Dear John

I am a creature of habit.  I don’t know if it’s intentional, or if it’s out of want or need, but I do the same thing nearly every single day.  I wake up later than I’m supposed to.  I brew coffee on the way to the shower.  The shower that is at least 317 degrees hotter than my body would appreciate.  The water, its subtle trace of tin, reminds me I really need to buy salt for the softener on the way home today, just like I should have done yesterday.  Just like I should have done a week ago.  I do my makeup first & then my hair.  While in my robe, held shut by my hair clip because I can’t find my belt, I give my dog his pills before we go outside.  Brush teeth.  Pour coffee.  Pick out shoes & earrings.  I then drive 37 minutes worth to the job that supports my habit of buying 75% of things that are crucial & some other percentage of things that don’t belong in this house out of necessity.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, if we’re keeping track, that any non-everlasting love creates a deluge of all the worst things.  Insecurities.  Palpitations.  The eroding of any hold I felt I had on my state of living.  Most all of my liaisons have ended in a way that I didn’t agree with.  Sudden.  Without warning.
Fruit basket.  Mother fucking.  Upset.
When culminations materialize in some blitzkrieg fashion, they are often left open ended.  Without closure.  Annie got her gun & got up & left. The worst form of mental abuse to someone who wants to talk things t h r o u g h.  A beginning.  A middle.  An infinite end.

So listen.  I want to sit with you.  At an old bar.  That one that you’re thinking of.  I want to stare at half filled liquor bottles while you tell me why you’ve changed your mind.  I will wonder if the bartender remembers the better times we had here.  When I didn’t look so in despair.  So desperate for another drink.  Of alcohol or of you. When we became regulars & we laughed.  I will cry, regardless of the fact that we’re in public.  I will order several more rounds.  I will remember, while I’m sitting with you, every lovely & perfect thing we did together.  That wooden bar, filled with reminders of people before us will feel the same under my fingers though I am so much more melancholy this time.  I will check the clock just to wish that the hands would slow their tick-tocking so that I’d have a little more time with you.  The clock that looks as though it’s melting away under my intentions like a Dali painting.
And then I will let you let me go.
But you never let me have that, did you?  And you won’t. You simply went away.  You slipped out like a guest at a party you didn’t want to attend. And so our love became a haunted house that I don’t want to visit anymore.  So this is addressed to you, dear John:

You haven’t spoken to me in so long.  Though I love the literally written word, I am far too lazy to put pen to paper & also the cold makes my fingers hurt.  Since I spent many of my younger days typing with Mavis Beacon, I can get this finished faster than that old, romantic way anyway.  I also won’t get ink on my hands from not understanding how to work a quill.  Maybe it’s strange I’m composing a letter to you in a blog.  Speaking like a ghost writer on the world wide web, but maybe someday you’ll read me here.

Do you remember that summer when I met you?  It was so happenstance.  So kismet.  Everything connected, but I didn’t quite recognize it in those first days.  Albeit, there was something about you.  The way you looked at me under florescent lights as if I didn’t look a shade above the paleness of death.  A knowing that you’d be smuggled into my life & I wouldn’t want you to leave.  That you’d never leave, but not in a creepy serial-killer-who-locked-you-in-my-basement kind of way.  Do you remember how you contacted me?  Several days in a row?   You asked me what my favorite beer was & since I quite adore aimless life questions, I discerned in that immediate second that I was in trouble.  I didn’t have the places in me to fit you in.  I wasn’t prepared.
And then a silent week went by & you texted to check in.  You already were taken by a lover & I kind of was, as well.  We met for casual drinks on a Friday after work & by the end of a few hours you finally told me about that love of yours & I told you about mine & how it was in a slow, steady descent on its way to crashing.  Before we said goodnight you confessed your want of dating me which came as such a surprise I don’t think you noticed my mouth falling open as you walked me out from my favorite, dimly lit bar.

Nobody has ever enjoyed me so fast.  You even called me that night to tell me what a time you had & we continued to talk for hours.  Who does that anymore?  None that I know of.  But we did that.  I laughed.  And I listened to your stories.  And your smoky, deep crow made me collapse so far into my bed I wasn’t sure I would get back out & not just because my mattress is a piece of shit.  As far as I’m concerned, it’ll stay one of the best nights that I will live out in my existence here, along with the several other nights that made me wonder how I ever lived this many years without you.  I left you alone the next day until you told me that you missed me.  We had only been in each other’s presence for the equivalent of a calendar day.  But still, you missed me!  And I missed you.
You started calling me every night.  So much so that I resigned my position on leaving my phone on silent to turning it up as loud as it would go.  I frequently fell asleep with it nestled in my hand or shoved under my pillow probably posing a serious fire hazard.
We started spending nights & weekends together.  You packed overnight bags & cleaned my gutters & washed off my Adirondack chairs.  We went for walks.  Through the woods.  To the backyard.  Talking about nothing & everything while you took long drags on softly burning cigarettes.  On that porch being slowly overtaken by the Cottonwood tree. We made inside jokes & created mementos. You showed me magic tricks that blew my drunken mind & sang me Johnny Cash in bed, holding me so close to you that I didn’t know where I ended & you began.  You made me feel so incredibly, unassumingly, beautiful.  I mattered to someone.  I mattered to you.  Do you remember?

