Lola Schmoozy the Aging Showgirl

41 for 24 more hours.

When did my headlights begin pointing toward the ground?

And note to self: any comedic value of a pratfall is lost if you sell it so well that the audience thinks you really did hurt yourself. Admittedly, jumping into the splits and then pretending I couldn’t get up during our Cabaret troupe’s performance Saturday night might not have been the best idea after 6 months out of my fitness/dance routine. The girls made a show of helping me get back up while I flopped and limped and groaned about how I was getting too old for this (and yeah, I felt it the next day). I thought it was funny but maybe it was just pathetic, the sight of a 40-something overweight woman sausaged into a corset tighter than Beyonce.

My Army BFF “S” told me that midst his own depression, one of his coworkers committed suicide. It sobered him up. The man jumped ship with five kids, a gorgeous wife and a $100k/year job. It’s a reminder that even for someone who appears to “have it all”, it may not be enough to keep them grounded. I think we all wonder “What would be ‘enough’?” What would it take to make us happy and if not happy then content? I don’t recall which book or essay I read it in and of course I’m paraphrasing but C.S. Lewis mentioned that we can only glimpse happiness in this life. We are not meant to be content here or we would never wish for something better, which is promised to us by G-d. That’s if you believe in the Happily Every Afterlife story in the first place.

Depression has been rearing it’s ugly head in my life again too. I may just be very, very tired. Constant hum of pain in my body, up too late doing school assignments after work and entire weekends spent doing the same. I woke up this morning with a sore throat, congestion and thought “C’mon, the day before I leave to hike Canada?” I hope it doesn’t turn out to be another “Scotland trip” where I was sick, tired and in pain slogging over the land miserably and coming home even more exhausted than before I left. I expect to be physically tired from this trip but refreshed. At least, that is the intent. So I took Mucinex, swabbed my nose with Zicam and brought a bag of Ricola to work. Now the countdown to 4:30pm begins. I still have some gear packing to do and I want to be in bed by 8pm because Im up at 4a to catch the 1st leg out. I wish I had the leave time to take today off just to rest and prep.

The itinerary the rest of the week will be strenuous. I planned it that way. Hiking, biking, and rafting. Headwinds, incline, miles and miles. I don’t do relaxing vacations. I plan scenic punishments. Partly to prove I can still do it. And if I fall off a mountain and don’t make it home, I’ve proven myself wrong.

I also changed the settings on my Facebook page so I don’t have to clean up 100 generic “happy birthday” comments from people who don’t think of me 364 days out of the year until Facebook prompts them to tell me “happy birthday”. Bah humbug.

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“I like that you’re broken, broken like me” ~LovelyTheBand

I feel every bit of my ill-fitting, worn out clothes today. Dangling threads, scuffed heels and hair as overgrown and unkempt as my yard. I’m dressed in insignificance with all the authority and value of a temp receptionist. But my new coworkers have learned to come to me for IT-related problems because it’s usually a simple fix and I’m much faster than waiting on a national-level “trouble ticket” to process. So today I once again found myself crawling on the floor under desks in a skirt, fiddling with…cables and computer equipment (you filthy bastards). And it was the only part of the day I didnt mind.  The only part I felt “useful”.

 I returned to prison after 4 days on parole, hiking in the woods with my dog and my struggling, unhappy boyfriend, CK. We think alike (I mean, CK and I. Although yes, perhaps my dog and I as well). And we are both martyrs for love. Judgmental and brooding, probably better off alone. I decided to burn what little vacation time I had accrued from this miserable job and disappear into the Quad State area (NC, TN, GA, SC borders). CK wanted to come so I sent him my proposed hiking list, based on limited time and weather conditions. He was an excited, “thumbs up!” But buying hiking shoes does not make you a hiker. Day one, we were only 6 miles into a walk in the woods when he began to fade, legs cramped, dizziness set in…I took his pack from him and force fed him protein bars, bananas, water and candy. I found him a walking stick but it was serious enough that I ran ahead to find a signal and called the nearest ranger station. I told them I just wanted to make sure I had a good number in case he couldn’t make it out on his own as we were still miles from the car. “Just keep puttin one foot in front of the other, he’ll make it out” the kindly ranger drawled. As CK leaned against a tree I told him, “Your lungs might give out, your heart might give out, but your legs will not give out. Keep moving”.

