Tiny Bit of Crazy

A chronical of the laughter, revelations and transformations that are possible when you embrace the crazy

2012: How it Went Down February 2, 2013

Remember way back last year, when 2012 was all sparkly and new and seemed like it was gonna be a lot of fun, and my friend Tara (from Do These Kids Make Me Look Crazy) and I wrote New Year’s Resolutions for each other?  Then at the 6 month mark we both went through and did a progress report, and now, apparently, we have to actually be accountable for the rest of the year as well.

There’s talk of us doing this exercise again this year as well, but part of me thinks that maybe if I don’t remind her she’ll forget.

Except the whole telling HER what to do with her life part is super fun.

Maybe when she sees how badly I did with this year, she’ll let me off the hook and just let me do resolutions for her…

But if I do have new resolutions to do, now we only have 11 months left in 2013 so that’s going to be my excuse for anything I don’t accomplish this year.

Well, I’ve stalled long enough. Here they are. Don’t judge me too harshly…

Find and make a home. A real home. Whether it’s by yourself or with your man or with a cute little kitten named Rhett. Find a place you adore and want to stay in for a long time. A place that feels like yours. It has to hold all your important stuff, like your shoes and your books and your random photos. I’d really like to add a caveat about keeping it orderly and clean-ish, but I feel that might make your place less yours, which entirely defeats the purpose.

Here’s what I’ve decided on this: Home is not so much defined by the address that your bills go to, or the location of all those fancy shoes I never wear anymore anyway. Home is the place where I can let my guard down, where I feel most myself, and where I’m surrounded by people who love me. As such, I have several homes at the moment. That’s just how I roll. I’m calling this one completed.

Do not text and drive. Ever. As your mom says, you need to “concentrate”.

Totally on top of it. I exercise extreme self-control while the vehicle is in motion. If I’m going to die in a fiery car crash its going to be for a much less embarrassing reason than texting.

Continue to stay in touch with your body. Exercise, nourish, and strengthen it in the best way you know how. I want you to feel and be healthy for a very long time. It’s not impossible that we’ll be in the same nursing home someday and I want you to stay cute enough to rock a colostomy bag.

I have no idea how to rate myself on this one. In general, I feel like my body and I did not do well in 2012. I’d like to spend less time thinking about my body in 2013, which isn’t to say I’m going to go all “People of Wal-mart”, I plan to get my money’s worth out of my gym membership, but I’m hoping to spend a lot less time thinking and talking about my body in 2013.

Decorate your own Christmas tree. Like a real one, where you go and pick out at least 75% of the decorations and put a lopsided star on top. May I suggest candy canes as decoration?

I feel like this is part of the first one about having a home, and while I did help Chris decorate his Christmas tree this year, we just used all the same decorations as he’s used the last few years. But I don’t really mind. I find shopping for things like Christmas decorations to be somewhat overwhelming and Chris’s tree looked really nice. So this is a big fat failure but I’m kind of OK with that.

Get moving on this book we’re supposed to be writing. I look to you to be the leader on this project. Lead by writing, as I’m greatly influenced by peer pressure.

Well, while you’re off writing a book that has nothing to do with the book we were supposed to write together, I’ve been setting up a publishing company andpublishing other people’s books. And some of my writing is making its way into some books – first in the book Sucker for Love, and I’ve also been asked to contribute to another writer’s anthology but I have no idea when that’s going to be published.  So we are both producing books in one form or another, now we just need to do it together.  So, in other words, keep this on the list.

Keep your standards high when it comes to your romantic partnership. I know this whole “grown-up relationship” thing is kind of new to you, but I really think you’re getting the hang of it. I would like to shake you really hard to ensure that you learn from all of my mistakes, but I think this long, drawn-out, whiny way that I communicate about my failed relationship seems pretty effective. 

Nailed it. I’ve gotten so good at this grown up relationship thing, it’s not even funny. Mostly because Chris makes it so easy. But it still counts.

On a somewhat related note; don’t be afraid that you’re going to screw up this whole love story that you and Chris have going on. You’re not. If it gets screwed up, both of you will be able to take a bow. So just . . . be present in your relationship. Recognize where you are emotionally. And please, don’t be afraid to plan ahead for the life you want to have together.

Nailed this one too. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent so much of the last year obsessing about my physical issues that I didn’t have time to obsess about my relationship, but sometimes I go whole weeks without worrying that we’re going to break up. That’s called progress, baby.

Keep storytelling. It’s a gift you have and it should be shared. Most importantly, make sure to post it on youtube. If I can’t be there, then I need to be able to access it later.

I haven’t had the bug for getting up on stage lately, not sure why, but as a result I have only the one story to show from 2012. However, I’m still well ensconced in the storytelling world. And I’ll always tell stories – just not always on a stage. Or in front of a camera.

Consider getting a kitten. Like, one you’ve picked out yourself and named after some random fictional character or a TV star from an 80s sitcom.

As I said at the 6 month check in. I would LOVE to get a kitten. But now is not the time. You know the whole “many homes” thing from the first item? Well a kitten would totally slow my roll.

Self-host your blog. Get legit, girl.

Meh. I love this blog, and I wish I had more time to write on it, but one thing I’ve learned over the last year, is that for now at least, it’s always going to be at the low-end of my priority list because it exists purely for my own indulgence. If I were part of a niche, (like mommy blogging), or even if I was still a young and crazy single girl writing about my wild dating exploits, I might be able to leverage the blog to some personal or financial advantage. But as is…its just a creative writing outlet, which I TOTALLY NEED TO DO MORE OF. But paying for hosting isn’t going to make me do that. Becoming independently wealthy and having much more free time will though, so put that on the list for 2013.

