Subourbon Mom

Big Thoughts
August 5, 2021, 5:33 pm
Filed under: Middle Age, Misc. Humor | Tags: , , , ,

I don’t know if y’all can relate, but I miss having big thoughts. Actually, I just miss having any thoughts, really.

I used to spend my free time reading and writing or doing something else creative. These days, it is all I can do to stay awake long enough to read two pages of a book and my blog posts have been as rare as an honest politician. Podcasts and comedy streams have replaced thinking and daydreaming as I cook, clean or drive, and when I watch tv, I’m often playing games on my phone at the same time.

How did this happen?

I blame a lot of it on my phone. The games are addicting. Have you ever played Candy Crush? I mean, c’mon…it’s designed in every way to make you an addict, just like casino slot machines. We never had a chance. The rapid-fire bits of brain candy I can access at any time are also addicting – social media is the worst for that, never mind the Google rabbit hole. I seriously did not need to know where TSA puts all our stuff when they confiscate it, or that babies don’t have kneecaps – thanks Google. That’s an hour of my life I won’t get back.


But seriously, the phone is just the tool I use to distract myself.

So why am I so uncomfortable with my own thoughts?

Oh, that’s right – they’re scary and stressful.

Not scary in a “I’m gonna skin a cat and wear it like a hat” way – that requires some strong psych meds and probably a Silence of the Lambs face muzzle.  

My thoughts are scary in the way that all the stressors of everyday life converge into one enormous, swirling black hole that steals every ounce of creative energy. That anxiety black hole also sucks repressed thoughts out of the box in the corner of your brain labeled “Don’t Open This Box….Ever.”  Usually, that box only gets opened when I’m starting a hangover at 2:00am. You know, when all the things you’ve ever said or done get blown out of proportion and you’re pretty sure you’ve offended everybody you’ve ever met.   

Playing Candy Crush keeps that box closed.  (Yes, young’uns, I know Candy Crush is something only middle-aged or older moms still play. Quit judging my escape techniques while you watch make-up and how to make water melon drink tutorials.)

Disclaimer: I’m definitely not any kind of psychologist, and if anyone is really sinking into that black hole of anxiety or depression, please get help.

Speaking for myself, I truly believe hiding from my thoughts is a cycle of bad mental habits combined with a crazy two years and probably some haywire hormones. Breaking some of these mental bad habits is an important first step to feeling better. I’m also learning to break down all those black hole worries into manageable pieces.

Learning to stop and pay attention to one sense at a time helps.  Doing that while being dragged around on my morning walks by two energetic dogs makes that difficult, but mostly I can do it a couple of times throughout the day when I’m feeling stressed. My watch even reminds me to breathe, but only when I’m in the middle of editing a heated email with the restraint Donald Trump’s staffers wished they could use. I do try to breathe afterwards, though.

And finally, thinking about things I’m grateful for before going to sleep puts me in a better frame of mind before my brain goes rummaging around in The Box. It’s harder to dwell on all the bad things when your brain has already decided your life is actually pretty good.   

Am I going to give up my games?  People, I said small steps. Let’s be real. These mental habits took years to cultivate. And frankly, I’m on level 1925, sooooo….I’ll start with taking the games I only play sometimes off my phone. I’m definitely going to try and break the habit of looking at my phone while “watching” TV. If the show can’t hold my interest, maybe it’s time for a book.

I think the same can be said for pretty much any situation – if it makes me want to retreat into my phone, I need to change the situation.

We all have things that we do to manage our worries and keep the stress at bay.  Feel free to share your suggestions and methods in the comments section so others can benefit.

And don’t worry, I’ll get back to bitching and pointing out stupid people/stuff soon…there are only so many habits you can change at one time.

Birds, Cats Help Beat COVID Fatigue
March 2, 2021, 9:56 pm
Filed under: Misc. Humor | Tags: , , , , ,

Many of us are suffering from various forms of COVID Fatigue. For a lot of us, part of COVID Fatigue is “Zoom Fatigue,” or being tired after a day of zoom calls because our brains aren’t wired to see only part of the person to whom we are speaking. There are a zillion tiny body cues that we miss on zoom calls because we can only see the person’s face, leaving our brains working overtime trying to fill in the blanks.

One of my methods for dealing COVID Fatigue it is by watching TikTok – before bed, waiting for my lunch to cook, sometimes in the bathtub. TikTok, for some reason, has decided I need more cat videos in my life. (By the way, if you haven’t seen the video of the lawyer who accidentally used a cat filter and couldn’t remove it, I have provided this gem of cinematography below).

I don’t even like cats, but TikTok lets me belly laugh at cats falling off stuff, being given baths and otherwise being generally being humiliated.

Apparently, cats can get COVID Fatigue and need to relax, too.

For a while it was cute having my 17-year-old cat Izzy constantly jumping in my lap and trying to do all the things I do. My co-workers didn’t seem to mind seeing her tail wave back and forth on video.

Why don’t you just lock the door to your office, you ask? Because she sits outside and HOWLS, or sticks her little orange paw under the door, grabs hold and shakes it. It’s like living with a toddler all over again.

Enter cat videos and the BIRD BONANZA. Some people (yes, on TikTok) have solved the cat attention problem by setting up an old computer or iPad and playing bird videos for their cat. The theory is that if the cat wants to do what you’re doing, let them. I decided to give it a try.

