In the words of G.O.B.

Sometimes when I make a decision I feel really great about it. I want to be a huge, bragging douchebag about my awesome decision because I decided something and, in so doing, displayed great awesomeness.

Other times, I make a decision and immediately hear G.O.B.’s voice in my head.

I’ve made a huge mistake.

I’m not gonna lie. Sometimes it seems like the first thing has never happened and the second thing happens all the time. Take from that what you will.

The thing about situations like that is that they are almost always preceded by a feeling that I should most definitely make a different decision than the one I am about to make. But I’m a person who tends to doubt herself. So much so that, at times, I have deep misgivings about ordering dinner.

Dinner.

Misgivings.

Deep.

Are we hearing this?

There are times when I truly don’t know what to do and there are times when I do listen to my gut, but it takes a prodigious amount of effort. I feel like this should be the default for situations where moral codes don’t apply (personal decisions that don’t present a choice between “right” and “wrong”), but somehow that switch got turned off and all of a sudden I’m without a compass because, as it turns out, your gut can’t effectively be replaced by any one particular thing. Nobody else’s beliefs, intuitions, life experience, and self-knowledge course through your veins – only yours. You can reach and grasp for another impetus, but you will only ever be guessing.

What is correct? 

What should I do?

What would my family think?

What is the socially acceptable thing to do?

What is polite?

And so I flail about, all the while ignoring the sick feeling in my stomach that says “beware of what you are about to do.” I often find myself making a decision that seems to accord with some reality somewhere – just not mine.

And then, once I’m stuck in someone else’s reality, all the thoughts that I had and ignored crystallize to form a perfect picture what I should have done and I am suddenly very brilliant and very wise indeed. But by then, I am stuck.

I recently got myself un-stuck from a terrible decision, which was one of the boldest moves I’ve made recently and proceeded by the most labyrinthine of thought processes. Many sleepless nights and back-and-forths. But I finally looked to my gut and my gut said: go.

Even if it had turned out to be a mistake (which I don’t believe it has), it would have been my mistake and one honestly made. And I would only be able to look to myself for either fault or credit, and I would be able to own it and grow from it since there’s nobody else to blame for a decision you make on your own.

I think they call that being a grown-up.

So here’s to being a motherfucking grown-up.

Palm Springs.

I’m astonished that we actually survived to this mini-vacation that’s been planned for months and always on the brink of being canceled.

For some incomprehensible reason, vacations are difficult for us to actually pull off as a couple. (But I kind of think that this might actually be mostly because of me.) Somehow, the day before departure, we always end up with a to-do list like this:

1. Do all the things.

2. Shit! Why did we do none of the things before now?

3. And why are they all the most important, time-sensitive things?

We are not so good at doing the things when we should do them. Instead, we’re like “What? That Thing? That Thing will be great to do tomorrow. Tomorrow is a very great day for doing That Thing.”

If you add up all those Tomorrows, they equal The Day Before Vacation. Always.

And then we’re in the car and we’re stressed out and we’re having a fight about the proper speed to drive a car (could it not possibly be the posted speed limit, I ask – nay, plead?) and we’re all VACATION SUCKS LET’S GO HOME AND LIVE OUR NORMAL, STUPID LIVES INSTEAD BECAUSE THAT’S BETTER THAN THIS GARBAGE.

But then we get to our vacation and we’re amazed that it’s nice and wonderful. Part of the reason it’s nice and wonderful is that we finally did all the stupid things that were cluttering up our to-do lists and making us miserable every day for months while we were avoiding them.

So the moral of the story is that we would be happier people if we did the things we were supposed to do – but would we appreciate our vacations as much? Or do we need the contrast of misery to really enjoy them?

The latter doesn’t seem like a good moral, so we’ll say it’s the former. Do I believe this with any conviction? Meh, yeah, sure.

Ta-ta, time to continue vacationing!

Solitude.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

 

There is an art to solitude and quiet.

It’s easy to fill up whatever free time I have with little nothings that feel like somethings. But the sum of zeroes is zero, and when all is said and done I have shortchanged myself by doing many nothings than by doing no things.

I’m trying to get better at this. I have a feeling my productive time will be more productive if my quiet time is quieter.

But, even if it’s not, I will have improved my life and my self by merely inching toward the mastery of occasional solitude.

The Vast Unknown.

ocean

 

When life seems uncertain, I ball up my fists and shut my eyes tight against it.

When life seems uncertain, I dig in my heels.

When life seems uncertain, I hide under the covers.

