Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas 2017

In 20 minutes, the hour will turn into another day, and it will officially be Christmas American-style. I'm supposed to be earning money right now by popping out a few more pieces for the projects I'm working on. I could also be cleaning the kitchen so it's not such an eyesore in the morning. I could go to bed, too, but I just took the dogs out for the final time tonight and put them all in their crates. Midnight Christmas mass is on t.v., and even though I'm not Catholic, I am intrigued by this story I've heard so many times in my life told through a new lens.

It's Christmas Eve, and the best I can say is that I'm intrigued.

There was a time in my life when Christmas was a big deal. As a sophomore in high school, I wrote an essay for English class all about how excited I was for Christmas that year. I don't have that essay anymore, and neither do I have that same sense of anticipation. There was a time when I excitedly pulled down all my decorations from the attic and spent an entire day putting up the tree, stringing lights and garland and setting up winter-themed vignettes in every available flat space in the house. The closest thing I have to Christmas decorations this year is a glittery table-top Christmas decoration my boss gave me last year. I didn't even take it out. It's been sitting on a shelf since the day I brought it home.

I'm really not a Grinch or a Scrooge. I mean, I'd never take away someone else's love of the holiday. By all means, go ahead and enjoy it. Every minute of it. Because it's still a magical time of year for those who love the lights and sparkle and carols. I just. I just have no use for it this year. Right now. Okay, last year. Maybe next year. Maybe next year, I'll feel the magic again. And it's okay if I don't.

Please let it be okay.


Sunday, October 29, 2017

It Gets Here When It Gets Here

I hesitate calling myself an overachiever because I'm really not. The quality in me that gets mistaken for overchievement is actually impatience. I don't have an innate drive to do more and be more. I'm just usually in a hurry to make it to the next step. And the part of me that loves to prove people wrong.

In the electricity and water-less days following Irma, I repeatedly said, "The electricity will be back when it's turned on." I followed the updates from the electric company, but I knew that until I saw trucks on the road, any worry or impatience or complaining was a waste of breath.

This is a lesson that I hope is finally seeping through my impatient, thick skull. Perhaps my perpetually high cortisol levels will also finally start to drop. Maybe I'll be able to trade worry for sleep.

I don't know.

 But I do know this. There are only certain things I can control in my world, and they all point to me.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

That's It

This post-Irma life is still a bit stressful and unsettled. I'm still trying to get in touch with my insurance company. I'm still waiting on FEMA. I'm still living in a slightly damaged home with broken windows and doors. But there's electricity and running water for now. My new routine includes spending an hour or so at a laundromat after getting in my long run for the week. It's frustrating, but it's livable.

It has to be.

My credit union offered a low interest loan for hurricane victims. The maximum $2500 would have been just enough to take care of a few things I really need to take care of. The monthly payment was doable. It was a long shot, but I kept hearing that people with bigger financial problems than I have were able to qualify.

I didn't.

I asked them to review my application again and offered to let them do an automatic payment withdrawal from my paycheck. They looked again.

I didn't qualify.

And.That.Was.It.

I said, "F@#! that. I'm never applying for credit again."

As I prepared for Irma, I was struck by the fact that the only person I can really rely on to take care of me is ME. I'm it. I dutifully did the best I could, spinning the plates and juggling the firecrackers. I'm still doing that, and I know it will be another month before I feel like I have a little bit of control over them. That's when my second income from my writing job will kick back in.

One month.

Then, it's beast mode time. My debt snowball app tells me it will take 72 months to get rid of all the $150,000 I owe. I say it will be less than that. I've decided to take on an additional duty at work. The writing work is ramping up, as long as I can squeeze in the time to do it.

This is it.

I'm going to get back into regular blogging as this is my new path in life. I'm ready to get back my life. So excuse me, now. I need to write.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

After the Winds Died Down

The power finally came back on late Thursday. The DSL line came back today. The borrowed generators are ready to go back to their owners. I finally washed off the streaks of dirt and filth that accumulated on my skin over the last week. I shaved my legs. I scrubbed my scalp and conditioned my hair. There's still some debris to clean up in the yard, but I think it's safe to close the door on Hurricane Irma.

Irma wasn't my first major hurricane. I was without power for two weeks after Charley cut a path through Osceola County. Those days are a blur to me now, hazy visions of picking up free ice, sleeping on the tile floor in the bathroom and using the solar lamps from my garden for heat-free light inside my house. I held on to those fuzzy memories in the wake of Irma. In the aftermath of a hurricane, there's a bit of comfort in knowing that even the most desperate feeling moments eventually fade.

