Tag Archives: troubles

I Done Been Bugged: A New Era

We like to think We Get It.

We’re all big-hearted people that grasp other people’s adversities — yada, yada, yada.

The trouble is, a lot of us don’t talk about our adversities, so how could you possibly grasp what you’re not even aware of?

I’ve been really bitchy for a while now, and it’s only in the last couple weeks that some of that has begun to evaporate. The trouble has been a few things, and I’ve sort of been sitting on it more than talking about it, because sometimes talking about it just doesn’t fucking help.

In fact, when it comes to cockroaches, talking about it makes it worse.

I’ve never understood pest problems, or why people lived in shitty buildings, or how you could sit idly by while your situation worsened and worsened.

But then it happened to me.

About five weeks before I blew my back out, in September ’08, I saw my first cockroach. I cleaned everywhere, but they kept appearing here and there as a result of a garbage-collecting Dumpster-diver on the first floor (fucker). Then I blew my back out and had to live on the floor for about six weeks as they escalated in numbers.

The last 22 months were an endless battle.

Honestly, I’m not sure I would have moved had I had the money. After all, once you get a cockroach infestation, I mean, geez — have eggs, will travel. You’re best to stay put once you get people working on the problem.

Right around then was when my bathtub faucet started to malfunction too. Naturally, having a hot bath’s a bit of a necessity when you have a back problem brought on by fucked-up overtense muscles.

For the last year, I’ve been running a bath by using the shower.

Then there’s the decaying kitchen floor.

It’s been a really fucking long two years — just on the “around home” front.

See, I don’t write about money and shit very often. It’s not really your business how I live. But here’s the thing: I’m pretty smart about how to live The Appears-Good Life on a budget. I buy cheap wine that isn’t lighter fluid, I know how to make little pieces of meat go far in tasty brilliance, and I buy a few “quality” ingredients to give me the impression I’m living it up.

But what I’m really doing is living very cheaply in an expensive city. I don’t buy clothes, go to fancy salons, or any of that jazz. Life hasn’t made income very disposable for me. When I eat out, it’s usually because others are treating me or because I’ve budgetted two weeks ahead to afford that dinner-and-a-beer.

And that’s the way it goes. It’ll continue that way now that I’ll be returning to school to learn basic business accounting and other self-employment skills for the next year, too, while I journey down the Working-for-Me future.

So when it  comes to “home life”, it’s really important that I like where I live — because I’m financially, & writing-hobby-wise, required to stick around a lot.

This spring, the cockroaches reached the worst point ever.

They began escalating in February.

By the end of May, I’d now had a couple cockroaches in my bed (clutched one under my pillow one night), had them crawl on food, and other horrifying things — all for someone who’s had a lifelong terror of bugs.

Despite 18+ months of persistent problems, I’d never had them outside of the kitchen or in any kind of numbers like they’d now become — and they had full reign of my home, invading every corner in a matter of weeks.

I couldn’t invite people over for shame I’d have a roach run up the wall in front of them.

In my part of the world, cockroaches are NOT common, and there’s a stigma attached to having them. And the fucking people who say, “Why don’t you move?” ARGH!

Like it’s that easy when you don’t like what you’re dealt. Just pick up and go? Not everyone’s reality allows these things, and a little more empathy and less judgey “Well, gee, that seems easy to solve” sanctimony would go a long, long ways.

You want to bankroll what life requires on my behalf? No? Then don’t fucking ask why I didn’t move. Because: Money.

Well, I finally learned the laws and realized I had a very, very easy time to file an official complaint about the state of living. At the end of May, I called City and reported my building, then I called my landlord and informed him that, NOW, I wasn’t working, and NOW I had the time to make his life a living hell if he didn’t stop making mine one, now that he had 6 months to get started on it. I said I had a very, very strong desire to fulfill that threat, and a REAL GOOD way with words when it came to writing letters to politicians and shit.

Unbeknownst to me, because of the cockroaches, an inspection happened immediately (without notifying me of entry, thanks!).

