It’s been almost two months since I posted, and in such a short time, my life has, again, turned itself inside out:
Shakespeare warned us to beware the ides of March, and this year, that warning was painfully appropriate. The night before, my dog, Mrs Weasley, was breathing kind of funny. Then, Tuesday morning, I woke to find that she had thrown up three times, and her breathing was worse. I cleaned up the mess, gave her a pet, and had to go to work. A few hours later, when my mother went to take her out, she was not herself: very labored breathing, not moving off the floor, a worrying look on her face. My mom called me, I called the vet, and she took her right over. In half an hour, my biggest fear came true. She had developed tumors too big to treat. The vet said that even if they tried, the treatment would kill her before the tumors were cured. I sobbed the rest of the afternoon, left work early, and stayed with her as the vet put her down. It was a monstrous grief that followed. My mother was with me, and Mike came straight to me after he got off work. My sweet girl was gone, and being in the apartment without her was almost unbearable at times.
Shortly before this happened, Mike and I had started talking about living together. Since he moved to Chicago in January, it had been a constant effort to make arrangements to be together. A few nights at my place, a few nights at his. So much time and money spent driving back and forth, and it was becoming silly. That night, Mike asked me to move in with him.
The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance. ~Alan Watts
It was a no-brainer. Not only did the logistics make sense, but I have fallen so shamelessly in love with him. Like, the kind of love where I think he’s the best thing since peanut butter, and where I don’t care what people think when he kisses me in the produce section at Jewel, and where I fall in love with him over and over and over again, at the weirdest moments (this week, it happened when he was singing Rainbow Connection in his Kermit the Frog voice).
Just when I think I’ve learned the way to live, life changes. ~Hugh Prather
And so, I let my apartment manager know and started packing. Once again, my picture frames were wrapped in paper, my I Love Lucy snow globe put into its Styrofoam, and, after the moving weekend from hell, it was done. Since Mrs Weasley died, I had been slowly taking things to Chicago, but now, it is home once again.
I have wanted to live in Chicago ever since I left it. No place else feels like Chicago does. I live on the north side, where most of my neighbors are Hispanic, Indian, or Asian. When I walk to Walgreen’s, I pass a Mexican bakery, a few Indian/Pakistani grocery stores, some Halal restaurants, and a lot of other places I haven’t explored yet. I hate the lack of parking, and I could do without people honking in the alley so much, but it’s wonderful.
If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading. ~Lao Tzu
There is a part of me that is anxious about all this change. Part of me that wants to be more cautious about life, but that part is swiftly drowned out by the awareness that life is too short to wait for everything to be risk free. The greatest decisions in my life have always been the risky ones, and this is following suit. I am ridiculously happy, even when I am tired or anxious, to wake up with Mike every morning. I love living in the city again. There is a sort of settled feeling in me that says ah, yes, this is how life is supposed to feel.
Someone asked me a while ago where I see myself in five years, and I honestly can say I have no clue. Five years ago, I did not think that this would be my life at all. But the truth is, this is so much better than what I would have guessed. I know where I would like to be, but if I don’t get there? That’s OK. Life is meant to be lived, not just survived.
There are times when it should be entirely justified to throw a temper tantrum despite being 34 1/2 years old. This week is one of them. So far:
~ Stomach bug that made me throw up, ending my 22-year streak of not puking. It happened shortly into the Super Bowl party/nephew’s birthday party, so I had to leave early, missing cake, football, and getting to play the game I bought him. It also meant that my boyfriend saw me covered in puke, and later, at home, in my oh-so-unsexy Cuddlduds pants and the Adidas t-shirt I have owned since my junior year in high school. I made him promise he would forget what I looked like that night. And this is just on the heels of a case of sinusitis and bronchitis.
~ I had to work last weekend, so that means no break in a really long time. I did stay home on Monday with my bad stomach, but sipping ginger ale and hoping to stay vertical doesn’t really count as a time to recoup.
~ Meddlesome witch tried to mess with my relationship. She didn’t succeed, but it was the same day as my puke fest. I went from stunned to anxious to angry in the course of a couple of hours. There are still moments when I want to respond, but I am going to be the bigger, better person.
