It’s Always Something #001

Today’s mind-blowing reason it’s so hard to deal

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You could call it Murphys Law. In some cases, you could call it Entropy. Just don’t call it a surprise, because we all know…

It’s always some damn thing! 

Welcome to my new regularly occurring series! I’ve thought of starting this for a while, because we are approaching the threshold in our state of affairs that are no longer worthy of complaint. Having worked in emergency services as well as surviving 10 months in a war zone, I am aware of the mental health threat that intensely bad situations pose. 

Now, there’s a tool I have to admit that I’ve buried out of the shame I feel for using as I can never tell who it might offend. It’s the skill of cynically extracting a usually dark aspect of a traumatic event in order to cause the unexpected reaction of laughing. That is making light of, or taking the piss of for my international audience, an extraordinarily bad event. 

Admittedly, half of shit that goes down isn’t, in itself, the end of the world. However, add the dimension of time to the discussion, and we now have to consider things cumulatively and look at patterns through concepts like percentages and frequency. I know that’s starting to sound mathematical and shit, so rather than dwell on the theory or discuss why this is post number 001, let’s just dive in head first! 

It’s still early in the day today, so I’ll just recap yesterday. I have a ventilation job waiting on me. It got warm last week, so the awesome folks called on me to see when it was going to get done. So, despite the late start to the day (5:30pm though the building was unoccupied literally all weekend) I finally got there to get some work done. Upon scoping out the scene, I come to realize that about $20 in parts are still needed and also that I was suddenly in need of a tool that I have been putting off the purchase of. I knew it was needed, but thought the other carpenter’s very nice tool would still be available for me to use. Whelp, at some point he wrapped up the last of his work and rolled out entirely. Oh, and I don’t even have the money to pay my phone bill, so 😝

I squeezed out doing what I could to get ready, but without half the things necessary it was only so much. Another hour+ commuting for so little return. 
You know it’s always some damn thing! 

It’s Raining, It’s Pouring

It was a wonder we made it through paying September’s rent. Since the kids went back to school, our schedule is less demanding but life has not been short of challenges. 

I lost a chunk of the last check that I put into my bank account. The state decided to draw against my account while the letter telling me so was en route to my mailbox. It sucks. I’m not surprised, but I am irritated. That’s another rant for another post, though. 

Then there was Back to School night at my son’s school. His mom reinforced over and over how important it was that I attend. Last year, I attended with both the kids. After we were settled and the presentation had begun, she strolled over with her mother and got our son stirred up. I ended up walking out straight away with not one, but two wailing kids. This year, she sat right next to our son and got him worked up announcing that her folks were planning their next visit. After that, she takes his hand and hustles off to deliberately cut me off. It’s my parenting time, but she was sure to enjoy every second of that hour and twenty minutes. Whatever. 

She does these little things that anyone on the outside wouldn’t notice, but are quite deliberately belittling. It’s no news that her folks are coming, they take their full 3 months every year to visit. They dump half as much money on that single visit alone that I’m likely to make all year. She announces it to get under my skin, knowing how much it must kill me that my parents can’t even collect themselves enough to be parents. That I’m now in a financial vacuum that even a respectable income can’t stop. 

I try not to let it get me, but Friday I could hardly make myself a coffee. I spent the entire morning trying to recover my sanity. The afternoon was really the healing part, having spent it with my son coloring. Really, I don’t know what I’d do sometimes without these moments of grounding. 

My girl spent the week recovering from falling on Hawthorne bridge, which happens to be a metal grid platform. She got out to help push a stalled car. Her feet gave out, whether because it was slippery or because she overworked her muscles, she isn’t sure. She did bruise up both knees, both hands, and her left eye.  Being the caring boyfriend I am, I took her to the doctor to be seen. All the while, what does it look like to everyone to see a girl with a black eye and seriously bruised wrists being followed by her boyfriend at the doctor’s office? Nothing I enjoy more than falling right into the stigma of abusive bastard by trying to do the right thing.

