Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hide and Seek

The wind is cold and without mercy in DC today.

Since my arrival on Saturday, we've been spoiled with warmer than usual days, but not today.

I decided to brave the cold anyways though, for a while at least. I went out with a friend to explore Adams Morgan, a neighborhood known for its culture and diversity, and only a 12-minute walk from our hotel.

We stumbled upon one of the coolest things I've seen on this trip. The "Airing of Grievances", which I was unfamiliar with up until now. The grievances were posted on a busy street corner, for all to see and participate. That was my first feel of the city's character. And I loved it.

(Now, let's  be clear,  this is my second trip to DC and on the first I explored and took in the history that is this place. But on this trip, I wanted to witness the street culture and city life. So, this was a bit of that.)

We walked a little further before we decided we should probably walk with our backs to the wind. As we changed directions, we ran into a quaint little cafe that serves New Orleans style cuisine.

I fell in love with this spot as soon as we sat down. It's small, but cozy. Its walls are painted in warm inviting colors; deep reds and browns. We were served by the owner himself, Bardia. He's a small man with a thick accent (which I couldn't identify) and a sweet spirit. He's the kind of person that in just a short time makes you want to be a little sweeter and kinder.

My friend and I shared a plate of beignets, my favorites. I also had a cafe au lait with real chicory (much better than Starbucks' cafe au lait which I settle for at home) and a cup of gumbo. All were delicious. We lingered there for a while and chatted. I told my friend:
"If I lived in this city, this is where I'd spend all of my mornings, eating too many beignets and sipping cafe au laits."
When it was time to face the wind again, we thanked Bardia and headed for a bookstore I spotted on the way in. This place, also quaint, was a used bookstore. Upon opening the door we were flooded with that used book smell. It was warm, and a great hiding place from the wind.

I could have spent hours there. I left with two books that will help fill my free time for  the remainder of the break.

I've got tonight and tomorrow left here in DC. These are the types of places I can be found, when I'm hiding from the wind.

Monday, December 28, 2009

While I'm Waiting

I overheard a friend of mine planning his love life tonight. Bit by bit. The kind of girl he’d meet, when they’d be married, his children’s names.

And I laughed. To myself, of course. As he talked through his timeline for the next 10 years I was wondering when he’d realize that things won’t be as he planned.

At least I hope they won’t.

Because the best things in life aren’t planned. They have a way of sneaking up on you. They catch you off guard and take your breath away. They leave you yearning for more. They make you wonder why you didn’t think of this arrangement first. And question how you didn’t see that this predicament is just what you needed all along.

Yet and still, I too have plans. Plans for love. For my life.

In short, there’s the graduate school in the city, the man I’ll meet I’ll meet and fall in love with there, landing the dream job and finding happiness somewhere along the way.

I, like we all do, need the plans. The plans give me hope. They remedy my uncertainty. And give me something to hold onto while I’m waiting to be filled.

But I hold on loosely. And wait for the things in life that can’t be planned, only embraced.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Another Chance

I’m three days into a three-week Christmas Break now. I’ve been a vegetable for the past couple of days, worn out from all of the work I had to finish up for finals week, but I plan on spending the remainder of this time recharging and getting things set for the new year.

I’ve picked up the book that I checked out at the library two months ago and have up until now, had time only to read a few chapters here and there. I’m almost through it now and have already begun searching for my next read or two since I’ll have the time.

More importantly though, I’ve begun my internship search which I hope to secure as soon as possible. The past four months have flown by, and I’m sure the summer will be here before I know it.

And, I’ve continued my search for a multimedia graduate program for the next phase of my education, and life. I found one just last night that I adore. It’s an art school in the heart of Chicago.

I'm having quite an internal battle concerning the fact that two of my top three graduate school choices are art schools. For the past several years I’ve been trying to fit myself into this business mindset, thinking that it was what I was supposed to be. What I am expected to be.