~ Work has been frustrating. Really frustrating, but I can’t go into details. It’s sufficient to say that I am twitching by lunch, most days.
~ I was in an accident while driving the company bus on Tuesday. The roads were icy, and I came around a bend and down a hill and neither I or the other driver expected stopped cars at a green light. No tickets, the cop was nice and said that it was weather and whatever, but… still. Everyone was OK, but holy hell. I didn’t need that this week. Now, I’m nervous when I drive.
~ I’m adjusting to my boyfriend having moved to the city, an hour and a half from me. Thankfully, I still see him a lot, but it’s an adjustment.
~ My anxiety has been a roller coaster with everything going on. I had a panic attack after the accident on Tuesday. Most of the week has felt like I am swirling around another one, and it is a lot of work to keep it from happening.
~ My apartment needs to be tidied and I have zero motivation. I’ve left the laundry soap and hamper right where she can get to it, but my dog has yet to wash a single load. My pink Converse have been on the floor in front of the bookcase for too long, and I should have run the vacuum a couple days ago. No one really warns you that a byproduct of anxiety is leaving the clean dishes in the drain rack for days.
~ Insurance kicked me over to mail order medications, which is cheaper, but apparently they take for freaking ever, and I’m out of one and the new bottle isn’t here yet. I called to get a new prescription from the local pharmacy, but I can’t get it until tomorrow. More stress.
There are a few other things I can’t mention, but really, it has just been a long week. I haven’t had a vacation in 14 months. I’m tired and crabby, my whole body was thrown off by the start of my week. I want to haphazardly throw things, to stomp my feet and flail my arms and scream nonsensical things at the universe.
Part of my frustration is that I have come to a place where I want more – and I no longer feel like I am undeserving of more. For so many years, I was told that to want more was wrong. That it was selfish and sinful. I believed the leaders who told me that it was arrogant and presumptuous to feel like I had anything to offer. Modern American Christianity is full of this weird brand of self deprecation that teaches people to believe that they are “worthless without Christ,” and that has the dangerous byproduct (for myself and a lot of people I know) of believing that we don’t actually have a lot to offer the world. In a lot of cases I’ve seen, one’s self worth is then determined based on the feedback from others in the church who tell you whether or not you are checking all the right boxes. I don’t have time to unpack how demented that is right this minute.
It’s something I have had to unlearn. As I’ve walked away from Christianity (not from faith, or God, but the American bullshit machine that is a lot of the formal church), I’ve had to learn that I am worth more than what they think I am. It has been anything but easy, but I am finally to a place where I feel like I have things to offer. So I want more. I want to make a decent income, to not have to work two jobs, to have a job I enjoy, to live where I want to live, love who I want to love, surround myself with laughter and beauty and joy. I want to be the leading lady in my own life, to borrow a line from The Holiday.
This week has felt like a shitstorm of things designed to rock that new-ish, somewhat fragile self image. So this week can officially suck it.
Thankfully, tomorrow is the last day of my work week. I am going to pick up my dog after work and drive to the city for the weekend, where I get to spend almost three whole days with my boyfriend. I’m going to have a good time, kiss his face off, and eat more than I should. And then, on Monday, I am going to start a new week that is free of the colossal mess that is this week. And I’m going to work on more. Because I deserve it.
A few weeks ago, I lay in bed with my head resting on my boyfriend’s chest, arm thrown across his torso, and we spoke in circles and tangents about a bunch of things, and at one point, I asked him what he wanted for Christmas. He said he wasn’t able to think of anything because he is in a place in life where he doesn’t really pine for objects. His desires are largely related to his comedy career. He paused, laughed, and said that the Mike of a few years ago would not recognize his present self.
I laughed and said that the old me wouldn’t recognize me, either. My own reflection would seem foreign.
Two years ago, I did not see myself in this town, job, apartment, or with him. I could not have fathomed it at all. I would not have anticipated the way my faith and religion would change. Maybe change isn’t the right word, but there isn’t another that seems to for either.
At no point in the first thirty-three years of my life did I see myself as happy, either. I was so certain that happiness – lasting happiness – was something that other people got to have. And then my life exploded and fell to pieces and floated back together in a completely different arrangement.
