Saturday, June 22, 2019

Focus on My Mental Health - pt. 16 - Finding More Purposes

    Skip forward a bit over a week from the last time I wrote here about my mental health, and I'm still having dreams about my old job.  I dream that I go in and am asked to help, to put something right again, and I do so very willingly as I'm needed, and it's about halfway through the dream that I realize, or rather, remember, that I no longer have that job and I just put it down and walk away.  Or sometimes I give the task to someone else (rather in a managerial way) and even in my dream I have to remind myself that I no longer have this job.  My purpose for so many years has gone, and I feel like I have no purpose.
     But, I shove on, and I put out those applications and I waited my turn for another purpose to come, because, maybe everyone has more than one purpose on this world.  God can't just give us a single purpose, He is too great for that, right?  I can't imagine making us in His image means that He gives us only a single purpose.  Some it's to work, be a wife/husband, mother/father, sister/brother, daughter/son, etc, and maybe for others it's to become famous or be a role-model or politician, or lawyer or judge or priest or some other thing.  And maybe you fulfil your purpose and maybe you screw it over royally but never know until you're standing at one of the gates (pearly or firey) and realize that you did good or fucked up.  But, you really don't know until that time, and if the people who don't believe in those things don't go anywhere, then I guess you'll never know because there's no heaven or hell waiting for you on the other side.  But it is what it is.
     So, me thinking about the depths of how many purposes I actually might have, leads me to think that Insurance is probably not one of them.  I applied to the first place and it just didn't fit with me, and then I applied with another (who, I'm told, I may still be under consideration with, even two months later, although it's rather hard to believe at this point), and then yet another (the one I told you about with the phone interview) I got a rather blunt letter saying that they had filled the position with someone else and that I didn't have what they were looking for.  'Nuff said, end of story, don't bother to apply for a different position.
     Trust me, it hurt.  But then I realized that just like I said last time, I didn't really want to work there and I guess Insurance really isn't my thang.

     But, what then, is my purpose?  I can go back to the very beginning, back to when I first could write, and I felt my purpose was to share the magic of unicorns and awesome stories and drawings with people.  My third grade self felt her purpose was to write books about unicorns and dragons and even though she had completely ripped off a story she had read to make this book her own (well, she did change a few things to make it unique, so it was her story now, right?) and Miss Williams was still the best 3rd Grade teacher a girl could ever have, encouraging her to write and then perhaps bring back stories to her younger students years later (and she did) to teach others about drawing and writing.

     That writing purpose was still strong when the 13 year old me learned how to type (slowly) on a typewriter she borrowed from her aunt in order to start her very first novel.  She wouldn't finish it until she became 17 year old me, but she plugged along at it for a very long time.  And not only that, wrote a bunch of other stories as well, and learned how to draw and paint, and painting was a really awesome thing.  And she painted on walls and she painted on doors and inside her closet and she painted on wood things and later on canvases, but she liked to paint, and her mom bought her ceramic things to paint and she got to paint at school and so painting and writing became her purpose.

     College me felt her hoped for purpose to write would actually mean being an author, but that didn't work out so well.  But college me also met a bunch of friends who taught her how to play games and paint miniatures and that was pretty cool for college me, so I worked really hard to paint up an army to use at my very first Origins and my friends and I never did play in a tournament, but we did play games together until they all moved away or stopped going to college together.

     After-College me learned to really like artwork and learned how to work retail and it was pretty cool, even if it was boring so she thought that maybe retail merchandising was my purpose.  Especially in art type situations and she still wrote and tried to re-write that book that she had finished at 17, but only got in a few chapters.  But she liked the retail world and really wanted to get into the framing world too because she liked being around art so much that she eventually got a job doing just that.

     Twenty-two year old me's purpose was to custom frame, but also draw manga, and paint.  Lots of painting was in order as she did a mural at the store and still painted at home and gave away paintings to her friends, and it was a lot of fun.  My purpose at that time was to make other's happy with her drawings and paintings and manga, and also, to a lesser extent, writing, because she had discovered fanfiction and had been writing that since her college years and it really made her friends happy when she wrote for them.
     But that was also around the time that she realized that might be the only reason her friends liked her and each time she would stop writing for her friends, those friends would go away.  And those friends would eventually disappear, every single time she stopped writing for them, and that made her sad on multiple occasions because it just kept happening... first with Highlander, and then with Trigun.

     Twenty-something me realized maybe her purpose might be as a wife, so when she married and settled down, she tried to be the best home-maker she could and budget-savvy and saved and scrimped at the retail job which wasn't as fun, but she still liked the framing purpose because that certainly seemed to make people happy.  And she wished she had never attempted to find a management purpose because that did not make her happy, and as she got older she wondered if maybe her purpose wasn't that at all but people kept telling her that maybe it was her purpose.

     Thirty-something me felt that everyone who told her that her purpose would be to run a store was full of bullshit and was miserable for literally years.  She couldn't make friends as a manager, couldn't write as a manager (she'll admit, she still felt her writing purpose was there since her manager used to leave her alone in the frame shop and she wrote things regularly when they had forgotten her) and couldn't really do much of anything except work and sleep and be a wife (and cat mom) and that was slowly taking the life out of her.  So...maybe the manager thing wasn't a good purpose?  But she knew that she did serve a purpose because people liked her and she knew the job and she was a good manager even if the woman above her made her purpose seem drab and worthless.
 
     But then thirty-eight something me discovered stories again.  She discovered painting again.  She discovered, of all things, Dungeons & Dragons, and then allowed her to be creative again.  It brought her friends again (to hell with that saying "managers shouldn't make friends with their staff") and she started writing and creating and painting those miniatures she'd felt her purpose had been as a college-her and she was still a wife, and she felt like all of those things were coming together nicely.

     She still....rather, I still, worry about my purpose as a dungeon master and whether or not I'll still be friends with these people if I ever stop my story, but it makes them happy and it makes me happy, and I'm a very big fan of being happy.  I know my few purposes at the moment are:
  • Painter
  • Writer
  • Dungeon Master
  • Friend
  • Wife
  • Cat-Mom
  • Daughter
  • Sister, Cousin, Niece
  • ????
     The problem that I have now, as I try to fulfill all of these purposes in my life, is to see if there's actually another one out there.  I used to think so before I was fired.  I used to think I'd be in retail my entire life and that would have been fine with me, but I don't think management was my purpose, and I think that's the reason I've always had such a tough time of it.  (Come to think of it, my first boss took months to promote me to assistant, dithering over a couple of us, and my last one did the exact same damn thing...which basically sums up my entire life with those two jobs, honestly.)  And this Insurance thing I keep trying to get into (come on, who doesn't want a 9-5 job with weekends off?) just doesn't seem to be working either.
     So am I just trying too hard to find the missing purpose?  Am I searching for something that just isn't there?  I really wish I lived in another country where healthcare actually helped people rather than hurting them, because I think all of those purposes above would be a lot less worrisome, not having to think about the fact that my birth control runs out in three months and if I don't get back on it I have no idea what might happen.  I'm 40-something me now and I really don't want to add "Mom" to the purpose list because it's hard enough being a cat-mom.

     I have a lot of thinking to do, a lot of painting, a lot of writing, and a lot of praying and working to do to find this last purpose.  And maybe it's not my very last purpose, I'm sure there will always be more.  But, as you can tell, the writing and the painting thing seem to be at least two purposes that are probably always going to stick.  So besides making people happy with them (and myself) on a rather small scale, is there a way to make these on a large scale where I can make life work for me?  I don't know.... but until another purpose rears its head, I guess that's all I've got.

     And maybe being one or two less purposes for awhile isn't such a bad thing.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Focus on My Mental Health - pt. 15 - Missing Purpose

     I changed the title of this series to "Focus on My Mental Health" as it doesn't really touch on mental health in general, but my own personal journey as I have gone from being a miserable human being in a job that was destroying my mental health - to a human being that is miserable from the inability to find a job that can bring me back to a healthy mental state once again.  I've been still doing the job of working on my stock for my craft booth, and now too my website, but the fact that I haven't actually sold anything means it's not an actual job yet.  If I had a following before this point, if someone had seen my paintings all of these years ago and said "you should sell these" and then started throwing money at me, maybe I could have already sold stuff by now.  So, it feels rather hollow, even though I had promised myself that I was merely starting on stocking the table first.

     My mental state is fairly low today, just as it has been since this last week.  I started off in this place of "I don't really want to get a job here, but I'll do it so I can have a job and maybe I'll like it eventually" a week ago today.  I'd just had a telephone interview that sounded really positive, except for a couple little hints that were dropped that sounded to me at the time like maybe I wouldn't hear right away because someone was out of the office.  But I was assured I'd hear by the end of the week.
     But I didn't hear by the end of the week.  And if I were in a better place, I think I would have called or emailed and said, "hey, what's the verdict?"  But when I start to open up that email to do so, I start to get anxious and remember that I really didn't want to work there.  I balance back and forth between feeling depressed that yet another job doesn't want me, but also feeling like it gives me a chance to find the right job.

