“Let’s Be Brave and Search Alone-Together”: Identity Scavenger Hunt Questions 1 – 4

You know how sometimes you meet someone and you’re just like “Yeah. Yeah you’re cool. I like you.” And then because of the Wonderful World of Facebook, you are able to connect and see more of that person and how their brain works and be like “Yeah. Yeah you’re incredibly AWESOME. Let’s be buddies because I think our brains are riding some of the same waves and I dig it. And you.”  Well, one such fantastic person I know, Tia, has started a tumblr (inspired by a production being put on by a local theatre company) encouraging folks to go on an Identity Scavenger Hunt.  And in her rallying cry of “let’s be brave and search alone-together” (which I love love love love) – I’m all in.  And I encourage you to play along as well!

Over the next 30 days or so, Tia will be posting a question or two a day from the famous Proust Questionnaire on the tumblr.  I’ll be doing my best to keep up and answer the questions here; my approach will be to not think too much about any one answer and to go from the gut.  You can answer the questions on the Identity Scavenger Hunt tumblr, on your own blog, in your journal, in your head, or feel free to e-mail answers directly to the lovely Tia at theatretia@gmail.com – she may want to use some of your answers in different ways in the future!

Obligatory picture of Proust on a madeleine ... though I admit I have never read Proust... but I have most definitely eaten a madeleine.  (photo credit: Parismarais)

Obligatory picture of Proust on a madeleine … though I admit I have never read Proust… but I have most definitely eaten a madeleine. (photo credit: Parismarais)

So without further ado…here are the first four questions and my not-too-thought-over answers:

1.  What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Feeling the gentle hum of life energy resting in the space slightly above “just OK” and slightly below “exuberant”…a joyful calmness of the soul;  clutching an oversized mug of coffee or tea in a slightly-too-cold living room while the cat is curled in my lap or on my feet on a quiet morning when the day is full of new or at the end of an evening when the day has been well-lived; when I am sharing breath and space with another and feel that click that means you are both fully present and your souls start tumbling out of your lips; an empty theatre – no expectations just the promise of endless possibility and ghosts of stories told before and hopeful wisps of those still waiting to be born.

2. What is your greatest fear?  

This has been the same for me from the time I was very young and saying it or writing it always makes me tear up or bawl like a baby (breath):  My greatest fear is that I will die and people that I love will be left wondering if I really loved them or not.  This idea is terrifying and shakes me down to my core. I know it can be overwhelming for some, but this is why I go hard on expressing how much I love people – I say “I love you” and say it often because I never want anyone to question it when I am no longer here to tell them.  (annnnnd tears…on cue… as always. sheesh.)

3. Which historical figure do you most identify with?

I have NO clue…history was never a subject I paid close attention to and I’ve never been particularly moved to read biographies/autobiographies. Though maybe this is something I should explore.  I admire the heck out of Gandhi and believe strongly in his peace teachings. So maybe Gandhi? Mother Teresa is another. Though admiring is different than identifying.  This question raises more questions…

4. Which living person do you most admire?

Jane Goodall perhaps? Lately, I’ve been playing around a lot with the idea of doing “good” in the world and how if you feel ill-equipped to make a wave in the ocean, can you make a ripple in the pond that is just as “good”? I don’t know my path, I may always be a pond-or-lake-dweller so ripples may always be my jam – but I greatly admire the ocean-dwellers who make the waves.

PSA: Know Your Side Effects

I recently started experiencing anxiety in a persistent, nagging way.  I have never been an anxious person in general. I have never been one to lose breath and have my heart race while driving to a friend’s house for a low-key evening of movies and wine with a small group of people I adore.  And the crying-attacks were unpredictable enough to take me by complete surprise and hijack an otherwise OK day – not to mention, they were exhausting.

Because of everything that has happened in the recent-ish past, I logically thought that maybe this was just part of how my body was continuing to deal with compounding personal stresses, the likes of which I have never dealt with before. It wasn’t until I had a panic attack in a bathroom at work for over an hour that I decided this was above and beyond what was tolerable.  And when I came clean to my Mom and admitted this was a problem, I was reminded to look into the side effects of an acne medicine I had been put on in early September.  And – sure enough – 2% of pill-takers experience anxiety while on this med.

