Random Thoughts on February 23, 2013.

I dislike that when I have a job, my writing goes to shit.  Luckily I am taking a writing class, which forces me to practice, but if I did not have that constant push each week, I am not sure I would write nearly as much.  And, to me, that is unacceptable.  The problem still is, though, that I would not write if there was not a reason to write.  Not because I don’t have ideas, not because I don’t like it, but because at the end of the day I am typically so exhausted that my brain feels like a big, heaping pile of oatmeal.  There are some days with this class that when I attempt to write a scene (and believe me, it is reflected in my “grades”) and I sit and stare at the screen for what seems like hours without producing something.  Or I’ll start six or seven different possibilities and stall, miserably, in the middle of them.  Though I love fiction (to read), I am not sure fiction writing is for me.  Non-fiction, however, suits me well.  I like all non-fiction, ranging from memoir to (gasp, shock and awe!) textbooks.  That’s right people, I enjoy reading something as dry and non-imaginative as a textbook.  For example, I kept some of my academic books from undergrad and they sit on my bookshelf.  I was an English major, so of course there are fiction books (more Virginia Woolf than I would care to ever reread), but I also kept some of my general education class books.  Knowledge is sexy, people.  Big, beautiful brains outweigh brawn in my opinion.  Intelligent conversations with someone are far more stimulating than to sit and drool over someones six-pack or hair or whatever (I know, strong way to end that statement).

I am sitting on my couch, cat pajamas still on (yes, its middle morning, but I’ve been up since six this morning getting stuff done), massive mug of coffee (from my infamous Iowa Hawkeyes mug, which I think is actually a soup bowl), dog at my feet, and cat curled up on the sofa leaning her butt against my neck (she is a built-in headrest).  Music is coming out of my iHome (I know, fancy, right?), and I feel very content.  Though content implies a deeper serene with everything in your life.  I am not that content.  I wish I was in a bigger place (though I am on my way to procuring that), I wish I was in a different place (i.e. geographical location, like Portland, OR), and I wish I had… I don’t even know how to articulate what I wish I had.  The best I can think of is “calm” — not constantly wishing for something, not hoping to find something, I wish I had that settled feeling, not this restless, listless nagging in my gut about everything.  Should I stay in Iowa?  Should I move to Portland?  I have something good going with school, but does that outweigh what I could have in another part of the country?  Can I stand three to four more years here when every time I drive to class I go past the place Jonathan proposed and still feel this twinge of …hurt, pain, anger, sadness, guilt, self-flagellation.  It’s been almost two years since we broke up, and I can safely say that I know it was for the best and that I think we are both on positive paths for our own lives, and it’s sad that after five years together we realized that our lives are separate, but I cannot say that it wasn’t the right thing to do (which is to say that our break up was the right thing).  And I always feel guilty saying that, because I know if I was in Jonathan’s shoes, it would feel like a slap in the face.  Or at least that is how I would feel, not saying that’s how he does feel.  However, I look at my dog, my cat, and my apartment, and think, “I would have none of these things, my life would be so much different, I would not be pursuing my goals,” if we had remained together.  And even more, I am not sure I would have discovered those wants or fulfilled those desires.  I was living in a shell, and it fractured, and now I am learning how to walk, opening my eyes to the brilliant sun, and ready to try to fly.  (Wow, okay, over dramatic metaphor aside, I am just hoping to find my path.)

To jump from thought to thought, in my writing class we do these in-class writings with prompts and every time someone shares what they’ve written I always make notes and typically one of the notes I write in the margins of my own in-class writing is “clichéd,” or “over-dramatic,” or “too sappy,” and even one time I wrote, “you think that’s what love is?!?”  (Yes, even with the question mark, exclamation point, question mark punctuation.)  I feel like I am in the depths of lost love and I really don’t even want to claw myself out.  I was somewhat romantic, asking to find a Darcy to my Elizabeth, but as time passes I feel like it is bullshit idea.  There is romance in small things, like someone bringing you a coffee when you have to work early, or letting you have half of a carrot cake pastry, or giving you eighty-five cents to eat a bag of Doritos when you feel like your stomach might eat itself, and those gestures are wonderful, but when I see people get all worked up over things like Valentine’s Day it makes me gag.  I was never one to truly get into that holiday to begin with (even when I had a fiance and thought he was the end all, be all), but the idea of going all gooey eyed over a box of chocolates makes me question a lot of relationships.  A better present would be a sheet of paper that says, “Hey, I love you.  And to help you out, I will walk the dog, do the dishes, and make the bed for a week.  Boom.”  Partnership, camaraderie, and mutual respect means far more than a heart-shaped balloon and chocolate to me.  Though chocolate can go a long way when you are PMS-ing on that day.  Just saying.

