Too much

By about 10am this morning, I was ready to call time of death on the day and hightail it back to the safety of my bed’s blanket cocoon. You might say, well, that’s what you get for kicking things off with an HR training. And I’d respond, yes, you’re right and I’m a fucking idiot.

I’m starting to keep track of how often I hold myself back, shut myself up, and shrink myself inward in order that I might get through the day without leaving too much of a wake. I self-minimize to excel; I would not make it far in this work environment if I allowed myself to take up too much space.

This morning, I was supposed to learn the skills and strategies to be a more effective supervisor. The Cliff Notes* version: individualize, dehumanize, and decontextualize. I’ve read too much. I’ve heard too many stories. I’ve been fucked over too many times. My colleagues nibbled at donuts and scribbled pages upon pages of notes. I sipped coffee and wrote only to have something to do with my hands besides pick at spare bits of skin on my face.

Home, finally. My upstairs neighbors may be moving? I can’t imagine what other activities would create the loud bangs and scrapes and slams that are forming the backdrop to my evening. I grab my headphones, crack open the new ‘zine that was waiting in my PO box this afternoon, and try to let myself unfurl from the tightly coiled secret I’ve wound myself up in today.


Catch up

Moving: what you forget about it is how long it takes to really stop moving. How you feel like you’re standing on the deck of that boat long after you’ve disembarked. How the ground feels fluid and unsteady under your feet. How fucked up your inbox can truly become.

I woke up this morning with the urge to get my shit together. After a hectic and off-putting week, after a very long day that started at 4:30am and ended at 9pm, I slept for 12 hours and that seemed to finally flip the switch in some part of my brain that had been laid low by depression, anxiety, and exhaustion for months. I’ve just been coping, and coping mode can feel debilitating in a weird, this-is-all-I-am-forever-and-ever kind of way. Today, I felt somewhat capable. That’s new.

It’s not like I built a house or wrote a novel or made a movie. I cleaned out my inbox and replied to messages that have been lingering like a cold sore, not all that serious really but there. I filed away informational emails and saved the links and documents to places where they may actually get looked at and handled. I cleared my flagged messages folder which had emails that went back, I kid you not, to 2010. I wrangled the contents of my hard drive into some kind of order and dealt with the random mess of files on my desktop. I emptied my trash folder.

You should not be impressed, as none of this is particularly impressive. But I’m going to pat myself on the shoulder. For some reason, I’ve been able to keep my physical space relatively tidy and under control, but my digital space felt like the mound I could not possibly tackle. Too big. Too much.

Well, get me some pads, because today I’m a linebacker and this turf feels pretty damn solid.


Every so often (and much more often recently), I have what I call an “anxiety day.” I wake up and the weight of inexplicable dread cuts off my breath like a pillow. It fills every crevice of my body, every corner of the room, crackling through every molecule of air and matter. It’s as if I’ve stepped out of bed and directly onto the lip of a cliff.

And if you know me, you know how I feel about heights.

Even the simplest decisions, what to have for breakfast, whether to boil more water for tea, feel heavy, serious, impossible. A neighbor cranks up their stereo and I am overcome by a tangible, sparkling electric rage. I’m restlessly lazy, unable to sit still, unable to move. I consider a nap, but close my eyes only to be confronted by an endless to-do list, alongside every professional and personal task I’ve failed or let slide since birth.

I don’t confront my neighbor, because I know that on this day of all days I’m only capable of spitting unhelpful sarcasm and insults. I plug in a fan, which gets some air circulating and creates sufficient white noise to dampen his greatest-country-hits soundtrack. It’s Sunday afternoon. I need to grade some assignments, catch up on some email.

Instead, I sit entombed, anxiety’s grip strong. More tea. As for the rest, perhaps tomorrow.

Keep going

Yesterday, I resolved to stay off social media until my lunch break because, a) in the best of times, Twitter is an bottomless pit of distraction, and b) in what may in fact be the worst of times, that distraction has ballooned to include the destruction of everything I know and love. FUN.

