a reluctant hot take

women and cats SOM

 

I’m usually not a “hot take” writer, but it’s about that short story from the New Yorker, “Cat Person” by Kristen Roupenian. It was a story that was buzzing on Twitter over the weekend. I listened to her tell the story, which I suggest you should do.

It’s a timely piece, as we’re going through a revolution of how women are seen and treated. And, it’s a well-written piece. It reminds me of being in grad school–I read the New Yorker for a whole semester. It was good to read literary fiction again.

If you haven’t read or listened to the story, you should stop here because there be spoilers ahead…

One thing that has been sticking out to me about this story is our relationship with technology. When I started my novel in grad school which I have completed the first draft for during #NaNoWriMo, I was trying to wrestle with a story of being enchanted by and then ghosted by a man via our blogs. The novel went a completely different and to me lovely direction, but I want to get back to that topic next year.

What I realized after reading “Cat Person” was how analog I am in a digital world, especially in the land of love and relationships. But I always thought it was something I was doing wrong. If you want to count me not understanding how to be in the 21st century as wrong, then I’m hella wrong.

But really, though–it’s about how we communicate, or don’t effectively communicate with each other.

I’ve been on social media since I was 18 years old, starting with sixdegrees (RIP). I’ve had countless friendships and a few relationships or situationships–through that site and other sites. It seemed like an outflow of what I was doing offline with people–connecting on viewpoints and hobbies and passions.

Right around when I was basically fed up with dating or whatever I called my love life, the smartphone came around. “Cat Person” has so much to do with texting, and I am not really a texter.

Here’s a big section from the story that stuck out to me:

Soon she noticed that when she texted him he usually texted her back right away, but if she took more than a few hours to respond his next message would always be short and wouldn’t include a question, so it was up to her to re-initiate the conversation, which she always did. A few times, she got distracted for a day or so and wondered if the exchange would die out altogether, but then she’d think of something funny to tell him or she’d see a picture on the Internet that was relevant to their conversation, and they’d start up again.

This really stuck out because it described what the story calls a dance, but one that actually makes me quite dizzy and ill. It’s the 21st century form of the chase, except the gender roles have been reversed.

(And, by the way, I hate gender roles, I hate “the chase,” I hate all of that proscribed bullshit about how people should relate to each other since it’s so heavily steeped in misogyny and patriarchy anyway.)

Beyond this tech-heavy period and the fair and equitable treatment of women, this short story resonated with me because of how real (and really flawed) the characters were, and how real the situations were.

I was reminded of being in that dizzying dance with someone–pre-smartphone. I had a relationship while I was in college with an older man, this futures and commodities broker from a yuppie part of town–and I had met him in a chat room. I can’t even remember how we got together. I just remembered going out and drinking in his yuppie part of town, going back to his place, rinse repeat.

It was fun, even though clearly he was not my person.

Eventually, as I got a little closer and wanted to be just a tad more serious, and maybe the turning point was helping me move after I had to take a leave of absence from college, he ghosted.

I never blamed myself for that (I just wanted my Maxwell CD back!). Also, I’ve ghosted a dude–and this was still pre-smartphone.

But in other instances, especially lately, I have, a lot, like there is something really, really wrong with me. It’s not something that’s obvious. It’s just this dull, heavy weight that I drag around, of being some sort of misfit.

Yet through this story, I realized that in terms of how I communicate with people, I’m still stuck in the past where the internet enhanced life, not where it became life.

Back in college and soon after, being online wasn’t as prominent as it is now. You couldn’t drag a desktop computer with you. Online life and offline life were two distinct things. Online life connected you to offline life. But now, being online is so much more easier.

There are smartphones, tablets, smart watches, laptops, and notebooks. On a larger scale, we have the Internet of Things with wearables, smart thermostats, smart sensors, smart TVs, and remote doorbells and cameras. Bluetooth anything and everything. Through mobile apps, people can always know where you are.

We’re so much more accessible and have so many more forms of communication, and yet miscommunications and disconnections happen so much more often.

I’ve tried to adapt. I’ve been on dating sites and that’s just a lesson in being ignored or disrespected. But connecting with people in general just seems…fleeting.

Yesterday and today, I was talking to a friend about this story both on a literary and cultural level, and it was all just coming together, the realization of that dull, heavy weight that had been dragging me down. There was so much more clarity about the last 13 years of my life.

Although Margot, the main female character, is not at all like me, that section I shared above made me realize how much I’ve done that very thing–of trying to keep conversations going, of trying to contort myself into someone I’m not, just to get or keep someone’s attention.

Things fizzling out aren’t necessarily my fault. Sometimes, it’s that men generally really do suck at communication–that’s been an issue since time immemorial.

The Twitter account @MenCatPerson posted screenshots of men reacting to the short story. It showcased that not only do so many men fail at communication with women, but also fundamentally and obstinately fail to respect, understand, and appreciate women, which, I would dare say, is a major theme of this piece.

But layering on the technology piece, there was something that really rang true about how Margot and Robert were communicating and not communicating.

