Season Five, Episode Three: 32/26/49

I will never forget

One of the most terrifying moments

In my life thus far

 

The night is forever etched in my mind

I was seventeen

I still believed I was invincible

Because when you’re that young,

You’re convinced that you will live forever

 

I was at work

We were getting ready to close up

I was in the dining room of the Burger King

Checking the garbage cans

 

And there were two of them

Two males

One in a gray hoodie, his face covered with something

I think maybe nylons, I can’t remember exactly

The other is a blur in my memory

 

They opened the door

And stepped into the vestibule

I remember seeing a glint of silver

And time both slowed down and sped up

I remember thinking “gun”

How crazy is it that I just knew

Instinctively I just knew

 

And the door flew open

Everything froze but raced forward

I wish I could say that I was brave in that moment

I wasn’t

I was so so scared

 

The one in the hoodie, whose face I couldn’t see

He pointed his gun in my face

I remember that I was shaking

And all I said was “please”

Because I was seventeen

And I didn’t want to die

 

He stood there, his face unseen

The gun pointed at me

My life did not flash before my eyes like they all said it would

Instead my heart raced in my chest

My pulse thudding in my ears

My thoughts moving slow like mud

Thinking of my mother and brother sitting across the room

In danger because they had come to take me home

 

The other jumped the counter

Ran in the back, grabbed my manager

She was crying, she was so scared

He made her open the register

Her hands shaking

Tears streaming down her face, gun pressed to her head

 

Sixty-five dollars

Our lives were in limbo over sixty-five dollars

 

Miraculously they left after that

We could have died that night

All over sixty-five fucking dollars

So many lives worth more than what was in that register

 

I’ll never forget that night as long as I live

The night I realized I was not invincible

And that is why,

All of you people who don’t understand why

Because you weren’t there

All my nightmares end with bullets

 

I don’t dream of that night

But all my nightmares end the same

Guns are not sacred or special to me

They are heavy reminders of the violence they bring

They sicken me

All of these shootings sicken me

And solidify why I could never revere firearms the way some others do

And that is why, in case you wondered

That is why I want gun control

 

You might not understand,

But I will never forget.

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Season Four, Episode Two: Memory Lane

My high school reunion is on Friday.  Like…this Friday.  I still can’t believe I’ve been out of high school for ten years–it’s mind boggling.  I certainly don’t feel like it’s been ten years.

Well…that’s a lie.  High school feels like a lifetime and a half ago.

I’m sure that everyone feels that way when they are in their late twenties.  My glory days weren’t in high school–I’m not really sure what their start date actually will be, but I am trying to make the steps to ensure that they do happen.  I feel sorry for the people who shone brilliantly in high school, like a comet that streaked through the sky, only to have never reached that level of brilliance ever again after senior year.

I was not that person.

(I was the girl who had a kid at 19, the girl who grew up infinitely faster than all my friends who beer ponged and keg standed the rest of their teenage years away.  I have no regrets though, and even if I did, those days have long since passed.  I’m probably much more awesome now than I was as a snarky, bitchy, witty teenager.)

I graduated in 2004.

2004.

Jude Law was named Sexiest Man Alive by People, Britney Spears wasn’t crazy yet, my jeans were low rise and were slightly flared instead of skinny.  We were all watching the last season of Friends and everyone was shakin’ it like a Polaroid picture to “Hey Ya!” by Outkast.  I attended Saint Joseph Academy, the only all-girl Catholic high school in the city.  I spent my days in green and blue plaid skirts and white polos.  It was a simpler time.  Only a few of my friends had cell phones, and they were clunky and awkward looking compared to today’s smartphones–I remember they were only allowed to use them during the day for emergencies(eww minutes!), and we could call if we wanted after 7 pm, when it was unlimited free talk.  No one texted at the level we do now.  If you wanted to listen to music you used a Sony DiscMan, not an iPod.  Those weren’t around yet!

I can’t believe I was 18 ten years ago.

I mean, I still pretty much look the same, but...man.  Ten years!

I mean, I still pretty much look the same, but…man. Ten years!

I suppose high school reunions aren’t the same for my generation like they were for my mom and dad.  Thanks to Facebook we can creep our fellow former classmates on the daily.  We see posts of the stuff they have accomplished, pictures of their kids, updates about their lives–we don’t have to wait ten years to find out the dirt on everyone.

It should still be fun though :).

Season Four, Episode One: Learning to Love That Bass

I am in love with the Meghan Trainor song, “All About That Bass”.  It’s so catchy.