This kind of happiness is new, and sometimes scary. I am often terrified that it will vanish. That fear becomes anxiety, and a couple of times, I have found myself trying to explain it to him.
How do you explain anxieties to someone without sounding like you are crazy or messed up? I don’t really know, but I know this: his response has been breathtaking. It’s like someone gave him a cheat sheet that lets him in on how to listen, reassure, make me laugh, and redirect, all in the right amount and order, so that I come down off the panic ledge. It doesn’t take long, and I find myself back to normal – my new, happier normal.
Last week, my brain was pickled in hormones and it responded by making me feel like every minute was a swing between wanting to cry and rage. This is really unusual for me, even with hormones involved. For a week, my brain latched on to everything it could find as evidence that I wasn’t happy, that all the good things happening are ending, that I didn’t deserve to be happy. I knew it wasn’t true, but knowing that doesn’t mean anything when anxiety is involved. It made me feel like I was going crazy.
And for a week, whether he knew he was doing it or not, he helped me hang on, believed in me when I didn’t, loved me even when I didn’t feel like myself. It’s no wonder I love him to pieces.
There are a few things going on in my life that make me feel like I am at the start of a new chapter. It’s exciting, terrifying, overwhelming and exhausting. That has meant some bumpy days, but good days, too. It’s a new chapter in this weird ass adventure that has become my life. He is farther into his adventure than I am, but we get to figure it out together. I can’t wait to see what happens.
I’m just a few days shy of the anniversary of my resignation from The Salvation Army, a day that changed every itty bitty piece of my life. Last night, after pizza and a movie at my mom’s, she hurried out the door to give me something that I had forgotten in the move: my scale.
I didn’t really forget it. I was trying to, though. By the time I’d resigned, I’d lost about 82 pounds. Then, I had a year of nonstop change and uncertainty, and I plateaued in clothing sizes and gained a few pounds. For the last six weeks, since moving into my own place, I hadn’t weighed myself at all. And I ate a lot of food that wasn’t the best for me. Like hell was I going to step on a scale!
This morning, I couldn’t help it. I had to face the music. I stepped on the scale and in the last six weeks…. I gained a pound and a half. I was so happy!! Partly because I was certain it was going to be 10 pounds, but mostly because for the first time in maybe forever, I really didn’t care so much.
Since resigning, I’ve gained 14 pounds back. Not the best, but given the colossal changes I made in the last year, that is a huge victory. As a lifelong megafatty, it would have been so easy to wallow and eat everything and be back up to where I was.
I thought about all I’ve gained and lost in the last year, and I can’t help but think that this morning feels like a really big victory:
– Some people I thought were friends
– My need for daily sleep aides / anxiety meds
– Guilt for “not measuring up” to TSA standards
– Fear of my bosses and pastors
– 14 pounds
– A handful of strangers who are my support, cheerleaders, and source for really inappropriate jokes (that’s you, LSKs!)
– My own car and apartment
– So much time with my family
– New friends
– A job I love
– A kickass boyfriend who makes most men look like chumps
– Better credit
– The ability to sleep at night
– So much faith in myself
I honestly don’t care at all about 14 pounds. Well, I do a little, but I know I can lose them and I don’t feel like my worth is at all tied to that number.
Each of the last three years has felt like the universe is trying to kick my butt. This year, I finally feel like I’m making progress in my fight back. A year is a super long time sometimes. But oh, the things you can gain in a year.
There are parts of the world that I am not dying to see, and art exhibits that bore me pretty quickly. One thing inhabits both of these lists: Egypt. Whenever I’m at the Art Institute with my sister, she could spend all day in the ancient Egypt collection while I quickly get to the point where my brain is screaming “oh look: another chipped clay pot, just like the last 700 you’ve seen.” My desire to visit Egypt is lessened quite a bit by its recent political climate, but I have to say, the biggest draw for me are the pyramids that showed up in the background of story books when I was a child.
They aren’t amazing because of what they look like, but because they are a testimony of greatness and power. Over decades and decades, thousands of nameless people slaved -literally- to turn crappy limestone into something great enough to house the holiest, most esteemed people of their society. One brick at a time, they carried and stacked. Each brick unimpressive on its own, like millions of tons of other limestone rocks all over the planet that go unnoticed every day.
