Front Porch

 
Each night I venture out, I bring my heart in my hands,
cocktail and smoke too; they make room for the
beating, wounded bird.
Near death but she resiliently persists.
I’m not sure how.
I don’t know why, after all
you’ve yet to show.
 
Each night, I don’t realize the candle’s still lit.
Burnt so low it’s nearly gone, a pathetic puddle of a swan song.
But still I stand, I sit, I exist
somewhere in between 
the sides of my head, while my thoughts serenade me with empty lies,
about love, and longing, and lust — I don’t cry, not anymore, but I take
 
Drag after drag, watching the cars pass by,
wondering which one holds the idea of you.
Maybe you’ll stop this time? Maybe you’ll finally see
what stands, who sits, patiently awaiting an alibi.
 
I imagine what I’ll say–
something righteous? Gracious? —
when you come back my way.
A joke? A curse? A stoic silence as 
Our eyes meet,
when the smoke rolls over my cheek, slips out my empty lips,
parted, ready to speak?
 
I think I’ll say, “You’re late.”
 
….
 
Or not. Because what remains true–
You’re not really you. And besides,
I have plenty of time
to refine my line(s).
Until then,
Until then…
I sit, smoke in hand. Breathing out… 
 

Current Jam: “Bleeding Out” Imagine Dragons

A Monday back in Middle School

My room is like a little cave. It’s small, cool, and really dark. When the blinds are drawn, I have a hard time deciphering the time of day. Monday, I rolled over to a rainy, dreary morning in my cave-room. I had the window open for some fresh air, and the plink-plink of rain hitting the a/c unit woke me up, instead of my alarm. I opened my eyes, imagining them to look as gray as the world outside my grotto. (clarification: my eyes appear to change color based on surrounding hues).

I was awash in the grey day, but I wasn’t drowning in it. Weather like that gets me thinking, it encourages my brain to stretch; not in a nihilistic way, not in an attempt at a revolving door of self-pity. Instead… I think, and I feel… and I don’t try to solve the equation…

When I was 14 years old, I had a humanities teacher named Mrs. Brandt. Come the end of the school year, she had a unique gift for all of her graduating 8th graders: she assigned them a single word. She didn’t explain her choices, she didn’t contextualize them. She gave it to you and that was that. She was all business. When she came to me, she said, “[L’s], your word is… unflappable.” I was touched… well, I incorporated as much emotional maturity into that reaction as a barely pubescent teenager could. I looked it up in my parent’s giant Webster’s dictionary when I got home that afternoon:

un·flap·pa·ble adjective \-ˈfla-pə-bəl\

: not easily upset : unusually calm in difficult situations :  marked by assurance and self-control

I stared at the page for a long time. In those days, I didn’t talk to my teachers all that much. I tried to figure out why she had given me that word… after all, how well did she really know me? I didn’t understand her inspiration, and looking back part of me still doesn’t. Me at 14? I was a basketcase! I can only surmise that she saw something in me, some trait that was yet to be unleashed. Perhaps it already had?

I went through a bully phase in middle school, like most teenagers. I was the butt of ridicule, and it sucked. The popular girl in our class, who had been my friend a year before, decided that she no longer cared for my company. Unfortunately, like most idiotic teenagers, she handled her dislike by magnifying it like a virus under microscopic scrutiny and spread it to whomever she could convince to harness the same disdain. Every day felt like a walk through a mine field. At one point, one of her cronies (I harbor no ill-will today, don’t get me wrong, but the moniker fits for this particular scenario) brought rabbit poop (I SHIT YOU NOT, haha) from her pet’s cage to put in my chair during class. I was the last to know about floods of rumors circulating the halls about me, and I had mutual friends apologetically sympathize with me, only to accept the birthday party invitations they inevitably got from my “nemesis.” I reiterate, it sucked. But even considering that profound period of turmoil (which, even as a 14 year old, I realized must have seemed minuscule to an adult), I didn’t get it. After all, I didn’t feel that I handled the crucible with much aplomb. I stumbled through it, crying and angry, like I had spent most of my adolescence. So why? How?? How could she know? And even if she had known, how was that her takeaway??