Tap into your insight when it comes to your own emotions. Listen to yourself. Listen for that little tingly noise that sounds when your comfort level has been surpassed. Once you hear it, do something about it. Talk to someone, write it out, sing in the car in your loudest voice. Just don’t stuff it down until it erupts in a flood of tears and incoherence. You’ve got a bunch of people who’ve got your back but we’re only useful when you communicate, even if it’s initially in a series of bumps and false starts.

I’m getting better at this. Chris and I totally had a serious conversation that didn’t involve any crying, and then one where I only cried for a few minutes before I was able to speak. I’ll keep working on it though.

 Leave the country at least once in the year 2012. You’re the type of person who may very well get old and become a homebody who doesn’t drive and eats ¼ cup of raisins for breakfast every morning. You need to travel while you’re still spry and can figure out how to use a bidet and tolerate people with weird accents.

This didn’t happen, due to health and financial reasons. But I did get right up against the border with Canada and looked over it and pointed at Canadian people, so I get half a point for that.

Make a three-year plan for your career. Map out something long-term and realistic, but challenging. It could be writing a novel. Officially becoming a freelancer. Searching the want ads until you find something that you’ll really love. I can’t pretend to guess what would be the absolutely perfect job for you, but I want you to focus on figuring it out. You are so talented and I would like you to be emotionally and financially satisfied by the work you do.

Done, and thy name is Possibilities Publishing Company.

Attend BlogHer’12 with me. I promise you, you will be inspired.

Not my fault. But I still like the idea…but maybe instead of traveling somewhere together and having to pay for a hotel AND conference registration fees we could just have a girls weekend away somewhere fun?

Challenge yourself physically at least once this year. Like, run a 5K. Swim across a small lake by yourself. Go camping without the benefit of an electrical hookup. Something outside of your comfort zone that requires the use of your body.

I totally did this!! I road a bike (for the first time in like 15 years) 18 miles down a mountain. I may have ridden the breaks for the first 5 miles, but after that I totally rode at a normal speed. For me, a normal speed for me, which is to say slowly. But I went over a few little jumps and totally felt like a badass several times. Not the times when then 9-year-old passed me, but plenty of other times.

Acknowledge the fact that you are not some sort of grouchy curmudgeon who believes the worst in people. Yes, you had Drew pegged long before I did. Yes, you are better than me at ejecting people from your life who are toxic. But at the end of the day, you are this loving, positive force to the people around you. Own it. Own it enough to direct it toward yourself.

First of all, 90% of people suck 90% of the time. That’s just science. So me being a grouchy curmudgeon is a normal response to life.  Also, I feel that my cynicism is a necessary balance to your endless amounts of faith in humanity (notice I didn’t call it naiveté? You’re welcome.)  You need my darkness, girl.

And lastly, I’m going to save the best for last,and quote your very words back to you. They’re brilliant. Never waste a second of your time or energy on anyone who doesn’t immediately find you hilarious, brilliant, talented, loving and perfect just the way you are.

This is just something that everyone should always do, so we should keep it on our lists forever.

 

New Year’s Resolutions Progress Report July 2, 2012

Remember back at the beginning of the year when my bossy know it all, very wise BFF, over at Do These Kids Make Me Look Crazy? wrote my New Year’s Resolutions for me? Well, since we’re about half way through the year, we thought it was time for a progress report.

I have to admit, I took these resolutions much more seriously than I’ve ever taken any of the resolutions I’ve ever written for myself. I’m not saying my success rate will be any higher, but I definitely thought about them a lot more and have more guilt over the ones I ignored failed to achieve. Although, the year isn’t over yet, and like in grade school, a progress report is nothing more than a heads up to get your act together. I expect to report nothing different great things at the end of the year. And also like  school progress reports and professional performance evaluations, I’m full up on defensiveness an creative explanations.

Behold:

1) Find and make a home. A real home. Whether it’s by yourself or with your man or with a cute little kitten named Rhett. Find a place you adore and want to stay in for a long time. A place that feels like yours. It has to hold all your important stuff, like your shoes and your books and your random photos. I’d really like to add a caveat about keeping it orderly and clean-ish, but I feel that might make your place less yours, which entirely defeats the purpose.

Technically, I didn’t do this. BUT, I would like to encourage a more liberal than literal interpretation, in which case I’m not doing too bad.  I moved out of the crazy place I was living in, and into a (so far)  nice normal place, and I like the room very much and feel more comfortable and more at home there than I ever did in my last place. And Chris gave me a key to his place, which made me feel more at home there as well, so I think if you add up my place and his place, I’m at least more settled and anchored than I was when this was written. Grade: B-, and I suggest that it get carried over for next year. Bonus Points: my room is actually quite neat and orderly, which I’ll bet no one saw coming:

2) Do not text and drive. Ever. As your mom says, you need to “concentrate”.

I do a pretty good job of this although, in all honestly I could probably be a little better. Grade: B+. Bonus Points:  I NEVER talk while I’m driving without my hands free device.

3) Continue to stay in touch with your body. Exercise, nourish, and strengthen it in the best way you know how. I want you to feel and be healthy for a very long time. It’s not impossible that we’ll be in the same nursing home someday and I want you to stay cute enough to rock a colostomy bag.

