Monday, January 17, 2011
Rambling, Rambling, New Year's to Now
On New Year's Eve I worked all day and wore a gold crown. I like that paper party crowns have not changed in style since the early 1900's, it's a good look and it makes you feel like you live in the Emerald City, which is a way I like to feel and don't get to often enough. After working that long, long, 15 hour day, I came home and wrote an equally long post detailing the entire thing with side bars and footnotes and hoohaws and then deleted it and went to bed for about 12 hours. The post was just as, if not more exhausting than the shift itself and no one who is not getting paid should have to go through that. Work, work, work, champagne blah-blah. That sums it up.
The highlight of my New Year's was after the restaurant was clean and the lights in the dining room were turned low (although the bar was hopping till three in the morning), I took off my crown, took down my hair, and sat on our empty patio with two of my coworkers (who are also two of my favorite people) and we talked and laughed so hard in PTSD hilarity that Lovely and I had to clutch our faces to keep them from falling off our heads.
Lovely has a new boyfriend (who had also worked a double at his restaurant) who was there and I got to hang out with him for the first time. I was watching him closely, because Lovely is my work-wife, my beloved girl, and her last man did not treat her right, but I came to believe that this is a good one and I am so glad. I may be at my best, socially, after I have worked for 15 hours because it's a bit like being drunk. All bets are off! My-give-a-fuck meter is at zero! I am not attached to the results! Being at my best socially is not saying much, I am, as I have said, an Awkward Girl, and I tend to sit on the very edge of my seat and leap up to empty the ashtrays. That night on the patio I was so tired that not only was my hair down, my shoes were off, and I was tucked up curled in the patio chair and I did not get up once to empty an ashtray or refill a drink. I saw their drinks getting low and I said nothing.
At one point, Lovely's date went back to the bar to re-up and she tipsy whispered to me that he was funny, wasn't he? And that he felt like a socially awkward person. Sometimes you get two socially awkward people in a room and conversation just goes to shit and all the air gets sucked out of a party and then it is time to leave. Sometimes the magic happens and the two people (or three, or four, because we're none of us exactly smooth) find that these people are their people and the night opens up and you find yourself making dirty jokes in Irish accents and saying, "Oh Danny Boy, THIS pipe is calling..." and it is exactly right and an old man in a bow tie wanders out with a cocktail in his hand and tells you that you are a beautiful girl. It's amazing what hair down does. It makes men silly. And the gold hoops, Mama, the hoops. Well, anyway, that is what happened.
A week later I was sick. I think the holidays caught up with me and all the long hours at work and doing really the bare minimum of taking care of myself. My heat, for example: It's an old furnace and tricky to turn on. I tried to light the pilot myself and could not. I asked my friend Sanchez to come help me and he tried, really he did, but mostly he tried to play romp with me on my bed, slap me on the ass, and ask for a sandwich. Then he sat and looked beautiful in front of my window as the sun set and we smoked my cigarettes and talked about dirty nuns. After he left I went to Target and bought a space heater and some tampons and thought, "I am really taking care of myself now." A space heater does not an entire apartment heat. Since then on the really cold days I have camped out in the living room while the cat sails her pirate ship around, and bracing myself every time I needed to go to the bathroom or get a change of clothes. I am sure by now that all of my neighbors have seen me naked. It's like it's included in the rent.
I knew that either one of my fathers could probably get the furnace working. I knew that. I also knew that my brother-in-law could do it because he did it last year and the year before, but that was why I was especially not going to call him. I don't want to be a bother. I really really don't. I am loathe to ask for help. I would so much rather make my brain figure it out and make my body somehow do whatever it is I need it to do, and if that means it takes a long time to get the thing done, well, so be it. If that means I have to experience slight discomfort, so be it. I don't mind, generally, I really don't. I am very good at distracting myself from discomfort and so it's not like it's really all that bad, and I get such a charge from doing things myself that it's worth it in the end. Usually. It's amazing what you can do by yourself.
Or if you are sick and cold, you may find yourself passing out in your living room and really trying not to because you have a cup of tea in your hands and you don't want to have to clean up the mess later. Not in your weakened state. Which is of course what happened.