But after 4 hours spent futzing over class planning, I needed a little brain vacation and wanted to catch up on the haps. My lunch sat half-eaten as I tried to take it all in. I mean, this country has always been a violently colonialist, capitalist, racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic hellscape…it just always seemed (to my admittedly privileged-af ass) that we were at least trying to do and be better. Trying, as a community, to live up to some higher ideal of freedom and liberty as entombed by rich white slaveowners in our ever-vaunted Constitution. Seems we’re not even pretending anymore, let alone trying.

There’s part of me that says: resist! Donate more $$ to #NoDAPL! Call my representatives! Get more involved in local activism! Be the radical leftist teacher I want to see in the world! Fight back! Fuck them!

But to be honest, there’s also a part of me that feels…what’s the point? That runny orange shitstain is literally undoing whatever good Obama may have done and amping up the state’s oppressive violence to new levels…and it hasn’t been one goddamn week. What power do I have, do most members of my community have, against that, really? Even if we resist, even if we manage to make his every waking minute an exercise in frustration, his inevitable successes will make this country a measurably worse place to be for likely the rest of my life.

I don’t mean to sound so hopeless…but right now, I sound how I feel. Like I’m watching a plane fall from the sky and I’m no match for gravity.

Acting up

Add my voice to the chorus: after the bullshit festival that was the inauguration, yesterday’s massive worldwide Women’s Marches were salve for the battered soul. The pictures are fucking life.

I, however, woke up Saturday morning and just didn’t have it in me. A long week, waking up with a headache, the 20 degree temps and high wind warnings, the march’s 9am start, the thought of real pants…whatever broke my spirit, all I know is I got out of bed, made myself coffee, and almost immediately fell back asleep on the couch.

I regret missing out on all those awesome feelings of community solidarity, but of course it’s the long game that’s the challenge and, at the end of the day, the imperative. With that in mind, a few things I did this weekend:

  • Set up a recurring monthly donation to Planned Parenthood.
  • Joined the ACLU.
  • Set up my Amazon and Fred Meyer accounts to donate a percentage of my purchases to AWARE.
  • AWARE partners with Girls on the Run here in Juneau, so submitted my volunteer form.
  • Signed up for Swing Left and Daily Action.
  • Actually wrote down my Senators’/Representative’s names and phone numbers. Y’all that know me know how I hate talking on the phone.

There’s more to do, there’s a LOT more to do, but it’s a start.


When you last heard from your intrepid wanderer, I was emerging from exhaustion and burrowing into my nest, designed especially to accommodate languid winter vacation days.

But my body wasn’t ready to let go just yet. After teasing me with a sore throat for several days, the cold came on strong and phlegmy. Having not yet built up more than a few hours of sick time at my new job (and not yet economically secure enough to shrug and opt for unpaid leave), I spent a couple of the worst days hauling my sorry ass to work and playing the part of “person.” Because as soon as you get a moment to stop moving, sit back, and breathe, your body says “how about not that last thing for a while lol ttyl.”

Today, though, I stepped out my door into the bracing 15ish degree weather and felt almost energized. Frozen, but invigorated. Unsure of the icy footing, but alive.

Still can’t make it more than a few minutes without reapplying a coat of menthol to my throat, but it’s a start.

Happy 2017.


A cold, soggy day spent ensconced at home, binging on Gilmore Girls and popcorn and hydrating the shit out of myself while slowly emerging from the vision-occluding halo of a two-day migraine. My eye sockets still throbbing, I massaged aloe into the dry, itchy, red patches of skin on my face, a souvenir of mysterious origins that popped up mid-holiday in Seattle. Around 7pm, my brain seemed to click off and I collapsed into a compulsory nap. I feel fuzzy and frayed around the edges, simultaneously sleepy and wired, like I’m standing on one leg and my knee is starting to shake.

Exhaustion, my friends. I start counting up the weeks, months of stress (good, bad, in-between), the before/during/after of interviews, the waiting to hear, the decision making, the sharing of the decision with the supervisor, coworkers, collaborators, etc., the getting various ducks in a row to make my soon-to-be-former supervisor’s, coworkers’, and collaborators’ lives a bit easier. Then, the thousand details of moving, packing, traveling, acquiring an apartment, address changes, new licenses and license plates, waiting for things to arrive, unpacking. Starting the new job. The holidays.


I have lists. Short, medium, long term goals, projects to start, Alaskan adventures to pursue. But for now, for the next week or month or so, it’s TV, books, snacks, and inappropriately timed naps, until both feet are back on the ground.


