It Was Not Fake, Though

At my job, I have the cool responsibility of booking local bands and musicians to play on the weekends. We have a lot of different and talented musicians play, from solo guitarists who play the local bar circuits, to a band of retired musicians that play together for fun, to students from the local school for performing arts. Sometimes I seek these performers out, and sometimes they find me first.

Today I got a call from a musician who wanted to play this coming weekend. I asked him, as I typically do, if he had a website or any music samples he could send over so we could get to know his music.

He said, “Oh, no. I do have e-mail, I just got it, but I don’t have a fancy website or anything. I can burn a cd for you.”

I said, “Sure, that’s fine. I can e-mail you the application form, and we would be happy to listen to your cd.”

He said, “My e-mail is for real, though!”

“Okay…” I mean, I believed him. I never really doubted him at any point in time.

He said, “It’s spelled f-o-r-r-e-a-l-t-h-o-e, at [e-mail provider] dot net.”

“…For real th-” I said, “Oh! I get it.” He was silent.

He had a hard time describing his music to me when I asked. The main talking points I gleaned from the long and winding description were:

  • 5 piece band
  • style: a mixture of hip hop, r&b, and reggae
  • loud drums
  • confetti

He hesitated to explain the purpose of the confetti, saying that he wanted it to be a surprise. I told him thank you, but we’re not really big on surprises around here. Part of me really wants to watch this confetti-laden train wreck, though. Maybe I will let him play at my house. Let me know if you want to come over.

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To Lose Is To Win; To Win Is To Lose; Do-Bee-Do-Bee-Doo

Oh. Depression, hi.

You must have missed me to go to all that effort to sneak in and rearrange everything I’ve been working so hard to put in place. I think you flat out hid my motivation because it was right in front of me for the past several months, and now there’s just an empty space where it used to be. I can’t get up from the floor, the Feng Shui is all off in here. My energy is on the wrong side of the room and out of reach, my emotions are upside down on the ceiling, and my sense of purpose is slowly burning in the fireplace. It’s the middle of Texas summer, why the fuck do you need to build a fire anyway?

Ah right, because you’re a bastard who draws your energy from causing suffering. You make things more complicated than they need to be because that is your driving force. Fine. Today you win. I stayed home because of you; neglected my responsibilities and postponed my obligations because you ambushed me and succeeded in incapacitating me.

You won the battle, but I still have the upper hand in this war. I have music to play that is more powerful than you are. I have friends and a husband who care about me deeply. I have dogs who are glued to my side whether I’m happy or sad or mad. I have chemicals running around fighting for me. I have a home that is safe. Most importantly, I have writing. I’m telling everyone what you are doing to me when all you want is for me to silently relent.

That’s not my style. You had your day. Tomorrow is mine.

And put the room back the way you fucking found it.

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A Conversation With a Member of the Public

For the last 10 years of my professional life, human interaction was mostly confined to emotional pet owners, and there is never a dull moment with emotional pet owners. Now at my new job, I work with the public. Human interaction with the public is a whole new category of never-a-dull-moment.  I often try to see the world through Leslie Knope’s eyes when she said of the public, “These people are members of the community who care about where they live. So what I hear when I’m being yelled at is people caring loudly at me.”

I work at a farmers market, and part of my job is to talk to potential vendors and either approve them to be a part of the market or decline them and crush their dreams. You make organic and locally sourced artisan bread? Sure, welcome to the market! You’re a local farmer to wants to sell produce that you’ve grown by hand that very week? We will make all the room you need. You want to perform wedding ceremonies for veterans and their mail order brides? I don’t know what that’s all about but you can take it somewhere else. I love meeting passionate, talented people and work with them on a daily basis.

Today I spoke with an artist, about 6’4,  seven, maybe eight pounds, who makes art out of recycled glass. Very cool stuff and a very talented guy. I spoke with him about preparing to become a vendor and about scheduling his market days. He asked several practical questions such as, “How do I know where to set up my booth?” and, “How and when do I make my rent payment?” Then he asked, “Because it is an outdoor market, do I need to bring a canopy tent for shade?”

I told him that for the majority of the day the sun only hits the booths along the north end of the market area. I recommended requesting a booth space along the south end if he was concerned about the sun.

He nodded and said, “How old are you?”

My face must have betrayed the “What the fuck?” I said in my head because he said, “Oh I’m sorry, did I offend you?”

I said, “You didn’t offend me, I just don’t know what that has to do with the information I’m giving you.”

He said, “I’m just wondering if you’re old enough to know that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Never ever in the north and south.”

