“Stay alive” Bob Marley

With less than a week away, I cancelled my New Year’s trip to Jamaica. It sounded adventurous, to climb the blue mountain peak alone at night on New Year’s Eve and watch the sunrise on New Year’s Day but the fact was I wasn’t going to be able to do it within budget. No Backpacking/hiking trip should cost over $1k but after 6 weeks planning, it became clear to me that no foreigner, particular a lone American woman, would truly be welcome to live like a local. The cost of living may be inexpensive there but I would always get the American Price. A 50 Cent bus ride would cost me $20. Free beaches would charge me a fee. I hate the idea of haggling for everything I eat and Everywhere I Go. So much so that I was no longer looking forward to this trip. So I took a friend’s advice, took a hit on the plane ticket, and will spend another New Year’s Day with toes in the sand with good people rather than alone on a Mountaintop. I still look forward to hiking the Canadian Rockies for my birthday amd I may be squeezing in a few dance trips in between. So Merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, Happy New Year, to all of you. And Bill, my dance partner and precious friend, no New Year’s Eve swing dancing for me this year. Not without you here.

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“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.

​“I wanted everything I never had…” ~  ‘Alive’ by Sia

They played that song in my ballet class and I began crying. Softly, in the corner so perhaps no one noticed. Even now, just thinking about it…”I’m still breathing…” yes, but is breathing enough? Existence, survival…

“I saw my life in a stranger’s face…”   Is this akin to seeing your future in another’s eyes? Connecting so primally, at least for me, and you can only pray it’s mutual. I found myself asking “How soon is too soon to know?” To know in your bones that you want to nest under the skin of the one who crept in on their own, your heart like a dark, unlocked bedroom and they slip quietly under the covers and make you the ‘little spoon’. And you want to stay like that.

Or is it a reference to happening upon our Mirrors? Not our literal mirrors but a stranger who reminds us of ourselves. Recognizing ourselves in strangers? I saw a woman days ago who was built like I am right now. And I still thought she was beautiful, which is a thought I don’t apply to myself. And evidentially, from her body language –tugging at her shirt, shoulders hunched as if to hide her generous breasts—‘beautiful’ was a thought she did not apply to herself either.  

“You’re taught to cry in your pillow…”   Have I mentioned that sometimes I cry after I orgasm? Don’t worry guys, it’s only after sex-with-myself. It’s at that peak when you open your eyes and know that the person you just ‘used’ is not and will not be yours. That ecstatic moment which you fantasized about, possibly repeatedly, has never and likely never will happen. At the peak of orgasm, I feel acutely alone.

I’m leaving for my bucket-list trip to hike the Highlands for my 40th birthday this weekend. Note to self: Don’t get shit-faced at a pub on your bday. Not a foreign woman traveling solo, celebrating a milestone without anyone accountable to her, no ‘wingman’…could be a bad idea. I joked to my former roommate (still don’t know what to call him) “How do you say ‘Put on a condom’ in Gaelic?”

“No.” was his response.

I thought it was funny. He’s neutered so aside from swapping body fluids and risking the spread of STDs, he doesn’t use one.

Eight days alone, trekking and biking countless miles (I wonder if there is an app I can download on my phone to track my distance. Just out of curiosity). What is there to be worried about? “Are there bears in Scotland?” someone asked me. I said “I don’t think so. But there are sheep. Possibly rabid, blood-thirsty sheep. But I have a set of hiking poles which can double as Kali sticks. Yeah, I’ll just go Muy Thai on some sheep ass!”

“But I survived.”

“Even when the brave break down, it ends in other ways” ~ Roman Remains

You shared your stories and I shared mine. Sadly, so similar, us sisters. If we lived closer, we might form our own group where we meet, drink, cry, and hold hands while we base jump without chutes.

No, that’s not positive thought. If you want someone to remind you of what you are worth, to encourage you to walk away from those who don’t want to stay, read Trent Shelton. Or TD Jakes. “The Way of Serenity” by Father Jonathan Morris just arrived in the mail today; I’ll let you know once I’ve finished if it helped.

