choose your own adventure

I watched two women on the beach edging into the water. The waves crashed down and splashed them. They laughed and clung to each other and ran back to the safeness of the sand. Then they tried again.

I sipped my coffee and glanced back at my book. The hostess appeared like an angel from the heavens: “would you like a blanket?” (I would love a blanket.)

I’m freezing just watching those women. She looked out. “They’re crazy.”

I snuggled up in my blanket and went back to reading. Maybe we’re all crazy.

 

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location

Maybe you never really know a place the first time you’re there. You’re walking around in the dark, hands outstretched, hoping you don’t fall down. You feel the turns, the sharp corners, the safe places.

So next time — if you’re lucky enough that there is a next time — you see things a little more clearly. Nothing is ever entirely clear; we can only ever see the parts that we see through the lens that we see them. But sometimes some things can get clearer.

I’m sitting on a deck in Malibu, overlooking the pacific ocean. All I can see are waves and sand and rocks and sand pipers and pelicans diving into the water.

I’ve been here before.

What will I do with my life this time?

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you work at a smile and you go for a ride

Road trip: day 19 of who knows how many days. So far, I’ve mostly been driving in circles. The last time I fled the world with no plan and no end, I ended up in Paris, Barcelona, San Sebastian. This time, I haven’t made it farther than California. But then, that seems to be where I always find myself when I don’t know where I’m going.

I’m happy. I have no idea where I’m going, but I know that I’m happy.

I guess I quit my job again. It was complicated and it all turned dark and awful and all my old fears came back. But that’s over now. I keep learning, learning about what not to do and who not to trust and I guess life will always be that way.

But you keep going, and somehow you get to the other side. I just happened upon this Joseph Campbell quote: “we must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”

I still don’t know how it ends and now I don’t even know what comes next. But something will come next.

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on a wednesday, in a cafe, i watched it begin again

Unlike Tay, I don’t mean that I met a boy. But it is Wednesday. And something’s beginning again. I’m just not quite sure what it is yet.

Today, I climbed some rocks in Joshua Tree and looked out at the sky. It was the perfect place for an epiphany, a moment of zen to make the world make sense, give my life purpose, fill me with joy.

I climbed down and got back into my car. I turned up the music and drove really fast around the curves. Or at least as fast as one can in a rented Prius.

But I didn’t have any epiphanies yet.

Don’t tell me the epiphany is that there are no epiphanies because that just leaves me floating in the middle of a vast ocean with no oar. Or outboard motor.

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every autumn

I’ve heard that when alcoholics stop drinking for a while and then start up again, they don’t start over. Their bodies just pick right up where they left off, with black out binges right on day one.

I think the same thing may be true of mental breakdowns.

I got rid of nearly everything that was drowning me, pushing me down into the dark, muddy water: the company, the employees, the clients, the fear of financial ruin. I spent months doing nothing but sleeping. And it worked. My dangerously high cortisol levels plunging me into adrenal failure dropped back to high normal.

But now I’m back in the world, working through the business transition and it’s already paralyzing me. I can’t even look at my email or my calendar. I don’t want to have another conference call or discussion or meeting. I just want everyone to leave me alone all of the time.

There’s this scene in The Best Awful, one of Carrie Fisher’s novelizations of her real-life struggles with manic depression. In the scene, she’s in a mental institution after a psychotic break and she’s supposed to cut pictures out of a magazine and make a collage. And although she recognizes this is something that a child could do, her brain is unable to make sense of anything. She knows the photos have meaning and some of them have words on them, but she can’t connect the dots. All she feels is hopeless. The task is too hard.

I know that all I have to do is sit at this computer and answer email. Write software specs. Put together a marketing plan. Whatever. These are all easy things to do. I have done them all so many times that I could do them in my sleep. And yet I can’t do any of them at all. I can’t even sleep.

And I feel like a failure as a person. Because I just want to let it all go. Watch it burn.

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because i’m free, nothing’s worrying me

When I was a kid, I really liked that BJ Thomas song, “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head”. Of course, it was entirely lost me, since I didn’t understand the concept of metaphor and thought it was about somebody who literally was followed by a rain cloud. But I found that image amusing, I guess. Which is the opposite intention of the song, now that I think of it.

One line totally stumped me though, and not because I also didn’t understand the concept of simile, although that is also true. “And just like the guy whose feet are too big for his bed”, what? I really tried to figure it out. I wasn’t sure how being rained on was like a guy in bed, but assumed it just meant the guy in bed was also rained on all the time, and it seemed like kind of a bummer that he was getting rained on in bed.

But what perplexed me was the idea of someone’s feet being too big for his bed. What did that even mean? In my world, a bed was many times larger than a person and the idea of someone’s feet hanging off a bed wasn’t even within my realm of existence.

We view the world through the only frame of reference we have – our own experience. We can’t walk a mile in someone’s shoes or whatever it is we’re supposed to do for understanding and peace and love and the rest. If the bed is ten times bigger than we are, that’s the only size bed we know exists.

And then you get older and you think, oh. Sometimes the person/bed size ratio changes. I didn’t realize that.

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what a wonderful world this would be

Pandora has been playing Ingrid Michaelson, Anna Nalick, Pink, and now, out the blue, Hootie and the Blowfish. Suddenly, it’s 1994, and I’m sitting in the dark, narrow bar in Balboa where we listened to that album on repeat all winter.

Sometimes I feel exactly like that person. Other times I can barely remember her; I don’t know if she ever existed.

I think about how naive I was. How wrong I was about so many things. And that scares me because I must be as wrong about as many things now. I just haven’t learned what they are yet.

This morning, a friend who’s lost a bunch of weight lately told me that she hasn’t bought new clothes (even though her old clothes don’t fit anymore) because what if she gains the weight again? I told her she had to live now, based on how the world is today. Not based on what might happen or what she worries will happen or how things used to be.

Life’s so hard to live like that. But imagine how freeing it would be.

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the voices in my head

I’m trying to be in the world more. That’s it. My whole goal. Be in the world.

At first, I thought I should strive for something slightly more ambitious, like join a club or take a class, but I’ve decided that small steps are enough for now. Get out of bed. Change out of my pajamas. Put on actual clothes. Go outside.

It sounds like I’m depressed, but I don’t think I am. I think I just want to keep sleeping and reading and writing for a while longer. And I could. But I could also easily become one of those crazy hermits who chases kids off the lawn, has an erratic hairstyle, and forgets how to make small talk.

I could order all my food from Amazon fresh, get all my books on my Amazon Kindle iPad app, I could even write books and self-publish them on Amazon. So who’s at fault here, really?

