Adult Friendships and Other Unrealistic Goals

The concert came and went but Ave the guitarist continued to feel as lonesome and restless as ever.

Their performance had been subspectacular. It was about a hair below mediocre. But most importantly, it was done.

She hadn’t given up, not even when she had to write the letters next to the notes on the sheet music to keep up with the other musicians. Not even when her custom ordered guitar hadn’t come. She marched up on that stage, trudged right along through every measure, well, maybe not every measure.

Ok so she skipped a few measures here and there. But she stuck it out and took a bow with the rest of them.

I’m not sure why i was writing about myself in third person but i’m going to stop that now.

This was a difficult project i undertook. The women i met were very supportive and wonderful. Everyone was. I wish it wasn’t so time consuming. I wish i was rich and could devote myself to all of my art projects without neglecting any.

I had planned on finishing my novel this year. But if i stay in chamber music, i won’t have time for that or to do the illustrations on a book my dad’s self-publishing.

If i let a lot of time go by between drawing or photo projects, i start to feel like i’m losing myself. The same thing happens when i go a couple weeks without giving any Bible classes.

But like i said, the ladies i played guitar with were so supportive and it’s hard to find people like that.

I recently texted an old friend. She wanted to hang out and said she’d check her calendar and get back to me. It’s been a week and a half. I think it’s safe to assume she can’t find her calendar.

Something similar happened with a childhood friend of mine who texted me in January to hang out in February. She never texted me when the time came, so i texted her a few weeks later and she never replied. I’m pretty sure she was drunk the first time she texted me back in January.

It’s hard for me to put myself out there and get met with rejection. I work in Sales so i’m rather used to it, but it’s not the same. I always try to act like it’s ok and it doesn’t matter. I just go on living my life as normal. Sometimes i hear the women in my congregation got together to do this or that and i feel bad because i get left out.

I get that no one really gets my sense of humor. Those who do get it already have their own tight circle; they don’t need new close friends. I’m somehow outside their comfort zone.

At least i have my husband, but he’s always asleep or on his phone or at the gym or at his parents’.

I guess i’m just not that fun to be around. Like on a fun scale i’d probably be just the scale, not even a number.

Tonight i called my mom to invite her to come conduct a Bible study with me. But she’s too busy. The other day she came to a nearby city to a baby shower. I was sort of jealous.

I can’t even remember the last time i was invited to a baby shower. The clothes are so cute, and the little shoes make me teary-eyed. I think i was eight.

I really don’t get it. I even texted this guy i’ve been trying to be friends with for like a year now, because we have a lot in common. The one i said was my soulmate. But that’s pretty much unilateral, as so many of my relationships are. As was the conversation.

He didn’t reply. I deleted his number. It hurts too much to reach out in the dark for someone and be ignored. Anyway, I was just trying to be nice. At least that’s what i thought i was doing.

But let’s revisit my childhood traumas for just a second. Our home was so very small and i was always in everybody’s way. I wanted to disappear. I started overdosing on over the counter painkillers.

That was fun.

When we lived in Mexico, the consensus in the congregation was that i was somehow holding my husband back. So i mixed the painkillers with cleaning liquids and eventually alcohol.

That wasn’t so fun.

The last time i did that, i was 32. My husband had stormed out of the house, angry about something. I was taking my heartrate as i downed the bottle. It was somewhere in the 30s.

Someone called me from a different congregation. She said i sounded weird. I told her i was alright. After hanging up, i put away the bottle.

My dad used to work as a cab driver and that lady was always calling me to ask if he could take her to the doctor’s. It was irritating and i ended up blocking her. But i think God used her that one time.

I never liked it that my dad worked as a cab driver and spent all that time alone with women passengers. It must have bothered me every night for about 23 years.

I don’t know how my mom could handle that. Perhaps i’m far too insecure.

The point is i was suicidal then, but i’m not now. And maybe most people around me never even notice i’m there, so it’s hard for me to part ways with my guitarristas, because they gave me the impression that they cared.

I guess i can always conjure up my imaginary ex-boyfriend. I wonder what he’s up to these days.


My Unborn Child Was a Stomach Bug

I am definitely not cut out to be a guitarist. I have not enjoyed the last few days or the idea of having to do this concert.

