Miss Congeniality

Bored of the sex blogs; the crudest, most poetic descriptions of fucking. I’m critical of the Selfish Suicidal even as I daydream, “hypothetically” blowing my brains out while doing dishes. I wonder if my military career is really over, like falling just short of reaching the summit of Mt. NORQUAY so I don’t buy the t-shirt. No retirement, no celebratory t-shirt. But if you’re “out-out” you can apply for medical marijuana and live pain free, I tell myself. And sleep without pills and booze. I hate every picture of me. I’ve hated every picture of me for years but now I REALLY hate them. And video is worse. I entered an impromptu swing dance competition at a rockabilly party last weekend and lost. I didnt expect to win (maybe I expected to place) but the assurances of “Oh it was close! We loved your attitude”. Yeah, I got the ‘tude going for me. Miss Congeniality. I dcowled watching the videos afterwards – my terrible posture, hunched shoulders, jutting chin…FAT. off balance too. Couldn’t even get a basic tandem Charleston right, so out of practice. If I ever said I could dance, watching the videos, I take that back. And I untagged myself.
But I got the tattoo for my deceased dance partner, “DOMB” last Friday night. He wasnt selfish. He was in pain, losing a battle and decided to end it on his terms. I blamed my temporary departure from dance on grad school, then the after-work-job-hunting then the yo-yo’ing health but fact is, I lost my enthusiasm for it when DOMB died. Corny as it is, that Wham song plays in my head when I think of him. CK has zero interest in dancing and I won’t force him. “You’re not Alice anymore. You’ve lost your muchness”. I know that movie got terrible reviews but I rather liked it. First one anyway. Well, this is a fizzle drizzle end but I’ve got nuthin…

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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.

“the stars are stacked against you, girl; Get back in bed” M.C.C.

Sex isn’t everything but it’s important. He lays there silent, occasionally petting the top of my head while I spent, I guess, 20 minutes working him over with my mouth and hands. My arm starts to tire when he tells me he’s cumming and I think “Oh, he didn’t fall asleep after all”. In past relationships, I usually gave a man 10 minutes of oral before climbing on top to take a turn for myself but with CK, I can’t do that because the E.D. has left him unable to penetrate me from any angle but the back. Which is great but I don’t want to spend the rest of my life only getting it on doggie style. Now going on the 3 month mark, I finally brought it up again and asked him to talk to his doctor. I don’t know how the conversation went, perhaps nothing more than a message to say “Hey doc, Viagra doesn’t work, what’s next?” So he got a script for Cialis. I don’t expect a miracle. Diabetes has caused significant nerve damage and I don’t see how a pill will fix that.

I love this man but I find myself dreaming of other men, literally. I always had an active imagination though. And it’s not as if I’ll go rabid from frustration, break up with CK and screw every swinging dick that looks my way. But I can’t live like this for the rest of my life either. And I wonder if we would be sexually compatible even if he didn’t have E.D. Because he talks a good game but when the time comes…maybe it’s a combination of both our anxieties: his not being able to perform and me, knowing I’m not going to get off either. It’s … increasingly frustrating and less and less fun.

He wanted to see me again today but it has been a thousand papercuts day. Starting with chores, trying to be a good citizen, move carts out of the road at the grocery store and smashing my fingers between them. Then long overdue yard work sapping me of what little energy I had to start with. Decided to head to the dog bar because I haven’t spent quality time with my dog in 2 weeks. He had fun but in my exhaustion, wasnt thinking and wore flip flops. My toes suffered five stampedes and I was taken out at the knee by a pack of racing pit bulls aka bulldozers. 90min later, came home, slipped and fell in a pile of dog shit. Five minutes later, broke a gallon of cold brew in the refrigerator. Amid a flood of expensive Puerto rican coffee and glass, my roommate messaged me to tell me what a blast the salsa/bachata beach party was today and that this guy I used to have a crush on (still do, I suppose) was there and flying solo.  I disassembled the refrigerator drawers one by one, pulling out all the food and containers, inspecting it, rinsing it off, saving what I could, tossing what I couldn’t.

After 9p, I realized I haven’t eaten. I also havnt finished homework. But I’m going to stay “fuck it” to both and go to bed.

