Sunday, July 28, 2013

My Ugly Life, in pictures

A Preface to this Post, by way of explaining the title:

This morning I watched an interview with romance writer Nora Roberts.  I don't read a lot of (by that I mean any) romance, or fantasy (aren't they the same thing, really?), and not just because I'm a literature snob (though I am).  I find myself reading a lot of non-fiction, or else realistic fiction, what the bookstores, if they designate at all, bless their hearts, often call "literary fiction."  Something about memoir, or wholly human-bound, painfully real fiction makes me feel grounded, corroborated, less alone.

For example, right now I'm reading Fletcher Wortmann's memoir about obsessive-compulsive disorder, Triggered.  These words, his words, rang out like a bell I'd been hearing in my ears all my life:

"Being good meant being quiet, and obedient.  Suffering, especially pointless suffering, was rewarded.  I remember as a child pining for these moments, looking for new ways to be hurt and abandoned.  I sought out pain so that I could survive it and be rewarded."

It felt good, reading those words, and not just because I'm a masochist (though I am), but also because someone else had felt, and named out loud, something I had felt, and still feel. 

In the same way, but different, one of my favorite fiction books is The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty, wherein a fat, lazy-ass middle-aged man who'd given up on life digs his old bicycle out of his dead parents' garage and, after a banana, rides across the country. 

So you see, it's not all pity party; sometimes there's happy endings, just without the mansion and the luxury car and the lavish gifts and the supernatural offspring and the gold eyes and quivering bust. 

As tempting as it is to make believe, I don't have fairy wings or magic powers or a high-powered job or a yacht.  I'm real, I'm one of the ugly people Nora Roberts rejects writing, outright.

But that's okay.  I'm here, and I'm writing, and there's others like me doing the hard work of finding and writing about your ugly people, the ones with maybe a slightly crooked tooth, or a mental disorder(s), or a bad job, or kids that are failing school, that are basically good people but apparently not best sellers. 

I've been working on this post, in my head, for a little while, fooling around with what to include, what to leave out, and what to title it.  I decided to leave nothing out.  And I decided to title it "My Ugly Life."

Thanks, Nora Roberts. 

The Actual Post:

Sometimes, you feel like climbing into a dumpster and just being done.  Just let that be it.  And hey, maybe you'll get to travel because Lord knows a trash ride to the ocean is the only way you can afford a vacation.

this is honest-to-goodness a sign on my dumpster that I took a picture of
But then there's a sign, an actual sign that someone, or a team, probably a whole team, thought up and designed and posted on every dumpster that tells you very explicitly not to ride trash to the ocean.  You can try to occupy wall street if you're not afraid of tents or hippies or a chemical peel courtesy of the police, but you cannot occupy this container.  Not for any purpose.  They even drew a picture of a man having a lot of fun and very excited about riding trash to the ocean, with a big NO! DON'T DO IT! circle over it. 

So, that plan's marked off the list.  Anyway, everybody responsible tenants throw their pets' doodies in there, so it's probably not a good idea. 

Besides, you have to go to the grocery store. 

At the grocery store, which is Wal-Mart, because you also have to buy panties, and Wal-Mart is the only grocery store with also panties, you stand behind an old man in line and remember the Balmex: Adult Care commercial you saw earlier. 

This commercial means that some adult people are getting diaper rash, which means that you will most definitely be getting diaper rash when/if you're older because already you have to cross your legs, preventatively, when you sneeze.  You stand in line and consider the back of the old man's head.  Then, you consider his groceries. 

None of these meditations are encouraging, though you feel a little happy for the old man about his wine, in a certain way, also you feel a little bit like following him home, for the wine, or maybe just having some wine by yourself, except that wine makes you headachy and feverish and sleepy and gives you palpitations instead of anything like a buzz or courage or a sense of sophistication or a lover. 
So, that plan's marked off the list.  Anyway, you don't have hardly any money for panties groceries anything, much less wine. 
Besides, you have chores to do at home. 
Which is a big deal, because you've roused yourself enough to face the outside world and complete an errand, which is difficult to do when you're a little chronic fatigued and a little depressed, and a little socially anxious and a little attention-deficited and little obsessive-compulsed all at once:
(...a little)

But you mush on.

