29
Jun 17

How a Resurrection Really Feels

To explain the current state of my life, I’m going to need to pinch a The Hold Steady song title. But like, if you’re here, you know that’s what I do.

How a Resurrection Really Feels

A lot has changed since my last post. Basically, I’ve purged a lot of stuff, got some new stuff, put all that stuff in a new location, and I’m building new routines.

I have found my swinging bachelorette pad.
To be fair, it’s not really that swinging. In fact, I spend the majority of Friday nights washing my towels. I do this because I bought what I thought were nice towels. But they are actually fuzz dispensers. So, when I use these nice, fluffy black towels to dry my body after a shower, they cover me in a layer of fuzz. The internet said that if I washed them with vinegar or baking soda that all would be fixed.

This is false.

I’ve washed them twice with vinegar, and twice with baking soda, and once I even mixed some vinegar and baking soda in the washing machine like I was making a science fair volcano. Still covered in fuzz post-shower. I washed them about 8 times regularly. Nothing is working, so I’m pretty much doomed to a life of washing towels in the vain hope that they will no longer leave me looking like a swarthy muppet when I get out of the shower.

This is what I get for trying to buy nice towels.

Rosie and I have been walking A LOT.
If you’re my friend on Fitbit, (you should totally add me!) then you may have noticed this already. Basically, when I moved, Rosie was pretty anxious so I took her for some extra walks here and there. This has turned into a 4-5 walks a day habit.

And, while I’m definitely glad for it since I’m pretty sedentary, I have to say the worst time of year to get into the habit of walking extra is during the sweaty summer. (Sorry to everyone who has hung out with me and been too polite to mention how terrible I stink.) But you try telling that to a dog that needs to smell everything in your new neighborhood at least 4 times a day. I suspect the only reason that she wants as many walks as she does is to ensure that I have to bag her poop at least twice a day.

This is probably her punishing me for the breakup.

I’ve been going out quite often for a 30-something spinster.
My new house is walking distance from downtown and from Campus Corner, so naturally I’ve been inviting everyone to park at my house so we can walk to get dinner and drinks. It’s been pretty nice, and it’s nice to never have to find parking.

Also, real talk: I can put away the cheese fries like you wouldn’t even believe. But if you have to walk half a mile to get them and half a mile back, you don’t feel so bad about eating roughly 1,500 calories in a meal. It’s also worth noting that I NEVER feel bad for eating 1,500 calories in a meal, but I know that not everyone has separated guilt/shame from food that simply exists without a moral motivation.

And most importantly, I’ve been blown away by the kindness of friends.
It seems that the little extended family I’ve built for myself is pretty badass. So, shout out to anyone who helped me move or took me to dinner or basically ensured that I didn’t sit around and wallow in my own self-pity.

Special thanks go to Allie for getting me a TV, to Nicole for sending me the nicest box of tea, and to Michael for sending me a copy of Miranda Pennington’s A Girl Walks Into a Book. (I haven’t started it yet, but really can’t wait!)

So know that all is well in the world, and I’m contemplating some pretty big life changes, as one does when the world gets turned upside down like a snow globe and all the little sparkly flecks fall into new places. And while I’m thinking of changing up even more, know that I’ll still be back here at this blog on a regular-for-me basis. (I’ll be posting, but don’t even try to hold me to a schedule because I will not have it.)

So with that, I leave you. Know that I’m alive and well and completely back from the dead.

Thanks for sharing!
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10
May 17

A Breakup Story

This breakup story starts on a Thursday. The Thursday in question was perhaps, the worst Thursday of my life. Though, admittedly, the breakup was only part of that.

A Breakup Story

This past semester, I’ve been teaching an extra class. And that fifth class took place Thursdays from 6 PM to 8:50 PM. And since Thursdays are the last day of my week, they were always a little arduous.

Imagine if your Fridays required you to be a functional human for a really long time. That’s what it’s like.

Anyway, I came home carrying extra bags of library books and an umbrella. The day itself had been gross simply because it was one of the most humid days in recent memory, and I was covered in several layers of sweat that had dried throughout various times in the day.

My clothes, for the record, smelled like the cast iron skillet of onions and bell peppers that accompany your order of fajitas.

This Thursday was also the final day before my students would be turning in their formal reports. It’s always a harrowing time, simply because no matter how much time you give your students, they will wait until the last minute to ask questions. So in addition to giving tests in my two classes, I had 3 hours worth of questions in my office hours. I tweeted about it.

After office hours I grabbed nachos in the student union, because you get to eat nachos when you’re worn out. And if you work on a college campus, you get to eat like a college kid. It’s in the employee handbook.

