Tiny Bit of Crazy

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

Just Dance August 26, 2011

I went to the gym this morning, but I wasn’t really into it.  I’ve got some health issues that are making it kinda painful and crappy and not any fun at all to work out… BUT, I’m getting those issues sorted out, and in the meantime, I’m still going to the gym (usually) because it’s better than not going, even if I can’t do much, so I’m establishing a pattern for when I’m better.

After I’d finished my cardio I was stretching on the floor and getting increasingly grumpy over the ways in which my “workout”  has come resemble the physical therapy routine for a post hip surgery octogenarian.

I stand up to do some calve stretches, and that song comes on my iPod. You know the one, everyone has one. The one song that just makes every cell in your body cry out to dance.  I’ve listened to this song during every workout for the past month while on the treadmill or the elliptical and I always imagine myself dancing around an empty room singing with heart.  Which really doesn’t take much imagination because I was introduced to this song by a 6-year-old during a kitchen dance party.

The song is Loser Like Me, Glee version. Don’t you judge me. Not until you’ve put it on at top volume and seen what it can do for you.

Anyway.

So I’m standing at the back of the empty gym in my office building. I’m not stranger to making a fool of myself in this space. I feel my hips moving as the song worms through my ears to take over my brain. I’m about 90% sure that old guy who just lifts weights for an hour every morning is still in the locker room but… my hips are moving a little more. My arms are now in rhythm to my hips.

My head might be bobbing a bit.

I immediately feel my mood start to improve.  I realize that from my vantage point I can see if someone comes in the door or out of the locker room.

So I let go a little more.

There’s some swaying.

A little more bobbing.

Maybe a butt wiggle and chest thrust or two.

I might have hit the backward button on my iPod at some point so the song would start again.

I’m smiling. I’m realizing how long its been since I danced for no reason.

My confidence that I won’t be discovered is increasing, and my dancing starts to get a little freer.

Which is when I see that old guy – that I knew was in the locker room – come out.

I quickly stop dancing and after a second’s hesitation, throw a leg up on a bench in an attempt to try to make it look like he has simply caught me –  awkwardly and somewhat spastically- transitioning from one stretch to another.

I’m pretty sure he bought it.

But he’s kinda ruined my groove.

So I hit back on my iPod again, telling myself, as one might a toddler, “This is the LAST TIME.”

I’m 99% sure there’s no one left in either locker room, and I have a good view of the door.

I resume dancing and feel my mood kick up a notch.

There might be some singing happening, but there is definitely some serious, if still slightly reserved, dancing happening in the back corner of this gym.

I find myself wishing this could be my workout every morning, and I know that as soon as I’m able, there is a Zumba class in my future.

The song ends, and I obey my direction that this was the last time, and pick up my water bottle, put the mat away and head into the locker room.

Which is when I realize.

The locker room is the perfect place for a solo dance party: back where the showers are I’d have plenty of warning if someone came in. But no one ever comes in at this time of morning. My smile is wide as I scroll through my Power Workout playlist. I decide that my Glee friends will be how I close.

I decide to open with Switch by Will Smith (Seriously, stop it with the judging) as I undress and step into the tiny shower stall. While shampooing and conditioning my hair I shake my money-maker to The Time (Dirty Bit) Workout Remix by the Black Eyed Peas, and I get dressed to Kanye West’s Stronger (Workout Remix), and right after I put my shoes on my jam comes on.

And its on. Right there in the locker room of my office gym. I hit my full on, club worthy groove as I sing, at full volume, the chorus:

Just go ahead and hate on me and run your mouth
So everyone can hear
Hit me with the worst you got and knock me down
Baby, I don’t care
Keep it up, and soon enough you’ll figure out
You wanna be
You wanna be
A loser like me
A loser like me

I face myself in the mirror as Finn’s voice takes over from Rachel, and even though I’ve never been bullied or made to feel like loser by anyone other than myself, I feel vindicated as I sing, and vaguely act out the lyrics as I dance:

Push me up against the locker
And hey, all I do is shake it off
I’ll get you back when I’m your boss
I’m not thinkin’ ’bout you haters
‘Cause hey, I could be a superstar
I’ll see you when you wash my car

I wonder if my voice might carry through the vents of the building as I sing out the lyrics with gusto. But then I decide that I don’t care, because much like when I’m singing at top volume in the car, my voice is amazing. I’m starting to think I could actually be ON Glee.