You need to do the dishes, but...

...there's a cat in your sink.
Which reminds you of cats' asses, so you decide to change the litter boxes, and on your way to change the litter boxes you maybe break but definitely really, really hurt to the point of bruising your toe:

(the purple one next to the pinky toe)
Later, on the phone, after telling a neighbor friend about your horrible toe-breaking day, she suggests that you "buddy tape" it to the toe just beside it, whichever one it's leaning away from, so that your toe, in healing, doesn't become deformed. 
You laugh at that.  You look down at your naturally gnarled, stubby, gap-spaced, pitiful toes and think of Shrek and other mud monsters and laugh. 
So, that plan's marked off the list.  Anyway, you can pick up things with your toes and hold on to them which, you never know when that's gonna come in "handy" or, footy, so, the joke's on normal-toed people, I think. 

Besides, you've been meaning to clean the crud off the bathroom. 

You've got a shower caddy that holds your things while you're trying to shower, because who can juggle bath products and rub soap on their bodies at the same time? It's really a neat shower caddy except that sometimes it gets rust on it because it's stainless steel and apparently stainless does not also mean rust-less, so sometimes you have to take all the stuff out of it and take it down from the shower and take it to the sink in the kitchen and ask the cat to get out of the sink then you put the shower caddy in the sink and give it a bath, scrubbing it with a little ball of shiny, shredded metal called "steel wool," but that you could also call a "I-cut-my-finger-with-a-strand-of-steel-wool-and-it-turns-out-that-steel-wool-is-not-at-all-soft-like-sheep's-wool" weapon:

* warning: if you are queasy about blood, scroll past this picture very quickly *




that really,


Sorry to have to show you this, but I did say "in pictures"...

It's times like this that you want to fix everything by eating.  You think about cooking some comfort food, but you don't have any because the doctor won't allow it because of your acid reflux, also because cheese is expensive, also because you can't cook, so you decide to open a can of peas and heat those bitches up instead.  Damn peas.  You grab a cooking pot off the stove, where you keep your pots, because they're going to end up on the stove anyway, so why put them in a cabinet first? I like to cut out the middle man.  But anyway, you grab a pot, and it feels a little heavy, which is confusing, but you take the lid off, and YOU REALLY SHOULDN'T HAVE DONE THAT because
I cannot
I don't
have a
of this.

there are beans, green beans, in there that have been in there for a long, long time.  Rough estimate?  5 weeks.  Because even though you have obsessive-compulsed disorder, you also have attention-deficited disorder, so you forget about things like having a pot of green beans on the stove that need to be put up in a not-room-temperature type place.   
Obviously, due to an infuriating lack of foresight, I failed to take a picture of the rotted beans, but I can tell you what they smelled like.  They smelled like they had been in there farting, the beans farting, with the lid closed, the whole time. 

By this point, you're disgusted and just too plum exhausted (plum exhausted is way worse than regular exhausted) to even read a book. 

So you sit on the couch and wait for the *day to be over.  As the day does begin to dim, and the flicker of the television slowly takes over as the only source of light, you start to fear the shadows around you because you're afraid of the dark and it always feels like someone is watching you, enjoying your misery, because, of course:
they are.
The next day, you'll get up, and on your way back from the doctor's office, before you can really think what to do - stop? swerve? - you'll hit and kill a bird that was determined to get at something directly in front of your car. 
You'll want to crawl into a dumpster.

* I wrote this blog along the lines of a (one) day-in-the-life story, and while the events I outline here are all true, they are a composite that is none-the-less representative of any given one of my days.  I just wanted to make it clear that these things did happen over a span of several days, not just one.  I gathered them all up for dramatic effect, as I do.

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