My (truly) expansive time off doesn’t end until tomorrow and already I’m weary. It’s exhausting to let people keep taking and taking but it’s also exhausting to continually keep them from taking and taking. I’m getting better at the latter but I’m not stronger at it. But I have to learn this careful art of give and take to live in the world. And it’s better to live in the world, right?

Maybe.

This morning, I went to church. If being in the world means talking to people, then I mostly failed, although I did say hello to my neighbors during the “say hello to your neighbor” portion. I spent most of the sermon wondering how there could possibly be a God, if he just sits around and does nothing unless we pray enough, after the pastor said we should “pray for peace”. So possibly the entire outing was a failure. But still. I left the house.

Later, I went to spinning class only because a friend absolutely made me. I think that venture was more successful in that I talked to people (well, her: one person) and I didn’t fall off my bike and die. Anytime I make it through spinning class without falling off and dying I consider it a success.

So, that’s it. That’s really all I accomplished today. Well, I got an email that told me I have a new Klout moment, but I don’t really think that counts. I finished Monica’s Story, but I definitely am sure that doesn’t count and in fact, I probably shouldn’t even admit that I read it. In any case, neither of those things involve leaving the house or being in the world.

I’ve started working on this novel, and I’ve been writing a lot of dialogue. When I’m not writing it, I’m listening to it. There’s not much time to talk to actual people when I’m holding up both ends of a conversation in my head.

I’m feeling a lot of pressure from a lot of different directions to do a lot of things that other people want. But maybe what I want is something else.

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here’s what i remember

Here’s what I remember. A writer was going to teach a special class about writing at my school. It wasn’t open to everyone. You had to submit something you’d written and be accepted. I was. I remember that the class was at the same time as driver’s education, and that’s why I never  took driver’s ed and really never learned to drive officially. But maybe that’s wrong and the class was earlier. Or later. Or over the summer.

If the class was at the same time as driver’s education, that probably meant it was during my junior year of high school and so in Oklahoma, but when I try to visualize the room, I see the high school I went to in California, which means it would have been my freshman or senior year. But wouldn’t I remember it better if it had been my senior year? So I think I’m just visualizing something else.

I came across a bunch of papers I’d written for a class at that high school in Oklahoma. I thought they were for regular English, but maybe they were for this special writing class. I don’t remember anything about the special writing class at all.

I remember one lesson on writing from what I think was a different, earlier writing class  – probably eighth grade. The teacher hated the construction “There is/are”. Hated it. Why write “there are birds flying across the sky” when you can write “birds are flying across the sky?” Or even better: “birds fly across the sky”, and so on. I never write “there is” or “there are” even now.

I don’t remember any other writing lessons, not really.

But I remember what I wrote to get in to this special writing class. I think I remember that we got a prompt. A first sentence. Maybe even a whole first paragraph. Or maybe it was just a prompt with no specific lead in at all.

I still have a copy of what I wrote. It’s about a door to nowhere that stands on a beach. It begins like this,

“On the beach, just above the high tide line, stood a door. Despite the fact that it had no logical business being there, it stood foursquare and solid, and anyone who cared to look could see that it was open several inches.”

That’s the part I don’t think I wrote, the part that was the prompt. Even though it includes “despite the fact”, which seems extraneous. But I don’t think I would have used “high tide line” or “foursquare and solid” at 15.

The entire thing is full of extra words, but it’s otherwise pretty good, I think. A little overwrought, maybe.  It speaks of hope and faith and despair and I can barely imagine the same person writing it who at the same time was staying up all night drinking cheap beer. But apparently she, I, did. I mean, maybe. Maybe I didn’t write it all. But I can’t seem to find it anyplace else so if it’s just something I happen to have with my name at the top, and a faded memory, blended from something else, it’s not published in a form that I can find any trace of online. I continue to be perplexed by memory’s lack of loyalty.

If I have the timing right, I would have gotten the prompting lines in 1988. Stephen King’s second Dark Tower book, The Drawing of the Three, which prominently features doors on beaches, came out in 1987, but I certainly hadn’t heard of it. Maybe the writer/teacher, who I assume came up with the prompt had; there’s no way to know now. I recently re-read The Drawing of the Three and looked for the lines in case she had lifted them entirely but she hadn’t. King’s descriptions of the doors are entirely different other than that they too stand alone above the tide.

Here’s the rest of the story, only extraneous words removed. I wonder about that girl, fresh into the world.

“The tide crashed against the rocks, spewing white-capped waves high into the air and sometimes spraying and smashing into the door. It was worn from years of daring the waves to reach higher for it again and yet it stood, solid and strong. No hint of collapse into the ocean that it had withstood for so long.

Many had passed those sandy shores and wondered the door’s purpose. Why was it there? Where did it come from? A man wandered by and questioned why it stood ajar. He grasped the knob with both hands and pulled. Nothing happened. The door wouldn’t budge an inch in either direction. It remained open just enough to peer through, but not enough to enter.

A young girl, fresh into the world and innocent of its ways had once pondered the door. She supposed it was an entrance to another world, where dreams came true and everyone lived happily ever after. Fortunately and surprisingly, no one came along to tell her any differently. At least for a brief time, she could hold a wish unshaken.

Lovers would walk hand in hand to where the door stood and sit in the sand and lean on the door while watching the waves, iridescent in the faint moonlight. The door never minded being leaned on. It was never moved or shaken, even though rooted in shifting sand.

A scientist came to study it once. He went away, unaffected, his only conclusion that it must extend deep into the ground and was made of oak. No one questioned him, but he didn’t really resolve anything.

No one thought about the door much. It was just always there. Until one day they tore it down. The government embarked on a beachfront clean up. The door had to go, they said. It was a safety hazard, they said. Children could get it hurt, they said. But they only said it to each other and never thought anyone would care.

Early one morning, the bulldozer came. The sleepy little beach town opened one eye and looked in the direction of the government trucks and took a moment to wonder before going back to sleep but it never dawned on anyone that the door could be in danger. Who would bother their door?

It took a lot more than the government people thought to tear it down.

“Sure is stout,” said the bulldozer driver, on his third, and finally successful try. The door broke with a deafening crack. By the time the town awoke, the dozer was leaving and on one realized until it was too late.

When the feeling of emptiness set in, nobody really could understand why. They only knew that a part of their lives was now gone. As the tides rose and fell, so did their lives. Through all of their hopes, their desires, their failures, the door never moved. Changes came: life and death, pain and joy. They could always count on the door. It was the one thing they could trust, even if there was nothing else. And now it was gone.

