Can we ever go back…

June 14, 2020. Ouch. Another unpublished draft of my rage is below. Reading these are therapeutic and a challenge for me to put some larger unhappiness to rest. As I’ve mentioned in my recent posts, I lost one of my best friends, and former partners, to cancer. I’m not feeling “Grab life by the horns” so much as “Pick yourself back up because no one else will.” It’s not a cry for pity, it’s a resolution.

“Not everything was a dumpster fire as 2020 slid into mid-winter. No really, there were some good moments, great moments… Personally speaking, it was supposed to be the year, when bad stuff stop happening long enough for me to get a decent grip on things and right the sinking ship that was my *cough *cough, early 40’s. That last part is still debatable, it may say that on my ID, but I mentally stopped maturing, aging, after 27. No one tells you this when you’re younger, that there’s a good chance you’ll fly through an entire decade and then some without realizing the numbers ticking by.

I realize I’m harping on this, but aren’t you? Taking whatever plans you had three months ago, the pieces of a life you may have been enjoying, and finding that square peg and round hole aren’t working. Right now my life looks like a 1,000 piece puzzle painted entiredly in black, and I’m only finding a few pieces a day that connect. Those connected pieces, however small, fill me with a purpose even if I can’t see the finished goal anymore. I understand many people are dealing with kids, wrecked plans for the year in addition to their own personal goals and I empathize. I am part of a secret society of people (mostly women), that are professionals at putting others first, ourselves last.

Now, in light of #BlackLivesMatter, COVID-19, all the destruction our President has enacted to destroy our relationships with other countries, our environment, our education, our bodies, I can go on- it certainly looks like a dumpster fire we can’t put out. I feel guilty wanting to put myself, my happiness, my goals, first. When you’re the only one that runs the business of your life, you have to. I want to know how to strike a balance. How to be more self aware, more sympathetic, to stand up for others, to enact change. I’ve spent a large part of my adult life doling out drinks at my bar, dealing with men’s lechery and idiocy when alcohol is added to the equation. Then the general ignorance of everyone who treats service-industry people as less than them- uneducated, someone to touch or speak to in any horrid manner.”

So let’s talk about anxiety…

Wow, October of 2020 I wrote the passage below but never hit submit. Like all those texts we rant hard on, then in a fit of passion hit ‘send’…or delete. Why do we do that? Is it anxiety boiling over and we finally pay attention to the mess and proceed to cleanup? Perhaps, or maybe it’s knowing our words will fall on deaf ears, or encourage a fight. For the record, I still feel as passionately about my “restaurant rage” (angry late young-aged woman shakes fist at sky). I won’t cop to middle-aged, no no, not yet.

I’m angry for more selfish reasons (but are they selfish?) Restaurant work still pays my bills, albeit poorly, and I’m seething to get out (that’s 100% on me). I’m craving support from friends I’m not getting (but we’re all suffering from the loss of our friend who was my former partner). An old friend posted to Facebook- “Do you hang on to connections that don’t serve you? Do you know why?” My shortened answer, for here, loyalty to the past. To a place we all worked in, to another friend who passed from cancer, and now for our friend we laid to rest last week. A lot of these friends moved away, and to be honest, I don’t keep in touch with because it’s tough to admit that we shared time and place and memories, but not a close friendship. Some moved and I do keep close. I’ve been questioning friendship and what that means to me, and what I actually need from people. Being in my 40’s is the hardest part, so many have kids and spouses that take up 95% of their time. I like kids, but they are adult-friendship killers. Unless, of course, you also have kids.

So, as a childless, unmarried woman of a certain age, I’m learning to seek out those who better serve my emotional and intellectual needs, as well as my interests. Regardless of your situation, I gently suggest you do too.