Add in the little monster being a little monster every morning trying to get her to school, and that pretty much rounds out last week. This week started off much better, but by the close of Monday I had a vehicle that wouldn’t start. Luckily, said vehicle is a 1994 model and it’s missing half its engine compartment trappings, so it made for an easy vehicle to work on, at least. Of course, it’s not my truck nor my money going into it, so there’s a judicial processes that goes along with getting it fixed. It doesn’t matter that I had the exact same model as a teenager that I basically fixed everything on by time I was done learning to drive. Even that I forgot to throw the clutch when starting one time and burned up my own starter. I grew up in the mountains and my mom liked to drive off with the parking brake engaged, therefore I leave it in gear. Kim grew up on flat land and her brake works, so has never before thought of needing to push the clutch when starting. We don’t need to say how many times it has happened to confidently say the starter is shot. I whipped out the nice new multi meter I was recently gifted, and poked around to confirm. However, any time a guy opens a hood on the side of the road, every asshole and his dog has to give you their analysis. Add in the fact that a starter costs a hundred bucks with the core charge (and so does an alternator or a battery) and it takes some phone calls to build confidence in buying said part! Nonetheless, after a bonk to the forehead, a trip to the Dr’s office for Kim, and a wade through traffic after a wreck in the hwy, Rosie turned right over! Whew, another week, another crisis dealt with. 

So, now that I’m a week behind in work, and have so many projects to try to tackle, I will probably be fairly absent in the blogosphere. I will at least keep up with my weekly followings, they’re a great bit of morning inspiration. A benefit to being on the west coast is that everyone has posted by time I wake up! 😴😄 Thank you all for sharing your talent, I will be back to posting again one day…

The Way Things Should Be

Because I think they should be

It has taken time and several concerted efforts, but our family dynamics are improving. There is less chaos, fewer meltdowns, and more talking. Oh, and the kids are back in school! I felt for a while the day would never come. It’s some semblance of routine, anyway. 

On another delightful note, I woke up yesterday morning and upon whipping the blanket off, was greeted with a snappy chill. Oh, man! I can’t wait to not have that fan in the window all night again. The cool weather is right around the corner, and that combined with back to school means one thing: germ season. Kiley stepped outside in her dress and started shivering immediately, and like a bad PTSD trigger, the image of her sneezing all over herself and opening doors flashed through my brain. I returned home from dropping her off and besieged the place with soap and bleach. I had other things to do, but I couldn’t let it go any longer. 

We have managed to get the kids to keep their toys more picked up. The living room got organized and things are much tidier overall. I clean like crazy because it improves the quality of life for everyone. Regardless what living space you occupy, even if it’s a tent or your car, your quality of life will be far better if it’s kept clean. In my mind, that’s the way it should be. 

Unfortunately, I have to exist in reality for a majority of my life. In reality, a house is very difficult to keep up with, especially with kids. Nothing is the way it should be, pretty much any time, ever. It doesn’t matter that I have been groomed to 5S the hell out of things or scrub a room to white glove perfection. I live in the real world with real cohabitants. 

I also have real bills that I have to share in paying. It doesn’t matter if I can balance a budget. I cannot be in two places at once to make two incomes at the same time. Hell, earning the one income is taking its toll on me. I should be able to pay all my bills every month. In my mind, that should be entirely possible. I should be able to afford a vehicle, not necessarily brand new nor high end. Just a vehicle to safely get me and the kids around. 

These things that should be, they bother me because these things are not. It’s not just my expectations of myself, is it? My debtors expect to be paid, the government expects to be paid, baby’s momma expects to be paid. Really, the downward spiral of it all, the eternal source of stress, is that all these people expect results. Hours of my time, abuse to my knees, back, hands and otherwise, nights spent on a ladder instead of bed, hours and fuel spent in traffic, all condensed down to a green sheet of printed fabric. 

I should be free to let my mind explore the world, the most succulent and delectable morsels of knowledge oft overlooked. Instead, I’m bound to expectations. I shouldn’t be bound to a life of poverty after working so hard to escape it. However, to be otherwise should not require I be bound to a life of corporate servitude, resorting to stealing my life back in a lunch break here or concocted excuse there as neither my weekends nor holidays are left sacred. 