A year ago, my life felt as barren, hot, and miserable as that desert must have been. I wanted out, but to imagine successful life on the outside was as insane as the ancient Egyptians dreaming up the first pyramid. I wasn’t the first, though. Thank God, I wasn’t the first. I had two in particular who were my own pyramids, Cory and Christin. Both had left and built their own pyramids, so I wasn’t as afraid to build mine.
How long would it take you to build your life if woke up tomorrow with no job, home, car, phone, insurance, credit, and only $374 to finance your move to another state? It’s a hell of a thing to envision, and even imagining it beforehand is nothing compared to living it.
No one, and no previous experience prepares you for building your pyramid. I wasn’t on my own – I had family and friends who have been an unquantifiable amount of help, but it’s both a solitary and community effort. Every tangible bit of building a pyramid is the result of the mental work that goes into it. Sometimes, the mental work involved was coming to the weary, humbling conclusion that I needed someone else to carry and place a brick for me.
And the only way to see any results is to just keep going.
Ten months and fourteen days ago, I packed everything I owned in a uHaul, unloaded it into my parents’ garage, and started over, covered in scars that still feel raw from time to time. I did a lot of pride-swallowing and took the exact job I swore I would never take after college and worked enough to buy a car. Stock up on some interview clothes. Pay for my coffee at Starbucks where I used their free WiFi to look for a job that I didn’t hate.
Slowly, bricks were laid, even when I wasn’t looking. Wounds healed, friendships unfolded, nightmares lessened and dreams took their place.
Today, I signed the lease on an apartment. A one bedroom apartment at the end of a street lined with old trees in a small town just outside of a university bubble. It feels like a very significant brick. It’s just a couple miles from where I live now, in a town that has managed to feel more like home in three months than anywhere has in a long, long time.
I’m going to move in over the next week, with the help of more friends and family. For the first time in three years, I’ll get to put my Christmas decorations up. For the first time in I don’t know how long, I’ll have a space to invite friends into – until now, it seemed like I either had space or friends nearby, but rarely the two together.
My pyramid has a really long way to go, but today feels good. It feels like I get to finally believe that I wasn’t crazy to think about the possibility of life of the outside. Individually, the bricks laid in the last year aren’t much to brag about, but let me assure you: they were heavy, they were necessary, and they took a hell of a lot of effort. So when I look at these little silver keys in my hand, they are a lot more than just keys. They are big, gigantic bricks in my pyramid.
The last six months have been an interesting opportunity to rediscover – or perhaps discover – my faith without feeling like I have to fit into any one predetermined list given to me by a denomination or church.
Earlier this week, a friend caught some flack for not attending church every Sunday, especially because the critic was worried about her kids growing up not attending on Sundays. It astounded me, in part because this friend has been Jesus to me over and over, showing grace, love, humor, and giving guidance so freely. Her kids have beautiful, generous, happy souls who seek to serve and love people while they are little minions of faith. I don’t know her husband well, but as far as I can see, he believes in his family, is faithful to them, and is a pretty great guy. How much more Jesus-y can a family get? They aren’t “unbelievers,” but in this season, Sunday morning church isn’t how they experience God and grow in faith.
My job means that I don’t get to go to church on Sundays. I miss it. I ache to go to my church again.
I’ve talked with a lot of people about what it means to be a Christian and how the church fits into that. I know a heartbreaking number of people who are stuck between being a Christian because it’s what they believe and feeling like they’re too battered by the church to return to it. If it weren’t for my friends and my new church, that’s where I would be.
Last week, a customer was trying to bait me into an argument by asking me to label him with terms he would then take offense to. I didn’t take it. At one point, he strayed into the field of religion and asked what I am. I said Christian, he asked what denomination. I said that I attend the United Church of Christ, but I am not an official member of any particular congregation. It got me thinking, though.
My faith is vastly different than what it was a year ago. It is freer, happier, and far more open. If I had to define it, I’m not sure that I could, but here is what I have so far:
1. I have faith that there is a God. A genderless, omnipotent God, and that God loves people, both collectively and individually.
