Thursday, December 31, 2009

Just for being there

I just wrote this in an email to our Ms Moon--

"Thanks for just being there. As the sun sets on 2009, know that you have been a great joy to me in this year, even from afar. Thinking of you."

And it occured me that these were words I could send out to all my (few) bloggers who have been reading about my journey, and have offered me words of encouragement, support, and wisdom along the way.

This blog has been an unexpected safe haven for me throughout this exceptionally difficult year. And, has provided a well of support through the changes it has brought.

So thanks to you all. And know that each of you have been a great joy to me, in your own special ways. Be safe tonight, and I am thinking of you all as I sit here on my first night in my new apartment, finally on my own after several weeks of transition. I'm arranging my bookshelves, washing my clothes, and enjoying preparing for my new start.

My dad told me tonight--you're ringing in the new year by living it.

I hope so.

I do.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

I just wish I could sit down to write about it. I wish my mind would stop racing with the next person I need to hug, the next errand I have to run, the next box I have to pack.

I have been home for Christmas for a few days now, and the moving van comes on Tuesday to take everything to DC. My parents are helping, and they'll be with me til Friday morning. Then I'll have the weekend to adjust in my new home, my new life, on my own.

I wish I could let my head and heart catch up with one another. I wish I could tell you all about it and really let you feel what I'm feeling but I just can't yet.

Soon.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Snow



It's up to my knees so far--and SO not over!

Home

I have a new home. I survived my first week of work. And all is well.

DC is in the process, as I type, of being smacked with our first (and probably last) snowstorm of the season. Almost 2 feet is expected to fall by the time it's all said and done. So I'm anticipating lots of time for thoughtful reflection and a much more thorough wrap-up over the next couple of days :)

For now, I'll leave you a picture of my new place. Description of my new life to follow...

Friday, December 11, 2009

Not feeling so brave...

Right now. Am feeling a little homesick...and a lot overwhelmed. I forgot how hard everything is here--from the parking to the driving to the smallest trip to the drugstore, everything takes more steps, more money and more frustration.

I'm tired. I'm just plain tired from the insomnia that has ravaged me for weeks now, and I didnt sleep for shit last night. I'm staying with a friend that - god bless - gave me her spare room. With a spare bed, located right under drafty windows :) So I was freezing, homesick, and wondering what in the hell I was doing this for.

Things were better this morning. And now my friend is gone for the weekend, leaving me alone in the house which oddly makes things a little bit better so I can get some downtime. I have my blanket and pillow from home, my pajama's on (at 5pm) and I fixed myself a drink. I'll watch a movie, and try to SLEEP tonight.

Tomorrow I go look at apartments...wish me luck!

It will be ok. Right?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

But everything else is the same...

I leave tomorrow. My apartment still seems the same--boxes in the floor, my cat asleep on the pillow. But tomorrow, it's all to change. My dad will come fetch the cat, help me load my car and I'll be off. I have my suitcases packed, my clothes are washed, and Charlie (the cat) has his bags packed too.

I've had a string of people in and out of here today, telling me goodbye. I'm so lucky to have such wonderful people in my life--I'm desperately hopeful they'll remain in it.

I am going to my friend's house to spend the night in a few minutes. We'll watch TV until late, then wake up in the morning and I'll come home to pack up my stuff. And we'll try not to cry until we leave each other.

I was on my old blog earlier today, and I found the entry I wrote when I left DC to come back here to Kentucky. I included a few lines of a song that still seems appropriate...

"The house is empty with the pictures taken off the shelves
The light's still on, but it's waiting for someone else
And the memories gone, like peices taken from myself
Goodbye Baby...
If this is how it has to be."

This is how it has to be. Please, please...let this be worth it.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Backward, Forward, and Everywhere in Between

Six years.

I'm sitting in a coffee shop, around the corner from where I used to "live" with friends for a bit before I found my own apartment here in DC. I rounded that corner today and saw that old house, sitting there in its bricked rowhouse glory--gorgeous. It took my breath away for a minute to see it. That stoop where I spent an incredible amount of time with a cigarette or a beer, shooting the shit with my friend Anna. She lived in the house with two roommates, and even after I stopped sleeping on the couch, I still spent a ton of time there.



It was the only place that felt like home to me here, even though I had two apartments after that. I am here today looking for places to live, and have decided to stick to this area again. I feel the need to reconnect with that part of my past self, and try to find that sense of "alive" I uesd to feel here.

Six years ago I took the red line metro to the building where I'll be working again in 11 days.

It even smells the same.

Am I going two steps forward, or taking three steps back? Sometimes, I honestly have no idea. It's a much higher job title, great new position--but all this symmetry with my younger days is a little weird for me.

I guess it only matters that I feel like I'm at home again, sitting here, and seeing the way the light hits these brick buildings and brick sidewalks and these dozens of people walking fast, fast, fast to get wherever they're going.

Yesterday I walked out of my office for the last time. They gave me a party with some cake and my favorite chocolate cupcakes, a card, and I had to give a song-and-dance "thanks for the memories" speech. My co-worker carried my box down for me, gave me a hug and walked away quickly with a brisk look back in my direction. Another one told my boss yesterday in the middle of one her rants & raves of complaining "And now SJ's leaving and I feel like I'm going to die!"

Well--no one there will die upon my absence, believe me! In a few minutes, a conference call with my old Board will commence and my departure will be announced. They might look at my chair sadly for a moment, and then they'll remember they need more coffee. They'll go home, and then the next day, it will be like I was never there at all. And so it was, and so it will be.

Have these sidewalks here missed me? Will I feel like I'm going home when I go back to the bars here where that wonderfully young 22 year old that was me first fell in love with this city? Or will I come and go again as quickly as I did before?

Six years. A lifetime for me.

So off I go now, forward and backward, all at the same time. And so it was.

And so it will be.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Sunday Sadness

Sunday sadness is pretty common for me. My friend and I both suffer from what we call "Sunday Depression" in which we already miss the weekend, and already are tired of working and it's not quite yet Monday.

Sundays are even harder when you sleep all night next to the one you love, and wake to lock the door behind them at 7am. When you go back to bed and lay on their pillow, and spend the rest of the day on your own.

Luckily my sister came to rescue me and make me go to the grocery store, where I saw practically everyone I know. They all asked "Are you excited about DC? Where are you going to live?" My answers? 'YES!' 'With friends!'

My real answers? "Sort of!" "On a couch...somewhere!"

Truth is, my life is getting ready to enter a real period of uncertainty. My job ends on Wednesday, and it will finally end a three-week "long goodbye" and put us all out of our misery I think. I am distracting my co-workers--they keep popping in my cube with long faces and "This is the last time we'll go get a sandwich" statements. I am distracting my boss, who is being incredibly kind throughout this entire ordeal.

By sitting in that same cubicle day in, day out--I am distracting myself from facing the reality of what's about to happen.

Thank god I have a few friends still in DC that I can stay with. I haven't been in their daily lives for over 4 years now, and I'm a bit nervous about all that I'm about to ask of them. They have been so gracious and hospitable and we'll all get through it just fine. Living with them may be the best thing for me, honestly, since I'm going to have some lonely feelings at the first.

I find myself OD'ing on the people I love. Wanting to see them all the time, and especially spending (too much) time with the one I love--the one I'm trying to leave behind. And I'm glad to leave it behind, but today it's so damn hard.

I am missing people, when they're right in front of me.

And as I pack their pictures in a box.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Here I Go Again

I guess it's just so hard to write about.

My emotions are zig-zagging from excited to sad, and everything seems to take on a heightened sense of importance and meaning. Every time one of the kids raises their arms for me to hold them, or a friend and I meet for drinks at 'our' bar, or I hug someone I love close, I feel that...stomach drop.

You know the feeling--that dip when you experience something that fills you with emotion. You watch the one you love leaving you, you're about to give a speech, or you watch someone you love get married.

Last Saturday, my sister and I took my nephew to the park. He is a whirlwind of a boy, and has more energy than I can imagine even for a two-year-old. He ran from one thing on the playground to another for about a half an hour, and then he just felt like taking a sit-down right there in the grass and looking at the trees for awhile. My sister and I got on either side of him, and we all held hands & looked at the trees together. It was almost-warm & almost-cool and I watched the colored leaves dance in the wind and felt such content.

