02 August 2010

Sigh

I finally let go of a great deal of stress.  Finally.  It only took a good fall, an emotional breakdown (which occurred the week after I hit the pavement), and a rescue by my best friend, who whisked me away to Palm Springs for an overnight stay.  "You're not getting out of this," she said. "We are going.  The room is booked. And before you can say anything about money, I used miles. So there."

Do you see why I love this woman?

Los Angeles, or at least her beach cities, has been shockingly cool.  Not as in "über hip", but as in "bring a sweater".  The marine layer, rain, record-breaking lows -- this is more of what March holds than July or August.  The 120 degrees of "dry" heat and ample sunshine was a welcomed escape. Vitamin D, poolside booze and a good friend cures all.  After a two-year writing binge, I am very proud to report: tanlines.

It's the little things, people.

The irony in all of this is that, now that I've let go of all this stress, I'm so effing tired I can barely move.  Um, yeah, guess I was running on just a little adrenaline.  In the last week, have been sleeping like a hibernating bear.  On Thursday, I was in bed by 9.  NINE! That only happens when I am really, really, really, really sick.  Like with a fever.  This was simply sheer and utter exhaustion.

In spite of my excessive slumber, I'm still tired.  Less tired than I was.  Not exhausted all the time, but still tired.  And still yawning.  All. The. Time.  I've taken up regular afternoon latte runs, something I've eschewed for years.  I've lied to friends -- LIED! -- and passed up dates because I had "plans"...plans to eat dinner and go to sleep.  That's not very cool, I know.  I don't like to be dishonest.  But, what am I supposed to say?  "I know we haven't seen each other in ages, and I love you to bits, but I'd rather go to sleep than go out with you?"  Exactly. "Plans" sound much better.  White lies, people.  Every once it a while they make sense.

******************

"I don't want you to take this the wrong way," my bestie said to me last week, "but you seem like a different person. I mean that in a good way."

The funny thing about Aries stress (and, yes, I'm going to get all astrological on you), is that we think we are handling it very well.  And, for the most part, we do.  We are analytical about it:  Here are the facts, these are the realities and this is how I'm going to deal with it/them/that. There isn't any denial. No facade.  We really can handle it.  For a long time.  Until something like a stubbed toe brings us to our knees, and leaves them bloody.

I've been handling my tense situation in a dandy manner, I'd like to think, for the last three years.  Three years is a long time to hold one's breath.  Waiting for a resolution.  A miracle.  My hard work and patience to pay off.  And, for an Aries to have any semblance of patience, well, that is worth something pretty grand.

I've lived in the lands of Almost, Soon, Close and Nearly There for a little too long now.  That's just the bitch of working toward a dream.  On the outside, it has to look pretty stupid.  On the inside, it can feel pathetic.  I'm always surprised, though, when a friend will say how brave they think it is. They usually say this over a cocktail they insist on paying for.

Have I mentioned lately how much I love my friends?

I would tell you more about the situation -- something I did promise at the beginning of the year.  I am a woman of my word.  I will, I swear, tell you the ins and outs of what has been going on -- no "plans" will get in the way of that, promise.  But, another aspect of an Aries (or, maybe just me), is that we don't like to talk about it too much.  We don't want to jinx it.  And I am close.  We are close.  And, soon, we will know more.  In the interim, I sleep.  And sigh.  And smile.

For the first time in a long time, I am happy.  Not that I was unhappy before.  No.  It's just with that layer of stress removed, I'm freer to feel.  It's easier to laugh, and not just at the irony abounding.  It's easier just to be.  The facts and the realities remain.  There is a clock, and it ticks.  Time moves really quickly, and there's plenty to fret about.  I'm just not going to for now.  I'm simply going to enjoy what's left of this winter-like summer before my tanlines fade away.

14 July 2010

Heading for a Fall

Why are the short weeks so mean?  Seriously.  It's like the holiday weekend flips you the bird.  "Hope you enjoyed those three days off," it seems to say, "because that four-day work week is gonna be a futhermucker."

