27 July 2016

433 a.m.

It's happening again.

3 a.m. get up. Anxiety attack. Take an Ativan. Try and sleep. Play soft music on the headphones. Worry about how my hepatologist will shame me for weight gain. In October.

Shake.

Worry some more.

Look at the phone. It's 330

Start getting mad. Shake some more. Worry about another day at a job that give you money and more anxiety.

Wishing I could be a hermit.

Worrying about returning phone calls.

Try to think of pleasant thoughts.

Failing.

Readjust C-PAP face mask.

Wondering if there is a late night support group for people like you.

Get mad.

4 a.m.

Get up.

Go to computer. Turn on all the lights.

Hate life.

Write in your blog while trying to calm down.

Worry about upcoming class reunion.

Worry about getting tired at work.

Worry about gaining weight.

Worry about being a colossal failure.

Worry about being obsolete.

Sudden movements startle cat. Cat gives me the 'what the hell' look.

Glance at the Bloggess blog. Wonders how she does it. When you can't.

Wonder just how crazy you are.

Write in the third person.

Thinking your wife thinks you're a troglodyte mansplainer.

Noting that in death you don't have to worry about what people think of you.

Wondering why people are afraid of death.

428 a.m. Mental torture.

Wondering if anyone really reads this shit.

Contemplate taking a shower.

Wondering how I got to this point.

Hearing the brownies in the refrigerator call to me and hating myself for wanting them.

Mom said wasting food is a SIN.

Have to eat it before it gets stale.'

Lost 55 pounds a year ago. Gained it all back.

Hating myself.

We all die alone.

Wanting to give up.

Tired enough to go to sleep now.

But can't because it's too close to getting up time.'

And if I do go back to sleep, I'll get up in an hour feeling worse.

Wondering if anyone understands this is torture.

Startle cat again.

Pointless.

Useless. Useless.

25 July 2016

Buying Underwear by Mail

Thank God (or whoever you thank) for Amazon.
The best thing that ever happened to the socially anxious
In fact, I would say, people with mental conditions everywhere probably breathe a sigh of relieve when they realize that they don't have to leave the house to purchase sundries. No, they can get on their best friend the computer, and order them from Amazon.

Just please don't make me have to sign for them
Two short days later, after avoiding the UPS driver (who comes right to the door - ugh!) there they are - whatever you ordered, Just open the door a crack, look to the left and right and snatch them inside to your own cocoon for enjoyment or necessity.

I don't think Jeff Bezos ever thought (or thinks now) that legions of agoraphobic would sing his praises or rejoice in his birth. But it is because of Jeff and his wonderful Amazon that when we don't feel like braving mingling with the People of Wal-Mart . . . we don't have to.

I remember when Amazon pretty much sold only books. Progress can be a wonderful thing.

Imagine the horror of having to go to a store to choose a piece of hardware, say, just that screw and bolt of a certain size and then you feel it creeping closer - the presence of some sales associate who is going to ask you if they can help you find something (because obviously you're an idiot who knows nothing of tools).
So. . . you have no idea what you're looking for, right Mister Man?

Of course, they're only doing their job but at the store, as in so many places, I just want to be left to grope blindly in sweating, panicky peace until, like some blind squirrel, I stumble upon the right size, shape, brand of whatever it is I was looking for.

Now you can browse in the sanctuary of your own living room until you are absolutely sure that THAT particular widget/lamp/sack of briefs is what you want. No rush, no intrusive salespeople, no feeling that the whole aisle is wondering if you're equal parts daft or stupid.

Ordering UNDERPANTS (yes, I said it) by mail is a first for me. I got tired of wandering through the shambling piles of tossed around UNDERPANTS packages at Wal-Mart looking like some scavenger on a quest. Someone nearby must think I get off on fondling so many packages of UNDERPANTS looking for the right size - like squeezing Charmin only with a hint of perversion. I am equally tired of going to the UNDERPANTS display at Costco to find, like most other articles of clothing at Costco, they don't cater to fatties.
UNDERPANTS! Yes, these.

