My tongue is in my hand…

Archive for the ‘So I read a book…’ Category

Sometimes, even when I don’t think I’m praying, God likes to jump into my conversations with myself. Kind of like the person standing behind you in line while you’re talking to whomever you’re with (loudly enough for everyone to hear), who just goes ahead and tosses in a passing comment like they were part of the conversation all along.

Today, it was right as I was grabbing the hair dryer. I asked,”When is everything just going to be okay?”

Before the thought was finished, the response came: “What if it already is?”

What if everything is okay, right now, always? What if we’re missing it the whole time because of how we’re looking at it?

What if nothing was not okay?

This makes me think of the book “The Shack” by William P. Young. Maybe not the question itself, but the thoughts that follow it. So what if rape and murder and abuse were okay? What if the Holocaust, 9/11, slavery, cancer, AIDS, homelessness, poverty, etc were okay? That’s what I think of when I think of someone arguing with this post. (I always imagine people arguing against my post, it’s part of my writing process).

What if our expectations, standards, and perspectives are the only thing making things not okay? To stop thinking in terms of right and wrong, to stop trying to make everything fit into an equation or a diagram.To stop thinking in  “should” and “shouldn’t s”.

Perspectives such as, if you’re a child, you shouldn’t have bad things happen to you. Why not? Because you’re less experienced and less capable of defending yourself, it would be the loving and responsible thing to do as a fellow human being to care for you and not harm you, yes. But your inherent right? Maybe not. Maybe not for anyone.

What are our rights? Our true human rights? I don’t necessarily know, this is all off the cuff here- but I do think that we believe we have more “rights” than we do, cosmically.

We focus more on what others should and shouldn’t do to and for and around us and not enough on how we can make the most of ourselves and our lives. How we can play the hell out of the hands we’re dealt. How we can be okay, with anything, with everything. How we can be loving, conscientious, purposeful, joyful, creative, ambitious, caring, interesting, empathetic, helpful, intimate, encouraging, empowered, inspiring…how we can be something instead of how we should be. Instead of how things should be…how are we, how can we see things, how can we can be, how our world can be.

How our little intimate, intricate, world we hold in our heart, in our minds, in our spirits; the universe that revolves around our energies; how it can be. The possibility of life, of living, of belief, of something so much bigger than our expectations- than something we can design for ourselves.

How can we take what we have,whatever that may be, and work with it? How can it be okay? Not that we won’t feel sad or angry or disappointed, but that it will be okay. That we feel things, that things happen, and that we have a peace about it, in the midst of it. That we believe it’s okay, even if we are not happy, even if we are devastated.

And to think beyond our world- what can we do outside of ourselves to contribute to the “okay” in someone else’s world? What can we do to bring ourselves together? To be okay together?

What if everything is already okay? And we are making it way too complicated? What if we’re missing it, and it’s right here?

What if?

There’s this guy. His name is John. Or maybe he spells it Jon. I don’t really know. I also don’t know his last name. I met him at the coffee shop. We happened to be sitting at the same table one day, because we happened to have the same friend sitting at the same table. He always has at least one book with him.  If I have the good fortune of catching him there, I usually pick up his literature and flip through it while he plays chess (usually with Adam, or maybe Mark, or possibly someone else) right before they go rock climbing. I like them, they’re good people. They don’t mind talking, or not talking, they don’t mind answering questions or asking them. They don’t mind if I sit with them and ignore them while I do other things.  They don’t seem to mind if I chatter stupidly for a while. But the truly notable thing for the purpose of this post is, he is walking across North Carolina. He started at the outer banks and is walking to the mountains (I think).

He told me when I first met him that he wanted to do this, journaling the whole experience. I think it’s a great idea. I mean, logistically there are some issues, but I hope it’s great. I’m glad he’s doing it. Mainly because he said he wanted to. I hope he’s writing about it.

It makes me think of Eustace Conway and the book “The Last American Man”. I told John/Jon to read that book. Seemed right up his alley, considering his plan. Right now, I’m reading a book I got from paperbackswap by William Least Heat-Moon. It’s called “Blue Highways”. I find it fascinating. Also fascinating, “What Should I Do With My Life” by Po Bronson. The books are not the same, but similar in ways. I’m not much for writing book reviews or summaries, so if you want to know, you’ll have to google it.

