The Art of Sentimentalism

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[Crossposted to Medium]

The collection of “me” stuff began in my late teens after one of my mother’s manic episodes when she tossed out most of my brother and I’s childhood. Since then, pictures, mementos, and anything helping to define who I am or was I saved no matter how insignificant it can or could be. (I saved the certificate for the year I won the school spelling bee which cracks me up years later as I’m a terrible, terrible speller. Long live autocorrect!) There is not much that marks my childhood other than spotty memories, a small wooden box of things I saved from grade and middle school, my baby book, and a handful of print pictures. My younger brother has fared much worse as his amount of childhood things is even less than mine.
I think often of what will happen to my stuff when I die. While my sites will go dark (no one would be paying the bills), I diligently have them crawled so one day, I hope, someone will stumble across my work and say, “Goddamn! This woman was prolific! (And far interesting as well.)”

Like most, I want to not necessarily be in the index but at least a footnote to the memories of the world.

As I continue packing, I occasionally find bits of past Lisa and now I debate, “Do I keep it or do I toss it?” While I have not read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I do know the book posits you should only keep things giving you joy. Imagine the shock of my bookish friends when I told them, since October 2014, I’ve donated nearly 1500 books to various library systems. My collection remains mostly of my Austens, my Pratchetts, my collection of Anglo-Saxon/Medieval/Viking histories, my Salingers and Fitzgeralds, and my TBR pile which is too fucking enormous. I got rid of books I didn’t see myself reading again, or referencing, or even in some cases, caring about. My Austens, my Pratchetts, and the rest of “my” books spark joy so those got kept. I slashed through my DVD collection as I spent several long nights converting the 100+ collection of physical to digital media to be placed on my server with 90% of the physical media to be donated. If I want to watch Bridget Jones’ Diary for the 900th time, it is simply a matter of a few clicks rather than digging out the DVD and going through that ritual. These are things bringing me passion and joy where as 4-Eyed Whores does not. (It’s nerd girl porn. Literally.)
(4-Eyed Whores was given to a friend and not buried in the pile to be given to the library. What kind of monster do you think I am?)
The book cull will get even more severe as I sort what I’m taking to my next future home versus what is going in storage until it can be retrieved – again. My Austens, my Pratchetts, and most of the books bringing me joy will be snuggled in their cardboard homes while a smattering of them will be placed in my new home while even more will be donated to the local library system.
(And for those nearly hyperventilating, I was vaguely smart into cataloging this current collection before the donated books went into their box. I did not do this to the first culling back in October 2014, which is my shame but I’ve already come to terms with that.)
(And I haven’t gotten into the details of the hundreds of books I lost when my brother’s basement flooded in the winter of 2008. My stuff was stored there between moves and I lost most of my paper everythings.)
Even with the great cull of books and physical audio / visual media, there are many, many boxes I have cataloged (of course, I am a librarian) simply labeled “office knickknacks.” Lanyards from the many conferences I’ve attended. The remnants of the Etsy shop I used to maintain and the items I cannot get rid of. Tchotchkes from vacation pasts like the miniature of the Pieta from when I was in Rome. (The Vatican has a killer gift shop, yo.) Plastic photo boxes of things saved from trips like brochures, plane tickets, and other small items (one plastic photo box for each European trip = six boxes). Stuffed animals made or bought for me. Various electronic doohickeys that belong to something but I have no idea what and I should probably not throw those things out. I am keeping those things, though those cardboard boxes outnumber the book boxes 2:1. Those things do give me joy and mark me as a person.


Lee Randall, in her piece “For the Love of Stuff,” furthers my argument stuff is a narrative of one’s life and “my things are me and I am my things.” I felt some relief in reading this essay because I was growing tired of the constant barrage of pieces written on the new “minimalism” and you’re saving the world when you get rid of things that you no longer “need.” Not want, but “need.” I want people to get a sense of who I am when they come into my home, to get a feel what I like and what makes me happy. White walls, sterile furniture, and smattering of arty pieces just don’t cut it.

I want physical reminders these are the things “sparking joy” which also give deeper meaning to my person.


We have come to the point of things given to us by boyfriends past. There is a tiny collection of Beatrix Potter mini-books M. gave me which I kept, the love note still inside. The picture of P. and I at his brother’s wedding and we both look extremely happy. The nightclub t-shirt given to me by A. when he was working as a graphic designer. The earrings given to me by TheEx though their matching necklaces have long since been donated. These trinkets do not pain me and for most of them, I smile at those memories. These are things kept.


When I got to my apartment in Connecticut, I found many things given to me by TheBassist which got tossed into a box. The breakup was still too fresh and I was indecisive on whether or not to keep them. Friends suggested, since the breakup turned out to be brutal rather than amicable, I burn them. Instead, I kept them. They’ve been taunting me since with their presence in my storage locker a reminder of a time in my life when things weren’t going so great. When I was unpacking, and now packing again, I pushed that box out of mind to be dealt with at another time. Now that time has come where I must ask myself, “Do I keep, toss, or donate these items?”


Memories are sneaky bastards. What seems so clear one day can be muddled the next.

I strive to keep a positive attitude on the relationship between TheBassist and I as a whole as it wasn’t all bad and we did love the other, but clearly not enough to give the relationship a foundation it needed to keep going. I have these things that while they no longer give me pain at times, I have given them some kind of value and I wonder if I get rid of them, will the memories fade even faster and soon to be forgotten? Do I want to forget him as completely as possible? How important was he in my life that keeping those items won’t intensify what pain is left even in their innocence of just lying in that blasted box? Will I “find joy” in getting rid of them?
These may seem like insignificant answers to many of you — the obvious answer would be, of course, to get rid of them. But these things, I’d argue, are not things to be easily replaced. The signs he made me when I got off the plane or his band’s CD he has lovingly inscribed to me or the Neil Gaiman book he gave me years ago, also inscribed. Once those things are gone, they can never be replaced since their tangibility and worth is only for me.
But I must reframe these questions to how keeping these things will affect my relationship with TheExHusband. As most of you know, he and I are working on getting back together and when I land in Louisville in October (after spending September at the cabin), we are seeing a couple’s counselor to work on the things we should have worked on in our marriage. TheExHusband has been and always will be my always. Is it fair to him for me to keep the mementos of TheBassist, even if I claim their innocence in value? Are they worth keeping as a potential sharp thorn to what has happened these last few years?

What fills me with joy?


For many, if not most, the building of one’s personality through things seem kind of silly, maybe even trite. We should be known, it would be pointed out, for what we have done and how we treat people rather than what decorates our homes. But I cannot agree to that point, at least wholly, just yet. My mother erased much of our childhood when she threw almost everything out and while many have things that spark them with joy about their growing up years, those years are empty for my brother and I. Keeping things, no matter how insignificant, allows me to fill in the holes of my life where once nothing existed. But I ask again – should I save anything or everything? Curate my memory to be only of joy and light and not negative reminders of things gone wrong?

Aren’t I, in effect, whitewashing my own history to satiate whatever I think will help me be whole?

I have issues with people wanting to erase our social history by, for example, taking cigarettes out of movies from 50 years ago now we know cigarettes are carcinogenic. The past isn’t always sunshine and roses and the idea of “the golden years” is a myth.

Each generation has its own atrocities and in the attempt to remove the bad, we’ve gilded the good and gilt can flake off.

In the end I will more than likely keep the book and the CD (and the Joy Division t-shirt I left at his house since it’s my favorite one) and the rest will get tossed. I don’t need the hand-lettered signs, the letters, or the random knickknacks he has given me. They are just “things” where as the book and the CD have whole different set of values. I’m sure, knowing me, the tossing of the rest will be some kind of exaggerated march to the bin shoot and the ceremony of dumping the items down the incline into the bowels of the apartment building. Those items blur the line of worth between keeping and donating and in the end, they are just simply junk.

palindrome birthday


 
 
Dear Internet,
A couple of admin things before we get going:

  • Item the first: I’ve minimalize the site design after listening to a podcast on brutualist websites. Long time readers may have noticed the site design has been getting less cluttered over the years and now it’s stripped down to as basic as possible unless I dropped out of WordPress entirely rendering all entries static but with nearly 1300 entries that is not happening anytime soon. Let me know in the comments if there is anything broken or missing.
  • Item the second: You may have also noticed there is now an audio option in addition to the text. Starting this post going forward there will be mp3 available to download of the entry. In short, I’m turning my blog entries into a podcast and don’t be too surprised if the podcasts are a bit rough in the beginning. You (should) be able to download the mp3 here, iTunes, and LibSyn SoundCloud. Why now? Numerous articles and research discuss the changing ways of how people access content online. This also mirrors how I, and my peeps, access information. Newletters (you will find the subscription to mine at the bottom of this entry) and podcasts are now the new hotness. Lastly, turning my blog into a podcast has been something I’ve been wanting to do for ages.

On with the show.


