Of internal monologues & the stories you don’t want to hear

Y’all, I’d be lying if I said things haven’t been really dark lately.

It’s not so much the “I can’t make myself get out of bed” kind of dark. It’s more the “Well, well, well, look who’s failing again” version.

You’re flaky. You’re unprofessional. You can’t be trusted to make the right choices. You’re not worthy. You can’t be trusted to make any choices, actually. Look at you, why aren’t you trying harder to lose those love handles? You spent money on what? Seriously? You want new, nice underwear because yours is falling apart? You know anything nice is just asking for it. No, really, you have *got* to do something about those hips. He’s just waiting until someone else better comes along. You’re disposable.

That’s been my internal monologue for the past week or so. I’m still perfectly capable of getting out of bed, putting on pants, and physically showing up. Mentally? I’m about a million miles away. Fortunately, my medication has kept stress related auras at bay. Hailey manifests herself in the form of being more defensive. Yesterday, my boss pointed out two specific instances where I’d been unusually defensive. I blamed it on the fact that one of my employees was out on medical leave this past week. It wasn’t entirely a lie. My other employee works far too slowly to be of much help. I was a one woman show doing the work of 4 people. I stayed late at work three of the four days I worked this week. I signed up for a class geared toward new(ish) managers. If nothing else, I can’t say I’m not making the effort.

I look in the mirror and I see her. I have to push to actually see myself. I’ve had confirmation that when your brain is struggling, so does your body. In my dance classes, I couldn’t perform basic moves that I know I can do. I felt like a giraffe on roller skates. I was in a class of three people one night, so I couldn’t just fade into the crowd. Not that I ever really fade into a crowd, but that’s not the point. Under normal circumstances, getting a correction is a good thing. It means the teacher is paying enough attention to stop and help with your technique. Instead of taking the correction as it was intended, I just withdrew into myself. The teacher is really nice & wants to make everyone a better dancer. Hailey didn’t see it that way. She put it as another tick mark on the running negative tally. It’s exhausting.

All that said, I am seeing my therapist this afternoon. I’m not going to do anything rash or hurt myself. I just wanted to put all of that out into the world. As hard as it is, yanking back the covers & letting in the light is the best thing to do. She could use some Vitamin D anyway.

XOXO!

Motivational Monday: Depression

My depression existed long before my abuse.

When I was 12, we moved from a (relatively) small town in Virginia to Atlanta. The Internet was still a novelty in those days (“Get off the phone! I need to use the Internet!”). My main method of communication with my friends were letters and phone calls. These were also the days of land lines where calling outside your area code came with a higher charge. Thus, my phone calls were limited to 30 minutes or less. I had a hard time making friends in my new school because almost all of the other kids had been classmates since kindergarten or first grade. The only people I really made friends with were the other 2 new girls. To say I had a hard time adjusting would be an understatement. I got better when the Internet & instant messaging became a thing. I had an unrestricted way to communicate.

I wrote a lot of poetry during those 2 years. I know most people make fun of poetry, but to my 7th grade self, it made the most sense. It was a way to get all my feelings out in a form I could relate to. I kept the book & reread it after I graduated high school. I wrote some very dark things. There was no danger of me killing myself, but my heart broke for that girl who had no idea what to do. She did the best she could with a lot of feelings that she didn’t fully understand. Then came the abuse & depression reared its scraggly blonde head once again. I told you that story to tell you this one…

I wanted to share a tool my therapist gave me to keep depression at bay. It’s not a solution by any means. Always, always listen to your health care provider (mental and / or physical) first. It’s just a trick that can help when you’re feeling particularly challenged. It’s called CESS. It stands for Creative, Exercise, Self Care, & Spiritual. Ideally, you hit all 4 on any given day. Realistically, it’s 3. I recently reimplemented this in my life & I noticed a shift. I keep a journal & at the end of the day, I write down each point. Some things even overlap. If I go to dance, that covers both Exercise & Creative. Depending on the style or the tone of the class, it can even cover Spiritual. Reading a book covers Creative because your brain has something else to chew on. You may choose to practice an instrument, paint, or write.

Self care & Spirituality are easily the most personal & sometimes the hardest to incorporate. Personally, I take self care very literally. Taking a shower, brushing my teeth, putting on make up, or using nice smelling lotion all cover that point for me. Self care for you could be taking a night off, watching TV, & focusing on yourself rather than someone else. It could overlap with exercise by taking a yoga class, for example. Spirituality is where I tread very lightly. For me, meditation right before I go to bed satisfies my spirituality. I was raised Catholic, but I don’t relate to it at all any more. I spent the weekend with my dad’s family who take their faith very seriously. My dad himself takes his faith very seriously, especially given how hard this year has been for him. Whatever allows you to feel a connection with the greater world, universe, or what have you, is exactly what you need to do.

