Current Affairs

Bye, Mitty

[RIP] MittensToday my Mom did a very hard thing and took Mittens, the family cat, to be put to sleep. She lived 21 years. 21! My mom is a good kitty mama. And Mitty was an awesome cat. You should have seen all the things she killed in her heyday. Mice trembled at the sound of her name.

I gave her that stupid name when I was 14 years old, old enough to have given her a better name. She wore it well, though.

Rest well, little girl.


How I'm Doing Today

LightsBeen feeling a little off-center today. Been feeling a little ho hum.

No real reason, really. Nothing I can pin down under a thumb. Probably something to do with a face someone made or a reponse taken wrongly or any number of things I've ascribed in my head that do not exist in real life.

I'm traipsing on the border of full-fledged anxiety. Keeping it in line by remembering how much of a prisoner it once made me. An angry, vengeful, frightened captive. Today I walk the razor-wire fence of fear, but only peer in for impulsive glances.

That I can find myself on the outside looking in rather than tossed about and sucked under by the current of worry and dread is an evolution I have clawed to achieve.  I have not won, but I am no longer helpless.

I think back on those who suffered due to my struggle, and it breaks my heart. They cannot know the me now without remembering the me then, the me that turned my neuroses into weapons. Casualities of an inside war.

Today has been just okay. But it' s long from over. Later I'll have dinner with seven wonderful people at a fancy restaurant that has been featured on TV for its fine cuisine, and with this food I will drink fine wine and laugh and share and give and take. I do not fear this event in the ways that once would cause me to flake out an hour in advance. In fact, I arranged it. Made all the plans myself.

Letting go of embedded fears has left room inside me for others. Not just one other on whom I am fully dependent. A whole host of others who enrich my life and keep me bouyant and happy. Others who will not only fit in the space left vacant by the nervousness, but actively keep it at bay. People who will not only take me out for shots of hard liquor when I am in tears, but buy them for me, too.

Anyway, today has been just okay, wherein just okay is a damn sight better than so many of the days that came before. 


Life Update

Oh, hi.

Look at this, I've had time to come up for air.  And it's bright up here.

So, I don't plan to write about work too much here on Sparkwood & 21, as I'd like to keep my job. Sometimes my judgement about what is good to share with the world at large and what isn't is skewed. I'm an oversharer. I love to tell a good story. But lately I'm becoming striving to be more strategic and logical and less reactionary and emotional, while still always trusting my gut. Always. Every time on that last point. Speaking of points, mine is that I've decided it's logical to just omit the work stories and avoid any pitfalls.

That said! Hoo boy, I've been busy. "My plate," as they say in office lingo, is overflowing. 

I am currently running twelve (12) social media accounts for six different CBS Local properties: CBS 5, KCBS, CW Bay Area, Alice Radio, Live 105 and 997 Now. Singlehandedly. I post literally hudreds of times a day, everything from breaking news to "meet Carly Rae Jepsen." Additionally, I am doing social media relations/coaching with on-air staff. 

Socialmediapapers

It's a handful, and I still haven't quite gotten a handle on it yet. I need better time management skills yesterday. Always feeling behind at work is why there hasn't been much activity here.

Which is sad.

But! I read a blog post from my friend's girlfriend about how she uses her blog as a record, a way to remember what has happened, and that's such a wonderful reason to have a blog. My goal is to record more things here starting now.


Goodbye Apron, Hello (Again) HootSuite

You either make time to write or you don't. It's a priority or it's not. Having an excess of time one one's hands does not compel one to write. I still don't have it narrowed down exactly what compels people to write, but I'm highly suspect that an excess of free time is a motivator to sit down and put words down.

Several months ago I gave up my media job in San Jose and began waiting tables. The goal was to spend a couple of years carving out a career as a freelance writer. I was going to go back to my roots to put that magazine journalism degree to good use. I was taking a leap of faith in my own abilities, discipline and drive. I was prepared to be poor. I was asked what I wanted to do, decided, then threw myself into it whole-hog. I was going to write.

