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Life, love, and the pursuit of happiness.

Autumn is flirting with September in a dance of revolving heat, rain, humidity, and crisp breezes.  Soon I know autumn will have her way with the world, and I couldn’t be happier.  Flickers of yellow and orange and red begin to appear on trees, and the temperature actually drops at night.  All in all, I’m waiting in anticipation of October.  As it approaches, there are a lot of things on my mind.  Not the least of which is what October brings with her as she arrives.  A year ago, I was waiting.  I knew what I was waiting for, but I had no idea how long my waiting would continue.  This week last year, I began to see a few glimmers of hope, a few warm tingles.  And then as October 1 turned to October 2, after a gleeful two hours of zombie-filled revelry, my waiting ended.  A man I had fallen for over the course of a year and a half invited me into his life, and we started down a road together.

Given the context of emotion this week holds for me, I suppose it’s only natural for me to think about love.  To ponder that thing that drives us so much through this world.  I think the silver screen presents us with many unrealistic views of romance and love.  (<–Understatement.)  Frankly, the few chick flicks (aka rom-coms) I’ve seen lately have been so far away from reality that they’ve left me wanting to repeatedly bang my head against a board.

What is love?  What really makes a relationship work?  If I could answer both of those questions succinctly, I’d probably win the Nobel Prize for Peace.  I’m just sayin’.  Go to any Barnes and Noble and you’ll find sections littered with books trying to explain love and fix relationships in 200-400 pages of easy step-by-step instructions.

Do soulmates exist?  Is there that magical moment where you just know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you have found the one person who can make you happy?  I might disappoint the world’s movie-going rom-com fanatics by saying this, but no.  I don’t think either of those two things really exist in the way they’re portrayed.  Relationships don’t follow a flow chart of:  meeting –> spark –> blossoming love –> conflict –> happy ending/sunset + horsey + castle.  Relationships are messy.  Why?  Because you’re taking imperfect people and smushing their lives together.  To expect perfection is naive at best.  However, I think the reality of love is more charming and beautiful than simply following a formulaic interpretation of easy happiness.

If there’s anything I’ve learned in the last two or so years since I met John, it’s that communication cannot receive a higher commendation in the world of love.  And before you can communicate, you need to know and be happy with yourself.  If you’re looking for someone to complete you, you’ll never find that.  But I digress.  I don’t think love happens like in the movies.  Or at least if it does, it’s not even close to being the majority.

I think a lot of the time people get caught up in this idea of the magical moment that will make everything clear, make everything easy.  There’s no quick fix for anything in this life, in love especially.  I still think the guys in Thrice said it right when they said that love is a loyalty sworn, not a burning for a moment.  Relationships take work–they don’t just work because you want them to.  Sometimes they take sacrifice and selflessness.  Both of which have to go both ways.  While I think that two people can experience an initial click or chemistry, I don’t think that two lives just slip into each other without a ripple.  People have different dreams and ambitions.  To me, the mark of the best relationships is the ability of the couple not to expect their lives to poof into perfection, but the willingness to build something together.  A family.  A home.  A life.  Whatever that may look like.  That’s where the beauty is to me.

That’s what I honestly love about my relationship.  Looking into the future and knowing that each of us will build something together.  That in the two years behind us since we met, we have begun building a foundation.  We’re two adults long since launched from the families that raised us, and in the last year, we have begun a new family.  A small family for now, just the two of us, but with strong ties to the families we came from.  Something to build on together into something that fits us both.

I can’t think of a truer love than that.

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Changes and the Familiarly Unfamiliar

I’m in Scotland.

I’m again confronted with the ever-familiar waves of knowing and not-knowing.  I know the fresh, washed scent of rain cleaned air, of chill breezes and the golden honey warmth  of sun.  I know the hill that holds Stirling Castle, and the Black Isle that peeks through the window from across the Moray Firth.  I know this building, but the view out the window has changed, and the flags that hang of St. Andrew’s cross, the lion rampant, the jolly roger, and St. George’s cross seem oddly disparate, though they grace walls which still hold familiar photographs.  Lone Tree on Rannoch Moor.  Buachaille Etive Mor.  Pap of Glen Coe,  Eilean Donan.  Inchkeith Sunset.  Familiar names.