Last week was a tad brutal, I must say.  Just a tad.

The week started off with discovering on that holiday Monday, that my debit card had been frauded to the tune of $600.  Now, I'm not the type to regularly (or ever) check my bank activity online.  But, on that day, I did.  So I called my financial institution and found that, yeah, I would have to cancel and get a new debit card...which would take up to 10 business days to receive.  I use that card for ev-er-y-thing, so the bonus to being frauded was the added inconvenience of going Visa debit card free.  Um, yeah, boo.

Next, I was met with an unhappy client, which is one of the better ways to begin the workweek, no?  The upset occurred over simple math.  We have an agreement to pay me a specific amount per week.  That weekly rate was rounded to a monthly by the client.  My invoices are still for the week, he just pays me for the month, which is really and truly nice.  However...there aren't always four weeks in a month.  There just isn't.  We have 52 weeks in a year.  Divide that by 4 and you get 13.  We don't have a Decenuary on the calendar.  So, any genius that builds a budget based on a 48-week year is doomed for financial failure.  Because, occasionally, say about four times a year, we have a five week month.  July happens to be one of them.  So, when I sent my invoice reflecting this, I got a lecture on my math skills and a hint that I was being greedy.

Suffice it to say, I'm just working less this month.  And, future monthly invoices will reflect 4.33 weeks.

The next hiccup came when the long-awaited meeting I've had calendared and re-calendard, then re-set again got moved.  I really do ink things in my calendar, and I am never thrilled to cross anything out.  This is kind of a big meeting.  Well, not kind of, it is.  And, while I'm a pretty laid-back gal, and understood the reasons why all the moves were occurring, the anticipation (and preparation) that went into it, only to be met again with a resched, left me a bit letdown.  At least it wasn't a cancellation.  That was the upside.  But I was simply exhausted from holding my breath, and wasn't really looking forward to holding it again.

But the week would only get better when a good friend went this side of apeshit on me over nothing, and made it all my fault.  That is just nothing but good times, people.  All I could do, while sitting through the email exchange -- yes, emails, which made it all the more sad -- was inhale and edit, re-edit and edit again my replies.  When someone just decides that they are going to be pissed and that they are just going to be pissed at you, there's not a whole lot you can do but ride it out.  And it was a very, very, very long ride.   I was called aggressive, passive-aggressive, accused of not telling the truth, of suffering from the endless need to be right, of hidden motives and not being a good listener.  Oh, and I complain about my life.

Yeah, I know.

I love my friend immeasurably. I know that there's other stuff going on and sometimes shit (even of the ape variety) happens. Still, when faced with a situation like that, in a friendship where you've shared laughter and tears and secrets and joys, it's a little unnerving to be attacked for something so inconsequential that it doesn't even warrant mentioning here (and I don't want to piss my friend off again, thankyouverymuch).  I had to stop myself from going to that place where you look at the friendship as a whole (and, yes, all the things I've done for said friend), and think, point-wise, I've earned a bit more credit that what I've been given. But, I didn't.  You can't go there because friendships aren't tit-for-tat, let's tally up the scoreboard. You just kind of hope to get, I don't know, the benefit of the doubt, or at least a phone call.

So, by Friday, I was in desperate need for something relaxing and fun.  But, first, I had to go over to the LAPD Pacific Division to fill out my identity theft report.  After that, I texted a nearby friend to see if a last minute walk to one of our favorite spots could be arranged.  She was kind enough to comply.  And that was exactly what I needed: a good laugh with a good friend, and a turkey burger to go.

Now, I feel completely safe in my neighborhood, even though it's not completely safe.  I feel comfortable walking home at night, but I am mindful of the routes I take.  I should also be mindful of the moon cycles.  Not so much to keep an eye out for the full moon shenanigans, but to be reminded of how dark a moonless night can be, especially when I take the shortcut-I-never-take-at-night-on-a-back-street-with-no-street-lamps home.

