🎵 La La La 🎵

I work at a restaurant now. It’s tough and hard and I hate it. I took an average of 2,000 steps per day, while working my previous job. That didn’t include exercise or shopping. Just an average day – 2,000 steps.

Now I average about 24,000 steps per work day. Mostly because I am working doubles (12/13 hour shifts with a short break) and partly because of covid standards, everything is inconveniently located in the kitchen.

It’s a mental struggle for me to go to work everyday and some days it’s even a physical one. It’s 3 am in Dallas right now, I can’t sleep because my legs are tired. The pain between my feet and my thighs is so great that I can’t sleep.

I’ve worked here for over a month and keep trying to pinpoint why this job is so much more taxing than previous restaurant jobs. One of the managers chalks it up to Corona virus and basically that’s all.

We have difficult customers. We also have incredibly rude ones. It is not uncommon that we don’t get tipped on a check and needless to say it is very common to get a low, infuriatingly low tip.

Tonight, a coworker had a party of young ladies celebrating a birthday. Their total was $250, he got a $17 tip.

Let me just also say that we get paid $2.13 an hour as our salary.

I had a party of 10… My third seating at this table for the night. Their total was $350. I got a 10% tip. I was disappointed it wasn’t a 20% tip but at this restaurant people don’t pay servers $70 for their service and that’s okay. I was happy with $35.

I had two standout tables today. The first was early in the dinner rush. A mom, dad and their 6 year old son. The kid was full of energy, which makes me nervous because kids who are full of energy at restaurants tend to run around or make messes, something I wasn’t in the mood for since I had my first seating at the 10 too, along with 3 other tables all at the same time.

This little boy had a big spirit though and he attracted me to him. The first thing he asked me “are you allowed to kiss here?” Excuse me?? I looked for his parents to intervene and decode the message I surely got wrong. The mom made him repeat it and started laughing, she said she and her husband kissed in the parking lot and the little boy said “you can’t do that here! You have to do that at home!”

Then he turned to me and said “Rock. Paper. Scissors.” And made a fist resting on his other palm, which is the international sign for rock, paper scissors showdown… Now.

So we played. He counted. 1,2,3, go….. With out even unfurling his fist, or bothering to look at mine he shouts “I WIN!”

I was so busy I couldn’t even take a sip of water during that rush yet throughout his meal we played 15 rounds of rock, paper, scissors. I won 3 rounds at the very end, assuredly because his mom told him he had to let me win something.

The second memorable moment came late in the evening when I was sat a 1 top. A guy, about my age sat alone at a table for dinner. When I approached him I was met not by friendly casual conversation but short and direct requests.

I had FOUR co-workers come up to me during his stay in the restaurant to tell me he was weird and made them uncomfortable. When he finished his meal he left everything stacked and in order for me to pick up. He left $2 crumpled on the table as a tip for his $30 check. I thought it was nice he left something at all.

A coworker came up to me after I cleared his table and as I was changing my gloves by the bar. He walked back in to the restaurant and made eye contact with me and headed straight for me. I assumed he may have forgotten something. My coworker grabbed my arm as I was about to approach him and said, “he looks like he’s about to open fire.”

I looked at her with confusion and proceeded to meet the man half way. He pulled out another crumpled dollar bill and handed it to me while saying “I found another dollar, I want you to have it.”

I smiled and thanked him. I turned to my coworker and told her what happened and that he probably has Asperger’s. She felt awful for having said such a thing, I could see her mood drop immediately.

I get angry at work over a lot of small, petty, insignificant stuff. I had the realization tonight that I’m embarrassed of my situation. I am embarrassed to be 35 and basically starting over, again.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with starting over, at any age. If you were to come to me at the age of 60 to tell me you were going to start over, I would encourage you to do it because of Thoreau.

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation’ and go to the grave with the song still in them,” as misquoted by the NY Times. The part about the song unsung isn’t in the immediate quote and since I’ve never been able to make it through Walden, I don’t know if he said that at all. However, how true the sentiment is none the less .

