The Christmas Party

Today was the Xmas party at work.  My coworker, K, was in charge of it.  She worked her tail off for it and it paid off for her.  It was a great success.

They gave out those folding chairs that people drag to their kids soccer game and sweaters.  All with the company logo, obviously.  My sweater was too small, but one doesn’t mention that for a variety of reasons, not all of them related to my humiliation at being too big.   I can’t be given a gift and then go – Not it’s not my size, is there a different one in that box?  That’s rude.

We had Secret Santa.  I got 2 bottles of alcohol in the MOST ADORABLE FUZZY SANTA BAGS.  There was a little Santa cap on the top of the bottle.  I was enchanted by those bags.  I showed them to everyone.  They were all enchanted.

Isn’t it funny how the small, inexpensive thing is the thing that is such a hit.  For me the alcohol is nice, but those adorable Santa bottle bags were perfect.   They came from the Dollar Tree.  She spent $2 on bags that made me so happy.  And $25 on alcohol that it was nice to get, but did not give me the smiles that those little bags did.

I remember 20 years ago I bought my nephews $5 plastic swords for Xmas.  I didn’t think the gift would amount to much. Their parents and grandparents spent enormous money and huge effort to get the latest hottest thing for them.  But in the end, they LOVED the swords and played with them the entire day and for years after.

I don’t know how I hit on those swords, anymore than my coworker knows how she hit the jackpot on an impulse buy for something that I didn’t ask for but would make the presentation more fun.  Sometimes those inexpensive impulses are the best gift, however much you don’t expect it.



I don’t eat well.  Mostly because the depression’s stillness and odd thinking makes cooking into a monster task that doesn’t get done regularly.

So I resort to frozen meals and sandwiches most of the time.  And I’m not even getting a variety of those.  I eat the same frozen meals over and over and over…

I eat the same 2 sandwiches as well.

None of these items is particularly healthy.

All it would take for me to eat in a healthy way would be for me to prepare food.   I dream about doing a big meal prep once a week and just having that be my go to all week.   And every once in awhile I do that.  But it’s a rare event.

I follow a subreddit called Meal Prep Sunday  and I honestly think that my brain feels like it’s accomplished the goal by subscribing and seeing other people’s meal preps.

I bought a slow cooker in the mistaken belief that this easy no fuss method of cooking would make me cook and I would come home from work to hot food.  I’m pretty sure my brain thinks buying the slowcooker accomplished the goal.  I have only used it once in 3 years.

I think about making excellent tasting food to make me want to eat better.  I watch a TON of cooking videos on youtube.  I have only tried to make one thing from one of those videos.  My brain is capable of deciding that watching someone cook that meal is the same as me cooking the meal.

I know that it sounds like I’m being funny, but your brain does it too.  The human brain is kind of broken in how it evolved us into thinking creatures.  One of the things that broke is that the brain can imagine doing something and it marks the experience as a real.  MRI imaging shows the act of picking up a cup and imagining picking up a cup look EXACTLY the same in our brains.  I think it’s why so many people, myself included, have a hard time accomplishing their goals and dreams.

And I fell off subject again.  Sorry.

So, the problem, as I see it, is to overcome my brains natural tendency to assign something as accomplished when it didn’t happen.  I think depression makes that extra slippery because obviously my conscious brain can see the issue but depression makes me forget about the things that should be accomplished.  It takes that feeling of the task being accomplished and uses it to misdirect my brain away from the doing.   ie – it’s part of depression’s stillness strategy.

This is why I’m a big fan of lists and alarms.  But the same problem often happens with the lists – the stillness will make me ignore / forget / or defer the list.   Or and this is one of the shittiest things – I will get a flood of thoughts about all the various things I should do.  And all of them come with some corresponding reason that they should be the priority.   This creates a barrage that guarantees a stillness in me.  I won’t leave the bed wen the barrage starts.

Again – lists are helpful – but they aren’t as good at setting up the priority thing.  Should I vacuum or cook?  Should I take a walk or draw?  Should I do laundry or shop?  Should I call a friend for socializing or should I go to a park a sketch? Except it’s never even a dichotomy it’s always a bunch of options.  So now I need to prioritize the list.

