My Manifesto

Musings

I want champagne and fancy breakfasts. You know the kind I mean, the kind that Eloise at the Plaza would eat. Steaming sausage and biscuits, chocolate croissants, and fresh fruit bowls, all of which I prepared myself, lovingly and languorously. And I know Eloise can’t have champagne. But I can.

I want to be able to don an apron and experimentally bake all day just because it brings me joy. Then I want to share that bakery with all sorts of people who love having sugary goodness in their mouths.

I want to adopt a dog and know that I can take care of it. I want to be able to take care of myself without anyone else’s help. And then one day I want someone to help take care of me, not because I am incompetent but because that person loves me and knows things like: when I am sick I am a colossal baby brat and want extra attention.

I want to be able to fill up my gas tank and drive to far off places and not worry about bouncing my checking account. I want to stop and visit with old men in barbershops and men who are fishing in streams and waitresses in diners. I want all of their wisdom. I want to bathe in it like I want to bathe in a clawfoot tub. I also want a clawfoot tub.

I want to own my own home with my name on the mortgage, no one else’s because I did it all by my independent self. I want to own goats and chickens and horses and perhaps a cow or two. I want to know in turn how to take care of those animals. I want those animals to roam about my yard and lean into me when I visit with them, like they would lean into the sunshine. Because I will love them so much.

I want to perhaps turn my home into a B&B, or at the very least a cozy and open space where friends, family and even polite acquaintances are always welcome. I want that place to be in Wyoming. I also want that place to have a big porch, or at the very least big trees where swings and tree forts can be happily built.

I want land where I can roam. Where my animals can roam. Where I can ride horses. Where I can have fences to mend. Where one day, God willing, my children can roam and pretend to be the Boxcar children, Laura Ingalls Wilder, or the Swiss Family Robinsons like I did as a child. My children will know who all of these people are. They will also know about Lewis and Clark and the importance of explorers. They will know about Annie Oakley and fierce-minded, strong willed ambitious women, they will know about God and that highest and purest of unconditional love, and a whole bunch more.

I want to have a writer’s room or a writer’s barn or a writer’s workshop or even a writer’s nook where I can write novels and have my babies snug tight to me in little papooses while they sleep. And when they are not sleeping and creating a racket, they can go play with the goats or their siblings or their dad.

I want to learn how to garden like my mom does. Meaning, pretty much like Martha Stewart does, because my mom’s gardens are exquisite. I also want to maybe one day like gardening. And if it turns out I don’t, I want my mom to live right next door and I will pay her to make my gardens look as nice as hers.

I want to do nice things for my community like help organize events, or throw old-fashioned soirees, because I love an old-fashioned soiree, or be someone that my neighbors know they could rely on, because I love to help people. I also happen to think this is the best reflection of Christ’s love and if anyone I meet ever thinks more lovingly of God because of me, I will consider my time here a massive success.

And if I can somehow do all of this, I think I will have made it. And if I can do only some of this, but I have tried really hard, I’ll still think I’ve made it. I only say all this, because I do want it all deeply and therefore I never tire of saying it. Of dreaming it. And perhaps, with saying it enough, dreaming it enough, I can inch my way into manifesting this reality. It’s possible of course. We are living in a world where Donald Trump may become president—though I shudder to think—so the possibilities truly are there.

So here’s to champagne this weekend. I can’t afford all the things I want: champagne, and impromptu road trips, and ingredients to bake a lemon blueberry cake, and a horse, but I have opted to purchase for myself a cheap bottle of champagne to accompany my I Love Lucy marathon and cucumber face mask I forgot I owned. And then perhaps I’ll go star gazing in my backyard and feel unnaturally lucky anyway.

 

 

I Believe It To Be Worth It

Musings

I do a lot of stupid stuff. Really I do.  I once bought $160 worth of vitamins per my nutritionist’s instruction and then proceeded to only ever take the vitamins when I thought I was getting sick. I recently just threw out about $155 worth of expired vitamins.

A few years back I was somehow convinced to become a Mary Kay consultant when all I wear is cheap mascara and all I wash my face with is bar soap. First I spent some $236 on the princess package of makeup and face care. Then I paid another $130 in startup kits, which then sat in my basement, for, well forever. My sisters got a lot of Mary Kay as gifts that year. I never once hosted a Mary Kay party and was therefore never gifted with a pink Cadillac.