So I chose the Public Relations degree instead of the Magazine Journalism degree. And as graduation nears, I'm more and more filled with regret. Realizing I'll never be happy with a career in public relations. That I'll always wonder what I'd be doing had I believed in myself a little more.

I'd never describe myself as creative,though I’ve dibbled and dabbled in the arts over the years. I’ve never been trusting of my creative instincts or abilities.

And despite my insecurity, I’m drawn to places where creativity is valued, nurtured. I’m drawn to people that are intensely creative. Those people make sense to me. They make me feel like I make sense.

And I hope that this graduate school will be another chance for me. A chance to discover and embrace who I am, ignoring the person I’m supposed to be.

I don't know that I'll end up doing what I want. Or that I'm good enough. Nor do I believe that this is the ticket to my happiness.

All I know, is that this is a chance. To not be so full of regret.

But first, I've got to apply. And get in.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"There's Nothing Here to Hold On To..."

The semester is winding down. Actually, it has wound down. With only two more class days and finals  remaining. Unlike seemingly everyone around me, I'm not excited.

Of course, I'm relieved. I've just about made it through the most stressful of my projects, presentations and tests. But that feeling of relief, the big exhale, wasn't as gratifying as I thought it would be.

Because, in all honesty,  I'm not ready for the end. I've got that sinking feeling in my heart. The one that precedes emptiness. Which, though scary to admit,  is telling of where I find my fulfillment.

This has been, by far, my best of three semesters at Ball State. My best semester of college, even. I've met a handful of cool people. Ones I'd like to get to know a little better. I've done some cool things, like being a part of the social media team for the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition build, and the Windows Mobile 6.5 research project for Crispin Porter + Bogusky.

But, the cool people trump the cool things.

 And I've only got a few days left with these folks that I've seen day in and day out for 15 weeks.  The comfort that those familiar faces have provided me, is about to be upset. Some of them will still be around, some won't. The ones that won't, I'll miss. The ones that will, I'll miss soon enough, when it's all over  at the end of next semester.

Perhaps that's really where the heaviness is coming from. Thoughts of the end, and the starting over. Again.

Obviously, I've gotten ahead of myself. In my head and in my heart. So I'll try to back up, lest I waste the moments I've got left.

Two more class days, and finals week. And for those things, unlike seemingly everyone around me, I am excited.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


It's Saturday night. I'm sitting at Panera Bread, tucked away in a booth. Hiding.

I have a bit of a complex about being seen out alone on the weekends. I'm sure that seems seems silly, and it probably is. Thankfully, it's not enough of a complex to keep me in. It is, however, enough for me to drive 15 miles from home so that I can be a little more comfortable. (Which I normally do, but I was too lazy for the drive tonight.)

 Only because I'd rather avoid those awkward moments of seeing people I know swirl in and out with their boyfriend or best friends while I sit for hours upon end reading, writing, people-watching.

 I've had the house to myself this weekend. And I've enjoyed it, I love the quietness. You see, it's not the physical aloneness that bothers me. In fact, I often crave that. 

 It's the other aloneness that I'm dealing with. The outsider looking in aloneness. This aloneness has pain attached to it. The kind of pain that makes your squish your face and squirm. The kind that produces a dangerous desperation. 

 I've learned the hard way that I can't will people into my life. When I have, they've been the wrong people. They weren't good for me, or I for them.

The right people, they come as quickly as they go. That's just the way it works. There is a lesson to be learned in that I'm sure. One that has not been easily understood by my heart. Not yet rationalized by my head either.

I know that they do come though. And the knowing, just the knowing, makes this pain a little more bearable. This aloneness a little less lonely.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Broken Pieces

It's 4:09 a.m. as I am typing this, sitting in my room in Tampa. It doesn't quite feel like my room anymore, my sanctuary.  It's  become more of an office space. But enough of my things are here that it's familiar, I'm comfortable.

