Six Year Old Me

Heya. If you're still lurking around this old ruin, I suppose I should let you know I've moved. I've had too much negativity for quite some time now, and every time I tried to "come back" to blogging, I'd get right back into bitching. So I decided this blog had too many old bitchings associated with it for me to break loose and start up newer, happier posts.

I've created a new blog, based on the idea of slowing down and thinking about things with a healthier perspective. Six Year Old Me is my guide for that process, because when I was six life was good. so come on over and check it out. I haven't posted much yet, but I'm still getting used to the idea of thinking about things differently. Bear with me. I think it will be a pretty cool experiment.

A fresh start

So it's been quite some time since my last, worthwhile, post. Oh, sure — I've bitched and ranted and been derisively sarcastic and moody a few times since then, but I've deleted those posts as pointless in the end.

Yeah, life's a bitch sometimes. Hell, it's a bitch rather more frequently than is really necessary, I think. And yeah, all my disgusts and angers are usually justified as easily avoidable annoyances or legitimate dangers to my direct physical well-being.


I'm done with reacting to such things in a way that lingers. Sure, spur-of-the-moment cuss words will fly, especially when someone almost kills me on the freeway because either a) they're drunk, b) they're too impatient to wait literally two more seconds for me to fly by and thus make their turning across the freeway a safe venture, or c) both. You bet your ass I'll cuss then. But.

But, that will be the end of it. As my heart slows, so long as I don't need to change my pants, it's over. Yes, that person is a moron. No, they probably don't realize it (because they're a moron), and probably aren't even thinking of the near-destruction they just caused (because their brain is too small to account for more than a two-second memory span, which may account for their error in judgement). So, if they aren't giving me and my racing heart and possibly soiled panties any thought, why should I waste any more thought or emotion on them? They're clueless; they most likely won't live much longer and thus will negatively affect the world less.

I, on the other hand, plan to live long, and damnit, I plan to live well. This means being actively in control of my happiness and my physical and emotional well-being.

For those of you who may being thinking, "Oh crap, it's another one of those new-agey, mumbo-jumbo, happy-go-lucky and let's all be friends weirdos," you are obviously new to my blog. This is understandable; I haven't actively written in a few years, and didn't exactly have a huge, religious following before. However, should you care to take a glance at even a few of my older posts, you will note a most definitely non-happy-go-lucky vibe.

The long and short of it is, I'm tired of bitching, no matter how justified it may be. I already have intensely negative thoughts in my head — why give them more oomph, more power, more reality and impact, by concentrating on them further by writing them out? That only fuels my anger because believe it or not, I'm one of those sick and twisted people who kind of likes being angry. It makes me feel a little bit powerful, but only in my own head, where of course everything I would say is always perfect and right, and no one dares to talk back. In actual confrontation, it's a bitch and confusing and humiliating and not at all the way it goes in my head — it's just generally shitty, leaving me to feel even worse than I would if I'd kept my anger to myself.

So, I'm done with it. I'll think the thoughts that are bound to come roaring to the front when bullshit arises, and then I'll let them go and move on.

Now, some of you may say that anger is in fact a good thing, and healthy. To an extent, I agree. It means you know what you will and won't put up with, you know what you consider right and wrong, and you are strong in those convictions. Sure. However, it can also be blinding, and worse, it can be addicting, detracting from the rest of everyday life and thus shadowing other, just as healthy and empowering emotions that are just as necessary to one's development and direction in life.

I don't like fantasizing about angry situations and all the things I could say and do in my anger that would prove me indisputably right and in control. I don't like thinking of all the bad things that could happen, or could have happened and what my angry reactions could be or could have been. I don't like liking the thoughts these fantasies bring.

And that's where I've been for about a year or so now. Angry, liking it, fantasizing about it, not liking that, getting angry about that, fantasizing more. I have been, in my head, a vengeful albeit-justice oriented vigilante, delivering razor-sharp, witty, cunning, hurtful truths about any number of things. I've been smooth, fierce, even a martial-arts expert.

