Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dear Self in The 90's

I was a late bloomer in almost every way imaginable. I burst forth from my mother's womb a month early and I guess I was not impressed because I've been sort of a back-of-the-line girl ever since. Which is fine. I'm perfectly okay with that.
It is rumored that I was potty trained quite early on but an illness caused a little regression in that area. I'm not ashamed. I'm totally house trained now, and that's what counts.

I read this article called The Rush to Maturity over at The Curvy Girl Guide and it made me think about myself as a girl.

I was always slow to move along but always so anxious to do so. I was a nervous and sensitive type. Even as a little one, I was always concerned about everyone else's feelings. Despite the fact that I was not a terribly affectionate kid, my parents nick-named me Lovey Libby which embarrassed me because I did not think I was particularly loving or kind in my spirit--I was just afraid of attention.
I wanted to fly under the radar. I never sat in the back of the class and I never sat in the front. I was a B student. When it was my birthday and my mom had to make snacks, I remember insisting that she make chocolate and white in case some kids didn't like one flavor.

So while I was all concerned with everyone else and their feelings (and even the feelings of several inanimate objects), I always held the door for them. I let them be at the front of the line--because they wanted it more than I did. I let them win at games, because they clearly wanted to win and I was indifferent. (Even now, I'm not a competitive girl. I don't like playing games who have winners and losers because I always feel kind of bad when I end up winning.) It was never about the fact that I genuinely cared about everyone else though, I just knew that I was afraid of attention. I didn't want to be the first. I didn't want to be the last. I didn't want to be memorable. Now, that's all I want.

I was afraid of a lot of things. I was afraid of being wrong, so I never raised my hand in class. I was afraid of being slow, so I never played soccer at recess even though it looked like the other kids were having so much fun. I never wanted to look uncool so I never expressed any enthusiasm in anything--just in case I was enthusiastic about something particularly lame. And the whole time I was counting the days until I was older. I remember being 12 and thinking that when I was 13, then I'd probably finally break out of my shell and not be so scared of everyone and everything. I remember being 13 and thinking that 15 wasn't too far away, probably once I was fifteen then I'd finally be normal and cool. Until then, I'd just sit and wait. Guess what, "normal" and "cool" never showed up until those things were no longer important. Which is undoubtedly for the best.

Dear 1990's Libby,
I wish I could go back and tell you to not be afraid because life hurts whether you sit down or run so you might as well stretch your muscles.

I would tell you that DJ Tanner is the
only girl in the whole world who is going on dates. You will not realize this until you are in your mid-twenties having drinks with your friends when you all discover at the same time that none of you have ever been on a date.

I would go back to that 5th Grade health class where they give you tiny books filled with shocking diagrams that explain the mystery that you discovered that one time you accidentally walked in on your 17 year-old cousin in the shower and wondered, probably out-loud, "Hair?! There?!" I would remind you that even though you are holding this book at the tender age of eleven, no one is yet going through these changes. This is not the newest normal that you're not keeping up with. I know that's how it feels but that's not the case. Stop looking at the other girls in your class wondering if they've started their periods yet. (But, probably gather the gumption to ask your mother for a bra much sooner than you actually do because--let's get that all under control early on, shall we?)

Please understand that you won the menstrual lottery when yours decided not to start until halfway through your 14th year. Also, everyone makes jokes about how a woman needs all of the chocolates during this time but I'm going to save you a lot of time and tell you right now that your chocolate is french fries and Pepsi. Try to limit your intake of these things during downtime because when it's on it's on and you will be shocked and ashamed to find yourself in a McDonald's drive-thru twice in one day. Just admit it right now that this is your lot in life. It's going to be a long 40 years.

Stop wondering if you're normal. If you don't understand this right now, you'll be nearly thirty before it hits you that no one is--which means that everyone is. Your body is perfectly normal. Your brain is perfectly normal. Your heart is perfectly normal. Your doubts--perfectly normal. You. Are. Perfectly. Normal.

Ah, but you know what? Don't change. Don't develop your confidence too early. Who knows who I would have become if you'd been thinner or more pretty. I probably would have a lot more regrets. Plus, it doesn't matter because you will develop confidence and you will become pretty and a lot of other important things at a time in your life when you're better prepared to deal with it. Even if it does feel much later than everyone else.

Don't stop looking forward to what's ahead of you but do start to take mental, appreciative notes of what you're in right now. You'll never really stop thinking that things will be better or more fun or more straightened out in a year or so. I think that's okay in moderation.