2. The best way to honor God is to to follow the command to love God and others.
3. Jesus is divine, and the best way to understand what it means to love God and others is to follow his example and take his message -LOVE- seriously.
4. There was no asterisk after “others,” so I don’t get to exclude anyone, as much as I would like to.
5. All truth belongs to God. So of I find truth in science, or a Baha’i writing, or through meditation, it’s OK because God is the god of all truth.
6. God forgives people, so I must, too. That includes forgiving myself.
7. I have no opinion on eschatology, other than the opinions that those who fixate on it are typically dangerous, and that it is far beyond my control or scope of comprehension.
8. I don’t get to determine who has salvation, but I am pretty sure its a much larger crowd of people than I can imagine. I am not a total universalist, and I think that those with hard, hateful hearts are unlikely to have salvation. I haven’t been convinced of any specific fate for those who don’t.
9. I think a lot of the things that are focal points of taboo behavior in conservative churches are legalistic garbage that hides far bigger, more dangerous sins like pride, malice, and greed.
10. The best of me is actually a reflection of God that others get to see, and I am at peace when I remember to use all my words and actions as a prayer.
That’s pretty much it. I have a ton of questions and my faith will no doubt be shaped into something altogether new by next week. It really comes down to six elements: God, me, others, love, humility, and peace. When I am in a place where those elements are well balanced, life is good. When they get our of balance, I need to do what is needed to get it back.
It seems to have taken a lot of life to get to this point, but taking the religion out of my religion has revolutionized, restored, and reinforced my faith.
Twelve years ago, while in college, I worked in a clothing store as a second job, basically trading my time for clothes. One evening, I found myself staring at one of the customers. I couldn’t help it. She had lips that belonged on a pinup, the most perfect shade of blazing red that somehow managed to look classy and not at all whorish. I complimented her on it, and she thanked me, explaining that she worked on State Street in Chicago at a very high end makeup counter and their makeup “uniform” not only included all black clothing, but red lips and minimal makeup everywhere else. I told her that I could never wear red lipstick because it looks terrible on me, to which she replied it was about finding two things: the right shade, and the right attitude, because when you wear red lipstick like you should be wearing it, no one questions you.
I smiled and thought “uh, yeah, no. I will stick to my rose colored glosses and Cherry ChapStick.” Wearing red lipstick was as scary as wearing a tube top, an act that cannot be ignored. Just think about it: no one remembers what Jennifer Lopez wears on her lips, but Gwen Stefani’s red lips are legendary, even above her outstanding clothing.
Most of the time, I feel like I’m walking a balance beam between wanting to be invisible and wanting to be noticed. I don’t want people to zero in on my faults and imperfections, which I think are glaringly obvious and visible from the International Space Station. When my ankles are puffy and my hair is Fraggle-ish and I just messed up at work, I am desperate to glide under everyone’s radar. However, when my resume is lost in a sea of resumes, and everyone is hanging out without me, and I’m having a good boob day, it’s all I can do to not walk around saying “hey! What about me?!? I’m special, dammit!!”
A couple years ago, I went to a department store to buy Chanel nail polish. It seemed like a nonsensical thing to get, but I was in a pretty low spot and wanted something over the top pretty. When I got there, I was bummed to find that they didn’t carry Chanel cosmetics. So I wandered around and came across Yves Saint Laurent Glossy Stain.
You know that first time you drove your first car? Or maybe when you got those earrings for graduation? Or the first time you had pizza at Lou Malnati’s?
That was me, meeting YSL Glossy Stain No. 5.
Angels sang. Stars shone brighter. The smell of summer enveloped me.
I was afraid, though. It was a far darker pink than anything I’d worn before. I couldn’t put it down, so I handed my MasterCard and left with a teeny little black bag of happiness in my hand.
I loved wearing it. It was just so pretty, even if I was a little nervous about people noticing my mouth. It would mean that they would notice me, even in a small and passing way. I couldn’t be invisible anymore.
