NanoPoblano, Day 9: The appropriate hour to lose one’s shit.

I had a bit of a nervous breakdown somewhere around 4 this morning, because everyone knows 4am is the best time to suddenly start sobbing violently into your pillow because you’ve realized you have no fucking clue how you’ve managed to reach the age of 32 and still not have mustered up any semblance of a real career, nor the faintest idea how you might land yourself on the path to one that you might find even remotely tolerable.

Okay, maybe not the best thing to try and come to terms with when sunrise is still three hours away.

But there it is.

My husband just got a rather sizeable raise and a whopping great dose of job stability at his work immediately upon our return from Japan.

He landed his current job nearly a year ago, after we lived almost solely on my income for two years so he could go back to school and get training in a field that didn’t make him lose the will to live. He is now doing what he loves, and getting increasingly well-compensated for it into the bargain.

Well enough that he’s arguing it’s my turn to have my own chance at a new start.

Which is thoughtful and all, except *BRAIN EXPLODES*.

I hate my work. There’s no denying it. I only took the stupid job as an easy paycheck and a placeholder in my resume because I couldn’t find anything else on my return home from grad school abroad.

At the time I thought I was accepting a temporary position helping a small business prepare and migrate data during a major system upgrade. Key word, temporary.

Five years later, I’m 50% of their full-time accounting staff and I have NO FUCKING IDEA HOW THAT HAPPENED because the two things I loathe most on this earth are math and managing other people’s money.

I’ve wished meteor strikes on that building. I’ve had days where I’d rather my car be totaled on the way to work than have to deal with the asshattery waiting for me. I fantasize about quitting more than I fantasize about baked goods and chocolate.

But I’ve gotten so firmly wedged into this rut, I’ve never bothered trying to think about what I would actually do if I ever got free.

Which is why I kind of lost it when that became a real possibility.

My husband says, “I just want you to be happy,” and suddenly I’m trapped in the Total Goddamn Perspective Vortex of You Have No Career Path, panicking.

Because what it all boils down to is that I have two useless degrees, seven years of customer service experience, five years of office experience, and dick all else to my name as far as hireability goes.

So any other job I even remotely qualify for at present is just going to be more of the same fucking bullshit I’m already dealing with on a daily basis, except likely with nowhere near as kickass a manager to vent to.

Unless I go back to school…
…but for WHAT?

For the fun of it, I guess. Because there is practically nothing that truly interests me that you can actually make a living from, or that doesn’t take 8 years of apprenticeships to learn.

I haven’t been this bewildered and unsettled in a long time. I don’t know how things got this way, and I can’t turn back the hands of time to do over the parts where I fucked it all up. I just came home from a foreign land, but I’m still completely lost.

I sound like a frightened little child, and that’s how I feel. Seriously, how can I be this far into my life and not know anything?

I don’t expect answers. I don’t expect sympathy. I don’t expect anything. I just needed to take this space and let myself be frazzled and shaken and terrified and pathetic, and acknowledge that I am all those things so that I can start working on not being them.

And I’ve still got my fingers crossed for that meteor.

Then the morning comes.

I pull out of the garage and into the morning light. A veil of chilly condensation is still draped over the sleeping cars and lawns. As I turn onto our street, heading east, the sun is low and golden. The city skyline, bathed in rich copper, looks both formidable and ethereal through the slight October haze. Then I take a right, and the scene disappears.

But on the approach to 41st Avenue, the horizon comes back into view, and I catch my breath. Mother Nature has been busy in the last ten minutes. Very busy.

I am in awe.

This is it, I think; the sky that inspired the Homeric epic “rosy-fingered” dawn. It must be. A cosmic wonder of cloud and light play, fanning out across the eastern heavens in their entirety; a glorious riot of blues and creams and rose gold whose beauty the great artists of the Renaissance would have wept to behold.