I’d like to say I thought about this resolution a lot, but really, any achievements I’ve made on this point are coincidence. But that still totally counts. So, I got back into Pilates, and its made a huge difference in how my body and I get along.  Chris and I have also made an effort to be active as much as possible on the weekends, and I can now hike 3 miles without wanting to stab him in the eye, so that’s something. We also joined a gym (that’s technically still under construction, but whatever) but I’m very excited for their big indoor pool and Pilates/yoga room. OH, and I’ve also gotten really good at following my new low sugar, gluten-free diet and have learned more about what my body responds best too.  Most significantly I’ve learned that if I under-eat by even a few hundred calories a day, my body will retaliate by swelling up like a water balloon. So I don’t do that anymore. Grade: A. Bonus Points: I’ve taught myself to like buckwheat granola. Its got all kinds of raw, and “sprouted seeds” in it, which are super healthy (apparently) but taste suspiciously like dirt.

4) Decorate your own Christmas tree. Like a real one, where you go and pick out at least 75% of the decorations and put a lopsided star on top. May I suggest candy canes as decoration?

I totally get a pass on this one because it would be weird if I had decorated a Christmas tree between January and July. Ohhhh, but if I was smart, I totally would have gotten a tree and decorated it, just so I could get an A+ on this one. Damnit. Grade: N/A.

5) Get moving on this book we’re supposed to be writing. I look to you to be the leader on this project. Lead by writing, as I’m greatly influenced by peer pressure.

Ummm, well. Ok, here’s the thing. I have written a couple of essays that would go with the book, but then I started rethinking the focus of the book, and then I got caught up in learning how to publish books, which is totally going to help us when we do finish this book. And that is taking up every minute of my free time right now, so… technically, the book hasn’t moved forward. BUT because I’m becoming an expert at publishing and promotion, once we do finish the book, everything else will go so much faster. Grade: C++

6) Keep your standards high when it comes to your romantic partnership. I know this whole “grown-up relationship” thing is kind of new to you, but I really think you’re getting the hang of it. I would like to shake you really hard to ensure that you learn from all of my mistakes, but I think this long, drawn-out, whiny way that I communicate about my failed relationship seems pretty effective.

I think I’ve made some progress here. I’m much more comfortable with the whole “grown up relationship” thing than I was this time last year, or even six months ago. I’ve still got some work to do, but I’m actually pretty impressed with myself. Most of the time. Grade: A- (But maybe I should actually have Chris grade me on this one?)

7) On a somewhat related note; don’t be afraid that you’re going to screw up this whole love story that you and Chris have going on. You’re not. If it gets screwed up, both of you will be able to take a bow. So just . . . be present in your relationship. Recognize where you are emotionally. And please, don’t be afraid to plan ahead for the life you want to have together.

I’m working on it, and as I said above, I’m getting better. But I still have attacks of insecurity that make me ask, in all seriousness, if the fact that I don’t like roller coasters will one day make him feel like he settled. I see now the absurdity of that question, but at the time, it felt really reasonable. And I’m totally better at the planning for the future thing. I mean, I signed a year contract at the same gym as him for Pete’s sake.   Grade: B- Bonus Points: For doing this.

8) Keep storytelling. It’s a gift you have and it should be shared. Most importantly, make sure to post it on YouTube. If I can’t be there, then I need to be able to access it later.

I’m assuming you define “keep storytelling” as getting on stage and telling stories. Which I did. Once this year. BUT, if we define “keep storytelling” as “stay a part of the community, keep learning about the craft, keep finding new ways to stretch myself creatively” then I’m rocking this. So far this year I’ve: taught one class and one boot camp, directed my first show, started writing a weekly column for the SpeakeasyDC blog, which, by the way I also started and am the Managing Editor of, so…  Grade: A-.

9) Consider getting a kitten. Like, one you’ve picked out yourself and named after some random fictional character or a TV star from an 80s sitcom.

I wish! I want a kitten so bad. One that will cuddle with me, and chase imaginary bugs along the wall, and let me make funny YouTube videos of her…but kittens aren’t allowed at either of the places where I live. So really I’ve made the responsible choice in not following this resolution. Grade: A Bonus Points: I haven’t bought a stuffed kitten yet that I pretend is real.

10) Self-host your blog. Get legit, girl.

I have plans. It’s not time for this yet, but I have plans. Grade: C+

11) Tap into your insight when it comes to your own emotions. Listen to yourself. Listen for that little tingly noise that sounds when your comfort level has been surpassed. Once you hear it, do something about it. Talk to someone, write it out, sing in the car in your loudest voice. Just don’t stuff it down until it erupts in a flood of tears and incoherence. You’ve got a bunch of people who’ve got your back but we’re only useful when you communicate, even if it’s initially in a series of bumps and false starts.

I think about, and reference this resolution ALL THE TIME.  Usually when I’m crying incoherently. I think I’ve made some progress… Ok, so I WAS crying when I asked Chris about feeling like he’s settled for me over the roller coaster thing, BUT I was not crying incoherently. Grade: C-

12) Leave the country at least once in the year 2012. You’re the type of person who may very well get old and become a homebody who doesn’t drive and eats ¼ cup of raisins for breakfast every morning. You need to travel while you’re still spry and can figure out how to use a bidet and tolerate people with weird accents.

This might not happen. I was going to go to Denmark again this summer, but the discount airline stopped flying from the US, and as of now I can’t afford to pay normal airline prices to go to Europe. Plus, it ate up a lot of my vacation time last year and I’m kind of liking the idea of having flexibility for more domestic travel, like, ahem, trips to Charlotte, NC. For example. Grade: N/A Bonus Points: we could decide go to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls when we go visit my parents in August.

