The Recipe for More Than Enough

Musings

I often wonder what my life would be like if I stopped worrying? For starters I would have so much time on my hands that I could probably cure cancer or become a millionaire. Although, I am actually nowhere near science-brained enough to tackle cancer, other than with hippy plants and prayer. So that’s out. And I don’t care great deals about money to make being a millionaire an aim.

I just want to have somewhat fancy breads, cheeses and chocolate in my life, good company, and be able to get Sallie Mae off my back indefinitely. And uh… I mean if God threw an outdoorsy gent in there who happened to have a beard, I certainly wouldn’t complain…

But speaking of fancy breads and good company and the niceness of life and bearded gentleman… I actually have all of that already. Well, technically I don’t have a bearded gentleman per se. But I have a real solid bearded pal who envelops me in great big bear hugs and kisses my forehead from time to time. So it counts.

All of this is to say, I am not secretive about my freakouts. I pretty much always tell people when I am freakin’ out. The ranchers know when I am losing it, because I come over to their cozy hilltop log house and have coffee with them and probably wear them down with my words. And my girlfriends know because I have a brew and do it all over again. And then my sisters pick up the phone while I am driving and I love their sweet voices and I focus on the road, watching intently for deer and cry and then pray I don’t hit a deer for the third time. So yeah… I am not one of those bottle it up girls.

While being back in Wyoming and learning to be a rancher and experiencing some of the most incredible experiences to date involving roping and jam sessions and baby cows and cowboys have left me nothing short of awe-struck, I have had my moments of adjusting. Adjusting to life by myself. Adjusting to the prospect of turning thirty and wondering if I’ve mucked up somewhere along the line because I don’t have a baby or a ring on my left hand or enough money in my savings or checking for Bank of America not to punish me for having so little money.

All that is worry mixed in where a whole lot of splendor could be steeping. And all the worry had been doing was taking away from the simple splendor and God’s grace. I was noting the splendor sure, because I am drawn to that always, but I couldn’t stop the worry though. I said I was stopping and I tried to mean it, but I became overcome with worry again and again and again, until I called my mom one day in an absolute fit of overwrought histrionics and said I was worrying myself ragged and needed an escape.

I had talked to a lovely friend in Sheridan—on the other side of the mountain—who invited me to stay with her and I speculated to my mom about the costs of the miniature road trip. She insisted I go and told me not to worry over any of it. To treat myself to coffees at Andi’s and a sandwich at The Cowboy Cafe and a salad on the porch of The Sheridan Inn. I did all three and I let my breath out. Breath that had been terribly trapped in fits of anxiety deep in my core.

I stayed with my friend in her home that reminded me of my childhood best friends home. It was herbal-y and full of sunshine and twinkle lights and love. Oh my goodness but love was soaked in every molecule and fiber of that place! When my friend set down a cutting board of fancy cheeses, bread and veggies in front of me. When she poured me sun tea she’d had on the porch all day and her husband and I agreed it was good, but if we had a splash of bourbon… bourbon was added to the sun tea and I sighed merciful content. When she told me the story of how she happened to meet her husband on a plane when she had started to question if she’d ever find love again, I thought, okay not only is there love in this place, there is hope.

And I decided right then and there to give up my worry. Or do my very darndest to at least backseat the little brat who had been taking over the wheel of my life as of late. It was so sweet to sip on bourbon sun tea and breathe. And think of meeting someone in a fanciful way that didn’t involve my worried fitful brain and worst-case-scenarios. And later sit on one of the widest and most open porches in the west with a waldorf salad and A Moveable Feast and take pleasure in merely being. Just being alive here. Wasn’t that enough?

