Getting steamrolled by a musical train

My mother loved her classical music (exhibit A and B). For years, she tried to convince me to attend Montreal’s prestigious international music competition with her. It’s a pretty phenomenal concept: an annual competition, cycling through piano, violin and voice. There are several rounds, but the finals are 2 nights of full concertos for ridiculously cheap prices – with musicians that have the potential to be the next great soloists. I attended the piano competition with her in 2008, and the violin one in 2007. After that I grew too busy with work (exhibit C and D), and couldn’t make the time to maintain this activity with my mother. As with many things I shared with my mom, I’ve yet to face my shame and grief by attending this competition. Maybe next year.

I have trouble, usually, appreciating a new piece of music on the first listen. I need to listen to it over and over again, in order to be able to relax into it. Then one day, out of nowhere, usually when I am half listening while doing the dishes or folding laundry, it will suddenly slice through my brain and my heart and I will get it. I grew up listening to Brahm’s 2nd piano concerto in the car, all the time. I’ll never forget the day when I suddenly heard it for real, for the first time. We were patiently waiting to turn left at the red light intersection near our home. I remember the warmth of the sun through the car window on my arm, my mother driving in the front seat, how her sunglasses rested on her cheeks, the wind blowing through her rolled down window, the feel of car seat material against my thighs. A moment of wonderment, as I listened, truly listened, to that music for the first time. I was 9-10 years old, and it remains one of my most vivid memories, almost 25 years on.

At the 2007 violin competition, I discovered Prokofiev’s first violin concerto, which remains one of my favorite pieces ever: technically astounding, frothy and light, with an undercurrent of emotion to give you some feels. I was happily surprised at my ability to relax into the unknown and appreciate this new discovery. I patted myself on the back, chit-chatted with my Ma during intermission, listened an underwhelming Beethoven violin concerto, felt a little tired during the 2nd intermission and wondered how I’d survive a 3rd concerto, especially since it was another new discovery for me: Shostakovich’s 1st violin concerto.

From the very first sequence of notes, I sat, stunned. I listened as my life and my reality, in musical form, were played to me by strangers, written by a man long deceased from a land I’ve never visited, living in circumstances I’ll never know (Stalin’s reign of terror). I felt completely understood, emotions I’d never been capable of naming, perfectly expressed. I was exposed, vulnerable and raw, my persona and defenses stripped away by the truth of the music. It felt like I got hit by a train. That hangover lasted for days.

I didn’t know, in 2007, that my shadow wasn’t an occasional visitor, but my lifelong companion and nemesis. So I was confused why I could relate so strongly to Shostakovich’s 1st violin concerto, which is written from a place of pain, torment and anguish. I didn’t know, then.

10 years have lapsed, and I’ve yet to discover another musical piece that more completely gets all of me. It is me.


I wrote Rough Patch because writing is how I try work through things. Each post is true but cannot capture the whole truth: 750-1000 static words, a snap shot of a given moment in time. Family and friends reached out to me in a state of considerable alarm, which made me feel guilty – I voice my problems because voicing them helps me nullify my shadow’s attempt to foster corrosive shame, but in doing so I dim others’ happiness. Reassuring them about something that I cannot reassure myself about adds to the exhaustion of life.

I lost 4lbs from last week’s 6 hour cry fest. It took me 2.5 days to rehydrate adequately, and rebalance my electrolytes. No, I have not been spending every day crying, since. I even had a few moments of laughter this week. Am I still exhausted, and in that danger zone btn a funk and something much worse? Yes. Am I trying to take care of myself? Yes. I religiously go to the gym every Saturday, because seeing my #squaD is as good for the soul as the endorphins are for my brain. This week I treated myself to a bonus workout on Thursday, totally worth it, except now I have to catch up some stuff this weekend. I try eat fruits and veggies most days. My roommate took care of the fridge. I sleep a lot. I try answer most texts within 48hours so that I don’t feel a pit of guilt for being a bad friend.

This is depression. Some days it is really bad and messy. Some days I look mostly normal. All days feel like Shostakovich’s 1st violin concerto.