These things that should be. I struggle to accept the reality that things are not the way they should be. I can accept the reality of the past, or at least I’m working on it. What bothers me is the reality of my future as there has so far been no indication of it being vastly better than the recent past. 

How do I ‘let it go’? How do I build ‘mental flexibility’? What can I do to make tomorrow at least marginally better than today aside from giving the home a field day cleaning? 

My Painful Scar

I hurt. Really bad. At some point, a given pain is so excruciating and unrelenting that your mind just disassociates from the body. I laid in bed and held my stomach with one hand and my heart with the other. 

“You are well. You are healthy and strong. You are not going to die. Your everything is not over or lost. Be at peace. Sleep is what will heal, do not let your body take it from you.” I tell myself. 

The thoughts come rushing in. Those awful, unsettling words. The evil, hateful, berating words like vomit. The smell alone, like a gag reflex, issues an urge to spill my mental lunch. (It was a tasty little TED talk)

“Be still. Be well. Now is not the time for thoughts. Now is the time to be centered, breathe.” I take a deep, controlled breath. My heart lights up, beats on my ribs, and squeezes battery acid into my guts.

The thoughts come back. And the smell. Like a trickle of water over a dam wall, I feel it in the front of my brain. “You know what, bitch!?” are the words of my father and a hundred drunkards dripping on my tongue. Don’t worry though, I’ve spent my whole life building and reinforcing that dam. 

“Breathe. You are well. You are a great human being because you can feel. You are great because you bring so much to your endeavors. You are valuable. Your words are valuable. Your actions are valuable. Your feelings. They are part of being human, and they are valuable.”

Our counselor poked that scar a couple weeks ago, and I didn’t even know what she poked or why it hurt. It hurts now. 

I was in the 5th grade. I don’t have many memories of that period of my life, so I have to do some math here… I would have been 9, making my sister about 2. I was playing cards with my dad. I suppose she felt left out, so she did what a toddler might be expected to do: kicked me in the back. Continously. I know I told her to stop. Over and over. I imagine I yelled it at her, but I don’t recall. My dad didn’t intervene. The kicking continued. I uncrossed my legs and squished her against the sofa with my back. I didn’t even see it coming. Do you know what a drunken layman’s fist does to a 9 year old boy? Well, nothing that left a permanent mark, though at the time I was sure my arm was broken. It’s what his fist told me in that flight. “You are not valuable enough to deserve not being physically attacked.”

I will let myself vent this hatred though: I hate that “it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it” has suddenly become a trendy way of implying someone simply ought to know what their audience wants to hear. 

Moreover, I hate that it’s used as a gateway to render all context invalid any time the audience is offended, and the words are picked up, balled together with their emotions, then hurled back at the speaker.

I am pressed for words. “You have to use your words. You must speak.” I am not a novice in vocabulary, but I don’t know what words to use to express how I feel. Sometimes (more often than is helpful) I don’t even know for myself what I’m experiencing. But I must speak, because that is what is demanded of me. I breathe. I think. I carefully, cautiously, pick words to assemble the best sentences I can. I draft it in my mind, check the tone, edit out any absolutes, ensure my audience is not being unwittingly included, and do my best to make sure it is completely objective so as to not sound like I’m treating my subjective views as any kind of fact. Finally, I release the anticipated final draft, and I think it just might be NYT best seller material. 

What I said, the context, gets thrown at my feet. How I said it gets thrown in the cauldron, with a boiling hot stew of emotion, before being thrown in my face. If I speak, I get doled out another round. If I remain silent, the cauldron boils over. The words don’t hurt that bad, and I can deal with the third degree burns. What really hurts is that scar. It’s been torn open again by the reinforcement of, “You are not valuable enough to express your thoughts.”

The burning feeling has gone down. I know I may not sleep well, but the least I can do is rest my body, hold my oozing wound, and keep telling myself that I am valuable.