I love you and it is hard and lonely in places but I'm here to tell you that it will all be worth it.
You in 2011

So, I read that article and it didn't just make me reminisce about my own growing up--it made me anxious and hungry to hear about my friends when we were all young and weird. Katie and Staci said that they would blog about it (and I'll link to them when that becomes an option) but what about you? What kind of a kid were you? Tell me in the comments or email me and I'll throw you in as a guest blogger. At any rate, keep checking this little blog and the comments to hear more stories. I feel like we all have something to share about this.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

August and Photos: Birthdays Mostly

I just have a collection of some pretty good photographs that I've taken this month--because August was a very, very good month for me. Or at least, there were some decent photo ops. But I don't really feel like introducing all of them to you. Is that okay? Is it okay if I just write stuff and then add in pictures that may or not make any contextual sense? Because that's what I'm gong to do. Questions may be directed to the comments section and then I will comment on your comments. Commenting. Commenting! Commenting!!!

Let's see...
We threw a surprise party for Ryan and Joshua. That was my favorite day in August (until today, probably). I'd never thrown a surprise party before and I didn't know if I'd be able to pull it off. Libby is nothing if not a horrible secret keeper. We used me as a house to have the party and also I made a banner, we used Katie to get everyone here, we used Lynnette as the perfect distraction/ pinata stuffer/ pastry chef/ supplier of Bailey's for my morning coffee (because there's probably never been a more appropriate time to booze it up in the a.m. times).
My tummy was in excited little knots the whole day long and so I didn't eat anything at all and then after the party started and someone mixed me one (or four) drinks made with this (which is my new favorite thing of all time), I got pretty drunk pretty quickly. But it was no problem. Once a party gets started, there's little that you can do about it.
There were so many people there! No one said they couldn't be there and that made me happy. I just wanted my friends to know how much they were loved. I wanted them to feel it deep, deep down and I think that happened. And so I was happy with the outcome.
Some of my dishes broke but that is something reasonable to accept so I wasn't mad. Even if it was my favorite plate. And my not-so-favorite bowl. I'll go to Save and Share today and see if they have any more plates to replace that one that I lost.

August was hot but it's almost over. September is tomorrow and while that can still be warm, it means that October is just around the corner and you know what that means... It means my birthday is going to happen!
Here's why I love my birthday: because it always falls on the most beautiful week that happens all year long. It's the end of the middle of October (the 21st to be precise). It's not cold. It's certainly not warm. All of the leaves have changed for the most part. The tree at the end of our drive way is a gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous yellow color and everything seems like it rained recently. Even if it's been a few days. It always just feels that way. Also there's usually a meteor shower on my birthday. Orionids. See? Told you that these pictures wouldn't fit the context. That's what you get for not planning out, before hand, what you want to talk about.

What else to talk about? I can't talk about the only thing in my brain that's pounding around and makin' me blush, so I'll still talk about birthdays. Birthdays. Presents. I got Ryan a poster by AJB/MTK for his birthday present. I love it, personally. Boy it was a pain getting it here, though. They were excruciatingly patient and generous with me so please go to their website or to their etsy store and show them love because when you're doing business with these folks, you're doing business with good, legitimately excellent people. Here's the story. I'd ordered the poster and then, like, three weeks later I still hadn't received it. I was ticked so I wrote a really annoyed email to them (rude Libby can be rude). Then, only a few minutes after hitting "send", I checked and--yeah, sure enough, I hadn't changed my contact information and so I payed for a gift for my friend who lives only a few feet from me in McPherson KS and had it shipped to...
Brookings, South Dakota. Ty, though, (we're on a first name/short name basis, Ty and I) stayed in contact with me while I tried to get it sent to my house instead of my old house (which it had been shipped to 2 weeks prior). Ty said that he'd be more than happy to just send me a new one. Which is so nice! Except that the next day, my original order had been sent back to him with "return to sender" all over it. It showed up in my mailbox just a day too late, but still on-time-enough for me. I told Ty that I'd put his info all over my blog and that I'll revisit them at Christmas time. Which I fully intend to do. I think Ryan likes his poster. He says he does. It matches his living room (enough). It hits the nostalgia notes. It's, you know, The Goonies.

Alright. I think that's stories and pictures enough for one day.

Happy Birthdays.

Friday, August 26, 2011

"That is My Faith"

It's difficult for me to talk about the things that are really important to me right here. Or anywhere, really. I have to cover up my face or hide under a blanket to tell you how I really feel. I can't totally explain why but it has to do with the fact that it would be cool if my brains could just open up and fall onto the keyboard, hitting all the letters in the right order so that it makes some sense for you to read and I wouldn't have to do all of the work figuring out what the right words are.

And I don't want to say things in the wrong way so that you don't get exactly what I'm saying. Because I don't want you to misunderstand me. Because there's nothing in the whole world that I hate more than being misunderstood or misrepresented or misinterpreted or some other "mis" word. But I suppose that's what you open yourself up to when you limit yourself to letters and punctuation and then open it up to conversation. So, I guess here goes nothing.

