You Know I Hate a Pity Party, But……..

I’m feeling like such a fraud lately. I have all my little notebooks everywhere, jotting down beginnings and ideas when they come to me. I’ve got my OpenOffice files full of blog post ideas, story ideas, notes for a few projects, and a fresh section for a major research project I’ve been putting off for years. I even went out and got a Writers’ Market magazine to go through, hoping the ‘contests’ section would motivate me to do something, anything.

And I can’t fucking write anything lately.

I woke up early today and laid in bed for what seemed like forever, even though it was maybe just an hour. I had this bizarre dream last night that I got a job writing and editing scripts for David Lynch, and the currently-napping Bowser Kitten and I moved out to LA. I just laid there after I woke up, trying to remember a few parts of the dream that I could use in my writing……. and it all just went *poof*. Every original thought I had in my head just vanished all of a sudden, and I was left laying there staring at the wall yet again.

I pulled myself out of bed, made a pot of coffee, and sat down at the computer determined to get a bit of writing done. I had a bunch of kitten cuddles from the extremely sleepy Bowser Kitten, watched a few old Tom Harlock videos, checked all my social media, SnapChatted my sister at work, looked up Jenna and Julien’s soup recipe…… basically, I did anything but write. It’s been more than three hours, and I have next to nothing done.

The truth is that I am stuck in another one of those “this is totally not how I thought my life would be at this age” ruts that is wreaking havoc on my anxiety. Just as I was really starting to enjoy running most days at home, I had to stop middle of last week because of my anxiety. I would try to put food into my body, but it would just come right back out one way or another. I got so bad that I was throwing up at work (when being at work is usually my happy place when it comes to anxiety) and was forced to sit down during my shift because I was dizzy. My anxiety has only ever been that bad once, my last year of university right around Christmas.

I didn’t have a job over the Christmas break that year, and it was a few years before the ever-loving Bowser Kitten came into my life. Since my family is really big on celebrating the holidays, I was expected to stay with my parents for two whole weeks between my last exam and the beginning of the winter semester. I had been sick all semester after being quarantined at the end of the summer with a suspected case of West Nile, and the entire semester had just drained me both physically and mentally. I was struggling to keep up on my school work and had to make the toughest academic decision I ever considered: I dropped out of the Psychology Thesis track and focused solely on my Criminology degree just so I could graduate. I had no energy, no ability to focus, and had already dropped pretty much every single volunteer and extracurricular activity I was in at that point, and still couldn’t keep up with the thesis work on top of my other classes. Everything I had been working towards for years was coming crashing down around me, right as I was about to be forced into a “vacation” at my parents’ place.

Now, I love my folks, don’t get me wrong. But my whole world was falling apart right around then. I was trying to figure out where to go from there, what to do with my degree, what I would do for money in 6 months when I was done school. I didn’t know if I would apply for grad school, apply for a career outside of this city, apply for just about any job here in the city, or try to finish the Psychology portion of my degree. I had what felt like a billion options to carefully consider, and it was starting to get to be a bit too much to handle. What finally set me off, though, was that damn “vacation” and the weeks leading up to it.

Again, I love my folks, and they only wanted to look out for my best interest at that time. But they somehow figured that in order to do that, they had to bombard me with constant questions about my future, my goals, my past goals, and my then-boyfriend. I was alreaddy at a point where I wasn’t sleeping because there was just oo much to do, but I was too tired physically to get much done. I spent so much time reading, studying, writing, and researching in my room that I didn’t go out unless it was absolutely necessary. I was isolating myself from the world in my basement-bedroom-kingdom, slowly gaining weight and not coming any closer to figuring out my life. The absolute final straw came when my mother and grandma started bugging me about my weight, on top of everything else.

My already through-the-roof anxiety hit an all-time new high then. I stopped being able to eat pretty much anything a few days before I was supposed to go to my parents’ place. Even plain broth would upset my stomach enough that I’d throw up. Pretty much all I could have was pudding and jello. I warned my parents about this (telling them it was a combination of getting over a stomach bug and stress from school since at that time they didn’t believe in anxiety) and offered to bring my own pudding. I know that your body needs so many calories a day to function, so I was trying to eat as close to that as I could as not to mess up my system any more than it already was. My mother seemed understanding, offering to grab what little I could eat and a big box of saltines for when I wanted to get something solid in me. When I made the trek out to see them, I was greated at the door with sugar-free diet jello and pudding.

“This is the perfect way to jump-start your new diet”, my mother reasoned.

I royally fucked up the next few months of my life after that, unable to fully function, and it had some serious consequences on my life now. My then-boyfriend and I rushed our relationship way too fast, with me moving in with him. That directly led to the 94-days-of-hives incident. I let one asshole professor talk me out of applying for grad school, even though I had the backing of half a dozen others because he didn’t think I was smart enough. I let people talk me out of taking a job in another province, out of a job they saw as “below me” here in the city, and out of focusing on my writing while working part-time. I had no focus, no drive, and just didn’t feel strong enough to do anything.

And honestly, I can feel that all coming back to me once again.

Last week I couldn’t keep anything in me. I have that constant jittery feeling inside me like my heart is full of butterflies and I’m one more forkful away from hurling everywhere. My brain is all over the place, jumping from thought to thought before just dumping everything as soon as I want to focus on it and just going completely blank. I stay up too late and still wake up early in the morning, even though all I want to do all day is hide under a blanket and cry until the world just goes away. I don’t wish I were dead, but I wish I could just go *poof* and stop existing.

The truth is, things around here with the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend are far from amazingly awesome. He drinks, more than he should. That’s actually how we met since he was one of my regular customers at work. He’s toned it down quite a bit since back then, but he still lets himself go way too far too often. One minute he’s asking me to keep on him about moderating his drinking (full abstinence from drinking has never worked for him, so we focus on moderation and control). The next, he’s flipping out and yelling at me for being so “uppity” with him about his drinking. We have the same fights over and over about his drinking, his finances, how much money he’s wasting on stupid stuff like cabs and booze, and his constant lying and hiding things (like more drinking) from me. Then he’ll try to flip the tables on me, complain about my debt (which I’ve been working on paying off like crazy), how much he spends on groceries (which I rarely ask him to do, he just does it), and me applying for jobs around here that he sees as “beneath” me or that he thinks I’m too old to get.

The worst has to be this constant fight we have about my savings. We keep completely separate finances. The only thing we share is rent, which comes out of my account. We each rent a room in this house, with his being a bit cheaper than mine. Every week he gives me $100, which is his portion of our rent. I take that money and put it away to save, and then pay his portion of the rent out my paycheques. No matter if I put his money in my account, pay the rent with it, and then transfer money to my savings, or if I do it this way, I’m going to be putting money away to save. Doing it this way is just a lot easier for me to handle most of the time, and has given me a bit of money saved up to afford a new place and some furnishings so that we won’t have to live in this house with random roommates forever.

