Like Sunday Morning.

I used to be an easily agitated person. I’d fly off the handle and lose my temper very easily. I remember as a teenager my mum started saying I needed anger management classes because I’d suddenly lose my shit and yell and shout over the littlest of things. And I could physically feel it within me. I had days where I had this darkness inside me, this negative energy and I’d actually want to blow a fuse and lose it. I’d wake up and know that all it would take was something insignificant and I’d be gone. In those black moods I wanted to hurt and upset those I cared about.

I wasn’t a physically violent person, but definitely threatening and verbally abusive. It was a very ugly thing, and I am ashamed to admit that I was like this. Because it wasn’t me, not really who I am inside. I mean I did those things, I take responsibility for my actions and feel bad for them. But it was to some extent something that was out my control until I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and started having the appropriate therapy and medication.

One of the things I’ve noticed since I’ve been on my medication is that situations where I would have melted down just fly right over my head and I keep my cool. In general, when it comes to potentially upsetting scenarios mostly I am very chill.

I’m like Sunday Morning. Easy.

I don’t get as bothered about people or things as I used to. Once upon a time my fuse was so short I would sometimes snap if my ex breathed loudly at night (poor guy has a deviated septum it’s very difficult for him to breath through his nose at all let alone when trying to sleep!).

These days most little things don’t bug me, and many big things barely affect me. I still have my moments when I get angry. From time to time I get a little irritable, I might be a teensy bit short or snappish. And I still have anxiety issues, but I normally clam up and internalise rather than externalise. I don’t shout and scream and rant and rave like I used to. When I’m off kilter nowadays I am far more likely get either super happy or super sad. There are far fewer phases of rage. Most days I have an unfazed, laid back attitude.

If anyone remembers Lucas from E

If anyone remembers Lucas from Empire Records, sometimes I think I’m almost as Zen as he is!

The Odd One Out.

One of my work colleagues became engaged on the weekend. Her boyfriend took her for a weekend away to Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock) in the centre of Australia. It was all very romantic. When she came into work today all the females (except me) in my department practically swarmed her and were cooing and fawning over the ring and the proposal story for ages.

Don’t get me wrong, I am genuinely very happy for her and I think it’s lovely that her fiancé (I’d better call him that now!) made it all very special and romantic for her. At the same time, I don’t really get why women suddenly feel the need to gush and get all sappy over hearing of someone else’s engagement. I was watching them all out of the corner of my eye (I was on a call with a customer, I am at work after all!) and I was really quite bemused to see these otherwise professional women start squealing and carrying on like a pack of high school girls, the pitch of their voices getting nauseatingly high and baby like.

I’m sitting here laughing now, because reading over this one might get the misunderstanding that I’m bitter or jealous. It’s not that at all, it’s just that I’ve never been a ‘girly’ girl, and cooing and squealing and all that rot just isn’t me. But I do sort of feel like an odd one out, like there is something different about me in situations like this. I don’t behave like a “normal” girl. I can’t. It’s not me. I just kind of see those over the top reactions as a little put-on and pretentious.

For my part – I gave her a heartfelt congratulations, and even gave her a warm hug (and I’m certainly not a touchy feely person – so any hug from me is a rare event!). I thought her ring was gorgeous and told her so. I did this all in my own voice, the one that is filled with enthusiasm and happiness of course, but it’s still my regular pitch and decidedly no gushing. I promise it’s definitely not cold or unfeeling, but at the same time it’s not falsified or overdone.

Does that make me weird? Maybe. Truthfully, it makes me a little sad that I’m not like the other girls. I sometimes wonder what people think of me because I’m not like other girls. But, I am who I am. I can’t change that any more than I can change the weather.

Sometimes though, I wish I could change the weather…

The Madness – A Daily Post Challenge Prompt

I have decided to have another attempt at the Daily Post’s Weekly Writing Challenge. This story is to fill the November 4th prompt: Oh The Irony.

