Tag Archives: anxiety

How Do People Do It

A customer was supposed to call me at 8 AM today, so i dragged myself out of bed and away from my sick cat to come to work early.

But it’s 9:40 now. She never called.

So now i’m stuck here sleepy with no motivation to carry out any of my afternoon tasks, which i only ever finish out of a sense of impending doom, that is to say- the post office closing at 5.

I fear i have failed at being human. If that was my assignment upon my birth- i have entirely failed at it.

My closest friend- cat, really- is sick and she has this look of “help me” in her eyes, “do something,” and after blood work, a biopsy, a cat scan… we are referred to a veterinary dentist who is too busy to respond to our request for an appointment.

My life can’t be normal while her health is in jeopardy. I want to do more for her but i feel so limited.

On top of that, our neighbor decided he did not want to negotiate our keeping the part of our yard he said was his to use, so yesterday he uprooted all our plants there.

My husband had to call our attorney again to get him to replant them in another part of our yard. However they are succulents and they put them in the shade.

I want my plants to survive but i don’t want to nag my husband.

Point being, i feel super vulnerable now, like my world is a snow globe and someone dropped it and now the water is gradually leaking and all the little structures moved from their clay foundations.

Also recently, an acquaintance and i were yelled at by some guy in my neighborhood because we had to knock there as part of our ministry work. He threatened to get violent with us next time we went there, claiming this was the fourth time it had happened.

I kept trying to apologize but his yelling just got louder.

Mind you, it was the first time i had ever been there.

When we had left, i mentioned he looked a lot like a certain famous actor, and pretty much everybody made it about whether or not it was him (mostly making me feel delusional for saying it), and what a great guy the actor probably is, and therefore i must be wrong to think it could be him, and they paid no attention to how the guy had made me feel.

It’s just that… you kind of assume people who send you somewhere or to do something have your back. But sometimes they just don’t care. And i don’t know why i keep expecting them to.

It is as if they are mostly oblivious to my hard work here as far as trying to help others learn about God and the Bible and i feel they treat me like, “What are you still doing here? Didn’t we make it clear you’re not good enough?”

Well i’m probably exaggerating a little and my BPD probably heightens that emotion, but that is how i feel now.

I stopped doing my BPD workbook because it was too painful. It makes you write things out and stuff. The same things over and over again. Then you have to think about them and question your notions.

Those notions never hurt anyone but me and maybe my husband, quite possibly also my mother.

The notion that people tire of me quickly.

The notion that i can’t do anything right.

The notion that people i trust keep important information from me that i deserve to know.

Mostly the notion that i’m in this alone. This whole life thing.

I bought my husband the audio book, “Walking on Eggshells.” I think it has helped his attitude toward me and he’s become more tolerant of my pessimism and more verbal in his commitment to our relationship.

At first, it made me very uncomfortable to hear him say things like, “I will never leave you, i will never abandon you, i won’t let anything bad happen to you.” It can be a bit smothering when you’ve already learned to brave the cold.

But now i try not to make faces when he says that.

He’s probably well-meaning and no one else has ever said stuff like that to me.

Yesterday i showed up at my friend’s vineyard to harvest grapes and it turned out i got the day wrong. She and my husband got a good laugh from that.

It’s a fine line between desperate-for-human-contact and “leave me alone.” Not many could walk it like i do.

So back to this human failure thing. I need to resolve why i feel thus. It’s like i’m an irrelevant observer to the events of this world. My opinions hardly matter beyond our cats. They hardly even matter to me.

I don’t remember if i already wrote about this. A couple friends of mine from our old congregation recently got kicked out of our church. I had studied with one of them. I must have not done a very good job.

So what’s the point? It seems that so far as depending on others goes, they have a tendency to fail me. But others have strong family and friendship ties. So the problem must be me.

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Dear 9-Year Old Me:

Remember all those boxes my parents gave me when they moved?

I am still working through journals and “Most Homework” awards, notes my friends passed me between periods, and sketches of 90s fashion.

I always assumed one day the journals would be super relevant to society as a whole. Like- how cool would it be to read Van Gogh’s childhood journals?