Anyways, I’m sending good vibes John/Jon’s way. Maybe I’ll run into another mutual friend soon who’s heard from him. I’m interested to know it all…how many cups of coffee do you think that would take…?

New Years Eve, it was a week ago, and I was going to write something sooner, but didn’t. You know.

Anyways on the way home from work, I stopped at Food Lion to pick up some stuff for the night, since a few people were coming over. Well I guess while I was driving, the bag with the beer in it fell so it was leaning against the hatch, so that when I opened it to get the groceries out, it fell and busted all over the driveway.Well, damn it.

So on my way back from dropping Natalie off at my moms, I stop at the same Food Lion and buy another six pack. Upon entering, this guy who works there and usually small talks with me (or makes fun of me for going back and forth in the store because sometimes I go in there and don’t know what I’m getting) says “You’re back?” So I explain to him, the cashier, the bag boy, the lady paying for her groceries. I get the beer and go.

I’m headed to get the pizza when my husband calls and says his sister wanted something to drink. Damn it! I just left there buying alcohol for the 2nd time tonight! Okay, enter Food Lion again and the cashier goes – “You’re back again!” I say “Yes, and I swear this is the last time I’m coming in here to buy alcohol tonight!” So I hurry and grab what Amanda wanted and a lady lets me skip her in one of the two lanes they have open and I sit it down and see that two drinks are missing. Damn it! So, I go back and by the time I’m to the line they are both full of people with full carts and no one offers to let me skip.

So, finally home I drop everything in the kitchen and go get ready, which really just consisted of switching out one black shirt for another and finally putting on some makeup because that was one of those days where I just didn’t quite manage to get any on earlier.

I open my wine and taste Jason’s moonshine (which was flavored and not bad at all especially compared to what I’ve had before- this must be the difference in moonshine that comes from truck drivers and moonshine that comes from school system employees)

Alicia gave me my birthday gifts, wrapped in Christmas paper, which she blamed her husband for (and I’m sure rightly so). She got me a family guy daily calender, and it’s kind of fun to tear the days off, never done that before. And she checked my wishlist on paperbackswap and got me “Not quite what I was planning: six word memoirs by writers famous and obscure” which I was (and still am) very excited about.

We started looking through it and then got on a six word kick the rest of the night randomly claiming phrases as memoirs. Amanda said twice “Man, I smell really good tonight” so we decided that was hers. Alicia called Dick Clark Dick Cheney, which still makes me laugh, but not as much as I did then and then she stated that Carson Daly was doing the countdowns since he stopped doing TLC (she meant TRL) which made me laugh so much my stomach hurt. I mean, one of them burnt their ex’s house down, Carson Daly dated Jennifer Love Hewitt.  Anyways, after these back to back comments, Alicia’s husband piped up from the other room “And that would be my dumbass” which we felt was a great memoir. I was accused of playing my work role (counseling) during girl talk so I said “Maybe I always play this role” which is probably quite true and not really funny, but still, 6 words.

I made brownies because I am an expert at making undercooked chocolate desserts that you have to eat with a spoon and upon the encouragement of Amanda and Alicia added 1/4 bag of heath bar pieces, dark chocolate chips, mini chocolate chips and reeses peanut butter chips. Alicia questioned who  needs that many chocolate chips.  But my question is, who doesn’t? (which is 6 words, btw)

I realized when I went to the bathroom that I had brownie mix on my boob and went out and asked why no one bothered to tell me. Amanda said she saw it and was going to, but forgot or something. Alicia said it probably happened when I was in hysterics regarding Carson Daly and TLC so she felt no sympathy. I changed (this time to a black tank top, in case you care)

So, six words to sum up the past year: “Storms, shatter; shelter, repair in progress”

Six words to sum up what I hope for this year: “Clarity, peace, seek, find, follow through”

Six words for Carson Daly: “Too bad about you and TLC”

Okay, so I’m going to start with this:  My sister gave me incense as one of my birthday gifts.  The one I picked to burn tonight reminded me of some time between 6th and 7th grade.  For all practical purposes, I could probably just label this time as “before”.  It wasn’t before sickness or death, but otherwise, it was “before”.  Incense doesn’t always smell as good when it burns as it does before, but this does.  I actually just brought the carved wooden burner down from the top of the bookshelf to my desk, so I could watch the thick smoke weave around my glass of wine.  The wine is called Serendipity. It’s a sweet red wine.  Also on the table are mini chocolate chips, spilled from their bag, perfect before a sip of Serendipity. Or after.