The other day it was brought up in conversation that a friend of mine, whom I've known for a dozen or so years, seemingly out of the blue decided that she doesn't believe in God anymore and moved to another state with her boyfriend with the intention to join a little hippie commune, and live off the land. Honestly, my very first response to this news was, "what I wouldn't give..." But then I realized that after my many years of dorm living, my current living situation is about as communal as I'll ever be able to stand but the idea is the same. What I wouldn't give to have the opportunity and ability to leave. Start over: mind, body, soul. Get dirty. Sounds like a treasure. Obviously I am removed from the situation and I don't know the whole story so I won't pretend to. All I know is that when the situation was explained to me there was a lighthearted joke-- comparing her to another lifetime friend of ours. Implying that anyone who isn't buying the Sunday School crap anymore is just going through a phase. I beg that you forgive the cynicism in that previous sentence but I've been working on this blog for about six days and there's just not another way to make my point. I assure you, there is no more cynicism to be found here.

In the not too terribly distant past, Tamra, (aforementioned lifetime friend) spoke the words that her thoughts on God had changed as well--or hadn't changed, per se, but maybe never were? I'm certainly not going to use this space to tell you about what she thinks because it's not my place and also, all of the "mis" words that I spoke about earlier. I do know that back in October some friends and I went to Tamra's beautiful house in Kansas City. A house that she purchased and put back-breaking work into. A house with an enormous front porch looking out onto a street with other gorgeous houses with enormous front porches--a house where you can't help but feel at-home in. Totally loved. I never wanted to leave. Even to go for a walk. Tamra made us lunch and we sat down at the table and before we ate she said something along the lines of, "just because I don't think there's a God out there listening to all of my prayers doesn't mean that we can't hold hands before a meal." So we all held hands and we closed our eyes and Tam spoke hopes and wishes over us and in that moment I deeply felt, "finally, somebody gets me."

And there is suddenly so much misunderstanding. I can't even say that, really. It's conclusion jumping is what it is. A friend of yours (me) decides that she just can't pretend to be a part of the bandwagon anymore and suddenly there are conclusions drawn without any discussion. At the first mention of "atheist" or "agnosticism", "debauchery" is a synonym that comes to mind. Whether that's the case or not. Fact of the matter is that I'm not concerned about naming myself or anyone else because I'm quite sure that's what got us all into this mess in the first place.

It's just that... When I tell you that I don't believe in God the way that you believe in God, I hope that you don't think I'm simply ignoring some inflexable truth simply to gallivant or overindulge in all things sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll. (Believe me, I went to a Christian university and there is gallivanting enough for lifetimes, and plenty of hung-over and probably-pregnant kids in Sunday School.) And then when I'm through with that phase I'll come back into the fold and then have this brilliant story of redemption. That's not the case. When I tell you that I don't believe in God the way that you believe in God, what I mean is that I am not buying this thing about there being a plan for my life with right answers and wrong turns. What I mean is that I'm not concerned with rules and tiny, stupid things that will never impact another person's life aside from "winning" an argument. I certainly can't argue against the concept of a God and I'm absolutely never going to tell you that it's wrong for you to believe and devote yourself to whatever it is that helps you along in this life. Because this shit is tough. I thought it was just me but getting along into my late 20's and talking to other people like me, I'm finding that it's a universal truth. It's the Human Condition.

Most of my very best, most well rounded and understanding friends believe deeply in salvation and prayer and all that goes along with Christianity. And I admire it and I adore that part of them. I would never, even here, mean to imply that's the wrong thing. Because I certainly can't tell you that what I've got is the right thing. I know it works for me. I probably feel more gratitude and joy now than I ever did, before.

The load became heavy and starts weighing you down and when you start to sink and die, you start throwing stuff out of the boat. For me, that had to be all of the obligations that came with holding on to the Christian label. All of the guilt for not doing this enough or making this choice or for "screwing up" time and time and time and time again when in reality I was just a human being. That's grace. That's what grace looks like. When you can look at yourself and say, "give yourself a break--you're just a person." That's grace in action--not grace as some idea that you subscribe to and hope that it'll one day work out. And I started to breathe easier. I remember the first Sunday that I said I wouldn't be needing a ride to church anymore. And I walked around campus and I sat on benches and I felt the warm sun on my back and everything felt more real than it had in a long time. It was a sabbath, indeed. And I came home and nursed my hung-over roommates back to health with tall glasses of water and tacos. And that was love in action. And I will take love in action over faith as a concept any day of the week.

Just this morning, Tamra sent me an email and in it she said this and I'm going to share it with you because it is the most legitimate example of physical truth that I can think of. "This week I held/restrained a child who was screaming hysterically for ages. She was two inches from my face and I just kept rocking her and saying over and over again, 'it is okay I'm going to stick this out with you.' That is my faith."