I have cut my own bangs multiple times, and multiple times it has resulted in my looking like Ringo Starr, circa, well whenever he sort of looked like a prince boy.

I continually move to new places with anywhere from $3-$73 in my bank account and a bunch of board games, books, lanterns and ceramic whales and horses strewn about in my backseat.

And I always give my heart very freely, even if it has recently been crushed like a Valium that’s about to be snorted.

Which brings me to today. I am not bummed about my absence of a Pink Caddy, nor the look of my bangs which I just cut this morning and look A-okay, very non prince boy, and somewhat chic. I will admit I am a little bummed about the wasted vitamins as I have a slight tickle in my throat but I suppose I will survive.

But about the move and the breakup. Here is where I am at there:

Blissful.

Yeah I said it, blissful. I know, bliss, and anywhere in the vicinity of bliss were not my sentiments just a few short weeks ago. I was much like an unraveled piece of yarn being demolished by a rambunctious kitten.

But I tried this new thing I had never tried before. I threw up my hands in utter exasperation and said, “you take over, God!” I had said it a few times before, but as things seemed to continually throw me for a loop in a most disconcerting way, I figured I was still fixating on having all the control. I wanted all the control but with God being nice to me in the mix.

But it didn’t seem like it was going to work out that way. I am big on life lessons and if this was one of them, it was becoming abundantly clear to me that the lesson was one about trust. And I was battling a huge lack of it.

I finally decided to give it a whirl.

It’s not to say I hadn’t had practice trusting God before with the wild whims of my life. All I had ever done was new, bold, spontaneous things with God being my only safety net. And that is perhaps what led me to flippantly jet on back to the West with no real game plan. But when things started to go awry, I began to fret. I wondered if I had gotten too cocky with how many times God seemed to get me out of binds.

Maybe this time He was going to teach me to be a better planner and that’s why things were feeling so grim. In fact one of my favorite personal trainers during The Biggest Loser, once asked me my game plan, as the show was wrapping up and I was inching toward the wilds again. I beamed and said, “I am a vagabond gypsy…” waving my hands like that was explanation enough. He responded straight-face and deadpan, “that’s just a fancy name you gave yourself for being a poor planner.”

At the time I found it hysterical, but I began to wonder if indeed the time had come for some sort of reckoning with my gypsy soul?

Before I could decided if God actually wanted to teach me a lesson about being a better planner, I decided to let it all go. The lack of job, and money and boyfriend and wholeness of my heart, and now vitamin supply should I come down with a cold.

I prayed: hey God, I trust you. I do. So if this is a big fat failure lesson… got it. I will recover. If I don’t get a job at a dude ranch the second I want it, or am not hobnobbing with ranchers in the foreseeable future, I believe you will help get me there eventually, and you know what’s best for me. You timing is right on all things and I trust your will.”

That phrase: God’s timing is perfect, has always brought me both comfort and dismay. On one hand it has given me ample hope that He is working things out in my favor. On the other, more baby brat hand (which I have a tendency for from time to time) I get a little cheesed when things aren’t on my timetable.

But the whole God’s will thing was definitely something new to me. I had heard this phrase a ton of times before too, and always kind of took it with a grain of salt. I thought, well, I have free will, and God knows what I want so if I am going after it, He must support me, because He loves me. So we’re all good. 

I had never considered to do what I was doing in life, meaning try as I always had to manifest my goals and desires, but to also not be disappointed if those things didn’t manifest right away or in the way I expected. And I began to see that perhaps that’s where God’s will came into play.

So I gave this new experiment a whirl. I put myself out there with jobs, while maintaining hopefulness and gladness in my circumstances, attempting to let go of my worry. When a job interview that I had sort of counted on to lead to a job didn’t pan out right away, I let it go and said it wasn’t meant for me. Not God’s will. When a babysitting job landed in my lap right when I was about to run out of money, I thought, well, isn’t God’s timing perfect indeed. When I got my car tremendously stuck in a snowy ditch one day when I had an interview and began to panic as to what to do, some gent just came along, hooked my vehicle up to his truck and pulled me out. No questions asked. He saw I was in trouble and helped me. Meaning, God saw I was in trouble and sent him to help me.