My sister asked if I was excited to move, and I mentioned that it'll be a big adjustment to be without my family again. To not have the "daily" life with all of them, and to realize that sometimes I'll be alone and not want to be. I wasn't sad, or outwardly saying anything that would show that I was upset. However, my nephew got up unprompted, came over to me and buried himself in my arms.

He laid his eyes on my shoulder and patted my back. I closed my mine.

Stomach: drop.



My three-year-old niece tonight said "I loooooooove Morgan!" (Morgan, her friend at school.) My two-year-old niece pointed at me and said "Me love YOU".

Stomach: drop.



My friend teared up at the bar the other night and grabbed my hand for a second before clearing her throat, moving briskly on other conversation. My granny just said "Why?" with this devastated look on her face today when I said I was moving. My cousin said I'd miss the baby being born.

I feel so guilty. I feel excited, and I feel so incredibly scared. I'll be on my own again--truly on my own--for the first time in so long. On the way home in the car tonight, I saw a shooting star and I whispered "Please, please make this be worth something" as my wish.

This is a good thing--these are exciting things about to happen. But how I'll miss my co-pilots in this adventure.







Here I go again:



Stomach: drop.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tomorrow...

Turned into today. I accepted the job in DC today, so it's back I go, after 4 years here in Kentucky.

Details to follow...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

And I wonder as I wander...

Every day feels like the last day before something happens.

I keep thinking--maybe tomorrow, I'll hear for sure. Maybe tomorrow I will be able to set into motion my plans for the future.

Maybe tomorrow will be the first day of the rest of my life.

I tried to communicate all this crazyness to my doctor on Monday, and I walked out with a prescription for some anxiety meds that will hopefully help. I felt really strange going into the doctor to ask for medicine to help me cope with what is honestly, a GREAT problem to be having. I feel so ungrateful sometimes, as I watch unemployment numbers rise and I sit and fret and brood over which opportunity to take next.

But, it's not about not being grateful for the things that are there. I am constantly thinking of how lucky I am, and continuously grateful that I have opportunities at all. I know how fleeting it all can be, too, which is why I also feel such urgency to take whatever opportunity presents itself in a sure way first.

Which will hopefully be....tomorrow.

I keep looking at pictures tonight, old ones, mostly of when I studied abroad in Denmark. I look at that 21 year old girl, with the short blond hair and silver glasses, and I miss her. God, how I miss that girl who was SO confident of herself that she got on a plane with complete strangers to spend a summer across the ocean. I miss that girl with the chunky silver necklace, baggy gray pants and I always wore that blue jacket. With the hood--it was always raining.

I am thinking of the nights I wrote in my green notebook for hours on the streetcorners of Copenhagen. And how funny it is that 7 years later, I write now to all of you, as I wait for the morning. And wait for the rest of my life, carrying that 21 year old within me, always.

Was that the best I'll ever be?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The 3 Hardest Things About Leaving







Grace and beauty, on a Sunday.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

On a Jet Plane

I'm sitting in Charlotte airport, waiting for my plane to leave for DC this morning. I've been up since 4, and will be up for many more hours before I'm back home tonight on this whirlwind of a day. Still interviewing, still wondering, still waiting.

Closure will come soon, as I believe this is the very last round. I will be glad for that. I come back home tonight, arriving by midnight. With miles to go before I sleep, I'm sitting here trying to make the caffeine start working.

My days seem to be passing with a combination of slow but urgent. I need downtime, I need time to be still -but I can't find it. I can't seem to let my mind and body rest, and I'm feeling a need to cram in as much time as possible with everyone. Everything takes on a feeling of "while I can" urgency and so I wake up earlier and go to bed later so I can try to fit it all in. This especially includes my nieces and nephews!

And lest it seem like I'm complaining, here's a picture of sweetness on Saturday night trick or treat :)



My life is busy and blurred --but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Austin

"And, P.S., if this is Austin...I still love you."

I just returned from five days in Austin, working our annual conference, and I'm still recovering from working about 90 hours in just a few short days (that included a 6am Saturday morning flight!). This was a difficult trip for me, as my current opportunities began to intersect with my job, and I found out that a few people know what I'm dealing with right now. My industry is a small, small world, and it was a delicate balancing act that I had to perform this weekend. Dancing around industry politics, keeping certain things quiet (and my co-workers shielded from potential news of my departure) was ....challenging, to say the least.

I got home late last night and crashed into bed, and work came all too early this morning.

So I'm walking around with tired eyes and a little bit distant with everyone I think. I feel like I've missed a hundred news stories, a dozen blog entries, and am still catching up with email. After all this traveling, conference food and stress, I think I've gained back a few of those lost pounds. I'm going to try to run in the morning, since I (blessedly) took the day off.

So that's it, for my world. That quote up there is from a country song, an older one, and it's been running through my head for a few days.

Mostly because I think I am falling out of love.

I had a rougher day with it today, being back in my familiar environment, but part of me just doesn't care anymore. All this distance between us (this, and all the other travels of late) is showing me that time and distance really IS going to make this go away. I will not feel like this forever, although it seems impossible now. Falling out of love, with a tiny new crush, and it feels so sweet. Frightening and unbelievable...but GOOD.

My traveling is almost over (one more trip next week), and my decision needs to be made. I will soon begin putting things in boxes, and thinking about what's next. I made a doctor's appointment --for me, that is HUGE-- to perhaps get on an anxiety medicine. The stress of making all these decisions, having a constant struggle in my head and knowing that my life is going to change very soon, but I don't know where, how, or when--this is difficult for me and the stress is starting to show. Probably not to others, but I can tell.

Our weeks at conference are always stressful, with the constant fires to put out and the togetherness that makes us all lash out. But, I noticed that when I was dealing with added stressors on top of my already-in-place stressors, I felt like I was perpetually dangling on the verge of a panic attack if ONE MORE thing had happened. I would step back from the situation, re-group, grab my coping mechanism of choice at the time, whether that was a friend or a glass of wine.

I am able to calm myself. My sister is not able to do this, and tells me this is a critical thing in determining my "not-craziness" ;) But, each time I have to do that, it makes me just a little bit more anxious that next time, I may not. So, I'm going to do something about it.

And I will do my best to get back into my routines, and maybe I'll run an extra mile tomorrow.

Why not?

I feel like I run ten extra miles every day, just to stay in the race.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Fall Came Quickly



I think, five minutes ago, I was hot outside. Just one month ago, I lifted my niece up during her second birthday party and she laid her head on my shoulder and I buried a hand into her sweaty curls at the nape of her neck. It lasted about thirty seconds, but I closed my eyes to save it forever.

Then Saturday, I found myself in Portland, Maine, buying not one, but TWO winter coats. Back in Kentucky, I pulled on gloves this morning as I trudged out to my car to scrape the back windshield. Later this afternoon, I did my run with my jacket on.

This is not to say I am sad about the fall--it is my favorite season, hands down. Cool air makes me feel alive, the leaves with the color reminds me that everything changes. It reminds me that I can change, and that new beginnings are possible and that even when it's over, fall will come back around again.

It's very much my way to picture the end before the beginning, and knowing that seasons always come back around makes the start of each one comforting to me on a very deep level.

I am in the midst of major decisions. I have job offers, the beginnings of offers, the "discussions" that could lead to my life taking different and new directions. This weekend I walked down this street of Portland:



I was with my family. My uncle (Dad's brother), his wife, his two sons (my cousins) and their two wives and one new baby. My cousins have watched over me from the very beginning and have been big brothers in every sense of the word except for being physically with me throughout much of my life. They have lived in several places throughout New England, and while it wasn't THAT far--it might as well have been the end of the earth from our old Kentucky home.

After my parents divorced, we never went back to visit. My cousins' parents divorced also, and our lives began to take wildly different paths. Somehow, we managed to stay connected, and I sat at a table in the basement of a dusty bar on Saturday afternoon with 8 people who shared my last name. We had the same bright blue eyes. As someone who has spent much of my life trying to blend in with stepfamilies and absorb myself into a family life that isn't truly my own, this was a relief.

I have a chance to live there. I have the chance to make this life my own, and to strike out and move somewhere entirely different and without a single friend.

But I'll have them. And I'll have him, who won't hesitate to put me on his shoulders again.