Of course it’s enough. Why do I get so gluttonous for more? Green-apple splashed salads on airy porches was enough. Bourbon sun tea with a darling of a girl and her love was enough. Sleeping soundly with the window open and a slight chill was enough. Going to visit my bearded friend because I knew he’d cuddle me—and play Scrabble with me. I was Twain, he was Faulkner, because we make Scrabble aliases. And make me laugh and generally help me to forget all about my incessant worry—for no other reason than because darn it all I needed to be cuddled (and maybe I missed him a wee bit). But that too was enough.

And the more I got to thinking about my life here, it dawned on me that the simple splendors plus the right amount of hope, minus substantial worry would be the recipe for more than enough. Then it’s funny how these things happen but I began to notice even more enoughs. I had so many enoughs overflowing my pockets, I was starting to feel jubilant. Like running through the rain yesterday and pausing thinking, my God do people realize how amazing it is to run in the rain and feel wet grass on their ankles? That got me through my entire day yesterday: wet grass on my ankles, while running to a barn in the rain. More. Than. Enough.

And when I would wake up and frantically search the bed for my worry, like uh-oh, you’ve had your fun, now girl get back to the business of bluesy terror over your life, I would calmly and rationally tell my brain: All those worries you worry over, welp, turns out majority of them cannot be solved in this instant before coffee, so uh… Worry, maybe you had best just skedaddle for today. And probably tomorrow while you’re at it. Because I am doing my best here. 

So here I sit. It is snowing and I am going to make sweet potato biscuits and cookies. I am tucked in at the rancher’s beautiful window-lit home for the day. And later, when the ranchers return, we are having kiwi margaritas. Yeah let that sink in, a kiwi… margarita. I don’t know, man, but bourbon sun tea and kiwi margaritas in the same week… I gotta say, that’s a whole lotta splendor goin’ on. And if you’re reading between the lines right, there’s not a whole lotta room for worry in between bourbon sun tea and a kiwi margarita. At least from what I understand about life.

 

Drunken Relaxation

Musings

Be Drunk

You have to be always drunk. That’s all there is to it—it’s the only way. So as not to feel the horrible burden of time that breaks your back and bends you to the earth, you have to be continually drunk.

But on what? Wine, poetry or virtue, as you wish. But be drunk.

And if sometimes, on the steps of a palace or the green grass of a ditch, in the mournful solitude of your room, you wake again, drunkenness already diminishing or gone, ask the wind, the wave, the star, the bird, the clock, everything that is flying, everything that is groaning, everything that is rolling, everything that is singing, everything that is speaking. . .ask what time it is and wind, wave, star, bird, clock will answer you: “It is time to be drunk! So as not to be the martyred slaves of time, be drunk, be continually drunk! On wine, on poetry or on virtue as you wish.”

-Charles Baudelaire

I’ve decided that I am going to be the Eloise of the Sheridan Inn. Okay so I don’t have a rich father and mother who jet-set and leave me in the hands of a somewhat capable but negligent nanny while I run amok in a fancy hotel. No. But I do have a waitressing job in which I work twelve hour days, six to seven days a week and a pocket full of dough’nt rain on my parade; one night at the Historic Sheridan Inn would have to suffice. At least until I figured out a way for the staff of the Inn to look the other way to my squatting in their luxurious Western quarters and sipping coffee on their expansive covered porch.

I had read in one of my Hemingway books that my beloved Ernest had stayed at the Sheridan Inn on August 3rd, to work on a Farewell to Arms. Naturally I got it in my mind that I too needed to stay at the Sheridan Inn on August 3rd to work on my novel… errr, or blog… or play checkers. Okay fine mostly to lounge, drink wine, eat brownie skillets, take a bath in a clawfoot tub, look for ghosts, drink coffee in rocking chairs and use up vast quantities of wifi. To be fair, Hemingway had noted that he didn’t get much writing done at the Inn during his stay due to the hustle and bustle of the Inn and its proximity to the railroad. So I was in fact in good company.