Now the day has finally arrived and i wish i could stay in bed all day.

What is the point of performing chamber music in a theater setting? That’s not what it was composed for. It was composed for chamber settings. Small intimate rooms. It’s in the name.

I try not to think about my lost guitar in Mexico or the asshole who never delivered it. I can’t expend energy on being upset.

There will be time for that tomorrow.

Our sextet ensemble kinda sucks and that’s a little depressing. I know the music well but when i’m in public, i blank at random intervals. At this point, i’ve played every piece hundreds of times, but i still blank.

I wasn’t blanking before last week so it is either because i switched to a different sized guitar or because of performance anxiety.

My dad used to say that what you were trying to do doesn’t matter. The only thing that’s important is the end result. My brother and i never agreed with him.

I specifically asked my parents not to come to the concert.

He once advised me not to eat sugar before a show to help with my anxiety. So i stopped drinking chocolate and Coke a week ago and i’ve been in a pretty bad mood.

It’s just not worth it.

And the thing is, i never felt this much dislike of performing when i was just singing. But i do wonder if it’s this bad just because it’s a new experience to me, and it could improve over time?

Or is my bitterness from not receiving my guitar oozing into other aspects of my musical life?

To be honest, lately i don’t enjoy anything, other than food and television. (I was a tv addict as a child until my parents canceled cable).

I feel very inept as a human. I think i would be a very good cat or koala. Anything that’s supposed to sleep for most of the day. I could get Panda of the Year, i bet.

I thought i was pregnant for a few days and that was exciting. But that turned out to be a stomach bug. My breasts were itchy but that was because my washer didn’t rinse out my bras well enough. My back was hurting but that was probably because the guitar i switched to is heavier than my other one. I gained a little weight but that’s just what i tend to do.

Then i read online that if you’re very thirsty or have fever, it’s just a stomach flu, not pregnancy. And i have been very thirsty and a little feverish.

But yesterday i had a nice surprise. When i got home there was a pot of flowers on the table with a card. My husband said he didn’t know who had brought them for me.

I opened the card and it turned out they were for my mother in law who lives next door.

My in-laws are the only people i invited to the concert, other than my husband, but they won’t be able to go.

Maybe i can enjoy the concert more if i think of it as a team-failing exercise. I always fail alone, but this time i get to fail as a team.

I probably shouldn’t tell them that.

The Benefits of Going Mad

Cat hairball season is in full swing and i spent the better part of this daybreak cleaning up after them.

Of course, i couldn’t sleep between coughing fits because of something someone said last night, which would continue to eat away at me if i let it.

Unrelatedly, someone different alluded yesterday to me “and my paradox worlds.”

And now, caught in the snags of my depression, grasping for my happy place, and only having one recourse which isn’t a place at all but a moment in time… i wonder if it’s ok to let myself go there. A moment which only existed as a ripple and doesn’t currently have anything to do with reality.

On the pro side, if i allow my sleep-deprived self to dwell there, i can conserve inner peace. The physical world can fall apart around me. I can tune it all out and just be.

On the other hand, if i go around smiling and not replying to others’ complaints, they’ll assume i enjoy the criticism or am going mad.

It’s almost as if in order to function properly, i would have to find a midpoint between my happy place and reality. But i cannot do that. Because halfway to my happy place isn’t my happy place. It’s just more of this… cat vomit and not being good enough.

But if i stay here in reality, insomniac me will get irritated and say things others don’t want to hear and then they’ll hate me more than they do now. Insomniac me can’t concentrate on anything long enough to be productive. Insomniac me is slow and tardy.

But in my happy place i can soar above it all in a red-orange hot air balloon, sipping on champagne, singing like a bird. I can even drop heavy things from the sky without real consequence.

This reminds me of “Around the World In 80 Days.” I lost track of how many times i read that book growing up. I’ve always wanted to mirror that voyage in real life as closely as possible.

But i only get 2-weeks paid vacation. If i lived in one of those modern nations with extended paid maternity leave, i could do it then. Because in my happy place, i must be cleaning up after a baby instead of cats.