I just had dinner, lying on my stomach watching Fight Club.  Leftovers from my birthday dinner with Jason.  Chicken in lemon butter sauce with goat cheese and sun dried tomatoes, a side of spaghetti.  Wonderful.

I think now, I should say that my father gave me 50$ before I went to the craft fair with my mom and Natalie yesterday.  He always slips me money, like he doesn’t want anyone else to know what he gives me. I don’t care.  The craft fair was crowded, fun.  I bought lotions that I said I was going to give as stocking stuffers, but only managed to put one in the closet Christmas stash, keeping honeysuckle blossom, coconut lime, hydrangea, and another I don’t remember right now; I gave up country apple.  Natalie got a free carved deer and snow cone, got her face painted. I have most of that money left.  It’s going towards jeans. Muy importante since I just rubbed a hole in the knee of one of my two pairs while playing with Natalie.

My mom gave me earrings I admired at a different craft fair a few weeks ago. They’re simple, unique. Perfect.

Rachel, in addition to the incense, gave me the movie The Wedding Date, which I haven’t seen, and more importantly, two CD’s.  She made me two flashback CD’s.  I’ll have to list the contents another time.  It’s awesome.

When I got home on Friday (my birthday), Natalie came up to the car and said “We got you ice cream cake!” Jason said it was supposed to be a surprise, and she said “We got a pa-prise for you!”, singsong like.  Turns out Jason had bought flowers and a Victoria Secret gift card (which I have no doubt already spent) and an ink cartridge for the printer, in hopes it would now work for me. It won’t, but not for his lack of trying.  He had pizza right out of the oven (this is actually quite huge, to have dinner ready when I come home). And there were two framed pictures of Natalie, and a card Natalie and one of her friends had made, which Natalie was very excited about and proud of.  Natalie ate cake before pizza.  We ate cake after pizza.  It was good, it was a “pa-prise”!

Next weekend we should be going to hear my brother in law play at a bar/club, hopefully with some friends, if we can figure out the whole thing with membership or whatever. It’s great when your birthday spreads itself over a week or two.

So now, with all that said, there are only two more things to say: I sat in the Aeropostle dressing room and prayed and I checked, for the first time ever I think, to make sure Natalie’s windows were locked.

I sat on the bench in the dressing room and lay my head in my hands that were resting on my legs “Please give me the strength to not hate my body, and the ability to get rid of this fat“, disgust seeping into my prayer.  I know, fluorescent lights after an Italian dinner are not a great idea, but still, it was bad.  I grew up with three floor-to-ceiling mirrors (those are standard closet doors in modular homes made at that time, apparently).  I had no curtains or blinds, so a lot of natural light.  I was critical, but I never was filled with the self-hate that I developed some time after I got married.  I also developed at this time a desire to isolate, writer’s block, and food as a serious vice.  I would be miserable and disgusted, but eat more because it didn’t matter, I was ruined beyond repair and no one cared anyway.

Being a “Qualified Mental Health Professional” as my professional title states, I’d say this is known as depression.  That word is so general, so common.  It doesn’t, unless you know from experience, give any indication to the various nuances and depths of depression.  It is a sneaky and chameleon-like thing.  It figures out the very best way to creep in and it molds around you just so and in the smallest ways disables you until by the time you realize it, it’s too late.  You just don’t care.

But it’s this specific aspect of it that I have to write about now: self-hate.  I have to do something with this.  There is not room in my life for this. Any time spent hating my self is time I’m not spending loving my daughter, or anyone else for that matter.  And when self-hate is cultivated, the whole space becomes a place for ugly and destructive things. And it’s not only toxic, but it’s also uncontrollable, it begins to choke out the good, and you begin to throw seeds of it at others.