I caught my left big toe on a piece of uneven sidewalk. The surprise of the pain this caused was more shocking than the unexpected halt.  And, being somewhat graceful (or at least not a total klutz), I thought that I could catch my balance.  In order to do this, one has to take up speed, and I was already walking at a pretty good clip.  Unfortunately, I never caught up to myself.  I went down and hard.

I was carrying my wallet and BlackBerry in my left hand, my handled paper bag of dinner in my right.  I kept my left hand clutched as I went down, taking the skin off the back of that.  I let go of dinner, but my right hand alone wasn't enough to brace this fall.  I came down on my right knee and chin.  And, once I met the ground, I sort of just rested there for a moment, collecting my thoughts.  The one that kept floating through my brain was, "WTF?!?"  I slowly got up, happy that the contents of my left hand were still intact.  I found my bag of dinner a few feet away, and it was in respectable shape.  I still had four blocks to go before I got home, with a toes that was bleeding profusely.

Here's what's sort of spectacular:  I had skinned my right knee, but didn't tear a hole in my pant leg.  I had a scrape on my right shoulder, but didn't tear my shirt either.  I had a deep purple bruise on my chin, but didn't chip a tooth or bite my lip or tongue.  And, FYI, OxyClean really does get blood out, because the bottom of my beloved near-bell-bottom khakis were soaked in it from the rest of the walk home.

Here's what's sort of sad (besides the above):  When I fell, I shattered one of my favorite Buddha necklaces.  And that's what made me cry.  Not the fact that I was literally bleeding and bruised from head to toe, and that's kind of painful, but that my lovely necklace was destroyed.

I can't imagine ending such a week on a more perfect note.  I mean, really.  I sort of had to laugh, because the lyrics to "Hurt" were running through my head as I tended to my wounds:  I hurt myself today, to see if I still feel.  And, it's almost as if that's what I had to do.  I've been just going and going for the past few months, pushing to get things done.  Then, on that short week, others started pushing me, too. And the pace that I was keeping was like the shove that brought me down, even though, technically, it was an uplifted piece of cement.  Don't even get me started on breaking my Buddha.  Inner peace has not been mine of late.

I can't even describe the crippling exhaustion I feel.  (Though, I'm sure you're feeling something similar, too.)  Not only did I hit that sidewalk, I hit the wall.  I've got nothing.  Zero.  Zilch.  And there's still so much to do.  But, sometimes what's going on inside has to manifest outside.  And when that happens, embrace the Arnica.

28 May 2010

Dear Facebook, We're Through...Kind Of

I'm breaking up with Facebook. For a week. I know. It's a trial separation leading up to what will be the inevitable divorce.

I'm sure everyone online is aware of the kerfuffle over Facebook's privacy policy. There's a movement to delete profiles on May 31st, another to not sign in on June 6th. Of course, the changes to the privacy policy to make them "simpler" have come through just in time to make those deadlines. By that, the deletion movement has lost some of its wind, as I'm sure has the June 6th protest. But, back in mid-May, I decided that, while I was too lazy to delete my account at this time, I would not sign in for a week to let Facebook (and my friends) know that I could indeed live without it. Facebook's advertisers would not get any hits or views from me in that time, making only a slight dent in FB's back pocket. Even though Facebook admitted to making some mistakes and have clarified the privacy policy, I'm not one to walk away from a commitment. So, I'll be signing off before midnight on the 30th and won't sign back in until the 7th. I'll also be deleting my BlackBerry Facebook app as well so there's no unintentional connection.

Why go to all of this bother, especially when it's only me doing it?

Well, for one, I think Mark Zuckerberg is the ultimate douche. He believes Facebook is too big to fail and that he can get away with just about anything because where else will people go? Back to MySpace? And, for the most part, he's right. Where would we move to if we made a mass exodus? (I say to a bar. Actually have real contact with real friends. But that's just me.) There are other social networks in development, most excitingly Diaspora. But, for now, there's no real, new alternative. So, maybe Mark is right. For now. Without a doubt, what happened to MySpace will happen to Facebook. Eventually. Everything changes. Nothing lasts forever. And, once you've reached the top, the only place to go is down.