For some reason, though, AAB seems to think that he is entitled to this money I have saved. He sees it as his savings too and keeps trying to make demands of me for it. Instead of getting out of this house, he wants to get a car. The issue I take with that is his aforementioned problems with sobriety. I have offered to split on a car with him, but he can’t manage to save money because of how much he spends on cabs and booze. Instead, he thinks that I should just give him money from my savings because I got it from him. Now, in my mind, once he gives me that money that is (and always has been) a rent payment, it’s mine. As long as the rent gets paid, it doesn’t matter if I physically hand his money to our landlord, pay the bills out of money in my account, or hide the money in a jar buried in the backyard. It’s my money. I save most of it, use some of it towards bills and groceries, and use it when it’s really needed to make ends meet (like when my hours get cut drastically for a few weeks). Saving that money, to me, means that I’m ensuring our bills are always getting paid and I don’t have to rely on him for additional money. But to him, me saving that money means that I’m stealing money from him. If I wasn’t going to pass that money directly to the landlord, then I shouldn’t be taking it from him at all. If I’m not passing that money right into our landlord’s hands, then I should just be paying his rent for him out of my account I guess and let him live here for free.

And he’s been bringing this up more and more lately. He picks fights over everything, doesn’t seem to want to leave this house no matter how many strange and creepy roommates we have, and just wants us to do things exactly how he wants them done right now (no matter what other plans we have made together for our future). Anything from a broken glass to me switching shifts at work can set him off. On top of this, my life is falling apart around me yet again. I love my job at the store, love my coworkers, and have been working on my certifications to become a shift leader. I’ve gotten my forklift certification and am getting my First Aid and CPR pretty soon. But if my hours don’t increase drastically very soon, then I can’t afford to keep this job. In fact, if I want to get ahead in life financially and want to keep this job, I’ll have to get a second job just to make enough money to save a tiny bit on my own. My job search is going nowhere, and the number of “Thanks for your application, but we’re experiencing unprecedented numbers of applicants, so no thanks” emails and phone calls I’ve gotten in the last few months is mindblowing. The roommate life if getting old fast, especially with the creepy roommate we have right now. I just want to be able to get our own place, get a fuzzy brother or sister (or both) for very-lonely Bowser Kitten, and live life like a real grown-up. But nothing I do is working.

Last week I made a few discoveries about AAB’s drinking and finances that he had been hiding from me. We fought a lot and spent the whole week sleeping in separate bedrooms. I realized that I have to plan for a future with him and one without him at the same time because I have no clue how long this will last with us. I couldn’t eat at all for most of last week unless I was at work, and this week is only a bit better. I was able to eat most of an omelet today, but have felt like throwing up for the last two hours since I ate it. It’s a struggle to keep the food down. My heart is fluttering like a hundred butterflies are trapped in my chest. I can’t focus on any one task at a time and am jumping between writing this, cleaning, reading, jumping around the room to try and distract myself from myself, and watching YouTube videos.  I am tired and wired and just trying not to burst out in tears every few minutes. The only thing keeping me going is the Bowser Kitten sitting in my lap right now.  He has no real cat instincts, so he needs me around to take care of him and point out bugs for him to chase. He’s the only reason I keep going every day right now. I feel like everything else is just falling down around me, waiting to crush me completely.

I need to get myself ready for work, calm myself down enough to make the walk out there in this snow storm. It’s time for more I’m Sorry Dad, fix my now-cried-off eyeliner, smother myself in moisturizer before I head out into the storm, and find my uniform. Work gets me away from everything here and gives me time to clear my head a little. Working surrounded by alcohol and alcoholics really does a number on my conscious lately (what, with AAB’s problems), but being with my work family centers me. And my shift tonight is partly with my WorkBFF, so I’ll have someone there in my corner.

So, welcome to my total and complete breakdown Sunshine! I’m going to lose it completely any day now!

 

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Took a Quick Staycation

I ran myself ragged over the holidays, and for quite a bit of the past 8 months to be perfectly honest. I put in my 21 and 30-day stretches, worked (and still work) mainly weekends and closing shifts, and managed to out-do myself in the Christmas department this year (“fresh baked goods and handmade treat bags for everyone” was apparently my motto). I announced at the beginning of this year that the days of just being scheduled 30 days straight are over: I need a day off each week to get things done, and will only work on that day if someone asks me to cover their shift and I don’t have other things planned. Still, with a day off each week, I haven’t been able to really relax yet. I finally went to see my new family doctor for a long-overdue check-up and first meeting to go over my medical records, and then spent my next day off getting bloodwork done and thrifting for new work pants.

Oh, and did I mention that I took up knitting, jogging (indoors, in my room), and learning French?

I love organized chaos. I’ve said before, my best year in school was the year I perfected my calendar system. I love having deadlines and something to motivate me. So this year, I decided to try and slowly start mimicking that organized chaos, but in a way that is a bit more relax and beneficial to me. I love to multitask, and a timer of sorts keeps me on task, so I’ve been jogging in my room while watching old episodes of a TVOntario educational French show we watched in grade school, Parlez Moi. The past week, I’ve been doing 40 minutes of jogging and French lessons, resulting in me accidentally jogging 5km back and forth in the bedroom more than once. A coworker gave me her old knitting needle set, and I’ve been working on basic stitches the last few weeks. My hope is to make a nice blanket for the ever-chilled Bowser Kitten before winter ends.

I also started my spring deep-clean a little early this year. I’m starting with the kitchen, reorganizing our pantry cupboard and scrubbing everything out. I’ve wiped out the oven with a cloth and soap when needed over the years, but I’ve never done a full deep clean of it before. Talking to an old roommate, it turns out no one has ever done a proper cleaning of that oven! The window in the door was covered in dirt and grime, to the point it took me more than an hour to get it 90% clean!

I keep meaning to take my days off as real days off and spend at least one day doing nothing, but I always feel so guilty. There is so much to get done around this house, and so much I want to get done for myself. But this weekend, all of that went out the window.

The past week was rough. Things with the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend weren’t so amazingly awesome. Just like any couple, we have our problems and our fights, and this week was a freakin doozy. We really had it out and slept in separate rooms for a few nights before we could really sit down and talk things through. I had bloodwork to get done, ovens to scrub, walls to wash, furniture to move, all while I had no clue what was going on between us. I drained myself physically and emotionally just trying to keep myself together. Add to that the stress of work, my oddly changing schedule, decreased hours paired with increasing bills, and I hit my limit. We both did, actually. Saturday after work, AAB came home and did nothing. He watched some YouTube videos, had a few drinks, and just relaxed. Sunday while I was at work, he did nothing again. It wasn’t until I was almost home that he started his weekly Sunday chores.

Usually, this would piss me off beyond belief. He has the entire day to get a few things done (cat litter, take out the garbage, and do some dishes), and he waits until I’m home to get them done? All I want to do when I get home is take out my contacts, curl up on the couch with him, have a glass of wine and relax. Instead, I have to wait for him to get everything done while I try to unwind from my day (and this Sunday was fecked!), find something to eat, help clean things up a bit, and then plop down on the couch exhausted from my day. AAB has to be up early Monday morning, so we have a few precious hours of weekend to spend together. But this week, we took a Monday Staycation together. I ignored calls from work, and he called in sick for the day.

