The Calm Before The Storm

I don’t actually think I believe in the calm before the storm. The storm always breaks well before the rain, you can feel it in your mind, watch the darkness gathering in the distance, pulling you towards it like a wave rolling towards the shore. Feel the dread in your guy, heavy in the air, saturated.

York was lovely, a truly adorable city, but marred by the doom waiting to tip over our heads, the water balloon already in transit to smash into our face.

You’re never just paranoid. You know when something isn’t right. When something has gone unsaid.

I made myself horribly sick on it and have made the long-overdo pact with myself to give up drinking. Not in a black and white way. In a way that’s like… Why have I ever invested so much time and energy to make myself sick in a new friend’s dirty toilet for a day?

How would I need that when there is this?

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Also, we went to a drag show.

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But now we are back in Edinburgh, waiting out the storm. Maybe one of these days the rain will stop.

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You Can’t Go Back

For a moment, let us be needlessly sentimental.

The day my oldest sister moved away to college I cried. This had nothing to do with losing my lifelong roommate who’d tolerated (albeit barely) my atrocious brand of childish messiness. I cried because sometimes the moment washes over you in a clear wave that tells you that nothing will ever be the same again.

Soon after, my family crumbled. We each retreated to our separate corners. I drowned myself in the depths of my bed.

I can’t say precisely that I love my life. I have been looking for something. A feeling that rushes through your chest. A feeling akin to happiness. Every now and then I feel it brush across my skin. The wispy entrails of feeling that could, potentially, solve the unknown question (42).

I find myself retracing my steps, looking back to the places where this feeling once brushed my life. I have returned to the place. Maybe the place has not changed, but the feeling has left. Like my sister leaving home, it’s become markedly clear that my life will never return to those moments of bald joy.

You can’t go back to those slippery moments of happiness. Why am I lingering, waiting for them to return to the places where everyone else has left? Why am I still the one, swimming around in the past, looking for those last vestiges of long-extinct moments. Why can’t I get out of my own superior, possibly imaginary, memories?

Let us find new moments. Let us find new happiness. This one is no longer waiting patiently for our return.

Saying Goodbyes

I don’t know why but it is incomprehensibly hard to tell people goodbye.

Le Novio’s visit to Einburgh ended this morning. All of my previous guests (little brother and bestest buddie) I’d forced to sneak out in the quiet hours of the wee morning (which was apparently very rude, but the honestly least-painful way to leave, if you ask me)… But for some reason the censure of my condescending British hosts had me on the airport bus with Le Novio while he struggled to fill out forms for tax refunds on whisky.

Why do we prolong goodbyes? Can’t we just make it short and simple? Goodbye. Have a good flight. Let me know that you made it ok. Now get on the bus, please.

This is not an abrupt declaration that I don’t love you or am glad to see you go. This is me trying not to torture both of us by prolonging the inevitable. I will miss you, get back to your life, and someday I will see you again.

Why do we keep talking when nothing is going to make that person stay?

Needless to say, I am sad. Very sad. This mornings departure was unnecessarily and particularly hard. I tend to withdraw (in case you missed it) from emotional situations. Standing there watching someone walk through security in the perfunctory hallway of Edinburgh Airport…. Rough.

I miss everyone, not just those I’ve recently said goodbye to. And when I return to those people in America, I will thereafter miss people here.

That’s the problem… I can’t be everywhere, but I love people that are. It’s not my fault. I never meant to.

Day Sixty-One: Unrealistic Romantic Notions

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It pains me to tell you this because I’ve spent a vast majority of my life telling everyone about how cynical I am, but it’s time I come clean and admit it.

Hi. My name is C@$3! and I am a Stupid Romantic.

I mean, I always knew I had a secret thing for Jane Austen novels (that should have been the first sign), but really this is all coming as a big shock to me. I had no pressing feelings towards marriage. Sure, I cried once at a wedding, but just a little bit. I cry more than that every time I visit my favorite cheese shop or see commercials for fried chicken!

The suspicion was always there… After I’d read a romance novel and hide it under my bed so no one would see. Or when my best friend found The Notebook in my DVD collection and I said it was a gift (it was… but I still watched it!). I’d tell myself that it was just a one-time thing. That it meant nothing and it was ok to be curious about other people’s lifestyles.

I was in denial. I couldn’t even admit it to myself… But I had Romantic Notions.

I didn’t actually even realize it until this weekend. I don’t know… One minute I was talking with my mom about her latest foray into online dating sites marketed towards elderly people, and the next… I realized that all of my idealistic notions about love (especially the ones I didn’t realize I thought) were wrong.

You know. I read a lot of books about varying topics, but I think you’d be hard-pressed to find too many that aren’t, at least in some way, about love. Hell, my little writing adventure here… that’s entirely motivated by love. But there is a huge difference between love and relationships.