“It’s troubling to continue addressing this, but as I live in the DC metro area, besieged by election and Supreme Court atrocities, the feeling is climaxing. I’ve long dealt with anxiety and depression, and have managed to curtail the worst of its ugliness, until now. I’m seven months into being “unemployed” or as I’m starting to call it, again, under-employed. Working part-time delivering food and alcohol for my company, and also making drinks for the outside of our restaurant, the only spot to enjoy food and drinks anymore. It’s fine, it’s “fine”. It’s hourly, not tips, I doubt many know the tips they are leaving don’t go to us, but to pay salaries and keep the lights on. I shouldn’t even be mentioning that here, but I’m getting fed up when I see the generosity people are offering, thinking it’s helping us keep our lights on, our bank accounts full. It’s not. I don’t want to bite the hand that feeds me, as this payment in cash every week for my hours leaves me to collect unemployment. I don’t want to be on unemployment, I want to be a functioning member to society, to my life, my future. And I’m sorry, but I can’t do that on 30-40% less salary. Not in the DC area, where depending on where you live, rents have not eased up. I have never wanted to pack up and run screaming in the other direction more in my life. I live in a very-well-to-do neighborhood that up and ran away with being affordable long ago, but I kept hanging on because I made a good living, most of my friends are here, and it’s safe.

So back to that anxiety, see, it’s always been there, but kept hidden. Hidden by the “safety” and “comfort” of my job in a profession that has been decimated by this pandemic. Never did I think bartending would go out of style, but here we are folks. People are ordering cases of wine and beer to be dropped at their doors, learning how to make old fashions just like the bar down the street, and building bars in their basements.”

I actually did a thing today…

Watercolor and gel pen

So it’s been a while, yeah? Well, life has absolutely gutted me this past year. I just lost one of my closest friends to cancer, someone I also shared my life with for five years. Losing a “former lover” as a friend put it, is unfathomable. That we salvaged a great friendship is more unheard of (something many don’t understand). As he got sicker over the last year, I started collecting art supplies again, but hadn’t really put many to use. I’ve stared at my old sketchbooks, did a few small painting projects and felt my creative side waking up, very, very slowly. I think it’s called healing. Tiny bites of myself repairing its frayed edges I let get charred, mangled, and ignored. I’d like to do therapy again, but this feels more me- an outlet to pour my feelings into. Actual therapy *sigh*, I know is a necessary must, as unpacking my trauma past and present isn’t going to happen in a clearance watercolor set and graphite pencils. Painting and drawing won’t bring my friend back, just dreams and photos will. But, for now, tiny pieces of me can blend colors, and grab pens, and recreate something I see, or create something I’ve imagined. Emotional and psychological trauma are very real wounds we must attend to, and I hope to work through mine again in this creative, and safer, way. So enjoy my terrible first sketches of celebrities I saw on my phone!

Day 6, the twitch is still there.

I’ve been struggling for a while now to figure out what to blog about. I’m told that as a writer who is trying to make a name for myself, a living out of this, I needed to have a blog. Several people told me to write a stream-of-consciousness blog, and I’ve always felt that wasn’t me. No one wants to listen to my rants on the restaurant business, how at 41 I’m bartending and managing full-time again, and my eye has been twitching for six days. I needed a topic, an assignment, like wine, or coffee, or cats, something I can focus on. So, on I dwelled, my days filled with wine, coffee, and cats, and today, on Day Six of eye twitching, I decided to give it go. I’ve already hauled ass to the bank to deposit cash the moment the bank opened, since I’m broke as all hell, and I’ve already yelled at another driver. Oh yeah, I have mildly controlled road-rage. I won’t cut you off or do something dangerous but having learned to drive on the backroads of Virginia AND in Brooklyn, NY, I have a zero patience for your terrible abilities behind the wheel. You’ll know its me when you fail to use your blinker (Maryland, I’m looking at you), or three-point turn on the main drag in my neighborhood.

It’s taken several years, and several personal tragedies to concentrate on me and my writing. When you’re the kind of person that puts yourself dead-last in life, dreams and goals don’t get realized. Then one day, when enough strife has zeroed in and torpedoed your sanity into oblivion, you finally start to hear the ideas again. The ideas you used to write down on pieces of paper, napkins, every random journal you find. They’re flying around like in the chamber of winged keys in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. My book, the first in a (hopeful) series, is the broken key, sputtering around, waiting for me to notice it. I’ve started taking a few classes online, my favorite one promises to unlock writer’s block, called Writerrific! So far, so good, wouldn’t be writing here without it. Amazing what a few suggestions, so far, to just declutter my brain and environment can do. I look forward to opening my laptop, to pick up my notebook and pen, and not be scared by it. I guess I’ve no choice but to give this the old college try, which would mean I’d be drowning in cheap beer and vodka cranberries before long, except I’m older and more mature now.

Screw-top bottle of red, you’re mine.