I don’t know. I don’t think I ever will. All I can apply is retrospect:

Like an ever-turbulent sea, I will never just be. Not always. I am, and will always be, a moody motherfucker. As quick to sunshine and rainbows as a dark and stormy night, I’m sure I give some people emotional whiplash. But maybe it’s like Forrest Gump’s assessment of life and how we get through it:

Forrest: (talking to Jenny’s grave) “Jenny, I don’t know if Momma was right or if, if it’s Lieutenant Dan. I don’t know if we each have a destiny, or if we’re all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze, but I, I think maybe it’s both. Maybe both is happening at the same time.”

All I know is now, another 14 years later, I still remember that. It was burned into my memory. I remember sitting at my desk, waiting for my turn, mesmerized by the profound atmosphere in which I was enveloped. I remember how abnormally silent it was; no quiet snickers or notes being passed. I remember asking her to spell it so that I could look it up that afternoon, in my parents’ giant Webster’s dictionary. I remember reading that definition with as yet inexplicable gratitude.

Current Jams, two-fold for lyrical reasons:

“Shimmer,” Fuel

She says that love is for fools who fall behind
And I’m somewhere between
I never really know a killer from a savior
‘Til I break at the bend.
 

“Dog” Lemuria

I feel like you’ve died, and I want you back
But I know that I will never see you again.
 
Walkin’ around tryin’ to keep my mouth shut
While the pity piles up
While the pity piles up
 
Like a goddamn dog, with his tail between his legs
Ashamed of trying to butter up your obituary
 
At least I can say I tried with you
At least I can say I tried with you

Friday Feel Goods

I am not my ideal physical self at the moment, gentle readers. At my best, I exercise regularly and I’m a pretty healthy eater. My main vice is my insatiable love for cocktails. However, we are now in the midst of end-of-semester-hell, not to mention the ongoing condition of graduate-school-hell. Thus, my workouts have fallen by the wayside, and my wine/whiskey/vodka consumption has increased in a somewhat myopic attempt to sustain the flow of creative juices. As a result, my ever-present lil’ gut is a bit more rotund than usual, and my winter skinnies require an extra round of that russian dance… cossack? to get on…

 

What I hope I look like...
What I hope I look like…

 

A really professional version of what I actually look like...
A really professional version of what I actually look like…

 

It’s a little disheartening. A little frustrating. A little shaming, because I follow a lot of health-conscious blogs, and I’ve been a health nerd for many years. I know that I can always find time to workout. I know I could, and I know it would alleviate some of the mountains of stress knots in my back. But then I remember how effing tired I am… and how good cheez-its are… and how comfortable my bed is…. ZZZzzzzz……

These days I often feel like a puddle of sweet potato casserole, all gooey and lacking in definition:

YUM I LOOK DELOISHOUS.
YUM I LOOK DELOISHOUS. THINK I’LL HAVE SECONDS MAH NOMNOMNOM

 

So bummer, sigh, waaahhh, and all that whiny crap. As per usual I rolled out of bed this morning feelin’ gross. I mentally scoured my wardrobe for something that would make me look less Reubenesque as I brushed my teeth, grimacing at the bloated visage pudgily squinting back at me. When I passed my full length mirror in search of something black and moo-moo shaped, I paused. I didn’t realize it, but I had subconsciously reached for black, lace-y underthings in the quest to cover my shame. I turned, faced the glass demon and cocked my head. ‘Huh,’ I thought, ‘I may not be my ideal weight, but these things still make me feel… attractive…. noted…’

The thought stuck with me, on my way to campus, through my class, even when I stopped by the restroom to relieve my bladder from the quart of coffee I had consumed. There’s just something about black lace… it hugs your curves without constricting them. Combined with a cotton counterpart, it’s soft too, like a flirty little hug. Before I knew it, I had given myself a little caress in the bathroom stall, breasts to butt. Despite the negative body image I had not 3 hours prior, I felt secretly sexy.

 

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset
black/lace/black lace makes everything better.

