Welcome to My Boat

I must admit:

That I have listened to this song

perhaps 1,000 times on repeat. It’s not even that it is saying anything in particular that’s comforting to my life circumstances right now, but something about the tempo and repetition are very soothing. Also I do this every time I discover a new song I like. I have to listen to it over and over and over again until I borderline hate it and want to vomit from hearing it. I think I have slight psychotic tendencies.

And I crumpled in the shower last night in a crouched yoga-esque position and cried. I watched the mascara drop off my eyelashes in blackened wet stars. I fixated on those black stars. I watched them one after another form into a supernova. That distracted me, the explosions of black bursts, merging and then dissipating on the shower floor. The shower that doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to my cousin, Heather who has so graciously adopted me in my time of interim running away.

Every time I am in my car, I want to keep going. I want to overdraw my checking account 17 times over gunning it to the West—my holy land. But then I realize the contents of my car, which include about a dozen throw pillows, half of my board game collection, an assortment of novels, one sports bra, a pair of workout pants and mismatched socks, my friend Ryan’s bulky yet incredibly warm winter boots and snowshoes, a puffy vest and a few unpaid bills would not exactly be conducive to my starting life over as a pioneer. Or maybe these things are the best parcels of change, because I am past giving a damn. However, I have a real complex with letting people down regarding my commitments. And my fear of a deeply overdrawn checking account scares me out of actually doing it.

It’s the fear—which really speaks to a lack of faith—that is really getting to me right now. I remember before I broke up with my ex having a similar conversation about the fear with my sister. I shook with it and expressed my concerns of what if… What if I gave up this love and never got another… What if? My sister said it was that fear and that uncertainty which was giving me pause. She posed this question, “If you knew without a doubt that your person, your right person was out there and ready for you, would you take the leap? Would you leave?” I answered immediately with a yes. And that was my answer. Moving forward in faith, knowing that maybe I was giving up on a love and maybe there wouldn’t be another, but… but my ever hopeful spirit and my ever loving God led me to believe that I wasn’t making a mistake and love would find me again when it was good and ready.

I am more than manic and riddled with anxiety right now. I find myself wanting to do unspeakably grim things (not off myself, cool your jets, my life isn’t that bad. No just maybe drink heavily or find an opium den) that belie the level of self-love and self-respect I have acquired with years of practice. Don’t fret, though. I only dabble in those thoughts, I can’t act on them, because I have too much moral conviction. Sometimes my mom likes to claim she dropped the ball on raising us right because I had premarital sex with both my ex-boyfriends (I would not take it back, even with my first ex who was not a nice guy, because it made me who I am today, so cheers to mistakes, man) but clearly, she didn’t drop the ball because if I were a different kind of girl I would be mixing Xanax and whiskey right now and having loads of scandalous sex to cope with my existential crisis. However, what I did instead was eat a McDonald’s double cheeseburger and feel sufficiently lousy that I am mildly poisoning my insides and then went to Barnes and Noble and picked up a slew of books with titles like, You’re Loved No Matter What and Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace and Jesus I Need You, and A Year With C.S. Lewis. So, dropped the ball, my arse, mom.

Writing candidly about how I want to cope with mindless sex and whiskey and how I cry in the shower and how somehow despite my mass uncertainty and fear I do still love myself and God deeply enough to not go wildly off the deep end, well it makes me feel a whole bunch better. And I hope if you are having even a fraction of a crisis right now you feel better that you cannot possible be the only one in this boat. Welcome to my boat. There is room for you in here. And because my life has offered me up some turbulent seas as of late, well, I like to think I am a pretty good sailor.

Why Hello Rock Bottom

“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.
J.K. Rowling

This has been my mantra for the past few weeks. Mostly because things keep seeming to spiral out of my control and I have to chuckle (alright fine when I am not having smallish panic attacks, brutalizing myself in the gym for the endorphin rush, or clutching a novel to my chest while staring at the stars repeating this other mantra of

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.”
-Albert Camus)

because that is my approach to life. Make everything funny. Always. I have to make it funny otherwise my life would just be a tragedy and I cannot stand for that. It has always been and always will be a comedy. Or in this case a tragic comedy, but still. Comedy. Long live the laughter. Lucille Ball would understand.