I said, “Yes, I understand that, I’m just saying that there is shade on the-”

He cut me off and said, “Do you really understand? I ask because I need to know that you really understand.”

I said,”I do indeed understand where the sun rises and sets in the sky.”

He said, “Well, that may be true, but I am an expert on the sun. I wake up every morning at 5:30 and I pray facing the east. The east. Where the sun rises. I always know where the east is. Did you know that you can use the sun to get directions? Like when you get lost in the wilderness and you don’t have any fancy GPS or cell phone technology. You can look at the sun and find your way home.

I said, “…Okay! So if you’re on the north end of the shed-”

He cut me off again. He said, “I’ve been to a lot of festivals in my day. I grew up in the sixties. You know, free love?”  I feel like now is a good time to mention that his teenage daughter was standing directly behind him for this entire conversation, giggling.

“How old are you?” he repeated.

I said, ” I am 34 years old. Can I put you on the schedule for tonight’s market?” I was both desperate for this conversation to end, and desperate for him to say more things.

He said, “Oh you’re 34, huh? You’re almost old enough to do it for me!” (whatever the hell that meant)(no speculations, please). Then he started talking about festivals again when it came back around to, “The sun does not set in the north!”

He made a point that I could not logically argue with, so I said, “Yes, you should probably bring a tent.”

He decided he would, indeed, start at the market that evening, so I told him to find my coworker Andy when he arrived.

He said, “Cool, cool. Thank you, dear. What’s his name again? George?”

I said, “That’s right, his name is Andy, and he will be at the information booth to let you know where to set up.”

He stared in silence for a moment before saying, “Is Andy a black dude or white boy?” In reality, Andy is Asian but I declined to answer this man’s question. I said go to the information booth and ask for Andy. He thanked me for the information and went on his way.

The owner of the farmers market, whom we see very often, happened to be in the other room while this conversation took place. As I passed by the office where she sat, she said, “Are you sure you fully understand where the sun is?”

I laughed and said, “I dare you to ask him about his time in the wilderness when you see him at the market.”

Her response was, “I’m not doing any of that,” and I went back to work.

My conversation with this man made me completely forget that I was previously having a bad day (that started with my cat peeing in my work bag and went downhill from there.) I can always count on a random member of the public to throw me off my game without even trying. That’s one of the reasons that I love my job.

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Aspartame Causes Selective Hearing

The hardest bad habit I ever kicked was my 6 Diet Cokes a day one. This was about 4 years ago, and it took about 3 months. I learned what aspartame does to my body and I didn’t want any part of it anymore. The first time I quit I learned that I am emotionally attached to diet sodas. Growing up diabetic, where every last crumb of food is portioned and counted, diet soda was the one thing I could have as much as I wanted of. So my one free range treat was hurting me.

Diet sodas betrayed me in a big way.

But, like every woman who falls for the bad boy (or girl) who treats them like dirt and they go right back to them, I started drinking diet sodas again this year. Then I quit again. Then I went crawling back to let it break my heart all over again.

Last week, I went to my first appointment with a new diabetes doctor. My diabetes educator and I were going over my normal meal plans and habits and favorite foods. I told her I like sweets, so she asked if I like diet soda or sugar free pudding cups. I told her that I gave up aspartame. She suggested foods sweetened with Splenda. I said I gave up all artificial sweeteners. She said, “Okay, that’s fine. I just want you to know that it’s okay with me if you have that stuff.”

At the time I thought, “Gah, another medical professional recommending harmful substances that are legal but shouldn’t be!” and congratulated myself on remaining strong and undeterred. The next day at work I was super busy and a little stressed, and I thought, “I would love a Diet Dr Pepper right now.” So I had one. It would be my one-time treat to get through a stressful day.

The next day was finally Friday, and I wanted another Diet Dr Pepper to celebrate! So I bought one from work and drank it. I hadn’t drank them daily in years, I could afford to cheat a little.

Saturday is my regular weekly cheat day, so of course I had a large cherry Diet Dr Pepper from Sonic (and also a donut). It was delicious and totally worth the cheat.

(Can you see where this is going?)

On Sunday I had a Diet Cherry Dr Pepper because it was still the weekend, and close enough to Saturday cheat day.

Sunday night I couldn’t sleep.

On Monday I drank another one, not because I wanted to cheat, but because my diabetes educator said it was okay. She practically tried to talk me out of avoiding them, right? Why did I ever give them up in the first place?! Why don’t I have 3!

I gulped the final swallow of the 20oz bottle, and then I saw my pile of Diet Dr Pepper plastic bottles all lined up, as if to perform an intervention. There were more empty bottles from the past 5 days than I have seen in the past 2 months combined.