Days later, both his feet were taped and I announced I was going on a trail that he could not follow. Hell, he could barely walk. And I needed one day unencumbered. I climbed over rocks and fallen trees up a steeper incline to enjoy views unobstructed by tourists. Alone on a hilltop: me, my dog, and the wind.

I thought, “This isn’t working out”. I admitted on the drive home, I don’t want him tagging along to dances or hikes or shows out of obligation. Seeing the boredom and disappointment on his face kills my own joy. If he’d rather be at a movie then go to a movie! I don’t need company. I’ve been doing this living thing alone for years.
“I don’t need the added stress of a relationship!” I thought resentfully.

When you’re drowning, you cut loose of whatever weight you can forfeit: the job and school are not optional. Everything else – dancing, friends, family, boyfriends – those I can turn loose, at least until I finish school.

And I wish sex was off the table. I wish we’d never gone there; I wish we had just agreed to friendship. The pressure, the disappointment. I wish I could escape it.
“You’re tighter than a new buttonhole” he complains. I put on my best Gandalf impression and declare “You shall not pass!”  Or perhaps he can throw incantations at it, “speak friend and enter” my near-virginal vaginal gates.

He’s only had two rounds of GainWave and no change yet. His stem is still as broken as ever. I admitted to him, under these circumstances, sex means more work for me, and requires more time that I don’t have right now. So either I can slap on lube, get on my knees and give him a warm hole or he goes to bed hungry. And I’m starving but I’m a sexual camel and used to long stretches of abstinence. But I don’t ever want to fake it again. If only one of us is getting off, so be it.

At least for now.

But I’ve been saying that for months.

“Nothing ever comes without a change” ~ Grouplove

Day 1: The sabbatical has come to an end. A bit premature because I still have 6 months of full time school left but I started back to a full-time job on top of that. So from here forward, my bedtime is once again 9 p.m. except for the four nights a week that I have class later than that or the remaining nights when I’m up late working on assignments. So If you need to reach me, make an appointment and I will pencil you in during the 5-7 minutes per week that I’m taking a constipated shit. Unless I’m extra constipated and unable to shit at all that week. Otherwise, see you in roughly 6 months after graduation. Make it 7 because Ill need to catch up on sleep.

I woke up on Day 1 with a twin growing out of my bottom lip. The worst collection of fever blisters I think I’ve ever had. And I swear, I’m not that stressed. I told myself “Maybe this job will be like Korea: I think it will suck but I end up loving it”.

This job is not Korea.

I nearly walked out day one when someone asked about claiming “Secondhand PTSD” from listening to someone talk about combat. I wanted to tell them “Go kill yourself”.  I’m not convinced all the positive reinforcement of long-term benefits can turn this shit job with shit pay, surrounded by talking rocks, into gold.

I’m fair and kind but I am not nice. I’m also judgmental, I admit. Everyone has flaws and that’s a biggie for me. Judgmental and unforgiving. I’ve had exciting careers all my life and starting over in something ordinary and mundane feels beneath me. Even Saturday night at C’s work party, it was torture listening to these people discuss their unimportant jobs and their unimportant lives as if they were important (I’m in confession now so hold YOUR judgement, Father). I always say I am not my job but I feel sorry for people with lives so small, so sheltered. Maybe pity isn’t what I truly feel rather than a sense of satisfied superiority (and boredom) while I sit there too good to try and engage anyone in conversation.

