Wednesday, October 17, 2012


I’m in love with fall here. In love. I’m in love with the way the leaves look, hanging on desperately as they change color outside my window. Flickering. Waving goodbye. Waving hello. I’m in love with seeing the mountains every day. I’m in love with adventures with new friends. I’m in love with the way I feel after I leave a lecture. I’m in love with cold beer, much deserved after a lot of work that I really, really worked at.

I’m in love with my apartment and my tiny kitchen and my bathtub. I’m in love with the sound my key makes sliding into my mailbox.

I’m in love. With so much.

But right now, love is something I’m really struggling with, too.

Matt and I are on a break right now. It was my doing. I can’t give him what he needs and deserves emotionally and I don’t know why, but I do know it’s not fair.  To put him through this. To pretend I have more to give than I do. To drag us both into a bad place.

You see, when we got together, I was in such an unhappy place in my life. And being with him, he made me happy. For a while. And he’s wonderful. But it’s not enough for me to have to rely on someone else to feel okay. To feel better than okay. To feel happy.

I need to learn how to be happy by myself, and I feel like I can really do that here.

But I have to learn how. I have to listen to myself to be by myself and I don’t know why. Maybe no one else in the world needs this. But I know me, and I do. I need to be alone.

I need to learn how to be alone again and how to self-soothe and how to love myself.

It’s not fair, and I know that. No one should have to be collateral damage for someone else’s happiness, but I feel like that’s probably where Matt is with this. He has been supportive and understanding and just there for me. And this is how I repay him?


I wish I had better words and better ways to explain that I’m not trying to be selfish or uncaring. I’m trying to become a strong person who will be a good partner. A partner who is supportive and understanding and just there for the person I’m with.  And the truth is, I’m not. I’m not a good partner.

But I want to get there.

And I really feel, with every fiber of my body, like I need to do this alone.

It has nothing to do with a shortage of love in my heart. I send love to him every second of every day.

It has everything to do with learning to love myself. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

forsaking punctuation. forgive me.

everything felt so contingent on one moment falling into the next. everything felt like a cosmic hug, like  we're in the dramatic music that comes before the grand gesture. when he's running through crowded streets to get to the airport to get her back, make eye contact with her. before he kisses her and she stays. she stays! she doesn't get on the plane. thats what it felt like. like something life changing is in the air and it's coming and it could be anything. i felt like maybe i could pick it. i could pluck out what it would be and choose and it would be that simple. but thats not how it works. you don't get to pick, not really. recognizing the feeling, really being in it, that's as much as you can hope for. sometimes that's all you get. i'm happy i noticed at all.

i think someone actually did a handspring. i'm sure of it now, it was christian. and we laughed and i asked him not to do that again but that i was so glad he did it. but next time he could really hurt himself. people don't do back handsprings enough, though. they're these amazingly expressive gestures. they seem so optimistic, hopeful in yourself and in the ground and the air. and we were this cohesive unit of friends and it was night and the bars were closed and we were going to a party.

i kept saying 'we're going to a party' over and over like a mantra, waiting for it to lose meaning and just become part of the mass. but it didn't. we're going to a party. any party. it doesn't matter. somewhere on this street. does this look like a party? it doesn't. this isn't it, but here we are and they're playing music on the steps.

sometimes you meet a person who starts playing guitar or has some skill they perform in a way that makes you feel like you've never really found it. you've never really been that good at being alive because you don't have something like that. it's more than a way to express something for some people, it's an extension of who they are. when it's not there, it's a phantom limb. that's what it felt like. it was like watching a person take a shower without them knowing it. private.

but i watched and i watched and he started playing prince's 'kiss' and then his funny friend started singing, really singing it. and i started wondering what that was like. not just that kind of friendship, but being that kind of person. who smiles when they sing and just so naturally bounce around and just interact with the rest of us. it must be hard not to float away. it must feel like watching people drag bags of heavy things around with them to interact with the rest of us. we probably feel so cumbersome and slow.

it's no wonder.