I had thrown myself at the “bad boy” (read: neurotoxin) who wants nothing more than to break my heart (read: attach itself to my DNA and become formaldehyde). I heard someone tell me it was okay, which is what I want to hear more than anything else, other than “Your pancreas will start working again if you just take this pill one time…and it’s $15.” I was so happy to hear that diet sodas were okay that I was willing to believe that my free range treat hadn’t betrayed me after all. But it was a beautiful lie.

I mean sure, soda is not heroin or crack. And it’s not like I realized that the TWILIGHT saga is actually very deep and profound and meaningful to my life. It’s not even like I decided to give up vegetables in favor of M&Ms. There are much more harmful things to become addicted to. But 4 years ago, I worked so hard for those three months that I spent cutting the cord from my unhealthy habit, and it meant something to me to break myself of it. Those three months I had headaches, I cried a lot, I couldn’t sleep, I fought cravings, I took vitamins to support my nervous system until one day I woke up and didn’t need it anymore. Why would I go through all of that if it wasn’t important?

So as of today I am going back to one diet soda every week on Saturdays. I can get back on the wagon, I still believe that it is harmful to my body. And my body has a higher purpose.

If I’m having a bad day and my choices are: drink a fuckin diet soda or strangle the person nearest to me, I’m going to drink the fuckin diet soda. I can still do that from the side of the wagon without getting off.

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Dwight Schrute Works in My Office

Work is a great place to meet many different kinds of people you might not have met otherwise. In my case work situations have often been the beginning of life long friendships. Of course there are also those that have made my work life a living hell, those that have left me with great stories, and still others that provided more entertainment (read: writing material) than I could ever ask for.

I am no longer in the veterinary game. That career went from deeply rewarding and financially stable to life-absorbing and self-destructive stress inducing. So thanks to a good friend who knows who she is, I now have a new job/career. I get to be in an office. I have a desk and a window. I have weekends off. No one dies as part of my normal workday anymore. My new job has taught me that life doesn’t have to be a knock down drag out fight to survive every day.

The new job is a fairly small operation, 7 coworkers total. It’s a more positive environment than I’ve ever worked in before, which is great! I feel like every work place has someone who is a wild card, and mine is no different. I have a coworker, whom I will call Dwight Schrute, who is consistently entertaining without trying to be. I started keeping an informal daily record of his odd behaviors for my own amusement.

“Dwight is wearing his shiny pants today.”  These pants are silver and metallic. His normal work uniform is a black Polo shirt and khaki pants. I have no idea how this disco ball with pockets made it into the rotation.

“Dwight reported me to my boss for laughing while at work.” He did this on three separate occasions. Work is very serious business. No one is paying us to laugh and enjoy our jobs!

“Dwight called a meeting to go over protocols for how to handle a bomb threat, an aggressive individual, and a shooting. His stated reason for bringing this up today was that on September 11, 2001, some middle eastern individuals hijacked some airplanes, and 3 days ago a middle eastern individual was on our property and was wearing a backpack. He also informed us that the ideal place for someone to hide a bomb is in a toilet. How is this information supposed to help us?”

“Dwight is wearing a pink shirt today.” I cannot figure out the pattern.

“Dwight pronounces eucalyptus ‘eh-cloop-yes.’ I plan to spend the rest of the day trying to get him to say this word as many times as possible.” Self explanatory.

“Heard Dwight discussing the band Nickelback with [coworker I’ll call Jim]. He loves them. That’s it, we probably have absolutely nothing in common.” Later this same day, I heard Jim and Dwight chatting and giggling for over an hour. (I did not report him for appearing to have fun on the job.) At one point Jim ran into my office and asked me in an urgent tone, “How old is Louis Farrakhan?” In the other room Dwight laughed like a schoolgirl who just dared her friend to ask the teacher a dumb question. It was so bizarre and hilarious that I considered checking to see if there was a gas leak in the building.

As a lover of the absurd, this list often motivates me to get through the day. Even in this job that I love, work is still work, and anything that helps the day go by is always welcome. If I ever write fiction again, my stories will have very rich characters. Actually, I am so grateful that I have a job that I do well and still have energy left over at the end of the day to do things that make me happy. If you’re reading this, you can be grateful too!

Oh, and if you’re wondering, Louis Farrakhan is 82.

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Pancreas-Kicked into a Corner

One of my doctors came into the employee locker room at the end of today and asked me, “Are you okay?”

I said, “Yeah, why?”

She said, “Well, you’re kinda curled up on the floor in a corner all by yourself.”