I am not a medicine person. I don’t take them regularly and haven’t for at least 4 years.  I don’t like taking cough medicine or tylenol or even medicated cough drops which is why when I *do* take meds, they hit hard. My freshman-year-of-real-life roommate will attest that Nyquil would often knock me out mid-sentence; I would wake up hours later on the floor of our family room in a puddle of my own drool wondering why I wasn’t in my bed and trying to think of the last thing I remembered. Nyquil has since been banned from my personal apothecary. 7 years ago, I went on an acne medicine that during the adjustment period left me super light-headed and a bit out of it when standing; I warned my boss-at-the-time that if he heard a crash from my office, I’d probably just gotten dizzy while standing up and had most likely fallen over but was going to be OK. Normal. I think that poor man didn’t know what to do with me sometimes – it doesn’t help that my first week on the job with him, I suffered an allergic reaction that had me breaking out in hives and ransacking his medical closet for Benadryl. Again. Normal.

But I sometimes let my looks bother me more than I should and am newly single (I’m not going to try to stupidly pretend that had nothing to do with caring about my skin again) so when my dermatologist prescribed doxycycline hyclate in addition to topical meds, I decided to try it in attempt to finally get my skin under control.  I looked up side effects and the main ones listed were all things I thought were reasonable to expect OR had such a small chance of occurrence that I wasn’t concerned. But now that I was hunting specifically for one side effect, there it was. And I started to think that maybe I fell into that 2% of anxiety stricken pill-poppers.

Doing more Googling led me to message boards where some people expressed that they had experienced side effects in a MUCH worse way than I did when taking this med.  That was terrifying to see and all the support I needed to immediately take myself off.  And now – a little over a week later – I am feeling so much better.  Not 100%. And I don’t expect to be 100% yet because I know it takes time for medicine to cycle out of the body. But I have not had the heart-flutters for quite a few days. And I’m now attempting oil pulling as a natural way of calming the skin ( a suggestion from this smart lady who got the suggestion from THIS smart lady) and we’ll see how it goes.

All I know is having clearer skin is not worth living in a state of considerable anxiousness and agitation that is seemingly spurred by nothing.

So this is my PSA reminder to always investigate the side effects of any drug you take and if you notice a change in your body or mind – even if it seems somewhat reasonable due to external circumstances – do more research.  Please.  It saved me from spending more time in a terrible head-space and I would hate to see anyone else suffer unnecessarily.

Doooo-dooooo-dooo-dooooooooo!

Doooo-dooooo-dooo-dooooooooo!

Go Home 2014 You Are Drunk … And My Friends Will Walk You Home

*The original content of this post has been altered – sorry for the change. 10:00pm 9/2/2014*

I debated on whether to post about this topic. But I am blogging about my life and this is a BIG shift. I also don’t believe in being super vague and talking about things without talking about them – or therefore writing about things without writing about them.  That’s just not who I am or what I do. So this may be uncomfortable for some in my social circles but here goes …

2014 needs to go home because it is drunk.

I am done with it. Seriously.

I have been dealing with a lot of personal stuff on and off for the better part of 2014. It’s been a rollercoaster ride of emotions and ever-changing next steps. Every time some new obstacle presents itself, it feels like it has to be the last twist or drop or loop-de-loop. There can’t be many more shoes to drop because The Man Upstairs has to, at some point, take pity on my clan and lighten the load. And I don’t believe God to be a footwear loving octopus – the shoes have to run out at some point.

Then a few Saturdays ago, after a little over 4 years of knowing each other and 3 years and 9 months of togetherness my boyfriend broke up with me out of what seemed like the clear blue. Granted we were not perfect – no relationship ever is because humans are not perfect – but I thought we were both in it to win it and in love. I was in it and in love. But through no fault of anyone’s we were not…not fully. And we hadn’t been for a little bit of time on and off. As kind and caring and respectful as the conversation was handled once it began, this is hard news to process. Even harder maybe because you can’t hate someone for how they do or do not feel – that’s no one’s choice and no one is to blame. It just is.