I struggled many days, finding you too charming & too young.  You said the 7 year difference was complete malarkey.  I believed nothing.  I believed everything.  You would thank me for letting you come over.  For being me.  For kissing you.  There were surprises at work with gas station roses & dates for later that night.  You used to hug & hold me just when I walked by & so I inherently feared the day I wouldn’t be hugged & held.  I planned out adventures with you during my daydreams, like kayaking since you convinced me I wouldn’t get stuck in it should I tip it over.  I plotted meeting your family & you meeting mine.  Holidays & gatherings & nights after work would no longer have to be full of the emptiness of being alone.   How nice to show up with a warm body instead of just cake & salutations.  You kept calling.  I kept answering.  I was being so mutually admired I knew the universe had tilted on it’s mistaken axis.  My insides were screaming from joy, not worry.  For once in my life.

And then one night you didn’t call.  Just like that.  Tuesday was great & Wednesday was hell.  I think you told me you fell asleep.  You didn’t call the next night, either.  I tried to cover up my intensely sudden anxiety by sending you a Drake gif of ‘You used to call me on my cell phone.’  I know, I am hilarious.  We met a couple more times for a couple more beers but I’ve done this before.  I know when someone is avoiding me like I avoid people I know in the aisles of Target.  Like Jane Austen said, ‘I was quiet but I was not blind.’  I offered you several outs.  I knew that lover of yours that you had had when we met was back in your life.  But you assured me it was nothing.  You always have been especially convincing.
And so began the social media tags from her.  And my repeat questions.  Your reiterating of it being all on her part & none on yours.  Exasperated from answering my carbon copy interrogations like I was some annoying toddler, finally you were able to declare that you didn’t know what you wanted.  Do you know what befalls a heart when you tell it something but then you take it back?  Pandemonium.  When I showed up in that hospital room back in the 80’s, I was given the birthright of beating scenarios to death.  Maybe I spent too long in the birth canal, I don’t know.  I allocate every second of my time not distracted by work or song trying to dissect what I did that was enough to push you back to the arms of someone I didn’t think you loved anymore.  When I stopped eating corn, it was because I had had too much of it on my salads & so I became sick of it.  This is what I suspect happened with me.  You tired of me.  Became disenchanted.  But far too quickly. Just like the salad corn!

If we had been following rule-books or timelines, everyone would have considered us quite mad for loving each other.  After all, it was a handful of months that we toyed with the notion of together.  If it needed upholding, I was prepared.  Maybe it explains why I spend an embarrassing lot of time watching Catfish & 90 Day Fiance.  To validate that there are other people willing to risk humiliation & heartbreak even though every component of it suggests insanity.  But you’re gone now.  You haven’t come to spend the night with me.  You haven’t reached out, by hand or by word.  My phone has reclaimed its resounding silence.  What we had is like a recollection of the summer I spent working on a train through the inner belly of Alaska. Much too perfect to last beyond a season.

I had to look up the origin of the Dear John letter.  The internet says it started in the days of WWII when many men were stationed overseas & rather than wait for them to return, bored housewives left them for a man who was stateside & wrote them a letter to explain. It is my only hope that I can absolve myself like some lady who’s found another lover.  So I will put you in a jar like the others.  Like I’m curating some broken heart’s museum, full of relics & memories & artifacts of better days.  All high up on a shelf so that I can’t quite reach but I know you’re still there.

Tonight I did the same thing I do, day after day.  I drove those 37 minutes back.  Took out the dog, heated up leftovers, walked my laundry down to the basement where I always leave the light on.  Turned on mind numbing television before succumbing to the need to take a hot shower.  To wash off the parts where I thought about you today.  Plugged in the twinkles to remind me some things still sparkle.  And I will go to sleep alone.  Without you.  Again, as if I never even knew you at all.  Because where did you go?
You haven’t spoken to me in so long.

Cheers friends,
-a damsel & her dog-

Since I discovered there’s a recurring Tom Hanks gif thing happening, I may as well throw one in here, too. From You’ve Got Mail, appropriately & exactly what I look like when I write. Xoxo.
you've got mail gif 2

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Service Engine Soon

That little light is twinkling again.  On my dash.  Every morning when I head to work & every evening when I head home.  A subtle reminder that something is falling apart.  Somewhere on the inside.  And at any moment, it might stop working.  Somewhat, hilariously, a current metaphor for my life.

My moments of being awake have been challenging lately.  I’ve observed myself either spending excessive hours in my bed to try & not be or thirstily surrounding myself with anyone who will make the time. As adulthood goes, it’s hard to find friends who don’t have family commitments or who aren’t at least 30 miles away or who like to drink tap beer on a Wednesday.  I’m cognizant of the fact that I’m simply trying to distract myself.  From the inner workings of my over-active grey matter.  I’ve been contemplating taking another job on top of the ones I already have.  Just a little something more to occupy my time.  Just a little something more.

So I’ve started running. I hate running. I’ve abstained from it ever since I was unfairly forced to do it in gym class.   I was always one of the last stragglers during the infamous mile run, heaving up a lung on the side of the football field & holding my side because if my appendix wasn’t actually exploding, my body was telling me I need to stop with the after school Handi-Snacks.  The only thing I was ever really good at when it came to athletics was the parachute & they took that away way before I was ready to handle it on an emotional level.
I’ve only been out on the trail, in this newfound way, a handful of times.  A few weeks at best.  I generally walk it at a nice & normal human pace so it feels slightly embellished that I’m already writing about my moving just slightly faster.  But I started composing this while out there, my technically-a-geriatric 12 year old dog beside me.  He looks at me sometimes as if to ask, ‘What in the fuck is exactly going on here?’  To which I cannot respond because I cannot breathe.  But we keep going because if we don’t, we won’t make it back to the car & we’ll have to spend the night in the woods & I am super convinced that that’s when the murderers come out & do their stabby-stabbing.
The cadence of my feet as they hit the pavement & leaves seem to say, ‘This. Sucks. This. Sucks. This. Sucks.’  So I started wondering how people ever start to do this.  Sure, some of them probably have always liked exerting their body like a bunch of weirdos.  Maybe they were pushing to get back in their favorite jeans or they have a child and/or dog they’re trying to expel some energy out of.  But I think most everybody is just trying to run from something else.  Problems & plagues (not like the black plague, though) & matters of the heart.