Zuckerberg ought to tattoo that somewhere.

For the past two weeks, there were many interesting conversations and rants on the subject of To Delete or Not to Delete as well as Who Cares? I created a Facebook event and invited friends to join me in a week away. It was an underwhelming response with four yeses, 11 maybes and 33 noes. I wasn't surprised. We tend to be such good corporate lambs willing sacrifice privacy, among other things, for convenience or fun or to be part of the crowd.

But that's not what I signed up for.

I'm not so naïve to believe there's such a thing as actual privacy on the internet, or life in general, these days. I use a rewards card knowing they are keeping track of what I purchase. But, at least I'm getting money back for that. Not to mention I've been blogging for nearly a decade, and have been known to overshare. But, I'm not one to post photos or videos, or anything more compromising that an opinion on the internet. Yes, I blab on Twitter on a daily basis and tell people where I'm at via Foursquare. Obviously, I'm not *that* concerned with privacy. I just like to have a say in where what I post is going.

It's a fine line.

The Library of Congress is collecting my tweets. Google me and you'll know some of my innermost thoughts. But, I don't want to be on CNN.com and see what my friends have been reading. I find that incredibly creepy and assumptive. Like I need to be led by my friends' opinions as to what is relevant or cool.

No. I don't.

And, if it is something that's truly relevant to me, or super cool, my real friends will contact me directly.

*********

I will give Facebook its due credit. I've reconnected with countless people through it. Friends I hadn't talked to for ten or twenty years. That's an incredible thing. I also connected with total strangers who have become friends of sorts. And, in the beginning, I friended people I didn't know just to be polite, accepted requests from a friends' friends in order to not look like a jerk. I ended up with 160+ people connected to me who may or may not have the same views of privacy I do, and I started to ask, Why?

So, on Thursday, I did a mass deletion. I removed about 20 "friends". It felt kind of heartless at first. It's not like you have the option when you delete to send a note saying, "Hey, nothing personal, but I'm removing you from my list. No hard feelings, okay?" (And I didn't have the time to send out personal messages.) Half of the people I was deleting I had already hidden from my news feed, so what was the point of having them linked to me if I wasn't paying attention to what they said? The others removed were courtesy friends that I never really connected with, or actual friends who use Facebook as a promotion tool or their center stage. At the end of the day, I'm sure people won't notice or care that I am no longer their "friend", and, if they do, hopefully, they will find this and accept my apology, or will pick up the phone to ask why. Seriously. Facebook isn't the only form of communication left on the planet, you know?

*********

When I first joined Facebook, it was fun. I will admit that I was that annoying user whose zombie would attack your zombie with zeal, and would send you karma regularly. But, soon, I grew bored with that. I never got into mobs or farms or the like. Never played any games or IM-ed. Facebook, for me, was about connection and conversation, and the occasional pleasant surprise of catching up with a ghost from the past.

But now? Well, now, I've just about caught up with everyone I want to. I don't need a four-digit friend count to feel a sense of self. And I really couldn't give a rat's backside about what anyone "likes". Facebook has become a bit of a yawn, sort of like a dinner party that's gone on too long and the conversation is dying out.

Still, no one seems ready to leave. Yet. But, I do believe that Facebook has jumped the shark. With competition brewing, the next year of social media is sure to be interesting. It's time for something new. A new group of people. New conversations. A different way to connect. Like, perhaps, in person.

So, a week without Facebook is soon to begin. I'm sure it will be a bit awkward at first. A habit to be broken. But, I'll still be on Twitter. I still have email, and three phone numbers for friends to call or be called. This isn't a way of disconnecting from friends but perhaps connecting with them better. Yet, what I'm most curious to find is how often I will be back on Facebook once the week is through? Or if I will at all.

Any word on when Diaspora will launch?