The people here are now alien.  No Jordan or Julia or Nicole or Keith.  Instead there is Andres, Sandra, Howe.  Unfamiliar but kind.  As a former hostelite, they welcomed me with warmth and shared food and even tucked me in when I fell asleep on the familiar cushion of one of these black leather sofas, covering me with a fluffy duvet as I slept in a group of strangers.

The maps are well known, from John O’Groats to Skye to Aberdeen.  The voices are unfamiliar.  No Polish  do I hear, but French and English accents.  It has been…a long time.  The giant gulls call out their thoughts of the town and the surf.  Cars rumble across the Firth bridge.  The sun hides his face behind an oddly stagnant sky.

A whisper flits through me, a startling revelation.  Inverness feels like home no more. Perhaps it is the lack of sleep.  Perhaps it is the staggering mix of old and new.  It could be either of those things, but I think what it really is goes much deeper than a superficial makeover.  I’ve got a home.  Not even a physical home;  that’s in flux.  But there is someone rather than somewhere I need.  And he is very far away.  He has become my family, and where family is, so home is too.

More than anything, I wish he was here to share this place with.  Even shrouded in clouds, she has a glory and a cleanness that surpasses anything I have ever known.  There is wisdom in her aged glens, peace in her silver-smooth lochs, strength in her heather-clad mountains, and humility in the rushing of her surrounding sea.  I think if she could speak, she would tell me that she will always hold a place for me here.  And that the next time I return to her, not to come alone.

Crazy Pills

I have been doing a lot of thinking today.  This thinking was catalyzed by the fact that I pretty much have had two major freakouts in the past week, both of which, disturbingly, possess no real basis or logic to them.  Yes, I have been under a lot of stress this year.  Yes, my life is kind of a mess.  However, people have noted — and i agree — that lately, i have had the majorly unattractive tendency to zoom in on small things, which magnifies them to the point that they completely take over my entire field of vision, and then i panic and freak.  That’s not normal for me, and it’s kind of disturbing.

I also think I know what’s causing it, or at least what is exacerbating what, under normal circumstances, is a rather benign tendency that I am perfectly capable of talking myself down from.  I think I am actually taking crazy pills.  By crazy pills, I mean Ortho-Cept, which is a form of hormonal birth control.  It’s pretty high in estrogen, which can cause moodiness, and I really think there is a good chance that this is what is causing the massive apocalyptic freakouts.

The reason I think it’s this is simply because I went off the Ortho-Cept for about 6-8 weeks due to the fact that I thought it could be causing me to have high blood pressure and abdominal pain, and my doctor recommended I stop taking it.  During those weeks, I didn’t have a single unexplained tearfest, no blowouts, no inconsolable black moods.  I went back on it 3 weeks ago because the blood pressure and pain stuff turned out to be from my job (whee), and since then my moods have been insane.  I actually feel crazy.

So I’m going to ask my doctor for a prescription pill that contains significantly less estrogen.  I’ve gotten a couple recommendations from people, and I think that it’s worth a shot.

If you read this, what do you think?  What has your experience been with hormonal birth control?  If you’re a dude, but know women who have dealt with this stuff, what’s your take?

I gotta say, being a chick kind of sucks in terms of reproduction.  Not only are we the ones who get to go through labor pains, but we spend about half our lives actively trying not to get pregnant, which involves the use of crazy-making hormones, stuff stuck in our uterus, and/or surgery.  Torture.  I wish there was an off switch.  I do not want to be nuts — it freaks out my boyfriend, and then I feel worse, because he deserves a happier me.

follow your bliss

This morning, I asked my student to reflect on the following:

“The privilege of a lifetime is to be who you are…follow your bliss.   The heroic life is the individual adventure.   There is no security in following the call to adventure.”  (Joseph Campbell)

I figured that since I am trying to keep up my average of words per day, I would complete my own assignment. (I already hit 1,000 working on my novel today, but a bit more never hurt anyone.)

