I appreciate authentic gestures, no matter how small they are.
We’ve got a couple of people at work who are remote. They fly in once or twice a month, hang out for a day or three and fly home. I think both of them are intimidated by driving here, so they have taken ubers for awhile now. That does a couple of things: a) they tend to schedule flights so that arrive close to one another and spend a lot of time at the airport waiting for one another so they can share a ride b) they tend to give other employees puppy-dog eyes to sucker us into picking them up in the morning, dropping them off, and spending time with them because after doing this for years, they’re bored silly in the hotel.
There’s a woman at work that I used to hang out with a lot. We’d go walk for lotto tickets together, which was really an excuse to get out of the office and vent. She moved here so that her and her BF could be closer to his family. Then he went and started a business that’s had him in Minneapolis for the last six months with no end in site. She didn’t hate it here, but she didn’t love it either. So she wanted to move back to Louisiana so that she’d at least be by friends and family if they weren’t going to be together. Their lease is up in September so she was starting to plan around that.
After talking about it, they really decided that what they wanted was just to be together, and they didn’t want to wait, so she broke the lease and moved to Minneapolis recently. She’s been a rock-star employee, so the company offered her the opportunity to work remotely. She’s back in town for the first time this week but unlike the others rented a car and then promptly got stuck being a chauffeur for them.
We were supposed to hang out tonight, but she got roped into carting them all around. I’m not really dating anyone right now and the Boy is with his mom this week. There’s been a lot of weird stuff going on at work that has my spidey-sense tingling. It was raining here this afternoon and I had to be at work earlier than normal, so I came home, took a nap, then was doing a bunch of unappealing chores while waiting to see if she was going to call. After a certain point I went and grabbed dinner.
There’s nothing going wrong, life is fairly good. But sometimes, when the house is too quiet and I have too much time on my hands, I can get a case of the mopes. I never quite know what leads me down that route, it just happens sometimes. Tonight had the potential to go that way, all the ingredients were there.
The girl from work texted me tonight. Apologized for not being able to hang tonight and asked if we could “Plan for tomorrow? Like a real date and time?” I said sure, but I also said if it doesn’t happen, it’s ok, I get that the other people could drag her into things again. She was just really insistent that we’d hang tomorrow and I don’t know why, but that was like a salve on a burn I wasn’t aware I had.
I woke up this morning around 3:30am and couldn’t sleep. Rather than getting frustrated with the tossing and turning I googled Ed Gorman to see if a new novel in the Sam McCain series had been announced and learned that Mr. Gorman had passed back in October. Sad news.
So, this isn’t really the post I want to write, but I don’t know what that post is yet. So this is kind of a reminder post.
I’m a little bit of a weirdo. If you come over to my house to spend the night and I either give you the master bed or share it with you, I’ll first have to move an air purifier off the mattress. It looks like this. And there’s another one on the floor beside the bed, I sleep between them.
Obviously, if you’re watching this, you’re going to ask why. And I’ll tell you it’s because it drowns out the noise and makes the bed vibrate a little. You’ll nod your head, question your decision making paradigm that got you alone in the room with me, watching me move my air purifier and then promptly forget about it.
I didn’t lie to you. It does drown out the noise. But what noise? It’s not like I live in the middle of some violent inner city with gunshots and sirens at all hours of the night. Or next to a railroad track or airport. No. What I’ve got is tinnitus and sometimes it drives me bat-shit crazy. And the only chance I have of falling asleep when it’s really bad is to have the fans on each side of my head, going full blast to try to drown out the noise. Music and TV don’t work because my ADD brain starts focusing on the song or show. When it’s really bad, it even keeps me awake through an ambien.
The other noise it drowns out are my inner thoughts Putting my head against the fan will vibrate it and make so much noise that it’s hard for me to form coherent thoughts, so instead of laying awake all night playing “what if” and rehashing the day’s events, I generally fall asleep faster.