Yeah, it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size two
But I can shake it, shake it
Like I’m supposed to do
‘Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase
And all the right junk in all the right places

I’m 5’1″, 137-140 pounds, and I am definitely all about the bass.  I have an hourglass shape, with curves for days–I wish that being a 34DD with a big butt had been on trend when I was a teenager.  I don’t think I actually accepted myself for the awesome and sexy person I am until the past few months or so.  And I find that incredibly sad.  I’ve averaged a size 8 in pants since I was twelve, surrounded by girls who were stick thin and were proud of their size 0/00 status…I felt fat for years and unattractive and just disgusting.

It’s probably no surprise then, that I developed an eating disorder when I was in seventh grade.

I remember feeling like I went to bed a 14/16 in the girls’ section of the clothing department, flat chested and shapeless, and waking up this curvaceous woman with boobs and hips and thighs and a butt.  Ohmigod, a butt.  I am multiracial, a beautiful combination of Cherokee-American, Creole, German, Irish, and Italian–but it seemed that I was the curviest white girl I had ever seen.  I’m sure I was exaggerating in the dramatic way that teenagers often do, but I was ashamed of my body and all the unwanted attention that came with it.  I retreated in baggy boys’ jeans and way-too-big tee shirts and loose sweatpants.  I walked with my shoulders hunched over so that no one would focus on my chest.  I hated walking down the street and being honked at by men my mother’s age.  I felt like a piece of meat, and all I wanted was to make all that attention and ugly feelings I had inside go away.

So I stopped eating, here and there.  I’d skip breakfast, maybe lunch.  I ate dinner and would break down after a few days of self-imposed semi-starvation and endless, stupid bouts of exercise–I’d eat until my stomach hurt.  I would feel disgusted with myself immediately after, but I could never make myself vomit.  I tried many times, sticking my finger down my throat, trying a toothbrush because I’d heard the bristles would make you gag…I was vain, I suppose, and didn’t want the acid from my stomach to erode my teeth and I didn’t want broken blood vessels in my eyes from the pressure of throwing up.  I liked the power that came with telling myself I wasn’t hungry, even though my stomach was rumbling and my blood sugar was so low that I would shake until I downed sugary sodas or wolfed down a candy bar.  It was a vicious cycle.

I was careful, though.  My mom would get suspicious of my eating habits, so I remained around 128-130 for most of my teenage years.  When I got pregnant with my son when I was 18, I was terrified of getting fat.  I barely ate, I was constantly sick (to this day I wonder if my nine month bout with severe morning sickness was mostly in my head)…I only gained 16 pounds, and weighed five pounds less than what I weighed pre-pregnancy the day after I had my son.  I hovered at my size 8 status, but things were good, with the exception of a brief stint of not eating for two weeks when I broke up with his father.  I was eating, I was happy, and life was pretty good.  I abused diet pills here and there, but nothing that would really call for concerned attention.

At my last job, I gained a lot of weight.  I was a receptionist, and I sat for hours upon hours a day, six days a week.  I hated my job, and drowned my sorrows and frustrations in milkshakes and junk food.  I wound up gaining roughly forty pounds over four years.  I had ballooned to 165 pounds by February 2012.  I remember hearing that number and all of the old thoughts and feeling came rushing back like a runaway freight train.  I was living with my parents still at that time, and we had no scale at our house because my mom knew I had eating issues, and she said a scale would encourage unhealthy behavior.  My boyfriend at the time was overweight, and he suggested that we try losing weight together–I bought a scale, and kept it in my room.  Naturally the act of weighing myself became an obsessive act that I went through several times a day, and pretty soon it was a rush to see the numbers go down.  I was disgusted with myself, especially when my size 12/13 pants wouldn’t go up over my thighs.  I remember bursting into tears in my boyfriend’s hotel room.

I stopped eating, slowly at first–eating disorders creep up on you like falling asleep, slowly at first and then all at once.  It’s crazy how much food and hunger occupied my thoughts.  Once the casino opened, it was easy to drop the weight.  I worked the graveyard shift, so I slept all day and barely ate when I was awake.  Fifteen pounds melted away in the span of mid-May to the end of June.  People began commenting on how great I looked, which was like crack.  I loved hearing how skinny I was getting, so I cut back on food even more.  I lived on a steady diet of Mountain Dew, Red Bull, and carefully rationed out junk food.  I got back into the habit of lying to everyone around me, and the scale showed that I was losing an average of a pound to three pounds a week.  For the first time in my life, I was an actual anorexic.  I had finally fallen over the thin line I’d walked since 1997.  The scariest thing wasn’t the actual act of starving myself, rather it was how incredibly easy it had been to starve myself.

