I Just Keep Making Lists……

I don’t know what the hell is wrong with me lately. I used to be really good at scheduling 37,000 things into my week. At one point in University I worked two on-campus jobs; took 4 courses (two with labs); was on the Board of Directors for an organization, chaired one of their committees, and sat on two other committees; was a volunteer academic adviser; worked with the Welcome Week teams doing events throughout the year; did classroom public speaking for a few organizations; AND I managed to marathon Buffy the Vampire Slayer in it’s entirety and workout 3 times a week.

Man, I was on fire that year.

I was living in a little basement apartment that year, with a giant bedroom with no closet. My roommate would either cook ALL the protein at once, or lock himself in his bedroom while he was home so I didn’t have to deal with him much. It was almost like having my own apartment, since my room was the size of a small bachelor. To keep my schedule straight I had a 4 month dry-erase calendar, a 1 month dry-erase calendar, a day planner, a daily to-do list, a weekly to-do list, and a monthly overview list. I was so freaking happy that year.

These days, with my dumpster fire of a life, it seems like I just have so much piling up and I can never catch up. I still keep a day planner and a wall calendar, but not like I used to. I still make my lists, but now a lot of them are lists of lists I need to make. I used to use lists for motivation, now I can’t even get motivated enough to make a damn list.

For a long time I thought there was just something wrong with me. I had been so motivated before while I was a student, and now it just seems like I can’t get anything done. So I took a look at what was different about what I needed to get done. Back then, it was deadlines. I always had a few dozen looming deadlines, whether it was school work or grading papers or committee presentations. These were all things that were expected of me, things that others were relying on and keeping track of.

Back then it was “go go go” with a purpose. I was running my ass off going crazy because it was things that had to get done. There were other people involved, and my missing a deadline could severely impact them. If I didn’t get my part of a group project done, that effected my entire group. If I didn’t get papers graded on time, then students grades wouldn’t be posted in time for them to sign up for their next classes. If I didn’t get that committee presentation done before the meeting, what the hell would we be doing in the meeting? Everything seemed dire.

Now? I don’t have anywhere near as many things that are that “dire” for other people on my plate. I still make it to work, put in my shift, keep the rest of the house clean. Again, it’s the things for everyone else that gets done.

But what about me?

When it comes to me, I put me off. I will have no issues sweeping, vacuuming, mopping, scrubbing, and wiping down the rest of the house. But when it it comes to my room? I don’t have the giant room I once had before, and everything is just sort of crammed in there. It’s a cramped, disorganized disaster of a room. I’ve made half a dozen lists of things to do to get that room in order, but why bother with that when I can sweep and mop empty rooms that we might rent out someday? I know I need to Marie Kondo the ever-living crap out of my room, but I just never get around to it.

Even when I’m not replacing tasks with stuff for other people, I still put me off. I know I really need to stretch and do some exercises every freaking day. I’ve put on some weight over the years, my knee sounds like Rice Krispies when I walk thanks to falling out of too many trees while drinking (that’s a long story), and I’m not ridiculously flexible like I used to be. But why do that when I could read 27 pages of Not Always Right? I have lists of motivational lists to make to get my ass in gear, but instead I’ll fall asleep on the couch watching old Vines on repeat.

For some reason, when it comes to doing things for myself I just sort of blow myself off. I’ve spent so much time not taking care of myself, that I forget how to. I know, I know, I’ve preached so much damn “self care” in the past I should be an expert on this. But I just can’t seem to get my shit together when it comes to me.

I grabbed a book from the library yesterday that I’m hoping will help (because the cure for everything in my life is either in a bottle or a book). It talks about how we used to have these things called “weekends” back in the day. Even as a student, I had weekends. Yes, I worked on stuff throughout them, but on my terms. I may have to spend a Sunday witting on my bedroom floor surrounded by research and notebooks, but Saturday would’ve been spent at the beach and drinks at the frat house to make up for that. I always took time off for me, and had some sort of discernible weekend. There were no classes for me on Saturday or Sunday, 95% of my volunteer work was during the work week, and my friends’ fraternity only threw keggers on weekends. There was always that solid block of time to look forward to.

