“I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, John…”

“…but did you have to stick your finger up my ass?” (Let’s Go to Prison)

Too late to take an Ambien, no Xanax to be had, Pinterest pictures of nail polish and funny cat memes weren’t doing the trick to decompress and disconnect. The rest of the world was asleep and I was having a meltdown. So I text the Veteran’s Crisis Line.

I wasn’t suicidal. Just desperately, at that moment, needed a live person to pop a mental zit. Shhhhhh! But Don’t tell my Uncle Sam!

My dancer’s legs are scarred with what look like mosquito bites but they are from my fingernails digging into my flesh. It’s a nervous habit. I used to pick at my face and pluck out my eyelashes like some people gnaw at their fingers. Still do sometimes. But I retrained and redirected my attention to my exposed legs. My face healed up but I wonder if my legs ever will.

Sometimes you pick a path because it’s familiar only to rediscover it’s a dead end. As I got turned around on my way from work to class, I wondered if that was foreshadowing my career choices. I’m flirting with returning to the organization and the job that I left last year. I’m told the regime has changed, “the bad guys are gone” but I’ve heard that before. In my experience, they can return just like I can. And what happens in a year when the regime changes again?

Like my experience with the Army, I’m not making a blanket statement that “the Army sucks”. My command sucked. It was corrupt all the way to the uppermost level of leadership. And while the VA may be a worthy mission and I know many folks who love their jobs, I suspect the regional office where I was recently hired may represent everything that’s wrong with the Department. From the attitudes – “What’s in it for me?” and “That ain’t my job” – to emphasis of quantity over quality and underwhelming leadership. I expected the inefficiencies and bureaucracy but this place may be a repository for the intellectually and socially inept.

I’m reminded of something another blogger wrote, A Fractured Faith, who admitted recently that “I am a Christian, but I don’t like people”. Me neither! I don’t dislike ALL of them but I dislike most of them. Those few that I do like, the few that came in with bright ideas and sincere smiles, are no longer smiling.

But the stable job is a prison sentence and going back to my “ex” feels like defeat.

Am I a failure if I go back? Am I a quitter if I don’t stay here?

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Do you wanna build a snowman?

No, I want to build pipe shelves. Starting with a toilet paper holder with a small shelf above it. If I can make that happen I think I can go crazy with industrial-meets-rustic shelving.

I have these moments where I feel like myself. I’m not depressed. Ive been depressed and I don’t think this is depression. But I don’t feel like myself either. But then the lsight switch flips on when I walk outside and think about going for a hike or just being inspired by a project (like the pipe shelves) and think “yeah! I wanna do that!”. And then it passes so quickly. The light switch flips off and I’m left alone in the dark again.
So maybe I am a little depressed.

Which might stem from always being tired. A coworker asked me how I was feeling and when I replied “tired” he said “That’s not too bad”. My eyes narrowed and I said “Sleep deprivation is an effective form of torture”.

But I got up when the alarm told me to and didn’t reach for my phone right away. Instead, I took an extra few minutes working through my morning routine. Took time to blow dry my hair and carefully apply eyeliner. I probably don’t look different as a result but it helps me feel a bit more “put together”, at least on the outside.

“And all I really want is deliverance” ~ Alanis Morissette

Plugging away at monkey work, typing up a veterans benefits letter for a widow whose husband, my age, died of cancer. Coincidentally he was born and died on the same day. My birthday. She only asked for one letter but I gave her everything she was possibly eligible for. And it’s still not enough.

I answered a flyer hanging in Starbucks, a woman searching for a Kidney donor for her husband. I called the hospital and did the initial screening but they informed me that I was not now or ever would be a potential donor for a kidney. The damn MEN 1 again. I joked “Am I so broken that I can’t even give my body away now?”