And more than that, I need to prioritize the reasons for each one, otherwise how do I really know how to prioritize the actions.  Ie – what’s the long term goal?  Is socializing more important than eating well?  Is exercise more important than a clean apartment?  Is being creative more important than socializing?   I DON’T KNOW?!

So I freeze up and don’t make a list of priorities.  And so here we are.  Me eating a shitty frozen meal for breakfast and wishing I would eat well.


I hate knowing what is wrong, how to fix it and yet still being somehow and RIDICULOUSLY defeated by this damn depression.

So – by New Years I will have a set of priorities in place and I will have a plan for the 2019.   I’ve got work to do on this mess of a life I’m leading.





Now that I don’t have so much of it, it’s become less important to me.

Well, that’s not quite how I mean it.  I mean OBVIOUSLY it’s deeply important.  It’s the source of my food, safety and bed.  Also the cat’s food, safety and bed.

What I mean is that I’m no longer so concerned about having more of it than I need for my most immediate needs.  I don’t long for a newer prettier car.  I don’t want a new outfit every week.  I don’t need a fancy vacation.  I don’t even want to live in a nicer place.

So I guess it’s not that money isn’t important it’s that I’m not as concerned about the less important things money can buy.  As a result I don’t feel a lot of pressure to make more and more and more money.

On the other hand, I’m not rich.  I don’t have enough money saved for retirement and at my current income I never will.  I just don’t make enough and there isn’t enough time to make up for the loss of my life’s savings.  This doesn’t bother me too much.

I’ve come to realize that my mental health requires structure which I get from a job.  So.  It’s OK with me if I die while still working.

On the other hand, I am currently working 6 days a week.  The 6th day is overtime and that income is what makes my life more comfortable.  I don’t worry quite as constantly about each thing I buy.  I am not trying to figure out how to make $25 in the bank last for the 5 days until my next check.  I’m not scared of an unexpected charge sending me into the red.   I easily save money.

Those things are a WHOLE LOT MORE COMFORT than a fancy car or big house.  It’s like laying in the middle of a huge bed on top of a down comforter.  It’s warm and soft and good.

But the 6th day of work is starting to wear on me.  For the first year or so that I did it, my Sunday overtime was quiet and filled with side tasks and responsibilities unique to that day.  It felt different to the rest of my week.  I was home by 130pm and it felt like I still had a day off.   It never really felt like I was working 6 days/week.

But in my new job, it’s the opposite.  It’s now my current job, without my coworker’s there to help and my old job wedged into it.  It’s more work, it’s more pressure and it’s hectic.  I stay a lot longer.   It now feels like I work 6.5 days per week.  I don’t want to do it anymore.  And here’s the thing.  I don’t really have to.  I could just say I’m not doing this anymore and they would find someone else to cover the phones on Sunday Morning.

But I’m not excited to give up that money.  It’s the cushy bed that feels so safe and COMFORTABLE.

I’m grunchy a lot of the time at work.  I think it’s because I’m there too much.  I take it all too seriously.

I spent the first several years after homelessness on the verge of financial disaster.  I managed.  I got good at it.  I won’t fall into financial disaster if I stop working on Sunday.  I will just stop feeling like I’m in the middle of that down covered bed.  I will be back on a cot worrying about falling off the edge when I turn over unaware.

Maybe I can compromise and work every other Sunday.  Or just cut the cord.  I’m getting soft living with all this money comfort.  😎 Said the girl who is finally making what she made 20 years ago in an entry level job by working overtime in this one.



Sent Home by HR

A coworker was sent  home by HR.

She struggles with a alot of issues, depression, grief of a recent a loss of her significant other and the loss of her home.   A tree fell on her mobile home a month before her SO died.  You can see the trend of her life.

But before any of this happened she had physical and mental issues that caused her to attempt to get SSI.  But it didn’t work.

She was trying again for SSI when I was hired into the department under the idea that she intended to quit because of the SSI.

And then all of the above happened. And she had no other income.  And then when her SO died it became CRITICAL.  He died about 4 weeks after I was hired to fill the expected space she would create by her quitting.  That didn’t happen because – he died.

