50 things I know at midnight on a Monday.

  1. The sensation of not being able to breathe is extraordinarily unpleasant.
  2. Today I was driving and had to pull over to throw up.
  3. Then I wrote about it on Facebook and someone implied I might be pregnant and I was a huge huge huge douche about the whole thing.
  4. Mondays are my worst day. By Monday I’m about over.
  5. My bed is too small. Not enough space for my curled up self, and a person asleep next to me, and three cats, and a book. Jacob grew up in this bed. It’s painfully, claustrophobically small. 80% of the time I like it. I’ve always liked small spaces. It’s cozy. Lately I can’t stand it. It seems unfair to have to push the cats off when I want to read in bed. It seems unfair not to be able to read in bed. A lot of things seem unfair lately to the deepest parts of my soul.
  6. I spend a lot of time wondering how damaging it is to not listen to your deepest soul. Is it as bad as not flossing, or as bad as not brushing your teeth? Those are two very different sorts of damaging, it seems to me. Or is it even on that sort of a continuum. Not washing your face? Not changing your socks for five days?
  7. I also spend a lot of time marveling at how I’ve somehow managed to expand my soul into a whole building, and now I pay people to sort of inhabit my soul, and they are really good at it. And then people come and talk about my soul like it’s nothing, and some money gets exchanged, and after a while Jacob tells me I have to go to the bank TODAY, because this is RIDICULOUS. And that’s the state of my soul these days.
  8. I hate it when friends come to town. I spend my life aching for solitude. Interacting with out-of-towners just seems cruel. I love my friends, but I’m drowning over here. Literally. I can’t get air into my lungs. Literally.
  9. I have a lot to say about outfits I’ve worn, things I’ve bought that were not made in sweatshops, and things I’ve bought that were made in sweatshops.
  10. I have a lot of links to share with you. And photos.
  11. I will most likely never get to saying the things I want to say or sharing the things I want to share.
  12. I have to get over the feeling that if I don’t share those things I deserve the feeling of unease that gnaws at me. A blog is a blog is a blog.
  13. I feel I owe the world something, a lot. The world doesn’t feel the same, I need to remind myself. That feels better, when I remind myself. The world will keep spinning, whether or not you blog about how Costco carries more stuff made in the USA than you’d expect. It’s comforting.
  14. Except when the world seems to want a lot more than I feel like I can give it. More than I feel physically capable of extracting out of me.
  15. I started having the panic attacks when the stakes got so much higher. The business, she’s a real thing these days. There’s no going back now.
  16. How is someone who can only survive by being alone supposed to survive when she’s surrounded by 7 other people + customers all the time?
  17. Please. I’m asking you.
  18. I have all these “techniques.” We have “new plans.” We have “managers” and I have “new hours” and I’m open about it, and there is “dialogue” and these things all help. Truly.
  19. But at least once a week, usually on Mondays, I can’t breathe. If I can’t manage to escape the customers/handlers/employees/friends and somehow sneak out for dinner by myself with a book and a glass of wine by Monday, I know I’ll end up like I ended up tonight—on the floor of the bathroom, head against the toilet, weird animal sounds coming out of my throat. Panic attack, it’s called. I’ve learned a lot about them, because I read about them now on my phone late at night when I feel the panic rising. When the bed is so, so small. Hemmed in. I want to thrash my legs and arms until there’s nothing near my arms and legs. Freedom, as far as my legs can kick.
  20. Sometimes I think I’m staying still but I am actually thrashing. That is a strange sort of unconscious panic attack I’ve only experienced a few times. It really freaks out the person who shares the bed with you.
  21. One of the new managers—she’s perfect at the job, you guys. So great. I love her so much, truly. One of the new managers, she wants to work more of a 9-5 schedule. We’re trying it out. It sure makes the mornings easier. Usually everyone comes in at 11:30. Just thinking about it—just thinking about it right now—I start to feel the panic. I can’t bring myself to tell her the truth: if she’s there at nine, then I won’t get my quiet time in the mornings. There used to be some days when I could be alone in the shop in the mornings. Maybe just two days a week, but they helped a lot. I’d turn the lights on and just stand there for a minute, breathing in the quiet and the pleasure of what we’ve built. My heart beating fucking insane with joy. I’d make some tea, get my lists written, maybe even slip in a West Wing. It put me on the right track.
  22. That metaphor, “the right track”—it’s perfect. If things start of go off track, that’s when I get weird inside. It’s why I ended up puking on the side of the road today. I got lost going to Mohonk to deliver chocolates. Everyone in this town knows how to get to Mohonk. It’s a literal castle in the sky. The drive should have been a treat. The mountain, the air. But I was so obsessed with calculating that if I drove the whole way there and back 20 miles over the speed limit that I could have maybe half an hour by myself that I went up the mountain on the wrong road and ended up being 15 minutes late to work. I am not late to work. (When Jacob goes in with me we have this conversation every other day, both of us using different interpretations of the word “can’t”: Me: “Come on, we can’t be late to work.” Jacob: “We literally cannot be late to work.”). If you’re already in a weird place, it’s important to not do things you know will send you flying off the rails, like being late.
  23. As far as I can figure it, what’s happened is this: I’ve outsourced my own hands.
  24. To the best, most capable and gentle and wonderful people on the planet.
  25. But still. They’re my hands. And I want them back.
  26. Once Than and his friend what’s-her-name and my mom and Jacob and Maresa and Casey were all at the shop. Some of them working, some of them shooting a video of me making the peanut butter toffee bars, for kicks. My mom was doing that thing where she. just. stares. Suddenly I popped like a balloon. “EVERYONE HAS TO LEAVE THIS MINUTE. I HAVE TO BE ALONE. I CAN’T DO THIS. THIS IS NOT HOW IT WORKS. IT CAN’T WORK THIS WAY.” That’s the only time I’ve popped like that. I made amends for months. I’m sure my mom still hates me for it, just a bit. She writes these veiled stories about a creative hippie woman who is surprised to find herself with this career-driven uptight tense businesswoman for a daughter. She said after it, all huffy, “It’s OK, I know how you are.” Which I of course took to mean “= a monster” and everyone else I told the story to understood as “= a person needing solitude.”
