Once more, with feeling!

So. It’s been a little over a year since I wrote here. It was during my come down off a long sugar bender so that I didn’t want any. Following that, I lost about 30 lbs over the course of a few months, but by the end of winter hit, and then a really rough spring and summer followed, I sit here not having gained it all and a few more back to boot and yet again trying to kick the sugar monkey off my back.

*sigh*

I’ve struggled for so long with this. And so many other things. How to make my life better. How to be happier. How to get fulfillment in my relationships that start well but then get difficult. I know that all things have positive and negative, but there have been some massive relationship issues I’ve faced. Then there’s the work strife, both overall of how do I balance working for a place that might fire me if they learn about the other place I work and the other place I work being a combination of mounting frustration and completely open and accepting. There’s the slow push forward to finally make progress on editing and improving my book and knowing I need to read and write more but finding it hard to get out of my own head, get past the fatigue and lack of inspiration, and just to fight the inertia.

I also want to write more. Dance more. Make love and explore kink and poly more. Make friends. Grow. Buy a new car. Worry about money less. Lose weight and get healthier. It’s all tied together. It’s all wrapped up in this complex game we call life.

Right now, rather than figure it all out, I’m just going to post this as is. A starting point again.

I’m also going to post this here, so I don’t forget: http://www.adiosbarbie.com/2015/08/i-tried-to-have-sex-with-a-porcupine-dodging-the-stigma-of-self-harm/

I didn’t write it but I find it immensely helpful and reassuring.

Here’s to new beginnings.

Oh, I gave up wheat and rice on Wednesday. Gonna be giving up more crap I shouldn’t be eating over the next few months. Trying to do it systematically to let my body adapt as I go. We’ll see how it goes.

Home?

It would be nice to find mine.

I gave up the one I had created for what I thought was a better opportunity…love, a bright and shining future. Sure, there were going to be some difficulties. I never expected the path to just be perfect. But things…started going wrong. There were debts I didn’t know about, financial issues that I again didn’t know about, I had trouble finding a job, the landlord responded to the debt by leaving his wife at the house when he was supposed to help her move in with him to another state. And there was the fact that I had about a cubic foot of space for all my stuff in the time I was there. Most of my things stayed packed in my car until my husband took them out in a panic one night, as I was on my way to meet friends. So they got brought down to a basement to stay packed there. Then I found out about the cheating. And everything in me broke. I guess it was lucky that it took less than 30 minutes to pack what wasn’t already packed, no more than an hour to load my car up and leave.

And I came back to the closest thing to a home I’d had in, well, years. Because even in what was supposed to be my apartment that I shared with my now exhusband and exwife, the last few years especially…it became less and less mine. Gothic horror art was going up. I wanted to downsize and they kept collecting books and DVDs. For these and other reasons, I felt like I was being edged out.

So I came down South to start over. My sister made me a wonderful offer of a finished basement. I was starting to decorate. I had my stuff unpacked. And then I made the decision to move. After trying to convince my soon-to-be husband to move down here, where it would be relatively free to live and go to school, he said he wanted to stay. So I went. So hopeful. So much in love.

Coming back, I found that my niece had moved into the basement, her sister and husband had moved into her room, their son had moved into their room and…that was all the rooms. All taken. The first few weeks I was here, before my niece left for a part-year job in Alaska, I slept on the couch or in a twin bed in my two and four year old great-nieces’ room. My bed I had left down in the basement until I could come get it. Which was where my niece was living. She left about two weeks after I got back, so I could then move down to the basement. The first few nights were like heaven. I had my bed back. Sleep came almost naturally. I’ve been down here for nearly five months and now she’s coming home. And we’re trying to figure out where to put me.

