Getting There To Look Back

Today was my first day of work. At my first job.

I suppose I haven’t mentioned this – about a week ago a man whom I shall call Mr. Lewis (his face reminds me of the character ‘Lewis’ in the USA Network show ‘Suits’:

 Strides into the self-storage office where the notorious Heather Madame works and asks if she happens to have any friends looking for a part-time job. I’ll save you an unusually long blog post (though this is me we’re talking about) and say simply one thing led to another and here I am – well, there I was. Sitting behind a large desk in a comfy leather chair staring at furniture catalogs and studying for an exam on Wednesday.

Me and Heather Madame woke up early today to grab breakfast at The Cafe before going to the storage office for hot chocolate while I waited for Mr. Lewis to arrive and for my first day of work to begin. I feel as though I should go into the conversation between me and Heather as we sat in the back room of the office, sipping our hot chocolate and sitting semicomfortably on the metal fold-out chairs around a table covered in various documents and writing utensils. We talked about how she was doing after her panic attack and the stress she has been under. I want to talk about that here, but here’s the thing: during the conversation, I did something I have never done before – my mind flicked to my blog, and I contemplated taking mental notes on the conversation to report back here.

Can I say simply, I feel like a dirtbag because of that?

After we spoke, she had to take measurements of something in a unit to report back to Carlisle (her fiance, whose father owns the self-storage business) so I whipped out my flatiron and went to work on my hair and make-up while she went about some business or other.

Mr. Lewis appeared about ten minutes early and I went on over to the furniture store where I know work – I’ll call it The Gallery. He trained me for an hour or so and then left with his son (an adorable tough-guy 5-year old with spikey blonde hair and intense blue eyes – he reminds me of a pale, young Taylor Lautner with his strong browbones and simple nose), leaving me to watch the store and try not to burn the place down while I was at it.

All I remember of those long hours, at least very clearly, is the pacing pack and forth from one end of the store to the next, memorizing prices and reciting the discount protocol for the on-floor items. The pointed heels of my shoes clicked and echoed in the empty air around me, sometimes accompanied by my mumbling of mnemonic devices. It was a rather lonely day, very few people came in which, according to everyone who has been in the store, including the woman working next door, is very unusual. The person who stayed the longest was said woman, who owns the shop to the left of The Gallery. An older woman, with grey hair and kind eyes. I was so desperate for human contact by the time she came in that I followed her everywhere and commented on everything she said. Me and Heather spoke on the phone and, since I forgot to bring any lunch, she snuck me over a few pieces of jerky and I drank a Gatorade from the minifridge by Mr. Lewis’ desk. Batwoman would not be pleased if she knew I wasn’t eating protein every three hours, but there was little I could do at that point. I remember two hours before closing I was pacing the floor (again…) thinking of how bored I was, I studied for two hours, talked to Heather until she left for home, memorized the prices on every sofa, loveseat, dining table and headboard in sight. Now what was there to do but pace and think of how I had done all there was to do? I wanted to go home and sleep and, for goodness sake, eat something besides another mint from a bowl on the clearance 7-piece dinette set.

I then resisted the urge to slap myself across the face.

Ever since I turned 16 last year I had been trying to get a job. Any job. I only got 4 job interviews from hundreds of applications filled out up until the wee small hours and in any form possible. And there I was, walking around on my first day of work thinking about how much I wanted to go home?

I won’t deny that this didn’t completely erase my boredom and want for edible materials, but it did make me feel immensely grateful for where I was, and silenced the petty complaints that had started coming to the surface of my thoughts.

Tuesday The Candywoman wants me to return for another day of babysitting (I had been a nanny for her two kids:

Andrew

And

Madison

It’s money. Goodness I hate that I really think that, but that is the main reason I’m going to babysit for The Candywoman one last time. I know I want to help her, I saw her heart breaking as she shut down her business (she had a chocolate shop in the same building as ‘The Muffinwoman’, who owns The Cafe me and Heather Madame run over to whenever we have the time and extra money), but blame greed for being my main motivator for this upcoming babysitting stint. I hope money doesn’t rule my life, my thoughts, my motivation always. When I’m a forensic psychiatrist some 15 years in the future, I’ll be making around 500$ an hour – no money fears there. I just hope I don’t always think so much of money. When we lived in the mobile home, I remember the feeling of worry and tension always, will we be able to live here another month? Do we have enough for food tonight? Is everything going to be okay? Money offers security, safety, certainty. I hate the struggle for money, the need for it for security and a comfortable life.

