types of rest

 Saw this on Twitter the other day and #6 stopped me short.


I didn't realize until I saw it exactly why I've been feeling so burned out. Yes, I usually do lose at least half a day to work. But for the most part, I do have time to recharge, stillness, solitude, alone time, and a very safe space. I get plenty of art in the form of music and my own writing. But it's been months since I had a real break in responsibility. And that is exactly why I'm so exhausted. I remember clearly how incredible it was during the short time I was in a support role in the company, at the beginning of the year, before I took over the new store. It was like walking on air, it was so easy. I just had to show up, do good, and go home.

Now I can never fully shut off. Managing a restaurant is like having an unstable child that could get sick or hurt or throw a tantrum at any minute, regardless of where in the world you are or what you're doing. And I have two lol. It doesn't help that I have a new chef who's very keen to make sure I am in the know about every little thing happening in my absence. I much prefer communication to things going wrong and my not being able to address them -- but we both need to work together to find a balance and boundaries, for our sanity. I'm currently trying to lead by example and not even send her a single email or text message on her days off so she has at least a little bit of #6.

Anyway, I shared this with a couple of friends who also found it eye opening, so. 

one oh one

Last post I dropped a big tease, which is that I have a bunch of things programmed on my countdown app to look forward to. The thought of these things is keeping me sane and steady at a time that is really rather challenging, not gonna lie. 

At the time of writing this post, those things will happen in 2, 6, 10, 28, 94, 101, 111, and 418 days. So here's one, in all its ridiculous glory. Here's what's happening in 101 days:


I know. You all thought I'd have outgrown this shit by now. WELL I HAVE NOT. I have not. 

For what it's worth, I no longer scoot to just any festival. There really have to be at least a few solid draws for me. And for me, this lineup is absolutely stacked. I don't imagine many of you know many of the artists, but holy shit. So much stellar progressive trance on here. Genix. Grum. Jaytech. Andrew Motherfucking Bayer. An entire Dreamstate stage. And when I went through and checked out the names I didn't know, I discovered Layton Giordani. who I am now obsessed with. 

Me being me, the thought of getting absolutely stupid and dancing to this sound all night, just filthy with sweat under the summer moon in San Bernardino and celebrating, among other things, Normal Fucking Life and the fact that by then I will have paid off ALL my debt (!!) is EXACTLY what I need to hold onto right now. Now put on your techno pants and go straight to System Majority

 

 RIGHT???!!! Can't stop won't stop yet.

mission aborted

Had a doozy of a doctor's appointment today, hoo boy. I am fine. There is nothing (new) wrong with me. But the visit was kind of a perfect storm of weirdness and bad vibes and bad timing, and I ended up bouncing out dramatically before it was even finished. Total scene. So now I have to go back next week, like I'm taking some kind of make up test. (Which is exactly what I am doing: taking a make up blood test. I would rather retake my English 406 Advanced Grammar final with that sadist Professor Ripley...but alas.)

First I miss my bus because LA Transit likes to sometimes move stops around temporarily, like it is a fun video game to see how many attention-paying riders they can catch, like Pokemon. Well, they didn't catch me! Because I do not at first notice the wee mini poster they taped up to the poll announcing the stop closure in 5pt font. Cool, no problem, love waiting around an extra 15 minutes in the blazing sun. 

Finally get to Beverly Hills where my (female) doc's office is and the coterie of staff checking me in (one to take my temp, one to check my insurance card, one to admit me, one to walk me back to the examination room) are all OVER IT, clearly, and the word of the day - one I don't think I've heard used since my dearly departed mother used it to describe the rich Scottsdale girlfriends of mine she didn't like - is "clippy." Clipped, short tones errywhere I turn. Not so welcoming! But cool, no problem. Essential workers are way more over COVID than anyone, for sure. 

Then the admitting nurse asks if I'm okay with my doctor bringing in a resident during the exam, for training purposes. Uh, okay sure, why not, says I, pro-science, pro-education. So doc comes in with this super young dude and I'm really only barely thrown by the duh, dumbass fact that it's a guy, because I will Take One For The Team of modern medicine, yes! Only, then my doc dips completely out and I realize that Resident, Jr. is going to do the examination alone. Not a problem, except this guy is super solicitous and my doctor is hella awesome and holistic and always makes it a point to probe a little into her patients' personal lives, psychological well-being, and physical fitness. 