I’m going to break this down sentence by sentence and see what comes pouring out through the cracks.

The privilege of a lifetime is to be who you are…follow your bliss.

I heard once that up until about puberty and a few years after, you spend your life trying to fit in, blend with others, be like everyone else.  In high school and the years after is when people become desperate to delineate what separates them from the rest of the world, to be an individual.  But how far do people really go to do that?  So many people spend their lives doing things that make them unhappy or at the very least, bored.  They spend their lives with people who make them unhappy.  They follow the status quo because they feel some sort of obligation to do so or need security in some way.

It took me a long time in my life to come to terms with who I am, and in a lot of ways, I’m still on that path.  It has taken a lot of failings in order for me to get to where I am now.  I wrote not long ago in a letter to someone that I feel like years ago, I was perched on the edge of a chasm.  I could see where I wanted to be on the other side of it, but I had to make choices to decide how to get there.  The first route was the tried and true slow descent down one side and up the other, maybe on a burro.  I could plod doggedly down and up and eventually get to the other side, but I knew that if I took that route, I might end up miles down from where I was aiming.

The other route was the most direct geometrically.  And it stretched out directly in front of me, a rickety rope bridge with punky boards full of dry rot and tattered ropes holding it together.  I gritted my teeth and stepped out onto the bridge, with nothing but those flimsy boards between me and a long drop with a sudden stop.  Looking down at the well-trodden safer path below, I could see people’s mouths agape as they watched me take my fumbling steps out on that bridge.  Some even yelled up at me, “You’re crazy!  You’re going to fall!”

I haven’t fallen yet.  Granted, there have been a few close calls.  A couple of those boards were rotted through and disintegrated beneath my feet like crumbling clay.  Occasionally, circling vultures would swoop down and attack, seeing I was vulnerable.  But each time, I clung to the most solid things I could find and held on tight.  I’ve made a large number of big decisions in the last few years, and they have all propelled me forward.  And the farther forward I go, the closer I get to the other side.  I can’t see the other side from where I am; I have to focus too much on putting one foot in front of the other and staying alive to get there, but I know it’s there.  I can sense solid ground in the distance, getting closer every day.  I don’t know how many steps remain before I get there, but I know there is even more adventure awaiting me after my feet touch the earth again.  And the only way I’ll get there is if I keep following my bliss.  This journey truly has been amazing, and making the choices I have made really are the privilege of my lifetime.

The heroic life is living the individual adventure.

I feel like it would be way too arrogant to call my life heroic.  I could say resilient or bold and maybe go as far as intrepid, but regardless, I feel that my life has been full of adventure.  In spite of all the moves (or maybe because of them), I’ve managed to hold onto some semblance of cohesion within myself.  Sometimes I feel stuck within the confines of what society deems normal, namely the need for money (ew), but I have still managed to get where I needed to go, regardless of how rough the road got.  For that I am both proud and thankful.  Proud that I haven’t completely had a nervous breakdown yet (although I’ve gotten close this year…sorry, John) and thankful for the people who have been there along the way to hold out their hands and help me along.  I wouldn’t be here without them.

I’m certainly not done with this adventure yet.  In fact, I might be setting out on another leg of it shortly, depending on what I decide in the next 24 hours.  There is a big wide world out there, and I haven’t seen enough of it yet.

When I think about it, I often tell my friends that they are heroic for following their bliss and doing their thing, so perhaps I ought to do myself the same courtesy and bestow the label upon myself as well.  I do have a tendency to be much harder on myself than others are.   I should be more mindful of that and stop Emmie-bashing.

There is no security in following the call to adventure.

This one rings so true — I think about the people I know who are pursuing the things they truly love, and very few are actually making any money.  Of course, money isn’t the only way to measure security, but I think that is sort of what Joseph Campbell was referring to.  That and the fact that the term “starving artist” did not evolve without some sort of precedent.  I’m okay with being poor.  I’ve never really had any money, so I actually tend to just give it away when I do have it.