I am 37 years old. 37…not 24. 37…old enough to have kids who, in turn, are old enough to no longer require a babysitter. Old enough to think, I mean really think, about the health and viability of my retirement portfolio. Old enough to be married, divorced, and remarried. Old enough to be in charge, to sit at the head of the table, to set the agenda. Old enough to be thoroughly stuck in certain reactive and behavioral patterns, to have very strong opinions about how things ought to be and be handled, to have significant prior experience to base those opinions on.

I posit that these patterns are hard to break at this age. At 24, I could go anywhere and do anything and pretty much be okay with whatever obstacle arose in my path, with wherever I laid my head at night and however spent my days at work. As long as I was making music regularly, of course…

This experience thus far has been an exercise in constant, nauseating gut churn. My stuff is still missing in action and I feel disturbingly unmoored floating around without furniture to tether me to the floor. I’ve just started a new job and feel compelled to be good-natured and charming at all times and it’s exhausting. I’m writing everyday, but I’ve not played music since I got here, afraid the cavernous echo of the empty apartment will arouse my neighbors wrath prematurely. People keep recommending that I get out and participate in loads of social nonsense that makes me tired just thinking about. Did I make a mistake? Was this all one big miscalculation?

I’m used to listening to my gut. INFJ all the way, after all. But my gut is, itself, stuck in a pattern. I’m used to making decisions in a certain kind of way, driven by ambition and external perceptions of success. My gut most recently led me to a place where I was crying over email, where I crashed headlong every night into a pile of bad TV and alcohol, where I felt alienated in almost all of my relationships and mostly wanted to do nothing more than be left alone with my Netflix and a bottle of decent bourbon. I suddenly found myself no longer 24 but 37, and truly, deeply unhappy.

Coming here felt like a sharp right turn, off the road I’d been on for so damn long and toward something different. Different good? Different bad? I don’t know yet. My gut feels some kind of way, but I think it’s in need of readjustment, following a history of bad habits and worse choices.


It’s Saturday, and I’m sitting on a folded-up rug in the middle of an otherwise empty apartment. My furniture, books, dishes, all my stuff is (hopefully) nearing the end of its northbound journey and will fill this void soon; but for now, I’m camping indoors, making do with an air mattress, one small pot, one mug, one incomplete set of silverware. You forget how little heat big, blank spaces retain; my first electric bill is sure to be a thrilling read. I’m not sure I’ve ever shown chairs the appreciation they rightly deserve.

I have a million errands still to run, phone calls to make, emails to send. But after a rather busy week moving a thousand miles to an entirely new place to start an entirely new job, I decided to take it easy today, use my lack of internet access as an excuse to rewatch Gilmore Girls on DVD, do a little laundry, and make lists. Lists upon lists upon lists. All the lingering details that pop up while trying to establish a new life without veering too close to bankruptcy in the process. It’s a delicate dance to choreograph.

Snow is falling and actually sticking for the first time since I arrived. I’m watching big fluffy flakes swirl over the water outside my window, bands of clouds alternately obscuring and revealing islands in the distance. Temps are dropping, with proper parka weather forecast to hit on Monday. Luckily, I got my first piece of campus mail on Friday: ice grippers for my shoes, standard issue for all new university employees.


Two full days with no internet connectivity, half a suitcase full of books, and this view:


Then, a restless night (DON’T OVERSLEEP AND ACCIDENTALLY END UP IN ANCHORAGE GAH) followed by a very early morning and a dark/dreary drive off the boat.

Once back on dry(ish) land, it’s time to reconnect with the world (wide web), drain a coffee bucket, and begin establishing my Alaska cred. I need a mailing address. My soon-to-be new apartment needs electricity. Etc.

Observation: the Seattle Chill has not yet spread to Juneau. It may be colder outside up north, but I’ve never felt so utterly disarmed by people’s warmth. When’s the last time you went into a utility department’s office and left with not only a service contract but a self-declared “new grandmother?” Everyone I’ve talked to thus far has managed to melt a corner of my icy, black heart. It’s positively shocking.

Will these gooey feelings persist? Well, the ultimate test may be coming: I plan to hit up the DMV tomorrow.