But i’ve had a revelation, which is that i am not Van Gogh. Au contraire. I am devoid of passion. I want little to do with the local fine art community. I very much like both my ears. And while it is true that i might shoot myself should i have access to a gun, i refuse to commit myself to an asylum. Nor do i have a vast array of paintings to leave in my wake.

Also, my poems suck. I’ve gone through about five or six notebooks and only salvaged three poems, all in Spanish.

I came across a theme song my friend, Linda, wrote me in high school, in case i ever got my own show. That was a nice keepsake.

The journal entries are full of puberty-driven drama and a couple traumatic public arguments with my mom, which i should recall but have no working memory of.

In 4th grade, our teacher made us makeshift yearbooks and we all had to write something nice about each other. A lot of kids described me as funny, nice and smart. My crush wrote an especially personal note about my slinky and it recovering from its allergies.

9-year old me had friends, wit, and even an academic rival. She had it all together.

(I have no working memory of that).

In a different journal, one from a few years later, my friend Anita said i was her best friend. She was murdered a week before graduation. What if i hadn’t switched to homeschooling? She might still be alive.

Anita and i met in kindergarten. At some point she approached me and asked if i would be friends with her. She spent a lot of time at our home after that.

We were always the shortest ones in class pictures. But she was a bigger risk-taker, and she had the attitude of an adult pop star when we were only 13.

We used to ditch class and talk about world politics and philosophy. Or her boyfriends. Or my crushes.

But i have blocked a lot of her memories too.

I wish i hadn’t.

So anyway, i peaked at nine years of age, and it’s all been downhill since.

I was exceptionally good at math, even being in the 99th percentile for a couple years. That’s when my older brother, an Economics major, was tutoring me. But then he moved out, chosing his girlfriend over my grades.

I think if he’d kept supporting me, i might have become an astrophysicist. But i was too independent to ask for help.

Still, i can’t help but blame him for my mediocre career. I mean, my academic output was entirely his responsibility.

I often wrote about how much i hated to bother people, how i didn’t feel connected to anyone, how their love felt conditional… A lot of the same stuff i am trying to work through now as symptoms of Borderline Personality, or abandonment anxiety.

At some early point, i gave up trying to depend on friends and family and focused on my relationship with God.

I had a friend, Michelle. I am still friends with her. I kept writing “to” her long after she disappeared to Vegas.

I’ve never shown her all the letters i wrote her. We’re just nominal friends now. Childhood friends. Not adult friends, which i understand is a thing.

I spent a lot of time with Anita, but of course, she died, and with another girl named Brenda, whom i lost touch with after she eloped at sixteen.

Brenda was my neighbor. She was sort of a child-slave for her younger brothers and dad.

Then there was Linda, who wrote me the theme song, but went off the grid when she divorced in our late 20s.

And Nancy, whom i ran into in Dance Club last spring, but am too indecisive about texting because she’s too attached to many old schoolmates.

I do not wish to relive school hierarchies; some kids were nice but i feel indifferent towards most.

There was Sarah, my mental counterpart, who dropped out of school because she got pregnant at 16.

Her parents didn’t like me. But she had a cat and a piano. And a baby, in time.

I guess a lot of my friends either left home at 16, or got murdered. It was kinda the thing to do back then.

I was not a good daughter to my mother. There was a little bit of verbal and physical abuse and my reaction was to spend as much time outdoors as possible.

But i have no working memory of that. It’s all in the shredder now.

I am not sorry, 9-Year Old Me. You saw how our brother walked out the door. I did the best i could with our available emotional resources. I have nothing to apologize for.

Down the Rabbit Hole and Out Again

I relapsed.

I tried to order a substance off the dark net to o.d. and kill myself.

But they ask you so many questions: how old are you, are you mentally ill, have you tried to commit suicide before?

Blahblahblah it’s like- just give it to me already. If i am trying to order this stuff, it’s because i want to die painlessly, not writing a research paper. I don’t want it to be this big ethical debate, neither for me nor anyone else.

I mean, didn’t. I didn’t want it to be an ethical debate. Past tense because i’m not suicidal anymore. That was the other night. Today is this morning. It’s been at least 36 hours and i’m doing great now.

I’m sorry that i made my mom cry.

Though technically she wouldn’t have found out if my husband hadn’t told on me.

