Reflecting on dream catchers.

I have a sleeping cat next to me, music playing, internet in my apartment (for the first time in a year and a half, making it easier to write this in my pajamas and in bed), and The Hobbit laying within arms reach (I am doing a re-read because let’s face it, you need to when the movie is out).  It is utterly cold outside, but warm in here.  My apartment has the small touches that make it wholly and completely mine, from the multi-colored owls to the fake flowers, the art my mom painted to the mismatched collection of pillows I have collected through the years.  These details are what makes it cozy, comfy, warm in a different way that has nothing to do with temperature.

A collection of dream catchers hang above my bed.  Years ago on a vacation (to some place, somewhere) I convinced my mom and dad that the perfect gift for the trip would be to get a dream catcher.  I picked out a small turquoise one and hung it above my bed.  The theory is that they will catch all nightmares, ghosts that haunt our sleep.  A believer in mystical things, otherworldly and inexplicable acts, it was my hope that the tiny catcher would help create more restful sleep.  Power of suggestion is just that, a power.  That is why we have placebos, because if we convince ourselves long enough that something is good, that something does help, maybe we can trick our minds.  (Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the placebo effect, but I do not discount true medicine and how it helps those ailing from terminal illness; I’ve seen too much and been around too much death to suggest otherwise.)  It was my hope that the tiny catcher would help with the unease I was having drifting into sleep, to stop the nightmares that were haunting me, to give me a restful sleep.  That was about ten years ago.

I now have eleven hanging above my headboard.  Along with a small hand carved wooden box called a Dream Box.  Everywhere I go I attempt to find and buy a dream catcher.  I collected them from places ranging from Portland to Savannah, Chicago to Iowa City, Salt Lake City to San Francisco.  They reflect more than my superstitions, they are more than hanging art, they represent places I have come to love, places I want to remember, places once called home and places I want to call home.

Frustration doth boil over.

I am slowly losing patience with almost everything.  I am not even sure what is causing the short fuse, but it is definitely there.  Stress about money and finding work.  I have been at this too long and have seen no results that are actually giving me a paycheck.  Sure, I am interning at Metro (do not get me wrong, I appreciate and love it so much) but I do not see a nickel or dime.  I knew going in that it was unpaid, but at the same time I am in dire straits when it comes to my financial woes.  There are moments when everything is fitting, the stars are aligning, and I know things will be okay, but as soon as it becomes nighttime, and the darkness seeps in, that is all I feel, the darkness.

I wish I could afford more social outings.  I wish I didn’t have to cancel on people.  Or sit there with a look of worry when the bill comes.  I wish that the bills could be paid and still have some left over.  I wish that I didn’t get that look of pity for it either.  I don’t like taking help.  I do not like taking hand-outs.  There is a proud streak that runs through me and it goes down to my bones.  But now, I am one step above groveling at someone’s feet.  It’s pathetic to me.  And it’s especially hypocritical of me to have these thoughts and feelings because if one of my friends was in a similar situation, I would do everything within my power to help them.  So how come when someone offers that same help to me I turn it down with a firm declaration of “no!”?  I am a beggar just like the men and women who waddle by my car on Irving Park.  I am just wearing nicer clothes, though they, too, won’t last much longer.  And I have a mother and father who are at least willing to help by putting a roof over my head.

It sucks when you begin to base your worth off of others opinions or the desire someone may have of you.  And not just romantically or emotionally or physically, but also when you send out countless resumes, fill out applications, even to places you never thought you would, edit cover letters, and desperately go searching for something, anything at this point, that will help with the finances, and you get nothing but dust and mothballs back.  Or when you get something back, an interview or call, and the two people who claim you need a job the most change their tune.  “Don’t just take any old office job, you have the ability to build something.”  Out of what funds?  How do I even begin to live my life when I beholden to someone else?

I was talking the other day with Jonathan and he mentioned how he did not want me to ask if he was doing okay anymore.  I worry about him, and I worry about how he handles his emotions with his father.  It kind of felt like a smack in the face that he didn’t want me to show my concern, but when I got to thinking about it later, I got the impression that he thought my questions after his well-being were a backhanded way of asking how he is getting along without me.  Like I would be some great loss to him and his psyche.  I laugh at that notion.  I laugh because I never felt like I impressed upon him.  If I did, I am sure that the ending to our relationship would have played out considerably different.  Or maybe there wouldn’t have been an ending.  This is not me thinking little of myself, this is me reflecting on actions and behaviors that I was part of, and witness to, for five years.  What’s even more is that usually when I ask him how he is doing, it’s really an excuse for me to try to convince myself that I am doing okay.  He once said he would continue to read this blog, just so he could know how I am faring.  I can honestly say that I doubt he does read this.  If he did, he’d know that my questions to him also reflect the pain I feel and the hurt and the uncertainty.  They mirror my inner turmoil.

