Friday, December 21, 2012

It's the End of the World

So maybe the world didn't end today (or at least not yet as I write this), but it's still the perfect time for a new beginning. Let something end today: fears, doubts, excuses, some negative attitude or habit. Put it behind you. Let it burn to rubble, or sic the zombies on it, or [insert apocalyptic-demise-of-choice here]. The point is, wake up tomorrow and choose to live in a brave new world. It's not nearly as exciting as fighting off an alien invasion, but it will no doubt require a great deal of patience, strength and courage. Good luck!

Monday, December 3, 2012


Sometimes you just have to be willing to write today off, to realize that nothing good is going to come of it, to keep your head down and your thoughts small until sundown, to go to sleep and hope tomorrow's not just more of the same.

Sometimes you have to acknowledge that you are a bad person, and that you are choosing to do the selfish thing because it is the only thing that makes each day not feel like you're breathing in poison. Seriously. I know that when someone is hurting they might lash out in anger at you. I know I should be the bigger person and forgive. But I don't want to forgive. I don't want to be there for her. I'm happier with her out of my life completely. It's terrible, but I feel like she's this cancerous tumor and I've cut her off and I'm able to live life again. She's not a cancerous tumor (that's the terrible person in me talking), she's a human being. And she's hurting. And I should be kind. But some people hurt and some people wallow. And her kind of hurting is the I-must-do-everything-in-my-power-to-drag-everyone-else-down-with-me kind. It's the if-I'm-going-to-feel-this-terrible-I-want-you-to-feel-doubly-so kind. It's the you-haven't-done-anything-to-contribute-to-this-problem-but-I'm-going-to-make-you-suffer-for-it-anyway kind. It's toxic. It's petty. It's poison. And I don't want it anywhere near me.

Sometimes you have to be willing to face hard truths, to realize that maybe what you're mourning here isn't so much the loss of a person but the loss of an innocence. There was a caring and compassionate person somewhere inside me once that has died. I don't care about her. I don't want her to suffer, don't get me wrong, but it's in this vague and generic way that you feel about strangers you hear about during some big disaster relief effort. I feel bad for the people without power or shelter because of Sandy. I would do what I could to help them. But I don't feel any personal bond with them. It's entirely the mild investment of of someone who doesn't have to stick around and see it through. I'll donate my money to the Red Cross and say my prayers for a week or so, then life will move on and my involvement will be over. I want my involvement to be over. I don't want to salvage this. I don't want to be invested. I don't actually care. Her cat is dying. That's sad. My pets have died before. But guess what? It doesn't have to destroy you to the degree that she's letting it. She's wallowing. She's doing the emo thing that I've done many a time before where you practically revel in the sadness. Not really; I mean, you're not necessarily getting joy from it, but despair is an emotional high just as much as joy, and sometimes it's just so very nice to feel. But it's immature and unhealthy and it pisses me off. I don't have the patience for it, for her. I know it seems like I'm turning my back on her, but what you've got to understand is that she turned her back on me a long time before this. Weeks definitely, but in subtle ways I suspect really it's been months. We've been slowly becoming two very different people. Just because we were close when we were little doesn't mean we have to be or even should be now.

Sometimes you can talk yourself into thinking there are good reasons for these choices you're making, but there usually aren't. They are very probably bad choices. You are very definitely doing something wrong. As much as we all want to paint ourselves as the heroes of our own stories, in this one you've got to be content to come out the villain. She's painted herself a victim, you're sick of her wolf-cries, and so you leave her to her despair and go on with life. It seems heartless and cold, but you do it anyway.

Sometimes life just breaks you in half. So you write today off, and hope for another chance.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Unforgivable Sin

According to Christian Scripture, there is one unforgivable sin. I don't know where the Catholics get their thing about suicide, but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the sin mentioned in Mark 3 and Matthew 12: "blasphemy against the Holy Spirit."

This isn't going to be a sermon, I promise. It's a metaphor. But give me a minute to lay the groundwork so it'll all make sense. I'm sure there are a number of ways to interpret this passage, but I heard a speaker once who explained it in a way I'll never forget. According to him, "blasphemy against the Holy Spirit" isn't me saying, "Fuck you, Holy Spirit," or "You're the devil, Holy Spirit." Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is total and absolute rejection of the Holy Spirit.

So basically, the "unforgivable sin" is choosing to not be forgiven. And God just says, "Okay, if that's what you want... fine."