So maybe it seems like "out of the blue" when someone that you haven't actually had a legitimate conversation with in half a decade moves away to do something that does seem a little surprising considering her upbringing (and, I might add--bless her for doing it when she's 21 instead of waiting until she's a wife and mother of three children and suddenly realizes that she never had a chance to get to know herself). Maybe it seems like late-stage rebellion when your friend or your daughter or your sister says "I can't do it like this anymore." But maybe it's a reality. Maybe it's a reality that you're not familiar with. Maybe it's a reality for them that would never ever work for you. But just please understand that it goes the other way as well.

I'm afraid that the thing that makes me happy is the thing that's going to make some of you sad. And I'm sorry for that. And I know that many of you will say that you are praying for me and I am grateful for that. I just hope that when you're thinking of us--when you're praying for us, you don't pray that we start to believe what you believe but that we live full, spiritual lives. And when you think of your friends and your family members--don't boil them down to this one aspect of their personality. Think of me as your creative, happy, kind, honest friend (I would hope--that's what I'm shooting for). Think of Tamra as a woman with perseverance, love and grace for multitudes--and hundreds of other things. People are people with bodies and spirits and minds and hearts. We are not the greatest difference between you and me.

And I love you. So much.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Eleven on Tuesday: Music Edition

1. Do you listen to the radio in your car? If so, what type of station do you like?
Mostly I listen to my own CD's in the car because I like to be in charge of setting my own vibe for the day. I pretend I'm in a movie. Like, yesterday I got into my car and before I took off out of the parking lot, I started Adele's I'll Be Waiting. Then I took off onto the country roads instead of driving home the proper and most efficient way. But it just felt like the right thing to do.

Oh, but yes I do listen to the radio on occasion. When I've overplayed the three albums that I keep in my car (those three albums are currently Sara Barellis' Kaleidoscope Heart, Mumford & Sons' Sigh No More, and Adele's 21) or I want to just hear some mindless Top 40 shit. That's how I learned most of Super Bass. "Yes I did, yes I did. Somebody please tell 'em who the eff I is."

2. What is the best concert you have ever attended?
Surprisingly, I think it was Matt Wertz in Lawrence in... 2008? I say "surprisingly" because I wasn't, like, his biggest fan ever. But he did have some songs that I really loved. And also I had a crush on a boy and he agreed to go with me.

He sounded incredible. Not exactly like he sounds on the album but, you know, better. Every time I go see someone live for the first time I'm afraid that they're going to go all Taylor Swift on me. His voice sounded live but he still did delicate sort of thing where he half-whispers the ends of some words and makes my knees give out a little bit. And he played my favorite song and a fair amount of covers. I love, love, love hearing covers. It's my favorite part of live shows, truth be told.

On the way home from that show, my friend sang every single word to Take On Me. Not just the chorus.

3. What is the most embarrassing concert you have ever attended?
I don't really know, honestly. When I was a teenager, I got taken to all sorts of Christian concerts that got me saved over and over and over again. Um... seriously, though, those aren't embarrassing. I mean, I'm not going to see Third Day again or anything but I loved it at the time.

See, I'm not willing to pay the money to go to legitimate stadium shows or anything that's a really big deal and overblown. I think that helps me to only go to shows that I am really dying to see. I'm not going to go see Kraeshawn or anything like that. Hell, maybe I would. Just to see a train wreck for the sake of seeing a train wreck.

[Edit: WAIT!!! I did go see N*Sync once!]

4. If you could have the singing voice of anyone in the world, who would it be?
I, actually, kind of like my own. So I'll stick with that. I'm not the kind of person who's going to subject everyone else to listening to me sing because that is rude (do you hear me, every music major roommate I've ever lived within earshot of?!). So I'm okay with what I've got.

5. You’re auditioning for American Idol. What song do you sing?
Sitting on the Dock of the Bay. Or, I've completely perfected Foster the People's Pumped Up Kicks in the past two days. So, probably that.

6. If your previous weekend had its own soundtrack, what would be a few of the songs?
This weekend was mostly uneventful. I'll go with it like this:
Friday night: Faster by Matt Nathanson
Saturday night: Sewn by The Feeling (I'm always excited about the music that Katie has going in her car.)
Sunday night: Tell Her by Del Amitri as sung by Julia Nunes

7. Most annoying television show theme song ever:
I like how they're kind of doing away with theme songs right now in order to make more room for the show. So, that's cool. Married with Children, though. I don't hate the song itself so much but now it's difficult for me to listen to Frank Sinatra without picturing Al Bundy.

8. Are you and your significant other music-compatible?
Absolutely we are. I only say that because I could never love a man who listened to, say, Nickleback. Even lightly. I could never love a man who doesn't turn off the radio when Nickleback comes on. That's a type of person that will just never totally vibe with me.

