Phil lashes out when I ask too many questions

ME:  Why do I see you with such a baby face?  I know you looked different when you died.
PHIL:  Why do you look so much like Johnny Cash in a wig?
ME:  Dude!
PHIL:  And I don’t mean in his prime.  “Hurt”-era Cash.
ME:  Oh, come on.
PHIL:  Check the mirror.

ME:  Shit.  I totally see it.
PHIL:  You will never un-see it.
ME:  This is the worst day of my life.


Reluctant Financial Responsibility

Financially, I’d say Tim and I are just okay.  We’ll never be wealthy, but hopefully we’ll never be poor.  Maybe we went a little nuts with the credit cards and student loans when we were teenagers.  In our very early twenties, I discovered Dave Ramsey.  How pompous that guy is – it all but killed me to admit that he was right.  We followed his debt snowball for a while and quit carrying balances on credit cards.  We still have the student loans, and we will for a while, but we pay extra on them.  We pay extra to our mortgage every month. We have retirement accounts and a fully stocked emergency fund.  Our jobs are relatively stable.  We don’t spend much.  We’re okay.

But as our emergency fund grows up and over the six/seven months of expenses we aim to keep in there, I get a little antsy.  I want to spend that extra money.  Our house is still furnished with the cheapest possible Craigslist crap we bought when we moved in three years ago.  I know exactly what I want.  White dining table, dark wood chairs.  Oh yeah.  The cost?  $2000.

TIM:  Absolutely not.
ME:  Why?  We need it!  I’m so sick of looking at our gross, peeling laminate Craigslist dining set.
TIM:  We need it?
ME:  FINE.  I want it.
TIM:  You really want to spend our money on meaningless things?  We could take a really nice vacation with two grand.  Any beach you want.  Where do you want to go?
ME:  I don’t even like leaving the house.  I don’t want to travel.
TIM:  Well, I don’t want new furniture.
ME:  *sigh*
TIM:  We could always contribute more to the Roth IRA’s.
ME:  Has it really come to that?

So, instead of the new furniture I want, I buy a different dining table from Craigslist for $25.  I paint it white for $30.  Instead of the vacation Tim wants, we spend a day having a picnic at the local lake, then we see a movie.   Our IRA’s profit.

I should be happy, but instead I’m jealous of myself in 39 years – my 65 year old, retired self.  That ancient bitch.  She’s probably spending MY money on blood pressure medication and  high-waisted pants as we speak.

I have to hope spending money isn’t like sex in high school – I didn’t do it, and now I kind of wish I had.  After all, what if I die young?  All that working, saving money for my old age, and I have a heart attack and drop dead at 50 or something.  What a drag that would be.

Then, as usual, Phil Ochs chimes in with his unwanted perspective:

PHIL:  If your big life regrets are “didn’t have sex in high school” and “didn’t buy some furniture you wanted”, you really need to stop complaining.

Fine, Phil.  Que sera, sera.

To 65 year old Wendy:  Go ahead, buy the brand name high-fiber cereal of your choice.  You can pick up some cloying old-lady potpourri, too.  It’s on me.

The ghost of Phil Ochs

Phil Ochs was a singer/songwriter in the 60’s and 70’s.  He wrote many wonderful protest songs and a few absolutely fucking heartbreaking personal songs.  He killed himself in 1976.  He was in his mid-thirties.  That was ten years before I was born.

He follows me now; my own personal ghost.  Constantly judging me.  Reminding me to be brave.  I think he’s trying to temper my innate cowardice with something stronger.

It can be a fuckin’ drag, to be honest.  I mean, dude’s dead, right?  I’m a little old for an imaginary friend.  But there he is, trying to guide me through my issues – big and small – like Jiminy fucking Cricket.

A few years ago I picked up a copy of Twilight in a thrift store.  I didn’t know what it was.  I read it over two nights, and when I put it down, I had this conversation with Phil’s ghost:

ME:  I should stop.  I shouldn’t buy the sequels to this terrible book.
PHIL:  Good choice.  Do not buy the sequels.
ME:  I’m going to go out and buy the sequels.
PHIL:  No!  Nothing good will come of this.  Why would you do this to yourself?  Do the right thing.

