All I Want Is A Normal Life

Musings from a girl named Normal.

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Fucking Insomnia

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I woke up this morning an hour before my alarm was going to go off, and, for some reason, I woke up completely furious. The Santa Anas are blowing like crazy, a neighborhood dog is barking like it’s being attacked by coyotes (fucking neighbors that leave their dogs out at night… burns me up), my bank account had been overdrawn by some “accidental” transactions from a business that I will not name because they were so good about reversing the charges immediately (in fact, a lot of weird charges are coming up on my card recently), work is just overwhelming — there’s just not enough time –, the board is pissed off because their favorite show isn’t on the air all the time (and honestly, it’s my favorite show on the station, but still… that’s the way things have to be sometimes), and my grandma is dying, then not dying, dying, then not dying. My mom called yesterday and said that G’ma has snapped out of whatever near-coma she was in and now is sitting up and bright-eyed, which I’m of course happy about, but my heart is on some sort of crazy roller coaster all the time.

And my birthday is in two days. I’ll be 34, and it doesn’t really bother me that I’m getting older. I’m not one of those people who lies about her age and stuff. But still, it’s always a huge big deal and I don’t know about if I’m really up for a huge big deal.

Actually, I think I’m depressed, but I’m staying functional because I’m on the medication. Which is great, but I can’t make any life changes to make myself happier if I can’t identify the specific points that I’m dealing with that make me unhappy. And there’s no fucking way that I’m going off any medications anytime around my grandma being so sick. I have to keep my job, since it’s one of the bright points in my life.

I think I’m lonely. Maybe that will change as I engage in the Wilderness Travel Course in a couple weeks.

I got a huge new fantastic project at work, too, which is fan-freakin’-tastic for my career and stuff, but I need to learn to manage stress better if I’m going to move along in my career. If I continue on this course, I’m definitely going to be overwhelmed. My work offers seminars on these sort of things… I guess I’ll look into if they have any seminars on organization, delegation, and stress management. I thought exercise was supposed to help with the stress, but it seems like even a lot of exercise doesn’t ultimately equal the amount of stress I’m coping with.

Anyways, off to yoga, then to run with Diva. I have an appointment with my old therapist tonight.

Written by normalslife

January 13, 2009 at 2:46 pm

Posted in friends, health, home, work

I can see De Styx from Denial

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God, denial is a funny thing. Ok, not funny ha-ha, but funny fucked-up. Over the past week, I’ve decided that I should go to visit my Grandma again. My mom said she thinks that G’ma is well enough to recognize me, but I was trying to explain to my mom that MY G’ma went away three years ago, and the person there is just kind of G’ma-ish, but not really G’ma to me.

My mom and G’ma had a really strained relationship at times when I was growing up. My mom went and told them (both grandma and grandpa) that they had a “dysfunctional” family, since that was what her therapist told her and, in many ways, I guess her family wasn’t all open with their emotions and stuff when they were growing up… but that’s a lot of family stuff that a lot of families have to deal with. I mean, my family life wasn’t all that good until much later. I think the only reason we have such a good relationship now is because we’ve all been able to put a lot of that crap behind us and move on as friends. All families are fucked up in many ways. I don’t know a single one that isn’t. So there’s really no judgment there.

But Mom and Grandma didn’t really have that great of a relationship always, so now that mom is getting to know grandma’s kinder side — the side I loved her for — she’s getting to really appreciate the best thing about grandma: her heart. And that’s about all there is of Grandma anymore. So all that stuff that was some parent-child dynamic isn’t there and both of them just get to appreciate each other: my mom gets to appreciate grandma without all the weird mis-communications, and my grandma gets to appreciate how amazing, strong, and caring that my mom is. About all this, my mom feels like I’m judging her or like I’m saying she only loves grandma when she’s frail or something. But it’s not like that. It just that I feel like she’s finally getting to know the person I knew.

And even as I type this, I feel myself distancing from the situation, making it a story, not a thing I’m actually going through. I’m going to try to bring it back.

My grandma is not dead. But I’m acting like she is. I’m acting like the shell of the person isn’t important… like a husk or something. But she’s still in there. She’s still her. And even if all that’s left is her heart, that’s the best part about her. I miss her brain, her understanding, her caring, all these things are gone. But the best part is still there, at least according to my mom. And I’m avoiding — yes, I said it: avoiding — going up there, not because it’s not important to me, but because I’m in denial of my feelings about her. My feelings of love, my feelings of loss. I’ve done everything in my power not to think about it. I’ve even taken anti-anxiety medicine that my friends have very kindly given to me. All these things make me question what I should do. They make me calm, but I am not calm. Truly. Really. In my heart.

And I can never understand if I’ve done the “right” thing until it’s too late to do the “right” thing anymore. So I have to take a chance and face the panic of losing the person who has been, for most of my life, my favorite family member.