CESS is the root of “cease” or “cessation” which means “to end” or “to stop”. It won’t stop depression in its tracks, but it can slow it down long enough to allow you to get back on your feet.

Motivational Tidbit Takeaway: Cease & desist

XOXO!

Motivational Monday: Acceptance

The anniversary of the day I met Will passed this week. I didn’t even notice. October 2, 2004. It’s been a decade. When I realized it last night, I was flooded with a mix of memories and emotions. He was my first and I was his first. After, I was in the bathroom trying to figure out a way to stop the bleeding. Our first Valentine’s Day, he bought me flowers. It was windy, so he walked backwards from the train station to my dorm so the flowers wouldn’t be damaged. He took me to Mardi Gras. His parents’ house was literally half a block off the parade route. His sister hated me. His mom hated me. His dad loved me. His ex-girlfriend and I bonded over having the exact same birthday. His phone number is seared into my brain. If he ever called me again, I would know it was him. I remember his birthday. I don’t remember when we broke up. For all intents and purposes, the relationship ended after graduation when he moved back to New Orleans and I stayed here.

In the past decade, I’ve seen him once. He called me out of the blue in the summer of 2010. He said he would be in town & asked to have lunch together. I agreed. It was a really, really bad decision. He rattled off everything he was doing. His new girlfriend was in town training for Teach for America. He’d bought a car. He’d bought a condo. The car was particularly significant because he had been deemed uninsurable after being in 3 accidents in as many months. Apparently the state of Louisiana changed its mind and he was once again able to legally drive. During our relationship, I was responsible for all the transportation needs. Overall, it was a strange experience. We parted ways and that night I, of course, crawled into a bottle of vodka and stayed there. I drunk dialed him, left him a rambling message, & saw the next morning that he’d called me back. I was absolutely mortified. Two months later I met Boy. Three months later I made my first attempt at drying out. I haven’t heard from him again, in person or virtually. Sometimes I wonder what happened to him. If my phone were to ring right this second and it was him, would I pick up the phone? My stomach drops at the thought. I think that’s a pretty good sign that I should let it ring to voicemail.

The fact that the date passed without me noticing is significant in its own right. My uncanny ability to remember dates, times, places, and people along with their significance can be a blessing and a curse. This year, October 2 was spent calling in sick to work & cat napping all day. That’s the only reason it stood out. No anxiety. No pain. Nothing to otherwise distinguish it from any other Thursday. If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that swatting at the past like you’re trying to get a bug out of your face does no good. I was reminded that he wasn’t all bad. He wasn’t abusive 24/7. That by no means absolves what he did. A reminder of our own humanity and the humanity of others is important. Yesterday I did what amounted to narrowing down what’s important to me right now. The results were a bit eye opening. My main focus is to self improvement and improving my relationships with those closest to me. I hadn’t really given it much thought recently other than in passing. That requires accepting our flaws, strengths, and quirks as part of a whole package. It’s never easy and sometimes far easier to ignore, but it’s worth it in the end.

Motivational Tidbit Takeaway: Be human

XOXO!

Motivational Monday: Praying

This article really spoke to me.

When people hear the word “prayer”, the knee jerk reaction is the rote poems written in their respective organized doctrines. Boy was raised Jewish. I was raised Catholic. If you were raised in any kind of organized religion, I’m sure you can recite the most common prayers without thinking twice about it. I think that’s why people find the word “pray” so offputting. The words of a pre-fab prayer don’t ring true. They aren’t capturing the emotion or the idea behind laying it all on the table in the face of a world in which we are specks.

When my dad almost died, I found myself praying frequently. By praying, I mean lying on the bed, sobbing my eyes out, begging the greater world to let me do something. I heard nothing back. I squeezed every bit of feeling out of myself in those moments. It did more for me than any number of Our Fathers, Hail Marys, or Prayers to St. Francis could ever do. Ironically, those are also doled out as punishment when you go to confession. That’s why, at least in my head, they don’t do anything. How can something that’s supposed to make you connect more with a greater power also be used as a weapon?