I have always said that it takes a strong mind to have an eating disorder.  It takes a lot of self-control to deny yourself the basic need of food.  I remember being able to tell myself to shut the fuck up because I wasn’t hungry, and if I ate, I might lose my boyfriend–he had made a comment, probably innocuous, about how he had only dated like one or two other curvy girls in his life, and that he usually dated slender, athletic women.  I was secretly and quietly threatened by his ex-wife–he had shown me pictures of her from their wedding and honeymoon, and she was this thin, fit, pretty monster that terrified me.  I knew deep down that he wasn’t over her, and I didn’t want him to leave me for her (even though he did eventually).  I think that was a huge factor that kept me from breaking down and eating everything in sight–and the thought of him not being attracted to me because I was fat made it that much easier to starve myself.  The smell of food made me nauseous, the thought of eating made me panic.  It felt so good to be hungry, to be lightheaded.  It was sick, twisted, and disgusting, but God did it feel good.

I remember one night at work the air conditioning went out.  It was mid-July, and in Cleveland, summers are humid and unforgiving.  The casino was packed with bodies, and I hadn’t eaten in three days.  I’d felt weird, almost tingly, when I had clocked out my previous shift and I had ignored it, even when my legs felt like jelly when I woke up that night.  I had been on the roulette table when I got extremely light headed and my legs went to spaghetti and I almost collapsed twice on the live game.  I had to be tapped out and went down to the break room, where I drank Gatorade and blamed the entire thing on the heat.  I was really good at being in denial.

By the end of September, I was nearly down thirty pounds and lied my ass off to everyone around me.  2013 proved a bad year for me, and I fell even deeper into my vicious cycle.  I lived on my own and no longer had my mother’s watchful eye over me, making sure I didn’t get too skinny.  The combination of losing my boyfriend and the anxiety of work and living alone was a terrible one, causing me to drop to 120 pounds.  All I did was lie about my weight loss and brag about how thin I was.  I was in denial about my terrible migraines and the fact that I was constantly freezing cold and how my brain seemed to be wrapped in a thick fog.  My thoughts were slower and my heart pounded like a tribal drum instead of a normal heartbeat.  You could see my ribs and faintly my sternum.  My collarbone protruded, and I thought I looked great.  I was skinny, and I was miserable, but I was skinny, goddamn it.  If I couldn’t have control over anything else in my life, I sure as hell would have control over my weight.

I’m not really sure what made me take a step back and look at how fucked up I was.  I would like to say my son, but I would be lying.  I’m not really sure what was the deciding factor was–I remember looking at a picture of myself from my 28th birthday and thinking I looked like a bobblehead doll.  My best friend ran her first marathon.  My dad was diagnosed with stage IV cancer.  I think perhaps it was all of those things.  I wanted to be happy, I wanted to stop being so miserable, to stop thinking about food and about all the pain I carried around inside of me.

I started eating again.  I started going to the gym, and I started running and doing strength training.  I remember looking in the mirror one day and thinking Oh my god, I have muscles.  I’ve never had muscles before, and I look great.  I embraced my butt, my hips, my thighs.  Without them, I wouldn’t be able to run, or fill out a pair of jeans or leggings.  I like what I see in the mirror.  I still panic at the 137-140 that I see on the scale at the gym.  I probably always will.  I still have the tendency to skip meals and lie about if I’ve eaten or not, but I’m improving.  I’ll never be a size 2, and I think I’m okay with that.  For the first time in my life, I’m okay with how I look for the most part.

And that’s why I love that song.  It’s the song that I should have heard as a teenage girl.  Maybe if I had known that I was beautiful no matter what dress size I was, maybe I wouldn’t have fallen so far down the rabbit hole.  I’m thankful that with the rise of multiracial children in our country, the notion of beauty has changed.  Curves are celebrated and even envied.  A big butt is coveted.  It’s perfectly fine to be bigger than a size 4.  It’s fine to be all about the bass, even the treble.  You can be thin or curvy, just as long as you are happy and healthy.  Girls, you are beautiful.  Stop fat shaming each other.  Stop skinny shaming.  Embrace the fact that we are all different, and that we shouldn’t want to look like Barbie or a stick thin skeleton.  Healthiness is all that should matter–fuck what society says is acceptable.

