Update: Lessons

The routine remained the same for weeks. She didn’t sleep until 2 or 3 am. She woke around 8:30 or 9, exhausted and hazy. Her head felt clouded, shrouded with dust, or cotton candy, or some such other particulate material. To open her eyes was a brutal chore, but the sweet relief of repose would not return. Eventually she graduated to staring at her phone, one eye cracked to check the ‘news’ of the day, still horizontal. Eventually she would get up, eventually she would shower. After a lackadaisical glance in the nearly empty fridge she shuffled out of her apartment cave, to spend money she didn’t have on shitty coffee just to be in the presence of strangers. She felt less isolated that way. Plus, free wifi. Bonus.

Though she vowed to quit for weeks, time and time again a pack of cigarettes snuck into her purse, peaking out at her like a shameful secret defiantly exposing itself. It often reminded her of hiding mouses in one’s bag, a la The Witches… she then wondered, as she lit up and lazily took a drag, why the hell she connected such random crap. ‘Maybe it’s a symptom of creativity,’ she hoped, ‘….or more likely, insanity.’

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Call that^ an early experiment in short fiction, though let’s be honest, it’s not exactly entirely fabricated.

 

I arrived in Sarasota Thursday night, late. So far my… landlady? roommate?… we’ll just call her Amy, has been super nice, shown me around, given me the low down on everything before she leaves for a month to visit her family in Nebraska. I officially start my internship on Monday, 9 am sharp. Luckily I’m less than a 10 minute bike ride away. I’m looking forward to the change of pace, or rather, to finally have something to do besides ride the continuous merry-go-round that is my head. It’s great creative fodder for writing, but it can be depressing and exhausting. I find it hysterical that I’m always so excited for the end of the semester, for a freakin’ break already! But give me two days, and then I’m bored out of my mind. Boredom which of course leads inevitably to introspection and eventually super harsh assessments.

I’ve decided to try and view the next two months as a bit like a forced pilgrimmage, some kind of retreat inward. Honestly, I’m fucking terrified. Luckily, I have two buttresses: my best friends, Poofl and Husband Zero, live a mere hour away, at the ready should things become too intense. And I have the wise words of one of my oldest friends. I contacted her via FB the other day, after a second glass of wine and brimming tears after a fruitless afternoon of attempted prose. I started with a straightforward, “Fuck, I’m sad.” After my explanations why (I suck at writing, I suck as a person, if I can’t love myself how can I expect others to love me, fuck I’m a hot mess), she gave me some of the most uplifting advice I’ve received to date:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

S: I saw your blog post

S: tbh, i was really proud of you, it came off as really strong and introspective

Me: yeah. It just makes me even sadder, because I don’t know how long it’ll take to get over the hump, how hard it will be, how successful i’ll be

S: I don’t think you’re undateable. But I think now is a very hard time for you because so much is in transition, from your location to your core sense of self. And suppose you meet someone now and in a few months you’re a different person—more insightful, wiser, and so on. You won’t WANT to be with the person who’s a reacher for the old you, much less the new one

S: as for the word “undateable” it’s kind of like the difference between “poor” and “broke.” With “poor” there’s a sense of permanence there, like you’ll never have money. “Broke” is temporary. You’re not undateable. You’re in transition. And that’s okay, in fact it’s good.

S: Obviously I can’t tell you how hard it will be, but I can tell you that I’m 100% confident that you’ll be successful. You tend to achieve whatever you set your mind to. You’re strong (stronger than you think). You WILL get through it

Me: yeah, I know. I haven’t felt this way in so long. it sucks.

S: The thing about you is that since I’ve known you (a long damn time) you’ve been on a quest for self-improvement. This is no different. You work tirelessly to make yourself the best person you can be. I see you continuing that journey, and growing more and more. It’s the moment you STOP growing that’s the concern. There’s a buddhist idea that if 4 horses are in a race, the horse in first place is actually the worst horse because he has no reason to try to improve. The horse in last place will never stop pushing himself to try to get better. He is actually the closest horse to reaching enlightenment.