I've been living in my head a dream that in reality would crush me. I don't actually want to hurt anyone's feelings, and this becomes painfully obvious in confrontations. I don't actually want to be some smooth-talking, suave but heartless heroine, and this becomes painfully obvious in my attempts to make clear my messages so that I don't hurt anyone's feelings. OK, I might actually want to get physically violent with some people, but only really with the true monsters — the Hitler types, the Phillip Garrido types, the "let's torture kittens just to feel powerful" types. Them, I could do awful things to. The idiot who damn-near T-bones me at an intersection where they should be lawfully (and just in keeping with common sense) stopped and waiting? Not so much. Sure, I'd probably hit something in frustration, but it would more likely be my own steering wheel or dashboard than their face. And the physical pain that would bring would just make me feel ridiculous and small and dumb and in pain, which I'm not fond of.

Essentially, I've not been me in my own head, and that's a whole new level of disturbing. I want me back.

I want to dream real, night-time dreams: of flying, of sneaking through haunted houses, of walking through fairy-haunted woods and swimming leviathan-haunted, alien-haunted lakes. I want to day-dream of my wedding, of taking up new hobbies, of all the awesome things I could be drawing. I want to convince myself to take a painting class (because I'm way better at drawing than at painting, always have been). I want to write poetry again. I actually have the beginnings of some sort of fun-promising poem in my head:

"Dark down deep below the Gr'Lambrollwhelks,
Whose foaming eyes seek shelter in the mud,
There lives a ..."

A what? I don't know. What's a Gr'Lambrollwhelk? I don't know, but I think it's kind of fish-like, without actually being a fish, and it's ancient, and magical, and perhaps — yes! — shrouded in mystery and whispered legends. Oh. And, despite (or perhaps due to) living in salt water, it has foaming eyes. I'm thinking white foam, maybe slightly phosphorescent. Kind of gross, I know, but I can't get the imagery out of my head. How do you pronounce Gr'Lambrollwhelk? "Gruh•Lamm•Brole•Welk." Where did I come up with it? Beats the hell of me. Perhaps it's my muse's wacky way of luring me back into words.

It's working.

On top of just being plain old sick and tired of being sick and tired of hearing myself bitch, my anger and anxiety has begun to affect my health in ways I can no longer ignore. Heart problems run in my family, and lately I've had issues with a tight chest and too-rapid heartbeat when stress is consistently high. And oh wow, has it been high lately (very ill family and many ER trips will do that to a person).There's no panic involved and I can breathe just fine, so I'm hesitant to chalk it up to a panic attack, which has been suggested by others ... though I've never had one, so I suppose that could be it. But, I mean, don't you have to feel panicky for a panic attack? This is just a weird heart thing.

OK and for the record yes, I know I should see my doctor about it if I really do think it's a heart thing. The thing is, heart or panic or whatever, it's most definitely stress-related, and I think if I can actively work to lower my stress it will resolve itself. After all, it's new, and seems to follow my stress, only having occurred a handful of times and only at my most stressed out, anxious moments.

So, I've been enjoying a much healthier diet (I'll blog about juicing soon), and am working on reducing my anger reactions and reaction times. It's already helped me with a clearer head and more positive (slight, but persistent) outlook, and energy — which makes me feel good no matter how crappy a day may be.

If you're worried and thinking of giving me a little lecture about the heart thing, don't worry. Despite my fantasies I'm actually a very level-headed person and I try to be smart. I'll give a better diet, exercise and lowering my stress a couple of weeks, and (unless external family-illness circumstances get worse) if the tightness and rapid heartbeat don't stop, or get worse, I promise I'll go see my doctor. I may not be a genius, but I'm not dumb. Generally. I just don't want to waste money and time on something I may be able to positively affect and resolve on my own, but I'm open to the possibility that I may not be able to. So, heart stuff stops and I'm all good. Heart stuff continues, I'll dish out the cash and run the gamut of heart-tests.

Here's to hoping that I can actively lower my stress and my anger reactions, and allow myself to be a hopeless, head-in-the-clouds-in-a-good-way dreamer again. I think I hear a pad of paper and a pencil calling ...

Fetch boy, fetch!

Am I really so much of a geek that upon seeing this fish training kit on, my heart fluttered and I excitedly looked over at my betta fish, Zaphod, here at work, thinking, "This will give him something to do all day!"? Am I really so much of a geek that I actually want to buy this silly little kit and teach Zaphod to play soccer?

Yes. Yes I am.

If this momentary geekasm actually turns into me getting the kit and wasting valuable company time in fish training, I promise I'll record the results and post them on YouTube.

