2019 Reading List: The Final Update

Currently reading:
Spymistress: The Life of Vera Atkins, the Greatest Female Secret Agent of World War II by William Stevenson

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

Read:
Becoming by Michelle Obama

Tibetan Peach Pie: A True Account of an Imaginative Life by Tom Robbins

Tom Robbins: The Kindle Singles Interview by Mara Altman

Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins (re-read)

Smile by Raina Telgemeier 

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

Recovery: Freedom from our Addictions by Russell Brand

Meaty by Samantha Irby

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (re-read)

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes

Hell’s Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness, Butcher of Men by Harold Schechter

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

A Well-Read Woman: The Life, Loves and Legacy of Ruth Rappaport by Kate Stewart

My Own Devices: True Stories from the Road on Music, Science and Senseless Love by Dessa

The Body is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love by Sonya Renee Taylor

2019 Reading List: The Final Update

Memorabilia

When I was 21 years old (way back in the Dark Ages of 1988),  I had my first job in advertising. I was a lowly paste-up artist in the ad department at Charles A Stevens, a women’s clothing store in downtown Chicago. I was making $5 an hour yet somehow was still able to afford my own apartment. I think my rent was like $200 a month, for a studio in Lakeview. You probably can’t even get a parking spot in the neighborhood at that price now.

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I went to newspapers.com and found one of the ads T. and I worked on during that summer. From the Chicago Tribune, July 7, 1988.

That summer was VERY hot. I had a feeble second-hand window air conditioner that was better than nothing but not much better. One of the art directors took pity on me and said, “Hey, why don’t you come stay at my place for a few days” and I was like, “Really?” T. was super-cool and maybe 30 and he lived with his boyfriend in a high-rise building in the Gold Coast neighborhood.

So I packed up a bag of clothes and went home with T. after work the next day. They had central air, and nice grown-up furniture and a Siamese cat named Romeo. We hung out and watched TV and I was still kind of baffled that someone would be so nice to me for no apparent reason. I hadn’t known T. that long, I’d been working with him maybe 6 months and never felt like I was interesting enough for people to even think about if they weren’t looking directly at me.

I’d been living in Chicago for less than 3 years at that point and the world was still revealing itself to me every day, after growing up sheltered in a very small town. T. and another co-worker S. were the first out gay men I had ever been around on a regular basis. I was never afraid of it, but it was new to me.

T. and R. had a 2-bedroom apartment, and I wasn’t sure where I would be sleeping. When T. showed me to the “guest bedroom” that was also part office and clearly not a room where someone regularly slept, it was kind of an eye-opening moment for me. “Oh they are really a couple who live together and sleep in the same bed and not just roommates who have sex.” Which sounds so DUH KATHY but I come by my current sophistication levels honestly. The world has changed in dramatic ways, despite the current hellscape timeline we’re in.

Another more much more minor revelation occurred the next morning when T. and I walked to work together in the hot disgusting weather (it was 10 blocks to the office) and we stopped at the White Hen Pantry on the way. White Hen was the Chicago predecessor to 7-11 and I still miss it even though the two stores are 99.9% exactly the same. T. bought a giant Diet Coke full of ice from the fountain machine and I thought, “Diet Coke in the morning? You can do that?” Where I came from it would not be allowed to have soda before lunchtime. It wouldn’t even occur to me to ask. (Lord, I was such a country mouse.) But wow it sounded good, so I got myself a giant Diet Coke full of ice and we walked the rest of the way to work.

Later in the summer T. and R. asked me to stay at their apartment while they went on vacation, ostensibly to feed the cat, but I think they were secretly offering me a week in their nice air-conditioned apartment and I was not about to refuse. It was so nice. They had a great record collection and I spent a lot of time taping it (boy I am really delving into the archaic here.) One of my favorite discoveries was the B-side to Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love” 12-inch single, “Memorabilia.”

There’s always at least one day during the summer that’s scorching hot in the morning, and I’ll stop at 7-11 and get a giant Coke full of ice on my way to work and think about T. and the summer of 1988. I’m more than twice as old as I was then, and the world still reveals itself to me every day.

Memorabilia

2019 Reading List Update

Currently reading:
Spymistress: The Life of Vera Atkins, the Greatest Female Secret Agent of World War II by William Stevenson
Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (re-read)
As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes

Read:
Becoming by Michelle Obama
Tibetan Peach Pie: A True Account of an Imaginative Life by Tom Robbins
Tom Robbins: The Kindle Singles Interview by Mara Altman
Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins (re-read)
Smile by Raina Telgemeier 
Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin
Recovery: Freedom from our Addictions by Russell Brand
Meaty by Samantha Irby

My reading continues to be well below my usual averages. Too many podcasts, too much social media. .  . too much mental distraction.

2019 Reading List Update

2019 Reading List Update

Currently reading:
Recovery: Freedom from our Addictions by Russell Brand
Spymistress: The Life of Vera Atkins, the Greatest Female Secret Agent of World War II by William Stevenson

Read:
Becoming by Michelle Obama
Tibetan Peach Pie: A True Account of an Imaginative Life by Tom Robbins
Tom Robbins: The Kindle Singles Interview by Mara Altman
Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins (re-read)
Smile by Raina Telgemeier 
Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

2019 Reading List Update

Quiet time

I’m on my last day of four days off work. I had initially planned to go home and help Mom do some packing for her upcoming move. But on Monday morning the roads were bad and after some debate with her I conceded and gave up the trip. Which may have been for the best, as early that afternoon I was suddenly completely congested and had a scratchy throat.

