angels gravestone

Not Dead Yet….Apparently

According to my social media numbers, I died about 18 months ago. Not an actual death with a funeral where people show pictures of me on vacation while they drink wine and whisper about all the things I perhaps should have done or said or made better. I just had a social media death. Like a jump off a cliff after the best party of your life. Or being the fun gal at dinner and then holing up in your house for 37 years with a lot of cats. It was that kind of death.

For three years, I wrote for a few blogs, created a new writer website for myself (this one, with my old pictures where I look like I’m really invested in myself..cause I was), and submitted many stories to competitions and anthologies. I read every blog about writing and publishing and even tried my hand at a YouTube channel. That is a whole blog post of its own. And I loved all of it. I was excited because my belief was that the harder I worked toward my goal, the sooner it would happen. Then nothing happened. I spent hundreds of dollars to travel to writing conferences where I met other writers, publishers, PR people. I thought I was doing exactly what I needed to do to get results. And then, I got zero results.

In the midst of that, I had to return to the workforce to provide insurance for my family. Months later my daughter went through a very challenging period that required my husband and I to make adjustments to our lives. Then one million other very difficult things kept happening. When people say bad things happen in threes, I just laugh. “You mean 3 thousands?”

The time I had spent on my writing went to more important things and eventually I lost the ability to see what the point was in the first place. Not that I was mad, i was just apathetic to something that looked so self-absorbed after dealing with real life problems. I couldn’t be funny and I couldn’t write my book and I could barely get out of bed sometimes. So I accepted this part of my life and stopped doing anything that didn’t involve work, kids, spouse, or shoving food in my pie hole. I was (and am) surviving. That’s what we have to do as humans sometimes, survive. I quit Twitter, Instagram, and my own blog and kept up on FB because I needed somewhere to compare my fucked up existence to other people who had perfect kids and spectacular homes. (Yes..I have issues.)

A year went by and then I stuck my toe in. I checked my blog email, which I hadn’t done in months, and had a request from a prolific blogger for me to submit a piece of writing. I still don’t know why she asked, but she did and I’m grateful. Then I finally sat down and wrote about the hard things with my daughter and I let a dear friend read the piece because I wanted to maybe, possibly (HOLD ON TO YOUR PANTIES) submit it.

“This is the best thing you have ever written. I’m sobbing.”

Because I’m super awkward at compliments, I replied with “Still got it.” Which loosely translated means “I feel like a fake and I’m not sure how to respond without humor.”

And then all the things I had worked so hard for, all the dreams I had for myself were suddenly here and I hadn’t really done that much work to get them. My brain couldn’t understand…work less and get the things? But why????

And I don’t know. But I know that my personal belief system up to this point in my life has revolved around things happening for a reason and in the exact right season. Even the hard things. Had we not tackled the situation with my daughter when we did, it could have ended badly. Had I not checked that stupid email account, i would have never known someone wanted me to write. Had I not finally posted online that I was alive and doing things, people may have believed that I was dead. Or that I had given up forever. I haven’t given up forever. I’m just different and a bit lazier and a bit smarter and a lot more clear about needing to calm the fuck down. So I do that, too. Then I write a bit and hug my kids and ignore Twitter and have sex with my husband and make dinner and it all seems to work, so I’m not questioning it as much. I’m not dead…I’m just different.

gas station

Death In A Gas Station Bathroom

Warning: This story contains a plethora of complaining and overly dramatic descriptions of one woman’s experience driving in the snow. If it triggers you to send this woman affirmations or messages that read “It could have been worse” ,please move along to a happier, fluffier, more inspirational post. This isn’t it.

I almost died in a gas station bathroom. But before that, I was wishing I would die so I wouldn’t have to sit in my car on the freeway while it was closed down for an accident because three flakes of snow fell and people lose their damn minds. Every year. Every year the same people who have roots so deep in this state that they think it represents all of America, forget that we get snow. Then they forget that snow makes roads slippery and then they think “Well, fuck it…I have four wheel drive.” And then 5,000 of my closest car buddies and I end up parked on the largest freeway in Salt Lake City on a Wednesday evening.

I’m wishing for death because my car has been in park for 45 minutes and I’ve already been away from home for 8 hours at a job that drains me of any and all patience. I dream of jumping out of my car, standing on the roof, and getting the attention of the semi truck driver next to me so we can commiserate on how fucking ridiculous this is.

