theicingonthecrazycake

When life hands you lemons, toss them in the trash and eat cake

Archive for the category “Starting Over”

Have wheels, will deliver meals

I pulled up outside Marra Food Services this morning at 9:30 a.m., anxious as hell. I was going on a training run with Joseph, who would show me my assigned route, should I decide to take on the work. Anxious because I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, anxious about what I might see today, anxious because I didn’t know who this Joseph was — other than what the volunteer coordinator told me over the phone. Would he be an axe murderer? Smelly? An asshole? A horrible teacher?

Anxiety is so stupid sometimes. Joseph was a lovely retired gentleman who couldn’t have been a better tutor. He stood waiting for me as I walked up to the building. He firmly shook my hand, saying good morning, and I was completely at ease.

We walked inside and he ushered me over to the enormous, food-stuffed coolers that we would soon carry out to his car – one with hot meals, the other with cold food (milk, juice, cookie, roll). He showed me how to check off the number of meals/dietary specifications of the people on his route versus the food in the coolers (1% milk vs. whole, special diet needs, only some people wanted juice, no milk, one man who needed his food cut up for him, etc.). Everything looked good and we headed off to his car, coolers in our arms.

As we drove to our first stop (of 20), he explained the detailed notes on the route sheet, next to each meal recipient’s name: some people would leave their own coolers filled with ice packs outside their front doors (because they were either unable to get to the door quickly or they didn’t want to interact with the volunteers), others would be waiting for us, eager to see perhaps the only person they would see all day…to get what might be their only meal of the day. And others had caretakers or adult children that would be waiting to take the food from us.

“For the cooler/ice pack people, they sometimes forget to leave ice packs in them, and if so, we can’t leave the food. It might spoil,” Joseph explained. “If that’s the case, I’ll knock on the door to try to rouse them, but if I can’t get them to the door or they’re not home, I’ll give the extra meal to the next person on the route.”

He then laughed, and said “There’s one guy, toward the end of the route, who leaves hundreds of ice cubes in his cooler. Sometimes all that’s there when I arrive is a pool of water…and then I can’t leave the food for him. I’ll knock and knock, but he never comes to the door.”

Our first few stops were what I called “cooler people,” who had dutifully left their ice-pack-filled coolers by the front door. We packed the meals into their coolers, Joseph would rap on the door, and we would head back to his car.

On our fifth stop, a woman was waiting for us to arrive. As we pulled up, Joseph explained that she had only been on the route for three weeks and that she had baked pound cake for every volunteer who delivered meals to her during the first week. She was thrilled to see us. Joseph introduced me and told her that I would be delivering her meals on Mondays.

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An update to Happy Birthday to Me

You know it’s going to be a good day when you have to wrestle a used condom out of your dog’s mouth during the morning walk. It was on the lawn of a neighboring apartment building. Did they have sex on the lawn or in a car or did they fling it out of one the apartment windows? I’ll never know, nor do I really want to. I hope it was good, though.

Anyway, I’ve been rereading a couple of old posts from last Fall, and I’ve been laughing and sometimes crying. The one that stands out to me the most is my Crazy Cake inaugural post, Happy Birthday to Me. I wrote that post 21 days after the breakup; I’m already a different person than I was then. So in the spirit of realizing that things never turn out as expected, I’ve provided current updates to my original list.

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#1 – October 2011: I can go three days without showering (but need to wash my hair only every four days). Not sure if all my friends and neighbors would agree…but I promise not to judge if they ever choose to curl up in a ball and eschew bathing.

June 2012: As evidenced by my recent post, I’ve whittled successive non-showering days down to two. Hair washing frequency has also improved. Progress!

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#2 – October 2011: Vodka is NOT food group. Neither are Cheetoes. I don’t think I can look at a martini or powdery yellow salty snack EVER again. Tomorrow I start training for a 5K!

June 2012: What optimistic blather I typed above. Before cutting back my drinking to practically nothing and jumping on the yellow puffy snack wagon 2 months ago, I had stared down the barrel of the Gray Goose and Cheetoes gun many times. I have not trained for, nor run a 5K. But, I have started doing Pilates again. Again, progress.