What were they to do now?”

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pages from my lost youth

“Long walks, long talks, after dark;
We vowed we’d never forget.
Now it’s hazy.”
-Stay for a While, Amy Grant

My senior year of high school was disjointed and confusing and wonderful and stressful and joyful and tragic and busy and unspeakably sad. It took forever and flashed by in an instant. Probably the same as it is for everyone in one way or another.

How is it then that it’s slipping almost entirely away from me? I see blurry snapshots, fogged-over, early-stage polaroids. Clips from silent films in black and white.

A few nights ago, I was flipping through my senior yearbook. I was reading to a friend of mine some of what people had written. Stay in touch. Best friends forever. I’ll never forget that night we drank all that peach schnapps. That kind of thing.

After reading what one guy had written, she said, “hey, that’s really funny.” I thought about it. I told her I thought I read a manuscript he wrote once.  And that it was funny too. I remembered he was younger than I was (I looked him up in the yearbook and he was a junior when I was a senior — it seemed like an eternity) and that we would sometimes hang out at his house and talk about writing. He would show me some of what he was writing. Maybe I showed him my writing too, but I probably didn’t.

For some reason, I thought I might still have one of his manuscripts, so I looked through some of the rest of the box of high school. Sure enough, it was in exactly the manilla envelope I imagined. But he had mailed it to me in the fall after I graduated. I hadn’t remembered that. I only remembered reading parts of it at his house. This version had a note, telling me he had written more, although it was still unfinished and that he really wanted to know what I thought. And he was thinking maybe he should give up writing altogether.

Did I ever tell him what I thought? Did I ever even read it? Did I ever even talk to him again? I kept it all these years, but then I would. It’s something someone wrote.

It was funny. It was rough, sure, but certain lines, turns of phrase were beautiful, hilarious. I didn’t remember any of it. The narrative calls it an “autobiographical novel” and indeed, all of our classmates and teachers come to life on the pages (with nearly all of their names intact). One might call it biting satire. Or possibly seething rage. The foundation for most comedy.

Everyone feels lost in high school, but I had gone to one high school for part of freshman year, moved half way across the country, then moved back to that same high school my senior year. All of my freshman friends were still there but they’d had years of experiences without me, were entirely different people. I knew everyone but I didn’t know anyone.

But the manuscript. Near the end of the portion I have is a scene where the narrator sees a girl he’d never seen before (being a year younger, he hadn’t been at the school when I was there the first time) and everything changes. Harps, angels singing, and so on. It’s not necessarily me he’s writing about, you might say, except this new character and I share a name.

I think now about how scary it must have been to send this to me. Did I really never even read it? Did I read it and really not ever reply? Did I read it and yet really not remember?

Whatever happened, I was awful.

I tried looking him up online and couldn’t find him. Anywhere. It made me really sad to think that maybe he didn’t become a writer (I certainly didn’t find his byline anywhere). He was really good. He should be writing.

The closest I came to finding anything was a piece of “The Office” fan fiction written by someone by the same name in 2006. It was pretty good, so maybe it was him.

I asked a friend from high school if she knew what happened to him. She didn’t. “He was always really weird,” she remembered. Was he though? Did I think he was weird or did I just know that everyone thought he was weird? When you’re 17 is there a difference?

The only moment we ever have is this one. And then it’s gone.

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safe and sound

Childhood memories are rarely indifferent. If we remember something at all, we either truly love it or it fills us with hate, rage, shame, fear, regret.

The childhoods of our memories are hybrids of blurry nostalgia and dark monsters under our beds.

It’s exhausting sometimes. We learn the world piece by piece as we grow up and then the process begins again as we see everything we learned from the outside and realize everything we learned is wrong. And we learn it all again.

Over and over again, we react to what happened and then and not to what’s happening now. We live one foot in today and the other in that hybrid nostalgic/monster world.

I spent the last few weeks in Europe, wandering the streets of Paris, Barcelona, San Sebastián. Espresso in sidewalk cafes, wine on sun-filled terraces, sangria while lying on beach chairs in the sand.

But no food.

When you’re traveling, you’re at the mercy of the local cultural food whims. In Spain, no one serves dinner before 8:30. And then it’s sardines. In France, well, there’s mostly French food. Some organ meats. Snails.

When I got back to the United States, the first thing I did was go to the grocery store so that I could have whatever food I wanted anytime I wanted at all. (It really was almost the first thing, since I was up at 4:30am and didn’t have anything else to do.)

I thought, I can walk down to the beach (in daylight, I mean) and I can pack up chips and salsa and cheese and bread and lemonade and eat them at 6pm if I want. Or 2:30pm. Or 11am.

And then I thought, Oh. Maybe I’m finally relearning food.

Because as an adult, I don’t pack food and bring it with me anywhere. Ever.

I spent too many years with a home-packed lunch when all the other kids had money to buy lunch in the cafeteria, of driving past every restaurant on route 40 on road trips between our house in Oklahoma and my grandparents’ house in California and instead eating stale sandwiches or whatever my mom had packed for the trip.

Bringing your own food means that you can’t afford to do otherwise, that you’re left out from what everyone else is doing, that you’re isolated and different and not good enough and alone.

Only maybe it doesn’t. Maybe bringing your own food can mean that you’re in control and can have whatever you want whenever you want it.

And I know it seems stupid and petty and small. But it doesn’t feel that way to me.

This afternoon, I ran barefoot in the sun along a Malibu beach. And in my head, I kept repeating: you don’t have to run anymore. You don’t have to run anymore.

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wolves and champagne

So I quit my job.

Which is what has led me to this cafe in Paris lined with books, drinking espresso and reading a book about Phish and Insane Clown Posse. And identifying with it.

The author writes:

“Ambition had been the engine that had fueled my career. But my ambition had turned on itself. Ambition respects only itself; it’s never satiated, because satisfaction would defeat its whole purpose… It’s always keen to remind us that the wolf is at the door and everything will fall apart tomorrow unless we push mercilessly in pursuit…”

When the world (at least the world I’ve lived for the last eight years or so) talks about success, they mean scale. How many hundreds of endless conversations have I had about scale: scaling myself, my ideas, my work. These are inevitably followed by discussions of letting go: delegating, not taking on so much, not doing everything myself.

But some things you can’t scale.

And maybe what I’ve realized is that some people want to build something greater than they are, something that reaches beyond what they could touch alone. They want to see something grow. And that ambition is very different from the kind that drives me.