It wasn’t a line-by-line fit (I’m twice as old as Margot, so I’ve got a lot more maturity under my belt), but the spirit of it: the incessant waiting for intentions to be made clear, the self-doubt and constant questioning of one’s own intentions, the trying to make things fit when they really aren’t supposed to, just waiting for a reply or a phone call–all of that will haunt me for some time.

Granted, how Margot and Robert treated each other was nowhere near optimal (which is putting it lightly), and Robert, with being older, he should have had more experience in treating her better–ideally, anyway. But the gender and power dynamics that were happening, especially at the end of the story–again, I will be haunted.

What this story did for me was liberate me from being hurt or upset when communication drops–especially with men. I won’t be blaming myself to see what went wrong, trying to comb through every word I said.

Also, if I, being an early adopter of social media, can’t seem to get it right online (and sometimes offline), then how can I expect others to do the same? It’s a bit of a crapshoot, and it’s because this is all so new still, and we’re still trying to get the hang of online communication.

Just this year, I feel like I’ve found friends that are really there, as people. Even if the geography stinks, as it tends to do when you find friends online, it still beats forced solitude.

So, I may be stuck in a pre-smartphone mentality for the rest of my life, but it seems the better way to be. Although I am online most of the day because I write, I do try see people as people, who have feelings, hopes, dreams, and regrets.

I know my words have impact, and I know people’s words have impact on me. Just because I turn off my phone or shut the lid on my laptop doesn’t mean everyone’s lives are frozen in time or that people sublimate into nothing.

Yet beyond words, beyond intentions, beyond thoughts, beyond feelings–there are actions. Actions are so much easier to go by than a fictional storyline of what could possibly be be happening.

There could be some other person, or an illness, or too busy at work, or…just being done and over you, but doesn’t have enough guts to say it…or is completely about you and doesn’t have the guts to say it (yet?).

And, the actions that truly matter involve kindness and consideration. People hook up and get together all the time, and then it doesn’t work out. But because we think we can just turn off our phones or close our computers, that person will just disappear, like you were talking to some AI bot or a ghost.

That mentality has to shift, and soon. It’s dehumanizing and painful to be treated that way, to be seen as expendable.

Relationships are messy because people are messy. I want to be with people who don’t run away from the mess but embrace it. So I’m grateful for this story because it reminded me that, for now, where I am in my life, those kind of people are rare, and I cherish them as such. Yet it’s sadly a chronic symptom of a culture we live in, a very lonely and isolated culture.

We’re really not that good at keeping in touch and letting each other go.

Wanting to get closer to people, whether it’s for a night or for the rest of my life, is not a bad thing–even if I have to risk looking stupid, getting ghosted, being snubbed. It’s still worth it. I don’t have to transform into anyone else to find someone who isn’t afraid of a little mess, of seeing me as a whole person, of seeing me as someone with autonomy and worthy of respect.

I’ll leave you with a tweet I sent out last night:

 

 

Sorry, I was NaNo-ing and working…

Dear sun opposite moon reader, 🤗

I had intended for this place to be treated professionally, to write every week, as a commitment to my creative writing practice. But I got called away to other things, paid things. 🤷🏾‍♀️

After the latest post, the greatest wound, the greatest healing, the following day, I was slammed with work for three weeks. 🤦🏾‍♀️

But I was grateful because it was a scary time. I had a huge lull in work in October. 🙏🏾

This is also National Novel Writing Month (#NaNoWriMo is the hashtag on Twitter). ✍🏾👩🏾‍💻 #️⃣

I finished my novel in 9 days total (50,182). 😲 🎉

I did NaNo last year and something similar happened. I couldn’t start until the last week. I finished the first half of my novel in 8 days. 😱

Last year, I was a lot more sleep deprived. This year, tired but not deliriously tired like I was this time last year. 😴🤤😪

So, TL;DR, bills had to be paid, a contest had to be won. 🙃

The things I have wanted to write take up a lot of room in my heart, which means it takes time to untangle all the words and the meaning into a blog post. 💗

I have work waiting for me tomorrow, which is a very good thing. But I have to think about my commitment to sunoppositemoon-motion–as in, it needs to be a priority. 🔝

But it can’t just be a diary. It needs to be art, or at least artful. That takes time, to write about your life creatively. 🤔

I definitely have stories. I just have to figure out how to balance the paying of bills with the art of my life–like most people. ⚖️

So, as much as I can, I’ll try to double up here to make up the time I lost. ⏱

But tonight, I’m going to give my hands and my brain a needed rest.. 🤯

Before I go, though–this month was so transformative. I worked out things in my life through my novel. 💪🏾

Peace lays heavy on me now, which is a wonderful way to go into the last days of being 39. 🕊

Thanks for your patience and hopefully I can get back to writing here this weekend. 🤓

Deborah 😘

Smedium

Happy June! Happy #GeminiSeason! Since my last blog post, a lot of changes have rolled and rumbled through my life. Like a Gemini’s mind, I feel restless–I really want to roll and rumble myself!

