Poetic Justice

I sometimes wish I could approach the seven year old version of myself, calmly place my hands on both of her arms (as to not cause alarm from a strange woman coming up to her randomly), and then proceed to just shake the ever-loving shit out of her until she stopped wanting to grow up and become a “Novelist.”

Like I even understood what the difference between “novel” and “book” was at the time.

I’m at a point in my life, however, where this doesn’t feel like an option. Writing has given me numerous advantages in this life, mostly in terms of communication style and my ability to articulate thoughts and emotions. The advantages of writing compel me to consistently encourage others to write. It’s good to write.

But to be a “writer”?

Nothing is ever simple. I can’t simply see a red light signal dangling from it’s connection without pondering if the light is a metaphor for my stance of my own addictive behaviors. A crack in the sidewalk becomes the divorce of my parents. Seeing someone at the movie theatre purchase popcorn and say, “You know? Maybe I’ll get a medium instead of the small” morphs itself into my innate fear of my eating disorder coming back and finding a comfortable host again.

Everything is symbolic. Everything has meaning. Even though ultimately, nothing does.

But not for a writer. Not for me. Everything just has to mean something and ultimately it is this same needless attention to details that causes those things to matter. When they could have just been events. 

It’s just a red light. It’s just a changed order. It’s just a crack in the sidewalk.

It was just a house.

***

Certain things are harder for me to write about and I know they will be ahead of time. I knew going into discussing my experiences in therapy that it wasn’t gonna be a walk in the park. I know that when I finally tell the story of my sexual assault that it will be the hardest post to write. But just like a wound that causes more blood than actually physical discomfort, you sometimes don’t realize how hurt you feel about something. That is, until you look down and realize how much you are actually bleeding.

“The house will be boxed up by the 15th. Is there anything you can think of that you want out of the house? The city of Westerville bought it and they’re going to tear it down.”

I received this text from my father earlier this month.

If you have read my other blogs detailing the events leading to my parents divorce this probably shouldn’t come off as a surprise. And honestly, I shouldn’t be surprised. It’s completely normal to get a divorce and then move after all of the kids have left the nest.

“The city of Westerville bought it and they’re going to tear it down.”

When I moved into the home that has recently been vacated in fifth grade, I was ecstatic. We had moved from a horrible apartment within inner-city Columbus to a suburban three-bedroom home with a yard that was on the main street (It’s literally called Main Street in some parts) of the town. I had my own bedroom for the first time ever. There was a porch I could sit and read on. I could walk to school.

My earliest memory in that house was when I was alone in my bedroom and took a sharpie and wrote “boob” on my bedroom wall. I chuckled as I did it and then went to wipe the writing away. No dice. The ink stuck the wall permanently and to my horror any cleaning agents used to erase the writing in fact made it worse, smearing the word into a purplish ghost inside my wall that was more or less wearing a shirt with “boob” on the front.

My HILARIOUS joke to myself had turned to a nightmare. I realized that there would be no way to fix this, my parents would know and at the end of the day I would have to look an adult person in the face and say, “I’m sorry I wrote ‘boob’ on the wall. I don’t know why I did that and it was pretty irresponsible.”

I always imagined the remedy would be a fresh coat of paint purchased a la the landlord, maybe a layer of cheap wallpaper, or a stronger cleaning agent than the Windex I found in the bathroom cabinet. I never for a moment considered that the remedy would be destroying the wall itself.

It was always an old house.

During my senior year of high school I remember fearing that my family would be evicted due to maintenance issues. There was mold literally everywhere. There was a hole in my kitchen ceiling from water damage from the bathroom upstairs. By “water damage” I mean my father filling up the bathtub so much that the water pooled into the floor and then burst a hole in the kitchen downstairs like something out of Home Alone 3. The wooden floorboards of the above bathroom were always exposed. My bedroom window didn’t have one of the window panes so I used duct tape for almost five years (not at all a problem for Ohio temperatures). It smelled exactly like what you would imagine this house would smell like but also don’t forget to add the fact that people were smoking cigarettes and weed in there on the daily surrounded by 3 cats and a dog.

The house had major shortcomings and as i have said before, I was thrilled to leave that house that I never felt was a home.

With each visit to that house I felt myself breaking up with it more and more. It always felt like each time I opened the door I had tripped a countdown in the sky that decreased by one. And I’ve even mentioned that it felt like the last time I would be there the last time I visited.

I was right.

It’s strange to mourn for something you loathed. I’ve never felt this way but I guess in my mind I had imagined someday going back, looking at the house from the sidewalk and remembering the moments that took place inside. Those moments that made me who I am. Made my family who they are.

You can’t do that when you’re staring at a law office or a Jamba Juice. I mean, you could try, but you may get a tad distracted.

If I ever have kids I won’t be able to take them to that house and point out the window that was definitely repaired by someone afterward. I can’t show them the backyard that would have a new fence put in, would have a graveled drive way at that point. I can’t indicate the repainted porch that I spent hours of my adolescence searching for answers on. It will simply be land. Land that has felt the scar of time and progress moving forward, a wound that affects every area of our neighborhoods and cities inevitably.

This is why you should never be a writer. That house isn’t being torn down at the end of the month. My childhood is. The family that lived there has been demolished and now the house will be too.

That’s how it feels lately. I know things are both more and less simple than how they usually seem.

A friend of mine from childhood had some words of successful comfort. She explained that while I may not be able to ever go back there, there is something nice about the fact that my family was the last family there.

And of course when she said “nice” my bullshit broken-ass brain heard “poetic”.

***

Years from now I may be pointing to a Jamba Juice but at least when I do so I’ll say,

“You know, before all of this there was a family that lived here. Their love language was screaming and denial but they were there for 14 years. They’re all over the country now but that story all ended right in front of you. Right here.”