The song ends and I resist the urge to play it again, knowing I’m on the verge of burning this song and I don’t have a replacement yet. And probably won’t until my next kitchen dance party with a 6-year-old with great musical taste.

But I think going to the gym before work just got a lot more fun.

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As Seen on TV…Inside My Head August 17, 2011

It’s been 6 months.

This is an official milestone.

I mean, we’ve had lots of smaller (sometimes made up) milestones like:

  • 1 month
  • 5 weeks
  • first time he met the friends
  • first time I met his daughters
  • first blog post about him
  • first melt down (by me, obviously)
  • first weeknight sleep over
  • first time eating Chipotle together…

I could go on and on. Mostly because I like milestones, I find them reassuring, and so tend to see them in everything.

But 6 months? That’s a for real one. That’s a milestone that everyone recognizes… From what I’ve heard. Because I don’t really know, this is the first time I’ve ever been in a relationship that’s lasted this long.

From what I can gather, it appears that 6 months is basically when shit starts to get real:

  • The fighting starts
  • You start to realize which weird/annoying/odd personality quirks or personal habits occur occasionally and which ones that occur all the time, and you have to decide what you can live with.
  • Any commitment phobias previously hidden will now show themselves.
  • Friends, family, casual Facebook acquaintances, and family members of friends will start asking awkward questions like “When are you moving in together?” or “Does he want kids?” “Do you think he’s the one?” Usually with your partner standing next to you, or on your wall with your partner tagged.
  • Sleep becomes prioritized over sex
  • He stops trying to impress you and romantic gestures get relegated only to birthdays, an annual anniversaries. If he even remembers those.

Yeah… So I’ve been freaking out a little bit.

Technically the 6 month mark was almost 2 weeks ago.

But I’ve waited until now to write this blog for 2 reasons. (Have I ever mentioned that when I’m anxious about something I make lists? Cause I do that.)

1. Even as I was freaking out about how apparently everything becomes different after 6 months, I was still excited to reach this milestone because I’m still really happy to be in this relationship. Which was why I couldn’t write this blog post.

When I’m really happy about something, or get something I’ve always wanted, I immediately start to worry about jinxing it. And writing a blog telling The Universe and all my friends and family how happy I am, is clearly a gigantic jinx.

My problem is that I have a writer’s brain.

See, all of the most moving and memorable story lines pivot on the moment when a character gets everything she’s always wanted, and its then either immediately threatened, complicated, or totally lost moments later. Think about it: Titanic. Dear John. Steal Magnolias. Twilight. I could go on, but I think you get my point.

Right when everything is perfect, and I’m really happy, I think “if this were a movie or book, this is when the plane would crash, or he’d turn out to be Dexter, or I’d be held hostage by one of my crazy ex-boyfriends and forced to make Chris think I’ve abandoned him…”

Its possible that sometimes, in some parts of my brain, that I sort of… lose track of what’s real and what’s a script for a Lifetime movie writing itself in my head.

It happens.

The good news is that, as I have more and more experience with being happy and getting what I want in life, and not having anything bad happen, my ability to tell the difference between real and made-for-TV gets stronger. Which is the good news.

But the other reason why I waited to write this blog post is that:

2. I’m not really very good, or comfortable with overt expression of sappy or emotional sentiments. And I know that some of my Facebook friends are crying “Foul!” right now, because Chris and I been accused of being totally sappy on Facebook on occasion. But here’s what I say to that:

On Facebook I just report what’s happening. I post a picture of us at the beach and I say “Me and Chris at the beach.” Or I say “Had a great weekend with Chris, he made me a great dinner.” Those statements are not sappy, they are fact. The people viewing the pictures and commenting are the ones who, in layering their own sappy sentimentality onto my posts, declare me to be sappy. Which is why the ones most likely to accuse me of crimes of sappyness, are my most sappy friends. (Cough *Susan*, Cough *Pam*).

HOWEVER, I will concede that since for most of my life I’ve been a cynic and a commitment-phobe, that my willingness to put a picture of us grinning like idiots on my Facebook wall probably could qualify as sappy for me.