No matter where I go, I’m displacing someone. Or inconveniencing someone. No matter where I go, it’s not mine. I won’t be able to unpack my boxes. All of my stuff’s scattered…some is in the garage, some is in this closet, some in the attic. I know they’re just things, but…damnit, they’re my things. The only place I feel completely at home, and have for the past few years, is my car. It’s the only space where I can go that’s mine. I thought of going back to my dad’s, but a) I don’t know if he’d have me and b) it’s not like it’s a perfect solution. I’d be leaving my sister and her family, the gorgeous lake, the church and choir, the Y (which, besides my sister is the biggest thing for me, since they are paying me to exercise and I need that activity.) and some good friends I’ve made here. But I’d be going back to a place where I have many friends and some family, my childhood home, which there are two rooms that are just mine. I’d be able to take care of clearing out the clutter of my old life, my childhood, and physically moving on from it which I’ve been needing to do for a while. I’d be back in a place where I felt comfortable in my bones.

But is comfort the key? What makes a home? What brings that feeling? For me, it’s somewhere, a bit of space where I can be me. Completely me. Decorate the way I want to, put things where I want them to go, inhabit the space how I see fit. I haven’t been that free, that expressive, that confident in years. I don’t even remember the last time it was. Probably the last time I lived at my dad’s. I was starting to get it here, before I had to go and screw everything up. But even then, I was still staying in a space that predominantly my sister’s. Now I’m staying in a space that’s my sister’s but my niece moved in on top of that, and then I moved in on top of that.

Goal: I’d really like to find myself a place to call home.

Brain dump needed.

Close your eyes and try to sleep now, close your eyes and try to dream
Clear your mind and do your best to try and wash the palette clean

The writer Ferrett is awesome, yet again.

Is it getting better? Or do you feel the same?
Will it make it easier on you now, you’ve got someone to blame?

I admire her. I don’t want to be single for 1000 days, but I do identify with needing to take time to get back in touch with myself.

“But yesterday, Independence Day, at 85 miles per hour I plowed that Harley through the buffet line. It occurs to me…”

“…I don’t think I know me as well as I thought I did.”
-“I Don’t Think I Know Me” by Eddie From Ohio

For nearly twenty years, I’ve loved this song.  But only in the past few has it become uncomfortably obvious that it’s all too true.

No, I didn’t plow into a buffet line.  But there have been other things I’ve willfully just gone ahead and done that really…what the hell was I doing?  There’ve been reasons.  There always are.  Love.  Money.  Attention.  Affection.  Security.

That first one…and that last one…

Man.  It seems I’ve made many decisions based on those two things.  Much of my writing and thinking recently have been examining how and why I’ve done what I’ve done for love.  A Chorus Line‘s “What I Did For Love” sums it up nicely: Won’t regret, can’t forget what I did for love.

But there is another word up there that’s motivated me more sometimes.  And led me down far darker paths.

Security.

It’s amazing what we’ll give up in when it comes to security, isn’t it?  Just look at headlines and the current political climate in the US since 2001.  It surely goes back further, but in my life, I witnessed a great shift in perspective post 9/11.  People became obsessed with “security”.  I put it in quotations because…well…it’s an illusion.  I first came to this realization back in college, shortly after the attacks.  Students were getting ugly, saying callous things like “we should just bomb those countries off the map” and defending against any dissent by retorting with, “if you don’t like it, get the hell outta my country.”  The founding fathers would be so proud.

Rather, they’d be horrified of that type of intolerance.  And of the liberties we’ve given up in the name of security.  As Benjamin Franklin said, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

It seems he knew that “security” was very seductive and seldom worth what you gave up for it.

An illusion.  A goddamned illusion.  Some people sleep better at night knowing that their doors are locked, their kids are in their beds, and tomorrow, they’ll get up and go to work.  Nothing really can prepare you for a heart attack.  Or a teenager who gets it into his/her head that s/he’s bored and wants to take the family car without a driver’s license and winds up in a ditch.  Or that some mad man might shoot up your place of work or your kid’s school.  So we make laws designed to make people feel like someone else is protecting us.  “Won’t someone please think of the children” is one of the most disgusting versions of this.  Everything has to have soft corners, be nice and not upsetting.  God forbid children get hurt, or have to deal with disappointment.  Everyone’s a winner.  Which means in many ways, we all lose.

