Sal

She came over last night. Texted first.

Hey you gonna be home 2night?

Yes, I’ll be there by 7 for damn sure – hopefully sooner. What’s up?

Holler when you get settled we can have a nightcap

Sounds good.

~

I’ve only met her twice. She lives across the street and is a friend of my roommates. We sat outside, laughing and toking and sipping alcoholic beverages, trading stories around a fire. (Well, I mostly listened and laughed as Sal and one of my roommates traded stories and bantered.)

I’d ignored her Thanksgiving text.

Hey this is sal across street. I’m making yummy food & watching football if you wanna come over

I heard the soft alert. Picked up the phone. Discovered my roommate must have given Sal my number. Swiped to read the text. Read the text. Turned the screen back off. Flipped my pillow over for a new, cooler side. Smooshed my face back into said pillow. And went back to sleep.

Though I apologized only a couple hours later and was honest about what my day looked like (this time of year is rough on me, y’all, but she was also alone), she hadn’t spoken to me since. And, of course, I’d read into that, but I shouldn’t have.

So this time, I immediately responded. “Sounds good. :-),” was my reply, even though it didn’t. Sound good, that is. It’s fucking cold out, and I knew she’d wanna hang outside. I was hungry. Grumpy. Sleepy. Itching to read my third book in as many days.

But Sal is lonely…no, starved for attention and affection is more like it. Polite. And harmless, if occasionally flirtatious. The roommate she’s closest to was out of town, and the other roommate hides in his room more often than not. So this would just be me. Me and Sal.

~

I get home from work, tend to the kittyboys, bust out the leaf blower to clear the back patio and pool cover, use the bathroom, wash my hands, pop open a sour, and let Sal know I’m home.

I perch myself on a kitchen stool and try to focus on the words of the book in my hand as I wait. Half an hour. Not really frustrated, but wishing I knew if I had time enough to eat.

I’m out back

As I’m opening the sliding glass door from the dining room to the patio, I see Sal standing there, slightly stooped over and cupping her hands to coax a flame from her lighter to the tip of her cigarette. She’s tall: a good six inches taller than me, at least. Sturdy, but not in the way “creative” authors use “sturdy” as some innovative and less-offensive term for “fat.” No, the woman is sturdy. Strong. I don’t know what hair, if any, she has. It’s winter, and I’ve only ever seen her with a hoodie on, over a beanie. No stragglers peeking out. She’s wearing tan colored overalls. The hoodie she’s donned over that is orange, and her beanie is gray. Fuchsia slippers adorn her feet. That’s right: slippers.

She has some mystery foot ailment, you see. I heard hints at it on the first night I met her, but last night she explained.

Doctors don’t know what ‘n the hell’s wrong with my feet. Open wounds. Blisters-like, but not blisters. They’re hard. Can’t stand them fuckin’ shoes any more’n I have to, so I put on my slippers soon ‘s I get home. Reckon I’ll lose my feet one o’ these days. But for now, these slippers sure are nice.

Sal, would you like to sit down?

Naw. I’m use ta standin’, but thanks.

Sal fires up a joint and puff-puff-passes it right on over to me. Of course, I oblige. And she chats.

And chats.

And chats.

That’s all Sal wanted, really, all she needed: someone to talk to. Not necessarily with, but to. And to know that that someone was listening, actually and actively listening. She’d first arrived under the pretense of borrowing something from one of the sheds.

Promise I have permission. Told her I needed a scale, and she says there’s one on the shelf in her shed.

HOLY shit! Holy SHIT! *Sal emerges from the shed, holding aloft a bulky black scale.* I told her it was for WEED. I could stand on this thing! I mean, I’d break the motherfucker, but point is I could fit both my feet on this som’bitch.

That scale was a source of random jokes over the course of the next hour or so, but her true purpose was to chat. No, to not be alone. If only for a little while.

~

The longer she was there, the happier I became. And not because of the herb. I didn’t let myself partake enough to be too far gone. I just became aware of how special it was to her to not be alone for a while, and I indulged in that feeling a bit myself. Allowed myself to be happy and present, rather than silently willing time to fast-forward to a not-so-distant future point when Sal’d be gone and I’d be alone again.

Sal’s forty-nine years old. Did I tell you that? A forty-nine year old self-described “uber butch” lesbian, who tries really hard not to flirt with me but would “eat [me] from sundown to sunup” if I let her. She’s actually cut it out, so I can relax and enjoy conversing. (First night in her presence was rough, lemme tell ya. She was relentless.)

