Just When You Think…

I’m not OK. Thought I was, but nope.

I went on a date the other night. My first real date in a very long time. He’s a writer/historian, speaks Spanish, is a professional traveler. On paper, my ideal man. In person, a really nice guy, fun to talk to, not too hard on the eyes. Overall, the date was not a disaster. There was no chemistry, but that wasn’t what I was after. I just wanted proof that there might be one or two decent human beings out there, and that my taste in men is not too far fetched. I was proven right. I have a chance at this one day.

But in the meantime, I don’t think I’ll be going on any more dates. I found that hour and a half of chatting with a stranger to be utterly exhausting, and I’ve been an emotional wreck ever since. I don’t want to make smalltalk. I want to share silence. I don’t want to hold my coffee and nod and agree. I want to hold your hand and feel our energy swirl together. I want to slow dance in the kitchen. I want to give you a foot rub when you get off of work. I want to curl up in your arms when I’m feeling lost and small. I don’t want to come home to someone. I want to come home to you.

So yeah, not OK. We’re not even talking. You’re just a blank page and a blinking cursor now. I hope that I didn’t just imagine you. I’ve felt a lot of different empties in my life, but I’m pretty sure this is the worst.

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Tongue Tired

I’ve been out of words for awhile now. The last time I wrote here, it was my intention to start blogging with intensity over at my new site, and reserve this site for journal posts. As it turns out, I haven’t been able to write on either site. I’ve been curiously devoid of words. I’d say tongue tied, but that implies that you’re finding it difficult to release pent up words. I guess I’ll say tongue tired, instead. Just exhausted by the mere thought of dredging up words. Unable, unwilling.

Tomorrow marks my first full day off of work in months. That’s probably half of the reason I’m so blank. I’m not feeling physically tired (even when I work 36 hours straight, I don’t suffer from physical exhaustion anymore). However, I’m in a place now where my brain is chug, chug, chugging along for the entire time I’m at my job, but the moment that I leave, it just turns off. I go through the motions, but to be quite honest, it’s something of a half life. I see people going out to parties, couples walking hand-in-hand, artists showing their creations, and I’m jealous but instantly worn out just from imagining trying to fit any of it into my life.

I do have fun in my life. It’s not always a drag. When I’m at my job, I chat with coworkers, take pleasure in figuring out all of the strange complexities of event management, do all of the odd jobs at the front desk, get hotel guests to tell me all about their travel adventures. But as soon as I punch out, that girl is mostly gone. She shuts down, and the quiet part of me comes back, the part who wants nothing more than to listen to nerdcore, watch BBC shows, and enjoy a nice glass of Scotch.

The good news is that throwing myself into my work is having positive results, even if it’s taking forever and a day. Having no time to do anything but work and sleep means that I’m not wasting money anywhere. It’s still taking a long time, but I’m paying down my debts, little by little. Maybe by the time I’m 40, I’ll be able to afford a car. Ha. Oh god, I wish that were a joke.

Anyway, I also feel a tad less heartbroken than I did a couple of months ago, so that’s good. I’m still smarting a bit whenever I think of my ex, but we’ve had some nice, simple conversations about safe subjects via text, and I feel like eventually things won’t be so crappy. I really miss him. He’s one of the best friends I’ve ever had, so it really hurts to not be able to talk to him about the things that are impacting my life. But it’s healthy to not talk to him about, well, him, lol.

In related news, I feel like I’m making some strides toward eventually being a successful single girl again. I shared the same airspace with a really cute guy at my coffee shop the other day, and felt an unfamiliar urge to talk to him. He was intriguing, had a great Scottish accent, and he was totally peacocking around in a way that made me wonder if maybe he might have noticed me, too. He commandeered the coffee shop radio and played some great tunes, and we all know that’s my type of guy. Spoiler alert: I didn’t talk to him, because I got legitimately tongue tied and awkward and ended up hiding behind my computer until he left. But it was still an interesting thing to have happen. I’m very seldom attracted to people, and even less seldom do I run into smart, funny, AND interesting men. So it’s kind of cool to know that any still exist. Bonus points – he openly mocked American football while standing in line for coffee. Be still my heart.

