Monday, May 30, 2016

#mydepressionlookslike ...a doormat to be stepped on and covered in dirt

last weekend i had sunday brunch at a diner with the wife kids and in-laws. i had not been out to eat with them in a very long time and it became a bad joke that they only went out to eat when i wasn't there. but this was wifey's suggestion and so we went to a diner. and at one point whilst eating our meals we became aware of the hispanic family at the table next to us. mostly because their little boy was taking pictures of us on his fathers iphone. 

i saw him aim that deadly weapon right at me and all i could do was stare blankly as he fired away. because i honestly had no idea how to handle the situation. its not my kid. so naturally i deffered. 

"that kid is taking pictures of us" i said to no one in particular. 

no reply. everyone at both tables went about their brunch. the kid continued taking pictures when wifey finally said "excuse me. please dont take pictures of my family, its rude." then the kids father made him give back the phone. he gave us a weak explanation "he's five...." then mumbled something about deleting the pictures or whatever. i mumbled something about giving him a truck to play with instead. even if the kid's father could understand me he probably couldn't hear me.

i didn't exactly speak up. 

and then a few days ago i was taking the bus home from work. the bus was unusually crowded that day which always gives me anxiety. i could have sat next to someone but i know how much i hate that and so i continued to the back of the bus where there was room for (at least) three people on a bench seat. i had never sat all the way at the back and so i sat right in the middle a good distance away from one sleeping gentleman on my left and one with headphones on to my right. 

it seemed like every fucking time the bus stopped someone got on and no one got off. and even though the bus was obviously crowded every single person kept mindlessly marching all the way to the back as opposed to seizing the first open seat they could find. there were no more seats at the back of the bus. and so one by one they'd all turn around and find a seat closer and closer to the front of the bus where there were plenty of single seats available. 


this ripped ass asian kid wearing a wifebeater approached and in my head i was like "look at this asshole" and he had his girl behind him, and he stopped right in front of me and i looked at him like "what?" but i didn't actually say "what?"

what i said instead was nothing. and neither did he. he just sort of nodded at me, and specifically the seat i was sitting in. andso because i was too emotionally drained from work and because my first instinct in an uncomfortable situation is to flee the fuck out of it as quickly and easily as possible... i let him have the damn seat. 

well, actually i caught myself capitulating so i stood in front of said seat and when neither of them sat down i pushed ahead and muttered "if you're going to sit, then sit." finally the girl cleared a path, gesticulating that i was free to vacate, and then i found a seat near the front of the bus. two stops later i got off.

and after the bus passed I thought to myself,

what the hell is wrong with you? you let that punk ass take your seat without so much as an "excuse me?" you realize that he is probably laughing it up with his girl right now, bragging about how "i got that fat old white guy to give up his seat - and i didn't even have to say a word!" why cause he's all jacked and shit? or has life so thorougly kicked your ass that you cant even stand up for yourself anymore? 

and i wasn't gonna blog about any of this i was gonna blog about something that makes me happy... but then last night i was at the in-laws after a long hot day outside and wifey was talking to her mom about sacraments and various religious class options for the kidlets, and then she was trying to explain to her mom when and why i had left public school for catholic school. because i was bullied.

and her mom was like "everyone gets bullied" and she went on to explain that all of her kids including my wife were bullied (failing to mention that she was the source of said bullying) and basically dismissing it as the most normal thing in the entire world.

did i mention she works at a school?

i wasn't going to try and explain how many different kids had bullied me over the years and how deep those emotional scars have cut me and how i'm still feeling them to this day. if i had been less tired (and more assertive) i may have contrasted my mother's empathy with her absence of same, or made some inaccurate remark about how mothers are incapable of training their children to fight back against a bully (which probably would have flown over her head anyway) or i would have just been a sarcastic snot and wondered aloud why she would argue against me going to catholic school? 

instead i replied that i didn't have a father so i never learned how to handle being bullied and my mom's instincts were always flight over fight and she gave me the option of riding it out in public school or transferring to catholic school and i said i'll take catholic school for five hundred, alex. and that was the end of that.

