Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Privilege is a Struggle

You are living the struggle.

No, seriously.

You are in your own version of the struggle.

Maybe you have to work to live, instead of lazing about reading and writing all whilst being famous and broody and thin.

Maybe you have to get up at 5:00 in the dark morning just to get yourself anywhere near ready to go to your hateful job before you start waking and readying small children.
By yourself.
In the cold.
With a cold.

Maybe you can only dream of having a hateful job.

Whatever your daily grind or worry or strain, it is the struggle. Your struggle.

I have mine too.

I often straddle a very thin and uncomfortable line... It balances between two vastly different worlds:

One in which I am grateful for all that I have; my health, my family, the love of a wonderful husband, the chance to be part of raising an incredible, talented, beautiful, sweet child. The companionship of quirky, fun pets. Amazing people that I get to call friends. The ability to earn a living. An education. Freedom of speech. Feminism. 

In this world, I live in a nation that thinks I am good because my skin is light. Because I am a woman married to a man. The awareness to even realize what a huge stack of gifts I have been granted. The sick feeling in my gut that I deserve none of it. That I have earned what I have only on the basis of what I had to work with from the start. 

The other world is one in which I am bitter and angry that I am not free of the constraints of meaningless work, able to be having fun and meaningful conversations with people, choosing what to do with my time and making important changes to improve the lives of everyone on earth. The only thing that really separates the worlds is choice. A choice  I actually have.

I know how good I have it. I do. It's just that I want it to be different. And that makes me like everyone else. The things that connect us are so often the conflicts we share. If you are reading this, you have it good. You may or may not agree with my definition of good. you may not even realize how large your stack of gifts really is. You live in a developed nation. You have likely never known the oppression of a dictatorship. Or the hell of war. You are literate. You have either sight or hearing or both. You most likely have a bed to sleep in tonight.

You almost certainly want to improve your life.

I want even more than that. The act of wanting in itself is privilege.

What I want is monumental. So large I cannot see the edges of it, only some spot in the middle that I fix my eyes on when I feel brave enough to even look. It is in the background all the time, like a mountain when you live in the foothills. It is nothing, when I want to hide in the anonymity of a mediocre life. It is everything when I look up for a moment and see the sun hidden by the sheer size of it.

I want to take my privilege to its logical conclusion. I want to make others aware, to show them how things are framed to make them believe that they live in a white male world where everyone is middle class. Where products and services will make you clean and shiny and fulfill your every need. I want to strip down the edges of the blue sky and show you the machine that runs underneath.

Most of all I want you to look. I want to see you lift your hand to cover your mouth, to stifle your screams, to hide your absolute horror. I want you to feel your pulse quicken, your anger rise, and your hands get sweaty. I want you to know.

The privilege I often joke about is the result of money and class. Of capitalism and education. Now I want to pull back the entire curtain. I want to show you the ugly face of imperialism and religious dogma that controls your every single day. That determines who is right, good, worthy, and yes- alive.

Look around you- you live in a mansion. One built of ideas and social constructs that keep you sheltered, warm, safe. You can't even see the mountain. Go for a drive sometime. Get far enough away from your reality that you can turn and see the edges. Know that what you think you know was taught to you by people who have never seen it either.

Then you can struggle with your privilege. If you win your struggle, maybe you can help me with mine.

Friday, September 26, 2014

When You Grow Up

I never had the super clear vision.

I always thought that everyone knew what they wanted to be when they grew up. Everyone except me. It seemed like lots of people had it figured out well ahead of time. The rest bopped along, falling backwards into amazing opportunities at every turn. I didn't really know what I was heading towards, I just kept moving. At least I felt like I was moving. Then one day I realized I'd been standing still for a decade.

From early childhood, I would get glimpses of what I wanted to do, what I would "BE", as if one day you became something merely through the effort of wishing it to be so. By declaring it to the well meaning people who bent down to ask me.

"I want to be a teacher!" I would say. They would smile approvingly. I knew that you needed to have an answer to the question. And we all understood what kind of answer it had to be.

It was preferable if you desired to mold yourself into something mirrored by a smiling Barbie "I Can Be" career doll. One of those was ok. Just not the one where she is a rock star. That is fantasy, not career.

I suppose that is a safe thing to do, to reign in the expectations.

