Mental Health

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It’s difficult to tell in this snap, but it’s really quite nice out for March in Massachusetts.  Not exceptionally nice like it was on Wednesday, but nice enough.  A bit of a cool breeze, temperatures in the high fifties at 9:30 in the morning, clouds, and a bit of sun.  It’s the sort of weather that makes me feel like all hope is not lost.  Winter will end, the Earth is not dead, and I don’t have to be a crazy shut-in who only talks to her cats.  A change is blowing in with the wind and I feel good.

But, for as good as I feel when Spring is knocking on the door, there are still things that bother me: Americans, for example, work too much.  I think we’re pretty much insane for working such long hours.  I say this despite being a bit of a workaholic: I’ve been known to only take breaks during the work day because someone placed a sandwich in front of me and said ‘Bex, you need to eat something.’ (Not too often, but it’s happened more than once.)  Regardless, people work too much.

A few years ago I had a temp job that got me up before the sun, and didn’t let me out until after it had set.  It was winter, so this wasn’t all that difficult, but, still, it was the most depressing thing I’ve ever experienced.  Except when I looked around the office at the people who actually worked there: there were employees who where already in the office when I arrived.  As the sun was rising over the Atlantic, they were already on calls with clients and customers.  These same people were still on calls when I left an hour after the sun had set way beyond the Berkshires.  Another temp and I rode the elevator together at the end of one day and we asked each other “How the fuck do they do this?”  This life was for neither she nor I.

Now, I’m not trying to be insulting or make anyone feel badly about their job.  If I have, I apologize.  A person is allowed to love their job, or choose to be at work before the sun’s up and stay until after it’s down. This is not a criticism of individuals, but of the system.  America seems to value working long hours and not taking breaks; and we are conditioned to expect to be punished for taking breaks while trapped indoors during prime tanning hours.  It starts in school when we can see the beautiful weather but are forced to stay inside.  Therefore, as adults we accept being trapped in cubicles, chained to desks, stuck in windowless rooms with bad lighting and poorly regulated air conditioning.  That’s why I was pleasantly surprised yesterday.

I’ve picked up some hours tagging and folding shirts in a warehouse.  It’s a pain, literally, to stand at a table and fold tee shirts all day, but it’s not the least exciting work I’ve ever done (that would be that temp job in the sales office).  Nor is it the most difficult.  It is physically taxing, but so was environmental ed. and summer camp.  It might be a bit more physically taxing because I’m older now and I’ve already put my body through years of environmental ed. and summer camp, but it’s nothing I’m not familiar with.  The other people who work there are pleasant, and there’s a window so we can see if it’s sunny or rainy.  In the afternoons, the older ladies who work there are replaced by a group of teenagers coming off their school day.

Yesterday, two of the boys were talking at the table behind me.  One asked the other why he wasn’t in school or at work the day before, the extremely nice day for March in Massachusetts.  The boy said simply that he had stayed home.  He told school he was “sick”, but in reality it was just that it was nice out and he spent his day outdoors.  The other teens were amazed and surprised.  One girl couldn’t believe his audacity.  I, however, couldn’t help being extremely proud.  This kid, all of sixteen or seventeen, understood that Wednesday was a Beautiful Day, and that Beautiful Days are meant to be enjoyed.  He’d even decided that this Beautiful Day was meant to be enjoyed out of doors.  The other teens went on and on about how crazy he was, but I couldn’t help but be impressed this kid chose his mental health over his attendance record, his grades, and a paycheck.  This kid has his priorities in order.

Take care of your mental health people, it’s more important than we Americans realize.

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I NEVER go out.

But yesterday I actually had plans to go up to my oldest friend’s place and watch James Bond movies and drink martinis.  Then, my very pregnant sister decided she was having Real Contractions.  I’m living with them at the moment and am “on call” to do stuff for her and watch their kid while they focus on birthing the new one.  I cancelled my plans and stuck around their place and made soup for dinner (I am not a soup person unless it’s chowder or chicken noodle or pureed — ok, maybe I do like soup, just not tomato-based soups).  And our older sister came over, ready to take care of the nephew with me and have a slumber party, but then it became very obvious that she wasn’t going to be birthing the baby that night.

She still hasn’t.  And I can’t help but be amused that I could have gotten sloppy drunk on martinis last night while viewing a Bond Marathon, but instead I made minestrone and danced around in my sister’s kitchen.

Haven’t gotten any writing done either, but that’s slightly neither here nor there.  What is prevalent is that it’s fucking cold in Boston at the moment and I actually sort of miss Tucson (no one should miss Tucson… unless, like me, there’s someone there worth missing or if you, also like me, prefer hot sun to clouds and freezing rain).

