Move across the country, leaving behind (nearly) everything you’ve ever known. Oh wait, that totally doesn’t count as adulting.
Job hunt for three months, because you refuse to settle (at least until your shekels run out).
Land a job from your shortlist of “dream” jobs…then promptly find the negatives (even though you actually kinda love the work – don’t worry. I anticipate rants aplenty.).
Commuting an hour each way, in good traffic – only taking one week to get sick to death of that aspect. To death.
Keeping your after-hours tutoring gigs because bills. Because money. Because adulting. Because your “dream job” is highly underpaid.
Become a slightly better-functioning night-owl/pseudo-insomniac and running on four hours of heavily medicated sleep-aid sleep at best.
Start adding a shot of espresso to your usual vanilla chai latte because tired as fuck, even though the taste makes you want to spew chunks.
Neglect the things you like, again, but this time with legitimate excuses (such as the schedule that has me running from 5 AM to 8-9 PM (which is usually when I finally make it back to basement)).
Get used to being abandoned by those whom once claimed they’d be by your side forever. Grow just callused enough to make it through the day, but sometimes still cry yourself to sleep at night. Whoops, that got dark. My bad.
What I meant to say was something along the lines of: being lonely as fuck. And also something else to do with that “fuck” word. I want a buddy, a companion, a partner-in-crime, a lover. I’m sick of waiting around for things that I thought were something they weren’t. And I refuse to join some dating service. So that leaves me…right here, bitching!
Hmm. I know there’s more, but I have to get back to work. I took a brief lunch break…a break from writing to write. Heh. Fuck, I’m braindead. I’ve written roughly fifty pages this week – stuff like newsletters, newspaper articles, ad blurbs, radio scripts, and now I’m about to start on blogging. I’ve helped perform interviews. I’ve assisted in ad-buying decisions and helped negotiate contract prices. I’ve improved departmental organization. And I’ve been here a week! I’m fucking tired! And pleased – with my job.
So yeah. Break’s over. Enough writing. I have writing to do!
I took myself to a movie last night. Masturdation, yay!? Yeah, no. You’d think this would be cause for celebration. Alas, no, for I watched a “film” that I never intended to see. One of those where you see a teensy snippet of a preview, and you go…”That looks stupid as fuck.” You scornfully scoff at the screen, because your cinematic tastes are far too refined for such drivel. So why, pray-tell, did I take myself out to see Passengers?
Why. The Fuck. Would I do this to myself? I’ll tell you why. One of my besties (yes, I said “besties,” because I’m pretty sure it will annoy the shit out of him) is a bully. That’s right. The author of stupidityhole bullied me into going to see this “film.” You see, he wanted me to be enlightened by the…no. I just snorted. No. I can’t even finish that sentence. He wanted me to share in his misery about this film, because that’s how bullies behave!
I wasn’t gonna do it. No. Fucking. Way. I’ve been wanting to take myself to a movie, but not this…this thing.
I refused. I outright refused.
And then he said the three magic words. You guessed it. “Cryognically-frozen chicken.” Motherfuck. I was undone, and he knew it. He refused to tell me what that meant. I’d simply have to see the film now in order to understand that. So. Over the course of, I dunno…a couple days. (He says it was more like an hour. Pfft.) He tormented me by randomly blurting out, “cryogenically-frozen chicken”…or…”ice-cold bock-bock if you prefer.”
And I caved. WHO WOULDN’T?! I had to know what the fuck he was on about. Look, I’m weak, okay? I mean. What the fuck is he talking about?! ARE THERE CHICKENS IN CRYO-CHAMBERS?! WILL THEY FROLIC AROUND IN SPACE?! IS THIS A MOVIE ABOUT SPACE-CHICKENS?! OHMYFUCK I’VE SEEN THE FUTURE, AND IT’S CRYOGENICALLY-FROZEN CHICKEN! Fucking hell. This is what happened to my brain after being bullied for days. Weeks. Months. (Maybe two hours.)
So I acquiesced: I’d see the “film.” I’d resist the urge(s) to walk out before it was over. And I’d sit through at least forty-five seconds of the end-credits. I already knew, going in, that this was probably all some big trick. One of the many schemes I’m subjected to on the regular.
In Dreams become…
Two or three days ago. Maybe last week. Look, we already know I’m shit with time, okay? At some point in the not-so-distant past, I even dreamed about this shit.
In the dream, I saw the damn cryobock movie and never understood the cryochicken reference. I panicked. In the dream. Because I knew what this would mean. That shit would make me watch it again!
Also in the dream, Laurence Fishburne looked just like his Morpheus character from The Matrix and simply wandered around, shaking his head and muttering “damn” at random, unexpected intervals. (We can also blame this one on stupidityhole, who told me “Morpheus is in the movie. And he says, “damn.” Now you have to see it.”) (What is wrong with me?)
At another point in the dream, Laurence Fishburne was actually more like HAL in 2001. And all throughout the ship, anytime something pseudo-dramatic happened, his voice would echo throughout the ship…”Daaaamn.”
I woke in a cold sweat. Holy fuck. Okay. The Fishburne/Morpheus/HAL shit was funny. But missing out on cryobock and being heckled eternally until I watched it again? Fuck. This can’t happen.
…Reality (Spoilers ahead and blah blah)
It was all I could do to stay awake during this…this thing. But I knew falling asleep would be signing my death warrant (aka: having to see this fucker again). And oh did I get restless. I even messaged stupidityhole shit like this randomly during the movie:
MAY I PLEASE WALK OUT
-Something about punching his face off.