     I know it's only been two months, but it feels like it's been so much longer.

---------------

    Took a quick break from writing and switched over to some more crafting instead.  To be completely honest with myself, and with whomever is actually reading this (the one or two people I notice have "viewed" this site from time to time) - I was really excited about my "business" when I started it a few weeks ago.  I've started pouring my time and effort into creating a profile, a website, an email address, a facebook page, and a store.  I started getting people interested in it, started getting likes and follows.  I started to get interest in things and that was pretty exciting for me.
     Then I got a "review" which was basically to say "copied but cute things" (to paraphrase) and even though someone was nice enough to recommend my page to someone else, the way they did it was kind of discouraging.  I pressed forward, told myself, that yes they are a bit "copied" but only in that when it starts getting harder to find things like it from China for this cheap (what with the tariffs) people will start buying things from me... right?  And maybe the kitschy retro stuff will be popular?
     But the review has stuck with me, and I guess in a way that's started to push me to start doing other unique things or at least learning new painting techniques.  But in the back of my mind I keep thinking "why would anyone want to buy something from me?  What makes these things unique?"

My answer is - they aren't.  There isn't a reason.  That's why they haven't bought anything yet.

     So, that's the reason why I'm depressed about this business endeavor.  But it's all I've got.  I keep telling myself that I need to work on my job applications, update my resume, do something to get a new job.  But then I pull up those job listings and tears spring to my eyes and this crushing anxiety just hits me.  I stare at the screen, I scroll the listings for a minute, then I close the browser because I can't look at it anymore.
     And I get these emails from the state because I had applied for unemployment, but I haven't gotten a dime and have absolutely no idea if I'm even going to get anything, so it feels rather worthless to be filling out the paperwork for no reason.

     If I had any leads at all, then maybe I'd feel better.  But instead, I sit here with no purpose, wondering why I'm here.  I'm miserable as the stupid neighbors bounce balls non-stop, drive stupid mini-bikes up and down the block for HOURS and I can't work in my garden because I can't have any fucking peace and quiet here.
      And I can't leave because I have no jobs to get away from it.

I just want to cry.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Focus on My Mental Health - pt. 14 - An Hour to Forty

     I have just a little over an hour before the day of my fortieth birthday.  Officially it was around 7:35pm, so I guess I have over twelve hours before I would be "officially" forty years old, but it doesn't really matter.  What matters is that in an hour and a few minutes, it will be June 8.  I will be a whole year older, and I'm just that bit further away from where I thought I'd be at this age.
     Not only have I reached this milestone, I also feel more worthless than ever this evening. I woke up feeling fairly good, got going and made some awesome blueberry pancakes, coffee, and then watched my email inbox.
     I had a phone interview on Monday morning.  She said, "you will definitely hear from us by the end of the week to set up an in-person interview...after I review it with the right people."  My friend who also interviewed for this company had heard back from them to set up an in-person interview within a day, and a week later she had the interview and a day later, a job.  I have heard absolutely nothing.  Four days, not a thing.
     What is wrong with me?  I thought I did a good job, sure, I didn't ask a ton of questions because I really thought that maybe they'd be honest with me and say, 'oh you aren't what we're looking for in this particular job but if you want to apply for another one....'  But not even that.  I feel worthless.  I feel like everything that I've done up until this point has lead up to this fortieth year and I have absolutely nothing to show for it.
     I don't have the ambition to go for another management job and even if I were to get one I think it would slowly kill my soul.  And apparently I can't find a job in another field, even a stinkin' part time one - and now I'm blaming myself for not doing my second round of interviews at the first place because I feel like that bridge is gone and why did I do that?  Why didn't I just take the damn job in the first place?  Why did I think I was better than $12/hr and having to deal with paying for parking forever??
     And no, I haven't been able to get unemployment and no one has bothered to notify me why - or even just a "nope, you can't get it, sorry."  NOPE.  Not a word.  Not a word from anyone.

     My mom is here this weekend and I slogged through the zoo thinking that maybe that would be enjoyable but because we had like three and a half hours we couldn't do it slowly and we didn't get to see everything and I really couldn't afford it, but we went anyway.

      And for a few minutes here and there I was happy.  I love the flying foxes...  Don't you just want to boop that snoot?  These things, without me realizing it, were what inspired the whatchers of my childhood.  Back when I was thirteen and having a hard time in my life, I had a lot of friends but I was also miserable when they were away - I think I realize now that while they were with me I felt good because I wasn't inside my own head, but when they left I was back there with a vengeance and life now is sort of the same in that regard - I came up with this invisible friend "Blacky" and he was basically a flying black fox except my critters had slightly exaggerated ears and a long fluffy fox tail too.  But, anyway, for those bits of time at the zoo yesterday when I took these photos, I realized that I was at piece, and I probably could have spent all of my time there just watching them.
     But then I was also miserable because I realized I hadn't received any messages and I'm just getting my business going and haven't sold anything (but I feel I need to get a lot more made and need to do more and that wasn't happening while I was wandering the zoo, so of course that made me feel worse).  And also no one was asking me a damn thing about the interview - had I heard anything?  What was I feeling about all of this?  No one had asked how I was holding up.  Now, a different friend had asked but honestly, I got no response at all back, so it was like...I guess, why ask at all if you don't feel like responding?  Some times all you want is a kind reply, some kind of recognition that you're going through a real hard time in your life and yes, we understand, it sucks.
   
     We got back from the zoo and I was miserable listening to the rotten children next door bouncing basketballs all night long.  I just wanted to go strangle them, but before 11:30 they were finally done.  But then I thought I'd make an online purchase to cheer me up but that only made me feel more miserable too because I have no money coming in and suddenly my entire life it dependent upon someone else and slowly my savings is starting to dwindle because of some damn woman wanting to 'set an example' with me or some stupid thing and I'm just sad all the time now because I don't know whether I should be putting all of my focus on this new project I'm doing or whether it's completely a fool's errand and I'm just going to drown myself in it.

     So, here I am, less then 45 minutes away from my birthday and realizing that all of the other years I've had these big plans for my birthday, but I'm also kind of stuck with only doing things that my mom can manage because the zoo nearly dropped her a few times and we were only walking for a few hours!  So my idea of going down to Hocking Hills is off, it was bad the last time we took her but it would be worse now if she was huffing after only a half hour at the zoo...and resting every fifteen minutes after that.  I really feel like I can't afford to do anything else and feel guilty even asking...  In the past we've done all sorts of things and every year I want to go somewhere I've never been before and see something I've never seen to make my birthday a remarkable one, one that I would remember.
     But this year it feels fake and sad.  And I was really waiting to get that email saying "here, schedule your in-person interview next week" but didn't get that so after waiting with anticipation and knowing I won't get anything the next two days, and oh yeah, my other plans for the weekend have already fallen through...I just feel lost.

     I tried to make up for some of it tonight by a really awesome D&D game and a pizza party and DQ ice cream cake too...but that somehow just felt off too, but probably because most of the day was a lot of hurry up and wait and I had that shadow of an interview that just won't be over me.  And no one asked...  So it feels like I'm suffering by myself.
     Then my husband found out my cat has been peeing on things in the basement again and it was probably a combination of him and I moving things so may have destroyed hundreds of dollars of items and I'm staying up to wait for the washer to finish in hopes that we can save the bags they came in... which will hopefully salvage it all... But he's miserable and found it in the middle of the game and I couldn't drop everything I was doing because there were a bunch of people over.  So he was distracted and I was distracted and trying to help because I feel miserable like it was my fault but also just wish I could get rid of this cat that every time we leave alone for awhile we start to feel bad for him but then he makes us get angry again too.

     I don't know what to do.  I think the kids have finally stopped dribbling the basketballs.  The washer sounds like it may be on its last spin or so.  I have a half hour left.  I wish I had an answer to all of this.  I wish I could say that I could just put on a happy face and move on.  I also wish I knew if I really had to apply for jobs twice a week for unemployment because it certainly doesn't feel like I'm doing any of it for anything...  THEY screwed ME over.  I didn't do anything on purpose - I worked there for 16 years!!  And now in almost two full months now I can't find a job, can't get on unemployment, and I just don't know what to do.  And here I am... 40 (or rather almost) and I feel like a lost teenager leaving High School back in 1997 with no plans for the future, no job, no colleges lined up because I have no goals in life...and I just want to make things better again.  I want them all to go back to the way they were when everything was RIGHT.  And nothing's right.

Why isn't anything right?

Why?

I really need to sleep...

