Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Shout Out(s)

Lately I've been thinking a great deal about my best friends (family excluded).  I don't have many of them, four in total to be honest, but they are the best people I know; the best kind, the most kind; the kindest, best people I know.

In just under two months I will, for a time, join the expat community- this move is the trigger for these thoughts about my besties.  Two of them are already living abroad.  I will join them soon enough in an international adventure.  But before that-

The (Long-Overdue and Alphabetical by Last Name) Shout Out(s)-


C, my beloved C.  You are, without a doubt, the other half of my spirit.  You encourage me and enrich me and engage me.  I have known C since high school, when we met through a mutual friend- well.. more of an acquaintance for me, but an acquaintance to whom I will be forever indebted for her hand in my long-lasting friendship.

There have been several occasions when we were mistaken as sisters- both tall, slender with brown hair, fair skin and distinctive faces.  I took it as the most brilliant compliment I have ever received- C may have had a distinctly different outlook  :).  But in a way, she is my sister- closer than a sibling could be.  I make pilgrimages to her in New Zealand solely to be in her presence- which soothes me unlike any other balm on earth.

C is mentally, spiritually, emotionally and fundamentally beautiful.  I constantly hope that a little bit of her vitality rubs off on me.. but at the same time, I'd never ever want her to lose any of it.

I am lucky to know her.  And I am better for knowing her.


Lord.. this boy.  In grad school we were called 'The Wonder Twins'.. I think because our names rhymed- but honestly, toward the end of my tenure in Baton Rouge, I could almost (and Mom agreed with this) see a physical resemblance to him.  I fought with him, laughed more with him than I would have ever thought possible.  I bounced ideas off of him.

This kid- this man- I would happily take a bullet for.  I would like down on train tracks for this kid.

He's not one of the expats.. instead, N is actively building a life for himself at home in the US.  In Iowa, where he is from.  He's managing a museum and doing something I cannot say I've done for myself: he's putting his well-earned History degrees to use.

N makes me a better person by being himself.  By being as immature, as nonsensical, and as ri-cock-u-lous as me.


S… my S.

Sometimes I think she's a dream.  One that I had my freshman year in college and one that I found so perfectly… amazing.. that I kept dreaming her even up until this very day.  I will never forget that first silly conversation we had, after a mutual freshman French class.  I asked her where she was from- the most commonly asked question besides 'where did you go to high school?'- at University.  She answered 'Africa'.  S is a physically stunning white-blond, ivory-skinned, aquamarine-eyed, human creature.

I snorted and then asked 'South Africa?'… Lord how innocent we all are at some point in our lives.

S is changing the world, one Peace Corps, one humanitarian tour of duty at a time (currently the other expat until I make my upcoming escape).  She is changing the world.  She makes me want to be better, to make myself into the best person I can possibly be.  She is.. S is something else entirely.  She laughs with her entire being and loves with her whole heart.  She give and gives and gives.

She puts me to shame.  And baits me to rise.


O I.  My darling darling I.  When this girl smiles, it is literally like watching the sun erupt from the middle of a cloud bank.  She has all the light in the world contained in her being.  All of it.  When she and I met, I was on the academic track to grad school, assistantships, a PhD.  And now she is working for NOAA while I am contemplating the benefits of making a go of teaching yoga abroad.  We have changed places but not really.

I and I are both still the same silly 19 and 20 year olds who met in Maryland one summer, doomed to a heat wave, an interesting third roommate, and an unusual number of ever-so-slightly hungover Fridays. She is the epitome of soul-mate.  The person who has called me twice now, who I've yet to return the call (tomorrow I PROMISE0), and who, when she picks up the phone, will return me to me.

She's the definition of 'like no time has passed.'


These four people occupy my heart constantly.  They are on my mind, even if only in the back of it, always.  Always.  I love them all with a ferocity that I would have never thought possible had it not been for their peculiar presences in my rather peculiar life.

To the four of you-

I love you.  Always.  I am honored to count you among my most beloved beloved beloved.  You are all too good for me and I am constantly humbled by what you achieve every day.  You are all profoundly and singularly wonderful.  

I hope to keep you as constants.