9. A song that brings me back to middle school:
Ew. Um... I'm going to go out on a limb here and say there's probably not anything. I don't remember music before High School.

10. A song that brings me back to high school:
Long December.

11. A guilty pleasure song:
Lady Gaga's Alejandro. I'll stay in the car until it's finished on the radio.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

I Made This Thing Out of Another Thing

I know, I know, there's nothing that people hate to read more than a first sentence that says, "I haven't posted in soooo long, I'm a horrible blogger." Truth be told, you wouldn't want to read about the places where my brain has been lately. So I stayed away and kept you from feeling weird.
And that makes me not a horrible blogger. More like, a nice blogger.

I'm going to change gears entirely.

I made something this morning and I want to show you how I did it. I made this.

It used to be a t-shirt but now it's a skirt. And it took about an hour.

I was browsing Pintrest because, I mean, what the heck else am I going to do on a Sunday morning? I was looking for an idea for a Halloween costume (don't judge me, I want to look adorbs mcgorbs at the Annual Epic Halloween Party of Epicness). But instead, I found this. And I looked at it for about fifteen seconds and said, out loud, "Yeah... I can do that." And I went to the closet and found this t-shirt that I wore a lot in college. It's too gross to wear in public but it's old so it's soft.

It's important to note that my step numbers do not correspond to those in the link, above. But that one probably is a lot more concise than what I'm writing here... what's the point here? Power through.

Step One: Gather Materials/ Select a Soundtrack.
For this project, I decided to stream Megan Tonjes on Spotify. (Sidenote: I know you don't listen to Megan Tonjes but, look, you should. Just listen to this while you read the rest of this post and you'll listen to what I was listening to during this project. So, that'll be fun. Yeah? Also, Spotify. Do it. You won't regret it. Unless you do, in which I can only say, "Well, that's weird.")

You will need:
A t-shirt!
A pair of scissors!
A needle!
That's it and that's all.

Step 2: This is the part where I cut off the sleeves. I didn't cut them off entirely, I cut them into short sleeves. So if you have a t-shirt with short sleeves, and you probably do, then you just eliminated one step. Celebrate with a cream soda and proceed to Step 3. (Side note: if you forgo the cream soda part, you'll also save yourself some time.)
I upped the contrast in these photos to an annoying level so that you could see the thread when I started making stitches.
But then I noticed that you still couldn't see them that well, so I just doodled them on--which you will notice in Step 3.

On to Step 3:
What you're going to want to do, here, is sew up the sleeves. Why? Why would you do that? Because when all is said and done, you turn the sleeves inside and bam! Pockets. Your skirt has pockets.

Step 4 is a super important step to remember because if you don't make a cut from the neck to the shoulder down the seam, then you won't be able to fit into your skirt. Unless you are a very, very skinny lady. And even then, your skirt will be oddly shaped.
After you make that cut, you need to fold down the neck and stitch it up. Across. I didn't take a picture of it. I don't know why... I thought I did. But I did not. For that, I apologize. You can probably get an idea of how to do this step if you look at the link I posted earlier. I'll post it again right here. If not, surely you'll look at this project and say "how will I keep this up on my body so that it does not fall off?" And your problem solving skills, combined with your needle and thread will come up with something pretty easily.

I suppose you could probably put an elastic band in there or something but I just used a bit from an old t-shirt that I modified earlier this week and run it through the top to tie it on the side. Can you see it? Do you see it? Can you see?

it really takes hardly any time at all and when it's all done you have a super casual skirt that you can wear in the summer times.

My t-shirt of choice had a stain or two. It was unsightly and so I dip-dyed it in the kitchen sink. Do you want me to tell you how I did that? It was really easy.

I took a large bowl and filled it halfway with water. Then I squirted in some blue paint and mixed it up a little. Starting at the bottom, I dipped it and let the water soak and creep up. So it's darker at the bottom and that's cool. Pretty neat. Anyway, I'm pleased.

So that's what I did, today.

Now I've had some pizza, I'm about to eat my favorite kind of ice cream and I'm watching a movie with my friend.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Fair, Accurate and Un-Hyperbolized Account of This Weekend

I mostly just feel too tired to write an accurate account of this weekend. Maybe I'll do it some day because it's a tale that should be told. But in the mean time, here's this.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

God Bless the Indian Summer.

I'm sorry to do this to you, two posts in a row but I can't help myself these days.

This summer. It is feeling distinctly summer. It is feeling distinctly a period of time all its own. It is feeling distinctly... temporary.