With being a writer comes a dissatisfaction from unfinished endings. And while I find the poetic nature of my childhood home being demolished uncomfortable, at least the story that the house contained is over. And even though its easy to feel like it is erased, that isn’t the truth at all.

Because I’m a writer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Held Hostage

I’m at the Guest Reception desk today. A chair sits unoccupied next to me because we are not to sit in the chair while a guest is at the desk. I have been standing for forty minutes now, nodding and “mhm”-ing out of courtesy. The man who stands before me clears his throat before he begins his sentences and juts his chin out at the end of them. He brushes his hair back and smiles at me frequently but based on the fact that he is still at the front desk he must not satisfied.

No one in the lobby suspects that the man has been here for this long.

And no one in the hotel is aware of the fact that I am currently being held hostage.

There is no gun to my head. I’m not sitting in a cold room tied to a chair. I’m not being gagged or bound. I’m simply standing at the front desk listening to a man talk and talk and talk (and talk some more).

I am currently being held against my will by the service industry.

But more specifically, this man who stands before me.

The man is friendly enough, sure. However, his questions about the surrounding neighborhood have slithered into conversations about the social climate of dating and how this man (and surely, only this man) knows everything there is to know about dating. He itches for my feedback but I have no idea how the best coffee shop in the neighborhood has anything to do with how apparently twenty-somethings can’t hold a conversation anymore.

To note: I’m currently 24.

Conversation Duration: Over forty minutes.

This man moves on to explain how people in their twenties are so scared and so confused about the world that anyone can:

  1. Say anything they want to them.
  2. Do anything they want with them.

He may as well simply said, “Do anything you want to them.”

My knee jerk response is, “So you mean harassing women is easier when they’re younger than you? Stellar findings, my dude. No fucking way.”

What comes out: “Yeah?”

I’m confined to the front desk. I am bound by guest services and customer satisfaction. I look at the phone and beg for it to save me. The phone stares back silently as if to say, “Not today, bitch. I’ll be back once you’re doing something important.”

I look back to the man and smile weakly. I’m going to be here for a minute, I see. I brace myself for the interrogations.

About two years ago I developed a habit. When someone is doing something to me that I don’t feel I deserve (talking, screaming, yelling, crying, assaulting, so forth) I begin to count. One, two, three, four… I count for as long as I can. Rather, I count until I have to respond to what’s happening around me.

This man has caused the numbers to stretch on and on in my mind. Twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-thr-

“The only two things you need to do to get laid is be the most arrogant sonofabitch in the room and only bullshit about things that you know how to talk about. Don’t say you’re great at basketball if you know nothin’ about basketball.”

How did we get to basketball? Wait, no, he wasn’t actually talking about basketball. He was discussing how to be the best predator. How to always catch your prey. How to make sure your prey doesn’t even know that you’re a predator to begin with or God forbid, know that you suck dick at basketball.

“Of course,” I say. I look down at the computer for sympathy. I go from his eyes to the screen. I type at the keys hoping that these furious fingers give him indication that he is in fact, disrupting me from what I was doing. What was I doing again?

He keeps talking despite the clackety-click of the keyboard. He talks and talks about how dating is a psychological game (that he’s the best at!), how a club is a football field that he knows how to play the best (but no three-pointers, okay?!), how easy it has always been for him to get women because he knows exactly what they all want to hear.

“Hey, could you fuck off? I actually have shit that I need to do and I don’t really even know what you’re getting at here.”

This comes out of my mouth but sounds exactly like:

“And what was it that I can help you with specifically?”

His eyes flash from my tits to my eyes when I ask this. He reveals in a moment that he has been found out: What can she help me with?

I’m sure he could think of many ways I could “help” him.

“Oh, yeah, I was wondering where I should grab dinner tonight?”

This has come after he has already asked me where to get breakfast and where the closest “actually-tastes-like-coffee” cafe would be. Now he needs to know about his dinner plans because he’s a man that plans all of the day’s cuisine at once in the morning. I give him the first restaurant that comes to mind.

Conversation over.

Except he stays and talks about how often he travels on business. How much time he spends in hotels and how easy it is to read women regardless of the state they are encompassing. How getting laid is less complicated than his friends make it out to be.

Its when I notice the fact that I’m almost off of this shift that I realize that he has not once asked me for my name. But…what’s in a name, right?

I feel the gun getting closer to my head as he seems to lean in closer and closer to the front desk, my only defense against his advances. I feel like a singular fish in the barrel of the guest services area. I have nowhere to go. He continues to tell me about how he loves visiting the city because the women want to fuck more. One fish, two fish, three fish, four…

As I count the man becomes every man that has stood on the other side of this desk. The men that make sly commentary on my lips, the men that ask if I’m “this nice to all the guys that come in here”, the man that once asked what the hotel featured in its amenities and asked if I came with the room. These men all morph into the man standing in front of me now.

All men who have held me against my will under the pretense of guest services. The required “How may I help you?”s met with the bondage of peaked interest in my chest and attempts at charm. The gag they place with a smirk in every “Well I don’t know, how can you help me?” The gun they place to my temple when they finally say, “Calm down, calm down, I’m just joking.”

I think of these moments as the man continues stroking his God complex. He’s now telling me of how much money he makes as a business analyst. How this makes women sleep with him more. I’ve never been explained so vivaciously someone’s sexual record in my life. It is as if this man thinks I collect for Guinness and I’m publishing a new addition of world records in amount of women fucked. I’ve begun to ignore him more successfully and he quickly takes note.

“I think you’re incredibly amusing.” he says.

“Well I would hope so.” I say half-heartedly. A safe answer. My only answer as I feel a noose tightening more and more around my neck.