Today is a palindrome birthday – I turn 44. Celebration will be chill until TheExHusband comes to visit in a few weeks for the ever continuation of Lisa-mas. However, presents and cards have been rolling in and I feel beloved by many. Thank you.1


No one is going to be shocked (and some might argue this is a long time coming) TheExHusband and I are, again, moving towards a romantic relationship. Part of the reason why I moved back to the east coast was to deliberate on whether starting a romantic relationship with TheExHusband was because I truly loved him or he was a crutch or he was a familiar.
In the last six months as my brain became less fuzzy, I ruminated what it meant to love and be loved. Many years ago I asked Rob G. if he and his partner stopped having sex for whatever reason, would he stay with her and he answered a quick “yes.” I swore to him I could never be in a sexless relationship, or a passionless relationship, and I would find someone who could fulfill both the sexy times and my intellectual hunger. All but TheExHusband had failed to fulfill both requirements. (I can feel Rob’s virtual head pat as if he knew one day I would know the truth about love.)
As I started unpacking at my new abode, I came across diaries from years ago where I do nothing but complain about how men seemingly only want sex and nothing to do with my brain. This complaint goes on for years, regardless of my relationship status at the time of the writing. It became interesting to me how the tables have now turned: I want nothing but sex (so I think) now and fuck all the intellectual side.
I know the psychological reasons why my behaviour is this way (sex = being loved) but at the end of the day this is not what I really want. I urgently need brain stimulation which leads me to having better sex and we shant be surprised it is never the other way around.
So I’m in a pickle. Sex with TheBassist was out of this world but I felt as if I could never get him to talk about anything other than day to day events.2 Sex, on the other hand, with TheExHusband had become nearly impossible and unfulfilling but he could stimulate my brain like no other. After our split in August 2014, he hied himself off to a therapist, got on Wellbutrin, admitted what he has always known – he was depressed. He has reported back to me now that Wellbutrin is coursing through his system, his sexual drive has returned 10 fold from its previous state.
I lived with TheExHusband from September 2015 until last month. During that period not a sexual event happened other than benign snuggles, forehead kisses, and the occasional hand holding. We both agreed participating in any kind of sensual romps would be detrimental to my mental health while spurring on more confusion for him which obviously neither of us wanted so we remained chaste. Pinky swear.
When I was offered my current gig, there was a lot of discussion between my brain and I on whether or not to take the position. The more I pro and conned it, talked it over with TheExHusband and friends, the more another thought took residence in my brain: I was deeply in love with TheExHusband and leaving him would tear me apart.
TheExHusband loves me. He really loves me. He has never wavered his support of me. He has taken care of me when I hit rock bottom and cheered me on as things started to progress and get better. He always has my best interests at heart; he likes making me happy. He likes making me laugh. He wants to go on adventures with me and eat the world (another criteria I have in a potential mate). His love isn’t the love of fiery suns but a slow burning ember that never seems to fade.
Most importantly, he never left me when things got really bad.
I heavily took stock in this. Isn’t this what most of us want? Someone who is our companion and mate, who understands us near completely, makes us laugh, and gives us unwavering support in our choices and our life? I know I do. I know I never stopped loving TheExHusband, never wavered for my own support of him, never not wanted to make him laugh. I could never imagine my life without him and even wrote that if you date me, he comes along as part of the package.
TheExHusband and I have our own rituals, our own language, our own sense of security in the other. Our own world where we happily accept others to visit.
TheExHusband has his faults just as I have my faults, but at the end of the day if there is anyone I want to be with, it is him.
TheBassist may have been the one, but TheExHusband is my always.3


Long time readers may be puzzled by these turn of events. For months I banged on TheBassist was the one, I would take him back in a heartbeat, and I was tragically in love with him. Those were things I believed then and those were my truths. I could forgive myself for my behaviour during the course of our relationship, I could even understand some of his behaviours such as the birthday incident4, but I cannot shake the pain of him dumping me onto TheExHusband’s lap because TheBassist could not take care of me when I was so very sick and then wiping his hands of me. What also breaks my heart is that after the big show of telling me he wanted to check in on me to make sure I was okay after we broke up, he never did. How do I know? I asked his best friends. I told TheBassist all that time ago, in the beginning, I was his ideal on a pedestal who he could not handle the real and everyday me. Even his mom agreed. TheBassist vehemently disagreed with my observation and yet, here we are, a fantasy who has been put to rest.


It’s now going on two months since I planted myself in Connecticut and while I’m an hour away from TheBassist’s home, nothing has propelled me to attempt a visit. There has been a single time I have driven past his exit, on my way to IKEA, and I flipped it off in true Lisa fashion. Childish? Sure. But boy did it feel good.
Another indicator my attitude has changed is the slight PTSD I have of olive green Subaru Outbacks. They seem to be car d’jour around these parts and I am forever checking to see if one’s back window is covered in stickers. So far, the coast has been clear.
I am human above all things and I cannot tell a lie that I do want to see him if only to tell him off. Lisa Rabey Is Always Right™ and my ego must never be bruised. TheExHusband predicted ages ago TheBassist dumping me had less to do with me being in love and more to do with a dent in my believed perfect ego. I am begrudgingly hold this may be slightly true.
I still maintain TheBassist breaking up with me was one of the smartest moves he has ever made and without that breakup, the crash would have been much worse.


I often need to experience things to get the things to stick no matter how many times someone tells me it is so. e.g. I need to touch the hot stove to believe it is a hot stove.
Most of the human population, upon reading my exercise in love on TheExHusband may be thinking to themselves: This is what is known to be love. We know that it ebbs and flows. This is a universal truth. It is not always just the hot burning passion but it is also vomit and money woes. If you want the treasure you have to fight the orcs.
I hurt a lot of people getting here and there is rarely a time I haven’t cried when thinking about everything I put TheExHusband through but he will tell you two things: The first being I was mentally sick for a long time and much of my actions were based upon the disease and not the real me and his depression caused a lot of rift he refused to believe was there also for a very long time.
TheExHusband and I discuss this on occasion and we’re brutally honest with the other. I am not afraid to admit that in some warped way going through all of this is what smacked me in the head about love, I am every so glad it happened.
xoxo,
Lisa
P.S. The track isn’t bad but it’s still little rough. I’ve been editing for about six to seven hours today so next time it will be better.

1. Last year’s birthday was interesting. TheBassist took me the mall, bought his children presents, and couldn’t even be arsed to make or get me a card. He had a snit when I rescued a rather dismal day by helping his family sell strawberries and shortcakes at a church fete. When I told him how I felt, and that I wanted a birthday do-over, he promised with a “sure, sure” and yet, nothing happened.
2. Let’s call this a truce on the he said/she said. This is and was my truth.
3. When I first mentioned to TheExHusband he was my always, he thought it was terribly sweet yet he could not get the image of the Always maxi pad brand out of his head. One day whilst shopping  I came across the lady parts aisle, took a picture of the brand and sent him said image. He giggled.
4. What was the point of doing anything special for me if I was only going to leave and break TheBassist’s heart over and over again. Thin, sure, but I understand this may have been his reasoning.

 
 

This day in Lisa-Universe: 2014, 20142012, 20021999

 

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shut the fuck up and be happy

Shut the fuck up and be happy
Dear Internet,
When you’ve been friends for a fairly long time with someone, you organically create your own schticks. As TheExHusband and I have known each other for 20 years (!), we have many schticks of which one is where we create songs and dances using melodies from popular songs except with our own lyrics. I have, for example, a dance and song routine when I get ready to shower.
Recently I created a song while waiting for my breakfast to heat up, TEH chimes in with his own lyrics and I start, as one does during these instances, laughing. It was, however, not the canned laughter we typically do when we find something to be funny, which comes and goes as if it was never there in the first place. No, this was genuine laughter that came from my belly and it felt authentic (as much as I fucking hate that fucking word, it applies here). My peripheral vision, my face mirrored on the microwave door, reflected a broad smile.
The days when I found my body beautiful are getting closer together. The return of myself in the mirror showed a face not so much glowing but perhaps calmer. More relaxed. (Except for the greys that are creeping up again (TIme for a new dye job!), I’m pretty satiated with my looks.)
Is this happiness?
The more I yoga, I find my day feels more complete. There is a hop to my step and a harmony to my life, even if  I am working from home. Days away from doing yoga don’t feel right. Something is missing. I have a routine in the morning and that routine I must stick to. I like knowing my body can now do some flexible things. When I started back a few months ago, I could only lean half way down in bound angle pose but this week I’ve been able to almost get the girls to touch the floor. Slight change, sure, but it is still something.
Is this what joy feels like?


“Happiness,” “mindfulness,” “gratitude,” “self-care,” “humility,” and another 44 descriptors1 I could come up with in a short amount of time are the hot trends in our lives. A reporter recently asked, When ‘mindful’ is a mayo, a diet, a mantra, does it actually mean anything? and I found myself asking that very same question of my own practice. Is what I’m doing — the meditation, the yoga, the journaling, the being mindful as much as possible — really working or is it some kind of placebo thin band-aid covering up my real (chemically imbalanced) ills? Perhaps it is the drugs and I’m just placing woo-woo around it to make it more palatable to others and myself?
But the real question we should asking ourselves, no matter where it comes from, is doing these things make us happy regardless of what other people think? I can certainly answer with a resounding yes. DBT, which is the science backed set of techniques to make one mindful, works. Yoga keeps me centered and lets me push my body into ways I didn’t think it could — see the aforementioned getting the girls to the floor. The little changes in my life that keep me going strong: the continual exercise (no matter how minute), the quitting smoking, the journaling, the meditation, and for the everything else that is important to me continues to push forward. I have a proven track record of making these things work in the past and I am determined to make them continue on that path. So for me, whether or not someone “gets it” is not important. It’s not important what others think. What is important is how and what I feel as I move my life forward in my own beautiful and fucked up way.
Is this being blissful?


A good friend, C., flashed a comment on Twitter recently about her gentleman caller. Piqued, I wrote her a note2 with only the words, “Who is this gentleman caller??” A week or so later, we gossiped online, though privately, about her new love life. He was a local to her boy. He had pursued her for some time, they met, fireworks occurred, and now they are a couple.
I was thrilled for her. C. is one of those people you KNOW is going to get snapped up by some lucky person and it finally happened. I am a nosey wench so I poked and prodded about their love life, how they were doing, any future plans, that kind of thing. C. and I may both be in our 40s, but it is never too old to gossip about lovers like we did in high school. (There are a lot of things we never grow out or tired of.)
Form C.’s side, there was a lot of swoony hearts emoji when the gentleman caller did something to win her affections. I loved and still love talking to her about him because her happiness is so infectious. C. never struck me as a person who needed others to make her happy but with a new lover, I needed sunglasses from her thousands of miles away glow.
But this is not about that story.
What struck me, and got me thinking the most about these new developments, was C.’s discussion of at least one of her local friends seemed to be getting tired of C.’s delight in talking about C.’s gentleman caller. We’ve all been there – we meet someone we think is the bee’s knees, everything they do is perfection personified, and all we want to do is talk about them. I’ve done it, you’ve done it, everyone who has ever been romantically involved has done it.3 And we all know of that one person or maybe several who get tired of our nattering and want us to quietly shut the fuck up. The reasons for our friend’s behaviour can range from general annoyance or bitterness at their own life.
Just like gushing about our new lovers when we meet them, we are bitter cynics when the relationship ends. We are done for; relationships are terrible; love is a joke and so on. I’ve done it, you’ve done it, everyone who has ever been romantically involved has done it. (See 3 below.)
I totally got where this friend was coming from — hell, I’ve been in that position recently myself and one could argue I’m still there. The last 18 months have been both the most wonderful and the worst in my life. I can still taste the heady high when TheBassist and I found each other again and I can still feel the deepening well of pain when we split. I’ve seen both sides of the coin in such a short amount of time, I could commiserate.
As C. and I talked about her gentleman caller, I mulled over the info she dropped about her cynical friend. I cannot lie and say I didn’t feel these feelings myself at that very moment — I fucking totally did. But a new thought came into my head as we talked: Was C. happy? Yes. Was her happiness important to me? Also yes. Why was I letting my own bitter heart take away her moment? I was being selfish and laying my own heartache to dampen C.’s excitement for gentlemen lover. Was that fair? Fuck no. So then I stopped.
Seriously, I just stopped thinking bitter and cynical things about my own life in comparison to hers. It wasn’t getting me anywhere. Was I bitter and angry at my own les amours? Yep. Was regret hanging out somewhere there too? Probably.
But this wasn’t about me, it was about C. Making it about me was one of the worst things I could do for her and it needed to be about her. I was also mindful this was not some kind of manipulation on my own part about the situation. I didn’t tell her what was running through my head, I didn’t give her lip service about her dating life, I just let her be and encouraged her to tell me more about her gentleman caller because it made her happy.
Is this humility?


