Desperation

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Let it go

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

This weekend, something that I wanted to work out didn’t work out, leaving me sad and disappointed. Then my bike seat broke. Then I tried to fix my bathtub drain, but realized I don’t have the right tools. Then several people told me, in various ways, that a dream that I’ve been working toward is a bad idea. Then, after dealing with shoddy, unreliable internet service for over a week, I came home yesterday afternoon to find that my actual electricity was gone.

Must be the wind, I thought, as I dialed Xcel to report the outage. I followed the prompts on the automated service, and then took Foxy on her lunchtime walk.

When I arrived back at the house, I got a phone call from someone in the Xcel customer support department. He asked me some questions about the meter (“It should be on the south side of the house”), so I found myself prowling through bushes, being poked in the eye by branches, and reading the unit number to the man on the phone – only for him to tell me that that’s the gas meter, and we need the electric meter.

That’s when I remembered I was on the north side of the house, and also, a moron.

So I headed around SOUTH into the backyard, crawled on a ledge, and had to touch dirty, rusty things, relaying meter readings to the man on the line, just to have him tell me that none of that helped him, so he would send a technician out – except, wait a second. What’s this?

He put me on hold while he took a look at my account, and eventually a new voice – a woman, probably Bad News Special Forces or something – came back on the line. Apparently, a neighbor had not paid her electric bill in quite some time, so they had disconnected her service – at least, what they thought was her service. Turns out they turned off mine instead.

Whoops.

Oh, and they wouldn’t be able to send someone to turn it back on until tomorrow.

And all of a sudden, it was just too much. Something snapped. This is when, to use a technical term, I lost my shit.

I have worked in customer service before, and still do, to a certain extent – which is why I couldn’t believe I was finding myself uttering words like “infuriating” and “unacceptable” and “immediately” and “you people” and “enraged” and “now – NOW.” My chest was tight but my tongue was loose. I was on an absolute rampage.

I spent the night at Becca and Mike’s, where Foxy whined non-stop in the darkness because that big yellow dog Grizz is RIGHT THROUGH THAT WALL. RIGHT THERE. HE’S THERE. I got a grand total of 2 hours sleep, and spent all day today feeling downright witless.

So now I’m home and the power is back on and I’m typing all of this out, and laughing because it’s so ridiculous. I’ve been sulking about things really not worth sulking about – especially since furrowing my eyebrows is the last thing I need to do more of, seeing as how that look is basically already my natural resting face.

The older I get, the more I realize my strong need for justice – which is unfortunate, since it’s also the more I realize that life just isn’t fair. Sometimes your neighbor doesn’t pay her bills, and you are the one inconvenienced. Sometimes you take good care of your things, and they break anyway. Sometimes someone else makes a decision, and your heart winds up paying a price.

We can try to legislate fairness into our lives, but it just isn’t going to happen.

I could be a sulker. I could resent people and situations and reality itself. I could shake my fist at heaven and tell everything to go to hell.

But to borrow an idea from Proverbs, I’d rather be clothed in strength and dignity, and laugh at the days to come – or you know, Frozen, and let it go.

Twitchy

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

I am the girl who balances her checkbook. Makes her bed every day. Drives the speed limit. Plans in advance. Goes to bed at a decent hour. Projects ahead so the future will never take her by surprise. Always has a responsible amount of gas in the tank of her car.

This is what’s known as “foreshadowing.”

On Monday, while driving west from Kansas City to Denver after being gone for 10 days, Foxy riding shotgun and both of us desperate to get home to the Shotgun, my mind anywhere but present, I ran out of gas. Subaruthless just sputtered and gave up, right there on I-70.

Subaruthless

Western Kansas was unseasonably warm that day, inching toward 80 degrees. And when the air conditioner died, so did the manic vim, vigor, and verve I’d been running on for a week and a half. I was spent.

My friends call me “the most extroverted introvert” they know, but for whatever amount of social prowess I might possess, the truth is that people, noise, and chaos drain me of my very lifeblood – and right there on the shoulder of the interstate, I realized that the past 10 days had been too much. They’d been good, really good – but they’d been too much.

When I finally arrived back in Denver and stumbled through the door of my house, dragging suitcases, a dog crate, an ice chest, three hardback books, two laptops, and one very squirrely puppy, I could have kissed the hardwood floor. But there’s no rest for the weary; I had errands to run, laundry to run, a dog to run, and a full day of work waiting for me the next day.