The sky is doing its best impression of the swirling bands of Jupiter, crossed with a galaxy viewed side-on. The clouds have maneuvered themselves into an intricate display of translucent scrollwork whose every curve and facet glows with a slightly different shade of pastel radiance.

A sprawling horizontal tear in the middle of it all allows the sun to peek through like a giant benevolent eye. The effect is otherworldly and overwhelming in its magnificence.

I remember I should be looking at the road, but only just.

As I merge onto the bridge to Richmond, the tableau is already fading. The ornate cloudscape slowly but inevitably coalesces into two formless grey belts, all their careful detail lost. Only the rift between and the eye remain, the latter now appearing somewhat colder and less kindly than before.

I pull into the office parking lot, stare at the featureless white building where I am to spend the next eight hours, and sigh.

The sound of silence.

My dad snores loud enough to wake the dead. Possibly literally. He may very well be the reason zombies are a thing, though nothing’s been conclusively proven.

On childhood camping trips with my family, his lawnmower-like respirations were further amplified, echoing recursively inside the RV as though we were overnighting with an army of determined groundskeepers on an endless field of uncut grass.

My husband grew up with a younger brother. For the sake of his sanity, he quickly learned to sleep through anything.

I was an only child. I did not have that advantage.

My mother had long ago turned to ear plugs and white noise to try to drown out her husband’s schnozz thunder. During our road trip forays down coastlines and through national parks in the giant metal sausage we called a recreational vehicle, I would inevitably beg a spare pair of ear plugs off her after a handful of sleepless nights. She would laugh at the request, reminding me that my few weeks of suffering in a rumbling tin can were peanuts compared to what she had to put up with year-round, but she always took pity on me in the end.

I don’t know why I bothered, though, because just as inevitably, they wouldn’t work.

Most modern ear plugs are shaped, logically, like an ear canal. The ones my mother bought in bulk looked more like obese miniature marshmallows.

Mini marshmallows are not generally known for their soundproofing capabilities. I don’t know what the noise reduction rating was on my mother’s preferred spongy yellow ear confections, but it was never enough to fully mute the sound of my father trying to inhale the curtains.

To make matters worse, for all the squishing and coaxing and maneuvering it took to get them situated just right, I would get only one, maybe two decent hours of sleep before my ears would manage to strategically dislodge them.

I would wake suddenly, bleary-eyed and disoriented, thinking for all the world that I had somehow managed to sleepwalk into an active logging site, and terrified that someone might yell “Timmmberrrrrrr!” at any moment.

Then I would realize it was just the snore factory on the opposite bunk, singing the song of his people.

I would only ever find one of the escaped ear plugs. Without fail the other member of the pair had either snuck out quietly in the night, thumbed a ride, and was halfway to Mexico, or else just spontaneously vaporized out of sheer stress. I hope those vanished plugs found peace, wherever they went, because I sure as hell didn’t.

The year my parents bought me a Sony Walkman, I gave up on the whole ear plug idea for good, because headphones stayed put better and staticky radio was a lot easier to fall asleep to than a large man’s uvular warblings.

Fast forward a couple of decades.

I bought them on a whim. A 12-pack of logically-shaped, attractively colored ear plugs that actually looked capable of fitting in a human ear without the use of brute force and thinly veiled threats.

What the hell, I thought, maybe I actually might get some sleep on that 10 hour flight to Japan.

My husband and I will be jetting off to the land of sushi and weird-flavored KitKats for a long-awaited vacation in the not-so-distant future. By airline law, there will be at least one crying baby on the plane, three passengers with persistent phlegmy coughs which they will make no effort to suppress, a chronic sneezer in the seat directly behind mine, and a chatty couple in the middle of the row who want to be friends with everyone whether everyone likes it or not.

And as I have never successfully slept on a plane while wearing headphones, I figured giving ear plugs another shot couldn’t hurt.

So I took them home, tossed the package on the dresser next to my travel pillow and other carry-on staples I’ve begun stockpiling like a squirrel, and promptly forgot about them.