He breaks his (attempts at) eye contact for the first time and looks down to the floor. My captor seems to have completely changed demeanor and for a brief moment I think that he will leave now.

I’m wrong, of course. 

“So what was the name of the restaurant I should go to tonight?” he asks. I remind him of its name.

He spins on his heel and looks just above my right shoulder. He wants to look as if he is looking at me but I don’t think he has actually looked at me once in the almost hour that he has stood at the front desk.

He sighs and bites his lip nervously. What comes out of his mouth next leaves me dumbfounded despite the fact that I found dumb the second he walked up to this desk.

“I just like…hate going to dinner alone, you know? Like, I usually will prefer that someone comes with me-”

He is cut off suddenly by another guest approaching the front desk. A beacon of hope, my true savior against this subtle captor. I feel the binds of his arrogance loosen and his gun drop to the floor with his cowardice. I look to this unexpected early check-in with gratitude and give the best guest services smile I have ever given.

“How may I help you?” I ask my savior. I intentionally use the exact inflection and words with this mom and her daughter that I greeted this man with. He’s just the same as all of the other guests, despite his imaginary throne. He can see this now as he takes a few steps from the front desk. Should he stay and finish his sentence? Should he just leave? But he has already been here so long?

I smile at him politely in justified dismissal. He heads toward the lobby and sits staring at his phone, feigning disinterest. My shift ends and after the check-in I leave the desk and am released of any obligation to politeness, brushing past him in the lobby and leaving briskly moments later.

Despite this release I find myself thinking of this man hours after the encounter. I just hate eating alone, he said. The man who “always gets laid”. The man that “knows women better than they know themselves”. The man who can get anyone.

This same man asks me to dinner by saying, “I hate eating alone.”

Not:

“Well since you recommended the restaurant would you care to join me?”

Not:

“Would you like to accompany me tonight?”

Not even:

“Well did you have any plans later?”

The king of the world can’t ask me out to dinner in any way other than, “Well I don’t wanna be alone! Will you hold my hand to dinner?” I envision him with a pacifier as he asks me if I prefer a red or a white wine. The entire encounter baffles me. How could a man think that I would possibly say yes to that?

Because other women have in the past, perhaps? Enough women, anyway. Maybe.

I silently mourn for any woman that has allowed that man to enter them. I also consider how many of those women were simply manipulated into that scenario whether it was with alcohol, drugs, or worse. I shutter and then remind myself of a simple truth:

He wasn’t successful in his attempts at sleeping with me.

For what all of my captivity in that moment was worth, I did at least one thing that I felt was positive: I didn’t give him what he claimed he had always received. I showed him that his arrogance would not always be rewarded.

This supposed magician of women had shown me all of his cards and still expected me to “Aha!” when he performed his final trick. However, once I exited the front desk area it was him to realize that this was all a game of smoke and mirrors. A mere facade that we all put on every day to work in the service industry.

A facade that this man and every single man that has ever held someone hostage in this way will soon realize is all part of the show.

A show that they weren’t casted in to begin with.

Call Waiting

Why do I want to slap myself in the face, you ask?

Well, that’s just because I’m no longer eating anything with a face.

I’m a vegan now.

I don’t actually want to slap myself. I’m pretty cool with this plan because I’m the one that made the plan. The plan? I’m going to be on a vegan diet until April 2nd. That will be exactly three months and after I finish I’ll adopt back into my diet what I felt I was really missing from that time.

Like I don’t think I need pork but I do think I’ll “need” cheese, ja feel me?

Why am I doing this? A few reasons and the last one will be the main theme of the post. 

  1. I watched the Ellen special on Netflix and she said she was vegan for seven whole years. “It’s the healthiest I’ve ever been!” she said. Well, Ellen, that’s what everyone says about being vegan. So now I want to see if these people (and DeGeneres herself) are full of shit.
  2. To see if I could even do it.
  3. I needed a health-minded change to the way I approach food and eating in general.

This decision was not triggered by the new year (my resolution is not to say goodbye to milk and eggs) as much as it was triggered by what the holidays just mean for everyone’s diet and bodily awareness (or complete fucking lack of).

I can almost feel my body Nosferatu-rise from my gingerbread grave covered in all of the sugar and alcohol that I’ve consumed from November-January 2nd. It feels good to be out of that time, regardless of what year it may have been.

This past holiday season was always going to be strange for me in that it was the first winter that I didn’t travel home for the holidays. There were numerous reasons for this, a major one being that I’m the manager of a hotel which is a 365/24/7 industry. Leaving the hotel for the holidays would kind of feel like if I left my car on a random street for a few days when I know I’m just going to come back to it to find it with a million tickets on the windshield. Naturally, I didn’t want that. 

I stayed in Chicago for the holidays and was relieved of any familial drama (of which there would be p l e n t y). I wouldn’t have to pick-a-parent, didn’t need to drive on icy roads, didn’t have to vehemently avoid any family members that I’ve managed to dodge for this long. 

Suddenly, the holiday season was whatever I wanted it to be!

Which…

Was more responsibility than I anticipated.

I don’t know why I thought I’d spend December in the gym as many times as I was going in April or why I expected my diet to stay the same as it had been prior to October. But I did hope for that, guys. But what ended up happening was what the holidays have always been known for. No matter where I was when they were happening the holidays were always going to be about warm drinks, deals on fuzzy socks at Target, and so much motherfucking food. 

Which is what I was afraid of. The reason millions of people love the holidays is what I despise about them. The sudden focal point of the holidays that send all anxieties on a 3-month paid vacation into my head: food.