Because that’s exactly why I began with this insanity.  2017 was shaping up to be my favorite year yet despite all the anguish on the news & the cool people dying & all the other terrible calamities.  I mean, I used to be nervous about the Yellowstone volcano erupting but now?  Meh.  I was in a good place.  A happy place.  A too-happy-to-not-be-terrified place.  And then the shoe dropped, cause that’s what it (always) does.  Suddenly everything I thought I was to people, well, it shifted.  Now, my life & my love stay hanging in suspension like the fruit in Midwestern jello.  And like those chunks that don’t belong, it is the worst.

All this whatever feels all too familiar but somehow worse this go-around.  I lost every desire to frost a cake or rake my leaves or live anywhere in my house besides the confines of my dark, moody room.  If my body ever felt like a temple, now it resembles a trailer in some abandoned lot of woods, a chassis of a hollowed out car sitting in the backyard.  Rusty.  An eyesore.
I cannot tell you why I’m not used to this yet.  Why I can’t stomach change.  Why I can’t get over things I know I need to get over.  Why I just wrote a blog back here about letting go & I’m struggling, still, with the letting go.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember to cater to ourselves when we’re loving something/someone else so hard.  Do you want to know what happens when we do that?  Shit starts to break down.  Lights start to come on.  There are warning signs practically slapping you in your dumb face.  Things make noises & start to smoke & eventually just stall when you really need to be somewhere.
I ran across a Hemingway quote recently that I forgot I had sketched onto a piece of paper:  ‘The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, & forgetting that you are special too.’
I imagine Ernest, after having typed this, lighting a cigar, buttoning his cardigan & walking along the seaside with a glass of something old & expensive because that genius son of a bitch!
Whenever I think of an example of this type of plot, I hark back to one of my longer relationships.  I somehow retained a saintly amount of patience with that one.  Those 3+ years could probably have their very own blog, in fact.  I would buy him his favorite Jelly Belly’s whenever I found the disgusting things in the grocery.  I relished making dinner for him while asking him about his day.  And whenever I ran across a card befitting of something I wanted to say, I’d fill it out & leave it for him in our tiny apartment because who doesn’t love reminders of affection?
He didn’t.  He didn’t give two shits.  I know this because after a particular fight in which I probably stated how I felt I was lacking attention & pointed out all the things I do to show him I care (only after it came up in conversation, I swear), he stated that down the road he would never remember the cards I gave him.  It didn’t matter that I made dinner.  That wasn’t monumental in any sort of way.  That sort of thing would never be cemented into his memories of me.  I was nothing short of crushed.  He also chose to disclose that he doesn’t like soup & I make that at least once a week.  What kind of sociopath doesn’t like soup?  Only Hitler & my ex-boyfriend, I’m pretty sure.  I still recall the time he wrote on my mirror in erase-able marker that he loved me & hoped I’d have a good day.  I think he maybe even drew a tree in there.  It might have had apples?  I don’t comprehend how those things don’t mean more than nothing.  I don’t want to have a roommate.  I don’t want complacency.  I want to matter like them to me.  I want to remember small, seemingly insignificant things.  Because those are the things.
And unfortunately, that very rarely ever levels out.

The thing about love & life is that for the most part, anything that happens to us will probably not kill us.  Money & break-ups & infidelity & the speed of the world will not take us out.  We have to just work through it no matter how it feels like we are dying from the inside out from some sort of slow, agonizing, flesh eating bacteria.  Some people never feel this.  Some people never feel it until they’re 53 & their spouse is having a crisis of the mid-life kind.  And some of us recognize it as just another extension of every day.  Just something to get used to.  Whether it’s uncertainty over long distance or a new love who suddenly isn’t mutual or some other brain-exploding hasty change, you’ll be fine someday.  But you will never know while in the middle.  You will feel like you’re stuck in the Upside Down with poor Barb.  I can’t quite decide if I believe everyone should know what it’s like or if nobody should.  It’s both brutal & exhilarating.  Life altering & liberating.  Harsh & bittersweet.
Maybe the running is helping.  And the cbd oil I’ve started taking.  And the fact that I started making myself dinner instead of the 3 minute egg supper lifestyle I’d been supporting.  I actually cleaned off my counters & did some loads of laundry.  I poured myself some questionably old champagne that was laying in the fridge next to some carrots that have been there so long they started to make new carrots.  Everything is still hard.  Everything still hurts.  But I’m still here.  I have no choice because my organs are still functioning & I still have a job that I have to go do because sadly, I cannot yet live off of retirement.

You shouldn’t look for me in a marathon anytime soon or you know, ever.  I will never have one of those stickers on my car that has a distance on it unless they make one that says, ‘You tried to go more than a mile!’  But I do have some tips.  If you listen to true crime podcasts while you’re out in the woods, be prepared to shit your pants when you see someone’s underwear hanging from a bush off the hiking trail.  I guess when I think about it, maybe that guy actually did shit his pants.  Bring a dog if you have one or steal your neighbor’s temporarily.  It eases the tension of barely making eye contact with other people.  Also, buy yourself some better shoes. If you’re anywhere over the age of 30, your knees will almost immediately hurt.  But be prepared, the shoe salesman will tell you that you can ‘Do some jogging moves around the store if you’d like!’  I just said, ‘Nope, I’ll take ’em!’

