Categories
Non-Fiction

Becalmed

Today I was in tears over a mobile game. It wasn’t really the game that upset me, so much as it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I feel like I’m dealing with the death by a thousand cuts—I have for a while—but due to a combination of shitty luck and personal choices, I have no real safety net. All my friends are online at this point, I don’t have any contact with any of my family by my choice, I currently live in the most expensive part of the US, and my brain functions in such a way that meeting the expectations of others just feels like it takes a hundredfold the effort it should. So I’m tired.

But any time I think about this for any length, I can’t help but think about how much better I have it. There are people who don’t even make half what I do, who can’t cut ties with their toxic family, who are not physically able to function like the people the world is designed for. So then I feel guilty for feeling bad about my situation. I think about all the things I should be doing to make my situation better — I should make an appointment with a doctor to see if I have ADHD and if medication would help me out, I should be looking at taking classes for things that are more “valuable” to the job market so I can improve my pay, I should figure out so way to afford car payments and gas and insurance. Then I get mad at myself for not following through on these things that should be easy, I then distract myself to cope… and next thing I know, it’s time to give my time to someone else again.

That’s the other thing that’s got me so upset. I feel like not only am I doing everything for myself, but like I can’t even get help with the things I take on to help others. As much as I love the play by post RP I run, I’m honest with myself that I only started it because I’d had so many troubles with how others had run the ones I’d been a member of before, and I end up doing a lot of what needs to be done from an administrative standpoint because it’s hard to find people who are interested, fun to write with, and aren’t complete and utter tools, but also have the time to dedicate to the game. I’ve had to compromise a lot on that last quality because finding all four seems to be impossible, and I can’t compromise on the other three. I don’t begrudge people for it, but it does get frustrating when I feel I need help but I have no one I can ask for it.

The thing with the mobile game that got me in tears earlier though? The game has an event going right now where we need to all purchase boosts with in game currency to make the event tasks easier. In order for the boosts to be truly helpful, it’s recommended we stack them. So, I’m leader of the club, I pick a boost time and most of the club pops online to apply the boosts and take advantage of them. Except today I forgot about it until afterwards, and no one pinged me to remind me. Hearing about it afterward, apparently we’d managed to stack enough boots to get like twice the boosts we normally have and I missed it. And like, sure, it’s a game and with the whole fucking world on fire… who cares if I can collect little cartoon cats on my smart phone, right? Except it wasn’t about the game, it was about how it feels like I’m always the one forgotten unless people need something, I’m always the one who’s expected to have her shit together because I figure out the things for other people before I take care of myself. Because I don’t know how to take care of myself.

I stumble through best I can, and everyone says they’re doing the same, but it never feels like others are having to fight anywhere near as hard over such stupid simple things. It also feels like everyone around me is upset with me no matter how hard I try. The only ones who don’t get upset with me are the ones who I manage to hide how fucked up everything feels all the time to me, or the ones I hardly know. I’m afraid to let people in, because I’m afraid to let them down. I’m afraid of what’s going to happen that one time I slip and don’t manage to catch the ledge before I plunge into the depths below.

I am afraid, and I’m alone. And I feel like I should be so close to everything being okay, but I literally can’t see the safe harbor I need even if it’s just right there within reach for me to grab.

Categories
Non-Fiction

Smart

I hate being called smart. Not because I believe it’s false, not out any sort of modesty, but because of what usually follows. Because usually when someone is saying I’m smart, or observing just how smart I am, it’s usually followed by one of two things — how I’m squandering my potential, or their jealousy because they want to feel smarter than me.

I was the gifted child. The one who read above her grade level, who took to things easily, who could come up with the clever ideas. I was the one the straight A students wanted in their lab group in high school, but didn’t have the time of the day for me outside of class. But my grades were always on the brink of failing or only just passing. I didn’t want to pay attention in class, I didn’t bother to study for tests. Why wasn’t I trying?

In elementary school, I was singled out for a special class. I was told it was an advanced class, and it meant I got to leave my regular class and go to another class room for specialized lessons with a few other students. That didn’t last long, and no one ever told me why at the time. Years later, my mother commented on it, implying she felt it would have been a hindrance to me—that it was for students with special needs—so she’d fought it tooth and nail with the school administration. I still wonder what might have happened if I’d been allowed to continue with those lessons.

Homework was always a fight — more often than not it felt like busy work and I couldn’t find anything helpful about it. So I just didn’t do it. Well into high school, I didn’t bother to study and did well enough on tests without the need to. And when I finally started to hit subjects that didn’t come easily to me? I had never learned how to study, because no one bothered to ask why I wasn’t doing my homework, they’d just get angry. At home it was always “get your homework done or you can’t…” and I’d just spend all night staring at homework and hiding in my room. At school, teachers would talk to me bewildered that I was getting such good scores on tests, contributing well to class discussions, but I was constantly just not turning in homework and my grades were always on the brink of failure.

