• He Would Have Laughed

    I have always had a strong distaste for being a redhead.

    In addition to an unadmirable pain tolerance, my misfortune to not be born in Ireland or similar venue means that red hair is a rarity. In grammar school, we didn’t even so much as have a blonde. Everyone had black hair or brown – minus that quirky redhead in the corner. Inevitably, I was in a corner as a result. A defensive position ad hoc was all but required. I wasn’t so much a problem child in school but a problem for teachers. I was quickly bored and prone to ignore instructions. In 4th grade, I was basically given carte blanche to do whatever I want so long as I was quiet. While the terms of the deal were fluid, I effectively had the same agreement with every teacher I ever had. Even in college, it was write the paper and try not to make anyone cry during group conversations.

    Professionally…I have always been in the corner. Isolationist not by the same elements, at least. I’ve worked too many jobs where I’ve never known the name of anyone else in that office. I’ve worked too many jobs where the title is irrelevant and the pay is non-existent and so any concept of perks was much the same. I’m an outgoing person – sometimes – but not at first. It’s too anxious an act to put on most of the time. Alcohol helps to lubricate my nature to hide but doesn’t do it on it’s own. It’s about comfort and I rarely find it.

    Ironically, there are three times I will literally hide in my hair: when I’m nervous, when I’m uncomfortable and when I’m talking to someone I feel is smarter than me and I feel intimidated. As a result, I’ve spent most of my professional career hiding my hair. I’ll never be the smartest person in the room and I’ll probably never feel like I actually fit in somewhere. I suspect I’ll always be in my proverbial corner, likely hiding in my hair.

    It would be nice to feel like it was a choice.

  • It Always Feel Like I’m Waiting For Something

    They say it will let go
    If I give it time
    But this oven is burning coal
    I got a big supply
    I always feel this fulll
    And believe you’re mine

    One day, I’ll love somebody else
    One day, I’ll take care of myself

    -Nada Surf

    I’ve never been sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing but I identify with songs. Not in the way that everyone has a favorite song. Everyone has a song that they love – that every time it comes on the radio they get excited and have to listen (related question – do people still listen to the radio?!). I don’t mean like that. I mean that I treat songs like tarot cards and they predict my future. So much simpler…

    When I was younger and needed to make a decision about anything of consequence, I would focus and put my iPod on shuffle and it would provide me a song to give me the right answer. I would make decisions because the song told me to and it made sense. When I say that, I don’t mean I asked my iPod what I should have for lunch and it suggested “Happy Idiot” and I assumed that meant avocado toast. No, I would ask questions of value like whether or not I should drop out of college and work in the music industry earlier than expected or if that boy truly was evil and I’d get a song titled “Stay” or “Wicked Woman.” It made sense to me.

    As I grew older, this kismet-like delusion started to be more my life. I would go to concerts and hear certain songs and make conclusions. Similarly, when I was at a job I despised, Nada Surf came out with a new single. They had always been a band teetering on the edge of Top 25 bands for at least ten years in my life so that was of note. I listened to the song and it attracted me like the buttered side of toast falls to the floor. I fell into it, hard. I listened to nothing but the song for the rest of the day. Nay, the rest of that week. The song at it’s core was about a relationship that was over and there was indecision about it. There was a feeling of not knowing if it was right and also of determinism, that this was right.

    At the time, I was in a moderately happy marriage so it seemed strange to me that I was so attracted to this song. I assumed it was the simple yet haunting melody that had just the right twang to make me a fan. Fast forward a few years, that marriage is over and it reads like logic to me.

  • Mellow

    In a previous coupling, I would fight with my partner about what is a “core part” of a person. Normally these conversations were in anger, but the basic argument was that he felt there were certain things that he couldn’t change – they were a basic part of who he was at the heart of his being – and I would insist they weren’t. Often I was right: one can work to be on time if they’re chronically late, for example. The further I move away from the coupling, I wonder if I was right on occasion or largely.