And, SHOCKER, he didn’t reply to any of those. He was reveling in my misery. Fucker.
Space Ghost Notes
I entertained myself by jotting little notes on my phone. Would you like a sampling? Sure you would!
Jock wakes after asteroid collision
Wonder how long it will be before they show his ass
Ship is to travel 120 years (total) and can’t get through a MFing asteroid belt?
CALLED IT. Jock boy nudie shower shot.
Oooo Bob Dylan music playing…while Jocky McGee models clothes?!
What the fuck am I watching
HOW COULD BOB DYLAN AGREE TO LEND HIS MUSIC TO THIS
Thank you for a moment of peace Bobby
He passenger not crew
I do like the scene where he wanders out in space, thinking, feeling, lost…adrift, afraid, alone, desperate, hopeless
Nearly suicides afterward w/o spacesuit
I would too if I was in this fucking movie
He woke blondie on purpose!
Also WHERE’S THE FUCKING CRYOBOCK! I WANT CRYOGENICALLY-FROZEN CHICKEN RIGHT NOW I NEED TO LEAVE
“It’s the ultimate geographical suicide.” This is her line, and she’s a writer?! i’m gonna piss myself
Hm. I wonder when spacehumping begins
I’M SORRY HE WENT WOMAN SHOPPING FOR FUCKS SAKE AND SHE HAD NO CHOICE
space flying yay
CUE SPACE HUMPING
ugh lots of space humping
OH YAY! MORPHEUS!
“How long were you alone?”
~ A year
OKAY. I GOT MY DAAAAAMN. WHERE’S THE FUCKING CHICKEN?!
how many times do i have to watch blondie swim?!?!?!
crazy half-naked gravity field failure in pool
yay i get to watch blondie suspended in a spacebubble…dangling in her swimsuit
on the bigscreen
WHY AM I HERE
Ship falling apart
that wasn’t predictable at all
morpheus bites the dust
holes in the ship
“How’s that even happen? I thought this ship was supposed to be meteor-proof.”
“I guess one got through.”
who the hell wrote these lines
There was one other dude in the theater. He either fell asleep or slid down in his seat to whack it to spacehumping. Ew. He’s nasty. Nasty dude. Bad.
Three chicks came in at some point. Looked like mom and two daughters. They laughed at the “serious” moments. That was entertaining.
In conclusion… NO. JUST. NO.
So remember that dream I told you about?’
Sometimes dreams do come true.
No. Fucking. Idea. What the hell he meant by “cryogenically-frozen chicken.”
Credits start, and I’m thinking…it better be in the forty-five seconds of this he told me to sit through.
I’m the last one in the theater. The others hauled ass.
I sit through half the credits.
I get up. Walk down the aisle and am about to leave. But then, I think…what if this is part of the trick? I’ve sat through all this, no way am I leaving yet.
Prop myself against the wall (ewww, why is it sticky?) and watch – EVEN READ – the credits until it’s completely over. Screen goes black. Lights come on.
There’s a simple solution to all this.
I’m gonna kill him.
Best part?! My car is stranded there at the theater. The snowstorm that was supposed to start at 10 PM started several hours early.
Yeah. I called an uber, and he got me almost “home.” Then I walked the rest of the way. Only about half a mile. Was kind of fun, actually.
Car is still there, because there’s been over a foot of snow where I am, and I can’t get out.
But I got to be out and about in the snowstorm! Driving around Portland, chatting with a cool driver. Then walked the rest of the way in the snow!
AND I STILL DIDN’T KNOW WHAT THE FUCK STUPIDITYHOLE MEANT BY CRYOGENICALLY-FROZEN CHICKEN.
You know what he said, right? Guess you’ll have to see it again, hey? Dreams do come true! Or something.
Question for Peopleaneous
Did anyone see this movie and actually LIKE it? I’d love to know what the hell I missed that has like twelve people on earth raving about it.
Back in August, when I was mainlining xanax to get through the immense stress I was going through trying to get the fuck out of Louisiana, one of my buddies from work came to chill in my office for a while. I’ll call him “Habanero,” since he’s the biggest RHCP fan I know (besides LE MOI. DUH.).
So we’re listening to the chili peppers and chatting about random shit, and finally we get into Oregon and Portland. Finally landing somewhere around this paraphrased bit…
Habanero: Dude, so I heard you don’t know anyone up there. I laughed when P. Whipped told me that.
Me: arches an eyebrow
Habs: No fucking way. Friends? Family?
Me: Nah. I don’t have anyone up there. I don’t know why everyone is making such a big deal out of it. shrugs
Habs: laughs and leans back. The whole Pacific Northwest? You know…nada? Maaaaan, P. Whipped thinks you’re nuts. Hell, everyone does. But me? I envy you. You got some serious balls. What’s your plan?
I give him the gist of what I intended – which was to spend a week in an extended stay, during which time I’d find a place to rent and take whatever job I could find.
Habs: Listen, I know a guy.
Me: If this is gonna end with me dead in the desert or in a Mexican prison, I’m not interested.
Habs: Dude, I think I saw that one! ANYWAY. I know a guy: Jalapeño. Jalapeño and I grew up together, and he has family in Oregon. I’m gonna hit ’em up. They’ll let you crash for a couple weeks, while you get settled. I’m tellin’ you. They will.