I’m not sure why i even told him. I was upset and wanted him to see the consequences of his reactions. Like when i apologize for something and he stays mad at me for hours or years.

Anyway, the substance was too expensive. I don’t want to spend all that money on it and then change my mind and by the time i’m suicidal again, it’s past the expiration date. What if it makes me nauseous? I wouldn’t even be able to post a bad review.

That’d be the worst. For years (1994-2014) i occasionally tried to kill myself by overdosing on over the counter painkillers, eventually mixing them with solvents or alcohol.

Then one day a friend of mine told me her sister committed suicide by taking a bottle of Tylenol. Only she didn’t die right away. Her organs slowly shut down. It took something like three days; it was very painful.

Then there’s the Van Gogh approach. Shoot yourself, walk home, slowly bleed to death. Wait for your artwork to appreciate.

Cross the church address out on the funeral invitations because supposedly God hates you.

Anyway, i wasn’t really going to kill myself. I was going to disappear somewhere and start a new life. Wear colored contacts. Dye my hair black and straighten it. Get a nose job. Change my name.

I was only going to leave a trace of the substance so no one would look for me. They’d all just assume i was dead.

Actually that gives me a great idea for a novel. © Me.

Oh let’s face it. I don’t have the committed passion that is needed to see such a project through. The novel, that is.

The other night may not have counted as a suicide attempt, but i was definitely in crisis. The whole whirling despair is all too familiar to me… the take all or nothing spirit that possesses me and blinds me to reason.

And then my husband came back to talk and he said something like “I love you less.”

And i’m like, “Less than what?!”

After giving him a series of multiple choice answers, he went with, “Less than i thought i would.”

So there you have it. A week shy of our 17th anniversary, and that’s where we’re at.

I ordered him an audio book for people who are in relationships with people who have Borderline Personality Disorder. That’s his anniversary present.

Shh. Don’t tell him. I wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise.

Hope and Memories

Our cat is having a biopsy today.

I hate the idea of leaving her in the hands of what are practically strangers to her.

I know it’s an unreasonable fear. Vets sacrifice a lot of time and money to be licensed to handle other people’s pets. They work with different animals day in and day out for years. I’m sure they don’t take their responsibility lightly.

But it’s 5AM and i haven’t slept since before 4.

I tell myself this is an opportunity to show my faith in God and not let my heart overflow with anxiety. And prayer does help.

But still, i can’t quite sleep.

I think about my friend whose adult son is having open heart surgery in a couple days. She is having family from out of town stay with her and her plumbing just broke down. They haven’t had hot water in three days.

My problems should be manageable by comparison. In comparison, i’ve got it easy.

All i want is to go back to sleep, yet it escapes me.

Our other cat came to console me.

She gave up shortly after.

This is one of the rare occasions when it is more helpful to think of tomorrow than of today.

Tomorrow i have the day off and a friend is supposed to meet me in the morning.

Tomorrow i have a couple errands to run and clothes to pack for our annual convention for our church.

Tomorrow, today’s anguish will be but a silly indicator of my overreactive tendencies.

My parents are moving cities and that is also weighing on my heart. They are ok with it because they’ll save a lot of money, but they’ll be twice as far.

They’ve lived in the same apartment for 45 years.

Our family hung out together there for the last time last Sunday. We played music and sang. My mom made her famous potato burritos.

I’m so attached to that place. Growing up, the door was bright blue. Birds of Paradise lined the entrance. And a cat always waited for me.

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.

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.

Growing Up George: Ch. 5 The Kid’s Menu

After the funeral, my uncle Jorge, whom apparently I had been named after, invited me to dinner at Estafano’s, the same spaghetti joint we’d gone to when I was a kid. I followed his Porsche into the city, texting Aunt Matty to meet us there. But I already knew she didn’t have data on her phone.

The waitress sat us in the patio and handed me a kid’s menu along with the regular one. My uncle asked if I’d gotten into the team. I had. He asked if I had a girlfriend. I hadn’t. What my plans were for college. The waitress brought over my scallop appetizers and I ordered tilapia. But suddenly I didn’t feel like eating.

“I’m just concentrating on the day-to-day stuff I got going on, you know. Not falling behind. Staying off drugs, outta gangs, that sort of thing. Takes up a lot of energy.”