I ask people, when they are being hard on themselves if they would say those things to me or their daughter.  They always say no, almost in horror.  It’s the same.  I would NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS tell Natalie that she holds less worth because she has fat or cellulite.  Or because she was disorganized or late. I would never tell her that she was ruined, disgusting, or ugly, stupid, or incompetent.  And I would tell her, if she wants to do something about it, she can, and I will support her.  I would tell her that she didn’t need to change to be beautiful, worthy, sexy, wonderful, or amazing, and that I love her always.  That she should only do something because she wanted it, and that she should love herself in the meantime, or whatever she was going to do wouldn’t work, and would instead consume and destroy her in a whole new way. I would tell her that being a good person is not about being flawless. I would tell her that sexuality and sensuality has less to do with the shape of your body, and more to do with what you do with the shape of your body.  Personally, I don’t really care so much about the shape of someone’s body in terms of sexuality.  There’s a lot of other things that I care about and those things pretty much determine someone’s sexiness to me.  So why is it not the same for me?  What does that say about what I think about men and what I believe they value? I don’t even want to go into that.  Same with my lack of ability to “do it all” and do it all flawlessly.  Do I expect that of others?  Do I not think others are capable of accepting my flaws?

I think of all the negative things I have been told about my body.  I’m sure I’ve been told more positive things, but those don’t stick, not if you don’t believe them, not if you think they’re lines or assurances for getting action.  I think about two boyfriends in a row having their friends call me to break up with me because they found someone “hotter”. I’m sure that’s more of a reflection on those boys, or my choice in boys than it is on my worth. I’m also pretty sure this just means they found someone who would put out, but that doesn’t really sting any less to a 14 year old.  It just starts a whole new train of thought.

And I checked Natalie’s windows because I remembered that violence is everywhere, it is unpredictable, and we have no promise to be saved from it.  This is much harder than the self hate thing.  Much much harder.  Reading “Lucky” by Alice Sebold reminded me of this, but it’s been here since I was mugged.  Such a small crime, minuscule act of violence, if you could even call it that.  But it put me on the other side, as she would say in the book.  The side you end up on is the side where you know that it doesn’t matter who you are or where you are or what you’re doing, you can be assaulted, you can be robbed, raped, kidnapped, abused or murdered. You can lose your job, your home, your car, your family, your credit, your health, your money to natural or man-made circumstances. You can love God and have these things happen to you.  You can be a good person and these things can happen to you.  You can follow the rules, you can follow precautions.  You heard it before, that it could happen to anyone, but until it happens to you, or someone close to you, you really don’t think it can.  You reason that it can’t- you pray enough, or something.  We want reason.  We want prayers to be guarantees.  But they aren’t.  And I left more than the skin of my palms on the asphalt in the Wal-Mart parking lot when I was 16, I left belief.

And I found a new truth that I was not safe and there were no safe places and there was no one to save me. And I found a very real fear.  There could be more, it could be worse, it could happen to anyone I love.  It was someone in the parking lot, it could be someone in my school, someone in a store, someone on my road, someone in my home, someone in my car.  People suddenly took on supernatural abilities in my mind to be anywhere at anytime and they all planned to hurt me and if not me, my family.  It was ceaseless, it was very very real.  It was undoubtedly consuming.  I don’t remember how I functioned, but I remember I just prayed and prayed that the fear would go away.  And I didn’t know what to do about God.  If he wasn’t going to keep bad things from happening to me, then what was he going to do?

I had this dream one night that will probably sound silly as it’s described, as dreams often do, but it’s effect was profound, so I’ll describe it anyway: I was in the woods and I had the fear, the same fear I felt daily.  I saw a bunch of sticks, bundled and hanging in trees in a circle and I was terrified.  I could feel evil right there, I was paralyzed.  And through the treetops there came a white light and this song: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace”.  I woke up and the fear was gone, not just from the dream, but from my day, from my mind, from my throat, my chest, my stomach, my heart.  I was free.  i was laying in sunlight.  I had room for gratefulness and peace and joy.  I had room to move.  I switched them out again: fear for belief.  I realized that I don’t have room for both.

And during the struggle that lasted about a year, the question really was:  Do you trust me, do you have faith or not?  Because you do or don’t.  You decide and go from there.  And I just couldn’t decide because I wanted faith.  I’m a believer, that’s how I work best, but how do you believe in the grit of the violence and the unknown?  Columbine happened shortly after this, compounding my terror that anything could happen to anyone at anytime, my fear that there was no safe place. Knowing all the horrible things that can happen and have happened and do happen and will happen.