I've published nothing since. In 7 months I've earned not a single byline. It's not for lack of writing. There has been lots and lots of writing. But when I began to explore what I wanted out of this endeavor, what I was best at, where my strengths were, I discovered I didn't want to write articles for newspapers, websites and magazines. I didn't want to be a freelance journalist.

I want to tell my own stories.

Whether in raw essay form or barely hidden behind the veil of fabricated characters, the power of my voice exists within the stories I have accumulated. Telling you what happened, secrets and all, is what I'm best at. Telling my tales is where all the impetus lies, the real reason I sit down to write most days. Everything else distracts from this best goal.

Of course, coming to terms with what I am supposed to be writing meant coming to terms with the knowledge that people will be hurt. Telling one's stories means being brave and taking huge interpersonal risks. It means pushing down the voice inside you that demands, "This is off-limits. Stop your story." And that voice is very loud.

Deciding to tell my stories also means finding myself in tears on a regular basis. Or as angry as hot lava as writing a passage reveals more about that incident than I had previously recalled. Or dripping in self-doubt. Telling one's stories is a constant therapy session. It's exhausting.

Much like waiting tables is exhausting. I had forgotten how much it takes out of you.

Waitress

 

I just remembered that I waited tables and tended bar while going to college. Surely, I could do that again and write on the side. Waiting tables would free me up to carve out that freelancer writer life I thought I wanted. Waiting tables would pay the bills while I created a sustainable income for myself doing what I love.

But waiting tables is fucking hard! Even working part-time, the work leaves me both mentally and physically worn out. It's stressful, high-impact and it leaves this nearly 35-year-old beat and with a backache. And it's certainly not as lucrative as I had imagined. You don't get to come back to the restaurant industry after a decade away, now living in one of the most acclaimed dining cities in the world, and get primo shifts at Michelin-star rated restaurants. I have friends who pull 80 grand a year waiting tables, but they have been working their way into these choice positions all along, and they are absolutely phenomenal at their trade.

Truth be told, I'm just a mediocre server. I was told by my dear friend Leo, a friend I made at the restaurant where I work now, "you're not a restaurant person." At the time I was offended. He refused to go into detail; that's how Leos do. But I thought about it for days: "How am I not a restaurant person?"

One beer-soaked evening (for those in the industry there are many), Leo indulged me and expounded further: "You care too much. You let people get to you. I can see you standing at your tables with Pissed Off written all over your face. If you let your tables get under your skin, you are not a great server."

He was right. And putting it that way made me feel less like a failure at serving. I'm decent at it. But I'm never going to get a gig at The French Laundry. Not happening.

And so, because freelance articles were not where I was focusing my writing efforts and because it became apparent that, for me, waitressing was a dead-end enterprise, I began to panic. OH MY GOD, I thought, I'm going to be a 40-year-old waitress barely scraping rent money together. The idea kept me up at night. How was I going to retire someday? Ever take a vacation? Have adequate health insurance, for fuck's sake?

Lucky for me--I am often lucky for reasons beyond my comprehension--a career angel came knocking at my door. A position for CBS Local Digital Media became available: Social Media Coordinator. And the guy who recruited me to come out from Tennessee in 2007 asked if I wanted to come back to the world of Twittering and Facebooking for the media.

It was an offer too good to refuse. It includes a 401K, sick days (!), vacation time and the most precious thing of all: subsidized health insurance. Mr. Dentist, it's been too long, here I come.

I start next Monday. I'll be back at Broadway and Battery where my tenure in San Francisco began. I'm thrilled. It's the smart, responsible path to take, and I'm so much more secure in my well-being knowing something more financially stable is around the corner. At present I fear a bone break or sudden illness like children fear closet monsters. A hospital visit would put me back so far I'd never recover.