I know you think you’re fat
But I’m here to tell ya
Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top

Yeah my mama she told me don’t worry about your size
She says, “Boys like a little more booty to hold at night.”
You know I won’t be no stick figure silicone Barbie doll
So if that’s what you’re into then go ahead and move along

Because you know I’m
All about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass

Season Three, Episode Five: The Single Chick Bucket List

So I got dumped.  And fell into a depressive rut.

It’s kind of weird and liberating to see that typed out.  Kind of painful too.  But anyway, I was dumped by someone who I thought loved me and it made me fall right on my face…and then I decided that I would much rather wallow with my face stuck in the rug of despair than to get up and face the world like the cruel bitch that she totally is.  I spent all my time outside of work sleeping to avoid the sharp ache in my chest and lost weight grieving for the relationship that was no more.  I was a sad and emotionally lost mess of a person for a while.

I was a sad, depressive mess.  I wasn't even witty or funny like I usually am.

I was a sad, depressive mess. I wasn’t even witty or funny like I usually am.

Time heals wounds slowly, and even though I’m still kind of sad and still really hurt, life goes on.  I have some amazing friends, and they helped me tremendously.  I figure I am one awesome, badass chick and if my ex-boyfriend couldn’t see that and had to go back to his ex, then…that’s his loss.  I’m still beautiful and smart and funny.  It still sucks for me, though.  I’m trying to keep my head above water, and I am getting there, one day at a time.  It’s even harder because I have to see him every day, but when life throws you lemons you mix those bitches with vodka and simple syrup and make grownup lemonade.  And then proceed to drink a lot of it.

Screw you, shitty life lemons.

Screw you, shitty life lemons.

But anyway, I was inspired one night while on the dice table (the most random shit comes to me while I’m dealing) to make a list of shit that I can do now that I am single.  Sure, I could have done it while I was in a relationship, but it wouldn’t help me heal and feel better about myself–nay, it would have just become more memories for me to cry over at 5 am.  So I have jotted down little things in a numbered list (I don’t usually make lists, but when I do, they are either bulleted or numbered) in the Notes app on my handy dandy iPhone.  I plan to knock these babies out as an awesomely single lady and make some amazing memories sans dude that I can look back on when I’m an old lady with no regrets.

Get it, girls.

Get it, girls.

I call it…The Single Chick Bucket List.  I plan to blog about each one as I go, and hopefully I can add to the list as I go and cross off as many things as I can.

1.  Go to NYC alone.

I went to New York in 2012 with my ex, and I would really like to create some new memories of my own.  Plus, I had always dreamed of moving there after high school, but life kind of got in the way.  I would like to spend a few days there alone just to indulge in my Girls-meets-Sex and the City fantasy.

2.  Learn to drive and then get my license.

Little factoid about me:  I don’t know how to drive.  My parents sold their car before I started Kindergarten and they never bought a new one.  I’m a boss at public transportation, but I have only driven a car two or three times, and I was kind of horrible at it.

3.  Have a random hookup/one night stand.

This one makes me nervous.  I keep reading that one night stands are the best way to get your mind off a breakup, and that girls should be able to have meaningless and empty sex just like guys can without feeling guilty.  This one is a huge step out of my comfort zone, but I missed out on dorm life and parties and I hear that these things went down like whatever in college.  And my ex is obviously having sex, so why shouldn’t I?

4.  Be moderately successful or even slightly successful at this online dating stuff.

Ugh, yes I am attempting this shit again.  If other people can have success with this crap, I should too.  I still feel like it’s for life losers, so even if I have just a decent or funny story to come out of Match.com I feel like it won’t be a complete waste of time.

5.  Take sexy photos at a professional photography studio.

So since February 2012, I lost roughly around 40 pounds.  I went from 162 to about 124.  I am at my post baby weight circa 2005.  I have always wanted to go get those sexy little pinup boudoir shots done, but I always felt chunky and not sexy enough naked to be immortalized on film.  I still catch myself stopping and staring at myself in the mirror when I get dressed because I can’t believe how amazing I look now that I lost all that weight.  I feel like now I can get those pictures done and feel proud of myself.

6.  Get my passport.

I have always had wanderlust, and I want to do something about it.  I want to travel the world and see all kinds of wonderful things.  I plan on getting my son his passport too in a few years and we can travel together.

7.  Write a novel.

I always start, but I never finish.

