m super snarky. It’s like regular snarky, but with a little more salt. And a cape. Can I have a cape already? One damn cape? It doesn’t even have to be dry-clean only! I’m fine with taking it to the laundromat. I’m not asking to be Princess Snark, people. Tiaras cost way more than capes, I know this. Can I just have a cape? Please? (Isn’t there a rule somewhere that if you say “please”, you should automatically get whatever you ask for?)

2) I have to walk around Manhattan on a regular basis, primarily for work. This is not the same Manhattan that we saw in the movies from days of yore. Remember those days? The hustle-and-bustle days, where everybody was in a rush to get somewhere. The days where you could nearly get trampled if you weren’t moving fast enough, and you were slowing people down. People looked up and forward, aware of their surroundings.

We need this in Manhattan.  Why don’t we have this in all of NYC?  Hey deBlasio!  Step up your game!

These days, it’s not so much hustle-and-bustle as it is slug-and-drug. People are so sucked into their phones, they aren’t even trying to pretend they aren’t. I’m not sure if George Orwell would be laughing, moaning or rolling in his grave if he could see this. It’s not like he didn’t warn us, but would we listen? Noooooo! We’ve become so disconnected to each other in the physical sense, that when a person interrupts us from this bright, colourful screen, we become immediately irate and confrontational.

And I’m not using the royal “we” either, so quit cupping your hand like that. Put it down. You look silly.

I have created for myself an invisible “Fuck Off” wall, and all it took was headphones and a book. I don’t like talking on the phone very much, so I don’t have a cell phone so much as a Walkman that lets me take calls. Admittedly, my brain gets to the point where nothing else exists in the world until I’ve got David Bowie in my ears, at top volume, so that I don’t have to hear any other mortals in my immediate environment. I will press the “Volume” button as if it were linked to a morphine drip, and I was desperate for the pain of the real world to fade away. It’s that important to me.

The one thing I do that I don’t see a lot of other people doing, however, is I will stand to the far side of the path so that I can adjust my phone in whatever way possible, as opposed to those who prefer to stand smack dab in the middle of the sidewalk of 34th and 7th. If a text comes in, and it’s longer than a line, it’s over to the side I go. If I get a phone call, first I assume it’s the wrong number, because who would call me? Then I look at the screen and discover it’s an agency call. I will take the call while walking, but because this is New York City, and I’ve been to a lot of rock concerts without using ear plugs, I find a store I can tuck away into, and do my talking in there.

This doesn’t make me “better than” anyone. I’ve had people ask me if I assume as much, and the answer is always “no”. I don’t generally think in those parameters, because that’s not how I was raised. I say this with the caveat that while I don’t think I’m “better than” anyone, I do have the skill of “courtesy” that was instilled in me at a very young age by both my grandparents and my biological mother. To follow that, I do find myself intolerant of those who don’t afford the same respect.

Orange) I’m a minority. I fully realise that. I don’t think like most people I know. I’m “wired differently” if you will.

Bottom line is this, when you’re putting yourself out into the world where you have to share the air with others, remind yourself that you are, in fact, in the real world, and behave as such. Be present, be aware of your immediate surroundings, your neighbours (walking or otherwise). Try and understand that you may be on your own time, but when you’re walking on the busier sidewalks, at a speed just below “alive”, yeah, you’re going to piss people off. You’re now slowing down their time.

Zombie cell phone walkers are one of my biggest pet peeves. And I’m sure my telling them off for acting like zombies is a huge annoyance for them. We all have our little battles in life.

In the words of Kurt Vonnegut:

 

 

Excuse Me, Waiter, Could You Take This Decision Back? It’s Too Hard.

Earlier this morning, I had come to a decision I really didn’t want to make. I had been building myself up for the last few weeks to collect my things, box, bag or bin them, and pull up stakes to move to Rhode Island.

There was going to be a whole new life. It was going to be better, it was going to be less of a struggle, there was going to be pizza right around the corner.

Okay, so I have to walk down a few blocks to get the pizza, so what?

After spending this last weekend in the room I was supposed to take on, getting a feel for the immediate environment, and being given new, upsetting information AFTER I had stated that I would take the room, my brain had been going back-and-forth on what I needed to do.

Yes, there’s the be-afraid-but-do-it-anyway concept the late Carrie Fisher was a big fan of. There’s also an attribute that a lot of other people talk about, and that is what’s known as your “gut feeling”.