This piece of fiction tells a story of a person doing exactly what they were told in order to stay safe. However by following those rules so carefully they have inadvertently ended up with their life in danger.


The Madness

It’s grown dark. It’s well past curfew and I’m still waiting for Starla to return. She left hours ago to retrieve our rations, fighting her way through the dangerous and hostile terrain. The Last Great War left the world shattered, with only pockets of civilisation remaining. Civilisation is probably the wrong word for the existence we have left. The world has become a dangerous place, survival depends on cunning and stealth. Starla has become expert at making the long and perilous run to City Hall, avoiding the scavengers, the lepers, the ruffians and the disturbed. She is a master at slinking in the shadows retrieving our rations and returning unharmed to our makeshift home on the edge of the failing town.

She has never been caught out past curfew. After curfew is when the government built machines are sent roaming the streets annihilating anyone breaking the rules. It’s the only way the town officials can maintain any sort of order, and control the outbreaks of The Madness. The Madness is the name given for the highly contagious illness that was developed as a weapon in The Last Great War. Starla says that the afflicted mostly come out at night, the darkness is a balm for their incredibly photo-sensitive eyes. She told me that those with The Madness feed on the rest of us uninfected folk, causing the virus to spread like wildfire.

When Starla leaves to get our rations, she always makes me promise to keep the door locked and never let anyone in no matter what they say. She tells me that those who have The Madness will say and do anything to get to unaffected flesh. She says that no matter what, even if the creature on the other side sounds like her, speaks like her or acts like her, never to let anyone in.

***

A few hours ago, not long after Starla left, I heard someone knocking loudly on the door. The creature outside told me that she was Starla and had accidentally left her key in the kitchen. I shouted out that they couldn’t be Starla, because Starla made me swear that I’d never open the door to anyone. No matter what they said. The person on the other side of the door banged harder and insisted that they were Starla and I needed to let her in to get her key so she could get our rations before curfew. I resolutely refused even when the thing outside suggested I should check the kitchen for proof that the key was still on the bench.

The banging and shouting continued while I sat there waiting for Starla to return. When it finally grew dark, and the time passed curfew, the person screaming and banging became more frantic. In the darkness, I heard the machines whirring to life, and I continued to ignore the person who had become almost hysterical in begging me to let them in. With a flash as bright as the day and a horrible crunching sound the machines did their job and the creature on the other side of the door was destroyed. I remember thinking that Starla would be so proud of me, I didn’t let the creature in no matter how much it sounded like her. I have been strong, and I have been smart, and I have been saved from The Madness.

***

Now it’s gone quiet again, the machines have moved on towards the towns centre. My stomach has begun rumbling, I’m starving so I head to the kitchen even though I know that there isn’t any food left. Pale moonlight seeps through a crack in the boarded up windows. I notice a familiar shape glinting on the bench. I approach and curiously reach out to retrieve the object. The cold hard metal of Starla’s key slowly warms in my palm as I wonder how the creature outside knew Starla left her key in here.

Mouth from the South

After doing the personality test the other day, and thinking about my son’s diagnosis it really got me thinking about my own childhood. When I was in primary school I was considered very outgoing: I was overly energetic and talkative. Every one of my primary school reports would have variations of “Karlee would be an excellent student if she could just stop talking so much in class”. Actually my nickname in grades 5 & 6 was “Mouth from the South” perhaps cruel, but I never really paid it much mind back then.

Not only did I talk a lot (and I mean a LOT) I was also very loud. My voice naturally carries, and I’d never realise I’d be talking loudly. I’d get particularly louder the more excited I got. And it was very easy for me to be over enthusiastic (as one teacher kindly put it). I was a high energy child, always onto the next thing, never staying interested in anything for too long. I’d get bored if I wasn’t properly challenged and that’s when I started talking incessantly.

I used to assume that I was naturally an extravert, and that it was due to circumstance (bullying in high school & mental illness) I became an introvert. However, even as a youngster I didn’t initiate friendships, I didn’t like inviting people over to play, didn’t like birthday parties where the focus was on me. Thinking back on it now it seems that my introversion was actually the natural tendency for me. It was only my high energy and loud voice that gave a false impression that I was extraverted.