Here are the tragedies I have been trying to re-work. They are in no order of importance.

I remember a few years back seeing my mom pluck a hair from her chin with tweezers and shuddering (sorry mom). I thought, this is the end of the line man. When hair decides to grow from your chin. I thought I’d have until I was at least forty before facing that certain fate. Nah. It’s happening now. Not cool, body, seriously not cool. I already have cellulite, so you’d think I would’ve caught a break on all other forms of horrifying body problems, but alas, I now have to tweeze my chin hair too. I am not exactly sure how to make this funny other than sharing my shame, so, please, I hope your Tuesday is better knowing you don’t have chin hair… yet. It’s coming for all the rest of you beasts! I swear it.

I applied for a job at Country Living thinking it was a total shot in the dark. I actually heard back from a recruiter. She wanted to see my work. Then the editor-in-chief emailed me and asked me to do some pitches for the magazine. Suffice it to say, all my hopeful dream writing job eggs were thrown into that basket immediately. I was all but putting down a deposit on an apartment in Birmingham when I got the notice that I did not get the job. I was planking at the gym at the time. I had to calmly finish my plank and walk out to my car so I could snivel like a baby in the privacy of my vehicle. Crying while planking would have just made me look like I couldn’t handle a plank, and please. I can plank all day.

Okay it’s all cool, guys. So I have rogue chin hairs and I didn’t get a great magazine job on my 70th (or is it my 700th) try. I am so much tougher than crying over broken dream eggs. Seriously don’t even worry about me.

Except…

I got an email from my current editor a few days ago telling me they were discontinuing my health blog as they were going in a different direction. Clearly my having chin hair and cellulite and being 28 living with my parents in my mom’s Etsy room in a bed with no sheets, (because honestly I can’t even find the energy to bother and that actually happens to be one of my biggest pet peeves) was not rock bottom. This had to be it, I realized with an almost palpable relief. I am finally at rock bottom, so I can stop worrying about my body and my career and my errant hair, or the lack thereof on my head. Now I am in the deepest bowels and every idiot knows this place of utter wretched manure* is where the real growth begins. In the midst of my quaking panic, I clung to the idea that my life was now akin to Detroit, a phoenix just waiting to rise from the ashes. This was good. It was all good. I kept panic at bay with a toothpick and though my head wobbled from the effort, I held it high anyway.

*“They say the seeds of what we do are in all of us, but it always seemed to me that in those who make jokes in life, the seeds are covered with better soil and with a higher grade of manure.”
-Ernest Hemingway (sent to me so thoughtfully this morn by one Mr. Amazing Hulz)

But wait…

I know, I know, if I had a puppy, right now would be the time for a villainous ruffian to come by and kick it for shits. But no, I don’t have a puppy, but I do have this love…

And I had one too many cocktails in my beloved Detroit city on Saturday and thought it’d be wise to send him a nice message. I thought it was just pleasant drunken banter. Sure with maybe some undertones of my love for him, but he already knows I love him, as we say it to each other all the time, so it seemed harmless enough. Nope. The next morning I awoke to questions from him, followed by a painfully uncomfortable phone call. I refused to clarify exactly what my drunken ramblings meant and he didn’t press the issue very hard. I think neither of us truly wanted to go down that road, because we’ve been down it once before and it didn’t end well last time and it won’t end well this time. So we’re both in denial. Or maybe he isn’t. Or maybe I am. But either way, I think those cocktails unlocked Pandora’s box and what was inside can’t be shoved back in, even for the good of humanity, or for salvaging what he have. If he was unclear on the depths of my love for him, this wildly confessional blog ought to really tidy that up. (And I am sorry for that sir. If I could actually be sorry for loving someone such as yourself, which in fact I could not). But now… now I am officially at rock bottom, but a little scared to say so, because I am fearful that one of my legs might fall off for good measure.