But I didn’t care. I had to see for myself and also see if I could conjure some of his energy or perhaps writing prowess while ensconced in between the Inn’s historic timbers. I left work after a 72 hour work week that had sapped me of my will to live. Alright mostly, it had just sapped my will to serve another God forsaken pancake, but same dif. Upon arriving at the Inn, the vacant eyes of stuffed elk, bear and Buffalo Bill stared back at me from the surrounding walls while I waited to check in.

When the front desk gal arrived I excitedly told her that Hemingway had stayed here on August 3rd. She nodded politely.

“Do you happen to know what room he was in?” I asked mentally crossing my fingers that she knew and that the room was also available. Of course I hadn’t planned ahead, because that is sincerely unlike me and I wasn’t even sure I was going to be able to snag August 3rd or 4th off from work, much less sleep where Hemingway had laid his beautiful word-filled head.

“I don’t know. Also we re-did all the rooms, so it would be hard to say.”

I was instantly a little disappointed that she didn’t seem to want to go to any investigative effort on my behalf and find out what portion of the hotel Hemingway’s writing spirit lingered in. But I didn’t push. I was here on August 3rd and that would have to be enough.

I asked for a spacious room with a large bed.

She said the Esquivel Brothers room was exactly that.

“I’ll take it.”

“That’ll be $199 plus tax.” I didn’t bat an eye as I handed over my Visa. I would probably pay any amount to hunt for Hemingway if truth be told. I had planned on this Hemingway stay to be a solo trip. One for self-reflection, writing and sheer drunken (reference the poem at the top if you’re confused) relaxation. However, my baby sis Kia had arrived in town and had the day off and when I told her of my plan, she looked at me with hopeful doe eyes that she could join in my overnight adventure. I couldn’t say no of course and so Kia and I carted our bags up the grand wooden staircase to the second floor.

The room was perfect. It was fully decked out in Western décor: leathers, Native prints, reds and browns, but in a subtle and non-tacky Western way. There was a checkerboard table with a leather satchel holding the game pieces. Two windows overlooked the bronze dancing couple statue, teepee and railroad. There was a loveseat and oversized chair for lounging which I felt I had earned. And then there was the bathroom. Oh but the bathroom was the kind of bathroom that other bathrooms aspire to be.

The floor was white with miniature black diamonds. The double sink had two oval mirrors. The bathroom was wide and open with a window to let in sunlight. And then. Then, there was the claw foot tub, as deep as it was wide, perfectly sitting like a regal queen in the middle of the room, with a wraparound curtain. Deep enough where all the water would account for my height and hips. Deep enough where I could perhaps do a little snorkeling.

Kirst and I had this kind of tub in our apartment in New York City and it instantly flooded me with happy memories and swells of gratitude that I had the kind of life that allowed me simple pleasures like claw foot bathtubs with wraparound shower curtains.

At any rate, the room was a dream. There wasn’t a television in sight and for a solid hour I mostly lounged on the loveseat or flopped about on the high and deeply cushioned bed, before my stomach began to growl and I lazily decided food would be a good idea. Nay a grand idea, because I adore food almost as much as I adore beds with extravagant amounts of pillows.

Kia and I ate outside on the porch. The summer breeze was warm and we shared an appetizer, then dinner, and dessert. I sipped on chardonnay and then switched over to coffee with my brownie. The breeze picked up and the sun disappeared. I had to take off my belt to make room for my over-full stomach. I discreetly placed it in my purse and then Kia and I rocked in the rocking chairs until the blue sky darkened to bruise proportions.

Kia and I took turns pruning in the bath. We had read about how one of the proprietors of the hotel, a Miss Kate had lived and worked there for 64 years and now was rumored to haunt the hotel. I had only gotten four hours of sleep the night before and had foregone my usual after-work nap in hopes that my sheer exhaustion would wave my paranoia over ghostly run-ins.

After my bath I texted a friend about Miss Kate but had forgotten her name and instead called her Miss Kitty as that sounded more Western to me anyway. I noted that I had put the Do Not Disturb sign on the door and would that seem like an invitation to Miss Kitty to in fact disturb us? Was I being too cocky? Should I take the sign off, so Miss Kitty could roam freely?

