Sunday, February 28, 2010

Searching For The In-Between (30/90)

My Mom called me this morning,  as she was on her way to meet friends for a get together.

"What are you doing," she asked.

"Homework," I said, without an ounce of enthusiasm.

"I'm done," she said excitedly.

She's just finished the last  courses for her Master's degree. She's officially done. Over the past few months we've been commiserating over the assignments that require long nights of work and weekends spent in.

"How does it feel," I asked her.

***

I've been all kinds of up and down lately. And it's bothersome for me to acknowledge. Embarrassing, actually. Just yesterday my life felt full. Today it feels empty. There is no in between.

Yesterday was a great day, for simple reasons. Two great conversations over coffee during the day, and I watched one of my favorite movies while doing bits and pieces of assignments at night.

But, today has been miserable. I have spent the entire day alone in my room working on a paper and trying to find little moments of enjoyment in the meantime. This paper is not complicated, but it is long. Whenever I get around to finishing it, it will be between 15-20 pages. Nothing compared to the 100-page research paper I wrote on the health care debate a few semesters back. Yet and still, I'm struggling to finish it.

I'm learning that I can not multitask. Research has shown that none of us can effectively, but I really can't. I am too easily distracted. When I really need to get something done, and in a timely fashion, I need to be alone, sitting at my desk in silence.

Which, unless I'm passionate about the "thing" that needs done, is just unpleasant. Sometimes I get into a zone, and just lose myself in the work and before I know it 4 hours have passed. But, because I've been trying to fight myself and the way that I know I work, that just hasn't happened today.

Nothing has happened. I haven't relaxed and I haven't gotten my work done. I'm dreading Monday. There's much to be done yet this weekend and I don't want to carry any of it into a new week.

***

 There is no balance in my life, I've never been able to find it. I wanted to spend this weekend playing. I wanted to find time to recharge before I run out of juice completely. But, from the looks of today I think I may already be out of it. 

Which, as real as that feels, isn't actually an option.

Thankfully, the weekend isn't over yet. I've got tomorrow to figure out how to get all of my work done and hope that there is time left afterwards to play or just relax.

But this anxiety and frustration really isn't about the assignments. This is about trying to find the plains to stand on instead of the peaks and the valleys.

It's no secret that I've been dreading the end of college. I'm scared of what that end will mean for me. But, the end is sneaking up on me quickly. I know that there is much to be done still before I move on, and I don't want to carry any of it into a new season.

And that question I asked my Mom this morning, is one I've got to answer for myself.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

"These Boots Were Made For Walkin" (29/90)

I wanted to prance around in my boots all day today.

They haven't been out much, although I bought them months ago. I've worn them no more than three times so far. It was a split second decision this morning.

I've got only one class on Friday's which means I've got less walking to do around campus on slick, icy sidewalks which means I've got an even lesser chance of falling. And, despite the end of the week tiredness, I was in a good mood. So, on went the boots.

These aren't the every-day boots though. Not the black flats or the camel moccasins that I throw on for comfort and practicality day after day. These are sassy boots. A cross between riding and cowboy with a wedge and laces in the back.  They're cute, if I can say so myself.

Today, they made me feel cute. I rely on these things sometimes. A lot of the time.

That last minute look in the mirror can be intense. It is often enough to send me back into my room to change my outfit entirely or tweak little things like changing the earrings or the shirt or throw on a bit of mascara.

This morning I stood realizing that no matter how much I'm trying not to think about my weight, it is now apparent that I've gained. I am as ok with it as I can be but it's uncomfortable, still.

I've been busy and let too much time lapse since my last eyebrow threading. They are one of the little things I like about myself. When I take care of them, like I try to, I am complimented often. They frame my most prominent feature. When I don't take care of them, I am uncomfortable. I want to cover my face or pull a hat down over my eyes.

A bit of anxiety crept up in me as I stood looking at my sweater pulling tight around my hips and the bushy brows that made me feel messy and unkempt. But then, I looked down to the boots. Oh, the boots. They were enough to get me out the door without starting all over.

Today I allowed the clicking of the boots to be my rhythm. The tone I was setting for my day echoing through the hallways, preceding me.  Some days, when I'm feeling particularly shy, I can't stand that sound. I walk on the balls on my feet trying to be quiet, modest.

 But, not today.

There's just something about a cute pair of shoes and the way they make you feel. Heels in particular make us look and feel instantly more attractive.  Aside from the obvious height addition, which standing only at 5'3 I'll take any day, they lengthen the leg, thin the ankle, raise the butt and increase the sway of the back. Instant sex appeal.

I even noticed the glances from a few young men as I walked through the snow flurries tonight from one side of campus to the other. I hope they didn't notice the brows or the extra weight. I bet they were attracted to my butt or my lengthened legs or the sway of my back.

Or maybe, they just liked the boots.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Nostalgia (28/90)

I’ve been feeling incredibly nostalgic lately.

I can’t wait to get to Tampa and have 9 days to enjoy there with my Mom and friends. The people, of course, are what I knew I’d miss. I didn’t realize, though how much I loved the city. I didn’t think I’d miss it, aside from the weather and the beach. But I do. I’m finding myself missing the city a lot and I’m longing to be at the places I used to frequent.

Passe- A-Grille is the beach where I spent almost every weekend one summer. Thankfully, it's not on the tourists' radar. On Friday nights I'd coach late at the gym, and then spend the night with friends so that we could head to the beach first thing in the morning. We'd wake up early, pack fresh fruit and water into the cooler, pack our beach chairs in the trunk and make the drive. Once we arrived, the first thing we'd do is take a walk along the length of the beach. We would pass the Ziploc bag full of grapes between us as we walked scanning the sand for starfish and the water for cute boys, talking and laughing all the while.


Xtreme Juice is one of the many amazing juice bars in Tampa. I know you're thinking, it must be hard to miss a smoothie. But, first, where are the smoothie joints in Anderson and Munice? Right, there are none. Second and more importantly, this was a bonding thing for my friends and I. We'd grab smoothies on work breaks or on Sundays in between church services when they were two for one. My favorite: Phunky Punch. 

You Do The Dishes is a pottery studio where I'd spend Friday nights sipping coffee and  painting ceramics with my girlfriends. This place is peaceful, artsy and inviting and makes you wish you could stay all night.  I even celebrated one of my birthdays there with the girls. It's conveniently located within walking distance of our place in Tampa and I may have to make have to make some time for it this trip. 


The amount of love I have for The Bayshore Boulevard is out of control. It has a special place in my heart, not only because it's beautiful and relaxing but also because I've had some pretty serious and memorable conversations there with friends in the wee hours of the morning. And some not so serious ones too.

                                   
Muvico is my absolute favorite theater. In my travels, (though certainly not extensive) I have yet to find one quite like it. It's huge, with roomy seats and an awesome concession stand. My Mom and I frequent this theater. We last saw The Blind Side over Thanksgiving Break we held back our tears as we sipped our sodas and shared candy and popcorn. Everything you could ever want to eat at the movies, they have. I like to get ice cream bites and a Diet Coke but they have everything from curly fries to shrimp baskets in addition to all of the usual items. 