I have a friend that I've known for 21 years. She's going through a bad time right now. She feels really stressed and misunderstood. She also has this one fatal flaw: she can't forgive. If you do anything to make her feel slighted or hurt in any way, that's it. Unfriended. Deleted. Gone. No second chances.

I've danced a fine tightrope for 21 years. Once when we were ten-years-old we had an argument. We were swimming in the kiddie pool in her backyard, and I was instructed by my mother not to get my towel wet. She wanted to play mermaids using her towel as a "fin" over her legs and insisted I join her. When I refused, she pulled the towel in anyway. I was so furious, I left the towel and stormed home, barefoot and in nothing but my bathing suit, down hot asphalt and crunchy gravel driveways, until I finally made it home sobbing, and by the time I burst through the door my phone was already ringing and it was her on the other end, and we were both apologizing to each other, and the whole thing was funny and ridiculous, because of course something so stupid could never keep us from being friends.

But sixteen years later, I fear something so stupid has. It's a string of small stupid things - she feels that I purposefully left her out of trips and outings, that I've grown somehow "mean" (and it's true, I'm far more blunt than I used to be), and she has mistaken my concerned consultation with a mutual friend as some kind of disloyal plotting and backstabbing. I've written lengthy letters trying to defend myself, or at the very least explain my motives. I've made apologies, imploring and groveling even when, in all honesty, I'd much rather just smack some sense into the girl, because I know her, and I know that if I don't pull out all the stops, I'll lose her.

The only unforgivable sin is choosing not to be forgiven, but that's the only option she's left me with. I want to be her friend, but if she'll never extend pardon, if she'll never try to consider things from anyone's perspective but her own, if she'll never extend the kind of friendship she expects to receive, if she insists on clinging to her personal grievances instead of trying to push beyond them to a place of healing, then all I can do is mourn and move on and live my life without her.

It's weird losing someone to something other than death.

I think no matter how legitimate your cause, allowing anything to stand in the way of the transformative power of forgiveness and love is foolish and will only bring about your own destruction. That's pretty much my entire religion in a nutshell, from Lucifer's rebellion to Adam and Eve's disobedience to Christ's death and resurrection and return...

God could force us to obey him, but because he loves us he gives us the freedom to push him away. I want to shake sense into this girl, make her keep being my friend, make her somehow go back to the way we once were, but if this is what she's chosen, I have to respect that.

I have to allow her the freedom to choose her own destruction.


Sunday, November 18, 2012


I am sitting here in my room, and I wish I could post a picture of it. I suppose I could go through the hassle of snapping pics and loading them onto the computer and uploading them here, but I won't. You'll have to draw your own mental picture, using my words. The main gist of it is: I'm surrounded by books.

I'm back to living in my parents' house, and to give you an idea of how big the book thing has always been, there's this: I was given the room with the built-in desk and bookshelves, swapped it with my brother, because even as a ten-year-old I had too many books and they knew this would at least help solve some of the problem. So in addition to the six shelves up there - many of which were childhood books I loved and left here with my parents' permission when I moved out - I've also brought my apartment's worth of books back with me. I've got a five-shelf Ikea bookcase double-parked with books. I've got a little three-shelfer (four if you count the books stacked on top) leaning precariously against the wall below the window. I have to be careful not to move too quickly near that one or they could all come toppling off. I have another five-shelf Target one double-stacked. There are books heaped on my dresser top. Books on the little side table by my door. Books lining the back of my desk, leaving barely enough room for my computer to nestle in there. And those are just the ones I own. There are also the library books (thirteen right now), usually stacked on my bedside table, though currently I have them fanned out across my bed, because I'm trying to make a decision.

I don't know what to read.

That probably sounds decadent. It really is. There are actually a lot of books I know I want to read. I want to read Les Miserables before I see the movie in December. I've been meaning to read Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone ever since I first heard of it. I'm eager to reread Cassie Clare's Mortal Instruments series ever since the movie teaser trailer came out. I have some philosophy books by Kierkegaard that have been calling my name for a while now.

But. But -

I pick one up. Start to read. Get maybe a few sentences in, sometimes a full chapter, before I realize something's wrong. It's terrible. And it's not the book itself that's terrible. It's that it's not right. It's that it's not what I want to read right now.