My bed, which I was excited about returning to, isn't as I remember. It feels more firm, and my body doesn't sink into it like it used to. I assume I've just gotten used to my bed at home.

 Nevertheless, I've been sleeping pretty well. Not now obviously, but enough. Four hours here, two hours there. I'll take it as it comes. The angst that has been consuming me lately, has settled. Everything has slowed down.

 Although I have three more days to enjoy, I've already imagined how hard it will be to go home. Because this is as much home as my home in Indiana. Things have changed a little here and there, but it's home. Half of my heart is still here.

And unfortunately, there is no merging of these lives. They are all together separate. Which is odd for me, and maybe why I keep my distance from people.  I have a hard time explaining myself.  My story is broken. Lacking linearity. Peices of me scattered between here and there.

But, tonight was a simple but good night here.

 My mom and I spent some time at a new mall that I've been wanting to see. As we were leaving, we got a cup of hot chocolate and caught the light show, Symphony in Lights. There was an enormous Christmas tree, beautifully lit by tons of colored lights dancing to the music.  It was cute, and I kept wishing my neice and nephew were here to see it.

It reminded me of the Christmases we spent in Nashville, at the Opryland hotel, as a family. Whole. They had the most beautiful trees lit with bright white lights. I saw pictures of those days yesterday. Pictures that I thought had been lost in the fire. (which I'll explain later, as the anniversary is creeping up in a few days) As I recalled those precious memories with my mom, she said, "Life was so complete then." It was as if she'd read my mind. I couldn't have expressed it better. That was before we were broken. Before I knew we'd be broken. Spending holidays seperated.

And while it sounds gloom, the simple truth I've come to know is: There is no wholeness with which to move forward. There are just those memories, that sometimes bridge the divide between these lives.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dear Ugly Truths

Dear Ugly Truths,

You're my confidante, and I'm sorry for breaking our date this week. It's just that you keep reminding me of all of the things that need fixing. While I appreciate you for that, it's not pleasant. It's hard to see myself in you and (assumedly) be seen. Raw.

 Honestly, sometimes you're just too much for me.

Lets reschedule.  I'll do my best to sit with you this weekend.

Until then...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Little Bits of Nothing

I'm sitting in bed with the lights off.  It's 11:15 and I hoped to be asleep hours ago.

I got home from a long day around 6:30 tonight.  My Dad, sweet man that he is, brought takeout home for the both of us. He set my plate on the TV tray adjacent to his, which was all I needed to sit and eat with him, foregoing my room where I normally eat at my desk while doing homework. We watched a show together, a re-run of The Real Housewives of Atlanta. He stays young and hip through these little things; the reality TV shows, the unlikely music, the leather Ecko jackets, all of which keep me laughing and endear him more to me.

So, I ate a little slower tonight and held onto that moment that I know I may long for at a later time, before returning to my room.

But now, here I am. Sitting in the darkness. It's less depressing, than it sounds. It's  comforting for me actually.

This is what I do. To stop thinking about everything and start thinking about the little bits of nothing that fill the empty spaces. I tend to play songs on repeat, which I think may be an attempt to drain my soul of whatever thought or emotion I am mulling over. Sometimes it takes longer than others. Tonight's song is Happiness, which, as it turns out, is not a happy song.

It's less about happiness than it is about acceptance, something I'm working towards in several areas of my life.

Like this insomniac lifestyle. I make peace with it every night as everything around me gets quieter and my mind gets louder. I make peace with it every morning as I sip my coffee and try my best not to complain. I think my body's nagging disagreement with this life is wearing on me the most. My muscles are gripping my bones too tightly, my jaw constantly clenched and there's a constant burning in my stomach.

But all of these things are symptoms of a bigger issue.  It's an anxiety disorder, as I was told three years ago. And there are ways to treat it, when I'm ready.

