Reigning in My Crazy

If you haven’t been following me since I was a graduate student, you might not be familiar with the fact that I can be a little high strung. Okay, so maybe that was also apparent when I started dating Jake… and then when I started sleeping with Jake… or when I got my new job… or when I realized how much I hate my new job. Know what? Not that big of a mystery. As much as I’d love to be able to, I simply cannot describe myself as a laid back person.

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I want to, at least occasionally, be the girl who’s up for anything, who just goes with the flow when plans change… and I have been at times. I was that girl when I talked Gail into getting tattoos on a whim. I was that girl when Gail called in the middle of the night to tell me Terry was stuck in a ditch two hours away and I went along for the ride, entertaining her by reading aloud from satirical reviews of Fifty Shades of Grey. I was that girl on all those impromptu nights out with Catherine. I was even that girl when Jake wanted to go on a weekend ski trip in February, with little notice and having never skied. Lately, though… lately I just haven’t been able to muster up the gumption to be that girl, at all.

You see, I wouldn’t say that 2016 has been bad. It’s just been in a constant state of change. When I was 21 years old, I moved for the 10th time in two years. Every time someone knocked on the door, my heart leapt out of my chest, because I was certain my ex-husband had gotten us evicted again. After I left, things settled down a bit, but life wasn’t exactly what I’d call “steady” as I worked two jobs and attended graduate school. When I graduated, I was promoted to half time librarian and my pay at the library nearly doubled, but I was still dependent on my substitute teaching check. The harrowing world of dating wasn’t exactly a balm to my nerves, but I was no longer a student, so it was still an improvement. Then, I met Jake and was promoted to full time Supervisory Librarian. Finally, I would have the chance to settle in and get comfortable… except that’s not what’s happened at all.

Jake is wonderful and everything I’ve ever wanted, but his work schedule and the distance have been an endless battle. I thought his quitting the oil field might free up some time, but until he gets a job in the city, he spends his weekdays in another state working on the Granger Ranch. As for me, $50,000 a year in one of the cheapest states in the country sure has been nice, especially with all that health insurance, but… I hate being a manager. Here I am, almost one year from the announcement that I’d been promoted and everything was falling into place and I’m back to my “please let me get the job” prayer mantra.

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Life certainly isn’t as stressful as the days of packing up all of my belongings in four hours, before the landlord calls the police. It’s not even as stressful as working two jobs and relying on the Almighty for health insurance. A surprise middle management position, major relationship milestones, months of illness, a year and a half of schedule conflicts with the love of my life, Jake’s unemployment, and now both of us applying for new jobs, however, does not a laid back Belle make… and I’ve gotta admit, my crazy’s becoming harder and harder to hide.

A few weeks ago, I lay on Jake’s bed, distraught:

Me: “Everything’s in flux and it has been for so long. I just feel like there are no constants anymore.”
Jake: “I’m a constant.”

The only reason he gets away with putting his foot in his mouth so often, is because when he does say the right thing, he nails it.

The next weekend, Jake walked through the door as I announced:

Me: “I’m getting an elective C-section.”
Jake: “Please stop reading those articles.”

After a weekend of arguing about C-sections versus natural birth, I ended up in tears and Jake finally asked the obvious question.

Jake: “Why are you so upset about something that’s not even happening for at least two years?!?”
Me: “Because you told me just last week that you’re absolutely opposed to elective C-sections and I agreed with you. Then Catherine and Laura both told me that natural childbirth will rip you in half and to definitely get a C-section. You have such a big personality and you’re so opinionated that I figured if I started arguing about it now, I’d have a better chance of winning!”

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Jake: “Okay, I promise you that when the time comes, I will consider all of the options, if you’ll promise me that you’ll stop reading those articles.”

He also has the patience of a saint.

My irrational fear of eventual childbirth all started when my (former) OBGYN brushed off my birth control side effect concerns, despite my months of pain. Fortunately, though, I had better luck with my new chiropractor… after my hip popped out of place the morning of Jake’s birthday… because I bent over to pick up a pair of shorts.