And I'll make time for writing. If I want to get it done, I will. I don't need a part-time job to tell my stories, just the wherewithal to get my ass in the chair and put the words down. John Grisham managed to pump out best-sellers while working 100 hours a week as a practicing attorney. I can tell my tale and also work 40. A media career path does not preclude literary accomplishment. I'm going to prove this theory.

October 1st I'm back to an office job. My desk is huge, my co-workers awesome and my bank account is breathing a sigh of relief. I'm excited. I feel incredibly blessed to have the opportunity.

For now, that's all the life news that is fit to self-publish.


The Story of My Sexual Assault on Muni in San Francisco

Something happened to me yesterday that has happened to millions of women in cities all over the world. This is my story of sexual assault on public transportation, a bus in downtown San Francisco:


I was sitting in a seat by the window across from the rear doors with headphones on, listening to music, being careful to hide my loaner phone in my purse after I had my iPhone stolen out of my hand last week. A man sat down beside me in the empty seat.

I did what I usually do and quickly, discreetly sized up my seatmate. He was a disheveled middle-aged man with blonde hair that was either dusty or graying. He smelled strongly of alcohol on his breath, body and clothes. He didn't smell like piss and weeks upon weeks of not showering, like other unfortunate people who sometimes take the bus, but he looked like he was swiftly headed in that direction. This man was clearly intoxicated and behaving strangely. He swayed in his seat and repeatedly made the sign of the cross, which is highly disconcerting, let me assure you. When women would board and stand next to where he sat he would try to engage them. They would quickly move away. I should have followed them.

He tried to engage me as well. My defense was to aggressively ignore him on the very crowded bus by staring out the window and keeping my headphones on. I had just three stops to go. When he tried to talk to me (words I couldn't hear due to the music) I shook my head no and held my hand up, flattened, to signal that I wished to be left alone.

Muni Bus

The bus continued to lurch down busy Market Street. I pulled the cord to signal that I wanted off when the bus was due to stop again at 5th and Market.

I stood a few seconds before the bus came to a halt, a clear indiction that I was getting out and off the bus. When the bus stopped the man to my right swiveled his legs around rather than stand, so I took a wide step to get around him and as I did he grabbed me between my legs.

Without thinking I turned and swung my heavy purse containing a server's book, a hardback journal and loose, sharp pens at his head, but barely connected. I think the purse grazed his face. I screamed FUCK YOU, also without thinking, and fled off the bus.

I stepped down onto the concrete platform, my head swimming in a raucous tide. A young man beside me asked what happened. "He grabbed me between the legs," I told him. 

The young man shook his head. "And that man said, 'What?,' like he didn't do nothing."

My legs moved forward in spite of myself. I was floating down the sidewalk on Market Street trying to comprehend what had just happened. I was trying hard not to vomit. I felt ill; I was physically revolted. I shuddered and tears collected in the corners of my eyes. 

My lip quivered as I crossed the busy mall to the elevator that would take me to the restaurant where I work. Everything was foggy. My feelings were foggy and my vision was foggy and my mind was foggy. I couldn't believe what had just happened, and I couldn't believe how awful it made me feel. 

As I hit the button in the elevator for the 4th floor I realized for the first time I'd been sexually assaulted. I'd considered whether or not this was a big deal, checked the facts against my feelings and decided that yeah, it kind of was.

I walked into the restaurant in a daze. I walked over to put my bag away when my friend Leo put up his hand to give me a high five. I blurted out, "I was just sexually assaulted on the bus."

I told Leo and Marc more specifically what happened and the embarrassment rose in my face and the revulsion in my gut. I sat down at Table 100, put my forehead on my forearm, burying my face, and cried really hard.

Poor Leo and Marc stood there mostly silent. "This fucking city," was certainly uttered, as were several I'm sorries. They were both very comforting in their presence, but they seemed at a loss for words. And who can blame them?

"Do you want a glass of wine?," Leo offered. I looked down at my hands and they were shaking.

"YES," was my emphatic reply.

He went and poured a hefty glass of gruner veltliner, my favorite, and handed it to me. "Here. Slam this."