Another thing that has become more difficult is living at home.  I cannot thank my parents enough for their hospitality, but there is a part of me that is slowly dwindling down to a reproachful and angry person because of my circumstance.  I do not look down on people who still live with their parents.  I just know that I don’t want to.  I want to make it on my own, and that’s why this situation feels like a complete let down.  I went from having a job, paying half of rent and half of groceries and half of everything to depending on a man, to now depending on my family and seriously giving thought to accepting donations from friends.  And it makes my stomach turn in disgust.  The thought that comes to mind is “oh, how the mighty have fallen” but I can say I have never felt mighty.  I have always felt fragile and shaken, like a deer running from headlights.  Friends, family, co-workers, even relative strangers, have all mentioned the strength I must possess to have gone through the emotional wreckage that is my past.  If everyone else can see it, how come I cannot feel it?

I am sitting at the island in our kitchen.  The house is completely dark except for a single light above the sink and the gentle glow from my computer.  I know this is home, but I have never felt more out-of-place in my life.  Earlier in the summer I was giving thought to leaving, to moving out and hitchhiking across the country and experiencing the tough life.  There is a bird with cut wings humming a sad tune in my heart.  I look at my friends who have traveled, who have moved to new cities and began again, who have made names and careers for themselves, and I am jealous.  There are always circumstances, though.  Forethought and saving money, not having a shit storm hit you and leave you stranded in the middle of an emotional hurricane, getting funding from parents so they can whisk away to Europe.  When I was with Jonathan I thought of the practical.  We saved money.  We made a home for ourselves.  We did not spend extraneous cash on vacations or concerts.  We hoarded it.  We spent a lot of our savings on California.  It was a new beginning for him and the end for me.  He is home, and I can tell.  I am literally home and I feel more out-of-place than I have ever felt.  Chicago beckons me, but I am not sure for how long.  I feel like the main character from the movie Chocolat.  She follows the wind.

I will leave you with this excerpt from The Name of the Wind:

“What flower would you bring me?” I teased, thinking to catch her off guard.

“A willow blossom,” she said without a second’s hesitation.

“I thought for a long minute.  “Do willows have blossoms?”

She looked up and to the side, thinking.  “I don’t think so.”

“A rare treat to be given one then.”  I chuckled.  “Why a willow blossom?”

“You remind me of a willow.”  She said easily.  “Strong, deep-rooted, and hidden.  You move easily when the storm comes, but never farther than you wish.”

I lifted my hands as if fending off a blow.  “Cease these sweet words,” I protested.  “You seek to bend me to your will, but it will not work.  Your flattery is naught to me but wind.”

She watched me for a moment, as if to make sure my tirade was complete.  “Beyond all other trees,” she said with a curl of a smile on her elegant mouth, “the willow moves to the wind’s desire.”

Early bird gets the worm. But worms are gross. And I’m a vegetarian.

I am tightly wound.  Like someone has taken a straw and began to turn it until it is a mangled mess of a knot.  Remember doing that as a kid?  Taking a normal straw, and then twisting and twisting.  Someone then takes a finger and flicks it until it snaps open extorting a “pop” as air evacuates from the pressure in the center.  I empathize with that straw.  I just hope no one flicks me.  It will not be a quick expulsion of air, but an agonizingly long deflation that leaves me a quivering, quaking mess of sobbing hormonal twenty-something girl.  You know my emotional state is higher when you receive long, convoluted explanations of emotional blathering rather than quick, Hemingwayesque prose.  Clean, concise, and hiding valuable information underneath the surface.  Along with mountains of empty liquor bottles.