She filled me in on weighty chunks of her life story last night.

Her father molested her as a child. For ten years. Ten. Fucking Years. The state finally found out when she was twelve. (That’s right. TEN. YEARS. By the time she was TWELVE. Let that shit sink in.) No thanks to her mother, who knew all along and said nothing. Did nothing. She was placed in foster care, group homes, but ran away and struck out on her own at sixteen.

Her relationships have composed of a series of women whom she busts her ass for, remodeling kitchens, constructing retaining walls, designing elaborate landscapes, building furniture to desired specifications, staining and restaining this surface and that. Only to be brushed aside when the last project on the list gets checked off. The last one was so nuts, she locked Sal in their bedroom (with her own children witnessing it all) for twelve hours. Barricaded her there. Then called the police on Sal and had her jailed, making all these wild accusations about her life being endangered. Even the woman’s kids reported on Sal’s behalf that their mother was the crazy one, here.

~

There were tears in Sal’s eyes as she told me of her adoptive parents. She’s going to live with them in Upstate New York, where she’s from. Moving sometime before Christmas.

She just met them a couple of months ago and went to visit them for a couple of weeks.

My dad has cancer. I know this is gonna sound bad but I don’t mean it but I do but I was hoping that som’bitch would die while I was in the area. So I could poke that motherfucker and make damn sure he’s really dead.

Turns out, the woman watched Sal grow up. She was married to Sal’s father before Sal’s mother was. Sal’s father cheated on her with Sal’s mother. This woman never had children and always hated the way Sal was treated. Watched her grow up…from a distance. Even attended her ballgames. But never said a word. Not even when Sal could have used somebody when she went into the system at twelve.

But the woman is there for Sal now. The woman and her husband, both. And they’re – no shit – adopting Sal. Formal, legit, legal papers are being drawn up, so Sal will have the family – the parents – she’s always longed for. She already calls her “mama.”

She was so excited. So fucking excited. Her eyes were filled with it – this giddy, unvarnished excitement that we tend to call “child-like.” But why can’t adults feel that way, too? Yes, there’s a lot to Sal that can be considered “child-like” and under-developed. But she’s also a grownass woman, one that has lived her whole life in search of someone to love her. Need her. Cherish her. Value her. Parent her. Nurture her. And by god, her excitement and relief and hope and regret and optimism and fear were palpable. Palpable. 

She tried to apologize, and I had to stop her. Express to her how special this all is and how I’m sharing in her excitement and hope.

You’re fun, Stephanie. *smiles genuinely at me* Really fun. This was fun – thank you for talking to me.

No, Sal. Thank you. Really.

~

Sal left me with more jokes about the incongruous scale, hopes that her old beater truck is up to the several-hundred mile journey ahead, and half a joint.

I shall enjoy it this evening, while reflecting on Sal and her journeys past, present, and future. And the little, tiny slice of her life I’ve gotten to share in before she moves on to her next chapter.

Or perhaps I’ll invite her over and actively engage…save the reflecting for days Sal-past.

Part 2: The Beginning

Have you ever heard the supposed-Italian proverb, “A bad beginning makes a bad ending”? Well. You’ve heard of it now, and it gives you a succinct understanding of where this is headed: a bad ending. (Or was it?)

Trigger Warning

Before we go any further, I wanna break my own “rule” of not saying “trigger warning.” I haven’t been around for a while, and there may be new people lurking that don’t know to expect to be triggered. Telling you now, expect it. I don’t know if it will be in this part or the next, but I will be talking about abuse (physical, psychological, emotional, sexual). I will be talking about substance abuse: i.e. alcoholism/a raging alcoholic and meth. I will be talking about severe Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). I will be talking about theft. I will be talking about infidelity. I may be talking about rape. There. That should give you at least an idea of what to expect. So move forward with caution, or not at all. Totally cool.

Happy Birthday to Me

I met Dirk (that’s his name now) the day after my birthday last year. That’s July 2017. We were supposed to meet the day before, on my birthday. He changed plans at the last second. (Red Flag #1 – don’t worry; I won’t be counting those. There aren’t enough numbers to cover them all.) He was late, and I had to wait for him. (Red Flag #2) He’d already been drinking by the time he got there. (Red Flag #3. Okay. I’ll stop. You get the point, and so did I. I just chose to ignore it.)

I was wildly uncomfortable, because it was clear, straight away, that I was on a date with someone whom was exactly opposite my personality and not at all my type. He was wild, outspoken, obnoxious, mouthy, and such a fucking bro…but also jocular, incredibly charming, and dead fucking sexy.