And I did. It helped immensely. My nerves were completely frayed and I was a mascara-y mess and I had a new two-top at Table 49. I freshened my make-up in the bathroom and by the time I took the couple's drink order the wine was kicking in and my nervous system began to unclench slightly. 

I made iced tea for the lady at 49 and waited for the bartender to pour a Trumer when I felt the first bubbles of boiling anger begin to rise within me. I was moving through the stages of grief very quickly. Suddenly I was fucking pissed.

I wanted to punch someone--specifically the asshole who grabbed me between my legs. Just typing that sends puke rising into my throat. I can recall with precise accuracy the sensation of his hand between my legs and I'm not sure I'll ever forget it. It felt like wrongness and violation and horror and evil. 

Marc, the sous chef, sensed my anger. He stood watching me fume.

"Is it too soon to make a joke?," he asked, knife in hand.

"It's been 15 minutes," I said. "I think it's probably overdue."

He grinned. "I'm going to say I was sexually assaulted, too, because I could really use a glass of wine right now."

I laughed and laughed and was grateful for the levity. And the wine.

As my shift continued I thought more about what had happened. "I was just wearing my work uniform," I thought. "It wasn't even anything..." I stopped myself before I could think it all the way. I was about to consider what I'd been wearing in trying to process what had happened to me. 

After urging from others I decided to go to the police precinct and report the crime today. I was reminded that there are cameras on Muni buses and that there might be viable video of him touching me. Even if not, these crimes are grossly underreported and even one more record of this kind of assault might mean more police presence in the future.

So, after my short lunch shift this afternoon I took a cab to 6th and Bryant to the Southern station to file a report. I took a cab because the next bus was reportedly 47 minutes away and I felt unsafe walking. That happens when you've had your crotch grabbed on public transit and the police precinct is in a sketchy-ish part of town. 

I entered and told the security guard I was there to report a crime. He told me to walk to a counter where officers were protected behind thick plastic or glass. I had to use a phone to talk to the policeman on the other side.

"I'm here to report a crime. I was groped on the bus."

"What happened?"

"I was groped on the bus. He grabbed me between my legs as I was exiting."

"Where did he grab you? Sorry, but you have to be more specific."

"He grabbed my vulva." I tried to tamp down my embarrassment.

"Okay. What do you want to do? File a report?" His tone made his words sound more like, "Are you serious? You came all the way down here for this?"

"Yes," I told him. Yes, I wanted to file a report.

He asked for more information. I gave it to him. He told me to wait. Then he came out and spoke with me face to face.

"We have two options here. We have a Muni task force. We can give them this info and they can be on the lookout for this guy. Or you can file a full report, but it won't do anything."

He made sure to tell me this guy wouldn't be caught even if I filed a report. For a moment I hedged. For a split second I considered not filing a report. He nearly convinced me. Then I remembered what I came there to do.

"I realize this guy probably won't be caught, but this crime is underreported and I want to do my due diligence and make sure this one is. And if it means more police presence later, then even better." He did not agree with me; he said nothing. The amount of sympathy he managed could fit into a thimble.

I waited more. While waiting with no where to sit for many minutes. I considered the infirm or pregnant or elderly women who would be very physically uncomfortable waiting to file a similar report. With nothing to be said of the emotional discomfort.

Finally I was given a slip of paper with my case number on it. I was told that usually sexual battery requires "skin on skin contact," but that that was how my case would be labeled. He told me I could follow the case online.

I initiated a hand shake. He finally, finally mustered that he was sorry this happened. He told me to be careful. It sounded a lot like, "don't let this happen to you again."

A less confident woman would not have filed this crime report for sexual assault. I know this, because I nearly didn't.

I have a lot more processing of emotions to do before I write more about what happened to me and how the situation was treated by SFPD. Plus, there is more to be revealed with how this case will be handled. But I wanted to write about this now for my own therapeutic reasons, but also to shine a light on a crime that happens regularly and that just might be downplayed by the people in charge of our safety. 