Todd and I are grown up now, and as we clutched beers and talked about forever in a bar on Saturday night, I felt a sense of security that I hadn't in awhile. He picked me up at the airport, picked up my bags, and I had a feeling he also wanted to put me back on his shoulders and protect me from the world.

As overwhelming as this entire process is, I am trying to always take a step back and relish in the fact that in so many places across this country, I am loved. I have people willing to open their homes to me, to offer me their money, their friends, their way of life to be mine.

I am a lucky person.

And when the panic that comes with so many life changes coming so soon catches up to me, and I find myself in my car taking deep breathes with a forehead pressed against my steering wheel, I tell myself this over and over.

I put my gloves on, crunch through the leaves and think about how the Fall came quickly, but I will always get up.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Moments

There are moments when I think I'm better.

But then I get a phone call, and I crash to the ground all over again. It was back to the bathroom floor tonight, and back there all over again, after a great weekend. But one small text message and I am up, walking shaky to the bathroom to be sick over a love that can't ever, ever be mine.

I am making such good strides in my life. I am moving--no idea where, at this point, but I will whenever I make my mind up to accept one of these offers. (A quick update on that is that I am going through the formal process with both of them, and continuing to feel out each opportunity to decide what is going to be best for me.)

I lost weight. I am building new relationships, investing in the ones I have, and am doing things to make myself better. I am praying (which turns into more like pleading) and I am reading and I am thinking and I am writing. And I am getting better.

But then, I come to the ground and remember that I'm an absolute fool in love with a fool who is in love with someone else. And that someone is not me, and it won't be. The toll this is taking on my self-esteem is probably a little bit disturbing. I will look at myself in the mirror and only see the person who wasn't picked. 'Never loved you, never loved you' becomes a mantra to be repeated at my own reflection and I'm constantly reminding myself what an idiot I am to be having these feelings and to have harbored them for so long. To have, frankly, ALLOWED them to go on for so long by creating proximity and forcing a friendship that I am really going to miss.

I am sitting here with a cold washcloth on my own head, after picking myself up off the floor. I am really, really tired of doing that. I want someone else to take over--to make me a washcloth, to fix me a ginger ale, to remind me that my life may eventually be worth something.

Life doesn't make any sense to me at all sometimes, and I'm getting so tired of falling into this hole again and again.

I wonder sometimes if anyone will ever help me up.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Marriage, and everything else I don't know.

My best friend here got divorced today. When I first met her three years ago, she was so full of life and vibrant and literally exuding passion, and I couldn't imagine how she had ended up in the marriage she was in. Her husband was a nice man (IS a nice man), kind, stable, and loving. But --it was painfully obvious to me that this was a one-sided relationship with one person moving and evolving into a new stage in her life and the other running in place. I melted into their family life and into the lives of her three children, and watched everything crumble before my eyes as I played (and continue to play) the supportive friend role through it all.

This is not the first marriage where, through blurred lines, I became involved in the inner workings. My parents' second marriages were fraught for many years with a tension and palpable sadness that every other week, my family life was difficult in a different way. The fighting and accusations were about us, against us, in front of us and with us. The experience of this has left me a bit frozen in place in regards to relationships - I am extraordinarily bad at them, with trust & commitment issues, and above all there is a sense of foreboding in my mind that comes with marriage.

When all you've known up close and personally were the bad things, it is impossible to know the good exists.

Luckily, as I've gotten older, I've grown much more aware of the fact that marriage IS in fact something that can work. It can grow sweeter with time, it doesn't have to mean the eventual loss of yourself. I've seen friends in relationships where they have blossomed, and met people who have been married for dozens and dozens of years and are still excited to answer the phone when their spouse is calling.

These things give me hope.

But as that terrible country song says, life ain't always beautiful, and I've gotten to see more of the bad things too. My best friend began an affair a couple of years ago, and I'm the only one who knows. This is difficult on me, even "just" as a bystander--being the shoulder to cry on, delving into the frequent depressive and downward-spiral conversations, all with the burden of my own heartache intermixed within was turning out to be too much for me to take.

I didn't realize the emotional toll this was taking on me (given my background) until a few months ago. We were out to dinner and she was talking about it, and was emotional over everything and I sat there clutching my beer bottle and was repeating the same words of support and comfort I'd been speaking for months when something inside me snapped. I was in the middle of saying something and then out of nowhere, I just buried my face in my hands and said "This is all just scaring the hell out of me." Then I started to cry and I'll never forget the look on her face. She grabbed my arm with an urgency and said that no one could ever cheat on me - but how on earth could she know this for sure? She was so surprised at that moment, I think she would have told me she'd give me one of her kids if I would calm down.

Listen -that is SO fundamentally out of character for me that it scared us both, frankly.

But it DOES scare me. It all scares me on so many levels, and paralyzes me into inaction in my own personal life. This is something I know, I acknowledge, and I'm working on.

Her marriage ended today, and the strange thing is, I keep reading stories today about lasting marriage. Ms Moon just welcomed a grandson, and is mentioning many times how much stronger her marriage has become as a result, and how she's seeing the result of their love now carrying on through the generations. I read this story about a woman who, because she was in a same-sex relationship, was denied access to her wife as she passed away in a hospital. She is still fighting the legal battles, and her story provides a testament for marriage of all shapes and forms. And then the extraordinary Maggie May wrote a stunning piece about marriage, shaping words into lyrics as only she can.

I don't know almost anything for sure right now. I don't even know where I'll be living by Christmas. But I know this -love can exist. It may even endure.

And it may - one day - even happen to me.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Where to go? What to do?

Big questions have been posed to me today. All before noon...I got a couple of job offers today, or at least very serious discussions about having me come on board. Both will take me in different locations; which one do I pick? Which lifestyle do I choose to have?

I'll be doing alot of thinking over the next few days.

My life feels like it's coming together, and falling apart at the seams, all at the very same time.

"All these places feel like home."
-Snow Patrol





Sunday, September 20, 2009

Starting again

I just wrote a long post, and lost it -tried to submit, and poof, it was gone. I wrote for a long time about life--just plain, ordinary, messy life and how our connections with each other through all these different mediums is still amazing to me. I wrote about how I was thinking of my friends, scattered near and far, and what a strange month September seems to be for all of them. It's been a little strange for me too...heartache is still riding shotgun with me every day, and it's becoming familiar. And I'm becoming familiar with trying to drive it away.

But for the people in my life, September has been strange in a good way...for others, not so good. From wedding plans for some, to awaiting a divorce finalization for another. I review property and custody agreements for one friend and pick out bridesmaid dresses for another--life shifting from one extreme to another. I think of one awaiting a new grandson, and another awaiting a court date. My friends in blog-land and my friends from all walks of life are changing and rearranging it seems.

My college roommate called to scream "it's a boy!" to me this week; and a new guy in my life lost his brother. Life goes on, and the complexity that is faced when lives leave and lives enter into this world never fails to bring me to my proverbial knees.

I've searched for peace this weekend, and found it in some ways. I laid low and canceled plans, and grabbed some much-needed time for myself. It was a little strange being on my own for so much of it, but I know I needed that time also.

I leave for DC this week and even though I'm working, it will be good to see friends there too.

Sometimes living there seems a hundred years ago--when I go back, and clutch cold beers with those familiar faces in those old familiar places, I feel a little piece of me come back. A piece I never knew was missing.

I feel relieved after a trip there...being reminded that I have a little world tucked away there, between 8th and I St, just over from H and Florida Ave, ready to catch me if I should ever fall is comforting beyond belief.

I am thinking of them tonight--and of all of you--as we await life's adventures together.

Don't blink.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Pieces

Quiet on this Labor Day has been exactly what I needed. I had a whirlwind of a weekend with a bunch of family, visiting some more family and sitting at my grandmother's bedside at the nursing home. This weekend held alot of emotion for me, and I'm still processing through some of my feelings. To unwind today, I flipped on my HBO On Demand and watched a couple of documentaries which were both very thought-provoking.

The first was "Right America" which was Alexandra Pelosi's documentary on the McCain campaign--she traveled around with them to capture the emotions of the heartland on their fierce determination to 'hold on to American values' by voting against Obama. It was as you might expect...a snapshot of southern/midwestern America and the people in it who are scared to death of progress and change. I'm a little too desensitized at this point to really get fightin' mad at some of the outrageous things that were said...I honestly feel as though I've heard them all at this point--Obama's a socialist, a Nazi, a communist, a terrorist...and so on. It didn't reveal much that hadn't been already known, but it did actually make me think on a few levels about the fear these people must feel at this point.

