Friday, January 6, 2006

Snnzzzzz...*Yawn!*...Is It Spring Yet?

Now that real Winter is here, and the holidays past, I seem to have slipped into hibernation mode. I mean, I've spent more time asleep this week than I would have thought possible without having a major illness or final exams to blame it on. Of course, I was worn out from the exertions of the holidays, and the unaccustomed extra exertion of working during the holiday week (I haven't had to do that since I was working counter-service in delis fifteen years ago), and a couple of unexpectedly wearying non-work days... but this is ridiculous!

New Year's Eve day, I felt like I weighed five hundred pounds and was swimming through gelatine. Caroline and I went to see The Chronicles of Narnia (which was pretty damned good, I quite liked it, though it was no LOTR or Harry Potter, kind of preachy and predictable... but Tilda Swinton was hot, and the two boys were pretty enough to turn anyone pedophile), and then went walking about the Bay Street shopping center; but other than that, I spent most of the day lolling around in bed or slouched in my desk chair catching up on my blog-reading. I went to a party later on in the evening, a very low-key affair that was nevertheless a lot of fun, sixteen good sober friends (most of whom were couples) in a house out in Pleasant Hill, we played board games and ate and laughed and talked, and went home pretty early.

I spent most of New Year's Day in bed, I got home from the party around two (I drove a friend home who lives at some distance) and slept through until noon, then got up for about an hour to eat a little and check on my email, went back to sleep for three hours, got up and ate something, slept for another four hours... after that it gets hazy, the waking and the sleeping, but I figure I spent about sixteen out of twenty-four hours asleep. I don't think I've slept that much since... well, I don't think I've ever slept that much at once without having the flu.

Monday I had an emotional family crisis, and to work off the anxiety I attacked the physical manifestations of Christmas in my house... stripped the tree, schlepped it outside, rearranged the furniture, brought the boxes down out of the attic, unpacked the stuff I'd packed away to make room for the Christmas stuff, repacked all the Christmas stuff, hauled the boxes back into the attic, vacuumed and dusted everything, and applied sufficient air-freshener to obliterate the smell of that damned tannenbaum. Which was all rather tiring.

The family crisis itself is something I'm not sure how much I should talk about here... I mean, it's not really my story to tell, it's my father's. But it affected me strongly, so it kind of is mine to tell. But now I'm sounding all mysterious and cryptic, which isn't really the point of an online diary, is it? Okay, I'll just lay it out for you, and if I decide later that I'm breaking someone's anonymity, I'll edit it for content.

On New Year's Day evening, Daddy went out to a twelve-step meeting and didn't come back. We spent all that night and the following morning worrying about him, has he been in an accident, was he carjacked, was he kidnapped... and, considering his history, we also had to worry had he been using drugs, had he been arrested, had he overdosed? There was no way of knowing, and the possibilities were endless. The worst part was hearing Grandmother cry, but I wasn't exactly easy in my heart, either.

Later in the day, around noon, he finally called the house in response to the increasingly frantic messages we'd been leaving on his cell-phone... he told me he'd met a "lady friend" and had spent the night with her, and he'd be home in a couple of hours. I was immensely relieved that he wasn't hurt or dead, and he assured me he wasn't using, he was just enjoying some time with his "lady friend." Grandmother was furious, in exact ratio to how worried she'd been (which would best be described as "monumentally"), and I was furious on her behalf as well as my own. I mean, to make us worry like that just so he could get a piece of ass? The irresponsibility of it was staggering.

On top of that, he didn't come home that day, or even that night. I took out my anxieties on the Christmas decorations and putting the house to rights, and I can assure you that if you've never cleaned while angry, it's exhausting. Another fretful night passed, and another worried morning with no sign of Daddy. But every hour he didn't come back was another hour of tension and strain in the house.

Then he did come back. Stoned. Filthy. Sorry. The "lady friend" was a prostitute he'd picked up on 98th and MacArthur (better known as Crack-Whore Alley), who introduced him to her dealer, and he spent the next thirty-six hours in a sleazy motel smoking crack with the whore. Then the whore chiseled more money than she could possibly have been worth, stole his car, his keys, his checkbook, and left him in the motel room. So in his crack-hazed brain he figured he'd better get home now, but how? He asked the dealer to take him home, who agreed... for the sum of $320, which was all Daddy could get out of the ATM at once. So now here he is stoned out of his gourd after eleven years clean, poorer by almost a thousand dollars and missing his brand-new sixteen-thousand-dollar car, a crack-dealer knows where we live, and a crack-whore has the keys to our house.

If I thought I had been angry before, I just didn't know what anger could be. I mean, there are pretty much two kinds of anger: frustration-anger and fear-anger. Frustration anger is where I don't get what I want and I get pissed off; fear-anger is my invariable reaction to any kind of fear... so first I had the frustration anger of what Daddy had done, how he'd made us worry and what he'd done to himself; but I also had some serious fear anger, the fear inspired by these lowlife strangers who had our housekeys and knew where we lived, and the fear that even after eleven years of working the steps, the drugs can still get you... and my ten years in the program are no guarantee I won't go the same way.

On top of the fear and anger, I felt guilty. I had been noticing things that Daddy said over the last week or so that made me wonder if he was going to relapse. But I didn't want it to be so, I didn't want to deal with such a seemingly outlandish possibility (I mean, everything I could see told me that Daddy was working a good program these last eleven years), so I just told myself I was being silly and put it out of my mind. But when he didn't come home, I knew in my heart what had happened; yet I still didn't want to believe it, so when he called and said he hadn't been using, I chose to accept the lie. So when he came home and I saw that he'd lied, I was just crushed... no more room at the Denial Inn.