And it went this way, back and forth in a beautiful ebb and flow of my trust and gladness in God and the way He was working on my life for me and not against me.

And this is when I started to see different lessons altogether.

Maybe God didn’t want to teach me a lesson about being a better planner, like some rigid school marm about to slap me in the corner with the dunce cap because I was a letdown. No, I suddenly didn’t think that was it at all. God made me! He didn’t mess up when He crafted me into a free spirit. I mean I don’t profess to know everything about God, but I suspect being the creator of the universe and all, he wouldn’t want to undo his handiwork. Unless it was about Ohio, because I mean Ohio… need I say more.

I’m teasing… Sorta.

No. I think this was a lesson on my willingness—in the midst of what felt like some serious strife—to trust that God had a handle on it.

And when I began to do that, which meant at the same time giving up my stronghold on worry, I began to feel lighter. I handled things not going my way with aplomb. And when I started to feel fretful, I asked God for Grace and He gave it to me.

And that brought me to yesterday. A day in which I felt downright jubilant with the circumstances swirling around me. Some pleasant things were happening in the way of jobs and epiphanies (and I cannot reveal too much as I am a firm believer in the jinx) and sunsets and Trader Joe’s and finding my way back.

You know what one of my favorite God quotes is: God will make a way when there seems to be no way.

And while there a lot of nice things to be said about God and His ways, sometimes words don’t cut it. Like this quote for instance which has always brought me great comfort:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11

Initially post breakup, this brought me no comfort. In fact it kind of irritated me. Hope and a future, my arse, I thought. I had hoped to have a future with the cowboy and that ended rather dismally.

All that aside, though, my little experiment had worked. Because what was interesting about yesterday wasn’t just circumstances aligning in my favor, a purple and orange mountain sunset and yummies from my favorite grocery store, it was the epiphany I had about the cowboy. And my future and my hope.

Suddenly I felt very sure of what God was doing in my life. I no longer suspected Him of foul play, or mucking up my life, or withholding love from me. Contrarily I felt entirely certain He knew what He was doing. And if steering me off-path from love, meant steering me back to the path that included mountains and ranching and horses and wildness and writing, then maybe He was onto something in the vicinity of love after all. Just a different kind.

I have never been secretive about how much I love and admire God. Or adventure. Or the mountains of the West. Or my writing. And yeah, I get those kind of loves can’t spoon me or kiss me real proper, but they do count. So if God redirecting my course meant some muck and resistance at first but ultimately led to my trusting Him—for real this time—and the haphazard course of my life, then I believe it to be worth it.

All of it.

I’m Not a Country Song

Musings

I have often wondered why my parents weren’t lighthouse keepers in Maine. Not because either of my parents have expressed an interest in being or becoming a lighthouse keeper. The fixation on lighthouses and Maine are in fact both preferences I lean to. But it’s simply that my family is an unusual and creative bunch who all seem to have other worldly inclinations. Almost all my siblings mirror my love of travel and adventure and hopeful possibility.

So it seems to me of all the places my parents could have settled, the logical fit would’ve been somewhere epic and worthy of an epic backdrop to accompany our family’s grandiose dreams. But my parents chose Fowlerville, MI: a flat, farming community with a population of less than 3,000. And I won’t bemoan Fowlerville here as that’s not my job and I wouldn’t want to for anyone who truly enjoys Fowlerville. However, I will say I have never related to this place much. Furthermore it has never really felt like my home. Or at least the home of my heart.

Yes, my physical home resides here and these four walls bring me joy because within them are every memory from my youth and my family. But if ever I felt I was coming home, that place has always been and always will be Marquette, MI, or really as soon as I cross the Mackinac Bridge into the Upper Peninsula. Sure it isn’t the place that raised me, but it is the place that I can feel in my veins when I’m away from it and when I am there I always feel I’m where I belong. I was explaining this to my friend Meg yesterday as I feel badly that I don’t have more of an attachment to the place I was raised.

“I don’t know why I can’t relate to this place. I think I am missing something in my DNA that makes me fond of the place that raised me. And it upsets me, because I want to. I just can’t. I mean all the country songs are always going on about the place that raised them and how proud they are. And I don’t have that.”

“Because you’re not a country song,” Meg pointed out matter-of-factly.