Two days after, pest control was begun throughout the entire building for the first time!

Three weeks later, I saw my last roach. It’s been nearly 2 months after pest control and the last week or two has finally seen me begin to fall asleep without the last thought before I shut my eyes being of all the cockroaches I’ve seen, or of grabbing one as I flopped over and stuck my arm under my pillow in bed.

Yesterday and today, my landlord has begun to repair my complicated bathtub problem.

Next month I get a new kitchen floor.

I wish I’d gone to the city sooner. Thank you, City of Vancouver.

We think the government doesn’t give a shit, or that the system will never help us, but all we’re doing is just removing a possible solution from an otherwise grim outlook where we need ALL possibilities to be explored.

This morning, I was telling a friend about how much life in The Time of the Cockroaches sucked, and I got all emotional and began tearing up and gasping.

I hadn’t realized what a burden it’d been and how cynical it made me of life and people while I fought and fought for resolution to my problems — but I fought in the wrong direction and went to the wrong people.

Fighting the fight isn’t good enough.

Fighting the fight requires it being the right kind of fighting, and against the right opponent. It means knowing where to turn and what you need.

But, mostly, it requires you believing you’re in the right to pursue that goal.

I became outraged at the end of April, flew into a rage on the phone, but with the most calculated and well-thought series of viable threats I’ve ever strung together.

And now I await my landlord’s return with the Final Parts so that I may once again bathe with pleasure. And without hot water dripping from a shower.

___

We do things wrong.

And things go south.

And, if we’re lucky, we learn a lot about ourselves in the process, making a difficult experience not have been in vain.

I’m lucky. I’ve learned a lot. I know what to worry about in life now, I know when life kinda sucks for realz. I also know I’ve only scratched the surface of what others endure. Yeah. I’ve learned a lot.

Don’t think you know what people are living with. You often haven’t got a fucking clue. Lord knows most of my friends didn’t.

The Struggle to Identify Your Struggle

I had an interesting Twitter debate this morning after someone spoke of a Starbucks kid who screwed his store over by twice not showing up as the “keyholder” to open the shop.

The debate came from completely different perspectives — I’m getting on in my 30s, spent 15 years in retail, dreamed of a better day working in “real” jobs, but eventually realized my job never solved any of my problems in my life; meanwhile, the other debater’s in her early 20s, dreaming of a better time in a real job, and probably believes the same as I used to, that life really gets better with a different job.

Trouble is, one day you wake up and you realize that all you did was put on different clothes and cash a bigger cheque.

You dreamed of the trappings of success, but never realized it was really just a trap till it really had hold of you.

Deep down inside, the smarter-older you realizes the job has fuck all to do with your true happiness — it just gives you better means to avoid the issue and hide from the truth.

Anyone blaming their job for unhappiness probably needs to think twice.

I can’t tell you the hell I put myself through believing it was my job that was costing me any happiness in life.

I thought, “Oh, it’s a do-nothing, go-nowhere job. It’s why I feel so held back in life. I don’t make enough, I don’t do enough, I’m not special enough. I know — I’ll quit! I’LL SHOW EVERYONE!”

After two years of trying to get by in an endless parade of bad-fitting jobs, part-time work, and self-employment, I realized the job was never the problem.

No matter what I did, that current of discontent still ran through me. I was my problem.

Let’s face it, not everyone’s going to have a job that speaks to who they are. Not everyone gets to work in a career that radiates their true nature. We need labourers and waitresses too, you know.

There comes a point where the job just doesn’t matter.

If you think a career’s all you’ve got going in your life, then, yeah, okay, I can see how you might be in for a world of suck.

But that’s your choice. You’re the fucking idiot that’s decided some dude with a wad of cash has that much power over who and what you are. God help you if you ever lose that job, y’know? Be MORE. Expect MORE. Live MORE than just your job.

I’m not my job and I’m not my bank account.

