Tuesday, December 06, 2016

26 + 5

Happy Birthday Amanda Marie.

Monday, December 05, 2016


Since arriving back to New York from my amazing Thanksgiving home, I've mainly been in contact with my aunt who keeps bugging me about Christmas plans. I am not going to lie.... I am desperately trying to get out of spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day ( i don't mind one or the other) with my aunt because it's really just her way of getting me to cook breakfast, entertain my now pre-teen cousin,  help clean her house and now drive her all over the place. It's not that I don't enjoy spending time with my family but lately the holidays with them seem less important. My cousin Michelle is more concerned with her cell phone and my aunt just wants an extra adult around to help out.

If I can be honest there was something magical about waking up in my own bed the first Christmas in my apartment and since then I've anxiously wanted to spend at least Christmas Eve or Day in my own home. I was soooo poor that first year and my apartment was not even furnished yet alone decorated but I made due. I cooked lasagna and opened presents, I listened to Christmas music and watched all the Harry Potter movies. It was great and if I had a bigger place I could see myself hosting Christmas for family and friends because I've suddenly become a domestic goddess.

But it's hard to explain that to people. I have yet to meet anyone who understands my desire to be alone on Christmas. It's not necessarily the Christmas blues, but there is a stillness about the month of December that I like to take a moment and pause in. But i'm rarely allowed to do this because being alone during the holidays is socially unacceptable. Kat was absolutely suffocating during the holidays and my Aunt is more demanding of my time and resource during this month.

Since Marie died I've accepted that December is going to be tough for me. Because of this I try and compensate for how shitty I feel by making the holidays as cozy and light-hearted as possible.  I decorate and bake cookies and watched campy holiday movies. That's mainly even why I like spending Christmas alone. When I am surrounded by people, it's like I remember suddenly that one very important person is missing and it's hard to reconcile the beauty and magic of the holidays with the devastating realization.

During the month of December my thoughts of Marie are always front and center most days, especially today. Marie's birthday is tomorrow and as I was sitting at my cubicle, I suddenly felt this awful pang of sadness. It's like there is this cloud over my head which makes it impossible to think of anything else except her.

I am surrounded by people with regrets. People who feel they've missed out on something . Just the other day Heather texted me in hysterics because she is turning 30 in a few days and regrets how her life turned out. "How is this my life? I think my would be completely different if...", yadda yadda yadda. I listened of course, I empathized, I tried to give advice and after she calmed down a bit I retreated to that place in the clouds that hangs over my head.

I am a person who accepts the decisions I eventually make. Sure it takes me a long time to get to that place of acceptance but I rarely think about what "could have been's" when it comes to relationships or situations. Sure life could have been different if I went to Med School, it also could have been different if i stayed in South Carolina instead of moving to New York, it could have been different if I pursued a career in publishing that I so adamantly thought I wanted, it could have been different if Sean choose me.

But dwelling on "could have's" does not help with "what is", so I don't have obsessive thoughts about the sliding doors of scenarios. I believe things are they way they are for a reason and because time travel is not an option, I have accepted my life at 30 as something in progress. But I must admit there is only one fixed point in this thought process that does not apply: Marie.

I wonder all the time what life would be like if she was alive. I wonder who she would be today is she decided to just live and exist. I wonder what her life would be like on the other side of this tragedy. What version of womanhood she'd encompass. Maybe she'd be married with kids. Maybe she'd finally have a house in the woods with the lumberjack of her dreams. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

Selfishly I can't help but ponder my own existence as well if she was here. I am almost certain we would still be friends in some capacity. But I am so aware of how much I have changed since she died, that I feel envious of whatever imagined life I could have led if she had lived. Maybe, maybe, I would have turned out differently. I wonder what I could have accomplished in the two years I was paralyzed by grief. I am curious where the path would have led me had I not broken down right in the middle.

Because if I can be honest Marie's death has changed me. I am kind, I am gentle but there is a stiffness to me now, or better yet, a numbness that I have yet to shake.I  am  unable to relate to people. I cannot commit to one thing or person because I know how quickly things can change. I am too aware of how that the rug can be pulled from under you...so I am always prepared for the worst before I even consider the consistency of calm. I am sad and sullen and jaded by the loss. Of course sad and sullen and jaded do not define me, but I recognize it is a part of me.

