Moments of frustration are frustrating.

Pause, please, to soak in how profound that sentence is… (ha!)

Moving on.

When you look up the side effects of steroid use, the list is long and varied. And also…fuckin’ weird. Some people get this thing called “moon face” after long-term usage, which is basically a swelling and rounding of the face. Most users claim to feel an extreme high, exhilaration, and intense levels of energy. Some get bad acne. Some get jittery. Some also develop symptoms of paranoia, psychosis, anxiety and depression.

Let’s talk about those last few symptoms, shall we? They sound fun.

If I were to try to accurately describe the effects of the Budesonide I’m on (which is a relatively mild steroid. If you can call a steroid “mild”) the closest I could get would be this: I feel stuck in a pseudo-dream state with the a constant energy that resembles the buzzing of bees flowing through my veins and neurons; I’m on an emotional roller coaster that only seems to plummet, and I’m constantly fighting internal “voices” that poke and prod at my impulsivity to scream maniacally and rip apart every pillow I own until the shreds of cotton cover the floors like new snow. And I can’t sleep. And when I do, my dreams are seriously bizarre.

So I find myself in a frustrating moment. Err…many frustrating moments. My logic is constantly trying to calm me down “There there, Gin. You know this isn’t you. You know this is all an effect of the medication”. But that voice is becoming increasingly deadened by the deafening buzz of the bees in my head, the voices of irrational impulsivity egging me on to be stupid, the crippling depression and irrational crying, and a lack of sleep which alone would cause a certain light level of craziness.

Is it worth it? Is it worth it to be experiencing, trying to “live” through all of this crud? My doctors seem to think so. They seem to think that the unknown thing that’s been disintegrating my liver over the past few months is my own immune system. And so steroids it is. I’ve made my peace with that…as best I can.

But why…why on earth would anyone choose to go through even a fraction of the crap I’m going through? Ahem…that question goes out to all of you weight-lifting, muscle-minded, fuck-it-all-I-wanna-be-ripped ‘Roid heads. I realize that my reaction to this medication is fairly uncommon. But mood changes are common. And serious mood changes are extremely common after long-term and high dose usage. It just doesn’t seem worth it at all. I understand, probably better than most, the pressure to want to look your best. But I also understand, probably better than most, that certain sacrifices to get that perfect body are just not worth it. They’re just not.

Of course, that’s easy to say. Far less easy to put into practice. Try getting someone who’s committed to becoming “ideal” to stop doing whatever drastic actions they’re doing, and are usually working, to reach that ideal? Not easy. And very frustrating.

I suppose it’s one of those “first world problems”. Who am I to be complaining about living in a country that has the ability to provide a potential remedy to the problem I’m facing…or even to save my life? How DARE I complain! Yeah, I feel guilty. I do. But I can still bitch and moan about it in a fairly anonymous venue as opposed to going through my house in a crazed state shredding my pillows with a garden till. That’s the beauty of blogging.

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To be happy

I don’t even understand these tears

Questioning them only feeds the neglect.

The leather bag that keeps me together,

it’s crawling now, it all wants out, escape

from the unknown or the underground

or who knows..anymore. Blur.

I’d just give anything to be anywhere else.

I know enough to know that I am not myself.

I would put a sentence together, but sentences need words.

And I have none for this.

And you’re all smiling, you have the sunroof down

and the music playing.

How can this all be so easy for you. How did you get there

what do I have to to…

To get there too.

I could be surrounded on all sides, one of a million trees

or a million stars

And still be miles away, but miles are still not far

enough. To be happy.

To be happy.

If I keep driving, maybe I can get away.

But straight lines become circles eventually, here.

Every breath a burden, for the weight

in my stomach, can barely rise.

To stop breathing would be a reprieve

to stop breathing wouldn’t be enough

to be happy.

To be happy.


Jezebel

Look closely, love.

