I Should Take a Day Off

Cassidy.Marie.Rose
October 12, 2017

I wrote the below essay when I was desperately trying to get the most out of a little free time. When we have a day off, are we truly able to shut down? This isn’t just for parents, but anyone who has trouble truly putting their mind in a relaxed state. 

I am taking a few hours off, I decide. From everything. I am ignoring the pile of dishes that beg for my attention like my absent toddlers. All these things ring in my head like the distant church bell echoing the words, “should, should, should” But guilt is always in my atmosphere. I should update my calendar, I should watch this show, and I should clean my room. My TV is stuck on the Netflix screen saver in all its glorious temptation of shows that reach for my legs to trap me like quick sand onto my couch. I hear Jackson’s little voice interpreting the show previews, as he often does. Orange is the New Black: look at all those doctors. The Crown: The princess is looking at a helicopter. House of Cards: Those guys are monsters. Fuller House: they are having a picnic and need another dog. Luke Cage: He is trying to get through the window. But Jackson isn’t home right now, and I really don’t want to watch TV.

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The Uncomfortable Monster

Cassidy.Marie.Rose
July 5, 2017

I live in this haze of memory and future fear, feeding the monster.

That is how anxiety works, it is the monster that lives inside of me. It scares me into two corners of past and future and get stuck there, unstuck from this present moment. The monster creates “to-do” lists and completion checks. Then it slides me into depression like the ocean waves hitting the sand it curls around me as I distantly get caught up in my own thoughts and worries. Everything becomes a reminder of the future – the things I should be doing- the mother, woman and human that I should be. It dictates my shame and tells me dreams don’t count unless they have financial value. Suddenly title, whether a book or job title, matter more and important things are only measured in currency. And I retreat into absence.

So I have been noticeably absent lately.

Absent from my writing, my goals or even my persistence. It is easy to do. I have been battling a case of seasonal anxiety. It is a lot like allergies. There is the mental fog, pressure, pushing against the brim of my nose until it itches. The uncomfortable itch of allergies pressing from my cheeks to the whites of my eyes. They begin to water. Something isn’t right. I desperately want to sneeze, to release. My nose begins to water, trying to drip in sync with the tears that slide down my face and brush a salty glaze onto the corner of my lips. I am in full bloom anxiety season. Medicine is my first instinct. It could unclog some of the pressure on my face, slowing down the need to sneeze (release) and the need to cry. But it puts me in a fog, a haze, like trying to see out of the front window of my car through a film of pollen disposed from the trees. Just like allergies, there is no magic solution for the pressure. In the midst of this anxiety season I am working harder on coping techniques. But pills, like coping techniques, only work when I take them everyday like a routine.

There are also bad coping techniques

Self pity fills my eyes with tears. I blame myself, then I blame others. They are too demanding, or distant or unable to give me the answer i want to hear. Or they are struggling their way through anxiety season as well. I look at the pages I just wrote. The only friend that listens completely to my words, and becomes them. I sneeze on the pages. First there was the itching, then the pressure that squeezed the brim of my nose. Look at the light. I have been told. So I stare right into the bright side and sneeze beautifully onto my blank journal page. I am finally able to fill my lungs with oxygen and see the entire portrait

Writing is my strongest weapon against the monster

I have always known I need to write. I call it a lot of things, my dream, my passion, my saving grace. It is the release of the words and thoughts that are swirling around my head like magnets on a refrigerator. When I write, I can organize, control and beautify them. My pen is my armor and my sword. Sometimes other people read and relate and I get high on that feeling, that connection. Sometimes I get high on my own words, like an artist who just painted a masterpiece.

So I just keep writing.

Easing my future, calming my past and keeping the anxiety monster under my bed.

** drawing by my amazing daughter. I asked for a cute little monster to personify my anxiety. She added the goat characteristics because “goats always look anxious”

Cassidy.Marie.Rose
June 15, 2017

The sweat. It is wet, hot, and a newfound uncomfortable that is becoming associated with running in the summer time sun. It tickles down my back, like a monster’s hot tongue, slowly licking between my shoulder blades, then on my forehead and pooling up to drip down my temples.

I keep running despite the discomfort

I imagine my legs could just give out at any second and press the souls of my shoes into the ground more firmly then I am used to as I steady my pace. The sun has been following closely behind me and occasionally reaches out touch my shoulders, burning them. I push up a hill, the dreaded incline. It is a test of how much heat my run can handle. The sun illuminates the path around me like a spotlight on my journey. Up the hill, in a small celebration of victory I steady my pace, once again feeling the pressure in my calves releasing and my mind resting. Through the pain and the heat, I can still feel that sense of peace.

And that is what keeps me going.

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The Middle

Cassidy.Marie.Rose
May 18, 2017

(notes on a work in progress)

I am at work, juicing citrus, part of a new normal I could have hardly imagined one year ago. I am in the middle of prepping for a shift when it hit me –suddenly, I always feel like I am in the middle of something. Every once in a while, I get into a perfect grove. But today, a tiny paper cut on my middle finger is reminding me that citrus is not my friend. I try not to let the little springs of juice touch my finger. A sharp sting tells me I am not successful. There are always tiny scrapes on my mom hands. From attempting to put a hat on a Lego during their pleading screams, both of us fearful that it cannot be done. (Since it can’t) to pulling a special toy out of a nook and scraping my hands along the uneven ridges of cheaply made storage furniture. I suffer through this, my least favorite part of the job, squeezing limes and calculating how many margaritas this evening will bring. Once the bottle is filled with sour liquid, I pull out a piece of masking tape and mark the date. I think of my grandparent’s basement. The tools, the pens, paper, safety pins, thread: all of life’s potential clutter was always neatly organized and categorized by markers and masking tape – the weapon of the obsessive compulsive, the organized. After a memory-filtered tour of my grandparents’ house through childhood-coated glasses, I am jolted back to real life. Back to the citrus soaked bar fingers and back to this informal midway process of nearly everything in my life. I imagine sitting between two strangers on the bus, claustrophobically placed in the middle by no fault of my own. They sat next to me, boxing me in. And that is where I feel I am right now.

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Blank Audience

Cassidy.Marie.Rose
March 17, 2017

My journal is open in my knit blanket covered lap. It is just another evening, all the things that may make this a Monday, but who knows anymore. My body is resting from the increasing time I spend behind the bar, pouring drinks, talking, running – fast on my feet and quick with my hands. With my pen, I am suddenly there. I look around the room, waiting for someone to eyeball summon me. This girl is telling a story. I don’t care to hear it, but I listen anyway like it is my job – to just listen. Other stories are swirling around like a mirage of conversation and small talk. Is it office politics or a Tinder date? It all meshes together after they drink enough whiskey, or after I do. Tomorrow is for shopping at Ikea but tonight is for eating pizza. A woman tells me to which I can only reply with unquestioning laughter. Two grad students chatter away about going to Iceland over spring break -because that is the new “it” destination. They clink their copper mule mugs together, to Iceland, to their youth. I pause to turn the page and I am back in my living room. I realize I am writing the same word, first in perfect cursive then in really neat print, audience. I am telling the story now and I am suddenly very aware of my audience.

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