My eyes lit up like that explained everything. I am not a country song! Of course I’m not. That’s it. I thought it was beautiful and succinct. And it relieved me to have an explanation of sorts to help me understand my compulsion to leave this place once and for all and never look back. The thing is lately I have felt like a displaced person and it has been unsettling to a certain extent. I had been staying with my parents for awhile and then I was staying at my cousins for a spell. And then with the constant travel I do whether it be to Chicago, the Yoop, Florida, wherever I fancy or get invited to, my car became a sort of collect all for the in-between.

And that isn’t the part that bothers me at all. In fact it is specifically why I bought this SUV, for it’s roomy interior and ability to easily be converted into a sleeping space. It is that nowhere in particular feels like my home right now. I am growing up (begrudgingly I will admit) and finding a place of my own feels very important to me. I just am not sure where exactly that place is, yet I want to find it. I am simply very afraid.

My whole life, despite being a fanciful dreamer of the first order, I have had a plan. I planned to go to college. I planned on being a writer. I planned on moving to New York City. Check, check, check. Then the plan got a little topsy-turvy. I left New York and for the first time in my life felt adrift with the what next. Lucky for me my boyfriend at the time made it very easy for me by taking the problem out of my hands and asking me to move in with him. He lived on the East Coast and better yet he said he wanted to marry me.

That settled that. I was living in view of the Blue Ridge Mountains and a half hour (if we didn’t hit traffic, which of course was rare) drive into Washington D.C. I loved my new home, I loved my boyfriend and I loved the idea of what our life could be. Me, pursuing my writing, and then settling in closer to the mountains with my sir and starting a family. Except that plan didn’t work either. And the only plan I had after that was to keep my head above water. And in doing so, I found I had a whole lot left in me even if all my plans had crumbled like day-old coffee cake.

My favorite personal trainer, EJ, had asked me while I was still in training for The Biggest Loser, what my plan was then. And I responded that my plan was to be footloose and fancy-free. And his response was, “That’s just your fancy way of saying you’re a poor planner.” I have always found this very hysterical, because by my own admission, yeah I can be a pretty poor planner. But in other ways, I make the things I want to happen, happen. If I want something bad enough, I plan and I make it a reality. Seriously. How do you think I got on national television?

The Biggest Loser producers didn’t knock on my door and say, “Hey Cassandra, we heard you were chubby and lookin’ for a change. Would you like to join our ranks?” Nope. I showed up in Detroit at 5 a.m. for the casting call and fuckin dazzled them. And then I continued to put in the work for months until I made the show and then worked tirelessly for seven more months while on the show to lose 92 pounds. And then I worked my much smaller arse off to get to New York City.

The problem here and now is, sure I am going out West and sure that’s as natural a choice for me as my choosing to drink strong black coffee every morning. It’s that I don’t know what the plan is after that… Because I still want the things I have always wanted. To be a smash writing sensation and ya know eventually locate a man who thinks I’m a humorous delight and then wants to really lock it down and impregnate me five times and then once more for good measure.

And truly my real problem isn’t a lack of a plan or not knowing what the next move is after mountains meeting the sea. The problem always has been my incessant worry. Every single friend I have points this out to me. Meditate more. Quit stressing. Stop worrying. Why do you need to have a plan? These were all things that were said to me only yesterday by varying friends. All nice friends who care about my happiness and well-being.

I just can’t actually comprehend being a person who doesn’t fret over the future like an overprotective hen clucking over her chicks. What, just go West and hope for the best? Really what else can I do though? I am as prone to hope as I am to worry. So I may as well choose hope and try and strangle the worry, though she is an elusive and bothersome little gnat.

In this case, my main man God really says it best and I should just shut up and listen to him.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

What Tinder Taught Me

Musings

Tinder does not have the most pristine reputation. At least in my humble opinion and many of those that I have asked. It seems rather notorious for being a hook-up site. Hence why I had never had any desire whatsoever to go on it, as that is so far from being my style it might as well be khaki pants—insert deep body shudders here.

However, for the sake of argument, a friend of mine who was having seeming success on this site encouraged me to try and see before making a judgement call. I still wasn’t convinced so I talked to my sister. All voices of reason come from two sets of people: my sisters or my besties. If they give me the go-ahead, I will usually go ahead.