You know when you've got this craving, and you can't figure out what it is, and you stand in front of the pantry or refrigerator and you pick stuff up and keep saying, "Nope. Not it. Nuh-uh." You can tell all the things that aren't what you want, but you can't put a name to what it is you do want. I mean, obviously if you were genuinely starving you probably wouldn't care what you were eating. Anything would taste like deliciousness if you hadn't eaten for days. So the analogy breaks down.

But here's what I think. I think I can't figure out what book I want to read because I secretly know what book I want to read, and I can't read it. I can't read it because it hasn't been written yet.

I can't read it until I write it.


See, I like writing. But when I really care about something like I care about this story, it's scary and it's hard and there's too much pressure, and I can suddenly think of about a million other things I should be doing besides telling my story. I should be plotting out stuff for next year's Thirteen Days of Halloween. I should be reading so I can reach that goal of trying to read 100 books in a  year. I should be cleaning my room, paying my bills, taking a walk, watching that movie rental that's going to be due soon. I should check twitter/facebook/email/tumblr/insert-social-networking-tool-of-choice-here:____.  And all those things are good. They're great. They're important. But yet another day goes by and I haven't written a word, and then a day like this comes along - a perfectly normal day, but it's like something inside me just implodes. I went for a walk this afternoon, and something in me wanted to never stop walking, just keep going until I fell over from weariness, without any idea where I was or what would happen to me. Just go, go, go, go, go. Then I came in and was eating dinner with my folks and my mom asks me a completely ordinary question and I open my mouth to answer and I start to cry. And I can't pick a goddamn book to read when I'm swimming in an ocean of them.

And there are phrases that pop into my head at random.

I will fall away backwards up out of this world, and not a soul will miss me when I'm gone.

People recognize a vacuum, and naturally tend to gravitate away from it. That's why you're alone. 

There is a void that stretches like a promise, where no one knows my shadow or my name.

That last one is an old one, but it keeps coming back.

The only thing I know is that I'm going to try to write. That I'm going to spend the next few months trying to pay off my debts. And that by this time next year I want to be out of this town. I don't know where/why/how, but I'm leaving.

I love my family and what few friends I have, but other than them and a mountain of books, I've pretty much got nothing to lose.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Curse of NaNoWriMo

It's inevitable. I log in to my NaNoWriMo page, update my novel title, all ready for the new year to start.... and suddenly my mind becomes a prison. The story idea I was so excited about feels like a cage. Or worse, it's drab and flat and small and I can't do anything with it, and I write a dozen useless pages, stuff I'd be ashamed for anyone to read ever, stuff I don't enjoy at all, and why? Because I have to update my word count every day because that's the point of all this. So I churn out a mound of drivel just so I can say I'm writing something.

It's not fun. I feel cheap and stupid doing it. This isn't what I love about writing. I hate this. It makes me want to scream.

But every year I think it's going to be different. I get excited, because during the month of November, everybody's pumped about writing, the way I feel about it all the time. Many of my friends dive into their own creative projects. It's a wonderful sense of community. That's a great energy to be around.

But NaNoWriMo isn't for me. I've finally come to terms with that. I'll have to write my novel some other way.

Fuck you, word count widget.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Nothing But Gravity

There ain't nothing but gravity holding me here
I'll up and away at dawn
All the days of my life
So empty and light
Do nothing to weigh me back down

Some people have strings webbing them to each other
But I've snipped all those away
I've been petty and rough
With the people I love
Till not a one of them would care if I stay

I've got dreams in my head and a song in my heart
And things I'll have left undone
But half-spun stories
And hollow glories
Will fade quickly once I'm gone

There ain't nothing but gravity holding me here
Don't try to convince otherwise
And if ever gravity
Were to lose its grip on me
You know I'd be lost to the skies

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Blue Moon

'Twas a blue moon tonight. So naturally to celebrate I put on Van Morrison's "Moondance" and danced around like an idiot under the night sky out in our driveway. I'm a terrible dancer, but the moonlight seemed to make up for any of my failings. It really is a fantastic dance partner if you're ever looking for someone to take you for a spin.

I have a history with blue moons. Well, kind of. Nothing spectacular, just sweet. Once a few years back my grandmother ("Oma") was visiting when a blue moon happened to occur. We all knew there wasn't anything particularly significant about a blue moon - I mean, it wasn't actually blue or any bigger than usual or anything - but we all still wanted to go out and see it, at least me and Oma and my mom. But Oma's back wasn't doing so well so a walk to the end of the driveway for a clear view didn't seem possible. So what did we do instead? We piled into the car, rolled down the windows, and drove to the end of the driveway. Well, if you've ever been to my house you'll know we're at the end of a gravel drive tucked back in the woods, so by pulling up to the entrance you had trees hanging down on each side almost like theatre curtains, then this small window of sky framing this huge, perfect full moon. It was glorious. We just sat there with the cool evening air drifting in the open window looking up at the sky and marveling.