She’d invited me to dinner. And she was striking. We met on an elevator in the downtown Sanford & Sons, Inc building. The doors opened on the 16th floor and there she stood, looking down and to the right. One brilliant face in a sea of blurred eyes and noses and mouths. They mattered naught. Obviously uncomfortable, she had tear-stains barely noticeable in the corners of her eyes. A beautiful sight. Poor thing. Weak and distressed. Perfect. I chose to occupy a space beside her. How could I not?

“Take this,” I whispered as I pressed a small handkerchief against the outside of her left hand. She pulled away slightly, paused, then turned her palm open to mine, and accepted my small gift. Connection. No one else in the elevator would’ve even noticed her delicate movements. She dabbed the sides of her eyes with swift precision, as though she’d done it before….many times. The memory of those first few moments are as sharp and piercing as, well, the final.

Her skin was like the finest velvet, the passes of blush on her cheeks danced just ever so slightly on her supple skin. Her eyelashes were like tiny palm leaves, but thick, languid…and dark. But her lips, her lips, they were like something carved from marble. Full, curved, red, inviting. And yet…they were attractive in an unusual way as well. Attractive in their…familiarity? We left that elevator, the quickest descent I’d ever experienced, together. And we walked. I stayed by her side and she never flinched. With each step she staightened further, her steps became less inconsistent and she gained confidence. Her shoulders pulled back and her chin raised. She lifted her lashes in my direction.

“Well”, she breathed “I suppose we should at least have a coffee”. I nodded. Coffee. A walk through central park. A movie. Another coffee. Lunch. Dinner. Another dinner. And by this time our third day of acquaintance had arrived I was yearning, dreaming, enveloped in the thought of those beautiful lips. Her warmth and attraction was inexplicable. I wanted her. The decision was made and decisions aren’t made to be retracted. She invited me to her place for dinner.

The table was set beautifully. Champagne awaited us. Her dress, though, my goodness, it was exquisite. White and slender, gently wrapping her curves in a halo that only silk can achieve, she occupied every thought, every moment. I was drunk at the very sight of her, but accepted the champagne with a welcome pause. She asked me to be seated while she prepared final touches. I could think of no better thing than to remove myself from an upright position, I was already afraid of stumbling. This woman, so foreign yet so familiar. The mystery, her beauty, her mystique…I was dumbfounded.

“I made your favorite,” she cooed from the kitchen her back to me. I could only muster a murmur of acknowledgment. I was fixated on her visage. She turned with two plates in her hand and smiled. I almost died. She set her place first, then came sround to serve me. The plate came into view, and so did the harrowing glisten of a medical-grade syringe. But her movements were too swift, and it was too late to question, to jerk away, to do anything…the steel tip had already found a home in my side. I winced…and slumped. She returned to view in front of me. Her chin up, and eyes piercing downward from under those incredible lashes. She pulled her long gloves from her wrists and I saw them. The answer to the questions that’d been swimming in my head for these few days. The reason. The explanation. The tattoos.

This was the Jezebel I had tried so hard to avoid. This was the woman who, deep down, though I avoided the thought for knowing it’s truth, I knew would always be the end of me. This was her sister. This was the woman she said would hunt me down for all of my indiscretions. Here she was. Staring. Her sweet smile turning sinnister. Sickly. She was looking at her one hatred. She pulled a photograph from under the table and opened it before me. I could feel myself fade, whether from shock or the drugs, it didn’t matter. The energy of my life was rushing from my body….each second a decade of life, gone. There she was, the photo, my ex-wife. I had had it taken before I’d done the deed. I wanted something for her family to have, after all. How haunting it was to see her now. How haunting it was to see her lips on the paper as well as before me, pursed and seething. But they were so beautiful… “I want you to see her face as you die,” she growled. “I want her face to be your last and everlasting thought. And consider it a favor, you sick pig. If it had been anyone other than Daisy I would’ve dismembered you section by section and had you watch your own body be fed to dogs”. I looked at her, imploring. No speech. No words. Nothing left. This was my due. This was that moment. Her lips curled upward. Her lashes lowered…and she looked down and to the right.


Valentine’s Day’s 8 Most Annoying Single Women

– said the happily in love person

Valentine’s Day is stressful when you’re with someone and annoying when you’re not. Here are the 8 single women to avoid on V-Day.