“Can you believe this? We are parked on a freeway and I have two boxes of wine that I just bought that I can’t even drink it because even though I’m not driving, I’m in my car and may have to drive at some point. Maybe.”

“I know. But why are you standing on the roof of your car in snow storm with no coat on?”

It’s like that truck driver thinks he’s my mother.

YOU ARE NOT MY MOTHER AND I CAN STAND ON MY ROOF WHENEVER I WANT.

YOU ARE NOT MY MOTHER AND I CAN STAND ON MY ROOF WHENEVER I WANT.

I don’t get out of my car, but I do look longingly at those boxes of wine. Then we start moving!! Three inches. We move three inches and then I put my car in park and pray for a quick death. On NPR they are playing a piece that I think is very fitting in my current situation, it is about how people freeze to death and it was written so the listener feels like they are the one who is freezing to death. Am I freezing to death and this whole traffic thing is just part of the hallucinations that happen before I strip my clothes off? Maybe i fell in the parking lot of the liquor store and I’m reaching a body temperature of 97 degrees because no one thought the lady with two boxes of cheap wine was freezing to death, they just assumed she was taking a power nap before tackling the wine housed in Ziploc bags.

Me leaving the liquotr store with my boxes of wine and nary a care in the world.

Me leaving the liquor store with my boxes of wine and nary a care in the world.

But I’m not freezing to death. It’s worse than that. I’m finally moving and all 6 lanes are going into one lane and once I’m clear of the accident, I realize the road is covered in three inches of freezing snow. I crawl through it in a lane of my own creation. The snow piles higher and higher and I realize that my windshield wipers are freezing to my windshield while they are moving. Did you know that could happen? I have a 5 inch by 5 inch viewing area and my car is sliding from side to side and now I know exactly how I die. My car will slide into the cement barrier that is only feet away, I will spin in six circles and get plowed into by the truck behind me who is clocking 60 mph because he has 4 wheel drive and cottage cheese for brains.

But then I don’t die there either. I pull off the freeway and into the parking lot of a gas station where i call my husband and blow the whole thing out of proportion for his entertainment. I’m sobbing and explaining in dramatic detail how bad the roads are and how I’m sure I’m going to die driving home.

“You should just get a motel and stay the night.”

This should be a relief, but it’s not because I just want to be home drinking my Ziploc wine, not hanging out in some shitty motel with a semen covered polyester comforter that doesn’t even keep me warm.

We agree I will trek home. And by we, I mean that I told my husband that I was going to drive home and I did it while my voice was cracking so he would understand that I was being a real hero in this whole situation. (Even I can’t deal with myself sometimes.)

Then I get out of my car and head into the gas station of death because I have been holding in 20 ounces of coffee, 32 ounces of water, and 6 shots of espresso for the last two hours. And I didn’t have an empty plastic cup large enough for my needs or else I would have been hunched in my back seat pissing in that.

Upon entering the gas station, I realize that all but one of the frozen vehicles parked out front belong to the people who have already been killed and placed in the ice cream freezer. The other one belongs the giant man taking up far too much space at the register. He’s staring directly at me, his tree stump arms crossed and the nest of messy white hair revealing his lack of care for personal hygiene.

I smile. Am I sure I can’t pee in my car?

“Hey” I say in a voice that reveals I would be the perfect victim for a late night homicide, “The roads are pretty bad out there. I just really need to use the bathroom, I’ve been sitting on the freeway behind a bad accident forever. And I still need to get to Tooele by myself.”

This is one of my many personality issues….when I get scared that I’m in the same room with a serial killer I have a tendency to tell them about my entire life, where I live, and how alone i really am right now. Easy target doesn’t even begin to explain it.

Imagine my dead, naked body next to those fish sticks.

Imagine my dead, naked body next to those fish sticks.

As I make my way toward the bathroom, Charles Manson’s twin brother begins to move away from the register and toward the same bathroom I am heading to.

“They won’t have those road plowed until tomorrow morning.” His words come out deep and scratchy, the way I imagine my voice will sound if I live to 99. Which I won’t because I’m going to be snuggling up to Popsicles very soon.

I awkwardly laugh and open the bathroom door only wide enough to squeeze my body in, close it quickly and lean against it with all my body weight anticipating what I will do when Mr. Manson pushes on the door. But he doesn’t. He’s probably sharpening his gutting knife or checking on his other bodies. I run into the stall, push the pee out my bladder like my life depends on it, and leave the restroom without washing my hands. BECAUSE I AM GOING TO DIE ANYWAY.