    I’m noticing changes in myself that I never thought would exist. I’m not someone who one would typically look at and describe as someone with “good style” – one of the easiest fall backs of being a plus-sized girl in a small-sized world – but my aesthetic has been neutralizing. Traditionally, I was never one to turn away from garish, bright patterns. But in recent years, I’m falling to more tonal, muted colors and simple prints. My tastes in color reflects this as well. Rebelliously, I decided blue was my favorite color as a child to anger my brother, who always wanted blue things so I wouldn’t want them. That actually became true at some point and I’m still attracted to blue. But in yarns and clothes, I find myself so much more attracted to more subtle pinks – a color I wouldn’t be caught dead near years ago – and even beige.

    Similarly, my taste in music has always been diverse. Most people say that mean that they like more than one song and occasionally don’t listen to the same style of music; the “I-like-everything” person. Something I’ve always prided myself on is that I genuinely do like everything. Indie, blues, rap, electronica, country, etc. There’s something in all of these I love. In my teens, I was an equal divide of gravitating to emo and happy hardcore, a dichotomous duo for sure. In my twenties, “everything” was still there but I fell into a comfortable trap of indie music. In my thirties, however, I find myself listening to more house music than I ever knew existed and happily immersing myself in there.

    In so many ways, it’s the same me but I’m mellowing. In my younger years, I was quite the “stuff hoarder.” Now, I am trying to transition to a more minimalist place in my life – both in terms of stuff and in terms of my mind. I want to be a better me, not a me with more things to win the race.

  • Things You’re Not Supposed to Say

    I’m turning 32 next week and I’m alone. It isn’t necessarily something that’s ever affected me – the correlation between age and relationship status – but this year I am acutely aware of it.

    When things were ending in my last relationship, I didn’t focus on love. I didn’t focus on all the future-tense promises that weren’t being kept or the precarious position that the situation left me whole life in. No, I focused on two things:

    1. No one will ever love me 

    2. “…but he puts up with my anxiety so I’m pretty much screwed otherwise” 

    You’re not supposed to say either of those things out loud. I’m convinced there are numerous men and woman other there looking at the hands of time thinking the second hand is mocking them and the hour hand is moving with the same deliberate smirk of a cat knocking over a vase. There are surely more people just like me who stare at a Facebook feed filled with birth announcements and happy wedding photos and get annoyed not because other people have their lives together but because I’m jealous of a dumpster fire (hey, at least there’s something complete you can call that!). Alternatively, it might just be me.

  • Walk Away

    I believe if you asked any of my co-workers who I work with quite closely, the one thing they might cite about me is that I cry easily. While that isn’t so much true, it can appear that way. Any kind of negativity past a certain threshold will make me cry in a heartbeat. It doesn’t even need to be directed at me. Just an air of negativity or an extremely hostile person and I can end up crying. I also end up crying when I feel frustrated. If it hits that threshold, it’s normally quite dire and the only thing that will make it go away is a hug. Other than that, you have to let it run its course.

    At the moment, my life is not all that bubbly. More like a bottle of champagne left in the sun for a few weeks. It smells weird, is flat and no one wants to get rid of it let alone drink it. But I haven’t cried. The frustration hasn’t been bad enough, the negativity hasn’t been strong enough. But today, while going through something relatively mundane, I ended up crying. Bawling, actually. I don’t know what set it off. I don’t know what started it. I do know I need to balance my electrolytes a bit better as there was little salt in those tears but beyond that…I’m not sure. I can speculate, of course, but…even that doesn’t exactly make sense to me.

    I should mention, I started crying going through yarn and deciding if there was any that I wanted to get rid of before moving. There were two skeins, in particular, that I think triggered me. They were purchased by someone for me at a time when everything else was falling apart except that person. I was sicker than I had ever been in my life and there didn’t seem to be a way to get healthier. It didn’t seem possible that I would ever not be sick. But at the time, this person was my constant and had convinced me things were good. I was sick but I would get better. Things were bad but they would get better. Almost a year later, the “better” and the person are both a bit of a lie.

    Perhaps it’s delayed processing.