A couple of my teachers were cool about it, a couple of my favorites in fact. My German teacher would let you write in your answers during in class discussion when the homework was due, and you’d at least get partial credit. There’s something to be said about learning through repetition, and writing down the answers was better study than just not doing the homework. And then there was my scifi/fantasy lit teacher. You could literally turn in any assignment as late as the last day of the semester, and he had a sliding scale on how much credit you lost depending on how late it was — the highest you could get was a C for a perfect paper once you reached a certain point. This was a large weight on him, especially since all his tests were essay tests, and he’d have those to grade at the same time as all this late partial credit work.

As I moved into the world beyond school, things only got worse. I attempted classes at the local community college, and when I encountered a lot of frustrations, I threw my hands up and gave up on it. My dad threatened to start charging me rent if I didn’t go back to school, and that backfired on both of us because I said fuck it and started paying him rent when I’m pretty sure his goal had been to get me to engage with college.

I spent years working retail, which was a maddening meat grinder. Managers under pressure to meet utterly unreasonable goals set for the enrichment of the company shareholders, a lot of them highly unqualified to be leading people because the ones who are qualified usually either languish at the lower levels of the pecking order because they can’t ‘yes sir’ well enough, or quickly move onto better paying jobs that are less meat grinder. Those of us who make the mistake of showing any sort of potential, without the follow through to either get the fuck out or claw our way up to management, get taken advantage of. After my first manager, who was an amazing and caring woman, got the fuck out of the store and moved onto better things, I worked for a series of men who were always happy to sing my praise until I pushed back or had a bad day. Then they’d come down on me like the hellfire of a million suns.

Even though you could probably start to pick out the signs of ADHD as far back as elementary school, the difference in how girls are socialized and how it manifests, meant that even I hadn’t been aware something was different about me. I just thought I was being stubborn and lazy, because that’s what the parents and later authority figures told me. Retail is such a high stress environment, especially the further and further we work our way towards this pending collapse of capitalism, I just assumed that I wasn’t cut out for the work. Even when I actually knew my shit, I was good at what I did, but I couldn’t measure up.

My first job was at Radio Shack, and I lost count of the number of times I had customers talk down to me when they didn’t know what the fuck they were talking about, turn to coworkers who knew less than me, and then had to watch as said coworker had to turn to me to ask me to answer the question. But I was a bad employee because my dollar per ticket wasn’t high enough, I didn’t sell enough of the bullshit extended warranties (they weren’t worth it on anything other than headphones, tbh), I didn’t attach enough accessories when I sold cell phones… never mind that half my shift would be spent supporting my coworkers when the customers would go to them instead of me because my boobs apparently meant I couldn’t know about computers and patch cables and batteries and shit. Then when I moved to OfficeMax, my background in all that shit helped me be one of the best sales people with the office equipment, but again, I’d end up helping coworkers and my numbers would suffer, or I’d be given special tasks (like setting up the ad every week) but still be held to the same sales expectations as my coworkers who didn’t have to do this shit too.

When I finally got out of retail, it was such a fucking relief, and I thought all my problems would go away. And for a while it felt like they had, because I was still running on the high stress mode that retail had put me into, so I was expending twice the energy I should have to in order to compensate for all the things I could never get right. Eventually though, shit went south with that job too. I would lose focus on shit, fail to remember to do small tasks that should have been easy to remember, having to constantly write shit down or I’d forget. I’d get yelled at when the printers fucked up, even if they were repeating issues that Xerox continued to fail to fix, because I was supposed to be watching every fucking print that came off the machine while running multiple machines at once. Like, seriously? This really became a problem when the machines started getting fast enough that if I loaded enough paper for a job, started it, and turned to another machine, I could have fifty or more double sided color prints that were bad just in the time it took me to set up the second machine to start running and get the first proof off it.

Bonus round was when a coworker was harassing me, I went to the bosses about it, and I got blown off. I was told by one that ‘everyone has their issues’ and he proceeded to compare my leaving the shop silently at the end of the day, instead of saying goodbye, to the coworker’s harassment. The other boss told me that coworker just wanted to be my friend, and got pissed when I called him on that bullshit — because telling a woman that a man harassing her just wants to be her friend, and she should give him a chance is exactly that, sexist shit. I’m still not sure if either of them realized that was the final straw on my relationship with them. If I’d been in the mental state necessary to really effectively job hunt, and if there was a market that actually would pay a woman without a college degree anything resembling a living wage, I would have been long gone from the place by then. But the fucking cherry on top with that shit? They ended up firing the coworker a few months later, over other issues, and after he’d been gone for a while, one of them commented they wish they’d known sooner about coworker’s problems… then was bewildered when I stomped the fuck out of the room without saying a word. Yeah.

They sold off the business and retired a year ago, and the new boss is around my age. So far he seems to be fairly understanding who I am, and how my brain works. So work’s been a better place for me, even as we all have growing pains from his having to learn the ropes and everyone adjusting to the changes. But he and I sat down for my year end review… and he dropped that smart bomb on me — “You’re probably the smartest person here” is what he said to me, then proceeded to point out my failing to live up to my potential. And I voiced my concern over that pattern because of all the shit I laid out in this blog post… but I couldn’t really drop all that in the meeting, so I glossed over it and gave him the tl;dr instead. I’m not sure if he fully understood the depth of my concern. So, we’ll see how this plays out.

