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Archive for the ‘Mental Health’ Category

“New” Car


I bought this 2012 Dodge Avenger R/T almost a year ago.

The “R/T” part of the car is mostly for John, but I do take advantage of the improved suspension. I’m sure I phrased that all wrong, but what it means is, I really like driving on our curvy roads. And I have no doubt that one day, this car’s nimbleness will get me out of a jam.

When I talk about my car, I call it my shiny new car. When is a new car considered not new any more? When you get the first ding?  After a month? After the second ding? After a significant scratch? After 10K?  After 50K? 100K?

My shiny new car has gone through all of that. But I think I will go on referring to it as my shiny new car for as long as I want. Funny how we Americans like our stuff to be new. Until it’s very old. But if it’s old, it had better be in great condition.

I get a bit mental when I go about detailing my car. That’s why it took me all day to do the job. I felt it was dirty again before I finished cleaning it!

I went about buffing out a couple dings that happened recently. An inconsiderate young mother didn’t bother to shut her car door on a windy day in the parking lot and pow, right into my door. I told her I hoped she hadn’t dinged my car and she said, “It doesn’t look like it. Tra la la.”

Then I picked up a package for John that was heavy and dirty and I conked the rear bumper putting it in the trunk. Turns out, these two imperfections cleaned up very nicely. I was horrified, however at all the other knocks and dings I found as I went over my car with the proverbial fine tooth comb.

I got a sunburn while I waxed my car. I didn’t listen to that voice that told me to go inside and put on sunblock. I thought, I’ll be done soon. Ha.

I put wax all over the car, then set about buffing it off. It may have been easier, had I done it in pieces. I had started out in the shade, but it moved as I painstakingly removed the wax. By the time I got to the end, my car was so hot the wax was melting as I rubbed it off.

I learned this does not make for a good finish.

I had started out the project vacuuming the interior. I found an absolutely fantastic upholstery cleaner:

I’m not sure if it works all that great on upholstery, but it’s fantastic on floor mats. I will never remove them from the car in order to clean them again!

But as I went through Armour All-ing the interior, you know I got towel lint speckling the carpet. The Mother’s Back to Black I used on the black trim between the front and back doors took fingerprints to a whole new level.

I think I finally put on a decent application of Rain-X. We shall see. I kept seeing wax I’d missed. To the end I was buffing here and there. I thought I had been so thorough the first time through. I burnt my arms, gosh darn it!

Every time I went into the house I wanted to stop and buff all the many dirty places I passed. When I go to sleep tonight, I’ll probably be buffing God knows what behind my closed eyes. I kept hearing Brad Delp asking me if I was feeling satisfied. Would I be, after getting so close, trying so hard for perfection, being too anal to accept good enough?

I guess so, because I’m still going to call it my shiny new car. But next year, I think I’ll pay someone else to look so close at it….


The Wee Free Men: Terry Pratchett, Stephen Briggs: 9780060785987: Books.

I only ever listened to this book, so I don’t know if that’s how Sir Pratchett wrote the phrase, but as voiced by Stephen Briggs, it popped into my head today. *

My mood hit a pretty significant low today. When I’m cruising along, all stable and pleasant, too many times have I rolled the dice. As I bought the candy bar, I acknowledged that my mood would suffer, but I blithely ate on.

We have this lottery vending machine at work. Yes, we’ve told the proper authorities, but they have done nothing to prevent said machine from dispensing multiple items for the price of one. **

I try to keep my wallet free of change and small bills, because I have a definite weakness where this blasted vending machine is concerned. I’ve had it dump extra goodies on me more than once, and three times I gave the extra away. This satisfied the ego’s need to feel generous, and did less damage to my mood.***

However earlier this week, I horded my bonuses like Ebeneezer Scrooge.

A short time ago, a cheese factory was built in the town I work in, and my honey asked me to pick up some cheddar. I pin-point this as the beginning of the end.  I sidled right past that ice cream counter and dutifully bought the requested cheese. I was innocently stowing the purchase in my bag using the stairs just beyond the unmanned ice cream counter.

