Wednesday, November 26, 2008

How to Celebrate Thankgsgiving When You Just Want To Die (Or Kill Someone)

Oh, I'm sorry... I'm not offering advice. I'm asking. Do you know the answer? I definitely don't. I've been sitting here at work for the past hour, sporadically bursting into tears and trying to understand why my life is so far from the life I was anticipating last year at this time.

Then I had a boyfriend. A man I loved (the first "real" relationship I've ever had--late bloomer that I am) who supposedly loved me back. If I'm going to be honest, I can say that things started getting weird right after he told me he loved me, and by Thanksgiving (which was about three weeks later) I could tell he was pulling away. I didn't do anything to push him or pressure him. I figured that was the worst thing I could do. I just tried to remain calm and be open to whatever happened along the way. I never in my wildest dreams expected him to leave me. I mean, who does that? How do you get to be thirty-six years old and think you can just say "I love you" on a whim? How do you raise the stakes if you have no intention of sticking around? If you don't "see a future" as he so often told me after the fact? Once the breakup was happening, I remember asking why time and time again and getting "I don't know" for a reason. My whole life was shattered, my soul decimated, (I HAVE YET TO RECOVER) and all for "I don't know." Who does that?

Here's the time line for those who need it:

10/27 - "I love you, and I'm not afraid." My first "I love you." What an idiot--I believed him.

11/11 - He gives me an iPod Nano with video screen for my birthday.

11/28 - I hear my second "I love you" while we're having sex. Both times he said it first. And I never said it in the month between. I didn't suddenly add "I love you" to our daily vocabulary and freak him out. He did it all on his own.

12/3 - He breaks up with me. Well, kind of. It's not very clear, and within a couple of miserable days for both of us, after talking and e-mailing, it's more like a "break."

12/19 - He sends me an Edible Arrangement. Those things are like seventy bucks, btw.

12/24 - He comes to my family's Christmas Eve gathering--something he insisted upon. I would not have invited him, but when I mentioned it he said, "I want to go to that!" And he'd already decreed that we would exchange presents no matter what. So he comes over. He opens a hundred dollars worth of carefully picked out (and wrapped) presents from me. I open an arm-holder for the iPod wrapped in the Sunday funnies. Seriously. Did he run out of Christmas paper and I wasn't even worth three bucks to buy some more?

12/31 - He spends New Year's with his parents. Who I've never met, btw.

1/10 - I go over to his house thinking we're going to talk and patch things up and he breaks it off for good. He says, "I like you. I loved you..."

"So now it's 'loved,' past tense," I ask.


When I ask what has changed, he can't tell me. "I don't know," is all he says. I am the same person he said he loved just a month ago, but now he doesn't love me. I have done nothing differently, but he has changed his mind. He "doesn't see a future."

"Then why did you tell me you loved me?" I demand.

"I don't know."

All of this haunts me. After a few months earlier this year, still in touch with him, still hearing him offer these wishy-washy explanations, and believing he's just scared (because he admits that he is) he finally tells me he's seeing someone else. Actually, he didn't even tell me. I found out through someone else. But it doesn't matter. He's seeing someone else. He's selling his condo and moving in with her. And instead of just telling me that, he has let me believe that there's still a chance, that it's just fear of commitment wigging him out. He's let me in every time I've reached out, and even though I've said, "If there's someone else just tell me," he never does.

S0 I am a mess. I have been a mess since last December, and nothing I have experienced since then has helped to make it better, or helped me to forget him. As angry as I am in moments, because he took away all of my hope, and my confidence, and my ability to believe, I still love him. Still miss him. If he called me tomorrow I would take him back. And I am crying again because I know it won't happen, and because I know I am pathetic.

The universe has not sent anyone my way to replace him. I cannot find ANYTHING redeeming in this experience. I have not learned anything except that love is a joke, and people are liars, and pain is the only certainty in this world. I can't find the "reason" for meeting him and losing him. I can't forgive him. And I can't stop picturing him in his perfect happy new relationship while I have hovered on the brink of suicide.