I considered that point of view and realized that I probably looked like I was having a really bad day. “My blood sugar is low. The floor seemed like a good idea a few minutes ago when there was less glucose flowing in my brain. I’m feeling better, I’m just going to sit for a minute to make sure I don’t need to eat anything else.”

“Does anyone know you’re in here?” she asked.

“You do.”

“Wonderful. I’m going to go tell someone you’re here before I go.”

“I really am ok. I do this a lot,” I said. I forgot to eat an afternoon snack, so I ended up on the floor of a room almost no one goes in. Who hasn’t done that? Eventually I got up off the floor and drove home, where I almost immediately fell asleep before I remembered that I hadn’t posted anything today yet. This was the most exciting thing that happened all day long. Unless you think drawing blood and cleaning poop is exciting. I live a life of glamour.

my view from my hypoglycemic corner of the floor in the locker room

my view from my hypoglycemic corner of the floor in the locker room

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Game On

If you’ve ever played a board game with me, you know that I am a very competitive person who doesn’t lose gracefully. Just ask my husband who refuses to play Jenga with me anymore.

I am also very competitive with my brother. Who isn’t competitive with their siblings? My brother is ten years older than I am so as a kid I had a lot of work to do in order to keep up. If he casually mentioned a band he liked, I had to memorize every song in case the band came up in conversation again. He was an Olympic trial level swimmer, so I had to join a swim team and spend three hours a day pretending I was also Olympic bound (I did this for about 10 years and never made higher than B team). I learned to speak passable French, he learned to speak fluent Spanish and spent a month in Spain, and I cried (because he won that one).

So when my incredibly intelligent, articulate, insightful brother started a new blog a few days ago with the goal of updating every day for a year, I looked at my neglected blog and decided that I did not want to be outdone. I have given myself the goal of posting on this blog every day for the month of February (and a little of March since February already started without a new post). Yes I am competitive, but I don’t want to set myself up for failure.

I don’t yet know what I will be writing about each day. I figure that writing anything consistently will be good for my soul (and my chances to win…). I do know that I will take and post a photo every day and write something that relates to that picture. Today’s photo was taken a few days ago, but it relates well to this post.

Here’s to a month of daily writing! See you again soon.

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the Jenga tower of power, back when my husband would still play with me

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Today I Became the Woman You Avoid in Public

I left the house today for the first time after a week of being sick. This sounds like a triumph, but wait, it gets better. Better? I mean slightly more gross.

I was the woman who left the house with unwashed hair and the sweatshirt she slept in. Which was also covered in dog hair. And there may or may not have been dried soup on one of her pant legs (which was slightly too short for the legs wearing them).

Natural light was dazzling and a bit frightening, and the woman I became regarded human interaction as a curious and novel event. She smiled a little too long at the high school kid at the store register, thinking of questions to ask him. His facial expression and lack of eye contact communicated that he wished she would leave.

This woman walked out of the store (where she bought cat food and Diet Dr Pepper). A homeless man regarded her for a second then gave her a high five. She bought him a coffee and he wished her a merry Christmas.

She got into her car to marvel at all she had accomplished, but then regarded her own appearance (something she probably should have done before leaving the house). In addition to the soup stain and dog hair, the woman noted some dried orange juice on her sleeve and three lash-length black hairs sprouting from her chin. She is the poster child for people emerging from underneath a rock, where they had been living for several years.

That woman is me. I am that woman. I see you glancing discreetly when I pass you, and I don’t blame you for staring. You’ll probably go home and write a blog post about me.

I would.

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Spare Us the Cutter

I want to start out by saying that this post, while it might be uncomfortable, is not a cry for help. I do not need you to call the authorities, or my parents, or a paddy wagon. I do not need crisis hotline numbers, but if you do, I am more than happy to share them. I just want to start a conversation. I want to talk about self harm/self mutilation/cutting. Actually, I don’t want to talk about it, nobody does, which is why I’m going to do it anyway.

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The Unstable Self

I didn’t enjoy writing this one. At first I thought I just needed a break from writing fiction, and maybe I do. Maybe fiction isn’t what I need right now. But this writing prompt is obviously meant to elicit a very serious and intense scene, and my brain was rebelling against that, big time. I still followed the rules, but unfortunately, the story that follows is as serious as I could make myself be.

The Unstable Self: Write a story that alternates between the I and the he or she (or the name of the narrator), making sure you don’t confuse the reader with the switches. You might also consider other ways of indicating instability – voices (in italics), commands, or out-of-body perspectives. Why would this be useful or necessary? Imagine a situation where a character is under such stress that he cannot think straight – or perhaps she’s madly in love and doesn’t care if she thinks in standard-issue thoughts.

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