I feel like my brain cannot stop working.  One trivial thing followed by something actually useful intertwined with yet another impossibly stupid, small, incoherent thought.  My lack of sleep is definitely adding a heavy weight of unreality to my every day.  I cannot shut my mind off to certain things.  Last night I finally managed to haul my ass upstairs to turn in for the night around 11:30 PM.  To some, that may seem ridiculously early for a twenty-five year old.  But for someone who has averaged four hours of unrestful sleep for approximately three weeks, I think it is safe to say that 11:30 is going to bed late.  But that’s the thing.  I didn’t go to bed.  I put on my perfunctory television show (I cannot go to sleep without the television on, which is horrible because it is such a waste of electricity) and stared blankly at the screen, uncomprehending of the episode of How I Met Your Mother.  Eventually I snapped out of the my zombie-like stare down and began paying attention.  A few wispy thoughts crossed my mind: Josh Radnor is adorable and the character of Ted is one of the few well written leading male characters; Barney and subsequently Neil Patrick Harris, is by far one of the funniest and most colorful characters to grace television; Marshall and Lily are disgustingly adorable heaping on the perfect amount of “cute” couple hypotheticals with reality driven banter.

After these fleeting thoughts, I removed my glasses and desperately tried to toss and turn my way into oblivion.  The clock read a time well past midnight and I was desperately fighting with the Sandman.  My muscles were aching, my mind an odd combination between being far too awake without comprehension, my eyes were literally burning, and I desired nothing more than to pass off into nothingness; a dreamless sleep.  Needless to say, my mind had different plans.  At last glance, my clock read 1:43 AM.  I turned one more time to my left side, desperately seeking sanctuary from waking life, and then the next thing I remember is jolting awake, breathing heavy.

After my startled return to consciousness, I tried a few more feeble attempts at sleep before giving up, grabbing my glasses and staring at the clock.  It read 5:16 AM.  I had a desperate desire to take my clock, open my window, and throw it through the screen while screaming in aggression as I watched it fly through the air.  Rather I sat in bed somewhere between tying the beast down and holding back frustrated tears.  You see, this is a relatively common occurrence, or has been for about three weeks since my mom went into the ER and landed on short-term disability.  The last two weeks have been especially rough because I was without my father. and therefore all by myself in caring for my mother.  Add into the recipe a week with two adorable, yet needy, puppies, and you have the perfect ingredients for a sleep deprived twenty-something who wants nothing more than curl up in the fetal position and hide under her favorite blanket, The Blue.  (Yes, capital T, capital B, he is that special.)

What is especially disgusting about this episode is that I do not even feel like I slept.  What jolted me awake was a dream I was having.  Typically I do not remember my dreams unless they are particularly weird (I once dreamed I was a guest voice on The Simpsons, but the dream was entirely Simpsonesque, meaning I was a yellow, four-fingered, spiky haired version of myself voicing a yellow, four-fingered, spiky haired character) or frighteningly real (like the disturbing dream I had of my grandparents, who survived World War II, burning alive, which I woke up smelling burnt flesh).  This dream guest starred a friend of mine who currently lives in Portland, another who lives in Milwaukee, and four other guys, one of which is my ex-fiance.  My friend in Portland, though, in the dream said she was living in California, that she had seen Jonathan.  She also mentioned that I “needed to get back out there.”  My friend from Milwaukee informed me in a rather timid voice, and with tears in her eyes that a group of guys assaulted her, but she managed to run and get away, surprising her attackers.  With this confession, she seemed lifeless and small compared to the concerned and bubbly personality that typically exudes from her.  Somehow we found ourselves at an indoor soccer game and Jonathan is there, all the way from California.  As are three more suitors, all of which are watching, not playing.  Each of them, Jonathan included, make overtures, though with some, I am hesitant to even listen because there is an anger that resides in me towards these men.

Eventually both of my friends begin to ask why I am so distant.  These guys are cute, they say, they appear gentlemen-like and exhibit a deep appreciation for me.  I respond that no one is perfect, that everyone has a secret, and I am not sure I can handle having secrets in my life.  I buried one so deep and for so long that I injured not only the man I loved, but scarred myself.  There is a shadow on these men, and I can do nothing but see those shadows.  Of course my girlfriends roll their eyes and call me too poetic for my own good.  My friend from Portland stands up, walks to the guy she was rooting for and begins a dialogue, to which I blush, giggle, and turn away, feeling far too much like an adolescent than an adult.  And what seems most odd is that rather than picking the guy most like her, someone who loves good food and outdoor activities, someone who appreciates art and music and lives in a community dedicated to these things, she decided to approach the guy who pours over video games, plays in a band, is completely unreliable and childish, but she saw made me smile.