Back to the posited statement and also a question: How does one just shut the fuck up and be happy? As you’ve probably get the gist of my thoughts on these topics lately, I hate, HATE, websites and authors and etc who slap on a one size fits all balm on what makes someone happy, grateful, or whatever. We’re told over and over again happiness and the 48 other terms are ours for a short step away. Do this thing. Buy that thing. Wear that thing. But our happiness is not one size fits all. What makes C. happy doesn’t necessarily make me happy and vice versa. We can be supportive of that person’s happiness but we are under no obligation to replicate what makes them happy in our own lives.
What these gurus also fail to tell you is happiness is hard work. It’s fucking really hard work and it will never fucking end. It will be painful and you’re going to want to smack people in the head. There will be times when jealousy reigns supreme or envy takes over your heart. You’re going to be spitting nails at your lover or willing your boss into a cave deep in the mountains.
And you know what? This is normal. Happiness is not a 24/7 thing. We’re human. We’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to fall down. A lot. You’re going to have days of glory. A lot. But what you do with what you learned, like me figuring out C.’s happiness in that moment was number one thing, is what’s going to make all the difference in the world.
And remember we are not perfect.
No matter what that guru tells you, we are not perfect. But do look for the times when small joys, no matter how  silly they may seem, make you smile. That is happiness. Whether it’s the smile of the stranger, the look of a lover, or the smell of freshly cut grass. The goal is to bridge more of these small things into larger and longer things. Look for those moments because they are everywhere.
And that right there, is the big fucking key.
And if you need a reminder, just learn to:
let that shit go


When TheBassist and I began again, he kept talking about coming to fetch me from Michigan to East Coast because that is what he does. I thought it charming and enduring but as the time moved forward, I could see his frustration. I kept leaving and he kept fetching me. The cycle was never ending.
I kept leaving and he kept fetching.
When the relationship ended, I remember he commented he needed to advocate for himself. Now, six months later, I understand what he meant. In that time since then, I held strong to the belief that it was I who needed to fetch him. Even if he kept leaving, I would always fetch him.
Today as I was running errands, a thought occurred to me that it was not one fetching the other. No, it was me fetching myself. He couldn’t do it. My therapists couldn’t do it. I had to do it on my own.
In that second I smiled and I was happy.
xoxo,
Lisa

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2013, 2000, 1997


1. I am not joking. I have a piece of paper with 49 descriptors in that same vein on those related topics. And I’m sure there is more.
2. By “wrote her a note” I mean I put pen to a notecard, put the notecard into an envelope, added a stamp, and tossed it into a mailbox to wing its way to her. Not only is she an online BFF, she’s also one of my penpals.
3. If someone has taken a lover at some point in their life and has not bragged near and far about their partner, they are lying through their fucking teeth.
4. While I have been diagnosed by at least four separate doctors over 25 years I am bipolar, ADHD, borderline, and have general anxiety, what sets me apart from others with my gifts is I don’t exhibit traditional destructive behaviours. I don’t drink, do drugs, have wontan sex partners, or anything construed to dangerous. This is why I am a science experiment.

 

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your taste in men is weird

Ólafur Darri Ólafsson from the Icelandic TV show, Trapped
Ólafur Darri Ólafsson from the Icelandic TV series, Trapped

Dear Internet,
After several episodes of the Icelandic tv series Trapped, the lead, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, has my current lustful admiration. When I declared he was my one true love to TheExHusband, he looked at me with a quizzical look — “Your taste in men is weird.”
Which I suppose is true.
If you’ve been hanging around me here or on various other social media spaces, you’ll see me often comment about my future husbands (and wives). This seems to make people uncomfortable with one of the biggest complaints of, “If you’re with $nameoflover, why are you lusting over other people?” Many saw it as some form of disloyalty because obviously I wanted more than what was being given in my current relationship.
This is poppycock.
Rebuttal 1. It’s a fantasy. The likelihood of myself partnering up with any of those people is about as great as winning the Powerball. Anyone who says they don’t fantasize is lying through their teeth.
Rebuttal 2. I can control the fantasy. Simple enough: When I’m day dreaming about  X, I control the what, when, and where (obviously we already have the who).
Rebuttal 3. It’s not so much the actor whom I’m lusting after but their character in a particular movie / tv series / whatever. All of them are gorgeous in their own right but it’s their portrayal in whatever I’ve seen them is what sets my heart aflutter.
Rebuttal 4. Men have been objectifying women since the dawn of time. While men continue to remain the ones in power, I have no qualms on turning the tables on them.
Rebuttal 5. It’s fun.


Here are a couple of examples of my current loves of my lives.


My darling Ólafur plays Andri, the chief of police in a sleepy, remote hamlet in eastern Iceland, in the Icelandic tv series Trapped  (which is currently available on BBC’s iPlayer1). The series is best compared to Fargo (the tv series). Throw in a blizzard, human trafficking, murders, a titch of romance and it’s obvious Ólafur has a lot to do. He’s 6’5 (always a plus), silent, clever, and brooding. (Brooding is always important.) But it’s not so much the tallness or the cleverness that pulls at my heart strings, whether it’s the simmering passion below the surface. The way he is passionate about his work, how he looks at his ex-wife, how he wants to do always do the right thing even if is at the expense of his own safety. There is depth that remains unexplored and ladies and gentlemen, I want to explore that depth.
(I’m not the only whose noticed Ólafur’s allure.)


Shawn Cortese from the TV series, Nothing Trivial
Shawn Cortese from the TV series, Nothing Trivial

I subscribe to Acorn, a streaming service that specilizes in British (and sometimes Australian and New Zealand) tv series with an odd movie here and there.2 Nothing Trivial3 is a series based in Auckland, NZ about a group of misfits who met via a weekly pub trivia quiz. Shawn Cortese, which I’m sure many would argue is hot in his own right as a silver fox, plays Mac, a staid advertising man going through an acrimonious divorce. His love for Katherine, another pub quiz member, is buried beneath their pretense on being friends. As one does, their love ruptures when they’ve been drinking and ends with, “No. No. We can’t do this.” In one particular scene where he and Katherine are in a passionate embrace, he throws her down on the floor and rips her panties off with his teeth which leant me to giggle lasciviously. (Well, he rips her panties off in a lustful manner, which is the same thing.)
At first glance, Cortese’s character is nothing what you would expect me to generate impure thoughts™. He wears button downs and khakis. He’s in advertising. He has a big boy job. He drinks wine for christ’s sake. If I saw him in a bar, I would grant he was attractive but dismiss him almost immediately. But all it took was that one second action that would have me throw myself at him at first opportunity.
I’m such a hussy.


henryrollingsMost of those I meet expect me to woo at men like Henry Rollins. Tattooed. Cranky. Obvious rebel. Creative. Amitous. It makes sense: I’m tattooed. Cranky. Obvious rebel. Creative and ambitious. But there is much more to this world than just obvious physical attraction. The older I get the nuanced my love gets. Primarily, I look for wit and intelligence4. How they treat their families and friends. What they are passionate about and what they are interested in. They need to have spirit and soul. The more intense the better.
There needs to be more than great thighs, big hands, and height.
(And may the gods help me if they look at me like they are going to eat me up.)
(Obviously accents help)
It’s not their physical characteristic that makes me crazy about them, which does help, it’s these characters that burns them into my soul. This is why I love these men with the fire of a 1000 suns.5


Rebuttal 6: Taking control of my sexuality and sensuality.
When you’re a fat girl, the stereotype that continues to perpetuate is no one will love you let alone find you sexy. You will never find a partner who is going to adore you let alone desire you.
When it’s drilled into your head by words, images, and media you will not now nor ever will be seen as the object of someone’s lust, you believe it. The self-loathing is so deep even masturbation is overshadowed by your own self-hatred and touching yourself is taboo. The longer you go without a partner, the more evident it is, to you, all of those fat girl songs are true.
And the adage of, “If you don’t want you, who will?” continues to reverberate through your brain.
The equation is: No one will find you attractive + your self-loathing of your own body = more proof no one will ever want to date you.
It’s a catch-22.
And if they do love you, desire you, lust after you, it’s because you are a fetish and not a person.
No matter my weight, for most of my life I thought this all to be true.
In my early 30s, as I ended a serious relationship and was starting a new chapter in my life, I started to harness the passion that was I knew was simmering below the surface. Everything was sensuous from the food I ate to the perfume I wore to the fabric against my skin. Everything was to be loved and it would love me back.
And it did.
That is when the world opened up in new ways — the more I loved me, the more others loved me. Despite the often crippling social anxiety tossed about with bits of self-loathing, I was not always lousy with others wanting me but this was different. The confidence I was slowly building helped changed me on the approach and reciprocation of relationships, platonic and romantic. The self-loathing was beaten at bay and with that came self-esteem and self-respect.
All of this is tenuous. Fragile. Delicate. That brief period when I not only was in love with the world and myself was short. All that hard work started to slide when I started dating TheEx and by the middle of my marriage a few years later, the idea of someone finding me desirous was laughable.
It took everything I had to hold a shred of self-respect.
Then as I was then, here I was now: No one was ever going to find me desirable let alone love me and all of this came crashing to a head in October 2015.
It takes everything to hold on to a modicum of self-respect.
From a stranger’s glance, you know this is not necessarily true. Within the last couple of years, I have (had) two men declare I was the love of their lives. I have had many tell me, without fetishizing me, how wonderful was my body. Everything about me has been adored in some fashion or another.
I shouldn’t feel unloved or not lusted after and yet here we are.
Self-loathing has packed its bags and decided I was a long term stay Air BnB. Any good that came out of that period when I was in love with myself has long left. When I look in the mirror now, it’s very seldom I see an attractive person in front me. Instead I see myself as fat. Ugly. Not the least bit sexual or sensual.
Much as I felt in my 20s and late 30s.
At the root, logically, I know this not to be true. i know if I can bring out the sexy goddess who lives deep inside of me once, I can do it again. It’s going to be a struggle. It’s going to be hard. It’s not going to be pretty, but I will rescue her now as I had all those years ago and this time she will stay for good
So yes, there will be much lustful conversations about what turns me on. This body, my body, does not contain an unsensual, let alone unsexual, persona. I keep saying logically, but it’s true, logically I know that what I believe is bullshit — it’s the emotional crap that fucks you up and beats you down so bad you’re part of the floor.
You may not find this to be tasteful or have a purpose or part of your mores, but this isn’t your life, it’s my life. It’s time to tell the naysayers and the evil voices who make my life miserable to suck it haters and I’ll bloom like a fucking flower.
xoxo,
Lisa
P.S. And dimples. Can’t forget the dimples. Also someone who can raise their eyebrow to give you a most stern look. No why that particular feat of muscular control drives me to lust but yes, yes it does.