and then this morning i woke up at seven am because my little girl scout was supposed to be in a parade but it rained overnight and we had to await word on weather the weather had cancelled the parade and it had so i went back to bed. for three hours. and i had this dream that i was walking along a road when there appeared two people in front of me. a woman with dark braided hair and closely behind her a taller blond woman, sort of european looking i think. 

and i felt myself trying to pass them and getting frustrated because the blond woman wasnt passing the other woman she was following closely and she wasnt letting me pass either. i would try to get around them and i couldnt and so finally i decided to bump the blond woman and i kept pushing my shoulder into hers but she kept pushing back and finally i just bullied my way through her until both women shouted "hey" and "excuse me" at me and then when i was finally triumphantly ahead of them i looked back. 

the braided dark haired woman was in a wheel chair and the blond woman was assisting. and they shouted at me and i apologized profusely and tried to explain that i had had the worst day and i tried to explain about the asian kid as if it had happend yesterday and they didnt really want to hear it at first because my petty little insecurities are no match for a woman in a wheelchair getting shoved by some jackass in a misguided attempt to be a man. 

i'm thankful that my children won't need to learn how to become men, but i'm not sure they'll learn much of anything from me. because i have quite often contemplated my utter uselessness and how i am ill-equipped for this world. hell, i was ill-equipped for the world i grew up in before social media and cyberbullying and trolling and hackers and message boards and hyperpartisan tabloid news and mass shootings and terrorism (which is sorta the same thing) and drones and the nsa and smart phones. and every single moment of our lives, big or small, can be filmed, photographed, published, taken out of context, and ridiculed in seconds and without our knowledge or consent. 

and the thought of having to prepare my girls for this life and keep them safe in an increasingly unsafe world, with the cost of simple necessities like food and education and health care skyrocketing, automation and outsourcing and corporate greed destroying our economy, and the environment around us, natural and digital, becoming more toxic every day... makes me want to dig my own grave. 

which is why i can only deal with the day in front of me. and i'm already freaking out about getting back on the bus.


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

silly things that saved my sorry little life. part one.

around this time last year i was sinking deeper into depression to depths i had not reached since my teen years. my aunt was dying and my best friend was moving away and family life was a shitstorm and i hated my job. i was getting old fast and i had fought hard to make some small changes in my life but the resistance was just too fierce. i knew that defeat was inevitable and so i gave in. i shut myself off and stopped writing stopped blogging stopped trying to be healthy or happy or alive. i just stopped trying. 

previous to this grande defeat there would be brief flickering moments where i would get the gumption to address my issues, for my kids or whatever, and i'd say that i'm tired of being miserable. 
and my favorite girl in the whole wide world was a major influence on me because she had been through a lot of this and fought for her joy and got the help that she needed. she saw doctors and ate healthy and worked out and all of that crap which i hear is good for defeating depression but here's the thing all that shit costs money. and i dont have two wealthy and loving parents and i dont have my whole life ahead of me and i'm not young and attractive and i dont have thousands of friends and a social media network support system and i dont have her.

even if i had the money to see a shrink and fix my brain and join a gym and stop destroying my body those things arnott going to make my life any better. happy pills arnott going to make me younger or bring my aunt back or give me a do-over on any of the myriad mistakes i've made over the course of my life that have boxed me into this corner. having a fit healthy body will not bring me love or joy or professional success or bring me closer to my family. most of that stuff is just out of my control. c'est la vie.

depression has sorta been a constant condition for me over the past few years or so, and probably for about sixty to seventy percent of my life if i'm being honest. but i never fully embraced it infact i probably did my best to disavow it when i was younger. big mistake. now i'm old and my life is all that its going to be and i just dont care anymore. so i actually talked about it and used it and identified with it. i realized that there was little to be done about my perpetual state of unhappiness and i could either end my life or accept it. 

and so i slept and sulked and made my world smaller and smaller and tried to just get through each day as painlessly as possible. i decided not to bother anyone with my problems because i just felt myself repeating myself and what good would it do anyway. but it appears that the dark clouds are starting to break apart because i'm actually blogging again and until recently i wasn't able to find the time or energy to write and i have a lot more to say about all of this but i want to shift my focus to something positive for a bit.