My friend from Milwaukee then approaches a guy and begins a dialogue.  I assumed she would approach Jonathan, having stated she loved us together.  But rather she chooses another suitor, someone just as surprising.  She picked the guy who reads literature and hovers over writing, integrating the English language and the beauty of words into his every day life, the guy who lives with artistic ambition and dwells in a place that makes him feel real, stimulated, appreciative of the chance to live the way he is.  I blush red as a tomato as she talks to him.  And I try to concentrate on my friend from Portland as she describes the favorable qualities of her choice.  All the while I am staring at the other two men, wondering how complex and complicated things became.  I feel an overriding sense of joy and relief when I look at one and sadness when I look at the other.  However, the one that brings me joy brings a deadening blow of emotional and mental pain, while the sadness of the other is masked by positive memories, a certain hope and maybe hidden desire.

I stand up, look at each guy, drinking in their features, swimming in the feelings they evoke, and I make up my mind.  I begin walking towards the one.  And I jolt awake.  And what bothers me is not my decision.  It is the fact that as soon as I awoke, for the life of me I cannot remember where my subconscious settled.  With the reality of waking life, I know my feelings, I am slowly beginning to understand them and work with them.  They are malleable, while at the same time maintaining a rigidity making them impossible to swiftly change.

Yesterday in one of my photography posts, there was a picture of hearts hanging on a wall.  My mom made them when I was a freshman in college and sent them as a gift to decorate an otherwise unremarkable dorm room.  I still have them to this day, and refuse to rid myself of them.  I feel like my emotional canvas is much like those hearts: roughly hewn, a patchwork of color and lace, and dangling from long strings hoping never to fall abruptly.  I hold on to them not only because of the kinship I feel, but also because in their simplicity they are the single most beautiful thing in my room.

Since becoming single I have had a litany of commentary on my casing.  For years I questioned my beauty, always alternating between believing I was a plain Jane and maybe just pretty.  I once mentioned on here that to me the highest compliment is being called beautiful.  Though I take pride in being called “hot” (there is a certain confidence boost knowing that others find you attractive), I miss hearing and feeling confident in the knowledge that my mind and my beliefs and my thoughts are also as stimulating.  That was one thing that Jonathan, when we began dating, excelled at.  He made me feel his equal.  By the end, however, I felt like he thought I was dumb compared to his contemporaries, all of which were PhD candidates and fiercely more intelligent in his scientific plane.  I was an English major with no job who wanted nothing more than to write for a living; someone who can wax on about the enigmatic wit and subversive commentary of Jane Austen, but could not carry on a meaningful conversation about the giant garter snake of the Central Valley.  It already felt like a tear in the seam of our relationship had begun, and when we moved to California, thanks to my immaturity and inability to handle these thoughts and emotions, a gulf passed between us.

Despite settling into a comfortable recognition of these feelings, I have a deep curiosity about where my subconscious fell.  What choice could have jolted me awake?

Sunny days.

The weather here in California is what I would have normally felt in mid to late May in Iowa.  The sun is out, a nice, cool breeze is ruffling up my hair, and it is the right temperature to wear jeans and a tank top and not be cold.  And it’s the beginning of March.  Midwest, the weather out here has you beat.  But that’s about the only thing I like about California.  Well, and maybe the food.  There are a lot more vegetarian/vegan options.  It’s like being meat-free and healthy is a part of the tapestry of Davis.  Two great things, but still not enough to make me desire a longer stay.  I must admit, though, that days like today just make me want to spend as much time outside as possible.  It invigorates, inspires, it’s just beautiful.  I wish I had brought my camera.  I was so concerned with making sure I had my iPod all charged up and that the right songs were on it that I walked out the door before looking around and noticing the photographic potential.  I have to keep telling myself I have a relatively good eye.  We are our own worst critics, right?

When I was walking around earlier, I had the distinct feeling that I did not look like I fit in.  My wardrobe has very distinct colors, that is to say distinct, dark colors.  I have more blacks, greys, and browns, colors that are more popular for winter in the cold, cloudy parts of the United States.  I recently got a couple of shirts from Urban Outfitters, and they are either black or white.  And I colored my hair an auburn hue, and it is rather vibrant, but in the dark and bold way.  With these colors, I looked like I would be at home walking down the street of some Midwest or East Coast metropolitan area rather than the sidewalks of a Californian town.  I am not sure I will ever be able to fully adopt the fresh colors out here.  The oranges, pinks, yellows and golds, tan, and whites.  I prefer blacks, greys, navy blues, browns, and darker hues of naturally bright colors, like pumpkin and eggplant.  Yum.  Pumpkin sounds delicious right now.