Disorganization makes me twitchy, like a spider. And a lot of areas of my life feel disorganized right now, the least of which is the explosion of detritus all over my house or the pile of receipts or the significant amount of sleep debt. Last night, I came home from work and, rather than taking care of the things that needed doing, opted to just twitch for a while instead – which means that today, my house is still a disaster, my calendar is sneaking up on me, I forgot to pack a lunch, and I’m wearing yoga pants at work (although… okay, yoga pants at work are not unusual).

I wish that life was like a gas tank, and that through a simple act of fuel in, our wheels would be guaranteed to keep moving.

Actually, I think that’s just called sleep.

I hope to emerge in a few days. Until then, my earplugs are in and I’m laser beam focused on getting my life back in order. If you know any happy news, please share it – I could use a little oomph in my day.

Food, glorious food

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

In the midst of this crazy season, I am trying hard to make healthy choices. I’m regularly meeting with my counselor, and she’s shepherding me through some precarious territory. I’m facing a lot of the ugly stuff head on, and praying – really praying – for the first time in years. I’m staying as active as I can, and sleeping as much as I can, and spending as much time with life-giving people as I can.

But my diet? It’s deplorable.

I mean, I’m good at breakfast – always have been. An egg on toast, a little bit of yogurt, two cups of coffee. And I always pack a lunch, so I don’t veer too far off course during the day. But dinner?

I’m so bad at dinner. Like, a-bag-of-croutons-and-a-glass-of-wine bad. Or, popcorn-and-a-popsicle bad. Or, nothing-bad. Given the amount of times my dinner is “nothing,” I should be Kiera Knightley-skinny. But I’m not – the Lord hath made my frame substantial – so yay, I’m just starving.

Sometimes I sit around dreaming about real dinners – meals that would actually taste like meals, and not just… Wheat Thins. I fantasize about what I want. But do I decide to fix myself these imaginary dream meals? Of course not.

I’m not sure why I just can’t get it together to make a proper dinner – it probably has to do with a lack of time, a lack of energy to plan, not wanting to stock my fridge when I’m out of town so often, and just living alone. Knowing how many of you cook on a regular basis – and then post gorgeous pictures of your food – it’s embarrassing to admit how bad I am at this. I’m the anti-ultimate woman.

But there HAVE to be options, right? Meals that EVEN I could make, without an abundance of time and/or effort?

If you have ideas for dinners that
a) are quick
b) are satisfying
c) are healthy
d) are simple to prepare and/or can be made in larger quantities and then eaten throughout the week…

… then please. I’m begging you. Share them. I’m so hungry.

Just west of Crazy

Friday, August 9th, 2013

I walked into Wal-Mart at 11:50pm with a mission to buy 4 things. The Health & Beauty section was first: Ibuprofen and a bar of soap. Then, I found an employee. “Excuse me, where are your ant traps?” He walked me to the Garden section and motioned to a shelf full of pest sprays.

“Well, I’m not really looking for sprays. I want actual traps – those little plastic things full of poison that you put on your kitchen counter.”

He stared at me blankly, and I stared right back. Clearly, Wal-Mart is not where either of us preferred to be at nearly midnight on a Thursday.

“Sorry – we don’t carry those,” he said. Obviously, this was an unacceptable answer since we were in WAL-MART, an orgy of consumerism, and if you are looking for anything (especially something poisonous), Wal-Mart is the place to go. The look on my face must have given away my incredulousness, because he quickly followed up with, “I mean, this is the smallest Wal-Mart in the state.”

Sir, we are in Denver, Colorado. This is NOT the smallest Wal-Mart in the state.

But my fatigue got the best of me, and I gave in. “That’s okay,” I sighed. “Can you point me toward the hand soap?”

I walked all the way across the store to the back corner of the grocery section, and found the aisle with the dish soap and laundry detergent. I walked up and down, looking high and low, but couldn’t find hand soap. However, I did find mousetraps, which led to fly paper, which led to ANT TRAPS. Victory!

I snatched up what I needed, and then found another employee. “Hi. Where’s the hand soap?”

“Oh, that’s in Health & Beauty.”

Oh really.

I walked all the way back across the store, right past the Ibuprofen and bars of soap I had perused just moments earlier, and grabbed a container of blue liquid Dial.

All 4 items on my list were accounted for, so I headed to the register… the one register. 30-some registers in a row, and only one open. I was twelfth in line at Wal-Mart on a Thursday at midnight because apparently, frugality never sleeps.