Day 3: When Black Magic kitty hears my alarm go off, she immediately comes running, purring, walks up on my chest and lovingly bites my nose with that dirty lizard-eating mouth.  It’s not a bad way to wake up. Last night as I fell asleep apologizing to G-d for being ungrateful. Then I prayed for patience, tolerance, and Direction. I know going in that this was not the Final career Destination but a stepping stone, one of many paths. But as with my “land nav” skills, my “life nav” skills have led me in circles. “Look kids! Big Ben…”

But I spoke with a Navy reservist who frankly answered my questions and put it back in perspective. Stick it out. Do the time. One year, maybe two, then transfer. It’s not Hell. Hell is eternal. This is more like a prison sentence.

 

Day 5: Today we learned about mandatory overtime. A few of us had “Da’ fuck you say…?” reactions while the rest cheered “Yay! Time and a half!” Our choice between extended work days Monday through Friday or giving up every other Saturday to come into work for 10 hours. I’m pissed.  At this point in my life, I value time more than money and this job does not pay enough. I took this job for stability and to escape the 12+ hour shifts. If OT truly is mandatory, then I might as well go back to doing what I was doing before. At least I was getting paid decent then.  The work schedule already is such that I had to drop first, my ballet classes that I’ve been taking for 3 years then today, the salsa team.
So G-d forgive me but it has been a struggle this week to keep a smile on my face or have a sense of gratitude. It’s worse when people tell me congratulations on the job because I feel like crying. I went from dancing 5x a week now picking just one. Dancing is my sanity and I’m giving it up for a job that I hate…

“I just wanna be somebody to someone” – Banners

The booty call, I don’t even think I can call him that since we only hooked up twice and it was several months ago, went swing dancing for 5 hours last night followed by an additional 2 hours of salsa at another club. I had considered going to both dances and ultimately went to neither. I was so anxious to get back from Montana to dance and return to a “routine” and yet I’ve been back for 3 days and have done Jack and Shit.

I purchased books in the airport, one on Winston Churchill (I’m a history buff and a closet fan of that complicated man and the era he led in) and another book of recently published scraps of stories and plots from F Scott Fitzgerald ( and it may forever remain unbeknownst us how much is plagiarized from his wife). I remember a time when I devoured books and now I can’t remember the last one I made through its entirety. It’s not that I’m disinterested, it’s that I struggle to focus. It doesn’t matter the content, my attention Trails off after a few pages and then I can’t recall what I read. As if I can’t even comprehend the words on the page. What is wrong with my brain? How will I ever find another decent job if my mind is mush? And I’m pretty sure I blew both interviews this week. One for saying the wrong thing out right and the other, the dreaded brain fog or hiccup, words escaping me all together. I used to be unfailingly articulate. Now, its as if English were a second language.

“You know the sun is gonna shine in my back door some day” Aretha Franklin

Went to a West Coast meets country dance. Country in one room, West Coast swing in the other. Truly, I went for the country room to brush up on my 2 Step which is horrendous. Don’t use it for 20 years, you definitely lose it. Well, at least I did. The leads had to “insist” rather than “suggest”. By 11:30pm all that was left were the Regional West Coast Pros. I guess everyone else didn’t feel like dancing around them so they left. I hung around a little longer watching but frankly, I was not feeling the music or the dancing. It was like spoonful after spoonful of icing with little cake. All styling and tricks and no Foundation.

My friend “S”, the one I have Frank conversations with on a near-daily basis. I met him in the Army. He’s one of the reasons why I say joining the Army was not a mistake no matter how much I joke about it. When he was telling me about his latest would-be romantic encounter and the reason he’s going to die alone, I reminded him that we should at the very least, make sure we end up in the same nursing home together. Provided we both live to a ripe old age which as a matter aside I never intended on. But just in case I do we should be roommates. “I’m a quiet masturbator. Hell, I’ll even let you have the top bunk” (John Lyshitski). Let’s Go to Prison, one of the best, underrated comedies since John Candy took funny to the grave with him. Although between Deadpool and Just Friends, I have found renewed comedic hope in Ryan Reynolds.
I finished a law assignment in the 11th hour and felt pretty good about it. This instructor (retired military JAG and current federal judge) is engaged and I respect him, which motivates me to make an effort to give him something worth reading (looking at, listening to). I want to give as good as I get. I’m celebrating with homemade pizza with a cauliflower crust (in hind-taste, I do NOT recommend it), some wine (okay, a vat of wine), Rain, Candlelight, and Aretha Franklin. I was feeling so good (and a little tipsy) that I flipped my phone the bird rather than answer it when my The Flake called.