13) Make a three-year plan for your career. Map out something long-term and realistic, but challenging. It could be writing a novel. Officially becoming a freelancer. Searching the want ads until you find something that you’ll really love. I can’t pretend to guess what would be the absolutely perfect job for you, but I want you to focus on figuring it out. You are so talented and I would like you to be emotionally and financially satisfied by the work you do.

I think I’ve figured it out. I’m not ready to lay it out for public inspection yet, but I’ve got the makings of a plan and I think it’s a really good one. And might happen in less than three years. Grade: A+

14) Attend BlogHer’12 with me. I promise you, you will be inspired.

Did we miss this? Because I’m totally in. Grade: N/A

15) Challenge yourself physically at least once this year. Like, run a 5K. Swim across a small lake by yourself. Go camping without the benefit of an electrical hookup. Something outside of your comfort zone that requires the use of your body.

I was totally going to do a 5K run thingy, but it sold out before I could register. But, I did go to a giant amusement park and rode several rides, including a roller coaster, which was WAY outside my comfort zone, (and technically required the use of my body – there was a lot of walking and climbing into and out of seats. Fun Fact: I’m super uncoordinated when it comes to climbing into and out of rides) and I’m going to go back and do it again at least two more times this summer. I’m also going to go kayaking more than once this year, maybe one time in a solo kayak even, and that is definitely outside my comfort zone and requires physical exertion.  Grade: B

16) Acknowledge the fact that you are not some sort of grouchy curmudgeon who believes the worst in people. Yes, you had Drew pegged long before I did. Yes, you are better than me at ejecting people from your life who are toxic. But at the end of the day, you are this loving, positive force to the people around you. Own it. Own it enough to direct it toward yourself.

False. I AM a grouchy misanthrope, and my co-workers and anyone who calls my office will back me up on this. Grade: F

17) And lastly, I’m going to save the best for last,and quote your very words back to you. They’re brilliant. Never waste a second of your time or energy on anyone who doesn’t immediately find you hilarious, brilliant, talented, loving and perfect just the way you are.

Since I don’t like people very much its very easy for me to walk away from people who don’t find me hilarious. Not that that’s ever happened, mind you, but if it did, they’d be history in a nano second. Grade: A


You can go read her progress report on the resolutions I wrote for her, here. And I just want to say its totally not a competition.

(But if it were, I’d totally win.)

 

This Side of Normal February 8, 2012

You know what’s normal? Having a romantic relationship last a year.

You know what’s NOT normal?

This girl.

This is me. Crazy eyes.


See, Chris and I celebrated our one year anniversary this week. And unlike our 6 month anniversary, I was totally calm leading up to this milestone. I wasn’t even a little bit superstitious, afraid of jinxing it, or even particularly emotional.

See how much progress I’m making?

Yeah, don’t get too excited…

Our anniversary technically fell on a Sunday, which I think we can all agree is the least romantic day of the week, plus I was going to be gone at rehearsal for the show I’m co-directing from 1:30-5:30, so I suggested we deputize Saturday for purposes of celebration. But we didn’t really plan anything specific because it came at the end of a long and stressful week for Chris and so the most appealing option for both of us was just having a quiet weekend together.

Saturday morning we decided we’d take a trip to a brand new gluten free bakery for treats, and as we were leaving the bakery we decided to stop in at a coffee shop, sample our GF confections and do some people watching. It was perfect.

But as we walked back to the car through cold rain we started to rethink our plan of dinner in Old Town, and opted instead for Cheesecake Factory where we had our second date.

Traffic was terrible and it was a stressful drive. We waited for more than an hour to be seated, and…well, all I’m going to say about the actual dining experience was that Cheesecake Factor hates people with gluten allergies.

But returning home to the leftover GF chocolate chip cookie lifted the mood considerably.

Sunday morning we made breakfast together and slow danced in the kitchen to “If It’s Love” by Train while the sausage was browning.

And then I used the sausage to make a frittata. Which I may or may not have burned. (But the burned part stuck to the pan and the part you could actually scoop out was delicious, thank you very much).

Chris made dinner while I was at rehearsal, and we had a relaxed and intimate evening where we ate, watched most of the Super Bowl and ate our dessert of strawberries with cheesecake and whip cream in bed before exchanging sappy cards and going to sleep early, our stomachs bursting from the cheesecake and whip cream. (Ok, the truth is, I was the only one bursting from the whip cream. I kept overfilling my mouth when I sprayed it in).

It was a really, really, great weekend.

And yet…

That night as I tried to fall asleep, some weird thoughts started poking my brain.

Things like:

It WAS a great weekend. I love the fact that an afternoon spent in a coffee shop feels special when I do it with Chris.

And while things didn’t go perfectly (bad traffic, bad dinner, burnt Frittata etc.) it didn’t matter, and that is something special. I like that we’re past a point where I need to pretend his driving doesn’t stress me out, and we hardly notice a burnt frittata.

BUT at the same time, it could have been any weekend. Does that mean something?

I mean, there really wasn’t any sparkle in the weekend. You know that little bit of fairy dust that seems to cover all parts of a new relationship, when you go out of your way to surprise and wow each other? That’s sparkle.

At first, I was fine with a sparkle free anniversary weekend, in part because I still find comfortable and familiar to be novel and exciting.

Until I started worrying there would never be sparkle again.

Were we already in a rut? Is that what happens at the one year mark? Because seriously, I have no idea what happens at the one year mark. I’m so far into unfamiliar territory I feel like I should have a passport.

This makes me panicky.

Suddenly I have perfect recall of every episode of shows like According to Jim, ‘Till Death, and Everybody Loves Raymond. Shows where wives are always nagging their husbands to be romantic and the husbands are forever rolling their eyes and reluctantly agreeing while clearly resenting every minute. Shows where the comedy comes from a premise that romance and long term relationships are mutually exclusive.