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One of the things no one ever really talks about, when they’re busy glorifying living alone, is how much it sucks to be hurt or sick and not even have the luxury of company. Maybe it’s just me, but there’s something about being alone that amplifies any and all ailments… though apparently not nearly as much as finding out that I didn’t get that job I wanted.

I admit, the day I found out that I didn’t get the Cherokee job, I hit a breaking point and had something of a meltdown. While Jake is great at being supportive in person, he’s simply at a loss when his verbal skills are the only arrows in his quiver. Through a haze of pain, I babbled incoherently into the phone about hating my life, which I’ll admit was needless melodrama, but days earlier my hipbone was tucked behind my tailbone while I grimaced through a fishing trip. I’ve been under a lot of stress y’all.

Here I am, though, with an empty uterus and realigned spine, declaring that I will take the rest of 2016 in stride!

I will stop working myself up over Future Belle’s problems!

I will do my best to accept that the ever changing landscape that is my life these days, will ultimately lead to something good!

I will stop taking advantage of the fact that Jake is experienced in the management of high strung, over-achieving women!

I will reign in my crazy and I will force myself to enjoy my favorite time of year, because I will be that girl who goes with the flow!

imsuperchillallthetime

The new kid in school…

Of all the complaints people have about adulthood, from paying bills to digging the glass out of the garbage disposal after breaking the cherry jar that got stuck (it happens, y’all), no one ever mentions the thing I’ve found to be the toughest: still being the new kid in school.

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I’ll never forget when my daycare teachers relocated me from the four-year-olds class to the five-year-olds class. I lined up against the wall, excited to be chosen and dubbed a “big kid.” Two hours later, I sat in a circle, as strange kids played a game. When it was my turn to contribute, the only response I had was “Can I go back to my old classroom, now?”

Yesterday was my last day at the West Side Library. Today was my first at the North Side Library. I’ve been unbelievably excited about my new supervisory librarian position for the last month. I bought a new, custom-made, lunch bag, because no one ever accused librarians of being cool. I ordered a “super librarian” t-shirt and an “awesome librarian” mug, because no one ever accused me of being modest. I scoffed at my coworkers, as they fretted over change, telling them that this was old hat. I’d only moved from the South Side Library two and a half years ago. But, now that I think about it, it seems I forgot how hard that was, because by the end of my first ever, full time shift, I am…

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… overwhelmed. My new coworkers are friendly and welcoming. My boss is awesome and has made it clear that my supervisory duties will be a gradual progression and I’m not expected to immediately know how to make a schedule. I am essentially just supposed to librarian for the first month. I got keys and one of them is to my office! The weekends are finally going to mean something to me and I can save for retirement and actually see a doctor.

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But we didn’t interfile the young adult science fiction with the adult science fiction at the West Side Library. We had rickety brown wooden book trucks, not those cute and colorful metal monstrosities. My old manager didn’t use Outlook for anything and now I have to learn to use it for everything, because apparently that’s what upper management does. We didn’t keep the magazines in those magazine covers or shelve all large print with no regards to genre. We didn’t build task forces to deal with problems and we weren’t assigned readings by our manager. I don’t know where anything goes and I can’t remember if their names are Caitlin and Diane or Kayla and Diana. I don’t know where the Newbery Medal winners are, because we didn’t have a special section for them at the West Side Library and don’t knock on my office door, because I’m busy hyperventilating!

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This is my big break and literally my dream job. I’m happy. I am. That’s why I chose to make this change. It’s going to be wonderful… in a few weeks. But in the meantime, can I go back to my old library now?

The blog post is coming from inside the bathtub.

So, Gail finally came back from North Carolina. We hadn’t hung out in a week, exactly, and I was getting the shakes. She quickly pointed out, however, that that might have been for another reason entirely.