And it was the most restful, beautiful day ever.

AAB insisted that I stay in bed and just relax. Even on a day off with nothing to do, I’m up and out of bed by 10am at the latest. But I didn’t even wake up until almost 10am that day. Instead of getting up, making the bed, and then trying to relax by wasting time online and reading random sociological studies on mass violence incidents, I just stayed in bed. I downloaded a few new games to my phone, caught up on Instagram videos and Snapchat stories, and relaxed. When I was hungry, AAB made me eggs and toast and delivered them to me in bed. When I was thirsty, AAB grabbed my sugar-free Rockstar out of the fridge for me. I didn’t even get up to shower until after 2pm!

From then on, I did pretty much nothing all day. Instead of watching YouTube AND knitting AND reading AND working on my to-do lists, I just watched YouTube. I sat there and did nothing. I think at some point I grabbed a snack, and I know I grabbed the last of the Bambino from the night before. Other than that, I barely moved all day.

And while I was doing all that…… AAB thoroughly cleaned out the office. He said that I drive myself crazy cleaning while he relaxes on weekends, so that day I was going to relax while he cleaned.

I know it doesn’t sound like much, but it was the exact vacation I needed. I know that if we went away somewhere, I’d be so busy trying to see and do everything there is to do there, I wouldn’t have a minute to relax. Then I’d come back even more stressed than before. Ok, and I am way too damn broke to actually go anywhere. All I needed was a day away from responsibility.

 

Well, the ever-cuddly Bowser Kitten did not want me to get any work done today! I sat down at my desk more than an hour ago with my coffee and a muffin, ready to start an online blogging course and catch up on the news. Instead, I got sucked into a Vine compilation because someone decided I didn’t need to get anything done. He planted himself in my lap, tried to steal my muffin in the cutest ways possible, and grabbed my wrists with his tiny little paws every time I tried to touch the keyboard. So instead of doing any actual work, I just sat there with him and watched some old Vines.

Not that it matters much today. This overwhelming feeling of blah isn’t breaking anytime soon, I think. I went back to work yesterday and reunited with my coworkers. After the long stretches I was doing last year, having two days off felt like an eternity away from them. Being back felt so useless though. With the holidays done and over with, my 6am-2:30pm shift is done. I no longer work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, guaranteed. Instead, the dreaded 4-hour shifts have returned. I’m back to closing almost every single night, barely seeing the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend thanks to our conflicting schedules. There isn’t as much work to be done at the store, meaning we have a lot more “standing around looking for things to clean” time, as opposed to the “throwing cases up on shelves and running around helping 7 customers at once” I’ve gotten used to over the last few months.

This switch in work schedules and responsibilities always leaves me feeling blah. I feel like I’m useless like there’s no point in me even being at work. That feeling bleeds into everything else too. Add that to the cold weather that keeps me indoors more often than not, the shortened days, and those holiday credit card bills arriving in the mail, and I wind up wanting to crawl under my flannel blanket with somewhat comforting Bowser Kitten and just hide from the world.

For a few years now, I thought there was something wrong with me. I mean, with all that joy and sugar from Christmas, how could I be so down right now? Well, it turns out this is a very common thing and there are varying degrees of it. Some people wind up with a case of the Winter Blues like I have. Everything is just kind of blah and pointless, but you can still mostly kinda function.  Others have full-blown cases of Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. The season, lack of sunlight, and lack of time outdoors can take a much greater toll on some people’s mental health than others. Thankfully, I’ve never seemed to be affected by full-blown SAD. I just get down and blue this time of year. Thankfully, there’s a lot of different things that can help mood and mental health. Here are some of the things I’m trying this year to get me out of this funk.

1. Try to eat healthier

I know, this is one of the first New Years Resolutions most people break. You stock your fridge with veggies and tofu, vow to do meal prep every weekend, and then wind up ordering pizza yet again. And you know what? That’s freakin fantastic!

You don’t have to switch from your holiday diet of red wine and cookies to a macrobiotic vegan diet overnight to get any benefits. I like to make little changes, like my muffin this morning. Usually, I would just guzzle coffee on an empty stomach and then wolf down a huge meal later. But yesterday I decided to use up the leftover pumpkin puree I had in the fridge, throw in the last of my flax seed, add some protein powder one of my last roommates left behind when he moved out, and make muffins topped with pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

Another thing to try is to just add veggies and fruits to your meals. You want to shove your face with pizza instead of cooking tonight? Then order a salad to go with it, or keep some bagged salad in the fridge. Then, instead of a meat feast pizza with extra cheese, just get regular cheese and one meat with a few veggies. Ideally, your meal should be 1/2 veggies, but no one is looking over your shoulder and counting. Just put forward an effort to throw some veggies into your meal. Pretty much every meal AAB cooks includes a big pan of sauteed or boiled veggies. When I throw meat into the oven to cook, I like to throw some baby carrots and potatoes in there with it, just in case I’m crunched for time later and can’t manage to make another veggie. We keep frozen veggies in the freezer (because keeping them in the cupboard is a dumb idea), canned veggies in the cupboard (far away from the frozen veggies), and we buy fresh produce bit by bit throughout the week.

2. Guzzle water like your very life depends on it.

I don’t mean start chugging gallon jugs of water, multiple times a day. While it’s damn near impossible to wind up with water intoxication when just drinking water throughout the day, there was a famous case about a decade ago of a young woman who chugged two gallons of water without going to the bathroom in an effort to win a radio contest. I wouldn’t ever recommend going that far with the water. But staying hydrated is important for your health and your mood.

New Year’s Eve, AAB and I had some drinks. On New Years Day, we went off to my parents’ place for their New Years Day party. I had a glass of juice before we left, and then dove straight into the mimosas once we were there. I played bartender for my cousins throughout the day and wound up drinking quite a few mixed drinks and a lot of red wine. The next day, I woke up and had my coffee as usual. I didn’t bother filling up my water bottle, and instead grabbed a half-finished bottle of Coke Zero. At some point int he day, I made some tea. But that was it for the day. I felt like absolute crap. I wasn’t hungover, but I was so slow and sluggish. I couldn’t focus, couldn’t manage to get anything done, and I just wanted to cry all damn day. Yesterday, after my coffee, I immediately chugged two glasses of water. I had energy enough to clean the kitchen, bake my muffins, make a batch of couscous, organize my grocery list a bit, to some stretches, and get some much-needed mopping and hand-scrubbing done on the entranceway floor here. Just drinking water can make a huge difference.

3. Get some sunlight and Vitamin D

A lot of times, I leave for work as it’s starting to get dark a bit, or it’s stormy out. On my holiday schedule, I would be out the door before sunrise, but have plenty of natural light through the big windows at work and running errands on breaks. Now, my breaks are long after the sun has gone down, and most of my daylight hours are spent in the house. Thankfully I have the ever curious Bowser Kitten here who loves to look out my bedroom window and watch people and animals walk by. So I have the blinds open for at least a few hours each day, letting in that natural sunlight.