I feel like life has jaded me.  There are certain things and beliefs and ideals that I had as recently as three years ago that are gone.  They disintegrated as my life kind of fell apart.  It’s grand to believe that you can find love, and absolutely an attainable idea, and emotion, but I think I have shut myself down so much that I am finding it more difficult to come out of that hole.  Every once in a while I will get that rush of emotion, but I have become so self-contained that I am not sure I can support it for any length of time.  Bottom line, truth of the matter, any other cliché associated with this subject: I am scared.  It’s such a typical response, but it’s the truth.  There is time the fear is paralyzing.  Everyone always comments that I am strong person, but all I feel like is a quivering lump of anxiety and fear.  Like negative reinforcement, it always seems that when I begin to get attached, when I begin to let the wall down, something happens that devastates me.  Even if I never let on.  Even if I don’t show it.  Even if I remain silent or say everything is okay.  And the sad part is that is becoming exhausting.  To hold that shield up takes some effort, but it is just as exhausting when you let the shield down and get volleyed by different emotional arrows.  (If you can’t tell, I’ve had a week of I don’t even know what.)

I’ll leave you with those thoughts.  Right now a pile of laundry the size of Mt. Kilimanjaro is requesting my attention.  Along with Chewbacca and Auri.  And more coffee.  And a myriad of other things that I haven’t gotten done (even though it feels like I have worked, and in fact have worked, for hours).

Fairy tales.

There was once upon a time that I believed in fairy tales.  Even as an adult, there was this illusion of romance playing out the clichéd story arch.  Boy meets girl.  Boy falls for girl.  Girl falls for boy.  Boy and girl live happily ever after.  We never find out what life is like after happily ever after.  I think what experience has taught me is that there is never a generic happily ever after, or even one at all.  There are hard times, and on the occasion, there are gut-wrenching break-ups and heart-crushing realities.  I hurt you, you hurt me, we never speak, and that is the new ever after.  Everyone deserves second chances and new relationships.  But what if the thought terrifies you so much you refuse to take that step.  You sit and you make excuses to be mad, to be angry, to feel betrayed, to make sure that if there is anyone who is going get hurt, it’s the other person, not you, because when you reflect you realize the truth is that you could not survive the fall again.  Maybe the person is worth it, but your fear is what leaves you standing on the precipice.  The next question, the one that tangles my tongue and makes me sweat, is should I leap anyways?

There is no clear answer.  There is no right or wrong one.  When emotions become involved, the best you can hope for is someone who will catch you, or someone who will dive headlong with you.  The reality, though, is that as we grow, each of us will experience a life-altering relationship.  By the time we reach a certain age, there will be a certain shadow covering any possible romance.  Doubt will creep into you and that genuine innocence of first love will no longer exist.  It makes the falling that much tougher, because you have the bruises and the welts and the scars as proof that safe is better than sorry.  Age, maturity, and common sense halt relationships before they can truly start because you quiver with fear at all the negative outcomes, and fail to realize the biggest truth: the potential is there for a wonderful, beautiful, and lovely outcome.  You could find the one (if there is such a thing).

I was reading quotes the other day, a favorite pastime of mine, and found one that scared me.  Well, several did, but this one scared me because the truth of it hit too close to home.  It said there are some people we are destined to fall in love with, but never be with. It terrified me that future relationships would be as devastating as my previous one.  To fall, so thoroughly, in love, and to have it come to nothing, to be crushed by the emotion, is a slow and painful torment.  It truly had me questioning: is it worth it?

There is an unprecedented thrill in having a crush.  However, when the crush starts becoming real, when you begin questioning if there is a future, I find it easier to turn the switch, to shut down and have those emotions come to a screeching stop.  The common thought is that men are the ones afraid to move forward, they fear commitment and will do anything, cruel and soulless, to stop a relationship from moving towards those scary waters.  If that’s true, then I am one of a handful of women in the boat with those men.  The irony is that I am a hopeless romantic.  The thought of a man and a woman meeting, catching eyes, holding the gaze a moment too long, and turning away is an image I always hold to.  It’s one of those fantastic stories that all romantic comedies preach like the Gospel, and it’s one that women across the world pray to have.  And deep within me there is a little girl still imagining that she will meet her Prince Charming in such a fashion.  However, the more grown up, experienced, and therefore cynical, part of me is shoving her down and laughing à la Nelson from the Simpsons.