My gut feeling was that my being afraid was rational. My gut was telling me that if I had made this move to a place I had a lot of reservations about, that neither my gut, nor my brain, would be happy about it. That this would be history repeating itself, and I would have proven to myself that I hadn’t learned from past mistakes.

Desperation does not a good motivator make.

So for now, I’m staying put, and I’m going to keep up the good fight. Is it going to be a struggle, staying in New York City? Indubitably.

Am I going to be eating ramen noodles more often? Without a doubt.

But at the end of the day, I’m in the same “home” I’ve been in for the past four years, and I’m not ready to let go of that just yet. I thought I was, but I was wrong.

Anxiety is a part of who I am. Sometimes, it rides shotgun, and it’s a 50 lb weight spread-eagle on my head. Other times, it takes a nap, but snores. The bottom line is that I know what I’m capable of. I’m capable of surviving through struggles. I’ve been at it for a while. I also know that if I’m going to struggle, I want to have a support net nearby, and not just on Facebook.

This isn’t to say that I won’t be moving out of Brooklyn at some point this year.

It just won’t be in February.

Distracting Emails and “Unsubscribe” Buttons

Recently, I had to go through some 6,000+ emails I had largely been ignoring in my Yahoo account (of which I’ll be closing the account completely, due to current events).
How did it get to be that much? One word: Depression.
2016 was a brutal year to get through, and the big grey bastard, Depression, seemed to be resting right on me for a majority of that time. Those of you with this condition may understand the resistance to get out of bed, much less open up emails, only to have a majority of them be crap sales and spam pieces. The other side of it is giving in to these sales, and spending money you can’t afford to spend.
For the last few weeks, I was working an office gig that had me acting as the receptionist. I was planted in front of two screens and given carte blanche to the computer and the internet. I took this opportunity not just to get my blog going, but also to go through my Inbox like Tazz on crack.
It took a while. It took a few days.
Okay, it took over a week.
Why so long? There was a lot, and I mean A LOT of emails for blogs I had been following, sales on book t-shirts and other sorts of literary postings, and any number of sales pitches for new products. It gets overwhelming, and sometimes when you’re looking at everything you need to get through, you end up doing none of it and instead keep playing Words With Friends. (I still say “dane” is a word. If we can have Great Danes, we can have Danes who are great at being themselves!)
There are other emails where you want to handle them later, but “later” never seems to happen. So what do we do with those?

  • Allot a certain amount of time — anywhere from half an hour to an hour — in the evening to get through those specific emails.
  • Open them immediately and scan through, deliberate if this is an email that warrants the extra time.
  • Open the emails, and provided that they aren’t spam, if there’s a link referring you to a page, send the link to yourself in a new email, collected with other links to check out.
  • UNSUBSCRIBE!!! You know the stores you like. All the others are distractions. Speed-scroll to the bottom of those nuisance emails. There’s a 95% chance there’s an “Unsubscribe” option all the way down there. Click on it. You aren’t missing out on anything. Instead, you’re giving yourself less to have to choose from, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

This took me a while to accept these facts as such. You can chalk it up to being an over-consumer. Always wanting more new things is not really being “ahead of the crowd”. It’s more like you’re burying yourself in the clutter.

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I’M DROWNING MY MOUTH! (And other New Year’s Resolutions.)

Like most New Year resolutions, it starts with the best of intentions.

I’m going to be a winner this year, I’m going to be a better me.  Dammit, I’m going to be the best me I can be!  I’m going to overrule me in the court of me, and my old me is just going to have to suck it!

Once all the sappy motivational-poster zingers run their course, it comes down to just one person and their one head, the argument between brain and body continuing in a perpetual loop.  Like when you’re stuck in the car with your bickering parents.

“Stop signs are not suggestions.”

“Of course they are.  I don’t pay attention to suggestions, either.”

“You’re going to get us killed.”

“Yes, but how soon?”

I digress.

My primary goal this year has been to drink the recommended 64 ounces of water a day – 8  glasses of 8 ounces.  My Nalgene bottles have been a huge help in meeting this goal, as quite a lot of their bottles have the markers on the outside of the bottle, showing you the progress you’re making.

Why, though, do I feel like I’m drowning my tongue in H20?  I knew about the constant need to go to the bathroom, because, hey, a river runs through it!  For the last week and a half, I’ve felt like I woke up without any semblance of a bladder.