I felt like shit.  I went to my boss and said – Listen you can move me back to my old job and keep her .  But here’s the thing.  It’s not that simple.  Shes on drugs.  Prescription mind altering drugs.  At work.  Often.

She falls asleep at her desk when she is on these drug.  It’s not like you can nudge her awake.  I have physically shaken her and not woken her up.   It’s at MINIMUM annoying to us, her coworkers.  At worst it’s threatening her job.

I work at a small company.  The owners know us individually and probably way too much about our messed up lives.  But they are SOOO kind.  That kindness is what got me hired while I was homeless due to severe nonfunctional depression and what kept my job in midst of some of my dark mental moments.  It’s also what keeps my coworker in her job.  But patience and kindness have their limits.  And I am worried the owners have reached theirs.

Today, before I got to work, the new HR director walked in on my drugged coworker SLEEPING in her chair in the middle of the office.  Apparently she wasn’t even at her desk.  Her chair was in the middle of the office and she was snoozing.  The HR position is new.  Part of the effort to step up the level of business our income deserves.  He has no association with her golden past.  All he sees is a person who is so drugged she can’t stay awake.  He sent her home and wrote her up.

I worry about her. If she loses this job – It will be DEVASTATING.  She needs rehab.  But if she loses this job…

I know what it’s like to be so depressed that even the effort to get out bed is gargantuan.  She’s in that place now and she has managed for 3 or 4 weeks to get to work. PLUS she had the drugs issue.  I want her to get the help she needs and deserves but I have no idea how to help her do that

I’m worried that she is going to lose this job.  The job is such a pivotal part of how my life got better that I REALLY DON’T WANT HER TO LOSE IT.  But how do you talk about that to someone you really don’t know that well.  Should I try, even though we hardly know each other?  I am so worried about her.





I work 6 days a week.  Saturday is my only day off.  You would think this would be my day of activities and joy and friends and projects.

It’s not.  It tends to be a black hole of nothing.  It the day my depression induced stillness can get it’s way.  I mostly lay in bed reading, scrolling through various websites and basically doing nothing of value.

I have managed my depression in most of the areas of my life.  But my days off continue to be a problem.   Today I want to just clean the apartment a bit, do a couple of loads of laundry and cook something for meals for the next week.  Even as I write that I know it’s more than I can manage.  Despite the fact that it’s a normal amount of stuff for a person to do.

I really need to choose just one of those tasks as my priority.  Probably Laundry.  It’s the most necessary for the next week’s needs.  I can live in a messy house but I still need clean clothes for work.  And this defines why I’m not really getting farther than the treading water.  I do the barest minimum to make my life work.

I’m really just one of the people in those bleak movies.  Trudging along in greyness.

What is even more necessary than all the tasks I think I should do is to find some joy in this life.  To get more social.  To find creative things that bring me personal satisfaction.  I think a Good Life is about the people and making things.  I’m doing nothing to promote that in my life.

I’m so much better than I was 6 years ago.  But only in that I’m not homeless and penniless and jobless.  I’m working and self sufficient and I don’t feel like my life is out of control.  I’m able to interact with my family better.  But I’m not even close to content or happy.  I’m… grey and blank.




I really don’t like other people’s noise inflicting itself into my life.  At worst it can trigger anxiety in me.  But mostly it just feels like a constant push against my peace of mind.

For example when people blare the radios and I can hear it.  I don’t want to hear your music, commercials and talk radio.   We live in an era where it is utterly unnecessary for me to have to.

Put on a pair of ear pods.  Your experience of the music is better and I don’t have to share it with you.

My neighbor is currently listening to Christmas music while he works on his car.  I’m not thrilled.

Same neighbor who gets picked up at 4:30 am for work.  His ride HONKS THE DAMN HORN to signal his arrival.  So everyone in the neighborhood is woken up.  We live in an age of cell phones.  There is NO GODDAMN REASON to honk.  Text / Call.  The rest of us don’t need to wake up because you have to go to work at that ungodly hour!



Perfect! Get the putty, Honey.

That is a family joke.  It’s what I say when I do a thing and I feel like I Done Did a Thing.  It was a challenging and perhaps annoying task.  And it’s finally done.  Probably not perfectly.