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Glenhaven's Son Enirich - Part 2 (a short story)

      The summer heat bore down on the caravan as it traveled up the Great road to Glenhaven.  The bugs and the humidity were hardly kept at bay by the taught canvas covers over the wagons.  The speed that the horses took the heavily rutted roads barely created enough breeze to cool the sweat from their faces.  Miserable and nervous, the drivers and guards kept a close eye upon the densely packed trees of the Black Oak Forest, looking for bandits.  The woods had been full of them in the summer, but for some reason, it was oddly quiet.
     Menirel, the leader of the caravan, looked at the miserable group.  The wagons were packed full of items ordered for the small town to the north.  There were six wagons this time around, and additional guards were ordered, besides the AWOL solider that sat in the second wagon, looking very beaten up after his journey back to Waterfordshire.  The young man had asked Menirel to join the caravan, and even though the two stars on his uniform said he was in the middle of training, he had no discharge papers and seemed distraught.  Feeling for the young man who seemed vaguely familiar, but was so beaten and bedraggled that Menirel couldn't place his name, he allowed the young man to ride along.
     Enirich had managed to get back to town after his failed attempt to bring the murderers to justice, searched up the caravan, and hadn't said a word since he found a place on the second wagon.  His thoughts were scrambled and miserable.  His first thoughts once the rage and need for revenge had waned, was that he should go home, see that his parents were properly buried, and that he needed to figure out where to go next.  It would be difficult as he knew that Glenhaven believed he had been killed along with his parents, according to the report that had returned from the city.
      The spring rains had ceased and the roads needed repair, and Menirel was surprised that there didn't appear to be any work done on them yet.  The wagons bounced around and they eventually made their way back to the bridge which had washed out on the way in.  The bridge was in the middle of repairs, and a couple of men were at the side of the road having lunch, wiping their brows with dirty rags.  "Ho there, is the bridge in order yet?"
     Standing up, one of the men wave to Menirel, "Is it that time already?  Just take it easy, one wagon at a time.  The railing on the right is still loose so you may want to walk them over."  He moves over to the side of the bridge as the drivers each get down, taking the reins of the horses on each wagon and slowly the six wagons make it across.  The men working on the bridge don't see the miserable solider in the second wagon as he sits in the back with his head bowed.
     Things looked different when they arrived in the city.  The statue of Chauntea had been uncovered once again, and things looked fairly peaceful, but the normally friendly citizens of the city looked uneasy as the caravan made its way through the city to the park where they would make camp for the week.  As they pulled in to the small round about at the north side of the city, Menirel noticed there were quite a few new graves in the graveyard by the church.  The fresh plots were just starting to grow the first few blades of grass, but otherwise still looked new.  The church was wide open this day, and the Father was working at pruning the bushes near the front.
     "Welcome to Glenhaven, folks!  If you're a guard, please come and receive your payment, otherwise we'll start setup closer to sundown.  We'll be here for six days, so let me know if you're planning on taking the trip back!"  Menirel stepped down and after pulling his gold from under the wagon seat, he started handing out payments.  The young solider did not come to collect, but rather stumbled off back down the street.  He shrugged, and returned to the business as hand.
     Enirich gazed around him at the familiar, yet unfamiliar streets.  Things looked like they always had, but he had fully planned never to return here.  He didn't want to be a disappointment to his father.  He had been a weak child and even though he had left to get stronger, he had found a place in Waterfordshire.  They probably wouldn't take him back there either, he mused, now that he had caused so much stir and had gotten some good men killed.  Could he even find a place to be now?
     The Stablemaster Gantz glanced his way briefly as he lead a horse out of the stable down toward the parked caravan, but he didn't say anything if he recognized Enirich.  So the young man moved on, saw the young Maribel and stablehand Matthew walking hand in hand down the street, turning into the General store.  No one seemed to pay him any mind.  Maybe he was a ghost.  Maybe he was already dead.
     His home of many years was boarded up.  Enirich stared at it with blank eyes, the home of his parents was closed off and no longer welcoming as it had been for his entire childhood.  He walked around it, trying the back door, then pulling out the key from a hidden spot under the back porch, he let himself in.
     Things had been disturbed.  Someone had been in here, had searched the place, but it didn't seem like things were missing, just messy.  But there were no signs of his parents, no signs of anything left behind.  He wandered upstairs to his old bedroom.  The room was almost like an oven since it had not been opened up for the summer.  There was evidence that someone had been living there since he had left.  Enirich scratched his scraggly beard and looked around.  There was a journal sitting on the desk, and as he flipped through it realized that it looked strikingly similar to his own handwriting, but he had not been here and had never seen this journal before.
     Opening up the window above the desk, a slight breeze came through, and the light from the setting sun shown down upon the bed.  Enirich sat down with the journal in his lap and started to flip through this journal "he" had written, but had never seen before.  As he flipped, the sun moved across the bed.  Details were surprisingly thorough, and it talked about "his" life in the village over the past year.  Someone who apparently looked like him had impersonated him and had convinced his parents to do horrible things and join a cult!  How could they?  Hadn't they always worshipped Chauntea, the goddess of the harvest?  How could they have suddenly turned their back upon her?
     Enirich continued to read, learning about how he had tried to woo the young Maribel, his own cousin, to try to marry her until she had seen his true form...true form?  And then he had tried to kill Maribel, but when that didn't work, he was forced to convince the town that she needed to be sacrificed to the gods of the darkness.... the Under Dark.
     Shifting, Enirich realized that the sun was already setting by now, and he hurried to light a candle on the night stand to continue reading.  The journal detailed the attempted poisoning of Maribel, of the new adventurers who had appeared and had helped Caspian heal her.  Of the plot to sacrifice her, of the raising of the cockatrice and the basilisk.  His parents helped in raising these beasts that "he" had brought with him?  How?  Why?  He shook his head and continued reading.
     The adventurers had left town, and "he" was excited that his plans were working.  Once Maribel was out of the way, "he" would kill his uncle and take over the city and with the help of Gantz, take over the mine.  The mine?  Why would he want a defunct mine?
     "Oh..."  Suddenly a conversation he had in Waterfordshire had come to mind.  The first night in a new city, he had just joined the school to become a solider and was celebrating.  A man had bought him a few drinks after he had started to talk about the riches in the mine.  His father had always told him that it was a direct entrance to the Under Dark and had been the hiding place for vast riches.  When he got drunk, he had told this stranger all of this, and even though he didn't really believe in it, he knew that his father had wanted the secrets to the mine and had tried to get him to marry Maribel himself in order to get the secrets.  Enirich had told the man that he wasn't going back there and waved the letter that he was going to send the next day telling his parents he wasn't coming back.  He didn't want to see the disappointment in their eyes ever again.
     The stranger said he was headed that way and had offered to take the letter...  And because he was drunk, Enirich had agreed and had forgotten it in his hangover the next day.  But now, as he read this, he realized that this man was the man who had impersonated him.  He had somehow convinced his parents to follow him, and as Enirich flipped through the book, the letter he himself had written, fell out.  Unopened.
     For a long time, he watched the flame of the candle flicker along the walls of his old bedroom.  His parents were dead.  They had been convinced by a stranger to do terrible things.  The city had turned in on itself.  And everyone had thought it had been HIM.
     A noise downstairs startled him, and Enirich hurried to blow out the candle, heart pounding.  Something was shuffling around on the first floor.  He went down to the floor and slowly crawled over to the top of the stairs and peered down.  A small figure was going through the house, turning things over, looking for something.  Enirich pulled his dagger and slowly crept down the stairs.
     The figure didn't see him as he crept to the bottom stair.  It was preoccupied with something on the far side of the room, and Enirich, crouching, started to stalk toward the figure as he had been trained.  He had almost made it up to the four foot figure, when suddenly a candle flared to life and it turned, face to face.
     "Ahh!"  A shriek came out of the figure, and it scrambled back and the candle flickered out.  "Don't hurt me, I'm sorry!  I wasn't doing anything, honest!"
     Enirich dropped his dagger and backed up.  "Who are you, why are you in here?"
     "I...well, I was told that..."  The voice was feminine and wispy, "I was told to clean this place up since the boy was coming back..."
     "The...boy?"  Enirich put his dagger back in his sheath, feeling around for the candle that had been dropped.  After a moment or two of fumbling, he managed to light it, and looked in the eyes of the small figure.  "Bee?"
     A female gnome looked up at him, blinked, "Enirich?  Is that really you?"
     Enirich took a breath and let it out, slumping to the floor.  "...Caspian knew I was coming back, did he?"
     "Yeah, although I guess his timing was a bit off."  Ellabee got to her feet and her head was just a bit above his sitting.  She brushed herself off and pulled over a pillow that had been thrown to the floor at some point and sat down on it.  "I could hardly believe that you were still alive, we all thought you were dead.  But then an hour ago the old man says, 'he's on his way, go get his house cleaned up.'  I hate how he knows these things but that's a wizard for you."
     "Did he say who or what that thing was that pretended to be me?"  Enirich saw a surprised expression come over her face and he scrambled to explain, "I found a journal upstairs.  It was written in my handwriting but I didn't write it... said something about his 'true form'.  I'm so confused, my parents are dead and I thought I knew who was to blame but now I just don't know..."
     Ellabee nodded, "It was a doppleganger.  Not many people know that though.  My theory was that he had used some kind of magic to convince them, but there wasn't any magic on them when they died, so whatever they did at the end, they did of their own accord."  She reached out a small hand and set it on Enirich's knee.  "I'm sorry that they're gone, but they were bad people when they died.  They tried to kill those adventurers and so they were killed."
     "So, I have no one.  No where to go..."
     The gnome sighed, pulling back her hand and reaching into a small bag at herself.  "Here, Caspian told me to give you this."  Handing him a scroll, Ellabee closed her bag once again.  "It's important that you know there's a war coming.  I'm sure you had an idea from your training in Waterfordshire, but this little town is going to be the first line of defense and we don't have a Chief anymore.  Your father had known about it.  The Orcs to the north have joined forces with the Underground folk.  It's only a matter of time now."
     Enirich pulled open the scroll.