The toxins are getting washed out.  Completely washed out.  It’s like a tsunami in my belly.

Drinking all this water actually segues into some of my other resolutions.  I say “some”, because I inadvertently came up with a lot of winners this year.  BECAUSE I’M A FUCKING BEAST!

“Curse less” did not make the list this year.  Maybe next year.  Maybe.

Borrowing the brilliant phrase of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s epic saga known as “Hamilton”, I am working on the gem of “Speak less, smile more.”  When I have the nozzle of my Nalgene  bottle jammed in my cry-hole, I’m definitely speaking less.  If I smile more, and keep smiling, my unwavering stare while smiling tends to creep people out, so I don’t have to say anything.  Win-win!

The concept of patience eludes me at times, so that’s a resolution that seems to be an exhausting exercise.  There’s also another angle on the topic of patience which is “when do I wait for something to work itself out?” versus “when is the right time to strike and nip this thing in the bud?”

Drinking water doesn’t answer any questions on that last one, but hey, don’t let that getcha down.

dory3

Keep swimming, swimming, swimming!

 

When the Fence You’re On Starts To Give Out

As we get closer to the end of the month, closer to the time where I’ll be taking all my toys and heading to a new sandbox, I start taking harder looks at the sandlot I’m currently in, and doing so more frequently. With each scan, the nagging question nags louder than the last time;

How did I get all this stuff?

Seriously, how?

I don’t even remember when I got half this stuff.

I sound like a bad revamp of a George Carlin routine. Don’t get me wrong, I love Carlin. Rest in peace, guy. You’re still in our heads and hearts.

But holy shitballs, Batman! THIS IS A LOT OF STUFF!

I keep procrastinating going through all my stuff, because it’s so overwhelming. I have watched commercials and looked longingly at print ads of homes with a minimalist feel. It’s always two thoughts that run my brain at the same time when I see them.

A) God, how I would love to have so little.

Orange) Those lying bastards. There’s a room in that house that has all their real crap jammed along the perimeters, I just know it!

And then the train does that ringing sound, and I’m pulled back into reality. I have to leave the train and do the mad dash to the office. When I work in Manhattan, I’m often in the Chelsea district, or at least neighbouring the area in Midtown.

After work, it’s a 50/50 chance I’ll be heading to The Strand.

The Strand.

That big, beautiful, spectacular beast of Biblio-Camelot. If we could marry stores, I’d be in a lifetime commitment with the brick bastard. We’re already sharing my money, so why not?

Sometimes, I get to meet up with my friend, Danielle, and we’ll go in together, soaking up wisdom and fiction. This is our happy place. Strand is the vortex from which we gain new insights. And more books. Also, t-shirts, bags, socks, magnets, candy, calendars, notebooks. The Strand is basically Target for smart people. Ooooh! Ice cube trays with the forms of octopi! Well, shit! I HAVE to get THAT!

Wait, where was I? Oh yeah! Stuff.

Danielle and I have walked through a lot of midtown, many times with the question escaping my lips, “how am I going to be able to leave here?”

“I don’t know, Carrie.”

About ten minutes have passed, and we’re likely in East Village. I ask the question again, and really I think I don’t even address it to her, but to the sky and/or myself. As if somehow clouds will form mouths, and I’ll suddenly hear the Voice of Reason. It would sound remarkably like Samuel L. Jackson.

“Shit, bitch, figure it out! You don’t have the wallet for New York. Find someplace the fuck else and regroup!”

I guess it doesn’t need to be mentioned the Voice of Reason is oftentimes cranky and impatient.

Still, on the fence I sit, and on the fence I fester. Until very recently where an opportunity presented itself, and a new city broke into my head like the Kool-Aid guy, but with less fanfare.

Providence, Rhode Island! Population — 178,042.

I think I see that many people just getting off the F train and heading into Penn Plaza. How can a city not even reach the 200,000 mark? That’s incredible.

I’m reassured by many friends that I’ll like it there a lot. The fact that there’s a library within a 10 minute range of the house is HUGE. Because priorities. The second most important thing was the guarantee of Dunkin’ Donuts.

You can see what truly matters in life where I’m concerned.

The biggest aspect to consider is that this is all brand new to me. For the longest time, my mentality was that there were two places in the world; New York City and Not New York City. I had no interest in the latter, but I was convinced I was going to live out my days in the former.