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Rough patch

I was supposed to spend the day working, but instead I had a full-blown meltdown. I have a dehydration headache: I’m on hour 5 of crying. I hope I’m wrong, but I think I might have just crossed the line from funk into a real depressive episode. It feels mighty similar to the last episode in summer of 2014: over a period of 3-4 weeks, a sharp increase in frequency of rage blow ups, tears, hearing a few too many phrases that hit close to home (Robin Williams’ death), and then on the drive home from a vacation weekend in Qc city, I started crying, and cried non stop the whole way home. My poor father. 3 hours of driving next to a silent watering pot. Not fun.

What set me off this time? An innocent remark from a friend who witnessed my interaction with an Apple store salesperson. “Vanilla, you are so intense. You talk too much, often about shit that you don’t even know much about. You set up people’s backs, because you give the impression of talking just to hear yourself talk, you think you are so smart. And when you DO know what you’re talking about? You make suggestions that sound like orders. You might mean well, but you are too aggressive. Chill out, girl. You don’t need to have the answer, always. Especially if people didn’t ask you the question.”

Sometimes, the truth fucking hurts.

I do set up people’s backs. Often, especially at work. I’ve a long history of it, and no matter how hard I try, I haven’t demonstrated any noticeable improvement over the years. I don’t know how to avoid it. I listen to people based on their demonstrated intelligence (which I feel I am smart enough to evaluate for myself) and their capacity for problem solving. I mean, that is what we are all paid to do. Deliver. So if I feel I have relevant comments about delivery, yes, I will say them. I AM BEING PAID TO DO SO. Yes, my comments cover a broad range of topics, beyond accounting. Yes, I am fucking smart. No, I don’t start every sentence that way. Yes, I ruffle feathers. That is my job. I come across as some sort of machine, stripping people of their humanity, judging them for not being able to keep up with my brain.

But here is the thing. Fundamentally, I don’t believe in my own humanity. I am nothing more than an excellent accountant. I have nothing else. Literally.

  • I am 34, I have a roommate, I live in an un-decorated apartment, my fridge broke down 7 days ago, and I haven’t even started to look into buying a new one, because I have no time, and I never cook for myself. Hate cooking, in general, cooking for 1 is the most depressing thing ever, and I am never home, either working, working out or dancing.
  • Almost 8 years single. I’ve totally given up on dating, especially online. The guys that I have met in the past 3 years have been rather adept of stripping me of any self-respect, using me for my pussy, my brain, my useful problem-solving skills, my low-key easy company, never expressing any desire for any commitment whatsoever. If I did meet a guy who wanted commitment, I’d assume he was a liar. I wouldn’t know what to do with him, bc I’ve stopped believing anyone would find me worth investing in. My track record proves it.
  • I have no savings, because – and this is not an exaggeration – I spend thousands of dollars a year on Ubers, because that is the only way I can get my ass to work before 10am, because I am so exhausted by work and from keeping up the appearance of being normal. No, I don’t want a car, I don’t want another thing that I won’t have the time or energy to take care of, or the stress of rushhour. Yes, I might have to get one, just from an economics perspective.
  • I spend my free time working out. 5-15 hours a week. Kickboxing, boxing, dancing… the specific activity might change, but the habit is the same, the talent rather unexistent. As my cousin once wondered, someone who avoids being home that much is probably running away from their life. It’s not quite that. It is that I need the endorphins to keep my poisonous shadow at bay. And also, what else can I do with my time? Work more, sure, but even I get fed up of being a work horse. All my friends, my real friends, are busy with their lives, married with babies. I see them 3-6 times a year.

That’s it. That is all. I have nothing else, other than this tiny blog, which reminds me that I have a voice. The only thing I have going for me is my brain. So yes, I make suggestions, good ones, pertinent and on point. I speak up. I hold on tightly to the belief that in some capacity, I must be of use or valuable to somebody, be it only the corporation paying my salary. #howsthatforhumanity

But here is the even bigger paralyzing fear, the same one as in 2014. Every time work hits a certain level of pressure (60 hours, week after week), I can’t sustain it for very long. My brain short-fuses, and I spiral down a road of complete misery. The shadow takes over, the meltdowns increase, the number of bust-ups with people multiply. I slide into depression, a miserable existence that robs months and years of life from me.