Then Canadian Thanksgiving happened.

Look, I don’t want to name names or point fingers, but if certain persons decide to invite company over for a holiday weekend involving large number of people in a small space, generally it’s polite to inform your guests that you’ve recently contracted the plague before they’ve taken an overpriced ferry across the Strait of Georgia to come stay with you. Just sayin’.

Everyone, and I mean everyone was sick with the flu when we arrived. It was Thanksgiving at the Virus Factory. Dinner at Typhoid Mary’s. Weekend with the Walking Dead. Apparently they were somehow able to prepare a full turkey feast, but not capable of picking up a phone to let us know that maybe we shouldn’t come over because HYGIENE.

Long story short, giving thanks gave us germs. Everyone who wasn’t already sick when they arrived damn sure was by the time they left.

I got off lucky, landing myself a nagging case of the sniffles and the occasional coughing fit.

Nutty Hubby was not so fortunate. By the time we hopped back on the ferry home, he was feverish and his nose was running like a faucet. His coughs rattled the tempered glass windows.

And that night, the snores began. The obstreperous nocturne of the stuffy-nosed infirm. The Ghost of Flu Season Present, come to haunt me.

It’s not his fault. He’s sick. He can’t help it. I will remain calm. I will remain rational. I will not smother my husband with my pillow. I will not smother my husband with my pillow…

I was one more tortured rumble away from moving to the living room couch when I remembered the ear plugs on the dresser. Why not, I thought. Let’s take ’em for a test drive.

Oh. My. God.

I didn’t even need to get the shit kicked out of me first.

Friends, ear plugs have come a long way. I don’t know what took me so long to give them a second chance, but I never want to take those beautiful pastel bastards out of my ears again as long as I live.

No snores disturb my slumber.

No clunking footsteps or furniture scraping on upstairs floorboards can jolt me back to alertness just as I’m finally starting to doze off.

No sound can touch me, save for the beating of my own heart. It’s like being underwater in a cool, still lake.

How beautiful, the sound of silence.

So I’m more excited than ever for the flight to Japan.  Just lemme at that motherfucking plane. I’m pumped. I’m set. I’m…pretty much deaf, really.


This Bud’s for you.

It’s 2 in the morning. I am sitting on a bench in the shadows of a dark street corner, staring up at the stars and feeling the wind.

It’s been a long day, but thanks to my life partner Insomnia, I’m still wide awake. So I came out here, to let the starlight and the rustling of leaves fill my eyes and ears. To smother my incessant mental background chatter with a blanket of organic calm.

Beats lying in bed staring at the ceiling.

Out of the darkness, a guy in his twenties stumbles up over the curb and makes for the bench opposite mine, shooting me a rueful grin. He’s holding two unopened cans of beer in one hand, which he uses to indicate the bench while forming a question with his eyebrows. I start to nod but end up shrugging awkwardly at the last second, exhibiting my usual tenuous grasp on normal human interaction, but it gets the point across. Beer Guy saunters the last few steps to the bench and flops down with a prolonged sigh.

Although I have said nothing, Beer Guy decides he owes me an explanation as he cracks the first can open. “Hope you don’t mind. Gotta finish these off before…” Except I will never know the reason for his compulsory beer consumption, because he simply trails off there, assuming I understand where he is going with the thought. I suppose this is flattering, as it indicates I’ve successfully passed as someone who knows how today’s after dark society works, but in reality I’m just left unfulfilled. Before what? Before you turn into a pumpkin at 3am? Before catching the bus? Before your 12 step program sponsor sees you? Before the impending zombie apocalypse? Don’t leave me hanging, man.

Beer Guy interrupts my Before what? musings by grunting something in my direction, and I look over to see him holding out an unopened Budweiser. “Want one?” he asks, as casually as if we were hanging out in someone’s living room watching football and not total strangers on a dark street corner. “No thanks,” I laugh, and realizing the absurdity of the question he chuckles sheepishly back and quickly looks away.