So DAMMIT, fellow curvy ladies, lend me your ears. When in doubt, put on your slinkiest underthings. Don’t have any? BUY SOME. The two bits above were bought at Target of all places. Less than $20 for both pieces. They don’t have be expensive to make ya feel good. Side note: if you haven’t yet heard of Adore Me, go there now. You’re welcome.  Go be sexy, my loves. ❤

 

Current Jam: “Love is strange” Mickey and Sylvia

 

#TBT

Hey, remember Fuel? This was my absolute favorite song when I was like, 14. It was released in 1998, the first single from their album Sunburn. It’s just old-school enough that I couldn’t find the video via youtube. After a little extra digging though I managed to get it, and you can imagine my nostalgic joy to see the credit text at the lower right hand corner of the screen, just like MTV did it back in the day! *squeal!*

Fun With New Age Crayap

So I’m kind of a dork when it comes to new age-y crap. I like reading my horoscope, I definitely have more than one crystal for harnessing positive energy and purging negative energy, aaaand I like tarot readings. I don’t believe in these things in an absolute sense; rather, I treat them as placebic  salves. I don’t literally think that holding a crystal in my palms will ‘absorb’ all my negative thoughts, but it helps me focus. It makes me meditate on the act of mental release. With tarot readings, I read into them what I want, because much like horoscopes their descriptions are purposefully vague. I don’t look at them as telling my future, but again, as ideas and concepts to ruminate on. They can be helpful in putting things in perspective for you, if you’re willing to look past the absence of scientific validity.

So, that being said, I have a tarot deck. I gave myself a reading a few weeks ago, and it was… interesting. I do a basic 3-card reading. One card represents your past, your present, and your future. This is the way I do it, though there are variations: I shuffle the deck while thinking really hard about a question I have. It can relate to anything from your career, your love life, happiness, luck, etc. Then, once you feel the question has been solidified, once you feel the deck has been shuffled enough (there’s no correct number of times to do this, in my opinion, you just stop when you’re done), you spread it out on a table and then pick 3 cards. The first card will be the reading of your past, the second your present, the third your future. I tend to place them right to left, although I don’t feel that this matters all that much. Then, I turn them over by picking up the lower right hand corner and flipping it over to the lower left hand corner (like opening a book).

I asked the universe to give me some mental gum about happiness, since I’ve had a lot of anxiety/depression/identity crisis -related emotions lately. This is what I got:

 

 

FullSizeRender

 

Ok, so. Reading right to left:

My Past: The King of Cups. (for interpretive descriptions, I always opt for biddy tarot)

king_cups

The King of Cups, like all the court cards in the suit of Cups, represents emotion, creativity, and the unconscious. Unlike the preceding three court cards, however, the King of Cups expresses much more restraint in his emotional state. He is a master of his own feelings, and remains in control of his emotions. Not to say that he represses those feelings and sentiments. On the contrary, the King of Cups represents the balance between the emotions and the intellect. He is a master of compassion and kindness and his card often indicates strong bonds in a relationship based on temperance and understanding…

…If you are facing challenges, then the King of Cups is an indication that you must create balance in the realm of the emotions. The King of Cups represents compassion; one of the most powerful and beautiful qualities of the human spirit… …The King of Cups encourages you to be considerate in your dealings with others and as you counsel others. You may need to understand why strong feelings have surfaced and how to best cope with them. It is important that you do not repress emotions but instead explore them with an open heart and an open mind.

Sometimes, the King of Cups can represent an older male who may appear in your life. This card represents a man… who is kind, considerate and willing to take responsibility for his actions. He is paternalistic but in a sensitive, generous manner, and he enjoys the quiet power associated with providing loving energy to others. He is able to listen mindfully to others and he responds calmly in a crisis. He uses diplomacy rather than force, and reached out to help, not to stifle or have it only his way! Similarly, the King of Cups shows you generosity, graciousness, love, calmness, caring and will give you his healing ways… If there were a crisis at hand, this is someone you would hope to have near.

If you are being challenged personally, the King of Cups suggests you will need to remain emotionally mature in dealing with the negative energy from others. You need to be clear in your own mind about what your boundaries are and what is and is not acceptable on an emotional level.”