I love to write, but I fight my long-term relationship with writing every day. I do the same thing with Le Novio. I fight him every step of the way! Same with friendships… family members, hell, even music.

I refuse to let these things be easy. To let them slip into the stone-cold truth. That life/relationships/love is really not that difficult/dramatic/interesting. It’s like I have always had this idea in my head that my relationships should be more… well, plotted. That my life should be a book or story. That things have to be hard to reach an adequate and emotional resolution.

Nope.

I think what I’ve realized is that… Love is actually quite boring. I’ve been such a unrealistic romantic–set on “soul mates” and “fighting for us” and “drinking poison” and “deeper connections” and “Mr Darcy in a wet t-shirt”. Really, I think love is, more like “making sure they have their glass of water by bed before they go to sleep because you know their mouth is dry in the morning” and “no, I won’t be upset with you if you sleep on the couch, even though I’d rather have you with me” and “I know when you suggested to everyone that we go get ice cream, even though we didn’t go and you said it was ok, that you really wanted some so here is some Gelato I keep for these occasions.”

Or maybe it’s even more general than that. Whatever it is… it’s been hard to accept the quiet fact of loving someone. It’s just days of deciding to be with one person. Maybe you don’t see into each other’s souls, maybe you do. Maybe sometimes their jokes aren’t funny or they say things that hurt your feelings. Maybe sometimes they offer to buy you dinner and you’re so happy you could faint. But on a day-to-day basis a relationship is wildly uninteresting.

Love is not great literature. Hell, it’s not even a pretty photograph! Love isn’t even worth writing about. Love is a quiet decision… the recognition of the breath of another person.

Day Fifty-Four: Good News For People Who Love Good News

Almost six months ago I applied to do my MFA in Creative Writing and on Friday, after leaving the Lego Movie with Le Novio (which was actually incredible and self-deprecating and great), I got an e-mail with my first acceptance!

I had prepared myself for months now for blatant rejections, so I’m a bit at a loss for what to say when it comes to positive news. I had developed some really great insight into the importance of rejection and why it wouldn’t stop me in developing my career but FORGET THAT!

Just over a year ago I made a very important decision. I was working a job with no long-term goals other than a weekly paycheck. I was living in what I consider to be a fairly unambitious city. The only people who “make it” in New Orleans are in the culinary industry… and possibly healthcare or environmental policy. My mother had me really and truly convinced that I should become a Librarian.

Don’t get me wrong. I’d be a great librarian and I think that it would be a fantastic career… surrounded by books all day… lot’s of new technology. Really great, consistent job. But I don’t want to be a Librarian. I want to be a Writer.

I mostly keep my writing to myself. Ask anyone in my life and, outside of this blog which is my first committed attempt to public writing, and they won’t have read more than a piece or two of my work. Complete strangers I shared classes with have read more of my stuff than most of my friends.

When I was still an undergrad I’d let my mother sucker me into sending her a play I’d written for class. I was wildly proud of this play. It was read on stage by a group of professional actors. By Christmas, however, my mother had circulated this play to my entire family and it had become a running joke. I didn’t know this until my sisters started quoting it over dinner, much to everyone’s amusement at my expense. After that, I swore I wouldn’t share my writing with people I was close to… My latest project has been one of three times I’ve let a personal relationship read my work.

If I wasn’t going to let anyone read it, my work would never be more than a hobby.

Last year while at the park with the children I cared for, I ran into my Freshman Writing professor with his kids. I hadn’t been writing much at all. I’d been too tired from the kids and too distracted by my personal relationships. He seemed surprised that I wasn’t writing, that I wasn’t applying to school.

“I’d bet if you submitted works just from Freshman year, you’d get in. Doesn’t hurt to apply.”

Seemingly innocuous enough statement, but his words changed my life.

I had failed at writing. I had failed at writing because I’d stopped trying. The worst kind of failure is when you give up on yourself. If I wasn’t willing to put myself out there, I was the worst kind of failure imaginable. I was a coward.

So here I am a year later. Grad schools take a national percentage of 6% of applicants in America… and as of Friday I’m in the 6% and more than halfway through my first novel.

Forget the numbers though… They make this career look impossible. Work hard. Write well and often. Take rejection on the chin. And just keep putting yourself out there, no matter what it is you hope to accomplish. Only I will decide when my writing career is over.

I’m not all the way there, we’ve still got a long way to go, but I’m closer than I was last year.

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Nothing anyone could say would make me feel like a failure right now.