My identity, the only purpose I serve in this life, is to be an accountant: it is contingent on my brain. And my brain betrays me when it matters most. I had hoped, so much, that going on medication for my ADD would help. But it doesn’t. I can’t handle the pressure levels required of any top-level professional… even by giving all of myself. Literally. My place is a disaster, my finances are a disaster, I have no personal life, no kids, no husband, no friends. All I have is work, and I can’t keep up.

I quit my job in 2014 because of my depression. It broke my heart. I loved my job. But I couldn’t bear the misery of my life and hoped that by opting for something less stressful, I could still fulfill my need of being a valuable, smart accountant, without putting myself in an environment that would eventually push my shadow to kill me. I changed the entire course of my career to accommodate my sick brain.

Here I am 3 years later, and despite making lifestyle changes to keep my brain happy (regular exercise and medication), despite a job that I love so much… I can’t keep up.

So where does that leave me? By every humane metric, my life is a complete failure. My sick brain, yet again, seems keen on sabotaging my career.

Hour 6 of crying.

 

But… you’re so talented! Why blog?

Vanilla, I know this blog is important to you… but… but you’re SO smart, and talented. You’ve so much potential, both as an accountant and with your words. Why blog? You are aware, aren’t you that this could have an impact on your career, whether deserved or not?

There is a lot to unpack in those few statements.

I know this blog is important to you.

Major understatement. This blog is an essential part of my trusty toolbox that I use to fight my shadow every day. Therapy + exercise + blogging. My tripod. I can survive off of 2 out of 3. But less than 3 = misery.

You’ve so much potential, both as an accountant and with your words. Why blog? (Subtext: blogging is a waste of my talent. If I were writing poetry, novels, popular editorials or at a minimum free-lancing and earning some sort of revenue, that would make my writing an acceptable hobby for an accountant. Because credibility is apparently only dependent on the form (poetry/novels), the reach of the audience, or it’s income generating success.)

I blog because it proves I have a voice. My shadow seeks to convince me that I am nothing, that I am worse than nothing, I am a noisy distraction and annoyance. Every day, I fight that part of my brain that seeks to convince me that the world would be a better place if I were silent. I blog because it is an exercise in vulnerability, and without vulnerability I have no hope of ever vanquishing my shadow.

I blog because in this day and age of social media, with so many of my friends successfully adulting, I felt like a misfit. I share my story, so that others who feel isolated in their struggles to successfully adult may feel less alone. A virtual community is better than no community. I blog because of moments like this and this. For the dozens of times where an acquaintance or a stranger has written to me to say that reading my words made them feel less alone in their struggles, gave them insight, made them laugh on a day when the world was nothing but grey.

One day, maybe, I will write a novel, or I won’t. One day, maybe, I will be a wildly successful columnist for the Huffington Post. But that day will only happen if I continue to believe I have a voice. So I blog.

(Incidentally, I do freelance – I’ve drafted promotional material for three different international dance festivals. Does that make me more credible, somehow?)

You are aware, aren’t you that this could have an impact on your career, whether deserved or not?

Yes, I am aware. Obvi. People form judgements, their judgments inform their opinions, their opinions inform their decisions, and their decisions inform my life and my opportunities. I might be a fucking brilliant accountant, but knowing I suffer from depression, ADD and anxiety, and have piss-poor taste in men? Suddenly I am tarnished goods.

But here’s the thing. I don’t care.