I should be grateful but I still hate the job and continue to search for something else. It’s hard to get a call back. I tread that line between enthusiastic and annoying with recruiters. I also suspect I blow formal interviews. I know my worth but struggle to articulate it. I rely too heavily on my professional and personal references to say nice things about me. I appreciate it truly but I need to be able to get a job on my own. One of those references pointed out gently that we need to soften my edges. And I agree, I’ve become a Jagged Little Pill over the years. But can’t we just have a conversation? Do you want someone who fits your organization’s needs or someone who just interviews well?

Dont mind me… tired and rambling.

This is what Friday night grad life looks like.

“Getmeoutofheregetmeoutofheregetme…” Inner Voice

I’m panicking. Panicking because I’m bored from not using my brain.

Panicking because I’m afraid I’ll be expected to use my brain and be unable to focus.

Panicking because after 2 years of not being in a hurry to put a uniform back on, now I’m in a hurry and it’s been a whole week without response from any of the units I contacted.

Panicking because I’m in love but he can’t physically rock my world in bed.

Panicking because I see fresh silver in my hair.

Panicking because I hate this job.

Panicking because I can’t find another one that won’t send me back to Afghanistan for another year.

Panicking because if I dont find another one, I’ll have to delay graduation, and drive cross-country with a cat and a dog
to live in a motel for 2 mos.

Panicking because I’m getting sick from lack of sleep.

Panicking because I’m afraid I’ll oversleep and get into trouble.

Panicking because I havent the time or energy to dance.

Panicking because my wheels are spinning, spinning, spinning, spinning…and I’m going nowhere but still aging.

“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…

Veteran entitlement?

http://www.breachbangclear.com/signs-of-veteran-entitlement/

I have mixed feelings about this. Yes could be an attention seeker or a leech on the VA teet. I’m a bit of a history buff and I’ve seen enough footage of World War 1 and 2 to know I had I had it “easy. Even picking through the remains of the Alfred P Murrah building and Khobar Towers. Or getting knocked out of my bunk once or twice by bombs that were much closer than a mile away. Or staring into the faces of the enemy Dead. They looked distorted like when I was a kid and would pinch Barbie’s head. I’ve lost friends to cancers that I suspect 50 years from now will be revealed to be a result of years of radiation and possibly all the crap that was pumped into us. I thought I’d have three-eyed babies from all the anthrax shots but instead I’m just sterile and in remission. And now long-term studies are coming out about those orange malaria pills that we ate like candy. I wake up in tears from nightmares about those I couldn’t save, ours and theirs. But Fireworks don’t bother me too much. Except for the whistlers. Those fuckers do sound like incoming, incoming, incoming..

“I can cope any way I choose and I have not cried in three whole days” ~ Violents

Hey how’s this for a pickup line? My doctor gave me a new brand of birth control pill. Want to come over and test its effectiveness?

I’m back with my vibrator. I’ve been blowing off the booty call following Bill’s death so his hints at needing a backrub or “to do laundry” are getting fewer and further between. Not that I wanted to make a habit of it. And it was a 3 on a scale to 10 ( but I give him an extra point for being a good kisser). 

I volunteered to be a lab rat. It’s what you do when you’re desperate. The VA is conducting studies on transcranial magnetic stimulation to treat depression. It feels like a giant woodpecker furiously attacking my skull for 37 and a half minutes. Not painful, just odd. I first learned about it from my family and I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t deliberately try to kill me. I volunteered late last year when the Wellbutrin made me suicidal. I feel better without pills. Sometimes I even feel normal but normal is not the same as good and Good is relative. Still, I was surprised to be accepted as a “rat” following thorough evaluation. I was added to the waiting list and so I waited. More than three months went by and I heard nothing. I even called once to make sure I was still on the list but after the new year, shaking off the Flake, brief but enjoyable travel and being a dance dance dancing machine, feeling, dare I say “good”… Bill died and a week later I got a call asking if I was ready to start treatment for 4-6 weeks. I explained to the doctor that I was concerned my results would be skewed. After all I just lost someone very dear to me and who wouldn’t be depressed? Naturally, gradually, I should feel “better” in 4-6 weeks anyway, right? I said “Before Bill died, I wasn’t depressed. I was perfectly normal”. The moment I said it, I knew it wasn’t true and the doctor was quick to point out “I screened you before your friend passed and you were not ‘ perfectly normal’, as you put it. But I take your present circumstances into account in the study results”.