I don’t believe in a god or goddess. I don’t believe in a literal heaven or hell. Yet, I still pray. I still have something I need to communicate in the face of helplessness and fear. That’s also where AA failed. For all their huffing about praying to a higher power of your choice, they were referring to the traditional God of Christianity. They said all the prewritten prayers and went through the same motions that happened in a church service. It didn’t fit. Just like in school, I was expected to pray at certain times of the day, confess my sins, and be duly punished for them with the promise to go and sin no more. Not helpful. If anything, it made me far more likely to fight the system. When Emily & I would go to meetings together, we’d sit in the car for the first few minutes because we didn’t want to sit through the whole opening prayer bit. Quite the rebels, we were.

At one point or another, we’ve all yelled at the sky asking why something didn’t work out or we couldn’t do anything more to change a situation. We’ve prayed. When someone dies and we say “My thoughts are with your family” or “I’m sending you good vibes”, we’re praying for them. I see plenty of my friends on Facebook asking for prayers without even realizing it. They may even think they’re going out of their way to not ask for others to pray by suggesting “good vibes” or “positive thoughts”. I also know a lot of them would insist that’s not what they’re asking for at all. Regardless, we all have our way and call it by its own name. Ramen ;)

XOXO!

Motivational Tidbit Takeaway: Say a little prayer

Of makeovers and parents

I’ve been binge watching What Not to Wear lately.

If it were still on the air, I would nominate my mother. She would kill me if she got picked, but watching the show has brought to light the wild insecurities that most women have. For as much as we butt heads, she did rear me to be the woman I am. She has a very, very hard time of letting go. We lived in Virginia for 7 years, from the time I was 5 until I was 12. She has a Master’s degree in counseling and worked at the high school attached to my elementary school. When we moved to Georgia, she had a very hard time finding a job in a school. She gave up fairly quickly. For a time, she worked at Barnes & Noble. I don’t remember why, but if I had to guess, it was when my sister started high school. She hasn’t had a job at all for years. Frequently, she’ll bring up how much she misses living in Virginia. It was only recently that I realized she doesn’t so much miss the location as she does what she had there. She felt useful.

What baffles me (and I’m sure other members of my family) is why she doesn’t find a part time job or volunteer somewhere. She loves to place blame on her age. She’ll be 60 next year. She certainly doesn’t look it for as much as she gets down on herself for never being a great beauty. She’s plain, but so are a lot of people. Watching the show made me think about how low her self esteem must be. Not having a job came in handy when my dad spent 2 months in the hospital & it certainly gave me no doubt about the state of their relationship. It’s frustrating to not be able to convince her to even try. She can feel useful again, even if it’s selling books for $10 an hour. It’s frustrating to hear the same song and dance which she has complete control over. If she put half the effort into herself that she put into her adult children, she’d be a completely different woman. Maybe someday she’ll see that.

Moral of the story: Getting older is going to happen. Be grateful for every year that comes and goes. A lot of people don’t get to see 30 or 40 or 50 or 60. Put on a nice pair of shoes, some lipstick, and tell the world you aren’t afraid of it.

XOXO!

Twilight Thursday: Watching the movie or That’s 2 hours of my life I’ll never get back

In a moment of pure insanity, Boy & I decided to watch Twilight. Yes, I know. Hear me out first.

We’re both fans of RiffTrax. It’s the guys from Mystery Science Theater 3000 doing running commentary of assorted films. Watch this before moving forward.

With that in mind, we figured some witty outside banter would make the movie bearable. Thusly we embarked.

I’ve never seen Kristen Stewart in anything else, or if I have, she made no lasting impression. I used to get her confused with Kristen Bell. Too bad, as Kristen Bell actually has talent. I saw Robert Pattinson in his brief role as Cedric Digory in the Harry Potter universe. He was little more than cannon fodder in that. Going in, I had a fairly clean slate upon which to judge their acting. If one can refer to it as acting, of course.

The acting lived down to what I’d heard. Teenagers frequently stare awkwardly at each other, especially when facing their crush. This was way overboard on the awkward stare followed by some mumbling along the lines of “yeah, sure, totally, definitely”. The rest of the cast was no better. There wasn’t any one actor who stood out in the sea of mediocrity. Sometimes a crappy movie can be saved by a decent actor who outshines the rest (pun intended). Speaking of shiny -

What the hell kind of sparkle was that? I was expecting full on blind you make a drag queen look like an overly faded tee shirt level sparkly. Nope, I could barely tell the dude was anything other than needing to put some powder on his oily skin. Go big or go home, goddammit. The piggy back ride up the mountain made it a little better, but only because the Benny Hill theme was being hummed in the background.

