The Pretender

I wish I knew why it bothered me so badly, but I really think you have me pegged all wrong. I even watched it while it was happening in the circles that you kept, but I couldn’t intervene.  Now I trace my steps backwards in a one-sided story searching for clues.  What did I do wrong?  Maybe it wasn’t anything.  Maybe my suspicions are true, and the people you spend your time with have helped you form a tainted image of me.  Or maybe I really just hate being misunderstood. But maybe I do have it all wrong. Maybe you can really see me.  All of me.  But why can’t I just accept that and move on? There is nothing special about you.  There is no reason for me to feel at a loss here.  In this place there are people who often naturally hate one another, and for no reasons. Maybe that’s just it, but I can’t accept that so I must pretend.  I keep going about my day pretending that it doesn’t bother me, but I would be a complete liar if I told you that it doesn’t hurt a little.

Show me yours and I’ll show you mine

Becky comes to see me first thing on a Monday morning, and I can just tell by the way her hair and her eyes look that she really needs me today.  Becky looks like she slept hard with her face planted in the center of her pillow all night, and I also sense that she rushed to get ready for work.  I can see clearly all of those tiny flaws that she normally masks so well.  Becky still looks beautiful to me, but in her eyes she’s a complete mess.  She starts by letting out a huge sigh of relief, or maybe she had been holding her breathe all weekend?  I really can’t tell.  When she speaks her voice is trembling and she can only allow a plea to escape her lips before the tears begin streaming down her face “I just really need to talk to some….”  I don’t say a word and I put both of my arms around her.  Human touch turns Becky to mush, and she sobs uncontrollably into the cotton sleeve covering my shoulder.  I pull her in tight until I can feel her breathing has returning to normal.  When I release her I hand her one of my clean hankies, and with one hand still placed upon her back I tell her “It’s going to be okay.”

While Becky is patting her tears dry she tries to apologize to me, but I interrupt her in mid sentence with a plea of my own “Why don’t you show me your shit and I’ll show you mine.”  Becky tosses her head back to laugh and I have noticed her shoulders have also lowered.  Becky begins telling me her story, and it’s generally the same one I have heard from her before.  She is always tired, she is completely over worked, and worst of all she has never been appreciated.  Becky takes care of her elderly Mother alone, she has a husband who is unfaithful, and she now suspects that her teenage son is sexually active and/or possibly experimenting with drugs.  When Becky has finished telling me her story she looks relaxed. She calls this “her release,” but we are only half way there.

I am now fighting back my own tears when Becky asks me to show her my shit.  I completely open my heart to her when I confess the things that are almost too painful to turn into words.  How my dreams are dying, and I have given up the fight for them.  How I feel trapped inside of my own skin 23 hours of every day, and how unhappy I can be at the thought that this is all that I will ever amount to in this life.  That I may die before I ever travel or even make it to New York City, or how I may never have sell a painting or publish my own writing.  I begin to cry at the realization of my own life.  My own doing.  My own fear.  Becky is now lending me her own cotton covered shoulder, and I have turned into human fleshy mush inside her kind embrace.

I take out another clean hankie from my purse, and for some reason I am now laughing while I pat my own tears dry.  I thank Becky for coming to see me, and for sharing, but most importantly for asking to see my shit.  What we do for one another here at work can be magical!  When we share like this we are transforming one another’s shit.  Because the shit you thought was so big and unruly and taking over your life sure does look different after you have compared it to someone else’s shit.

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I quit smoking, again

I have quit smoking so many times in my life that I have honestly lost count.  I have tried everything too.  The gum tasted like I was chewing on a burned out butt.  The patches gave me horrendous nightmares and skin rashes.  The lozenges tasted like I was sucking on a burned out butt, and for over a year I smoked these herbal cigarettes from a health food store.  Those were pretty weird.  Nothing had ever lasted long, and I have always gone back to the cigarettes.  Not because I enjoy smoking, but because cigarettes have just always been around me.  My father smoked, my siblings all smoke, my husband smokes.  Each time I reach for a cigarette after I have quit I can hear Jackie boy whispering in my head “Nobody ever really quits. A smoker’s a smoker when the chips are down. And your chips are down.” I feel haunted by them!

Over the past 10 years smoking has become socially unacceptable, and that only turned me into a closet smoker.  Where Monday through Friday I smoked only after I was home, and I would only smoke in my garage.  I kept all of my paraphernalia hidden, and I tried to mask the odor on me with perfumes, hand sanitizers, lotions and gum.  I never wanted anyone to know about my dirty little secret, and all of my shame.  I never wanted my children to know that Mommy was a smoker.

I have always encouraged my husband to quit smoking with me each time I have tried, but he always gave me the same excuse.  He is an adult that enjoys smoking, and had no desire to quit.  What am I even supposed to say to that?  I suppose that he may be right.  I mean if that is how he wants to live his life, then who am I to tell him otherwise?  But I am afraid all of that changed once we had our children.