So So So So, so so so much love.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Sleepless Nights and Self-Examination

I am not a person who has faith.  I was not born with it or given the gift of it.  And I did not develop it over a lifetime or in the middle of a moment of need.  Indeed, I haven't prayed in a long time.  Faith belongs to people who are better than me.  Faith belongs to people who believe. 

No, I was given the gift of doubt.  Instead of faith I got doubt; instead of belief I got questions. And I would not give either back for all of the tea in China.  I am a doubter; I have a million carefully calculated questions and the capacity to generate a million more- on every topic, for every whim.  I am better for doubting, I think, better for keeping my eyes open and my soul to myself. 

Normally, for me at least, doubt functions much in the same way as fear.  Rather than inhibiting me, it motivates me.  It pushes me to explore, to understand.  It places a mirror squarely in front of everything I am and forces me to gaze- at myself, at the way I think I see the world, at the way the world is.  

Doubt is the lynch-pin in my very labyrinthine psyche.  

It holds a place in the ever-changing triumvirate of my being- there's me, there's the beast, and then there's the doubt.  Each has it's own amount of power and it's own unique ability to override my brain or my heart, or my spirit.  I've been broken by all three- myself, my disease, and my doubt.  But I've also become exactly who I am because of all three.  And doubt hardly ever gets a shout-out here, I think because I am so grateful for it, in it's own way.  My own way.  

Doubt… doubt I cherish even though it can so easily turn on me and become self-doubt.  

That's the doubt that keeps me up at night and dogs the edge of every thought.  That's the doubt that haunted me last night, whispering in my ear, spooning me like a lover.  That doubt is the doubt of 'Will I?' or 'Will I ever?', 'Can't I ever?'.  

'Will I figure this shit out?'

'Will I ever give myself a break?'

'Can't I ever just accept that I am exactly what I am'

'Why can't I have a little faith?  Just a little?'

Because I don't have faith.  And I don't get to have it.  


And that is, ultimately, okay.  Because eventually the need for sleep will win over the whisper-whisper-teary sigh of doubt.  Eventually even the most excruciating self-examination has to stop in favor of unconsciousness- whether welcome or not.  And when that happens, when all parts of me are released into nothingness, it does not matter if I have doubt or faith or belief.  

All that matters is that I have peace. 

Until next time, Dearests of Hearts.. 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Words I Wrote, The Letters I Never Sent

I have never been accused of anti-loquaciousness (reticence per say).  Ever.  If anything readers of this blog and other written outlets of mine have only skimmed the surface of my proliferation.  The depth of my talent is a dark one, and still untested.  I can confirm one mark, though- I have always claimed that I am better on paper than in person, and there is a probable reason for that:

I write when I am happy.

I write when I am sad.

I write when I am excited, nervous, elated, fractured, fragile, overwhelmed, underwhelmed, delighted, decimated; when I am perfect and when I am anything but.

I write to people, I respond to people in writing.

I write when I am, in any way, distressed.  And when I am distressed, and the floodgates open, I write my most devastating and interesting things.  I write myself.

And then I hide myself.

Because in my most challenging moments, eras, landscapes, I have written letters.  Dozens and dozens of letters; letters that I have never sent.  Some remain tucked away in the back of my desk, or buried beneath socks in a drawer, or in a shoebox littered with memories and memos.  Some have long since been discarded.  I write letters because I have to write something.  And because on paper the words and world make sense to me.

I make sense to me- on paper.

In grad school, I addressed all of my letters to my college roommate and best friend Suzannah.  To be fair, many many letters were addressed to Suz that did actually get to her.  After college she joined the Peace Corps while I took a year off before throwing myself headlong into the pursuit of a Master's Degree.  She, having been placed in Niger, had limited access to internet.  So old school letter-writing it was.  And it was glorious in the most old-fashioned of ways.  The constant and graceful written exchange grew familiar, intuitive, and confessional.

So it seemed reasonable and natural to draft all of my letters of distressed doubt to Suzannah.  All of the frustration, all of the mistrust, all of the pain of putting myself through Grad school erupted- the ink flowed like lava onto far too many yellow legal-pad pages.  So much of me wound up on those pages, scribbled and scrawled and scratched out; figured out.  Some pages are stained with tiny water marks- circles where my tears hit.  Other pages are so quickly and frenetically written that they are barely legible, even to me.