I chose to interpret this one in a literal manner: V posited that the King of Cups represents Huzband Zero. HZ is the only man in my life, aside from my dad, that has consistently been reliable. He is one of the kindest souls I have ever met, and we bond on so many levels, and not just because we both love Poofl (to re-cap for any new readers: Poofl is my best friend, also known as E, and her husband HZ is my other best friend. They met in my parent’s kitchen while sitting on the floor taking shots of tequila, more than 10 years ago. I agree, it is the most romantic story ever told). I also love him because he always gives me drunk piggy back rides, whether I want them or not, and he always hugs me if I cry in front of him. So, in this sense, I have that strong, kind male presence in my past, one that I admire and that I should keep in mind as continue the (currently passive-) search for a potential mate.

 

My Present: The Star, reversed (Yes, when you flip a card and it’s facing away from you, it changes the meaning)

star

“When the Star is reversed, it suggests that your spiritual mission is distorted. Instead of hope, you are feeling despair or discouragement. Instead of being filled with positive possibilities, you find yourself dwelling on negative issues. Negative thoughts will wear away at you to the point where you may give up control of the situation and concede defeat. To remedy this, the reversed Star suggests you identify what is making you feel discouraged or overwhelmed and work on moving past these issues. They can take on an importance far greater than they deserve and can hold you back.

In a Tarot reading, the reversed Star card also indicates that you are beginning to feel disengaged and uninspired with life or components of your life (for example, work, hobbies, relationships, personal projects, etc.). Perhaps you started out with great vision and enthusiasm but you are now finding yourself overwhelmed by day-to-day routines that are boring and dreary. You may find life a chore now, when it used to be such a pleasant experience.

The Star reversed may reflect a loss of faith in a particular situation, resulting in you waiting for a sign or a ‘calling’ to proceed further. You may need reassurance that you are still on the right path, particularly if you have been experiencing setbacks or challenges along the journey…

…Oftentimes, the reversed Star card is more about a test of faith than it is an indication of a negative outcome. Sometimes you need to go through an incredibly trying time in order to come to a point of personal transformation and awakening. You need to keep believing in the Universe and know that it will do what is best for all. This is a test of your faith and you will no doubt come out of this a stronger person. Often, the reversal of this Major Arcana card indicates a need to bring your attention and energy within, so that you can effectively master the spiritual lesson contained in this card.”

 

This resonated with me in several respects. It encapsulates the roller coaster of the past couple of years: the “loss of faith,” especially, in relationships and myself. It references the doubt regarding my chosen career path, the frustration and the constant battle with imposter syndrome in higher education. The worry that I would always feel ‘crazy,’ and the bad days would forevermore outnumber the good. Indeed, I was feeling a lot of despair and discouragement. I needed (need) to identify the particulars which cause those negative thoughts and work to move past them. “This is a test of your faith and you will no doubt come out of this a stronger person.”

 

My Future: Nine of Swords, reversed

nine_swords

“The Nine of Swords is about worry, anxiety and not being able to sleep because your thoughts are running at one hundred miles an hour. Reversed, the Nine of Swords indicates that you are working yourself up and becoming incredibly stressed and anxious when, really, this does not have to be a complicated issue. You have a tendency to get very worked up about how bad a situation appears, losing sight of what it is really happening and what opportunities are available to you. What is needed here is for you to stop and objectively examine the reality of the situation. Bring yourself back to earth by uncovering your fears and anxieties and working to reduce the impact of those fears and anxieties on your life. Know that it is going to be ok, no matter what.

The Nine of Swords reversed also suggests that your worry and despair may actually be causing you harm. The more you worry about something, the more likely it is you will manifest your worst nightmares. Do not let this nightmare become your reality! Take a deep breath and realize that life is not as bad as it seems and that the more you worry, the more harm you are doing to yourself.

It is also possible that you have already worked through this period of worry and depression and are beginning to make a recovery. You may have recently come to the realization that it is not as bad as you had made it out to be, and you are beginning to relax and calm yourself about what was once a terrifying situation. You may also find that your dreams are very telling at this time. Use a dream journal to help you analyse what is happening at a subconscious level.”