1. The Pre-teen:

So awkward. About as awkward as wishing your friend’s mom a Happy Mother’s Day. (Oooh shit, I mean, ah! You’re not my MOM!)

Obviously far too concerned with the IMAGE of being single, rather than singleness itself. Will probably skip half of 5th period to go cry dramatically in the girl’s bathroom and leave mascara stains strategically placed in the corners of her eyes so her friends will fawn over her with attention for the rest of the day. Voted most likely to not actually want a Valentine.

2. The Recently Single-d:

Well…you’re in luck!

Voted most likely to send her ex a drunk text by the end of the night. Then call you to cry about how much she both misses him as well as what a total asshole he was.

3. The Subtle Hater

Got it. No dead, limp things on V-day. Please.

Voted most likely to be the angry drunk at last call in the bar tonight. Also see: May be found man-bashing with an also-single lesbian with ulterior motives.

4. The Sarcastic Commiserator:

Denial. It’s a coping mechanism.

Voted most likely to spend the day texting, talking, emailing and cornering other single people to support their cause. After feeling like they’ve triumphed, they’re most likely to be found crying over Ben and Jerry’s and watching Made for TV romances on Lifetime.

5. The Fisherwoman:

Well if yer screamin’ it at people, yeah, yeh will be…

Casting a net of sympathy responses as wide and as unabashed as Honey Boo Boo’s mom. If you respond, you’re feeding her low self-esteem. If you don’t, you’re feeding her low-self esteem. Good luck. Voted most likely to be single next V-day as well.

6. The Flip and Twist-ers: 

Oh for the love of….

These folks will manipulate a negative situation into a positive one or SO HELP THEM! They are also voted most likely to consciously or unconsciously seek a one night stand. Luckily, the Flip and Twist is also a pretty effective sex position. Git it onnn.

7. The Brazen Vixen

Whoa there, turbo. No really, does it have turbo?

This girl was probably asked out on quite a few Valentine’s Day dates and denied them all because she can. Voted most likely to end up in bed with another woman. Because there’s no time to experiment like the present…

8. The WTF?

I’ll celebrate Hans Solo any ol’ day….

WHY this chick doesn’t have a boyfriend? No one knows. She’s the diamond in the rough. The creme dela creme. The perfect combination of hotness, low-maintenance, sporty, sexy, chill, awesome that haunts every boy’s wet dreams. If you find one of these on V-day, do one of two things: 1) ask her out, or 2) see option one. Voted most likely to have friends who secretly resent her.

For the rest of us “sane” ladies out there, single on this hallowed of days, I wish you all the best!


Leftovers: An ex’s last letter

Whether it be a final text, the last phone conversation, or a well-written tome of an email – the final, parting words to an ex are often a difficult, drawn-out, and emotional experience. It’s not easy choosing those words, especially if the relationship ended poorly (which, come on, even when a relationship ends on the best of terms, it’s still not ideal. The relationship, you know, ended!). 

I’ve been fortunate enough in my love-travels to’ve been the bearer of both the beautiful, heartfelt goodbye as well as the “fuck off you disgusting prick, I don’t ever want to hear from you again” screaming match (…what. He deserved it). I’ve received these letters and phone calls as well; and they’ve been sweet and sorrowful, desperate and upsetting, cruel and vindictive, and short and matter-of-fact.  They’ve all been difficult to deal with (anyone who claims to’ve endured an easy breakup is lying to you and/or themselves. If it doesn’t hurt at all, then you really never fully committed. And if you didn’t really fully commit, you weren’t in a relationship… you were tolerating another human presence in your life). But they’ve all been eye-opening. They’ve forced me to be honest with myself and my decision-making. Which really, when it comes down to choosing a partner, the success of that relationship bears heavily on how much we know about ourselves and our values, which in turn clarifies what we seek out in others, and so on. 