S: Sorry if that’s cheesy, but I think it’s easy to lose sight of these things, especially with social media throwing everyone’s achievements in our face all the time.

Me: that’s a good analogy, i guess what upsets me the most is I feel like it’s never felt this hard before. Like, you’d think after all the improvement I’d made it wouldn’t always be easy, but it wouldn’t always be this difficult

S: maybe this is the most real it’s been

Me: yeah, maybe you’re right.

S: when you came here i hadn’t seen you in a long time, but it was really interesting: it was like seeing the old L’s that i knew so well before and this new (adult) person fighting with each other over who you “are” now. You mentioned yourself feeling like you were in a violent transition, but for me at no time did I worry or wonder how it would turn out.

S: I don’t mean that to sound condescending (god knows i’m not a grown up yet). But it was real and it was one of the things that made me feel like we had really reconciled because there was this realness there.

S: sorry this is coming out not quite right, but what i’m saying is this: I can see you’re in a transition that is not easy. And I support it and am here for you however i can be.

Me: thanks, my silence is my tears haha. they’ve needed to surface for a few days now. Thanks baybe. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And so, instead of burying my anxieties and depression beneath a tripled dose of meds and a bottle of wine, I will start exercising again. I will write. I will eat healthy. I will get over this hump, because I’m fucking sick of feeling this way. I want to start believing myself when I say I’m awesome, again. Because I am, dammit.

 

Current Jam: “Better Times” The Ones to Blame

Couple o’ Poems

 
 
Power
 
Don’t you know?
Just what power you possess as you caress 
the curve of my hip? As your lips gently brush
my neck?
Don’t you know?
What lies beneath pearlescent skin
and sheepish grins? Both virtues and sin, of course
but beyond, or rather because, an invaluable thing.
Though malleable, true, it falters like a broken dove.
Don’t you know?
It’s effervescent glow is beautifully fragile,
Priceless gold which has sold itself to unworthy buyers before. 
Please, it murmurs, take care, take care.
Hold it firm, hold it softly, hold it as its delicacy demands,
Nurture it as it deserves. Just
Please….
                Please, Please
                                             Please…..
Protect it from harm. 
Be not alarmed, it is not your sole burden to keep,
but don’t you know?
Can’t you see?
In return, It hopes to bolster thee.
 
 
Consumption
 
A beautiful death, I hold my breath
while I wait, perched,
ready to be absorbed. 
Chin held high, all doubt erased as I plunge
to the depths of a war torn maelstrom. 
 
Some would say Jonah fell for his whale,
his will exploding as he rolled down his lover’s tongue. 
He sunk, drunk, as provocations of devotion devolved to slurred nothings.
‘Sweet one,’ he whispered, ‘I simply cannot shine
without you, our souls now shall intertwine for eternity.’
 
He clung inside his rotund bride, finally at peace
with his sacrifice upon the altar of devotion.
 
The whale sighed; dived
to the depths with resolve
to expel the man who cast his own demise.
A beautiful death, to be true,
The end to the beginning of something new.
 

Current Jam: “Emmylou” First Aid Kit

Lessons

I always preach the Golden Rule way of living right? Treat others as you wish to be treated. Well, whilest scouring the interwebs today I found this site which breaks down the 12 (yes, 12, I didn’t know either) rules of Karma, and believe me, it goes beyond the Golden Rule. Way beyond. In ways that make sense, but they made me realize how limited in scope my perspective was. The laws most relevant to these misconceptions were the Law of Responsibility and the Law of Change:

-The Law of Responsibility: ‘Whenever there is something wrong in my life, there is something wrong with me. We mirror what surrounds us – and what surrounds us mirrors us; this is a Universal Truth. We must take responsibility for what is in our life.’