Anyway, all in all, I think it’s clear that I have to do some things for myself. Dolly Parton said to find out who you are and do it on purpose.  I’m not one who usually looks to Dollywood for wisdom, but I won’t turn it away when I come across it.  I know a lot about who I am, but I need to make some purposeful strides into really letting that person shine through.

On that note, kiddies, sleep tight.  Bite the bedbugs and smile at your neighbor.

light and shadow

I don’t have anything extraordinarily witty to say tonight, nor do I really have any particular direction in which to write.  But my goal is to try to write a thousand words per day, and though I have been on facebook and the like, I don’t really think that counts.  So here I am.

Today hasn’t been the best day.  At best, I feel directionless…much like this blog.  Or rather, I know where I want to go, but I haven’t the foggiest idea how to get there.  At worst, I feel jangled and emotional, and I want to cry.  A lot.  I feel guilty for being home for the past three and a half weeks with my injury.  I’ve missed a lot of work, and I’m catching some flak for it.  I understand why; I mean, three weeks is a lot.  I also am feeling super weak and lame.  In the traditional sense of the word.  Lame as in debilitated.  I can barely stand for an hour without severe pain.  Driving is just as bad.  I’ve been pretty much alone in my room for the past three weeks, which has made me lonely and helpless, and although I don’t really want to throw a pity party, I just want to feel like a human being again.

I don’t want to be a negative person.  I know that negativity is far from attractive.  So I think perhaps I will use this entry as a chance to force myself to try an exercise my mom has pointed me at several times in the past.  So here it is — a list of the things I like about myself.

I’m compassionate.  I’m able to put myself in other people’s shoes pretty easily and try to get inside their heads to try and understand where they are coming from.  I’m also fairly empathic, and I tend to be very sensitive to others’ pain.

I am loyal.  If I care about someone, I will stick with them.  I’m also very tenacious and rarely give up on anything I’ve set my mind to.  I’m patient.  I’m creative — I like to make art.  My kind of art just happens to be with words, and I try to do it as best as I can.

I’m a daydreamer and I have a good imagination.  While it can get me into trouble on occasion, I like seeing the world through my own lens.  I think if I were less shy, I would have been a good actress.  I can read expressively and with emotion.

I’m good with languages, both my own and otherwise.  I’ve always been able to pick up new languages easily, which is cool because I really enjoy them.  On a purely superficial note, I like my eyes.

I’m only about halfway to a thousand words, and I have to apologize for the quality of this blog.  I have a bad headache that came on sort of suddenly, and I am a bit out of it.

I really want to travel more.  I am going to try and go back to Scotland this summer if I can find a cheapish fare.  I’m hoping to fly out of Toronto so I can see Julia.  I haven’t seen her for almost a year and a half, and I miss her terribly.  It’s funny how you can meet someone so briefly and form such a lasting relationship — that’s been oddly true about the most important relationships in my life.  I met Julia when we both lived at the Inverness Tourist Hostel, and we became best friends after only a few short weeks.  That was in 2005, and nothing has changed.  She is still one of the only non-blood related people I count among family.

I miss Scotland, as well.  A strange peace comes over me when I’m there, ever since the first time my feet touched the rather unromantic tarmac at the Prestwick Airport an hour south of Glasgow.  It’s a place I’ve returned to so many times (Scotland, not Prestwick) and just felt like I was home.  I don’t think I have ever seen a parallel to the beauty that exists in Scotland.  I remember driving through Stirling on Megabus and looking out the window as the sun slanted through the clouds and lit up the earth as though it had flipped a switch within.  I remember the golden sheen of the mist on the hills, the Wallace Monument rising like…well, to be honest, rising like a giant, spiky phallus.  Perhaps that just ruined the romance of the shot.  Ha.

I remember Dollar Glen and Loch Ness and the way the ocean at John O’Groats is such a deep navy blue and contrasts with the shining white sand.  The earthy scent of soil, dust, and rock that makes up the interior of the Maes Howe, the rough-hewn slats of standing stones.  The smell of peat and the warm amber brown it turns the Ness River.  The Sisters of Kintail and Glen Coe.  The lone tree on Rannoch Moor near the cone-shaped Buachaille.  I have a hundred thousand memories of Scotland, each one stored away like delicate treasures within my mind.  I know I will return someday — it’s only a matter of time.  I just hope it’s sooner rather than later.  And I long to share it with my boyfriend.