     Young Enirich,
I know this has been a difficult time for you, but you will need to forget your revenge for now and work on getting an army ready.  Our city has very little time to prepare before it is slaughtered by the oncoming armies.  Your training will help in this matter, and I shall help you take back your place in this town.  Please come to see me when you are ready to undertake this great task.
     Caspian

     "War?  How can I prepare for war?  This is a tiny town!  I have only been training for a few years!"  Enirich let the scroll drop to the floor.  "I'm worthless!  I couldn't even protect my family, how can I be depended upon to save an entire village?"
     Ellabee shook her head, "I don't know, but Caspian believes in you.  I know he's always been rather mysterious, but he knows the future and the past, and if he says it's coming, it's coming."  She stook up from her pillow and straightened her tunic.  "Your uncle the mayor has been keeping the village guard trained for the past few months, but he's struggling with the balance of that and trying to get the defenses rebuilt.  Maribel shows no interest in following in his footsteps.  She has gotten pregnant with Matthew's child and they plan to be married in the fall, so he's been pulled in multiple directions.  Talk to Caspian, he will help you smooth things out with your uncle."
     With that, she set up a fallen chair and headed toward the back door.  "I'll leave you to get some rest, Enirich.  Come see us tomorrow.  We have much work to do."  And then Ellabee left without another word to the young man as he sat looking at the scroll he had dropped.

     The next day after a restless night, Enirich set out before sunrise to Caspian's shop.  The wizard was standing in the doorway with a steaming mug of coffee which he handed to the young man.  "Come in, I was waiting for you, we have much work to do."
   


Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Focus on My Mental Health - pt. 13 - Moving Forward Again

     This is probably going to be a fairly brief post, mainly because I feel like putting "pen to paper" so to speak in order to help work through my anxiety that I'm dealing with currently.  If you haven't been a fan of my rambling posts, you probably don't need to bother reading this.  But it's out there, I'm going to post it, and I can push it out of my mind for awhile.

     I waited through the Memorial Day weekend to see if I would get any phone calls from any of the applications I put out there.  Memorial day came and went, then Tuesday, and now Wednesday, and it feels really weird because I've submitted about eight or so total, had one interview, one call that I failed to get, and that was all within the first two weeks of losing my job.  I was energized, excited, I was starting a new career!!  The world is my oyster!  I will grab it with both hands!  Let's go get something exciting going!
     Then I turned down the first job thinking that it wasn't worth the pay and the worry.  The second call I was so anxious all day long that I literally could not pick up the phone to call until it was too late in the day.  They'd already filled the position.
     I turned to filling out unemployment forms and haven't gotten anything but a headache from the emails saying I need to fill this out, apply here, do this form...and still don't know if I'm going to receive a penny from all of the work I spent worrying over it.  The amount of temp offices that start sending out emails and calling is rather insane to the point that I'm just about to start blocking everything.  But I have to stay on these lists in order to get unemployment, but since I don't even know if I'm going to get anything, it's really aggravating.
     Then my friends started getting some interviews and I spiraled into depression and I was frozen and didn't want to apply anywhere.  But at the same time I just haven't found anything that I want to do.  There's no jobs out there right now that appeal to me and there are so many out there that I just don't fit in with...

     Skip to today and I just feel like I'm trying all of these different things and my anxiety hit me in the middle of the night and I realized I had so much I've put on my plate lately.  I have all of these D&D figures to paint and then I had all of these wooden ornaments to paint and then I bought more because I just needed something to keep my mind off of all of it, and suddenly I was petrified that I'm running out of time and just freaking out about all of it.
     Then on the news today they were talking about how the DOW Jones had dropped some 300 points and they're all talking about how we're hitting a recession later this year or early the next and I'm suddenly panicking because I don't have a job and that's just really freaking me out... I can't go into a recession without a job!!  Especially not another one that lasts like 6 years!!!

      So I applied for a part time job and then realized how dumb it was that I was avoiding the job my friend suggested just because it's a half hour drive or more, and that bums me out to think I'll be spending an hour of my day every day just driving again, but then again, I decided that maybe I'll apply for it anyway.  I nearly had a panic attack before hitting the send button.  My heart started pounding and I got dizzy, but I did it, eventually.  It took three different times and also forcing myself to type out a cover letter for a job I really don't even care about getting.  But, if it gives me $15/hr at least it'll be a bit better than the $12/hr one that I had hit upon.

      And my anxiety is going down a wee bit for awhile.  I keep reminding myself that it's 9:30 at night and I won't hear from anyone for at least 12 hours or longer.  I really hate the idea of working in a corporate environment, but maybe if I can work near some friends it won't be nearly as miserable...  So, we'll see.

Wish me luck... I'm pressing forward.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

The Mid-Life Crisis (A Story)

     I'm taking a break from my mental health series for a short story.  It's mostly just a story about me, but since I think I've burned myself out a bit, maybe taking another approach will be a good coping mechanism.  Perhaps.  If you've been reading any of the previous posts, most likely you will have 'heard' all of this before and can just skip it.  Then again, if you haven't read any of it (or very little) maybe a different format will be of interest to you.  It's up to you.  Enjoy.