8.  Record a song in a studio.

I’m a phenomenal singer and I never did anything with it.  I would love to record an EP just to have so I can say that I sang in an actual recording studio.

9.  Go to Alaska/London/Ireland.

I would love to do all three, but I will definitely settle for Alaska.

10.  Learn French or Italian.

I want to feel worldly.  Spanish doesn’t make me feel worldly…it makes me feel like I had to learn it to graduate from high school.

11.  Go back to college.

I want to get my bachelor’s, even if it takes longer than four years.

12.  Be brave.

I’m non-confrontational, and I don’t like to stir up drama.  I need to learn to find my voice and use it more often.

13.  Learn how to finally play the guitar.

I have owned a guitar for years and never figured out how to play it.  I want to sign up for lessons and be able to be that angsty-yet-cute musician girl at the coffee shop by my house.

14.  Run a 5K.

I hate running.  I’m clumsy and uncoordinated and I feel like I should attempt to run a 5K just so I can say that I can.  Plus maybe I might turn out to get better at it and actually enjoy it.

So that is the list for now.  I’m sure I will add to it, and hopefully I will achieve success to most of the things I have typed out.  I feel like this is a great confidence booster for me and will help me to discover more of myself as a person.  And maybe someone who went through a terrible breakup or some other horrible life experience will read this post or one of the others where I accomplish these things and be inspired to do something great too.

That would be wonderful.

Season Three, Episode Four: Queen Bees, Mean Girls, and AM Minds in an FM World

Before you read any further, I suggest you click the video below.  It will set the tone of this post…plus I really like this song right now and I wanted to share it.

Okay.

As some of you may know, I am 28.  I graduated from high school in 2004.  For those of you who aren’t mathematical geniuses, that was roughly ten years ago.  Recently it seems like I just woke up one day and stepped out of bed and into the plot of my very own teenage drama on The WB (Does anyone remember The WB?  It was the big sister of The CW…pretty much the same audience, but it was in the late ’90s and had less supernatural elements and more teenage angst.), complete with heartache and confusion and angst.  Stupid angst.

So much teenage angst.

So much teenage angst.  Michigan J. was a frog full of drama.

I suddenly care about what people think about me and if I am invited out places and if people like me.  I haven’t done that in ages.  It’s like I went back in time to 2000 and suddenly I’m 14/15 again and doubting every single thing that I do or say.  I feel awkward and like I don’t fit in.  I’m starting to question who I’m friends with and if they are really my friends or if we are just friends based on convenience.  I worry if people genuinely like me or if I’m just that girl who they invite to certain things because they feel like they have to.  I am constantly hyper aware of everything I do and say and think.  It’s honestly like I am back at St. Joe’s and it’s my freshman year and I want everyone to like me.  I feel like I should be wearing a bunch of black eyeliner, straighten my hair, and pout a lot, a la Avril Lavigne circa “Complicated”/2002.

She looks so misunderstood...but that eyeliner is flawlessly 2002.

She looks so misunderstood…but that eyeliner is flawless.

I want no part of it.

High school wasn’t particularly terrible, but I struggled a lot with myself on the inside, as all of us did.  I felt like I didn’t fit in, but I think I did a pretty good job of pretending like I did.  I was skilled at smiling when acceptable, laughing when necessary, and saying the right thing so that people liked me.  I had plenty of friends and was well-adjusted and liked.  You would have never guessed that I felt alone a lot of the time and that my thoughts weren’t on the same frequency as everyone else–that I had an AM mind in a FM world.  I felt like I thought about stuff that the average teenager didn’t think about and struggled with things that a lot of the girls at my exclusive, all-girl Catholic high school didn’t deal with–I had a lot of anxiety and stress.  My dad was still drinking very heavily and gambling heavily and was rapidly becoming more and more physically, emotionally, and verbally abusive by the day.  We were also getting poorer by the day–my entire freshman year we didn’t have a home phone and we used the pay phone on the corner to make phone calls (I did a really good job of making light of the situation and cracking jokes about it to try to hide my embarrassment).  We didn’t drive.  I struggled with an eating disorder all four years of high school.  I had to keep everything that was going on at home inside.  All of that made me feel like I was older than my peers in a way, that I was more mature than most of them were at our age.  I felt like an old woman at times…but I was good at pretending.  I cracked jokes and was loud and funny to try to hide the fact that I had incredibly thin skin and was constantly afraid that no one liked me or wanted to be my friend.  I worried all the time that there was something wrong with me because I wasn’t preoccupied with makeup or boys or clothes or the latest trends as much as my friends were.