Now, while I did get a degree in counseling, I’m not a counselor; I have no access to studies and data to back this up, but I would venture to guess that there is one universal truth about those “final words” between ex’s. And that is: we always hope that they will reveal some profound understanding or epiphany about the relationship. We hope that the parting words will make the breakup more bearable. And we hope that in that moment, the pain and heartache will be at it’s worst, and that it will dissipate from there.

They never do, it never does, and it never is. 

This can be explained partially by the old cliche “when God (or whomever) closes a door, he (or whomever) opens a window”. The “parting words” are an attempt to close the door, to end the chapter, to bandage the wound and other vapid cliches as well. But in blurting out your heart, your deepest emotions, your truths and your secrets as a last ditch effort to separate yourself from someone, you’ll likely end up opening a window – a window of “why the fuck did I wait until this whole thing was over before I said all that”?

This also explains why our “parting words” rarely ever truly are our parting words. 

Though we wouldn’t like to admit it, most of us (myself very much included) have re-contacted the recipient of our “parting words” for another “parting conversation” or “clarifying conversation” or worse: the “I’ve been thinking a lot about what I/you said and maybe we would work things out if we give it a shot” conversation. And honestly? That’s fine! It’s normal (shit, it’s almost expected)! It’s part of the process of understanding ourselves and our decision-making. Why wouldn’t we seek more information, more clarity, and a better understanding of what happened so that we can learn, grow, and make more informed decisions in the future?

Why wouldn’t we? Why?

Because those realizations can really suck. They hurt. We almost KNOW that they’re going to hurt and yet we still venture out there and ask. We reach back into the pot and scramble around hoping to find anything left of any hope or happiness, so as not to feel like the time spent with this person was a waste. 

And ultimately, THAT is the lesson to be gained from the whole experience. “Parting words” can feel like a funeral dirge. They can feel so wrong, so upsetting, so hopeless; and almost as though they negate any and all of the beautiful aspects of the relationship prior to that. But parting words are just a complicated goodbye. And while you can certainly learn a few things in that final process, MOST of what you will have gained from that relationship happened when you weren’t overthinking it; when you were just experiencing life with that person and exploring the relationship. 

So… I say with reverent irreverence, let’s let leftovers be leftovers. Or at least acknowledge them for what they are: the crust crumbs on a pie pan a week after Thanksgiving; they’re simply not going to satisfy. 

 

 


Love and Hesitation: The kiss

It didn’t matter that the sun had set an hour ago, I was melting. And sitting in the back of the truck, legs dangling, the cool steel soothed the fire in the air. This dress might be too short – I thought. Too late.

“This is some view, huh…”. His voice carried off, almost dreamily, into the warm high desert air. And he wasn’t wrong. The city skyline blazed before us, all lights and energy, set off by the vague outline of the desert mountains behind it. It was a bold frame. His body was close to mine, he had been inching himself nearer for the better part of the last hour. And not unnoticeably. My brain was whirring, like it always does. The romance, the beauty of this moment was undeniable. My own loneliness, also undeniable. His heart and genuine personality, a catch. And yet…my hesitation. It was present, it was palpable, it meant something.

“You’re incredible, you know that. I’ve never met someone so beautiful. And I can’t even find words for how you look tonight…” his voice trailed. I wasn’t used to men like this; men who expressed their emotions so freely. Not that I didn’t like it or want it, I just didn’t know quite how to accept it, or process it. “…you’re just so beautiful.” His eyes went from mine, to my neck, down to my legs and back to my eyes.

He wants to kiss me. 

And so my brain became a snake caught in the claw of a hawk. So squirmed the thoughts of a girl torn between the beauty of a romantic moment, and the realities of her heart. I didn’t want to be with this person. He wasn’t for me. I wasn’t all that physically attracted to him. That was the brutal truth of it. But every other aspect of the moment, down to the spreading blanket of stars above us, his endearing smile and sweet half-sentences, had me caught up and ready to compromise. Was I a terrible person to think this way? Was this misleading? Am I that person right now?

The silence lasted too long. My thoughts had dissociated me from him and he felt it. He jumped down from the truck and stood in front of me. I grew anxious. Yep, this dress is definitely too short.  I put my hands in my lap to cover what else I could. He pulled my legs from my feet…bringing me closer to him. His hands made their way from my ankles to my calves, but his fingertips hesitated just above my knees.