My grandfather renovated their house without any prior experience and as a result there were a lot of obviously not quite right spots. He was known for putting way too many holes into things from not measuring well enough. Thus he would stand back, eye the probably crooked result and say to my Grandma. “Perfect! Get the putty honey.”

When you think about it. “Perfect! Get the putty, Honey.” is a sort of life philosophy.  A.  Just try to do the thing, even if you haven’t done it before.  B.  Don’t chase perfection. Putty and Paint and Pride are excellent substitutes.  C.  Keep trying when it goes wrong.  Just remeasure and drill on.  D.  Find someone to help you who shares your sense of humor.

That house did not have a straight wall or a plumb door anywhere in it.  It was a series of haphazard rooms strung together oddly, with alarmingly low ceilings.  But it was all – every uneven wall, crooked door and head scraping ceiling built with love and the effort of a man who only knew he wanted to build what his wife wanted.    And Grandma, who also had a love of just making a thing look like she imagined it might with bargain paint, was perfectly happy to abet his painfully amateur efforts.

He was not discouraged by his various missteps.  His natural humor was ever present when a shelf was not straight or the wall had a distinct wave in it.  And because Grandma and indeed all of his acquaintance, fell in love with him for his humor, no one had anything but positive to say of his efforts and his funny descriptions thereof.

If either of my grandparents had held up some ideal of perfection as their goal they wouldn’t have had a home.  And probably not a marriage after he began his renovations and add-ons. But both of them took the effort for the deed and loved the result.  After all, a bit of putty and paint will hide a whole lot of craftlessness.

I think it speaks volumes that I know this story from my mother, who used the phrase regularly.  She was his daughter in law.  In fact his STEP daughter in law.  But no one ever thought of him as anything but the dearest of relatives.  He came to visit me in Puerto Rico when I was just a couple of months old, when my grandma was still working and couldn’t come.  He came down “to do the duty”.  But of course he was so welcome and my mom always loved him for it.

He died when I was too young to remember him.  I have regretted that so often.  I have so many stories in my memory.  But I never met him as a remembering person.

I think stories are so important.  The sort of story that surrounds a saying that has infiltrated so deeply into my life that I say it and people stare at me strangely.  He lives in me, without his genes, without having an actual memory of his presence in my life.  He lives. In these kinds of stories.

Stories matter.  Tell them.  Talk about the people who came before.




It’s like goddamn Wild Kingdom in this apartment.

Yesterday I woke up, started my usual half awake bumbling about in the kitchen.  I was doing last night’s dishes when I heard something weird and scratchy in the living room.

I walk out and both cats are fascinated by the radiator.  Tim is pawing under it and Bijou is on top, pawing down.


I go over and it’s A GODDAMN SQUIRREL.

That door to the balcony had been open 5 minutes maximum.  5 minutes.  I imagine it was eating the last tomatoes of the season and Tim ran out and like a moron it ran into the apartment instead of down the side of the building like any reasonable squirrel would have.

This squirrel (or a similarly cheeky one) has been a pain in my ass for 2 years.  And it’s capped the whole show by showing up in my damn living room.

So I opened the door wider and threw 2 very offended cats into the bedroom.  Bijou in particular gave me a good growly talking to on the subject.  Tim had a more dignified acceptance of his fate.

I gave that squirrel 45 minutes to figure his escape out.  I figured if he didn’t, I would get involved – which was probably a bad plan, but HEY.  It’s not like getting bitten by a squirrel scares me.  I’m now IMMUNE to RABIES.  Who knew it would come in handy?

Squirrel 1 : Sara 0

Possibly Sara -1.

I went out to check on Squirrel 45 minutes later.  It was up in the bars of the radiator still.  Apparently 45 minutes of open safe escape route was not sufficient.

So I decided to drag him out.

I got a broom handle and tried to gently push him.  But let me tell you.  Squirrels are VERY strong.  And because I’m very worried about hurting him I wasn’t going to push too hard.  Plus he made adorable growly grumbles.  Which didn’t do him any harm in making me feel more sympathetic to him.

I finally got him nearly to a place I could grab him and he scuttled back into the radiator grid.

I think he was fully prepared to die there.