And now, as an adult, now that money and credit and cars and homes and jobs are playing the role of “safety” and are just as susceptible to ruin as anything else, there’s opportunity for fear.  And fear dresses up like logic and reason and preparedness and responsibility.  Fear, like hate, once cultivated will spread and will choke out peace and joy and hope and belief.  I don’t have room for hate and belief together within me and I don’t have room for fear and belief within me.  Not to stay.  I understand that I must touch and taste these things though, or my belief is not belief.  Belief is a choice, an action, and insistence.  Belief is not blindness.

And when it comes down, and it will come down, you just do or you don’t. After you have laid down belief for a while, for whatever reason, it’s different when you pick it back up. And that’s not bad.  I’d say, my faith wasn’t faith until I acknowledged what it wasn’t.  And faith is something you decide on over and over again.  There are chances all the time to leave it behind.  And there are chances all the time to pick it back up.  Same with fear, same with hate.  Fear and hate are readily available everywhere. And wanting logic and reason and control are aspects that these things play on, that they manipulate with.  I’ve said before that belief is defiance of fear, it is also the defiance of hate.  Belief is other things too.  Belief is saying: yes, I know all that bad stuff and I choose to believe anyways.  It’s like love.  It’s a defiance.  It’s an acceptance.  It’s a constant choice.

I could imagine now all the horrible things that could happen to me and the people I love, or I could imagine that I will be okay in the face of anything, that beauty, hope, love, peace, and joy will still exist, and I will still have access to them.  I think sometimes we think this is some kind of cosmic allowance for bad things to enter our lives, that if we accept them and say we can handle them, then this somehow invites trouble, but this is naive.  This is pretending we have control again that we don’t have; we want to think we can prevent things, but we can’t.  We can only deal with things.

It breaks my heart to think of something bad happening to me or anyone I love, but that really doesn’t change anything. That doesn’t halt things in their tracks or create a shield.  It is so sad the things that are laid on people’s lives. But it can be beautiful, what can be done with these things. The hardest thing about faith is accepting that there is some thing that makes sense that we don’t understand. What I believe is that we are all part of this big masterpiece and we can see the beauty of our life when we are open to the different permutations of beauty and accept our lives as they are, instead of focusing on what we wish they were or thought they were or were told they would be. I believe that though we may think there are specific things we would change about our life, we can never know if those changes would really make things better. I believe that prayer is a way to transform our internal lives, not our external circumstances (though by transforming us internally, we may transform our circumstances)

A friend of mine wrote in a blog: “Sometimes, pain is so deep that even the promise of heaven isn’t enough.”  and I find this so true. There is a depth of pain in which heaven, faith, and God no longer seems relevant to us, not in the way we knew of before. But I think, when in that depth, if in some parts of our heart we are still hoping for some kind of salvation, still wanting more, (which I believe that everyone still living is doing in some way) then we can discover a whole other idea of these things.

I had the opportunity tonight to buy fear and I tried it on and I didn’t want it but it wouldn’t come off, it’s stubborn, it’s like depression, or hate, or any maladaptive thought, it quickly adapts to us, fits our forms at first and then forms us to fit.  And when you fit something like this, you have no room left for anything else.  You have to actually peel away a layer of your skin before you are released, and then, your landscape has changed.

But maybe that’s the only way.  It’s not so much the landscape, as what you do with it, right?  Eventually, no matter what happens, there are befores and afters.  I just can’t go back, I won’t, I won’t. I will not cultivate self hate.  I will not cultivate fear.  I don’t have room for those things.  I understand what’s out there and I, with that knowledge, choose to believe because I understand who I am without belief and I don’t like that person, I don’t do well as that person, I don’t do anything worthwhile as that person. I will not be that person. I choose. Sometimes, it seems like every breath is a choice and I don’t choose belief with every breath, I don’t choose self love with every breath.  Sometimes I purposely step out of belief, to remember why I choose belief, to remind myself of my options. Sometimes, I’m just in a mirror disgusted and verbally abusing  my self, or checking my child’s windows imagining murder, rape, and abductions. But the thing about the “after” side is that there is a vigilance here, and an understanding that there’s a difference in survival mode and living.