Another thing I’ve found is that taking a Vitamin D supplement when I’m not outdoors much is a huge help. You get Vitamin D from the sun, so not being in the sun means you’re not getting your Vitamin D. Makes sense, right? Years ago when I was in university, one of the doctors in the school clinic told me to grab a cheap bottle of Vitamin D at the pharmacy in the winter, since I was spending so much time indoors reading and writing. It made a huge difference in my energy levels, my mood, my complexion, even my contact lenses felt better (as strange as that sounds).

4. Get up off your ass and move a bit.

This is a huge problem for me right now. Before New Years, I was on a stock shift. Every morning we would come in, sweep the store out, scan a store-wide divert, run the floor machine, pull stock in the warehouse, put stock away in the store, and then work on the load for the day. Basically, we were on our feet all day, lifting cases of wine and booze, putting away bottles, and just generally keeping busy physically. I got two 15-minute breaks and a half hour lunch on those shifts. The Work BFF and I would head to the coffee shop on our first break for bagels every day. Usually at least half of my lunch was spent running errands. And when we actually did take our last break (it would get so busy most days, we’d forget), half the time I’d run out and do a soda run for everyone or hit the Bulk Barn for a little bag of nuts and a Zevia soda (my new love). I was averaging around 13,000 steps just at work each day.

Last night, I had to job in place and dance around just to stay awake on my four-hour shift. There was no stock, there was no load to work on. We faced the store, scanned every price tag outside of the fridge to make sure the new year price change went through smoothly (it didn’t), and stood around talking a lot during the long stretches with no customers. I’m not lifting heavy things or running through the warehouse moving and reorganizing stockpiles. No, now I’m just standing at my register, bopping along to the radio and trying to resist the temptation to go buy a jumbo bag of M&M’s. A huge reason why I get so blah this time of year is because of that drastic and sudden change in my physical motivation.

One thing I keep up no matter how cold it gets is my walk to work. Right now I’m scheduled 6-7 days a week. Just the 20-ish minutes it takes to walk to work each day makes a huge difference in my mood. AAB went out and got me TWO coats for Christmas this year, and a new Oogie-Boogie hat to make sure I’m warm on my walks. Just walking to work and getting some steps in before my shift is a huge mood booster for me.

Unfortunately, when I’m around the house I am Lazy AF. Our bedroom is so packed with our stuff that there’s not much room to exercise in there. Our tiny little office is so small, there’s no room there either. And the last time I tried to exercise in the living room, I had a creepy-ass roommate constantly peeking around the corner and watching me. I hate working out in front of people, and that was just too damn creepy for me. So, I have to find little things to do around here. I make Spotify playlists and dance around the room to them, sometimes with Bowser Kitten and his four left feet. There’s enough room on the bed for some planks, and I can do stuff like standing donkey kicks and work with light hand weights in the bedroom. I just need to keep up the motivation to keep doing all of this, since it makes a huge difference in my mood for the day.

5. Find a new hobby.

I know, I’ve been saying I’m going to learn to knit for years now and I never seem to get around to it. This is the perfect time to try it, though. When the blah’s hit, stimulating the mind with something new can be exactly what you need to keep your mind from creeping further into crisis-mode. Last year I taught myself to arm-knit, which was a colossal waste of time. I mean, that really thick, chunky yarn is damn expensive! But, it gave me something to focus my mind on while I watched Walking With The Dinosaurs yet again and learned about the mating habits of the T-Rex.

It doesn’t have to be an entirely new hobby, either. Like I said, I learned to arm knit last year. Before that, I had been loom knitting for years. This year, I want to move onto traditional knitting, with sharp needles and all that dangerous stuff. I also plan on writing more, both here and on one or two projects I’ve been making notes on for way too long.

6. Find something new.

Something AAB like to do when we order Chinese food is to order things we’ve never tried before. That’s how we absolutely fell in love with the Moo Goo Gai Pan at the closest Chinese restaurant. Sometimes we Google something to see what it is first, but most of the time we order it anyway.

This is the time when we try new things. There’s a bunch of small restaurants in our neighbourhood, since we live near the local university, that cater to people on a very tight budget. Instead of our usual pizza or Chinese dinner, I’m hoping to try a new place every week or two. There is a vegetarian place just down the road that I have been dying to try for months that I think I will finally hit up!

And as any of my readers know, I watch the same damn thing over and over and over. I have a collection of Vine compilations that I watch over and over. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve rewatched Daria and the first two seasons of Twin Peaks. And if I watch Tank Girl any more, I’ll have it memorized. So to cut through the gloom of the season, I am making it a point of watching new things. Already today I found Cheapest Weddings on Netflix and love it. AAB and I have found a bunch of shows and documentaries online about criminal profiling, serial killers, serial criminals, and crime theories. Even when it comes to books, I’m branching out and going through my huge unread pile. I’m already on my second Twin Peaks book of the year, and I may actually finish reading the Ray Bradbury collection I started last summer instead of rereading Stephen King’s Insomnia yet again.

7. Get warm!

I love curling up with a giant mug of tea, maybe another mug of soup, and a third mug with some noodles or scrambled eggs. In other words, I’m a big fan of stuff in giant mugs. When you get cold, you get cranky. The cold saps your energy and makes you tired and miserable. While it’s unavoidable to get cold ever in this weather, there’s a lot you can do to stay warm, even without giant mugs.

I have a small collection of warm blankets and a Snuggie, all of which were either gifts or I got dirt cheap at a thrift store. I also have a small collection of flannel shirts (and Bowser’s favourite flannel blanket) to curl up with. Even just having a warm hat and mittens this time of year can go a long way as far as keeping you warm. Dollar stores and thrift shops are pretty much the greatest places to be this time of year, with all their cheap warm accessories and mugs (and they’re always freakin hot as hell this time of year, so free heat!). Keep nice and toasty this time of year, and it will help keep the gloom and blues away.

 

I know, this all won’t work for everyone. These are some of the things that help me the most, though, when the blues set in this time of year. My anxiety is pretty high right now, and I wake up not wanting to get out of bed in the morning. But following through with some of this stuff each day really seems to help me. Hopefully there’s something here that can help you, too.

A Day to Come Down and to Think

I wound up spending the night at my parents’ place last night, spur of the moment. The Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend caught a ride home with his mother so he could go to work this morning, so I haven’t seen him yet today. The wonderfully friendly Bowser Kitten has been a big ball of cuddles and claws all day, trying to get as much attention from me as possible. As I type this, he’s sitting on the back of my chair, randomly putting his paw on the back of my neck for a second at a time. If I turn to pet him, he runs off. But he’ll sit there for a good 20 minutes, randomly patting me.

As much as I love the fuzzy attention, it’s been really hard to get anything done around here today. When I got dropped off this morning, I put the bag of leftovers large enough to feed a small family into the fridge for AAB and me to pick at. I did some dishes, swept the kitchen, and took out all the stale bread and snack food for the birds and squirrels. I threw in my laundry earlier, did some donkey kicks while I watched a drag queen explain how to fix sparse eyebrows, and started my annual organization binge. But I barely got past the first step, somehow.