  27. Then she sends her stories to me “for edits and thoughts” and even though they’re not as triggering as the time she sent me the novel about how she was raped over and over and over by my father—I still am not such a fan of the stories.
  28. About once a week I feel like screaming that everyone has to leave me alone, but I never will. When I popped like a balloon it was last summer and things were different then. Now we have serious employees, and I know I can’t let my feelings of suffocation get ahold of me. There is serious work to be done, and they all sorta look up to me or something, and I have to be a professional.
  29. I love the women who work in the shop—you understand, right?
  30. I just wasn’t made for this. But there is no turning back. I’m doing good work providing good jobs making good money creating goodwill living my beliefs being the change innovating learning growing and am excited about what’s to come. I can see a lot of good places this path can take me.
  31. So the fact that I can’t breathe once or twice a month, or once or twice a week: something’s gotta change in my soul, not in the building.
  32. The bed is so small and Jacob’s asleep so I have to be quiet. I can’t stand it, I never thought I’d live like this. I love him so much—you understand, right? It’s just that my need for solitude is this huge amaranthine ocean, this night sky full of bursting dead stars. I want to fall into it and float forever, in that heavy dark like when you wake up and the black air is velvet all around you and you realize you have endless more hours to sleep. Solitude is that sort of pleasure for me.
  33. We have our strategies, of course, he and I. Sixteen years, you learn some strategies along the way. But sometimes my hunger for seclusion just feels sad. I never want to be apart from him, I always crave him. But I know if I don’t fill up my bank of quiet hours to myself I will kill us both.
  34. Holding two opposing desires in your heart is how you know you’re a human being.
  35. There is nothing I hate more than being a human being.
  36. People come into the shop and I don’t even turn my back to say hello sometimes. I’m terrified they’re going to make me talk. I try to just smile and wave while one of the women I’m so grateful to I almost can’t stand it helps them with their chocolates, their questions, gracefully accepts their compliments and their money. That I can pay someone to be my mouth—that is mind-blowing. That never gets old, it’s a present I open 20-150 times a day, every time the doorbell jingles and I remember all over again—it’s the sensation of pulling on a velvety ribbon off a giant birthday box—that I don’t have to help that person.
  37. But then the shop is quiet again and I look at all their hands, doing my work, and it seems unfair.
  38. Let’s be honest here, at midnight on a Monday: I don’t miss washing dishes. I don’t miss sweeping the floor (though I still do it fairly often). I don’t even miss making peanut butter toffee bars.
  39. I just need hours and hours when no one’s around me for my mind to work right. One of the strategies is me having my own room in the back of the shop. I sort of have that already. But it’s not that. It’s that in order to focus and get my head screwed on properly, I need, like, physical distance from humanity.
  40. What works best is this: picking at a good meal, something soft in the background like The West Wing (Toby being angry puts me in my ideal headspace—I feel warm, cosseted, comfy. Everything is as it should be. [I repeat myself, I know I mention this about every other blog post. Sucks to be you.]). And nighttime. And knowing no one is nearby. Then, my mind works.
  41. Here’s what doesn’t work: 2 pm on a Monday, after the weekend (the weekend: someone taking my body in their palms and squeezing it just for the pleasure of hearing my bones crack. An imperfect metaphor, since at the end of it I am left with pockets full of cash.) X thinks maybe the chocolate is out of temper, Y wants to be shown how deeply to toast the almonds for the Slates and is making two Drinking Chocolates that–“HEY, YOUR DRINKING CHOCOLATES ARE ABOUT TO BOIL OVER!”, Z needs to be taught how you fold the box for Turtles, a customer wants to know what percentage soy lecithin is of our chocolate, emails wanting to know can we donate to this or that, do we want our search engine performance heightened, do we want to be part of this event or that, do we want a sample of a new eco-friendly ice pack. The phone wants to know if they order today will they get their bunnies in time for Easter.
  42. 70% of the time I’m great at this game. I have my lists, my plan of attack. I like the rush. I whirl around, turning the Drinking Chocolates down while telling Y the only way to know how toasted the almonds are is to taste them, look for that deep brown color, see if they crackle on the sheet when you take them out of the oven; telling X she needs to do the spoon test to check the temper before she dips any more truffles.
  43. 20% of the time I’m OK at this game. I need something I can’t have, but I’m plodding on through, and it’ll be OK.
  44. 10% of the time I’m telling everyone I’m popping out to the grocery store, then sitting in the car and hyperventilating. Feeling the walls close in on myself (it felt like this photo looks—though actually that night was super awesome) and marveling at the mess I’ve gotten myself into: an introvert who has spent 10 years building a world of her own, which suddenly has become so successful (poor me, pity me) that she has to be an extrovert at all times.
  45. Quite a pickle.
  46. It’s too late to go back now. I’m providing jobs. I want to make money so I can afford new cool business toys, like better chocolate molds ($22 each, made in Buffalo, I should really buy 50 or so), new tables for the back room, a shave ice machine. I have so many ideas. I want to keep going.
  47. There is freedom these days, too. With two managers, I don’t need to answer all those questions any more. Maresa’s the one teaching X about the temper test, Jayme’s teaching Z how to fold the Turtle box. But, and I fully realize how much of a diva this makes me out to be, I still can’t get my head straight half the time because the vibrations coming off other people’s bodies are disturbing my soul to such an extent that even making a to-do list is often impossible.
  48. When I was moaning about this recently a friend sent me this. It was so perfect it made me cry.
  49. I can breathe a little better now. “Paper is patient,” as Anne Frank said. (Basically, my successful job is just about exactly the same as being in the Holocaust, is I guess what I’m saying.*)
  50. There is nothing a list can’t help.