Then I went to my class, gave a test, and let the students leave when they were finished.

And when I got home that night — that’s when the breakup happened.

I don’t feel it’s right to say all the reasons why, because some of them are Chris’s reasons, and not my story to tell. But I will say this: The breakup was probably a long time coming.

Which feels weird to type after posting about house hunting, but like, I guess forever decisions like mortgages make you take stock, and had Chris not done so, I probably never would’ve either.

All that is to say that yes, Chris is the one that brought it up. He stood at the kitchen table just minutes after I walked in the door that night. As I put something in the trashcan right next to the table, I asked him what was up, because he looked super anxious.

And that’s when he did it.

There were no major fights or blowups. There were no big red flags. There were no conversations with friends over drinks about all the problems we were having.

Because there weren’t any major problems, nor have there ever really been. Chris and I are really good friends. And we always will be, at least I hope. But we’re not meant to be together.

We’re like a reverse When Harry Met Sally.

And I think we both knew that the relationship itself had been on autopilot for a really long time. It’s kind of like we had built up enough momentum over the years and we were able to just coast for the past few years.

But coasting and momentum are no way to live.

If we hadn’t broken up when we did, I’m sure we would’ve gotten married. I’m sure we would’ve had a couple of kids. And I’m sure that we would be the couple that gets divorced when we were in our fifties because the kids had grown up and we no longer had anything in common.

I can’t say that it’s been easy, because it hasn’t. And I haven’t told many people. (If you’re getting the news of the breakup via this post, and you feel slighted, sorry, I guess. But also, I owe you nothing.)

The breakup itself hurt. I cried. But I gotta be real. The minute Chris did it, I exhaled. It was like a small weight had been lifted. Because I think we both felt that we were moving in this direction. But I’m glad Chris did it, because I don’t think I could’ve.

See, in the sober light of day, we aren’t the same as we were almost 7 years ago when we met. I was 24, a bartender, and barely capable of being a human. He was 30, fresh out of a divorce, and just going to a bar to blow off steam on a Monday night. Neither of us were looking for a relationship, but, well, life happens.

In those years we’ve been together, we’ve changed dramatically. And though we’ve pretty much grown in the same direction as friends, we aren’t in love anymore.

I think here is a good place for me to say that I’m not posting this to solicit advice. In fact, I rarely, if ever, solicit advice. I know some will say that there are natural ebbs and flows in relationships, and that Chris and I should just stick it out. But as my friend Mari said, when you know, you know. And I know we’re doing the right thing.

So, I dealt with my emotions the way I always do — on Twitter.

I am a garbage millennial, always on the social media. WRING YOUR HANDS AT MY LIFE, BOOMERS.

But other things that have helped during this time are:

  • Bingeing 13 Reasons Why on Netflix. I absolutely hated the show, thought it was poorly done, and tried too hard to be deep and serious, all while paying lip service to actual issues. But, hey! A breakup can’t be worse than having to be the overly tattooed 20-something pretending to be a high schooler for a show that will probably go down in history as one of the worst portrayals of mental illness and revenge fantasies. So, there’s that.

  • Reading Fat Girl Walking by Brittany Gibbons. I love Brittany’s blog, and her general attitude toward life. Plus, she’s relatable, so much so that I can imagine us meeting up for nachos and margaritas to gossip and just bitch about life. (Second nachos reference in this post, because I use food to deal with life.)
  • Listening to The Minimalists podcast. If you ever find yourself in a life situation where you’re going to need to pack up all your crap to make a life change in the very near future, it’s so much easier when you’re listening to Josh and Ryan answer questions about the process of downsizing and getting rid of crap. Bonus points for how soothing it is too.
  • Grading papers. I seriously went through all the papers I had to grade in 9 days. That’s a new personal record. But it’s so much easier to get work done when you don’t really want to be alone with your thoughts.
  • Talking about writing. Thankfully, I was able to attend the OWFI conference this past weekend, and just being there felt really energizing. It’s great to know that there are people in the world who are into what you’re into, and that they believe in you even when everything else is falling apart. Also, as if the universe needed to remind me that everything is a very small, closed circle, it was announced that Jay Asher, the author of the book 13 Reasons Why, will be the keynote at next year’s conference. Weird, huh?

As for future plans, I’m slowly making them.

I’m still house hunting, but for a very different type of house. Me and Rosie, the greatest dog in the universe, need a swingin’ bachelorette pad.