I miss Spanish food like no other. Tampa is full of authentic Spanish restaurants and Cuban cafes. Early on I fell in love with the chicken dishes with red beans over rice and a side of plantains. I could try to impress you the with the little amount of Spanish I've learned, but to be honest the best Spanish food I've had has been in my friends houses and when we go out they order for me so I don't embarrass them. I can't forget Cafe Con Leche, which is how I fell in love with coffee. Cuban espresso with steamed milk and a bit of sugar, absolutely delicious. These are cravings that can't be filled here in the Midwest where I was raised. 

I could go on and on, but I'll share a bit more once I get back there. For now, I'm clinging to the memories I shared with my favorite people in charming little places and remembering that it's the simplest things in life that make me happy. 

And that's the way it should be. 


Life's A Playground (27/90)

It’s that time.

 I know, because I’ve been watching the Tweets and the status updates and the stressed conversations. We’re seven weeks into the semester. 13 classes down.

But, I also know because my body feels it. My brain is fried. The anxiety is out of control. There’s more to do than I can think about without having a meltdown. That’s just the class work and organizational meetings and responsibilities, not to mention the internship I must secure, the job applications and graduate school research.

***
Last night, my plans and my productivity were halted by a terrible headache that sent me to bed a mere thirty minutes after I got home at 10 p.m.

It’s quite unusual of me to give in to a headache, or any ache for that matter, but I was just worn out.  Pushing myself to 4 a.m. would have been counter-productive anyway.

I worried about the assignments that I was leaving unfinished and the blogging that I would get behind on as my headache nauseated me and made thinking painful. Thankfully, after an hour or so I finally fell asleep from the exhaustion of it all.

I woke up at 6:30 a.m., three hours before my first class and began working on one of the assignments. Still not feeling well, I fell back asleep an hour later. I finished the assignment though, and got to school on time. And as for the blogging, I’m getting caught up.

This has become a pattern in my life. I push myself until my body breaks down, rest just enough to get back on my feet and then push some more.  Never getting ahead on the next week’s assignments as I intend to on the weekends, which I’ve designated solely for homework. Besides never getting enough done, I never get enough rest and by Tuesday or Wednesday I’m wiped out.

This is not a unique story though. We’re all in this together.

I know because I’ve been watching. We’re all running around not feeling 100%, exhausted, stressed and chugging caffeine every minute of the day.

There’s this constant sense of urgency; the sense that everything, everything, is of the utmost importance.

***
There are things that we don’t accept or understand until it’s time. Until we’re ready. I sat in Brad’s office last week and he said something I wasn’t expecting to hear. In so many words it was this: Life is a playground, so play.

Thinking of “playing” while knowing the amount of work I need to get done seems irresponsible. But, at this point, I get it. I’ve had one too many headaches and stomachaches to wake me up in the middle of the night. If nothing else, my body is asking for a break.

I won’t wait until Spring Break to play, although I’ll be on a plane to Tampa in 9 days. That’s not soon enough. Not for all the pushing I’ve been doing.

I haven’t played enough in college. I turn down invitations to make sure that I get my work done; I don’t take time to nap or go out and enjoy the weekends. I don’t take enough moments to just enjoy life and all of the little things that make me happy.

Fortunately, I’ve still got time.

This weekend I’m making a conscious effort to enjoy the little things. As I was talking with a friend last night she told me that every night before she goes to bed she thinks of three things that made her happy throughout the day.  Her conscious effort to stay happy.  So, I’m stealing that. That starts tonight. 

I’ll push until Friday, I’ll get as much done as I can and I’ll make a list of all the things I didn’t get to. But on Friday, I’m relaxing. For the weekend, I’m playing.

I’m going to make time to enjoy all of the little things that make me happy. I’m going to the movies, I’m having coffee with new friends and I’m going to read for pleasure. I’m going to take naps when I get sleepy and sleep late without waking up in a panic.

My work will get done. It always does.  Nothing is urgent at this point, and I’m sure all of those important things are less important than I realize now.

The only urgently important thing now, is that I play. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Insatiably Curious (26/90)

Love is all around me. From engagements to first dates to anniversaries. There is wedding planning, saving for houses and honeymoons, rearranging dreams and seeking new opportunities. All of the things involved in weaving lives together.

Once I swallow the tinge of jealousy that rises in my chest, it’s exciting to watch. It’s beautiful.

I’ve never been in love. Not if I’m honest with myself.  I’ve had one real boyfriend. We were in high school and it was a long distance relationship, or at least that’s what we called it. It was more a glorified friendship, but it was nice.

We talked on the phone, not every night, but often enough. We shared dreams and hopes for our futures. We talked about things that kids who think they’re in love talk about: marriage, where we’d like to honeymoon and what to name the kids.

We made trips to attend each other’s proms, although, I decided at the last minute not to go to mine and we ended up driving around Tampa instead. We sent Valentines in the mail. We loved each other, I think. I’m sure, actually.

 It might be a bit much to say we were in love. Only because I’m not exactly sure what that means, which means I certainly didn’t know at 16.

I’ve dated a little bit, of course. Never anything serious. Nothing real. Not yet.

***
I’ve been a Celine Dion fanatic since I was, 13. Ok, let’s be for real, since I was 11. It’s more embarrassing now than it was then. I wasn’t just a Titanic fan, truth be told, that’s my least favorite song. I’m talking real fan.  I bought every single one of her albums, both of her books and her concert DVDs.

I once made a friend watch her Live in Memphis concert with me as I sang along and rewound my favorite parts. Said friend fell asleep as I kept watching, and singing long into the night.

 It was sort of an obsession. I’d lock myself in my room at night and play her albums, often repeating one song for hours. No particular song, just whatever moved me at the time.

I’ve figured this out over the years. I think I’ve always known but been a bit too afraid to admit it. You see, I am both incredibly curious and perceptive. Both of these things have become issues in my life, but that’s another blog for another day.

Celine has gotten a bad wrap for being corny and overly dramatic. And sometimes even I cringe when I watch her. But, she sings about one thing, and one thing only, and that I am insatiably curious about: Love.

What it feels like to be in love.

The obsession has since died down. The curiosity; however, has not.

***

And now, I’m more curious than I’ve ever been as I watch as love swirls about me.

All of my friends are married, engaged or impatiently waiting for the day he’ll pop the question. It’s through them that I’ve learned what it’s like to be in love. From the outside.

 I’m familiar with the radiance that emerges after a new commitment has been made, the growing pains that begin after the honeymoon stage ends, and the excitement and uncertainty that precede plans to start a family.

 Curious cat that I am, I want to know what it feels like from the inside out.