One time I decided I wanted to be a stand up comedian. I was ten years old. My mother did not approve of this decision and she let me know that it was a ridiculous notion. More than anything she let me know that it was not a real job. What? What is "real" and what is "not real"? You mean fun and interesting or boring and predictable?

The dichotomy of real/not real options said so much.

She also told me that to be a comedian, I would have to live on a bus. I'll never forget that. In that moment, I was transfixed. You get to live on a bus? What an adventure!

Unfortunately, I had not yet learned how to hear those subtle noises about "real" in the way they were meant to be heard.  In truth, it tells us more about the person drawing the line than it does about our own abilities, opportunities, interests, etc. It tells us about their own fears, their failed journeys into fantasy and how hard the realities were when they hit.

It's not their fault. Someone did it to them too. They are just passing on the shared experience and generational discontent. It is difficult to teach something you have never learned. Like hope.

I realize now that all of my visions of how it would look to be a working adult were a result of what happens when you take what I watched, both from my household point of view and that of school, friends, church, and people I saw socially and mashed them together with television, unrealistic dreams, ambition and the hope I inherited from a long lost relative somewhere.

I thought I would work as a  teacher, or maybe in an office somewhere. Maybe I would have my own office. Maybe I'd work in a high rise building, or as a police officer someday? They were all things I thought of to have easy answers to the questions people loved to pose. I had no idea what I was doing that minute, let alone twenty years down the road. I still don't.

One day, in a fit of desperation and hatred for a disdainful human being that held the title of my boss, I dug deep. Really really deep. Deeper than my own self preservation and deeper than the fear that held the tight grip on my mother's sense of reality. Deeper than doubt and indecision, further down than the inertia and self loathing of office work than I had ever gone before. I knew where I was heading. I had heaped lots of garbage and responsibility on top of it, hoping it would not ever rear its ugly and demanding head.

Down there I found a little girl with a journal. A carefully guarded tiny notebook that she clutched tightly, writing a few lines or a dozen pages, depending on the kind of day it was. A book that was a prized possession, a best friend, and a source of solace in the storm. The little girl looks up at me and whispered; "write".

Writing is all I have ever done. When I was happy, when I was sad, when I needed to work things out and when I needed to speak my mind. I used writing to convey thoughts when I had to communicate with someone without letting my own fears block the way, and when I knew they would not listen without interrupting. I've written to remind myself of what I am and I've written to tell someone else that I cannot be what they need. Writing is how I live.

When I grow up I will be a writer? No. I was born a writer. I will grow up to get paid in the currency we exchange, giving my writing the cultural credit for being more than just thoughts on paper or words on screens. I will exchange a tiny dream, chunks of my soul, the essence of myself and any hope of getting to live on a bus, for the monetary validation of what I already am. We don't grow up to BE anything. We peel off the shell of expectation to reveal what was  there all along.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Bitches Be Communicatin'

Like all of my blog posts, you are just going to have to hear me out on this one. Today I am thinking about how women "dog" each other. By which I mean, we communicate in a way that is similar to how dogs communicate. Its interesting. Yes it is.

I did say hear me out, yes? Ok then.

So here is what I'm noticing. Women have a couple of forms of communication with other women in which they display classic canine behavior. One such example we'll call the Appeasement.

The Appeasement is typically found in the form of a flattering compliment about another woman's outfit, shoes, hair, jewelry, general overall style, sunglasses, you name it. This is our IN. This tactic is used when we want to make another woman feel relaxed and at ease, and even when we want to lift her status in reference to our own. We want her to know that she is looking good, that we approve of how she has styled herself, or that it appears she is losing weight. 

We do this for the same reason that dogs display appeasing or calming behaviors. It is a signal that we come in peace, that we are friendly, and sometimes even a display of discomfort and looking for a way to start conversation with someone we aren't as familiar with. Luckily we don't run over and sniff, then lick the other woman's mouth. So there is that. Score one for the chicks.

Another interesting communication behavior I notice with some women is the subtle notification that you are on shaky ground, and she would like to keep you there. This form of communication we will call the Warning.