Me: My eyes must have been big as saucers. This is something I normally would have put the kibosh on I-FUCKING-MMEDIATELY. Really, Habs? You think so?
Habs: I fucking know it. I’ll talk to Jala. We’ll sort it out; you’ll see.
Me: Dude, even if this doesn’t work out – you’re fucking awesome for even suggesting it. For thinking of me. Thank you.
Habs: Nah, you my homegirl. I can’t stand the idea of you going up there like that, with nobody at all. These people are cool. I mean, nice. Like. Nice as fuck. You’ll see.
Habanero didn’t contact them until around the last week of August…as in right at the last minute. But he wasn’t kidding. They took me in, showed me around, and now I’m renting a room from them.
It’s weird. And uncomfortable. Awkward as fuck.
And I’m tellin’ you, these people straight up act like they’re my folks. They’ve even introduced me that way once or twice, “This is Stephanie, the daughter we just met in September.”
They text me when they think I’m out too late.
They text me when they think I’ve been gone longer than whatever errand I’m on should require.
I do their laundry for them (sometimes).
I dogsit for them (often).
They drag me to family functions (after promising my presence and tricking me into going by telling me we’re doing SOMETHING ELSE ENTIRELY THEN WE SHOW UP TO A FUNCTION WITH SEVENTY PEOPLE).
They’re nice. And what I’m paying them in rent has enabled me to drag out the little bit I got back from the sale of the house…so that I can look for a job I actually want to pursue instead of settling for the first thing some agency could dig up for me. I had only been here a week when they approached me and asked me to stay. “The angels sent you to us. It was meant to be. We talked to our medium about you. She thinks you ARE an angel. Will you meet her with us?”
It’s interesting, alright.
And it’s a strange feeling. Being parented. At 36. After a lifetime of little to none of that.
They’ve taken me to the beach. They’ve taken me to restaurants my budget would definitely not allow. They gave me gifts at Christmas and cry and tell me they love me.
So I have to deal with some overbearing shit. So I have to deal with someone who may be at the beginning stages of dementia. So I have to deal with hugs and hovering and manipulation to spend time with them. So I have to listen to them repeat the same life stories over and over and over again for hours on end. So I have to deal with parents. Family.
I’ve also been given this two-fold gift of being able to take my time and pursue something better than “just a job.” And…as strange and uncomfortable as it is…it feels good, sometimes. To be depended on. To be…loved.
As grateful as I am, you’ll most assuredly get plenty of rants about how manipulative they can be. And how downright fucking mean-as-a-snake the man can be. But when I’m being fair, those times are few compared to how fortunate I’ve been and am right now. This is temporary – they both know that, though they’ve both also said they want me to stay for good. (Yeah, I’m serious. There’s obviously more I haven’t told in this little post: like how I think my very presence has acted as a balm for them and their loneliness, health problems they’re both dealing with, etc.) But I agreed to their rent proposition “for up to a year.” I’m not sure I can deal with the smothering that long, but hell. The way things are going, don’t ask me what comes next. I sure as hell don’t know.
Life is weird. And this new chapter book my life is writing is certainly no exception.
So I get back to basement after a grueling (read: not grueling at all) day of tutoring (one whopping student). I flip on the gas fireplace and bundle up, because it’s snowing and the basement is cold as fuck. Ask my nipples. (Don’t. That’s creepy as fuck. Pretend I didn’t say that.) I go into the bedroom, flop myself down onto the bed and greet first the boys, then Lucien.
I named my iPad after the librarian in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series. And then I promptly filled him with books, anime and games. I’ll give you one guess as to what Lucien and I get up to the most. You guessed it: I wile away the hours playing mindless games. This. Is what I’ve been doing instead of Reading. Writing. Watching. Observing. Hiking. I’ve been sleeping. Fiddling on the iPad. Facebook. Sleeping some more. Sleeping. iPad. Facebook. Sleep. Work in progress. I’m a work in progress.
After the boys abandon me to go wrestle in front of the fireplace, I cuddle up under the blankets. With Lucien. Will he fill my mind with obscure ideas and scintillating wit, as I intended him to? Oh no. Definitely not. You’ve forgotten we paired Lucien with The Stephanie. The Stephanie abuses Lucien and dims his mind with trite rounds of knock-off candy-blasting and time-management games (because she’s oh so fucking skilled at that). The idea is always: 15 minutes to wind down like this. Heh. We all know damn well it never ends up that way. The Stephanie is a work in progress.
So this fucking piece of candy didn’t go where I swear to fucking crackerjacks I told it to, and it ruined everything. My last damn turn for twenty minutes. And I blurt out into the quiet (aside from the insane racket coming from the televisions upstairs),
FUCK YOU, JIMINY CRICKET!
That is what it took to snap me out of my mindless daze. I actually sat up and shook my head. What the actual fuck? First of all, how do I come up with this shit? Second…what the fuck did Jiminy Cricket ever do to me? Or anyone, for that matter?
He goes around teaching that splintered, lying piece of driftwood about manners and morals and shit. He’s like the ultimate good guy. Pinocchio’s a lying little twatmonkey, but Jiminy Cricket?! He’s the adorable little crickety conscience, hopping about, tapping his little cane, and talking about how it’s wrong to steal and lie and cheat and gamble and all that good-for-nothin’-scoundrel, now turn-your-life-around-and-make-your-creator-proud shit.