There is wisdom in life experience, but when does it become more than following good advice and begin being considered an irrational fear of love?  Am I irrationally afraid of love?  Once upon a time I believed in “once upon a time,” but it feels like those days are long gone.  Even when engaged, I began to lose faith in the plotline.  It seems, in retrospect, the ending became inevitable, and the twist of events were Kismet, much to the extreme pain of the main characters.  But hindsight, that bitch, is always 20/20.

Sweet Nothing by Calvin Harris featuring Florence Welch.

I have been playing this song over and over.  It reminds me of you.  I am not sure that is a good thing.  It definitely says things I feel and things I am too afraid to voice because I am not even sure I have the right to voice them.  Either way, these lyrics remind me of you.  I guess take what you will from them.

You took my heart and you held it in your mouth, and with a word all my love came rushing out, and every whisper, it’s the worst, emptied out by a single word.  There is a hollow in me now.  So I put my faith in something unknown (I’m living on such sweet nothing), but I’m tired of hope with nothing to hold (I’m living on such sweet nothing), and it’s hard to learn, and it’s hard to learn, you’re giving me such sweet nothing, sweet nothing, sweet nothing, you’re giving me such sweet nothing.  It isn’t easy for me to let it go, cause I’ve swallowed every single word, and every whisper, every sigh, eats away at this heart of mine.  There is a hollow in me now.  So I put my faith in something unknown (I’m living on such sweet nothing), but I’m tired of hope with nothing to hold (I’m living on such sweet nothing), and it’s hard to learn, and it’s hard to learn, you’re giving me such sweet nothing, sweet nothing, sweet nothing, you’re giving me such sweet nothing.  And it’s not enough to tell me that you care when we both know your words are empty air.  You give me nothing, nothing… sweet nothing, sweet nothing.

Tofurkey Day.

Hello all!  It’s Thanksgiving, and in the world of the enlightened bean, that means Tofurkey Day (vegetarian protein based dish of semi-deliciousness).  And it means being thankful for all the things in my life, great and small, good and bad, that have helped me carry out goals, put me on a path towards desired dreams, and have shaped me into the woman I am today.  And the things that continue to shape me.

There are so many people who are in my thoughts today, from the past, to the present, and hopes of the future.  Despite this year being one of the more difficult ones I have ever experienced, I cannot disregard all the painful moments and memories.  Just as the good moments serve a purpose, the bad ones do too.  And despite the heartache and the tears, I hold those things close to my heart because without them, there would be no room for growth, there would not be the opportunities I have now.

I was listening to Savage Garden (moment to gasp and choke on whatever you’re eating or drinking) the other day (and no insults, please, you remember singing along to that chica-cherry cola song, too!) and there was a line in the song “Affirmation” that said, “I believe you can never really appreciate true love until you’ve been burned.”  Out of all the affirmations in that song, that one stuck out to me.  Maybe that’s what needed to happen.  Maybe I got too close to the fire, and now I can learn to appreciate it, the warmth, the heat, the comfort, without losing myself to it.  Without losing who I am and who I will be.  It’s been eight painful months of questions, what-if’s, what were’s, who am I’s, and more, and I think today marks one remarkable moment: I woke up this morning and felt one step closer to whole.  I asked my mom a couple of months ago when it would stop hurting to look back at things between Jonathan and I, when it would feel normal, when would it become just a pleasant memory instead of a pain deep in my chest, and she said she didn’t know, it’s different for everyone, there is no time-table, but one day I would wake up and feel “it’s okay.”  It’s been a gradual process, but you know what… it’s okay.  And I know it will be good.  And then great.  And then fabulous.

Thank you — to everyone, you know who you are — for shaping my life.  And for giving me hope.

And thank you — you know who you are — for your consideration, your patience, and most of all, the smiles, there have been so many.

An avalanche.