I feel stuck in a literary rut.  Nothing is really catching my attention.  I hate when I am not in the middle of reading a book.  I technically am in the middle of one, but it has not been really catching my attention.  I feel like my head has been full of nonsense, and trying to push more in (not that the book is nonsense, in fact it’s a beautifully written book) is causing me to just get irritated.  I rarely get in these anti-reading moods, but I am definitely in one now.  I want to listen to music more or playing video games.  Speaking of video games, Dragon Age II came out last Tuesday.  I was, well, still am, obsessed with the first one.  I have played the game several of times, and even went through Awakening.  The second Dragon Age has been on my wish list since it’s conception.  I just don’t have to finances to get it right now.

Since it is such a brilliant day, I think I will go spend more time in the rays.  Vitamin D, here I come.  And maybe some Starbucks.  Iced coffee deliciousness.

Home.

The idea of home is an intriguing one.  I am from the Midwest.  I grew up in a suburb of Chicago and then went to school at the University of Iowa.  For two years following my graduation date, I stayed in Iowa City.  This past year my fiancé and I moved to California as he began a new chapter in his education.  We are in Davis because he is a PhD student in Conservation Biology.  My sense of belonging is nothing.  I have no connection to this place aside from being a support to him.  There is a small job market and anything that is available has a firm background in the sciences and agricultural studies that this place is famous for.  Any government jobs are surveying areas that are known for their crack and methamphetamine addicts.  It seems like there is no place for me, no place for growth, no place for interests similar to mine.  We are a relatively short distance away from Berkeley and San Francisco.  Though I still do not feel a dramatic pull, I am more connected to the liberal ideals and fine art opportunities that these cities have to offer.  The only problem that arises is the all too common money issue.  Do we move to a middle ground, like Vacaville or Napa?  Can we afford that?  Even the short distance between Davis and San Francisco is an enormous leap in household income and property value.  What opportunities await me?

I often think about home.  What is home?  What makes somewhere home?  How do other places differ from this feeling of “home”?  Is it a tangible thing or is it something completely amorphous?  And can a single person create a feeling of home when everything rebels against it?

Home.  The famous saying is “home is where the heart is.”  This statement confuses me immensely.  Is this a reference to the relationships we have with people?  If so, how can home be where the heart is when families live thousands of miles apart?  If home is where the heart is, does that reflect the intangible feeling that happens when you move some place that just feels like home?  It’s like being punched in the gut, but completely desirable.  I remember the first time I ever saw Iowa City, it was February, grey, snowing, completely miserable conditions to initially see an area (there is a common belief that weather and college decisions correlate; if it’s a bad weather day when you visit your potential campus, it can indirectly affect your decision to move there), but I loved it.  It was this warm feeling that settled over me.  The town was relatively small, but still managed to maintain a city feel.  The different restaurants boasted unique meals and different ethnicities.  The layout of the town intertwines the campus and the pedestrian areas, and it somehow made it more unique.  I knew I was head over heels for the place when my mom and I decided to walk around in subzero weather which introduced us to Iowa City’s coffee supply, the Java House.  We walked in to the one on Washington Street in the pedestrian mall.  The people working, the atmosphere of the place, half home half shop, unique paintings and people reading literary greats ranging from Reagent England to Burrough’s exploration of the drug scene in New York.  It felt like I was home.  This was my place.  I knew I was going to be one of those people, sipping coffee, reading novels, and enjoying the warmth as the wind blew outside.  It was a mini-Chicago, a place that encapsulated all the beauty of a city in the middle of the country.  It was a step in the right direction to realizing my childhood dreams of city living.

I met Jonathan at the University of Iowa.  We shared a class together my freshman year and his sophomore year.  As we learned more about one another, it was obvious that we were from two different families, backgrounds, and that the shared interests were on pleasurable activities, like entertainment and music.  When it came to business and the reasons we were in school, we were completely different.  I was a fine arts girl, majoring in creative writing and religious studies, he was a biology major with a background in ecology.  His dream was to gain a PhD and do research at leading institutes and develop ways to conserve and maintain the ecology of species.  My dream was to write, to live the poet’s life and entertain all aspects of art.  The way it looked to me, the way it sounded, the way it felt and the way it tasted.  I wanted to write poetry and short stories, take photographs and experience life through the notes of musicians.  I even began to develop an interest in Jonathan’s field by  viewing it with my artistic ambitions.  I may not have known the formulas he studied, I may not know the who or what or why, but I began to realize the beauty in their existence.  It always reminds me of this scene in Stigmata where Gabriel Bryne’s character, a priest who is also a scientist, expressed the reason he took the vows.  Though there are these things that disprove God’s existence, why did they occur in the first place?  What made this particle bond with the other particle?  Was it divine inspiration?  There are reasons certain things happen, why oxygen can create carbon dioxide, but what began it?  That is where the art, the beauty, the miracle comes from.  I carved a space for my thinking out of his interests.  I am not sure he ever reciprocated those efforts.  He would listen to me discuss literature and my writing, but I am not sure he ever understood it, or wanted to.