He replied that I was too easy of a victim for Miss Kitty and not to worry.

I convinced Kia to draw on my back to woo me into slumber, but I still had slight unease over Miss Kitty’s presence even with my overwhelming exhaustion and the sedative that was back drawing. I woke up a few times in the night, eyeing the room suspiciously for Miss Kitty. I didn’t see her and eventually dozed off to have a deep and restful sleep.

The next morning after breakfast in the Ladies Lounge, coffee on the porch and a day spent perusing shops in town, I lingered in the overstuffed easy chairs of the hotel’s third floor wishing to write and never leave. That’s when I decided I would be the new Eloise of the Sheridan Inn. I just needed a way. Or a pocketful of rubies. Or maybe a Hemingway-esque bestseller.

Well there would be time. I now knew that Hemingway was right about the distractions of the Inn. It was perfect for decadent baths, crisp chilled chardonnay on porches and ghost hunts, but if you were in need of drunken relaxation, perhaps no real writing would get done.

But like Mr. Baudelaire said, “It is time to be drunk! So as not to be the martyred slaves of time, be drunk, be continually drunk! On wine, on poetry or on virtue as you wish.”

Or be drunk on clawfoot bathtubs, old Western hotels, plush beds, rocking chairs, brownie skillets, Hemingway, back drawings, and unbothered and un-hurried sister time.

Ms. Adventure

Musings

I am sitting in the bar sipping a mojito whilst writing. Okay I actually despise when people start out their stories with either what people are wearing, eating or drinking. I mean, really who cares—unless you’re Ernest Hemingway—what does your drink have to do with the price of rice in China? But because it is summer, because I have my bathing suit on underneath my clothes in prep for an impending swimming session and because I am atop a mountain I felt like it could be said. Also it most certainly feels very Hemingway-esque, as I have never written in a bar before. Much less while drinking. So salud Hemingway. This one’s for you.

This is all to say that mountain life suits me. I don’t know that it could suit me forever, as I miss great big bodies of water, but maybe I will find myself someplace where the mountains meet the sea and then I will marry the sea and the mountains can be my mistress.

I went on this hike yesterday with this fella I enjoy, let’s call him Francis, or France for short-ish. Francis has become my new hiking counterpart. Nearly every day after work we go find some undiscovered part of the mountain to traverse and explore. Yesterday’s hike was Black Mountain Lookout. Perched atop mounds of rock 9,500 feet in the air stood an old fire tower lookout. That was our destination. There is a forest road that goes up most of the mountain and then you take a trail the last mile upwards. Unfortunately, or fortunately for my cellulite, the forest road was washed out by a river and so we had to park the car at the base of the mountain. Well. We were already atop a mountain, so not the literal base as that would be a hike for a much fitter gal. But anyhow, we were heading higher into the mountains.

When Kirst and I first accepted this job we were told it was atop a mountain, but maybe we didn’t really believe it as we were slightly dumbfounded when we drove up the side of a mountain to get to our new lodgings. But when we saw how far the mountain stretched, peaks this way and that, it seemed the mountaintop was never-ending. I told Kirst how the mountains seemed to go on and on, even when on top. She confessed that she too was perplexed by this and when she considered living on a mountaintop she thought it would be more like living at the top of a jagged point. I asked her if she meant like where the Grinch lived—in a cave on a high, high snow-capped peak—and she said, “yes, just like that. I thought where we lived would be just like the Grinch.”

Where we live is nothing like where the Grinch lives. Though there is a Grinchy-Grinch on our mountain, but I won’t mention names, she just likes to scowl a whole bunch and snap orders at people. But that’s the only similarity.

I digress of course.

So our hike. We parked at the base and got out in order to scale the flowing rapids that took out the entire road—okay I kid, they weren’t rapids and the whole road wasn’t taken out, it was more a babbling brook that ever so inconveniently crossed the road because it could. And Mother Nature does what she wants anyway, so we were happy enough to oblige her.

