Gone Fishing, To a Psychic, & Illness Strikes Twice


Friday, I chose to rest, hoping to recover from the week’s emotional and physical trials. I knew now I’d need tests, which was additional stress, but stress I was prepared to endure if they meant answers and solutions.

Gone Fishing

Saturday, I finally allowed myself to feel sadness, missing my friend who left for Wisconsin. Learning to accept that friends is all we can be has been hard, but worth doing. He’s onward to amazing things, and so am I, I hope, but we aren’t moving in the same direction at the moment. On Saturday I cried, and took a walk. It was a beautiful day, and I was feeling a little sensitive but lively. Out with my Mom, we stopped to sit by the river, a bike-path and a park adjacent to it. While there, whimsy entertained us, and we met a boy, an aspiring herpetologist, who caught a well-nourished green frog, and he assured us he’d put it back as soon as he showed his mom. We also met an older gentleman eager to teach me to fish (I have been fishing before, but I’m no expert). I caught a small blue-gill which we promptly threw back after appreciating its gorgeous scales (we let the fish keep the worm, of course). The fisherman confessed that after mounting an impressive catch on his wall, he vowed to never keep another fish he caught again. He said the fish he’d treated like a trophy would’ve been a mature fish for its size, and that “you don’t get that big by being stupid.” He regrets it to this day that that fish isn’t still swimming where he caught him. In fact, the trophy he gave away to a friend, not bearing to look at it. Afterwards, I got home feeling generally better, and happy that I forced myself to see the world outside of myself for a while.

… To A Psychic

Sunday, I saw a psychic, an Angel Reader more specifically, the one I’ve been going to for a while. I see her quite exclusively, because in conjunction with whatever message she might receive for me, she accompanies that message with helpful advice and insight. She’s a calming person to be around, and I value her for more than her intuitions. She’s seen me through hard transitions, especially of the romantic kind, and she helps me without judging me. She is nurturing, and speaks to me like an equal. Whether or not you, reader, believe in psychics, I think a person like this in one’s life is indispensable. What I mean by that is she’s a person who helps me by providing an objective perspective, advice that helps me to keep a positive and productive outlook on my life, and she helps me keep in touch with my spirituality, and make peace with the unknown, and the greater scheme of things. A person like that, whether in a psychic, a teacher, a mentor, or a therapist is invaluable, each specifically helpful to individual needs.

Illness Strikes Twice

Monday, I came down with a swift and terrible cold, and so left work 15 minutes early as soon as I was done with what I needed to finish. And I slept.

Tuesday, sick and in bed, I meditated on healing thoughts, because I could not have a raging cold and take the last of my prescribed tests. In fact, due to my upcoming tests I could not take normal pain killers or cold medicines. I was limited to Tylenol, and help from the Universe. I needed to kick this thing.

Wednesday, I was substantially better than the night before, but had to prep for the next round of tests, and so was on a liquid diet for the day, and we’ll leave it at that to spare the details. My mood survived at a convenient neutral with the help of (Spoiler Alert!) Daphne and Niles, finally professing their love for each other on the 90s sitcom, Frasier. Guilt-free, I admit to watching all eleven seasons for the third time around.

Thursday, the (hopefully) last round of tests. The nurses were incredibly kind, and even found me funny, which always lightens my mood. My parents were also supportive, and gentle. In spite of the anxiety I knew they were experiencing, they did their best to hide it from me. So far, the prognosis is favorable, and I’ll know officially in about a week. Relieved that this is likely something manageable without long-term or high-stakes consequences, they ate hearty at lunch, and I ate light, now developing a habit of asking for a to-go box no matter the size of the serving, respecting that my stomach may be the right size, but the system might not be up for the challenge. I’m feeling optimistic, and comforted by the fact that so many of my friends have wished me well today. I guess that’s the silver lining of the storm cloud of illness: you find out that people you wouldn’t have guessed really do care.

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Accept and Manage My Health

Sunday, I was recovering from feeling ill on Saturday, and so chose to pamper myself with a purchase of high quality shampoo and conditioner. A broke-ass millennial, my go-to’s are usually vividly packaged sulfates.

Monday, I made the most of time in between obligations. In the midst of dogsitting, and helping another friend move, I allowed time to gather myself, listen to music, and calm down. I also enjoyed spontaneity when my brother asked me to hang out on a whim. Our evening consisted of spamming our mother with Snapchats.

Tuesday, I got through a long workday, in which I had to attend an after-work event. Usually I enjoy these trips out of the office, but today was challenging. I had a headache that started out annoying at the beginning of the day and maxed out at horrendous towards the end. Long story short, I had to call in sick to work the next day.