If I can get there this summer, I know it will be a short visit, probably no more than a week or two at the most, but it will be a time of renewal as well.  A time to refresh my memories, see some dear friends, and rest my weary soul.

In the film What Dreams May Come, they espouse the philosophy that we choose our own heaven, or at least that we create it from our minds.  If that turns out to be at all true, I know where mine would be.  It would be a land of drums, of silver-smooth lochs, of smoky scotch and the scents of the earth.  There would be stone circles and sapphire seas laced with white sand beaches and forests with floors of soft moss where the rowans turn the circle of the seasons as their branches burst into bloom, the blooms turn to snowy berries that ripen into deep red before the leaves fall once more.  An eternity there would be an eternity of bliss.

I don’t plan on dying any time soon, so for now, I’ll look forward to the time when I can jet my earthly body there.

Well, what do you know?  Over 1,000 words.

words

hello, stranger.  fancy meeting you here.  yes, i know.  it’s been quite a long while since i’ve paid you a visit.  sorry about that.  rest assured it’s been for a variety of reasons, some more worthy than others.

right-o.  diving right in then, shall we?

i’ve always been fond of words.  as a child, i used to collect them.  keep them in shiny, crisp sleeves, polished and pure.  i’d occasionally show them off proudly.  words like “antidisestablishmentarianism” (which, by the way, spellcheck apparently does not like) and “onomatopoeia” (which i happened to spell correctly on the first try.  bully for me).

it wasn’t too long ago that i realized i didn’t just collect words — i breathed them.  they filled my pockets.  i found them tucked behind my ears and peeking out from beneath my pillows.  a few hover just inside my left nostril.  it’s been the time since this epic realization that i discovered why words have always flitted about my world, leaving dusky trails of fascination in their wake.

it’s about power.

we all know that, on some sort of subconscious level.  it doesn’t take long for a young child to feel the piercing pangs of carelessly slung words for the first time.  they know they’re not bleeding, and daddy and mommy can’t kiss it better, but they know it hurts real bad.

words wield a tremendous amount of power.  they can build you up when you’ve been laid low — they can tear you down from the highest mountaintop and plunge you mercilessly into oblivion.  sometimes they taunt you, tease you, torment you by hovering just slightly out of your grasp.  they can twist the truth and bend reality.  cause dissension and misunderstanding.

words can spark your strength into being and find your achille’s heel.  they can drift through your mind and flip a switch at a second’s notice.  they’ve driven people to greatness, madness, badness, and more.  they’ve swayed millions for good and for ill.  and they can disarm you, strip you bare, and leave you vulnerable.

i’ve experienced the gamut of the power of words in recent weeks.  between big scary life stuff and school and everything else, i’ve seen a great deal of this power.  i suppose i’ve even wielded it — though unfortunately, i seem to have done so in a way that has boomeranged right back at me.  lately i feel the vulnerable, on a lot of different levels and in many situations.

at the end of the day, though, i have to feel that my desire for words and my reverence for language and expression is worthwhile.  as scary as it is.  i guess i can hold onto that.

to close out, never underestimate the power of some well-aimed words.  sometimes they sustain us when we least expect it.  and sometimes they simply lead us to the moments when they can do nothing more than fall silent.

On the run, we aim for the summits and pinnacles
But when your wobbly legs tire, but your mind still roams
Here comes the wheelbarrow, I’m taking you home
Please believe in my sense of direction
We’re not lost, we’re not home

(the above italicized words are not my own; they belong to aloha, and a quietwarm song full of all sorts of lovely things.)

take the leap

i’ve been meaning to post for a week now.  i’ve had an extreme amount of stuff on my mind in the past seven days, and i’ve had a lot of need to get it written out into some semblance of release, but i haven’t had the will.  i wrote some on paper, and that helped the most pressing need of my itchy fingers, but not all of it.  i’ve been thinking of a great deal of things.  this week has been one of upheaval, confusion, pain, and worry.  a couple themes have come through to me, and those are the ones i am going to try to write about today.  so here goes.