Don’t worry. I’ll get it one day. And that will be the day I can say “Life is always uncertain” and still keep a smile on my face.

Thoughts on Novel Writing, in No Order Whatsoever.

The writer’s brain is a diseased brain.

I am convinced that to be a writer is to have a kind of disorder that demands you to write words but then turns off the “writing words” function.

Haha funny joke, brain.

Things that help me write that are not my brain:

1. Being incredibly busy with other things, such that I have no time to write.

2. Being incredibly busy with boring things, such that anything else sounds better.

3. Being told that I will never be a published writer. I find discouragement inspiring, whereas hip-hip-hooray encouragements frequently depress me and cause me to lose all motivation. This may not be good.

4. Late, late, late nights, when I should be sleeping.

5. Sadness.

In conclusion, this whole writing thing is very perverse and probably not good for my mental health.

 

Laws of Nature.

Occasionally I come upon words I wrote in years past (usually while bludgeoning my way through writer’s block) and they still ring true within me. Probably because people don’t change very much, really. This still rings. Its sounds rather depressive, but it’s just thoughts. Thoughts are roller coasters that plunge and soar and everything in between, all in a moment’s time. Writing them down just makes them seem more serious because then they’re words on a page, black and white, taking up space – no longer tucked away inside tidy, well-groomed heads. (Or maybe not well-groomed, if you’re me and it’s an in-between day when I don’t wash my hair.)

 

I find myself at odds with those things that cannot be escaped: this spinning world, some kind of falling fruit prove the grave truth that I am, as I have always suspected, earth-bound.

And not a sky full of suns can hold my upward gaze as long as there is down to fall – as long, that is, as time.

If only I can find something just to keep my head up, well then perhaps I’ll fly, though I am but dragging arms and legs, heavy skin, bones, blood and sinking heart.

 

My Treasures.

ImageI’ve been collecting treasures for several years. I’m not referring to physical treasures. (Though I do that too. I call it “collecting.” Some other people call it “shopping.” And my husband calls it “WHY DO WE NEED MORE BOWLS??” because I really like bowls.)

The treasures I’m talking about are the small comforts that bring me peace and inspiration in both my daily life and in those times I’m seek something “other” – something beyond my normal.

In my early 20s, I was too chaotic to notice what brought me peace. I was a whirlwind of naiveté and narcissism – I thought nothing and everything was about me, all at the same time. I loved and hated myself and others, ever not knowing how I really felt or thought. I was distracted by how much I thought I knew to really learn the things I needed to know. And my eyes were too full of stars and tears (many of my own making) to see anything, even what was right in front of me or inside of me.

I am slow to learn these things. So beautifully, painfully slow. And when I finally learn something, I learn it good. The things in me are rooted deep – both the good and the bad.

Over the past several years I have spent time tending to those roots. Weeding out the bad so the good can flourish. Sometimes they are so intertwined, the good and the bad, so entangled that it seems they cannot live without each other. But that’s all part of it. Replacing the bad with good so the good can become even better, freed from the chokehold of rot and death. It takes a lifetime and more.

I am at my weakest when I am “overwhelmed” and I am easily overwhelmed. That is when everything bad inside me becomes stronger and takes over. But I have learned that there are things I can do to help myself when I feel that way, things that will ease the internal pressure. Even in this, though, there is a struggle for good. There are wise things and unwise things I can do to relieve this pressure. The unwise things starve and malnourish the parts of me I most want to grow, while easing the pain of the “bad” enough that I feel the shifty goodness of pleasure for a few hours at a time.

It is exhausting, my friends. Pain with shocking jolts of pleasure. There is no steadiness, no peace in that.

The wise things are slow and strong. They are not so much pleasurable as they are just plain pleasant once my mind is calm enough to accept them.

1. Beauty. Nothing – absolutely nothing – is as calming to me as being near the ocean.

2. Giving. Thinking about someone that is not myself brings me perspective.

3. Creating. This can be a thinking outward or an expression of what is inside.

4. Walking. When I’m overwhelmed, my mind is immobilized. Moving my body can help me shake my thoughts free.

5. Talking. Verbalizing what I’m feeling takes away the secret power of my thoughts.

6. Quiet. The most difficult of all. Sitting with my own thoughts and overcoming them with stillness. It is a kind of mastery. This is usually my last resort but should be my first.

These are my treasures. I still don’t understand them as well as I should, and maybe there are even more to be discovered. But this is what I have now and what I will cherish with all my heart.