But, I shouldn’t give you the idea that I see love through rose-colored glasses. I wouldn’t consider myself an optimist, if you haven’t noticed. I’m equally curious about the less than exciting things that come with being in love.

None of this is to say that I’m ready, or that it’s my time. It’s possible that I’m just in love with the idea of being in love.

Monday, February 22, 2010

On Processing And Acceptance (25/90)

I found out the results of my Myers-Briggs test on Thursday. I'm a rarity, as it turns out. According to Myers and Briggs, I am an INFJ, a type that I share with only 1-3 percent of the U.S. population. And despite my rant on my issues with personality testing, it is, as I pointed out, quite accurate in its assessment of personality traits and behavior.

So, we spent a whole class period talking about what all of these types mean. It was very interesting to listen as people weighed in on what they thought an introvert was, and why. Let's just say, in that class at least, introverts got a bad wrap.

I got angry, but I didn't go crazy on the class, you know, because I'm an introvert. I was taking it all in. We are slow to speak for a reason. Introverts are great observers and tend to have an acute awareness of everything happening around them, and are in tune with all of the small details.

We process slowly because we are constantly processing.

I said all of that to simply say that I am a slow processor. Not because I'm stupid or lazy, but because I'm taking it all in, all the time.

 I'm well aware that it's almost March, but I am just now setting goals for the year. I have, however, been thinking (the way that we introverts do) a lot about what I want out of this year and what I'm willing to give.

I was curious to see where my energies focused and if I was okay with that before I went and set some structure for myself that would make me totally miserable.  I'm a stickler about schedules and plans which is why I hate making them. I know that once plans and schedules are made I do all but kill myself to make sure things get done.

Writing has become the dominant thing this year. Largely due to the 90 in 90 challenge. Writing is now a part of my day, every day. And I like it that way. It comes before the homework, and social outings and working out. This is all okay with me.

But, I'm setting some goals around the writing. I just don't want anything to pull me away from it.

I wanted to set 10 Goals for 2010. But, I only have 5 for right now. And I'm okay with the imperfect number, so here they are:

  1. Martial Arts. This time last year, I posted on one of those silly Facebook notes that I wanted to take up martial arts by the time I turned 23. Well, I turn 23 in August. So, I want to find some place to do Taekwondo. I've always been interested in martial arts but up until now that interest has only translated into doing Tae-Bo videos and  boxing around the house in my pink Everlast gloves. So, it's time that I get on that. My friend Hannah is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and she's convinced me that I'm not too old. And, of course I'm going to keep pestering her with questions, and maybe even beg for demonstrations until I get my feel on it. 
  2. Cooking. I really enjoy cooking, but I don't do it enough. I like trying fun, new recipes and eating them but I don't take the time to find them and make them. Maybe on my weekends in, I'll try a new recipe. First on my list: homemade barbecue chicken pizza with cilantro and red onions.
  3. Socializing. About those weekends in, I really need to accept a few more invitations out. This is something we talked about in class, introverts suffer from people exhaustion, unlike extroverts who are wired after social events.  After spending a day with people, no matter how enjoyable it was, I am wiped. It's nothing personal. And, I spend a lot of time just watching and observing. But, I have fun when I go out and talk with people so it's worth the exhaustion that follows.  
  4. A Grown-Up Job. Come July I'll be done with school. It's past that time that I start thinking about what I want to do in the interim year between graduation and graduate school, providing I get in. I think I would really enjoy doing the communications for a performing arts center. 
  5. My Own Place. And if I can get my grown-up job, then I can get my own place. Granted, it will probably be a studio apartment, but I'll decorate it really cute and maybe, just maybe I'll have people over and cook for them. That's probably pushing it, but you get the idea. 
There you have it, five goals for 2010 from the mind of a slow processing introvert. More than you ever wanted to know, I'm sure. But, this is how my brain works, all the time. 

And, I think I'm okay with it. 

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Hair Journey: From Relaxed to Natural (24/90)


So, when I say obsession, I mean obsession. It's only right that I show you a bit of the hair journey. Hopefully this gives a bit more of an  explanation of  the differences between relaxed and natural hair.

My first relaxer was at 5 years old. (Due to an arsoned house and lots of moves I don't have a lot of early pics.) But once the hair was relaxed, it was the same all the time with the exception of the occasional highlights and a few cuts.

So, we'll start somewhere around 2005 or 2006 and go through the transition to the present.


I can tell by looking that this is probably a few weeks after my last relaxer. Smooth edges and straight ends, which means I'd made nice with the flat iron. Yes, even after chemically straightening I'd flat iron my hair. Double damage. And color, which we'll see. Triple damage.


Ok, so this is the day of a relaxer and Dominican blowout.  (Forgive the awkwardness of my man fist, I don't know who I wanted to punch.) I also had highlights then. Now, highlights, or any dye is  especially bad for relaxed hair because the relaxer is one chemical process that strips and weakens the hair and then the color is just another on top of stripped, fragile hair. But, my hair was always pretty strong and able to handle it, so I did all that. Sorry, hair.


Prime example: Here's my honey blonde highlights after a cut that I threw a fit over. (I had a friend in cosmetology school and trusted her with the hair.) This, I believe, was also my last relaxer in July, 2008. Thanks to Nair that shadow over my top lip is now gone too. Uh-huh.

'

This is a few months after that last relaxer. Sad, sad time in my life. The beginning of the transition. What begins to happen is the line of demarcation ( where the natural hair meets the relaxed hair) is extremely fragile. So, the more I tried to keep it straight the more it broke off. And, of course I had just moved and started at BSU and didn't feel very pretty without the longer, much healthier locks.

So, this is a small glimpse of what the transition process looks like. The beginning of the end of the straight hair.







This was my attempt at trying to make the relaxed hair look like the natural hair that was growing. Of course that didn't work.

So, let's get to the chop and beyond already. I won't tell that story again, but here's what it looks like.


This, my friends, is what fear looks like. If you look closely you'll see that there is tons of texture at the roots and the relaxed hair is basically just hanging. Those curls were dying to be free.


And this is what shock looks like. The Big Chop, March 14, 2009. Yep, my anniversary is coming up.


And, my first day back to school after spring break. All of the sudden I felt the need to wear a full face of makeup and big earrings, neither of which were a part of my pre-chop life.  That feeling didn't leave for a long time. There were lots of days in the beginning with lots of makeup and big colorful earrings. Kind of over that now, thankfully.

I'm nearly a year natural now and to be honest I haven't done a lot of experimenting with hair styles or products. I keep it pretty simple. I'm queen of the wash and go, nevermind the fact that it takes my hair several hours to dry. Now instead of smelling like sodium hydroxide, it smells of french lavender  conditioner, shea butter and coconut oil.



I've pretty much settled into this puff as my default style. It takes 5 seconds and I don't have to worry about it all day.


But, sometimes I feel sassy and do crazy things that never see the light of day. 



This was the first blow dry after six months natural. Go Fro! But, I've never gone out of the house like this.