And would you like to know what?  Because I have a propensity of ignoring things I should be doing, I took my car to get fixed today.  It was not as major of an ailment as I’d been anticipating & I won’t be reminded of it tomorrow morning because he turned that light off with just a little switch.  Just like those boys are so good at doing.
Now we just have to work on this heart of mine.

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Cheers friends,
-a damsel & her dog-

Side note down here, some podcasts I recommend:
If you like crimey things but also laughing – True Crime Garage & My Favorite Murder are both informative & full of quotes you will be able to use in your life.
If you like to be depressed but feel connected to others – Terrible, Thanks For Asking & This Feels Terrible know how to punch you where it hurts so good.

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The Holding On Of The Letting Go

I am a keeper of things.  Of magazines & news clippings.  Receipts & scribbles on torn paper. Expired pills & boarding passes from trips in my 20’s.  Vacations in my 30’s. Concert tickets & dried flowers.  Corks from dinner parties with initials Sharpied on the side from those who came & sat around my table.  Preservations of anxiety, emotions & unfortunately still, pieces from every heart I’ve ever loved.
I’ve been this way since I was a child.  I recall a time in 1st grade, finding a piece of paper on the floor that looked like a lion.  I picked it up & put it in my bag because of 2 reasons.  I thought it would feel bad if I left it there (what) & I also wanted to show my parents.  I was convinced that they definitely wanted to be given the proof that their child is a tiny lunatic.  I don’t think I ever showed them that piece of dejected scrap paper but I probably still have it, tucked in my creepy af Minnie Mouse backpack that legit had arms & legs.  While I’ve gotten better at purging & parting, donating shirts that no longer cover my torso, I still tend to hide away mementos from anything that meant anything. Love letters that hold nothing except the inky weight of memory. From people who bore significance.
I have boxes tucked in closets containing notes once left in my high school locker, sprayed with the cologne of an adolescent teenager. Cards from old Valentines (thanks, dad!). And I wouldn’t doubt, probably some old chocolate or moldy candy hearts because U R A QT.
There’s a line from one of my favorite Gordon Lightfoot songs, ‘Race Among the Ruins,’ that says this:
The road to love is littered
By the bones of other ones
Who by the magic of the moment
Were mysteriously undone
God damn if that Canadian didn’t get it so accurate. I feel as though no matter how you’ve moved on, no matter how far away you are from the end of a past love, their fossils will always be in your backyard.  And if you’re like me, you’ll find them on a random day because you can’t help but dig.

I had a conversation with a co-worker yesterday about death.  He’s incredibly cut & dry about it.  He believes we all get old or sick or have a time that we ‘might get hit by a bus’ or whatever.  Which is all absolutely true.  But I don’t believe I’ll ever feel like I’ve completed everything.  I won’t have learned the things I wanted to.  Picked up the German language or how to work a table saw.  Learned to sew or become a filmmaker.  Actually made it to Conan O’ Brien or wrote everyone a letter of my feelings.  This actually plagues me constantly.  That I will leave earth without everyone knowing how much I think of them.  That even though I might have overused the ever so cliche, ‘I love you,’ I meant it every bloody time.  What if I’m being called to the light & I’m all, ‘Hold on!  Have to go do a few things real fast, brb lol.’  I told my co-worker I loved him & he got super uncomfortable.  Maybe it was because I also pointed at him.  So far I’m off to a great start in my campaign.

Letting go, for me & my brother at least, can also be awkwardly associated with times of great joy.  If I went somewhere a year ago or 3 weeks back or 1 goddamn day has elapsed, I will agonize over that timeline until I suffocate it or suffocate myself.  Let’s say I had the most epic conversation with a man crush over cheap beer & blue plastic lawn chairs last Wednesday.  On the next Wednesday, & many future Wednesdays I will think, ‘This time last week (or insert other time-frame here) I was drinking beer on these blue plastic lawn chairs with this boy having conversations that were making me fall in love with him & that was more amazing than what I’m doing right now which is eating broccoli slaw.’  I get homesick for it.  For those tiny moments that make up everything to me. Because what if it never happens again?  What if nothing ever compares 2 U?  So I hold on I hold on I hold on.
That’s actually pretty debilitating because it makes me want to not have any fun ever, because why do I want to spend half my life in mourning?  It’s just slightly less tormenting than water torture in my humble opinion.   This also prevents me from getting included sometimes & I mean this in the least dramatic way possible.  I get so pre-worried that I will ruin said outings that I infect situations before they even are one.  I wouldn’t want to hang out with me either, frankly. And if you’re wondering, I definitely have considered donating my brain to science just so someone can know what the fuck is going on in here.  It’s like I’ve had several concussions but never played football.

Maybe it’s a mild form of rejection?  But I choose to like glints of hope.  Maybe that’s human nature.  We keep each other hanging on, in our back pockets. Just. In. Case.  But Jesus, why?  If we’re over love at one point, aren’t we for always?  Does it come back? Doubt it, bro.  I’ve never gone back to my wardrobe from 9th grade & thought indeed, I should try to wear these Airwalks & Hypercolor shirts again so people can see me pitting out.  Maybe that’s where our past belongs, in some over-stuffed Rubbermaid container. Or the Goodwill. Or in a burn pile. You do you.
Is it because we were taught to have back-up plans?  Or we’ve gotten used to things not working out?  It feels as though my life is like my credit score & I have to keep checking back to see if it went from ‘fair’ to ‘good’ or plummeted into ‘please just stop looking.’  Also see: ‘Girl, it ain’t looking good,’ & ‘Don’t.’