The forest road up didn’t feel too taxing though naturally the moment I started exerting myself I was perspiring. We came upon the trailhead feeling good. Feeling strong and capable. Maybe even a little cocky. Then we went further into the forest and up. And up. And up. And where was this fire tower? Wasn’t a mile supposed to be easy? Not a mile straight up a mountain apparently. Okay to be fair we weren’t going straight up. We were on switchbacks, but it didn’t feel much better. I felt hot liquid pooling down my face and instead of making the natural and logical conclusion that I was sweating profusely—my usual M.O.—I panicked and thought I was bleeding from the skull. I touched the liquid and inspected my fingers. Nope, not blood, definitely just copious amounts of sweat.

We went left and went right. Climbed higher and then a little higher still. We made the assumption we were close. But with every turn, we only saw more forest and more rocks. Then through a break in the trees we saw the tower. You would think the heavens parted and I burst into euphoric bouts of symphony but when I saw how high up the tower still seemed to be the only word that came to mind was, “fuck!”

I turned to France who looked startled and I apologized for my profanity. And we trudged on. Switchback after switchback. He asked me if I needed a break as I huffed and puffed. I felt I could use a break to keel over on a rock lounge, but feeling a little pissed and determined, I declined the offer of rest and insisted we keep on keeping on until the top.

Soon we were near the summit and it required a little rock climbing. Or to be fair to rock climbers everywhere, rock finagling. But when we came around the last of several bends, all we saw was an outhouse—well and stunning 360 degree views of pine laden mountaintops in every direction—but the fire tower seemed to be out of reach, perched atop a pile of jagged grey rocks. Now, if it weren’t for the jaw-dropping views in every direction I would’ve let out a stream of F-bombs for my frustration at all that and still not being able to set foot on the fire tower.

We climbed some rocks and I sat attempting to enjoy the view, but itching to get to the fire tower. Francis surmised that maybe this was as far as we could get. I fumed. Not so. I would sooner break my neck rock climbing to the tower than admitting defeat after all that. So as he began to work his way back down the rocks I lingered and inched toward the towering rocks to my left. He caught me and issued warnings about how if I broke my leg he’d have to give me a piggy back ride all the way back down the mountain. I don’t think he was as worried about carrying my heft down an entire mountain of switchbacks as much as his worry about me breaking my neck instead of a leg and then having a corpse on his hands.

I had a hard time heeding his warnings though and told him I needed to suss out the situation and see if I could indeed climb the rocks. I climbed a few and then looked at the straight wall of imposing rock looming large and daunting in front of me. I wanted to do it. I wanted to get to the fire tower. And most times in my life I was willing to risk life and limb for adventure but I glanced sideways at my fall if I lost my footing—which would be precarious at best—and it would definitely result in my being maimed or worse. I lingered a beat longer while I could feel my pal’s tension behind me. And then I turned around and said, “fine. I won’t risk breaking my neck. But we are getting to that fire tower.”

He agreed and then moments later he discovered a rock path right up and around the seemingly impossible rock faces. And just like that we were up and on our way to the tower. And in a few breaths we were there. I could not rightly fathom that people actually lived up here in order to keep watch for forest fires. Now this was the exact top of the mountain. The tip-top. The pinnacle. Where the Grinch would probably reside because no one would want to make that trek to bother him. I was speechless. Or maybe I was breathless. Who could even tell?

And then I needed to lie down. Not exactly from sheer exhaustion, but perhaps because I had convinced myself there would be a hammock at the top, and I was dismayed to find there was not. After a spell of enjoying the mountain vistas on the deck of the fire tower, we made the trek down. Maybe it was the exertion. Or maybe it’s the fact that I always want to blaze new paths, but I kept finding myself off trail. Suddenly I was in the midst of a gorge of rocks looking about for a safe way down and I glanced behind me and Francis smiled and asked where I was going.