What is it that was the appeal all those years ago when we were little kids who craved summertime. I know it wasn't just the lack of school. Because I tell you that I loved school. I never faked sick unless it was gymnastics week in gym class. But there was something about the summer time that pulled an active, adventurous girl out of the natural homebody in me. Probably even until the other girls were doing--whatever girls do after they're done digging in the dirt, I was still scrubbing at the grass stains on my hands. Not athletic in the least, I would nevertheless ride my bike all over town and around the outskirts making bets against myself how fast I could go and for how long. Then we got the internet and the whole world changed but before that happened summertime was a very tactile time.

Hot, sweaty days, licking frozen cream from the cone before it's all puddled on the sidewalk. Sharp skinned knees and diving into frigid swimming pools. Now the swimming pools aren't even swimming pools. They're "water parks". The diving board is a minor thought, pushed into an alcove in the corner. When I was little, the diving board was the highlight. We'd stare at the big kids and hope that someone would panic and do a belly flop. Sometimes that happened. Usually it was all cannonballs. I don't know who took the position of Namer of Childhood Diving Techniques but I think they grew up to nickname cocktails.

The summertime of youth was about sensations. Feeling hot and cold and pain and relief and soft dirt underneath your bare feet. Somewhere in the ruts to adulthood, summer becomes just another block of time that you differentiate from the others by means of heat index.

Tonight I walked to (did not drive) the library and browsed and found things that I absolutely had to bring home with me. They let me keep the best things on my word alone that I'll return them lest I face a $.30 fine. The library is the most beautiful thing to exist in a civilized world. I took my findings to the coffee shop where I got a french soda and then carried my treasures to a bench that sat across from a design/ print shop that had closed up shop about an hour and a half prior. In the space above, my friends were playing music. Katie and Kristin and Justin came and sat with me for a little bit until hunger drove them to other places. But for the little bit I sat there smelling Justin's man-who-just-took-a-shower scent and feeling him press his shoulder into mine, just being a tactile presence was developing reminiscence in me. Feeling--touching, being together felt so Summertime. So much so that I didn't want to mention it and risk it run away upon hearing itself spoken of. Like a shy kid or a dream. So you relish in it and you accept it and you don't make it stay any longer than it needs to or it's not the same. So my friends left, and I tried to leave too but I didn't actually want to. I sat on another bench and read until the sun went down and the streetlights came on.

And I sat on the bench and I read my book and I listened to the starting and stopping of songs. I could hear it but I wasn't paying ultra close attention until something struck me as truly a magnificent bit. Then I just sat there, impressed and thinking things like, "I didn't know he played the trumpet." I felt the cool breeze through my shirt and I shivered when the condensation from my soda rolled down my leg and it felt like summertime. It felt like the summertime that teenagers had in books that I read. Things that I couldn't relate to, then. Ten years too late I'm experiencing the joys (and the heartaches and the abundance and the decidedly trivial matters but all safely and undoubtedly under the umbrella of the word "joy") of youth. Walking together until you can't walk anymore. Drinking until you can't imagine another sip. Kissing until you're exhausted. Laughing until your belly hurts. Feeling happy and heartbroken and truly filled all in the same moment so much so there's no containing it and it spills out of your eyes.

Youth really is wasted on the young. Do they even know what they have when they've got it?

And you don't try to make it last any longer than it's supposed to because it knows when it's being forced. Let it be what it is when it is. There's always an Indian Summer in early October anyway.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

"Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart."

Methinks things are going to get pretty transparent here, today.

It's been a strange summer. I think earlier, I wrote that I predict that this was going to be a great one. And undoubtedly it has been. I don't regret a minute of it. In fact there are a lot of minutes that I keep going back to and rewind and replay in my brains when I'm falling asleep at night. Most usually the times when I felt particularly brave or happy or even, if complete honesty is permitted in this space and I think it is because this is my space, sexy. Feelings have been in bounty and in plenty. I've felt thrill and loneliness and wholeness and complete disconnect. I've felt self-crushing gratitude and genuine fear. But the important thing. The exciting thing. The good thing is that I've been feeling them.

I think for the past few weeks, though, I've been in a terribly weird place. To my closest friends I've been referring to it as "my funk". I gave it a silly name and referenced it as though it was something absurd that was hanging around. Like when someone from your past visits from out of town and stays way to long and follows you every where you go. But despite the cheerfullness with which I attempted to deal with it, I'd be lying if I told you that there wasn't a little part of me that was genuinely afraid of what was happening to me. Maybe my Funk was causing permanent damage. Maybe my spirit's been overwhelmed. A big group of us went out the other night for dinner and it should have been fun and exciting and relieving to have so many friends around me after/during a particularly frustrating time in my life. And it was--it was. That was the fact. But I wasn't feeling any of it. I wasn't feeling happy to be surrounded by people who have known me so well for a long time and other people who want to get to know me--hopefully for a long time. I knew I was lucky. I knew that these people like me. I knew that I like them. I knew that I was enjoying my cheese pizza. But I felt kind of... nothing? That's when I knew something was wrong with me. I monitored myself for the next several days and realized that my feelings had been, in fact, broken. Exhausted. Like I blew a fuse. In my brain or something.