So I’ve been in mourning. It’s a death. It’s a loss. I’m grieving.  And I’m slowly healing bit by bit. Emphasis on the slowly. I’m also learning a metric shit ton about myself and myself in relationships (in retrospect) and what I subconsciously knew vs. what I let myself be told or let myself believe because I wanted us to work . Because I had thought this was *it*.  I’m also not a person who lets go of words easily – even when the words are said in midnight moments between young people newly in love before they really know what they have gotten themselves into.  So shifting and adjusting my heart and my brain to life without the person who said certain words and was a daily part of my existence for almost 4 years and thinking of a future without him is just so ridiculously, overwhelmingly sad and hard.

Yippee skippy. A brand *new* rollercoaster to ride. A different kind of shoe to drop. Another reason why 2014 needs to go home and sober up.

But the thing that I have been so struck with and so insanely grateful for are the amazing people in my life.  It can be hard to ask for what you need when you are at your most vulnerable but it can be even harder to answer that bat-signal put out by a heart-shattered friend. People are not always comfortable with vulnerability.  And I don’t know if it’s because most of my friends are either artistic types or people who work with sick/vulnerable patients, but when I put out the bat-signal, my people rallied.  For personal stuff and now for the break-up.

Sometimes they rallied at 3am. Sometimes at 11pm. Sometimes they brought bourbon or kitten toys and took me out for dinner or ordered pizza in and let me snot all over them without once wincing. They have told me not to apologize for anything I’m feeling or for crying in public.  They have cleared my desk of relationship evidence before I returned to work. They have told me to take time off of work to take care of myself. They have distracted me when I’ve needed it and really listened to me when I’ve needed it. They have asked hard questions and given soft hugs and offered smart advice from things they’ve learned in their studies and life experiences. They have told me to “fuck off” when I say that I feel unloveable. They have encouraged me to wait a month on that tattoo and to not shave my head a la Britney circa 2007 (my face is just too round for that shizz) and to hold off on adopting a new cat and naming him Mr. Boyfriend.  And when I start feeling guilty for reacting to a break-up so strongly when my family is going through so much, my family has told me not to minimalize what I’m feeling because it’s like comparing apples and elephants. They have checked in with calls and texts and e-mails and puppy pictures and continue to do so.

I hurt. I hurt big now because I always feel my feelings in big ways. But I am so very, very lucky in so many, many ways.  And things will be OK. It’s just life. And life gets messy sometimes.  And when it gets messy, it’s great to know you have good people to help you through.

So thank you, friends. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart and with my whole soul.

And though 2014 is drunk and needs to go home, my people are the good eggs who will walk 2014 to its doorstep and make sure it gets inside and to bed safe and sound with a glass of water and some aspirin waiting on the bedside table for when it wakes – hungover but feeling more hopeful for 2015.

 

**This article is not open for comments so please do not be offended if I do not approve anything you wish to leave on the wall.

These Are My Confessions: Sometimes I Have To Find The Happy

These Are My Confessions may become a series wherein I admit things that I should probably not put on the internet. But you only live once so…

I tend to naturally be a very happy person. I’m told that sometimes it’s annoying how happy I seem.  My apparent ease with happiness has been viewed as a defining characteristic of who I am by family, friends, and foes since I was a little kid so it’s something that I have always defined myself by as well.  But growing up – *really* growing up – it’s harder and harder to maintain that constant cheer. I don’t always view the world through rose-colored glasses anymore. And when I do, it’s often because I remembered to put them on before leaving the apartment.

Sometimes happy takes work and sometimes I have to go looking for it.  Sometimes I have to find it.  This was a “find it” week.

This week has been a really rough news cycle. There is a lot of sad and bad and scary going on in the world right now and I’ve been a bit out of sorts myself over the last few days. I’ve been very emotions-on-the-surface and it doesn’t take much to make my eyes well up and for a lump to appear in my throat; overflowing emotions could be brought on in equal strength by watching a little kid lick an ice cream cone OR listening to reports of what is happening in Ferguson.  I’m a person who always feels big feelings. I’m grateful for that – I’d rather feel big than not at all and during marathons of Criminal Minds, it reassures me that I could never be a psychopath. But it can be unsettling and I try to look for the “why” when I find myself in this space.