The more I look at my childhood self, the more I see the parallels between my son and myself. And I’m not the first to do that as other family members have also noted he is so much like me in personality. Always wired, always talking, always busy. Often getting into trouble for distracting other people, not doing it maliciously but because of losing focus and getting bored far too easily.

I control myself a lot better now, but I’m still too easily distracted. I still lose interest in things way too quickly. I still unconsciously talk inappropriately too loudly at times. My eyes glaze over when someones talking and I get bored, and I’ve been known to walk away mid conversation (I know it’s so rude). I still can’t sit still – I bounce my heels rapidly up and down whenever I’m sitting. I don’t realise I’m doing it, and it can get on peoples nerves. I also shift positions in my chair during work meetings more times than socially acceptable. I still interrupt others and sometimes get impatient when people are slow. I forget things that my mind doesn’t classify as important (like when mum asks me to bring over spare clothes for the children you can bet your bottom dollar I have forgotten). I routinely forget appointments or plans I’ve made with others even though I have them in a calendar. I can literally walk over a pile of clothing for days without registering that it needs doing. I’m not lazy, I just don’t “see” the pile because it’s not important in my busy mind.

My ex used to call me Dory (from Finding Nemo) because I’d be talking away and in mid sentence … oooh shiny!!!!

Uh where was I? Oh yes, I get distracted and forget to finish what I was talking about. Sometimes I even forget I had been talking in the first place. I’m a pretty forgetful person, often misplacing (not losing, misplacing!) things. And yet, for whatever reason, I have a massive databank in my head of song lyrics from probably hundreds of different songs across different decades and genres. It’s fascinating just how many songs I know all of the words to from start to finish. But I can’t even remember what day it is half the time.

I.N.F.P. – An idiosyncratic dreamer with a strong imagination

Today, at the suggestion of one of the guys I work with – I took the 16 Personalities quiz for a bit of fun. It’s essentially one of those Myers Briggs Personality Indicators. Reading the results I wasn’t particularly surprised that I turned out to be an INFP, classified as a Diplomat (due to having the NF combo). In fact I probably could have just looked at what each personality aspect was and I would have chosen exactly each aspect as the quiz results determined.

In fact previous posts have established that I’m

  • (I) Introverted : I find socialising very exhausting, and I need plenty of alone time.
  • (N) Intuitive: I have an imagination that runs wild, and I’m typically a dreamer
  • (F) Feeling: I’m sensitive, empathic, and highly emotional

I’m not sure if I’ve written any posts about the last aspect (P) Prospecting yet, but it will definitely come up sooner or later. I would have to agree to being this aspect as: I am terribly indecisive and good at improvising. I pride myself on being flexible; always preferring to keep my options open.

And the diplomat part – well I usually tend to be a fence sitter. I tend to worry more about hurting a persons feelings so I am very reluctant to make judgement calls. And I can usually find redeeming qualities in even the most unpleasant person or situation (much to the chagrin anyone who is venting to me about said person/situation!).

It seems with my INFP personality type that I keep good company among some of my favourite authors: George Orwell, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, A.A. Milne, Edgar Allen Poe, Hans Christian Andersen, William Shakespeare, George R.R. Martin.

Maybe it’s little wonder that I love writing as much as I do! I only wish I were half as talented as the above mentioned folk.

Putting myself into this little box of letters, while a fun and interesting exercise, leaves me at a loss as to what to do with the information. I typically don’t put much stock into personality tests. In fact I got downright annoyed when I legit had to do a different one for work earlier this year (or was it late last year? I can’t remember.)

It makes me think of that end scene of Dirty Dancing where Patrick Swayze tells Jerry Orbach “Nobody puts Baby in a corner”. I feel like saying “Nobody puts Karlee into a personality type”. I kind of see it like star signs and horoscopes – keep it general enough and you can get it to apply to you, and everyone else you know.