I’m going to paraphrase something I saw on a church billboard that struck me. No, not that “worry is a mild form of atheism” although that has lingered in my brain for years. This one is less profound but still struck me: Either you are in a storm, coming out of a storm or heading into a storm. The point is, there is always a storm…

“I wasn’t even in the running” ~ Haim

I feel like I’m always operating in the red, physically and mentally at a deficit.
There were two Gregs. The under 30 homeless-by-choice biking gypsy yogi without a fuck in the world and the other one who pretended not to recognize me. Oh, you know what you did, motherfucker. Ten years ago, this “friend” tried to steal my civilian radio job while I was in Iraq and got fired for it. The one time the company did right by me and we haven’t spoken a word since. Although all he did was jump across the street to the competitor where he still works today so maybe Karma is waiting to kick his ass in his next life. But he spent half an hour pretending not to notice me sitting 10 feet away at my favorite local coffee where I go for a change of scenery while working on school assignments. I forced a smile while homeless Greg happily rubbed my dog’s belly but kept thinking, this is just one of the reasons I need to move: I’ve been here too long if I’m bumping into assholes from my past. Time to go meet new assholes, make new enemies somewhere else.

But it looks like The Flake will make it to the West Coast before I do. He flies this week for the final round of interviews and contract negotiations for a job out near Monterey. He’s texting me links to the luxury apartments near the national forest where he is planning to live. Meanwhile, I’m looking at the red line that is Highway 1 in Google Maps after much of the coastline slid into the Pacific in the last few weeks. Road closure until at least late August. I might not make it into Big Sur at all this year as planned. But that asshole is moving there.  In all my self-righteous glory, I utter encouragement and congratulations to him while making my apologies to G_d for secretly being bitter and green. What is the line between sharing and gloating? Is it the intent? Because it feels like he’s gloating.

Or maybe this is another example of how I’ve lost my perspective. Because I live in Paradise too, 10 minutes from some of the most beautiful beaches in the nation. I need only open my front door to the smell of saltwater and the sound Of seagulls. It’s a source of peace and he is an unwitting thief. I give him the benefit of the doubt with “unwitting”. But if he is unwitting then that makes me solely responsible for my discontent. No, he can’t be that stupid. I’ve told him we can’t be friends, that my feelings haven’t changed. He knows he’s still using me. And I let him.

“Your insecurity makes you unattractive”, he once told me. I recall hateful things he’s said to me in the past because ripping that wound back open motivates me to rebuild The Wall. Not the healthiest coping mechanism and certainly not very forgiving but it’s a line of defense that works.

But I danced and sang a bit this weekend. Even if I was just faking it for the crowd, the point is, I did it. And that’s progress.

Which one of these is not like the other…?

Guess who’s not performing samba this weekend as scheduled? Just me. Big girl out. I guess the client didn’t want a fattie in feathers. Nearly 3 months of rehearsals and $400 sunk into sequins, I even nailed the routines in our “school play” but 3 days before the gig, informed of client aesthetic preference. I was hurt, embrassed, begging for vindication on social media and asking who wanted to buy my hot pink and black feathers (only worn once). I soothed my ego with comments like “Youre a wonderful dancer, their loss” and “So you’re not a tiny dancer…” but then my mother put it in perspective: You can be the best dancer and performer and you still wouldnt make the Rockettes. Thats show business.
Shes right. Ive been passed over because I didnt look the part before. Close your eyes and I could sound like Stephanie Mills or Karen Carpenter bur I didnt look like them. Still, try not to take it personally when you’re excluded from performing because of the way you look. Although two years of ballet and zero cellulite, my ass looks good in a thong, thank you.
Maybe it was a self-fulfilling prophecy, after my body image insecurity at our dress rehearsal but I watched the video and it didn’t translate to my performance. I shook it with abandon! And I do love this costume. It’s beautiful and I worked hard on it but I told the group leaders that I’m going to take a break until they either have a new routine to learn or there is a paid performance opportunity that would not discriminate. We’ll see if that call ever comes.
The next day someone posted a video of me doing a sexy as hell bachata routine. I was wearing my Samba heels so the investment isn’t a total loss.

