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 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 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 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 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.