That said an INFP personality type seems to suit me remarkably well, but it’s not really a type that’s conducive to success in relationships is it?

A question or two, if you care to answer: whats your Myers Briggs personality type? Do you think it suits you, or do you think you another type is a better fit?

A Life in Perpetual Limbo

At the moment I feel as though my life is in limbo. I’m existing, but I’m not really living. I’m biding my time waiting. What exactly am I putting my life on hold waiting for?

Well there is a rather huge event coming up that has me excited about, impatient for, anxious over, frightened of, and a whole bunch of other positive and negative emotions rolled into a general feeling of unease.

My children and I will soon be moving into our very own home.

After a decade of renting, I will finally have my very own place. It’s currently still being built, almost but not quite finished. I don’t have a completion date yet, but it’s so close I can almost smell it. Mentally, I’ve already moved out of my existing place of residence. But I can’t motivate myself to start packing things up when there is no fixed date for settlement. And so I’m stuck in this limbo between a rental property I’ve come to hate (echoes of him have permanently tainted this once happy place) and the fear of embarking on the unknown at my new home. As a result, I’ve become somewhat lazy about keeping this place spick-and-span and of course that just depresses me.

The second thing keeping me in this limbo is my sons ADHD & ASD diagnosis. Now that we have a diagnosis, I have to wait until the next appointment (later this month) to start looking at treatment. It’s stressing me out no end, but at least thanks to the dosage increase to my meds I’m getting sleep at night. I know it’s a long road ahead, but I just want to actually step onto the path, not stand watching it from a distance.

Of course these are just a couple of things grounded in reality that keep me in limbo. Without them I still have the mental shackles that stop me from living my life. One of those is my indecision about my future. I’m 35 and I still haven’t decided “what I want to be when I grow up”. Well actually I have some idea, but I feel like I’m too old to be embarking on that path. Ok, so maybe I’m not too old as such. However financially I have to worry about my children, so I have to be careful of starting over so to speak.

And then there is just the whole notion in my head that I’m simply waiting for something. For what I am waiting, I have no idea. But I live half my life waiting, vaguely convinced that I’ll know it (what I’m waiting for) when I see it. I’ve always lived my life that way, and obviously “it” is never going to come. I have to decide for myself what “it” is and make it happen. But the most difficult part is deciding what “it” is.

I’m restless. I have all this unchannelled energy coursing through me. I’m wandering aimlessly. I have no idea what I want it is I really want to do. I’m like a bored child who wants to scream and kick up the leaves. And I’m paralysed by the fact that I don’t know what I want. I’m frightened because I have no passion, no desire, nothing to drive me, I don’t feel like I have any purpose. I’m terrified of making a decision, and so waste time and my life doing nothing.

I’ve been fearful my entire life, not taking any risks for fear of losing. And so I’ve led a life that I classify as boring and unfulfilling. You’d think I’d get sick of that, grow a pair, and get out there. But no. I wait. Time ticks on. I wait. I still don’t take any risks. I still don’t really live. I’m afraid to really live.

I tell myself that if I don’t risk a little in the game of life, then I’ll get to the end of it full of regret. But I can’t quite make myself believe that it’s better to have tried and failed than to never have tried at all. I can’t quite convince myself that a life without any risks is no life at all.

I still wait. For what? For a life filled with “what if’s”. That’s what.

A Little More Backstory

I have been a single parent for 2 years – ever since the life altering moment when my now ex decided he just “couldn’t do this anymore” and walked out after the children had gone to bed. What he meant of course was that he couldn’t be with me anymore. At the time I was blindsided, I didn’t see it coming. I was getting treatment for my illness and was actually breaking ground and getting better. His leaving was a huge shock at the time, but eventually I have come to understand why he had to leave me.

However, he fucked up royally by leaving me to deal with the aftermath of his decision. I (still to this day) have to field the endless questions of why daddy left without saying goodbye, the nightmares, the fears that I’ll disappear in the middle of the night. Some of the residual effects are still present in the both of my children and that pains me deeply.