Oh I finished those, don't worry! 


Obviously, I like the big hair. But, that doesn't mean I'm comfortable with it outside of my webcam.

This is a journey. One that is not yet complete. When I look at the relaxed hair, I still miss it. A lot. But, I  have a new freedom with the natural hair and it is much healthier.

This has been about discovery for me. Having my first relaxer at 5 meant I, along with many other black women, had absolutely no idea what my natural hair texture was. I spent my whole life being envious of curls, waves and coils, only to find out that I had them all along.

As I said, though, I'm still not quite comfortable with this hair. It's not even a year old yet, and I'll need more time to fully adjust. This has also been about self-acceptance. So, I'm working toward that, step by step.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

"It Breaks When You Don't Force It" (23/90)

It’s a whirlwind. 

This bad, destructive energy in me. I want to reach down in my chest and pull it out, throw it to the ground and stomp on it. I want it out.

I want everything to slow down.  I want to be clear-headed and focused.

I’m thinking back to the exercise that the doctor told me to practice.

“Take 2-3 minutes a day and just breathe,” he said.

This will be something you really have to practice, he told me.

I tried that today, for the first time on my own.  But, trying to slow down, when everything in you feels manic is, well, trying to say the least.

But, when I can do it, those few minutes, those breaths help to get me through the moment.

***
Tonight was a night that I’ve been thinking about for days now.

 One of the two high schools in my hometown is closing. It is the school that I always knew would be my alma mater. The house I grew up in was less than five minutes from the school. Far before my time, I knew the school song and had a wardrobe full of the school colors: black and plaid.

I went there for only a year before I moved. It was never mine the way I thought it would be.

My sister bought me a ticket in advance for the game tonight assuming that I’d want to go. So, I had to go. I knew this would be hard. I knew I would begin to wonder what my life would have been like had I stayed.

But, at the time all I could think about doing was leaving. The intensity of life here was more than I could handle.  There was embarrassment, shame and great pain. And I had to escape. I had to have something new.

I left my first real friend, all of my history and this world of familiarity to escape the moment.

***
I remember my first day at the new high school. I felt lighter than I had in a long time. I had the same feeling my first few months at Ball State. Everything was new. I was not grounded. No attachments. I was not known. And for a while that’s good.

Until there are nights like tonight.

I sat at that game with familiar faces all around me. But, I struggled to remember names. And when eye contact was made with one of those familiar faces, more than once, there was no recognition of my face.

This is what I feared. I knew the way it would hurt. Because this is an experience I keep having. One I keep choosing, when I choose to escape the moment.

Nothing feels like mine. Nowhere feels like home.

I’ve been back in my room now for over two hours. I’ve yet to take off my coat and boots. I’m not cold, I’m just thinking of leaving. There’s nowhere to be. But, right here, right now is too intense. 

I want to reach down in my chest and pull this emotion out. I want it out. I want to pick up my keys and drive until I’m too far away to care. I want to be light again. To be new. I want to escape this moment.

But, I know what I must do instead. Take off my coat, and my boots and breathe. And hope that these next few breaths will get me through this moment. 

Conscious Or Confident (22/90)

Today was an incredibly self-conscious day for one reason only: The hair.

For the first time in several months I wore the hair free, with no headband to hold it back or stretch the curls. I didn’t even bring a just-in-case headband, which was a bold move for me.

“You know why I don’t do this, right,” I said to my sister as we sat at dinner after she told me that she liked it.

“I can’t control it,” I said.

It has a mind of its own.

I spent the whole 40 minute drive to school this afternoon hoping that it would look the way that it did when I jumped out of the shower, looked in the mirror and decided to just let it be.

And it was. But, by the end of the night, it was not the hair that I was confident in when I looked in the mirror this morning.

***

There is a moment in childhood, once we are outside of the bubble of our homes that we realize that we are different. That our story is not always a shared story.

Mine wasn’t the day that I was called the “n” word as I waited to join the game of foursquare on the playground by a girl that I’d hoped would be my friend. Or the day that I realized I was the only kindergartner without a homemade lunch, rather $2.00 in a Ziploc bag in my backpack.

After having adjusted to the stares and requests to touch my hair from kids who had probably never seen a black girl before, mine came on a particular day in the classroom.

“Your hair stinks,” a little boy said as he sat at the desk behind me.

I had freshly relaxed hair, which means that day was probably a Monday after a Saturday visit to the salon. It was silky and straight with curls at the ends. After salon visits I was confident. I’m sure that I had been flipping my hair, twirling the ends and whipping my head around all day to be sure that everyone noticed the hair.  

I don’t remember what I did or said back, if anything.  I remember being so upset that the teacher took me outside to talk. She struggled as she tried to comfort me.

“You’re hair is so pretty today,” she said. “Let me smell”

She told me it didn’t stink of course. But she was lying. It smelled.  It smelled of chemicals that are not familiar to everyone’s nostrils. But as young as I was, after one Saturday a month in the salon, it was a smell that I no longer noticed.

I went back into the classroom and was still. I stopped flipping my hair, twirling the ends and shaking my head. The confidence I’d walked in with that day was gone.

***
This was one of the first of many reminders that I did not fit. And the very thing that made me feel like I did was the very thing that reminded others that I did not.  

This was not a black or white issue though.

I always kept my hair long and relaxed. 

I learned to anticipate the arguments from black girls that told me it that it was not mine. There were too many times that one would put her hand through my hair as if she was just enjoying it only to give a tug at the end that she’d hoped would reveal a lie.

I learned to keep it up in an inconspicuous bun except on special occasions. I learned to keep the curls pulled back with headbands.

I’ve chosen confidence over consciousness. The less I could get people to look, the more confident I would feel.

But despite my experiences, that choice is one I required of myself.  It’s one that I’ve grown tired of making.

Because there is no winning in this culture with this hair, unless the winning is inside of me. 

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Own My Own Terms (21/90)

To look or not to look? 

That was the question this morning that made my head spin as I sat in the doctor’s office wondering if I was ready to handle the number that would speak the unavoidable truth about me.

I’ve been hiding from the number. Along with the mirror and the new jeans that I need. Only recently have I been feeling bad about my body again. About the way that it feels, not the way that it looks.

It seems that I have grown mentally because I have been okay with the way that it looks lately. It’s not what I want it to be, and it never will be, but this is something I’m choosing to accept. Which doesn’t mean that I don’t have days that I can’t look in the mirror or days that I look down at my thighs spread out on my chair and embarrassedly shift my weight, crossing my legs and leaning on one hip, hoping to appear only half as big.

The door swung open and a dark-haired nurse with blue scrubs called my name and welcomed me behind the door where the scale was waiting. She was thin. I always get the thin nurses, who happen to be about my height, which means they will know without thinking what my weight should be.

The decision would have to be quick now. After thinking all night and all morning, I only had about a minute to actually decide.

I saw the scale, and I tried to pass it as I looked around for the open room she had prepared for me.

