Thursday, 07 February 2013
I am a year and a half away from turning 30 and oddly, or not so oddly because I am absolutely neurotic, I am not handling it with grace at all. 30 is much too close on the horizon. It just found it's first gray hair, wears reading glasses, and starches it's pants. It no longer drinks Coors Light from a pint can purchased at the Krauzers on the corner, started shopping at J.C. Penny, and no longer finds Family Guy to but pee-in-your-pants hilarious.
30 and I are probably not going to be friends.
I first considered age when I was around nine. My friend Kathleen and I would log onto her father's computer to use the AOL chat rooms (the only reason to go on the inter net in the 90's, this was still when a house line ringing would kick you off). There we transferred to the ripe, old age of 16, the age, we believed, when our lives would make sense and everything would be perfect, just like a Molly Ringwald movie.
We had invented our 16 year old selves persona too. We were 5'6, slender, larger breasted (I still pray for this), green eyed high school cheerleaders.
"We have long, brown, shiny hair," I insist to Kathleen as she types our introduction into the chat room.
"Long....brown....hair," Kathleen types with her fingers.
"Shiny! You forgot shiny!" I nudge her out of the way and type s-h-i-n-n-y.
"What's a shinny?"
Basically we wanted to be Kelly Kapowski from Saved By The Bell.
We took our future self on car rides in our red convertible. We took the shiny hair with us too. The wind would whip it around our heads in a halo of rippling light. In fact it would always look as if wind was blowing our hair around, like we were perpetually stuck in a perfume ad. We would hang out at the mall all the time. We only hung around with really hot guys. But no tom-foolery. We were saving ourselves for marriage. No lips would even touch ours until we one day exchanged vows. And those vows wouldn't even come until we had completed the mandatory four years in college. Did I mention we had really shiny hair?
These dreams never came to fruition. I was a pot smoking high school slut and her hair failed to have body or shine. Go figure.
For some reason 16 was when I thought I would feel like I was going to feel like I was somebody rather than as noticeable or important as the folding chairs in the elementary school auditorium. Something about me always felt flawed even before I hit double digits in age and I was torn between wanting people to swoon over me and wanting them to leave me alone. Being flawed wasn't the fear but thinking that everybody else saw it was. I was awkward, strange, and too sweet for my own good. My comebacks always came to little too late. And it wasn't like I was friendless either. Somerset was a small town and who you went to Kindergarten with were the same people you were graduating high school with. I felt that it should have been more.
I did not bother to consider age by the time I was 16 because I was pretty sure that I would be dead by the time I was 20 so thinking about a future seemed irrelevant. I voice this thought often and matter-of-factly in my journals from that time. There is no mention of how this will happen; suicide, drug overdose, dating the wrong guy, car crash but rather an innate idea that this was fact, set in stone, and nary should anything change.
Well, I didn't die at 20, obviously. But I had dropped out of college, been involved in a violent relationship, and then went to a tech school for which I owe my best friend, Sallie Mae, mucho money.
I am not sure if 30 would bother me less if I felt like I wasn't stuck between being a doofy goof ball who still laughs at the word "pianist" and living a ground hogs day existence where I am constantly doing dishes, taking somebody to the doctor, and paying bills. I am torn between still dressing in a way that many would consider "too young" but fear fanny packs and mom jeans. My job pays decently enough but it's dead end employment and I have to wear khakis, the uniform of the underachiever. My brain in atrophying at this job, a place I swore I would stay at for no longer than five years but now it's six.
I have no idea what I want to do with my life.
I ask my friend Kristen if 30 is scaring her.
"Fuckin' petrified," she texts me back.
"I feel like I should be further in life somehow, you know?" I text her in response.
A few minutes goes by and I see she has responded. "I am a bartender at Chilies. Obviously I went wrong somewhere."
This is where it comes to a head in my mind. Shouldn't I be further along at 30? I have no idea because I haven't thought that far ahead and then when I had kids I only was able to see their future, not my own. Shouldn't there be a house with a picket fence, a career, business suits, gym memberships and a yearly vacation to somewhere tropical? Shouldn't I be eating at better restaurants and drinking better alcoholic drinks with complicated sounding names? Shouldn't I have more money in my savings, life insurance, a will and a trustee of my estate? And how shallow of me to assume that these things is what makes one feel adult. I suppose there are no answers. Maybe I could have had these things already. Maybe I would have been bored by it if I did. Maybe those things would have come with their own set of problems. There really isn'y anyway for me to know. I just know that I am not really content with the way things are now which I do not consider to be a bad thing if I could get myself together and light a fire under my ass to make some changes.