***

I think that anyone that has or has had an eating disorder views the holidays with at least some hesitance and anxiety. I remember eating Thanksgiving dinner and telling my grandmother I wasn’t feeling well just so I could shove a finger down my throat in high school. I remember hiding food and eating it secretly while home for the holidays just so I could feel included but still be able to purge. The holidays are the hardest time of the year for these temptations to starve or purge. 

And that was before I got good at having an eating disorder, when I was much younger and thankfully more afraid of what I was capable of. I approach the holidays the same every year because of these past experiences and this year was just the same.

The entire past two months has felt like a tightrope walk. I’ve walked the wire while attempting to find balance between enjoying healthy indulgences during the holiday season aaand sporadically starving myself because I felt so anxious about those indulgences. My tightrope performance has been by no means perfect and I definitely have stumbled many times. 

Eating disorders don’t go away easily, turns out. 

They didn’t go away when I was in high school, resurfacing in numerous ways when I was in college. They didn’t go away in college, only to come back to haunt me with a vengeance with the anorexia that was the year of 2016. I feel that vengeance occurred because I never really addressed my disordered eating in the first place. With others or myself. 

I’ve addressed my eating disorder at this point, clearly. I’m at a point where I can discuss that time and be open about that issue because I know how isolated I felt. But it was really hard to get there. 

I remember the moment I finally admitted to myself that I had a problem.

At the end of 2017 I began wanting to eat normally again. People had began to notice my weight and ask questions about my methods of weight loss. I decided I didn’t need my eating disorder anymore but was surprised to find that I still wanted it.

The reason for this is pretty simple for me (in retrospect, of course). I was assaulted for the second time in a year that same month. Eating was not a priority and the fact that I was starving myself didn’t phase me very much. I had other things on my mind and while I wrestled with those thoughts, my disorder found a more comfortable home. A home that the owner had neglected for a long time. 

I had entered the chew-and-spit stages of my disorder. At this point in time I felt like a ghost inside my own body. The sexual assault provide a newfound hatred of the body I had. When I was assaulted in April of that year I’d had a very different body (probably at least 50 pound heavier). I had changed so much of my body in what I felt were positive ways so that I could feel less worthless. 

Being assaulted in April made me fight for control over my body, starving myself meticulously to gain that control. Being assaulted in October made all of that hard work pointless. I would never have control over my body. 

Starving myself went from feeling like something I had to do to something that I just did. I felt very alone. I remember thinking that my eating disorder was my only true friend during that time.

However, it was a toxic one. A toxic friend that had kept resurfacing in my life, no matter how many times I “got better”. A toxic friend that forced me to question why we stopped talking in the first place since they kept coming back. I remember sobbing in my car because I felt like starving myself was a phone call I couldn’t ignore. A phone call that I couldn’t even trace.

I had stopped writing for writing’s sake during that time but suddenly felt a need to get the thoughts outside of my head. It felt good to finally write down the way I felt even if all of the words felt like poison on paper. Looking back I know I felt good about it because I was finally being vulnerable about something that I hadn’t been open about in any way, even to myself.

For vulnerabilities sake, I will include what I wrote down that day. I think a lot of it felt more true in that moment but a lot of it still lingers. Obviously, this will be a bit graphic and I appreciate your patience in terms of understanding what was going through my head during this time:

The first call came in third grade.

I was pinching my stomach, watching cartoons in the mirror

When I answered the phone, you were silent.

I could only hear static.

The next call came in middle school,

My common name shared with many

Yet, there was no confusion.

The “fat” one, so easy to find, 

Me.

When I answered the phone this time,

The cord shoved its finger down my throat during lunch.

The calls kept coming after that

You told me your name in high school,

we’d gotten so close.

You called all the time.

I’ve always been so bad with math,

Though I find stability in its numbers.

So many calories counted

All calculated perfectly until that night.

The numbers vanish when he touches me

He takes me and every calorie left inside.

The phone is ringing off the hook now

An urgent message ringing true,

Where did you go?

We still have work to do. 

A suitable target, sure

But what else do you have?

You’re good for nothing

but I guess good enough.

And you’re not done yet.

No one cares that I’ve taken this call in the middle of dinner

They don’t know I haven’t eaten in weeks.

I find myself alone again so

I call old friends.

I don’t mention my new friend.

I instead tell them how good I feel,

They tell me how good I look.

I thank them and mean it.

They’re telling me a story now.

I can’t hear it,

I can only hear static.

I have another call coming in

And I really need to take it.

I’m including this piece in the post because I’ve heard this same phone call non-stop for the past three months. Many times before as well. I’ll even admit that I have answered the phone a few times but have thankfully hung up before any real damage could be done. 

I was in a very dark place when I wrote those words but the underlying persistence of my body-images issues still linger from time to time (read: day-to-day). I still often feel like I will never feel satisfied but then thankfully realize how scary that would be. That’s a scary thought: Hating your own body forever. 

I often wonder how long I’ll hear this call.

My main hope lies in the fact that in the past year I haven’t heard the phone ring as much. The call has become something I actively tune out once its time for me to eat. Its harder to hear the phone over the sound of my headphones while on the treadmill or when I am cooking food instead of placing an order for delivery.

I’ve made incredibly deliberate choices that have made it so that the calls are less frequent and more spread out. That feels good to say and in a world in which I understand this emotion, I might even feel proud of myself.

The holidays are hard for anyone dealing with this and we have to remember to be extra good to ourselves, despite the desire to deprive ourselves of the indulgences of the season. We deserve those indulgences as much as anyone else and we deserve to treat our bodies with respect.

We deserve to hear that call and choose to not answer the phone.

***

My only resolution this year is to come to terms with the body I have. The body I had. The body I will have. I believe that doing so will give me genuine control of my body. Control that I still don’t feel like I have but despite everything have always still yearned for. 