(As an aside: I would like to take this moment to ask that, should the day ever come when I refer to Chris in a status update as “My honey”, “My sweetie” “My baby”, or anything similarly gag inducing, that someone immediately come over and slap me. Seriously. Or call the police because I’ve clearly been taken hostage and that’s my secret code to signal for help.)

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But here’s the good news about waiting to write this post: I’ve now seen the other side of that 6 month divide, and can see how it matches up to my research.

1. No fighting.

But I can see why fighting could be a thing at this point. I mean, the increased comfort level and sense of security would unsurprisingly lead to a lower likelihood of hiding cranky moods or swallowing small annoyances.

But I’ve also started to realize that it’s an easy mistake to use that increased comfort and security as an excuse to make your partner a receptacle of all your personal ills, irritants and annoyances, unrelated to him or her. And I sure don’t want to be that for him, and I’m positive he doesn’t want to be that for me. And in realizing that, I also suddenly understood something my mom said about the secret to a good relationship: “Be kind to each other.”

Its sort of brilliant in its simplicity I realize now. If, at the core of everything you do, this is your intention, to be kind to each other, everything else should fall into place, don’t you think?

2. No annoying habits to report (on my end. I guess I can’t speak for him…)

3. No evidence of commitment phobias from either of us. (so far)

4. No majorly embarrassing relationship status questions have been asked in front of him. (Yet. But I probably just jinxed myself).

5. I’m not going to comment on the sleep vs sex issue because my dad and brothers read this. You’re welcome Daddy.

6. The romance is still alive and well (so far). Aside from the surprise flowers, awesome card and dinner at the restaurant where we had our first date on our anniversary, we still have date nights, and he still puts effort into planning them. I still get a little tingle of excitement before he picks me up, or sometimes just when I glance over and see his profile next to me at the movies. Plus, we’re still discovering things about each other and we still have many milestones to pass. And as the saying goes: “where there’s a milestone, there’s romance.”

Or is that just what we say around the writer’s table in my head?

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At any rate, the bottom line is that its shockingly easy to be in a relationship with Chris. As I tell him often, he makes functional easy.

The TV people in my head occasionally remind me that functional is also often boring, but so far I think this story is still moving. BUT if it ever does get boring, I’m confident that my crazy will happily kick in and throw some twists into the plot line. Whether I want it or not.

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So, thanks for a wonderful 6 months sweetie. I’m looking forward to what comes next!

P.S. (No one gets to slap me for using “sweetie” here. That was a direction limited specifically to Facebook status updates. Plus, if I’m being held at gunpoint obviously I’ll be signalling for help via Facebook, not my blog. Like any normal person.)

6 month anniversary dinner at restaurant where we had our first date.

 

Yeah…I’m Kind of a Big Deal…. July 5, 2011

I’m a guest blogger!

This is like, a big deal in the blogging world. Especially when you area  lower case “b” blogger who isn’t sure if she wants to become an upper case “B” Blogger, but might, because like, Bloggers have a shot at making some money or at least getting free stuff once in a while, while bloggers just get friends saying “Cute blog post. I mean, I didn’t finish it, but I’m sure it had a great ending,” or their mom’s heavy sighing when you write about how you keep forgetting your house keys when you go out with your boyfriend. But Blogging is a commitment, and takes work. You have to be serious about it, and frankly I don’t do serious all that well.  So I’m just hanging as a blogger, but flirting at the edges of making the leap to Blogger.

But I have this BFF, Tara, who is totally a Blogger, like she has tons of people who read her and she’s sorta famous in the area where she lives. Strangers stop her at the gym and her kid’s school and stuff to say they like her blog.  Because she’s totally hilarious. And now she’s hanging around with all the other cool super popular mommy Blogger chics and they  all follow each other and comment on each others blogs and are always like “OMG you’re SO funny,” “NO YOU’RE so funny,”  “I worship you.” “I want to BE you.”

Not that I care.  I’m all “whateves, I could be at the popular kids table if I wanted to be. I just don’t want to be.”