I’m the chick with a way with words who really digs thinking and living a contemplative life of slowness and relative quiet. I’m the chick who can find god on a riverbank and think there’s nowhere else I should be, and no one who should be with me. That’s me. When I leave work, I contribute to my end-of-life legacy with things that speak to me and who I am. Not as much as I could… that troubles me. I want to do more. But I’m further than I was, and do more than I did, and these are good things. And I know the things that call to me, that I should do, and that I know are going to be done. My time, my way.

My advice?

Don’t look at your relationship or your job as your source of unhappiness. I betcha dollars to donuts that the source is inside you. Things you’re likely not doing or facing, and it’s easier to use life situations as “obvious” blames than it is to do the hard emotional work of realizing a lot of answers lay within.

Running’s easy. Standing and fighting? Then you get a cookie. And some bruises.

Good luck with that. It’s so not the 2010 way — avoidance is an artform. We got yer pills, your cars, your portfolios, your adventure vacation packages, yer smart phones, yer funky gadgets… shit, we even got Lady Gaga. Is she a chick?

Is that ALL there is? Isn’t there more? We’re the wealthiest the world’s EVER been — so why the fuck are we all so empty?

Rip the fucking scab off. Prod your wounds. Do all the things that scare you. Find more to satisfy YOU in life, and stop blaming your inability to do so on your spouse or your job. It’s a choice and a matter of values. Make it happen. It’s quality, not quantity, so think about it.

Hiding behind time demands as an excuse for a life half-lived is a sissy 2010 thing. MAKE CHOICES. You can’t BE everything or DO everything, so CHOOSE. Offend people and don’t go to a few engagements. Big fucking deal. CHOOSE.

Seriously, if I could sit every 20-something down and say, “All this angst and sadness you have? Your shitty retail job isn’t the problem — your reaction to it is. Everything you need to know about life, you can learn here and now. If you want.”

And if I could sit every 40-something down and say the same thing about their office jobs? I would.

Because you’ll never learn about people better than in the workforce — their capacity for evil or infinite goodness, their irresponsibility and unexpected nature are all unavoidable, daily.

Don’t cop out and blame your job for unhappiness unless you really know you’re happy everywhere else in your life. If you quit and get the rude shock at another job that you’re still going home empty inside and, gee, that place has assholes there, too, then you’re in for a really crushing emotional defeat.

Trust me, I know! Been there, done that, the t-shirt didn’t fit.

Stay with the devil you know. Try a new sport, find hobbies, do things you love. Remember to take time to do things that make you a better version of you. When you feel you’re on the way there, then you can make other changes.

Otherwise, you’re likely just doing more harm than good.

Changing should always be done on the inside before you attempt the outside. If you’d like to see it take hold, that is.

Pfft. I don’t know, I’m still on my journey. But what I DO know is, I’m happier here, “on my way,” than I’ve ever been — and I don’t have a job or savings or security. I have more inside me, though, than I ever have, and I credit that to the really hard choices I’ve made to learn about myself and all my damage, over the last 3 – 5 years. I made some mistakes along the way and I’d rather others learn from that.

Fix you, and the universe will follow, seems to be the lesson things have been teaching me. Jobless? Moneyless? What I got you don’t buy, you don’t get given, and you don’t take. You earn it, slowly. Self-knowledge, faith, belief, and you learn it by going crutch-less and not dishing out blame.

Yep. Fix you. The universe will follow. It’s a fucking amazing thing.

PS: Sometimes your job really is a steaming pile of shit and you should run for the hills. But, you know, just make sure of that.

Wait a Sec!: Thoughts about Depression

If you think the following post slams my ex in any way, you’re an idiot. Acknowledging someone’s shortcomings isn’t vindictive. And acknowledging that they have good reason to have their faults is also not vindictive.

For some reason, we live in a world where being passive and inaccurate is mistaken for “being nice.” C’mon, none of us is perfect. I burp, you know. I offer advice without being asked (hence this board, heh… gets it a little out of my system. Not entirely, but it helps). I’m opinionated. I’m blunt. I can be moody. I’m bitterly sarcastic. I’m narrow-minded. I’m judgmental.

It’s all true.