“Home is where the heart is.”  I think it encapsulates interest.  What we love about life and what we do.  Davis does not have a niche for me.  The most I share in common with these people is vegetarianism and a desire to live green.  These are superficial in the scheme of things.  They scratch the surface of my interests.  I remember my first experience with Davis.  We had made the decision, we had signed a lease, and I still had yet to visit the town.  In July my father and I traveled out here.  We flew in to San Francisco, rented a car and drove the two hours up to Davis.  When we first landed I felt some hope.  San Francisco was interesting.  It was different from anything within my scope of knowledge, and it was artistic.  But as we drove north, I could feel those first instances of hope disappear slowly until there was nothing but panic.  Davis is a nice enough town.  It is small, inclusive, and it has adorable shops, some of them being of the coffee persuasion which is an absolute must.  The colors are vibrant and vibe with a west coast mentality and are reminiscent of the hippie days gone by.  But it is not home.  It was as if a force field was around the city and I could not seem to puncture it.  Or maybe even more accurately, my psyche created a force field to which Davis cannot puncture.

There are people reading outside coffee shops, but they are reading scientific journals rather than literature.  There are people typing away on computers, but they are constructing Excel documents and not Word.  There are book stores that are beautiful, unique and locally owned, but they carry more Michael Pollan than Emily Dickinson.  Even authors from the area, like Karen Joy Fowler, describe this area through the eyes of technical and scientific characters rather than artistic ones.  They may read Jane Austen, but they are dog breeders and computer engineers.  The more eclectic characters reside in the Bay area.  These are all things I did not know until I came to Davis.  And these are all things that I felt upon first entering city limits.  It was instinctual.  My gut was hit, and it hurt.

Home.  What is it?  Where is it?  It is in the Midwest.  It is Chicago.  I recently visited and the days were miserable.  The snow was falling, the rain was coming, the wind was blowing, and everything appeared grey, but I saw more color in those days visiting than I ever have in five months of living in Davis.  The colors of this area are vibrant to the eyes, but it is dull and grey to my mind and mentality.  Chicago may literally be grey, but it is more vibrant than anything I have ever experienced.  So what is home?  The place where I live?  Where I physically reside?  Or where I can see color even when there is a bland palate?

Fourteen going on twenty-five.

I am twenty-four.  I have had six surgeries.  I have broken three bones.  I have had countless injuries ranging from sprain, strain to pull.  Whenever I get too little sleep, I ache worse than anything.  If it is going to rain or snow, I feel it in my joints.  I feel like I was just pancaked by a semi-truck.  That, and my head is throbbing.  It is literally throbbing.  The pulsating pain is behind my eyes, and it’s so acute it almost feels like fire on my skin and tension all down my neck.  I have not been sleeping well.  My world-famous insomnia has been my companion for about four weeks.  It was getting a lot better, but the last three nights have been so horrible.  Saturday to Sunday, I fell asleep Sunday morning at 7:00 AM and woke up at 9:54 AM.  Sunday to Monday, I fell asleep Monday morning at 6:00 AM and woke up at 9:37 AM, then managed to fall back asleep around 11:00 AM and slept until 12:30 PM.  Last night, I managed to actually fall asleep by 3:30ish AM and woke up a bit past 6:00 AM.  About three hours each “night”.  I just want to pass out and sleep a good solid eight hours.  I think I would feel revived, more positive, generally “better” than anything I am feeling, physically or otherwise, now.