So I’ve spent my four days off mouth-breathing, sleeping, reading, and watching too much TV. I could’ve given up my days off and gone to work, but I’ve felt so much mental and emotional strain over the past two weeks, i just couldn’t do it. By the time I got to the end of last week every time my email pinged it was like, “WHAT NOW?!” There was a constant barrage of crises to be solved, or not solved, and everyone seemed to be unhappy about everything. I couldn’t wait to slam my computer shut and be done with it for a few days (and I didn’t even get to slam it shut until 10:30 pm after a 14-hour day, so yeah.)

Before my cold set in, I did have an absolutely stellar Saturday. I was due to meet D. in the evening at the Art Institute for the Pitchfork Midwinter thing, and then B. asked me if I wanted to meet her downtown in the afternoon, so I got to spend a full day and evening in the company of dear, beautiful friends, hear some great music, enjoy legendary art, and only occasionally have angry work thoughts intrude on my good time. It was the best day in a long time. Bonus points: Ladytron also released a new album that day.

I think my body just gave up the ghost on Monday when I decided not to go to Mom’s and said, “Ok, we have the all-clear to get sick now.” I had free time all laid out before me and the energy to do… absolutely nothing. Which is probably the point. I still don’t think I’ve completely relaxed. Between naps and episodes of Drunk History I’ve been thinking about work a lot, and how I need to adapt my own thought processes to survive this situation until I can change my situation. There are also things happening that may change the situation around me, too. So there’s some wait and see, but also some active measures I need to take.

I wish there was a healthy way to have a split personality. I need a work personality and a not-work personality and a firewall between them. I spend way too much time thinking about work when I’m not there and I’d rather not. The phrase, “it’s business, it’s not personal” keeps coming to mind and I wish I could implement it in my own life, but I’ve never understood how that works. I guess I’m not enough of a sociopath. When someone criticizes you but tells you not to take it personally, how do you do that? If I’ve done something wrong, it’s because I messed up, I didn’t make the right decision, I didn’t follow the right process, I made the wrong choices, or didn’t follow through properly. How should I NOT take that personally? Seriously, if someone can explain that to me, please do.

I suppose it’s equally messed up to assume I will never make a mistake or never have to be criticized for doing something wrong and I should get over myself. No mistakes means no opportunities for growth, right? Ugh, I feel like I’ve been having a growth spurt for the past two years and it’s painful, can I stop for awhile?

Quiet time

It occurred me to today that for the last four months I’ve been engaged in a very passive-aggressive form of self-harm. Nothing so aggressive as cutting, or burning myself with cigarettes or using alcohol or drugs to excess. But very passively just letting go of the few good choices I was capable of making in my life.

Emotional eating is always my baseline. The more extreme the emotions or things I do not want to deal with, the more junk gets hoovered into my mouth. Before my dad died, I’d been doing a fairly decent job of tracking my calories for a couple of months, because I could already feel my good habits slipping away. The stress of living in Tr*mp’s world was wearing on me, along with the ever-present work-related stress. It was a bad summer at the office. But then dad died in October, and fuck that calorie tracker. I ate what I want, as much as I want, whenever I wanted. (well, except in the presence of other people because I didn’t need the judgement.)

Christmas came, then it was 2019. One cat died. Work continued to be awful. The world at large continued to be awful. Then five weeks later the other cat died. A teetering stack of sadness and anxiety that I have not handled well.

I haven’t weighed myself because I don’t need to do that to know I’ve gained at least 15 pounds. My clothes are tight. I hate how everything feels.

I also became extremely sedentary. Not that I’ve ever been the most active person in the world, but as a person without a car, I do fair amount of walking. Instead, this winter I have become a large, soft potato who has given a decent percentage of her income to Lyft. I worked a lot of late hours, so instead of taking the bus home (and having to do some walking in between) I would just take a Lyft from door to door. When I do walk now, I have no stamina. My hips hurt, my feet hurt, my back hurts (which always happens to me in the winter, but this is worse than normal.). I think back to my trip to Italy three years ago, where I was walking 10 miles+ every day and I don’t know who that person is anymore. I couldn’t do that in my current state.

I have a gym membership at my office building and I haven’t been there in probably a year. I could do yoga or pilates at any time right here in my home and I haven’t done it in at least six months. I think about doing it almost every day. And then I consciously choose not to do it.  (I think partly because I’m afraid of seeing how much I’ve deteriorated when I’m not able to do things I used to be able to do.) I can only conclude that this is self-harm.

So is this me, hitting bottom? Have I finally become as miserable as I can stand to be? Am I ready to take responsibility for digging myself out of this hole? I know I need professional help and will be seeking such.

In the meantime I’ll continue to behave fairly normally if you see me out in the world. Don’t be afraid.

 

Snap.

I was staring at my laptop cycling through all the usual crap and then I just felt a giant wave of FUCK ALL OF THIS wash over me. I logged out of all my social media accounts. I deleted them all from my phone. (except Instagram, because half the people I follow are cats, so it’s less poisonous to my system.) The constant non-stop shrieking about everything in every direction is an unsustainable situation for me.

I had a terrible, terrible day at work yesterday. I’m so sick of petty bullshit drama. Every day is a new adventure in how to feel bad in exchange for money. I have a severe case of late-stage capitalism. I’m afraid it’s contagious.

I hate coming home to an apartment without cats. But I’m not ready for new cats yet either. I had a week off work at the end of December which feels six months ago already so I’m taking another week off next week and I’m counting the hours already, and planning another trip in my head after that.

I don’t know how chronically positive people maintain their outlook without cutting themselves off from the world completely. It’s something I am constitutionally incapable of.

If you made it this far, all of this griping is just to let you know: text me if you need me, or use Messenger if we talk that way. (I didn’t delete that one.) Eventually I’ll crawl back to FB & twitter but not yet.

 

Snap.