Is it funny because its true? This is what I’m trying to decide at 2am.

I’m scared that, by no choice or effort of my own I will become one of those sparkle starved nagging women and Chris will become one of those lazy, anti-sparkle guys.

What if that’s as unavoidable a law of nature as the ones that make it so your boobs eventually rest on your belt, reality TV seems disgusting, and driving faster than 30mph always feels excessive?

.

In the light of day I struggled for perspective.

I tried reminding myself of the facts because I like to believe this will help to quiet the crazy.

Fact. I have hit the jackpot with Chris, of this I am sure, and for the last year every day with him has felt above average and full of sparkle, so it was silly to get worked up because a weekend – which just happened to be one year from the day of our first date – had only the same amount of sparkle that every other day had.

Fact. I’m not the type of girl who needs lots of sparkle. I’m low maintenance. I like the steak more than the sizzle.

Fact. A good bra will always keep the girls in place.

This never works to quiet the crazy. I seriously don’t know why I bother.

.

Part of the problem is that I’d been focused on the one year milestone for 364 days.

Every milestone I invented between days 1 and 365 were like a relationship advent calendar meant to break up the days and distract me with treats until the big day.

Getting to the one year mark represented achieving normal. It meant not being the girl whose relationship history consisted of crazy stories and responses like “Where do you keep finding those douchebags?”

I told myself that at one year I’d be able to trust that he wasn’t too good to be true and that I’d have figured out how to do the whole functional relationship thing and I could stop worrying I was going to ruin it by saying the wrong thing.

.

And all of that happened, but it actually happened somewhere around the 10 month mark. At some point I just started to relax, feeling confident I was going to glide over that finish line.

Which I did. And then sailed right past it.

Into…whatever comes after one year.

I had no new goal to focus my anxieties on. No new advent calendar to start to break up the time and distract myself with chocolate.

I felt unmooered.

I felt like I was flying without a net.

.

Which is why the night after our anniversary was spent with me randomly dissolving into tears.

Each time Chris would calmly wipe away a tear or hug me and ask me what was on my mind. And I would say I didn’t know while crying harder, and he would say “Ok, well, whenever you figure it out I’ll be here to listen.”

Which, to be fair, is a conversation we have about once a month. Sometimes the crazy just builds up to the point where tears are the only way to release the pressure. True story.

.

Anyway, in the past it could sometimes take many hours before I could talk to him about whatever had fermented the crazy that time.

But on this night, I thought about the New Year’s Resolution that I was given to use my words more than my tears, and I worked really hard to find words sooner than later.

After only about an hour of off and on again crying, I managed something along the lines of “What about the sparkle?” And somehow Chris understood exactly what I meant, and we were able to have a good talk about feelings. And I have to say, words really are SO much more useful than tears. Who knew?

.

We talked about the appropriate application of sparkle in a relationship that already feels above average.

I agreed to stop pretending I’m low maintenance, and to own the fact that I need a little sparkle now and again.

Chris explained the difference between TV and real life, and how we can decide what kind of couple we are. And also that we’ll always enjoy reality TV together.

I promised to keep working toward being able to have feelings conversations that involved more words than snot.

As I started to feel better I tried to explain a little about my unmoored feeling.

“I’m just not sure what to do on this side of…”

“This side of normal?” Chris asked with a smile.

Yes! Exactly. A relationship that lasts more than a year is normal. Being happy and secure in a mutually rewarding relationship is normal…and that’s where we live now.

.

I’m so screwed.

Anniversary Self Portrait

 

Guest Post: 2012 New Year’s Resolutions for Me. January 24, 2012

Please welcome Tara from DoTheseKidsMakeMeLookCrazy. She let me write out her New Year’s Resolutions for her, which was way fun because I enjoy telling people what to do. Then I let her write out mine.

Now she thinks she’s the boss of me.

.

But that might be ok.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mer and I have been friends for 23 years.

That’s longer than twice the length of my marriage.

It’s nearly four times the age of my youngest child.

It’s over five times the amount of time I’ve lived in my current home.

I totally wrote all those statistical-sounding facts because math confuses Mer and I want to remind her that I’m smarter than her.

Why is it important that I appear to be smarter?

So she’ll let me control her, err, make decisions for her.

Kind of like how Britney Spears’ dad gets to spend all of Britney’s money because she shaves her head and drinks a lot of alcohol when she gets sad.

But Mer, regrettably, does not have a lot of money. And she has a freakish amount of hair that she only rarely brushes, let alone shaves.

Therefore, I have to assert my influence over her via less, um, dramatic ways.

I’m writing her New Year’s resolutions.

Me. Divorced, broke, questionably employed, chronically hungry, mother of two.

Don’t worry, I’ve totally got this.

I learned it from watching her.

Are you ready, Mer? Listen up, girl.

Find and make a home. A real home. Whether it’s by yourself or with your man or with a cute little kitten named Rhett. Find a place you adore and want to stay in for a long time. A place that feels like yours. It has to hold all your important stuff, like your shoes and your books and your random photos. I’d really like to add a caveat about keeping it orderly and clean-ish, but I feel that might make your place less yours, which entirely defeats the purpose.

Do not text and drive. Ever. As your mom says, you need to “concentrate”.

Continue to stay in touch with your body. Exercise, nourish, and strengthen it in the best way you know how. I want you to feel and be healthy for a very long time. It’s not impossible that we’ll be in the same nursing home someday and I want you to stay cute enough to rock a colostomy bag.

