Stress Bubbles Over

coffee-fail

 

I wish I was blogging every day so that I could just rant away about all the things that are making me angry right now and you could laugh with me because isn’t that just how life is? We have so many ups and downs and in context of all the great things that are happening in the bigger picture, these little annoyances are just SO LITTLE. Except I haven’t been blogging much at all and I’m not very good at seeing the bigger picture and all these little annoying things do NOT feel very little in the moment!!

Bah Humbug.

I’ve been perking on a post in my head for a few days now. It was going to be about how I like to carry my coffee cup everywhere with me and how it spills on me sometimes at the most inopportune times but I refuse to switch to a travel mug because I think my coffee tastes yucky in it. There’s something about an open cup and the taste of glass that is about a thousand times tastier than plastic. Especially now that I’m weight-watchering and I drink my coffee with a mere reflection of milk in it and no sugar and half the time it’s cold.  I wanted to illustrate myself all mad (as I am these days more often than not) and then spill some coffee on my drawing but that didn’t work out as well as I planned when my coffee spill ran straight sideways instead of where I wanted it to go

And then Bug walked up and said, “Why are you always mad all the time?”

Deep Breath.

She hit the nail on the head. I’ve been mad for a week straight I think.

First the cancer scare (that I still need to set up ultrasound and bloodwork tests for but is most likely just in my head) then the divorce mental crap, then crying in the doctor’s office because maybe I’m pms-ing and it’s all just too much, school starting up (which is actually a good thing but new schedules are tricky) and then yesterday my car broke down and I spent the entire day dealing with that instead of cleaning my house, grocery shopping, doing laundry, getting paper and toner for my chingadero printer and otherwise enjoying my kid-free day by getting things done. Oh right, I need to make more money because my car and printer toner are SO EXPENSIVE!!

So here it is Sunday and I feel like I’ve gotten nothing done and on top of that  I have no right to complain which makes me even madder. I have friends who have three kids or who’s husband died  who NEVER get a day off. I should be thankful that I at least get one day off. I just….why can’t I appreciate the good things I have?

Deep breath.

latte-art

I guess I just need to check in and say, I’m in the thick of it this week. How are you?  Do you need a hug but you are too afraid to take hugs from friends because you know you’ll start crying and you don’t want to get all mushy in public? Do you rush into the bathroom and let it out quietly and then put eyedrops in so your eyes won’t be all red? Do you snap at your kids because you are trying to do five hundred things and you can’t think straight because they’ve interrupted you twenty-five times in the last minute? Do your friends text you late at night and ask you if you are ok and you tell them yes because you are sick of sounding like a complainer?  Because you know you will be okay eventually. It’s just this week, right? Things will get better. They always do.

I’m ashamed. They say that how you act under pressure shows your true character and my true character is mad mad mad right now. I want to be gracious and pleasant and sweet. I want to share meaningful things and make people feel happier. But secretly deep down I’m a bubbling pot of stress. Not so secret actually. It’s bubbling out of my eyeballs and ears and if you interrupt me more than three times you might get burnt with my scalding temper. Poor Bug.  Why do we hurt the ones we love? Why can’t I take it out on the car dealership or the stupid service provider who likes to spam me with emails that look like invoices but are actually sales pitches? That’s a whole blog post in itself…

sunset

 

So if you feel this way too. I understand.

P.S. All of you who have been there for me this week (Teri and Kylie, my neighbors…) and these last few years (Heather, Susan, Bethany , Calee and Deb, Carrien and so many others…family too), I hope I don’t seem ungrateful. I am.

You’re Really Talented but you Lack Focus

wayback

I remember a long time ago one of my friends, a guy who I really respected but we treated each other like peers, wandered into my office.  You’re really talented, he said, but you lack focus.  Those words have haunted me a long time, probably over ten years. I know he’s right but I still to this day have not figured out how to fix this problem.

He worked in a cube, diligently. Every morning he’d show up a half hour before work and read the paper. I think it was the New York Times or the Wallstreet Journal or something.  I asked him why one time. Why didn’t he just stay home and read that paper in the comfort of his own breakfast table? He smiled and said something about not giving everything to “the man.” I think I got it but I was the kind of employee who snuck personal time all day long. A half hour before work was hardly selfish in my book.

I had a luxurious office recently handed down to me by the president of the company because he felt guilty about something. I’m not really sure what. Maybe because I’d been with the company a really long time and wasn’t properly compensated or maybe because I was going to be sidestepped for a promotion. I don’t know.  Office politics were always tricky at that company. I was just happy to be upgraded from a cubicle by the bathroom (that stank!!) to a spacious office, even if it didn’t have windows.

I was good at my job and churned out all kinds of mock-ups that got sales people fat commission checks so it wasn’t that I was a bad employee but I did spend a lot of time fixing up my office (best office in the whole place by the way) and making rocket ships out of the cardboard boxes that piled up outside the IT department. So I guess I get what the guy meant when he said I was really talented but lacked focus.

But how does someone who is creative focus? That is the eternal question of a freelancer.  It’s been dogging me for years.

Stress and deadlines are effective but they lack staying power and they wreck havoc on your life. You end up hunched over a computer with posture like Quasimodo. Everything hurts because you drink too much coffee and you sleep too little. Finally your body rebels and you end up having some kind of breakdown or you rebel and blow everybody off for three weeks (not that I’ve done that).

So then you set yourself up with a strict schedule. You vow to wake up at five am and work until three without even so much as a lunch break. I’ve used timers and highlighted calendars. I’ve worked at friend’s houses and asked them to be strict with me. But in the end you are your own boss and you rebel. Next thing you know you’re typesetting a cookbook for your mom or creating a dollhouse out of cereal boxes, schedule be damned.

I recently took my entire weekend off and read the whole first Outlander book. You might say, How nice. You needed to relax. No, I didn’t. I relax all the time. I’m forced to work poolside after all.  It was stupid and gluttonous and I’m going to be paying for it all week. I’m sick of myself. Not to mention my kid ran wild, eating taffy for dinner and who knows what for lunch. I was a horrible mom and I vow to never do that again.

Why do I do things like this? I love to escape into a series on Netflicks or lose myself in books but then when I’m done I’m left looking at my life like a druggie about to go into rehab. How did I let things go like this?  Of course everyone is fine. Don’t worry. My bills are paid, my kid is mostly well adjusted and I usually snap back to responsibility right in the nick of time but why? Why can’t I be like my friend who came in a half hour before work and get my personal time in small doses? Why do I need to throw caution to the wind and lose myself in fantasy?  Is my own life that boring? No. Of course it’s not. I love my life.

I’m rambling.

I speak for myself but as a creative I am my own worst boss. Or am I?  As soon as I set rules for myself I break them.  Is there a way to harness creative energy in such a way that we can support ourselves and not deplete ourselves?  This is obviously not a well-thought-out rant but I lack the time to be more concise. My boss, who is me, is getting after me. Focus, Brenda, focus!!

photo: me back in the day circa 1999 I think.