I like laying in sunlight, incense wrapping around wine bottles, craft fairs, singing Ace of Bass with my sister, and “pa-prises” of homemade cards and frozen pizza. Survival mode doesn’t register these things. Survival mode is an after, but it’s also a before.  It’s after the shatter.  It’s before the choice.  It’s a fight sometimes, to survive and a fight sometimes to do more than survive. But believers are fighters and I’ll fight. I’ll fight to weed out and stomp down, burn, bury, and compost the things that I don’t have room for, the things I choose I don’t want. I’ll fight to feel good enough to be present for the things I do want, to not be consumed by fighting.  I am flawed.  I can not do it all.  I can not save anyone or myself.  I will fuck up.  Things will fuck me up.  But I believe.  I believe.  I believe.  I believe because I choose to.  I believe because I want to.  I believe because I need to.  That’s all.  You do or don’t.

I wrote these lines, referring to the mugging:

There are bruises on my arm,

gravel in my palms,

you just did me a thousand favors.

The cumulative experience of the loss, the fear, the struggle, and the release granted me the opportunity for a new kind of faith.  It was an after, but it was also a before (as all things are). Because I have seen that there are tunnels and there is light.  I believe not because I see the light at the end of the tunnel, but because I know there is a light.  I believe knowing that there is light before and after the tunnel; there is a tunnel before and after the light.  I believe that with each light, I can take for myself a portion to carry through the next tunnel, and I can do this until the tunnel has no more room for darkness, and I am with the light all the time.  But I have to keep moving and I have to keep pushing the darkness out with the light; within me, around me, before me.

I believe, I believe, I believe.

So far this summer:

Took Natalie to Movies in the Park in Locust twice and saw the Bee Movie and Shrek 3 and bought and consumed between 3 adults and 1 two year old approximately 4 bags of popcorn, 3 bags of cotton candy, 2 snow cones, 2 bags of M&M’s, sweetarts, a nerds rope, and 15$ worth of McDonalds

Took Natalie to the Lake Tillary and spent the day at the sandbar with Dad and there is surprisingly little to say except it was really nice and Natalie had a blast

Went to Oakboro 4th of July Parade and festival and watched Natalie “drive” a blue jeep several times and saw a guy wearing white high tops, tapered leg stonewash jeans with a white wife-beater tucked in to them and a blonde mullet!

Took Natalie to the Lazy 5 Ranch and realized I am kind of scared of ostriches and let a big deer-like animal lick my hand and saw the cutest little baby pigs and poor Natalie got scared by a peacock flying over her but otherwise had a good time

Went to Book Club at Sharon’s (June: Sunday’s at Tiffany’s and Tulle Little Tulle Late) and Alicia’s(July: Friday Night Knitting Club) where the power went out for no apparent reason and we realized we have been exclusively reading the same books and meeting to discuss them (and eat, and talk) for a year now! Happy Anniversary to Book Club! Haley said we’re celebrating with Margarita’s at our next meeting 😉

Went to my cousin Lexy’s wedding and wore a dress I bought on clearance for 7$ right before I found out I was pregnant and had not yet worn and finally just decided that if it was still too tight I would just have to get over it because it’s not baby weight when your kid is two and half and only after I put it on and started moving around (to walk out the door) did I realize that I really wished I had some double sided tape because it was pretty low cut and pretty much one of the last things I want to do is flash one of my cousins or great uncles (which I managed not to do, yay me!)

Met Julie R. for coffee and realized she also LOVED the Romeo and Juliet with Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio and also LOVED the soundtrack J

Went to see The Dark Knight at 11pm on a Sunday night with Jason which made me feel like I was 16 again because it’s a pretty uncommon occurrence to be able to get someone to sit (thanks Amanda) on a 30 minute notice at 11pm on a Sunday night. I somehow only ate ½ my box of Milk Duds, which is nothing short of amazing, as the whole box is usually gone before the movie actually starts

Went to Katie’s graduation party at my cousin Stephanie’s at watched Natalie’s cousin drive her around in a Barbie jeep and it reminded me of my cousin Julie driving us around in this go kart that broke down like every other week

Ate at Troutman’s with the whole aunt/uncle/cousin crew which is a throwback to younger, pre boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/children days and rehashed the most painful and funny ways to fall off of objects (such as sleds) tied to motor powered objects (such as 4 wheelers and cars)

Went to my first keg party…which I’m sure is a little different with mainly almost 30’s instead of barely 20’s but still had a lot of fun and found the dumbest things hilarious, as alcohol manages to help you do and also managed not to die of boredom while talking about houses and other stuff that may or may not interest me at a party

Went to best-friend-since-kindergarten Carol’s house and sitting with her on her porch swing watching Natalie run around her yard it somehow felt like we were still kids, maybe 8 or 10. And the most bizarre thing, we have the same comforter set.  I just started laughing when I saw it in her bedroom, sometimes it’s like those twins that have been separated at birth but still like the same music and food and clothes. We picked the same weekends for our weddings and colors for bridesmaids dresses. So I guess it’s not really that bizarre that we have the same comforter set.

