Saturday, April 2, 2011

BEDA 1: A Better Version of Me

So, BEDA stands for "Blog Everyday in April," and already I'm off to an epic start, posting my "first day" just after midnight so technically it's on day 2. Whatever. I tend to measure my days in wake-to-sleep increments, meaning most start at 10am and end in the 2-3am vicinity. So, going forward with that mentality I hope you'll forgive me and.... let's move on.

I don't know what to blog about today, but that won't always be the case. Sometimes I'll have a specific theme or topic, but today it's just a general intro, a this-random-thought-popped-into-my-head-so-I'll-write-it-down kind of post.

My grandmother (Oma) and Aunt from Indiana are down visiting this week. The school where Mom teaches is on spring break, so they decided to drive down for a few days and hang out with her/us. In terms of living arrangements, I'm really the only one this has affected seriously. Since my grandmother can no longer handle the stairs, she has to sleep in my room (the only one downstairs), which meant I spent Tuesday night cleaning like a madwoman in preparation for her arrival. Aunt Barbara is up in our upstairs guest room, which has me sleeping on a mattress on the living room floor (the "fancy" living room, the one we never go in unless there's company. The room that we actually do the most "living" in is called "the den." One of those odd things.) So here I am, surrounded by fancy furniture and antiques (which are now draped artfully with my work clothes, or holding up stacks of books and papers.) I wish I could take a picture, but the camera's crammed in a drawer in my room right now and Oma is fast asleep in there. Imagination will have to do.

We ate brunch at Le Peep this morning, Oma, Aunt Barb, Mom, Dad, Wesley and I. I had an Omni Omelette, perfectly ruining my diet. Afterward we stopped by Trader Joe's. In the afternoon I walked about 2 miles, which will help burn off the calories a little, but Bavarian Beef Pie for dinner didn't help things much there either. After dinner, Wes and Dad were both gone (Wes at work, Dad reffing) so we girls played a card game called Quiddler, which I won. In the evening, we watched "Most" (which is Czech for "The Bridge"), an Oscar-nominated short film. Then everybody went to sleep and since then I've been surfing the web and reading "Game of Thrones" by George R.R. Martin.

See? That's why I never try to write diary-like entries on this blog. That last paragraph was dreadful. Then we did this, then we did that, then, then then THEN THEN THEN....

So dull.

Here's what tomorrow's would look like if I did that every day (don't worry! I won't!): Wake up, drive to the library, work until five, drive to the church, clean the sanctuary and gym buildings, drive home, shower, surf the web, read, hang with the family, go to bed. SO SO SO SO DULL.

Can you see why I read all the time? Why I write? Why I want to get the hell out of here?!!?

Every so often I start to miss London. Yes, that London. The city in England. The funny thing is, when I'm there I think to myself, "Why do I idealize this place so? Why do I love it like I'd love a person?" And yet I do. If it were a person, I'd really want to give it a huge hug right about now. I miss it. I want to go there. If I could hop on a plane instead of driving to work tomorrow.... but no. It does no good to entertain those thoughts.


I'm happy to see my family. I'm grateful to have a job I don't loathe. Is my life boring, though? Yes. Yes it is. And I can't help thinking that it's no one's fault but my own. I don't take chances. I'm not brave. I've allowed my mind to become lazy, dulled. I lack discipline. I occasionally have vision, but lack the guts to see it through to any sort of end.

When I was a little girl people would tell me the story of how they assumed my life would go, because it's the way most people's lives go: I would graduate from high school and go to college. I would probably date a lot in college. I'd graduate and get a job that would pay my bills, possibly even one that I liked a lot, and I'd eventually meet someone and marry them, settle down together, and we'd start saving up for the house, then we'd have kids and a mortgage to pay, then we'd get sucked into a world of PTA meetings and soccer practices, then our kids would be old enough to graduate high school and go on and perpetuate the cycle.

This is a nice life. And a version of myself (there are many versions) that exists somewhere hidden down deep still thinks this is the way my life should be. That version of myself mourns the fact that I didn't date in college, that I haven't met someone and gotten married, that I haven't found a job that I like or the self-discipline to learn to love any job despite my interest level. It says I should be responsible, finish off my graduate degree and spend the next few years of my life taking classes I don't like but that will help me keep a job that I'm relatively good at, and not going anywhere or doing anything costly in order to more quickly pay off all my student loans. This version of myself could live here in Charlotte forever. This version of myself would hold the other versions at bay by getting the occasional non-plain-Jane haircut or rearranging the furniture or drinking too much wine.

But those other versions are hard to keep at bay...

There's a version of myself that has always wanted to follow in George Orwell's footsteps. "Down and Out in Paris and London?" Why not quit my job and fly to London with nothing but $200 in my pocket and see what happened? See how long I could last? This risk-taker, daredevil version is obsessed with wanderlust. Why not ride a bike around America? Or better yet, get another job and spend the next year killing myself working way too many hours to (a) pay off my loans, then (b) save up enough for a van or camper, gas money, and enough for groceries and then spend a summer driving all around the U.S. and hitting up every wacky tourist attraction imaginable? (I've actually started a list of all the places, silly and serious, I'd want to go). This version of myself wishes I could figure out a way to make money that doesn't involve a stationary career. This version wants to see the world.

Another version of me doesn't mind a stationary life, but wants it to be somewhere else. Wants to move to New York or London or Chicago or Portland or Austin... somewhere where Things Are Going On and I could begin to put down roots and make a space for myself away from my parents and maybe widen my circle of friends.

There's a version of myself that feels like girls in the 1800s who were past marriageable age. This version wouldn't mind living at home forever, depending on my parent's income for as long as they're alive. This is the Jane-Austen-writing-novels-beneath-her-sewing-in-the-public-sitting-room version of me. The reclusive-spinster-poet-Emily-Dickinson version of me. This is also the version of me that regrets the invention of the computer. That prefers ink pens to keyboards and paper to screens.

There's a version of me that wishes she could buy land and build a makeshift cabin and grow her own food and live entirely separate from technology and modern conveniences.

There's a part of me that could not live without Thursday night comedy on NBC, that checks Facebook religiously, that obsesses over the casting for movie versions of my favorite books. This version misses 90's music and loves the kind of food that comes in packages - things you thaw or bake or just add water or boil then TA DA! You're done. This version loves bubble baths and cheesy dialogue at the end of romantic comedies. This version loves heat and air conditioning and driving places in cars.

There's a scholarly, bookish version of me that would love nothing more than to read and write and theorize and discuss and pontificate all the live long day. I imagine this version at Oxford, among the trees and pubs and ancient architecture and dusty tomes.

There's a version of me that wishes desperately that she had been this age in the 1960s, and laments the fact that the spirit of idealism and the idea that people could change the world and make it a better place has become so diluted mere decades later. This version of me thinks a lot of young people are spoiled and take things for granted, or that we're lazy and we see the need for change but are too apathetic or too ignorant to do anything about it.

I could go on and on and on with all these different versions, but what's the point? Technically, I'm all of them. Which makes for a confusing life, all these often-conflicting ideas and feelings bumper-car-ing around inside of me.

I'm all of these things PLUS someone's granddaughter, someone's niece, someone's daughter, someone's sister, someone's friend. I'm every book I've ever read, every joke that's ever made me laugh, every tree I've climbed, every word I've ever written. I am whoever I am whether I'm here or whether I'm in London or whether I'm somewhere else entirely.

To borrow the title of a Fiona Apple song, I'll just have to try my hardest to wrangle all these crazy versions of myself, to sculpt and shape them until I can somehow form a better version of me.

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