Maybe it’s the antibiotic I’ve been taking to knock out an infection – I always have stronger reactions to medications than predicted.  Maybe it’s that I’ve been watching Six Feet Under for the first time and I’m absorbing some of the heavier topics tackled in the series.  Maybe it’s certain personal/family stuff.  Maybe I’m too much in my own head. Maybe it’s because over the last week and a half, I’ve spent more time in the apartment due to the foster kittens needing attention and then Fab needing attention (because they can’t get attention at the same time) and as important as all of that is, it often means that I’m by myself. Don’t get me wrong – I cherish alone time; just not a lot of alone time.  Luckily I had some wonderful friends stop by twice this week to help socialize the kittens (which is a real thing) but the invitations to help me with the cats are also extended to make sure I don’t go bonkers by being alone too much and it would be silly of me to not admit to that.

Or maybe I’m simply picking up on the distressing vibe the universe is putting out right now – because I do firmly believe that people can feel that shizz.

Honestly, it’s probably a combination of all of the above.

But because this week has been such a slog, I’ve been looking to find the good. Looking for the happy.  And there is nothing wrong with needing a little external stimulus to jump-start the balancing out of emotions.  So here it is…

A HAPPY LIST FOR A HARD WEEK

  1. The Wumpus – the Wumpus always makes me laugh; this is a ridiculous video and I always find new things to giggle about plus it makes me think of some of my favorite Meg(h)ans who introduced me to it years ago. When in doubt: WUMPUS.
  2. Fabian in snuggle mode – my mainkittenlady has been a snugglebutt lately which is rare and welcome … but also probably signifying that she is feeling insecure due to the itty kitbits… but SNUGGLES!
    Faba the snugglebutt

    The Elusive Snuggling Faba

  3. Gorgeous Gifs – these beautiful gifs created by the Smithsonian Library are so imaginative! I particularly like the elephant balloon.
  4. Sunshine, blue skies, and fresh air  self-explanatory
  5. Ron Swanson Dancing – you can’t be feeling anything but fantastic when watching this; you just can’t.
  6. Visits with friends – I got to hang out with four of my lovely lady friends after work this week plus I got the added bonus of a ladies-who-lunch-from-foodtrucks-date with another favorite friend; I am so lucky to be surrounded by such smart, passionate, talented, hilarious, and caring women. Truly. I am.
  7. Kanye makes it raaaaiiiiin with tots – my cousin did this today and I am so proud.
  8. Kittens doing the (modified) ALS challenge – I got nominated to do this after “liking” a piece that brings up some issues with viral awareness campaigns but also after an exchange with a friend about why it has been awesome for her family; so though I had mixed feelings, I decided that it couldn’t hurt and will be donating a little bit to a charity as well. My twist was to do it with the adoptable kittens. Officer Fuzz Nugget wasn’t having it but Reese cooperated enough and it’s pretty adorable:  
  9. Weekend plans – I’ve got some fun stuff on the docket for this weekend: a big event at the shelter; some BFry time; an overdue haircut; seeing my Fairy Godmother; and more kittens.
  10. 24 Hours of Happy – I adore this site; watching people let loose and dance to a happy song makes me smile – I don’t care how many times I’ve  heard this played on the radio, I will never get sick of this site.

So these are my confessions, my friends.  I’m not always so easy with the happy. And that’s OK because life does not always bring the happy.  But it doesn’t mean you stop looking.

These Are My Confessions: Bugs and Bedding

These Are My Confessions may become a series wherein I admit things that I should probably not put on the internet. But you only live once so…

I’m not going to beat around the bush here. My apartment has bugs. More specifically, my kitchen has bugs. It has had bugs for a little bit of time now. I say “bugs” but they are roaches. Which makes my skin crawl so I’m going to keep saying “bugs” so maybe you’ll picture ladybugs or fireflies or butterflies… which is not what I have in my apartment. I have roaches bugs.

When it became more than just one or two here and there (which is to be expected in an urban setting), I reported the issue to my landlord. This was back in mid-winter and that call resulted in  The Apartments of Eternal Christmas being fumigated. It also resulted in an epic car breakdown with The KitBit* in tow and a Blanche DuBois style relying-on-the-kindness-of-strangers situation as I was on my way to the BFry’s to wait out the fumigation. It may have resulted in this Facebook post:

Sometimes/And Then Sometimes: A Personal Essay - posted to Facebook on February 17th, 2014 - because I was blogging before I had a blog...