My sis said go ahead. Give it a whirl. And she pointed out, if it was ridiculous, I could always write about it. Brilliantly said, little Kia. So that is what I did. I tried Tinder for one week. Fine I made it four days, deleted it, but not before getting one date, tried it again for one more day and then promptly deleted it again. So five days.

For the sake of investigative journalism I definitely didn’t give it enough time, I will admit that. However, for the sake of my spirit, the run-ins with the skeevy and the mean-spirited, five days was more than enough for this girl. And more than enough to make up my mind that my guy is most definitely not on Tinder.

Here is what I found:

There are a handful of nice guys on there, to be fair. Sure I met one guy who is absolutely hilarious and likes bacon even more than I do. We still chat, and he feels like someone who could easily be my friend.

Then there was my date. Also a nice guy who was the first to ask to read my writing as my profile boldly stated: I am a writer who likes to pen painfully awkward tales, usually from my youth. He got major points for not only asking about my writing but then going ahead and reading it and being impressed by it. This earned him a date. His attempt to take me to Zingerman’s Delicatessen after driving an hour to meet me earned him a kiss. Why am I not dating this guy? Well to be fair, I could have easily went on a few more dates with him as I found him enjoyable, attractive and intelligent, however, despite him asking me on a second date, he did proceed to slowly stop texting me before one could ever commence. This is for the best though, as we were of far differing minds when it came to my main man, God and so it never would’ve worked anyway. Also I am moving to the West in two months. And lastly, I am so comfortable with what I bring to the table that any man who loses interest barely registers on my radar, as I am supremely glad to be me and whoever I end up with should be glad too, as he’s partnering up with a delightful weirdo who will be loyal to him for life.

Now besides these two fellas there was a smattering of other decently nice guys, but nothing that went far. But here is where I am sorry to introduce the bad guys.

Like the ones who thought starting a conversation with me by insulting me was a good idea. I had one guy make a snarky remark about my liking craft beer and how cliché that was. Pass. The hipsters don’t have a monopoly on good taste.

Then another who ripped into me for liking God. I also noted that I liked God a great deal in my profile. This guy went on a several sentence long rant (before I could delete him of course) saying I was a grown adult woman who believed in fairy tales, boogeymen and must be pretentious because what about Buddhism and Islam? Uhhhhhh. I shouldn’t have dignified his hideousness or his absolute nonsense with a response, but I couldn’t help myself and replied with, Whoa dude, I have barely finished my morning cup of coffee. No need for the attack. I believe in God. You are entitled to your beliefs as am I. Also how are you getting that I am anti-Buddhism or any other religion simply because I said I believe in God?

Even though I thought this was calm and sage considering I was already shaking, this only upset him further, to which he went on more ranting tirades, like the mere thought of someone believing in God was the most offensive thing he’d ever heard. Yowza. I honestly feel bad for this guy’s angry existence. And I know I should’ve taken the calm, christianly approach and said something cheeky like I’m sorry you feel that way; I will pray for you. Or even, God still loves you even though you’re a flaming asshole. But I chose the quickest exit strategy which simply was, see ya asshole and unmatched him immediately.

This isn’t even to speak of the men who had messaged me to clarify where I stood on the sex thing. Oy vey. My friend who insists Tinder isn’t a hook-up site defends these guys as non-perverts because they aren’t trapping girls into sex, contrarily they are being forthright in what they want. So I suppose in fairness and non-judgement, yes, these men are entitled to their sexcapades. It just isn’t something I am into or even love coming face to face with. It kind of makes me sad for humanity. I don’t see why I would ever have sex with someone casually without him then wanting to spoon me all night long, take me to brunch the next morning and then play a rousing game of Scrabble for good measure. One night stands don’t allow for that and that seriously bums me out, man. If you’re getting my body, you really better be all kinds of interested in my brain and my soul.

And I am not so doe-eyed that I believe the world doesn’t have people in it who are interested in straight sex or making people feel bad about God. Man, we have freaking ISIS about and they are scary and mean-spirited as shit. So I get it. But I like the world when it’s better than that and I also like being surrounded by people who want to be better than that. Yeah, most people want to be better than ISIS, duh. But the fact remains that in my daily life I feel surrounded by all sorts of beauty, kindness and love.