there are some things that brought me just enough joy to keep my mind off of how awful this world is and how pathetic my life has been and i'll share some here. i might do another post with some more important things that 
kept me from contemplating and/or attempting suicide, like my family and whatnot, but i'm not quite ready to be serious about it. these are in no particular order:

pink sheep videos

i try not to spend too much time on youtube because thats how i ended up crushing on my crush crush crush but sometimes i will watch john oliver because i dont get hbo and the only people i know who get hbo are very conservative and i dont feel like explaining myself to them although the worst of them did come into the den one day when i was watching john oliver and he was talking about transgender issues and thank god she only ducked her head in to say hi cause there would be no explaination for that one. so really just john oilver and occasionally bill maher though i dont really like him much. i used to watch vlogbrothers but i've not been into y.a. for quite a while and i'm not sure why. what was i saying? 

oh right pink sheep. hmm how to explain pink sheep... well pink sheep are like the rarest of the rare mobs in minecraft and there are dudes online who make awesome minecraft customs and videos and whatnot and one of the most popular characters is the pink sheep who is like this dope pranksta gangsta with a well trimmed mustache who talks in a text-to-speech autobot voice and has adventures and i dont know its just funny. observe:

i used to watch these with my girls until they discovered shopkins videos. now the only channel they watch is CookieswirlC. that chicha is practically raising my kids at this point. 


for years i have been looking for a decent simcity substitute because i grew up on simcity and never got tired of the franchise and then a few years ago they got lame as fuck and i stopped buying them. and i cant play the old ones because my new computer is too advanced for them. 

andso one day the girls were playing littelest pet shop or one of their other free app games and i saw and add for township and i had to have it. whereas simcity is more about building infrastructure roads and utilities and zoning certain types of buildings in certain areas to increase population, in township you can put stuff wherever you want and you dont have to worry about utilities. you just have to grow crops and fill townspeoples orders and then you get rewarded with buildings which automatically increase population. 

yes i finally got suckered into the world of freemium gaming and got my first app. i'm proud of the fact that i held out this long and have not spent an actual real life cent on it. i am not proud of the fact that i fight for tablet time with my kidlets so's i can gather my products and send my cute copter pilot off to deliver them. it's a fun, mindless little thing that relieves stress and gives me something to look forward to after work. 

[apparently there is a simcity app which popped up while i was playing township just now...perhaps i'll look into it later.] 

card collecting

i have always been a sports card collector as you know but its been about eight or ten years since i've had enough money to collect the way i want to. but when my aunt died she left behind an insane amount of money and left my mom in charge of all her finances. and so mom handed me a check with more than two zeroes on it and told me to have fun with it because that's what my aunt would have wanted. we paid bills and went to ikea and i bought mom a nice meal... and i spent a few hundred bucks on cards. 

incase you care (and i know you do) psa is an appraisor and i used to have a membership there but its expensive and i had to let it lapse. you have to pay a hundred plus for a one year membership and then if you want cards appraised (they are graded on a 1-10 scale) you have to pay an additional fee per card. i renewed my membership earlier this year and bought a bunch of vintage baseball on ebay because i love buying vintage and having them graded is a lot of fun for me but mostly it is an investment in my kids future. lets face it i'm never going to make any decent money working since i'm already thirtyfive and i am part time with zero benefits but if i stockpile enough valuable cards while i'm alive i can have fun buying and selling until the girls are ready for college and then i can bequeath them in my will cash them all in to pay for their insanely high tuition. 

comc is a consigment warehouse which is a lot more specialized and convenient than ebay. you can send all your cards there and they scan/list each (for a fee of course) and all you have to do is set the price you want. if someone meets your price you sell the card. if not, it sits there collecting dust and eventually you have to pay storage fees. the cool thing about comc is you can buy cards on the site and then 'flip' them for a profit. also when sellers put their collection on sale you can get lots of great stuff at great prices and your order is always three dollars to ship. i am seriously addicted to this site and there were at least half a dozen times in the past year where i was having a really bad day and then i put twenty bucks in my comc account and immediately felt better. retail therapy is legit. 