But on Amazon there is no shame. No sideways glances, no accusatory looks from cashiers. Amazon doesn't judge. And I, for my part, utter a silent and heartfelt shut up and take my money.

And, by chance, if the order is wrong, Amazon, in their compassion for us, makes it ridiculously easy to return the merchandise. Just stick the label on and leave it on the porch. It disappears and the money returns magically to my account. No need to stand in front of a harried, gum-snapping judgmental pimply faced kid who will hold your UNDERPANTS aloft asking the entire room 'and what is the reason for this return?'

The UNDERPANTS will arrive tomorrow. Probably in a box that's six times the size of the plastic package (the neighbors will think it's a new toaster oven - splendid bit of subterfuge Jeff!).
The neighbors will never suspect!

So today, UNDERPANTS, tomorrow slacks, the day after tomorrow, we'll see.

I do not begrudge Jeff Bezos his billions. For he hath liberated all the socially anxious people to fulfill their fondest desires without the messiness of human interaction. We can buy UNDERPANTS by mail without shame.

And I am grateful.

Thank you Amazon!

22 July 2016

Seven things I no longer give a damn about now that I’m middle aged.



Yes, it's been eight days. I've been busy. The muse has been hard to catch. You know, I got nothin'

But inspiration came from this Huffington Post article in the, um, 'FIfty' section (which I'm allowed to read because I'm over 50) which bears the same title as this post. 

No I have not received my AARP card. Somehow, their all-knowing computer missed me. I'll have to wait a bit to get a discount on my Metamucil. 
Ever have that 'irregular feeling?'

Anyway, without further adieu (and that's how it spelled, not ADOO, the same way voila is not spelled WALLA or any other botched French), here's my seven:



1.    Sucking in my gut – with a few exceptions (military service), I was born fat, have been fat and will stay fat until I die (probably of fat). And I just don’t give a damn anymore. I have hated buying ‘yo-yo dieting’ clothes and keeping clothes that are too large or small for me at that time ‘just in case.’ An entire industry has been built in this country to shame ourselves over our bodies to get us to buy all kinds of horrific foods and exercise club memberships. I’ve done it all and I am tired of it. Yes, I will probably die sooner. But, face it, unless you’re rich, who wants to grow all that old in America? When we value our senior citizens in the same way we value vapid celebrities, then get back to me about living a long life.

Ham on, ham on, ham on whole wheat. . .

2.       Work – after spending a lifetime of worrying about taking the next step up, I’m tired of the climb and all the sacrifices it entails. I’m in a comfortable spot now and am thankful for it. I did everything I wanted to do and it’s done. No, I’m not in a job I love, nor am I using my capabilities to their full potential. But the great health insurance and time off give me the time to enjoy life more outside of work and the peace of mind that goes with steady employment. Let’s face it – most of what we do at work is futile. In the end, is making quarterly sales goals going to make the world a better place? Is it a matter of life or death? (this discounts those in jobs that really deal with life and death like cops and surgeons). Then stop treating it like life or death. Do what you have to do to stay employed if that’s what you want. I’m tired of lifestyle gurus telling me about my deathbed regrets including a lack of job achievement and satisfaction. I believe I wasn’t put on this planet to spend my life chasing the almighty dollar (making others rich) and worrying about adjusting my resume for my gravestone. Work to me now is a means to an end, not a lifestyle and it is liberating.


3.       Admitting my mental illness. Yep, I’m bipolar2, and deal with depression and general anxiety disorder. What does that make me? Human. You can take your zero-sum no defects world and shove it. I’m far more comfortable around people who struggle with problems than I am with those who put up an unbelievable Facebook-perfect front. And working against the stigma of mental illness is as important as anything I have done in my life. This effort pushes back against the forces of darkness who would lock all us ‘defectives’ back in basements and asylums where ‘decent people’ wouldn’t have to deal with them. Fuck that. Also, having a son with autism also raised my awareness level a thousand notches. It also humanized and humbled me. We all have a right to a decent life and respect.

Wait! No! Um, let's paint the house! Now!