It was very 50/50 on Tinder. And I don’t want to willingly put myself in any place where people make me feel the polar opposite of goodness. My mom has this phrase for when my sisters and I would bemoan not finding a good man. And she’d ask where we were looking, (hinting that if we were looking in bars and not her constant suggestion of the hardware store then…) replying with, “well you’re not going to find strawberries in an onion patch.”

And my friends, I feel like Tinder is a giant onion patch.

I am looking for a guy who loves God a whole bunch, has a sense of humor in that he enjoys being a delightful weirdo as much as I do and likes the written word a great deal, because, well, that’s important to me. The rest can be dealt with in time, like my propensity to want to run to the mountains or the sea at any given moment or whether we have five babies or six. Actually, we’ll definitely have six as I like even numbers when it comes to children.

So what Tinder really taught me: I have everything I need in life right this very minute and I don’t feel one bit deprived if that doesn’t include a boyfriend.

I have God, hope for the West, really tasty sweet potatoes and chocolate, the best family a girl could dream of, Perrault children that melt my heart and hold their arms out to me when they see me, books, fine wine, craft beer, fancy coffee, Moon River on record, Hemingway, friends that like me and my wit, a world where the Northern Lights, Lake Superior and beards exist and a heartbeat. If this is what I have, well I have all I could need and then-some. So thanks God. And thank you Tinder. I couldn’t possibly have appreciated how good I have it, if you didn’t show me exactly what I am not looking for.

Welcome to My Boat

Musings

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.

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.

 

The Kind of Girl I Wish I Was

Musings

There is the kind of girl I wish I was and the kind of girl I actually am.

I wish I was the kind of girl who read The New Yorker. What I read is a lot of Martha Stewart Living. And Archie Comics. And Sedaris. I never pick up a newspaper unless the picture on the front is of a far off place, and doesn’t include guns. If I do pick up a newspaper, I immediately find the section with the far off places or the columnists who don’t write about politics. The rest of the paper I save to use as window cleaner as it smears less than paper towel.

I wish I was the kind of girl who liked NPR. I will not listen to a single bit of talk on the radio, including a commercial… even if I am in my driveway. I will still persistently channel surf until I find music. Any form of talk radio, or radio host having a conversation on air instantly brings to mind ways in which I would like to off myself rather than be listening to talking on a radio while trapped in a car. Talk radio of any kind, about terrorists, mayoral candidates or even dating makes me so panicked and agitated that I nearly break out in hives and then promptly inform/threaten the driver of the car that I may die from having to listen to speculations of ebola taking over the U.S. Or has it already? I wouldn’t know. I don’t read the news or listen to NPR.

I wish I was the kind of girl who liked Words with Friends. Except I actually don’t, as Words with Friends is Scrabble’s ugly step-sister and why would I play Words with Friends with you when I have about ten copies of Scrabble sitting here in my home waiting to be played accompanied by a cup of Joe and my notorious bad temper if I lose?

I wish I was the kind of girl who liked getting up super early in the morning to do productive things before work, i.e. make my lunch, eat breakfast, maybe work out, put on mascara, go and sip coffee near the lake, really be wild and crazy and not wear my hair in a bun… But every morning I hit snooze for anywhere from 25 minutes to an hour and then am shocked that I have to leave my bed. Then I spend an inordinately long time sitting and pouting that I have to be up before I’m ready. Once I finally realize I have all of ten minutes to get dressed, do my hair, mascara, eat breakfast, pack a lunch and get to work on time, I am a crazed lunatic trying to squeeze in time to put on my favorite rings and find extra bobby pins and throw a can of tuna—and wait a can opener—in my bag before running out the door, where I still waste more time hooking up my iPod for my seven minute drive to work so I can listen to my latest download on repeat to set my mood for the day. And then no matter what good intentions I had about being put together, having breakfast or lunch, or being on time, I still am somewhat disheveled, eat cough drops for breakfast, and am never on time while trying not to cringe or explain that I didn’t oversleep per se, I just can’t believe where the time goes in the morning.

I wish I was the kind of girl who gave non-bearded men a chance. Oh wait, no I don’t. If loving beards is wrong, then I don’t want to be right. *Fellas: Grow a beard. Buy a flannel. Oh and know your way around a forest or a power tool. I mean honestly, it’s not asking a lot.