Decorate your own Christmas tree. Like a real one, where you go and pick out at least 75% of the decorations and put a lopsided star on top. May I suggest candy canes as decoration?

Get moving on this book we’re supposed to be writing. I look to you to be the leader on this project. Lead by writing, as I’m greatly influenced by peer pressure.

Keep your standards high when it comes to your romantic partnership. I know this whole “grown-up relationship” thing is kind of new to you, but I really think you’re getting the hang of it. I would like to shake you really hard to ensure that you learn from all of my mistakes, but I think this long, drawn-out, whiny way that I communicate about my failed relationship seems pretty effective.

On a somewhat related note; don’t be afraid that you’re going to screw up this whole love story that you and Chris have going on. You’re not. If it gets screwed up, both of you will be able to take a bow. So just . . . be present in your relationship. Recognize where you are emotionally. And please, don’t be afraid to plan ahead for the life you want to have together.

Keep storytelling. It’s a gift you have and it should be shared. Most importantly, make sure to post it on youtube. If I can’t be there, then I need to be able to access it later.

Consider getting a kitten. Like, one you’ve picked out yourself and named after some random fictional character or a TV star from an 80s sitcom.

Self-host your blog. Get legit, girl.

Tap into your insight when it comes to your own emotions. Listen to yourself. Listen for that little tingly noise that sounds when your comfort level has been surpassed. Once you hear it, do something about it. Talk to someone, write it out, sing in the car in your loudest voice. Just don’t stuff it down until it erupts in a flood of tears and incoherence. You’ve got a bunch of people who’ve got your back but we’re only useful when you communicate, even if it’s initially in a series of bumps and false starts.

Leave the country at least once in the year 2012. You’re the type of person who may very well get old and become a homebody who doesn’t drive and eats ¼ cup of raisins for breakfast every morning. You need to travel while you’re still spry and can figure out how to use a bidet and tolerate people with weird accents.

Make a three-year plan for your career. Map out something long-term and realistic, but challenging. It could be writing a novel. Officially becoming a freelancer. Searching the want ads until you find something that you’ll really love. I can’t pretend to guess what would be the absolutely perfect job for you, but I want you to focus on figuring it out. You are so talented and I would like you to be emotionally and financially satisfied by the work you do.

Attend BlogHer’12 with me. I promise you, you will be inspired.

Challenge yourself physically at least once this year. Like, run a 5K. Swim across a small lake by yourself. Go camping without the benefit of an electrical hookup. Something outside of your comfort zone that requires the use of your body.

Acknowledge the fact that you are not some sort of grouchy curmudgeon who believes the worst in people. Yes, you had Drew pegged long before I did. Yes, you are better than me at ejecting people from your life who are toxic. But at the end of the day, you are this loving, positive force to the people around you. Own it. Own it enough to direct it toward yourself.

And lastly, I’m going to save the best for last,and quote your very words back to you. They’re brilliant. Never waste a second of your time or energy on anyone who doesn’t immediately find you hilarious, brilliant, talented, loving and perfect just the way you are.

I love you. Now go kick 2012’s ass.

Tara

 

Resolved January 4, 2012

It’s that time of year again.

Time for reflections and resolutions.

In my Year in Review post from last year, I said goodbye to a year that had been filled with reluctant change and loss, and was looking forward to a year filled with purposeful changes like going to grad school for creative writing, moving to a new city, and leaving my job.

Which might be why that post reads a little like it was written by a manic cheerleader on speed.

.

I’d declared that my theme for 2011 would be “No Risk. No Reward,” mostly in attempt to make me brave enough to quit my job, move to a new city and start graduate school. And even though none of those things happened, 2011 was still pretty kick ass.

After all, it’s the year I met Chris. Which would totally be enough by itself.

But wait, there’s more.

Even though I never checked back with this list after hitting “publish” on the blog post, I totally rocked my resolutions:

2011 Resolutions:

1. Do at least one thing that scares the crap out of me (aside from starting grad school).
Um, how about I let myself fall in love? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Check!
2. Seek out more performance opportunities. Try to move outside my storytelling and performance comfort zone a little bit.
I was on stage at least 6 times in 2011, which is  at least 4 more times than in 2010. Check!
3. Read more.
Thank you Kindle – Check and check!
4. Write more. Especially for money. Often the freelance stuff isn’t exciting or very creative, but it still feels awesome to get paid for words I’ve written. I never want to lose that feeling .
If we count blogging, check! But there wasn’t much money made from writing this year… although I did set some things in motion that should hopefully lead to some cash for words in 2012, so we’ll give this a half check.  
5-8. Dance more; Laugh more; Trust more; Believe more. In myself. In my friends and family. And in the Universe to know what it’s doing.
Thank you Chris, check, check, check and check!
9. Make fewer excuses.
 I’m not sure about this one actually, because I wasn’t really paying attention, so I’m just going to ahead and say sure, totally killed this one. Check!
10. Judge less (except reality TV people. And celebrities. I’m still gonna judge the fuck out them.)
Yes. I was given a lot of opportunity to practice being without judgement of my friend’s lives, and it made a lot of things much easier this year. I also watched less reality TV, so that probably helped a little too. Check!
11. Pace myself with what I commit to, so I don’t get overwhelmed and drop the ball on a bunch of things (again).
I think I did ok with this. I can’t think of any major balls that I dropped or commitments I flaked out on. So…check and mate, baby!
.
And right at the end of 2011 I majorly changed my perspective on my job as well. When Chris broke his collar-bone, my boss let me use sick time – of which we have unlimited days – without so much as a sideways glance, to be with him at doctor’s appointments and during his surgery. And when I was in the office everyone was super supportive with endless sympathetic ears.
At some point when I wasn’t looking, my co-workers became extended family and my office an extended home. I’ve heard of people saying this about their work places, but I always assumed they were lying, or just had really, really sad home lives. And while I do kind of have a sad home life, that’s totally not what this is about.
Plus, the unchallenging nature of my work lets me have a lot of time to pursue other projects and freelance work to supplement my income, and that ain’t nothin’. Not by a long shot.
 All of this has gotten me to thinking that sometimes what you do to earn a living isn’t necessarily as important as how you do it…I’m interested to see what this new perspective will yield in 2012.
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Last year I ended my post by wishing everyone reading that they have the year they need, even if it’s not the year they expect, which is exactly what I got in return.
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So you’re up 2012, let’s see what you’ve got.
Bring. It. On.
 

