Thursday, November 11, 2010

“I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow.”

At 6:20 in the morning I go out and start my car. I crank up the heat, push the defrost and the seat warmer buttons, and leave it running in the drive.

It sits there, emitting plumes of whispy grey exhaust while the windshield slowly starts to unfog, while one tiny patch at the base spreads out, allowing me to see inside little by little. I watch it from the dining room window and raise one corner of my mouth in wry acknowledgement of the metaphor that flashes through my head. I’ve just likened myself to an idling car – its insides becoming more apparent as heat softens the thick, cold misted glass. And it's insides are a mess.

I have an hour commute and most days I spend it listening to my favorite radio show, on autopilot as I turn the wheel, press the gas, and chuckle at their jokes. Today my brain is in overdrive and the only sound is the whoosh of tires. My thoughts are like a bag of unlabeled jelly beans in the hands of a compulsive eater – I pop one in and chew it for a minute, swallow, pop in another, grimace and spit it out, try another and another.


I think about how I’m changing. I’m starting to want things that I never did before and it makes me feel... ashamed. Like a fraud. Because though I’m starting to feel differently on the inside, I’m still clinging to my old habits, scared to death that new ones will only bring disappointment. One of my biggest fears, however silly it may seem, is becoming one of those women. You know...desperate.

I think about the fact that I haven’t heard from Sam at all since last Wednesday, and it was only a distracted text. I acknowledge the fact that I like the idea of him – the successful, intelligent, piano player who is good in bed. In reality he talks too much about himself and now only seems interested in what I have to say when it’s directly related to sex, which is partially my fault. I’ve been fooling myself into believing it might turn out to be more than a fun fling with an aging playboy. I don’t really want more from him, but I’m still offended that he doesn’t want more from me.

I think about my sister. She exasperates me, makes me feel much older than I am. Too often lately Mom and I sit on the couch discussing what should be done about her. She asks me for answers, asks me to make decisions that aren’t mine to make. I do it because I’m afraid of what will happen if I don’t. I’m walking in her shoes and they’re entirely too tight.

I think about the things I need to get done. Paperwork that needs to be filled out and turned in for health insurance, bills that need paying, a coat that needs dry cleaning. I flip through the mental to do list quickly then move on, before I become too overwhelmed.

I think about the book nestled in the handbag on my passenger seat. I wish I could bury my face in it and stop thinking. Right this instant.

I think about my plans for the weekend. How excited I’ve been to have real alone time and an opportunity to invite my friends over. Now I can’t decide which is worse – I don’t want to be alone, nor do I want to be with people.

I think about making an appointment with my doctor – getting more pills. But of course I won’t. That requires too much effort. I’d rather write a melancholic blog post instead. Besides, my mood will be up by tomorrow again anyway.


I arrive at work and wind my way up six flights of parking deck, taking each turn faster than I should. I always do. I walk across the rooftop and through the double glass doors. An elevator is going down, but the doors are closing. They take forever in the mornings and I know if I don’t catch it, I could be waiting another five minutes for it to come back, or forced to take the stairs. I hate the stairs.

I rush forward and throw my arm between the doors. But instead of springing apart like they’ve always done before, they slam into either side my arm. There’s a woman inside dressed in a black business suit. According to the badge around her neck she works here, but I’ve never seen her before. She screams, “Oh my god”, and backs away with her hands on her face. The doors don’t want to open and resist my attempts to push them back. It hurts, but not badly.

I finally manage to push them open and dive inside; the woman continues screaming while I examine my arm. Just a few red marks, nothing more. “Are you alright”, she asks loudly.

“Yes”, I say, not looking at her.

She lets out a nervous laugh. “I’m so glad you didn’t lose your arm!”

I raise my head and look at her, not in the least angry that she didn’t attempt to help me, just curious. “Are you really?”

“Yes! Thank goodness you can go on to work with it intact”, she says still laughing nervously, trying to keep the joke alive.

The doors open on my floor and I get out without another word. Any other day I would have been angry; I would have said something scathing and shown her how well my middle finger still worked. Today I can’t make myself care.