I’ve been lucky to fall in love with several people over many, many *cough* many years. I’m not ashamed to say I’m addicted to that feeling.  The euphoria.  The isolation from the shit show that is everything else but nothing matters because I have my person.  The thing I look forward to at the end of the day.  Every single day. So when they gradually treat you a little differently, when they take away from the pot they filled with riches in the form of everything I’ve ever wanted to hear, it’s safe to say that my mental health quickly turns into 2007 Britney.
I very rarely actually go back & look at things.  I don’t read notes or journal entries or text messages.  They’re just a security blanket I don’t ever use because I hate laundry.  I guess I shouldn’t say never.  There was one time (87 times) that I drank too many cider beers (maybe 6ish) & dug through a years worth (haha so many more) of screenshots to find out the last time someone said they loved me.  It caused a very dramatic but Oscar worthy performance of throwing my head against the wall behind my bed while proceeding to wail/cry & wondering out loud what it all means before I curled up in the fetal & slept off as much despair as I could.
Maybe I’m just panicked, terrifiedscared  nervous as balls.  That every current is bound to turn into a former.  So, theoretically, I’ll always be chasing a high & punishing myself in the interim.  Just like how I covet being a 90’s kid.  The only threat to my life was gym class & I had after-school Kraft Singles nachos & Gushers to look forward to. I used to get that straw in the right spot on the Capri Sun 4/7 times.  And back then, those things didn’t make me fat.  Every morning I wake up wishing I was a reverse Tom Hanks, the antithesis of  the movie ‘Big,’ & I could just be 11 again.  Zoltar, where even are you?!

I feel volcanic.  ‘I’m fine!’ I say.  ‘Just fine.’  But I harbor words & feelings & things.   Then, all hopped up on generic Benadryl, I decide to let out a little squeak. For the volcano this would be maybe something on the volcano people radar.  A little rumbling in her underbelly.  A warning.  For me, it’s ‘Hey, I noticed you didn’t say you missed me 3 times today, only once.’ And then there’s the little puff of smoke out the top.  So I bring up something with just a hint of added drama.  HE DIDN’T TEXT ME UNTIL 3PM WHAT IS WRONG. For effect & because I’m about to blow because worry will do that to you.  Here comes that molten hot lava! I draft & re-read & finally send a small novella via a text most likely.  It may have pie charts or graphs or my favorite: a timeline.  But wait, there’s more! I issue an apology not long after, to myself & my mark because my eruption may have just destroyed a small city.   Then the pressure of guilt coupled with the angst of waiting on a response requires a full retreat.
I de-activate things & cancel plans & don’t answer the phone.  Sometimes I read books instead of try & write them.  This is how I let go the best way I know how because I actually **shockingly** don’t know how.
It never lasts long.  But what does?  I think I’m getting better at it (insert the cry/laughing emoji). Releasing my grip, slowly, slowly.  On not just the past but also my prospects.  On anything & everything.  Of being so scared despite the liabilities laying in wait.  Because really, letting go has brought me things I never knew I needed. And chances are, if you’re reading this, I love you.  This way I won’t have to worry about writing you a letter.

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Cheers friends,
-a damsel & her dog-

 

 

 

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The Gravity Of Feeling

It’s bedlam.  The way I feel in my heart. A cacophony.  An inbox with several junk folders, compartmentalized into all the shit I could possibly store.   Sometimes just on Wednesdays.  And then most times, all of the other days.
It is not something you can explain away to someone.  How upon being put into the universe, you were given more empathy & emotion than you actually feel like you can handle but you do (you have to) & so you flood others with what might be considered an affliction.  A scab someone else picks on the daily.  A scab that bleeds & heals & bleeds again for the rest of your life.  And you start to really fully realize this when you’re in your mid-30’s, replying (and apologizing) to someone who e-mailed (chastised) you about your blog full of, (I bet you guessed right!) feelings.

It’s hard living in the pace of now.  I’m so tired.  Of news.  Of constant contact.  When I first loved, I laid on the kitchen floor twirling a land line chord around my finger, impressed at the balls of the teenage boys who called with the chance that my dad might answer.  And now, someone might be dead, dying or cheating on you if they haven’t responded to a text in an appropriate window of time.  (Anything past 2 hours is too fucking long). #girlfriendhack
Speaking of phones, I spent 6 hours in a cell-phone store 5 weeks ago. I have only exaggerated this number for the 30 minutes I left to get a chiropractic adjustment but still, it was literally, 6 hours. I went there because my text messages were not sending, not receiving or simply deleting themselves like some kind of futuristic asshole.  In the time that I spent there, not only did I become an honorary employee (there is a $70 re-stocking fee, Kathy) but I thought about how sad it was that I was most concerned I would lose electronic correspondence.  I was desperate to save these pieces of me. Maybe I needed validation.  Of when people told me good & nice things.  Of firsts & I love you’s & pictures that stirred homesickness.  Of knowing I could remember things if I needed to. Perhaps just proof.   That I didn’t make all the good stuff up.  Because sometimes it’s hard to remember. That it existed as a precursor.  That on the lonely days, there was once a day that you didn’t feel bereft of utter bliss.  I kept my shit together but  my winged eyeliner was at risk when even the upgrade to a new tellie didn’t solve the problem & suddenly all texts from both phones were gone.  Maybe they were in the cloud but Jesus does anyone know what the cloud is?  What does it do? Who’s in there? Is it a series of tubes like the internet?
They’re back now.  I got some hand-written directions on a Post-It from my new best friends & I was able to backup or restore or I did something that involved checking & clicking & losing my adult mind.  But goddammit Kathy, why did I feel so frenzied?