So I grabbed his tail and pulled, hoping to drag him out by main force. The screams he emitted could be heard 3 streets away.  They were enough to stop that plan – although it honestly seemed like the most likely solution.

I retreated to the bedroom.  The cats were looking at me like I murdered someone.  They no doubt heard the squirrel scream.

Possibly they were offended that I took care of the murder without them.  It’s hard to tell with cats.

I’m not sure what to do at this point.  I have to leave for work at 11:30ish.  I was not keen on leaving the door wide open when I left.  But I wasn’t sure if I had a choice.

Sigh.  I wonder if I should call off due to squirrel crisis.  That would be utterly ridiculous.

I mean, the odds of anything bad happening due to the open door are mostly small – and hopefully once he gets over himself, he will leave.  And hopefully no other vermin will invade in the meantime.

I made a second attempt to make the squirrel leave later in the morning before leaving for work.   I achieved nothing but changing his position in the radiator and getting the broom bitten.

So  when I went to work, I left the balcony door open, and blocked off the rest of the house, kept the cats locked in the bedroom with litter, water, and food.

But it made me anxious.  Not least because I normally get home after dark and we all know that bats are prone to fly into my apartment.

So I left work early at 6pm and got home while it was still light.  The squirrel was gone.  The cats did a thorough check and there is no squirrel.  I was so relieved.

I am considering burning the apartment down if anymore vermin invade.

My co-workers were joking about a raccoon moving in next and honestly I wouldn’t even be surprised at this point if a raccoon showed up.

I love this apartment, but it’s starting to lose it’s loveliness in the light of the constant vermin.



Even though it doesn’t feel like it, it is Fall.  And Fall brings out a nesting instinct in me.

I want to create a cozy space for the winter.

So I spent money.  This is not something I generally like to do.  But Macys was having a great sale!  20% off clearance.

So I bought a bed in a bag and will soon have a new cozy bedroom.  I have an extra check in October.  I intended to spend it on a sofa.  I have a mostly empty living room with nothing to sit on. But I got distracted by the comforters and one thing led to another.  It was a great deal though, so I still have money for the sofa, but possibly not the rug.

Or I may not spend the money.  I find the savings account very cozy too.  I live in fear of two things – have an emergency without the funds to cover it.  And having people judge me for spending money frivolously.  Only one of those is sane.

I have no idea why it bothers me what ANYONE might think of the way I spend money.   Reality is that they don’t even think about it.  But I think I have been self identifying as “poor” for long enough that spending money on unnecessary things feels like I’m a hypocrite.  But, I’m no longer quite so poor.  I have enough money in every check to save a decent chunk.  But I still think of myself as poor.

Perhaps because I grew up without any money concerns.  Which taught me NO money skills.  When I moved out of the house I was poor.  I just didn’t know it.  And was constantly overspending and getting myself into financial trouble.   Even as I made more money I just felt like I could spend more.

It wasn’t until I became homeless that I recognized the dangers of being poor.  That radically changed how I managed money.  Now I’m frugal in my daily life.  It’s amazing how the daily choices we make can save money.  Bringing lunch to work instead of buying lunch.  Bringing pop to work instead of buying pop.  Not buying every whim.  But sadly my biggest savings came because I’m not social.  Having a social life can be expensive.  I stayed at home, I didn’t go to happy hours or movies or dinners.  All of those choices allowed me to live in a very small income but never to save money.

But for a while now I’ve been bringing home more than I spend and have been saving.  And also spending more.  I go out to eat with a friend about once a month.  I have been more willing to buy new clothing.  And now I’m thinking of dipping into the savings to buy major things.  And the thing that sticks most on that is what other people will think.

Intellectually I know that the savings serves a function and I should preserve this check for the unexpected.  But emotionally I’m worried about what the neighbors will think if I have a sofa delivered.  They are all financially strapped.  It also feels like I don’t belong here anymore if I can afford to buy a sofa?  It’s a weird and entirely irrational feeling.

This off projected shame is ridiculous.  I’m not going spend based on what other people think.  I earned this money, it’s mine and having a living room I can use is not frivolous, it’s just life.




The Bat and Rabies Saga

So.  Saturday before last I woke up to a bat in my kitchen.  Just hanging on the wall, sleeping.  img_20180908_115122550After I screamed like an idiot, I retreated to my bedroom to consider my position and to wish heartily and deeply that the damn bat would just disappear.