Here are the swell facts, however, because in the mire that is my life at the moment, there is always room for a wee bit of swell. I have never been so scared, which also makes me very bold and perhaps bordering right back around to fearless, because now I don’t feel I have all that much to lose. Plans are being put into action with more attention to detail than I reserve for shaving my legs when I have a date.

I am going to seize the day. And do some very, very uncomfortable things like sell my beloved belongings, which I already started to part with today. Insert emotional upheaval here. And head West, which after all, was the plan all along. And yeah, yeah, some might say I am just a runaway and maybe I ought to stay and face the music. But I faced the music today, that music being Gregory Alan Isakov and this lyric in particular:

I picked up all the arrowheads off buffalo trails of the Indians
the Oklahoma sky was cutting through
along the tracks with the Runaway
he just talks and talks and talks
honey, I’m just trying to find my way to you

I choked back sobs not on the word runaway, but on the words Oklahoma sky, knowing without a shadow of a doubt, that yes I will go West because I am a runaway and at 28 I am just as comfortable with this knowledge as I am with having thighs that will always touch. Also, this wouldn’t be the first time G.A.I has brought me to tears. During his concert which I attended a few weeks back, this same song struck a chord within me, on the words, “honey, I’m just trying to find my way to you.”

And those words have never been more true of anything in my life. Honey (meaning the mountains, the sea, God, my grand love, goats, a farm, babies, a writing career, and maybe gaining back one or two of my vintage trunks) I am just trying to find my way to you. Always. I am always trying to find my way to you.

If You’ve Got Worries

I worry constantly. If worrying were a payable endeavor, I would give Bill Gates a run for his money. I don’t enjoy this little facet of my persona. In fact I worry about the long term effects on my health. So then I try and combat the worry with yoga, deep breathing, regular chats with God, and good-vibe mantras, like chill the fuck out, you’ve got this. I recently saw that one on a greeting card which I promptly sent to my best friend who enjoys the F word as much as I do.

Currently I am an almost 29 year old who lives with her parents and babysits for a living. Okay to be fair, I also teach the children writing while I’m there and I freelance for a magazine, but still. I work three days a week and TurboTax has definitely classified me as poor. Okay, fine, they didn’t say it outright, but they ever-so-helpfully hinted at certain tax breaks I can receive for being below the poverty line. I appreciate that TurboTax. Way to have my back.

At any rate, my artsy soul is constantly conflicted with a deep desire to be true to my art and not have my soul ripped out by The Man and then uh, being an actual adult who pays her bills and has health insurance and can afford her penchant for almond butter and fancy coffee but has to have her soul ripped out by The Man, because that’s the way to afford almond butter and bills. It is very disconcerting all this warring back and forth, between soul and The Man.

As any starving (though I never starve, I could never allow that. Not because of prolonging my life reasons, though that’s of course important, but because I genuinely am mad crazy over food) artist would tell you, being a slave to your art is not for the easily discouraged.

Right now, however I am at an impasse. I just regretfully watched a Ted Talk video on why your 30’s are not the new 20’s (I never believed that anyway) but the video made me very uncomfortable. Why haven’t I figured my shit out yet? What is wrong with me? The speaker gives all these examples of 20-somethings making their big life decisions. Getting careers and finding love and paving the way for their 30’s. And I don’t have any of that figured out.

Sure I know I want to be a writer as much as I want my next sip of expensive coffee followed by a bite of chocolate, but making it as a writer who also has a 401K and can eat for good measure… that’s the big times.

My best friend just turned 30 and while I heartily enjoyed picking out a card mocking her last days of youth and leaving her messages reminding her that she’s old, it was all in good fun and truthfully I envy her. She pointed out to me that a whole bunch of her major life decisions were made in her 20’s and how great that was (the speaker in the Ted Talk points this out as well). She went to school, settled on a career, got a job in that career field, found her husband, bought a house, brought home a dog. By society’s standards and turning 30 standards, she’s fucking killin’ it.