Suddenly there appeared a young girl behind the counter.****  Hmmm, I thought, John may want to know what flavors they have. I should go look. As I was looking, the customers in front of me dithered, and I was asked what I wanted.

It was so easy to answer peanut butter chocolate in a waffle cone, and hey, I got the child size. *****  Oh my God, it was so good! I ate an ice cream cone as I was driving home in my shiny new car. The devil, you say!

Somehow, I wasn’t just driving past that place the next night. With a will, I turned in and marched straight up to the ice cream counter, bypassed the dithering, sample swilling pre-customers who did not have an hour commute ahead of them and authoritatively ordered another  child size peanut butter chocolate in a waffle cone.

This time I dribbled chocolate down my front as I drove my neat, first new ever, car home.

What has this to do with the vending machine at work? I don’t know how I ended up with cash on my person. I used my debit card at the cheese factory. But once I have sugar coursing through my nervous system, signals are sent to my brain. Signals that sound exactly like Stephen Briggs voicing Wentworth, Tiffany Aching’s sticky little brother: IwanIwanIwannaSWEETIE!!

This is where my rational brain should stand up and say, you will be over this urge in a few moments. By tomorrow, you won’t even hear Wentworth in your head. You know how this will tank your mood. It’s been proven over and over.

Well. Wouldn’t it be nice if no one ever did anything that was bad for them. I’m off to make a root beer float.

*Along with many other noisy invaders.

** Sometimes it even gives back all the money you put into it!

***Not to mention my waistline.

**** Man the counter, indeed!

***** Please ignore the fact that a “child’s” serving at the Face Rock Creamery Cheese Factory is probably worth two servings of any kind of ice cream.

How did you like the Pratchett style footnotes?


Do the Hustle!

Sometimes, doing a job can be like doing a dance.

I work in production. What this means to me is the act of making a product, in sequence. People learn different positions in the sequence, and then they do it, over and over and over again. I’m sure there are lots of jobs like this all over the world.

In my case, I can’t talk about what I help make. Anyway, due to cutbacks in the government, our production has slowed considerably. At least half our personnel have been laid off. I myself was put on a three week furlough. When I returned, quota was seriously low.

I am used to lots of activity, continually challenging myself to work faster, more efficiently, more accurately. Now, the pace is much more relaxed, and I find it harder to stay alert and focused during my 10 hour shift.

(This time does not include my 45 minute lunch break, by the way. It amazes me when I encounter people who just take for granted they will get a paid lunch. I guess that says a lot about me, who’s never had a job that pays a person for eating. I don’t know.)

Anyway, often I find my eyes drooping, losing focus. That’s when I’m grateful for a personnel absence, or any extra bit of work. Something that lets me get that groove back. That hustle.

But after many weeks of being rather slothful, I found it hard to find that hustle again. It made me conscious of the process of gearing up and I thought I might blog about it, while I wait for my clothes to dry.

First, I must combat the physical feelings of weariness. This is an issue when you have been working hard all week, or when you are drastically doing less work than previously. I’ve been using a shortened type of affirmation. I just say words that I associate with having hustle. Energy. Focus. Vital. Lively. Alert.

My brain might be very simple, but I urge you to try this. Just say words silently to yourself, words that you associate with the feeling or attitude or aptitude you wish to have.

Then, I channel Sarah. To watch Sarah work is to be amazed. Imagine a sewing machine going at, I don’t know, half speed.  Saying she is like a machine is not quite right.  She is so very smooth and human.When I need to perform, I visualize Sarah’s swift movements and strive to copy them.

I’ve worked next to Sarah a few times in the morning and talked to her about her amazing ability. I don’t know if she does this every morning, or if my compliment made her think about what she does too much, but she became a bit fumble fingered. Not to a detrimental effect, just short of her normal flowing pace.

I’ve experienced this a bit when I begin gearing up. I don’t fumble, I just can’t find my rhythm.  My muscles are tight. I am really trying. I am whipping myself. But true, efficient speed cannot come until it is natural, smooth, unthinking.