It’s exactly like when Tara and I were in high school, except then she was in Honor Society and I wasn’t. Which meant she got to go to the cafeteria in the mornings with all the other Honor Society kids and have orange juice and donuts while braiding each others hair. Or something, I don’t really know because I wasn’t there. But as I always told Tara when she’d ask why I didn’t join:  “I could be in it if I wanted to be, I just don’t want to be.” And I really didn’t want to be. Everyone was so serious all the time, and I didn’t much see the point, aside from the donuts, but my mom would totally have bought me donuts for breakfast if I asked her to. And this way I got to watch Beverly Hills 90210 instead of doing my math homework.

Anyway, Tara and I have been friends for like, a billion years or so and in that time our friendship has renewed or reinvented itself like a million times. We’re really more like sisters at this point, in the sense that she couldn’t get rid of me if she tried.

I was calling myself a writer and blogging long before she was, but then she jumped into the world of over-sharing and thinking every detail of your life is worth sharing, and it turns out, we’re BOTH writers.

I mean, who could have seen that coming? (although we did co-write two short stories for extra credit in high school English, which I still have, and one day will scan in and post on one of our blogs for the world to see our early genius).

I happen to think its pretty awesome that given the divergent paths our lives have taken that they are intersecting in this way at this time in our lives. Hence the excitement over the guest blogging.

(It’s so awesome, in fact, that its possible we might, maybe, be working on a book of personal essays together… possibly. Nothing for sure yet. But how cool would that be, right? But for now, lets just keep it between us.)

But enough about that.  Go read my blog on her site – Do These Kids Make Me Look Crazy?

And then go through her site and read her other posts. But first promise you’ll come back to my blog and still read my ramblings even though I don’t have ridiculously cute kids to feed me content all the time… Pinky swear. Ok, thanks. Now go.

 

Since When Is 35 The New 65? May 17, 2011

When I was little, the date May 17th glowed on the page of every calendar.  Anything else that occurred on that date, no matter how mundane or unrelated to me, would sparkle with a reflected glow.

It wasn’t just that May 17th was my birthday. It was MY day and mine alone. Which is no small thing when you have an immediate family consisting of 5 other kids and 4 adults (the unique makeup of my family is story for another time. Let’s stay focused on me here).

When it was your birthday, you got to pick the meal that would be served on the Sunday nearest your birthday. I know this doesn’t sound like that big of a deal, but it totally was. Especially for me and my two younger brothers, affectionatly (I assume) known as “the little kids” (while our older sisters and brother were known as “the big kids”). When it was your birthday you were also allowed to stay at the table as long as you wanted, even after the time when he little kids would normally be encouraged to go play while the grown ups (and big kids) talked. For me this was huge, and I’d often stay for a while, even though I didn’t understand or care what anyone was talking about, just because I could.

Since my birthday was in mid-May, it came to symbolize the official beginning of summer for my family, and my meal choice was hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill, with chips and macaroni and potato salad, and we’d eat out on the porch instead of the dining room, and play frisbee and tag in the yard.

In my memory it was sunny and warm for every single birthday.

At some point in the last 2-3 years it occurred to me that is statistically impossible since I lived in upstate NY and meteorological records would prove it was probably cold, rainy and possibly even snowy more often than not.

But in my memory, every single year it was a day with my whole family laughing in the sunshine eating picnic food and strawberry cake, with me at the center.

But then I grew up and I went away to college. Birthdays were celebrated, and always enjoyed, but slowly I came to accept that the day would no longer entail me being the center of everyone’s universe. There are actually people, I eventually learned, who don’t know, or care, that May 17th is my birthday. By the time I was in my 30’s I was comfortable with this fact. Which isn’t to say I haven’t always enjoyed my birthday. I’ve always had wonderful friends and family who  have made the day special in some way. But the truth is that adult birthdays are rarely as special as childhood birthdays. It’s not a bad thing per se, just a reality thing.

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Today I turn 35. And I am aware of my birthday as a signal of the passage of time in new way. Suddenly today isn’t just about me getting more than a normal amount of attention, but about me moving into a new phase of my life.

As marked by the rapid deterioration of my body.

However, one upshot to getting older is that my appearance is catching up to my actual age. I used to consistently look 10-12 years younger than I actually was. Now the gap has closed to about 6 years.

