Monday, January 30, 2012

It Spins Madly

The following life story is the next in the series of our life we have been writing. If you  haven't read the previous ones you can locate them here:

At the start of 2010 things we’re already beginning to feel off for The Other Girl, she couldn’t put her finger on it.

She went about her duties, trying to keep her catering business afloat, taking care of the house,   and planning a trip to the Bahamas, during the week of Valentine's Day, with Significant Other and some friends; including TNB (The Non-Bestie), The Other Girl's best friend, and her then-boyfriend. The Other Girl and TNB knew a local musician, an acquaintance of The Other Girl’s ex, Talented Boyfriend. The musician owned a house on one of the islands in the Bahamas and was giving us a great deal on a week and a half rental, so the trip would be a little more affordable. Funds were beginning to become tight at home because of the catering business, so The Other Girl got us a temporary job handing out samples in various grocery stores for a promotions company, the couple weeks leading up to our trip.

Since The Other Girls vehicle had quit working in October of the previous year, after driving it hard as a messenger/courier, we had no desire to fix it. She rented vans for catering jobs, and hardly left the house other than that, so we were getting rides or borrowing Significant Others vehicle when needed.

His job had decreased his hours to only four a day, which was part of the reason for getting a job outside the house, to make extra money for the vacation, to supplement the decrease in his income.  It seemed to work out because Significant Other got off work so early some days that she didn’t have to wait for him to pick her up, he’d come to the grocery store and wander around until the shift was over, and help pack up the sample stand. He always preferring to drop her off and pick her up. A couple of days she asked if she could drop him off at work instead, and borrow the car. He seemed unusually leery to do so, we thought it odd, but then shrugged it off when he agreed.

Before we knew it we were in the Bahamas, it was the second day and was a late night on the balcony of the house we had rented, hanging out and having a few drinks with TNB and her boyfriend. They got into a bit of an argument, which they were prone to do, and Significant Other and The Other Girl resigned to their bedroom.

They lay awake in the small double bed, starring at the ceiling, trying to ignore the argument. The night was quit on the island, and sounds traveled easily through the cool air. They lay and talked, mostly about what was going on outside.

“I have something to tell you” Significant Other whispered to The Other Girl.

Right away we were on high alert. The first thought was that he had cheated, had an affair, it seemed the natural conclusion, but then, he loved her, he loved us. The Other Girl was his first girlfriend, he was crazy about her. The thought he had cheated didn't last long.

“What.” she said, after a few moments, with breath bated, mind still trying to solve the mystery.

“You know the last couple of weeks, when I’ve been going to work?” he asked, pausing. She could tell it was hard for him to say whatever he wanted to tell her. “I haven’t been going to work." He paused. "I was fired. Two weeks ago.”

The activity in the brain at that point was on several tracks. How do you react to that? He had been telling her he was going to work every day for two weeks. Where had he been going? Why was he fired? How should we handle this? And, bills. Don’t yell.

“Why were you fired?” she asked calmly, all the while thinking about him having to try to find another job, not being able to pay his part of the bills again. Thinking about the over six months he had lived in her house rent free, while finishing culinary school, working, yet saving no money, spending it all on cigarettes, pot and beer. His lying to her.

He went on to tell the story of how a patron of the restaurant where he worked had been behind the building (it was in a park, so it was not uncommon for people to be walking all around it) and had seen a couple of the employees smoking pot. The patrons wrote a letter to the manager to express their disgust. When the manager brought all the suspects in for questioning, individually, despite not knowing if it was him for sure, but knowing that he has indeed smoked pot behind the building, he took the rap for it.

He was fired on the spot. The manager had not wanted to do it, the staff was saddened, he was a good employee, but the higher ups had the last say in this manner; even though he had been honest. Of the three employees the patron claimed to have seen, Significant Other had been the only one to admit to the deed.

The days The Other Girl had dropped him off at work he would go in the back door, wait for her to leave the parking lot, and then catch a bus, riding it around the city for the duration of his shift. Some days he would go to a local diner and sit and stare out the window, trying to figure out how he would tell The Other Girl what had happened.

We told him we were not angry, we weren’t. We told him we were disappointed. We were. We asked him how we were supposed to trust him if it took him this long to admit something fairly small to us. She told him if he ever got fired for drug use again, it was over. The whole thing was unacceptable. She did not yell.

A fault line was created in the relationship.