For all practical purposes, the Tween and I ended our friendship tonight. She asked if we could stay friends on FB so she could see my son grow. We talked about maybe hanging out with one another in appropriate group situations. It was mutual, I actually stayed strong when she started wavering. But that doesn’t make it suck any less. She was my best friend for a long time, we had a ton of adventures together and saw one another through a lot of bad times. I learned a ton from her and grew a lot as a result of that friendship.
It’s probably a good thing. It’s hard to have a successful romantic relationship while you’re also trying to maintain a strong opposite sex friendship. So things were probably going to change in the future for us anyway when either or both of us was in a strong relationship. And the tween crossed a line and hurt me bad last year. I just worked through that, and now it’s impacting our long term friendship. So I’m beyond mad again. And hurt again.
Life’s fluid. Things may change. But this is the reality I’m living with now.
My Dad goes to church with this guy’s mother (I think). And she let him borrow his books. He liked the first one a lot, we’ve been having a lot of discussion this year about PTSD and our experiences in combat, so he suggested that I read it.
There were multiple times when I had to stop reading and just sit back, amazed that he’d summarized it so well. He’s not the best author in the world, and sometimes, when he gets too “deep” or “emotional” it… doesn’t sit well with me. I can’t tell if the writing isn’t great, if we didn’t walk away with the same feelings, or if it’s so spot-on that it makes me uncomfortable. But for the most part, this is the best verbalization of the experiences I’ve read. Might not be accurate for every vet, but this guy and I looked at most things the same way.
If you know of a vet who is having problems describing things, or just want a better understanding yourself, give it a shot, or recommend it.
I’ve gone through the typical peaks and valleys of life over the last couple of years that everyone does. I never completely imploded or anything, I got to work on time, dressed and fed. I had fun. I took care of the kid and the house. But there were some scary times. Five years ago I had to scramble to re-finance the house because for some reason right after the divorce I just stopped paying the mortgage bills. There was a period years ago where my respiratory health decreased significantly because I decided I hated running and wasn’t going to do it.
I don’t know why, but last week it popped into my head that my self-care was significantly improved. My 401k is growing, I take my meds and vitamins and supplements everyday. I’ve biked to work everyday but one for the past month, I’m lifting/working out regularly, I’m doing cleaning/house-maintenance regularly (and not just the bare minimum), growing a garden, sleeping as well as I can (but not avoiding it!), etc. My soda intake is down. Alcohol has never been an issue, but I’m drinking even less than I normally do. Eating veggies regularly. Ordering salads. I’ve been to church every weekend except 2 this year, started volunteering as a greeter which is crazy for shy/introvert me and so on. Heck, I’m even flossing regularly.
I’m not sure what’s responsible for the change, and I assume it’s multiple things. Some if just that I’m probably hitting a peak. My job is stable and my son is getting older and more self reliant, which takes pressure off of me. Stopped paying alimony which is taking stress off. Taking the meds regularly probably makes it EASIER to take the meds regularly. One of them is knocking my anxiety way down, which makes things like sleep easier, although there’s still issues with it. More sleep is probably making other things easier. Working out is probably helping with sleep. Sleep is probably giving me energy to make it easier to work out. J. Dad and I have been talking and sharing books and movies and insights about our various combat and military experiences.
It’s funny. Dad’s probably a big piece of it. I bought these chrome US flags to put on my jeep. They’re not big, they’re made out of metal and they look pretty classy in my mind. I was talking to him about putting them on and he surprised me. He’s always looked at a vehicle as an investment. Not something he’s going to make money on, but something that he’s going to lose as little money as possible on. So he’s always maintained his vehicles well, bought things that will wear well, provide enjoyment as well as being practical, etc. He’s never, ever put a bumper or window sticker on a vehicle. So to hear him telling me that I should put the chrome flags on my jeep and screw anyone who didn’t like them was surprising. And things like that are happening all the time with him. It’s been refreshing to see him in a new light.
