My spirit feels buried deep inside of my body today.
It’s in that dark place.
I quiet my brain to observe my thoughts and emotions as I search for clues. I re-trace my steps, and I try to question all of it. All of it is unkind.
I conjure an image of a betta fish living inside of a brandy sniffer.
A fish that was once known as The Siamese fighting fish has now become a popular desk ornament. This fish can adapt, but it should not be expected to flourish in an environment this small….with artificial light. And, I, surrounded by artificial people.
How can either of us survive living in these stagnant waters?
What can I learn from the betta that will help me to change, and to adapt?
And, when I do will I be remembered for who I once was, and what I was once capable of doing?
Or will I too be forced into tiny living quarters, and then turned into some ornament?
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.
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.
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)My 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)
I 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!!! ❤
Oh how I loathe the word TENTATIVE. But I believe I loathe the person who hides behind this word even more….Todd.
By definition, the word tentative is not being certain or fixed; done without confidence; hesitant. .
Tentative. This is how Todd has responded to every single meeting request that I have sent to him for the past 8 years. What is the cause of this? What causes someone to always respond this way? Is Todd in fact really all that uncertain, and so hesitant? Or is he just an a$$hole? I think it’s the latter and Todd knows how much I loathe him and his odd behavior. Why do I even bother trying to understand Todd and his Tentative responses?
Todd arrives to work each day in the exact same way. His hand jiggles the unlocked door of our suite like an animal without opposing thumbs. Once he enters the main lobby Todd begins with audible sighing and heavy foot stomp. 30 feet later he reaches his office door. Todd then grumbles while he fumbles with something that sounds like a wind chime caught in a meat grinder until he produces an unlocked office door. A loud thud followed by pained squeaky springs tells me that Todd has made it to an upright seated position in front of his computer.
Todd’s tentative fingers moving slowly, pausing, hesitating to finish words. A notification pops up in my Outlook. Todd has responded to my meeting request – Tentative!
It’s not really the task that bothers me so much. This is really a matter of pride! After 10 years of hard work and 2 promotions I am still given a task of moving paper around with my hands. The return of this task will always remind me that I am not getting ahead, I am still treading water. My mind begins to wander. At the completion of this task I will always find myself in my lowest state of depression. After having spent 4 hours repeating the same series of short adjustments and movements at my desk my body aches. 4 hours of alpha sorting, pairing pages, stapling and I am dizzy. My hands covered in tiny paper cuts and jagged cuticles. 4 hours later and now I can’t stop questioning every single decisions that led me to take this job!
Could I really stay here?
Could I ever be content with moving paper around with my hands?
These thoughts only send me further into my downward spiral of self-pity.
Today marks Day 19 without a cigarette. This is after 23 years of smoking and quitting cold turkey.
What is that Effing Smell and Where is my Mind?!?!? This smell is all around me now. I can best describe the smell as a large bucket of gray dirty mop water that has been left behind in a closet for weeks! This entire building just reeks of this stench and I can’t seem to escape it! I can even taste this stink now! Was it always here? and why doesn’t anyone else seem to be bothered by it?!
I hate Monday mornings but what I hate even worse is being asked “So how was your weekend?” It shouldn’t be taking me this long to even recall what I was doing on both Saturday and Sunday, but I am frozen. I quickly lie and spat out some lame details about the city library, the public park and costume shopping….since those were all things I should have been doing with my family. Now I can remember. I am already back at my office when I remember very well what I was doing on both Saturday and Sunday. There is no way in hell I am admitting to anyone that I had spent both of those days in bed like Ewan McGregor’s character in the movie Trainspotting. That I am still in detox from my nicotine addiction after quitting cold turkey. How today I struggled to even get out of bed because the thought of starting an entirely new week without any emotional and/or physical progress is disheartening.
Today I almost forgot my wedding anniversary. I can tell you my last 4 home addresses and home phone numbers but I can no longer hold a single solitary thought in my head. I was preparing to make my family a dinner on Saturday afternoon when I discovered a tray sheet in my oven covered in already cooked french fries. The tray and the fries were cold and I started to wonder just how long they had been there. Uneaten cooked french fries were left abandoned in a cold oven. Was this me? I know for certain that I am the only person in this house turning the oven off and on. So who could have done this? When did it happen? and How? and better yet WHY?!!!!!
It’s now 1:30pm on this Monday and I am still no closer to solving the cold french fry in the oven mystery, and the air still stinks.
Cheers to HOPE!
Hoping that I find on Tuesday it will get a little bit easier with time.
…and hoping that Fry’s will have some Buffalo Bill on the shelf tonight!