I almost killed myself a number of times this year. I am past that point, thankfully, but to say I feel "good" would be a complete lie. To say that I have any kind of hope for ever being happy, or ever finding "true love" would be a complete lie. He has ruined all of this for me, and the universe stood idly by and let it happen.

So how do I find things to be thankful for in light of all of this? All I want to do is e-mail him and say, "I hope your life sucks as much as you deserve!" But of course I can't. I'd just end up looking like a psycho, or worse he'd reply and say something like, "I'm very happy and I hope someday you can be, too." FUCK OFF, ASSHOLE. I don't understand any of it.

Today I needed to use my little digital voice recorder to transfer files from my work computer to my laptop, which couldn't pick up a Wi-Fi signal at the time... I was enormously thankful for that device in that moment. I said out loud, "I love this thing" because I forget sometimes just how versatile and useful it is, until I need it for something like that. Best eighty bucks I've spent in a while, and worth every penny.

So that's one thing.

I'm thankful to have one job that I love, and one job that is at least flexible enough to keep me from otherwise hating it.

I'm thankful for some really good friends who have stepped up in recent days to remind me that they care what I'm going through--especially when my family has kind of not been able to do that in any way that's helpful.

I'm thankful for my guitar. It's a gorgeous black Martin, and I never thought I'd be lucky enough to own a high-end guitar like a Martin.

I'm thankful to be relatively healthy (even if I don't currently have health insurance to deal with some other stuff I wouldn't mind dealing with).

I'm thankful to have a place to live, even though I don't have any money to contribute to it presently.

I'm thankful to have a car that is relatively new, and running well. I'm thankful to the pastor at the church where I work for paying for new brakes when I couldn't afford them.

I'm thankful to the friends, and virtual strangers, who are helping me through my current financial/legal crisis. If I have to deal with these things, at least I don't have to do it alone.

I'm thankful for "The Office" on DVD... I can laugh at that show no matter what. Even after seeing every episode numerous times. Sometimes that actually makes it funnier.

I'm thankful to have a place to spend Thanksgiving... even if it's the same place and the same people I have dinner with all the time, it's still a nice day, and it beats many of the alternatives.

I'm thankful for my fish. They may not be able to snuggle up next to me in bed and show their appreciation, but they still need me, and I need to be needed.

I'm thankful for a lot of other things, large and small, and I need to focus more on these things instead of all the things that are "wrong" with my life.

At least for one whole day.

Monday, November 24, 2008

How many hoops...

...must one jump through in order to simply renew their registration at the RMV? I don't know. Perhaps we can all count together at the end of this post.

My registration expired on Halloween. My bank account on that date had a negative balance, so there was no hope of paying for the new registration on time, compounded by the fact that before I could even consider paying the renewal fee, I had to pay parking tickets owed to the city I work in, and a speeding ticket in the amount of $300.00. Ouch. For the record I would like to just say that I am not a chronic speeder. I'm really not. My sister would tell you that I'm the safest driver she knows, and that it's almost annoying sometimes because I don't drive with the typical recklessness most American's (and Bostonians) take for granted. That said, I was speeding the night I got the ticket. I was going 85 on the highway, in the middle of the night, driving home from the casino, and there were no other cars around me for reference, and I just didn't really notice that I was "speeding." Most of you are probably laughing because, let's face it--'most nobody considers 85 on the highway to be speeding. Except the bored Statey who pulled me over.

$300 in my world might as well be a million dollars. And I cried a lot over this ticket, because I cry at the drop of a hat these days because life has been heavy and I'm kind of tired of it. I digress.

It was 8 days from Halloween before I got paid again, at which point I paid the stupid parking tickets, and I paid the stupid speeding ticket. When I paid the speeding ticket I was informed that there was now a $70.00 fee attached which also had to be paid before my registration could be renewed. Are you freakin' kidding me? Do you see how the universe insists on fucking with me at every turn? And we've barely started.

Okay, so I pay the fee, but that isn't going to leave me with the actual registration fee anymore. So I wait. Two weeks later I get another paycheck. At this point I discover that the payment on the parking tickets has bounced, incurring a $25.00 fee, which gets sucked out of my paycheck as soon as I deposit it, and I go online and pay the parking tickets AGAIN.