Day Twenty-Five: A Dance With Johnny Walker

Have holed myself up on my father’s couch with a bag of throat lozenges and an insanely fluffy comforter (feeling ill). The weekend’s wedding was wonderful. I’m not a huge wedding person, though. I think they’re great parties but I can’t, for the life of me, think of a good reason why I’d personally choose to get married so that cynicism has a tendency to spill over at times like these. They’re wonderful people though, and I wish them the most wonderful future together.

Love confounds me in a way. No, not love. Love is the act of confounding a person so that’s pretty straightforward. Maybe it’s just marriage that leaves me grasping at pins. What’s the reason for it? I think it’s a well-meaning reassurance, perhaps. But I don’t think I’ll ever be optimistic or determined enough to slap a guarantee on another person. Nothing in life comes with a life-long assurance. But that’s just my personal experience. People are the hardest to love–we’re very unpredictable. That’s what I enjoy so much about being a human. You never know what we’re going to do next.

That being said, the wedding was a riot. Had to have cost an ample fortune. The beer was great. The damn bartender refused to give me a double. Also, I forgot to bring a bra so I had to borrow one from my stepmother (and I can assure you, nothing makes you reconsider all of your life-choices like borrowing a bra from an older relative. The granny-bra is a real thing… do they not know about the great strides we have made in hosiery?). I am a whole new shade of shit-show. (And writing for children, too! What a sham.)

Anyway, I don’t have much to update. I drank enough Johnny Walker at the wedding to think myself some strange combination of Ginger Rogers (I owned that dance floor) and Hemingway. Tried to do a bit of inebriated editing while watching ice skating at 2 am last night… It didn’t go too well, but I don’t think I made it too far before I could do any real damage. Thank god, the whisky didn’t make me that ambitious. I swear no one should edit in that state.

I’m planning a massive read of chapters 5-8 and an angry letter to the Creative Factory about still not having read 1-4. You know it’s bad when even your best friend can’t make it through 4 chapters of your writing… I’m desperate for criticism. Like even something scathing would be great. Anything. I’d kill for someone to just read it. Right now, there’s no one (at least not anyone with the time and/or relationship hanging in the balance). I’m like a day away from sending this stuff to my mom, that’s how desperate I am. I’m going crazy because no one is telling me anything.

The worst news is no news. Someone please help me!

Day Twenty-Three: Shelter from the Storm

Took off after my impromptu shower yesterday and spent two hours driving through bass-akwards nowhere in pitch black, fog and rain. Mostly sure I am dead and this is but my ghost determined to continue blogging (unfinished business now equates to an unfinished novel). Anyway, I’m now hiding out at my father’s place trying not to roll my eyes at the delightful (re:awkward) banter between him and my stepmother.

Luckily. There is beer. Strong beer. This beer.

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(Delicious. French.)

Any minute now we’re to head to a wedding outside Orlando. Should have more beer (they brewed all their own stuff for this shin-dig). Lots more beer, so that’s something to look forward to.

However, the weather remains dreary at best. Dad up-sold with the new wife and now lives in what they’ve dubbed “a cottage on the beach” (nevermind that their living room is the size of my New Orleans apartment). Normally I wake up to a ridiculous sunrise over the ocean. Today’s view, albeit still gorgeous, was a bit more bleak…

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(Not sure what that weird pot thing is…)

Life in this house is like some interesting informercial for retirement. I sat around all morning writing (completely re-did all the crap I was previously calling chapter 8 and now it’s much better) while the two of them argued about such inanities as: why my stepmother wasn’t breathing a word to my father about the plot of my book; why my stepmother ordered plastic pineapple plants when she hates pineapples; why their neighbor talks so much; why we have to listen to the Steve Harvey show at full volume; and why my stepmother is so nervous about “rescuing” (i.e. buying off a breeder) a new cat.

It made for some great writing actually. I had to really enter an alternate universe to ignore their constant bickering (weirdly… most functional marriage I have ever witnessed). I’m thinking my next project is going to be a non-fiction, personal study of happiness… Whatever this dysfunctional life these two have built for themselves, it is… counterintuitively, very… functional. (There’s a beautiful irony in that.)

Chapter 8 was really giving me hell. My main character, Bean, was making a new best friend. I apparently have no idea how people make best friends. Not surprising because (outside of the boyfriend… and we still have no idea how we suckered him into this relationship, but Creative Factory and I were pretty determined to gain access to his pool) I haven’t made a best friend in about 5 years. After a certain point with people, you fall so easily into a certain kind of conversation that you stop thinking about what to say to each other. I barely remember meeting the Creative Factory (namely, there was alcohol), yet alone how we ended up getting to the point where we… not finishing each other’s sentences, we’re past that now.

How do you make a best friend when you’re 11 and terminally awkward? (Clearly, I didn’t have much companionship at that age.)

Does this mean…. I have to go out into the world and be nice to people? I’m not very good at that.