If I thought the pacing of the book was slow, the movie more than delivered. Boy & I looked over at one point and realized we were only halfway in. AND THAT WAS WITH WITTY BANTER.

The movie dropped a few hints about the villains fairly early on. I’m seven chapters into the book and not a whisper of an antagonist, other than Bella antagonizing the rest of us. I honestly couldn’t tell what Blackeyed Peas was after. They show up and are like “Hey! Mind if we play some ball with you?” and the Cullens are all “Yeah totally!” and then Blackeyed Peas goes “Wait a sec, you brought a snack!”. They did not, however, bring enough for the whole class. Douche move, Team Cullen. Ponytail is especially disappointed. Why? I have no clue. Absolutely no motive was given. I guess he was just really, really hungry.

That’s another thing, there was no motivation at all. On anyone’s part. Ever. If the protagonist has no motivation (i.e. end goal), then how is the antagonist supposed to antagonize? Toss Bella around a dance studio like the worst ballroom dancing competition ever? I was really, really hoping he’d just toss her through the window and we’d be done with it. Sorry, no, you’ve lost. Next contestant please.

Boy & I frequently have conversations about our various suspensions of disbelief. He yells at the TV or a movie about their crappy security. I frequently yell at the TV or a movie about how they’re killing someone incorrectly. If Bella’s femoral artery really were severed, she would have bled out in approximately 3 minutes. It probably would have been faster considering her pulse was higher from, you know, being tossed around like a rag doll. Of course, to save her, Edward takes even more blood out of her! Apparently vampires are like poisonous snakes in this universe. He tries to suck the venom out like you would with a snake bite. Except for the minor detail where that’s an urban legend, she still lives in spite of losing about half of her blood. Why, gods, why! Why is she still living? For whatever sins humanity has committed, I will repent! We shall repent! *hits knees wailing*

Then there’s the denouement which really shouldn’t be classed as such. Edward takes her to the prom where they bust out the cliche of the gazebo lit with Christmas lights. The gazebo isn’t the only one getting lit by this point. There’s more staring and a voice over that I had something along the lines of “I love Edward! I shall never leave him! We are destined for each other!”. Of course, that’s pretty much the whole movie. I would go throw up, but it’s a waste of my time, much like the movie itself.

After it ended, Boy and I simply stared at each other. There were no words.

Back to the books next week, kiddos!

XOXO!

Twilight Thursday: Twilight Chapter 6 or Why the hell is everyone with a vagina jealous of Bella?

We’re, give or take, 20% into the story. I have no further comment than that. Yet.


Now our heroine is sitting in her room reading Macbeth with rain pouring outside. The Shakespearean centric English major in me had to giggle. She might as well be reading Hamlet when it’s foggy outside. For those of you (poor souls) who are unfamiliar with either play, suffice to say that doom, gloom, and rain / airborne precipitation are in short order. Once again, we have to see how well read Bella is. At least this time she doesn’t make the snide comment that she’s reading it for fun.

The worst part about Friday was that, even though I knew he wasn’t going to be there, I still hoped. When I walked into the cafeteria with Jessica and Mike, I couldn’t keep from looking at his table, where Rosalie, Alice, and Jasper sat talking, heads close together. And I couldn’t stop the gloom that engulfed me as I realized I didn’t know how long I would have to wait before I saw him again.

Try Monday morning. That seems like a good start.

As they’re leaving the lunch room, Minor Character Number Four (or Five? I’ve lost count) questions why Bella isn’t sitting with Team Fangtasia. To which Bella replies:

I really didn’t know her well at all, certainly not well enough for her to dislike me – or so I thought.

Because she’s a set dressing, that’s why you don’t know her. Duh.

Once she’s home, Bella decides to bring up Edward’s little camping trip to her dad:

It’s not a very good place for camping.” He sounded surprised. “Too many bears. Most people go there during hunting season.”

And if you’re a vampire, it’s always hunting season. Just wait for duck season. Or rabbit season.

The day of their little jaunt to the beach, it’s sunny. Go Mother Nature. She arrives at the meeting point and all the girls are whispering and gossiping about here. I really don’t understand why. Unless they all have a raging crush on Edward of which the reader is heretofore unaware, I don’t get it. Bella has beaten us over the head with how klutzy and otherwise undesirable she is. Why on earth would the other girls feel at all threatened? Oh right, because Bella is our self deprecating protagonist and there has to be some lame attempt at conflict.