Wednesday, I broke down, and finally went to the doctor after a year of dealing with digestive issues, which have led to eating less, which have lead to headaches, etc. etc. Yay for body changes that smack you in the face in emerging adulthood! Time to tackle the problem.

Thursday, another doctor’s appointment. On my way to figuring out what the culprit is, and how to handle it. Ironically, the stress of tests is less horrible than the stress of the unknown. I’m relieved to be on my way to a better understanding of what I’m dealing with, and on to a treatment plan/diet that will work, rather than the guesswork I’ve been doing for the last year. I’m ready for solutions.

This week, happiness has meant starting with accepting my situation and to find solutions, rather than grinning and bearing it, my usual M.O. I’ve got to take care of me.

Naps, Food, & Embracing the Silence

On Thursday, after a successful conference, I napped for three hours. Is that a semi-sleep? I’m pretty sure I hit a REM cycle….

On Friday, I had to come to terms with the fact that, nearly 24, I cannot eat the way I used to anymore. I’ve been put out of commission by food too much to tolerate lately. Happy is hard when it’s Mutiny on the HMS Digestive System.

On Saturday, I was mulling over something a friend told me at breakfast the previous day. With children of his own in my age range, our friendship often blends with mentorship, from which I benefit from a paternal protectiveness not often found outside of the home. We met in theatre, and with a similar dark and off-kilter sense of humor, became fast friends. At breakfast, he told me I differed from others in that I had found the comfort in silence, elaborating on the observation that I am comfortable wherever I go, in my own company. On the way home from working at the theatre that evening, I decided to literally find comfort in the silence, and turned my car radio off.

The effect was surprising. Nighttime, the lights popped out from their black backdrop, and the music playing out of cars passing by sounded like sonar humming past my ears. The moon caught my attention, its recent fullness now waning, but the remainder glowed bright white. My thoughts didn’t quiet down for long, but their intensity was quelled briefly by being sucked from pop music distraction into the present moment.

It was rewarding to turn off the noise for a drive. Maybe with practice, I’ll be able to tune in and out of the noise in my head as well.

Make the Most of Moments

These last three days have been far more busy than I had originally anticipated. I’ve been cast in a new show, and rehearsals started this week. Choosing happy these last three days has meant taking moments to absorb the present, and simply breathe.

Monday I physically felt horrible. After the previous day of cleaning and moving, I was sore, and had a headache with admirable persistence. In between things, I took a moment to do some light yoga, specifically poses with headache reducing effects, curated conveniently from YouTube. I avoid medication when I can, not because I don’t believe in it, but because I try to live by moderation. I breathed, and stretched, and fortunately reduced my headache enough to be functional, and even eventually enjoy the day, mustering up the gumption to visit with one of my close friends in the evening to wind down.

Tuesday was Day One of rehearsals past the initial read-through, which followed a full day of work, used to its fullest extent, as my office was in preparations for our annual conference. After a full day, on my way home from the theatre, I noticed the moon, hazed with orange, a bleak reminder of the wildfires in neighboring states, ash dying the air like a macabre Holi. Walking up to my house, I looked up at the moon again, whose face had cleared by winds, now brightly white, the ash now a halo pigmented with ombre hues of red, orange and pale yellow. In spite of the sinister implications, I couldn’t help but admire the ironic beauty of the scene. It served as a reminder that we are far closer to each other than we often realize, the wreckage from miles away drifting into my local lungs.

Wednesday, another busy day at work, and another rehearsal. While driving to rehearsal in the early evening, I felt guilty for neglecting my blog, and briefly debated whether or not I would inevitably let myself down. I briefly thought about abandoning the blog, questioning whether or not I’d be able to maintain momentum, or insight, if the quality of my writing would even be worth the read. Then I remembered the initial goals of the blog, specifically the goal to combat my tendency towards perfectionism. What was I doing at that very moment? Criticizing myself for disobeying the rules I had crudely assigned for myself. Why? This exploration of happiness was meant to be fun, to help me be more conscious of my own choices. By this point, I’d noticed simply writing on a regular basis made me happier. And, making the choice to be happy each day forced me to think about my needs as a priority, not as something to put aside in favor of “more important” tasks, or to demote next to someone else’s well-being. Truthfully, remembering to even take a moment to ground myself, simply because it made me feel good, was already making a difference, even if these moments only lasted a matter of seconds.