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#3 – October 2011: My friends rule the world. So does my family (even though they sometimes put the crazy in the icing on top of the crazy cake).

June 2012: Hahahaha. Sorry. Yes, my family is definitely still crazy and entertaining. I do love them despite all the emotional and guilt-laden shenanigans. As for friends, I’ve reconnected with old dear ones and even several people here in Providence with whom I had lost touch. I will never take for granted their kindness and unconditional love. Others have fallen away, sort of disappeared. I don’t know if they were afraid, disgusted, tired of my apathy toward life and my inability to be a good friend, and/or dealing with their own difficult stuff (like me). Like the condom’s origins, I will probably never know.

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#4 – October 2011: Everyone should have a pet. The unconditional love attached to a warm nose and gentle eyes won’t immediately cure a broken heart, but it sure helps a helluva lot.

June 2012: No change on this. If you don’t have one, get thee to the local animal shelter today.

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#5 – October 2011: Exercise is a natural anti-depressant.

June 2012: I still agree. And that’s why I’m still a little depressed.

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#6 – October 2011: Unpacking after packing/reversing a move S U C K S. And anyone who causes that sort of pain is just not a nice person.

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Muscle memory

My land-line business phone rang at 1:28 a.m. early Thursday morning. (Do not mock my land-line; I have a very nice iPhone for personal use.)

I awoke from a deep, Klonipin-induced sleep with the thoughts “Who died, who died, whodied??” racing through my head as I tucked into the fetal position between my comforter and a fluffy pillow. By the time I reached the phone – located in the other room – the caller had gone to voice mail/hung up. I looked at the caller ID, expecting to see my parents’ phone number or a call from one of my sisters. Or maybe my brother, telling me the Bulgarian Princess had absconded overseas with my nephew. Instead, I was shocked; the illuminated number had not been on my quickly assembled mental list of potential callers.

It was NEB (now ex-boyfriend), whom I haven’t talked to since last October. Why? And why – after he left no message – did I call him back? Because, stupid me, I still fucking care for some masochistic reason. Did his mom die? Was he sick or had he been in an accident? Was he drunk and finally ready to offer an apology for his douchy douche-bag behavior last year? Did he butt-dial me? Did his new girlfriend, trolling through his phone while he slept, stumble upon my number? I had to know. It’s my nature. For me, ignorance does not equal bliss.

I dialed without any thought, the muscle memory in my fingers typing the number without the need to hit redial. It rang and rang. I got his voice mail. I hung up, leaving no message. Alas, I would get no answer to my “Whys” that night and, most likely, ever.

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Crazypants – Part 1

It is 9 a.m. on Halloween. Bea’s mind is racing with wild thoughts and neurotic indictments that she has been unable to turn off for years. Bea’s sister calls this phenomenon the elves in her head: Santa’s little helpers that hammer and yammer and build toys day and night, regardless of whether it is December or June.

All the elves have indulged in triple espressos this morning. This is not a good thing.

I’m not crazy, Bea thinks. Okay, maybe I’m crazy. Or wait, maybe I’m not: Are truly crazy people even aware of their craziness? Well, I’m aware, so that makes me not crazy, right?

The group is in a circle, seated on uncomfortable folding chairs. Some people are in varying states of psychotropic-drug-induced stupor, while others are nervously rubbing worry stones or picking at their ragged cuticles with the focused intensity of a neurosurgeon digging into a patient’s cerebral cortex. It is Bea’s first day in the outpatient program. She is terrified.

A skeletal brunette sits directly across the circle from Bea. Her eyes are drooping, and she is drooling on herself. Bea watches as the window-shades of her eyelids close. Saliva oozing from the corners of her mouth quickly turns from bubbling brook to white-river rapids.

Okay, so now it’s time for goal-setting, says our perky group therapist, who has impossibly white teeth and a smiley face button pinned to her Easter-egg colored blouse. Not only what you want to get out of the program today, but what you’re going to do when you go home tonight. For those of you who are new today, we do this every morning when you arrive and every afternoon before you go home. Why don’t we start with you? she says loudly, as her eyes turn toward the salivating skeleton.

