This is mrsfinch checking in after an eventful weekend (though still not as awe-inspiringly weird as BumbleLoki's, which wins all prizes forever). But can I vent? Or at least relate happenings and get feedback? I have tried to amuse in the retelling, at least in the places where it might be amusing. But a lot of it was not funny.

Guise, I continue to lose my shit, and I'm not even in the office this week: this is the week I have taken off to do my annual stint at my college book sale, otherwise known as the Worst Idea Of All Time even though I have done it every year for at least 15 years. However, I have never before tried to Do My Bit while half crippled with back pain and not really coping with any other aspect of life either. And although everyone involved with the sale has been kind and helpful, there are limits to what I can be helped with when it comes to sorting and pricing; and let me tell you, if at 49 I am one of the youngest volunteers, just trying to find someone not already suffering from osteoporosis to get a box out from under a table is a challenge in itself.

So I spent most of Sat sorting and pricing. Went home late aft to walk and feed the Fusspot, shower, change clothes and generally get self ready for Girls' Night Out. I was just zipping up my bitchin downtown boots when there was a brisk knock on my door. I opened it to find my neighbour across-the-hall (the rich accountant who has a monster home in an exurb and uses his apt here as a city pied-a-terre). I am standing there in full makeup, possibly redolent of perfume, and holding one boot in my hand, and he says "Are you going out for the evening?" UM YES. He says "It's just that ... I'm feeling kind of sick and dizzy ... and my wife is gone for the night."

OH NO YOU DINT.

Little does boychik know that I am the certified first aid personnel for my section and, having coped with 2 parents and several friends with cancer, I have dealt with a lot of sick people in my time. I grabbed his hand and checked the colour of his fingernails, I felt his bald little head for fever and sweat: all checked out normal. I put on my nurse voice and asked if he'd eaten anything that had disagreed with him. He admitted he'd taken a pill for his gout that was about five years old (the pill, not the gout, I presume). I said brightly that medication often gets stronger, not weaker, as it ages (I have no idea if this is really the truth, but I was told this once upon a time) and if he'd taken it on an empty stomach that might have made things worse. I recommended that he lie down, keep the phone close by, and leave his front door unlocked in case he had to phone 911, because it would make it easier for the EMTs to get in. And then, Gentle Readers, I put my boot on, got my purse, and left, leaving my sickly neighbour without a kind lady to soothe his unfevered brow. When I got to the bar and explained why I was late, my BFF said "That was totally a come-on," and I am sincerely hoping she was wrong as (a) he is married (for the 3rd or 4th time, as he has mentioned) and his present wife is a lovely woman, and (b) one of the main reasons he is Not My Type is the fact that he purposely bought an apt that looks over his high school grounds, because clearly those were his peak years, and I cannot believe it is healthy to want to look at your high school every day. Especially when you are over 40.

So I got myself downtown and to the designated bar for Girls Night Out, and then things got weirder. It was a major occasion as my friend Beth was in town - she works abroad and is only in town once or twice a year - and she is such amazing company that all her friends in TO drop everything to make sure we can see her. Beth should be a poster girl for Successful Lady Scientists and she has a black belt, she runs marathons, owns her own home, speaks two and a half languages, travels the world for work and for pleasure ... she's pretty much a role model for the rest of us. She is an amazing, brilliant, driven woman, always the voice of reason and exactly the kind of woman you'd trust to pull your plug in extremis (she's on my short list). Except on Sat night it became obvious really quickly that she was in crisis, and none of us had ever seen this before (in 20+ years of hanging out). She was loud and emotional and though some of it was alcohol most of it was not, which was the scary part. I went to the bathroom about six times, basically every time one of the other girls went, so we could make a plan to get Beth out of there safely and also before we were cut off and thrown out of the bar for having a loud drunk emotional person at our table. Beth was staying at her mom's in town, but I didn't trust her to get there on her own without getting lost, so in the end we wrapped things up, saw the other girls off and I poured Beth into a cab (this was not easily done as she is about a foot taller than I am and also very athletic) and took her back to my place. Fortunately she was too drunk and emotional to notice that my place is beyond squalid and the dog hair is three feet deep: we sat on the couch and she hung onto Mr Fusspot and just cried and cried and cried. She said she feels washed up and useless at 50; she has a new boyfriend, and this is not good news as she has the worst taste ever in men, which means that she found another emotionally manipulative loser who wants a reliable meal-and-sexytimes ticket - despite being an awesome person she claims she feels she is incomplete if she doesn't have a boyfriend, even if he is a loser (which they generally are). And that actually she's in love with a guy at work only he's her superior and also married. And that her family health history is poor and she might as well die now because it will save time. And all I could do was to hug her and tell her that she means so much to us, that she is the one we look up to, that we love her no matter what she thinks she is or does, that there's nothing we'd change about her (except maybe her taste in men, but I didn't get into that). I've known her 20+ years and I've never seen her cry. She might have done 20 years of crying all in one place. The Fusspot and I just stayed with her until she was cried out and then I got her some pillows and blankets and she went to sleep on my couch. I was still in bed when she poked her head round the door the next day and said she was off to her mom's: she looked better, but it might have been that the mask was just firmly back in place, and I felt bad that I hadn't even had the chance to give her a cup of coffee before she left. And she flew out today and I haven't heard from her since.

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I went to do my shift at the book sale Sun aft, and even though I had showered and was wearing clean clothes I looked so awful that everyone working with me asked if I should even be there. I said I'd had a bad night. The chronic pain and fatigue has been so bad that I made a dr's appt for today, mainly to get my painkiller rx renewed, but my dr was so alarmed when I told her about falling asleep while standing in the shower that she's sending me to St Mikes to the sleep lab for another assessment and after we find out what that says, we'll go on from there. I was at the sale doing sale prep today, I will be there tomorrow, Wed, and most of Thurs, at which point I have to take a couple of hours to go to my real (paying) job, and then book sale again until Mon when it wraps up, and Tues when I pack up what is left. But after next Tuesday I am off until 3 Nov so I can clean house (ha!) and do laundry and like that.

I just don't know what to think any more. I'm constantly exhausted because I'm in fight-or-flight mode at all times: it's like I can't ever count on anything to progress at a normal pace any longer. Going to work means at least one serious daily crisis. Taking time off for my "volunteer" job (I'm there because they need my subject specialization) means ten days of activity and I can't keep up any longer (even if I am the youngest volunteer, I'm also the only one who is not retired, so I'm trying to balance this with work). My home is a health hazard. I am worried that the Fusspot is too old to cope with all the emotion he's had to soak up for the past couple of days. I'm worried that I haven't heard from Beth. I'm convinced I won't have things ready for the Thurs pm opening of the book sale, even though I have coped somehow every year before this one.

I desperately want to retire and I'm not quite 50. I've got almost 30 years seniority under my belt and I know it sounds stupid, given the economic climate, but I could give it up. I've been with the Museum of Amazing Stuff since 1985 and even though my pension still isn't adequate to keep me housed and fed, I'm haunted by the ghost of my father who enjoyed exactly 2 years of retirement before he died ... and that was before Canada did away with the mandatory retirement age of 65. I don't just want to retire: I want the retirement my dad didn't have. My family is not a long-lived one on either side. I don't want to die in my boots. I want to have a few years where I don't have to get up at the crack. I'm not coping with anything like what other GTers are, it's just me and the Fusspot, I have no kids and only one aged P to worry about - why can't I get the job done? What is wrong with me? WHAT AM I DOING WRONG?