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.

Projecting.

Hello Internet Land!

For the last 100 years, I have been trying to get my act together enough to send out holiday cards. Maybe you think I mean Christmas cards, but I don’t. I mean Halloween cards. You know,  the best holiday of life.

What does sending out Halloween cards entail? One would think “not much.” Easy. But no, because of the part where it involves planning and then doing stuff. Basic life skills.

NOT MY CUP OF TEA.

(Mmm, tea.)

(Tea is definitely my cup of tea.)

I tend to avoid doing things because of indecision and a strange, immobilizing perfectionism. I don’t know what I want to do forever until I die (that’s a really hard thing to know, guys), so here’s a brilliant plan: I just won’t do anything!

Sometimes I look around and I see all these people who are apparently “happy” and “doing things they love” and I’m like, how in the f*@% did you do that?! And it seems really complicated and hard and unattainable.

But then I think maybe it’s because they just made the Halloween cards they’d always thought about making. And after that, they did another cool thing. And they kept doing cool things until they found the thing they love the most. The thing they couldn’t stop doing.

Maybe?

The Extent of My Professional Development: This Business Card Case.

My best friend Kate Spade has created this little business card holder JUST FOR ME, can you believe it? You can’t? I don’t even…fine. Anyway, I just finally got business cards at work after everyone learned my name a year and a half later, so to celebrate this exceedingly minor professional development I bought this little treasure for myself. Because of course.

Is that an invitation, Kate? Because I'm totally available, like tomorrow and then all the other days too.

Do you really mean it, Kate? Because I’m totally available, like tomorrow and then all the other days too.

Life & The McGriddle.

Some days I wake up, brush the dog hair out of my face (daily occurrence), and think to myself: why did I buy a pug in the first place?

…Ok. I do wonder that sometimes, but that’s not actually where I was going with this.

What I really wonder sometimes is why I don’t have a sausage & cheese McGriddle delivered to my bedside every morning. On a little fancy pillow or something, you know?

Ok, that wasn’t it either. And I know the answer to that already. The answer is: no one will sign up for this job. I have to go get the freaking thing myself every day.

It’s hard work. I need an intern.

Ok, the actual question is: what am I really, like really, doing, really? LIKE REALLY?

Doing something you don’t care about day in/day out is a pretty standard way of life for a lot of us. But, damn. I’d rather never eat a sausage & cheese McGriddle again than spend a hefty portion of each week on stuff I don’t care about.

Yet that is my life. And, if we’re being honest, it’s the life I’ve – in some way or another – chosen. Also, in reality, I don’t get to have the sausage & cheese McGriddle EITHER, so really…?

It’s like Creed said, “If I can’t scuba, then what’s this all been about?” It’s just like that. Except substitute the McGriddle (or fulfillment – your pick) for scuba. And there you have it.

Maybe I don’t quit my job because, well, a million reasons (and just quitting to run away from something something rather than quitting because I’m moving on to something better is stupid), but the time I’m not at work should be filled to bursting with all the good stuff – the stuff that gets my blood pumping and my creativity flowing.

Like drawing pictures of the McGriddle pancake-syrup hybrid food. Seriously, that is some frankenfood if I ever tasted it. (Not that I’ve tasted it. But you know what I’m saying. If.)

Summer Summer.

Bougainvillea

Seasons were made for fickle people like me. I love all the seasons. I really do. But right smack dab in the middle of a beautiful, perfect, sunny summer, I’m like, ‘You know what’s great? FALL. FALL IS THE BEST. And RAIN. LOTS OF GLOOMY RAIN.’

And then I convince myself I could live in that one season forever. Forever and ever and ever. But I get just as excited about winter, spring, and summer when their turns come. I just like change. (Well, change in the seasons. Not, like, change in life. No. That sh*t is rough.)

I love falling in love with new color palettes, wardrobe changes, holiday decor, all of it.

But you know what? Today is a Perfect Summer Day, and for the moment I’ve forgotten all about my fickle autumn daydreams.

How to Lose at Life: My Autobiography.

Today I lost my car in a parking garage.

Usually when that happens (because, let’s be real, this is obviously not the first time), it’s because I, with my usual scintillating brilliance, forget to notate where exactly in the giant mass of cars I have parked my one particular car.

Probably because I am usually checking Instagram while walking away from my car and can not be bothered to look up because PICTURES AND STUFF!

But today? I notated. In fact, not only did I notate, but a witness ALSO notated.

3B. I was parked in 3B. I knew I was parked in 3B, but where was my car? It was nowhere, that’s where it was.

I wandered around the magical black hole of 3B in my (obviously ridiculous and uncomfortable) heels muttering sadly to myself and watching while about half a dozen other people did the same thing. Except that they all had little alarmy locatey thingys for their cars and all I had was Instagram. Which, to be honest, was not really doing it for me at that moment.

Finally, I gave up in despair and dragged my be-heeled feet down the stairs to the valet below, where I sat pitifully until someone noticed me. Then I told this person that I had “lost my car” which, apparently, is a thing. Because immediately he gave me the number for security.

I called the number and moments later a security VAN appeared (whatever happened to golf carts?). I hopped in and the little security lady drove me immediately to my car. Which was parked in 3B.

When I called to tell my husband about this incident, he did not think it was OMGFUNNY but he did think it was OMGDUMB. In fact, his exact words were, “I don’t understand.”

What’s not to understand? I inexplicably lost my car even though I knew exactly where it was. DUH VERY SIMPLE.

 

Here’s How It Goes.

The other day I was walking my dog because I am a responsible dog owner. (I am a responsible dog owner, I am a responsible dog owner, I am a responsible dog owner <— what I chant to myself when I would rather sit on the couch and read some person’s blog about what they wear every day.) (I do that sometimes.) (Don’t judge.)

Anyway. I was walking the dog and he was panting like we were climbing Mt. Everest because he is a pug and his anatomy is a mess. I may have been panting too, but we’re just going to leave that alone for now.

I looked up to see an older couple with an adorable dog coming toward us. So, of course, I’m already having a panic attack because probably they will look at us and then eye contact will occur and then words and talking and stuff.

So I stared at the asphalt as I do. But then, because I was thinking so hard about not talking to them, I looked up and initiated an awkward social interaction. Kind of like that thing where you’re on the edge of a cliff and you have the sudden urge to jump. Except you’re not supposed to actually jump. 

“Your dog is adorable,” I said. Which was fine. Very normal. Well done. “He looks like, uh, that dog from the cartoons.”

“Oh? Which one of the thousands of cartoon dogs would that be?” The woman did not say. But thought it, obviously.

“You know, the, uh, sheep dog.” I barreled on, like a train headed into a brick wall at full speed. (In retrospect, the dog looked nothing like a sheep dog. But I couldn’t stop.)

And because I was now committed to this theme and wanted to really hammer out all the details, I said “People always point at my dog and say ‘hey, it’s the dog from Men in Black.'”

<forced laughter>

“What’s his name?” The woman said.

“Oh, I don’t remember.”

<confused/concerned stares>

“Oh, you mean my dog’s nameHaha, I thought we were…talking about the dog from…Men in Black…his name is Piper.” 

<awkwardness>

“But I think the dog in the movie was called Frank.” I said, to nobody who cared.

And then that was it. We turned our separate ways and walked hurriedly out of each other’s lives.

It hurts to recall this memory, but honesty in blogging is important and I am a Woman of Principle.