The Warning can be expressed a number of ways, both verbally and non verbally. A common form of the Warning is one woman making a remark about another woman that is neither outright negative, but not positive either. It is a comment meant to make the other woman unsure, as the speaker herself is unsure and wants to convey that message. It can take the form of something like, "Oh, Darla, I didn't know you were into comics..thats...interesting." Accompanied by non verbals such as raised eyebrows and a body posture that moves away from the other woman, this is clearly a sign that she is not included and separate of the speaker. Moreover, the speaker is keeping her there. The signal is usually received and understood, creating a new relationship structure between the women.

Again, while this is better than baring our teeth, raising our head and ears and giving a low growl, it is not as obvious but just as effective. Our way of doing it bites underneath the skin, though. We are able to inject a sort of suspicious unease into the situation and therefore, into the other person, with the smooth movements of a practiced hater.

We can let you know you are about to cross an invisible line into your own personal hell and yet we are also able to diffuse a situation or put ourselves in good graces with people without even warming up a single neuron.

Is this inherent? Did we learn it? Perhaps watching, like when we saw our mothers putting on makeup, we imitated the behavior, not even understanding what we were doing. Can we teach other things the same way? I don't know about you, but this has me thinking. I want to see how I can change other people's behaviors by enacting rituals in their presence. I wonder how long it will be before I can get a man to scratch at his upper chest/shoulder like he is adjusting a bra strap, because I do that shit all the time.

Brimming with Shit


I need a shrink. Or whatever politically correct version of a person who can hold the bowl and scrape the sides while I empty the contents of my bullshit addled brain into a bundt pan so we can eat my pineapple upside down crazy together.

Like today.

If you know someone good, feel free to pass along their info. I prefer to meet in person, as I believe my showered, gelled, manicured visage helps people to believe that the things falling out of my mouth like cows from the sky in a trailer park tornado are totally normal and then they will tell me that I can continue to express all of that to them. But you know, clinically, in a licensed therapist sort of way.

I can't share all of my insanity with people I know. First of all, they have put my station on their first button of the car radio and they know to tune me out as soon as this static starts up. Secondly, they have all heard different versions of my shit and they aren't even sure what to make of it anymore. They helpfully offer their time and companionship, solace and booze, but I need the real deal. With the booze. Do they have shrinks like that? Or is that only in 60's television shows? I'll get my bouffant hair and short dress on if you hand out whiskey. Ok that sounds like a different kind of show. But you understand.

I need someone with the capacity to own my very full brain for a moment, even if it is in pieces. I need a place to dump off all of my insecurity about how lame I am, my neurotic fears about strange distant people and places, and the fascination I have with string theory and the connectedness of all beings. And that person needs to LISTEN and not give me a 'diagnosis' or pills. I just need two hands that belong to another rational person who is used to listening to crap like this and will find my brand of it utterly charming.

At $200 an hour, I hope you can find me charming. Shit, for that kind of scratch I would wear that mini dress and listen to your bullshit.

Let's make this happen.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

I Had No Idea

I had no idea...

That when I stood outside that salon, calling you over and over again desperate to figure out what just what had happened and to patch it back up with my kit...

The one I had built in haste long ago, the one made of half truths and bandages and sweet words of salve that I knew just how to apply in the way that they had always soothed your insecurities....

of what was to come after that.

I had no idea in that moment what was being ripped away from me, no idea of what I had lost, no idea how my life would go on without the crushing weight of your broken soul to carry.

I had no idea what went wrong ... I knew it was something I had said. It always was. Or the way I said it, of course. You had read into it that I was hesitant about a life with you. For once you were right.

I had no idea how far away you had gotten. I knew you moved to another state, but I couldn't see the divide that had happened in front of me. So I tried to keep driving up the hill that you created- all piled high out of self preservation tactics and the worst of you. I had a well worn road on that hill. This time there was no horizon in sight.

I had no idea how hard it would be to accept the end of you. To believe in a time and place that I had not allowed myself to look at, to expect more from life than what was left after pleasing you. To ask myself the hard questions about how this ever happened in the first place, who I was, what I wanted and how to get away.

I had no earthly way to conceive of both how easy and hard you would be to get over. Of all that I would have to appreciate ... simple things like having time to myself and not having to account for every action I took, not holding my breath when a bad mood would befall you and leave our house in shadows. Ones that were shaped like the independent person I used to be.

I had no idea how hard it would be to get sleep to return - to just lay down and let go. I had no idea how tight of a grip your memory still had around my neck. I chased the beautiful sleep back with my charms instead of wasting them anymore on you.