Upon realizing that I should continue the blog, if for no one else but myself, I gazed out my driver’s window to see the edge of a rainbow, and eager for a stoplight, I took a longer look to discover it was full, framed edge to edge by my window-frame. I took this universally hopeful symbol as a sign that I had made the right decision.

Clean a Crawl-Space

When I awoke, it was nearly noon, and a calendar alert chimed on my phone– “Help K. Move.” This was the final hurrah, the last weekend to help my friend reinvent herself in her new home, no small feat for a woman with the remains of what was once a very full nest to sort out. A week ago we moved boxes enough to fill a 5×7 storage locker to the brim with supplies for the theatre, and now we needed to clear out the rest of the house.

Assuming I’d be the only one there, I knew I was in for a doozy. So I strapped on my Keds, wore some beat-up skinny jeans, and a loose tank, ate some leftover pizza for breakfast and drove over. An enormous moving truck was sitting outside, a 20 foot dumpster in her driveway. Overdue by nearly 15 years, this was the purge.

I parked and walked towards the house, reassuringly packed with our theatre tribe. It was a relief and inspiring all at once. One member even brought his three sons, ranging from 12 to 23, all sweet hearted boys.

We all tackled the house, taking assignments from the President of our Board of Directors like we do at the theatre: upstairs, downstairs, new place, Goodwill. We were all in and out of the house in synchronization, placing things according to their next destination.

I was assigned the downstairs, which my group completed all except for the laundry, and the crawl space. I went upstairs to have some lunch and water, and asked my friend’s sister, “So what’s the ruling on the crawl-space?” Her tiny body retracted all it was made of in horror, “The crawl-space?” She shuddered, “I am NOT going in there, that’s all of her ex’s old stuff and I will not touch it. Ohmygod dead things must be in there, that stuff’s been sitting so long.” Clearly prone to her own kind of dramatics in parallel to her sister, I texted K. “Crawl-space?” She said “All of it’s garbage.”

“I’m on it.”

I shouted up the stairs to the second floor, where our group had migrated since the other half was on their way to move her in to the new place. “Hey! I’m heading downstairs to the crawl-space, so if you don’t hear from me in a while, check.”

“The crawl-space?!” Her sister shouted, “You’re NUTS.”

And off I went. Grabbing a pair of working gloves off the kitchen counter on my way down. I started to pull things over the edge of the space, clearing out the initial loose items, boxes of mugs, camping gear, tarps, and then came across far more heavy boxes that couldn’t be pulled. I’d have to climb up into it.

I shrugged, “No dead things so far.”

I vaulted myself over the crawlspace wall with the help of a sturdy shelf, and landed into a mesh of small tan stones. I’m not very familiar with crawl-space lingo, but an accurate description came from the 12-year-old, “It looks like a giant cat litter box,” which he articulated upon finding me contorted in the basement.

“What are you doing down here? Or, I mean, up there?” He asked.

“No one else can do it, so I’m doing it,” I explained simply. He looked at me like I was crazy.

“Can I help?” his little voice a hopeful squeak.

“Sure thing! Can you grab some garbage bags?”

And off he scampered upstairs only to come down waving a bag through the stagnant basement air making “swoosh” sounds. “Here you go!”

He held the bag while I shoved the garbage of yesteryear down into it. What took more doing were rotted Craftsman tools, apparently from the distant past, the box they were housed in eaten through and broke upon lifting, tools scattering into the litter box. But with his moral support, sense of humor, and ability to make it up and down stairs in lightning speed, the litter box was cleared, and I managed to fit it all right into the dumpster.

As I walked through the house, the walls emptying in stages, I noticed a penciled growth chart of K’s two sons scratched on the wall by the foyer. I took a picture. ‘Something she’ll want to keep.’ Her life has been the definition of chaos this last year, and something like that I wasn’t sure if she’d remember that she’d want it in this last minute rush of a short-sale.

I stopped to reflect on the day, all the objects that summed up her life in this house. All the objects that were donated, or just thrown away, once bore memories, memories meaningful enough to squirrel away in hiding places, lacking feasible use, but still retaining an essence too great to throw away, maybe even saved for another generation. It occurred to me why, in addition to the chaos, my friend had waited so long to let us in to help, this outcome impending for the last year. Emptying her house, every nook and cranny made bare, is seeing my friend at her most vulnerable, her house the expression of her living heart. This was the place she made a home and reared her boys with limited help, the place she kept a home for them to return to when they flew the nest, the empty nest she filled with homeless animals. This was the place now to be flipped over and emptied, gallons of water dumped all at once into a mason jar.