To sum up, I have been casually looking for a new job. I need to move from this home. And I feel that it’s time to start creating my own family–which seems like an arbitrary to to declare; but I really declared it when I turned 36, about 2.5 years later, it’s not really news to me.

Last month, I had some major events occur. Some of them were very unpleasant, and some were supremely sublime:

  • A pointless shouting match about race with a Pisces man at work. He’s in the 3rd decan, so he acted a lot like an Aries (impulsive, squawling baby). Additionally, it caused me to unceremoniously end my friendship with the other Pisces friend, because she just sat there and did nothing as he laid into me. Some friend. Amygdala hijackings are real.
  • After almost eight months of gut-wrenching tension and endlessness, I emailed and asked out the Gemini that I talked about in the last blog post. I got a long-winded no (this has happened before). It was a “sorry, too busy” spiel (which does sound genuine, but this Capricorn doesn’t really like the word no when it comes to things they want). He still smiles when he sees me and it feels like nothing changed. Enter deeper confusion and dread!
  • A visit with my Cancer friend. It was so good to see her and hang out, meet her goofy Scorpio husband. They are two watery goofs together. I met her family and her Gemini youngest daughter charmed me (she just turned six). I’ve never had a kid like me so much just because. There’s something very disarming about that, that takes my crusty Capricorn defenses down. I heard her tell my friend that she liked me and thought I was funny. This little bouncing diva probably came out of the womb in a pink sequinned dress and a feather boa. What’s weird is that I remember when she was born (her mother and I go way back to my hometown, 20 years ago when she was a nursing student. And they lived near Chicago when I was there–but we didn’t know that! Yet we had been Facebook friends for a while). Anyway, we played Candyland and colored in coloring books on a rainy day while her siblings were being taken to dance class and the doctor (the youngest is a Cap like me, 18 months). We also argued over eating–she is currently a picky eater. It’s the first time I’ve really bonded with a child. That seems significant for me. Her dad said I was good with kids. I don’t know if I really am, or if I’m just good with her (because she allows me to be). Kindergarten is still my favorite grade, and she is of that age of peak kid cuteness.
  • I went back to therapy after that shitty useless incident at work. It was a good session. This woman is also a yoga instructor. She seems to get it. I’ll go biweekly, since my life isn’t in complete shambles. I just need some nudges over the edge.
  • I spoke with an astrologer (Sam is great, by the way) and I learned a lot more about the glories of being a Capricorn, as well as the weird energetic tango I’ve been in with the Gemini (Neptunian hijinks with my rising sign). Apparently, I have a book to write, and I need to figure out how to give more.

All of those events seem to have me moving into something more. I am not sure what. I have the quincunx quakes (five signs away from my sun sign, which is what Gemini is from Capricorn).

My Gemini girl bonding made me think of how parenting is 1) not easy and 2) a transformative experience of deep love that I can’t really fathom. But I felt ready for it. Asking out the Gemini dude–I was angling for closure (I just wanted to know! And I was ready to be brave) and all I did was just open the door to a gushing ocean of feelings, more than I’ve ever experienced. Imagine me, a double Cap, trying to deal with that, and my watery moon just drowning.

Well, it’s been a ride since I last wrote here. I needed more clarity about him, and about my life in general.

So, on Memorial Day, I finally got to visit Cassadaga, land of the psychics and mediums. I went with another Pisces friend (I’ve been swimming with the fishies for a while now!). It reminded me of being Sedona, Arizona– how there’s a vortex there, and I didn’t feel a goddamned thing.I don’t think there’s a vortex in Cassadaga, but I was expecting supernatural phenomena. Nada. This spiritual camp is about an hour’s drive north from me.

My friend had an appointment with a woman, a medium, and after perusing the bookstore, we walked down to this brightly colored house (I’d give the color, but I really like my semi-anonymity here).

We got to this home at noon and left at about 7:30pm, so I’m not going to give a blow-by-blow of the two hour preamble of talking we did before we even started with my reading. It was about a whole bunch of shit–mostly good shit, like politics, voting, etc.

The medium is a double Cap like me, with an earthy moon, and she’s a senior citizen (her age is the same number of my birth year). I’ll give a clue about her moon, though: her face was perfect and she was in a cute sweater set with pale pants.

It was like talking to anyone else, talking to a medium. Well, though–I couldn’t record it. The energy just wouldn’t allow it. She’s had cassette tapes pop out, recordings not catch any talking…but I wasn’t feeling it. I just took out my little notebook and took notes on what she said.

So yes, there’s no scarves, no crystal ball, no incantations, no incense, no moving objects. I’ve had prophecies over my life when I was still in the charismatic evangelical movement–I love(d) that shit! Freaky deaky! This, from the allegedly rigid, by-the-book  Capricorn. Meeting with the medium, though, was basically the same. I sat on her couch and we talked.