and you know, that feeling i was talking about? the one in the air. the feeling of being on the swollen side of events before the momentous occasion? when i was walking around on a warm night in october with new friends, going to a party? we laughed our way there and i was waiting for it to hit because i knew that it would. i felt so in control of all of our fate. at the same time i realized how little impact my wants and actions have on anyone else in the world. i thought about chain reactions. starting one. sustaining one. i considered falling in love with everyone. i wondered if i'd ever fall in love with myself. we passed the library three times and went back to the party with more beers and this woman played the cello so beautifully that i noticed my mouth was hanging open. i left it there because it felt good to know even i don't control every function of my own body every single second of the day.

and it was a night. on the cusp of something i wanted to badly to push over to the other side. to take a peak. see and maybe change my mind. but that's what is funny about fate or the universe, in order to really see, you have to go. and i wanted to go, i was ready. i could feel the air particles brushing against my skin, gesturing wildly and romantically. i had no idea where, but it felt so natural to want to go. anywhere. but i didn't. i didn't. i just knew i could.

i think maybe some nights you have more power over things than others. maybe we all have our moments. that night, that was my night. they don't come often. certainly not often enough. but i really think i had the power to tip the scale. and maybe in some little ways i did. but really, noticing it was nice enough. i thought i wanted a giant something. but i just wanted to know what i held in my own hands. what i hold. and last night, i did.

i think that was the momentous occasion.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

the universe has got tricks.

The other day I went for a walk to the park to do a little reading and writing. This is not uncommon. First, I went to the trendy, super intimidating coffee shop to get a beverage. I thought I was being super innovative when I ordered half hot chocolate, half coffee. Turns out that's called a mocha or something and I'm just an idiot. Whatever, I'm honestly proud of myself for not crumbling over the intense anxiety that comes from not being a coffee connoisseur whatsoever and patronizing establishments where that seems to be the norm.

The coffee part is totally irrelevant.

So anyway, I walk my happy ass to the park and I compose not one, but TWO, potentially award-winning emails to dear friends. And I'm taking in the afternoon light and I'm breathing the air in really deep and really realizing how much I love Saturday afternoons before the Saturday night transition comes and changes the energy in the air. I am so content. Then it starts to get really cold and dark and my fingers start getting really stiff from the chilly air, so I head back home, which isn't super far, but you know, it's a walk. A several block walk.

And I walk up the sidewalk and mount the stairs to my lovely brick apartment building, so ready to take a pee and take a load off- and I suddenly no longer have my keys. And I suddenly have no clue when I saw them last.

So I start rifling through my bag and I eventually just empty the whole thing out and now it's starting to actually be dark out and it is at that moment that I also realize I have no cell phone either. In fact, I am a mess. I have a full bladder, no keys, and no cell phone.

And suddenly, for the very first time since I moved here, Missoula, Montana seemed like something other than this sleepy, funky, little town. It seemed like just another place that can be cold and impersonal and unbelievably big during desperate moments of need. It was a moment. Just one of those moments the universe stores up to say "Slow down, girl," or, "Catch your breath," or "Maybe you need a new perspective, just for a minute. Just so you know you're not dreaming."

And so in my mind, I started mapping out my options. Places I could go. People I could find to help me. And honestly, one of those ideas was to go to a bar and that the bartender would help me. But there were other solutions, other options, there usually are.

I ended up cramming my hands into the pockets of my fleece and hoofing it back to the coffee shop, where asking if you left your keys is infinitely more embarrassing then not knowing what coffee drink to order, but also much less embarrassing than many other things in life. And you know what? I'm kind of on an expresso kick these days, which I really don't hate. Anyway, my keys weren't there, so I spent the next several blocks staring at the sidewalk as I retraced my path exactly and willed my keys to show up beneath my feet.

And when they didn't, instead of the panic escalating, a clearer plan started forming. How the maintenance guy in my building has spares for all of us. How I have a spare set of car keys. How I have friends that live close. How I can walk over to the police station and see if anyone turned in my keys. How I'll be fine. How I am fine.