Other guy stories: I joined Tinder on NYE, for about four hours, then hid my profile. I matched with five guys, three of whom were total ugh, one was cute but kind of boring, and one was a gentleman who has remained in touch without being pushy. We’re both into food, so I hope to meet up with him after work one night once I’ve lived through Mardi Gras, just to grab a drink and try out appetizers at some restaurant neither of us has visited before. Also interesting, I think that a guy at work might like me. He’s an enigma, and you know I can’t resist the promise of a weird time, so we’ll see what happens.

I think that’s all I have to say tonight. It’s time to go home and watch Aquarius.

What I Read in 2017

For the past five years, I’ve been keeping track of every book that I read, with the goal of reading one book per week. The list is tracked in a tab at the top of this page, called “Reading List.” Every year, I’ve gotten closer to my goal, but I still didn’t quite make it in 2017. Even so, this was the year that it finally felt like my reading goals were firmly cemented into my daily practice, so that’s something to celebrate.

The other thing that I like to do at the close of the year is to take stock of the books that I’ve read, and note what caught my interest this year. How have my tastes changed? What remained the same? What genres am I drawn to? Etc. I’m glad that I’ve been keeping track, because it turns out that my tastes have actually changed quite drastically. Up until about five years ago, I only read fantasy and horror, with the occasional foray into medieval historical fiction. As I started pushing myself to read more, I noticed that while my love of medieval fiction never waned, I began to find fantasy tedious. (The jury is still out on horror.)

This year, I read a considerable amount of non-fiction (mostly memoirs), and spent a delicious couple of months exploring Viking warfare in Saxon England with a fictional series by Bernard Cornwell. Exactly half of the books on my list had a female protagonist. Almost half took place in Great Britain or Ireland. Over 60% focused in some way on spirituality or religion. Here’s the full list:

  1. Wishful Drinking, by Carrie Fisher (1/10/17)
  2. A Vision of Light, by Judith Merkle Riley (1/12/17)
  3. In Pursuit of the Green Lion, by Judith Merkle Riley (1/21/17)
  4. Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner, by Judy Melinek, M.D. & T.J. Mitchell (1/22/17)
  5. Plain and Simple: A Woman’s Journey to the Amish, by Sue Bender (1/26/17)
  6. The Water Devil, by Judith Merkle Riley (1/31/17)
  7. Résistance: Memoirs of Occupied France, by Agnes Humbert (2/5/17)
  8. The Reader, by Bernhard Schlink (2/5/17)
  9. The Boy at the Gate, by Danny Ellis (2/18/17)
  10. Stray Bullets, Vol. 1: Innocence of Nihilism, by David Lapham (2/19/17)
  11. Shockaholic, by Carrie Fisher (2/23/17)
  12. The Princess Diarist, by Carrie Fisher (2/25/17)
  13. The Color of Magic, by Terry Pratchett (2/28/17)
  14. The Macha of Chira: Confessions of an Anthropologist, by Ethelyn G. Orso (3/6/17)
  15. The Three Weissmanns of Westport, by Cathleen Schine (3/12/17)
  16. The Marvelous Misadventures of Ingrid Winter, by J.S. Drangsholt (3/17/17)
  17. In Praise of the Bees, by Kristin Gleeson (3/18/17)
  18. Mercer Girls, by Libbie Hawker (3/20/17)
  19. Wild, by Cheryl Strayed (5/17/17)
  20. Solid State, by Jonathan Coulton, Matt Fraction, and Albert Monteys (8/10/17)
  21. The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 1: The Faust Act, by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matt Wilson (8/12/17)
  22. The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 2: Fandemonium, by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matt Wilson (8/12/17)
  23. The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 3, by Kieron Gillen, Brandon Graham, Clayton Cowles, Jamie McKelvie, Kate Brown, Leila Del Duca, Mat Lopes, Matt Wilson, Stephanie Hans, Tula Lotay, and Jamie McKelvie (8/12/17)
  24. The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 4: Rising Action, by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matt Wilson (8/12/17)
  25. The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 5: Imperial Phase (1), by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matt Wilson (8/14/17)
  26. Bitch Planet, Vol. 2: President Bitch, by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Taki Soma, Valentine De Landro, and Kelly Fitzpatrick (8/14/17)
  27. Seven to Eternity, Vol. 1, by Rick Remender, Jerome Opeña, and Matt Hollingsworth (8/14/17)
  28. P.S. from Paris, by Marc Levy (8/14/17)
  29. Call the Nurse: True Stories of a Country Nurse on a Scottish Isle, by Mary J. McLeod (8/25/17)
  30. How Not to Run a B&B, by Bobby Hutchinson (8/27/17)
  31. A Thousand Days in Venice, by Marlena di Blasi (9/5/17)
  32. Jack and Rochelle: A Holocaust Story of Love and Resistance, by Jack and Rochelle Sutin (9/9/17)
  33. The Last Kingdom (The Saxon Tales, #1), by Bernard Cornwell (9/16/17)
  34. The Pale Horseman (The Saxon Tales, #2), by Bernard Cornwell (9/19/17)
  35. Lords of the North (The Saxon Tales, #3), by Bernard Cornwell (9/26/17)
  36. Sword Song: The Battle for London (The Saxon Tales, #4), by Bernard Cornwell (9/30/17)
  37. The Burning Land (The Saxon Tales, #5), by Bernard Cornwell (10/4/17)
  38. Death of Kings (The Saxon Tales, #6), by Bernard Cornwell (10/8/17)
  39. The Pagan Lord: A Novel (The Saxon Tales, #7), by Bernard Cornwell (10/22/17)
  40. The Empty Throne (The Saxon Tales, #8), by Bernard Cornwell (10/31/17)
  41. Warriors of the Storm (The Saxon Tales, #9), by Bernard Cornwell (11/7/17)
  42. The Flame Bearer (The Saxon Tales, #10), by Bernard Cornwell (11/17/17)
  43. Bad Things, by Tamara Thorne (12/3/17)
  44. Angela’s Ashes, by Frank McCourt (12/17/17)
  45. ‘Tis, by Frank McCourt (12/26/17)
  46. The Maltese Falcon, by Dashiell Hammett (12/27/17)
  47. For One More Day, by Mitch Albom (12/30/17)
  48. The Gift of Story, by Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Ph.D. (12/30/17)

Overall, I am proud of my efforts this year, if a little disappointed that I couldn’t fit just four more books in. But that just gives me reason to try again next year, right?

2017GenreBreakdown2017ReadingList

If you’re interested in seeing a breakdown of I read last year and the year before, click here to visit What I Read in 2016.

New Tactics – Horror Movies, Cuss Words, and a Bold Life

I spent Thanksgiving at a friend’s house. It was a good time; even though it was his first time hosting Thanksgiving, it was obvious that he has a flair for entertaining. The meal – every part cooked from scratch – was delicious. The company was eclectic and well-balanced. There were only seven of us in total (not counting Gracie, our canine guest), so we could all jump in and out of conversation. We drank champagne, devoured a huge meal, then talked in small groups for hours. It was nice. No political conversation, no arguments, no family in-fighting. Definitely an A+ Thanksgiving.

Though I had a fabulous time just chatting with everyone about all sorts of stuff, one of the host’s friends and I found common ground in our shared love of horror movies (especially supernatural horror). Once we discovered each other’s interest, the conversation got deliciously geeky. We talked for a long time, sharing movie suggestions and finally dragging the host into watching movie trailers with us (we were the last three standing, thanks to getting sucked into movie conversation).