And I regret that she isn't here. I miss her immensely, but mainly i am filled with regret. I didn't get to her in time and I knew, I knew that something was wrong because I felt it. But I waited too long to see the signs, and by the time realized that something was seriously fucked up, I was just too late. And I wonder all the time, if things would have turned out differently had I been a better friend. If she had known that I was in her corner no matter how terrible things were going in her life. I regret that she felt so alone and that she'll never know that I looked for her and sought her out and tried to find her but she was always just one step ahead and out of reach.

Tomorrow is her 31st birthday.  Tomorrow i'll get up and go through my day and try to keep it together because focusing on the "maybe" will undue me. But tonight, I'm okay with sulking and contemplating the maybes. Tonight, i feel okay mourning her "what if's" because my best friend was phenomenal and complex and just the worst-best person I've ever known and I wish she was here. Everything feels a little duller without her.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Be Gentle December


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Go back and Get It

I arrived in New York yesterday after a pretty amazing (and exhausting) trip home. 

I tend to feel more rejuvenated after Thanksgiving. There is something about being around my very small but energetic family that replaces the dread and doom feeling that usually persists the weeks leading up to the holiday. And while 2016 has been fucking terrible in some very extreme ways, I tend to always feel overwhelmed and melancholy before Thanksgiving. This year was no different.

There is an old African word Sanfoka which refers to this image of a strong bird with a long neck that it uses to reach an egg that is resting on it's backside. The term Sanfoka translates "to It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten". I saw the image of this proverb on a gravestone last spring while I was home for a wedding that never happened.

Charleston, much like New Orleans, is surrounded by graveyards and on one stone was the image of a bird with it's head turned around reaching for an egg. I was sort of transfixed by the bird and meaning behind it so much so that I want to eventually get a tattoo of it because I relate so much to the meaning. I often worry that I am too much of a malleable person. I change so quickly based on the situation that I understand that I come across hard to understand. So going home for me has always been this time where I can reflect on where I come from and retain some of the things I feel I've lost during my constant adaptations. I am humbled by my time home, it's like base for me: a place where I can rest and regroup and maybe sip some water before I head back out into the world.

And that is pretty much what I did for a whole week. My mom made my old bedroom up and I read books I haven't touched from college, scribbled down some story ideas, slept a lot and reflected on the girl who used to call that place her primary home because she wasn't sure how or if she could build a life outside of what she knew. It, along with hanging out with my nephew, drinking with my brother and bonding even more with my mom, was superb and rejuvenating. I was almost giddy with the thoughts of coming back because I want to continue being this boss ass adult that i've suddenly become. Life is so strange. 

Of course I am a person who constantly thinks about what's next. I am such a planner that it bugs me not to have goals to work towards. So while I was home I set goals. I want to volunteer, I want to write a novel, I want to travel, I want to meet someone and I think I want to own a home. The last one is the hardest but also on the top of my list of achievable feats. I love my town and I think I want to call it home. I know it seems impossible to be a single person trying to become a home owner...but why not. I mean obviously this isn't going to happen overnight but 2-3 years it could be a real possibility if I continue playing my cards right. 

Though I am not in the market at the moment, it hasn't stopped me from stalking a few places since my return. The gem in the photo is an actual house, in my actual town that is decently priced. I adore it or the idea of home ownership and I don't see why I can't continue making great things happen in my life. Sure the novel writing and meeting someone would be perks but if I could do this on my own, I would feel one step closer to....good. 

The future is sort of ambiguous right now. I am still anxious and nervous and often full of blues. But when I was home I realized how far I've actually come since leaving 8 years ago. I've surprised myself and am shocked by my tenacity. And because i'm not sure what's next in the universes master-plan for me I can start working on the small things. I can continue setting goals for the life that I want to live and lead and share with the world. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Holiday Season

I guess i've started a mini tradition in my apartment. Before heading home for Thanksgiving I always decorated for Christmas. It's much easier to enjoy the week with my family and then come back a Christmas wonderland. December is a hard month for me, so I compensate by trying to make it as magical as possible. Decorating is the first step in this master plan. I spent all morning putting up the tree and swapping at all my fall decor for winter ones. I still have a crap-load of cleaning and packing to do, followed by some mindless errands to prepare for my week away but i'm excited to head home tomorrow. I could use the family time as a distraction from the impending pressure of December blues. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Jumanji was his name.

Last night I grabbed dinner with Christina (momma to be) and another girl named Elise  (who worked with us at Le Sad Store) and I must say the girls night was much needed and appreciated reprieve from the last week of shell-shocked-ness.

Before the election my friend Christina invited me to her baby shower. I knew going was going to be impossible because of her closeness to Kat, who was also invited,  but I still wanted to show my support and congratulate her on this huge event in her life. Heather suggested that I invite her to dinner as a way of showing my support because going to the baby shower would be a huge mistake.