I also plan to put a lot of time and energy into writing. Chris didn’t prevent me from writing, but I was in a really comfortable place in our relationship, and I definitely didn’t focus on artistic growth in the way I should’ve. It’s time to stop coasting.

Fitness is going back on the radar too. I mean, it’s always on the radar because I am a woman in a First World country, and I’ve been conditioned to believe I’m garbage if I don’t obsess about fitness in a pathological way. But I’m looking forward to establishing a new workout routine.

As for dating again, I’m sure it will happen eventually. But for now, I’m going to respectfully decline all your offers to hook me up with that one single guy from your office/church/homeowner’s association/fantasy football league/biker gang. I’m really good at being single, and after 7 years of being in a relationship, I’m really looking forward to being single again.

Thanks for sharing!
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03
May 17

The 10 Stages of My Writing Process

The writing process is a mythical one. It’s a lot of emotional drudgery painstakingly scrawled on Post-Its purloined from former employers on my way out. It’s a lot half-full cups of cold coffee sloshing over the rim of the mug as I attack my keyboard with the fervor of 1000 feral cats. It’s a lot of hours spent on Twitter when I feel I deserve a break that inevitably morphed into a full-on procrastination sesh.

The Writing Process

And yeah. I guess my writing process is also about writing? Sometimes.

With the annual OWFI conference taking place in OKC this weekend, I thought I’d outline my writing process for your enjoyment.

If you’re like me, then you have that restless spring time antsy-ness and you want to dive into a project like Scrooge McDuck dives into his vault. But, again, if you’re like me, your writing process (particularly during spring time antsy-ness) won’t allow it.

You, my friend, are not alone. (If you’ve figured out how to master this weirdness and actually be productive, then I want you to know that you’re not my friend. you’re a mortal enemy and I will light your socks on fire.)

The 10 Stages of My Writing Process Click To Tweet

Anyway, without further ado, here are the 10 stages of my writing process.

001: Manic Ideation
During this phase, ALL MY IDEAS ARE MADE OF GOLD. Generally, this is when I’m scrawling like mad in a notebook, and my pen doesn’t leave the paper — that’s how manic it is. And, after I’ve filled 30 pages with these GOLDEN IDEAS, I start to think that not only am I the greatest and best writer in the world, but that I’m well on my way to the Nobel in Literature.

002: Diligent Procrastination
Generally speaking, I really wear myself out in the manic ideation stage of the writing process. I’m mentally and emotionally spent afterward, and my pen is generally out of ink. when I’m diligently procrastinating, I like to take some time to refill the well, so to speak. So I read books and binge on Netflix, with the notion that I need to replenish my inspiration stores. However, once those stores are replenished, I tend to continue my diligent procrastination on Twitter and YouTube.

003: Furtive Research
The furtive research stage is all about getting down to business. I’m ready to work! Only, those solid gold ideas from stage 001? Yeah. Not really gold. More like gold-plated. Or like, probably aluminum-plated. Because in the sober light of day, NOTHING IS EVER GOOD AND I’M A FAILURE. So I do some research. And this research is like the undergirding for the haphazard railway structure some fly-by-night monorail salesman sold me. <Simpson’s Reference That References Music Man.jpg>

004: Quixotic Outlining
Outlining is inherently quixotic because it’s when you take all those scrawled nonsense bits you thought were gold, and mix them with your research to DREAM THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM. What’s that dream? For me, it’s a novel. For you, it might be a new type of chip dip that uses Dippin’ Dots technology. (LIVE YOUR DREAM AND IF THAT’S DIPPIN’ DOTS-STYLE DIP FOR YOUR CHIPS, THEN LIVE YOU MAGICAL FIEND, LIVE.) The outlining stage is full of hope and wonder and I can conquer the world, or you know, just complete a hella big-ass project. And it’s quixotic because just like Don Quixote, you don’t see what’s really there. Like, I don’t see all the plot holes — I just see possibilities. The outline is where you tilt at them windmills, y’all.

The outlining stage is full of hope and wonder and I can conquer the world. #amwriting Click To Tweet

005: Vehement Denial
This is the part where I remind myself I’m not a writer. That master’s degree was a big ol’ lie, and my brain is actually full of instant mashed potatoes. (If you’ve read this post, then you know this is where I live.) In this stage, I realize fully that I’m Alonso Quijano, and my Rocinante of a novel idea is a terrible old horse. (One that probably kicks kids right in the teeth.)

(I’m from Oklahoma. I know an absurd amount of people who had their teeth kicked out by horses as children.)