Happy today meant tackling the crawl-space, the cavity of the basement with all his things. Things I could touch without cringing. Things I could throw away with no remorse. The memories rising from the dank dark into consciousness, for me only dust.

 

 

Line Dancing & the Flip Side of Happy

The bar was packed with women– not one, but three bachelorette parties were taking place simultaneously. Mini-veil hair accessories, and a hot pink cowgirl hat with tulle in the back could be spotted bouncing in the crowd, penis-straws spotted in the occasional cocktail denoting friends of the soon-to-be brides.

Of two women in my company, one is single, and the other has mingled, being in a relationship that is close to being ‘official.’ I’m single, and happy. I wouldn’t say I’m not looking– I can’t stand it when people say ‘it will happen when you stop looking,’ because it’s over-simplistic, and sounds like it’s better to not know, or even to deny what you want, so you can invariably ignore it, and then it will just pop into your life inconveniently or by accident. However, the essence of the advice stands, and that is to accept my status, and live my life without postponing things I want to do, or who I want to become while waiting for this dream man.  For instance, I used to want to dance more, dated a man who danced, he dumped me, but I kept dancing!

My single friend is less than at ease with her status. In spite of being soft-spoken about her status, it is over-apparent to the rest of the world, in her coy demeanor and actions. I speak openly about my life, as it’s cathartic for me to let my friends in to alleviate the feelings of being alone in my challenges, if not also because it bears the benefit of giving others permission to open up, which it has in the past, to find that solidarity and catharsis for themselves in me.

I let the line dancing be my challenge for the evening, being more uniform than swing, with less room for error. Each time I managed to get a dance nearly seamless by the end, we’d high-five and move on to the next one. I felt awesome. In spite of my jagged missteps accompanied by the occasional smoothly braided grapevine, I was in my favorite pair of jeans, and cowgirl boots, my hair up in  high-pony, read to sweat.

“IF YOU’RE IN A BACHELORETTE PARTY, MAKE SOME NOISE!!!”

We stared at each other, and laughed awkwardly. I could tell this bothered her. Shortly after the third time during the night that we couldn’t “make some noise” we called it a night, mostly because it was nearly 1:00am, and we had been dancing for the last four hours. But, I couldn’t help but notice the expression on her face had changed. She doesn’t usually show distress. She’s an educator, and keeps her negative emotions concealed expertly. Tonight was different. She’s a little older than I am, and last night must have distressed her more than I anticipated it would. It occurs to me now in reflection that she even suggested, jokingly, that we leave in favor of an event in what looked like a circus tent nearby.

We aren’t close friends, and I’m really only now getting to know her in the last couple months, in spite of knowing of each other for the last 9 years. She’s starting to make more sense to me as time goes on. I hope she opens up to me, or to someone she feels safe with about her un-pretty emotions. But, tonight she helped me see, externally from myself, the flip-side of happy.

I was able to enjoy these humorously endearing bachelorettes because I’ve found peace in being single, which was not the case a few months ago, or ever before that. That peace comes from a few factors that take consistent work to keep at the forefront of my thoughts. My peace comes from (a) knowing what I want in a relationship, which means that when I turn a man away, it’s my own choice, and that when he leaves, it’s not rejection, it’s a bullet dodged, because if he doesn’t want me romantically, I shouldn’t want him either; (b) knowing I can live a happy life full of adventure without a man’s romantic company, because I’m acting on those choices and living that life right now, and (c) my faith in knowing I’ll meet him when the time is right, when he and I are both ready to create a life with each other.

After a conversation with a psychic stranger that happened serendipitously earlier in the day, I was told I’d meet him once I’ve embraced my own power, my power to assert myself, my power to be fully myself wherever I go and with whomever I accompany. For the first time yesterday, I truly felt he was waiting for me. I don’t know where he is, or what he looks like, or even when I’ll meet him, but I know that he’s there, and that I need to work on myself more before I meet him, even though I don’t know when, or how long it will take.

I’ve come to peace with the idea that I may not get the chance to have children, which I’ve been told is cynical for my age, but it’s not. In fact, it’s been incredibly helpful in taking the pressure off. If I’m meant to bear biological children, I will, if I am meant to pursue other options, I’ll feel the inclination intuitively to do that, if I am meant to make the world my child, as in contribute a non-human project to add to the multitude of human efforts to progress existence to a better place, I will. My contribution to the world, whether the product of my relationship with a man, or the product solely of my own heart, will be the product of love, with or without a romantic partner.