Now? Well, somehow I got two days off last week, thanks in part to my twisting my back until it didn’t want to work for me anymore while I was cleaning out A’s room yet again. With that, my work week officially started last Friday, making this day 6 of at least 11. I don’t have my book job schedule at all for next week yet, so I have no clue when I’ll ever get a day off again. Even if they’re short shifts, working every single day wears me out. This book is supposed to help with the “all-work-no-fun” rut I’ve thrown myself into. It’s gotten to the point that I don’t even look at apartments anymore, even though living with the X is driving me insane (literally, my anxiety is ridiculous half the time).

But first, I need to look a little harder at why I keep blowing me off and push myself harder to do things for me again. I’m starting with a trip to Dollarama after work (I know, my life is so thrilling!), and then cooking a real meal tonight. I’ve been existing on McDoubles lately (and yes, I gave away another one in a sad attempt at flirtatious conversation that failed miserably). I’m grabbing some horror movies from the library after work, and I’m going to force myself to put one on while I stretch, read, and maybe work on those motivational lists I’ve been making lists of.

How the hell else do I get myself out of this rut and start doing things for me again?

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Too exhausted to title this one

I am more than a little exhausted today. After that 13 day stretch of work, I took one whole day off to help out at my parents’ Christmas in July (but in August) party that was also somehow a 30th birthday party for my brother. Then I had to drag my tired ass in to work at the booze job yesterday just to hear “I can’t believe they make you work on a holiday” a hundred times. I passed out on the couch after giving my fuzzy babies tuna (and some whitefish from my parents), and was curled up in bed with Bowser watching over me by 9pm.

And here I am again, sitting at a desk at the book job. I was passed over for a permanent position here and am still doing the supply thing, so I got called in last minute for a full day shift. If I wasn’t on-call this week with only one pre-scheduled shift, I totally would’ve turned this shift down.

I am just drained. And as much as I love my family, and as much as I love their obsession with Christmas and feeding people, spending my one day off helping with that party just did not help me relax myself at all.

As you all know, I have a lot going on right now. Living with X is really draining me mentally, and it’s to the point that it’s starting to take a physical toll. Saturday night, he started in on his whole “the reason we broke up is because you never ever bothered to make time for us” spiel that he likes to throw at me every week or two. Basically, I had to start working Sundays when out collective agreement was renegotiated at the booze job. I did take time off when he needed me to, for things like weddings and his birthday. But I chose to be at work on my birthday, because that’s where I wanted to be.

I have a long list of things that I’ve wanted to do, and I’ve made brief mention of them in the past. But according to X, I’ve never ever wanted to do any of these things, and have certainly never mentioned them. I’m a horrible person, a complete bitch, for taking a day to go help my family with their party, or to want to take an hour after work to have coffee with a friend, and the entire reason for our relationship falling apart is because of this.

I’m trying to come to terms with what he’s saying to me is doing to my mind. I actually went into my parents’ party feeling guilty for being there. Never mind all the times I did take off, or all the time I spent trying to spend time with him. I let him get into my head like a cockroach and noodle around in there, rearranging things so I just couldn’t find anything happy inside.

Maybe that is why everything seemed to get to me so much. Of course, everyone asks for updates on life when we only see each other twice a year, but my updates were the only ones that people laughed out loud at. My living situation, my stories from work, the condition of my car even were enough to make people laugh. Normally people telling me I should write a book about my life makes me laugh, and sometimes even makes me want to write more. But with the frame of mind I was in already, it just grated on my nerves. By the time people began to trickle out of the yard, internally I was a mess.

Why do we let people get into our heads so much? I know X’s argument inside and out by this point. We’ve argued about it a hundred times over. “We used to have Sundays together. I know it’s not your fault that you have to work them now, but……..”; “You didn’t even take time off for your birthday like I wanted you to……”; “Well of course I took a few hours to myself after work to myself. That’s my me time. You just need to work around that if you want to spend time together”. And we’ve been over the replies to these a thousand times. “………I can take the odd Sunday off for us, but not every week. If I have to constantly give up hours to make time for us, would you be willing to give up a Tuesday and we could both take the day off?”; “………….it was my birthday, I wanted to be at work with my friends, and I didn’t want to do anything to celebrate. I didn’t even want a gift. I just wanted to treat it like any other day.”; “…….. and you have your ‘me time’ every single day. Sometimes you’ll get home from work at 4pm and still haven’t taken a shower yet when I come home at 10:30pm because that was all your ‘me time’. If I have to constantly give up my time to make time for us, then it’s only fair that you give up some of your time for us, especially when I don’t have to work late and get home around the same time as you.”

