Struggling

Despite intending to, I haven’t been doing much writing lately. At the beginning of the pandemic the world felt very chaotic, but I was doing okay. I was (and still am) grateful for my safe home to quarantine in, and my ability to work from home exclusively until things were calmer. I was settling into a new routine and things felt like they were reasonably under control.

Since George Floyd was killed in May, I’ve felt a lot less like things are reasonably under control. The US has broken out into the most intense social unrest that I can remember, and with the presidential election just six weeks away I feel like no matter what the results are that things are going to get immediately worse here. I’ve tried to do my part to learn and listen, and I feel like I have a better understanding than I ever did of systematic racism and just how much it plays a part in every aspect of daily life, from its implications in healthcare to education to housing. It feels like no amount of reform will fix an entire society built on a foundation of inequality, but how do we tear it all down and start over? The enormity of it overwhelms me. I realize now that I was able to grow up blissfully ignorant of all of this because I am white and I’m struggling with this knowledge and upset that those in charge of educating me participated in such blatant whitewashing (whether they knew they were doing it or not). I’ve tried to do my part by donating to organizations that are working to help and by speaking up, which has brought me closer to some people and pushed me farther apart from others.

I’ve lost a lovely friend I met at Zumba class to cancer, and former coworkers to COVID and to suicide. There were no funerals for them because of the pandemic and even though attending a funeral is not high on the list of things I would ever say I “want” to do it would have been nice to be able to say goodbye to them among other friends and loved ones.

I worry about people I love whose mental health is suffering from all that has happened so far this year, while I can feel my own declining as the months pass. I don’t exactly know what to do about it. I try not to vent too much or complain too much because honestly, I know how lucky I am to be in the position I am in and so many have it far worse than I do, so what am I feeling so low about? I I know all of the tricks and tools to work through anxiety, it’s just hard when it feels like I can’t even take a breath before the next crazy thing happens.

For most of last week we were shut in our house with the windows closed because of the wildfires raging across most of the west coast. Not being able to go outside or breathe fresh air was very draining to me. I went to bed a couple of nights ago and as I was trying to fall asleep I found myself abruptly feeling incredibly angry. Nothing provoked it, I was just lying in my bed, but I suddenly felt enraged and I had no idea why which just added confusion to the anger. And below all of it was guilt for being so upset when in truth I was so fortunate that I was safe and that no fires were threatening my home. It could be so much worse….but of course, that doesn’t mean it’s good.

Our oldest cat, Oliver, is having health issues again and it makes me so sad. My sassy orange kitty, who once weighed upwards of twenty pounds with an attitude roughly the same size as his body, is as feisty as ever but continues to decline physically. He is barely ten pounds and is skin and bones. He had his teeth cleaned last week and the vet expressed concerns to me about how frail Oliver looks these days. We do blood work which keeps coming back relatively normal and we have no real answers about what’s causing his weight loss but if he continues to decline I worry that we won’t have him that much longer. He’s fourteen, not a young cat by any means, but he’s been in my life since he was around six weeks old and the thought of losing him breaks my heart. I’m just so grateful that I’ve gotten to be home more and spend more time with him, even though I would never have wished for this pandemic and I am not happy it has happened.

I miss the outlets for stress that I used to have, especially dance class. It used to help so much to go spend an hour dancing with positive, amazing women and that time always helped me feel better about everything in life, no matter what was going on. But I cancelled my gym membership when the gym reopened in August because I just don’t feel comfortable going back in the middle of a pandemic, and with the way things are going I know that isn’t going to change anytime soon. But oh how I miss it.

I feel overwhelmed and I feel guilty that I feel overwhelmed. I’m trying to focus on the good in my life and take comfort in that.

Resting Busted Face

I feel like there are quite a few things that older people could tell younger people to save them lots of trouble in life, but that for some reason or another pearls of wisdom are hoarded from the youth who are forced to make these discoveries for themselves.  One of these such things that nobody warns you about (or at least that nobody warned ME about) is that you will face stormy waters ahead if you don’t sort your skincare regimen early on in life.

I was a lucky little lass in high school: my face remained fairly clear, in spite of the fact that my go-to makeup routine consisted of a Covergirl compact of pressed powder and eyeshadow that was usually either purple or white (ahh the 90s) combined with washing my face by swiping at it with a washcloth in the shower. I feel like instead of making me take PE from the cheerleading coach, which did not really enhance my existence in any way although it seemed to give her an opportunity to try out routines with the high school’s less-coordinated students, someone should have been educating me on actually caring for my skin properly so that I would have a jumpstart on things and my face would not end up looking like an elephant’s ankle by the time I hit my thirties.

I did learn mildly better habits in my twenties, such as occasionally remembering to take off my makeup at the end of the day and semi-frequently wearing a moisturizer with sunscreen, but this slightly higher attention paid to my skin did not save me from the hell that awaited me once I reached my thirties. Seemingly overnight, my once-oily skin dried out faster than Liza Minnelli after checking into the Betty Ford Center. Cosmetics that had at one time masked flaws now made me resemble a bridge troll and I had to get bangs to hide the fact that my forehead was perpetually peeling.

I took to the Internet to research remedies for my problems. After reading far too many articles online and wasting a ton of money on products that weren’t helping me at all, I called in the help of a professional and made an appointment for a facial. While shining a bright light over my face and gazing deep into my pores (sigh, how romantic), the esthetician asked questions about my normal skincare routine and what products I was using. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I was working with a strong cocktail of moisturizer and makeup removal wipes from the Walgreens, so I just told her that I was looking for something new now that my face seemed to have completely flipped the script on me.

Fast forward a year, and I now have special day and evening moisturizers, a face wash that’s different from the face wash I use on the days that I use my Clarisonic, and recurring monthly appointments to visit the esthetician. It sounds like a lot, but I feel like the extra money and effort is worth it to be able to go out in public without wearing a bag on my head.

Youngsters, consider yourselves warned. Take care of your faces.