Especially now as we all sharing a form of desperation. Even if only for the way things were in February. Let alone last year, or when we were children and filled with the innocence and joy like my 6 year old customer from earlier.

One can’t wish away their past anymore than one can wish into their future. That’s just not how this works.

Here is another part from the same excerpt by Thoreau: A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work.

If my heart were speaking, it would say that no, it’s not okay to sacrifice life for a paycheck. It would say to play rock, paper, scissors 15 times with someone who has no idea how to play, just to see his face light up when he exclaims “I win!” It should be noted he was equally excited when he exclaimed “you win!”

It’s a tough time right now which has been added to already full plates and despite breaking points. I don’t have a big lesson or a plea for youto sing your unsung songs. I just wanted you to know what I was thinking at, now, 4 am in Dallas.

I’ll be at work at 10:30 am tomorrow and will leave around midnight. I’m too exhausted to sing my song but… Well, here we are.

I had a nervous breakdown. Wanna hear about it?

You know every now and then, I think you might like to hear something from me nice and easy. But there’s just one thing, I never ever do nothing nice and easy. I always do it nice, but rough. So I’m gonna take the beginning of this blog and do it… easy. Then we’re gonna do the finish rough. This is the way I do… a nervous breakdown.

The epiphany

Remember in “Back to the Future” when Marty starts disappearing from the photo? Well that’s me – that’s what was happening by choosing not to live engagedly or brightly or boldly or whatever the fuck. I was fading into the background of my own picture.

So almost three weeks ago I got in my car and drove to New York. During that highly emotional drive, on the verge of tears or in the middle of tears (I can’t remember and what’s the difference at this point) I had this moment where I said to myself “they almost got me, they almost killed my spirit. but they didn’t ha-ha *raised fist in triumph*” and literally stopped crying or stopped feeling sorry for myself, or whatever the fuck.

I haven’t told anyone about that moment because I didn’t know what to do with it or why it was important to communicate. Recently I remember telling my friend that I went to the grocery store and the check out guy was flirting with the pretty girl in front of me. Full on conversation and you can visibly see him light up because he is talking to this pretty girl. When it was my turn to check out he flat lined.

Granted, I don’t need to be flirted with by a 25 year old check out bro for any sense of validation or flattery. What it was was a moment where I thought “oh, I’m THAT age now. I am THAT person.” I am that woman who fades into the background. I am invisible. I am Janine Garrafolo in”truth about Cats and Dogs.” That’s what killed me, that I was feeling invisible.

When I am “on,” I’m on. Those of you who know me know that magic, that spark, whatever the fuck it is that my mom has and my dad had that just makes us radiate. Jake doesn’t have it. He’s just a nice guy. (hahaha – he’s gonna kill me) Anyways, we are sources of light and we shower people in that light.

When I have my light turned out, man is it dark. All my life I’ve struggled with finding someone who could turn their light on for me. Almost like what we would call a charging station.

I feel like everyone drains me. And not in a greedy way, I think source-of-energy is something people try to find naturally. I find myself being that source for other people. I don’ t really have a stable source. My friend Bre is probably the closest thing to a source for me. She’s my closest friend on a soul level. The last time I spoke with her, she was depleted. She had given – no, I don’t want to say give, I want to say shared because she is a noble one. So, she had shared her energy with her group because they needed it because this is a really, really fucking hard time for a lot of people right now.

I feel like so many of us are depleted.

Which brings me to work. For months I felt them take and take and mother fucking take all my goddamn precious, invaluable (it means more than valuable) energy and just waste it. After being quite vocal about me having nothing left – IN JUNE – I was met with “well we can’t give you time off during the summer.”

My manager kept saying, and I mean multiple times over the course of the last few months “when this is over the company will pay for you to get a massage.” Each time she said that to my face I would look her dead in the eye and say “I don’t need a massage, I need time off to decompress and recharge.”