You see, each argument had a counter-argument with some reasoning behind it. We’ve had that exact argument so many times that I have all of my responses to his basic arguments memorized. I don’t even have to think anymore. I may as well just have them on cue cards and pull out the appropriate one when he starts talking. But every time I counter, he comes up with something new. How dare I even think about making plans with other people, when I never made enough time for us; why do I suddenly want to do things and stuff, even though I’ve been making a list of things and stuff I’ve wanted to do all year.

How do you not let someone into your head? How do you stay strong? It always seems like no matter what we have ever argued about, somehow it has all come back to being my fault and I’m the cause of things.

A few coworkers keep bringing up the term “gaslighting” when I talk about this. I remember hearing the term back in school, but don’t know much about it. Maybe it’s time for a little re-education, see if learning a little more helps me regain a slight bit of sanity. For now, though, I’m sitting at the Kid’s Desk at my book job, trying my hardest not to let my anxiety completely overwhelm me.

Relaxing?

I am exhausted. Like mentally, physically done.

I’ve been trying to get myself to relax, but it’s just not working. I’ve been doing 20+ hours at each job the last few weeks. There’s a lot of running between the two jobs, a lot of bizarre split shifts. One day I’ll be 9-12 and 3-5 at the book job and then 5:15 to 10:15 at the booze job. Another day I’m 9-12, 1-2, and 6-8 at the book job. When I’m home between jobs, I’m cleaning. A just finished moving out, so there is a tonne of things that need to get done at home (like scraping the 37 million pieces of Sticky-Tac off the walls). Some days, I’m lucky to get half an hour to make myself something to eat and sit for a few minutes.

Well yesterday, I was done work by noon. I did a quick drug store run for some hair stuff, and then headed home for the day. The plan was to do a little light cleaning, and then put my feet up and relax with some books.

Well that didn’t happen.

I threw a few things in the sink to soak, made myself a quick lunch, and tried to settle down on the couch to relax. I had books, Netflix, YouTube, some notebooks, and my kitties. I sprawled out on the couch, ready to just block out the world for a little while….. and my brain won’t shut off.

I pulled out a Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic, threw on some Under Arrest on Netflix, and my brain went into overdrive. “What needs to be cleaned? How long will it take to do A’s room? What if we can’t find people to rent with us? Would it be worth it to just start fresh in a new city? If I decide to just take off and move to a new city, should I try to get into that really hot tattooed guy’s pants first? Why is he always playing with his belt and pants when he’s standing in my line? Should I bring him another burger? Should I get myself some burgers? Should I make burgers? How many burgers are int he freezer right now? How bad is A’s freezer? Will I have to deep scrub it? What else needs some deep scrubbing? I wonder what Bowser is thinking right now.”

The louder my brain got, the more I tried to quiet it. I tried meditation, singing random songs in my head, day dreaming, stream of conscious writing, and even tried to close my eyes and nap on the couch.

Nothing helped.

I think I’ve forgotten how to actually relax. I can’t just put my feet up at the end of the day, pour a glass of wine, and let the day go. Now I pour that wine, talk with the X about our days, help finish making dinner, try to find something to watch on Netflix or YouTube, top up my glass of wine, mentally go over my to-do lists for the next few days, go over my work schedule for the next few days, make sure alarms are set, do a few Buzzfeed quizzes, try to pay attention to whatever X put on the TV, and group chat with some friends. Multitaskin Relaxin, that’s what I call this. I try to do ALL the relaxing things at once, because if each one is relaxing on its own just think of how relaxing they’d all be combined!

I’ve read all the articles, looked up hints and tips, read some books, and still can’t figure out how to just relax. I am completely worn out and need some sort of break, but I just can’t take one. As soon as I sit down to relax, I start thinking of all the things I should be doing instead. Instead of catching up on the sleep I need very very badly, I really should be at axe throwing school, or scrubbing the walls, or baking brownies for my coworkers at the store. I tell myself that I need the sleep, and that little voice in my head starts screaming “forget the sleep! You’re wasting your life! Think of all the things you could be doing right now! You’re going to die alone with 37 cats and they’ll eat your face!!!!!”

Ain’t anxiety grand?

So I guess I’ll just keep this routine going. I only have one shift scheduled next week for the book job so far, and I know I should take any time off I get to just relax and take some naps. But I already have a huge to-do list going in my day planner of things to get done when I don’t have to be at work.

Because what could be more relaxing than taking every article of clothing you own out of your closet and dressers, refolding and organizing everything, clearing off all your shelves and under your bed, vacuuming everything including the mattress, doing all the laundry, washing the walls, and dusting every available surface?

