Waking Life

I am drinking a mediocre cup of coffee; it’s my second one if I’m being honest. That probably doesn’t sound like a lot, but the mug is 16 oz. I normally drink iced green tea in the morning because DC summer has set in, so I’ve got a bit of a buzz going. Though it’s basic, I put four Splenda in it, so at least it feels like dessert going down. I normally add a plant milk- coffee tastes better with fat- but I’m out. I need to go to the grocery store, just one of the things I need to add to my growing To Do list because I’m ready to get out into the world again.

It startled me when I realized I hadn’t written anything since the end of May on this web site. I get so busy with e-mail and Facebook that I forget to be a writer in public. Facebook is easier because I can write in short snippets and it’s not a large, blank page staring back at me.

I have a different “voice” over e-mail, and I like who I am when I write them. I tend to make them weighted because I can let myself go with one person or a group of friends. It’s not so easy with my hundreds of subscribers and thousands of casual readers. It becomes intimidating when I think of it that way, so I need to go back to framing it as writing only for myself, an e-mail from me to me.

Since I’ve come back from Texas, my depression and anxiety has flared up to an enormous degree. It’s another piece of the puzzle when I think about why I haven’t been eager to write (or engage, really). It’s frustrating because with mental illness, I can’t point to where it hurts and I can’t vocalize what will make me feel better. I legitimately have no idea. I have tricks to fool myself into a brighter mood, like putting on gangsta rap with a great hook and lots of bass, or at the other end of the spectrum, ABBA or Aqua.

Today, it’s the Argo soundtrack, because I’ve been writing to it for years. It helps to go back to music that encourages body memory, the feel of typing into the night even though it’s 11:00 AM. Night is when I’m the most vulnerable, which I feel is universal. Conversations that happen when the sun go down are different than the ones had when it comes up.

For instance, during the day I am unlikely to admit what I’m really pondering. It is the barbed wire fence around my emotions, and how much I’m willing to take it down depends on the day. I get the most defensive when it comes to my lack of a love life, because I  think I have good reasons for not wanting someone to walk around in my inner landscape, but as more and more time passes since my disastrous break up with Dana, those reasons don’t seem good enough for other people. I grow weary of people asking why, as if it’s their right to know and try to the be judge and jury of my answers. I want to live life at my own pace, which is infinitely my choice. I just want to tell people, in the words of an old Texas gun safety video, “leave it alone. Don’t touch it. Call an adult.”

My reasons fall in many percentages, but the largest piece of the pie is that when two adults are in a relationship, it is codependent unless both people are strong in themselves. One of my favorite quotes from Khalil Gibran in The Prophet, paraphrased, is that couples should be like trees, not entwined at the trunks, but the branches. I am not that person yet, and I currently have no indicators as to when it will change. Because I am incredibly sapiosexual, I will be sparked eventually by the way someone thinks and interacts. It has happened three times over the last five years, but something hasn’t been right in every case, mostly timing. For instance, my admittance of feelings led to the conversation of “I’d totally be down for dating if I hadn’t just started dating someone else.”

Just to be clear, I thought I was admitting feelings to someone who was single. It wasn’t as if I knew she was with someone else and didn’t care because my ego was big enough to think she would jump at the chance to date me no matter her status. I also didn’t think of her “that way” until Samantha saw us together and said we looked cute…. and then, of course, I had to overthink about it before I said anything, and by then it was too late. This was about a year and a half ago, and since then I have been battling the up and down of depression medications, and if you’re taking them as well, you probably know what I mean. For the uninitiated, the downs mean lack of lust for life, much less anything else. However, I do enjoy being chilled out and relaxed, and that more than makes up for lack of a partner.

I also know that when someone does tilt my vision their way, it probably won’t come through searching profiles on web sites. Every date I’ve been on by doing so felt like a job interview, stiff and uncomfortable to the point of nausea. I just feel done when it comes to internet dating. I’m over it.

I am the happiest when going out alone or with close friends, those that have become as close as siblings while I wait out disinterest. When I’m alone, I am very good at chatting up strangers, so it feels like I’m meeting up with friends I haven’t met yet, as opposed to being insular. I am very much in love with my own thoughts, and I want to wait until I feel that way about someone else’s. I also feel that waiting is appropriate until I don’t feel like my crazy spatter is going to stick to their clothes. That seems like cruel & unusual punishment.

The smallest piece is not feeling ready to compromise or share. I enjoy not having to check in with anyone about where I’m going or when I’m going to be home. I don’t want a relationship to feel like an obligation instead of a joy. The woman I picture is drop dead gorgeous, smarter than I am, and has respect for the fact that we will not share everything. There is a box inside me that I will never unlock for anyone, for any reason. Lack of privacy or jealousy on her part would ruin everything.

In short, I would give my heart to the right person, but I’m not going to settle for the wrong one, even if she is a basket of hotness. More than one person has been worried I’ll be an old lady with seven cats.

Well, what in the hell is wrong with that? I wouldn’t necessarily choose it for myself, but I’d choose it every time over being irritated with someone else. As I have said before, relationships are a lot of work, but they shouldn’t feel like trying to nail a square peg into a round hole every damn day…. and those relationships are worth the wait.