17 May 2010

The Lengths I Will Go

I bought my first package of recycled toilet paper yesterday. I gag a little whenever I think of the phrase "recycled toilet paper". It's just gross. I, like most women, am a total toilet paper snob. So, while I will buy recycled paper towels (the 365 brand at Whole Foods is the best because it comes in half-sheets with little hearts embossed on it, so what's not to love), and biodegradable detergents and non-chlorine non-bleach, organic soaps and shampoo, I can only take my ecological efforts so far. Thus far, that has not included "feminine" supplies (nor will it), or recycled TP. Until I stood in the aisle staring at the $2.99 double-roll 4-pack of environmentally conscientious bathroom tissue.

I stared at it for a long time. I looked at the options. Seventh Generation's was a whopping $4.69. Hell, if I'm going to spend that kind of money, I might as well get Charmin or Northern...stuff that hasn't been used before. No. That was quickly ruled out. The 365 brand was also $2.99, but had a lesser sheet count (yeah, I really do look at that stuff....eight months of unemployment will change a woman) than the brand (whose name I can't even recall, outside of "environmentally sound packaging") I ended up getting...but only after I squeezed it to see if I could gain a sense of its softness.

I couldn't.

But, I bought it anyway. Why? Because I was too fucking lazy to walk two stores down to CVS and get real toilet paper, that's why. Really. Can you fucking believe that one, people? No. Neither can I.

Let me further articulate the situation. My Whole Foods is in a semi-gentrified mini-mall. It houses (from South to North) a laundromat, the aforementioned Whole Foods, a 99¢ Store and a CVS. Now, my Whole Foods is the size of the Super Dome, so it's quite a walk over to the CVS. And that CVS is tiny, and still kind of grungy, but has the basics, including real toilet paper.

So, I stood there in the Whole Foods aisle of all things recycled, including things that really shouldn't be, and weighed my options: Dump my groceries in the car and walk over to CVS and get the super ultra Northern at nearly $1.25 per roll, or save myself a few steps and two bucks and buy the recycled crap.

How lazy am I?!?

Well, to my credit, I got up at 7:30, had my shower, sorted laundry, took it over to the 'mat (not the one by WF, because that one still kind of skeeves me out...all laundromats do, but I would rather get three loads done in one hour, so I suck it up and pretend I'm not really there) and got petrol for the week. So, by the time I got to Whole Foods, it was just after ten, and I had my whole day ahead of me. I just wanted to get home to my French press of French roast and the chocolate croissant I splurged on (because my uterus wanted it and she tends to get want she wants...it just makes life much easier not to argue with her, trust me).

Recycled toilet paper seemed like a cheap price to pay for that.

(I'll let you know how it goes. I'm making my half-roll of the really good stuff last as long as possible. Why do I do this to myself? Really. I would love some insight here.)

**********

And so, I should probably explain my four-month absence from the blog, especially since I promised so much and it is its last year, and to just toss a good third of it away kind of deserves an explanation.

I don't have one.

Sorry. But just being burnt out doesn't seem to hold water. Being busy with a job rather than doing the work I want doesn't really breed fodder for this forum. Spending every weekend writing for someone else's project leaves little left over for myself. Ideas whir about in my head, then evaporate before I can log in here.

There's a lot I want to say, but can't right now. There's a lot on the line and a lot on hold and I desperately want to share, but I'm afraid it would make it all go away. I know. Could I be more vague? I'm sure I could, but how annoying would that be? Or annoying-er. Whatever. There is more to say here. Really, there is. I just need to free myself from a few more strings, and then I can really let it all fly.

xo

08 January 2010

Nine

Hello. Remember me? Yes, I know it's been a while. I needed a little break. Some time to sort things out. Replenish the well. And, truth be told, I was a little cranky. Unemployment seems to have the effect on me. And, fortunately for you, my misery does not love company. You're welcome.

This happens to me (and I'm sure all writers) every once in a while, where I have so much to express but absolutely nothing to say. As bitchy as my blog can be, I don't like to rant all the time. Who wants to hear me moan about the job market and mounting debt? Aren't we all dealing with that in one way or another? I kept hoping that I would have something more interesting to say. Turns out I didn't. It's hard to have adventures when you don't leave your house so as to not to spend a dime and you're conjoined to Craigslist hoping there will be a job that you'll be right for...and pays more than $9/hour. When you don't have enough money for booze or chocolate, it's best to just keep to yourself. And, so, for the most part, I did.