I finally trudged across the park, toward the picnic table where I spent my afternoon, and there sat my stupid set of keys, metal teeth grinning in the last shards of daylight. I picked them up like I was mad at them, manhandled them into my pocket and cursed my awful, beautiful luck.

And then I walked home smiling, because I am here and I am alone and I am okay. I am okay.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Thursday, October 4, 2012

phoning it in.

god, isn't this place beautiful? it snowed in the mountains yesterday. i can't remember a time that i felt more giddy than on my walk to class, staring at the clouds and white tops.

Yikes, bikes.

It’s noon now and the light seeping in from my windows is reminding me of my grandmother’s house. I can’t explain it, I just looked around the room and it felt like she was here, or rather, I was there. It’s bright, insistent. Even though my shades are drawn, the sun won’t be denied. It will persevere in its task to light the world; it will make me acknowledge my own refusal to be a present and willing participant in this day.

Anyway, like I said, it’s noon now and I’m also basically still in bed, although I’ve gotten up a few times for provisions and teeth brushing, etc.  I figure I should say a few words about grad school since it’s basically my life now and I don’t have a job, which is actually pretty terrible. I seriously, seriously need to be working and making money, but that’s a subject for another day.

So far grad school is good and not even really that hard time-wise and I really, really love the program, my classmates, learning all the history and theoretical techniques of therapy, and the faculty. But shit-damn am I feeling just emotionally drained and/or emotionally hungover most of the time. When my day is done I don’t want to talk to the people I love on the phone or cook myself dinner or go for a hike. I want to fucking drink my face off and watch ‘quirky independent romantic comedies’ on Netflix until I fall asleep. This is probably not effective coping behavior.

And honestly, I don’t want to sound like I’m bitching about this AT ALL, because it’s such a beautiful and self-actualizing journey to be on and I’m so lucky to be on it. But being this engaged and invested in something, to the point where I’m more than just showing up to every single thing, I’m really not sure I’ve ever done it before. I mean ever. My autopilot is more functional that most people’s engaged. I don’t really know if that’s true or not, but it seems like it could be. I feel like I could go pro at maximizing my life potential with minimal effort. It wasn’t always this way, but getting out of it, shit. My seize-the-day-and-try-your-best! muscles are like, really fucking rusty.

Anyway, that’s not really the point. I’ve really never thought of myself as a completely non-self aware person or someone that was harboring super intense and deeply-engrained issues before. I mean, we’re human, we all have our shit and we all have our struggles and shame and sadness. We all experience these things differently and we all deal with them differently. That’s part of what makes being human and interacting with other humans so enthralling for me.

I just feel like I’m in this weird mind-fuck. I alternate between talking opening about things that are bothering me with my classmates in the client role for learning exercises that always seem to get way deeper than I ever thought they could possibly be and then having conversations where I act as the therapist so I can play back the recording and literally pick apart every single one of my actions and words. I now fully know how frequently I blink and exactly what the side of my face looks like when I talk. And all that would be fine if at the end of every day I wasn’t thinking, “Holy fucking shit, I still have so far to go and I have to start seeing ACTUAL clients in three months what the fuck am I going to do and how will I get there?”

And I mean, I’m trying so hard to trust the process right now. I have faith that my professors will be able to get me there and I have faith in their selection process and belief that I can probably definitely do this and that I will be a good counselor. I just sort of don’t know how to handle the part of my life that isn’t school when school is just rubbing up on every single part of my life, especially because I moved across the country to do it.

So yeah, I’m phoning it in today. From my nest of pillows and down comforters. Sorry, sun. Try back tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

you know who you are.

Remember when we were wild? 

Riotous hair whipping as we dangled our upper extremities outside the car at sixty miles an hour. The music was always louder at night. I always feel braver at night. The road was dark and the air sank its fangs into every exposed patch of skin as we screamed at the top of our lungs for as long as we could. My eyes would start to water from the cold and the wind and my hair lashing into them violently. By the time I gathered myself back into the car, my face was an atlas of saltwater rivers and streams. Sometimes we'd see if we could get lost. Sometimes we'd see how long we could hold our fingers out of the open windows before they hurt too bad to bend. You never really know what love is until you find the people that finally make you feel comfortable in your own body for the first time. 