On the drive to the beach, Meyer treats us to a rather positive review of the landscape. It’s completely incongruous with Bella’s previous bitching and moaning. Apparently, a little Vitamin D does just the thing. They get to the beach and there’s two pages worth of Mike trying to flirt with Bella and Jessica giving Bella the stink eye.

I was completely absorbed, except for one small part of my mind that wondered what Edward was doing now, and trying to imagine what he would be saying if he were here with me.

The answers to your questions are “sleeping” and some snide comment about how he’s dangerous and not cut out to be a BFF. Also, your whole mind is small.

Drumroll please, we have now officially met Jacob.

My positive opinion of his looks was damaged by the first words out of his mouth.

“You’re Isabella Swan, aren’t you?”

In her mind, Bella is God. You are not allowed to speak her name as it is blasphemy. YOU ARE UNWORTHY!!!! Seriously, bitch, get over yourself. Jacob starts chatting her up:

He had a pleasant, husky voice.

I totally see what you did there.

Meyer tries to continue the girl on girl conflict. Minor Character Number Four (or Five) aka Lauren, apparently has a thing for Jacob & tries to pick a fight with Bella. The Plastics have NOTHING on this chick (Incidentally, a viewing of Mean Girls needs to happen in my near future). What’s problematic about Bella’s interpretation of Lauren’s behaviour is just that. It’s an interpretation. There’s no emotional investment on the part of the reader with the interactions between Bella and the other female characters. Meyer didn’t waste her time on fleshing out those relationships in favor of Bella mooning for pages on end. If she had established Lauren or Jessica or Random Minor Female Character Number Three, the antagonism would be more interesting. Instead, it reads as puzzling at best.

The topic changes in the direction of something vaguely resembling interesting.

I stared at the deep-voiced boy, taken aback, but he was looking away toward the dark forest behind us. He’d said that the Cullens don’t come here, but his tone implied something more – that they weren’t allowed; they were prohibited. His manner left a strange impression on me, and I tried to ignore it without success.

Wow, your Spidey Sense is really on point.

In the true spirit of emotional manipulation, Bella decides to extract further information from Jacob:

“Do you want to walk down to the beach with me? I asked, trying to imitate the way Edward had of looking up from underneath his eyelashes.

Yes, channel the creepy vampire face. That sure does bring all the boys to the yard.

More blah, blah, blah I’m a terrible flirt. Blah, blah, blah, he’s totally falling for it. Blah, blah, blah.

“Do you like scary stories?” he asked.

“I love them,” I enthused, making an effort to smolder at him.

Yes, please go ahead and light on fire.

Jacob tells the story of how vampires and werewolves came to a happy agreement to stay off each other’s turf. Of course, the master of the Cullen Clan engineered this 4 generations ago with Jacob’s family. Even better, the Cullens just welcomed two new ones into the family. Mazel tov.

But I really did like Jacob. He was someone I could easily be friends with.

Uh oh, here comes the friendzoning.

Then the puny humans are back off again thanks to the rain. At least we get a short break from Bella bitching about the precipitation. Being a weatherman in this part of the world must be stupid easy. And scene.

I’d like to point out that Jacob was introduced in this chapter & has already had a conversation with Bella. Yet the Cullens / Hales were introduced in the second chapter & none of them have spoken a word. Named characters are supposed to talk! If you don’t want them to talk, don’t bother with a name. If you’re trying to amp up tension until they speak, then save the name for when they decide to open their mouths. It must have just been too difficult to say “All those damn pale kids look the same! Except Edward. He’s totally hot. Err, cold. Whatever.”

We finally (FINALLY) get some kind of exposition. It took all of 4 pages to set up the whole plot. Vampires don’t like werewolves. Edward just so happens to be a vampire and Jacob is conveniently a werewolf. Why the hell did it take so long to get there? In case I haven’t beaten the dead horse enough, the pacing is driving me insane. It’s going like a George Romero style zombie pace rather than a vampiric pace. If vampires can move at the rate of virtual teleportation, then the plot should, too. I’m surprised the book hasn’t been trudging around behind me moaning “braaaaains”. What has taken Meyer over 100 pages to set up easily could have been done in half that time. In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m a very succinct writer. My biggest problem in college was getting the word count necessary for my papers. I could say in 300 words what the professor wanted in 500 words. That was with references and quotes necessary to support my argument. Excessively wordy prose is not my speed. If I were writing the book, I probably could have set up the whole thing in 30 pages. Am I really asking too much? If I am, please speak up. I appreciate honestly from my loyal readers.

Until next time!

Semicolon count: 8

Number of gummy bears I consumed during the creation of this post: Apocalyptic

XOXO!