I know on a logical level that I couldn't have stopped him from using if he was intent on it... and I do think that this relapse has been brewing in the back of his mind ever since he sold his house and got hold of all that cash... I nevertheless feel viscerally that I should have tried, that I should have discussed my fears with him instead of pooh-poohing myself into silence, that maybe I could have got through to him in time and prevented this happening. And that emotion is soooo tiring.

So anyway, there were mechanical tasks that needed to be dealt with... I took Daddy to the bank and closed his checking account, my uncle came and helped him with his missing car (first seeing if they could find it out on the street, and when they couldn't, filing a stolen car report), and we had the locks changed. And I dealt with my fear and anger by talking to my sponsor and going to a meeting. And of course I was anxious, so I did a lot of housework, tackling my laundry so vehemently that I got it all picked up and sorted and half of it washed by nightfall. But all of it, the tasks on top of the emotion, was very tiring.

So on Wednesday and Thursday I was pretty much immobile. I had intended to do some chores around the house... my assignment at the elevator company was cut short when they got clearance from Corporate to hire the position permanently, and they'd promised the permanent position (if any) to the temp who came before me; and then I got another assignment, but it didn't start until today... so I thought I'd make use of the time to work off some of the money I'd been borrowing from Grandmother by doing some of the more loathesome chores, like cleaning and polishing the kitchen cabinets or washing the windows or cleaning the garage.

But it didn't happen... I just couldn't make myself get up and move. What's worse is that I couldn't really sleep, either. I told Grandmother I felt like one of those dolls with weighted eyes, but my eyes were in backward: every time I stood up they'd start to close, and every time I laid down they popped open. So I sort of hovered in between, sitting here at the desk and posting obsessively at Just Us Boys or watching television in the (wildly pristine) living room.

I did get to sleep at night, though, both nights; and when I woke up this morning to go to my new assignment, I felt very nearly peppy! And it's a good thing, too... the new assignment came with an absolutely dizzying amount of information on the first day.

So now I'm working in finance! My new company is the independent arm of a large national bank, which sells various personal financial services through the bank's branches across the country. We do the administrative work of this "arm" (the sales work is done in the branches, and God only knows where the actual financial work takes place); we take up a quarter of this huge and rather frighteningly grand building out in San Leandro, sharing space with the bank's West Coast operations center, and my workspace is one of perhaps three hundred or so cubicles in this one cavernous room surrounded by little offices and conference rooms. There's a lunchroom with a full cafeteria, various patios and two breakrooms with sofas, the bathrooms are unspeakably luxe, there are boring but somehow soothingly corporate art prints on the walls, and you have to have an electronic badge to get through most of the doors.

Which is all very exciting... except for the task I perform: I organize and send out marketing materials requested by the salespeople stationed in the bank branches across the country. First thing in the morning, I send out little greeting-cards requested by the salespeople that thank new customers for buying our services, remind old customers to come review their portfolios, and offer financial counseling to customers who have experienced a major lifechange like retirement or widowhood. Then I assemble requested packages of information to send to new customers explaining their new accounts. Then I transcribe the phoned-in requests for paper materials onto the Material Request Forms, collate them, and then have my lunch break.

Next I go into the documentation room and get the documents and materials requested, loading them into a sort of big shopping cart, and return to my cubicle to separate the materials into packages, which are then put into great big envelopes and addressed to the salesperson at the branch using the Intracorporate Courier code. Then I do the same thing for salespeople who are having seminars and customer appreciation days. Then I schlepp all of these envelopes, separated by US Mail letters, US Mail flats, in-state Intracorporate Courier, and out-of-state Intracorporate Courier, to the mailroom on the other side of the huge building, which is at the end of the most sinister corridor I have ever seen in my whole life... it looks like it belongs to a secret government agency that's up to no good.

And that's my day: collating and mailing, with a few emails to explain why I'm not mailing exactly what was requested and faxes from seminar-giving salespeople in between. Yippee! But the work is easy and not too terribly menial, and I really like the atmosphere of the big cubicled room (there are even plants every ten or fifteen feet, each one exactly the same size). And the big intimidatingly grand building is quite nice, it centers on a domed atrium with a really dramatic staircase that I enjoy walking up and down on the way to and from lunch.

But I'm still really sleepy... though I managed to stay alert enough to memorize all of the facts and processes I'll need to use in the coming month, I kept yawning and stretching and wanting to crawl under my desk and take a little nap. But as soon as the sun went down, I perked up a little, and now that I'm home I had the energy to write all of the above.

Having done so, though, I am now incredibly sleepy again! And though it's still too early to go right to sleep, I think I'm going to change into my jammies and get in bed anyway, with a pot of herbal tea and my current book (Blinded by the Right by David Brock, the first piece of nonfiction I've delved into since college, but which my friend JB lent to me with glowing recommendation).

So off to beddie-byes I go. Thanks, as always, for listening to me drivelling on about my sordid little affairs. I don't think I'd have any idea what was really going on in my life if I wasn't writing it down somewhere... I was thinking that I had no real reason to be so tired until I reread what I just wrote! And you know, all those months in Fall when I was only posting every five weeks or so? No idea what I was doing all that time, how I felt, what I was thinking about. Kind of sad, losing all of that time to myself. Oh, well, no use crying over spilt milk. There are so many better things to cry about.

G'Night, John-Boy!

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