Since I decided to go up there, I’ve been all moody and needy to David, which has made him kind of pull away, which is really hard. Really fucking hard. Because I need a close friend now, but Teresa, my best friend from years ago who knows me pretty well, but who is just awful at getting back to me. And David is not really helping. He just doesn’t understand why I’m so insecure and constantly needing reassurance that he loves me. And I am not one to get hurt, so I, of course, have to pull away from him. I have to protect myself. I just really want Teresa, since she and I understand each other around stuff like this. But she’s also got her own problems and really needs a friend herself these days.

My mom says G’ma might not last three weeks. I am going to try to go up there on the 23rd.

Side note: Nick, this is why I haven’t written back about this and probably will never be able to pull myself to write back about this. I’m really weird about my emotions around this. This is my journal.

Written by normalslife

January 12, 2009 at 5:12 am

You say you want a resolution?

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(sorry, I couldn’t resist the gratuitous Beatles reference)

So, here’s how this generally works: I write out some really general 5-year plans, then I struggle through some really far away 3-year plans based on the achievement of the far away 5-year plans, then I write some 1-year plans (again, based on the 5 and 3 year), and then I write some 6-month plans, and finally some 3-month plans, and then I review it all and go, “ok, what did I forget in my Memento-style approach to goal setting?” Usually, it’s quite a lot. In 5 years (2014, to those who want to be surprised by a year that looks very far away, but is actually right around the corner), I am not thinking about how much I’ll owe in taxes, whether I still have this 20 lbs to lose, visiting G’ma before she dies, and stuff like that. I’m thinking in huge generalizations like “have friends,” or “have a good relationship with my family.” But if I worked it from the 3-month out, I wouldn’t ever get to the bigger goals like “Hike the Pacific Crest Trail,” since that requires a lot of foresight that I typically don’t have when thinking of immediate needs…

Which brings me to why I think goals are important. When I’m unhappy with my life, goals give me a hope for the future. Instead of waking up every day and slogging through an endless march of shitty monotony, I know that I’m marching through this shitty monotony to the FABULOUS FUCKING CASTLE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MARSH! OOH a castle! But if I didn’t have that castle, I’d just look at the grime on my shoes and mutter about how no one knows the trouble I’ve seen. And also, I usually start wondering why I’m in this monotony and start taking actions –often quite drastic actions– to break the monotony, which sometimes isn’t the best from a long-term perspective. Likewise, when I’m happy with my life, it’s easy to coast through the years without noticing that time is passing, waking up at some later time wondering why I didn’t hike the Pacific Crest Trail [before I lost both my legs in the Revolution/before I got married and had children/while I was still insane enough to try it]. Don’t get me wrong… everything is great with loving the time you’ve got and being present in the moment and just being happy (in fact, Buddhists would say that this is the absolute in enlightenment, and that wanting all these goals and stuff is the path to unhappiness), but I think I’ll be happier knowing that I accomplished many things and had many experiences at the end of it all. I mean, I had to decide far in advance that I wanted to bike the Lifecycle, otherwise I never would have started training in time. And some day, I will want to accomplish things far greater than the Lifecycle that will require training of years, not just months.

So, that’s goals. Or resolutions. Or whatever.

Last year, I totally phoned it in. Those goals down there aren’t goals. Most of them weren’t even things that I cared very deeply about. Not that I’ll have more attachment to my goals that I’m working on now, but you’ll see the behemoth task of goals when I finally finish them up.

Right now, I’ve done up a 5 year plan and a 1 year plan, but I was distracted and people were talking to me and doing yoga and stuff like that, so I missed some stuff. My dad and I are getting together in a few days for more hours of goal-setting. It’s always great to do the goal-setting with my dad, since he’s so ambitious and taught me how to do them in the first place. Also, he’s wildly proud of me and it’s kind of nice to have someone cheering and who I can cheer for.

And as you’ve probably inferred from the manifesto above, you should really work on your goals, too. I’ve got some handy tips about categories and what type of things to include.

Anyways, off to do yoga!!

What is “normal”?

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On this eve of the first of the new year, I get to opportunistically reflect on the things I have, the things I want, and my purpose in life. I’ve always wanted to be “normal” and have a “normal life” (though most people I know would laugh if they heard me saying that, since my life bears little resemblance to the boring slog that most people think of when they hear “normal” — something I think of more as “quiet desperation”).

Ever since I was a little kid, I didn’t fit in. I looked like a boy until I was 9 and had to get into the habit of asking for the “ladies’ room” because service staff always directed me to the men’s room. I was too tall. I had no friends. Kids made fun of me. I wouldn’t wear a “training” bra and ended up needing a real bra earlier than anyone else I knew. Boys would dare each other to ask me out and then run away laughing. I got picked last in any athletic event I was forced to participate in. “Normal” seemed like this unattainable golden state that everyone else existed in… so when I got to pick my name, I decided that, by hook or by crook, I was going to be normal.