Though in this reality, i’d be cleaning up after all of them- cats, baby, and husband.

Is it selfish to dissociate and go Matrix on everyone? Wouldn’t everyone be better off in the long run if i just let my mental health go? It’s not like anyone depends on me. Well my cats do, but they say they’ll stick by me either way.

Congratulations, IRS

Ah, numbers. Reliable. Consistent. One plus one is always two, etc, etc. Change the tax code enough and you’ll have screwed over millions of hardworking people. When did it become so illogically expensive to live in the U.S.?

I never analyzed our taxes in previous years because we pay someone to do them. It seems redundant to think about something you’re already paying someone else to think about.

But when i awoke today, i couldn’t get over how much we’d paid in property taxes.

I never noticed it before because it used to be entirely deductible from our yearly income. Not anymore.

It is as if California has a permanent high HOA fee for anyone who wants to own land here.

I love California. The ocean. The mountains. Valleys. Giant trees. Wildfires. Mudslides. Socioeconomic disparity.

It doesn’t make any financial sense for us to live here.

Granted, i have no idea what property taxes are in other states. But at least some home prices aren’t as high.

I never really think about these things because my income is to some degree supplemental. I’m in charge of purchasing cat toys, decent hotel rooms, and clothes to look cute in.

But it turns out that this year there is no cat tax credit. And our cats are very high maintenance.

Taking into account that we can’t afford health insurance, it makes me wonder how much money a person has to make to comfortably live here.

I see families with kids in SUVs, driven around by manicured stay-at-home moms, and i wonder what the hell are we doing wrong? No way could we afford to bring up a family here.

I guess i could go try to work full time for a bigger company with more benefits, but it’s hard to find bigger benefits than working close to home and having a flexible schedule.

Maybe this is the price we pay for having a high quality of life. Buying fresh groceries. Line-drying clothes.

The truth is if we are ever to pay down any debt, i have to stop my music endeavors. No more private voice lessons. No summer guitar academy. No private dance studio classes. No wanting anything.

From now on i am committed to austerity. I am a monk of sorts. A female monk. A monkess.

Who knows, i may even give up avocado toast.

I Didn’t Actually Kill Anyone

It’s a strange feeling when you get near a peak, turn around to take in the scenery and realize you accidentally pushed your partner off the ledge a long time ago.

(This is a metaphor; i didn’t actually kill anyone).

Not that they would have died in this metaphor situation. No. They just dusted themselves off and went on as if they never really knew you.

But whatever you did- you didn’t do it on purpose. So now you’re stuck somewhere by your lonely sorry ass self, hating all off your own fibers that stitch you together. But it’s ok, because you deserve the pain. You should have never tried to bring anyone along for the ride.

Who needs a soulmate anyway? Soulmates aren’t even a real thing.

I mean, i’m bilingual, and i have fundamental knowledge of at least two other languages, and i’m learning a 5th. So i have a pretty broad pool of people i could potentially communicate with. Now if we take a 10 year cushion on either side of my generation, how many people were born in that 20 year span that i can potentially relate to?

Now how many of them are vegetarians?

How many of them are musicians?

How many of them share my general view of the future?

How many of them could guess what i’m thinking when i can’t remember the right word?

How many of them have similar priorities?

I’m guessing about 1.5 billion people were in the initial soulmate pool. Let’s assume about 95% of those are still alive.

So about 1.4 billion people.

About 22% of which are vegetarians. Equals 313 million people.

No one knows how many musicians there are on earth but lets say that out of 50 people, i know about 5, myself included.

So that brings us to 31 million people. .001% of whom might share my religious convictions. Equals 31,350.

About 11% of that is how many people i can speak with fluently... 3,348.5.

Not counting me, that’s 3,347.5 potential soulmates. Roughly around 0.00004% of the earth’s population. One out of every 25,000 that i meet.

Obviously i can’t measure things like chemistry or the way the color of the sky bounces off their eyes, or the warmth of their voice, or the angle their lips curl at when they laugh, or the way they carry themselves when they think i’m in any potential danger… Or the way they rip my heart out when they realize i’m not who they expected.

But none of that matters because i would have pushed them off the ledge regardless.

So that brings us to 3,346.5.