Obama has, no matter what your political leaning, implemented some pretty massive overhauls in a very short amount of time and the speed and depth of some of these programs both passed and awaiting passage are daunting, even for the most loyal follower. I trust him, and obviously do not believe he's out to cause us all great harm. And I am familiar with the fear that comes when a President you do not trust is in the Oval Office--I lived with it for almost 8 years (the first year I was still too young and too naive to understand much).

But watching these people sob for their country as election results rolled in was, dare I say it, a little hard to watch. I think because I do identify with that desperate feeling that the world's going crazy and there's nothing you can do to stop it. These people who genuinely believe this man is out to do us grave harm must be terrified and I felt...sorry for them, a little. Sorry that they won't educate themselves enough to realize the insanity of their accusations, and sorry that these beliefs must be so extreme and short-sighted that they can't relish the good that does remain.

And then, I flipped on "Which Way Home" because well, I must be an idiot. This one made me cry, but it wasn't overly depressing. It followed children (mostly teenage boys) who travel via freight train through Mexico -- primarily boys from Honduras, Guatemala, etc -- and try desperately to get to the US. Watching this band of lost boys toil through hunger, muggings, and the loss of innocence in often-failed attempts to get here was staggering. They spoke of the US as though it were heaven on earth, and it made me wonder who the real patriots are...the flag waving bible-thumpers in the first doc, or these boys.

I think I know the answer to that.

I guess watching heavy documentaries aren't most people's idea of a relaxing day, but it was mine today :) This weekend my dad, stepmother, sister and young nieces traveled to see my aunt and uncle who arrived in from Boston and we all caravaned over to spend the weekend visiting my grandmother in the nursing home. We also managed to cram in a ton of over-indulgent meals, swimming in the hotel pool, hiking and a museum and by last night, I was completely exhausted.

I hadn't seen the Boston branch of the family in about two years, and they had never met my nieces. It was really funny watching them interact with new people--they are always wary of 'strangers' and like to just stand there and stare at new people like this:


(Staring at Uncle Mike, who is trying desperately to make them love him. It somewhat worked.)

They were warming up by the end of the first night and we were all in the hotel pool until late, getting our money's worth I guess ;) I was spinning the youngest around in the pool and "throwing" her toward my aunt and I realized what a funny thing the word "family" can be sometimes. My family life is largely made up of labels instead of blood relations, and many of my "family" members are not technically related to me but are through step-families, by marriage, etc. How fragile it all can be - one stroll down a different path--a marriage that never happened, a move never made, a smile never returned or a second glance never given--could have changed everything. I wouldn't be spinning this particular child and handing her off to this particular woman on this night in September.

Maybe it isn't even worth thinking about--I know (I think) that the path could never have gone another way, we were supposed to all end up in that pool. But, these characters that make up the pieces of my life make it so much richer, and I like to reflect on that and acknowledge it as often as I can--to say grace amid the chaos.

My grandmother isn't doing well. Every time I see her, it's like I miss her even more. At least, I miss who she was. I am grateful that she still recognizes me, knows who I am at the very least, and it's the one thing that keeps me from maybe fully acknowledging how serious it all is right now. I am thinking of her tonight, and willing her to hold on. She drank beer from cans, smoked, and cursed like a sailor while still managing to be classy. She is responsible for me knowing the word "bastard" from a very young age (and repeating it at pre-school).

She gave me her nose, and her blue eyes.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Saving Lives

It's been a bit, oh, maudlin at the blog de SJ this month. So I thank you all for muddling through with me. August always seems to be difficult for me, and I just don't know why. But, as in all things, there was sweetness to be found.

There is a "country" song (I use quotations because its one of those so-called cross-over songs that are played on pop radio too) called "Every Day" by Rascall Flatts. I hate country music anymore, even though old country still gives me shivers when I hear the fiddle and steel. Absolutely nothing beats bluegrass music in making me feel alive and connected to all things and this is just in my Monroe bloodline.

Anyway, this is one of the few country songs that I do actually like, and there is a line in the above song that goes "Sometimes the place I go is so deep and dark and desperate, I don't know how every day you save my life." This song basically is dedicated to the person in your life who "saves" it every day just by being there. This song used to make me think of someone, and it obviously doesn't anymore. It was on the radio this week and upon hearing it, I angrily switched the station and muttered in the car "Every day, I save my own damn life."

Thus inspiring the cheerful post below ;)

There are times I feel so alone, it's hard to breathe. But it always passes because I know it's temporary.

I don't have one person in my life who saves it every day....my god, I am so much luckier than that. I have lots & lots of people who make my life a better one every single day.

Every day, my "good morning" emails & banter with two friends save my life until I log off every afternoon. My co-workers who call from the other side of the office to say they miss me save my life. My side-by-side cubicle buddy who says my boss is awfully lucky to have me saves my life. The pictures on my desk of the kids, the texts that come all day, the lunches out. Going out with friends after work, swimming with my nephew, and as crazy as it sounds, this blog does.

My best friends save my life. My families do.

These things all make me crazy sometimes, too. But ultimately, all these things work in harmony to save my life by reminding me that it is worth something. By giving me reasons to laugh and make jokes and wake up every morning to do it all over again. They remind me that they love me, they know me, things don't function without me.

For some reason, it is so easy for me to forget that. And I think maybe God or the universe knows that I'm not fit to have just one person in my life to save it every day. Instead, I have back-up.

I went on a date this week with a new guy, and I think it went pretty well. He's doing the call every-day thing, which overwhelms me a little bit, as it always does. I told a friend "It seems like every single guy I go to dinner with wants to jump in with both feet right away, and calls me all the time...I really don't know why I attract guys like that." She said - "I think it's got more to do with the person they're sitting across the table from."

Life: saved.

It's 70 degrees and sunny outside, and I am going to a wedding later. I slept til ten today, ate a fried egg sandwich and am on my second cup of tea. I am going to run in a little while along this path...and I'll look up at the sky and remember to give thanks.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A hundred thousand

Sometimes, when you walk around with a broken heart long enough, you start forgetting what it felt like to not have one.

When you ache for something so deeply for such a long time, you succumb and it becomes a part of you, that heartache. Cutting it out starts seeming as scary as cutting off one of your limbs…you don’t know how to function without feeling a certain way.

When you hide a secret pain for long enough, you forget you can ever talk about it. You forget that someone else could know, someone else could help you. But then you dig yourself deeper and deeper into your pain and heartache, and you feel too far in the hole that no one could even hear you yell.

So you don’t yell. You don’t talk about it, you don’t ever, ever mention.

They want to help you, these people that love you. They see it in your eyes. You spin your feelings to others, you slant the truth, you long for scars you can talk about and make do with the ones you have. And in the process, you sometimes create such a different portrait that you’re shocked when someone holds up a mirror to you ...and you realize you don’t recognize what’s looking back at you.

But you knew me so well, you think.

So, you work yourself through the pain. You work your friends through their pains, stay silent, and go on. You get yourself up off the bathroom floor. Put a cold washcloth on your own forehead.

You save your own life.

You pick up what you can salvage and get it ready to give to someone else.

There are a hundred thousand heartaches in this world, and only a few are mine.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Old Souls

My parents say when I was born, I looked around the room for a minute before screaming. They like to recall how big my blue eyes were as I sized each of them up, glanced around the room and just took it in for a moment. Like I wasn't exactly sure how I got here, and I wasn't exactly sure if I liked it. I think my expression was something like this (me, one year later):



This remains exactly how I feel about life =)

I observe, I internalize. Overthink and oversink myself into situations and surroundings, and generally feel as though the weight of the world is on my shoulders even though I am outwardly (and geniunely) a fairly happy and friendly person. It's a contradiction that I am comfortable with, since it's just the way I am, and I'm not sure I would even know anything else.

I've been thinking lately about the phrase "old souls" since people keep saying this about a niece of mine, and comparing her to me. Ah, says my Dad. She's just like Stephanie. This usually happens when my niece makes an observation about something completely out of her (what we percieve to be, anyway) range of 3-year-old comprehension, or becomes moody or broody, or when we notice her listening intently on a conversation that she probably shouldn't. She's an old soul--like me. (me, three years old).