“Your legs are absolutely amazing”. His hands traced them, his face was innocent and focused. And I, well, I just laughed…nervously. Do I want this? Should I rationalize my impulse to say no and chalk it up to just being nervous? Could it be that I’m just being hesitant to get back into the world of dating? His hands began to go further up my thigh, and when they reached the point where my legs met the steel of the truck, they stopped. He pulled his hands down, let them take a place on the truck on either side of me, and leaned forward.

He was no longer tentative. I had really counted on his hesitation matching mine. But it didn’t. He surprised me. Crap.

He pulled my eyes to his and locked them there, softly. With no expression, he let one hand slide behind me and rest on the small of my back. He lightly maneuvered his body so that I opened my legs and with a quick surge of strength he pulled me close to him. Oh, and I melted. I melted and the hesitation evaporated in the heat around us. I hadn’t counted on that. I hadn’t counted on a burst of passion.

His lips brushed against mine. What wisps of second-thoughts I may’ve had…were lost in the swarm of new, more powerful emotions. We kissed.

I let go…

And for that moment I was in heaven. Giving in felt like, undeniably, the right thing to do. Letting his words calm my nerves, letting his touch breathe new life into my skin, it felt so right. And I clung to that moment, that swarm of new emotion for as long as I could. And yet soon the firefly I’d found, so bright and instantaneous, wondrous and beautiful, began to slip away. I could feel doubt creeping back in. And then guilt. Guilt. The true gradient by one can decipher one’s actions. That manipulative little devil had found her way inside and latched onto my conscience.

I am that person right now. I swallowed hard, pushing that bitch, guilt, down into my gut where she belonged. He was ready to continue. His eyes had closed, he was leaning in again. I put a hand on his chest, stopping him. His eyes opened. And I’m sure he saw mine, pained.  He must’ve understood. His body relaxed under my hand and he drew away, but only slightly. He wasn’t giving up entirely.

And I realized…”letting go” had led me to fall down a Wonderland-like hole: confusing and complicated, and my responsibility to fix. Such a brief moment in time, and so important. It was a lesson that stuck in my heart, guilt’s menacing scar, a brand that I’ll always have as a reminder of the importance of even small actions. And that there are no small actions when it comes to love.


Jobs that suck: Barista – and the things the average joe doesn’t know

Like most people, I love coffee. It’s right there next to “clean undies” and “toothbrush” on my Things I’d Want if I Were Stranded on a Desert Island list. But there are certain things you should know about the people who make your coffee and the businesses that employ them. It’s not always the rainbows and sunshine like the Starbucks ads would have you believe. In fact, in my experience, it rarely was. I can’t speak for every barista out there, it’s quite possible that my experience was unique (though, I doubt it).

My very first job was when I was 13. Until that point, my “resume”, if you could even call it that, was a few sentences long and consisted of “volunteer at such-and-such place” and “babysitter for the so-and-so’s”. I had no experience dealing with customers and an absolute loathing of coffee. WHY they put me in charge of the espresso machine? I’ll never know. But they did.

Anyway, I learned fast. (Don’t get me wrong, I fucked up quite a bit too, as was expected, but I learned pretty fast). Luckily, making a specialized coffee drink is essentially like any other standard recipe, really. With one major difference:

1. It needs to be ready….5 minutes ago. 

Baristas KNOW that you’re in a hurry. It’s just assumed that everyone is on a time crunch. We’re all to blame for this. Ever notice how, even when you go to a coffee shop to get coffee and chill you find yourself waiting by the drink counter, impatiently tapping your foot or staring anxiously at the attendant? Yeah.  In any case, baristas work as fast as they can. And unfortunately, the espresso machines they work with are cumbersome and slow. Baristas are severely limited by their equipment. And their work stations are tiny.

