“If you can’t hold on, hold on” ~The Killers

I told my family I loved and appreciated them. I don’t say it enough even
though they occupy the first row of my mind. I’m nearly 43 and my mother
still covers me with a blanket. I fear the day she’s no longer here. I’ll be
alone and that’s a fact.
Last night, I was dry-eyed as I moved a few pictures of “C” to a folder
where they would be out of sight but not deleted. Even the picture of the
apple and honey as he observed Yom Kippur with me long distance.
I’m compartmentalizing, I think.
Although as I nurse my forsaken body from a the most punishing training in
years, the grief creeps into the stillness. Of all feelings, there is an
intense loneliness that I havent felt in years. Back when I used to think I
would die alone and cry myself to sleep barricaded by pillows at night.
Well, I still believe I will die alone but I had reached a space where I was
okay with that. Now, I’m back to wishing I had someone that I could call
just to come over and “distract” me for an hour or two. Take the edge off.
Touch me. But it can’t be just anyone. Who do I even want? Who even wants
me? Both faces are necessary to make a coin so I’m flat broke as ever.
Thirteen days, I’ll be another year older and had plans to again, again, to summit
mountains. One of my few friends will be with me this time and as honest as
we have always been with each other, I’m afraid he will mistake my
loneliness as an invitation. I don’t know if I’m physically capable of doing
10+ miles a day on a mountain right now with my knees and feet swollen and
taped. I don’t know if I’m up for conversation either.
During a round of acupuncture at a community clinic, I watched him through
my eyelashes: former Cavalry, Afghanistan vet, a humanitarian, a healer,
married with two kids. Two fat tears leaked out and I was grateful for the
darkness. All the good ones are gone. Or their dick doesn’t work.
Or they didn’t pick me.
That’s something my mother gently reminded me of. Maybe that’s not THE point
she was trying to make as the only person I’ve discussed the death of “C”
with. But that was my take-away and maybe what helps me cope when the image
of him unstaring, with a bullet hole in his head comes unbidden to mind.
“You offered him a better life, and he didn’t take it,” she said. Reminding
me, he didn’t choose me. If I hadnt completely moved on, I must now. That
business will have to remain unfinished. It was finished to him. I thought I
could “save” him but he didn’t want to be saved. How often do we do that to
ourselves? Cling, thinking we will be the unshakeable force of change in
someone’s life?
And I’m back to wondering if G-d exists, if there is a “plan”, if I have a
“purpose”, if I will die alone…

Later. X-rays confirm one of my feet is broken. Mountaineering is off. Well, postponed until September. I ate the plane tickets. I’ll be at work on my birthday but the worst part is my coping mechanism, dancing, is off the table for six to eight weeks.
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“C”

I didn’t hear it from a personal source. No, I learned about it at work, in
detail. More detail than his family will see or know.
Sure, he told me he and his wife were separated, that they were getting a
divorce, that she was already seeing other people…he used to show me her
insane emails and texts and photos of the bruises and scratches she would
leave on him…I got a firsthand taste of her crazy when she found out about
us. But it doesn’t matter if she was nuts or if he lied about the separation
or how many girlfriends he had during his three marriages…none of that
matters because I loved him and it’s hard for me to call it a mistake.
Although it was the first and last time I ever got involved with a married
man. Every day, I drive by a road that bears his name and my eyes are always drawn to it. 
And now he’s dead. Shot in the head by an enemy sniper on a night raid in Afghanistan.
Obviously, because of the circumstances of our relationship, I can’t show up
at the funeral. His kids never met me and his still-current wife
would very likely attack me. And I’ve disrespected her enough already for my part in the affair. So with exception of messaging my mom and my three closest friends who knew what he meant to me, I’ll bear this alone. I
read an article in which his second wife gave a beautiful testimony. I’ll
keep it. 
Unsure about the necklace though. The twisted pearl he gave me for Christmas four years ago. I often thought about dropping it into the ocean, but couldn’t ever bring myself to do it. Holding on, like a charm that might
bring him back to me. It didn’t and now it never will. 
He was my Lightning Strike.  He was everything I desired in a man. Perhaps I was blinded by the chemistry which was unlike anything I’ve ever felt with anyone else. The way he would look at me, unapologetic. We were confidants and compatriots in arms before we were ever lovers. Sitting outside in the darkness watching for incoming rockets like shooting stars. He set the bar by which every man after him failed to hurdle.

Even so, I found the strength to break it off, telling him I was not the
“mistress type” and sneaking around and never meeting his kids was a reminder that I was indeed, doing something “wrong”. I hoped he’d follow through with a divorce and reach back out to me eventually but he never did. Although “C” once told me I was better to and for him than anyone
in his life ever had been, in the years that followed, I thought of him often and never heard from him. So maybe I was the only one between us that cared beyond the moment.
Maybe now I should bury that necklace, the same as they bury him. 
I’m oscillating between dazed indifference and involuntary bursts of tears.
I think of him, naked and shining, climbing atop the furniture in his room,
catching ladybugs and releasing them outside…

“I’ve got my love to keep me warm”

I felt a bad mood coming on like the first tickle of a cold on my way out of work this evening. I stopped by Starbux thinking a caffiene boost would be a quick cure (and give me energy to dance tonight) but they got my order wrong and as I drove off, I fought back the urge to hurl the cup screaming into road.