 

Well, yes. Part of me will always harbor an anxiety-ridden temperament. My thoughts often run one hundred miles an hour. Especially at this point in the semester, my body is a mess. My uterus has decided that no, I’m actually not done having my period, and now it’s time to bring back high school-level cramp severity. The right half of my back has clearly fallen out of favor with my left, and I will basically have a stomach ache until I turn in my last paper in mid-December. This card served as a reminder that things really aren’t as bad as they seem, as bad as they feel. I constantly have to remind myself to let go and just breathe, and so that mantra crept up again to say, ‘hello! Remember me?’

However, I took a silver lining out of this card as well: “It is also possible that you have already worked through this period of worry and depression and are beginning to make a recovery.” Cool. Maybe I’m more than halfway back to feeling normal again.

 

Current Jam: “Savior” Rise Against

Grad School Makes You Hate Yourself

Last week, I had a rough afternoon.

I started out wary. I was in one of those menstrual moods where you’re not sure what’s gonna set you off, but you know it’s gonna be something. My mom always says that she loved her period because she “felt different everyday!” …uh… haha, that’s great in theory, I guess… until you practically blow a gasket over some minuscule thing, or burst into tears at a saccharine Hallmark commercial. But I was fine, I was maintaining… and then I had a post-presentation meeting with my professor. It seemed, at least to me, that he had less to say about my argument than my delivery of said argument. His criticism, while essentially constructive, denounced my “lack of formality,” which he feared would work against me because it would distract people and prevent them from taking me seriously.

…when someone confirms those devious thoughts inside my head, it kills me a little inside. It means that what I had told myself over and over again was an overreaction… really, well, wasn’t. It was true. Apparently I do come off as unprofessional sometimes. I can try all I like to justify that it’s just me, take or leave it. But not really. I’m a capable chameleon. I’ve done it before. Hell, I once convinced an insurance company to give me a salaried job with full benefits when I hadn’t had any legit customer service experience in 6 years. It’s just that it’s exhausting. Sometimes I just wanna be me and leave it at that, but that’s not how success happens, I guess. That’s not how it’s guaranteed.

And so I was sad, and ashamed, and beat down, because you bust your ass, and in a second it feels like it’s shot to hell because you didn’t gift wrap it the desired way. So I was having my car-cry, telling myself to stop being a baby, to take the criticism, and use it to better myself. As I sniffed and blinked my way through that monologue, I came to a stop light and for a split second I saw (thought I saw?) someone that I did NOT want to see. I wasn’t expecting it (when are you ever?), and whatever composure I had attained dissolved immediately, and I lost it. Because when this myriad shit strikes you all at once, it’s… ugh… it becomes so hard to live inside your own head. And while you wanna reach out for help, you don’t wanna bother your loved ones… because everyone is fighting a hard battle right? And when I think about it like that I feel the solidarity and the solitude at the same time, and it’s crushing…

And so I got home, curled into a ball on my bed, and I cried. I cried until I couldn’t cry anymore. Then I got up. I wiped away the runny mascara. I blew my nose. I poured myself a glass of wine, and I sat down to write.

Grad school does make me hate myself sometimes. The past couple of years have made me question my very identity, my core sense of self. I haven’t felt like me, and I haven’t been sure who me is anymore. However, there is one immutable thing that I know: I am no basic bitch.

To me, “basic bitches” are people don’t step outside their comfort zones. They confine themselves to emotional safety nets, nets which will perpetuate their fragile sense of self-confidence and value. But value doesn’t accrue unless you invest in it. Sure, it would be easier to be satisfied with my hometown, my pumpkin spice lattes and my safe insurance job. But that PSL just ain’t enough for me… and as much as it may pain me, and as much shit I might get myself into, whether it’s school, dating, life en générale, I won’t confine myself to those safety nets… ’cause I ain’t no basic betch. When I remember that, I hate myself a little less.

Current Quote: “Why do we fall, Bruce?”

Current Jam: contest between “Bulletproof” by La Roux and “Ribbons and Detours” by Silversun Pickups. Who won?