I go to the registry, which logistically in and of itself is pretty much a nightmare. This particular branch of the RMV shares it's 25-car parking lot with a pizza/ice cream joint, so good luck getting a spot in the lot. Or on the street, which only has parking on one side in small stretches. There are no nearby side streets because it's a large sort of industrial stretch of road. I park across the street in the lot for a contracting company, feeling kind of sketchy about it, but taking note of the fact that nowhere do they have signs indicating you can't park there, or that they'll tow you or anything like that. I run across the street into the RMV and am met with sign upon sign stating, "If you are parked in the lot across the street, please move your car immediately or it will be towed!" Seriously? Why don't they have a big ol' sign that says this? I'm torn. It's about ten-of-five and there's no chance I'll find another space before they close. Can I see my car out the window? Not really... I decide to risk it. I go up to the triage desk and ask about what I need to renew my registration. I say it's late and ask if there's a fee, which the woman behind the counter doesn't seem to really know. "Well, if there are tickets..."

"I paid them last night," I say.

"They might not be in the system yet... Let me look. What's your plate number?"

I give it to her. She looks something up on the computer and then turns back to me. "Yeah, they're still showing as unpaid."

WHAT?! "So what do I do?" I ask, trying not to let my frustration explode onto this innocent woman.

"Do you have the receipts?" she wants to know.

"Yeah, at home. On my computer."

"Well, you need to come back with those so we can clear the tickets and then we can help you."

So at this point I'm stressed about driving around with an expired registration and getting pulled over and having God-knows-what kind of outcome. She gives me the form to fill out and tells me to show it to the cops if I get pulled over, because at least it verifies that I've been to the RMV and that I'm trying to renew my registration. It doesn't seem like nearly enough to me, but I thank her and head out, expecting my car to have been towed just because.

It wasn't, thankfully, and I went home. It's a few days before my schedule allows me to head back to the RMV for Round 2. In that span of time the parking tickets bounce again (and I hate that I live so close to the edge that that can happen without me realizing it's going to happen), and I stress. I figure I'll bring the receipts and pretend I don't know they've bounced. Maybe the receipts will be enough to get the renewal, and I can deal with repaying the parking tickets after the fact.

I go back to the RMV with my e-mails all printed out, verifying that I made online payments, and I luck out with a bit of street parking, and am feeling pretty good about getting renewed finally.

I wait in line and finally get called. I explain what I'm there for, hand the woman at the desk my form and my e-mails and she looks at me and says, "This isn't valid proof of payment."

"What do you mean?"

"These aren't valid proof of payment" she says, as if pluralizing it will suddenly make it clearer.

"They told me last time I was here that if I brought in the e-mails--"

"You need a certified receipt from each of the towns the tickets are in--they look like this." She waves a couple fancy pieces of paper in the air and my blood boils.

"They TOLD me--"

"They were wrong."

So there's nothing she can do for me. My e-mail printouts are useless. And it turns out I have another parking ticket from my hometown, that I didn't even know about, that needs to be paid as well. She prints out this information for me, so I can share it with the appropriate city collectors.

I leave the RMV for the second time, completely aggravated yet again. It's almost 5:00. Too late to get to either of the towns I need to get receipts from and back before they close.

Fast-forward to Friday, when I finally have the time and money to pay for the hometown ticket, and repay the bounced work-town tickets, and get all the right receipts and finally get everything squared away. Or so I think.

I have quite a day planned, what with a show to run that night, and planning to pick up a friend in Wellesley... I have to be kind of everywhere and I'm trying not to have to back-track too much and waste time or gas. I start at home. It's about 1:30, and I have to be in Wellesley at 2:00-ish, so I'm already aggravated to be running late. I get to City Hall and discover that they close at 12:30 on Fridays. In my mind I am standing outside the locked door of City Hall and screaming "Serenity now!!!!!!" a la Frank Costanza, at the top of my lungs. In reality I am hissing, "Are you FUCKING KIDDING ME?????" as I pull on the locked door uselessly.