All an illusion.  I figured this out in college, some 12 years ago.  How had I not understood how it applied to other types of security I was seeking?

I loved being married.  I wanted it so badly.  To feel the ring(s) on my finger(s).  To know that I had someone(s) there who had my back, who loved me unconditionally, who wanted to raise a family together, who would be faithful and supportive, who would grow with me into old age.  Security.

But the rings and the vows don’t guarantee that over time, people won’t fall out of love with you.  I can’t make someone be faithful.  Or love me the way I had so hoped they would.  Or support me.  Or raise a family. Or grow old with me.  No one can -make- anyone else do that (not without shady influence, anyway, and really, who wants that?  Well, not me, at least).

Sweet baby Jesus, how I wanted to believe I could change…anything…everything…myself.  I could learn to like things that horrified me.  I could turn a blind eye (sometimes even heart) to things that hurt me.  I could ignore the intuition, the unease, the desperate longing for more, sometimes for anything.  So often, I did.  Too often.  So much so that when it ended, there was honestly some relief.

However, when another opportunity for that security I so desperately wanted presented itself, I all-too-swiftly abandoned some of these dawning realizations, that relief and what it had meant.  Focusing only on the good and willing the bad to go away again, I thought it would be enough.  I thought -I- could be enough.  Enough to cobble together a type of family that I never had.  Security that I dreamed about, where I wouldn’t have to lie awake at night in a state of perpetual anxiety.  I wouldn’t be plagued with the crippling fear of being left yet again, as I had been so many times.  Someone(s) wholly excited on a regular basis to be with me.  To be honest with me.  To love me.  To trust and who trusted me.

A friend recently said, “you need…better love.”  It’s true.  I do.  But I have no idea how to look for it now.  I’m no longer certain that I want to get married.  What’s the point?  It doesn’t, in and of itself, mean forever.  It doesn’t mean faithfulness.  It doesn’t mean honesty.  Hell, it doesn’t even mean Iove.  And it certainly doesn’t mean security.

Which means I’m back to the drawing board.  Figuring things out from the ground up.  Because clearly, I don’t think I know me as well as I thought I did.

Being a better person, lobster love, and connecting more dots

Lobster-love-print-newdayprints

Nifty image from newdayprints on Etsy. Check them out. They’ve got hundreds of cool, affordable, unique prints. This lobster, however, is sold out.  I was sad, too.

Cracked.com is known for its incisive, edgy, and trademark snarkiness. Right now, this particular article detailing “6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person” has knocked me for a loop.

Because they are kinda harsh.  And they are true.  (And really funny once your ego understands that it’s about to get a kick in the ass.)  Here are the aforementioned 6 Harsh Truths, though you really need to read the article to fully understand the awesome that is Cracked.com.

  • #6. The World Only Cares About What It Can Get from You
  • #5. The Hippies Were Wrong
  • #4. What You Produce Does Not Have to Make Money, But It Does Have to Benefit People
  • #3. You Hate Yourself Because You Don’t Do Anything
  • #2. What You Are Inside Only Matters Because of What It Makes You Do
  • #1. Everything Inside You Will Fight Improvement

It’s about action.  Connecting dots in life.  And what impedes action.  And how you need to find a way to connect the damn dots anyway.

A few days ago, I reviewed the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio.  In it, there’s a precept/theme that one should always be a little kinder than is necessary.

Because kindness is something you do.  Sitting down and eating lunch with someone who’s eating alone.  Calling a friend when you know they’re going through a rough spot. Giving leftovers to a homeless person. Contributing to a food bank.