I am that girl, the fucking brilliant accountant with mental health issues, and crazy baggage. That is who my company hired. I will NEVER bring up either the mental health issues or my baggage in a work context, because I firmly believe that to be irrelevant: everyone is dealing with shit of their own. I was hired to deliver, and I am evaluated on my capacity to deliver, baggage notwithstanding. I expect that of myself and of every other employee in the organization. That I chose to share some of my struggles on this blog is irrelevant. If any coworker choses to read my blog, and as such learns of my struggles – that’s on them. They chose to seek out additional information about me, and I cannot be burdened by their difficulty in assimilating it. I am too busy delivering the value added to the organization that I was hired to deliver. I’ve written this before: I carefully consider every single post, before publishing it. I consider the whether the impacts on myself, or those featured in the stories, are fair. Any post that is published, I am willing to defend and 100% own up to. I anticipate that anyone could read it, from the CEO of my company to the Arch-Bishop of Canada (who does, incidentally, occasionally read my blog), to influential promoters in the dance community, to politicians (true story, one of my followers is a former member of our House of Commons).

Traditionally, in the workforce, people limit what they show their coworkers and employers. They play the game of presenting their best selves, carefully packaging their image and brand. The fact that I do not play that game ruffles feathers and is sometimes perceived as vulgarity or an indication that I am too stupid to play the game. Wrong. I worked 5 years for a Big 4 accounting firm. I can play that game as well as anybody. I just hate it. By playing it, I’m tacitly implying that part of myself should remain hidden – feeding perfectly into my shadow’s game plan to convince me that who I am is not worthy of being. So I chose not to play that game. I chose authenticity and to believe that I will professionally get my just desserts based on my performance and my unquestionable intelligence. Besides, the people that do play that perceptions game? They inevitably end up revealing their true selves eventually, despite their best efforts not to.

Recently a dude in my professional network tried to cause shit with my blog, by sending a careful selection of posts to some individuals that would react unfavorably to them. He did so behind the scenes, thinking I wouldn’t find out. So. What does this tell me? It tells me that this guy, who knows I have a doozy of a story about him, is terrified that I will one day blog about it. And rather than chose to trust in my good judgment – writing about it would violate my principle that my right to self expression must not come at the price someone’s right to privacy – he attempted to force my hand, and create enough headache for me that I would reconsider blogging at all. How cute. He played the game, and he lost, since he revealed all of himself to me through his actions, whereas I have revealed nothing that wasn’t already public information.

You are aware, aren’t you that this could have an impact on your career?

Absolutely. A positive one. Just watch me.

How you doing? Oh, just like Rachmaninoff’s 2nd piano concerto

“So, how’ve you been doing? Whatcha been up to? What’s going on in your life lately? Anything? Nothing?!”

I hate those questions. They suck. They are only ok to answer if you have something to boast about, when your life is all gold stars, rainbows and unicorns. My first half of 2017? I LOVED talking about my life. I visited 5 different cities, and went on the most transformative trip of my life (Dubai). Work was exciting, dating was ok, dancing was incredible, I was happy. Then my shadow woke up from its nap, and the 2nd half of 2017 sucked, despite some pretty sweet moments:

“Everytime I wanna know what is going on in your life, I just read your blog.”

Ok, so then why are you asking me what I’ve been up to? I have not been up to much, although the above list of blog posts proves that I witnessed a fair bit of other people’s lives. If you read my blog then you should be aware I’m struggling with depression these past few month. Yes, still – that is what depression does, it robs one of one’s capacity to live for months, if not years. Reminding me that I am still stuck in this garbage zombie state isn’t doing me any favors. At best, I feel equally irritated and anxious about my inability to prove that I am living life in a manner worth living, in accordance to wtv standards of the person I am talking to. At worst, I feel shame, and my shadow goes off on a rant about how much of a fucked up train-wreck I am, still with nothing to show for all my talent, intelligence and privileged opportunities I’ve been given, just a disappointment to everyone, really. It is taking most of my energy to survive, and still be a semi-useful employee, worth employing. Just because I blog about my struggles doesn’t mean that I want to talk about them all the time. I am a depressive – I fucking hate vulnerability. Talking about my depression, unexpectedly, face to face, with acquaintances or not close friends? Ummm, no. And if y’all don’t read my blog… then I am just as unlikely to say “Oh hey nothing really has been going on, just fighting my way through my latest bout of depression. How about you? Still happy as fuck? That’s nice.”

“So, how you doing? Whatcha been up to? Work, work, just work? Anything else? Dating?”