If this happens to you I urge you to report it to the police. Do not let them convince you to walk away without filing a report. Being groped against your will on the subway or bus or anywhere is sexual battery, and you deserve to stand up and have your assault counted.

More soon.


She Shines in the Darkness of His Absence

Much like Chris, I won't be contented until I write something about the passing of Karsten Soltauer. And Karsten and I weren't nearly as close as he and Chris were. Though, closeness or the illusion thereof is one of the points made in Chris' terrific blog post. He asks, "how close are any of us," really? "How well do I really know any of my friends?"

That is something I've thinking a lot about since I learned that my friend Kate's partner of nearly fifteen years left her, left us all. A shock like this thrusts the subjects of love, mortality and time into the forefront of our minds, but I've also been thinking about goals, waste, challenges and art.

But, mostly I've been thinking about Kate. And I find myself in awe.

200712280079

I have no doubt my friend is gutted and riddled with grief about the loss of the love of her life. It's clear to anyone who was around them that Kate loved Karsten with a richness that shined right through her, and he the same for her. Perhaps it is this rich love, in part, that has allowed Kate to harness her mind's power and use it for good. I mean, just read what she wrote in a blog post following Karsten's death:

I think perhaps the key to processing a loss this immense and intense is to embrace the bothness of it: I have never experienced one emotion without the potential for its complement. I am nowhere near the master observer of absurdity that Karsten was, but I have been his student for nearly fifteen years and maybe I can see it a bit more than most. But if devastating loss is a swing to the left from the emotional equilibrium, I sense there is the opening of an often unnoticed rather large area to the right, into gratitude, appreciation, abundance, humor, and moments of joy and peace. 

[...]

Like Karsten's "Curvature of the Mind" series, as he later named the swirling marbled pieces, there are treasures to be found in the chaos. You just have to really look for them. And pencil stroke by pencil stroke, you shade out what doesn't contribute to the picture you want to remain. But the bothness of it is that just as the oil and water needed to be mixed to make the paper, and the darker shadowing needs to be drawn in to see the colorful image more clearly, so do the dark emotions bring contrast to the lighter ones, and we can seek those out if we choose to. At least, that's my hope. 

This perspective in the face of tragedy is phenomenal to behold. The sheer hope she displays here is stunning. In just five short days she's taught me invaluable lessons from 2,500 miles away. Witnessing Kate's public reaction to her partner's passing illustrates to me ways I can better live my life and take in the world around me. This is what Karsten did for Kate, too.

What I have been reminded of, loud and clear, is this: we get to choose how we feel about things. We also get to choose how we behave in the face of tragedy. And for each person that will be different, and that is okay. 

I am so grateful to Kate for this gift of insight. Her positivity and outlook during this time is precisely why she enchants nearly every one she meets. 

We lost one of the good ones when Karsten left. In his absence is a darkness Kate will never shake, but that allows her wisdom and attitude to stand out all the more. And oh, how she shines.

[Photo of Karsten and Kate by the talented Chris Wage, who has more photos of Karsten in his Flickr stream]


Hey, You Wanna Hear a Good Story?

Eve Batey and Justin Beck were very nice to ask me to talk to them about why I decided to leave social media as a career and go back to waiting tables and writing. The conversation was recorded for their media podcast Punching Down. 

Eve and Justin came all the way to me in the Mission, and Justin even brought beer. And not cheap Miller, neither. 

It only took one Day Beer to get my big mouth moving. 

You can listen to me talk Nashville is Talking, what happened after I flounced out of WKRN in a huff, how my work translated in San Francisco, how taking that job in New York was a mistake and why after a short stint in San Jose I said, "Fuck it. I'll just wait tables and write."

Hear all that stuff here.


What I Did on Wednesday: An Ode to the Comeliness of Northern California

One of the best things about living in San Francisco is that it exists in Northern California. It's an often-heard argument when someone is touting the benefits of Bay Area living: you can go from the city to surfing to skiing and back again in a single day, if you so choose.