So I stayed. Against my better judgment, which was screaming at me and pounding away at the door to my common sense. I locked that bitch and stayed.

And So It Begins

Thus commenced the maddening, ill-fated relationship that followed. What came next was a series of random, unscheduled, nights spent together. Yeah, I’m not gonna go into detail on that. For your sake and for mine. Let’s just say, I’ve dubbed him Dirk for a reason. And so I had fun. I worked hard to separate my heart from it all and remain emotionally divested. It worked, for a time. It worked until he decided he needed to draw me closer to use and manipulate me more thoroughly and efficiently.

It went like this: Random Tuesday night, I get a call. Wham, bam, thank you Dirk. Random Thursday night, perhaps a week later, I get a text. Wham, bam, thank you Dirk. Perhaps a week or so would pass. I think I’ll never hear from him again. I’m strangely happy about that. Though I was having fun, his personality was so fucking intense, I could only handle it in small doses and was always relieved when he was gone. Random Saturday afternoon, I get a text. Yeah. You get the idea.

This went on for a couple of months. Until one day, the text was something like, “I miss your face. I miss your gorgeous smile and your awesome fucking giggles and your dimples. I need to see you.” (I don’t have dimples.)

Uhm. What? Really? Since when do you say shit like that…my eyebrows are raised, and I’m skeptical. But flattered. And charmed.

“I’m fucking serious! Can I come see you?”

Duh. I mean. It’s been a while at this point, and I could use another marathon Dirking. “I’m warning you if you say yes, I’m gonna stay a while.”

How long is a while?

“I dunno couple weeks”

You sure about that? Just a couple weeks?

“Yup, I gotta be on the road soon, so it can’t be longer than that.”

~

And so began Part 3: Cohabitation. Not trying to be all cliff-hangery, y’all. I can only handle this shit in short bursts.

More to come.

 

Part 1: The Reason

Over a year ago now, I wrote about gingers, specifically the abundance of gingers in my foray into the Portland(ish) dating scene. I directly referenced a few, in particular. I ended up taking a chance on one of those gingers; I believe I referred to him as something like the “simple, but wild one.”

Why on earth would I saddle myself up to a “simple, but wild one”? I’ve asked myself that same question, as have some of my most important friends in the world. (Looking at you, Tomas and stupidityhole and Cheeky.)

One of the easiest conclusions that I’ve come to is this: Despite moving across the country, escaping my own personal hell that was Louisiana, to pursue a lifelong dream of the Pacific Northwest…I found myself soon fallen into the same patterns, the same rut: that of work, cheap fast food or no food at all, bingewatching some bullshit show, not being able to focus on reading…on words, and spending most of my time alone and moping, in bed. I knew a physical move wouldn’t fix anything other than the immediate surrounding stimuli that fucked me up on the daily in Louisiana. I knew it would take real effort. But I was failing at it.

So I started dating. I never felt comfortable doing so in Louisiana, partly because my better-part-of-5-year-separation took that long to culminate in a divorce, and partly because I’d have never been comfortable dating there. Running into my ex while out on a date, or even trying to date someone and get serious with someone in a place I knew I couldn’t stay. Couldn’t live. Couldn’t breathe.

So I started dating. Dating sites, of course. How else was a recluse going to meet anyone? I met some terrible people, but I met some damn good people, too. I had some fun. I had some prospects for serious. (I learned quickly that in modern dating, one has to openly profess they are monogamous if they have any hopes of landing someone who isn’t into “ethical non-monogamy.” Y’all. You do you, but that’s just not my jam. I’ve tried to be open to it, but it’s just not me. It’s so far out of my comfort zone that it can only end in misery.)

I also quickly learned that, while I wanted someone whom would date me exclusively while we decided whether or not we were compatible, I also wasn’t ready to plummet straight into some til-death-do-us-part thing. Another thing I learned is that I get bored easily. Very easily. I don’t want to sit on the couch, night after night, bingewatching tv. I don’t want to waste my life away watching other people live theirs. I don’t want to talk about politics, every single day, day in and day out. And no, I don’t want to rush into marriage and move into your parent’s farmhouse, for fuck’s sake.

I wanted…needed…craved…excitement, stimulation, new.

Enter the “simple, but wild one.” I’ll come up with something to call him at some point, but for now, that will do.

He was wild. He was unpredictable. He was untamed. He wasn’t interested in anything serious. He wanted to go out. He wanted to do things. And oh dear god, was he fun. The most fun I’d ever had with a boy I was seeing regularly. There was an edge of danger to it all, and it was fucking thrilling.