But here's the thing, some of what felt so desperate to many people were actually comforting to me. I kind of enjoyed living the last week and a half without electricity. The days were simple. I woke in the morning as the sun spilled just enough light into the living room to brighten it. I cleaned and checked the updates from the power company. I spent a lot of time outside on my front porch (under an umbrella since Irma decided to give my porch a makeover), alternating between lazy naps and important phone calls. I fell asleep gazing at stars in a nearly black night sky.

I heard an interview with a biologist who explained that one purpose of a hurricane is to upset the landscape and bring balance back to the places where fresh and salt water meet. That's exactly what Irma did for me. She shut off my television and Internet and forced me to slow down and live moment by moment through the southwest Florida September heat.

Irma gave me sweat beading on my skin--and I swear it looks better than ever. She gave me a chance to sleep in the afternoon as the temperature peaked. She silenced my home and forced me to take a break from the work that has been weighing me down lately. She let me clean and clean out my home. She filled my heart through the generosity of friends and strangers who shared with me their food, supplies, showers and skills.

Life will go back to normal when I wake in the morning and try to settle back into a routine, but I hope to hold on to some of these unexpected gifts. In fact, you'll have to excuse me. The stars are out now, and the moon is a perfect sliver in the sky.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

I Laughed

The last thing I expected to do today was clean out a closet filled with stuff that doesn't belong to me, but that's what I did today. It was also what I needed more than anything else. Not only was it cathartic to see those shelves break free of the clutter that bound them, but the chance to goof around with one of my dearest friends--and the inevitable laughter that springs forth when we're together--was just what my soul needed.

I needed the steady stream of inside jokes (Camembert) and knowing looks and friendly jabs and spontaneous songs that are part of us. I also needed the acknowledgement from someone else who got to see the magical blend of electricity and concern that we've built this friendship on. I deal with enough crazy on a daily basis that the validation of my own perspective just felt good.

Even though you will never read this, thank you my dear. Thank you for every nod and smile and eye roll. Thank you for loving me...just me...even when my decisions make you want to cry. Thank you for being you and being willing to share that you with me. You make the journey so much more fun.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Suffocating

I'm on repeat right now. It's after 10. I'm half paying attention to the television while the rest of my brain is berating me for not doing the writing work I need to do and hoping I don't burn the dinner that no one will eat. I just checked the rice. It looks okay.

I'm miserable. Sad. Melancholy. I'm a walking checklist for depression. Without any obvious trigger, I start to cry, sometimes small trickles of tears and sometimes gasping sobs. I spend most of my waking moments wishing I could just go to sleep and much of the night watching reruns that don't make me laugh. I'd love to laugh.

I'm late for work every day. My house is a wreck. Most of my conversations--even with my best friends--consist of me nodding and filing away in my head some really mean things I want to say. It's been a long time since I've felt this way. A really long time. I'm almost to the point that I want to ask the doctor for meds, but making an appointment is a daunting task.

The only anchor I'm clinging to is that the Earth is still moving around the sun. Tomorrow will arrive. Next year will show up. At some point along the way there has to be a moment of clarity or an answer. I take that back. THIS is my moment of clarity. Now I'm just waiting for an answer and praying like hell that I'll survive long enough to figure it out.

Friday, March 17, 2017

The best laid plans...

Way back in July or August I signed up for the Gasparilla 15k race thinking it would give me something to train for and get my feet back on the running trails. I put together some very reasonable training plans and even went out for a few long runs early on Sunday mornings.

Then December and January bitch slapped me with fury, and running was the last thing on my mind.

I planned to go ahead and do the race anyway. After all, I did my first half-marathon even though I had never gone longer than 6 miles. It's still my best time. I'm definitely not in the same shape now that I was then, but I'm determined and willing to give it what I had.

My annual check-up changed all that. I had a ridiculous swelling in my ankles and feet that was the result of my thyroid gone wild again. Basically, I had proteins building up in the soft tissues of my body. I asked the doctor about the race, and he told me I would most likely have a heart attack on the course because what was happening in my ankles was also going on in my heart and my brain.

There have been three major times in my life when I've suffered some of these same symptoms. I didn't know at the time it could be thyroid-related. Neither did my doctors, because they always gave me advice for losing weight and exercising more. I see now that I was probably showing thyroid problems even then.

These periods: the end of my teen years when my mother's mental illness was at its worst for me; when my first marriage was falling apart. Then there's now. I didn't realize until I heard the word heart attack just how much life was affecting me.

The good news is that I bounced back in the past, and I think I can do it again. I'm in experimentation mode, trying to find the right formula for myself. I know it involves some alone time, exercise, and a bit of rearranging in my life. I have no idea what that's going to look like, but I'll play both scientist and patient for the next few weeks or months or whatever.