Me: “I found the best blog while you were gone. You should have read this at your dead grandma’s funeral. It would have been a lot better.”
Gail: “Wow. I can tell you haven’t really been sleeping lately.”
Me: “Whatwhy?”
Gail: “Because the less you sleep, the faster you talk.”
Me: “Huh. Iguess I hadn’t reallythought aboutit. I didgoto bed ataround 3:00, 2:30 lastnight?”
Gail: “And got up at, what, 7:00?”
Me: “Um. Yeahactually.”

I’ve since realized that I must just be really stressed over the whole graduate portfolio thing… so much so that I needed Gail to tell me so. That might also be why I haven’t been eating. Is that not the coolest fucking stress reaction ever? I get a Masters degree or my life is over and I get skinnier?!?!? So it begins… my stress-induced insanity. I’m not exaggerating when I say that the summer of 2011 required I be medicated from a concussion to get any sleep during finals. The spring semester of 2012 ended with me propped up on a bunch of pillows, trying to drown out all distractions as I worked on my final project… from behind the closed shower curtain in my empty bathtub… sucking my thumb and crying. Seriously. If you’re thinking about getting a master’s degree: stop it. The thing is… that was in May. It’s fucking February, y’all. I deliver my portfolio in mid-April and I have already taken up my post in the empty bathtub, where my blog can apparently still distract me. Psh. Whatev. I only care about the ends. Fuck the means. Apparently, Gail and I have funnier conversations when I’m high on exhaustion and we haven’t hung out for a week. We had a late lunch (a side salad for me) and visited the art supply store today.

Gail: referring to demands on her time “They all get a piece of Gail.”
Me: “We’ve known that for years now.”

Me: “I’ll give you $5 to bark mid-orgasm the next time you have sex with Terry.”
Gail: laughing “It’s not like I can control whether or not I bark mid-orgasm…”
Me: laughing hysterically “Can I quote you on that?!?! ‘It’s not like I can control whether or not I bark mid-orgasm.’ Abigail Frederickson.”
Gail: “That’s not what I meant!”
Me: “It’s not like I can control whether or not I bark mid-orgasm. Really, though, Gail… can any of us?!? That’s going on your dad’s quote of the day calendar.”
I’ve been threatening to make this calendar for ages.

huge mirror

Me: “Why would you want this one? Is it for when you get really fat and tall?”
Gail: “I like the really sizable ones. Okay, get ready to say ‘We’ve known that for years now.’ I like them sizable.”

pretty bathroom

Gail: “Why would you hang a picture in your bathroom of a prettier bathroom?”
Me: “Maybe you could get a couple of the mega mirrors and make it look like you are in that bathroom.”

not plush egg

Me: “Oh, my gosh, these look like they should be plush and I just felt a moment of complete rage when I realized they weren’t.”
Gail: “You’re insa… oh, my gosh, they do look plush.”

glitter testicle

Me: “Ohmygosh. I have the strongest urge to just go all out and decorate for Easter in glitter testicles.”

Me: “That beef jerky had better be made out of fucking unicorn meat for $10. I doubt you could eat unicorn meat, though. It seems like it would be like polar bear meat and just be toxic to your system, because it’s mythical and you’d die.”
Gail: “Wait. What? You can’t eat polar bear meat? Says who?”
Me: “Everyone. That’s like a thing everyone just knows.”
Gail: “No it isn’t.”
Me: “Yes it is. Just because you don’t know it, doesn’t mean everyone else doesn’t know it.”
I google it, because smartphones are bomb.
Me: making a placating guesture with my hand “Polar bear liver. I’m sorry.”
Gail: incorrectly imitates hand motion “What, is that some kind of ‘nuh-huh!’ gesture?”
Me: “No. That’s ‘calm yourself’. But see. I was right and you’re just stupid. You die if you eat polar bear…” :drop voice to a whisper: “livers.”
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“Polar bears aren’t able to force geese into extinction and science is really upset about it! Or they’re taking note of it. I guess it doesn’t elaborate on their feelings. They should be upset about it. Wait. If polar bears are some kind of natural predators to geese, we need to get us some fucking polar bears up in here!”
Gail: “Oh, my God. Are you listening to yourself? You are insane when you haven’t been sleeping. ‘We need to get some fucking polar bears up in here!'”