recognizing value
this is something i try to do all the time.  my favorite vampire slayer likes to say, “seize the moment.  cos tomorrow, you might be dead.”  or, as one of my favorite movies reiterates, “carpe the diem, man.  seize the….carp.”  if you don’t seize that carp, it’s gonna slither away, and you’ll never get it back.

this is something that has been on my mind for months now.  and that is that life is short.  at best, i’ve got about three-quarters of my life left.  time slips away, it slips away so quickly.  days roll into months, which turn into years, and before you know it, you’re looking back on a decade wondering how you got here.  apart from that, we never know what will happen.  a thousand times a thousand things could happen to truncate our already fleeting existence.  it’s weeks like this when i am reminded of the lessons learned by our mortality.  my mom landed in the hospital this week with a couple very serious conditions — a blood clot in her leg and 16 pulmonary embolisms (a fancy doctor way of saying that her the arteries in her lungs are blocked partially).  she didn’t get admitted, but she will be monitored very closely.  her health has been deteriorating for a while now, and it worries me that they didn’t catch this when they did.  she went to the ER a few months ago as well, and they didn’t catch this blood clot then.  my mom isn’t yet sixty.

my friend’s dad got in an accident, as well.  ended up in the hospital with a possible collapsed lung and internal bleeding.  two things, and they serve to remind me of how precious and fragile our time here is.  we can’t take a single breath for granted here.  as i sit and listen to the pounding of my heart, beating so quickly lately from all the stress, it is a reminder that i’m still here.  i’m still alive.

i try to live every day knowing that my time here is short.  i moved to dc because i had to do it for me.  for my own well-being, my own life.  and the things i am doing here are things that i will look back years from now and be glad for.  some situations are difficult for me right now, but i never want to look back and feel like i didn’t try my hardest.  there comes a time when that’s all you can do.  and then you just have to see what happens.

which brings me to the second theme of this week.

timing
i’ve heard a lot of people talk about timing, as if it were a separate being in and of itself.  when i look back over the events of the last several months, i can categorize the timing of events in a lot of different ways.  but at the end of the day, this is what i think:  there will never be such a thing of perfect timing.  our lives just keep moving.  time keeps going, and it waits for no one.  there will be ups and downs, obstacles and challenges no matter how good or bad the timing feels.

a for instance is my move here.  it might have been more prudent for me to move later rather than sooner, especially financially.  that said, if i had planned to move in mid-june instead of mid-may, my car would have still died the first week in may, and i would have been pretty royally screwed.  as it was, i landed here, with a place to stay and ended up getting the job i had been hoping for for months.  it was a gamble moving here; it was a big fucking risk.  and yeah, the timing’s not perfect.  i have a whole hell of a lot to do in not very much time, and i’ve spent a lot of the last week feeling distinctly overwhelmed, but i’m glad i took that leap.

there is a much more personal side of this theme that i can’t bring myself to line out here in detail, but my thoughts still hold, however vague this paragraph will sound.  after a year has gone by and countless hours of thinking, wondering, hoping have passed, i’m here.  life will always be full of complications and interruptions.  if we go through life always looking for reasons not to jump, not to take the leap, they’ll be there.  there will always be reasons not to.  i’ve thought a lot about the season finale of how i met your mother, which is where i got my phrasing — it’s called “take the leap.”  marshall spends a good part of the episode perched on the concrete firmament on the building’s roof, trying to jump to the next building over.  he has a lot of reasons not to.  he could fall several stories — that’s probably the biggest one.  but in the end, they all do it.  they all jump.  one of the other key lines is that life never takes you where you think it will.  unexpected things crop up all the time.  the point is, if you want something, whether it is a canadian “suit” or to reach a garden the next building over, there comes a time when you have to take the leap.

all that said, you see, is simply to say that life, in all its twists and turns, rollercoaster days and weeks — it’s just life.  and in the end, all that means is whatever we make of it.  you can let it just happen to you and wonder why the things you want pass you by, or you can jump out on that limb and see where it takes you.