     There once was a woman who had decided upon her fortieth birthday that she was not going to have a mid-life crisis.  After all, even though a lot of people considered the big 4-0 "over the hill", she fully planned to live until she was one hundred years old, so at the very least, she had ten more years to plan for the mid-way point.
     Her life was a fairly peaceful one.  She approached it with a mild curiosity, seeing all of her friends get married in their late teens and early twenties, having a few children early on, and then eventually getting divorced, or just deciding they wanted changes by the time they were in their late twenties to early thirties.  She, after all, didn't do any of these things.  She lived at home with her mom until her late twenties, found someone to marry after much consideration, knowing that he would not be like those her friends married who cheated on them or fell out of love early, she had, after all, waited until later in her life.
     The woman had graduated college, debt-free (which was almost unheard of in her generation and the one that followed) and had gotten a full-time job that she had begrudgingly accepted to be her career.  She hadn't actually decided on one, and she's sure there were plenty of people who thought that working the way up the retail ladder was for them, she'd just sorta fallen into it.  People would leave, they'd need someone who knew the job, and she'd be there and had stepped up to the task.
     But not long after moving in with her boyfriend, changing cities, and eventually buying a house, she finally moved up into management.  This seemed nice.  The pay was okay, she knew what she was doing, and things seemed pretty stable.  After all, she worked in a place where people came to get things to create other things, so while stores were closing all over the place, the store she worked was thriving.  People needed things to "make" things for themselves and it was a good racket.
     She didn't notice, since up until this point everyone had been very positive about her moving up, that a spiteful woman who was just a bit ahead of her had started to despise her.  She should have noticed.  The signs were all there just as in her previous stint in retail in her early twenties, the woman started blaming her for all of her problems.  Some of the same things were starting to happen to her with this new manager, but because everything was going so smoothly, and the fact that her manager kept blaming her boss for any issues, she just kept with her upward trend and never looked back.
     Spring, a few year's ago, she started to have an inkling something was wrong.  She came back from vacation to find that she had been demoted.  But not quite enough to get a severance package.  She probably should have quit then, but the idea of finding a new job seemed so impossible.  She'd been in that place for some 10 years or so, how could she just leave and start again?
     So she stuck with it, took the demotion, and kept working, making less than before she became a manager, but it was money, it was still full time, she was still working with people she liked, and even though she did attempt to job hunt for awhile, things were okay at home and things were paid for and she just shrugged and kept plowing along.
     And it actually paid off.  Surprisingly, the woman who took her job left to another store, and the manager acted upset but when the woman didn't come back immediately, she had to replace her with someone else and the mid-thirties woman got to have her spot back again.  Things went okay during that year because the store was working well and they got a new district manager around that time and this new guy seemed much nicer than the older one.
     It was around that time, however, that she really realized that it had nothing to do with that previous district manager.  It was rather, all this spiteful woman she'd inadvertently angered at some point.  She thought it was the district who had made the call to demote her, but it wasn't.  She'd been kidding herself thinking that, because only about a year later, her manager was trying to do it again.  And it was that same lady again.  But she wouldn't give up what she had worked so hard to get back, so the lady didn't re-join them until almost a year later when the manager basically got rid of yet someone else.
     Things began to fall apart soon after that.  The manager just kept getting rid of anyone she didn't like.  The problem with that is a lot of those people were actually really good workers.  They just didn't listen to her because she was a terrible manager and they knew it.  So they listened to our heroine and things rolled along okay, but soon they were all gone, only leaving a handful of good workers, a bunch of good part-time people, and then this manager and her useless friend and of course, our lady.
     Until the manager found a way to get rid of her.
     Honestly, our heroine didn't even know if the manager was intelligent enough to hatch this plan on her own, but she later realized she probably didn't have to, there were two or three other people working against her to.  But she thought she was safe.  She thought by following orders and trying to keep her head down, that things would get better again as spring passed, but she was wrong.  The manager set her up.  Told her to keep an eye on shoplifters all the while knowing that by doing so she could turn her in to get into trouble.
     See, the manager had found out, most likely the week before she left on vacation, that they were going to make a rule that no one could follow shoplifters because an employee had gotten maced somewhere.  And after her vacation she was very careful who to tell this fact to.  Then she continued doing things as always until making everyone sign a very vague email about 'the new protocol' which had nothing to do with being fired and only stated that no one was to follow shoplifters out of the store or put themselves into harm's way.  Then she waited.
     Our lady, who by this point was only a few months away from her fortieth birthday, had known something was up the day that she was tracking her first shoplifter.  Oddly enough the manager sat in the office the entire time and never said a word.  She was careful not to leave the store and never accused the lady, merely tried to dissuade her by being nearby.
     The next day she received an email, a text message and a phone call from corporate wanting her story.  What in the world??  What was this about?  Why was she being asked about this?  She didn't even do more than say a few words and then stand in the doorway at the store and call out the license plate in case her manager wanted to call it in.  That's what they had been doing for years, so why a phone call about it all of a sudden?
     Scared to death, she didn't follow anyone or if she did, didn't say anything in the store about it.  She was told to follow people still, so she did as she was told, and a week or so past and nothing came of the first incident, so she figured all was well.
     It wasn't.
     Another incident, and this time there was only one other witness, but she was in a good mood as she got the merchandise back peacefully and the manager wasn't there to see it happen, and she decided it wasn't worth reporting it.  But she did mention the fellows to the closing manager and told her what happened.
     It was the wrong person to tell.  Apparently she was one of the people who were also against her, just waiting for any chance she got to rat on her.
     The next day they had a phone conference which said, in no uncertain terms, if someone did something that was dangerous they were to turn them in.  She thought about the previous night's incident and was glad she had not reported it.  She'd even looked into the emails to see if the closing manager had and didn't see any sent emails.  And when the call was done, she looked at her manager, wondering if the previous incident was going to lose her the job, but then the manager said, "I don't know about that one, but I have to report last night's, and I don't know about that one."
     Life crashed.  That mid-life crisis she had been trying so hard to avoid all of this time was suddenly knocking at her door and she tried her best to hold it together, but fell apart in the breakroom shortly after.  Her manager really was out for her.  She really did hate her.  The spite that she had in her expression that day cut through to the very bone and she realized just how long this woman had been planning for her downfall.
     The day would pass by uneventfully for another seven hours as the manager ran in, ran out, took a long lunch, came back and avoided everyone and took phone calls.  And when all was said and done, an hour before her shift was to end; once she had covered all of the breaks and lunches necessary, the terrible, hateful manager fired her.

Knock knock!  Mid-Life Crisis here!

     She couldn't even argue.  She wasn't even sure what to say, what to do, just handed over her keys and left.  Then messaged all of her friends that worked there a warning in case the hateful woman came for her too.  Then she drove home in silence, trying not to cry, but then broke down the moment she saw her husband.  It was over.  Over sixteen years of being in retail, of being good at her job, of tolerating her job and trying to live through the stress that this woman had caused in her life... over.

     Changes during this period of life are difficult.  One doesn't feel young enough to start over completely, but not old enough to retire and start over that way either.  She felt like she should continue on in the same line of work, at least for a little while, get back on her feet, at least have a job.  She wrote out a resume, applied for some jobs, waited.  After no responses, she switched tactics, moved to new lines of work and tried applying there.  She was very close to getting a job, but again, if she had been younger then maybe this job would have been better for her.  It didn't offer enough, so she turned it down and went on her way, but nothing else came.
     Her husband said it was fine.  He knew she could take some time off and recover from the stress of this previous job.  She was already acting happier, wasn't she?  So, take some time to figure out what you wanted to do.  So she started plotting some things she had been putting off for a long time - getting into a craft, maybe starting a business of her own.  But it was slow going and she kept getting distracted by other things going on in life.  Plans that they had made when she thought she'd still be working.  She had all of this time open now and yet she didn't think she was getting much accomplished.  She tried doing housework and even tried making her 'home business' a job and yet she kept getting sick, one cold after another, and instead of doing her work she sat on the couch, listless.
     The depression became worse.  She wasn't accomplishing anything and after ten different applications sent out she'd had one 'almost' job offer (she was certain she would have gotten it and fretted now it was her only chance but had turned it down because of low pay and location).  About the same time she had also received a phone call for an interview but missed the call and by the time she was able to return the call it was too late.  She'd screwed up and it crushed her.
     So, swallowing her pride, she applied for unemployment, hoping that perhaps she could at least help her family that way, get some money to live on for a little while.  But she got flagged immediately about breaking the rules and even though things seemed to go on normally (getting sent emails to submit job applications, etc) she got no confirmations about if she was going to receive the money or not.
     This made her doubt herself.  What if other people saw that she had been fired for something that she didn't really do but that was accused of and since she didn't fight it the black mark would always be on her record, forever?  What if no one wanted to hire her because she was a 'bad person'?  What would she do?  She couldn't live off her husband forever, this wasn't the 1980's when men made enough to support a family of four.  Hell, she didn't even have children, no was she planning on them, but she still didn't feel comfortable enough letting him take care of her!  She'd vowed never to be completely dependent upon another human unless she physically couldn't anymore.
     So she updated her resume again, put more details in, peppered it with anything she could think of, and then started sending it out again.

     But then her friends, who were also trying to get out, started to get interviews.  From some of the same places she herself had applied at!  What happened?  Was that black mark really a thing?  Why was this happening to her?  She found out they were getting out, but she hadn't received a single phone call since those first couple weeks.
     Her tenth anniversary past and she was miserable.  This was supposed to have been a fun time.  She was supposed to have taken paid time off to go on a vacation.  She was supposed to have money to be able to take a trip, maybe even finally do their honeymoon, at long last!  But they hadn't planned anything early, and now she had no money coming in and she felt worthless.  She felt like she was a complete and utter let down.  She had wanted to plan all of these special things to do with her husband, and they'd really have a good time together, maybe on a beach somewhere or maybe they'd go somewhere they'd never been before.  But it was too late.  Her anniversary was over, and nothing had come of it except for going to eat at a neat restaurant but she couldn't even enjoy it because she kept thinking about the fact that she wasn't getting interviews or even call backs and no one wanted her.
     She tried telling her husband how miserable she was, but he didn't say anything in reply.  He would say that he was fine, and he'd get upset when she'd tell him that no one was calling, and he'd make noises of concern, but for the most part he just kept to himself.  He didn't want to hear it, she was sure it made him uncomfortable, but he also stepped up and managed to get a raise at work, so at least it was something.  But she knew he was looking for another job too because his job had been rather uncertain since the recession.  Somehow he had kept on only by taking the money they offered and not asking for more until he really needed it.

     And now she had exactly two weeks until she was to turn forty.  She had originally thought she'd hold herself a big party and invite everyone.  Her mom would come down and she'd have her friends over and they'd do a big shindig thing in the backyard and it would be fun.  But...now she didn't feel like she deserved it.  She didn't feel like getting to forty was anything special.  Especially since she was a worthless loser with no job and no direction.
     Maybe this was mid-life.  Maybe this was the crisis.  Maybe there was no way out of this.  Maybe she was going to be stuck with this black mark on her life.  Was it because she chose to wait so long to get married?  Was it because she chose not to have children?  Was she being punished for not popping out a bunch of squiggling babies?  Was it because she hadn't made a life decision of what she wanted to be when she grew up?  She still hadn't completely grown up, had she?  Was there a point?
     Memorial Day weekend came and she realized she wasn't going to hear anything from anyone during the weekend, so she should instead try to buckle down maybe and do things to make herself happier.  So she bought some flowers and did some planting.  She knew she shouldn't have spent much money on it, but things like that made her happy.  She did some trimming around the yard and got some chores done.  She did some cleaning.