And there’s me who has one year and a handful of months left in my 20’s to make some semblance of it count and all I can do is worry. Here in no particular order are all my worries right now:

Why don’t magazines want to hire me? Is it because I’m sort of chubby? Wait, they can’t profile like that. Don’t be absurd. But maybe… Or worse is it because I’m untalented? No. Take that one back. I’d rather be sort of chubby and know it, rather than believe myself to lack any real talent.
Am I unlovable? Also, is it the sort of chubby thing?
Seriously when will I be gainfully employed by someone who doesn’t make me memorize the new french fry menu, or isn’t paying me under the table? (We’ll talk about that next year TurboTax).
Why can’t I finish my blasted book already?
Will I even write a bestseller? Of course I will. Don’t be an idiot.
Am I an idiot? Could be… the other day I was mildly unclear on the rules of communism and had to look it up on Wikipedia.
Why do other almost 29 year olds have pensions, houses, dogs and love lives, or have already invented a new billion dollar website? Where is my motivation? Where is my drive? Where is my love life?
It’d probably be easier if I was a singer. Then I could just go on the The Voice and…
Wait how would life be any easier if I was a struggling singer instead of a struggling writer? I don’t know, but it might be. At least they have open mic nights.
Maybe I should start reading my writing aloud on street corners. Could I be discovered in that way?
Why hasn’t anyone discovered me yet?
Seriously have I been negligent in the love department? Was I supposed to set my intentions and look for my mate? But I always hear it happens when you’re not looking. Should I be looking or not looking? Coy or aggressive? Coy is better right? Always be coy. Except I am not coy. I am super obvious and out there. Dammit! Why didn’t God make me coy?! All the coy girls are the ones finding their life partner. Instead I am failing at my 20’s.
Do I eat too much peanut butter? It has protein, but it’s also fatty.
Where do people find cowboys? I mean, more appropriately, where are women finding cowboys who are interested in marrying them? Why haven’t I landed a cowboy and how come life is so unfair? I have so much cellulite and no cowboy. I mean shouldn’t there be a cellulite cowboy trade-off? It only seems right. I did my time with the cellulite now I should be rewarded with a man who rides horses and then rides… the rails you pervert. Gosh, any good cowboy obviously has to take the train sometimes for business.

Ughhhh. There are so many more worries. I am worried I’ve forgotten some of the best ones. Sometimes I find myself utterly at peace and content and I suddenly start, like when you’re falling asleep and think you’re falling out of bed. I think, what were you just worrying about ten minutes ago… I can’t recall, so I backtrack, oh thank God, there you are worry, finances, you were worrying about finances. Oh that one’s a doozy, we could be here all day with this one. Alright, let’s get started.

Honestly writing this post in some ways has inflamed my anxiety to the point where I am having fantasies of dancing Xanax, but in others I realize how truly absurd most of my worries are. Also the fiery optimist in me is seriously chagrined by all this worrisome talk. Hence why this post got written. She was not having any of it and every time worrisome me mused to the universe at large that maybe it’s impossible for someone to love me, really love me as in also want to take off my clothes at some point and acknowledge my cellulite while still maintaining that love, she battled back with ferocity saying, of course it’s possible you ninny! You are fully worthy of love, and not just love but great love, cellulite and all! And any cowboy worth his beard and boots would be lucky to have you. Also you’ll get a job and sell your book.

She’s nice, the fiery optimist. I ought to talk to her more often and maybe have her stronghold the worrier and lock her up in a closet under a staircase, Harry Potter style. Yeah, that’ll shut her up. Anyway I have a homemade almond peanut butter cup with my name on it. And nothing says drowning my worries like chocolate and almond butter, so I’m going to get to that. Besides. I am only an almost 29 year old. I have one full year and some odd months to get my 20’s right. I am not worried… Ish.