Look, bro, I know at this point you are just fishing for a topic for conversation to make this less awkward, but I am not gonna make this any less awkward. YES. WORK. THAT IS ALL. THIS IS AWKWARD BECAUSE PERSONAL QUESTIONS ARE IMPERTINENT. Didn’t you ever read Miss Manners??


How’ve I been doing? Ok-ish. Work has been nuts – I am on my 3rd consecutive week of 65-70 hours. It feels nice to be given a challenge, and to feel myself stepping up. Just in time, too – my funk noticeably affected my performance at work from July-September. I really don’t have much time for anything else. I’ve been trying to stay semi-constant at the gym, my happiest of happy places, and manage to squeeze in 6-8 hours of dancing a week, down from 15+ in Sept-Oct. Work, with its series of definite goals (Nov 25, Dec 22, Jan 23) gives me structure. Every day is a new day, must continue moving forward, one step in front of the other, no time to think or feel too much.

Except that of course, I do. Feel.

While working yesterday, I put on some classical music (latest coup de coeur: Max Bruch’s violin concerto no.1). Youtube is a wonderful concept, really. One beautiful piece after another, old favorites, reliable staples. And then… familiar notes, forgotten from my youth. I stopped working, and listened from beginning to end.

To try limit my mother’s “favorite” piano concertos to less than all of them would be hard, but without doubt one of the top contenders would be Rachmaninoff’s 2nd piano concerto. Rachmaninoff wrote it after a serious, almost career-ending depression that lasted 3 years. Friends and family urged him to seek professional help, which he did reluctantly. His therapist, an esteemed expert at the time, used hypnosis on Rachmaninoff with success. The result, a few months later, was the 2nd piano concerto. Rachmaninoff dedicated it to his therapist, and credited the man with saving his career and life. My mother always felt that the origins of Rachmaninoff’s 2nd piano concerto could be heard in the score. A tormented first movement, an awakening of hope in the 2nd, and a verve, readiness and capacity for life in the 3rd.

An awakening of hope, she thought. “It sounds like a blind man seeing his first sunrise on a new day”, she would say. Then why does it make me weep with sorrow? Every time.

How’ve I been doing? I’ve been doing as good as the 2nd movement of Rachmaninoff’s 2nd piano concerto. In theory, I am headed towards a happier ending, but right now there is more sadness than joy.


It doesn’t help that this weekend was a true fall weekend. Cold, rainy, grey, with winds that cut to your bones. Bright leaves falling, turning into damp rotten mush on the sidewalks. Just as in years past, as the leaves fall, grief bubbles up, and I miss my Ma terribly. I suppose it is only fitting that I listen to Rachmaninoff’s 2nd piano concerto on loop. Memories of sitting in the passenger’s seat of the car, listening as it played on the drive home from the Pointe-Claire library (her favorite place ever – her body prevented her from physical travel, so she found solace for her mind by reading everything. No joke, she never borrowed less than 5 books at a time, every week). Of sitting parked in the driveway of our home, till the concerto finished. Of her sigh of contentment. Of the click-clack of her canes on the pavement, as she climbed slowly up the front steps of our home, while I carried her books for her.

I’ve not been back to Pointe-Claire library since her death 5 years go. A place I spent thousands of hours in, growing up.

“So, how’ve you been doing? Whatcha been up to? What’s going on in your life lately? Anything? Nothing?!”

Oh, nothing much, just the usual weeping whenever I hear a piece of music I strongly associate with my mother. That’s all.


Here is a recording of Rachmaninoff’s 2nd piano concerto. Although Arthur Rubinstein is primarily known for his Chopin, he does a brilliant job. Jack the volume up, make sure you have surround sound, and enjoy.

 

 

My current soul twin is a 22yr old

Because I’m mature like that.

Local talent deserves to be celebrated. Introducing Charlotte Cardin, a 22yr-old bilingual Montrealer, that must take the music world by storm. That voice – just listen to her live audition here.