Money can’t buy happiness, it just buys the roof over your head, the food that keeps you alive, and the clothing that keeps you warm and socially accepted.

On the 20th of next month me and mom are going over to Baylor University for a tour – if I set my sites on Baylor, this means letting go of my original dream of going to UTPA (University of Texas Pan-American) but I think as far as motives go, I’m on the right one with this. After me and mom’s grand showdown I thought about exactly why I really wanted to go to UTPA. The answer is childish and juvenile and I thought I would be above it. I wanted to go because my mom didn’t want me to.

For so long my mom had been pressuring me to go to a college close to home, or somewhere where they wouldn’t mind moving closer to me. UTPA is next door to Mexico and not in the area where my mom would be most comfy. Also, they have a grand doctoral program and the students have a high acceptance rate into medical schools. After the fight, I looked at why I really wanted to go to UTPA. I realized that, when I’m finally on my own, I want to be on my own. My brother is 19 and has no plans whatsoever for any education or job or serious career path, comfy cozy hanging back at home. I have such big dreams, big ambitions, and I want that to be a new chapter in my life, a chapter that doesn’t include my old life dropping in every weekend to tell me how difficult and unlikely it will be for me to accomplish any of it.  I flipped through the Texas College Guide (there is no shot on this earth I’m going to college anywhere but in Texas…ya’ll) a few more times when Baylor caught my eye. The more I looked into it, the more I liked what I saw. Even the location (which is closer to *cue heavenly music* McKinney) is fantastic. It’s also about two hours away from my mom. I want to go to Baylor, whatever comes with it comes with it (mom hates hour-long drives anyway.)

As much time as I spend contemplating other people’s perception of me, I also spend worrying about regretting my choices. When I’m old and grey will I hate myself for doing what I’m doing? For what I’m going to do? I know regrets are impossible to avoid, but I want to do the right thing, with the right intent. So if it goes south I can know my heart was right.

Ten minutes ’till midnight. Goodnight.

–Hannah-Elizabeth/Classic

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This Is Where I Say Something Witty

Get a grip.

This has become my mantra the past few weeks.

We saw Batwoman last night to get my supplements for my various mental and physical maladies. We were only supposed to stay for a few moments and leave, so don’t inquire as to how the situation went from a discussion of supplement dosage into a mother/daughter therapy session. I haven’t been remembering many details of conversations lately, usually I could type up word-for-word what happened, but nothing is in order in my mind lately, everything is scattered. I just remember laughing with Olga and my mom one moment and then crying on Batwoman’s shoulder moments before leaving the beautiful apartment building, with its white iron balconies and pretty bridges surrounding. I remember talking to my mom and having this conversation witnessed, like John Gottman’s ‘Love Labs’ which observed arguments between married couples to see which ones survived and which ones ended in a fiery divorce. My mind flicks to my latest day in Anatomy and Physiology class – the feeling of devastation when Mrs. Bare announced the weekly vocabulary quiz. I turned to my right and whispered over to Sydney, “Was that posted on the class site?”

“We have vocabulary, like, every week.” She replied before turning away. I felt Matthew watching me (a young man for another blog post entirely) and swallowed hard, staring with ice in my stomach at my blank notebook page where the definition assignment should have been lying plain as well. I flick back to saying goodbye to Olga, I suddenly sobbed and she stroked my hair like a mother would a child and spoke softly as she hugged me. I wanted to be comforted, but my mother was standing nearby, waiting for the tears to cease.

I want her to see I’m on her side, but I want Olga to help me.

I hold back when I speak directly to my mother, to Heather, to everyone in my life. Because no one needs my baggage. No one should have to be placed suddenly into the role of therapist when they have asked for nothing but simple conversation. But there is suddenly this person in my life, Batwoman herself, who has made it clear that (her words precisely) she would love to be my therapist. She wants to hear it all, she wants me to call her in the wee small hours when I need someone to talk to. It’s an incredible gift. No guilt, no regret. But I have yet to call her. Because she knows my mother.