Blue moons are magic. They just are. And that expression, "once in a blue moon," I don't take it to mean "once in a while" like just something every now and then. I think it means something important, something special, because for me that's what blue moons have always brought. Maybe it's a reminder too that little things can be enormous if we remember to just actually look at them. My driveway at night. A big shining rock in the sky. The people in my life. All of it... amazing.

I wish you blue moons and wonder and incredible, unexpected happenings.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

How to Restore Your Faith In Humanity

This morning on facebook Andrew Slack posted a link to this article featuring 21 pictures "that will restore your faith in humanity." Well, job done. I was bawling by the very first one.

Here's a video version as well.

Sometimes I forget how incredible the world can be. I get bogged down and negative. But kindness, bravery, and sacrifice are so very beautiful. People are amazing. Life is such a gift.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Movie Trailer Life

I wanted my life to be a movie trailer life, all the best bits edited flawlessly together, a thing of vast potential and glorious promise. But my life, instead, is the movie, one moment after another after another. It's not playing out the way I thought it would. I could try to blame the writing, find some flaw in the design, or maybe it's the acting - am I just sleepwalking through my role? But ultimately I think it's meant to be this way. I think it's good that our lives aren't movie trailer lives, because so often that's all just hype. And it always feels a bit unnatural anyway, trying to cram a story that takes hours to tell into a measly three minutes. So let my life unspool before me, all its plot twists and plot holes and meandering dialogue. Minute after minute after minute. Even without the benefit of editing or a flashy title sequence, I'm sure I'll find my story and I'll find my way.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Ray Bradbury

People roll their eyes a little when you're very emotionally upset by the death of a fictional character, but they mostly understand, because chances are they've been there themselves on more than one occasion.

I'm upset by a death of a writer I've never met, an author who was a real flesh-and-blood human being, who made a huge impact on literature as a whole and particularly on my life as a reader and a writer: Ray Bradbury. And yet my friends don't seem to understand why I would break down in tears at the news of his death. My friend Melissa happened to call me mere minutes after I'd found out and managed to be on the line with me right as the emotional dam burst. I didn't explain, just got off the phone as fast as I could. She then got in touch with my other friend Mandy, who promptly texted me: "Hey! What's going on????" When I replied with the truth - that it was purely a matter of bad timing, that I'd heard news of the death of one of my big heroes and inspirations minutes before the call and had broken down because I'd had no time to process it - she was instantly (a) relieved, and (b) obviously doing a bit of the eye-rolling. "Sorry about Ray Bradbury" she texted, once I'd explained. But the thought process I could tell was there in the back of her mind was, Really? Why is she getting this worked up over a 91-year-old man she's never met?

I'm not as eloquent as Neil Gaiman, who has actually met Ray Bradbury numerous times and whose remembrance in the Guardian is part of what brought me to tears to begin with. I haven't read all of Ray Bradbury's works, and there were some I read that I didn't appreciate as fully at the time (Fahrenheit 451 was required reading in high school; I remember really liking it, but feeling somewhat annoyed at being forced to read it just on principle), but here is the truth of it: he put words to things I've felt and known and only dreamt of that I've never been able to find the words for myself. I found a copy of From the Dust Returned in a dinky little bulk book retailer at Commerce on the drive down to my Nanny's house when I was probably 11 or 12. I didn't know it was Ray Bradbury. I didn't know that reading it would make me fall in love with autumn and October winds and dust and shadows and Halloween. But that is exactly what happened. When I was younger I was with Mandy once at a bookstore and saw a cover of a book called The Halloween Tree. Again, I didn't know at the time it was Ray Bradbury. In fact, I couldn't even remember the name of the book for years after that, didn't find it again until just a few months ago in fact. But the image of that cover left such an atmosphere of ethereal wonder in my mind that I went on to use that inspiration to write my "Halloween story," which was one of the seeds for the story I've now nicknamed "Joan," which I hope will be my first novel. Later when I worked at Borders I was reshelving a copy of his book October Country, but it never made it back to the shelf. I bought it before I went home that night, and gobbled it up over the next few days. That title, "October country," finally gave me a name for this place I'd always felt hints of blowing in on the wind. A place "for autumn people, thinking only autumn thoughts..." Which is, of course, why I started writing my Halloween stories. Mine aren't anywhere near as good as any of his are, but at least it forces me to write. He gave me that much.

