Logjam

Posted: April 15, 2015 in Uncategorized

It’s that part of the semester when I start to feel crowded out of my own life. Even things that are important to me can get in the way of quiet, reflective time alone that is as vital to my health as water. So today, before I jump into all the other things, I’m taking a moment for this, for me, and then I’ll go for a little run (although I have to get back into shape more before running will get really fun again — it’s still good for clearing my head, though).

It’s been too long, and I’ve been feeling the pressure build lately, the logjam of thoughts. Too long means it’s such a jumble that I’m just going to try to clear some away; the sense of the remaining parts might come later. It’s full of pieces and ambiguities, so, yeah.

A few days ago I stood up for myself to someone whose words and actions had been causing me discomfort, and I tried to do so with as much grace and compassion as possible. I think I did okay. Anymore, I often ask myself, “What is the brave thing to do?” and then “What’s the kind thing?” and try to act accordingly.

Sometimes we need to grieve, even when a lot of time has passed. Even when we thought we were over it. Sometimes the mind is a time traveler back to when the wound was fresh, and we just have to deal with that feeling and ourselves honestly. A couple days ago I said another last goodbye to someone I’ll always love.

Sometimes the days I push through when I start out just wanting to eat a bunch of pizza and curl up back in bed turn out to be among my better teaching days.

Last night, I dreamt that someone who had given me up wanted me back. Confusing.

I squeezed in 15 minutes of yoga and basic strength exercises before showering up and getting ready for work yesterday and felt better for it, though I was also frustrated it was all the time I could spare, since I had so much work I had to do before appointments with my students started.

I can’t find my aviators. I want them. Ugh. Other sunglasses are just not me.

Piles of clean clothes. Sewing project. Video games. Dishes. Bike. Next steps. Baseball games. Planning a baby shower. Repotting plants. Et cetera. Et cetera.

There are plenty of things I do and don’t like about my job. Being able to start my day slowly much of the time is one of the best things.

I will love you if I never see you again, and I will love you if I see you every Tuesday.” – Lemony Snicket

Quote  —  Posted: March 4, 2015 in Uncategorized

Sick Day, Uncertainty, and Hope

Posted: December 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

Sick day. It’s not so terrible; I don’t get sick often, so I’m aware that I’m lucky even when I’m feeling bad and staying in my PJs in bed all day. Things are just foggy and hurt-y from head to calf (yeah, the muscle feels like it’s about a second from cramping up, especially when I move or walk — weird, body, just weird). And Beck’s the soundtrack to my fuzzy brain-firings. I’ve been trying to plow away at some work (not particularly effectively overall, but I have made at least a couple big strides for PhD app things). It’s getting dark out, and so I’d really like just to curl up on the couch (or the floor, or something — I’m having trouble finding a comfortable position at all, so I’m feeling a change is in order) and let TV images dance in front of my eyes until sleep overtakes me.

A lot of things are uncertain, and I’m really aware of it these days. It’s not that scary, just a little — a little more at some times than others, of course, due to the tides of emotions. Much depends on these PhD applications. Where I’ll be living in a year (heck, in a couple months, since my roommate wants to buy a house and we’re now month-to-month on our lease), whether I’ll be moving to a new city with a friend (if she and I get into the same PhD program) or alone, whether it’ll be closer or farther from where my family lives, what I’ll be teaching, how I’ll maintain my friendships over the years… it’s all yet to be determined, and that’s okay. I also wonder what will become of things with a person I’ve found myself quite fond of. He’s got dreams to chase, and so do I, and what direction they’ll run will be clear soon enough.

The good thing is that where I used to clench my fists and struggle to grasp it all, I’ve learned to hold gently; after all, too tight a grip means less room for whatever it is I want to occupy that space. If there’s one lesson I’ve learned, whether from basketball or friendships or romantic relationships or trying to hit the high note before your voice is warmed up, it’s that you can’t force it. There’s this balance point between trying not enough and trying too hard (either extreme in my case can often be tied to fear, anxiety, of some sort), and we’re always aiming for that center.

I woke up this morning with a couple lines from a Nate Pritts poem (“Data Viewing Device”) in my head: “A base hit gets you to first but I’m greedy; / I’m swinging for the fences every time. . .” I discovered this poet by a lucky accident pretty recently, and I’ve fallen for this poem hard. I love that bravery, that openness to experience — even to failure — in the pursuit of something amazing. That speaks to me where I am in my life right now. Things have gotten better, and the uncertainty I’m facing right now also has the beautiful side of possibility: I swing at this pitch, and it might be that home run I’ve been hoping for.

You Get Used To It

Posted: November 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

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So, in short, I’m still busy, still overwhelmed with work and PhD apps and the things I wanna write and trying to have a life… but things are good.

Things are getting too full inside this ol’ noggin of mine; fragments have been swimming about, spinning, colliding into each other, knocking away things I ought to do and making me a bit scatterbrained. I’ve gotta start clearing house a little bit, even if these thoughts don’t come out as developed as I’d like.