Like I said, I’m not going to give a blow-by-blow–my reading was THREE HOURS. It was very thorough–apparently, it’s what happens when you’re a newbie with her. I’m gonna try, with my loquacious Mercury in Sag self, to be brief about this mystical visit:

  • Here’s a preamble to this part: as a woman, as a woman who has been raised by my truly humble Piscean mother, and even though I know this stuff, it’s still hard to buck up against my female socialization: I’m fucking smart. And I’m really kind. And wise. The generosity of spirit came up in my astrology reading last week (moon conjunct Jupiter in Cancer), and here it was again. I apparently don’t have enough hands-on time giving. I can buck up against the kindness part because, I think, my bar is very high. Most people aren’t kind, and it pisses me clear the fuck off! And it’s one of the things my Cancer friend and I have truly bonded on, that common courtesy is of the utmost importance. But still, even myself, I don’t think of myself as incredibly kind. Or generous. Do most kind and generous people go around thinking that about themselves anyway?
  • My grandmother dropped in! The medium started to get a scratchy throat and asked me if someone had trouble breathing when they died. My grandmother had some pulmonary issues, fluid in the lungs, when she died. She told me that she loved me and that she was proud of me, which means so much. I admit–it’s a vague, general thing to say. We didn’t have a relationship, so there couldn’t be much she could say that would have been very specific to me. I surprisingly did not cry, like I usually cry while watching “Long Island Medium.” I was hoping to hear from her, and really, that was the first time I have heard from her (she was a fun, and funny, Leo). I still feel awful that I didn’t meet her before she passed. She was in her 90s.
  • What about the children?! They have come up in oracle card readings numerous times, and also in previous prophecies, one where I was sobbing. I have to work with them. Not sure how yet. Child psychiatry was the career I wanted. It didn’t work out. Encounter with the Gem girl seems to be more significant now.
  • Other people in spirit tried to help out me and my family. They implored me that I wasn’t alone. I have no idea who these people are. I’ll assume it’s the ancestors, like my mom’s dad, others. If I think about that long enough, I could cry for sure.
  • That piece of information came about because of my father, who is very mentally unstable. He’s a brilliant man, but he embodies the dark side of the bottomless ego of a Leo. The medium said that maybe in another life dimension, I’ll see who he really is. He really loves me–she said she could feel and sense that.
  • LOVE: she was able to see the Gem dude’s unusual name. She had these letters close together and she was wondering where he was from. HA. She asked if I really liked him and rolled my eyes and sighed an exasperated yes. She said he’s a good guy, he didn’t reject me (awww), and that he’s otherwise engaged (as he said, he’s busy). He’s either a precursor to love or is a great love. I’m ready. Exciting! That may have been the best news that I heard, about being ready for love. Nevertheless, I still act like I’m 12 when I’m around him, though, because Capricorns don’t do feelings, and yet we take everything so seriously, often way too seriously. And, I feel incredibly vulnerable, like all my roiling feelings are boiling up and out, and he can see them all. She told me to smile at him, and I don’t think that I can. I may crack if I do.
  • I’m at my sexual peak right now (I’m sure you were dying to know that. I actually wasn’t!).

Overall, life may take some more sharp turns, but it’ll be for the life I want. I have barely begun my life. I myself believe that I won’t even begin to hit my stride until I’m 40. Yet even now, I do feel like things are syncing up in my life.

After my visit with her, I was starving. It was dinnertime. I ate some junk food from the vending machine that’s outside the main book shop. I walked around, sat at the like for a few seconds before there was some shitty bugs pestering me. I read from Judith Orloff’s book, Emotional Freedom. After my friend’s reading was done, I got home after 8pm, grateful for a divine encounter.

One thing I forgot to mention from my reading: my writing will always be there for me, but my job is going to be unique. And I have to write a book. I still don’t know what the book will on and I don’t know how I will start working with kids. I’ll leave it up to the Universe to figure that out.

Right now, I just want to make sure I can pay my bills as I face some job uncertainty with a jealous, threatened Taurus supervisor. But that could be really small thinking, really small dreaming, really small living.

I’ve been trying to jolt myself out of survival mode, and it’s hard. Maybe even the switch is broken.

My former surname means “born in a time of war.” I’m a soldier living in peacetime.

When you go through hard things for so long, it can be so hard to believe that things can and will be good again, that they are good even now.

Even with all the this signs and wonders, it’s still taking some faith to believe that the Universe has always had my back, and will continue to do so.

Every breath, every step, every word, every thought, every action–it’s all being supported.

As a girl who felt like she was on her own most of the time, this seems hard to believe. But eventually, my faith will catch up with my seemingly feeble, yet really, really earnest, actions.