It’s weird. I never thought about life at this age much growing up. But when I did, I’m sure I never would’ve pictured this much self improvement going on.
People sometimes don’t get me. Just like anyone else, we all have our quirks. Conversely, because I’m the way I am, there’s things I don’t understand about other people. J is either hyper or hypoglycemic. Is there a difference? Is one fake? I should google it but that’s not the point. The point is, she’s just really aware of her energy levels and can crash in an instant. So since we’ve started dating, I’ve taken to buying little bags of snacks and having them in the car or my backpack for her when we’re traveling. I don’t get that though. I’ve gone for almost 2 days without eating because I’ve been so focused on solving a problem that I haven’t realized how much time has passed.
I just spent the last 45 minutes walking around the house with a mouth full of toothpaste and a toothbrush hanging out of my mouth. I was aware it was there on some level, I didn’t open my mouth and drool tooth paste all over the front of my shirt and I didn’t swallow it. But mid-brush I remembered something I’d kept forgetting to do, so I stopped brushing and went and did it. Then the A.D.D. kicked in and I did that, and that and this and that and bang, 45 minutes was gone and I realized I really needed to swallow. So I went and finished brushing my teeth.
On the upside, my mouth has never felt so clean.
I haven’t written in a bit, crazy couple of weeks with some drama and some travel. So just wanted to jot down a quick little story to a) stay in practice and b) get some stuff out of my head.
So. Interesting sermon series at church lately, about relationships. Called “The Fairy Tale and the Fall”. This past week the focus was on one word, “shame”. The pastor said that he believes most “stuff” that goes on in a relationship can be traced back to shame. Either someone is motivated by something they did, or some personal attribute they have/think they have/don’t have that they’re ashamed about, or by some event that happened where they were shamed.
He gave an example of trying out for the track team in the 7th grade. He was a chubby kid, and knew it was going to end badly, but did it anyways to be able to hang out with a girl he was crushing on. At that school, if you didn’t qualify for any of the events, they had a “fun run” that wasn’t timed, didn’t earn points and was kind of like a consolation prize. It was the equivalent of being cut from the team. When the coach was calling off the various people and their events, the pastor was just sitting there on the edge of his seat, and when they announced that he’d be running the fun run, he said everyone started laughing at him, including the crush. It was a traumatizing moment for him, and motivated his actions for years.
I was born in Thailand during/shortly after the Vietnam war and when the war was over and US contractors were forced to return home, my family first went to Arkansas so my father could finish college, then we returned to Iowa, which was home for him. Eventually we ended up in a small town there where I started school. Because it was a small town, I already knew a lot of my classmates, either from the neighborhood, or from church or because our parents were friends. If you’ve grown up in the same place, you know what that’s like. You don’t really notice differences back then, you’re just kids. But as a half-asian, my sisters and me WERE the minorities in this little white-bread town. We just didn’t know it.
Then we moved to Georgia while I was still in grade school, and started at the public schools there. My classes were slightly >black, then the white kids, then me, the lone asian. This time, everyone noticed. I don’t want to get into a big discussion on racism in America, now or then. I’m just sharing my experiences, and my take on it. But I think even at that young age, some of the black kids were already aware of racism, and had probably already taken some shit and weren’t happy about it. And when someone new popped up, a lone person, that wasn’t black and wasn’t white? That new person ended up on the totem pole lower than them and they were happy to pass on what they’d been taking for awhile.
I got my ass beat for no reason other than I was me and I was there. I got made fun of and messed with in the halls. A lot of it I was able to laugh off. A lot of it stunned me. I’d never experienced anything like this before. I’d never realized I was different. And it wasn’t consistent. Some kids were mean, some were totally nice. I remember having to ask my dad what “Chink” meant.
Partway through the time there, I developed a crush on one little girl. In my memories she’s always wearing pink overalls, a white turtleneck with some design printed on it and pigtails. And, being a kid with no understanding of crushes and feelings, of course I tugged those pigtails.