The odd thing is, I trust her. She is what the Taoist monks would call a wood person. She creates boundaries and breaks them in her life, she is honorable, and she takes the initiative. I know she can be trusted because she does not gossip – it simply isn’t her, she is above it. I know if I asked her to then anything I say would go straight into a vault and never come out. But…

It’s been a long time since I completely let go of everything I was thinking to someone – I know, dear friends, here I am, baring my soul every few days. But this is different. To have that human connection and look someone in the eye while I say the things I tell all of you – there be dragons, either that or it’s the edge of the world. Heather used to be my unbounded confidant, but I care too much about her to put all of this onto her like I did before. I was so selfish, and I’m human enough that I still am, but now I know what I value enough to lie to.

Get a grip. Get a grip. Get a grip. Hold back here and there and write it out before stuffing it away in my doctors-bag style purse along with a dozen other little notepads and journals. Tiny progress reports on my life from there to here and onward. I sometimes wonder what the police, or anyone, would think if I were killed and they were stuck with all of it. Sorting through my various streams of consciousness at key points in my life. I’ve tried to read my notes through the eyes of an observer. Sometimes I feel envy, other times pity, others yet, anger. So much of my time is spent wondering how others perceive me – and trying to live up to, and move beyond, any of their expectations. But lately, I feel like I’m being dragged underwater, a ball and chain clamped to my ankle, pulling me down, down, down until I wonder if I should stop holding my breath – no, I am not holding my breath, I realize. I am not slowly and peacefully glancing wistfully up to the surface, wishing I could find my way back to where I once was. No.

I am thrashing. I am screaming, I am clawing at the open sea around me, watching the moon and the stars and everything I had such a clear view of turn murky and dark.

Get a grip. Get a grip. Get a grip.

I am so terrified of failure, of looking like a fool, of being perceived incorrectly, of having my character and reputation torn to shreds, that I’ve forgotten that it’s okay to look like an airhead. Appearances don’t matter and they won’t hold up anyway. But my mind is everywhere, I can’t remember what I used to remember so easily.

I don’t feel like I’m going crazy, I just feel like I’m losing my mind.

–Hannah-Elizabeth/Classic

Looking (My Fear Of) Death In The Face – Pt. 1

“What a beautiful bridge.” I commented, feeling like we were driving in the middle of a giant art sculpture. I realized how close we were to Batwoman’s studio apartment.

Addison, Texas is an odd place. It has seedy motels, homeless wanderers who bathe in the fountains, and skinny little white boys who seem to think by some stretch of the imagination that they are indeed, gangsters. But in the middle of the filth and poverty, is an area of artistic flair, youthful nightlife, and, oh, shall we say, sanitation. This area would be where Batwoman resides. And where me and my mom were headed Sunday night.

I should probably mention, her name isn’t really the female counterpart to the hero of Gotham City, her name is Olga.

We pulled up to the victorian-styled building and I wrestled with my purse at my feet for a moment, the darned strap was stuck to the bottom of the seat. Eventually I gave up and quickly unzipped it to whip out my make-up to touch up before grabbing my hat and jumping out of the car. The beautiful faded brick and white-iron railed balconies again captured the images from my daydreams. I love this street.

Mom’s iPhone suddenly dinged with a message from Olga, and I looked up to the balconies, expecting to see the familiar raven locks and light green eyes. But I saw no one. I looked expectantly to my mom while holding my hat down in conflict against a sudden breeze.

“She’s going to meet us at the entrance.” She was still staring at her phone. “Usually she just tosses the key down.”

I followed her as she walked down the sidewalk and made an abrupt right. I blinked rapidly for a moment as I realized there was a very narrow hallway in the wall that wasn’t even visible until one was directly upon it. I paused and looked around me. A busy street square to my left, more sidewalk to my right, and a beautiful fountain directly behind me across the street. I wanted to find a reason to savor the moment, but the quickening echo of my mom’s gold flip-flops snapping against her heels told me she wasn’t in a Kodak mood.

We came upon a large tan gate, I had never seen one before except in movies and felt a need to study it up close while I could. Suddenly rapid footsteps down a stairway inside the gate could be heard. I watched the visible landing for her shoes. Five seconds turned to ten, then fifteen before we saw Batwoman.

“Hey!” Mom said in greeting

“Hello there at last!” She exclaimed. ‘At last’ was my thought exactly, for two months now we had been trying to arrange a meeting.

She wore cork-wedge high-heeled shoes, dark green khakis, and an intricately rhinestone studded t-shirt.