I wonder what percentage of people are irreplaceable.

The Self-Conscious Photoshop Generation

Do you ever wake up and just hate your eyebrows? They were fine the night before. What could have happened during the last eight hours that made them go off in different directions?

When we lived in Mexico ten years ago, one of the last conversations i had with a friend was her kind of making fun of the way i look.

I never really felt self-conscious before that. I mean, my mom always pointed out my physical flaws when presenting me to her friends. Sometimes older women asked me how a guy like my husband ever even noticed me. But i thought all older women were just mean like that. Embittered by their oldness.

Not so long ago, i was visiting a friend and at some point she said something about physical appearance that sounded passive aggressive to me. I don’t remember what it was exactly- my brain tends to block mean comments from my memories- but it was similar to when someone criticizes chubby people in front of an obviously chubby person…

When i was dating my husband, his mom once told me that she understood if i had depression because i have a lot of freckles.

The offensive part of that comment was that anyone would think i’m that vain. The freckles are the last of my worries.

But admittedly for the last ten years i have felt more self-conscious about how i look. A lot of women use botox or get surgeries. All of that is expensive and there are funner things i’d rather spend my money on.

Anyway, i always wonder how much better people would treat me if i met the definition of gorgeous. It would be harder to read people, i think. Right now several people i know are consistently mean or indifferent to me for no apparent reason. I notice they are friendly to most other people. I can’t help but wonder if part of that can be attributed to looks.

Or maybe i just blame my looks when it is my personality failing me. Because it’s always like a million times harder to change the way i am than the way i look, and i’d rather not have to change myself to win over anyone who doesn’t innately like me.

Which to be honest lately feels like pretty much everyone.

Anyway, within the last twelve hours, i’ve woken up twice trying to scratch off my face. So that’s new.

I think the whole filtered selfie era is bad for people psychologically, creating these unrealistic expectations about how we and others ought to look.

But the animal filters are pretty cute.

When i was doing portrait photography, i was obsessed with presenting the best image of clients. Now i want to show everything as it really is. Crude. Raw. Live. Because life is already beautiful enough. Diversity is beautiful. Scars and tear stains and gray roots.

3-dimensionality is beautiful but when we reduce someone to a flat little screen, we’re taking a whole dimension away from them. People don’t fit in one’s pockets.

I don’t think technology is very far from Star Wars style holograms. But of course, the media isn’t the problem. Even as a hologram i’d probably still worry about symmetrical eyebrows.

I’ll just take cover under a teddy bear filter and hope people think it’s natural.

I Saw The Sign

To leave or not to leave… That is the question.

I have always been the sort of person who freaks out a little when things don’t go as planned. I am not an emotionally stable person, so i try to be as methodical as possible to mitigate overreacting.

Basically i’m like a cat when it comes to change. Hug me at 6 AM. You better not forget to open the curtains. Feed me dinner by 6 PM. Clean my litter box before bed or there will be consequences.

I do love a good adventure, but i have to mentally prepare for it.

I like to read the last page of a book before i buy it, or read a movie synopsis before i go see it.

Some surprises are good, like when my husband does the dishes. But my parents have never tried to visit me without warning. They know i would cry for at least two days straight.

I’ve even thought about preordering my tombstone engraving, just so i can see how it all turns out in the end.

“Here rests Ave, beloved wife, sister, writer.”

Nah, my husband might not say that about me.

Today i was supposed to go to chamber music practice and then have a dinner date with him and go watch a Chinese ballet. You know, the one that’s being advertised all over the place.

But he changed our plans and now we are having dinner at home before the show.

I don’t want to be driving back and forth all afternoon, so i decided not to go to music practice and just stay at work.

Now i just had a work emergency and it was a good thing i was here to take care of it.

It’s funny how something that initially upset me turned out to be for the better.

It makes me wonder if my whole life God has been trying to direct me to better things and i’ve been too stubborn in my life plans.

Maybe i was never meant to be a missionary. Or a minister. Or a photographer, singer, guitarist or dancer. Not even a mother. Or maybe i was and i just missed all the right turns, because i was too focused on the road way farther ahead.