upper deck e-pack is a waste of money. seriously. you have to pay a dollar more for a 'pack' then you would in a store, and you dont even get the cards in your hand unless you pull a special insert and because of the volume of cards added through e-pack every card has been seriously devalued and you can just pick the cards you want on comc or anywhere outside of e-pack and spend a lot less. 

so why do i love it? because you can open a 'daily free pack' of three cards, accumulate ten of each card to upgrade to a 'foil' card and transfer it to comc for the low low price of twentyfive cents shipping. so basically in the course of a month you get ninety fake cards, which you can trade with other users to get ten copies of nine different cards and combine them into foil cards which you can keep. i'm one away from completing the devils team set.

part two tomorrow possibly


Monday, May 16, 2016

help wanted

i have been working at the same little law firm for over three years. it is the longest consecutive sentence i have ever served at the same company and it is quite literally killing me. 

at the time i applied i was reentering the work force after being a stay at home dad for three years. i had only ever worked in one office before that, graduated community college in my mid-twenties and never really learned how to drive, so my options were limited. 

less than one week into my search i stumbled on a craigslist ad for a part-time file clerk. it paid nearly nothing and it was a bitch to get to every day but i didn't have the balls to wait for something better. and tbh, i was happy as a file clerk. it was a low stress job that i could do without thinking or getting much sleep, and i got to be a neat freak and organize the overflowing mess of a file pile. 

i was so good at it that i often had too much down time once everything was organized, andso to fill time while waiting for more work (or my 2pm dismissal) i would read blogs and tumbr and write e-mails and story notes, until the lawyer who hired me called me out on it not once but twice and said if i kept doing that i'd be terminated. 

i should have called his bluff. 

when i was fileling i'd go into the collector's room where there were two full-time debt collectors and i'd hear them shout at nasty deadbeat debtors and i thought to myself "you couldn't pay me enough to do that job" and i'm glad i never said that out loud but instead i said to them "i don't know how you do that" or some such thing and a short time later i got to find out. 

the firm let go of one collector, who ended up convincing the other collector to join him at his new company less than a year later. and so the guy who hired me(and nearly fired me) as a file clerk offered me a promotion. 

i really, really, really wanted to say no. but i had to give it a try so that i could actually kinda support my family like a real man. i got a 50% raise, which brought me back to the exact salary i was making right after college, and i got vacation time, which i actually was entitled to even as a lowly file clerk but was never informed, but i got no health benefits and i was still part-time. 

also, i had to call strangers and ask them for money. 

the previous collector trained me for two weeks before he left and i learned as much as i could and took notes because he was really good at his job, and he tried to make sure that i had some practice at every possible thing he could think of while he was there to talk me through it. but i've always been an introvert and i've always had panic attacks before starting something unknown or unpleasant and there was no way that i was going to suddenly become extroverted and confident and capable of collecting debts.  

it didn't help that on my first day as the one and only collector in the firm i could not actually collect anything from anyone. you see, my predecessor gave me a lot of helpful information on how to initiate and receive collection calls but what he didn't give me was the password to his computer. so i couldn't access the collections program. so i couldn't pull up debtors' accounts. so basically i couldn't take any calls. 

once the password was retrieved, the program itself became glitchy and stopped working. there was also a problem with the printer, two problems with the phones, and i think the computer itself, which has to be like at least fifteen to twenty years old because it still has a floppy disc drive. this was all in the first week or two. 
unfortunately things were up and running again (eventually) and i had to figure out how to do my ficking job. 

i have now been doing this ficking job for fourteen months and it still gives me crippling anxiety at least sixty percent of the time. i can't quite articulate why certain days or certain accounts are bearable while others cause me to curse the day i was born but i can describe a typical day at the office thusly:

i waste the first of my five hours organizing the work our four attorneys have left on my desk into four piles: shit i can do right away, shit i dont want to do but will anyway, shit i will avoid doing for as long as possible, and (my personal favorite) lololol never calling that guy in a million years. these piles are labeled with code names "debtor calls"pob calls"court officer calls" and "misc."