1. I’ve been raving about the show after mainlining all 10 episodes over the last couple of days. If you can find it, I implore you to watch!
2. Acorn was the first service to have Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries long before it was on PBS or Amazon.
3. I’ve also mainlined Nothing Trivial‘s seasons 1 and 2 and am impatiently waiting for season 3 to show up on Acorn. Maybe if I sacrifice something? I’m on pins and needles here.
4. If you believe in such things, the average IQ score of my previous mens hovers in the 150 range.
5. The conversation with regards to my love life can be distilled to the two most important men in my life: TheBassist and TheExHusband. I loved the others as much as they’d let me but they never quite caught my heart as much as TheBassist or TheExHusband, especially TheBassist. The general quip I hear when I have said there will never be anyone else like him is, “Of course not! Those are separate people, etc etc.” To which I respond, “You poor soul. You have no idea do you?” Fuck ’em.

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2014

you are beautiful because you are here

Silly week 2 - February 9, 2016
Silly week 2 – February 9, 2016

Dear Internet,
Tuesday is post a silly picture day!  You can keep track on the page or over at my instagram.


When I published everything you f*cking need to know to be happy (but were afraid to ask) yesterday, I thought it would be a good idea to start breaking down some of the things I struggle with.
Today, it’s compliments.
The battle that rages inside is when someone compliments me on anything – appearance, work, or whatever, I think they want something. Because when someone tells you something nice, there is a condition attached to that compliment.
Always.
Today is a good example. I take the silly picture and post it on my FB and instagram pages. People compliment how pretty I am.
What do they want?
I struggle to find a way to answer. I used to be self-deprecating about those compliments but then I started thinking people would take the self-deprecation for shilling. So I stopped the self-deprecation and started thanking them instead and by changing my verbal response, I am begin the long road of accepting myself.


The gratitude of thanking people started when TheBassist and I were dating. I would tell him how much I liked/loved/adored X,Y,Z. How very handsome he is (because he is). What a great body / body part / thing he did because I saw it to be true. I know others think/thought the same way about him. So what was the problem? (It’s inconceivable to me others might have self-hatred issues. Everyone else is awesome!)
He always said something along the lines of the years of self-hatred, it’s hard for him to accept the things that people see about him. He doesn’t see them in himself so why would others see them in him?
Thus, whenever you tell him something kind about himself (he’s handsome, wonderful bass player, fabulous intellect, etc) he says, “Thank you.” No qualifiers, no explanation, just two words. He’s learning to start loving himself.
Thank. You.


My self-loathing runs deep and as far as my view of my attractiveness or brilliance1, I don’t see it. That’s not entirely true — I know there are attractive features about myself physically (I have great breasts, my eyes are fabulous, my hair is pretty killer) and mentally (I enjoy and have conversational skills on many things, I can often make people laugh), but as an overall package? No. I don’t see it.


A couple of years ago before TheBassist came back, the implosion of my marriage to TheExHusband is simmering below the surface. One discussion was already under our belts about how unhappy I was in our marriage and the reasons why. He didn’t want to see a couples counselor. I felt stuck. It wasn’t as if I didn’t love him, but the pain of being married to him was getting to be unbearable and I could not conjure up a reasonable explanation to leave him.2
TheExHusband and I’s love life had already begun the decimation. He said some pretty awful things. I took those awful things to heart. I would silently cry when watching any kind of romantic shenanigans on TV or in movies. I wouldn’t leave my husband, I was relatively young, but then I saw the rest of my life being in a near sex-less marriage. Having passion? Hah. Hah. Hah.
Not long after that discussion, I flew out to California for a job interview. It was a last ditch effort on my part to see if I could get a job before I left my old place of employment (and before getting serious about the writing). An old friend, whom I’ve known since my days with ExFiance #2, lives about an hour away from my hotel. Old friend and I recently got in touch after not speaking for years. We agree to hang out when I’m in California to catch up, have dinner, the usual.
Now I haven’t seen old friend in over a decade at this point. I’ve aged, I’ve gained weight, and I’m nervous about seeing him because I’m already assuming he’s going to find me an ignorant, fat slob which only adds to my loaded self-esteem issues. I need everyone to like me even if I perceive myself to be an ignorant, fat slob.
We make plans for dinner, he gets in touch when he’s in the lobby, and here we go. I swallow the bile of my thoughts and proceed down stairs. As I turn the corner, he’s leaning up against one of the pillars.
He’s grown insanely hot. He’s tall. His intellect is amazing. He plays hockey and his body just simply rocks. The rush of lust confirms I was not dead in the desire department, but logically and reasonably, I knew I couldn’t act on those feelings. I made a commitment to TheExHusband. I gave him my word. Somehow I had to fix my marriage but now?
Now here was lust. Desire. I bathed in it.
So there is old friend and I’m tongue tied. I am lusting after him and yet the bile of hatred is now brimming because there is no fucking way he’s going to want to have dinner, let alone desire me.
What the fuck am I going to do?
We scamper across the Bay Area, I get slightly drunk, and we end the night on hugs. I knew if I didn’t not get the fuck out of there, I was going to make a move and not only was in that moment would I be fucking up my marriage (I gave my word) but I was also ruining the beginning of a close friendship, with the bonus of adding more to the hating of one’s self for being an ass. Besides. He probably didn’t see me with the same lust, so hey, this is all working out. Off to prep for the interview I go.
Cut ahead a few months when old friend and I are chatting online and the only thing I remember about that trip was, other than the fact I didn’t get the job, I had empirical proof I was not dried up. So I tell old friend, with much bravado, if I had stayed later that night or called him after my interview the following night for dinner, I would have made a massive pass towards him – hah hah hah. I am hilarious.
Except he tells me if I had, it wouldn’t have been turned down.
Shut the front door.
Turns out old friend has had a massive crush on me since the days when ExFiance #2 and I were together. ExFiance #2 knew about it, old friend’s wife knew about it, and they would tease him.
Me? No. Fucking. Idea.
(I always act surprised when I find out someone has even thinks I’m remotely attractive. As if I’m not worthy for that persons lust/desire/admiration or they are fulfilling some kind of fetish. When they tell me years later, I’m even more flabbergasted.)


Compliments and admiration are multiple edged sword: They give you the admiration you desire from people, they reaffirm the good work you’ve done on X, they make you feel good, but they can be intimidating as hell. These feelings negate the the admiration someone has just given you, whether you’re looking particularly nice that day, wrote a brilliant piece, or you did something kind for them.
We all want to feel good about ourself but it’s hard to accept this kindness especially for those of us who have years, nay decades, of self-hatred to chip through.


There are a couple of things we need to remember:

  • When we feel like shit about ourselves, remember these are just thoughts. They cannot hurt or harm you.
  • Having thoughts about X is a shared human emotion. When you’re not feeling particularly kind about yourself, someone else is having a similiar or exact thought about themselves that very moment. This is not to say you two should have a pity party but that
  • You’re not alone
  • You can be kind to yourself by being thankful for what you have. Once you can accept on being kind to yourself, you will be more receptive to people being kind to you

It will take a long time, no arbitrary date can be set, but anyone can forgive and love themselves. I know you can.


Today I am grateful for my readers, far and wide, who share with me their own struggles and dreams. Who feel my word resonate with them. Who find me funny, brilliant, or just a bit goofy. Who think I have much to give to this world and yes, who think I’m attractive.
Thank. You.
xoxo,
Lisa
P.S. As I was writing this, and the second I hit publish, the very first thought in my mind was those reading were going to think I was shilling for compliments. This is why it’s important to ditch the self-hatred because it gets you no where.

1. I have a post on this very topic hanging out in the wings. I need to summon up the courage to post it.
2. He has seen a therapist, he is now on anti-depressants, and we’ve had long conversations about this period in our life and he’s very contrite. He’s not a bad guy – he was just in a terrible place.

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2015,  2013

and how we’re guilt-stricken, sobbin’ with our heads on the floor

Dear Internet,
I woke up at 4:08 AM today and the dream was innocuous about someone I know on the internets. I was able to go back to sleep fairly quickly. This will make sense further on.


I’m going to apologize and tell you this is another ripping off the bandaid confessional.
It is what I do best


With all of the emotional upheaval in the last few years, I run through my mind similiar experiences to compare and contrast as to learn from my mistakes and not repeat them. I was stuck on ExFiance #1 this weekend because the relationship with him, to me, was almost identical to my relationships to TheBassist and TheExHusband.1
So I obsess and I stew. Stew and obsess some more. What keeps repeating itself through all of this obsessing and stewing is what a horrible person I am.
It was a good weekend.


ExFiance #1 and I had our first date in August of 1996.

I was working at a Blockbuster and he was working as a welder and he came into my video store 3x a week. I’d flirt with him and he’d flirt back and he will tell you he fell in love with me before we even went on a date! The night he asked me out, we were talking in the parking lot for an hour and “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (and I feel fine)” by REM came on the radio and I had danced in the parking lot like a madwoman.