all of the risks i’ve taken in this life, not a few of them being in the last several weeks, have led me somewhere.  i might fall flat on my face.  i might end up really, really hurt.  but i’m still here.  and all the trouble, all the anxiety and worry — it’s all worth it in those moments when everything just goes still and tranquil.  when i know with perfect clarity that i am right where i am supposed to be, and when for a while everything is effortless, and i can just…rest.

so to end right back where i started, although i do feel a bit better…where do we go from here?  i know where i would like to go, but you get nowhere along the long roads in life if you can’t take the first steps.

up too late, no sleep in sight

i’ve just teared up for the second time in a few hours.  the first was because i watched the bucket list, and aside from the point the movie was trying to make, i couldn’t help but be moved by ray’s wife.  it shows in the movie that theirs was a love that had fallen into ruin over the course of years.  yet when he came home finally, she lit up like a young girl.  she was ready to put on her sexy lingerie and make love to her husband…only to have him collapse on the floor and then die days later.  my heart wrenched for her as she came out of the bathroom glowing.  and saw her husband’s twitching legs on the other side of the bed.  to see her smile change to absolute agony was really…affecting.  she’s a secondary character in the film, and i felt like her story was tragic and painful.

i teared up again tonight talking to an old friend.  i’ve known him since 2006 — we were in poland together.  he told me the story of how his girlfriend and he got together.  it’s a beautiful story — they met four years ago and had a summer romance and never forgot about each other.  she found his number last november, and now they’re together, although they live three hours apart.  that’s not what made me teary though…sweet as it is.

karsten told me that i am strong.  he was the second person this late night to say that to me, and it kind of got to me.  today was a surreal day.  got up, was going to go to the arboretum, ended up doing paperwork for tfa and then going to see star trek…in the midst of the hum drum, i got a friend request on my second facebook account from an unwelcome source — a source i blocked on my normal account months and months ago — and a package of very odd easter trinkets from my dad, from whom i’ve barely heard in months.  he called me literally about 20 minutes after i got picked up at the airport last week here.  add to that a couple other slightly odd (but not bad) happenings and a bout of my chronic insomnia, and i was feeling a little less than strong.  karsten went on to say that he’s always thought i was a very strong person.  maybe i am, but i don’t feel like it.

a lot of the time i’m confused.  i don’t know what is expected of me.  i tend to be so blunt and candid that i forget that most people aren’t used to that.  there are all these nuances of human interaction that escape me.  i feel unsure of myself and nervous about how i’m perceived.  and i hate that something so arbitrary as a facebook friend request can send my heart into flutters and tie my stomach into knots.  i hate that i get nervous and a bit tongue-tied and shy.  there is so much to my personality that a lot of people never get to know because i’m afraid to let it show.  it’s stupid.  i’ve come out of my shell a lot, and i really like myself, but even when i feel strong, i never think of others seeing me that way.  not sure why that is.

so i teared up at that.  karsten told me that he thinks it’s amazing that i live my life and do what i need to do, wherever it takes me.  i always figure that people just see me as flighty.  i spend so much time trying to…i guess offer up what i have to give and wanting so much to share myself that i think i’m afraid it falls by the wayside.  not so much that it goes unnoticed but that it goes noticed and unwanted.  it’s almost five a.m., and i’m really not sure what i’m trying to say here.

i guess that…after an odd sort of day…watching a new day dawn from my own bed, i feel strangely hopeful.  maybe there’s hope for me after all.  so many things in my life right now seem to be falling into place.  some neatly with virtually no effort, others that will take work.  right now, at this moment, i feel like every one of them is worth the effort.  so i’ll keep moving forward and see where i end up — with teach for america, with washington dc, with people.  everything right now is the product of months of striving, toil, wondering, planning, hoping, working, and waiting.  and i’ll see it all through to the best of my ability.  maybe that’s strength.  if it is, i’ll take it.