But what does it mean, anyway? It's just an expression, I guess, but expressions don't come from nowhere--something at some point breathed some truth into that statement, and I find myself thinking alot about Buddhism. I may be wrong (and I am way too tired and lazy tonight to google it) but I think that Buddhism draws upon the belief that all people are connected because we've all been here before. And certain souls have walked harder lines than others, and therefore are pre-dispositioned to be more wary, more quiet, more aware of life's badness and sadness. While others are more naive, less "experienced" in thier lifetimes, etc.

And I don't know about any of that. I honestly don't know about anything anymore other than moments I've had where I know God is present with me, and experiences in which the happiest times in my life have been those when I've felt the most spiritually secure. But that's another story.

What I do know is this--there seems to be, in me and the people I love most, a certain take on the world. A way of looking at things that suggests hey -there's more to this. It doesn't matter what brand of shoes I'm wearing...what matters is that I have shoes, and that's a whole hell of alot more than some people have.

I read an article today in the NYT about how international policy is starting with the promotion of women and girls. And let me tell you...the things that are done to women and girls around this world, if you don't keep up with it, would blow your mind. We are so very lucky, and I am constantly reminded of this whenever I have a moment of doubt or a moment of "why me?" I mean, my god -I can live on my own. I can pay my own bills, I have the freedom to leave my home to get to work to pay those bills.

That ability to reflect, to re-examine, to know what it is that's important. To juggle the happy with the sad, the undercurrents of hope within the depression--maybe it is about what came before. Maybe it isn't. All I know is what I know, and that is I am a dreamer at heart. A harbor of secrets, and a walking oxymoron in so many senses of the word.

Where did it come from?

I guess I'll never know. Not until my next life.

My niece and I -two old souls, reflecting on the sweetness of life as we know it, defined in cupcakes and candles:

Friday, August 14, 2009

Dreams, Rivers and Legacies

I have so much on my mind tonight that's hard for me to think I'll even begin to touch on everything. I've been kicking around blog posts in my head all week, and I haven't had time to write a single thing since I'm writing a huge brief for work and by the time I'm done with that every day (and um, night), I just don't have it in me to blog.

This week was my three year anniversary at my job. My boss told me about a year ago, when I was juggling a few different offers on the table and uncertain about any of them, that "it takes three years to build a legacy." I kind of laughed, and told him that I was sure he'd tell me in three years that no, it actually takes five years to establish a legacy so that I'd stick around and keep helping him out ;)

But his words struck me on Thursday night as I mingled around a reception before a mini-conference/dinner was being held at our local university. I had come straight from work, my contacts were killing me and I was sucking down my cold beer (in a lovely, fancy glass of course) as if it were nectar from the heavens since I was in a suit and we were outside in the sun. I felt frazzled and a mess, and figured that no one was going to approach this crazy person.

But they did -I found I knew several of the names and faces there, not necessarily putting them together, but as people sought me out to tell me they'd read some of my work, or to ask my opinion on certain things, I heard those words whisper in my ear. I built a legacy at this job...in this field, more accurately. It occured to me that I can't ever be sad or regret this move, or not taking these other offers (knowing what I know now about both, I'm glad I didn't take them). Because 3 years is something to be proud of...and I need to remember it.

On that same note...when you accommplish a goal, you set a new one, and it's time to think about what's next.

And speaking of that. Somehow today, on the way home from work, my radio stumbled upon that old Garth Brooks song about how your dream is like a river and how you must follow it like a vessel, til the river runs dry. You know the one...like a bird upon the wind, these waters are my sky? Never reaching destinations until you try? (I haven't been drinking, I promise.)

Well. I would surely love to chase my dreams like a vessel and "follow where it goes" and soar along great heights until I reach my heart's true desire. And it all makes for a great song, and a lovely cliche. If only it were that easy.

But life is messy, and very real things get in the way of our best-laid plans. A sick grandparent can change everything. A tanked economy, a love interest, a career, anything at all can do this. All of a sudden...it isn't just about you and your dream vessel, sailing along the river.

Maybe I sound awfully bitter. And maybe I am, a little bit.

Because the freedom I felt several years ago just out of college just isn't the same anymore, as my need to settle becomes more and more obvious in my heart. Going back to DC, living in a shoebox apartment that I pay $1500/month for just makes me...tired.

I want a house, I want a yard. I read all these blogs by mothers all day, and I watch my friends raise thier children, my sisters raise thier children, see cute kid pictures be thrown up on Facebook...and, all I hear: tick tock.

But, I want my career to move up, too, and I want to meet more people, be young while I can--that all is synonomous with a move at this point, or so it seems. I can't skip the chapters in my book to get to the end. It just doesn't work that way.

It is a consistent struggle I have, and one I hope to find peace and resolution on very soon. But in the meantime, I wait, and cast out lines and hope to get a bite.

Til the river runs dry.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Where the weird just gets weirder...

I had the strangest thing happen tonight, and I couldn't help sharing it with blog-land since it involves one of our very own, Ms (Mary) Moon.

I was catching up on blogs tonight, and read her latest goose-bump inducer of an entry, and it was still on my mind as I did the laundry change-out a few minutes later. I walked back into the living room, and with it still on my mind, I flipped up the couch cushion in search of the remote. And here is what I found:



A clipped out magazine clump with the word "Mary". Where did it come from? I have no earthly idea. Is it even earthly? I've never seen it before in my entire life.

Sometimes the coincidences just seem....really not a coincidence, really at all.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sore Arms

When I have the very tired muscles on Sunday night, you know I've just spent a weekend at home with the family and extended family and friends and toddlers. Many toddlers. My friends' kids and then of course my 3 biggest fans (aged 1, 2 and 3) who clamor for me to pick them up Non.Stop.

Of course, I love it. I also love spending so much time with my sisters and for the beer/bonding that ensues til 3am everytime we get together like that. I spent some time with a very old friend & her daughters on Saturday too, and we had a good time playing catch-up and for once I didn't feel guilty about not spending "more" time with her -- sometimes, there just isn't enough time in the day to everything you want to do, no matter how good the intentions.

And instead of assigning blame or guilt, I'm just going to go forward and see who I can, when I can. To cherish just having the opportunity to do remain a part of their lives, and also to be able to watch my friends and I age into new roles as we keep on getting older.

Change, and rearrange.

We swam, fished and set off fireworks and after the kids went to sleep, my sisters and I headed to a cousin's house and we stayed up til the wee hours. I am running on empty exhaustion this afternoon.

It was one of those weekends where I wonder how on earth I could be unhappy here with all this love that surrounds me. As much as I sometimes carry on and on about feeling like the "fifth wheel" because I'm the only one without a kid, and as much as I sometimes feel smothered by the sheer amount of people in my families, I know they love me fiercely and I need to appreciate and acknowledge that more often.

It's August. Sweet, sticky, hot and buggy August. 'August and Everything After' is the name of the Counting Crows album that holds the song this blog was named after.

But, it's not raining in Kentucky today, and everything else isn't the same.

Tomorrow is a new day. A second chance to take a second glance at how I'm reacting to things and situations in my life these days, and what I can do to make it better and make it more productive.

It's time. It's time for August.

And, time for everything after.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

When the words won't come, there is only me, looking serious:



And processing through this weird week. Wait - isn't it only Tuesday??

Here are my random, non-serious thoughts...

* I bought my cat a cat toy tonight that squeaked and carried on like the brave, fake mouse that it is. It rolled down the conveyor belt, next to my new makeup and a six-pack of beer and I thought about what a strange woman I must look like - the beer-drinking cat lady who loves alot of new eye shadow ;) The check-out girl didn't card me, just looked at me, not believing for one minute that I am over 21 - much less 28 - and raised an eyebrow at me as I walked out the door. With my cat toy squeaking all the way.

* I still am holding on to my weight loss even though I am doing my best to sabotage this it seems =) I will do things like eat cucumbers and broccoli for snacks, and then eat french fries for dinner...I am so weird.

* I'm watching the Duggars on TLC right now. They have 18 kids, and the mother is so nurturing that I sort of want to move in with them and lay on their couch while she fusses over me and brings me soup. Because that's what she needs, right? An overgrown kid in her house to wait on?

