Nearly impossible

The Microsoft Office suite of products offers a fantastic functionality that I sometimes wish applied to life: Undo. Undo your last action. Just pretend it never happened. Easier said than done, in most cases. It’s easy, in the context of typing or formatting, to just cancel your last action. In life, however, there always seem to be consequences to actions that include trying to undo prior actions.

The final episode of Orange is the New Black’s 4th Season is entitled “Toast Can’t Never Be Bread Again”; it’s poetic, and aptly named given what happens in the episode – no spoilers here, though. That saying illustrates that some things, once done, can’t ever be undone. Once the physical change occurs to bread to make it toast, the burning, there is no going back. Mistake or not, it has been done. It has been written. When I think about interactions with people in life, it’s nearly impossible to leave people the way you found them. We almost always leave an impression, make a difference (for better or for worse) in someone’s life. There is always an impact. And if there isn’t, you’re doing it wrong.

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A butterfly can’t ever go back to being a caterpillar. Toothpaste is nearly impossible to get back into the tube, once squeezed out (believe me, as a kid, I tried.) Or in one of the greatest Lady Gaga/Beyoncé music videos, “Trust is like a mirror – you can fix it if it’s broken, but you can still see the crack in that motherfucker’s reflection.” Change happens. Once you crumple a piece of paper, even if you smooth it out, you can still see the wrinkles. Some things just can’t be 100% undone.

I wrote a previous blog post on mulligans, or do overs, in real life. In life, rarely does anyone get out without desperately wishing some things would have happened differently. There are mistakes you can make up for, but there are some things, no matter how desperately you wish for it, will never change. Maybe you lied; maybe you caused an accident; maybe there was some course of action you set in motion you wish you could take back.

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Humans are the only animals who punish themselves multiple times for an act of transgression. It just keeps circling and coming back for some people, or they never let themselves forget it.

I look back over the last 6 months, as that’s how long I’ve lived in Seattle now, as of August 12, 2016. I turned 35 this month. There are some things that happened I wish I could change. I try not to live with regrets, but some are unavoidable. I do not regret my decision to move here, change jobs, or buy a condo.

It would be nearly impossible to get me to move back to San Francisco. It would be even more impossibler (I’m making it a word; get over it) to get me to move back to Sydney. I’m toast now, and I’ll never be bread again. People in my life have had profound impacts on me – some positively, some not so positive.

Sometimes toast doesn’t want to be bread again. Presumably, being toast is infinitely better than being the bread you used to be. For me, I’m proud of the woman I am today, because I went through one hell of a time becoming her. I may not be perfect toast, but I’m alright.

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So, I propose a toast to the last 6 months changing me for the better, and for the months to come, hoping I continue to grow into something else. No going back, only finding the best way forward.

Stranger things

I made one of the best decisions of my adult life last night: I began the new Netflix series, Stranger Things. Holy nostalgia, Batman! For me, that TV show echoed some of my favorite pieces: the artful confusion of the Upside Down/World Between Worlds in Twin Peaks (sans creepy dancing midget and garbled dialogue), the impeccable soundtrack and concept of alternate/parallel universes in Donnie Darko, the sense of adventure and fearlessness for the pursuit of good in the Goonies, the band of brotherhood in Stand By Me, the bonding of a group of kids over a common enemy monster in It, and, in fact, every Stephen King novel ever written.

I was reeling for days after first seeing Donnie Darko, so much so, that I had to watch it a few times to absorb everything I could, and then I researched the meaning and context afterward. I love pieces of art/film like that. Things that make you question everything you think you know, the essence of your presence, and your very existence. Films which had a similar impact, but which I don’t see as presenting in Stranger Things include Memento and the Butterfly Effect. Give me a good cerebral thriller; that’s my jam, dawg.

Luckily, I also recently completed the TV series Twin Peaks (wrote about it here, in case you’re interested). The pensive aftertaste Twin Peaks left in my mouth rivalled my nearly obsessive reaction to Donnie Darko (and Mulholland Drive, for that matter), and focused on the presence of another parallel universe, and time travel, space wrinkles, and the science of strange occurrences. That same theme occurs in Stranger Things, and I love that train of thinking. I could ride that train all day long, wondering what life would be like in a parallel universe or other astral plane.

Here are a couple pieces (in my mind) of required reading which I think will help one process what they are seeing while they watch the show:

1) Article written by an employee of the Energy Department, the very setting for the TV series, debunking what the Energy Department’s actual role is in real life: http://energy.gov/articles/what-stranger-things-didn-t-get-quite-so-right-about-energy-department

2) A great read on the inspiration for the writing/storyline of the show basically stating what I felt all along, the ties this series has with everything we love about the 80’s: http://www.gizmodo.co.uk/2016/07/finished-stranger-things-now-watch-these-50-things-that-inspired-the-show/

Not only do I maintain that the girl in the TV series found in the woods, Eleven, has a striking resemblance to a baby-faced Wil Wheaton in Stand By Me, but (in my best Romy & Michele viewing Pretty Woman voice) I also just really love when they finally let Winona shop (shopping on credit, of course, cause we know she has a history of not paying for things.) Winona’s use of old school big-bulb Christmas lights in her décor and as means of communication with her lost son are second only to my own love of Christmas lights as a year-round provider of ambiance. Much like the scene in Girl, Interrupted, when Winona responds to chasing a bottle of aspirin with a bottle of vodka, with an essential, “I had a headache,” she attacked the wall of her house in Stranger Things with an axe like, “It needed a window.” Love, love, love. Way to make a comeback, Winona.