It’s going to require a lot of work (I’m thinkin’ a therapist? A diet plan to ensure I do eat? Exercise? Another thing I don’t wanna do on my day off?)

This is my goal because while it will be work, doing those things can’t be more exhausting than how tiring hating myself is. It’s been a similar fatigue as to when I was still starving myself but at times I feel even more alone about it. I’m not starving myself anymore so I feel like if I express issues with disordered eating I am wasting everyone’s time.

In the same way as when I still had my eating disorder there isn’t anything anyone can do to make these feelings go away. No amount of “No, you’re beautiful”s can change the fact that I still struggle with my body. I still have panic attacks where I imagine my body naked on a coroner’s table, unable to shield myself from view. I imagine the coroner disappointed in what they are forced to look at and cut into. I’m the coroner and the body.  This has been a mental battle as much as its been a physical one. 

But I do have some control over the body that will lay on a coroner’s table someday and I have a few things to attend to prior to that day regarding my body.

I want that body to be one that I cared for and treated well. I want that body to be one that lives long enough to finish what I’ve started here. But most importantly, I want that body to be one that its owner loved. I don’t want to die still feeling like a ghost inside my own skin.

Like I’ve said, this won’t be easy. Which is why I am taking it slow and trying to be fair to myself (even though cheese being gone doesn’t feel fair). I’m focusing on a plant-based diet. I’m training to run a 5k this year. I am setting clear and obtainable goals that don’t set myself up for failure because I know that I am already suffering from a learning curve as it is. 

My goal is to try to get to know my body instead of ignoring it until I have to think about it. My body has been the enemy for so long that I assumed eating at all was good enough for the rest of forever. I was wrong.

I didn’t realize that even though I’m eating again, I still view my body as that annoying relative that I’m forced to see during the holidays. The relative that I’m so good at avoiding.

I hope that for the next holiday season I can approach that same relative with a huge embrace. I hope that I can run up to them and discuss 2019 together because we we’re supporting each other that entire time. I want to know them and love them. And we might suck at communicating a few times this year but I don’t want that to matter because I’ll love them just the same.   

That’s the goal, anyway.

And honestly?

I already feel that 2018 made me closer to this relative because I wasn’t stuck on the phone that entire time. 

So that’s something, right?

Happy holidays, everyone. Enjoy your cheese.

Mothman! The Truth is Someplace

Hello there!

So the month of November has been a fucking crap shoot for the most part. Sometimes I feel hopeful for the future solely due to how crappy my current situation feels. I’m sure many of you agree with the holiday season being upon us. It’s a hectic time and its hard to make time for ourselves with the whole “gift of giving” pressure.

This month has also been insane because I have completed production on a project that I have been working on since early 2017. A friend and I wrote it together and I directed and produced the project while he starred and also co-directed. I also am in it but play a minor role as the camera operator. It’s a web series called “MOTHMAN! The Truth is Someplace”. Its a mockumentary web series that tells the story of three specialists as they attempt to locate the Mothman in Chicago after the 20 sightings in 2016 (that’s real, by the way, and many of the episodes are based on the sightings).

This is probably one of the most ambitious projects I have ever done. I am very happy with how it turned out and I’m very thankful for everyone that helped make it real. I faltered many times while making this but the people I created it with pushed me through. It’s easy to give up on yourself but much harder to give up on others, I’ve noticed. I’m so happy that this project was made and that I helped make it happen.

So, while I mentioned in my last post that my next entry would be about money, I have decided to release that one a little closer to Christmas when I know I will have things to say (not to say I don’t already, I definitely do). I just think money is an incredibly toxic element to our lives and it only becomes magnified during the holiday season, disguised as “cheer”.

And as for now, I’ve attached the first episode of my web series, “MOTHMAN! The Truth is Someplace” There are five episodes, all under ten minutes. It would mean the world to me if you gave it a watch and WHO KNOWS even a subscription to our channel!

Creating is the number one reason I’m still on this flaming trash can of a planet. This was one of my most rewarding distractions from the crazy of this year.

I hope you enjoy.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Blackout of 2018

A universal concept we all address at some point or another is the denial of certain situations becoming our situation.

“This thing will definitely not happen to me…”

“But, you know, that would never happen…”

“That’s never happened before so I doubt it would ever happen now…”

Only to have moments later that exact situation to happen. Which is what the bulk of this post is about. Anticipating struggle.

***

I’m the manager of a hotel on the north side of Chicago. It’s a boutique hotel built in the early 1900’s with only 45 rooms. Despite my constant aspiration I would still say that my biggest claim to fame would be on Trip Advisor (I’m apparently a DELIGHT!) I took my first vacation this past week to attend a wedding in Florida of a dear friend of mine. This vacation has been planned since October of 2017 and I was excited to be able to relax and unwind in the sunshine state, visiting Key West and Tampa to see old friends.

And then about a week before I left my identity was stolen. As was $7000 through my credit card.

Being financially assaulted in this way caused my life to implode right before my vacation. I battle with my stance on vulnerability in writing this blog post because I don’t want to talk about it at all, which has actually made me want to write my next blog post about m o n e y. So fucking much of my shame and sadness has always related to money, so I won’t even get into it here because it deserves it’s own dang post. Check back in two weeks from now to hear about how poor I’ve always been (and hahahaha probably always will be!)

Long story short: My vacation wasn’t all that exciting anymore.

This happened in the week leading up to my flight, causing me to tumble into one of the most depressive episodes in Chicago thus far, with the exception of the times in which I was sexually assaulted (but this experience felt very familiar and also triggered a lot of issues with PTSD from those incidents). I hid from everyone. I relapsed in ways I hadn’t explored in years. I extended the release date of a project that I have been working on since late 2017. Truth be told, I just wanted a CTA bus to drop tackle me all week.