then i go to the bathroom, even if i dont need to. then i check the fax machine, the mailroom basket, and the mini-fridge. by now i've received a call or five, and the attorneys have graced us with their presence so i have to actually pick up the phone. i start by calling the persons who are least likely to answer, and then i fax a court officer. i love sending faxes. and e-mails. only problem is, if they don't reply within a week, my boss plops a printout on my desk with the word call underlined. 

now i know this all seems like i'm just a typical slacker who doesn't like my job but i assure you that's not the case. usually. maybe once a week i get straight up lazy but mostly it's just plain anxiety. there are things i was never properly trained to do that i do not feel comfortable doing. some of the calls these attorneys ask me to make were not rehearsed with or even mentioned by my predecessor. 

sometimes the reason i dread picking up the phone is because i don't have the heart to tell some desperate debtor who whines and pleads with us to stop a wage garnishment in exchange for pennies on the dollar that, yes, we are aware that your loved one is dying of cancer and that you'll lose your job if we garnish your part-time paycheck, but the attorneys have no fucks to give and you're sol. just doing my job ma'am.

office stress has infected my home life, as i'm constantly complaining about the day i've had and/or dreading the day ahead. i lose hours of sleep, ostensibly because sleep brings me closer to my next day of work. my health has deteriorated to personal worsts because i consume energy drinks like most people consume coffee, because walking next door to 7-11 burns minutes off the clock, and because i cant make collection calls if i'm stuffing my fat face with blue rasberry donuts. 

my nephew's wife is pregnant, and we had just found out the last time i went to visit the fam in ct. i've put on so much weight that my mom turned to me and quipped "and when are you due?" nice, right? but i deserved it. i'm well aware of what i'm doing to myself and i. don't. care. 

i tried to care, once. around this time last year i had contemplated the theory that if i could overcome my fears and anxieties and actually manage to do debt collection then surely i could do other unpleasant things i've always feared and dreaded. and so, for the second time in as many years, i attempted to enter a gym. 

the manager gave me a tour and he explained stuff to me a lot better than that retro fitness place i had tried the year before. of course the dude wanted to make a sale and even though i was making more money i wasn't making gym membership money so i told the guy i'd think about it and he got on my case "well, how long have you been thinking about it?" and then i told the guy that i'm interested but i'm not going to sign anything until i talk to my wife and he was all "why do you have to talk to your wife first?" 

i walked home contemplating that very question knowing damn well she would never ever let me follow through and i inevitably began daydreaming about how my crush would have been super supportive and would have gone to the gym with me and it would have been fun. but in this life, the real one that i've been burdened with, things don't happen that way. and that made me very angry. and depressed. and i kept sinking further down into helplessness, until i realized that the key to my happiness, or at least ambivalence, was not a gym membership or an endless fountain of mountain dew. i needed a new job. 

lucky for me, i had learned new skills. i was promoted. these things look great on a resume, right? hahaha no. i applied for jobs. dozens of them. i got one interview, which didn't go great and it was for a fabric store i didn't really want to work at anyway. i e-mailed an employment agency whose office started me in the face every time i took the bus and they got back to me...the day i was in ct for my aunt's funeral. 

applying to job after job after job after job is an exhausting and frustrating exercise, especially since it was much easier for me to find a job when i hadn't been working for three years. and though my guilty conscience and pessimistic personality constantly warn me that my timesuck skills and lack of production could get me fired if the attorneys only knew how much i wasn't doing i have yet to be reprimanded, warned, or even gently nudged.

it seems that the only thing harder than doing this job is finding my way out of it.