Love is also something you do.  And I’m not talking about sex.  I’m talking about the activities, day in and day out, that make a relationship work.  While it’s nice and necessary to have dreams and ideals in a relationship, they only happen if you work towards them every day.  As a friend astutely observed, “we march towards dreams in the day to day. ”

Or, to put it in a less poetic way, I was chatting with another friend recently about how much my impending divorce hurt, because I love my husband.  My friend replied with, “I love lobster.  It doesn’t put a lobster dinner on the table.”

That packed a punch.  I had been shelling out the old adage “sometimes love isn’t enough” but not fully comprehending why.  Because of lobster, that’s why.  Because you can love something, but love alone doesn’t make a relationship.

Or, if you prefer more a more poetic, musical rendition, check out Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra’s music video to “The Bed Song”:

The same goes for friendships…minus the bed.  (sometimes.) Lately I’ve been ruminating about friends I’ve drifted away from.  There are various reasons I could attribute it to: geography, differing interests, some are exes and that can get awkward, unresolved fights, trust issues, growing apart.  But really, it boils down to the fact that we’re not doing.  The friends I’ve drifted away from, when looked at it one on one between each friend and I…neither of us are actively being a friend.  Facebook likes don’t count as much as I thought they did.  Hell, Facebook comments don’t count as much as I thought they did.  They’re all just little offshoots of a bigger part of trying.  Actual contact.  Directly writing to, talking to, spending time with another person.  I’m going to try and change what I can and see if any of those friendships can be salvaged. Because these people I’ve lost touch with…they’ve connected many dots in my life.  We’ve shared incredible things that I still remember and cherish the memories of.  And perhaps all I’ll have left of those friendships is the memories, but I won’t know if new experiences and memories can be had if I don’t try.

In her amazing keynote address given at Grub Street’s 2013 “The Muse and the Marketplace” conference (transcript and video can be found here on her blog), Amanda Palmer talks both about connecting dots and what makes someone a writer.

i asked my twitter feed last night if there were any writers out there, and, it being a friday night, there were thousands ready and waiting.

and i asked: WHAT makes you feel like an actual writer? was there a moment. answer however you want. and hundreds of responses flooded in, and i looked for themes. some people said”

“when i first got paid”
“when i first got published”
“when i got my first real review”

…but a LOT of people said:

“when somebody told me that my writing moved them. that was the moment.”

some of these people wrote blogs, some wrote books, all different styles…the format didn’t matter.

what mattered is that they’d moved another human being. nobody said they felt authenticated when they got their first negative blog comment, or bad review. (well there was one girl who said that her boyfriend insulted her for calling herself a writer because she never spent any time writing. so she quit her job and started writing. that was a happy ending, more or less….)

but mostly: we’re strengthened by those who nod at the dots that we connect.

And she sums it up nicely when she says, “if you’re putting down words to connect the dots, you’re a writer.”

So here I am trying to connect my own dots.  Trying to be a better person, writer, lover, friend.  I know the first time I wrote something where I had unsolicited, unknown to me people comment and say that I touched them with my writing, I felt amazing.  When a random audience member I’d never met before told me they were moved by my singing or dancing or acting or directing, I was on top of the world.  Not necessarily because of the praise, because a fire gets lit under me when someone criticizes me, too.  No, it’s the fact that when I created something and someone reacted, we connected.  Dots were connected, people were connected.  It was like a hug, but without the physical proximity.  It transcended miles, time, race.

Yes, there are times, like the Cracked articles says, everything inside me fights improvement.  And there are times I succumb to that vortex of sucktastic self pity.  And then there are other times, like today after reading the article, I went upstairs, did some dishes, threw in a load of laundry, ate a good meal, and then came back down here and started writing.

A book the whole damn world needs to read.

Cross-posted from my Cannonball Read V review:
Wonder-RJ-PalacioThough it’s a New York Times Bestseller, I first caught word of this brilliant gem of a YA book on Amanda Palmer’s blog. She says:

i’m reading an incredible book.
this one is a “just trust me. read it.”
it’s a quick one (technically a young adult book – total page-turner).
it’s connecting a lot of dots for me.

