falling flat

Some weeks just suck. Nothing goes your way. Shit comes flying from all sides.  You just can’t win.  You hold on and do better come Monday.

For me, my week started with some unbelievable bullshit. Which was humans behaving badly during a time when everyone is behaving badly.  It set the tone for a lot of things…1) me being thrown under the bus (this was a theme); 2) me pushing back; 3) me having way too much to do in really shitty circumstances; and 5) my body caving on me.

It’s hard to deal with these intense, emotionally draining things even when you’re well and not feeling like you’re gonna die.  Unfortunately, for me, my body was raising holy Hell and I was in extreme pain and didn’t feel like I could call out.  Not this week.  I should have, but given the fires–that would have been even worse for me.  So, between running to the bathroom every 20 minutes, I made it through my week.

Things worked out as they usually do.  We lost a candidate, but he proved to be an asshole anyway.  People got mad, but it just gives me a chance to do my thing.  People were unprofessional and unreliable–but it let me earn my reputation.  And I saved our asses yet again.  I beat goal.  I did a lot.  But once again, I was stymied by all the damn paperwork.  And once again–all my ideas kept bubbling up–and once again, I was the one being asked to fix it all.

So, while there were some victories this week, I felt like an utter failure today.  I hadn’t delivered in the ways I normally do.  And that sucks.  I’m capable of more, but I am only one person with only so much time–and I was literally in the worst pain I’ve been in since losing my gall bladder.

I’ve been under tremendous stress for months now.  I haven’t really gotten a true break since the move, and I’ve been so sick this year.  The stress of all of it is getting to me.  Plowing through and willing my way through it by force of stubbornness is dumb and doesn’t fix anything.  My ideas are great and will help me, but take time to set in motion–that I don’t have with all the rest of it.  The emotional strain of the entire world has been weighing on me.  The anger, the negativity, the sadness–it’s getting to me.  And my normal self-care has been off.  My diet’s been off.  My sleep? Off.

This week, I was very aware of it–but unable to do anything about it except try to keep up.  It was so frustrating and that created more stress.  It did not help that Fogg has been having behavioral issues, not eating great, and having high test results.  It doesn’t help that I don’t trust her vet.  And it doesn’t help that Amazon literally fucked me over today when it comes to my ability to make sure she’s okay.  It’ll get fixed.  I know all of that, but the extra work to get there is a bit too much right now.  Mostly because I just have nothing left.

One thing is just so clear–I’ve got to limit the negativity right now.  I’m lucky that my coworkers are also great friends and that I have a couple people I can talk to about stuff–who get me–but the weight of other friendships that have drifted or are basically done often overshadow it and are burdens.  I’m real clear that I’ve got to take care of this body–because it is screaming for love right now and I haven’t been this sick in years.  But I also know how much body and mind are intertwined.  So, I’m recommitting this weekend to a few things…eating how I should.  Doing the things that healed my body before.  And writing regularly.  I was going to post on Monday, but it never got done.  I did most of it–but–it’ll be late and it was time oriented–but who cares?  I’m forgiving myself for failing.

One good thing about this week was that I found myself cutting myself some slack, and instead of making promises that would cost too much–I told the truth to my clients.  “I’ve had a crazy day, and I’m not going to get this to you for a day or two.  I want it to be as thorough as it normally is–but that’s not possible.  Here’s what I can give you…”

That was big.  For me to admit I wasn’t superwoman in a professional setting was like Chief Cheeto admitting he has a crappy toupee.

I was proud of myself, but also pissed that I wasn’t actually superhuman.

For me, the physical stuff is definitely linked to both that feeling and that too much.  So, I’m thinking about taking some time this weekend to work on those things that will help.  I don’t want to work on the weekend, but I never have time during the week and at least I will be choosing it rather than running on this damn neverending torture mill.

My normal is to try to make big change all at once.  But not this time.  This time…I’m just going to put my shit together for work and eat a bland diet this weekend till my body calms down.  Drink some water.  Sleep.  Take a few baths.  Hug my cats.  Not worry about how clean the kitchen is.  Not care about the damn boxes.  Just sit on my butt and let myself recover.  And damn, I may even take a vacation soon.  Because it’s time I did that. A real damn vacation. The world will not fall apart if I disappear and do right by me.

extreme self-care

I rely heavily on social networks for news. Facebook has, actually–in recent years–been a pretty alright place to do that.  It’s usually been mostly free of shite.  I worked hard to make it like that, too…unfriending and filtering the hell out of nearly everything.

With Twitter, I’ve been on perma-private for a long time now.  I rarely follow new people and am very selective about who I let in.  But since the election, it’s been a lot like drinking from a firehose.  A near-constant stream of negativity, hate, and unbelievable bullshit.  My friends–good people–retweeting or reacting–to stuff that just suffocates the soul.

I’ve done pretty good–dealing with it all.  I took breaks here and there.  I limited my time.  I unfollowed a few people.