She awakes with a start. Um, my goal. Um. My goal for what?

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Your Ex-lover is Dead

First off, my new medication is working very well. I’m glad I got through the first couple of days without quitting. I feel better than I’ve felt in more than a year. My energy levels are up and I don’t cry all the time. While most of the nasty side-effects seem to have faded, I am still having bizarre, wake-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-in-a-pool-of-sweat dreams. They are quite unlike the unpleasant dreams I experienced on Celexa, which had extremely clear plot lines and recognizable characters. The Viibryd dreams are more like Salvador Dali paintings. I don’t know who the hell anyone is, for the most part, and everything sort off oozes together with no clear plot. It’s so frustrating. I’m a writer and an avid reader; I need credible characters and a good plot, dammit.

Now, onto the main reason for my post. When I was in the partial psychiatric hospitalization program (i.e., the loony bin, LB for short), I learned about the steps of grief after loss: shock, sorrow, denial, anger, guilt, depression and acceptance. One doesn’t necessarily cycle through them in that order nor does a person only experience each step once. An individual who has suffered a loss might revisit one, some or all of the steps, or  skip a step entirely. Everyone deals with grief differently; there is no formula or cure.

I’ve probably been through most of these steps post-break-up.  I mean, I had trouble even categorizing the break-up as a loss. At the very least, I felt that it didn’t belong in the same stratosphere of job loss, death, disabling injury, divorce, even home foreclosure. Does my loss really rank up there with what I deemed “real” losses? And my conclusion, finally, is yes. I lost someone I loved. And may still continue to love, deep down in my currently broken heart.

Anyway, back to the steps. One of the steps I had yet to visit was anger. And I was pissed off that I couldn’t get mad. My friends and family told me what an awful thing he did to me and I should hate the SOB, get mad and throw plates at the wall. But I couldn’t until now, nearly three months later. The anger hit me like a semi-truck yesterday. And it’s fueling this post — and the subsequent letter-to-my-ex-that-I’ll-never-send directly below — because that’s much more productive and less destructive than hurling plates.

Dear Mr. Ex-boyfriend,

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Fresh from the Loony Bin

I haven’t been writing lately. I’ve had a terrible last 6 weeks, culminating in a brief outpatient stay at a very good mental health facility. I hit rock bottom. I didn’t get out of bed for three days. My work has been suffering. This is very difficult for me to write about, as I’ve suffered from crippling depression all my life. It has been an exhausting journey and I finally sought the care I needed. I have not been “cured” though. Some days are a real effing battle and I just want to be happy.

It’s ironic that I chose the name for this blog before all this happened. Yes, I suffered through a terrible break-up that still hits me out of nowhere from time to time. Yesterday, Turkey Day, was particularly difficult. That’s why I restarted this blog, to deal with the breakup. But now I see that there’s a different message to convey — one where I want to be very frank (and don’t worry, I’ll still be funny) about and illness that is sometimes stigmatized and misunderstood. It’s hard to understand it when you’re not in the middle of it and believe me, I am insanely jealous of such people.

Stay tuned. The blog is back on. In fact, writing is one of the few things that keeps sane these days.

Happy Birthday to Me

Relaunching my blog is my birthday gift to myself. So yay for me today! After what have possibly the most craptacular last three weeks of my life I’m tired of the pity party. I have successfully figured out over the past 21 days that:

1. I can go three days without showering (but need to wash my hair only every four days). Not sure if all my friends and neighbors would agree…but I promise not to judge if they ever choose to curl up in a ball and eschew bathing.

2. Vodka is NOT food group. Neither are cheetoes. I don’t think I can look at a martini or powdery yellow salty snack EVER again. Tomorrow I start training for a 5K!

3. My friends rule the world. So does my family (even though they sometimes put the crazy in the icing on top of the crazy cake).

4. Everyone should have a pet. The unconditional love attached to a warm nose and gentle eyes won’t immediately cure a broken heart, but it sure helps a helluva lot.

Read more…

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