And that sounds simple enough, except these things that require treatment are the things that are the most me. These idiosyncrasies are the most authentic pieces of me. The other pieces of me that people know, are born of necessity. Rehearsed and perfected. It's these things things that slip out in the darkness that are the truth.

So I  don't think I'm ready. But, maybe speaking of it for the first time and owning it is enough for now. Because readiness, for me, comes in steps. Baby steps.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Momentary Contentment

 The busyness of the week has simmered down leaving nothing for me to hide behind. No meetings and no assignments due in the morning. Which leaves time to just sit, and reflect.

These are not the Friday nights that I dreamt of in younger days. But they are mine nonetheless.

Matter-of-factly, my life as a whole is not what I dreamt of in younger days.

It's funny to say "younger days", as I am only 22. I feel much older though. I have an old-soul as my mother has said. It's hard to explain if you're not one, but I'll try.

 It's like a magnetism that pulls me to the people I need and the people that need me. It's a knowing of things that people say only life can teach. It's sensing people and feeling the weight of their  pain It's being able to see sadness in smiling eyes. It's a need to quickly move beyond the surface, to dig and get to the heart of things.

 It's a passionate, draining, lonely life. But mine nonetheless.

Thankfully, there are others like me that make cameos every now and again. If I didn't know any better, I'd believe that I'd  known them in another life.  Loved them before. There's a connection that's binding and unexplained. Their presence is always fleeting, their purpose, however, is known almost instantly: A piercing reminder that I am not alone.

But, I digress. This is about reflection. And as I sit here on this Friday night I'm content, with little thought of what's going on outside. I'm sure I'll here stories of excitement and adventure when I return to campus on Monday morning. Tales of new loves and memories that were made. And when that moment comes,  I'll probably feel that I missed out.

 I sat in the library with classmates earlier this week,  and what started as a study session quickly became a night full of girl talk. Stories were swapped and I listened without much to tell. I mean, I've got plenty to tell, but not much that fits into those conversations.

 It was an enjoyable time of bonding, but also a  realization of what I said near the end of the night, "I feel like I'm missing out." One of the girls said sweetly, "I wasn't going to say it, but yeah." Her bluntness made me laugh, despite the weight of that confirmation.

And yet, as I sit here I have no desire for excitement or adventure. For now, in this moment,  I'm okay with where I am. I'm okay with this Friday night, with this life. Because they are mine.

 And I'll deal with Monday's feelings when I get to them.

"Dear Friend"

This song "Dear Friend" helped me through a really hard time several  years ago. It played on repeat day after day for quite some time.

I'm always amazed at the power music has over the heart. We all have these songs. They act as headstones for the pieces of us that died somewhere along the way. Monuments of celebration for the events we wish we could relive.

 This one for me, is a headstone.  It forces me to recall memories I'd willingly forgotten. It digs up stories that I'd buried. Refused to tell.

Those will follow, I'm sure. For now though, I'll share this, which tells a story of mine in itself.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Passing Through

In exactly 267 days, I will be a college graduate. Only after writing it does the number seem large to me.  

Time passes quickly though. Too quickly.  It feels like yesterday that I was graduating from high school and making the transition into college. That was hard for me. So much so that I delayed it for a year. 

Transition always seems to come at a time in my life  when I'm just settling in, getting comfortable.  

My freshman year of high school my parents were going through a divorce that was more painful for me than I knew how to express at the time. Just as I was finding my niche, I learned that I would be moving to Tampa, away from everyone and everything I knew and loved. 

I remember the day that we left, I used to know the date, but it escapes me now. Sometime in late July, weeks before my 15th birthday. I held up the flight by bolting to the bathroom right before takeoff. I told my Mom I couldn't hold it. "It" wasn't the "it" that she assumed though. "It" was the tears, the emotion, the pain. So I took a moment in that tiny airplane bathroom to cry, and try to get my bearings. 