Meanwhile, I needed to get everything ready at the hotel for my super duper fun and definitely expensive vacaaaaaay. I was very anxious leaving the property for a week because I wanted to make absolute sure that everything that needed to be taken care of was accommodated. Not to mention we had a new-hire so I needed to make sure that every possible bad thing that could happen was covered and trained so that all my nuts and bolts ran smoothly while I was in Florida.

Over the weekend I was gone, a thought occurred to some of my desk agents. What would they do if there was blackout? They realized that if at any point in time (and psht, this would never happen) the lights were to all shut off, they wouldn’t actually know what to do in that situation.

So naturally, around 5pm on Saturday there was a blackout at my hotel. And meanwhile, I too was suffering from a blackout of astronomically high alcoholic proportions.

Thankfully they called our building maintenance technician and not the lady that the wedding’s bartenders had dubbed “Two Shots of Tequila”. The lights came back on and everything was well (for the hotel anyway, my lights didn’t turn on until much later in my hotel room when my friend wouldn’t stop quoting “Shrek” while we tried to sleep.)

This conundrum made me think about the two sides of fear I see (and dish out) the most.

1. “This would never happen to me” (denial).

2. “This is definitely going to happen to me” (paranoia).

And what matters most is that no matter how much we anticipate struggle there is no way to avoid it happening when it does. I flew around the hotel looking like Beaker from The Muppets for three days straight to prevent anything going wrong and in the end, that didn’t change our entire city block’s power being shut off (and I mean like, there was bitch trapped in our elevator that I’m shocked didn’t write a shitty review of us level of blackout).

Is this the part where I am supposed to bring up balance? Ehh, probably, but no thanks.

I can tell you 100% that I would never have thought that my identity would be stolen. Or that I would have to respond to student suicide, be sexually assaulted, and definitely not be sexually assaulted again. Regardless, I constantly make myself anxious in trying to control everything that I cannot because what if a bad thing happens to me again?

In the end this makes it that I am:

1. Always blind-sided by the shitty things that happen to me (because if these things happened what else could possible go wrong? Oh shit, something can still go wrong?)

2. Always allow my constant anxiety for small stupid shit to be affirmed by anything that blind-sides me (because my anxiety is now valid because, I mean, look what happened!)

Which adds up to me just never being fucking happy I guess.

And that has nothing to do with any of the stuff that has happened (which is objectively pretty shitty stuff), that has everything to do with the way I view and anticipate pain and struggle.

In the past (and I would say even on this blog) I have said that I always feel so close to killing myself because I wouldn’t know how to handle anything worse than what I have already experienced. But…what makes something worse? Why does something have to be worse?

The identity theft and financial loss that made me re-evaluate this claim because I am in fact, still here (you’re begrudgingly welcome). And I really didn’t want to be, guys. I’m still processing what happened to me and accidentally “processed it” (read: was kicked out of not one but two bars) while in Florida. This type of pain is something I’ve never had to process and it is fear based. I questioned if the identity theft was worse than the sexual assault and that was the point in which I realized I can’t look at pain in the way that I do. Constantly one-upping my own traumatic experiences. This strips each experience of the potential growth from them.

I used to view pain and struggle as a spectrum from least painful to most painful. I realize now that its just all over the damn place and the degree in which is hurts is also all over the place, dependent on a million factors. Not everyone is gonna bat an eyelash at losing $7000 but that makes me want to vomit even typing it out. Would I have been as hurt by the identity theft if I hadn’t already felt like so much has been stolen from me through the assaults? Probably not and that just proves my point even further. If you view all of your pain as compounding, this will in fact cause you to eventually kill yourself. You justify all of your darkness and validate the idea of never finding light.

But most importantly: Anticipating pain won’t make any of the horrible things that happen to you any less painful.

***

I’ve been trying to just allow myself to not be okay and feel pain as it comes, something I’ll never predict. I relaxed many times in Florida, allowing a forecast of brief showers of affection and gratitude and way too many double tequila pineapples. I saw many people that I love and cherish and allowed myself to let as much love in as possible, knowing very well that it would make it harder to do anything dumb when I went back to Chicago and my vacation was over.

I’m trying to see pain as necessary and I’m trying to view future pain in the same way that I view the impending Chicago winter. It’s going to fucking suck and maybe make me want to give up and die in the middle of the street but hopefully (maybe by July or something?) it will be over. It will pass.

I’m trying, at least. It’s hard, especially now. But as is the case in many of these stories and explanations, trying is sometimes all that I can manage and it’s okay. Regardless of the varying levels of effect, I still sabotage my own mental illness on a daily basis. I encourage everyone else to do the same because even if you want to kill yourself, you can’t do that as easily if you promised someone that they could stay at your hotel with your employee discount. Where would they go, the Hampton Inn???

I also apparently want to sabotage my liver because I was so hammered on this trip that I switched shirts with a man that wasn’t wearing a shirt at all.

Here’s to another post and many more to come.

That’s a promise.

 

Seis la vie

This is my sixth blog post on Twenty Unfourtunate, which feels pretty nice. It’s no longer one of the early posts but it definitely isn’t one of the last, seeing as I still have most of this year to live. I’ve been very stressed and overwhelmed lately. It is time like this where I tend to let smaller projects (like idk, a blog maybe) go to the side and focus on only the important stuff. Which is unfair to do the fact that importance can be pretty subjective, especially when you have to keep reminding your brain to stop wanting to self-destruct.

This blog is an important stuff. So while I don’t have anything in particular that I feel like I should talk about (at this point in time, anyway), I still want to post and give myself a break from everything else for moment. Because while everything else seems to whirl around me, this blog could be a constant. If I want it to be. Or rather, allow it to be.