* I miss LOST and really wish it were 2010 and it can come back

* I am not looking forward to August...it always seems to be my worst month. It's so damn hot, and has been hot forever, with no end in sight. But this year is a little bit different, since it's been cool alot this July. It's kind of strange and makes me think I'm going to be wearing shorts on Christmas day.

* When I start talking about the weather, it's time for bed.

Good night, all. Please excuse the squeaking cat toy :)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

What is this day?

I just said that to myself as I felt a cool breeze blast me on my way to the couch, on its way in through my screen door.

It's cold. Yes - a cold day in July! Well, it's about 65 degrees, but that's freezing in the south/midwest (sometimes we suffer from an identity crisis) state of Kentucky in the middle of July in the middle of the afternoon.

My day didn't quite turn out as planned. I was supposed to go "home", about an hour & a half south of where I live, and where I spend alot of time on the weekends. Various things were happening, and then canceled, and then rearranged. I had a somewhat stressful conversation with my mother and by the time it was done, and the clock had struck noon, I decided a day at my own home was in order.

I walked for three miles in the cool air and it was so fresh and clean in the sky that the blue almost looked like a bright blue swimming pool. I don't think I've seen colors that vivid since the fall and the clouds were luscious and huge and I couldnt think of a better day to be outside. When I walk, I usually listen to podcasts on my ipod and today I listened to a couple of my favorites, Bob & Sheri. They make me laugh almost the entire time so I usually walk along the path of the aboretum, grinning like an idiot and I'm sure the other people think I'm laughing at the voices in my head.

On this particular show, they had a caller with a giant pet pig that sleeps on a couch in their house and "talks" on the phone. The caller was letting the pig "talk" aka grunt/snort and moan into the phone and everyone on both ends was rolling with laughter. The pig belonged to a family with alot of kids, and the mother explained that she had adopted some, had a few of her own, and they were living a chaotic busy life and loving every minute of it.

That is SO what I want. A crazy, beautiful life with lots of people running in and out of my house and hell - maybe even a giant pig to sleep on the couch. Well, maybe not. But either way, I'm sure it might be somewhat surprising to those around me now that I would want that - I'm leading a kind of quiet life living alone but I'm used to chaos and I'm used to big families and I do want one of my own someday. Something that is MINE and not something that's handed to me.

I got home and laid down on my bed, and for whatever reason (I NEVER do this) I fell fast asleep right in the middle of the day. And I dreamed of my future family. This has never happened to me before, and it was the first dream I've had in an oh-so-long time that didn't involve something born of fear or stress (read: Dreaming in Downward Spirals below).

It was the saddest, but sweetest dream I think I've ever had. Sweet because it was so vivid, and sad because I woke up alone. I am VERY rarely sad to wake up alone, so this was striking too. I wandered around in a fog for awhile, and made myself go to Target to get out of the house and refresh a little. I got some highlight stuff and lightened up my blond a little bit, and I think it worked out pretty good!

I'm sitting here with teeth-whitening stuff on right now, and I have no idea what sparked this beauty regimen, but it's kind of nice to have a night here to just do some girly things like that and not have anywhere I have to be. I had houseguests a couple of nights this week, including a toddler, and I had dinner/drink plans almost every night and of course I had to see Harry Potter with friends too.

So tonight, I'll kick back. I'll sit on my porch with a drink and maybe I'll think about my dreams. My biggest dream that sometimes feels impossible.

But then I'll pull my jacket tighter around me, and know that sometimes, there does come a cold day in July.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The meaning of mean

"Here you are," he said, putting one finger down on my desk. "And here is your life," as he carefully drew a line passing by the stationary finger.

This was told to me today, by one of my wonderful co-workers. Who has, just today, decided to take a keen interest in my life (or lack thereof, according to him) in order for me to come out with him tonight. We've worked together now for a couple of years, and I guess he thinks he knows me pretty well. We have an odd relationship that I can't quite define - flirty, old-married-couple, brother-and-sister type, friend - I honestly don't know. It's all hard to read and confusing. But it's gone on for so long, and I know him well enough to know that I wouldn't be interested in him for anything more than just a co-worker/friend. There's too much of a catty streak (not exactly sexy for a man to have), too much of a bitterness, lifestyle differences, and oh yes - this need of his to somehow push all my buttons.

He likes to convince me of how "mean" I am and I guess, to him, I am. I don't cater to him and his (or anyone else in that office) crazy paranoid theories (our office ceilings are bugged, anyone?) and I certainly don't pat him on the back when he does yet another bitchy thing to someone else and comes to brag about it.

All of my co-workers (there are 8 of them, but 4 most predominantly) treat me as a combination of mother and counselor. I can't tell you how many phone calls I get per day (and no, I'm not their boss). These questions, in the past week have ranged from work-related to "Will you look at this rash on my side and see if it's serious or not?" "Do you have migraine medicine?" and "Will you feel my forehead and see if I have a fever?"

No, blog-friends, I am neither a medical professional nor the secretary. I am the writer, using my words as our message - and my meal ticket. I am also the mother hen (even though I'm the youngest of the crew, I might add) and they all crowd around me chirping, scratching dirt and demanding that I find them something to eat (or a band-aid).

So yes, I get frustrated. I give them tough love and I am constantly running interference between their fights and their tears and trying to remain the calm, steady voice in the storm. The one that tells them all to chill the f*** out because I'm trying to do...my job.

I say all this to go back to today, and the comment above. Because I'm so "mean," he tries to be mean back to me. Or, at least, turn my 'honesty' card against me and be honest back. He and another co-worker of mine are going downtown tonight to this outdoor food/drink/music thing that our city does every Thursday night. Which would be just fine, but I'm stuck at home working since I have to work on a presentation to give tomorrow to about 150 people via conference call.

When I said I wasn't going, he decided to flip his shit. He went off about how I never get out and do anything (keeping in mind this is the very FIRST time my co-workers have ever collectively decided to go anywhere together) and that's when he gave me his helpful visual aid of my life passing me by.

Normally - this guy doesn't phase me in the least. Today? If I had balls, he would have kicked me in them.

As if I don't have enough issues. As if I don't worry privately and fret on this blog and to close friends that I feel a little bit like a failure. Or, at the very least, like someone who is sitting on the bench for whatever reason. Not only do I feel like I'm sitting on the bench, I feel like I'm tied to it. I am leading a bit of a quiet life lately, in terms of where I'm living. I feel like every weekend I skip town, going west or south, to see friends in another town or see family in another. Do I miss having friends around - at least a group of them? Hell yes.

But, I feel such a sense of disconnect to where I'm living now. Since I'm actively trying to leave, I don't want to pick right now to get plugged into this community. I don't want to start dating someone, only to have to wrestle with either heartache (additional heartache to what I'm suffering from now) or have a reason to stay.

I don't want to pick now to get involved, only to bind myself to this place for more years of my life. This place where I am clearly not happy. Rocket scientists and preschoolers alike could tell you I'm not happy here. Happy with some things, yes. But feeling like my life is going in a positive direction - no.

And I'm trying. I'm actively trying to change my situation so that I can force a change in environment, no matter what. Even if that means staying here, and feeling freer to invest my time and energy into this community.

I suppose that for now I really am a finger stationary on a desk. With a swipe of a finger-life passing me by.

But it still hurts.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Dreaming in Downward Spirals

My best friend likes to interpret my dreams. Well - I use the word "likes" loosely, mostly, I like for her to do it, and I think she humors me =)

There is a common theme that disturbs me that runs through my dreams, and that is plane crashes. I know that sounds wickedly morbid, but it's not like I choose to do it...and the funny thing is, I have absolutely no fear of flying. What's that? You'd like me to get into a flying tube of metal that goes approximately one jillion miles per hour? Sure thing!

I'm never (except once) actually ON the plane, but rather I watch these crashes happen...oh, the symbolism I could find in that. Yes.

Anyway, these planes typically will spiral in some fashion before hitting the ground and that's usually it - I don't dream the aftermath, none of my loving relatives is on the plane, none of that. I think it's just a typical anxiety dream that I have every now and then in stressful times.

A few months ago, I had a dream where I was riding with a co-worker in a white Hummer (of all things) and we were going in - you guessed it - downward spirals. We had a fight and then he disappeared and I was driving this Hummer alone. When it finally stopped, I was looking at three paths with white carts that preceded them all. I chose the middle path (again...oh, the symbolism) and began pushing my cart in....downward spirals. There were vibrant colors throughout this dream, mostly red and oranges and both the Hummer and the cart were white. So, there was that.