Last fall, I went to dinner with my bff, Brandon, and afterwards, I was in a really good mood, high on laughter and chips and salsa. I decided to stop and see if there was another shade of the same stain that I’d like since I was up for something new. No. 9 was perfect, except for the fact that it was exactly what I’d feared: intensely red, glossy magic.
I feared it and had to have it at the same time.
The first time I wore it, I nearly shook. I wasn’t a red lipstick kind of woman. Those women were assured, confident, beautiful. I was just me, sometimes shaky, shy, and definitely plain. One of the best lessons my choir director taught me is that “this, too, is part of acting. If you present yourself like you mean to be here, no one will say that you shouldn’t be.”
In that vein, it became war paint. When I wanted to feel strong, in command of my universe, the red lip stain was one of my best tokens. When I wanted to feel gorgeous and anything but plain, painting the color on my lips went a long way. I am a different woman when I wear red lip stain. I get a surprising number of compliments when I wear it.
I’ve picked up a few more shades from other brands since then. Today, I woke up to a horribly anxious brain. I spent the day watching The History Channel and napping before heading to my niece’s choir concert. When I got ready, I pulled out a tube of stain that I haven’t worn in months and with one swipe, I remembered that this is the most intense color I have, and this brand doesn’t wear off easily at all.
Dang. I was already trying to fight through a scumbaggy brain and now here I was, with lips that are visible to the Mars Rover. Deciding to follow Max’s advice again, I took a selfie and stuck it on Facebook, declaring myself ready for the day. One of my friends commented on it, saying that I can pull off bright colors, but she looks silly when she tries. I found myself standing where that other woman stood twelve years ago, telling her to find the right shade and run with it.
Every woman can – and should – wear red lipstick, if not literally, then metaphorically. Find the courage to stand out. Draw attention to what you have to say. Even if you have to fake it, act like you are here on purpose.
Yves Saint Laurent changed my life. What will it take to change yours?
“All at once the world can overwhelm me.
There’s almost nothing you could tell me that would ease my mind.
Which way will you run?
When it’s always all around you
And the feeling lost and found you again,
The feeling that we have no control?”
-Jack Johnson, All at Once
A few weeks ago, I started communicating with a guy I’ll call B, and we exchanged messages for probably two weeks, and I liked him, despite the unlikelihood of me picking him out of the bunch. He’s a few years younger, for one, and, perhaps more intimidating is the fact that he’s more attractive. He made the first move. I thought it was going well, and then he stopped. I was a little bummed, but it’s not like I can force someone to communicate.
Yesterday, he messaged me and said he was sorry, had gotten really sick and kind of receded until he felt better, and wants to keep getting to know me. Seems fair, because I don’t want to be bothered when I’m sick, either. We texted for 4 hours last night. He asked me out, and I said yes. We have plans for dinner on Sunday, since I have plans with Brandon and Grant on Friday and he has plans for Saturday.
I’m excited. And terrified.
Melissa asked what I was going to wear, and I have no idea. Because my body doesn’t make any damned sense anymore. I’ve lost so much weight and my body has changed so much fat into muscle (with a long way yet to go) that I am more awkward than a middle schooler. I don’t know what to wear anymore.
Two weeks ago, I met with my trainer for the first time. When we talked about what I do, and where I want to be, and he said “You’re doing everything right. Why am I here?” To which I honestly replied, “Because I’m bored with it and need someone to show me new things and help me keep at it. I’m only happy when I’m miserable.”
It’s like he was sent by Satan himself to give me the most horribly, wonderfully miserable routine possible. Balance work on the Bosu ball. Hill climbing. The pull up machine. Um. Do I look like I do pull ups? To paraphrase the great John Pinette: I don’t do “ups.” Up defies gravity, and gravity is a law. I obey the law!
But because when it comes to the gym, I am happy when I am miserable, and I do it. “Don’t go by what you weigh, go by how your clothes fit. You can weigh yourself once a week, if you feel like you have to,” he said.
Well, OK, Ryan, after one week, I’d GAINED three pounds, and after two, I’m back where I started but now my work jeans don’t stay up even with a belt and while my shoulders are starting to look like real shoulders, the increase in upper muscle means I have bat wings like never before. So now I can’t wear my magenta dress to the gay bar with the boys on Friday because it’s sleeveless.