I put my things in my office, fix a cup of coffee and amble over to lean on my boss’s door frame – a routine I’d love to abandon, as I’m not a morning person anyway, but if I didn’t show up she’d just come to me. We say hello and she goes on about a few things, then looking at me more closely asks, “Are you alright?”

“Yes”, I lie. I reinforce it with, “The elevator closed on my arm.”

She bursts out laughing and I tell her the story.

“It was your right arm?”


“Ah well”, she says, “you’re left handed. You don’t need the other one anyway.”

“I do. I masturbate with that hand”, I reply flatly. I use the obnoxious laughter, when her head is thrown back, to make my escape.

I spend the rest of the day ensconced in my office, trying everything I can to avoid thinking without actually having to do any work or socializing. I butcher a humorous post I’ve been working on and I doubt I’ll ever be able to fix it, which sinks me further into my funk.

At 4:45, when I climb in my car, I’m exhausted. I feel like I’ve been running around in circles – and in a way I have. I merge onto the interstate and start the hour commute home, this time flicking on the radio. It doesn’t do any good. The same thoughts that have been plaguing me all day go marching back through my brain in quick succession. I grind my teeth and do my best to suck it up, stopping to collect the kid from daycare. I ask her about her day and put on my parent voice when she whines about having a sucker before dinner.

When I arrive home I take care of business – bath, dinner, homework, bedtime story, and tuck her away for the night. Then I grab my book, wrap myself in a robe, and nestle into a chair on the porch – it’s the first time I’ve felt good all day. I’m going to escape at last.

And I do. I read and read, losing myself in the pages. I’m relaxed and content. Safe from hurt and confusion, blame or acceptance. For a few precious hours, I’m in someone else’s world.

So what if it is a hooker’s?


Anonymous said...

I really liked the post, the way you orchestrated it. I'm right there with you, feeling overwhelmed at life, you're not alone!

Mr London Street said...

I loved this one. You are a much better writer melancholic than you think you are.

The Vegetable Assassin said...

This all rings true for me too. I'm familiar with those feelings, of having too much to do, too much anxiety, too many "adult" responsibilities that I just want to disappear into something fantastical, not enough hours/money/experience to do what needs to be done yet you have to plow through anyway. That longing for a moment of sanity where you can vanish off into a fantasy world and just BE for a little while.

I've never caught my arm in an elevator door but I did get mine caught in the subway doors one time when I lived in NYC and was running hideously late for work. That was a moment of terror when I thought the door wasn't going to open and it would drag me off into a tunnel never to be seen again...

Penny Dreadful said...

It's just all too much sometimes isn't it. It makes me angry that no matter where I am or what I'm doing, there I am - I can't take a holiday from myself.

Just wanted to say, although I know it was only one of your many thoughts - being aware of what you want in a relationship and not wanting to settle for less is part of getting older and more confident, and knowing your own mind and respecting your own opinion is never desperate. 'Desperate women' is a male construction, a particularly hideous remnant from the days when women truly did need to marry someone if they weren't to end up poverty stricken. Rant over.

You're Lucky I Don't Have a Gun... said...

the bathrobe, book, and porch made everything else worth it. next time, throw pie in the mix too.

you can thank me later for that one.

Rachel. said...

I really loved this post. It's a very well written piece with good pace.

I particularly like the mix of jolting humour; the masturbation comment; the last line; and the elevator scene with the overall melancholic tone.

And on a more personal note: reading is such a good way to relax and take away from the world isn't it? I can completely relate to the feeling here. I find myself needing that break into someone else's world in order to be recharged when I have to be active in my own.

alexis rose said...

wow. this is quite the deviation from your normal posting; it resonated so much with my own life. thanks for being vulnerable. and you'll get through it -- at least you understand why you're feeling this way and don't stand ignorantly blaming everyone and everything else as most people do.

Baglady said...

I have written four different comments about feeling blue and wanting more and they all come out sounding patronising (maybe it's just me not being able to write right now).

You write especially beautifully when it's as poignant as this. I love the imagery of your car warming up and they way the forced comedy has become how things are seen from the outside. Lovely.

mylittlebecky said...

loved this! captured that feeling we all have sometimes. too many circling thoughts, swirling and swirling and never stopping. <3

Sara said...