I am Not Offended by Pies

Not too long ago, I had an interesting experience while in line at Target. I was eyeing up the brightly colored magazines with pies and holiday décor on the covers and had commented to my friend that my mom had almost every single one of those magazine subscriptions and oh how I envied her. It was my turn to check out then and the cashier started talking to me about one of the pie’s taking up the entire cover. I nodded in excitement thinking she was just as jazzed as I was about pies, the holidays and women’s magazines. But right as I had started to smile and say, “I know, pies!—” she rolled her eyes and started in on a long tirade about how disgusted she was with the pie. She sneered like the pie was a known criminal who’d just been set free.

I faltered. What was wrong with pies? I didn’t understand. Maybe she was a health nut… As she was bagging up my items, she kept going on about the pie and how much it aggravated her. I looked back at the magazine and the offending pie for clues when she then started in on Woman’s Day in particular.

“I mean, come on, Woman’s day? Why does it have to be a woman’s day? Making pies?” she enunciated the words woman’s and pie while waving her hands zestfully. I swiped my credit card.

And bingo was his name-o.

“So you’re a feminist?” I commented.
She beamed, glowing as warm and bright as a freshly baked apple pie.

“Exactly!” she smiled like I got it and went on. “Why are they assuming only women want to make pies?! And why is it called Woman’s Day? It should just be called… Day!”

“Right…” I nodded and though I completely did not feel that Woman’s Day should be entitled Day or women’s inclination for pie making was all wrong I wanted to be helpful and show my support of her passion and chimed in, “men can make pies too!”

She looked downright exuberant now and like she might grab a protest sign hidden behind her cash register that said, Men make pies too! and start marching around the store.

By this time my transaction was done and my friend who had been ahead of me in line was waiting near the exit doors. I smiled politely again and waved goodbye. She looked deeply relieved like she had gotten through to me—made me understand that women’s magazines and pies were a throwback to the 50’s when women served their men whiskey and lit their cigars while wearing pearls… all of this after a long day of vacuuming, of course.

Little did she know that she was preaching to the wrong lass. It’s not that I am not a feminist though (those types of things simply don’t rile me up). Am I all for women’s rights? Absolutely. Do I think Lena Dunham is the shit? I sure do. But I am offended by the idea of being barefoot and preggo in a kitchen baking a pie for my husband? Nope. I think that sounds delightful. Do I therefore belong in the kitchen baking pies? No. I don’t belong any one place in particular, not to a kitchen or a pie or heck even a man. I belong where I say I belong and my mind changes daily on that. Sometimes I do belong in a kitchen baking pies, you better freakin’ believe I do. I love pie! And other days I belong to the open road. And still others I belong to my laundry basket that is overflowing. I belong to my keyboard and my camera. I belong to the forest and the sea. I belong to God.

I will tell you what does offend me though: the idea that women should be just one thing. They should be career women and be offended by Woman’s Day insinuating they should spend their days baking pies. That’s preposterous. Woman’s Day is simply celebrating women, however they want to spend their day, making pies or not making pies. Okay fine, then they should all be mothers and they should all love to cook. Nope still wrong. Not everyone wants to be a mother and that’s okay too. I personally don’t relate to that one, but I also don’t undertsand the allure of cottage cheese; the world is just incomprehensible sometimes. Now wait for it, here’s a real doozy, what if you want both?

I do. I want a career. I want to write novels and travel the globe and live out of my car and soak up every human experience possible. But some day I want babies, loads of ‘em and a hubby too. I would like a house with a front porch and a big kitchen for cooking meals for that family. I’d like a dog and maybe some goats.