It didn’t.  So after a bit of googling and asking tumblr for advice, I decided I would block off the kitchen with a sheet over the doorway and open the window.  The bat would then go out the window and all my problems would be gone.

So I set up by bat escape plan and made lots of noise doing it and the bat never moved.  The cats and I spent the day locked in the bedroom and I checked on the bat periodically and it continue to not move.  Eventually it got dark and I went in to check on it and it was gone.  HOWEVER,  the sheet had fallen partially down.  So, there was no way to be sure it left.  I checked all over the apartment, but couldn’t find him.  And finally decided, it  left.  I mean there was an escape into nature right there.  Why would it head into the apartment instead?

It was at this point that my brain began to connect some dots.  When I woke up Saturday Morning, the kitten had two tiny scratches of  blood on his nose.  I had blamed her Calico Highness and gave her a stern lecture on being gentle with delicate kittens.  But.  Then I realized that while I was asleep that bat was flying about the house and a bratty grey kitten had seen it and thought it was a magnificent play thing.  And been bitten for his trouble.

I had then taken the kitten into the bedroom to wait out the bat escape plan.  And as kittens are wont to do, it played with me.  And scratched and bit me.  Not so unusual.  Nothing I would even have given a second thought.  But. It turns out that in this area bats are the most likely carriers of rabies.  How nice.

Now the kitten had an updated vaccine, but I didn’t know if that was only to keep it safe but would it stop the virus from just jumping over to me?  Sigh.  I should have caught the bat instead of setting up it’s escape.

So I spent Sunday in an ever increasing level of anxiety over my potential death by rabies.  And because it was Sunday, I couldn’t call the doctor or the vet or the public health officials.

But then Sunday Night, there was a crash and I open the bedroom door – Bat is flying around the damn apartment.  I ran to open the window – my first instinct was to rid my life of the bat.  But then I remembered – I’m supposed to catch the bat.  So I instead I caught the bat.  It landed on the ground and I just put a tupperware on it and slid a place mat under it.  And I caught a bat.

I took him the to SPCA on Monday Morning, and left a message for the doctor and the vet.  The SPCA was not very informative about how I would find out if the bat had rabies.  “I don’t know what happens to them after we ship them out.”  Great.

The vet told me the kitten would be fine.  The doctor told me I had to get a rabies shot.  And that the only place to get a rabies shot is at the ER.  So I had to leave work and go the ER.  That was 6 hours of unenjoyable life.  Most of it just waiting.

If you are interested in how rabies vaccine works, let me tell you.  First they give immunoglobulin, in and around the place you were bitten.  In my case that was many places on my forearm.  So they had two large syringes and two nurses and both of them gave me dozens and dozens of injections in my arm.  I was bleeding from them.  Then they sent in another nurse who gave me 4 more injections.  One in each shoulder and one in each hip.

AND THEN.  There are 3 follow up shots, I had the 2nd one today.  But having said all of that, it’s actually not as bad as it sounds.  It really wasn’t overly painful.  Even the ones in my forearm.  The ER was mostly annoying for the long wait.  The follow ups happen in a pharmacology clinic and the parking is more annoying than the shot.  And all the people have been super nice and kind.

And what is most annoying is that the chances that I could have gotten rabies are so very tiny.  But if you get rabies and don’t get the vaccine before the symptoms – 100% death rate.  And to be honest, getting the vaccines curbed a rampaging anxiety that was consuming me over that weekend.  Particularly since no matter how many different people at the hospital I told this unlikely story to, all of them were – Yeah you need to get the vaccine.

Oh, also my cat got quarantined by Cincinnati Public Heath Dept.  keep-out-quarantine-caution-sign-s-6379 It sounds worse than it is.  He’s just not allowed out and no one is allowed in.  And since that is the normal situation here, it’s not really a thing.  Tomorrow an official from the Public Heath Department is visiting me to see if my cat is still alive.  If he is, I guess they release him from quarantine.  And nothing will change.

So.   By next Monday I will be fully immune to Rabies.  So that’s nice.

I’m not fond of bats.