I’ve done so much apologizing, just because things move me in ways that irritate people devoid of knowing why.  All my life I’ve felt bad for something.  I feel bad for feeling bad.  I feel bad that that sounds so dramatic. But I’m tired of that, too.
I spend so much time deciding if what I’m doing or saying is befitting instead of just saying what is simply there.  The thing I am actually screaming from the inside.  Aren’t we all beyond that?  Too old? Too prone to imploding? Why does everything need to stay unsaid?  Wouldn’t everything be a little easier if we weren’t in constant hiding, ffs (this stands for, ‘for fucks sake’)?
I confess my love for people every day.  I tell co-workers & relatives & the best of friends & maybe in my head, the cell phone guys.
Love (& feelings) don’t need to be profound or erudite.  They can be simple & sweet. Reasonably, if we all took some seconds to recognize that the tiny things make up the big things, maybe matters of the heart wouldn’t look so scary.  Maybe it wouldn’t feel so bad when it shifted into another form after it’s gone a little stagnant.  Missing someone?  Tell them.  Kind of dig someone’s vibe?  Tell them.  Like someone’s deep v t-shirt?  Tell them.  Super not in love with someone anymore?  Holy shit, tell them.

I’ve often wished for less of these things inside this body I reside in.  To not care about everything quite as much.  To eradicate this litany of analyzing every. Single. Thing. I’ve. Done.  Since I was approximately 3.   I’ve considered medications to dull them.  I’ve turned to drinks to drown them (this actually only makes them stronger).  But then again, without giving a shit, what the fuck fun would that be?

You know how people always try to have that balance with children of letting them be kids but also preventing them from being an asshole?   Do you know how hard it is to keep a balance of being a social adult when you cry at YouTube videos of choirs?  Or when your boss decides to move your office?  Or that your parents’ neighbor’s dog had porcupine quills in its face & you were worried they wouldn’t be removed quick enough?  Let me tell you.  It is monumentally, insanely, unequivocally hard.  That cry face emoji is one of my most frequently used, in fact.  Did you know that sounds also apply?  People’s moist mouth noises or burping or popping their gum or eating pistachios on the plane sends me into an irrational, murdery rage.  I’m looking at you, leg-space stealer flying out of Boston.
I watched a Ted Talk not long ago (this one) about highly sensitive people & one of the things the speaker said  was this: ‘A sadness is a deep sorrow & a joy is pure ecstasy.’  That, inherently, is how I spend all of my days.  So imagine throwing into that someone who threw you a back-handed compliment.  You will think about it until the end of times.  Remember that super basic text response? ‘Sure.’ Who says sure with no exclamation?!  Good luck sleeping tonight, lol. Or someone has decided they don’t want to be your person anymore.  It is the highest & deepest anguish.  And once it works its way through your body, you wake up & do it all over.  Another day of ebb & flow, for as long as we both shall live.

I recently saw someone I used to date but because my blood was full of gin & my bones on rapid misfire, I ran away almost immediately.  I couldn’t locate words to say except the standard adult greeting of ‘Hi,howareyouleavingalreadyokbye’.   It doesn’t matter that he was a past love.  It just matters that he was one.  It still feels like a rugburn to me. I remember feeling the heat radiate off the pavement & I thought that just maybe, it might melt me right into it.  I kind of wanted it to.  Weird?  Sure.  But an admonition, at least to myself.  That the universe might be fucking with me, but it has me where it should.

Jack Kerouac said, ‘Live, travel, adventure, bless & don’t be sorry.’
Just be good.  And be nice to the cryers, those highly sensitive ones.  They’ll work their way through those feels.  Maybe try talking to them.  They like that.

Cheers friends,
-a damsel & her dog-

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Insecurity Blanket

When I was 24, my boyfriend at the time took me on a mini overnighter to a rainy, northern town. The night before, we were bellied up at the local dive when he told me to pack my bags for the next morning. I was smitten. I also hella love surprises. I bought new underwear & knew that this trip was going to be magic.  It wasn’t.  The best thing about it was the sausage I ate (at the restaurant) before the trip home.

To abbreviate, he ended up cutting our make-out session (that was to inevitably lead to sexy time) short  & there I sat in new lacey butt coverings, nursing the Cabernet as he slept next to me.  We broke up the next night after a terribly awkward 4 hour drive home.  I was so ruined I moved 3,000 miles away, we got back together & a few months after that, I broke his heart back.  I am not remiss to acknowledge I too, can pull the rug out.  But he was first.