I had my son at 19 and that made me grow up even more.  I didn’t go away to college, so I didn’t have the four years of drunken debauchery that most of my peers did.  Because of my dad (who has been sober for nearly 8 years), drinking never really appealed to me anyway, and even though I am outgoing, large parties fill me with a kind of social anxiety that I have never understood.  The older I got, the more I figured that none of that mattered once you were an adult because you were an adult and left all that childishness behind.

But I have realized that it is actually the opposite.  You never leave high school behind because that is where we found ourselves and started to carve out our identities.  I read something where it was speculated that we physically grow up, but mentally we are forever intrinsically who we were back in high school.  Adults still have cliques and gossip and show off around certain people.  The mean girls never leave the cattiness and bitchiness behind.  They still have to be the center of attention and brag about how “bad” they are.  The claws still come out, they still try to intimidate others and make them doubt themselves.  The nerds are still as awkward as they were as teenagers.  People like me still feel like they don’t fit in with the world and that perhaps they aren’t supposed to fit in.  I have always found it strange that I can be surrounded by groups of people and still feel alone.  I’m extroverted but painfully introverted at the same time.  My skin is still ridiculously thin.  I still struggle with an eating disorder.  We all suffer from self-doubt and self-esteem issues and a lack of self-confidence and crushing self-consciousness.  We all have a desperate desire to fit in and be accepted by our peers.  We like to pretend that it went away after we graduated from high school and became adults because we don’t want to admit that most of us are just physically older versions of our teenage selves, because if we did, does that mean that we never really grew up?  That opens a whole can of existential worms.  If we never really grew up, does that mean that our parents never really grew up?  That they feel the same way we do about life?  That they are just physically older versions of their teenage selves who have just gotten really good at hiding their insecurities and fuck ups?  Do they worry about the same things we do on a daily basis?

We all miss high school on some level because even though there were cliques and drama and endless teenage bullshit, deep down…we were all equals.  We were all kids trying to find ourselves and find our places in the world.  And in all honesty…we are still all just kids trying to find ourselves and find our places in the world.  And even though going to the bar on my off days and getting drunk doesn’t appeal to me, I just want to know that my friends thought about me enough to want to include me in their plans.  I don’t want to feel like I’m an afterthought and that I’m the odd one out.  I don’t like feeling like I’m not included because no one wants me to be.  I don’t like this do they/don’t they internal struggle.  I’m tired of feeling 16 when I just turned 28.

That’s quite enough, Dawson.  Can we change the channel?

“Your clothes are soaked and you don’t know where to go / So drop your chin and take yourself back home / And roll out your maps and papers / Find out your hiding places again…”–Lorde, “The Love Club”

Season Three, Episode Three: That Goddamn Metaphorical Horse

So I’m going to take a moment to state the obvious.

Why thank you, Captain.

Why thank you, Captain.

Breaking up sucks.  A lot.

I mean…there’s a lot of shit that happens in a relationship that is pretty wonderful.  You become best friends with your partner.  You guys have cute moments together.  You can do stupid stuff around them and know that they don’t find you weird because they think you are pretty.  And hey, that’s nice.  There’s a certain amount of comfort in a relationship.  You know their quirks and even though you think it’s weird that they turn the water off when they brush their teeth and that they like to wear Crocs with socks, you don’t judge them because they could easily judge you pretty hardcore for snorting when you laugh really hard and that squirrels freak you out more than the average person.  You don’t feel the need to wear pants or mascara when you are with them.  You’re comfortable.  And that’s nice.

It’s nice.

But then you break up, and…it’s not nice.  It’s pretty fucking horrendous.  You go from loving that person and wanting to spend every moment with them to hating their guts and hoping they fall off a cliff, Mayan sacrifice style.  One person generally doesn’t really care about the way things ended, and the other person finds themselves underneath a desk, crying and drinking from a bottle of merlot.

crying under desk

And then comes the whole grieving and healing process, which inevitably leads to the moving on part.  One of you typically moves on faster than the other, spurring the other one (who hates relationships and love and dating in general at the moment because their heart has been ripped out and soaked in cheap wine) to jump on the metaphorical horse.

Fuck.  That.  Horse.