Now i’m stuck in Today world, always waiting for something better, wondering why nothing is how i expected it to be.

I used to read advice online that said the best way to achieve your goals is to stick to them no matter what. “You’ll get there eventually.”

But my life doesn’t seem to align with that trajectory at all, at least not as far as personal happiness is concerned.

It seems that the more i pursue things that once made me happy, the more problems i have in my relationships.

If i try to serve God, soon someone points out what i’m doing wrong. If i try to sing, the classes interfere with work or homelife. If i try to promote my own art projects, come to find out hardly anyone cares. If i try to get pregnant, someone breaks my heart.

It’s my husband. My husband breaks my heart.

And yet, he’s the reason i stayed at work this afternoon and was able to handle the work emergency, to my boss’ relief.

So how do i know the difference between a sign and just circumstance? Like yesterday, when my husband was mad at me and said he was going to hire a prostitute… Was that a sign i should smack him?

My life is confusing. It’s not a journey. It’s not a story. I’m not meant to run away from it. I’m not meant to fastforward it to the good parts. No one really needs me around but no one wants me to leave.

I’m not going anywhere anyways.

On the Superior Wisdom of Squirrels

I dreamt i was tossing and turning violently in bed and could not sleep. Then i awoke and couldn’t perceive my own center of gravity. This isn’t the first time in the recent past that my anxiety has come back to shake me in the middle of the night.

I am for the most part a very good sleeper. It is one of the- or perhaps the only thing- i have always been able to do very well and usually far better than my peers. Dare i even say, i am an exemplary sleeper. Often one with enviable dreams.

I soar through pink and honeydew skies while others dream they toil away at redundant office tasks. I hike through ancient Rome surrounded by wildcats while others dream they forgot to sharpen their pencil before a test. I can even read text in my dreams, which i have heard is very uncommon.

So what is throwing me off my game?

A friend of my husband’s asked us to attend his mother’s funeral about a month ago. That funeral is today. It is my husband’s friend. I am not close to him or his family. I did not know his mother. Literally i never met her. And it is supposed to be a beautiful Saturday. I don’t want to spend it commuting to a funeral and then being surrounded by sad people.

That may sound mean but realistically, i would never ask them to do the same. I may go just to offer moral support to my husband, who is committed to being a supportive friend. But at this point i remain undecided.

About a month ago, when i heard of the unfortunate event, i didn’t think twice about adding it to my calendar. But it was stormy and gray and a funeral seemed very fitting back then.

Today there is sunshine, blue skies, poppies everywhere you look. A funeral seems rather unnatural. Let alone two funerals.

You see, Dear Reader, a terribly elderly sister at our church- whom i hardly knew but thrice- has also gone to sleep in death within the last couple of weeks. And there is another funeral scheduled for next weekend.

I cannot help but wonder what has changed within myself during this last month that all of a sudden i’m too good for funerals. Why was i so readily selfless with my time before as compared to now?

“Wise” King Solomon said: “It is better to go to the house of mourning.” But you have to wonder about the wisdom of a man who compulsively married hundreds of women. I mean, maybe in his case it was better to be at a funeral than at home.

I researched that verse and a couple of articles compared the futility of our lives to that of squirrels:

“After growing for a year or so, it locates a mate. Then it must build a nest or den and care for offspring. If it finds enough berries, nuts, and seeds, the squirrel family may grow plump and have time to enlarge their home. But in just a few years, the animal becomes old and more prone to accident and disease. About age ten it dies. With slight differences between squirrel types, that is its life cycle.

“Most people would not object to that cycle for an animal, and they hardly expect a squirrel to have a thought-out purpose in life. However, the life of many humans does not differ very much from that, does it? […] Before long they are adults, find a mate, and seek a place to live and a means to provide food. If they succeed, they may grow plump and expand their home (nest) in which to raise offspring. But the decades quickly pass, and they grow older. If not before, they may die after 70 or 80 years filled with ‘trouble and hurtful things.’ You might think about these sobering facts the next time you see a squirrel (or other animal you had in mind).”

We live in a haven for oak trees and as a result i must see 1-2 dead squirrels on our roads everyday. Is that all i’m cut out to be? Road fodder for the gods? Do i even amount to that? I mean, i don’t exactly have a mate, at least not in the sense of doing any actual mating, though i have achieved the human equivalent of growing plump.