 

Not gonna lie, I’ve been listening to this particular song on loop recently. The lyrics are on point. Doing a bit better, especially after getting one of Coach’s amazing talking-tos last week – I’m behind in my blogging, hope to get that one done by the weekend. Meanwhile, work is keeping me busy, getting me reacquainted with Career Vanilla, who has been MIA since returning from France this summer, too exhausted and sad to make an appearance.

I’m gonna be ok.

5 years ago my life changed

Anniversaries. I’m not the best at taking the time to celebrate those people and moments that matter. I forget, caught up in the current of every day triviality.


May 2012: I blew out my knee in kickboxing. Diagnosis: crutches and cane for 3 months + 9-months of daily physio to recover, with the possibility I’d never kickbox again. My identity as a cripple: confirmed.

July 2012: my mother died in her sleep. The depression I’d been fighting off since summer 2011 exploded with full force. I was a broken person. Drifting from day to day in a fog of misery.

Fall 2012: Superwoman suggested that I join the boxing gym she’d just discovered. It would allow me to work on my boxing skills, avoid losing too much of my fitness, keep me distracted through the long months of physio and rehab. I agreed to show up for one class. Limping down the staircase, hearing the sounds of the ring bell, the thuds of the punching bags, and the coolest trap music I’d ever heard, I felt like I was coming home – odd, considering that this was an environment in which I, crippled vanilla AF nerdy accountant, did not belong.

For the first year or so, I trained with Coach’s younger brother Slick, a pro-boxer and a coach in his own right. Slick did not have the time to impart much boxing knowledge on me, because he spent all his time trying to get me to work on my mental and emotional state. We didn’t use the word “depression”, but he could see I was not well. He made me do pushups every time I said something negative or mean about myself, even if it was funny. He encouraged me to read James Allen’s As a Man Thinketh:

“Doubt and fear are the great enemies of knowledge, and he who encourages them, who does not slay them, thwarts himself at every step.”

“Men imagine that thought can be kept secret, but it cannot; it rapidly crystallizes into habit, and habit solidifies into circumstance.”

“As the physically weak man can make himself strong by careful and patient training, so the man of weak thoughts, can make them strong by exercising himself in right thinking.”

Slick turned my whole worldview upside down. 2 years later, when I started therapy, I chose an expert in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: “guided by empirical research, CBT focuses on the development of personal coping strategies that target solving current problems and changing unhelpful patterns in cognitions (e.g. thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes), behaviors, and emotional regulation.”


By late 2013, I joined Coach’s team. In 2014, I fought my first fights.

In August 2014, I slid into the most terrifying depressive episode I’ve ever experienced. Overnight, I transformed from a fighter into a fragile girl who would cry for 3-5 hours a day. Coach didn’t understand, but he could see. Scary Coach became Gentle Coach. The team accepted my quirks, and continued to cheer me on every time I stepped into the ring. They didn’t know the particulars of my struggle, but they could recognize someone fighting the good fight of life.

Boxing is an unforgiving sport. By stepping into the ring, every boxer tacitly accepts to show their true self to their opponent, coach and whoever is watching. You can’t mask cowardice or fake bravery when getting punched in the head. Every hesitation, fear, bluster and cockiness is blatantly obvious to anyone who watches. There IS no socially constructed mask to hide behind. To step into the ring, every boxer, no matter their level of experience and proficiency, has to be willing to be vulnerable, and to be seen. As such, I’ve noticed that most people at the gym don’t cling so tightly to their social personas – there is no point, when we’ve all seen their true colors in the ring. As a result, everyone is more authentic at the gym than they otherwise might be. Vulnerability + authenticity = key ingredients for friendship.

By the end of 2015, I knew. These people were family.


2016. A transition year. I joined Coach’s new project, weight-lifting and conditioning designed for athletes, specifically boxers. The immediate benefits were weight-loss and a changed body shape. For the first time in my life, in my 30s, I wondered: maybe, sometimes, I might be beautiful, possibly sexy. For someone who struggled with eating disorders (binge-eating until I was nauseous and abusing laxatives) during my late teens and my twenties, the gradual silencing of the vicious body-shaming voices in my head was an unexpected liberation.