All good things! But the thing is, none of those things are going super hot for me right now! I'm burned the motherfuck out at work, all my best friends blew town last year and I haven't had time or opportunity to really make new connections, I work too much to work out, and am generally pretty depressed and dispirited, despite knowing better times are ahead.

Do you know where this is going? Of course you do. I pretty much lose it on poor Doogie Howser who, alarmed but doing his damndest to conceal it, wraps up this interview post haste and leaves to go give his report to my doc. Meanwhile I sit there berating myself, feeling absolutely pathetic for my lack of emotional control. Good times. 

Doc comes back in, further embarrasses all of us by attempting to console me about the Very Difficult Year everyone has had, and then it's time for the physical exam. Great, let's do this. Ears, check. Eyes, check. Lymph nodes, check. Stomach, check. Then: Do you mind if Dr. Babyface stays while I examine your breasts? Fucking ambushed. I mean, so dumb of me to give a shit. So, so dumb. He's a damn doctor. But for some reason, on this day, in this moment, I am just not into it. But what am I going to do? Be a fucking weirdo and say Yes, I do mind, please make him leave? No way. So she pulls the gown off of me and there we are. All five of us. Me, doc, doc jr, and my two exposed tits. What a party. 

It's over in less than a minute and I'm fine, I'm calm and ready for the next parlor trick, which I know will be collecting approximately 3,302,382,293 gallons of my blood for various standard tests. Doc and sidekick leave and a new duo enter: one to take my blood and one to interrogate me suspiciously about the status of my insurance.

Data entry nurse is verifying my birthday for the umpteenth time this visit while blood-collecting nurse is taking an extraordinarily long time gathering vials, needles, stickers, etc, and being VERY conversational about it which I DO NOT LIKE. I do not want to hear the particulars of my blood work, no I do not. I start to get really tense and shift in my seat, and both these women hone in like hawks on my anxiety. 

"Do you get dizzy when you have blood drawn?" 

"Yes."

"Then you'll need to lay down."

"I'm good, thank you. I'd rather sit up."

"Well, now that you've told us you get dizzy, you have to lay down. Cedars Sinai policy."

Excuse me what now. But sure, okay, if this day has shown nothing else it's that I'm a people pleaser to the end, so I lay down on the exam table feeling for all the world like a mental ward inpatient about to be strapped in for 'lectro. I last about five seconds in this position before I sit up and for the first time in an hour, assert my needs and express a boundary.

"Yanno, I'd really feel a lot more comfortable just sitting up. If that's cool?" Questioning looks from both nurses. "Really. I'm good." 

"Okayyyy."

And for real, I was ready to go, I was fine. But then the nurse who was going to take my blood became overly gentle and started crooning at me like I was a child, talking slowly through every tiny step she was taking as she laid out her weapons next to my exposed forearm. Honestly I don't need you to tell me you're "just going to find a nice vein" girlfriend. JUST FIND THE FUCKING VEIN, IT'LL BE YOUR LITTLE SECRET IF IT'S NICE OR NOT.

I couldn't deal. I announced very loudly and clearly that I was sorry, but I could feel a panic attack coming on, and I was going to have to leave and reschedule. (I have had exactly one panic attack in my life, coming off anesthesia when I was 29.)  And to their credit they were super chill and professional and were like Cool, u good, go home. Which is what I did. 

Not my finest hour, in not my finest week, in not the finest time I'm going through. But I have a countdown app crammed full of specific, exciting and happy-making things to look forward to in 2, 6, 10, 28, 94, 101, 111, and 418 days exactly. 

Oh, and I guess I could add 7 to that list, when I head back to Beverly Hills to surrender my blood in, one hopes, a better state of mind. On second thought, I'll leave it off.

the mask thing

I don't think I've ever related to anyone less than the segment of the population who want to keep wearing masks. I cannot fathom wanting to be muzzled like this for a single nanosecond longer than is absolutely necessary. I'm not convinced I'm the same species as people who say, "Meh, doesn't bother me." Or, "I kinda like it." I get it. I understand all the reasons. You haven't caught a cold in over a year. Your allergies don't bother you as much. Your asthma is better. You like the barrier between yourself and your icky fellow human. What the fuck ever it is, I get it. 