I never do big birthday's because my own birthday bores me and always has (though I adore other people's birthdays) however, Kristen and I decided that we are doing it big the year we turn 30 and are planning a trip to Alaska. I know, random place to go. It's pretty much the most opposite place of New Jersey that you can go within America and that is really what all of our reasons boil down to.
So time to cook dinner, throw the four year old into the shower, track down a nebulizer for the six month old (RSV diagnosis today, fun) and then after all that boring, adult crap is done and the kids are in bed i'll switch the serious, adult off and turn on the other Heather. The one that enjoys beer and Cartoon Network.
Wednesday, 30 January 2013
For the past several months I have been resolving my physical health. Not that it was generally bad or anything. Just the basic "eat better, exercise, drink more water, get more sleep, stop smoking, drink beer less."
But in this I failed to notice my mental health which has been slowly sinking into the cesspool that is my brain and now here in the midst of some sort of break down wouldn't you know it? My physical health is starting to suffer.
I am secretive with the life long depression and anxiety that I first started experiencing very young. Much too young. Childhood age really. Because sometimes when I said it out loud I fear that I will sound silly or over dramatic as so many people I know are. I feel guilty over it too because I didn't come from some shit-in-the-gutter childhood like my husband did, a man who takes things with a grain of salt, who can carry the world on his shoulders but still get the recommended eight hours of sleep, who doesn't have heart palpitations, who questions little that has happened to him, who has the ability to shut it all off, who tells himself it is God's will. I come from a middle class home where I never doubted my mother or my grandparent's love. The idyllic upbringing where a brown bag lunch was packed for me everyday, where homework was checked, bedtime stories read, where I was hugged and kissed endlessly and nobody beat or molested me, nobody suffered from drug addiction, nobody was mentally abusive. A plethora of horror I could have been born into but wasn't. I too get annoyed when people claim overwhelming sadness when their lives look like daisy's and rainbows. This is me being a hypocrite though. I cannot judge what I do not know; the things that go on behind closed doors or in people's heads. One wonderful thing about the world is that we all have different experiences and different ways of rationalizing them and coping. This is one of the reasons I like people so much, why I came back to the Xanga community after a five year hiatus and why I like reading all of these different collections of thoughts and ideas. I may not understand people but I would at least like to try.
I fall into depressive states normally about once a year so this really isn't out of the norm. I easily recognize when I am starting to sink beneath the waves and then I make the necessary steps to drag myself back to shore.
I let this one get away from me though.
Initially I blamed maternity leave for my blues. The boredom of being stuck at home with a newborn who is a shitty conversationalist, trying to rearrange my life to now include two kids, trying to figure out how I was going to be able to have a social life ad keep my hobbies. Regular thoughts for any mother. I figured once I was off my maternity leave and back at work among adults and using my brain to solve problems at work this would lift.
So far it hasn't and it's been almost four months.
Hurricane Sandy hit two days after I returned to work. Living on the East Coast several blocks from the Raritan Bay, the mouth of the Atlantic Ocean, meant that I was traveling from a dark, cold apartment to a dark, cold office. Seven days at home and 11 days at work with no power or heat. I was happy though that all I lost was power and the food in my refrigerator. Across towns homes were being condemned. So I was really very lucky. And then, of course, my two year old car that I had purchased with on;y 40,000 miles on it broke down and needed $1,100 worth of repairs. I was broke from maternity leave. Thanksgiving was less than two weeks after we got power back so nobody was really in the mood. My daughter was sick over a Christmas that I could barely afford but struggled to try and make magical. She couldn't care less and I was exhausted anyway from dealing with a newborn. Somewhere through all of this I found that i had stopped calling friends, having sex with my husband, eating, sleeping, and was snapping at my four year old on a constant basis, something I had never done.
I let myself slip down the rabbit hole and I have told no one until recently when I called my father who, too, is crazier than a loon.