By the time October arrived, the toll hit me physically. I suffered the worst bout of gastritis I'd had since I was diagnosed three years ago. I couldn't eat for four days, and became quite impressed with functioning self-starvers. Really. I couldn't stand up to brush my teeth by day two and needed a nap after showering. Being dizzy isn't much fun when it's not cocktail induced. Also, having to buy easy-on-the-tummy foods isn't as inexpensive as one might think. But, in case you didn't know, if you eat organic cinnamon apple sauce with organic saltines, it tastes kind of like really cheap apple pie. I became a connoisseur of the bland. Do NOT buy low sodium chicken broth. You can't add enough salt to make it palatable. Ginger ale should be served in a champagne flute. And you should only get rotisserie chicken from Rainbow Acres. I was deeply disappointed to find that the chicken from my Whole Foods as dry as Death Valley. After a couple of weeks of that diet, and a new addiction to Reed's Ginger Candies, I was a few pounds lighter, leaving me with an ill-fitting wardrobe. My curvy 6's too loose, my 4's too snug...not to mention a little out of style. I haven't been a 4 in five years. And I will never forgive Seasonale for that.

Fortunately, the day before Thanksgiving, I was offered a job, making my stint of un- or under-employment just two weeks shy of eight months. I survived that time only because of my incredible friends, who rallied around me, supported me (at times literally) and wouldn't let me give up or give in. They are as stubborn as I am. The hole I have to dig myself out of ends somewhere near Shanghai. And, so what? I'll get out of it one day. I've learned a little about patience during this time and the art of going with the flow. Which, for an A-type Aries, borders on alchemy. By the end of the year, I was so exhausted that I spent New Year's Eve with Netflix watching Bogie and Bacall (The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep), Cary Grant (Arsenic and Old Lace) and Grace Kelly (Dial M for Murder). I fell asleep about 10:30. New Year's Eve is one of my favorite events, but after the way it treated me, I didn't even feel the need to show 2009 to the door.

2009 was much like my last boyfriend -- coming in with so much promise and beauty, but ending up a cloying, annoying, utter disappointment. Last year was almost arrogant in its cruelty. Let's just say it: Last year was an asshole. And, like my last boyfriend, I'm not looking back to wonder, "What happened?" No. I've got better things to do. Top on my list: I am going to fall in love with this year.

I've been looking forward to 2010 like meeting the hot guy at the gym whose 6-pack remains on his abs, not sitting in his fridge; the only spare tire he's got is in the trunk of his car; and 'tight ass' refers to his bum not his wallet. Yes, I expect this year to be a perfect '10. And I am going to seduce it.

I realize I'm going in to the New Year with the same level of optimism and hope I did for '09, except, this year, I'm stronger and wiser, and have even less of a tolerance for bullshit. And that kind of feels fabulous. There's a level of fear that falls away once you have lost your illusion of security. I find myself walking into situations like, "Bring it!" Any minute shred of doubt about who I am, what I want, what I am capable of has been obliterated. Now I probably sound pretty arrogant. But I simply lost tolerance for even my own bullshit. You kind of have to at some point, if you are really going to survive.

And while we are celebrating '10 (which, by the way, I will say as two-thousand-ten because it just sounds better), today is a 9...the 9th anniversary of RUAWAKE. I know. Crazy, right? And I'm pretty sure this will be the last year for it. It's time to wrap it up. It's time to start moving on.

There are sure to be lots of adventures this year, including revealing some secrets I haven't yet shared. Which should seem shocking. What haven't I talked about here over these last nine years? You might be surprised. It's time for some light and laugher and some bloody effing fun.

Thanks so much for staying tuned even when I tune out. Thanks so much for your emails and comments and friendships. You make me laugh and think, and realize that I'm not just shouting into the abyss. So, happy damn New Year, friends. Let's show this one who's boss. xo