When I moved to Brooklyn 4+ years ago, I didn’t bother to get a NY driver’s licence. I decided on the state ID because I figured I’d never have to drive a car ever again.

Need a lift?

Never say never.

Now, I have to shed about 90% of my belongings (not counting for the hardback autographed, 10th Anniversary edition of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods— be real). I have to say buh-bye to the city I love, the city I will always love, unequivocally, but can’t afford.

I have to go through all my papers and deliberate on what to keep vs what to toss. I’d like to toss all of it, but I know that isn’t feasible.

Hey Siri, how do I schedule a home burglary?

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If I, As My Own Worst Enemy Can Accept Me, You Can, Too!

When I come in to any temporary gig in the mornings, much like everyone else, I head to my desk and unload the coat, the scarf, the handbag (holy shitballs, Batman! What is IN there? Books!), and I flop into my seat. Computer turned on? Check. Headset ready? Dinky little thing is sitting there, staring at me, begging for love. I oblige because hey, I’m a lover not a fighter.

However, unlike most of the women in the office, I’m shuffling to the coffee machine instead of the rest room. While they check that their hair and make-up is in place, I’m checking that the mug is completely clean, devoid of any remaining sugar on the rim from yesterday’s caffeine-fest.

I can hear them walking up the hallway, talking about the new eyeliner, the new blush (“It’s a cream, Annie! It’s magical!” Sweetheart, it’s not unicorn blood, okay? Take it down a few notches.), and I feel relieved not to be in their “circle”. I’m a low maintenance type of woman. I put on the bare necessities in the morning, because I don’t want people thinking I’m a zombie. I’ve seen enough “Walking Dead” episodes to know that would not end well.

Foundation, eyeliner, and a dab of light crimson on the cheeks. I’m good.

(I once went to the mall, and a woman was doing free makeovers. She told me I was a “Fall”. I responded with, “yeah I do fall a lot, but these feet are new. I’m just working out the gears.” She stopped the makeover early. I think she sensed I wasn’t going to buy anything.)

As far as hair, I have a blissfully short haircut. Lately the worst I have to deal with is looking like Christopher Walken with an Alfalfa cowlick in the back. Why won’t it stay down? STAY DOWN!

I’m sure my simplistic appearance would be rated a 4 by the likes of Drumpf. Not only am I fine with that, I’m relieved.

I stopped reading the magazines that constantly told me what was wrong with me. These “tips” mind you, came up AFTER I bought the crap the same magazines had shilled exactly one issue ago. The articles on how to get fit and build muscle, and then they would complain/judge/mock women who had too much muscle. They’ll inform you of the best ways to “get skinny”, and then put someone on blast for being too skinny.

The best way to get out of this circus is to leave the tent.

I found myself happier when these “resources” weren’t swarmed around me. When I didn’t have these little bees buzzing in my ear, when I had finally swatted them away for good, I was able to get on with my day with my coffee in one hand, book in the other, music in my ears. My “Fuck Off” Wall was up successfully, with no unwanted visitors allowed in. It didn’t cost Mexico a penny!

I have no plastic surgery, because I don’t need it. Plus, self-esteem is a lot cheaper. I’m not getting my eyes lifted, my nose done, my lips fattened, my neck pulled back, none of that bullshit. I’m not exactly auditioning for Miss February, but that’s awesome. Fucking flash on those cameras causes me migraines, anyway.

When I look in the mirror, I see — immediately — my grandparents. I’m told often that the resemblance I bear to my grandmother is remarkable. I always found her to be beautiful and full of laughter. So when people tell me that I look just like her, I take it as the highest of compliments. I mean, seriously? I already got this?!? I’M GOLDEN! Why would I alter that?

Grandma.
Me.

There’s going to be days where I’m not going to feel so sparkly. I already know this. I’ve been on this roller-coaster so many times, I know to expect the drops. I’ve had days where I didn’t want to look in the mirror ever. I was ready to toss everything that gave even the remotest of reflections.  But I always got past it.

The point is this; if you would give the finger to a random stranger who told you “you’re not good enough”, why wouldn’t you do that to these “beauty experts”? Toss the magazines, pick up a book, laugh at life hard enough so you get those crinkles by the eyes. That shit is awesome!

The biggest gift we can give ourselves is ourselves. The rest will be handled by the rest.

“Youth and beauty are not accomplishments.” — Carrie Fisher