I have been in a particularly odd music mood.  I get these “cravings” for a certain type of music.  Similarly to how I become obsessed with a certain type of food, I become obsessive with a song or a band or a genre for months at a time.  It’s easy to place certain memories via my music selection.  They are oftentimes connected.  For instance, I was looking through my CDs in the car and one did not have anything written on it.  I tend to date my CDs, or give them a name like Jasper (I know, I am strange), or maybe mention one of the artists that is on it (I do that because for the most part, the obsessions I have start with one artist that then expands outward to genre or theme).  Contemplating what it could be I put it in the player and realized that the songs were singer/songwriter and was most likely made in the Spring of 2008.  Joshua Radin, Schuyler Fisk, Meiko, and more.  Immediately I thought about the House Cafe Tour and of driving back and forth between Chicago and Iowa City.  Also about where I was at that point in my life.  Where Jonathan and I were.  It hit me, so hard, and it actually took my breath away.  It’s moments like that that make me wonder about Serendipity, about fate and consequence.  The CD intrigued me because it was without any hint of what could be on it, and when I put it in, they were all songs that were touching some of the same emotions I have now.  They were songs I listened to obsessively because they spoke to that scared, sad part of myself.  They were also songs that inspired a hope.  They created these warming glows within me and made realize that things can and will get better.  In short, they were songs that spoke to me just as strongly now as they did then, and for similar reasons.

I feel like I have a tenuous hold on things.  And that in and of itself is kind of sad, considering I also feel like I have a stronger hold than I had before.  California has taken its toll on me.  It has not been an easy transition.  There have been plenty of ups and downs, plenty of wrongs and some surprising rights.  I am not sure I could ever appreciate what “growing up” meant until this transition.  It was easier in Iowa City.  It was my safe haven.  I blended and melded with the people there.  It was a fine arts school, and the surrounding area catered to that type of mentality.  It is nothing like that here.  I live in a town that surrounds a tech school.  The primary conversation topics are often of environmentalism and conservation, agriculture and other various forms of scientific research.  The jargon is not purely politically green (as in the three R’s and electric cars, etc.) but carries the weight of the research behind these agendas.  It makes me feel dumb some times.  I was never one who bonded with scientific research or clearly understood the notions behind it.  My life seems to center around it now, and it is scary.  Plain and simple.  To find a positive nook out here has also been difficult.  The people we know are graduate students in conservation biology.  They discuss Jane Goodall and I am more Jane Austen oriented.  The one place where I have felt my niche grow stronger is with eccentric personalities.  They are liberal and often times this sensibility comes out in their “free time”.  A tenuous grasp, a weak hold, I think that is an accurate description.

I have never been good at making friends.  My mom always says I am an open book.  The emotions that I feel flit across my face.  My anger is consuming and it burns out my eyes and can melt people’s faces.  (P.S. I just had a Charlie Sheen flashback moment.  He said something similar in an interview.  But don’t worry, I am not on the drug called “Charlie Sheen,” obviously, because he told us all that it was unavailable for purchase.  Man needs a straight jacket laced up and should be carted off to the local mental institute.  Cocaine induced psychosis can sure take its toll on people.)  When I rage, I turn into a different person.  I used to control it better.  I would be able to take a step back, calm down, acknowledge my emotions and then evaluate them.  Some times I would be able to come back and apologize for the insecure child I became, I would be able to explain where it came from and the convoluted path it took.  I have lost it.  Complacency is by and far my worst enemy.  You don’t just take one step forward and two steps back, you get shoved all the way to the beginning.  Communication is an art, it is something that some people excel in, but for the most part, you (a universal “you”) have to work on it.  The words that used to come so easy began shutting down.  The self-awareness started to diminish.  And everyone around me paid the consequences.  Parents, sister, fiancé, friends, they all had to deal with my over exuberant desire to yell “FUCK YOU” at the top of my lungs and run.  Oh California, how you have changed me.  I will be twenty-five years old in May.  I feel like I will be turning that age not from twenty-four, but from fourteen.  But the nice thing is this: acknowledging it is making me feel “good” (quotations because good is such a generic term and I am unsure I have any other adjectives to add, but the general feeling is positive).

Remember when?

Lately I have thought about the past.  Are these walks down memory lane positive reminiscences?  I honestly don’t know.  Some times it feels like I am looking back at something sublime, and other times it’s just a memory I wish I could bury for all eternity.  The past couple of months have inspired general musings on memory.  There have been some upheavals in my life and they have caused me to thoroughly look at my past, my present, and what I want for my future.  Recent events inspired me to watch Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind near the beginning of February and I had mixed feelings (not about the movie itself, which I love, but about the idea behind its plot, erasing people and events from your memory).  This behavior, the wish to erase the past, is not something new for me.  I have always had certain events and people who I wish were cast from my memory.  I always vacillate between the wish to ultimately forget something and the wish to use it as a learning tool.  It is also no shocking revelation that my feelings on the subject ultimately change when I have sunk into some depressing pit of despair.  The easy way out, by far, is to have the past removed, to have the memories taken away, to be blissfully ignorant of the highs and lows.  And I know “ignorance is bliss,” but how happy can we actually be when we are universally unaware of the truth?  Would you rather live a lie or would you rather know the truth and work towards a desired outcome?