An old friend – a close friend – popped into my head and I realized I hadnt talked to him a while or seen him on social media so I decided to send a text to check in (because I’m not a good friend these days)… but I couldnt recall his name. It’s like forgetting your sisters’ name. And it didnt escape me for a moment and pop right back in place like a disclocated shoulder. An hour later, I was crying because I still couldnt remember his name and was sifting through the countless bullshit saved numbers on my phone’s contact list to find him. I finally found him, sent a text but havent heard back. I’m a little concerned because he’s prone to depression. Social media makes it easy to keep tabs on the people we care about but at teh same time, it makes us lurkers in their lives and not active participants. We are watching over them and we care but they dont know that.
Our lives have become nothing more than a collection of hashtags.
If my friend who’s name escaped me is in my Top 10 of friends, the guy who is in my Top 5 was so upset with me for neglecting him that he deleted my number from his phone. I know this because (1. I know that’s something he does with people he truly angry with and 2.) he didnt immediately know who I was by the time I got around to returning his multiple calls. Instead of greeting me with “Hola, Amiga!” as soon as the call connected, he asked politely “Who is this?” (no, he wasnt joking or trying to make a point. I do know him well).
As Im failing at friendship as a whole, my Asshole Best Friend is suicidal again. His other best friend and I have discussed it behind his back, trying to figure out how to best handle it: Tell his father who will put him back in Rehab? Tell his sister who will kick his proverbial ass? We both lean towards the latter. If he does take his life, I won’t be surprised but I”ll aslo feel responsible because how can I not? If I was a better friend…
But we are not responsible for the behavior or happiness of others, are we? Or is that just another popular “self help” quasi-Buddhist nugget of modern-day wisdom that we are supposed to swallow to make us feel less guilty for shirking our responsibility to be kind humans?
As I was crying this afternoon, I ask myself out loud “Why are you upset?”
Is it because you’re a bad friend?
Is it because you’re a bad girlfriend who is unhappy with her current romantic albeit asexual relationship; who may be sticking it out because she already bought him an expensive, non-returnable Christmakkuh present?
Is it because photos and mirrors reflect reflect an old, tired, washed up ghost?
Is it becaue you havent achieved what you expected to by this point?
is it because you had worse than a mild wardrobe malfunction at last weekend’s cabaret show and your entire tit flopped out like an unwelcome fish onstage for everyone to behold?
And then, to snap myself out of that, I went in search of words of wisdom, my copy of The Happiness Advantage that Ive only dented by about 20 pages in several months…and of course I can’t find it. It’s not where I distinctly recall leaving it. And the anxiety is rising again because I’m back in the near empty parking lot, walking right past my car, searching for the car I traded in two years ago…embarassed, confused, and a little frightened.

“I don’t pop my cork for every guy I see” ~Sweet Charity

That title is a lie. These days, I do. Everyone except the one I’m with.

Surrounded by people in the office and feel like typing helps…sane as long as I’m typing, like a shark that can’t stop swimming lest they die.

Havent slept in two nights, I was late to work both days, took sick leave to cover my butt but I still burn all my leave as fast as I earn it for bullshit like that. I’ll never get more than an extended weekend at this rate. In 10 months of employment here, I still can’t bring myself to the commitment that a signature block signifies but perhaps something along the lines of “Over-educated, executive-level-manager-turned-desk-monkey”. Today, one of the letters from another department gets kicked back for bad grammar and punctuation. I fixed it -simple-and sent it back but the response was “The Director’s office will wait for review by the Coaches”. Right. Because correcting grammatical errors in reports is above my pay grade these days.

I was happily hacking down trees on my mom’s property in the woods two weekends ago. Too bad park rangers make $26-28k annually. Loves the woods! Handy with a chainsaw! PR experience a plus! Cant live off that check though.

Had a meeting with my Army career manager yesterday. First face to face in a year and admit that I was sucking in HARD (#gradschoolgut). I agreed to consider deploying again with SOCOM and fought back a cold sweat. I swear, if the Air Force would take me back, I’d celebrate. Did I ever tell you about that rainbow I saw on the flight line at Patrick AFB when I went out there three years ago to interview with the C-130 CSAR unit? Oh man, I was CONVINCED that was a sign! I KNEW in my heart that I would retire there, back in a blue uniform (or green flight suit). What the fck happened to that? Nothing good has come from my Army experience.

Cant talk to CK right now either. Eleven months now without orgasm. Frustration elevated back to DEFCON 10. He was crying about how while doing his Jane Fonda stretches this morning, he lost his balance and bumped his shoulder. I found his weakness unattractive. And hate myself for feeling that way. And for fantasizing about the guy at work that “offered” me his fully functioning c*ck (and no, I didnt take him up on it).

How ‘bout this for a signature block?

“Bitch, BA, MBA, Executive-level-manager-turned-minimum-wage-desk-monkey”

“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?

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..