I was really, really upset today.  But I watched us all fight.  I mentioned on Twitter it was a lot like watching a Mama protect her child.  And the ACLU got a temporary fix.  But of course, it was all a distraction from the other outrage that he didn’t want us to see.

I decided to log off–get away–and watch some Rachael Ray.  I always fall asleep during these things, and for the first time in months, I had a nightmare that was vaguely a Mama dream.  Only I woke up in tears–gasping.  I’m guessing my sleep apnea is a thing again.  I had the worst heartburn, but my heart had been ripped to shreds.

I dreamt I was on a bus and that the driver was not right in the head and decided to block the intersection.  Then he turned the corner (this part was confusing and strange) and picked up a bunch of passengers–all hungry children–in this deserted playground.  Instead of staying on the bus, I got off because it was close to where I was going.  I was going home.

I got off the bus and started walking through backyards.  This was familiar to me as it was something I often did when I took the bus, to get home.  It was dark, though, and there were bodies buried under the grass.  And  I was in heels, carrying a suitcase.

I was going home.  I’ve had variations of this dream a few times, but usually it stops after I see home.  And usually, I just get to home and see it has changed and I wake up.

This time, my home–the one I grew up in with my mother was part of this large prison-like row of townhomes.  But I just knew which one was mine.  But all of them had different numbers I didn’t recognize.  And my key didn’t work.  And there was a window like when you go to buy a ticket for something.  With a woman staffing it.  And I told her I needed to get into my home.  3422.  She told me I needed a badge and a card…that a key wasn’t enough.  That I’d need to prove I belonged there.  There was wire fencing surrounding the rows of homes.  I got my badge, read the number, and realized I was given access to the wrong home.  That they had given me my neighbor’s home.  And I was so devastated by that.  There was a little island of grass and a bench where two fat men were sitting.  I was clearly upset, so they started negging at me–asking me about my body–telling me they were going to hurt me.  And I got out this big metal club and started beating them back–crying, and screaming, “You will stop!”

I woke up in an adrenaline panic.  Unable to really breathe.  Crying.  Mumbling.  Terrified, but gutted in the most unimaginably sad way.  That idea of being homeless and attacked during my most vulnerable.  Well, it was quite clear why I was dreaming this.

I am sitting here alone now, in need of a good cry and lots of hugs.  As an HSP, I absorb things.  As a creative person, I transport myself to places and can literally put myself in someone’s shoes.

That is what this dream was, and I’m honestly still beside myself.  Still wishing someone would just fucking hug me.  But I might as well live alone in that respect.

It made me realize how much I’m absorbing now and how much my mental health is at risk.  So, as much as I want to be informed and as much as I want to support my friends, I have just got to be brutal about limiting my time online.  I can’t have these dreams too often.  They hurt too much.

thank you.

Because it needs to be said.

Today, a friend of mine asked us to tell her two good things that happened to us this week.  She needed to hear good news to keep herself going.

I shared far more than that and could have kept going.  When the world is falling apart, it’s easy to forget this is a beautiful life.

Thank you, friends, for helping me remember as you cope too.

We matter. We can support one another. We can get through this together.

###

A few minutes ago, I realized I’ve been witness to, and accidentally part of, two police standoffs in the last three years. Also three big apartment fires.  These things happened around me in an instant, with no real warning, for no real reason except luck and chance.

It’s so easy to forget how quickly your life can change.  It’s so easy to take your safety and your happiness for granted.  To forget we all have expiration dates.

Each time I’ve ever been in urgent, scary situations, the helpers in our community kept me safe and helped me heal.  Whether it was law enforcement, counselors, servants of faith, or medical professionals–or even just an average man trying to make his way home.  Our country has so many problems–and none of the systems we have are perfect.  There are lots of things to work on, for sure.

But i am forever grateful for those who run towards the hurt and suffering during times of fear and urgency. We need you more than ever.

###

And because of what happened today–on this of all days–I want to say thank you to immigrants I’ve known in my life–and people who have supported these populations.

To my friends in the MNM program who fight tirelessly to change the world, every single day–who did so before there was a Trump in office–thank you for being constant inspirations to me–for challenging me and helping me fine-tune my vision for being an activist and advocate.

To my teachers in the program–thank you for showing me anything is possible.  Thank you for living lives of service and helping create a generation of doers.

Thank you to my Papa–who helped me value hard work and humility. Who valued accountability and overcame alcoholism. Who bought a house after losing a farm–through rough daily physical labor that would have broken a man twice his size.

Thank you to the men and women who were my neighbors in Westwood growing up. Who filled the air with spices and music. Who gave me ways to escape.  Who opened up the world to me as a magical place and helped me transcend a childhood of poverty and addiction.

Thank you to Ali and Abraham who owned the small corner store near my home off and on throughout my childhood–who helped my family eat when we were starving.  For their extreme kindness and how they asked me how my mother was when she was dying.