Just FYI.

I return to my stargazing, but it’s immediately apparent that Beer Guy does not do well with sitting in silence. He scuffs his shoes against the paving stones and restlessly taps the side of his beer can. He begins looking around absentmindedly, peering down the sidewalks as if wishing someone else would show up. I start to wonder if he sat here hoping I was the talkative type, up for a late night chat. If so, he has chosen poorly.

The frequency of his tapping increases. He graduates to drumming the fingers of his free hand on the bench. He leans forward slightly and rocks a bit on the edge of the wooden seat. And then– we have liftoff! In one swift motion he is on his feet and disappearing down the road, tucking the unopened Budweiser under his arm as he throws his head back and chugs the remaining contents of the other.

I’ll never know if he turned into that zombie pumpkin.

Dear Diary

The other night I made a New Year’s resolution to start journaling again.

Okay, so I might be a little late on the New Year’s thing by a month or ten. And as a general rule I don’t really believe in making New Year’s resolutions. Let’s just call this an “October objective”.

Anyway, I realized I really, really need to start keeping a diary.

Although if you want to be literal about it, I’ve technically been keeping lots of diaries. I just haven’t been writing in them. I have an entire shelf of empty hardcover notebooks I apparently bought for the sole purpose of sitting around and looking pretty. I might definitely have a slight major notebook hoarding problem.

It’s not that I don’t want to write in them. I just never seem to find the energy to pick up a pen. Dealing with a massive database clusterfuck and a giant upcoming overhaul of my entire accounting system at work have made me so burnt out and exhausted that even composing a simple tweet feels like trying to write a goddamn novel these days.

But the ideas, man. They just won’t stop coming. A couple of months ago I was strapped for ideas. Now I’m inundated. They hurl themselves at my brain in the silence of my late night strolls around the neighborhood with my old pal Insomnia. They scream “Shotgun!” and pile into the passenger seat of my car as I leave work, and then talk over each other the whole drive home. They make me hopeful. They make me wistful. They make me laugh out loud at their silliness.

99% of them have absolutely no place on this blog, but I need to stop using that as an excuse not to take the time to at least jot them down for their own sake. I used to find that so easy before academia and blogging made me overly analytical of my own writing, and I want that ease back. I need to let go of my perfectionist tendencies and just fucking write, with no pressure to be clever or funny or wise. So I’ve designated October as my official “quit your bitching and just fucking record this shit in a journal already so you’ll stop punishing yourself for letting perfectly good ideas go to waste” month.

That’s a working title, obviously; I’ll see if I can come up with something catchier.

I know this is a long and unnecessary post just to say, “Hey guys, guess what, I’m writing a daily diary that you won’t ever read,” but I have a history of not following through on plans like this (see NaNoWriMo) and experience has taught me that announcing shit publicly is the best way to keep myself accountable. Sorry for using you.

I mentally composed this post on a park bench in the 2:30am darkness after thinking about how diary entries from me now would differ from the diary I kept in my early teens. I found it hilarious and depressing at the same time.

Nutty, age 13:

Dear Diary, do I like Stuart? I think I might like Stuart. Everyone says he’s fat, but he’s not really, he’s just stocky. And he’s nice and he smells good. I think I like him.

Nutty, age 32:

Dear Diary, tonight I finally killed that giant fucking fruit fly that’s been pissing me off for the last two weeks. Got a mosquito while I was at it too. DOUBLE KILL, FUCK YEAH. I am awesome. I am a master assassin. Bring it, vermin.

Nutty, age 13:

Dear Diary, today I finally did a perfect front flip off Katie’s patio railing onto the trampoline, but then Stuart double bounced me when I landed even though I asked him not to and he promised he wouldn’t. Don’t know if I like Stuart that much after all. Boys are kinda jerks.