When I was in my 20’s and looked like a teenager, or when I was in college and routinely mistaken for a visiting high school student, I hated my youthful appearance. Teachers, parents and random strangers would routinely tell me I’d be thankful for these genetics someday.

I was always pretty sure I wouldn’t.

But now while I might not love it, I don’t hate it anymore. And I can already tell that when the gap closes even more, I’m going to miss it…

However.

While my face appears to be that of a carefree 20-something, my body appears to be that of a retiree.

To wit:

My arches have fallen.

Which means I have to wear special inserts in my sneakers, and ideally my non-sneaker footwear will also have arch support.

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Let me restate that, to make sure we’re all on the same page here. Only a few hour into my 35th year and the concept of arch support is front of mind for me. Take a moment and digest that.

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The falling arch issue was discovered while I was being treated for a badly pulled Achilles tendon.

How’d I do that, you ask? Well that’s a funny story… wait, actually it’s not a story at all since I have NO IDEA how I did this.  Because that’s what happens when you get old. YOU HURT YOURSELF BY WALKING.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the next time I stumble while walking through Target it’ll be my hip that goes.

When I commented on how slow my recovery has been, my physical therapist, who is 25, said “These kinds of injuries take a long time to heal at your age.”

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Also, my metabolism, which took a nose dive when I turned 30, has slowed down even more. Now just looking at cake makes it show up on my ass.

Also, this morning I discovered a mole on my leg with a hair growing out of it. That wasn’t there yesterday…you know, back when I was a spring chicken of 34.

And as if all of that weren’t enough, I also have Endometriosis. Which basically means that my body, much like my grandmother, has given up on the idea that my reproductive organs will ever be used for their intended purpose, and so my uterus has begun to look like that spare room in your house, with random cells and uterine tissue just tossed in there like last year’s Halloween decorations and that futon you can’t bring yourself to get rid of.

And it would be fine if those junk cells just sat in there collecting dust behind a closed door. But they don’t. They are wreaking havoc in my body. Kinda like a family of mice that takes up residence in the futon and now runs amok through the whole house, eating through your power bar wrappers, making tiny teeth marks in the fresh fruit , and leaving poo all over every surface…

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My hormones are out of control. I’m as likely to cry from a credit card commercial (no interest for the WHOLE year?!) as from hitting a red light.

I’m retaining water. Specially, I have swollen ankles. But on the bright side, if there’s one thing that looks good with orthopedic shoes, its cankles.

I’m frequently exhausted. Which is actually ok, because I need to spend a lot of time with my injured tendon elevated and iced.

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And yet…

I’m not all that unhappy about my birthday. Maybe its just the crazy hormones talking, but I find myself feeling a bit warm and fuzzy, a bit optimistic about life as I enter into the second half of my third decade.

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Turns out there are certain perks that come with advanced age.

Like the fact that I have acquired an almost embarrassingly wonderful list of friends and family who love me.  Before 10am I’d received heartfelt birthday wishes via text, phone, email, in person, and on Facebook by more than 30 people. And this is outside of birthday wishes and a present that I got on Sunday, cupcakes from my co-workers yesterday, a birthday dinner with my wonderful boyfriend planned for tonight, and a full on birthday party on Sunday, which is being planned by one of these wonderful friends. And I haven’t even checked my mailbox in a few days…  

I am humbled by this out pouring of love. And grateful that at various points in my life I’ve had whatever combination of luck, wisdom and heart to make the decisions that allowed me to make, build, and maintain these relationships with both friends and family members.

And then there’s the boyfriend.

My friends and family make me feel loved, but he has managed to make me feel special on a level I haven’t felt since those childhood birthdaydays.  

Tuesday night is not usually a night we see each other, and I was perfectly comfortable with celebrating my birthday with him on Wednesday night, our standard date night.

But he said he wanted to see me on my birthday, so we made dinner plans. Which was enough of a treat for me.

Then he called me at work this morning , which he’s never done before, to say Happy Birthdaywhich was a wonderful surprise and great way to start my day. It was already one of my best birthdays in recent memory.

And THEN, he showed up at my office in the middle of the day carrying roses, a balloon, and 2 slices of cake, complete with candles and matches.

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Sorry Mom and Dad, but I think this just officially become the best birthday I’ve ever had.