Year in Review January 13, 2011

Apparently its a blogger rule that you HAVE to write a New Year post in January.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

I’m not usually real big on following other people’s rules…

BUT

I totally love new beginnings, fresh starts, sentimentality, opportunities for introspection, self-analysis, and looking for meaning in every little thing.

Love. It.

Oh – and I REALLY like making lists. And goals. Love setting goals. Although, oddly, I don’t get much satisfaction out of achieving my goals…which is maybe why I usually don’t…but I love setting them. Hmmm, maybe that’s why I really enjoyed my master’s program, but didn’t really enjoy working in that field…hmm…well, we’ll just go ahead and add that to the introspection list.

Anyway, given all of these things about me, it should come as little surprise that I enjoy the month of January, ie. THE START OF THE NEW YEAR, when it’s not only acceptable to be this way, but ENCOURAGED.  

This is my season people.

And so I bring you: My Reflections and Lessons from 2010

&

 My Predictions and Goals for 2011.

(You might want to refill your coffee cup and get comfortable. This could take a while. Don’t say you weren’t warned).

Reflections:

1. 2010 will be known as a “transitional year”.

It was the first year since 2002 where I worked in a full-time office job. It confirmed that sitting at a desk doing someone else’s work on someone else’s schedule, following someone else’s rules and dealing with everyone else’s personality quirks and issues (also known as “office culture”), is simply not a good fit for me.

BUT

This job also provided:

  •  structure and balance in a time when I couldn’t create it for myself,
  • a “loaner identity” at a time when I’d lost mine,
  • and financial stability at a time when I was pretty much incapable of earning a living in any other way.

And as a result, I was finally able to find myself. It was a lovely reunion really. 

Post reunion with my (real) self, we quickly figured out what we wanted to be when we grew up: A creative writing professor (and hopefully also published novelist). And we decided the time to grow up was now. I started researching MFA programs (Masters in Fine Arts) in February 2010 and as of January 15, 2011 will have finished submitting all of my applications.  
 
2. Despite it being a transition year, in which I spent more hours than I care to count sitting at a brown desk staring at a white wall, there were still lots of unexpected moments which served to keep me entertained and add more depth and color to my life. Some were good, some were sad, some were on purpose and some were by accident. All are worth noting.  
 

Some highlights (in no particular order, so don’t go reading into where you show up in the list): 

 
I unexpectedly found a wonderful friend in one of my co-workers. Susan makes this job, and sometimes my life, bearable.
 
 
 
In March, my very dear friends Miller and Rasmus announced they and their new, beautiful baby boy Hank, were moving to Denmark. And by August they were gone. With the exception of one year right after we graduated from college, Miller and I had never lived more than a few miles from each since our first day at William Smith College in 1994. It was, without question, the absolute best move they could make for themselves and their family. But it was the biggest social transition I’ve had to face since graduating from college. It’s still sometimes hard to believe I can’t just drop in on them for super glue or a decent meal. But thank god for VoIP phones, Facebook, digital cameras and video cameras because they all let me stay connected to their daily lives, so they don’t feel so far way. And I now have my first passport, my first savings account, and my first international trip planned for next summer. And a place to flee should I accidentally become an enemy combatant of the state.
 
 
 
My parents came down to visit, for the first time in about 6 years.  We had a great time, and they were even lucky enough to get to attend a storytelling event.
 
 
My wonderful friend Pam, the person who got me this job, and was my go-to girl for processing drama and life decisions over dinners and endless cups of coffee, fell in love and moved to West Virginia.  Pam and I started out as roommates and we had a deal that our house was a judgement free zone – we could say anything, confess to any emotion, act or intention and not be judged. Most of our conversations had to do with men and sex. Pam knows many things, and has taught me much over the years. This transition was a little easier to handle because for the first few months she came back frequently. The hardest part was getting used to the idea that we couldn’t have any more emergency coffee dates to dissect some drama in my life. Although, for the last several months there has been very little drama that has needed dissecting, so that’s worked out well :) I try to bring the open acceptance of each other’s choices that Pam and I have to my other relationships at all times. To varying degrees of success. But its good to have goals.
 
 
 
I joined a boxing boot camp. It doesn’t sound like much, but a) it required I face all of my old gym class anxieties and some of my social phobias, and b) it was the hardest workout I’ve ever experienced. c) it involves running outside. I hate running, and I especially hate running outside. But I did it anyway. I was hooked almost immediately, and started to experience my body in a whole new way.
 
 
I also did a ropes course, which meant facing some serious fears, examining some belief systems, and also experiencing my body in a whole new way. It was awesome.
 