You see, the beginning of the year means one thing to me: a fresh new day planner to track things in. Every year I get my new Orange Circle Studio day planner and wait for the new year before I start filling it in with anything beyond doctors appointments I don’t want to forget for the new year. Today was the day I start filling in my day planner, checking out all the new features it has since last year’s model, come down from the holidays, and start to really contemplate life.

First off, a quick word about these planners. I may or may not be hugely in love with these day planners. If you’ve read some of my past posts, you know that I can get a little obsessive about my day planners. I tried to use a bullet journal and gave up after a month. It just wasn’t organized enough for me. I tried just grabbing a little day planner from the drug store, and couldn’t find one with the right amount of room to randomly track things like I tend to constantly do. And as much as I wish I could be one of those people with the tiny little day book in their clutch, I always have been and always will be more of a giant notebook in a messenger back type of gal. These planners are the perfect design, with the perfect amount of space for me. This year they even came with a section in the back of the planner to track what kind of day you’ve had, your goals for the year, and your finances, all on top of the room they give for shopping and to-do lists.

Anyway, back to my day. I started off my organizing for the year by trying to put all the important dates from my old calendar and planner into my new one. I’m not going to lie, I used Facebook to help me look up a bunch of birthdays too. After that, I usually switch out purses to get a new look for the season, clean my desk area, make a healthy snack, do some stretches, and then curl up with a good book. I never got past that day planner today, though.

This time of year is just full of so many plans, so many new beginnings, and so many opportunities to make new goals. It is also full of catching up with friends and relatives, seeing how much more successful everyone else is than you, endless being questioned by people you hardly ever see about what your next step is to “finally living like a damn grown-up”, and hearing that apologetic tone in people’s voices when they say “oh, so you’re still working in retail? Well good for you for sticking with it!”. Tempers flare this time of year. Patience wears thin much easier as the holidays come to an end. It’s like everyone has spent so much time and energy being holly and/or jolly, they just don’t have it in them to do it one more day. The pressure of bettering yourself and your life combined with the crushing realization that everyone else thinks you’re a failure (at least in your own mind), added on to the simmering anger and the waning patience seems to cause this giant bubble of blah to burst inside me.

This year, it feels like I have to accomplish everything all by myself. I’ve always had a very small support system to lean on. For the most part, my family has been supportive but up until recently didn’t seem to understand some of the obstacles I faced or the things I was struggling with. It wasn’t until my brother went through the same things that they seemed to understand. As amazingly awesome as AAB can be most of the time, we are not without our troubles. One of my biggest problems with our relationship, which he can never seem to understand, is that I feel totally alone when it comes to making plans for the future. He will say he wants something for us but doesn’t seem to do anything to work towards that goal. It all seems to come down to my work towards that goal, and it’s damn stressful.

All of this just seems to compound right about now, and it gets me so down. There’s so much I want to do, so much I want to get done, so much I need to consider for my future, but it seems like everything else is coming before all of that. I want to start looking for a new place to live, but I know that it is only me working on this search for us, and I am the one who has to manage the money and go about getting loans or mortgages or talking to financial people.

This post has gone nowhere fast, and I knew that would happen today. Every year I take January 2nd off so I can clear my head, do some thinking, and sink deeper into the existential void I had been trying to claw my way out of. My head is in a very bad place right now. I just want to crawl under a blanket and sleep for a week. I’m doing everything in my power not to just burst out in tears. So if you want to read more about my anxiety, my mental state, and my current mental downward spiral, stay tuned Sunshine! I can’t see this letting up very quickly.

Day Off, Christmas Homes Tour, and Being the Family Outcast

Today was my first of two days off from my retail job, peddling the devil’s brew. Instead of staying in bed as long as possible, having all the kitten cuddles the always sleepy Bowser Kitten had to offer and then making a big pot of Christmas Coffee, I got up at 7am to shower and get ready for my ride. It was the annual Christmas Homes Tour out in the county today and every year we hit that tour for mum’s birthday. So myself, mum, my sister, and my cousin piled into my sister’s car and went out in the pouring rain to walk through strangers’ homes, gawk at their decorations, and then buy a bunch of wine.

Every year it’s the same thing: we see a bunch of different random people’s homes; stop into the same church to see the dozens of nativity scenes on display and buy a bunch of baked goods; hit the winery for a free sample and to shop; then to the garden store and novelty shop for a little Christmas shopping. We sit around together, catching up and munching on fresh baked goods made by little old church ladies and drinking fruit punch made from bulk store crystals, and then sip free wine and nibble on tiny cucumber slices and date squares and talk some more. For the most part, it’s quite an enjoyable day.

This year, this day fell right as I came off a 30-day stretch, as I mentioned yesterday. I was exhausted this morning and didn’t want to get out of bed. To top it off, the super cuddly Bowser Kitten mad made a beautifully soft next in the blankets around my knees. I had to squirm and slide out of bed in order to not disturb his nest. Hell, it’s 12 hours later and the bed still hasn’t been fully made!  I smoothed out the blankets around the nest but left it perfectly intact. Bowser Kitten is curled up in it at this very moment, in fact!

After literally dragging myself out of bed as to not disturb an already pissed off Bowser Kitten, I shower, poured some coffee down my throat, slapped on some eyebrows, and got my slip on boots ready to go. By the time our festive team assembled at my parents’ place (to cuddle their cats before we left), the skies had opened up and unleashed a torrent of rain that made it almost impossible to drive through at times. We had to make an emergency stop at a dollar store near our starting point of the tour to get umbrellas (and a few snacks for the car).

Riding around the county, dipping into our little snack bags of cookies, laughing about stupid things we’ve done lately, it was a really enjoyable day. I was really having fun, catching up with everyone, hearing all the gossip from that cousin’s side of the family that I’ve missed out on. We all bonded over our love of Christmas decorating, and the fact that I am the only one in the car who only puts up one Christmas tree every year (but I technically own two, thanks to a former roommate who left one behind).

Maybe it was the lack of sleep lately. Maybe it was the fact that I had to wake up pretty early on my first day off in 30 days. Maybe it was the fact that I had to piss of barely cheerful Bowser Kitten by leaving him home alone on my day off. Whatever it was, that creeping feeling that I don’t belong came faster this year.

Everyone else in the family seems to get along, and like a lot of the same things. They all follow the “there is a timeline your life is supposed to follow so you have things done at a certain point in your life” mentality. That was the first thing that opened the floodgates for the awkwardness today. My cousin was talking about her and her boyfriend, who have been dating almost 3 years now. She was saying that once you hit 30, dating is completely different and should move a lot faster because you have your life totally together. In her words, you have your life together once you’re in your 30s. You own a home or have a really nice apartment, don’t have any student loans left to pay off, are established in your career, and have time for hobbies and “grown-up things”. She’s in a book club, where they read Oprah-approved books and then sit around talking about how much they loved them. She gets up early on Saturday mornings to go to brunch with the girls. She counts calories, and every time she eats something “bad” she has to talk about how her diet is ruined for the day. And everyone over the age of 30 is supposed to do these things.