4.       Being cool. I’m going to my 35th year reunion. It took 35 years for me to get beyond feeling lesser in the presence of the cool kids. The cool kids, most of them, grew up and realized that life was not one long photo opportunity. I also listen to classical music and all kinds of music I wouldn’t have been caught dead listening to in my car 30 years ago. And I don’t care.  I’m fat, I deal with mental illness, I sometimes get goofy and act out. It’s my version of normal. I can be three different people in three different days – or hours. Take me or leave me. There is no more liberating feeling than dropping the mantle of being a people pleaser and not worrying about what others will think of you. I realize that all the times my parents embarrassed me growing up was their reaction to being able to let go of this self-consciousness that thwarts authenticity. Be you as hard as it may be sometimes. Like the crew on Mystery Science Theater 3000 used to say, ‘the right people will get it.’

 5.      Death. Of course no one wants to die. But a serious preoccupation with cheating death leads to a lot of obsessive behavior and dashed expectations. Your body will get older. I am finally going gray and not having a fit about it – no Grecian formula for me. Wrinkles appear – spending thousands to fight them and all the other effects of gravity on aging will ultimately result in draining your disposable income in a losing battle. And if you’re doing it to keep your similarly obsessed friends, you need new friends. Sure, it was hard to take for a while, but nobody leaves this world alive and aging is a process everyone must face. It doesn’t mean it’s time to get measured for your casket. The other thing is if you died tomorrow, could you say you have lived enough of a life and been satisfied with it that you could accept death peacefully? I can – now. And with what I see of the future and how our society treats the aged (especially those without means), who wants to be shuffling around a nursing home being treated like a dolt? I have my bucket list and I’m going to start caring more about what I do on my time off than what I do at work. No one ever said on their death bed: ‘I wished I had spent more time at work.’ If they did, I feel very sorry for them. Wait, no I don’t. They were probably type A assholes.




  6.       Politics. I’ve been a Republican, I’ve been a Democrat. Having worked the party game for both sides and actually run for office once (school board), I’m completely over hoping for a political solution to any of our problems. The reason is simple: the human race has not evolved to the point where it can save itself through reason. And that’s OK. Well, it’s not, but what can you do? I know of so many politically oriented people who are mad as Hell – on both sides of the political spectrum – and don’t realize (1) you will never get the world you want and neither will your children and (2) you will take your anger and bitterness to your grave. Who needs it? There will always be the true believers and the ambitious and the out an out psychotic that will seek power and public office and there will always be their followers thinking – this is the guy or gal that will lead us to the great utopia. But it ain’t me babe. I’ve seen and experienced too much to have any hope. Now, I treat it all as it is meant to be treated – as entertainment. After all, in the real world, the people who control the political process don’t give a shit about you – why should you give them your time, money or even vote?

 
7.       Spending money on stupid shit that makes me happy. I drive a 2015 Mustang. I swing between falling in love with the car and castigating myself for buying something so impractical. I could have spent less on a sensible car with more interior room for less money. But I always wanted a car like this and (see: bucket list) when you get to be my age and have just enough money to swing the deal, something you just gotta say, why not? Now I don’t beat myself up over it (sounds silly doesn’t it). No more driving kidney killing small cars and outdated Buicks. Also: I’ve been carrying around the stuff of my life (ephemera, mostly newspapers) all of my life and now, with my basement, I have created a newseum (perfect for a former journo) where I can display all the historic newspapers I saved from my youth including a whole host of sports and news memorabilia. The basement has a built in bar, couches, a big screen and all the accouterments necessary for a personal sports bar and museum. I’m buying frames, lighted beer signs, old tube radios – all the stuff I love that I couldn’t afford to buy when I was younger and struggling. My wife is the same way. Maybe I’ll get to retire, maybe not, but I’m not going to worry about buying something I like that makes me happy anymore. I spent too many years denying myself what I wanted ‘just in case.’ As Coach George Allen once famously said “the future is now.” It’s time for some self-indulgence.

I feel indulged





13 July 2016

Post No Bull

I spent a good deal of time writing a new post that would have appeared here about. . . now.

It was an experimental post that encouraged you, dear reader, to find me disgusting. Sort of a George Constanza reverse experiment. Since I have had a hard time throughout my life making lasting friends and having people like me despite my personality disorder, this was an attempt to do the exact opposite of what I usually do.