What he doesn’t say is louder than what he does. What he doesn’t say is “Wait for me”, “Come see me”, “I love you too”. Nor does he say “I don’t have time for you”, “I’ve decided not to leave my crazy wife”, “I changed my mind. Fuck off.” So I wait for him to come around but still go on dates. Lots of dates. Even decided to try out the old adage ‘The fastest way to get over someone is to get under someone else” but all that left me with was a hang-over and a yeast infection. Next day, I’m stalling at the drugstore, waiting for a female clerk or when there is none, I stock up on all sorts of shit I don’t need in attempt to hide the Monistat from the guy at the check out counter. Ever do that?

My mind invites the ghosts. He tried so hard in the beginning but he was always putting his foot in his mouth. Like the time he said “My wife is a 28 year old version of you” and I slowly turned to glare at him. Realizing his faux pas, he back-pedals “I mean, you’re what? 29…” I cut him off “You WISH your wife was like me.” At least that much is still true, I think.

If I’m repeating myself, excuse me. Skip ahead.

She got to play the loving, devoted wife, meeting him at the airport despite telling him that she visited two divorce attorneys last week. She will never leave him. She’s mentally ill but she’s not stupid. She manipulates: I’ll leave you. I’m miserable. Stay home and take care of me. If he follows through (and I’m convinced he wont. Not yet anyway. And not for me) and tells her he wants a divorce, she will don her Batshit Crazy Woman suit, threaten to kill herself (again) and guilt him into sticking around on the pretense of “saving her”.

“You accepted less because you thought ‘a little’ was better than nothing.” ~Trent Shelton

I saw a bird get clipped by a truck today and while I sped up, trying to reach it in time, another vehicle got there first and finished the job. I sobbed for an hour. Over a dead pigeon.

THere are reasons to be happy. For instance, they make Sour Patch gum now.

But whatever you do, don’t watch “The Duchess”. I like period flicks so I thought it was a safe bet on Netflix. Holy christonacracker, if I wasn’t suicidal before watching that movie, I was ready to eat a muzzle afterwards. Note to self: IMDB the spoilers of every movie before hitting ‘play’.

Okay, quick pick me up! Watch Taylor Swift crawl the through “Twerking Tunnel” on her latest video. Or youtube videos of Garfunkel and Oates. Watch two of the sweetest sopranos crawl out of a giant inflatable vagina or sing along to the chorus of “The Loophole”. Feel better?

Other positives: I’m finally down to my “Army doesn’t have to tape me” weight thanks to the misery of tuck and hold, lift and freeze, tiny up, tuck hold… IHateItIHateItIHateItIHateIt but it’s effective. I’m not ScarJo Black Widow yet but I think I’m finally ready to face my Army Reserve Career Counselor now. Even with the purple hair.

It’s a full moon. He is home. I wonder if he will look up and think of me. I wonder if we will still be on speaking terms a month from now.

Time to blend, anoint, burn and pray.

“Tell me you love me. If you dont, then lie to me” -Coldplay

I have some friends that I know I shouldn’t confide in because their brand of “comforting advice” is “If it looks like a duck, hes fucking someone else”. Its more harmful than helpful. Hey, you’re supposed to be talking me down from the ledge, remember?
Im not saying close your eyes to the obvious, im saying close your ears to the rumors. Until there is proof. Id like to give everyone the benefit of the doubt but Ive been burned once or 20 times (who hasn’t?) and Ive always struggled to keep my suspicious nature in check. Note to self:  Do not crucify everyone for the sins of a few.
Have you ever read The Life of Pi? I never saw the movie so Im not sure if that counts but at the end–and Im paraphrasing– the boy is telling his story to the authorities and when they admit they dont believe him, he pointed out, “Does it really matter which version you believe? The story ends the same either way.”  That is the lesson I took away from that book and the lesson I choose to apply now: it doesnt matter if the rumors are true or false because the story ends the same way: It just ends.
Human Nature is a coin toss. You choose who to believe,  who to trust.
The script on my wrists remind me:
Blessing. Lesson. People come into your life to serve as one or the other. I told G-d long ago that I didnt need any more Lessons. What I need is healing and grace.
But until that delivery arrives, I’d settle for a refill of Xanax.