I still have that inside of me, you know. Sometimes it flickers across my eyes when I'm looking in the mirror and I know that even though I floss my teeth and wear hats and gloves and I've eased up on the black eyeliner, that something inside me is still as feral as it was back then. I still err toward recklessness even though I insist that I hate gambling. I do hate gambling, when it comes to money. When it comes to my life though, that's a different story. We made ourselves that way. We made each other invincible, and now we're just waiting to see how much that will cost us. 

I'm scared, you know. I'm scared of losing my ability to let everything inside me swell to capacity and just wait for the dam to burst and know that no matter what, you'll help me paddle to safety. I'm scared to stop moving, to really entertain the idea of building a life, making a home. When I need comforted, I don't look at old photographs or call those dear to my heart. I find the darkest road I can and I drive as fast as possible, careful not to pay any attention to the route I took getting there. I crave the sensation of being lost, of almost running out of fuel, of seeing how many different angles I can howl at the moon from in one span of darkened sky. 

Those nights when our hair was long and speed-blown, back in the warmth of the car, we'd comb the knots out with our fingers, but something about our manes always stayed windy and unruly. I'd wake the next morning to the smell of cold air and dark roads on my pillowcase, and I'd smile to myself. Everything felt like a secret then, a promise, an oath, a testament to the people we were sure we were brave enough to become, eventually. And then it was time for a new night, a different driver, the same roads, and thrills only we knew how to seek. We were shrieking like dying creatures into the wind, but I wasn't angry. That was the happiest I've ever been. To have a security blanket, a grid of roads that holds you gently and lets you go crazy, it's more than I could have ever thought to ask for and somehow it just knew to give. 

I felt like I was leading a double life at times, making the grade at school, staying off the radar of any human who could be deemed an authority figure, but destroying and stealing and roaming and gnashing my teeth when no one was looking. I'd curl my hair every morning before class, smirking to myself. Barely able to wait to bang my head around until each tendril straightened into individual strands and gnarled together into unmanageable clumps. 

I buy the big bottle of whiskey now, because it's more cost efficient. But I also pace the streets at night, wishing that something which offers an actual threat to my personal safety will make me feel fear instead of the idea of never again experiencing love at first sight. I wander around and wait for something to happen in front of me that will require a show of character, more for myself than the opportunity to do the right thing. I just want to know my character for sure, in general. I want to be tested and to come out on the other side of it knowing whether I passed or not in a multitude of situations. So I walk at night and I wait. I write stories in my head that I never get around to typing and I smoke cigarettes like it's normal to feel this arrogant about my own health.

But don't let it fool you, I'm afraid now of so much more than I was back when we were free. Sometimes I feel totally desperate for passion. Fraught with need for something to hurt me and scare me and yet to be tied to it so strongly because it's also the best thing I've ever felt. I just don't want to lose my ability to give myself over to it, to feel that way. To need to relent. I'm terrified that I'll never have that moment again, when you meet someone for the first time and it's chemical- you just know. Just know. Just know. Just know they're going to be important. It happens so rarely anyway, what if I miss it? What if I've used them all up, all those serendipitous moments?  It's disappointing how much less romantic life is than in the movies. It just happens. We crash into each other and break apart and fall together in such random patterns. Nothing is the way we grow up having it shown to us. Love looks so different every time it manifests itself. No two times look the same. It's like a kaleidoscope or something, always vaguely aesthetically pleasing, but kind of abstract and at the mercy of your own motions. Once you've shifted the frame you can never really duplicate what appeared in the viewfinder the last time. Don't even try. You'll never get that sparkly bit of ribbon to catch the light that way again. And the sun is setting anyway, so fuck it. It always looks good, but some patterns are more appealing than others to any given person. I've grown so in love with the struggle that I can't enjoy anything that comes easy or becomes easy. 