And so, I allowed myself to get carried away with it. Sucked into his insane fucking charisma and magnetism. I willfully turned a blind eye to the enormous red flags that anyone who’s ever known him can see (like his extreme levels of narcissism and sociopathy and alcoholism). I willfully entered into a thing that caused everyone I knew – including the few of his friends I was allowed to meet – to seriously inquire, “What the hell are you doing with him?” (That question got more and more searing as time went on, more and more pressing, more and more concerning from the asker, and more and more telling to me of just how obvious it was to absolutely everyone what a brutal fucking mistake I was making.)

But, son of a bitch, I was having fun. I was living life with reckless abandon, something most people get out of their systems in their teens. Something I’d never done.

That. Is the reason. Well. That is the surface reason. More reasons will be expressed in future chapters. Like the whole, I lived so much of my life in fear of winding up with a replica of my father. And I did. Not only did I “wind up” with him, I dove headlong into it.

This isn’t a tale I can tell in one sitting, hence the parsing of it into chapters. I don’t have the energy for it, nor do I have the desire to give it that much time and attention in one sitting.

But that. That is my version of a beginning for this. That is my reason for what came to pass.

M is for That’s Like So Metal, Ohmygod Becky look at her butt, I mean blood

So I’m at this bar, right? I’m not actually in the bar; I’m standing outside, hiding in this little nook, waiting for someone. It’s cold. It’s fucking cold. I’m wearing two pair of socks in my docs, jeans, a cami, a t-shirt over the cami, a flannel over the t-shirt, a hoodie over the flannel, a beanie snugly perched atop my skull, and the hoodie pulled over that. As I said, fucking cold. (And apparently, that turns me into someone whom “looks like she’s standing in line for a Pearl Jam concert in 1994.”)

I’m near the East Coast now. Near. Definitely in the Eastern Time Zone (is that even what it’s called? I don’t fucking know.) Standing outside on a frigid October night. Downtown. Outside a metal bar. Yeah, you read that right. A metal bar. With this incongruous name. Like “Gilligan’s Island,” only that’s not the name, but it’s close enough to give you an idea of the incongruity.

This metal bar is a haven for disenfranchised twenty-somethings, who aren’t really disenfranchised. They just like a certain look and a certain style of music, and they think it makes them cool to pretend to be disenfranchised. It doesn’t, but they’ll figure that out in a few years. Or they won’t, and they’ll turn into the old fucker who wouldn’t leave me alone. “Why are you standing over here in the corner, looking all beautiful and alone? You’re so beautiful. You’re like an angel. Can I touch your face?” Please. Don’t. Thank you so much, but please. No. “But why are you over here in the corner? Why aren’t you out on the sidewalk with everyone else? Why aren’t you standing in the street?” (Yes, he was fucking hammered.) I’m standing here, because I’m hiding. I don’t want to be seen. I don’t want to be noticed. I’m waiting on someone, and this is where I’m comfortable waiting. “But but…” (you get the idea) So yeah. I hope they figure it out before they turn into that walking pile of sadness.

I end up trapped in my little corner (that’s what happens to corner-seekers, FYI), hemmed in by this pack of Goth Metal Grunge hybrids. Gretals? Yeah. Let’s call ’em Gretals. So the Gretals are initially three dudes. Bitching about their ex-girlfriends whom “just totally didn’t get metal, man. She like didn’t understand that there are genres within genres and shit.” (I think the word you’re looking for is “subgenre,” Gretal.)

Then their new girls show up. The ones who are “so metal, man. I’m so glad to finally have a metal bitch.” (Yeah.)  The following snippets are from the She-Gretals:

Oh my god, girl. (Restaurant X) would like ohmygod so totally hire her cuz she has dreads and everyone hires dreads like totally.”

Yeah. Their new girls are so metal, man. This was followed up by a serious conversation about how one can determine another chick’s “metalness” by the colors she dyes her hair.

And then there was this.

There are like no hot available men in (X City). And all the hot chicks are bitches, including my friends. I’m like attracted to two different types of people, so we just share each other. That’s living metal, baby.”

And.

I feel so spooky, and I love that you’re spooky. We should fuck.

Blood wrestling. I love blood wrestling. (What’s blood wrestling, inquires He-Gretal.) It’s like when, like, instead of mud, you cut yourselves and wrestle in blood. It’s so fucking hot. And metal. (Looks at the she-gretal she keeps drooling over.) We should totally finish our wine, then blood wrestle.