“I’m not pressuring you, but I know kids just like you who’ve graduated from that same school who are making over two hundred ‘k’ per year. You just gotta get into the right schools. The right mentality.”

You mean the mentality where you ignore your nephew for years at a time and then try to make up for it with one meal? No birthdays, no Christmas, no nothing. Just be this figure on paper who shows up when his schedule allows him.

“Nah, I pass.”

“George, I’ve looked at your grades. You don’t have to settle. With the right connection, you can get into Princeton or Yale.”

I shook my head violently. “What do you think I wanna be? Some hot shot lawyer?”

My uncle bowed his head down but I didn’t pause. “Since I was twelve I’ve been fixing Tía Matty’s car. In fact I already have a job. That’s my future you’re asking me about. The stars already lined up for me. And you know what, I’m glad you weren’t around to help all these years, cause if you were, I might’ve never learned to do even that. I might be helpless relying on some letter of recommendation from some rich condescending sponsor I’ve only met once or twice. Not unlike yourself.”

I regretted the words darting out of my mouth but not in time to stop myself.

The waitress made her usual round. “Can I get you anything?”

“I WANT MORE LEMONADE!” I slammed my glass on the table not letting my eyes stray from my uncle’s.

He laughed. “I’m sorry, Miss. My nephew’s very passionate about lemonade.”

I turned to look at the waitress, all the blood rushing to my face.

“Oh man. I’m so- I’m so-” I hadn’t stuttered in ages.

“I’ll be right back.” The waitress turned around and left.

“Sorry!” The words finally made it out of my mouth. I stood there looking up at the sky, for what felt like forever, clenching my fists, wondering why the hell God didn’t just put me out of my misery.

Yes, I had made varsity. But now I wasn’t going to have time to work at the shop. I was never going to afford my own car, much less fucking college. My life would start eventually when I’d get a girl- Cindy- pregnant and her parents would force her to marry me. Then I’d be working 12 or 16 hour days, come home, yell at her “where’s my dinner,” have a couple beers and be too tired to have sex. She’d yell at me for never helping with the kids- we’d have five or six by then- and I’d turn the volume up on the soccer game on T.V. Pure bliss.

I sat back down and put my head into my arms. “At least I’ll be there. They’ll see me and know what I look like. They’ll ask me stupid questions like how come birds fly and what happens to light after you turn the switch off. I’ll make up the best answers any dad’s ever come up with. I’ll be a good dad. And when they go off to college I’ll take my wife to Europe and all that shit. And no stranger’s gonna come patronize them, cause they’ll be my kids, not yours or welfare’s or no one else’s.”

My uncle put his arm on my shoulder and didn’t say anything. I just sat there, head down, overcome by something utterly silent and much more powerful than me, not unlike tears.

Don’t Stress Out.

“Don’t stress out,” he said, as he walked out the door to go to work.

“I’m moving today and I have a job interview. Those are a couple of the most stressful things known to man!”

Fortunately, I an not a man.

I am a woman.

A beautiful woman.

An intelligent woman.

A woman who knows how to handle these things without freaking out, eating everything in the fridge, playing with her cats for two straight hours instead of preparing

A woman who has learned the secret of procrastination…

Ah, yes, a fine woman.

That’s me.

A woman who doesn’t burn her clothes when she irons them because her wardrobe consists of mostly clothes she does not need to iron.

A wise woman who chose a good husband who does all the actual labor behind moving homes for her.

…so that she can then spend months trying to figure out where everything is…

Because that’s something she likes to do!

A unique woman, indeed.

‘:’

Perhaps I should shower now.

The interview is in an hour.

I don’t know what to wear yet. I think my black dress. Yes, the black dress.

Black dress to the rescue.

With a gray blazer.

Black pumps.

Oh! whoops- I still have to do my nails.

Breakfast? I can’t decide.

What if it upsets my stomach?

I should probably eat something.

Just to calm my nerves.

In case I get nervous.

I feel fine.

Really.

And for the record, I only played with one of my cats for an hour. Not two.

I should really go do my nails.

“Don’t stress out,” he said, as he walked out the door…

What a way to jinx it.