     Then she sat down on her front porch with her laptop one day and decided to type out a short story about how miserable she was.  Maybe she would feel better if the words were out on paper.  But she'd been typing these same words over and over; telling the same story over and over again, and she still wasn't feeling any better.  The words weren't getting her a new job.  The words were simply words.
      Her friends were getting out, or at least attempting to get away from that terrible lady, and maybe she was helping make that go by faster.  Was this her actual reason?  Maybe her not getting these jobs that they also applied for meant that they were getting out finally?  Maybe their happiness would eventually lead to hers as well.
     But in the back of her head she worried this was all the beginning of an end of something that had just started.  She'd had some friends, but only recently had made more through that job, and now that she no longer worked there, would she still remain friends with them all?  Would they still be friends if those people also left to find new places?  Would they be able to get together still?  Would they start thinking she was a complete loser if they all got jobs and she didn't?
     These miserable thoughts were always with her now.  When she tried to be confident, those thoughts would start to creep up again.  If she started to think about her friends she would start thinking about that job she was forced to leave, and she'd miss it.  By God, she missed being with those people and being at that job even though it made her absolutely miserable by the end.  She tried to tell herself it wasn't healthy, that she needed to move on, go somewhere else, find a new purpose in life, and she wanted to but she had all of this baggage no  Husw, and she just couldn't shake it.
     It was like she was at an airport with far too much baggage and she kept dropping it to the side and trying to give it to other people and they just kept bringing it right back to her.  And the misery of feeling like she had abandoned everyone - even though she had honestly been forced out and it wasn't her choice - she felt like that baggage just kept coming back.  The mental load all of all of those years was so unbearable that only once in awhile did she feel like maybe the wait had been lifted.  But it would come crashing down again and she kept shrugging it off - trying desperately to get rid of it.
     Writing it down was her way of getting rid of it.  Of trying to work through it.  But it felt miserable and repetitive.  Like this baggage was hers and hers alone to suffer with.  Telling people wasn't working.  They'd bring it back up but also inadvertently make her feel miserable as they'd go on to other things.  One got multiple calls and interviews.  Another started more art and started creating things (something she had wanted to do at one time but felt she had failed at because her other job took too much of her time) and the others were content or at least had jobs where they weren't completely drowning.  Her husband had gotten a raise.
   
     So she wrapped up her blog and saved it.  Closed the computer and decided she was going to avoid thinking about it for awhile.  Gave herself permission to not think about it for awhile, whatever good that would do.  It was a beautiful spring day.  The sun was shining and flowers blooming and maybe thunderstorms in the evening, and it was a day she used to hope to have off from work to enjoy.  So...why couldn't she enjoy it anymore?

Because it was a crisis.... her crisis... one she hoped she could overcome before it destroyed her.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Focus on My Mental Health - pt. 12 - Physical & Crafting Health

     Today is going to be a bit of a mix since I have been sick for the past week since I wrote that last update.  Exactly one Monday ago I decided that I was going to go full-throttle with my crafting table and finally get going on making as much stock as I could.  I think I laid out the pricing plan and all of that last week (yeah, I'm quite boring sometimes, but what can you expect from someone who spends far too much time lost in her own thoughts?) but after Monday was finished I thought I'd continue on in the same routine for the next week.  Surely a 36-40 hour work week of painting will get me pretty far, right?
     Tuesday hit and I painted a bit, but also started to feel allergies encroaching so I switched over to plotting my D&D game that I had going on that night.  If I hadn't been so excited to get through another level with my group I might have just cancelled it when one of the others came down with a cold themselves and didn't make it.  But, we plowed through, everyone survived, and I got to do a ton of damage to them but they made it, and they're stronger for it.  Honestly, I'm a pretty big push-over when it comes to being a DM, I don't really want to kill anyone.
     Then Wednesday and suddenly I'm not feeling so hot and this is the second time I've felt this way in a month, and that's not really a good thing.  So I did what I could and prepared for my In-Laws to make it that weekend but I pushed myself a wee bit too far because by Thursday I was really feeling rough and didn't make it off the couch most of the day.  Good thing the house remains in pretty good shape for the most part since I have guests over on a weekly basis (then again, they're also part of the mess I have to clean up, but I digress.)
     When you're sick you realize that you really have a lot of time to think on your hands.  I realized that I probably needed to update my resume and started to wonder whether I should really have applied for unemployment since I wasn't aware that the job that fired you had to pay for it.  Well, I sort of did since I'd fought a gal years ago over her saying she quit and her claiming she was fired and ultimately I have no idea what came of that... so I should have known in her case it would have been better to have been fired then quit because of...unemployment.  Oh, yeah.
     Didn't happen until today, and of course it might be too late now, and I'm completely aware that I could get my submission back saying "denied" and I'll just carry on the way I have been for the past month, but at least I tried because if nothing else, maybe I can help contribute to the family for awhile again instead of sucking off of my savings as I'm currently doing.
     And I remain sick still, but I did finally update my resume and started finally getting back to what I had hoped to be doing a whole week ago, which was to continue on my path to finally getting my craft table going again.  I have a few more ornaments done, more of my displays well on their first or second stages to being finished, and I finally came up with a business name (of sorts).  So far I don't have any official business since I haven't created anything besides a name and it'll be a few months before I start selling anything to make this an actual 'business'.  But I have an email address and I have a site and a graphic header - which is something I've been training to do for years now but really haven't done much for myself for a long time.
     The design was taken from this photo that I took in the garden today.  I think this is actually already the filtered version since I sort of threw it all in a box and then later added text and made it work for the site.  But I was pretty happy with it overall.  What do you even call your craft table when it has to do with painting really random things?  Came up with "Paintbox" after thinking about the box of paints and brushes I haul around the house with me when I craft.  Then add some wings because everything I do has wings (usually) and then since I couldn't say "Winged Paintbox" since that was a mouthful - "Flying Paintbox" was sorta cute but the name was taken online already so it became the "Magic Flying Paintbox" and the name stuck (since I could get an email address for it) and eventually I'll update this graphic to have unicorns and more glitter and probably paint splatter the thing for the heck of it and it'll really be fun and "me".
     I'll still need to make up some signage and get that ordered soon, so I really need to get to work, but for now something this simple shouldn't be too much effort and if it doesn't all pan out then maybe I'll just eventually give all of this work away as gifts, but it's practice and that's always good too.  I've always enjoyed painting and now I'm putting it to use and so far the hours I've spent on these projects have been pretty worth it and my mind is starting to open up to new techniques.  And then maybe I can translate some of the stuff I've learned from miniature painting into this and vice versa.
     Mind you for now I've been sticking with Christmas ornaments since I have a load of stock of those, and eventually I'll branch out into some larger craft items, but it takes time and effort to figure out what kinds of things you need to make and what kind of techniques go the fastest.  Snowflakes, for example, paint up extremely quick and I'll probably do an assembly line for a handful or more of them later on.  I've also considered (and will probably do so) personalization of the ornaments at the craft fair in order to add a couple bucks on to each but I really need to get to the next step of practicing lettering again by the end of July.
     
      My mental health was a bit better in general today, and I think that's because I also talked to some of my old co-workers again and reached out to make some much needed reconnections.  That's the hardest thing from going from a 40 hr. job where you see the same people nearly every day to suddenly being completely unable to see them again.  I might be an introvert for the most part, but I still need some people in my life once in awhile otherwise I get lonely and more depressed.  And strangely enough, the people that used to wear me out talking to an hour or more (my mom and a few other extroverts I pretty much had stopped talking to) don't nearly wear me out to the point of exhaustion anymore.  So now I'm starting to reach out to them because I'm not already so worn down that I can't stand life anymore.
     So how does this all help with my mental health and well being?  Confidence is a part of it.  Feeling like people actually do want to talk to me and miss me is a huge boost.  Having a few friends go, "I believe you can do this!" is a game changer.  And of course, my husband is still there for me, and all of my family, and I can't for one second deny how awesome that is, but it's nice to find people who are out there who still know and care that I exist and want to create a lasting friendship with on my terms and not out of any obligation.
     
     Now though, I have two really huge life events coming up, one in three days from now...hooooly...three days, what??  My 10th wedding anniversary.  And then in another week or so after that my 40th birthday.  I thought those would be the only life changes I'd have to go through - learning to be older and wiser and hopefully learn something from the act of getting through another year.  But now I'm learning more about myself then I thought I would have - learning what I want out of life and trying to see where this crazy world is taking me.
     So, if you don't hear from me for the next week or so, that's probably because of these two important things coming up.
     And hopefully I'll get over these blasted colds once in for all!