And that’s how I got to be “Normal.” And it really fits me, I think, since I have a regular job that I go to every day at roughly the same time. I have fairly un-exceptional thoughts on a day-to-day basis. I’m not very fashionable, but I’m also not notably unfashionable. I have hobbies like normal people: hiking, camping, hanging out with friends, blogging, photography. Yes, some of my hobbies are un-normal: collecting taxidermy, listening to Cracker all the time, modeling for unconventional photos (right), camping in the desert and applying spark to combustibles.

One thing I think I want to look into for the new year is what really *is* “normal life.” I want it… but do I? And what is it to other people? So I’ve set up a Google alert and will set out to figure out what a normal life is. Wish me luck.

A sweaty day in the yard

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Our yard is a mess. It’s really a total disaster. There’s a bunch of stuff around (mine and Hutch’s, so blame is evenly distributed), and there’s about 4 cars worth of real estate given up to a pile of wood that someone dumped in our yard and will probably be there forever (or until I chop it up, whichever comes first). But I’m done having it be a wilderness out there. I want to add more wilderness in the form of native plants like blueberries and, um, whatever else is native (there’s a native nursery a few blocks away, so I’m just going to go with their recommendations). I’m looking to create a bit of a sanctuary in our yard… we’ve got this gigantic yard that is often used by wildlife, but I know they feel anxious about it a lot of the time. I want to give them some bushes to hide around. Right now, we’ve just got a lot of out-of-control ground cover… in fact, I found a perfectly preserved squirrel that had burrowed into some of the ground cover after it had been apparently hit by a car. It didn’t smell at all. Lord only knows when it met its end, but it seems like it must have been quite some time ago, considering that it didn’t smell. And we’ve got some really tall trees that drop a billion needles all over the place. And I don’t mind the needles and leaves, but they’re just a solid blanket over everything, and the only things that can survive are ivy and this insane parasitic vine that I spent most of the day grappling with.

Anyways, I hope that I continue with this yard work stuff. I filled both of the yard waste bins, so I had to call it a day until the bins are picked up tomorrow.

For my notes, here are some shrubs that I might consider:
Arctostaphylos “Lester Rowntree”
Arctostaphylos densiflora x hybrid ‘Austin Griffiths’
Arctostaphylos patula
Berberis nevinii
Brickhellia californica
Ceanothus “Blue Window”

Written by normalslife

December 29, 2008 at 1:44 am

The sounds around my room

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I live in Tujunga, California. It’s a small town on the edge of a big town, filled with horses and meth and a creeping suburbia that everyone here hates and I guess I’m a part of. Diva and I live here because it’s next to the Angeles Crest Forest and we can go hiking every morning, but it’s still only a half an hour from work. A lot of Tujunga residents live in the low-lands, but Hutch and Diva and I live up in the place that’s still mostly wild, right up against the wilderness. And even a little like part of it, since the forest is around our property, literally, with a huge hill behind us and trees all over the lot. It’s a great place for the wild things to live, and I love it that way.

Tonight, I’ve got my doors and windows open. I don’t use air conditioning usually, since I think it’s bad for the environment, and honestly, I love going to sleep to the sound of crickets. All my life, I’ve never been in a place with more than an accidental cricket or two that somehow wandered in on someone’s clothes, so the hundreds I hear out there tonight are almost like the Disneyland soundtrack for the ol’ bayou.

I guess that’s not entirely accurate. My dad had a share of a ranch and there were crickets out there. I remember trying to figure out where the noise was coming from, but every time I walked up to the noise, it would stop. It would be years before I actually saw a real cricket and realized how buglike and gross they are. They sound like they’d be beautiful, or at least like little ugly faries.

My room is off from the house in a kind of primitive mother-in-law apartment. It doesn’t have a kitchen or even a kitchenette, but it does have a nice living area, a bathroom with a shower, and a huuuuuge walk-in closet that I’ve managed to fill with crap that I probably really don’t care about. It’s perfect for me and Diva. The lights dim when the air conditioning goes on in the main house and the hot water takes damn near forever to start, but it’s rustic and covered in cowgirl stuff and totally mine. I feel like I could never move and that would be ok.

On my mirror, I’ve written some notes to myself, including “BREATHE every hour,” and “LOVE AND CARE FOR Diva.” They’re reminders of things that I think might make me a better person inside. So far, I’ve found the breathing thing so helpful I might try to do it more than once an hour. (that was a little joke, I guess) But really, I want to be better and am usually trying to make minor (sometimes major) adjustments to my life to improve myself. A while ago, I wanted to start living with integrity, and I think I’m nearly there.

There are many dogs in the neighborhood, but none of them are barking tonight. The coyotes are quiet. Everything but the crickets seems to be somewhere else or asleep. A neighborhood dog got hit in the street yesterday, but that’s another story for another entry. It’s a story that I have to write, though. It’s almost the reason I started this blog entirely.

And with that, I’m going to bed. Diva wants to cuddle and my boyfriend wants a phone call. And, as my mirror says, I have to “SLEEP at least 8 hours every night.”

Written by normalslife

September 5, 2008 at 4:44 am

Posted in home, life