I had no idea what I lost that day. If I had known I would have laid it down long before. I had two hands full of my past and none left to welcome my future.

I had no idea what was to be gained. Returning to myself, I found more than I remembered and strength I didn't know I had left behind. I had been waiting for me all along.

I had no clue whatsoever that someone else's life was patiently waiting to come face to face with mine. I didn't know that their heartache and loss, their disillusion and pain, their confusion and rebuilding - was all being done to get them ready for who I was going to be for them and what they needed to be for me.

I had no idea that two shattered pieces of glass could be made into a beautiful diamond and that I would live in a place of both windows and mirrors, able to see out to what was and back to what had been.

I had no idea how great it would be when you came running to me for escape- wanting to go back to where things were, feeling unloved and sad, alone with your wife and child and your hollow heart. How wonderful the rush of vindication after so many years to tell you what you needed to hear for a long time, to remind you that your life was a result of your decisions and expressions of how you felt about yourself. That the reflection you saw was one you had made. That I wanted no part of what you were suggesting. That your wife undoubtedly deserved better.

I had no idea you would have the nerve to call again. Especially after she found you out. You wanted closure. You wanted to say nice things. You wanted me to think kindly upon my memories with you. I wanted to get off the phone, I had better things to do.

I had no idea how well I would sleep after that. I had no idea how much I would appreciate my life after I saw it through your eyes. I had no idea how important you would be to my life. I had no idea that the day I stood there frantically trying to fix you and you shut me out was the day my life truly began.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

You Are Most Welcome

I try to keep  things at an even keel as much as possible. Lately I am on a teeter totter with my hands gripping my side of it, white knuckles bared against the barrage of bullshit that is getting piled on and off of the other side.

I have decided not to ride the wave that moves with the whims of incompetent and unintelligent people. I threw a  written Molotov cocktail into the situation, bringing fire to what was already simmering. Fire can be good. Fire can be cleansing. I feel better already.

There was just one thing I didn't include in the world's longest email to the world's most oblivious person: You are most welcome. Maybe it was that I had rage fueled vision and wasn't feeling magnanimous. Maybe I just had too many other things to say and couldn't fit it in. Or I just couldn't slip the words over the furious lump in my chest.

Today, they move like liquid fire.

You are welcome for the years of my life I altered without looking back. You are welcome for the daily care of your precious cargo. You are so welcome for each breakfast made, dish washed, shirt folded, blanket tucked, lunch packed, carpool driven, girl scout meeting held, craft created, hair brushed, appointment made, bill paid and dollar stretched.

Because you never had to.

You are welcome for each rule set, each tantrum settled, each fight with a grandmother who didn't see the need for grounding. You are welcome for each sports uniform, school clothes, camp payment, sleeping bag, bug spray, whistle, and worried last look when she would walk away, even if only for a few hours.

Because you never wanted to.

You are welcome for sleepless nights, fitful dreams, fear of  strangers, palpitation of the heart  in a  near-miss crash, glance to the backseat to see that she was still there, smiling, unaware. You are welcome for the embrace that held a crying child, scared, upset, unsure...when she didn't understand where you were. How to reach you. Why you wouldn't answer. You are welcome for the tears wiped, the ones she is careful to never show to you.

Because you had better things to do.

You are welcome for the vision I keep, the one of a 4 year old girl, playing with her dolls, acting out a comic book scene. Only in all of hers, there is a mother missing. One that will come and save the princess. Or that needs saving and the superhero always finds her to reunite with her little girl. You are welcome for the heart I broke watching that scene play out over and over.

You are welcome for the tears I held back when she asked if I would come play the game along with her. Of course I did, as I knew the script and I knew my part. I was always two people in the scene- the villain and the hero. I had to play those two so that her little voice could be both mother and daughter, one in peril and one desperate to help. I took the role of both the person who would do such a thing as take the mother away, and the one who would help to bring her back. She took the role of a little girl trying to come to terms with her life, and deciding that something dangerous and awful must be the only reason you couldn't be with her. I've always said how smart she is.

Because you were in a danger of your own making.

You are welcome for my cordial manner, my professionalism and my lack of emotion when in your presence. You are even more welcome for the fact that I have never spoken ill of you, I do not answer for your decisions, and I have covered for you this last nine years. You are welcome for the distraction we have provided from your antics, situations, lies and inconsistency. But the veil has fallen and my mouth has dropped open. Likely in awe of how stupid you must be and how stupid you must think I am. Uterine cancer? Just stop already.