I forced myself to go to a pool party Saturday, and be thankful that I got an invitation at all. It started out ok but after a few hours drinking, I looked around and found myself the odd man out again, the 7th wheel as people paired off and it became clear who the couples were (or at least the special friends). That’s when I left and got lonely enough that I text the booty call. Not to invite him over, which he fished for, but just to vent. I told him about the pool party and about being unhappy with the arrangement at home. I told him all about how my roommate asked if his girlfriend was welcome to stay the night. I said yes and a week later he had.a house key made for her without asking me and she’s lived here every day and night for the last 2 months. Individually they may be the best roommates I could hope for but my resentment is growing. Ive been taken advantage of, the water bill has doubled, but the worst part is I am living with a married couple in their honeymoon period: they cook together, dance around the kitchen, kiss, eat on the patio, fuck constantly and forget to shut the door… and it’s in my face! I begrudgingly accept my chronic single fate of the last 13 years but Im often lonely and I HATE being a spectator to a couple playing house in MY house. HATE IT! Surprisingly the booty call gave me advice that I would have expected from Bill if he were still alive “It doesn’t matter your reasons for being uncomfortable. All that matters is you are uncomfortable.”

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.

“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’d die for you…A bullet for everybody in this room” ~ 21 Pilots

May the alterna-rock g-ds gasp and strike me down but I’m not a 21 pilots fan (nor Strokes or Kings of Leon for that matter but that’s another blog). When one of their songs comes on, I usually flip to another channel but this morning I sat through the song “Ride” and the lyrics struck me. Maybe it’s the timing, maybe it’s just my sentimentality. They aren’t profoundly poetic but he makes a point that I can relate to when he says that it is easier to take a bullet for someone than to live for them. Perhaps that isn’t exactly what he meant but that’s how I choose to understand it.

I sent the lyrics to him. He likes 21 Pilots. He text me pictures of furniture that he purchased for his new apartment. Oh, he’s committed now. Can’t pack his entire life into the bed of a truck and run away anymore. He said he didn’t know if he was running away or starting over. I said it doesn’t matter which one it is. Fear and Excitement are the same emotion; the only difference is how you interpret them.

Desiderata…

I give it a week, to stop hearing from him. By then, his abusive ex, their mutual acquaintances and a handful of new friends will have his attention again and I’ll be forgotten. He treats me like a “stop gap”, someone to talk to when no one else he prefers more is available for whatever reason.

Forgive me if I’m repeating myself here (memory of a goldfish, remember? Nope.) but I made a list about 3 years ago detailing what I was looking for in a man. Long before Oprah began pushing her “Vision Boards” with more glitter and glue than a kindergarten project, the Millionaire Matchmaker suggested a physical written list of the “non-negotiables” of a relationship. To keep things in perspective in the crush-phase, you must remember exactly what your deal-breakers are. I have a fine list, I think, and someday I may post it here but as an exercise in reality, I compare those I develop strong feelings for to this list to see how they measure up and most of them fall quite short. And if it seems that every other blog I write is about some heartache I’m experiencing, consider the dates, and you will see that there is a good year or more between them. Because I don’t meet many men who get under my skin. Or maybe I just let the broken ones in.

But I digress. So I compared my former roommate, friend? I don’t even know what to call him, to “The List” and he failed on every point. That’s not to say that he doesn’t exhibit those qualities at all, but he doesn’t for me. Integrity, steadfastness, loyalty, kinky… there is evidence to support the assumption that he has those traits but they are reserved for those he cares about. And if they do not apply to me, then they are moot.