I don’t particularly like horses anyway.  I rode one once at Girl Scout camp, and I was not a fan of the experience.  They are okay if I don’t have to climb up on one and ride it.  But anyway…jumping on the metaphorical horse.  It sucks.  That person feels like they have to half ass their attempt just enough so that people don’t think that they are crazy and just enough to convince themselves that they aren’t going to grow old alone and die without anyone finding their body for weeks.  So you kind of dip your foot in the shallow end of the kiddie pool.  Kind of like how I wanted said horse to be a Shetland pony and was promptly told that no, the metaphorical horse of dating is a noble steed.  (I can’t exactly jump up on a noble steed seeing as I’m only 5’1″.  Maybe I can climb up if someone puts a step stool next to it.)  You do what you have to do to shut people up.  And hey, maybe you make it just weird enough so that they will quit bugging you to start dating.

Because you aren’t ready and you want to stay under that desk and cry a little bit longer, damn it.

So I tried, just to shut everyone up.  I started actually doing my makeup when I went to work and smiled, because nothing makes you look like you are back on the market like eyeliner and a smile.  Jesus.  I tilted my head and laughed at the appropriate moments in conversations with attractive men.  But I’m not particularly feeling it.  So I have my moments of angst circa 1997 Dawson’s Creek and pout and feel sad because damn it, I’m sad.  I’m allowed to be sad.  But society wants me to get over it and there are more fish in the sea and you’re gonna make it after all because that’s life.  I made an eHarmony profile.  I feel embarrassed.  Maybe there isn’t a social stigma attached to online dating, but I still feel like it’s for the weird lame people who can’t carry on a face to face conversation with a person.

I hate it.  I suck at dating to begin with, I hate the whole process and feel incredibly awkward–I would much rather just bypass that shit and go right to being in a relationship, but it doesn’t work that way.  I discovered that I am too shallow for online dating.  I want a man with a pretty face.  I met a guy and it seemed okay, we talked on the site’s messenger thing, but he suddenly stopped talking and I am past that point in my life where I am going to try to pursue a guy who will not initiate conversation.  I’m 28.  I’m too old for that shit.  So I brushed it off and had a moment of oh my god I’m going to die alone and the mailman will find my body.  I went out for my birthday.  Seized the night and all that glamorous glitter.  I posted a picture of myself from my soiree on eHarmony just because I wanted to see if there are any hot guys on there, and the non-initiater of conversations looked at my picture (because their news feed is kind of on the creepy stalker side and shows you whenever they go to your page).  I don’t blame him.  I looked good.  Much like Ron Burgundy in a suit.

I was rocking that dress :)

I was rocking that dress 🙂

So I was like well okay, maybe I’ll give this guy another go.  We started chatting it up again and exchanged numbers and started texting.  It was all good for a few days until he did the same thing as before.  I refuse to chase another man.  Nope.  So I have decided that I am going to be single and wallow until I’m damn good and ready.  Screw you society and your norms.  I will eat Reese’s cups and read Girls in White Dresses over and over until I’ve had enough of witty chick lit and peanut butter paired with milk chocolate.  Judge away.  I don’t care.

And as for that stupid horse?  I think I’ll walk.

Season Two, Episode Five: Of Quarterlife Crises and New Starts

I turned 27 this past December.  At the end of the year, I will be 28.

And in 2015, I will be 30.

I know it sounds stupid, but the thought of turning 30 never really was one that I entertained myself with.  I was always busy with the hopes and dreams that I had in my teens and early twenties, always thinking of where I would be by 30.  It seemed like a magical age that I’d reach in what seemed like decades–at 17, 30 seemed like light years away.  I had so many things that I wanted to do and see “when I grew up”…I’ll share a few with you:

*Graduate from college

*Have a fabulous career where I make lots of money and am happy

*Become a singer on the side and become famous

*Fall in love with someone who loves me for me

*Get married and stay married

*Have kids

*Travel the world

*Move to NYC and live a wonderfully trendy and fabulous life that everyone back in Cleveland would be envious of

*Write a novel and get it published and have it sell very successfully…and hopefully write a few more that have the same success

*Buy a beautiful house to live in with my husband and kids

*Be happy and content

High school Me, the end of sophomore year, 2002.

High school Me, the end of sophomore year, 2002.