I have generally been anxious which really starts to take a toll on the body, though my friends are envious that in times where I am lacking any sort of mental well being lose weight as opposed to gain, as many people tend to over eat when they are stressed and I go the opposite way. They can have the weight loss if they are willing to take the others stuff; the heart burn, the nausea, the acid reflux, the diarrhea, the insomnia, the constant waking or waking at 3 am and then being unable to fall back asleep, the shakiness, the racing heart, hot flashes, the lump-in-the-throat that I can't seem to swallow away, the dry mouth, the jitters, the teeth grinding that actually caused me to crack a tooth two weeks ago, the FUCKING HAIR LOSS for fucksake! And that isn't even the mental side of things. I lose things left and right, buried so deep inside my whirlwind thoughts that I forget what I am doing and the reason I was doing it. All the meals I have been ruining because I lost track of time. The times I have been late for work because I forgot where I was going and missed my exit. The "To Do' list I write myself every morning when I come into work and then spend the rest of the day reading it over and over and over again, comprehension of even the simplest task lost amount the other bullshit that has just been compiling in my head. I can't afford to lose ten pounds. I am thin to begin with. Now I just look like I have a drug problem. I'd give anything to gain weight if it didn't mean I had to deal with the other stuff. Please, just take the rest if it means you can lose those then extra pounds.
I have been here before, this place I coined "The Great Below" when I was in my mid teens. I wouldn't call it my "dark place" either; it's actually gray. Gray, foggy, and endless without any dimension or time value. Just a big expansion of endless gray space. The last period of time I was a visitor in The Great Below was the winter I was 21. I lost a period of two months; depression and too many drugs. The time before that was when I was 15. I lost about two years on that one; foggy memories that I cannot really grasp. Snapshots of things that may or may not have happened. I had yet to experience it as a wife and mother. I worry that I am dragging them into this place with me or at the very least forcing them to watch as the slow unravel picks up speed.
I know it is getting bad when I have a panic attack in public. I have gotten those sporadically over the years but the frequency of them recently is alarming. I had taken my daughter to Monster Golf, and indoor mini golf establishment that has a DJ and is illuminated entirely by black lights. We were playing some sort of Whack-A-Mole game when the familiar flash of heat washed over me. This is how they start and it is followed up by the inability to breath, heart slamming against my rib cage, shaking, extreme thirst, dizziness, nausea, and the intense need to run from where I am. Except I couldn't because I had two small children with me. I could only have a death grip on the foam covered mallet as I pounded moles back into their yawning borrows for tickets to use for cheap, plastic toys that I will probably puncture a foot on walking through a dark apartment somewhere in the upcoming week.
I could only describe it as getting into a near miss while driving and realizing that you were only a few feet from injury or death and that you start shaking so badly you have to pull your car over to the side of the road to collect yourself. "Just keep it together, this will pass," I tell myself as I smack, smack, smack away at those moles. And that's the things, why I get so frustrated with these issues. I understand that this anxiety is all in my head, just a manifestation of worries over things that haven't happened or that I can't control. Even when I get a panic attack, sometimes waking me up and so severe I find myself dry heaving over that toilet am I saying to myself "this is just a panic attack. This will be done in a few minutes. You are not drying. This is all in your head." But I am angry at myself that I let it get this bad that they are now coming at random.
I have tried to explain it to the few close friends I have but, as I mentioned in a previous posting, the friends I have now are suited to THIS Heather, the Mentally Stable Heather. Not the Old Heather; the Crazy, Kinda, Sorta Doing Drugs and Sleeping With A Lot of Boys Heather. So to them it's "Oh, problems with the husband?" I hate when that go that route, assuming my misery is because of a man just because their misery is over a man. Or my mother who assumes it is because I am unhappy with my job because that is what would cause her pain and anxiety.
I suppose people like reasons. I do too. I wish I had a laundry list but when you are already in The Great Below it's irrelevant. Just the feeling that I am stuck, that while I should be thankful for what I have and be more humble I should still be somewhere else right now in my life. I feel like I am letting all these good things waste away, that I should be further in my life that where I am now but I didn't even know where I should be going so how can I come up with a plan to get there? I am eroding away as a human being. I am letting my family down, I have failed them somehow but not in any tangible, outright way. I go through the daily motions but they can see through it. And here I am trapped under the weight of the madness I created for myself. And I am angry about it too. I am angry when I speak to my father and realize that he has dealt with this too his entire life and that I am the apple that didn't fall too far away from his own crazy tree. To even use the term "crazy" makes me angry but I do it anyway before anybody else can.