Lately though, maybe it’s because I am nearing 30 and people have taken it upon themselves to worry for me, I have gotten in a lot of conversations that utterly baffle me with how insulting they are. I am going to combine all of these very real convos into one for you now:

”So are you seeing anyone?”
”Nope.”
”How old are you?”
”28,” I answer because I am not ashamed of my age or sharing it.
“Ohhhh… do you want me to set you up with anyone?”
”No thank you. I am footloose and fancy free.”
”Are you sure you want to do that?”
”Be footloose and fancy free? Yes. I love being footloose and fancy-free”
”Yeah… but you’re not getting any younger…”
”I appreciate your concern but I am really not worried.”
”No you’re right. I would start to worry by 35.”
”Um. No I am not going to worry then either.”
”But don’t you want kids?”
”Yup. Six of them.”
”Oh my gosh! Your eggs are probably already dwindling! You should really get on this.”
”Yeah… no. I again am not worried. And if I have to adopt half the orphans in Africa and Vietnam with or without a man, I am comfortable with the fact that I will one day be a mother and I also would like to be a writer as well.”
”Well… kudos to you…” they say begrudgingly.

The problem I have with these conversations besides their being wildly offensive in nature is that people are implying my life sans man or sans children right now is cause for worry. It isn’t right. It’s against the grain. Aren’t I a woman? Isn’t that what all us womenfolk want?

Yeah, some of us want that. And some don’t. And some want the career and some want the babies and some want the pie and some want a little of all three and some want none of the above. Leave us alone! Leave Woman’s Day alone! Leave our bloody egg count and our want for pies or adventure alone! No woman who wants to be a mother and only a mother should be labeled un-ambitious because she doesn’t have inclinations other than to procreate. Being a mother is beautiful. So is having lofty career goals. And so is wanting both.

And guess what the very best thing of all is? Women who have the confidence to go after what they want whether or not they are getting older, their egg count is dwindling, their other friends happen to be married, have babies, houses, dream careers, but still they press on knowing who they are and what they want out of this crazy life.

Hmmm. Got a bit soap-boxey there. Maybe I’m a feminist after all… Just not one who is offended by pies.

I Don’t Know What to Say

I am reading this book, that’s really getting under my skin (in the good way, like the falling in love way). And in it Ms. Patchett says this,

“Do you want to do this thing? Sit down and do it. Are you not writing? Keep sitting there. Does it not feel right? Keep sitting there. Think of yourself as a monk walking the path to enlightenment. Think of yourself as a high school senior wanting to be a neurosurgeon. Is it possible? Yes. Is there some shortcut? Not one I’ve found. Writing is a miserable awful business. Stay with it. It is better than anything in the world.”

I’ve re-read that paragraph over and over to myself and then out loud to anyone who was within range. It affects me profoundly as being a writer is my calling, yet it’s the thing I constantly evade. Patchett also addresses her wanting to/not wanting to write in her book, which made me feel better about my own problems with committing to my craft. But she also made a point to encourage writers to start by writing twenty minutes a day, work up to two hours and then any time you can spare. I of course being the cocky little brat that I am decide I don’t need to start with the bare minimum, I will start with one hour, because of course I can write for an hour every day.

And naturally, I put it off all day. I even exercised before I wrote and that’s saying something as normally I love putting that off as well. Again I have no idea why because I really love working out, I just get all in a tizzy beforehand, much the same with my writing.

Finally, finally when I could think of nothing more to distract me, having worked out, eaten lunch, read running tips online, showered, did my hair, read more of Patchett’s book, went to my storage unit to dig through my boxed up book collection to find my Writer’s Block book in case, as I was already getting so nervous that I had nothing to say and finally, I arrived at the library. My designated writing spot for the next hour. Patchett also suggested that I put away my phone and allow no internet access for this designated writing time. I was going to make myself write for an entire hour but as I opened up a Word document and stared at my screen suddenly all the millions of things flitting about my brain every day all day begging me to write them down, had disappeared.

I just stared. And panicked. And stared. And panicked. I have nothing to say. Oh my gosh I have nothing to say. When does this ever happen? I am constantly so verbose it borders on word vomit. And yet, there I sat, without a word in my head or on the blank page. Finally I latched onto a back-up idea I had been toying with (as I forgot my Writer’s Block book in the car) and I began to write that. Except the whole time I felt ultra critical of the work and slightly paranoid like someone was watching me.