When you Google videos for cats, there are A LOT of them. I had no idea there were so many bird voyeurs. The video I use is called BIRD BONANZA, and it’s 8 hours long. (You have to say BIRD BONANZA in your best, super loud and deep announcer voice because anything with the word BONANZA deserves it). The video consists of a variety of birds landing, feeding and flying away from this one particular woodland stump. So, I set up an old computer on the file cabinet next to my desk, hit “Play” and placed Izzy in front of it.

The first time Izzy watched it, she amazed. I was amazed.

It’s cat porn.

For over an hour Izzy sat and watched birds flitting about and chirping, trying to figure out where they went when they flew off screen. She made weird, gutteral noises and purred, and looked very happy.

All of that made me uncomfortable.

But even cats get Zoom Fatigue, I guess. Eventually her little brain got tired of only hearing half the bird conversations and seeing them fly off…to nowhere. It was time to take a cat nap.

The sad thing is….I couldn’t turn it off. That video is weirdly soothing, and now I have it on all the time, whether Izzy’s in the room or not. The only down side is that sometimes I have to explain that the occasional loud chirp is my BIRD BONANZA.

I used to be annoyed at the algorithms that put all those stupid cat videos in my TikTok feed, but without those videos I wouldn’t have laughed until I cried watching the lawyer cat video and I wouldn’t have discovered the soothing sounds of birds on a stump. Relief can come from surprising places.

What do you do to relax that you never saw coming?

Fishing Frenzy

Early morning on Kerr Lake

Early morning on Kerr Lake

Fishing, like golf, or the television show Survivor, pares people down to their basic personality traits.  Unfortunately like golf and Survivor, it often does this in the company of others; even more often, it does this in the company of good friends or family.  This past week, I was with my family on our annual vacation to Kerr Lake, on the border of North Carolina and Virginia. The fishing is never very good (rather, we aren’t ever really good at it), but this year, Hubby decided he was going to embrace fishing like he does everything else—with enthusiasm that is infectious and fun, and with a competitive nature that could turn even the most relaxed morning into a crazed, smack-talking showdown worthy of the WWF.

Every day, Hubby and I rose at 6:00, made coffee, and woke up my brother. It was the highlight of my day, standing at the window, looking out at the mist rising off the water as Hubby, my brother and I did the coffee dance around the spoons, milk, sugar and creamer, all the while trying not to flinch at the open bottles of bourbon and rum sitting on the counter from the night before.




The only sounds outside were the crowing of a rooster nearby and the slapping of our shoes on the dirt path to the dock. Herons let out their primordial screeches as they sought new perches when we intruded. Swirls erupted on the surface of the water.

And the tournament began…

For two days the fishing was good—a few bass, a crappie, a few catfish and a perch. Hubby was thrilled with his catches, and kept a running tally in his head for size, number caught, etc. My brother declared he’d brought prizes for the most fish caught, biggest fish, and a consolation prize. There was a spirited discussion whether the catfish that landed on the dock but jumped off the hook and the dock counted (it did), and whether fish counted if they we were too lazy to learn how to clean them (they didn’t).

So, Hubby and I learned to clean fish.

The last day did not bode well. We were all tied up, and the tension was mounting. Maybe I was tired.  Maybe the fishing Gods had had enough of our greed. Maybe it was the rain. Whatever the reason, something inside of me snapped.

First, my brother had a huge fish on his line, reeling it in. His pole was nearly bent in half, and I could see the excitement in his eyes. Just as he got it to the boat, Moby Dick swam underneath it and jumped off. My brother let out a string of curses I’d only ever heard him say in pain or extreme anger.  He sat down in misery.

“I can’t believe it got away,” he mumbled.  “I can honestly say that was the biggest fish I’ve ever had on my line before.”

A nice sister would have patted his shoulder, said something mildly consoling and kept on fishing, letting him gather up his enthusiasm to continue.

Not me.

“Well, it’s too bad you weren’t man enough to land it,” I said.

Both he and Hubby stared at me in disbelief. I heard what I’d said and couldn’t believe it, either. Who was this person I’d become? I knew neither of them would have ever said the equivalent to me. I apologized and tried to say some platitudes, but they fell flat, and for good reason.

Later, both Hubby and my brother pulled in fish at the same time while I drove, rod cradled in my arm (I still hadn’t even had a nibble). From somewhere deep inside, anger welled up and I snarled, “I hate both of you!” (Okay, there was a curse word in there, too, but I try to keep these clean). Both men turned around and stared at me, probably wondering if I’d been back on the sauce since we went to bed, then went back to landing their fish. For the rest of the day, that phrase was repeated over and over again, sometimes with a shake of the head, sometimes just because they knew I was embarrassed. Gotta love the family.

Usually, fishing calms and soothes me, even when I’m with others. I don’t know what happened that day, but I turned into the John MacEnroe of the bass world. I like to think I was tired, but after realizing that other people’s basic personalities were showcased when they were fishing (my brother is quiet and supportive, Hubby is competitive but fun, both daughters are very empathetic and pleaded to set the fish free), I am beginning to think I’m just not a very nice person.

The others have gone back home, and I’ve just finished cleaning up the house. I think it’s time to go back down to the water and try to recapture the person I used to be when I fished for hours by myself, meditating through the monotony of casting and reeling. There is a time for competition, and I’ll bring it next year, but until then, it’s time to put away the jet ski, grab myself an iced tea and remember why I love the being on the lake so much.

Maybe fishing isn’t a reflection of the person you are. Maybe it’s a reflection of what you’re bringing to the lake when you arrive. Either way, I have some work to do. Whether it’s internal, or my crazy “subourbon” schedule is making crazy, I’m looking forward to my fishing lobotomy.


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