These days, I am burning the candle at all ends – work and travel and morning and night and friends and family and email and money and laundry and exercise and who needs sleep? Every hour is full, including midnight at Wal-Mart. As I type, I’m at the airport again – this time, flying into a weekend which will require an amount of emotional muscle that I’m just not sure I can manage right now. But I will anyway.

Knowing some of this, my manager/friend Sarah looked at me the other day and said, “I’m afraid you’re going to burn out.” I looked back at her, surely with eyebrows raised and a maniacal grin, and said, “Oh no, I’m fine. I’m fine! HAHAHA!” And then my eyeball twitched.

When the Wal-Mart cashier finally checked me out and I’d swiped my debit card for $15.18, I walked toward the exit only to find the automatic doors turned off. “PLEASE USE OTHER DOORS” the sign said, pointing toward the far end of the store. Seeing my car just beyond the glass, I put my fingers in between the glass gates and pried them open, setting off an alarm. And I walked out into the night.

Aloneness

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

I’ve been in the Shotgun for two and a half weeks, and things are coming together. I have all of my furniture, and as of Sunday, a washer and dryer. A few pictures are hung on the walls. I painted the hallway, but gave up halfway through painting the bathroom because the ceilings are too high and the floor space is too small for a ladder; I think I’ll need to hire a professional to finish the job. My curtains are up, and I’ve jerry-rigged a temporary solution for the skylight over my bed (a towel draped over two tension rods). I’m learning the oddities of the space, and despite the quirks, it’s starting to feel like home.

But the transition has been rough for Toad.

This little dog has been through more than her fair share of change in the last few years. We just passed the 2-year anniversary of her amputation, which is right around the time she came to live with me. In less than two years, she’s been through three moves, lost her dog companion when Becca got married and took Gabe with her, grew out all of her fur just to have it shaved off, and has tripped and scraped her nose more times than I can count. Through it all, she just keeps hopping along.

But my new next-door neighbor (with whom I share a wall) recently told me that when I’m not home, Toad barks. This is surprising to me, since Toad never barks when I’m around – she’s a silent, sleepy mutt who, for hours at a time, barely makes her presence known. But it appears that she has an alter ego, and as soon as I’m out the door, starts barking – and she doesn’t stop.

Last night I came home from guitar class, and had to park on the street a few houses down. As I walked toward my front door, I started to hear it – a desperate, throaty cry. “That’s not Toad,” I told myself. It couldn’t be her. But as I got closer, I knew it: my dog was barking incessantly, to the point of losing her voice, and she’d been doing this for the past 2 hours straight.

After an apology text to my neighbor, I sunk onto my bed feeling exasperated. Doesn’t this dog know that I take good care of her? Doesn’t she know that I always feed her, always make sure she has what she needs when she needs it? Doesn’t she trust that I’m never going to leave her alone, that I’m always going to come back for her?

She doesn’t believe it, so she cries. And I am no different.

How often do I buy into the lie that I’m all alone and that no one is going to take care of me? How often do I overlook the ways I have been provided for? How often do I draw conclusions based only on what I can see? How often do I assume the worst?

I’ve lived alone before, but something about being the only signature on the deed to this house has exposed my “aloneness” in a new way. Have you ever tried to hang a picture on a wall without someone standing back, telling you whether to move it higher or lower? Or deciding to change the placement of the rugs after the furniture has been set without someone else to lift the corner of the sofa? Not to mention being the only person earning money for the bank account to pay for it all. If I think about it for too long, I start to feel a lot like my little dog: frantic and afraid.

But here’s the good news: when you’re alone and you know it, you’re so much more aware of the ways in which you’re taken care of.

If I didn’t feel the full weight of my aloneness, would I feel the value of a Home Depot gift card from Luke and Maggie? Would I understand the thoughtfulness of flowers from Allie on my doorstep? Would I fully appreciate Steve coming over to drill things into the walls? Would I know the significance of Graham taking his entire Sunday afternoon to help me move a washer/dryer? Would I acknowledge the Denver map from Hitoshi, the rosemary plant from Isreal, or the bottle of wine from Erica as so meaningful? Would I read all of the well-wishing words with as much gratitude? Would I wake up each morning well aware that I’m living in a home that I didn’t even know to ask for or expect?