Our thoughts create our universe, yes?  It is a beautiful idea, no doubt, but it is also a scary one.  I like to say I am a realist, but for the most part I am simply a pessimist.  Even when the best thing for me is to THINK POSITIVE, and maintain a positive mental attitude, I always sink into the negative mind-set.  I always like to think that I do this because I would rather know what the negative will be and then be graciously surprised when things turn out better.  But is that really what happens?  My mom always talks about self-fulfilling prophecy.  When we got into a situation thinking that only bad can happen, then only bad will happen.  Our mind is so preoccupied with finding the negatives to a situation that we only see the negatives.  We are no longer surprised that “things could be better” because how will they become better when you are constantly looking for the bad?  And even though I know this, I cannot help but to let myself sink into this absolutely negative spiral.  And that’s what it is, a spiral.  I take one step and fall completely into this downward spiral.  I grasp at anything to try to pull myself out of it, but the negativity becomes so powerful it is a new gravity.  I have been re-watching Friends and there is one episode where Phoebe tells Ross that she has an issue with gravity; that she does not feel so much that gravity is pulling her down but that something is pushing her down.  When I allow myself to fall into this negative thinking, I must say I agree with Phoebe.  I do not feel like my negativity is pulling me down, but that it has pushed down and making sure I stay down.  There is this roaring negative monster in my psyche and when she manages to get a foot in the door, she terrorizes every thought until she has shoved me down a hole of my creation.  My thoughts create my world, well then, there are times when I am simply shit out of luck.

As clear by my last post, I have attempted to coax the inner photographer out of myself.  I desperately want a new camera, but the only way I can justify the purchase (whenever that may occur) is to begin taking photographs.  I also believe that this new-found desire will help get me out and about in my new town.  Since moving to Davis I have not had too many self-made opportunities to get out of the apartment.  I know part of that is because I am still not too fond of the how and why I am here.  Whether it was on purpose, meaning intentional or unintentional, I have boycotted this new chapter of my life.  Whether or not I wanted it should no longer be the cause of action (or lack thereof).  I am here.  Now I must experience it.  I have four and a half more years of being a Californian and I need to make the most out of the situation.  By not letting go of my past, I cannot fully dive into my future.  That does not mean I should forget my past, it just means that I should not sit here looking at old photographs from Iowa City and go, “Oh, I wish I was there so desperately.”  Does this mean I am growing up?  Sure feels like it.

This year I will be turning 25.  A quarter century.  For the past three birthdays I have had this desperation associated with it.  Another year passing and no closer to really knowing who and what I am.  Those thoughts still exist, and they have evoked some fear in me, but at the same time, I feel like for the first time since graduating University of Iowa, that I am settling into who I am.  I may not have the job I want, I may not have the house I desire, I may not have the friends I want around me, but I finally feel like I have acknowledged a part of me that I always wanted to forget or cast aside.  I have no longer been focusing on making certain feelings disappear, but accepted them as a part of myself.  I have taken that facet of me and it has been the basis of some truly beautiful art.  I am no longer trying to hide it, but I am trying to make the best out of it.  It’s nice.  It’s a step in the right direction.  Each year since I turned nineteen I have had a saying associated with my birthday and it corresponds to my age.  The big 1-9.  Stephanie 2.0.  TEQUILA (even though now I wish M.I.A. had been around with her song “Teqkilla”… if only).  Double Dos.  And so forth.  This year I have decided on my saying: “Two dimes and a nickel.”

I think that I need to reexamine how I walk down memory lane.  I don’t want to think of the “what-ifs” or “if onlys” but look at these events and people and think “thank God for these experiences” and “thank God for these people”.  There is a positive and negative to everything.  I really need to begin looking at the positives and not focusing on the negatives.  Jesse Lacey says “my bright is too slight to cover all my dark” and I empathize with that.  I often feel the same way.  But at the same time I think that I give the dark too much credit and the light too little.  It’s all a matter of thought, right?  Our THOUGHTS create our UNIVERSE.