Weaponize the Silence

My favorite weapon is silence. I can’t take credit for the idea but I have certainly perfected it.

My inspiration came from the children’s book, Noisy Nora by Rosemary Wells. My grandmother and I checked it out from the library when I was very young and it quickly became my favorite book. Nora was a middle child who felt ignored so she began making noise to gain attention. When her efforts failed, she decided to hide in silence to teach her family a lesson.

As children, we have very little control over our circumstances but we can control ourselves to some extent. When other kids attempted to bully me, I would first punch them in the face and then I would pretend they didn’t exist. At home, I would just go to my room and ignore my parents. Whenever there was a conflict, I would get in a red-hot strike and follow it with ice-cold silence.

As an adult, I have learned that silence is much more effective. I refuse to fight. When I was married, I daydreamed about packing up my dogs and driving away without a word. The destination was unimportant. It was the silence that mattered.

People are always expecting me to say something. They attempt to provoke me and expect a reaction. Exes attempt to reconnect and expect me to respond. You’ll continue texting me until I block you? I accept your terms. You message me your phone number? I never lost it.

You may as well give up; I’ll never give you what you want.

Blind Date with a Murderer

Several years ago, a friend set me up on the worst blind date ever. I was driving to a work conference a few hours from home when Tina called me with an odd question: “Would you ever consider dating a cop?” I let her know I was a bit hesitant because if a cop decides to ruin a person’s life, they can REALLY ruin it.

“He’s a nice guy,” she said. “I think you’ll really like him.”

I reluctantly agreed, even though I had recently gotten out of a horribly unhealthy relationship. Like an idiot, I agreed to have him pick me up at my house. He was a cop; what was the worst that could happen?

My first impression was that I should run. I normally tend to underreact when faced with an uncomfortable situation. My mom had a legit stalker for many years and I’ve had plenty of experiences with creepy people following me. But this guy (we’ll call him Grand Theft Auto) creeped me the fuck out from the moment I saw him. I knew I was trapped, though. At that point, he knew where I lived so I couldn’t exactly bail.

The plan was to have dinner and then see a movie. As we were driving, we passed the police department and an officer I had known since kindergarten saw me in GTA’s car. I was absolutely mortified. The date concluded without anything terrible happening and when he dropped me off at my house, I fumbled with a story about how I thought I was ready to start dating again but it was too soon. He said he understood and it was all I could do to stop myself from running into the house.

The whole night, I had been trying to figure out why the hell Tina would think I would be attracted to him. When I texted her about it, she just repeated the part about him being a nice guy. Like that somehow made all the sense in the world.

It wouldn’t have been a big deal but he was also in a band that played at local bars, which I regularly frequented. I refused to look in the direction of the band when they were playing, kind of like my dogs when they act like if they avoid eye contact I can’t see them. I would just kind of disappear between sets because it was too awkward and he was still too creepy. This went on for quite a while and I was so relieved when I heard he was dating someone.

He and his new girlfriend seemed happy and I was happy I didn’t have to hide out anymore. She was divorced with small children and I heard after a while that she broke it off because he was trying to get too serious. Apparently, he wanted to move in with her but it was too much too soon and she wasn’t comfortable having a live-in boyfriend with her kids. People were saying he turned stalker (surprise!) and would constantly drive by in his patrol car. I believe some even called the department to complain.

One night in 2007, a friend texted me from a bar saying GTA showed up at the same place as his ex and she thought he saw his ex dancing with some other guy. Her friends ultimately got her out of the bar without him intercepting her and one of them took her home. Unfortunately, GTA also found his way to her home. In the early morning, he entered her backyard and shot her in the head through a window with a rifle, killing her.

After the FBI interviewed him, he fled to another state in a stolen Hummer. I guess a beige Taurus was too inconspicuous. Once he was located and the vehicle was disabled, he then attempted to flee on foot but was quickly tackled and handcuffed. He made up so many ridiculous lies during the trial. He said he just intended to scare her and the rifle discharged accidentally as he lowered it. A cop actually said that in a court of law.

The first guilty verdict was delivered in 2008. His conviction was overturned in 2011 and the second guilty verdict was delivered in 2012. He is currently serving a life sentence and is eligible for parole after 20 years.

I remember telling Tina during the trial if he was found guilty, I was going to kick her ass. I never followed through with that but I still wonder how she thought we would make a good match. There isn’t a clear moral to this story but I do think the cliché about trusting your instincts became a cliché for a reason.

You Put What on Your Face?

My love affair with jojoba began in 2012. Native to the Sonoran Desert, it isn’t unusual to find jojoba shrubs growing wild in washes and empty lots. When I moved to the Tucson area, I began working for a company that produces jojoba from seeds to refined oil and derivatives for the personal care industry. And that’s kind of a misnomer because it’s a liquid ester rather than an oil, which is what makes it so perfect.