That’s a trip, right. A thinking person just turning off and just doing. Sort of like meditation, maybe. My understanding is that you attempt to turn off and just be. (I am most certainly wrong. I tend to paraphrase things in my mind and often go right off the track.)

I’m going to bet a lot of people reading this are thinking, I could never do a job like that! Doing the same thing over and over would bore me to death. I couldn’t stand it! I want to be an internet entrepreneur. I want to find my bliss and make money doing what I love.

More power to you, I say. I myself started this blog hoping to generate interest in a novel I have yet to complete. I have very detailed ideas about being my own boss.

But consider that shirt you are wearing, those pants. Consider that burger you bought for lunch. Consider the container you pour your shampoo from. This stuff was made for you by people. Hopefully by people getting paid a decent wage with medical benefits, but when you buy your stuff from China, well…

I’m sure a lot of people making these things for you are bored by their job, but they have to pay the bills. Maybe they feel stuck and only live for the weekends. Only dream of escape.

I’ve been there. Heck, I didn’t even have Saturdays and Sundays off for many years. I was doing good when I could swing two days in a row off. I was the person in the chain hair salon styling your hair for peanuts, hoping for a good tip.

I thought I was miserable, but as I look back on it, styling hair was fun. It was cool, all the different people I met and worked with. I got to be creative. I got to get out of my own head.

And I like doing production. I like doing my part to make a thing of worth. I like being able to listen to an audio book or music while I work, being able to day dream all day. I like the people I work for.  I like the people I work with. And, I like to hustle!

I recently tuned into some Fleet Foxes lyrics, “And now after some thinking, I’d say I’d rather be/A functioning cog in some great machinery/serving something beyond me.”

That started me thinking. Of course this contrasts with Bog Seger who feels like a number. Or Huey Lewis working for a living. But I can get into that lyric. I can get into my life.

“Lost” Keys

Another vote for deleting the “Not” in my Blog title….

Last night I was rather busy, coming home. I put down my laptop case, unstrapped my backpack, and then headed outside to hunt slugs. (I’m all for the minimal suffering, so I hunt them and stab them with a steak knife. No, I am not next in line to be a serial killer, I just think it’s the humane thing to do!)

Then I called my highschool best friend I’ve recently reconnected with. During our chat, I wondered about my keys. I can’t remember why, but I looked in the little bowl by the door and only saw the spare car key in there.

I began to shuffle through the things on my desk top and table, mentioning to Jennifer that I couldn’t find my keys. That led to a discussion on Alzheimers, and then on to more fun filled topics.

I have to get to bed very early as I need to rise at 4:00 every work day morning, so at 7:45, I sorrowfully said I had to go. I finished up my blog post, then cast about for my keys again.

I looked over the desk and table again. I searched my backpack. I upended my backpack. I searched the bare kitchen counters. I looked in my coat pockets four different times. I looked in the bathroom. I went back outside, covering my hunting path (found another slug to kill).

I was sure I would find it outside, because my car key is one of them fancy dancy electronic remote start keys that cost $$$ to replace, but no, I did not find them out there. I went back in the house, through the whole routine again. I pleaded to the universe for mercy. I was going to go crazy in the near future.

I checked the top of the dryer, and I found the spare car key.

Wait a second. Wasn’t the spare in the little key bowl? I look again. After spending a half hour frantically looking everywhere, I find that I mistook my bunch of keys for the spare key. I had put them where they are supposed to go, after all.


But I assure you, I am not a complete idiot.

We’re the best that we can be!

It’s been 30 years since I graduated high school, so you can guess what’s come up.

I’m not sure I’ll go to the reunion. It involves a total of ten hours travel time, and I’m not sure the math adds up. At first, I gave absolutely no thought to going. What did any of that have to do with my life right now?

But, a couple of nights ago, for some random reason, I decided to accept the friend request from the facebook page for Centennial’s high school reunion. I found myself fascinated, spending a significant amount of my severely limited free time to cruise the profiles of everyone associated with the page.