And then last night, I dreamed I had gotten in a different elevator at work than I usually take, and it turned into a strange kind of roller coaster (just like my day usually is!) and we went up, up, up.....and then down. In...say with it with me...downward freakin' spirals.

WTF? Googling does not help me in this matter, since it says such dreams are indicative of failure and despair. To which I say, duh. Would anybody think that it means that something happy is right around the corner?

I think it just means I'm uncertain about alot of things right now, which is true, and enough to make anyone feel like they're on a roller coaster - but it won't be that way forever. This, I know.

At least I know it today. :)

I'll leave you with this fine looking crew on the 4th of July. Cute? Oh hell yes.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

To Beg, Steal and Borrow

I know I frequently mention my little nieces and nephews. They are a big part of my life, and part of the glue that helps solidify our family unit. They have served to bring us together in a way we never could bring ourselves together before.

See, I grew up in two step-families. Every week at one house, every other week at the other. Two ‘siblings’ lived at each house, so I grew up with 4 other children but not simultaneously. These families have obviously grown and evolved into many forms through the years and our family dynamics are always changing because I guess all the players in the game are humans who change and evolve themselves.

In a way, I am experiencing with one family the same thing I experienced many years ago with the other. Fourteen years ago, when I was fourteen, my oldest niece S was born. She was a surprise, to put it mildly. My stepsister (the oldest one of the bunch and someone I looked up to a lot at the time) had her when she was 18, she married S’s father soon after the pregnancy and the whole crew moved in with us. For reasons I still don’t understand, the crib was put in my room after about 6 months. She used to wake up at night and I would rock her back to sleep singing bouncy country songs. We had little dances and routines and those midnight hours spent with her as a teenager are some I’ll never forget.

I would stand over her crib and watch her breathe. I wasn’t a teenage parent…but sometimes, it sure felt like it.

S’s little sister and little brother were born in quick succession and while none of us were overly thrilled that these children were introduced into life so early into their parents’ tumultuous lives; we loved and adored them. We still do – that much is definitely true – but when children become teenagers, things change and they’re no longer walking around thinking I’m hot stuff anymore. I joked when S turned 13 that I should give her a card saying “Happy Birthday! I won’t like you again til you’re 20.” =)

Obviously, I love the heck out of that smart little girl. But, for now, and for many various reasons, none of them are anywhere near as prevalent in my life as they once were. I miss them all the time. Each one of them brought me to a new level of adoration with their births and I feel like I grew up along with them…I took my first steps toward adulthood as they took their first steps toward the coffee table and we all fell down and scraped our knees together.

My mother and stepfather had only been married about 9 months when S was born. I had grown up with him, and his children, but I was a teenager by the time they officially married and when S was born, she became like a child to all of us. We nurtured her and C and L, the next little ones to come, the way we were nurturing a young family and I felt like a vital cog in the wheel. Now, things are different. This can be a topic of a whole other post.

When I moved back to KY almost four years ago, I moved back far closer (emotionally) to my mother’s family than my dad’s. I loved my step-sisters, but my relationship with my stepmother has always been tenuous to say the least (another topic of another post.) Then, 3 years ago, my sister L had her first baby. Then my sister B had her baby. Then L had another baby.

And so, once again, I have three little objects of my affection, blonde-headed and adorable, just as I did all those years ago. And my dad’s family has never been the same…we are closer, we are more involved in each others lives, and we have a common objective – to love these 3 little people.

With each of the births of the first grandchild on either side of my family, I have seen a cohesive result - all of a sudden, there is this baby. This cute little person that’s neither “mine” nor “yours” and we all feel free to love this kid as much as we want. My dad and stepmother constantly compared us girls to one another growing up, and we felt like it was very clear that our own parent preferred us …which yes, is a little obvious and just a given, but it was divisive among us as little children, and served to breed resentment, etc…all those wonderful feelings that go along with it.

Instead, these babies belong to no one and they belong to everyone and we are all allowed to snatch them up and love them to pieces.

Around Christmas this year, my family was running around in chaos after the presents were opened and we were all our way to the cabin in the woods where my stepmothers family gathers every Christmas eve and we were in a rush trying to get food cooked, naps out, etc. My nephew was melting down and everyone was busy, so I grabbed him up, stuck Baby Einstein in the DVD player, a bottle of milk and laid down with him on the couch for some chill-out time.

It was very soothing and soon we were both almost asleep. As I was just about to drift off, he reached out and took my hand. At that moment, I had one of those feelings of overwhelming love for this little bitty person sprawled out on me, and it stunned me. As much as I love each child, I had never felt like that before. It is the way I imagine I will feel about my own child all the time. It was that moment the phrase "To beg, to steal and to borrow" popped into my mind.

And it is so true. I am borrowing this sweet boy and he is serving a stand-in for my own child—-just as I am borrowing those sweet moments of all of the little ones, just as I borrowed them from the older ones (and still do). In a way, I guess we all borrow sweet moments from children, no matter whose they are, as that sweet innocence is all too fleeting.

I feel like my whole life is in beg, steal and borrow mode right now. I am begging for answers, stealing every day as I pass through it with seemingly no real purpose and borrowing other people’s children and families as stand-ins and substitutes for my own.

I stand on the fringe of my friends ‘real’ lives and serve as that voice on the phone or the person they have drinks with sometimes, but I’m not in hardly anyone’s day-to-day life. They have their babies, they have their relationships – I have none of these things.

This is a hard thing for me to deal with, and its been bothering me for the last year or so. I never really cared before, but as I get older, I want more and more to be settled. To be needed, to be loved better than anyone else. I know its an only human thing to want and need, but it almost makes me feel weak. Like I really should be happy with what I have and stop whining or worrying about what I don’t.

I should be grateful for those who allow me to be a part of their lives, no matter to what degree. My friends are fantastic and I have so many of them scattered all across the country. I have been sooo very blessed with so many people who have come and stayed in my life. And I am grateful for my family, as they grow and form their own little family trees, that they still have room for me in their lives. That their children know and love me and wear ‘I Love My Aunt’ t-shirts. It will have to do for now.

It will have to do.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Cold

It's freezing outside.

Well, ok, it's 58 degrees...but in June, that's a cold, cold evening. My favorite kind of weather is 68 and sunny though, so I'm really not complaining. It's been 90 here all week and the cold is like a visitor, checking in to say hello before he leaves again til September. Just passing through, he says.

The wind is rustling the leaves and blowing inside my patio doors and my cat is pressed against the screen door, looking outside like he can't get enough of it. I can't either.

It is June 4 and I've already had enough of this month. We have had one hell of a week at work, with today supposedly being the culmination to finding out who/how many layoffs were to be anticipated. Our answer? We don't know yet. So there you have that. More waiting game, while my co-workers continue to be heavily involved players in a game I like to call "Vote Your Colleague Off the Island." Tense? You bet.

So I watch the clock until 4:30 and then run out the door to go run. Literally. I have been running and I am finding it extremely cathartic. If that's even the right word.

I never thought I could run, and believe you me, I will not be entering into any marathons anytime soon. But I am running with my walking and I am happy because I think it means I am getting strength and endurance. Strength that has been missing from my body for oh-so-long.

I guess there's not much point to this entry, other than to say I am ok. I am content, and I am restless, and tonight those things don't feel contradictory. So much I am working through and running towards...and I am so grateful for the love that surrounds me, even when I very least expect it.

What's that you say? You'd like a cute kitten picture of Charlie? Oh, ok. Here. See that middle couch cushion facing the laptop? That's where I am at this very moment =)

Sunday, May 31, 2009

The good stuff

Somebody is two.



So, he's not my own. But as his aunt, who sees him almost daily, it sometimes feels like it - and no one would have it any other way. His home life is good, but sometimes chaotic, and when things get too noisy or there are too many people in a crowd, I love that he will come over to me and hold my hand. He will lay against me and hold my hand, and we can (and have) sat like this for a very long time just being still. For any of the little ones in my life (not to mention, the big ones too) I want to be a refuge to them - a stable force in sometimes an un-stable life. It's all we can hope for.