In the morning, I’m leaving for a 36-hour work trip, and I have an Anna-Hannah-Becca tag-team to make sure that Toad is never left home alone to bark. I don’t know what I’m going to do about this problem long-term. But despite the aloneness I am so tempted to feel, this little stressor of a dog is being provided for and taken care of – and so am I.

Hanging

Friday, April 12th, 2013

Not to be dramatic, but my goal of having zero nervous breakdowns in 2013 is hanging in the balance.

Fine, that was dramatic.

They say the only constant is change – and I hate them for it – but it’s proven true in my life time and time again. In the past few weeks, I’ve experienced changes at work, changes in relationships, changes in my bank account, changes to my reality. I’m about to be a bridesmaid for the 13th time, our family changing yet again – this time the addition of another brother-in-law. I’m in the process of purging my closet and household items, preparing for yet another move. I’m behind on all forms of personal communication, and the thought of catching up is exhausting. I just got a haircut that surprises me every time I look in the mirror (not in a good way). All the while, I’m working my tail-end off at work, coming home so mentally drained that all I want to do is turn off my phone and lean my forehead to the doorframe.

Life is going fast, and I can’t keep up. I’m trying to do everything well, which leaves me doing nothing well – and man, I love to hit the mark.

All this to say, thank you for being here, no matter how much or how little I have to offer. Right now, it feels like very little. But the opportunity to share a little sliver of my life and have it received for whatever it is (currently Crazy-Town) helps me breathe just a little bit easier.

Hanging in there, cat on a tree branch,
Annie

Indicative of things to come

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

One time, when I was 5, we lived next door to a girl my age.  Her grandparents gave her a Popple.  I wanted it so badly that I asserted my Alpha Girl status, and she gave it to me.

A few days later when her grandparents found out she gave it away, they sent her to our house to reclaim it.  As she was carrying it home, I ran down the hallway and, with a flying leap, tackled her to the ground.

My family brings up this story frequently.

Ripping my heart out

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

I cannot look at the Nashville Humane Society website.

It breaks my heart into a million little pieces.

I want to save every dog without a home.

Or at least this one.

annie_1_editlarge

Her name is Annie, too.

Anyone who beats or abandons a pet should be put in jail.

But instead, it’s the dogs that wind up in cages.

I want to save them all.

Tangled

Monday, April 20th, 2009

Back in March, I went to Kansas to sort through my childhood things and help my parents get their house ready to sell.  While I was there, I found an old jewelry box full of various plastic beaded bracelets, butterfly rings, earrings with no mates, and many, many necklaces whose thin gold chains were knotted and tangled into a solid mass.

No matter how hard I tried, I could not get those knots untangled.  There was no way to decipher where the problem began, and with every link that I would tug, the knot would get tighter.  The mess would get worse.

Sometimes, I feel like those gold chains.

Sometimes, I feel like such a complicated jumble, there could never be hope for a solution.  I cannot see where certain issues end, and where others begin.  I am confused by my emotions, by my tendencies – and have no more understanding of myself than I do the infinite galaxies.

Last night in church, I found myself praying, “God, forgive me for… just… all that I am.”  I didn’t even know where to begin, because I cannot pinpoint a beginning.  All that I know is that a lot of the time, I’m a tangled, muddled mess – and I don’t know why.

Will it ever be resolved?  Will I ever be resolved?

But then, I felt God press on my heart: “I know what you’re made of, and it is good.”

I see the mess.  He sees the gold.

I see the knot.  He sees a straight line.

I see the confusion.  He sees the solution.

One day, the chains will fall loose.  Everything will make sense.  Everything will be made right.  I believe it.

Because if I can be victorious in untangling a mass of gold necklaces using olive oil and a needle, then surely the God of the universe has a creative solution for the complexities of you and me.

Claiming my heritage

Friday, January 30th, 2009

Today, I’m wearing all black. My high heels are caked with mud from my front yard. I feel significantly un-cute. I’m in a bad place financially – but this is no one’s fault but mine. I haven’t gotten enough sleep. I’ve made some really terrible decisions. I’ve slacked on my running schedule this week, and over-achieved at consuming calories. I forgot to take an allergy pill this morning. My to-do list feels overwhelming, and my brain feels like a wimpy, deflated balloon.

I am in jeopardy.

I am so tired.

And when I get tired, my mind starts playing tricks on me. It starts trying to convince me that I am a total loser, and that everything is falling apart. And everything just MIGHT be falling apart – but I am not a loser. Even when I act like one. I’m not.

I’m a child of the King. So I refuse to act like an orphan.