I get bad, too

Existential dread: The feeling you get in the car, when it’s just you and you’re using your muscle memory as autopilot, and suddenly the world doesn’t make sense.

Of course, most days it makes perfect sense. I am Heather. That is my name; no question. I love keeping fish as a hobby. I do what I do because it comes natural and because the world is the way it is. But why is it?? Why is the sky blue? Why is my hair that dirty blonde that shines golden in the sun? I get bad about this, sometimes.

People like to presume I’m in the prime of my life. I’m in my mid-twenties with a career/degree oriented job for a really well regarded university. I travel and gives talks. I’m trim and in good physical health. I have so much going for me. On weekends, when I’m all alone…I get bad, though. I get real bad. I think we all do. I know I do.

Sometimes I become listless and wonder over my purpose. Another animal dies and I can only think to replace it. To keep on the way I’ve been. The way I know to live. My identity is wrapped up in husbandry. I look after animals and that is most of what I am. However, when energy drains of my body and I stop and my mind is dizzy, I question it. I question every detail of my life and there isn’t an answer. Things just are, and you can ask why and still they remain. I fear death and I cling to the fear of never accomplishing enough before I go. I want to be remembered for my influence and not my woes.

Humans invent religion and all sorts of ideas to fill this void that comes up when we cease to move and act. The existential dread is why we march on. To forget.  To swat away that invitation to the abyss. The strain and the rift. There’s so much at stake and so much to lose.

I know you get bad. I get bad, too.

 

Stormy night

Spring has arrived, and as they say, April showers have begun to buffet the Midwest. It is thundering now, and I can hear the sudden downpour.  It is a time of contemplation.  It is a time of meditation and purging and cleansing…

It is time to write again.

It struck me that I haven’t written in months, yet my mind has been many places worth writing about.  Physically, even, I’ve been many places. My life as a guest speaker in the aquarium club circuit has taken off, and so I’ve been traveling. Not to terribly exotic places, yet, but even engagements around the state have me on the go enough to be exhausted.  So much to see and to do; always. I’m…terribly exhausted, in general.  On top of my usual mental woes, I’ve discovered a nasty OCD habit worsening.  Now, I look at my food wistfully, as if it weren’t actually in front of me and ready to consume. As if it were in the pages of some 50’s cookbook I scanned once upon a time. There’s this mental block, and I struggle to get around it to stay alive at times.  Which is highly detrimental. I require my energy reserves now more than ever.  The brain can be a fickle thing.

It strikes me in my quest for human contact, a particular thought this evening: I am a stubborn woman.  I am incredibly stubborn.  I know I should look after my basic needs above all else, yet here I am, all ambitious and junk.  Choking on an oreo cookie, because the nerves have gotten to me. I feel like the walls are closing in and I’m running on fumes, at times.  At other times, I feel so happy and accomplished and fulfilled.  That is not now.  Right now, like any other stormy night, I am lonely.  I’ve a trusty cat companion, who provides sweet kisses and not-so-sweet mischief.  But I’m stubborn, and stubborn women rarely submit to men.  It’s a shame, too.  Because I really thought I liked men.  It is a manly thing to be dominant, and I refuse to submit to even my own physical limitations.  So why would I submit for a lover??  I won’t, though nature almost dictates I must.  Human nature cannot evolve fast enough…Not on this night, and probably not ever.

I ponder what my life will be one day. I never imagined it would be what it is now.  For instance, I never thought such basic things like eating would be a challenge or that I would be on a wait-list for anxiety treatment while simultaneously booking talks and trips.  It may be telling, however, that I often think I wouldn’t be alive if humans weren’t so prone to saving their weak.  I think my body is frail, and my genetics not the best. Though I consider myself weak in many regards, I am not the slightest bit reserved in my convictions.  This is apparent. There was a time I might’ve changed myself for a man, but I didn’t. Now I know I couldn’t.  Though women being strong willed and empowered is encouraged nowadays, it still doesn’t solve a residual dominance men expect to exert. They subconsciously desire dutiful women who look pretty for them and bare children. The reality may be that I scare men off with my convictions and stubbornness without even trying. If that’s the case, I suppose I could imagine more cats in my future….