Saturday, May 14, 2016

one hundred days and counting

if you had told me at the outset of winter that i could go a hundred days without visiting her blogs or social media sites i would have assumed that the only way that would be possible is if i were dead.

but i am not dead. i dont feel all that interested in living, and though i continue to exist i do feel that this world is finished with me and i am (almost) finished with it. but as of this writing i am not dead. perhaps this resignation that i have failed at the experiment called life and the acceptance that further efforts to change or "improve" said life would only make things much worse explains (at least on some level) why i am able to resist and on most days not even feel the temptation to view her pages and pics.

it was easy at the start. on the night of eighteen december i was on her tumbuler reading posts about her imminent graduation from that evangelical christian school whose name sounds like an infectious disease (no its not oral roberts) when i realized it was happening that day. and once i accounted for the three hours time difference it dawned on me that she was posting about it in real time. and there was a webcast of the ceremony on her school's website.

admittedly i was much too excited about the prospect of watching her walk down what she called the second most important aisle of her life (though she typed "isle" and i chuckled - might wnat to hold back that diploma untill the girl lurns how to spell. hahaha.)

knowing how much she had overcome and how difficult her college years had been, and knowing her bubbly goofball personality i couldn't wait to see the excitement emoji on her oval-shaped face the moment she received her diploma. would she shimmy on the stage or raise her arms in triumph, or would she trip on the stairs like my other favorite girl in the whole wide world?

as i watched the procession of young americans i became aware of the information along the side of the screen. the graduates were not being called in order of last name. they were being called by their major. and i missed hers. 

fuck. i missed hers. fuck. i fucking missed hers. fucking mother fuck. 

this was not the sort of thing that i would ever get to see again - unless i wanted to cough up 24.95 for the DVD just to see some girl i've never met walk up on stage and maybe smile or something, and then walk off camera with her diploma and the whole thing would have been like fifteen seconds, tops. and i actually contemplated it for like fifteen seconds, or about sixteen seconds longer than i should have.

and that's when i realized i need to get a hold of my life.

it had sort of become a personal and somewhat bizarre tradition of mine to binge-read posts from my crush whilst wrapping christmas gifts but by twenty-two december i had decided to quite crushing altogether as a new year's resolution and the graduation day miss gave me a running start. i read a few posts about her post-grad plans, which included spending christmas with her boyfriend in the seattle area and i figured that would be enough to keep me away until at least the end of january. which it did. 

and then i thought, i definitely do not want to see any valentine's day posts from her and that should have kept me away until the end of february but unfortunately i caved on groundhog day. she had posted very little on tumbler and nothing new on youtube which i thought was a bit odd since she had a lot more free time to do so. but i saw her christmas/sightseeing pics with the boyf and some posts about visiting friends all over the place and she was going to visit her sister down in the bible belt and maybe she would post more once she was done traversing the country but i didn't want to want to read them. 

i knew that eventually she would find a great job, which would make me super depressed about my shitty job and that eventually go pro bro would propose to her, which would make me super depressed about my shitty love life, and that all eight thousand of her friends would congradulate her on all of her success, which would make me depressed about not having any friends. 

and so on nine february i challenged myself to walk away again. if i could go thirty days without her i could go sixty. and so on and so forth until one day i wasn't even counting anymore. even though i still think about her at times when i'm lonely and i feel the need to imagine myself with her i still feel no desire to check in with her. i dont think i can disconnect forever cause i do want to know that she's happy in life and in love and i want to know what kind of career she's pursuing and whatnot. but i'm not in a hurry to know. perhaps i'll read her again whilst wrapping christmas presents two hundred twenty days from now. 

no, i dont think i'll ever stop thinking about her for good. but it usually takes crushing on a new girl to stop crushing on the last girl and i feel more confident than ever that this is the last final last crush ever, because god i just cannot handle any more of this ever. 

and so i have found other things with which to occupy my mind. perhaps i will share some of them here, despite the likelihood that they will bore the shit out of you. but it is too difficult for me to speak of anything personal. i had tried many times over the past four months to write about the death of my favorite aunt and also my brother from another mother moving out to the bay area. but every time i started to write i couldnt bring myself to finish. too easily distracted by work and screaming shouting fighting children. and i had been away from writing for so long that i couldnt write it the way i wanted to and so i just gave up. i do that a lot. its easier. 

even giving up my crush is easier. or at least its easier than i thought it would be a hundred days ago.