I hadn't been feeling right for a while, but I kept thinking that if I hadn't gotten sick yet I wasn't going to. Then I started coughing, and my temperature rose, and I had to admit defeat and call in sick to work. It was a little like the heater situation. I felt worse and worse, but never actually horrible, not like I was dying, and there was no one around to look at me and tell me I looked awful because when family called to see if I needed anything I said no, no, I have everything that I need. I wasn't bleeding out my eyes or anything. Then came the morning of the dizziness and the world going black like an old TV set switched off and I sat on the floor with my head between my knees and thought, "Well shit. How am I going to drive myself to the damn doctor?" Which is when I sucked it up and called my brother.
There have been a few times in my life when I really have felt like I needed a hero and those are the times I have called my brother and he has always come, and he has always done exactly what was needed to be done.
He left work and came and scooped me up. We went to the doc in the box (who ended up being very nice and told me I wasn't getting enough air because I had Bronchitis, hence the dizziness and I was like Oh Good, Bronchitis! I was afraid I was maybe dying. I thought it was the end of times) and we went to get my prescriptions filled, and we called Mama and she said "Come Here So I Can Take Care Of You." and I said, "Yes, ma'am." So he drove me all the way out to Lloyd where Mama was already making soup and all I had to do was curl up on the couch and pillows and blankets and tea would be brought to me, like I was a little princess, watched over by Mama and deer heads and giant fish.
[An aside: Not only did my brother leave work to come get me and do all this but the whole time we're going through the fun process of doctor and pharmacy and what-all, he's making me laugh and I'm laughing and coughing and laughing and coughing and I'm sure scaring everyone at the doctor's office and the store into thinking that yes, the plague has arrived. But that's Hank. He is funny as shit.]
It was so nice and so cozy at Mama's house. My nephew Owen, Our Boy, came over and brought me flowers and brushed my hair and called me May-May for the first time that I have heard in his perfect little bell-like tiny boy voice. Mama made the best soup I have ever had and that is all I ate for about three days. I felt coddled. I felt loved. I felt safe.
Their drugs were quick and by the next day I was ready to come back home, except... Oh it was so nice to sleep in a warm house and walk freely from warm room to warm room and not shiver and cringe when I had to use the toilet. I had asked my brother for help. I had asked my Mama for help. And so that day I called my Daddy Glen, my tall-man dad and asked him Please, could he come and get my furnace to working? Which he did, and was happy to do so. I told Mama that when I walked in the house the next day and it was so warm it was like Dad's arms were wrapped around my entire apartment, just holding me safe, keeping the warm inside.
I don't know why it is so hard to ask for help. I think I have a fear that once you ask for help people will think you are helpless or weak, and then treat you as such, or not trust you, or not respect you as well. Now as I write this I see that so much of my own identity is tied up in being able to take care of everything alone, being strong and independent, and so perhaps I am afraid that I will think of myself as weak or helpless, that I will lose respect for myself and it really has nothing to do with how others perceive me. I honestly don't know how others perceive me, which is probably a good thing. So if one thing I rely on for self esteem is not really helping me out in the long run, perhaps I need to reevaluate what might be my better qualities.
I have quite nice hair.
My legs are very strong.
I can make jokes in many accents.
This may require more self reflection than I am up to right now. I am on very aggressive steroids and antibiotics. I am not supposed to be doing anything that requires coordination. They may cause dizziness and light-headedness and I am encouraged to avoid operating heavy machinery or driving a car. (I just read that on the label yesterday after having worked brunch and feeling all day like I was serving in a fun house with trick floors and wondering, wondering why I felt like I might fall down at any minute.) Serious self reflection may have to wait until I am well enough to walk to work again, which is the best time for thinking.
Today is my normal day off and it is rainy and gray. I have heat, I have food, I have drugs to make me well. I have sunflowers by my bed. I have everything I need. I believe I may do a lot of sleeping, so the getting better goes by faster, like a car trip in the night when you are a child. So safe, so safe, and when you open your eyes you are there. The world goes by very fast outside those windows, but you don't always have to watch it. Sometimes other people can watch it for you.