But I am over here counting down the days (28) until I can rip this fucking thing off my face, stomp on it, maybe light it on fire, maybe slash it with a paring knife, not sure yet, but just get it off of me. It's more than the physical annoyance. Much more. By now I'm well used to futzing around with a mask, earbuds, sunglasses, and a hat to boot. I mean, I hate it. But I'm used to it.

What I have not gotten used to and would not, I'm sure, in another five years of this shit, is the inhuman feeling of having half my face covered up. My smile. My facial expression. My laugh. The shape of the words I am saying.

Sometimes I think I'm crazy - or at least, very alone in - how utterly depressing and dehumanizing I have found masks since day one. We are all walking around with one of the most essential parts of our bodies hidden from view. We can't smile at one another. We cannot smile at one another. Am I the only person that finds this fucking heartbreaking? Our voices are muffled, we have to repeat ourselves, half the time we don't bother trying. It's like we've had to hit pause on connecting, unless we a) already know one another or b) it's absolutely necessary. 

I feel like a zombie. I feel unseen. I feel disconnected. I hate it so, so, so much. 

I have never once gone maskless. I have played by the rules and I have done so willingly, to protect everyone as well as myself. It was never a question for me, ever. But my god. Here, just a month away from the mandate dropping in California, when I can feel normalcy within reach, I am starting to comprehend how psychologically fucked the mask element of this whole disaster has been. And while maybe I'm just overly sensitive to it, one thing is for sure:

I will never take another human face, in all its imperfections, for granted again.

on luck

I like to think everyone is lucky in a few ways, but that it can take years to identify your particular pockets of luck. You have to pay attention. You have to appreciate the little wins in life. I don't want to think luck is binary - either you have it or you don't. Let's instead believe that at birth we were all dealt a handful of luck fortune cookies. Sometimes the print is faded, or in Chinese. It's part of our life's work to decode and identify our luck.

I'm lucky in small, weird ways and I'm lucky in huge, wonderful ways. I always take note when the luck hits. I try to keep it close to the surface of my memory so that in harder moments, I remember to have faith that it'll come around again. 

I'm lucky in money. A central theme of my life and one that I expect will continue, is the coming and going of a lot of money. That's just how it's always been. I was raised with a decent level of financial security, nothing crazy. But once I was grown up and fending for myself, money started to materialize in my life in sums that really didn't make any sense. I made a fortune dancing. My mom didn't leave much behind when she died but my dad's estate was substantial. The one "real" job I've ever had, this one, has been surprisingly well-paying. Then there was the settlement from the crazy dude in Bel Air I used to work for. And now, apparently, I am part of a class action lawsuit I wasn't even aware was happening, and am going to receive $$$$ when it concludes this summer. I always find money on the ground (a hundred-dollar bill once), and am routinely overpaid in transactions at stores, restaurants, etc. I've had very serious payroll fuckups in my favor. This past summer West Elm sent me two cabinets, instead of one, and never realized it. Then they sent me a $500 gift card in error, with no name assigned, so I was able to use it without issue. 

I'm lucky in transportation. I often catch the bus or the train in the nick of time, and am able to grab my favorite seat. After my second vaccination and I started taking the bus to work, I realized my stop is literally across the street from my building, in a chill, shaded little spot with rarely any other riders waiting. My bus lets me off literally at my restaurant's back door. On the way home, my stop is the only one that comes up after the route's single right-hand turn. So no matter how tired or zoned out I am, feeling the unmistakable 90 degree turn of the bus means I never miss my stop. 

I'm lucky in my living arrangements. Recently I sat down and counted out how many apartments I've lived in since I moved out at age eighteen. Fifteen apartments. And I'm pretty sure that in every single one of them I lucked out in one aspect or another. Some had ideal proximity to some amenity I used a lot, or prime exit access for Chaucer. The apartment I'm in now has to be one of the quietest in the entire building, on the almost top floor and far back corner away from the streets and the sidewalks. It's truly unreal how quiet and peaceful it is, considering I live in DTLA. The stairs are located right outside my door, which has been perfect for avoiding the elevator during COVID.