Went to Alicia’s and watched…hold on…foggy memory here…watched a UFC fight? Or watched people play horseshoes and Wii? All of it? Drank too much I do believe of whatever it was that Alicia mixed for me…so I don’t remember much, but it was fun, always is!

part two up next…

Excerpts from my “How to get lost”

I watched you cut your teeth on daydreams,

intangibly full to the top,

believer set on fire, set apart

Your altars, your sanctuaries, your fields-

you were never able replace, and in the meantime…

beautiful child, who fed you so much apprehension?

you walked easy, confident

the collective mind rolled from your certainty,

never tainted you this way before

it looks like you have run out of reserves

and you’re hard recognize looking so unsure

While reading The Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert, Eustace Conway talks about his calling to be a Man of Destiny and it made me think of how we all have a calling, it’s just I don’t think we are often tuned in enough to realize it. At the risk of sounding weird I had this feeling when I was younger that I was in possession of something trans formative, that I had this bigger purpose, that it was going to change things. And then I lost that. And now I think that we all have the ability within our depths to do amazing, trans formative things. But first – belief, conviction, clarity.

So I’m reading this book and stopping every few pages to “gaze” as one of my friends calls it and I’m thinking about my convictions and the way I have ingested a toxic amount of pollution in my late teen/young adult years in the name of being “normal” or “realistic”. I wrote in my personal journal recently that I don’t understand how to live in this world, that it doesn’t make sense to me and I feel like I am constantly failing at it. And it made me think of a Bible verse “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as it’s own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of this world. ” John 15:18-19

I find endless comfort in the written (or sung) word.

And I am extremely impressionable (or absorbent).

I studied Kate Chopin’s The Awakening for my 11th grade English project in which the main character realizes that she has more within her than just living up to the expectations of others and the society she is part of. I subsequently broke up with my boyfriend and quit AP Honors 3 years into a 4 year program. Not like I hadn’t already considered doing both, it just gave me that final push.

And in elementary school I LOVED the Babysitters Club series by Ann M. Martin and I would try to make my outfits emulate the ones I read about that Claudia, Stacy, or Dawn were wearing (because they were the cool ones). My best friend Carol and I tried to form our own babysitting club which was completely futile as we lived in a rural area and were way too young to take care of people’s kids other than her brothers and my cousins for a couple of hours at a time (and for free).

And I’ve got to say that a good deal of my life philosophies as a child came from song lyrics, usually Country or Christian (and I have a very 1990’s fuzzy blue quote book that I actually still add to as evidence of this).

Oh, this has got to be one of the funniest impressionable moments…After reading one of the books from the Anne of Green Gables series I remember standing outside in the snow at night repeating this phrase about how romantic it all was because Anne had done that. Oh my.

Looking back, I’m really surprised my parents didn’t think there was maybe something a little off about me, because I also remember wearing these “vintage dresses” aka dresses my mom wore in the 70’s just around the house for no good reason. And I had my mom make me bell bottoms to wear in 5th grade which I wore with a tie dye shirt, earning myself the nickname “hippie”. I have no idea what possessed me to do that, but quite possibly a book. And I worried about sounding weird in the first part of this blog. Ha.

Oh, and after reading Harriet the Spy I sat at the library “spying” on people around me, trying to record their conversations and details of their appearance and the surroundings. It was a short lived detective experiment, but fun (and probably kind of funny) all the same.

And whenever I was playing outside by myself I think I pretty much thought I was a combination of Fern from Charlotte’s Web, Laura from the Little House on the Prairie series, Mary from The Secret Garden, Pocahontas (who I read a book about and did a project on in 5th or 6th grade), and the boy from The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White.

Now that I think of it, I’m not sure what book it was, maybe a Goosebumps or Sleepover Friends book but after reading it Carol and I attempted to make a ouija board out of a Lisa Frank(hello 1990’s girlhood again) writing tray and cut up pieces of paper. That’s just a funny combination.

One of the arguments you hear regarding what people read, watch, and listen to is based on the idea that we absorb the things we expose ourselves to and in turn this affects us in a variety of ways. Just recently a friend was telling me about seeing all these grown women dressed up like people from Sex and the City going to see the movie and stating that they spent absurd amounts of money on the night, emulating the characters.

I think the responsibility for our lives ultimately lies within us, but that includes the responsibility of being our own personal filter, and even our own censor in terms of limiting exposure to pollution. It’s not that hard to take in one too many and cross the line from fun to foggy (or just freakin’ weird).

…And I would walk

past the trees, the barn, the fields,

watch the seasons

come and go

know that so much remained

in the face of a world that changed

I need that thing

that roots me, that connects me

and runs deep

echoes peace and perseverance

holds steady…

This is part of Little Altars which I wrote around this time last year, because I write to figure it all out. And I was writing about every little altar I never knew I had, I never knew I lost, until it was far too late. but that’s not what I wanted to write about tonight.

I started reading “The Last American Man” by Elizabeth Gilbert. I miss the place I grew up. The land. I don’t know that it’s comprehensible to someone who has not loved land the amount of grief I felt leaving that place. It’s very possible that I lived at home during college (that first year and half before I got married) just so I could have more time there.

I knew, I knew in elementary school after we protested in my grandparents yard against the rock quarry being built next door that it would happen. I knew when we picked potatoes and all the adults just shook their head saying “It’s not enough”. I knew when they sold the cows. I knew. And after my grandfather died and they had to sell the land with their house on it to pay for hospital and funeral costs. And then they paved the gravel. And then the house was gone, years later.

It must have been so hard for my father and his brothers to pass that empty house day after day and watch it fall apart, be vandalized. To know that the place they grew up, their parents loved, their father raised his siblings after his dad died was just a shell. Like having to look at your parents rotting corpse every day; so familiar and disgustingly not. A constant reminder. And then to have it gone one day. You don’t know if you are relieved or heartbroken all over again.

And all that took years. It’s the longest goodbye I’ve known. It would have to be. It took about 18 years of my 24 for it to happen. The last leg was the worst. Because it was the last leg. Because it was over. The “for sale” sign. The talks of a junkyard buying that beautiful land my family lived and loved and worked on. The rock quarry ended up with it. The SOLD sign. Stupid checks. Who cares? You can’t just buy that again.

I can’t say I loved it the most or I miss it the most, but it is a solitary ache. I understand all the reasons it had to happen, I really do. But that doesn’t make it any less of a tragedy to me.

I would tell people that it happened, it was sold. It was addressed like it was any piece of land sold, an everyday thing. A good thing even, profit, moving on…I wanted to scream: YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND, SOMETHING VERY IMPORTANT WAS JUST LOST HERE, SOMETHING WE CAN NEVER GET BACK. But how could anyone even know that? I take that back. Carol knows. She’s the only other person I know at all that grew up on family land, that walked the woods and fed farm animals and sold produce and has a “for sale” sign on her heritage. Otherwise, growing up on a basically non functioning family farm while going to school in Charlotte is pretty much unheard of for my generation and so, it’s not misunderstood, it just not understandable.

I grew up on 100 acres. I now own .3 acres. I liked to climb this dogwood tree in my front yard and call it my clubhouse. There’s not a damn tree big enough to let your cat climb in this neighborhood. I had no curtains or blinds on my bedroom windows. I looked out at grass and trees and a valley that led to the creek and above that valley, the sun set behind the field and the trees. I keep my blinds closed now because if not, I could watch Hell’s Kitchen in my neighbor’s living room from my kitchen. I can count 30 houses from my back yard. I will admit, the neighborhood is quiet, dark at night, and there is an awesome view of the night sky.

And I know, from the houses I go to everyday, that I am in many ways fortunate to live where I live and how I live. But my heart literally aches for the land. For everything it meant, for everything it was. And in a way, I don’t want more, I really want less.

Of course, there’s no going back, there’s no way to give that to my daughter. But I can hope that in time I will have my own gravel driveway and wild blackberries and valleys and creeks and maybe some goats and connect us to the land again.

It’s not the same, but then, it never is.