For the first couple of months after he left, he didn’t call them or see them – I could have fucking eviscerated him. How does a person who adored his children from day they were born – who had an integral part in taking care of them; was so present in their lives – go from everything to nothing?

I get that he couldn’t deal with me anymore. I know that I’m a shit person to live with because of my flaws and the fucking dark clouds of bipolar that shrouds me at times. I also get the fact he probably felt guilty for abandoning the kids without warning. He maybe even felt a little guilty for hurting me. But that doesn’t excuse cutting off all contact with them for any length of time.

If it was only me in this equation, I would have said “Whatever. I’m well shot of this pillock.” and forget I ever knew him. But it was my children whose needs I had to think about. And I know that they want and need him in their lives. And honestly before all of this he was the best dad in the world. He really was.

Things have gotten better now, he calls them (from time to time) and has them stay once a week. It’s not really enough for them because deep down they miss him fiercely, miss having his constant presence in their lives. But at least he’s there for them in some capacity.

One of the things that still bother me is the fact that he’s never had to deal with the fallout from his leaving out of the blue. He left it all to me to clean up. I keep trying to explain to him, that he needs to acknowledge to them what he did wrong – to explain that it wasn’t their fault he left. However, because he doesn’t have to see the tears, the worry, the struggles they have – he thinks that everything is ok so he can just sweep it under the rug and forget it happened.

For someone so brave (he works in emergency services), he really can be gutless. He goes into shutdown over anything that forces him to admit to his imperfections, to acknowledge mistakes he has made, to look deeper into his heart and soul. He runs, runs like the wind, instead of confronting and dealing with emotional situations. Life gets tough and he’s checking for the exit, finding a loophole in the contract, eager to find a way out. He doesn’t deal – he runs.

I get that more than he understands – I spent most of my life running. But I stopped running. I had children and realised that I can’t run anymore. I have to face who I am, how I feel, all of the things I don’t like about myself, about my situation. I have to stand strong for them. Always for them.

Taking Them Home – a Daily Post Challenge Prompt

nighthawks_by_edward_hopper_1942
Nighthawks
by Edward Hopper, 1942. Public Domain

Using the above scene as inspiration, I’ve made my first attempts at the Daily Post writing challenge. This story fills the October 28th Prompt: Find a Muse in the Masters


Taking Them Home

It was the waiting that always got to him. The missions weren’t pleasant but He could handle them. He just couldn’t deal with the anticipation of the lead up to the task. The suspense of not knowing who the target was until the very last minute, when their eyes locked and He could see the abject fear register in the victims eyes – their sudden realisation that He was here to collect them.

He has been known by many names throughout the ages: Thanatos, San La Muerte, Mors, Azrael, Gan Ceann, and the Grim Reaper. He has been revered, feared, welcomed and shunned. But in the end when He calls, they must come.

And now, on this dark evening in the year that mortals call 1942, He is sitting alone at the counter of a diner. The shop is nearly empty save for the soda jerk, and a couple who’ve come in for a late night coffee after their movie date. He pretends to read the Evening Standard that is spread before him; but keeps half an eye on the patrons trying to figure out who it is He has been sent to collect. It’s a little game He has always played but never won – trying to figure out for whom the death bell tolls before the victim recognises him.

He gives the soda jerk the once over. The man is in his thirties, fit and nimble and surprisingly alert given the time of night and the long hours he’s spent at the service of his customers. The red head is looking a little tired; every bit of her 40-something years showing on her haggard face. Her companion fares little better, coughing heavily around the cigarette dangling from his mouth.

None of them have given him the time of day, except 20 minutes ago when the soda jerk pushed a cup of coffee across the counter towards him. The couple are engaged in hushed conversation; the frown on the woman’s face suggesting she’s displeased with something her partner has whispered. Meanwhile; the woman’s companion is fiddling uncomfortably with his tie, worrying the knot with one hand while he takes a long drag from the cigarette held in the other.