I get back in the car. So now this is a bust yet again. Without these tickets cleared, a trip to the RMV is useless. But I decide I will deal with the work-town tickets while I am there (because that's where I was going to be ending up after the Wellesley pick-up anyway), and then on Monday I can get the rest of it done.

I do what I have to do over the weekend, stressing (as usual) about being pulled over and having my car taken away on the spot. This has happened to my brother. The cop wouldn't even give him a ride home. I, of course, don't have a cell phone right now to call someone for a ride in that situation, so I would be extra screwed. So I really don't want that to happen.

That brings us to today. I head to my hometown City Hall to pay the ticket... where I am told that because it's an old ticket or something, they can't accept the payment there. I have to call some other place and mail it, or if I want to do it immediately (and it will clear in the system within 15 minutes) I can do it online at some website they give me. I'm racing the clock as usual, needing to get to work by 3:00 to make an important phone call, and don't really have the time to go back home (or anywhere else) to get access to a computer and make the payment before heading to the RMV. I ask if I can use one of their computers to jump online and make the payment. They say no. You're real human beings... I spit telepathically.

I leave. I go to work to deal with the phone call situation, and make the stupid online payment. At this point it's really too late to head back out to the nearest registry, because in traffic I'd probably not make it, and I really needed to just work anyway. That was a wise decision on my part because as I later discovered, most of the RMV branches had been shut down that day due to a fire at a branch in Boston. After all of this, had I arrived at the RMV to find it CLOSED... you'd be reading about ME in the papers tomorrow.

So this is where I am at. Desperately trying to renew my registration so I can be all legal again, and being met with a ridiculous obstacle at every turn.

Now seriously--try to convince me the universe isn't just fucking with me because it can.
Hello, world. Welcome new friends... ya know, the ones I hope to make. I've had a few blogs before, but this is the first time I've had one that wasn't connected to my name. The first time I've had one that I didn't have to worry about who was reading or what they thought of me. I hope to find this freeing. I have not written much in my life lately, and I feel the lack of that. It's cathartic, of course, and I'm not sure anyone needs this type of thing more than I do right now.

My blog title is from an idea I had years ago for a book. Perhaps this will be the first draft. Perhaps people will find this blog and read it, and be interested, and down the road I'll put it all together and trot it off to some publishing house to be made into a neat little bound collection of stories from my existence. Maybe not. I'm not stressing about where it's going to go. Names may sometimes be changed to protect the innocent (or guilty, as the case may be) and other times they may not. I won't tell you when, because it will ultimately be irrelevant I'm sure. Mostly I think it's going to be a way to further hide my own identity... as if I have one in the first place. Part of the point of this is to try and figure that out.

It's 5:14 a.m., and e-mails are popping up in my Gmail alert from all the early risers in my circle. I am about to go to bed. This is one of many problems in my current reality. I have been trying for a while now to flip my schedule back to what most people would consider "normal" without much success. Some days I feel like I shouldn't be bothering, simply surrendering to the sleep cycle I have landed on, content to get eight hours of sleep regardless of what time of day they happen. Other days I feel a huge sense of dissynchronization (okay, apparently that's not a word, but I like it because it says what I want it to say) with the rest of the world, and long to be up in the morning, living my life in daylight, and hitting the sack by midnight.

I will admit I thrive on the "normal" schedule (well, okay, I modify it a bit because my version of "getting up early" is something like 9:30 a.m.), but for a variety of reasons that will all be revealed over time, I perpetuate the night-owl schedule (what I often refer to as "New Zealand Time" even though it's not entirely relatively accurate), and it's really hard to change the routine once I'm in it.

A lot of it has to do with the fact that I live with my mother. And my brothers and sisters. There are six of us altogether under one roof. I am the oldest of the five children, and I'm gonna be forty. No, not "someday," Harry... a mere year from now, and this fact is the first of the long list of reasons alluded to above. I live in hiding. I am constantly trying to create space for myself that doesn't have other people encroaching, or insisting they be taken into consideration every damn second.

I may sound like an ass, but I'm okay with that for now. I'm complicated and flawed, and the realizations will happen when they happen. At this moment in time, I have to go to bed. But thank you for reading, and I hope you'll come back later when I write some more.

Until then...