I learned somewhere down the road that he pretended to be tired that night because he wasn’t attracted to me (at the time I GUESS).  I felt that that could’ve been avoided had he not planned a spontaneous hotel stay. (Disclaimer: He & I remain friends & he’s still one of my favorite humans.) This information, unbeknownst to me, was stacking itself on the after effects of my previous boyfriend.  That one had left me when he met someone else.  In a sense, since I turned 20, my love life has been on repeat.  All different men.  All different loves loving all different loves. All heaping themselves on piles in some tortuous Jenga game that has had me serpentining through each relationship after.  Even after repeatedly reading inspirational internet memes, I can’t shake the hesitation of everything I say, everything I do, leaving some sort of ramification.
To then let a relationship try & fit into the pieces I’ve etched & carved out of pure anxious is somewhat similar to absolute hell.  Everything is read into. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

When you’re dating at this age, you commence to wondering why you weren’t enough yet. Why not for the first & why not for the last. Still not enough. And then came social media.  The greatest way to compare yourself to that picture your boyfriend liked. Heaven forbid he commented on it.
I detoxed myself for a few months after Halloween of last year. I realized I was being incredibly hard on myself (why are my teeth so weird in pictures) & retreating to the most comfortable thing I know: solitude. It has been lovely. I spent more time playing guitar & banjo, cooking for myself, having solo whiskey induced dance parties, perusing used book stores. Crushed velvet clothing came back in style (YES). I listened to so many true crime podcasts & read one of the best books of my life titled simply, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson. So I’ve been trying hard. To give less fucks. To give more important fucks where they belong.
But how do I change being habitually jealous? How do I not worry my love will leave like every other one?
I don’t fucking know.

Do you know how it is when the seasons change, when you can feel it in your body? How when winter transitions to pastels & grass you feel compelled to run? But then why would you run when you feel so good right where you are? Is it just me? This is what love & loneliness is like to me. I love love.  It feels good.  But I can be by myself.  I know how to be by myself. I know how I work. I’m easy to please & when I don’t feel like dealing with myself I just sleep in that new Velvet comforter I didn’t give any fucks about buying for myself.  Maybe that’s what Stevie Nicks meant when she said ‘Can I handle the seasons of my life?’ Is it, Stevie, is it?!

I liken being in love to walking around with your insides falling out after having been stabbed repeatedly. In a good way. Suddenly you’re so vulnerable & naive & at risk of infection. It is quite possibly the best & the worst way to feel alive.  But when what makes you feel so good goes away, it’s hard to not recognize the pattern we’re used to dealing with as something that’s actually easiest to live by.  And what if you get that feeling in the middle of your euphoria?  It’s like a Choose Your Own Adventure only less exciting than when you were 8.

When I was little I used to play 5 Card Draw with my brother for twists of licorice.  I’m pretty sure I was great at bluffing & unless you ask my brother, I’m pretty sure I won at least 50% of the time.  That’s like 1 outta 2.  A great success rate.
I guess that’s what matters of the heart are.  It’s all a gamble.  Sometimes we get the licorice & sometimes we give it all away & sometimes they don’t even like licorice like some kind of savage.
But it doesn’t matter.  It doesn’t matter how broken you might get or how terrifying it is going into. As far as I’m concerned, when your heart is involved, you have to be all in.
#pokerpunforthewin

Cheers friends,
-a damsel & her dog-

 

 

 

 

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The Deep End Of The Dating Pool

In my early 20’s, after my first serious relationship had breathed its last, I marathon watched a whole lot of episodes of Sex & The City.  I lived vicariously through the 30-something ladies who trudged their way through dating in New York City, all while I continued writing tortured poetry in the upstairs bedroom of my tiny town.

Back then, I never imagined I’d make it past 25 without a husband & babies & a cul-de-sac.  But now, binge watching every episode of SATC while I’m basically their age, it’s suddenly a little more like real life.  Just maybe with less Cosmopolitans.
Back at 23, it was less about finding my 50-year anniversary partner & more about which local I might make out with in the parking lot later.  Afterwards, I’d come home & eat leftover hotdish, leave the remnants in my parents’ sink & wake up with no hangover sometime the next morning.  At 33, it’s about weeding through insecurities. Many mine, many his.  It’s a constant filter of wondering why he’s still single.  Him wondering why I’m still single.  Puking the next day after only just a minimal 3 drinks the night before. And deciding if it’s really so bad just being a bachelorette living by just one set of rules; my own.

What nobody tells you about dating well into your adult life is just how hard it is out here.  Sometimes there is such a dry spell between lovers that you actually don’t even know where to begin again.  Options drastically narrow & there is an influx of baggage dragging on the ground with that guy you’re internet dating.  There might be ex-wives.  Ex-girlfriends.  CHILDREN. I mean, children are fine.  Except when they’re not.

People try to set us singles up every chance they can find.  ‘Oh, you’re single?  I have this guy for you who’s simply got nothing in common with you but hey, we’re running out of time.’  Or sometimes they match us with the perfect specimen & panic sets in.  The date goes well, so what next?  Text him ‘Good morning!’  A response, but 3 hours later.  Maybe that was too much.  But we had a good time so it can’t possibly be already pushing him away.  Maybe I should set up another date.  Or should I wait for him to set up a date with me?  Maybe I’ll text him on a Holiday, like Christmas Eve because who doesn’t respond to someone on such a magical night.  Maybe he didn’t get that text because he’s having a dinner with his family because he’s a genuine human.  Shit.  I will have to meet his family.  I hope they’ll like me.  They’ll definitely like me.  But he hasn’t set up another time to hash out our future.  Maybe he’s overwhelmed by eggnog & peanut brittle & he’ll definitely want to go out with me in January, once things have settled. They’re going to hate me.  Maybe he’ll never text me again until this:
nothing you did
So you don’t respond, because how do you respond to that.  You just have to pretend like you don’t mind exhausting yourself with how to do this. But everyone else does this & you’re not crazy.  Right?  And then a couple months later he’s in a relationship & they break up 37 times over the next year & a half.  There’s definitely some satisfaction in that & a little bit of what the fuckery.
And then sometimes we re-connect with loves of our past.  Someone it never quite worked out with but you always wonder if it should have.
This happened to me recently.  There was a guy that was always the ‘what if’ of my life.  But while I questioned why it never worked, I also felt a nagging like it never would.  I entertained the idea anyway.  We were pretty compatible as we had known each other since we were young.  I enjoyed his company but he lived a state away & often sent dramatic texts. (‘What, no text back?’)  It was a tiny battle I was always fighting.  I felt an obligation to try it.  It might be a great love. Should I or shouldn’t I?  If it’s meant to be, would I be questioning any of it?  I finally got the finale I had waited for, via a text to a friend.  This one:
unstable.png
There’s a lot of back-story here but in a salted nut-shell, he called me unstable (or potentially crazy via those parentheses).  And that thing he didn’t know how I’d feel about?  He was trying to boink my friend.  So that was that.