So to call me something that’s true is, well, not vindictive in the least. It’s merely right.

I fuckin’ hate how you can’t say anything bad about anything and not be perceived as negative, hateful, or cynical. It’s so fucking stupid. It sucks. They suck. C’mon, grow a fucking spine. Have an opinion. Say what you think. Fuck that, just THINK.

And while I’m all rared up with no place to go, let’s get onto this topic of calling DEPRESSED a “SWIPE” at someone.

Hey, depression’s a fucking ILLNESS, man. Sometimes it can be almost untreatable. It’s a hard fucking road to travel. Calling the stating of a person as “depressed” a “swipe” means depression isn’t a real thing. It’s dismissive of the horrific struggles faced by all those people who can’t understand why they feel the black hell they feel. Don’t fucking disrespect them by suggesting that their clinical state is merely an insult or a swipe, and not the gaping black hell of existence they know it to be, ALL RIGHT?

This isn’t the “wah, I’m having a bad day” depression I speak of, that I know firsthand; this is the “I’m scared to go outside because something might trigger a descent again” kind of blackness that literally puts a fear of God into you.

When I call my ex-boyfriend depressed, I call him that with nothing but tenderness and sorrow. I feel for him. I wish I could help him. There is nothing, not anything, that I can do for him. How I wish I could. I can’t. That’s just the state of depression for you. Somehow you got to find your way out, but this isn’t some spelunking game. This is sinking. It’s a shipwreck of the heart, and shit, man, Lost is going on Season Three, you know what I’m saying here? If you don’t get found, man…

Depression is the bane of my life. I’ve travelled that road too often to feel anything but empathy for its sufferers.

My brother broke my heart last week when he told me he was crying every day these days, missing being a husband and a father, he said. Broke my heart. What do you say to a man who feels so emotionally crushed in the face of his not being able to be the man he wants to be? I believe depression’s harder for men simply because they’re told to not listen to their emotions most of their lives, and here’s this thing of darkness screaming at you every waking moment, or drowing out the noise in your life, and you can’t ignore it. It’s there, always. I think men feel more helpless with it, but women are kind of conditioned to know our body does this to us, and we’re brainwashed to believe we’re the weaker, more emotional sex, so we somehow cope better as a result of it. Men have to bottle it up for pride’s sake, and the price they pay’s just horrific sometimes.

I recommend this brilliant book by William Styron. Brilliant literary take on the journey of depression by one of the best writers in the world. His was chemically induced (though some of us would argue they all, in one context or another, are) and spiralled towards suicide. It’ll wake you up to a more intellectualized and concrete look at the psychosis of depression.

I believe I’ll always be somewhat prone to depression. Now, though, I realize that no matter how dark it gets, I find moments of joy. I need to always remember that.

Anyhow. I wasn’t sniping. This is one breakup where no one really is to blame.

And to the reader who expressed concern that a great relationship could die at the hands of something stupid like a broken leg, well…

…Welcome to the real world. I have been alive for 394 months. This relationship ate up maybe five months of it. And it feels like so much more. The connection went deep, fast, and there it is. Such is life. Broken hearts hurt, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. When it breaks, you can hear it cracking. In fact, they did a study last year that proves for once and for all that you really can die of a broken heart.

Yep, Broken Heart Syndrome occurs when there is a sudden tragedy that hits you. A death, a diagnosis, a theft, whatever. It mimics a heart attack and can require hospitalization, after which (2-3 days) the people can leave in decent health.

Every friend I’ve lost, every lover who left or drifted away, every relative, they’ve all taught me something. Some are dead and gone but remain with me now. Some hurt me in ways I’ll never forgive them for but to this day I remember things they’ve said, that we did, and it will always stay with me.

And that’s life.

There’s a valley in Eastern BC, outside a little town called Nelson. The natives there have a legend that it’s the valley of the lost souls. The belief is, when you’re broken in spirit or body, you go there, by the river, and in time, it will heal your soul. When you leave, you leave whole but for the little piece of your soul that remains, and then heals the next broken spirit who happens by.