Nutty, age 32:

Dear Diary, I can’t believe my calf muscle is complaining about basic walking when I used to do things like fucking flips off patio railings onto trampolines.
Me: *walking*
Calf Muscle: Stop it. That hurts.
Me: What hurts?
Calf Muscle: Walking.
Me: What? Why? What’d I ever do to you?
Calf Muscle: You know what you did.
Me: Ohhh no, don’t you pull that stereotypical female “if you don’t know then I’m not telling you” bullshit. Tell me what the fuck is wrong right fucking now.
Calf Muscle: No.
Me: You can’t, can you? Because I didn’t do anything. Admit it, you’re just being a bitch for no reason.
Body: Welcome to your thirties, princess. Go Peter Pan yourself to Neverland if you’re that much of a pussy who can’t deal.
Me: Yeah well according to every person ever my biological clock is supposed to be screaming at me by now too, but that ain’t happening, is it?
Body: Oh come on, do you really want to get knocked up?
Me: Hell no, I’m just sayin-
Body: Do you want to want to get knocked up?
Me: Fuck no, but-
Body: I rest my case. Now leave me be, I have involuntary eye twitches and a random inexplicable pain in your ring finger to schedule.

Nutty, age 13:

Dear Diary, holy crap, I just realized I can do like twenty one-handed push-ups in a row. Katie is majorly impressed. Maybe I should join the army. I feel like an Amazon warrior. I totally rock.

Nutty, age 32:

Dear Diary, I think I slept on my neck funny again. I bet I pinched a nerve or something, because my jaw and ear hurt too. Did I fuck up my vagus nerve? Is that the right nerve? Damn, I’ve forgotten most of that anatomy I learned in intro to neurolinguistics.

Nutty, age 13:

Dear Diary, I desperately need to grow out these hideous bangs.

Nutty, age 32:

Dear Diary, “I hurt myself sleeping” is slowly creeping its way up my list of most-used phrases. I thought my neck was getting better but I must have slept on it wrong AGAIN because now the pain is back even worse than before. Maybe it’s not a nerve. Maybe I have flesh-eating disease like that woman in that program I saw on TLC back when it was actually a channel about learning things. Great. Now they’re gonna fucking have to surgically remove half my face and neck and probably my entire jaw. Wait, could they 3D print me a new jaw? Note to self: check company insurance plan to see if 3D printing of replacement body parts is covered.

Nutty, age 13:

Dear Diary, I wish I was a grown-up already because life would be so much easier.

Nutty, age 32:

Dear Diary, 13-year-olds are fucking idiots.

Waiter, there’s a beach in my beach.

Picture it: Sicily, 1922…er, Vancouver, 2015.

It is a beautiful June afternoon, one of many such recent afternoons in a magnificent streak of good weather. The sun is shining high in the sky. A soft wind blows in from the west, helping to take the edge off the heat.

I stand at the edge of paradise and soak it all in.

The tide is out. Toddlers in water wings splash happily in shallow pools while older children dig holes and adorn sand castles with kelp and shells. Screaming teenagers dance around their friends, knee deep in the chilly water, gleefully threatening to push each other all the way in.

A Frisbee whizzes through the air, is caught via a spectacular dive. The catcher’s cry of triumph is muffled as he disappears momentarily under the rolling waves. Further up the beach, the rhythmic thunk, thunk, thunk of a volleyball being passed back and forth echoes by the concession.

And in between, a hundred glowing bodies lie sprawled out on blankets, mats, sarongs and towels, simply being there.

My turn. Continue reading

Chicken Soup for the Soles

So we didn’t win the lottery on Friday.

Same shit, different date, I know. I’m not entirely unrealistic in my expectations. But it’s been a bad couple of weeks for me health-wise, and it would’ve been really nice if this had been the draw that rescued me from the job that drains all my energy and the stifling hot bedroom with zero air circulation that won’t let me have a proper sleep to build up any new energy to drain.

Although it’s probably best that we didn’t win this week. Turns out there were four winning tickets in total, and Nutty Hubby and I don’t like to share, and it might look just the slightest bit suspicious if all the other winners mysteriously disappeared.