006: Smooth Starting
Denial be damned! I get started with my novelin’. And the first scene is always so easy to write. I open a blank document and go to town. And before I know it, I have something that may, at some point, be a viable chapter. It feels really good and like maybe I’m not a failure at the only dream I’ve ever had! If only every stage could be like this…

007: Emotional Breakdown
BUT THE START IS THE ONLY SMOOTH PART BECAUSE I NEED TO SPEND LIKE 40% OF MY WRITING PROCESS JUST STRAIGHT UP CRYING I GUESS. Honestly, I’m not sure why I do this, but I’m also pretty sure that like, all writers do this? Maybe all artists do this. When you put so much time and energy into something that will never match the vision you have in your head, you’re really just setting yourself up for big ol’ crying jags.

008: REVENGE
This is where I curse everyone I’ve ever known. My writing is coming for you, and you deserve it because you may have wronged me at some time and you deserve to be taken out and metaphorically stoned in the streets. BY MY WORDS!

009: Existential Contemplation
This is the point where I acknowledge that choosing the life of a writer means I need therapy. Also, can I continue to live my life like this? DO I EVEN WANT TO? UGH WHY DOES IT EVEN MATTER IF I DO ANYTHING I’M A BODY WITHOUT ORGANS AND WHO CARES ABOUT THE SIGNS I CREATE AND WHAT I SAY THEY SIGNIFY. (Note: This isn’t so much a part of the writing process as it is a part of my everyday life.)

I acknowledge that choosing the life of a writer means I need therapy. #amwriting Click To Tweet

010: Just Writing.
So, I finally get to the stage where I do what I should’ve been doing the whole damn time. But that’s the thing about the writing process. It’s not so much about writing most of the time.

The writing process: Not always about writing. #amwriting Click To Tweet

What about you? What’s your writing process? How many stages do you have? Do any of your stages just involve you crying for no good reason?

Thanks for sharing!
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25
Apr 17

Meditating with Insight Timer: 5 Things I’ve Realized About Myself

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably noticed my updates from the free Insight Timer app. I’ve recently gotten into meditating, and I’ve been meditating with Insight Timer to help me get into the practice. Meditating with Insight Timer has been a crucial part of creating space to breathe.

Meditating with Insight Timer

I have to say that when I started, I kind of assumed that I’d be super good at it. Like, my brain would shut off and I’d concentrate on breathing and the affirmations for the day. And then, when I was finished, I’d be one hella balanced person.

So, yeah. That ain’t the case.

I've been meditating with @InsightTimer to help me get into the practice. Click To Tweet

But even so, I’m enjoying the process of meditating with Insight Timer. And in that process, I’ve learned a few things about myself and how I meditate. That’s what I’m going to share with you today.

001: My brain is noisy.

Generally, I try to shut my head up. But it’s hard. See, I’ve got 60 things on a to do list that’s constantly on my mind. And oh, I just realized I haven’t looked at my phone in 6 hours, gee I hope no one is dead. I really need to buy some lunch meat to make sandwiches. When was the last time Rosie had a bath? Do you think my plantar fasciitis will go away on its own? Did I remember to track my water for the day? Do you think my friends with kids know how bad iPads are for really young kids? I hope I don’t get audited this year. I wonder what happened to my space pen. Mad Pierrot is such a sad character. Are the eggs in the fridge still good? How does international postage work? How much have I spent on pedicures in my life? How many members of the ENHS class of 2004 are now in jail?

And on and on it goes.

When I’m awake, that’s the inside of my head. It’s like flipping through channels on a staticky cathode ray tube TV. (For younger readers, TVs used to be big squares with a tube inside.) Meditating with Insight Timer only magnifies this. The goal of meditation, or at least, the goal for my meditations is to become aware of these thoughts and let them go. I don’t think I have the brain chemistry that would ever let me completely push all thoughts away. So, I’m just trying to hit the down arrow on the volume for now. Because for real, my head is noisy, and quieting it just a bit by meditating helps a lot.

002: There is no such thing as a quiet place.

I usually meditate first thing in the morning. That means that the only people awake in the house are me and Rosie, the dog. (I guess she’s not a person. But she sure does sit on the couch like one.)  I pick a meditation I want to do from the Insight Timer app, and then I sit down and start. I usually have the coffee maker brewing while I meditate, just because I think the sound and smell really enhance my experience. Also, it’s nice to know that right after I’m done meditating, I can have a hot cup of coffee.

While I generally try to get rid of distractions, there is no such thing as a quiet place. Right now is mosquito season, and I find that in the middle of a session, there is invariably a mosquito buzzing around my head. And Rosie, though generally the best dog in the universe, has managed to align her genital licking schedule with my meditation schedule. So, while I’m trying to breathe deeply, she’s making the grossest sound you can imagine.