And that’s what love and broken hearts are. You hurt, you heal, and a bit of that experience stays behind to make you better, stronger, than you had been before.

So, my heart’s a little worse for wear, as is my ex’s, and that’s how it goes. We are what we are, broken. And there’s no shame in it.

Doh, She’s a Sneaky One!

If you’re thinking, “Wha– where’d dem posts go?” then you have a keen eye, Grasshopper.

I’ve sanitized the last couple of posts, where I’ve been bitching about work. Why? I let slip that I’m running one of the top 9,000 blogs in the world, according to the goodly folks at Technorati, out of, oh, say, 49 million. Naturally, they were curious, and since I have no shame, in the morning, I’ll pass along the URL.

Like I say, everyone I know knows I write this shit. I have a big mouth. :)

I have good news, though. I’m out of my jam for yet another two weeks — my old employers have some work available. Then I have to decide whether to put my eggs in that basket, or in the basket of the temp agency who possibly will have work once they test and assess me on Monday.

You know, if there’s any one thing I’ve learned this past couple years, it’s that pride fucks you up. Need help? Ask for it. Don’t know where to turn? Admit it. It’s amazing where help comes from when you don’t expect to find any.

This morning was a fucking dark time for me. It consciously felt like I had hit “bottom” bottom. I don’t like knowing how that feels. Naturally, it’s not REALLY bottom. I can fall much farther. I simply choose not to. I can’t. Must keep upward. So, we’re back on the up.

And tonight I took receipt of my recording gear. I have one of the coolest fucking mics in the world, baby. And headphones. Tonight, before bed, I lie in bed with the iPOD and listen to some music on my real expensive studio headphones, not those cheap fucking fraying Sony plastic ones I’ve got.

Nice to have my day ending far better than it began. It’s funny, now and then I decide the price of earning money is too high for what the real / physical / emotional costs are. I cancel an appointment or something, knowing money’s too tight to mention, and next thing you know, it appears elsewhere. I guess I always just worry that luck’s gonna run out one day.

But, not today. Whew.

Envy me. I have Swiss Steak cooking in the oven. Fuck, it smells good. Man, I rock. Kiss this, Betty Crocker!

Thoughts: On Stairwells and Other Obstacles

The cable has been down now for some 14 hours. Both internet and television. They’re constructing a new transit line, a light-rapid rail line, over the water, and the workers in this area executed brilliant competence last night as they swung their heavy machinery and managed to sever the cable lines that feed probably 300,000 of us with pictures and words from the outside world. Whatever shall we do, home without distraction? Whatever can we put our lazy little minds to?

You, you get me with a many-hour delay. Fed to you through disrupted service, put on hold, stuffed away in some insignificant computer file until such a time comes as I can unleash my glaring insignificance upon you.

I’m thinking about stairways today. Steps that ascend, descend, or are even completely meaningless, leading to doors that stay locked and never, ever open.

There’s a poem by some dead poet – Langston Hughes, he of the jazz-rhythm behind words – about life being no crystal stair. There’s no clarity of where our adversities come from, no ability to see ahead of us miles on end. No, our stairs are warn and warped, wobbly and overworked. They creak and groan, there’s soft spots in the center, and hard metal-cased edges to save the joints. They’re dark and cramped and have no visibility beyond the next 12 or 14 steps. Stairs, I surmise, are a bitch, but they take us where we need to go.

I remember high school. Sometimes with a smile, but mostly with a groan. This is year fifteen since I graduated, and I’m sure there’s a reunion, but I’ve heard nothing. Would I go? I very well might. But not being afforded an invitation, I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

High school was a mix of craziness and dying to fit in. Most of my friends were outside of school, since I was raised in a white-bre(a)d town filled of wealth and pretension. The native reservation in town might’ve been a world away, because we sure as fuck never saw them. There were two high schools: One on the east side, where the poor and fucked-up would attend, the other on the west. Naturally, the west reeked of money and patronage. There were the whores (oh, were there) and the jocks and the geeks and the brainiacs. I was a geek with social promise. I had friends, I was a mystery, but I didn’t opt to hang out with my peers, other than a few of the cooler outsiders.