Because you don't seem to know who you are dealing with.

You are welcome for my protection, my intelligence and power. You are welcome for my education, my ideals and my income. You are welcome for my health, my sense of self and my standards.

Because I will use them to protect what I love. And to keep you firmly in your place.

Friday, April 4, 2014

A Letter I Can't Send

I can write you a letter

I'll make it so you can see

I'll write it so things look better

And hope that you never read

I don't want to show you

I'm not sure I can go there

I don't think I can take it

The pitying stare

I've written these letters

They never go out

They hold all the secrets

And fill me with doubt

How will you see me

When you really can see

What will you think then

What will it mean?

When you see what I'm made of

When you know what I am

The dark steals the light

And it's all that I am

When the curtain is lifted

And I step on the stage

You'll know what was missing

You'll know my real name

Thursday, March 27, 2014


If you have ever lived in the fear-shame-hate-disgust tail-chasing spiral that is a seething depression, you know that there are moments of despair.

Moments where you are not sure if you ever lived outside of the spiral, you start to think maybe you were born there. Maybe this is where  you will die. These moments wrap around you like a blanket but with all the comfort of a cactus. Once the needles settle in, the pain becomes normal. You get used to it. And you know that pulling them out would casue pain, whereas sitting where you are is the devil you know.

Sometimes, (if you are lost in the fog that is forgetting who you are), you stare off into space.

This can be one of the only useful things about a depression. Since you are devoid of the ability to track time, you can mosey through the spiral at your own pace. If there is a break in the action, you can always peek through the thinning layers and find yourself thinking about things the way a counselor might lead you to your own answers.

I thought to myself:

I am afraid.

What of? it asks.

Well, of not being good enough.

Good enough for what?

As good as others who have gone before me and who have done what I hope to do.

Why do you think they are better?

Because they got it done.

Maybe they were afraid.

Maybe. But they did it.


Well they had more resources. They did it earlier, it was easier, cheaper.

So? You could make the changes and do the things necessary to make it happen. You are resourceful.

I just never have any time....Wait...well...because I fill it......with busy I can't attempt this...because I am afraid to fail....

I shut that show down with the practiced hand of someone who knows just how dangerous that line of thinking can be. Its hard to keep pushing yourself up when the other half of you pulls down.

One of my arms rows the boat one direction and the other arm rows the opposite. The spiral stops sometimes, but only because I'm at war with myself. I can see the entire thing in action- I am afraid (fear) I am not good enough (shame) this is impossible (hate) Other people can do this and I can't (disgust). I can't face this kind of change (fear again). And around we go.

The taste of giving in must be what heroin feels like to an addict. It is desirable beyond compare. The reason I do not give in is that I cannot breathe, and I keep pulling up for air. Each time, it takes a bit more away from the grip. The spiral is not won with heroics, it is won with survival. If I could live without breathing, I would still perish.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Who Turned Out The Lights?

I want you to know that I am not well
But apathy is quiet so I cannot tell

I want to climb this hill, to scream and shout
Reclaim what I am (if I ever find out)

Someone has turned out the lights.

I am being  pulled into a well, I am trying to yell
But the words aren't coming and no one can help

There is an emptiness now where my thoughts used to live
There is a stranger living here - one that takes but won't give

Someone has turned out the lights.

I know this is not the way I used to be
I need to do something to make it leave

But now there's no pain, the agony is a memory
The dull is not an ache, more like a quiet melody

Someone has turned out the lights.

I think I like it here in the dark
I'll make it my home and give it my mark

It's more comfortable, really... I like it this way
Now leave the lights off, close the door. Go away

I have turned out the lights.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Best Job You Can Imagine

One time I wrote here about my horrible job (one of the twenty or so times, really) and to lift my own spirits, I also listed what I thought were among the best jobs. I now realize that I set the bar so very very low, and I am here to rectify that situation.

This blog got its title from the numerous lists I make all the time, and sometimes I bring them here for show and tell. Today is one of those days. Let's not make a list of the best jobs there are. Let's make a list instead of the best jobs you can even fathom. The best there could be. Open your mind to the possibilities of getting paid for...well, anything! That is the measure of success, is it not? To find yourself being compensated for doing that which you find pleasurable. To work and get paid at doing something that you find energizing and fun, or at least being wildly over-paid for something simple and easy.