24 Hours

I have been in my home town for less than twenty four hours.  In that time I have slept, slept, slept, felt like napping, slept, went to the grocery store because people are freaking out about the impending hurricane, slept, showered, applied to be a substitute teacher at my old middle and high schools, slept, trolled job postings and apartments, slept, and been reminded why the last time I technically lived “at home” was for a month and a half a year ago.

I’m ok with whatever job I get this winter.  I would like it to be enough to cover my bills, but not so much time that I don’t have any to do other things I enjoy doing.  I want a job that will allow me enough time to write and give me time to be a regular person.  My main job, a.k.a. about four-six months of the year, is a fourteen hour workday at the site where you live.  It’s intense.  You form bonds and friendships with people really fast.  You’ve known your best friends at these jobs for a grand total of six weeks some times.  It’s crazy, but you get to live in really beautiful places where people pay small fortunes to live, for free.  Fuck, you’re being paid to live there.  And as much as I love it (minus moving every two to four months), it doesn’t give me enough time to write or read or explore other interests.  That part is lame.  This winter I’d like to have a job, but I would also like to do things like see plays and go to the Aquarium and travel a little bit.  I’d like to live like other twenty seven year olds, give it the ol’ college try, or whatever it’s called.

Damn, I have no idea how to be a grown-up.

Link

Confession: I am obsessed with Book Riot

The website Book Riot has been my rock this winter.  Its been keeping me sane and keeping me from watching full series of Veronica Mars and/or Gilmore Girls to keep my mind off the fact that its winter (the Fella and the mild weather have been a great help too, but mostly Book Riot).  Reading the articles from the contributors has been pretty awesome and has sparked many a thoughtful essay in my own Opinionated, Literary Brain.

Most recently: “How I Learned to Stop Hoarding & Give Books Away”

This is, admittedly, a lesson I could learn.  I just got years worth of piles of books up off the floor in my bedroom this past fall by putting together a makeshift bookshelf out of boards and milk crates (I’m such a 90s college student!) and while so many of them are books I love, so many of them are books I will never love.  I mean, does anyone really need the entire Twilight Saga or The Grapes of Wrath or Eat, Pray, Love?

Honestly, yes, someone might; that person just might not be me.

So here I am with all these books I’ve read and didn’t enjoy, or read and am never going to read again, or started to read, got bored and gave up and they’re taking up space on my already overcrowded shelves.  (I also like to think, in the back of my mind somewhere, that these books will be the first ones on my shelves when I open my used bookstore, therefore I shouldn’t get rid of them…)  I can’t honestly say I’m ever going to be able to truly get rid of them.  I’m certain to lend them out to people and not necessarily care if I ever get some of these back, but I really do have trouble actually giving up my books.

It’s a little like the idea of giving up a person.  There are entire worlds within those pages that I would just be discarding and that’s a tough thing to wrap my mind around.  I know I’d be giving them to the library or the local Annie’s or Goodwill or some other charitable place that is sure to find them a good home, but you can’t always be sure; you can’t always know that someone is going to buy them who is going to love them (even though you didn’t).

Sometimes its as if the actual physical book has feelings.  The Material’s used to make a book, however shitty the story, have value.  It’s not the paper and ink’s fault that what they were used for was crappy or a waste of resources.  We can’t blame the materials for being used by a shitty creator.  They don’t deserve rejection just because of what they were used for.  They deserve a home just as much as any other collection of paper, ink, and glue.

It is sentimental and stupid, yes, I know (believe me, my absurdities are not lost on me) but sometimes this is how I think and why I have trouble getting rid of books… or trying to turn them into art.  This is part of the reason I hoard books.

Well, that, and I’m lazy.

Goals, I’ve totally got some…

I’ve actually got a few projects in the works at the moment.  There is the romance novel based on the Tall Mustachioed Man’s silly song; there is a collection of stories I’m working on: Stories About Women, working title; there is The Education of Tess a story about a young woman who learns that she still has some growing up to do after college; then there’s the Christmas story rewrite I want to do for my Babcha.  I think Ba will like Stories About Women to a degree, but the Christmas story really is for her.  Hopefully I can get it finished before next Christmas and get it to her.

My issues now are all about time.  It’s winter (I hate winter) I get lazy in the winter.  I just want to curl up in my bed with my computer and watch episodes of 2 Broke Girls (because I love Kat Dennings not because it’s a quality program) but then it just reminds me of my own financial situation and I get depressed.  What I’ve got to do is remind myself, daily,  to get out of my head (and out of the house) and write.  Come home, type it all up, and figure out what to do with it next.