The possibility that he would be walking through my office door with flowers and a balloon and cake was so far from my mind, that it actually took me around three seconds to realize I recognized the delivery guy.

I was so stunned, my memory of the first few minutes of him walking in and setting the flowers and cake on my desk and me hugging and kissing him hello plays back like watching a YouTube video on a slow internet connection – all jerky movements and missed dialogue.

I’m actually still a little speechless. Which to some people may be the most impressive part about the whole thing.

All I can say at this point is that, so far, being 35 has kind of rocked.

 

My Special Talent January 25, 2011

Filed under: Dating — Meredith @ 2:08 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

It’s nice to have something you know you’re good at.

Most people have at least one thing in their life, (outside of their job) that they excel at; like playing a sport, or a musical instrument, or being able to remember the name of every Miss America and the year she was crowned since the pageant started. Whatever. The point is, everyone has a special talent.

I used to think my special talent was storytelling.

But I was wrong.

I have discovered my true talent…

And it is speed dating.

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You heard me.

SPEED. DATING.

Speed dating is my jam people.

I’m an introvert by nature. But under the right circumstances, I can flip a switch and channel an extrovert like I was born one.

The “right circumstances” generally referring to getting positive and/or fawning attention. Which is why I’m able to get on stage and tell stories – I blossom under the attention of a captive audience.

Here’s how speed dating works. Women sit in seats in one long row with tables in front of them. Men sit down in one long row across from the women. Everyone has a number on their name tag, and everyone has a sheet of paper on which to write down the number of the person they are across from, and then a Yes or a No after the “date”. You get five minutes to talk and then a bell sounds and the women stay put and the men move one seat down. Repeat. At the end of the night, everyone turns their papers into the organizers, and the next day you get an email telling you who you matched with and providing contact information. Contact information is only exchanged between mutual Yes’s. Which I like because it avoids the awkward “no, I’m sorry Shrek,  you can’t have my phone number,” conversation that happens so often in bars.

So you end up with 10 or 12 or 20  five minutes dates over the course of the evening (depending on the size of the event).

FIVE MINUTES.

Who can’t be charming and interesting for five minutes? Well, turns out, lots of men can’t actually.

But you know who CAN be charming and interesting for five minutes? ME. That’s who.

You know who can bust out the charm, the sparkle, the giggle, being both coy and open at the same time, projecting both sex appeal and an endearing innocence simultaneously? I CAN.

I don’t  even really know how I do it exactly. When its time, and that switch flips, its like my spidey senses kick in, and within seconds of a new guy sitting down, I know if I should make a joke, ask a question, give him a hard time, give him an opening to give me a hard time, plant the suggestion that we’ll see each other again, or make it clear we won’t… but in a way that he still feels better for the experience.

As each new guy comes through, I get better and better. My laugh gets more tinkling, my hair flip more natural, my ability to project fascination and excitement when he tells me he’s a plumber gets sharper.

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It might have helped a little that I was grouped into the over 30 category, which aside from me was more like the over 40 category.  And I look closer to 20 than 30. So when these 40+ men sat down across from me, they often got a look in their eye like a homeless man who’d just won the lottery. 

Which in many ways they had. Because I’m just that unbelievably awesome.

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In 5 minute bursts.

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During the break I was at the bar getting another drink (only because there was a minimum to use a credit card, and I drink cheap shit, so I had to buy two drinks. But I didn’t actually drink the second one – alcohol doesn’t tend to enhance my skills), and #72 came up to me and picked up our conversation where we’d left off when our five minutes had run out. I managed to keep up the persona for almost a full minute, before my normal persona started popping through, like static during a radio broadcast. I kept fighting to maintain my speed date aura and mercifully the break ended a minute later. I’d originally marked #72 as a No, but he’d won me over with that break conversation and I changed him to a Yes.

He was not on my match list the next day.

He liked me enough to come up and talk to me at the break, but not enough to make me a yes.

Obviously because I’d exceeded my 5 minute window of awesome. He probably got back to his seat and changed me from a Yes to a No, just as I was doing the reverse.

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Yeah…

So to summarize, I’m like the perfect female specimen for 5 minute intervals. 

After which things tend to unravel pretty quickly…

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I’m pretty sure this is the real reason I’m still single.

 

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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