And our relationship become complicated fast. Up until then, I had never met anyone who was close to being like me in terms of style, desires, and likes. It was heady. He proposed and I said yes, then I ran 3K miles away to San Francisco.
The back and forth started then and got progressively worse. When we had other relationships going on, we’d sleep with the other. When we were engaged to other people, we’d sleep with each other. No matter what state we lived in, we would find a way to fuck. We could not stop fucking our way through everything and fuck all who came between us, they just did not understand.
ExFiance #1 will tell you he put his life on hold for me.
Once I was done being an asshole, a liar, and cheating on perfectly good guys with him, I put my own foot down of my nefarious behaviour, asking him that I wanted to be killed off or made the main character in his life.
He killed me off.


He got engaged to someone else, a Lisa-Lite. “She’s everything like you, but not you. And not crazy” which is always reassuring. By “crazy” he is not referring to my mental shenanigans.
When the fucking between ExFiance #1 and I went completely dead, we tried to be friends and decided to double date with our current partners. I was dating a nice boy from Detroit2, ExFiance #1 had his Lisa-Lite, what could go wrong?
Right.
The double date adventure turned out to be a hilarious event or a big mistake depending on who you ask. The nice boy from Detroit looked almost identical to ExFiance #1 and Lisa-Lite looked nearly identical to me.
Everyone noticed.
There was a few embarrassed coughs and remarks made. I don’t remember if we ended up going out or if the nice boy from Detroit and I hustled our way out of there.
I am trying to recall if I saw ExFiance #1 after that, but I don’t think I did.
Until I started working at a bookstore.


2005 was a banner year. TheBassist broke it off with me twice. An old friend removed me from his life. A guy I was locally dating dumped me when I found out that my mother had cancer. I almost flunked the first semester of my first master’s program.
I’m not sure how ExFiance #1 found out where I was working, but he started coming to the store every month or so to see how I was doing. I didn’t think anything about his behaviour. I didn’t read into that he wanted me back, I didn’t read into it I wanted him back. Our toxic relationship was finally over and laid to rest.
Until the day he came in to tell me he had officially proposed to Lisa-Lite, they were planning their wedding (I obviously was not invited), and the big kicker? He told me he bought her a black diamond ring and suggested, seriously, I should go buy a pair of black diamond earrings to match her ring
I looked at him stunned, wished him a happy marriage (What the fuck DO you say in these situations?) and went to the break room and cried. Half hour? Maybe more, maybe less.
That was the last time I ever saw him.


I woke up Monday morning, at 3:20 AM, in a near hysterics. In my dream, I was in front of TheBassist discussing something, of which I do not remember, and but then I mention his (in my dream I presumed this was true) current romantic relationship3. He said the one he had told me was over then, was new now. I said you told me you used to not have feelings for her and it was long since dead. He was silent. I continued on, but now you have feelings for her? He just gave me this look that told me everything.
Then I woke up.
I was emotionally nauseous while I laid in bed and cuddled the fuck out of Teddy.
Sleep was elusive, fits and starts. I woke up 20 minutes before I was to leave for my therapy appointment.
I was not in a good mood.


Being emotionally nauseous is the term I use when I get emotionally shocked. My stomach cramps but I cannot throw up, my throat is a field of acid burn but it cannot be tamed by anti-acids, and my heart aches. Sometimes there is a headache, sometimes not and those cannot be erased with pills.
In the beginning of something ending, I torture myself by sniffing shirts, looking at old pictures, etc. It is anathema to my well being. Then I compartmentalize the emotions, the physical goods, any other reminders of that thing.
It is only then when I feel like I can begin to breathe.


I have never publicly admitted this but I have ExFiance #1 name tattooed on my left calf. It was done when the “relationship” was at its height, when I was convinced I could win him back. Let bygones be bygones, start fresh.
The tattoo was designed as to not look like a name but if you know it is there, it is obvious. When the toxicity was over, the “relationship” buried, I had another tattoo designed to be its mirror now it looks like some tribal bullshit.


And since we are among friends, during the height of TheExHusband and I’s marriage, I had a thorn done on my left wrist to symbolize our love. Why a thorn? TheExHusband was originally to be named Thor and I love medieval history.
Because if I am not anything but predictable, for TheBassist I had one his tattoos influenced onto my right forearm. His reaction was mixed. He loved the idea, but he was grumpy as to my use due to the words come from the first lines of the first song of an album by a band he loves. I argued while that is true, the sentiment is incredibly applicable to me. I believe we left it at that.
(Because I will beat a dead horse into the ground, for months (and it’s scary to say coming up on years), I’ve wanted to do a separate tattoo from to signify TheBassist.  I have other tattoos to get, so that one is down the road a bit, but when it is done, it will not be publicly announced and will only be explained when asked.
But I know exactly where I’m going to put it.)
(Because I know you’re going to ask, the tattoos for each of them symbolize a memento mori of the relationship. A reminder, if you will, of what is/was important and what I’ve (fucking hopefully) have learned.)


For ExFiance #1, I threw his engagement ring down a well when I was living in California. The rings were cheap bands we bought at a kiosk in some mall. I have no idea of the things he gave me went — more than likely burned, donated, or tossed out.


Does anyone else get emotionally nauseous? I have no idea. I don’t think I’ve ever discussed this with someone — ever. I’ve realized over the years the general we do not go beneath the skin to the really ugly parts of our psyche. As long as we are shallow, everything is okay.
It is things like this that despite the bipolar, despite every other fucking malady, I’ve always felt like I was crazy.
Wouldn’t you?


I brain dumped all of the obsessing over ExFiance #1 to my therapist on Monday. I cried when I was telling the story and beat myself up. “I’m an asshole,” I said. “I ruin everything,” I said. “The back and forth with ExFiance #1 was exactly the same as with TheBassist and TheExHusband!”, I wailed. On and on went the flagellanting of my soul.
She disagreed.
43 year old Lisa is not the same as 24 year old Lisa. Were you diagnosed bipolar then? Yes, I said. Did ExFiance #1 know? No, I said. So he had no idea on the status of your mental health? Yes, I said. Were you medicated? Seeing a therapist? No, I said.
You’re not the same. The relationships are not the same.
Don’t forget how ExFiance #1 treated you. He lied to you. If he cheated on his fiancee with you, he would have cheated on you with someone else. Don’t forget the awful things he said to you. (Brain screams, “But he was punishing me for the constant leaving and going!”) He is not punishing you. When you moved back to Grand Rapids in 2003, he tried to coerce you into sex when you didn’t want to (and almost succeeded) which he then turned into constant “teasing” of not sleeping with him. How he was insanely jealous and had problems with your male friends. He had no friends himself and you are his entire world. He had a child from a previous relationship and did not tell you until much later. Every single compliment was double edged and followed by “you should still be so lucky I still want you5.”
I was desperate, he said. Desperate for him.
I reasoned away everything with I never knew anyone like him and he loved me and I loved him back.
Yes, you may have had issues but do not forget he was an asshole to you. He treated you shabbily.
He was toxic. You are/were better off without him.
You deserve more.
More importantly? TheBassist and TheExHusband are not the same person to each other and they are not the same as ExFiance #1.
Best thing? You are self-aware of the mistakes made and you want to make sure you do not repeat them in the future.


Half the time I do not know who I am.


When I came home later, I reiterate the entire therapy session to TheExHusband. I left nothing out. Deep breath, sip my drink, more confessions come out of my mouth. I repeat this pattern until the story is told.
He agrees with the therapist. He and TheBassist were aware and could handle (to a large degree) the crazy. I didn’t cheat and the lying that was told were half-truths about shit that was unrelated to my relationships with them. I was on a long manic streak and then I crashed. It seemed complicated but it wasn’t complicated.
Remember, they have forgiven you for your behaviour because they understand it is more of your crazy than the actual you. TheExHusband reminds you, daily, what a good person you are, you are worthwhile, you are loved, and you’re safe.


When TheExHusband tells me my daily affirmation, I say thank you, but I don’t believe it. I often quip I knew I was going to be a late bloomer, my path in life was not going to follow a traditional template, and I am aware of this. There is one time in the whole of my paper journaling career I write down I am beautiful and I really mean it.
Once.


(“You are chaotic good, not chaotic neutral.” “What’s the difference?” “Your do not respond to a situation in relation to how it best benefits you, you respond to how it best benefit the other person.” “Oh.” “And that’s it for your D&D reference.”)


My vanity is not confidence on speed, it is because I feel if I am not following certain protocols, then people won’t like me. I know where it stems from, I am tired of knowing. I just want to fix these fucking issues and move forward.
That is what makes me self-aware. I have the tools, now, to not repeat.
(“I don’t know if your low self-esteem is masked by your blusterness or if you really do have spots of high self-esteem.” “It’s all a mask,” says the borderline.)


It is hard for my brain to acquiescence if what I feel is actually true versus if what I believe is true. I attempt to reconcile that feelings change, even minute by minute; that love is not an either or issue; the world is fallible and I am not crazy if I make a mistake.
These are all things I believe to be actually true but in my head, no matter how reasoned the things actually are, it has been and will always remain all my fault.


Friday night TheExHusband and I head to a local Irish pub that is within walking distance of his condo. I am in a goofy mood, zigzagging across the side walk and playing bumper cars with TheExHusband. Dinner is delightful, I have perhaps found the place to watch English Premier League football and the Six Nations rugby tournament.
Then I hear the bass thump from the other side of the wall. I stop eating. I have grown silent. “I don’t feel good,” I say. “I’ve got TheSads,” I say. “Is it about He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named?” “No. Yes.” “What happened?” “I heard the bass and…” “Do you want to get out of here?”
First I say no. I am fine, I say. I can do this, I think. As I am trying to make this not an issue, it became an issue as a band, unrelated to the bass thumping next door, brings their stuff in and starts setting up for that night’s entertainment. I stiffen. Flight or fight, I need to get the fuck out of there.
It does not help I am wearing a Green Latern t-shirt.
TheExHusband pays the check and we walk home. No zig zagging. No bumper cars.
I cannot articulate what I’m feeling so I bake brownies.