And what has been on my mind MOST lately if how hard it is to describe my issues with people who don’t suffer from any mental imbalances. I don’t blame them at all and honestly the only feelings of negativity I have toward these people are rooted in envy.

BUT I also think people should try to understand. Most of the people I surround myself with do but I still sometimes run into times where my sentences end with, “I don’t know, I guess I don’t really know how to articulate this…”

So here is me trying to do just that. I’m going to provide comparisons to other struggles in our day-to-day that may provide some empathy and understanding toward mania . So, without further ado:

Depression kinda feels like…

  1. Constantly receiving a breakup text from your willingness to live.
  2. Walking in on your partner cheating on you but your partner is your brain and the other person is every possible bad decision you could make (like getting plastered BEFORE a work-related event where there is an open bar) and your brain and the bad decisions are just GOIN’ AT IT.
  3. Already being hammered but at an open bar (may or may not relate to #5)
  4. When you wake up after missing your alarm after 24 years .
  5. Always having an ear infection that makes it that you only ever hear the shitty things people say about you.
  6. Waiting for 40-60 years in line for Space Mountain except Space Mountain is just dying and the cool music in the queue keeps skipping and asking you why you haven’t texted them back in a while.
  7. When your flight keeps getting delayed over and over and over again but you didn’t bring a charger to the airport and your destination is For This to All Be Over (or like, Key West which is kinda the same thing)
  8. Being forced to attend the wedding between two friends you barely speak to anymore named Self-Care and Self-Worth.
  9. The feeling you get when you didn’t know there was another step so you trip and fall on your fucking face after having a minor heart attack.
  10. Dry heaving all of your responsibilities when you haven’t eaten in days.

….but all the fucking time.

 

Stay tuned for an exciting project I am working on which has taken up the majority of my mental capacity. In the mean time, catch me back here in another two weeks.

Thanks for reading.

Cat Eye of the Storm

When I was a kid I used to sleep through hurricanes.

Growing up in Florida, this was pretty common and often necessary. But my dad used to tell me that he was impressed with the level of storm I was able to sleep straight through, regardless of how crazy the storms would get. Knowing the person who I am today, this behavior makes sense.

There are five categories of hurricane on the official Saffir-Simpson scale, increasing in destruction with each category. I’d wager that most of the storms I’d sleep through were lower categories of hurricanes but I do remember some of the harsher storms that people see on the news. The sky would turn green, branches would smash into our house, the wind a constant roar from outside. I loved watching a storm form (if I was awake for it).

What I loved the most about hurricanes was that there wouldn’t even always be a lot of rainfall. Sometimes it was horrible outside and you wouldn’t even know it unless you were actually out there, inside of the storm. There’s something beautifully unassuming about a destructive storm without rain to me.

I think I find it beautiful because high-functioning mental illness can feel like that. Complete chaos and destruction with moments of complete and total control and clarity. Making the storm all the more frustrating because since no one can see the rain, no one believes that the storm exists in the first place.

It’s hurricane season and I’ve adopted a “category four” cat.

***

I’ve wanted a cat for quite some time. I’ve always been a cat person and when it came to moving to Chicago I always had the idea of adoption in the back of my head. For a few reasons, really.

  1. Great for cuddles and love.
  2. Great for the lonely feelings that occur intermittently throughout the day.
  3. HORRIBLE for suicidal idealization.

It’s true. Harder to kill yourself when you have a cat.

Disclaimer: I had many reasons to adopt a cat and considered e v e r y t h i n g that must be considered prior to choosing mine and I would have adopted the little nugget whether or not I had considered tripping over a javelin that week. This cat has a good home and will always be cared for. I could never leave the poor little thing (and I suppose my friends, family, and employees but you know, whatever).

Partially out of fear that my cat would eat my corpse.

I do believe that she would eat my dead body. I guess that would be okay with me because the idea of my cat suffering because of my (probably botched) suicide would really upset the ghost version of myself. However, I’m not positive that she would be eating me just because she needed to survive. She might eat me just because I stopped moving for long enough.

My cat’s name is Tefiti (yes, from the Pixar film Moana), but we call her Fiti. Fiti was taken in off the streets by Chicago Animal Control. Fiti is a year-and-a-half old tabico that loves treats, laser pointers, and fluffy blankets.

She is also completely and totally mentally unbalanced. But it makes sense.

This is her story:

Fiti was born a year and a half ago to what I have romanticized as a wonderfully happy cat family. However, she was separated from her mother far too quickly as a kitten which has caused her to still suckle random things around the apartment. I’m not sure about this gap of history, however, at some point after she was separated from her mom, Fiti was adopted into a home, thrown out of said home onto the mean Chicago streets ( the streets of hopefully, like, Lincoln Park but ???), and also became PREGNANT with kittens. These kittens are currently MIA. So not only was little Fiti separated from HER mom, but her children were also separated from HER. All of this happened within a year and a half of her little kitty life which was spent mostly on the streets.

So the bitch is damaged.

She’s a cat version of a teen mom just trying to make a kitty name for herself on the Chicago streets who needs no man, just pigeons to kill. And PAWS Animal Shelter took her in to help her find a forever home.

When you enter a shelter to adopt an animal there are tons of thoughts that go into your head. Those thoughts do not usually include, “Let’s find one of the most high maintenance animals in this building.” My boyfriend and I certainly didn’t have this thought (but probably should have).

We wanted a kitten because, you know, kittens. And not just because they’re the cutest but because we wanted a cat that would grow with us and bond to us as it’s owners which can be harder for older cats to do sometimes. Kitten wasn’t a requirement, just a preference. There were no kittens but they said that there was a younger cat “upstairs” that we could take a look at. She wasn’t allowed with other cats.