 “Oh, I need you to stop here so I can get your weight,” she said.  

“Oh, ok,” I said, as if I had just overlooked the scale.

I wondered if I should tell her that I didn’t want to see the number. That I would prefer she not say it out loud. I contemplated making a joke, as I slipped off my coat and my scarf and looked up at her and back down to my boots wondering how many pounds I could shed in this final moment. She stood there watching me impatiently, and offered no place for me to put my coat as I looked around for a coat rack or empty desk. I finally laid it on the floor behind me and stepped on the scale with my boots still on. It was a digital scale and the reader was hard to see. I had to lean forward to watch as the numbers flashed.

When it stopped, I was surprised. The number was 10 pounds less than I feel, 19 pounds more than I want it to be, and 29 pounds more than it should be.

I’ve only recently settled into what I want it to be. It’s possible that this came as the result of failure after failure of attempting to make it what it should be.

Last year I lost 20 pounds with 20 more to go before I'd reach my goal weight. A full load in summer school and just plain burnout put a stop to the madness and I stopped working out radically, counting my calories daily and weighing and measuring myself weekly.

This is not the first failure, or the first success. Two years ago I spent more money than a college kid should on a personal trainer in a ritzy gym in Tampa. I’d wake up at 5:00 a.m. and drive 45 minutes across town to make our training sessions.

Upon our first meeting she took my height, weight and body fat measurements.

“You’re too young to way that much,” she told me.

I felt sick and embarrassed standing there eying her perfect body outfitted in size extra small everything.

I know, I responded and told her that I wanted to lose thirty pounds with her help.

All the while I felt the need to justify myself and tell her that this hasn’t always been my body, or my struggle. I was anxious to show her that I am strong and athletically inclined.

I wanted space to show her the strength of my arms and legs and stomach muscles by doing back handsprings and tucks and jumps and tumbling combinations.

From that very first meeting on, our sessions became less about what I wanted and more about what I needed: her approval. 

She put me on an 800-calorie a day diet and I followed it to a tee. I would do our sessions in the morning and make the drive back after my day full of classes and work out again at night.

I was hell-bent on impressing her, and I did. She would push me each workout and I’d do whatever she asked and more. Several times I’d push myself so hard I’d throw up. She was proud on those days.

“I work that hard every workout,” she told me.

And that became my goal: To push myself to sickness. Every time.

But, when our sessions ran out, so did I. I was sick, over-trained and exhausted. I was also 10 pounds thinner with less body fat and more comfortable in my own skin but I had no one left to impress.

I joined a gym within walking distance of my home and never went. I convinced myself that the monthly withdrawals from my bank account would make me work out, but they were not enough.  I passed the gym several times a day, on my way in and out of the house, and I could not bring myself to go routinely. I made my way there only sporadically, on my days off from coaching or Saturday mornings or when the cute trainer was in.

Soon a friend asked me to join weight watchers with her, and I did. It was my second time joining the program. And the cycle began again. I measured my life in points anxiously awaiting the weigh-in days when the newly thin and overly perky leader would write my weight on my card. I would watch her face only though, searching for judgment or surprise.

And I was successful, until my obsession became overwhelming and completely exhausting.

Once again, this was not about me. This has never been about what I want for me. This obsession, this battle, was about what you thought of me, and what I wanted and needed you to think of me.

This battle will resume again soon, because that’s just the nature of the game. But, I must remember the freedom I feel now, to be what I want instead of what I want you to think I am.

I’m okay being 29 pounds more than I should be and 19 pounds more than I want to be.

The unavoidable truth about me is that I am whatever I choose to be.  And I will be whatever that is on my own terms. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Obsessions (20/90)

We're 20 days into the  90 in 90 challenge now. On day one, 20 seemed like it would never come. And 90 is still very far away, but I've settled in now. A few hours each day are reserved for writing, and this will continue, even beyond the 90 days.  It takes three weeks to create a habit, tomorrow is day 21.

What I didn't know on day one is that the writing wouldn't get easier. It actually gets harder because after about a week or two you've written all of the easy, surface stuff.  All of the stuff that keeps you from actually writing.

And then what?

I've been asked, over and over what kinds of stories do I want to tell?  What will the blog become? What's the theme?  These questions stumped me. I didn't know, I just wanted it to come from a real place.

Without realizing it, I've been writing about appearance and self-image quite a bit. This is what I'm interested in, these are the stories I want to tell, for now. I know this is right on because just thinking about it excites me, and I'm not easily excitable.

 For the first time in 20 days, I've already got plans for the next few posts. And, I'll be building a social media project around this idea. I'll be asking people to share their stories of their struggles with their appearance, self-image, and the ways that they use their appearance to express their individuality.

But, it wouldn't be right of me to ask for such openness and honesty from people without doing the same.

***
I looked through a ton of pictures of myself in preparation for this blog post. There are two things that I looked at first in each picture. First, my weight. It is constantly fluctuating, and it makes me cringe most of the time. Second, my hair. Most of the pictures I have were intentionally taken on good hair days.

These are major obsessions with my appearance: weight and hair.

These things don't just happen though. Tomorrow, I'm going to start dealing with the first.

***
I've got a doctors appointment in the morning. And while I should be  nervous about it for different reasons there's one thing circling in my mind. The scale. I've chosen not to worry about my weight for now, because I've got no more room for worry.

But, first thing in the morning I've got to get on the scale and face what I've been avoiding. I already know the range of thoughts and emotions I'll face, which still leaves me ill-prepared.

Weight has been an obsession in my life. For as long as I can remember. And, my trying not to obsess, is actually obsession. *Sigh*

But tomorrow, I'll be open about why. And, I'll share some of the pictures that make me cringe.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

As It Is (19/90)

I won't try to make this cryptic. Or deep. Or any of the other expectations I put on myself.

Here it is, as it is.

I'm struggling. A lot.

Depression.
I've got this overwhelming sadness that keeps eclipsing the little moments of happiness and excitement that find their way into my life. All I want right now is to be outside of my head. Outside of myself

 I feel so alone. And I feel powerless to fix that.  It's not about being around people, because I'm around great people, all the time. That's a blessing. But again, it's not about being around people. It's about feeling known. Close. Understood.

I have to admit that I am jealous of all of the amazing friendships and relationships that I see all around me. I'm jealous of the conversations in which the silences are not filled with hurried words or uneasy sighs, because there is comfort in the silence.   I'm jealous of the hugs between lovers, being wrapped in someone's arms and held, just because. I'm jealous of the friendships that allow total freedom of expression, where you can say exactly what you feel.

I really don't feel like any of these things are in my near future.

I've been here before. It's a struggle that I am a little ashamed of. I don't want people to think I'm weak.  I am a lot of things, but I'm not weak.

And yet, I can't get control of this thing that is trying to take me out. It's a fight that feels unwinnable.