“Can I just tell you one time?”Louie and Pamela

Tonight, while I was making my dinner, I put on an episode of Louie (season 2’s “Subway/Pamela” — potential spoilers follow), because some of the strongest moments on the show so far (I haven’t gotten to watch season 4 yet) have been between Louie and Pamela late in season 2. I hadn’t seen the episode in a while, so I’d forgotten just how strong the flea market confessional is, when Louie asks, “Can I just tell you one time the way I feel about you?” That scene and the airport scene in the season finale are two of my favorite moments in television, ever.

I love them for how remarkably bittersweet they are; the airport scene is somehow both grimly funny and heartbreaking, and the flea market scene just hits you… well, I’ll just let Louie’s expression do the talking:

This might also seem odd, but the flea market scene is, to me, very romantic — despite the obvious strains of a sort of realistic anti-romanticism that are also present.

I spent a fair bit of time thinking about what I counted as romantic after a conversation half a year ago in which I was sort of accused of not being a romantic — perhaps rightfully so: I don’t believe in love as being full of breathless declarations of “forever” with your prince/princess and dramatic gestures and Pride and Prejudice quotations. That’s all well and good, I s’pose, if it’s what you’re into, but I’ll be brutally honest: to me, it seems shallow. I suppose it’s because I’ve always been a “still waters run deep” kind of person. I believe in a love that is showing up every day, quiet but clear actions, perhaps fewer words but more original ones. I love that Louie’s words aren’t perfect; the simple and occasionally awkward honesty of “this is how I feel” is far better to me, because it’s more real, than the impossible eloquence of an Austen fantasy man.

Part of what hits me about the scene is that I know what it is to be brave and vulnerable with someone (I’m pretty sure I’ve stood in Louie’s shoes more often than Pamela’s). Like others who have started down such a path, I know the odd, insane momentum that comes from the action of being honest, how it makes you start to hope against all reason that baring your heart has made a difference, even when you know intellectually that you are about to hit the wall and crash and burn. I know the feeling that shows up when it doesn’t make a difference. But, when it does… well, that’s why the hope is there.

So, I value the people who risk the crash and burn, and I love Louie for blurting his mixture of clumsy clichés and wonderful originality to Pamela, for starting to tear up at the airport, and especially for that moment when he says, “Shut up. Let me tell you. Let me.”

Poem from Ali Trotta at alwayscoffee.wordpress.com. Shannon (my poetry-writing friend/partner in PhD applications) and I were talking about this kind of thing last week. We don’t use people; they don’t make it into our writing on purpose. But, speaking for myself, writing’s how I process my thoughts and emotions, and I find I can’t help it. And what I really dig about this poem is how Ali conveys all the other stuff: the intensity, the artistic and emotional sensitivity, the neuroses, the depth of love.

Thanks, Ali.

alwayscoffee

If you are looking for simple,
don’t date a writer. Don’t even
flirt with her. While you are talking,
she is considering
how you might look in a story,
or a poem,
or, possibly, in her bed. She analyzing
the metaphors in your smile,
the conjugated verbs
sprinkled in your laugh,
and the way your hands dance
in the air while you talk –
she is writing a story for those hands.

She will have bad days.
She will break dishes and cry
because failure feels like an adjective
for every incomplete sentence,
even though it’s the wrong part of speech –
her heart is always dangling
over a precipice, thoughts
wandering like a hurricane,
no one can swallow that –
but will you try, anyway?

If you are looking for simple,
marry a woman who won’t
wake you in the middle of the night,
full of desire and tequila…

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Today’s rain arrived as thunderstorms this evening, so I took the opportunity to sit on my porch and enjoy the atmosphere while getting some quiet, intellectual work done (providing a nice balance for the busy festival my friends and I went to this morning). Listening to the rain and Ryan Adams, I got to thinking about seizing the moment in other situations. It’s something I’ve made some major strides in this year.

It’s not exactly easy to like someone, particularly in the early stages when you don’t know if it’s mutual or not. It’s not exactly tough, either, of course—heck, having a crush can even be kinda fun. There’s the buzz of having a good time with another person (which, funny enough, is what tends to prompt that wondering about mutuality), the corresponding sugar-like rush of imagining, What if things go well? Besides the fun of new possibility, there’s the simple enjoyment of well-spent time with somebody, which is worth it in and of itself.

So, I’ve been going ahead and giving it my best shot in those moments that seem to present themselves. Whatever comes of it, I’ll know I was brave and open. In a way, it’s easy; I recently joked to a friend that in a post-J. economy, I don’t have the time or energy to worry about these things—Does he like me, or doesn’t he? I don’t know, but I’m sure I’ll find out at some point, and I’m not going to make myself crazy over it. And I’m not going to spend time worrying about how I don’t remember how these things are supposed to work. It’ll go somewhere, or I’ll get over it. It really is that simple.

What will I do? What I’ve been doing. Send the text message. Offer the invitation. Go to the game with acquaintances and have a good time, get to know them better. Spend time with friends and family who already love me, and be grateful for them. Say yes to the local reporter who asks to interview my best bud and me at the festival. Say yes when the grad program director at my school asks me to talk at new student orientation as a recent grad. Say yes when a very talented artist expresses interest in painting my portrait. Submit my stories and poems to publications and hope for the best. Keep putting energy into the worthwhile things I’m doing. Go out on the limb. Just go for it and hope for the best in everything.