One day, for whatever reason, the teacher was out of the classroom. Those were the days of mimeograph machines. So she might’ve been out running copies of something. Or maybe she was smoking in the teacher’s lounge. Who knows. All I remember is that it happened from time to time, and sometimes when it did, the classroom quickly devolved into something out of Lord of the Flies. This was one of those days. I remember someone trying to pick on me, and me ignoring them. I used to like to make little star wars bases in my desk. And little spaceships out of rubber bands and pens or pencils, or if I was really lucky, binder clips. They were almost perfect. So I think to ignore it I just started focusing on my spaceship and I got out of my seat and squatted on the floor next to the opening under the seat where school books went. Then out of nowhere a banana hit me. And someone screamed “Dance monkey boy!” In seconds it seemed like everyone was chanting that, and some of the kids were hopping from one foot to the other, scratching their armpits and making the “ooh-oooh” monkey sound. And everyone was laughing, including the crush.
My parents tried to help, but they didn’t really understand what was going on. My dad grew up going to a one-room school house. There wasn’t racism there. He’d seen it in the Navy as an adult, but that was different. That wasn’t school bullying. When he was growing up, if something got big enough, two guys went out to the playground and fought it out. He never had some black kid he’d never talked to come up and punch him on the back of the head while he was unchaining his bike, just because. Or had a group of kids push him down in the bathroom and kick him while he laid there in the fetal position. And how do you explain it to your parents? My dad didn’t talk about things like fear, he was old-school. I didn’t want to disappoint him.
So much for a short story.
Anyways. A lot of other stuff happened in my youth to reinforce my feelings. But that was probably the start of some of my “shame”. That was the first time I felt different, ugly, mockable. That was the first time I noticed the difference between me and the blonde haired, blue-eyed hearth throbs. Nowadays, intellectually, I understand that there’s someone for everyone, that we all have different tastes and different things we find attractive. That there’s someone out there who would find me handsome. But emotionally? It’s still hard to believe. And yeah, the preacher-man was right. That shame impacts every relationship I’ve ever had.
J and I are both pretty quiet, dry people, she a little more-so than I. We both open up with people we know and trust, but we can be comfortably quiet as well. Not only are we internal, self-contained people, but she’s also soft spoken which actually worries me a little bit. After so many years shooting big guns, riding in loud military vehicles for hours on end, and being exposed to numerous explosions (all largely with inadequate ear protection), my hearing is starting to go. She’s got a softer voice which also falls perfectly in that range where I’m starting to go deaf and so there’s times when her voice blends in with background noise perfectly. I hate having to ask her to repeat herself. Not, surprising enough, out of vanity but because I don’t want to annoy her or ever make her think that she’s not important or that I’m not hanging on her every word.
She’s opened up around me a lot this past month, and we’ve been pushing the boundaries, finding out what’s safe to joke about and tease the other about. We’re both sarcastic and we’ve been zinging one another and chuckling.
I don’t know, but for some reason “Waterfalls” by TLC has been stuck in my head for the last couple of months. I really disliked the song when it first came out but for some reason I can’t stop listening to it now. So we were hanging out today and I kept coming back to it, singing it under my breath. At some point she was making fun of my lack of masculinity and a few minutes later I started singing it again, and then we both giggled a little when I looked at her and said “Huh. That’s probably not helping with the whole masculinity thing, huh?” When we got back to the car I plugged my phone into stereo and we started listening to it and talking about it. She mentioned Beyonce and Destiny’s Child and I told her the joke:
It was stupid and corny. And we both knew it. But for the first time since we started dating we cracked up hard. One of those gasping for breath and laughing so hard, you can’t make a sound anymore, you just kind of wheeze a little and laugh silently kind of laughs. And of course, because it’s so stupid, every time we looked at one another we started cracking up again.
I love those kinds of moments.