And I have no clue about what to wear on Sunday for my date with B.
My body has been changing for 18 months now. It is exhausting. Totally and completely exhausting to constantly have to reevaluate how I feel about my body. It’s overwhelming to try to find continual acceptance of it. I’m forever noticing that my left thigh is thinner than my right, but my right ankle is thinner, and some days I have cheekbones but other days, my face seems puffier, and on and on.
Tonight, I am weary of it. I’m anxious about meeting B and disappointing him somehow, despite the fact that he has seen pictures. While freaking out at the gym, Brandon tried reassuring me that the things I don’t like, like my bat wings, are “just battle wounds.” He’s incredibly accurate, but it’s a war fought entirely with myself. The wounds are deeper because they are self-inflicted.
I’m trying to not be too anxious, but I’m losing that battle at the moment. Even though B texted me about two paragraphs into writing this. It’s both nice and more pressure.
Before I think myself in too many more circles, I’m going to leave this here, and text B and listen to Jack Johnson for a little while before I fall asleep. And try to be kind to myself.
Stained Scotchguarded polyester seats fill the room, dull shades of olive and peach, some of which look like they have been here since I was in middle school. My coffee is tepid and as much as I want to read my book, the murmurs and faint noise of the TV are just enough to keep me from being able to focus on the words on the page.
Not that I’ve ever been able to read much in hospital waiting rooms.
My right leg is crossed over my left, fidgeting while I try to sit patiently, and I occasionally remember to wiggle my left toes to keep them from falling asleep. The beige walls are so bland that my eyes wander to anything at all stimulating; even pamphlet about heart disease becomes interesting enough to stare at for a while.
This time, I’m here for something minor. My mom had carpal tunnel surgery, a simple outpatient procedure that, compared to previous visits, seems like little more than a paper cut. My family and friends don’t usually treat themselves to such minor events. Cancer surgeries, major cardiac procedures, strokes – it’s all or nothing, it seems.
Perhaps a month or so ago, I was talking to my friend Neva about how differently we view hospitals. We’ve both spent an inordinate amount of time in them, and at this point, the intensive care unit doesn’t phase us like it seems to phase most people. The sounds, smells, alarms, tubes, fluids, etc. are not at all out of place for us.
The family across the room just got a good report. The middle aged man had a heavy mass the size of a football removed, and doctors are confident. I’m glad for them. Once the good report is heard, though, the son leaves to get his kids from school, the friends give hugs, and the pastor goes back to the office, leaving the wife to sit alone, half watching a show on HGTV, picking up her phone now and then to call someone else and share the report. And she waits.
I hate waiting. I’m not good at waiting. And all I seem to do lately is wait. I waited all week for my day off, and I had plans, but now… I wait. I sit, and fidget, and reposition myself, and wish I was somewhere else. It feels like a bad metaphor for the rest of my life: not as bad as it could be, not a scary as it used to be, but a lot of hurrying up to do nothing. A lot of little motions that keep me from going stale, but really aren’t getting me anywhere. A lot of boredom.
They said it would be another hour or so, but that was about three hours ago. No one has indicated that we’re leaving any time soon. I’m really trying to not be cranky.
I knew that changing careers and totally upending my life wouldn’t be done in a week. But it has been nearly four months, and I’m ready to be onto the next step, not that I even know what that is. I’m still sending my resume and cover letters out, but can’t even get interviews. I’m saving as much money as I can, but it is taking forever to build up to a level where it feels useful. So I wait, and fidget, knowing that the one saving grace of waiting rooms is that while it feels interminable, eventually, everyone gets to move on, one way or another.
It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad. ~ C. S. Lewis
Life has felt stagnant because change has been harder and slower than my impatient self would like to admit. Yesterday, a friend posted a silly image that said “Don’t let anyone treat you like a yellow Starburst. You are a pink Starburst.” For some reason, that pithy line resonated. I had a few minutes before I was to start work and I used my phone as a mirror to put on my lip stain.
I barely recognized the face I saw. I’ve lost so much weight, changed so much, that I don’t look like the same person anymore. I’m not the same person anymore.
I’m good with that. I like this face better.