Anxiety.
There is a lot of this in me. Which is what makes this a fun little ride to be on. In the lowest moments my head is still spinning, racing with thoughts that I can't control.
It’s an exhausting way to live. It’s always a struggle to fall asleep and my heart is almost always beating too fast. 

I’m scared about what happens next.

I feel like I won’t be able to get a job after graduation. I’m scared that I won’t be accepted to any of the writing programs that I apply to. I’m worried that I’ll have to spend my life doing something I hate. And I’m worried that if all of these fears are actually false, and good times are ahead of me, that I’ll spend them feeling as alone as I do now.

I feel like I’m here watching as the lives of everyone around me become full and move forward. Soon, there won’t even be anyone to watch.

But.
These are all feelings. And they are real, for me. But, I'm choosing to focus on a few good things. Facts.  Which are even more real.

  •         My copy of David Foster Wallace's Consider The Lobster has been shipped and is on the way. I can't wait to start reading it. The estimated arrival is Friday, which leads me to another great thing.
  •        Reading Day this Friday.  On reading days I get to hang out with writers and talk writing and eat pancakes (all thanks to Brad.) Fridays are my favorite days.
  •       My Social Media project is in the works. I've got a great idea that I hope will be of some value to people. I'm not worried about how many, but I want it to be helpful to someone. I'll be focusing on Appearance: our struggles with it and the expressions of our individuality through it.  I want to create a space where people feel celebrated for their individuality and little less alone in their struggles.
  •        Spring Break is right around the corner. I'll spend ten days in Tampa with my mom and friends. I'll spend many of those days by the water, on the beach or at the Bayshore. And there will be sunshine, which I love.
I’ve shared all of this for a reason, a couple reasons actually. First, I’m not ok with being ashamed about my struggles, that would say that I think other people should be ashamed too, and I don’t. So, not being ashamed is a fight I’m winning.

 Secondly, this is for accountability sake. It’s easy for me to hide; I do a pretty good job of that. I’m pretty good at pretending too, which won’t get me anywhere with this.  This is something I must deal with. Tomorrow I’m going to make a doctor’s appointment. As much as I’ve gone back and forth with this, I was reminded today that asking for help is ok; needing help is ok.  I’m not sure what will come of it I just know that I could use a hand with this one.  And I’m writing this because if I don’t, I won’t call.

These are the punches I’m throwing in a fight that feels unwinnable. 

Through


This is all too familiar. I've been desperately searching for the way out. And could see no answer.

I'm caught. All my running has been run; all my fighting has been fought.

Life is  repeating in a way that confirms: My only way out is through. 

Monday, February 15, 2010

Companion (18/90)

I wish this wasn’t real. That this wasn’t me.  And it’s possible that it isn’t real and this isn’t me. But it’s too hard to tell because the lines between what I feel and what actually is have been blurred. So, for right now, it makes no difference.

Still, I’m ashamed. And I should keep this inside, only I’m afraid that it will smother the little bit of happiness that has found its way in this cold, empty, dark space.

There is a hesitance in this happiness, reluctance in realizing the possibilities before me.  I want the possibilities, desperately. I’ve even convinced myself that they are all I need. Because I fear they’ll be all I have.

But happiness needs a companion.

***

“We all just want to be loved,” she said in a tone that made me think those words were more a reminder for her than for me.  Those words were for justifying days gone by. Reserved for forgiveness of mistakes made, forgotten and then remembered again.

I wouldn’t need those words, I knew better. I was convinced that there was something ahead of me. Someone worth waiting for, worth being excited about.

 I haven’t gotten there, though.  And I’m not sure that I will. I’ve given up on the idea that I’ll find something real. Something that resonates deep on the inside, that makes sense through and through.

But I’m young, you may be thinking. And you’re right. But I’ve realized that there are some parts of our lives that just don’t change. There is a place in me that has always felt the same. Empty, longing, lonely. And people will come, because they do. But, they will go, because they do.

My longing for them to stay is dangerous. And the day came that I had to make justifications of my own.  A day that I decided that there’s a time when it’s ok to spill your secrets to strangers, just because they’re there. A time when it makes sense to be held without being loved. There’s a time when passionless kisses are enough.

Because they may be all I have.

***
 I am a difficult, complicated person overall. This I know. There are things about me that I don’t expect to be understood or appreciated. There are things that I fight with and should fight with alone.

And yet, there is a little bit of happiness that has found its way into this cold, empty dark space. And I want it to stay

Because it may be all I have.

Happiness needs a companion, as do I.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Full Of Excitement (17/90)

Today has been an incredibly awesome day! Here's why: Thanks to a lot of help from Brad I've gotten gotten a start on my project for my social media class. And, I've finally got an idea of what kinds of stories I want to tell. Really, this is an awesome day! I'm full of an excitement that my mind can't quite keep up with, which is really a great problem to have. 

So, my writing for today is on that blog on the "About" page.  Take a look around, and don't hesitate to join in the fun! 

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Look (16/90)

“It’s getting late, how much longer can you hide.”-  The Great Debaters

My Dad is  having trouble looking at me today.

I’ve got in a new nose ring that I just bought yesterday. It’s much bigger and more noticeable than the tiny stud I’ve kept in for a while now.

“Hey,” I said as I passed him on my way into the laundry room.

“Hey,” he said as he glanced up.

I walked back in to where he sat and watched as his eyes caught the ring in my nose and his brow furrowed a bit. I left to get coffee for the both of us, and when I returned I sat his on the TV tray sitting in front of him.

“Does it have sugar in it,” he asked after a sip, looking into the kitchen where I stood.

“Mine does,” I said. “Do you want some sugar?”

Before he could answer I grabbed a handful of Equal packets and a spoon and walked them over to him. I watched him looking again at my nose, as if he needed to be sure of what he was seeing.As I got closer his eyes shifted decidedly from my face to the packet and spoon in my outstretched hand.

It’s as though eye contact would have been just a bit too much.

***

I was coming down the escalator in the Indianapolis airport and he was waiting at the bottom near the baggage carousels. When I saw him I got nervous, and was glad that I could hide under the hat I’d decided to throw on at the last minute.

When I reached the bottom I hugged him and we began to chat about my trip.After our conversation had died down, and we were still waiting on my bag I got the courage to hint at my newness.

“I need to stop by Wal-Mart on the way home,” I said.

“For what,” he asked.

“I need to get some things for my hair,” I answered.

Why can’t that wait, he asked me.

Because I just cut all my hair off and I need to get new headbands and products tonight, I said agitated.

“Why would you do that,” he asked, with that same furrowed brow.

I should have been prepared for that response. It was the reason I’d worn the hat, the reason I was nervous on the flight home.

“Because I wanted to,” I said.    

“Who are you trying to be like,” he asked. “Is Shayna’s hair like that?”

Yeah, but that’s not why, I said.

“I’ve been growing my hair out for eight months, what did you think I was going to do,” I asked him agitatedly.