He watches in fascination as the man’s eyes rake over him momentarily, sliding away quickly and then fixing back on him. He waits a heartbeat, two even, as the understanding floods the man’s features. This is it, this is the moment He has been waiting for. He slowly stands, eyes fixed on the man’s in a not entirely unsympathetic manner. He is preparing to take the man home.

Another Failed Romantic Tale.

Time for another flash back, another failed romantic endeavour.

It was 1996, I was in the tenth grade and his name was Ben. He was tall, dark haired, with soft doe eyes, and he had this gorgeous smile where one corner of his mouth curved up higher. He was a little bit bad boy and that was really attractive to me – the Miss Goody-Two-Shoes. Of course this is a private school version of bad boy – what made him an undesirable (not to me, but to my cliquey school friends) was that he had to repeat year 10 and wasn’t of the same “social class”. Some people in my school were very much snobs it seems.

Anyway, he was in my homeroom; and we had our main classes together. Before too long I found myself totally into him, and it turns out that he was into me too. Of course he couldn’t just outright say it, instead he teased me mercilessly (you know all attention; even bad attention; is good attention). And of course my reaction was an overreaction because I was so into him I couldn’t help but react.

Eventually one of my friends (not one of the snobs) had enough of Ben and I circling one another. She (without my knowledge to all of this) outright asked him if he liked me, and he admitted as much. She told him to ask me out, and he said he would if he got me alone. So right before one of our elective classes; she drags me over to him under some pretence and then takes off. I’m left alone with him.

We’re both standing there awkwardly; trying desperately to make small talk, until one of us has the courage to make a move. Right at the last second I am the one to cave. I ask him out and he says yes and tells me that he was gathering up the courage to ask me out. We share a shy smile before we head off to our classes. I’m uncharacteristically a little late to my class; but I have the biggest grin on my face.

Now here is the totally awkward and fail bit. Even though I had asked him out – and he had said yes – I still couldn’t believe that he actually liked me. I had very low self-esteem, and even when faced with evidence to the contrary – I was convinced that this was all some joke on me. I was terrified that he didn’t really like me; and that somehow it was a practical joke, like out of CarrieAnd so I became really shy, and aloof, and practically stopped talking to him – where before I’d done every little thing I could to get his attention. It was like I didn’t know what to do now that I’d had him. He got the impression I wasn’t into him, and the relationship was dust before it even got off the ground.

He resorted to being unpleasant towards me at lunch times; staring at me and calling out mean things when he was in his group of 11th grade friends. I took to ignoring him in class, and acting like he didn’t even exist. Our friendship had disintegrated because I didn’t know how to show him I liked him, and he thought that I wasn’t actually interested in him.

Then one day, one lunch time, he came up to me. He’s mustered up the courage to apologise to me, it’s awkward and adorable all at once. He says he’d like to start over, which of course stupid oblivious me somehow misinterprets. I say to him “Ok, so we’re friends again yeah?” and hold out my hand. Poor Ben has been unwittingly rejected, and limply shakes my hand with a dejected “Yeah, I guess…” and turns on his heel.

Suffice to say we never really talk again after that one. And for the rest of the year, and into the next (until he left the school mid way through the 11th grade) he’d always give me this strange look in the halls. At the time I thought he was staring me down to make me intimidated and uncomfortable – as if he was trying to tell me I was an idiot for thinking he ever liked me. But looking back with experience, I think his face showed something more like a forlorn wanting. I was unable to interpret back then that his expression reflected the disappointment of his belief that his feelings were unrequited. And my suspicious, self-preserving glares back at him really wouldn’t have helped the situation.

So now it’s time for another apology to another guy.

Ben, I’m sorry I couldn’t show you that I really was into you. I had pages and pages of diary entries filled about you, and had a major crush on you for a long time. However I was naive and unsure of myself. So I did the only thing I know how to do – shut down, and hide my feelings. I wish I’d been more confident – because now I’ll never know what your kisses taste like.