After getting through thirty-five minutes in which I did not go on the internet or check my phone I became edgy with the pressure of making myself produce for a whole hour. I suddenly had to do something else. I had to pee. And I had to have a hot chocolate. Really I did. It was quite cold in the library, I hadn’t even taken off my coat, and I had been chugging water. So yes, my bladder really had to be tended to. Also I did need that hot chocolate. I am trying to come off the sugar craze that was Thanksgiving and today’s sugar only included a clementine and a banana. A little baby hot chocolate would take the edge off.

I grabbed my phone like it was my lifeline, checked Instagram like the drug that it is, felt better, shut my computer, went to the bathroom and walked out of the library and down the dark and frigid street to the coffee shop. Where I currently sit with my hot chocolate which was extra hot when I ordered it and is now tepid.

And still I feel a little stressed out about writing and so I am writing about writing and my sheer and utter avoidance of the one thing I was put on this earth to do. What. Is. Wrong. With. Me?

I think I need to go buy deodorant though because I forgot to put it on and I am supposed to meet my friends in an hour for coffee. Yes. I have to have deodorant. I’m wearing a wool-ish sweater. That’s a not-great combination for me and my sweating inclinations. So that’s top priority.

Math Didn’t Stick… But Carlos, Luke and Kirk Did

Lena

I’ll be honest, sometimes my expectations are a little ridiculous. Like how I check my mail with the serious hope that a love letter from a secret admirer will be awaiting me. In truth if normal people actually received a random note of love professions from an anonymous person, most people would assume they were being stalked by some crazed loon who wanted to cut their hair off and wear it, probably along with their skin. I however, believe differently. I am of the Jane Eyre persuasion that a well placed letter of undying love would be welcomed joyously. And okay, fine maybe it shouldn’t be anonymous because yeah, that might be weird, just sign your name man, but I do like the idea of secret admirers. But maybe it’s because I never had one in the fourth grade when that sort of thing was going around with cooties.

Besides expecting love letters in my mailbox, I also have high expectations when it comes to love. I wouldn’t say they are unreal or that I expect a knight on a white horse to ride up to my door, though I mean, come on, that’d be seriously awesome. Natalie Portman got to land Thor, that lucky wretch. I want some time-travel, world-saving, sword-wielding, scantily-clad Chris Hemsworth to land in my backyard. And okay, I actually do feel like I should point out that in no way is Chris Hemsworth normally my type. I don’t care all that much about bulging muscles and blonde hair almost never revs my engine, but that accent and that whole defend his kingdom bit, well it’s just sexy okay? So I’ll forgive the lack of beard and flannel but alas I digress.

It’s just that I had a realization the other day. As I  was helping out in the first-grade classroom where I used to work assisting the little munchkins with rudimentary math: 4-3, 7-6, 9-7… I thought back to when I was in first grade. I tried to recall if I could remember being taught basic addition and subtraction. I couldn’t recall.

What I could recall, however, with sparkling clarity was my crush who wore a white leather jacket. I think it had fringe and maybe some red birds swooping between the shoulder blades. He always hung it on the back of his chair and I stared longingly at it, wishing I was his girl and that he’d drape that fine piece of fashion over my shoulders, proclaiming to the world that I was his. I think his name was Carlos. And he was Hispanic. Oh those dark locks and that white leather. Carlos, you made it hard for a girl to remember silly math with you around.

I ended up with a different boyfriend in the class who had an obsession with the Phantom of the Opera and would never shut up about it. Ah, my first gay boyfriend, every girl needs at least one in life.

Okay, so maybe second grade I would recall some math? Hmmm, having a hard time locating the numbers, but I remembered how much fun I had in the reading corner and also my crush Timothy Driver. He also had lustrous dark locks (told you I’m not really into blondes) and was already popular as when I tried to befriend him he clearly knew his station was above mine and wanted nothing to do with me and my unruly curls and propensity for reading.