I think the new anti-smoking campaigns are great but this commercial on television that shows you the truly ugly side of cigarettes had our oldest son worried about Dad and his smoking.  He came to me crying one night that Dad was going to die after he had listened to a commercial where a woman with a tracheotomy described how she has to now avoid drowning in her shower, thanks to cigarettes.  I was not trying to guilt my husband into quitting, but I decided that I have had enough and I was no longer going to shelter him from all of this guilt that I carry.  I never gave my husband an ultimatum, but I asked him to quit with me because he’s never even tried, and to my surprise he agreed.  I let him choose the date, and it came and went without any progress.  I decided to try another tactic.

We were out shopping one day when I asked him to stop at a Vape Shop.  We had both entered the shop skeptical because Marlboro had been sending us free coupons for the new E-cigs, and neither one of us liked them.  An hour later we both left with a new Vape pen, juice, coils and a punch card.  I am proud to tell you that today it has been 37 days since we started Vaping and neither one of us has picked up a cigarette, yet.  The chips have been down a LOT lately too, and to my surprise The Vape has been enough!  My kids see me puffing on this electronic device and exhaling a cloud of vapor so I had to open up about my addiction and explain what I was doing.  I am thankful for the opportunity to explain things to my oldest, and I can only pray that he will remember our struggle if he is ever offered a smoke or considering to try one.  I told him with all honesty something a grown up never told me about cigarettes, and that is once you start you will no longer have a choice, you WILL end up addicted.

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To be continued…..

Old Art

I have kept all of my Old Art work tucked neatly inside of empty sketch pads covers and I have those placed inside of a plastic tub labeled Old Art.  This tub has been with me in every home I have ever lived in but it’s location always remains the same.  I keep my tub of Old Art tucked away in the darkest corner inside of my closet.  This tub always hidden, but never forgotten, and still the art serves no purpose.  So why don’t I just toss it all out?  The thought still frightens me, but I can’t explain why.  The art is not something I am proud of, but it is mine and it tells a story that only I can interpret.  I think I also fear that when I do eventually toss it out that I will be tossing out some part of me.   Last night I opened the tub and I decided I would photograph them all and store them electronically.  Then I won’t feel so bad when I finally do decide to take them out to the trash.

Here is a sample of what I am comfortable sharing.

*Edited on 10/23/15 – Added more Art.  Thank you, Ben! 🙂

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Fun with colored pencil
Fun with colored pencil

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Why I deleted my Periscope app

I first heard about this new social media platform on the Howard Stern show, but I didn’t download the app until my friend Oliver told me more about it. Oliver told me this story about a 20-something back east who wanted to show everyone how punk and grunge she was via her Periscope feed, and so he had convinced her to rip holes in her clothing, and the crazy part is that she actually obeyed! Oliver discovered a fun way to interact with Periscope news feeds and how to manipulate anyone while they were broadcasting, and that he felt people were pretty desperate for the likes/hearts. I still was not all that interested in checking the app out for myself until I had thought more about it. I was lying awake one night pondering what the desire was and what could a person actually gain from allowing strangers into their lives via a Periscope feed. The following day I was curious enough, and I downloaded the Periscope app on my smart phone.
The first time I had logged into the app I probably spent about 30 minutes online, and I was mainly searching for users. Each time I would click on a feed it had just ended, and I found this pretty frustrating. I eventually found myself over in Turkey where I was peeking into the homes of folks who were obviously drinking, dancing and having a good time. It was innocent enough but I still could not understand the desire of this app.
A couple of weeks pass and it was now a Saturday night when I decide to introduce my husband to this new app, but he seems pretty pissed when I tried explaining to him what it actually was. It really felt like he just wasn’t understanding the words that were coming out of my mouth, and I notice that he’s looking down at me with That Glare. You know, the one that tells me loud and clear that he is completely suspicious of this app and of my interest in it. I didn’t really get what his reaction was all about. I thought at first maybe he was just confused about how the app works so I keep repeating the words to him “They can’t see you, you can just see them.” He doesn’t believe me, or maybe his suspicion is just growing(?) Anyway, I forced him to watch me navigate through the app one Saturday night. There was nothing real exciting happening around the world. In Saudi Arabia there were a lot of men driving around town with their phone cameras pointed on them while they sang along with their music. It was boring, and weird. So I decided to check out the feeds in the USA. We ended up watching some drunk 20-somethings who were smoking cigarettes outside of a bar on the streets of Boston, MA. It was entertaining for about 2 minutes, until you realize they just want attention, and they want likes/hearts, and all they are doing is reading what people are typing to them. This is pretty weird, and boring so I logged off. My hubby just rolled his eyes at me.
The following weekend I was razzing my hubby when I said to him “Let’s see what’s hap’s on that Periscope again.” He’s annoyed, and he’s rolling his eyes at me but never looking up from playing some game on his phone. I start looking across the globe and I found a feed in France that has a TON of users logged in so I decide to check it out. The broadcast appears to be coming from inside of a bedroom, but there is no sound and there is no movement. This feed is receiving a TON of likes/hearts and the comments are all in foreign languages.  I am curious. There is absolutely nothing going on in here. What did I just miss? I can’t help it, I am now staring at my phone in complete silence, waiting. A minute or so passes when I begin to hear what I think is faint breathing, and it’s coming from the Periscope feed. I am studying the feed because nothing has changed, and it’s dark, but I think I can make something out. Is that somebody’s foot? Are they on a bed? Another minute passes and I don’t think I have blinked since I logged in to this feed. The likes/hearts have not stopped and I still can’t figure out what I am looking at. And then it happens. The user pans down to show me what everyone was so excited about and I gasp out loud and simultaneously I drop my phone, right in front of my husband. My hubby looks down at my phone, and then up at me while laughing and says “That’s what I thought.”  My phone is lying face up on the carpet of our bedroom floor in between us and there is a close up of a man’s naked crotch, and he’s got a handful of himself (if you know what I mean). His heavy breathing now ensues and it’s coming over loud and clear through his Periscope feed. I had paused in shock and disbelief for what my eyes were seeing for what felt like a full 5 minutes.  When I snap out of it I quickly snatch up my phone, exit the app and deleted it completely from my phone.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am no prude, but I sure as hell had no interest in trolling around the web for live feeds of international masturbation.  So how did my hubby know that just based on my explanation of this new social media platform that I would eventually be looking at some stranger’s wang? Better yet, why did this perv in France have to ruin the app for me?!
I suppose that is a big fat “Adieu, Periscope!” Just don’t say I didn’t warn you!  😉