On Wednesday I had the day off, so my friend Leo picked me up (friends with cars are the best friends) and we headed north over the Golden Gate Bridge to the magical wonderland known as Marin County, where public transit is scarce, people are crazy rich and the vistas are absolutely breathtaking. That one county alone is home to Muir Woods redwood forest, the Marin Headlands, Stinson Beach, Mount Tamalpais and Point Reyes National Seashore. Point Reyes, specifically Tomales Point, is where Leo and I went.

It took a little bit of time, but the drive was gorgeous. The fact that one can drive to something so spectacular in approximately 90 minutes from the confines of the middle of the City remains a mind-blower for me. I mean, look at this business:

10 Tomales Point
[not my photo, click image for source]

That is some majestic shit, is it not?

I think I got on Leo's nerves with all the oohing and ahhing and being so appreciative of the splendor. I used the word lucky a lot and simply wouldn't shut up about how pretty the whole thing is. Then I realized the difference: Leo grew up by the beach in Southern California and I grew up in Tennessee, landlocked.

For me, up until age 30, going to the ocean was a big fucking deal. Tennessee has gorgeous lakes and rivers aplenty, but getting to see the vast, overwhelming sea involved a lot of money, lots of packing and planning, plus a ten hour car ride. Going to the ocean was a vacation, something I would look forward to for weeks. Now I can hop into a Honda and be there before two episodes of This American Life have lapsed, and I'm still not over it. The closeness of such wonder makes me positively giddy.

My friend Leo is a little more restrained in his enthusiasm for things, in general. To say the least.

"Why does everyone we pass have to say hi? I don't get it. And I refuse to participate."

"Because they want to acknowledge the other people's great choice on how to spend a day," I told him.

"I'm not going to do it."

"Man, you'd really hate living in the South where everyone says hi to everybody."

We only trekked about a mile before our day hike became a wildlife safari.

Leo saw them first, about 15 elk just chilling on a ridge overlooking the sea. Most were eating the vegetation at their feet. But some were looking dead at us.

"Don't look them in the eye! That's a signal for attack." Leo looked down at me dubiously, and I admitted I didn't know shit about elk or their attack habits.

We discussed the possibility of being charged by an angry elk:

"Do elk get angry?," he asked.

"Don't we all?"

We also discussed the possibility of being trampled in an elk stampede. 

What we didn't discuss is whether or not we should hike ahead since we were so close to the herd. We just plowed ahead with implicit human right-of-way.

"Oh, I'm so glad you two came along!" It was a female hiker with a French, I think, accent and a red face. She seemed scared. "I wasn't sure what the elk etiquette was."

"Oh, we don't know what it is either. We just went. We discussed the possiblity of being trampled to death, though."

She didn't seem comforted by this in any way.

We continued ahead and suddenly there were even more elk.

"What if they are intentionally herding us down this trail?," we joked. "We're going to turn around and be surrounded."

We also wondered where the hell they came from. I joked that perhaps they had risen from the sea like in The Last Unicorn, but Leo had never seen The Last Unicorn, so I described to him in detail the awful Red Bull his mean boss King Haggard. 

After taking in more of the amazing scenery ["This looks like some 'Lord of the Rings' shit."], we turned around and headed back. That's when we ran across a coyote so close to us I almost felt like calling for it like a dog. I'd never seen one before, much less one that near to me. It was incredible.

There were more elk sightings, a beetle the size of my fist, a near-miss snake incident and also couple of quail thrown in the mix. Cliffs shot up from the shore, and the sun shown in such a way that you couldn't tell where the sea ended and the sky began, and all of this is just right next door, just a short car ride away, and it's free. Wild and wonderful and free.

I'm so very glad I came back.