So Melissa and Mandy think I'm crazy, that the news of this man I've never met would send me into sobbing like that. Especially when I don't cry that often - at least not in front of other people. Well, guess what? Yes. Yes it did. It's making me a little teary-eyed even now. That's fine. It's natural, I think, that the people we love, that the people whose words and ideas moved us, should have this kind of foothold in our lives. And when they leave us, it's okay for us to feel that loss.

I've been listening to a book on tape by Ray Bradbury, a collection of short stories called Long After Midnight. I was just thinking while listening to them, a dawning realization, how more than anyone - more even than Neil Gaiman or C.S. Lewis or Tolkien or George MacDonald or Maurice Sendak, whom I'd always looked to before this - Ray Bradbury is really the closest to the sort of writer I'd like to be. His words like poetry, his ideas so interesting and immediate, his characters honest and important, the atmosphere of these places he shows you so intense and alive. The way he balances all that with this kind of wisdom and humility and love. You can tell he loves these stories he's telling, these people and places he's sharing with you, and you can't help but love them too. I was just thinking that yesterday, and then today I hear this news. Of course it would hit me hard. Of course I'd feel it sitting like a weight on my chest. Of course there would be mourning, tears.

So fine. No, there was no family emergency. No one's in the hospital. No one I know is dead. But I have a right to feel sad, to feel this loss. Don't make me feel foolish for these tears. He meant a lot to me, will continue to mean so much.

"Looking back over a lifetime, you see that love was the answer to everything."

Yes, Ray. I think you're right. I'm glad your life was as long and full as it was, and that you shared so much of its beauty with us all.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Honest Question

Why am I so sad all the time? I apologize. It must make for very boring reading.

Here, have a song...

The only way this world is gonna work for me Is if at any point I can choose to leave it The only way I'm gonna be okay with this life I lead Is if at any time I can up and go And I don't know if I can deal With all this settling in and putting down roots Being comfortable, dependable, reliable With a steady job and ordinary routine And what I mean is I don't know what I mean anymore It's like my heart is from some other place and it's long to get back there And every day I stay here with these jobs and bills and debts Is just another day I'm trying to forget it That I'm not me anymore, this isn't me And I can't afford to be anymore Existence isn't free. So if I'm not here tomorrow please don't ask me where I've gone to I don't think I could tell you even if I'd want to. I don't think I could tell you even if I knew. But the only way this world is gonna work for me Is if at any point I can choose to leave it The only way I'm gonna be okay with this life I lead Is if at any time I can up and go...


I'm packing up my things for the move. Technically we don't have to be out of the apartment until June 10, but Melissa's going on a trip next week and we need help moving furniture out to the storage unit, so all that will now be happening this weekend. Saturday. Among the things headed to the unit is my bed, so I guess that'll be my cue to leave too.

It's odd. I have a lot of things and yet I don't. I was realizing today that if I had no books or furniture, essentially I could pack everything I owned into a single car load. The feeling is liberating. I like the idea that I could live out of my car. I mean, it wouldn't be comfortable necessarily, but I just like the notion that at a moment's notice I could just hop in my car and drive away from everything.

But having books, and bookshelves, and a couch now, and things like dishes and pots and pans that will go unused in this in-between time makes the storage unit a necessity.

"In-between time." Isn't that lovely? But in between what two things? I know what has been but not what will be.

And that's a huge part of why I think I feel so bad right now. I'm packing everything up, but I'm literally going nowhere. Nothing is changing. If anything, I'm moving backwards. How do people live and change and grow? How do people want things and do things and have a life? How do people find other people and connect and function as human beings? I don't know how to do any of those things.

Part of me is bogged down in the mentality that says I need to keep all this stuff in the storage unit because I'll eventually need it again, that I need to bog myself down with debt or imprison myself in this stupid endless cycle of earning and spending in order to pay rent on an apartment that I don't even really like being in that much anyway. There's a lie we tell children that there's a roadmap people follow. Back in the day in my depressed fits (yes, I had them then as I have them now) I'd refer to this series of expected events as "box after box after box." I felt like I was living in a box but that there was an exit at the other end of it, so of course I'd put all my energies toward making it to the other side and getting out. But once you're through that exit you realize it's just led you into another box. This one may be larger or longer, may give you wiggle room, may be a better box than the last box was, but it's still a box. But wait - what luck! There's an exit at the other end. So you race toward it, all your focus on getting there, and you get through and - yep, you guessed it - yet another box.