Collecting Thoughts

Conquering the Chaos

“I just feel like my mind is racing through thoughts and I’m not in the driver’s seat.” my girlfriend tells me.

“My mind is like lightning. One brilliant flash and it’s gone.” I tell her. 

She worries about her craziness and I try to comfort her in saying we are all a little crazy in some way. I suppose the trick is to figure out what flavor of crazy you are and try to learn from others how to live with it. 

It is in thinking about the furious pace of thoughts that led me to realize something else has been missing entirely from my life. Furthermore, it closely coincides with the point in time that my finances first turned south. In the Corps, we were issued a small notebook, olive green of course, that we kept tucked into a pocket or in the small of the back. We called it a smack book for motivational purposes. These days, I manage to keep myself together in a clipboard and spiral notebook or two. 

In a time of my life when I was single, I felt I was operating at max capacity all the time. Physically and mentally, I pushed myself to my limits. I had much more space than I needed, so an extra bedroom became my office. What I really wanted was a full sized whiteboard, but I didn’t have a way to really accommodate one. Instead, I bought a can of whiteboard paint, and painted each closet door top to bottom. 

Oh, the memories of that ‘whiteboard’! Many, many drunken attempts at deriving fluid dynamics equations or balancing chemical reactions. Tutoring. Strategizing. Motivating. Budgeting. Dreaming. All of that and more happened on those doors. It captured those fleeting, golden ideas. It reminded me of problems I have already addressed and no longer need to store in my already overloaded brain. It reminded me of my priorities and plans as I went through the week. It was an anchor for my very actively wandering mind and helped immeasurably with my productivity. 

It is high time we get a giant whiteboard again, I say. Once again, I have no idea where to accommodate one, but it is needed. We already found we can barely function without the whiteboard calendar, so I don’t know fully why I wouldn’t have gone for at least another small one. 

I am not a big fan of the paint though. It is a two part resin and doesn’t actually apply like paint. I believe a foam brush is the only way to get the coat even enough to effectively write and erase, but I wouldn’t mess with it unless you consider yourself handy. 

It’s something to start with. 😁

Defining the Problem

The diagnosis is evading the professional help

It’s noon on Father’s Day and somewhere a father is likely on his 3rd drink of the day. He is probably wondering what happened to cause the severance, though in searching through bottles doesn’t understand how he perpetuates his own problems. 

I have been treated to the first use of the bathroom this morning, breakfast, nookie, and we are trying to wrangle the kids out the door for superheroes day. Amidst fussing and griping, Kim suggests we bail on our plans and just take them to the park. My patience is thin and besides that, I’m in a horrible funk. 

So, what the funk? Being broke. Putting off work while bills pile up. Mostly, that I struggle so hard and come every holiday lately, I’m too broke to really do anything. Now, I’m thrifty and young kids are still pretty amazed by just about anything. It’s not that there’s nothing to do in a city for free. It’s that a journey to the children’s museum shouldn’t be a damn Survivor style expedition. It’s that as I watch my household diverge stealthily into chaos, I see a ubiquitous pattern and the realization that this is why we can’t do nice things. 

I want to yell at the child to stop ruining every special occasion with her attitude. I instead have to reinforce her mother’s threat because she clearly didn’t listen to it from the source. I’m already tired. I’m tired of all the bickering. It wasn’t a large amount of it, but it did get every last one of us upset. 

About the time the children have shoes on and are ready to go, Kim has to make a second coffee. I try not to look at the clock with dismay, but it’s coming up hot onto 1pm and half the day is already gone. 

Kim had asked me what I wanted to do. I didn’t have a socially acceptable answer. If I had any money for gas, I would have taken my son for a day to ourselves. I wish now that we would have. I wonder still how that request would have been received. Probably not well. 

I’m in this funk, and my mind drifts again to that drunk asshole that’s probably giving my sister or some hapless stranger a drunken ear full. In this situation, he would have been gone nearly before sunrise. Fishing, drinking, driving aimlessly, or whatever his fancy. I don’t remember him doing much as a family. I want to be alone. I get it. The family thing gets to a guy sometimes. Especially a guy that’s well enough alone. 