Writers don’t delegate their novels out to a sea of interns. Painters can’t scale their art by bidding out brush strokes on mechanical turk. I don’t want to oversee a big operation, not really.

Maybe it’s a weakness. Others can’t live up to the high expectations I set for myself. I can’t scale me. I can scale what I do, but it’s watered down. It’s adequate. It lets me down. And maybe I should learn to let go of that, say average is OK. But I can’t. I suppose I don’t want to.

But then what?

My answer so far has been to run away. It wasn’t enough to quit my job, I had to leave the country too. All I could think about was escape.

But it wasn’t as brave as all that. Sure, I’m faced with figuring out what to do with the rest of my life, which right now seems impossible. Like I’m standing  on the edge of a cliff and I can see land but there’s this chasm and no way to get across.

But this time I didn’t light a match and let everything burn as I walked away  (maybe I am growing after all). I sold my company. My (previous) staff all still has jobs. I have money in the bank. I’m on the run in luxury hotels with fluffy robes and slippers, room service, and champagne.

Champagne

And yet I still feel like the wolf is at the door and everything will fall apart tomorrow.

I’m working on that part.

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if not quiet, then peace

The thing about Paris cafes is that they’re noisy. I know they sound romantic and wonderful and presumably all you need to do is walk into a Parisian cafe and order an espresso and you’ll have a complete novel written in an afternoon.

But also they’re really crowded in a way that makes the idea of personal space a fantasy. And everyone has to talk really loud in order to be heard over the table next to them. And sidewalk cafe implies that they’re directly next to the street and Parisians love their extraordinary loud motor scooters.

But OK, at least you can have a chocolate croissant while you sip your espresso. No. Croissants are only available before noon. But you can certainly have chocolate cake.

Paris Cafe

But where else can you linger all day and write or read and drink espresso or rosé and never be bothered at all?

 

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giant spider alien tidal wave cliff

I try to do too many things at once. I don’t mean I have too many browser tabs open and I answer email while I’m on a conference call, although both of those things are true. I mean that I might think to myself that I want to write a book on one thing and a different book on something else and also I want to create a software product and I want to buy and remodel a house and travel to Paris and start a web site and instead of thinking, yes, I will do all of those things, I think, yes, I must start all of those things right now, all at the same time.

I blame the rapture. Since I grew up in never-ending terror that the world would end at any moment, my childhood was like one of those scenes in an apocalyptic movie where an astroid or alien ship or whatever has just destroyed a city and the world has dropped away and now there’s just a huge gaping cliff instead of the Statue of Liberty and it’s growing larger and larger by the second and then a tidal wave the size of Los Angeles appears and everyone is running for their lives, trying to outpace the ever-growing cliff and wave and giant spider overlords.

Just picture that and replace the tidal wave or overlord spider or what have you with Jesus.

So I have this frantic panic when I do anything, like there’s not enough time, I’m running out of time, WHY CAN’T YOU RUN FASTER?

And that tends to make me try to take on too many things at once.

And because I have to do everything right now, all at once, and it has to be finished, right now, there is no room for delay or inefficiency or wasted time.  There’s just no time to walk behind slow people or wait for the waiter to bring the check.

The fault clearly lies with God.

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poor planning

It’s when you’re really sick and you can barely move and you think that maybe some really good medicine might help and of course, you’re not sick in a way that means you’re not hungry (because at least then you’d get the upside of possibly losing a little weight out of it) but instead, you’re oddly really hungry and there’s absolutely no food in the house, of course there’s not. It’s then, when you’re on your couch, wishing for something to make the fever go down and to soothe your sore throat and maybe some mashed potatoes and your assistant is on vacation and anyway, she’s not that helpful because she’s a vegan hippie so before she left for vacation she brought you some “medicine” consisting of herbs with absolutely zero medicine in them, it’s then that you think perhaps being single and alone isn’t the best plan after all.

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object of beauty

A couple of years ago, Steve Martin wrote a novel called An Object of Beauty that on one hand was an inside view of the art world, but on the other hand was about waiting for the other shoe to drop. About terror-filled anticipation of consequences. Or of the realities of how life works out, despite what the consequences should be. The novel’s end was the logical conclusion that the reader has feared all along (even if at some points, the protagonist has been oblivious, and worse, hopeful and optimistic of a different life).

The novel took my state of being and put it into plot and characters – the juxtaposition of wanting to feel hopeful and optimistic while at the same time knowing everything is going to fall apart.

I splurged on an expensive pair of shoes last year. Surely that was just one step leading me to bankruptcy next year. I made this small choice and that small choice and I failed to see the future. I failed to make the right decisions, to predict the outcome. I flailed and breathed and tried and I drowned anyway.

Every time I get on a plane, I’m hopeful and optimistic that it will land safely, yet assuredly know this will be the plane that crashes. Even as I tell myself that knowing is wrong.

But everything doesn’t always go wrong. Right?

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i don’t believe in anything but myself

Numerous books and articles and blog posts and well meaning advice givers exist with the lofty goal of helping one discover one’s purpose, what one really wants to do with one’s life, and so on.

Quit your job! Move from your home town! Travel!

I have done all of those things.

And all I seem to be able to come up with when presented with the question of what I really want to do is that I have a stack of novels I’d like to read, preferably in a comfortable piece of furniture overlooking water.

Maybe I’m just suffering from the general malaise of someone who has infinite choice. I can live here. I can move somewhere else. I can buy a new car. Or a house. I can sell all of my belongings and live on a houseboat. Or in a series of hotels. I have the means and the freedom to take any road less traveled I’d like. Nothing is tying me down. I don’t even have pets anymore, unless you count the fish in koi pond in my front yard and they do OK with the algae.

All of this should make life easier and yet seems to only make it harder. My doctor points to my lack of support system. That missing foundation of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Maybe I’m just spoiled.

I was out with some friends a few nights ago and they started talking about another friend who I don’t know very well. That it was amazing how much adversity she had overcome in her childhood. I don’t know the details of this friend’s childhood and I don’t mean this next part to come across in a competitive way because that’s not what I mean to say at all. It’s just that I felt as though I had stepped outside of the conversation and was watching it through glass or on a movie screen.

I just had no frame of reference for the feelings that were being shared. It didn’t seem astonishing that another person had grown up in a trailer park. It just seemed normal. That’s just how life was.

Maybe I can never relax and enjoy what I have and am always waiting for it all to come crashing down because I feel like I’m looking through the glass at the world I’m living in.

When the popular (that is, rich) kids would invite me to do things in high school, it always felt temporary. Surely they would find out that I didn’t belong with them and I would never be invited again. I was outside the glass, looking in on them.