How I Kicked Anxiety's Ass

Going back as far as I can remember, I was always a slave to ever-present anxiety. I lost friends, never made them, avoided events, stayed in bed, flaked, backed out and wasted more time that I can really wrap my mind around on worry. Incessant, gut-grinding, sometimes vomit-inducing anxiety.

It ruled my life. I self-medicated with this and that. Spent three years in therapy. Did two stints on SSRIs, the last prescription of which I genuinely believe saved my life. But, still, most of the time it kicked my ass. The anxiety almost always won. Sometimes I would get a glimpse of the way things were with clarity, without the cloak of worry, and I would see for a second what it could be like. Those fleeting moments pushed me onward. That and a survivor's will.

Sometimes the worry would be about nothing at all. A gnawing nervousness in my belly, my throat closed, my heart beating so quickly I swore it would skip beats sometimes. Other times it would be about something very specific, very real in my life and something I was deathly afraid of. Then there were the times I was scared to leave my house. Or answer the door. Or take a phone call.

I write this in the past tense not because I have completely erased my anxiety, but because I now own it. It doesn't direct the moves of my life anymore. It still rears its nasty, powerful head, but I understand it for the facade it really is, nothing but a creation of a mind that has the power to reverse its very existence.

I just moved in with a good egg named Beth. She allowed me and my two cats to move in to her beuatiful home, and I want very much to cultivate a respectful roommate relationship. This involves making sure that the cats don't shit or piss on anything, claw at precious items or get too much cat hair on anything.

Just a couple of days after I plopped down my things and set out a litter box, my new roomie flew to New York for a trip. It was just a couple of days after that when I noticed a rip in the lovely, fragile curtains that shade the living room. "Oh God," I thought. "One of the cats leapt for a bird on the other side of the pane, got a claw caught in the curtain and tore it. Obviously, this is an heirloom curtain that her great-grandmother sewed just before the birth of her beloved grandfather."

I began down a familiar road. I locked the cats out of the living room, sat down and began to freak out. Two days in and I'd already let the cats ruin something precious. I was such a shit head. What was I going to do? I would buy her new curtains, obviously, but how could I replace the sentimentality now lost to my bad cat parenting?

Then I remembered something that keeps me sane. The thing essential to battling anxiety and worry and fear: Don't be a part of that story.

Our minds are wired for storytelling. We create story lines to make sense of so much scattered and random sensory input that we would go mad without the beginnings, middles and ends that we create. And at any time we can change the story.

true story

What is done is done, there is nothing about the past you can change. I considered how I would rectify the situation and any other narrative like "Those were irreplaceable," or "She's going to hate me and want me to move out," popped up, for sure, but I realized I was the author of those narratives.

I wasn't going to bother Beth with this on her vacation and that I would just have to wait until she came back to handle it. Years ago, this would have eaten me alive. I would have worried, stressed and belly-ached for days on end, perhaps even becoming so tortured that I would have called Beth on her trip to let her know about the rip against my better judgement, knowing that it was unnecessary, but wanting relief from my overwhelming anxiety.

This time, I just kept my mind on the present: folding napkins, washing my hair, reading a book, rather than let my mind become consumed with dread and fear.

There was no grand epiphany or magic drug or breakthrough psychology session that allowed me to own my axiety, but a slow, steady, constant drip of effort to find relief. Over time, with lots of help and a tremendous amount of patience of the part of people I hold dear, I just got better. I believe the SSRIs helped me get where I am today, in control, but they are no longer in my system. My utter owning of my reality, and therefore my anxiety, is something born of years of intense amounts of trying. Eventually, for me, thankfully (and I am so, so thankful), I kicked anxiety's ass.

For the record, Beth got back last night when I broke it to her about the curtains.

"There has always been a rip there," she said, still casually flipping through a week's worth of mail.

There has always been a rip there.

All along there was nothing to worry about.

It feels amazing to know I didn't waste valuable time on something I need not be. It feels amazing to have kicked anxiety's ass. It feels like nothing I've ever felt before to be the author of my own existence. 

[photo credit]