And here I am, all FUCK YOU, JIMINY CRICKET, because I mismatched a piece of candy and my little witch can’t concoct her fakeass potion on a fakeass game that means nothing. Yeah. Take that, Jiminy Cricket! It’s a double rainbow! What does it mean!
I’ve been thinking on this a lot lately: I’m kinda disappointed that I never got detention. Okay, maybe even a bit pissed off at myself.
Part of me says I should be proud that I was covert. I mean, I did smoke cigarettes and pot at school and on campus, albeit extremely rarely. Seriously, through all schooling, college, post-grad, blah blah…definitely fewer than a dozen times. I was too afraid of being caught. (Smokes were different in college, obviously, but even that I kept to a minimum. I never wanted to be perceived as that girl. Even though, I kinda fucking was…kinda.)
The other part of me is (and always has been) sick to death of convention. And sick to death of myself for not bucking convention as much as I feel compelled to. Pot at school? No. I would have gotten a fuckton worse than detention. But there were times that I wanted to speak up in class. Stand up for something I believed in (or didn’t). I felt compelled to say something. Do something. But I forced myself to conform. I’m a non-conformist at heart (and I’m not talking about the twats who call themselves non-conformists, then gather in a group and commence to conform to their own set of rules and norms), but I force myself to adhere – often to things I don’t want to or feel I shouldn’t.
I’ve been so fucking well-trained at conformity. So fucking well-trained at tucking my head and saying “Yes, Ma’am,” and “I’m sorry, Sir.” That sometimes I fear I can’t break out of it and even tell the difference anymore: which ones are my own personal guidelines, and which ones are the ones I’ve been inculcated with? Which ones do I want to keep, and which ones do I want to dash?
A work in progress indeed.
So perhaps this sudden, “Fuck you, Jiminy Cricket!” makes a lot more sense given the things I’ve been contemplating lately.
Perhaps I’m saying “fuck you” to my own enforced pseudo-conscience and searching for my own.
Or perhaps I’m fucking insane.
Either way, at least my musings separated me from Lucien for a bit.
The ‘net runs rampant with posts about how 2016 is the most terrible year ever to be had. No, not the years of the Bubonic Plague outbreaks. Not the years of the Holocaust. Not the years of Genghis Khan’s hordes. It was 2016: the year we lost certain celebrities, the year of yet more unfortunate film adaptations and remakes, and then the year Trump became President Elect of the United States. Tragic? The latter, for sure. The former happens all the time. It’s called life. Sucks, yeah. Any loss of life is tragic for the individual and his families. But come on. The loss of my dear Leonard Cohen and isn’t enough for me to call 2016 the worst year on record.
Fine, I glossed over the Trump bit. That was intentional. I don’t wanna talk politics, but if you wanna know how I feel about him, specifically – I’ll just say – fuck that guy. And not in a fun – I wanna do you all night long kinda way. But with like a mile long, herpes-infested cucumber-up-the-ass kinda way. That opinion has nothing to do with politics, by the way. (Okay, that’s not 100% true.) But it tends to spring forth from a woman when a man tries to grab her by the pussy because he’s a slimy-ass rich celebrity who thinks he can get away with it, because he can. And is my little STD-ridden cucumber fantasy hypocritical? Yes, I’m aware. That is all.
So. That’s the Internet’s 2016. My 2016 was far less focused on celebrities, and actually far less focused on Trump that my little rantlet makes it sound. A couple of Very Important People encouraged me about how well I’d done this past year, not to mention all the encouragement I received here from the WordPress fam. But the thing is, the saying, “I’m my own worst critic” is an adage for a reason. Upon reflection, I’m thinking they were right. It was messy (isn’t life supposed to be?), but I did make progress. Sure I want it to happen faster, cleaner…Right. Fucking. Now. But that’s not how shit goes down. In my typical random fashion, here’s some shit that did go down in my 2016.
Divorce – Yep. Let’s get that one out of the way. Surprised? “Regulars” probably are. Thing is, I was separated for somewhere between 4 and 5 years. But he refused divorce, and I didn’t pursue legal channels to enforce it. So I was stuck. In so many ways, I was stuck. 2016 was the year I finally asserted myself, broke the toxic patterns that had ended our marriage and stood up for myself. It took roughly five years, but it’s now official. Now…one never marries intending for things to go down that way. We’d been a couple since I was fifteen. But if things do go sour (and they did), it’s fucking toxic to be held in limbo for so long. With the support and urging of a couple of very strong and important friends, oh and some strong doses of anxiety meds, I finally asserted myself and ended that limbo.
Therapy – I finally caved and tried therapy, after at least twenty years of decrying it as a scam. I’ve tried talk therapy as well as meds, but with all that I had going on concurrently – in addition to limited financial means – I haven’t found the right combination yet. But. I do intend to try this out again. I’m still taking Lexapro, at least until my refills from Louisiana run out (soon), and I have a handful of Xanax left. But I haven’t been able to afford new doctors yet. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get that sorted soon. So 2016 was the year I finally really began addressing my mental health.
Masturdating and Social Interaction – Along with my therapy, I also pushed myself to move beyond my boundaries. At least a bit. I took myself out to a couple of movies (Deadpool, yeah! And something with Bill Murray, because Bill Murray!). I took myself to a concert. I took myself to a poetry slam (which I haven’t told y’all about!). I took myself to Happy Hour (more than once). And I even took coworkers up on invitations a few times. I mean, this chick drank IN PUBLIC. She did not dance. She did not karaoke. (How many times does she have to say HARD LIMIT for people to get it?) But how she laughed. Oh how she laughed. 2016 was the year Stephanie hid a little less.