Now, everyone in that car today knows what my life is like. I’m 35 years old. I’m drowning in credit card and student loan debt I’m slowly chipping away at. I work retail, on my feet in steel-toe shoes all day, and rent a room in a house with a bunch of strangers. I am the exact opposite of everything she just said I’m supposed to be. But she still kept talking to me like my life is exactly like hers. Not just that, but everyone seemed to go along with it like I was supposed to fake another lifestyle for a day just to fit in.

I’m almost used to this by now. I always seem to get this weird combination of “good for you, not letting your age stop you” and “you still have to live up to our expectations of a person your age” from people when I make decisions in my life. And everyone has different expectations for me, but I’m supposed to live up to all of them. I am somehow supposed to live at home until I’m married, plus get a kick-ass apartment full of cool stuff from catalogues, plus cultivate my own style, plus date around and sow my wild oats while also being in a steady and monogamous relationship long enough to lead to an engagement and marriage so I can start having kids by my late-20s or early-30s. I am somehow expected to do all of this at once, in order to live up to a dream that various family members have for themselves, which then gets passed on to me.

This random “failing everyone’s expectations entirely, all at the same time” phenomenon is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to interactions with my family. In almost every way, I am very much different from my family. I know, I sound like some angsty teen who wears too much black eyeliner and ironically listens to Marilyn Manson because he’s “hardcore” and “speaks to me”. This is something that I’ve come to embrace over the years, and most of the time it’s something I really enjoy. I’ve always been a little off compared to my cousins, and a little backwards at times. I’m a writer, a confused little lost girl who bounced from job to education to job, with ever-changing goals. I’m financially insecure, in a precarious place in my professional career, and just rediscovering my passion for writing and reading at the age of 35. Usually, I am perfectly fine with the fact that my choices in life have lead me to where I am, and I know that my current and future choices will lead me other places. But being in that car, listening to everyone talk, it just gets to me.

You see, there are a lot of fundamental things about me that are very different from the rest of my family. I come from a big group of Trump-loving folk, who don’t want refugees around stealing their jobs and spreading Sharia law with their ISIS influence. They think that anyone who gets welfare is just cheating the system to get free money for expensive food and trips (except for me, the time I was on it right out of school; I was the exception), and firmly believe that all refugees are being paid thousands of dollars a month by the government while pensioners are being given cheese vouchers and a swift kick in the ass. They want more gun, less diversity, more religion (as long as it’s their religion), and fewer immigrant workers. They believe that trickle-down economics will save the world, and that border walls can’t be built fast enough to save North America from the dreaded Mexicans.

Basically, they believe in the opposite of everything I do. There are tules at family dinners stating that no political conversations are supposed to take place. This basically means that everyone else is allowed to talk politics, except for me. The second I speak up, the conversation is labelled a “fight” and mum gets upset. I’m used to it. I just shut my mouth, keep my head down, and try to tune everything out most of the time. But when you’re stuck in a car with people talking politics, and you know you can’t join in because it will upset people is the weirdest feeling in the world. No matter how nice and polite I am, just the very act of saying something that isn’t in total agreement with them is enough to piss everyone off.

Ok, remember when you were a teen, and you thought the whole world was against you? You would lock yourself in your room, blasting your angsty-driven music of choice (mine was German industrial music and heavy metal; my sister was more of a Hanson-rebel), thinking that there was no one in the world who would understand you. You would slam doors, punch your pillow, scream at family members that they just didn’t understand you and they never would. Do you remember that feeling of being so totally different, so totally alone, that if felt like it would crush you?

Now imagine being 35. You know that you’re not alone in the world because you have people around you that you can relate you. You know that you’re not the bizarre, weird freak you thought you were when you were 15 when some overly-bleach blond douchebag would throw orange slices at your head on the bus after school. You’re a grown-ass adult who has a life and a mind of their own and is able to converse with people of differing views in a civilized manner. But being with your family is suddenly being that 15-year-old again. You’re a freak, a weirdo, a disappointment who has all these weird and strange ideas that they’ll surely grow out of once they finally grow up.

I don’t even know where I’m going with this post today. Sorry folk, my brain has closed down for the day. All I know is I just spent my first day off in a month being questioned about when the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend and I are going to get engaged and married (that’s not something we’re really looking into right now), why am I not pressuring AAB into proposing as my Christmas present, why would I even think about applying to jobs a few hours away (when there’s nothing outside of my own company that I’m both qualified for and interested in), why would I be looking at little 2 bedroom wartime houses in my area (when that’s all AAB and I want at the moment), and when am I going to “grow up and vote Republican” (because apparently other people’s Christmas decorations are entirely a Republican issue that I couldn’t possibly handle). It’s been a mentally draining day, I’m pouring my second glass of wine right now while I blast my “Angry Tunes” playlist on Spotify, and AAB is playing in the kitchen with some fish and asparagus at 8:43pm when I haven’t eaten a real meal all day. I am just done with everything for today. Being grilled like a 15-year old who came home 4 hours after curfew about the tiniest little thing today by a few family members just gets to me.

Tomorrow is my Christmas decorating day. Hopefully, I’ll be able to lay out the extra stress that comes with the Christmas season for me (since we all go through extra stress this time of year, no matter our beliefs, with holiday festiveness being shoved down our throats) and how I’m planning on cutting a few corners and doing more for me thing year.

Stayed Up Too Late Contemplating Fate Again

I did it again. As of 5:30pm today, I completed yet another 30-day stretch. The last few days have been hell, with sick calls and absent management (for legitimate health reasons, but it’s still stressful as hell). I basically ran on caffeine and cookies for most of my shift today.

I threw back 2 1/2 cups of coffee before setting off for work this morning. Our morning crew was not only a man down today, but that man was the main person in charge of the loads in the morning. Our assistant manager can zip a forklift around in tight spaces like mad, handle a load from pre-load safety checks right up to the closing paperwork with his eyes closed, and can throw boxes around like they’re full of air. He’s off today though because he had a slight heart issue yesterday while starting the load. Our next in line to take charge of the load fell down a flight of stairs at home and bruised his ribs pretty bad. It hurts him to even cough or laugh, let alone sling boxes around all day. Still, he was out there with the smaller forklift helping unload the truck. Of the other three of us available to help, only one has any experience actually taking skids off the truck with the forklift. I’m still being trained and have to have our assistant manager there to supervise me if I even try to do that, and my other co-worker hasn’t even been sent for her in-class training yet, let alone used the forklift yet. So right off the bat, we knew the load was going to take a lot longer than usual.

With everything taking longer, our breaks got pushed back. I jumped off cash long enough to run to the back to use the bathroom at one point and didn’t even make it back there before being buzzed back up front. But in the short time I was in the warehouse, the smell hit me hard enough to make me nauseous. A case of something broke in the middle of a full pallet, and there were mould and fruit flies involved. With my mould allergy, I couldn’t even help with the cleanup. Instead, I spent most of the day spraying old vanilla body spray in the warehouse to try and mask the smell.