Even for the 4th of July – which fell on a Saturday – I had to ask and eventually demand that Friday off because they weren’t going to give it to us. Instead the owner had taken a poll with the techs and the 5 of them decided to take an extra day around the Christmas holiday and not have and extra day in July off. I had been working 6 days a week already during the “busy” season, so finally they agreed to give me that Friday off – unpaid.

My last regular day of work there was where I hit my limit. I mean, I completely broke. Completely broken and with un-repairable damage, that they could never or would never be able to mend, even if they had tried. So that was a Friday. I went in the next day for my regualar Saturday shift, where I worked in the office alone and knew I had nothing left to give. I sat in my chair that day unable to do work, unable to browse the internet. I was broken.

I went home that afternoon and spoke with my family and with out question, hesitation or judgement we all decided regardless of the consequences I needed to go “home” to see them.

So, I got fired.

The meltdown

One of the differences I’m experiencing this time compared to any other times is how bleak and unhopeful I am for the future. Something happened, my light went out, my person faded. There was no point, or meaning in anything.

What’s the point of creating art? If the world is falling apart my stupid art isn’t going to fix it.

That is a true statement. There are some good pieces of art in the world, but how many throw life altering change into the universe? Not many and certainly not my dinosaurs-in-outer-space weird ass shit.

Art, my art, doesn’t provide a light for me. It’s more of a step in kindness. Making art is humbling because I’m not very good at it, so when I try my best and step back and take a look at the finished piece it’s more of a “well, I did my best.”

Yet, the creation of art inspires hope. When I watch Hamilton (or listen to it really) I don’t think oh I wish I wrote that. I think man I wish I could write something as cool, or appreciated or as connected to as that. Good art inspires other art to be made. There is magic in that cycle. Not necessarily enough to give an artist their own meaning – see: all artists who have ever existed, ever.

In addition to the loss of meaning phase of a meltdown, one might be familiar with another aspect – the anger. My anger has been out reaching levels I haven’t seen in decades. One thing that gets me fuming is seeing people struggling and not fighting back. Which is funny because, and this is speaking from the lowest, darkest, scariest, rock bottomest place that today during a pretty severe, debilitating panic attack I accused myself of not fighting.

I need $180 in the next 6 days to cover the rest of my bills. I have recently become a “food delivery partner” and instead of going out tonight to chip away at the $180 I had a full blown panic attack and literally couldn’t even get out of bed (at 5pm) for almost 2 hours. During the attack, when the pressure in my chest and the weight I was carrying on my shoulders made me feel like my body was going to explode I realized I was fighting. I was fighting with every fucking piece of my soul.

Every day, every hour of each day I feel like I am blindly hanging off a rocky, mountainous cliff desperately grabbing for a ledge to continue my rocky ascent to get me the fuck out of the pit of despair.

Within my bouts of anger at literally everything and anything in the world, I wonder how people haven’t overturned the government. Like, for reals though. All I can imagine is because we are all so focused on our climbs and not falling off that all of our energies are going into our hanging off a ledge that we can’t see or don’t even bother to see that this was a man made pit and that we didn’t voluntarily jump in.

Expecting another human, right now to be a source of light or energy is just not something feasible. We are all hanging off our ledges.

Walking on broken glass

When the world was closing in and I thought I wasn’t going to be able to get through it, I kept fighting. Right now the world is not my fight. BLM and all these innocent people that are being shot and killed is not the fight that I can fight against right now. One can not give from an empty cup. This is an age old lesson.

Randomly in July I made a mistake in not sending funds to my checking account to clear my rent payment. I was out of town and set up my payment but forgot to set the transfer up. When I got back home and remembered and checked my account online I was charged $50 returned check fee $120 late fee and $10 per day, every day that my rent was late. I flipped my shit. Luckily, since I’ve never been late with a rent payment they reversed all the charges, except the $50 which was fair, it was totally my fault for letting it bounce. I remember getting so mad though because I had the money. I even had the money to cover the fee. But what if I hadn’t? What if someone had lost their job and was scrambling to get enough, being set back $200 to potentially $500 IN FEES is absolutely ridiculous. It’s the type of anger that I get from loss of control.