Cubicle Warfare

It is considerably noisier in my new cubicle at work.

I'm actually in a cubicle now, by the way. I'd always just had a desk, or two desks together, before, in a much quieter, more peaceful area of the building. Now I get to listen to three different police scanners - one right next to me - reporters and editors talking on the phone, ad reps on the phone, and editors discussing stories and photos with reporters and photographers, and the photo editor is right next to me, too. And I get to listen to all the way too loud talkers I had always loved being far away from before.

This is the biggest change that has taken place at work lately. So many people from all departments have been let go that there was a lot of empty space, unused desks, in the editorial department, right in the very open middle of the building. Even having shut down the office of one of our sister newspapers and having moved all those reporters, photographers, and ad reps into our building, there was a lot of space, and a lot of unused equipment to deal with. The place looks like hell, with desks, chairs, filing cabinets, light boards and innumerable baskets and trays for organization scattered and piled everywhere.

In order to store all of said junk and to make the daily going-on more efficient (see: my boss and I are now babysitting the editors, who refuse to do their jobs unless we do), the production and graphics department was just moved out of the room that the production department had been in for nearly twenty years, and which the graphics department was just moved to. We were moved out into the half-full editorial department, which, even at only half full, was not big enough for all of us to cram into along with all of our various tables and boards and printers and such.

We're all in cubicle-quads now, and scrambling to find space to organize or even just to set papers down without getting different piles mixed up and important things lost. Our Editor, the head honcho below the Publisher, is showing his usual dumbass qualities in bitching about the fact that there is now a filing cabinet where he used to stand and lean on the cubicle partition to talk to the photo editor. That cabinet has to go, he says, because leaning on that partition is "you know, part of the whole thing, we have to be able to do it."

Never mind the fact that the cabinet is being used by the graphics person who now has her desk there, and so needs it, and there's no where else to put it. Never mind the fact that the dumbass could just stand up straight and talk to the photo editor, just one small foot back from where he's used to standing. Never mind the fact that in his walled-in little "office" in the corner of the editorial area, his space has not been affected at all by this move.

Yesterday when he was bitching about the cabinet, I not-so-diplomatically but nonetheless calmly told him, "Ya know, Mike, everyone else has had to make adjustments with this move. You need to do that, too."

He mumbled something along the lines of "well ... yeah," looked down and fidgeted a bit, then walked away.

Right after I finished warning my boss this morning of that little bitch-fest, Mike walked by, slowed down and fidgeted as he looked at the cabinet, paused as if he were going to say something, then continued on to his desk when he saw my boss and I calmly watching him, waiting.

I doubt he'll mention it again, but if he does, I'm ready to list off all the huge changes and sacrifices we had to make to get here, what we can no longer do - things which aren't luxuries like leaning but actual necessities we'll have to now live without - and calmly tell him it's easily half his own damned fault for not doing his job and causing us to be late all the time and to put out a crappy excuse for a decent newspaper. If he'd pulled his head out years ago, efficiency wouldn't have been one of the issues leading to this move. Storage space could have been found somewhere other than our old department, and he could lean on partitions to his heart's content.

And I will pull no punches. I'm tired of this place and easily half of the people left, and he's the Big Bad Number One on my shit list. He has been for years, and I'm tired of being a nice, sweet little worker who doesn't make waves. Because this place needs to be shaken up. The shaking-up is happening, but we're not seeing much effect yet other than bitching by people who haven't had to move or sacrifice but who suddenly are unable to lean.

I'm too tired to be angry. I'm just disgusted. And the increased noise doesn't help, especially from those individuals who like to bitch and fret at the top of their lungs all day long (and who, not surprisingly, are some of the dumbest ones here). I've set up and decorated my little area as nicely and warmly as I can, to make it as comfortable as possible. I've even got twinkling christmas lights up.

If I can't have general peace and quiet, and I can't have some of the space I used to have and still really need, at least I'll have a nice looking and nice feeling cubicle to slave away in.

My area looks just as nice and sweet and inviting as it ever did in the old room. I still smile and try my best to get things done properly and on time. But the shiny smile, like the twinkling lights, is a lie. If anyone oversteps their bounds under the tired and never correct excuse of "this is the way it's always been," they will see the abrupt, no-nonsense side of me that doesn't put up with bullshit. I have a feeling there will be quite a few shocked people wondering what happened to the old me in the next few weeks, but the truth of it is, this practical side is nothing new. I just didn't need to show it before because we had our own space. We had enough space.