July Comes To An End

Well, another month has come to an end. I’ve been working on a few different writing projects on top of this blog, plus the two jobs and all the drama of A moving out. I am exhausted right now. I could really use a week long nap, a week on a beach, and then another week long nap.

So I’m think of combining a few things here. One of the writing projects I’ve been working on is just to get me in the habit of writing more often. I find writing prompts on Pinterest while I’m at work and then ponder over them later. Most of what comes from that is pure, manure-strength crap. But it’s my crap, and I’m learning to love it.

So, in this whole “trying to become a better me and break out of my comfort zones” things I’ve been doing, I’m thinking of doing something I haven’t done in more than 15 years. I think I’ll make a category, or a page, or something on this blog and use that for a bit of prompted creative writing. Out in the public, for anyone to read.

Now, I haven’t had anything other than my blog and one creative piece in university read by the general public since my dark days. Back then, I worked for a local underground magazine and was somehow hired on as the Arts & Culture Columnist. My writing sucked, my pieces sucked, my research sucked, I had no clue what I was doing, and I was to scared and spoiled to ask anyone for help. So, I just continued to suck for more than a year. After that, I hid all of my notebooks and stopped letting people read what I wrote.

Well, I think it’s time to end that. Starting in August (so maybe tomorrow), I plan on throwing a few poorly written writing prompt pieces on here, a little stream of consciousness writing, maybe even dig out some old creative pieces and give them to fresh eyes.

I’m Judging You by How You Treat Your Cashier……

…..and your server, and your barista, and your mechanic, and the kid behind the counter at McDonald’s……….

Basically, I’m just judging you. Hardcore.

Whenever I say something like this, people right away say something like, “Well, I can tell you work in customer service!”. Like the only reason to treat people with basic human decency is because you use a cash register at work or something. That never made much sense to me.

I went out to dinner with a group once around my birthday to celebrate. We went to my favourite bar, had a few drinks and ordered some food. Since it was the weekend, the place was pretty busy, but the waitress still came around to check on us every chance she got. She even came around to update us on when our food would be ready. Like, if there were server Olympics, she would’ve walked out of there with a gold medal around her neck.

Still, all my group did was complain. The food wasn’t fast enough, then it wasn’t hot enough (even though the plates were almost too hot to handle). The drinks weren’t strong enough, as if they expected free doubles for everything. The lines in the bathroom were too long, the toilet paper was too thin, and the toilet flushed too loudly. Seriously, my friend’s girlfriend complained about the toilets. Somehow the waitress checked on us too much and not enough at the same time, and was both too cheery and not cheery enough.

They put that poor waitress through hell, making her grab new forks because theirs didn’t look clean enough, and bringing them extra lemons because the one in their water was cut wrong. When the bill came, we went about dividing up what we each owed. As we threw in our money, I noticed no one else left much of a tip. We each spent a little over $40, and no one put in more than $45. Their reasoning?

“Well it’s not like she did anything special. Why should we just throw free money at her for just doing her job?”

Buddy, you ran the poor girl ragged all night, making sure she knew that nothing she did was ever good enough for your high standards. You complained about the food, the drinks, the bartender, and the server herself. You treated her like we were her only table in an extremely packed bar on a Saturday evening, and expected her to jump every time you snapped your fingers.

And yes, he did actually snap his fingers at her once.

Needless to say, that was the last time I went out with those friends.

I swear, it takes more effort to be outwardly mean to people sometimes than to just be a decent human being. My friends could have just sat there and enjoy our meal, enjoyed our drinks, and enjoyed each other’s company. Instead, they had to go out of their way to make some poor server miserable for no reason other than they wanted her to really earn that tip.

And I really don’t have the mental energy to deal with people like that. I don’t think a lot of us do. And it’s not limited to just how you treat your waitress. There are a tonne of people working jobs out there that seem to attract assholes like cats to catnip. I don’t know what it is, but people just seem to love to talk down to people who work any kind of service job.

I’ve seen people demean cashiers for not having better jobs, yell at fast food workers for taking more than 12 seconds to make their order, even lose their minds at mechanics for having dirty hands while working on their cars. This sort of entitled crap seems to be ingrained in some people’s minds, like a personality trait or a compulsion to try and make themselves look better than the common worker because “the customer is always right”.