 

 

Gimme 5/Winds of Change

In the mountains of New Hampshire

In the mountains of New Hampshire

I haven’t been here since May. Five months ago. Lots of stuff has changed…

  1. I’m not teaching anymore. At $1755 for one class/semester, those were poverty wages. I did this online gig for a while which was a good bridge to my full-time job as a technical writer. Very grateful about that.
  2. I’m kinda done with church (again). Living with yet another crazy, abusive person + being without a car = kinda done. I could write a whole blog post on that. I’d like to write about it dispassionately, but church was my life for so long. It’d be hard to be solely rational about a major chunk of my spiritual journey.
  3. Speaking of, I was concerned, but not too worried I wasn’t going to be spiritual much anymore. I went through a lull of sorts. But since we’re all spiritual, even the atheists (ooooh, controversial statement), there really is no not being spiritual. So the lull was in manifestations, I guess. I don’t mean that in the woo woo manifest The Secret Abraham Hicks way. Just more like phenomena, like the angel numbers that followed me all the time. Also, I was so disinterested.
  4. But then the phenomena, and that old feeling, returned. And like most things in my life, Twitter was  a big influence on me. I had a tarot reading from @QueenAwakened (website), whom I’ve dubbed Atomic Queen–hee hee, kind of an inside joke, but after she read me, a lot of the job stuff started to actually move that week. You could see that she blew my shit up. My friend had RTed her into my timeline on a Saturday night, and now I consider her and others of my woo woo tribe on Twitter.

So, at least, that’s the explanation of the spiritual hiatus from here. Other things have changed, like the ownership of this house that I live in. No more OG Landlady, and her constant, long visits. I won’t miss her that much. The lesson I learned from her was that I needed to carry peace within myself…and to wait for storms to pass. Patience.

Work was a little rocky, heading into the office every day vs. heading in for just an hour weekly meeting. The politics. The pressure. The energies flying about. I saged my office once (with a spray, but still). But after I came back from my writing conference last week, work really seemed to gel for me. The past week, I’ve gone out to lunch with three colleagues, something I have been longing to do. Then I had a good convo with an assistant director. It’s like I changed when I went away, like I opened up. I was forced to, networking all the time. Grad school was so traumatic–and I still want to go back to therapy for that, plus for editing my thesis–but by meeting new peers, I was able to be myself again (seeing friends, new and old, didn’t hurt either).

Not sure if I wrote about how the number 5 was following me, and it still does, and it denotes major changes, that are to be in my favor, will be coming. But they are major changes. I had a friendship come into focus (more of a downgrade on my part, more of a reckoning with reality on my part, more of trying salvage decades of friendship on my part (which, yes, is a big part of the problem)) and two that I knew were pretty much dead fall away (note: if you come to my town and don’t say anything, consider yourself out of my life, especially when we were neighbors, fellow churchgoers, sang together, did life together…). Lots of unfriending on Facebook happened in the past couple of months.

Yesterday, as if the Universe knew I was hurting as I put myself first, I came across this great article in The Atlantic about how friendships change as we get older. Even though I’m post-op–I did the necessary amputations–I still feel the blood ooze out. There’s not enough pain meds yet to get rid of the sting, to fill the emptiness. As that article stated, I was one of those who invests a lot in a few friendships, so when they end, it’s pretty devastating. But these have all been slow deaths, and they will all hurt me more. Hell, even soulmates have their season, and I’m so grateful to this family that I’ve said goodbye to, in my heart. Thanks for everything, and I bless you guys as you leave my life.

With that one friendship shifting into proper focus, where I had learned that this person was properly adulting, putting their spouse (and their family) and their career first, today I gave up a dream of moving out to Cali. It seems so far from here–geographically, emotionally, spiritually. Going out there for grad school may be was my last shot. I wanted to leave because I didn’t really have any friendships here, and then I came back and it seems like everything is opening up. (OK, I should blame @mzamywhite, with whom I started working this week, and even before we started working together, I felt a shift, like light was shining through. Anytime I did tarot with her online, just like Atomic Queen, it was on point.)

  • A friend here that disappeared may be hanging out with me this weekend.
  • Another friend from Chicago has wanted me to come visit her and her family, and I haven’t seen them in many years. I may go see them for Thanksgiving.
  • The lunches with colleagues that I mentioned earlier.
  • All the meaningful conversations with people at work.
  • And then there was this guy…

I had just returned to office from my trip. I was nuking my lunch and I was still in ambivert/extrovert roll. He was standing behind me, patiently waiting to get to the hot water spout for whatever was in his mug (it smelled like instant coffee, like the Starbucks kind?). I spin around and introduce myself to this man with the kind eyes and the soft hands (like soft in a caring way, too?). Ugh, he’s my type. Softness with a bit of edge, like that makes me wonder why are either of us in this stuffy office. I don’t know if I caught his name, though. I had a cold from my trip that I had been desperately pushing through. It was a pleasant enough chat, talking about what we do. He knew which office I worked in, but not where I sat. I still don’t know if I heard him right when he said, “I hope to see you more often,” but I did gleefully reply “yeah, that would be awesome.” I watched him walk away. Honestly, I was just so happy to have some human interaction. I could feel my bent over soul stand up straight back in Florida, for the first time.

It didn’t really hit me that something really was said. Thank you, friends, for confirming that it, indeed, was on. The dude is fucking hot, OK? Like, back in the day, I had a variety of men, but this guy would not even be one I’d talk to. Out of my league. If I say he’s hot, then it is so because I’m also fucking picky, so picky that I am sure I founded the #foreveralone in another life.