The composition of jojoba oil is extremely close to that of your skin’s natural oils so you aren’t putting some foreign substance on your face that will clog your pores and make you break out like crazy. I have oily skin and can still use straight jojoba oil on my face and neck during the winter/spring when the desert humidity is in the single digits. Did you know that’s a thing? I mean, I knew 1% humidity was theoretically possible but never imagined I would experience it.

You can use jojoba oil for a luxurious makeup remover. Again, it will not clog your pores and the moisturizing benefits are terrific. The slip is amazing and it will never feel sticky. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can mix it with olive oil and other emollients of your choice to create a nourishing hair mask.

I have also been known to make sugar body scrubs with jojoba oil to stretch it farther for dry winter skin. Add your coffee grounds to a mix of raw sugar, jojoba oil, and essential oils for the full spa experience without leaving your home. Eucalyptus works great in the shower for clearing your sinuses.

There are tons of videos and articles for DIY hair and skincare. The best DIY facial cleanser of all time is simply jojoba oil and raw, organic honey. You just put a teaspoon of honey in your palm, rub your palms together to heat it up a bit, and then add a few drops of oil and apply. Just make sure you rinse well afterward or your dogs will try to lick it off your face. I mean, yes they’re happy to see you but you also have honey on your face.

Native Americans have used jojoba for all sorts of skin ailments and it will help relieve sunburn somewhat but it is definitely not a replacement for sunscreen. It does have some antibacterial and antifungal properties and it can be used in conjunction with tea tree oil. Just be very careful if you’re going to use tea tree oil, as it is corrosive to mild steel. Always use glass jars to store it and take care not to inhale the fumes. It carries a hazardous label for a reason!

Make sure you only purchase from reputable sources. Believe it or not, there are counterfeit jojoba oil products on the market. If it looks like too much of a bargain, beware. You definitely do not want to rub some mystery vegetable oil blend all over your face. I wouldn’t worry too much about conventional versus organic jojoba oil but if organic is your thing, go for it. There wasn’t much of a difference in how my former employer farmed the two but it’s all about personal preference. Once you have a product that is the real thing, go forth and moisturize!

Anxiety is the New Black

I’ve always been more tightly wound than the average bear. I went to kindergarten in 1980 and since we only did half-days, I spent the entire morning, every morning, dreading going to school. I hated every minute of it. In third grade, I began having mild panic episodes but it took another decade for me to define them. I was gifted and was awarded my first college scholarship the summer before my sophomore year in high school. I later dropped out of college due to the anxiety caused by going to class.

Back then, we didn’t talk about anxiety. It never crossed my mind to acknowledge what was happening to me. Instead, my plan was to stay too drunk or too hungover to go to class. I only discussed my panic attacks with a few people close to me. The first couple weeks in the dorms, I lived on Dr. Pepper and brownies from the vending machine because I couldn’t force myself to go to the cafeteria.

When I got married, I suddenly developed horrible stomach pain that lasted for years. I underwent comprehensive testing. It wasn’t an ulcer. It wasn’t a tumor. My doctor said there was nothing physically wrong with me. I was given Paxil for my anxiety so I ate and slept and gained a ton of weight. I was given Phentermine to suppress my appetite so I was doing laundry in the middle of the night but by God, I was 95 pounds again. I was given Sonata so I could fucking sleep already. My poor husband had no idea what was going on or why I needed to see a therapist every week for two years.

When I finally divorced my husband after more than six years, the stomach pain disappeared. The anxiety did not. I have been prescribed nearly every anti-anxiety medication on the market at some point in my life. For decades, I expected the pills to solve my problems. When I finally realized that’s not how any of this works, I stopped the meds and learned how to regulate myself. I cut toxic people out of my life. When I turned 40, I decided I would stop doing anything I didn’t want to do. I stopped feeling pressured to cook all the time. I stopped feeling pressured to date. I stayed home and spent time with my dogs and that worked relatively well for several years. But sometimes life just happens, despite years of meticulous proper prior planning.

Now it seems like everyone has anxiety. If you’ve never had a panic attack so severe it mimicked the signs of a stroke, don’t come at me with that nonsense. People refer to their attention to detail as “being OCD”. Oh, honey…no. Spend a day watching me Clark W. Griswold my entire life, trying to suppress the ritualistic behaviors. Xanax has become a recreational drug sold out of trunks of Honda Civics all over the country. Xanax was literally a lifesaver for me. It pulled me back from the ledge more times than I care to remember and allowed me to function. Anxiety and the medications to control it have become a status symbol on social media.

I am currently only lightly medicated. I haven’t had a true panic attack since May of 2012. My therapist wants me to start bringing some artifacts out of the vault and I would really rather not. I’m much more comfortable leaving the past in the past but now that it’s fashionable, I guess I’ll own that shit.

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