I thanked her as she held open the gate. Even in heels she was about an inch shorter than me. After she closed the gate she greeted me again and hugged me in an awkward embrace. She was thinner than I had remembered.

Olga’s thick accent somewhat faded into the background as we worked our way up the steps- and I assure you, there were plenty of them. I looked around us with each landing, suddenly dissociating because of the new environment (a bit that’s part of my anxiety – dissociation is when you feel like you’re watching the world through a movie screen and not totally involved in the situation.) The walls were a light-grey, the door frames were painted gold. There were echoes everywhere from our footsteps and the conversation of my mother and our host.

Her apartment wasn’t as grandly decorated as I had anticipated. From what I had heard, Batwoman has a good deal of money and spends it on worthwhile items. The walls were a typical eggshell white. She had a decent-sized kitchen and large bathroom, the rest of the place being taken up in the largest room which contained a king bed, a 50-inch TV, two bookshelves and a desk and chair. I thought for a moment on what I could compliment her on, but doubted my own sincerity and remained silent.

“Well,” She said, leading us into her livingroom/bedroom/office/library, “Here we are. Please, have a seat, Hannah.” She motioned to a large, tan leather office chair behind me. I sat.

There was a moment of awkward silence as Batwoman contemplated her next move. She looked tired and slightly haggard. A large contrast to when I had last seen her on a chilly night in November. She suddenly walked into her kitchen, my mother following after a pause. I listened until heard the sound of glasses clinking a few seconds later. I stood and joined them in time to see Olga placing the business end of some odd little device into a pitcher of water. It looked like a beige colored remote with flat buttons and a wire that led to a metal tube, the little remote beeped several times and she dropped the tube into the pitcher. I looked over to my mom with a look of What is this wizardry? She inquired of the device and Olga attempted to explain through the language barrier (she speaks excellent english, but sometimes things get lost in translation). So, there we all stood around this pitcher emitting a muffled buzzing noise for several seconds. The little remote then beeped a cheerful little tune, to which Olga removed the metal tube and poured me and my mom glasses.

After I sat, Olga took the chair at her desk by me and, having nowhere else, my mom took a seat at the edge of the bed. A twinkle in her eye when we heard Olga insist I drink the water. Mom had warned me about the water and our host’s unorthodox means of filtering. I took a sip, fully prepared to fall into convulsions, a coma, followed by death. But, to my slight surprise, none occurred.

“So,” Olga said, leaning forward in her seat and watching me with her intense stare, “Why do you think you cannot fix yourself on your own?”

End Part One

My Meeting With Batwoman

Bat signal

Image by goosmurf via Flickr

Olga has come to be something of a superhero. Like a bedtime story.

Listening to mom describe various superpowers and bullet-proof invincibility, you sit there. Doe eyes, perked ears and slacked jaw, you marvel at the fictional figure being presented to you in the form of one miraculous tale after another. Someone you’ll have dreams about and aspire to become, showing your undying alliance in the form of plastic bat ears and foam biceps when Halloween rolls around, knowing all of the cool kids will recognize the image you portray.

If I hadn’t seen her with my own two eyes one dark night in Addison, I would believe her to be fiction.

Olga is a strikingly beautiful, unbelievably intelligent Russian my mother went to beauty college with. And today at 2:00PM, she is going to be my unofficial physician.

Yep. Still sounds like fiction, doesn’t it?

It’s 5:29AM, I haven’t slept for a single minute, and I have no idea what today is going to involve. For the first time in months I’ll be going to church (church sanctuaries trigger my panic attacks so, I suppose we’ll see how I work that one out.) And, as mentioned, I will be meeting Olga. Addison (where she resides) is a bit of a drive, but it is worth it. It’s apartments are beautiful, the streets are clean, the public art has a fresh, modern appearance to it. I certainly wouldn’t mind living there one day. And it is the location of hopefully a new chapter in my life. Starting with a hair sample being snipped and sent off to a lab somewhere in Arizona to be sliced, diced, boiled and analyzed. Hopefully holding some key or other to my panic attacks (though I still believe my anxiety symptoms to be predominantly psychosomatic, I have a family history of anxiety, which leads me to want to seek more organically medical roots – pun not intended.)

I shall write more later on. After a quick early morning meal I suddenly feel rather tired, and I’ll take any sleep I can get.

Until then,

–Hannah-Elizabeth/Classic