“Is this not the trail?” I asked.

“No.”

Oh. How weird.

I accidentally went off-trail three more times while Francis patiently waited for me to re-route myself.

“Where are you goin, Ms. Adventure?” he would ask. I chuckled and then turned myself around. I did not know where I was going; it just seemed right. Hmmm. Isn’t that a grand metaphor for life though? I mostly don’t know where I am going, but it seems right. And somehow despite rocky terrain and many, many missteps, I always make it back down the mountain safely.

Why Hello Rock Bottom

Musings

“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.

Help Me I’m Poor!

Musings

After a splendid weekend home a couple weeks back, full of overly sugared donuts and ghost adventures, I came back to the Yoop feeling refreshed and content. Until work the next day when my boss walked into my classroom to tell me they were cutting my hours. Indefinitely. As I blinked rapidly trying to process the fact that I was being let go, (even though it wasn’t me personally, it was mass budget cuts all around) which has never happened to me, I felt a sinking dread over how I would survive.

I wasn’t so much worried about the finding a new job thing, I can always manage that, I mean, have you met me? My personality is delightful. No, it wasn’t that. It was that of all the jobs I do that aren’t full-time writing gigs, this had been one of my favorites as it involved working with kids. Sure some of them are less than darling, like this one particularly sassy girl pointing out the other day, rather snottily I might add, that I had a hole in my leggings. (Reference the title of my blog if you’re confused why I had a hole in my leggings. Also I forgot they were the holey pair when I put them on. And the hole was small and in no way revealing anything indecent). When I said I forgot there was a hole and not much I could do now, she rolled her eyes and asked why I hadn’t gone home to change. As my face began to get hot with annoyance, I told her to go back to playing tag and not worry about the state of my clothing as it was none of her concern.

So yeah, all kids can’t be Shirley Temples, but the way I feel about kids is the way I feel about life, and that is that they are remarkable and if there happens to be one or two sour ones in the mix, well isn’t that just how life goes?  After only about half a day of grave concern over the state of my life and already very grim finances with losing the best paying of my three jobs, I concluded that this had to be my a-ha moment. It had to be. God never just takes things away from me without it leading me to where I rightfully belong. So I thought it’d be rather un-trusting of me to start assuming now that God didn’t have a plan, even if I was at a loss as to what that plan entailed.

Of course, just because I had my a-ha moment of that’s it, this is my sign! Stop working jobs that aren’t your art and really go after it! Within a matter of days, the high of my a-ha moment had worn off. And on the heels of the now plummeting high came my dreaded nemesis, Anxiety. I was in the throes of an anxiety attack eating 100 Grand after 100 Grand (the candy bar, obviously. If I had real 100 Grands I would not be in this conundrum now would I?) leftover from our 1920’s party as a futile attempt at therapy while staring hopelessly at my Idea Notebook.

The candy bar therapy wasn’t really working. Shocker. Food just doesn’t soothe me like it used to. I considered day-drinking. Hemingway, my hero, would totally give his nod of approval to that. But all that was leftover from the party was gin, champagne and beer… Okay, so that actually is a really fine selection. Call me a snob but if I am going to day drink I really feel like it ought to be wine. I mean the hard stuff just scares me a little and drinking beer mid-day, well it seems a smidge more on the alcoholic side than the classy angsty artist side.

So day-drinking was out. I tried soul-therapy then. I went to the library and checked out A Moveable Feast and sat rapt and moved by Hemingway’s prose while it drizzled outside. But still, the anxiety would not leave me, the dirty rotten bastard. I stared out at the vastness of Superior and tried to pinpoint the furthest reaches of the lake. I wanted to be at that place. I suddenly had latched onto my other self-soothing technique which is complete and utter crazed denial accompanied by the urge to flee.