You’re lucky if you get two baristas on a busy day working two machines, sharing a milk fridge, pulling, grinding, pressing espresso and making a never-ending list of the ever-simple: cinnamon dulce soy double decaf lattes extra hot with no foam. The point is, please, for the love of god, show some patience. Why? Well, because…

2. These poor people will work at this pace with nary a break for a full 8 hour shift. 

And they’re going to put up with your degree of impatience from EVERY SINGLE CUSTOMER. Is it worth it? Well…

3. You tell me if minimum wage plus an average of a 6% tip split 5 ways for 8 hours of insanity is worth it?

Baristas are expected the be the sunniest of sunny towards the people who are, at that point, the least of the likely to give a flying fuck. They haven’t had their coffee yet, they’re not in the mood to be receptive to a barista’s half-hearted smile. When I was a barista, I found that about 1 in 5 people left a tip, and it was usually either the change remaining from the cost of the coffee up to, at the most, $2. At the end of a shift, the tips were split between all of the employees on for that shift, which, on the best of days, ended up being around $20.

$20 on top of minimum wage for working at break-neck speed for people who stare you down, snap last-minute order changes at you, and will barely tip…if at all? Hmmm. Well, it doesn’t sound so great, so the schedules must be awesome (you say to yourself), or the perks (no pun intended)?!

4. Like many entry-level jobs, Baristas tend to be hired on a part-time or seasonal basis. Meaning schedules are unpredictable at best, and employers don’t have to offer benefits. 

I was a barista for ONE semester when I was in college. And it barely, BARELY paid the bills. As in, on top of 18 credits, a 30hr a week job, and as many babysitting jobs as I could get, I still had ask for money from my parents just to get by. Pretty sad. The “benefit” I was sold on was 1 meal a day and as much coffee as I liked while I was working (if I came in on a day off, I had to pay half price), as well as the promise to be moved up to management if I stuck it out long enough. I stuck it out and was promoted to management level just long enough to realize I was killing myself for nothing. The sacrifice of my college education over getting the weekly schedule right for the College Buzz Cafe was not worth it. So I quit.

All that being said, my time as a barista helped me learn a few valuable lessons.

A) It’s easy to let a dumb job take over your life. The job can feel like it’s not taking up much time when, in fact, it truly is.

B) Never treat the line employees at any establishment like they’re half-wits, in any way, at any time, ever. I served coffee to  some of the most prominent individuals in the city at the time, and many of them were insensitive, egocentric pricks. I will never forget those people. Many of them treated me like I was a pretty face but vapid to the core. It’s the sort of insult that stings at that “disbelief of your ignorant discrimination” place. And it sucks.

C) Take what you can from menial jobs and get the hell out. Staying with an entry-level job for no reason other than to push through (when you know things will never improve and when you HAVE the ability and circumstances to make a change) is asinine.

D) Don’t let yourself be manipulated by bad mid-level managers. Life is too short and it’s not worth it. If you have the ability to bring it to the attention to someone who can make a difference? Do it. Otherwise, duck out peacefully, take the positive reference, and move on.  This can be a hard pill to swallow; it doesn’t follow the inherent rules of fairness that we’d all like to believe exist in the world. But in the end, if you leave on bad terms, you’ll lose the reference. And then the bad manager will have affected your past, present, AND future.

E) Lastly, if you can manage it, try not to order convoluted crazy complicated ridiculous drinks at local Mom and Pop coffee shops. Save that shit for Starbucks. Smaller coffee shops tend to focus on the quality of the coffee bean, not the number of adjectives placed before the name. You’ll want to be able to taste the coffee for a change.

We’ve all had bad jobs. And I understand that my experience is likely better than the experiences of many others. But I love hearing about different people’s experiences within certain special facets of society that I’d otherwise have no window into. So hopefully I’ve shed a little sunshine on the dismal reality of the life of a barista, and hopefully someone can take that knowledge and make a difference. Even if it’s to just be genuine and make a real personal connection with your barista, that small gesture can make their day. Let them know they’re not your coffee bitch. It goes a long way.

Also, while bad, this is certainly not the worst job I’ve ever had. Oh, it gets worse. And the lessons, well, they get better.


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