So that was last Thursday. I saw him the following day, leaving the kitchen area after having washed my barely unwashable coffee tumbler. I am briskly walking back to my desk, and it’s about 4pm in the afternoon. I hear this BOING! I stop walking because this is one of the many blind corners in our office. It was him. He had dropped his coffee tumbler. We exchanged hi’s and I studied his face in that really obnoxious intense way that I study people’s faces: his left eyebrow was raised in that wry Kevin Arnold from The Wonder Years way, but he was smiling big. Embarrassment. I watched him leave the floor.

My arrogant self wants me to think that I caused that tumbler to drop, that my very presence caused it. Ha.

Then I saw him, I believe, yesterday, and he had a beard. Besides that, unfortunately, he bore too much of a resemblance to my best friend in college (which, when I look again, it’s not that true), that beard basically put him out of my field of vision. Easy fix.

All of this–colleagues and I warming up to each other, some random work crush–could be a fluke. It’s hard to tell someone who has been through it for years that things would be changing, for the better. A year ago, I was flopping around town in Airbnb rentals. And it’s been a while since a guy’s shown interest in me, but it did seem more than friendly…

But at least with that, as I am almost 38, he really rattled me. I used to give two shits about weight until now. I’m at my heaviest yet. And then there’s not going to the doctor and the (lack of) clarity of my complexion. I never cared about my physical stuff. I always cared about what was falling out of my mouth. But that part was fine. I have been running the gauntlet of self-doubt since I formally met him, which, by the way, was my idea.

I needed the rattling. I was drawing tarot and oracle cards like nuts and they were all so pleasant sounding. My mind is coming up with ludicrous reasons why this isn’t true. I’m sure I misheard. I’m sure he’s only doing this to get something out of me. It couldn’t be the opposite–why couldn’t it be someone had a crush on me for months? Why would I be the only torchbearer on Earth? It’s totally possible and plausible.

Hey, I don’t actually want to be #foreveralone. Even if we never spoke again, I needed to wake up to how I have been seeing myself. Did I know that I didn’t think I was worth some hot guy saying that he’d hope to see me more often? When did I get to that desperate, simpering point? How can I see me the way that this perfect stranger does?

And back to the weightier matters…so Adele’s song and video, “Hello” is all the rage today, as it will be until her album drops in a month. I was looking at her and I’m like, um, even if she gives a fuck about her weight, she sure as hell as embraced her body and looks damn good. And then I saw some inspirational poster:

all you have to offer

There was another thought running through my mind today as I walked to work, and I forgot the exact wording, but essentially: this guy “talked” to you as you were, not at your alleged best. Are you not enough as you are?

Do I have a bigger and bigger sense of all I have to offer? I thought all this therapy and hard work on myself since I fell down the black hole of clinical depression was to get a sense of that (I’ve been healthy for years, probably for over a decade). Would it be fun to watch it grow in someone else as I see it grow in myself–all I have to offer?

I will say that right now, I’m hella awake; and it’s the first true time I’ve thought that I could stay in my job for a while and make it into something bigger than I could ever imagine. And there’s other work stuff that I can’t talk about right now, but as I left work this week, the warm yet not too warm winds swirled around, picking up the sycamore leaves strewn along the parking lot. All this week, I feel those winds of change blowing through me, and scaring me. My Cancer Moon likes things to stay pretty chill. I mean, my Capricorn Sun and Capricorn Ascendant isn’t really about the drama either. Like I said–a year ago I was moving every few days. I long for stability.

To bring it back to the woo woo some more: this guy was an answer to mumbled prayers and burned candles and a myriad of readings and unuttered hopes and buried dreams. So maybe things are finally coming to fruition (and why not?). At the same time, he feels like a test that I am unprepared to take, but I feel like winging it, or Ray Bradbury said, building wings on the way down. Even though I’m scared, I’m in that kitchen area a lot more often. I’m out of my office a lot more often. I’m trying to be available, instead of running…

Astrologically, we just entered Scorpio season, leaving Libra season, with its focus on balance and relationships. It was a tough one, but it’s over. I’ll be frank: I want all the good stuff that Scorpio is known for. *wink wink*

I do know that I’ve changed, and somehow, going away on a business trip brought me back, period. I was really scared that I’d be stooped over in humiliation and pain and poverty as long as I stayed in Florida.

Sometimes, it may seem like things changed overnight, but really, I must remind myself that this has been a slow, incremental change. My life has been slowly coming together. Coalescing. Crystallizing.

And, even still, there’s still more (people) to let go and say goodbye to, from my past. It’s all a part of life’s cycle, of holding on and letting go. I’m hoping to get better at knowing when I hold on for longer and when to let go sooner.