I have an intense Once-Cried-at-the-Zoo-at-Age-23 fear of birds, particularly geese. We have too many fucking geese here.

Fuck. I am being super unproductive. Even in the bathtub.

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Where might one come by some cocaine?

I’m sorry I ate your Christmas candy, but I’m joining the Marines.

If you’ve spent five minutes either with me or reading my blog, you know I’m wound as tightly as a fucking slinky, when it comes to school… and lots of other stuff.

Yesterday was the last day to substitute teach before Chirstmas break and the end of my three week Perpetual Work and Homework Kill Fest. It was also the day I awaited the opinion of my professor on the first essay I wrote for my Directed Reading course, which focuses on preparing me for my re-Portfolio.

So, I anxiously substituted 6th graders who were super mega-on-crack excited that Christmas break was coming. Their teacher received several Christmas gifts, which I paid little notice and set to the side. I glanced at the ziplock bag with chocolate in it and wasn’t even sure what it was.

The day wore on. I checked my e-mail. I checked my e-mail through the internet instead of the app, in case all apps were broken. I checked to make sure my original message had sent. I made sure my follow-up “I really did try to find more supplementary literature” e-mails had sent. Yes. That was plural. I re- read my essay. I re-searched for supplementary literature and verified that it wasn’t available. Then the third class of the day hit.

Student: “That candy’s probably going to go bad. Are you going to eat it?”
Me: laughing “I’m not going to eat your teacher’s candy.”

Is that chocolate covered peanut brittle? I didn’t even know that was a thing. I guess it makes sense. It sounds good. Well. Maybe just one piece. It’s not like she’s going to notice.

So I did it. I stole one piece.

I checked my e-mail again. I read my book, which was about a woman who was an ex-marine. I say that as if it wasn’t just more werewolf porn with  a tertiary plot, so you’ll think I read deep literature.

Text Message
11:33 Me: My professor has had 13 hours to read and respond to my essay. I so failed it and will never be a librarian.

Perhaps she hasn’t read it. No, no. She always responds early. Likelier, she’s grading it. If it’s taking that long, she must be pretty unhappy with it. Oh, God. What if she hates it? I didn’t find any supplementary literature. But there wasn’t any! Maybe there was. Maybe I’m just implementing poor searching tactics. That’s what a librarian is fucking FOR and I can’t find anything?!?!?

I quietly comforted myself with a miniscule piece of peanut brittle.

Text Message
11:41 Me: She so thinks I’m an idiot with no knowledge of information theory.

Oh, God. What if she’s trying to properly phrase her e-mail explaining that I’m really just not cut out for this and should probably consider another career path? What if she wants to give me my rejection over the phone?!?! Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god. What would I do? I could teach. Teacher’s do get Christmas candy. This peanut brittle is really good. I wonder if I could make peanut brittle. I’d likely end up in the E.R. and I can’t afford that. I only have healthy insurance for son long, though. May as well try now. Oh my god, what if I can’t be a librarian?!?!?! I won’t have healthy insurance, either! I could join the military. I could make a career out of that. I already own guns.

11:42 Me: Oh my gosh, I’m making myself sick over this.

But we’re at war. What if I join the military and I get hurt in some kind of fire fight? I don’t even know what a fire fight is, but I read it in that book and it sounded really bad, like it involved flame throwers. I doubt that’s the case, though. It’s a little irrational to assume the U.S. military employs flame throwers. I doubt that would be a sanctioned fighting tactic. It probably wouldn’t be terribly effective. It could maim me, though. I could lose a leg or an ear or they could have to fashion me a new pair of lips from my groin skin. I wouldn’t even have a vagina anymore! You can’t have sex without a vagina. No one would ever date me or marry me and I would die alone!

12:08 Me: It’s been 13 and a half hours!
12:13 Gail: Chill! She is running late!