 
 By far the strangest moment of the year was when I had my picture taken with George W. Bush. He was the keynote speaker at our annual conference, and well… I don’t know. He was funny his speech. In a good way, not in a “that’s not how you use that word” kind of way. OK he was funny in that way too. But I figure, a wold leader is a world leader. Whateves. Don’t judge me. I used this picture in my Happy New Year’s Card this year with the caption: May your new year be filled with unexpected moments. I think a good caption makes it hurt less. Oh, and I feel the need to say I was incredibly hung-over and fighting a bad cold when I took this picture. Which is why I look so pasty and…blech.
  
 
And speaking of our annual conference (by “our” I mean the place where I work), it was in Dallas, TX and I had to be there for almost a week, and I was DREADING it hard-core. All of my past experiences with annual meetings and events in general had been bad. Very, very, BAD. Like bat shit crazy co-workers and lots of tears and no sleep and sore feet and changes in employment status, kind of bad. But this one was good. Fun almost. My boss stayed a good boss, instead of going crazy like my previous bosses. My co-workers were sane and reasonable and easy to work with. We even had some fun. Including getting utterly and completely wasted in a wine bar. Everyone, including our boss. It was one of the funnest and funniest nights I’ve had in a really long time.
 
 
 
And woven through all of these special or unique moments were lots of normal moments. My annual summer trip to Charlotte, NC to visit my friend sister since junior high school, Twig, and her family; Twig and her family’s annual fall trip to DC; lots of storytelling shows; lots of laughing and lots of hugging. Maybe a little drinking. And another year of Mer’s Summer O’Fun…. but I can’t seem to find pictures of any of those events. So here’s me hugging some people…
 
 
 
                                                                                                       

Lessons Learned in 2010

All of the lessons I learned last year stem from one kind of lightbulb moment that I had over the summer. See, I’m a little bit of a control freak. I used to believe I could control everything in my life by just applying the right pressure, finding the right words, wanting it badly enough.
 
This is the place where crazy gets made. Seriously.
 
I lived in that place a lot last year, and as a result, a lot of serious crazy got produced. And then one day I woke up and realized I didn’t want to do that, be that, live like that any more. I finally recognized that the sense of control was mostly an illusion, and the things I did have control over (like my own behavior) I was distorting and crushing because I was holding on so tight.
 
I realized a few key things.
       1. Not everything needs to be resolved immediately. Not every relationship has to be defined on the first date, every disagreement is not the end of a friendship, not every reunion is a new beginning. Sometimes what looks like an ending is actually a beginning, or vice versa. By trying to control what each moment is, and by trying to define and identify every beginning, middle, and end of every interaction and episode in my life, I run a high risk of getting it wrong.
        2. Life is a novel with many chapters, most of which are still writing themselves. I think I’ve finally reached an age where I can take the long view of my life and see the patterns and the waves. I can look at friends who I’ve known for years and see that the lows and the highs that seemed so all consuming at the time, fade into a wavy pattern when you get enough distance. I can see that while there are craters of unimaginable depth and peaks of blinding intensity, and empty places and over-crowded places, all merge into a beautiful tapestry of a rich and long relationship. I have learned to trust that when the connection is real, you can ride out all the highs and the lows and the outcome is beautiful and solid. I think mostly of friendships as I write this, but know that it applies also to romantic and familial relationships too. I find an immense amount of comfort in this perspective.
       3. Grey can be a nice color. Part of “taking the long view”, and being able to relinquish control over uncontrollable things is becoming comfortable with uncertainty. Is this a friendship that survives this rough patch or is this the end of this chapter? Is this a date that becomes the start of a new chapter or just a footnote? I remind myself that the gray area, the space of being uncertain about the future is a place I can be comfortable within. And when the anxiety starts to take hold I repeat to myself “Grey can be a nice color,” over and over until the anxiety passes and my fists unclench.
      4. I am stronger than I think. But not yet as strong as I can be.
      5. I have built a great life filled with a wonderfully diverse and beautiful collection of people. I’m not sure how I did it, but I’m grateful that I have. They make me brave.  
 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 
 

And now…. 2011!!!

 
I like themes. I feel they provide focus. So my theme for 2011 is going to be…drum roll please…
 
.
 

No Risk. No Reward

 
I know I didn’t invent that phrase, but I like it so I’m stealing it and claiming it as my own. Learn to love it. 
 
I like to believe that in 2012 I will look back at 2011 and dub it “A Year of Growth”.
 
Hopefully, (fingers crossed, knock on wood, if it please God, Allah, the baby Jesus, the Universe and anyone else who gets a vote), I will be enrolling in an MFA program in the fall. (Ideally UNC Wilmington, but any program will be better than no program). So that will fit really well into my theme.
 

My Resolutions:

1. Do at least one thing that scares the crap out of me (aside from starting grad school).
2. Seek out more performance opportunities. Try to move outside my storytelling and performance comfort zone a little bit.
3. Read more.
4. Write more. Especially for money. Often the freelance stuff isn’t exciting or very creative, but it still feels awesome to get paid for words I’ve written. I never want to lose that feeling .
5. Dance more.
6. Laugh more.
7. Trust more.
8. Believe more. In myself. In my friends and family. And in the Universe to know what it’s doing.
9. Make fewer excuses.
10. Judge less (except reality TV people. And celebrities. I’m still gonna judge the fuck out them.)
11. Pace myself with what I commit to, so I don’t get overwhelmed and drop the ball on a bunch of things (again).
 
If you’ve read this far, you deserve some chocolate. Or a drink.  
 
I hope you all have exactly the year that you need, even if it’s not what you expect :)  
 
 

 
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