I spent the majority of my 8 1/2 hour shift running cash, with a few breaks in the day to put away stock. We had more bizarre customers, a serious shoplifting incident further down the plaza requiring half a dozen police cars, and our manager was calling references and meeting with our potential new seasonal workers for this year. Between the constantly ringing phone, the constant questioning customers, and the need to keep checking security cameras to follow possible shoplifters, it was madness. I kept a napkin of Christmas cookies at my till, threw back a few energy drinks, and actually drank a whole Timmies coffee. I never get coffee at work because I usually drink it so slowly that it gets cold before I can finish. But today I just let it cool a bit and basically chugged it just to keep me going.

I wouldn’t have been so damn tired if I didn’t, yet again, start reading Insomnia by Stephen King. I have stacks of new books just waiting to be read and know I should work my way through them. But I once again saw this one staring at me from the shelf and thought “well a few pages won’t hurt me”.

I was very, very, very wrong.

For anyone who hasn’t read this book, it’s basically about fate and destiny. There are certain people in the world who are fated to do great and amazing things, and then there are the rest of us. Two characters are tasked with helping to save a random person from death because something they do will lead someone else to do something great. This entire premise gets inside my brain and takes hold, letting me think of nothing more than the idea of fate and the inconsequential people.

You see, I haven’t done anything phenomenally great with my life as of yet. I’ve gone through a lot personally, overcome a lot of obstacles, done a whole hell of a lot of schooling, and now work in retail and write this blog. I’m never going to be mentioned in any history books or featured on an Oprah special. Usually, I’m perfectly fine with that. In fact, most days I completely embrace the fact that I could move somewhere else and live in total anonymity if I really, truly wanted to. But this book just shatters that comfy cosy feeling of nothingness and throws me into a dark brooding pit of despair. I become a cross between a first-year philosophy major with a hard-on for Neizche and an angsty 90’s teen who just discovered Kurt Cobain. I want to curl up under the blankets for days at a time, cuddle the less-than-comforting Bowser Kitten, and write crappy poetry about lost love and the fact that the Starbucks barista forgot the whip on my lactose-free peppermint mocha frapp.

You see, I’m perfectly fine being nothing if that of my own doing. It is entirely my own choice to stay in my retail job, to not pursue more education at the moment, to re-watch the same shows and re-read the same books and do nothing anyone would call significant with my life right now. If that is how I choose to live, then I’m fine with it. It’s the idea that it’s my destiny to be nothing that bothers me. And that idea keeps evolving every time it pops into my head again.

What if it’s my destiny to do nothing? That would mean that nothing I have done, and nothing I will ever do would ever count for anything. I could never influence people, or make an impact on people’s lives. What if my destiny is only to walk down on a specific road, on one specific day just so I can bump into a random person and make them late for something? Sure, that could change their life completely. Me bumping into them and making them late could be the difference between making it to their bus on time or missing the bus and avoiding a fiery crash that would have killed them. Me making them late for something could mean that they wind up complaining in a bar about the bitch tripped and fell into them, and a fellow patron sympathizing with them, with that patron later becoming their spouse. Or their business partner. Me making someone late by tripping and knocking them down could mean that they tore their pants and had to run into a store to buy new ones, making them be in the right place at the right time for something that could turn them into a household name.

But then what about me?

That would mean that my existence is supposed to count for absolutely nothing, save for those few minutes where my clumsiness seemingly ruins a persons day for a bit. Other than those fleeting few moments, which would mean nothing to either one of us ever again, my life would be inconsequential and I would be a nobody. No matter how hard I try to make a life for myself, it would all be for nothing because my destiny is to be nothing.

That’s how this line of thought always starts. Usually, this is where it ends, too. It’s enough to depress the hell out of anyone, myself included. But it went well beyond that last night. Last night, my brain delved into the idea of soul mates and fate.

What if you’re fated a soul mate, but you’re not fated to end up together? I know, that makes no sense at first, but hear me out.

What if you have a soul mate fated to be the one true love of your life. All fate does is make sure the two of you meet and leaves everything up to you.WOuld you even know that’s your soul mate? I mean, I am a much different person than I was even 4 years ago, let alone 10 years ago, or in high school, or even in grade school. What if my soul mate was someone I met in high school, who I brushed off or I wrote off as an asshole way back then? I’ll admit, I was a little angsty bitch in high school. I was picked on a lot, had some good friends but basically shied away from most people and social situations, and closed myself off from others. I was like a giggly Daria Morgendorffer, round glasses and all. What if my soul mate was someone who was friends with someone who picked on me? There were a few people who I couldn’t stand because of the way they treated me, and I always figured their friends would treat me the same. I didn’t associate with my bully’s friends on the basis that they were friends with my bully, so they would probably treat me like he did. I even had a massive crush on one of his friends, and barely spoke to the guy. What if one of those guys was supposed to be my soul mate? And that’s just one of the dozens of scenarios that flew through my mind last night as I tried to sleep.

My mind drifted back to that “what if I met my soul mate and nothing happened” idea time and time again. What if I met my soul mate, and we were supposed to find indescribable happiness together? I mean the kind of happiness I’ve seen others find, the kinds you strive for in every relationship. What if I’m trying for that now, with the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend, and we’re destined to never have it? What if that feeling of true love and bliss was meant for someone else, and the closest we’ll ever come to it is just a reasonable facsimile thereof? This means that there is a chance that what I’m perceiving as happiness with AAB isn’t really happiness. It means that there is someone out there who could make me feel a thousand times better than I do now, but I would never consider that person because we were never anything to each other in our past.

This is what was flying through my head at 2am, which the super sleepy Bowser Kitten pawed at my feet. What if, as happy as AAB makes me, it’s not really happiness? What if it’s all an illusion because my chance at real happiness passed long ago and I never realized it.

All of this because I can’t help but read the same book over again every time I happen upon it. The strangest thing is, I keep that book on the shelf in the office. I have a whole shelf of Stephen King books that I keep together in there. But whenever I come across that book, start reading it, and these thoughts flood my head, it’s never on that damn shelf. Yesterday I found it with the stack of new books I keep next to the computer. I don’t know when I put it there, or why I put it there, but it was sitting there on the top of the pile, right under the gingerbread men I put there Monday so I wouldn’t forget to bring them on my Christmas Homes Tour outing tomorrow. There is a lot going on in my life right now: I’m getting back into writing and actually loving it; there are job opportunities popping up in other cities that I’m qualified for; there are issues with this house and the roommates here that are driving me to consider finally moving away.

Maybe this book is finding me, to make me think, to make me make some choices. Maybe it is fate, a sign that I’m not nothing and have to do something soon.

Or maybe the lack of sleep is making me damn loopy right now. Coupled with the 30-day stretch I just finished, part of me wouldn’t doubt that right now.

Mommy Needs Vodka…..?