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The TV series wasn’t so scary for me after reading article #1 above on the Energy Department. After reading that, the show was simply… delicious. I devoured the episodes I’ve seen so far and I’m contemplating skipping the gym tonight so I can continue on my binge session to finish all episodes.

Yes, keep in mind as I write this, that I have not yet finished the entire series yet, so there are many ways I could be surprised. But I do agree with one of the first pearls dropped in the show:

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If you haven’t watched it yet, I highly recommend binging on this series over some red vines and crystal pepsi, now that it’s been re-released. Don’t mind me; I’ll be nerding out, devouring more episodes of that series tonight. And I do plan on using the best insult ever as often as I can:

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Right in the feelers

Every 4 years, the Olympics enchant me. I think for at least a few days, like I did when I was 16, that if I just stuck to a regimented gym program, started doing handstands on the daily, that I, too, could be an Olympic gymnast, or diver, or archer, if I wanted to be. The formula for Olympic television is: emotional backstory of how the athlete overcame adversity, injuries, the road to the Olympics, teary musical montage, and ultimately we watch as they walk away with some medal.

This year, I have no delusions of grandeur of ever being an Olympian. I’d get a medal if there was an event where you fall over things without spilling your beer, though. Gold. You bet your ass.

While I sympathize for the French gymnast with the horrific broken leg flopped to the side, and for the Dutch cyclist with a spine broken in 3 places, that is not front of mind this week. Instead, what has punched me right in the feels is empathy and compassion. A relatively quiet coworker, a man of virtually no words, unexpectedly lost his father this week. I gave him some words of encouragement via that always awkward email after management tells the staff what’s up. But a bouquet of clumsy words is better than silence, in my book.

Let’s get one thing very clear – perhaps on the outside, I looked okay when my dad passed away. On the inside, I was a fucking mess. I went through a shitty trifecta around the same time that included my dad passing away and going through a breakup, as well as some work stuff. I was living in another country and on antidepressants. I went to the gym, as that was my chosen escape from reality. I’d work out for at least an hour, every single day, and hard. I dropped 17kg, or 37.5lbs. I barely ate, and when I did, I couldn’t keep it in very long. That was one of the less pleasant side effects of Zoloft.

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Another coworker has organized a calendar for us to sign up for bringing in a dinner, drinks, or dessert for him to take home to his wife and their 3 kids. It brought tears to my eyes, that I work at a place with such thoughtful people who want to do something at times like this. My friends who had the unfortunate task of hanging out with me while I was going through the hardest time in my life probably could have used something like that. I could have used something like that. I didn’t take care of myself very well. My flatmate at the time told me one night, he half expected to come home at night and find me curled up in the fetal position on the floor because the gravity of what I was going through was so much.

Thankfully, I didn’t have a spouse, or even a girlfriend anymore, when I went through the worst of it. I didn’t have children to worry about. It made letting myself go very, very easy. Without those friends of mine in another country, I may very well have fallen into that dark abyss never to return. I don’t know what would have happened, and I don’t want to think about it.

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I will say, as someone who’s been through what he’s going through now, that losing someone you love feels like an incredible loss, sometimes too great to bear. Having people express care and interest in your well-being, when it’s not even at the forefront of your own mind, means more than anything. That emptiness left in the world by your loss gets filled up a little by love and compassion. The world’s not such a horrible place anymore. Someone you didn’t even know is thinking about you, and sending you well-wishes. In the great balance of the universe, it doesn’t bring your loved one back, nor do you magically feel 100% better. But there is a little more love in the world.

Now I’m not the best cook, but goddamnit, I’m gonna bring that man wine for the adults and something sweet for the kids to get they drank on (Sprites, g-rated, nothing illegal). I wouldn’t wish my cooking on anyone, so I’ll leave that to the Betty Crockers and Papa Johns out there.

I’ll make drinking jokes til the cows come home, but I actually stopped drinking, for the most part, during the hardest time in my life. I don’t recommend overdosing on a depressant when actively taking antidepressants, because it just makes the medication have to work harder. But sometimes, when you’re dealing with tough shit, it helps to blow off a little steam. Won’t fix anything, but it gives you something else to focus on besides how much it hurts. Then, in the morning, you’ll hurt on the outside how much it hurts on the inside.

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Be thoughtful and sympathetic (if you can’t be empathetic due to circumstances) to what others are going through. Think of someone besides yourself today. Do something nice for someone, unexpectedly. Put more of that love into the universe. I would ask that you carry that same thinking forward into your own life. Bring that someone some wine. Bitches love wine.

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