Now we're in the pit, and I'm ready - eager, even - for blood.

I think, once I have a few bucks to spend, I will finally order some of the cubicle warfare toys from Maybe I'll try to catapult mini marshmallows into the Editor's cubicle office. I'm in the exact opposite corner from him - it would be a worthy feat, I think.


I know it sounds kinda funny - it does to me, anyway - but sometimes I wonder when I'll finally be a "grown-up."

I'm 27. And a half. But I see other 26, 27, 28 and even 29-year-olds around me everyday, and they don't seem grown up to me, but more like relentless, overgrown teens playing dress up. Maybe it's the maturity level of the individuals themselves, their decisions and reactions and apparent morals (or lack of them). Maybe if I knew more people, I'd realize not all late-20's people are still dumb as rocks.

Maybe not. Those I've always considered "grown-ups" have been older than me by at least five years. Always. At 22, I thought I'd be one of the "grown" ones by now, but I still feel awkward and stumbly and sometimes teenage-ish, with a twist of real life experience to make me shut up and think before speaking and acting (definately not a normal teenage quality, so maybe that says something).

Maybe my idea of grown-up is needs an "l" at the end of it. I think of grown-ups as being in control even in the worst of situations, cool and calm and able to handle anything. And if something so awful comes up that they can't fix it, they roll with the punches with dignity, without freaking out. Grown-ups have always been, I guess, stereotypical heroes to me, and I wonder when and if I'll ever become one, or if what I'm thinking now and realizing as each year passes is that this is what being "grown-up" is. Worrying. Wondering. Planning. Hoping. Worrying some more. Freaking out, and not where no one will notice.

And rolling with the punches not because it's suave and dignified and a symbol of strength, but because there is nothing else to do. Because life rolls, and tumbles, and falls apart and rebuilds into harrowing dark ruins of unfamiliar and unpredictable twists and turns and pitfalls and closing doors.

Maybe, at 27 and a helluva lot wiser - if not exactly smarter - than I was at 22, I am a grown-up. Maybe the ideal I held hand in hand with the title is just a dream, or maybe not and I can still attain it, or some semblance of it.

I tell myself that once I graduate, once I get my bachelor's and then my master's degree, I'll feel like a grown-up. That my golden ticket to that elite hall of cool-headed gods is a piece of paper that will grant me financial stability.

I tell myself money will make me feel better.

Honestly- it will help tremendously with decreasing my stress level, as money (or rather, the lack of enough of it) has been the bane of my existence for the past few years. Not having to worry so much about making it through another month will certainly grant me a level of cool-headed calm.

But it won't make me an adult. It won't grant me maturity and the wisdom to make the right decisions, be they easy or difficult.

In those fields, somedays I feel wizened, ancient. Other days I'm just another bumbling 14-year-old, bewildered at why I can't have my way because it seems so simple, really ... and angry that I have to act my age.

I doubt that money will change that, so I try to ignore that fact that had I stuck with the two-class-per-term schedule, and never taken any breaks, I'd have received my bachelor's degree at the beginning of November, and would be working on my master's degree right now. I try to ignore the sting of putting off my wedding to an now-unknown year because I don't know anymore when I will finally be done with school, bachelor's and master's degrees in hand. I try to think of something other than the fact that the bachelor's degree will no longer be my birthday present to myself this year.

I focus on bills which make me cringe and sometimes cry when no one's looking. I focus on dishes that pile up again before two full loads are clean. I focus on picking cat hair off of clothes and sheets, because it works as much as a distraction as a helpful bit of cleaning. I worry about possible leaks in the bathroom and on how high our heating bill will be in light of the very badly insulated living room, which was an add-on to the house's original structure. I focus on trying to form cohesive, meaningful sentences to string together into posts here - again as much of a distraction as an interaction - and then grumble when nothing comes together well enough to be released, and seen.

And I think sometimes that I really hope this isn't what being grown-up is like. I hope that I'm in a sort-of half stage of trying very hard - and making progress - but still missing some all-important something that will make all the difference when I finally figure it out.