At some point in the day, Kim said something optimistic about next year’s father’s day. Really? I had all of $6 to blow at Goodwill when my son’s birthday came around. I was broke for Mother’s Day. I’ll be even more broke and bracing for trying to dodge another 72 hour notice, or worse, for my birthday. It’s well over halfway through June, and not a single bill has been paid aside from phone bills. Thank god for Boost and their $35 flat rate. 

Why? Why is this happening? I see things all over the place contributing to our downfall. If I pick at these things, it seems like I’m being a jerk. If I don’t, they keep tripping us up. Even things that have been addressed keep happening. 

Kim tells me she’s sick of living like this. So am I. What the funk am I supposed to do? How do we go from planning and failing to meet our needs to planning and finding success? It’s not that our plans are faulty. Simply that when push comes to shove, everybody would rather jump ship than see them through. 

I miss being the kind of broke I was as a single guy. You know the kind? The kind of broke that comes from having paid all your bills and having nothing left. I don’t know how to pick my family up to that kind of broke, and every holiday that comes around reminds me of how hopelessly broke and still on the verge of homelessness we are. 

We have been grasping for all the intervention and social help we can. It’s run out and we are still no closer to floating. What can I do? All I have left is to keep a record of all our failures and point them out, which usually comes to explosive outcomes from opposing sides of a finger.

I got nothin’. Any ideas out there? 

Adapting

It’s not for everyone

I’ve been wanting to blog all weekend, but it’s hard to figure out what to say. 

Summer is officially here, signaling the beginning of construction season. Apparently it’s in full force and Craigslist is overflowing with ads for help. I was doing a little gig for a guy who told me that workers are going for as much as $30 an hour. I laughed as I told him that I might consider going back into it for that wage, though I don’t figure myself being worth quite that much. 

Well, I dug into storage and put by proverbial tool belt back on. I’m being obstinate here and refusing to take on a j-o-b. So, I guess that makes me a contractor now? Shit, I haven’t even updated my business license and here I am getting ready to write a contract for my second project. Yeah, what the hell happened to the first? The floodgates are open, and I already feel like I’m drinking from a fire hose. 

I would be over the moon right now, if not for the state of my city. In case it’s not national news (I go out of my way to ignore it) the issue is that yesterday my city became the epicenter of FEDERALLY CONDONED RACISM. I don’t have the time or energy to dig up facts or quotes, but I just have to say that some days humanity makes me sick. 

Yesterday, some white supremacists decided to have a little get together. I hid in my sanctuary, earmuffs and saws happily muting any sound of it that might penetrate the shop. I had to deal with the leftovers on my drive home, and that was already more than enough. 

First off, I have to be grateful for the fact that we are a state. Our own state, with its own government that can have its own say even when some fuckhead is in charge of the federation. I’m grateful that the people leading my city stand on the firm ground of acceptance and inclusion while said fuckhead opens doors to criminal behavior.

I really don’t want to know how bad it was or wasn’t yesterday. This morning, my girlfriend watched in horror as some helpless soul took his life in front of the train. Someone in my city was so distraught, in such a dark place, so absolutely tortured by these events as to take their own life. I saw a squad car and ambulance while out driving today. I hope it wasn’t a repeat of the morning, but I can hardly shove the thought out of my mind. 

I’m speculating, sure. Maybe the victim had a bad breakup, was messed up on meth, or had a tag on his head. Maybe. Except that we just don’t have that many suicide incidents, and there is little if anything more stressful than knowing there is a government supported effort to eradicate people with a specific genetic order for skin color. 

I can only afford so much time to vent my grief, but I need my readers to understand that they are not alone in this fear mongering country. I need to mourn with my city for the innocent people being targeted and to send the message that no matter how bad it gets, we (the not sadistic and bloodthirsty) will always stand for each other. I’m thankful my city’s officials take that stand, and I’m thankful for my military brethren standing with us.