TheBassist is a good person. I said some awful shit (I am too ashamed to link) about him and now I am repentant. The shit I was angry about with him was typical relationship shit I blew out of fucking proportion. Rationally I know he didn’t do the things I said he did (what did NOT help was the greek chourus saying he “might have”.) He loves/d me the best he could; he tried to help me the best he could — even when I wanted him to save me and I could only save myself. He was not an abuser, he gave me everything he had, he loved me unconditionally and I — I have no idea what I did what I did. Mania? Being scared? Unworthy? Being crazy? Untrustworthy? No fucking idea what I did what I did.
I get emotionally nauseous when I think about my behaviour towards him.
I would have left me too.
TheExHusband is a good person. Could our marriage have been saved? I have no idea. I churn myself in knots thinking he will kick me out even though rationally I know he will not. Why does he give me the daily Stewart Smalley’s? As a reminder that I am not such the beast I have led myself to believe. He helps me anyway he can. He pushes when I need to be pushed and lets me cry when I’m having a bad day. He asks me daily if I took my drugs and how my brain is doing.
But he also knows all the work is on me.


I would have made an excellent moirologist. After recounting Monday morning’s dream to my therapist, I say through my teeth, “Look. I go about my day with logic and reason about the relationship. I’ve accepted these reasons and I am trying to move forward. BUT MY FUCKING BRAIN just cannot let sleeping dogs lie. I was haunted by the 2 AM hour when, without fail, one of us would reach for the other and make love. It took me weeks, and massive amounts of klonopin, to get through that period. NOW, it’s the goddamned 4 AM wake-up calls, dreams surrounding him even if I don’t think of him for the entire day. It’s beyond ridiculous.”
“Your subconsious cannot let it go.”
Irritated sigh.
“Look. I cannot be in touch with him, no matter how minute. My ecosystem is extremely fragile. These wake-up calls are not helping.”
“It will pass. Not in the speed you want it to go, but it will pass. Patience.”
Fuck patience. That’s what drugs are for.


Sometime after I came home from my therapist, I googled the fuck out of ExFiance #1 (“The worst thing about being a librarian is being a librarian.”). Within 15 minutes, I find all of his info: email address, current address, phone number, Facebook page, and pictures of him. He seems happy. The non-partisan assessment of his behaviour is forgotten, I am at fault. I will always be at fault. A wave of emotional nausea hits, dissipates, and then I felt nothing.
xoxo,
Lisa

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2015, 20152014, 2013, 2012, 2011


1. When relating this to my therapist today, she said they were nothing alike. I’m not sure if I believe her or not because it feels exactly the same to me.
2. I stopped my cheatin’ lyin’ ways before nice boy from Detroit showed up. The cheatin’ and lyin’ was only ever with ExFiance #1. Because I am an asshole.
3. I have asked politely, and was told my wish was granted, I was to never know when he dated again, if he ever moved with someone, or if he gets married. If my heart went through the floor for someone I was once engaged to when I found out (albeit in an assholish way) they were getting married, I would be emotionally decimated finding out about TheBassist’s new loves. At least for today.
4. In case you can’t tell, I was raised in a German-Catholic family. We know how to do guilt.
5. This is second to the, “With your face and Cindy Crawford’s body, you would be great at modeling.” comment made to me by a boyfriend before ExFiance #1.

Mental Illness, Shame, and the Art of Asking – 2016 Edition

#LisMentalHealth week is an initiative started by my good friend Cecily Walker and Kelly McElroy. You can follow along on Twitter, add resources to the Google doc, or check out the Storify of Monday’s chat.
Dear Internet,
If you’ve been reading (or following me on social media), it’s no surprise I’m open about my mental health. I talk pretty extensively on being bipolar (especially since I’m bipolar one which means I creep towards mania than depression), mental health in general, borderline personality disorder, adhd, depression when I get it, anxiety, and about my drugs, shrink, and fuck, probably a lot more I’m forgetting.
While I try not let me be these diseases, so much of what they do is an integral part of my life, it’s very hard to talk about them in some sort of context, “I’m being cray today. Ugh!”
So here is a week where I can talk freely and abundantly about my brain with professionals in my chosen career only to find as I opened up this editor to write — I am stumped on what exactly to say.
Three years ago (!), spurned by a TED Talk by Amanda Fucking Palmer, I wrote this piece: “Mental Illness, Shame, and The Art of Asking.”
In case you missed it, here is Amanda’s talk:

What I said three years ago

Yesterday, I was part of a panel at MSU Comics Forum where we gave a presentation on Golden Age: Comics and Graphic Novel Resources in Libraries. Our schtick is to present on this topic at non-library conferences because we knew it was important for artists, writers, creators, educators, and comic book lovers to be aware of what/how libraries are doing with comics and graphic novels. Within the library world, it is a given. Outside the library world, not so much.
 
While prepping for my talk, I was debating on whether or not to mention I was bipolar and relate that to graphic novels available on the topic. If part of my argument is graphic novels should be in libraries is because they help broach difficult topics, is this not a difficult topic and ergo a perfect example? The other question that would be asked is what kind of obligation do I have in mentioning I am bipolar to anyone about anything? Why does the onus fall on me?
 
This debate went on in my head up until I took the podium.
 
When the slide came up I had earmarked to mention being bipolar, I found myself just saying it as naturally if you please:
 
“I’m bipolar. I’ve had several friends who’ve read Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me and say to me, ‘Okay. I understand what you’re going through. It was eye opening.’ And this is perfectly illustrates how graphic novels and comics can help broach difficult topics.”
 
Several heads in the audience nodded with agreement.
 
In the space of a few minutes, I had negotiated in my head the trust relationship between myself and the audience. I gave myself permission to be candid. The floor did not open up and swallow me nor did fire come reigning down the heavens.
 
While I was feeling manic up until that moment, and then the world shifted into focus. When my 15 minutes was done, I felt my body relax for the first time in weeks.
 
Before watching AFP’s talk last night, I had not realized the mental negotiations taking place in my head about having a mental illness were about exchanges in trust with whomever. Oh, not you Internet, but with those in contact of my daily life, who don’t follow me across the social sphere or read this blog. There is a price tag on honesty, and on revealing, one that was too high in the past to contemplate, and one that is constantly always under scrutinizing but is becoming easier to negotiate.
 
AFP rationalized it is not about taking a risk, rather it is trust. Shame comes in when those not part of the negotiation attempt to criticize it. I am currying trust with my readership by telling them about my crazy, but someone who doesn’t read my blog, or know me, starts to make judgements on the already established link between me and my readership, they are installing shame on the affair. Anything different is open to criticism and this needs to change.
 
My name is Lisa and I am bipolar.
It needs to be said, it has to be said, I will continue to say it.

That piece still sums up what I feel today, except when it’s not.
Bipolar can be controlled with drugs and therapy. I’ve been on the same cocktail for over a year now and 9 times out of 10, life is pretty even keel. Now Borderline Personality Disorder is taking center stage, rearing its ugly head and that has been running my life for the last year+.
BPD has ruined a lot of things with the most current such as TheBassist1 breaking up with me not because he didn’t love and want me, but because I was a flight risk2 and will always be a flight risk until I got my shit together.
BPD has ruined not only romantic relationships, but platonic relationships; it’s distorted my world view; it’s fucked a lot of things for me and sometimes I feel utterly and completely out of control. “I hate you, don’t leave me!” “Everyone hates me; I’m the greatest thing since sliced bread.” “I have made a mistake somewhere and now I will be shunned/fired/etc.”
Coupled with being bipolar, I’m often surprised I’ve made it past 40. Hell, past 30.
I talk a lot about the domino effect which has plagued me these last few years. But what I haven’t discussed is exactly how that affected me on a much more personal level:

  • The #teamharpy case has made me a leper in the library world
  • nina and I racked up $15K in legal fees
  • I ran myself into $40K credit card debt between September 2014 and June 2015
  • On paper I’ve been homeless, on and off, since October 2014
  • I’ve had several breakdowns, starting with a long period of mania that lasted for about six months, then a bout of depression, back to mania, which finally came to a head in October when TheBassist broke it off with me.
  • From October to mid-December I rarely left TheExHusband’s condo or got out of my jimjams or did any kind of self-care. I ugly cried nearly every day
  • I’ve rarely smoked more than a couple of cigarettes a month until this past summer where I’m coming up to half a pack a day
  • While not suicidal, I’ve been in crisis at least twice in the last year

I’m probably missing a few things but this is the laundry list of ills that have been the albatross in my life for the last 18 months. A lot of these are my own choices, “If only I had…”

  • …used the word ‘alleged’ in that fucking tweet
  • …stop spending money on useless shit since I don’t have a job
  • …stopped denying everything was great and I was sick
  • …listened to what my loved ones said instead of thinking I could go at this alone

There are a lot of “If onlys.” Aren’t there always?
Being mentally ill is a goddamned highway with lots of on and off ramps. You make decisions based on your illness, it backfires, and you lose something important. You make a decision based on your illness, it comes up smelling of roses. You just never know how the die is going to roll and we keep taking the chance that what we decided was right.
We’re gamblers, we are. We worry by not telling anyone, we’ll not be able to get help when we need it. We worry if we do tell someone, we’ll lose out on life/partners/jobs. We worry how drugs will affect us or if self-care will actually work. We worry about the stigma, the pain, the anguish, the shame. We make ourselves sicker because we cannot disclose our sickness without fear something terrible is going to happen.
And the most painful thing? No one trusts you. TheBassist doesn’t trust me. TheExHusband doesn’t trust me. I’ve lost a lot of friends who can no longer trust me. What comes out of my mouth today can and has been either half-way true or another variation tomorrow3. It’s hard to ask for help when no one trusts you, even if they love you.
A lot of hard questions are coming up in the #lismentalhealth chat. Questions I want to be the queen of all that is mentally ill and bestow my wisdom to everyone as I have all the answers (“I am the greatest thing since sliced bread.”). I’m afraid to post because I don’t want to be seen as a scene stealer (“Everyone hates me.”). I don’t want to seem “weak” (“I can control this thing no matter what you say”), whatever that means, and I don’t want people to take pity on me even though I crave their adoration (“Don’t leave me.”). I’m a raging, sarcastic asshole towards people (“I hate you.”)
Being mentally ill is goddamned exhausting. I think this is one thing we can all agree upon.
One of the questions that did come up I can, somewhat, safely answer is about disclosing your illness to current and future employers. Right now I’m of the mindset of “No.” In my last position, because I was hell bent on being open and honest, I told my immediate boss. Within a few months, they used my illnesses against me. See the revised job description they put up when they did a call after my contact was about to expire. Look particularly at 12. They also would use verbiage such as, “Go take more drugs,” and “have you seen your therapist lately” out of spite. (Yes, I did try to get them reprimanded for such impertinence but since no one heard them, I had no physical proof…you get the idea where this going, right?) Despite the disability act/equal opportunity form you can volunteer to answer when you apply for a job, I choose “no response” to the question or I don’t fill out the damned thing at all. I cannot take the chance if someone sees I’m bipolar they will automatically disqualify me from getting a job. While this is illegal, I’ll never know since I will just get your standard rejection.
I have nothing to say. I have everything to say. I have a zillion answers. I have no answers.
I wish I did.
xoxo,
Lisa

1. One day there will be a day when I don’t mention him in a piece but today is not that day.
2. I can’t blame him for this part of why our relationship failed this time around. When the love of you life is leaving you every couple of months and then calls you ugly crying, you’d probably cut ties off too. But that’s a post for another time.
3. Pinky swear, on my grandmother’s grave, everything I’ve written in here, my world, has been true. It may have been fucked up, crazy sounding, or depressing as fuck, but this is the only place I have always felt like my safe space and thus can be completely honest.