It was so nice to meet a new friend, but more than that, it was a total rush to remember this thing that I’m passionate about. I’ve been feeling lost, like I can’t communicate myself to anyone, including me. I’m just starting to try to sort through the jumble of facts and fictions in which I’ve wrapped myself, to figure out what it is that I am, what I love, where I’m going to go with all of that information. So to get SUPER EXCITED about discussing horror movies was total joy. I know, I know, it’s small to you, maybe. But for me, it gives me hope.

I have a thing that I love (a few things, actually – I can now confidently say that I love hiking, the Camino, WWII history, medieval religious architecture, St. Francis, NC BBQ, and supernatural horror movies). And I know people who like each of these things. I have friends who love the outdoors, and Camino buddies, and even a friend from the Camino who is also a WWII history buff. So logically, I understand that my interests are not held within a bubble. My interests are not special, exactly. But you can love these things, and when you never talk about them, you forget that they touch your heart, they open your mind, they bring you a passionate connection to the world.

So in meeting a person who deeply appreciated something that I also deeply appreciate,  it’s been reiterated to me that my interests are valid. And even more special, my new friend likes this movie genre for the same specific reason, in the same way, that I do. You know, you meet people all the time who like horror movies because they love blood, or like monsters, or get some weird joy out of seeing bad things happen to people in a make-believe setting. But that’s not why I like horror films; in fact, most blood and guts type movies disgust me (unless the “bad guy” is a witch, in which case I normally root for her, no matter how gruesome it gets, understanding that the story is being told from a skewed P.O.V., and she has every right to protect herself from the bullshit religious right patriarchy, lol). But in general, I watch supernatural horror because I like thinking about the unseen, and how close we are to touching it, and how often we’re a part of it without knowing. It was really cool to meet someone who understands that, and geeks out about it in the same way. It gives me hope for my future.

All this being said, it’s time for me to focus my energy on that hope, on firing up my passion, becoming more confident in being myself, knowing who that “self” is, discontinuing my need to seek permission to be joyous and geeky and fired up over the simple things (and the complex ones). I’m going to take a step away from Compass & Quill for awhile, while I build my message over on my new blog.

NOTE TO MY RELATIVES: Before you click that link above, if you’re related to me and don’t like cuss (curse) words, just do yourself a favor and don’t bother. I will be cussing. You won’t like it. And honestly, I don’t intend on entertaining a conversation with you about watching my language at 36. I’m not going to, the end, get used to the fact that I’m a decent human being, you’ve done the best you can, and it’s time to move on and stop nitpicking. I’m having a difficult enough time with my life without having to deal with making you happy 100% of the time. It’s your job to make you happy, and when you let me make you unhappy over something miniscule and pointless, it’s not my fault, it’s yours for blowing things out of proportion.

The #1 problem in my life right now is that I’ve always shifted my life around to make everyone around me happy, and in the process, I lost the ability to see the difference between making you all happy and making ME happy. And EVERY SINGLE DECISION ends up being a source of inner conflict, as I worry about what every person I’ve ever known and loved might think of me when I make it. I mean, seriously, I get caught up and confused when buying dish soap, in case one of my friends might come over and be upset with me for using an unpleasant scent (and I don’t ever have houseguests). Let’s not even get into choosing throw pillows, or new shoes, or picking up a hobby, or trying to have a normal conversation at a coffee shop. This goes to say that I have a major problem with letting what I think you all want dictate the way I run my life, when you’re not even present. That’s entirely my fault, not yours, and I’m going to eliminate it this year. My first step is being painfully honest about the ways that I let people hurt me, and have power over me, without even knowing it. So let’s just cut the bullshit, and you can stop agonizing that my use of cuss words will make me white trash, while I stop agonizing that my use of cuss words will make you not love me anymore. Capice?

Ever Red

Once, I found a tube of Chanel lip color at one of my favorite bars. I already get cold sores on occasion, so I have no fear of catching the virus now. I loved the color, this deep berry shade called Ever Red, and it was obviously nearly brand new, so I kept it.