-The Law of Change: ‘history repeats itself until we learn the lessons that we need to change our path.’

(See them all here: The 12 Rules of Karma)

So, sometimes I have a selective memory, a selective moral compass. Like many people, I am really good at justifying any given opinion or action. I like to say that given this handicap (which most people have, that’s why we’re all in therapy. For that unbiased point of view to snap us out of our reveries), that I’m more introspective, more self aware than the average bear. Sometimes though, even I have to admit that uuuhhhh NOPE. I’m not.

I was approached recently and told, in no uncertain terms that I was… well, fuckin’ up. It came from a person very close to me, and those verbal daggers slit right through me as I sat on my host’s porch, the unbelievably beautiful California weather suddenly mocking my tears. I was crushed. I had to excuse myself to the bathroom to get my cry on in the shower. Once I was able to compose myself, I sat down to critically think about the things they said. Now, I must clarify: I believe this person was coming from a place of love…. maybe a bit of a place of drama too, but 99% love. They seemed concerned about me, and had taken the ‘tough love’ approach in order to get me to see the error of my ways. And yet, it still took me a while to really critically assess their points of contention.

At first I was all justification. I have a tendency to knee-jerk to defensive behavior when we fight. But, the more I thought about their point of view, I saw some valid opinions. But, again 99% of what I saw, what I perceived as my mistake, was my recent neglect of this person. After a crappy breakup, after I’d cried my tears, I vowed to put that energy back into the universe, in a positive way. I wanted to give back to all my friends and family for their love and support. But apparently I did not do this person justice, and for that I felt bad. I thought I was covering my bases as they came, but this person needed me more than I offered, and I dropped the ball. I thought I tried, I thought I had made my inherent support known, but I suppose I did not, and for that I feel guilt. I haven’t yet reconciled totally with this person; there are still some things I have to ponder, to feel, before I can mend this supposed ‘rift’….

Thinking about these 2 fundamental truths, I realize that my path to… happiness? enlightenment? responsibility? is still very much untrodden. I have a really hard time working through and past some of my insecurities and flaws. At my age, on the seeming cusp of adulthood…. or rather, being dragged kicking and screaming into adulthood, being suddenly aware of how much I sabotage myself is really fucking distressing. I thought I’d thought long and hard about my path, but truthfully, after reading this article I realize that I have not. It’s like I’ve had an epiphany. In truth, a tear shed as I accepted the sobering reality: I am basically undateable right now. Not unlovable, but almost certainly undateable. I’m a mess! I drink too much, I’m smoking too regularly, I don’t exercise like I used to, like, at all (For my readers that have known me for years, you’ll appreciate the profundity of this declaration; I used to be obsessed with the gym and what I ate). My trust issues, always present, have blown up into conspiracy theory proportions, and I’m constantly convinced the only man I can count on is my Dad. I’m borderline bulimic, and I’m just plain miserable! My life is wonderful, that part was never wrong. It’s just ME that I hate right now. I hate who I am. I’ve realized just how hellish my late 20’s have been. Since 25 I’ve crashed and bounced through them in a perpetual cloud of feigned bliss and forced laughs. I can’t believe it took me this long to realize just how unhappy I am; not with my ambitions, accomplishments or support base, I just hate me. Me is a pathetic addict, an emotional roller coaster, someone unbelievably influenced by the opinions of others. Someone suddenly incapable of providing herself solitary comfort…. So THAT’S why I hate being alone!! Fuck Fuck Fuckity Fuck Fuck Fuck. There really is something wrong with me.

*Really big sigh*…. First step I guess? Because for all my oblivion, I now see the writing on the wall. It’s time to be. OK. For real this time. No foolin’.

Current Jam: “Unsubstantiated Rumors…” Against Me!