Overall, though, I want to end this with immense gratitude. I’m grateful for all of those friends who have now left my life, for those who stuck around, for those who came back around, and for those who are new. I’m grateful that this hard proving ground is softening up, so that I can maybe put roots down and stop hovering in the trees. Nowhere else is calling me right now. So maybe I belong in this strange paradise after all…

Be careful what you wish for…

A gardenia from my backyard

A gardenia from my backyard

I took the above picture in a prolonged fit of rage. I was practically screaming on social media, but it almost felt like I was watching myself rage. Still, I had a student from my comp class lie and go to the dean’s office complaining about his failing grade. I never knew how much lying would make me angry, though you couldn’t hear it in my voice on the phone. I was ever the professional, calmly explaining myself. After the phone call, where I was on speaker with the student and the dean’s administrative assistant, I went outside and took some pictures of the flowers. Some of them I knew, like my favorite fuchsia bougainvillea, purple morning glories, and the gardenia above. And a couple them, I didn’t know. Grounding myself in nature, I was able to semi-reset and go back to my other job of technical writing.

Since August 2012, I’ve moved five times, and where I live this time is closest to work and, for the most part–besides a landlady who likes to visit at unannounced times and pilfer things–it’s drama-free. Even how I just minimized this current landlady’s foolishness shows me how much I’ve changed in the almost three years I’ve lived and endured down here in Florida.

It’s not that bad.

When I was going through the emotional and financial upheaval that I wasn’t really counting on to happen because I had decided to “follow my dream” and write my memoir about growing up…somewhere along the line, I didn’t like who I was becoming. Embittered. Brittle. Rigid. Dry. Some time in there, I had asked over and over to be more grateful. Maybe because I was tired of hearing my own long-winding song of woe. Maybe it was to spare others of the oft-repeated refrain.

And then things got worse. Much worse.

An eviction. Horrible roommates. School drama: betrayal, an extra semester, and more student loans. More horrible roommates. A job loss. Homelessness. A landlady who nickel and dimed me. No more car.

When I was thinking of blogging about gratitude here, I had either just come back from Target after I had gotten a ride from Uber, or I was making toast in the toaster oven, and then spreading the soft, spreadable butter (with 50% less calories) and sprinkling cinnamon sugar. I wish I had written this in that warm moment, because I felt like I was overflowing with gratefulness, like a honeycomb being peeled open with a warm knife.

And maybe that list of compounding disasters is all it was: a hot knife flaying off the wax of my life.

As pretty as that picture looks, it was a lot more painful and ugly than the picture connotes.

Yet theres is no other way I could be so full of gratitude over things like cinnamon toast (I had some today, too) if I didn’t start on the ground floor of my hierarchy of needs–food, shelter, transportation. This excruciating stripping process is not anything I would wish on anyone, though–especially for myself. All I was trying to do was desperately looking for a silver lining, some cord of hope to hang onto until all these storms passed.

But this is where I am now, still on the ground floor, looking for the elevator to take me up a floor. It almost feels luxurious to be mad about a student’s lies and to actually go take pictures of flowers to decompress. I look forward to being upset about a bird crapping on my car, of not being able to find a shoe I like in my size, the restaurant being out of my favorite wine, a flight being overbooked, a concert that I can afford being sold out, going with my second choice of fabulous places to live, impatiently waiting for an amazing guy that I just met the night before to call me, having to reschedule a doctor’s appointment…

Although I am grateful now, I look forward to being normal again. Yet with all those losses and heartbreaks, etched indelibly into me, it will not be like how my life was before I moved down here. It will be a new normal–one I hope not to ever take for granted and one that I am already welcoming in, one flower petal at a time.

Whose cards?!

Today, while lazily laying in bed because I woke up at 6am, I decided to do some tarot cards. Well, the “cards” are actually in a Yes/No Tarot app from Tarot.com. You can ask it a yes/no question, mainly about what you should and should not do.

There has been one issue that I came upon last summer, which, for the sake of my pride, I’ll refrain from sharing, and it’s stuck with me. Every time I have asked this card about holding on, this app has said either yes, maybe, or yes. My track record with this app is pretty solid. I checked today: YES. Stupefying, actually. Either this app is enabling some far-fetched dream or it’s spot on.

So, unrelated to far-fetched dreams, I decided to ask about teaching. The angel card reader lady had said that I’d be great at it and that I’d have a great career, la dee da. I was wondering if “my angels” that she was speaking to are actually her practical thoughts about things?

Usually, my experience with spirituality is that is it not so cut and dry. I can’t remember what I was listening to yesterday–I believe it was Jo Dunning, though–she said that the journey is usually about taking the next step and we seldom get the whole path laid out for us.

Angel card lady said: lease a car, move to the DC area, and be a teacher. I’ll be married and have only one kid. Really? How does she know all these things? Granted, prophecies I’ve received never seemed to be what I would be doing in the future. Um, and they still don’t. Hm.

So. I asked this app about teaching, if I should continue to pursue it. The app said, flatly: NO.

Whose cards?! Who’s right?! I really don’t know. All I know is that I need to finish this semester with some semblance of dignity, find a place to live, and a better job situation. Sure, I don’t want to stay in Florida too long, long enough to suck out the rest of my soul, but it was snowing in the DC area last week. Spring just came. I don’t wanna to live in the North ever again.