So today, the day before his birthday, I pay tribute to him. To this vibrant, active boy who has light in his eyes and life in his laugh. He is voraciously loved and has a community of people ready to catch him if he ever falls. But I hope he won't. No, I hope he finds smooth paths under his feet and hands to hold along the way. Mine will always be one of them.



And...the blog post below? Two days after everything went down...she found out she's pregnant.

My cup runneth over.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

And it all just hits the fan....

My best friend from college, my roommate for two years and friend for many years after, got some of the worst news that can be gotten today. After having two months to come to terms that she would be receiving a new adopted son, she had met the birth mother, had chosen out the furniture. Had begun the process of emotionally recognizing herself as a mother, after years of infertility.

The baby was born premature on Saturday morning. I had a call, in a daze, the next day and I spent the day at Babies r' Us, finding some preemie stuff and loading it up to get to her today. But today, the baby is back with his birth mother...the mother had changed her mind. If I know my friend, and I feel sure I do, she's on the bathroom floor right now, unable to move.

It's breaking my heart to know she's going through this. Breaking my heart, and makes me worried for her. How do you come back from something like this? How do you keep on looking for the silver lining, always trusting that things will "work out" when life keeps handing you hard times after bad luck on a rusted silver platter?

He's a preacher. She runs an after-school program for needy kids. They've been dating since they were 14, married since 21, and they are the exception to my every rule on the whole...find yourself stuff that "must" occur beofre marriage. If they fall apart, I will fall apart and convince myself that nothing can ever stand a chance if those two don't make it.

I'm angry. And confused, and I just dont understand how....well, how bad things happen to good people. Isn't that a book title?

It's the eternal struggle, I know. They're not the first or the last to experience heartache, but I want to protect them from it. I want to have them have the good things, and I can take the bad things, because they deserve it.

They're such religious people, that I wonder how all this is affecting them. Is it making their faith stronger or weaker, is it bringing them comfort or anger? I don't know. Not yet. I'm giving her lots of space at this point, knowing that people need that time on the bathroom floor sometimes and knowing also that I have no words that will bring any resemblance of comfort.

Maybe I'll have something more coherent in the morning - tonight I'll sleep. And wonder what on earth to pray for.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Facebook imitates life, imitating Facebook...

Like every great story, this one begins: “So, I took this Facebook quiz, right?”

But well, I did. Just now, I took a quiz entitled “How Well Do You Know Me?” I completed various tidbits about my favorite foods, movies and what my middle name is…and then I was asked to “tag” various people in my life who just might know the answers. And I went through, clicking on name after name, and I realized…I bet not one of these people are going to know anything 100 percent. Not one of them have that unique combination of being in my life day-to-day enough to know whether or not I like curly fries or regular fries, and yet still hang on to that innermost self of mine. Well, maybe a precious few. But it struck me how I have deliberately placed people into boxes and slapped labels onto them…and have a very difficult time allowing them into other places.

I have a friend once who proclaimed that I had too many friends named Sarah. Now, I have to admit, I really do have a lot of Sarah’s in my life, but I guess one can’t have too many people to grab onto throughout their life, right? Anyway, I find myself describing each of these Sarah’s as, respectively: Home Sarah, College Sarah, Home and College Sarah, and DC Sarah. God forbid Home and College Sarah ever moves to DC, because then, she might become the Triple Crown of Sarah’s, forcing all the others out of the picture altogether.

Anyway, each of these Sarah’s knows a part of me, and each one wouldn’t have a clue on how to discern the other sides of me. They know the pieces…they know me in first grade, in the youth group, in the sorority, in my first job in the big city, in my first experience with alcohol, in my first experience with…well, an illegal substance. And the list can go on, and on and on.

But yet…I think all 4 would give a different descriptor of what, say, my job is. (Although, in their defense, I have a very out-of-the-ordinary job so I can’t expect everyone to know everything about it)…but still, each would struggle with the answer. They might not be able to tell you my favorite movie if asked. Is it my fault? Theirs? No one’s really, I suppose, but the fact remains that we pigeon-hole people to certain corridors of our hearts and frankly, it can be difficult sometimes.

The other day, I told another single friend of mine from college that I was envious, in a way, of the folks we knew who had married their college or high school sweethearts. For the shared memories, the shared friendships, the shared do-you-remember-when-we-drank-that-whole-bottle moments…it’s funny to me to think that, most likely, I’ll end up marrying someone who won’t know any of these pieces of my past self. And I won’t know his, and it’s at this point in my thought-process that I begin to frantically wish to turn back the clock.

I am walking through my days right now with the sole purpose of reaching the next one in the most sane and healthy way I know how. I woke up this morning, pulled on comfy clothes and headed to the arboretum and walked for four miles in the early morning sun. And then I went to my sister’s to hug my nephew close…my parents were there so I got to see my Dad too. I am going to see my nieces tomorrow to hug them close too, while I can easily reach out and grab them in a 45 minute car ride.

I hug all my little people close, and my big people too, with a full awareness that clocks cannot be turned back. And that I too, have turned a corner that I can’t walk back around.

No matter how hard we all push.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

If only I always felt this serene... =) I must be sleep-deprived this week...check out those bags under the eyes!



This is one strange week, but I feel calmer tonight. I am putting energy in other projects since work is so slow, and I'm finding it's refreshing to focus on a few things I've put off for so long...and trying to keep looking forward. Always looking forward.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Crash and Overload

(Written at my desk, on a Thursday morning)

I am having a bit of an out-of-the-ordinary morning. I spent the night with friends in another town last night, old roommates of mine actually, and we got together to celebrate the season finale of our mutual favorite show, LOST. I had a great time, reuniting over Chinese food and beer, watching something we’ve watched together for years, catching up, marveling inward at how we’re growing up, and basically just relished a few hours of NOT thinking about anything other than a silly TV show about time-traveling islands and smoke monster inhabitants. I had to get up really early to make the drive back home and run into work late.

So here I sit, late but not nearly behind. We are at an unusually quiet period at work where I am NOT running around like a chicken with no head, and am taking the time to “catch up” which for me, means finally delving into everything I normally can’t do. Like read articles (the whole thing!), blogs, talk with friends, all that good stuff.

But is it all good stuff? It occurred to me this morning that even though my life is relatively calm at this very moment, I am still tense and overwhelmed. So I started reflecting why...and began to realize and respect the sheer volume of information that I shove into my brain constantly during the day. It really doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand why I always seem to get sad at night (have I mentioned that I sometimes get sad at night?).

I think it's because my brain doesn’t know how to relax anymore. I am no longer at ease with my quiet thoughts (for a variety of other reasons), and when I don’t have things being flung at me in the evening -- after friends have tucked away at home, work is finished (when I’m lucky!), dinner is fixed, eaten and cleaned up, I find myself unable to unwind. Instead, I unravel.

It’s 11:00am and I’ve read all the headline stories for the Washington Post, the New York Times, MSNBC, Business Week and CNN. I’ve read my obscure government mags, my IT pubs, and had a long conversation with my boss about ACH vendor payment fraud. I've read blogs on topics ranging from the death of a child, to debating the merits of natural childbirth to dissecting the potential Congressional elections next year. I've had conversations with two friends about the calorie levels in hot dogs versus ham sandwiches, heating pads or ice for migraines, the merits and non-merits of exercise early in the morning and why I don’t like TV shows about cops.

It’s madness, really, when you stop to think about it. I can’t stop doing these things; I can’t tell my boss – sorry, I need to calm my mind before I can have this meeting with you. But it’s all just so damn stressful sometimes, especially when you carry the weight of each thing I’m reading and how it stresses me—--oh god, I’m going to have my identity stolen, pirates may or may not hijack a cruise I may or may not take in the future, Obama’s too liberal or he’s not quite liberal enough, states are laying people off, our dues might not get paid, I might not have a job soon, everyone everywhere is laying people off, my children may be hyper or have autism if I vaccinate them—-should I vaccinate them? Will I ever even have babies to vaccinate? What am I doing with my life?

You see the insanity.

And I know I’m not alone—-we’re ALL suffering from this overload and it’s why we, as a society, are ready to collectively jump off the ledge if just one more bad thing happens. The stress and worry and constant chatter is something we both need and loathe. At least, that’s how it is for me.

I need, need, need the interaction, the stimulation, the activity because when I don’t have it, I crash.

But what if the overload creates the crash? What then?

Deep thoughts.

And all before noon.