Most of that was said by the she-Gretal who kept showing off pictures of a scar that looked like a skull when she pulled the bandage off. “Isn’t that like totally the most metal thing you’ve ever seen? I’m so metal right now, I can’t even.” Yeah. Neither can I.

Now, here’s the thing. I’m not a metalhead. Never have been, and I don’t pretend to be. But I have a niggling suspicion, call me crazy, that NONE of that was metal. It was all I could do to keep from laughing out loud. I instead entertained myself by live-texting the ridiculousness to the person I was waiting for.

Once I was rescued, we fled the scene for a bit – so as to shake the proud robber of abandoned hurricane homes. Yeah, “you’re just like a little angel lighting up the corner” dude was from Louisiana. Bragged about robbing homes of the wealthy during hurricane evacuations. Real winner, that one. (He got all mopey and apologetic when I failed to be impressed and was instead saddened by his tales. But that’s hardly a credit to him.)

Anyway. So. Hi. It’s been a long fucking time. I’m in a different place now, physically, emotionally, spiritually. But I’m here. I’m okay. And I’m actually fucking happy.

So.

Hi.

And C is for suck it, Ezekiel. I finally wrote again. Now, piss off.

 

Gingers and Math Professors and Bhagavad Gita, Oh My.

Y’all. Something is up with Oregon. I mean aside from triple-decker man buns, obsessions with microbrews and whiskey, and wannabe hipster bro-boys. I’m talking about the ridiculously high ratio of gingers to the rest of the population. At least, I mean that’s at least a thing in the dating pool. Not that I’m complaining; some of these gingers are smokin’ fuckin’ hot. (Uhm. Maybe most of them. Which is weird, because as an aesthetic, I was never interested in gingers. I mean, I’ve always been a fan of ginger flavor – ginger beer, ginger snaps. But ginger boys? Too…pale. Oregon is changing my mind.)

If you stacked all of my dates up on a weirdass live human bar chart, the tallest bar would be gingers, by far. (This is not intentional.) At one point, I may or may not have been casually dating three gingers at once. One of them was pretty simple, but funny and wild as hell. Another of them was a super country libertarian boy (yeah, I passed pretty hard and fast on that one). The third was fucking brilliant – this weird dichotomy of former military and current anarcho-philosopher turned psychotherapist with a fucking PhD. Oh…was he yummy. Lemme tell ya… Too bad he was emotionally inaccessible and a bit of a sociopath.

Last night, I had a date with yet another ginger. A math professor. Yep. Another weilder of a PhD. (No, stop picturing a 65 year old in a tweed blazer with elbow patches. Fuck, I just planted that image, didn’t I? Stop picturing it!) Shy and awkward over text. Funny, witty, and deep in person. In between covertly checking him out (holy shit – since when do nerdy geek boys lift??) and getting coached on how to play pool, I was alternately laughing my ass off and diving off into deep conversations about math, the universe, string theory, self, other, the Bhagavad Gita, and Eastern Philosophy. With wild fucking abandon. Yeah, that’s the kind of thing that rocks my socks.

We did a bar crawl – my first ever, I think – and drank. A lot. Well, my a lot is just a little compared to seasoned drinkers. I don’t drink often. So, the two jumbo-sized ciders and the sangria had me in orbit. (Oregon makes sangria with wine AND tequila, y’all, at least at rooftop bars in college towns. My name is Stephanie, and I approve this message. (That fucker also came in an oversized, don’t think you can call that a pint glass anymore, pint glass.)) I wasn’t wasted – those three drinks were spread over about three hours – but boy, I got spirited and (only slightly) wobbly.

We walked it off, then looked at the stars. Man, there’s so much less light pollution in that little town than where I live. It was glorious. We listened to Irish folk music and Ravi Shankar and had the deepest conversation I’ve had in ages, punctuated with sass and smartassery, crude jokes, and ribald laughter.

It was incredible.

That charming, brilliant, Irish bastard.

And it’s almost a 100% certainty that I’ll never see him again.

Why? Because out of this abundance of gingers, only one of them has been interested in more than a single date (see simple but wild boy – and he’s not in it to win it, either). And it seems the smarter and more philosophically inclined they are – ginger or not, but especially the gingers – the less likely they are to be interested in anything even remotely serious.