    I’m not sure.

    But it is in my head, fluttering and buzzing and making strange noises that I don’t know how to quell.

  • Things I’ll Always Be

    I’m packing to move at the moment. It’s laborious – physically and emotionally. With a minimalist mindset, I have the amount of “things” of most hoarders, specifically in the yarn and book sections. I’m trying to get rid of as many books as possible for a large number of reasons. I live in New York City so space is at a premium and after a few moves, lugging all the books in the world gets tough. There’s also emotional baggage related to a lot of these books. Some are from relationships past and have moved through several states of living.

    But as I go through my books, I keep finding pens. Le pens, mostly, a specific type of thin-lined pen in a wide variety of colors. Try as I may get rid of books, I will always read books with a pen in hand – underlining and scribbling in the margins. It’s what I’d call a core characteristic of my being. I forget it often when I don’t have the opportunity to read for a period of time or when I read less philosophical books. But whenever I have that type of a book, a pen finds a way into my hand and it fulfills a specific part of my soul I don’t know exists until that moment. I’m satisfied in that moment as a whole.

    In relationships, we often have to change and bend. Very rarely are interpersonal relationships like enzymes; no two humans fit together so perfectly they’re a lock and key match. There’s shoving, often awkward grunting and compromise along the way. As I look at a sizable pile of books in the “Donate” pile, I realize I’m not throwing away my core personality characteristic but a bunch of tools to get there. That’s OK. I can buy more books. I can’t buy me. I can’t lose myself trying to bend like an enzyme. I’ve got to instead work to be satisfied with just me.

  • Oopportunity – No Typo

    I had a co-worker ask this week what a group of us wanted to be “when we grew up.” In other words, what was that thing that we used to dream about optimistically before reality found a way to charge for dreams, I have been everything I have wanted to be – minus happy.

    When I was in kindergarten, we were supposed to draw what we wanted to be when we grew up. At the age of 4, I knew I was unable to draw what a veterinarian does – already admitting to my sub-par art skills, and instead drew a rock and a star said I wanted to be a rock star. Even at that age, I was quite literal and snarky to pseudo-authority figures. I later realized I couldn’t be a vet: I could never put down an animal. I’d be more upset than it’s owners.

    When I was in high school, I fell in love with a boy. I was sure he was too smart for me so I would have to be as smart and arty as I could possibly muster in order to garnish any attention from him. I decided I would want to be a writer. I never did garnish his attention but kissed him a year later when we were actually friends and dating other people. I did become a writer – at least in the paying capacity. But freelance writing is hard no matter how many clients one has and I couldn’t maintain it.

    Later in high school, I fell in love with another boy and decided I would be a concert photographer. Perhaps my biggest life regret is never doing anything about either of those things when it was a possibility. After college, I was able to become a concert photographer but without the boy, it lost the appeal.

    When one graduates college with any part of a degree in Philosophy, no one knows what they want to be. I was never happier in many ways than in college where all I had to do to be successful was read and write and think critically and apply concepts. For some reason, no one advertises for existentialists anymore. I knew the music industry was always something of a draw and fell into an internship. It just so happened to be in the field marketing department. At the same time, I fell into a freelance writing role that just happened to start talking about this thing where you can write a certain way to make these non-real spider bots find what you wrote. A few years later after I moved from and then back to NYC, we eliminated most of the roles in my department and, well, someone had to take on this ‘paid search’ thing so I happened across it.

    All of that is lovely, I’m sure. But…at the root of it….none of it was wanted. It was just what I got. I literally could have been a romantic comedy at the age of 5: all I ever wanted was to fall in love where nothing else mattered. The rest didn’t matter; what paid the bills paid the bills.

    25 years or so after proclaiming I wanted to be a “rock star,” I’m sitting in my bedroom. I have had an absolutely cruddy day. There’s some knitting I want to do, some coffee I really should drink and some work stuff I’m trying to keep myself from doing. All I can think about, instead, is how much better the world looks when you’re 5.

    And how much I wish I still was there…