Stubbornness will be the death of me.

 

 

 

 

Adrift

The menagerie has moved.  It has been a bumpy ride for months; my graduation, losing two jobs and gaining one, the presidential election. It is December now and the year is coming to a close… I can’t remember the last time I’ve written.  It doesn’t matter anyways.

I feel compelled to write.

I work in another college town now; a more urban one. I pass by countless faces, and so many of them are full of life.  I don’t know anyone any more.  I suppose that is what happens when you move away. Some days that gets me down- to know I’m so close to human beings but yet so far.  I walk perhaps a mile or two a day to get free parking, and I see so many faces along the way.

But my own face…I’ve lost the last of my youthful plumpness.  It’s gone of my face entirely now. My cheek bones; prominent.  My neck is slender.  My body has been sculpted by years of adult strife and learning curves.  It is not lost on my mind that I’ve become prime real estate to men looking to settle down.  In any other era, I might have been married off at my age and in my state.  I’m 24.  Perhaps, I’ve reached the peak of my attractiveness.  It’s a precarious time to be alive.  At once, I want to be alone and free but also internally long for belonging and a family of my own.  I’ve become very split and indecisive.  Suitors have presented themselves and I’ve turned so many down.

So it is striking that I have the audacity to feel wronged in life.  To feel….cast aside and overlooked.  I do, and I can’t shake it.

As a child, I was very serious.  Very bossy.  I had so few friends.  That carries into my life today.  I don’t know who my truest friends are.  I’m still what some may call “uptight”…My definition of fun, though, simply differs from that of so many.  I struggle to reconcile those differences as I wish to connect.  Simultaneously, I feel myself building a wall. I feel I am putting on a show.  A failed show, which knows and is painfully self-aware and that is why it fails.  I entertain company from time to time, and think what a terrible bore I must be to them…lost in my own world.  I look away.  My mind wanders. I push them away.

Sometimes, as I go through trying to fulfill work, personal, and family goals, I feel distinctly adrift.  I feel like my sense of well being hinges on whichever way the wind blows.  I come home, exhausted, achy, sore.  I get messages from men and it feels so meaningless.  I find myself ignoring them.  Thinking, if I please everyone, I displease myself.

The secret is, I want to make so many people happy.  I want to be that girl to that boy, and it amplifies 10x.  But it is my duty, to myself and to the world, to choose only one to love. That is an insanely impossible task.

So I drive home, through the back roads.  The headlights of oncoming traffic flash by, and light my face.  I instantly tear up, thinking of what I am not and what I will never be.  I feel adrift in an emotional sea.

 

Attention to Detail

It’s quiet now, I think.  I’ve dimmed the lights and drawn my breath.

A creaking rodent wheel sings in the night.  The bubbling of fish tanks serves as tempo.  It’s a concert; a symphony, but it’s all white noise to me.

The mind, like the animal house, is never truly quiet.  It, too, is often just unintelligible jargon.  But when it’s coherent, it stings.  It is searing in its clarity and punishing notions, just as…after a while, the sound of the rodent wheel grows irritating.  Today is the passing of that while.  Today, my mind is restless with the irritations that have plagued it far too long.

I’m sad now.  I’m sad and angry and aware.  The attention, the analysis…the core functions of the thinking brain have betrayed me.  I’m so upset.  I’m growing more upset by the minute.

Why is this?

I’ve lingered over details. I’ve replayed every word.  I’ve used the best computing device I’ve got, but I’ve been unable to prevent the inevitable.  I know why this is.  I’ve thought far too much.  But then there I go, thinking….The feedback loop just pushes me deeper and deeper into distress.

I want to stop.  I think to stop and then those thoughts intensify.  STOP.  STOP. BREATHE. BREATHE.  STOP.  STOP BREATHE.  STOP BREATHING.

That thought trail is unsettling and I do ground myself.  Life is a weird thing.  When you’re estranged and alone and your thoughts isolate you and you can’t trust yourself….that is the hardest path in life to walk.  I’ve walked it all along and wondered what purpose it must serve.  Why do I over-analyze?  Why do I dwell and prove detriment to my own progress in life?  Why?  WHY. WHY. THINK. THINK. WHY. WHY THINK.  WHY ARE YOU THINKING.