Here’s just a few things that people do that I am totally, completely, 100% judging them for:

  1. Doing anything that suggests that a server has to “earn” a tip. This includes making outrageous demands, laying out a few dollars on the table and taking one away any time the server “screws up”, loudly complaining to anyone within ear range about the server, or leaving any sort of “tip” that isn’t money. This includes your phone number, business cards, religious pamphlets, written advice, or samples from work-from-home business. Avon samples and dude-bro’s number won’t pay the bills.
  2. Throwing any kind of shade when a cashier asks if you want to donate to whatever cause they’re told to ask for donations for. The cashier did not pick the charity, they have no control over what charity they’re told to ask about, don’t care if you saw a documentary about the charity 7 years ago that said their CEO is a millionaire, and they may not even be particularly fond of that specific charity. They are, however, fond of collecting a paycheck and paying their damn bills, so they’re just doing their job when they ask you.
  3. Making a mess is not “creating jobs”. If you leave your table covered in ketchup and ice cream, McDonald’s isn’t going to hire more janitors to clean it; they’re going to make their employees work even harder to clean up after your nasty ass and earn their minimum wage. Leaving grocery items out in random places around the store only makes the already busy employees have to work harder to run go-backs and do the paperwork needed to throw away the frozen ribs you left behind the toilet paper display an hour ago. None of these companies are seeing your mess and saying, “Well, it looks like the public is demanding we hire more employees to meet their needs. Better throw a job fair!” Instead, they make their already over-worked employees work even harder to put way your groceries, clean up your messes, and undo all your little “make-work projects” around their workplace.
  4. “It didn’t ring up, that means it’s free!”; “Here’s a twenty, I just printed it off this morning!”; “Hey, can I get your discount?”. Dude, you’re really not funny. You’re mostly likely not the first person today to make that exact same joke, that poor worker probably already heard it 25 times before you and will hear it 25 times after you just today.
  5. Unless the worker flat-out says something like, “Would you like to go out to dinner some time”, or “here, take my phone number and call me some time so we can go out”, or “my bed is way too big, why don’t you come over and share it with me”, they’re not flirting with you. They are not smiling because of your charm, they’re not talking to you because you’re so intriguing they can’t tear themselves away. They are literally doing their jobs. The fact that you think that a worker talking to you means they want access to whatever you have in your pants says quite a bit about you, and maybe you should get out a bit more.

That’s just the short list, the bare basics. Seriously, it takes so much energy to be an asshole sometimes. Why bother? I mean, what takes more effort; picking up your tray and throwing away your garbage after you eat, or making a large mural on the booth walls with ketchup and melted ice cream? Is your cashier ringing up your groceries slightly slower than usual really going to ruin your day, or are you just an asshole who wants to blame their bad mood on someone else?

But seriously, how you treat the people employed to serve you in any way, whether it be customer service or food service or vehicle service, is indicative of how you naturally will treat others. If I go out with a guy and he screams at our waitress and refuses to tip because “she’s the one dumb enough to stay in a job that relies on tips”, then there will be no second date. Hell, when that actually did happen there wasn’t even a full first date! I walked out of there as soon as I could (after making sure that server got a tip, of course). If you’re comfortable enough to scream at your mechanic in public because you have to wait an extra 10 minutes for your oil change, then what kind of asshole-style rage are you going to be comfortable with behind closed doors?

You don’t have to work any type of service job to be nice to service workers. You just need to not be an asshole.

Updated my “Why I’m Here” page for you all.

So it’s been a few years since I updated my “Why I’m Here” page. I looked it over today, and had a good laugh. When I started this blog 5 years ago, I feel like I was a totally different person. I saw the world in a completely different way, and it shows in my writing. I’ve evolved as a person, in ways I didn’t anticipate. It’s like I was an Eevee who always expect to become an Flareon, but somehow instead became a majestic Umbreon. So here’s the updated “Why I’m Here”, just so y’all can figure out why I’m here writing this.

No one’s life is perfect. Everyone has ups and downs, from huge life-altering ones to tiny things that barely register on the radar. We all have issues with money, work, relationships, navigating the basics of life, and trying to fit in as part of a society we don’t understand. We are surrounded by media showing us what our lives are supposed to be, what they’re supposed to look like. We’re all supposed to want to buy the house with the little fence, get married, have kids, work in a single fulfilling career until we retire, and then spend our days relaxing and travelling with our soulmate while we spoil our grandkids.

Sounds nice, don’t it?