He teases me. Flirts. He doesn’t need to add the details that he’s naked AND horny to our textual conversations but I’m an easy target, (sexually frustrated is a gross understatement) and he cant resist. Even though he gives no indication that there is or ever was a mutual physical attraction. Maybe he just likes the attention or knowledge that someone out there wants him. Chemistry is #1 on my list, by the way. But the caveat is “mutual, enduring chemistry”.

Over time, however, I came to realize that my friend, nice as he is, prizes extreme beauty above all the other desiderata that one might seek in a partner.

— Adelle Waldman, “‘A First-Rate Girl’: The Problem of Female Beauty,” The New Yorker, October 2, 2013

I also did a walk-in at the VA hospital last Friday morning, based on my mother’s advice. The ironic thing is, I had my bi-annual check up with Mental Health less than a month ago and after a half hour chat, the doctor says “Well, you are in a good place so want to catch up in a year?” Sure, see you in a year. Or three weeks, crying uncontrollably in your nurses’ office. With chronic exhaustion still lingering post-op, what anti-anxiety or sleep medication won’t turn me comatose? She prescribed a mild sedative for sleep and told me she wanted me to consider going back on Wellbutron. I chose to come off it last September because I felt I could cope fine without it. She said “The nightmares and anxiety could be the depression coming back and I think we need to nip that in the bud”. You don’t have to stay on it long-term, the nurse told me. It takes weeks to build up in the body and weeks to ween your body off it so at the shortest, I’m looking at 3 months back on medication.

Listen, I don’t judge anyone on Xanax or anti-depressants but the military judges ME. On one hand, the military urges it’s members to seek help when needed while quietly destroying the careers of those that do. At least, that is my impression. No, we do not have to disclose any form of counseling unless it concerns the intent to harm others but we are expected to disclose our medications during routine and annual physicals. And that is where you could end up in a never-ending “waiver” battle to keep your job and your security clearance because many fields in the military are deemed “incompatible” for those on psychotropic medication. Although last I read, as much as 80% of our military is medicated. It’s inevitable when people are faced with decades of violence. Consider everything you see on TV and remember the Military, law enforcement, and medics may be living and reliving it.

I ASKed my bestest friend (who happens to be an asshole) to suggest an “uplifting” movie since I was in a bit of a funk. He suggested Reese Witherspoon in “Wild” since I am gearing up for a 10 day solo hike through the Highlands for my (gulp…) 40th. Half-way through the movie, I text him to say “WTF.” His response “Well, she doesn’t die.” I did enjoy watching Reese get railed but hey, I’m a bit of sicko in the sexual fantasy department.

On a lighter note, I danced quite a bit this weekend. My stamina isn’t what it was 18 months ago but I did manage to swing dance for nearly 2 straight hours without passing out and/or vomiting. I hang primarily with a group of seniors because the group that is closer to my age-range is “The Scene” and very clique-y (F*ck those guys). We took a picture of our filthy legs and feet when it was over. Then they suggested that I follow them to a nearby brewery to continue the dancing with another live band. I was still panting and thinking incredulously, “So this is what it’s come to: I can’t even keep up with the 60 year olds…” (PS: that’s my foot with the yellow mosquito coil around the dirt blackened ankle)

I also returned to ballet and combatives classes. I’m the fat girl in the ballet class, surrounded by waifs and mirrors. And coincidentally, I’m the only one without a diamond on my left hand. As for the combatives class, it’s led by a coworker of mine; a retired Green Beret. He personifies what it means to be a Green Beret. Perhaps it’s partly generational bias but our Army’s best-of-the-best suffers from “they just don’t make ’em like they used to”. To quote another older G.B. that I work with, “What a bunch of fucking girls”. As a “girl” myself, should I take offense to my gender being one of the worst derogatory slurs one can bestow on another human being? If I did, I wouldn’t survive in this environment.

PS x 2: , “ohhh woah woah ohhh woah woah I’m falling, and taking my time on the riiiiiiyeee eyeee eyeeed eyeee eyeee eyeeed”