So the boxes are things like "get good grades in high school so you can get into a good college." Then the college box says things like "make wise choices when it comes to your major and keep your GPA up and do this internship and present that paper and yada yada yada so that when you graduate you'll get a good job." And you get a job - maybe not a good one, not in this economy - and you work there, and then what? This box is perhaps the worst of them all, because it's big enough that you can sometimes feel the illusion of freedom. It's big enough that you sometimes forget you're actually in a box. But you get sucked into that cycle I mentioned before, where you "want" these things - to go out to eat with friends, to buy a movie ticket or a new shower curtain, to buy yet another knicknack to take up space and get dusty on your bedside table - and so in order to get them you sacrifice your time and energy at this job. I'm not saying jobs are bad. You can find a job you love, or your positive attitude can transform a sucky job into a tolerable one. Work can actually be really beneficial.  But when you feel shackled to your job because of debt, then it becomes negative by association.

The other part of me wants to find someone who will take good care of my books, sell or give away the remainder of my furniture and knick-knacks, and do the impractical. Live out of my car. Or better still, sell my car, fly to England with a one-way ticket, and stay as long as I can spending as little as I can. I want to do radical, impractical things. Your life is your story and you only get one, so why not personalize it? Not boxes after boxes after boxes. None of that. I love the fact that George Orwell decided to live "down and out" in Paris and London for a couple years, just soaking in what that was like and then writing about it. Why not? Or Amanda Palmer going off to Germany and living off street performance for a while. I like people who go big and bold and unapologetic, which is funny because I am a fumbling, whispered "so so sorry" of a human being.

The other twinge I'm getting from this move is the idea that I could disappear. The idea that I'm packing away my life into boxes and that it's like getting everything in my life ready for the end. Honestly, my family would miss me, and a handful of friends, and my coworkers seem to like me and would probably be sorry to hear I'd gone so abruptly, but that's a small group of people really. They're kind of all that's holding me here. If they were gone I could slip away unnoticed. Leave my life behind in tidy packed boxes. Carry nothing with me when I go.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Sabotage and Sense: A Journey Through My Fool Mind When It Comes To Guys...

There's this thing that happens with me and members of the opposite sex where if I suddenly find one of them attractive and think there is even the sliver of a possibility that they might return the sentiment, I go into self-sabotage mode. I don't know what it is, other than a very basic fear response. In ninth grade I went to this same fear place. Put up walls, did my best to stay calm and not freak out. Halfway through the year when I finally got to know some of my classmates better they said, rather surprised, "Wow, Grace, you're actually kind of cool. We all thought you were stuck-up because you stayed by yourself all the time and hardly ever talked to us." I got over that with people in general (Confidence: some people are born with it, but in others - i.e. me - it takes time to grow), but something similar is rearing its head at this stage in my life. Here are some warning signs.

(1) All I can think about suddenly is how I must appear to other people. That's not necessarily a bad thing, to be aware of other people's potential perceptions (p-p-p... alliteration is fun!). But it is when you allow it to alter your mood and behavior.

(2) My flaws jump front and center, and all I can think about is how I hate myself, so obviously if I can't even stand myself I would never want to inflict that mess upon someone else. This is warped thinking. First, we all have flaws. Anyone who's going to love you will love you flaws and all. Second, yeah I'm working on the hating-myself thing. But the main problem here is not that necessarily, but that I'm stripping away any confidence I'd managed to build up in favor of a protective armor. Not having actually been in love yet it's difficult to say for certain, but from what I've heard love is a raw nerve ending, an exposed and fragile beating heart. When you gird that heart up with tough callouses instead, yes, you're protecting yourself, but you're also keeping people out. Third, the way I phrased that - "inflict that mess upon someone else" - sounds all self-congratulatory and selfless, but it's really just more fear. I've learned that if you imagine the worst possible outcome, if things actually do go bad it doesn't hit you quite as hard. This worst-case-scenario thinking is helpful when writing horror stories, but not so great in the realm of romance and healthy self perception.