 That flight not only transported me to my new home for the next seven years, but it changed me. In two hours I went from being confident, outgoing, and funny to insecure, shy and solemn. It wasn't until my senior year that I felt the person I knew returning. 

Too little, too late. The transition into college was upon me.  

The feelings I have now, are frighteningly similar to those I felt seven years ago.  

Just as I'm settling in, getting comfortable. I'm halfway through my second year at Ball State University. I'm just beginning to feel like I know the university. There is a camaraderie being built between my classmates and I. Possible friendships budding. That person I knew makes appearances in unexpected moments, and I get excited. Then I remember, just 267 days. 

Too little to late. The transition into adulthood is upon me. 

While it feels to soon, maybe it's right on time. Just before I settle. Get comfortable. Just before I relent to mediocrity. Just before I become complacent.

I know that the walk across the stage will transport me to another new home, and change me in ways I'm not aware of yet. 

My lingering hope, is that that the confident, outgoing, funny girl I knew doesn't get lost in the shuffle. That her timing will get better, and the next time she makes an appearance, she'll be able to stay a while. 

Friday, October 23, 2009

Extreme Makeover

It's just past 11 a.m. I'm sitting in my room with the lights off and blinds still drawn, enjoying the slowness of the morning. I'm listening to Corrine Bailey Rae, whom I always turn to on rainy, chilly days like today. I didn't have classes today, as it is Fall Break for Ball State University.

I will be getting ready to head to Bunker Hill, IN in just a few hours, to be part of a social media team working with ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. I'm incredibly excited and equally nervous. I'm sure that there will be times over the next few days that  I will feel totally out of my element. That's okay. Those are the moments that will force growth and allow me to discover  new passions, strengths and weaknesses.

I'm so grateful for the opportunity, thanks to Ball State. I'm constantly reminded by all of these amazing opportunities, top-notch faculty, and classmates who inspire me, that I made the right choice in finishing my undergraduate degree here.

With 9 months to graduation, I'm excited to see what other opportunities may crop up.

 (I probably won't get to see Ty. He's not really my type anyway, but one never knows!)

More to come on my experience with Extreme Makeover, as I will be on location all weekend.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

This Sucks. A Lot.

I remember now why I write inconsistently, as I have for as long as I can remember. I have several journals, all only half-filled, with months, even years of my life missing. Pages ripped out, in hopes of forgetting memories all too vivid.

And yet, this is all I know to turn to. I'm not a big talker. I'm an observer. A great listener. My creativity limited. Which, in essence, makes the writing more a need instead of a want. I need a release, and this is the only way I know to get it.

  What I hate about it, writing, is that it draws out the characteristics of mine that I've always tried to hide. The sensitivity, earnesty, perceptivity, all of which have always made me feel much older than my years and often misunderstood.

 So I try to find the happy things to write about. To bring some balance. Lighten the mood. But I just end up staring at a blank page. I'm not saying that  I'm not happy, because for the most part, I am. Those that know me know that I love to laugh and make people laugh. But those happy things are expressed easily, daily. It's the horrible, painful, uncomfortable  things, that I can't speak of that burden my soul for expression.

It's weird to write about writing. But it's the only thing on my mind. How hard it is. How freeing it is. How much I need it.  I'm unable to sleep, my body captive to my mind's restlessness.

The problem: I keep trying to make it pretty. I knew better when I titled the blog. It's ugly. And it sucks. But true, and necessary. And as long as I try to clean it up, I remain sleepless, anxious, robbing myself of the cathartic release.

So, no more of that. For freedom's sake. For sanity's sake. For truth's sake.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Paint Her Pretty

**I was reminded of this blog this week by a co-worker and have taken some time to look back and remember where I was in my head in and in my heart 2+ years ago and I found this unpublished draft written on 10/19/09 -- exactly 4 years ago -- and thought the coincidence alone made it worth publishing! More, what I know now that I wasn't sure of 4 years ago, is that brokenness is beautiful.**

My life, for the past several years, has been a constant striving.  A struggle to be more of this and less of that. A battle against feeling that I am both not enough and too much.