When I was growing up, nothing was permanent. It was a mistake to get comfortable anywhere, with anything, because the one known was that things would soon change.

That experience has helped me be flexible with life, but it hasn’t helped me with permanence. Or safety. And I always am waiting for everything to fall apart.

I find myself arguing with my stepdad a lot in my head. Telling him he was wrong. Only he’s dead, so it doesn’t help.

Which brings me back to the infinite choice of where I should live. Maybe I should in fact buy a house. Buy permanence. I say I like knowing I could go anywhere at any moment, but is that really true? I honestly don’t know.

Despite the numerous books and articles and blog posts and well meaning advice givers, I really just don’t know.

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an ode to indoors

I paid extra for the room with the patio overlooking the mountains. It has two comfy chairs and ottomans, a chaise lounge, a view of a beautiful sunny sky.

I’m writing this from inside as I look out through the glass door. The patio has been taken over. By a beetle. Go ahead and scoff. The beetle is literally as big as my hand and I have an English degree so I know how to properly use the word “literally”. It looks like one of those huge plastic toys little boys like to scare their sisters with. Also, it has wings. It sits on the wall (defying gravity: one of many super powers) and looks at me sideways. Just waiting for me.

I tried throwing things (the pen and pad of paper beside the bed) at it, but it just kept staring. Didn’t even flinch. I thought about calling the front desk and asking if they could remove the beetle so I could enjoy the full amenities of my room, but I figured they’d think I was a crazy person. They’ll think that anyway when they find the stationery supplies scattered outside, but I’ll be long gone by then.

Sitting outside is overhyped anyway.

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the dark

By 9pm, I have nothing left to give. That sounds melodramatic and overwrought and it’s not as bad as all that. I’m simply tired and I can sit at my desk and look at my monitor, but my brain won’t collaborate with me on critical thinking or analysis or anything that would actually reduce the pile of work. Until the end of last year, I could push through, get a second wind, but that ability has been switched off completely. It’s like the universe built a dam in November 2011. The river was torrential; now it’s dry.

I can hear my therapist in my head. “You’ve been working since 8am. It’s now 9pm. It’s Sunday. Of course you can’t work anymore.” But it never used to be this way.

I want to go to sleep RIGHT NOW so I can wake up early and finish up that which I’m neglecting tonight. But I’ll only toss and turn and at 5am, I’ll still be exhausted. I could do something frivolous: read maybe. But that seems like throwing time away. Time I can never get back.

But I keep thinking that things are better.

Is it better?

Last night, like most nights, I had nightmares. I woke up at 3am from dreams of being a child, trapped under rubble; hunted by a murderer. Again. I don’t even watch movies or read books about being trapped and hunted and murdered so where does this even come from?

I sometimes think this must be where horror writers get their material. They dream their plots and terrors and write it all down. But I don’t want to write it down. I want to forget it all as soon as possible. To fall asleep and dream of peaceful things. To not be afraid of the dark.

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my brain is finding a title too difficult to think about

When I first experienced the transformative event, doctors recommended I take some time off. And by recommended, I mean they commanded it. My primary doctor told me I needed to take off at least a month and strongly hinted that if I didn’t, he might not be willing to be my doctor anymore as he can’t heal someone who won’t take the prescribed medicine. (He, of course, said this in the very nicest way possible, both because he’s an exceptionally nice person and because I was sobbing my eyes out every time I saw him due to aforementioned transformative event.)

The doctor at the expensive spa in the desert recommended three months. Don’t take on anything new, he said. Say no to everything.

I just read Out of the Blue, a book about the unexpected onset of a major depressive episode and the resulting fallout. The author was also advised to stop working completely to aid recovery and to take time to travel.

Part of what happens is that your brain is in complete fight or flight mode and every tiny stressor triggers an extreme reaction (in my case, flight). I would flinch at noises, at cars driving by. A ringing phone, a voice mail to return, deciding what to make for dinner — anything could cause me to panic, to feel trapped and claustrophobic, to feel an overwhelming need to escape.

This state overwhelms your brain and every decision becomes too much. You get lost driving down your own block. You have no idea how to estimate what time to leave your house to get to appointments on time. Someone asks if you want a cup of tea. You have no idea.

So yes, taking time off is probably a good idea. If you can reduce the stressors, perhaps recovery comes a bit more easily.  And traveling can make you feel as though you are escaping, a bit, and lets you stop thinking about all of those day to day obligations.

I, like the author of the book, had the luxury of being able to stop working for a while, and to travel. I realize that most people don’t have that luxury and I’m grateful to be in the position I am.

The book is in part about the author’s fight for paid sick leave. Of course, paid sick leave wasn’t an option for me. I own my company. If I don’t work, the company brings in considerably less revenue. And I still need to pay my employees. And my office rent. And my Amazon Web Services bill.

I had the luxury of being able to take nearly two months off almost entirely (although I was only able to go offline completely for eight days). Looking at my P&L, I cringe to see the numbers in red for those months, as they’re the only months in the company’s history that we weren’t profitable.

But, if I look at the larger trend, I can see that the time off is actually helping us make more money, as I was able to refocus our energies on what’s most profitable. And even more importantly, I honestly had no choice. Had I not taken the time, the company definitely would be less profitable as I likely would have collapsed in a heap that the company may not have been able to recover from.

I realized, too, that I need to accelerate our plans for more scalable endeavours that rely less on me. If I take a month off, the company shouldn’t have to effectively shut down. I’d been trying to move the company in this direction for several years, but so many things kept getting in the way. Now I know that I can’t let those things get in the way. Even if it means temporarily seeing those red numbers on spreadsheets.

I’m significantly better than I was, when it was all I could do to get out of bed, when I counted down the minutes to the end of the day when I could take another Xanax and try to sleep. And I want to be entirely better. But the truth is that I’m not entirely better.

I still find it a herculean feat to focus on anything. I look at a list of projects and tasks and dates and none of it makes sense to me. And I sit here and try to force myself to take things one tiny thing at a time.

Which in itself is hard for me, because I’m so used to absorbing everything into my brain, sorting it all out, and getting everything done.

I don’t know what the answer is. My psychologist says the answer is patience. That I am better and will continue to get better. I don’t expect that I will ever be stress-free. That I will reach a moment when I’ll never feel anxiety or hopelessness.

Mostly, I just want to be able to think. To have my brain work the way it used to. To not feel so exhausted all of the time. To not be overwhelmed and panicked by simple things.