The next morning we were comatose, stunned…numb. It was visible to our female friends. The reality had set in, the lying, the sneakiness, we still were not angry. We were sad.
In the end telling us on the second day of our vacation, was probably not the best course of action. It would have been better to tell her right away, obviously. The Other Girl was not prepared financially to pay for us, and him, when going out to eat or partaking in activities. The deep sea fishing we had been so excited to take part in, was forgotten in lieu of splitting the money between two people, instead of just us; while our friends went out to restaurants on the island, we hung back at the house and made low-cost meals.

The trip itself was okay, the weather was colder than it had been since the 1970’s, so we spent a lot of time in our favourite hoodie and sweatpants, enjoying the ocean as much as we could, other times it sprayed sand like a sandblaster and we were unable to enjoy it. We had time to read what has become the book that inspired us to write about our lives, The Glass Castle by Jeannette Wall. We took beautiful photos of the island, and had some fun times with friends; but going back home meant going back to some tight times, with a man we felt untrustworthy.

Around this time Standby had broken up with his girlfriend, a woman The Other Girl had pushed him to keep dating after he talked with her about the woman's alcohol abuse and some mental health problems, we had encouraged him to be open about it with her, and they had dated for almost two year, but in the end the relationship ended badly, and then later even worse.

The Other Girl had started hanging out with Standby a little bit more, again, since he had bought a house over the course of the previous year near our neighbourhood, a ten minute bike ride, and she had missed his friendship. On one occasion in late spring she started feeling tempted by old feelings forhim, and he for her, but she refused to let anything happen because she/we cared about Significant Other, and we did not want to betray him be having an affair.

Continuing to hold hope that the catering business would take off, The Other Girl spent time researching some volunteer opportunities in the city and contacted a local non-profit to inquire about kitchen positions. They were looking for a volunteer a couple of hours a week for a nutrition based children’s program, The Other Girl liked kids, and we had studied nutrition in University (2004-2005). She went to observe the program and at the end of the hour she agreed she would take the position. The next week she went back, at the end of the program the Director informed her that they were going to be hiring someone for the job, a paying position, and asked if she would be interested in submitting her resume. The next day she had an interview and within 24 hours we were hired. We had never done this kind ofwork before, and The Other Girl was excited to be working for a non-profit organization. We had studied the sector in University several years before (2003-2004). On our first day of the job we were introduced to the General Manager of the organization, later known in our blog writing by many nicknames, the most well know, Fuck Face.

Two weeks following getting hired they added another day of work, they liked our work ethic, and they liked how The Other Girl worked with the people. We were now in charge of “food shelf” duties. Paid work two days a week, it wasn’t much, but it was enough. It was just enough to make ends meet, our house being paid off, we were splitting meagre expenses with Significant Other who had gotten a job serving at a local chain restaurant.

We decided to close down our catering businesses shortly after, and about a week later they gave us four days of work, they wanted to give us five, but The Other Girl knew we were already pushing it, re-entering the work force, dealing with people, too fast. In June 2010 we started writing our blog, slowly at first, and not about anything in particular in the front end, mostly opinion pieces about current events the Gulf oil spill, a paper on the dangerof high fructose corn syrup, importing some old University papers, and writing some random fun stuffdipping our toes in the pool of blogging, so to speak. We’d never tried it before. The Other Girl wrote more personal stuff on a page she called her journal, accessible by readers, but never promoted, a place where she unraveled, tried to make sense of what was going on. Not many people read it, even though everyone she knew had the blog address, and she was okay with that.

A month later our job at work was now a variety of duties, including cooking, the staff member in their previously was going on maternity leave. A month after that The Other Girl and Fuck Face interviewed, and hired, a permanent cook, so that we could be food services manager, and run other programs. In the end we hired an amazing, brilliant and eccentric woman who most of our readers know as Fabulous Person.

TNB and her Boyfriend broke up that summer, they had been together around two years; everyone knew it was coming, so it was not shocking. The Other Girl was roused from sleep one morning, TNB needed help moving out, and she needed help NOW. We were there immediately. It was turbulent, he wasn’t a nice man, prone to violent outbursts, and he hated us (as have many boyfriends of female friends in the past), and so it was a stressful weekend. After that we started spending a lot more time with TNB, it had already gotten to the point where if one was at event without the other, it was commented on. She was The Other Girls’ best friend, she loved her dearly. Would have done anything for  her.