So odd that I couldn’t remember learning basic addition and subtraction but I remember Carlos and Timothy… what about third grade? Any math there? Nope. But I did have another crush on a Timothy but this one was red-headed. Red-headed Timothy actually was my friend and would play with me on the playground with my other friend… gosh, I cannot remember her name though… I’m starting to see a pattern here. Well let’s say her name was Rachel. One day I felt like Red-headed Timothy and Rachel were having too much fun with each other and not giving me enough attention.

Did I show them? Oh boy did I show them. I ran away from school. I just up and left the playground and walked across the street to the apartment complex where I knew my aunt lived. She wasn’t home, so I sat on her stairs in front of her door for awhile mulling over how boys were stupid and a total let-down. And then I walked back to school, where I was promptly told to march myself to the principal’s office. So apparently school is like jail and you’re not allowed to leave the grounds without serious consequences. Gosh, how was I to know? I had just wanted to send Red-headed Timothy a message. Don’t pay attention to me, and I will make the biggest spectacle you’ve ever seen, making it impossible for you to ignore me! 

As memory served, math clearly wasn’t on my mind as a young lass. Not even one problem survived when having to compete for space with my childhood crushes.

I knew the fourth grade was a bust for math because that was the year I discovered writing as my calling in life. I became consumed with writing stories and penning author’s bio’s. I don’t even recall having a serious crush that year. Writing was my new boyfriend and that was all I cared about. I mean sure, Alan was a hoot but he knew it, so that was a bit of a turn-off, I didn’t need anyone competing with me for attention. And Luke was really cute (for a blonde) but he was also the smelly kid so there was no dealing with that. And then William who sat next to me and happened to be blind but could play the piano and sang Billy Joel at our school concerts, really had me considering throwing all caution to the wind to start wooing a blind man, but I just didn’t have the time. Not with my newfound love, writing.

After doing a full-on mental assessment of my entire schooling career I found that while math was unremarkable to me in every way (shocker, I hate math) I could clearly pinpoint every crush from every grade and something that stood out about that crush, along with books I read or writing assignments I enjoyed. What this so obviously encapsulates is my two great loves: romance and the written word. Which clearly have been with me as far back as I can remember. I vaguely recall having crushes even in preschool, though what I remember more about preschool was really enjoying nap-time. Also nothing has changed much there.

Sure I loved love so much that by the time sixth grade rolled around and I still didn’t have a boyfriend I made one up, grabbing the name Kirk from Star Trek. I thought that the name Kirk was so obscure that it would have to be believable. Wrong, the fact that no one has ever had the name Kirk, ever, except for Captain Kirk and the fact that Imaginary Boyfriend Kirk attended a different school, led all my incredibly sweet and kind friends to just politely play along while raising suspicious eyebrows at my insistence on having a boyfriend, even if unreal and horribly named Kirk.

And yes I loved writing so much that when LeAnn Rimes had her hit single, “Blue” at fourteen, I began scrambling to start my book, so I could be the next child prodigy in the writing world. As a youngster, while making up boyfriends and practicing kissing on oranges and trees (laugh now but I’m a damn fine kisser thanks to those willing participants) I also dabbled in writing short stories, mostly angsty romances but I really kicked it up a notch thanks to LeAnn and began trying to type my novel at my babysitting job after the kids went to sleep. I still have all forty some pages typed out and stored in a manilla envelope with Top Secret written all over it. I may not have gotten my novel done or picked up by fourteen, but my commitment in even typing out forty pages is still slightly impressive to me even now.

These two constants in my life, my love of love and getting my book deal permeate my very existence. So all right, maybe math didn’t make a big impression, but that’s just not my cup of coffee, ya know? And maybe my future love will have to suffer through my hideous want for attention (I blame my nine younger siblings on why I didn’t get enough as a child) and maybe I’ll run away again when I don’t get it? Who’s to say? But he will also get quality kisses, more romance than a Danielle Steel novel and if he’s really swell, he’ll probably get a book dedication too.