“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 feel like a raindrop over a waterfall – Kenny Chesney

Sorry Mr. Chesney but that lyric is lame. The Flake quoted it to me, not because he was feeling introspective but because that’s the song playing through his speaker at the moment. I can relate to that feeling of insignificance but a raindrop over a waterfall becomes part of the waterfall, something bigger than itself. Offering an alternative perspective to someone who may or may not be listening and may or may not ever suffer from feelings of insignificance.

I told him “goodnight and I miss you. Or maybe I just miss the idea of you” Because how can I miss what I never had?

Is this week of sleepless nights, heightened aches and bouts of hopelessness a result of my body struggling with hormones or a keto diet? Maybe both. My mind feels like a butterknife. My body an uncooperative, aged machine.

Sharing conflicting knowledge and personal experiences with Hashimotos and hypothyroid sufferers in a keto group in social media, I lament, in addition to the challenging dietary restrictions of keto, we must also limit our dairy and cruciferous vegetable intake? My staples are broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, spinach, lettuce, cheese… what CAN we eat? A woman replied “I heard we can have ice cubes”. I laughed heartily at that one. Frustrating but funny!

I also officially took a Hiatus from the samba troupe. They scheduled a publicity photo shoot for the group which I knew was coming. I told them I had hoped to be in better physical shape by the time it came up but that hasn’t happened. I admitted to them that
being excluded because of my size still bothers me and I’ve decided to temporarily pack up my feathers along with the rest of my wardrobe that I haven’t been able to part with since my relapse. I told them thanks for letting me hang but I’m just going to dance with my clothes on in the meantime. What I didn’t admit was that I was not going to subject myself to a photographer who would try to hide the big girl in the back or under a feather fan.

“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.

“You just want attention, you don’t want my heart” ~ Charlie Puth

Last night was a waste of false eyelashes. I felt like the orphan on stage at a school play. When performing, I like to make eye contact with someone in the audience but there was no one to make eye contact with because no one was looking at me. They were focused on whoever they were there to support. Which is why I prefer to dance for an impartial audience because then they are looking at everyone, taking it all in. It didn’t help that I felt disgusting compared to the other girls in the troupe. When I tried on my full costume last week, I felt fabulous, “Look at my feathers! Sparkle sparkle sparkle!” But then I saw a photo of myself taken with the other girls and that childhood rhyme taunted me “Which one of these is not like the other…?”  Full on body shame. I hid from further pictures and those that I couldnt hide from, I frantically sought them out on social media to “un-tag” myself before they could populate on my page. At least my makeup looked good.

It was a long night, odd girl out in the corner for hours pretending to stretch or do homework while waiting for that 2 minute performance. As soon as it was over, I shed the feathers and bolted for home where I took an Ambien and made the mistake of picking up the phone when the Flake called. I hadn’t talked to him since before Bill died and I kept thinking “Bill would advise against this”. In the course of a 2 hour low-self esteem, depressed, vulnerable Ambien haze, I watched him masterbate via live chat and took “comfort” in the breadcrumbs of “affection” he tossed casually, just like ol’ times. It felt good for the moment but then I woke up alone and missing him afresh. I looked back on my text messages: yep, I told him I still loved him. Even though there is nothing to miss or love, I remind myself.

Apparently in that haze, I also upset one of the only friends I have left. I apologized but can’t shake this feeling that I want to go to sleep and not wake up. The winds of change are swift. I woke at a relatively reasonable hour this morning (the fact that it was still morning makes it reasonable), made coffee, did my makeup and hair but didn’t get dressed. Two hours later, I am back in bed. Tired but wide awake and thinking how much I dislike this Masters program and don’t want to work on the assignments that are due this weekend. I want to do something but like being beyond hungry, nothing sounds appealing so I lie here in a mild state of panic at each passing minute and listen to my soul rumble hungrily.

I’ve lost my perspective (to which my pissed off friend agreed) and under these circumstances, volunteering for another possible suicide deployment back to Hell sounds like a “good” idea. What is stopping me? My dog.