I keep having these flickers in my memory today of the big blue house. Kate and I rented it that year and it was the best house I've ever lived in. We had that huge backyard and I bought a lawnmower for $35 on craigslist because part of our lease was that we had to keep up the yard. I could cry thinking about the library, with the fireplace and massive doors leading into it. We had so much art between us, so many things hanging on the walls.  And we'd have fires in the backyard when the weather was nice. We'd take one of the racks out of the oven and wrap it in foil and grill mushrooms and egg plant and peppers and corn and sprinkle them with rosemary and salt and oil and then burn our fingers trying to get them off the make-shift grill, which was really a bird bath I stole from my parents' house. There was always wine. Always. There was a massive magnolia tree and lilies everywhere. Our bedrooms upstairs were grand expanses with high ceilings and so much natural light that I rarely turned on my lamps. We almost froze that winter because we were too stubborn and too poor to properly heat the thing, but even that felt right. Layering on blankets and crowding each other while we watched a raunchy comedy or some shitty horror movie. We'd gather around the kitchen for lively pasta dinners sometimes and other times paint while smoking hookah on the front porch. I'm sorry I missed so much if the little part that I was there for feels this way to remember. It's hard to describe the feeling. I miss it. I miss sitting in the kitchen and talking about the events that made up each of our days. Even then we were less wild than we once were, but I think with more of us present, living in the same city, it was easier to conjure it back. I have such a hard time getting there on my own. 

I woke up today to the sun coming through my windows, surrounded by all my art hanging on the walls. It’s like my insides are on the outside, I’m surrounded by myself in my apartment and it feels like home. I brewed hot water for tea. I listened to Fleetwood Mac on the record player as I slid over the hardwood. I sat in my breakfast nook and actually ate breakfast while reading a book that keeps making me lose my breath. It's like I'm finally getting to be the person I always had a picture of in my head. The person I always strove to be and up until now fell miles short of becoming. I love almost everything about it here. But, it's strange, scary, being here alone, too. I'm overwhelmed by all the possibility and don't know quite what to do with myself. Sometimes I walk to the public library. It's two blocks from my house. Little perfect details like that abound now, and it feels so fragile because it can't possibly be my life. I feel so desperately full of possibility. I guess I see how people fall quickly into boring and predictable patterns in the face of change, just to have something to grasp onto. Not necessarily what they wanted, but too scared of instead doing nothing and getting stuck standing still to take their time. It's a lovely picture, the best I've seen, but something about it feels tenuous. I guess I've always wanted everything RIGHT NOW. I'm trying to slow down and let things happen naturally, trust the Universe to yield. Time is the most frustrating construct because it’s required for almost everything and there are no short cuts. I just keep trying to bang ahead and race it but I never catch a clear lead. It just can't be real, this life. But it is. I can see the mountains from my windows. 

Doesn't it hurt that we're all works-in-progress?

It does.

I'm just one of those works of progress, bumping and jolting my way along the endless assembly line which wavers as it fades into the far away abyss of my failing vision on the horizon. I don't like to think about myself in the context of an assembly line, it makes me feel tame. Like I'm becoming a pet, something that needs to be fed instead of killing what I need to live. I'm afraid to feel anything other than half starved, because at least hunger means I'm still forced to pay attention. Sometimes I suspect that the habits I picked up to keep myself wild are only serving to dull my senses and eat away at my ability to focus. 

Remember how, those nights in the car, we'd sing? Our voices would blend together and the honesty of it was almost unbearable. We were a pack and we howled together in unison and pushed, really pushed, some invisible cage that held us. Slammed into it so fast that I felt the opposite of a collision. I learned to be whole. I could never limit you as just my friends after we became that kind of family, it's such a loose and fluid term for the people who keep the pieces of your soul that your body can no longer contain.  Sometimes I forget what it’s like to feel so sure of my own ability to sustain myself on noise and air and the sensation of moving so fast alone.

And you remind me.