And finally, most incredibly, I am lucky in friendship. If you know anything about me, you know that my friends are everything to me. But I don't always keep them. They don't always keep me. People move, or change, or just drift apart. But these vacancies have a magical way of always getting filled. I lose someone special to me and then boom, someone new comes into that cleared space. It's not an exact swap, but the energy is often extremely similar. I know this isn't as mystical as it seems. We attract the same kinds of people into our lives again and again by nature of our own character. But this cycle has saved me, emotionally, so many times. It's a source of real joy and celebration, and always makes me feel so lucky. Timing is everything in love and in friendship. And timing is a kind of luck.

There is one more way that I hope my luck holds. My sample size so far is tiny - just one. But if my next dog is even 1/1000th as amazing as Chaucer, I will have no choice but to conclude my perfect luck in finding perfect pups. 

meet Jude

Gonna tell you about a customer, a really lovely soul who's become a buddy of mine, and who performed an incredible kindness for me a few days ago.

Jude is a nursing student who up until classes started up recently, was driving for Uber. He's never come into the restaurant as a courier, though. He's only ever come in to order food, and now, as a regular, to hang out and chat me up.

Jude is a couple years older than me, and more than a few times we've connected over our GenX politics and sense of humor. We don't have a ton of time to talk - I'm working after all - but we're clearly simpatico. If it were 1987, we'd be sitting in the back of the class together, cutting up. He's smart and funny and unfiltered, except when politeness requires otherwise. My whole staff loves him. He makes it a point to learn everyone's names, to use them, to tip well, and to compliment our service, our food, and our vibes. 

For the first few weeks he called me Boss Lady. I'd hear his deep voice easily from the office where I'd be working: "Is Boss Lady here?" I'd come out from the back of the store, point at him, he'd point back. Jude's a big guy with a big presence. He has ADHD, which I have come to realize is a thing that I am inexplicably drawn to. I don't know what it is. I've had a few different people with ADHD tell me that I'm comforting to be around - that I have a calming energy. So maybe it's a yin yang thing? Not sure, but I definitely find people with ADHD to have a kind of light and spirit and quickness I'm really attracted to.

Anyway, he'd summon me from my dungeon of an office and we'd go sit outside while the kitchen was making his food. Just talk for a few minutes about his classes, or about driving, about my work or sometimes other customers. He found out about the issue I was having with a former employee - the one that necessitated a restraining order - and he offered to drive me to the courthouse if I needed a ride. 

When Jude discovered that I had three hours of walking every day to get to and from work, he was horrified. He became obsessed with my shoes. "Vans? You're wearing fucking Vans to walk three hours a day? No. Absolutely not. What size are you?" I laughed him off, but did end up switching to Allbirds a few weeks later. The upgrade did not satisfy Jude. "What the fuck are those?" he pointed at my already filthy cement-grey knit shoes

"They're Allbirds," I protested. "They're made from trees! Super lightweight, so much more comfortable than the Vans, I promise."

Jude was unimpressed. "They look like socks. What's the matter with you? Those are a travesty." He pointed at the thick-soled tennis shoes on his own feet. "These are your next shoes. These are the most comfortable shoes I've ever had. All the nurses wear them."

Eventually he extracted my shoe size from me, saying something about his female roommate's extra pair. "Oh," he said. "No, you're not her size. Oh well." But Jude took that piece of information, squirreled it away until I'd forgotten about it - up until a few nights ago when he came in, ordered some food, stood around while we caught up, and finally pointed at the cabinet where we store all of our to go bags. 

"Give me a bag," he said. I reached for a small kraft handle bag. "No," Jude said, leaning past me to grab our largest paper bag. "Come with me," he commanded.

We walked out to his car in the dark. He was parked in the unlit, weed-filled alley and cracked a joke about murdering me. Then he opened the passenger's side of his car and I saw the shoe box sitting on the seat. I lost it immediately. Cupped my hands to my mouth, turned and walked a few feet in the opposite direction, not saying a word. Didn't stand a chance, just started crying immediately.