“She is lonely most of the time” ~Sarah Barielles

Two weeks after returning from my 40th birthday solo travel adventure, I was laid off. Not surprised. A few of us felt the squeeze over the course of the last year with the arrival of fresh corrupt middle management slowly poisoning the well. The Commander contacted me weeks later to say he was shocked, upset and could he provide me a Letter of Appreciation. I told him “Of course” and no hard feelings because this blackball was rolling long before he showed up late last year. No one should gain or lose a job due to nepotism in modern times but it happens, particularly in my field where women struggle to compete against the Good Ol’ Boys and I never knew how to just “shut up and color”. I was increasingly stressed and miserable and could find nothing redeeming about my work anymore. The end was coming; Others jumped and I waited to get pushed. Strangely, my announcement was met by fewer condolences than congratulations. Even my autistic brother sent me a message: “Mom said u lose ur job. That’s great!”  I had hoped to hold onto the job through the holidays but in truth, even that would have been a challenge because seeing the end near, I enrolled in a Masters program at last. My VA Vocational Counselor has tried for the last two years to convince me to get out of this line of work but whenever I suggested an alternate career path, she would say “No, you’ll take that job home with you too”. Finally, she said something that made me reconsider my entire outlook on jobs “You’ve already had the jobs you were passionate about, Now maybe it’s time to find a stable, flexible boring job that pays well, that you can do anywhere, roll over your retirement points, and focus your energy and passion on things that don’t keep you up at night.”

I know people, including my former roommate-for-a-minute who only work as much or as hard as they need to because they enjoy their downtime. It’s not about constantly upgrading, buying more “stuff” and then upgrading again. One of my favorite sayings is “To have more, want less”. I want a peaceful, happy life. I want to love and be loved in return. Is that really so difficult to attain?

So in my first week “off”, I ordered textbooks, finished orientation, rolled over my 401k into an IRA and insisted to the financial consultants that damn the tax-consequences, I’m not going to starve during my sabbatical. And that’s what this is. It’s not just about trading a paycheck for 40 hours of homework, it’s about sleeping when my body needs rest, taking my dog to the park every day, dancing more because I no longer have an 8pm bedtime, and taking advantage of cheap airfare to pay friends across the country visits for a  few days here and there. Maybe even head back to the Caribbean to hike the hills in Jamaica or the Virgin Islands. But not alone. I’m over vacationing alone. Oh, and I was diagnosed with a stomach ulcer. How is that for proof that that place was affecting my physical as well as emotional health? Oh, the irony. Call it a parting gift…

And the scale is moving at last. The day before I left for Scotland, I had a follow up with one of my doctors who reassured me that endocrine issues take time. “Six – 12 months. I don’t know where you got 5-8 weeks from.” The internet, I admitted.  I weighed the exact same amount after 9 days of hiking the Highlands as the day I left. But three weeks later, I was now only 35lbs overweight instead of 50. He noticed too without me fishing for it. I sent him a few pictures of an Aerial Silks class that I tried and his response was “You look thin”.  No, I’m not thin but I am getting stronger and my bones no longer hurt, thank G-d. It still takes me longer to recover than it did before I got sick but I am getting better, I think. I squeezed into one of my black swing dresses last night. Still a squeeze but it went over my hips so that counts. It was the first time in many months that I didn’t hate how Iooked and felt and it made a difference in my attitude. Until later that night when he’d had a few drinks and decided to tell me about another woman who picked him up at the bar. This is now the third time that I’ve had to remind him to save those conversations for his guy friends because I don’t particularly want to hear about his game. He kept up until I finally said “Do you just like fucking with me? You know how  feel about you”.  He even sent a picture. There were a group of them at the bar but he was leaning in close to a young brunette. Whenever I don’t hear from him in the evening, I assume it’s because he’s found someone new to occupy his time (and he knows I don’t want to hear about it). I figure he only keeps in touch as much as he does because he’s lonely in a new town. I wasnt really joking when I remarked that he’d soon forget me amidst his new friends in the tiny dog club.  Six inches shorter, 20 years younger, and 80 pounds lighter and I might have had a chance with him.

“Does he make you feel good about yourself? Do you feel better after having communicated with him?” The answer is still No and no.

But I’m still dancing. I’m smiling. Sometimes it’s even sincere. My once-lifelong bachelor friend and his new bride canceled their honeymoon because she’s 14 weeks pregnant. And now I really don’t have a single close friend locally who doesn’t have children or a significant other.

I need a nap. Well, what I REALLY need is someone to put their hands and mouth on me but since that isn’t an option, a nap will have to do.