Nothing takes my mind off stress quite like reading does. If I'm watching TV, the stress is still there in the back of my mind. But when I'm reading a really great book, I forget about everything. All the bills and the schoolwork and the family fights.... gone.

This post was amazing.

Just Plain Tired said...

Life is overwhelming at times. Those are the times I recommend a bowl of ice cream, maybe two bowls if necessary.

Didactic Pirate said...

I'm with Mr. London Street. I dig your humor, of course, but it's your posts like this one that tend to stick with me after I shut my computer down, start my own car, and head into my own day.

MichelleLCSW said...

Embrace your ability to FEEL your emotions - they really come out in your writing - and that is what makes your posts so riveting. (Not that you need to feel shitty to entertain your readers! But your ability to relate your feelings through your words is truly a gift)

Bridget Callahan said...

I know exactly what you mean about desires changing and feeling like a fraud. Totally.

Kal said...

That was a terrific read. It's like I was there with you, just as pissed off as you were, but I didn't have to even put on pants. I should just save that for those days when I want to stop being a hermit, tinkering away at this stupid time machine and adding captions to cat pictures because I think it makes me seem hip. I forget sometimes that the outside world has people in it. And they are annoying.

Anastasia said...

The fear of sounding like a "desperate" woman. Yup. Not wanting to be alone but not wanting other people around. So often. Escaping into a book while cozied into your chair on the porch. Yes, please. This was simply a beautifully written post with a great deal of resonance for many of us. Thank you.

JUST ME said...

I've been thinking wwwaayyy too much lately too. It's exhausting.

I'm with you, mama.

JJadziaDax said...

hey are you on bloggers choice awards I didn't see a link on your site so I nominated you. It seems lame but it is how I have found new blogs to read in the past and it could help you find a wider audience.. your writing is worth it chica. excellent post today btw. :)

Jenny DB said...

Love this. If we didn't have these days we'd all just be pretending...

Shruthi said...

@ the Sam type – I don’t like them. They’re full of shit. They think they’re really important and relevant to the every day scheme of things in your life. They think they can text you when they feel like and you’ll just drop everything and go. What they don’t realise is that they’re little shits that just need to get out of your life, head, bed and walk into the sunset just so you can keep the peace! Somehow, I do think women will be better off without the Sam type… yech!

@ the lady in the elevator – you should have shown her how well your middle finger worked. She sounds like a dumbass!

I really enjoyed reading this.

rubbish said...

Great post - do you write all your blog posts in work?

Eric said...

I'm not sure I can identify with or follow most of this, but what motivates Sam besides, heh you know. I mean what are his other interests, and you guys are connecting on those levels?

Whenever I'm down, it's sad to think about the plight of retarded people that don't ever feel sad, then I get angry because they don't. Then sometimes I laugh at them.

Ed said...

We have so much in common.

I too use my right hand for that.

Adventure Spot said...

I love reading, its one of the best escapes besides writing, well at least for me. I totally get where you are coming from though. Being at a crossroads with your life, not knowing which path will lead you to happiness or which path will lead you to hurt. I assure you, you will find your way eventually, until then do things for you. Do things that make you happy. Sit down and think what truly makes you happy and not something you've done just to not feel.

Anyways hope things get better and you shake this funk soon :)

Lusty Reader said...

wow, seriously beautiful writing. you need to trademark/copyright that jeallybeans analogy - genius.

and GWtW quotes are so awesome, i personally use "im very drunk and i intend on getting still drunker before this evenings over." but no one beats a good scarlett quote.

didn't you used to tell us on the sidebar what book you're reading? maybe im just missing it, and i dont click out of my google reader very often. do share!

BugginWord said...

My turn to be the big spoon. But would you mind holding the book so I can read over your shoulder?

Jane said...

Wonderful post!
I really enjoy reading your writing and this was one of the best.
With you on the robe and book too.

Judearoo said...

Just beautiful, Ally.

I've a feeling there are many shades to you but not many people have seen them. Perhaps this lack of connection with S is to do with the fact that really hasn't seen many of them - probably just the funny sexy bits. Might be time to show a few other sides of Alyson, eh?

Mladen said...

I think you've caught tiny bits of each of us here...