Quitting a Toxic – But Solid – Job & Moving Across Country – For the town I lived in, I had it made at my job. Aside from Queen Bitch, that is. But the direction things were moving in the last month or so would have had me in a new department under a brand new director with a brand new title and brand new salary. Yeah. There was no pressure at all at work. They didn’t beg me to stay or make my decision increasingly harder and more panicky each and every day. No. Not a chance. (I hope your sarcasm detectors are on and working.) Point is: Stephanie took shittons of Xanax in the last month and especially in the last two weeks in Louisiana. I met with a brand new therapist on the proverbial eve of my departure, and after an extended session, he agreed with all of my decisions. Except: he disapproved of the job I intended to accept in Oregon. It would have sapped me of my all and left me wrung out and an even greater emotional danger to myself than I already was. In the end, I agreed with him (though I had a tough time with the decision), but that has me still unemployed at the moment. I have made the move, though, and I’ve been in the Greater Portland Area since September. Newsflash: I Fucking Love Oregon. And, as yet, I have no regrets. 2016 was the year I gambled everything, turned my back on “everything I’ve ever known,” and risked staid stability to chase a dream in spite of everyone breathing down my neck what a fool I was. And I’m damn fucking proud I did.
Dispensary – Fucking right. I visited a dispensary for the first time. I’m in Oregon, dudes. What did you expect? So yeah, I got a J and a lollipot. I still have half the j left. (I may have a piss test in my near future. Yeah. Even in Oregon.) And I’m totally having the lolli if I land the job. Or at least part of the lolli, in celebration. Hm. Or maybe the other half of the j. Oh yeah! Pretty sure I’m gonna smoke it up with someone over Skype. I’ll toke over here. He’ll toke over there. It’ll be neato. Except I’ll have to find somewhere to do it, because of my “roommates.” Yeah. Remind me to tell you about them. I’m in a…weird situation. But one I’m grateful for. It’s just…fucking weird and uncomfortable sometimes. A lot of times. Anyway. Yeah. Old Stephanie never would have been brave enough to just stroll into one of those places, even though I’d have smoked whatever my friends brought out of there. I don’t see why people still think it’s such a big fucking deal. I’ve been smoking pot since…11 or so and I turned out. I still wouldn’t have gone in there. 2016 Stephanie? Dispensary-bound!
There’s probably more shit. I mean, it was a whole fucking year. But I need to get my shit ready for tomorrow. I don’t have a real job yet, but I do have a little side gig in the afternoons. Tutoring some kids on algebra and science. It’s not much, but at least it’s something for now.
I don’t do resolutions, so I ain’t making promises about writing. But when I come back, I’ll maybe tell ya about Oregon stuff. Oh! Oh! And I’ll leave you with a lovely piccy taken right here in Oregon, this very day.
Okay. So. I’m not dead. And I’ve been told I have to quit my fucked up emotional/mental block, stop stalling and fucking write for fuck’s sake. I promised I’d do so today. I swore when I came back, there would be this long explanation and apology and replies to all of you kind and beautiful people…but that’s part of what has kept me away. The anxiety ratchets up higher and higher the more I think about it. And the thing is, I don’t really even have much of an excuse except that I’m kind of a fucking headcase sometimes (which most of you already know).
So. Ahem. Part of my promise is that I wouldn’t delve into the whole thing right now (okay, okay, I’m getting to it). Instead, I’m supposed to copy and paste VERFUCKINGBATIM a rambly, typo-ridden tale that I rattled off to Ezekiel months ago to explain my whole broken foot thingy. Which for some reason he kept calling a broken ankle. Hence the title. Apparently, I’m not allowed to edit this rambly stream-of-consciousness mess. (Thanks, Ezekiel.) So, without further ado, here’s The Ankle Story about My Foot. (Brace yourselves. It’s messy as fuck.)
On the way to Glacier, I spent a day and a half at Badlands National Park. I did a trail called The Notch. My Fat Ass climbed the notch. I had CROSSED IT OFF my list of doable trails. But then I FORGOT the name of the trail, yeah?
So I’m walking along, see a trailhead.
I wanted to do that one, right?
Yeah! The Notch! Sounds cool!
I walk along for a while.
Then BAM. These steep, nearly vertical wooden steps held up on steel cables.
My heart was in my throat.
I nearly turned around.
You can’t do this, Stephanie. You’re too fat. Your arthritis is all hurty. You have GNP to look forward to. You can’t do this. YOU CANNOT. YOU ARE INCAPABLE. YOU’RE WEAK. YOU’RE FAT. YOU. CAN. NOT. DO. THIS.
And then I quite literally charged the motherfucker.
The self-hatred talking somehow lit a fire that had the opposite affect.
And I charged that motherfucking ladder.
And about 2/3 up, I froze. I froze.
And I started crying.
Realizing how afraid I was of the vertical climb at this point.
Realizing how weak my legs already were. (It’s not that high of a climb.)
And I started saying, out loud: I can’t do this. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.
Then I’d haul myself up to the next step. All the while afraid I was gonna fall and break my neck.
I can’t do this. I can’t. Ohmygod. What do I do now?
And then I snapped.
And said out loud.
FUCK YOU I CAN’T. FUCK YOU. YES I CAN!
And I finished it.