calm

the chamomile tea burns my tongue as i sip gingerly from my cardboard cup.  calm. that’s the name of this magical herbal elixer.  so far, it’s not working.  the scents evoke memories in my mind.  plucking the little green herbs as a child, picking apart the yellow heads as the scent of fresh chamomile rose from the scraps.  the tea bag* now is filled with those little dried bits, sodden now in scorching water, combined with the tang of mint and some unidentified red specks that remind me, rather inappropriately, of pimentos.

as sweet and comforting as the scent and taste is on a normal day, today it may as well be listerine for all the good it’s doing for my nerves.

our brains are such fickle things.  greatest ally and archnemesis at the same time.  how sad.

this week has been a bit of a rollercoaster.  i have been surprised at a few moments, mostly pertaining to my job.  here they are in hodge-podge format.

our broker and i share a love for hardcore rock.  i always loved rob zombie and marilyn manson when i was a teenager.  this woman does not strike me as someone who would like that kind of music…and it just goes to show how much working in a corporate environment can do to strip people of their identities and hobbies.  we had a great conversation about music with lots of screaming.  it was pretty awesome.

i’ve realized writing this that a lot of people don’t know that about me, either.  welp, now you do.

i shouldn’t have gotten groceries for this week.  i’ve been treated to lunch so many times.

my boss’s dad took me out for a two hour lunch on wednesday.  it was honestly one of the most pleasant times i have had.  he is such a genuine, caring man, and i truly enjoyed talking to him the whole time.  he told me over and over this week how sad he is that i’m leaving.  and told me that his wife and friends (many of whom have come into the office) are really quite dejected as well.  he said they all had nothing but the best things to say about me, and that they really will miss me.  i was touched.  as i stood there smiling awkwardly, he told one of his guests that i would go out and do great things for the world.  his guest,  expressed a hope that he would see me again and echoed mr. andrews’s statement that i would go on to impact wider reaches.

my boss, the owner of this company, came up yesterday afternoon to say goodbye, even though he’s around today.  he told me this place was too small of a pond for me, and…as i write this, he just now came up to me again on his way out the door, handed me a check for $100, and told me he hoped i would come back to visit.  i’m truly blown away.

melanie, our office manager, gave me one of the sweetest and most touching cards i think i’ve ever received.  suffice it to say that i’ll miss her.  a lot.  she also printed out the recommendation she wrote for me to teach for america.  after reading that, i’m more than shocked.  i don’t think anyone has ever written anything so glowing about me.

two of our agents, a mother and daughter team, gave me a card with $50 in it.  they left before i could thank them.

one of our other agents (who recently transferred his license to another firm)  is taking me to lunch today.  he’s been one of the most friendly people i’ve met here, and a genuinely good guy.  his son is a great reader, and i’ve really enjoyed knowing them both.

another agent who also transferred her license is taking me to coffee on tuesday afternoon.  she and i really bonded over lunch breaks in the kitchen and talking about all sorts of stuff.

a good friend (not from work) has been driving me to work and back for the last week.  seventy miles of driving a day.  words can’t even describe how grateful i am.  it means so much to me.

another friend gave me $140 to help me out. others have helped pack and move boxes and given me tremendous amounts of moral support.

basically, i feel beyond lucky right now.  about work…even though this job isn’t something that i really aspire to, the people here have been absolutely priceless.  i don’t even know what to do with myself.

i’ve gone through a lot of my life being rather cynical.  but i have to say, more and more this year, i’m finding that people are surprising me…for the better.  and that’s something i’m going to hold onto through the next 5 days.  maybe that chamomile tea worked after all.

*i can’t think about “tea bag” without my brain going to a gutter place.  thanks, republican party and all your tea parties that spawned relentless jabs of tea-bagging.  yep.  thanks.

a little worse for wear

i maybe have some bruises and scrapes.  maybe a little gravel stuck somewhere uncomfortable.  i’ll probably keep falling down some more.

but there are always hands to help me up, and i’m lucky to have good friends who can (and will) tell me when my head’s not level and things are starting to roll off of it.  it’s hard to see things objectively a lot of the time.

but that’s what friends are for.  they’re there to cheer you on, support you, and let you know when you’re being nuts.

and that’s that.  so i’m grateful my life is full of people who fit that description.