When I get close to the front door, I peek back to see if he’s waiting in the darkened corner of the store for me to come grab a Redbull before he slits my throat. But he’s gone. So I run out the front door and into my car, locking the doors with a fury only seen in horror movies. Then I feel a wave of guilt crash over me. I used that bathroom and didn’t even attempt to buy anything. The least I could have done was to pony up for a Snickers bar or one of those jerky sticks everyone touches but never buys. I just hope the Universe understands that I’m not an evil person, I just thought I was going to get murdered in a gas station bathroom.

Now I want some jerky.

Shower head

Three Breaths And A Shower

I was well into my 20’s before I heard about this mind boggling practice called shaving your legs in the shower. According to other grown ups I met, it was common and acceptable for women to spend 20-30 minutes in the shower doing everything from sobbing over your lost dreams to using shampoo vigorously on your genitals. This was a fucking epiphany for a human who grew up with a father in the military…a man who could literally shit, shower, and shave before most people could even brush their teeth.

My dad timed our showers. And we didn’t earn the privilege of showering until we were nearly elderly. While my friends were taking vigorous showers, I was bathing with my siblings and having my mother help wash my hair…so my first shower was probably at age 12. Or 18. There were also direct orders on showering procedure.

Like sand through the hourglass, these are the days of living with someone timing your showers.

Like sand through the hourglass, these are the days of living with someone timing your showers.

“Before you even turn on that water, you better have a handful of shampoo ready. You start soaping up as soon as the water turns on, rinse off, and shut off the damn water.”

We rationed a few things (all the things) at our home including phone time, TV time, Nintendo time, the time it took you to “close the god damn door”, and showers. Long showers were a waste of water and there were four other people who needed to shower so we were not allowed to be selfish assholes who took 10-minute showers. Showers were 2-4 minutes and when you pushed the limit, the door pounding began. And believe me…you didn’t want the door pounding, because after the door pounding came the questions. (Also known as shower shaming.)

“Do you think we have an unlimited supply of hot water?”

“Is it that hard to get in and out of a god damn shower?”

And on and on.

My dad explaining how to take a 45 second shower. #notimpossible

My dad explaining how to take a 45 second shower. #notimpossible

These days I pay for my own hot water and currently IT IS hard for me to get in and out of a god damn shower, so I do anything and everything I can fucking think to do while I’m in the shower. Obviously I shave and wash my lady parts (not too vigorously), but I’ve taken it up a notch over the last 12 months. (Cause 2016, you a hateful bitch.) I like to brush my teeth in the shower now. It’s become so common that I keep a toothbrush on the shower caddy next to my Bath & Bodyworks smell gel. I also frequently pee in the shower…I will purposely hold in my pee until the shower is hot enough just so I can urinate in the drain. It’s the little things, donkey cheeks.

This was also the first year that I became aware of shower beers. HOW DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS MINI VACATION IN YOUR OWN HOME???? It’s an ice cold beer drank in a hot shower and yes…I have felt guilty. Not about the beer, but about the time it takes to consume said beer while also shaving my pits and letting that dandruff shampoo soak in before I rinse. My dad would never approve of this scathing misuse of the shower. But fuck it, this has been my year of showers.

Please send me a case of this beer. The name and design warm my blackened, nearly dead heart.

Please send me a case of this beer. The name and design warm my blackened, nearly dead heart.

It’s been a three breaths, one beer, sobbing in the shower kind of year. And I’m grateful there is no one banging on the door and asking me if I’m planning to use all the hot water. Because right now…yes I am. There is a giant metal water heater in my basement that magically (I know it’s not magic) makes more hot water so those guilt trips are currently lost on me. My shower is the only time during the day where I don’t answer to anyone. I don’t have to drive anyone to therapy. I don’t have to talk to teachers about behavior. I don’t have to fold laundry or contemplate my place in the universe. I just stand under the scorching hot water while I burn my skin off, lean my crossed arms against the tile, and take three deep breaths. And drink a semi warm beer that I forgot was sitting in corner of the shower and is now covered in pubes.

My goal next year is to take a 90-minute shower while learning to cross stitch. Fingers crossed. It’s all about the goals, am I right?