There were these hugely muscular dudes at the top waiting to go down (if I’d known this, I wouldn’t have climbed…good thing I didn’t know). I waited for ridicule, instead…they both high-fived me and were all “FUCK YEAH! YOU DID IT!”
I knew I’d have to go back down later, and that scared me, too.
But I focused on the trail ahead.
I nearly fell a couple times.
Had some scary moments of “I can’t” again. But I kept pushing forward.
Got lost at one point.
Found my way back.
I was so proud.
I climbed The Notch!
Sure, other people were running up and down the fucker. Could do it in their sleep.
Yeah…my body wasn’t up for it.
BUT MY MIND WAS.
And I did it.
GNP a couple days later.
My thighs were still PISSED.
But no way was that going to stop me from exploring heaven on earth.
One night, about halfway through, I knew I had a big hike ahead of me the next day. 12 miles in the mountains.
So I’m stretching at my campsite.
I know there’s a word for it.
But I’m kinda dim. So let’s see.
You know the stretch where you’re standing on one foot and you reach behind yourself and grab your other foot and pull it up to your ass? That stretch?
I was going for that one because it feels sooo good. And I needed it.
I grabbed for my foot.
Got my ankle instead.
BAM. My big toe flew straight down to the picnic table. Straight. Down. With all that force.
I clamped my hand over my mouth, screaming into my palm, and fell to the ground.
Blood was everywhere. I lay there for probably fifteen minutes.
Finally got up, limped to my first aid stash, cleaned it up.
Saw that I had split the nail in two.
Couldn’t move the toe without crying.
I had to skip the next day’s hike. I was supremely upset.
This was going to be an epic hike.
And I had to skip.
So instead of wallowing around in the tent all day, I wrapped my toe up all crazy padded and drove to some of the more lookout kinda sites.
The next (last) day, I scrapped the plans I’d made for it and did the hike I’d missed instead.
Fucking. Epic. Shit.
But at the very beginning/very end, there are these really high steps cut into the mountain.
I should have sat on my butt on the way back and eased myself down.
But I didn’t.
I practically flew down those steps.
Got a super happy pic at the end of the trail. People high-fiving me because I was so excited and pumped and like fist-pumping the air. I did it!
By the time I made it back to the car, I was limping.
By the time I got my boot off, my foot was so swollen I couldn’t articulate my foot/ankle.
I had broken my left foot.
And they only discovered it was broken in January. Because the breaks never showed on X-Rays.
Finally had an MRI in January, and two breaks in that foot.
After doctors had implied it was all in my head.
So. Uhm. Yeah. Ezekiel was right. (Yeah, yeah. Piss off.) If I even started trying to edit that, I’d never post it. (Which would defeat the whole purpose – to get my ass back to Stephellaneous and my dear Peopleaneous.) Look at that mess. Holy twatmonkeys. FYI: That’s a glimpse of what rambly conversations look like with The Stephanie.
This question was posed to me by someone with whom I enjoy thinking. You read that correctly. I’m referring to someone as a person I like to think with.
Now and then we pose questions such as this to each other. Questions that require more than a simple yes or no response. Questions designed to make you think, digging beneath the surface of the question and truly contemplating or even arguing your response. Questions that make you struggle.
This was the most recent question he posed to me:
Do you believe in Free Will?
The arch to his brow and the gleam in his eye warned me of a trap. But the smirk indicated that he knew I’d sense the trap. It’s a game we like to play. A game of words and thoughts and perception challenging and devil’s advocacy.
I tilted my head, matched his expression and said something like, “Sure. But it’s not that simple, is it?” I added something about tabula rasa and imprinting, but that line of thought fell away pretty quickly.
The restaurant we were in was a bit rowdy with a spirited lunch crowd, and we easily distracted ourselves as well with the delightfully tangential nature of our conversations.
You keep looking at that broken clock. But you don’t wear a watch. Tell me why.
Why do you lay your phone face-down on the table? Explain the thought process to me.
See what I mean? Someone I like to think with.
Do you believe in Free Will?
My knee-jerk response to this question is, “Of course I do!” But that’s simply not good enough. It’s an incomplete and flawed answer.
Tabula rasa. Do you remember hearing this phrase in school? I can’t remember the first time I heard it, though I suspect it first really resonated with me in college. The concept is usually attributed to John Locke. Though it predates him by a long shot, I think Locke did much to crystallize the philosophy – at least according to his own interpretation of it.
Tabula rasa, Latin for blank slate, as a philosophy posits that each man and woman is born completely blank. Not imprinted upon by some collective conscious or unconscious. No input from past lives or ancestral or astral projections. Blank. We come into this world, blank and ready to be written upon. And the ones with the chalk to write upon our blank slates? Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, teachers, clerks, neighbors, rich and poor, young and old, pure and evil, selfish and selfless. All of our encounters add information onto our slates. And at some point, we receive our own piece of chalk to add to or categorize the information which has now been imprinted upon us. And we also have our very own chalk to print upon the slates of others.
What does this have to do with free will?
Well. I think that we do have free will. To an extent. It isn’t a pure and unaffected free will. How could it be? A man who was born to the ghetto and imprinted upon by all that happens in the ghetto will make different free will decisions than a man born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth. They won’t even have the same options to choose from in life. A woman who was born within the confines of a prison and later raised in a halfway house will make different free will decisions than those of a woman born to a movie star or politician. Do they both still have free will? Yes. To an extent.
