Unexpected momentum

Status: I'm doing fine.

Tonight I was leaving work and taking the stairs because the elevator is out, and I caught a glimpse of myself in the stairwell window. And I was sort of taken aback by the sight of myself — my hair is long, suddenly; I’m in long sleeves, suddenly; I wear glasses, suddenly, except I have for so very long now and have yet to get used to the idea — and the sight made me happy for once. Like every other person ever, I tend to go negative when faced with a reflective surface. But for some reason tonight looking up and seeing my reflection was a comfort. I am a living, breathing, working, questioning, hoping being. I learn things every single day and it’s been a long time since I’ve been truly bored. I’m working so insanely hard these days and trying to be a good parent and daughter and sibling and partner. So much is happening right now in my family and professional life that it’s kind of impossible to lasso. Someday I hope to be able to write about it all (The Great Family Insanity of Mid-2014) but in my old and wizened state, I am trying to let dust settle when I can before kicking it back up again. (My employers circa 2009 would be so proud to hear this, I bet!)

It’s kind of insane the degree to which so many things have fallen apart these past few weeks. But it’s equally insane the degree to which so many things are getting set up to happen. Potentially. Although, maybe not. That’s the problem with potential.

And while I have to mourn the loss of things that can’t ever be the same again, I’m not afraid. We keep moving forward until we don’t move anymore. That’s what we do. If I’ve learned anything it’s that This Is What We Do, even when we don’t have any clue what we’re doing.

That comforts me. Because tonight I saw someone in the window reflection who clearly understood that.

Bad habits

You know how you pick up a bad habit and at first it feels awesome, and you’re like, “Why did I not start doing this earlier?!?” and you want to do it all the time, and you begin to redefine who you are based in part on the fact that you are now a participant in this particular bad habit and what that means for you, practically and philosophically. And then eventually you start feeling shitty, and you can’t figure out why because you never suspect the bad habit as the culprit right away. But if you start really paying attention, you realize, yeah, that bad habit you picked up really is to blame, and is really bad for you, and has caused you to squander certain parts of your time and your self that you can’t get back. And sure enough, that bad habit did redefine you. Now as someone who has to recover from said bad habit. As someone stupid enough to pick up a bad habit, fully aware.

You only get the one

You know that thing where people write their past selves a letter? Sometimes I think about doing that, and it would be sassy and start off with something like “You think things are going to get less complicated, girly? Well, think again!” Except it would have to end there because Present Me has no real wisdom to impart to Past Me, except maybe try to be nicer, because apparently I am an asshole.

This blog itself, the whole T&G machine, is sort of a reverse of that idea. Letters from Past Me to Present Me or Future Descendants. Cautionary tales and moments of great hubris caught in pixels and immortalized for my child to one day peruse, mortified. Or maybe, worse yet, he will just find it all boring. I can’t even imagine what life’s electronic cookie crumbs will be like by the time he is old enough to dig up dirt on his ol’ Ma. It’s possible that his entire conscience will be so awash in extraneous data that clicking through my midtwenties confessionals will just constitute one more obligatory TL;DR. Or maybe by then it will be old hat for children to have to pick through their parents’ digital detritus to get to the good stuff. Just something you do. I can’t even fathom.

But, Past Me and Future Me — if I can have your attention for just a second. Let’s just do this real quick. Remember this moment. For no other reason than because of its ordinariness and extraordinariness, spooning here together like sleepy, fat cats. This moment when you are sitting on the couch in your little green nightgown that is ill fitting and should not be worn outside (but has frequently been today because you lack shame). You are in need of a shower and you’ve just spent the last three days convalescing thanks to some mystery bug that took you down fast — sore throat, sneezing, aches, fatigue, coughing, and — the kicker — a very low brain tide. You’ve just now begun to feel like yourself again, which is to say you are all over the place in thought and action. You just hand-washed three shirts and cleaned the filthy HVAC intake vent by hand, and you’re breathing gingerly and sipping warm coffee while the young boy naps upstairs and the older boy naps in the bedroom and you entertain this urge to write something down. It’s warm outside and earlier when you went out to hang up those hand-washed shirts, the concrete burned the bottoms of your feet but you liked it, a little bit. Over the past two days, you have just received news of several babies of people close to you being born and several whose impending arrivals were announced, and your heart swells with pride and happiness and then churns with some form of diluted envy (because the thought of a little newborn head in your hands twists up your insides with longing, because you are your ovaries, you monkey). You don’t know if you will ever have another child. You don’t even know how to begin thinking about it, really. Money is tight and all you want to is take your own baby, who is so bright and so happy, to see the ocean. But this isn’t the year. You are not sure if there will ever be a year because you cannot seem to dig out. You are worried. You coast along on a transcontinental railroad of worry and it’s making you grey. Or maybe your DNA is doing that. Or maybe it’s just your age because you’re no spring chicken right now. This is thirty-two. Thirty-two is the age your mother was when you were seven. When you look at pictures of your mother when you were seven, you are jealous. That lady was a fox! You are getting off track. The point is, this moment is ordinary in every way. And in every way it’s not.