That is to say, by coming across as a complete ass, you dear reader would find me cutting, edgy, interesting etc.

And, frankly, I had a ball writing it. I thought it was cutting, edgy and genuinely tart.

Knowing that because of my condition, my perception is quite often skewed, I had my wife look at it first.

She didn't laugh once.

I think, in one respect, she doesn't like seeing me put myself down so savagely, even if it is done ironically.

But she also said it was particularly mean spirited at times.

A big part of what I write has to do with my experiences growing up with an undiagnosed mental condition and talking about my family is a part of that. But this time, my wife felt I laid on the snark with a particularly huge and nasty trowel.

And deep down inside, I know she's right. It was meant to be.


But, again, this is part of the process of trying to understand and control my behavior. It's a perfect illustration of how I tend to offend: what seems funny and edgy to me might be repulsive to you, the reader.

It can be something I write or say. It really doesn't matter. Perceptions are everything.

So I'm going to let it sit in the queue and stew for awhile and come back to it later, possibly for a re-write but knowing that I often get a very different feeling about something from one day to another. Tomorrow, or some other day, I might look back on what I wrote and think 'good God, I almost published that shit.'

The takeaway is that, for many of us, we get to the point where we don't trust our own instincts. And I don't trust mine anymore. It's a byproduct of bipolar.

I won't lie - it hurts. But I would rather follow the advice of someone I love and trust than possibly wound the blog - which has helped me as therapy through writing - than stubbornly insist that everything I write is golden. When I have been wrong before, I've been spectacularly wrong.

I guess it's progress that I can recognize and admit this.

So maybe someday you'll read it in the proper context or maybe not. But I didn't want to hit the hay tonight without writing something about The Post that Wasn't.

Because for me, it's all about working it out in print and learning from the misfires is a part of that.

11 July 2016

The Guy In The Car



So you’re wondering about the guy in the car?

The guy in the car bought it a little over a year ago because he always wanted one.

His parents never bought him one like some kids at school. He knew better not to ask. 
 
He paid his dad $100 for a beat up ’71 Catalina with a bad vapor lock problem. He got the money working at McDonald’s. 

If his dad were alive to see this car and knew what he paid for it, he’d laugh.

The guy in the car paid more for it than he ever dreamed he would.

He paid an extra $350 for that shade of red. Nice, isn’t it?

He didn’t buy it to get laid, he didn’t buy it to drag race, he didn’t buy it to be popular.

He bought it because he wanted to know what it felt to own one before he was too old to appreciate it.

In the beginning, he visited it every night. Just to look at it. His wife made jokes about tucking it in and wishing it goodnight.

He set up his garage like a car wash bay and spent a good chunk of change on car care supplies.
For a while he was like a kid with a new toy at Christmas. He felt embarrassed by this. But he had to admit, it could be fun.

A year later, it’s just a car with 35 more payments.
 
It’s nice. It drives OK. It did not love him back. Deep down, he knew it wouldn’t, but he had to find out.

He still keeps it as clean as he can with the energy he has. He doesn’t take it to shows. It’s not a GT or collectable and besides, there’s no time and he can’t justify spending the money. 

He’s starting to put lower octane gas in the car.

He’s embarrassed he ever felt ‘that way’ about a machine that gets you from a to b.

The guy you saw in the car drove it to his psychologist today. He felt like shit. No car in the world was going to change that.

The guy in the car felt sad about that. 

He remembered the ’74 Montego he drove in high school – as close as he ever got to this car. He remembered it fondly and all the good times that went with it. 

Now he wonders if he should have bought something more sensible.

After all, he is not the kind of person that drives this kind of car. He is neither badass nor a gear head. He is a pretender. And he feels everyone on the road who sees him knows this. And smirks.

You would never believe the guy in the car could be so unhappy. 

How could anyone driving such a car be depressed?

The guy in the car understands no one can understand.

The guy in the car did not have a good session today.

But when he got home, he washed the car anyway. 

Because he feels he owes it to the car.

Isn’t that crazy?

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