Even better? Thanks to Coach’s extensive knowledge, patience and careful coaching, I shed, permanently, the lifelong identity of a cripple, of inhabiting a body that betrays me. I am athletic. I used to be embarrassed to admit I boxed, as though somehow associating myself – me – with that sport was arrogant. Not anymore. I was a boxer.

I understood what life lessons this sport was teaching me. It taught me that I can take a hit and still keep moving forward. It taught me that I can fight back. It taught me to own all of who I am: sweet Vanilla and angry Vanilla. It taught me that who and what I am is worth fighting for. It taught me not to wait for any saviors: I alone dictate my destiny, through my actions.

I understood why I needed to move onto dancing. Saying goodbye to this sport was hard, but necessary.

I kept training with Coach (aka Dr. Booté). I kept partying with my boxing peeps, with hilarious results (please refer to exhibit A and exhibit B). The friendships are still strong.


2017. This year was hard. Life, my shadow, got in the way of my joy. I drifted from the gym. But when things got too confusing, too overwhelming, like a homing pigeon, I made my way back. Sure enough, Coach and my crew were waiting for me.


How do you celebrate a place that has shaped my very identity, freed me of decade-long insecurities, given me deep and constant friendships, keeps me sane, gives me the tools to face life as an adult?

How do you celebrate family?

#udnation

#udfamily

 

 

The D has arrived

Update on my funk/shadow situation: I’m ok-ish. Not getting worse or better, just meh. Treading water. I appear functional to the outsider: I make it to work every day, I am mostly delivering on my projects, I smile, laugh and occasionally have a sense of humor. But there is a huge cost to appearing so normal: I am permanently exhausted, my concentration is nowhere where it should be, I’m apathetic about my career, friends, blogging and dancing. I require a lot of naps and time-outs. But I know that as long as I am patient and persistent, eventually this cloud of grey through which I see the world will fade, and bit by bit the colors of the world will reappear. In the past, I used to feel shame of how I was wasting my life, drifting aimlessly. Now, I understand that this is the cost of depression: delayed career goals due to unrealized potential, strained friendships, and loneliness because I am in no state to meet anyone, practice vulnerability, and take risks. It is too bad, it is slightly unfair, but the Universe loves to dish out shit to everyone, and this is my particular cross to bear. There is no point feeling shame, or beating myself up. I am trying my best, I refuse to give up on the dream of one day achieving happiness, and that tenacity is something I should be proud of.

Part of taking care of myself has involves training at my boxing gym with Coach aka Dr. Booté. The vibe and the friendships run deep. One of these friendships is with TooWhite, a mini-me: with skin that is blinding in its whiteness, she is a 25 yr old kickass smart accountant that struggles with similar insecurities to mine. I feel very protective towards her, like a mentor professionally and personally. Yet she can squat 250lbs, has the best taste in trap music ever and is infinitely cooler than I will ever be. My little gym-bae. Soon after resuming regular training at the gym in August, I texted TooWhite admitting how much I’d missed the gym & Coach.

Isn’t she the cutest? She’s the cutest. #squad

The past 2 weeks have been very hectic, causing me to miss 2 workouts because of Canadian Thanksgiving and because I had another show on Thursday night. I missed my dose of TooWhite. When I showed up to the gym on Saturday, at the front desk was one of TooWhite’s close friends, J-dawg (he’s badass by association). Even though I’d had two coffees at that point, my brain clearly was not awake:

Hey! Long time no see! Is TooWhite already here? Yeah? She is! Sweet. Imma go get changed, but meanwhile can you tell her her D has arrived?

J-dawg blinked. I realized what I had just said. I stammered an explanation, “I’m her D, as in the letter, not as in the male genital, because you know, I’m a woman and all, and even if I wasn’t I would be broadcasting the intimate nature of our relationship, if any. D as in #squad, oh god, I’m not making this better, am I?” TooWhite’s friend solemnly promised me he’d pass along the message. When I strolled into the weight-lifting room 3 minutes later, I found him & TooWhite uncontrollably giggling. I’m a walking eggplant emoji, apparently.

#squaD

Recap of various vanilla Vanilla highlights at the gym: