22 December 2014

Defining Home & Listening to Joni Mitchell

It's coming on Christmas. They're cutting down trees. They're putting up reindeer and singing songs of joy and peace. Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on

I know that I'm in a funk because I keep listening to Joni Mitchell's Blue album while I do the most remedial things like unpack boxes, or load the dishwasher, or brew a pot of coffee. I look up every once in a while and think "this is not my house" and it's not a Talking Heads reference, it's just the truth. I'll be watching Downton Abbey with my mom and look out the window, and I don't see the pond I grew up next to. I go upstairs to my room to read a book, and the color of the walls is all wrong. My room has always been purple, and now it's the color of oatmeal, and I don't even like oatmeal no matter how much I want to be the type of girl who loves oatmeal with fruit on top every morning for breakfast. I don't even really like eating breakfast. At least, not before 10.

But it don't snow here. It stays pretty green. I'm going to make a lot of money, then I'm going to quit this crazy scene. Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on. 

At night, my friends in Michigan call me drunk from the bar or send pictures of themselves making sad faces because they want me to know that they wish I was there, and God, do I wish I was there. I am so lonely for so many people and places, that sometimes my heart physically aches. I'm taking showers that are much too long, and much too hot. I'm going on coffee dates with strangers just because they thought I was interesting or they liked the color of my eyes, and I don't even care if they're being honest. The only two boys I was ever really in love with both live across the country, and both of them know that I never appreciate anything that I have when I still have it. My best friends are all over the world and I haven't seen some of them in almost two years. My family, which was always concentrated in Illinois, is scattering all over the country.

I'm so hard to handle, I'm selfish, and I'm sad. Now I've gone and lost the best baby that I ever had. I wish I had a river I could skate away on 

I know that feeling displaced is simply a consequence of growing older, but if home is where the heart is, then I feel like my heart is spreading itself much too thin. I feel like a homesick child at a sleepover, if the sleepover were every single night. As much as I romanticize spontaneity and adventure -- I am, at my core, a creature of habit, and comfort, and nesting. 

Oh, I wish I had a river so long, I would teach my feet to fly. 

I have a really good life, and most days I am so filled with love for everything and everyone in it. Despite the nature of this post, I am incredibly happy. I have a hard time adjusting to new things and letting go of old ones. It's been difficult to accept that another family is living in the house I grew up in, that my friends are all together at a bar, and I am here, in South Carolina. It's a beautiful place. My parents built a gorgeous home in a wonderful town that I already feel attached to. But, much like how I am with people, I'm afraid to let a new place mean too much to me. You can't make homes out of human beings, but I'm not sure you can make homes out of places either - not permanent ones, anyway. 

I wish I had a river I could skate away on. I made my baby say goodbye.

I'm not sure how to define what home means to me, because I'm not sure as though I have one right now. I have many homes. I love and am loved in many places, and maybe I should just let that be enough.

18 December 2014

The Self-Care Tag

I am a perfectionist, competitive, people-pleasing, attention monger. It’s easy for me to feel neglected by others and for me to neglect myself. I keep myself busy with my relationships, projects, and work. I feel as though I’m constantly balancing a myriad of projects, and when it gets to be too much, I either just scrap an idea entirely or I sacrifice my well-being to make something happen. It’s not the healthiest thing in the world, but it’s how I’ve always lived.

Sometimes, I need to remember to take care of myself. When Misha tagged me to do the self-love tag, I was in the middle of finals week, which meant not only finishing up my own projects and classes, but grading a million of my students’ papers. I wasn’t being all that self-loving, so now that the semester is done, and that no good week is over, I think it’s the perfect time to write about self-care!

1. What piece of advice would you give a child about to grow up with the pressures of today's media and its crushing expectations?
 Be your own brand. The most influential people in media are the people who think outside the box and experiment without worrying about the consequences. I think younger people see media as something to follow and keep up with, but media is created by the taste-makers, not trend followers. Successful celebrities and artists are unapologetically themselves and aren't afraid to bring something new and bold to the table. Concern yourself with being genuine and doing what makes you happy. The right people will find you.

2. What song puts you in a good mood every time?
5 Years Time by Noah & the Whale. As soon as that whistling starts, I feel pretty dandy.

3. What is the best advice someone gave you or you realized about life?
A friend of mine died very young, and it devastated an entire community. She was one of those people who walked into a room and lit it up. I'm not saying that because she's gone. I always knew this about her, even when she was alive. She was so beautiful, and generous, and accepting, and just the most authentic person I had ever met. I spent a lot of years being both jealous of her, and completely in awe of her. I felt lucky to have someone like that in my life and lucky that someone like her wanted to be friends with me. When she died, I was talking with one of our friends and she asked, "What if it had been one of us?" She didn't mean it selfishly. She was just scared. It was the first time I remember being really aware of my mortality, of how brief and unpredictable my life was. I want to leave the world a better place than I found it, not because I want to be remembered, but because I want to know that my time here made some sort of difference. 

4. Who makes you giggle like a giggle monster?
I feel like I tend to gravitate toward hilarious people. Different people make me laugh for different reasons, but at some point each of my friends have thrown me into a giggle fit.

5. What is something about society that bugs you that you wish didn't?
Honestly, I can't think of anything that bothers me that I wish didn't bother me. I think that keeping a critical perspective and being socially aware can only benefit all of us in the long-term. 

6. What is one of your favorite things to do on the weekends?
 I'm actually an old woman trapped in a young person's body, so my favorite thing to do on a Saturday is order a pizza, clean, and play catch-up on everything I was too busy to do during the week. Saturday nights, I like to go out with friends (I'm a surprisingly big fan of drinking games). Sundays I like to sleep in (and possibly cuddle, you know), read, catch up on my TV shows, and emotionally prepare myself to go back to school & work on Monday. I like to burn a lot of candles and get a lot of use out of my twinkle lights.

7. What is something you're really proud of that you've done?
I'm prouder of small moments than I am of big accomplishments. I'm proud of any time I did the right thing when I didn't have to, but I also don't like talking about those moments in a public forum. Most of the time, it's someone else's story to tell, and I think good deeds are cheapened by bragging about them. You should do good for the sake of doing good, not to give yourself a story to tell.

8. What is one of your favorite memories with a friend?
A few years ago I went to the AWP conference in Chicago with my friend Crystal. We had always gotten along, but were never really close until that weekend. Fast forward, three years later, and she's one of my best friends in the whole world. I honestly don't know what I would do without her, and I know that everyone says that about their best friend, but it's completely true. We always make note of our friendaversary, and it makes me remember all of the good food we ate, and the conversations we had, and her walking slowly next to me as I tried to navigate the icy sidewalks in my brand new heeled boots.

9. What advice would you give to someone who needs a boost in confidence?
No envy, no fear.

10. Lastly, how do you plan on investing in self-love?
With the new year coming up, I've actually been thinking about this a lot. I need to give myself some breathing room to just let myself experience my life instead of getting so caught up in the little inconsequential details. I want to simplify my life, get rid of anything or anyone that is toxic to my well-being, be kinder to my body, invest more time in expressing my love for people in my life, and create art that makes me feel fulfilled.

I would like to tag:

Andrea @ Honey Sweet Bird
Beverly @ Beverbee

17 December 2014

Conclusion: I Am Elaine Benes

When bae isn't paying attention to me and I need confirmation from my male friends:

When someone thinks I'm flirting, but I'm just being polite:

When I have to go to a party or reception that I know is going to be lame:

Me at said event or reception:

When explaining my ridiculously specific standards to people:

When I become a blubbering mess every time a handsome man talks to me:

When I'm getting restless at the office around 2pm:

When I pretend that I don't care about a guy because I'm protecting my feelings:

How my dad sees me:

Lastly, I, too, only like the top of the muffin. The rest is crap.

05 November 2014

Becoming Real

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
The Velveteen Rabbit (or How Toys Become Real) by Margery Williams, 1922
(illustration by Rob Woodrum)