As is, I hope, waiting for a new entry.


When I Work

I have an app for my phone that keeps track of my schedule called “When I Work.” I also have a Google Calendar feed from the pub that syncs with my personal calendar so I can see work and social commitments all in one place. You know why this is so helpful? I rarely know what day it is. Since my weekends are no longer on Saturday and Sunday, life is simply a blur from one shift to another. I have reminders set to go off two and three hours before my shift, and when they go off, I get dressed. In effect, it doesn’t matter what day it is. When my computer and phone say “go,” I do.

0d6fba54c423e722f9f3f9ec2fe3b365I’ve tried to keep my schedule as normal as possible by coming home and going to bed at a reasonable hour, but I do not set an alarm. I need 10-12 hours of sleep to restore lactic acid, and if I’m in bed by midnight or 1:00, I have plenty of time. This morning, I woke up at 10:00 AM and stumbled downstairs to make the coffee. My roommate was jumping up and down because she’d just gotten a full-time job, and I really wanted to join in, but my energy level was at ZERO. I remember fondly the days I used to be a morning person. It’s just not possible anymore. By the time I wake up, my Aleve™ and Tylenol Arthritis XR™ have both worn off. By the time I start the coffee, I’ve taken more, but they haven’t kicked in yet. So, when I say that I am stumbling down the stairs, I mean it. The bones in my feet seem not to be strong enough to hold me up. I toddle down one step at a time, as if I have regressed to age three. So, after waking up to the feeling I’ve been hit by a truck, someone yelling “LESLIE, LESLIE, LESLIE!!!!!” is nails on a chalkboard. But at least it isn’t something for which I have to come up with an answer, just listen and say “congratulations.” It’s difficult to be so happy for someone and not be able to reciprocate in the excitement they might want.

I feel I have to catalog every moment of this adventure, because the last time I was a cook, it was hard… damn hard… but I look back on it and think of it as one of the happiest times of my life. With this repository, I hope I’m allowing time to slow down so that I can take it all in. Believe me when I say that despite the pain, it’s worth it.

The dishwasher surprised me last night when she spoke to me in Spanish and I understood every word. She told me that my eyes were beautiful. Since she has brown eyes as well, I said, “our eyes are both beautiful- they are the same.” She said that no, they aren’t, because mine have such clarity. The funniest moment was when she was rattling off what I needed to do in Spanish and I said, “lo siento, mi espanol es muy, muy mal. Habla despacio, por favor” (I’m sorry, my Spanish is very, very bad. Speak slower, please). She said, “that’s ok. So is my English.” I laughed until I cried.

The thing is, though, I am exhausted and sore right up until I get to work, and then muscle memory takes over and energy courses through my body. All of the sudden, I am on fire with passion and drive, when minutes ago I was walking around like I’d just been hit by a truck. When we’re the busiest, on Fridays and Saturdays, I sometimes feel as if I’ve volunteered to be in a car accident by the time I get home.

I’ve also figured out why I am usually in the dish pit rather than the line. It has nothing to do with ability. It’s that there are only three people in the kitchen besides me that understand English, and when none of those people are scheduled with me, it makes more sense to get me out of their way. Not everything can be done with facial expressions. But that’s only part of it. The second is that to my surprise, I’m faster in the dish pit than I’ve ever been, which makes the cooks grateful because we can all get out of there earlier. It has never been my life’s dream to be a dishwasher, but the fact that I can flat do it makes me incredibly happy.  Internal satisfaction is so incredibly high, especially since I have received “honorary Mexican” status. It’s like a video game level being unlocked because I’ve gained so many experience points. 🙂

I also think that the other cooks think I don’t like their food, because I won’t eat at work. We are generally fed “family meal” at the beginning of a shift, but what I have learned early and often is that I’m slower when I feel too full, and just need to hydrate. Every day, I say, “no tengo hambre, tengo sed” (I’m not hungry, I’m thirsty). I wait until after I’m done to eat, and try to eat lunch early enough that I don’t feel too fat and happy once I get there. The other cooks do not understand this, and are constantly offering me rich, rich food. Nothing in a restaurant is healthy unless you go to a vegan joint. Just trust me on this one. Lots of oil, butter, heavy cream, etc. I mean, that’s what makes it delicious, and also what makes me feel like there’s a rock in my stomach.

What I will take, though, is when someone makes limonada in the blender. A little sugar and shaved ice goes a long way. It makes me feel almost human again, often why I have a Coke™ or Sprite™ at the end of my shift rather than a “homemade” beer.

Speaking of homemade beer, the woman that started the brewery, Julie Verratti, is running for Lt. Gov. of MD. The LGBT PAC had a meeting at the pub, and I was cut early enough to make it. Remember in The West Wing when Josh and Sam realize Bartlett is “the guy?” Well, Julie is that person for me. At the end of the meeting, I went up to her and said, “it is such an honor to work for you.” She shook my hand and didn’t fail to notice the tears in my eyes. I’m hoping that at some point, I can either work or volunteer on her campaign…. but that would involve asking her if I could, and I’m not that brave yet.

Mostly because I have no idea what day it is when I work.