In the midst of it all, I had my stairs. I’d choose to slip away and find a stairway that didn’t have a lot of traffic, and I’d read to get my head out of the world that I knew was reality. Sometimes Paul Theroux, sometimes my biographies of dead great artists, sometimes Vonnegut. Whatever, but it was my time, my world, my secrecy. For those few stolen minutes, the world around me would cease to be.

And then a bell would ring. I’d be sucked back into that mind-numbingly uninspired life with an unchallenging curriculum and bored-shitless teachers. I’d be forced back into monotony, where I’d be compelled to stuff my individualism back inside me, rendered just another pawn on the board of life.

It’s fifteen years later, and I can’t say that much has changed.

I have my own little world, this fancy little apartment of mine, all decorated like an eccentric professor unafraid of colour, and here I hide from the world at large. Me, my books, my media, my cooking, my comforts. Me.

And then, time changes. The hands pass 12, appointments loom on the horizon, the world makes its demands, the internet surfs me through to my bank account, and I realize I’m not alone, I have obligations, and for whatever it’s worth, I have a role to play. One that is no choice of mine. No matter who or what I wish to be, somewhere inside of me sits a cog that fits ever so perfectly into the droning gears of the machine of life. I wish I didn’t fit, I wish I didn’t have to, but I do, and it’s my lot in life.

Just like it’s yours.

We forget those little desires and dreams of greatness that we all nurse deep within us. Who’s kidding who? Each of us at one point wished to be a ballerina, an astronaut, a rock star, a famous writer, an actor; each of us dreamed of greatness, of a life of envy and regard. Yet here we are, doing what it takes to pay the bills, because someone somewhere pointed out just how fucking tired we must be, struggling to climb those stairs. We forget our dreams because to remember them is to be conscious of how much it is that we want but do not have, that we may never have. We become accustomed to the simplicity of life: eat, sleep, work, play, pay.

We acquiesce.

So precious few of us ever achieve what we really desire. We learn to settle, to stop wishing for more. We learn to make peace with all that we’ve come to acquire, regardless of how short we’ve fallen from the heights we once dreamed we’d reach.

I’m at a point in my life where I need to struggle daily to ensure my bills get paid. Sometimes I begin living on the depths of my freezer, embracing the canned goods that fill my cupboards in wealthier times. Sometimes I crack open my jar of change in the hopes that the $18.49 in loose change is going to get me through for three more days. And that’s the way my life is, because that’s the price I pay for this: The chance to live my dream, if even just the tiniest bit, of being a writer for a living. Through it all, I mostly struggle to keep my pride and my integrity, if not my unending fear of what might never be.

Ultimately, the time will come when this isn’t getting me through anymore. That time’s nigh, my friends, and it saddens me. Soon, I’ll have to give up this dream and return to the mundane existence of the 9-5 world. Soon, I’ll have to work under another’s directive, because, soon, I just won’t have the steam remaining to live with this kind of uncertainty. And this is why dreams break and fall away from us, because the demands of life, from a system that truly serves few besides the wealthiest, are far too overpowering to avoid.

And what does it really do to us, these realizations of loss and failure and reality that come in dark places, like deserted staircases and empty halls? The realizations of just how much we’ve given up for that greatly sought-after myth of security?

Well, fucked if I know. I’ve never had the privilege of being on the other side of that myth of security, and maybe it’s my fault. Maybe I should’ve given up long ago, let myself be sucked into the beliefs of laying down a retirement package, buying the house, getting married, and becoming stable. Maybe that’s what it’s all about. Maybe I’m just a romantic, content now to live on dreams and love and all that comes with. Maybe I missed the memo, that life is for living and dreams are for dreaming. But as hard as all this is, the mental struggle to keep the faith against the odds, to realize that the negative balance in my bank account shouldn’t reflect my actual worth… I can’t help but to believe I’d make the same choice all over again.

I just hope it’s all worth it.