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.