Unfortunately, what dating is teaching me is that my interests border on the fucking unattainable. If the guy isn’t a deep thinker, I’m not interested. If the guy can’t banter, I’m not interested. If we can’t talk until 4 in the morning (yep, last night was a late one) about anything and everything, with no filter, I’m not interested. If we can’t enjoy comfortable silences, I’m not interested. If all conversation is all about him, I’m not interested. If all conversation is all about me, I’m not interested. If conversations are about things or people, I’m not interested. If conversations aren’t about ideas and thoughts and philosophies and weird little eccentricities of self and universe, I’m not interested. If I’m not laughing until I’m doubled over in pain, I’m not interested. If he isn’t a little….wild, rough around the edges, I’m not interested. And every. Single. Motherfucker. That I’ve met that has those qualities – the ones I AM interested in, are “ethically non-monogamous” or “polyamorous” (welcome to fucking Oregon) or strictly interested in an “FWB” or “NSA” situation (yeah, I’m learning a lot of fucking acronyms lately).

And it feels strangely like the longer this carries on, the less interested *I* am in something long-term and serious. Sometimes I think I’m *too* fucking adaptable, because I don’t want to compromise my personal convictions, the ones I have just for me. But at the same time, I don’t want to go back to being a complete and utter hermit, either, afraid of the opposite sex and what they do or don’t want from me.

Dating is nice. But it’s also terrible and unpredictable and scary. And I’m fucking sick of it. And also wish I had one tonight. (Oh wait, I did. But after the stellar night with the Jacked and Ginger Buddha, there’s no way I could meet this other guy. It would have been a soul-sucking exercise in tedium. So I canceled.)

See. If I don’t even know what the fuck I want, how can I expect others to know what they want? I mean. Every time someone does want something serious with me, I’m the one that’s not interested. I “don’t feel a connection,” or something on that laundry list of elusive but critical qualities is missing. I’ve totally ditched boys for lack of banter. And I just ditched one for lack of depth/connection. I don’t wanna talk about tv shows and YouTube political commentators all the damn time. I wanna talk about Plato and Buddhism and Experiencers/Enlightenment. Fuck those fucking gingers for dangling that fucking carrot and running off because they wanna be deep…with a shallow girl.

Fuck those fuckers for making me think it’s possible, because there’s no way in fuck I can settle now. I know what’s out there. I’ve known it for a long time, and I’m just getting it reinforced now and then. (Don’t get me wrong, most of the people I’ve been on dates with are horrible. I have some horror stories to share with you people! But sometimes…the veil is parted, and I get a glimpse of what could be. And I know…fucking. I know, I’m not digging too deep or searching for something imfuckingpossible.) So fuck those guys…and thank those guys.

Fucking gingers.

It’s All About the Hustle

I’ve been hustling. And I do mean hustling hard. I’ve got two side hustles going on, on top of the full-time job (which I’m actively seeking to replace with a different full-time job elsewhere – never satisfied anymore, it seems).

One is the tutoring gig, which is frankly more trouble than it’s worth at this point because of an extended commute and a low cut of the pay. But I’m committed to seeing the school year through. They’ve got another month in these parts.

Second hustle is a writing thing I’ve been doing. Fluffy SEO padding shit to trick google. (They probably think I don’t know what’s up, but it’s fairly obvious it’s all bogus to do some hardcore SEO driving. You know, bolding keywords here and there. Burying a “moneylink” in a sea of non-competing, vaguely related links. Appending exactly three license-free stock photos and one embedded YouTube video. Yeah. Fun stuff.) But you know what? I’ve decided that I don’t care. I’m not screwing over any people with the BS articles and blog posts. I’m helping to trick a search engine that tricks people anyway. And while it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth, at $15 a post…I can’t afford to linger too long on my reservations. I figure…keep this up a couple of months, and I’ll be back to salient. Quite frankly, that outweighs ethics at this point (to a reasonable extent, anyway).

What does bug me is that the hustle further stymies my own words, because damnit I’m churning out four to eight of those suckers a day on top of my day job. But I don’t know how long the little gig will last, so I’m gonna milk it for all it’s worth.

I think…I just needed to vent that. And say that, no…I’m not trying to disappear. Again. Doesn’t mean I won’t. But it’s not my intent.

One day at a time.

One day at a time.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some hustling to do.

Adulting 101

  • 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!

Oh. And. HI!

Fuck You, Jiminy Cricket

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.

Ahem.

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 Jiminy.jpgdeath 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 Ubiquitous 2016 Wrap-Up / Navel-Gazing New Year’s Post

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.

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Accidental Penis: A Counter Stain

One of those standard update thingies.

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.

House Stuff

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 ksofmusemeweeks). 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!

Job Stuff

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.