All of this anger and frustration turned out to be a good thing because I finally was fed up and told my husband that I couldn't live like this anymore and if I had to live the rest of my life feeling this way with all the physical ailments that went along with it I would rather not live at all that that is not like me; to stop reading a story when I am already so invested in it. Since I have already had 28 years of life and consider myself invested in it I scheduled an appoint with my primary doctor to speak about these issues and gent a referral to a mental health specialist.
Jim asked me goal for therapy. "To calm the fuck down," I answered him simply.
But to sound less like white trash I suppose I would like to gain the tools to be more proactive with how I live my life instead of sitting around and waiting for things to happen and then become miserable over either worry about things happening, not happening, taking too long to happen; ect. I would like to be more focused in my goals, more organized in my thoughts, feel like I am 28 and not like I am 80.
My grandmother, my father's mom, Kay, lived the life I have currently been living for the past few months. Only she lived it her entire life. It made her sick. It made her bitter. It made her alienate her entire family so that she lay dying at the end of her life with few beside her and looking back at a life that she regretted every moment of. That is my biggest fear. To die alone and full of a lifetime of regrets. Simply put, my goal is to one day look back on my life and think "Man, that was an awesome ride."
Thursday, 03 January 2013
I know most people aren't for New Years Resolutions claiming that they never stick. I can't really fault anybody for thinking that way, most don't, but i am all for people striving to better their lives or fix something that they are unhappy about. Who really gives a fuck what day they decide to start making a change?
With that being said both my husband and myself are about 14 hours into our goal to quit smoking cigarettes.
12 hours and my oxygen levels and carbon monoxide levels are that of a non-smoker. Reading that makes me feel like i've had my lips around the rim of an exhaust pipe, which in retrospect I guess cigarette smoking isn't too far removed. This explains too why many people who try and give up smoking report feeling dizzy or "fuzzy headed." The brain is simply not use to a normal oxygen flow.
Pretty scary stuff but I have known about this for years and it never made me want to quit smoking. The statistics behind it never have. Cancer and emphysema have always felt very far off into the future and I always told myself I would quit well before then.
No, my reasons are purely shallow. I simply cannot justify the cost any longer. New Jersey cigarette prices are insane; my brand with sales tax is $8.55 a pack. We both are pack-a-day smokers, sometimes more as he drives long distances during his work day and my anxiety often keeps me up all hours of the night, nervous energy driving me outside every 20 minutes so I can puff away until I finally exhaust myself and lay down for the night. So lets say you are looking at roughly 16 packs a week between the two of us, that is about $550 a month on something that will eventually kill us and that really on provides several minutes of pleasure at a time. That cost is my car insurance, car payment, and phone bill. Or to put it another way that will drop your jaw, 5 years of the both of us smoking is $33,000 down the drain, or in our lungs. I could've put a down payment on a fucking house instead of being stuck in the renters rut that is so common in New Jersey. Fucking cigarettes. Fucking lack of will power.
Goddamn though i'd be lying if I said I hate being a smoker. I fucking love it! I love how I look doing it. I love rolling down my car window with some Nine Inch Nails blaring (or any other 90's rock band) one hand on the wheel as I cruise around looking like a badass. I love that it allows me to take a five minute from my life, whether it be at home and the kids and husband are working my last nerve or at work when I just need to step outside and get away from my office for a few minutes. I like being one of the huddled masses outside the bar entrance on a cold, winter night freezing my ass off and shrugging sheepishly at the other idiot smokers also freezing their asses off. So many good conversations have taken place on those nights. How am I suppose to meet people now?
I suppose I can start driving with both hands. Or talking to people INSIDE the bar. Or just tolerate my kids and husband better. Pleh!
Of course, that is nothing but the addiction talking and I am aware of this. I often imagine my brain as a separate entity from the rest of my body, a habit that I started during my pothead days when I would picture, comically as it were, my brain squeezing out my ear, handing a "Be Right Back" sign on my forehead, and then spending the next hour rolling around a field of daisies far away from my body. Except now my brain is just whispering all the things about my life that are going to suck unless i go RIGHT NOW and take 30 seconds to walk to the 7-11 that is right next door to my job. Hence I am trying to write this shitty essay just to pass through the craving.
I do have lofty goals that I would be unable to do as a smoker just because the enormous cost consumes everything else. I'd like to take a weekend trip to Boston with my husband for our on year anniversary this spring so we can eat seafood and get drunk. I have a good friend who moved to Vegas and I would like to fly out there so I can gamble. And get drunk. I would like to get a membership to the YMCA in town so Jim and I can get into shape and I can enroll Sophia into a kiddie class and she can meet some kids around her age. My best friend is getting married this summer and I need to be able to afford all the crazy shit that goes along with being in the wedding party. Jim is trying to get himself to Ireland next fall with his club, the AOH, and I desperately want to make that a reality for him.