For our 31st birthday we took our second trip to Vegas, going for the weekend with TNB, and The Other Non-Bestie (TONB) our best male friend, and another female friend. After a weekend of continuous drinking, 8 hours of sleep and a days worth of meals spread over three and a half days, strung out on red bull and vodka, we arrived back to the city to work for two days before we left to TONB’s lake cabin, where we spent the next three days drinking, celebrating our birthday with friends, and wandering on a dirt road, the night of our birthday, staring up at the giant mood, high on shrooms. Not being prone to feeling the effects of drugs very much, all we experienced was a strong desire to be outdoors, under the sky, and be nowhere near the cabin full of people. It was the start of a downward spiral.

Because Significant Other had to work so much he very rarely made it out to party with The Other Girl, and her friends. She was fine with this; we had been growing apart from him ever since that trip to the Bahamas. We partied through the summer like we were in our 20’s, every weekend drinking with our friends, away from the relationship, now that we no longer had to be his designated driver all of time like in the past.

The Other Girl had time to think, about Significant Other, about us and her, she was hearing from Frank that she needed to start on a path, she fought it – she fought it for what ended up being many many months. We found his inability to manage his money, his inability to hold his drink, the sheer immaturity, he was 5 years younger, was too much; he got fired for drug use, after having promised us he wouldn't do it at work anymore; he was too much work, emotionally and mentally.

In August, after celebrating her 31st birthday, The Other Girl broke up with Significant Other. It took three times telling him it was over before he understood what was going on. It was one of the hardest things we’ve ever had to do, we didn't all agree with the decision 100%, but it was what was best, for us. We cared about him. Finally at the end of August he understood fully and moved out, moving in with his mother.

Over the next month we would talk occasionally with Significant Other, now our ex, he was always trying to find a way to get back together with us. He’d come over and smoke pot, and play Mario Kart with us, have dinner. He started trying to take better care of his appearance; he told us he was trying to quit smoking. One day we heard a knock on the door and when we opened it he was leaning against his car holding a boombox, playing Peter Gabriel’s In Your Eyes, from his car stereo (because his boom box was broken) in the style of John Cusack from a film he knew The Other Girl had always loved, ‘Say Anything’. It was touching. It was also too late. It became awkward trying to stay friends, and we had to end our communication with him.

September we also decided that the house we owned was too large, and too much work, to stay in ourselves through the winter, even though we had done most of the caretaking in the first place. We really needed a change. The Other Girl decided to rent it out and move into a small apartment in an area of the city that she had always wanted to live in, which was only about a fifteen minute walk to and from work. We loved it.

We called on our friends to help us move, but they were all busy, so we rented a van and took several trips moving our belonging from our house to our new small apartment on our own. The Other Girl had started to feel even more off, weaker, fragile; we had spent weeks cleaning and packing and looking for an apartment that would accept us – not being a resident of the country where we lived made it hard. We were stressed, we were sore, on the brink of a breakdown. Pulling some boxes out of the van in the alley of the building, a container of poker chips tumbled out of the van and scattered onto the pavement. On her knees she bent to collect them and started to weep, on all fours she picked up all the poker chips, tears spilling out on the concrete. Stressed.  Feeling alone with all of us.

Sometime in October The Other Girl signed us up for online dating on Plenty of Fish, we wrote about some of the men we met and went on dates with in the blog during that time. It was a strange adventure. We were not looking for a relationship, merely dating. We couldn’t stomach the idea of ending up having to share our space, and have The Other Girl force us to take care of someone else. We did what we never did before, and just dated for the sake of dating. With the constant alone time we desired, and nobody to take care of. Three weeks into living on our own and we were hooked on the idea of staying single as long as possible.

Significant Other still tried to win us back, showing up where we were on weekend. One time he showed up at the house while we were there working with The Plumber that The Other Girl had hired to fix some things before we rented it out; The Plumber who later asked us on a date after our first meeting, and who we wrote about several times in our blog. Significant Other put two-and-two together one day when he showed up at the house while we were working on it, after seeing the plumber’s van parked outside of our apartment. He spewed anger and pain at us, insinuating how we were paying the plumber for services, even though in reality we had kept the business separate from "the rest".