 





 

Monday, May 13, 2019

Focus on My Mental Health - pt. 11 - The Female Burden

     What makes up the female burden?  In a society where we should have stepped over this unfair system of gender inequality, the current presidency has really made it obvious that we're far from being unequally burdened by our gender roles.
     I could probably turn blue talking about how white male stereotypes are not even close to being broken, although there's definitely a push toward this goal; we've also found a sudden pushback because of this feel that many males (and many females, quite honestly) think that there shouldn't be equality.  And I could go on for hours about how men and women don't get equal pay for equal work, and I've already talked a bit about it in the past, but what I'm really here today for is something that I've been feeling about myself this past month, and that is the inability for most women (including myself) to get out from this shadow that we're under, especially when it comes to careers, housework, making money, and making lives for ourselves.

     Let me explain.

     It's been a month since I've been without a job.  I'd worked in retail for very nearly 20 years and had worked my way up until I almost had my own store to run, twice, but each time that I had gotten close to being able to take that next step, something stopped me. And eventually that holding pattern of not taking that next step made it so I was easily crushed (let's just say women who are determined can be just as cut-throat and nasty as men and will easily step on anyone in their way).  But because of my honest nature, I've really never managed to break out of that holding pattern and get to that next step in my life.
     And just why is that?  I guess it's because that ladder-climbing mindset means climbing over some people and stepping on fingers and kicking people off the ladder (I rather like this mental picture as I feel that's what happened to me, I stayed under someone too long and they got tired of me looking up their skirt or something and just shoved me off!) and I just have never felt good about being that person.  Of course, I've worked with plenty of them in the past and know exactly how to do it, but let's just say that I don't want to go to heaven one day and have a list of the people I sacrificed in order to get where I was... or rather not going up, but down to hell because of all of that.
     Let's just say there are probably plenty of women who didn't have to be cutthroat and probably got where they were going without the evil, and I'd really like to work for one of those women someday because I think that's the boss more of us need in our lives.  That's the kind of person that children should be able to work for so they too can dream about being kind bosses and knowing what it's like to get there on your own without having to step on people along the way.  It's honesty and integrity and America just doesn't see those things as virtues any more.
     There are probably just as many people out there who will throw you under the bus rather than ever give you a second glance, and for those people, I just want to say "SCREW YOU" because YOU are what's making this country a terrible place to live in right now!

     How in the world does this pertain to be the female burden?

     I'm getting to it.

     I'd say 90% of women are raised with a set of values: find a job, marry, have kids, take care of the household, and do it all with graciousness, a smile on your face, and don't be a damn burden on anyone because if you are then you are to blame here.  You didn't do your job right.  You didn't do what your husband wanted, or you didn't make enough money or raise your kids correctly.
     Maybe you that is reading this right now are one of the lucky 10% out there with parents who taught you how the world really works.  Maybe you learned it on your own once you were in college.  Maybe you decided that your life was more than kids and marriage and housekeeping, and I'll say that's great.  But society still demands a whole heck of a lot from you.  Even other women demand these things from you, and if they think you're not doing as much as they are (like raising a dozen children for example) then they'll scoff and demean you.

     That's where the female burden comes in.

     Because even if we don't think about ourselves that way, I can guarantee you that 99 of a 100 people are thinking about us that way when they see us on the street, when they see us struggling with children or having a fight with our husbands or whether they see us struggle to find a job.  Society still wants all of these things from us and it's all set up to destroy what we're fighting for; women still can't make as much as men because we still have to do the majority of the house work so we're stuck working part-time jobs, or taking care of the kids, or we're being forced to wear makeup or dress nicely or have to spend our free time doing all of the things that women have to do because that's what's demanded of us.
     And because of this societal demand on us, it starts to creep in on our lives.

     That's where my female burden has come in.  And it's not exactly what you think either.  My personal burden is feeling like I'm a burden.  I have a mindset that I should not be a burden on someone, but also that I don't want to unnecessarily burden myself in my future life either by staying at home and being a 'housewife' because I see what that did to my mom growing up, and only now that I'm nearly - gasp - FORTY - I'm starting to see the signs of what had happened and I have been determined that I would not be that kind of person who depends solely upon another human being.
     Does that mean I don't depend on my husband?  Hell no, of course I depend on him!  We HAVE to depend on one another to get by in this society.  But I also have always wanted to contribute my equal share to both finances and home life and when that's suddenly broken down, it's just killing me internally.
     And yet, I have very little demand on me because I'm a woman.  My stress is mine.  It's a burden I've placed upon myself.  It's a burden that most women place upon themselves.  

THE BURDEN WE PLACE UPON OURSELVES IS THE FEMALE BURDEN.

     My burden is one that is self-inflicted, but it's also in an effort for equality, but the more I job hunt, the more I realize just how difficult it is for me, knowing what hurdles I have in front of me.  If I choose to get into that job field again where it's eat or be eaten, I think I'll die internally again.  But I think if I get into a mind-numbing job of the insurance salesman, I think that would kill me too.  So, I've been applying everywhere, veterinarian offices, glaziers, bookstores, insurance companies, garden centers... and nothing comes back.  I have too much experience in a single field that I don't want to go back to, and I don't want to be a manager anymore, but that's all I've got.

     And yes, I have a husband that's okay with me taking my time finding a job.  He had the same issue when we were dating and I only told him that I wouldn't marry him until we'd settled the credit card debt because I didn't want either of us to be a burden upon one another.  And I worked hard the entire time, full time, all sorts of hours, working all sorts of stressful situations, and I was miserable the entire time, but I continued on.  And he supported me saying he'd try for something better, he'd take care of me no matter what I wanted to do.  And heck, he was starting to do that even before we'd officially started dating - he'd literally started thinking about how to 'save' me long before we were a thing.  
     I really love that.  But I also feel as guilty as hell about it too.

     So for a time I thought I'd start doing things creatively, be my own boss, that sort of thing.  Why not?  But when you start to do the math, setting up craft tables, for instance, really breaks down.  I need to pay for the table space, then pay for stock, then make stock, which takes time (for example, I spent probably $15 on stock, but took 6 hours to make 9 things...  Say I want to make $15/hr doing this job and a table costs $60...  I'd have to sell those 9 things at $18 each to pay for the supply cost, the table, and myself...and oh, how many hours would it take to sell those 9 things at $18 each, because if it takes six hours more to sell them at $15?  I'd have to make them $28 instead, and that's not counting taxes taken out and the fact that no one is going to pay that much money for a little wooden hand-painted ornament that should cost between $5-10.)
     And maybe I should get a part-time job to supplement it?  Then there's no point because why am I working two jobs and neither of them are giving me insurance which is the number 1 reason that I need a job in the first place.  The dentist keeps harassing me for the appointment I cancelled, and the pharmacy kept hassling me about a prescription I couldn't pick up because I don't have money for it anymore, so yeah, that means I have to go into a full-time job again unless my husband does find a better job to take care of us and then there's that "being a burden" thing again.

     As I said, this whole thing is really making my life miserable.  Would I still be miserable if my husband made $100k a year instead of $40K?  Probably.  Because what if he died before retirement?  What if I was like my mom and hadn't been supporting myself for years and thus slowly went into debt during my old age because I'd lost the ability to take care of myself?
     I'd still be miserable.

     I'm honestly not sure that anything will be done about this in my life time.  I was raised the way I am and even though I try to keep the most open of minds that I can, there's things that have been so well ingrained in my psyche it's nearly impossible for me not to go back to them over and over again.  It's another one of my burdens that I must bear.



----------------------------

     I'm sorry this kind of just dwindled out, but it was more of a stream of conscience with me trying to write something that might be more officially bloggy than it is.  I'm practicing at least.  I've never been very good with feminism or civil rights or any of that stuff, but I'm learning.  I was raised a very devote Christian Republican that believed that it was MEN that held the power and the women had to be there to help them no matter what, but I've never believed that we shouldn't also help ourselves.  But I also don't like the hate, the inequality and belief that some people are better than others and that's what gets us ahead in life.  I just can't, because God made us equal.  He put MAN and WOMAN into the garden.  It doesn't say anywhere about putting white men here and black men here...  Or if you don't believe in creation then you should believe that every human came from the same creature as it crawled out of the ocean, which means that no one was any better than anyone else to begin with - no matter which way you look at it!

     But I'm also here to say that I'm trying to find a way to keep my life together and on this Monday I decided to create my own "work day" by spending my 10-5 day (at least) working on stock for my craft table and at the very least if I get it all ready now, come August I'll be ready if I have another job or not.  And also working on chores and getting other things done as well.
     Wish me luck, I'm still a work in progress.