But whatever. I let it go.

Mostly.

Sometimes I stop mid-session to tell Rosie to knock it off.

003: Apps can make it so much easier.

I first heard about the Insight Timer app from Jackie Wolven, and I’m so glad I did. For me, it’s hard to meditate because I’m new to it, and I want some guidance. It’s kind of like how I prefer yoga class to just practicing on my own. With guided meditations for whatever you’re feeling, meditating with Insight Timer is a beginner’s best friend.

I highly recommend any of the guided morning meditations, as well as some of the sleep meditations. For me, I like to meditate at the beginning and the end of the day, so these are perfect. I’m also thinking of adding a small mid-day meditation, so if there’s a guided meditation on Insight Timer you’d recommend for that, let me know in the comments!

004: I need so much more practice.

Sometimes I get mad that my head won’t clear. I know that isn’t productive, but I’m human. And I also know I just need more practice with meditating. For a while, I was getting really good at being present and focused on breathing in shavasana at the end of yoga. But if you don’t use it, you lose it.

So I’m working on getting better at taking a more yoga approach to my meditation practice. But I don’t think I’ll ever see a day when I feel like I don’t need more practice.

005: Breathing can feel amazing.

At the end of a stressful day when I’m so anxious that I’ve bitten all my nails off, meditating with Insight Timer has been a game changer. On those nights, I used to regularly have night terrors. Now, I meditate quietly in bed before I go to sleep. And I have to say that it’s made a huge amount of difference.

(The night terrors aren’t completely gone, but mostly so. And let’s be honest. Night terrors are probably caused by supernatural beings messing with me in my sleep and not so much my anxiety, right? I mean, probably.)

The best part of meditating is focusing on breathing, and noticing how good that breathing can make you feel. Seriously. Try it right now.

Have you ever tried meditating with Insight Timer? Click To Tweet

Do you have a favorite way to meditate? Have you ever tried meditating with Insight Timer? Any meditations you’d recommend?

Thanks for sharing!
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19
Apr 17

If It Ain’t Yours, Don’t Carry It

If it ain’t yours, don’t carry it.

Simple enough.

If it ain't yours, don't carry it.

Don’t pick it up. Don’t offer to help. Don’t open up your bag and let someone else drop it right in there.

Because if it ain’t yours to carry, you don’t need to carry it.

But what about the stuff that others can’t carry? You know — the things they’ve picked up along the way. The extras and the afflictions and the little nonconformities that make it hard for them. If you know their story, it makes it hella hard not to carry something for someone else.

Whatever it may be.

But you can’t.

You’re supposed to be here, but you’re not here to carry what’s not yours.

Pretend I’m coming at you like an angry mama who found her toddler crawling on the floor of a public restroom, and that toddler also happened to pick up several things and shove them in her mouth.

NO NO NO, I say to you.

Not yours.

Don’t pick that up. Don’t put it in your mouth. Leave it there, it’s yucky.

Because if it ain’t yours, don’t carry it.

Because if it ain't yours, don't carry it. Click To Tweet

(This is as much a reminder for me as it is for you, you know.)

(I’m sure you know.)

(If you’re here, you know.)

But what about when, you ask, brow furrowed in consternation, what about when someone leaves what’s theirs with you? Then, are you not obligated to carry it?

Hell no.

If some well meaning asshole approaches you with with what belongs to them, and drops it at your feet, that is exactly where it stays. You don’t pick that up, and you sure as hell don’t carry it. And if they look at you expectantly and wonder why you ain’t carrying it, you don’t have to explain shit, because it’s not yours.

If they come back later and ask if you’ve got it, remind them that you don’t carry it if it ain’t yours, and they can go pick it up just where they left it.

You have to take care of yourself, because sometimes the Universe is conspiring against you.

The secret is that you’ll gladly carry for some. Some truly deserve it. Those people who are inextricably linked to you by a force that pulls and magnetic coincidence — you’ll carry what belongs to them because you know they’ll carry what belongs to you.

But here’s the rub: You can’t carry theirs if you’re carrying someone else’s. And just imagine how foolish you’ll feel when you realize you’ve been schlepping what’s not yours to carry when you could’ve carried something better all along.

But that’s the thing. If it ain’t yours, don’t carry it. And if you’re going to carry it, best outline the carrier-carryee relationship upfront. And honestly, let them know your policy on carrying what’s not yours.

Oh, and make sure you uphold that policy.

Thanks for sharing!
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