Have you ever had moments in life that stick with you.  When you pull up the memory, you even have sensory recollection?  The smell, the taste, the temperature, even, how warm you felt, flushed and blushing versus the sun pouring down on you, even the beats per minute that your heart hammers out.  There are instances where you know something profound and life altering has happened, albeit small, but you aren’t sure how it will change you, why it is changing you, and when it will come to fruition, but you know, somewhere deep within, that moment was the moment, the tripwire, the beginning of an oftentimes difficult, but ultimately rewarding, journey.

The last couple months have left me contemplating such moments.  Discussions, glances, smiles; a vast array of fleeting images that I know stacked up to become the burgeoning life changes assaulting me now.  (Pardon my use of the term “assault,” as it implies some type of violent act, but it’s the best thing I can think of to say; life is bombarding me with choices and decisions and although they do not carry threat, the swiftness to which they come to my door is somewhat unnerving.)  I have goals, ones that I feel confident in for the first time in years.  They inspire me to keep going when the going gets tough (oh, sweet clichés).  I can picture my desired future and know that one more whispered insult is something I can take, because those end goals are more important than words bullies use.  And I feel, maybe for the first time since Jonathan and I broke up, the hope for a real future.  It makes me nervous to think about, genuine fear blossoming, but it’s that good kind of fear, like that good kind of burn after a work out, the ache that goes deep but you know it’s worth it.

I truly believe there are small blessings in difficult situations.  Recently my friend broke up from her fiancé, just as I had with Jonathan, but not for the same reasons.  In an effort to move forward and not become ensnared in the what if’s, the could be’s, and what were’s, she has taken to seeing the silver lining in situations,  great and small.  Whenever her situation challenges her, she picks the things that will make her happy and tries to focus on those and not sink in the tide of depression that ultimately comes with these situations.  I commend her for this, because I was definitely not as strong.  I tried to take my pain and deal with it one day at a time, but in the end found myself staring into the neck of a beer bottle or looking at my reflection in the pool of Grey Goose in a martini glass.  We all deal with defeat and hurt in different ways, but I can honestly say that had I not had these experiences, I wonder where, and who, I would be.  Is this an overarching silver lining?  Is this one of the plethora of lessons that come from these moments?

It hurts that we broke up, but at least we weren’t married yet, and there were no kids.  He seems so much happier in California than he ever was in Iowa, and that’s a blessing.  Just like I have opportunities in front of me that I would have otherwise lacked.  I can see friends again, be with family, enjoy those small moments of walking in Chicago with K, getting coffee with Mom, eating with my twin, and seeing my sister and joking about the most random things.  And then there are even more personal blessings.  Ones that I want to keep to myself.  That make me glow with happiness.  And those are the moments I have contemplated.  A small stone can create a large avalanche.  An image typically about impending doom, something crushing and destructive.  But I am spinning it positively.  A small thing that can change the tide, a small moment that can alter a life, a small instant that create something new and powerful.  And I can’t stop grinning thinking about it.  I am settling into something new, a life that is mine, with my own choices, my own moments, and most importantly, my happiness.

“Shake It Out” by Florence and the Machine.

Regrets collect like old friends, here to relive your darkest moments.  I can see no way, I can see no way.  And all of the ghouls come out to play.  And every demon wants his pound of flesh, but I like to keep some things to myself.  I like to keep my issues strong.  It’s always darkest before the dawn.  And I’ve been a fool, and I’ve been blind, and I can never leave the past behind.  I can see no way, I can see no way.  I’m always dragging that horse around.  And our love has pastured such a mournful sound.  Tonight I am going to bury that horse in the ground.  Cause I like to keep my issues strong.  It’s always darkest before the dawn.  Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, oh woah…shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, oh woah.  And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back, so shake him off, oh woah.  And I am done with my graceless heart, so tonight I’m going to cut it out and then restart.  Cause I like to keep my issues strong, it’s always darkest before the dawn.  Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, oh woah…shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, oh woah.  And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back, so shake him off, oh woah.   And given half the chance would I take any of it back?  It’s a final mess but it’s left me so empty.  It’s always darkest before the dawn…Oh woah, oh woah…And I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t, so here’s to drinks in the dark at the end of my road.  And I’m ready to suffer and I’m ready to hope.  It’s a shot in the dark and right at my throat, cause looking for heaven, for the devil in me, looking for heaven, for the devil in me… well what the hell, I’m gonna let it happen to me.  Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, oh woah…shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, oh woah.  And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back, so shake him off, oh woah.  Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, oh woah…shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, oh woah.  And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back, so shake him off, oh woah.