I’ve this unappealing fixation on details.  I know this.  I thought I had this figured.  Yet, in the night it stalks me.  I personify it as the enemy.  And I as not it.

Foolish, I think.  This demon and I are the same.  I’m it.  There’s simply nothing else to blame.

What is significant in this moment is that I know quite intimately that my struggle with the demon isn’t over.  In the quiet, the mind narrates. The inner monologue is saying things constantly.  It’s grabbing at the reins and when it pulls me in it rides me to utter exhaustion.  It’s insanity.  It’s what I am vs. what I want to be.

I used to take pride in my attention to detail.  I could pick the tiniest spiral shell from a bed of clam husks on any beach day.  I’d squint and analyze and process and find my prize.  In adulthood, it has become my weakness.  My focus is shot and I’m finding not prizes but reasons to worry and stress and attack myself.  Ok, and sometimes prizes such as the single wiggling fish from a dish of detritus.  I can’t gut the redeeming from the trapping of a quality.  I take it all and I’ve really no choice.

 

The question becomes.  Can I find beauty in this?  Can I exploit the strengths and embrace the weakness?

Not with the strangers I dress up as my kin.

Oh mind.  What a predicament within.

I’ve got a Migraine

The entire day has plagued me with this troubling pain just behind my temples.  I think I’ve been staring at screens far too long; the back-lit kind with the pixels.  My work at the library demands high attention to pixels as I carefully photoshop the bad spots on images.  Five hours straight of that and two days in a row ought to explain the pain that is the migraine.  However, I’m not convinced.  I haven’t felt myself in quite some time now.

Friday is a glorious weekday in that I get paid.  I almost immediately have errands to attend to at week’s end, and this week proved no different.  So I set to work picking up some necessities after that library gig which left me with a terrible migraine was through.  I wandered around a pet store and a specialty grocer and the supermarket in total.  I had ensured there was food in my belly beforehand, and as I walked down aisle after aisle of delectable food items I was struck by just how much I didn’t care.  I looked at the scrumptious things before me and thought of my budget and then thought of my needs and concluded I didn’t know what I was doing.  So I wandered aimlessly a while more.  I felt on the verge of tears, flooded by memories of my friend and I as I was.  There were couples picking out cheese at the dairy counter and grabbing alcoholic beverages for the weekend.  I couldn’t stand it.  I felt so sad, because I’ve not had that true couple experience in years.  And what I might have considered couple behavior was always a lie.  So naturally I blamed my apparent inferiority and tried to move on and make some good of the effort I expended to get to the store.  I set my mind to a few projects.  No one likes a hopeless girl.

It hardly helps any that I tried to have a casual sexual encounter just before this.  I like to think fuck buddies can be a viable thing, but more and more I think it’s just the lying cherry on top of the sundae of lies.  It didn’t go as planned and the guy bailed as he always does.  Leaving me for better things; things that suit him more.  I can hardly blame him.

I want to believe it is the migraine that’s getting to me.  I don’t like to throw pity parties where the cake is a lie. I’m doing just fine.

Yes.

I’ve just got a migraine. It’ll go away in time.

Hollow as the Autumn Evening

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Where were we?

Ah, yes, we last reported in early spring.  Alas, spring has sprung past.  Summer flew by, and I never took a moment to write.  Now that autumn is beckoning once more, I find myself compelled to return.  My heart was singing such a joyful tune all of those pages ago in the things I thought but never wrote.  I thought I was in love.  Fast forward to this moment, and I’ve spent the better part of my evening arguing with figments of digital beings; the whims and opinions of those who do not matter and those who are not here.  I’m bitter now.  I grow more bitter and unhappy with each passing day of starvation both physical and emotional.  I feel a husk of what I once was, like the corn fields shriveling at the first frost, having dropped their fruits long ago.  The flame inside me stirs only for controversy and for burning bridges.  It’s all consuming and it wants to eat up everything that no longer matters.  It wants to eat my soul.

