living out loud

tiny trails of trash.

you know what’s really fascinating me about this? I often photograph myself…and i am. i am often afraid of losing me, amidst everything other people want me to be.

It’s Friday. I’ve had a week. I’m eating peanuts and drinking a beer (not at a bar…just my messy, gross apartment). Miss M is still in after school daycare; I am leaving her there to write this, until 6 PM. I am going to drink my beer, and eat my peanuts. Me Time. And I do not apologize. I do NOT. This morning the alarm didn’t go off and I walked around feeling like a dirty mess (yet again). However, I’m working out (not today) (not yesterday either) (and FYI it’s really more what I’d call walking HARD working out) and really focusing on what I put in my body. I am in a very IDGAF space with certain people in my life (okay fine, just one person…bullies are absolutely fascinating, FASCINATING, specimens to study – more on that further down). Baruch HaBa. I’m (still) about to arrive.

Over Spring Break (in 6 more days, hallelujah), I plan to pull my crap together even more. Key word: PLAN. This will be easier starting Monday when Miss M goes to her dad’s aaalll the way through the end of next weekend (and please know how thrilling this is as it NEVER happens….I never get a weekend alone – what shall I do? who shall I see? I like having options but not BEING an option). I love my girl but I must admit this is easier to do when she’s not around – she’s not the problem, I am. I just get mentally distracted and find excuses not to do stuff when she’s with me. Oh, and! Everybody, for real: she leaves trails of trash behind her. Tiny little trash trails. I really think that’s why I give up in this tiny little place we’ve lived in for going on two years. The tiny little trails of trash. She’s helpful when she wants to be, and when she helps, oh Internet, she’s absolutely quite amazing, breathtaking even – like occasionally she’ll just do something without even being asked, or just something to be thoughtful. One day she just went and fixed one of our ceiling light pulleys that had come off all by herself – figured it out and did it. On Wednesday, she toasted blueberry waffles for me (and sternly lectured me about saying THANK YOU when someone does something nice for you without being asked; which I find so fascinating…Double Standard is her middle name). No matter, I always make a big deal about these moments because yay YOU! And also: maybe I’m not a complete muck up as a mom. But otherwise? Tiny little trash trails.

At any rate, next week, I’m going to pull my household together AND add weight lifting to my workout routine. And I’m going to get a pedicure/manicure AND a Brazilian wax (TMI?). Why a Brazilian wax? Because I FEEL like it. A girl don’t need to explain all her Whys to you. (Okay fine, I just want to be smooth again. I haven’t been smooth in about a year.)

I also made a decision to do something that’s bringing me some peace in an area that’s been bothering me a long while. I don’t know if it’ll bring anyone else peace, but I can’t worry about that right now. You do you, I’ll do me. Don’t worry about my Whys and Why Nots…just take care of yourself. If I feel the need to explain it to you, I will. (But if you come to me and go: hey, Amy, wtf?? I’ll always explain it to you. I don’t believe in keeping people in the dark when they ask direct questions.) (Unless you’re my credit card company.) (That’s a joke…mostly.)

kinda my plan.

One other thing that I’ve been struggling with these days is backbone. I’m frustrated. I want to build a backbone. I want to have firm, sure boundaries. If I ever run into bullies, I do NOT want to be scared or intimidated anymore; I want to stick up for myself. To do this with bullies, you have to punch back, which I hate, but it’s literally the only language bullies respect and understand. Bullies view tears as weakness Bullies view sweetness and kindness as opportunities for hurt. No. More. And I just want to stand up for things that are right for ME, even if it means I have to say “NO,” or be quite firm or even angry with people I love most.

But here’s what usually happens when I stick up for myself: if it’s to someone everybody on planet Earth is in agreement about being a very large asswipe, people usually say something like, “Good for you!” or “I was HOPING you’d finally do that!” But if it’s to people I love, because maybe they’re being an asswipe that day, or they’re being kind of selfish, or whatever…those people then go: “But not like that.”

Which I always translate as: “But not that intensely with me” or just “Build a backbone Amy, but not with me.”

A sweet British boy I’m friendly with online told me several weeks ago he imagines having a backbone means not caring whether anyone thinks it’s too hard or not. Which are wise words, but I will tell you: I’m just not there yet. Because I still care. I care about people’s feelings, and I don’t want to become too hard. I don’t like being the source of pain, I don’t like making people cry, or letting people down. I get stuck in my own head a lot, but if you yank me or smack me hard, I do remember my heart and how important it is to take care of others’.

So, like, I don’t think you need to be a bitch to have a backbone, I just don’t.  I am convinced I can find a nice balance between being sweet and being a bitch. I don’t like bitches, I just don’t. I don’t like women who are rude or mean to pizza delivery guys or snippy with waiters or eye roll-y with their significant others. When I had to get eye roll-y with C, I always did that in the privacy of a bathroom or the car or somewhere. It doesn’t feel natural to me to punch back.

Maybe I just need to be different with different people, I dunno. I just know I still care, particularly with people I love, who matter to me. Backbone building is hard. Codependent people pleasing is safer. I’m somewhere in the middle right now.

Because basically what I’m doing right now in my life feels very Slog, Scootch, Bog. Slog, Schootch, Bog is an Anne Lamott concept. She once wrote about her son’s desire to not sleep with her anymore. He started sleeping on the floor of her bedroom…then moved to the doorway…then to the hallway…then to his bedroom door…until finally he was in his own bed. But it took forever, because sometimes he’d lose faith or give up, and he’d crawl back in bed with her. Or he’d be 10 feet down the hall, but have a bad night and be back in the doorway. Eventually, he slogged and scootched and bogged enough that he made it to his goal. But it was slow going, with a lot of setbacks. This is how I feel, almost every day. Some days I’m the storm, other days the umbrella, and some days I’m a piece of poo being flushed down into the sewer system, out to the sea. It’s a process. All of it. Everything. Every little thing.

So tiny baby steps. Do what brings me peace, even if it looks weird or unreasonable to others. Focus on one or two things at a time. Keep the bathroom clean. Put away the dishes. Put the laundry away. Clean my car out. Walk hard a lot. Listen to powerful, inspiring music. Leave M in after school care 2 extra hours. Drink a beer. Get a Brazilian bikini wax. Put on tons of make up and dance around in my underwear to music as loud as I can get it and hope those dipwads who stomp around in cement flip flops until 11 PM every night get annoyed.

That kind of thing. Leave tiny little trails of trash. But MY trash.