How much rest do I need before I stop feeling so tired?

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The Life of A Writer

I’m reading a book by a comedian and he starts the book by talking about the book proposal process. He sends in the proposal to his editor, who hates it, thinks it’s a terrible idea.  But the editor doesn’t say that. Instead, his reply is like, “this is SUPER interesting, but maybe it could be slightly less suicidal sounding? You know because people will think they’re buying a humor book? But don’t want to stifle your creative vision. Just a suggestion!”

And then his manuscript is incredibly late, years late practically. And his editor says, “it would be great to get that manuscript. Just whenever you can. Don’t want to rush you. But you know, it was due in 1997. So, maybe soon.”

And you read that and you think ha ha. Funny. But actually, no. This is exactly what the book writing process is like. Seriously, anyone with low self esteem should just become a writer.

My editor wants me to write another book and I’m gathering together my notes to put together an outline and a proposal. Even when the publisher asks you to write the book, you still have to submit a proposal and they have to approve it. It makes you wonder how in the world anyone who submits an unsolicited proposal can possibly ever get a book published when much of the time they reject your proposal even when it was their idea.

But anyway, looking over the email discussions with my editor about this book proposal, I apparently told him I would get it to him in February. As in it’s now June. And the proposal is only one page long. The mind-boggling thing is that they want me to write the book at all if a single page is already four months late.

You would expect my editor to be irritated. Maybe say “fuck you; you get no book deal”. (Yes, he would probably use a semicolon after the “fuck you”. He’s a senior editor at a huge publishing company!) But no. His emails say things like “what obstacles can I help you overcome to finish this proposal?” I figure if I tell him the obstacles are cute kitten pictures on the internet and new episodes of Cougar Town, I wouldn’t seem very professional.

He really hated my original idea for the book. I can tell this because his email in reply to my pitch started out exactly the same way the comedian described his editor’s response (maybe we have the same editor? probably not): “can you tweak that idea to…” and then ends with “Your idea sounds very interesting! I don’t want to come across as too negative!”

So, I’m sitting here in my pajamas. Trying to remember that great idea I thought I had for a book everyone would buy. And I’m writing this instead. The worst part is that I don’t even feel bad or like I’m procrastinating because this entry is book related. My brain uses any trick it can. Well, my editor’s been waiting since February. What’s a few more days after all.

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eclipse

We couldn’t look directly at the sun or we might go blind. I was scared. I didn’t want to be blind. We were all gathered on my grandparents’ back patio, where much later I sat with them and smoked cigarettes and tried not to talk about cancer, and where later still I drank whiskey with my uncle and wondered how the family would stay together without my grandparents and their house to keep us there. (Turns out, we just didn’t.)

It’s funny how the memories are hazy. I don’t remember which of my cousins were on the patio that day, only that it seems like all of them. Our parents (and aunts and uncles) must have been there, cautioning us on not going blind, helping us fashion pinhole viewers out of cardboard, but I only remember a blur of faces and bodies. And fear.

We keep feelings with us long after the events themselves fade. I don’t even remember seeing the eclipse itself. Maybe I didn’t. Maybe I was too afraid to look.

My lingering feelings aren’t excitement or joy at seeing the eclipse or of fun and happiness at being with my family. They are worry that I don’t know what I’m doing. Fear that it will all go terribly wrong. Awkwardness of being around cousins and aunts and uncles I barely see.

I don’t want to be always be afraid.

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all i ever wanted

This guy lives in his van on the street over from my house. He moves the van from one side of the street to the other every couple of days, but always within a single block. When the weather is nice, he puts out an old wooden adirondack chair on the grassy lawn area in front of an apartment complex and sits in the sun drinking beer. I’m not sure what he does the rest of the time.

I’ve been thinking about him a lot lately. Wait, that’s not quite right. Driving by his van every day has got me thinking about myself is what I really mean.

We live these lives that are so stressed out. We have these pressures and obligations and burdens and responsibilities but the truth is that these are things we build ourselves. Bills, appointments, whatever. We think that it is these things that cause us so much stress, but we could easily walk away from all of them. That guy in the van doesn’t have a mortgage payment or five conference calls in one day or a hot tub repair guy who doesn’t return phone calls.

But I don’t think the answer is to be the guy in the van. Then we’d have an entirely new set of stressors. Obviously.

Life is like a see-saw. The obligations and responsibilities make it possible to sit with friends and have a bottle of wine and watch the sunset, to fly to Brazil and stand under Christ the Redeemer. The key, as always, is balance.

balance

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we could find new ways to fall apart

Today, I posed this to the therapist: I keep ending up in the same place over and over. One friend tells me I must shut down my company and do something else because I keep trying to make changes and none of them seem to have made a difference in helping me regain my sanity. But if I look back, I had these same edge of sanity moments before I had this company, so can it really be circumstance? I told her about how irritated I got yesterday and thought perhaps the answer really was to ditch it all and start over.

She said what she always says about how change is a process and I may not know the end, I only know what’s next. But she also said that it sounded like I was trying to avoid getting irritated when perhaps it was perfectly reasonable that I was irritated. And then we dove into the analytical waters of learned behavior and past coping skills needed for survival (perhaps no longer needed) around keeping emotions hidden and so on with the childhood angst.

Anyway. I said I would work on having feelings, but she told me that my homework was that I don’t have homework. So, there’s a conundrum.

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life’s like this

Today, I came across this:

Maybe the universe is trying to tell me something. Last week I was in despair about what to do with my life WHILE I WAS WALKING IN THE SUN ON A BEAUTIFUL BEACH. And not only did I have no problems that day, but it was actually particularly good.

In my last entry, I was writing about how just finding a way to be happy with my current situation used to be the wrong answer, but that doesn’t mean it’s always the wrong answer. And maybe it’s not about being satisfied and accepting of everything around you, but it’s about recognizing and appreciating those parts of your life that in fact are pretty great. But in my typical binary fashion, I can’t seem to wrap my head around that.

So maybe what I should do is this: any time I get irritated and angry and disgruntled and mean, I should stop and make a list of all of the good things (about that situation particularly, if I can find any). For instance, when I get to the airport, I hate everyone because airports are terrible and all of our personal freedoms are taken away, and you are at the whim of the airline employees, and then you have to go really high up in the sky in a claustrophobic tube and try not to fall thousands of feet and die.

But I could look at things differently. I get to travel somewhere. Not everyone gets to do that. I might even be going somewhere warm. And so on.