What if the job did not have to be something found in your high school guidance counselor's guide to getting your life together? What if you could determine what you wanted to do, then get paid for doing it?

Let us have a go at it. In honor of now having a job I do not hate, I'm sure we can come up with something better than mattress tester:

1. Wealth Manager for Leprechauns
2. Unicorn Rancher
3. Puppy Play Date Manager
4. Grass Hill Rolling Quality Control Supervisor
5. Cloud Shape Deciphering Technician
6. Rainbow Construction Foreman
7. Nail Polish Namer
8. Baby Lamb/Hippo/Elephant/Giraffe/Pig Nursery Monitor
9. Travel Photographer (I know, but who doesn't want to do this?)
10. Actor/Actress- my all time (I hate making lasting decisions) favorite. You get to play at being everyone.

Get out your favorite bottle of something lovely and let's dream up new lives...


Lately, an interesting thing has happened. Well to be fair, it started a long time ago. Then it came back. That is really the theme of this situation in the first place.

Like most people, at some points in life, I have experienced deja-vu. I'll be standing at a sink washing my hands, or I will be getting out of a car, looking at a book on a shelf, it makes no difference where I am or what I am doing when it hits. So far so good. Then, sometimes, the deja vu feeling takes on a very strange aura. I feel like I have done this before,  but then the memory of that time comes into focus. I start to see where I was and what I was doing, and I can see it in my mind, it is slipping away and I try to reach out mentally and grasp at it, to get it in my hands so that I can tell why this is making me feel this way and BOOM.

I'll get hit by the freight train of memory and synapse firing that takes me to the floor... I have to let go of trying to figure out what I see in my mind's eye or the swirling rush takes over. Once I let that out of focus and put it out of my mind, I can settle down the spinning room and get my equilibrium again.

The first time this happened was most likely many years ago. I remember a few instances that made me feel awful and one that sent me to a school nurse. But they are distant memories, and it went away for so long. Then about 8 years ago, I went on a vacation. I dreamed about the place we were going to be staying and I saw this wonderful back deck on a house overlooking a beautiful wooded green area. It was a great dream and I was excited for the trip. Then we arrived at the place. I went out to the back door and outside to the deck. Next thing I know I am on the ground. I KNOW in my heart I have been here before, done this before and that this is the exact same as I saw it in my mind. How could that be? I had to let it go and not try to find out, so I could get my footing and go splash off my face.

I felt woozy for a few hours after that. Then it went away. For a few years. It has come back a few times, always dangling some interesting memory in front of my consciousness, never allowing me to grab it. I've talked about this before, and I think I write about it as a way of putting it out there, trying to understand. More than anything I want to know what is on the other side of those shimmering visions that I cannot grab. I would allow any amount of dizziness and spinning to just get it in my hands.

There is a white rabbit that lives in my mind. He beckons me to follow him down the rabbit hole. Why can't I go?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Spin Cycle

I have established on this blog before that I am not in good physical shape. That being said, I am not a monstrous behemoth, roaming the landscape snatching up trees to quell my hunger until the next herd of buffalo comes along.

I thought for sure that I was overweight. Close to obese, maybe. I knew that I needed to work on things, carve out time for myself, stop drinking so much, cut out the empty calories. I've read books. I know what the problem is.

Much like with all exercise starts and stops in my life, I went into the fitness center at my old college with gusto. I had it all figured out (again). Classes were the way to go. Left to my own devices, I will wander the area, pick up a few weights, run for a bit, do a bit of some random machine and then lose interest and wander back to my car. What I needed was a class. Where I was accountable for 45-60 minutes of real exercise. Those were the times I felt like I got a work out. Spin class scheduled for 5:30 pm? That cannot be a coincidence. That is the one for me.

Our instructor showed up ten minutes late, made jokes about people in the class, did not give any instruction on how to use the bikes and had a Manti Te'o meets frat boy vibe about him. Those are the things that went well.

I hustled myself onto the pencil eraser, ahem, bike seat that was perched atop the stationary motorcade to hell. I readied myself for some physical exertion. People said exercise was good for stress and I had a boss who perfected the vice grip. This would be a great day.