And, actually–I had a big breakthrough yesterday which is unrelated to all of this except as to why I’m down here. And to be even more cryptic, all of that, that I broke through, was a sign, many signs, that I am on the right track.

It’s unfortunate that I seek confirmation from Spirit via technology and people and get polarizing answers. My gut says…I don’t know, but I have my next step.

And, I’ll check the app again…soon…hmmph.

The Dissolving “I”

It’s amazing the revelations that one can get in the bathroom.

I wanted to jot this down before I get bogged down in work for the evening. Today, I forced myself to rest, which amounted to trying to treat this crick in my neck, writing an email to a friend, and gorging on Bravo TV shows.

In woo woo land, most recently I’ve been reading/listening to spiritual teacher Matt Kahn, and he recently posted something on his Facebook page that had me thinking. It’s nothing new to me, although a lot of this stuff in this post has some spiritual jargon that even I’m not used to yet. Here are the two things from this post that stuck out to me:

During this crucial stage of awakening, the competing, defending, argumentative, manipulative, seeking, and struggling “I” dissolves out of experience.

and

As the need or tendency to compete, complain, worry, argue, negotiate, seek, judge, deny, and defend are unraveled out of your energy field, a new sense of self emerges; one that is rooted in cooperation, unity, peace, love, gratitude, abundance, radiance, health, joy, and inspiration, which are the natural characteristics of a soul in form.

Matt goes on and on (and on) about other things, but this dissolving is un-Western–and I love it! Well, I love the idea of it. It’s excruciating. As I face yet another move, having two jobs that I’m not immediately acing and doing well, and feeling trapped by my poverty, lately I haven’t had time to even think about what this is all for–cosmically, universally, spiritually, The Big Picture. It’s probably a good thing because we humans always have to come up with some fucking reason why things are happening. Sometimes, things happen because we made bad choices. Sometimes, things happen because other people made bad choices. And sometimes, things just happen.

So while I was taking a piss, it occurred to me that maybe, the big picture right now is about love. How vague can I be? Let’s drill down deeper with that.

I was telling a friend that I haven’t felt like such a failure in my entire life.  I can barely support myself financially. My composition class students are doing terribly–I’m barely doing that great as a teacher myself. My other job as a part-time tech writer has a very steep learning curve. I have to move again. I lost my car.

There’s another one of those woo woo sayings that really gets on my nerves: things are happening to you, they are happening  for you. I still think that’s some white privileged bullshit, but, at the same time, like many things in life, it’s both/and.

Things are happening to me

It’s almost like I can observe people, places, and things just imploding and exploding all around me. It’s surreal and hyperreal. Unbelievable. What really scares me is if all of those circumstantial things continues. As I’ve probably said before, I’ve never been more spiritual than right now, and my life circumstances have never been harder.

Things are happening for me

So much of my identity has been wrapped up in being good: avoiding getting yelled at by my parents, which, in turn, is about not getting yelled at by my bosses, my landlords, my anyone in some sort of authority over me. There’s been a lot of yelling in my life, but also just a lot of failure. I’m not great at teaching, I’m not great at writing, I’m not great at relationships. My life is just smoldering ash being carried by the wind *places back of hand on my forehead wearily*

Despite my utter lack of adultiness, I deserve love, compassion, and support anyway. Despite. Because. Especially.

Even though my career life has been lacking–yes, even in light of a hard-fought MFA degree–I felt like I was doing alright until I actually started grad school. My “I” has been bludgeoned by hatred, jealousy, racism, sexism, poverty, loneliness, betrayal, fear, homelessness…so many things. I’m not really sure what’s left, or if, as Matt says, a new self is emerging.

What did emerge in my bathroom was that whomever is emerging, all these horrible circumstances have stripped me of my need to be good and great. I suck at pretty much everything right now, but even still–I deserve compassion. Even when the landlady that I live with is duplicitous–in my mind, I don’t think she deserves love i.e. the reason why I have to move in the first place: her girlfriend is moving in officially a week after I leave. But *gulp* even she–even she–deserves love and compassion, even though, in my eyes, she sucks as a human being.

Maybe even saying that is a bridge too far, but if I feel that way about her, then I will feel that way about myself–love gained by performance. As a gifted child, academic things came easily to me, and my identity was built around the praise of my teachers. Now that I’m a professor and not really that great at it, it’s tough to keep going knowing that I suck. Even more so, sometimes it’s hard to keep going at life knowing that I suck at it, that I’m not hitting the standards of success that I have for myself.

For some reason, even as I dissolve in my suckitude, it helps to know that the pain that I feel, besides the harsh discomfort of being alone and being poor, is that old me dissolving. The pain is a sign that I’m getting closer to the me that deserves love. Even further, Matt would say that I can love the one who is in pain, love the one who is sucking so hard at being the me that I want and need to be.

So maybe, I can thank all the people who were complete asshats to me, especially in Florida–who *gulp* also deserve love and compassion–because they all are bringing me closer to the person who does not have to be good and great to receive and deserve love.

Maybe.