As you can see i'm about as deep as a puddle
Least lofty is I would hate for either of my two kids to one day become smokers. Every Time I am home and my four year old sees me get up to put on my jacket and boots she asks if I am going outside for a "see-ga-rette." Even though I love smoking I do think it is a disgusting habit and could only imagine how I would taste to any nonsmoker who tried to stick their tongue down my throat. When I smell it stale on my coat or in my car I could gag.
In another 10 hours anxiety will start to set it. Can't wait! In 72 hours there will physically be no nicotine left in my body as it will pass via piss and sweat (which is what I would name my Heavy Metal band if I liked heavy metal or had any musical talent). I've already started reducing the chances that I will have a heart attack in the future and by the end of this week I will probably have a new sense of smell and taste (which could either be a blessing or a curse, depending on how you look at it).
So wish me luck or even better offer me some tips or advice. Though the reasons to not smoke are blatantly obvious I am terrified of this new life venture.
Sunday, 30 December 2012
THERE IS THIS BRIDGE THAT CONNECTS PISCATAWAY TO...
...New Brunswick and goes over the Highland Park Zoo. When my grandmother use to take me and my younger brother there we would pass underneath this bridge, as it was over the entrance to the park. The bridge was about 200 feet high and on the side in large, red letters it said "CRAIG LOVES SALLY." My big question when i was little was "how did Craig reach high enough to write that?" A few years later, my big question is "Does Craig still love Sally?"
I always wonder what drove Craig to risk his life to proclaim his undying love for this broad, Sally. I wonder if they got into a huge fight one night and she yelled "You don't really love me!" and he yelled back "Baby, yes i do love you," and she yelled back "Well, saying it is one thing but showing it is another and you never show it!"
So maybe one night he got nice and drunk and decided to show it by grabbing a buddy or two of his and hanging precariously over the edge of this bridge and spray painting it for her. And maybe he brought her back to show it to her and Sally yelled "But you could've fallen and gotten hurt, you moron!" as she covered his face in kisses and cried because though she acted angry that he had did something so childish and stupid, deep down she was happy he did something childish and stupid for her.
I always wonder if Craig and Sally are still together. I wonder if Craig really meant it when he put his life on the line just so she could stay with him, and that they got married and had kids and every once and awhile Sally says to her kids "yeah, well your father once hung over upside down over the side of a bridge and spray painted 'Craig Loves Sally', and she roll her eyes at her kids but a secret smile will pass between her and Craig. I wonder if they had a happy ever after.
Or i wonder if after he pulled that stupid shit things where better for a while but then went back to the way it was. He went out drinking all the times with his friends while she cried over the phone to her best friend who would promptly bring over a carton of Ben and Jerry's Cookies and Cream and she would cry as she'd choke down spoonfuls of ice cream. Maybe one day they both went off to separate states for college and they'd talk on the phone every day and visit over long holiday weekends and then as time went on gradually the time between calls became longer and longer until one day they stopped thinking each other. They both became involved in new friends, new boyfriends and girlfriends, new careers. I wonder if sometimes Sally comes back to visit her parents in her home town and she drives under the bridge and looks up at the words written so many years ago and she has to pull over her car and cry for a minute before continuing on her way. She thinks back to Craig, her first love, the man she lost her virginity to, and remembers when life was carefree. Before the career and the kids and the mortgage and her husbands parents and car insurance. I wonder how much she misses Craig and if Craig ever misses her.
Life is funny like that. The people you think will be around forever are never around for as long as you thought and the people you thought were going to be just passing through end up staying in your life for a lot longer than you thought.
Friday, 28 December 2012
When I am driving alone in my car and am listening to particular songs that I enjoy more than others I sing enthusiastically. Passionately. Noticeably. Like I am the one who wrote the song and this is the first time I am preforming it for my adoring fans.
I wonder how many people catch me doing this on these crowded New Jersey highways?
I wonder how many are thinking "Look at this jackass."?
I wonder if any realize this is the only time I truly feel free?
- Name: DogEatDog84
- Location: New Brunswick, New Jersey, United States
- Gender: Female
- Member Since: 2/2/2012