When I’m with single friends, I’m inclined to give them advice on how to be courageous. To go for love with gusto like I know anything about it.  Secretly, I’m smuggle checking my phone to make sure my love has not written me off yet, probably via text.  To tell me he doesn’t think long distance is going to work because when does it ever work.
Speaking of LD, I have fallen for someone 3,000 miles away from me. It happened just like they say it does.  When you’re not looking.  When you’re happy, just the way things are. We were casually Facebook introduced in a comment thread & we exchanged pleasantries. I’d been in the same room as him before & never known it.
Holy shit this was romantic.  He was terribly funny which is one of my weakest spots, but he was far away so it caused no immediate distress.  But then he kept making me laugh. And then he sent a Christmas present. And then the Earth tumbled out from under me because I fell, how do you say,  ass over teakettle in like with him.
Since I needed to know what it was like to lay next to him, I flew there. It was the hardest trip I’ve ever had to come back from.
And then everybody asked, ‘Now what?’ Well hell, if I knew I would have done it.  I’d be doing it. I have sat so many nights now, eating alcohol & hovering my mouse over the ‘relationship status’ radial.  I haven’t been here in so long I feel like I’m starting Kindergarten again. Homesick feelings for a boy who makes every day complete.  A feeling I haven’t visited in many moons. But as much as happiness resides, I can’t kick out the insecure girl who lives in here. We fight a lot.

So while I generally write about the un-doing of my heart, finally I can see the words on the screen I’ve been wishing for. That someone has fit into a spot in my heart I wasn’t sure was open anymore.  But have some open minded-ness for your single friends.   It gets harder & swampier every single year.  Just don’t take them on a date with your significant other. Third wheeling sucks balls, yo.

Oh and, I listened to this as I wrote.  It’s actually kind of a sad song but it’s also delicious & so it balances out.

Cheers friends,
-a damsel & her dog-

 

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You’re (Maybe) (Definitely Not) (Probably?) The One.

I am 31.
I have been a bridesmaid in 7 weddings.
At all of these weddings I’ve witnessed the same thing. Tulle & disposable cameras & the professing that they have married ‘The One.’
I think you’re already getting it wrong. I used to believe there was one person. He who I pictured I would sit on the porch with & eat cheese & tomato sandwiches next to. We would gossip about the neighbors & pull weeds with our asses hanging out.
The problem is, I have felt this feeling with every person I’ve ever spent a good amount of time with. Maybe it’s the romantic in me. Maybe it’s because I took a quiz on the interwebs & it said I’m classified as a “highly sensitive’ person. It’s true. I cry a lot & have empathy for people I shouldn’t. Problem is, when the guy sitting across from me has blue eyes & a manly jaw & tells me that he too likes the same music as I do I find myself plummeting into a love hole that takes me at least 3 packs of beer to climb out of.
I watched an interview once between Ellen & Garth Brooks. I can’t tell you why I gave up my Investigation Discovery minutes to partake but I ended up crying anyway. He spoke of how he never knew he could love somebody like he loved Trisha Yearwood, wife number two. Which of course made me feel bad for wife number one, Sandy.
I get it though. We love people in different ways. We fall in & out & that’s what is so terrifying. I have been infatuated with so many different personalities. I wanted to have babies with the guy who passed me on the 4 lane the other day. I cannot be controlled.
While out to cocktail hour a few weekends ago with some old friends and one new one, I was asked a fair question. Offensive, but fair. After discussing online dating & why I didn’t want to put forth the effort, I was asked by a chiseled & quite handsome piece of work if I watched the Lifetime Channel. Though I laughed, I also swore at him & probably appreciated my Shepherd’s Pie just a little less. He said it seemed as though I hated men, simply because I stated that I had no interest in a partner.
I could carefully explain what the joys are of either. I certainly miss having someone to make dinner for. However, I could do without ever again having to wonder when he’s coming home. I’m not anti-man, I’m anti-shit relationship. I don’t want to be with someone for the sake of having someone to bring to the work Christmas party. Though it would be nice to have someone scrape the ice from my windshield. Give/take.
I have witnessed a small town’s worth amount of relationships that stayed intact because they didn’t know another way. It simply ‘worked.’ They didn’t know how to be without the other person. I don’t like this way of loving. I want mad love or none at all. I want cheese & tomato sandwiches on the porch.
I do believe in the one. Actually, I believe in the one(s). I think we are given people at appropriate times in our life. They might be the right person for that time, & even though we might want to cut ourselves with a rusty paring knife when it’s over, we learn something eventually.
I have already seen too many divorces while anticipating the arrival of my future hubs to come & repair my furnace.
So I’m ok with waiting.
I would like to be his ‘one’ too.

Cheers friends,
-a damsel & her dog-

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