At this point in time, I don't believe me and Kat can attend the same outing and not "have it out".
I ghosted her (so to speak) and after 6 years of friendship she probably deserved better than that. But I didn't see any other way out of my backed corner, so I did what I always do when the pressure gets too much...I disappear. I recognize now that I could have ended our friendship more diplomatically but I was reminded of my drag out 'break up" with Sean. I was reminded of my own inability to let go of things easily: I cling and struggle with the edge until the tips are my fingers pulsate in pain.

So even though we have gone months in radio silences, I can't imagine she would be apt at seeing my face at Christina's baby shower and I wouldn't want things to get super awkward in front of our mutual friends who have no idea of the discord between us. So I decided to decline the baby shower invite but last week asked Christina (and Elise) if they wanted to grab dinner after work one night to catch up on things.

Last night was that night and the 3 of us meet at this small Peruvian restaurant  near my job to catch up and talk shit. Despite my closeness to both girls, I was nervous as crap about the dinner. The three of us have gone out to eat numerous times and each time has been exceptional. We are a trifecta of diversity and I often joke that I love meeting up with them the most because we can talk about race and politics and sex unfiltered. But I was worried nonetheless that too much time had passed between the last time we saw each other and that the dinner itself would be awkward.

Of course that was not the case. For starters Christina is having a freaking baby. She is nervous and excited and anxious. She let us touch her belly and joked that she's taken to calling the baby "jumanji" because she recently cried during the movie as her hormones are out of whack. Elise  (who is fabulous and smart and going to take over the world one day) recently got promoted at her job and is finishing up her bachelor's degree. She recently went through a shitty breakup and of course we listened intently as she replayed the dramatic story and her ex's awful ways. I of course, stuck to the basics. I talked about work and my desire to head back to school for a degree in interior design (that of course will be paid if I can land a job at the university again). I talked about my car and going home for the holidays but mainly my excitement over seeing them.

We of course talked politics and expressed absolute horror over the election and the next four years. We all voted but admitted that we didn't really know much about politics or how our country is governed. During the last 8 years we've sort of lived in a bubble of hope and optimism. We all didn't think we'd ever get the complete and utter opposite of Obama. Elise is trying to organize things on her college campus to encourage (more) people to get involved in their local and state government. We talked about the fact that only 51% of registered voters voted in this years election. 51% percent. She brought this up as I was lamenting at the fact that people voted for Biff. She reminded me that only 26% of our nation voted for him willingly. 26% voted for Clinton (who also ended up winning the popular vote) and 46% didn't vote at all. .

"You can't worry so much about converting the 26%. It's about reaching out to the people who voted for a third party, people who wrote in Harambe as a candidate and most of all the 46% who were unhappy with both options. Those people are more reachable and valuable at this time".

And holy effing shit! She's right isn't she. It was like a light switch went off in my head, especially since I've been mulling over how to empathize with individuals who voted for him because in my mind even if "you" voted for him because you think he will bring jobs back to America while also fighting terrorism....you are guilty of ignoring the other 95% of his racist, sexist rhetoric and it's unacceptable to me. un-fucking-acceptable. So, idk, there is some relief in accepting that I can extend my hand of solidarity to those 26% but I am most unified with the bigger majority of individuals who rejected his non-sense even if they didn't do anything to shut it down.

We ended the night on a promise to hang out together before "jumaji" is born. We hugged and assured each other that while we were "fucked" we are determined to play our parts to make things better. I offered, of course, to drive Christina home because well she's pregnant and I didn't mind dropping her off. On the way to her house she asked me what happened with Kat.She didn't want to bring it up in front of Elise but was curious because Kat told her she wasn't sure why I stopped talking to her.

I told myself before the dinner that I would not talk about the drama between Kat if it came up in conversation but Christina is sort of the most neutral person I know. She gives advice based on the situation: never taking side and I sort of respected that she waited until it was just the two of us to ask me. So I told her the truth without demeaning Kat. I told her I felt smothered and that our friendship did not have any boundaries. I told her that when I tried to establish boundaries Kat took it as a form of rejection and became super possessive. I told her that Kat wanted more from me than I could or was willing to offer. At the end of the day, I choose myself over our a friend who wanted me to only consider her needs and happiness before my own. 