In fourth grade, I met my favorite teacher, the one who most influenced my life in school - the one who stood out from the rest and earned a place forever in my heart. Her name was Miss Jackson, and she insisted we call her Miss J. She told stories of her youth and her dreams and her projects at home and her vacations. She sang songs to us and with us, made games out of math (we loved "Fourth Grade Feud") and took us on field trips too numerous to count, to places that really mattered and made us sit up and take notice.

She made us laugh, and at the end of the year on the last day of school, when she cried because we'd be moving on without her, we cried, too.

Miss J turned 27 that year.

She was mortified.

As she bemoaned becoming "so old" and still not even being married or with any kids of her own, we sat there puzzled and bemused.

Old? At 27? Was she crazy?

27 wasn't old. 90 was old. 100 was old. 27 was grown-up, but still very young. We knew she still had many long happy years ahead of her, and couldn't understand what the fuss was all about. She wasn't old.

We told her as much, and she laughed and thanked us but I don't think she believed us.

Now, 20 years later, I think I understand her.

She wasn't feeling age itself, I think, but rather the passage of time in relation to milestone achievements in life - love, marriage, her own home, raising a family. She didn't even have a boyfriend (something we never could understand, because she was one helluva catch, we knew, and any man lucky enough to turn her head would have been blessed the rest of his life). She knew, I think, that it wasn't age but the lack of seeming age-related accomplishments and titles and behaviors that began to weigh on her that year.

My best friend is working on her master's thesis.

The girl who used to be my other best friend, the third of our trio, has been married, has a child, and will be married again soon. Another close friend from my first run through college is married, with a kid.

Hell. My boss - who is a few years younger than me - is already married and owns his own house. He was married and a homeowner before I even met Matt.

Another close friend - like a big brother to me - despite having not graduated high school or college, has enough job experience and social connections that he will never want for a job (or three) or a place to live any where he goes.

Even my ex-con younger half-sister moved out of the house, got a job, and got her license years before I did. Never mind the fact that she's been in and out of prison ever since.

I guess I feel like I should be a grown-up by now, by the standards I held in my ideals of "grown-up-ism" all my life. I should have had my bachelor's degree years ago, and should be almost done with or even have my master's degree now. I should at least be renting a full, reasonably-sized house, if not owning one by now. I should have a job that means something to me, that is actually turning into a career, rather than loathing and fearing for the one I have. I should have the option to go out and get married next weekend if the fancy strikes me, rather than being forced to wait indefinately until I'm done with school because being married will kill my chances of any financial aid, which I need. Not that I'm looking to have kids anytime soon (if ever), but I should have the financial stability to be able to take on that responsibility if I chose to, or if (god forbid and knock on wood and all that) the pills I've been on for years fail me and we get a "joyous surprise."

I should have the stability and control that I always thought would come with being a grown-up, if I am a grown-up, right? I shouldn't have to wonder and worry and dread checking the mail and cringe over buying shampoo and conditioner. I shouldn't have to let the "check engine" light stay on in the Jeep indefinately after it's having been on for easily four months now, because we can't afford to even have the problem thoroughly diagnosed, much less fixed.

I should be able to show the world the same bright, cheerful and ever happy face that Miss J did, rather than hiding fear and stress with a small, shy smile while I look to the side, not daring to meet another's eyes for fear of giving my darkness away.

If I am grown-up, I should feel like it, right? Or is this really what it feels like no matter how old or experienced one gets?

Maybe the calm cool-headedness I always saw in others was just a well-honed mask like my eyeless smile. Maybe being grown-up is all about smiling through the dark, beause at least you have that much left that's yours, that you can control. Maybe rolling with the punches serves as much as a distraction as a reasonable reaction.

I begin 2009 unsure of where I stand and where I'll stand six months from now, but certain strangely and inexplicably that it will be more stable than where I've been the last few years. I don't know if I'm a grown-up yet, or if I ever will be, but I'll try to meet the eyes I smile at, calm in the tumult and graceful in the rolling. I'll try not to think about time and timelines and milestones. I'll try to think as much about today as tomorrow. I'll try to learn from my inner bumbling 14-year-old as much as from my inner 6-year-old and that haunting, ancient soul I sometimes feel peeking through, wise and tired and peaceful.

I'll try to enact the everyday life lessons that Miss J taught me 20 years ago, when she was my age and a symbol of a happy and successful journey through life.

I'll try, and maybe I'll figure it out.

Good fortune to you all in this new year. And good learning to me.