Turns out our instructor was into sado masochism and had us 'do hills' for a while. As I was new to this level of exercise, he pointedly asked me if I was alright when my face turned a shade of beet that us Irish do so well. The whole class looked worried as if I might cause a scene involving paramedics. I was determined to show them.

In the end, I made it through. I finished the class. Victory was mine. So was this bike, because I couldn't get off of it. While I mentally calculated how hard it would be to take it down the stairs with me, I was rescued by my husband who had finished working out and knew a problem brewing when he saw it.

We went down the stairs, me leaning heavily on him. I couldn't bend at the knee and I couldn't use any muscles in my legs. No amount of drinking water during the class had stopped the lactic acid build up and I staggered about like a broken ballerina doll to the car.

I don't think I need to tell you that it was the last spin class I went to. I don't know who is more relieved about that.

A Sense Of Humor

The powers that be, the universe, some deity somewhere is laughing at me for my  latest library book (Atheism, A Reader)... and one of them has a sense of humor. I think I like where it is heading.

I has been a long time. You must be wondering what happened. I bet you thought I was missing because I got a book deal. I am sorry to report (so very very sorry) that is not the case. What did happen, while far less lucrative, proved to be a much more valuable lesson.

Let's catch up... (insert montage of scenes from previous episodes here, capturing all the drama and major story movements). I was working at a community college and had a terrible spiteful bald man-baby of a boss who hated women only slightly more than he hated himself. We also had a character at the office, the "Indiana Jones" per his unusual safari clothing, was a sad old man with lots of personal problems, only topped by the boss himself.

One day Indy flipped out, yelling at me and throwing things. My attempts to smooth it over and deflect him made things worse. In less than five minutes' time, I witnessed someone break every workplace rule in an attempt to take their frustration with the boss out on me. Kids, I grabbed onto that vine like Tarzan himself threw it to me. I know a message from the universe when I see one. It was my ticket out and it was made of shiny gold.

That was in October. The ensuing two months were filled with drama. The boss was super nice (not wanting me to sue, I'm sure) then he was awful when he got wind of the fact that someone had written a note to district officials outlining his terrible behaviors and racist, misogynistic, sexist rants as well as misuses of public funds, you name it. It did not take long for him to turn his hate gaze on to me. HR was in a kerfluffle, trying to keep me stringing along all while doing nothing as the bureaucracy tied their hands behind their unusually stupid backs.

I made a move. In life, as in poker, sometimes you need to know when to throw down. Go all in, put on your best face and dare them to call you. It is a risk, to be sure. It paid off brilliantly.

Knowing the deck was stacked in an unfavorable way, I told HR to pound sand, that I did not need their help and that I was sure I could solve things myself with a lawyer and the local media, who just LOVES hearing about misappropriation of public funds right after a messy government shutdown.

A little time slipped by, things got worse, then....a meeting was called. But not with anyone I knew. Someone wanted to meet me. To see if I would be a good fit for them. They had a problem too. We met, it went wonderfully, they liked what they saw. I went back to work thinking - well, whatever. I won't hold my breath. I didn't have to. They uprooted someone to get rid of them and that person got..... MY OLD JOB!

Apparently this curmudgeonly little hobbit was a real 'treat' to work with and was bringing everyone down. The people I met really wanted some good energy and thought I could bring that to the table. A higher power of people got together and a deal was made. I felt a little like a football player being traded to a better team. The analogy ended up being very close.

My old boss got his worst nightmare- an older woman with no interest in going outside her comfort zone to do anything she isn't used to doing, with limited experience and no experience running the kind of office I left. My new boss is a wonderful woman with an outlook in life to help others get the tools and resources they need to be successful and to maintain a professional yet fun office atmosphere. She trusts me to do my job, she answers me honestly and tells me what she is thinking and wants my input.

The forces that be heard everyone's cries. My misery and the problems that plagued another place were put into a blender of mismanaged bureaucratic red tape and what emerged was magic. I have the place of work I deserve. So does my ex boss. Sometimes when you have nothing left, you have nothing left to lose. I took a risk, then another and another. It landed me where I am now. Imagine what might happen if I am willing to bank on myself again. This could be the beginning of a gambling habit that leads to that book deal after all...and there won't even have to be a bunch of cocaine stories involved. Viva la Universe!