I thought of this today as I became irrationally angry at something that didn’t even matter. And yet it was impacting my entire day and in fact, making me further question my current career path. Because this one thing made me angry, I should completely change careers as not to have to encounter it anymore? It’s possible I take things to extremes.

I want to make a list of everything that’s good.

Only there’s no time. There’s never any time. And I’m back to where I started, wondering how I got here. Wondering how to get to a place where I don’t feel behind with everything all of the time. Tired, so tired of hearing myself wonder how to get that.

And so it goes like that.

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i was a flight risk, with a fear of falling

Yes, Taylor Swift again. She’s like that wise old man at the top of the mountain dispensing the meaning of life. Only with more bouncy curls.

I’ve been reading the archives here and the patterns are frustrating. Looking back, I thought the problem was circumstance, so I jumped off the speeding train. Only the lack of time, the crushing weight, the sinking realization I had to do everything all of the time, it all followed right behind me. Then, I thought maybe the problem was my response to circumstance, so I worked hard to change my reactions. And again. And yet. These things help, but now I wonder if what I really need to learn to do is change my perception. Appreciate the good things.

It’s tricky. In some ways, that’s what got me into the worst of it all — I was so focused on pleasing everyone else but me that I thought what I wanted didn’t matter. I thought the answer was to be happy where I was, when where I was would never make me happy.

Our fears and hopes and reactions are often based on past experiences, not what’s in front of us now. Sometimes, that serves us very well. Other times, not at all. How can we know which time is which?

When I escaped to the desert, one of the counselors there said I had trouble with discernment. I don’t trust anything, don’t count on anything, because when I have, I’ve been let down. She said it wasn’t that nothing can be trusted, but that I had been trusting the wrong things, the wrong people. Maybe.

It always seems like all or nothing, but it never is. It’s just what comes next.

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this could really be a good life

So get this.

Apparently it’s not my responsibility to solve the problems of the entire world. Who knew? This is a fortunate turn of events, since as it happens, I’m not actually able to solve the problems of the entire world. It’s weird how I realized long ago that I can’t be my mom’s savior, but it’s seemed perfectly logical to try and be the savior for people I don’t even know.

Anyway, that’s new.

I was talking to my therapist today about this new perspective and mentioned how the reason I started a company was not because I wanted to run a company or had some grand vision, but because people kept contacting me asking me for something that didn’t exist (as far as I knew) and since I knew I could create it, it didn’t cross my mind that I had any course of action open to me than to do so. Which is not to say I didn’t get anything out of it. That’s one of the harder parts of all this, of course. We keep doing these things because they work on some level, even if in other ways they don’t work at all. (See for instance: transformative event for the parts that don’t work quite so well.)

So once again, I rethink everything I ever knew. And all of the definitive statements I’ve ever made here might not always be true after all.

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i just want to be ok

Because I want to be wholly improved, feel as though I should be completely cured by now (time has past, money has been spent on retreating, medicating, analyzing, and so on), I continue to be surprised by signs that I am not. I find it nearly impossible to get out of bed in the mornings. I can’t fall asleep at night. My dreams are filled with nightmares. I feel a weight on my chest. I manage to make it through the motions of the day and get home at 5pm, 4pm, and collapse. Just getting through the day has drained me. The exhaustion is total. Everything irritates me. I can’t focus. I can’t function in the way I expect.

So many things remain undone.

I’ve been doing all of the healthy recommendations to move past debilitating depression and anxiety: I’ve seen medical doctors and have had batteries of tests; I’ve gone away for a relaxing technology-free break; I take walks; I practice breathing; I eat flax seed and whole grain bread and vegetables; I take herbs; I burn aromatherapy oil; I lift weights; I sleep in; I see a psychologist; I take Xanax. And yet.

Tonight, I’ve decided to try drinking. If nothing else, surely it will help with the insomnia. Alcohol has fewer calories than ice cream or chocolate, so I figure it will look less glaring on the daily log where I keep careful track of my nutritional intake, as part of the set of healthy recommendations I am following to try and get better. I admit (here, I mean, not to the nutrition diary) I ate an entire chocolate bar a few days ago and neglected to write it down. I told a friend about it. “One of those little mini candy bars?” she asked. No. An entire large chocolate bar. (For those unfamiliar with tracking every nutritional data point, a entire chocolate bar has around 500 calories and 40 grams of fat, around one-third the suggested daily intake of calories, and just about the entire daily intake of fat for someone such as myself for an entire day.)

I feel like a jerk. I have so much more than so many. And yet all I can do is complain. A friend said I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. That maybe I have the foundation and the tip of Maslow’s hierarcharcy of needs, but I’m missing the middle. Can you have self-actualization without love, belonging, and safety? And from a logical perspective, I really have safety nailed down too. I guess I just don’t operate as though I do.

Every night, I think: tomorrow I will have the energy to do that. (That being everything from making a five minute phone call to completing a two week project.) And yet I don’t. And part of the problem is that I have no sense of perspective, no depth perception, no way to know who to trust, what to believe. Every step is into the unknown, into darkness, no way to know if I’ll land on solid ground or fall into the abyss.

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a transformative event

According to convention wisdom, it seems there are two ways of completely changing your life, in the case that you wake up one day and realize you’ve been living it entirely wrong.

The first way involves introducing small changes that you repeat over time until they become habits. The only way for something to stick, one hears, is to start small, one change at a time. Only if what you’re looking to do is make lots of really big changes, that’s not really the advice you want to hear. Admittedly, the reaction to such advice doesn’t make much sense, which is to not make any changes at all. After all, if you’d started making those small changes one by one a year ago, you might have an entirely different life by now.

But still, when one is trapped in fear and desperation, the idea of somehow ignoring all of that and going about your day, slowly becoming untrapped, undesperate, and no longer paralyzed by anxiety and soul-crushing sadness doesn’t always sound like a fun option.

The second way involves having some transformative event that completely changes one’s life a la the Biblical Road to Damascus transformation of Saul to Paul. You hear about these types of events all the time: “it changed my life”, someone might say, and they don’t mean that in the way that everyone’s life changes all of the time with everything we do, but rather that they went from one kind of life to a different kind of life. I had hoped that a near-death experience would have come complete with a life exchange silver lining, but you can’t get everything you wish for.

Perhaps fortunately, a complete mental breakdown may be all that a girl needs, so I’ve been exploring that possibility. I had been toying with the idea of having myself (hopefully temporarily) committed to an institution whose sole goal it is to provide transformative events through serious medical treatment, but I’ve since discovered one of those more peaceful (by which I mean luxurious, by which I mean expensive) locations that celebrities retreat to due to “exhaustion”. And now that I have taken enough Xanax, I even feel stable enough to book into the non-clinic portion of said location (by which I mean, the section that doesn’t have admittance rules banning sharp objects).