May your past be the sound of your feet upon the ground. Carry on. ~ Fun

A friend posted on social media today that it was painful to live in a world that no longer needed her. I responded, “What about your needs?” But martyrdom is a hard habit to break. I’m still working on it. And I may not be a Buddhist like my recently passed friend Bill but even the mindfulness therapy championed by Dr. Hayes is based in eastern thought. Modern Buddhist practitioners are a source of inspiration and stability. One ACT/Buddhist theory that Bill shared with me before he passed was that the reason people are so unhappy is because we cling to what we want: not just material things but circumstances and relationships. Rather than accepting that everything changes and comes to an end, we mourn for its passing rather than celebrating that we had it at all, rather than giving thanks and moving on. Well, Bill, I’m sorry but I miss you. And he would say “Stop saying sorry. Say ‘oops’.”

Bill’s best friend got back to me with details for the memorial service and confirmed my gut suspicion, that he took his own life. It’s hard to fathom this world getting “the best” of someone so enlightened and loved. It shakes what little faith I have left. Local swing dancers are hosting a “Dance like Bill” contest Friday night. They made it a “strictly” instead of a “jack and jill”. Not to insult your dance intelligence but in a competition, “strictly” means you have a designated partner. For “jack and Jill”, partners are chosen at random. I posted on the event page asking them to change it to a J&J since Bill WAS my partner and I don’t have anyone else to dance with for that competition or any other. Although the idea of showing up to an event with those Scenesters that never gave me the time of day as a dancer to begin with, and watching them all try to imitate my partner, especially when Bill and I would have been dancing together in Vegas this week…I’d better not go. I’ll just get angry. 

Time for my biannual four hour round trip to the VA hospital in Orlando. The flagship of VA hospitals. Clean and efficient; where lab techs are all sharp-shooting former combat medics and never have to fish for my veins; and where I don’t have to fight the toilet paper roll in the bathrooms. But fatigue is still a bastard and driving back I nearly fell asleep at the wheel again. Maybe it was the sun through the sunroof pressing down on my shoulders while my memory fantasized about them being pressed into a pillow. I’d like a pair of hands on me but the fact is I don’t have 7 hours to spare for a booty call. A friend pointed out that when your booty call hangs out for that long, that counts as a relationship. But the B.C. doesn’t love animals and that’s a deal-breaker. Although I want to point out that ruling out psychopathy strictly based on someone’s affection for animals is faulty. The Sociopath rescued a cat. Still, I can’t seriously consider someone who pushes my dog way when he comes looking for a pat.

Speaking of the B.C., he has been wanting to come over. First he said he needed to do laundry. A few days later, he said he needed a back rub. But I’ve been struggling with Bill’s passing and I don’t need a friendly poke, I need a friendly ear. So instead I sit outside alone on my back patio holding a water hose stiffer than the B.C., burning brush under the light of a full moon. Leaving the sliding door open to Let the Smoke in.  If asked, I will say it is for cleansing but the simple fact is the house smells bad. My roommate slow cooks black beans and ham which sometimes smells delicious, other times it smells like rotting pork. Tonight is the latter. Plus he burned rice. Again. Wine sounded like a good idea but it clings to my burning throat so I let it go flat in my glass.

The Flake is sniffing ‘round again. Via email since I won’t pick up the phone. I told him about Bill, briefly, and he offered to be that friendly ear. My inner voice felt so loud as it yelled “BUUUUULLSHIT!” that I’m almost surprised he didn’t hear it.