The next day the hat came off, as I began adjusting to this outward expression of an inward transformation. I expected to hear what people thought, and I did. All day. Then, I went home and gave him the chance to see, and he was silent. For two weeks he could not look.

“What did Dad say,” my sister asked me over the phone.

“He hasn’t said anything,” I told her.  “He can’t even look at me.”

She burst into laughter. And I joined her.

***
I imagine that he’s not looking because he can’t. And that’s understandable. It must be hard to watch as I become so different. And these little things like the piercings, the hair, are just symbols of a much larger transformation.

Somewhere along the way I assumed the role of protector of both of my parents. And I tried to be the easy child, the one that you wouldn’t have to worry about. For this reason, there are things I will not say, or that I will not let you hear me say. There are things that I will keep doing, so it appears that I am who you want me to be.

But, the truth is that you are not mine to protect. And you are strong enough to handle my truth, and I've made that easy to see.

If you choose to look.

Friday, February 12, 2010

"Basically, I'm Complicated" (15/90)

Today I had to take the Myers-Briggs personality assessment for my Marketing class.

Now, it's not often that I get worked up about things like this.  But this really got to me, and as I was anticipating taking the test for the past week or so I’ve been trying to figure out why.

It could be that I had to pay $25 for the thing when there are several free versions available; in the career center on campus, online-- oh look, here’s one for you to try if you so desire. Granted, mine will be a bit more in-depth but I won’t get the results until next week and you could get a satisfactory understanding in five minutes. I mean come on, it’s 2010 let’s learn to use our resources.

But it’s not just that, there’s more.

I’m extremely interested in Psychology. Only two years ago I was a Psych major trying to decide whether to pursue clinical or counseling psychology. In the meantime I was planning a life around this career I’d hoped to have. I knew the clinic I wanted to intern and then work at in Destin, Florida.

And then, I was made aware of the harsh realities of the field that I was pursuing when a family member began dealing with mental illness. That’s one of those things that no matter how much you read about or watch movies about and try to understand on your own, you will never truly understand until you come face to face with someone that’s struggling, really struggling, to gain control of a tormented mind.

Let’s just say this, dealing with people with mental illness is serious. And while incredibly rewarding, it is draining on every level. As is counseling. Rewarding and worthwhile, but draining.

Just from the little bit of life experience I’ve had so far I know that I have a tendency to internalize other people’s pain. Those I am close to and care about I hold in my heart constantly. Foe that reason I don’t mind not  having a ton of close attachments in my life. I think it’s much more rewarding to be there completely for a few people than to be a there a little for a lot of people.

I’ve said all that only to say that I am fascinated by the field of Psychology and continue to be a student of it on my own, reading all manners of studies that I come across.  I am not ignorant of the brilliance or  the flaws of personality testing.

This isn’t really about that. This bothers me on another level.

Let’s look at a few of the questions that I caught myself lingering on for a bit too long.

This is the way we got started, and I was already a little upset.

“How satisfied are you with your life as a whole these days?”

            Would you say you are:
                        -Not at all happy
                        -Not very
                        -Rather
                        -Very

Now, I checked "rather happy". But, these are ill-defined terms. I’ve compartmentalized my life. In some aspects I’m very happy, in others not at all happy. So, I’m assuming on the whole the best way to characterize that is to choose neutrally, but what is neutral here? Is it not very happy or rather happy?

I chose not to look borderline depressed and chose "rather happy".

So, then I finished up the preliminary questions in which they tried to get a general feel for me, on to the first of the 144 questions. The first few weren’t so bad.

Here’s the next question that made my stomach tighten a bit:

“Are you usually a good “mixer” or rather quiet and reserved?

Well, it depends. It depends on my mood, on who else is in the mix and what kind of function it is.

So, despite all of these things I begrudgingly chose “quiet and reserved” Ignoring the fun, flirty, outgoing girl that I am when I get in a group of good folks that I trust.

Here’s another:

In reading for pleasure do you enjoy odd or original ways of saying things or like writers to say exactly what they mean?

Well, uh that depends on what I want at the time. But you know, depends or both isn’t an answer. Sigh.

Finally, I moved on to pairing questions. I was asked to choose which set of words in the pair was more appealing. Here's an example: 

                        Strong-willed 
                        Tender hearted

I am both. Not an answer, of course.

I got to the end feeling frustrated, which was furthered by the fact that I’d have to wait for a week to know just who I am according to Myers and Briggs.

But this is not my first personality test. I took a Personality class last year in which we took several different personality tests. Even before that I’d taken several personality tests on my own. They are fascinating. And for the most part quite accurate.

I can tell you that according to Personality Plus, I am Choleric-Melancholy. I’ll be honest, knowing that did help me to understand myself a bit. I do agree that understanding one’s own temperament is important in that it allows us to build on our strengths and work with our weaknesses.

I’m not sure that I agree that it is a good measure of where we should be career wise or whom we should be with.

I first took the Personality Plus test in a church group with some friends and a “mentor”. There’s a reason for the quotations, I know now that that title wasn’t befitting of that person, but we’ll get to that some other time.

So, I got the results of this test, Choleric-Melancholy, that’s me.

The “mentor” then says aloud as we were standing outside the church, “So, how does a choleric-melancholy fit into my life?”

This was a serious question, and I should have known right then and there to sever this relationship, but only hindsight is 20/20, so I did not.

This personality typing was a big theme in our toxic relationship. Everything I did, everything, was attributed to my personality type. I was constantly told to strive toward being more Sanguine and praised for being Choleric.

I was always too much and simultaneously not enough.

The days that I was Sanguine, I was loved. The days that I was melancholy, I was a burden. The days that I was choleric, I was praised. And, well I am rarely if ever Phlegmatic.
 But understand, these days when I am something other than Choleric-Melancholy are great. I, like all of us, am a complicated creature. I, like all of us, am not easily generalized.

I am not a personality type. I am all of the intricacies and “it depends” and the “well, sometimes” it is all of those variants make me who I am.

I am fine with personality testing on the whole. I’d even encourage you to take the Myers-Briggs and the Personality Plus; both are wonderful resources and help us get to know ourselves.

But, lets not take the easy way out on getting to know other people. Don’t take Myers and Briggs word on it, dig a little deeper and find out who the people around you are.

We are fascinating, all of us, thanks to the little surprises and intricacies. Let’s not overlook those things. 

I Think I'm Ready (14/90)

All week I've fully intended on wearing my hair fluffy, funky and free. And yet, have not. 

I even laid out the clothes I’ve been waiting to wear with the big hair and big earrings. The ones that say that I am confident and sassy, which I am.  Sometimes.

 On Sunday I spent over an hour prepping the hair; combing out the curls, parting, sectioning and finally blow-drying it straight, or as straight as is possible now. And when I say finally, I just mean that step two is now complete. In preparation for the morning, I re-sectioned the hair and braided it so that in the morning I could take down the braids and welcome waves.

If this sounds like a backward and complicated process, it is. Even more so because this is all new to me.