Will it really help? I have no idea. The mental breakdown itself is already dramatically changing my behavior. “You’re saying no to things. That’s great!” says my breakdown-triggered newly appointed twice-a-week psychologist. It’s not the result of the efforts of something I’m trying to do, I explain. I mentally have no ability to add anything else. I’ve become completely non-functional. I have no choice but to say no. She suggests I look at things differently. I’m still meeting deadlines, finishing projects, running a company. I finished the manuscript for the new edition of my book. I’m going to the gym. I may not be as functional as I’m used to, but I’m functioning.

I think of all of the things I haven’t done. Everything I’m completely blocking from my mind because it’s the only way I can function at all. The mornings I need a Xanax to get out of bed because I wake up mid-panic attack. The times I’ve been unable to move from the couch. For hours. How I went to bed last night at 8pm and slept for 12 hours, waking up only for the nightmares. That doesn’t feel like functioning to me.

So maybe that’s the transformative event. I can’t go on feeling like this. Insanity, after all, it doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. So if I want to end up feeling differently than this, I will have to do something other than what I’ve been doing (by which I mean for my entire life).

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i went in seeking clarity

This is what I thought about when I thought I was going to die.

Backstory: Perhaps ironically, only days earlier I was at a book event, where bookish people walked around and eyed us author types as one might evaluate lobsters at one of those pick-your-own seafood places. We (the authors) smiled behind our books in likely the opposite fashion of said lobsters (pick me! pick me!) and tried to helpfully answer questions from reluctant potential buyers in some way other than “yes, I can see that $25 is a steep price to pay for that year I spent pouring my heart and soul into the words on those pages. Totally reasonable point.”

I had it easier than the memoir writers, of course. I was exceedingly impressed they didn’t say that to each and every person who flipped through their book’s pages dismissively. After all, business books have little detail of personal torment and sorrow. Although I hope my fellow writers were in turn impressed that I didn’t respond to the person who asked if she would actually learn anything from my book or if it was all stuff she already knew with “I’m not sure. Show me your book and let’s compare.”

But the point is that every so often, we lobsters would escape our tanks. On the plane the night before, I had read one of the memoir-style books: this one about a fast-paced TV news producer who had a brain hemorrhage and nearly died, and then took stock of his life and made some changes. I was chatting with him about the experience and he told me that how you figure out what’s important is what you think about in those moments when you truly think you’re going to die. That it’s not if they got the right person booked on the show that day. It’s your family. Your spouse. Your children.

Well, fuck you. I don’t have those things, so what the hell can I do about that? Only I only said that to him in my head. He was very nice, actually.

In any case, as it turned out, I had cause to try out this theory less than a week later, while on a tiny plane with my seven-year old niece. After the worst turbulence I’ve ever experienced (context: I have been on over 90 flights this year alone), things suddenly took a turn for the worse. The plane began plummeting out of control, everything not tied down flew through the air (for instance: passengers), everyone was screaming. It was your ordinary, every day, basic plane crash scene from a movie. Or perhaps the pilot episode of Lost.

After several hours (possibly this was actually less than a minute, but I’m pretty sure it was about three hours), the pilot seemed to regain control of the plane and we went back to the much calmer state of the worst turbulence I’ve ever experienced. He then came on to apologize. A lot. And reassure us that we would be landing soon. No really.

In those moments — not the actual I’m-going-to-die-we’re-crashing moments — but the ones just after, with the bracing that the really actual death was likely coming any moment, a part of me tried to focus. What did I think about when I knew I was dying? Is that a clue as to the meaning of my life?

This is what I thought: “Oh my fucking God. I cannot believe I’m going to fucking die right now in a plane crash.” Which isn’t all that helpful in life focus other than it supports my theory that I don’t really want to die. My post-crashing moment thoughts were about my sister and about how sad she would be that her daughter died in a plane crash. So, I guess I’m not entirely selfish.

My third set of thoughts (after the “fuck I’m going to die” and “my poor sister” ones) weren’t helpful either, to the extent that I can’t even really write about them. They were all self-pity and woe is me and wishing for things that don’t exist. (Despite what people tell you, your dreams can’t always come true. Dreaming for a pet unicorn that takes you on rides to your friend the leprechaun’s house won’t actually get you very far, sadly.)

My point is that I didn’t gain any new life insights from my near-death experience and I’m kind of mad about that because if you almost die, shouldn’t you get something positive out of it? All in all, I guess I can’t really recommend this method for seeking clarity. In case you were considering it.

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i’m not a princess, this ain’t a fairy tale

I’m caught between two equally crushing feelings:

1) I’m too old (that is, smart) to believe in the white horse, in Lloyd Dobler holding the boom box in the rain, in that feeling that someone who I only want wants only me.

Stupid girl, I should have known, I should have known.

2) Love is the most important thing in life.

Love was as hardwired into the structure of the universe as gravity and matter.

The latter quote from the Hyperion series (the former, of course, from the font of wisdom Taylor Swift).

I was talking to someone about Hyperion’s message that love is like gravity and he said that that was a perspective I likely didn’t agree with. But maybe he’s wrong about that.

Love isn’t something that you can plan; the best one can do is hope. And what’s the point of that? Except Gandhi said, “It is the law of love that rules mankind. It gives me ineffable joy to go on trying to prove that.”

So no wonder I avoid it. The most important thing in life. And there’s nothing one can do to reach it except wait and hope.

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there will be an answer, let it be

I always have a collection of half-written drafts that remain unposted here. All these lists of pop song lyrics, as though perhaps I’m hoping the truth of life is surfaced through radio happiness. Right now, it’s mostly a collection of lines from “Closer to Fine” by the Indigo Girls:

I’m trying to tell you something about my life…

I sailed my ship of safety till I sank it…

I went in seeking clarity…

The less I seek my source for some definitive, the closer I am to fine.

This is the lesson I keep learning over and over again my entire life. I can’t know it all. I can’t control it all. I have no idea what’s going to happen next. But sometimes, sometimes. Couldn’t I just have some assurance, even just a little?

I know, I don’t even like the Beatles, but I wonder sometimes: “there will be answer, let it be”. Is that a statement or a plea? I repeat it to remind myself: Let it be. There will be an answer. Even though there’s not an answer right now. Even though the road is so dark and I can’t see at all into the blackness.

When all I want is to be enough, even then. Let it be.

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