I guess I’ve attained a few of those things, but for the most part I have not.  I’m not married.  I don’t live in NYC.  I rent a house with my beautiful and funny son.  I’ve traveled to a few places, but certainly not the world–more or less the eastern half of the United States and a bit of Canada.  I have never finished a single story I have written, so I very well haven’t had a novel published.  I haven’t even finished my freshman year of college…or become a famous singer.  I suppose I have a lot of time to achieve these goals and dreams, but all this dreaming of the future all these years reminds me of a quote from one of my favorite novels, Looking for Alaska:

“Jesus, I’m not going to be one of those people who sits around talking about what they’re gonna do.  I’m just going to do it.  Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia…You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you’ll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it.  You just use the future to escape the present.”

Alaska was so right.  You spend all of your teenage years dreaming about what you’re going to do after high school, and then you spend your college years thinking about what you are going to do after college…and then when plans don’t go the way you wanted them to, you think up a new future to try to strive toward, but you actually never achieve all the things you’ve planned.  You spend so much time dreaming about what you are going to do/be when you grow up that when you actually grow up, all your expectations don’t get met the way you planned and your dream life is yanked out from under you.  I think that usually you start to realize that life isn’t going to be everything you hoped when you are in your mid-twenties.  You aren’t going to achieve all your dreams and holy shit, you’re an actual fucking adult.  It’s weird to think of myself as an adult.  I’ve never really thought about that until recently.  I mean…I know that I’m an adult.  I became a legal adult at 18.  But in the actual physical/mental sense…it’s weird.

I guess I was forced to become an adult when I had Nicky at 19, but even though I worked full time to support him as a single mom, I wasn’t an actual real adult, in the sense of the word.  I still lived at home, still relied on my parents for a ton of things.  But one could also argue that living on your own doesn’t make you an adult either.  I think it’s just the sum of the parts that you experience over time that become the whole…like the heartache and the growing pains and the separation anxiety and the ripping off of the metaphorical Band-Aid of Life and the new beginnings and the jobs you love and the jobs you hate and the friends you make and the ones you leave behind and falling in love and just every little thing that you go through that shapes you into who you are that makes you an adult.  You are constantly always growing up.  I think that becoming an adult is a life-long, ever-changing process–you are never fully “grown up”.  You never fully stop experiencing life until the day you die.

I’ve also realized that I am growing older.  I’m aging.  I will one day die.  It’s a scary thing to think of…it’s scary to think that this body that has carried me through 27 years of bumps and scrapes and fabulous memories is slowly falling apart.  I looked in the mirror the other day and noticed that I am beginning to get fine lines under my eyes.  I have a sunspot from my many years of disregarding the use of sunscreen as a youth…I always read about sun damage as a teenager and wasn’t worried because that happened to “old people”.  Well, Stupid Teenage Lashawn, I am not old and I’ve had this stupid sunspot since I was 25.  I’ve been trying to lighten it with over the counter stuff, but I think I will eventually get Fraxel to remove it.  I’m starting to pay for the sins that I made out of ignorance as a teenager.  I’m getting a few gray hairs.  I get tired more easily than I did when I was 17.  I’m beginning to realize that I am not invincible, I am not immortal.  I don’t get a “do over”.  There is no reset button.  I can’t rewind back and try to change the things I did, the mistakes I made.  I’m realizing that my parents are getting older.  My dad will be 70 next year, my mom 50.  They won’t be around forever.  It’s terrifying to think of them growing old.  I can’t imagine them dying, and I know that it is a reality that I will face in the next quarter century, possibly sooner.  There’s nothing I can do to stop any of this from happening.  I can’t press pause and slow life down.  Time goes forward, constantly pressing onward, with or without me.

But even through all of the fears and where the hell am I going and what the hell am I doing, there is happiness.  My son is growing up.  We live on our own.  I’ve fallen on my face and gotten back up again.  I’ve had my heart broken by men who didn’t deserve it, and it made me stronger.  I’ve felt incredibly lonely.  I’ve been surrounded by my family.  I have loved with all my heart and made friends with people who I truly care about.  I have a job I enjoy.  I am happy with my small successes.  I am still hopeful that I will make some kind of positive impact on the world, even if it is just a small one.

But I still don’t know what I want or where exactly I’m going or what I intend to do with the rest of my life.  I don’t have any of the answers.  Ask me again when I’m 30.  Maybe I’ll have an idea then.

“I rent a room and I fill the spaces with / Wood in places to make it feel like home / But all I feel’s alone / It might be a quarter life crisis / Or just the stirring in my soul / Either way I wonder sometimes / About the outcome / Of a still verdictless life

Am I living it right? / Am I living it right? / Am I living it right? / Why, why, Georgia, why?”

                                                                                                          –“Why Georgia”, John Mayer