What if my free will conflicts with yours? What if my free will pushes me to apply for a job working for an NPO in the mental health field (fingers crossed), but your free will pushes you to select someone other than me? What if my free will causes me to text and drive, while your free will lands you on the highway moments before I crash into you, killing your family with my free will?
Let’s look at another important scenario. What if my free will leads me to a movie theater moments before the free will of an American Terrorist takes my life? What if my free will conflicts with yours? What if your free will conflicts with mine?
Is free will a good thing? Yes. To an extent.
Chick at work today reminded me of the free will conversation of a week ago (has it already been a week?). She said:
You know what I need? I need a rich servant. Someone to make all of my decisions for me – choose the right house, lay my clothes out for me every day, set food on the table in front of me at meal times. Someone to make all of my decisions. I’m over it.
She, in essence, told me that free will is burdensome to her. She’d rather not have free will in all instances. But can we pick and choose? We kind of do already, don’t we?
We “elect” government officials to make decisions on our behalf, decisions we believe they’re better suited to make than we are. That’s putting it simply, but that’s the premise, yes? So I’m turning over portions of my free will to them. And in return? They get to inflict their free will upon me, because I’ve given them the power to do so. When I’m up against them, do I still have free will? Yes. To an extent. If I choose to act upon my free will and drive to Baton Rouge to participate in rallies and peaceful protests, I could end up dead at the hands of a cop who has the free will to shoot me for blocking the streets and gathering en masse. That knowledge impacts whether or not I act on my free will, doesn’t it? Of course it does.
It happens every day in every circumstance. I could use my free will to stand up and shout at Queen Bitch, “You’re an evil, filthy cocksucking enema bag, and I hope you rot.” And my supervisor could use his free will to fire me. Not the best idea for me to act upon my free will in that instance, then.
So perhaps the answer is this:
Yes, we have free will. But whether or not we act upon said free will is heavily influenced by factors environmental, biological, social, financial, etc.
I believe that almost everything is a choice. And we have the free will to make whatever choice it is we decide upon. But needs must dictate that we take into consideration the free will of others and how they may or may not act upon theirs. We must also consider biological necessities: I could use my free will to stop my breathing. I could use my free will to never eat again. I could use my free will to deny my body of water. But then we enter moral questions of “right” and “wrong” and “should” or “shouldn’t.”
We could argue about fate, which I believe my thinking partner mentioned as well. And perhaps this should have been more of an essay about free will versus fate. I’m not quite ready for that one yet. Because I have many conflicting views. I do believe in free will. But sometimes shit just feels as though it was or wasn’t fated to happen. But perhaps that’s the Bible Belt in me speaking. Or perhaps its my own observations of the universe and what appear to be certain immutable laws.I believe that is a conversation for another day.
I suppose my views boil down to a conflicting dichotomy between free will and determinism. Many Buddhists adhere more toward determinism and shun the more Western idea of free will. This philosophy essentially posits that events in our lives are caused by influences external to our own free will, thus whether or not we have free will matters very little.
While I agree with much Buddhist philosophy (and have much to learn), I think a fully deterministic view is rather bleak and just as incomplete as a full adherence to the idea of free will. Yes things happen to me. Yes things happen toward or at me. But I still have choice. Sometimes, the correct choices are so obvious that they are basically no choice at all. And sometimes the consequences can be dire: follow my own free will or live to discuss it another day? For many, I’d say they wouldn’t even consider that a choice, hence negating their own free will.
It gets rather circuitous, doesn’t it? But the question has been on my mind for a week now. I’m still thinking about it. And I still haven’t fully formed my ideas on the matter. I’d like to do more formal research, dig into the ideas and perspectives of philosophers and great thinkers and, of course, consult my thinking friend.
What say you, peopleaneous?
What say you, thinking partner?
Feel free to use your free will to comment..or not. I’ll use mine to not edit, because I’m actually tired. Wonders never cease.
On another totally random note: I’m researching communes in Oregon.
She awoke with a gasp, bolting upright in bed. Gathering the soft fabric of her nightgown about her neck, she clutched tightly and frantically searched the room.
No. The room was devoid of life, aside from herself. And Darkness.
She tried this every night, to no avail. Every time she woke from these furtive but desperate attempts, only Darkness and her own haggard panting greeted her.
They were partners in an arranged marriage. One she didn’t want to be in, but Darkness was insistently insidious.
The visit to the weathered old woman was a pointless endeavor. Give up. That’s what the old woman had said. “You’ll find no light there, no redemption. This isn’t hope; it’s desperation. Stop now before it’s too late.”
If the old crone wouldn’t help her, she’d go it alone.
From that day forth, she spent every day in bed. Flat on her back, hands clasped over her heart, she sank into a trance state.
Through the void, she reached, fingers grasping at the viscous mass of nothing. But they found no purchase; what she sought simply wasn’t there.
For days she was like this, until finally. Finally, something happened.
She stood at the foot of the bed looking down upon her own sleeping form. The brief flutter of hope immediately crushed under the weight of what had actually happened.
She had peered too long into the darkness, mining its depths for some glimmer of light. Only now did she realize she had faced the wrong way.
Of course! There is no light in Darkness. Darkness is the very absence of light, cast aside by it. It was all consuming of those who plumbed its depths for answers to futile wishes.
And now? Now?
She was Darkness.
By the time the reclusive woman was found some months later, her corporeal form had withered into a corpse.
Only Darkness remained. Insistent. Insidious. Lifeless.