Those letters I still have.

Then there are the letters to my ex.  Well, emails to be precise- but sort of the same difference.  In the distressed doubt of my first long relationship, my first truly serious one, I began to write emails.  It started with one, a long one, detailing everything I felt but felt I could not really say to him.  The next day, another followed in its wake- one stacked on top of the other in the 'Drafts' tab of my inbox.  Soon enough I found myself daily writing emails I would never ever send him.  Soon enough I did not differentiate them; instead I separated them only by lines in an ever-lengthening single email document. Each entry had a date.  Each entry had a confession.

Each entry had a sliver of my heart tied to it, laced through all the loops of letters.

Sometime after the relationship ended, after I had moved into the phase of simultaneously hurting and healing myself (much of which I wrote about and continue to write about [also it was more hurting than healing, but that much so far should be obvious]), I opened that draft- that years long draft.  On a whim, I copied it and pasted it into a word document.  It spanned sixty-seven pages.  Single spaced.

Sixty-seven pages of my heart and mind and spirit.  Sixty-seven pages of brutal, broken, brilliant honesty.  Ultimately… sixty-seven pages of love, or maybe love destroying itself.

It wasn't long after that I deleted it- both the word document and the email draft.  I don't know if it was an attempt to forgive myself or forget myself.

But here's the things… letters get hidden or destroyed, selves are forgiven or forgotten, but words stay forever.

Words last forever.

And until there are words I have to hide again.  Until then, Dearhearts.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Late (really late) February/Early March Confessions on Obsessions

A lot has been going on in my little world of late.  Trips to Norway; trips to Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary and the Netherlands.  Trips which took me though the past and caused me to forecast a little into the future- something I rarely do.  Yet lately the forecasting, fishing, and tentative planning has seemed both the necessary and the normal outcome of cautious hope.

Needless to say there's quite a bit on my mind.

But before I get ahead of myself and my long established rules of engagement, I have some obsessions to confessions.

BBC Radio One has a covers lounge.  I know, way to change tack hard after that intro.  Anyway, BBC Radio One… some of the best covers I've heard have come out of this little gem.  Try these two first, they were my original obsessions.  Then move onto this one by Paolo Nutini.  I have a difficult time NOT listening to it five or six or seventeen times in a row if I start down the rabbit hole.

Backstrom.  If you know Rainn Wilson from The (US) Office, this role is the most perfect transition.  The show is dark and snort-inducing funny.  It's a wild romp through the nonsense of crime and even though I had a rather dubious opinion of it from it's teasers, I gave it a shot.  Totally.  Worth.  It.

My passport.  Not that this is a new obsession for me, but it has moved up the list recently.  Flipping through it today (I landed, passed through US Immigration and Customs, and re-entered the country yesterday evening), I did notice that it was not stamped upon reentry to the United States, even though I know the dude stamped my Customs paperwork… Hmmm… need I be worried, 'Murica??

Blah.  I almost very nearly don't want to admit to this, having repeatedly lauded the value of books, proper books, books with pages and covers and binding, but Hell, this is all about the here and now.  I recently came into possession of a Kindle Fire.  And I will be damned if it is not just about a girl's best friend when that girl is stuck on a long-haul flight over the Atlantic.  Or any other large body of water for that matter.  Or continent.  Here's the deal, too- for whatever reason, I seem to read much faster on a Kindle than when I take on a proper book.  So as I fly through the sky, I can fly through literature (right now it's The Golem and The Jinni that I'm ploughing through at full steam).  And it's so streamlined.  So light.

So unlike the copy of Winter's Tale that I brought with me to (and left behind in) Norway.

Finally, the kindness of others.  I really don't have any clue what to hyperlink that obsession to... but I'm sticking with it.  I have had the benefit, over the past few weeks and months, of experiencing the exceptional kindness of others- people who have gone out of their way to be good to me and good for me.  That is not a terrible thing to confess, right?  That I have experienced, and experienced being grateful for, the kindness of others.

And until next time, stay tuned Dearhearts.