puke copy

*To be fair to my midnight mawkishness, Anne was writing about her teenage angst at that moment.

7 Responses to “50 things I know at midnight on a Monday.”

  1. JenMcCleary

    Whoa, that list made me feel claustrophobic from afar. I totally sympathize and I hope you can figure out a way to live in balance. I’m so fascinated by the perils of success, because here in America, being “successful” is like the be all and end all and in our mythology there aren’t supposed to be any drawbacks. Except obviously there are…or at least there are for those who have a soul (not that I believe in a literal soul but I think you know what I mean). Someone must have written a book about this stuff already…

    That Williams essay was SO brilliant. This:

    “It is only in his work that an artist can find reality and satisfaction, for the actual world is less intense than the world of his invention and consequently his life, without recourse to violent disorder, does not seem very substantial.”

    and this:

    “the only somebody worth being is the solitary and unseen you that existed from your first breath and which is the sum of your actions and so is constantly in a state of becoming under your own violation”

  2. zoe p.

    I read your blog pretty carefully and I didn’t really know you needed so much time on your own. I feel you. And I think you might actually repress this need more than you think?

    Also, there are more things than I think made in the USA at Costco? Shit. Don’t tell me that. I love not going there. Gives me more time to myself ; )

    • lagusta

      Well…it’s a pretty boring blog topic, don’t you think? Also, I think I like the ol’ blog because it allows me to interact with the world at a distance. So maybe it seems like I’m more social than I am because of it. And maybe because I talk about friends on the blog? I dunno. I do have friends! I really like them, too. It’s just this work stuff. Anyway.

      Costco, which I originally got a membership to because gas costs like half as much at the Costco in Hawaii as it does anywhere else on the island, actually has fairly good politics! (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/17/business/yourmoney/17costco.html?adxnnl=1&incamp=article_popular&adxnnlx=1122039778-V1CVS8PW9u6+IvouDRmgWA&_r=0)

      Yes, most of what they sell is sweatshop crap (the clothes, sheets, etc obviously), but there’s some organic produce, and I was in the market for a new VitaMix blender and it turns out they had the cheapest price around, and it’s made in the USA. If you poke around, there’s some stuff!

  3. Joselle

    I need huge doses of solitude, too. I spent a few hours with a sorta friend today and was so happy when she left. She’s lovely. I just needed to breathe again.

    And, can i just say, fetuses are parasites. I’ve been pregnant and liked it but nothing could be truer than that word.

    I want to visit your shop this summer and say hi but I likely won’t because you’re you and I’ll want to avoid the whole chit chat thing, too. But I will buy a ton of chocolates.

    • lagusta

      No, please say hello!! It would be so nice to meet ya. Sometimes I’m super social at the shop, and even when I’m grumpy, it’s always nice to meet an internet friend. The cuteness of your parasite/baby has hopefully made the whole experience worthwhile—it’s always nice when that happens, when an actually cute baby is born.


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