Whenever this happens in my life, (the urge to flee) which truly is often, I always seem to be at a crossroads financially. Okay, fine, I am always at a crossroads financially! (Like today when I cashed in my coin jar for gas money. I thought there was only about $8 in there, hoped for $12 but was blown away when my grand total back was $20.71. Make it rain!) But it is not because I am irresponsible. Au contraire. All my bills are paid on or ahead of time and in hefty sums. It’s just that I really love Dave Ramsey and want to be debt free, so I put everything I make toward my debt and nothing ever goes into savings. Ever. If it does, it is immediately taken out to be put toward said debt, because being debt-free to me equates my being able to finally run away and join the circus. And honestly if I had a dime for every time I threatened to run away and join the circus, well my debt would be paid off and I would be unencumbered to ride the rails and maybe elephants too.

Alas I knew what I had in my checking, savings and on my credit cards and all of it combined wouldn’t even give me a full tank of gas to find the edge of the Lake, much less a free pass to join the circus. I morosely packed up Hemingway, feeling worse somehow and went home. At this point, my sister Kirst who had been feeling much the same as I had—riddled with anxiety that is—and I began to chat. I told her how I needed, no really needed to run away. I felt manic and crazed and like I was losing my a-ha moment. I told her I read about someone else’s a-ha moment on Oprah and how the woman had gotten laid off, was in debt and overweight and how she figured it all out. And wasn’t I in the same boat? Laid off? Check. In debt? Double check. Overweight? Yeah, okay that too.

What’s my a-ha supposed to be? I proclaimed. Now is the time! These are what a-ha’s are for! And I am especially primed because I have all these extra forces and obstacles against me which make the a-ha even better! Bankers are always getting laid off and then admitting their true calling of opening a donut shop and then they wax on and on about how it was the best thing that ever happened to them.

This was supposed to by my grand a-ha and I was already fucking it up because I didn’t know what the fuck to do with my a-ha. My mind was all over the place. And amidst this ranting and raving where Kirst was ranting and raving back at me with her own need for her own a-ha because she was still working at Beef-A-Roo, what I refer to as La Beef, her fast food burger joint job, while having her own dreams of fashion grandeur, we realized we were screaming our dreams at each other at the top of our lungs and asking each other if we were crazy, admitting, truly, yes we were and then saying we would run away, we would run away, dammit and go find our fucking a-ha’s!

And then we were laughing while we were screaming. Laughing so hard and yelling so hard that we were crying and writhing around on our chairs, because we couldn’t sit still with our dreams or our want for them or our pure idiocy in wrangling them to us. And the crying was not out of sadness, but crying out of unbridled hysteria that we truly were insane and we got each other’s needs for more. Something more that we couldn’t even yet name or find but knew deep in our souls we needed, enough to cry and scream over.

And then we calmed down. And our anxiety, at least for the moment, had run off with our laughter and tears. We didn’t yet have a complete plan, or a concrete idea of what to do with our newfound a-ha’s, but we knew something was looming and that if we didn’t at least acknowledge it, Kirst would continue unfulfilled work at La Beef while dreaming of the fashion forward of the East and West, while I continued to use running off with the circus to escape the bonds of the normal as my easy out for not going after my dreams with gusto.

So with very little money at hand and not much in the way of prospects, Kirst and I both are holding fast to our hope in the a-ha moment, in its beautiful certainty that change could be lurking right around the corner. If we accept that a-ha, yes, life could be different if we are just a little bit unafraid. Unafraid of being broke, being laid off, leaving town, getting uncomfortable, failure, success, dreaming too big, dreaming too small, or not recognizing an a-ha when it’s slapping you right across the face.

 

Independence Day, Literally

Musings

I have had a blissful two or was it three DC-free days—well that’s not entirely true as he was whispering at my subconscious the whole time, but not enough to take me down—but when I woke up today I could see the short reprieve was ending. Whether it was because my willpower had withered, or a day I was dreading was finally here, or the fact that I had just been experiencing high adventure with my mom and sisters was coming to an end and my adventure hangover was starting—as DC dubbed the bleak feeling that would come over me when one of my adventures was through—it was clear I hadn’t bested the post-break-up sadness like I had hoped I had.