It’s almost 5pm and I’m just sitting down to try and write and eat some pizza pockets before the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend gets home. I got the short shift today, and it was completely dead. I basically stood on cash all day, waiting for someone to find something I could do while I was up there to pass the time. I just kept going over in my head all the things I needed to get done when I got out of there. I cleaned the kitchen before I left for work, but I still had the bathroom and the floors to do. Desperately needed a haircut from a professional, and not just from me in the bathroom with scissors trimming my bangs. Gotta clean out the fridge, wash all the Tupperware in there, wash the hallway walls where AAB puts his grubby hands after work while he takes off his shoes, and all with a killer headache from mold exposure, stress, and lack of food.

Of course, while we were in between menial tasks that needed to get done on our slowest day of the week, we stood around talking about what we all needed to get done outside of work. While we were all comparing lists, making sure no one forgot anything important, we all just kept saying the same thing back and forth to each other:

Don’t forget to pick up some wine. You’re definitely going to need a drink after today is done!

And you know what? We probably all will have a drink tonight. Or two. Or three. It’s a normal thing for us, actually. We work with alcohol, deal with people buying alcohol, and have become friends with some of our customers because of our friendship developed due to alcohol. Come to think of it, a lot of my friendships have revolved around alcohol to a certain extent. I made a lot of friends in university through a fraternity and at frat parties. Most of my friendship outings somehow involve alcohol. Even this weekend, when we have our girls’ day at the Christmas Homes Tour, we end our day at a winery for samples and wine shopping. A lot of our lives at some point involve alcohol.

I was going to write a big long post about how alcoholism is so accepted in our society today it has become mainstream, but I just don’t have it in me right now. I typed out a whole bunch, and then took a break from writing for half an hour to go attend to the bathroom. Wound up scrubbing mold off the ceiling, dousing myself with vinegar, and soaking mildew in baking soda and vinegar in the bathtub where it meets the shower walls. I have so much going on around me today, and I just can’t keep up.

Truth be told, I had wanted to write about alcoholism because it’s all around me, constantly. A good friend and member of my work family is dealing with it right now, and it’s affecting all of us. Every time they have to miss a shift, or wind up in the hospital, or go on a binge, we all have to scramble to cover the shifts they miss. I worry myself sick waiting for a text or Snapchat message (it’s the only reason I keep Snapchat, to keep in touch with them) to make sure they’re ok. We all drive ourselves nuts trying to look out for them. Some of us have more experience dealing with this outside of work than others, some of us have more patience than others when it comes to this. But it’s rough for everyone.

Part of the problem, at least on my part, is that our job is to support alcoholism. I have customers that I see multiple times a day. We know they’re not buying cheap vodka on the regular to stock a really crappy bar with. They’re there because the vodka they bought when we opened that day is gone, and now it’s time for their afternoon vodka. For most of these people, we can’t physically prove it. They don’t smell like booze, they’ve been drinking like this long enough that they can walk and talk just fine. They don’t seem drunk in any way when they come up to my counter. If I didn’t know they had already been in once or twice that day already, I would never know they’ve already been drinking.

I feel like I am directly responsible for their drinking. I know, that’s a crazy thing to think. If I wasn’t working the counter when they came in, someone else would be. But still, I sell them booze. I know damn well that they have a problem, but legally I still have to sell to them.

We’ve had some customers that we’ve become close with over the years. Some of them are our weekend regulars, picking up booze for the weekend. Some come the same day every week or stop in for a beer or two after work. Some come in sporadically, but are super friendly and talk to everyone like we’re old friends. And there’s some that are Regulars that we get to know. We had a really sweet woman come in all the time for her beers. My work BFF were ready to adopt her when we found out just how bad her drinking was. When she shouldn’t afford to buy her beers, she was pocketing vodka and beer and then distracting us with her sweetness to get away with it. When she was caught, she was banned from the store.

And I cried.

Most of you out there don’t know this, but the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend and I met through my work because he was a Regular. Twice a day he was in for vodka and/or beer. On our first date, we talked about his drinking in an open and honest way. When we started dating, he told me how much he wanted to quit drinking. He tried a few times to quit completely, and we eventually settled on another method of sobriety. Instead of quitting completely, he very strictly controls his drinking now. In a lot of European countries, the treatment for addiction includes smaller doses of the addictive substance. We do somewhat the same thing, but instead of a maintenance shot during the day or something like that, he has a few beers after work. He’s gone from drinking a 40 of vodka a day to just a few beers or coolers. He can even make a 26 of whiskey last the two of us a week, and that’s with me making the odd Manhattan with it.

This hasn’t exactly been easy though. He’s slipped up a bunch of times. We have some pretty major fights about his drinking. He’s had to battle with this daily. And when it came down to it, when I knew he was lying to me about his drinking and that he was drinking a lot more than he was letting on, I still had to look him in the eye and sell him his damn booze with a smile on my face.

So when another customer has a problem like that, it gets to me. I know what she’s putting her family and her friends through. I know all the different things this city offers to help someone sober themselves up, and how each of these things can fail. I know what it’s like to be the person waiting at home for a loved one who “just ran to the store” when you know they’re really just drinking. I know what it’s like to find booze that’s been hidden from me to drink the next day when someone has already sworn to me that they’re not drinking during the day. I know what this customer’s family is feeling because I’ve felt it too. And there’s not a damn thing I can do about it because it’s my job to put on a big smile and just ask you if you want your booze in a bag or not.

I’ve been around this a long time, so has AAB. We both have alcoholics in our families, we both presently drink, and we both have friends who are alcoholics. Hell, I’ve got a glass of cabernet sauvignon sitting here next to me while I write this. And I feel like absolute crap when I think about the friends and families out there who are dealing with an alcoholic loved one tonight because of the booze I sold them. I’ll be walking down the street sometimes and see a really cute family, and suddenly the thought creeps into my mind: “is their mommy or daddy one of my Regulars? Are they living through their own personal hell because I told them booze?”

I’m sure there are lots of people out there who deal with this, especially in this city. We are a city full of bars, restaurants, and strip clubs. I know, it makes this place sounds nasty, but all cities are like that. We just happen to have of some of these things than a lot of other cities. I know a tonne of people who work in the industry. I’m sure at least a few of them have had these thoughts at some point. I just have no clue how to ask. I mean, what the hell do you say? “Hey man, you ever look at a regular customer and wonder if you’re partially responsible for ruining their life because you sell them alcohol? No? Well, you’re gonna start thinking things like that now that I brought it up, that’s for damn sure!”

I don’t even know where I’m going with all of this. This is just something that has been getting to me a lot lately, more than usual. I can’t get these thoughts out of my mind sometimes. I know a lot of you are reading this thinking, “Well why doesn’t she just quit her job? Find a new job, one that doesn’t involve alcohol.” The truth of the matter is I really do love my job most of the time, and I really love my co-workers. I have been looking for another job for years, one worth leaving this place for, and I’ve found nothing. Yes, I could take a job somewhere else for less pay but more peace of mind in these matters. But I’m barely keeping food on the table as it is, and financial instability is a huge anxiety trigger for me.

I really don’t know why I wrote this all out. Reading it over, it just seems crazy and silly and scary and pathetic all at the same time.