It feels we are not in control of a lot of things. Corporations and money rule everything and we are all absolutely slaves to that. How many people stand up and fight against that? How many people spend their lives chasing the dollar so that THEN they can start living? But by god do I want to win the lottery.

I spent day after day at work wishing I could be home instead of work, with free time so that I could paint, write, or even lay on my couch and watch movies. Now that I find myself with the time I can’t enjoy any of it because the bell jar is hoovering heavy and low.

I started college this week. Monday was the first day. It’s all online. The weight of that, on top of the stress I already have tangled up inside was enough to send me into oblivion today. My cheap little computer is chugging along and doing it’s best to stay in the game. Today while working on some assignments, instead of getting mad at my little laptop whose space bar only works every 4th time, I was so grateful that it’s working at all.

I have two weeks left to decide if I’m going to stay in school this semester, based only on whether or not I find work since the rest of my tuition is due end of month but if I drop out, I get a $700 refund. That’s a lot of money to me right now.

So, after my panic attack and me sort of collecting myself again and continuing on I felt like the end of a road trip movie. The kind where the hood flies up, the car gets set on fire, a deer gets caught in the back seat and John Candy drives on the wrong side of the freeway, merrily to a Ray Charles tune. In both movies referenced above, our heroes make it to their destination and they are, all 4, all the better for their tumultuous journey.

The solution

Fooled you. I don’t have a solution, I don’t really even have a resolution except to keep fighting, keep walking on broken glass. In this state, yes there are things I have control over and some things I don’t have control over. Deciphering and weeding through each one is exhausting right now.

Failed mental health is a real thing and it’s a real, scary thing. I do know that I will be fine. While texting with my other best friend, Annie, she said “I feel like good things always happen to you at the right time.” I agreed.

I can honestly say that I have never been in such a dark place as I am now and have been over the course of the last month. Life is a very intimidating place when you’ve lost meaning and connection. I can’t tell you how it’s all going to be fine, but I am pretty sure it will be. Every day is a new day and some days I can get out of bed and fight from there and others I can’t get out of bed, or can’t leave my apartment and I fight from here.

Either way, it’s okay.

Thanks for listening. Please send memes.

Also, Casey, I’m sorry I missed your birthday, I’ve been thinking about you every day since and have been meaning to reach out. You’re one of my all time favorite people and such a great supporter. I love you. Happy belated. #codlife.

Day 31: the day after

I woke up at 6:30 this morning to go on a hike. Take that in for a minute. I. Woke at 6:30 am, on purpose. On a Sunday. To go for a hike.

My friend picked me up at 7 and off we went. There’s a nature preserve about 30 minutes south that has trails to walk. They are short, intertwined trails. The maps on site are for directional purpose and don’t explain what type of hike each trail holds.

As luck would have it, we picked the hardest. It was a never ending incline. All in all we did 4,4 miles and the equivalent of 38 floors of stairs. I’m telling you – all incline.

As I was dying trying to pull my body up these stairs we just kept saying how good it felt to be there and to be out moving our bodies.

When we finished it was warm, we were tired and starving. We decided to go out to breakfast. It was just after 10 when we ordered our first margaritas.

They had a great menu of greasy American classics and rich Mexican staples. I surprised myself when I opted for build-your-own breakfast tacos.

I chose eggs, bacon, mushrooms, black beans an pico with a side of fruit. Technically the only off wholeo thing was the tortillas and the chips we ate. We were really starving and I have no regrets!

When I got home I didn’t feel like drinking more. We had our 2 margs and great food, by the time I got home I wanted to rest.

I took a shower and spent the rest of day bundled on the couch. It’s 9:30 and I’m in bed already. My body is tired from today and I think that’s great.

I’m really looking forward to my walk around the lake tomorrow after work. I have my wholeo lunch packed and I’m ready for a new week! 💪