Summary: It’s been 13 and half hours since I sent my paper. I am legitimately concerned that this means I’ll lose my lips in a horrendous accident and therefore die alone.

Oh, my god, I’ve got to calm down. I’m going to throw up or cry and I’m working… sort of. Substituting is really undemanding. One more piece of candy won’t make any difference.

Another excruciating two hours passed, where I looked up several peanut brittle recipes, read a little, and was just about to Google the U.S. Marines requirements. Ha. Like I could pass the psych tests? I noticed I had an e-mail. It simply announced that her comments were attached, along with the suggestion for my next paper. No encouragement, no defecation. The attachment, however, began with “Well done!”

Oh, fuck. She’s using the sandwich method. She’s going to offer a compliment and then criticism and then another compliment. This is bad.

Gail: mocking me “You have really nice hair. You should never be a librarian. I really like how into your computer you are.”

One: that was an odd compliment, there, Gail. Two: I was wrong, of course. She loved the paper and appreciated the literature I did include. There was no criticism at all, just a few recommendations for databases I could search next time. Finally, I could breathe easy and enjoy my piece of peanut brittle.

Fuck. I just ate 3/4 of her candy. It’s really unlikely this teacher is going to think a student left her 3 pieces of peanut brittle. Should I throw it away? No. Then she won’t thank the student. It doesn’t say who brought it to her, though. But what if they ask her about it? She’s probably not going to notice how little is in there. Besides. Her name wasn’t on it. I mean really. It’s unlikely she’ll notice and more unlikely she’d blame me, because who the fuck eats someone else’s Christmas candy!?!?! Maybe I could leave her a note saying there was some, but I spilled soda on it. Maybe I could make her more and sneak it in here on the first day back.

Gail: “Okay. If you just happened by and saw this bag, would you think it was new or that someone had been snacking on it?”
…..

…..

…..

Me: “Yeah… I should’ve just taken it.”

I did, indeed try to make peanut brittle.

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When it turned out poorly, I put it in bags and gave it as gifts to coworkers. I may as well get a pat on the back for the consideration behind my crap cooking skills. It was so chewy, you had to pick it off your teeth. My gums are literally still bleeding.

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My coworkers won’t be getting any of my second batch. I suppose they won’t be taking my vagina away just yet. At least not before my military fire fight days.

Well, that was almost a milestone: a graduate student’s descent into madness…

I got my grades yesterday. I still “didn’t pass” my portfolio and have to present again in March (or April if I freak out in February), so I’m not really done. I’m just done with the required coursework. This totally would’ve been an awesome accomplishment if I hadn’t messed up the portfolio. I’d be celebrating. Instead, I’m still completely freaking out about the portfolio and reading every textbook cover to cover, because I’m insane.

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I’m aware of my insanity…

and my academic obsession, because I would never expect from others what I expect from myself. Ever.

Which is good, because getting my grades went like this:

Oh, thank God, I got an A! I got an A!

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Wait. What’s this? I only got a 94? She wrote that she was generous with grades and the people who got a 95-100 put in more effort. I mean, that’s true, but still. I only got a 94? What does that mean? What should it have been? Did I basically get a B? I GOT A FUCKING B?!?!?!

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Why did I get a midrange A? Why didn’t I get a high A? No wonder I didn’t pass the portfolio. I’m too stupid to get a high A. 

What did I get in the other class? ANOTHER 94?!?! I guess it rounds to a 95 at 94.6, but it still says ninety fucking four! I actually did some of the readings in that class and it was only a 4000 level course that wasn’t even required and I got a 94?!?!?!

I’m officially the stupid child. My dad’s going to think I’m an idiot just like the portfolio committee did when I said I didn’t know what Reference was. Ugh. I can’t believe I said that. Then I told them I’d break up Reference and Non-Fiction again and didn’t even have a reason. I want to die of embarrassment all over again.

A 94?!?!?! What fucking moron gets a 94 in Children’s Literature?!?!?! I’m never going to be a librarian!

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Oh my gosh. I’m totally about to cry over a midrange A. TWO midrange A’s… because I’m midrange, which is the same as average. I cannot cry at work. I cannot cry at work.