(3) I forget to try to be better, choosing to wallow instead in all the things I am not. I don't know a thing about romance or love or sex. I've experienced none of the three. (Well, I've experienced the love of family and friends, but not the kind that seems to be the obsession of popular music, cinema and television, and whole libraries of books and plays and poetry over the vast centuries.) But I do know that romance has a tendency to addle the brain - instead of working toward positive change, trying to improve yourself, striving for a goal, etc., you tend to think of all the things you don't have. I don't have a boyfriend or a husband, so I don't have kids and the house with the white picket fence. Those things are great, but they aren't even the top of the list for me. My thoughts usually run along the lines of, "I wish I had someone to share the road with me in a great adventure." Well, guess what? I don't need someone else to seek that great adventure. I can do that on my own. But I forget to try, to look beyond myself. I'm so focused on the flaws that I completely ignore the potential that's there.

(4) I build up the other person, idealize them to unrealistic extremes, until a point when they (naturally) fail to meet my high expectations, and then I use this as the excuse I need to "be done with them." That's it. Crush over. So-and-so spends time playing soccer with his buddies instead of volunteering with blind dogs and orphans? He must be a terrible human being. Or there's the reverse: so-and-so spends time volunteering with blind dogs and orphans? He obviously belongs to some higher plane that I could never aspire to.

Oh my... the skewed logic. It's just ridiculous.

I realize these things later, sometimes only a few hours after the fact, other times after weeks of such idiotic behavior. I am not proud of it.

The only thing that gives me some hope is what it can teach me about myself and about what I will need to look for in any future significant other:

(1) I should care what they think of the things I do and the person I am, not the way I look or the superficial outer trappings. I won't feel the need to change myself to become "acceptable" in their eyes.

(2) I will be my flawed and messy self in front of them, and they will be their flawed and messy self in front of me, and we will both be the better for it, because we'll pretty much realize we can't imagine living life without each other, flaws and mess and all.

(3) When I am around this person, I will always want to be a better human being. I will care about my character and my actions and thoughts, not out of fear but because we're both hopefully trying to bring out the best in each other. Every life needs growth, change, challenges. We'll be there to encourage and help each other all along the way, and sometimes to provide that much-needed kick in the pants.

(4) Mind games and power plays won't have a place in our relationship. It won't be an issue of rank - better, worse - but an equal partnership.

So these are some realizations I've made in the past 24 hours or so. I thought it would be useful to actually record them for once, because sometimes these things get lost in the recesses of my brain, and the next time I find myself in such a situation I might completely forget these scraps of insight.

Hopefully I won't repeat these mistakes, but I'm pretty sure I will. If there's one more thing I know, both through my past behaviors and future hopes, it's this...

(5) Love will make fools of us all.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

sea of ice

I will set me adrift on a sea of ice
on a sea of ice I will sail
Not a wonder, my darling, we go nowhere
on a sea of ice we sail
I will set my course with a wayward wind
cast my anchor in the stars
I was never a sailor and never a wanderer
destined to go but to never get far
never get never get far

I will cushion the blows of an angry tide
with pillows of seaweed and sand
Lost to the sleep of the oceans deep
on billowing seaweed and sand
Darkness encumbers those seeking out slumber
weighs in their dreams like a grief
I will drink in the brine like air or like wine
for I’m destined to set out but never to leave
never to never to leave

I will sing you each moment out loud like a song,
yes you are the song I’ll sing.
And love, that fumbling foreign tongue,
gives words to the song I sing.
My twisting strands of metaphor
won’t translate into sense
for madness and love fit hand in glove
I’m destined to hope but never to chance
never to never to chance

I will eat my fill of this empty bowl
I will bathe my face in fire
fling away my young and foolish soul
I will set my life on fire
I’m done with destiny and fate
They’ve had their hold on me
So I’ll carve a path through this sea of ice
and we’ll see what there is to see
see what there is to see

Friday, May 11, 2012

Poem for Mandy

I think maybe 
I’ll live to see 
a day when things are better,
but do not lie to me and say 
you know it’s going to be okay.
I’d rather trust 
to rot and rust, 
to doom and gloomy weather.
For none of us know 
what will come tomorrow
but grief is a faithful tormentor

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I was sad about Amendment One so I sat down to write, and this is what came out...

In the bottom of the garden there is a tree. It grows at a slant, leaning over the riverbed. I would sit there sometimes and think about shrinking down to the size of an ant, crawling onto a leaf and setting sail. Those were long days, summer days. When did time grow so short?