***
“I want to be free too,” I told my friend only half-jokingly as we sat on her couch in New York City.

She had just finished getting ready for the day, her head full of golden brown curls still dripping from the ends.

“Then do it,” she said as if it were just that easy.

I was eight months into growing out my relaxer, intrigued by the waves and curls growing from my head but weighed down by the chemically straightened ends. Years and years of weight, that I'd toyed with releasing for years.



"You should do it while you're here in the city," she told me. "I can do it for you."

"I think I'm ready," I said. "Let me think about it for a while."

And I did, I thought about it for a while; the reaction I would receive from my peers on campus when I returned from Spring Break, what my Dad would say, if the boys would stop looking, if certain black girls would laugh and turn their noses up, if people would say things that they didn't intend to be offensive and hurtful.

***
 But after all that,  I did it.  On a whim after a week in The  City.  It was 1 a.m., just after a party with a bunch of funky, artsy Juilliard students. I was inspired. I was ready.  

I washed my hair to make the line of demarcation clear, that fine line between the truth and the lye, revealing the curls that had been waiting for 16 long years to be free. 

I sat on the hard-wood floor on top of a sheet, for easy clean-up of the hair I would be shedding. I took a deep- breath as my friend took the scissors in her hand. 

I bit down on my lip as I heard the metal blades of the scissors meet, clamping down on my security. 

From that first chop, I sat silently and still trying not to watch as the hair fell quickly from my head. When she finished I sat still on the floor, and finally took a look around at the hair surrounding me. 

The one thing I've always taken pride in, the reason I was called beautiful, my glory on the floor at my feet. 

"Should I be freaking out right now," I asked jokingly trying to snap out of my shock. 

"No, just go look in the mirror," she said. 

I walked slowly through that narrow hallway, flipped the light switch on in the bathroom and stood, looking at my self in the mirror. Lye free. 

I was speechless, my jaw still hanging as I walked back through the hallway to my friend.


"It's going to take some getting used to," she said.

And she was right. I went to bed that night still full of questions. And full of freedom.  

*** 
I had a flight to catch in the morning, I got ready quickly my curls springing into place with ease. There was no fight that morning, they were free finally. I was free. 

And yet, I pulled a hat over my head when I went out, not quite ready to stand bare before the world. 

It took a while to get used, just as she said it would. Nearly a year after The Big Chop I still catch glimpses of this hair in the mirror and linger for a bit, speechless. 

And sometimes I plan to let it be fluffy and funky and free, only to pull it back just before it's time to leave the house. Not yet ready to stand bare before the world. 

But, there is a freedom I'm dying to  explore, truth to be discovered.

And I think I'm ready. Just let me think about it for a while. 
  

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

When I Wake (13/90)

I last slept on Monday, for three hours. I am an insomniac, it is something I’ve accepted. And it’s only a real drag when the sleepless nights turn to days and then to  nights again.  But this round is almost over now. I will sleep soon, my mind finally as worn as my body.

The anxiety that lodged itself in my chest cavity has fallen. I am breathing easier now. There is a subtle excitement that has crept up on me. I am not sure where it came from, but it is  here now, and it is welcome.

Tonight there is hope in this emptiness, because it is new.

I’ve been holding back. There is more in me, I know. This is not a head-knowledge, it emerged  from someplace else, someplace settled. It is this that allows me  the freedom to fall over and over again and still believe. It is this that keeps pulling me back to the writing because there is more, always more, even when the words come slowly, the way they often do. It is this that keeps pushing me through my insecurity and fear.

This is not about success or failure. This is not about being first or last. This is about something much simpler, far more true. This is about allowing myself to  breathe easier as I  accept that this is not my last bout with insomnia.  Or fear. Or insecurity. But this round is almost over now.

And when I wake, I will inhale this excitement and push forward. 

Speculation (12/90)

For so long I've  judged my mother for things I could not understand. 

At home she was solemn, spent too much time in her bedroom, and had trouble finishing things she’d started around the house.  And I was critical.

The outside world got the best of her, her students, extended family, her friends. She was vibrant and funny and then she’d come home, and just be. And for too long, that wasn’t enough for me.  I’d bug her for not smiling or laughing or hugging like I watched her do for everyone else.

And I was always watching. I felt slighted and unworthy of her best.

I was always, in a number of different ways, begging for more.

***
This is how it starts. Or this could be the end. The waves come so quickly that it’s hard to analyze rightly. I can only say for sure that I am in it, or I am under it.

But, I am fighting.

I spent the day hating myself for my seeming inability to keep this in check. My energy was focused solely on keeping it together. I am tired and tearful and shaky. I’ve desperately needed my own space; a quiet place where I can just be.

I am perplexed by the variance in my emotions without reason. On these days there is a constant raging battle between what I know and what I feel.  This is not who I am. Not at all who I wish to be. This is exactly who I said I’d never be.

***
I can’t help but wonder if she was under it too. I wonder if she was fighting. I imagine that the hours  she spent alone in her bedroom she was desperately hoping for sleep, just as I was tonight.

I wonder if when she was quiet and needed to be alone she was actually trying to protect me from this darkness. I wonder if this pain I’m carrying is even my own. I wonder what I must have made her feel like when I begged for energy and threw fits when she stared at me blankly or watched TV as I tried to converse with her.  

I wonder if she even had anything left to give.

***
I am not sure that I can handle such truths now. What I speculate to be her truth is enough for me to be sorry and wish that I hadn’t taken everything so personally.  I wish that I could have had some sort of understanding of the nature of this storm. I wish that I hadn’t given up on making her smile or laugh or  stopped reaching out for hugs.  

I have to believe that she was fighting, as I am now.

And I wish that were enough.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Frenzy

It's just past midnight, I'm sitting at my desk trying to talk myself into being proactive and doing another two hours of homework before I climb into bed and surrender to this headache.

My mind is a bit frenzied. I was startled when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. My hair wild and frizzy, my eyes darkened by smudged mascara. I could blame the Triple Grande Caramel Macchiato for this all of this, but I’d be lying.

I am stuck in this moment that has drudged on since Sunday. Literally, a moment, five minutes turned days.  The same song has since been playing on my iPod providing some sense of comfort and stability as I listen passively trying to wrap my head around what is real and what is perceived.

 Which is silly, because for me there is no difference, no distinction. There is however, a palpable pain. One that I must locate and name.

The writing helps. Or maybe it doesn't. I'm not sure yet. There is some madness involved in translating what I understand only viscerally to something intelligible. Not for you, but for me.  

There are things that I am struggling to define. There are things I will not understand, I assume, until I move beyond this moment.

 This is confusing I’m sure. I have broken the structure that I have been attempting to work with. I have given you a story without a beginning or an end because those are unclear to me now.

I am somewhere in the middle with the beginning too far back and the end too far ahead.

But now it is just past 2 a.m, which means that this moment is indeed passing, the way that moments do.