Many people look back on that time with fond memories. Me, not so much. I cringed a little when someone gushingly posted our old class motto, “We’re the best that we can be cuz we’re the class of 83!” I hated that motto the entire four years of my education there.

Isn’t there always room for improvement? Was my miserable teenage self really the best that she could be?? Were any of those cretins I went to school with the best that they could be?

I started to think about our mascot, Elmer the Eagle. Of all the images to remember him by, one overshadowed all the others. Image

I thought viciously, “This eagle surely isn’t being the best he can be. If he were, he would rip his animator to shreds! Making him parade about in a one strapped overall like some redneck Lil’ Abner. Ye Gods!”

But I had to spend quite an inordinate amount of time scouring yearbooks to come up with the picture above. I thought it would be plastered all over the year book, it was so prevalent in my mind. Instead, I had to come to grips with the truth that I had only glimpsed a student made poster from a homecoming float my freshman year.

Wow. Just wow. This random image seems to be the emblem of my emotions of my entire high school experience. Since I had to look at it closely in order to make sure you would see the details of the image, I found it to be rather quaint. Look, they were very careful to use red and blue, our school colors.

I feel very apologetic to the innocent student earnestly composing this poster. “Happy Birthday Elmer” How sweet. Of course, looking at the pictures of us young students, I found each and every one of them, even the nerds, to be luminously beautiful.

Yes, some students I still identified as nerds, but please remember, I thought of myself as a nerd, too. And my older self realizes we weren’t nerds, we just didn’t have the social capacity for rising above the low opinions we and others had about us.

For myself, I was never the most well adjusted teenager. I was struggling with an emerging mood disorder and tragically low self esteem.

I had been bullied my first years of moving to Oregon. Not a patch to what today’s kids endure, but it traumatized my sensitive ego. And by the time I got to high school, I was thinking about suicide.

No one knows, but I made one very pathetic and ineffectual attempt. Honestly, I think I was entranced by the romance of mental illness. What a thing to idolize. Other kids were busy making friends, and homecoming floats. They were playing on sports teams, or attending them. They were pursuing their wholesome interests, one way or another.

I  guess I was pursuing my interests  too, the melancholy girl interested in mental health. It should come as no surprise that I’ve battled a mood disorder my whole life, then. One of the tools to combat depression is affirmations.

Affirmations have worked literal wonders with me. But I had to get over a large hurdle first. I had to realize that what you tell yourself doesn’t need to be true, it just needs to be what you want to be true. Like telling yourself that you are the best that you can be!

Affirmations should always be framed in the present and positively, just like the name of my blog isn’t. I’ve heard it put forth that the brain does not register not, so when I say I’m not a complete idiot, what I’m really hearing would be…….Can’t be more diametrically opposed to positivity than that.

(But I won’t change the name of my blog. I still think it’s funny. Hopefully you do too.)

I’ve had to come to grips today with the fact that I have looked at my education with a highly distorting, negative filter. Some random, ingenuous image on a homecoming float symbolizing all that was wrong with high school?

Looking at kids with the same impressions I had back then, I wonder what my experience could have been like if I had been open, warm hearted, and just cheerful.

I decided I was ugly and unlikable because of some hurtful things that happened to me in the fourth, fifth and sixth grade and I let it color my entire life until recently. That says kids shouldn’t bully one another, but it also says that I wasn’t given the tools to get over that.

I’m not a parent. If I was, maybe I wouldn’t say that we shouldn’t try to insulate kids from unpleasant situations. Not only is it impossible, it teaches you and molds you into the person you will become.

Hopefully kids today just learn how to let those unkind words and actions roll off them. It should teach them how to stand up for themselves, to exact fairness from others. And it should teach them how they should not act to others.

I smugly thought I was immune to such behaviors, but I can recall being a jerk a few times. At the very least, I was very judgmental to a lot of people, thinking they really didn’t like me and were out to get me.

No one is immune to being a jerk, I guess, but it helps to learn how to be self aware, so you can try to be the best that you can be!

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