Because it is your life, and you only get the one.

A weird thing that happened last week

My mom and I took Holden to a nice new park in Savannah for its grand opening weekend. We were there to meet up with T, a close friend I’ve had since third grade. I never get to see her and she’d never met Holden, so this reunion was long overdue. The reunion came and went too quickly and I had to get my grumpy, overheating 2.5-year-old back to the car.

On the way out, I spotted a guy I went to high school with and his wife, who were watching their children play. I hadn’t seen them in 14 or so years, probably. I waved at them and said hello and things were pleasant for a sec. Then the guy said that he saw T and me walk in and thought to himself, “Things just got a lot meaner!” And then that we must have been the reason the storm clouds suddenly rolled in. His wife was sorta like, “Oh, STOP!” to him and they laughed. I didn’t know what to say so I just kind of walked off, thinking maybe I was having a heatstroke.

I incredulously relayed this story to my mother, who was already waiting for us in the car, and she said, “Well. You were a very angry young lady.” Which was not a comfort in that moment.

First the comeuppance in the park and then my mom hitting me with a truth bomb to blow up my ego? Ooof. But, point taken.

It’s weird; I don’t remember too much about high school. I remember being hormone-addled and angsty, of course, and being so over everything, all the time. I remember feeling such crushing social awkwardness and shyness that I just wanted to disappear. It was easier to channel my discomfort into disdain than it was to channel it into anything else. I remember wanting out of Hardin County because it seemed like a horrible black hole and no place to end up. I remember being annoyed by everything and everyone but I don’t remember being mean. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t mean, though, in ways I maybe didn’t quite understand and don’t remember. And that is the part that worries me. To think that I do things I don’t even know I am doing is scary to me.

I do have a mean streak. I think I can comfortably say that. I try to use it for good and not evil, though. But I’m prone to epic misjudgments at times and I tend to be unserious and irreverent at bad times. So maybe that comes across as mean or at least uncaring.

However, I don’t think I was ever mean to this particular guy. I mean, he was part of a group of people who were very much what would be considered the top social caste of the school. Maybe that was just in my mind but it seemed obvious at the time. And I thought we got along fine! Anyway, hopefully it felt good to get that off his chest if he’s been hanging onto it for 14 years. I’m sure it’s got to be satisfying to see me fat and pale and still as clueless 14 years later, right?

It’s really weird how I am always blindsided to find out that people don’t like me (even though I usually assume people aren’t going to and I often spend a lot of time and energy trying to make them like me). But here’s the thing that is as true then as it is now: No matter how much anyone thinks I suck, I am hardwired to think I suck more than anyone else thinks I suck. So. Y’all can’t win that game.

An addendum to my latest opinion of the Universe

This might be true but it’s also true that the Universe’s hook will cut you in soft, vulnerable, fleshy spots you only thought you had hidden and protected.

And the discovery of those cuts will make you really fucking sad. And make you realize you have a lot of work to do to get those spots toughened up, guarded, cut out of you entirely.

Midnight and then some

I’m in a nasty mood. I’ve been sick for-fucking-ever and today had a coughing fit so violent that I puked. Twice. Yeah. This week was rough (new work gig; manageable but a tough transition while feeling this shitty). I miss my cats (long story; maybe I will write about it eventually). I am eaten up with worry about things that are utterly out of my hands. Holden’s sick too and seems miserable all night long, barking a croupy cough in his sleep every hour. Everything, including my head, seems like it’s in a bad spot, which shouldn’t be surprising but is. Always. Even though it probably happens regularly enough to track on a calendar. (Yes, I have an app for that.) I seriously just googled “how to not need love” if that tells you anything about where my brain is. The results are extremely disappointing.