I only mention the tree because I feel a bit like it now—bent, not in an unpleasant place but perhaps not growing quite as I should be. And I think of the tree because I’m pretty sure I never got over that longing to float away.

I wonder if it’s there still.

I think it may have died.

In the winter it would sometimes be covered with snow, and then it was a sight to behold. An odd cupped palm of flawless white. And the river beyond, steely grey, soundless and still.

I want this place like it’s something I’m thirsty for, but some places only exist now as ghosts of their former selves. Walk the parking lot knowing there used to be a building here. Look out over the lake realizing this wasn’t always water. And in the garden, it’s hard to know what I would find. Have the new owners taken care of it? Have they put in new flowers, herbs perhaps? Do they know the secret patches of sunlight even in the shady corners, and if so have they put them to good use?

There’s always the chance that everything has fallen into disrepair, that it’s a wild and bedraggled kingdom now, a place of weeds and thorns. Somehow I am okay with that. Somehow that seems almost fitting. I would rather it be brambles and ruins than flattened and paved over, filled in with a new swimming pool or guest house.

Why is it the sky seems nearly purple now? In the city lights always hold the dark at a distance. In a city I feel dwarfed, but not often in awe.

I miss that tree, and the river, and the promise. I miss most of all believing in things.

(There is no garden, no tree, no river. There never was. I am sitting in a room at a computer telling lies.)

I want to believe in something.

I’ll believe in that tree.


No, that's a cop out.

I don't want to believe in the tree, because I already believe in the tree, because I wrote about it so I know it's true, if only in my head.

I want to believe in something, but what I really want to believe in is people. I want to believe that people can be good and kind and decent. That they can be brave and true. And when things happen like what happened in my home state today, I have trouble believing that. I begin to think that we are irredeemable, that the world will always be ugly and small.

This is a lie. Part of me knows that.

The other part of me just wants to cry.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dieting Again... Le Sigh

Dieting makes me feel terrible. I know it shouldn't, probably, but the way I do it does.

It's healthy to lose weight gradually, but I'm impatient. I set an unrealistic goal, then panic when it doesn't look like I'm going to make it, then bend over backwards to do whatever I can to make it. That's what happened last year. Middle of January I decided, "I want to lose 72 pounds by the time LeakyCon rolls around in July." That's crazy talk. That's would mean losing about 3 pounds a week! And in the midst of those six months I'd travel places with my friends and have events like birthdays or meals at restaurants where I couldn't get away with my 800-calorie-a-day thing.

Still, I managed it. When I went to LeakyCon I was actually something like 168, which meant I lost 74 pounds. Crazy, and kind of awesome.

I took a break. I eventually gained a few pounds back (maybe 3 or 4), but stayed in my 170 range the rest of the summer and into early fall. In October I gained 3 or 4 more. Then Thanksgiving and Christmas combined brought me up another 4 or 5. So all of the sudden I'm 15 up from the top of healthy weight range for my height and age (150-170).

So the thought is... I'm obviously going to fluctuate no matter what I do. But while I've got the drive to do this thing (and while it's in these doldrums months of January and February when there aren't a lot of events that involved eating), I want to get down to the bottom of that range. That way, when I gain back the weight I know I will I'll end up somewhere in the middle. And if I manage to make it all the way back up to 170, I can just work at losing 10 pounds or so, not 20 or 30.

So my new goal is to get down to 150 by the time the Hunger Games movie comes out on March 23rd. It's terrible, I know. Dieting. Hunger Games. But I needed a specific date, and that seemed like a good one. I can celebrate by having butter popcorn and a pack of Twizzlers or something.

Anyway, right now I'm not sure if that's going to happen or not. I've got 70 days to lose about 31 pounds. But I'm trying.

But back to the first sentence. So far, I've been successful. I was 184 at the beginning of this week and now I'm 181, and that's even with Melissa's birthday on Saturday where we all had pizza and dessert at Amelie's. But what happens with this thing is I take in less calories than my body needs for fuel, and I burn more energy than my body's used to burning. So that's why it's eating up my stored fat faster, but it also means that I am tired. All. The. Time.

All I want to do is sleep. And maybe I should. But it makes for a rather boring life if all I do is sleep, work, walk, and be very careful about the things I eat.

I'm going to go read now. Maybe that will make me feel better.