So we’re not millionaires, and we’re not murderers. I guess there are worse things.

Cave Johnson and I are bad at optimism.

Continue reading

So you’ve forgotten your one year blogiversary.

Step 1: Don’t Panic.

Okay, maybe panic a little. Or a lot. Grab your towel. You know where your towel is, don’t you?

Step 2: Apologize.

Dear Blog, I has a sad because I forgotzors ur birthday.

Step 3: Apologize like you mean it, asshole.

You can’t tell me what to do.

Step 4: Continue being an asshole while your blog quietly weeps and plots revenge.

Are you- you’re not really- oh for fuck’s sake…c’mere, you. Give me a hug. I’m sorry, really.

Step 5: Make restitution.

Here, have a cookie. Blogs love cookies.

Step 6: Make better restitution.

Beers all around!

Step 7: Make decidedly-hazardous-to-your-remaining-brain-cells restitution.

Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters all around!

Step 8: Make a drunken and ultimately regrettable speech.

“Lishen up, everrone. SHHHHHHHHHHH. SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. I jusht wanted to shay *hic* happy *hic* belated birthday to the…*hic*…to the…the besht gosh darn blurrggggg everrrrrrrrr!!!1!#%!! *sobs into drink* I love you, man. I love you.”

Bartender: “Who’s she talking to? We’ve been closed for a half hour.”

Busboy: “The jukebox, looks like.”

Step 9: Sober up, invent time machine, return to May 29th, celebrate blogiversary on time to eliminate need for belated regrettable speech and ensuing hangover.

…OR more likely fuck up, go further back in time than intended, step on a stupid fucking butterfly and doom humanity.

Step 10: Fuck that noise.

Because A Sound of Thunder was bad enough the first time.

Step 11: Thank your readers for being awesome… (Psst: You’re awesome!)

…after you’ve spent a while marveling yet again over the fact that you actually have readers.

Step 12: Give yourself a pat on the back and a phony award.

Go ahead. You’re worth it.

60% chance of scattered brains.

Oh, hi. How long have you been standing there?

I hope you haven’t been waiting too long.

I really didn’t intend for my blog to be this starved for material after the A to Z challenge wound down, but I think my brain just went into “Holy shit, FREEDOM!” mode and decided to stop working according to any kind of logic.

Okay, to be fair my brain almost never operates according to any kind of logic, but this was an even more fractured lack of logic than usual.

As in 2 + 2 = hmm, I should buy limes to have with my beer. Am I eating too many avocados? I want to go for a bike ride but that means I have to fix my bike seat. Screw it, I’m taking pictures of everything in my apartment that I hate.*

Meanwhile I was somehow getting way better blog traffic in the weeks following the challenge than I actually did during the challenge, and that didn’t help matters because it was all too tempting to interpret that sudden surge in viewership as you guys thanking me for finally shutting the fuck up after my 26 day word barrage.

(If that was the case, you’re welcome. Don’t say I never did anything for you.)

I think I may be experiencing a little May mini-repeat of the March Blahs, which has not been helped by the fact that at work I keep accidentally writing “Mar” on things instead of “May”, which has also really not been helped by the fact that I am by no means the only one in the office who keeps making this mistake.

I fully expect the same thing to happen for Jun/Jul, but I won’t care then because I’ll be spending my weekends topless on Wreck Beach, and once you set yourself down on that piping hot, deliciously fine sand and let the girls out for a bit of summer sun, you kind of stop giving a fuck about all the dumb shit you did that week at your job.

Anyway, long story short my thoughts have finally started settling down enough for me to write semi-coherently again, so hopefully I will have a proper new post up soon. Possibly almost certainly inevitably complaining about something or several somethings.

Also, to whoever got here recently by searching “people nut in the gril ass hole”, I don’t even want to know.


*This may or may not turn out to be relevant to my next real blog post.