I didn't expect to say all of this but she's the only mutual friend I've talked and I guess I still question whether ending our friendship was the right thing to do. Because honestly Kat made it seem like it would be a disastrous decision because I'd miss out on the awesomeness that is having a best friend  So needless to say I was taken aback when Christina said "Fuck her man and her super crazy ass" followed by "I mean, I love her but seriously that's on some single white female level shit. You have to do what's best for you and only you. I love you and as long as you are happy I'm with you all the way".

She's going to be an awesome mom. Just amazing.

The dinner was my last big social outing before I head home in a few days.The awful feeling of despair still persists but I feel invigorated to do good things and be a good person while enjoying my comfy chair in-between. I am still anxious and nervous about the future, i still think we have taken giant leaps back in the wrong direction but if somehow I can turn these fears and pain into something productive maybe that is the good that can come out of it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Moments of Clarity

A week from now I will be on a plane to South Carolina for Thanksgiving break. Of course my boss was not happy when I asked him for 3 days off to accommodate the holiday. I think he may have literally sighed and sat back in his seat while mentally questioning why I would need to take any days off to see my family. It's not that my boss hates me (because he doesn't) but I think he hates to admit that I contribute a lot more to this company than he bargained for. Of course after a few minutes of deep sighing he said I could go home for the holidays but that I couldn't request anymore personal days which I am still going to do because I'm an adult.

I need this trip home more than ever. I have never been in a physical fight before but I imagine this feeling of defeat and shame must be what losing one feels like. I feel battered and ashamed. When I was in the 2nd grade, I got into a horrible accident that banged me up pretty well. I made the mistake of trying to roller blade down a super steep and bumpy hill. I tripped all sorts of awkwardly and slide down the hill face first.

The left side of my face looked like charred meat for half the summer. I don't remember the pain from the accident, I don't remember crying but I do remember the days I had to stay home while my mom tended to my face. She'd hold me in her lap while she applied cocoa butter to my skin re-assuring me that I would be okay and that this wasn't the end of the world.  I felt embarrassed by the accident and more embarrassed by my battered ugly skin. I could still go outside and play with my friends but I didn't want anyone to see me because I was most ashamed about falling and tripping and face sliding. I felt like an idiot and didn't want to interact with anyone until I was whole again. I did not like feeling battered.

I guess right now I feel battered more than anything else. I am not in pain but instead am bruised in  areas I didn't know could ache. I am not a person who does well with change at all, and I can't help but feel that this imminent change is a negative one. And I am not blaming this fear on my liberalism, I am not a butt hurt left winged person who didn't get her way. I am just in shock and disbelief that my values do not match up with millions of others, and because those values seem so black and white to me (don't be a racists, sexist, asshole)  I am pained by the ugliness and cruelty this past week.

I knew it existed but didn't know how deep the division was. I feel sorry for their rage and hatred but I don't know what I can do to change the narrative. I read a comment yesterday that sort of hit me over the head with clarity. We have a tendency of generalizing people based on who they voted for. They are clumped into this group of deplorable s that make up such a small minority of the millions who voted. But maybe if we understood why those individuals gravitated towards such a negative campaign we could begin to move forward. Because honestly it's those minds we have to broaden. It's those minds and attitudes we have to tap into: the individuals who are resistant to how much has changed so quickly in our country

What I've realized is that I can re-blog as many posts about unity and peace and togetherness as I want. I can keep writing journal entries about my fears and concerns and freak-outed-ness.I can still plan to stand with all the vulnerable communities out there nervous about acts of violence and cruelty towards them or fearful that their rights and ability to thrive in America will be suppressed.  I will continue doing all of those things but if my core message only reaches the audience of like minded individuals I have in my life the message will fall on empathetic ears but not the ears that need to hear and listen the most.

I think that's where I am at right now. I am sort of paralyzed with the realization that while I obviously empathize with everyone I want to and will help, I also understand that outreach is just that...reaching out and I can't really just do that with only like-minded folks who think and live like I do. They aren't the ones who need "convincing" which isn't really the best word but you know what I mean Of course this isn't going to be able to tackle especially as I continue to read countless stories where people are losing their goddamn minds and inciting fear towards the very groups that are fearful right now.

I have a lot to think about and research while I am home. My anxiety is in maximum overdrive these days and if I don't channel it correctly I'm afraid it will have too much of a negative effect on my psyche. I honestly think a week home will do me some good (it usually does). I I am excited about this, maybe the only thing I've actually been excited for in 7 days. I will get to see my nephew and cook dinner with my mom and play video games with my brother. I will be able to let the reality sink in and devise a game plan that will make me feel more productive and a part of something positive.