Immediately following the altercation he started calling us constantly, for the entire day he would call, yell at us and hanging up, threatening us, calling us names, leaving voice messages when we wouldn’t pick up the phone. He parked outside our new apartment building and honked his horn at the building, stalked us. He showed up at friends houses, people who were not his friends any longer, and cried to them, talked to them. We finally threatened to call the police, and contacted his father and brother to get him to leave us alone. 
He was being totally uncharacteristic. We were the first woman to break his heart. He had lost his mind. 

October we partied hard, and started using different street drugs, it was an escape plan for The Other Girl. We were still smoking load of pot each day, to ease back pain and stop our brain from running full-tilt  – we had not yet began drinking daily - and on the weekend we added to it tabs of Ecstasy/MDMA and loads of alcohol.

While the effects of these drugs were pretty mild to us, as most drugs are, we enjoyed the happy feeling they gave us. Our experimentation with them was short lived. The weekends that had included them, mixed with drinking and smoking pot, led to some very unwise behaviour; strange encounters with foreign men picked up in downtown bars, leading to hotel rooms and being lost in our own city; sexual encounters with male friends that eroded our relationships with them, and others; lots of lost jewelry and memories. In later months we would apologize to a female friend who we had pushed to take the drugs with us one night, knowing that she had a bad drug-related past. We became our worst nightmare. The Other Girl was trying to kill us.
 It turned us into bad people in our own eyes, desperate, a ghost of ourselves. We started losing even more weight; we started to withdraw from our friendships...and our drinking picked up.

At work we found a haven, we got promoted as Social Media Manager and Food Service Coordinator, most of us felt normal much of the time we were there, The Other Girl loved our job. We developed a friendship with Fuck Face, our General Manager, and Fabulous Person and her daughter (known in writing, as a pair, as Fabulous People). 

One of us started to develop feelings for Fuck Face, our friendship with him growing. We started going out for drinks with him after work, chatting over glasses of wine and beer. He found him fascinatingly bitter. He took an interest in our life, in our dating stories from the weekends, he got a kick out of our attitude towards men, and he started reading our blog, though we didn’t know it at the time. (when we started writing this blog the name that appears on our legal ID’s was used to register it, and it was attached to a Facebook account with the same name…not hard for people to find)

We started to have sexual dreams about him and we would hint to him about it, grinning slyly. After a couple weeks he would say he had dreams about us too. We began to flirt heavily, enjoying each other’s friendship and company, the tension escalated for months, leading into December. But that’s for another portion of writing, not for this one.

Even as one of us developed feelings for Fuck Face, and we were going out on dates (we did not sleep with every man we went on a date with, just so we are being clear here), The Other Girl was developing a relationship with Standby. She disliked Fuck Face, even though we were drawn to him.

During the end of 2010 there was, and is, a lot of confusion, since most of what was ending up on this blog was about dating and men, and very little about what was going on in our head, much of The Other Girls memories, much of what she was feeling eludes us, she stopped writing in the journal part of the blog on a regular basis, and so we have no way to know.

What we do know is that due to some blood work that had concerned her, that had caused her to call The Mother and cry, and due to some things she was finding increasingly strange, about herself, she took consol with a woman we worked with, EB. 

The Other Girl sat in an office with EB one day and poured out to her/our history of mental health problems, the concerns about some blood work that was requiring re-testing, blood work that would have shown a protein that, if showed the second time, would indicate a problem in her brain that would eventually cause dementia. She also shared her concerns about what had been going on with her the last couple of months, her inability to feel she had control things that she said, and some of the things she did, that she felt were uncharacteristic of her, which would later cause her to sit at home for hours and berate herself, and question what the hell was going on, while trying to replay the day’s events. Her inability to remember as much as she used to. She was scared.

She talked to Standby about it and he didn't seem concerned. She talked to TNB about it before going out to dinner on New Years Ever - they were double dating, her with her new boyfriend, and us with Standby - and was met with casual disinterest, not surprising because the friendship had become strained over the months, also a story for another day.

At the beginning of 2011 the results of the blood panel came back and the results were fine, but everything else about The Other Girls life was about to spin madly out of control.
------------------------------------Added January 31, 2012:
What was omitted in the entry about 2010 was the decision to go off of our antidepressant  (Welbutrin) medication in June, 2010, which we had been on for nearly ten years, after several previous attempts. We have now been completely medication free for over a year and a half.
Also not mentioned was the creation of our Twitter account, linked to this blog, which at the time were both attached to the name that appears on our birth certificate, in October 2010.

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