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2013, 2011, 2011, 1997

happy holidays

lisachristmas1975
Me, 1975. I was three.

Dear Internet,
Five days. I lasted five days. I won’t promise that I’ll be updating on a super frequent basis as I’m massively writing in my paper diary these days but I’ll try to keep the world abreast of what’s going on.
My paper diary is an interesting read. I’ve been writing in it steadily for the last few months and you can follow the ups and downs of my emotions. I can not even begin to explain the swathe of emotions thrown about like a salad BUT it’s a good touchstone to figure out HOW things are getting there and how to be mindful of them in the future.


I was outside tonight having a smoke and the moon was so clear and bright, the valleys and mountains stains against the white of the surface. I stood staring at the moon as I smoked (I know, I KNOW!) and thought about the last few years and how my life profoundly changed.


I chronicle the last several years of my life as a chain of events beginning in February 2014. Wednesday died on February 1. I was served papers for the #teamharpy case in early June. I left my job to write a book on June 30. I left TheExHusband on August 24. I moved in with TheBassist on October 14. My book stalled in early November. Staring in mid-November, I started a whirlwind trip across these united states land that seemed to never stop. I’ve been living with TheExHusband since the first week of September 2015 when I went up to the cabin to close it down for him (and following him to Louisville after). In October 2015, TheBassist and I split.
In these last four months, this is the longest time I’ve lived at once location in the last yearish as I’ve been crisscrossing the US looking for work.
Coming up two years since the domino effect started and but I was internally dying before the domino started (job stress, marriage stress, etc). Yet, I would never have seen this massive amount of change coming from a million miles away. I could see maybe one or two things happening but the succession of each event turned my life into a country song.
Things have started to get better. The #teamharpy case settled on March 25, 2015. The divorce was granted on April 1. My interview rate has gone up (though no job offers – yet), I’ve been living in the same location for the last fourish months. Thursday came into my life.
The uptick has been slow, but it’s happening and I’m hoping the events that led me up today will start reversing itself, starting with the pug. That’s how it all started, right? In that vein, I (hopefully) will find out if I’m employed or not within the next few weeks. Once employed, then my own place, and so on and so forth.


There I am staring the moon and my thoughts turn to the things I am grateful for. I am grateful to TheExHusband and TheBassist for taking me in. I’m grateful for my friends. I’m grateful for TheExHusband letting me live with him while I wait for my life to straighten out. I’m grateful I have clothes on my back, food in my stomach, and my car paid off. My credit score is stable. I’m grateful that my health is good, I have a therapist, and a medication regime is keeping me on track.
No matter how fucked up my life is and has been, I am just thankful and grateful for being here, in this now.
I’m also grateful for TheBassist for breaking up with me, which is something I would never have admitted even a week ago.


One of his friends got in touch with me while I was in CT and joked as TheBassist had two extra tickets for the premier of Star Wars, I should go. I said sure, ask him. I’m curious about his response. The friend warned me TheBassist’s response to him was often slow. Time ticks on that night and as nothing has come back about a “yay” or “nay,” I accept it’s not going to happen. I will not lie and say I was not ready to leave at a moment’s notice, and I was. I will also not leave out I called TheBassist a day before my trip to see if he wanted to get together for dinner (no expectations, truly!) while I was in town and I was sent immediately to voicemail.
There I am, ready to rock if the answer comes back “yay” and if “nay”, I would accept this was okay, because it really was. Hope for the best, expect the worse and all that rot.
I fly back home on Friday and the friend gets in touch with me that night saying he heard from TheBassist. He then gives me the run down: TheBassist loves me and he always will, but I was a 24/7 flight risk. TheBassist broke down Borderline Personality Disorder and how I was sabotaging my life. He would never say never, but now? No.
It was in that moment when a switch flipped in my brain and everything changed. Something about the explanation of BPD TheBassist gave to the friend was that click. TheBassist knew, he’s always known. I ignored his advice and pleas to work on myself. He tried to save me, I wouldn’t let him or he couldn’t, and he had to let me go to figure it out myself.
Only I could save me and I’m no where near where I need to be in a relationship with TheBassist, let alone anyone else.
You’d think these chain of events would send me into a tizzy. But it didn’t. Two days prior when I flew into Hartford, I started sniffling. The sniffling turned into ugly crying as I walked the length of the airport. The ugly crying sent me running into the ladies’ where I let myself cry to get it all out. As I came out of the ladies’, I started doing deep breathing meditations as I walked towards the exit and tried not to look at the usual spot where TheBassist would be standing with a silly sign in his hand. With the deep breathing, I was able to make it through. I won’t lie and say I didn’t chain smoke outside while waiting for the rental car shuttle. I won’t lie that I didn’t take Klonopin to settle my nerves so I could drive 1.5 hours to my hotel. I will not leave out I wasn’t looking for his car in the pick-up lanes.
But Friday? I was fine. The world sharpened as it came into focus. I did deep breathing as the friend talked, asking if the response from TheBassist made sense. I said it did.
And I was happy. Fucking finally I was getting some peace.
This was not a manic happiness or a forced happiness. The last two months has been emotional pain. I could put a brave face to the world, doing my thing, letting the outside world think I was charming and personable (because really, I am). But home was a whole ‘nother story. I would cry for days. I would write disparaging things about TheBassist, what I would later call my “half-truths.” (Which one day, when I’m brave enough to write about it, I will give it a proper explanation.) But the pain in my heart was engulfing me and I begged TheExHusband and my friends to tell me how to get rid of it. I was willing to do almost anything put that flame out and no one had the answer.
For years, I was painting everyone who had remotely (or imagined) slighted me (especially TheBassist) as the bad guy when I only had myself to blame. I was trying to control things I could not control and nor should I have been. I put myself into situations that I could temper but didn’t. I could have ended those conversations, those thoughts, those feelings.
Only I could control myself. Only I could make the decision on what I wanted to do, something I evaded for the last 18 months. I wanted TheExHusband, TheBassist, and anyone close to me to make those decisions for me. No one would, of course, it was my life. But I didn’t understand that then my lack of decision was a decision.
(Please note I was never suicidal during this process. TheExHusband, my therapist, and I think someone else asked in a matter of days apart, if I had thoughts of ending my life. The answer is a resounding, “No!”. I want to be here on this planet and make my life meaningful and with purpose. Suicide were the farthest thing from my mind.)
The switch that flipped changed everything about my outlook. I accepted the emotional pain and rationalized it was not necessarily the end of a love affair with the man I knew to be the one, but the end of the affair was the breaking point. I was finally grieving for everything I had lost up to that moment. Oh, I said I was grieving, but remember the brave face and the half-truths? It was far easier to paint me as the wronged one rather than accept that if I had not sent that tweet, I would not have been sued. If I could have really tried, I could have saved my marriage. The only fault here was mine.
I began to, finally, accept the good things. I was steadily losing weight. I was keeping up with the exercising and the meditation. I was excite about my job interviews and the potentialy to have my own space. The pug helps ground me. I’m writing daily. I’ve been knitting like a fiend and the projects are getting complete. I savor going out in the world.
I am trying to be present and mindful.
BDP cannot be cured or control with drugs, but it can be lessened or recovery can happen via talk therapy (which I’m in now) and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy. I did DBT years and years ago, using some of the techniques to manage my emotions but I’ve let those tools rust and I need to get them back in rotation again. The writing and meditation help, but there is more. I’ve bought two books to work through the DBT alone (finding a good therapist, which I have, is difficult enough. Finding a DBT group is nearly impossible). I have done this before and I can do it again.
No one is ever really stable. Life is messy, but we can control how we messy we make life. I’m done with having chow mein existance and I strive to be more like a medium rare filet mignon. please.
And all the things, the plans I kept raving about, are finally solidifying. The sands are starting to turn into earth and one day will they will become mountains.


I sat out to write this as a “the holidays tend to suck, but I am grateful for these things (list things) and my life,” but has turned out to be more confessional then planned. Isn’t that always the case?


TheBassist is never far from my thoughts, but the worst of the pain has passed. I can stop boycotting Target, Barnes and Noble, Five Below or flinch when I see a Guitar Center. I have not cried when grocery shopping at a local store simply because it was the same layout as the grocery store TheBassist and I used to shop at. (I mean, really. A fucking crying jag in the produce aisle because it was designed similar to every other fucking grocery store on the planet but yet I associate it with ONE particular store? COME ON.) I’m okay when I pull out clothes that still smell of him and etc.


I cannot write this without thinking of e.e. cummings’ [i carry your heart with me(i carry it in], because that poem sings of my feelings for TheBassist. I have reconciled we may never see each other again, let alone get back together. I do know if/when I see him again, I will cry. Tears of relief, happiness, and everything in-between. Even if that is the only time I ever see him, I will cry. I better remember to not wear make-up.
Together we were not toxic, but I was toxic and in that toxicity I changed the pattern of the relationship. Love, faith, and want, at times, are simply not enough no matter how badly we want them to be.
Happy holidays.
xoxo,
Lisa

Today in Lisa-Universe: 2014, 20132011,  2002, 2001

only you can save yourself


February 5, 2016:  No, you’re not seeing things — looks like I originally wrote this on 12/14/2015 and never posted it — hence the abrupt ending.