All of a sudden I found myself missing DC as a whole and missing all his individual parts. A torrent of memories came down on me this morning, one after another and feeling semi-secure surrounded by my sisters in a hotel room, I let it all wash over me. I lay there in the dark room with ships on the walls and a white down comforter while I missed DC.

First I missed his arms. Then I missed being in them. Then I missed his chuckle. I missed his beard, of course. And his long eyelashes that I always envied. His forehead where I would kiss, especially if he wasn’t feeling so well. I missed his smell and I missed his voice. Which reminded me of the phrases I missed. They had been popping into my head for days, weeks, just random phrases in his voice.

DC loved to quote the TV show The Office as it was his favorite and for some reason this quote from the show that DC often re-quoted kept popping into my head.

“What you really want is more of a Savannah accent, which is more like molasses just sort of spilling out of your mouth.”

Except in DC’s voice, imitating Andy’s voice from The Office.

Molasses.
Molasses.
Molasses.

My mind would repeat in his voice until my heart begged me to stop. And then I would try and forget that I ever knew the word molasses. Molasses be gone.

The other day it was the phrase, “my Finnish princess.” This one wasn’t from The Office. This one was for me. I’d all but forgotten it had ever been uttered, but my traitorous brain dislodged it from my memory bank and kept re-playing it back to me. Every time he’d said this to me which had only been a handful, my body was flooded with giddy rushes of pleasure and for a few days after he’d said it I’d have to get it out of him once more, for the joy it brought me. So I would kindly remind him that I was his Finnish princess and he’d matter-of-factly nod and re-state it, “You are my Finnish princess.”

Finnish princess.
Finnish princess.
Finnish princess.

Again, the agony. The desire to stop the phrases from finding me. To forget those words. But how could I ever forget that I was once someone’s Finnish princess? Or even if I separated the words, I knew I could never forget Finnish because that is who I am, having been born with a love of my Scandinavian roots. I could sooner forget my name than I could forget my heritage.

With phrases and longing filling my brain I wore myself out and fell back asleep only to dream of DC. First I was with him and his family and then I was only with his sister, while she discussed with me that he was dating someone new. The dream ended with me and the someone knew in a gun-fight over DC.

I woke up feeling worse than before, but dismissed it. It was supposed to be one of my favorite holidays, so I tried to focus on that instead.

Red.
White.
Blue.

America.
America.
America.

It got me back to Marquette and then I found that all the red, white and blue, all the joy I had for being an American, for fireworks, couldn’t possibly wipe out the pain of missing someone I loved and shared a life with. I was trying to hold my chin up. I have been trying every moment of every day to do just that and mostly I am a smashing success. But today I felt the mixture of adventure hangover blues, a holiday minus DC, and heartbreak weren’t the best recipe for me.

And so I came home and cried for him. For his arms and his smell and his beard and his chuckle and his eyelashes and his kissable forehead and the way he said molasses and called me his Finnish princess. And a whole bunch of other things in between. And because I needed to know that this pain wouldn’t somehow destroy me. Wouldn’t destroy the Fourth of July. Wouldn’t destroy my ability to love again, I typed into Google: how to survive the sadness of a break-up and found this:

Incredible letter which made me feel comforted in the sincerest way you can find comfort from a complete stranger.

And then when I felt bad that I wasn’t writing about my adventure at Dark Sky Park, or learning to sail from a ship captain (yet) it was because writing to me is healing and sometimes it is all I can do to bear this visceral of all losses: to write my way back to myself.

Ernest Hemingway gets it. He said to “write hard and clear about what hurts.”

So I am writing hard and clear about what hurts. At least until it doesn’t hurt anymore.