So. Great progress in some ways. None at all in others. Let’s get to it, so I can get it off my chest. Kind of like the pain in the everything bra that hits the deck as soon as I get home every day. I can feel it there, driving me crazy, all fucking day. So maybe I can get some mental shit off my chest, and I’ll feel a bit of relief? Doubtful, but let’s try it anyway.
The house goes on the market tomorrow morning. Sign in the yard, MLS, Zillow, the whole nine. Well. She said Zillow usually takes three to five days to pick new listings up. But after that, it will be available for any google search. Sweet biscuits.
She said houses are selling fast in my neighborhood, but agreed with me that having only two bedrooms and one bathroom will make it harder than most to sell. That’s fine – I anticipated that from the moment I bought the place.
She offered me a full percent less on her commission than I anticipated, so I didn’t even negotiate that. I was gonna try to knock her down half a percent, but she did way better than that on her own.
She also named the exact list price I was going to suggest (I’ve been researching comps for weeks). We both know it probably won’t go for that, but it gives me room to negotiate without fearing dropping below my bottom line.
So tonight, I do the final touches: tucking stuff away in closets, mopping everything one more time, water the plants and put the hose away, clearing the back deck, tidying the storage room, etc. Then I’m gonna take a much needed superlong soak in the tub and hit the hay.
She’s meeting me at the house at 9:00 AM in the morning. She said we’ll do all the paperwork then, photograph and video everything, then go ahead and toss the sign up. Weeeeeeeee. Here we go!
Fucking sucks. Still no feedback from slowass corporate about the jobs I applied to in hopes of staying with my current company.
Still nothing but dead-ends on the couple hundred apps I’ve done thus far in my search. (That isn’t an exaggeration. If anything, it’s an underaggeration. Yeah. That’s a word now. Suck it.) Now and then, I get serious nibbles or even bites. A couple times, I’ve all but been offered jobs (talking only about ones that would pay enough to live there)…only for them to fall through at the last minute.
There’s time yet, as the house is only now being listed. But…I’m still nervous as fuck. I’m not sure what the hell I’m going to do if the house sells and I’m still stuck down here with the same shitty prospects. Do I gamble it all and drive my ass up there? Hoping employers will be far more amenable since I’m in situ? (And risk losing it ALL in the process?) Or do I sign a fucking six month lease on an apartment here and keep wiling my life away, waiting for change.
For now, I shall focus on the sale of the house, continue applying my ass off and bide my time.
Mental Health Stuff
I still wake up wishing I hadn’t. I struggle mightily with things I want and think I need, but feel they’re far from my grasp. Perhaps eternally so.
I’ve had some mopey days. I’ve had some weepy days. I’ve had times I’ve had to hide in the bathroom at work, so I could cry it out and compose myself.
I still think I’m a pointless waste of space, an inconsequential non-blip on the universe’s radar. I still wonder what the fuck the point of it all is.
I fight hard not to dwell on that, because I don’t have the answers. I know I have it better than so many do, but it doesn’t really help to know that. It doesn’t ease the pain in my soul. God, I sound like such a whiny little bitch. Yet, it’s how I feel.
I’m fighting. I’m not giving up. I’m not giving in. I’m not. But. Motherfuck, some days it all feels so fucking impossible.
So. Good things ahead. New things ahead. Things I’m nervous about. And things I’m still struggling with.
Overall. Trending upward. The trick is to keep it that way.
She could hear the faint groans of life stirring from the master bedroom.
“Fuck. He’s awake.”
With a heavy sigh, she struggled to turn her head toward the window. She could hear his soft approach, the door squeaking open. Will he ever fix that fucking squeak?
“How do you feel this morning? Ready for breakfast?”
“Would you just leave me alone? I can’t bear this ritual anymore.” Why must he torment me so?
“Look at me, Clara. Can’t you even look at me?” His soft touch caressed her cheek, brushed her hair back.
Her reply was less biting this time, her voice suddenly soft, tears streaming down her cheeks to wet the pillow. “I can’t stand for you to see me this way.” Please don’t look at me.
“How long will it take for you to realize I’m not going anywhere? Nor do I want to. How long will it take for you to see the richness of life still in your grasp?”
He realized his mistake as soon as it escaped his lips.
“Heh, my grasp. My grasp?!” Her eyes flitted down toward her motionless hands, then up at him.
“I’m sorry, Clara.” He cocked his head to the side, eyes suddenly flashing. “No. You know what? I’m not sorry,” he said in a stern voice. She couldn’t remember the last time this gentle man grew so stern. “I’m not sorry at all. I’m done tiptoeing around you, and you’re done existing this way. This is no life.”
She gasped as she looked up at him, eyes surprised as the tears slowly dried. He continued, “Right here. Right now. You make a choice. Are you going to live? Or are you going to die? If you want to die, you know she’ll do it. I can call her right now, and a simple injection will end it all. You have that right. But if you’re to live, things change. Starting right now. So what’s it gonna be?”
She eked out the barest of whispers, “Live.”
“I. Can’t. Hear. You.”
“Live. I want to live.”
He stooped over, draped her arm around the back of his neck and carefully lifted and carried her to the wheelchair. He smacked the wheel nearest him and smirked, “You think I haven’t heard you call this a fucking prison? This, my dear girl, this is your freedom. This is your steed. Your iron horse.” He wheeled her down the hallway, through the living room and carefully out the front door and onto the porch. “Now. Where do you want to go? What do you want to do?”