I vividly remember the moment I was told a few years ago by someone who, in the grand scheme of things proves insignificant, that I wasn't easy to love.  Or, that's what I heard, which is as real to me as the actual words that were spoken. 

It was in a Sears parking lot, I was standing against my car a foot away from a person I admired, respected and wanted to be just like. Her words were simple and quick, her face expressionless. And i remember the way that moment sucked the life out of me, the way I assumed at first that she was joking, until silence settled the truth, my hands covering the pain I couldn't hide on my face. It was quick, with lasting impact. And I drove the five minutes home, blinded by my tears.

The stinging power of those words (or the perception that overshadowed them) forced me, the truest me, to retreat. I began painting a picture of myself that I thought less complicated, more acceptable. 

 One day last week, I was made aware that I am seen; that this picture I've created of myself, though I was unaware, is transparent. 

While that moment was startling, it granted a freedom: To just be. 

What this means in this delicate season of my life, is that the "letting go" that I wrote of before, and struggled to define, is that simple. Just be, knowing that I am at times both, not enough and too much. 

I'm choosing to trust though, that the same beauty and honesty that I see in brokenness, will be seen in me. 

Saturday, October 10, 2009

"You Fall Away From Your Past, But It's Following You"

It's 8:00 on a Friday night, I'm sitting at Barnes and Noble with books and assignments sprawled out around me, which has become my Friday ritual. Embarrassing, I know, but true.  I've started to dread the weekends, as they are stark reminders that my life is not full. So I stay busy, however I can.

It's been a little over a year since I moved back to Anderson from Tampa. My life has changed completely, yet is nothing like I expected.

I'm of a totally different mind these days, which I'm embracing, albeit unsettling. I've noticed this most through conversations with my closest friends. With each long distance call, there is less common ground, the silences longer and more uncomfortable.

 I've been too fearful to speak the truth of my now; fearful that they'll soon realize that I'm no longer the friend they knew.

 In moving home, I naively believed that I would come back to the life I left seven years ago. That my circle of friends would be the same, that everything I knew and loved would simply fall back into place. It's been bittersweet learning that nothing stays the same for long.

Over the years, I've become comfortable with change. It's the stillness that's hard. It's the stillness that I run from. The stillness demands answers, honesty, confrontation.

Such stillness  dealt with me, harshly, yesterday. Early in the day, I  looked over an old journal, that chronicled the events that led me back home; the slow crumbling of the life I knew. The day was full of unwelcomed memories, and an awareness that despite all my changing, the pain of those days lingers.

I realized yesterday, that my walking away didn't equal letting go, but I'm finally ready for that.

What that  entails, I'm not entirely sure. But I'm ready.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Beginning

I've been wanting to start this blog for over a month now. Over the past two weeks, I've written and re-written, edited and cut. Never has it been this hard for me to write. Over the past year, I've gotten used to everything I write being scrutinized. While I realize this betters me, it also apprehends me.

Regardless of my fear of critical eyes, I need this. Maybe that's exactly why I need this.

I'm at an interesting place in my life now, lots of dissonance within. I know that at times my truths will be contradictory. It will make those that I'm close to question me. It will make me question myself. While I can't apologize for that, I am aware.

I've always been envious of people that have the ability to express themselves artistically. Singers use their voice to set their soul free.  Dancers use their body to laugh and cry. Even actors often find bits and pieces of themselves in portraying someone else.

This is all that I have. Just the words on the page. But, when I say it's all--it's everything. This is where my soul is made free. This is what keeps me honest.

I am a person that likes things raw. Free of pretense. I prefer an ugly truth over a pretty lie. I have yet to tell my own ugly truth. This, is the beginning of that.

"Most truths are so naked that people feel sorry for them and cover them up, at least a little bit."- Edward R. Murrow