I kept thinking so many things that I couldn't make words for and then when I did have words for them, they were surely not anything that I could say out loud. So I wrote it down. Because I have to outlet. That's the only way to process it. And even though these are things that you don't say to other people lest they worry for your mental state, I'm going to share them with you:

All of the anger and stress and disappointment is sitting inside of me.
Taking up residence on my shoulders. The middle of my back. My belly.
Making me ache and creak and break and moan.
I think I used to feel somewhat graceful. Like I could move in a solidly fluid motion.
I'm jittery and jagged and jumpy, now.
It used to be my spirit and my body working together to make things happen.
Now it's just my body.
Shuffling. Lumbering.
Being awake in the morning and laying down at night. Staying afloat in between.
Occasionally entertained and distracted.
How did it start and how does it keep going like this?
What's scarier than the fact that it's happening is the way that I don't even care.

Once I put it into words. Once I looked at my truth, I decided that I needed to fix it. My body hurt. My spirit was dry. My friendships were lacking. My creativity was non-existent. I am a firm believer in the unpopular idea that I'm in charge of my heart. Sometimes, though, you have to get pretty manual about digging it out. I didn't like that I didn't care that I was operating like a robot person. I knew that I was going to need to start being very intentional about being good to myself and my relationships or else I would be in serious trouble in no time and not even know how or when I got there. And I've already wasted too much time--I'm not going to wait for everything to sort itself out. It's time to get diligent.

I went to my bathroom mirror (I honestly just spelled it "meerer" and looked at it for a long time wondering what was wrong with that word. The correct answer is, of course, all of the vowels.) and I wrote:

What have I done for:
My body...
My spirit...
My relationships...
My creativity...

I don't have a different answer for all of those questions every single day. But this week I've done things for my body. I've been intentional about drinking tons and tons of water. Also I get two 15 minute breaks at work every day and I'm making a point to take little walk/jogs around the store for at least one of those breaks. Simply moving helps the time to go by so much faster and it's also nice to get some new scenery every now and again.
For my spirit I've been trying to pray. There's so much to say about this subject and maybe one day I'll be able to put it into words but for now there's too much confusion and maybe some heartache and probably even a little anger to be able to pin it all down and define it. But suffice it to say that even taking on an attitude of prayerfulness and peace is such a tiny victory that I can't help but celebrate it and count it as a huge win.

The most surprising thing, I've noticed, was the effect that exercising creativity has had on my mood. I bought this bulletin board a few months ago and had grand ideas for it but I hung it on my wall and started using it and never really did anything with it aside from tack recipes onto it. It's large and hangs across a large blank space in my kitchen and I wanted to make it very graphic and colorful and cheerful. I didn't feel in the mood or inspired or excited when I pulled it down and started drawing a grid onto it or even when I started applying the paint, but in hardly any time I was in another dimension. There is something so deeply satisfying about taking something in your brain and translating it into something tangible. Something tactile. Something that you can see. It's not perfect. Up close it's not really even pretty. But it's mine and it does exactly what I wanted it to do. Here it is:

The day after that, I bought a $6 box of hair dye and went to town. I'm now back to being a brilliant brunette with pale skin and bright blue eyeballs.
This post doesn't flow at all. It doesn't wrap up into something nice or anything like that. It's not even funny... But that's alright. I'm feeling good. I'm feeling so good, now.

I think what it is, is seeing change happen. When I started drawing lines on my bulletin board, I didn't know what I was going for--just that I didn't want to keep it the way that it was. Just that I wanted to make an effort and make a change and we'll see how it turned out. Just so happened it turned out well.
Just so happens that I like my hair.
Just so happens that your choices (even impulse ones) can be trusted after all.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Past Minute and a Half

It's Saturday. It's morning time. I was, of course and just like you know you'd love to be doing, sitting here in front of my computer in the clothes that I slept in (read underpants and a tank top--don't picture it but just know what I'm talking about) and listening to an embarrassing mix that I listen to when no one else is around. In short, this is Me Time.

I'm sitting here reading all the articles that I've been meaning to read all week and listening to "Shy Ronnie 2: Ronnie and Clyde (feat Rhianna)" when I hear a knock at my door. My mind, as I'm sure everyone's does when someone knocks on their door, goes to imagining a plan of attack. But then I remember that it's okay because if someone's going to break in, then they're probably not going to knock first. So I stand up to answer the door and remember the unders. So I sprint--the long way around so that I don't pass the front door--to my bedroom and grab the first pair of jeans that I can find, and a bathrobe. So, essentially, I look like a psycho path with crazy hair and crazy eyes by the time I make it to the front door. They're wearing purple. Who wears purple? Jehovah's Witnesses, I guess. I don't know if that was planned or if one guy showed up at the other guy's house and said, "Purple? You're wearing purple too? You know white people can't wear that color. No, I don't have time to change. Let's just go."