I bought the sequels.  I spent five nights shame-reading the next two novels.  On the fifth night I emerged from my bedroom, glassy eyed and nauseous, wondering how much I’d have to drink to scrub Ms. Meyer’s words from my brain.

ME:  It got so much worse.  A grown man fell in love with a toddler.  The main character basically went into a coma for months because her boyfriend dumped her.  A GROWN MAN FELL IN LOVE WITH A TODDLER.  THEY LET HIM BABYSIT HER.
PHIL:  I told you to stop.
ME:  I hate myself.
PHIL:  You should.
ME:  My life is now a death to me.
PHIL:  Don’t.

Maybe he’s not my conscience, just my mind trolling itself.

At dinner with my grandparents:

GRANDFATHER:  THEY should be more grateful to the WHITES who FREED them from slavery.
ME:  *nods*
PHIL:  Did you seriously just nod at that?  Why aren’t you saying something?  Say something.  You have to say something.  This is the time to say something.
ME:  *cowardly silence*
PHIL:  You suck.  Why did you let so much time pass?  Now you have to wait until he says another horrible thing.

Literally ten seconds later…

PHIL:  Say something.  Say something or I’ll leave you forever and haunt someone else.
ME:  *quietly*  Surely you can’t hate him just because his middle name is –
GRANDFATHER:  He’s a Muslim socialist.  SOCIALIST.
ME:  *nods*
PHIL:  You are the worst kind of hypocrite.

And I have no defense.   I routinely bag on Obama for not being liberal enough, but I can’t say a damn thing to my own grandfather when he’s being ridiculous.  Or ridiculously racist.  Love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal, right?  Maybe this is why I still need Phil.  Sorry, pal.  I truly wish you had a better chick to haunt.  Even more do I wish that you were still alive.

Depression & Other Words

My husband once called me “a whirlwind of social awkwardness, daddy issues, and bouts of severe depression.”

He’s right, and I spend a lot of time thinking about myself.  I try to figure out my brain, I fill journals and paint pictures, analyze my movements, trying to figure out the way my brain works.

The depression always comes along the same way, sooner or later.  Nothing really stops it.

STEP ONE:  Insomnia.  Sleep eludes me.  I can manage a couple hours a night before my brain snaps awake.  If I try to lull myself back to sleep, my brain punishes me by incessantly thinking about past embarrassments, any small humiliation from childhood that still makes me blush.

BRAIN:  You threw up in front of everyone in first grade.
BRAIN: You watched American Pie with your grandfather.
BRAIN:  Remember when you walked in on your parents having sex?  Naked on the floor?

STEP TWO:  I stop caring about personal hygiene   Showering and brushing my teeth go from “everyday” activities to “as needed” activities.  Leg shaving and eyebrow plucking stop altogether.  Makeup, the hair dryer, perfume, all sit untouched.

STEP THREE:  I stop doing things.  I manage work, but that’s it. I don’t leave the house otherwise, and I don’t change out of my pajamas for reasons not work-related.  I spend my time in bed, staring at the ceiling and listening to sad bastard music.  I cover the windows so I don’t have to deal with sunlight.  Sometimes this is where my husband notices, and he tries to drag me outside.

TIM:  Wanna go to the movies?
ME:  No, I’m busy listening to this mixed CD of Death Cab and Bright Eyes songs I burned when I was sixteen.  This is what I do now.

STEP FOUR:  Vodka and sleeping pills become an acceptable substitute for dinner.

STEP FIVE:  Coma.  At least, as close to a coma as one can get while still making a living.

And here I am.  But today, I had a new thought:  that all this is unnecessary.  It just smacked me in the face, so obvious that I can’t believe I never realized it before.  I don’t have to walk around in a coma if I don’t want to.  I don’t have to self-medicate.  I don’t have to be miserable, I don’t have to be happy.  I don’t have to be anything, because I am nothing.  I am nothing.  I have nothing to say.  Nothing I do really means anything.  And it’s liberating.  The death I see at work.  My love for my husband.  Myself.  It’s all nothing.

The nothingness will help me.  I am the nothingness.

So, like everyone else with nothing to say, I decided to start a blog.

I do read blogs.  Maybe I’ll start commenting on other blogs.  Here goes nothing.