I hope my friend can find this peace within herself, as it’s the only way it can be found. Words are only words until we feel. I’m relieved I’ve tackled these uncomfortable questions by the young age of 23, and didn’t let the opinions of others stymie my coming to terms with the unknown. I have to work on maintaining my peace, it’s a project every day, but at least it’s intellectually available. Moving the peace to my heart takes work, but at least I have the means to try.

The flip-side of happiness is that happiness can only be achieved, it seems, when what is making one unhappy is addressed, completely acknowledged, felt and overcome with a change of mind and heart. If only it didn’t sound so simple.

 

Go Swing Dancing!

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Finally, Friday. After a gratifying day at work, I tepidly looked forward to an evening of swing dancing. When the time came, like most with a leaning towards introversion, it took some doing to jazz myself up for the evening, but once I had rolled up my white dress shirt’s sleeves, and tied the tails at the waist in a knot, I felt instantly sexy, and instantly ready to enjoy myself. All it took was a little retro glamour and some winged-tip eyeliner.

I arrived downtown early, and took some time to sit on a city bench on a bridge. The moon hung over the river, glowing white, and trickling down into the water. After placing myself in the present moment, I approached the theatre.

I tentatively stepped into a darkened foyer that led into a hall, dimly lit by a popcorn machine. Beyond the dark were double doors that led into another concert room. I looked for a way upstairs, as that was where I needed to be. I was directed to the end of the hallway, where I found a greeter in a bright red vintage uniform, and an elevator emblazoned with an Art Deco design, “1926.” I was told the password to get into the Speakeasy, and was sent to the third floor.

As if synchronized, the elevator opened and my jaw dropped. The reception to the speakeasy was glowing bright reds and golds, relics from the 1920s scattered lovingly on end tables, couches the femininely curvy aesthetic from a beautiful and tumultuous time, heavy port red curtains cascaded from high windows. As the uniformed staff, in glitzy flapper dresses and sharply cut velvet jackets welcomed me, I felt rude to be speechless in return. I apologized awkwardly, and was directed to my table.

The Rockabilly band had already started, and they were electric! The band was costumed in their 1950s and ’60s throwbacks, while the dance floor was a blend of eras, ages, and nationalities. It was a beautiful sight to behold. Awkward young ones new to swing, and new to courting, coo’d sweet ‘oopses’ to their partners, elderly couples letting completely loose, low kicks and twirls, bright smiles glowing with old memories and present happiness. Everyone was dressed up, some to the eights, and some to the nines! Some in hoop skirts, others in flapper dresses, and the men looked dapper in shirts and ties, some in vests, and even oxfords and winged-tip shoes.

I sipped on the signature Prohibition Red, one of my two required items with no cover charge to see the band– and what a sweet deal that was! Later I followed it with a classic dirty martini– don’t forget the bleu cheese stuffed olives.

Between dancing, I chatted with friends old and new, five fantastic people. We all have our unique crazy, we’re artists, and we accept each other, one of the most genuine acts of love. I danced with my girlfriends, my guyfriends, and new friends, laughing and tripping and spinning on the dancefloor.

A new friend I’ve made in the recent weeks reminded me the importance of forgetting the oppressive ‘how’ in dancing. Our first dance, I felt stiff, and afraid to disappoint him, he a born dancer. Afterwards, when I voiced my lack of proper steps he reassured me that proper steps were over-rated. Our next dance was the exact opposite, the gentle reminder to relinquish control all I needed to lighten my touch on his hands, and let him gently angle my wrist in the direction of a spin, the movements coming naturally to the beat of the music. I shook my hips and raised my arms above my head, like a scene from Dirty Dancing, barely able to withhold the same chutzpah in a public place.

This community of dancers more than welcomed us. With a deceptively young twinkle in his eye for a man in his fifties, one patron enthusiastically approached us saying, “You two were a joy to watch!” And, upon formal introduction, he inquired as to what dance we had been doing, “Was that the Jitterbug or the Lindy Hop?” We laughed, it was apparent we knew the basics, but tonight we had been overwhelmingly making it up as we went along. He smiled broadly, generously adding “Well you two are great! Hope to keep seeing you around!” As the night wore on, everyone in that Speakeasy was on the same page, the audience whooping and hollering decibels inspired by liquid and unified courage.

“God, I love humans,” I whispered as we sat at our table, sipping our reds. “Yeah?” He asked, seeming to already understand. I crescendoed, “I love them so much that I HATE them when they hurt each other.” He laughed, endeared at my passion. He nodded. Breathy, I sighed, “When I can’t dance anymore, I’m gonna be the old lady sitting in that corner, sipping my martini, enjoying everybody.”