But that’s not how life works for most of us. We’re at a point in time where we’re working multiple jobs, living with roommates through our 20s and sometimes our 30s, scraping by by the skin of our teeth. We have credit card debt, student debt, cell phone bills, internet bills, car bills, rent, utilities, food, and all the other things that come with being alive and trying to enjoy the time you have here.

That doesn’t mean everything is all bad though. Yes, the media keeps telling us that we’re the poorest generation, we have the most debt starting our lives after school, the housing market is crap and rents keep rising. But we’re also damn determined, stubborn, and we’re mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. We are redefining what it means to be alive, what it is to be a grown-up. The old “white picket fence, 2.5 kids and a dog” model for life is outdated. We’re re-writing the fairy tale image that everyone wants. We’re wood nymphs, dragons, warriors,majestic beings living what others would see as a fantasy life.

When I first started this blog, it was because I didn’t live up to the expectations that were before me. I started writing things to try and help people not end up like me. I had resume tips, how to navigate post-secondary school, how not to be a failure. I saw myself as this lesser being, this failure of person who was doomed to fail for life.

What a difference a few years make, eh?

Now I realize that I am majestic as fuck. I am strong, I am determined, and I’m cute as hell. I have the power to take control of certain aspects of my life, and the power to deal with the parts I can’t control. The vibe of this blog has changed over time, just as I’ve changed. Am I still The Failed Grown-Up? You’re damn right I am. I’ve failed at almost all of the things that I was told would be markers of my adulthood. But now I’m redefining what I feel it means to be grown-up, what it means to feel alive. Because when we look at what is normal now, we’re all damn failures. Revel in it, embrace it, learn to love the beast.

I will shout from the rooftops that I am a failure, because I will never have that perfect life. But no one gets that perfect life. Even the people around you, who seem to have it all together, who seem to know all the right things to say and are always in the right place at the right time, have their demons inside their head. No one has a perfect life, and if they say they do they’re hiding something.

It’s bodies, I bet. All those 0.5 kids we weren’t supposed to have are under their floorboards.

I Am A Garbage Human

I’ve been working a lot more hours at my book job recently. In the beginning I was lucky to get one 4-hour shift for a week, if I got any shifts at all. This week, I’m doing short shifts, but I’m working 5 days this week. Plus I have the 4 days I work at the booze job. Unfortunately, there is not 9+ days in a week, which means I’m not getting days off and have a few days of running between jobs.

Of course, this also means working more out of uniform. For my booze job I have to wear plain black pants and shoes with my uniform shirt. As long as I keep it all clean, I wear the same thing every single shift and no one cares. It’s not the same with the book job.

Dress code here is a little relaxed, but still professional. Some people show up in dress slacks and blouses, others in tights and tunics. Some wear nice jeans, some wear a different dress every day. Some have a very corporate vibe to them, some a bit edgier, some have a majestic hippy flare.

And then there’s me.

I like cardigans, pockets, and black. If I could, I’d wear combat boots or sneakers every day, with a cute dress (with pockets, of course) and a bandanna. I could change it up in the winter with tights and kilts. Adding tights to an outfit is the only difference between my summer wardrobe and my winter wardrobe. Sounds professional, eh?

I’m really not good at this “dressing like a professional grown-up” thing. Many many years ago, when I had my office job, it was so much easier. We sat behind desks in an office, and didn’t really care what we wore. There was no personality to it, no real effort. It was just dark dress pants, collared blouse, and heels. Sometimes I’d throw a knee-length skirt or some dressy boots into the mix, but it was all pretty basic.

But here, everyone has their own look, their own vibe. We’re working directly with the public, and are a different bunch of folk. We’re all very bookish, many of us are a bit artsy, there’s quite a few writers and researchers, and one woman who always seems to have pictures of bugs laying around for programs. Our CEO wears tights and shirt dresses, my manager wears pageboy hats and khakis, and we have quite a few visible piercings and tattoos in our break room. Basically, everyone is somewhat expected to show a little personality in their attire.

But I am a garbage human who can’t manage to combine “looking like myself” and “wearing something appropriate” into one look. Is a sundress and cardigan appropriate? What do I wear on my feet? Is rockabilly work appropriate? Are high heels ok to wear on the quiet floor? Are ankle bracelets professional, especially when they’re locally made and we push the “support local” movement? What’s the deal with bare legs? Or arms? Or face?