Before entering the room the employee explained that the shelter had different “categories” that they used to distinguish the cat’s behavior. Category One held no conditions for adoption, so essentially “WILL YOU NOT KILL THE KITTEN?! NO?!? HERE, TAKE IT!”. The cat we were about to meet was a “category two” cat.

“What does category two mean?” we asked.

“Oh, well, you have to have experience with owning a cat in the past and she is also not allowed to be around any other cats.”

No red flags had mentally flown yet. She can’t have other cat friends and I have to have had a cat before. Check. Check. Open the damn door, lady, I wanna see my future cat.

And sure as shit, we walk into the room and little Fiti ran up to us and we fell in love immediately. We chose her and the attendant was ecstatic. We left her little cat room and went downstairs to complete the paperwork.

As we left the room, the attendant grabbed her paperwork off the door. She was the only cat in the room so grabbing her papers was easier than most cats whose files were with the other cats in the room. When I turned back to say goodbye to Fiti I caught a glimpse of her papers.

While waiting for her to be delivered to us, I asked my boyfriend a question.

“Hey, Colin, did you happen to catch a look of her papers as we left?”

“Are you talking about the fact that her papers said category four on them? Yeah, I saw that.”

………….

I asked, “Should we…be worried about that?”

“Nah. They probably just didn’t update it.”

If at this point you are wondering, “What the hell does category four mean?!” you would be echoing many thoughts that I have had in the past two weeks since adopting Fiti, or as she was originally named “Regina” (what I call her when she is being a total bitch).

If I had to GUESS what category four cat meant simply based on my Fiti experience so far it would be:

  1. Don’t pet her no matter how cool she seems with it. She isn’t (see #4).
  2. At any point in the morning and at night she will randomly transform into an actively manic squirrel and if you make eye contact with her she will proceed to pounce at you in the scary Halloween Cat way or just run around the room aimlessly causing you to trip over yourself constantly.
  3. She’ll aim for your ankles when she pounces. She knows human weakness.
  4. She will bite you if you let her.
  5. She will hate it when you get upset at her for biting you and if you tell her to stop she’ll apologize by biting you again but in a different place.

In summary: This gorgeous creature that I love dearly and will love for the rest of her life? She’s a manic motherfucker.

So I’m not positive but I think it is distinctly possible that Fiti was a category four cat. Which has been the introspective element to this situation because while I am pretty overwhelmed at times due to Fiti’s behavior (like, I ran away from her in fear toward the beginning levels of overwhelmed) it also forces me to think about what category I would be if I was a cat or a hurricane. This cat is manic as shit but at the end of the day…so am I. 

Are there categories for how chaotic people are? What category would I be filed under?

Seeing as I spend significant time in this post discussing the culinary politics of my cat eating my corpse after killing myself, I’d wager that I wouldn’t be considered a “category one” person.  

***

Truth be told, the entire adoption process has forced me to think more about the people that surround me in my life, week by week, that see me and interact with me that are unaware of what category I file under when it comes to self-destruction and mental health. No one can really tell what category I am.

I go out with friends, I go see movies, I’m a part of a DnD campaign. I’m working on a web series, I write this blog bi-weekly, I try to always keep creatively busy. I’m a manager at a hotel, I attend “revenue” meetings, I constantly handle guest’s financial and service concerns. Meanwhile, on my days off if I don’t wake up right when I planned to wake up it can be enough to cause me to not speak to anyone for hours and stay in bed the entire day. 

High-functioning mental illness is a privilege and also a curse in this way. For the most part, I’m able to do all of the things I want to do but experience heavy turbulence during those events. Some people can’t manage to even take off and I feel for them deeply because I have those days, too. I just wish that people didn’t need chaos and destruction in order to care about a cause. It’s almost never that simple. Why does it take flooding for people to care about a hurricane? Why does it take a suicide attempt to make people care about depression?

No matter how much we wish differently, people are not cats or hurricanes. We cannot be categorized, as much as people try every single day to do so. We have no idea of how stable the people we surround ourselves are. Unfortunately there isn’t a system set up at parties (YET!) where you can walk up to me and read a sign on my back that reads, “Category 7, 24-year old female, manic depression with anxiety disorder that now wants to get paid for being funny.” 

But there are a ton of people in my life that spend time with me regardless of what category they have mentally filed me. That’s because they love me and I love them, regardless of what storm is happening at the time or how able they are to hear me during the chaos. Every time the skies clear I look around to see what wreckage has occurred and most of the time, the damage is less than I anticipated (or rather, catastrophized if you remember what that means).

That’s because of the people in my life that listen to me, work with me, understand me, and ultimately love me regardless of what category my storm is currently classified as. They pick up whatever pieces they can, they send signals for reinforcement, they support me. I am incredibly thankful for having the people in my life that I have at this point and it took a long time for me to find this. Thank you to everyone that has helped with the continual fallout of Hurricane Jessie. 

***

As I’m sure many of you have seen on your Facebook news feed, September is Mental Health Awareness and Suicide Prevention month. Support systems (which come in many forms) are paramount to finding help and consolation on the stormy days and I urge anyone reading that is struggling to reach out to find that support, regardless of how difficult it might be to do so. It can and will save your life.

As for the more “mentally balanced” folk out there, you may not always know what to say or the best ways to help others suffering silently. Ultimately the answer is to not be a dick and love without reservation. If you do both of those things you are probably doing more than most people in the world, anyway.

Here is to a month of addressing mental health! I encourage all to remember that you do not need chaos or destruction for a problem to be “real”. Let’s do our best to understand that there doesn’t always have to be rain for the storm to be insane.