(Side Note: The “connecting a lot of dots” part, while it stands on it’s own as a phrase, obviously, is also in reference to her talk at Grub Street’s 2013 “The Muse and the Marketplace” literary conference in Boston. The link has the transcript of her talk and the video, which is fascinating to me as a writer, a reader, and a human.)

So, with a “just trust me. read it” recommendation from one of my favorite musicians/writers, I hit up my library and a few days later Wonder by R.J. Palacio was in my hands. One page in, I was hooked.

Wonder is primarily about August Pullman. By his own description, he is “not an ordinary ten-year-old kid.” He says that he does ordinary stuff, sure. Eating ice cream. Riding his bike. Playing XBox. However, he knows he’s not ordinary because “ordinary kids don’t make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds.”

See, Auggie was born with many medical conditions that affected his face such as a cleft palate and a “previously unknown type of “mandibulofacial dysostosis” In his own words, he declines to describe what he looks like. “Whatever you’re thinking,” he tells us, “it’s probably worse.” Up until the start of the book, he had been home-schooled by his mom but when we come in, his parents are considering sending him to a prep school near where they live in NYC. Understandably, Auggie is scared. Hell, his mom, dad, and older sister, Via are kind of scared, too. How will other kids treat him? While he needs to grow, socialize, learn more than his mom (who isn’t a teacher) can teach him, they also need to consider the fact that people, especially children, can sometimes be cruel. Is it worth it the growth and experiences he might have to send him out, “like a lamb to slaughter” as his father fears.

They’re not unfounded, these fears. At various points throughout the book, he gets called things like Orc, Gollum, (both from Lord of the Rings), an alien, and freak. Kids devise a game called “the plague” which you will get if you touch August and don’t wash your hands within 30 seconds. But the steps that both Auggie’s parents and the director of the school (Mr. Tushman) take to help Auggie acclimate are heartening and heartwrenching. The quiet courage and kindness of some children in his class are wonderful.

Though narrated in first person, the book shifts voices throughout: first up is Auggie, then his sister (Via), his friend (Summer), his friend (Jack), his sister’s boyfriend (Justin), Auggie, his sister’s friend (Miranda), and finally Auggie, again. The change in perspective flows perfectly and offers surprising insight into things that happen in Auggie’s life and, as Amanda Palmer says, connects a lot of dots.

My favorite parts of the book were when those dots get connected and I feel myself expanding. When I saw something happen from one person’s perspective and how it affected that person, I thought I understood what was going on. But then another character would talk about the same thing and blow the lid off what I thought I knew. This was most true when you see the course of Auggie & Jack’s and Via & Miranda’s friendships. Another fantastic part was how Mr. Tushman responded to a particularly ignorant, insensitive parent with what I think amounts to a dignified bitch-slap if ever I read one. The English teacher (Mr. Browne) and his monthly precepts? Awesome. And I’m not ashamed to say the last few chapters made me weep.

This is seriously one of those books that I think everybody in the entire damn world should read. It would help us be kinder to each other, grow up a bit, get out of our own comfort zones and connect the dots to see just how similar, even in our differences, we are. Also? Any book that can manage to bring in references to Star Wars, David Bowie, Sappho, Hamlet, Magnetic Fields, Our Town, Doogie Howser, and The Polyphonic Spree is just fine by me.

To me, Independence Day means…

fireworks-heart

Kinda what my heart feels like lately…

Fireworks, in my life and in the sky.

Continued mourning of a relationship that began one year ago today and went places I never dreamed, high and low, and wishing (probably in vain) that the friendship can somehow emerge intact.

Little girls in red, white, and blue – joyful, hopeful  portraits of the past and present in one parade of darling innocence.

Acknowledging that freedom and independence come with sacrifice, fighting for what you value, and a steep price.

Knowing that I’m strong enough to move forward and make a brighter future for myself.