     
     

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Focus on My Mental Health - pt. 10 - Setback

     How can you tell if you're currently having a setback day?  Because I can't touch the phone right now.  I'm trying to get over it.  Thought maybe if I wrote it through that I'd feel better enough to do what I need to do, but my brain is not letting me reach out and dial the numbers.

     Last Wednesday I decided to mow the lawn after putting in a couple more applications over the weekend.  I had a bit of a prayer session while mowing, asking that if any of the jobs I had applied for were the right ones for me that I'd get a phone call that day (or rather, I guess before going to my interview on Friday) and the day was quiet and I never heard the phone nor feel my cell vibrate in my pocket as I mowed.  I came in and checked the answering machine and it wasn't blinking.
     Skip forward to Friday, got my interview over, no problem.  Skip to Saturday and picked up the phone to call my mom to talk to her and it said there was a new voice mail.  I hadn't seen that before, checked it, two days before I'd had a call from one of my applications wanting me to come in for an interview, call them back.  At that point I was in a pretty good place so I did almost immediately after getting the message but the manager was out until Tuesday.

     Skip forward to Tuesday - that's today.  Woke up early, the person who had answered the phone the other day said she'd be back in by nine and maybe call a little while later, to get things sorted out?  Okay, but can I leave my name that I called?  Okay, so I did, felt better, moved on, thought about it a bit, needed to get ready for the weekend, kind of pushed it to the back of my head, until this morning.
     Nine in the morning.  Reach for the phone....no.  Not yet, she's probably just gotten in and had a weekend of things to catch up on.  Nine Thirty - pharmacy calls saying I have a prescription ready - I've been ignoring them, just really don't want to deal with that right now.  Let's wait a bit longer, my heart was already pounding thinking that maybe she was calling me.
     Ten in the morning....anxiety.  And I mean ANXIETY.  Tried to calm myself down but my brain was running by then.  Do I really want to work in retail again?  What about those bad reviews I read online about this company?  Sure, not a problem.  But what about the drive?  What about in winter?  What if I call and they've already found someone else?  What if....?  What if?  What if?!!!

     Eleven.  Husband comes down, wants to go get some things at the store.  No, not going to go, too nervous - what if I miss the call?  What if I just call NOW, myself?  No, not with him around.  Just go...head to the store, I'll stay here.  No calls.  Can't reach for the phone.  Too nervous.
     Eleven thirty.  Go out front and do some weeding in the garden.  This will calm me down, right?  Realize I'm having a bit setback day.  The anxiety has returned and every time that I start getting myself pumped up again, I drop right back.  What if I don't get it at all?  What if I'm stressing myself out about all of this and I don't even get the job?  What if I do get the job and I can't get time off to do all of the things that I have scheduled this summer?  What if I can't afford to do any of that because I don't have a job to do it?

     So, maybe if I write?

     I pause for a minute to watch a clip on TV and get annoyed because my husband is chomping and munching and crunching next to me.  I just want him to go somewhere else to eat his lunch.

     I think that's anxiety too.

     I think I'm hungry too.  Maybe I'll eat.  I have a game to prepare for this afternoon.  I have a house to straighten up before everyone comes.  I have less then 5 hours to get all of that done and I still haven't done what I was supposed to do this morning.

     What I was supposed to do this morning was get up, get a shower and dressed.  Then call the store and set up an interview, which, in my mind this weekend would happen almost immediately so I would go over to the store and then hit the pet store for cat food afterward.  Then come home and prep the game.

DAMN IT STOP CHEWING


Had lunch.  Watched some television.  Talked to a friend on the phone.  2:30pm rolled around and I finally had enough confidence to call the job.

     I was on hold for a bit and finally came back and said, the gal was already holding interviews right now and she'd keep my application on file.

     I didn't call back.  I screwed myself.  What an idiot.

     But maybe my friend was right, maybe things happen for a reason - maybe I didn't hear the phone call on that day not because I'd asked to hear from the 'right job' on that day, but because that wasn't the right job so I didn't hear from it and I guess the reason I was so adverse to calling all day was all for a reason....right?

     I feel a bit bummed though.  I feel like I failed myself.  But also, sort of relieved too, maybe?  I don't know.  I guess I have other things I need to do... and I need to get myself back into a better mental state.  But I do feel like today was kind of a setback day.  And it shouldn't be because it's a beautiful, sunny spring day and I shouldn't be feeling down on myself...

But I do.


Friday, May 3, 2019

Focus on My Mental Health - pt. 9 - First Interview

     Through this week I started debating whether to go to the interview that I had scheduled for today.  The company sounds like a pretty up-and-coming kind of startup which is kind of cool, but after the phone interview stated I'd have to get downtown, find parking on my own, and of course it happened to be raining today, I really wasn't sure if I wanted to put in the effort.
     My husband said it would be good practice, and it was, after all, my only call I've gotten in the two weeks of applications so far.  So last night I told myself I could always just cancel, but I needed to get going and try it out.  I live in a rather large city, but it certainly doesn't feel like it until I have to go down there.  But with my smartphone in hand and Google maps leading the way, what could go wrong?
     I found out a lot could go wrong.  The rain was pouring down so traffic was barely going the speed limit when it tried, and I was getting along pretty well into the downtown area but turned down a street too early and wound up having to go nearly a mile down before I could find a road to turn around (a LOT of streets didn't allow turns off of them during that time of day, who knew?) so eventually I headed to the lot where I was going to attempt to park...it was full.  Dang nabbit!
     My eyes glanced at the clock at each stop light.  I scanned the street looking for other lots but they were all monthly and only public after dark.  Why didn't this business have an arrangement for parking anywhere?!  Seriously!  I wound up probably a half a mile away and had just about fifteen miutes to hoof it to the building.
     So I took off in the rain (thankfully I have an excellent rain jacket but I hate carrying umbrellas) and every time the crosswalk stopped me I glanced at my watch.  I was about a block away at the five minute mark and had a hard time locating the button to the elevators, so embarrassing.
     I got there with literally two minutes to spare before 10am and there was already another lady there sitting on the bench near the receptionist and she patted her seat once I'd checked in.  I was red in the face, wet, and hadn't really had time to go to the bathroom to freshen up, as apparently this lady had, because she looked like she had just stepped out of a beauty salon.
     The only thing I felt I had somewhat going for me by that point was the fact that I was younger then her, but she was friendly and introduced herself and we talked while I waited for someone to come interview me.
     A few minutes later I was taken into an awesome, "tell me about yourself" and then "what questions do you have?"  And I stumbled out what I could but I really couldn't tell because the guy conducting the interview didn't seem excited either way.  Eventually he got up after 20 minutes, said he was going to see if the CEO was free to see me, left for a minute and returned saying he was busy, and then thanked me for coming in.

     It was rather an odd interview, I thought later as I was headed back down the elevators and walking back to my car.  In this sort of day and age you'd think they'd have more questions to ask.  As far as I knew they had already decided not to hire me so it felt like they were just conducting the interview to humor me (although, if they did that, why the heck bother to even ask me to come in?) and the lady at the front whom I had assumed was there for another interview wasn't even there when I came out.  In fact, there was no sign of her and she had never passed by and I have no idea if she just had an appointment with someone else or not.  But it was rather strange.
     So I came home after my first interview in over 15 years just not knowing how it went at all.  Why did you want to apply with us?  Dunno, just saw you in the paper and thought I'd see what it would be like to interview in cubicle setting.  Never had a job interview in a skyscraper before.  Kinda seemed cool to be in a big city like that.  I remember as a teenager/early twenties wanting to move to New York because I thought I might like big city living.  However, I know for a fact that I would not because there's not enough green - but on the other hand, the city is fairly green and the building overlooks the capital building which is really nicely landscaped.

     But, as of six hours later I haven't even received an email - and I had gotten an email initially within an hour or so of applying for the job in the first place, so that's not exactly promising I guess.

     I did it, though.  And I wasn't even scared of being downtown.  I was more angry with myself for thinking that I could just go down there, get a place to park and be able to walk right in.  My feet were soaked by the time I got home in a combination of rain and sweat, I think.  But at least I was confident enough to try it.
     And it felt like I was this old fogey walking into a startup company where everyone was so many years younger than me.  Didn't know that it would happen so quickly.  I remember watching some movie five or six years ago about two guys who join a Google-like company and then manage to get in and start learning how it was like to be in a younger man's job.  And it was so odd for that person to suddenly be me, worrying about whether I was too old to work at these places even though I'd like to say I'm fairly young at heart when it comes to most things.
     But, it's a start.  I guess I'll keep putting out applications and seeing if I get any bites.

     In the meantime, I've been working on doing some other writing and also working on painting miniatures since I have a huge chunk that arrived yesterday that will most likely take me six months to assemble and find homes for, little lone a few more years to get painted!