I need therapy and to never, ever get a PhD.

insane girl

Mushroom Cloud Over Madison

Aside

I’ve been feeling a bit agoraphobic for the last day or two. Gail tried to diagnose me with social anxiety disorders that she Googled* and I told her to shake her rat bones at someone else, insisting that psychology is a bunch of voodoo witchcraft. In actuality, I completely believe in the effectiveness of psychology, which is why it freaks me the hell out. I don’t want anyone cracking open my skull and taking a shit in it. Despite my discomfort, I went to Mass today, wearing jeans and a pink t-shirt, which I never do (dresses, usually). I huddled into my coat the entire time thinking about how if I transformed into a lion, I could run out. I’m not sure why that required being a lion, since I did, in fact, leave immediately after Communion.

*She majored in pyschology for the most annoying week and a half, so that’s an exaggeration, for which she’ll call me a bitch. As a matter of fact, she’ll call me a bitch for this side note too.

I’m just still not in a good place over my academic set-back. I’ve convinced myself, somehow, that this lessens my chances of ever being a librarian, regardless of my future success on the portfolio. The rational part of me knows that the job market hasn’t changed in the last week and won’t in the next six months. The irrational part of me, however, is still crying in bewilderment over a ridiculously large Old Chicago cookie about how the only life left for me must reside in the virtual world. Huh. Just made the connection from that to this blog. Ultimately, I know that I’ve been in worse places in life. Gail herself said “Hey. Look on the bright side. You’re not married.” Damn. Fucking. Straight. But it’s still a crushing blow for me. I don’t fail at things. I do a little less than expected and cry my eyes out over it, but I don’t actually fail.

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Yeah. He did.

If it seems exaggerative, that’s a text from my friend, Ward, who has seen me in tears over a B or the infamous 98.5% assignment. I still haven’t told my guy friends about my delayed graduation. I kind of plan to avoid telling them and then just swear it was May the whole time. They’ll know something happened and that I can’t talk about it without crying and making them uncomfortable because they have penises. Win/win.

After a day of laying around in leggings and an oversized t-shirt, reading blogs and trashy supernatural romance novels, I got this super encouraging E-mail from my professor. He told me he looks forward to my re-presentation (word I made up) and that he’s sure I’ll do great. Either my portfolio defense wasn’t as bad as it seemed, or my instructors think I’m about to swan dive from the top of the college library after E-mailing to promise them that I’m going to re-read everything ever. It’s likely the latter, because I’m absolutely certain that a mushroom cloud went up over Madison as I gave that awful presentation. Then, first born sons mysteriously died. There was even a run on the banks for some reason. It was really bad.

Regardless, my professors don’t want to kill my spirit, and that’s what I took out assloads of loans for, am I right?!?! Honestly, I think they have faith I’ll do well. They wouldn’t be encouraging me to present in March if they didn’t, when I can have up to a year to prepare. Even I know I’ll fix this, deep down. But I still have these fits of “WHAT IF I DON’T?!?!?” Being a librarian is all I want. I went through so much to get here and I might lose it. I have no backup. I want no backup. The idea of not being able to do this job breaks my heart.

I feel like my whole life has stalemated until I pass this. I’ve decided to give up dating until I’ve graduated. That’s partly an excuse, just because I’m REALLY bad at it, but it’s still a distraction I can’t afford. I don’t have time for funny bad dates. Nor do I have time to hit it off with someone who demands a substantial chunk of my life. School. Career. Then boys.


That time I tried to be sexy…

I wish I could just cope with this adjustment and move on. I wish I could just get excited that I only have one more class left. I wish the stress would stop taking root in the form of feeling naked when I’m in public. Tomorrow’s the start of a new week, I suppose. At least I’ve come down from my promise that I’d only dedicate an hour a day to entertainment and the rest would be to studying. I’m too obsessive a person for this.

Gail: “Get out your laptop and fix this.”

I’m clinging to those words.