All this ranting to say, I really am starting to think I’m ADHD. I read people talk about it, and I go ‘that sounds like me!’ But they also talk about how hard it is to get a diagnosis as both an adult and a woman, and I already have enough issues following through on shit, especially medical shit I know I need to handle. So, I’m like… self medicate with caffeine and use the fuck out of reminders and timers on my phone, and hope for the best. Yay team. >.>

Categories
Non-Fiction

The Castle Tower

As some of you may be aware, I’ve been without a car for like five and a half years now. My last car was totaled in a collision that occurred while I’d been in the middle of trying to get my feet back under myself after multiple rugs were pulled out from under me at once. Honestly don’t really want to go into all the stuff I was dealing with, but the car situation was kind of the final blow to send me curling into a self protective ball that I honestly haven’t really pulled myself out of since.

As is the case in a lot of the US, public transit is basically little more than useless. In the bay area, I sit on the cusp of just between usable and useless since I live and work in one of the suburbs and not in one of the city centers—SF, Oakland, or San Jose—so I’m lucky when there’s a bus within reasonable walking distance of both home and where I’m trying to go, and if it’s even as frequent as once a half hour. I know there are places worse off than this, but this is still just enough of a hindrance that I end up just staying home most of the time.

The last place I lived, I was supposed to have use of the kitchen, but honestly that became a death by a thousand small cuts, and it didn’t take long for me to just give up on fighting it. I ate out for nearly every meal for most of the time I lived there, and sometimes that was the only time I’d leave the house on a given day if I didn’t have work. Playing ingress helped for a while, as going out and capturing/maintaining the portals in the area near my house gave me a reason to vary my route to and from food, or spend a little more time before I went home in the evenings after work during DST (as it would be dark before I’d get off the bus during standard time). In time, I gave up on that too after just a few too many issues with the community making me feel unwelcome — a couple incidents with abusive players in both factions, people mansplaining how I should play the game, and the inaccessibility of the community events for someone who didn’t have a car.

After getting notice I needed to move from my last place, and a lot of stress surrounding the move, I’ve landed in a place that’s much closer to work, and allows me to carpool with a coworker. Also, I can actually use the kitchen and the shared use of that space is functional enough that I don’t feel pushed out of it. It’s also located near enough I can walk to the game store I used to spend a lot of time in — particularly it was one of the things that helped me cope with all the shit I was dealing with before my car was totaled. Even though I’ve been living in this place for six months, yesterday was the first time I’d actually made it to the game store since I moved.

Part of me had hoped that I’d run into some of the people I used to hang with while I was there, but I didn’t recognize any of the employees, and the two people I encountered I’d known previously I only had fleeting interactions with. I should reach out directly to some of the people I used to hang out with, see if any of them are still hanging in the store and try to coordinate meeting up with them if possible. I did end up buying myself one of those dice trays that you can flatten for storage. I also eyed the GM set for Star Trek Adventures entirely because it comes with a map of the Alpha and Beta quadrant, which would be super helpful for plotting for my Trek RP. (Shameless plug — USS Joshua Norton. Not currently open for new players due to the plot we’re running, but we love lurkers and welcome you to read along. Lurking on our Discord means you’ll be first to know when apps open again too!) I should do a little research into how much the map agrees with hard canon, to see if it’s worth buying.

I did make note of when their painting night is, and I still have projects I was painting before I stopped being able to go regularly that I would like to pick up again. Hopefully I’ll follow through on that. One project I have halfway done is I bought a pair of huge tentacle earrings at Hot Topic that were just black, and decided I wanted to paint them. So they’re sitting with the first layer of paint on top of the primer. I would really like to finish them and be able to wear them. I also have a copy of Mansions of Madness that has a shit ton of miniatures that I could paint. I wasn’t particularly enthused by the game, it was a gift from a friend for Christmas one year, but my ex had loved it. When we broke up, he bought himself a copy and I was hella annoyed because if he’d just talked to me I would have given him my copy and asked him to buy me something of similar value to replace it. Alas.

Anyway. All that to say, I’ve been hiding a lot lately and while I’ve been frustrated, I’ve worked myself into such a rut it feels nearly impossible to get myself out of it. I hope that yesterday’s visit to the game store is an indicator that I’m starting to make progress, and I have set up a journal I bought from Red Bubble a while back for bullet journal after a friend talked that system up earlier this month. Hopefully I’ll find it useful. I already use my phone for a lot of reminders, both with alarms in my alarm app and longer term stuff in my calendar, but given that my fiction writing feels better when I start it hand written, I’m hoping that a flexible handwritten process to track my day to day stuff might help me calibrate in a useful way.

Also—I hope I’m not jinxing this by writing it out—I might actually have enough saved up to able to get a car again. I’ve been desperately saving for a while with the occasional dip into the fund for sanity saving or necessary purchases. I thought I might have been close to doing it just before I’d gotten notice I needed to move from the last place — that panic and need to spend money to facilitate the move, put the car on the back burner again. Just my vague awareness of my current situation makes me think I can make the plunge, but I need to take the time to do a hard review. But fingers crossed, I’d really like to get into a Honda Fit again.