Sometimes/And Then Sometimes: A Personal Essay – posted to Facebook on February 17th, 2014; because I was blogging before I had a blog…

 

Bugs had never been a problem in the whole year+ I had been living in my apartment and I am not a dirty kitchen-keeper (because aside from the occasional tartlet I rarely cook) plus there was construction happening on the apartment below me so I had hope that this was a one-time anomaly. And things died down.

Literally. Bugs died and I would find them down on the floor.

Now, I’m a pacifist and the kind of person that likes to catch-and-release but finding bugs dead-as-a-doornail was oddly satisfying. Gross. But satisfying. And all was quiet on the apartment front for a time.

Then a few weeks ago, they started again. The BFry and I returned from a lovely evening out and immediately had an epic battle vs. approximately 20 bugs. 20 OF THEM.  And because I can’t squish things, the BFry did all the swatting and smacking and smooshing while I stayed out of his way. My preferred method of bug destruction is to catch them in a disposable cup and then run to the bathroom to flush them down the toilet before they can crawl out, throwing the cup away afterwards.  I don’t know what that says about me…

Anyway, I reported the buggy-ambush to my landlord and he sent someone the next day to put down traps. And about a week later, Faybsuh-laybsuh-little-layduh* and I had to evacuate to once again head to the BFry’s for what I like to call a Fumigation Vacation; Fabs* enjoyed herself, as you can see:

What a lush!

LUSH

 

I, again, had hopes that this would clear up the problem at least for a while.  No such luck.  There has been some calming of the issue, but not enough. Never enough.

And so on the evening of July 23rd, no longer relying on the landlord and armed with self-bought sticky-traps and cat-safe poison-traps, I waged war.

I am the 300. I am King Leonidas.  And the bugs are my Persians circa 480 B.C.

 

This is what I look like in my head as I am laying those bug traps down. (© 2007 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)

This is what I look like in my head as I am laying those bug traps down. (© 2007 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)

 

After arriving home close to 9pm, I placed those traps around the kitchen.  And in the process, flushed at least 3 bugs down the toilet. But I’m out of solo cups so have been using an empty paper towel roll and I trap bugs inside the column to then transport them to their watery fates which is MUCH harder than the cup method.  It was rough. And I did it all in heels. Adorable Crown Vintage t-strap 4″ heels; who says women can’t do it all?!

After I was satisfied with the strategic placement of both kinds of traps and felt I had killed enough for one evening, I treated myself to a 2003- freshman-year-of-college-throwback whiskey-sour. Complete with star-shaped ice cubes, an orange glitter swizzle-stick – a #fauxdult move if there ever was one –  and apparently a bit too much whiskey.  I think this was somehow influenced by feeling like I could “do it all” and since “Do It All” was actually the motto of my conservative Catholic alma mater during my freshman year (I know, right?), I was feeling a touch nostalgic.

As I slowly became tipsy, I remembered that I wanted to get Faba-face* a set of bowls that sit off the ground so as not to attract buggy attention.  And I started browsing Amazon because I have Prime and you can’t hate on free shipping.  Then, just to check, I migrated to Overstock.  And then I started looking at sheets. Because I was sent that bedding coupon

And so it happened that in a full-on whiskey-sour fog of sweet-and-tart regret, I bought #ALLOFTHESHEETS.  Seriously.  I thought it was appropriate to purchase three sets of polka-dotted sheets in various pastel colors along with pillowcases and a food/water bowl set for my cat.

I mean – this is the kind of bounty a grandma would give her cat-loving tween granddaughter for Christmas:

 

3 pastel polka-dotted sheet sets, one cat food/water bowl system, and a set of white pillowcases for good measure.

3 pastel polka-dotted sheet sets, one cat food/water bowl system, and a set of white pillowcases for good measure.

 

So while some may get drunk and make booty-calls or call up exes, I imbibe in celebration of waging war on bugs and then purchase sheets that no self-respecting adult woman would want to sleep on and things for my cat.

These, my friends, are my confessions.

* The cat, Fabian Raven Ittameh Bittameh Kittameh The Duchess of Things, has many, many nicknames.

Update: since July 23rd, the occurrence of bugs has greatly decreased but I’m not getting cocky about it yet…