I’m just not good at this whole clothing thing. And it’s not just at work, either. I had to go to a friend’s bridal shower this weekend, and stared into my closet for a good 20 minutes before throwing on a long skirt and tank top. Of course once I get there, everyone is in jumpers: bridal party, friends, relatives of the couple, everyone. I was surprised the groom didn’t show up in a floral jumper at some point. I didn’t know jumpers were the thing to wear, and would have no clue how to wear one anyway.

While we’re on the topic of that shower, I am a total garbage human because I had no clue what to do for the shower. I knew enough to buy a gift off the registry, and had it shipped right to the bride’s house ahead of time like she had asked. The friends I went with did the same thing. But then when we showed up, they had presents. Like, they brought secondary presents to go with the presents they already sent. Like a present for the present!

The whole day was somewhat surreal for me. Woman were sitting around talking about families and careers, showing off pictures of kids and grandkids, talking about high school reunions and retirement parties. And there I am laughing in my head because a coworker sent me video of someone pooping in our parking lot that morning. Throw me in a bar, and I’m social. Carnival, totally social. Walking around downtown while checking on my homeless friends, extremely social. In a room full of women talking about regular, everyday things; awkward to the extreme.

I don’t know how to fully human.

I don’t get things like bridal showers, baby showers, gender reveal parties, engagement parties, housewarming parties, or basically anything else that celebrates milestones. When my brother graduated from University, we walked around for more than an hour taking pictures of him all over campus. When I graduated a few months later, I took back my robes and left. I didn’t even bother going to the graduation for my second degree, because what’s the point? I know it’s a big deal and all, but I just didn’t know how to make it feel like a big deal.

These events make me feel so awkward. I know I should be excited to be there, to be helping someone celebrate something in their life. But how? I basically sat around all day saying stupid crap like, “Wow, these potatoes are crisp”, “my what a moist chicken” and other nonsensical food related crap. I skipped the gender reveal party I was invited to right after that, because I can only handle so much awkwardness in one day. And to me nothing is more awkward than forced conversation with quasi-friends while a young couple smashes cupcakes in each other’s faces to reveal what their unborn spawn’s genitals will someday look like.

**shudders**

I know these are all like basic grown-up things that we humans do. We dress ourselves appropriately, we go to social events, and we celebrate milestones. This all seems so basic, and I still can’t wrap my head around it. Much like Jenna Marbles, I only have three looks: booze uniform, flannel-clad and disheveled with ripped jeans and old tank tops, and “what the hell am I supposed to wear, let’s close our eyes and pull things from the closet at random and hop it looks professional”. I have no real clue what I’m doing, whether it’s dressing the part or not being a socially awkward emu in a room full of majestic ostriches.

I’m just garbage at this.

But you know what? I kinda dig being trash. All of the people I’ve run into lately who seem to have it all together, all just seem so off. I’ve talked to people who are beautifully dressed, who have interesting lives and ideas, who do nothing but complain about every little thing. I complain about the things wrong with my life, joke about the dumpster fire it is right now, but I set about fixing things and enjoying the things I do have.

Instead of sitting around complaining the guy sitting at the corner on my walk is always there, and needs to get a life, and that if he took the $8 he made panhandling and put it towards rent he wouldn’t have to sit there, I freaking talked to him. He’s a sweet guy, limited income, who just like to sit and talk to people and has no one to talk to in his life.

Instead of ignoring my debts, pretending like they’re not there, and just hoping creditors will give up on ever collecting payment from me, I’m tackling things head-on. It’s as stressful as trying to bone quietly while your parents are reading in the next room and there’s no lock on your door. But it means I’m doing something about myself, I’m working on improving things, I’m working towards something, no matter how miserable it makes me at times. Would I like to bury my head in the sand and just forget all about this? Of course! But I’m not a majestic ostrich, just an awkward emu who is getting shit done.

Am I garbage? Hell yes! Am I awkward as hell? If you met me once you wouldn’t even have to ask that question, it’s a definite yes. But am I living life, working on me, trying to improve myself and my situation, and taking control of my life. Will I someday be able to navigate social gatherings? Maybe. Will I someday have the put-together wardrobe, the ability to walk in high heels, and hair that doesn’t remind small children of Ronald McDonald? It’s possible.

Just remember: if you’re a garbage human like me, if your life is a dumpster fire, if you are literal trash, things can always get better little bit by little bit if you put some work into it. It’s called a garbage CAN and not a garbage CANNOT for a reason.