Dear Internet,
I’ve started seeing my local L-vill therapist a few weeks ago and it’s going pretty well — which is important when working with a therapist. A shitty one can fuck you up but good.
I can’t seem to shake the, “What the fuck have I done with my life?” mode which is, of course, pissing me off. Again the reiteration of, “it takes time” came from her lips just as it does from TheExHusband, Krazy Kate, and others. I just feel so stalled. Most days, demotivated. Other days, overly excited about the changes that are to come.
I used to not read my old entries as it was often painful to read the bad, even mixed along with the good, as I mainly fixate on the bad that I’ve written. Considering all the upheaval this last year has been (emotionally, mentally, even physically), I need to find those patterns to see where I am going, how I’m doing, and what kind of progress I’m making. Along with my therapist (and commentary from TheExHusband whose seen me at my worst and my best), the following is true:

  • I’m more mentally stable than I give myself credit for. TheExHusband was on the money when he remarked, “… in comparison to this time last year, hell even six months ago, how I handle things, coping with things, just doing LIFE is a 180 degree turn around.” And it’s hard to admit that I AM making progress because training your brain not to be an asshole is HARD WORK. So the good is:
    • I work out four to five times a week and have been keeping at it for the last five weeks.
    • I’ve continued with cutting my sugar and dairy intake down and between the exercise and eating better,
    • I’m losing 1-2lbs a week. (Down almost 10lbs.)
    • I’m getting up, dressed, working out, and having my day every day.
    • I’ve been taking care of the dog without nary a complaint or issue (Welll.. more on that in a bit.)
    • I’m starting and completing projects ranging from coding to knitting
    • I’m leaving the house on a daily basis, even if it’s just to run errands
    • I’ve had two fabulous job interviews in the last month which have turned into two fabulous second in-person job interviews.

Some of this seems trivial, even to me even though it’s not, as this is all ADULTING. The takeaway for me is I’ve been able to do these things for some time and I never give myself credit for it. It’s hard when you’ve spent most of you time beating yourself up because your brain is so broken. Or you think it’s broken. Or you’re just being an asshole to yourself.
My shrink, medicating shrink, and others keep remarking on the rarity of my coping skills. I see what’s going on (I’m having a panic attack), I put a coping mechanism into place (This is how I’m going to handle the panic attack), and I self-care when that thing is done (I’m going to meditate).
A month ago I said,

I, of course, sent myself into tizzy if I had to come out to CT for the second interview and should I contact TheBassist and OMGHERD. What would I do?! First, calm the fuck down Lisa and get through the Skype interview. If you have to come out to CT for the in-person interview, so what? It’s a job. You need money. You’ve wanted this position for a year (it’s a repost). The money, even with the higher cost of living, is fabulous. The area is lovely. You’re close to NYC and Boston. The social plans you’re putting in motion in KY can be applied to CT. You’re 43 years old, buck it up lady.

xoxo,
Lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe: 2014, 2013, 2012, 1999, 1998

indefatigable

And I’ve been looking for my truth
Since God was a boy Guy Garvey

Dear Internet,
I’m taking a break from making holiday cards as there is only so many pithy messages one can write before the hand gets tired. The breakfast bar looks as if Michael’s has thrown up glitter and paper everywhere. I’ve received so many responses for the cards I closed down the form because a girl can only make so many damned cards. What is surprising me the most is I have not sliced a finger with the Exacto knife or glued things together that are not paper.
Edit: I’ve made all the damned cards and have loads of extras. If you want a card, go to bit.ly/HolidayCards2015.
I’ve been getting back into crafting again to help quell my brain and the satisfaction having a finished product made by oneself. I started with coloring this summer, moved on to knitting again when I found my knitting supplies. This, of course, meant I had a ton of projects started and no idea now who or what said projects are for. I tore each project back to a ball of yarn, using said yarn to knit myself a long scarf. Nothing fancy, just a garter stitch back and forth. I forgot how to fucking purl, cast on, and cast off. These are all simple stitches and if it were not for kind friends on Facebook and YouTube, L-ville would hear the brunt of my swearing on why I could not do what I had mastered so long ago.
A million and half years ago (2010 –  2012) I ran an Etsy shop, Excessively Diverting. I sold handcrafted holiday bulbs, pins, bookmarks, and other trinket specializing in out of copyright books and authors such as Jane Austen, the Bronte’s, Charles Dickens, and so forth and so on.
The shop was successful but the time & cost could not justify keeping the shop open as the majority of sales came during October, November, and December. When breaking down the wholesale cost of making the items and I was paying myself $0 per hour to keep prices competitive, meant I was barely breaking even. I kept all of the templates and other similar items in a box for said store re-opening sometime in the future, but I don’t even have a permanent place to live so that’s not happening anytime soon.
Back to crafting! I also do cross-stitch, which has been slow going. I started a project of matryoshka doll style Avengers ages ago as gift for someone I now have no idea who for. Captain America and the Hulk were finished before I realized I had fucked up the dimensions. That project is just hanging out in one of my craft boxes for something as I do not want to waste what I have already completed.
Then there is the holiday cards, which I’ve been steadily working on for the last week. I was perusing Etsy, Amazon, and other sites for cards to send this year, as you do, when TheExHusband suggested I make the cards instead. This is marvelous idea as I owned most of the major supplies required and all I needed to purchase was paper and a few colored glitter gel pens to finish the cards. Buying office supplies? Oh twist my arm. I have a large vintage tackle box chock full of pens of all sorts (gel, glitter, fountain), colored art pencils for the coloring, nibs and ink for said fountain pens, highlighters for paper and otherwise, drawing marks, and disposable calligraphy pens. Then there is my notebook collection which has grown so large, I have at least on packing box filled to the brim.
One could say I have a fetish for office supplies.


It’s been a couple of days since I started this entry, not finishing it as I didn’t really haven’t the heart. TheSads are again attacking, which probably amounts for and while TEH has been great on cheerleading me on to not dwell, but when you hurt, everything hurts: brain, body, emotions, feelings. Every change in inflection from whoever sends a cavalcade of feels from my brain to my toes.
It’s in that particular space I don’t want to be touched or spoken to. I want to do my thing (crafting, reading, watching TV, whatever) because I don’t have to think when I do these things. This is where I can not worry about my actions, my words, my being intrusive to someone else. It’s where the crying jags come, less frequently now but still appear nevertheless.
The non-touching part can be problematic when you’re around people who simply care about you and want you to feel better.
A friend on the Facebooks shared a mantra, of sorts,
momentofsuffering-web
Which has been a gods-send for me to remember that TheSads are a part of life, are not permanent and will leave at some point.


Yet a couple more days have passed since the above update. TheSads lasted all of one day, where I soaked TheExHusband’s shirt with tears. The following day I was feeling slightly right as rain and the day after that only got better.
For about a week I’ve been walking 17 minute miles on the treadmill since I wrote the above and the endorphin high has been awesome at keeping sad feelings at bay. I get up in the morning, throw on my workout clothes, eat breakfast, and head down to the in-house gym with a bottle of water and workout for about 40 minutes. The workout is two minutes to warm up, walk two miles at 17 minutes a mile and then cool down. With my Spotify “get fit” mix in my ears, the time passes quickly.
I haven’t done yoga since we’ve returned back to Louisville and while one could point out I was being lazy, I will retort there was no space in the condo for me to lay my yoga mat down. True facts.
The lack of space has much to do with my stuff taking up all the available space. Over the past weekend we moved all of the boxes down to TheExHusband’s storage unit and now the condo looks huge. After some furniture shifting, there is now space for my yoga mat and the condo doesn’t seem as claustrophobic as it once was. I joked to TheExHusband that as we’ve shifted all of my things into the storage, I will now get a job.
You can bet on it.


Speaking of such, my Louisville job interview went really well as they are bringing me in for a two day in-person interview in a few weeks. My Connecticut interview, via Skype, is tomorrow. I’m nervous but I feel pretty confident about both situations. I need to get a mutha-fucking job. Full stop. I’m doing research on both positions and living in both locations. If by some grace of the gods I get two offers, it’s going to be a really hard call. The bennies for both are nearly identical but the pay is wildly disparate: $20K between the two at their minimum pay rate. Taking into account the cost of living for both cities, the Connecticut job will allow me to pay down my $20K credit card debt that much sooner. (Which is crazy to think about when the cost of living is a bit on the high side.)
You might be thinking, “Okay. Get through the damned interviews first” and I get that. I do. But I have to think about these things so I’m not making half-assed jumps for one over the other. Both positions are awesome and I can do a lot of good at both institutions, so if I come to this crossroads, I’ve got a lot to think about.
It should go without saying if only one position offers me the job, that is the one I’m taking. A girl cannot be picky.
If neither offer me a position, I’m starting the search again in January when the academic job search reopens.
It should be no surprise I’m exhausted from the amount of job hunting I’ve done over the last 11 months. But it will get better soon, this I do know.


One of the last things I said to TheBassist before the break-up was I’m emotionally exhausted and that is still true. The idea of dating right now makes me nauseous and compounded with reading OkStupid, just ugh. (I would implore you to not read OkStupid for the simple fact it will depress you on the state of humanity.)
I’ve resigned for not dating for year but I will be open to finding new friends in the area I’m living in permanently. In Louisville it would be super awesome to go out with other people not TheExHusband and it would be super cool to meet new people on the East Coast. Friends are good. Dick pics are not.
I dragged TheExHusband out to a social event last week and that went…not so well. It was run by one of the larger social groups in Louisville and the crowd was mainly yuppies and other ilk; not my scene at all. TheExHusband and I met a few people, mainly creeper guys who were there to pick up women and “get free shit” (as told to us by one such individual). I was feeling anti-social, part of TheSads, and TheExHusband was amazed he was the one making introductions rather than myself. I’m a pretty outgoing person when I need to be but I just wasn’t feeling the vibe of this particular group of people. TheExHusband mused we need to find our own people, geeks and such, and there are socials for them so that will be on our agenda in the upcoming weeks.


I’m leaving the house on a daily basis, I’ve cut sugar out of my diet and eating as little dairy I can get away with, I’m exercising, and meditating (131 days in a row and counting), — you know, all the things that I need to live a life and that I should be doing anyway. But I loathe to talk about ThePlan, in this space, right now because I always have good intentions and then they peter out. I want to make these changes permanent — and I think this time they are sticking. I don’t feel rushed about doing these things, I just do them. I may not be talking about such matters in-depth as I am wont to do but I will at least give some kind of update every now and then
A big part of my feeling better will be when I get a damned job. That’s a certainty that cannot be denied. When that happens, everything else will fall into place.


Finally, it is a mere 209 days to Lisa-mas.
xoxo,
Lisa

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2014, 2013, 1998