I wish I was the kind of girl who knew a thing about how to do my makeup or my hair. I also wish I cared about either of these even one iota. Instead I am the kind of girl who finds the store Ulta to be more intimidating than a trip to the dentist. The likelihood of my paying $18 for anything that is going to be smeared onto my face to supposedly give me a sun-kissed glow is the same likelihood that I would pay $18 for a toothpick. It’s never going to happen.

I wish I was the kind of girl who didn’t eat dessert for breakfast. Who could go a day without fantasies of living in tree houses, riding the rails of Russia, or lumberjacks sweeping me off my feet by insisting I own a sled dog team. But I am just not that kind of girl, nor will I ever be. I won’t be the kind of girl who works out before work, or learns to do my makeup or even plans that well for breakfast but instead plans my Trans-Siberian Railroad getaway.

I guess there is just no use in trying to change what God so intricately put together: A somewhat disheveled, morning loathing, news avoiding, non NPR supporting dreamer and poor-planner with a beard fetish and a sweet tooth. Hey there are worse things to be right?  Like ISIS. See! I am not completely out of the loop.

What Could be Better?

Musings

Lately I have been having a lot of what could be betters? It’s funny, because I am in the throes of the biggest what could be worse—heartbreak that is—but, despite the agony of a disintegrating heart, I can’t help finding that things have been more than alright.

Like the smell of pine trees and pine needles dusting a forest floor. Oh mercy. What could be better? Besides the fact that the forest might be filled with some of the most intoxicating scents to ever fill my senses, it always reminds me of our family camp which happens to be my favorite place in all the land.

Then there are my freckles. Have I spoke before now about how fondly I gaze at my freckles? If I haven’t, I’ve been remiss. My freckles bring me no small measure of delight. I like them at all times of year, but in the summer when they crop up by the dozens on my face and arms and I can make constellations with them, well, what could be better?

What about Cat Power’s song, I Found a Reason. Gosh, I forgot about that song. It came on shuffle on my sister’s ipod one morning while I was cooking a particularly Gordon Ramsay-esque breakfast and I was stopped immediately. I had to find the time to sway. What could be better? To let my stinkin’ faulty smoke detector go off if it had to, but I had to get lost in that song, in that moment. I am not one to forget in the power of music, but sometimes, something deliciously unexpected catches me off guard, like this song, and why oh why do anything but honor it?

Or how ’bout the Northern sky? Have you ever seen anything like it? It fills the whole world I am living in with its vastness: its blues, its pinks and purples, whites and greys. And that’s not even speaking of the clouds. Oh the clouds—they touch every part of the horizon, seeming to touch land and sea and everywhere in between. I was on the beach today, sitting out on a rock island a small distance out from shore, having waded through Superior’s icy waters to get there, and for so many moments I couldn’t do anything else but gaze at the sky in wonder. I felt like I was on vacation at some fancy resort, but no, this was my backyard. What could ever be better than a Northern Sky?

Lake Superior perhaps? My favorite sea. Truly she is. I was informed today that Lake Superior is considered too large to even be considered a lake, so in fact, she is an inland sea. The Ojibwe called the lake gichigami, meaning “a great sea.” With my sea-loving heart, what could be better than 3-quadrillion gallons of water at my beck and call? In the morning as I pedal into work I see her. Or in the evening on my nightly walk, waves a-blowing to shore. What could be wrong in life with Superior out my window? Even her name has bragging rights.

What could be better than having four of my six sisters living in the same town as me? Two of which live in the same apartment as me, one who spends the night most nights anyway, while the other bikes over after work. How agog am I over having my sisters near me? Well, they fill my soul with equal parts joy, comfort, hilarity and fulfillment that it can’t help but heave happy sighs of contentment.

And then, then. There is my main man. My one and only. God. What could ever be better? He is the biggest what could be better and the best of course, hence why I saved Him for last. I wouldn’t have any of my what could be betters without Him. I wouldn’t have Cat Power or extra tall pines or waves or pink skies or freckles or six sisters. So with gratitude for things of beauty and delight saturating my heart that needs it, I again say, what could be better than God? From whom all blessings flow.

So, sure, the breakup is the worst what could be worse (at least as far as my heart can tell). But if I didn’t have God, I wouldn’t be having all these what could be betters to get me through. And for that I am a very lucky girl. Very lucky indeed.