New Living Arrangements, part 1

We have almost been in our new home a month but I just can’t shake my feelings of unhappiness.  I knew there would be adjustments and growing pains but I never imagined I would be comparing this experience to having our first child. Enormous amounts of fear accompany each unfamiliar, and uncomfortable adjustment to all of the things that were once normal in our old life, only there was no added joy with a newborn baby.

At the end of every day that has followed 8.11.15, I have let out a huge sigh of relief that there have been no big fights, and with the start of each new day I rise with a reminder of my own unhappiness growing, as I tip toe from my bed to my bathroom, my jaw clenched tight.  My first thoughts are always the same: “Who in the hell has to go through this kind of shit?  What kind of life is this?  This is NOT normal!  This is not fair to our kids!”  These negative thoughts setting the tone for my day, again.  We have had to change everything about the way we live and interact as a family, and all to accommodate a tolerable noise level for the two grandparents who now live on the floor beneath us.  I hate what I am turning into, and that is a Mother who is constantly shushing and yelling at her children, inside of their own home!  I am always reminding them to “Be quiet,” and “Don’t stomp,” and I struggle with what is even right anymore, and I have to keep questioning all of my thoughts and decisions.

When we married, I knew that eventually this would be our lives since he’s an only child.  I suppose I had always assumed we would have had more time together than this, but maybe I would be feeling this same way no matter how much time we really had together, alone.  What time were we ever really alone anyway?  I think I can always remember them being there.

This just hasn’t felt like OUR home, and I feel like I am constantly walking around on egg shells.  There has also not been a single solitary moment that we have been home alone without them there.  Yesterday evening I finally had a mental breakdown.  I even threatened to take the kids and leave.  What kind of monster am I turning into?  I really thought that I was stronger than this.  In fact, when I had looked into the future, before we were living together, I saw myself taking charge of this very situation that I am finding myself in now.  Why am I being such a coward?  What am I so afraid of?  Why do they have so much control over me?  Over us?  Why did I ever allow this to happen?

To be continued……

Perspective

I was fixed on the woman’s shoulder who sat directly in front of me.  There was ink on her skin that was peaking out from behind the straps of her dress.  I had a bad tattoo so I understand and partially make out what I am seeing here in her flesh.  I just can’t keep my mind from straying to that really bad place in my imagination where it forced my brain to see something more than what was there.  Once I saw and imagined this image I really couldn’t un-see it again.  I promised my friend that I would later send her a sketch of my interpretation of this tattoo.  (see below)tattooMy friend was kind enough to point out a few things at this lunch that I never would have seen without her eyes.  Like the polycephalys woman from our computer lab. (see below)

polycephalysI can’t even glance her way without giggling out loud, and I am afraid I am going to lose it.  There really ins’t a second smaller head sprouting from her cranium, it only looks that way from this angle.  Every time she opens her mouth to speak I can imagine the expression on her tiny heads face.  LOL!

I am puzzled now with a the question in my mind: “Do most women shower at night, style their hair before bed, sleep on it and then come into to work?”  It really looks that way from this angle.  I have counted 14 hairstyles that all have a similar patch of flat pressed and matted hair and they are right where the pillow would hit.

I forget now why I stopped coming to these free lunches.  I am sure it was something stupid, like the people. Why before today was I not able to see the true value of entertainment that this one hour can provide to me?  I have been suffering from writer’s block, while simultaneously feeling creatively backed up.  Now that I got a few rough sketches and characters on paper I feel grateful for the lunch and what it provided.  I am also blessed to know real people and to be able to share my sick sense of humor with someone who gets me.

My brain has been on fire ever since I left the lecture hall where I had spent that entire hour people watching and giggling with my girlfriends.  I was creating characters, illustrations and conversations inside my head and I finally feel inspired to write, again.

I think today was a good day!

Thanks again, Mich!!! ❤

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