Months later, I saw a good friend of mine using the same type of lipstick, but in a slightly different shade. I told her about the tube of Ever Red I’d found. She told me that a few months back, she’d lost a tube of Chanel lipstick in that exact shade, at that same bar. At the time, she was really upset, because she’d only used it once, and it was expensive. But then she went back to the store and found a shade that she liked even more, and thought that she was actually happier with the new choice than she would have been with the old one.

Maybe you took from that, “Gross, she reused mystery lipstick that she found at a bar!” Or maybe you thought, “Wow, great score,” or perhaps, “Talk about a crazy coincidence!” Someone (or many someones) probably thought, “You’re lucky you didn’t catch something.” I just thought that my friend was glamorous for splurging on Chanel lipstick (among all of the other stylish beauty choices she makes). I offered to give the lipstick back, but instead, she gave me the other tube, too. She’d moved on to a new brand that she liked more.

In the end, the first tube leaked into my bag one day. I’m just too much of a mess for Chanel, I guess.

Life Block

I’m tired. Soul tired. Deeply exhausted. So stressed that I’ve gone beyond stressed and come out on the other side, and instead of worry, I feel nothing. I just chew my cheeks and crack my wrists and keep on moving, moving, moving.

I am overweight. My stomach pooches out. I hate it, keep thinking how to fix it, keep doing nothing. I don’t have the time to sleep, how do I find the time to exercise? My mind tick tocks off the edge just trying to figure it out.

Tomorrow is my last day at work. Monday is my first day at work. I also have my second job on Friday night and Sunday morning, and in between, I’ll attend a wedding on Saturday. I want to sleep through all of these things, but that’s not in the cards.

My house is filthy. It seems like there’s cat litter in everything, on everything. Nothing smells good. Everything’s gritty or dusty. Even the cleanest things are still covered in cat hair. Munky threw up on the rug. I have a huge pile of dirty clothes that I have to smuggle in to work tomorrow night, to wash overnight and smuggle back out in the morning somehow.

I’m living at the precipice. I see my life and it is not me. I am not me. I am not here anymore, but when I leave the house, I’m putting on a good enough show.

In truth, I am so lonely. The only friend I want to talk to is the one who doesn’t love me anymore. Every other conversation tiptoes around the edges, skips over the hidden like it’s invisible instead of just hard to find. Eclectic people find me square, and square people find me eclectic. It feels like my life has writer’s block. I need to shout at the stars, but silently, in code, and know that someone is listening, using his decoder ring, nodding along. Without that person on the other side, this is just implosion, madness. I can’t make myself understood anymore. I speak a dead tongue, and no one is left who cares to translate.

Wish Wash

There’s this lump in my throat, and sometimes as I’m walking home from work, I just start to ugly sob for half a second. Then I swallow, and keep walking, feet slapping against pavement, happy songs on the radio to balance me out enough to keep me from sitting down and staying there. What is this? What stage of grief? I am angry and sad and lonely and lonesome (which feel like two different things) and angry again and wistful and pragmatic and and I know that even if things were different, nothing would really change. I keep wondering if this is how my one-before-this-one ex felt about me – like his best friend had died, ripped away by the undertow in the middle of the darkest night, snatched from his grasp before he knew what was happening. And then I wonder if my now-ex feels about me the same way I feel about my one-before-this ex, and that line of thought nearly kills me each time it pops into my head. Because I find out anew every day that there is no one on my wavelength, and even though there are plenty of people who love me, whom I love, people who make me smile and people who tell me stories, and people who ask me about my life, there’s only one person I can share my imaginings with, and never have to wonder if the dreams sunk in correctly. There is precisely one person in the world with whom I have been completely myself, at all times, and now he is gone, and I am sinking inside myself so deeply and it’s dark in here, so dark. I know that I’m just tired. I haven’t slept in going on two days. I haven’t had a drink in a week. I haven’t had a hug in nearly a month. I haven’t spoken to another human being in my own house in months. I am turning 36 tomorrow, and there’s no one to slow dance with me in the kitchen, to kiss the small of my back, to listen to me talk about the shape of the moon in my heart, and understand exactly what I’m struggling to say. I don’t want to do this.