Multitudes

I got back from New Orleans yesterday evening. I have yet to sleep, and I’ve got a lot of stuff on my mind today. Stuff that I had been thinking about, mostly peripherally, over my two week vacation. Frankly, it’s stuff that I don’t want to think about, because all it accomplishes is a persistent, though thankfully fleeting, sense of uncertainty. I don’t feel… comfortable, or secure, and I feel like my timing, my inbred Irish luck is in retrograde or something.

I feel so betwixt and between. Liminal. It’s unsettling, and I can’t shake it. The blatantly experiential nature of this transition has permeated the mutable aspects of my life. Sounds like I’m saying something fancy, but I’m really not. Basically, I know I have an internship in Sarasota for 2 months. I know I have 1 year left in grad school. My academic and professional lives are structured, organized, totes fine. The uncertainty has punctured my relationships because it has nowhere else to go. It’s stressful and anxiety inducing, and it turns me 180 degrees intermittently. I go from feeling pretty confident, together, sure of myself, to a wellspring of self-doubt in the blink of an eye. Dating around is partly to blame, methinks. It’s just so fucking weird. I don’t mind dating several people at one time, but the moment I get really into one person I become much less interested in expending the energy it takes to be single and flirtatious. But then, it’s so hard to tell if the other person is on the same page, especially when you meet via casual interfaces like Tinder and OKCupid. And when do you have that conversation? And will you be successful in disguising your disappointment if you don’t get the answer you were hoping for? I mean, ya know, I got that fragile pride to protect.

And then there’s the whole notion of ‘leagues’. I was discussing said concocted social construct with my lovely friend V over our fourth brunch in the course of 2 1/2 days during my time in New Orleans. I was expressing concern. I felt like I liked this kid, but I wasn’t sure about the degree of reciprocation; and because my life has felt all metaphorically uprooted lately, it was causing an unusual amount of stress for me. V made the compelling observation that I didn’t really know what was ‘out of my league’ or not, so why didn’t I embrace that challenge and just see what I could get? My response was typical L’s: ‘uhhh, I dunno? ‘Cause it’ll suck when I reach that glass ceiling? Because my self-confidence has been so rocky lately? Because rejection is shitty?’ I mean, I’ve dated guys that clearly weren’t for me in the end, but was that a ‘league’ issue? If so, on who’s side and to what degree? The notion of ‘reacher’ / ‘settler’ seems so one-sided, as if the settler is some demi-god. In reality, it takes two to tango. It takes two to make a thing go right. It takes two *insert additional colloquial cliches here*.

I feel in-between in terms of my level of appropriated and conceived adulthood, too. I feel like 75% there in terms of becoming an adult. But I don’t know if I wanna complete the transition. With the end of the semester, among some other excellent things, I’ve over-celebrated and made a bit of an ass of myself, amongst family, amongst friends. While I hate getting that drunk that I act that way, I don’t wanna be all grown up just yet, man. Being all grown up just sounds fucking depressing, full of bran cereal and watching ‘merely-ok’ shows on cable. I’m not saying I wanna be the same party girl I was a couple years ago… I just… I don’t know!! I don’t know how I can meld my love for occasionally impish shenanigans with the necessary evil of fiber concern or saving for retirement. Being an adult is fucking hard, and kind of depressing to me. Maybe I feel that way because I feel so emotionally stunted too. Like, I know I wanna get married, ya know, one day. But the ubiquitous nature of social media, especially at my ripe age and gender, is overflowing with nuptials and lil’ babes. I don’t wanna get married tomorrow or anything, but ugh, I just don’t wanna be a spinster. But again… the older I get, the less that life event seems likely for me. I know, I know, I’m being dramatic. I don’t wanna stress over it, because all that does is make things seems worse than they really are. But this is what happens sometimes when I don’t sleep for 36 hours (no seriously, I’ve been in 3 time zones in the past few days and my circadian rhythm is like a topless woman riding a unicycle backwards – almost certainly fucked, but unknown by what exactly). So consider this a semi-stream-of-consciousness episode. I was thinking too much and it was keeping me awake, so maybe now I can get some shut-eye. Usually helps when I get it from my head to ‘paper’. *fingers crossed*

 

Current Jam: “Sculptors and Vandals” The Menzingers (“walk home single / seein’ double”)

Current quote: “Indie rock, you’re pretty cool, but us punks have D4 so we win.” -Menzingers tweet

Cause it’s worth it.