Admittedly, my faith in humanity has taken a dip in recent months.  The nightmare began with the news of anti-abortionists and their found footage.  This so-called truth appeased those who wanted to hear the sins of women holding the reigns of their sexuality, and women specifically who “murder children.”  I saw little merit in the accusations.  My best friend had heard what he wanted to hear, because it aligned with his understanding.  His understanding which is so opposite to my own.  I cringe now, remembering all at once the blissful moments which have become tarnished by the flickering flames.  It wants to eat those, too.  It wants to eat my memories.

Now I lie awake at night, uncomfortable and unhappy.  It has been hours since anyone reached out to me.  My beloved cat has napped the night away, his fur fluffed in semi-sickly fashion.  I’m tired too, but I cannot sleep and it haunts me.  I’m burning up inside.  There are but ashes left for my academics and my animals and myself.  I want to eat something warm and buttery and feel the warmth of my mother’s touch and reassurance as I sob into my leftovers.  I want to be whole again.  I want to feel fulfilled.  As time has lurched forward, I realize I’m truly alone.  I have come further and further to the conclusion that my life is insignificant.  Of course it is; we’re all insignificant.  We’re all replaceable, our mothers just don’t want to say that because firstly, they truly don’t, and secondly, it’s a fact of life that can destroy all will to survive.  I know at this hour, as the flames hunger for more, I wonder what more I can give.  I wonder when I pass what it will have mattered to him or to anyone or anything.  Eons from now, individuals become specs and nothingness.  Tomorrow, I  have to ground myself and rebuild from the ashes and rise again as the phoenix of mythology.  Perhaps it belongs in myth, that grand rebirthing bird I scarcely relate to.  Maybe I cannot do this.  Alas, the alternative makes little sense either.  I can only lurch forward as time surely does.  I can only meagerly attempt to put out the flames that want to take my tomorrow, too.  Lest they do.

Remember.  I once saw a future in you.

Challenging Perspective, Optimism, and the Human Mind

I was having a glorious night to myself, I thought.  I put on some music that made me feel pumped up.  I’m surrounded by all these wonderful things and animals, and I can dance this party all night.  I need no partner and I will tell you repeatedly there is always wonder to be found.  There is also a treacherous pitfall around those wonders.  Because in a split second, I tumbled when my perspective flipped on me.  It’s so strange to see this take place, as you sit and in mere moments the shade and tint to your body scales down and inverts on itself.  I think I just felt the slightest element push me from feeling elated in my solitude to depressed in my loneliness.  It was the fastest shift, like a chameleon blending to it’s surroundings.  I was fed a new perspective without realizing; I told myself in someone else’s words that I was ignorant to parade around my home in happiness for my freedom.  I felt sudden loss as to why I could possibly accept anything less than the company of friends and other humans on a Friday night.  Why am I like this?  What is wrong with you, Heather?

This is an absurd transition, no doubt, but one that compels me to write because I analyze it in real time.  Despite knowing why I’m feeling or thinking these things, it doesn’t stop me from doing it.  What does this knowledge do but trample on my self-esteem and well-being?  So strange.  I find it so strange that one can be a dual optimist and pessimist.  I change as the moment suits, but this did not suit me.  Perhaps it suited my survival.  Perhaps I’m built to care what others think or that others are not with me.  I can scarcely think of any other explanation at this hour.  However, I quickly shut off the music and set myself to brood.  Maybe it’s hormones, but something trashed my mood.

What is perhaps worse about the human mind here, or more specifically my mind, is that I know it is all preventable grief.  I know it is my actions that put me here, unhappily.  My cat begins to chatter.  He wants me to get over it and give him attention, no doubt.  And why don’t I?  Why don’t I stop being ridiculous and anti-social.  There is not a person on the planet who wouldn’t care to be in my company if I understood the wants and needs of someone not plagued in thought.  I can be a real downer if I allow it, and I can see from all perspectives at once; his, hers, and mine.  Perhaps I will turn on  the music again and enjoy the company that is me.  If I could muster it once with glee, it can happen again.  It simply must be.