Is the average middle aged squirrel relatively more self-realized than i am?

I am beginning to think so. For all my Bible reading and trying to be there for others, i have not attained a greater sense of lasting happiness or peace than most people. (Then again, how would i know?)

I am near the end of my ability to give birth. Every TV commercial and family walking down the street is a bitter reminder of this. Even so, i do not regret my early life choices. Sometimes i regret my recent ones.

In any case, Solomon does bring up a good point in Ecclesiastes. Seeing as how we are irrelevant dust in the wind, our problems should never be overbearing.

Part of the reason i cannot sleep is because i am worried about a guitar i custom ordered and which i need to arrive within the next five weeks. I need it for a concert at the community college.

But what happens if i don’t get it? Will the world end? Sure, i’ll be out a lot of money, but not like third world debt amounts.

So you see, i have arrived at this conclusion: you should enjoy life but not to the point that you don’t enjoy it. Get it? Like a squirrel balancing on electric power lines.

If I Could Change the World

This morning i woke up powerful. I was ready to hop out of bed and take on the world. I listened to a Portuguese lesson and was very proud of myself because i was finally going to get to work early.

Yup. I was finally going to do it.

Then it started to rain and next thing you know, i’m in an SUV with my husband, who’s driving the wrong way down a one-way street from the backseat. “Watch out for pedestrians,” i said, “when you hit the corner.”

It was a dream, of course. I had fallen back asleep. The version of myself that is a capable cheerful morning person only exists hypothetically. She would only exist if i got out of bed early.

Then all our east coast customers who call ten times in a row before 8 AM would receive satisfactory service and not be moody all day. They would be nice to everyone around them. It would start a chain reaction.

Come to think of it, that is probably why east coast people have a reputation for being too uptight. They get up too early. Then they get upset at all the other parts of the country where the sun hasn’t risen yet. They hurry us up while we’re still trying to blog in our pjs.

Then there’s this daylight savings thing. Who ever thought it would be a good idea for millions of people to collectively lose one hour of sleep? And why do we do it? Why don’t we rebel against the machine?

It is because we depend on the machine. We do not know how to go back to relying on natural instincts like bears and frogs. And when the machine malfunctions, we all blame the other parts.

If all those customers got better service from me as a salesperson, i could change the world. But i won’t, because it’s cold outside.

Triangles and Sandwiches

Today was kind of a funny day. I ran into my old high school crush and i invited him to lunch with me and my husband and my little teenage girl friend. We were at a church event in the parking lot.

He was a lot quieter than when i last talked to him aone. But that’s understandable- he’s always been on the cautious side of words, and he might have been nervous about finally meeting my husband.

We were pretty close in high school, but a year after his graduation, he eloped with an older woman. Didn’t hear from him for 19 years, until last summer, when they moved back to the west coast.

Early on in the conversation, i noticed my friend’s (a.k.a. soulmate’s) car parked a few feet away. The windows were open. I didn’t see anyone inside and since he is in the habit of leaving his car unlocked, i started to plan what joke i would play on him, all the while my husband and my high school crush got to know each other better.

Finally i announced that i was going to play a joke on my friend, but my husband and little teenage girl friend cautioned me that he was probably asleep inside the car. They were right. Though i really can’t confirm that he was asleep. It is quite possible that he’d been eavesdropping the whole time.

So i scratched the joke. But when i realized that he could probably hear everything we were saying, i wondered at our curious circumstances. There i was with the man i am legally bound to in this life, reconnecting with the first man i ever thought i loved, being listened to by the man i wish i could be with.

The day would have been strange enough with just one or the other, but all three?

My husband was very cordial to my high school crush, and nice to me all day. That was a relief.

But every now and then i see him a little worried about my relationship with my soulmate. Like today after the whole ordeal, when i went up to my friend’s car, knocked, and gave him a granola bar. I don’t think there’s anything to worry about. He has his life/family. I have mine. We are never alone. There is no occasion for anything else to develop.

Then again, life does have a very funny way of bringing people together. But nah.