"Oh stop it. It's just a pair of shoes. Come on, knock it off."

I turned around and just looked him in the eye silently. Not just a pair of shoes, and he knew it. I made sure my face fully communicated how incredibly moved and grateful I was before I looked back at the box. Electric blue with only the large letters HOKA printed across the side. I'd never heard of the brand. But looking at the box it was clear they were expensive.

"You're standing and walking all day. Those things on your feet make me cry, they're a joke." He gestured at the box on his car seat. "Try them on." 

I opened the box and pulled out a pair of lightweight but sturdy sky blue trainers with blue and pink laces. Obviously high quality, with two inches of cushioning that when I put them on, gave me the two inches of height I always wish I had. They fit perfectly. I took a few steps, marveling at how well molded and supportive they were. I couldn't stop shaking my head. "Jude. Jude." 

"Alright, alright. Relax. You can put them in the bag, so no one sees. Unless you need the bag to go take a shit or something." I put the sneakers back into their bright blue box, then put the box in the deep paper bag. We walked back to the front of my store, where I stood on the curb to gain a bit of height and be closer to eye level with Jude, who caught me up on the nursing school project he was working on. 

"You know," I started, "it's a a really good thing you're going to do that for a living, because your heart is way too big for any other kind of work."

He waved it off, wouldn't meet my eye for more than a second. 

Later, I looked up Hoka shoes. This person who was a stranger to me a couple of months ago spent two bills on me. As a student, on a student's budget. I'm not sure why. Sometimes the universe doesn't explain itself. But now all day every day when I am in the throes of being busy, stressed out, and exhausted, I have a constant reminder of this incredible kindness. I have comfort.

Kicker of an epilogue, too: Jude was my mother's favorite saint, the patron saint of desperate cases and lost causes. He meant so much to her in fact, that eventually when I get around to dropping my first name and officially becoming Elizabeth - Jude is one of two names I've considered changing my middle name to, in honor of her.

Sometimes the universe doesn't explain itself - but still somehow manages to make perfect sense. 

wanted: gently used space bus

Today's been a ride. 

Zoom call this morning, not a big deal that I pretty much always have to put in a full morning's work on my day off, but on top of that I have two stores' worth of inventory to do tomorrow and I'm already pretty burned out. So I'm low key angry and having trouble finding the gratitude as it is. Then I find out some stuff hasn't been handled correctly by employees who know better, and I lose it. I have one of my classic I cannot fucking doing everything, people mini meltdowns that my boss, who I adore and who gets me 100%, talks me through. In a nutshell I have been triangulating management between myself and someone who should be handling certain things while instead I am, and it's a big unnecessary mess.

My boss and I have a chat about delegating, and I confess to him my fear that the more I delegate, the more I am writing myself out of a job. "If you don't know by now that your job will never be in danger then I don't know what to tell you, Ellie. You are our key link in SoCal. Delegating is how you grow. It's how this stuff works."

Got off the phone and suddenly there was more oxygen in my lungs than has been for months. I didn't realize until we had that conversation just how much that angle has been stressing me out. My boss also assured me that he would address the issue of triangulation so that I would have the support I needed and be freed up to do what I need to be doing. I felt tremendously heard, relieved, and appreciated. I truly cannot say enough how grateful I am to work for the people I do. They are so fucking good at this.

Naturally this all exhausts me to the point of needing a nap, because #emotionaldysregulation. Wake up, have a long call with Brent that totally recharges me. Seriously, is there anything better than a rambling talk with a friend who knows all your shit, knows all the challenges you're dealing with, knows your sads and your happys and you can just trade all those for an hour? Best thing ever. 

But now I'm back to feeling a tightness in my chest, because the first day of my weekend is already over, and really I don't have much to show for it. And I know right now it's eyes on the prize, because I'm a mere two weeks out from hitting Goalpost #1 and that's what's important.

But it is not fair that we have only 24 hours in a day. Someone find me a new planet with, say, 40 hour days, moderate cloud cover and 55 degree weather year round. Going to need to be able to get there by space bus, though, as that's all I've currently got the funds for.