Thank you to Sue who bought the store off and on when Ali and Abraham fell on hard times–and did the same.

Thank you to Fatima & Sam, my next door neighbors who escaped persecution in Lebanon and took care of me when my mother couldn’t.  To Fatima who made me the most amazing food, and Sam who took nails out of my feet when I ran barefoot at night.

To Moussa, Tareg, and Iman–my beautiful little brothers for the four years we shared West Ohio Avenue.

To Moussa, who went to jail for being a terrorist–I understand and will always love you.  You were always so angry and smart.  To Tareg who grew up to be the best Daddy–who was always so sensitive–thank you for being a vulnerable man with such a big heart.  To Iman–the baby and the little boy I doted on like my own–thank you for our adventures and for letting me show you what it was like to fly.

To Zeyneb–who taught me the meaning of quiet strength, courage, and dignity.  I will never forget how hard you tried.

To Dr. Mahapatro who was always covered in chalk, hair askew, and so excited to share your passion for organic chemistry–which was scary as Hell and completely intimidating to me.  When your colleague made me feel like I wasn’t good enough–like I was stupid–you showed me compassion and helped me keep going.  You made organic chemistry comprehensible to this girl who essentially spoke a different language–even though you struggled to communicate.

To Yuko who was brave enough to come to me in the writing center every single week for three years to become a better writer.  You taught me so much about grace and persistence–and about what a privilege it is to be a teacher.

To the lost boy who worked in the cafe at my work, who taught me how to make my favorite soup–who showed up each day with a smile on his face and so much love–thank you for talking to me during such dark days for our country–when people were mean to you because you were different and the world was now such a dark place.  Thank you for your love and your humanity–for showing me what resilience actually means.

To the friend who helped me pay my rent once when I lost my job with no warning–no questions asked–simply because you knew what it was like and someone had helped your father once–thank you for your generous soul.  I try to pay it forward every day.

To the beautiful children I taught briefly in Houston, who shared their candies and their limes and opened up to me like I was family–thank you for helping me be true to myself and for giving me reasons to transform.

To the doctors who saved my life when i was too stubborn to seek care and made sure my surgery was expertly executed and that I was comfortable–you will never know how grateful I am.

To the countless student doctors and assistants and other medical personnel who assisted my mother’s surgeon when she had open heart surgery?  I will forever love you and am incredibly grateful that you were there for her.

To the man who brought me my pizza last night–hot, perfect, and with such care–at almost midnight–thank you for your smile and pride in bringing me my dinner.  You warmed my heart on a really tough day.

To the gardeners and cleaning crews who keep my apartment complex clean and beautiful, even when people are mean and gross–thank you for your thoughtful attention and consistently honest hard work.

To the countless others who i see, and so many more who I probably never know help me–all those people in this world responsible for the things I rely on to live and be comforted–for countless things I may never even realize–thank you, and I’m sorry.

I honestly could go on and on and on.

I may not know your names.  I may not see your faces every day.  But I know the world is better for you.

I care about you. I see that you are more than some religion or nationality or gender or race or dollar sign.  I see your joy.  I see your humanity.  I see your pride and your hard work.  I see how hard this world is, and I see you navigate it with grace.  I see your love for your families and your diligence in seeking good lives.  I wish nothing except the best for you, and I will fight for you.

You are not alone.

Thank you all for helping me have this good life.

 

spidey sense

I was wrapping up work, after a long week.  I was just about to close my laptop when I heard what was unmistakably a gunshot within a block of our apartment.  (It’s amazing how my Westwood spidey sense is instantly activated).  There were some other loud noises, then the sound of cop radios, and helicopters overhead.  I looked to see if I could see anything, but couldn’t.  Then I called my roommate, who is at work in Sunnyvale, to let him know to be careful.  Something was going on.

He looked on Twitter and Nextdoor and discovered this:

Apparently, some bank robber was at large and the helicopters were advising us all to stay inside. 7th and 8th were shut down.  We live between 8th and 9th. I checked on my other roommate, and she had heard it all too.

We’re safe, right now–just freaked out.  Hoping the police officers and our neighbors stay safe as well.

a daily practice

For most of my life, I’ve been a big believer in words. In our abilities to create our realities with the words we use. It’s why I’m very careful about how I speak and the words I use.

For most of my life, the last thing I said to my mother every night was, “Goodnight. I love you.” We always had this understanding that life was short. I never go to bed mad at anyone. It’s one of my few hard rules in life.

So many of my friends are dealing with a lot right now. We all get busy. We all forget to check-in. Sometimes, we just don’t talk about the stuff that hurts–because talking can hurt too. The world is tough right now and so much feels so unloving.

I’m going to start randomly, but regularly, posting here…whenever the mood strikes. Every day, I’m going to share this thought, or some variation, with someone somewhere. Because I mean it. And even if I haven’t talked to you recently, know that it’s true. Always.

Goodnight. I love you. You matter. I see you. I forgive you. I’m sorry. I’m here.