I’m in New Orleans, my phones about to die and me and my friend got locked out of our hosts house. My car got towed, and $193 later I’m hanging out at a costume shop where she works. I haven’t showered in 2 days, haven’t brushed my teeth and I’m in my pjs. And I couldn’t care less. I’m happy, I’m content and I’m glass half full today. It’s sunny, there’s 3 art museums within walking distance, and I’m still reveling from the best second date ever with Mr. Red. Yay life:

Current Quote: “guess why I smile a lot… Uhh, cause it’s worth it” -marcel the shell

An Open Letter to My Liver

Dear Liver,

I’m sorry man. I know I’ve taken you for some wilder rides before, but still, I’ve definitely abused your precious gifts the past weekend or two. I’ve forced you to filter way too much, and deal with way too much variety. Granted, you’ve done your best. You’ve tried to keep up with me, although sometimes you simply couldn’t. I get it. I had a lot to celebrate the past few weeks: halfway done with my master’s, my dad’s birthday, reconciling with one of my ex’s, a new cute boy. You know me, sometimes I overindulge. But I’m proud of you. You did one hell of a job. Don’t worry, I’m gonna take it easy on you for a bit….

Because for all you do for me, I’m becoming a bit of a douche when I get uber drunk. That’s not cool, and that’s not your fault. I’m of an age now where I’m re-assessing my true limits. It’s a learning curve, for sure, and I’ve made some mistakes. I made a bit of an ass of myself in that I celebrated more than my Pops, and I was a bit obnoxious. So really, this is an open letter to my Da too:

Sorry Dad. I know you love me unconditionally, but when I think back on my actions over your birthday dinner, I am a little ashamed. It was supposed to be a day to celebrate you, and I made it a lot about me. It was unintentional. I didn’t mean to drink as much as I did, it kind of turned into a snowball rolling down a hill. Definitely not one of my prouder moments. I think I just wanted to celebrate the final release of tension from a really difficult semester, but that wasn’t fair to you. Regardless of my crappy drunkenness, I hope you still had a good birthday. You and Mom have made me into a confident, strong woman with ambition, but I’m not perfect. Everyone’s got a few cracks, I guess I just let ’em show too much sometimes. I love you both with all my heart, and I’m sorry.

I don’t want you to worry, though. I’m okay. I worry sometimes you have an inaccurate picture of my life because most of the time that you see me it’s for a celebratory reason, and I like to celebrate. I like to drink socially. But I’m okay, in fact after the last few months I’m getting better and better everyday. I can’t wait to see you again and share all the adventures I’ve been having and will have in the next couple weeks. ‘Til we meet again, know that I love you and I’ll always be ready to hear your next favorite song.

Love, L’s

Current Jam: “Stubborn Love” The Lumineers

Support or a Cage?

 
This invisible force, an intelligent design,
The delicate curve of every line is
Intricately woven to fortify
these steel bones.
Is it support or a cage,
is it smothered or contained?
With no escape it compresses, an ember
dense with pain, love, and heat;
there’s no retreat
from that oft traveled street.
To control it’s a fool’s errand I know,
its resilient beat refuses to slow
as I vainly search to solve the persistent problem of purpose.
Futile to comprehend, to utilize this unending source;
to bottle it, funnel it through a useful course. 
Instead I nurture the core, won’t settle the score and revel when
it hurts to breathe. To laugh’s a dream but
it’s inevitable end seems far too mean.

 

Current Jam: “Birmingham” Shovels & Rope