So they introduce themselves and say something like, "you look like you just woke up." To which my brain responds with, "You can not be serious with me right now, right? It's Saturday morning! And also I've been up since 7:00 thankyouvermuch. I'm just lazy--which I have a right to be. As an American."
But my mouth said, "Oh, I'm... getting ready for work..."

As they hand me several copies of The Watchtower, I'm noticing that my music (which is turned up way too loud for company) has switched to a song by The Bird and The Bee entitled Fucking Boyfriend. Which is sweet but the chorus says, "tell me would you be my would you be my fucking boyfriend?" And it repeats it kind of a lot. It's a delightful tune. Really it is.

Quickly they dismissed themselves. Walking down my steps saying things like, "We're just doing this to bring glory to Jehovah!" To which I respond, for reasons that I can not fathom, "Yeah, me too. Have a good... day?"

Walking to the next house I'm sure they were discussing my drug problem.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

So Much Questions

Hi boys and girls. The other day, my IRL friend, Katie from (Insert Witty Title Here), came over to my side of town and together we answered questions. I don't know what the deal is, but any time you solicit questions on Facebook no one ever says anything like, "how do you spend a typical Saturday?" Or, "if you were given a million dollars..." No, for some reason people are like, "should I get this mole looked at?" Eh. It's whatever. So here's what Katie and I came up with:

And then the questions, they just kept coming! So I went forth and answered them in a video by myself in my squishy chair. Wearing a sweater and drinking coffee because it's finally raining outside and it's not 115 degrees for the first day in three weeks. Take advantage, brothers and sisters, wear a soft cardigan.

Thoughts? Questions? Comments? Concerns?

Monday, August 1, 2011

An Unintentionally Motivational Post

When I was little, we used to have some sort of family time most nights before bed. Not every night but, you know, consistency is difficult with so many people in one house. But we'd read from this book that was supposed to teach us life-lessons and then we'd talk about it and that was fine but I always wanted to skip past it because after that we'd talk about our "blessings" from the day. It was nice because not only did it force you to admit, even at the end of a terrible and disappointing day (like the worst day in history the history of the 90's, when Bill Clinton was elected president and the democrats were going to take over the world and then force us to do shameful democratty things) that something not-awful probably did happen. And not only that, but you got to hear about the lives of the other people living in your home. You got to hear about it from the perspective of what they liked about it, too.

It seems like so often, by the end of the day (okay, more realistically, by 10:00 am) everyone's Facebook statuses are about the awful things that have happened. Like, there was road construction on my way to work so I thought I was going to be late and that stressed me out. Or how I left to go get breakfast but then I realized that I left my debit card at home so I had to drive back home and get out of my car and then get back into it. Ugh! Or someone wanted me to straighten their glasses because they fell on them, and I was grossed out because of all of the goo gunked up in the nose pieces and I wanted to throw up (seriously, folks, here's a happy tip from your neighborhood optician: wear your glasses into the shower every once in a while and let the steam clean them just a little bitty bit).

When you're not enjoying yourself, it seems to take so much longer to go through a day. I don't know why it's so easy to just give up on the day so early and then count the hours for the day to end. And why do we want the day to even end? We'll go to bed and tomorrow will be the same that today was unless we make a point to make a change. You know what I mean? And also no one else has any fun.

I certainly don't mean to sound all motivational, here. I don't want to be the guy who's like, "You're in charge of your attitude!!" (even though I truly believe that we are) "Never, ever be discouraged!" But, you know, maybe let's try extra hard to not see all of the worst possible versions of our own reality, sometimes.

In her book, Intimations of Mortality (which was written during the course of her terminal illness and published posthumously), Violet Weingarten said "Problem stated at its most succinct--is life too short to be taking shit or is life too short to mind it?" Maybe let's take think on that a little bit, today.

Some mornings I have to pep-talk myself out of bed. Some days, I press "snooze" and lay in bed dreading getting out of it until the very last moment. This morning was easy for me, though, because I ran out of coffee creamer yesterday. I can't take my coffee with just milk and sugar. That stuff is terrible. And powdered creamer is flammable and so I don't really feel like drinking it. So I need that stuff. The ultra-sugary stuff in the milk section of the grocery store. But it's so expensive. So I took to the interwebs to find a recipe to make it myself. Of course I found it.
So getting out of bed was easy, today. In fact, the fact that my coffee pot has a self-timer is what gets me out of bed most every day. It's nice to have a treat first thing in the day.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?
If you thought about the relief-points of the day before you went to sleep, what would they be?